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Thursday, 2 February 2017

Holistix muscle rub

By Pete Ryan


Most of us suffer some form of ache or pain at some time.  People who exercise really don’t want those issues to detract from a workout and we want any issues to heal as quickly as possible.  I always keep my eyes open for new products that may aid recovery and I saw this item at one of the vegan events we attend. So, along came an achy lower back and a niggle in my elbow, so what better test for a product than a couple of minor aches that were annoying me?
The product is not a warming one like the chilli based products you can buy, but it is soothing. It contains plant oils and some herbs that help recovery.  I don’t really know the ins and outs of the product; it is petroleum-free and seemed to make the areas I used it on feel better. It isn’t a miracle cure, but it appeared to help with those annoying aches you get either due to lifting, or in spite of it. I would say it is a useful addition to your gym bag as you can slap it on easily enough and go and train - wash your hands afterwards, lifting  with an oil-based product on your hands won’t end well!
I have tried this products for while now (hence the slightly aged look of the product in the picture) and I have found it useful.  I will continue to use it as I need to when the odd ache or pain crops up.
You can check out their site over at http://www.holistixherbs.com/

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Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Time to antagonise you!



By Pete Ryan



I was watching a youtube video the other day.  The guy was going on about the importance of doing push-ups (press-ups) ever day.  Work up to 100-200 a day (over 36,000 reps a year).  Push-ups are relatively easy and not too taxing, you could do this and not overstretch your CNS recovery, and if you varied the form there wouldn’t be too much of an issue with overuse (change arm position, different angles, use handles, add weight etc)...but my mind went straight to the effect this would have on your muscular balance.  Your triceps (back of the arm) and anterior deltoids (front of the shoulder) would be receiving a massive volume, whereas your rear deltoids (back of the shoulder) and biceps (front of the arm) would not receive much activation at all.  Also your core (think of a very thick belt around your midsection between your hips and your ribs that stabilises the spine, that is the muscular region we are usually talking about when we talk about the ‘core’ ).  The front (ab) region would get loads of work, but the rear section (lower back), would get very little. I see this as a real problem.

Muscular balance


I believe that you should aim at muscular balance.  If you can bench press 100Kg, then you should be able to row 100Kg (approximately – this is raw, not bench pressing in equipment). If you can shoulder press your own bodyweight overhead, then you should be able to do pull-ups relatively easily (both for reps and with added weight). I’ve read various ideas about an ideal amount for each lift, but I believe these will vary depending on body type and your own, personal make-up.  The important thing is, if you push you should pull, if you twist one way, you should twist the other way, if you work the left side, then you should work the right side.
Let me use the example of the push-up I started with.  The push-up uses the back of the arm (triceps) and the front of the shoulder (anterior deltoid).  If these get really, really developed they will tend to set you up for imbalances.  Think of the shoulder, if the front is really strong and the back is very weak, the head of the humerus  (the arm bone) will get pulled forward, so it will be in slightly the wrong position when you do any movement. This will only be a tiny amount, you will not feel it, but over the years things like osteoarthritis can occur or you may develop nagging shoulder pain or impingement? So, is there a way to avoid these issues?

Balancing up



There is a simple way to balance out the muscularity, and you do not need to have a diploma in anatomy to do it. Simply work the body through the opposite movements.  If you bench press, then row, if you overhead press, then do a chin-up or pulldown.
You work the antagonist muscles, the muscles that work the opposite motion (or often can be used to stop that motion occurring).  The easiest example is the biceps and triceps in the arm.  The biceps curl the arm, while the triceps straighten the arm.  They do the opposite jobs.  If the biceps are fully flexed, you cannot straighten your arm, if the triceps are fully flexed you cannot bend your arm.If one is too powerful, or the other too weak, then issues with the arm can occur.
The easiest way to sort out the body when thinking about this is by using the push/pull for the upper body (the lower body has a slightly more complex interactions).
For the upper body think of it split like this:


  • ·         Horizontal push
  • ·         Horizontal pull
  • ·         Vertical push
  • ·         Vertical pull


So, let’s head back to the 100-200 push-ups per day.  In this case you are doing a horizonital push, so you would need a horizontal pull to balance that out. I would suggest you add another movement into this equation.  If you are doing 100-200 push-ups then why not add some inverted rows into the mix.  You may not easily get 100-200 inverted rows as they are somewhat more of a challenge than a push-up, however getting 40-50 should be easily doable, with many of you easily getting 80-100 reps with practice.  This would help maintain shoulder stability by building the rear deltoid, balancing arm development and also be added work on keeping the core stable and more in balance front to back, which is a nice bonus.

Summing up


So, I want you to consider as you workout that every time you pull, you push.  This does not have to be on the same day.  An old ‘bro-split’ was back and biceps one day and chest and triceps the next.  Just try to keep those movements balanced.  Many people end up with issues simply because they fail to balance the body as it develops.  Don’t be one of those people!
If you want more about building the body in a balanced way I am happy to talk about more advanced concepts, just reply on here and let me know.

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Sunday, 15 January 2017

Older trainees and exercise frequency



by Pete Ryan


This one is going to annoy you in some respects.  I will tell you right from the outset that there are not an ideal number of times per week, duration or intensity to train at.  A lot depends on things like exact age, outside stress, other activities that will affect how many times a week you train and how long those sessions last. I can sum up the ideal in one sentence though and from there we can look at options.

The amount of times a week you can stick to and the time you are willing to put in each session is the ideal...

That answer probably nearly made you throw your phone/laptop through the nearest wall! I know that is a really aggravating answer, but that is the stark truth.  I can give you the perfect workout for you, but if you are not willing to do it, then it is an inferior workout to hitting the whole body once for 45 minutes a week. If you can stick like glue to once a week, but do your ‘perfect’ workout for 2 weeks and then never do it again, which is the best?

Being honest with yourself


Let’s start with being honest. You may have decided that working out 4 times a week is perfect to maximise your muscle gains, but will you actually turn up for every session? I am not talking about now, but in 3 weeks, in 3 months or even in a year or more? What about when you have that room to decorate, what about when you need to get those tax returns done, what about when the stress at work means you are feeling burnt out?  If you can, then fine, but if you can definitely get 2 sessions in per week, but would struggle with 4, then 2 would be your ideal.
I will start with something many people will find very controversial, my opinions on age and training.

Age


Let’s cut to the chase on this one.  I find it hard listening to a young guy talking about how older people should exercise.  They may have some experience in that area, but they do not live with the issues getting older brings.  I am sure many younger people have insights, but I prefer to get the opinion of older coaches and personal trainers. For the record I am over 50 and have had injuries and issues that many older trainees have been through.
My belief is that older people need to do more than their younger equivalents.  I know, that is not the common view point.  In fact most coaches suggest that older athletes do less, but hear me out and make up your own mind.


Most older trainees are less interested in competition and more interested in training longevity, plus most older trainees have previous injuries (because we too were once young and very stupid!). So, our goals are often not maximum lifts, but heavy weights done for sets, encouraging hypertrophy (muscle growth) and fighting off old age. To do these lifts we need much more time warming up and doing mobility than the younger lifter doing the same exercises.  An older person may need to warm up and mobilise the shoulders and elbows for 10-15 minutes to hit a press, we may also need to move our bodies a lot more to maintain flexibility and strength throughout the range of motion of an exercise. So, we may spend a greater proportion of time doing mobility, bodyweight movements and preparing our bodies for the workout than a younger person. 

So whereas a younger person may have:
  • ·         5 minute Warm-up
  • ·         45 minute workout

An older person may have:
  • ·         20 minute warm-up
  • ·         40 minute workout

So as you can see, the older person will be moving their body for longer than the younger person.
As you age the whole idea of use it or lose it becomes much more immediate.  The older you become, the quicker it is to lose the ability to do an exercise and the harder it is to gain new skills or regain lost physical abilities.  If you do not practice skills regularly, then they will disappear, so if you are like most people who hit the gym and do not wish to lose any skills you have acquired over the years, then you will have to practice skills a lot more often than when you were younger.  The sheer mass of abilities you want to keep also force you to be doing physical activity a lot more.   Let me hasten to add that you may do these outside the gym.  You could practice a range of bodyweight movements at home (Planche, L-sit, pull-ups, push-ups, headstands, handstands, sprinting...the list goes on), but these all have to fit into your weekly/monthly, schedule if you wish to keep these abilities into really old age. Also most of these need some sort of warm-up to avoid injury.
So, as you can see an older trainee may need to spend more total time working out as they need to warm-up in a thorough fashion and practice physical abilities more often.


What this does not mean is working out balls to the wall every day, or anything like that.  I do believe that older people should do something physical everyday.  This can be as simple as some push-ups and pull-ups at home, or going out and sprinting for 10 minutes, rope jumping on the porch or 30 minutes mobility, but everyday something should be done.  Coach Dan John has a saying: 

If it is important, do it every day

For the older athlete this is especially true.  If you need to improve your squat, then squat every day.  This does not mean go to max every morning doing a back squat.  Simply add bodyweight squats into your warm-up, or just knock out some squats every day.  Even ditch your chairs and sit on a cushion on the floor, so if you want to get up or sit down, you are forced into a full squat. For the older athlete holding a barbell, a single kettlebell or dumbbell overhead and squatting adds unique challenges, using weights that stress the back a lot less, or get an Ironmind Hip Belt if the back is an issue.  As an older trainee you need to get creative working around the limitations your body imposes.

Movement (NEAT)


Non-exercise Activity thermogenesis is the fancy term used to describe things you do that burn calories, but are not part of your exercise routine. In keeping with my belief that older trainees need to workout more often, I also believe that the older you get the more important it is to move more often than younger people. Things like walking to the shops, spending 10 minutes after each meal walking (good for anyone who wants to improve insulin sensitivity), just doing physical things becomes more important for the older athlete.  You need to plan your life in such a way that you can be active outside of the gym. Think about it, no matter how hard you workout for 30-60 minutes, it will never, ever overcome being sedentary for 23-23.30 hours every day, how could it? So, plan on regular activity throughout the day.  Anyone can go for a walk for 10 minutes after each meal, just try it.  Eat a meal then walk 5 minutes one way, turn around and walk 5 minutes back, aim at a brisk pace.  If you sit for an hour, get up, stretch and do mobility for 10 minutes, then carry on.  In the long run this will help you achieve your goals.

Picking your movements


Most of the movements you choose should be things you enjoy.  If you hate everything then you will never succeed as you will find any excuse to avoid them.  However, there are some things you know need to be done, you will probably hate these.  These are things you need to do.  Add them at the start, not the end of a session, put the things you really enjoy at the end, so you are more likely to finish a session.  So, if you have a bad shoulder, doing band dislocates, band pull aparts and clubbell swings may be boring for you, but they may be very necessary.  You may need to add in 5-10% of things you do not enjoy doing, but mainly include things you enjoy doing.
Exactly what you do isn’t important. You need to include:

Upper body vertical pushing (overhead press, steep incline press are 2 examples)
Upper body vertical pulling (Pull-up, chin up)
Upper body horizontal pushing (Bench press, push-up)
Upper body horizontal pulling (bent over row, inverted row)
Hip hinge (deadlift variation, KB swing)
Legs (Squat variation, leg press)
You do not need to do these every session, or even every week. Simply rotate thing in and out as often as you like.
Wrap up
I could talk a lot about this, if you are interested comment below. I can discuss routines, methods, diets or go into more details about any related issue if those are of interest to you? 

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