Friday, 22 July 2016 09:53

How Long Should You Train For?

Many gym goers use the time they spend in the gym as an indicator of how succesful their session has been. There’s a lot of science and a lot of bro-science around this subject, but we like to stick with the anecdotal evidence and keep it simple. Train as long as you want to train.

There are a few factors that are going to influence how long you should be spending in the gym, including if you are training with a partner or if you take long rest periods between sets. You could spend 2 hours in the gym if training with mate, using 3-5 minutes rest periods between sets. But if you are training on your own with a high level of concentration, you can successfully complete a workout within 45-60 minutes.

We advise not to overthink this: train until you feel tired and depleted but don’t use that as an excuse to cut your workouts short. Gauge your effort by your ability to complete your desired rep range and how well you can lift a specific weight that you know your previous PB for. 

It’s important to find the right balance, push yourself but know when it’s time to pull the pin. Train as long as you need to train, but make sure you are getting the job done. Use rest periods effectively, not as a chance to socialise or check Facebook!

Published in Fitness FAQ's
Monday, 07 September 2015 09:33

Beginner Training Mistakes (Part 2)

Training consistently, sticking to a program, and setting goals is only half the picture when it comes to achieving success both inside and out of the gym. Often the mistakes made by beginners are completely unrelated to their ability to train with intensity, but have more to do with their mindset and preparation outside of the gym.

The following are some of the most common, yet most commonly overlooked, fitness and training related habits that will save any beginner from embarrassing situations in the gym and save precious time when seeking fast and effective results.

Related Article: Beginner Training Mistakes Part 1

Related Article: How You Should Train

 TMJ Lifting Belt

Ignoring Nutrition And Recovery

Just as consistency with training and tracking the progress of your workouts are the most important fundamentals when it comes to gaining muscle, building strength and losing body-fat, the same rules apply to nutrition and recovery. For optimal performance and recovery from training your body needs high quality nutrients to fuel performance, rebuild muscle tissue and continue to increase strength over time. 

It is simply not adequate to settle for a ‘see-food’ diet when looking to gain size, or on the flip side, consuming nothing but chicken and broccoli when the goal is body-fat loss. A structured nutrition plan is essential for great results. You should aim to provide your body with adequate protein, carbohydrates and fats from a variety of high quality foods and keep track of your daily caloric intake goals by use of apps such as MyFitness Pal.

If you are unsure where to start and would like a comprehensive nutrition plan to help you reach your goals, be sure to check out The MassiveJoes FREE Nutrition Plan! 

On a similar note, sleep is the body’s best mechanism for recovery and achieving optimal performance in the gym. If you are burning the candle at both ends by partying every weekend, this will have a seriously negative impact on your physique and you will forever be trying to ‘catch up’ on sleep. Get yourself to bed earlier and develop a ritual that allows you to shut off from social media and the stressors of the day - be it reading a book, listening to some music or methodically preparing yourself for the next day. The difference you will experience in recovery and overall health is unparalleled.

Sabotaging Your Own Results

For beginners the gym can be an intimidating place! It is very easy to walk in, grab whatever piece of equipment is available (even if you didn’t plan on performing that particular exercise), and go hide in the corner to complete your workout. Remember, you are there to workout and train hard just like everyone else, so don’t short-change your results by being timid or feeling inferior to others around you.

If the piece of equipment you want is being used, wait until the person has finished their set and ask how long they have left. If it less than 2 sets wait it out and let them finish. If it is more than 2 sets ask nicely if you can work in with them. Most people won’t have a problem with this and you may even find yourself learning a thing or two from a more experienced trainer.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Respect goes a long way in this world and at the gym it is all about creating good habits that won’t have you stepping on anyone’s toes or receiving a nasty added fee to your monthly membership. Don’t be the person making loud mating calls before your heavy squat set or the person storming around the gym following your 1RM bodyweight bench press record. Make sure to treat all equipment with care by using weights that you can manage or having a spotter assist you at each lift.

During the warmer months be sure to exercise some personal hygiene, use a spray of deodorant, add some fresh threads to your collection and, for heaven's sake, use a towel and wipe down your equipment after use! Mirrors are great for checking your form whilst training, but don't get in the habit of positioning yourself inside a power cage for a set of dumbbell curls just because it has the best lighting in the gym.

While these small acts may not seem like a big deal, trust us, everyone notices those people who are too self absorbed to think about anyone else using the gym. Training and exercising is a privilege, don’t abuse it and do your part to keep your gym in respectable condition.

Riding Solo 

By nature humans are social animals; we thrive in environments that allow us to communicate and interact with those whom have common goals and aspirations. It doesn’t matter if you’re interested in bodybuilding, cardio, crossfit, bootcamp training or just general working out, having a training partner or training group that is reliable and on the path to similar goals will help amplify your results. Even the most experienced gym rats or intrinsically motivated individuals will turn to a trusted partner or core group when motivation is low or progress stalls.

Don’t be stubborn and think you can do it all on your own. Gym partners make training more fun, help keep you accountable, and provide support when things just aren’t progressing. But don’t forget you are the sum of those you surround yourself with, so choose your training partners wisely! 

Failing To Manage Distractions

Checking your news feed, pondering over your 11am meeting, frequently chatting between sets or glancing at the cute Personal Trainer are all distractions that waste your time and effort. For most of us time is a priority and at best a 60 minute workout per day is all we can spare. If you want to take control of your training productivity and perform your best it’s vital to know how to minimise distractions and manage interruptions. 

Below are some guidelines and rules to ensure you maximise your training productivity:

  • Clear your thoughts of any daily stressors or future engagements 
  • Turn off social media alerts and chats before entering the gym
  • Be well prepared with your training plan and everything you need in your gym bag
  • Be mindful of your start time and use a watch/clock to keep track of your rest periods
  • Limit yourself to a polite ‘hello’ to other members - you can always chat later
  • Use headphones & music to focus your attention on your workout\

 

Whilst not talking to anyone is not enjoyable for most, treating the gym like Friday night drinks and pestering everyone isn't the right way to go about business either. A quick hello to the staff and some familiar faces is fine, so too is the occasional 1 minute chat between sets. But when your conversations start blowing out to 5 or 10 minutes you've overdone it and there is no way your training intensity is as high as it could be.

As mentioned above, headphones can be a time saver in the gym especially if you love a chat. Strap on the headphones, turn up your favourite beats and get after it! Not only will you stay focused and improve your workout intensity, you'll get your workout done in half the time.

Related Article: Beginner Training Mistakes Part 1

Related Article: How You Should Train

 TMJ Lifting Belt

Published in The Scoop
Thursday, 23 July 2015 10:15

Beginner Training Mistakes (Part 1)

Who can truly call themselves experts in all things strength and conditioning? Is it the professional body builders who craft their physiques for pure aesthetics? Or the professional athletes training to crush their opponents? Perhaps the elite power lifters displaying incredible strength? How about the coaches and online program designers pushing the boundaries between science and application?

Once you have spent enough time in the gym, you will notice that no matter where their field of expertise may lie, all of these experts have undoubtedly made very similar mistakes over the course of their training careers. Their paths and goals may be different, but we guarantee that they have all had to learn ‘the hard way’ on their path to greatness.

The following will set any new lifter, athlete or general gym goer in the right direction and give you some sound advice to focus on (and some things to avoid) when starting out on your own fitness journey.

Related Article: Beginner Training Mistakes Part 2 

Related Article: How You Should Train

 TMJ Lifting Belt

Changing Programs Too Frequently

Wendler 5/3/1, Smolov, FST-7, GVT, Daily Undulating Periodisation, Power Hypertrophy Adaptive Training (PHAT)... the list is endless and growing on the daily thanks to the recent online fitness program boom. At the click of a button and swipe of a credit card anyone can have access to an inexhaustible amount of training program resources. As a result, it is very easy for a beginner to fall into the trap of ‘program hopping’; continually jumping from one training program to another in search of the 'best' program available.

The fact is that there truly is no ‘best’ program. Certainly the mentioned programs, and many others, have worked well for thousands of athletes and are based on solid scientific and strength & conditioning principles, but jumping from one to the other, or mixing and matching to make some ‘Wendler PHAT FST-7’ hybrid will not get you the results you're after.

Instead, choose a simple program that focuses on adding resistance using the big compound movements, sprinkle in some accessory movements and stick to it for a minimum of 12 weeks. If you're consistent and training with intensity your body will adapt to become a bigger, stronger more athletic version of your current self. 

Changing Exercises Too Often

The never ending search for the ‘perfect’ exercise that will instantly turn you into a training BEAST goes hand-in-hand with 'program hopping'... and similarly, it is also a wild goose chase.

Attempting to hit your quads from every angle, bouncing from one machine to the next, and utilising every intensifying technique you can think of will do very little for leg development if you can barely perform an equal bodyweight ATG squat. 

As a beginner, you need to stick to the basics.

There is a reason why the squat, deadlift, bench press and pull-up are universal amongst body builders, athletes, power lifters and strongmen… They WORK! These foundation movements recruit the MOST muscle fibres, have the GREATEST potential for overload, and build the foundational base for all other exercises. So pick your basic exercises and stick to them!

Not Tracking Progress

Failing to record workouts may not seem like a big deal when you’re first starting out, but it should be stressed that consistently recording each exercise, set, rep and weight will have a dramatic effect on your progress.

To get your body to grow and get stronger you MUST push your body beyond what it has done before. It's a principle called 'progressive overload' and it's the holy grail of physical progress. If you are simply turning up to the gym, making exercises up as you go along and guessing how much weight to use for your sets and reps you won’t be improving as fast as you could be.

Recording your progress is simple; just use a notepad or an electronic fitness app and record every exercise, set, rep and weight, during your workout.  The following week or workout, quickly revisit your notes on your last performance and attempt to add a little more weight, a few more reps or an extra set. By doing so you are ensuring that you are always improving.  It's also a great way to reflect on how far you have come in 6, 12 or even 24 months and keep your motivation levels high when things get tough! 

Not Setting Goals

It is crucially important to have a point of focus and set yourself some goals when starting on your fitness journey. Don’t make the mistake of comparing yourself to those who are at the top of their game in their chosen fields, you will simply end up disheartened and likely quit in frustration. Instead focus on small consistent milestones and create S.M.A.R.T. goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic & Timely.

Be specific; don’t haphazardly say you want to get stronger or lose weight, set a specific goal such as ‘I want to workout 4 days a week using weights, perform 3 x 30 minute cardio sessions per week and lose 4kg in 6 months'.

Keep goals measurable; defining ‘how much’ or ‘how many’ will help you stay on track and ticking off small achievements along the way will keep you motivated.  

Make sure your goals are both attainable and realistic; do your research and ask 'Is it reasonable for someone my age or with my training experience to add ‘x’ amount of muscle or lose ‘y’ amount of fat?' Although your opportunity to become the greatest body builder of all time may have passed don’t settle for lacklustre goals, they can be both high and realistic.

Finally, ensure your goals are timely; without a time frame you will likely throw your intentions in the ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ basket and we all know how quickly that can accumulate our personal dirty laundry. If you want to lose 10kg, set a realistic time-frame... 'I want to lose 10kg in 10 months' is a much more powerful and motivating goal than one that has no end date.

And if you share similar S.M.A.R.T. goals with somebody else, why not make them a training partner to keep you both accountable?!

Not Warming Up

Is it fun…? No. Is it easy to skip...? Yes. Will it make you perform better…? Certainly! Will it help prevent injury and keep you progressing towards your goals without any hiccups...? You betcha!

We get it, everybody starts out with good intentions to warm-up before every session, but when you find yourself short of time an adequate warm-up will be the first thing to go. If you are truly dedicated to being the best you can be and bringing intensity to every training session, it simply isn’t adequate to grab a barbell and bang out a couple of lazy reps as your 'warm-up'.

The warm-up serves the purpose of stimulating your muscular, cardiovascular, respiratory and central nervous systems so that you can perform to your full potential at every workout. Don’t get into the habit of casually pedaling on the bike while firing off a text message or browsing Instagram... that just won’t cut it! You need to get yourself moving, build-up a light sweat, and mobilise your joints and musculature.

A quick but effective approach is to perform 5 - 6 x 30 second intervals on the bike/rower/ergo followed by some dynamic stretching/plyometrics such as: leg swings, air squats, arm circles, push ups, lunges and jumping to get all of your joints moving. The warm-up can also be used as an opportunity to perfect technique and movement and gives you an opportunity to clear your thoughts of any distractions outside of the gym.

Not Checking Your Ego

As a beginner, the gym can be an overwhelming environment. You look over and see someone in the squat rack busting out 150kg ATG squats for reps and immediately your ego kicks in and you decide to pile on more weight than you can handle. Your form & technique is compromised, excessive body-english and ‘jerking’ of the weight sets in, and before you know it not only do you look ridiculous, but your progress has stalled and you're feeling every ache and pain from all those horrible reps. 

There is certainly a time and place for some ‘loose’ reps, but these should make up no more than 5% of your training and used sparingly when you really need to push the envelope to see progress. Rather than being eager to load up more weight, switch your thinking and become transfixed on performing the most perfect reps possible with every rep on every exercise.

Think about the highest level body builders or athletes... yes, they move heavy weight, but their technique and movement are also "text-book". Start within your capabilities, make slow consistent progress and always use full range of motion and good form. This will set you on the right track for years to come, keeping you injury free and making consistent and measurable gains.

Related Article: Beginner Training Mistakes Part 2

Related Article: How You Should Train

 TMJ Lifting Belt

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