How to make your exercise Fun

Not everyone wakes up every morning to enthusiastically ready themselves for the gym. For most, it’s a chore and something they feel they have to squeeze into the week somehow.

One limiting factor aka excuse, is that exercise is deemed to be hard work, uncomfortable and not much fun.

Maybe the problem is the overwhelming compulsion to make every exercise session hard work and uncomfortable just because that’s what everyone seems to be doing and what the media champions.

I have recently talked about how we don’t actually need to spend anywhere near as much time on high intensity training to find benefits from exercise, but today, let look at how to make exercise fun.

  1. Find exercise methods you enjoy and align with. There are many ways to get stronger from bodyweight, kettlebells, barbells, parallel bars and much more.
  2. Music. Yup, music of your choice makes everything better. Whether it lifts your spirits or acts as a distraction-it works.
  3. Slow it down.
  4. Gamify. You could make a game out of your routine. Have fun accumulating the repetitions you’ve set out in your plan (you do have a have don’t you?) Here’s a simple routine we employ for squats and presses. We do 10 squats followed by 1 press, the 9 squats and 2 presses and continue this reduction and addition of 1 rep until we’re 1 squat and 10 presses. Simple but quite fun. You can substitute your own favourite two movements.
  5. Focus on quality. Make your exercise techniques better, then betterer.
  6. Get a training buddy. I might be biased here but I do see better results in people who train with other people.
  7. Get outside. Whilst it might get hot in summer, exercise outdoors is great. Fresh air, greenery, birds and no stale, sweat saturated air in a box gym.
  8. Play with movement. We do tend to live in a very linear world and that is reflected too in the gym. We move things up, down, then perhaps out and in and maybe side to side. But how about going ain all the other directions?? Systems like Animal Flow and GMB have routines and practice that incorporate multi-planar moves. So much more fun in my opinion.
  9. Hit the playground. If it’s good enough for the kids it’s good enough for us adults, just don’t push the kids out of your eager way as you sprint headlong towards the swings and monkey bars.
  10. Celebrate your victories. It can be easy to dwell on the hard stuff we try to do but heck, if you managed to walk an extra km power to you and your awesome self. Whether it’s that extra km or one extra press with your fav kettlebell, it’s a victory worth marking with fist pump, yeehaw or a smile.
  11. Stop the maximum efforts. If you haven’t read them yet – go here.
  12. Reflect. Journalling might seem like a time vampire to some but, can you imagine looking back in 6 months to a year at your training and seeing how far you’ve come?
  13. Set challenges. Be realistic and set yourself a challenge or two that’s within your sights. Want to get your first 10 push ups. Start with 1, repeat 7 to 10 times and gradually increase that 1 rep to 2 over the sets and so on. Do not max out, but expand your comfort zone.
  14. Plan. Just like #13, make a plan. Look at your end goal and design your program backwards from that point to your starting point. Make lots of tiny changes in the right direction including sessions that are easier, others more hard and some just medium. It can be tricky but great fun watching your own progress especially if you follow #12.
  15. KISS. No, not the band unless that’s your #2. Keep It Simple Stupid! Don’t try to do everything, random stuff or do heaps of something you’re not sure about. Get tuition, focus on the important stuff. Sleep 7-8 hours, eat mostly great, walk daily and strength train 2 to 3 times a week. Read more about this point here.

I’ll stop at 15 tips.

Got any how to keep exercise fun tips yourself? Let me know. I’ll add them to this list and credit you if you like 🙂

 


Are you interested in learning how start Reboot Your Body to say goodbye to aches and pains? I’ll be running a series of workshops in the coming months here in Albany Creek.

Read more here.

Exercise is not a punishment for enjoying food and drink

Monday is always a great day to ….

You can fill in the blank word or words but how often does this happen? A big weekend followed by a big Monday plan that goes – well, I’m sure you know how that story turns out.

Here are a few thoughts floating around my head after some chit-chats with different people over the last week.

  • Exercise is for developing better movement, getting stronger and fitter, having fun and feeling great afterwards.
  • Exercise will help you live longer with more physical independence and wellbeing.
  • Don’t confuse exercising with weight loss.
  • More is not more in most cases.
  • Make exercise fun but safe.
  • How much food you eat is the only factor that will help you lose body fat or build muscle.
  • Better sleep and stress management will make it easier to manage your eating.
  • In any combination, variation or cultural persuasion, eat vegetables, proteins, natural fats and enough carbohydrates with a sprinkling of flavoursome herbs and spices as preferred.
  • Experiment to see what works best for you.
  • Make eating fun but in limitation.
  • Be a reasonable adult.
  • If you miss a training session or have a big splurge on a Saturday – don’t compensate by ‘smashing out’ a gym session or ‘hard dieting’. Just pick up where you left on and continue life.

Got any thoughts to add to this? Let me know.

Need to book in for more details chat about this? Get me below.

Jamie

How to Bulletproof Your Future

Part 1

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In the gym it’s pretty obvious how we spend our time. People turn up, we warm up, we do some strength work and movement skill work, have a chit-chat then say our ‘see you next times’.

The why and the what else is all-too-often not discussed in much detail apart from some passing suggestions about getting in some aerobic work and keeping up some stretching at home etc.

This year, my goal is to help people bulletproof their futures. 

I’d love to be offering a proverbial radioactive spider to help turn you into a superhero version of yourself, and actually, compared to to an alternative, I might be doing just that!

This year I will naturally be spending time espousing the benefits of strength and mobility training, because that what 90% of my gym time with people is spent doing. BUT, I am going to be spending more time promoting the other stuff, the things we probably do not spend enough time promoting.

My role is that of a health and fitness promoter, not just a personal trainer. Fitness is what most of trainers spend lots of time on but health… meh, we could be doing heaps better at that.

Our bodies maintain a healthy balanced system when it’s treated as intended. It’s a bit like a bike chain. Left unused it will rust, stiffen and eventually fail when used. Our bodies have a blueprint, a design and a purpose. There are a number of things we are meant to do daily and frequently to sustain the balance.

Let’s look at these briefly. I will be spending time over the coming weeks looking more deeply into these according to what research has found and I’ll cover to how to action improvements.

  • Sleep 7 to 9 hours a day.
  • Eat a balanced diet of plants, proteins, fats and water too.
  • Stay strong in all the movements our mechanics perform in.
  • Walk daily and get out of breath from time to time.
  • Move well and often without restriction, pain or discomfort.

What happens when we drift away from our intend? We specialise. This is a subject that puts the cat right amongst the pigeons.

Whilst admiring a specialist and their very particular set of skills, they have most likely sacrificed many other essential elements of what makes up complete health. 

A few general examples:

  • The cyclist who does not work on their strength training
  • The powerlifter who neglects their body fat levels and aerobic health
  • The overly busy father who works 55 hours a week yet neglects his family
  • The very busy mum who focuses entirely on her children and family and neglects their own fitness and nutrition
  • The Gymnast who focuses wholeheartedly on their sport and sacrifices their joint health

While you can admire all these people for their dedication and successes, isn’t it a shame they sacrifice to do so. It’s not a moral shame either. It’s a shame that the essential physical components that make us fully operational humans are missing. Being mobile, strong, aerobically capable; being able to fully recover from each day with good nutrition and adequate sleep is what amounts to enable our bodies to thrive. Being good at one thing is fine, but the pay-off is a health trade-off. 

2019 is the year I’ll be wearing more of my health promotion hat and not just my PT hat. So much of my last 10 years have been spent on learning and developing better knowledge and application of training programs, exercises, progressions, regressions and systems but one thing has become quite apparent – it just doesn’t matter if we are not getting the basics of health in place.

If you’re following a training program, not getting stronger, not losing fat, not feeling fitter, most likely it’s not the training that’s to blame, it’s the poor attention given to these other components. 

Before contemplating becoming an expert or a specialist, weigh up being a really good generalist. Being able to undertake a wide array of components of being human is so much more wealthy than being awesome at one or a restricted number of things. 

Until next time, do weigh yourself up. What are you doing more of or what are you doing proportionately less? Consider that list above:

  • Sleep 7 to 9 hours a day.
  • Eat a balanced diet of plants, proteins, fats and water too.
  • Stay strong in all the movements our mechanics perform in.
  • Walk daily and get out of breath from time to time.
  • Move well and often without restriction, pain or discomfort.

 

Part 2 – Sleep 

 

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.

click here

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 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.

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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

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.

‘It’s Too Miserable to Train’!

Today the 24th September 2018 in Brisbane is a dull ‘ol day. This kind of sky is one of the reasons we left Northern Ireland in 2011 for the sub-tropics of South East Queensland.

Anyhoo, a miserable day can really do a number on our spirits, enthusiasm and drive to go to the gym and exercise when alternatively you could go home and binge watch Grand Designs on Netflix.

However, how about just turning up to your place of exercise* and starting…

… just see where it leads to.

 

*On that note of ‘place of exercise’, I did a recent poll and learnt that 34% of respondents exercised at home compared to the other 64% who went to the gym.

Any thoughts?

Equipment and Strength Training

If starting out on an exercise plan you might be tempted to overburden yourself with thoughts about equipment. What gym to join may be influenced by what equipment they have or if training at home you may ponder what toys will yield the best results.

Here’s an honest truth bomb for ya’ll. It’s about you.

*** Skip to the bottom to watch Vlog instead of reading all that follows – if you want.***

At FitStrong we follow a system of ‘move well, better then betterer’ before adding a load to the moves.

What moves?  I wrote this blog a while back all about these but essentially we work on variations of pushes, pulls, carries, squats and hip hinges (think deadlifts). There are a myriad of variations of these movements so variety is abundant if you like variety.

There are of course heaps of bodyweight systems to follow if that’s the tune you sing. The variety of full body movements that can be pursued is vast, a real treasure chest. And if loading with metal is your thing once you can move well, then you’ve got barbells, dumbbells and my favourite, kettlebells.

Anyway, here’s the Vlog if you don’t fancy reading all this.

 

Vlog – 5 Pillars of Fitness Progress

Vlog 23rd September 2018

It’s all fine and dandy having an all bells and whistles gym program, but if you don’t address these 5 pillars of fitness ‘progress’, you’re wasting your time.

 

  1. Sleep 7-8 hours a night even if you think you’re a rebel who can survive on 5. Thrive, don’t just survive!
  2. Nutrition. Be an adult and eat your veg, protein, carbs, fats and drink water more. If nature provided it, eat it.
  3. Strength train. Progressively get strong  – we’ll get to this on a later post.
  4. Aerobic exercise. Cardio is not the devil and doesn’t need to be a gut busting, puke-fest. Walk, hike, ride a bike, roller skate or take your skateboard for a whiz. Just get a bit out of breath – that is all it takes to help you.
  5. Movement practice. Choose a movement practice. Original Strength, yoga, pilates, Animal Flow, Parkour, stretch and roll around on the floor – whatever it is, do it every day.

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Got any thoughts? Please talk to me.

How to Get Lost When Goal Setting!

I can proudly say that I can write up good training programs but ONLY if I know where the destination is and also, where the starting point is.

Starting out into exercise as a beginner or taking a change of direction or starting with a trainer will always take into consideration the goal. The end point at a particular time-frame perhaps or more wisely, when the goal is achieved.

Most People Get Lost before they even start

Picture this example (and it can be any example). Could you really start to train for a 5km park-run right now if you struggle to put on your shoes most mornings because your back’s stiff? Or, is it realistic to join a 60 minute exercise class after work when you wouldn’t normally do more than 60 minutes of exercise per week? Do you get lost trying to plan your own exercise goal or do you just stumble into ‘something’ and see where it goes?

There are plenty of rhetorical situations we could consider but the point is, you must know your starting point before planning your goal. Once you are fully aware of AND acknowledge your Point A, your limitations and strengths then you can start to plot your path to Point B.

This year I wanted to work on getting a hand stand. Why? Why not. It was a challenge. What I needed first off was to get my Point A down. Shoulder stability, mobility, confidence and a plan to get there, to the handstand. I’m still working on it but I am still on the program path.

So, whats your Point A or whats blocking you from getting towards your Point B?

 

Got any thoughts or questions? Just ask.