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Blog

Fitness & the internet!

Posted on December 5, 2012 at 12:41 PM Comments comments (40)

Let's be honest, there is a multitude of free workouts and advice online for pre-packaged one size fits all training programs. But one size doesn't fit all and in all honesty is unlikely to fit you! 

Do a quick google search and you'll soon be overwhelmed by the number of workouts available that it can be hard to guessing where to begin. The fact is you shouldn't be guessing! An incorrect workout for your personal fitness level and experience can have serious consequences on your long term health. You might make it through a workout but the damage done with poor form can take time to manifest. I have had many clients  come to me after injuring themselves in the gym that wished they'd started with a trainer, learned the correct form, technique and how to structure a workout to begin with and then gone on to train separately afterwards. It was the sole reason why I became certified with the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a Corrective Exercise Specialist. It's simply not good enough to know how to train a client and teach good form/technique any more. You have to know where a client is at in relation to any injury they currently have or had and how to set them up to recover and grow from there. We're all individuals and our workouts should be individually tailored to our needs and experiences, something the internet doesn't offer for free.  

Before beginning any fitness program you find on line you should ask yourself the following questions:  


  • What if I have an old injury I have to be careful with or a medical condition? Will this workout be ok for someone who has low-back pain, a shoulder that hurts, or knee that acts up?
  • What if I’m just not sure if I’m doing something correctly and no one else seems to know the right way? What if the guy next to me in the gym I'm copying is doing it wrong too, who do I trust?
  • What if the exercise hurts, do I continue with it? Is there an alternative way of doing the exercise that won't hurt?
  • If something I do hurts what does that mean? Is there a way that I can treat the issue so that in the future the same exercise won't hurt? 
  • How will I know when to make the weight heavier or light or even what weight to use? Can I make the exercise more challenging without increasing the weight and how will this effect the results I want?
  • Will I really see results with this program? Does it fit my goals?
  • How do I know if this celebrity or expert isn’t just trying to sell more supplements, accessories, or DVDs? 

If you don't know the answer to all the questions above then you simple aren't ready to go it alone so what are the alternatives?
Your history, experience, abilities, and goals are completely different than your friends, fellow gym goers, or the expert at XYZ web site. And your body has wear and tear and biomechanics that are vastly different than anyone else’s. It’s important to know you’re following a safe, appropriate program so the answer is simple, find a personal trainer. 


An In-person, One on One Personal Trainer can be found at your local gym, a private training studio or available in-home. He/she should be Degree educated in a sports/exercise related field and certified with a top training company such as NASM, ACE or ACSM. A personal trainer you hire asks you detailed questions that reveal exactly what will impact your success. They perform assessments to find out more about your uniqueness, including your body composition, your strengths and weaknesses, and your biomechanics. They also identify thinking or lifestyle patterns that might be sabotaging you and help you learn healthier habits. Here are a few other things a trainer can do:
 
  • Give you a customized, progressive program based on your own distinct characteristics and goals.
  • Monitor your progress and adjust your program along the way, helping you work through plateaus and keep you motivated.
  • Keep you accountable to your goals.
  • Help you set realistic goals and reach them in a safe, timely way.
  • Take into account your own unique health concerns.
  • Teach you about nutrition and calorie tracking, how to use equipment properly and the correct form/technique for an exercise.
  • Ultimately, help you become responsible for your own health for your entire lifetime.
An alternative option is a live virtual trainer. How does a live virtual differ from in-person training? Maybe you’ve heard of online training but have no idea how it works. Here are a few reasons why live virtual training can be a good idea:


  • Lower cost. You’ll still get many of the benefits of in-person training but at a much lower cost. In-person training usually involves meeting at least twice a week at a gym or with a trainer traveling to you which increase cost. Since you’re not physically meeting with a trainer, virtual training obviously costs less per hour. 
  • Program only plans. A Virtual trainer can provide programs designed specifically for you, based on your goals. You then may then only need to see that virtual trainer online to reassess the program and technique every 4-6 weeks. Program only plans are vastly less expensive than in-person training but still customized for you.
  • More flexibility. You can train whenever and wherever you want. If you travel frequently, train at home, or live in a remote location, virtual training is much more accessible than in-person training. An online trainer can give you a workout to accommodate the exact equipment you have available at the time.
  • No intimidation factor. If being around a lot of fit and muscular people intimidates you, then having a trainer online via skype may feel more comfortable for you. 
  • Personalized service using technology. You can both give and receive immediate feedback online with a virtual trainer. You can communicate, ask questions about an exercise, it's relevance, get your form corrected and adapt a workout in live real time. You are not waiting for a pre-made program that can't assess how well you are doing to tell you when to progress to the next level.
  • Same level of service. Clients still get the same guidance, accountability, and motivation but on their own schedule. They’re still accountable to the trainer even if they never see them in person. 
In summary, the internet can be full of some helpful hints and tips but ultimately your body and health should be worth more than a free workout you found online. Injuring yourself with a workout designed by someone unqualified or with a program designed for someone else can actually cost you thousands more in treatments for injuries either related directly to a workout or not. Remember, the bad form used during a workout can cross over into everyday life and effect you in ways you may not even realize. Just because you were not in the gym when you hurt yourself doesn't mean that it wasn't indirectly related to your workout and form in the gym. The best advice I can give you is to find a well qualified and experienced trainer. Spend the money now and save the thousands in medical bills and pain later. It really isn't as expensive as you may think with live online and in-home trainers and will do way more good for you than whatever else you may decide to waste the money on. 


If this article hits home and you've worked out with a trainer after an injury or simple just wish you'd followed some of the advice in it before hurting yourself, please comment on, like and share the article. Hopefully we can then help others from making the same mistakes.

Free intense workout!

Posted on October 10, 2012 at 4:44 PM Comments comments (35)
Ok so you think you're in shape, you think because you've completed one circuit of P90X you're strong, fit and there isn't a workout there that could kick your butt again. Guess what, you're wrong!

This workout is for any one brave enough to try, just don't come crying to me when you fail. If you complete it, leave a comment at the bottom with your time. If you fail, leave a comment telling us how far you got. The person completing the workout in the quickest time before December 31st, 2012 gets a free $100 gift card! Don't lie about it though, you have to prove you can do it either in person or live on cam. 

Don't worry if you can't complete a set without stopping, just take a break and keep going from where you left off before moving to the next exercise.

Ok, so here it is!

99 Jumping Jacks
99 second - plank on forearms
99 Squats
99 Push ups
99 crunches

10-30 second rest - Get some water!

88 Squat Jumps
88 Second - Side Plank on right forearm 
88 Alternating Lunges
88 Dips
88 Reverse Crunches

10-30 second rest - Get some water!

77 Steps ups
77 Second - SIde plank on left forearm
77 Walking Lunges 
77 Push ups with feet on a bench/chair
77 Oblique crunches 

10-30 second rest - Get some water!

66 Burpee's
66 Second - Plank on straight arms 
66 Side Lunges (66 each side)
66 Military push ups
66 Sit ups

10-30 second rest - Get some water if you have quit yet!

55 Mountain climbers
55 Second - Plank on forearms 
55 Transverse Lunges (55 each side)
55 Diamond push ups
55 V- crunches

10-30 second rest - Get some water! This is where it starts to get easy!

44 Ice skaters
44 Second - Side plank on right straight arm
44 Squat with front kick
44 Dive Bombers
44 Side Crunches

10-30 second rest - Water! 

33 Tuck jumps
33 Second - Side plank on left straight arm
33 Laying side leg raises (That's 33 each side)
33 Push ups
33 Crunches

10-30 second rest - Get some water! 

Awesome, now go for a 3K run/walk/crawl  

When you get back post your name and time! Good luck!




















How to build lean muscle fast!

Posted on September 21, 2012 at 12:07 AM Comments comments (66)
Whether you want to improve your athletic performance or enhance your physique for personal satisfaction, gaining lean muscle mass can be beneficial. Unfortunately, gaining muscle and keeping fat at bay can be a difficult task. Follow my guide below and you can't go wrong. 

DIET:

Before you begin let's get the basics right, with out the right diet you're setting yourself up to fail. Plan five to six healthy meals throughout the day to boost your metabolism and provide energy. Begin with breakfast being the largest meal of the day and finish off with dinner being the smallest. Load complex carbohydrates in the early part of the day so that your body has time to burn them off.  

EXERCISE:

Design and implement a specific weight training and cardio program that will allow you to reach optimum fitness levels. This is where a Personal Trainer comes in handy if you really don't know how to construct a program specific to your goals. A personal trainer will push you to lift more weight safely and get that extra rep or two out when you want to quit. He/she will know just when to increase or decrease the weights from set to set in order to get the most out of you in relation to your goals. Your form will always be monitored which is key when trying to gain size and prevent an injury which could set you back weeks. Not only that but the appointment alone will ensure that on those days when you just don't want to go to the gym you really don't have a choice. It's planned, it's paid for and it's not going to go down well if you say you can't be bothered today. 

SUPPLEMENTS:

MULTIVITAMINS

You should take a multivitamin every day. If your body is lacking in just one important vitamin or nutrient then your ability to build lean muscle mass can be greatly effected. As yet we don't full understand the exact role that every vitamin plays within the human body so it is important to get the recommended daily amount of each. The "International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research" found in 2008 that, vitamin C can help prevent fat deposits. In an issue of "Hormone and Metabolic Research" studies indicated that increased levels of vitamin D can increase your levels of free testosterone. Testosterone helps increase muscle mass and reduce body fat, which can aid in producing a lean muscle body.

My choice - Men/women's - One a day. 

OMEGA-3 FATS

Taking an O-mega 3 fat supplement can aid both muscle growth and fat reduction. Research from the December 2007 issue of the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" found that fish oil supplementation can reduce body fat. In addition, a study from the February 2011 issue of the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" found that omega-3 fatty acids can stimulate muscle protein synthesis, which aids in muscle growth.

PROTEIN

Protein is a macronutrient that is used to repair and maintain existing muscle tissue as well as to build new muscle. The best lean muscle protein supplement is milk protein isolate, a protein-rich, low-fat, low-carbohydrate product with nutrients conducive to building muscle and losing fat. Milk protein isolate is a powdered protein supplement derived from milk in a process that concentrates the protein and strips out fat and carbohydrates. Milk protein isolate is superior to other supplements in that it contains both of the two protein types found in milk, whey and casein. These protein types have different physiological benefits, so combining them can help you get the most out of your workouts. You should look to consume at least 1.5 to 2g of protein per pound of body weight daily, in divided doses.

My choice - Gold Standard 100% Whey 

L-GLUTAMINE

Glutamine is an amino acid naturally produced in muscle tissue that aids the body in recovery and prevents muscle loss. You should take a glutamine supplement about 45 minutes to an hour before your workout. Take 5g of an L-glutamine supplements daily.

CREATINE

Adenosine triphosphate, or ATP is the energy used by the muscles for fast, powerful movements. Creatine is naturally produced in the body and helps to power explosive movements such as heavy lifts, by increasing ATP production.  Creatine also helps speed up muscle recovery so you can spend less time resting between workouts. A creatine supplement should be taken post workout within one hour. Take 20g of creatine monohydrate in divided doses, every day for seven days, then reduce the dosage to 2 to 5g daily

CONJUGATED LINOLEIC ACID 

Take a conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, supplement daily, according to manufacturer's directions. The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center describes CLA as a form of fatty acid that has significant antioxidant properties. CLA has also been found to reduce body fat in men who are overweight. Studies also suggest that CLA can help individuals attain a healthy weight through apoptosis, or the burning off of white adipose tissue.

My choice - GNC Total Lean CLA

BRANCHED CHAINS AMINO ACID  

Branched Chains Amino Acids, or BCAAs leucine, isoleucine and valine are used for fuel during intense workouts thus preventing your body from scavenging hard-earned muscle for energy. At other times of day BCAAs help stimulate protein synthesis and ward off cortisol, the catabolic hormone. You should take 5-10 grams both pre and post workout. 

My choice - Optimum Nutrition BCAA 1000

Before beginning any diet, exercise and/or supplement plan you should always check with a doctor that it is safe to do so and follow the recommended guidelines on the products. 



Weekend Fitness tips

Posted on September 17, 2012 at 12:12 PM Comments comments (83)
Ok, so we've all just enjoyed the weekend and I'm sure for many it involved a lot of food (mostly junk) and alcohol. Great, so the few (if any) sessions you did during the previous week that built up a little sweat and a burnt a few calories were just completely undone. Don't want to make the same mistakes next week? Well here's a few tips to motivate you for the week a head knowing that when the weekend arrives we won't be making the same mistakes again. 

Let's be honest, the weekend starts from midday on Friday onwards. Let's get off to a great start and keep our meals light and healthy from this point on. Try a salad for lunch loaded with fresh fruits and a little grilled chicken. You'll find with the infusion of pineapples, oranges slices and grapes you won't even need to add a dressing. A great lunch and calories saved. Awesome, let the weekend begin! 

So with friday lunch going so well it's time to plan ahead a little. We make sure our mates all know which pub to be in for kick off of the big game or where we're meeting before we head out to the clubs so lets take the same approach with our exercise. Schedule a class at your local gym, book a session with a personal trainer or plan an event with friends. In fact, do a combination of them all to mix it up on each day from week to week. Having that appointment set and/or class booked can be a game changer as you're more likely to stick to a workout when you've paid to do it and have that appointment already in place. Suddenly you won't be putting it off at the last minute when you see a movie on the TV or a rerun of your favorite show. By combining training sessions, classes and say a local cancer run you'll burn more fat as you put demands on different muscles. 

Exercise doesn't have to be boring and it doesn't have to feel like work. Take a swim instead of your typical stint on the elliptical machine; or play basketball or soccer. Maybe swap a short run for a longer one that includes sprints and hills. For something even more fun get your friends together and hit the laser tag or paintball arena. 

Shopping counts too ladies, just don't undo the work by eating all the processed food they sell at the mall. Take a protein/special K bar with you to keep you going. Go into every single store at the mall once before you even buy a single item. My mum used to do this and as a kid it drove me crazy. She would see something she liked but not buy it. Then if she still wanted the items she would return to all the stores for a second time. It meant she walked twice as far and probably saved her money on things that she would have brought on impulse. I know, smart women my mother!

Don't plan to start a new healthier you on Monday, that just leads to an even worse Saturday and Sunday. Today is the day and if you begin now by the time Monday rolls around you'll already be ahead and closer to your goal. 

Jump on the scale on Saturday morning, and plan to do it again on Monday. Researchers say people who weigh themselves are better at weight control and maybe it'll give you the push you need to start the day healthy. 

Finally, eat out and have fun. Just be mindful do your best to make the right choices. The occasional mistake won't destroy all your hard work so don't fret if you succumb to the occasional chocolate or beer. 



Fit after 30!

Posted on September 15, 2012 at 1:31 AM Comments comments (138)
ScienceDaily (Aug. 27, 2012) Being physically fit during your 30s, 40s, and 50s not only helps extend lifespan, but it also increases the chances of aging healthily, free from chronic illness, investigators at UT Southwestern Medical Center and The Cooper Institute have found.

For decades, research has shown that higher cardiorespiratory fitness levels lessen the risk of death, but it previously had been unknown just how much fitness might affect the burden of chronic disease in the most senior years -- a concept known as morbidity compression.

"We've determined that being fit is not just delaying the inevitable, but it is actually lowering the onset of chronic disease in the final years of life," said Dr. Jarett Berry, assistant professor of internal medicine and senior author of the study available online in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers examined the patient data of 18,670 participants in the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study, research that contains more than 250,000 medical records maintained over a 40-year span. These data were linked with the patients' Medicare claims filed later in life from ages 70 to 85. Analyses during the latest study showed that when patients increased fitness levels by 20 percent in their midlife years, they decreased their chances of developing chronic diseases -- congestive heart failure, Alzheimer's disease, and colon cancer -- decades later by 20 percent.

"What sets this study apart is that it focuses on the relationship between midlife fitness and quality of life in later years. Fitter individuals aged well with fewer chronic illnesses to impact their quality of life," said Dr. Benjamin Willis of The Cooper Institute, first author on the study.

This positive effect continued until the end of life, with more-fit individuals living their final five years of life with fewer chronic diseases. The effects were the same in both men and women.

These data suggest that aerobic activities such as walking, jogging, or running translates not only into more years of life but also into higher quality years, compressing the burden of chronic illness into a shorter amount of time at the end of life, Dr. Berry said.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), adults should get at least 2 ½ hours of moderate to intense aerobic activity each week to ensure major heart and overall health benefits.

UT Southwestern has a partnership with The Cooper Institute, the preventive medicine research and educational nonprofit located at the Cooper Aerobics Center, to develop a joint scientific medical research program aimed at improving health and preventing a wide range of chronic diseases. One of the world's most extensive databases, the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study includes detailed information from clinic visits that has been collected since Dr. Kenneth Cooper founded the institute and clinic in 1970.

Other UT Southwestern researchers involved in the study include Dr. David Leonard, assistant professor of clinical sciences, and Ang Gao, a biostatistical consultant in internal medicine.

The study was funded with support from the NHLBI and the American Heart Association.

Exercise mistakes!

Posted on September 13, 2012 at 11:11 PM Comments comments (329)
There are a number of common mistakes people make when trying to burn fat, lose weight and gain muscle:

Mistake #1: Doing isolated exercises!

Isolating exercises like bicep curls and tricep kick-backs will not get you any significant results. These one-muscle-at-a-time moves simply don't stimulate enough muscle fibers to build lean muscle or expend enough energy to maximize your calorie burn. If you want to build lean muscle while burning fat so you can get serious definition, you need to perform exercises that stimulate as many muscles and expend as much energy as possible at the same time.

Mistake #2: Working out with machines!

Fancy machines may make the gym look high-end, but truthfully, about the only thing they're good for is for sitting down while you tie your shoes or catch your breath! The problem is this: Machines alter the way your body naturally moves and restricts your range of motion. This severely limits your ability to fully activate all of your muscles fibers and that means less fat burning and less muscle definition. Worse yet, machines can cause excessive strain on your joints, leading to nagging injuries down the road.If you want fast results, it's critical that you incorporate exercises that allow your body to move naturally with full range of motion so you can skyrocket your metabolism and tone your entire physique. 

Mistake #3: Hours of cardio = weight-loss!

Cardiovascular exercise is an important part of any weight lose and burn fat burning routine but there's a right way and a wrong way to incorporate it into your workouts. If you've been pounding the pavement or the treadmill with nothing to show for it you already know it takes a lot of effort to get minimal results. Replacing long cardiovascular routines with higher intensity, shorter duration burst will yield far better results and faster. 

Mistake #4: Doing crunches and sit-ups to get 6-pack abs!

If you want washboard abs, doing traditional abdominal exercises like crunches and sit-ups will not get you a six pack. Remember that isolated exercises don't do much and that's exactly what a sit-up is, therefore doing them is a complete waste of time. The key to getting sculpted abs is to burn off that stubborn layer of belly fat that's hiding your abs and that means working hard on everything and eating right.

Mistake #5: Repeating the same workout routines over and over!

Repeating the same workouts over and over is a surefire way to stop getting results. We're creatures of habit and we tend to stick to things we're familiar with and good at. But when it comes to your workouts, if you want to keep making progress and keep seeing changes in your body, you've got to start switching things up. It's called muscle confusion. You see, your body has an amazingly ability to adapt quickly and when it does, that's when you hit the dreaded plateau and you stop making progress.