Exercise Tutorials Flexibility/Recovery Strength Training

This is How I Roll

I like to treat myself to a massage three times a week, and not just an absent-minded shoulder rub. I’m talking about a deep tissue, muscle relaxing, performance-enhancing massage. Sounds heavenly, right? Where do I find the time and resources to indulgence myself like that? I’ll share my secret with you…This is self-massage and it’s free with a foam roller. This is such an easy way to treat our bodies right, not only with extra TLC but potentially by promoting healing and recovery.

What is foam rolling and how does it help?

Using a foam roller, or for more precise targeting, a lacrosse ball, apply low pressure by rolling in a long smooth motion across different muscle groups. This action massages the fibrous layer of connective tissue (the myofascial tissue) that surrounds the muscles. By massaging this tissue and smoothing out any knots and binding, we increase blood flow which helps with recovery and increases range of motion.

When should I foam roll?

In a perfect world, foam roll before and after each work out. I like to hit the tight spots coming into a workout. My top three restricted areas are my calves, quads, and upper back. Even with a standing desk, I find my ankles could use a little more mobility after a day at the office. I’ll get a fine looking squat with a little more movement in my joints. So many movements in my daily life are quad dominant so they get knotted up easily and affect my hip flexor mobility and lower back. Sometimes I use the heel of my hand or a lacrosse ball on my legs before a workout if I don’t have time for a full foam roll session. The upper back, or thoracic spine, likes a little attention after hours of phone calls, meetings, and desk fatigue. Even with good posture awareness, this area gets stuck from the occasional slouch or hunch. If I have the roller handy, a nice long roll over my upper back with my neck cradled safely in my hands, I feel all the day’s tension fall away- like water off a duck’s back.

After a workout hit all these spots again and add a nice long roll on the IT band down the side of your leg. For me, with a tricky knee, so much tension builds there and the massage of that tissue makes me a better person. Complete the roll out with the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.

How long should it take?

For a pre-workout roll, take about 5 minutes, and spend up to 15 minutes as part of a cool down. Roll at a pace of about 1 inch per second, or slower. If you hit a very tender spot, try rolling the area around that first to avoid doing any damage. A little discomfort is normal, but severe pain is not what we are going for here.

Beginner tips:

If you are new to rolling, start slowly. Ask your trainer for instructions and to check that you are hitting the sweet spots. Be sure not to aggravate anything that is already inflamed. Find a way to incorporate this into your training during a dynamic warm-up or a cooldown, or both. Take your time with it, and breathe.


Remember this is your indulgence. Your deep tissue massage. Digging deeper into a painful area can cause tissue or nerve damage, so steer clear of the “no pain, no gain” mentality. If you listen to your muscles and the myofascial tissue surrounding them, you want to hear them take a little breath and then sigh out a sweet, “Thank you for taking care of me.”

Exercise Tutorials Flexibility/Recovery Strength Training

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness: DOMS

We just returned from a two-day adventure around Penobscot Bay. The winds and skies were varied and we adjusted our course accordingly. Day one was a smooth ride around the south side of Vinalhaven, where our hardest decisions were regarding snack management and music choices. In the evening we explored our anchorage, read books, and watched the shooting stars. After a calm night and placid morning the wind picked up and our sail home was sporty and challenging. It was quite a romp across the bay for the quick return to Rockland Harbor. Day one was filled with subtle sail trim and a few bow maneuvers. Day two had a lot more action, quick decision making, but still enough time to think about a few things. I started thinking about cause and effect that is obvious in sailing. When you trim the sail, move the tiller, or gybe the main you get instant feedback from the boat, you know what is going to happen and there is an immediate outcome. In contrast this is not the case this week at the gym for a lot of people.

I heard and saw countless stories of the dreaded Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) after this and last week’s workout. DOMS has a way of sneaking up on you long after your workout. It can begin anywhere from 6-8 hours after exercise to 24-36 hours later. This is nothing like the immediate response of a well trimmed sail. DOMS is pretty mysterious. Several studies try to pinpoint cause and variables of severity with inconsistent findings. Let’s just say it is a scientific perfect storm in our muscles perhaps a result of metabolic stress, trauma, and other factors. Despite the inconclusive findings, there are a few things we know about DOMS.

For many people DOMS occurs after a hard workout, with new exercises or a particular challenge. Anything beyond one’s normal range of intensity can cause soreness. (Always seek medical attention if you suspect an acute injury or something serious.) In particular we experience this type of soreness after a series of eccentric exercises. The eccentric phase of a lift occurs when a muscle contracts when lengthening, for example the downward motion of a biceps curl. Eccentric training is where we achieve our greatest muscle growth, so we certainly don’t want to skip it, and it makes sense it would hurt the most.

Things to know about DOMS:

  • Everyone experiences DOMS differently: onset, duration, intensity.
  • The severity of DOMS is not necessarily a reflection of how hard you worked.
  • The severity of DOMS is not a testimony of your strength or lack of it or your fitness level.
  • DOMS will decrease as your muscles adapt to the same motion. (subsequent weeks will hurt less)
  • It is impossible to avoid DOMS, even for competitive athletes.
  • The best thing to do for DOMS is to keep moving, gently.

While inconclusive as to whether or not it helps, it is best to stay hydrated and well rested, do a full dynamic warm-up, and stretch and foam roll after a workout.

I always get excited when I see “tempo” written on the board. I know I’m going to get some good work in with anything that has this kind of directive. These tempos remind us to slow down on the negative, the lengthening motion, and not just let our muscles fall with gravity. By doing this we are maximizing our gains from the movement. Unlike adjusting a sail, I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to experience after I’ve done 10 reps of a dumbbell incline bench press with a 1 up, 3 down tempo.. And personally this never hits until 36 hours later. Sometimes I’ll go to get out of bed, and I will wonder how I managed to get myself under a turf roller and home again without waking up in the middle of the night. Then I’ll remember I didn’t sleep walk and get rolled over, I just have sore muscles from the gym two evenings ago.

So while you are wobbling a little this week, and putting things on close surfaces with your t-rex arms, take solace in knowing your muscles are strengthening; you’re not the only one; and it will get better even though you didn’t see this coming.

Flexibility/Recovery Motivational Personal Development Strength Training

Brick Foundation for Strength Training

Last night we got to do barbell bench presses and I remembered my first time doing them- again an intimidating exercise when it’s new. Historically these have a very masculine appeal and are not very ladylike. So the first time I did them I looked at the bar over my head and had a little chat with it making a deal that I would guide it down nice and steady to my sternum and that its job was to return safely back to the rack on my exhale. Just using the bar seemed like a big deal, almost suffocating in a certain way. Well here I am into my 2nd year of bench pressing and without hesitation I load up the bar and do some reps. (I still have my little chat with each set, just so we know we are on the same page.) It’s fun; it’s challenging; I’m sweating, and maybe even a little grunt escapes from my chest on the final rep. But I still remember when it was just the bar and how heavy that was at the time. It wasn’t just that it was heavy- it was that it was new and unfamiliar- my body didn’t really have a script for that movement. The closest thing might have been tossing my son up into the air with a giggle and catching him on the way down when he was a toddler, but I probably stopped doing that long before he was 45 pounds, and that was nearly 20 years ago. So the foundation was weak or nonexistent, but now, over time, brick by brick, I’ve built a solid foundation and can set the barbell moving without delay.

It’s good to remember this progression when it comes to exercise and strength training. Each movement no matter how small is another brick in the foundation of our strength. I often hear people lamenting their modifications during a new exercise or while recovering from an injury, a break, or illness. “I hate that I can’t do a full lunge, squat, jump, curl, press, etc.” I remind them how important this time is for their bodies and for learning or relearning a movement, to get programmed and to create proper form for safety and longevity. Each modified curl is still a curl. The smaller or more basic the move, the better we are creating proper form, and training our bodies so we can add complexity, increase range of motion, and add weight to our lifts as we progress.

It’s important to do what we can and recognize our own biomechanics. This might change from day to day- our hip flexors might be tight one day and another we are able to drop into a deep squat. When we modify a movement to adjust for these changes we leave judgement at the door and celebrate our self-knowledge, exercise safely and get a more effective workout.

When modifying, use the cues from the instructors and think about the purpose of the exercise and what movement patterns are included. Choose a modification that addresses the same muscle group and works toward this same purpose. When you are ready to add a challenge you can choose to increase your efforts when it feels right.

My challenge to you this week is not to see a modified exercise as “less than” but rather as its own valuable movement. We are layering our foundation of strength- brick by brick.

Exercise Tutorials Flexibility/Recovery Strength Training

Floor-play for Strength and Mobility

Remember the feeling of complete abandon rolling down a grassy hill as a kid? I love the memory of those moments – full of glee, completely carefree. Put me at the top of a hill and prompt me to roll down today, I might think twice about injury, or even if I would know how to actually roll effortlessly to the bottom. Not that we have lots of opportunities to roll down hills, but moving effortlessly enhances so many other activities like playing on the floor with children or puppies, gardening, kayaking, tent camping, beach combing, and more.
Here’s where Floor-play Friday comes in. I’m so excited about my new Friday morning routine. This is one of my workout at home days, and I want to use the time filling in some of the gaps I don’t fill at the gym. One of my goals when I started working out at Hybrid was to increase my mobility. I read an article about a “sit down, stand up test” study that gauges our longevity by measuring our ability to move from the floor to a standing position. The premise is that as we move from a cross-legged seated position to a standing position, we assess our musculoskeletal fitness and deduct a point for each time we use a limb to assist. The fewer assists, the higher the score. The higher the score, the more mobility we have. And finally, the more nimble we are, the better we age and insure our autonomy in our later years. So one thing I check on Floor-play Friday is how nimble I am by taking into account my flexibility, balance, motor coordination, and muscle power.
The test is simple, if you’d like to try: From a standing position, lower yourself to the floor into a cross legged seated position without using your hands, arms, or knees to slow your descent. Then stand back up without using your hands, arms, knees to boost you, if possible.
The moment of truth…how is your get up and go? You might find that over the years you have adopted a way of getting up and down that compensates for an injury or imbalance. The good news is with a little practice and simple awareness you can probably increase your score by one or two points right out of the gate. I would guess that many of us have gained points since we started Hybrid, and if you are looking to gain a few more, my top four exercises for this are the squat, the plank, forward lunges, and the superman. Lucky for us, we do those at the gym. But what else can we do on Floor-play Friday to help us ace this test?
As an infant, it took us about a year to master the get up and go. We first learned to sit up, and then to crawl, and finally to walk. Breaking down our movements into deliberate, simple sequences we can master this again with strength and fluidity. I break down Floor-play into two categories: a planned, controlled sequence and a free form session.
The controlled sequence is the Turkish Get Up. In this exercise we move from floor to standing while balancing a weight overhead. It is total body exercise that improves mobility, stability, balance, and flexibility. I do a few on each side (I notice one side is more challenging than the other), and feel my entire core muscles firing throughout.

My free form session includes natural ground movements with little to no impact, but great benefits. I make up my own movements combined from Floor-play sessions I’ve done in other workout classes that include rolling, rocking, stretching, arching, lunging, squatting, engaging everything from toes to fingertips, creating a sequence connecting one movement to the next from sitting to standing and back again with fluidity. I notice my hip flexors opening, my core stabilizing, and an ease of getting up and down from the floor. Rotating my knees from side to side while on my back provides a gentle flex of the spine and feels like a massage of my lower back. I might rock from a child’s pose to a cobra, and roll back up to a squat, and then move forward on to a knee and reach one arm up to the ceiling. Floor-play is about following pleasure cues; I do what feels good for my spine, my joints, and my muscles, and in the end my senses are awakened, my spine is supple, and I have a vitality to bring to my day.
I’m pretty sure if I do this for a year, I’ll master the toddler’s sit, crawl, walk, sequence like a boss, and I will be ready to roll down a grassy hill. And hopefully I’ll be nearing a perfect 10 on my get up and go score. Who’s with me?


Easy Hack For Better Sleep At Night

Good Morning!

For a long time I struggled with sleep, and it’s still something I still battle with on occasion….

However, a lot of methods that I’ve tried in the past for better sleep only worked for a short amount of time, or didn’t work at all.

I’ve tried melatonin. For me, it takes a lot of time to kick in and I don’t want to be dependent on taking anything for sleep.

I’ve tried using an acupuncture mats before bed, but I really didn’t notice an effect even after doing it consistently for 2 weeks. I was also tired of having holes in my entire body.

I’ve tried reading before bed, and that worked wonders. However, I wasn’t retaining any of the information I was reading.

Now I think I’m onto something. After trying all of those methods, this trick will not only wind you down and relax you after a long day, it will save you time in the morning before work.

The trick is – showering before bed with the lights off.

Turning all of the lights off and not being able to have access to your phone or anything other than warm water hitting your face works. The heat relaxes your body and by the time your shower is done, you’ll be dragging yourself to bed. Just make sure you’re careful and don’t slip.

If you’ve been restless at night, give this a try, and let me know how this works for you!

Have a Super Saturday!


There are only 4 spots left in our Nutrition / Personal Development Challenge, Beautiful U, beginning April 14th!

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Flexibility/Recovery Strength Training

Rest and Recovery

Rest and recovery are essential parts of our self-care routine and critical to our overall performance. Most of us know that we need to rest after a long week or a big event, but many of us are still figuring out how to manage the rest and recovery of a workout schedule. Last week dead lifts came back to the gym routine. I’m glad we do them at the end of the week so I can recover over the weekend. Those big movements always zap me. But dead lifts aren’t the only thing that we need to recover from; we should be recovering after each workout. We hear consistent messages about getting to the gym, pushing ourselves, and the virtue of hard work. These are good motivating messages, but sometimes they eclipse part of the self-care picture. My challenge is turning off that noise and listening to my body so that I can maximize my efforts. Invariably my body gives me the message – rest and recover. And that is exactly what I do.

I rest and recover every day.

Why is this so important?

During strength training and exercise, our bodies experience depletion of energy, loss of fluids, and muscle tissue break down. Because of how our bodies function, the work we are doing to get strong happens outside the gym just as much as it does at the gym. Physiologically, rest days and recovery time give the body time to repair, rebuild, and strengthen, and the repaired tissue is stronger than the original muscle. We also want to avoid over-use injuries. It is hard for me to imagine skipping a day at the gym, but I can’t imagine the pain of being sidelined for weeks or even months, especially if it is avoidable.

The second half to the rest and recovery equation is psychological. No one wants to dread going to class, or have to drag themselves to the gym. If we are too tired to be excited and look forward to this week’s progression, to enjoy class, or to even get a full workout in, what is the point of going? If that keeps happening- guess what? We probably won’t stick with our workout routine. Most of us love how we feel at the gym, accomplished, empowered, energized, happy, and we don’t want to jeopardize that.

And finally, something we hear a lot about- life balance. Going to the gym is wonderful, but bringing the joy you find at the gym to the other areas of your life is enriching too. Being strong and healthy so you can enjoy time with your family, gardening, hiking, work, or other hobbies is important to all of us. If we aren’t rested we won’t have the energy to participate in any other life enriching activities and this throws us out of balance.

How do I get stronger, prevent injury, continue to enjoy my workouts, avoid burnout, and create a balanced life?

I rest and recover every day.

Here’s my strategy: Hydration > Nutrition > Stretching > Sleep > Manage Stress

Hydration: I drink at least half my body weight in oz. of water.

Nutrition: I use food as fuel to nourish and support my daily activity.

Stretching: I never miss the dynamic warm-up and static stretch cool down. Foam rolling is a welcomed bonus.

Sleep: I try for 8 hours of sleep a night, and I look forward to at least one day a week without an alarm clock.

Stress management: I pay attention to stress triggers and try to keep these to a minimum. This includes a few minutes of deep breathing in a quiet space in my home.

Here’s the bonus question: “What if I go to the gym 5 days a week, how do I rest and recover between each workout?”

Here’s my strategy: I listen to my body!

I have a few rules about working out. I never lift more than 2 days in a row, and this helps promote a natural rhythm for my body from day to day. I start every workout with a dynamic warm-up. These movements allow me to take a full body inventory so I can adjust my workout. This is my listening time. If I feel tired, or have joint pain I might opt for low impact movements. If I feel a strain, I check in with a trainer, and modify a movement or go to a lower weight and work on my form. Adapting to the messages I hear from my body is the best way to use the time at the gym to promote the next recovery. And finally, if I am sick, sleep-deprived, or hearing a “slow down” message from my body, I stay home. Progress does not mean all the time, all the way, over the top. Progress includes self care, rest, and recovery every day.

Even Hunter needs time to rest!
Exercise Tutorials Flexibility/Recovery Uncategorized

7 Exercises To Relieve Shin Pain

Shin pain, most commonly in the firm of shin splints, is one of the biggest pain areas when you workout. Learn how to limit the pain with any of these quick exercises!

In this video, Hunter Grindle of Hybrid Fitness shows you several exercises you can use in your gym or home to help keep the pain off of your shins while you workout.

Ignoring these quick exercises can cause injury to your shins, and it’s always something to look out for! —- More Training Videos, Workouts, and Content!


Flexibility/Recovery Strength Training Uncategorized

Are You HURT or Are You SORE?

You always hear people say that their legs “hurt”, their back “hurts”, etc. Are you actually just “sore”, or are you actually hurt?

In this video, Hunter Grindle of Hybrid Fitness tells you the difference between being hurt, where you are at risk of injury, or just sore, where your body is recovering.

Not knowing when you are hurt can force you to overwork muscles, which can easily lead to injury. —- More Training Videos, Workouts, and Content!


Exercise Tutorials Flexibility/Recovery Personal Development Strength Training Uncategorized

What's Your Question Wednesday #5: "How Do I Squat With Knee Pain?"

Knee injuries are one of the most common in the gym, and pain is inevitable as you get older. Learn how to work around it!

In this video, Hunter Grindle of Hybrid Fitness demonstrates how to squat if you are having pains in your knees.

Knee injuries can set you back completely in your workouts, but there are ways to squat to keep the weight and pressure off of them, and more on your thighs and glutes.

It WILL: make you more comfortable when squatting, and even STRENGTHEN your knees over time! —- More Training Videos, Workouts, and Content!


Flexibility/Recovery Uncategorized

What's Your Question Wednesday #4: "How to Treat a Pulled Muscle"

Have a pulled muscle? Here’s what you can do to make sure you don’t hurt it worse!

In this video, Hunter Grindle of Hybrid Fitness tells you how to properly heal a pulled muscle, including activities you can do to speed up the recovery process.

You must find the right balance between overworking that muscle and inhibiting it completely.

It WILL: prepare you for when the time comes that you pull a muscle of your own, which is bound to happen! —- More Training Videos, Workouts, and Content!