Are you hitting the gym or doing cardio regularly but not seeing improvements in athletic performance or body composition? Or perhaps you are already working with a personal trainer in Mississauga and the same thing is happening. It’s very common to hit a plateau and get complacent doing the same fitness routine but this will not yield results because of a principle known as progressive overload. Progressive overload is the gradual increase of stress placed upon the body during exercise training. It states that in order for any of the 5 components of fitness (muscular strength, endurance, cardiovascular fitness, body composition and flexibility) to improve, increasingly greater demands must be placed on the body during exercise training. To state it very simply: no pain, no gain! Progressive overload can be manipulated through a number of different variables such as load, speed, range of motion, training volume, time under tension, rest periods, training frequency and exercise selection. Load, speed, range of motion, training volume and exercise selection produce structural adaptations in the form of hypertrophy (muscle growth) and increase the body’s ability to recruit more muscle (muscle strength). Time under tension and rest periods produce metabolic adaptations in the form of increasing energy stores, cardiovascular capacity and muscular endurance which influences how much work you can accomplish during an exercise session and how fast you can recover between exercises.
It doesn’t take much training or education to become certified as a personal trainer. Anyone with a high school education can get a Can Fit Pro or ACE certification in as little as a month. Consequently there are many trainers that may be unqualified but the gym they work for still charges an arm and a leg in order to make good profit. Commercial fitness chains are famous for doing this because people are unaware and they don’t know what to look for when choosing to work with a trainer. This is not to say that all commercial gyms are filled with unqualified trainer (I’ve met some excellent trainers with basic certifications) but a certain percentage of trainers are people that chose to become trainers as a sudden career change and these people have insufficient fitness knowledge and experience to be offering professional services at industry prices. In some cases commercial gyms will hire trainers for their sales experience and people skills rather than their training skills which are vastly more important. After all you are hiring a personal trainer to get you to your fitness goals in the shortest possible time; not to talk to you about your personal life or the latest celebrity gossip.
Work/life/health balance is difficult to maintain in today’s world given our hectic work schedules, multiple deadlines, lots of overtime and the stress associated with all of that. If we don’t take proper care of ourselves we may risk disposing ourselves to being run down or burnt out, and in the worst case scenario developing some form of depressive illness. Prolonged stress and not doing anything about it is a major factor involved in developing depression. Work is a part of life and cannot be avoided but there are ways to mitigate work related stress, prevent and even cure depression and maintain a healthy work/life/health balance. One of the most effective ways to do that is through regular aerobic and resistance training exercise. Numerous studies have found that exercise buffers stress and prevents depression through a number of mechanisms.
What is all the hype about functional training? Functional training is a catch phrase that gets tossed around quite often in the fitness industry but it’s meaning is somewhat ambiguous. Officially it is defined as: “a classification of exercise which involves training the body for the activities performed in daily life”. People often think of Crossfit when they hear it.
The weight loss industry is a multibillion dollar industry with no accountability or guarantees. These days the media is flooded with diets and weight loss programs promising extraordinary results in a short span of time. I see advertisements like “lose 20-30lbs in 30 days” almost on a daily basis. But just how true are these claims? You would think that if these diets and weight loss programs worked, and since there are so many of them, then the population would be getting skinnier on average as the years pass by. However if you look at the statistics obesity has been on the incline since the 1980s. From years of professional experience I can tell you conclusively that no these promises are false and misleading. It may be theoretically possible to lose 30lbs in 30 days in a laboratory under medical supervision so unless you can hire a team of specialists then it’s unlikely that you will.
The number one goal of 90% of my clients has been weight loss. Some people are obese and need to lose a substantial amount of weight for health reasons and other people with a healthy BMI just want to get rid of a few pounds to look and feel better (we all want six pack abs). Weight loss depends on how much energy is used to do work (i.e., to move, digest food, think etc.,) relative to how much energy is consumed and stored (caloric intake). Energy is constant so if the energy output (work done) is greater than the energy input (calories consumed) there will be a negative energy balance which forces the body to tap into fat to make up for that deficit. The energy output consists of a person’s resting or basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is the total number of calories a person uses while at rest, and a person’s active metabolic rate (AMR), which is the total number of calories a person uses if they incorporate movement. If you want to lose fat then you have to create a daily negative caloric balance by limiting your caloric intake or increasing your BMR and AMR or a combination of both.
So you’re an ectomorph/hard gainer and you’ve heard this many times: if you want to build size and strength then lift heavy and do the 6 basic compound lifts (squat, deadlift, bench press, row, pull up, military press). The 5 x 5 lifting program using these basic lifts has become very popular to accomplish size and strength goals but is this approach really practical for your typical ectomorph/hardgainer? Here are a few practical considerations that will allow you to make gains and get the most out of your lifting program while training safe.
A lot of guys who are reasonably fit (at around 15% body fat) want six pack abs. In order to get six pack abs you need to be at least at 10% body fat. Unless you have the right genetics and a fast metabolism getting down from 15% to 10% body fat is a goal that is very difficult to achieve. It is possible to achieve this goal in 2 month by following a high intensity exercise program, having the right diet and the discipline to do both things consistently. I’ve seen a lot of guys with an advanced training status train hard for a period of 3-4 months and still not achieve this goal (their lower set of abs was still hidden under a layer of abdominal fat). Indeed I have been there myself recently and that is how I discovered a training method I’d like to call condensed circuit training (CCT) and what prompted me to write this article.
Workout mistake #1: A workout that lasts an hour or longer
I would say that the biggest commonly held belief is that a workout session should be an hour long. I don’t know where this belief came from but it seems that it’s been with us since the dawn of time. Some reasons why many people spend 1 hour doing a workout are they incorporate too many exercises (especially superfluous isolation exercises), they rest 1 minute or longer between sets and they spend more than 5 minutes stretching either before or after the workout or spend too much time warming up.
Have you injured your back, gone through rehabilitation but still experience stiffness, weakness, or chronic back pain which limit you from participating in the activities you once enjoyed doing?