More news and views from Results FAST: Foam Rolling, Social Media and Fitness Industry Professionalism.

1.Someone asked me about why everyone foam rolls at our gym. In summary here are the benefits:

Pre- workout: evidence currently suggests that there is an improvement in joint flexibility as well as no negative effect to performance (in comparison to just stretching which can see decrements).

Short-term (in session) recovery: evidence suggests foam rolling reduces the deterioration in jump based movements performance.

Long term recovery: Foam rolling seems to reduce muscle soreness and the ability to train more frequently.

Health: Foam rolling may reduce arterial stiffness and may be of benefit to arterial health.

For a more in depth review with research and stuff head over here for an excellent review by the guys at Strength and conditioning Research.com

Also here is a link to some of the soft tissue drills we work with.

2. Motivation and mindset “training.” Simply, if pictures on social media motivate you then we can’t help you (that is unless the picture is you). Photo shopped images with quotes written over the top are not motivating- if anything (on consulting our members) they are building up an image that is only relevant to the top 2% of exercisers). We were told by our website guy that we should post up to three times a day on social media- many businesses do this by sharing this type of content, we don’t as we believe what we share on-line is representative of our business. That’s why we only share credible articles by companies and individuals in-line with the same focus and ethics as Results FAST.

 

3. Leading on from the above…. Professionalism and the fitness industry. If you are going to try and sell us something at the gym be it a product, piece of equipment, workshop or course then please, please, please just say “We want you to buy our product.” This week I have had three conversations with people who were promising me a unique opportunity (in one case the product will probably stay pretty unique but that’s another story). One company posted straight to our Facebook business page- you could have called or e-mailed but no they basically spammed us. In the past couple of months we have been visited by trainers/ managers from other gyms- we know because our members used to train at your centres and they recognize you. If you want to come in and see how we work just ask- don’t go through a convoluted game of cat and mouse pretending you are interested in training with us, we would respect you more if you admitted “We want to see how well you do things” (because you wouldn’t bother coming in if you didn’t think we where that good:). Professionals share anyway- steal/ replicate if you can but you can’t replicate experience and a good education. On the positive side of things big shout out to a supplement rep though- they contacted us and asked if we would like to sample their product and then sent us basically enough protein, sports drinks, smoothies to sink a battle ship (I love free stuff). We might not buy their product but I will still respect their companies professionalism and the fact that there was no hard sell straight out from them.

From the Gym Floor: Part 4… Batman, Wall Balls, Speed Strength and Ambient Temperature.

This could be classified as the “super hero” edition. Why? Read on.

1. We were featured in Men’s Health in an article “How to be Batman” the premise was how to disrupt your childhood to leave you with a deep seated personality order meaning your role in life is defined by trying to imprison bad people while dressed up as a flying squirrel. Well not quite- it’s more of an article of what would Batman do in the gym- click above and enjoy.

2. Wall/ Slam Balls are awesome and fun at the same time. At the moment we are incorporating a lot of med ball slams/ wall ball work. In our more advanced clients they are great way to work on hip drives roll in rotational sports. We cue the movement by encouraging a hip turn first. Often you find that people when they fatigue start only using their arms especially on rotation or side to side based work. From the point of view they are a great tool for conditioning and varying movement load and speed. Most importantly they are fun. Too often I see coaches get caught up in the pursuit of “heavy” without working on varying repetition speed. Which leads to my next point…

3. Strength has a component of speed and endurance, to get the best returns you have to train speed and endurance to see a return in maximal strength. That means that quick work as described above is vital when you are looking to get stronger. It also means that endurance work or slightly higher repetition work can be good as well (typically we perform this on single leg work). Performing training in the same rep ranges all the time is an ineffectual way of training. 3 x 10 works for 6 weeks for beginners but to progress more variation is key.

4. Ambient temperature plays a roll in warm ups. We have come off the back of a pretty good summer and a warm Autumn but as the clocks change and the temperature drops it’s vital to take up the duration of your warm ups. When it’s warmer circulation is better and we find that our clients have less joint pain. If you suffer from poor circulation it can help to include a few more rounds of dynamic mobility- your joints may thank you for it. We have a few people who suffer from joint pain and adding additional work for the calves and wrists can help greatly in getting ready for your training sessions.

 

 

From the Gym Floor… Episode 2: calories, deloads, British Titles and a thank you.

In keeping with the running theme of training anecdotes from the gym floor at Results FAST here is part 2 of an ongoing series of what we see every week while training/ working with our clients nutrition at our gym.

1. Calorific deficit does not mean starvation and constant hunger, it also doesn’t mean just eating vegetables and boiled chicken. The take home point here is that most people are confused over what a portion size is in relation to total calories consumed. I read a post by a well meaning online personal trainer who indicated that getting people to make the right choices is more important than amount. Well, guess what organic food still has calories and whatever you say calories count when it comes to fat loss or fuelling performance. In turn balance your meals (if you want 2,3,4,5 or whatever number) from a calorific standpoint and you will be successful if your average calorific intake over a period of time is lower than you need. What you eat does matter but organic peanut butter, coconut oil and avocados have a high net yield of dietary fat and can be consumed in turn with good dietary variation and sensible portion control across your weekly diet. These are not bad foods but they are high calorific yield foods so you still need to be conscious of the amounts consumed.

In turn with other nutrition sillies this week apples will not get you addicted to diet coke… yes, I know it was a stupid comment- that is more than enough shaming for you, you know who you are!

2. Deload weeks are pretty useful e.g. a reduced week of training volume after a period of high intensity to back of from training. This month with a number of our strength training clients we have been running some new loading protocols which have been quite brutal. One of last weeks programmed sessions was Back Squat 8 sets x 3 repetitions and Speed Deadlift 10 x 3 with a finisher of Walking Lunges left most of the guys craving an upper body day. This weeks back off week was well received, in-line with that we have seen some great returns from a strength perspective and even in a deload week with reduced volume some of the guys are looking strong going in to next week and a change of programme direction. As a side point- you don’t earn a deload from two sessions a week and three sessions a week is not overtraining 😉images

3. One of our clients took her second adult British Tennis title last week. I play down a lot of our successes at Results FAST but this has come from a period of good training both from a strength and conditioning perspective as well as a technical viewpoint so it deserves to be celebrated. If you see Mollie in the gym I suggest a well done/ bro fist or a celebratory salute…. and then tell her to get back to work.

internet-bro-fist

4. Bizarrely this has been the busiest month on the blog. After taking a few months off writing I did actually wonder if anyone would bother reading these posts but the readership is up massively on this time last year. I hope you are enjoying the more informal/ applied side of writing about fitness/ training/ nutrition and performance and please feel free to let us know if there are any topics you would like us to cover!

 

 

Getting What You Want From Your Training and Nutrition Programme

It’s pretty obvious that most people who walk through the doors of a gym or who buy personal training are looking to improve themselves in some way. Now that could be their health, fitness, physique or mentally but most people enter with a goal in mind. Now what are the factors that lead to successful goal achievement?

It’s quite simple do your programme and eat the food that will help you achieve your goals.

Now this is where the confusion comes in because….

(a) Most people do not train, they exercise. They partake in random fitness classes, go for an occasional run and are generally non-directional about their goals. In today’s sedentary society it is by all means a good thing to be more active. The next step on though rather than to achieve a good result is to try to achieve a great result by making your training relevant to what you want to achieve.

Generally, people chase fatigue when they exercise… like being hot and sweaty and out of breath means it’s working… sometimes yes, but not all the time. Broadly speaking pick a few parameters to measure yourself. If body composition or weight is your goal then measure weight and % body fat. Power- a full body explosive movement e.g. cleans or a standing long jump. Strength- traditional moves like the squat, deadlift or pull ups, beginners may consider getting to 10 press ups or monitoring how long it takes to get to chest press 15kg in each arm. Endurance- 400m, 5km or whatever distance you are in to by whatever training modiality. Once you have a goal then you can frame your training. Is what you are doing leading you to improve…. or are you just making yourself tired?

(b) If your diet has a name it’s not working. Not because you labelled it but ultimately you will not stick to this plan. Now we have a quite a few Paleo dieters come through our doors at Results FAST, indeed a diet that emphasises quality protein and vegetables isn’t the worst thing on my list. However most people are not sticking to “the plan” when you see paleo granola as someone’s breakfast cereal it makes you wonder how middle class cavemen existed without supermarket- they would have been hunting and gathering all day to make that. Importantly if you are removing a range of foods from your diet because a book said so it doesn’t mean that all those “bad” foods are not good for you. Primarily dairy, wheat and grain are removed- in about 1/100 cases it can make sense. For most people it is totally unnecessary and you are cutting down your options to make good choices when your “ideal” is not available.

If you are on a diet or considering one- recognise this fact. In the absence of disease it’s simply a case of over supply and under activity. Some may describe this as calories in/ calories out- in most cases this is the point.

I prefer to describe it in a slightly different way…..

“What you eat will determine your body composition. How much you eat will determine your weight.”

Why do most people not hit their goals? What we find at our gym (before they train at Results FAST obviously :)) is that exercise is non directional or designed to give instant gratification e.g. fatigue and that a diet is unrelated to what someone needs.

A great example of someone who came in to see us the other day who performs a high intensity aerobic programme called “Insanity” (yes, the same one they sell on late night info-mercials) who was looking to lose weight. Nutrition wise she was on 900 calories a day- she had cut all carbs, her exercise sessions where gruelling and guess what… she lost weight for the first few weeks but she had started to plateau out. She was tired, sore, had the start of shoulder tendinitis/ simply her shoulders hurt….. but hey, she was 4 kg (8pounds) lighter after 6 weeks. So the question is what was her goal and what happened? Well she lost weight (tick) but couldn’t train because of shoulder pain (cross), couldn’t eat anything (bigger cross) and life was pretty tough as work became more demanding (low carb diets can be brutal and simply doe not suite everyone).

Let’s go back and look at her goal- lose weight. On talking to her she said “I don’t care what I weigh as long as I look good.” On talking to new clients I hear this 9 times out of 10.

So initially we are looking for a exercise/ nutrition programme that enhances her body composition by building lean muscle (resistance training being mindful of her injuries) and reducing body fat (a combination of different exercise modalities n.b. not just high intensity work).

Let’s consider the nutrition programme. Well we want to preserve lean muscle that dieting often reduces so we want to create a small calorific defect. We want to eat enough carbohydrates, proteins and fats to support the body. In this case we increase protein intake, match carbohydrates to activity and try to keep fat intake consistent. The rest is down to likes and dislikes from a food perspective.

So that is the programme set for the client, it’s a step wise process. Set some goals, set up your exercise programme, apply a nutrition programme that is relevant for your goals and the way you live your life and you should be on the way to hitting your targets.

The next part is probably the most relevant and where I will finish the article.

You could have the best programme in the world but each session you miss will take away from your overall results, every poor food choice will limit your returns. So be realistic- you may not be able to push hard all the time but consider that to get a great result a period of dedication will always be needed.

 

Things I Learnt From 2013….

Every year I tend to way in with my opinion of a few things that we either do at Results FAST, have borrowed of other people and use at Results FAST or changes in approach to the way we work as professionals at the gym. These often can be translated in to many things whether it’s fitness industry related, business issues, down to nutrition and exercise tweaks we have put in place. So here goes this years run down:

1. Attitude is everything…. This crosses over to what goals you want to achieve, what new challenges you want to take on or in some cases just holding it together to make an omelette for breakfast everyday because eating a high protein breakfast is congruent to your goals. Life is tough sometimes but that doesn’t mean you let your health and fitness slide. Do you keep on getting ill? Are you looking to improve your health because of this? Are you overweight and want to lose weight? What are you doing to improve this situation is the question you should be asking. Your attitude then will define your actions. As a conversation point I now have morning omelettes down to 3 minutes 15 seconds….. so if someone says they have no time then there is your answer…. Can you spare 3 minutes 15 seconds!

2. Top post this year was on Glute Bridging– people simply must enjoy glute bridging! Bret Contreas would be happy!

3. People still love reading about trainers– this post is over a year old but still gets plenty of hits. The content for me still stands up for what is available in the current market and for the way we train clients at Results FAST.

4. Running your own business is the most fulfilling career move you can make if you dislike your current job. The fitness industry in no way rewards mediocrity- you have to be hard working to be successful. In all of the companies I have worked for there are some good guys who are going somewhere and there are people who watch the clock and punch in and out. There are good bosses and bad bosses. There are people who want to tell you what to do and people who want to help you (it’s not the same). When you are the head honcho I found it a weirdly cathartic experience. My expectations now have become my own limits. I wasn’t living up to someone else’s ideal or business practices which I no longer believed in. When you own your own business you have to have full engagement and a “buy in” with what you are doing and where you are going. It becomes your job to engage your clients and employees in that vision. That’s when your company grows… That’s also when you create what you can call a “brand” because it is more about what you do and how you act  and do it rather than what you say and what you tell other people to do.

5.  Language is important in your interpretation of peoples goals. Understanding that what people say occasionally has a hidden meaning and their use of phrases indicates where they see themselves in the world. My wife is a counselor with a major in psychology so I have only considered this when she became fully qualified and started analyzing my psychological make up (not quite Silence of the Lambs level but close). Getting a grip on understanding that if someone defines their place in the world by describing them self in a certain way does not highlight what is reality…. but it in turn is there reality. It means that your responses should not be about just what people say but understanding the sub text of their statements. For example, if someone describes themselves as a certain type of person e.g. happy, sad etc. then they are categorizing them self. It may not be true, we see it with body dismorhphia when guys see them self as small when they are large and women see them self as fat when they are a normal size. Understanding how people display this is important, as is your ability to discuss this with your clients. When someone redefines how they see themselves in the world it can make a major difference to their confidence, attitudes towards training and health as well as their whole personality and how they deal with change (which is what all fitness coaches deal with).

6. Yoga press ups are a great teaching exercise for progression to full press ups. I didn’t have time to shoot a video so the above is from Eric Cressey. We have used a lot of yoga press ups this year for two reasons. Firstly it creates controlled upward rotation of the scapular if performed properly which is great in exercising populations who’s shoulder blades may get fixed back and down. Secondly, a press up is a big torso exercise. If performed badly you will see dropped hips and a hyper extended back. Simply the yoga press up takes the tension out of the exercise at the hips high portion meaning that the elbows can be tucked on the decent portion of the movement and better overall form can be maintained.

7. Diets are for children and people looking for a cult to follow. Grow up and start thinking about nutrition like an adult. The reason that the human race colonized the planet was not that we had to only eat carrots on a Tuesday or that caveman represented our evolutionary peak for health. It’s because as humans we can survive under a broad range of nutritional intakes. Be it Eskimo, Sioux, Mayan, Viking, Hippie, Mod, Rockers etc. they all had variable diets and guess what pretty much all survived to pass their genetic line on to today. Some were better than others at this but it really had little to do with eating in the Zone. What do you need to survive. A bit of protein, some fat and ideally to keep you moving a bit of carb. Over do it on any of these and you find bad health. Eat healthily- you don’t need to remove food groups to do this. Detoxing and juice diets are sold to you- it’s not sustainable it’s not “healthy”. Eat fruit and vegetables and some lean protein at every meal, eat healthy options of fat, avoid overly processed food types. Is it that hard? My main point is not a discussion on the best diet but dealing with people as individuals is key to them understanding what healthy is. Ditch the diet attitude and aim for long term health.

8. Use bands to get your pull up numbers up. Everyone at Results FAST has had a crack at pull ups. We have had few niggly shoulders which need to avoid them but on the whole as long as the exercise is scaled back properly to the individual then most people can attempt them. we use a lot of band supported variations. When we started putting these exercises in during a strength phase of training for a lot of our new members the one reaction  they where not reacting was sore abs- most expected sore arms and shoulders but not the ab workout of a lifetime. Pull ups still stand up for us as a defining guide to upper body strength as well as a great developer for torso strength and can be utilized for both young and old.

9. Using a prowler is an awesome way of building lower body strength in individuals without them knowing. Simply said push a heavy object along the floor is the equivalent of performing barbell overhead walking lunges with a little more stability. The prowler is a great way to get people under load while making them think they are not weight training.  It’s also weird how many people enjoy this vomit inducing torture element!

grgrowler

So there you have it a round up of some of the more technical bits around how we work at Results FAST. This is my last post of the year as we head towards Christmas so I would like to thank all the supporters and regular readers of the information that we put out and look out for some exciting news of some of our new projects in the New Year. Have a good one!

Fixing the Flaws: Part 1

It doesn’t really matter if you are an elite level athlete or a beginner. There are always going to be areas in your fitness that you need to work on. You are not Mr or Mrs Perfect….. Sorry….

Be it whole body strength, the transfer of your physicality in the weight room to your sport or small fiddly, subtle drills that you need to work on while the guy next to you totally dominates the exercise with 5 times as much weight.

It’s hard to break it to people that their 200kg deadlift, extreme yoga position or their 3 hour marathon is actually the limiting factor on why their back hurts or their knees are giving in.

Don’t get me wrong- strengths are there to be trained, great performance is impressive. No one is great without “strengths”.

Getting large numbers or quick times are a product of training. They are there to be celebrated as achievements. In turn though they can also lead to becoming your limiting factor when it comes to enhancing your health and overall fitness.

If you want to become a champion deadlifter or marathon runner then you may need to lift heavy things and run long distances. However, managing your recovery is also key. Looking after your mobility, muscular and joint health are tantamount to keeping you performing at high level, at times this needs to be prioritized.

But what about other “specialists” such as the desk jockey. The guys who specialize at being seated for unusually large amounts of time. You see their body adapts chronic overuse patterns reflective of their overall lifestyle be it running, sitting or cycling. In essence the changes in muscular balance mean less joint stability and or muscular tightness.

Weight room weights are vanity. “How much do you bench?” should be reserved to people who bench regularly. In fact the only guy who asks how much you bench is the guy who bench presses every session.  My answer is how much do you deadlift/ single leg squat/ run 1km in. At the end of the day he rates himself as a “specialist” bench presser and with that he will see all the chronic overuse issues that people without a well rounded programme of development will see.

In strength and conditioning for sport a lot of the time we perform training to counter balance the excessive strains and demands of overuse, just as we do for everyday people looking to keep their posture tip top. We do this as well with the detrained- we want to put enough strength and stability in the right areas to allow good balanced movement. We want to put enough mobility and flexibility in the areas that need to be moved.

The take home point is this.

Strength is overemphasised as a facet of fitness as we always lean towards our strengths. We perform more of what we are good at or have to do. What matters more in overall development of “fitness” and long term performance are the balance of strength and mobility.

“Specialists” occur as a product of their own training/ physical build. Balance in their programme is key to optimum performance over a period of time. Ask yourself the question what are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Do your weaknesses hold you up from achieving your ultimate fitness goals? Do they limit your strengths? Does your back hurt when you deadlift too heavy? Does running hurt your knees? Are your shoulders sore after press ups? In the next post we will look at some specific examples….

Energy Drinks… What The Science Says…

Energy drinks are a relatively new phenomena in modern diets. While standard carbohydrate based “sport” drinks have been available for a long time “energy” drinks are perhaps another example of “functional” foods which promise to achieve the purpose of giving you more energy.

green-energy

Energy drinks in general are misleading. They don’t give you energy, well unless they contain a large amount of sugar. What is often reported on their advertising is a host of herbs, vitamins and other creations that will unlock your physical ability and give you more physical capacity or indeed simply stimulants. Now this is one of those things which I consider mis-selling to the consumer. In fact it is quite similar to the reasoning behind why yoghurt priobiotics cannot be advertised as good for gut health. Quite simply if evidence is not definite should a product be able to be sold with ridiculous claims?

 

An analysis of energy drinks was carried out by Nutrition Reviews, Often these products contain caffeine, taurine, guaraná, ginseng, glucuronolactone, B-vitamins, and other compounds. Some of these are “involved” in the energy creation/ breakdown process but by their involvement it does not necessarily mean that they stimulate energy production. Indeed with the exception of some weak evidence for glucose and guaraná extract, there is an overwhelming lack of evidence to substantiate these claims.

 

Caffeine is the only component of these products which contributes to the improvement of physical and mental performance. While this area needs to be investigated further it highlights that these wide claims are related to one active compound. Often these products are targeted at younger markets as well as time busy people. Commonly the variety of caffeine and other compounds are combined with vaste amounts of sugar. Simply said in active individuals who feel like they need a boost pre- training or in just general you need to ask these questions.

1. Do you need the extra sugar- if your diet is healthy enough you won’t, if it isn’t healthy enough a sugary drink will only make things worse. 2 hours later you will be more tired once the energy stimulating caffeine has run out and your blood sugar drops in response to a it being too high.

2. If you are using this as a stimulant to give you a push then why do you need this lift? For time busy stressed out individuals caffeine is not the answer, it is a short term boost. If chronically overused it can lead to adrenal stress which can lead to a host of illnesses, poor metabolic function and generally poor recovery from exercise.

3. Caffeine is safe as a pre-workout supplement, it has been tested, but in turn it can be abused. If you need it pre-race/ training/ everyday to perform then go back to question 2.

What are my recommendations?  Knowing where you caffeine comes from is important. Coffee is as simple as it comes. It is simply not necessary to purchase an energy drink loaded with sugar and other random stimulants with the hope that it will pick you up. Again used in moderation on occasions but never as the part of an “energy drink.”

Below is a graphic on how caffeine works- it doesn’t just make energy;)

 

caffeine-box1

 

Good Programming Vs Bad Programming

Justifying the way we write our gym programmes at Results FAST is important to me and our personal training clients. The fact is how you do something when you are training matters. Someone once said to me and I agree…

“It is very easy to make someone tired… Any monkey can do it!”

images

With the rise of high intensity training and it’s many varied methods it has muddied the water between what is good exercise and what is poor exercise. Now specifically I am looking at resistance training modalities but this could also be applied to most forms of cardiovascular exercise as well. One phrase we often use is…

“Best possible result…. Lease possible effort.”

That does not mean no effort, that means you do enough in your training programme to install the training effect you are looking for, or indeed train to get better, not just tired.

So what are the factors that affect this?

Exercise order is perhaps the most important as often what you do first will dictate the pace and your recovery later on in your training session. It will effect your recovery if intense and in some cases lower your intensity if some of your exercises have a cross over in movements or muscle groups used. While it may be possible to train strength, hypertrophy and muscular endurance in the same session there is going to be a negative effect to development if the session has too many goals which lead me to my second point.

Write programmes, not workouts. Programmes need to be programmed in to a hierarchy of needs. If your goal is fat loss then your programme should be different to a strength programme. A lot of  programmes now tend to blur the boundaries. Every form of training sits on a broad spectrum of facets of fitness to train including strength, mobility and cardiovascular efficiency. What is important is your gains over time- not just a non-directional workout of the day.

Train to improve. Progression is not always a linear pathway when looking at achieving your goals just as hammering yourself in a session is not always the driver for it being a better “fat loss” session. Cycling your training means that you push at the right time so that means that you cycle in your conditioning work with your strength work so that your primary goal is not hampered.

Reassess….. constantly. One thing that I have become a lot better as a coach is to review our approaches and practices. It means we can deliver better sessions to our clients knowing that every time each session has a specific goal. Assessing your progression is only possible if you have a start point. Now that may be to lift a certain weight or perform a certain exercise but by setting that goal and progressing exercises (and if necessary regressing exercises) we have a way not only to manage motivation but also from a goal achievement perspective a way of knowing how we are progressing.

Inefficiency is only good in fat loss and hypertrophy programmes, not in strength and power programmes. If your goal is to get stronger than your programme has to cater for that. In that sense there should be no unnecessary repetitions or extra training volume unless it has a carryover to developing strength levels. The emphasis is on intensity and therefore anything that hampers speed of movement may be counterintuitve to your overall result. In a fat loss programme this is tipped on it’s head. We want to create inefficency of how the energy systems are being challenged in order so they have to go into overdrive to maintain energy turnover. Certain people may have an affinity to work with certain energy systems for instance the difference between distance runners and sprinters. For fat loss creating as big a metabolic disturbance is the key and therefore rotating different training styles is vital for great results. What you find in strength and power training is excessive training volume leads to overuse injuries.