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Adherence – WHATS YOUR WHY?

Dedication vs Motivation

 

Adherence to any program or plan is the number 1 factor that will determine success to reach a particular goal or failure where you quit prior to achieving it or even getting close to it.

 

Don’t make excuses find solutions!

 

In any pursuit of getting to a certain goal consistency is king, if you are not consistently putting in the effort for the most amount of the time you will be taking 1 step forward and 3 steps back rather than the opposite.

 

Motivation will fail you, when emotions get in the way when your not in a good mood, your stressed sad, overwhelmed. Motivation will seize you’ll quit or have a day off that turns into a weeks to a month off.

 

Dedication is something that you will do regardless of your circumstances, regardless if your stressed, tired, overwhelmed and regardless if your not in a good emotional state. You’ll always find a way regardless of the situation.

 

If your just motivated you will find any little excuse to stop yourself from doing the things that you need to do. When we are dedicated we will find a solution you’ll adapt to get what you need get done to progress.

 

That’s why it’s important to identify your Why, your why is an emotional thing which can change and progress or can remain the same through the course of your journey.

 

It’s really important that we really think about this and put some focus into it as we can use it to remain dedicated when things will get in the way of our progress and progression and having that awareness as we navigate through our journey on how it may change or progress.

 

Be attached to your why, write it down put it on your notes in your phone and review it periodically. When your making excuses to yourself read it out 10 times and you will see how your focus /mindset will change.

 

We have to set our self’s up for success we are living in a more stressful environment at present and each individuals allostatic load is much higher which means we are required to acknowledge all of these things that may happen along the way over the course of the month and year and say to yourself your reactions to these stimuli that may raise your emotions will be X or Y. For example I will not drink a bottle of wine when X happens at work. I will do a workout and do 10 mins of deep breathing and meditation, or I will book myself a massage so I can release the tension from my body. Often times it’s not the stimulus but our reaction to the stimulus how we perceive it and react to it.

 

Let’s look at examples of what someone’s WHY may look like?

 

  • I want to be fit and healthy for when I have children.
  • I want to be able to keep up with my Grandchildren.
  • want to be a good role model to my children so they can see me focusing on good habits toward my health eating good foods and exercising regularly.
  • I want to be mobile and active when I reach and elderly age.
  • I like to look good for my husband/wife/partner and myself.
  • I want to look good for my clients so they believe in what I advise them to do (as a coach you are your own business card).
  • I like feel good cognitively which by creating healthier lifestyle habits allows me to feel this way. (exercises has a positive impact on mental health).
  • I want to be healthy enough to continue to do the hobbies/sports I love.

 

Make note of yours, focus and review it regularly, use it as your fuel to keep your dedicated on becoming the healthiest and strongest version of yourself.

 

A good physique, health and vitality is created by consistent habits that will require a consistent dedicated approach. As coaches and personal trainers we help individuals navigate through this process and keep you accountable to your WHY!

 

 

Pre-Fatigue Training vs Traditional Sets on muscle growth

 

 

Reference of the Study: Trinidade et. al. (2019). Effects of Pre-Exhaustion Versus Traditional Resistance Training on Training Volume, Maximal Strength and Quadriceps Hypertrophy FRONT PHYSIOL

 

 

Details of the Study:

 

  • Trainees performed 3 sets of leg press to failure 75% 1RM, 2x per week, for 9 weeks in total.

 

  • One group performed 1 set of leg extensions before the leg press (pre-fatigue group), while another group performed the leg press training in a non-fatigued state (traditional training group).

 

  • It was found that both groups saw significant muscle growth of all quad muscles, with no notable differences between groups.

 

  • This study suggests that when taking each set close to failure, pre-fatiguing a muscle can achieve similar muscle growth compared with traditional training, with no additional benefit.

 

  • This is despite the fact that lifting performance (load lifted), on the leg press for the pre-fatigue group was significantly affected.

 

 

Real World Application:

 

  • Pre-Fatiguing the muscles provides an opportunity to gain the same muscle growth as traditional training, with lighter loads and less repetitions, thereby minimising joint stress.

 

  • Therefore, this could be particularly useful for people returning to the gym after rehabilitating certain joint injuries.

The Importance of Sleep for your goals

 

On average, in the UK, men get 6.17 hours of sleep per night, whilst females get 6.04 hours per night. This falls short of the 7 hours recommended for your average adult. This falls even further short of the recommended amount for someone in regular training, whereby the general rule of thumb is 7 hours + as many hours as you trained for that day. For example, if you trained for 1 hour, then it would be recommended that you sleep for 8 hours (7 hours + 1 hour of training). This article will look into the key factors effecting your training outcomes and how sleep will influence each one.

 

When we isolate training from nutrition and focus only on getting the most out of the session when we step into the gym, we want to be feeling our best. However, a lack of sleep can drastically effect this. Concentration and motivation towards goals have been shown to significantly reduce in response to low levels of sleep. Whereas, anxiety and irritability have been shown to increase. When these factors are put into play in our daily lives, it will automatically make us enjoy training a lot less and not train at the same level as we potentially could do. Also, for most of the general population who are not fitness enthusiasts, this will be enough to make their attendance to the gym drop by large amounts which will then have the knock-on effect of preventing the gym from becoming a habit whereby attendance becomes second nature. That way, even when they do eventually catch up on sleep, they have to work hard again to try and make it become a habit. Training also increases muscle protein synthesis, the act of building new proteins (the building blocks of muscle tissue). However, lack of sleep actually blunts this response, resulting in less muscle being built each session. This links closely to nutrition which we will move onto now.

 

Nutrition provides the body will the fuel to execute training efficiently, as well as the nutrients needed to recover and grow. Adequate protein intake is required to stimulate muscle protein synthesis and as mentioned above, lack of sleep blunts this response, instantly making your diet not as optimal as it could be. Next, a lack of sleep has been shown to trigger increased levels of ghrelin and decrease levels of leptin which leads to increased levels hunger and appetite. This is going to make it much more difficult for anyone looking to consistently eat within a caloric deficit each day to lose weight. However, when paired with the lack of interest towards goals, this can also be an issue for people looking to eat within a moderate calorie surplus to gain muscle. This is because if motivation towards goals are low, then this can result in more low-quality foods being eaten, leading to them feeling sluggish and potentially overeating if the foods they choose to eat are hyper-palatable, high calorie foods.

 

Overall, a lack of sleep can have both direct and indirect negative influences on the results you achieve when trying to change your body composition. Therefore, it should be a priority to achieve adequate sleep if you are serious about making significant changes to your health and fitness.

 

If you are struggling to get the right amount of sleep, it is worth looking at your sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is the term used to describe environmental and behaviour practices used to enhance sleep quality and duration. There are a few factors that contribute to this. Firstly, if your lifestyle allows, a regular sleeping pattern will help your body maintain a healthy circadian rhythm (sleep/wake cycle) so your body will know when it’s time to sleep. Similarly, it can help to create a routine before bed to aid with this. However, this should not include any screen time, as screens decrease melatonin levels, the hormone which helps us to fall asleep. Therefore, consider relaxing activities which do not include a screen such as having a bath and reading. Next, we want to eliminate the effects of drugs that negative impact sleep. The two common drugs being used are alcohol and caffeine. The half-life of caffeine is approximately 5 hours. Therefore, if you consume a large energy drink (approximately 160mg of caffeine) at 5pm, there will still be 80mg of caffeine in your system at 10pm. Therefore, it’s important to consume your caffeine early in the day, a general rule is no later than 8 hours prior to bed but even earlier would be better. With alcohol, often people believe it helps sleep as they can fall to sleep more easily after consumption. However, it effects sleep quality, therefore limiting consumption to weekends will prevent evening glasses of wine from impacting your sleep in the week.

 

If this does not work, I would recommend seeing a specialist whereby they would analyse your individual case and work out the best method of treatment, potentially recommending certain supplements such as magnesium. Overall, I hope this article has helped inform you of the importance of sleep and how you should prioritise it, in order to aid you in reaching your health and fitness goals.

Load vs Rep Progression

 

 

Reference:

Plotkin et. al. (2022) Progressive Overload Without Progressing the Load? The Effects of Load or Repetition Progression on Muscular Adaptations. PERJ.

 

Details of the Study:

 

  • Trainees performed the same lower-body workout 2x per week for 8 weeks, taking all sets to failure.

 

  • One group lifted within the 8-12 rep range and attempted to increase the load over time, still sticking to this rep range.

 

  • The other group also lifted within the 8-12 rep range initially. However they aimed to perform more reps overtime whilst maintaining the same load.

 

Results:

 

  • It was found that both groups saw increases in muscle thickness of all muscles measured, with no notable trends favouring either condition.

 

  • Furthermore, changes in lean mass of the legs were similar between groups.

 

  • This supports the main know drivers of hypertrophy are mechanical tension and metabolic stress are both great for hypertrophy.

 

Real World Application:

  • This study suggests that progression via load or reps results in similar outcomes, as long as the set is taken to failure. Therefore, if muscle growth is the aim then proximity to failure should be prioritized.

 

  • Once you know you can train to failure successfully and it comes the decision to either up the weight or increase reps. Exercise execution is vital for all lifts and movements it would be useful to hire a personal trainer to coach you on exercise execution.

 

  • A useful strategy would be to perform your compound more mid range movements with the progression of load and your isolation movements towards the shortened and lengthened ranges of the muscle towards higher rep ranges.

Why you may not maintain adherence towards the gym.

Exercise has never been more accessible than it is today. In terms of weight training, most areas in the UK have several gyms for every budget, ranging from £20 per month commercial gyms, right up to country clubs that charge several hundreds of pounds per month. Regarding outdoor sports, there’s plenty of clubs and cycle routes out in public and running solo will always be completely free. Furthermore, exercise from home became massively popular during the COVID 19 Pandemic, with the use of Peloton Bikes, as well as free home-based circuit training on YouTube becoming increasingly popular.

 

Despite this high amount of accessibility, only 6 percent of UK males and 4 percent of females meet the Department of Health’s recommended levels for activity. Why might this be the case? Giving exercise a go in the first place is not so much of an issue. Hence the massive boom in gym memberships every January, as well as the huge purchase of home gym equipment in the pandemic. The main issue is with adherence to these changes to one’s lifestyle. The ability to adhere to a training programme will differ between individuals. However, I have chosen some very common factors which, when stuck to, will make it significantly easier to stick to a training programme.

 

Firstly, there’s enjoyment of the exercise itself. Choosing a form of exercise that you actually enjoy (or in some people’s case, find more tolerable than others), is crucial. Whether it be exercise, food, a hobby, a relationship or a job, if you do not enjoy it then you are not going to stick to it for long. One caveat is that your chosen exercise must align with your goals. For instance, if you want to put on muscle but only love running, then this will not work, you will need to be resistance training regularly. However, there is plenty of flexibility within this: you can choose high vs low reps, the addition of drop-sets, super-sets, rest-pause sets, giant sets etc. So, you can tailor your sessions around your own preferences.

 

 

Next, having high quality goals is key. We can follow the acronym SMARTER to create a high-quality goal. S stands for specific. For instance, we would change the goal ‘I want to be able to run faster’ to ‘I want to improve my 5k PB’. This way, we know to focus the training on 5k performance and not just a general running programme. M stands for measurable. This goal has already partly been made measurable by adding in 5k. However, we can make it even more measurable by saying ‘I want to improve my 5k PB from 25:30, to 23 minutes’. A stands for achievable and R stands for realistic. Having an overwhelming goal can be very disheartening. Wanting to improve your 5k PB from 25 minutes to 23 minutes is very realistic. However, wanting to improve it from 25 minutes to 14 minutes will be near impossible for the majority of people. T stands for Time Bound. You need to set an end date on this goal to help create urgency. An example being, I want to improve my 5k PB from 25 minutes to 23:30 in 3 months is a realistic, time bound goal for a relative novice. E stands for Evaluate. Your goal needs to be frequently evaluated, to see if your training needs to be adjusted part way through, in order to increase your chances of actually achieving the goal. R stands for recognise. You need to recognise the little wins along your way to your end goal and appreciate how far you have come on your journey. If your goal satisfies all these conditions, it should provide a clear and motivating target to aim for.

 

Finally, we need to look at the social aspect of training. Often in life we associate our enjoyment towards an activity closely with the relationships attached to it. For instance, plenty of people enjoy drinking in pubs, however how much they enjoy this activity is hugely dependant on the relationship they have with the people they go with and exercise is no different. If you find yourself unable to adhere to an exercise programme, choose a training partner who you enjoy spending time with. Furthermore, having a training partner gives the added bonus of accountability. If you have a time set to meet someone at the gym, this makes it a lot more likely to happen as opposed to you planning to go alone and then not really feeling like it when the time comes around.

 

Alternatively, you can kill several birds with one stone and hire a good quality personal trainer. This will not only create a positive social aspect to training once a strong relationship is built, they will also help you create effective SMARTER targets and work closely with you to formulate a training programme which aligns with your goals, involving sessions that you actually enjoy performing.

 

Overall, I hope this article has helped identify some key elements for you to focus on when embarking on changing your lifestyle for the better.

Does Strength Training Potentiate Hypertrophy?

Study Reference: Carvalho et. al. (2021) is stronger better? Influence of a strength phase followed by a hypertrophy phase on muscular adaptations in resistance trained men. RES SPORTS MED

 

Study Details:

 

  • Men with an average training age of 4-5 years in the gym performed 4 sets of squats and leg press training 3x per week for 8 weeks

 

  • One group lifted in the 8-12 rep range throughout the entire 8 week programme (hypertrophy only training)

 

  • The other group lifted in the 1-3 rep range for the first 3 weeks, before lifting in the 8-12 rep range for the remaining 5 weeks (strength and hypertrophy training)

 

  • After 3 weeks, the hypertrophy group saw greater quad growth compared to the strength + hypertrophy group- as expected.

 

  • However, at the end of the 8 weeks, the strength + hypertrophy group saw superior growth compared to the hypertrophy only group.

 

Real world Applications:

 

  • The study supports the idea that, if you want to maximise muscle growth, then including a short strength phase prior to a hypertrophy phase may be beneficial.

 

  • However, there are plenty of other studies that show that a strength phase prior to a hypertrophy block shows no additional benefits. Therefore, it’s important to note that more research is required before this becomes reliable.

 

Are Eccentrics more important for Hypertrophy?

Reference to Study: Sato et. al. (2022). Comparison between concentric-only, eccentric-only and concentric-eccentric resistance training of the elbow flexors for their effects on muscle strength and hypertrophy. EUR J APPL PHYSIOL

 

Details of the Study:

 

  • Trainees performed 3×10 bicep curls 2x per week for 5 weeks

 

  • 1 group only performed the concentric portion, another group only performed the eccentric portion and the last group performed both concentric and eccentric portions of the bicep curl.

 

  • Note: The total volume load (weight x number of contractions) was double for the concentric+eccentric group.

 

  • Despite this difference in load, it was found that biceps growth was similar between the concentric+eccentric group & the eccentric only group, whilst the concentric only group saw significantly less group.

 

  • Therefore, the study supports the idea that the eccentric portion of the contraction is more important for growth

 

 

Real world application:

  • Many people chasing muscle growth often rush the eccentric portion of lifts, allowing gravity to take the weight down instead of keeping the muscle under as much tension as they could to control the weight. Therefore, this study is part of the growing evidence why this is highly suboptimal for their training goal.

Benefits of a protein rich diet

When people think about high protein diets, the only thought that may come to mind are your typical huge men in the free weights section walking round with a shaker cup and a stringer top. However, the benefits of a high protein diet go way beyond aiding muscle growth. This article will explore several reasons why a high protein diet can be beneficial for everybody.

 

Firstly, having adequate protein intake will elevate muscle protein synthesis. The benefits of this do include muscle growth for those wanting hypertrophy.

However, it’s also particularly important for anyone over 35 years old. This is because once we reach 35 years old we experience sarcopenia. This can be defined as a natural loss of muscle mass by amount 1% per year. This can be combatted by adequate protein intake and regular resistance training. Starting a high protein diet and regular resistance training younger can have huge benefits in later life. Having a larger amount of muscle mass in old age can help someone keep their independence by allowing them walk without a zimmer frame, climb stairs without a stair lift, and go to the toilet unassisted by a carer. Furthermore, elevated levels of muscle protein synthesis are going to aid the recovery process of any form of physical activity. A common myth is that endurance athletes won’t massively benefit from a high protein diet. However, adequate protein intake helps recovery from all forms of exercise. This is because proteins are the building blocks of muscle tissue. Therefore, stimulating their production (muscle protein synthesis) is going to drastically enhance their recovery.

 

Another benefit of a high protein diet is for bone health. There’s a myth that high protein intake can lead to losses of calcium, and therefore bone density. However, this is not the case as high protein diets have actually been shown to increase bone density. This is going to have benefits to everyone. However, the two populations that will benefit most from this will be the elderly and athletes who participate in impact sports. The elderly is more prone to falls, this means having good bone density is going to be essential in ensuring any injury that is caused is not something which is going to be long term, and something that can contribute to a loss of independence for the rest of their life. This particularly holds true for breaks in the pelvis, as its common for elderly people to not fully recover from this, making walking painful. As a result, they only walk when they absolutely have to, drastically reducing their physical activity levels which, in turn, takes years off their life via accelerated decline of their cardiovascular health.

 

Alternatively, athletes who participate in impact sports are going to have to have bones that can withstand high levels of contact in order to stay injury free. The higher the level of competitor, the more important this will be as higher-level athletes will train more and therefore have to withstand impact more often. Furthermore, higher level athletes may also get paid for performing, meaning that any injury is going to affect their earnings throughout their career. However, if the athlete is already injured, a high protein diet can help accelerate the recovery of the injured tissue. Meaning, that a high protein diet has its place in the prevention and rehabilitation of injuries in sport. It’s also suitable for an injured athlete to replace a given amount of carbohydrates with some more protein, as they will be training less so energy demand is lower.

 

A high protein diet is also essential for anyone trying to lose body fat. Firstly, due to its effects on muscle growth/retention mentioned above, which enhances fat loss in a calorie deficit. Secondly, it provides a higher level of satiety compared with the two other macronutrients (carbohydrates and fats). This will result in less cravings for snacks between meals, making it much easier to achieve a consistent calorie deficit on a daily basis. Lastly, digesting food requires the use of calories, this is called the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF). Protein has a higher level of TEF compared with the two other macronutrients, providing a further benefit to help one achieve a calorie deficit.

 

Overall, I hope these reasons show you how a high protein diet can provide a whole host of benefits to anyone from any sub-section of the population, from the most sedentary of individuals right up to elite athletes. Also, from young children, right up to adults in their elderly years. The ideal way to ensure you are getting enough protein would be to base your meals around a varying your protein source. Some common examples would be eggs for breakfast, chicken for lunch and fish for tea. Each protein source is going to differ in calories so it’s important that you track protein alongside your caloric intake so that your nutrition is in line with your goals.

 

Understanding ‘Cardio’

‘Cardio’ is a term you will hear a lot in the gym. Usually in a negative way, with thoughts of, mundane, prolonged incline walking on a treadmill springing to mind. However, ‘cardio’ encompasses much more than long slow distance training. This article will delve into the many different types of ‘cardio’ and how you can use it to help reach your training goals.

 

Firstly, ‘cardio’ is short for cardiovascular exercise and can be defined as any exercise that increases heart rate and keeps it up. However, heart rate can be raised in so many different ways, all of which bring about a different adaptation. Therefore, it’s important to have your goals clearly defined because a training session to develop aerobic capacity will look very different from sessions used to build speed, speed endurance or lactate threshold. If you aren’t an athlete, it is likely you will be wanting to use CV exercise to improve your overall health or to lose weight. In which case, you will want to familiarise yourself with all types and use some of each in your training throughout the year.

 

When it comes to cardiovascular exercise, our body uses three energy systems. These are called the alactic system, lactic system and aerobic system. There is almost never a time at which all three systems aren’t working simultaneously. However, for most forms of exercise, one energy system will be being used a lot more than the other two.

 

 

If you want to develop speed, then you want your training to be focused on building the alactic system. The alactic system is used for high intensity exercise for up to approximately 13 seconds. It does not use oxygen and instead forms energy from recycling ATP using phosphocreatine stores in the muscle. These stores are very small however, hence why we can only utilise this system for 13 seconds before a prolonged rest (>3 minutes) so that the body can restore phosphocreatine levels. With that in mind, we can apply this to a training sessions to help develop this system. An example being 8 sets of 10 second sprints with 3 minutes rest. Many people don’t feel like they’re ‘working hard enough’ when doing this sort of training as they aren’t out of breath. However, looking back at what this system uses, it does not use oxygen, therefore when we train this system correctly, we do not create an oxygen debt and therefore do not feel out of breath. We can apply specificity to make this session more applicable to the goal. In very simple terms, runners will do this session on a track, cyclists on a bike and rowers on a row-erg or boat and so on.

 

The next system we can develop is the lactic acid energy system. The popular ‘HIT’ training falls into this category. This energy system derives energy from glucose. However, the oxygen debt from high intensity exercise results in lactic acid being produced, causing pain and this is why this energy can only be the predominant energy system for up to 3 minutes. When training, work intervals will be between 30 seconds and 3 minutes with rest intervals no longer than the work interval. This is so that the lactic acid cannot fully clear prior to the next interval, resulting in a gradually increasing tolerance to lactic acid. This is useful training for events which use this energy system such as 800m running. Sessions for this energy system can look very different. For example, 3 sets of 30 second sprints with 15 seconds rest. As well as, 6 sets of 3 minutes working hard with 3 minutes rest. Despite targeting the same energy system, the latter session is more aerobic, so it’s important to know what event you are targeting and tailoring your sessions towards that goal.

 

The final energy system is the aerobic energy system. This utilises oxygen and is best developed at around 70% of your maximum heart rate. An example for a 40-year-old would be (220-age) = Max Heart rate estimation. (220-40) = 180. 70% of 180= 126bpm. This will be the predominant energy system for any exercise lasting over 3 minutes. Therefore, this is going to be the predominant energy system for events such as 5km run or above.

It is worth noting, that if you are using cardiovascular exercise for general health then it is most productive to add a bit of each type of energy system training throughout the year. However, adherence is key, therefore it’s important to prioritise the type that you enjoy most and fits into your lifestyle.

Time Efficient Training

 

Designing a time efficient hypertrophy training programme

 

Why?

 

During certain periods of everyone’s life, life takes over and training needs to take a back seat. However, this should very rarely result in complete cessation of training. Making your schedule as time efficient as possible can be a real tool in helping you still carry out effective training sessions during busy periods in your life. Here are some factors that must be considered and altered when doing so:

 

 

Training Factor How to make it Time efficient and why?
Exercise Selection Primarily Choose Bi-Lateral Compound Lifts, as these will hit the most muscle groups and are typically the lifts you can easily load.
Set Structure Implement Supersets, Drop-Sets and Rest-Pause sets to increase volume without increasing overall session time by much.
Inter-set Rest Minimise inter-set rest. Typically, down to 1 minute.
Volume Implement minimum effective volume for growth, this is dependant one each muscle group and will vary slightly between individuals.