Tag Archives: Health and wellness

Seasonal Birds: running, weight-loss and the advent of winter.

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A few years ago I was out doing a long run in preparation for the London marathon. It was in the second week of January, a Sunday morning if I remember correctly. All of a sudden I was running alongside a man wearing brand new trainers, track-suit etc.

I started a conversation with the guy and I asked him if he was on a new year’s resolution. He told me that it was not the case. His wife had bought him the gear for Christmas and as soon as the celebration had ended she was on his case. He said the first two times that he had gone out, instead of doing his runs he had pulled over at the pub. His wife was not very pleased when he got home and all the gear was still unused.

To cut a long story short he said to me that he had been fast asleep on this Sunday morning and his wife had woken him shouting “ You lazy bastard, wake up and go for a run” and there he was huffing and puffing.

I never saw him out again.

 

This man belong to a category of exercises that I like to call ‘Seasonal Birds’…

They come out in January every year wearing new trainers and gear, such as heart rate monitors, I pods and brand new gloves. You spot them along roads, in parks and in the forest.

A couple of weeks later they disappear to reappear briefly in April, around the time of London Marathon.

They were out again over the summer, inspired by the Olympics, the Paralympics, and the milder weather.

And now that it’s getting colder and darker they are once again disappearing from the streets, leaving the canal paths, tarmac and cycle paths free again.

 

Now, it is a general belief that people have that running is the best way to lose weight. I don’t blame people for believing that – Just look at the world’s fastest long distance runners. They don’t carry any excess do they?

Unfortunately a lot of it is down to genetics. To get to that level you need to have the right genetic makeup, a body which is lean and which has the right kind of muscle fibre to endure hours and hours of running. Perhaps you need to come from East Africa too.

The average person is not going to get that sort of body if they take up running. What is most likely to happen is that your appetite will increase when you take up running and your body shape will more or less stay the same. Although your body shape will not transform, you will get’ fitter’, and your heart and lungs will get stronger. Also, if you do enjoy running by all means, carry on doing it – it certainly gives you a buzz!

However, if you’re a after a leaner physique, a better way of transforming your body is most likely to be a healthy combination of improved diet, moderate cardio and resistance training. This kind of approach is the one most likely to give you the results you’re after and hence is the one you’re most likely to stick with – unlike the seasonal birds who always disappear (along with their fancy equipment) when their efforts have failed to give them the body of their dreams and the cold nights and dark mornings override any motivation to hit the streets.

PT London

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Poor form? OR the body being awesome!

I am writing this article as a bit of an add-on to the articles claiming that exercise repetitions don’t exist. As I spend a f

air amount of time in different gyms, I can’t help but watch people train and watch personal trainers and fitness professionals train their clients, and ‘poor form’ is rife in the industry….or so the so-called ‘experts’ would have you believe. Now I’m not really bothered about exactly who wrote the textbook on exercise but what I am concerned about is this – was it written with the client’s best interest at heart?!

All exercises with so-called ‘form’ and ‘technique’, such as the press-up or the lunge or the squat seem to have been designed to put as little amount of strain on the body and joints as possible. For example, how often have you heard the cue ‘neutral spine’ for the pushup, or ‘knees must go straight forward’ for a lunge or squat? These “rules” are there (in my opinion) to protect the personal trainer who prescribed the exercise from injuring their client during the session and getting sued! And this may seem great – after all, no-one wants injuries…but the thing is, these kind of ‘form pointers’ are only applied in the gym….What happens when something goes wrong in the real world where the body needs the capability to deal with danger (e.g. a golden laborador barreling into you while you’re out for your Sunday morning jog) and awkward positions (think standing on one leg, trying to reach an item on the top shelf in a supermarket while holding a heavy basket in the other)? For example, if, in the gym, the knee has never been allowed to ‘collapse-in’ as this is supposedly “bad” for it, how can it deal with the situation where my client steps on an uneven surface that forces the knee to abduct (i.e. ‘collapse in’)? What generally happens is that the body ‘locks up’ to protect itself, limits range of motion at the joint, and the forces of nature (e.g. gavity and momentum) will cause something to pull or tear!

Now, before all you advocates of perfect technique get all worked up, let me explain a little more about where I’m coming from and what I mean by this.

Movement is movement and nothing more. We shouldn’t immediately condemn someone for ‘poor technique’ and demand they change because it looks funny. I believe this is the greatest opportunity to study movement and ask why? These “dysfunctional” patterns are telling a story of the client’s history and how they like to train. We can learn a lot about what the body likes and dislikes and use this knowledge to subconsciously tease the body into a better way of doing something. After all, it’s much better if an athlete can do the movement better without having to always think about good form! (I promise a subconscious movement article is next :-) ) If we ask the body to perform a task it will show us the best way for it to , in its current state, to complete the task. It will show us what it’s good at and what it’s not so good at, and, if we pay attention, we can learn a lot from this. Like I mentioned in my articles on “When is a Rep not a Rep”, paying attention to your body is probably the most critical component to the success of your training.

Let’s get a little more specific to demonstrate exactly what I mean. For now I’m going to stick to the example of a press up, and the common misconception that ‘sagging hips’ can lead to a back injury….

 

Example: Are ‘Sagging Hips’ in a Press Up really ‘poor form’?

If we take a closer look at what joint movements ‘sagging hips’ consists of, we can see that it is simply hip and thoracic extension (i.e. think a standing backward bend in yoga), and this particular movement loads the hip flexors and the abdominals to spring the body back up to help complete the task, i.e. to help complete the press up! Imagine that, a body that uses its major muscle groups to complete a task, that can’t be right! The body imust be “cheating” to try and engage its bigger muscle groups to help out a chest that isn’t strong enough to deal with the load imposed. Now, some people argue that in this example the core isn’t strong enough, but really it’s the core that is doing most of the work!

A standing backward bend involves hip and thoracic extension.

However!!! if my clients’ hip or thoracic extension is poor (or more than likely the sequencing is poor, due to lack of training) then this may cause the pelvis to rotate forwards instead of backward and force the lumbar region to hyperextend instead (i.e. creating a lordosis), this less-mobile joint (we’ll say) doesn’t cope well with large ranges and big loads so this can sometimes refer a little back pain as a warning sign to change something. However, rather than teach fitness professionals what to look for and how to solve the problem we just ignore it and sweep it under the rug and make it a rule that dropping the hips will hurt the back!

And maybe the client would be fine without this ability to load their abs and hip flexors properly, but what happens if this client trips when walking and lands in a press up position and gravity, mass and momentum pull those hips to the floor? The hips will go down, you can’t fight physics :-(, and that inability to deal with that load, in that direction will cause the body to lock up and potentially pull something! Alternatively, if that person had been training to deal with those kinds of loads and movements then the back issue will be less of a problem, as the body knows it has, safely, been in that position before and can handle the situation just fine.

 

So to round this up before I begin to rant or rhyme off examples and case studies I want my message to be clear:

I am not promoting going into the gym and being reckless with technique and form. I want readers of this to be clear that proper form is essential but ‘bad form’ shouldn’t be thrown out as just bad form. The answer is in the question – examine what is going wrong and you will find out how to achieve effortless form. Essentially what I want is to promote good form, but good form that is acheioeved without having to consciously concentrate so hard on keeping everything right. We shouldn’t need to worry about form – it should happen naturally. Start small with small forces and speeds just pay attention to the little things and ask why:

  • Why am I doing it this way?
  • Why does it look funny at low levels?
  • What does it feel like and should it feel this way?

Regress to the most basic and progress slowly and at a sustainable rate. Think outside the box with regard to movement: try it and if it feels good, go for it; If it feels bad then don’t, but ask the question of why it feels bad? Is it me or that movement with that force??

When I move on to talking about subconscious movement this should all start to come together into how to progress your training in the best possible manner. In the meantime you can hit me with any questions so I can explain why I have just tossed the big book of exercise techniques out the window :-)Rich Text AreaToolbarBold (Ctrl / Alt + Shift + B)Italic (Ctrl / Alt + Shift + I)Strikethrough (Alt + Shift + D)Unordered list (Alt + Shift + U)Ordered list (Alt + Shift + O)Blockquote (Alt + Shift + Q)Align Left (Alt + Shift + L)Align Center (Alt + Shift + C)Align Right (Alt + Shift + R)Insert/edit link (Alt + Shift + A)Unlink (Alt + Shift + S)Insert More Tag (Alt + Shift + T)Toggle spellchecker (Alt + Shift + N)▼
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I am writing this article as a bit of an add-on to the articles claiming that exercise repetitions don’t exist. As I spend a fair amount of time in different gyms, I can’t help but watch people train and watch personal trainers and fitness professionals train their clients, and ‘poor form’ is rife in the industry….or so the so-called ‘experts’ would have you believe. Now I’m not really bothered about exactly who wrote the textbook on exercise but what I am concerned about is this – was it written with the client’s best interest at heart?!
All exercises with so-called ‘form’ and ‘technique’, such as the press-up or the lunge or the squat seem to have been designed to put as little amount of strain on the body and joints as possible. For example, how often have you heard the cue ‘neutral spine’ for the pushup, or ‘knees must go straight forward’ for a lunge or squat? These “rules” are there (in my opinion) to protect the personal trainer who prescribed the exercise from injuring their client during the session and getting sued! And this may seem great – after all, no-one wants injuries…but the thing is, these kind of ‘form pointers’ are only applied in the gym….What happens when something goes wrong in the real world where the body needs the capability to deal with danger (e.g. a golden laborador barreling into you while you’re out for your Sunday morning jog) and awkward positions (think standing on one leg, trying to reach an item on the top shelf in a supermarket while holding a heavy basket in the other)? For example, if, in the gym, the knee has never been allowed to ‘collapse-in’ as this is supposedly “bad” for it, how can it deal with the situation where my client steps on an uneven surface that forces the knee to abduct (i.e. ‘collapse in’)? What generally happens is that the body ‘locks up’ to protect itself, limits range of motion at the joint, and the forces of nature (e.g. gavity and momentum) will cause something to pull or tear!
Now, before all you advocates of perfect technique get all worked up, let me explain a little more about where I’m coming from and what I mean by this.…
Movement is movement and nothing more. We shouldn’t immediately condemn someone for ‘poor technique’ and demand they change because it looks funny. I believe this is the greatest opportunity to study movement and ask why? These “dysfunctional” patterns are telling a story of the client’s history and how they like to train. We can learn a lot about what the body likes and dislikes and use this knowledge to subconsciously tease the body into a better way of doing something. After all, it’s much better if an athlete can do the movement better without having to always think about good form! (I promise a subconscious movement article is next ) If we ask the body to perform a task it will show us the best way for it to , in its current state, to complete the task. It will show us what it’s good at and what it’s not so good at, and, if we pay attention, we can learn a lot from this. Like I mentioned in my articles on “When is a Rep not a Rep”, paying attention to your body is probably the most critical component to the success of your training.
Let’s get a little more specific to demonstrate exactly what I mean. For now I’m going to stick to the example of a press up, and the common misconception that ‘sagging hips’ can lead to a back injury….

Example: Are ‘Sagging Hips’ in a Press Up really ‘poor form’?
If we take a closer look at what joint movements ‘sagging hips’ consists of, we can see that it is simply hip and thoracic extension (i.e. think a standing backward bend in yoga), and this particular movement loads the hip flexors and the abdominals to spring the body back up to help complete the task, i.e. to help complete the press up! Imagine that, a body that uses its major muscle groups to complete a task, that can’t be right! The body imust be “cheating” to try and engage its bigger muscle groups to help out a chest that isn’t strong enough to deal with the load imposed. Now, some people argue that in this example the core isn’t strong enough, but really it’s the core that is doing most of the work!

A standing backward bend involves hip and thoracic extension.
However!!! if my clients’ hip or thoracic extension is poor (or more than likely the sequencing is poor, due to lack of training) then this may cause the pelvis to rotate forwards instead of backward and force the lumbar region to hyperextend instead (i.e. creating a lordosis), this less-mobile joint (we’ll say) doesn’t cope well with large ranges and big loads so this can sometimes refer a little back pain as a warning sign to change something. However, rather than teach fitness professionals what to look for and how to solve the problem we just ignore it and sweep it under the rug and make it a rule that dropping the hips will hurt the back!

And maybe the client would be fine without this ability to load their abs and hip flexors properly, but what happens if this client trips when walking and lands in a press up position and gravity, mass and momentum pull those hips to the floor? The hips will go down, you can’t fight physics , and that inability to deal with that load, in that direction will cause the body to lock up and potentially pull something! Alternatively, if that person had been training to deal with those kinds of loads and movements then the back issue will be less of a problem, as the body knows it has, safely, been in that position before and can handle the situation just fine.

So to round this up before I begin to rant or rhyme off examples and case studies I want my message to be clear:
I am not promoting going into the gym and being reckless with technique and form. I want readers of this to be clear that proper form is essential but ‘bad form’ shouldn’t be thrown out as just bad form. The answer is in the question – examine what is going wrong and you will find out how to achieve effortless form. Essentially what I want is to promote good form, but good form that is acheioeved without having to consciously concentrate so hard on keeping everything right. We shouldn’t need to worry about form – it should happen naturally. Start small with small forces and speeds just pay attention to the little things and ask why:
Why am I doing it this way?
Why does it look funny at low levels?
What does it feel like and should it feel this way?
Regress to the most basic and progress slowly and at a sustainable rate. Think outside the box with regard to movement: try it and if it feels good, go for it; If it feels bad then don’t, but ask the question of why it feels bad? Is it me or that movement with that force??
When I move on to talking about subconscious movement this should all start to come together into how to progress your training in the best possible manner. In the meantime you can hit me with any questions so I can explain why I have just tossed the big book of exercise techniques out the window
Path:

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What's The Best Exercise For A Flat Stomach and Awesome Abs? Try the 'Push-Away'

 

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rywhere you look today there are:

1. Magazines claiming to tell you the best exercises or workouts for ‘six pack abs’.

2. Adverts for ab-sculpting equipment that will give you ‘great abs in just 5 minutes a day’.

3. Group Fitness classes with ‘ab sections’ full of endless crunches, sit-ups and planks.

4. People in gyms working on their ‘abs’ and always looking for the answer to the question:

‘What’s the best exercise for getting great abs / a flatter stomach?’

 

But what is the answer to this question? What is the secret to getting a flat, toned stomach or six-pack abs?

 

Well, in the past I have heard a number of answers to this question:

– I’ve read that celebrities claim that they do 500 sit-ups a day to keep their stomach toned;

– I’ve heard fitness professionals claim that working on the ‘core’ with planks and cable rotations (possibly while standing on a BOSU ball) is the key to having a flat stomach;

– I’ve heard martial artists and dancers say that they’re convinced that their activity is great for the abs because nearly every movement they do works the abdominals in different ways;

– I’ve also read that performing exercises that focus on strengthening the abdominals (e.g. hanging leg raises) for a small number of reps is much better for ‘sculpting’ the abs than performing endless reps of exercises that do not require as much strength (e.g. crunches).

 

But who’s right? If we want a flat, toned stomach should we be performing lots of crunches every day, dropping into a plank whenever we can, or performing a small number of ‘Pull Up Pikemans’ on gymnastic rings one or two times a week?

Well, a few years ago at a fitness convention I heard a speaker (I can’t remember who) say that the ultimate exercise for getting a flat stomach was something he called the ‘Push Away’ and in the time since then I have come to agree with him…

I firmly believe that if you want to get a flat, toned stomach, the Push Away is the best exercise you can do to help you reach your goal.

 

The Push Away

The Push Away Can be Performed in one of two ways:

1. When eating a meal, push the plate you are eating from away from you when you have eaten 80% of what is on it.

2. When a tempting ‘treat’ (like cake, chocolate, biscuits etc.) is offered to you, push the food away from you.

 

Perform this exercise at least once a day and watch that belly fat disappear!

 

Okay, okay, so I’m being a little facetious here – I’m not really advocating that you go around pushing food away from you every day. However, the point is that there really is no magic exercise that you can do to get a flat stomach and six-pack abs – you can perform crunches or hanging leg raises ’till the cows come home but if those great abs you’re building are covered by a layer of fat, you’re still not going to have a visible six-pack or a flat, toned tummy.

The painful truth is that the state of your mid-section is primarily down to your diet – if you want a flat stomach or great abs then the best exercise you can do is change the way you eat.

 

N.B: The Push-Away is NOT a genuine exercise. ‘Changing the way you eat’ is not as simple as eating less food – the QUALITY of the food you eat is as important as the QUANTITY you eat…..but that’s another story for another time.

Personal Trainer

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The Right To Progress by Rob Cook

When dealing with exercise or program progression for your athletes or clients, I believe there should be a sound, uniformed level of mastery of fundamental basics and exercise foundations before the ‘reward

’ of progression is applied.

Sometimes it’s easy for us as trainers and coaches to get caught up with a new ‘fad’ training concept or piece of equipment, and to feel the pressure to keep up with the crowd. A positive bi-product of this is creative design – the new kit or concept enables you to explore and understand new possibilities and ideas, which ultimately leads to the industry furthering itself. On a whole, this is a very good thing. However, the negative sides to this, as I see it, are:

1. The over-complication of exercises by trainers who’s creativity gets the best of them (Note: Creativity is a good thing, but only when applied correctly!); and

2. The progression of clients and athletes who still haven’t achieved technical competence of an exercise’s fundamental technique.

 

“Let them adapt before moving on.” –Kelvin Giles

If we progress a client or athlete who is yet to gain technical competence in a certain area of their training, they will carry this deficiency of skillset through their development and into an area where there is going to be an increase in load, speed, volume and power output. When these aspects of an exercise are increased without a sound, competent foundation to work with, the result for your client or athlete can be injury, plateau and restriction in strength development. This could then ultimately also have a psychological impact on an athlete’s mindset or a client’s motivation which can potentially result in a lack of faith in themselves, and you or your methods.

The right path through an exercise progression begins with your client or athlete having mastered the foundations of an exercise before moving on to adding load, increasing speed, increasing volume, etc. By taking this approach of ‘Earning the right to Progress’, you are ensuring the best possible long-term development of your client or athlete, and by increasing their body awareness you in-turn increase their ability to improve.

 

References:

1) Movement Dynamics Athletic Development – An Introduction to Athletic Development. –Kelvin B. Giles MA, CertEd

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Things to look out for when hiring a Personal Trainer

Personal Trainersno prescription cialis

g> can be a great aid when it comes to getting in shape. However, this is only the case some of the time. Currently in the UK today there are thousands of Personal Trainers around with varying degrees of knowledge, skills and quality of service. Some Personal Trainers out there are outstanding at their jobs while others aren’t worth their salt and should be working in a different industry. We find this varying degree of quality in most gyms, health clubs and other exercise environments across the world and to the naked eye or the gym newbie there is very little to distinguish the difference between a world class PT and someone who is nothing short of rubbish! This is the reason why I’ve decided to help you – the general public – out when deciding who’s a great PT to hire and who’s just dire!

Here are a few things you need to watch out for when choosing a PT to train with – it’s not all about what’s on the advertisement board. So here are some pointers to find the right trainer for you:

1. Go to a busy Personal Trainer: Look for the PT’s who are interacting with everyone in the gym and are always doing something productive and constantly training people. This can be a little bit deceptive when a trainer is first building business as they may be quiet on that front and this doesn’t make them a bad trainer. However, if a trainer has been at a club for a good few months or years and they seem to be slacking off on the gym desk or just stand around like a wet lemon then they probably have too much time on their hands and are less likely to be on top of their game!

2. Check their Qualifications: The most qualified Personal Trainer in the club isn’t necessarily the best trainer for you. It’s quite likely that the notice board in your gym is full of Personal Trainers advertising their numerous qualifications, most of which you’ve likely never heard of and don’t understand. Take the time to ask around or do your research into certain qualifications – find out if their qualifications are from reputable sources, and whether they are suitable for your own goals. For example, a PT with only Strength and Conditioning qualifications (i.e. lifting big bars and weights) might not be appropriate for someone who wants to improve their posture or lose weight.

3. Presentation: Presentation is everything – the posture a person assumes, the words they use and the body language they demonstrate are all very important aspects of a good professional. Look for someone who looks the part and is well-dressed and tidy as these people are the ones who care enough about their jobs to take the time to present themselves well. Plus, if you surround yourself with people who you want to be like, different traits of their personality and mannerisms will rub off on you – as Jim Rohn said, we are the combination of the 5 people we spend the most time around, and for some people their trainer is in that top 5.

4. Punctuality and Professionalism: A good Personal Trainer will be professional at all times and will turn up on time. They will deliver your programs, send you emails and follow through everything they say to you promptly and with minimal fuss. This shows that this trainer cares about you and your results and is willing to go the extra mile for you outside of your sessions.

5. Find a trainer that is engaged and engaging when they train you: by this I mean they will be eye level with you when they can be during an exercise, they are motivating and supportive, willing to do partner exercises and join in the session when they can. The best PT’s will get involved with their clients in terms of using touch correction and hands-on techniques – whether it’s to assist a movement or a stretch at the end of a session. A good PT London will make records of what weights you lift, your distance times and maybe even go as far as videoing your techniques to ensure you are performing safely and optimally. They will also always recap what you are doing at the end of a session to find out what you enjoyed and what you didn’t – remember this is about what YOU want and not what your trainer wants, so if your trainer isn’t asking how you felt about each session, they’re not doing the best job.

6. Desire to improve: Some trainers will be quite happy to be laxey dazey and content with what they learned 10 years ago. These trainers will give you stagnant sessions and their knowledge runs the risk of being outdated. The fitness industry is constantly adapting and evolving and what we know today is likely to be rubbished tomorrow. The best trainers will show desire to improve and learn and will be asking for feedback from you and their peers on a regular basis. These are the trainers that are going to get you results.

7. Fair Pricing: Some Personal Trainers are cheaper than others and sometimes this is down to affluence of the area and variations in quality of their knowledge base. Obviously, it goes without saying that you should go for a trainer that you can afford. However, I find that if you’re looking for a “good deal” or a massive discount on Personal Training, you’re probably going to get a lower quality session – a good Personal Trainer may appear expensive but it is what they bring to the hour that matters and what they can do for you away from your sessions. A well paid PT is more likely to look after you and support you when you need it, whereas a PT looking to make a quick buck isn’t going to care because they are already devaluing their product. That said, pricing doesn’t necessarily reflect a trainer’s ability – there are some great PTs out there who charge much less than some awful trainers!

Hopefully these points will help give you a better idea of what to look for when hiring a personal trainer. But do remember that any PT who is worth their salt will be willing to give you some time for free before you sign up with them – whether that’s through a taster session, a consultation or a brief chat to help you on the gym floor. Make the most of this time to ask questions and get answers but remember not to abuse it.

A great Personal Training in London product is built on the trust and relationship between a client and a trainer. Try not to take on the Personal Trainer that promises you the world as they will often fail to deliver, but instead seek out someone more assured, humble and honest about their goals, ethos and what they are about. Seek to come away from a trainer who tries to force the hard sell on you and pressures you into buying-in. A good PT will know their session went well and will give you the option to go away and think about it and most of the time you’ll come back anyway if they were good enough! After all that’s what taster sessions are for and if you don’t like what you get you have no obligation to buy into it.

Now you know what to look for in a trainer I hope you’ll make your decision with a wiser viewpoint.

Thanks for reading.

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