Tumble weeds. Crickets. Pins dropping. Deathly quiet.
Whatever you call it, SILENCE is rarely associated with positive, energetic things. For example, in my house if you can’t hear any of the four kids you need to find them asap because guaranteed they are getting into something they shouldn’t be. But I must admit I do enjoy the silence when they are asleep: we all love some peace and quiet to relax.
But relaxation isn’t what you are going for in a small group PT session – you need energy building, stimulating, upbeat, motivational noise. And that’s just for the warm up. In my experience, the number one killer of small group PT sessions is when the trainer stands in one spot and doesn’t say anything, or makes their way around the group and prompts the participants quietly one by one.
But you are not in a library. Nor are you calmly taking a guided meditation. You are pushing your clients to their best effort, encouraging them to make their lungs heave, their muscles burn, and to step outside their own comfort zone to the only place where their desired results can be achieved. How can you possibly do that in SILENCE?
I often speak to PT’s about this. And they come back to me with lots of excuses as to why they can’t talk more during a session. Are you guilty of thinking any of these?
Let me tell you, the first two are crap. NEVER have I EVER had a group work hard enough without encouragement, or get their form right 100% of the time. Even if they are getting their form right it means they probably aren’t working hard enough, and if they are working hard their form fails. Either way they need your help.
If you think there isn’t enough time between starting a round and counting down, you are also mistaken. It takes literally one second to say ‘Come on, push!’ And two seconds to say ‘Mary, lift your knees!’ What about ‘Rotate from the hips first Stewart, before you pull through. That’s better’. All of four seconds? You definitely have time to cue your clients.
And while I’m on the topic, you shouldn’t be wasting your breath on counting the group down to stop, they only use it as a way to get out of the last one or two reps in each round. Skip the countdown and add some motivational cues instead: one more repetition never hurt anyone, and in my humble opinion it actually helps them achieve their goals faster. What a surprise.
As for those PT’s who feel a bit awkward about continually talking throughout a circuit? I find that having a bit of a script helps to get over the nerves, just like the first few times you do a sales presentation. So here’s a formula that you can use to pump up the volume on your small group PT sessions and get your clients super excited about what they can achieve.
In every 45 second round of a circuit, you need to make 7 cues. Yes, SEVEN cues. That’s one every 6-7 seconds. Try these ideas.
Once you have practiced them a bit, it will flow more naturally. But even if you feel like you are being totally over the top, enough is never enough – pump up the energy another notch! Your clients will appreciate it and will be back for more, I guarantee it.
For another 15 hot tips on HOW TO RUN KILLER SMALL GROUP PT SESSIONS AND MAKE MASSIVE PROFIT, join our webinar of the same name! Choose a session in the box below, enter your details and get ready to smash your business goals.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a battle rope in your tool kit then chances are you have the option of setting up a game of tug of war. Tug of War was actually an Olympic event in 1920 however dates back to 500BC as an ancient Olympics event.
For us of course it dates back to our childhood and this is virtually the entire reason behind bringing it back into our bootcamp sessions. The sessions that our clients love the most are the ones that draw out the ‘child’s play’ within us while still physically challenging us.
“So what options do we have?” Can I hear you say?
Well outside of standing there and everyone pulling on a rope of course here are 3 of my favourites:
It’s fair to say a large portion of what we do as fitness professionals revolves around the strength world, and for good reason too. An improvement in our client’s strength levels has a profoundly positive effect on our client’s physiological and psychological wellbeing. How we decide to obtain that strength with our clients however varies hugely from professional to professional and when we put aesthetics aside it’s very easy to see that not every training methodology is equal, in fact in this article I’m going to argue that some are even detrimental to your clients wellbeing.
If we look back on the recent history of strength training within the context of fitness centres it’s fair to say body building put strength training on the world stage and turned people’s perception of it on its head. The wider community’s perception went from “these guys are a freak show” to “wow that’s incredible sign me up!” and with this change of perception the fitness industry we work in was born. A large amount of thanks needs to go to the body building community for the opportunity we have today as exercise professionals.
What has transpired in western society (not limited to however) over the past 40 plus years though is a skyrocketing obesity rate, increase in sedentary lifestyle and then of course a host of medical issues that we all know too well which relate back to these two key issues in our society. This of course is no reflection of the fitness industry but more of a society that has become increasingly lazy, with less people willing to take responsibility of a nutritional system that is failing them in a society that’s becoming increasingly more high tech which is only promoting longer periods of inactivity.
As personal trainers I believe a key responsibility we have is to teach people how to fall back in love with movement. Somewhere between childhood and the stresses of adulthood many people fall out of love with movement or at least don’t see it as a high importance in their ever busy lifestyles. The problem is movement plays a critical role long term in dealing with so many psychological and physiological issues that currently ravages our society. Now in relation to human movement, the problem the fitness industry has begun to acknowledge since around the early 2000’s is that the traditional isolation training models that the fitness industry was built on by the body building movement doesn’t have ‘improvements in human movement’ as a central focus. It is as we know focused on creating aesthetically beautiful bodies.
Hence the birth of ‘functional training’ as we know it today, Kettlebell Swings, Squat Presses, Box Jumps, Power Cleans, Suspension Trainer exercises, Gymnastics Rings, Bosu Balls, Swiss Balls the list goes on.
Now these training methodologies are nothing new in fact some have been around for hundreds of years, the new found importance of combating the sedentary lifestyle has brought these training styles into vogue if you like. These types of movements have a proven track record as effective tools for improving human movement.
Now don’t get me wrong I love the concept of functional training and I buy into it whole-heartedly, for the reasons stated above, not to mention they are just plain fun! There’s a missing link however, a skills gap if you like, that hurts the reputation of us as exercise professionals like no other.
This is the fact that many fitness professionals don’t assess or prepare our clients well enough before prescribing these types of movements which can only be considered advanced and complex.
Let me deep dive into this a little to explain, a large portion of the typical ‘functional training’ exercises we see and use in a gym in this day in age requires high degrees of co-ordination, kinaesthetic awareness and most importantly joint stability because of the higher level of instability found with many of the movements. All of which a fair portion of our clients don’t have due to the fact they are de-conditioned, have poor body awareness and in some cases haven’t moved in decades. Fitness professionals have all the good intentions in the world for their clients and apply ‘functional training’ to get them moving how the body was designed while forgetting one very critical rule in the strength world which is:
‘Strength levels should never be increased around a joint when stability isn’t first present’
This rule as a strength training concept I call Strength through Stability. The problem with performing complex exercises when stability isn’t present is that the body then sets up compensations to deal with the instability. An Upper Trapezius will dominate a movement when our Rhomboids and Lower Trapezius is weak, creating shoulder dysfunction. Our Quadriceps and hip flexors like to dominate a movement when our Transverse Abdominis, Hamstrings and Gluteals are weak creating lumbo-pelvic dysfunction.
When these compensations are not corrected it creates poor neuromuscular patterning, which is the long term problem with not abiding by this rule as a fitness professional.
Think of a golfer that has played a hundred rounds of golf before finally going to see a golf pro to correct their swing. It’s extremely hard for the pro to make large and effective changes to their swing because the neuromuscular pattern has been engrained by 100’s of poor swings. Weightlifting is no different. So when we prescribe an exercise that the client performs incorrectly because there’s no stability around the joint, it becomes very difficult to correct the muscle imbalance present because the primary movers have become so strong and hungry to work that the stabilisers have no chance in activating and doing their fair share of the work.
Over time this means excessive wear and tear on joints as bony structures don’t track correctly and ultimately leads to a more rapid degeneration of the muscular-skeletal system. All this just because we either weren’t prepared or educated enough on how to correct the poor neuromuscular patterning present in our clients .
We effectively then are doing our clients a disservice and I’ll go as far as saying this whole topic is the major reason why fitness professionals have such a poor reputation generally speaking within the allied health profession. This is because it’s the physiotherapist, osteopath or other allied health professional that picks up the pieces when the client starts complaining of knee or shoulder pain for example.
What do I do then?
Understanding ‘Strength through stability’ is just a case of understanding 'cause and effect', a very simplistic example is knowing that when the knees bow in medially during a squat that chances are the clients Gluteals are weak while their hip flexors are overactive for example. Now I appreciate this deeper level of understanding doesn’t happen overnight and certainly doesn’t come with a Cert IV in Fitness, however you don’t need a degree in anatomy & physiology either, some sound dedication to learning the basics around which muscles are associated with dysfunctional movement is all that is required along with the corresponding activation and release exercises that go with the issue.
Having this level of detail in your personal training service is the difference between being labelled a ‘thrash & bash’ fitness professional verses one that is fully conscious of the causes and effects that exercise results on the human body which sets you apart from 95% of the pack and skyrockets your clients results.
So remember never underestimate the importance of having a sound technique while perform an exercise. If it doesn’t look right then chances are it’s not, if you’re unsure of what’s going on then consult a senior fitness professional, research information and up skill so the next time you come across the dysfunction you know how to take your clients experience from an average one to an amazing one and ensure that like us, they too fall in love with movement.
If you appreciated this article this my book is a must! I talk in depth about this subject and give you some handy tools. Click the red button.
The five P’s of Highly Successful Personal Trainers
In 2014 over 14,000 people earned a Certificate IV in Fitness in Australia! This number is set to only increase in the coming years. The dropout rate for personal trainers is huge, and although I don’t know exact figures, my last 16 years in the industry will tell you it’s high!
As the years have rolled by I have started to take more notice of the defining characteristics of what makes a good personal trainer. There are similar skills and traits that many of them have which differentiates a personal trainer who... doesn’t know what they want to do with their life so they think they might just give PT a go, to a highly successful PT.
Passion is the obvious one, like anything in life if you just really aren’t that ‘into it’ then it will shine right through.
An adaptable personality it the next, we work in a space were we work closely with a wide variety of personality types. If you can’t mould your style of communication, energy level and body language to suit theirs then you’re always going to struggle to form connections, this of course is critical in forming any relationship.
Lastly of course is a PT’s skill set. From business skills, right through to being able to cater for a wide range of clientele, I’ve seen it time and time again where many PT’s have had all the personality and passion in the world but just lacked the critical skills to offer a great service. As a result their retention rates have been poor and when you couple that with their inability to generate leads consistently and then convert them has got the better of them as they throw personal training into the too hard basket.
Between seeing these short comings in PT’s and knowing exactly what the RTO’s DON’T cover in a cert 4 that has motivated me hugely to publish my book and program. A resource that I KNOW will make a massive difference to their reality, give them the direction, knowledge and ultimately the confidence they have been desperately craving.
Both products are based around my 5 P’s of Highly Successful Personal Trainers which are:
This represents the successful business habits personal trainers make to ensure a steady flow of leads continues to come their way. How they address sales and the ‘personal’ aspect of Personal Training which keeps clients loyal for as long as you’re around.
I’ve always abided by the motto ‘if you don’t know what’s happening with your client’s movement how are you supposed to program effectively’. This book presents the critical tests which should be learnt so you can glean the most out of your pre-screening process. A good Pre-screening process creates clarity around what needs to be addressed to your clients programs so you can lay a strong foundation and give your client every chance of success.
Prehabilitation represents the ambulance on top of the cliff preventing an accident from occurring. 90% of clients come from a sedentary lifestyle. This lifestyle creates untold neuromuscular imbalances and dysfunctions amongst many other health issues. This book introduces you to the key areas a PT needs to look out for so you can make effect change and prevent the client from becoming a ticking time bomb and skyrocket their performance.
Performance is the area which PT’s generally live for. It represents the nuts and bolts and hardcore training, whether that is for size, strength, speed, endurance or other. Lifting the Bar introduces the training methodologies that are poorly lacking in the strength world amongst Personal Trainers. It teaches you how to bridge the gap between traditional lifts and functional training so you don’t have to live at the polar end of these training systems and watch your training sessions become stale and lack impact. Instead you get a large range of training concepts that will drive your client’s performance through the roof and ensure your client retention rate is of the highest order.
Programming is the glue that binds all the training pieces together. Without it we just a bunch of exercises that are slapped together to look like a workout. This book will give you an easy to use Periodisation system that is purpose built for Personal Trainers. Giving you an effective tool to program professionally for every client no matter what level and in the process boost your client’s results.
Whether you’re still finding your feet as a PT or looking to push on with your career my book and program has what you need. It will provide you with the direction you have been looking for so you can cement your career as a personal trainer and become a highly successful one.
If you enjoyed this read then my book is a must, I go over my 5 P's in a heap of detail so you have a clear direction of where you need to go.
Whether you want giant hamstrings or not, they most definitely should be on your wish list! Generally speaking, the hamstrings are the ‘ugly duckling’ to the more eye and ego-pleasing quadriceps. Yet from a performance perspective they offer so much, and also play a critical role in staying injury free. So much so in fact, that it’s worth highlighting that the hamstrings, along with the gluteals, play a vital role in knee stability and prevention of knee injuries, in particular ACL injuries which are about as common as a protein shake in a gym.
Having strong quadriceps without strong hamstrings is like strapping a V8 engine onto a bicycle. The bike (or in this case your hamstrings) have no chance in dealing with the power that your V8 quadriceps can create and it can be a recipe for disaster as the hamstrings just can’t deal with the torque that the quadriceps create, resulting in a torn hamstring or blown knee.
THE BEST HAMSTRING EXTERCISES
So now that we have clarified the importance of the hamstrings, which exercises are the most effective at building strength and size? We need to remember that the hamstrings are responsible for both knee flexion and hip extension, so a combination of these movements that simultaneously stretch the muscle while putting it under load at both its origin and insertion will put the most strain through the muscles.
There is one key characteristic that you will find is generally consistent across most great hamstring exercises: when the hips are forced to extend while the knee is also extended, this creates unparalleled lengthening of the hamstring muscle and also loads both ends of the muscle during the contraction phase of the exercise.
A study conducted by The University of Memphis took a group of untrained individuals and had them perform four well-known leg-focused exercises while measuring muscle activity. The exercises were the leg curl, Good Morning, Glute-hamstring raise and Romanian deadlift.
Although all four exercises successfully activated the measurable muscle groups, there were two exercises that stood out above the rest with an emphasis on hamstring activation. Those two exercises were the glute-hamstring raise (GHR) and the Romanian deadlift (RDL).
Both the RDL and GHR create positions where the hamstrings are placed on a huge stretch with a large amount of load. During a RDL, we hinge at the hips while the knees are virtually extended (maintaining soft knees). The focus of the movement around the hips with the knee position fixed is extremely effective at lengthening the hamstring, with the load managed at both ends due to the requirement of stability at the knee insertion and strength at the pelvic insertion.
The GHR is almost the opposite to the RDL, where the hips are fixed in an extended (stabilising) position while the knees flex and extend (strengthening) to lift your bodyweight against gravity. The midpoint that is created by a GHR is extremely intense and slightly unsettling at first as the position of your whole body prone and under load is manufactured by the machine and is not a natural position the human body would find itself in. That being said, there’s a reason why virtually every Olympic Lifting facility has one of these machines: the movement is particularly effective at strengthening the posterior line and of course in particular the hamstrings and gluteals.
Comparing these two exercises with the lying hamstring curl can give us further perspective. The research paper ranked this commonly found exercise dead last as an effective hamstring recruiter. Where’s the justice in that? After all, it’s the only exercise out of the four that more or less completely isolates the hamstrings, right? Wrong. The ‘trusty’ lying leg curl unfortunately at no point extends or loads the hips during the movement. In fact, if you have a look at a lying hamstring curl machine next time you’re at the gym, you’ll see that the machine actually flexes the hips 15-20o to help place the hamstrings on stretch. But because there’s no hip extension, all work is done around the knee joint which is only half the job of the hamstrings.
Also, we might think that the Good Morning is a very similar movement to the Romanian deadlift, so why wasn’t it as effective? Sure, it is probably better than an isolated hamstring curl, but there is something to be said for the position of the weight that is being moved. In this case, with the bar being on the shoulders the weight is a long way from the fulcrum (hips), so there is more load placed through all the joints between the hips and the weight in providing stabilisation. Therefore the spine and particularly the lower back will contribute significantly during a Good Morning and take the focus off the hamstrings, effectively reducing muscle fibre recruitment.
There are dozens of exercises that can target the hamstring muscles as a compound movement or in isolation. If you’ve been spending weeks, months, or years trying to bulk up your hamstrings without success, remember to focus on movements that actively extend both the hips and knee at some point during the movement. That way you can be sure your hamstrings are getting stressed the way they’re designed to be and you will be on a winner. If you’re not really one for mixing it up too much then be sure to keep to Romanian deadlifts and the glute-hamstring raise for best results.
• Begin by holding a pair of dumbbells or barbell
• Stand tall and keep a flat back
• Slightly bend the knees and drive your hips back
• Legs will remain stationary as you lower the weight with straight arms
• Again, keep the back flat throughout
• Pause once your body has come to a parallel position with the floor
• Return to the starting position
• Secure your feet into the pads of the Glute-Ham Raise machine
• Begin by crossing the arms against the chest
• Straighten your body, resting your hips on the center pad
• Activate the gluteals, hamstrings and calves to pull your upper body straight up
• Simultaneously, drop your knees slightly against the pad
• Your back will be flat throughout the movement
• Once you reach the top, slowly lower yourself back to the starting position, focusing tension in the hamstrings and calves
Muscle activation during various hamstring exercises, McAllister MJ, Hammond KG, Schilling BK, Ferreria LC, Reed JP, Weiss LW, Exercise Neuromechanics Laboratory, The University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee.
We all love a good box jump, the mental challenge of attempting to jump on top of a box that is higher than what we consider is humanly possible is a fantastic exercise for us and our clients in itself let alone the physical benefits. It teaches our clients a lot about mental fortitude and self belief.
The box jump is obviously part of the plyometric family and used as a speed/ power development tool for the legs. We can obtain fantastic improvements through our stretch-reflex cycle primarily in our lower legs and Achilles which transfers to a more rapid force output and therefore making us more powerful.
I don’t mind this so much as for the most part our typical clients aren’t training to become Olympic athletes, however! What I do mind is the lax nature in which personal trainers prescribe box jumps to their clients, whom for the most part are not ready for the complexities of the movement. PT’s don’t really understand these complexities and hence why they throw the movement out there like it’s going out of fashion.
When we run we have on average 2-3x our body weight going through our ankles, knees and hips at the point of contact with the ground. The average person only has around 20cm of lift off the ground, so how much force is generated and travelling though our joints when we jump of a 60cm box? The anecdotal answer is...a shitload!
This wouldn’t be a huge issue if our clients were only performing 3x6 with a 3min break between sets (This would be a typical prescription for power development). Instead we prescribe 15-20 reps during a circuit when our stabilisers are fried from the other 3, 4 or 5 movements included in the circuit. This in turn already puts our clients in a vulnerable position even before they have started their box jumps!
Let’s look at the numbers game a little more closely. So if the client has been prescribed 20 box jumps as part of the circuit and they are going to complete 5 rounds of that circuit, some basic maths tells us that equals 100 jumps or 100 contacts which is how volume is measured with plyometrics. Now what if I told you that in a typical power development session performed by novice athletes sees them perform no more than 60-100 contacts in a typical session!
The two really big considerations here is the fact that one, they’re athletes! Comparatively they have had significantly more training to deal with the stresses compared to the barely trained average Joe that’s rocked up to their first small group PT session in the gym. The second consideration is that all the athletes jumps/reps for the most part are performed in short sharp bursts where they are relatively fresh, not fatigued such as in a typical circuit environment where we find most box jumps performed in a gym. It’s the combination of these two points that sends the injury risk sky-high for our client’s, their ankles, knees, hips and lower back all become vulnerable.
So in conclusion be sure to think twice about who you get to perform a box jump, the environment in which you prescribe them and monitor the volume or reps you prescribe. Our average clients don’t need 15-20 jumps per round in a circuit environment, keep that mark closer to 8-10 and have the focus on quality not quantity. No one likes to see 15-20 jumps where the knees are buckled and the back is flexed forward it makes the movement hard to watch and the joints themselves hate you for it!
Tell us what you think, do you use box jumps with your clients? Leave us a comment below!
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked this question by clients I’d be a millionaire.
Shallow squats, push-ups, presses and partial chin-ups all fall into the same argument of “Does it make a difference if I go full range or just partial”
What follows is a breakdown of why we should ALWAYS work through a full range of movement when we lift.
GREATER LEVEL OF GROWTH
How many times have you heard that squatting is the key to large legs? This is one of the main reasons why the squat is in the top 4 exercises to have in your repertoire. To go one step further, if you’re looking to really increase the size of your legs, then you need to start squatting deep. A study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology showed that subjects who squatted to a full 120 degrees of flexion showed significant increases in thigh muscle mass.
HUGE BOOST IN STRENGTH
You don’t have to be a powerlifter to enjoy the strength benefits that come with performing squats. If you are a power athlete, then listen up: squatting deeper is the key to leaps and bounds in gaining strength. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research had two groups: one doing shallow squats and one performing deep squats. At the end of the first half of the study, the deep squat group excelled in every measurable area with an emphasis on strength. What’s interesting is that for the second half of the study, both groups were not allowed to train for 4 weeks! The shallow squat group saw the fastest reduction in muscle and strength. The deep squat group maintained most their muscle and strength!
IMPROVES OTHER AREAS OF FITNESS
Imagine training legs on Monday and boosting your performance in other areas on Wednesday. Squatting deep has been shown to improve other areas of fitness, with an emphasis for those athletes looking for greater jumping power. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that subjects who squatted deep saw a significant improvement in their vertical jump and explosive power.
SAFE FOR KNEES AND ANKLES
A primary concern during the squat (and a tell-tale sign that something is wrong) is when you feel unnecessary strain in your knees and ankles. Yes, the squat is a multi-joint exercise but if you are ONLY feeling it in your knees then you need to change what you are doing. As demonstrated in this study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, squatting deeper will help to shift the load into the hips. This shift will alleviate excess pressure on the knees and ankles while strengthening the hip muscles.
The benefit of full range of movement and strength training is well documented. For a lot of us this makes the next step to obtain a full range of movement. This can be easier said than done at times so be sure to keep working hard with your stretching routines so you can gain the necessary flexibility. This way you can get the most out of your gym program each and every workout.
If you enjoyed this article be sure to check out my book. I have a heap more in it just like this!
Click the red button.
2015 saw some monumental changes for me mainly thanks to the arrival of our triplet girls in June to compliment our two and a half year old son.
What I wanted to share with you today was something I’ve never experienced in my training life that I now have a new found appreciation for in terms of what clients or other people might be going through when they come from a similar space as what I have.
Training while tired or stressed is something I thought I had come to terms with when I had my first boy. Sure I lacked that little extra zing or push at the end of a heavy set but hey I would still find myself in the training arena each day and happy to punish myself time and time again.
Fast forward two years, one new business, a business mentoring course, a written book and of course triplet girls and I found myself in a completely new head space! Sure the broken sleep hurts but again I was used to that with my boy, it hurts but you pick yourself up and get your ass moving.
What no one can ever prepare you for with multiples is the unrelenting pressure that comes with multiples especially triplets. Cleaning bottles, washing nappies, patting to sleep it doesn’t stop....ever! You get through the honeymoon period well enough (sleepy baby stage) but over time and the persistent nature of what it is you do just slowly weighs you down, and I like to use the words ‘weigh you down’ as it’s this exact feeling that I’ll talk about in a second. Anyway, couple all that with the new business and everything that goes with it and you have one completely different mind to work with.
I love everything there is about a training environment, from the sweat and bad body odder right through to the pain that goes with hard yakka nothing gets me up quicker in the morning (except the ear piercing sound of three screaming babies). It’s the sole reason why I do what I do. I got my first formal training program when I was 14 years of age, was coaching by the age of 18 and haven’t looked back since.
What this past year’s experiences in particular the triplets has done to my training however is unparalleled in my world, while at the same time both frustrating and intriguing all at the same time.
Where I used to bounce off the walls in excitement at the thought of putting a weighted bar on my back and pumping out 5x5 squats I now feel nothing but exhaustion. My wife would say my mind is now normalising, and although I’ll never agree with her at the same time I do now have a greater appreciation for individuals who don’t naturally ‘get-off’ on training like us fitness professionals do. I can see now how throwing weights around as a concept can be more exhausting than liberating.
The difference here is that instead of doing nothing we as ‘fitness freaks’ will find different outlets to get our fix. So of course this means I haven’t stopped training, that thought will never enter my mind as long as I’m breathing, I however rarely pick up a heavy dumbbell these days and although I’m sure that will change in time, for now I have just found different outlets. I find myself doing far more calisthenics (which at 105kg is plenty of weight) while at the same time sprinting which I’ve always enjoyed from my track and field days, has brought a whole new dimension to it. Like most people who do any form of running they will tell you they feel ‘free’ (albeit for a short while) while running, this is most definitely the case for me and I have a new found love for it again.
There’s no doubting how much children enrich your life, however at the same time they certainly do teach you to appreciate the little things you took for granted before they were here. Time to train is certainly one thing but having the energy to train like a beast is another thing again.
I read an interesting research paper the other day that addressed this very topic along with reviewing others like it. Coming from a world where maximal efforts and pain are my friends. I struggled with the notion that the answer to this question could be yes, so I was obviously interested to hear what they had to say. It was attention-grabbing at the very least and thought provoking. As I briefly mentioned above if you also come from a world of hurt and love it as much as I do then you will need to step out of it to gain a better perspective.
Ok so the researchers took 22 university students that considered themselves ‘recreationally active’. Using a health questionnaire they were then put into one of two groups, the low intensity group (LIE) or high intensity group (HIE) this basically distinguished if the subject performed any low or high intensity exercise within their week to week routine.
The subjects performed 3 exercise sessions the first was performed at a moderate intensity on a stationary bike and stepper, while the final two sessions they played Wii sport Boxing, Tennis, Step Aerobics and Cycling. The entire time they were hooked up to a Polar Heart rate monitor to measure cardiac output. Now it’s fair to say the HIE group didn’t get a great deal out of the Wii games from a cardiovascular perspective. However the LIE group had favourable results with both Wii Boxing and Wii Tennis, and although the stationary bike and stepper came on top, these two games weren’t far behind. Not bad considering the games were played on the easiest level!
However the plot thickens when we start talking enjoyment levels and adherence rates. Each subject was asked to fill out a questionnaire after each session rating their enjoyment, enthusiasm, satisfaction ect,ect. Predictably, the Wii games topped the chart streaks ahead of the formal exercise with Wii Tennis leading closely followed by Wii Boxing. Copious amounts of studies have shown that when enjoyment levels and satisfaction levels are high, subjects are 30-40% more likely to adhere to an activity. So this obviously begs the question, if we have a client who is a serial offender for not following their 30-40min of movement a day, would active gaming act as an appropriate back stop?
It pains me to say that it actually has merit. Don’t get me wrong it would have to be a last resort, however the key again comes back to adherence and in our world consistency is key. If the Wii means that individuals would actively move 4-6 times a week for 30-40min when they previously wouldn’t then as I said it has merit. At the very least a combination of formal training and Wii could act as a good way to break up the formalities of exercising while the client is still finding their feet in what is initially a daunting and fearful world known as regular exercising.
KEITH E. NAUGLE,1 KELLY M. NAUGLE,1 AND ERIK A. WIKSTROM 2, 2014, CARDIOVASCULAR AND AFFECTIVE OUTCOMES OF ACTIVE GAMING: USING THE NINTENDO WII AS
A CARDIOVASCULAR TRAINING TOOL1, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida; and 2University of North Carolina Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina
Training whether it be running, lifting, climbing or other is all about stressing your physiological system to gain as much adaptation as possible. In a very simplistic view, the more stress on your body the more your body is forced to adapt Take away the stresses and you diminish the effectiveness of your workout. Here are 3 sure ways to increase your results in the gym environment.
1) Excessive rest periods - Stop taking your phone onto the gym floor!
Now I understand that these days with smartphones and the hundreds of fitness apps we have access to there are times we need our phones on us while we workout to gain access to training programs, GPS and the likes of. However, there isn't a greater distraction during your workout than a mobile phone. When your Personal Trainer programs 60 secs recovery between sets they did so for a reason. A sneaky check of Facebook or text message to a friend rapidly extends your rest period and eats into the possible gains you could gain from the workout. So leave it in the locker!
2) Time under tension - Don't rush your movements
From a resistance training perspective, most people are after improvements in strength and/or hypertrophy. How fast you perform your squats or push-ups plays a critical role in getting the gains you want, this is commonly known as your time under tension. Most tearing of the muscles occur during the eccentric phase of a movement (Downward phase of a squat or push-up). Slowing this phase down brings many benefits but the two in particular are 1) increased tearing of muscle fibres and therefore better adaptation and 2) Safety, the faster you move the more force you generate and the therefore the greater chance of injury. Always try to keep a 3 second count on the eccentric phase of all your movements.
3) Pain is your friend not enemy - Mind beats matter every time!
It's well known that success is won or lost more times than not by mental will power. The person who folds first is generally always the loser.
Training is no different, and when it comes to gaining the most from your training sessions the longer you're prepared to push through the discomfort the better your results are going to be. So the next time you find yourself running up a steep hill in the final 5min of your run and that little voice kicks in and says..."just walk a little". Visualise your goal, picture yourself in that bikini or crossing the line in the next fun run in a PB time! You'll be amazed in the "kick" it gives you and of course this ultimately means better results.
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