Tag Archive for: halevy life

How to Guarantee Your Fitness Results

Awesome segment profiling Halevy Life’s Fitness Guaranteed with CNBC’s On The Money airing this weekend. Check your local listings and watch!

Hey you, is that your butt winking at me?

Here’s a fantastic guest post from Halevy Life Staff Coach Jake Roswell:

Jeff Halevy TODAY Show Fitness ExpertAlright guys, let’s get one thing straight. It is absolutely asinine (no pun intended) to think that everybody should squat to depth with the same stance. Some have been genetically blessed with squatting hips where they can stand with their feet shoulder width apart, touch their ass to their calves and stand back up, and then there are those of us (yes that means me too), who aren’t that lucky and want to beat the shit out of the aforementioned.

When first told that I was doing a “butt wink” in my squat, I wondered, “What is this butt wink B.S.? Who would come up with such a term?” The only wink I know is the one our business affairs guy gives to the good looking lady at the water fountain. So how is it possible to wink with my butt? Actually, I just asked, I didn’t really want to consider the options for what the creepy bald stranger behind me was saying.

I eventually learned that Butt wink is a term used for excessive posterior pelvic tilt at the bottom of a squat. Think of your pelvis as a bowl full of water. You’re holding the bowl evenly (standing vertical) resulting in no spillage. The instant you tilt the bowl backwards, water is spilling out of the back and the bottom of the bowl is facing forward, also known as posterior pelvic tilt. You may hear terms such as “ass to grass” or “in the hole”, but from experience, if you cannot do this without excessive lumbar flexion (typically caused by posterior pelvic tilt) then STOP! Butt winking puts added tension onto the backside of the intervertebral discs, which can result in potential disc herniation. Addressing factors contributing as well as prescribing corrective strategies to minimize the occurrence of butt wink is crucial to the prevention of injury and the education of novice lifters.

butt wink

Butt-wink, stage right!

1) You may hear coaches’ state that the reason you suffer from posterior pelvic tilt is due to tight hamstrings. This may in fact be the case, however, I believe it is a lazy prescription to correcting such a complex movement. No I’m not trying to harass you trainers out there, I’m just saying that research has concluded that when squatting, your hamstrings do not stretch as much as you think. Dean Somerset’s article “Butt Wink is Not About the Hamstrings” addresses Lombard’s Paradox, which states, “During a balanced flexion of the knee and hip, no real length change occurs in the hamstrings as well as the rectus femoris”. If there is noticeable lumber flexion early in the squat, it could very well be hamstring tightness. Try stretching, but if there is still no difference in performance then there are different structural limitations other than tight hamstrings.

2) Everyone is different. The anatomical structure of your joints (especially the acetabulum in this case) may limit full range of motion. Some can have deep hip sockets which is the cause of limited range of motion. Do NOT try and force yourself in to the hole. This will result in pelvic tilt and subsequent lower back pain as well as discomfort at the hip. There are however ways to work around it. The first can be the beloved kettlebell or dumbbell goblet squat. This will allow you to get low into a squat by maintaining correct lumbar position while hitting depth without any complications as opposed to a back squat. Secondly, try a wider stance in your squat with your feet pointed out more than 45 degrees. When pointing your toes out it allows your femoral head to rotate properly within the acetabulum. Posterior movement of your hips in this position puts your spine into a more neutral position, limiting pelvic tilt. A narrower stance requires a greater range of motion to parallel. To hit depth, for some, the tucking of the lumbar spine is required to get “ass to grass”. Hip mobility becomes more of a factor in this type of squat. The wide movement exhibits greater hip flexion and less plantar flexion which trains the hips on all three planes of motion. To increase hip mobility, try the tactical frog stretch.

3) As stated before, excessive posterior pelvic tilt is a huge detriment to the lower back resulting in possible disc herniation. Another way to control that is to brace the core and activating the glutes. To brace the core breathe into your stomach then your chest, this stabilizes the core anteriorly and posteriorly (front and back). Think of breathing in through the bottom and getting a “fat stomach”. Also, motor control is imperative. You must activate the glutes throughout your squat. Spread and grab the floor with your feet. When activating your glutes during your lift, you are allowing space for a deep squat by relieving pressure off your hip flexors. Both of these concepts control hip rotation and when relaxing in one or both of these areas may result in butt wink.

Yes, I can admit that I have fallen victim to butt wink, consequently resulting in injury. Excessive posterior tilt had me out of the squatting game for 2 weeks. I was able to correct this however, through corrective exercises such as the dumbbell goblet squat explained above. If you have high hopes for the squat then you better check your ego at the door.

Being a better squatter is more efficient than being a bigger squatter. Work the movement pattern, increase your range of motion incrementally, and set yourself up for some serious gains. Hit me up with questions/comments on Twitter: @jroswell3

Damn! Deadlift time.

Jeff Halevy TODAY Show Fitness ExpertI cannot believe my last post wasn’t since May!

Welp, been crazy busy locking in Halevy Life’s brand new 6,000 square foot location at 212 East 57th Street…just 100 feet away from Whole Foods. The place is sick: it’s a bi-level ground floor space with 17 foot ceilings, marble floors…absolutely beautiful. So there’s that. And I’ve also been focused on driving my deadlift up to the 600lb mark. I just pulled 545 today, and had it been a competition, probably could’ve eked out 555.

545lb Deadlift-Jeff Halevy

So what has been my trick to ramping that number up from around 515 in May? Three things: heavy sub-maximal work at least once/week; deficits (from 2″); rack pulls; and back squatting three times per week. Did I just say squatting three times a week!? Yes. And relatively heavy — talking 3-5rep range for 1-3 sets. Not exactly Smolov, but Smolov inspired.

My first 6-week training block had some pretty heavy rack pulls after pulling from the floor (starting at the deadlift work weight for that day), followed by a single work set of 3-5 reps on the squat. Three days later I added a set of the same reps at the same weight, and the day after (YES, THE DAY AFTER), I added either one more work set OR took the weight up and/or reps up (same weight) or down (heavier weight).

The frequent squatting continued into my second 6-week period, but rack pulls were replaced by deficits after pulls from the floor.

I’ve got a USAPL meet in October, right around our Halevy Life’s new location opening,  so the next six-week block will be key. (And I’ll try not to disappear for so long again!)

Here are some recent pulls:

Are you overreaching or overtraining?

This is a great guest post by new Halevy Life Staff Coach Jake Roswell on an often misunderstood and avoided topic: overtraining.

Are you overreaching or overtraining?


Here we go again, everyone wants to get into shape for the summer and for some reason, the best way to do this in the minds of millions of Americans is to start competing in running events! According to Runners USA, the combined number of events for 5 and 10k races in 2012 totaled up to more than 18,000, with the number of participants exceeding 7 million. After a long, cold ass winter these 7 million strongly motivated runners will take to the roads, treadmills, and if they’re lucky enough, beaches to log the miles needed to “get in shape” for these races. Some will run competitively, some will try to beat their previous PR’s, and many will simply get involved as a means to have something to train for. I am a huge advocate of fining a reason to get in shape, become healthier and push the limits of what you think you can do (hell, I wanted to go through Navy Seal training at one point), but there does come a point when training can turn into “overtraining,” and the line between the 2 can be extremely variable based on the individual, and a tough one to spot. Overtraining is not something that should be taken lightly. It is a syndrome that has been known to cause a multitude of problems and even halt the careers of many professional athletes.

Overtraining is hard to identify, and in fact remains an indefinable syndrome in the realm of sports science to date. As with any athlete, the physiological factors of fatigue and poor performance are inevitable. The best way to crack the mystery of overtraining and identify when you might be teetering on the edge of increased performance/overtraining is to track performance.


I have been an athlete all my life, played soccer and competed in the 100m, 200m and 400m track in events in indoor and outdoor track in high school. I went on to play soccer in college, was a 4-year starter (and if you ask me I was also the best player on the field at all times), and have always trained hard for these sports. After 4 years of college my soccer career was over. No more summer soccer, no more 3 a days during preseason, and even more importantly, no more preparation going into preseason. What was there to look forward to? Naturally, as a competitor I needed to find a reason to continue to stay in shape, so I decided to start training for 5k and 10k races.

I started out running 25 miles a week in the beginning of the summer, my times were just as I had expected (6:15 min. mile). I would increase my overall mileage per week by 3-5 miles while maintaining or bettering my pace. As the weeks went on, I was competing at least every other weekend in a race and continuing to increase my mileage and splits until I was up to 60 miles/week at an average pace of 6 min./mile. Mornings became tough (it was hard to roll out of bed), I had little to no energy to perform simple tasks, and according to my girlfriend my mood was pretty crappy all the time (she is now an ex-girlfriend…).

As this became a recurring theme, my split times during track workouts continuously worsened. So, as much as it hurt me, I decided to rest. After a week of no running I decided to test myself. Still bad split times! It pains me to say this because I have never quit at anything before, but after the worsened times, bad mood and complete lack of energy I gave up altogether.

So why were my times decreasing? Why was my mood changing? Why did I have no energy? The answer is overtraining – a reduction in performance that takes place when the body is pushed beyond its ability to recover. Common symptoms related to this mystery tend to be fatigue and constant mood swings (makes sense now). The problem was I wasn’t letting myself sufficiently recover through proper nutrition, sleep, and programmed rest days. Yeah I had great workouts initially, but without adequate recovery, the performance improvements declined to the point where I was getting worse. This is to all the exercise enthusiasts out there who have ever seen a model or diagram where there is overreaching and overtraining.

Overreaching is the point in which enough stress is put on the body for adaptation to occur. In no way is this bad! It’s all about realizing where you are in your training and knowing when to back off. Poor Programming is a result of going beyond overreaching. Here are some more ways to avoid overtraining:

1) Individualize your programming: Not everyone is the same! Don’t expect to get a one-size-fits-all program from the top results of “running program” in Google. Everyone recovers differently. Self-monitoring how you are adapting to training (i.e. improved performance), muscle soreness, fatigue, and stress level must be taken into consideration.

2) Sleep: A lack of sleep during training can decrease performance from a physiological standpoint, and can also psychologically decrease performance due to the causation of a sense of confusion as well as mood swings. Physiologically, during sleep periods we secrete anabolic (muscle building) hormones and decrease catabolic (muscle wasting) hormones. When insufficient sleep is taking place we are not mobilizing the anabolic hormones enough for adequate recovery(Ripptoe, Practical Programming of Strength Training, 2009).

3) Diet: Proper nutrition during training plays an important role. What most athletes and novice lifters alike tend to overlook is ample caloric consumption during intense training periods. I’m not saying you should eat as much as humanly possible. Proper caloric intake means your calories in = your calories out, in order to maintain performance. Fueling your body is comparable to fueling your car. If you were to put 20 miles worth of gas in and try to go 50 miles, your car simply won’t do it. The human body is no different: if you only fuel up for a particular amount of energy expenditure, how can you expect to go beyond that point without sacrificing stored energy and ultimately breaking down other tissues (such as muscle) to reach your goal? One of the biggest mistakes made by people who begin a new exercise program is inadequate carbohydrate consumption (Mother, this one is for you). You need to get over that road-block ASAP. Carbohydrates are essential for muscle glycogen and provide the quickest source of energy production. If there is depletion in carbohydrate intake, the result is a decrease in performance and an increase in muscle deterioration.

All-in-all overtraining can more properly be titled “under recovering.” You can train as hard as you want if you make sure you are accounting for the 3 things listed. If you have any questions on overtraining hit me up on Twitter @JRoswell3, and enjoy the race season!

Baby Got Back, Man Got Front: Squat Like A Beast..Without Pain

Here’s another phenomenal guest post by Halevy Life Director of Programming and Education, Nick Johnson:

Why would/should anyone ever front squat? It’s so much harder, you definitely don’t look as tough because you can’t load the bar up and muscle through it, and it isn’t super comfortable at the bottom of the lift. So why utilize the front squat?

Look: Very tough. But the Front Squat may be a tad more confortable at the bottom portion of the lift ;)

Look: Very tough. But the Front Squat may be a tad more confortable at the bottom portion of the lift…

My goal is to make and support the argument for using front squats before you ever load up the barbell and put it on your back. Here are the 3 biggest reasons I choose the front squat over back squatting for beginners and/or those lacking core stability.

1. Performing a front squat is much easier on the posterior chain (especially lower back) than the back squat. Many of the clients I begin working with, regardless of their goals, almost always have problems with:
a. The ability to stabilize their core when in motion, and
b. Lower back pain.

The front squat addresses both issues. Because the load is placed in front of the body, the barbell is kept over the center of gravity without your back having to bend as much to keep it there. In other words, front squatting allows for much more knee flexion without decreasing the hip angle to the point where you are performing a lower back exercise. If you look at the angles outlined below, the front squat allows us to get much more knee flexion (6 degrees difference with this individual) without placing as much stress on the lower back (11 degrees difference in the hip angle). This is extremely important when working with anyone with low-back pain or issues activating their core.

Front Squat

Front Squat

Back Squat

Back Squat

2. The second reason: quadriceps activity. The front squat is a truly quad dominant exercise. When you back squat, the more acute hip angle created, due to the bar position relative to the center of gravity, causes you to use much more hamstring and glute activity at the bottom of the range of motion. We can in fact even get more work done with far less weight using a front squat. To solidify this notion just check out this study performed by a team at the University of Florida. The decreased resistance needed means there is much less compressive forces on the knees, minimizing the risk of cartilage, ligament and tendon injuries.
To further convince you that front squatting will build your quadriceps at a much higher rate, check out this article. You can see bye the EMG (Electromyography: a cool way to see electrical activity produced by skeletal muscle) data that the front squat produces higher muscle activation in the vastus lateralis and rectus femoris compared to the back squat, and there is little to no difference in muscle activation in the vastus medialis. These 3 muscles are the big 3 out of the 4 (this is what femoris stands for) that make up the quadriceps group of muscles.

quad muscle

3. The absolute best reason to use front squats over back squats, especially if you are just starting to squat in a new workout regimen: they are much safer! You cannot cheat; if you do so you drop the bar. The front squat essentially has a built in safety mechanism. This is why I love the front squat as an indicator of lower body strength over the back squat. You are forced to complete the exercise correctly, using your legs to keep the torso erect, not your lower back. Just to further drive the point home, this is a client I have worked with for 2 weeks. He didn’t do anything for a while prior to coming in to work with us, and this picture was taken the second time he front squatted in his program.

client front squat

The form is absolutely incredible for someone who is beginning a resistance training program for the first time. I can guarantee if I were to place the bar on his back he would come in the next day and we would be doing things to help loosen his lower back because it hurts so damn much.

So why doesn’t everyone use the front squat? You can’t lift as much weight, and it can be uncomfortable at first. Really? Uncomfortable? If you’re not willing to get out of your comfort zone to do things the right way go enroll in the golden oldies yoga class and water aerobics at your local YMCA. If you want to do things the correct way and push yourself to receive the best results, add the front squat to your workout and see your legs and midsection strengthen immediately. For any instructions on how to perform a front squat properly or for loading parameters hit me up on www.twitter.com/HL_Nick.

Should you lift weights to be a better marathon runner?

With the ING New York City Marathon just weeks away (…after some of us fought hard for last year’s marathon cancellation due to Hurricane Sandy), I figured now is as good a time as any to revisit a misunderstood and often controversial topic about marathons: lifting weights as part of your training.

I figured there’s no one better to turn to for insight on this one other than Halevy Life’s own Director of Programming and Education…AND marathoner, Nick Johnson.

Lifting for the Long-Haul: Should Runners and Marathoners Lift Weights?

By Nick Johnson


I want to start off by saying I am by no means a “runner” nor do I particularly enjoy running, at least in the beginning. I have however “competed” (relative term) in a few races and have spent much of the last year training for them. Like many people attempting to tackle their first marathon, I assumed reading was the place to start as far as developing a training regimen and get in shape. I read every article and “free” program I could get my hands on, and with all reading said and done I came to the simple conclusion that I needed to run, and run, and run some more. So that is what I did. I completely ceased my training routine in the weight room and hit the road.

I started training on a regular basis for marathon one 6 months prior to the race date, slowly building up my miles with 1 long run a week. From everything I had read, this was the way to do it. As race day drew nearer (1 month away) I started to develop pain in my knee. Went to the doctors office and was told it was simply “runners knee.” I have had a history of leg injuries and figured if I took it down a notch I would be fine; From an endurance perspective I was in the best condition of my life. Finally race day came and I started off at a good pace. Then came the fun at 10 miles in, first with hamstring cramps, then eventually cramping all throughout my legs. I had a 3:30 pace going before this happened and was pumped, like I said, best shape of my life. I ended up finishing in just less than 4 hours, which wasn’t horrible by most standards, but definitely not up to my expectations.

After that terrible experience I swore I would never run another marathon. I didn’t run for a month or so, until I was approached by a co-worker and asked if I would run one with her. Naturally my response was “of course” (female, couldn’t say no). So 4 months from the race day I came up with a new plan. I would continue my strength training routine, just scale down the frequency and intensity, and do 2 shorter runs accompanied by 1 long run a week (down from 5 runs/week). My second marathon time was 3 hours 20 minutes, and I felt great afterwards, with some still left in the tank. I directly contribute this success to continuing with my strength-training program through the marathon training.

Here are the 3 reasons why you should lift when training for endurance races:

1. Prevent Overuse Injuries
​Too much of one thing is almost always a bad thing (i.e. food, as in diet and nutrition; a well balanced diet is necessary to meet the body’s nutritional demands). The key to success is variation. Yes, you need to be running if you are planning on competing in a running event, but those training for running events have a very high susceptibility to injury. A 2007 study done by Fredricson and Misra in the Journal of Sports Medicine showed that two thirds of runners will sustain an injury every year and 90% of those training for a marathon will suffer from an injury. This can be attributed to overuse and weakness. Most lower body injuries from running are caused from weakness in the hip muscles, especially the hip abductors. What could possibly be one way to counteract overuse and weakness? LIFT!


2. Improve Your Time
​One of the best ways to improve your time is to produce a powerful stride both quickly and efficiently. It makes sense right? The more power you can produce with each stride while using minimal amounts of energy, the faster you can run. You will not see increases in power from running long distance, therefore a supplementation of resistance exercises is essential. Let me take a second here to talk about what type of lifting you should do. Running a marathon is an endurance event right? That means we should train for muscular endurance, correct? Yes! But you do this when you run. Research has shown that rep ranges of 12-20 do not increase muscular endurance any more than a 6-8 rep range (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18787090). The best way to work on running economy is lift to compliment your running, so get in the weight room and perform large muscle recruitment, heavy exercises (deadlifts, squats, pull-ups, etc.)


3. Make Running Easy
​Lifting will create neurological adaptations that you won’t get from simply running. Your body will be able to recruit more muscle fibers with each contraction, translating directly into better running economy. The August edition of The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research has a study in which participants were divided into 3 groups; no lifting, light lifting (2x/week, 3 sets of 10 at 70% max), and heavy lifting (2x/week, 4 sets of 3-4 reps at 85-90% max). After 6 weeks only the heavy lifting group showed improvements (6% running economy).

Whether you are looking to improve your running time and cut down on your chances of getting an injury I would highly suggest adding a balanced resistance training program of 2-3 days a week to your running routine. If you have any questions as to what I did or what I would suggest doing to improve your marathon time hit me up on twitter @HL_Nick.

What's the Truth About Stretching?

Stretching is a highly controversial topic in exercise and fitness circles. Should one stretch at all? Could stretching be detrimental? Should stretching be done before or after exercise? In today’s guest post Halevy Life Training Manger Lauren Murphy answers these questions and more!

    Lauren Murphy, Training Manager at NYC Upper East Side Personal Trainign Gym Halevy Life, demystifies stretching and exercise.

Halevy Life Boston Fundraiser Announced for Thursday April 25th 2013

I’m just getting back from an extended trip that started with a visit to Boston the day after the terrible tragedy there. I have some very important updated details for next week’s event (Thursday, 4/25 from 6:30-latewhich is now also a fund-raiser for those affected by the Boston Marathon bombing (my thoughts on the matter HERE).

Firstly, if you are coming, or planning on coming, and have not yet RSVP’d please do so IMMEDIATELY. (RSVP HERE) We are already over capacity, and our hired security will not let you in unless your name is on the list – seriously, period, exclamation mark…no winky face.

Secondly, as I mentioned that this is now a fund-raiser, I simultaneously do not care about being over capacity; I care about raising money for those who need it — as our team brilliantly did with the $5,000+ it raised for Hurricane Sandy victims.  So please INVITE ALL YOUR FRIENDS. Admission will be a $1 donation at the door, but feel free to give more if you so choose. 100% of the money raised will go to:

1) One Boston Fund

2) Boston Children’s Hospital

3) Mass General Hospital

Please RSVP NOW by clicking here 

Lastly, yes, we will still be partying and having a good time — and I am excited to celebrate an incredibly rewarding year together! My TV show Workout From Within’s first season still debuts that night, and we will have an exclusive screening for our guests…including a special appearance by the show’s host! (Check out his recent appearance on Good Day Chicago HERE)

Jeff Halevy Host of
Jeff Halevy Host of “Workout from Within” on Good Day Chicago


The details on next week:

Date: Thursday, 4/25
Time: 6:30pm-late; Screening at 7:30pm
Place: Halevy Life (802 Lexington @ 62nd; enter on 62nd)
Attire: Clothing suggested, though nudity will not be discouraged

I look forward to seeing you next week and please, please, please bring friends and let’s raise some BIG $$$ together for our friends up in Boston!  Please RSVP NOW by clicking here

Yours in health,
Jeff Halevy

Jeff Halevy’s top tips to getting trim & slim (New York Daily News)

From today’s print and online New York Daily News, my tips to getting trim & slim in 2013!