7 STEPS TO EFFECTIVE TRAINING

Dr Jinger Gottschall explains how to get the results you deserve.

Want to get the best results from the time you spend working out? Keep these seven tips front of mind.

Dr Jinger Gottschall is a university professor, studio owner, Les Mills instructor and former triathlete who has dedicated her career to academic fitness research. Here she shares some of her favorite fitness facts – highlighting exactly what it takes to shape a safe and effective training regime.

#1 CHOOSE THE RIGHT MOTIVATION

If you’re primarily motivated by external goals (how you look), it’s harder to maintain good exercise habits over time. You have a better chance of making a lifestyle change if you think about what internal factors motivate you. It might be lowering cholesterol, improving body composition, boosting energy, productivity and happiness. Choose internally-focused motivators like these and sticking to exercise will be much easier. Write your goals down. And if you want, share them. Sharing your goals with other like-minded people is proven to boost your chances of success through support.

#2 PROGRESSIVE TRAINING IS THE BEST BET

If you’re new to exercise or haven’t exercised regularly for over six months, studies show a slow, progressive training plan is the best way to build a habit and prevent burnout. Try not to do more than the plan specifies – by doing too much too soon you increase the risk of injury, not to mention frustration and the likelihood of giving up.

#3 VARIETY BRINGS RESULTS

The best results come when you follow a weekly regime that features a combination of cardio, strength and flexibility training. This was highlighted by a study involving 25 non-active, healthy adults who completed a training plan featuring a combination of LES MILLS™ workouts. After 30 weeks the exercisers saw an increase in lean tissue (+5 percent), a decrease in both body mass (-4 percent), and LDL cholesterol (-6 percent). And their cardiovascular fitness increased by an average of 50 percent. Thanks to results like these we can now confidently advise that a varied work out regime will significantly improve your chances of living a longer, healthier life.

#4 CHOOSE HIGH REP, STRENGTH TRAINING

Don’t shy away from lifting weights. Incorporating low load, high-repetition strength training can build strong, lean muscle and do amazing things for your fitness. We studied 20 non-active, healthy adults following a regime featuring three RPM™ cycling workouts and three BODYPUMP™ strength training sessions per week. After 24 weeks not only did cardiovascular fitness significantly increase, but bone density in the arms, legs, pelvis, and lumbar spine were statistically greater.

#5 LOW WEIGHTS MAXIMIZE CALORIE BURN

High repetition training with low weights can maximize calorie burn. Studies show the mean amount of energy expenditure during a BODYPUMP workout, using faster repetitions with lighter weights, is 29 percent greater than in the same duration of slower repetitions with heavier weights.

#6 ADD HIIT

If you already participate in three to five workouts per week, consider embracing the magic of high-intensity interval training. With the addition of just two 30-minute HIIT workouts a week you can see your health, fitness, and strength leap ahead. In a study of 84 healthy adults it took just six weeks of twice-weekly LES MILLS GRIT™ workouts for them to enjoy a decrease in body fat (-2 percent), a reduction in triglycerides (-16 percent), an increase in cardiovascular fitness (+6 percent) and improved back strength (+21 percent).

#7 DON’T FORGET YOUR CORE

Squeezing in the odd set of crunches isn’t going to give you the results you deserve. Core exercises that require shoulder (deltoid) and hip (glute) activity produce greater muscle activation in the abdominal muscles than exercises such as a crunch. Research shows that incorporating integrated core training into your workout regime can improve endurance, enhance stability and reduce injury.

Jinger Gottschall, PhD, is an Associate Professor at Penn State University, and former triathlete who learned first-hand the injury-inducing effects of doing nothing but cardio exercise. She has subsequently led numerous studies into the effectiveness of various exercise regimes and works closely with Bryce Hastings, Les Mills Head of Research, to test all sorts of exercise programming. When it comes to getting the best results from the time you spend working out, this woman knows the way to go.

This piece originally appeared on lesmills.com.

 

It Starts Today!

ENOUGH! Stop thinking and start doing. Yes, we’re talking to you!
We get that it can be difficult to start something new, so why not ease into it with these few ideas and soon you’ll be up early for a run and then heading to the gym before bed!

SWEAT BEFORE YOU SHOWER

As soon as you wake up, do a few sit-ups on your bed. Whilst you’re brushing your teeth, do a wall-sit or a few squats. Take some of the free time you have to include one or two exercises which will quickly become your morning routine. Get all of this done before you shower, and you will have done your workout for the day!

STAND UP

Sitting at a desk all day can get boring, so why not make it a little more exciting by standing up and walking around. It may seem silly but stretching your legs can help you feel better, as well as help you add some fitness to your workday. Instead of emailing a colleague, walk over to them, go on a short stroll outside on your lunchbreak, even if you just stand up and stretch for 30 seconds every hour, that’s something! It’s so much better for you to be stood up than sat down for most of the day.

ARE YOU REALLY HUNGRY?

One-way that people undo all the hard work they have put into their fitness routine is by snacking or eating too much. Obviously, if you’re hungry you need to eat, and you should be eating good, solid meals throughout the day to give you the energy to keep you going. However, snacking unhealthily or eating a lot when you think you’re hungry is counterproductive. If you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, you’re not really hungry, you’re just bored. Always keep that in mind when you are feeling peckish and are heading over to the cupboard to grab something. Instead, go for a piece of fruit, and if you don’t fancy that, maybe you aren’t hungry after all.

ADD EXERCISE TO YOUR EVERYDAY ACTIVITIES

This is a super simple one to do, and you can switch it up each day or have a certain routine that you follow. Basically, when cooking, jog around the kitchen if you are waiting for something to boil, if you’re watching tv why not hold a plank during the adverts or do push ups. Just keep yourself moving, and by tying it in with your everyday activities, it won’t feel odd or boring.

USE THE STAIRS

When out and about, if you can, use the stairs instead of elevators or lifts. Climbing stairs raises your heart rate which is great cardio, as well as increases your core muscle strength. So, choose the stairs! It’s an easy workout to fit in without you even realising, and if you start now, whether out shopping or in a hotel, it will become second nature to use the stairs. It’s recommended that you walk at least 10,000 steps per day, so why not do something to help towards that goal!

WALK OR CYCLE

If you live close to where you work or where your daily commute takes you, why not walk or cycle? As well as getting in some exercise, your heart rate will rise which will fill your body with good hormones, making you happier and ready for the day ahead of you. If you’re a little further away, why not cycle, however if this isn’t possible, go on a bike ride when you get home from work or make it a regular weekend activity.

There isn’t time for excuses anymore, we’ve given you all you need to start doing what you’ve been talking about, so today is the day! Whether you decide to exercise whilst watching tv, think about your food, cycle to work, or take on board all of these ideas, you’re taking a step in the right direction, and all you need to do now is stick at it!

How Much Should Workouts Hurt?

You need to be in tune with pain if you want to safely train.

THE NOT SO PAINFUL TRUTH ABOUT PAIN AND EXERCISE
By Emma Hogan

The transformative effects of exercise don’t come when you take it easy. But how much should you be suffering in order to get results?

We all know that you don’t get results when you sit in your comfort zone, but is there an ideal degree of “discomfort”? When it comes to how much exercise should hurt, says Bryce Hastings, Physiotherapist and Les Mills Head of Research, there are no hard and fast rules. For the most part it depends on the type of suffering – put simply, while it’s okay for exercise to feel uncomfortable, it should never be painful.

“Too often people don’t distinguish between the discomfort that comes from fatigue and the feeling of pain,” says Hastings.

Unfortunately, the confusion between fatigue and pain can be off-putting if you’re only at the beginning of your exercise journey. “When you’re just starting out you sweat, you get an increased heart rate and you feel uncomfortable – all of this is the stress response that comes from exercise,” says Hastings. It’s not until you become accustomed to regular training that you learn this stress and fatigue is part of the deal. Your body embraces it because you know that it goes away quickly.

Fatigue is your friend. Transformation happens when you push your body into the fatigue zone.

If you want to get gains in fitness or strength, fatigue is your friend. Transformation happens when you push your body into the fatigue zone. But should all workouts push you to the same level of fatigue?

Hastings explains there are five exercise intensity zones, and a sound weekly workout regime involves spending time in each zone. Ideally, you should be exercising at a moderate to hard intensity (where the discomfort of fatigue probably sits between 6.5 and 8.5 out of 10), as this will help improve aerobic fitness and promote fat burn. Pushing your body to its maximum training zone (where the discomfort of fatigue hits 8.5 to 10 out of 10) will help you develop maximum performance, but you only want these spikes of intensity a couple of times a week. He also cautions that feeling flogged during exercise is not the only measure of a workout’s value – while exercising at a very low intensity is unlikely to generate fatigue, low intensity activities like yoga and core training can improve overall health and help recovery.

If it’s not fatigue-based discomfort, it’s a pain.

When it comes to distinguishing between types of pain, there are two things you can do:
1) Mentally split yourself in half and evaluate where it hurts. If you have pain in the same place on both sides and it’s the same type of pain, then it’s probably delayed onset muscle soreness (or DOMS). In most cases this is nothing to worry about. You can check out some tips on how to deal with it here.

2) If you have a specific point of pain that’s on one side of your body but not on the other, and that pain is above 3 out of 10, and interfering with your function, then you’re possibly suffering an injury. In this situation we suggest you seek professional advice.

It’s the location of the pain that matters most

The benefits of your training come from discomfort in the muscles, not the joints. So if you’ve got any joint pressure or discomfort it’s an issue. Let’s take squats for example. Squats are all about working your quads and glutes, so if you’re squatting and your quads start getting sore that’s to be expected. But if you start to get a lot of pressure in your lower back that’s a warning sign, because that’s not the intended target. It indicates that no longer is the soreness born from muscle fatigue, it’s possibly pain coming from compressed joint tissue. It’s the same as if you’re doing the overhead press and suddenly your neck starts getting sore – that’s not the intended target, so could be an issue.

How much should you suffer?

The amount of suffering you subject your body to should depend on the exercise you’re doing. If you’re using a leg press machine all you need to worry about is pressing, so you are safe to go to volitional failure – which means going to the point where you actually can’t push anymore. But if you’re doing weighted squats it’s a different story. Fatigue will often make things more difficult when you’re at the bottom of the squat, which can be dangerous if you encounter failure at this point, so normally you might finish your set at 85 percent fatigue. You can push the fatigue point further out if you have a safety mechanism such as a spotter, someone who stands over you ready to take the load if needs be.

Warning signs: when to take action

The major warning signs are unilateral (one-sided) pain, any joint pressure or discomfort, and sudden onset sharp pain. And sometimes sudden onset weakness can be sign that something is not right.

Hastings says these are all warning signs: “Pressure in the front of the knee while you squat, pain in your elbows when you grip, pressure in your neck or upper back when you’re doing an overhead press, pain at top of the shoulder while you bench press.”

Of course muscle and joint pain are not the only discomfort people associate with exercise. I am thinking about that awful gasping sensation that comes when you just can’t get enough air in your lungs, or when you’ve raised your heart rate so high it feels like it will pump its way past your ribs and out of your chest. But Hastings says that if you’re fit and healthy you should be able to push your body to its max – reaching high levels of exertion without any significant concerns.

His advice? Don’t shy away from discomfort but always think about what your objective is, and if it feels slightly off, it probably is.

PAIN: WHAT YOU NEED TO REMEMBER
• It’s important to identify the difference between fatigue and pain.
• Fatigue is good – as transformation happens when your body hits the fatigue zone.
• It’s okay for exercise to cause discomfort in your muscles – but you shouldn’t feel any discomfort in your joints.
• Post-workout pain that is equal on both sides of the body is most likely delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
• If you suffer from one-sided pain, joint pain or sudden onset sharp pain seek professional advice.

Lost Your Fitness Mojo?

It’s June. Half the year has nearly gone. All those fitness resolutions you made in January, oh wait, did you remember about those fitness resolutions you made? It’s ok to have fallen out of your routine, but let’s not wait another 5 months, come on, let’s get your fitness mojo back!

What?

What resolutions did you make at the start of the year? If you still have the same goals now, look over them again and really think about what you want to achieve and tell yourself that you will do it. If your plans have changed, change your resolutions too. It’s not too late to start! Write down what you want to achieve and put it somewhere you will always see it, whether that’s on a mirror, above your bed, or even as your phone lock screen. Keep reminding yourself of what your goals are.

Why?

Why did you choose these resolutions? Is it to lose weight, tone up, prepare for an event? Whatever it is, when you don’t feel in the mood for exercise, remind yourself of the reasons why you are doing this. Your goals must be important otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. Tell your friends and family why you have chosen these resolutions, and that they need to remind you of those reasons when you tell them that you don’t want to do it later. Sometimes having someone else to push you on is more motivating than just yourself.

When?

When can you start? Now is best, but if not, take some time to plan a fitness routine that'll work best with you and your life. Whether that’s fitting in exercise when you wake up, after work, or over the weekend, figure out when works best for you and stick to that plan if you can. Obviously it may be difficult at first if you have other commitments or feel you can't reserve a certain time for fitness, but keep pushing yourself to find something that works. The more you stick to the routine, the more the routine will stick to you and it will become second nature to exercise at certain times of the day or head to the gym on certain days.

Where?

Where will you put your resolutions to play? Whether joining the gym or doing workouts at home, make sure you’re doing what’s best for your body and what will help you see the change you want to see. Nothing crazy will happen overnight as change takes time, so wherever you choose to be, put your body first and don't push yourself. Like we’ve said, it will take time, but stick at it and you will see the results you’re aiming for. Wherever you choose to bring your goals to life, make the most of the time you spend there. It can be so easy to get distracted, but get your head in the game and focus on what and why you have chosen the goals you have. Where you then choose to be should come quite naturally.

How?

How will you stick to your resolutions? Well, hopefully you’ll keep telling yourself why you have chosen to do what you’re doing, and with a weekly plan you follow, your resolutions will become part of your routine. Another thing to do is visit your local gym and speak to a personal trainer who will give you tips and help you reach your goals. They’re great motivators and might be the answer you’re looking for. If, however, you feel you will be fine on your own, that’s great. Follow your plan, and hopefully by the end of the year your resolutions will just be a part of your everyday life and you'll wonder why you ever stopped aiming towards your goals..

Will you stick to your resolutions?

Why Sweat is a Good Thing

HOW GETTING SWEATY MAKES US HUMAN

By Margo White for Fit Planet

Working out and working up a sweat go hand-in-hand. But perspiration is about much more than keeping cool. According to Dr Vybarr Cregan-Reid it also sets humans apart from other animals, and has helped us climb to the top of the evolutionary ladder.

MARGO WHITE: Why do we sweat?

DR VYBARR CREGAN-REID: We have different kinds of sweat that is produced on different parts of our bodies. It’s mainly our thermoregulation technology, which allows us to stay cool on a hot day. It also creates our scent, our body odor. Everybody knows about the smelly parts, the groin and armpits, but that involves different types of sweat glands, to create a specific scent that is as unique as our DNA. But the main function of most of our sweat glands is thermoregulation.

Before we go on, you’re a lecturer in Victorian literature, so how did you become so interested in (and a bit of an expert) in sweat?

It’s all because I wrote a book on running, Footnotes; How Running Makes us Human. A lot of that is about how running inculcates creativity, how this almost meditative activity has very specific neurological effects on the brain. So I’d go out for a run, and come back with an idea, and this interest in sweat was one of them. It suddenly became clear, when I was out running, that sweat is an evolutionary imperative that has given us an advantage over other mammals, in terms of hunting.

Sweat is about as essential to being human as having a brain is, and has played a key role in the evolutionary success of our species. We think of it as a sort of throwback to our previous animal selves, but the reason we’re at the top of food chain is partly due to the fact we sweat, but also the way we sweat, on particular parts of our body.

Can you elaborate?

We are terrible sprinters, as a species. Animals the size of our palm can run faster than we can. But in certain environments, we have distinct advantages over other animals, because animals, like antelope or deer, aren’t able to lose heat as efficiently as we can. And because they’re quadruped, more of their body is exposed to sun on a hot day. So not only do they capture more heat from the sun, but they’re less efficient at losing it. We’re two-legged so we’re slower, but we don’t take on as much heat, and we have efficient cooling technology all over our body.

So two legs are better than four? 

Yes, if you start chasing an antelope, it will skip away with the airiest disdain. But if you keep plodding along, at a jogging pace, you’ll catch up with the antelope. It will run away again, but once you’ve repeated this several times the antelope won’t be able to lose enough heat and will get to the point of heat exhaustion. Any animal that is good at sprinting is not good at running long distances, but many aspects of the human body are optimized for running long distances.

But horses sweat, don’t they?

Horses are the only animals that sweat in a way that is most similar to the way humans sweat. But they have a sort of waterproof coat, so they have a different protein in their sweat that allows it to foam up, pass through their waterproof coat and evaporate. So horses lose heat by sweating and we do too, and when you compare us to other animals, we really shift a lot of heat.

As you said, there are types of sweat, released on different parts of the body.

We have two main kinds of sweat glands, eccrine and apocrine. Eccrine glands – the thermoregulation glands – are the most numerous type. They’re found all over the body, particularly on the palms, soles of the feet and forehead. Having eccrine sweat glands on an exposed forehead, for instance, means the blood going to your brain is kept cool, so we can think while we’re in motion. The top of the head, meanwhile, is shaded by hair, so it also takes on less heat. I think that’s amazing.

The other type of sweat, the apocrine sweat, is mainly for scent and found in the armpits and the groin. Unfortunately for us, its job is to smell – it’s like our olfactory fingerprint. And because it’s released in areas where it can’t evaporate quickly, it comes into contact with bacteria, starts to break down, and starts to smell. It’s a different kind of sweat, with a different function.

The sweat on our arms, legs and forehead doesn’t smell because there’s quite a lot of salt in it, and the bacteria doesn’t like it. This means it usually gets to evaporate before bacteria get to work on it.”

What about the smelly feet?

The sweat from our feet doesn’t smell like the sweat in our groin or armpits. The sweat on our feet is clean sweat, but the problem is that our feet stay covered for such long periods. Shoes have been around for a long time, about 40,000 years, but we’ve been around for two to three million years, on and off. We have smelly feet because we put them in a warm closed-in environment – we put them in ten-inch coffins, which gives the bacteria plenty more time to go to work. If you wore something similar on your hands all day, your hands would smell too.

We tend to have mixed feelings about sweat …

In certain environments, like the gym, it’s a badge of honor, but taboo in other situations. In job interviews it’s rather awkward when someone goes to shake your hand and you have sweaty palms.

The reason you have sweaty palms is you’re having a fight or flight response. If you have sweaty palms you can run and climb up a tree more easily, because sweaty palms gives you extra grip to hold onto things. But it’s an evolutionary throwback, something that happens when adrenaline is released. So sweaty palms and feet might have made sense, because it would enable you to grip better if you were running or climbing.

Do men sweat more than women?

No. There’s variability across our species, and some people will sweat more than other people, and that’s partly to do with the variability in our DNA. But I can’t believe that women sweat less than men. I think there are more taboos around women sweating than there are around men sweating. Things are beginning to change, but for too long there has been this idea that it isn’t a womanly thing to do, which I think is a tragedy.

Dr Vybarr Cregan-Reid is Reader in English and Environmental Humanities at the University of Kent, and author of Footnotes: How Running Makes us Human. He is currently working on his third book, Primate Change: how the world we’ve made is remaking us.

This piece originally appeared on lesmills.com.

How to Effectively Build Body Muscle

Most people who join the gym want to build muscle. Simple as that. It could be as well as wanting to stay fit or to train for a certain event, or just to focus on building muscle in their bodies. People think lifting heavy weights as often as they can will get them to where they want to be, but your body is actually building muscle when you aren’t working out, meaning your workout should continue outside of the gym. This article is split into two sections: Rest, and Nutrition, to make it easy to see how you can effectively build up muscle whilst still staying healthy and keeping your body safe.

Someone preparing to build muscle.

Rest

You should be aware that rest days when being at the gym are just as important as working out. This is key when muscle training, as resting your body is essential in building up muscle tissue. We recommend 3 rest days if you workout the other four days in the week. This gives your body time to repair and your muscles time to grow and improve. It’s suggested that you don’t take two rest days next to each other as your overall workout can suffer, so spreading them out throughout the week is best, but see how you can work around your current routine to get the best rest you possibly can.

Another point to bring up is sleep! It is so important for muscle building to sleep as many hours as you possibly can each night to allow your muscle tissue time to grow and repair. By focusing on your training just when you are in the gym and not continuing when you are at home can reverse all the effort you have put into your body. Simply, rest is just as important as the actual time you put in at the gym, and the time you put into your muscles is pointless if you don’t allow your body to rest as that is the only time your muscle tissue builds.

Someone actually building muscle.

Nutrition

When you are lifting weights, the protein in your muscles begin to breakdown, and then when you rest, protein synthesis occurs which helps to rebuild your muscles. This takes place through consuming foods that are high in protein so that synthesis levels are higher than breakdown levels. It sounds scary and complicated, but it is perfectly normal when weight training for this to happen. Even simpler, you need to stay healthy outside of the gym as well as in so that your muscles can improve. This can be done by eating enough calories every day, even on rest days, and filling up on protein and other essentials:

Protein - Aids in repair and muscle growth. This can be added to your diet by eating: Meat, Eggs, Fish, Quinoa, Nuts, etc. You may already have enough protein in your diet, but by planning your meals and food shop, you will help yourself eat better meals to help muscle growth. You can also supplement protein with protein powders and drinks.

Carbs – These provide slow release energy to help you get through the day without snacking and give you enough energy when working out. These can be added to your diet by eating: Bread, Rice, Pasta, Potatoes, Oats, Fruit, etc. These easily give your meals more variety.

Glutamine – This is an amino acid that is important for lean muscle growth. It can be added to your diet by eating: Whey Protein, Spinach, Cabbage, Broccoli, Organic Poultry, etc. It can be harder to add these into your diet, but a few can easily be found and used in most meals.

To calculate your calories and track your nutrition we recommend the My Fitness Pal app:

Download for Android
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Whilst this won't be 100% accurate, it is a great place to start and you can adjust as you go along. With regards to protein intake, a great starting point is to consume: 1g of protein per lb of bodyweight per day and then adjust to suit. We will go into more detail about calculating these macronutrients in coming articles so stay tuned!

To sum up, your workout should continue outside of the gym, whether you are trying to build muscle or not. Muscle actually builds and repairs when you aren’t working out, so make sure to factor sleeping and rest into your fitness routine, as well as making sure you are getting all the food you need to aid with the muscle growth.

Good luck with your muscle training!

Do I Need a Personal Trainer?

Going to the gym and working out on your own is completely fine, however a lot of people prefer to have someone keeping them on track and personalising what the gym offers to suit them more. Therefore, some gym goers also have a personal trainer. It’s proven that gym goers will work 5 times harder with a personal trainer. Here’s a list explaining why:

Good For People Who Don't Know Where To Start

It can be really intimidating to join a gym and not know what to do to help you get to where you want to be. Staff members will be able to point you in the right direction; however, it can be hard to ask again and again. If you really are struggling, speak to someone about getting a personal trainer, so you can talk to someone about how you feel and where you want to see yourself in a few years. Personal trainers know what works and what doesn’t for different people, if you really want to make the gym part of your daily routine, a personal trainer is a good place to start.

Help Clients Achieve Their Goals

Personal Trainers truly do want to help their clients. It’s their job, and they wouldn’t have chosen to do it if they didn’t know about fitness or enjoy it. At some point, they must’ve been unhappy with their body to want to start going to the gym and learning more about working out. They know how to help the people they work with get to where they want to be.

Motivation

Working out on your own can be nice as you’re able to go at your own pace and stop if you need to, but this also allows you to stop when you want to. Having someone with you can really motivate you to keep going and see the change over a shorter amount of time. Having someone to motivate you pushes you to work harder and get closer to your goals.

Personalised Training Plans

A personal trainer does exactly that, trains you personally. Depending on your body type, goals, and anything else, these people will be a trainer for you, rather than a group or a gym as a whole. It can be hard to know what to do to kickstart your fitness journey and keep it going, so having someone who know what to do as well as making it personalised to you, makes having a personal trainer worthwhile.

Continues Outside of The Gym

Even though a lot of people stay healthy outside of the gym, some people workout in the gym and then don’t continue that when they leave. People then wonder why they haven’t yet achieved their perfect weight, however with a personal trainer, the gym becomes a life style, rather than a choice for every now and then. Personal trainers offer plans for their clients, from eating schedules and recipes to lifestyle changes, to help their customers get the most out of their sessions and new lifestyle.

Obviously personal trainers aren’t for everyone, but why not speak to us at Gym & Tonic, or your local gym to find out how you can benefit from one!

What Is Functional Training?

Functional training may be something you haven’t heard of before. It is a range of fitness exercises that allow you to train your muscles to work together and prepare them to perform everyday tasks more easily and without injuries, whether at home, work, or during sports sessions. Functional training mainly uses weight bearing activities targeted at the lower back as well as the core muscles of the abdomen.

Body building normally uses machines which isolate certain muscles, which may be un-beneficial to most people who want to train their whole body rather than just certain sections. Functional Training is NOT that. Functional training uses equipment that helps train your muscles to be a whole, which is fantastic for sport, general life, mobility, and much more. This type of training also allows you to work at your own pace which most people prefer, especially in a gym environment.

Types of functional training equipment you may find with us and other gyms can include:

Functional Rigs

Described as ‘the ultimate piece of strength and conditioning equipment’, functional rigs allow fast and effective whole-body workouts that deliver results. As these rigs are often quite large, more than one person can use the equipment at one time, and are perfect for anyone of any skill level and regardless of ability.

Olympic Lifts

These can be difficult to learn, however once acquired, these ranges of lifts with weights can improve athletic performance, strength and power, balance, stability, and coordination.

Hiit Mill

Unlike a standard treadmill, the Hiit Mill is self-powered to build speed and strength, especially during a Hiit (High-intensity Interval Training) workout.

Dumbbells

Free weights, such as dumbbells, can be found in most gyms, but are brilliant for functional training as they can be used for a huge range of exercises to build muscle.

Medicine Balls

These are a great choice for developing strength, coordination, and endurance. Medicine balls engage your whole body and can add intensity to a range of endurance and strength exercises to get your body working harder. During functional training, many people use them whilst performing squats and sit-ups.

Functional training relates to real people for real life. It’s great for elderly people who want to strengthen themselves for things they may now find difficult at an older age, such as climbing stairs, picking things up, and mobility. It works. So many people are now talking about it, and how great it is to workout your whole body, rather than just certain parts.

Do you think you will give it a go?

Large bicep plastic model

Top 5 lifting mistakes

Avoiding these 5 simple mistakes could have big impacts on your muscle gains.

Overtraining

Muscle is built outside of the gym, not inside.

This is the most common one we see. Whilst we all want fast results it is often easy to try and put "too much" work during training. Your muscles only grow outside of the gym whilst you give them rest. During the gym you are actually preparing your muscles to grow so if you keep preparing and never actually let them rest and grow then you are actually slowing your progress down.

Too much pushing, not enough pulling

Neglecting the back can lead to serious problems.

Whilst chest press is an incredibly important exercise, without balancing it with the reverse pulling exercises you are doing huge damage to your body. The neglect of the back in comparison to chest can be staggering and the consequences are more serious than simply aesthetics. Training this way causes a hunched posture with a tight chest pulling your shoulders forward. This causes huge back pain problems and complications, just ask Chiropractor Chris. To help reverse this process, focus more on your back as well as stretching your chest to loosen the tight muscles.

Ignoring warm ups

It's more than just a warm up set.

Jumping straight in to a set? Bad. Doing a warm up set? A bit better. Doing a proper warm up? That's going to save you injuries, increase your range of motion and severely increase your performance in the gym. As mentioned in the previous mistake, stretching is hugely important and doing this before your warm up set will have a big impact on your training. We recommend doing some light cardio to warm the muscles up before stretching depending on what you are training. Check out this handy guide for stretching each part of the body.

Not eating enough

You need to eat a calorie surplus to gain weight.

Okay so maybe this should be not eating enough of the right foods. What you do in the gym is only a fraction of what gets results, you need to be very focused on what you do outside of the gym. As mentioned with our point about getting proper rest, your muscles only build when you AREN'T training. Your training regime requires a huge amount of calories and it's important for you to calculate how many you need for you to build muscle as you will only gain with a calorie surplus. You then need to see how this is should be split into macro-nutrients (macros) try using an online calculator like Bodybuilding.com for an estimate and then adjust depending on your needs. As a guide you need consistently high protein and then on training days high carbs and low fats and non training days you're going to want to switch that and have high fats low carbs.

Not having a plan

Plan your goals. Be realistic.

If you want to see results then it is really important that you have a plan of action. Start out by setting your goals and a time frame. Be realistic. Once you have a goal its time to plan how you are going to reach it. You need to work out how many times per week you can commit to exercising and then build your training programme around that. When you're training make sure you are recording your results; this is key to make sure you push yourself each time you train and it also allows you to monitor your progress.

How many of these mistakes are you guilty of making? We hope this helped those who needed it and provided a good read for those who know about them already. If you have any more questions about building muscle please send us a message to stafford@gym-tonic.net or uttoxeter@gym-tonic.net.