technique

My Experiences of A Commercial Gym

Posted on by Ricky in Articles, fat loss, goals, health, mindset, technique, weights Leave a comment

to-gym-1445095

Now I have been a member of a commercial gym for a while now, and you may wonder why if I work at a fitness facility. Well, the reason why I became a member of this commercial gym was because I knew that in regards to the equipment I wanted to use in my workouts, where I worked couldn’t quite match up. Therefore I signed up to gym with a view to start being more inventive, intense and interested in my workouts.

And you know what, it has worked.

I have much greater freedom with my workouts in what exercises I can do and how differently I can target certain muscle groups compared to before when all I had at my disposal were barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells. Essentially, the gym has been what I wanted and needed it for, but I have also picked up on other things in the meantime of which drives me ABSOLUTELY CRAZY!!!

Let’s see if these are the same ones that annoy you.

  1. Just a Tick box or social meeting.

When I go to the gym I have one purpose. I am there to work as hard as I can for one hour on specific body parts I am looking to workout on that day. This means I go in there with a plan, I execute the plan (i.e. hit every set and rep with purpose, time my rest periods, avoid distractions), then I leave. Simple.

Now this might seem a bit like I am a bit of an arsehole, especially if someone wants to chat to me in the gym. You might be right, and I may be a bit too far one way. But I would rather this and get a REAL workout in than going in there exercising half the time (with minimal effort or attention to your workout) and chatting or checking my facebook half the time. WHAT IS THE POINT!!!

How can I complain about not seeing results if I am half-arseing the gym every time I step in. So every time you step on the gym floor, make sure you give it your full effort and attention and leave with nothing left at the end. Do this, and I am sure you will start seeing some positive results.

  1. Slamming of Weights

Now,  when I mean slamming weights on the floor, I don’t mean dropping a really heavy deadlift on your final rep. I mean things like letting go of the handles on the cable machine and letting them clatter together, or maybe dropping dumbbells on the floor after a set of shoulder press. This stuff really does get to me when I hear or see it. Thankfully it is not too often, but when it happens….AAAHHHHHH!!!!

Again, WHAT IS THE POINT!!!

Does slamming them down make you stronger on the next set?

Is there some secret performance enhancement that comes with slamming weights on the floor?

If so, then please tell me about it.

If not, then please give it a break.

  1. Sterile Atmosphere

Luckily, I am pretty good at motivating myself to work as hard as I can when I work out. But I know so many people who find it really hard to push themselves without motivation from someone else.

Now this is what is severely lacking a commercial gym. There are plenty of fake hellos and goodbyes, but there is a lack of any real support.  For those who sign up to a gym, I can imagine are often beginners and are unsure of what to do, how things work and where to start. So surely this is the one time where those who enter a gym need the most help?

But I guess this may be what you sign up for with a gym, lots of cool equipment but no support or real help with how to start, where to begin your workouts or how to achieve your goals. Plus, there is rarely much help in regards to exercise technique, exercise intensity or how to even progress or regress if need be with any particular exercise.

So, for some (more intermediate/advanced trainers), the gym is great and offers an opportunity and avenue to start tackling health and fitness goals. But, anyone (especially beginners) starting out on a fat loss journey, then it seems the gym would be the worst place to start. A better place would be to start by hiring a coach who can give you the information, tools and platform to properly begin to make a change and progress with your health and fitness


The Ultimate Guide To Fitness Jargon

Posted on by Ricky in Articles, food, goals, health, technique, weights Leave a comment

What-does-that-even-mean-meme

Compound?

Lean?

BMR?

For many, they hear and see these words in the gym or on the internet, but have pretty much no clue of what they mean or stand for. This can make the gym an even more intimidating place along with the cold stares and evil looking machines.

But there is no need to panic. This guide is here to help you navigate your way through gym conversation and avoid confusion when it comes to reading articles on the internet.

  • Cutting

Cutting is the process of losing excess body fat whilst also maintaining as much lean tissue as possible.

  • Lean

Being lean is being in the position of holding low levels of body fat. Furthermore ‘lean’ meats are meat products that have very low fat content (e.g. chicken, turkey, tuna, etc).

  • Hypertrophy

Hypertrophy is the process of building muscle size through training and nutrition.

  • DOMS

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is essentially the aches and pains you feel in your muscles  1 or 2 days after a workout.

  • Compound Exercises

Compound exercises are exercises that require than one muscle group to be working in order for the movement to be completed. For example a press-up requires the chest, tricep and shoulders to be working in order for the movement to be completed.

  • Isolation

Isolation exercise are exercises that require only one muscle group to be working in order for the movement to be completed. For example, calf raises only require the calf muscle to be working in order for the movement to be completed.

  • Eccentric

Eccentric means the negative/downward motion of the movement. For example, the eccentric portion of the bicep curl is the part where you lower the dumbbell/barbell back to the beginning.

  • Concentric

Concentric means the positive/upward portion of a movement. For example, the concentric portion of a bicep curl is the part where you contract the bicep to raise the dumbbell/barbell to the highest part of the movement.

  • Progressive Overload

Progressive overload is defined as the progressive increase of stress upon the body during exercise training. This means that you are progressing and increasing the stress placed upon the body, resulting in greater adaptations of the body and improvements in strength, endurance and also physique. Progressive overload can come from a range of factors from increasing resistance, increasing speed of movement, increasing the time under tension, reducing rest periods, etc. All of which can result in improvements and progression when it comes to health and fitness.

  • BMR

BMR stands for Basal Metabolic Rate. Therefore, your BMR is essentially the amount of calories that you burn at rest. This can vary from person to person due to different factors such as amount of lean tissue, thyroid activity, lifestyle (sedentary or active), etc. Those with a higher Basal Metabolic Rate will be burning more calories at rest compared to those who have a lower BMR, thus giving them a much better ability to maintain their weight and also lose weight once they begin dieting. However, BMR can be altered and increased with consistent exercise and good nutritional habits, especially an increase in protein intake.

  • Lean Tissue

Lean tissue is essentially the amount of muscle you may have, but also lean tissue is comprised of ligaments, tendons, bones and organs. The rest will be predominantly fat mass.

  • Core

Your core is broadly the musculature within your torso. The major muscles of the core reside in the area of the belly and the mid and lower back (not the shoulders), and peripherally include the hips, the shoulders and the neck.

Major muscles included are the pelvic floor muscles, transversus abdominis, multifidus, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis, erector spinae (sacrospinalis) especially the longissimus thoracis, and the diaphragm. Minor core muscles include the latissimus dorsi, gluteus maximus, and trapezius.

The core is traditionally assumed to originate most full-body functional movement, including most sports. In addition, the core determines to a large part a person’s posture. In all, the human anatomy is built to take force upon the bones and direct autonomic force, through various joints, in the desired direction. The core muscles align the spine, ribs, and pelvis of a person to resist a specific force, whether static or dynamic.

TDC-1-20130129-SCENE

 


Burpees – Love Hate Relationship but WHY?

Posted on by Ricky in health, technique Leave a comment

 

Where Did Burpees Come From?

BURPEEScomeFrom

 

We all LOVE to HATE Burpees, right? Love them or hate them, here is a bit of info about how they came about.

 

OK, so with most gym exercises, the clue is usually in the name. Sit-ups…. shoulder press…. bicep curls…., the name of the exercise kind of tells you what you should be doing. 

So where on earth did the name ‘burpee’ come from?

 

The exercise’s namesake was Royal Huddleston Burpee, a 1930s physiologist from New York. 

However, he is not entirely to blame for the movement as we know it today. Royal H. Burpee invented a much 

milder version of the exercise, intending it to be done just 4 times in a row as part of a fitness test.

At a time when exercise science was mostly concerned with measuring the fitness of already fit people, 

Burpee wanted a simple way to assess the fitnessof anyone 

(starting with the new members of the YMCA in the Bronx, where he worked).

 

The original exercise was simple:

1. Squat down and place both hands on the floor in front of you

2. Jump feet back into plank position

3. Jump feet forward

4. Return to standing

 

The military adopted the burpee in 1942 as part of its fitness test for enlisting soldiers during World War II. 

As part of the overall test, soldiers were required to perform burpees for 20 seconds straight. 

By 1946, prospective soldiers had to undertake 1 minute of burpees –

41 burpees in that time was considered excellent, while fewer than 27 was considered poor! How many can you do in 1 minute?

 

The burpee has since evolved into a 6-movement bodyweight exercise:

1. Bend over or squat down and place both hands on the floor in front of you, just outside of your feet

2. Jump both feet back into plank position

3. Drop to a push-up – your chest should touch the floor

4. Push or snake up to return to plank position

5. Jump feet back in toward hands

6. Explosively jump up into the air, reaching arms straight overhead

 

A single burpee demands that your entire body works to perform the six movements in a row, 

including 3 separate jumps that take you from vertical to horizontal and back to vertical.

Burpee never intended his 4-count move to be used as a way to get in shape, but the exercise 

has become renown thanks to the popularity of high-intensity strength and conditioning programs like CrossFit and boot camps.

Hard-core variations include burpee box jumps, dumbbell burpees, and the burpee pull-up (ouch)!

 Chloe (I really love burpees by the way)

Reference: ‘Where Do Burpees Come From?’ Tamarkin, S. (2014)


What’s The Point In Stretching Before Exercise?

Posted on by Ricky in health, technique Leave a comment

 

stretching-dog

Honestly, I am extremely guilty of not heeding my own advice when it comes to stretching, warming up and cooling down. Day in, day out I say how important it is to properly stretch, but subsequently neglect my own advice and just crack on with a workout. However, this has often come back to bite me in the backside due to receiving little niggling injuries due to poor preparation and neglecting a stretching routine.  I knew it was important but hey, I was young and active… I didn’t need to stretch that much, right? Wrong!

As a result of intense training we cause microscopic tears to our muscle fibres. With some rest our muscles repair and grow, however without proper stretching these fibres heal tight. This increases the risk of niggling little injuries that I have often had, so it is vitally important for some good stretching before and after to prevent this from happening. Consequently, stretching is now a regular part of my workout routine.

Here are a few more great benefits of regular stretching for an active female:

Increased Flexibility

A symptom of getting older is often getting shorter and tighter muscles, reducing you overall flexibility. Having a limited range of flexibility makes us all a lot more susceptible to soft tissue injuries (tendons, ligaments and muscles). Regular stretching is our main remedy for reduced flexibility and can help improve flexibility, thus helping to reduce the risk of injuries. You will also experience less tightness in your joints and muscles, allowing you to exercise more easily.

Reduced Stress

Being stressed causes our muscles to contract and become very tense. This tension can take its toll on your physical and mental well-being if it is not addressed. Some gentle stretching is a perfect way of trying to remove some of that tension associated with stress.

Tackles Lower Back Pain

Millions of people everywhere suffer with persistent lower back pain. But stretching is a great way to alleviate back pain and soreness by strengthening the lower back muscles. Interestingly, there are a lot of muscles that contribute to our posture, and by stretching these muscles, lower back pain and soreness can greatly be reduced. If this can be combined with a resistance training programme, then we can strengthen our back muscles greatly, and become stronger and more stable.

Fight Fatigue

It can often feel then when we have been sat down and done very little for a long period, we can feel very tired despite not doing anything. This is because the blood pools in the muscles, which can cause us to feel tired and sluggish. However, if we start to stretch then the blood starts to circulate and consequently get our brain moving and in to gear.

Therefore, before you do training of any sort, I recommend at least 5 minutes of active stretching as part of a warm up. This will help to warm the muscles up by increasing the blood flow. Similarly, I recommend a 5 minute cool down accompanied with stretching following your workout. This will promote a safe and effective beginning and end to your workouts, helping you avoid injury and perform with greater consistency.

Enjoy your workouts

Kristian


The Kettlebell Swing: How To Perfect The Perfect Exercise

Posted on by Ricky in fat loss, technique, weights Leave a comment

kettlebell_swing2

The kettlebell swing is arguably one of the best multi-purpose exercises you can possibly do. It is a great exercise for helping to improve our frame and posture by strengthening the postural muscles. But also, the kettlebell swing is one of the best ‘bang for your buck’ fat-burning exercises that you can do, thus greatly helping with fat loss.

However, it is very easy to screw up the technique. Furthermore, with the increasing popularity with which kettlebells are being used, it is important people understand the potential mistakes they are making and how to correct them. So here are some common mistakes and how to eradicate them, ensuring a perfect swing every time.

Squatting

 

When observing a kettlebell swing, one of the most common mistakes is that people often squat when the bell goes between their knees. But the swing is not a squat, rather a hip hinge.

What is the difference I hear you ask? Well, during a squat you knees and hips maximally bend. During a hip hinge on the other hand, your hips maximally bend and you knees minimally bend.

When we swing the kettlebell we want to hinge our hips until the torso is almost parallel to the floor, whilst maintaining minimal bend in the knee. This will help to maximally activate the powerful hamstrings in the back of our legs that help us swing the kettlebell back up. Bending our knees will not help us do that.

Your Back Hurts

 

Following a set of swings your hamstrings and glutes should be the main muscles that feel sore. But I often see people complaining about bad backs, this is likely due to their hip hinge.

A good pointer is to try and make sure you guide the kettlebell between your knees, but do not let the bell drop below the height of your knees. Furthermore, as the bell passes through your legs, imagine you are passing a ball through your legs to someone behind you. This will help to maintain a straight back and maximally engage the hamstrings.

Your Back Bends at The Top

 

During each kettlebell swing there are two main parts: the hip hinge and the vertical plank. When you reach the top of each swing you want to make sure that you are in one straight line from your head to your feet. We want to avoid engaging the back too much, as this could lead to injury.

The way to do this is to pull your shoulders away from your ears, squeeze your glutes and quads, brace your abs and push your feet through the floor. This will activate and engage the correct muscles in to doing the work for executing a perfect kettlebell swing, thus reducing the risk of injury and aggravation to the back.

You Have Wandering Eyes

 

It is important to remain focussed on one spot when swinging, because when you look up or down you throw your form out of alignment. This can potentially lead to injury if form is not kept correctly.

 

Lacking Control of the Kettlebell

 

Before we can start to rack up the weight of the kettlebells we use when we are kettlebell swinging, we need to make sure we are in control of the bell first. If we don’t control it, it will control you and that can lead to injury.

To manage it properly it is important to apply a forceful amount of power from the hips. The way to do it is forcefully explode your hips forward, pretend as if you are throwing the weight in front of you.

Your Arms Go Way Above Your Head

 

At the top of your swing the kettlebell should finish somewhere between your waist and shoulder. You will know when it is high enough when you feel the bell become weightless for a moment. The heavier the kettlebell, the lower the peak of the swing.

If you are still having some trouble with the kettlebell swing, the here is a step by step guide to help perfect your kettlebell swing:

  1. Start with a shoulder width stance, crease at the hips and push them backwards so you start to fold over to face the floor.
  2. Continue until your hands can then reach the kettlebell placed between your feet.
  3. Once you have hold of the kettlebell, take all the slack out of your body by bracing your core, keeping shoulders back and back straight. In this position, your shoulders should be higher than your hips and hips above your knees.
  4. To begin the swinging movement, hike back the bell hard. As if passing ball through your legs.
  5. At this point you need to thrust forwards with your hips making sure you end up standing tall. Shoulders should be down and back, making a big chest (as if you are proud to be working with kettlebells, and you should be). Tense the glutes firmly, imagine drawing up the kneecaps to the groin while simultaneously pushing down into the ground as hard as you can through the feet.
  6. Once you have begun swinging, keep these movements going without stopping between repetitions.

Kristian

 

ps if you fancy seeing a video demonstration of a 2 hand swing then check Ricky out doing one here:

 


Women Squatting – common errors and how to fix:

Posted on by Ricky in Articles, technique, weights Leave a comment

Squats are one of those exercises that we love to hate. But we have been squatting all of our lives, since we were babies. This is because the squat is one of the most fundamental exercises that we perform each and every day. But despite the pain they can put you through; they can do wonders for your body.

  • Stronger, leaner legs
  • Better fitting clothes
  • Less chance of knee and back pain
  • Greater lower body flexibility
  • Bulletproof abs

Each day squats can make us better as they can serve as the engine for our health and performance, due to their unparalleled ability to build muscle, increase metabolism and making your body a fat-burning machine. But the correct technique for performing squats is paramount, and when done correctly can help us achieve wondrous things.

Otherwise we can be at serious risk of injury if we are not performing a proper squat. However, all too often, there some common mistakes that are made whilst squatting, that if we can eradicate, will help us in the long run in terms of health and fitness.

Common Faults

 

bootcamp northampton

 

 

Despite squatting being a very basic movement, beginners can be susceptible to a handful of mistakes. Let’s quickly go through what these common mistakes are:

Coming Up On Your Toes With Your Knees Forward (Right Image)

When squatting, it is very important that the weight is kept in the heels, and heels are kept on the ground at all times. Some of your weight will be on the balls of your feet, but we need to make sure that most of the weight is transferred to the heels.

To bring ourselves up we need to drive through our heels, this also helps to keep the action being muscular and reduces the pressure and load in the knees. This will help to reduce any knee pains and injuries, as the muscles around the knee will get stronger without lots of pressure being placed on the knees at the same time.

A good indicator of having your weight in your heels is if you are able to wiggle your toes at any point and nothing about your squat changes.

Not Hitting Depth

When squatting it is important to ensure that you hit the correct depth, where your hip joint is below your knee. This will not only help to maximise the work done by the muscles involved in the squat, but also will help relieve a lot of the stress that is placed on the knees and quadriceps that occurs when correct depth is not managed.

The deeper the squat the more the glutes and hamstrings are activated, which means that more muscles are worked more effectively during a deeper squat and will help to bring about more shapely legs.

Having A Rounded Back and Slumped Shoulders (Left Image)

Throughout the whole duration of a squat it is vitally important to keep your chest up and shoulders back. We want to avoid having our shoulders rounded, as this takes our backs out of a neutral position and can eventually cause some significant back problems if continue squatting in this position, especially if we begin to add weight and further pressure on our backs.

How To Perform A Squat Correctly

 

squatsequence

 

 

Setting up for a squat is dead simple.
  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip width, with toes pointed out slightly (~5-20°).
  • Look straight ahead and focus on a point in front of you for the whole duration of the squat.
  • Keep your back nice and straight, so don’t round the back or try and hyper-extend. This is helped by looking straight ahead and keeping your core tight the whole time.
  • As you descend, focus on keeping the weight in your heels. This can be done by initially curling your toes up which will force the weight in to your heels.
  • Now, breathe in, push your bottom back, and keeping pushing your bottom back as you begin to bend your knees.
  • As you squat, focus on keeping your knees in line with your toes and try not to let them fall inside your toes.
  • Try and descend down until your hip joint is lower than your knee joint. Don’t cheat yourself, go way down and really feel it.
  • This is where we begin to stand back up.
  • Keep everything tight, drive through your heels and breathe out as you bring yourself up.

 

There you have it!

An easy guide of how to perform the perfect bodyweight squat. If you still struggle just have a look at this expert below and copy him.

Kristian

 

how-to-squat-technique