22

May

wim hof ice bath

Fad, fact or fiction – The Wim Hof Method

If you frequent Armstrong Street in Middle Park between grabbing a latte at the local cafe or a pub meal while you’re laundry is drying at the laundromat next door (as I’ve heard is the standard for a few of our members) you may have seen a few half naked and freezing people roaming the laneways.

These people may or may not be part way through a Wim Hof session with the one and only Lars from Lars Ice Bath.

So, what is it all about? Well, The Wim Hof Method is based on three pillars. They are 

  • Cold therapy or exposure
  • Breathing 
  • Commitment 
Trying to cover the commitment and mindset pillar whilst plunged in tub of ice… having a photo. 😀

The man behind this, Wim Hof believes that combining these three things can reduce stress, improve sleep quality, heighten your concentration and improve performance.

The theory goes that chronic stress is very bad where as acute or short bouts of stressors can be very beneficial for adaptation. Which makes sense if you think about the stimulus we apply in say the weight room. We wouldn’t apply the stress to our muscles chronically, that would just cause injury. Many of us in our professional or even personal lives place chronic stress upon our systems.

As someone who has been involved in the fitness industry for 10 years this all sounded very appealing and I was eager to put the theory to the test. 

Before diving into my experience a brief introduction into who Wim Hof is. Wim, aka “The Iceman”, is known as an athlete who has set Guinness world records for swimming and sitting under ice. He also holds the record time for a barefoot marathon on ice. Not bad right! Recently he featured on Channel 7’s Sunday Night which was a great break down and snap shot of who he is so below is a link of that episode if you would like to know more about him.

My Experience with the Wim Hof method .

Exposing ones body to freezing temperatures is one of the three pillars of the Wim Hof method. This method of cold body therapy  has picked up considerable ground across the globe, particularly in Australia as it has been linked with numerous health benefits. 

This method involves sitting in a sealed insulated container of ice for a period of time whilst the cold water is circulated around the body. Unlike the chryo chambers which use extremely cold air and are relatively expensive. The Wim Hof method is a affordable (and some say more effective) alternative.

I decided to give this method of recovery a try. I myself had just started getting back into full training off the back of an ACL reconstruction surgery in February 2018. To really reap the benefits I ensured I had done a heavy block of training leading up to the session.

My week had been:

  • 2 x heavy weight sessions
  • 1 x olympic style weightlifting lifting session 
  • 2 x metabolic conditioning sessions

Fair to say my body was relatively fatigued! 

So I gathered a small group of brave friends (RevoPT’s very own Luke and Darren) to join me in this session at middle Park Fitness where we met the man behind this method in Melbourne Lars or also known as the Ice Viking. 

Luke after a full submersion in the ice bath.

We arrived and entered a small confined space where the Ice bath session would taken place. After some quick introductions we were told to strip down to our shorts and lie on our backs to commence some breathing exercises.

The process followed this:

  1. 30-40 Power breaths – This is essentially deep breathing at a steady pace in and out through the mouth. Inhale fully but not exhaling all the way out. As we inhaled we felt out belly rise and on the exhale, we felt your belly fall. It felt a bit like we were hyperventilating, but that we were in control.
  2. Following step 1, we held our breath
  3. Breath in for 10 seconds slow and controlled
  4. Repeated steps 1-3 – We cycled through this process for what felt like 20 minutes almost.
  5. Finally we held our breath and tried to get out as many push-ups as possible

The breathing exercises were something that I had never tried before and my body responded to it almost immediately with my extremities feeling tingly. This exercise allowed me to get into a deep meditative state and for the most part felt very relaxed.

I feel this definitely helped enter a state in which I could control what was to come, and almost uncontrollable urge to jump out of a huge tub of ice!

Following on from the breathing exercises we were given a run through of the ice bath and were going to enter one at a time for a duration of 5 minutes each. We were advised to hop straight into the tub and not waste any time. 

The Initial 30 seconds were the most challenging, particularly through my extremities where my blood flow felt cut off. After following Lars instructions and controlling my breaths I begin to relax and take back control of my mind. I could then take in the challenge that laid ahead of me. Five minutes felt like an eternity but I managed to see it through. 

I was encouraged once hopping out to move constantly to avoid “shaking like a leaf” later according to Lars. Post Ice bath my energy levels felt good and felt very alert, rejuvenated and I definitely feel like it accelerated my recovery.

My final thoughts

I was very impressed with the recovery session and benefited a lot from the session. The breathing component was something I’ve never done before and since then I’ve tried to incorporate it into my daily routine. I feel this is a must try recovery method if you are game enough.

4

Sep

Performance, persistence… and budgie smugglers.

We are a performance based gym. We predominantly work with people who have some type of performance goal in mind.

Whether that be to get stronger, to perform better at their chosen sport, to stay injury free while competing or to get the very best out of themselves as they compete or in their daily lives.

We also work with many people who are not competitive at all and focus on helping them to be able to enjoy their day to day life and to tackle any of the current or new challenges life may throw at them and enjoy them to their fullest. Like a desk bound tech entrepreneur tackling his first marathon, an 80 year old retiree setting a world record or a stay at home domestic engineer pulling a double body weight deadlift.

These things won’t pop up on your walk with your dog but if a friend asked you tomorrow would you like to hike throughout the grampians this weekend, would you be ready?

If you got the opportunity to go snowboarding, skiing or surfing this weekend would you be confident that your body would cope?

If you got the chance for a weekend on the beach in Hawaii would you be confident enough to rock out your best budgie smugglers or bikini?

We are not a body sculpting gym.

We are not a body building gym.

We are not a physique gym.

We are not a weight loss program.

We are not a body transformation centre.

We are here to help you to perform at your absolute best. We want to help you to get as strong as you possibly can.

We want to help you to become as fit as you possibly can by increasing your steady state and power endurance.

We want to help you to become supple and flexible yet strong throughout great ranges of movement and feel confident to tackle challenging tasks.

We want to empower you with this performance mindset to eat and fuel your body in a way that supports these outcomes, eating nutritious whole foods from a diverse range of sources.

We want you to focus on the practices that help you to recover well from each training session by being conscious of your sleep, movement, rest and work outside of the gym.

We want you to listen to your body and not thrash yourself when you’re under enormous stress loads either at work or within your personal life.

We want you to be able to achieve all that your desire in your professional life because your body and mind feel fresh, healthy and capable of the day to day rigours of your career.

What we want as a by product of all of this is for you to earn a body that you are proud of, that others notice and enjoy a level of health that is at your body’s pinnacle.

We understand that while everyone who walks through our door does not do so because they want to lose 5kgs or drop 5% body fat what we ALL want regardless of how many kilos we have been able to add to the barbell or how many seconds we have been able to shave off our 2k row, is to look better naked!

So whilst our focus isn’t on the aesthetic outcomes, the by product of all of your hard work, is that by following the process and continuing to put in place all that will enable you to perform at your body’s peak you will obtain the physique of a highly tuned athlete with the capability of one.

We want you to be strong, fit, mobile and to look the part.

That’s what we believe in.

14

Aug

Darren’s secret Super Shake!

Smoothies are an easy way to include super foods into your diet.

If your struggling to find a good combination of ingredients here’s my high performance daily recipe.

It’s great for a pre or post workout recovery shake or a quick meal on the run.

Combine the following ingredients in a blender:

  • – 1 x banana
  • – 3-5 x dates
  • – 1 x tsp. turmeric powder
  • – 1 x tsp. Cacao powder
  • – 1 x tbsp. super greens
  • – 1 x tsp. ginger powder
  • – 1 x tbsp. natural peanut butter
  • – ½ x cup blueberries
  • – 1 x Scoop protein powder (vanilla)
  • – 1 x handful spinach
  • – ½ cup x Coconut water
  • – ½ cup x Almond milk

Many of the ingredients like ginger and turmeric are great for recovery as they are anti-inflammatory but they also improve cognitive function, blueberries don’t only make the smoothie taste great but are also nature’s king of antioxidants which protects the body from the effects of free radicals, 1 cup of blueberries only contains 84 grams of carbohydrates so adding these wont significantly raise the caloric intake of the smoothie.

Dates don’t only combine well with the peanut butter flavour but they are high in fiber which will aid in digestion and this super food is also a source of minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus which all help to improved bone health.

Cacao is known to be a natural energy booster and also contains sulphur, which is a mineral that nails hair and skin will love you for adding to your smoothie.

Smoothies are a awesome way to include some of these super foods that otherwise we may be missing out on. Play around with ingredients and find something that works for you.

Your body and your taste buds will love you for it!

Let us know what you think.

27

Jun

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

1

May

Instaneck?

Is your Instagram addiction affecting your performance in the gym?

Chances are, you’re reading this on a mobile device. You’ve been staring at your screen with your neck tilted forward and your arms in what can only be described as ‘the T-Rex’. Chances are, it’s not news to you that spending long amounts of time on your phone or laptop isn’t great for your posture. And it’s almost certain that quite frankly, you gave up trying to spend less time on your phone or computer a long time ago.

Forward neck, rounded shoulders and a hunched upper back are all the result of prolonged periods of device use. Even more worryingly, as of recently these well-known signifiers of living your life online are turning into severe real-life conditions. Studies have reported a rise in cervical and lumbar spine injuries and even thumb ligament issues due to overuse of devices! If forgetting to look up from our screens are having this effect on our posture in general, how does this translate to our performance in the gym?

Getting fitter, lifting heavier and progressing with health in general has plenty of it’s own challenges. Now add in tight hip flexors. Shortening of the hip flexors due to prolonged sitting affects your range in squatting movements, not to mention making it harder to fire up your glutes and leads to weakness in the lower back. And if you were wondering why just holding the barbell for a front OR back squat is more painful for you that doing an actual squat, chances are your upper back muscles are too tight to create good rack positions, and your shoulders are rounded making it almost impossible to keep your elbows up. Not only does this hinder our progress, it also means longer recovery times, as the muscles that are already tight and overworked from sitting in a squat position all day and frozen in the ‘push position’ (from holding a tablet or phone) are put through more of the same (but with weight!) during a workout.

So what can we do to negate the effects of Text Neck and T-Rex arms? Firstly, limit the amount of time in one sitting that you spend using your device. Keep drinks or snacks in a separate location so you have more reasons to stand up. Secondly, STRETCH. If you know for a fact that you are tight in certain areas and are someone who trains, 2 minutes before and after a session is not enough. Invest in a proper warm up routine and flexibility techniques. Lastly and most importantly, look up! When was the last time you looked around you while walking down the street as opposed to at your phone? Try it, you might find a few new cafes to Instagram your meals in. And while you’re at it, stand a little taller, you look good when you’re not looking down.

–  Quincee

References:

How Poor Posture Affects Your Health and Athletic Performance | BoxLife Magazine. (2018). Boxlifemagazine.com. Retrieved 1 May 2018, from http://boxlifemagazine.com/5193-2/

Hughes, A., & Labs, S. (2018). Can too much screen time affect your kid’s posture?Screen Time. Retrieved 30 April 2018, from https://screentimelabs.com/is-excess-mobile-device-use-harming-your-childs-posture/

Joshua M. Ammerman, M. (2018). Is Your Cell Phone Killing Your Back?SpineUniverse. Retrieved 30 April 2018, from https://www.spineuniverse.com/wellness/ergonomics/your-cell-phone-killing-your-back

Jung, S. I., Lee, N. K., Kang, K. W., Kim, K., & Lee, D. Y. (2016). The effect of smartphone usage time on posture and respiratory function. Journal of Physical Therapy Science28(1), 186–189. http://doi.org/10.1589/jpts.28.186

8

Feb

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