Not-So-Gross Anatomy: Hip Flexors & Spinal Stabilizers

Thank you for checking in on the last installment of Not-So-Gross Anatomy. This week we are looking at the hip flexors and spinal stabilizers. This may not sounds like a sexy topic, but trust that this chapter has plenty to pay attention to. After some anatomy, we will put those muscles into action today with movement.

Ok, maybe not exaclty like this movement, but keep reading.

Let's start with spinal stabilization. Keeping the skeletal system upright relies on the muscular system, connective tissue, and nervous system to get these bones to stack into an upright fashion. Keeping the spine stabilized calls upon a select group of muscles, many of which you do not see in magazine articles or stream workouts about. The muscles that b3 is about to give some needed credit to spinal stabilization are; the diaphragm, transverse abdominis, multifidus, and depending upon your gender - the pelvic floor muscles.  

Last week we introduced the transverse abdominis (TA). The TA is located deep and secures around the midsection. The muscle fibers run horizontally and the transverse originates along the illiac crest, to costal cartilage of ribs 7-12, the thoracolumbar fascia, and the lateral half of the inguinal ligament. The "TA" inserts into the xiphoid process, the linea alba, and the pubic crest.

The TA wraps the torso.

The TA wraps the torso.

I will translate into laymen's terms. It wraps around your midsection from the back around to the front and connects from sternum to pubic bone. It is the deepest muscle that we are talking about today. It's the spare tire that helps brace the midsection and spine when bracing or "bearing down".

The multifidus buttons up the posterior of the spine.

The multifidus buttons up the posterior of the spine.

The multifidus (muhl-tiff-eh-dus) is a long muscle that originates along the back of the sacrum, along the fascia of the errector spinae, the mammillary processes of the lumbar vertebrae, the transverse processes of the thoracic vertebrae, and the articular processes of the last 4 cervical vertebrae. The insertion points are along the spines of each vertebrae from L5 all the way to the axis (C2). The mutifidi (plural) extend, flex,and laterally rotate the spine. They stabilize the spinal column by lengthening or shortening.

Sealing the top of the core is the diaphragm.

Sealing the top of the core is the diaphragm.

The diaphragm is a muscle that helps stabilize the top of the core. It also helps allow you to inspire and exhale. Kind of a biggie there...

The diaphragm originates along the sternum, the costal cartilage of the ribs, and the first lumbar spine. It inserts into the central tendon that fuses with the wall of the heart and lungs.

The pelvic floor muscles of men are slightly different than that of the female counterpart. The pelvic floor group has the ability to help tighten some areas, solidify your base of support, and also bearing down.

Left pelvis is male. Right is female. Pelvic floor muscles shown

Left pelvis is male. Right is female. Pelvic floor muscles shown

How to get this group some needed attention can happen through many different options. The diaphragm can be trained by working on breathing techniques such as "belly" breathing, crocodile breathing techniques, and squats.  The pelvic floor can be conditioned through kiegel  exercises, bridges, tabletops and squats. The multifidus can be trained through planks, back extensions, lateral flexions, oh yeah, and squats. The transverse abdominis can be trained through planks, various bracing patterns done through most functional patterns, and I bet you've guessed it....squats.

Hmmmm, I wonder if we should be doing squats????? But before we just start squatting the world away, let's look at the hip flexors a bit more.

If Chubbs from Happy Gilmore knows anything, he knows it has something to do with the hips....

Hip flexors is a catch-all for a group of muscles that flex the hip (or assist) depending upon the planes of motion. Psoas major, psoas minor, illiacus, tensor fascia latae, sartorius, rectus femoris, glute medius, glute minimus, adductor longus, adductor brevis, adductor magnus, pectineus all have a role in making the hips flex. The psoas major, illiacus, and rectus femoris are the prime movers of the hip flexion pattern and depending on the planes of movement, the adductors, the TFL, and glutes contribute more or less to assist.

Psoas major, minor, and illiacus.

Psoas major, minor, and illiacus.

The psoas major does a heck of a lot more than just flex the hip. It stabilizes the spine, it laterally flexes the trunk, and it pulls on the spine to increase lumbar lordosis. It's origin lies along T12 and all lumbar vertebraes bodies, disks, and transverse processes. It inserts along the top of the femur and shares the tendon with the illiacus. Some anatomy books will reference the psoas and illiacus together as the illiopsoas. The illiacus originates along the illiac fossa.

The rectus femoris has two origins: the acetabulum (posterior head) and the anterior inferior illiac spine (anterior head). The insertion point is the tibial tuberosity via the patella tendon.


Why is this important? Try walking, sitting, standing without this group....I triple dog dare you.

Squat, lunges,  step up variations, bird dogs, tucks, and just about any single-leg pattern is going to challenge the hip flexors. Make sure to work through multiple planes of motion to effectively train the hip flexor group. 


OK - on to the movement patterns to help with the important muscles that may not "look" important but are critical for the human body to function with efficiency.



We hope that the last couple of months have provided a starting point for your anatomy and functional anatomy application of movements to train specific muscles and muscle groups.

Sharing and liking our materials is important to us. So is developing successful programming built around YOUR specific needs and variables. Check out our options for registered dietitian and sports nutritionist lead nutrition aide and world class strength training.

If there is a topic you would like to have us blog an email to me at and I will see what we can do.




Not-So-Gross Anatomy: Abdominals & Obliques

While I sit here typing up this week's blog on abs and obliques, I cannot help but think about this scene from Crazy. Stupid. Love. in which Emma Stone's character sums up the situation pretty much spot-on.

The easy thing to say to a well-defined mid-section is one of two things:

Option A: "Damn! Looking great!"

Option B: "Genetics. Must starve themselves. No thank you."

While it is indeed envious to see somebody with a well-defined set of abs and obliques, there is little reason to be a hater. It takes a blend of hard training, sound nutrition, and genetics to make them a possibility.

We are talking about obliques and abs today in Not-So-Gross Anatomy. Beyond the quick anatomy lesson and exercises I want everyone who reads this to think a bit about how this can apply to their own training. Obsession is just a focused form of crazy and without the right eating and training (and genetics)  - finding those six-pack abs may be as likely as a unicorn delivering your pizza to you right now.

My point is to gather some perspective. Train hard. Eat right. Sleep well. Balance stress.....enjoy the development.

(stepping of the soapbox)

Let's look at anatomy. Think of the musculature resting on three layers - deep middle and superficial. The transverse abdominis is located deep and secures around the midsection. The muscle fibers run horizontally and the transverse originates along the illiac crest, to costal cartilage of ribs 7-12, the thoracolumbar fascia, and the lateral half of the inguinal ligament. The "TA" inserts into the xiphoid process, the linea alba, and the pubic crest.

I will translate into laymen's terms. It wraps around your midsection from the back around to the front and connects from sternum to pubic bone. It is the deepest muscle that we are talking about today. It's the spare tire that helps brace the midsection and spine when bracing or "bearing down"

Notice the striations of the muscle fibers as the TA wraps the body from posterior to anterior. (Custom Pilates and Yoga)

Notice the striations of the muscle fibers as the TA wraps the body from posterior to anterior. (Custom Pilates and Yoga)

On the middle layer of the abs & obliques is where you will find the rectus abdominis and the internal oblique. The rectus abdominis is what you may call the six pack, eight pack, the washboard abs, or in many cases the "well-upholstered" abs. Even if you cannot see them, they are in there (I promise). What gives the compartmental look is the linea alba and tendons that intersect along the rectus abdominis. Originating at the pubic symphosis and inserting along the 5th-7th ribs and the xiphoid process of the sternum. The rectus abdominus flexes the lumbar spine. 


The internal oblique is part of the "love handles". Its colleague is the external obliques and they form an anatomical weave to help the torso rotate and laterally flex. The internal obliques originate along the illiac crest and insert along the costal cartilage of the 8th-12th ribs and also the pubic crest. From the anatomical point of view, the internal obliques look like they are moving from posterior to anterior and fanning upward and down.

On the superficial layer, the external oblique resides. Originating along the anterolateral border of the lower 8 ribs (antero = front lateral = side) and inserting at the illiac crest, the pubic crest, and the font of the rectus sheath. 

The arrow depicts the external oblique (right side shown)

The arrow depicts the external oblique (right side shown)

Injuries can happen with these muscles and the most common injuries are oblique strains, sports hernias, and a condition called diastasis recti.

Oblique strains can happen from something as minor as twisting suddenly or can be more chronic in nature from repetitive motion (a throwing motion). The can be quite painful and frustrating and should seek medical attention to minimize further damage.

Sports hernias, a different thing altogether from hernias. A sports hernia is a tearing in the abdominal wall or the adbominal sheath. This is usually generated through powerful movements and requires a decent amount of rest before getting back into normative activities.

Diastasis recti, is a condition in which the linea alba becomes stretched or torn to the point of "splitting" the rectus abdominis. This can happen to mothers after pregnancy or after rapid or substantial weight loss. The pressure along the rectus abdominis and linea alba causes fibrous tearing and in some cases this may require surgery. In some cases, this condition becomes the "new normal" and some exercise modification may be required.

So hear are some ideas for an apparently healthy individual for the abs and obliques this week. Programming is critical and the benefits of compound movements to build stronger abs and obliques is vital. These entries are for that "little something extra" to challenge the area.

As always, thanks to The Energy Club for some of the shots.

Individualized programming at our "one stop shop" can get you dialed in for any goal!


Until next week's conclusion of Not-So-Gross Anatomy - I'm outta here!

-Don Bahneman



Not-So-Gross Anatomy: Lower Leg & Foot

This excerpt from an episode of Entourage depicts Johnny Drama and his perpetual quest for bigger calves. Always looking for that "edge" in life, Johnny has a strong opinion that larger calves is THE answer.

Now I am not going to go so far and say he is 100% wrong, but he is fighting an uphill battle. As with many of the things physical in our life, there is a genetic predisposition to have a certain type of physique. This is called somatyping. While discussions about endo/ecto/mesomorphs is a topic for a later date - let's condense things and say that your muscles have a genetic predisposition to be long and lean, thick or stocky, or more athletic and well-rounded. the lower leg musculature is no different. Sorry Johnny. 


Oh, you meant lower leg calves? Whoops....

Oh, you meant lower leg calves? Whoops....

With lower leg anatomy, we have to observe multiple joints that are crossed. The knee, the ankle, and the digits of the toes are all in play when talking lower leg musculature. We can break this grouping into anterior view, posterior view and plantar side of the foot (bottom). Technically we call the top of the foot a dorsal view but from an anterior view you can see what is need for the depth of this blog.

Anterior view of the lower leg:

The tibialis anterior is the largest muscle in this group. It has an origin along the lateral surface of the tibia and inserts on the medial aspect of the medial cuneiformand base of the 1st metatarsal. This is what actively dorsiflexes the foot and inverts the foot. Dorsiflexion is the flexion of the dorsal side, or top of the foot. Inversion of the foot is the elevation of the medial side of the foot.

There are the extensor group (hallucis longus and digitorum longus - not Harry Potter references). There job is to extend the digits.

The peroneals, AKA the fibular group (longus and brevis) are located on the lateral aspect of the lower leg. The Fibularis Longus originates along the upper lateral surface of the fibula and inserts on the medial cuneiform and the base of the 1st metatarsal Fibularis brevis originates just below longus and inserts on the styloid process of the 5th metatarsal.

Anterior view of the lower leg (Pearson Benjamin Cummings)

Anterior view of the lower leg (Pearson Benjamin Cummings)

Peroneus/Fibularis Group Origin/Insertion (CoreWalking)

Peroneus/Fibularis Group Origin/Insertion (CoreWalking)

Posterior view of the lower leg (Pearson Benjamin Cummings)

Posterior view of the lower leg (Pearson Benjamin Cummings)

Posterior View of the Lower Leg:

The Gastrocnemius is the most superficial muscle and usually the most prominent to the eye. It originates on the backside of the femoral condyles and inserts on the posterior of the calcaneus via the Achilles tendon. Yes - it crosses the knee AND the ankle. It helps flex the knee and also plantarflexes the foot.

The soleus is located under the gastrocnemius and originates along the upper portions of both the tibia and fibula. It also inserts at the posterior aspect of the calcanues via the Achilles tendon. This muscle does not cross the knee and is responsible for platarflexion.

Plantar view of the foot (Theratape)

Plantar view of the foot (Theratape)

The plantar view of the foot does not receive the necessary attention until it is usually too late. On the underside is where the flexor groups flex the toes but also this is where the plantar fascia reside. Through all the fun we have running, walking, jumping and doing God-knows-whatever else....the plantar fascia are being pulled. If they decide to strike - it can be a debilitating experience. Keep the toes and plantar fascia happy, my friends.  

Well-defined set of calves shown here....

Well-defined set of calves shown here....

.....and here as well.

.....and here as well.

Looking at mobility we need to consider loosening up the feet, the ankles, and knees to ensure all musculature has been given stimulus before strength training.


Mobility Patterns:


When looking at strengthening the lower legs and feet, you have some isolated options. But I need to ask how often are you only using this group in isolation? Many athletic based movements can call upon the lower limbs with great success.

The triple extension point of the lift draws explosive power from the ground vertically and the lower legs have a great amount of activation. In this instance, the gastrocs & soleus help propel upward and the tibialis anterior helps stabilize at the top.


Mix it up a bit with some single leg patterns, jumping patterns, and compound movements. When training kettlebells or deadlifts, try to lift with a flat shoe or barefoot (if gym allows) to help "root" yourself with the entire plantar aspect of the foot.


Keep on keepin on.....we are here to develop some science and structure behind you fitness and nutrition goals. Head to the one stop shop located in our main menu and get started today!



Don Bahneman

Not-So-Gross Anatomy: Biceps

Tickets for the gun show are available now online

Tickets for the gun show are available now online

This week we are talking about biceps here at b3 wellness. Some folks talk about biceps as if they are guns. 

"Hey, did you buy tickets to the gun show?"

or possibly

"Look at the frickin' guns on that dude?!"

If you are a pacifist, the term "guns" may not resonate with you in a positive manner. So, please allow me to translate....

"Oh my, shall we take a gander over there and pay homage to the stout biceps brachii on that fellow?"


"Hello miss. Can you explain to me and my friend how you developed such large and defined elbow flexors and supinators?"

biceps brachii 2.png

Let's talk shop on the bicep brachii. The "bi" in biceps refers to the number two. As in two heads of the biceps (long head and short head). The long head originates at the supraglenoid tubercle of the scapulae. The short head originates on the tip of the coracoid process of the scapula. The insertion points of the biceps brachii is  along the radial tuberosity and also alonmg the fascia of the forearm musculature of the biceps aponeurosis. Consider these locations making them "neighbors", but they do indeed have two distinct heads that perform a job as a unit. The biceps brachii flex the elbow and supinate the forearm. A flexed elbow and supine forearm are magnificently shown in the picture below.


Another look at a peak contraction point for the biceps....I'm guessing you do not buy off the rack with those arms. Impressive!


When programming the biceps, you will want to take into consideration exactly what we are training and why are we doing it. For instance, the biceps will get a great deal of stimulus from pulling patterns. Yes - deadlifts, pull ups, chin ups, rows of varying angles, pulldowns. If you perform chest flyes, do your biceps engage? So be mindful of not asking too much of them throughout the week with a great deral of straight bicep training.

Other things to consider training the biceps at all points of their contraction potential. When deadlifting, the biceps are lit up like Las Vegas and this is with a fully extended elbow. Training at the most flexed position also holds value, as shown below with a flexed arm hang below in the exercise videos. But also training the muscle in all degrees of movement in between these two examples is where we can help shape, define, build, and train these muscles to look better, work harder, and perform better.

Like any muscle, when trained - but not stretched, these muscles can get tight quickly. SO the arms may look big and strong, but if the biceps are tight and immobile - you are losing functionality of the muscle in spite of vanity.

Let's take a look at some mobility patterns and self myofascial release (SMR) techniches to help loosen up:

Lats and biceps go together like pizza and beer, peanut butter and chocolate, or for you more healthy folks....hummus and pita bread?

The insertion of the pec minor and origin of the short head of the bicep are right on top of each other - so loosen up the chest!


Strength training the biceps is a bit more than just barbell curls. I am a big fan of barbell curls, just do not do it in the squat rack. Please do not be "that guy/girl" who curls in the squat rack. The preceding message was sponsored by the unified squatters association of the world.

The biceps need to be strong throughout a full range of motion. Yes, that means you can get some bicep benefits from the bigger lifts.


Start with a 10 second hold. Then 20 seconds. Then start adding weight. Really drive the elbows into the ribs and find your happy place.


Dumbbell preacher curls are a nice alternative to preacher curls with an EZ curl bar. Allows the lifter to concentrate on each arm individually.


Rack walks are a great conditioner and will test your grip in elbow flexion like few other exercises.


Straight bicep training is not something we get many requests for at b3. We tend to train movements and have traditional and non-traditional splits. Linear and undulation periodization work does provide some windows to insert bicep-specific work, but what we believe at b3 is simple - we do not sacrifice function for size. Bigger is not always better (regardless of what "they" say), deceptively strong will always have its place, and the biceps reputation of being just a "show" muscle is incredibly false. Train the body. Train the movement. Always moving towards the goal. 

Be fit. Be fueled. Be full of life.

Don Bahneman

Founder - b3 wellness

(photos taken from The Energy Club in Arlington, VA)

Not-So-Gross Anatomy: Pectorals

Dig if you will the picture.....Monday at any traditional gym. The electricity of the weight room floor. The tension. The excitement. All the dudes. It must be.....

Duh, Duh, Duhhhhhhhhhhh - CHEST DAY!




"What do you bench, bro?"

-said by most dudes at one point in their life if they workout


There are copious amounts of stereotypes in the fitness industry and when it comes to lifting, over-training the pectorals is near the top of the list. The pectorals (pec major and minor) are also affectionately known as the chest. A large chest helps fill out a t-shirt but does it help with your functionality? Something to ponder....

The pectoral group has significant value in movement and functionality. The caveat is that symmetry is important. What I am getting at is that we tend to overtrain muscles simply by how we function. How we sit. How we work, drive, eat, and unwind. As long as we are working towards a symmetrical body, I am on board with training any muscle group. But lifting chest 3 to 5 days per week, legs once and back twice is a recipe for disaster.

(brief interruption as Don hops off his soapbox)

Notice the pull line from the clavicle,sternum and ribs.

Notice the pull line from the clavicle,sternum and ribs.

Let's look at the anatomy of the pectorals and then dive into mobility and training movements.

Pectoralis Major is a large fan-shaped muscle that originates along the ribs, the sternum, and the sternal aspect of the clavicle. The pectoralis major inserts along the bicipital groove of the humerus. The pec. major is located under the breast. The pec major's primary functions are:

1. Flexes the humerus

2. Adducts the humerus

3. Medial rotation of the humerus

4. Stabilization of the humerus in the GH joint

Located under the pec major is pectoralis minor.  Pec minor originates on the front of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th ribs. It inserts at the coracoid process of the scapula. The function of pec minor is to protract the scapula and also helps with movement of the ribcage.

This is a very clean image of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th rib origin

This is a very clean image of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th rib origin

The pec minor has a great deal to say when it comes to the efficiency of the shoulder and rotator cuff. An overly tight pec minor is going to pull the scapula out of the normal alignment and hinder range of motion and function of the shoulder. 

Assuming that we do not change the desk jobs, the driving of cars, the way we eat, etc. - we are likely to have tight pectorals and diminished shoulder range of motion, which could alter thoracic mobility, which alter pelvic tilt, the the hips/knees/ankles do not stack up correctly and the whole damn thing is out of whack!!!!

An all time favorite line from Anchorman. Thank you God for Will!

Alright where was I? Ahhhh, the theatrical depiction of your body collapsing because you are too concerned about being swole versus balanced. Totally kidding aside here, without some semblance of mobility, you are going to look big but function less than 100%.


So let's get to some mobility work....


There are a few patterns that we use to get the pectorals ready for some press work.

Now, on to some strength training.


Now we need to briefly talk about angles. I know, I know....damn science always getting in the way. From a flat position or decline position - the pec major is heavily in play. As you incline you position, the pec major becomes less involved and the pec minor and anterior delts pick up the slack.

The say, (who is THEY btw?) variety is the spice of life. Choose different angles to train and different modalities to utilize.

Yes, barbell bench and dips are players in all this as well.....but consider the blog a tapas versions of how we do it at b3!


See ya next week!


p.s. - Thanks as always to best gym in the DMV area - The Energy Club for the settings.

Not-So-Gross Anatomy: Deltoids

"If the weight of the world is resting on your shoulders, they better be damn strong."

-Jeanette L. aka My Grandma


When I heard this statement I could not have been older than ten or eleven and I thought about this more literally than metaphorically. But boy, oh boy, was Jeanette on point with this statement in both contexts.

Metaphorically speaking, you need to be strong enough, callus enough, forgiving enough, and resilient enough to handle the obstacles that manifest during your laps around the sun. Literally speaking, if you have incredibly weak or imbalance shoulders, your quality of movement and upper body strength/power will be compromised.

Shall we talk deltoids? 

There are three heads to the deltoid group:


The anterior deltoids, the lateral deltoids, and the posterior deltoids all form the "shoulder". The anterior deltoid originates along the lateral end of the clavicle and inserts at the deltoid tuberosity on the humerus. When active, the anterior deltoids flexes and medially rotates the arm by pulling the humerus towards the clavicle.

The lateral (medial) deltoids originate at the acromion process of the scapulae and insert along the deltoid tuberosity of the humerus. The lateral (medial) deltoids abduct the arm by pulling the humerus toward the acromion.

Shoulder definition helps the arms and back look magnificent! We know delts at the b3 Lab!

Shoulder definition helps the arms and back look magnificent! We know delts at the b3 Lab!

The posterior (rear) head originate along the spine of the scapulae and insert at the deltoid tuberosity as well. Activation of the posterior (rear) deltoids extend and laterally rotate the arm by pulling the humerus toward the spine of the scapula.

The deltoids are interesting in that they are used for so many other movements. Many pulling actions done with the lats also include the posterior deltoids. Pressing movements that use the pectoralis major/minor also include the anterior & lateral deltoids. 

The anterior deltoid may very well be the most overused upper body muscles in the body. Think about your actions throughout a day. Do you brush your teeth? Eat a meal? Drive a car? Type on a computer? Scroll through your mobile? Push a door open? Push your chair away from a desk? Anterior deltoids are active through all of these. Poor posture and tight pectoral groups will alter the movement of the deltoids and this is mostly due to the "forward" leaning we do throughout the day.

With all of the activity to the anterior group, we need to give the posterior deltoids  some extra love throughout the week to help shape the shoulder and improve function.

Let's get into some mobility work:

Strength can be established through various modalities...let's see a few below to help round out the shoulders properly.

Overhead press work is a great way to develop deltoids. I do not care if it is barbells, kettlebells, dumbbells, bands, bodyweight, ViPR, or keg presses (sober, ideally) - an overhead press is a great grinding movement that will promote vertical strength and power and promote correct posture.

Supplementing the overhead press with lateral, front, and rear delt raises are tried and true to chisel out those deltoids. 

Knowing where and when to implement shoulder work into your routine is not a simple "one way" path. Assessing the mobility and strength of the delts, spinal posture, and yor goals all have a say in how we get after the deltoids at b3.


Thanks for reading this week's installment....see ya next time!


Be fit. Be fueled. Be full of life. b3 Wellness, llc

Don Bahneman MS, CSCS, CISSN, CPT, CHC


Not-So-Gross Anatomy: Rotator Cuff

SCUBA, TGIF, FBI, IRS, FUBAR, PBR, are all acronyms that many folks are familiar with. Anyone with a shoulder injury in their past of current situation is likely familiar with another acronym - SITS.

S - subscapularis

I - infraspinatus

T - teres minor

S - supraspinatus

picture provided by:  Duncan Sports Therapy and Wellness

These four little muscles make up one of the more powerful labor unions in your body, affectionately known as the rotator cuff. When a problem arises with these muscles, there is likely a decrease in your productivity and functionality. 

The "cuff" is the deepest group of shoulder muscles that all originate on the scapulae and wrap around the glenohumeral (gh) head of the humerus.

Translation: The muscles start on your shoulder blade and wrap around the top of the arm bone. The primary goal of the cuff is to keep the arm nestled down and in the "shoulder joint".

Technically the rotator cuff secures the head of the humerus into the glenoheral joint and provide support around the capsule and allows the acceleration and deceleration of internal/external rotation of the shoulder, abduction of the shoulder, and stabilizes the shoulder girdle. 

S - subscapularis - located under the scapulae and connects to the lesser tubercle of the humerus. Primary function is to internally rotate the humerus.

I - infraspinatus - located along the infraspinatus fossa along the posterior of the scapulae and connects to the greater tubercle of the humerus. Primary function is to externally rotate the humerus.

T - teres minor - located along the lateral border of the scapulae and connects to the greater tubercle of the humerus. Primary function is also to externally rotate the shoulder.

S - supraspinatus - located along the supraspinatus fossa along the top of the scapulae and connects to greater tubercle of the humerus. Primary function is abduction of the humerus.

Keeping the rotator cuff working efficiently is about training movements, of course, but also doing so with optimal posture. This means effectively using stability and mobility throughout the body to allow the spine to be neutral allowing the scapulae to glide correctly and allow the sub joints of the shoulder to move in a way that make the rotator cuff work well. 

If nothing else, as you read through the "Not-So-Gross" series learn that the body needs to be trained in an integrated fashion. Poor thoracic mobility is going to alter shoulder function.

The next line of defense for support of the rotator cuff muscles are the rhomboids, the serratus anterior, and the long head of the biceps. These muscles have functions  that mimic and support the cuff with movement. We will table this for a future blog.....(that's called a teaser :-))

Mobility of the spine and shoulder are necessary when talking about the cuff. Here are some of my favorites to warm up prior to training:


Transitioning to a dowel for the next several movements to help allow greater tension into these muscles and movement patterns. 


Strengthening the cuff:

Suspension training has a place in cuff work as well.....


Resistance bands have been used for years on cuff strengthening and are still incredibly useful today. The pull, rotate, and press is a great movement that encapsulates many of the movements of the cuff. 


Bodyblades have a niche and I still use them with shoulder work. The constant tension really can light up the cuff and supporting structures. Here is a tapas portion of some bodyblade movements that can be applied.


The kettlebell is a rehab/prehab tool and magically can unlock shoulder dysfunction. An entry level movement, the halo, seems to offer internal/external rotation, abduction/adduction, horizontal flexion/extension......a little something for everyone. 


Few integrated movements can be used in every blog in the Not-So-Gross series, but the get up is one of them. All shoulder movements are in play here as well as proper spinal alignment.

Start with a shoe before you start loading up the bell, pretty please?!  Take a look back at our blog series on Deconstructing Kettlebells to get a deeper look at the get up.

Poor posture,acute injury,  overuse, alter kinematics, tight and weak muscles will lead you towards cuff issues. If you have been blessed with good shoulders - make 'em great with some cuff work at least once per week!

For our US based readers - Have a safe and happy independence day! 

Be fit. Be fueled. Be full of life. b3 wellness. 


Don Bahneman

p.s. - Special thanks again to The Energy Club and the b3 Lab for providing the spaces to shoot.

Not-So-Gross Anatomy: Lats & Upper Back

Last known photo of founder, Don Bahneman, without a shirt on.

Last known photo of founder, Don Bahneman, without a shirt on.

Pop quiz:

Question #1 - What is the only muscle that attaches the pelvis to the humerus?

3....2............1......................we will need an answer.

Latissimus Dorsi.

We. Have. A. Winner.

Question #2 - What muscle, when properly engaged can help the deadlift, the squat, the bench press, and improve your chin up/pull up strength?

Did you say "the lats"?

That is correct! Johnny, tell 'em what they have won!

Final Question - How's your posture right now reading this from a mobile device or sitting on a chair (be honest)?

-Did you say my head is tilted down, shoulders are forward, slouching just a weeeee bit?

We will keep the last question on the honor system, but effectively training the lats & upper back muscle is paramount to help keep whatever heights God has blessed you with staying upright.

This week's installment takes a quick look at anatomy of the major muscles of the upper back. After that we look at mobility patterns for this important group of muscles. And lastly, we will show a few movements that are near and dear to b3's hearts that will strengthen these lovely skeletal muscles!

Ready to get this going?



The "Lats" are the glorious muscle that got this undergrad time in the cadaver lab with the graduate students waaaaay back in the day. Whew, I am thankful for that opportunity because muscles in 3D are a whole lot better that 2D to learn from. The lats run along the illiac crest, sacrum, thoracic spine, lumbar spine, the ribs, and finishes at the humerus. Now that is a helluva journey - quite similar to some commutes for you possibly, but I digress. This fan-like muscle covers a great deal of territory and extends the arm, adducts the arm, and medially rotates the arm as well. The lats are also considered a "core" muscle and helps stabilize the torso.

The rhomboids are a group of muscles (rhomboid major and minor) that are located along the spine and connect to the scapulae (shoulder blades) along their medial border. Their primary job is to allow the scapulae to retract. Think about trying to draw your shoulder blades back while keeping the shoulder down. That is by way of the rhomboids. Thank them for their efforts.

Now try that movement again but allow the shoulders to elevate as you attempt to drive the shoulders back. That transitions oh so nicely to the trapezius muscles. This is a superficial muscle group and originates up and down the spine and base of the skull and inserts along the lateral end of the clavicle (collar bone), the acromion process, and the spine of the scapulae. The traps have several movements that are critical for daily function. They extend the neck, laterally flex the neck, elevate, depress, and retract the shoulder as well.

Rear deltoids (back part of your shoulder) are included here as well. Wait, what? This is not about shoulders today....I know but the function of the rear deltoids fits more into aiding the upper back and their movements than the other two heads of the delts.

The last muscle for today is the teres major. Its junior, teres minor, is one of the four that make up the rotator cuff. Teres Major aides the Lats as a medial rotator and adductor of the humerus. Rowers, swimmers, bodybuilders, and anybody with a wide "V" taper to the upper body likely has great lats and teres major helps add a wider and thicker look to the back. Now that may not be appealing to all readers, but all the same, the teres major muscles are very important to have efficient functionality with for all activities of daily living.

Let's see how we can get these muscles ready for a workout with some mobility work.


Consider this an appetizer of some of the ways we warm up the body in an integrated fashion at b3.



Again, this is a sampling of just a few movements that train the lats and upper back. And how these movements are applied is when the rubber meets the road in getting results. 

Now, finish reading this, turn off the phone, push away from the computer and correct your posture. Then head to gym and get these muscles working!

Until next time!


Be fit. Be fueled. Be full of life.

b3 Wellness

Don Bahneman

p.s. -The energy club is where these picture were shot at and you must stop by if in the NOVA/DC area!

p.p.s. - yes I love chin up/pull up, use a lat pulldown on occasion and even a seated row - but we are trying to get "outside" the normative tools.

p.p.p.s. - I sure hope the Nats can get Scherzer some run support immediately!  

Effective nutrient timing is a MUST for a good lift. Do not do this!!! Donut judge me, either. (shameless pun)

Effective nutrient timing is a MUST for a good lift. Do not do this!!! Donut judge me, either. (shameless pun)

Not-So-Gross Anatomy: Hip Abductors and Adductors


As the royal artist, Sir Mix-A-Lot once put it, "I like large abductors and I cannot lie." 

What was that? That's not how the song goes? As a nerd of science, that is exactly how I hear that song!

I wish there was a hidden track talking about adductors with such adoration as well - but I digress....

This week's installment of Not-So-Gross Anatomy looks a bit at the booty and groin, the ass and inner thighs, affectionately known as the hip abductors and hip adductors.

New to the terminology of abduction and adduction? Abduction is the movement of taking away from the midline of the body. ADDuction is the movement of adding, or moving towards the midline of the body (Props to Dr. Street back at St. Cloud State University for the anatomy class back in the day of beepers and payphones).


The glutes (minimus, and medius) and the tensor fasciae latae (aka TFL) are the primary hip abductors. For today's post we will also include the glute maximus. While the maximus is a hip extensor, it is also present as a stabilizer for the integrity of the hip.

Hip abductors.jpg


The adductor group is made up of several muscles including adductor magnus, adductor brevis, adductor longis, pectineus, and gracilis. 


Adductor magnus originates along the ischial tuberosity and all of the remaining adductors originate on the pubis. They all attach along the linea aspera on the femur. While they are all not necessarily large muscles individually, they make a formidable group due to their compact origin.

Hip abductors and adductors play a significant role in unilateral training. When both feet are planted on the ground, the legs can rely on each other to provide an element of stability. By taking one leg off the ground, stability becomes more challenged and now the adductors and abductors are fighting to help keep the leg in check and balanced.

If you have any desire to move laterally, abductors and adductors are critical in allowing that to become a reality.As you step to the side while performing a lateral lunge, the leg that is stepping out is engaging the abductors to make this happen. The stationary leg is being straightened and the adductor group is being fired up in an eccentric fashion as well. 

See the demo of the lateral lunge. Click on the closed-captioning if you want the breakdown even further.

So let's talk about movements. Isolation of these groups can be done using the tried and true hip abduction and hip adduction machines. Side lying leg raises have some value as well. But I want to get into a few movement patterns to help keep movements integrated and provide the client more activation of muscle groups. Think of it like a good happy hour for your body. More muscles in same amount of time equals a happy camper!

Abductor mobility hinges greatly (total cheesy pun intended) on the IT band. As the TFL resides along the IT Band - if the IT is tight, the functionality of the TFL  is off. Translation....roll your IT band please!



Strength Training:


There are countless movement patterns to put the ab & adductors to the test, but here are some of movements I like to pull out and put in play with clients when deemed appropriate.

If you are looking for programming, look no further than b3 wellness. Customized and built around what you have access to. 

Thank you again for stopping by and giving this week's blog the ol' once over. Follow us on FB, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Be Fit. Be Fueled. Be Full of Life. b3 Wellness.

!Hasta Pronto!

Don Bahneman 

p.s. - the videos shot were done so at the best kept secret in Northern Virginia - The Energy Club 

p.p.s. - The picture at the top of this blog is not actually my ass, in case you were wondering ;-)

Not-So-Gross Anatomy: Quadriceps

Rectus femoris. Vastus lateralis. Vastus medialis. Vastus intermedius.


The quadriceps. The quads. Quadzilla. Quad City. The Quad City DJs. Thighs. Thunder thighs.

The front of the upper leg has many nicknames, but we will roll with quadriceps today. In the illustration, you will see each of the four muscles that make up the quadriceps shown independently. The quadriceps’ primary responsibilities are to extend the knee, flex the hip, and adduct the femur.

Breaking down what each of the quadriceps by origin, insertion, and action.

Breaking down what each of the quadriceps by origin, insertion, and action.

Each of the quadriceps muscles have different origins, but come together and share a common insertion (end point) in the patella tendon.

Look at how all of the quadriceps tendons congregate at the patella and then come together at the tibial tuberosity.

Look at how all of the quadriceps tendons congregate at the patella and then come together at the tibial tuberosity.

An important thing to pay attention to is how the distal tendons come to the patella (knee cap). The Vastus Lateralis comes in from the outside and even has a small connection to femur to cross the patella. Conversely, the vastus medialis comes from the inside. The rectus femoris and vastus intermedius comes in a more direct fashion over the top of the patella. This multi-angled approach allows more coverage over the patella (which is a good thing). But if there is significant imbalance with these muscle, or tightness with the IT band, we could be setup for some problems (patellofemoral, subluxing patella, tendinitis, chondromalacia, meniscus, etc).

When it comes to training the quads, being mindful of the mobility and stability through the hip and knee is vital. This means looking at the surrounding structures as well. A tight IT band can wreak havoc on the alignment of the quads and send you tail-spinning with pain and loss of function.

While programming is specific to what the demands of the individual - here are some of my favorite movements to help mobility and train the quads.





I love me some squats. Back squats and Front squats are staples for good leg development. While I prefer Front squats for quad development, many people feel uncomfortable with the barbell in the rack position. This could be from posture issues, lat tightness, weak core, wrist mobility issues, etc. Starting with a kettlebell goblet squat may be the better course.

Single-leg development is very important. We have a dominant side, and working to find symmetry is needed. Enter the Pitcher's Step Ups. This can be loaded or unloaded. The range of motion from the hip and knee is substantial.

Explosiveness is required from time to time (with individuals ready for it) and the loaded jump squat is an option that I tend to introduce to clients when they show that they are capable of doing so.

To take exceptional mobility, stability, strength, and power and wrap it into one movement would be something that like to call a "unicorn" around b3. The loaded pistol squat is a unicorn. Balance, control, mobility, stability, strength, and power all are called into play in this humbler of an exercise. 

While there are many modifications to the five strength movements, I wanted to display an offering of some great quad-heavy movements. If you are looking to isolate the quads then hop on the leg extension machine or do some straight leg raises while wedged against a wall at 90 degrees. The truth of the matter is that most movement requires integrated patterns from multiple muscle groups.

Next week - Hip Abductors & Adductors - Glutes & Groin

Until then, check out our site for high end programming and see ya next week!

Be Fit. Be Fueled. Be Full of Life.

Don Bahneman - Founder - b3 Wellness


Not-So-Gross Anatomy: Hamstring Movements


Do you sit at work/school/bar?

Do you drive a car?

Do you rest in a chair?

Do you sleep in a fetal position? 

Yes to any of the above will result in tighter hamstrings over time. We need this muscle group (and all actually) to function in an optimum fashion when called upon. Effectively training this group calls upon training the muscle group eccentrically and concentrically through both the hip and knee.

Translation: if you are just doing seated leg curls, you are doing it wrong.

Mobility work and rolling is essential:

Now there is a multitude of ways to loosen up but I am a big fan of rolling and integrated patterns to help get the body ready for activity.

(Videos have been shot at the best place to workout in Northern Virginia - The Energy Club)

The foam roller allows us to seek out and destroy any of those hot spots that are lingering around in our body.

The cossack squat is a great movement in and of itself, but I love using it for mobility to loosen up the hips, the knees, ankles and fire up the lower body

I like to use the dowel/PVC/broomstick to use some leverage in some movement patterns. The dowel fold over provides some leverage in opening up the posterior chain prior to moving some weight around.


Strength Training the Hamstrings:

Again, I am coming primarily from an integrated point of view. Time is valuable and being able to get more accomplished in less time is incredibly valuable to many of my clients. If you remember yesterday and know how the biceps femoris, the semitendinosus, and the semimembranosus move - then we need activity that runs across the hip and knee. 

Kettlebell Swings - this is a great hinge movement and a staple for hamstring work @ b3

Single leg deadlift work (ipsilateral shown) is a great way to train the hinge unilaterally. Your stabilizing muscles definitely get the memo that something is happening.

I love me some deadlifts. Sumo/traditional/kettlebell/pause/snatch-grip/clean-grip all have a place near and dear to my heart - like pizza.

Stability ball hip press gives an alternate way to add velocity to a hip extension while allowing the knees to remain flexed throughout. A unique and effective way to say hello to the hammies!

Swimmer kicks allow a great opportunity to fire the hamstrings without needing an external load. It is also a great move to help clean up compensation patterns.

Oh, the love/hate relationship I have with suspension training. So humbling but soooo effective. Hamstring curls on the TRX are an eye-opener.

At the end of the day, training the hamstring group in isolation is not so easy to do. The glutes, the errectors, the gastrocs all have something to say about it. Not to mention the adductors and quads. But building strong hamstrings are essential for posture, balance, and anything powerful!

Thanks for reading this entry! Until next time....

Don Bahneman

p.s. - If you are interested in online coaching, click on over to our one-stop-shop and get programming and nutrition coaching to help get you to the next level.

Be fit. Be fueled. Be full of life. b3wellness



Not-So-Gross Anatomy: Hamstrings

Deadlifts are a nice way to build up those hamstrings.

Deadlifts are a nice way to build up those hamstrings.

Thanks for taking a look at the first of our Not-So-Gross Anatomy entries on the b3 Wellness Blog.

We start off with a personal favorite of mine – the hamstrings, aka the back of the upper thigh, aka semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and the biceps femoris.

The hamstring group plays an absolutely vital role in how we function throughout the day. You would be hard pressed to move without them as the help you navigate walking, standing, hinging over, extending the hips, and flexing the knees.


With anatomy, understanding where the muscles originates, inserts, and functions helps develop a level of understanding that is critical for improving performance. For some performance can mean scoring the game-winning goal in a match. For others, performance may be simply getting through the day pain free.

The hamstrings group have the pleasure of crossing both the hip and knee joints. When looking at the diagram of the group, the biceps femoris (red highlight) are located laterally, the semimembranosus (yellow highlight) is located medial, and the semitendinosus (blue highlight) is between them.

Illustration has removed the glute. Never, ever, lose your butt! This PSA has been approved by b3 wellness, llc.

Illustration has removed the glute. Never, ever, lose your butt! This PSA has been approved by b3 wellness, llc.

The hamstrings also make up part of what is called the posterior chain. This “chain” is a linkage between the hamstrings, the gluteals, and the spinal errectors.

Common injuries to the area include tendonitis, and varying degrees of muscle strains. Commonly referred as “pulling a hamstring” is a bit of a washing over the injury. And effectively understanding what movements cause pain, can help identify a path to get back on the road to recovery quicker.

 Tomorrow’s installment will include movements to train the hamstrings concentrically and eccentrically. Mobility patterns and rolling will also be shown.



Neumann, D. (2010). Kinesiology of the Musculoskeletal System: Foundations for Rehabilitation (2nd ed.). St. Louis, Mo.: Elsevier. 


I remember at a young age being asked by adults this loaded question:

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”


Without hesitation, my answer would be professional ice hockey goalie or baseball player. Now at a fairly young age I realized this was not going to happen for a bevy of reasons. First, I never played hockey and secondly, I was okay at baseball, but nobody was knocking down my door to become a major league baseball draft pick.

So I ask you the same question, what do you want to be when you grow up?

Now, you may already be “grown up” but I am talking about much more than a job or career….what do YOU want to be?

Too much of what is presented to us today needs to be diluted. Needs to be politically correct. Needs to not offend. Do you know what I say to that? Bullsh!t.

Many of the greatest minds were viewed negatively because of their actions going against the grain. Working within the societal norms does nothing to raise the bar.  As Ryan Gossling’s character in Crazy. Stupid. Love. so eloquently put it….”Be better than the GAP.”


What is my point?

If you tend to blame others for your current state of affairs, own your choices and situations and get over it.

If you are unhappy with your current career path, make a change. It may not be for more money at first, but is happiness and health worth less than the almighty buck?

If you are sarcastic, then be sarcastic – but know when to use it to provide levity and laughs, not to harm. With great power, comes great responsibility.

If you believe that you can do anything that you were able to do when you were in your teens or early 20’s….let me know how that goes.

Own the changes that your body is making.

Own the experiences in your life that have molded your perspective on things.

Appreciate the version of you that you currently are.

I'm the best damn version of me today! 

I'm the best damn version of me today! 


If you do not approve of yourself. I have news for you…..nobody is going to change you EXCEPT you!

So be something! Something special! Something that others want to know! Something others will respect! Something others will hate because you have your sh!t together! Be something that fits you perfectly! And makes you happy to be you!

Being an asshole does not count because you are making somebody miserable to be happy.

Being understanding that you only have one go around on this rock and try to leave things better than when you arrived should be in the forefront of your choices.

So I have chosen (after a great amount of questionable choices) to be in healthy relationships with people that inspire me to be a more aware person. To be nicer. Less sarcastic at inopportune moments. To work with those that need help in being more fit mentally, physically and appreciate the journey along the way.

I challenge you to take a moment and reflect on your current state of affairs. After your reflection, ask yourself the very simple question….

“Are you where you want to be now that you are grown up?

If not, re-read this blog and reorganize your situation to get to your place of peace.

Be....Something....Special. We all deserve it.



Until Next Time,



New Years Resolutions


Can you believe we are already 11 days in to the new year!  Have you made any resolution(s) yet?  If so, how's it working out for you?

If not, well you have come to the right place!


Now hopefully you are one of those individuals that establishes goals/resolutions throughout the entire year, and not just at New Years.  But, the start of a new year is an incredible time to re-focus your energy and determine how you can improve your life.  Whether you are making your first step towards change or you are in the final chapter, I strongly believe that everyone should make resolutions.

My typical goal with resolutions is to have at least one from three different categories... professional/educational, personal, and health.  We will be focusing primarily on the health portion as that is our specialty but I do want to touch on the others as they are so important and can tie everything in together!


Whether you have a full time job, work from home, work part time, or are a stay at home parent; you can always make professional goals!  These are ways to stay educated about our society, economy, various professions, and much more.  Never stop learning!!  Some ideas are:
- A new certification
- A job promotion
- Start a side job/project
- Learn a new skill
- Read one research study a month


This may be my favorite resolution category because it really forces you to become more in tune with the needs of your community and yourself.  Maybe you need to be better at putting your own needs first every once in a while or maybe you want to focus your energy on improving your local community.  Some ideas are:
- Volunteer at least once a month
- Read at least one hour a week
- Have one hour of "me time" each week
- Help out a friend in need
- Gain at least one new friend
- (If you have a significant other) Have one date night a week, just the two of you



I want to lose 30 pounds this year!
I want to build a 6-pack by summer!
I want to gain 40 pounds of pure muscle!

These tend to be some of the resolutions I see when it comes to health... well, maybe slightly exaggerated but you get the gist!  While these can be incredible long-term goals; unless you have specific small steps to take, they will probably feel overwhelming which then leads to failure.  Instead, focus on specific changes that can lead to these end goals.  

No matter what your health-based goal is, BOTH nutrition and exercise are going to be necessary.  For that reason, I recommend having at least one specific resolution in each category.  Some examples are listed below.  

Nutrition - related ideas:
- Drink at least 3 bottles of water per day
- Limit sugary treats to once per week
- Add an extra veggie with each meal
- Replace chips/cookies/fruit snacks with healthier snacks (nuts, fruit, hummus/vegs)
- Consume more protein from lean sources (fish, nuts, quinoa, beans, chicken, green veggies, etc.)
- Limit alcohol to no more than once per week
- Never start work without consuming breakfast


Fitness - related ideas:
- Exercise at least three times each week
- Learn a new lift (squat, deadlift, bench press, pull ups, etc)
- Increase your max push ups by two each month
- Have at least one cardio session each week
- Add five pounds to your normal or max squat each month
- Make a gym friend to help keep you accountable

Another thing to keep in mind is you can adjust your resolution each month.  Say for the month of January your goal is related to water consumption.  Well, once that has been established as a habit, feel free to add something else for February!  This truly should be a long-term plan if you want to be successful.  Having specific steps for each month of the year is a sure way to keep yourself accountable and continue improving.


I could go on and on about the benefits of (year-round) resolutions, but now I want to hear from you!  What are some things on your list for 2018?  How are you making steps to improve your life?

I hope this helped provide some clarity/specification to your new year resolution.  Good luck and please reach out if you need any help developing an exercise or nutrition plan, Don and I would be more than happy to help!

Also, don't forget!!!! There is still time to sign up for our metabolic makeover program!!! Only $59, it is a 12 week program that also includes a consultation with your favorite Dietitian!  Please comment below or reach out if you have any questions at all.


Snacks: Connecting the dots between meals

Welcome to part 4 and the final portion of building your ideal day!  We've gone through all of the main meals of the day but haven't accounted for snacking.  Incorporating a few *healthy* snacks throughout the day can have an incredibly beneficial impact on your satiety and energy levels.  Plan for one or two snacks each day that will fuel your workout and help keep you full between meals.

The best time to incorporate these snack is surrounding your workout.  In general, you need more calories on days you exercise and snacking before/after the workout is an ideal way to utilize these calories for muscle growth and fat burn.  Today we are going to discuss both pre- and post- workout snacks to determine why they are important and how they differ. 

Pre-workout snack

Pre-workout snacks are not always 100% crucial, depending on when you workout and when your last meal was.  If you ate lunch at 12:00 and workout at 2:00, you don't need an additional snack.  These snacks are ideal if you have gone 4+ hours without eating and will be exercising hard for at least 45 minutes.  In other words, have a snack if you work out in the morning before work or following work before dinner.

It should consist of primarily carbohydrates to fuel your workout and some protein to aid in muscle building and reduce soreness. Some ideas are:
- Half slice of whole wheat toast with nut butter
- Small cup of greek yogurt & granola
- Apple slices with small amount of nut butter
- Small homemade granola bar

To recap pre-workout snacking... Consume a small snack about 30-60 minutes prior to an intense workout if you need the extra energy boost and/or haven't eaten a meal in the previous two - three hours.

Post-workout snack

Following an intense workout, you want to make sure to consume something within half an hour max.  During a workout, including both strength-based and cardio-based, muscles are broken down and torn apart.  The sooner you can replenish your energy stores, the quicker your muscles will begin to repair and grow back stronger than before!  If you exercise immediately prior to one of your full meals, a post-workout snack may not be necessary, but it never hurts to consume a small snack ASAP.

The snack should be part protein to assist with muscle recovery and part carbohydrates to release high levels of insulin which assists in the transport of amino acids (proteins) to the muscles for a fast absorption. Some ideas are:
- Small protein smoothie
- Low fat chocolate milk
- Handful of almonds with bowl of berries
- Oats with fruit, flaxseed, and small amount of peanut butter mixed in

To recap post-workout snacking... Consume at least a small snack within thirty minutes following a workout

Try this fall favorite for a change in your normal routine:

Fall Granola Bars


2 cups extra-thick rolled oats (don’t use instant or quick oats!)
1 cup whole almonds, roughly chopped
½ cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup packed pitted Medjool dates
⅓ cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup creamy almond butter or peanut butter
½ cup dried cranberries
¼ teaspoon  salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spread oats, almonds and pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet with sides. Toast in the oven until slightly golden, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
  2. Chop dates in a food processor in short bursts until you have a rough paste. Scrape into the bowl with the oat mixture.
  3. Warm maple syrup and almond butter in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring to blend. Add to the bowl along with the dried berries. Mix well to evenly distribute the chopped dates.
  4. Line an 8x8in pan with baking parchment so the paper hangs over the sides. Spoon the oat mixture into the pan and pack it down with the back of the spoon. Freeze for 20 minutes.
  5. Lift the contents out of the pan and set on a cutting board. Cut into 16 bars. Store the bars in an airtight container for a few days or freeze for longer storage.

Recipe from:


Some extra little facts/tips about snacks:

  • Try to limit each snack to 5-10% of your daily calories (75 - 150 Kcals if you are following a 1500 Kcal diet)
  • Consuming snacks throughout the day isn't 100% necessary and does not have a direct affect on metabolism.  It helps curb hunger, especially carbohydrate cravings, which typically leads to less over consumption
  • Limit late night eating/snacking unless you consumed a very early dinner (4+ hours before bedtime).  In that case, it may be beneficial to eat a small snack (less than 100 calories) of mostly carbohydrates and fat (think half an apple and 1/2 TBSP peanut butter) before bed to help keep insulin levels more stable overnight.

Now you have the basic tools to try to make each day as healthy, yet deliciously satisfying as possible!  In future nutrition series, we will go into much further detail on individual topics (macronutrients, nutrient timing, carbohydrate cycling, importance of micronutrients, and much more), so be on the look out for those!  In the meantime, give the granola bar recipe a try and let us know what you think of it.  Please visit our homepage for more information on our various programs and customized plans. and let us know if you have any questions.

Thank you for tagging along on this journey to create a full, healthy day of meals and as always; happy eating, all!


Dinner: Finish your day off strong!

Welcome back!  We are now in part 3 of this blog series and have almost completed a full day of eating.  Last time, we focused on creating a healthy lunch to sustain high energy levels throughout the day. Today I will provide some basic tips and recipes for dinner to maintain that energy overnight.

The ideal balance of food at dinner time will digest slowly and steadily throughout the night to maintain stable energy and insulin levels.  The following dinner tips may be simple, but doing them will have significant positive effects on your overall health and diet:

1 - Make 75-80% of your dinner healthy protein and vegetables.  By dinner time, most of your daily activities are completed so your body does not need the fast-acting carbs you consume during breakfast and lunch.  Instead, we want to consume foods that will digest slowly overnight.  This keeps insulin levels stable, which is one of the key factors in weight loss and maintenance.  Protein and fat digest slower than carbs so fill your plate with lean meats and vegetables (see below for some meal ideas!).  You do not need to cut out carbohydrates completely, but you should limit them to no more than 20-25% of your meal.
2 - Consume a large glass of water before dinner.  Adequate hydration is an absolutely crucial yet highly under-utilized tool in the weight loss/maintenance journey.  The body cannot properly build muscle or cut fat if it is not properly hydrated.  Not only that, but many times when we think we are hungry, it is actually dehydration talking.  Initial dehydration symptoms can seem very similar to hunger.  Whenever you are feeling incredibly hungry, drink a glass of water to be sure you are properly hydrated. Consuming a large glass before dinner helps to fill you up to limit overeating as well as keep you hydrated overnight.
3 - Limit consumption of desserts.  Fight that craving for a sweet treat!  For most of us, cutting dessert out of our lives is unrealistic.  I am aware of this and that is why it is important to plan out desserts. Instead of just eating that cookie whenever you see it, consume it following your workout. Not as a "reward" but because this is when sugar is best utilized.  It is digested quicker at this time so will provide a quick boost of energy and not sit and ferment in your body. If you plan your treats out, you can utilize the sugar better and it won't have as much of an effect on weight.  When you consume sugar before bed, the lack of activity will cause it to sit in the digestive tract longer and ferment (will discuss this more at a later date).  It could also lead to restless sleep as it does provide high energy levels.
4 - Add variety to your dinner throughout the week.  While "chicken, broccoli, and brown rice" is a healthy meal, if you eat it every day then your body will become too high on some vitamins/minerals while too low on others.  Change up the protein and vegetables to ensure a healthy balance of the micronutrients (vitamins/minerals).

Some meal ideas are:
- Blackened salmon filet on quinoa bed with mixed vegetables on the side
- Spaghetti squash with turkey meatballs and vegetable tomato sauce
- Grilled chicken breast with broccoli and sweet potatoes on the side
- Squash, zucchini, and chicken sausage stir fry
- Black bean tacos with kale chips on the side

Try this fall favorite for a change in your normal routine:

Crock Pot Balsamic Chicken and Vegetables




2 c. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 c. baby red potatoes, halved if large
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1/3 c. brown sugar
2 tbsp. grainy Dijon mustard
2 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
                         **If you like spicy food, try adding extra red pepper flakes!**


  1. In a large slow cooker, add Brussels sprouts and potatoes in an even layer and place chicken on top.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, chicken broth, brown sugar, mustard, dried thyme, rosemary, and oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Pour marinade over chicken and vegetables. Scatter all over with garlic.
  4. Cover and cook on high until chicken is fall-apart tender, 4 1/2 to 5 hours.

Recipe from:


Now you know what an ideal day looks like for breakfast, lunch, and dinner but we are not quite done with this series yet!  Next time, I will address how to snack appropriately with a main focus on pre- and post- workout snacks.  Be on the look out for that later in the week!

Try out the balsamic chicken recipe and let us know what you think in the comments. Please visit our homepage for more information on our various programs and customized plans. and let us know if you have any questions!

Happy eating, all!


Lunch: Midday re-fuel

Making healthy lunch a priority

Welcome back!  Last week we discussed why breakfast really is the most important meal of the day and to continue our series, we will now discuss healthy lunches.  As I talk with some of my clients, lunch seems to be the meal that most struggle with.  Whether it is eating out most days because you didn't think to pack a meal or skipping it all together because you are working through your lunch break.  Neither of these options usually fuel your body with healthy nutrients or energy.

Whether you are getting your lunch from fast food or sit-down restaurants, you don't know exactly what you are consuming.  These meals are typically very high in calories, fat, and sodium.  If you have to eat out, try focusing on simple salads with lean protein or protein with vegetables on the side.  On the other side of the spectrum, skipping meals is never the answer either.  When you skip meals repeatedly, your blood sugar levels drop significantly which affects energy levels and nutrient storage.  Your brain is smart.  It realizes that you regularly go through extended periods without eating and believes it needs to adjust to survive.  When this happens and you finally eat again, your body may store extra nutrients for when it happens again.  This can lead to increased weight gain.  This is why eating regular, healthy meals is so important!

A healthy lunch is similar to a healthy breakfast in the sense that it should consist of a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat (for more information on this, please view our previous blog).  A slight emphasis should be placed on carbohydrates to keep you energized for the rest of your day and to help lower the amount of carbs needed at dinner.  The best carbs to consume during lunch are complex carbs as opposed to simple carbs.  Complex carbs contain fiber, starch, and more/stronger sugar molecules whereas simple carbs typically only contain one or two sugar molecules and no (or VERY low amounts of) fiber.  See examples of each below.

Simple carbs are broken down very quickly so while you may get a boost of energy quickly but that will also end very quickly and you could experience the "sugar crash" as many call it.  This leads to decreased energy, lethargy, irritability, and more.  Complex carbs are broken down at a slower rate so they will provide energy for an extended period of time as well as help keep blood sugar levels stable throughout the day. Pairing your lean proteins with quinoa, brown rice, kale, spinach, whole wheat bread/tortilla, berries, bananas, potatoes, etc. will ensure a slow and steady energy supply for the rest of your work day.

Some meal ideas are:
-Spinach salad with grilled chicken, vegetables, light dressing and fruit on the side
-Tuna with quinoa and vegetables on the side
-Crockpot chicken and vegetables
-Whole wheat sandwich with grilled chicken and veggies with fruit on the side
-Salmon on brown rice with fruit & veggies on the side

Try this fall favorite for a change in your normal routine:

Bean and spinach slow cooker soup


3 14-ounce cans low sodium (or even better, homemade!) vegetable broth
1 15-ounce can tomato puree
1 15-ounce can small white beans, drained/rinsed
1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 garlic cloves, chopped
8 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach or kale
Finely shredded Parmesan cheese


1. In a slow cooker, combine vegetable broth, tomato puree, beans, rice, onion, basil, salt, pepper, and garlic. 
2. Cover; cook on low-heat setting 5 to 7 hours or on high-heat setting 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours. 
3. Just before serving, stir in spinach or kale and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
*Pair with raw fruit and vegetable(s) on the side for a healthy, well balanced lunch

Recipe from


One other important factor in lunch is timing.  You want to spread your meals as best as you can throughout the day to keep blood sugar levels stable.  Try consuming your lunch midday somewhere between 11:00 and 2:00, depending on when you consume your other meals. 

The last tip I have for you is one to help make packing a lunch easier.  Consider utilizing a slow cooker to prepare large batches of meals.  Cooking healthy soups, low fat chili's, chicken and potato dishes,  This way you can have a healthy, nutritious meal without having to put in any extra effort in the morning.  This article has some healthy and easy recipes you could try out, just always add vegetables if there aren't any in the actual dish!

Try out some of those recipes and let us know which is your favorite in the comments!  Next week, we will discuss how to make dinner as healthy as possible.  Please visit our homepage for more information on our various programs and customized plans!

Happy eating, all!


Breakfast: The meal of champions?

You’ve heard it before. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Is this really true?  The simple answer is yes, but it is more than just eating something at any time in the morning.  The timing of your meal, foods you eat, and the order you eat them all impact your metabolism which in turn influences your entire day.  As we briefly touched on last week; a healthy, strong metabolism is key to fat loss so let me tell you about how to set yourself up for success.

Igniting the metabolism as soon as you wake up is the key benefit to breakfast.  This means you will start burning calories and utilizing energy at the very beginning of the day.  Consuming a healthy breakfast means higher energy throughout the day, more efficient utilization of calories consumed, stabilization of blood sugar and insulin levels, and makes it less likely to overeat later in the day.

A healthy breakfast consists of a balance of the three macronutrients; carbohydrates, protein, and fat.  Also note that water is a macronutrient as well because it is needed in large amounts, but it does not contribute calories.  Many people don't think about water due to that fact, but consuming adequate water should be the very first thing to make a habit! I will be going into much more detail on the macronutrients in a further series but I do want to cover a few basic facts for you on the calorie contributing macronutrients.

Carbohydrates are the main and most readily available source of energy for our body.  The body needs adequate energy for brain and heart function, exercise as well as organ function. Examples of carbs are fruits, vegetables, grains, cereals, and dairy products

Proteins are the basic building block of cells.  When it comes to fat loss, proteins are responsible for stimulating muscle growth, keeping you feeling full longer, and promotes fat burning.  Examples of proteins are meat, eggs, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and whole grains.

Fats are the backup source of energy when carbohydrates are not available.  Their many functions include regulating body temperature, acting as insulation for internal organs, helping to absorb certain nutrients, and more. Examples of fats are oils, butters, nuts, nut butters, avocados, fish, eggs, and more.

An appropriate balance of these three is the goal for every meal but especially breakfast. When it comes to carbohydrates; focus on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains such as whole grain bread or oatmeal.  For protein; try lean meats, eggs, and/or dairy.  Much of the fat in your meal will come from the protein source but in addition; olive oil, avocado, and peanut butter are great options. 

Some meal ideas are:
- Two egg omelet with vegetables and fruit on the side
- Overnight oats with nut butter, fruit, flax seeds, and honey
- Protein smoothie with dairy, fruit, greens, and protein powder

Try this fall favorite for a change in your normal routine!


Pumpkin Protein smoothie:
6-10 ice cubes
¾ cup lowfat milk or milk substitute (almond, coconut, soy, etc)
¼ cup pumpkin purree (I use organic pumpkin for mine)
½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
¼ tsp cinnamon **this is optional, I personally just like the cinnamon to be the most powerful spice
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 tsp honey or similar sweetener
1 small banana
¼ cup fresh or frozen peach slices

  1. Mix all ingredients in blender until you achieve desired consistency.
  2. Add ice or milk to change consistency.

*Recipe inspired by:


So why again is this the most important meal of the day?  Jumpstarting your metabolism and consuming the right types of food sets your body up for success. Whether your goal is fat loss or muscle growth, the trick is to start right and to start early. Some key ways to maximize this are to: eat within 30 minutes – an hour of waking, consume each of the three macronutrients, and consume plenty of water.  Following these tips will ensure that your body is fueled to function as efficiently as possible throughout the entire day!

Try out the pumpkin smoothie and let us know what you think in the comments!  Next week, we will discuss what makes a healthy lunch.  Please visit our homepage for more information on our various programs and customized plans!

Happy eating, all!