Stand Up More- You Will Live Longer…. Fact!

The vast majority of adults in Britain – between two-thirds and five-sixths according to a new study spend more than two hours daily watching television. Scientists have tried to quantify this data to suggest how much of this is negative and what the possible harmful implications are to people’s health.

They estimated that if people limited their sitting time to three hours a day, their life expectancy would increase by two years on average the article published in the journal BMJ Open showed. Not only this- if television viewing was reduced to below 2 hours a day life expectancy rises by 1.4 years.

They found that half the peopled surveyed spend 50% of their day seated (hint: this is where you stand up to read the second half of this article). Interestingly 50% of the people surveyed also spent half of their “leisure” time seated. Overall the study showed that out of the population recorded that on average they spend 7.7 hours of their day sitting.

So what’s the point of this article? If you want to live longer don’t sit for more than 3 hours a day or watch more than 2 hours of TV a day on average. Ration your sitting time and try to move as much as possible. Who knows- it may save your life!

 

 

Fat Loss Optimization Introduction

From the number of clients who I have trained and advised it always bugged me that there currently is not one way of training or diet that is better than the other when considering fat loss. It is funny that I admit this now in the opening days of the New Year but consider the number of diet and exercise books, guides and DVD’s available for this topic.

What is displayedon thiks blog is what I believe current science supports as good advice and most importantly what has worked well for the people that I train. That is not to say this is a cutting edge approach or the newest sensation but this is a collection of science, practice and common sense applied in a useable format. The posts are to be read all the way through for a full understanding of the points.

Why you may ask? I feel as my primary role as a coach is to give you advice and guidance on your exercise and nutrition plan while helping you understand why you do something and the implications this will have upon your results. This topic is vast and I have added detail where necessary as fat metabolism and energy utilization is still a rapidly expanding area of research. If you are an experienced or motivated exerciser this provides a resource to design your own nutrition programmes. For all new readers and beginners to trying toi acheive the physique they want this will set out an approach to fat loss underpinned by the science.

An adage that someone said to me about giving training and nutrition advice which I feel will always hold true is that if you lose someone body fat, make them stronger or take their pain away they will train with you for life. As a trainer these are fundamentals to be adhered to as no one wants to always train fat, weak and injured clients (as it means your clients are not acheiving their goals) and in turn no trainee wants to be overweight, weak or suffering from injuries. This to a point explains my motivation for developing this text as a “go to” resource.

American trends commonly are repeated in the westernised world as you can see from talk of an “obesity epidemic.” In 2007 it was been estimated that Americans spent over $40 billion on diet and weight loss related supplements and products. The supplement industry generated $16.1billion in sales with over 20,000 different products consumed by up to 100 million people. There are now more obese people in the world than starving people. With an aging population and therefore a higher mortality rate the well documented effects of the slowing of metabolism with age highlights that strategies to promote healthy levels of body fat are important in obesity prevention. Twinned with a decrease in activity levels at school and with sedentary occupations elevating the chances of gaining weight it is clear that fat loss is a growing market.

Fat loss is an unregulated industry both in advice for exercise and nutrition filled with what could be considered bad science- just because a compound, food supplement or exercise intervention is involved in the metabolism of fat, supplementing with it massively or doing just one mode of exercise does not necessarily bring about long term sustainable results. This could be considered bad science as of thesed processes/ supplements are unproven- we may not understand the potential problems that may arise by their usage.

So why do we want to lose body fat? Usually it is for three reasons:

Aesthetics        

Simply to look good and show muscle definition. Society norms currently indicate that a low level of body fat is considered attractive in the westernised world so this is an evolutionary mechanism.

Performance     

Body fat is excess weight. More body fat equals a lower strength/ power to weight ratio which is undesirable for most sports persons unless weight plays an integral part of their sport- in this case it needs to be balanced.

Health              

The evidence is now overwhelming that obesity (defined as excessive storage of energy in the form of adipose tissue/ fat) has adverse effects on health. Obesity is associated with hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM), excess of certain cancers and a host of other medical problems. Thirty-four million adult Americans have a body mass index greater than 27.8 (men) or 27.3 (women) which is very close to a weight increase of 20 percent above desirable. When diabetes, hypertension, or a family history for these diseases is present, treatment will lead to benefits even when lesser degrees of obesity are present.

With a society gaining in body fat and the health implications related to this the fitness industry and its professionals are at the front line of this epidemic. By the time doctors pick up the problem often the damage has all ready been done and the health services are not equipped currently to deal with this issue. Doctors treat the problem but currently have their hands tied to deal with prevention- by the time someone gets to the doctors surgery the damage is already done. 

Science has been simplified in our consumer society by the media and other authorities in order to provide information to the masses. It can be a complex thing for a lot of people- it is not as simple as calories in and out.  

A health professional’s role in fat loss is to be outcome or result focussed for their clients goals. The achievements of the client should be behaviour and processed focussed- fat loss is as much a lifestyle goal as a training goal as this will promote long term adherence to dietary and exercise interventions which is at the core of the principles I believe in.

3 Proven Supplements for FAST Fat Loss Results…

Supplements are a contentious issue when it comes to fat loss. Many products suggest rapid results and a fat burning effect but what really works? A lot of the time science and research is used to back up a lot of the claims of supplements. However a lot of these studies are animal based. Unsuprisingly rats do not have the same internal workings as a human though it has not stopped sports supplements companies marketing their products on patchy science.

What follows are supplements that have been shown clinically to have a net increase in metabolism and thus potentially enhance fat burning potential.

1. Caffeine- Yes, caffeine stimulates fat breakdown. How? Well, it stimulates catecholamine production which in turn increases the breakdown of fat cells. This in turn increases the availability of circulating fatty acids. These will be reabsorbed by the body if not burnt- if active though you can mobilize them for energy. This is what happens initially when we become active, caffeine gives us a shunt in the right direction a bit like exercise. One word of caution though you can become tolerant to the effects of caffeine as the receptors that are stimulated to break down fat by the catecholamines become less receptive with over stimulation (yet another reason that activity does not always denote increased fat burning… but that is another post). None the less if not overused it is a useful pre training supplement to help enhance training intensity.

2. Fish Oils- specifically Omega 3. If you consider the range of benefits of enhanced Omega 3 intake then I feel that they pretty much could acheive world peace within 6 weeks. In regard to studies clinically proven the metabolic enhancing effect of fish oils then  a study by Eric Noreen at the 2003 American College of Sports Medicine Annual Conference indicated that in individuals who supplemented with different fat sources. The fish oil groups saw daily resting metabolic rate increases of 141 to 448 calories, whereas the safflower group’s decreased (Safflower is predominantly Omega 6- common in most vegetable based cooking fats). As an added bonus, the fish oil group also lost a little bit of fat mass while gaining some lean body mas- it appears that all fats are not made equal. In relation to fat loss this clearly means taking fish oils and sensible fat intake may be all the difference in your nutrition and training programme.

3. Protein Supplementation. Now I include this here as still most people consider protein powder as a “supplement” whereas in truth it is a processed dairy product. Increased protein intake upregulates your metabolism increasing protein turnover and therefore enhancing metabolic rate. Now rather than suggesting increasing your protein intake this can be done with shakes or normal food). I want to question the quality of a lot of protein powders. Commonly, they are processed- not a bad thing all the time. Often though they contain a large amount of unnatural sweetners which can have as much as an insulin stimulating effect as normal sugar, not what you necessarily signed up for if you didn’t need the excessive insulin stimulation which can drive fat gain. The quality of the protein is another major question. A recent study found heavy metal contamination in a number of off the shelf protein powders. Again not what you signed up for. Quality though is a contentious issue when you are using a whey based protein powder as it is a dairy product- with a large number of people experiencing issues with lactose it may not always be the best choice escpecially if the source of the product has not been ideal. Vegeterian protein powders can be useful- hemp, pea and rice protein all contain amino acids- blends of them may be best though to get your full protein profile. In turn though if you want to focus purely on quality there are gluten and additive free whey proteins which are organically sourced which may be the  best option if your main issue is quality of the protein source that you are consuming.

All in all these supplements stand up in the research- that is in human research not rats!

16 FAST Fat Loss Tips for Results…

Remember there are under 3 months to Christmas, the Turkey’s are getting fatter. Make sure you aren’t confused with a seasonal bird by putting some of these tips in to play to get the results you want…

Tip 1: Drink Herbal Tea

Herbal teas are calorifically low and can suffice to satisfy cravings for sweet foods. Try drinking herbal teas such as green tea blends.

Tip 2: Don’t Drink Alcohol

Alcohol contains empty calories which the body cannot use and will ultimately inhibit fat burning and enhance fat storage, want to lose fat- stop drinking alcohol.

Tip 3: Motivate Yourself

Try to find an incentive for getting in shape and burning fat. Write down your goal and put it in a location you see everyday such as on the refrigerator in the car or on your desk.

Tip 4: Don’t Starve Yourself

Starving only promotes a bigger “rebound” effect  in weight gain especially if you rebound back in to eating larger portions. If you eat small meals every few hours it keeps your metabolism elevated and stops your metabolism from slowing down. However, you organise your daily nutrition, be it three meals a day or six smaller meals, then be consistant with your eating so you can see if your approach is working. Fasting is a strategy being promoted for fast fat loss- while metabolic slow down does not occur for a couple of days this an advanced diet strategy and is usually not necessary to get great results.

Tip 5: Drink Water Before Meals

Not only will this aid digestion but if you have a glass of water 20 minutes before eating it can partially fill the stomach giving you a full feeling so you won’t binge or overeat. Better hydration also means that the body will run more efficently- in turn enhancing energy utilization and fat burning potential.

Tip 6: Be Consistent

Consistency in your diet and training leads to results over a period of time. The approach can be fast or slow but the trick is that over a given period of time consistency is the key to effectiveness of your approach.

Tip 7: Don’t Rely On The Scales

Scale weight is not always reflective of fat loss- it will also show water loss as well as muscle gain. Therefore, individuals may see varied results if they are undertaking a specific diet or are undertaking a new exercise programme. Low carb dieters will easily see 3-4kg in initial weight loss (about 8 pounds) this is not fat loss, this is water and it will be regained as you resume  normal eating patterns.

Tip 8:  Focus

What is your focus and is it realistic? Be real with your goals, write them down and ask the question- Are your actions helping you achieve what you want to? If they are not then rethink your programme and sharpen your focus.

Tip 9:  Weight Training

This will increase your metabolism and improve your fat burning potential at rest for the next 24-48 hours. Increasing your strength levels will mean that you can work harder and at a higher intensity to get greater results.

Tip 10:  Special Fat Loss Supplements

Most don’t work and are supported by poor science and slick marketing. A sensible diet and exercise programme will out do any results caused by a supplement. Supplements or the one’s that work I term as “results accelerators” they are only a small piece of the puzzle though.

Tip 11: Eat Fat to Lose Fat

Good fats or Omega 3 is known to reduce cholesterol, plays a part in fat burning and improve immune system functioning. Simply, if you are not taking an Omega 3 supplement then it could really help your health!

Tip 12: Just Because You Exercise It Doesn’t Mean You Can Eat What You Want.

You cannot out exercise a bad diet- period.

Tip 13:  Low Fat Health Foods Often Contain a Lot of Sugar

Many “health foods” are actually cleverly disguised junk foods that can often contain processed sugars and additives which can affect hormonal balance- always check the food labels to be sure.

Tip 14:  Abdominal Training Does Not Burn Body Fat

There are more effective weighs of losing belly fat and developing toned abdominals. Train your whole body and you will burn fat from the abs as well as developing the musculature in that area.

Tip 15: Build a Diet You Enjoy Otherwise You’re not going to stick with it

Don’t focus on one food, don’t deprive yourself of all treats. Remember it is all about self control limit your intake of treat foods especially if you consider them as “undesirable” when related to your goals.

Tip 16: Get 7-8 Hours of Sleep

Getting a full night’s sleep not only helps you be fit and active but it also improves the ability of your body to deal with carbohydrates, losing sleep can lead to cravings and binge eating.

A Wobbly Concept

Unstable surface training has become a popular concept in fitness training. Vibration platforms and bosu boards are becoming mainstays in commercial gyms as they try to entice their customers with varied forms of training based entertainment. Is it all a waste of your time though?

Initially, it is important to look at the background of where these methods of training have emerged. Unstable surface training has progressed in to the “training” environment due to the greater role that physiotherapy and rehabilitation has played in the industry over the last 10 years. To understand further it is important to look at training fundamentals as well as how these methods apply to injured and non-injured trainees.

The body as a whole is a series of joints working through the ankle, knee, hip, back and shoulder. Each of these needs an adequate supply of mobility and stability/ strength. If we have comprimised stability at one of these areas it can cause injury- not necessarily though where there is a lack of stability but at a different point in the body. For example, poor hip stability is associated with knee pain. If mobility is lacking in a certain joint again pain may be felt in another area of the body, for example a forward rounded shoulder posture indicates poor mobility in the upper back (thoracic region) and can cause issue with mobility at the shoulder joint.

The concept of unstable surface training indicates that more muscle mass will be recruited if unbalanced. Is this the case though? Two things recruit muscle mass, speed of movement and load. Unstable surface training comprimises both of these as you cannot either move as quickly as possible or indeed safetly load maximally. Muscular recruitment is task dependant and therefore only relevant to the movement being performed.

Unstable surface training for the lower body is more relevant to a rehabilitation based environment. Indeed it has no real carryover for those looking to enhance performance if uninjured (Cressey, E.M. et al. J Strength Cond Res. 2007 May;21(2):561-7). When we provide an unbalanced environment for example a lunge or step up on a vibration plate or a single leg squat on a bosu a number of things will happen. Firstly, the body will aim to maintain stability, the mechanism for this is that the body will start to tighten up. Is this a good thing? It is interesting that most vibration trainers start pointing at the torso area when discussing the benefits of this type of training when really the ankle will tighten up first and shut down mobility to maintain balance. As discussed before if mobility is shut down at a joint then it can casue undesirable movements from joints further up the body to maintain balance. Usually this will be at the knee which is an area of massive stability (it is a hinge joint after all so does not like excessive rotation- which unstable surface training can encourage). If you consider how force is applied to the human body from a day to day perspective, very rarely does the ground move beneath us. Indeed we have to be able to move across varied terrain (for example, cross country running). This though is not through a full range of motion at the ankle, hip or knee. Indeed the forces are reactionary in nature, short lived and through a limited range. Most forces will act on the human body above the floor either by collision or by changes in loading or centre of gravity- consider falling over and trying to stop it happening- you tighten up from the top down rather than the bottom up.

When is this training relevant though? Well looking to improve proprioception in the lower body is vital- escpecially on return from an ankle injury. Building eccentric strength and the ability to absorb force are fundamental qualities of a rehab programme intially before returning to more advanced forms of training. After this the focus moves towards the transferance of force and power generation ultimately in a multidirectional format. Methods of unstable balance training could be argued as a valid as entry point for rehabilitation. Once the ability to control load has been assessed to be suffcient to perform more advanced training under increased training loads then unstable surfaces lose their priority in the hierarchy of needs. The evidence for these methodologies though is stil not resounding even in rehab situation indeed some studies have even shown an increase in injury risk post unstable surface training intervention (Soderman, K. et al., Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 8(6):356-63. 2000).

For the upper body there is an improved arguement. Due to the nature of the shoulder joints need for stability and the relevance of how forces act on our extremeties being able to react to unstable loading can be beneficial. This is not saying that one legged/ one arm vibration plate shoulder press is the way to go. More that unstable loading for the shoulder joint can be a challenge which encourages force production and torso stability without comprimising the role of the shoulder joint and it’s range of motion. This would not be a priority exercise in a programme but performing press ups (weighted vest for load) with the hands on the unstable surface may be relevant for scapular and torso control as an assistance exercise or indeed dynamic core drill.

How does this apply to the average exerciser or indeed even the elite athlete? It’s pretty much the same. Most people need enhanced strength- this is not gained by balancing as it comprimises load and speed of movement. Strength and it’s varied componenets such as power and endurance are the fundamental capability we are looking to develop as well as the ability to move and perform exercise in a posturally correct way. Enhancing the quality of movement is key and this is done by balancing mobility and strength in tandem usually against resistance which includes your body weight.

So why the prevalance of unstable surface training in the fitness industry? These concepts are relevant for some people, the injured and the completely detrained. If someone is new to training then unstable surface training may help them improve- but doing anything will help them improve from a strength perspective, escpecially if it is delivered in a structured format. If they increase participation then from a “health” perspective it is probably better then doing nothing. This form of training provides “entertainment” away from other more traditional exercises- however as you can see it is a regression in training rather than a progression as although changes in exercise complexity may make you feel like you are working harder in truth you may be comprimising your progress.

How to Pick The Ultimate Trainer…

How do you decide what fitness trainer is for you? With the varied choice of personal trainers, boot camps and classes the difference in standard of practitioner can be pretty varied. Indeed these in my mind are the questions you need to be asking…

What Qualifications Do You Have? This seems to be one of those factors which is overlooked. A certification does not necessarily mean someone is qualified to write  exercise programmes. Personal trainer courses now demand no longer teaching time than it takes to become qualified to teach a circuit training class or aerobics. Why is this important? The advice that you get from your trainer needs to be scientifically backed and they need to explain why you are doing something. When it comes to your body exercise prescription is pretty much as important as medicine and in turn if prescribed incorrectly it can have implications for your health. When it comes to how qualified a trainer is there are a raft of varied qualifications from degree level to basic short course certifications. The top-level individuals I have worked with have continuously strived to improve their qualifications through their career- no matter what their starting qualification. A degree does not necessarily prove competence however, it does prove that an individual has invested in their education beyond a weekend certificate. Buying a new piece of equipment or starting a boot camp does not mean someone is well qualified indeed it is understanding how these things affect the individual you are training. A lot of the time a businesses marketing will cover short comings in qualifications- in the long term the good rise to the top while also rans stay on a level.

What Experience Do You Have? 10,000 hours is generally set as the bench mark for excellence for expert performance. This applies to 10,000 of correct effective practice. Ten years of experience does not quantify what that persons level of professionalism is, indeed without an ongoing process of continuous development and reinforcment of poor programming then this individual may be a weaker trainer than the average new coach. Find out specifically what an individual has acheived in their career. There is such a thing as a good generalist- if an individual can talk with direct reference about people that have achieved their goals then this will help you determine their level of expertise. Ask where they have worked and how those experiences have shaped their approaches- have they worked in associated fields such as nutrition, sport or medicine. The wider a trainers field of reference then the more realistic advice you are going to get when it comes to finding out what programme of exercise is right for you.

What is their “Fitness Product”? There are a range of classes and gym based/ equipment led things to take you to your fitness and health goals. Ask the question though is what this person selling the best thing for me? With a lot of current trends you could consider a lot of current fitness products as “activity” or general “exercise” such as your average aerobics class (Zumba included) or spinning session (useful as a calorie burner if you like biking). Boxing based fitness and circuit training can be useful but most of the time I find this is trainer led- these sessions are usually the most accessible for beginners though there main job is to smash the participant in to the ground and the programme is not necessarily personalised. Here exercise form suffers and to me it is not smart exercise. Bootcamps are a current trend gaining speed in the fitness market- their problem is they suffer a pile them high mentality which means that exercise form is not always policed properly. Once sessions run to above ten it becomes pretty hard to make sure everyone is doing the right thing.

Personal training and small group personal training in my mind are the stand out product. The reason being is that exercise can be prescribed in a sensible format in a measured fashion. As well as this it is possible for the client to be coached at a suitably high level, for more information check out what we do at Results Fast.

Price? Probably the most contentious issue in any type of business, what should you pay for training. Well trainers products and prices vary. Is one trainer worth 10K a week or £160 an hour? Does more expensive mean better? Sometimes yes, but looking from a realistic standpoint it depends on your needs. The question is how confident do you feel in the person to take you towards your fitness goals. Looking at their qualifications, experience and product does it limit you in anyway? Sometimes the trainers availability is an issue. I tend to think you need to buy in to a programme that is progressive and gives you the opportunity to acheive what you want.

Do you want to lose weight? Well do you get a full nutrition plan plus at least 3 sessions of training a week- if you don’t your results will be limited.

Do you want to get stronger? Are you lifting progressively heavier weight on a periodized programme for 3-4 sessions a week? If you don’t your programme will be limited.

Do you want to run a marathon? Has your running form been screened for your specific structural tightnesses and weaknesses, are you running 3-4 times a week? If you don’t your progress will be limited.

Are you trying to rehab an injury? Have you had a full structual screening with a person who has worked with your condition and has access to specialists that can be refered to if need be? If you don’t your progress will be limited.

Of course this paints a picture of an ideal traning programme- the truth is though you can get great results with the right programme being realistic though this depnds on how much time you a willing to make available. If 90% of gym members turned up at their training centre then they would have to close. The “box” gym’s service is as a venue for gym equipment rental, even though they pretend their product is training, it is collecting memberships which pay their bills.

Training led businesses are the future of the fitness industry and those trainers that are investing in improving their service and programming will excel. So when it comes to choosing what works for you consider what you want to acheive and how you want to do it. Going for a stroll on a stepper or cross trainer may be what you are doing now but ask the question- has this really helped me towards my fitness goals. The likely thing is that there are things you want to acheive but your time, money and organization limits what you can do. Find the product that can combine the flexibility you need for the right price with a realistic approach in mind for your fitness goals. If you are frustrated and feel you need to do more then decide if fitness is your priority. If it is find out how to acheive what you want and see if it can fit in to your life.

You are probably kidding yourself if you think one personal training session a week and a spinning class is good enough for any fitness goals. Indeed we believe at Results that anything below 3 hours of activity a week is not really taking you fitness forward. Bear that in mind when you approach your trainer/ fitness professional and ask them what you need to do to acheive your goals- whatever they are and whatever your fitness levels….

Experiments in Fat Loss: Part 1…

March is a month that I am hitting a fat loss nutrition programme. Every time I do this I like to add some new things in to the mix to draw me back from the dry taste of repetitive protein meals. Some new bits I am bringing in to my plan this month (or as Claire calls them little “fads”) are a few things that I have used on and off before though with each of these I am making them integral parts of my nutrition plan:

Green Protein Powder- the rationale for this lies in variation of protein sources. There is also a bit of an “industry” movement to alkaline/ vegetarian based nutrition so I thought I would get involved to see what the fuss is about. While I don’t necessarily think going completely green is necessary using a pea, rice and hemp protein blend can be quite useful in varying protein intake sources while not necessarily consuming large amounts of peas and beans which can provide quite a bit of gastric distress. This takes care of your whole amino acid profile which nutritionally is a plus. The negative is that the taste and texture are not exactly A*. Well, with a minty taste I feel pretty good after consuming it- the process of getting it from my mouth to my stomach though makes me wretch. That said I have this with breakfast to get the day of to a good (healthy probably is a better descriptive than good) start with some sort of egg (boiled, scrambled, poached) concoction usually with chilli and spinach. Anecdotally I find the green protein quite light from a digestion point of view.

Lemon Juice and Water- This appears to be on every “celebrity” based plan. However, there is some valid sanity in the madness. Lemon juice can help reduce the glycemic index of food- a lower glycemic index means less extreme spikes in blood sugar. This means that there is less potential chance of calories in theory being stored as fat. Again- lemon juice is not the complete answer; however, I find it hard during the day when eating a higher protein diet to drink enough. At least with lemon juice pre-meal or snack I can stay hydrated with a carryover that may help reduce my body fat a bit more.

Almonds- Nuts in generally have a good correlation with fat loss based diets. The one problem I find is that 6-10 almonds can very quickly become half a pack. This is where in fairness mental toughness comes in to play and portion control. Nuts are generally easy to store and carry with you as a quick snack. I make this one of my mobile snacks especially if I know I may not get a chance to eat properly. In fact nuts and a protein shake are pretty much a default 5 minute meal between sessions or clients.

Coconut Oil- I have been using coconut oil for the last 6 months, coconut oil is solid at room temperature and is an alternative for cooking compared to vegetable or olive oil. It is predominantly saturated meaning it is often highlighted as unhealthy even though the calorific yield is slightly lower. Why is it a good alternative? The reason for my usage is that it is formed of medium change triglycerides (MCT). MCT’s have a better availability to be turned in to energy; in effect they will be metabolized quicker than long chain triglycerides. As I am eating light on carbs this could be handy. Of course not a complete fix but keeping fat intake steady has a number of metabolic benefits include maintenance of the immune system.

In the rest of the plan I am gunning to consume protein every 3 hours as well as some servings of vegetables or salad. In all it’s not that hard as long as you prepare at the start of the week. For instance I have my breakfast at 5am (I have a pretty long day), a shake and some nuts at 8am, a piece of chicken and a green salad at 11am, a tin of oily fish such as tuna, sardines or mackerel with more salad or vegetables (sometimes I may have an innocent vegetable pot which works quite well) at around 3pm and then an evening meal e.g. chilli and salad which is usually a bit too late (8pm), most of the time I will be training people till then.

This is not a maintenance plan and is only set up for 4 weeks but after one week  and 2.8kg of weight loss it’s going pretty well (probably a bit of the weight loss is water so it isn’t necessarily fat). Next article I’ll talk a bit more about my training and the highlight of my week- cheat day!

The Overtraining Myth…

Someone who I train on occasion recently said to me was that he thought he was “overtraining.” Now this is not the first time I have had this mentioned to me and I am sure many coach or trainer has had this said to them before. The fact is when someone says they are “overtraining” to me it is them saying they are either (a) tired or (b) bored.

Wikipedia- the font of all human knowledge gives the definition….

Overtraining is a physical, behavioral, and emotional condition that occurs when the volume and intensity of an individual’s exercise exceeds their recovery capacity. They cease making progress, and can even begin to lose strength and fitness. Overtraining is a common problem in weight training, but it can also be experienced by runners and other athletes.

In laymens terms you are training too much for your body to recover so in effect your results go backwards. To this individual who mentioned overtraining to me my first question was “Why do you think that?” His answer “I just feel a bit tired.”

While not immediatly throwing a Snickers Bar at him and shouting “Grrr… Get Some Nuts!!!” we had a look at his programme and compared to the general recomendations for “health” he exceeded these recomendations by about 5 hours a week. However, this does not mean he was overtraining- yes, he was training a lot but 8 scheduled hours of training is not overtraining, especially if you are an amateur athlete. 

We reviewed his sleep patterns and his nutrition. Well, this is where we got our breakthrough. “Has your regular trainer looked at your diet?” I asked “Not really, I tend to avoid most carbohydrates though…” was the answer. On further review this guy in general was filling up on protein shakes, tins of tuna, fish oil capsuels and lettuce. He was tired not because he was overtraining- he was tired because he was not fueling his body to train or recover.

This is all too common-  a lot of people now are so conscious of body fat gains that they effectively can not train hard because they do not eat enough- usually in part due to ineffective dietry recommendations or a “system” of dieting which does not give flexibility to activity.

Adding in to the mix a lack of sleep and the recommendation is pretty much eat and sleep more and a lot of your “tired” symptoms will clear up. Focus on pre-exercise nutrition to give you intensity in training, put good healthy foods in to your body post session to help recovery.

Granted if you are overtraining you will have tired symptoms but don’t confuse this with poor nutrition and recovery- generally we will always review nutritional needs in line with the desired goals as a primary component of keeping exercise effective.