23

Nov

Can you get strong without bulking up?

Everyone’s perception of their ideal body varies. While many of us want definition, not everyone wants muscle bulk. There are many myths around that state lifting heavy weights will increase your muscle bulk but many of these are simply not true. An example could be that lifting lighter weights for more reps aims to tone, while lifting heavy builds bulk.

Lift Heavy – Why to lift heavy

A better understanding of basic weight training methodologies is first needed to understand why load bearing exercise is necessary. In very simple terms, there are three broad styles of resistance training. These are:

  • Strength
  • Hypertrophy
  • Muscular Endurance

Each of these styles has a recommended repetition scheme and intensity level associated with it. These are as follows:

  • Strength (2-5 sets of 1-6 repetitions at 85-95% of 1 rep max)
  • Hypertrophy (3-5 sets of 8-12 repetitions at 75-85% 1 rep max)
  • Muscular Endurance (2-3 sets of 12-20 repetitions at 50-75% 1 rep max)

Typically we see most gym goers using a hypertrophy program, usually associated with a bodybuilding approach, or a muscular endurance program, with a perceived “toning” effect as the ultimate goal. But why should we consider lifting heavy and using a Strength training approach?

Firstly, strength training improves bone density. This is hugely important as we age and helps increase our body’s longevity. Secondly, it does exactly what it says on the label – it gets us stronger! Why is this important? We need functional strength as we age, the ability to pick up a heavy weight from the ground and transport it to another destination – think picking up the kids or carrying shopping bags!

A huge misconception is that lifting heavy weights will make you bulky. Quite the opposite in fact – lifting heavy weights will tone and cause what’s referred to as “functional hypertrophy”. This means that the cross sectional area of your muscle will expand without holding on to excess sarcoplasm or water. “Non-functional hypertrophy” is typical of the bodybuilding approach where a trainee gets much bigger musculature without actually significantly increasing the force that can be applied by those muscles.

Work for shorter periods to fatigue – increases strength

A huge advantage to strength training is that you work for shorter periods of time prior to reaching fatigue. This means a shorter and yet, more effective workout.

Even better, it requires minimal equipment. Here is a list of recommended equipment to get you started:

How to get best results

As with any type of training, it is important to have routine and structure in order to maximise your results. It is wise to talk with a trained professional to get the best advice however, below are some links to some basic starter programs for strength training:

One final thing – ladies, the likelihood of you adding significant mass by doing any type of resistance training is incredibly minimal. Our primary growth hormone is testosterone and to foster significant changes in muscle size, one needs a significant amount of this hormone. Females simply don’t possess enough testosterone to “bulk up” in the same way as males. In fact, males produce 30 times more testosterone than females!

Dave Robertson is a Strength & Conditioning Coach with over a decade of industry experience. He enjoys blogging for Little Bloke Fitness and in the past has also owned a personal training studio in London & a CrossFit gym in Melbourne. He is completing postgraduate studies in Sports Coaching, is a former semi-professional rugby union player and has coached two national record holders in Powerlifting & one state champion in Olympic Weightlifting.

21

Jan

You don’t know SQUAT!

The squat is arguably the king of all strength exercises. It requires you to be able to sit in deep flexion of the hip, knee and ankle while maintaining a neutral spine. Couple this with load and you have a brutal exercise that challenges you not only physically, but mentally as well. Despite having only been the industry for a short time, I have seen some absolutely horrendous squats. Let’s go over the basics to get you moving better, help you stay injury free, and stack a whole heap more weight on the bar!

SQUAT TECHNIQUE

1. Start by lining up your hands by putting your pinky finger on the ring engraved into the bar. With your hands grasping the bar, move under it and sit the bar on your traps. If you don’t have the flexibility to have your hands in closer, play around with having them out wider. Not matter your hand position you should be pulling you shoulders BACK and DOWN. Keeping the muscles of the upper back activated and tight is crucial throughout the squat.

2. Unrack the bar then sit back into your butt slightly, turning your knees outwards and keeping your chest nice and big. Walk the weight out by taking three steps to get into position. One step back, and two steps outward.

3. Standing nice and tall with your head facing up and forward, descend into the squat with your hips travelling backward and your knees travelling outward.

4. Once you have reached depth, drive through the heels, push your knees out and your back hard and up into the bar. This will ensure you are recruiting all the right muscles to get the weight up.

Note: We are all individuals that possess different limb and torso lengths. These steps are to be used as a general guideline. It is highly recommended you seek an experienced personal trainer or strength coach to find the best squatting style for you.

SQUAT MOBILITY EXERCISES

1. Squat hold

 

2. Wall stretch

 

3. Ankle mobilisation

 

4. Diamond stretch

 

PROGRAMMING THE SQUAT

A common and effective way to increase your squat is complete 5 sets of 5 reps at a challenging weight, and increase this in small increments (e.g 2.5kg) each week. Say you reach the 4th week and you find that you are losing form or can’t make the reps, scale back a few KG’s or so and work your way up again. This way you will be making strong steady progression.

Example exercise diary log:
Week 1: 5×5 @ 60kg
Week 2: 5×5 @62.5kg
Week 3: 5×5 @ 65kg
Week 4: 3×5, 2×4 @ 67.5kg (Time to scale back)
Week 5: 5×5 @ 62.5kg

etc….

There are many other ways to program, but for a novice lifter this simple and easy to understand program will be more than enough. Main focuses should be on developing an efficient motor pattern, mobility work and simple and effective programming.

Included in most programs will be supplementary exercises called assistance/accessory lifts. These lifts can aid us in bringing up weak areas, but should never be prioritised over or be too different from the main movement.

Listed below are some common accessory lifts that lifters use to get them stacking more weight on the bar:

– High and low bar squats (High and low bar refers to the position of the bar on your back. Powerlifters will often squat with the bar sitting lower on their back to gain a better biomechanical advantage in order to squat more weight)
– Front squat
– Pause squat
– Safety bar squat
– One and a quarter squat
– Box squat
– Split squat

DO’s, DON’Ts & DIFFERENCES

Below we have a beautifully constructed collage of some classic do’s, don’ts and differences in squat technique.

First up, we have the lazy ass…

alex do dont 1

 If you find your knees coming in like these, get a thera-band around your knees and aim for 50 bodyweight squats a day for the next month. That should get your new and efficient motor pattern happening nicely… and build up some strength in your butt!

Next we have the half squatter…

alex do dont 2

If your hip joint isn’t descending below or at least parallel to your knee joint, you ain’t getting’ low enough! Get some mobility happening through the mobility exercises outlined above and squat DEEP!

Lastly, we have the difference between a high bar and low bar squat position…

alex do dont 3

This was mentioned above in my list of squat variations. A low bar squat is typically only used by powerlifters in order to squat more weight. This is because it changes the biomechanics in a way that allows you to use your posterior chain muscles (think glutes and hamstrings) a lot more than a regular olympic style/high bar squat. Low bar squats are increasing in popularity in strength and conditioning programs for athletes, and are mainly used for variation and also the extra load the athlete will be able to move with the lower bar position as well as solid posterior chain development which is crucial in sport.

Feel free to comment with any questions or clarifications. Get squatting!

This article was written by Revolutions Strength Specialist Alex Deken. To learn a little more about Alex you can view his full personal trainer profile here. To book a session with Alex email us at hq@revopt.com.au or call 1300 362 311. Alex runs many of our Pure Strength classes which can be accessed with one of our Group Personal Training memberships.

For some more advice on mobilisation and stretching techniques to improve your squatting and overall performance you can grab a copy of Revolution’s Activation and Mobilisation eBook or our Stretching and Felxibility eBook.

They are both available for digital download on the Amazon Kindle and Apple iBooks stores by following the links below.

Activation and Mobilisation eBook (great for warm up and preparing yourself pre-training):

Amazon Kindle Store – revo.pt/activationebook

Apple iBooks Store – revo/pt/activationibook

Stretching and Flexibility eBook (great for cool down and flexibility work post training)

Amazon Kindle Store – revo.pt/stretchingebook

1

Oct

Vanilla Coconut Protein Pancakes

These are delicious. Give them a go and let us know your thoughts!

vanilla cocnut protein pancakestackIngredients

2 Tbsp spelt flour

2 Tbsp almond meal

3 Tbsp protein powder

1/2 Tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

1/2 Tsp chia seeds

1 Tbsp shredded coconut

1 Egg

2-4 Tbsp almond milk

Directions

Combine all dry ingredients into a bowl. Then add wet ingredients (start with 2 tbsp of almond milk and add accordingly. it will generally depend on the consistency of the protein powder as each is different) and stir together. Heat a pan and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Pour tbsp of batter to form each pancake. Once the batter starts to bubble on top flip the pancakes and cook for another minute or two.

Serve with toppings of your choice.

Suggestion – 2-3 tbsp of greek yogurt, 1 tbsp pure maple syrup, water to thin  out to preferred consistency and some shredded coconut on top!

This recipe makes 4 pancakes.

10

Sep

Explosive Training For Explosive Weight Loss

Revolution Personal Training

In general the battle to lose weight is all about the ‘energy in vs. energy out’ equation. Maintaining a healthy, well balanced diet goes a long way to helping make sure you stay on the right side of this, and getting lots of exercise will tip the scales even further in your favour. But finding the time to have a workout and burn off those unwanted calories can be difficult. If we were all able to devote a couple of hours every day to work out then I’m sure the whole world would be looking lean, fit & fantastic.

The fact of the matter is that there are very few people out there who have the luxury or the inclination to be able to devote that sort of time to exercising. So what we need to make sure we do is to maximise the time we do have to make sure our workouts are as efficient as possible. We need to ensure that even if we can only allocate 45 minutes to an exercise program, in that 45 minutes we must work as hard as possible and burn the highest number of calories possible, but more importantly cause the strongest calorie after burn possible.

A great way to do this is to incorporate some explosive training into your strength training routine; you can do this through the introduction of some basic plyometric exercises. This is a great way to increase the amount of calories your body uses for your workouts. Just be sure to get some proper instruction on correct technique before you go off on your own.

The reason that this plyometric type of exercise is capable of burning so much more energy than standard resistance training exercises is in the extra range of motion and added muscle recruitment that is required. Take the body-weight squat and jump squat, for example.

The body-weight squat is a great exercise for strengthening the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and lower back muscles. Traditionally, it goes from a standing position, down until the quads are at least parallel to the ground, and then back to standing, as if you were sitting on an invisible chair.

The jump squat can utilise those same muscles and the same range of motion, but in order to get off the ground we need to recruit more muscles from the calf, allowing us to extend up onto our toes, and then propel ourselves off the ground. In order to get off the ground we are required to apply considerably more force, and when you consider that the amount of energy used is a product of the force applied and distance moved, these types of exercises will come out a clear winner in energy-use, every time.

Some great basic exercises to start with are the squat jump and push ups with a clap. Try adding those into your program and start burning some extra calories today. If you want to see how to do those, click on the exercises to check out a video from our YouTube channel.

Aside from those there are loads of other exercises you can incorporate, you just need to use your imagination. But in the meantime here is a short list to get you on your way.

Box Jumps

Plyometric Lunges

Broad Jumps

Bounding

Single Leg Hops

Medicine Ball Throw Variations

Plyometric Push Ups

If you have any favourite exercise you think should be added to this list we would love to hear from you. Just comment below.

13

Apr

Why The Fat Burning Zone Is A Load Of Crap!

NoEver heard people talk about the ‘fat burning’ zone before? Ever heard people say that if you walk you will burn more ‘fat’ than if you run? Sound too good to be true…. That’s because it is! This mythical ‘fat burning’ zone is inferring that exercising at a low heart rate (60-70% of max heart rate) will burn more fat than working at a high intensity.

During exercise we use a combination of fat, carbohydrates and protein to give us energy. Fats are a vast energy source as we have enough to last us around 5 days. We mainly use fats as a dominant fuel source at low intensities because they break down quite slowly. Carbohydrates (stored in the muscle and liver as glycogen) are used at higher intensities because their break down rate is faster. Protein provides a minimal contribute to energy during exercise.

So yes it is true that we use fats at low intensities and carbohydrates as high intensities, however when trying to burn fat it’s not what fuel we are using that’s important it’s the total amount of calories we burn that really matters. The higher the level of exercise intensity, the greater the amount of energy required to fuel the exercise. Therefore, high intensity exercise will burn a greater amount of total calories than lower intensity exercise, it is this total calorie burn that we should be most concerned about.

A study that compared a 20 minute jog compared to a 60 minute walk found we burn over double the amount of calories during the jog. See the results below:

Low Intensity Exercise
60-70% MHR
60min (Walking)

Total Calories Burned – 277
% Calorie Burn from Fats – 50%
Total Fat Calories Burnt – 138.5

High Intensity Exercise

80-85% MHR (Heart rate Max)

60min (Running)

Total Calories Burned – 986
% Calorie Burn from Fats – 25%

Total Fat Calories Burnt – 246.5

Whilst the lower intensity exercise burns a greater percentage of fat, the total amount of fat burnt in the higher intensity exercise is greater due to the substantial increase in total calories burnt.

Despite running burning more fat than walking, it’s not for everyone! It is important that you slowly build up to running if you are not already a runner. So next time you go for a walk try incorporating some intensity, for example try jogging for 30 – 60 seconds every couple of minutes. Try extending the length of the jog every time so you can eventually build up to jogging for the entire duration.

Research shows that it is not what fuel you are burning, whether it’s fats or carbohydrates, but in fact the amount of calories you are burning. As we have learned lower intensity exercise does burn a greater amount of fat but higher intensity exercise burns more calories which is more important. In order to build up to being able to jog continuously or work up to these higher intensity forms of exercise it is however important to start small and work your way up.

9

Feb

Exercise for your Body Type

Exercise for your body type.

This article was featured in the Herald Sun on Monday the 1st of February 2010.

PEAR
 You’re a bit wider on the bottom than you are on top. Tone your arms and shoulders, and get tighter all over with our pear-friendly workout.

Four exercises;
Body Weight Training, High Reps, Low Resistance (3 sets, 15 reps)
Lunges
Push Ups
Dips
Prone Hold

What are the common body issues for this body shape?
You can tend to put on size quickly on your bottom half.

Exercises that accentuate these issues
Heavy weight training for your thighs and glutes and low rep ranges will tend to accentuate your body type and may lead to you feeling out of proportion with your body.

STRAIGHT 
You’re stick straight with very few curves. Add more shape to your waist and sculpt your glutes with this workout for straight body types.
Four exercises;
Weight Training Lower Reps, Higher Resistance (2 sets, 10 reps)
Squats
Bench Press
Supported Row
FB Crunches

What are the common body issues for this body shape?
Your body is slow to change.  High intensity weight training, with higher loads will help you to shape your body closer to where you want it to be.

Exercises that accentuate these issues
Long duration, high intensity cardio-vascular work will keep you looking like a bean pole.  You will need to work hard with your food intake, and spend some time in the gym to sculpt up your shape.

CURVY
 Your bust and hips are larger compared to your waist. Add full-body muscle tone and shape up those arms and legs with this curves-a-licious workout.

Four exercises;
Longer duration cardio-vascular work and Body Weight Training, High Reps, Low Resistance (3 sets, 15 reps)
Kickboxing classes!
Fartlek Cardio (Run/Walk interval training)
Step Ups
Push Ups

What are the common body issues for this body shape?
You tend to put on size easily when not training or watching your weight.  You need to be constantly vigilant on both!

Exercises that accentuate these issues
High resistance weight training may cause you to bulk up.  Keep the weights low, but the intensity and duration of your workouts high.

ATHLETIC
 You have broad shoulders and narrow hips. Tighten your core, and add some shape to your butt and thighs with this athletic-body-type workout.

Four exercises;
Boxing
Squats
Lunges
Step Ups

What are the common body issues for this body shape?
You tend to build muscles easier than most on your upper half.  You need to watch that you keep your training load in check to keep your body in proportion.

Exercises that accentuate these issues
Heavy load, lower repetition weight training on your upper body could cause you to become overly muscular.