Get nice and stretchy with some Flexibility Training


Flexibility Training

A lot gets said about improving flexibility. Well… What exactly is flexibility?

Flexibility is the ability of a joint to move throughout a full range of movement. Muscles surrounding the joints are usually responsible for poor flexibility so it is important to stretch regularly to allow for muscle tension reduction and a greater range of motion to be achieved.

So what is the best way for you to increase your range of motion and flexibility?

The activity you are performing will help dictate which type of stretching method may be most beneficial for you. All of the methods listed below have their advantages and disadvantages and are important during different phases of exercise. The different types of stretching methods are:

Static this involves holding a stretch at the farthest most comfortable point. This is the safest and most common type of stretching.

Dynamic – is an activity specific stretch that involves moving a joint through full range of movement in a more movement focused approach. It may be performed after static stretching but must be performed before activity.

Passive This type of stretching uses another person or object to take a joint through range of movement without any effort from the subject. It is generally used in the rehabilitation process where one or more muscle groups may be weak.

Ballistic – This type of stretching involves bouncing or rhythmic movement, which takes a muscle to the maximum joint limit. It is not recommended to perform these types of stretches, as they do not allow the muscles enough time to adapt to the lengthening which sets off the stretch reflex, causing tension of the muscle and increased susceptibility to injury.

PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) – This type of stretching involves the contraction and relaxation of muscles in a stretch position. The theory behind PNF is that once the muscle has contracted, there should be less resistance to the stretch, allowing the joint to move in a greater range of motion. PNF should be done with a partner so that the subject can apply force to something and then the partner increase the stretch after contraction occurs. These must be performed after the muscles are warm, with a partner and contraction held for up to 10 seconds.

The most important time to undertake a flexibility program is after exercise as research shows that this is the time when the muscles are most susceptible to lengthen as a result of the muscle being completely warm.

Stretching has many benefits to many people. Stretching increases the joint range of motion/movement; as a result of this the risk of injury is dramatically decreased. Stretching can decrease stiffening/tightening of muscles after exercise which helps promote recovery.  An improvement in muscle coordination between muscle groups is also another benefit of stretching.

Having an increased range of motion can also aid in being able to achieve a more optimal posture. Studies have also shown that flexibility training can help to improve maximal force production and 1RM performance. In other words stretching can make you stronger!

Flexibility training is important for all ages however the appropriate method needs to be taken into consideration. The most important time to stretch is post exercise after which the muscles are completely warmed up. The most common and safest type of stretching is static. Stretching has many benefits, including decreasing the risk of injury by increasing the joint range of movement. So make sure after your next session you get nice and stretchy!

Stay tuned for our flexibility ebook that is coming out soon. It will help you to get the most out of a full body stretching program.

image source.



Caffeine: Part 4 Are the negative side effects of caffeine enough to warrant concern?

Last week we discussed moderate negative side effects of caffeine, this week we will discuss some of the more serious side effects you can suffer from use of caffeine

Anyone in a high risk group should be aware of the severe negative effects. People in this high risk group who should minimise caffeine intake include people with mood disorders, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, chronic intestinal issues, work night shift or women who are pregnant… or even men that are pregnant! 🙂

The negative effect of caffeine in increasing heart rate can create problems for people with heart conditions, and in high doses, caffeine can induce irregular heartbeats in healthy people.

The physical dependence on caffeine can cause excessive sleepiness and ultimately cause sleep disorder. Caffeine can disrupt sleep cycles, causing less deep restful sleep, particularly when the person drinks caffeinated beverages within a few hours of bedtime. So while one person may be using coffee to get started in the morning, one reason they might need this extra boost because they are getting inadequate sleep the night before. This is in big issue for night shift workers who constantly use caffeine to try to adjust to the time of day.

People with any panic or anxiety disorders are much more prone to reacting badly from increased heart rate. Even in small doses, caffeine can create panic attacks and interfere with medications taken to calm the system.

People with high blood pressure or high blood sugar levels need to be very weary of consuming caffeine as both of these things are raised after intake. The liver releases glucose into the bloodstream after adrenalin has been released from the adrenal glands. This rise in blood glucose levels can be dangerous for diabetics.

Overall caffeine can cause a range of moderate to severe side effects. It is extremely important that people in a high risk category that have certain physical conditions will tend to have more problems with caffeine and should definitely minimise intake. On the other hand people who are healthy and drink caffeine occasionally will only have minimal side effects. So should you be using caffeine to boost your performance? Let us know what you think.



Caffeine: Part 3 Are the moderate negative side effects of caffeine enough to warrant concern?

too much coffeeThe past couple of weeks we have spoken about how caffeine positively affects sporting performance. There is however some negative side effects which need to be discussed. Negative side effects of caffeine can be broken down into moderate and serious side effects. This week we will discuss some of the moderate negative effects, and next Tuesday some of the more serious side effects so keep an eye out for that one.

Firstly caffeine is a stimulant and it will elevate heart rate, increase blood flow, and raise body temperature. Caffeine enters the blood stream where the brain detects and stimulates the adrenal glands to release adrenalin. This release in adrenalin will increase heart rate. The liver is then stimulated where glucose is released into the blood stream. As a result blood glucose levels go up and the pancreas then releases insulin to regulate blood glucose levels. This process triggers hypoglycaemia.

Caffeine is a diuretic which causes frequent urination and a reduction in water intake which can also cause a stomach upset. A stomach upset can also be due to the fact that caffeine contains around 208 acids.

While we may feel more alert and energised, caffeine intake can cause headaches. Small amounts of caffeine taken daily can create physical dependence on caffeine. For example if a regular coffee drinker fails to drink their daily dose of caffeine, they can end up with headaches. Withdrawal from caffeine can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending upon how much caffeine a person generally consumes.

All though there are negative side effects to caffeine most of the studies correlate the negative effects of caffeine with high caffeine intake, and with certain physical conditions or groups of people who tend to have more problems with caffeine. A small amount of caffeine intake by a completely healthy person may have minimal effect. People with certain conditions, or who consume large amounts of caffeine, may suffer more negative side effects.

So there are some minor negative effects of caffeine such as frequent urination and headaches; however a small amount from time to time will not be a major issue. A healthy person drinking caffeine occasionally will have a minimal effect on health. Next week we will discuss the more serious negative side effects of caffeine. So now you can hopefully make an informed decision as to wether to use it to help you improve your performance.



Fibre, why we need it in our daily diets

Fibre is talked about a lot; how we are not getting enough in our daily diets, how it has many benefits (not just to maintain a healthy digestive system), and how we need to eat more fibre-packed foods.

Fibre is a complex carbohydrate, but is indigestible by humans and is found in plant foods, like cereals, pulses, fruits and vegetables. There are 2 types of fibre: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre has many benefits. It is able to absorb water and produces a gel-like substance in your intestines as it passes through, slowing down the digestion process and the absorption of carbohydrates, especially glucose, maintaining blood sugar levels, and reducing hunger cravings. Soluble fibre is also able to bind with cholesterol and prevent it from being absorbed back into the bloodstream, thereby lowering the cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of heart disease. Insoluble fibre, as the name suggests, is indigestible, and its main role is to add bulk to your faeces, speed up the digestion process through the intestines, and clean out your digestive system. It is also known as ‘roughage’.

As we can see, including both types of fibre in our diet has many health benefits. These include: lowering cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers (colon or bowel), and assisting in weight loss and weight management. People who don’t consume enough fibre in their daily diet can experience constipation, haemorrhoids, IBS or become overweight or obese, to name a few.

Unlike other carbohydrates, fibre-rich foods are low in calories, bulky and filling, take longer to chew and will leave you feeling fuller for longer. It is believed that including soluble fibre foods in your diet can help to lose weight due to the slowing down of the digestive process, the delay in the absorption of sugars, and by helping you feel more full and satisfied, as previously mentioned.

It is recommended by many organisations that we should aim to consume around 30-35g of fibre daily, and gradually increase the amount to avoid any negative side-effects. Also remember that some fibres absorb water, so make sure you are drinking lots of it. There are many foods readily available to us which are packed full of fibre, including legumes, wholegrain cereals and breads, fruits, vegetables, brown rice, potatoes (with skin), lentils, beans, nut and seeds, and oats. Sometimes by making a few simple changes to our diet we can double our fibre intake, leading to a healthy body. Here is a link to a website which has a breakdown of fibre in some foods for you to look over and get an idea of the difference a few small changes can make:


The main reasons we need fibre in our diet are to help our digestion, to help fight and prevent disease, and to help control our body-weight. By including a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, pulses and oats in our diet, we can ensure we are consuming both types of fibre to maintain a healthy body, inside and out.

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Are Low Calorie Diet Shakes all they’re cracked up to be?

Everywhere you go you find a new weight-loss/meal replacement diet shake that will give you the quick-fix weight-loss. These VCLD (very low calorie diet) shakes have been on the market for a few years now and there are over 10 different brands now, all competing with each other. A few familiar names include Optifast (the original), Celebrity Slim, Tony Fergusson, Ultra Slim, Biggest Loser, Kick Start, Optislim and Fat Blaster, just to name a few.

These meal replacement shakes are a way to help you control your calorie intake without having to worry about what you should be eating and counting calories. Although they are extremely low in calories, comprising of around 800 calories per day, they are nutritionally balanced and contain all the recommended daily amounts of vitamins and minerals. They are usually recommended by your Doctor for people who need to rapidly lose weight and whose BMI is above 30.

There are both pros and cons to following a weight-loss plan such as the VCLD. The short term benefits (or Pros) can include rapid weight-loss, keeping temptation away, and having a quick and convenient way to prepare your meals in the go. The negative aspects to such a program are: minimal carbohydrates (which can affect the body in the long term); not learning how to eat properly; normally weight is put back on after you stop consuming the shakes; not enough fibre through lack of fresh fruits and vegetables; you can be left feeling hungry; the diet can be expensive.

Unless specified by your Doctor, these shakes are usually consumed twice a day (normally for breakfast and lunch), followed by a small protein and low GI vegetable-based meal. It is also recommended that you consume 2-3 snacks throughout the day of around 100 calories each, and a minimum of 8 glasses of water to maintain adequate hydration.

There are some people for whom this sort of weight-loss plan may not be beneficial, including pregnant or breastfeeding women, children or adolescents, type I diabetics, people with kidney, liver or CV disease, and people who are lactose intolerant (due to skim milk powder contained in this product). However, people with type II diabetes may benefit from this under their Doctor’s supervision. There are also possible side-effects some people may experience while taking this product, including headache, dizziness, bad breath, constipation, nausea and diarrhoea. Please be aware of these and cease following this program if they become apparent.

Overall, taking these low calorie diet shakes will help you lose a few quick kilos but such a lifestyle is unsustainable and not teaching you how to eat properly for your body. I believe that it is essential to provide support and education to individuals who want to start taking diet shakes, but they need to learn how to eat healthily for themselves and how to keep their excess weight off, through both diet and exercise.



Lazy Sunday @ The Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Good Morning, hope you are having a great weekend. And even if you are not it is about to get there, if you have nothing to do today you can get some laughs from one of the numerous funny men/women that are on show for the comedy festival.

Over the next month or so Melbourne is playing host to some of the best comedy acts in the world as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. There are plenty of acts to go and see including Arj Barker, Adam Hills, Car Barron, Charlie Pickering, Josh Thomas and Wil Anderson just to name a few.

You can check out a full list of the acts showing by jumping onto the Melbourne International Comedy Festival website and head on down to get a huge abdominal workout courtesy of the worlds best comedians.

Comment below and let us know who your favourite is.