Walking In Nature Reduces Stress Level, Blood Pressure, and Heart Rate

Last weekend I traveled to South Lake Tahoe, California to hike for the weekend. If you were like me and never heard of Tahoe before, then you need to set aside some vacation days and head there. Now, Tahoe isn't just for hiking and being one with nature. There are plenty of places to party and socialize including casino's, bars, and live music. So of course, I gambled, drank and stayed up all night. Even though I drank heavily and slept little, I still woke up for my morning hikes. Don't get me wrong, it was hard to wake up on five hours of sleep, but once I got outdoors, I felt my fatigue disappear. I was shocked to have high levels of energy throughout the day on such little rest. Usually, I need between seven to nine hours per night to function, but I was running on five to six hours a night. And it wasn't like I was sitting around all day doing nothing. Over the course of the weekend, I hiked three trails that collectively totaled about 20 miles. My two favorite hikes of the weekend were Mt. Tallac and Maggies Peaks. (Excuse the selfie and click through to see Tahoe's beauty.)

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Strengthen Your Core With These 11 Swiss Ball Exercises

The exercise ball, also known as the Swiss Ball, was developed in 1963 by Aquilino Cosani, an Italian plastics manufacturer. According to Wikipedia, the term "Swiss Ball" was used when American physical therapists began to use those techniques in North America after witnessing their benefits in Switzerland. And According to Dwight Schrute (my favorite character from The Office), "This ab workout is specifically designed to strengthen your core. It has numerous health benefits, strengthens your back, better performance in sports, more enjoyable sex." I agree with Dwight and the physical therapists. And so does the latest research.

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Reduce Back Pain With These 12 Bodyweight Oblique Exercises

In my previous blog post (click here), I wrote about the importance of posture and its influence on back pain. Studies have shown that an excessive lower back arch (anterior pelvic tilt) will put you at a higher risk for injury (1,2). To reduce a lower back arch, I recommended strengthening the glutes, hamstrings, and obliques. Today, I will go into greater detail about the obliques and their influence on posture. 

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Beginners Don't Need Muscle Confusion

When it comes to the body, myths tend to spread due to a simplistic view of how the body works. One of these myths is muscle confusion. In a nutshell, muscle confusion is a program that switches your workout routine on a week to week or a daily basis. The thought is that by changing your workout constantly, i.e., "confusing your muscles," you will cause muscle growth. The idea is based on progressive overload. Put simply; if you wish to become stronger, then you must stress the muscle with more stress than it can handle. After proper recovery, the stressed tissue will grow stronger and adapt to the previous stressor. For the muscle to become stronger, it will need a greater stressor, i.e., a more laborious workout routine. Muscle confusion sounds excellent on paper, but there is no need to change our method as quickly as people think, especially for beginners. 

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Core Conditioning Program

Below you will find the core conditioning program I use with my clients. The purpose of the program is to strengthen the abdominals, obliques, glutes, and hips. To do the program correctly you must perform the two movements together with minimal rest between sets. For example, you would perform a forearm plank followed by side lying straight leg hip abduction. You would then repeat this for the desired amount of sets and reps with minimal rest.

It is imperative that you only advance to the next week's sets and reps if you can complete the amount of work required. The focus should be on quality technique and not the number of repetitions. Please do not rush through the program. Take the time to master the movements and you will be rewarded with a bulletproof core. Perform the program two times per week for 8 weeks.  

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