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

We Need Strength and Wellness

We live in a day of visual fixation. Instagram and other social media has made stars out of bodies, not people. Adoration keeps these money making machines in the news feed while actual heath and fitness professionals scratch their heads in bewilderment.

In the pre bodybuilding era of the 1930s to 1950s, people exercised to perform feats of strength, for their own entertainment and that of others. Spectators gleamed at their performance not just their physiques. These people lived healthy, balanced lives with real, physical jobs and families. Physical culture was a lifestyle not just a ways to claw at attention from those looking onwards.

You might not see much difference between then and now. Just people showing off their bodies. However, one element is missing today. Wellness.

Here’s something I dug up from the Guardian: link

‘According to a 2008 Journal of Health Psychology study, women reported an increased negative mood, depression and anxiety after only 30 minutes of viewing fitness magazines that promote an “athletic ideal”. Social media means you don’t have to buy a magazine to see these images; they’re in your newsfeed. The BMJ has identified exercise addiction as a growing problem, affecting up to 10% of the exercising population’.

What I’m writing here is not a bang on the modern fitness industry, or social media but it is my observation and that of my peers that something dire has happened in the last number of years. More and more people are turning to these (often unqualified) online, social media darlings for inspiration and exercise motivation. With the label of Personal Trainer I am (was) part of that group. To most people the identity or title of Personal Trainer does for the large part sum up an image of a muscly, loud motivator by means of administering ‘hurt’. But that’s not what I do. Yes, I know there are plenty of trainers who practice healthy exercise promotion, but we are few and far between.

I recently rejoined the instagram world after a 6 month break after finding myself feeling down and miserable, as I compared myself to the war zone of fitness information being broadcast. If it wasn’t another fitpro trying to sell me his or her 6 week program to making 7 figure $$$$ as a gym owner, it was the brigade of muscly dudes and dudettes making me feel physical inferior.

Coming back after my break I’ve blocked those feeds and prefer to share my healthier approach to becoming fitter, stronger and healthier.

And with that, I have rebranded FitStrong Personal Training to FitStrong Strength & Wellness.

FITSTRONG STRENGTH & WELLNESS Banner 2019

This has been a process of plentiful thought but after 22+ as a trainer I want to stick to my guns and promote the healthiest methods and practices to becoming fitter and stronger – just like the banner says!

Of course I’ll still be carrying out personal training, small group training, seniors classes and online training and such, but I will be actively promoting the other vital components that actually allow us to become fitter and stronger. I’ve written about them before but in short… here’s an infographic:

Fitness Map

Over the coming months I intend to write about each of these 5 areas (yellow boxes) in more detail to ‘map’ their position in an optimal lifestyle program of sorts. This will become the overarching drive of business going into the future and I am really excited to start into this new strategy.

My goal as a trainer is to help people. It really is that simple. What I identify as important is that we live well, with strength, agility and resilience, both physically and mentally.

Rather than following the tribe of social media stars I am going to start my own tribe and in the words of coach Dan John, the Goal is the keep the Goal the Goal.

the GOAL is to keep the GOAL the GOAL (1)

 

Got any feedback or questions? Please contact me below or if local to the greater Brisbane area, call me on 0450487237 or hey, get me on Facebook or Instagram .

Yours in Fitness, Strength & Wellness,

Jamie

Getting Fitter and Stronger the Easy Way

IMG_8186I don’t always lead the way in our strength programs. Giving clients the option to choose their strength movements gives ownership to that move, to making it their move.

In our latest program we chose two main lifts, an upper body strength move and a lower body movement.

We developed these over 8 weeks without straining and stressing and supported the program with other exercises. We simply expanded our comfort zones – no maxing out, crying or vomiting!

‘This was perhaps one of the most relaxed, chilled out programs we’ve ever done.’

Below I’ll demonstrate some of our key chosen movements (not instructional) and then talk briefly about how they were trained and how they tested out this week.

Swing

Elevated Rock

Kettlebell Press

Rocking Push Up

 

The key component of each target movement and indeed, the other movements employed in a training sessions was NOT to max out, not to strain, stress and grind out the reps. This was perhaps one of the most relaxed, chilled out programs we’ve ever done. We put faith in a fresh understanding of high intensity training that I talked about here.

At the start of the program, session one was used to identify baselines for the two main movements. What weights were considered light, medium and heavy for the swing, how many push ups / elevated rocks were considered moderate and what was considered a medium weight to press.

This was all based on trialling sets with progressive intensity until medium was felt. I’ll not go into details about how we conducted this as it’s not the purpose of the post but needless to say, we identified medium.

From here we backed off to 70-75% of medium on the pressing movements and gradually waved the volume of the sets from just 1 rep to ladder of 1,2,3,4,5 over the 6 weeks and the swings and elevated rocks we kept at 10 seconds per minute for 10 minutes per session. We gradually used heavier kettlebells in the swings. Really quite simple stuff.

Anyway, the good stuff – the results.

The Swing was tested with the 100 swings test – the goal, to swing 100 times in under 5 minutes. Even though we never encountered 100 swings in that kind of intensity (the most we would do over 5 minutes was 35 swings) everyone has tested out with 100 swings in well under 5 minutes and interestedly, finished fresh and not huffing and puffing! We have carried out swing tests like this in the past, but for everyone, they used much bigger weights.

The elevated rock goal was maximum reps in 5 minutes. Probably tougher than the swing 100.

The elevated rock tested out with a total of 70 in 5 minutes. This is quite a feat – I dare you to try this one!

Pressing. On testing the single arm press, everyone finished with a personal record weight for reps.

The overarching goal of the program was to demonstrate how we can indeed increase our work capacity or fitness if you want to call it that and increase strength too but without ever working ‘hard’. Maybe it also demonstrates that you could still accomplish training goals when feeling kind of tired some days. If all you have to do is turn up, do the stuff and go home.

Turn Up, do the ‘Stuff’, go home, repeat. Simple!

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

Screen Shot 2018-09-20 at 1.04.21 pm

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.

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

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.