Month: October 2009

100kg Sled Drag

Enough said…..

These 2 warriors know how to train.  They took this sled for a ride and are better for it.

Can you pull this bad ass piece of kit far?

Come on down to the toughest Bootcamp in Hull.   By toughest I mean none of that “run here, now run there, now jump high”  horse-shit.  Do you want to look like you actually lift weights?

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Don’t be a hunchback!

It’s Monday morning and you head off to work. Depending on the job you do, you could be working in a number of positions – standing, sitting, twisting, or a combination of all three. The computer company Microsoft, state that many of us work at a desk for six hours or more each day (1).

 

What does this mean?

When you sit for long periods of time, you tend to slouch to get comfortable. You round our shoulders, slump lower than usual and put more pressure on the lower back – without realising, many of you are probably doing it now whilst reading this article! Give this a try: get a mirror sideways-on, sit how you would normally sit (at work when comfortable after 30-45mins or so) and check if your shoulders come forward. This shoulders-forward posture is a Kyphotic posture, and basically relates to the term Kyphosis (a curvature of the upper spine).

In the long-term, this Kyphotic posture can eventually lead to Kyphosis itself. At the very least, not doing anything to reduce or treat the symptoms can increase lower back pain, spinal stiffness or tenderness, as well as causing fatigue and breathing difficulties too in severe cases. Let’s analyse a typical individual for a week:

After a hard day at work (sitting down!), you step foot into your gym… what do you see?

 

You enter the gym on a Tuesday night, what do you see? The same guys – doing the same exercises! More often than not, you’ll see plenty of guys working their chest… barbell bench press, dumbell bench press, chest flies, cable crossovers etc. After all – who doesnt want a bigger chest?

 

The problem here, is that most people in the gym (95% at a guess?) are there for the sole purpose of looking good. Be honest!

Other than athletes who are trying to acheive personal bests for their sport, and people who are there to improve their health due to a wake-up call from their doctor, people want to look more attractive – and if their health improves too then that’s a nice little by-product.

To look attractive, people want to build muscle and lose bodyfat. The problem with most individuals is that they only work on the results that they can see. A classic example of this is people working their ‘mirror muscles.’

People look in the mirror to judge how their progress is going, which is great. The problems arise when individuals perform exercises with incorrect load volumes and frequencies that lead to problems affecting the body – both in the short and long-term.

As Mentioned above, many people do too much work on their chest and not enough work on their backs.

Why is this problematic?

If the amount of work performed on the chest significantly outweighs the volume of work performed on the back, the shoulder will tend to move forward – because the chest muscles are tighter. This need to be remedied with back exercises such as the barbell row, lat pull down and reverse flys. Also, people do tons and tons of crunches – and not enough lower back work. The weaker the lower back is, the more liable it is to injury when picking up heavy objects – in some cases even moderately heavy objects can cause injury.

Let’s go back to Monday night… and we take a look in the studio. Let me ask you a question: What’s one of the most popular, if not the most popular group fitness class you can think of?

I’ll give you clue – the participants spend roughly 45-60mins in a Kyphotic position.

 

First and foremost, Spinning is a great class for burning a ton of calories (which should ideally be supported by optimal nutrition to preserve muscle tissue and maximise fat loss because it can be very catabolic – but that’s another article!). However, participants often put themselves at risk of injury with their poor posture, their exercise selection in the gym, and the frequency and volume of these exercises.

When in a Spinning class, the correct posture should look like this left image:


(Note: neutral spine & flexed spine)

One can clearly see the Kyphotic posture this individual is displaying – similar to the man-at-computer/desk position described earlier. Therefore, posture should be monitored via mirrors wherever possible, in all positions (eg standing climb, seated climb, aerodynamic position etc.) Eventually fatigue occurs, and this is where people are most vulnerable. Ideally, as soon as posture begins to suffer through fatigue, the resistance should decrease and recovery should start. In fact, it has been suggested that Spinning should be minimised or eliminated in the presence of pre-existing lower back pain (3,4) and that symptoms could be reduced by modifying the angle of the saddle (5) or the shape of saddle itself (2).

What do we get when we put all these things together?

At the very least, if you are sat down at work all day or have pre-existing lower back pain – other forms of cardio may be preferable.

Summary

1. Do not neglect body parts.
Although it’s good to do things that are results – driven (i.e. you can see something working so you continue to do it), we can’t always see everything. Just because you can’t see your upper back doesn’t mean it’s not there! If you ever have the misfortune to have a back problem/injury, you’ll know it’s there! Don’t forget to strengthen the upper back, rear deltoids (rear shoulder), triceps, Lower back, Glutes Hamstrings and Calves. Depending on your job and lifestyle, you may need to focus on these body parts more than other individuals.

2. Monitor your posture in a mirror regularly wherever possible
This will give you an idea of how your body relaxes at the moment, and whether it could be detrimental to your life in the future. Once you ‘feel’ what correct posture is, the more autonomous it will become. The mirror is recommended, as many people cannot see from their own perspective what it is they are doing right or wrong.

3. Take a look at your activities.Do they promote good posture? Are you doing this movement more often than others? Is there a better alternative? Could you improve the posture while doing the activity?

4. Life is in front of us
Life is in front of us, therefore we tend to favour movements that keep things in our line of sight – it’s just plain safer to be able to see what we’re doing.

Think of the overall picture!

 

 

John Cammish (B.S.C) is a local East Yorkshire Fitness Bootcamp Instructor and real-world fat loss expert. He has helped countless individuals change their lives through postive habits with a focus on tried and tested methods. For more details about Personal Training, Fitness Bootcamps, Free Articles and more – check his website (www.yournextlevelfitness.co.uk) and his Bootcamp Blog (blog.yournextlevelfitness.co.uk).

 

 

 

References

1. http://www.tone.co.nz/news/microsoft2019s-new-desktop-do-you-spend-6-hours-a-day-at-your-computer

2. Bressel E, and Larson B.J, (2003) Bicycle seat designs and their effect on pelvic angle, trunk angle, and comfort. Med Sci Sports Exerc Feb;35(2):327-32

3. Burnett AF, Cornelius MW, Dankaerts W, O’sullivan PB, (2004) Spinal kinematics and trunk muscle activity in cyclists: a comparison between healthy controls and non-specific chronic low back pain subjects-a pilot investigation. Man Ther. 2004 Nov;9(4):211-9

4. Paris SV (1979) Mobilization of the spine. Phys Ther. 1979 Aug;59(8):988-95

5. Salai M Brosh T Blankstein A Oran A Chechik A 1999 Effect of changing the saddle angle on the incidence of low back pain in recreational bicyclists. Br J Sports Med. 1999 Dec;33(6):398-400

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Christmas comes once a year!

Have you ever thought that our calendar contributes significantly to the obesity epidemic?

Try this for a second (without looking ahead!). Think of the past year, and note 10 of your families and friends birthdays – when they occur in the year. Also, if you went on holiday, I want you to note that week or two down. Put this aside for now.

Pre-Christmas and Christmas

Leading up to Christmas day for a start, what do we do? We stuff ourselves with fatty foods and alcohol at various work parties, friends work parties and encounter increased socialising. Then along comes Christmas day; Chocolates in stockings from presents; Then at dinner time, A slap up feast with prawn cocktail for starters; Turkey, potatoes, parsnips, broccoli, cauliflower cheese, beef, sausages, sprouts, pigs-in-blankets etc; Top it off with the optional Christmas pudding and the likely bottle of wine/sherry/brandy – and you’re done.

But Christmas comes once a year right………………………….right?

WRONG!!!!!! By late evening time, it’s time to have some leftovers – if we haven’t fallen asleep in front of the Christmas films.

Boxing Day: Hey… there’s still plenty of food left! “I suppose it’ll all go to waste if I don’t eat it.”

27th Dec: There’s still plenty of food in here, gives me something to eat while I watch ‘Back to the Future!’

This cycle continues until… you’ve guessed it… NEW YEAR!!!!!

“Hey, there can’t be that many calories in six pints of lager and a couple of shots….. can there?” An incalculable amount of drinking goes on, (excess calories, not to mention an increase in toxins) which is usually followed by a New Years Eve dinner.

Summary

So in summary, during December Christmas parties, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Eve and Day etc. People may put on several pounds of fat to their bodies. Will this excess fat be shed in the coming weeks?

Pick up the piece of paper with your friend’s birthdays you wrote on at the beginning of this article. Go to the Birthday that comes first (Jan-Dec). How long after Christmas is that date? 3 weeks? 4 weeks? 6 weeks? Moment of truth: Could you honestly say that you could lose the weight you have put on over Christmas in that time period?

If not, do you have a quick succession of birthdays somewhere in the year that could be detrimental to your body composition targets? You might not have stopped to think about Valentines Day, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Easter, St.Patricks day, the World Cup, The Olympics, your national team’s matches in any sports… let alone ‘only’ birthdays. You have to ask yourself these questions:

On these occasions – is it vital you attend them all?
Do you have to drink alcohol?
Can you skip the meal if it does not fit into your diet plan?
Is there a healthy alternative?
Is it possible to eat a healthy snack prior to the meal so you do not have to eat as many empty calories?

John Cammish (B.S.C) is a local East Yorkshire Fitness Bootcamp Instructor and real-world fat loss expert. He has helped countless individuals change their lives through postive habits with a focus on tried and tested methods. For more details about Personal Training, Fitness Bootcamps, Free Articles and more – check his website (www.yournextlevelfitness.co.uk) and his Bootcamp Blog (blog.yournextlevelfitness.co.uk).

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How low should you go?

Squats often get a bad reputation as anecdotal reports come up here and there:

“My knees ache, I reckon it’s from the heavy squatting I used to do in the gym years ago.”
“Don’t go below parallel when squatting – you’ll trash your knees.”

The problem is that a squat is no longer a squat – it’s a partial squat! The fear that squatting deep (below parallel) damages the knee joint has most likely stemmed from physiotherapist’s experiences of patients citing squats as the cause of their knee problems.

However, I would ask the following questions:

1. Did the participant have any pre-existing injuries?
2. Was the participant always squatting with proper technique? (Chest up, Knees forward, Elbows directly under the bar)
3. Was the Participant going deep enough? (You may think this is a typing error(!) but i will follow this up later on)
4. Was the participant using weights a lot greater than he or she was previously accustomed to?

The reasons I ask these questions are because:

1. Any pre-existing knee, hip, lower back or ankle injury is susceptible to further injury due to the heavy loads involved in the squat. These are the joints that are involved in supporting the load, and they are responsible to ensuring the bar travels along the right path. This also includes any flexibility issues, for example: Poor ankle flexibility will lead to exaggerated flexion in the hip and less flexion in the knee; If the knee does not travel over the toes, more stress is placed on the hip and lower back.

2. Good technique is crucial, as the participant could be prone to injuries to the back, the knee and ankle in particular; Rounding of the back will increase the pressure on the lower back (which can be extremely important as heavy loads are often used; Squatting less than parallel de-stabilises the knee joint, leaving it susceptible to injurie at heavier loads or when the knee has to go through full range of motion (for example, in sports). As discussed above, flexibility issues can affect squat technique, and also fatigue also sometimes goes unnoticed. When someone is exercising for an excessive amount of time (or has been excessively training the last few days/weeks) technique can suffer. With the squat being a Compound movement and the injuries that can result from fatigue, it is recommended that the squat is done early on in a workout, and that a mirror is used to check form.

3. The knee is a Hinge-joint. Think of the hinge on the door of your bedroom. If you were to push and pull the hinge through only half its range of motion, what would happen? The hinge would operate smoothly in the ‘used’ range, but would be stiff in the unused range. Similar with the knee, if the lower half of the squat range is not trained (or used), then as soon as the knee has to go into that range of flexion – injury may occur. The knee will nearly always have to go through the full range of motion in most sports – such as getting up off the floor, jumping and kicking. Look at the following picture:

Does the knee go through its full range of motion? The answer is YES!

We have simply lost this ability to squat deep through limiting our range of motion through lack of practice. Use it………………………… or lose it!

4. If he or she uses a lot more weight than they are accustomed to, injury can easily occur. If the particpant is untrained/novice, the muscles of the thigh (Quads and Hamstrings) may not be strong enough to control the load – resulting in a quick and deep descent. This load may force through any flexibility issues, causing a bouncing off the calves and a rounding of the back. Therefore, continuous and safe progression is key to strengthening the legs… but increase the range before increasing the load.

John Cammish (B.S.C) is a local East Yorkshire Fitness Bootcamp Instructor and real-world fat loss expert. He has helped countless individuals change their lives through postive habits with a focus on tried and tested methods. For more details about Personal Training, Fitness Bootcamps, Free Articles and more – check his website (www.yournextlevelfitness.co.uk) and his Bootcamp Blog (blog.yournextlevelfitness.co.uk).

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