Is HIIT a component of Wellness?

There are many quotes we bounce around the interwebs these days but today I’m quoting Benjamin Franklin when he wrote in his letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy in 1789, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

A commonly used quote that denotes life has two certainties but yet, many, many variables. Let’s call these variables ‘choices’ just for today in this short piece.

We all have choices to make in our lives and especially true of our health and fitness choices but it does seem like most exercisers are simply following the herd without really looking at what they are doing and why they are doing it.

Just because something feels good, that doesn’t make it good for you!

I was going to write up this blog post but instead decided to talk to you instead. If you can’t watch all 10 minutes, that’s okay but I get into discussing HIIT (high intensity interval training) and how it’s showing NOT to be the best, most sustainable choice of exercise to benefit our lives.

You could just leave it there. You’ve read that I’m about to discredit HIIT as a training method and that simpler, less painful training works better! To find out the details, how about just watching the video?

Next time I’ll chat about the alternative to HIIT training that’s both healthier long term and actually provides better results – go figure!

Maybe a shorter video for that one haha.

Until then, be good to yourself 🙂

Jamie

 

Kettlebell Complexes

Our programming has been building up in 2019 to tackle some of the best ways of training with kettlebells. Whilst carrying out individual exercises in sets of a circuit is great, carrying out Kettlebell Complexes is both immensely fun and beneficial. January we worked on setting up the year with a very healthy start. February we worked on developing strength endurance which leads up to this months strength capacity.

What’s that you ask? 

Strength capacity is simply defined as the amount of strength work you can conduct in a given time. By the end of this month, most gym members and online trainees will be carrying out considerably more work per complex without really having to get seriously out of their comfort zone.

The ​Kettlebell complex​ is perhaps one of the more popular methods of programming for a some very clear and concise reasons. You take 2+ movements (3 to 5 being best) and string them together to execute each movement back-to-back. Simple! 

Without going into too much details, Complexes:

  • Have been proven to increase body fat oxygenation.
  • Are very time efficient.
  • Increase conditioning and strength.
  • Are great fun… albeit a rather twisted kind of fun!
  • Make use of just 1 or 2 kettlebells.

 

‘No matter what your goals are—strength, mass, conditioning, or cuts—kettlebell complexes deliver. This is why they are so frequently featured in training plans by our best program designers like Master SFGs Geoff Neupert and Dan John.’

Pavel Tsatsouline

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Screenshot from our Program menu within the Online Membership site.

 

Over 4 weeks we’ll be progressing from simple to somewhat more ominous sessions.

Online members and gym members do get the option to personalise these should there be need, but in every case we’ll work on adding a little bit of volume per week, so subtle it’s practically unnoticeable.

 

One Complex we’ll be employing comes from the library of fantastic workouts from Dan John – the Armour Building complex.

Here’s a quick demo.

 

For all those enthusiastic Bodyweight trainees who are choosing to leave complexes for another time, I have built a routine of short and interesting bodyweight flows. Essentially a complex and a flow are the same thing. One just refers to using an external load while a flow is bodyweight.

Here’s a quick demo of one of our bodyweight routines.

 

If you’d be interested to join in, head over to our Online Membership site and sign up for the month.* It’s only $1 a day! Oh, you’ll also get access to e.v.e.r.y other program on our site during the month including all the teaching videos and resources.

ONLINE MEMBERSHIP

Got any questions, just ask me below:

 

*Join for 1 month for just $30 then cancel as soon as you want.

How to Lose the Aches and Pains

Walk into most gyms and you’ll most likely see patrons rolling themselves out with foam rollers, PVC pipes and various massage balls into all sorts of body parts. Maybe you ‘are’ one of those people!

Unless a medically certified therapist has shown you how to do this, you probably could lose it from your life in favour of using a simpler method. Don’t get me wrong, self massage with rollers and balls etc can be helpful in the short-term to aid with loosening tight spots but, do you really want to be doing it every time you want to exercise?

The body has the great capacity to mend itself, to realign itself or hit ‘reset’. You just need to give it a chance and learn some fun moves to let you get on with your life. No pain, no strain, no balancing on foam rollers and bruising massage balls.

Members of FitStrong have for a few years followed the same preparation routine, maybe with a few personalised adjustments, which has allowed many to jump into much more physical endeavours than they imagined. Some have said bye-bye to back pain, some can now swing a golf club without wrenching their backs and everyone just feels better every day.

Isn’t that ultimately the goal of exercising – to feel better?

Anyhoo, if you would like to try out this Reset program, please do get in touch below and once I set a a few times and dates, I will get in touch with you.

 

Kettlebells in Brisbane

Brisbane is an extraordinary place. People living in this part of Australia venture out in search of great days out, great food and new experiences, often finding the bizarre, the intrepid, unusual and down right clever. I’d like to propose the Kettlebell as one of those in the intrepidly clever category.

Since first sight to westerners, the cast iron ball with a handle has raised both fear and intrigue. Many gym goers, bootcampers and new year new body resolutionaries have all ventured into the perceived territory of the hardcore to use the kettlebell (often referred to as the cattle-ball or kettle-ball… sigh). Most without instruction have ended the day with an ache or an injury or a reassured impression that the Russian weapon is indeed dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.

Sadly, the same can be said for those who have received ‘instruction’!!! Instruction is probably not the best word to use because these poor victims were subjected to hardship and torture rather than intelligent teaching and instruction.

Most ‘trainers’ who use kettlebells in their classes and activities have in most cases, not been taken through a vigorous program of learning how to teach the common kettlebell movements. Instead, trainers have chosen to use this wonderful device as a tool to beat people up with to show-off how cool a trainer they are for making them work so hard.

(I probably should not have written that last paragraph but it is the honest truth so I’ll leave it there.) 

In order to sell courses for the CEC chasers, course designers have packed multiple movements into their courses to keep them exciting with various movements and exercises. It’s an unfortunate trade off. Cut back on the opportunity to truly learn the essential moves for brushing over way too much to learn.

The real joy and down right cleverness of kettlebell training is not just in its simple shape but in that the tool with a single handle lends itself to performing an essential package of exercises without hassle. The way in which you learn to hold and move with the kettlebell provides feedback between your limbs and the kettlebell. It is in affect, a self teaching tool and yes, this does mean you can hurt yourself if you don’t know how to perform the moves and read the feedback.

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Correct Grip

I’ve had consultations with prospective clients who have seen the line of 36 kettlebells against the edge of the gym and declared their feeling – usually of hate filled past experiences with poorly educated trainers. What a shame.

Look, don’t get me wrong. I am NOT putting down other trainers. We all have to start somewhere in our careers but it is so important to know our scope of practice and to truly take our time to learn how to use our tools before starting to teach others the same.

My process is to teach clients how to move better first-off before loading up with weights. By the time we are ready to use weights, there is a level of trust between us and getting onto using the kettlebells is just the next logical step.

I mentioned course writers eagerness to entertain earlier, with way too many options. Options are fine and perfectly acceptable where required but any good training program should include these essentials:

  • Carries – carrying one or two kettlebells in various positions to develop breathing under tension and torso control / bracing.
  • Squats.
  • Hip hinges, like deadlifts, swings and such.
  • Pushes and presses.
  • Pulling actions.
  • Explosive actions, like the swing, clean and snatch.

The average population training 2 to 3 times a week does not need much more than the above. Add some daily walking and some aerobic activities, good sleep and nutrition and ‘whammy’, there’s a great recipe for health and fitness.

There’s a greater chance of a trainer getting bored than a client getting bored using this short list of moves so professionally, there is not reason to keep swapping exercises every week. Repetitions, sets and loads vary over time as do how the list of moves are ‘packaged’ together in the session. But keeping it simple wins e.v.e.r.y. time.

If you only work with a short list of roughly 6 movements, how well do you think you will progress, get to know the movements, get stronger and more confident? Very well most likely. At the other end, if you work with 20 to 30 variations, how well will you progress and learn how to perform each and every one of them over your 2 to 3 sessions a week? Probably not so well I’m guessing. Keep it simple is the rule.

Confession Time!

I can actually speak from experience. My first kettlebell certification in 2009 was a two day course with roughly 30 different movements that we spent roughly 15 minutes on each with lots of other fluff thrown in too. Would you trust an instructor who had 15 minutes of ‘professional’ instruction on an exercise??? I know I wouldn’t be too confident.

I did spend time over the following 2 years playing frustratingly with some of the moves and all but gave up until in 2011 I saw a Russian Kettlebell Challenge instructor certification was coming to town, well, Melbourne, but that was close enough.

The RKC was the Black Belt of Kettlebell Certifications (and the precursor to StrongFirst), renowned for its strict conduct and roughly 35-40% of candidates failing to pass the testing at the end of the 3 day certification.

The reason the certification is so strict is for some very professional reasons.

  • The association wants to ensure its instructors will conduct themselves professionally and represent strongly.
  • They want to ensure their instructors are able to demonstrate proficiently and safely.
  • They want to make sure their certified instructors are committed to teaching the kettlebell movements and system and not just wanting another CEC.

The experience candidates will encounter will be like no other fitness instruction certification that exists. It will be deep, intense, involve lots of demonstration and practice, skills and tests throughout the 3 days culminating in a tough instructor testing procedure… and that’s prior to teaching a volunteer to demonstrate teaching competence!

If successful, an RKC or a StrongFirst certified instructor will offer their clients a professional experience when they attend training above and beyond the average PT session in a high-street gym. If you want cheap, you can find it everywhere, but if you want a quality experience, look up your local RKC or StrongFirst instructor.

Gearing up for re-certification

As thorough as the certification process is, it is advisable that instructors re-certify to stay on top of their teaching skills and abilities with the kettlebell.  I am in that stage this year, polishing my skills. Perhaps part of my writing this today is an act of accountability. “I am telling you all that I will undertake re-certification this year”. Mmmmm, hopefully that will work.

I am confident my weekend as a student not just a trainer will be fun as usual and that I will walk away excited to share my experience with my clients.

What about you?

I do run ongoing private workshops for people who want to experience a little bit of the Hardstyle Kettlebell world. My own Kettlebell Fundamentals program was launched in 2013 for budding enthusiasts who wanted to learn how to properly use their shiny new black kettlebells. Many attendees came for the workshops and have stayed on as clients, so bitten by the kettlebell bug were they.

If you are interested in experiencing the feel or real Kettlebell training, please do consider a visit to FitStrong.

FitStrong Kettlebell Fundamentals

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Want to chat? Get in touch below.

Thoracic Spine Mobility Tip

Moving better and getting stronger is rather contextual. For an average gym attendee it’s a clear message; “I want to lift heavier stuff” or “I want to carry out more complex movements”.

But, if you’re an individual with back pain (or any pain) at rest, whilst carrying out day-to-day activities or whilst trying to engage in exercise, the message is different. It becomes qualitative rather than quantitive. Working out hard or following the most advanced, cutting edge, progressive strength training plan is irrelevant at this stage.  Getting out of pain and discomfort is top priority.

Most of the general population will have some form of mobility issue. It could be as simple as a slightly stiff ankle or hip or shoulders none of which seriously affects the quality of life or it could be as impactful to cause pain and discomfort.

One area of mobility impairment I observe in the gym is thoracic spine mobility restrictions, or in simple terms, the limited range of movement of the upper body through rotation or side bending and also overhead reaching activities.

The thoracic spine (aka the T-spine) comprises the 12 vertebra that covers the shoulders to the waist, or the rib cage portion of the torso.

If the thoracic spine has restrictions, the lower backs lumbar spine will compensate and attempt to move more, not something it’s meant to do. This can often result in fatigue, pain and discomfort. Where I see the restrictions more often is at the top end, where the neck and shoulders take on more work and become stiff, tired and strained. Essentially when the upper torso doesn’t move well, the arms end up compensating and over-reach. There is indeed plenty of research that supports the theory that thoracic spine movement dysfunction is linked to pathologies and pain in the neck, shoulder, and elbow (Heneghan et al, 2017).

Thankfully there are systems in place to help rectify this the help of health practitioners and some trainers who may have qualifications in postural restoration – and positive outcomes can be quick. One study showed that after just three weeks of thoracic spine mobility and strength exercise practice, that participants improved movement competency, strength, posture and pain relief.

Today I’d like to share a couple of T-spine mobility drills we practice often but with a couple of tips added to help make the most of them. We are only human and oftentimes we’ll try to cheat, or get a bit complacent. My modified versions of two common drills have helped many clients actually get the benefit of the moves.

 

Have a go and see how you feel but naturally, of you’ve got pain, maybe go see your local physiotherapist for personalised guidance.

Jamie

How to Bulletproof Your Future

Part 1

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In the gym it’s pretty obvious how we spend our time. People turn up, we warm up, we do some strength work and movement skill work, have a chit-chat then say our ‘see you next times’.

The why and the what else is all-too-often not discussed in much detail apart from some passing suggestions about getting in some aerobic work and keeping up some stretching at home etc.

This year, my goal is to help people bulletproof their futures. 

I’d love to be offering a proverbial radioactive spider to help turn you into a superhero version of yourself, and actually, compared to to an alternative, I might be doing just that!

This year I will naturally be spending time espousing the benefits of strength and mobility training, because that what 90% of my gym time with people is spent doing. BUT, I am going to be spending more time promoting the other stuff, the things we probably do not spend enough time promoting.

My role is that of a health and fitness promoter, not just a personal trainer. Fitness is what most of trainers spend lots of time on but health… meh, we could be doing heaps better at that.

Our bodies maintain a healthy balanced system when it’s treated as intended. It’s a bit like a bike chain. Left unused it will rust, stiffen and eventually fail when used. Our bodies have a blueprint, a design and a purpose. There are a number of things we are meant to do daily and frequently to sustain the balance.

Let’s look at these briefly. I will be spending time over the coming weeks looking more deeply into these according to what research has found and I’ll cover to how to action improvements.

  • Sleep 7 to 9 hours a day.
  • Eat a balanced diet of plants, proteins, fats and water too.
  • Stay strong in all the movements our mechanics perform in.
  • Walk daily and get out of breath from time to time.
  • Move well and often without restriction, pain or discomfort.

What happens when we drift away from our intend? We specialise. This is a subject that puts the cat right amongst the pigeons.

Whilst admiring a specialist and their very particular set of skills, they have most likely sacrificed many other essential elements of what makes up complete health. 

A few general examples:

  • The cyclist who does not work on their strength training
  • The powerlifter who neglects their body fat levels and aerobic health
  • The overly busy father who works 55 hours a week yet neglects his family
  • The very busy mum who focuses entirely on her children and family and neglects their own fitness and nutrition
  • The Gymnast who focuses wholeheartedly on their sport and sacrifices their joint health

While you can admire all these people for their dedication and successes, isn’t it a shame they sacrifice to do so. It’s not a moral shame either. It’s a shame that the essential physical components that make us fully operational humans are missing. Being mobile, strong, aerobically capable; being able to fully recover from each day with good nutrition and adequate sleep is what amounts to enable our bodies to thrive. Being good at one thing is fine, but the pay-off is a health trade-off. 

2019 is the year I’ll be wearing more of my health promotion hat and not just my PT hat. So much of my last 10 years have been spent on learning and developing better knowledge and application of training programs, exercises, progressions, regressions and systems but one thing has become quite apparent – it just doesn’t matter if we are not getting the basics of health in place.

If you’re following a training program, not getting stronger, not losing fat, not feeling fitter, most likely it’s not the training that’s to blame, it’s the poor attention given to these other components. 

Before contemplating becoming an expert or a specialist, weigh up being a really good generalist. Being able to undertake a wide array of components of being human is so much more wealthy than being awesome at one or a restricted number of things. 

Until next time, do weigh yourself up. What are you doing more of or what are you doing proportionately less? Consider that list above:

  • Sleep 7 to 9 hours a day.
  • Eat a balanced diet of plants, proteins, fats and water too.
  • Stay strong in all the movements our mechanics perform in.
  • Walk daily and get out of breath from time to time.
  • Move well and often without restriction, pain or discomfort.

 

Part 2 – Sleep 

 

Taking the Long Road

 

longevity

Most of us will be privileged to live on this earth for around 80 years or so, give or take a Zombie apocalypse or our politicians hitting the big red button in a temper-tantrum. The key word here is ‘live’. By live I mean to thrive, be strong, fit, healthy and absent of illness and disease. This is in contrast to just surviving which sadly we can observe in greater numbers in this, the 21st century.

While the great diseases of the 18th, 19th and early 20th century are all but non existent, we have growing number of people suffering heart conditions, diabetes, obesity and the cancers to name but a few.

This is not living – this is just surviving. 

We have a choice to lead a healthy life and these days we even have an abundance of resources and teachers who can guide us in the direction of a healthier life. It’s not actually that difficult once you decide to take ownership of your own existence; what you eat, what time you go to bed at and following a routine of exercise.

Living a monastic life void of all treats is not necessary but living a life of good, better and better(er) choices is achievable by everyone.

The simple choices can lead to many health benefits that in the long run, will add up to a better quality of life.

  1. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.
  2. Eat mainly unprocessed foods comprising of proteins, healthy fats and carbohydrate foods that occur naturally.
  3. Walk every day for around 30 minutes. Not brisk. Just walk.
  4. Practice strength training 2 to 3 times a week.
  5. Daily, perform some form of stretching with a movement system you can enjoy. Just a few minutes a day can have wonderful affects.

You can choose to to just hang around until our nations health system has to take care us until death, or you take care of all the little things that add up to health longevity, living and thriving until our final day.

As my good friend Coach Steve Furys tag line goes – ‘Die Mighty’.

Steve Maxwell is another longtime coach with some wise words to share about longevity.

 

Got any thoughts?

FREE Trail Online Membership

Yes Christmas has passed but I’m kicking off 2019 with happy thoughts of rainbows, unicorns and free trials of my online strength and fitness membership.

For 1 week only I’m sharing a FREE version of my Online Membership. I invite you to have a good look around, maybe try one of the 10 minute short workouts or check out the monthly programs, special programs, mobility drills and all the other stuff.

The full version actually has over 44 months worth of programming!!! Crazy hey? And for just $1 a day.

The free version has downloads disabled along with the 8 other teaching courses I’ve bundled to the full membership but this version still has heaps of info 😀

The free version will be available until next Wednesday, the 16th January.

If you’ve any suggestions or questions or if you’d like to jump onto the full version at any time, just get in touch.

Just click the pic to head over to the Membership Site

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Got any feedback, suggestions or ideas? Get in touch below.

New Year Promise

I was talking to a client this morning who mentioned that her local park run event (5km recreational running events held weekly) broke its attendance record and we dully laughed knowing that attendance will most likely drop within the next few weeks.

This will be the same observation in gyms, other recreational sporting events, slimming groups and other dieting support groups.

Why?

Dreams built off of lofty goals. Goals that are unreasonable, unmeasured, unhealthy and based on poor knowledge of how to achieve the goals. If you’ve had the new year resolution conversation, I’m sure you’ve heard something along the lines of, “I want to lose 5kg”, or “I want to get fitter”, whatever that means. I bet you’ll rarely hear, “I am promising to myself to get healthier”.

And that, ultimately is why anyone should start to exercise – to improve ones health.

Health goals could include:

  1. Losing fat.
  2. Lowering stress.
  3. Sleeping better.
  4. Lowering blood pressure.
  5. Lower risk factors associated with heart disease and cancers.
  6. Rebalancing hormones.

Here’s one interesting fact. Aerobic exercise carried out daily has repetitively shown to help ease or remedy all of the above. Additionally, addressing any one of the above items has been shown to help with the others on the list.

Wanting to exercise to improve your 5km run time or increase your deadlift should be queued behind having great health first.

So let’s clear up what great health is and what does that mean in relation to the above list.

If you are overweight, your health is at risk. It doesn’t matter how happy you are if you are overweight, the facts of the matter are that carrying around excess weight be it from extra fat or muscle (now that’ll rattle a few people) is or will negatively affect your health.

A simple way to measure if you are overweight apart from the obvious, is this guide.

If your waist is more than twice you height or BMI is over 25 then you are overweight.

Stress is pretty much self determined and heavily influenced by the the things we do onto ourselves. Not always of course, but the way we react to day to day stresses varies from person to person.

Some signs of stress:

If you are getting angry at people around you or at yourself, you are stressed.

If your sleep is affected by not being able to let go of your day to day difficulties, you are stressed.

If you are experiencing negative feelings or emotions about yourself, you are stressed.

If you are getting frequent headaches, chances are you are unduly stressed.

If you are experiencing stomach, gut and bowel problems such as heartburn, acid stomach, flatulence, diarrhoea, constipation and irritable bowel syndrome, then your body is under stress.

If your blood pressure is higher than healthy thresholds, then your body is under stress.

If you’ve just increased your weekly high intensity exercise by more than 20%, you are stressing your body unduly.

If you only perform high intensity exercise, you are putting your body under excess stress.

If you drink more than the recommended units of alcohol per day, you are stressing your body.

… The list could go on. For many of these, talking to your doctor is vital.

The presence of ill-health is a clear indicator too that hard exercise has no place in your routine.

The point is, if your body is not operating as it normally should, it is under stress. Taking on extra and ‘intensive activities’ has no place in your weekly routine until good health is restored. Hard exercise is a stressor on the body so adding more stress to an already stressed system should clearly be seen as unwise.

The picture being painted here so far is that hard exercise has no place in the life of an unhealthy person that includes one who is overweight, overstressed and under sleeping.

If you are a beginner and overweight and maybe exhibiting some other health issues and you want to improve your health and fitness, going out for a run, carrying out some random HIIT workout from Youtube is NOT what you should be prioritising.

Remember at the start I mentioned the health benefits of aerobic activities? That is where you should start. It might not be the most exciting or stimulating, but you know what, getting injured, having a heart attack or stressing your body to throw up after your run is not much fun either.

Every new endeavour must start with reasonable actions that are repeatable for the rest of your life. Yep, you’re in that body for a very long time and it is your choice whether you thrive or barely just survive.

How about starting with a 30 minute walk, every day. You don’t need a membership or even fancy workout clothing. Just stick on your shoes, open the door and go walk. Do close the door behind you of course 😉

Over a week of walking you’ll expose yourself to a bit of sun, increase your Vit D, breathe and stimulate your heart and lungs and start to switch on some muscles that have been inactive for a while all with a low intensity form of exercise that you were born to do.

Forget the high intensity stressors. Feed and love your body and promise to yourself to do so every day of your life.

 

Membership is Open

Bye Bye Summer… hello gym time!

… and today I’m reaching out to everyone in my nearby suburbs in Northern Brisbane. 

I’ve recently announced the New FitStrong Morning Membership for everyone living near to FitStrong in the Brisbane Northern Suburbs.

I am now reserving the early morning sessions exclusively for morning members.

Benefits:

  • Unlimited mornings Monday to Friday
  • 45 minute sessions within 5:30 to 6:45am
  • Professionally designed programs
  • On-board program for beginners
  • Limited to 4 people per session
  • Only $50 per week

If you want to get stronger, fitter and exercise in a small group, this could be what you’re looking for.

If you would like to chat about the morning training program further, please do get in touch below.

If you’re motivated to make your 2019 a fitter and stronger year, why not book in for your first week. Just click the link below. 

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And, if you are far, far away and would like to receive virtual training check out our exclusive online membership.

click here