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Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category
6 April, 2013
Getting real results from the gym
I have walked into a gym too many times here in Wellington and seen people working on those ‘problem areas’ such as the back of the arms (often using tricep kickbacks) or endless sit-ups to somehow reduce the stomach. Lets break the myth now: sit-ups do not lower body fat on the stomach and tricep kickbacks will not tone your arms, and do not contribute to a good weight loss programme.
At Studio41 personal training studio we know that burning body fat is about keeping the heart rate high and burning calories (fat) through demanding exercises recruiting large muscle groups. Sit-ups, conversely, are a relatively easy exercise with a low heart rate. Done properly you will be strengthening your abdominals, but don’t confuse strength with body fat. The amount of body fat covering a muscle is not directly correlated to the strength of that muscle. So although there maybe a case for doing sit ups, losing bodyfat on your stomach is not one of them.
For a fat loss programme, the maximum rest you should have is 60 seconds between exercises (I know this may be hard in a busy commercial club). The logistics of leaving your piece of equipment for another only to come back 2 minutes later to find someone sitting on it are hard. But it has to be done. Believe it or not, the difference between 60 and 75 seconds rest is significant, so make sure you are starting the next exercise promptly, not still sipping water and 30 seconds away from the next exercise. This means you are actually moving quickly with minimal time to rest (or chat to your personal trainer about your weekend) – after all you are there for results. This is one thing we pride our selves on here at Studio41. All trainers have stop watches and will stop you from talking if it means you want start your next set on time. If your personal trainer here in Wellington does not use a watch while training you come down and we will happily show you what having a trainer should be like.
When you are lean, though, these exercises actually make sense. Now you want to show off what has been underneath all that fat all along. But if you can’t manage 10 bodyweight dips or pull-ups you don’t need to do arm exercises. You will get enough benefit from keeping your exercises on a general push and pull level, which still works the arms but uses more muscle groups and of course keeps the heart rate higher. Use the following programme and when done with the correct rest times, it is an incredibly hard workout. Note that there is a stomach exercise included, but only one in amongst all that hard work. Note – the A1 is done with the A2 and then back to the A1 again until 3 sets is done. Then the same is repeated with the B exercises and 3 exercises are done in a row for the C exercises before repeating with the C1 again.
A1 Back squats (3 Sets of 15 – then 45 second rest)
A2 Pull-ups using neutral grip (3 Sets of 15 – then 45 second rest)
B1 Lying leg curls with feet neutral (3 Sets of 12 – then 45 second rest)
B2 Flat bench presses (3 Sets of 15 – then 45 second rest)
C1 Dips (3 Sets of 15 – then 30 second rest)
C2 Reverse crunches (3 Sets of 20 – then 30 second rest)
C3 Leg presses – (3 Sets of 20 – then 60 second rest before back to C1)
Tagged under: Fitness
24 May, 2012Too Little Or Too Much Rest Between WorkoutsTiming of your rest is truly the key for getting results. As mentioned above
People often think it is the actual exercise that is important and hence the time that they exercise, such as going for a run for 45 mins.
However all we are doing during exercise is breaking down muscle tissue so it repairs itself and has a positive adaptive respond (you get stronger, faster etc). However you have to allow your body to have that positive adaptive response. This is what should happen post working out
Firstly – lets talk about the case scenario that is all too common today – having too much rest. In the above example the horizontal line represents current strength. The best time to train again is as soon as you hit the “super compensation phase”. Note with the above example the “super compensation phase” does wear off eventually and you are back to the same baseline as when you started. The obvious question now is – how do I know when I am at that stage. Well the answer is good record keeping.
You can see by the above record keeping that after just 2 days, the session done on the 14/06 did not improve from the previous session. If I was training someone and they lifted the above on the 14th then I would conclude that they had not super compensated. However when 5 days was given as the rest (19/06) the best improvement was seen, even better than the 4 day rest given. You should expect (if the programme is written well and the person is well balanced and healthy) for improvements at every session. The above record keeping is also my indication on when to change the programme. If you see a plateau occur then the programme needs to change. For some people it may be as little as 3 weeks, others I have seen still make improvements after 7 weeks. If improvements are being made then do not change the programme.
The other factor that needs to be considered is not allowing enough rest. I have several clients who struggle to understand this concept. Once
If the above is the case you will simply not see an improvement in your weight training. in fact you can actually see the results get worse. It is also important to note that a rest day should be just that – a rest day. If you have a Wednesday off because you have a stressful 14 hour working day – then this is not rest. Or taking a Sunday off and spending the day building a fence at home which sees you carrying heavy objects all day is also not a rest. Remember rest is when the magic happens – so allow yourself to relax.
Time this right and you can utilise all the good hard work you are doing in the gym. Time it wrong and it is all for nothing. So remember to keep those records and if you are not making progress, try changing your rest between workouts (i.e chest workout to chest workout) and learn what works best for you.
29 September, 2011
When I walk into gyms I often see someone trying to balance on swissball or stand one legged trying to push some sort of weight overhead. I am not embarrassed to admit I used to be that trainer, pushing my clients while standing one leg on a bosu – (http://bit.ly/pH3Yso) while doing a deadlift with a dumbbell in one hand. Every trainer has to go through their journey to find what works best. However I am proud to say I have been through that journey and oddly enough have ended right back at the beginning – BACK TO BASICS. Our goal in training is to maximise the results of our clients (which is unfortunately too often weight loss), essentially if we achieved the same results than if the client would have achieved if left to themselves – we would not be very successful. So therefore the one thing that has to be on the trainers mind is the outcome – “What is our goal and what exercises get me there the quickest”? Too often personal trainers are looking to entertain their clients (because results and or weight loss are not coming) so they pull out all the “fun stuff” to justify an hourly rate that is often inflated for their experience level. At Studio41 Personal Training Studio, we have minimal balance equipment and definitely do not focus on any gimmicky equipment. We have olympic standards weights as my “toys”.
Lets take a step back to understand some basics – the more lean muscle someone has the higher their metabolism and the more fat they burn at a resting state. So therefore to build lean muscle is the key with anyone who wants to drop body fat.
This is somewhat also driven by the consumer. We often choose trainers who we “like” and therefore think are great. But when asking about the trainers philosophy, thought process or even qualifications – often the client can’t answer these questions, when in fact these should just be the basics of trainer selection. Your trainer has to be good. Here is a tip – do not go to the new trainer in which the sales or membership consultants will set you up with. Why not spend a year buying packages off different trainers and he who gets the best results wins your long term commitment – that would be interesting and would certainly see a few trainers out of a job very quickly. You are paying a personal trainer good money and you should demand high level of skill.
So what is the problem with balance equipment? When we put someone on a balance piece of equipment we take away the stability of that exercise and hence the muscular system will produce less force which minimises the amount of muscle someone can build. The other day I saw someone kneeling on a swissball while trying doing a heavy lat raise for muscular development of the shoulder (I didn’t say anything, where would I start?). So we need to stop being tasked focus and looking for the quick fun new gimmick that will put a smile on someones face. Having fun should be part of the process – not the goal. And trust me the smile is always bigger when someone drops 10kg and gets their body back.
So unfortunately if you want results – the simple answer is what it has been for a long time, train hard, eat lean, drink plenty of water and sleep well. Nothing new here!!!!
16 September, 2011
As working as a personal trainer now for over 10 years I often see this mistake made all to often. The objective of any good strength training protocol is to take musculature to failure – in fact I would say that this is the key to getting results. I often see people lifting weights (let’s say 15) and stopping when they reach 15. However if I asked them to keep on going they probably could have done another 10 – 15 reps. This means that they were really using a weight that was suitable for 30 reps. Understand that 12 – 15 reps means that if you can do 16 reps with good form then the weight is too light. This goes for any rep bracket. If I am lifting 8 – 10 reps for 4 sets and I manage to lift my weight for all 4 sets for the maximum of 10 reps each then I will be using a heavier weight next time I train. However it is still important to realise that to keep good form and keep the tempo.
“I don’t wont to bulk up”
I think one of the major reasons why the above happens is that people (females) don’t wont to bulk up and feel that if they lift to failure then this will happen. However muscular endurance is determined by a set lasting longer than 70 secs, (this is where 15 reps = toning comes from), however the people who said that you should increase the reps to 15 if you want to stay away from hypertrophy still meant that you train to failure. You just fail at 15 reps and not the classic 8 – 10.
You have to consider 2 things -
- Muscle is denser than fat. If you carry a pound of fat then it may look like this when it is around muscle
However if you develop muscle – this will raise your metabolism (muscle takes more energy to maintain than fat) and you will burn calories at rest helping to shred that fat. However even with small muscle growth you will still look leaner and your clothes will be fitting better as your body now looks like this
And so yes – your muscles have got bigger – you look smaller.
At Studio41 Personal Training Studio we track every set and every rep. This helps us to know exactly what you did the previous week to make sure you lift that extra rep, helping us to get you stronger and leaner by making sure we apply small overloads each week.
Tagged under: Fitness
16 August, 2011
Periodisation or lack of it
The area of periodisation is an interesting one. There are many ways to periodise from linear to undulating and even linear and in the same week and even linear in the same workout. I prefer undulating over a series of months and will talk you through this. You have 2 types of training. Metabolic and Neuromuscular. One when the muscles “burns” which is done by lifting lighter weights and more reps – this is metabolic training and this phase of training is called accumulation training. The other is when the muscle has to contract everything it has, to lift as heavy as possible. This is neurological training and is called the intensification phase. It is important to note that one is not better than the other. It is the contrast between the 2 that makes for powerful results. What I see in the gym most often is that people have their favourite reps range (e.g 6 – 8) and always stick to it. An undulating periodisation protocol sees you moving from high reps to low reps and back again over a series of months. See below…….
Remember you are choosing weights that you can lift only for that rep bracket, so the weights will change that you use through each phase (and you should also change the exercises). The real issue I see is leaving your ego out of the equation when switching back to a accumulation phase. When you go from lifting heavy weights at 4 – 6 reps and then move back to lifting a weight for 10 – 12 reps, the weights will obviously be less, so you have to allow this to hit your ego. Just remember it is the body transformation that counts – not how much weight you are lifting. Plus keep the periodisation going and every-time you will come back to the rep bracket you like – you will be lifting more.
Tagged under: Fitness
4 August, 2011
Too little or not enough variation – finding the balance between consistency and variety.
Creating not enough variety is one aspect of training that is most commonly done incorrectly by everyday gym users, but surprisingly trainers seem to go to the other end of the spectrum and create far too much variety for their clients, often in an attempt to create interesting and entertaining programmes – unfortunately all at the expense of the clients progress or goals (and quite often I believe to entertain and keep themselves interested more than anything). But lets focus on the first mistake – not creating enough variety in programmes. Remember the goal of training is to overload the body so it has to adapt by getting stronger and leaner. However like anything the body can get incredibly used to the same movement patterns and techniques. You have to shock the body to overload and stimulate new muscle tissue and if you want muscle hypertrophy, then creating variety is a key component for that hypertrophy to occur. I think one prime reason for members of a gym to stay in on the same program for so long is quite simply comfort zones. People are creatures of habit and we like to stick to those habits – they make us feel safe. I have seen people stick to the same programmes in a gym for over three years. Well unfortunately we have to break those habits and create variety that still offers us overload and progression. How often do we need to change? As soon as you start to not improve from workout to workout, then you should change your routine. Changing to what will be answered in the next blog “Periodisation or lack of it”. If you really like your routines and are not prepared to change your routine too much then at least changing your reps (still lifting a suitable weight that allows you to go to failure for the new rep bracket) or simply changing the grip from a wide grip to a neutral grip (or doing both is even better) may be enough of a chnage. Depending on your genetic make up you will plateau between 3 and 6 weeks. The key here is to create that variety, change your programme every time you plateau, once you have done the new programme a couple of times it will become within your new comfort zone and leave your ego at the table – if you lift a higher rep bracket, it will mean that you will have to drop the weight – however it is all to create stimulus and overload which ultimately leads to hypertrophy. Do not stay on the same programme for too long, your time in a gym is valuable and it should not be wasted, work hard and then move on.
The other side of the coin is adding too much variety. I have seen people with trainers get taken through a new routine every time they set foot in the gym.
Quoting the great Ian King
“Doing a programme for the first time is about learning which weight should be used, getting used to the new demands and rest intervals, even the second time you do the programme the body is still learning, the neurological system needs time to adapt, it is not until the third and fourth time you do a programme that the personal bests should be gone for.”
Therefore trying something new every time is not the best approach, stick to a new routine, get better at it, plateau and then move on to do it all again. Do not allow your trainer (if you have one) to entertain you – you are not there giving your sweat for nothing – you are there fore results.
Tagged under: Fitness
6 May, 2011
This is out of the latest article I have put into the members area.
“In 1976 experimenters recruited thirteen subjects and trained them on a stationary bike. However, they had them train only one leg; the other leg wasn’t trained at all. The trained leg employed a sprint and/or an endurance (steady-state) protocol. The subjects performed four or five such workouts per week for four weeks. Alter the study, when the researchers tested the subjects’ Vo2, max by having them repeat the exercise with the trained limb, they noted an increase in Vo2, max of 23 percent. This low-intensity, steady-state exercise was supposed to produce a central cardiovascular adaptation, but when the experimenters tested the subjects’ untrained legs, they discovered that the untrained limbs showed no improvement in VO, max at all”.
B, Saltin, et al., “The Nature ot the Training Response: Peripheral and Central Adaptations of One-Legged Exercise,” Acta Physiologica Samdinavica 96, no. 3 (March 1976): 289-305.So looking at the above study, you are only really improving your cardiovascular fitness for one very specific activity (not necessarily improving your overall fitness). I have taken many marathon runners in to the gym and after 15 mins they had to stop as they felt sick. However there is no way I could keep up with them with running. I also struggle to keep up with a good cyclist (even though I do own a bike). However not one of these “cardio” people can keep up to me in terms of intensity or volume when we step into the gym. So I question the terminology of “fitness”. Are we really making ourselves better by pounding the hours of cardiovascular fitness and burning so much muscle tissue that inevitably lowers our resting metabolism when we do long continuous cardio, or can we be fit without cardio?