Don’t skip the flexibility training

Flexibility training is often the most overlooked and skipped part of a workout. With so many areas to address such as core, strength and cardio conditioning, it can be difficult to fit in. However, flexibility shouldn’t be neglected, especially when you consider the benefits. Flexibility training can help improve posture, increase mobility, and produce a higher quality workout. In the past, static stretching was generally the only method used. This involved, taking a muscle to the point of tension and holding for approximately 30-60 seconds, generally done at the beginning and/or end of a workout. While static stretching is still an effective and important method to optimal flexibility, it is only a small piece of the puzzle. Flexibility has evolved and includes a variety of modalities such as, self myofascial release, active/dynamic stretching, and static stretching. So the question is how do we fit it in? By dedicating at least one session a week to flexibility or by integrating into the workout itself! Below is a description of the various flexibility methods that can be used and when it’s best to perform them.

Self-Myofascial Release (SMR): is the process of applying pressure to the muscle by using a bio-foam roller and/or a massage stick. SMR feels like a deep tissue massage and can be tender is some areas. However, when done consistently SMR becomes much easier and less painful. The purpose of SMR is to help eliminate adhesion/knot build up due to training and/or postural stress. This in turn will help improve flexibility, mobility, and joint mechanics.

To SMR, slowly roll along your muscles until a “tender point” is located. Rest on the tender point for 30-60 seconds or until there is a 75% reduction in pain felt. SMR can be done before and/or after your workout.

Active/Dynamic Stretching: is the process of using opposing muscle groups or controlled momentum to take a joint/muscle through the full available range of motion. Perform 6-10 reps per exercise/muscle group at the beginning of your workout right after SMR.

Static Stretching: is the process of passively taking a muscle to the point of tension and holding the stretch for between 20-60 seconds. Static flexibility is reserved for after a workout in most cases. However, it can be used before a workout for individuals with overly tight muscles and/or muscle imbalances. But keep in mind that static stretching prior to a workout may actually increase risk of injury in some cases! An active/dynamic warm up should immediately follow if done prior to a workout.  Perform 1-3 reps per exercise.

Workout Format

  1. Warm up: SMR & Active/Dynamic Flexibility (10-15 minutes)
  2. Strength & Conditioning (30-40 minutes)
  3. Cool Down: Static Flexibility and/or SMR (10-15 minutes)


Set up a gym at home

There are many advantages to working out at home. One, it’s convenient. Two, there’s no extra commute or having to deal with the crowds at a health club. And best of all, you don’t need to spend a fortune or add another wing to your home for a massive home gym. There are many effective fitness tools on the market right now that are fun, affordable, and require minimal space. When choosing equipment there are a few things to consider. First, are the components that go into a fitness routine. From a movement standpoint the human body is built for pushing, pulling, rotating, raising/lowering one’s center of gravity, and locomotion. Your program should consists of strength training, balance & core conditioning, and cardiovascular endurance to cover all of these movements effectively. Remembering to choose equipment that is versatile is key for setting up a successful home gym. The second thing to consider is space. While it would be nice to dedicate an entire room for a gym, sometimes we don’t have that luxury. At a minimum try to designate at least a 10′ x 10′ area. This will give you enough space to perform basic athletic drills or exercises that use resistance tubing. Last thing to consider is cost. While all of the featured fitness products below are economically appealing, by no means do you need them all to get started. Purchase products that give you more variety first, then fill in the gaps as your budget allows.

Here are some of my favorite fitness tools that will provide a killer workout and give you the most bang for your buck.

TRX Suspension Trainer: is a body weight training tool that uses suspension straps from an overhead anchor point or from a door attachment. The user can adjust the angle of their body to make exercise easier or more challenging based on their strength and fitness level. You can perform over 100 exercise with the TRX using it for strength training, cardio, balance, core, and much more. A must have for any home gym!

Resistance Tubing: is perfect for duplicating all the exercises of cable machines at the gym without the price tag or space requirements. Resistance tubing is also a great tool for rotational core & strength exercises. At a minimum you should have at least three tubes. One with light, medium, and heavy resistance.

Stability Ball or a BOSU: Not only provides many strength, balance, and core options, but you can also duplicate many of the exercises that require a bench and with more challenge!

Agility Ladder and/or Jump Rope: A great cardio workout doesn’t have to be confined to a machine, especially when working out at home! Not only will your heart get pumping with an agility ladder and/or jump rope, but both tools are perfect for improving foot speed and athleticism.

Powerblocks or Select Tech Dumbbells: an entire dumbbell set condensed into one pair! The obvious advantage is the space you save, but also you end up saving more money in the long run when you compare the cost of buying individual dumbbells. Just insert the pin or turn the dial to select your weight and your ready to rock! Many weight range options exist with both Powerblocks and Select Tech dumbbells depending on your needs. And of course adding dumbbells to your home gym will give you countless exercise options for both strength and cardio!

Medicine Balls: are a great tool for core conditioning and for power exercises that require throwing. If you play any rotational sports like golf, tennis, or baseball, medicine balls are great for you’re looking adding some power to your game.

Jason Wanlass, owner of Monster Personal Training & Athletic Conditioning has more than 15 years of experience in the fitness industry.  Contact him at or

10 Steps to Making 2016 Your Best Year

If you’re like most people, it’s the same scenario every year.  The best intentions of resisting the holiday temptations are now a foggy memory. Often clouded by a month full of countless parties where over indulgence is the norm. But fear not! The New Year is just weeks away.  As the calendar turns our resolve comes rushing back!  It’s the opportunity for redemption that we embrace every year.  However, the drive to make this year different can quickly fade if our goals are too generalized. Instead of falling back into the same rut by spring, take the time now to dig a little deeper and develop a game plan for year long success.  Outlined below are 10 tips to guide you towards looking and feeling your best in 2016…and years beyond!


January rolls around and everybody wants to get into shape. But to have a successful year, saying “I want to lose weight” is not enough.

Goals need to be focused and realistic. A common acronym for goal setting is SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, reward-based and with a timeframe.

“I want to lose 20 pounds by June 1, and then I will get myself that new swimsuit” – this is a great example of a SMART goal.

Not only does it cover each component, but it is realistic as well. Since the recommended range for permanent weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds per week, a goal of losing 20 pounds in 5 months is honest and very achievable.


French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupry said it best: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

Include five steps with each corresponding goal for the coming year. Steps should relate directly to your goals. Here’s how it looks using our weight-loss example:

SMART Goal: Lose 20 pounds by June 1

First action step: Get a gym membership in January.

Second action step: Do 45 to 60 minutes of cardio on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Third action step: Do strength training on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Fourth action step: Eat 4 to 6 small healthy meals/snacks per day.

Fifth action step: Drink 10 to 12 cups of water every day.


I always tell my clients it’s no coincidence that individuals who have the body we desire also happen to be in phenomenal shape.

Notice how the action steps stated earlier are mostly fitness related. The weight-loss journey can be an emotional rollercoaster; if getting in great shape becomes the primary focus, your body will be forced to conform. So, for every body image goal, include at least one to two fitness-related goals, too.


Giving your workouts a greater purpose, such as training for activities outside of the gym, can help you stay on track. It’s easy to skip a workout if you lack a specific purpose, but if a marathon or an intense ski trip are lurking around the corner, odds are you’ll stay focused on the goal and be consistent with your workouts.


Once you accomplish a goal, establish a new one in its place to stay on the path to success. For example, let’s say you successfully ran a 5k in March. The next step could be running a 10k in June or another 5k with the goal of a faster time. Take time every two to three months to monitor your progress and determine if you need to modify any existing goals or add a new one.


Too many times when changes are made in our diet, we dwell on what we can’t eat. Reverse your mindset and focus on what you can eat – and how you can make that taste great. Examples would include good carbs like whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean meats like fish and poultry. Also, cut out the pop and remember to drink lots of water every day.

For more nutrition information, check out The Harvard School of Public Health Web site: It’s a great resource to help you make the switch to a healthy lifestyle.


There are always going to be bumps in the routine – the flu bug hits, in-laws pop into town, vacations, crazy work week, etc. Exercise doesn’t have to be all or none. You should have an “ideal” weekly structure to follow and a “minimum” exercise plan for weeks that are hectic or when you are just getting started.


This can be great for motivation and consistency. There is an accountability factor that goes with partnership and a tendency to work a little harder when someone is there to push you. It is critical that you pick someone that is a motivator, not an enabler.


The International Health and Fitness organization reports that 75 percent of people who exercise are not getting the results they want, but out of the 25 percent of people who are, 90 percent work with a personal trainer.

Hiring a professional takes the guess work out of what it takes to get the best workout. And working with a personal trainer isn’t limited to the rich and famous. Most training facilities offer a range of options that accommodate personal needs without breaking the budget.


It may sound cliche, but remember you are in this for the long haul. A little of something each day is better than a whole lot of nothing. Vow to make just small, steady changes to your health habits in 2010 and stick to them – think of how great you’ll feel when 2016 rolls around.


Got balance

There are numerous reasons to participate in a fitness program. For some of us it may be to lose a few pounds and have more energy, while others may simply want better overall health. As a result, most of us follow a program that consists of a combination of strength training and cardiovascular conditioning. And justifiably so! There are many physical benefits to both and they should be a major part of every fitness routine. However, one important area that often gets overlooked is balance. Balance enables a person to maintain their center of gravity during movement and in stationary positions. This can be the case during a sporting event or in simple day to day activities. Also, improving balance can help increase joint stability, improve posture, and increase overall strength. And even better, it’s easy to work into your existing routine! But before diving right in, there are three things we need to remember when training for better balance.

First, exercises should challenge your limit of stability. In other words, the distance outside of your base of support without losing control of your center of gravity. Second, is maintaining core engagement and postural control. Postural deviations are often exaggerated if the challenge is too demanding. At any point during the exercise if you cannot maintain good posture, core engagement, or control your base of support, modify to an easier option. Last, remember balance exercises require a slower speed of movement and should be executed with less weight. Besides going a little slower can tax the muscles effectively as well!

Here is a description of basic balance exercises and strength training moves with a balance component.

Single Leg Balance: Stand with tall posture and contract your core muscles. Slowly lift one leg 4-6 inches off of the ground while maintaining balance and posture. Balance for 1 minute and repeat on the opposite leg. For added challenge try it with a ½ foam roller, BOSU, or airex pad.

Lateral Hops: Begin by balancing on your right leg. Stand with tall posture with your right knee and hip slightly flexed. Engage your core muscles and hop sideways towards your left leg. Focus on landing softly and sinking into the landing by flexing your knee and hip. The goal is to hop from side to side without losing balance. Remember to stay within a distance that you can control and pause with each landing for at least 2 seconds. Perform 10 reps each direction.

Reverse Lunge with Balance: Begin by balancing on your right leg with your left leg elevated about 4-6 inches off of the ground. Step back with your left leg and slowly lower your hips towards the floor by flexing at your knees and hips. Maintain tall posture and lower your body until your right thigh is about parallel to the floor. Return to the starting position by extending your right hip and knee and slowly raising the left leg back into the balance position. Repeat for 10-15 reps before switching sides.

Stability Ball Chest Press: Begin by lying on a stability ball while holding a pair of dumbbells. Keep your head, neck, and shoulders in alignment with the rest of your body. With your knees bent at 90 degrees, slowly raise your hips until they are parallel to the floor. Now fully extend your arms above your chest, shoulder width apart, with your palms facing towards your legs. Slowly lower the dumbbells to either side of your body until the the dumbbells are to about chest level with your arms bent at 90 degrees. Return your arms to the starting position and repeat for 10-15 repetitions. If you are uncomfortable balancing on a stability ball, modify the exercise by using a BOSU trainer.

Single Leg Bicep Curl/Shoulder Press Combo: Begin by balancing on your right leg, standing with tall posture and holding a pair of dumbbells. With your palms facing in, perform a bicep curl by flexing at your elbows. Now, slowly raise your arms overhead by extending while maintain balance. Slowly lower your arms back into the starting position by reversing the movement. Repeat for 10 repetitions and switch legs. If more challenge is desired, try performing the exercise on a ½ foam roller, BOSU, or airex pad.

Fitness events take focus off weight-loss frustration


What do you think is the No. 1 reason people begin an exercise program? You guessed it—to lose weight.

That is a legitimate goal, but it’s important that your fitness routine addresses more than weight issues. Weight loss can be an emotional roller coaster, and many people aren’t willing to stay on a plan for the long haul.

We need to shift our focus and have a greater purpose to our workouts for long-term success. One of the best approaches is to train for a fitness event. It could be anything from running your first half marathon to taking up cross-country skiing. As long as it’s an activity you find enjoyable and is within the realm of physical fitness, you are on the right track.

Changing to a fitness-first approach makes the process of getting into shape a positive one. The scale can have you jumping for joy one day and crying the next, but the exhilaration of crossing the finish line at Camel’s Back Duathlon or conquering Robie Creek is something that will stay with you forever.

Besides, more often than not, the pounds will come off as a result of your training. So in addition to creating good memories and getting into fabulous shape, you become lean and mean in the process.

Here are three tips to getting started on your fitness quest:

1. YOU ARE ALWAYS READY: Does this sound like you? “I need to get into better shape before I can do that.” Quite the contrary! At any given fitness event, there will be a range of participants with various fitness levels. You don’t have to be an elite athlete to participate.

So set the goal. You will get ready in the training process. Where do you want to take your training after that? Well, as they say, the sky’s the limit.

2. CHOOSE AN EVENT: This may seem obvious, but too often this simple step continually gets put off. Until you make the commitment and actually sign up, it’s only an idea. After you register, you will have an official training deadline. You will be less likely to skip workouts because you’ll want to do your best for the big event.

3. RECRUIT YOUR FRIENDS: Why do it alone when you can have buddies be a part of the process? There is added accountability and a tendency to strive for better results when you have the positive support of your friends. Plus, people create a special bond when they sweat together, and you will just have more fun!

Jason Wanlass, the owner of Monster Personal Training & Athletic Conditioning in Meridian, has more than 15 years’ experience in the fitness industry and is a Fitness Columnist for the Idaho Statesman. Contact him at or

Feed your need for speed with these athletic drills

Speed and power anyone?

Many of us enjoy watching athletes perform amazing physical feats. Whether it’s Usain Bolt screaming down the track during the Olympic Games or Serena Williams hitting a rocket serve at Wimbledon, we can’t help but marvel at their athleticism.

The fact is, many of us are athletes at heart. And we can use some of the training methods the pros use to improve our overall fitness.

Incorporating athletic drills into a routine helps improve balance and coordination, increases our efficiency at speeding up and slowing down and increases our ability to change directions quickly. All of that is important for improved performance and injury prevention.

So whether you’re wanting to dominate in flag football this fall or just looking to add a variety to your routine, try adding these drills to the mix once or twice a week.

Perform these exercises after an active 15- to 20-minute warm-up.

REACTION BALL: Stand about four to six yards from a solid wall. Throw a reaction ball against the wall and try to catch it as it bounces back. If the ball gets past you, retrieve it as quickly as possible and return to the starting position. Repeat for 10 to 15 reps.

40-YARD SPRINTS: Set up two cones 40 yards apart. Starting at one end, quickly run to the opposite side until you run past the cone. Gradually slow down, walk back to the starting point and repeat for four to six repetitions.

Note: If you have not sprinted in a while, run at 60-80 percent of your maximum speed.

AGILITY LADDER (LATERAL IN INS): Begin with your left side facing the agility ladder. Quickly shuffle down the ladder and back, landing on the balls of your feet, with both feet in each square. Repeat for two to three repetitions, then switch directions.

M-DRILL: You will need five cones for this drill. Begin by setting up four cones in a box formation, with each cone spaced 10 yards apart. Then place the fifth cone in the middle of the square.

To start the drill, begin at the bottom left corner (Cone 1). Quickly run to the cone straight ahead (Cone 2). Now, backpedal to the center cone (Cone 3), turn slightly right and run to the cone in the top right corner (Cone 4). Then backpedal to the final cone in the bottom right corner (Cone 5), then finish by sprinting through Cone 4 straight ahead. Return to Cone 1 and repeat for two to three reps before repeating the sequence in the opposite direction.

Hold a 6- to 12-pound medicine ball chest-level while standing about 3 to 5 feet from a solid wall. Beginning in an athletic stance, powerfully extend through your hips and legs as you throw the ball against the wall. The height of your throw should be about eye level. Drop into a quarter squat position as you catch the ball and repeat without pause for 30 seconds.

Contact Jason Wanlass, owner of Monster Personal Training & Athletic Conditioning in Meridian, at or