Getting Fitter and Stronger the Easy Way

IMG_8186I don’t always lead the way in our strength programs. Giving clients the option to choose their strength movements gives ownership to that move, to making it their move.

In our latest program we chose two main lifts, an upper body strength move and a lower body movement.

We developed these over 8 weeks without straining and stressing and supported the program with other exercises. We simply expanded our comfort zones – no maxing out, crying or vomiting!

‘This was perhaps one of the most relaxed, chilled out programs we’ve ever done.’

Below I’ll demonstrate some of our key chosen movements (not instructional) and then talk briefly about how they were trained and how they tested out this week.

Swing

Elevated Rock

Kettlebell Press

Rocking Push Up

 

The key component of each target movement and indeed, the other movements employed in a training sessions was NOT to max out, not to strain, stress and grind out the reps. This was perhaps one of the most relaxed, chilled out programs we’ve ever done. We put faith in a fresh understanding of high intensity training that I talked about here.

At the start of the program, session one was used to identify baselines for the two main movements. What weights were considered light, medium and heavy for the swing, how many push ups / elevated rocks were considered moderate and what was considered a medium weight to press.

This was all based on trialling sets with progressive intensity until medium was felt. I’ll not go into details about how we conducted this as it’s not the purpose of the post but needless to say, we identified medium.

From here we backed off to 70-75% of medium on the pressing movements and gradually waved the volume of the sets from just 1 rep to ladder of 1,2,3,4,5 over the 6 weeks and the swings and elevated rocks we kept at 10 seconds per minute for 10 minutes per session. We gradually used heavier kettlebells in the swings. Really quite simple stuff.

Anyway, the good stuff – the results.

The Swing was tested with the 100 swings test – the goal, to swing 100 times in under 5 minutes. Even though we never encountered 100 swings in that kind of intensity (the most we would do over 5 minutes was 35 swings) everyone has tested out with 100 swings in well under 5 minutes and interestedly, finished fresh and not huffing and puffing! We have carried out swing tests like this in the past, but for everyone, they used much bigger weights.

The elevated rock goal was maximum reps in 5 minutes. Probably tougher than the swing 100.

The elevated rock tested out with a total of 70 in 5 minutes. This is quite a feat – I dare you to try this one!

Pressing. On testing the single arm press, everyone finished with a personal record weight for reps.

The overarching goal of the program was to demonstrate how we can indeed increase our work capacity or fitness if you want to call it that and increase strength too but without ever working ‘hard’. Maybe it also demonstrates that you could still accomplish training goals when feeling kind of tired some days. If all you have to do is turn up, do the stuff and go home.

Turn Up, do the ‘Stuff’, go home, repeat. Simple!

BEYOND CHALLENGES AND TRAINING PROGRAMS

(a 6 minute read, so feel free to skip to the proposition at the bottom)

In May this year we launched our two new 12 week challenges with a good response.

These will be repeated soon but, it occurred to me though, that many people might not want just a 12 week training program aka a challenge that takes them from point A to point B.

Some people may want to learn new skills, level up current skills and strengths or may want to just work out with a laid out day to day plan to cover a period of time.

Let me briefly differentiate working out vs training just to clarify.

Training, as the word should imply, is a process of progressing a limited number of strengths, or fitness from your current position to an end goal. An example would be for someone who wanted to be able to run 15 minutes non-stop in 8 weeks when they can only manage 3 minutes non-stop currently. A ‘training’ program would lay out a plan to achieve that based on evidence based best practices.

A second example would be the person who wants to be learn a system to help them be more mobile, less stiff and achey and concerned for hurting themselves. In this case a systematic plan would be built for a predetermined and reasonable time-frame to help the client learn all the essential movements and methods that will help them achieve their goals.

The commonality here is the ‘goal’. The two examples have a goal, an outcome they are looking for. This will always be the case. Just be wary of setting a vanity goal. They can be quite negative in nature. That’s a story for a different time.

But, as I mentioned at the start, we don’t always need goals to make exercise a frequent part of our lives. Yes, during the year we might feel the urge to delve into something based on need, intrigue, interest and desire, but it’s not essential.

Is there a problem with goal centred training programs?

Go, go, go, go! That is the general emphasis for a training program but that is the nature of a training program too. A well designed program will wave or rotate between harder, medium and simpler sessions whilst including suggestions for active recovery. The worst programs are the ones you see as part of a 4 week challenge (usually in newspapers, magazines and social media) where every day is a progression of the previous – a real recipe for overdoing it and inviting injury.

A training program that runs for 8 to 12 weeks will have a systematic, progressive plan to achieve the goal or at least build up towards it. Yep, you might not actually achieve the goal at the end of the time period but with so many variables at play in our lives, this can happen. In all programs I build I do mention that the program isn’t a once off plan. It can be repeated. Many people cycle through a program, take a few weeks of ‘just working out’ for recovery and evaluation before heading back into the same program again, but from a more progressed starting point.

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There is no problem with waved, well structured training programs being run frequently or back to back. It does come down to the individual and their goals and their why. Why they exercise.

What about challenges?

Continuous hard, testing programs or challenges should be measured out infrequently throughout the year if they are even on your radar. Training at high intensities for lengthy periods is hazardous. Even athletes don’t train flat out all year round – so why should non-athletes?

A couple of weeks of ramping up intensity every 3 or 4 months like at the end of a 12 week program, is fine, often fun and rewarding but should be followed by a celebratory period of lower intensities.

Now, getting to what was meant to be the main topic (yes, I do wander a little once a get writing, sorry!) – general, non-goal centred programs.

Every human knows that maintaining a healthy, well balanced lifestyle that includes frequent exercise is good. We all know exercising will make us feel better, move better and live a longer more fruitful life assuming mother nature doesn’t throw a right hook at us.

Many people choose not to accept this position however, deciding that a slothful life is for them, followed by time with pain, illness and a poorer quality of life. Biased opinion? Heck yes. But am I lying? You decide.

We don’t need specific goals to make exercise part of our lives beyond knowing that keeping generally stronger, mobile and capable of getting out of breath will enhance our lives.

So what does this look like for the average person who matches the above statement?

There was a fun tv cooking show years ago called Ready Steady Cook. In the show two teams had only a limited number of ingredients to cook a great meal. The potential for the meal was vast. How many things can you make with some veg, spices and a meat option? Endless.

In regards to exercise, the ingredients are the things we as humans need to sustain for optional physical health. Let’s list them:

  • Walk, jog, or run. Just get going with whatever gets your pulse up and doesn’t hurt.
  • Have a daily movement / mobility practice. Not necessarily yoga or pilates. There are so many simple methods that we can talk about.
  • Squat.
  • Lift things up with a hip dominant move (deadlifting).
  • Push and press stuff.
  • Pull stuff.
  • Carry stuff.
  • Brace your midsection.

That’s 8 categories of qualities we are meant to maintain frequently. We don’t need to complete them every session, but on a weekly basis we ought to tick boxes.

The potential for how we ‘cook’ them is endless and also quite fun.

Once we think beyond the old bodybuilding paradigm of training (3×10 for each machine in a gym – yawn) there are a myriad of options.

On my website home page there is a pop-up that visitors see that offers 20 FREE Workouts on a handy PDF. In each workout there are all or most of the strength moves listed above, each time built in a different way, perhaps with a tool like a kettlebell, or a sandbag or nothing except your own body weight. The repetitions vary, what each follows or is followed by changes, altering the stress on the body that we need, but, we still encounter and practice all the strength skills we need as healthy humans.

For a non-trainer it might seem all gobbledygook (PS I had to to google search how to spell that hehe) or may be a bit confusing and maybe a stumbling block to your progress or even starting and that my friend is why I would like to propose a wee experimental trial.

Earlier I mentioned that I write training programs that build on specific skills and strengths. But, for possibly the vast majority who don’t fit that category, I would love to offer a solution for just turning up and getting boxes ticked – a ‘general physical training’ program.

THE IDEA

An idea I am toying with is to produce a weekly routine I would release to members of such as illustrious program for a tiny, tiny fee that would include all of the above requirements for optimal physical health. A weekly home routine that will include:

  • A daily mobility and flexibility routine.
  • A weekly schedule of strength sessions including illustrations and videos.
  • Suggestions for active recovery and aerobic tasks.
  • A community facebook page for further support, tips and random puppy photos!

Look, I’m just throwing this out there to help me reach and help more people. Not everyone has the time or logistics to train at the gym, so if you would like to be part of this group program, let me know and when I’ve the official launch organised before the end of the winter, you will get your sign-up invitation.

Just fill in the quick interest form below.

If you want any further information just get in touch.

If you’ve got a name for the group, please suggest that too!

Strong Couples Take the Win

The business of personal training has been defined over the past couple of decades as training one person at a time, one-to-one training in other words. That’s what most people consider personal training as being.

However, as a trainer I have to use my time wisely to reach a greater number of people.

The semi-private model starting to rear its head a number of years ago. Forward thinking fitness business pioneers like Alwyn Cosgrove presented the idea of semi-private training where a small number of clients took the same time slot to run through their program with their trainer.

This has a been a great model to adopt for both my business and for the clients who have jumped on board.

The benefits speak for themselves. Accountability, fun, partnership, camaraderie and a wee bit of competitive spirit help clients to turn up, do the work and ultimately, achieve better results.

What I have noticed though, is that when partners train together, the work ethics jump a notch. Maybe it’s because the frequent chit-chat is reduced (compared to friends or relative strangers) or maybe it’s because each partner wants to prove themselves to their partner or maybe it’s just because partners are more comfortable working hard with all the face-pulling we make during hard sets! Haha – who knows…

.. but what I do know is, that when partners train together they end up with better results.


 

With that in mind, I’d like to fill up some time slots with other couples who want to take on their health and fitness goals.

If you and your partner are thinking of taking up some training, this could be your ideal opportunity.

If you’d like to learn more, please fill in the quick form below and I’ll personally get back to you.

 

Group Training in Albany Creek

There was a time when personal training, aka one-to-one training was all I wanted to do and to be honest, the bulk of my time is dedicated to training people in just that way, and I do love taking people strategically through an A to B to Z plan to get to their goals.

However, not everyone wants the detailed ‘I dotting and T crossing’ training programs and just want to get a workout with other like-minded people.

Animal Flow classes are being run on Mondays at 10am and Friday at 9am

Express Strength runs daily 4 – 4:30pm

I’ll be running fun, challenging workouts combining strength training, mobility drills and the occasional High Intensity challenges. The exact plans will of course depend on who turns up!

Don’t be left out and don’t be punishing yourself with Bootcamps… come and play at FitStrong 🙂

Get in contact below to book your spot

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