Welcome to my personal training blog. There is so much information around regarding exercise and diets it's hard to know what is going to work for you. With over 12 years in the industry, I aim to bring my experience and knowledge to this blog so you can learn the best way's to achieve your health and fitness goals.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Why aren't I getting results – Part 2

If you've followed the advice in Part one then you'll be well on the way to achieving the results you have always wanted. Making exercise and good nutrition a habit is one of the keys to a healthy lifestyle. The next area to address is what you are actually doing when you exercise. If you look around the gym you will see a number of faces that are always there doing the same things but they never look any different. I'd like to share with you a few lessons to make sure you don't end up like that.

Most people's goals fall into the lose fat, get fit and tone up category so that is what I'll base my recommendations on. There are a number of common beliefs people have that prevent them from achieving what they want.

1.Cardio training is the best for fat loss.

Unfortunately cardiovascular training is not the most efficient way to lose fat. One of the keys to losing fat is to boost your metabolism. We can only exercise for a limited number of hours per week ( usually less than ten) but if we can boost our metabolism then we can burn more fat permanently.
How can we increase our metabolism? By doing high intensity interval training and weight training.

2.Weight training will bulk me up.

The affect weight training has on your body is very dependant on the amount of sets and reps and the recovery between. By choosing the right sets, reps and recovery you can improve strength or endurance ,bulk up or tone up. Even if you are doing the sets and reps that should help bulking up the chances of it occurring are slim. Many of the “big” guys in the gym train 5 days a week and have done for years . Even then only those who are genetically predisposed to build muscle will “bulk up”. Females are even less likely to “bulk up” as the hormones necessary to promote muscle growth are a fraction of those in a males body. Weight training done at the right repetition range, and number of sets will not lead to big bulky muscles.

3.I only want to lose weight so I don't need to do any weights.

Weight training is one of the best methods of losing fat as it has a large effect on your metabolism. Your metabolism will be elevated for 24-48 hours after a weight training session whereas after a cardio session it is not likely to be elevated for more then 30 minutes.

4.There is a best exercise for a specific body part.

I am often asked “what is the best exercise for legs?” or similar. Unfortunately there is no answer to that. The best exercise for one person can have the opposite effect on another person. We are all individuals and how we respond to exercise is different. Find out which exercises your body responds well to and don't follow a generic program from a magazine or internet site.

You may think that surely a generic program is better than nothing but sometimes doing nothing is the better option. Lets say you want to work on your bum muscles and you read about these special lunges that promise buns of steel. You follow the program for a month and at the end of the month you notice your thighs are bigger and your knees are sore but your bum hasn't changed shape at all. Not exactly the result you were after. Learning specific exercises that switch on your gluteal muscles would be an infinitely better approach. (For all of you reading this that want a toned bum don't go googling gluteal exercises as once again the exercise that fires up one persons glutes may do nothing for someone else)

The only sure way of finding out which exercises will work best for you is to see someone who can assess how your body moves and design a specific program for you.

5.Sticking with a program will continue to bring me the results I want.

This is probably the biggest mistake people make in the gym. Once people have a program that works they stick to it for weeks often months and sometimes years. Boredom alone should put people off this approach and many deal with the boredom by stopping the program completely. Others with a high tolerance of boredom continue as they are used to the program and find it easy to do. Unfortunately any benefits from the program are gained in the first 2-4 sessions. After that the body has adapted to the new training load and is now comfortable with it. If your body is comfortable then there is no stimulus for it to change.

6.Simply changing the exercises randomly will force the body to change.

Your exercise program should become progressively more difficult and complex to ensure your body is always having to adapt to the increased demand on it. One approach many people take is simply to pick different exercises each week. Usually this is based on what equipment is free and what mood they are in. A truly progressive program builds on the strengths gained and increases the intensity and complexity each week.

7.A solid 20-30 minutes as hard as I can is the best form of Cardiovascular training.

Interval training has been proven to be a far superior method of training to raise your metabolic rate and increase your fitness levels than a steady 30 minute session. After a warm up complete 20 minutes with your effort ranging from very hard to very easy for periods of 15 seconds to 3 minutes. Your fitness levels will sore within sessions

8.Machines are better than free weights.

Machine based exercises are often used because they are easier to use and allow you to work harder without worrying about technique. This is a cop out and there is almost no case where machine based exercises should be used. They promote muscular imbalances and therefore increased risk of injury. They also work less muscles as most of your body is supported by the machine. Take a machine chest press vs a Dumbbell press lying on a ball. On the machine you are working your chest, shoulders and triceps. With the Dumbbells on the ball you are working you chest, shoulders ,triceps, abdominal muscles, buttock muscles, muscles in the back of your legs and your lower back. Which do you think would burn more calories and help you tone up or lose weight more?

9.If I want a flat stomach I need to do lots of sit-ups or crunches.

First of all when most people do these types of exercises they do them incorrectly and use the muscles in the front of their hips. All this does is pull the pelvis forward which makes your abdominals protrude more. Not exactly the look you are after. Secondly having a flat stomach is partly due to the abdominal muscles and partly to do with the layer of fat on top.

If you want a flat stomach then crunches and sit-ups , even if performed correctly, don't work the muscles that flatten your stomach and don't burn enough calories to burn the fat.
The key to a flat stomach is specific exercises that target the deep lower abdominal muscles and high intensity weight and interval training to raise the metabolism and burn fat. The exercises that target your deep abdominal muscles must be individually prescribed because initially you will have no way of knowing if you are doing it correctly. When these muscles are weak the brain recruits other muscles to help perform the task. If the task is too demanding it will switch off the weaker muscles and just use the strong muscles which will have the affect of making the weak muscles weaker and strong muscles stronger.

10.I need to get fit before I see a personal trainer.

By now I hope you can see the benefit of having someone who knows how your body works setting your program. Whether you have just a session or two to construct a program or a series of sessions to achieve a goal it is an investment that is essential if you want to achieve your health and fintess goals.

One comment I often hear is that a person wants to come to the gym by themselves for a month to get themselves fit enough to have a trainer. This is like saying you want to clean the house before the cleaner comes. The most important time to have a personal trainer is when your first start. Find out exactly what you should be doing from the start instead of wasting time doing a routine that at best better than doing nothing but may even be taking you further from your goal by installing bad habits.

A good trainer can take you to levels of health and fitness you didn't dare dream were possible. Investing in your health and fitness is the best investment you can possibly make. We don't think twice about investing for our financial future but seem reluctant to invest in our physical future.. We seem to fear not having enough money to live in a nice house when we got old but don't fear what kind of condition we'll be in when we get there. Doesn't make sense to me .

Most trainers I know will offer a free session so you get a chance to see what they are like and whether they can help you. If your in the North London area contact me if not find a trainer to help you achieve your health and fitness goals. You won't regret it.

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