Opening Times:

6.00 AM - 21.00 PM

Call Us:

077699 02529

Short vs Long rest periods for Muscle Growth

Reference: Schoenfield et. al. (2016) Longer Interset Rest Periods Enhance Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy in Resistance Trained Men.

 

Information on the study:

 

  • Trainees with at least 6 months resistance training experience were split into 2 groups

 

  • Both groups performed 7 compound lifts, for 3 sets of 8-12 reps, 3x per week, for 8 weeks

 

  • 1 group rested for 1 minute between sets, while the other rested for 3 minutes between sets

 

 

  • It was found that the longer rest group saw superior gains in all muscle groups when compared to the shorter rest group.

 

  • This supports the idea that longer rest periods are superior for hypertrophy

 

 

Application to real world:

  • With longer rest periods come longer overall sessions durations, unless you cut overall volume.
  • Overall volume has been shown to be a significant factor in muscle hypertrophy
  • Therefore, it may be worth only applying these long rest periods if you have the extra time free in your schedule to allow you to do so.

Is scale weight an accurate way to track progress?

When people embark on a fitness journey, whether that be to lose body fat or gain muscle mass, the common tool to track their progress people use is how much the number on the scales changes over time. However, is this the most accurate way to track progress towards body composition goals? Just like most questions relating to health and fitness, the answer is- it depends.

 

The first thing to remember is that scale weight is the total weight of all the tissues in your body and not just muscle and fat. Therefore, it is not the most accurate measurement when it comes to measuring body composition. Other methods include skin fold callipers, a cheap tool which measures body fat percentage. However, despite its low cost, the skill needed to take an accurate measurement makes this a fairly inaccessible method of measuring body composition. The gold standard of body composition measurement in a DEXA Scanner. Although, this is a very expensive piece of equipment, only really seen in medical facilities due to its use in also identifying bone density and helping diagnose patients with osteoporosis. Due to other methods being inaccessible, scales are by far the most common tool used by the general population to assess progress in their body composition goals, so what can be done to ensure you are getting the most reliable and accurate changes to body fat and muscle as you can with scales?

 

Any tool is only effective when you know how to use it and scales are no different. Weighing yourself on Monday at 7am and then again on Sunday at 8pm will not give an accurate measurement for how your weight has changed over the course of the week, due to factors that will be discussed in this article. Therefore, if you are to use scales accurately, I would recommend taking daily measurements, first thing in the morning each day and then calculating the mean average each week and compare each week’s average from the last, to get a more accurate measurement of how much your weight is changing due to changes to fat or muscle tissue.

 

So, what factors can influence the weight on the scales besides from muscle and fat tissue? Firstly, there’s water retention. The amount of water our bodies hold will hold will change throughout the day, as well as day by day. Reasons for this include carbohydrate and sodium intake, which cause our bodies to hold more water- not add on fat tissue (a common misconception in, the case of carbohydrates, spread by the misinformed and keto zealots). Therefore, if your diet is more heavily carbohydrate based for a few days, then you may add some weight. However, this will be due to the added water retention from an increased intake of carbohydrates, not an added amount of fat tissue.

 

Next, there’s the amount of food you are currently digesting. First thing in the morning, is when you have the least food in your digestive system as it will have been 9-10 hours since your last meal. Therefore, food being digested cannot influence your scale weight, unlike if you weighed yourself shortly after a meal.

 

Besides from keeping these variables at bay, what else can be done to improve the reliability and accuracy of scales measuring body composition? Firstly, you could also use a measuring tape and measure your Hip to Waist Ratio. This is productive because most people hold the majority of fat around their Waist area. Therefore, if you are trying to gain muscle mass and you put yourself in a calorie surplus and put on weight, you may believe you are getting closer to your goal. However, if you take measurements are realise your Waist measurement is increasing at a faster rate than your Hips, then this indicates you are putting on fat faster than muscle mass. This information can then lead to you making productive changes to your training and/or nutrition.

 

Next, it’s important to ensure you are setting yourself up for success. One way to do this is to ensure you are consuming enough protein and tracking it. Ensuring adequate protein intake with a suitable resistance training programme and sleep will ensure that any weight loss will not be due to loss of muscle mass. Alternatively, when gaining muscle, will ensure you are adding as much muscle mass as you can in the calorie surplus you are in.

 

In conclusion, scales are far from perfect when it comes to measuring body composition goals. However, with the correct information, it can be a very useful tool to help you stay on track when pursuing your goals.

 

Fast Bulk vs Slow Bulk

The Study: Garthe et. al. (2013), Effect of Nutritional Intervention on Body Composition And Performance In Elite Athletics. EUR J SPORT SCI

 

 

  • 39 elite athletes recruited for the study and split into 2 groups.

 

  • For 8-12 weeks (dependant on length of their off-season) One group completed a fast bulk (high calorie surplus) and the another completed a slow bulk with a much more moderate calorie surplus. Both groups had adequate protein in their diets to facilitate hypertrophy.

 

  • The higher calorie group gained weight at a rate of 0.4% of Bodyweight per week whilst the moderate calorie group gained weight at a rate of 0.2% of bodyweight per week.

 

  • Unsurprisingly, the fast bulk group gained more than twice the amount of bodyweight than the slow bulk group

 

  • However, there was only a small difference in lean mass (High calorie group averaged 1.7kg lean mass gained whilst moderate calorie group 1.2kg)

 

  • Also, the fast bulk group put on 5 times as much body fat (1.1kg vs 0.2kg) compared to the slower bulk group.

 

  • This study supports the idea that a smaller calorie surplus is better for maintaining a low body fat percentage in a bulk. However, if muscle gain is the sole goal, like open weight category powerlifters, then a faster bulk may be more beneficial.

Principles of Training – Individualisation

Each and every one of us is physically and mentally different. This is why, when it comes to training, everyone’s approach needs to be bespoke to them, if it’s going to be optimal.

 

One of these factors will be their starting point, in terms of ability, in their fitness journey. For example, if two people come to a personal trainer saying they wish to build better whole-body strength, then both will be assessed to see where their starting point is at. If it becomes clear one athlete has a proportionately stronger upper body than their lower body, and the other person vice versa then despite the same goal, their programmes will look different. The first person will need a more lower body focussed approach whereas the other person would need the opposite, this is an example of applying the principle of individualisation.

 

Another key factor to consider is lifestyle variations. Everyone has a life outside of the gym, all of which will include factors which influence their performance inside the gym. Therefore, this needs to be considered when programming. To give another example, imagine someone wants to become generally fitter all round. If they’re a labourer then you need to consider that their job is very taxing, therefore workload needs to be managed more carefully as to avoid overtraining and injury.

 

 

Next, there’s anatomical variants between each individual which can affect performance in the gym. For example, someone with a larger rib cage convexity, steeper sternum angle and short limbs is going to have a better chance at being better at the Bench Press compared to someone with a smaller ribcage, flatter sternum angle and long limbs, due to the first person having a shorter range of motion to achieve a full repetition and the line of pull on the pecs from insertion to origin. Another way in which anatomical differences influence training, can be down to active range. Everyone’s active range for a given movement is different. A common example would be overhead mobility. If someone cannot lift their hands directly above their heads (180 degrees of shoulder flexion) then trying to perform an overhead press is going to take them out of their active range and they will lean back to achieve the overhead position. This person will be putting a lot of stress on joint structures outside of this range and also increase the risk of injury when lifting outside of it. Therefore, consider this individual difference and give them an exercise that challenges them in their active range, for instance an incline press, set to a height whereby they are working in the active range that they can achieve.

 

Next, there’s two factors that link together. These are tolerance to training loads and responsiveness to training load. One’s tolerance to training load is going to help you in the initial phase of deciding things like how frequently they should train and how demanding each session should be. Their responsiveness to training will link closely with progressive overload. So, someone who responds very quickly to training will need to increase their training load more frequently than a slow responder. It’s important however that progressive overload is applied correctly to both people to prevent any from overtraining or undertraining.

 

Finally, the psychology behind training must also be taken into consideration. As with most things, intrinsic motivation is the key to long term adherence and this is achieved when someone feels competent, so the training programme must not feel too difficult for the participant. They also need relatedness, this comes from good relationships attached with the activity. Therefore, having great rapport with your PT, or attending the gym with a friend is a great idea. It’s also a reason why exercise groups with a more ‘community feel’ are more popular, the biggest example of this being the rapid growth of CrossFit over the past 10-15 years. Also, the participant must feel like they have autonomy, this can come via a number of ways such as having the freedom to train when they want, as well as being able to have a say in what they do during sessions (if they want that).

 

Overall, there’s many factors here to consider, it’s important to manage them all carefully, in order to ensure you are getting the most out of your training.

Principles of Training – Progressive Overload

The principles of training are factors that should be applied to any training programme to ensure optimal adaptations. These principles include: Progressive Overload, Reversibility, Specificity, Individualisation and Periodization. To delve deeper into each of these, I will be writing an in-depth article on each, with this one discussing Progressive Overload.

 

When people start going to the gym, many start by feeling lost. Some will then look for guidance on what exercises to do, perhaps by going online, or to a friend to write them a few sessions to complete. For a number of weeks this plan may produce very good results with the trainee becoming stronger and possibly adding more muscle and/or reducing fat if following the correct nutritional protocol. However, if the programme doesn’t change over time then the progress it provides the trainee with will plateau.

 

This is where progressive overload needs to be applied. Progressive overload can be defined as the gradual increase in stress placed on the musculoskeletal system and nervous system over a period of time.

 

So how can a programme be appropriately changed in order to continue to bring about desired adaptations? There’s 4 variables we want to look at changing in order to continue progressing. These are: Volume, Intensity, Frequency and Interval Duration. Which variable you look to increase will differ depending on someone’s goals, which will be discussed below.

 

Firstly, volume= (sets x reps). Therefore, to increase volume, the sets or reps you perform for a given exercise will need to increase. Increases in volume have been shown to be a significant factor for increased hypertrophy. Therefore, anyone who has hypertrophy as their goal may find their time is most productively spent when choosing volume as the variable to progress in their plan. The amount of volume to increase will differ between individuals but as a rule of them, small increases such as 1 set per exercise every 2-4 weeks will provide an adequate increase in stimulus. However, everyone’s time is limited and even if you do have all day free, no one wants to be in the gym for hours. Therefore, that is when it is time to look at other variables such as intensity.

 

Intensity can be defined as the percentage value of maximal functional capacity. In the terms of weight training, this would be how close to your 1 rep max you are. With cardiovascular training, this would be how close you are to maximal exertion over a given distance, e.g. 30 seconds per km slower than 5k race pace. Increasing intensity is a great way to progress your training without adding any time to the sessions, which will be productive for anyone stuck for time in their day. However, as with every principle, people’s goals matter. For instance, if someone’s goal is to run a faster marathon, then increasing intensity of most of their runs will not provide beneficial adaptations.

 

Thirdly, you can increase the frequency of how often you train. This is as simple as training from 3 times per week to 4 times per week. By doing this, you are also increasing volume. It is worth considering though, that by increasing number of sessions, it may be productive to change your training split. For example, if your 3 sessions originally consisted of 3 whole body sessions, if you increase to 4 sessions it may be better for you to have two lower body days and two upper body days, in order to give certain muscle groups adequate time to recover before being trained again.

 

Next, we can change interval/ rest duration. The easiest way to make a session more difficult whether it’s resistance training or cardiovascular training, is to reduce the duration of rest periods between sets of lifting. However, once again, this is context dependant. For instance, to progress a training programme where increasing maximal strength is the goal, reducing rest will not be beneficial. This is because in order to increase max. strength, lifting weights close to 1RM makes up a lot of the session. This is not achievable if rest periods are short, therefore it would be more productive to keep interval duration the same and increase intensity.

 

Lastly, it is worth mentioning that only changing one variable at a time is probably wise, as increasing multiple variables at once increases the risk of overtraining. Furthermore, keeping the exercises the same can be useful as they act as the control variable. If they change to often then how can you be sure you are actually progressing certain variables when different exercises provide different stressors to our bodies.

Group Physique Camps

Intensive 8 Week Group Personal Training

What are the Intensive Physique Camps?

 

Scientific approach to resistance training and nutritional programming in a group personal training setting with the focus on decreasing body fat and increasing lean muscle mass with our professional coaches.

What will I achieve from signing up to the camps?

  • You will learn how to resistance train correctly under the guidance of a professional coach and accelerate your progression.
  • Learn what meals and food to consume, we workout your calories and macros based on you as an individual.
  • Supplemental and lifestyle advice based on an assessment.
  • Support from your coaches and your community.
  • Build positive relationships
  • A fun way to achieve a lean and strong physique.

What times are the camps on?

Monday – 9:15 am, 8:00 pm.

Tuesday – 6:30 am

Wednesday – 9:15 am, 8:00 pm.

Thursday – 6:30 am

Friday – 6:30 am, 9:15 am, 8:00 pm.

Saturday – 6:30 am

You select your times for each week and you commit to those times for the duration of the 8 weeks.

For example the groups will be:

Monday/Wednesday/Friday – 9:15 am
Monday/Wednesday/Friday – 8:00 pm
Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday – 6:30 am

 

How much is the investment?

£449.99

What happens once I pay?

The first session we do with you is an assessment, we take some before and after photos, and assess your mobility stability and strength so that we can devise a training program for you.

We provide you the quality of coaching from a 1-1 personal training session to a group session which is a lot more affordable. We cap the session at 15 people per class, 5 clients per 1 coach. This enables us to be able to focus on the execution of your exercises.

  • We base your exercise program on you as and individual based on your first initial assessment.
  • 8 weeks of focused coaching 3 times per week. (24 sessions)
  • We tailor your nutritional plan towards your overall goals and lifestyle.
  • Lifestyle and supplementation advice based on the data we extract for our assessment process.
  • 24/7 support from our coaches via watsapp group.
  • Discounted 1-1 personal training sessions at Soma Fitness.

How do I sign up to the camps?

 

Contact us and one of our team will let you know when it begins and will guide you through the payment process. You pay for the camps up front and once this is done you select the which times you wish to commit too, we then send you a questionnaire to fill in and send back to us so our coaches can process it and extract the important data.

 

What is expected from me when I begin the camps?

 

  • During the sessions give all your effort and attention to your coaches and other members of the camp.
  • Be respectful to other members of the camp, the gym can be an intimidating place for some people so we strive to make a positive and progressive environment for all.
  • Follow your coaches nutritional plan, this is going to be massive if you wish to make changes to your physique, you will be accountable to your coaches during this process and we are there to help you for the whole duration of the camp.
  • If you have a bad day let us know we learn so much from the bad days so be open and honest we are in it together.
  • Enjoy every session and have fun! It’s not a boot camp you won’t have a coach shouting at you aggressively our coaches will be coaching you and encouraging you to be the strongest version of yourself.

If your interested and would like to know when the next camp begins please contact us and we can let you know the start date and availability.

Should you track your nutritional intake?

Firstly, I would like to say if you’re serious about driving fat loss or muscle hypertrophy then absolutely yes you will have more chance of success in the initial phases at least if you are tracking your consumption. If you have long term success tracking calories and macronutrients, then you will know how effective it is in dialling in on your goals. However, from personal experience of managing my own and clients, nutrition, tracking calories and micronutrients day by day there can be some flaws to this method to help one stay on track with your nutrition.

 

The first, and main, reason I am not a supporter of tracking in the long term is that it requires a lot of time which many people often cannot fit into a busy schedule. For example, many people at work 9-5, have children to look after around that, as well as trying to make time for exercise and a healthy social life. If you are already stuck for time, the last thing you need is to be compelled to open up an app and make a diary entry every single time you eat.

 

Secondly, along with time, there are certain times where it’s simply inconvenient. If you are enjoying a few drinks at the weekend with your friends, not many people want to open MyFitnessPal every time someone gets another round in. Not only that, you’re probably going to forget to do so after the 6th!

 

Thirdly, it’s unnecessarily complex. Many apps will have you tracking calories, carbohydrates, protein and fats and lead you to believe that you need to hit each to the exact figure recommended. In reality, for anyone with body composition goals (building muscle and/or lose fat), carbohydrates and fats consumed do not significantly influence one’s results. As long as you hit your daily calorie target within 100kcal and have at least 2.2g protein per kg of bodyweight, then grams of carbohydrates and fats consumed simply does not matter (for body composition, for overall health it can but that’s a topic for a different blog).

 

These reasons are often the cause of many people giving up on tracking their nutrition. This in turn gives them a sense of failure and exhaustion towards making healthy nutritional choices, sending many back to previous bad habits

 

 

 

Aside from the impractical element of tracking, there’s the inaccuracy that often comes with it. Unless you are weighing every single food and drink that enters your body to the gram then you are not going to be 100% accurate. This is a big issue with more calorie dense foods. For instance, ‘A splash of olive oil’ is a subjective term. To some, this could mean 15ml and for some it could be 50ml. The difference in calories for this 123kcal vs 410kcal. This difference of almost 300kcal is enough to tip someone from a small calorie deficit back to their maintenance, without realising. Learning the skills of how to track and be accurate with is something that requires an element of coaching in itself and we have recently begun to provide out clients with guides on how to track using my fitness pal which is probably the most user-friendly app.

 

Lastly, another reason I do not like the tracking method is that it does not take into account micronutrients. These essential vitamins and minerals make a huge difference to overall health, helping you stay clear of chronic diseases. However, on tracking apps, 500kcal from a small pizza is the same as 500kcal from a chicken breast and vegetables.

 

So how do you ensure you’re making the correct nutritional choices for your goals?

 

Personally, I find that the most effective method for this is to plan ahead. Organising your nutrition on a Sunday for example, or whenever you get time, formulate yourself a meal plan for the week ahead. Plan out what you are going to eat and when, use tracking devices and labels to help you calculate protein and calories, forget about carbohydrates and fats if a change in body composition is your goal as a beginner if you are new to tracking keep it as simple as you can. Also, plan each day to have at least 5 different portions of fruit and vegetables to ensure you are consuming all the micronutrients you need.

 

If you keep note of how many calories and protein meals you often consume contains, then a few weeks in, you will have a menu of all of your meals with the portion sizes for each meal and you can continue adding meals to your plan for the week, as protein and calories will already by noted, saving you a lot of time in the long run. If you want to smash your goals this method of creating your menu based on your protein and calorie requirements will in the initial phases be a little bit of work and planning however after a good 4 weeks of doing so you will have all the tools required for you to keep your nutrition consistent which in the world of weight loss or building a physique is the most important driver in which will determine lasting success.

 

As for going out socialising, 100% accuracy cannot be achieved. However, knowing how many calories are in 1 glass of your chosen drink, and knowing roughly how much you drink will be much better than failing to track at all. If you know that you will be going out over the weekend you can then reduce calories in the week to make up for it. (Check out our blog on calorie banking for more on this).

 

Similar to training, planning ahead often yields much more effective results than being reactive day to day.

Do this for BIGGER TRICEPS!!!!!

Do this for BIGGER TRICEPS!!!

When training our arms we have to consider the anatomical carry angle of the individual. 99.9% of the time the little rope in the gym is not going to cut the mustard unless you have the shoulder width of a 3 year old girl.

Our coaches here at Soma Fitness take all of these things into account when programming sessions for our personal training clients. These fine details are what separate the average coaches in most facilities to the high level personal trainers that Soma Fitness provides. If we take you through an exercises we can explain to you the intent behind why we are doing it.

The most important FREE muscle building component that everyone should be prioritising.


SLEEP
When consulting with individuals within their fitness and physique goals, A few questions we get asked very often are the following:
What are the best supplements I take to help me build muscle?
What is the best macro split?
What is the best training split I should follow?
How many reps should I aim for?

A lot of times people deprioritise the most important element that if neglected, the best training program from the best coach, with the best supplement protocol will not outperform the importance of a good quality night of sleep.
I will always answer their questions but with the phrase but if you do not prioritise sleep hygiene then the last thing you will do is build muscle.
What are the best supplements I take to help me build muscle?
(in my humble opinion) “Creatine, it has the most research completed on it than any other supplement. What ever can make you relax and place you in a parasympathetic state for the time that you are not training so you can optimise protein synthesis, after we have looked at certain lifestyle factors like SLEEP, stress and digestion then we can know what will be important for you as an individual.”

What is the best macro split?
“The one you can keep most consistent over a long period of time.”

What is the best training split I should follow?
“The one that you can recover from and have more frequency on each muscle group through the course of the week”.

The truth is and I know people hate hearing this is that there is no best of anything when it comes to human physiology, biochemistry, anatomical variance, and genetics. What is best for one individual will not be optimal for another. One thing I have learnt through over a decade of practice is that what is the best for one individual may not be what is best for another. Our linage and genetics all play a factor in many ways.

Why do we need to sleep?

– Improved Cognitive Function (adherence & will power)
– Optimal performance and recovery
– Impaired metabolic function due to lack of sleep
– Managing blood sugar levels
– Immune health
-Reduce inflammation
– Endocrine system function (optimal hormone production and homestasis)
– Increase adrenal function

Tips to improve sleep quality?

– Sleep in a pitch-dark room (blackout blinds/eye mask)
– Manage noise in the room (ear plugs)
– Manage stimulant intake (no coffee after 1 pm)
– Do not eat a heavy meal too close to bed
– Practise Nasal Breathing before bed (10 mins box breathing exercise inhale 4 secs: hold 4 secs: Exhale 4 secs: hold 4 secs)
– Create sleep habits
– Have your bedtime at the same time every night including weekends (Or within a 1-hour window)
– Post prandial walks after your evening meal
– Maintain health blood sugar balance (balanced meals throughout the day)
– Manage your screen time, try and cut out 2 hours before bed
– Limit exposure to blue light. Blue light glasses in the evenings our recommendation: www.blublox.com
– Maintain a room temperature of around 20-22 degrees Celsius
– Do not make the bedroom a centre for entertainment.
– Do not watch scary movies or highly stimulating programmes right before bed.
– Workout hard
– Take power naps or use a meditation app for 10-20 mins of relaxation during your day
– minimise stressors
– Read a book before bed