Author Archives: Luke Scott

Find your best fit and you’ll find your ultimate fitness

Where do you or why do you train where you train?

Like most people, when I first joined a gym, it was not for fun. It was because it was something I thought I ‘had’ to do.

I’ve been a competitive athlete for as long as I can remember, and until the age of 17 a large chunk of my days were spent sprinting on a track or trying to get a ball into an absurdly located hoop. Like a lot of young athletes, after graduating high school I felt aimless without the structure of classes and training. Oh sure I was still active, but after such a high level of activity for most of my life the drop in intensity affected me in ways that I did not anticipate. I no longer had to wake up early for practice, so I stayed up later. Without school and team trainings, I had to actually make plans to see my friends (ridiculous, I know). Worst of all, as expected when someone goes from training over 12 hours a week to not at all, my body started changing… So I decided to join a gym.

Joining a gym used to conjure up a bleak image of rows of treadmills, and oversized men grunting, in a room of mirrors whose sole purpose was to make you unhappy with yourself. When I did first join a gym, the reality was not far off at all, aside from the perky music constantly blaring to mask the sounds of discomfort. Luckily, that is no longer the case. Unless that’s what you’re into which is fine too. But sometime in the last decade or so, the definition of ‘fitness’ changed. Somewhere between activewear as acceptable streetwear and goji berries becoming a household staple, the concept of a gym became a much broader term, with Crossfit boxes, Yoga studios, Functional training studios like our own RevoPT, and everything in between. Exercise has became less about putting in the man hours against ones will, and more about what KIND of person YOU are, (and want to become).

I think we’re better and fitter for it!

Humans are tribal animals, always searching for a sense of belonging. Whether you are an accountant with a high stress work environment, a stay at home mum covered in pureed peas or a night owl of a university student, there is a training community for you. Or hell, you might even find more in common with someone from one of these other walks of life than you ever dreamed of. The right gym for you is no longer just the place that is located the closest with the cheapest membership. That is not what keeps someone going back. The place we choose to train is where someone else smiled and introduced themselves at your first class when they saw you were nervous. Where a guy you had never spoken to in your life cheers encouragingly at you that you can do it when you thought you couldn’t. The place you choose to train is where the other mums share the appreciation for some time to yourself and say they’ll see you next week.

The actual type of exercise, be it a 45-minute HIIT session or a 90 minute strength grind, is and always will be a factor in the progress you’re achieving, but that almost becomes a peripheral factor in your overall wellbeing. The connections we build within the wall of the places we choose to train at are what keeps us going back. Before you know it YOU are the person introducing yourself to a new face. YOU are the one shouting encouragement to someone you’ve never spoken to. And along the way you have become physically stronger, you’ve gotten leaner, and your energy levels are back up.

Seeing many of the bonds and friendships formed here at RevoPT between people from all walks of life that had never met before is one of the many highlights of working in an environment with a culture such as this. People regularly catch up out side of the gym, for fitness based activities but also simple social outings. This might not be the main reason you to start working towards a healthier version of yourself but I’m pretty darn sure it’s going to help you get your butt to the gym on those days that dragging yourself in here seems almost impossible.

That, in my humble opinion, is one of the main reasons why we choose to train where we train. So if you are still stuck in a cycle of dragging yourself to a gym and seeing no progress, or simply struggling with motivation incessantly, perhaps it is time to consider that it isn’t that exercise is just ‘hard’, but that you have yet to find the place that serves who you are on your strength and fitness journey.

Find your tribe!

Strength, Stamina and… Suppleness?

The three S’s that make up what it means to be fit and healthy, but before studying to be working in the fitness industry, strength was pretty much the only S that I was interested in and that featured in my training regime.

Before I became a PT I was working as an electrician, only interested in being strong for work and looking good down at the beach. I made the career switch to become a trainer a couple of years ago and it was during my studies that I learned about the other two S’s of fitness.

I knew being fit was good for you, but the importance of stamina became clear to me when I got back into boxing a couple of years ago. It was only then that i realised being fit and having Stamina was something I needed if i was going to last more than one round.

Playing team sports throughout school meant that you never had to be super fit to do well, because you would have your teammates to cover your back if you needed it, or if you knew your sport well you could manipulate your position and lacking in fitness and still be a successful contributor to the team. Boxing on the other hand, well, there’s no one that you can sub in and have your back when you’re out of breath, It’s just you vs your opponent till the end! It was then when I started to introduce some Stamina training into my Strength routine and it was not long before I noticed improvements in my fitness when I was boxing.

I started to introduce flexibility and mobility work into my training plan after hearing one of the boxing trainers say to me one day “Matty, you’re a little too tense, just relax and let your punches flow smoothly. Your striking will become much less predictable”. It was a very simple request but I found performing this basic task a little difficult. He then suggested “maybe you try out the yoga class we run here. It might help you loosen up and relax”. What a perfect up sell! I took the fries with that…

Yoga was something I would have never considered doing in the past but after hearing about all the health benefits from stretching and meditating and knowing this may improve my boxing so I could soon step into the ring, I thought why not give it a go.

I knew I needed to stretch more. I was always tight from training but never made time for the third S “suppleness”. I thought that if I went to a class I would have no choice but to participate in a good hour of stretching. I was struggling to do a lot of the yoga poses at first, but luckily for me, doing yoga at a martial arts gym meant there was a lot of other beginner students and people like me who were really tight and struggled with some of the basics.

Just like strength and stamina training, it was only a matter of time before my suppleness improved. After a couple of months of 1-2 yoga classes a week and stretching for a couple of minutes after my strength sessions and my flexibility had improved dramatically!

I was finally able to do most of the yoga poses, my posture had improved, I was recovering faster from my strength sessions and not pulling up as sore. I also found myself in a more relaxed state not just while I was boxing, but throughout the day!

Unfortunately for most people (including myself until recently) suppleness is nearly the most overlooked and neglected S out of all three areas of health and fitness. We always focus on being stronger, faster and fitter, but why not more mobile and flexible? Why do we always overlook joint health until we are injured and have pain?

Flexibility can be defined as the range of motion that a muscle has before it reaches end range, or the ability to move muscles and joints through their full range of motion. The more flexible we are means the greater our range of motion during our lifts resulting in a larger area of the muscle being worked. This improves our muscle blood flow resulting in faster recovery time from our strength training. Being more flexible also reduces muscle tension resulting in a decreased chance of injury.

If you find yourself in a certain position for too long, you’ll notice the tightness in certain areas. If you are a person that is in a position for a long period of time, you may want to be doing regular stretches which oppose the contracted muscles in those positions. Doing so will assist with keeping correct posture and helping your body to be better balanced.

If you’re like myself and find it hard to make time for stretching, try our mobility classes that run on Thursdays. It’s a great way to finish off a big week of strength training and reset the body and also to start to increase or improve the areas in which you might be lacking in movement. Generally we focus on a different area of the body each week and test out your mobility and flexibility to combat being stuck in those common bad posture positions.

If you think you could be doing more stretching or you’ve considered the thought of what it would be like to be a bit a little more flexible and more mobile but you’re not sure where to start, please don’t hesitate to ask a trainer for some help and specific guidance on what you should be doing to assist with achieving your other health and fitness goals.

Thanks for reading and make sure you leave me a comment if you have any questions at all.

Thanks.

Matt

Running? Here are the top 5 tips to stay injury free from JLB!

We are fast approaching the running season with some of Melbourne’s iconic running events.

Run 4 Kids, Great Ocean Road Running Festival, Run Melbourne and Melbourne Marathon to list a few.

These great events see our running volume and intensity beginning to ramp right up. So I’m here to give my top 5 tips to help you make the most out of your season and see you running personal bests rather than rehabbing injuries.

1. Make a Plan

Like the quotes says ‘failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail’

When it comes to long endurance events, preparation is key. Knowing exactly what is required from you as the athlete will set you up for success. Acknowledging the distance and respecting the training. By making a plan you are able to look at the training process as a whole. What is needed to get you to the start line and to conquer the race. For many this may include getting a coach for guidance, or developing a week by week program to follow over the build. Whichever direction you decide, ensure that throughout that plan you are adaptable. Life happens, which can cause some sessions to be missed. And thats ok, as you have a overall plan of attack. One missed session in scheme of a 12-14 week build is ok.

While making your running plan, researching what the course is like, does it have hills, is it flat or is it on a trail? Whichever it is, replicating those conditions in training will enhance your result come race day. Finally when planning, what month does your run fall in? Will it be hot or in the cooler months? Ensure you get training in similar race day conditions will also set you up for success.

2. Progressive Overload

Progressive overload is how our bodies adapt to the volume of training. When it comes to running, to often I have heard of people going from 1 run to 4 in a week and very shortly after that becoming injured, Their bodies simply weren’t conditioned to that amount of training in such a short period of time. As I said previously, acknowledging and respecting the distance is crucial. Slowly increasing the kilometres and time spent running each week, allows the body to adjust to the impact of running and in return build a strong cardiovascular fitness level. Every 2-3 weeks ensure there is a deload week where your body has a chance to recharge and recover from the previous amounts of running.

Progressive overload is also a great way to approach your running if you feel like you have hit a wall. If you don’t seem to be getting any faster in your runs. We tend to be creatures of habit, doing the same thing over and over. Or in this case running the same route or same distance each week. By changing the intensity or duration or adding hill repeats to the run will push our bodies that little more and increase muscle speed and strength which will improve our overall performance come race day. Again this is done progressively over the build to maximise the benefits of adding the different intensities.

3. Include Strength Training

A hot topic in the endurance world is strength training. This is absolutely key to include if you are running. Strength training will enhance and protect your body against the impact that occurs when running. Targeting the muscles through the hips, glutes, legs are core that will help develop strength and power while keeping the body in balance. The stronger you become from strength training the more resilient your body becomes from the repetitive movements of running. Also the strength training can aid in improving your run efficiency, allowing your to run for longer and finishing faster.

4. Activation and Mobility Pre Sessions

Consider activation and mobility pre and post sessions as injury prevention. If we get our muscles firing pre run we are setting ourselves up for the best possible session. Activation through the muscles we create blood flow, more oxygen is sent to the working muscles warming them up to allow them to be stretched freely rather than stiffening up, think of the muscles as an elastic band.

Activation and mobility exercises should be completed prior to the workout, completing movements or muscles groups that are used in the session this will ensure connections from central nervous system to the muscles are ready for activity.

5. Sleep

Sleep is where the magic happens. Its when and where our body recovers from what occurred that day and the training sessions involved. Running depletes our energy, fluid and can slowly begins to breakdown our muscles. Therefore quality sleep is essential to ensure our bodies are recovering so we can back it up the next day without feeling fatigued.

Sleep quality can be improved by reducing disturbances by wearing earplugs and sleeping in a cool, dark room. Following a pre-sleep routine of relaxing activities, avoiding light exposure from screens in the hour before bed, avoiding stimulants such as caffeine after noon and alcohol in the evening may increase your sleep quality and duration.

I hope these tips can help you have your best running season yet. I’d love to hear from you about what protocols you use to help keep your body injury free.

Happy running,

Jaimie-Lee

How to sleep your way to the top

It’s one of the most overlooked parameters for health!

Sleep can literally transform your life if you can get it right consistently, whereas lack thereof can wreak havoc on your day to day operations and your physical and psychological wellbeing.

Firstly, this blog has been inspired by the book, ‘The Sleep Revolution’ by Arianna Huffington and a Google Talk by Shawn Stevenson (links below). It has opened my eyes, which is kind of an oxymoron, to the value of a good quality night’s sleep and how it can impact your life and health so positively or in fact negatively.

Arianna Huffington on The Science of Sleep and Success

I’ve been closely monitoring my quality and quantity of sleep for a few months now and using this to assess how I feel on any given day to make the link between how my sleep is impacting my emotions and potentially fuelling my eating and recovery patterns. There are also other factors that contribute to how you feel like stress, exercise levels and nutrition that play a part so I also tried reducing stress by meditating regularly, reading, eating balanced nutrition and sticking to a regular training regime over this time.

I’ve been using an App called Sleep Cycle (it’s free on the app store) to track my sleep cycle and average quantity of sleep and if this topic interests you I recommend trying it.

What I have found is that when I get a good quality sleep I can perform well in my daily activities on less quantity. However if my sleep is not of a good quality and usually lacking in quantity and I am restless I will find myself tired, lethargic, impatient and less efficient at problem solving and higher thinking.

Start by asking yourself, how important is sleep to you?

Most of us, and this included me until I become more educated on this topic, undervalue sleep. I’m unsure as to why but it might have something to do with our work environments, the pressures of having deadlines and maybe just not knowing the education around how important sleep really is to a long healthy life, free of mental health concerns and disease.

How many of you can say that you get between 7 – 9 hours of sleep a night? If you can, that’s great!

But how many of you that get enough sleep, can say that you wake up in the morning feeling fresh and ready to take on the day with your best foot forward?

Some of you may but I am guessing that the majority of people would be leaning towards the ‘NO’ side of the equation. Am I right?

Yes, quantity is important, but the quality of sleep is also a factor we really need to consider, so let’s talk about that.

Quantity vs. Quality

When we are younger we need more sleep, our cells are turning over in our bodies and brains faster and we require more physical and psychological repair. As we age this starts to slow, thus requiring less sleep.

It’s estimated that having between 7 – 9 hours of sleep is sufficient for the majority of us. The quality of that time can vary, and what does quality actually mean?

Basically ‘quality’ means the excellence in something. A quality sleep = an excellent sleep = free from waking or being woken during the night, free from middle of the night bathroom trips and general restlessness.

Now can you say that you get regular quality sleep?

If sleep is interrupted, it could be disrupting physical and or physiological repair.

The sleep cycle is broken into 5 phases, 2 of which (the Deep and REM sleep phases) are particularly needed for physical and psychological repair and regeneration. It’s interesting to note that the sleep cycle is about 90mins long so you will have at least 5 – 7 of these during one sleep night.

Now think about how interrupted, poor quality and quantity sleep night after night might be affecting your physical and mental health. It might not be the only answer to your health concerns but it might be a good place to start looking at for improving physical and mental health.

Shawn Stevenson, a best-selling author and creator of the Model Health Show explains the adverse effects of sleep deprivation being insulin resistance (which could lead to Type 2 diabetes), immune system failure, obesity and depression.

Shawn has some tips about getting a good quality night’s sleep. Some of these include:

  • Get more sunlight throughout the day which affects melatonin production
  • Avoid the screen including phones, television and such devices of technology for at least anhour before bed
  • Caffeine curfew, for most people this is around 4pm
  • Be cool and set up the temperature, if the room is too warm it will affect the sleep cycle
  • Go to bed at the right time. Humans get the most significant hormonal secretions andrecovery by sleeping during the hours of 10pm and 2am The rest of these can be found here: http://theshawnstevensonmodel.com/sleep-problems-tips/

He goes on to mention ‘a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal showed that sleep deprivation is directly related to an inability to lose weight. Test subjects were put on the same exercise and diet program, but those who were in the sleep deprivation group (less than 6 hours per night) consistently lost less weight and body fat than the control group who slept for 8+ hours a night.’

My education and information has come from a few different, easy to access sources and I would encourage you to have a look at the resources provided. I hope some of this resonates with you and you can be on your way to valuing sleep for all of its benefits. I hope this can help at least one of you have some control over a higher level of wellbeing.

I’d love to hear how many of you are intrigued by this topic and if you have any question I’d love to find the answer for you and create discussion around this.

Krystal McCluskey

More Resources:

The Key to POWERFUL Sleep for Ultimate Human Performance with Shawn Stevenson

The missing link in achieving your best.

We all set ourselves arbitrary goals this time of year. To be fitter, to be healthier, to lose a bit of weight.

I’m all for using this time of year to reset ourselves mentally. To refocus our energy and to set your sights on achieving more for yourself as you move forward.

We do it in business, in our personal lives, with our jobs and careers and I’m sure many of you, as I do, do the same with your personal relationships too. A date night once a week with your partner as a goal. To see your grandmother more often etc, etc.

When people talk about goal setting you’ll often hear about S.M.A.R.T. goals.

In short this means goals that are:

Specific

Measurable

Achievable

Realistic &

Timely or Time Bound

For me this works, and works well. Especially the timely part of things.

However, a missing link for me though is making your goals public, or essentially making yourself accountable to achieving your goals.

So, this year when you’re setting your goals for what you’re wanting to achieve for the year ahead ask yourself ‘Is competing the missing link in me reaching my goals?’.

Now I’m sure you have just said to yourself, ‘yeah right Luke, I’m wanting to run a marathon this year and now you’re wanting me to complete with the Kenyan’s…’.

Well not exactly.

What I mean is making the fact that you are going to be running the marathon public knowledge, telling everyone who will listen. Making them aware. Or at least the people that matter the most to you anyway. Especially those that you see most often.

Why? Because they’re going to help to keep you accountable to your plan. They’re going to be asking you every time they see you how your marathon training is going or how close you are to running that sub 20 minute 5k, or if you’ve nailed that 200kg deadlift.

They’re going to be checking in with you and if you are serious about your goal your not going to be wanting to let them, and more importantly yourself down.

I have used this approach personally a couple of specific times to great effect. Once, when I ran the 2012 Melbourne Marathon and more recently with my first Weightlifting competition in December.

It wasn’t a big competition by any means, but for me it was the first step in part of a larger journey. It was a small local competition in Geelong. However, I really wanted to commit to the process, train well for it, learn from all of the experiences I was to have along the way of training for something that I was a complete novice at and push myself to get better at something.

I could have easily keep it anonymous from my colleagues and family but I wanted to make sure with all of the pressures of life, family and work I committed to competition on this day and moved forward from there. It made me a lot more nervous on the day knowing that everyone would be eagerly awaiting updates when I was finished but that was all part of the journey.

A minor injury hiccup about 2 weeks out from competition could have easily derailed my plan as well had I not had my accountability network in full force. A bit of treatment and some modifications to my training plan had me back up to speed and feeling 100% for the day.

The result? Respectable I guess for where I was at as a complete novice. Something I was reasonably proud of.

The added bonus? The increased focus and dedication to my training in the lead up had me hit an all time PB only three days post competition.

Another thing competing helped me with was setting my expectations of myself in the future that little bit higher. Maybe something that was also partly responsible for that all time PB. We can all start to feel that we are tracking well. That we are reaching our potential. Spend a little time around people that are truely pushing themselves to their limits and we can quickly realise that we should be asking more of ourselves. Whether this is in life, our career or with our fitness. Five people who lift you up and push you harder and spend more time around them.

Competing can help us to connect with these like minded individuals and form bonds that can help us as we continue down the path of progress.

So as you’re setting your goals for the year ahead ask yourself if there is a way that you can turn your individual goal into something competitive. Once again, this doesn’t have to be outwardly competitive against the rest of the field in a marathon but it could mean you’re keeping yourself accountable against your previous best time in a run, a pace you’ve set for yourself or it could be more strength focused. Commit to competing in a novice weightlifting, powerlifting or strongman competition. If it’s more overall or general fitness would something like a Crossfit competition suit you, or Spartan Race or Tough Mudder.

If you’re anything like me you’ll find the pressure of impending competition will sharpen your training focus, help you remove any of the obstacles that seem to always otherwise find themselves in your way in normal circumstances and help you to really bring the best out of yourself.

So for me, 2018 holds many more opportunities to compete. I’m currently setting up my calendar to be jam packed, but also as realistic as possible so that my training can be taken seriously.

After all I want to make sure I take every opportunity I can to get myself back into this ridiculous looking onsie…