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

 

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.

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HOW TO MAINTAIN GAINS OVER THE HOLIDAYS – PT.3

Welcome to part 3 of my short series about how to sustain a minimum affective dose of strength over the Christmas period. In part 1 and part 2 I covered variations of three staples of strength. Push, Hip Hinge and Squat have been chosen for simplicity and variety.

In this part I ramp up the effort a little. This is not obligatory of course, just an option if you wanted to increase the effort of part 2’s suggestion.

  1. Continue to practice the A-frame inverted press, maybe with a greater range of movement or try the option shown, the Bear Crawl. Aim for 5 presses or 5 paces of the bear crawl
  2. True Single Leg Deadlift. Stand tall, abdominal wall tense. Lift one leg, keep it limp. Inhale and drive hips back allowing knee to bend a little and grip floor with foot. Exhale and drive hips forward. Swap leg or stick with the same leg and repeat for 5 reps.
  3. Single Leg Box Squat. Stand in front of a knee height step or gym box or dining room chair. Stand on one leg and hip hinge first and lower to find the box. Rest back a little before tightening up the torso and driving back to standing. For a harder option, just touch and go with the step. If you have aspirations to accomplish a pistol squat, this is a great strengthener in preparation.

 

Got any thoughts or feedback? Get in touch below.

 

Do you like the idea of 10 minute plans to build your fitness and strength program? This is exactly how we plan most of our programs for clients. Our Online Membership is a fine example of 10 minute blocks where we assemble our daily routines with blocks of 10 minutes. Short on time – do 1 block of 10 mins. Got plenty of time – complete 3 to 4 blocks of 10 minutes.

Check out the online platform by clicking below.

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Disclaimer:

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

How to Maintain Gains Over the Holidays – Pt.2

In part 1 we looked at just 3 moves to keep us ticking over during the busy festive period.

Today, in part 2 I’ll show you a simple progression or variation of the Press, Squat and Hip Hinge.

  1. The A-frame press version of an inverted press is a great progression to the kneeling inverted press. Somewhat harder, but as you’ll see in the video, your ability will dictate the range of movement. Your legs can be bent or straighter, and you can just bend at the elbow if your strength requires it. With practice you would be able to progress the elbow bend to the point where you can reach the floor with the top of your head. Practice makes progress.
  2. The kickstand squat is almost a 1 leg squat but not quite. It doesn’t require too much balance (compared to a true 1 leg squat) but allows you to focus on the strength and mobility of one leg at a time. Weights are optional.
  3. The Single Leg Deadlift is also a great option to strengthen 1 leg at a time, but more the posterior of the lower body. Balance is required but pay attention to the variations spoken about in the video. To develop better balance we first need to explore losing it, albeit carefully!

Over a 10 minute period rotate through these 3 moves for roughly 5 repetitions each. Do be sure to warm up first off of course.

Here’s the video 

 

Got any thoughts or questions? Get in touch.

 

Disclaimer:

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

Have a Healthy and Stronger 2019

IMG_6958Christmas is getting so close and I plan to let my hair down, eat what I want and enjoy myself with family. I hope you will too.

I am also looking forward to January though, when it’ll be time to put focus back on health and fitness Fitstrong Brisbane.

On Monday 7th I’ll be kicking off our January Challenge with an emphasis on creating better nutritional habits and following a simple but effective training program.

Random workouts from Youtube or a magazine are fine if you just want to build up a sweat, but they rarely result in achieving goals. I can proudly say that we follow training plans all year round at FitStrong. These are laid out to address and prioritise specific goals and not just to get tired, sore and sweaty. I could poke you with a stick if that’s the goal!

Our systematic approach is applied to both in-person training at the gym and for online training members.

Okay, back to you now. Ask yourself.

  • Are you committed to improving your fitness and health in 2019?
  • Can you set aside 15, 30 to 45 minutes for yourself daily or 2 to 3 times a week?
  • Have you got a health or fitness goal?
  • Do you want the assistance of a very experienced coach?

If you can answer yes to these, please do consider joining us at FitStrong either as an online member or at our Albany Creek gym. Our training options can meet any budget from $1 a day to more higher ticket detailed packages.

Check out our Online Membership site below:

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If you are ready to take 2019 by the horns and get healthier and stronger, get in touch below and I’ll get back to you with start-up options that won’t break the bank!

How to Maintain Gains Over the Holidays

I’ve been talking a lot recently about the value of sticking to a plan both in terms of a timely routine and working with the big important albeit simple strength moves.

You know: 

  • Squat
  • Hip hinge
  • Push stuff
  • Pull stuff
  • Carry stuff
  • Brace your torso

This does get challenged especially at busy times of the year and not just at Christmas time. The overwhelming feeling of, “sure what’s the point if I can’t do a good 45 minutes in the gym” is all too common a thought and a downfall in maintaining the benefits of exercise. You don’t have to firing on all cylinders all year round and a reductionist style program maintained briefly can help the body rest, progress and give you some mental uplifting too.

I’ve already espoused the benefit of aiming for even a short 10 to 15 minute routine and this week I am doing it again.

Repetition is the mother of all learning.

This week I am supporting the use of three strength moves to practice, with some progressions built-in in case you want to play along and experiment with what a light, medium and harder 15 minute routine could look like… with just three movements.

This light, medium and hard approach is how we build our programs here. We rotate through these relative intensities to provide opportunities to focus on learning and practice, working a bit harder and then perhaps testing the body and progressing forward.

This week let’s look at the:

  1. Inverted Press (for the upper back and shoulders / arms)
  2. Squats (for the backside and thighs etc)
  3. Hip Hinging (for the backside, hamstrings etc)

Here’s the video

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Need to ask me something?

 

Disclaimer:

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

 

Nothing Wrong With Taking It Easy!

We get bombarded with messages from commercial fitness that we need to hit the gym and hit if hard or, like, what’s the point?

Now, before you start to think I’m wimping out in my old-age, I’m not saying to take every exercise session as a doddle in the park. Yes, sometimes you have to get a little bit uncomfortable, but not every time you exercise.

Today I’ll share a routine where I start with our simple daily mobility movements and then move onto just a little bit of waking up for the big body parts. As I explain, I could move onto more strength focussed moves afterwards, or I could just get on with my day. Stick to your plan. Oh, you do have a plan don’t you? If not, see me after class!

Follow along with the video to get your day off to a good start.

 


 

IN OTHER NEWS

I am looking for people who want to avoid the gym and exercise from the comfort and convenience of your own home.

Save your precious time, listen to music you want to listen to and follow specialised programs for busy people. Members of FitStrong Online follow what they can when they can. From as little as 10 mins to as much as 4 blocks of 10 mins. It’s your choice… and it’s just $1 a day!
FitStrong Online Membership offers: 

👉🏻Ongoing training programs
👉🏻Bodyweight and Kettlebell focus
👉🏻Teaching videos for all the major exercises
👉🏻Live training sessions 😀
👉🏻Efficient 10 minute workouts
👉🏻Currently 28 different programs – potentially 42 months worth!!!!
👉🏻6 – 12 Week Challenges
👉🏻NO CONTRACTS. Try a month and cancel if it’s not for you
👉🏻Mobility tips to get less stiff and achy
👉🏻Access to the most successful special programs we’ve delivered
👉🏻Q&A opportunities at the tap of a button
👉🏻Nutrition and Lifestyle guidance
👉🏻Accountability Calls

Interested? 

To check out the membership site, click below.

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The ‘Priority’ Kettlebell Complex

Did you know it’s totally ok to have only a short amount of time to train and to have training priorities and to expect results?

Usually time constraints mean you have to sacrifice moving forward towards gaining results in strength and fitness and have to instead make do with maintaining, or practicing. These latter two are of course vital aspects of continuing training but it’s commonly accepted that moving forward is only possible with detailed and lengthy training sessions. While this is true for big goals, you can still up your press, squat, cleans and swing strength with this simple Priority Stacked Complex.

A complex if unfamiliar, is a set of more than 2 exercises carried out back to back without resting the weight on the floor. An example would be performing cleans, moving straight to push presses and moving straight onto to performing front squats.

You can of course organise the sequence of the individual exercises to prioritise one exercise over the others. An example here would be performing more of the push press whilst carrying out fewer of the other movements.

A stacked complex is what I call a complex that grows per set by adding on a new additional exercise. I stack on a new exercise to practice after the first and prioritised exercise. In essence, the first exercise performed is the priority, the second is second priority and the final is least. All based on the total volume you’ll amount over the rounds.

The below routine demonstrates this idea.

The Priority Stacked Complex

Note: the 3 sets = 1 round.

Day 1.

  • Swing,
  • Swing, clean and press
  • Swing, clean and press, squat
  • Rest as needed before repeating

Day 2.

  • Clean and press
  • Clean and press, swing
  • Clean and press, swing, squat
  • Rest as needed before repeating

Day 3.

  • Squat
  • Squat, clean and press
  • Squat, clean and press, swing
  • Rest as needed before repeating

You can see how over the three sets you will perform the same movements but per day you prioritise either the Swing, Clean and Press or Squat.

In a program you could repeat the above round of the stacked complex for a total of 2 to 4 rounds, depending on repetitions. You could decide on working with a single arm / 1 kettlebell or double / 2 kettlebells, dependant on your ability and skill level.

So, let’s look at the repetitions with consideration to goals.

General Work Capacity:

6 to 8 reps of each movement.

This would amount quite a number of total reps on the final set of each round, 24 to 32 repetitions in fact. You would choose a weight that’s not close to your top strength 3 to 5 rep weight – maybe a kettlebell you could perform the weakest exercise of the complex for 10 reps.

General Strength:

5 repetitions of each movement. A conservative number for general strength development. Use a kettlebell you can perform the weakest movement in the complex for 7 reps.

Focussed Strength:

3 to 5 reps for the first / prioritised movement then just 1 for the following. You get to focus on that prioritised lift whilst performing simple practice of the others. Some may say to not bother with the following exercises and instead just perform the focussed exercise. But look, if you are stuck for time, getting any practice of the other moves is time well spent. Specialised programs are fine for a small percentage of the annual schedule and if this isn’t one of those times, keep up whatever practice you can, whenever you can. Use a weight that is 5 to 6 rep max (technical max).

There are lots of ways to build the numbers. I’m not writing this to argue a point but simply to demonstrate one solution. You could even just do singles for each movement in the complex to form a chain of heavy lifts.

Over a 4 week cycle, you could start with general work capacity, then move to general strength, to focussed strength before finishing the cycle with just heavy singles. Just an idea.

The Video below simply demonstrates the sequences listed for Day 1 with 5 reps per movement.

Got any feedback, questions or suggestions? Pop them on the contact form below.

How to Incorporate High Intensity Training into Your Week

In part 1 last week [LINK] I talked about how research is finding the commonly used HIIT model of training is resulting in more negative results on our health. Burn out, injuries, overtraining and poor adherence make it unsustainable.

I introduced a new approach labelled High Intensity Repeat Training.

Let’s jump into Part 2.

Here’s a little fitness map I’ve made that illustrates all the ‘stuff’ we should include regularly.

Screen Shot 2018-09-20 at 1.04.21 pm

The main categories include:

  • strength training
  • movement practice
  • cardio.
  • nutrition
  • recovery

There is no one item more important than the other, although I am starting to believe that sleep quality and health overrides everything else.

Of this list, the vast bulk of training is the foundation, the aerobic, easy to moderate stuff. Walking, gentle cycling, housework and gardening. The aerobic cardiovascular development is based on having individuals work within their aerobic threshold as apposed to bouncing off their anaerobic zone during HIIT. Aerobic threshold is defined as the intensity just before the beginning of the accumulation of hydrogen in the body, at an intensity where our body can handle the stress put upon it and use oxygen to create more energy and clear away bi-products of the effort.

Can you recall working out so hard you got a ‘stitch’ pain in your side? That’s the build up hydrogen ions from such high effort that the body can’t clear it quick enough. It’s not sustainable.

An ideal aerobic zone is described by Dr Maffetone as 180 – your age. This is otherwise known as the maximum aerobic function heart rate (MAF HR).

Note: You can go to Maffetone’s website for a more detailed way to determine your MAF HR based on your age, health, and activity level.

Now, let’s get to weekly ideals

Health experts recommend 30 minutes of aerobic activity daily or 3 ½ accumulation per week. This is where you should spend the bulk of your exercise effort. This daily 30 minutes can be seen repeated by health bodies around the world. It’s not the maximum, it’s optimal.

Strength is an important function of being an able bodied human, autonomous throughout life to undertake physical tasks and challenges. Who wants to live frail and weak?

When we strength train, our bodies recover and adapt (keeping a long story short) but recover too long and we regress. We failed to adapt. With recovery rates and regressions in mind, an average adult should aim to strength train twice to three times over a week. Think Monday and Thursday or Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. And yes, you can strength train and perform aerobic activities in one day. You’ll not day. You might get a little tired, but your body will thrive with recovery.

Mobility is the fountain of youth in terms of maintaining healthy movement (yup, even including healthy bowel movements too). We sit, we lie down and we naturally stiffen up a little. To stay on top of mobility, daily practice is prescribed by the worlds leading experts in movement skills. This might mean just 5 to 10 minutes daily of practicing some mobility moves or appropriate stretches.

Sleep. Despite the claims of some people, a body does need 7 to 8 hours sleep at night to promote hormone function for recovery, rejuvenation, organ and muscle recovery and function and brain health.

Nutrition is made out to be confusing. At its simplest, we as humans need daily protein, vegetables, natural sources of carbohydrate, natural fats and water. The exact amounts I’ll not get into here. Where it gets confusing is when people try to fast track their goals, seek out miracle drinks, potions or start to follow extreme guidelines including the removal of complete food groups. If we follow a mostly balanced diet of mostly the ‘stuff’ I mentioned above, most of the time; we’ll be okay.

HIIT. Ah finally. How much is needed if any? Some might not like the following guideline so if I hurt your feelings, suck it up, embrace a fresh outlook and try it to see what happens.

If, and only if, you are able to:

  1. accumulate 3 ½ hours of aerobic activity in the MAF HR (180-age)
  2. sleep every day for 7 to 8 hours
  3. eat a mostly balanced diet
  4. strength train twice a week
  5. practice daily mobility / flexibility …

… then and only then can your body be subjected to the stresses of HIIT training that should take no longer than 5 to 10 minutes.

And here’s a serving suggestions for just that.

Option 1: 30 secs of high effort followed by 30 secs rest x 5

Option 2: 10 secs of high effort followed by 50 secs rest x 10

Option 3: 20 secs of high effort followed by 40 secs of rest x 5-10

You’ll notice option 2 has plenty of rest. This protocol is the hidden gem (well, not any more as i’ve just shared it… oops)

Performing at high effort, your goal is to sustain high quality efforts. Answer me this. If you are performing a high effort followed by short rest, how well will you perform the following high efforts? Will there be a drop in forms, in effort? Is that the goal? Is the goal to repeat high effort or just to repeat feeling terrible?

High Intensity REPEAT Training

Now it’s going to get juicy as I take you into the new world of HIRT.

The best athletes do not do HIIT as you see in gyms and bootcamps. Yes, they do perform high effort training, but if you observe their recovery, it is programmed to allow the athlete to perform repetitively, with the goal of finding the sweetest spot of high performance. Injury rate is reduced too with the sustainable high efforts paired with generous rests.

This is nothing new and was in fact around in the 90s but fell out of vogue due to the perceived sexiness of crushing oneself in front of others for the glory, pride and overcoming feeling terrible.

Look, I’ve been on both sides of this paradigm. The first time I certified with StrongFirst (RKC) I was killing myself with kettlebell swings in the older HIIT style. Yes I did get fitter but also tweaked muscles frequently. As I prepare once again for recertification I’ll be following the HIRT style of training that in fact clients followed last January (2018). It was common to see ladies improve their swing from 12 to 20kg to 24 to 32kg in just an 8 week program.

This too was following just 10 minutes a week.

As a guideline, what we followed was this:

  • 7 swings with a heavy weight followed by at least 50 secs recovery.
  • Pulse levels would increase to approx. 180 – age by the end of each swing set.
  • Recovery was based on allowing the pulse to return to 180 – age – 20
  • As pulse failed to hit 180 – age, if it wasn’t due to fatigue, the weight was increased.

You could try this with any exercise you are competent in. You must not fear the weight or the tool. Just commit, rest, repeat for 5 to 10 minutes and leave it for another 5 to 7 days.

The conclusion

I don’t know truely know when and where the idea started that we must suffer to develop healthy fitness. Science tells us it’s not a valid method to improve healthy fitness. The media sensationalise high effort and reward.

I personally embrace new findings and new or improved ways to optimise my fitness and strength performance and I’ll gladly say goodbye to crushing myself and risking injury if I really don’t need to.

What do you think?

What’s your action point now?

Jamie

How to Press a 40kg Kettlebell

This is a story of how one FitStrong client progressed from pressing a 28kg kettlebell well, a 32kg okay to pressing a 40kg overhead on each arm with one simple program.

Pressing or placing heavy stuff overhead has been a feat of strength favoured by many a strongman of yesteryear. Oddly enough it’s not just the twirly moustached gent that thrives off of pressing big bars and kettlebells and other odd objects. I see lots of every day people who love the feeling of pressing things over their head in what you could call a press of victory over gravity and iron kilograms.

This year so far we’ve had many ladies move up to larger kettlebells in their programs whilst others simply got more comfortable with their current presses – another valuable note of progress – but one chap started the year with a notable goal in particular.

TO PRESS THE 40KG KETTLEBELL!

IMG_5517

I like to stay on top of peoples goals and whilst most don’t have any movement specific goals, I occasionally get interesting requests, like this one. “I want to press the 40kg kettlebell by the end of the year Jamie”.

I’ve never been great at pressing. A combination of long, skinny arms, former injuries from bike crashes holding me back and a natural propensity for endurance over max strength has left me with a humbling 32kg kettlebell press. Not terrible but, meh!

Anyhoo, I was stuck at pressing the 24kg for a very long time until I came across a program concept (that I have since run with on many other strength programs) that allowed me to finally press the 28kg with comfort and the 32kg with a bit of a grind.

The concept: TO EXPAND THE COMFORT ZONE GRADUALLY

Now, I’ve written about this concept before but because it keep delivering for not just me, but for other people with totally different make ups, it’s validity keeps growing stronger.

The key to making this program successful is in creeping up volume very, very slightly over the training cycle.

Key notes:

  1. Progress takes a forward, forward, back waved approach. We add a rep, add a rep then back step to a previously completed stage – it’ll make sense below but in essence we sneak the volume up a little and before it gets noticed as a stress, we back off to a comfortable level we’ve completed before.
  2. The program is very specialised and didn’t leave much room for progressing other lifts but the goal was to improve the press, nothing else.
  3. We train three times a week, with active rest days in between to work on mobility and other maintain other qualities.
  4. The programs progression can be overridden by biofeedback. If the body felt a bit battered or tight, we back off to a simpler days training. (You’ll see that below when we cut volume down to 24 total reps a couple of times)

Program rules:

  • Start the program with a weight that can be pressed for 5 reps, or 70% of your max. 1 rep press.
  • Always warm up each session with a thorough mobility routine like Original Strength, some crawling, farmers carries and a few swings.
  • Ensure that each clean before your press is great. The better the clean, the better the press.
  • Perform up to 20 sets.
  • Rest 1 minute between sets or longer once the sets get longer.

The progression we used exactly is copy and pasted below.

Screen Shot 2018-11-08 at 7.19.45 am

To be clear about what the above means, let’s take session #5, 2223 x 5. This means, press x 2, rest, 2, rest, 2, rest, 3, rest, repeat the cycle again for another 4 cycles for a total of 20 sets, equalling 45 presses.  Got it?

I’m not saying this exact layout will work for everyone, but I believe in the concept, the waviness of volume and expanding the comfort zone to achieve new layers of strength.

At the end of this program, the client rested a few days with active recovery before retesting his weights. The 40kg pressed up smoothly.

If you’re interested in furthering your strength with bespoke and interesting programs, please do get in touch below or check out our Online Membership that currently contains over 42 months worth of training programs!!!

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December 2018 Update:

Here’s what an online client had to say about the program after a few weeks of following the above layout.

IMG_6870