The Side Bent Sit Get Up

What a mouthful, but it will do until someone comes up with a better name. It does however describe this get up nicely.

Part 4 of the Get Up series looks at the quirky Side Bent Sit Get Up. Whereas the last part looked at the very bilateral / straight up and down Prone Get Up, the Side Bent Sit Get Up builds in rotation, balance and coordination yet, still with a wonderful component of flow and relaxation. I guess that comes with practice though.

This roll differs from the Strength and Prone get up in that it commences with a roll into position to undertake the actual getting up. This adds some momentum and can therefor add this get up into the category of movements that prepare us for fall recovery. If you’re going to lose balance and fall backwards onto your butt, at least know how to get up with flare and style.

Here’s the video.

The best way to learn this style of get up is to practice. In the video I have built in steps to practice to best prepare for the full get up.

Got any feedback? Maybe you’d like me to appraise your Get Up? I’d love to help any way I can.

Does exercising influence the response to stress?

In my last post, ‘Exercise and Stress Response‘ I chatted about how exercise may help us build resilience to coping with stressful situations.

In part 4 today I’ll answer this question:

What have you noticed about exercise and its ability to influence your stress levels and your response to stress?

In short though, we are designed to move every day. Whilst we don’t move like humans of 100 years ago or 1000 years ago, we need to find movement modalities we enjoy to undertake every day. That can be as simple as a daily 15 minute walk, yoga, practicing other generalised movements or playing with the kids.

Moving every day and feeling good go hand in hand.

Why read when you can listen…

Got any thoughts?

 

Exercise and Stress Response

How does exercise strengthen our ability to respond to stress?

A healthy cardiovascular system will undoubtedly help us prevail over the negative influences and manifestations of stress. An unhealthy body will succumb easily and fail us.

A healthy exercise regime will develop a more resilient body but our minds need a different elixir.

A good practice I reflect on during stressful times are building stronger habits. Stressful thoughts can be overwhelming on our emotions and the dark hole of depression can be incredibly challenging to climb out of without help.

I adopted a system created by Stanford University Behavioural Scientist BJ Fogg, called Tiny Habits. Much like exercising our bodies, Tiny Habits teaches how to develop strong habits with tiny steps. This has been a game changer for me in creating a healthier mental environment around me. As one cheesy example, my phones alarm awakes me every morning with the message – ‘today will be awesome’. It may be a terrible day but I start the day with a positive and healthy mindset.

In addition to habit practice and frequent movement exercise, learning how to breathe better has many benefits to promote the parasympathetic nervous system over the sympathetic nervous system. Stress and all it’s negative family members thrive while we spend time under the influence of the sympathetic nervous systems control.

Nasal breathing and taking breaths into our diaphragm (as apposed to mouth breathing into the chest) should be a norm and a practice when stressed.

Move often – Breathe better – Start the day on a positive note. That’s how I expect my ‘exercise’ to strengthen my ability to respond to stress.

 

Got any feedback? Why not drop me a message.

Get Up!

As a coach, I’ve met plenty of people over the years who either had resistance to getting down to the floor, had previously had a fall and was reluctant to revisit the floor in any capacity or who quite frankly didn’t see any purpose to get to the floor for exercise or other.

There are many reasons to practice and train getting to the floor and back up again. Let’s make a short list.

  1. Improve your every day life and for its eventualities
  2. Prepare you with skills needed for when you have to get to the ground or a fall to the ground
  3. Improve your bodies mobility
  4. Improve your body awareness and coordination
  5. Improve your bodies resilience through increased strength and conditioning
  6. Decrease any fear of the floor
  7. Open opportunities to explore other movements and purposes of getting up and down

 

I’m not going to teach get ups in this post, but I will soon – I promise.

Here’s a glimpse of just 8 styles of ‘get ups’.

 

Got any questions or feedback? Get in touch below.

Stretchy Wednesday in Albany Creek

Strength training is an important element of a healthy lifestyle to sustain on a regular basis, but recover is just as important. That comes through rest, good nutrition and self care in the form of ‘flexibility and mobility’.

Wednesday’s seem like a good starting point to schedule in such self care and starting this week (4th March 2020) I’ll be running a focussed class to help you loosen up and get better prepared for your next training session and the rest of the week along with some chit chat.
*numbers limited so booking in is essential.

Get in touch below for more info or to book in.

 

Feeling tight, stuff, tense, tired from your training and work_   Come along for a relaxed, recovery stretching, mobility session and a good chat. (1).png

How much you Function bro?

Reframing functional training for the masses.

The whole ‘do you even [enter an exercise]’ phrase is a parody of modern gym culture with dudes and dudettes comparing each others infatuations in the gyms with one-another. “Do you even lift”? Condescending proclamation that you are smaller than me, or “Do you even bench bro?” Context: my chest is bigger than yours. Ah, what a wonderful day and age we live in! All in jest naturally but essentially such expressions continue to draw the gym and fitness world towards body part, size and looks focus. Isn’t it about me and not you?!

I’d like to jump in with my effort now albeit rather late in the game but with this question: “Do you even function bro”?

NOT FUNCTIONAL TRAINING

Functional training all started to become a buzz definition in gyms in the wake of its appropriate use in physiotherapy settings. What started at daily activity task specific training to rehabilitate poor movement habits morphed into taking elements of everything a human can do (regardless of efficacy) and turning it into a competition with oneself and others. This meanders into the CrossFit territory which has in of itself and training concept, exploded in popularity. CrossFit has done wonderful things for developing community based fitness lifestyles, bringing popularity back to gymnastics and Olympic lifting and for promoting gyms absent of machines.

My only criticism is that it’s conceptual training model of high intensity generalism leads to high risk factor exercise for the masses who do run blindly towards the high intensity functional training model when in need of a dose of exercise. Nothing wrong with HIIT from time to time, but it needs to be timely and appropriate – not a fix for all. This though is no longer a CrossFit problem but a greater problem in the pop-up copycat gyms who are jumping onboard the model, both in terms of the pursuit of high intensity training and business.

Generalism is a fine approach to improving ones physical capabilities and indeed, us humans are perfectly designed to be generally adapt at all physical expectations. We have evolved successfully by walking, climbing, running, jumping, carrying loads, picking up loads, squatting, pushing and pulling things, rotating, explosively moving and moving with intricate detail and control.

Modern human is potentially losing many of these qualities at a gross scale, but that’s a conversation over a stiff drink sometime.

Adding high intensity to complex movements is where the line should be drawn however.

The value system for many fitness organisations and programs has a broken gear box, where 5th gear seems to be the only gear. If you’re not breaking a sweat and breaking down with fatigue there’s a “what’s the point?” attitude. However, as expert generalists we shouldn’t be applying high exertions to every function we can perform. Whilst some activities like running (safely) and walking uphill lend themselves well to high efforts, snatching a barbell (intended for single repetition efforts) for multiple repetitions is a complex movement with a high risk to reward ratio. So too are all movements requiring fine skills.

If we value functioning as a better human shouldn’t we practice and develop our exercise skill and quality culture rather than fatigue culture?

What if we used our gym time as contextual strength and fitness practice and development?

As much as I love to finish my training sessions, I certainly don’t rush them to the detriment of movement quality or risking injury, or to beat some arbitrary time. I focus on completing the task at hand well, better than before but within my capabilities. My comfort zones might get shoved gently to encourage adaptation but I’m certainly not allowing ego to take over for some imaginary trophy at the end of it!

The goal is to keep the goal the goal. A now famous quote from coach Dan John. It shouldn’t require definition. My goal, everyones goal in performing physical training should be progressing positively our health, fitness and strength outcomes. It’s not a race but a credit based scheme we keep adding to until we might need to make a withdrawal. For instance, when your partner hurts an ankle during a bush walk and you’ve to support them or carry them back to the car. Or when the car breaks down and you’ve to push it somewhere safe. Maybe something more sporty, when you place high priority on the winning now and health later! Most sports fall into this realm.

Much recent sports science research supports the gradual moderation approach to long-term progress rather than transient (brief) benefits from a 4 week smash in the gym. It seems the body holds onto the benefits of our physical practices from moderate efforts with only occasional higher efforts, well planned in a training cycle.

Contextual Training

Exertion levels aside, the choice of our strength movements are really quite simple. I’ve left this last part for the end of my chit-chat.

Ask yourself this: What does your life require you to be stronger at?

Early I mentioned the general physical qualities we excel at. Let’s look again:

Walking, climbing, running, jumping, carrying loads, picking up loads, squatting, pushing and pulling things, rotating, explosively moving and moving with intricate detail and control.

If you called these 12 categories of strength and fitness, you could take each and slot in a variation that suits your needs.

Whilst walking, climbing, running are simple without much variability, the carrying, picking up, squatting, pushing, pulling and rotations will most definitely have some personalisations.

If you’re a mother or father of two young children these will have very specific personalisations.

If you’re a labourer you will have your own personalisations too, as too will sports people, people who sit or stand for a living and of course the elderly will have a set of strengths and skills required to make life better.

That is the goal isn’t it – to make life better.

I used to love heavy barbell squatting, bench pressing and even bicep curls but to be honest, I got bored after a while once I achieved what I wanted from them and I got frustrated once I started to pick up some overuse injuries. It stopped being contextual to my life. That was up until 2012. Things have evolved since then thankfully.

There is nothing wrong with having a movement specific goal but overall, using gym time to add to the quality of our lives should be priority and using programs that are contextual to our own lives is in my opinion, a step in the right direction.

To continue this conversation on a personal level, if you are intrigued by contextual training for your life, please do get in touch.

Until 2020, have a very Merry Christmas an awesome new year.

Jamie

Do you Eat like you Drive??

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Most people find that come Thursday or Friday, that their good ol willpower for the week has taken a few hits, dwindled, faded away, leaving urge after urge to give into temptations.

I had just this conversation with a gym member today who explained that she’d had (in her opinion) a bad breakfast. “It’ just took over” she said. She then went on to say, “I may as well just give up for the week and restart on Monday.”

Have you heard yourself say this too?

I used to for sure, as did my wife, my clients of past and probably heaps of people trying to improve their nutrition.

It’s an easy and simple solution. Just give up and try again next week.

But really, is this really going to help the long term goal of improving nutritional habits and fat loss?

We are human. We have faults. We make mistakes. Willpower is not an endless supply of strength. It does dwindle and is much more fickle than you’d believe.

 

What we discussed next has been a massive thought process shift for many clients. A skill like any other skill, the ability to just say, ‘I fluffed up, let’s accept the ‘bad’ meal and move on’, is quite powerful.

Rather than disrupting the process of building a new habit, simply brushing off the mistake as a one off mistake allows us to move on and get back to the game. No need to inflict guilt.

What made the idea stick though was this analogy I posed to her.

“What do you do when you clip the curb with your wheel when driving? Do you keep clipping the curbs until Monday morning or do you deal with it, brush it off as a mistake and get on with life?”

I shouldn’t need to answer that question for you. You can see clearly what it’s aimed at.

We all give in at some point. Often our other half or friends tempt us with chocolate or that big glass of wine. If you do give in, it’s fine. Deal with it by accepting it then move on and don’t wait to Monday to stop hitting curbs.

This might be a real skill to practice. You may start with this: ‘Whenever I drop off my nutrition goals, I will accept it as a one-off, forget it and move on as normal’. Hopefully you won’t have many drop offs and hopefully you’ll not clip many curbs too.

Need any help with your own nutrition goals and habits? Just shout.

Who is Strength training really for?

It’s a funny truism that I am about to tell you that I myself only really saw in the past couple of years. It’s about how some people perceive strength training and what trainers do in the gym and indeed, this perception even drives common beliefs amongst many would-be clients of well intended trainers.

Mention strength training in a conversation and you’ll probably get one of these responses:

  1. “Ah yeah, like Crossfit?”
  2. “Ah, like bodybuilding”, whilst striking a bicep pose.
  3. “Ooh, be careful you don’t hurt yourself with heaving all those big weights!”
  4. “Ugh, I don’t like barbells!”

Okay, you might get some other feedback based on individual experiences but in most cases, people think of the equipment, a popular gym or building bulging muscles like a bodybuilder.

But what about the system of getting stronger? People rarely consider what it is to be stronger, how it may apply to them, what’s involved, the benefits beyond an image and the smart systems used to help people get stronger.

So let’s jump into defining these as I promote them, starting with the health benefits.

Strength and Health 

For most exercisers, hitting the gym is their weapon to kill calories and for others it’s their tool to carve out a physique. However, the connections between strength training and health grow stronger (no pun intended) with the expanding findings of research. Strength training health benefits include prevention or control of chronic conditions such as diabetesheart diseasearthritisback paindepression and obesity. In addition, strength training aids in the prevention or slowing down of osteoarthritis, sarcopenia (age related loss of muscle mass) and osteopenia (loss of bone). None of us want to retire from our working years frail and weak so it should make sense to get stronger.

What does ‘strong’ mean?

Freedom is a common definition of strength that I just love. Consider the opposite – weakness. It comes with frailty, inability, fear, lack of confidence, loneliness, misery – I could go on but you get the picture. Physical freedom is the strength and independence to carry out a full life with autonomy. You may be excused for thinking initially that strength training is the domain of athletes, strongmen and muscly olympic lifters snatching big barbells overhead. Yes, they are strong and it’s expressed in a very specific manner. So too is strength expressed by the farmer who tends to her cattle and sheep, heaving bales of hay onto the back of the truck or the nurse who successfully assists patients in and out of bed along with a myriad of other day-to-day physical roles. I wrote ‘successfully’, suggesting they have the strength to endure this daily demand. A weaker associate will not be so successful. Strength is the freedom to do whatever you need to do, will have to do and want to do, successfully.

Strength and You

How does strength fit into a weekly schedule? “What do I need to do?”

Every human is wonderfully made to perform the same categories of movements with strength. We are perfectly suited to perform the following categories of strength:

  • Pushes
  • Pulls
  • Squatting
  • Picking things up
  • Bracing our torsos
  • Carrying things

Let’s back up that strength to-do list with these essentials:

  • Get down to the floor and back up effortlessly
  • Walk
  • Climb
  • Roll and rotate – confused? Here’s a video
  • Move often

The specifics as to how these relate to you personally will vary now and in the future. But essentially this short list of activities are how we live in the gym. I spend time with people to help them figure out the appropriate variations they need and then we practice them with appropriate levels of exertion. It isn’t just flat out in 5th gear!

I mentioned earlier how people often equate strength with barbells etc, however strength training always starts with moving first. Learning good form and technique is vital for obvious safety concerns but as a baseline, how we perform movements without external loading gives us a benchmark to compare to once load is added. Adding load can be as simple as holding a medicine ball, lifting a kettlebell, a barbell or a rock (it’s a thing, seriously). We add load once unloaded becomes easy, safer, better performed.

How to get stronger

How did you learn how to walk? You crawled, scrambled over furniture and traversed around the kitchen until you could walk unaided. It didn’t happen over-night and took lots of practice. Practice is where the magic happens with every single skill. I very much see strength as a skill that takes practice. In my daughters school there’s a poster in one of the class rooms that reads –

Practice Makes Progress. 

‘Practice makes progress’ concerns performing a task with good form until it becomes better and betterer but the timely immersion also allows the body time to adapt to the stresses involved with the new skill practice.

We progress to get stronger in the gym by carrying sub-maximum intensity repetitions. We don’t strain, struggle or stress and in fact aim to avoid failing any repetitions. We want good, clean, repeatable and moderate efforts. There are heaps of workable protocols for carrying out such programs that I’m not going to get into here.

Winding it up…

My goal here in this short piece was to outline how being strong and the process of becoming stronger is achievable by all and cannot and should not be stereotyped by some initial conceptions. Our wee family run gym is frequented by all sorts of people between their mid 20s to early 70s and we all practice and progress in our strength training to add to our health and everyone observes this in their everyday life. Whether it’s just the feeling of increased wellbeing, moving better without groaning or carrying in the shopping with 5 bags hanging off each arm; everyone demonstrates their strength as their life requires.

Your Move

If you’ve been pondering working on your strength, health and fitness for a while, hopefully this short post will offer you some insight into what is required from your time. If you do require any assistance I’d love the opportunity to help you, whether that’s in person or online – yep, I do train online too – don’t you love technology sometimes?

Your in Strength & Wellness,

Jamie

Just Turn Up and Add to the Bank of Health

If there’s one message for achieving success that I’ve heard, been told, read or observed, it’s this; show up. I was reminded of the very same by coach Dan John during a weekend workshop last month. ‘Just turn up!’ Many of his successes over his athletic and professional career occurred by chance… that is after turning up to an event, competition or taking the opportunity to write an article for a popular fitness magazine.

It can be said that success does leave clues, and it’s pretty clear that being in the right place at the right time is sure to lead to many an adventure, misadventure, offers and opportunities. But if you ignore them until ‘next time’ or for ‘another time’, you’ll have missed the gun and lose time, the one thing you can’t get back.

Everything we do now on a routine basis is because at some stage it became a habit. Either as a necessity or as something we started. It was a habit in the making. It might not be a habit any more, but during the process of forming it, it was becoming a habit. Now it is just part of life. But, to create it, something had to start, we had to turn up in sorts.

Opportunities are created by us not others – we just have to turn up, be there, say yes. 

Now, what the heck does this all mean in the context of my area, health and fitness? My first job in fitness back in 1997 happened when I turned up for an appointment at a physio and asked if he knew of any jobs going in the gym upstairs. And yes, sure enough, there was… ka-ching! ‘Winner winner chicken dinner’ as they say’. In the mid 90s I had a wonderful time living my dream of the day, racing my bike in Europe on a shoe-string budget. How? I turned up at events often, got noticed by people and got offered an opportunity.

  • A former client with a life changing back problem hated turning up to the gym every Wednesday morning but he did. He’s now a former member because his life turned around again because he did turn up regardless of his emotions. Now Dave runs almost every day, has climbed Everest (I jest not) and he’s a new man, a much lighter, happier and healthier man to boot.
  • Robyn turns up to the gym three times a week even though she’d prefer to be sitting at home, feet up with a cup of tea to recover from her totally crazy, busy family life. She decides to turn up, work through her mobility and strength routine and goes home again a little bit better than 45 minutes previous.
  • Jim decides to make his life healthier by working on eating more vegetables. He turns up to the grocery store instead of the bakery to buy his least detested vegetables haha. His goal is to buy vegetables he enjoys, to add to at least one meal a day to begin with at the most. Little changes made often will grow over time.

That is the goal of this piece; to demonstrate through a few examples how making little changes often can make them a habit, then a normal part of life, all the while adding to the wealth of health, adding to the bank.

How often do you hear of people taking on big, new goals or challenges, only to either never start them or to blow up in overload due to the enormity of the task? They took on more than a reasonable amount of change than they could cope with. That isn’t a reflection of their poor resolve, it’s just being human. We thrive best on small and often.

Dr BJ Fogg lectures at Stanford University in human behaviour and specialises in habit formation. His very successful program Tiny Habits which I have taken a few times, works on the principle of taking the smallest amount of the target habit and doing it with / after / when you perform an anchor activity. An anchor is something you do as part of a normal day, like going to the loo, brushing teeth, pass by the front door, wash dishes etc. By building the familiar pattern of doing something new with something simple and frequently occurring, the new habit has the best chance of itself becoming a normal, everyday activity.

I use this principle daily for my own newish habits. Some I don’t call habits any more as they just happen, they just are because I turned up. I’m not doing the best job at expressing what I’m trying to tell you here. It will take me practice I guess to explain how the simple acts of turning up and making small changes can have very large, longterm benefits. But that’s where I am and hey, this is only a blog, it doesn’t have to be perfect. I just sat down in front of my laptop and started typing instead of having a coffee with an episode of the Simpsons haha

My Grandfather told and taught me many things when he was alive but one thing he encouraged me to embrace was offers. “Never turn down an offer, always say yes”, he told me. He was right.

Never turn down an opportunity.

Yours in health,

Jamie

Strength and Wellness Coaching – what exactly is that?

Let me define my role as a professional strength and wellness coach as someone who has a system for helping people assess their current physical health, and helps them set individualised strategies to achieve improvements in physical strength and fitness, mobility, stress management, nutrition and sleep.

I will define wellness as the successful interplay between exercise, mobility, stress management, nutrition and sleep. When any one or more of these are ‘out of whack’ let’s say, they negatively influence the other components.

If you want to lose 5kg of unwanted fat you’ve gathered up over the past 10 years, the chances of losing it if you’re stressed and over exercising for example, will not prove successful. It does not matter how hard you exercise when stressed, losing that 5kg of fat will be the hardest thing you will ever do. However, with the right approach, considering the other wellness components and best practices, that 5kg will come off.

My role as a coach is not to tell you exactly what to do, but to help you see where you are now, and what steps can be taken, one at a time, towards achieving your goals following very simple and effective habit based approaches.

Why strength? I regard physical and mental strength as a vital component of overall wellbeing, but also place strength on a pedestal by itself as a quality that comes before all else. Strength is the foundation from where we can build all other qualities. As babies we built our original strength to breath, to move, to explore, to allow our bodies and brains to develop further. To move, to run, to live a long healthy life takes physical strength, and not accepting frailty as a given.

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FitStrong Strength & Wellness gym in Albany Creek

How do I provide Strength & Wellness coaching? The physical components of wellness are taught in the gym, in the bush tracks of our countryside and the streets around us. The gym is the perfect supervised place to build strength and movement skills whether that’s on a one-to-one basis or in a small group. Walking, running, hiking, cycling etc really is best developed in nature. I am not a proponent of indoor treadmill or ergometer training unless it is the only option. Our location in Brisbane is fantastic for getting out in the fresh air and exploring the suburbs or rambling through any of our conservation parks.

The skill components of building healthier eating, sleeping, stress management habits are built either one-to-one in person or via social media (private facebook page for members) and bespoke online programs.

Very soon I will be releasing the first product to help get started by setting solid foundations from where to develop awesome Strength and Wellness. This short habit building program will demonstrate how quick and simple it can be to form new habits. Whether you want to stop snacking, want to start stretching more often, this short program will help.

To take part in this short program, please complete the following form and you will be notified when it is ready to commence.