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!

Deconstructing the Deadlift

I like deadlifting…. Mainly because I am good at it. This is a common thing for a lot of people who lift weights or perform any form of structured exercise. We tend to master the things we are better at, be it squatting, bench pressing, sprinting or marathon running. We develop excellence by specialization. First we decide that we want to achieve something (such as picking up and deadlifting your own body weight) achieving a target before repeating this task to replicate the successful behavior  Twinned with that we may not prioritize that exercise and forgo other more challenging exercises. People usually say that they do yoga or run, rather than stating that their exercise programme is a multi-layered fusion of a number of training styles that will unlock their physical potential.

I am interested in strength training. It helps you maintain lean muscle tissue and mobility if performed in the right way,  it enhances your metabolism and ultimately makes you look good. From a physical potential point of view it is also a facet of fitness that can translate to the development of other- flexibility training doesn’t make you stronger and cardiovascular training doesn’t enhance lean muscle mass whereas strength training can help the performance of both of these. This means for time poor people it is a great way of training and developing a well rounded physique in line with a bit of interval and aerobic work depending upon time restraints (another post).

Deadlifts are perhaps the king the free weight domain along with squats and the bench press. Indeed these classic exercises have survived for decades as many a gym can testify. While other forms of training have come and gone there is an old school approach that highlights picking up heavy stuff is generally good for you (if done properly) and if done constructively in the right way may turn you in to an elite strength athlete (possibly).

Deadlifts are what I am going to focus on today. After teaching the basics of any exercise you may consider adding some weight. This can often be the first issue as adding additional resistance changes the whole movement pattern of the exercise. With the deadlift you teach the movement by hinging at the hip, keeping the back straight and driving through the hips. See below….

Often though people don’t have the mobility to get in to that position, what you typically see is back flexion and forward bending. You may see lower back flexion- this is an inability to maintain a neutral lower back position and may be related to poor hip mobility and poor torso strength. You may also see upper back flexion in the thoracic area. This will be seen if people are weak in their thoracic/ back extensors. It is important to distinguish between the two as for individuals who move a large amount of weight may see a degree of thoracic flexion. Lumbar flexion needs to be avoided at all costs as it is potentially injurious. Individuals who deadlift in this manner should in the words of a great American rapper “check themselves before they wreck themself.”

But what to do if you lack hip mobility in this situation? Should you continue to deadlift? Well there are a number of options. Step one is to hammer hip mobility pre- session in your warm ups as well at every opportunity you can during the day- if that means telling your work colleagues you are now an athlete it is fine, though they may never understand. Step two is to ingrain the movement with lower threshold alternatives so that you can maintain a strong torso position while hinging at the hips. Kettlebell swings are a good alternative as are Rack Pulls.

Both of these should be undertaken while adding in to the mix a lot of hip dominant single leg exercises. Hip dominant single leg exercises are those where we can emphasise a strong torso while developing strength and mobility in the glutes and hamstrings. The humble step up is a good start point. Rear foot elevated split squats are perhaps a progression but are a great prelude to building up to deadlifting.

The next step is to deadlift from somewhere between rack pull height and full deadlift height. Typically this may be of boxes or a couple of plates. A lot of the time if someone has long legs, lifting from the floor provides too much stress on the lower back and form cannot be maintained. Indeed for a lot of our trainees at Results FAST it is smarter way to deadlift.

Full deadlifting as you see is a progression not a start point. While it is earmarked as a primary exercise it should only be done well in perfect form. If it isn’t then there are two things wrong. You are not mobile enough to achieve the correct form or the weight is too heavy causing you form to degrade. Mobility tends to shut down when you are not strong enough to maintain correct joint position- it usually means drop the weights a little as your back will thank you the next day.

Building Training Programmes for Fat Loss: Part 1…

Lets face it personal training is expensive. Not only is it expensive but if you do a basic search for personal trainer in your local town they are on the increase. In my local town of Ware/ Hertford there appear to be over 20 trainers all plugging different approaches for fat loss from different diets to extreme exercise regimes. What works though? Well taking up your activity burns calories but what gets the best results. What follows are the three basic components of  a training programme.

Item 1- Aerobic Exercise.

This can be seen in the form of jogging or any other form of low to moderate cardiovascular exercise. Currently, this is a form of exercise deemed inefficient by the fitness industry for fat loss. The advantages are that it require minimal equipment and is the easiest to perform for beginners physically and psychologically. From a scientific definition point of view this may be considered to be working at a threshold of under 70% of an individuals VO2 Max. In some individuals this will be enough stimulus for fat loss as the intensity will be enough to cause an overreaching effect. In physically fit individuals this level of exercise may be considered extra activity and have to be performed for a longer duration to burn a suitable amount of fat. The negative implications for this are that the body adapts quickly to this level of intensity and therefore to elicit further responses exercise intensity or volume will need to be increased. From a hormonal standpoint excessive training volume may not be beneficial, this in line with not enough intensity to promote the hypertrophy of muscle mass can in effect decrease net metabolic rate as aerobic exercise if poorly prescribed can be anabolic in nature meaning that lean muscle tissue is broken down. This does to a point explain why new exercisers undertaking an exercise routine see decreases in weight followed by a plateau as the body adapts unless training volume or intensity is modified.

 

Item 2- Anaerobic Exercise.

This can be described as periods of high intensity followed by a rest period such as sprints or circuit training. This method is well used in the fitness industry and rightly so as it mixes periods of elevated intensity with rest in effect causing an acute overreaching effect in the exercise session which places the body under stress which it has to adapt to. Again anaerobic exercise is dependant upon the fitness of the individual being trained, the intensity that the individual is being placed and the period of recovery before the next interval. This type of training is very metabolically demanding and therefore it’s use in comparison to aerobic methods of training needs to be limited.

 

Item 3- Resistance Exercise.

Resistance training is hard to quantify as in effect everything is resistance training if you are moving your own bodyweight. Weight training in itself burns calories though not necessarily the same amount as anaerobic or aerobic training. The advantage of weight training is that it promotes the growth and importantly the maintainance of lean muscle mass which in effect keeps the energy demands of the body elevated. Methods including super setting exercises (pairing exercises performed one after the other) to be time efficient are useful as well as providing extra stress to the cardiovascular system.

Repetitions for each exercise of between 8 and 12 are effective for lean muscle maintainance. Rest periods should be around 30 seconds to 90 seconds as the muscular system is the main system to be fatigued and therefore full recovery is not necessary. If the desired response is to get stronger then performing 6 repetitions and below is the ideal rep range as there is a need here to challenge the nervous system. It is important for longer rest periods here to let the body recover fully.

Typically most programmes recommend one form of exercise to promote weight loss. This approach is in effect limited as variations in stimulus cause the body to adapt. Net fat burning in a session of exercise is dependent upon the cumulative intensity and volume of the session. At rest we are burning more fat proportionally compared to the other fuels in the human body. This is the same for low intensity exercise. During low intensity exercise calorific expenditure per minute of exercise can be around approximately 5kcals though net fat loss is higher if we work at a higher intensity as well as the net amount of other fuels that the body can use for energy. During intense exercise calorific expenditure per minute can be at 10kcals and above. Obviously intense exercise can not necessarily be maintained for long periods. Resistance training in it’s traditional form has a calorific expenditure between high and low intensity work. High intensity work and resistance training place a greater stress on the body and have a higher post exercise calorific burn compared to low intensity work.

The way these methods of training are combined depends on the individual but each of these items of training form the basic tool box for smart fitness training programmes.

Fast Snack for People in a Hurry!

Just a quick post this week. A lot of the people I work with tend to be time poor, often people are structured with their training but find that they struggle with organising their diet and preparing food. The following is a recipe for turkey meatballs which is high in quality protein, moderate levels of carbohydrate with a good fat content that can provide a staple for most meals or even a snack. They are easy to store and can be kept for a couple of days so are a good food to prepare at the weekend for the week ahead.

Let me know what you think as all ways!

Turkey Meatballs…

Ingredients:

1lbs Turkey- Minced (ideally organic or as good as quality as possible).

1 Cup of Rolled Oats. 

3 Eggs Seperated.

1tsp Ground Garlic.

1/2 Chopped Red Onion.

1/2 tbsp Dried Parsley.

3/4 tbsp Honey.

Olive Oil.

 

Here’s How to Make Them… Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Form in to balls- the size depends on how many you want, this should stretch to about 20 golf balls. You can place them in the oven for 20-30 minutes or flatten them and grill evenly on both sides. You should get about 3 meatballs a serving.

For the guys interested in calories… This comes to about 170 to 200 calories. With 15-20g of protein, 13- 18g of carbohydrates and 5-10g of fat dependant upon serving size. 

When to eat? This can make a perfect snack food post training or with a plate full of vegetables as a lunch or evening meal. For those of you who need a bit of a “kick” chilli flakes can be added to the main mix.

 

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.

Why Posture is Important: Part 1…

Why is Neutral Spine Important in All Exercises?

Three natural curves are present in a healthy spine. The neck/ cervical spine, the mid-back/ thoracic spine and the lower back/ lumbar spine. The neutral alignment is important in helping to cushion the spine from too much stress. Learning how to maintain a neutral spine position also helps you move safely during activities like sitting, walking, and lifting- most importantly it also helps you to stop looking like a caveman/ women!!

The natural curves of the spine are the result of the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that attach to the vertebrae of the spine. Without these supporting structures, the spine would collapse. They support the spine – much like guide wires support the mast of a ship. This guide wire system is made up mainly of the abdominal and back muscles. The abdominal muscles provide support by attaching to the ribs, pelvis, and indirectly to the lumbar spine. The muscles of the back are arranged in layers, with each layer playing an important role in balancing the spine. By using these muscles together, it is possible to change the curves of the spine.

Controlling pelvic tilt is one way to begin helping to balance the spine. As certain muscles of the back and abdomen contract, the pelvis rotates. As the pelvis rotates forward, the lumbar curve increases. As the pelvis rotates backward, the curve of the low back straightens. Rotation of the pelvis is like a wheel centred at the hip joint. The muscles of the upper thighs also attach to the pelvis and contraction of these muscles can be used to change the curve of the spine. The abdominal muscles work alone, or with the hamstring muscles to produce a backward rotation of the pelvis. This causes the slight inward curve of the low back to straighten. If these muscles cause the curve of the low back to straighten too much, this may produce an unhealthy slouching posture. In the other direction, as the hip flexors contract and back extensors contract, the pelvis is rotated forward – increasing the curvature of the lower back. If this curve is increased too much, another unhealthy posture may result. This condition is called lordosis in medical terminology or swayback in common terms.

A balance of strength and flexibility is the key to maintaining the neutral spine position. This balance is the basis for optimal muscle function. Like a car, an imbalance may lead to wear and tear, eventually damaging the various parts of the car. Muscle imbalances that affect the spine have many causes. One common cause of muscle imbalance is weak abdominal muscles. As the abdominal muscles sag, the hip flexors become tight, causing an increase in the curve of the low back. This leads to the swayback posture mentioned above. Another common problem results from tight hamstrings. As the hamstring muscles become tight, the pelvis is rotated backwards. This produces an abnormal slouching posture.

This therefore will affect us when we move as postural imbalances will not only affect the position of our lower limbs, it will also affect the position of the spine and upper/ lower back. In Part 2 we will look at simple programme modifications to help improve your posture.

The benefits of uni-lateral training…

Regardless of an individual’s background most people will have a dominant or stronger side of the body. As this side is more dominant, strength, co-ordination and muscle size may vary from the opposite limb. Most exercise programmes related to strength development contain bilateral (both sides of the body) movements such as the Bench Press, Squats and Deadlifts.

If one side of the body is stronger and effectively “out of balance” compared to the opposite then this may accentuate the difference from one side to the other. Typically, this may be shown in that if one leg is stronger than the other during a squat movement and becomes more dominant during the movement, shifting the centre of gravity and causing rotation at or around the pelvis which may place stress on the joints further up or down the body. The negative impact of these imbalances may be highlighted typically in movement flaws and poor technique of bilateral movements. Ultimately these poor movements result in tight overactive muscles and weak underactive muscles with the worst case scenario being injury.

Unilateral training focuses specifically on the opposite sides of the body. The aim of these types of movements is to highlight any potential strength imbalance from side to side and help to level these imbalances out by loading the body equally. The advantages of this type of training protocol can help develop core and postural strength as the body has to stabilize itself against rotation around its centre of gravity through movement. Consider the stabilization the torso musculature has to provide to prevent torso rotation during a single arm row or how much instability there is in a single leg squat compared to a bilateral squat where rotational forces can be stabilized on the opposite leg.

Bi-lateral movements have a greater advantage in that additional load can be placed on the body so for force development they are a vital part of a conditioning programme. This has led to a rather blanket assertion that they are the be all and end all of training. However, this is a limited view point in that uni-lateral movements are just as important as they help address strength imbalances from side to side and can refine technique and issues with range of motion and mobility.

Uni-lateral exercises are challenging in their own right as they demand a greater amount of segmental muscle control and integration of muscular movement compared to bi-lateral movements. A balanced training programme aims to build postural balance between all the muscles of the body. Posture dictates function; therefore function dictates dysfunction- if posture is not correct and there is a strength deficit from one side to the other then dysfunction and injury may occur. Bi-lateral exercises do have their own place in resistance training hierarchy if performed correctly at the right time, as does unilateral training.

Individuals who respond well to including uni-lateral exercises in to their training include those who play in sports that are one side dominant such as kicking or throwing. The training of single limbs is functional from an athletic development point of view as it allows an individual to develop force production in positions where we experience most movements in life as well as sporting situations. For instance, whenever we move or run we are have to balance and change direction of one leg.

Does Sub-Maximal Training Lead to Submaximal Results?

Training for endurance sports is generally a question of efficiency. Efficiency of good performance though is a product of replicating competition and it’s demands. Competition in itself is performed at maximal or close to maximal intensity. This leads to a question about excessive training volume, lower intensity sessions and how a training programme is structured. “Should all training be maximal or close to competition pace?” So do swimming, cycling and running as well as gym training have to be challenged at a maximal of close to maximal level to administer improvements and can excessive amounts of training hamper their progress?

Swimming out of all of the disciplines is a sport traditionally born out of efficiency of movement. Streamlining and body position can make a difference of seconds and that can mean a matter of places at the top level. Race pace for sprint swimmers is as much a question of efficiency as physical capability, simply stated you cannot have shear power with no efficiency. That said form will breakdown for two reasons laziness (or poor coaching) and fatigue. Fatigue in nature is a product of inefficiency and broadly speaking is a result of the level of conditioning not being sufficient to maintain a suitable technique. Indeed the fatigue factor is relevant also to cycling and running where inefficiency in technique leads to further fatigue as ideal body position cannot be maintained.

Running in itself is governed by form. Poor running style though has the element of impact with the floor to be concerned about- something that swimming and cycling do not have. Structurally this is harder for the body to deal with as there is greater stress on the joints and connective tissue. This brings in to the equation the role of core stability, reactive strength and the ability to maintain form with good structural strength. Many new runners find the demands of running plays havoc with their joints- specifically the lower back and the knees. Both these areas have a limited amount of movement in them and predominantly need to be trained for stability. The ankles and the hips need stability though they also need a suitable amount of mobility. Without sufficient mobility or movement in the joint forces may not be transferred in an efficient way leading to overuse- specifically in the areas that have limited mobility. This highlights that excessive training volume in the form of too many miles or time spent on the road can have a detrimental effect on the body. Simply said if you are training for competition sub-maximal training should not be too long in volume. Favouring shorter runs more often is possibly a more efficient way of organising volume even as you build up the amount of training over a period of time. Recovery runs also should not be excessive in volume if your goal is to run quicker.

Cycling in turn is slightly different again. Cycling does not have the elastic plyometric bounce and impact that running has as you shift from leg to leg. Maximal training in this case can replicate competition at race pace or slightly above and below. While there is a need for training volume cycling and swimming are less destructive on the joints as you look to build efficiency of the energy systems.

As with most training excessive volume is what causes overuse injuries, I tend to term these “junk” miles and consider that you need to be training to gain ahead of just training. In all forms of training there is a need to cultivate efficiency of technique and energy systems efficiency. Technique breaks down under intensity and is where you also see injury. The key is being to maintain a sufficiently high intensity so you have carry over to performance, be it a tempo or interval session. Too much recovery work or also what some may call “base building” may end up blunting higher intensity sessions as cumulative fatigue holds back intensity, especially in running. Commonly, winter training is guilty of this as it sacrifices intensity for sheer volume. Cyclists commonly base build through the winter though is a phase of training that can be greatly helped by spikes of intensity at regular points. This means that race pace is being challenged and therefore you are training yourself to move faster. Swimming training volume is an area of debate- longer sessions should be technique refinement led and pace should not be ignored if faster times are sought.

With all three disciplines it highlights the point that slower sessions should be performed but they should be technique led, for beginners two sessions a week is ample but for the more advanced with good technique and structural strength then once a week is enough for energy systems eficency- train with intensity as when it comes to race day not knowing how quick is quick means that your overall result may suffer.