I am a personal trainer and as a personal trainer I like to train people. It’s good for their health. And it’s good for my mortgage. I love the fact that I am involved in a business with which I can affect a persons life for the better! It is my passion.
I have issues that center around the fact that the entire health industry is more interested in making money then affecting health. This industry has been built upon various assumptions that recently have been challenged and leaves most health care practitioners having to redefine their place as teachers. The Canada food guide, backwards approach to calorie intake, misunderstanding of the effects of exercise and poor implementation thereof are just a few examples of a lost industry.
But there is some new knowledge. Studies and approaches that may hold the key to unlocking everyones ability to improve. It is a revolution in diet and exercise. The standard classical approach of more movement and less eating, while still taught by certifying bodies, has become antiquated. Many of the principles held by personal trainers, such as stability ball or board work, core stabilisation and aerobic training for fat loss just don’t work. They never have. However, now new research and thought processes are coming around. We now have a better idea about muscle activation in exercise. There is great new research into energy systems and just what is happening in a muscular contraction.
There is always going to be disagreement as to the best way to implement this new knowledge. There is always going to be people who hang on to the past. The wheels of progress turn slowly. What is cutting edge research today, often will not find it’s way into gyms and training studios for five or more years.
Here’s some stuff I’m learning about now. I find it fairly awesome.
1- Fat loss is 90% diet, stress reduction and detoxification
I’ll state this in the spirit of truth and at the risk of talking myself out of a sale: You don’t have to work out to lose fat and be healthy. Working out helps(I’ll get into why in #2), but far more important to stop eating the foods and absorbing the chemicals that contribute to the problem. Far more important still to reduce the stress.
Consider that it takes the average joe 20 minutes of fast running to burn the equivalent calories in one choclate chip cookie. Now ask yourself, “when’s the last time I ate just one chocolat chip cookie?” If you’re like me, the answer is …. never. The idea that one can purge onesself of indulgences while in the gym has long been looked down upon. However when one considers just how hard it is to burn off one cheat meal, one begins to develop and appreciation for just how wrong our calories in, calories out model has become.
If one can be resonably sure that maximal fat oxidation(the point at which one burns the most fat during aerobic exercise) happens between 60 and 80% of maximal heart rate,(source) and one is able to stay in this zone for 30 minutes and burn say 275 calories, AND NOT THEN EAT MORE THAT DAY, then congrats you’ve acheived caloric defiecit. Now keep in mind that so called experts say that there is the equivalent of 3500 calories in a pound of stored fat. So one would presumably have to run for 30 minutesn at 80%HR max for 13 days to burn off a pound of adipose tissue.
Now understand that prolonged aerobic activity reduces anabolic hormones like testosterone(source) and growth hormone.
” The impact of chronic exercise training on the EIGR remains equivocal. Recent evidence suggests that endurance training results in decreased resting hGH and a blunted EIGR, which may be linked to an increased tissue sensitivity to hGH.”(source)
Aerobic activity also increases cortisol levels and oxidative stress.
“…the present findings give credence to the hypothesis suggesting a linkage between the low resting testosterone found in endurance-trained runners and stress hormones, with respect to cortisol.”(source)
Also it reduces myofibril hypertrophy, and has been proven to increase appetite. So just how good can aerobic activity be for fat loss? The answer: Not very.
So whats the answer? Run faster for an hour? Two?
Everyone knows the treadmill guys or girls. The ones who are diligently at the gym running like mad for an hour a day. Some of these people are able to also change their diets and keep it up for a few weeks and affect change. However many, most, aren’t. In fact I’d go as far as to say that most people who adapt this form of training do not change at much at all. Look around and tell me if you agree.
So Why work out at all?
2- We work out to increase muscle and alter our hormonal reaction to food, not to burn calories.
We are not fat because we eat too much, we eat too much because we are fat. There are various hormonal processes in the body that regulate appetite and metabolism. These hormonal processes must be addressed. One cannot simply operate these hormones on fewer calories (devoid of the proper nutrients) and more exercise and expect lasting change. The hormones must first be addressed. This is the reason 85% of diets result in greater weight gain.
The calories in calories out model is based upon the first law of thermodynamics. The first law of thermodynamics states that in a closed system, if growth is to happen it must take in more energy. And this is true enough. However there are many other factors that contribute to fat gain.
Hormones such as insulin, cortisol, ghrelin and leptin and estrogen work together to with many others to make your fat metabolically active. Sometimes reducing calorie intake can have a positive effect on these hormones. At least temporarily. However, usually it backfires.
By strength training, we increase the amount of myofibrils within a muscle system. More myofibrils mean insulin receptor sites in the body. This makes you more insulin sensitive. Remember insulin is the storage hormone. Being sensitive to insulin is good. It means you need less to get the same job done. Less insulin, less fat storage.
Training boosts testosterone levels which helps to reduce cortisol levels. Reducing stress is vital to creating an anabolic environment.
3- Calories in for calories out is over.
“saying an obese person is fat because he/she takes in more calories then they burned is like saying a restaurant is crowded because more people came in then left.”
The notion that one can simply eat less and move more and acheive optimal body composition is antiquated and faulse. The body is a complex thing.
There are many factors to consider when dealing with fat storage. Some of these factors are more important than others. Some have a far more profound effect on fat storage and the ability to burn fat than simple calorie restriction. Here are just a few that I’ve learned about:
a- There are factors that influence Insulin and factors that regulate metabolic rate, for instance. If you produce too much insulin or you`ve reduced your metabolic rate you will be storing fat, Regardless of how few calories you eat, or how many you burn in a workout. Your body will find a way to keep that adipose tissue.
b- Turns out, fat is metabolically active. Your adipose tissue(beer belly/cellulite etc etc etc) is an endocrine gland! It’s not just doing nothing(self reported for use of double negative).
c- There is a hormone that is released by adipose tissue called leptin. Leptin communicates with the brain to tell it to boost metabolism when fat is present. If Leptins job is to tell the brain that we have fat, why do we still have fat? Well, we turn this leptin mechanism off when we reduce our calories(diet) or when we eat high fructose corn syrup and other sugars. It’s a throwback to when we needed our fat stores for periods of famine.
It doesn’t matter how much cardio you do if the brain can’t recognize leptin. The brain will not let you lose any fat.
d- Grehlin is the appetite hormone. when you eat certain foods such as processed foods with high fructose corn syrup and other sugars, less grehlin is produced. You still store the fat of the sugar you’ve eaten, but there is no feeling of satiaty. Then you eat more.
Fructose causes more fat storage and less appetite suppression.
e- There’s also something called the 8% rule. This rule states that when you reduce your calories for a prolonged period of time, you will wind up gaining that weight back plus an additional 8%. The reason is because reducing calories also results in a reduction in basal metabolic rate.
“… the majority of the studies point to a reduction in short-term resting metabolic rates that is greater than can be explained by the loss of body mass or fat-free mass over the same time period. Unfortunately, there has been very little work done over the last few years regarding the duration of this phenomenon.”( source )
As far as my personal results are concerned, the calories in calories out model has worked in the past. But it only works in the short-term and it doesn’t work for everyone. It doesn’t work all the time. AND AS MUCH AS 85% OF THE TIME IT RESULTS IN GREATER WEIGHT GAIN! (source)
4-Stability balls rocker boards and thera balls are making you weaker
I keep waiting for Thera-ball and bosu ball based strength training to die. But it won’t. It is a knarley beast. Unstable surfaces have their time and place. It is important to work balance while rehabing and injury for instance.
Please understand doing exercise on a ball reduces the force you can send into the ground. Less force into the ground equals less adaptive response.One may think that the increase in balance adds to joint stability and injury prevention. However balance is a funnny thing. One does not seem to lose it the way one loses strength. It takes far more time. Therefor, once you have it, you can build on it with very little effort. Doing single arm lateral raises on a theraball looks neat, but it’s not. Unless you are rehabilitating injury or attempting to get your balance to a normal level, these exercises are not as useful as compound multi jont exercises.
5- Spinal flexion exercises damage your disks.
Most stomach crunches, hanging leg raises, curl ups side bends or back extenstions reduce the strength of your disks.
The anulus is the hard outter shell of the softer inside of the disk. This becomes compressed with each repetition. It can break and leak. These breaks or leaks are called bulges, protrusions, hernias or extrusions. These are probably not fun. There’s lots of great “ab” exercises out there that are far more effective than crunches. Off the top of my head, try the dumbell front raise. If you really want to have rock hard abs, get a qualified instructor to teach you the overhead barbell squat. Dr Stwart Mcgill, proffesor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo recommends the Bird Dog and Stir the pot exercises. For instruction on how to accomplish these, why not consult your freindly neibourhood trainer, moi 😉
6-“Feeling the burn” does not make you stronger or leaner.
It amazes me that people still judge the efficacy of thier workouts by how much “burn” they feel.
“Hurts so good” or ” No pain no gain” are misleading lines overheard in gyms worldwide.
Remember, we’re talking about ‘optimal’ strength here. When you increase your strength you increase your building hormones and decrease your fat storage hormones. Feeling the burn may have it’s place for the endurance athlete or bodybuilder, but if you are trying to lose fat and build strength, long sets that produce a burning feeling are not your best bet. Here’s why:
“Feeling a burn” is an indication that you are no longer producing energy from the right energy system. Lactic acid has begun to build up and this is a tremendouse source of energy for endurance. You may be effectivly working endurance, however the key here is optimal strength. At the burning stage, you have gone past the place where maximal strength gains happen. Far better to load the muscle with heavy weight, and perform fewer reps stopping before the burn sets in.
7- Sub Maximal training prepares you for maximal training and supra-maximal training
building progressions towards a day of competitiion or a day of maximal load. do not try to lift maximally every day.
8- Nothing is specific but the sport.( I may have to delete this one so other trainers don’t see this)
This is just my opinion:
Athletes are born not made. The elite athlete will succeed in spite of horrific training protocols. You cannot duplicate competition environments in the gym. Exercises should be built around supporting the kind of explosive movements atletes will see in competition, but trying to replicate won’t happen.
9- Functional training just means “relevant to life”
“Functional training”: It’s a garbage pale term that could mean anything. What is “functional” for you? walking with groceries? loading a baby seat into the car? Walking up stairs? Is walking on a treadmill ‘functional training’? Have I asked enough about this word?
10-aerobic/endurance training can make you fatter
increase oxidative stress which increases cortisol and suppresses testosterone. make sure your rest intervals are right and your nutrition supreme.
Strength training with the “big four” exercises for gym longevity and to maintain your New Year’s resolution.
So here’s what happens: You look in the mirror, and say to yourself ” Why don’t I look like I did in high school? ” And you commit to getting your weight under control.
It’s no secret, right? All you have to do is move more and eat less, right??
So you join a gym -maybe a yoga-Pilates- body pump class and you go at it! You even outlast all the newbies who lose interest by February. You learn to train yourself harder then ever before. But then you tweak your back or your shoulder or a knee. Doc says to rest it. You do .
After awhile it gets better. But you aren’t in the same zone you were. Your energy is lower.
You leave the gym. “Sure,” you tell yourself, “you’ll go back.” One day. Problem is it takes till next January when you wonder yet again where your high school body went.
So you go back to the gym. Maybe this time the weight doesn’t come off so easily. So you work a little harder. Maybe you buy a px90. Or commit to 90 consecutive days of hot yoga. By March you are hurt. Or just spent. So you stop.
Sound familiar? Happens to all of us. Happened to me.
“Next year I am really goin’ out for a rip, bud!” You are in a never ending spiral of trading off more effort for less gains resulting in injury/loss of enthusiasm/sickness. You’ve fried your adrenals. You have become a pool of cortisol.
Would it shock you to hear that that’s exactly where they want you to be?
You know- THEM. The ones who want you to be sick and fat and spend your money on what they tell you to.
There is no end to this assault via the fitness marketing machine-
” Have you tried this diet?”
” Have you heard of that workout or class?”
” You need to run 4 miles a day to lose fat.”
” If you’re not doing this you aren’t working hard enough!”
How do you cut through all the noise? Could there really be a simple solution?
Squats, deadlifts, standing press, bench.
These are the core movements that all others come from.
There is nothing that these exercises cannot accomplish when properly implemented. Fat loss? Yup. Spine stability? Check. Power? Size? Uh-huh. core strength? Don’t make me laugh! These are the best core strengtheners on the planet. Think about it: you are a quarter back on a football team. Who would you rather have on your defensive line? The guy who won the Crossfit games? Or Dave Tate? ( dude, you want Dave Tate- and he doesn’t spend much time on a Bosu ball).
In fact I’d go as far as to say that every exercise from a “core” or “functional fitness” program is designed in vain to somehow replace these big four exercises.(disclaimer: I could be wrong on that, don’t quote me). But after 32 years working with weights, I can honestly say no exercises will ever be as effective as squats, deadlifts, bench press and standing press.
So why not do them If they replace hundreds of other less effective exercises?
“Oh I can’t squat because of my knees.”
Probably not true. In fact I fix a lot of knees with deep squats. Knees are a funny thing and yes, You absolutely can injure a knee squatting improperly. But a full squat- performed below parallel, where the hamstring covers the calf, has been proven to remove forces from the knee, and activate the relative musculature properly , creating proper tracking and stability.
“Deadlifts are bad for your back”
Nope. They are not. When performed correctly, They are damn good for your back and hips and arms and…you get the point-
“I do 16 variations of lateral raises so I do not need to perform a standing press.”
It’s important to assess proper shoulder function and train the musculature properly. But if you cannot perform a standing press with proper form, it is an indication of a dysfunction. Get an assessment from a qualified pro.
Maybe you are just afraid of a bar over your head. If that’s the case then you need to develop some self confidence. May I suggest standing press for your confidence?
“I heard Bench press could be bad my shoulder if I touch my chest with the bar.”
Elbow and shoulder dysfunction comes largely from range variations of the bench press that do not allow for the proper musculature to be engaged through a full range of motion. The half range bench press( the one performed to 90 degrees of elbow flexion) is just such a dangerous movement.
” I don’t want to get bulky.”
First of all- you do want hypertrophy. Trust me. There’s parts that should get bigger. Who doesn’t want a killer ass? But as far as becoming the next Ronnie Coleman…You won’t. Making muscles bigger is a matter of volume intensity and time. It takes a lot of intention. However, keeping the weight relatively high (65-95% of single repetition max), and the rest relatively long (3-8 minutes), is no recipe for muscle mass. Strength yes. Mass, no.
Bringing it home:
I don’t want to make it sound like these exercises are easy. It is difficult to show up for your workout, and get your reps in. Very few people can do it consistently.
“Life is hard, just by being in it.”-Louis C.K.
So why not give yourself every advantage by allowing yourself to reduce the intensity? If there was a way of reducing your intensity and increasing your fat loss would you do it?
All of these movements are total body exercises that when done properly train correct movement , produce a favorable hormone environment [and therefore fat loss environment] and therefor reduce injury risk and increase strength.
Take the time to learn these movements. Properly implement them into your routine. Make them the center piece of your training. They’ll make everything else better.
Tags: Bench Press Strength training with the "big four" exercises for gym longevity and to maintain your New Year's resolution., Deadlifts. Standing Press, Squats
On your journey to better health, here is a list of 10 things that you can avoid today!
1- Sugar and white flour.
2- Artificial sweeteners- All of them.
3- Soda and juice- believe it or not juice is not a good option for fat loss or health.
4- Upsizing your meal! Probably shouldn’t be in a fast food place anyway, but if you are, regular size will do 😉
6- Food with ingredients you can’t pronounce. These chemicals are bad.
8- Unreal foods such as processed cheese or meat.
9- Trans fats.
10- High calorie, low nutrition foods like packaged macaronni and cheese, lunch packs and cracker packs.
2tbsp Organic coconut oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup Carrot(grated)
2 tsp Minced Garlic cloves
1 cup small by scallops
1 cup uncooked shrimp(peeled and deveined)
1 cup thinly sliced brown mushrooms
8oz drained bamboo shoot
1tbsp finely grated ginger root
1tbsp soy sauce(sorry)
1tsp Hoisin sauce
Phyllo pastry sheets( optional… personally, I don’t like it)
What you do:
Heat up the oil in a frying pan(medium). Add next tree ingredients. Cook for 5 min stirring often. Let onion soften.
Add the next 7 ingredients. Cook 5 minutes till shrimp start to turn pink. Remove from heat. Let stand for 15 minutes. Then drain it.
Serve on it’s own or:
Place one a work sheet on a work surface. Spoon 1/4 cup of shrimp mixture across pastry sheet. Roll up the pastry from the bottom up to enclose the filling. Brush the end wit water to seal. Place on oiled baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients.
Bake in 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for 20 mins or until golden. Should make 14 rolls. Please let me know how it tastes!
Did you know that the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada predicts that more baby boomers will be sick with heart disease due to unhealthy lifestyles?
In fact, it is estimated that 52% of baby boomers lead a sedentary lifestyle. Obesity is up 30% from only 10 years ago!
About 1.3 million Canadians aged 45-59 have already been diagnosed with or experienced heart disease, stroke or high blood pressure (source: heart and stroke foundation).
And did you realize that this negative shift in health will result in an increased burden on our health care system and longer waits for surgery?
Reduce your risk of serious cardio vascular disease. Join our team of qualified professionals dedicated to increasing your level of activity, helping you to achieve a healthy weight and reducing your blood pressure! Read more at CBC.ca.
Tags: Baby boomers, heart disease healthy lifestyle, heart healthy, obesity
I’m not really sure why some people think that in order to train their “core” they need to become acrobats on a thera-ball. Skillfully, they balance and twist their way through a workout, looking like Cirque de Soleil clowns. The question is what is effective for building core strength.
Strength and power is about delivering force into the floor. By putting an unstable surface betwen yourself and the floor, you limit the force you can acheive.
Somewhere along ye lines people have been sold on the idea that the core is somehow separate and can be maximally trained on it’s own with a “stability device”. This simply is not he case.
A new study from the journal of strength and conditoning compares core activation of different exercise approaches, and discovers the greatest activation with free weights. Electromyographic(EMG) acitivity of core muscles were measured. Athletes were tested on different equipment.
They concluded that “strength and conditioning specialists should focus on implementing multi-joint free weight exercises, rather than core-specific exercises, in order to adequately train the core muscles in their athletes and clients.”
My philosophy is irrelevant. I have been doing this for a long time and if there’s one thing that I’ve learned that everybody is different. Each person has his or her own requirements for Rest, diet, supplementation and exercise. Almost all training principles have their time and place for certain people.
Therefor each person’s approach to these aspects should be completely different. From this point of view It doesn’t matter how I train myself what I eat or what my feelings are towards exercise or nutrition or supplementation in this crazy industry. It truly is irrelevant.
My actions discover what your biological needs are/should be, to create the most effective way for you to achieve your goals.
Yours in Fitness
Tags: biological needs, health, Ryan Booth, trining philosophy
I don’t believe that one needs to count calories in order to improve body composition I am of the belief that one should eat when one is hungry and stop when one is full. This is not an approach that works for everyone right away. There is training involved so that one does not just reach for the pizza and beer.
A new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition my have the solution. In this new meta-analysis researchers found that cognitive processes can influence the amount of food one eats. They concluded that attentive eating is likely to influence food intake and may provide a novel approach to weight loss.
Researchers reviewed studies that experimented on the effect that manipulating memory, distraction, awareness, or attention has on food intake.
Most people know what healthy eating is. Try keeping a journal of what yo eat. It may be surprising to you just how much extra you are eating.
Tags: attention, attentive eating, awareness, calorie counting, distraction, eat attentively, lose fat, lose weight, memory, Nutrition
Ever have one of those days when what you though was right was wrong? I have lots of them lately.
Cases in point:
#1: A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioninng found PNF stretching ineffective for inproving vertical and mobility in quadricep muscles( below )
#2: A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning found kettlebells to be effective to improve strength and power.( below 2 )
I dislike kettlebells and use PNF stretching, daily.
Good science, I am told, involves creating a hypothesis and then trying to disprove said hypothesis. Looks like I’ve just disproven my hypothesis that kettlebells don’t work and PNF is as effective or more so than other muscle activation facilitations( dynamic stretch, foam rolling etc.).
Keep in mind that no study is perfect, for example PNF of the quadriceps may not be the best way to elicit and increase in vertical jump. However, these studies offer enough evidence to at least get me thinking about a change.
Tags: good science. disprove hypothesis. kettlebell, PNF stretching.