Avoiding Injury

Last week we saw some of the effects of over-training and also how to avoid them. Today we examine why proper technique and equipment are so important and also why your training programme needs to be tailored to both your goals and your posture.

Training-related injuries tend to result from either a direct trauma caused by heavy knocks which are usually seen in contact sport, or else they can be caused by bad programme design.

There’s not much you can do if you’re unfortunate enough to catch a bad tackle or fall awkwardly, but you can certainly ensure that your training regime is not the source of your injury.

The problem with a lot of training programmes is the fact that they are unbalanced and they tend to overwork certain muscle groups and totally ignore others.

If you go to the free weights area of most gyms you will see lads do endless sets of chest exercises, usually in the form of bench presses. You will also tend to see a lot of bicep and abdominal exercises being performed.

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Regardless of the goal, the result of regular training should mean that you become stronger, fitter and more energetic. You can also expect to feel improvements in your stress levels and general sense of well-being. For some people, however, that is not the case.

One thing that ought to be understood is the difference between muscle soreness and injury. As has been mentioned here previously, physical activity places stress on the body and in turn the body adapts to that stress and becomes stronger as a result.

Under normal circumstances an individual will experience DOMS (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness) for anywhere between 24 and 96 hours after beginning an exercise regime, with the “discomfort” usually peaking between 24 and 72 hours post-exercise.

For those people who are new to training this can be a scary experience. But it’s important to realize that it’s entirely normal, and that as you train more regularly, you’ll experience it to a far lesser degree.

However, as many trainees will tell you, it never completely goes away and nor should it, but controlling it is a delicate balancing act and depends very much on the individual concerned. If the workout is too difficult, the DOMS effect may prevent you from being able to train for up to a week. But, if the training session is too easy it will not encourage your body to grow fitter, stronger and leaner. Experience and proper instruction will ensure that you get the balance right.

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How to Put On Weight (Guilt-free)

Over the years I’ve met many people who claimed that they were looking to lose weight, or more specifically, lose body fat.

Unfortunately, for some of these people, they have had very little success and this has caused them to be quite unhappy.

Now, there are a lot of people who are genuinely confused about the best methods to lose body fat and hopefully some of the previous articles here will have helped to clear up that confusion.

However, there are quite a number of people – some of my own clients included- who know exactly what to do and yet they are not seeing any real change in their body shape.

I’m a great believer in the saying that actions speak louder than words. I also recognize the fact that in many cases weight-gain is due to emotional and/or psychological issues. This article is not aimed at those individuals, who may in fact be better served by some form of appropriate therapy or counselling.

I’m just talking about people who complain about weight-gain but can’t really be arsed doing anything about it. If you fall into that category, maybe you‘re actually happier carrying some excess baggage and so, here are some tips to help you keep the weight on. You may even find that you’ve mastered some of the techniques already!

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Get Results

When it comes to weight loss, health and fitness, there are so many conflicting theories, diets and training methods, that it would be very understandable for the average person to get totally confused and give up altogether.

A recent report claiming that a high protein diet was “as bad as smoking” is just the latest obvious example that will have some people diving into their biscuits, chocolates and sweets in an attempt to save their lives.

Unfortunately, this study along with many more before it, made it’s conclusions based on an association between a number of deaths from cancer, and protein consumption among a certain number of people. However this is not the same thing as saying that the higher intake of protein caused the deaths from cancer, because no other relevant factors were taken into account (exercise, processed food consumption, cigarette smoking, pre-existing health conditions, family medical history, etc)

Let’s see why that may not be sound scientific research: It’s been shown that murder rates in American cities like New York and Chicago tend to rise during the summer months and especially during heat waves.

The sales of ice-cream also increase during summer and heat waves. Therefore there’s an association between increased ice-cream sales and an increased number of murders. Based on the logic of our protein study, we can now safely say that eating ice-cream leads to murder!

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Fad Diets

Weight loss, or more specifically fat loss, can be a minefield of seemingly contradictory ideas. There are thousands of “diet” books and eating plans out there, and for the average individual it can be a little bit overwhelming.

The thing to remember is that almost all of those eating plans have worked for somebody at some time and achieved the desired results. In my opinion, problems arise when the people who are pushing a particular “diet” insist that their way is the only way to look good and be healthy.

So then, which eating plan/system is actually the best?

From my experience a healthy eating plan will meet the following criteria:

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Today we’ll talk about a subject that tends to lead to very strong and much divided opinion: supplements. When it comes to supplementation, people tend to fall into one of two categories: a) they’re the answer to all of life’s health issues or, b) they’re a complete waste of money and a total scam. As is the case in many debates, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Hopefully this article can shed some light on the subject.

The word supplement has been defined as something that “adds to or makes complete”. Therefore nutritional and sports supplementation should be in addition to your regular food or should complete your nutrition if there is something lacking.

And that’s a very important point that’s lost on many people, because they treat their supplements as their main source of nutrition and their regular meals as top-ups to their supplements! A situation like this is likely to lead to all types of health and digestion issues that will reduce any benefits that the supplements may have been offering in the first place.

In order to survive and thrive, your body needs macronutrients in the form of Carbohydrates, Protein and Fat. If these nutrients are of a sufficient quantity, quality and proportion you should get all of the vitamins and minerals that your body requires.

But, here lies the problem: while those in the anti-supplement corner will argue that a healthy diet removes all need for supplements, what exactly is a healthy diet?

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Your Life, Your Responsibility

“You are the way you are because that’s the way you want to be. If you really wanted to be any different, you would be in the process of changing right now.”- Fred Smith (Founder of FedEx)

At this point, it should be common knowledge that obesity, poor diet, smoking, lack of exercise and high stress levels are the main lifestyle factors that increase the chances of developing heart disease or cancer.

And while some people will blame “genetics” and say there’s nothing they can do about it, the truth is a lot different. There’s a saying that “genetics loads the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger.” There’s no doubt that some people are at a greater risk of developing cancer or heart disease because of their family medical history. It is for this reason that they need to give themselves every chance by pursuing a healthy lifestyle.

On the other hand, the fact that you’re fortunate enough to be born to a family with no history of these diseases does not mean that you are immune from them.

People are generally motivated towards pleasure or away from pain – the carrot and stick approach. So if you can’t motivate yourself by thinking of how good you’ll look and feel, maybe you’ll want to get started or stay on a fitness regime simply to avoid being 1 of the 17,500 people who die every year from serious, lifestyle-related disease.

But which programme works best? One of the more frustrating things for people who wish to lose weight, get fit or have a healthy lifestyle is the tons of seemingly contradictory advice out there: One minute you’re told to avoid alcohol and sweets, and then suddenly, research shows that a glass of wine and dark chocolate can have positive health benefits!

Some people advocate lots of aerobic work while many trainers will tell you to avoid it like the plague. And that’s why there are thousands of diet books, supplements and training programmes out there. Because at some point each and every one of them has worked for somebody.

So here are some tips to help you stay on track on your journey to health and fitness:

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Stress & Sleep Management

Stress has got a bad rap over the last few years. Stress will NOT kill you, but an excessive response to it might. We all need a certain amount of stress in our lives. The problem arises when we constantly trigger our natural Fight or Flight response.

Over the years, my clients that have had most difficulty in losing body-fat have been those who were most stressed-out. Their elevated stress levels were working against them on two fronts. On a hormonal level, their raised Cortisol levels caused them to store more body fat around the abdominal area, and also suppressed the release of muscle-building hormones.

From a behavioural standpoint, these clients tended to skip meals, and when they did eat, their food choices were poor: fast food and sugary snacks. They usually also ate too food much at night.

If this sounds familiar to you, then try the following, to help keep you more balanced, and allow you to recover from your daily work and training regime.

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The Recovery Ward

As a general rule I’ve found that many people who want to get fit or lose weight will focus almost exclusively on their training – and to lesser extent- nutrition programmes.  However, if your recovery programme is also managed carefully, you’ll find that you’ll reach your goals far quicker and enjoy the process at the same time. The 3 items that will help you do this are your Post-Workout Recovery, Managing Stress Levels and Establishing Regular Sleep Patterns. Today we’ll focus on ways to recover from a tough workout.

One important thing to understand is that training makes you weaker. The point of training is to give your body a reason to get stronger, and this will only happen in the period between exercise sessions, if your body is allowed to adapt to the demands placed upon it. And that means adequate rest and nutrition.

It’s been said that the most successful athletes are not the ones who train the hardest, but those who recover from training the most effectively. Likewise, I’ve found that my most successful clients are those who regularly use effective recovery strategies.

When you train hard, you deliberately break down muscle fibres and impose a stress on all the systems of the body. So, your body interprets exercise as just another stress that needs to be managed or else it will have negative consequences. The following items will ensure that you recover physically from training:

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Mix It Up Part 2

Today we’ll look at 2 popular forms of training and how we can get the most from them. Please remember to consult your GP if you are starting an exercise regime for the 1st time or if you have any illnesses or injuries.

Steady State Cardio (SSC):

Walking, jogging, and cycling outdoors, as well as indoor cycling, rowing and treadmill work fall under the category of Steady State Cardio training. This is the type of exercise that most people have done at one stage or another and it has many health benefits.

For complete beginners, 2-4 sessions per week of SSC will definitely help to burn some body fat, while also helping to improve the function of the heart and lungs and reducing the risk of diseases like cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. That’s the good news.

Unfortunately as a weight-loss tool, SSC has a very short shelf life. I’m sure you know somebody (it may even apply to you), who started walking or jogging a few times a week and were delighted with the weight loss. However, that was 3 years ago and although they’re doing the same training they haven’t lost a gram since. So, what happened?

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