Not Getting Results?

For many people they exercise, train, workout, whatever you want to label it; just to be physically healthy. They don’t really care about progressing or shooting for personal bests. For these people, sticking to their habit is the success – to these people, I salute you.

Other people want to see and feel noticeable, tangible outcomes. They want to see repetition numbers, KGs, KMs go up. There has to be progress.

However, sometimes this does not happen when expected, or results halt. There are some potential reasons that I want to list below. Some of these may be obvious but hear me out.

Top 10 Recovery Tips to Boost Your Training Results.

  1. Not sticking to the plan. A plan only works when it’s followed and it is very surprising how many people can’t commit to a 4, 6 or 8 week program. Program hopping rarely favours results. Understand a plans expectations and follow it through.
  2. Sleep. Aim and plan for 7 hours a night. 8 if possible. And try to make it good quality sleep. The sooner before midnight you can hit the sack, the better chance of catching better quality Zs.
  3. Check out how much fun food you’re eating aka junk food – sweets, biscuits, that sneaky bar of chocolate that fell in the shopping trolley etc. cut it back. 
  4. Protein. Make sure you’re eating enough protein every day. Whether it’s animal or plant based, aim to eat 1.5 to 1.8g per kg of your lean weight. As a guide that’s about the same size as your hand x 3.
  5. Eat like an Adult. I have mentioned junk food and protein, but vegetables and fruits really should be present in your daily nutrition. Sure you might not like a lot of what you see on the shelves, but find a selection you do like, and invent lots of ways of eating them… or just make a smoothy!
  6. H20. Yes, water. Wash up, take a cold shower “brhhhhh”, but keep drinking water frequently during the day. If you struggle, here’s a tip. Every time you take a sip of water, take a second sip. 
  7. Health check ups. Get your blood tests done annually. Better to be sure.
  8. Reduce your stress. Get outdoors, walk, job, bike ride. Choose something enjoyable that gets you out for an hour or so. If you like to potter around the garden like I do, do it. It feels good. All that Vitamin D is awesome for your immune system.
  9. Move. You don’t have to train hard every day but moving gently every day is a blessing. If you can roll out the exercise mat and stretch, rock, roll, just belly breath, you’ll boost your recovery and probably have a great session the day afterwards. Check out these Mobility Videos.
  10. Like a drink? While a wee glass with dinner is okay, finishing the bottle of Cab Sav isn’t. Reduce the alcohol to allow your body to metabolism body fat better, rest properly and enhance sleep, lower systemic stress and prevent dehydration. Pretty much all the other points above can be boosted by reducing the booze.

I did mention following plans to the end. How about weighing up these items to see how you could improve.

I’m here to help should you need to talk about it.

Jamie

How many Kettlebells do I need?

I’d really love to have a gym with a long line of kettlebells, all lined up numerically in military fashion… oh, wait… I do. Ah, but I train people, people in all shapes, sizes and abilities. I also train a handful remotely via this www thingy.

I use kettlebells for all the many benefits they bring and every single person starts their strength regime at a different point. For some (read many) no weights are involved to start with, as we build technique, movement proficiency and a solid foundation. Once ready, we move on with an appropriately sized kettlebell. 

The key loaded movements that kettlebells excel with include pressing overhead, front squats, carries and naturally the kettlebell swing, clean and snatch. 

For everything else, bodyweight movements prove optimal. I’ll not go into these details here but feel to ask. 

One question I get a lot however is – ‘how many kettlebells do I need, and should I use two at the same time’? 

This is one great question. I’m not a man for wasting money on things I will never use. If I end up with something in the gym that never gets used, I sell it on. 

Regarding kettlebell training, is has proven good practice to have a small range of kettlebells that allow you to:

  1. practice with great form and little distraction
  2. practice with a focus on strength and grinding (safely)
  3. practice with a medium effort.

For ladies this might equate to an 8, 10, 12kg or an 8, 12, 16kg and gents, a 16, 20 and a 24kg kettlebell. 

The second part of that common question relates to double kettlebell training. This is an option for both pressing and squatting i.e. holding a kettlebell in each hand as opposed to single kettlebell training. 

What’s the difference? 

Single kettlebell training is, for most people, a great starting point. holding the kettlebell in one hand for an overhead press allows the user to focus on individual shoulder / arm strength, condition and form. A single kettlebell is great for the goblet squat to build the ‘shape’ of the squat and a foundation of strength. A single kettlebell is perfect to learn the hinge and snap of a kettlebell swing.

A single kettlebell held, racked on one shoulder will also expose asymmetries (imbalances) during a single kettlebell squat. It always surprises me and the user, when they goblet squat, say a 16kg with perfect, easy form, then rack it onto one shoulder to find they twist like a noodle!

Loading one shoulder will always expose weaknesses.

Someone wise

However, when one is relatively balanced and seeks strength, muscle building and a metabolically charging training program, then double kettlebell training is the solution. 

Yes, you may still be pressing a 20kg kettlebell, but there is now 40kg on your frame, not just 20kg. No-one can argue that won’t make you stronger. 

The same goes for cleaning the kettlebells to the shoulders. Cleaning a single 24kg bell is great, but a pair is magnificent. Racking up two 20-24kg kettlebells for front squats will vastly boost lower body strength.

Anyhoo, to conclude: 

If you are a kettlebell enthusiast, a few kettlebells should inhabit your training space and ideally, doubling up is a great idea and investment. 

Need help with your kettlebell training? Why not get in touch and we can chat about what you need and how I can help.

Ground Based Locomotion

More and more often I find myself referring people to practice the Bear, Monkey, Frogger and the Inverted Crawl (aka the Crab). These 4 ground based locomotion exercises alone address so many weaknesses, develop great strengths and offer a fun element to any training block. Staying stable, controlling or resisting rotation through the torso and … Continue reading Ground Based Locomotion

The Floor Project

My goal with the new Floor Project page is to encourage you to spend more time on the floor, as you rest, work, move and perhaps eat a meal or two.

Over 55 and Want to Move Better and Stronger?

At FitStrong Strength and Wellness I specialise in helping people to move better, with fewer aches and pains and develop essential real-world strengths. 

I am looking for people over 55 who want to get more limber, stronger and physically healthier.

If you know you need to move better and stronger but don’t know where to start, simply fill in the contact form attached below or message me on 0450487237. 

PS this is NOT a Bootcamp 🙂

When?

I am open to start new sessions upon request, day-time or evening. 

No contracts or memberships are needed. We like to keep things simple.

And if you’re not over 55 but like the sound of how we train, get in touch anyway.

Real world calisthenics

Calisthenics /ˌkalɪsˈ θɛnɪks/

I’d like to throw out an idea for your consideration; the idea of creating a training program with calisthenic movements that are contextual. The context I want to refer to (apart from a specialist strength or sport program) is the real world and the physical activities that stress our bodies on a daily basis or from time to time. If we are not preparing ourselves for our current and those potential physical activities and challenges we really are doing ourselves a disservice.

I totally get the reason for hitting up the local equipment packed gym with the intention of getting bigger muscles, to pull a bigger deadlift or to row a faster 5km. It feels good to see results. I’ve been there and (mostly / kind of) enjoyed the process.

You know what feels better though?

Being capable, competent and safely confident when met with physical challenges. I was reminded of this recently when a client spoke of a friend who goes to the gym frequently (and trains hard) but gets his kids to lift the shopping out of his car because… wait for it… he’s afraid of hurting his back!!!

I am a fan of purposeful training, much like I’m a fan of purposeful anything. Time is not for the wasting. Don’t get me wrong, I love to explore new things, but anything I do try out is for the greater cause and if it fails to benefit in any way, it’s gone.

So to recap, ideally the majority of our time exercising, training, practicing (whatever you want to call it) should be benefiting us.

Next, let’s look at traditional calisthenic movements. Calisthenics is defined as a form of strength training that uses our bodyweight as resistance and involves multiple muscles in full body movements. These range from pushing, pulling, gripping, squatting and hip hinging as well as jumping and climbing activities. Breaking these down to the usual suspects we have moves like:

  • Push ups
  • Pull ups
  • Squats
  • Vertical and broad jumps
  • Planks

These form the basics and they are great. In fact, the FitStrong January program is built around ‘reviving’ foundations with these movements.

Street calisthenics has been a growing progression to calisthenics over the 15 years or so but really takes the concept of bodyweight training to a much more athletic or dare I say performance level. Do most of us need to do a human flag, levers, flips and spins? Whilst cool, I don’t agree that it’s what we need to do if our goal is to live stronger and for longer.

Real World Calisthenics

Most us of will have a life that requires rather similar physicality’s. Carrying in the shopping, gardening work, taking out the bins to the roadside, lifting our kids or elderly (it’s going to happen at some time), cleaning up the house and all those other household DIY jobs. And it’s all good. We are meant to move and do all of these plus more. Most of us don’t have to hunt and forage our food anymore, but we still have a huge capacity to manage many physical tasks – if we are prepared.

Prepare by practice.

I’ll now start to break down how we could practice or ‘train’ with real world calisthenics. Again, let me categorise our real world movements.

  • Pushing
  • Pulling
  • Lifting and carrying
  • Getting down to the ground and back up again
  • Jumping over something, onto, off and across
  • Squatting
  • Low to ground locomotion, aka crawl like manoeuvres

Mostly, these are rather similar to traditional calisthenics. With a thoughtful couple of minutes you can easily imagine how these fit potential physical eventualities.

How would a training program look?

First off, a great program doesn’t need to be sterile and void of fun. A great program also doesn’t need to take ages. A lot of benefit can be gained from 30 minute sessions, three or even twice per week. Each session could be used to work on a handful of movement skills in a circuit or over three 10 minute blocks. You could practice the same movement skills per session and gradually build up the effort, or reps or repeat efforts.

There are so many options.

What I will do next is provide two training sessions that demonstrate this idea of real world calisthenics. I’ll pop up a follow up video post to check out or follow along with.

If you like what you see, I will have a progressive program made available soon.

Got any thoughts or ideas? Get in touch.

Don’t kill time, love it

How many times do you hear people say they’re killing time in the gym or whatever else? Yeah, I know it’s just an expression but the underlying statement implies time can be just thrown around like some spare change. 

However, time can’t be earned back. If you’re in the gym just doing stuff, you’re not spending time on other valuable agenda items. You know, things like spending time with your family, tending to your home, garden, preparing healthy meals and attending to your career. Actually, much like the last two points there, you don’t just go to the kitchen or work to kill time. You follow particular tasks to accomplish specific outcomes… and that leads me swiftly to my point here. 

Use your time in the gym to accomplish specific outcomes. 

  • Turn up.
  • Do the work.
  • Don’t quit

Three mighty fine rules to live by in the gym, the kitchen, in your chosen career and family time.

If your goal is to move better, practice that. If you goal is get stronger and more useful, practice that. If you want to [enter the goal], do what must be done.

Now, for many people, they might not know for sure what the practice should be to move better, stronger etc.

That’s where the willing professional comes into play and this is where I make my offer to finish off 2020.

‘Express FitStrong’

Well, I could have been more imaginative in the title, but in keeping with the message, it says what it is – express.

Express FitStrong offers the chance to get straight to the point with the minimum fuss. In these 30 minute sessions we’ll warm up and prepare very specifically for the following session. If you’re coming in to work on lower back pain issues – we’ll focus directly on that. If you’re coming in to work on your deadlift strength, explosive power or metabolic conditioning, we’ll get straight to that. 

Our slightly longer sessions do of course focus on goals, but we always include the ‘other stuff’ for a very well balanced routine, but let’s consider the wealth of time for some people and just get to the job at hand.

In keeping with the theme of 2020, this is available both virtually via a choice of video platforms or in person. 

If you’re keen to jump onboard, get straight to the point with express training, email ASAP. 

Metabolic Training part 2

Last week I re-introduced metabolic training with MovNat Metabolic, their new online program. Here’s that post.

I’ve finished week 1 and was surprised at how the use of such various natural movements and equipments pushed me a bit. 30 seconds of effort always seems longer than 30 seconds of rest! Odd that, hey?!

I never got to the point of sharing my breakfast with the floor, but I definitely had to focus on maintaining my nasal breathing in the latter rounds when the efforts work on a continuous flow, or combo of the sessions movements. It felt a bit like a a last minute dash to get all the yard work done before dinner on a cold day.

It was cold mind you (which helps for this kind of training) but I followed up this particular session with a good 5km walk. It too felt great. The recovery benefits of a walk post training are lengthy and worthy of a good conversation at some stage soon. But a combination of gentle movement to untangle the fatigued muscles, pumping the blood around the body and the behind the scenes lymphatic system stimulation really aids in recovery. Much more so than plopping down in front of Netflix with a protein shake.

Todays movements include the side step up, vertical jumps up & down, push press, side swings on pull up bar and the tripod get up. A fine collection of contextual movements.

Did you know I provide online coaching? If this kind of training tickles your fancy, I would be more than happy to chat about working together.

Are you ‘Real-World’ Fit?

Does your exercise support real-world demands?

Much of the time people exercise to accomplish an outcome, a result or even just for the sake of it, because it’s healthy, to burn energy, calories or time!

Whilst just working-out is fine, wouldn’t it be awesome if our exercise endeavours actually prepared us for the physical needs of an active life?

Having bigger muscles might seem like an ideal, but really, when you’re getting old, no one will care how much you benched, how big your guns were or how many insta-likes you had. “What’s instagram”? They’ll ask!

What really matters is how well you will function.

Can you balance, carry heavy ‘stuff’, climb, step up, crawl, run and jump? Can you get to the ground and back up effortlessly?

Strength training with machines, bars and dumbbells and kettlebells are great tools. They will build specific strengths, but they don’t always carry over to the real world apart from building general resiliency. The human skills to move and age with strength, power, purpose and fitness is something that takes a different form in the gym – if indeed a gym is even needed.

At FitStrong we practice all the usual strength exercises from squatting, deadlifting, pushes and pulls etc but we back these up with heaps of practice of natural movement, real world strength and fitness skills that will support you during the weekend gardening spree, house renovations, that big weekend hike and much more over the coming years.

If you’d like to chat about this and how it fits your lifestyle – let’s catch up.

I can design you and your family a routine I can take you through at FitStrong or the local park, or make you a follow-along at home routine, with any variety of things you may have lying around. Traditional gym equipment is not a requirement!

Even though gym restrictions are lifted (and hopefully will stay that way), I am happy to meet virtually with video conferencing, in the park or of course, at my outdoor covered training area in Albany Creek.

movnat_certified_shirt_low-res1

High Intensity Training ‘without’ the Pain!?

Pain and discomfort, throwing up after exercise and sore muscles the day or days after is not an indicator of progress… believe it or not!

Working overly hard is hardly working compared to working strategically hard… and that’s what I’m about to get into here.

My last blog post discussed High Intensity Interval Training and it’s many demons for both trainees and even the gyms who don’t overly sell this over-marketed form of exercise.

Today I’m introducing to you the findings of some exciting research that demonstrates receptively how a simpler form of training hard (yes, I’m saying you can still work hard) elicits better and safer results.

This updated method of performing high intensity training for strength and power comes from the latest evidence based practice (and much research) from StrongFirsts Pavel Tsatsouline and plenty of credit goes too to Dr Craig Marker who shares his research with the wider StrongFirst community of instructors.

So boys and girls, let me introduce you to Anti-glycolytic training (AGT)

First off, let’s check off a few truisms.

  1. Some exercisers like to feel pain when exercising hard.
  2. Most exercisers don’t like pain the day after training.
  3. Working hard feels great to some people in the gym.
  4. Most people are exercising in part to burn fat / lean out.
  5. Most exercisers just follow the herd.
  6. Most gyms and trainers do not care about health first (just count all the gym chains that focus and market HIT!)
  7. 80%+ of training benefits are gained through accumulation of and adapting to moderate volume and intensity throughout the year.
  8. For a day or two after an HIIT session, quality of life is compromised and gym time is cut or affected (stiffness, pain, low motivation).
  9. HIIT does have its place – in a peaking phase of training once or twice a year for a few weeks only.
  10. Mmmmm, #10 – Training hard but NOT to the ‘burn’ can help promote more favourable circumstances to oxidise fat over glycogen (blood sugars) as the main fuel during exercise.

Listing 10 is a total accident there in case you’re thinking I worked hard to come up with 10 key facts.

By definition, anti-glycolytic training refers to not using the glycolytic energy system during high effort training.

Digging a wee bit into exercise science for you, here’s the normal sequence of fuel sources the body uses once high effort exercise commences and continues.

Instant Energy: ATP/CP

Stored in our muscles and liver, adenosine triphosphate and creatine phosphate is a powerful, clean fuel that gives us the quick bursts of energy we need for a quick dash up the stairs, vigorously scrubbing the bath or a quick sprint. A set of 5-7 swings or a heavy press fits in this energy category.

Downside – it drains out very quickly requiring us to rest to replenish the ATP or, to start utilising the next energy source.

Fuel Booster Energy: Glycolysis

Glycolysis is a slightly less powerful source of fuel than ATP/CP itself but it will last up to 2 minutes further but, it’s a dirty fuel. The metabolic waste bi-product of using this fuel source is probably something you’ve experienced in the past in the lovely sensation of burning pain in your side. This is the feeling of a build up of hydrogen ions that the body is desperately trying to buffer out of the body – it’s removal as a waste product takes priority over any further energetic efforts. So, you’ve got to rest up to let the body do what it does – repair itself!

These highly acidic waste products cause a few issues that in the long term, we want to limit and prevent.

Issues of concern include:

  • Inhibits the creation of more ATP.
  • Causes damage to cells.
  • Extends the recovery times between training sessions.
  • ‘Muscling’ through further repeated efforts carries increased risk of muscle strain, poor form and breathing patterns will take a hit – doesn’t sound too healthy actually!

Oxygen

For efforts to continue longer than two or three minutes, we cannot depend on the ATP/CP system or glycolysis and must instead rely on the use of oxygen. This incredibly efficient energy system utilises the oxidation of fat to produce energy the ins and outs of which go far beyond the scope of this post. This is where you get your energy for basic functions, long walks, jogs, bike rides and in the sporting realms, ultra marathons and such.

No supplements are needed to optimise this fuel source, just a lowering of the average overall intensity and breathing in lovely oxygen.

For the most part, we want to spend time using the latter and avoiding the nasty bi-product producing glycolytic system whilst still training to get stronger.

“How’s that gona work”? You ask.

Knowing that the ATP/CP system lasts 10 – 15 seconds or so and that we want to prevent going into the glycolytic system of producing energy we now have a window in which to work. Work in this case means hard work, explosive and pushing the comfort zone to the upper limits.

Yeah, this sounds like any other HIIT session doesn’t it.

So let’s define HIIT in its standard form.

HIIT = maximum effort intensity for a predetermined time followed by minimum time to recover and repeat.

Tabatta for example is 7 – 8 rounds of 20 seconds max effort and 10 seconds recovery. It was designed to be carried out on an indoor cycle and not the terrible forms you can see being performed in some gyms and programs.

While not all intervals are in the form of the now famous Tabatta, they all follow the same principle of max effort, short rest, repeat and pass out on the floor. Yay – way to go.

What is observed in E.V.E.R.Y workout is that form and technique and power output diminishes per round. The final set does resemble the first set in the slightest.

Is this good training practice?

Will this really develop good movement practice?

Will this create a good stimulus for strength and power improvements?

No

This has been observed for quite some time but was accepted in the name of forcing the body to accept the new level of pain and perhaps an increase in V02 max. To be honest, while conducting such training on an ergometer, running, rowing and such, there is only so much scope for a degradation in form compared with the likes of kettlebell swings, snatches, barbell moves and other loaded tools.

So, getting back to AGT, the findings in the labs have been quite the game changer and not what you’d expect.

What has been seen is that by stretching out the recovery time between high efforts of 10 -15 seconds, the body started to adapt to demands for ATP/CP through the oxidative system.

Essentially, if you stop asking the body for fuel sourced by the glycolytic system it is more than happy not to go there. Why would it – it’s damaging. Not what the body does best.

We know that strength is a skill and we talk of practicing the skill of strength to, well, get stronger. It works, it makes sense. It therefore goes without saying that being able to repeat those high effort bouts is a sane approach to high effort training.

It is now about High Intensity ‘Repeat’ Training.

Kind of ironic how the label given to High Intensity Repeat Training has the acronym of HIRT! You’ll possibly never feel the kind of pains and hurt from this method compared to HIIT.

Having these numbers gives us a massive boost in programming some high effort training to keep everyone happy, to increase our fat adaption during exercise and avoiding burnout, injury and all those aches and pains for the days following the training session.

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How the Program looks

Amazingly simple looking, the program goes like this:

  • 10 seconds flat out with powerful, crisp and strong form
  • 50 to 90 seconds rest
  • Repeat for up to 10 rounds.

Done!

The rest period will depend on the individuals recovery rate.

An easy method we use is the talk test. Once the exerciser can speak a sentence without gulping for air, they are ready to go.

With time and as the session seems to feel easier, and more manageable, the 10 seconds of high effort can be stretched to 12, 15 seconds.

For simplicity in the gym, we’ve found that 10 secs ON and 50 secs OFF works just fine.

What exercises?

The movements that the exerciser can carry out well and safely at high efforts are the obvious choice.

Consider:

  1. Kettlebell Swing
  2. Medicine Ball Slam
  3. Sprinting on the spot!
  4. Clean and Push Press
  5. Cycle sprints.
  6. Kettlebell Snatch.

This list is no particular order but I do prefer the kettlebell swing as a stronger swing equates to a stronger clean, press, squat potentially and a bigger deadlift as well as all-round feel good factors. Who wouldn’t mind swinging the heaviest kettlebell they can get their hands on.

Actually, on that note, when we last ran this program last year, one lady started swinging the 12kg and finished 8 weeks later swinging the 32kg! A gent also started on the 20kg and finished on the 48kg!

Impressive you’ll agree.

So that is the first component of this next program.

Are you game??

Jamie

Kettlebell 10 Min Plan

I’ve been talking a lot recently about solutions for anyone who’s stuck for time to exercise. We all get those times of the year when our days get eaten up with life ‘stuff’. Oftentimes if we haven’t got 45 to 60 minutes we think there’s no point in trying to do a training session… after all, ‘what can you possibly do in 10 to 15 minutes’?

If you’re a kettlebell fan, there are certainly lots of options. I will be going into much more detail on our new Online Membership that goes on release tomorrow but for today, you’ll find a simple 10 minute routine below… it’s in real time so you can follow along if you like.

The PLAN

  • 1 or 2 kettlebells
  • Start each set Every Minute On the Minute (EMOM)
  • Rotate between the Clean and Press, the Front Squat and the 1 Arm Row

So in brief, each minute you start a set and rotate each exercise. It’s a circuit of minimalism. Now, there is roughly 30-40 secs rest between each exercise set but keep in mind that there are minutes between each specific exercise (from squat set to squat set etc).

Today I was working on a medium effort day, so I worked with kettlebells that felt 70% to me for 4 reps. A hard day may be more like 6-8 reps each and an easy day would be something like just 2 of each.

That is exactly how we schedule sessions. An Easier day, a Harder day and a Medium day.

Anyhoo, here’s the action oh, and sorry about absence of sound during a particular section. Youtube doesn’t like background music which I forgot to turn off – “oops”!

 

Would you interested in joining our membership online?

Just $1 a day for:


👉🏻 day by day training programs
👉🏻 short 10 minute workouts
👉🏻 mobility tips to get less stiff and achy
👉🏻 teaching videos for all the major movements we use and need
👉🏻 access to all the big successful programs we’ve delivered over recent years
👉🏻 Q&A opportunities at the tap of a button
👉🏻 live training sessions 😀

What can you get for $1 a day?

 

➡️ Here’s the membership site link ⬅️

Foot and Knee Width Whilst Squatting

If you frequent your gymnasium every now and again (hopefully more often than not) you may have worked on your legs. I sure hope you do cause these things have to carry us around for a good while yet.

But, so many people do not carry out leg work like deadlifts and squat or their variations due to some prior experience with pain. This does not mean deadlifting and squatting are bad for you, it just means you haven’t found the particular set-up for you.

What do I mean by set-up?

Most times you read about squatting or deadlifting you’ll read about generic foot and knee width or set up. Mostly it’ll say to place feet hip width apart or something like that.

However, it’s just a general statement. We are all special snowflakes and will all have quite different biomechanics.

In the video below I talk about how to find your own ideal knee width, foot width and then foot positioning. Did you know that both of your feet may be angled totally differently to achieve a comfortable squat?

 

Got any ideas? Agree? Disagree? Want further details or advice?

Just get your fingers tapping below.