New Video Training Program

Hey everyone, especially you stuck at home wanting to exercise, but not sure what and how you could be exercising!!
I had an online personal training program project that I was going to launch at the end of April. It was planned as quite experimental for me in it’s approach and delivery but I now feel I want to get it out to people NOW.
I know finances could be an issue with some, but I know too, how mental health and fitness are so well tuned to each other and that’s especially vital right now.
Apart from keeping my business active, I really want to help people. I am happy to bring the program down drastically from its original price.
If you are stuck at home, want to get stronger and feel more useful, get in touch. Don’t worry, you won’t need much to run this program. As long as you’ve got a bit of space, something you can use as a weight and an internet service, you’ll be good to go.
I’m looking for 5 people who are stuck at home who want to move better and stronger in 60 days… or less I suppose.
These are (temporarily) changing days and I’m throwing myself into LIVE ONLINE TRAINING!
I have been providing online training for years, check out our membership site for more information on that. But, I have never engaged in live video conferencing sessions. This new program delivers just that, along with other great services and benefits.
I want to help you become Strong & Useful – that’s the name of the exciting new program I’ve designed for use at home.
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If you want to get Stronger & more Useful whilst exercising at home, get in touch below so I can first off, send you some further information to read over.

Training at Home?

FitStrong has a very low foot-traffic, where I usually run 4-7 private sessions a day. It’s routine and simple to clean my boutique style facility but, I have already started a more detailed daily plan.

I have a covid-19 policy (see below) in action that may change as time goes on in response to the current situation but I don’t foresee FitStrong closing it’s doors.
I am asking all visitors to FitStrong to monitor their self health and consider their attendance in accordance.
For online followers or FitStrong, I am conscious that you may become anxious of using your commercial gym, so I will be releasing some simple home based routines for you to peruse.
If you have specific goals you need to stay on top of, or particular needs, please do message me for assistance.

To access my extensive training program database, please consider our online platform. There are no contracts.

https://fitstrong-brisbane.teachable.com/p/online-membership/

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FitStrong Strength & Wellness COVID-19 Policy

Whilst cases of COVID-19 are currently low and distant from our location in QLD (18 in Queensland as of 10th March 2020), they are still on the rise every day and may with time reach the northern suburbs of Brisbane including Albany Creek. With this mind I have made a responsible COVID-19 policy for all visitors to FitStrong.
It is the responsibility of everyone to do their bit to mitigate the risk and take precautions where necessary to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Advised by the Australian government:
– People who have returned from a country or region that is at HIGH or MODERATE risk for COVID-19 should monitor their health closely. If you develop symptoms including a fever and cough you should isolate yourself immediately and urgently seek medical attention. DO NOT VISIT FITSTRONG STRENGTH & WELLNESS.
– If you think you may have been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus, you should also monitor your health and seek urgent medical attention. Please do not visit FitStrong Strength & Wellness until you have been cleared by your doctor.

Further information:

Additional points to follow:
– If you are feeling unwell and have a head cold / respiratory infection / flu like symptoms, please stay home and do not come visit FitStrong Strength & Wellness.
– Please feel free to wash your hands / use hand sanitiser when entering / leaving the gym.
– Please always bring a workout towel to the gym.
As a business, I will continue to monitor COVID-19 in QLD and progress an appropriate action plan for remote / online training should the necessity arise and I notify all members if / as this develops.
In the meantime, practice and promote good hygiene at home, your workplace and within our community.
More information about preventative hygiene can be found on the World Health Organisation website via the following link; https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

Yours in health

Jamie and the FitStrong Family

Stretchy Wednesday in Albany Creek

Strength training is an important element of a healthy lifestyle to sustain on a regular basis, but recover is just as important. That comes through rest, good nutrition and self care in the form of ‘flexibility and mobility’.

Wednesday’s seem like a good starting point to schedule in such self care and starting this week (4th March 2020) I’ll be running a focussed class to help you loosen up and get better prepared for your next training session and the rest of the week along with some chit chat.
*numbers limited so booking in is essential.

Get in touch below for more info or to book in.

 

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Why StrongFirst?

I get questions often from clients and friends related to why I spend so much time and money attending certifications and why always the expensive ones!

I am not wealthy. Comfortable, yes. My wife and I do ‘invest’ from time to time in the lotto haha but with no success. So, I don’t choose to invest because I can but because I want to.

What I want in particular from my investment in my own education is value (not cheap), quality, no nonsense education and skills.  Just as important, I want to invest and learn subject matters that I consider important to share with my students and clients. Matters that match my personal and business ethos.

***NOT A RANT***  In the fitness industry it is really quite easy to attend any number of certifications and in most cases, in areas that require no depth of experience and even demonstration of time-spent skills, practice, patience and immersion. In other words, you bulk up continued education credits so you can keep your insurance by attending courses you’re not that invested in and walk away with a certification to teach others. You don’t have to be that good at the ‘new thing’ to teach it! I don’t believe our students and clients deserve this level of standards from a professional. Don’t get me wrong, there are many wonderful people in the fitness industry that I look up to, but most attendees to courses rarely shine. It’s no wonder that most personal trainers last only up two years before packing it in.

I was drawn to the Hardstyle methods of kettlebell training by Pavel Tsatsouline back in 2009. The methods he wrote, demonstrated and talked about were so detailed, precise and based on both scientific research and personal experiences teaching many, many people to become stronger, more mobile and able individuals. His Russian accent sure made his allure all the more compelling.

Unfortunately I didn’t have an option at that time to travel to the USA to attend a certification and instead (sigh!) opted for one of those fitness industry courses that both left me intrigued and wanting more. ‘More’ happened two years later when we moved to Australia from the UK and I got the opportunity to attend Pavels RKC (pre StrongFirst). The preparation for attending was vast. It was made very clear that 60-65% of attendees fail to pass certification due to poor preparation. You didn’t just turn up and leave three days later with a certification paper. You earned to title of SFG through proficient demonstration, teaching, professionalism over the long weekend and the extensive preparation leading up to the event. It was expected that you had spent time with the kettlebell in action, became skilled and strong enough to get through the certification weekend without the distraction of pain and suffering. The certification weekend was an exercise in testing, learning the hows, whys, principles and sharpening our skills further.

This is why I love StrongFirst or more clearly, Pavels ethos and principles. Training with kettlebells is not about just getting sweaty and forging strength with pure grit and effort. There is the execution of great technique, skill and programming methods to develop lasting strength and conditioning as well as the ability to drawn upon many tools in a teaching toolkit to help the masses. Indeed, the many cues, tips and tricks learned over that three day weekend stays with me every day when teaching.

The level of expertise within StrongFirst with its master trainers, team leaders and collective of instructors makes StrongFirst one strong business and school of strength.

Below, Joe Rogan had the immense privilege of interviewing Pavel. Getting time with Pavel outside of workshops and seminars is rare, so this video is well worth the time to watch. Keep a note pad and pen handy though. There are many learning points to grab hold of.

 

Other than StrongFirst

Apart from StrongFirst, I invest in my education with other great training organisations that similarly teach principle based methods.

If you have read this far, I would encourage you to look into Original Strength and their wonderful movement restoration system.

If you move well and have retained your youthful skills and agility, I would encourage you to look into MovNat and their real world natural movement system. If you want to move with the autonomy, physical competence or become a strongly functioning human in real world of contextual settings and programs, MovNat has a lot to offer. It may just be the way forward in general population health and strength.

Got any experience with StrongFirst, Original Strength or MovNat you’d like to share? Want to learn more about how to incorporate these wonderful systems into your training? Get in touch below.

Jamie

How much you Function bro?

Reframing functional training for the masses.

The whole ‘do you even [enter an exercise]’ phrase is a parody of modern gym culture with dudes and dudettes comparing each others infatuations in the gyms with one-another. “Do you even lift”? Condescending proclamation that you are smaller than me, or “Do you even bench bro?” Context: my chest is bigger than yours. Ah, what a wonderful day and age we live in! All in jest naturally but essentially such expressions continue to draw the gym and fitness world towards body part, size and looks focus. Isn’t it about me and not you?!

I’d like to jump in with my effort now albeit rather late in the game but with this question: “Do you even function bro”?

NOT FUNCTIONAL TRAINING

Functional training all started to become a buzz definition in gyms in the wake of its appropriate use in physiotherapy settings. What started at daily activity task specific training to rehabilitate poor movement habits morphed into taking elements of everything a human can do (regardless of efficacy) and turning it into a competition with oneself and others. This meanders into the CrossFit territory which has in of itself and training concept, exploded in popularity. CrossFit has done wonderful things for developing community based fitness lifestyles, bringing popularity back to gymnastics and Olympic lifting and for promoting gyms absent of machines.

My only criticism is that it’s conceptual training model of high intensity generalism leads to high risk factor exercise for the masses who do run blindly towards the high intensity functional training model when in need of a dose of exercise. Nothing wrong with HIIT from time to time, but it needs to be timely and appropriate – not a fix for all. This though is no longer a CrossFit problem but a greater problem in the pop-up copycat gyms who are jumping onboard the model, both in terms of the pursuit of high intensity training and business.

Generalism is a fine approach to improving ones physical capabilities and indeed, us humans are perfectly designed to be generally adapt at all physical expectations. We have evolved successfully by walking, climbing, running, jumping, carrying loads, picking up loads, squatting, pushing and pulling things, rotating, explosively moving and moving with intricate detail and control.

Modern human is potentially losing many of these qualities at a gross scale, but that’s a conversation over a stiff drink sometime.

Adding high intensity to complex movements is where the line should be drawn however.

The value system for many fitness organisations and programs has a broken gear box, where 5th gear seems to be the only gear. If you’re not breaking a sweat and breaking down with fatigue there’s a “what’s the point?” attitude. However, as expert generalists we shouldn’t be applying high exertions to every function we can perform. Whilst some activities like running (safely) and walking uphill lend themselves well to high efforts, snatching a barbell (intended for single repetition efforts) for multiple repetitions is a complex movement with a high risk to reward ratio. So too are all movements requiring fine skills.

If we value functioning as a better human shouldn’t we practice and develop our exercise skill and quality culture rather than fatigue culture?

What if we used our gym time as contextual strength and fitness practice and development?

As much as I love to finish my training sessions, I certainly don’t rush them to the detriment of movement quality or risking injury, or to beat some arbitrary time. I focus on completing the task at hand well, better than before but within my capabilities. My comfort zones might get shoved gently to encourage adaptation but I’m certainly not allowing ego to take over for some imaginary trophy at the end of it!

The goal is to keep the goal the goal. A now famous quote from coach Dan John. It shouldn’t require definition. My goal, everyones goal in performing physical training should be progressing positively our health, fitness and strength outcomes. It’s not a race but a credit based scheme we keep adding to until we might need to make a withdrawal. For instance, when your partner hurts an ankle during a bush walk and you’ve to support them or carry them back to the car. Or when the car breaks down and you’ve to push it somewhere safe. Maybe something more sporty, when you place high priority on the winning now and health later! Most sports fall into this realm.

Much recent sports science research supports the gradual moderation approach to long-term progress rather than transient (brief) benefits from a 4 week smash in the gym. It seems the body holds onto the benefits of our physical practices from moderate efforts with only occasional higher efforts, well planned in a training cycle.

Contextual Training

Exertion levels aside, the choice of our strength movements are really quite simple. I’ve left this last part for the end of my chit-chat.

Ask yourself this: What does your life require you to be stronger at?

Early I mentioned the general physical qualities we excel at. Let’s look again:

Walking, climbing, running, jumping, carrying loads, picking up loads, squatting, pushing and pulling things, rotating, explosively moving and moving with intricate detail and control.

If you called these 12 categories of strength and fitness, you could take each and slot in a variation that suits your needs.

Whilst walking, climbing, running are simple without much variability, the carrying, picking up, squatting, pushing, pulling and rotations will most definitely have some personalisations.

If you’re a mother or father of two young children these will have very specific personalisations.

If you’re a labourer you will have your own personalisations too, as too will sports people, people who sit or stand for a living and of course the elderly will have a set of strengths and skills required to make life better.

That is the goal isn’t it – to make life better.

I used to love heavy barbell squatting, bench pressing and even bicep curls but to be honest, I got bored after a while once I achieved what I wanted from them and I got frustrated once I started to pick up some overuse injuries. It stopped being contextual to my life. That was up until 2012. Things have evolved since then thankfully.

There is nothing wrong with having a movement specific goal but overall, using gym time to add to the quality of our lives should be priority and using programs that are contextual to our own lives is in my opinion, a step in the right direction.

To continue this conversation on a personal level, if you are intrigued by contextual training for your life, please do get in touch.

Until 2020, have a very Merry Christmas an awesome new year.

Jamie

Do You Even Plank?

If you’ve never seen an advertisement for Abdominal training, or Ab Workouts, or Six Pack this and that, well done. You’re probably one of the lucky ones who haven’t been inflicted with horrific images of back busting silliness all in the name of grabbing attention to a program, product of instagram likes.

Whilst there is plenty of great information out in the interwebs, most of the time we only see the very well marketed, sparkly sensationalised ‘stuff’.

Commonly we’ll see 4 week programs with an irrational progression where arbitrary volume is added by time or repetitions regardless of the readers ability or actual progress. We’ll see recommendations for 3, 4 or 5 minute plank holds or worse still, a list of multiple exercises to target the waist muscles and all at the same time, totally disregarding the readers ability.

My good chiropractor and physiotherapist friends rub their hands in glee, simultaneously frustrated by the lack of  respect for the body.

There is nothing wrong with challenging the plank position every now and then, but there needs to be a solid foundation of strength first.

Abdominal strengthening is much like the strength training of any other part of the body and doesn’t need a special formula for excellent results. For beginners the rules are simple – learn tension for brief moments long before challenging longer efforts (which we’ll get to shortly).

Tension?

In training and coaching we have both the teaching ‘how’ to do something and then we’ll have the cueing. Cueing is a reminder of the key instructions. Generally a frequently used word, or short sentence, again just as a reminder of the important stuff to do.

Tension is one the most important aspects to help develop strength and it could be summed up by one cue – ‘squeeze’. Once you learn the how of building tension to execute a strength movement better the gentle reminder of “squeeze” is often all that’s needed to remind the lifter to, well, squeeze everything to get tight.

The plank is the ultimate squeeze exercise. There is no movement (apart from breathing – that is rather important). The plank is an isometric and something we use in the gym to teach control of tension that is then applied to other movements like the top of the deadlift, or the kettlebell swing, the squat, military press, push up, carries – you see a pattern here? Every strength exercise requires tension, the act of squeezing.

Why? Tensioning up is like loading a spring, compressing it, readying it to recoil with explosive power and awesomeness. Secondly, being tight aka tense, serves to protect the joints, the spinal column in particular and muscles. There is a time for relaxing but not when attempting to deadlift.

Whilst tension practice with the plank is a great tool, performing the plank is also just fine to practice, to get better at planking. It’s ok… really. It’s fine to have a personal goal you know. As a brief side note, you’ll observe many extremists (and social media has an abundance of shouters and followers) who will say you should just do the big lifts and stop faffing around with the small stuff. No one has the right to demand you only do A, B or C. If you want to focus on getting better at something – do it. It’s glorious to celebrate a victory not matter how big or small. Celebrate 🙂

Back to the Plank

Let’s take a peek at a good plank and then a terrible plank before looking at progressions.

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How Much?

Like any other strength movement, short sets are great for maintaining technique and the tension I’ve spoken of.

I typically refer to the volume of an isometric set in terms of breaths. That is, I practice a high tension plank for the duration of 5 breaths for 3 or maybe 4 sets. Can we do 10 breaths? Yes. But master 5 breaths first off.

For a beginner we even take a graduated breathing repetition scheme. Set 1 for 1 breath with the best tension we can muster. Rest then hold for 2 breaths, 3, 4 and then 5. That is 5 sets of gradually more volume for a total of 15 breaths. And that’s perfect – a good starting point for a beginner.

Once the basic plank is awesome, then we can start to play with progressions. We can progress by complexity as shown below or by adding time. This is when we can start to look at holding a great plank for 30 to 60 secs and perhaps more if form is sustainable.

I’ll stop at this point as it’s tempting to provide a challenge haha. If you’ve read this and think you need to work on your plank form, do just that before looking for sexy, fun ways to just make it harder to do. There is nothing sexy or fun about getting a tweaked back due to sloppy plank form.

Got any questions, just fill in the form below.

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Do you Eat like you Drive??

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Most people find that come Thursday or Friday, that their good ol willpower for the week has taken a few hits, dwindled, faded away, leaving urge after urge to give into temptations.

I had just this conversation with a gym member today who explained that she’d had (in her opinion) a bad breakfast. “It’ just took over” she said. She then went on to say, “I may as well just give up for the week and restart on Monday.”

Have you heard yourself say this too?

I used to for sure, as did my wife, my clients of past and probably heaps of people trying to improve their nutrition.

It’s an easy and simple solution. Just give up and try again next week.

But really, is this really going to help the long term goal of improving nutritional habits and fat loss?

We are human. We have faults. We make mistakes. Willpower is not an endless supply of strength. It does dwindle and is much more fickle than you’d believe.

 

What we discussed next has been a massive thought process shift for many clients. A skill like any other skill, the ability to just say, ‘I fluffed up, let’s accept the ‘bad’ meal and move on’, is quite powerful.

Rather than disrupting the process of building a new habit, simply brushing off the mistake as a one off mistake allows us to move on and get back to the game. No need to inflict guilt.

What made the idea stick though was this analogy I posed to her.

“What do you do when you clip the curb with your wheel when driving? Do you keep clipping the curbs until Monday morning or do you deal with it, brush it off as a mistake and get on with life?”

I shouldn’t need to answer that question for you. You can see clearly what it’s aimed at.

We all give in at some point. Often our other half or friends tempt us with chocolate or that big glass of wine. If you do give in, it’s fine. Deal with it by accepting it then move on and don’t wait to Monday to stop hitting curbs.

This might be a real skill to practice. You may start with this: ‘Whenever I drop off my nutrition goals, I will accept it as a one-off, forget it and move on as normal’. Hopefully you won’t have many drop offs and hopefully you’ll not clip many curbs too.

Need any help with your own nutrition goals and habits? Just shout.

It’s Time to Add Life to Your Years

I was once in my 20s. In fact I was once in my 30s and now in my late 40s I can look back and have a really good laugh at myself. I think It’s good to laugh at oneself, at all the stuff we used to value which in hindsight was a total time suck.  This is especially the case in respect of the time I spent on meaningless gym time. Back in the late 90s Friday was always arm day. An hour or even 90 minutes pumping the armacondas from all directions and angles to get them huge for an evening of posing in bars with my redbull and whisky! [enter facepalm emoji here]

Monday was always chest day cause that’s what the Flex magazine told us to do back then and for me, Wednesday was leg day so I was recovered for Fridays evening of dancing the hours away. Did you know that I got offered a position as a cage dancer at one point. Ah, the good ol times. I sure can’t see me getting many offers to dance in a cage at this age, but I do keep my hopes up.

Apart from the fun weekends, I really can’t say I profited physically, from a health perspective, from all that gym time. I can attribute quite a few injuries to overdoing the weekend prep though. Elbow tendonitis, muscle tears, T-shirt tears, hangovers – oh wait, that was the other stuff too!

Yeah there was a learning curve, mostly through trial and error or curiosity, but back in the 90’s there really wasn’t much emphasis on exercise for longevity. What came next just wasn’t part of many educational programs back then. You either trained in group training aerobics or circuits classes or you trained like a bodybuilder. This sadly hasn’t changed much in mainstream commercial gym settings apart from a growth in yoga and pilates but thankfully, many more businesses are gathering a following of longevity trainees. Sorry I can’t think of a better description – maybe you can suggest one?

By longevity I really am referring to training that will give us better traction going into our later years. I want to thrive in my 60s, 70s, 80s and sorry darling wife, maybe even into my 90s.

This wont be achieved by luck alone, winning the lotto or by relying on flexibility, spirituality or watching the sun rise and set. Those things are grand and fine, but they won’t add life to your years.

Read that again. Not years to your life, but life to your years. 

To add this life to your years you’ll need, some practical skills like flexibility, mobility, practical strengths, aerobic fitness and of course good nutrition, sleep and stress management.

I’ll not be going into detail in this post but I’ll draw particular attention to the things I can influence in the gym, like the practical life strengths, mobility and flexibility. No one, I guarantee, will be interested in what you could bench press or how fast you could run 5km when you’re 80. Your immediate family and peers will be more concerned and impressed by your ability to function. Can you get off your chair, toilet, into the shower, get dressed, drive the car, carry in your shopping, pressing linen into the top shelf of the linen cupboards and all the other domestic stuff life will include. “Oh how interesting” says no one, I get it. This doesn’t exactly describe an interesting gym training session haha.

However, a good description of a typical gym session for my current over 50 gym members looks like this:

  • Dynamic warm up – much like this video
  • Squatting movements
  • Pressing movements
  • Pulling movements
  • Rotations stability movements
  • Balance enhancing movements
  • Getting down to the floor and back up with ‘style’ movements
  • Picking up and carrying ‘stuff’ movements
  • Simple flexibility exercises

There really isn’t anything fancy. We use simple equipment when needed and make the routines simple to follow. But essentially each day we practice a very simple recipe.

Each day we practice the skills of:

  1. Squatting
  2. Picking things up
  3. Pushing and pulling things
  4. Carrying things
  5. Balancing

Whilst the ingredients may vary, the recipe is always the same. Simple

KEEP IT SIMPLE

 

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‘Great feedback received just this week’

Heading into Spring towards Christmas we’ll be sharing our successful over 50s program with a greater audience with the release of more daily times for small group training. If you or someone you care for, like you mum, dad, granny or grand dad would be interested, just send them my way or fill in the Expression of Interest form below.

How to Start with Kettlebell Training

Part 1

IMG_8403The title could in reality be about training with ‘anything’. Dumbbells, a barbell, a rock from the garden or a big bag of potatoes. The key in starting and not shelving the notion until Monday is this – keep it simple.

There are millions of training videos, tips, articles and instagram worthy inspirations to blow your mind – let’s do a quick google search here – yep, 48 million search results for Kettlebell Training. I’ve got competition haha.

But my job here is to help you find your starting point. I’m not aiming to motivate you, tell you what to do or sell you something. I simply want to offer a guide for ‘starting’.

For everyone starting out, your starting point will be different. Depending on your background of physical exercise, sports, occupation; you’ll be in your starting point. That does pose a slight conundrum in relation to a prescription, but if I provide categories of movements, there will be something for everyone. Let’s put this in context of a squat with a brief demonstration. A squat is defined as a sitting down movement with the hips and knees bending to their largest (comfortable) range of movement. Forgetting about holding onto a weight for a moment, let’s take a glimpse at a squat (taken from the video to follow below).

The left image is a fine squat to aspire to. The hips descend to below knee height with the back remaining flat. If your squat only allows you to descend similar to the right image, or a little higher, that’s where you are, where you are starting from. It’s okay. It’s not a bad squat – it’s just what it is ‘now’.

The same applies to the other movement categories I’m listing next, from which a good starting program can develop from.

Beginner Movement Categories:

  1. Squat
  2. Hip Hinge (like a deadlift – picking something up)
  3. Press
  4. Pull
  5. Bracing your midsection

We’ll stop there and yes, at just 5 movement categories. That does not mean just 5 movements although that would be just perfect, but 5 categories from which can stem alternatives.

A motivated beginner may start with kettlebells but remember this. We train to make movements stronger. Whether you and your body are ready to add external loading to this equation i.e. ‘we train with loads to make movements stronger’, totally depends on your starting point. And that’s what we’ll look at now, to determine which movement categories can commence with loading (your new flat black kettlebell or garden rock) or stay bodyweight, just you, sans loading.

We train to make movements stronger

To test each of the 5 categories we will take a bodyweight, unloaded version to measure and screen our capacity to move and hold a position. If all good and comfortable, we can be pretty well assured that adding load is good to go. This is not an extremely detailed screening and assessment like I would do with someone in the gym in front of me, but for you to start, it is a simple way to screen yourself to see where you can start and then get started.

 

Squat Screen:

What to Do?

The assisted squat in the video below helps many people focus on the movement of a squat whereas the rocking on the floor helps immensely with developing the mobility required for the squat. Practicing both of these for 2 to 3 sets of 20 – 30 seconds a few times a week will be very beneficial and for the absolute beginner, these two would be a great program starting point.

If you can squat well, grab something light and start practicing short sets of 5 squats holding the weight in front of your chest aka the goblet squat.

Hinge Screen:

What to Do?

This is one of the screens that also suggests the fix. To get better at hinging your hips back, you practice hinging your hips back. Maintaining a flat back throughout is vital. A rounded back is not a good shape to practice in. The free standing movement and the ‘find the wall’ drill are both great starting points. Of course, if this movement seems strong to you, check out this how to deadlift short video.

 

Press Screen:

What to Do?

Pressing is one of those special movements, that when done correctly, feels awesome. Thrusting your arms overhead is one of those human positions of pleasure, happiness, victory. Think of it – what do people do when they win something? They punch their arms overhead. Apart from the feel-good factor, pressing weights overhead also challenges and develops muscles throughout the body. A press (a proper press) is not just about the arms and shoulders. The hips, legs, feet, upper back and torso tense up to assist stabilise the body to allow for a powerful and strong press overhead.

However, we live in a world that doesn’t ask us to put our hands overhead often. Many adults have tight upper back muscles and pectorals and this limits the safe positioning of the arm(s) overhead. But don’t stress, here’s a link to a video with a series of mobility moves to help get those arms up.

If building a foundation of strength is in need, the rocking push up below is a great starting point. Work the range of movement that suits you – you don’t have to get your nose all the way to the floor from the get-go. The second video, the bottom up press helps to develop a straight forearm for an even better press.

If you are good to go, you can get your arms overhead safely without contorting and twisting, here’s a link to a video all about pressing. The techniques demonstrated are applicable to both pressing a dumbbell and the kettlebell.

Pull Screen:

What to Do?

For the most-part, pulling or rowing exercising are a great inclusion for beginner programs and of course more advanced programs. We spend so much of our time with our shoulders rounded, leaning over a keyboard, gripping a steering wheel or folding our arms, that our upper back muscles start to lose purpose! The act of pulling is a step in the right direction. The instructions are simple and clear; pull your shoulders back, followed by elbows until the thumbs reach the side of the chest. If your range of movement is limited by tension in the chest muscles, that’s fine. Meet your body where it is and row. More details are in the video above.

Brace Screen:

What to Do?

Training the abs or abdominal muscles aka the trunk, is a go-to for most beginners but there are a couple of pointers to check-off first. The video covers these but in short, you should be able to maintain a braced or tense midsection, whilst breathing in the nose and out the nose, with your four limbs placed over your trunk and back engaging the floor… like in the video. If this is a challenge, then this is your starting point. No planks or fancy stuff until you can hold this position for a good 5 to 10 breaths. The deadbug is a very suitable progression thereafter. Check the video out.

In part 2 I’ll lay out the program now that you know where you are.

 

 

 

Disclaimer:

The recommendations and ideas on this post are not medical guidelines, but are intended for educational / interest purposes only. You must consult your doctor prior to starting a new exercise program, if you have any medical condition or injury that contraindicates physical activity.

How to Choose a New Gym

Ten year ago if you wanted to find a new gym or trainer, you’d pop up google and do a we search or flick open the yellow pages. For younger readers, thats a big floppy book – ah… a book is a collection of paper containing information, bound together for convenience… sigh!

Getting back on topic, if you wanted to find a gym years ago you searched for it but these days with social media holding such a powerful networking capacity, you have only got to ask however!

A couple of observations:

  1. People are asking for specific solutions from an audience they don’t know, yet somewhat trust.
  2. Those who answer rarely read the full question and reply with their personal preference, often totally missing the actual question details

Quick example I see often is: ‘Hi, I am looking for personal trainer to work with at their studio’. And what do the most replies suggest? Try _____ bootcamp, or buy this App, or my powerlifting club is great. I am sure all of these are great but just not what the person asking was looking for.

An Idea

The following is something of a checklist I like to share for people when they start to consider personal training or group exercise etc.

My intention is not to sell my business because indeed, what I do and what my clients do may not actually be what everyone is looking for.

That’s actually where you should start – know what it is you want to achieve and what you have to give to achieve it.

Consider the following:

  1. What’s your exercise history? Are you experienced, a beginner?
  2. How much time per day/week/month can you allocate to your exercise?
  3. What’s your $$$ budget per week or month?
  4. Know your goals and ask yourself why they are your goals to fully understand your reasoning when it comes to aligning with a prospective trainer or gym.
  5. Make a point to contact the head trainer of each and every gym you look at to check off how their clients train to see if it matches what you are prepared to do. If high intensity interval training isn’t your thing, don’t join a HIIT gym. If you need to get stronger, try a strength focused gym. See below.
  6. How hard or intense is the gyms training system? It does vary. Some gyms focus on high intensity interval training while others train at sustainable strength efforts or focus on ‘core training’, or cardio… know what you like to do. Does the gym even have a system or is it random???
  7. Don’t weigh up the gyms superhero members and their results as it may not reflect your path and or background or the vast majority of that gyms or trainers clientele.
  8. Ask yourself if you actually need to hire a trainer – can you train at home following an online program for a fraction of the cost of a gym or trainer?
  9. As you measure up different gyms and PTs, don’t weigh up or value in price alone.
  10. The gist of this is this: know what you want and really know what the trainers and gyms do with their clients and did I say really know what you want vs what others tell you is awesome for them. Be you. Got it?

I’m just trying to help you think about your decisions yourself rather than relying on the deluge of individual responses on social media.

If you have any questions about this or other matters please do ask.

Jamie