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

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!

Getting Back Up

In a 2002 Brazilian study, men and women between the ages of 51 to 80 were followed for an average of 6.3 years. Those who had to rely on their hands and knees to get up and down to the ground regardless of age were almost seven times more likely to die within six years than those who could get up unsupported. Those individuals with poor overall muscular strength and mobility were the the ones who had to rely on using their hands to awkwardly get down and up.

Clearly being stronger has more implications than just being able to carry the shopping in after a grocery shop.

In part 1 we looked at other statistics that looked at mortality and affects on quality of life from falls but in part 2, let’s consider prevention measures.

Getting to the floor should happen in any training session regardless of whether or not it’s an intended exercise but if getting down to terra firma proves a tad troublesome, where do you start?

Even if you’re an experienced strength athlete / trainee, some the drills below will give your body an added edge in being more resilient. How often do you see muscular people moving rather stiff ? Yes, a bit too often. If you move like a robot, some mobility training should be in your life.

Below I’ll demonstrate the strength exercises that give us the ability to move down to the floor and also the mobility exercises to practice that allow us to more smoothly navigate to the floor and up. After that, we’ll take a look at the drills that we practice to move down and up and prepare the body further.

None of these exercises should ever be taken to muscular fatigue or muscle failure but you should feel the muscles doing their jobs. Always stop a set knowing you could do a few more repetitions.

General Strength

Progressing Strength

Practice?

Don’t worry if you haven’t got heaps of time, you can spend as little as 3-5 minutes every couple of days ‘playing’ with these movements. A couple of sets of each move will be enough initially to get you moving and stronger. As the moves in the first video get easier, move to video 2 and play with the moves there. I use the word play to suggest you don’t count repetitions, instead practice each move to make it better. Not sore and fatiguing, just getting better at each.

Imagine lying in a hospital bed with a broken hip, stressing over lost work, medical expenses and rehab afterwards. Not so pleasant…

Now consider just spending 3-5 minutes every couple of days practicing getting yourself stronger. No medical bills or rehab, just getting down to the floor and back up.

I know which I prefer and to be honest, longevity is the number one key objective of FitStrong  – to help people find longevity.

If you’re interested in investing your time further, please check out my FREE 5 Day Morning Routine

What do you think? Got any suggestions, thoughts, opinions or stories to share? Please do get in touch.

 

 

Why Getting Down to the Floor is So Important

I love questions in the gym or from peoples in the interweb facebook world. I even love the questions I can’t immediately answer. If I need to really think a subject matter through, I will and if I need to refer to a smarter associate, I will. I’m actually very lucky to be within a network of some of the smartest thinkers in the health and fitness world. Note the word ‘health’. The fitness world alone is awash with unnecessarily sweaty, nonsense – you know the ‘stuff’ you see on social media with all the pouting, posing, flexing, ‘look at me’ distractions. I’ll not even get into the exercise things that they share – that is a story for another time.

Talking of smart people, I am very blessed to be attending a weekend workshop with world renowned strength and conditioning coach Dan John. We’ll be spending the weekend covering some content from his latest book, 40 Years with a Whistle along with sections looking at the economics of strength training. Overall, it is going to an awesome weekend with gold nuggets of information bouncing off the walls. I will be sure to blog about the workshop next week when I’ve calmed down!

Dan John ties in nicely with todays post and a question I get often from new-comers to the gym.

‘Why do we get down to the floor so much during a training session’? 

Let’s read a few statistics, a somewhat scary tale of the current day for you.

  1. Deaths from falls are increasing by 3% per year, or 30% between 2007 and 2016. Link
  2. In Queensland, ambulance services attended near 60% of falls in private residences and 24% in nursing homes.
  3. In Australia, 30% of adults over 65 experience at least one fall per year.
  4. Falls account for 40% of injury-related deaths in Australia. Link
  5. The most common injuries involve hip, leg, arm, neck fractures, with hip injuries having the greatest impact on patients.

I’ll stop at 5 but for more information please do click on the last link above.

Whilst the falls alone are traumatic the post-fall life of a fall patient is greatly impacted by a reduction in willingness to partake in physical activity for fear of falling again. Even in younger patients, they too will most likely seize to exercise as much. This reduction of quality in life simply snow-balls the inactivity and allows frailty to set in, in turn increasing risks of heart disease, stroke, diabetes. One study has shown that the two year survival rate of cancer survivors is greater than that of falls patients.

If you’re not seeing why we get to the floor and back up again often in a gym session, maybe you need to read the same statement from one of the worlds greatest strength and conditioning coaches.

‘It’s one of the strongest statements I have made in my career. I feel like no one is listening, but…please…do some work on getting to the ground and getting back up. Practice falling before you need to!’ Dan John

A bit more information from Dan perhaps?

So, how do we get to the floor? Well, we get down to the floor silly. Simply practicing the many methods of getting onto the floor and whilst down there we practice some purposeful trunk exercises. Any action that’s purposeful and mindful, repeated often will develop muscular and joint strength as well as developing the reactive or reflexive strength in the movements. If we’re stronger in practicing getting down to the floor, we will be more resilient if and when a slip or fall occurs.

For general strength and conditioning, we practice the following:

  • Lunges in all directions to get closer to the floor or onto the floor.
  • Squats in all shapes and forms to get closer to the floor.
  • Hip hinges both two legged and single legged to get closer to the floor or onto the floor.
  • The wonderful Turkish Get Up is another quite specific multi-planar movement that teaches the skill of getting to the floor and back up.
  • Single leg balance to assess and develop the ability to stand on one leg for 10 seconds. Test that yourself. If you struggle to balance for 10 seconds, there’s you next most important goal to work on.

We also have a great drill I call the Flamingo. This drill I developed to address multi-planar movements of the legs. Really, it’s just a tease for the legs, hips, ankles and trunk to maintain balance over a range of moves. Here’s a video I’ll share now.

In part two, I will share a video containing the other list of moves I mentioned above.

Action point?

Can you stand on one leg for 10 seconds?

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

High Intensity Training ‘without’ the Pain!?

Pain and discomfort, throwing up after exercise and sore muscles the day or days after is not an indicator of progress… believe it or not!

Working overly hard is hardly working compared to working strategically hard… and that’s what I’m about to get into here.

My last blog post discussed High Intensity Interval Training and it’s many demons for both trainees and even the gyms who don’t overly sell this over-marketed form of exercise.

Today I’m introducing to you the findings of some exciting research that demonstrates receptively how a simpler form of training hard (yes, I’m saying you can still work hard) elicits better and safer results.

This updated method of performing high intensity training for strength and power comes from the latest evidence based practice (and much research) from StrongFirsts Pavel Tsatsouline and plenty of credit goes too to Dr Craig Marker who shares his research with the wider StrongFirst community of instructors.

So boys and girls, let me introduce you to Anti-glycolytic training (AGT)

First off, let’s check off a few truisms.

  1. Some exercisers like to feel pain when exercising hard.
  2. Most exercisers don’t like pain the day after training.
  3. Working hard feels great to some people in the gym.
  4. Most people are exercising in part to burn fat / lean out.
  5. Most exercisers just follow the herd.
  6. Most gyms and trainers do not care about health first (just count all the gym chains that focus and market HIT!)
  7. 80%+ of training benefits are gained through accumulation of and adapting to moderate volume and intensity throughout the year.
  8. For a day or two after an HIIT session, quality of life is compromised and gym time is cut or affected (stiffness, pain, low motivation).
  9. HIIT does have its place – in a peaking phase of training once or twice a year for a few weeks only.
  10. Mmmmm, #10 – Training hard but NOT to the ‘burn’ can help promote more favourable circumstances to oxidise fat over glycogen (blood sugars) as the main fuel during exercise.

Listing 10 is a total accident there in case you’re thinking I worked hard to come up with 10 key facts.

By definition, anti-glycolytic training refers to not using the glycolytic energy system during high effort training.

Digging a wee bit into exercise science for you, here’s the normal sequence of fuel sources the body uses once high effort exercise commences and continues.

Instant Energy: ATP/CP

Stored in our muscles and liver, adenosine triphosphate and creatine phosphate is a powerful, clean fuel that gives us the quick bursts of energy we need for a quick dash up the stairs, vigorously scrubbing the bath or a quick sprint. A set of 5-7 swings or a heavy press fits in this energy category.

Downside – it drains out very quickly requiring us to rest to replenish the ATP or, to start utilising the next energy source.

Fuel Booster Energy: Glycolysis

Glycolysis is a slightly less powerful source of fuel than ATP/CP itself but it will last up to 2 minutes further but, it’s a dirty fuel. The metabolic waste bi-product of using this fuel source is probably something you’ve experienced in the past in the lovely sensation of burning pain in your side. This is the feeling of a build up of hydrogen ions that the body is desperately trying to buffer out of the body – it’s removal as a waste product takes priority over any further energetic efforts. So, you’ve got to rest up to let the body do what it does – repair itself!

These highly acidic waste products cause a few issues that in the long term, we want to limit and prevent.

Issues of concern include:

  • Inhibits the creation of more ATP.
  • Causes damage to cells.
  • Extends the recovery times between training sessions.
  • ‘Muscling’ through further repeated efforts carries increased risk of muscle strain, poor form and breathing patterns will take a hit – doesn’t sound too healthy actually!

Oxygen

For efforts to continue longer than two or three minutes, we cannot depend on the ATP/CP system or glycolysis and must instead rely on the use of oxygen. This incredibly efficient energy system utilises the oxidation of fat to produce energy the ins and outs of which go far beyond the scope of this post. This is where you get your energy for basic functions, long walks, jogs, bike rides and in the sporting realms, ultra marathons and such.

No supplements are needed to optimise this fuel source, just a lowering of the average overall intensity and breathing in lovely oxygen.

For the most part, we want to spend time using the latter and avoiding the nasty bi-product producing glycolytic system whilst still training to get stronger.

“How’s that gona work”? You ask.

Knowing that the ATP/CP system lasts 10 – 15 seconds or so and that we want to prevent going into the glycolytic system of producing energy we now have a window in which to work. Work in this case means hard work, explosive and pushing the comfort zone to the upper limits.

Yeah, this sounds like any other HIIT session doesn’t it.

So let’s define HIIT in its standard form.

HIIT = maximum effort intensity for a predetermined time followed by minimum time to recover and repeat.

Tabatta for example is 7 – 8 rounds of 20 seconds max effort and 10 seconds recovery. It was designed to be carried out on an indoor cycle and not the terrible forms you can see being performed in some gyms and programs.

While not all intervals are in the form of the now famous Tabatta, they all follow the same principle of max effort, short rest, repeat and pass out on the floor. Yay – way to go.

What is observed in E.V.E.R.Y workout is that form and technique and power output diminishes per round. The final set does resemble the first set in the slightest.

Is this good training practice?

Will this really develop good movement practice?

Will this create a good stimulus for strength and power improvements?

No

This has been observed for quite some time but was accepted in the name of forcing the body to accept the new level of pain and perhaps an increase in V02 max. To be honest, while conducting such training on an ergometer, running, rowing and such, there is only so much scope for a degradation in form compared with the likes of kettlebell swings, snatches, barbell moves and other loaded tools.

So, getting back to AGT, the findings in the labs have been quite the game changer and not what you’d expect.

What has been seen is that by stretching out the recovery time between high efforts of 10 -15 seconds, the body started to adapt to demands for ATP/CP through the oxidative system.

Essentially, if you stop asking the body for fuel sourced by the glycolytic system it is more than happy not to go there. Why would it – it’s damaging. Not what the body does best.

We know that strength is a skill and we talk of practicing the skill of strength to, well, get stronger. It works, it makes sense. It therefore goes without saying that being able to repeat those high effort bouts is a sane approach to high effort training.

It is now about High Intensity ‘Repeat’ Training.

Kind of ironic how the label given to High Intensity Repeat Training has the acronym of HIRT! You’ll possibly never feel the kind of pains and hurt from this method compared to HIIT.

Having these numbers gives us a massive boost in programming some high effort training to keep everyone happy, to increase our fat adaption during exercise and avoiding burnout, injury and all those aches and pains for the days following the training session.

IMG_7833

How the Program looks

Amazingly simple looking, the program goes like this:

  • 10 seconds flat out with powerful, crisp and strong form
  • 50 to 90 seconds rest
  • Repeat for up to 10 rounds.

Done!

The rest period will depend on the individuals recovery rate.

An easy method we use is the talk test. Once the exerciser can speak a sentence without gulping for air, they are ready to go.

With time and as the session seems to feel easier, and more manageable, the 10 seconds of high effort can be stretched to 12, 15 seconds.

For simplicity in the gym, we’ve found that 10 secs ON and 50 secs OFF works just fine.

What exercises?

The movements that the exerciser can carry out well and safely at high efforts are the obvious choice.

Consider:

  1. Kettlebell Swing
  2. Medicine Ball Slam
  3. Sprinting on the spot!
  4. Clean and Push Press
  5. Cycle sprints.
  6. Kettlebell Snatch.

This list is no particular order but I do prefer the kettlebell swing as a stronger swing equates to a stronger clean, press, squat potentially and a bigger deadlift as well as all-round feel good factors. Who wouldn’t mind swinging the heaviest kettlebell they can get their hands on.

Actually, on that note, when we last ran this program last year, one lady started swinging the 12kg and finished 8 weeks later swinging the 32kg! A gent also started on the 20kg and finished on the 48kg!

Impressive you’ll agree.

So that is the first component of this next program.

Are you game??

Jamie

Is HIIT a component of Wellness?

There are many quotes we bounce around the interwebs these days but today I’m quoting Benjamin Franklin when he wrote in his letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy in 1789, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

A commonly used quote that denotes life has two certainties but yet, many, many variables. Let’s call these variables ‘choices’ just for today in this short piece.

We all have choices to make in our lives and especially true of our health and fitness choices but it does seem like most exercisers are simply following the herd without really looking at what they are doing and why they are doing it.

Just because something feels good, that doesn’t make it good for you!

I was going to write up this blog post but instead decided to talk to you instead. If you can’t watch all 10 minutes, that’s okay but I get into discussing HIIT (high intensity interval training) and how it’s showing NOT to be the best, most sustainable choice of exercise to benefit our lives.

You could just leave it there. You’ve read that I’m about to discredit HIIT as a training method and that simpler, less painful training works better! To find out the details, how about just watching the video?

Next time I’ll chat about the alternative to HIIT training that’s both healthier long term and actually provides better results – go figure!

Maybe a shorter video for that one haha.

Until then, be good to yourself 🙂

Jamie

 

 

Part 2 

Thoracic Spine Mobility Tip

Moving better and getting stronger is rather contextual. For an average gym attendee it’s a clear message; “I want to lift heavier stuff” or “I want to carry out more complex movements”.

But, if you’re an individual with back pain (or any pain) at rest, whilst carrying out day-to-day activities or whilst trying to engage in exercise, the message is different. It becomes qualitative rather than quantitive. Working out hard or following the most advanced, cutting edge, progressive strength training plan is irrelevant at this stage.  Getting out of pain and discomfort is top priority.

Most of the general population will have some form of mobility issue. It could be as simple as a slightly stiff ankle or hip or shoulders none of which seriously affects the quality of life or it could be as impactful to cause pain and discomfort.

One area of mobility impairment I observe in the gym is thoracic spine mobility restrictions, or in simple terms, the limited range of movement of the upper body through rotation or side bending and also overhead reaching activities.

The thoracic spine (aka the T-spine) comprises the 12 vertebra that covers the shoulders to the waist, or the rib cage portion of the torso.

If the thoracic spine has restrictions, the lower backs lumbar spine will compensate and attempt to move more, not something it’s meant to do. This can often result in fatigue, pain and discomfort. Where I see the restrictions more often is at the top end, where the neck and shoulders take on more work and become stiff, tired and strained. Essentially when the upper torso doesn’t move well, the arms end up compensating and over-reach. There is indeed plenty of research that supports the theory that thoracic spine movement dysfunction is linked to pathologies and pain in the neck, shoulder, and elbow (Heneghan et al, 2017).

Thankfully there are systems in place to help rectify this the help of health practitioners and some trainers who may have qualifications in postural restoration – and positive outcomes can be quick. One study showed that after just three weeks of thoracic spine mobility and strength exercise practice, that participants improved movement competency, strength, posture and pain relief.

Today I’d like to share a couple of T-spine mobility drills we practice often but with a couple of tips added to help make the most of them. We are only human and oftentimes we’ll try to cheat, or get a bit complacent. My modified versions of two common drills have helped many clients actually get the benefit of the moves.

 

Have a go and see how you feel but naturally, of you’ve got pain, maybe go see your local physiotherapist for personalised guidance.

Jamie