Ask a Trainer (Vol. II)

Hi everyone, and welcome to Ask a Trainer. Have you checked out our previous installment?

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Today we’re going to cover cleaning shaker bottles, soreness, and why a personal trainer might just be a good investment.

How can I clean my shaker bottle?

If you’re a lover of protein or meal replacement shakes like I am, than you might already have a shaker bottle. If you use these kinds of meal supplements and don’t have one, you might be doing things the hard way. They’re awesome! Anyway, a big issue with shaker bottles is their design: usually pretty tightly sealed when closed, neat shapes, and sometimes with built in mixers so your powder mixes more evenly with your liquid base (water, milk, etc.). The problem is that with all the little parts, nooks, and crannies they can be a pain to clean.You want to make sure it’s as sterile as possible, since you’ll be using it 1-2 times every day as a main food container. Not all shakers are dishwasher safe, and not all dishwashers can actually get shaker bottles completely clean.

The method I use is the “ASAP Soak and Rinse”. As soon as you’re done with your shake, at the first opportunity rinse it out with hot water to get the big residue cleaned up. Next, soak the shaker in hot, soapy water for at least 10-15 minutes while you shower (or whatever). Once you’ve done showering, rinse the shaker again to get rid of the soap and more than likely you’ll be done. Dry it off with a paper towel; don’t use a wash rag or sponge, as they hold bacteria from other cleanings. You may find that you need to do a little scrubbing to get it really clean. If so, use a sponge before you soak it in clean, soapy water. That way anything that was on the sponge before gets cleaned off during the soak and rinse.

What is Soreness?

Fun Fact: there are multiple kinds of muscle soreness that are caused by different things. Lets talk about soreness from exercise.

Exercise will naturally cause two types of muscle soreness: Acute and Delayed Onset. Both of these are examples of exercise induced muscle damage. Don’t panic, though, because this is good damage (no really!). Your body adapts based on the things it experiences, and generally will only get stronger once it’s been taxed past what it can comfortably handle. The cause of many plateaus is when the body stops adapting to stress from exercise, and needs to be fatigued in a novel way to begin adapting again. Muscle soreness is one indication that your body is being forced to adapt.

It all has to do with what you’re used to, with what comes easily and what comes only from hard work. When you lift a weight, your muscles contract in to move that weight through the range of motion for the body part(s) doing the work. This is the concentric phase, and your muscles are shortening to provide pulling power. A good, simple example is the bicep curl: contraction happens when you bend your elbow and lift the weight. This is the point at which you hit Acute Muscle Soreness (AMS). Some causes of AMS are: accumulation of waste chemicals in the muscle tissue (e.g. lactic acid), tissue swelling (i.e. “edema”) caused by increased blood flow to the muscle, and good ol’ muscle fatigue. This type of soreness generally fades after you relax and stop contracting the muscle. It can take anywhere from 2 minutes to a couple hours for the soreness to fade, depending on how intense and prolonged the contraction was.

In contrast, Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is caused by the lengthening of the muscles after a contraction. This is known as the eccentric phase of a movement, where you’re lengthening the muscle under resistance. Using our bicep curl example, this is when you’ve completed the lift and you lower the weight under control until the elbow is locked and the arm is fully extended. The eccentric phase causes small tears in the muscle fibers, called microtraumas, that the body repairs over a period of 24-72 hours. This is the “next day soreness” most people are used to. These tears are a good thing. The body rapidly allocates resources to the damaged areas in order to fix and strengthen them. This way, the next time you move that much weight you won’t do as much damage and thus won’t be as sore.

Most importantly, soreness does not mean you should stop exercising! Being sore is a side effect your body’s natural adaptation to new challenges, and indicates that you’ve been working hard enough to get stronger. While you shouldn’t work the same muscle groups every day, you can certainly split your routine to hit different muscles everyday, thus creating a 4-6 days per week routine without injuring yourself.

How does working with a Personal Trainer benefit me?

First, some honest comments from a personal trainer: Anyone can exercise on their own. Anyone can learn enough information to be effective in their workouts. Anyone can be their own motivation.

And, here’s the problem: Anyone can do it, but most people don’t. It requires a lot of Knowledge, a Dedication to staying current in the world of fitness, and a certain strength of Motivation that can be difficult to learn. Lastly, you need a good bit of Planning to make your fitness routines effective, thinking both long and short term to forge a path ahead.

Personal Trainers are not strictly necessary but they are a valuable resource for people who are lacking in one or more of the skills necessary to create a solid fitness routine. Lets take the skills one by one and show how they benefit their clients.

Knowledge: Trainers make it their job to learn everything possible about fitness, health, the human body, nutrition, resistance training, cardio training, intervals, circuits, weights, machines, supplements, muscles, bones, fat, protein….the list is actually pretty long. A good trainer will maintain a healthy amount of Knowledge, but a great trainer also has a healthy Curiosity. You can’t be great at what you do without wanting to learn more about it and adapt yourself to new and better information. This is nearly a full-time job by itself! Personally, I spend at least 15-20 hours per week learning more about fitness and health, and that’s in addition to the practical experience of teaching classes 20-30 hours every week. Most people just don’t have the time to spend learning that much information about something they don’t use more often. A trainer can be your personal, filtered encyclopedia: providing the information you need, when you need it, and not overloading you with stuff you don’t need.

Dedication: Great trainers do what they do because they believe in it. I’ve never met a great trainer who said “I do this because it’s easy”. It’s not. Planning out routines, tracking data, figuring out all the minute details of a workout sometimes months in advance is time consuming and sometimes incredibly frustrating. BUT chasing health and wellness is one of the best things you can do to make your life more satisfying, allowing you to live longer and more fully. Great trainers know this, and dedicate themselves to helping you along the path. Even if you’re unsure, a great trainer will be the push that keeps you going long term, and will completely dedicate themselves to making you healthier.

Motivation: This has a lot in common with Dedication, but is more short-term. It can be hard to get to the gym, to push yourself towards – and past – the boundaries of what is comfortable for you. Many – probably most – people don’t really know how to make themselves jump from “that was kinda hard” to “holy crap that was the hardest thing I’ve done in my life”. That’s natural; people don’t inherently take those sorts of risks when they can instead feel accomplished by trying a little less. BUT a great trainer isn’t going to let you do that. Looking at someone objectively, a trainer is going to push them as far they’re Capable of going, not just as far as they’re Comfortable going. Success is weighed against Risk; greater successes invariably come from greater risks. Comfort is the enemy of risk, and thus is a deterrent to success. Great trainers don’t let you stay comfortable.

Planning: Going along with Knowledge, planning is a key step in realizing your goals. Trainers take the burden of planning off your shoulders and place it squarely on themselves. Maybe you have a really challenging career. Maybe you have kids. Whatever you use your time for, you may not have time to sit down and plan out a 3, 6, and 12 month training regimen for yourself. A trainer makes it their job to do that for you. They take where you are, work up a clear picture of where you want to be, and then create a plan to get there. This can be hard, because people are very different, and the plan that works for John Smith will fail completely when Sally Smith tries it. A great trainer will plan, test, adjust, and repeat as many times as needed to make your workouts the most effective they can be.

Okay all, that’s it for today! Have a great week and see you next time!