10 September 2016

Were you born to be an Olympian?




Rio olympics womens gymnastsWhat makes an Olympian? – Is it indeed true that they are genetic freaks or are they just so driven that nothing could ever stop them?

Well there’s probably some truth in both.

Firstly you do have to have some genetic predispositions; you don’t see many short basketball players or high jumpers. An Olympic athlete’s build is usually optimised for his or her sport for example:

  • A large lung capacity can well place them for aerobic participation; think swimming or running disciplines.
  • Having large hands makes a great water paddle for the swimmer and having long legs makes a great long distance runner – whilst having shorter levers (arms and legs ration to body length) provides great mechanics for the power lifters.
  • For the long distance runner the volume of their calf is said to aid the biomechanics in that a smaller one means less mass to move per stride. Combine that with long legs and you can begin to see how the African athletes are more naturally built for these types of events.

And for the rest of us? There are things you can change with a little dedicated training, the things that you or I could work to improve upon because we play sports that we love even though we are short with chunky calves!!!

  • Like decreasing our resting heart rate through aerobic activity.
  • Increasing our reflex speed through SAQ (speed agility quickness) and coordination drills.
  • Working at our positive mental attitude and believing we can be better
  • And of course becoming leaner so that the weight we carry around for whatever sport we play is useful muscular weight and not energy wasted in carrying around excess fat

….So there is still lots to play for guys, train hard, be as good as you can be and if you’re not heading for the Olympics watch in awe and amazement as I do, at the wondrous feats of the human body!!

15 July 2016

Fit to Serve




Brightonfit to Serve

Success is a mindset. If you want to become the best, you have to push yourself, you have to want to be a better you. This is a significant part of the British Army’s ethos and I think everyone can take away something useful from learning more about it.

Are you training, or are you exercising? Because training is different to exercising in one significant way – what defines whether you’re training is if you have a goal to your efforts; this could be to reach a career, to win a race, or even to become a better you…all are equally worthy.

It is important to have this goal because everyone has moments of doubt, of weakness, of fear of failure; but it’s the goal which helps push you through this.

Everyone who’s physically pushed themselves knows about the ‘pain cave’ or the ‘dark place’. It’s at that moment which you will be most challenged to either quit or push through the pain. Success requires prior planning in my opinion; it doesn’t need to be written down or vocalised, you just need to ask yourself why you’re there at that moment. Find a phrase which is powerful to you, this can be very personal, it could even be a memory, but focussing on the right trigger for you will see you to the exit of the pain cave…

In my experience the most striking example of this is when watching someone row a 2K. There is the first 500m which is a breeze, you feel you could row the pace all day. Then the next 500m to 1K makes you work harder, your breathing is ragged and all the efficiency you felt early on is gone – welcome to the entrance to the pain cave. What happens next is down to the person, do they want it enough, can they dig deep and refuse to quit? Some people have it, some people develop it over time, but without it there’s no hope.

Training should challenge you, it should be a struggle because it all helps you reach your goal, helps you to become a better you. Work out what motivates YOU and reap the benefits as a result.

19 June 2016

Grab a coffee for this…




Coffee and exercise

Personally I didn’t want to believe it… But after trying not to listen, I heard about coffee potentially being bad for you?! I know, I didn’t believe it either, so I’ve looked into it; I’m far too biased to base this on my own opinion *slurps his brew* so I started with the research – and there appears to be plenty!
With so many studies to choose from I decided on a study carried out at the prestigious T H Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University, carried out on 208,000 people (over 30 years!) in the well-known coffee loving United States.

The conclusions certainly weren’t what I expected, and perhaps not what you’d expect either.

On the positive side: The scientists concluded ‘moderate coffee consumption was associated with reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and suicide’. Plus, no associations were found with cancer deaths.

An interesting fact to note in this study though, is there being no difference in benefit between caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee!

By this point I was just relieved at least some of what I heard was unfounded and but it still leaves the gap for highlighting any actual benefit beyond short term alertness. However the key word here is MODERATE (referred to as 3-5 cups a day – which sounded a lot to me even…) says Dr. Ding, a doctoral student in Harvard’s department of nutrition.

So the up-shot of this study, in my humble opinion is if you’re a coffee drinker then keep it moderate and perhaps try the decaf, and if you’re not a coffee drinker then there’s probably not need to change your habits for the sake of longevity.

4 June 2016

A cure for a chronic sitter




Brightonfit back pain exercises

We’re all guilty of ‘over sitting’ (yes, that’s a thing); we’re constantly told to be more active in order to be more healthy, and that translates into our working lives too.

This is all true of course, it’s common sense, but let’s be realistic. You’re probably sitting while reading this, I know I was while writing it.

The problem is that sitting causes many of the body’s biological system to shut down and causes muscle groups to waste away. It’s unavoidable though! We all need to sit for some of the time, some more than other perhaps but there’s only so much we can change.

So that leaves us with another option – How to sit better…

When we sit, our hips roll back into flexion, leading to a loss of natural lumbar curve (often leading to back pain). We need to restore this natural curve of the back.

Onto the ‘how’, with the following exercises you will activate key posture muscles and restore function to the; hips and spine. It’s about posture alignment to reduce the symptoms of pain at the source.

Sitting Knee Pillow Squeezes

This exercise introduces the body to the functional sitting position, versus the average slumped-forward position our bodies have become accustomed to. As the name implies, this exercise targets the adductor muscle group of the hips.

Instructions: 

  1. Sit in the middle of a chair with your feet pointed straight ahead, 4-6 inches apart.
  2. Place a block or foam roller between your knees.
  3. Roll your hips forward to place an arch in your low back. Hold this position throughout the exercise.
  4. Squeeze and release the block/foam roller with your knees.
  5. Repeat for 3 sets of 20. Be sure to keep your stomach relaxed for the duration of the exercise.

 

Sitting Abductor Presses

Just like sitting knee pillow squeezes, this exercise introduces the body to the functional sitting position. The hip abductor muscle group goes to sleep when we sit. This exercise will force them to wake up.

Instructions: 

  1. Sit in the middle of a chair with your feet pointed straight ahead, 4-6 inches apart.
  2. Place a strap around your knees.
  3. Roll your pelvis forward to place a small arch in your low back. Hold this position throughout the exercise.
  4. Press outward against the strap, then release.
  5. Repeat for 3 sets of 20. Be sure to keep your stomach relaxed for the duration of the exercise.

Using these exercises consistently will take you from being at risk of injury to a more healthy body in the long term.

17 May 2016

Harder to Kill




brightonfit personal fitness training

The slogan becoming harder to kill makes a good T-shirt, but is there a more profound meaning behind it? That’s what I set out to discover…

Survival comes down to functional training. This means how much of your training genuinely helps you in normal life, or what living wild would entail – picture zombie apocalypse where your running shoes are your best friend…

Obstacle course races have captured the imagination of our society, me included, and why is this? To me it feels like a chance to harp back to a bygone era, a primal time when your fitness was your weapon to survive. Perhaps it takes us being put into an environment where our survival of a course becomes the over-ruling concern to make us think of our fitness and health as being as important in our lives as it should be – I for one have certainly known of people who have rediscovered a desire to become ‘useful’ in their mind by doing such races, and that’s where I see the race’s purpose.

So what do we do with this new-found realisation? Probably very little but being an eternal optimist I can but hope. What we SHOULD do is not get bogged down in specialism – try to embrace all areas of fitness, especially the ones with clear transferable benefits to day-to-day life; and look at the training of the fittest, the athletes who cross sporting boundaries and the military personnel who train to meet any challenge, just to name two examples.

26 April 2016

Softer Running




Running brighton

I first heard the concept of running on a softer surface versus Tarmac while at school. This is the reason for our year group always having to wait until being on the field before we were allowed to start running.

It used to drive us crazy! But were their reasons valid?

According to Dr Rebecca Robinson, consultant in sports and medicine at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, there is no evidence that running on a soft surface such as grass is better for the body than running on a hard surface such as tarmac – and here are the reasons for it…

It boils down to bone being a living tissue which is constantly remodelling.

The key is to start GRADUALLY – there’s no surprise there, but the surprise may lie in the possitive response it can create. When started gradually and built up, it can cause the laying down of new cells, making the bone matrix stronger.

For running beginners, starting on softer ground is a good idea; it’s lower impact and good for developing balance and bounce in a new runner’s technique.

So combining the benefits of both involves a good mix of surfaces in a training programme, including road, grass, trail runs and even sand runs if possible. They all have their own stimulus on the body, helping to create stronger ligaments, muscles and tendons. With the uneven surfaces and direction changes promoting ‘whole-bone loading better’.

Running itself, compared to cycling and running, has been shown to be more protective against conditions such as osteoporosis in which bone loss causes an increased risk of fractures.

So keep up the running, use it sensibly as a training tool along side plyometric (explosive/jumping) training; mixing up the terrain and be smug in the knowledge that for all your hard work, you’ll be enjoying the wealth of health benefits in the long term.

26 March 2016

Hit the ground running




running

Running is an activity and sometimes sport we are all familiar with and running injuries are all too common amongst those of all abilities; and it is precisely this which we at Brightonfit try to address.

The reason for this is already known: technique, or the lack of…running itself won’t injure you, but the way you run can.

Looking closer it’s all too easy to see why, when the classic running ethos is backward. When a regular person decides to start running, their approach will often be; get the miles in, build these up steadily, maybe do some shorter distance runs and then worry about technique later down the line – which again, often never happens.

The approach we instill in our clients turns the previous approach on its head. Firstly we look at ‘skills & drills’ of running technique, followed by shorter distance and even sprint work as intervals, then finally adding stamina runs for distance or tempo runs on a timed basis, based on ability to keep a pace.

Perhaps look at the reason like this; if you took up weightlifting, I am sure any reasonable person would want to master the technique prior to lifting the heavier weights, to prevent injury. However when looking at a far more accessible activity such as running, the temptation to by-pass this crucial first step is almost standard.

Brighton is a very active city, we even have our own marathon! I personally love the fact there are always runners everywhere you look, I’m often one of them. We at Brightonfit and are here to help. We are passionate about the same sports as you and strive to impart our knowledge and experience to help build on your current ability, be that beginner to expert.

Book through us or for more specialist packages and barefoot techniques see our dedicated running school site here

 

9 March 2016

Tips for getting ahead




tips for getting ahead

 

Everyone wants a shortcut, but more often than not the only way is the long way. Luckily for you you have a shortcut.

Okay I’ll level with you, this does take work on your half; In fact the same amount of work you’re always giving and I’m always seeing from all my clients.

The shortcut lies in making the most of what’s on offer to you. Think of it like this; you’ve got the baseline of fitness and the decent food plan you stick to…what’s left? The extras that’s what’s left; the almost minor points which 9/10 get ignored.

Let me give you some examples:

  1. Using coconut oil for cooking, not olive oil
  2. 3L Water p/day
  3. Rotating types of protein
  4. Having a protein shake post workout with protein and carbohydrate
  5. Within 90mins post-workout having a protein/carbohydrate/fat meal
  6. If eating fruit post-workout, then eating within 60mins

If you’re seeing this as a long route to healthier living, then you’re thinking about it the wrong way.

You’re here *gestures hand at chest height* and if you implement some comparatively small changes then you’ll be here *dramatically gestures hand over all heads*

Let’s look at some more prosaic examples; when was the last time you went to bed early, not because you were tired but in readiness for you next session?

Treat everyday like pre-race day (minus the carb loading…) knowledge is power and we at Brightonfit are here to give you just that.

25 February 2016

Keep on rolling




Foam roller

Photo Note: I make no apologies for the carpet, some patterns are timeless… Many fads come and go; I wouldn’t blame you if you have found a way to switch off to them…but not all fads were created equal.

Today I’m here to talk to you about the ‘foam roller’. A cylindrical object, which one lies on and rolls on, to massage the muscle group in question.

Some may see it as a convenient way to ‘faff’ (my name for procrastinating) before warming up in a session, however the more utilitarian amongst you will know that when used properly, it’s true purpose is to make you more supple and a bit richer…. That right, I did said richer.

Richer than having to pay a Physio’s hourly rate when injuries occur, which they will, if you do not pay attention to maintaining your body. Think of if like time spent preventing injury, or perhaps prehab, to avoid the potential rehab; and any injured athlete could tell you that’s time well spent.

How does it work a hear you think; well it’s effectiveness goes some way towards partially doing what a physio tries to do – (To many caveats? Well, I did say this is the cheap way!) – Self-myofascial release/self-massage, aids recovery through mobilising restricted fascia (the soft tissue portion of the connective tissue in the muscle that provides support and protection) back to normal after overuse or inactivity and which can also help improve range of motion.

So let’s get down to the crux of the matter.

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Pick a muscle group: e.g. Glutes
  2. Spend 2 minutes on left side of that area, then another 2 minutes on the other.
  3. Alternate between; applying a wave of pressure across the area – hunt out the tight areas i.e. Painful spots, and; applying direct pressure to those tender areas to work deeper into the muscle tissue.
  4. Move on to target another muscle group.

I know this sounds like a lot of time spent on ‘rolling around on the floor’ (potentially in agony for those less supple creatures) all in the name of prehab, but we all strive for prevention, right?

29 January 2016

Working 9 to 5





I’ve been there, when you’re not stressing about the work and deadlines, you might get a moment to hate the damage sitting down for hours does to your body.

Not everyone has the luxury of being able to choose a job which doesn’t require sitting for many hours during the day, but what you can choose is what you do with the other parts of your day to offset that potential damage.

At Brightonfit we harp on about ‘mobility’ and ‘flexibility’ quite a lot, but with good reason. The more time you spend sat down the more time you must make to stretch. We always carve out time in a session to focus of flexibility, but it needs homework too.

Here’s an idea which might work for some of you. Stretching at your desk might incur the occasional ‘funny look’ but I promise you, say it’s helping your back pain and no boss will want to stop you from preventing a sick day through your own diligence.

A few ideas then:
•       Glute crossover – cross your legs but hug your knee to chest with a twist towards the knee.
•       Hamstring reach – use anything under the desk to prop your straight leg on and reach forward – with your back straight – to use your keyboard
•       Hip flexor sitting – similar to the glute stretch, with heel on knee but push the knee downwards to bring the leg parallel to the floor.

However, within reason this can all be done without drawing too much attention to yourself. First thing is, as I say to all my clients, find out what works for you: what I mean here is there are tons of stretches and variations of stretches out there, best bet is to choose 3 or 4 which work (I.e. hurt like hell) and stick to them – be consistent…once a day is better than 1 solid hour a week when/if you remember to.

If Yoga and Pilates aren’t your cup of tea, that’s fine, forget thoughts of spiritual connections here and remember the reasons for bothering to do this: to become a more supple, stronger and (most importantly) less injury prone human being.

 

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