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.

Bodybuilding and Strength Training… what’s the difference?

At FitStrong we focus on strength training and moving better as adults. Strength training often takes the path of using tools like Kettlebells, Barbells or other ‘stuff’.

But, oftentimes the use of these or even the mention of ‘strength training’ causes some alarm initially to some members. Why? Because they often have concerns with building big muscles.

They Confuse Bodybuilding and Strength Training.

Whilst the tools are the same, the way in which they get used varies considerably. Bodybuilding focuses on maximal muscle fatigue under certain timing protocols or large number of repetitions whilst strength training focuses on short sets, focussed tension and NO fatigue or muscular exhaustion.

For the most part, we work on getting stronger but when the time is appropriate or required, some clients will include periods of the year working on developing some muscle growth.

Typical example would be a young person wanting to get more muscular for their sport. Another would be an older client who needs to work more frequently on maintaining the muscle mass. The process here is less focussed on maximal effort but would use higher repetitions.

For the majority of us though, what we need in life is a stronger more agile body not a bigger body and as such, we prioritise strength and mobility.

Got any ideas or want more to chat more…. get in touch.

Are you Garry Strong?

G’day. It’s a public holiday today in Queensland. The Queens birthday as it happens. But, the gym still goes on (health and strength don’t get holidays hehe)

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Anyhoo, as you’ll probably know by now, we work on moving better (especially for everyone who finds themselves stuck behind a desk or sitting most of the day) AND getting stronger for whatever our lives need.

Simple. Programs can be written to deliver great results for these two areas.

But, one strength that a lot of people do not possess is this…

… watch.

Making progress can happen with the simple act of turning up. Yep, even if you put in a mediocre effort, it’s still better than no effort and sitting around feeling grouchy. I can pretty much guarantee that working through a mobility warm up and then just ticking boxes for the minimum essential dose of the ‘other stuff’ will make you feel better – providing you’re not coming down with something of course.

Adding to your health credits in gradual small steps will make bigger interests than over enthusiastic and inconsistent efforts.

Got any thoughts? Message below.

Step Up…You’re Not a Kangaroo!

The 2010s and onwards will probably go down in history as the period in human development that was enslaved by social media. If in 2018 you are not found on social media and not just google, well then my friend, you just don’t exist!

The almighty interwebs will guide us too when faced with all the modern day quandaries, some helpful and some not so helpful.

  • How do you gut a fish? Let Youtube guide you. It’s how I learned actually.
  • How do you market your online PT business? Let’s some random 24 year old personal trainer help you in return for $12k (sadly true, this one!)
  • What’s the best leg strength exercises? Numerous websites will espouse the value of maintaining a diet of squats, deadlifts and olympic lifting exercises.

While this last recommendation is actually not bad it’s possibly not the best choice for most of us wanting and needing leg strength exercises that add to our health and wellbeing account. Yes, squats and deadlifts are valuable. We spend probably 60% of our training programs employing these two but, we also spend time on single leg strength exercises.

There are no real problems with squats and deadlifts for some of the time but it can be common for an individual to have little imbalances in their hips, ankles, particular muscles which will be unknown to the exerciser until something hurts.

Hurting sucks and yes, if you’ve tried some one leg strength exercises, they suck too.

Often times the more something sucks in the gym, the more benefits it holds and we should practice the sucky stuff until it’s not so sucky anymore. 

Balance or lack of is probably why single leg work sucks. The balance issue is most commonly due to the smaller synergistic muscles, the joint stabilisers, not knowing quite what to do when called upon. As great as squats and deadlifts are, they can become quite efficient quite quickly and some imbalances can arise.

We are bipedals designed with the intent to walk, run, climb and lots of other stuff unilaterally – one leg in front of the other. Our bodies are meant to utilise the muscles that control hip, knee and ankle posture and position as well as the muscles that actuate movement.  We are not Kangaroos!

By taking a little bit of time to work on the single leg exercises we can prevent a lot of pain if we were only to train bilateral movements like squats, deadlift, leg presses, kettlebell swings and such.

To compliment our bilateral movements, what unilateral / one legged exercises can we include?

  • Lunges
  • Single leg deadlifts
  • Various staggered stance squats and dedlifts
  • Step ups

Today, I’m going to run through step ups. Now, you might think there’s not too much to consider with technique. You might take steps at home, work and in the shopping centre, but to get the most out of your time doing step ups, there are a few considerations – so hear me out.

  • Start with a small step and progress to a larger step as you need to
  • Ensure the complete foot is on the step
  • Brace your midsection throughout the repetition
  • Drive pressure through your heal as you start the step up
  • Grip the step with your toes
  • Push the step down with your foot and hip
  • How far forward your knee travels is a personal comfort thing, but to start with, try to keep the knee no more than over the toes
  • At the top when upright – squeeze your ‘butt’
  • Try to control your descent – don’t just drop back down
  • You can repeat the same leg for a set before changing legs or you can alternate legs per repetition.
  • Add weight is needed – if your balance is good

Let’s look at the step up in action…

There are a few variations, but this is the main version we use at the gym.

How to program? 

This is totally dependant on the individual and goal, but for general strength, 3 to 5 sets of 5 reps prove enough. You could use these on a weekly basis to include after squats etc or you could work them harder, with more focus for a few weeks every 2 to 3 months while just maintaining a simple squat etc routine.

Next week I’ll look at another single leg delight.

Want to tell me how much you hate step ups? Please get in touch below.

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!

12 Week Challenges

Many trainers will agree that a training year has seasons. There’s a season for pushing forward towards a specific goal and other periods where training kind of takes a back seat, when just the basics get maintained. Both are vital actually. For physical and emotional / mental recovery, down periods of just turning up, ticking boxes and heading home, are just what the doctor ordered.

Our 12 Week Challenges are designed for those other periods where you’ve got fire in your belly and target in sight.

The two challenges I have laid out last 12 weeks each but can in actuality, last much longer. Both are built with blocks of specific outcomes, from basic skills of strength and endurance to more advanced levels. Each block may be repeated until the trainee feels properly armed to move on.

The challenges

The Bodyweight Challenge is a simple and great fun program that allows you to explore a variety of bodyweight strengths, motor skills, mobility and dexterity – in other words, get awesome ownership of your own body.  This program is suitable for trainees with a basic understanding and experience of moving their body on the floor. If you can squat yourself down and up and hold the plank position – this will suit you.

Minimalism is a key component of the challenge. You’ll need very little time and just a comfortable space to move around. On that note, you’ll not really need too much space, just a safe space to crawl a little and allow your arms and legs to move freely without knocking over ornaments or the TV!

The 12 week program is built with 4 blocks of 3 weeks each.

Each week you’ll ‘play’ with three different movements only. I don’t want you to get overwhelmed by too many exercises. The aim is to get really immersed in the minimal necessities of the challenge and push yourself.

Each week will see you progress the movements with an optional time progression should you want to intensify the sessions.

Each block too will progress your skills and strengths until we get to the final block where we really get to have fun. In this block everything you’ve covered and learned will be tested with each session being a flow of 3 or more movements. Flows are a superb way to exercise in a non-restricted manner. No restraints – just moving through the movements you’ve practiced over the weeks.

The challenge will be presented via a downloadable PDF that you can either print out or refer to on your smartphone or wifi connected device. There will be video links with demonstrations to highlight the key forms and techniques.

Should you opt to carry out some of the sessions during your PT, you will be guided through the steps.

Throughout the challenge, email support will be unlimited. Any questions about regressions, progressions or substitute moves will be dealt with swiftly.

12 Weeks DONE FOR YOU Bodyweight Training Program

For just $20 this 12 week program is yours – interested? 

 


The Kettlebell Challenge is magnificent Strength, Power and Muscle program that allows you to develop a deeper array of motor skills, strengths and mobility – in other words, an awesome functioning body.

This kettlebell challenge is designed for experienced kettlebell users. Although reference will be made to good techniques, specific tutorials are not part of this challenge. If you need guidance please get in touch.

Minimalism is a key component of the challenge. You’ll need little time commitment and just one, two or maybe three Kettlebells to play with – don’t worry if you only have one kettlebell, this whole program can in fact be carried out with great affect with just one kettlebell. More variety would be better, but not essential.

The 12 week program is built with 3 blocks of 4 weeks each.

Block one

Builds a foundation of functional hypertrophy with the important strength moves. During this phase we also build a strong midsection and lower back.

Block two

The focus is on starting to master the skill of strength. The principle goal is not to get out of breath but get stronger.

As a secondary component, we do introduce more power movements in this 4 week period too to optimally recruit every muscle – so your fitness won’t leave you.

Block three

We take all the skills and strength we’ve developed over the past 8 weeks and let them shine in this 4 week block. Sessions will be a little shorter but you’ll be using the time wisely with explosive routines accompanied by secondary conditioning elements.

The challenge will be presented via a downloadable PDF that you can either print out or refer to on your smartphone or wifi connected device. There will be video links with demonstrations to highlight the key forms and techniques.

Should you opt to carry out some of the sessions during your FitStrong Brisbane PT sessions, you will be guided through the steps.

Throughout the challenge, email support will be unlimited. Any questions about regressions, progressions or substitute moves will be dealt with swiftly.

12 Weeks DONE FOR YOU Kettlebell Training Program

For just $20 this 12 week kettlebell program is yours – want to start?

 

Strength training for Cyclists

I remember 1996 as the year that my cycling took a major career hit when my left knee packed in.

Slight scoliosis resulted in pelvic rotation while sitting on the bike and left me with my left knee driving out to the left and right knee almost banging off the top tube! End story – bye bye cartilage in both knees and knee caps.

Whilst undergoing physio for the knees I had to keep moving to stop myself going crazy. I remember telling myself it was a huge gamble to start training with weights and risk getting heavier! I know, crazy mentality but atypical of most cyclists. Already I was a 69kg heavy cyclist (hard to avoid at 6ft 2!) and the thought of being heavier kind of scared me considering the climbs in some races. I wasn’t sure what else I could do to stay fit but I knew the resistance training would help me stay strong on the bike, whenever that was going to be again.

This ‘anti-weights training’ rational is a common thought most cyclists will agree to and along with taking time away from the bike, it’s a hard sell. But, timing the inclusion of strength training will benefit every cyclist. Let’s just list the benefits of including strength training pre and post racing reason (if you race) or as a weekly plan for recreational cyclists.

Benefits:

  1. A stronger body has better tolerance to fatigue
  2. Strength training will help resolve muscular imbalances in the limbs and torso
  3. A stronger midsection will reduce the likelihood of back pain on the bike
  4. A stronger body overall improves efficiency out of the saddle during sprints and climbs

Whilst it may be tempting to focus on squats and leg press etc for cyclists leg strength, there are better options that in turn present much lower risk of injury.

Fatigue is the cyclists greatest enemy on the bike, well, in addition to big hills, crazy drivers and mad dogs. Fatigue hits especially hard after short efforts, like hills, sprinting and tackling a headwind. During these higher efforts the muscles need to recruit as many motor units to get as much of the muscles working as possible. Strength training in its simplest form acts as neurological switch. Muscles won’t necessarily grow to become stronger, the brain learns to adapt to the stress of strength training by recruiting a greater number of muscle fibres per contraction – hopefully that read as simple as I see it!!

To bring upon this adaptation, frequent strength training should be practiced with sub maximum efforts with short sets of specific specific movements proven to help cyclists. The volume you’ll be glad to read, should also be low. We want adaptation but not at the expense of feeling battered and sore heading out on the bike. So a minimum effective dose is applied to acquire a beneficial outcome. Let’s round this off to two 20 – 30 minute weights sessions a week – not much you’ll agree.

In this post I want to share a few exercises that may form a starting point. They focus on tying together your bodies core – everything from shoulders to hips and I’ll include a great leg exercise. Why the focus on the core? Your core or let’s just refer to the torso, is the centre of what ties your body together. A strong torso will allow you to transfer more power throughout your body when needed. Imagine trying to sprint without use of the upper body and arms – pretty useless you’ll agree. The body works as a complete unit to deliver power to the pedals.

The following are of course just examples of what is included in a more complete program. These three movements don’t address individual weaknesses (impossible to do on a blog post!) so if concerned, just check out the videos for reference only.

Oh, and yes, after a year of weight training I came back so much stronger than before, and yep, the extra few kilos on my frame didn’t hinder anything…. go figure!

The Birddog

 

Rocking Push Ups

 

The Single Leg Deadlift  

 

A New Program for Cyclists 

This post and the previous are a brief glimpse into a new program for fellow cyclists that will be released this year.

I’ll be offering this as a 6 week program but for limited numbers of applicants as I want to offer a great service which can often be lost with large numbers of participants.

The program will provide more personalised routines that will develop great on the bike strengths whilst addressing personal weaknesses and limitations.

The program will include the best warm ups, recovery routines and of course the periodised strength plan. Each and every exercise will be taught with detail, not just following demonstrations. The plan can be personalised further by taking into consideration frequency and time available to the individual.

If you are interested in getting stronger as a cyclist and want to work on eliminating the frustrating aches and pains that maybe keep you off the bike from time to time, get in touch below. You can use this form too to get put onto the early registration list… no financial commitment is required at this time of course.

Oh, and wait, if you are not local to Albany Creek (Northern Brisbane suburb) I will also be putting together an online program will be nearly as good as the in-person program.

Interested? Send off the wee form below.

What to eat for performance and getting leaner?

Yes, what a topic to confuse everyone. The choices are numerous and every single ‘diet’ has one common theme – a total energy deficit. Whether it’s a low carb, high carb, high fat, high protein or whatever diet, there will always be a calorie deficit involved.

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So whilst change is hard, let’s keep the advice simple, and real.

If you really want to get those muscles strong and lean, any well structured program will deliver but only if your nutrition is dialled in.

A progressive strength program will run in phases to set you up, get you strong, then probably have a hiked up period of boosting your metabolism. To get these specific adaptations in the muscles we need to focus on a limited number of movements, perform them well and repeatably. 

To get a return of investment from your efforts and muscles the eating advice is clear:

If nature grew it out of the ground, off a bush or a tree, or it ran, flew or swam (plants and critters in other words) you eat it. Don’t be fearful of carbs – just keep them natural.

Here’s a wee list of what I find works the best to stay lean:

1. First off, cut added sugars. Seriously, if you want to drop excess weight, start with dropping the sugary stuff.

2. Replace the frequent starchy food for vegetables. Bread, potato, pasta – gone. More veg – in. This is especially important on non-exercising days.

3. Good news. You can eat your starchy carbs post exercise, but one portion, not a plate piled high with chips or pasta. 1 portion = a potato or a wrap or a palmful of rice.

4. Per day you will have to be sure to consume your proteins. Aim for non-processed protein sources and these can be non-meat plant based proteins if you prefer.

How much?

  • Men = 4 – 6 palm sized portions a day.
  • Ladies = 3 palm sized portion a day.

5. Eat HEAPS of of vegetables. I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again – to fill you up and to provide your body with oodles of nutrients and minerals, eat a variety of vegetables. Aim to have every colour represented every day. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower are great and versatile.

6. Water. This is Australia folks, we sweat. Replace those fluids and help your body flush out toxins by drinking around 8 glasses a day – or just more than you’re currently drinking. A great tip that has helped others is this. Every time you take a sip of water, take a second sip.

7. Last point. Don’t get hung up on recipes. Just prepare food and meals that you enjoy eating taking into consideration the points above.

 

My best advice is to take a week by week progression, much like the exercise component.

Week 1: How can you make breakfast (your first meal regardless of time) a little better. What can you prepare and eat easily without fuss? A quick omelette? Yoghurt with added berries and seeds? Boiled eggs? Experiment.

Week 2: The same process with Dinner. Maybe make a big dish that’ll last a couple of days, for lunch too. Like shredded pork? Cook up a shoulder overnight, and shred as needed – yum. How about a bolognese sauce that can be eaten with so many options? Fun and simple to prepare but make enough and it’ll last a few days.

Week 3: Maybe it’s time to hone in on the shopping list. Write a list that reflects the meals you like to prepare and eat and shop accordingly – that easy.

If you are not the main meal preparer – talk to who is about what you are trying to do and work with them. Support them as they help you.

You get the idea? Gradually try to implement the tips to progress your meals to good, better and betterer. I used to write ‘best’ as the final goal, but really, that’s unattainable in the real world.

Strive for continued better.

Any comments or advice or feedback – just get in touch below.