GymBug

I've caught it. Fortunately, it's not treatable.

Archive for the tag “training”

Edinburgh Marathon Festival 2015

Hi there!

I’ve already mentioned in a post a while that I was running the Edinburgh Marathon Festival 10K with my family, but I thought I’d tell you a little more about it!

There are 6 different events taking place on Saturday May 30th and Sunday May 31st. On Saturday the 10K, 5K and Junior Races take place. On the Sunday it’s the Marathon, Half-Marathon and Marathon Hairy Haggis Team Relay runs. There really is a distance for everyone!
Prices vary and can be found on their website. The price includes the run itself with all associated entertainment, a technical wicking finisher’s T-shirt, medal, accurate chip timing, training plan, online results and a race recovery pack! There is also stalls in the finisher’s area with companies marketing their products as well as delicious food and drink to be purchased! The course also has numerous water and energy stations, providing hydration and energy gels (the energy gels are for those running the Half Marathon or Marathon).

EMF 2015

The whole event is in support primarily of MacMillan Cancer Support, who you can choose to run and fundraise for when you sign up. You can of course choose to run for your own charity! It’s a great way to raise some money and get fit! My family are fundraising as a group for MacMillan because cancer has hit our family quite hard and we all know the value of support for the sufferers and their loved ones. I know it’s a big ask, but if you can spare anything please donate on our JustGiving page.

MacMillan are a brilliant chairty seeking to provide help and support. I can’t describe them any better than they have on their website;
“No one should face cancer alone. So when you need someone to turn to, we’re here. Right from the moment you’re diagnosed, through your treatment and beyond, we’re a constant source of support, giving you the energy and inspiration to help you take back control of your life.”

                                                                      Enough said.

As someone who has watched loved ones go through diagnosis, treatment and (unfortunately not everytime) recovery, I know how important a solid support system is and how valued it is by everyone involved. MacMillan deserve funding and are a key source of care for those suffering cancer and their loved ones.

So if you’re looking for some fantastic motivation, go for the Edinburgh Marathon Festival 2015! Get your running shoes and get going!

Gym Bug

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Slow or Fast; who wins this weights race?

Hi there!

Another weight training session today and I tried a slightly different technique based on some research I’d done. I got curious as to whether it was best to do fast repetitions or slow ones, so I researched it and tried out a slower routine today than normal.

Women’s Health Mag has discussed that both can have great benefits for the body. The key is the point in your training you’re at. If you’re a beginner, going fast will likely lead to injury. Going slow is also great if you’re looking to build strength. What you want to do is really focus on slowing down on the “release” stage of the lift. For example, doing a bicep curl, really focus on slowing the rate on the way down rather than on the way up.  By going too fast, too soon you risk injury to muscles and joints, especially if your technique isn’t quite on form. However, when performing the repetitions it’s best that you slow it down on the ‘release’ phase. I tried it today and I could definitely feel more of a burn, particularly with my abs. By doing the repetitions slower (for example, with a bicycle crunch) I could really feel my abs working hard.

Men’s Fitness also discuss this and state that lifting slow will see you develop more muscle mass. Again, it’s all about going slow on the ‘release’ phase of the repetition, this way you’re really working the muscles hard and developing more strength. Don’t worry ladies though, going slow won’t mean walking out the gym one day a bodybuilder, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it takes more than just lifting to get those types of muscles. Females lack testosterone, which is what’s needed to give you those bulging muscles. Always remember female bodybuilders or very muscular females are probably taking supplements to enable that type of muscle growth!

But does that mean fast isn’t beneficial? Not at all, however, it’s only wise to use faster repetitions when you’ve got the overall technique nailed down. This will help prevent injury. It’s also pertinent you’ve got muscle strength to maintain a safe technique whilst going through the more intense workout. By going faster you improve power and burn more calories but you need to be physically capable of maintaining a proper technique when more fatigued. By forcing the weight to move faster you’re using more energy, so you will notice you’re more tired, sweaty and out of breath by following this technique.  Be careful though!  Jerky, poor controlled movements will cause injury. You must remain in control of the weights to reap the rewards!

Here are a couple of exercises you can do both fast and slow;

  • Kettlebell Swings
  • Bicep Curls
  • Squats (maybe not too fast if you’re using a bar)
  • Push Ups
  • Bicycle Crunches
  • Tricep Dips

I’m going to do a session of 10 slow repetitions of different exercises, then next session try 15 repetitions in the same time frame for the same exercises. This way I’ll get to experience both! Hopefully it’s a new way to mix up my workouts. You should give it a try too!

Almost Friday. Keep going!

Gym Bug

The importance of a well-earned rest

Hi there!

Sunday is my scheduled rest day and I thought it was an opportune time to do a post about why these rest days are so important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I take one rest day a week (on average) but recommended exercise is between 3-6, so you can take more depending on your schedule, goals and other variables.

The type of recovery I’m discussing here is long-term recovery. Which refers to the scheduled planning of rest days throughout the exercise schedule. This will be the focus of the post.
Short-term recovery refers to the recovery immediately after your work-out and includes active recovery. Active recovery is doing low-intensity exercise to help the body recover immediately after intense exercise and also the days after.

So what makes them so important?

Professional athletes take rest days too. They appreciate the importance in allowing the body (and the mind) to recover, repair and strengthen. For those who do not complete on a professional level, it’ also a great way to maintain  a better balance amongst leisure, work and family life.
Recovery and rest is when the real training happens. Your body is able to adapt to the stress of exercise, replenish energy stores and repair damaged tissues (for example, the breakdown of muscle).

Not allowing for adequate recovery opens a very wide door for injury, fatigue and illness. Lack of recovery leads to overtraining. Continuous training can actually hinder your performance. Overtraining results in depression, lack of energy, feeling drained, muscle and/or joint pain, insomnia, headaches, decreased immunity, injury, loss of appetite amongst other things. Overall, rest days are critical if you want avoid overtraining. By going too hard, you risk taking yourself completely out of exercise for an extended period of time, which is exactly what you don’t want.
I can give a personal example of this when I engaged in solid rowing training for 7 days a week for weeks on end. By the time January rang around I was struggling to walk without considerable pain in my right leg. Two doctors appointments and a physio visit later, I was diagnosed with a Grade 2 Groin Strain. 8 physio sessions and weeks off of cardio had me feeling annoyed, frustrated and disappointed. Trust me, it’s not worth it.

Rest days are also good for you mentally. I can’t imagine anything worse than having to get to the gym every single day. Whilst I love the post-exercise feeling I do value being able to lie-in and relax a bit more on my rest days. It keeps the gy from being repetitive, monotonous and downright dull.

How should I incorporate it into my schedule?

There are different methods for incorporating rest days. You can do what I do and select a specific day to have off, changing it as required by your commitments. You can also just pick and choose week by week depending on your mood (I’d be wary of this, as you may end up taking more than planned).

Men’s Fitness have a great article about rest days and recovery for weight training. Whilst this is a male fitness magazine I think the principles are applicable to both genders in their weight training schedule. To sum the article up, they suggest having “deload weeks” every 4-6 weeks, where you reduce the intensity to allow the body to recover. They also recommend incorporating stretching, core exercises and bodyweight movements into these weeks.
They also suggest taking 1-2 weeks a year for “rest weeks”. Here they emphasise a focus on doing things you enjoy, not exercise. Go walking, hiking, leisurely cycle, socialise, etc. These are really for after very intense sessions such as a marathon. However, I think it’s a great addition to any workout calendar. You get to escape the gym!

Women’s Health Magazine (keeping the balance) also recommend rest days. They state that strength does not come from training, it comes from the body rebuilding itself after the training. Their recommendations for rest and recovery include 1-2 rest days a week, alternating between intensities (e.g HIIT one day a week, endurance another), nourish your muscles (sleep right, eat right, stretch).

Again, rest days are needed, being a “gym rat” will not see you lose weight faster. It’s possible you may even retain more weight. Exercise releases the stress hormone cortisol which encourages fat storage. If you put your body under intense stress 7 days a week, you’re increasing the levels of cortisol in the body, encouraging your body to hold onto precious fat as a survival instinct.

Active recovery is a good way to allowing your body to recover too. On your rest day you could go for a walk as a way to get out the house, get some fresh air etc. You can also engage in low-intensity classes such as pilates and yoga. This way you are allowing recovery without any need to feel guilty. However, having a rest day is  NECESSITY so guilt shouldn’t really come into it (but I get that it can). Personally, especially when I’m home, I do some form of active recovery because I own a dog, so I walk him.

So, evidence has proven you do not need to confine yourself to a gym 7 days a week! Rejoice!

Hope everyone is having a great weekend and preparing to crack open their advent calendars tomorrow!

Gym Bug

Sources;

http://sportsmedicine.about.com/cs/overtraining/a/aa062499a.htm

http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/sampleworkouts/a/RestandRecovery.htm

http://www.builtlean.com/2012/06/05/overtraining/

 

 

 

H.I.I.T

Hi there!

This is anther one of my older post from my previous blog, but I’ve mentioned HIIT a lot so I thought it’s best to upload again! HIIT standards for High Intensity Interval Training and is an excellent way to get your heart rate and fat burning capabilities through the roof!

The idea behind HIIT is simple; short bursts of high intensity activity followed by a short rest, this is repeated until the desired time is up. The best thing about HIIT is that you can do it with anything! (Note: when I say “on” I mean as hard as you can go, when I say “off” I mean recovery where you allow your heart rate to drop). I thought I’d convince the un-convinced by doing some research to get some scientific evidence in front of your eyes!

Simplyshredded refer to a study conducted in Laval University. They kept it basic, 1 group followed a 15-week HIIT training plan and one followed a 20-week steady state cardio plan. Steady-state group burned 15,000 more calories than HIIT group BUT HIIT group lost significantly more body fat! The science behind it is that because HIIT is tougher on the body, it requires more energy (calories) to repair itself afterwards. HIIT essentially has a more effective after burn.

Still not convinced? The same post also stated that short bursts of high intensity cardio help us hold onto our hard-earned muscle mass! You just need to take a look at Bradley Wiggins legs (who competes in long, steadier races such the Tour De France) compared to those of Sir Chris Hoy (who does short bursts of intense cycling around a velodrome).

All of this is further emphasized by Jim Stoppani, PhD, who refers to the same studies conducted in Laval University and Ontario University as well. Just  do a little research yourself if you need further convincing. However, please give these (or your own versions) a go, HIIT is amazing!

Running;
If you’re interested in giving HIIT a go with running to mix it up and maximize calorie burning then best start off with an “easy” HIIT run to get a sense of you’re own capabilities. Doing this until you pass out is ill-advised, for obvious reasons. When I gave it a go prior to being injured I ran hard for 30 seconds and took 30 seconds off. I repeated this until I had doing it for 15- minutes in total. The run itself was 30- minutes (7.5- minutes warm up, 15- minutes HIIT, 7.5- minutes cool down). HIIT is great because it never gets easier! You can alter the length of the intervals or the intensity as you see appropriate!

I now tend to do 15-20 minutes of HIIT (1 minute on, 1 minute off) with 5 minute warm and 5 minute cool down.

Cycling;
This would be applicable to a typical spin class for example. It’s intense, short bursts followed by recovery. Then you sob as you’re told to do it all again. If you’re not part of a class you can still do this, indoors or outside! I have 2 sessions, each lasting 45-minutes.

Session 1: This is a sprint session. Take 5-minutes to gradually increase your heart rate through increasing the resistance. Once the 5-minutes are up it’s 35-minutes of work! I tend to follow the same (monotonous, yet effective) pattern, 1.5-minutes on with 1-minute off. You repeat this a total of 10 times, then it’s a 5-minute cool down. (Note: feel free to lengthen the warm-up and cool-down as you see fit).

Session 2: This one uses hill & seated climbs, sprints and jumps (alternate between 10-15 seconds standing, followed by 10-15 seconds seated, repeat for desired length). Again, I do a 5-minute warm up, 35-minutes of work, 5-minute cool down. The 35-minutes of work consist of 2.5-minutes of either a hill climb, seated climb, sprint or jump. Mix it up to enhance the work-out. This is harder, in my opinion, than the solid sprinting because it’s uses different muscles, for example, when I hill climb there’s a lot of burning on my glutes, which is less severe when I do a seated climb.

Aerobics;
Aerobics aren’t new and they’re great, but not as challenging as they could be. This is where “HIIT-ifying” it comes in. Give yourself 30-minutes and split it into 5-minute warm up, 20-minutes work, 5-minute cool down. I’ve written out an example below for a HIIT workout I do (no equipment needed, but if it has a * next to it, you can use a dumbbell(s) to make it harder). Work for 40 seconds with a 5 second rest between each exercise, then take a 1-minute rest between each set.

Repeat each set three times. It’s 3.25-minutes per set with 5-minutes break in total, so it’s 19.5-minutes of work! Remember 40 seconds on, 5 seconds rest between exercises with a 1-minute rest between each set.

Set 1:
Jumping squats
Press ups
Bicycle crunches
Russian twists*
High knees

Set 2:
Running on the spot (go as hard as you can)
Tricep dips (overhead tricep extensions with a dumbbell works too)
Push up plank (explained below)
Superman (explained below)
Burpees (explained below)

A really good idea is to mix it up! Write out your own HIIT aerobics plan that targets those large muscle groups you’re aiming to improve/tone/strengthen/shrink. Now a quick explanation on some of the moves.

Push up plank- start in a normal plank position with your elbows on the floor. Move into a raised plank position with your hands on the floor and your arms straight. Return to original plank position with elbows on the floor. Repeat for stated length of time.

Superman- lie on your stomach, arms and legs stretched out. Lift your head, arms and legs together and hold for a few seconds/the whole time. If you hold it for a few seconds before returning to the start position, repeat until the specified time is up.

Burpees (I hate these, but they’re a good exercise)- start on your feet. Jump as high as you can and when you land go straight into a crouch. Kick your legs back (so you’re in a raised plank position) and then bring them back into so you’re in a crouched position again. Jump back up, making sure to explode from the ground and repeat.

Anything that is unclear best go onto youtube/google to double check. As always, best to be completely clear on the technique and the moves to avoid any injury. It’s also possible incorrect technique means you’re not actually benefitting from the exercise. Nothing worse than wasted effort! (except injury)

HIIT is a great way to mix up your exercise regime and can help keep you away from the weight-loss plateau or the horrible repetitive strain that can occur. Otherwise it’s another way of keeping fit and healthy! Be careful though, this is a very intense form of exercise if done to highest of ability, so limit yourself to how many you do a week!

Gym Bug

Basal Metabolic Rate

Hi there!

This is a post you’ll find on my old blog. I’m re-posting because I still think it’s important, that whilst this is NOT a full-blown accurate measure, it might give you a general ide of where you’re at roughly. You will also see I’ve added a new category titled “learning”. Here I shall share interesting bits of information that could help all of us lead healthier lifestyles.

So, I see a lot of things flying around about foods & exercises that boost your metabolism. It got me thinking. What is my basal metabolic rate (BMR)? You can get this professionally tested, which is the most accurate, however, it can be very expensive. I did a bit of research and I found a calculation in a book I own called “Sports Nutrition for Women” by Anita Bean (it’s brilliant).

BMR is the number of calories burned during rest that enables your body to continue to function (heartbeat, breathing, maintaining body temperature etc.)  This can really useful to know when trying to keep fit and healthy as it gives an indication of the amount of calories you need to consume to maintain/lose/gain weight.

The quick calculation is as follows (for women);
BMR= weight in kg x 22

If I do that I get my BMR is  1265, however, this doesn’t take into account your PAL (Physical Activity Level). So Anita Bean also provides a slightly more lengthy calculation that gives a marginally more accurate result, it’s as follows;

BMR= 665 + (9.6 x W) + (1.8 x H) – (4.7 x A)

Where W=weight in kg H=height in cm A=age in years

Once you have calculated your BMR you need to multiply that by your PAL, which you can workout as follows;

PAL                             Description                                           Example

1                                      Inactive                                                    Sleeping/lying down
1.2                                  Sedentary                                                 Mainly sitting/ desk job
1.5                                  Moderately active                                   Some walking
1.7                                  Active                                                        Daily walking/ gentle exercise
2.0                                 Very active                                                Moderate daily training or sport
2.2                                  Extremely active                                     Strenuous daily training or sport

I calculated mine with a PAL of 2.1, I believe I am very active (exercise 6 days a week) but I would describe is between moderate and strenuous, so I went for in between 2.0 and 2.2. My result is 2927 calories. I’m not going to lie, it’s surprising and a lot. The difficulty is in estimating your PAL, it’s not an easy thing to judge at all. I would say to ask yourself and then ask others. Ask people who knows your workout regime/intensity, then compare with yours and go for in between.

All in all, if you want a general idea of roughly how much you should be consuming to lose/maintain/gain weight then this is a good place to start, but take it with a pinch of salt. It’s not accurate and humans are notorious for overestimating their activity level (I could be way off). If you want a more accurate BMR reading then go and speak to your GP and ask about getting an accurate BMR reading.

Take a look at Anita Bean’s books on Amazon. She has loads on sport nutrition for everyone and books on weight training and exercise, she’s written excellent books for the general human being, not just professional athletes.

In terms of carbohydrate consumption you should be looking at roughly 5-7g per kg body weight on low-moderate training days and 7-10g per kg body weight for high intensity days.

For protein if you’re an endurance athlete aim for between 1.2-1.4g per kg body weight per day. If you’re a strength athlete, it’s a bit more, about 1.4-1.7g per kg body weight. Here, you could look at protein shakes.

Again, please let me emphasize, if you get a reading for 3,000 calories, chances are it’s slightly above. But you also shouldn’t then consume 1,200 calories. You’ll know if you’re eating enough depending on how you feel and whether you’re gaining muscle, fat or becoming skeletal.

Take it one day at a time, some won’t be as good as others, but don’t give up, you’ll get there. I, for example, just scoffed a 200g cadbury dairy milk in 3 days flat, but it was delicious.

Gym Bug

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