Well it's a sad state of affairs that I feel the need to write this blog. For those that have followed my words for a while you'll know how tired I am of the squabbling in the fitness industry. People slag off Zumba, CrossFit, Bodybuilding, ZUU, running. It seems nothing is safe from the opinion of self proclaimed, narrow minded, arrogant "experts" who believe it is their way or no way!
Why can't we all get along???
There IS NO bad type of exercise!
There are however better choices when it comes to achieving particular goals.
Why do people train?
A survey by Virgin Active found that the top three reasons people joined their health clubs were:
1) Get Fit
2) Get healthy
3) Lose weight
So you see, not everyone wants to be massive, have a 6 pack, or even lose weight. There is more focus on having a long, illness free life than how we look (contrary to what the media would help you believe) but in my opinion a lot of the goals overlap. Having less fat probably means you are healthier, having more muscle means you are stronger, having a stronger heart means you are healthier which means you have less fat. It's all interlinked. For the purposes of this blog i will group the goals into the following:
How do i get fit?
The main reason we join the gym! And there are so many ways we can get fit! This terms means different things to different people, being able to run a marathon is fitness, but for some it's being able to walk to the top of the stairs without being out of breath!
Being fit means being able to provide enough energy to cope with the demands of the activity. Their are four main ways our body can provide energy, and one of them is CARDIO! Which means to be fit we have to do cardio. Jogging, cycling, spending time on the cross trainer will get you fit!
The next time you see someone jogging on a treadmill and you feel it might stop their GAINZZZ (*holds head in hands) think! Maybe they don't want the super lean physique, maybe they want to feel fit, or they are training for a race or event!
There are of course many ways you can get fit, it doesn't have to be steady cardio, as we have the popular HIIT training too (High Intensity Interval Training) essential periods of hard work followed by periods of recovery. The HIIT training that you do is totally down to choice (I can train you extremely hard using only a balloon!) Balloons aren't everyones cup of tea so I have added a list below of 10 awesome methods to get fit!
1. ZUU - my personal fave, animal based movements that take your fitness to the highest levels. Click here for more info on ZUU
2. CrossFit - a structured supportive environement to learn how to train with intensity (commonly vilified purely for some techniques that they disagree with but can get amazing results) Click here for more info on CrossFit
3. Circuit training - found in many gyms and outside with things like British Military Fitness. There will be lots of choice for circuits near you.
4. GRID - Virgin Active's new multi-sensory experience involving awesome music and equipment like TiYR, bulgarian bags and monkey bars.
5. Tabata - A fantastic programme involving intervals of 20secs work with 10 secs recovery. Click here to find out about Tabata
6. Insanity - A DVD you can do at home from creator Shaun T. Click here to find out about Insanity
7. 24 - another class exclusive to Virgin Active, based around bodyweight and primal moves, all in 30 mins. Click here to find out about 24
8. Spinning - The popular group cycle class that gets your heart pumping and improves your fitness
9. Run clubs - most areas have a local run club which can provide some great support and guidance to helping you get fit
10. Inferno - No list would be complete without a little plug for my own programme! Home based training, personal training and group training (incorporating some of the above methods too) you can find a package that suits you by clicking here
Live a long healthy life....
We tend to go to the gym and train every muscle except the one that really matters - the heart! It doesn't matter how flat my stomach is, or how toned my buns are (it's not all about the bass, bout the bass Meghan!) if my heart gives up it's GAME OVER!
But it's the one muscle we refuse to train. Weights make your heart strong, it doesn't make it healthy! So it doesn't matter how many weights i lift, there has to be some fitness training in there too!
^^^^See above for a list of fitness options!
The British Heart Foundation state that the single biggest predictor of a long healthy life is VO2 max (a fancy way of saying how fit you are) and the best method of improving that is through HIIT training.
In addition to keeping your heart healthy as we age we lose the ability to move which prevents us from living life to the full. Movement training becomes essential to prevent this. If you are not generally active and sporty then some movement training is vital. The best thing for this is ViPR. ViPR brings back the freedom of movement that you have lost meaning you will be able to play with the grandkids, carry your shopping, even just walk to the shops when you are older.
All the things we take for granted right now!
In addition to movement, ViPR places a huge emphasis on balance. Research shows if you fall and fracture a hip, the is a 20% chance you will die within 6 months and a 60% chance you will have to live in a home! Only one in five hip fracture victims get to live their life as normal afterwards!
While fitness and health are most important to us, we are all happier if our jiggly bits jiggle a bit less.
Losing fat isn't just about the exercise. Diet and lifestyle are huge factors. But there is one way you can maximise fat loss through exercise and that is by increasing the amount of muscle you have
When you increase muscle you burn more calories, and these calories come from fat! The BEST way to do this is to lift weights. It isn't the only way but it is the best. I will discuss putting on muscle a but more below.
Another way to ensure you maximise fat burning through exercise is through the HIIT training already covered.
The biggest mistake people make when trying to lose fat is the steady paced cardio. Join a gym, run for hours on a treadmill or row orplod along on a cross trainer, lose some fat initially, then the results stop, you train harder, nothing happens and then you have to give up.
Not to mention most people find it booorrrrriiiinnnnngggg!
Well if you're trying to lose fat, don't do it! Stick to weights or HIIT for the best results
I want the flat tummy though how do i get it?
Lifting weights is undoubtedly the best! Look at the body fat levels of the people in the weights area of the gym compared to the others (you'll have to ignore the grunting and the flying testosterone) they are a lot lower generally.
For muscles to grow, you have to do exercises that provide some weight in slow controlled movements for about 8-12 reps! Big movements such as squat, lunge and bench press are excellent for building muscle.
However again they are not everyone's cup of tea. You can build muscle using other tools such as kettlebells, bulgarian bags, TRX, and many more! If it's heavy and you lift it in various ways it is likely to add some muscle tissue. This extra muscle will help burn away that tummy fat, and give you are tight, toned, muscular frame!
Touching my toes - what can i do?
Flexibility is ultra important. Have you ever seen how elderly people move (and scarily some young people) more specifically how they can't move. There are extremely stiff. A lifetime of being sedentary combines with the natural ageing process results in tight, stiff, muscles and joints.
This will prevent us from doing the most simplest of tasks as we age unless we look after this now! It also contributes to that common ailment, the dreaded lower back pain, that plagues most of us at some point in our lives!
There are three recommendations I have for you to improve flexibility
1) Yoga - I admit when i was young and less mature, I didn't see the point of Yoga "Why go to the gym and lay down?" I use to think. Now as I am older and a bit stiffer, I see the point! Aside from the relaxation (think destressing) aspects of the class, it helps you stretch! I am totally envious of how these people effortlessly move and stretch and I wish I had done more when i was younger!
2) Power Plates - Medically proven to improve flexibility better than any other method, still people believe this to be nothing more than a gimmick! When I ran my marathon 4 years ago, if it wasn't for stretching on Power Plates I would have picked up many more niggles
3) Foam rolling - these funny sausage shaped objects help improve flexibility but 'rolling' out tight muscles and freeing up joints to move naturally
What about stuff that is just FUN?
My favourite type of exercise! Basically if it gets you moving and you enjoy it, just do it!
Zumba is fun! It probably isn't the best for any of the goals listed above, but it gets you moving
^^^^Not me! I arms that don't move in time with my two left feet!
You can play sports, go and join a walking club, box, go out cycling - literally do anything! There are thousands of tools and ways of training that means there will always be something you enjoy!
I don't agree with anyone of says "I don't like exercise!" They don't like the exercise they have done in the past! A lot of the training I have taught trainers in the past has been around games. And the feedback I get from them from their clients is "They LOVED it!"
What do i do now?
Identify your goal! What do you want to achieve from your training? What is most important to you if you have more than one goal? What are your likes and preferences? When you decide this you'll be able to find the the training that you will enjoy and stick to (and achieve RESULTS)
For more help on deciding what training would best suit you, have a read of this blog on your training style
And if you want any more information on the above, I am always here to advise!
Resident health expert and owner, Dean Zweck.