Sunday, August 4, 2013

Random Sunday Ramblings (All Things Fitness)

Here are some random ramblings about a host of health and fitness related topics. Some could be an entire article in themselves, some just save me ranting on twitter or facebook.

In no particular order:

Pilates/ Yoga/ Corrective Exercise.

  • Pilates isn't magic regardless of what your Physio/ Chiro/ Osteo/ GP tells you. Many of the people recommending it have never actually done a class themselves, so have no idea why they are suggesting you do it. How about these health professionals learn some corrective exercise and start prescribing it properly. If you enjoy Pilates and like the idea of doing it, then do it. Same goes for yoga.
  • The people who need to go to a yoga class are in the free-weights area, and the people who need to lift weights are in the yoga class.
  • Stroke rehabilitation in this country sucks.
  • I bet Joseph Pilates wished he copyrighted the name and franchised it (except, of course, he didn't know what the future would hold and now he's gone to the big studio in the sky).
  • A large number of people starting in a gym will tell you they have an injury or previous injury. This is the norm. The injury free person is not the norm. So why don't they cover this on level 3 fitness courses. These aren't the special population, they are the population. The special population is that small group of people who have made it through life injury free with no mobility restrictions.
  • Personal trainers and coaches started doing corrective exercise and ended up doing de facto rehabilitation because the physio services in this country have been a miserable failure.
  • If I referred out every time I was meant to, the gym and Pilates class would be empty.

Strength Training. Gym Culture.
  • Olympic weightlifting is a sport. Unless you are actually competing in the sport don't be so precious about whether triple extension exists, or whether the Chinese are using the catapult method, or if variations of the lifts have any benefit. If your goal is to be more athletic, explosive, strong and improve body composition then there is benefit to dumbbell variations, as well as sandbags, complexes and so forth. Olympic lifting is not compulsory for all athletes.
  • Having said that some coaches seem to fear the Olympic lifts because they are 'so hard to coach' and they 'only have their athletes for a limited time' and they could spend their time on 'less technical more effective things.' If you have a healthy person with no restrictions then in my opinion they are no more difficult to coach than barbell squats or deadlifts. And dumbbell and sandbag variations can be taught even quicker than some of the standard  'slow' barbell lifts.
  • Powerlifting is also a sport. Again squats, deadlifts and bench press can all be beneficial depending on the persons goals. But unless they are competing in a meet where gear is allowed and chemical enhancement is common place then following the program of the elite lifter may not be all you think is going to be.
  • Strongman - see above.
  • Ask most guys what they are doing in the gym today and they will say 'chest' or 'shoulders' or 'back & bi's'. Meaning most guys training in the gym still think in terms of body part splits and bodybuilding training. Rarely is anyone ever going to say 'deadlift strength' 'dynamic effort day' 'explosive power' or 'superficial back line fascia'. If you think things have moved on and functional training and strength training are now king, go and ask this question on a Monday evening in any standard gym and count how many people say 'Chest'.
  • Most people working out do not compete in anything. Training is their hobby. They may be dedicated, train 7 days a week and obsess about their macro ratios but the only stage they are stepping on is at the local club on a Saturday night after drinking 10 tequila slammers. Yes, all they want to do is look good in a t-shirt or dress and attract the opposite sex or same sex - and I don't have a problem with that.

Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED).
  • Most guys taking performance enhancing drugs don't compete in anything. A surprising number of guys (still a minority but sizeable) take test, growth hormone, clenbuterol and all sorts of other shit like tamoxifen just because they are so insecure and want to look bigger at said nightclub. They are either lazy, want results too quickly, stupid, and just maybe our society is now creating a physique ideal that many men find hard to achieve. Most of these guys look fat and bloated and should ask for their money back. Also don't forget these guys don't have a whole medical team backing them up like Lance Armstrong did, its just them in their bedroom with a needle, a sore arse and their friends assurance that this stuff is the 'good shit'. When it all goes pear shaped, our healthcare system will be picking up the pieces.
  • You don't hear much about amateur endurance athletes taking PEDs, but I'm sure it must happen in the likes of ironman triathlon and even some marathons. It happens at the elite level, so why not amateurs? I can't see why male endurance athletes would be any less insecure than male weight trainers. Maybe EPO is too expensive, I don't know.

Fitness Industry.
  • There is no equipment solution to the fitness industry problem of lack of participation. 
  • The revolution that makes more people take part in fitness and join gyms won't be about a piece of equipment or a particular class or a cheap price or opening hours. It will be about motivation. The person who figures out how to tap into peoples intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and their desires and emotions will be the person who transforms the industry and improve its current abysmal market penetration.
  • Recently a sales and marketing manager asked me if 'functional fitness' is a fad. Well firstly, in my world dumbbells and barbells are functional, standing on a powerplate waving a vipr is not. Seeing as humans have been lifting weighted objects for a couple of thousand years, have been trail running ever since we were upright hominids and lifting dumbbells and weighted wands/ barbells for the last two hundred years - I would say none of these are fads. However, maybe treadmills, bikes and crosstrainers are. Most of us in the industry now started in the last 10 to 20 years, which means we came into an industry built on a model of rows of cardio equipment in health clubs, but this is a relatively recent phenomenon. This is the fad, but because its been here since we started working, it seems like the norm. In 20 or 30 years will people be laughing at us because we walked indoors on treadmills while playing sudoku on a screen bolted to the front of the machine.

  • In 2009 the second most profitable fitness operation was BeachBody who own P90X. They grossed over $900 million (source: FitPro Business magazine apr/may/june 2013). Still think you need a big room full of equipment? And P90X makes Crossfit look like they are following classic Russian linear perdiodization.
  • Only 39% of consumers exercise regularly (HAFOS survey 2012) despite the fact that walking and body weight exercises are free. Access to facilities is not the issue. The average person in the UK watches 4 hours of TV per day (Ofcom, 2011) therefore people are not time poor, they have enough time to exercise if they wanted to.
  • Fitness trainers are arguing about the details when most of the population aren't doing anything.
  • Why is there a kettlebell community? I don't see a medicine ball community or cable machine community? People don't get so zealous about other bits of equipment except possibly...
  • Barbells, there is always a false dichotomy set up online. You either only use barbells or machines. You either squat or you don't. You have to use bilateral movements or unilateral. In reality it always depends. If you train people all day, you make decisions based on the person in front of you and the equipment you have available. If you don't train people all day you have time to read Supertraining with a magnifying glass and post on forums all day. Its simple: Use the tools you have, and if you have multiple tools use the most appropriate one.
  • Speaking to male friends of mine who go to the gym but are not obsessed with fitness and aren't in the industry - they like machine weights because they are convenient, they can do a quick circuit and they are easy set to set up. When I asked why they don't use the freeweights they gave all the same reasons that most women do - intimidated, too crowded, set up time and mainly the area is normally full of douches doing 50 sets on the bench with their mates while talking shit.
  • You think people care about research or things have moved on - go and see how many people are still doing crunches in the gym.
  • People opt out of inductions/ orientations because their previous experience tells them its going to be shit and not address their needs. You can change this by offering a quality product.
  • Probably no one is going to take us seriously when the entry level to the industry is set so low. A weekend course and you can be the fitness expert in the park #beasting people #smashingit #hardcorefitness  #lawsuit  #chump.

  • Running 100 miles is not logical in any way, so why do I want to do it?
  • I've seen just as many injured from weight training as from long distance running. Despite this, there is a trend among strength coaches to say that if you run long distances you will end up skinny fat and injured. Which is like saying if you powerlift you will end up fat with a pec tear. Most runners get lower body injuries, most weight lifters upper body. Both have lower back injuries. It could be runners are more likely to report injury or go to a physio - but I'm guessing. Or weight training injuries such as elbow surgeries etc just are written down as being caused by training.
  • People say standing on stage in a pair trunks painted brown posing is ridiculous. But 22 men on a pitch kicking a bag of air around isn't - and they are millionaires. I don't do either, but if its your passion and you enjoy it - don't listen to anyone else. This applies to all sports.
  • All runners need to do some form of resistance training.
  • Most runners are weak and have appalling movement screens - this doesn't mean they are bad runners.
  • You can be overweight and run. And if you enjoy it and your joints don't hurt then carry on. But don't think it will help you lose weight. That stick thin female and male runner who just went past you - they probably always looked like that.
  • Since I started running properly again a few years ago and started to midfoot strike more my calves have got progressively tighter. But if I stretch them will it make me a better runner or worse runner or less injury prone? Or would it make me just feel better because I was doing some flexibility work that really had no benefit?
  • Barefoot running is not magic, but I quite like doing it.

Women in the gym.
  • Why do so many women want to look like the bag of bones models in fashion magazines, why do they think men want them to look like that? It makes me sad.
  • A good proportion of figure and fitness competitors had a back ground in gymnastics and athletics as kids. Essentially they were doing gymnastic training for 20 years and then decided to lift some weights.  If you don't have that background don't beat yourself up, its going to take more than a year to get to where they are. Without taking anything away from the figure pros with that background - I'm more impressed with the people who have lost 20kg and have been working hard for 10 years than the people who are genetically gifted with a 6 pack.
  • Crossfit isn't evil. How many women did you see doing pull ups and Olympic lifting before crossfit?And crossfitters aren't the only people doing random workouts, go to any gym or any day and see what random stuff people are doing and what random stuff personal trainers are giving people. Crossfit didn't invent the random illogical workout. And once again, see above, what are you actually training for. Plus a fair amount of hot women do crossfit.
  • Do women really need to train differently from men? They need to train differently to men if they have different goals for sure.

  • Why are they still teaching the standard food pyramid/eat well food plate on level 3 fitness courses. Where is the evidence to support it?
Official UK NHS FSA Eat Well  Plate. Foods high in fat and sugar get the same segment. Turns out coconut oil and olive oil are in the same category as high fructose corn syrup and skittles

  • Intermittent fasting, low carb, paleo, carb cycling, carb back loading, vegan, vegetarian, biorhythm diet have all worked for someone at some point. It doesn't mean they will necessarily work for you. Someone do some research please.
  • If you can find any evidence to support the hypothesis that a  low fat diet is better than a low carb diet for weight loss, you can submit it here and win a cash prize!
  • Always check the research references people quote to support their argument. You may be surprised to find they aren't always quoting the best research and sometimes it actually says the opposite of what they are saying (thanks to Nick Heasman for this one and being research vigilant!)
  • I don't like bulletproof coffee.
  • I used to fear the avocado. But seasoning is the key.

  • What works for you may not necessarily work for your clients.
  • Don't be the guy who trains his girlfriend by giving her exactly the same workout you do. She probably doesn't want a day dedicated to biceps and forearms.
  • Coaching is a mix of art and science. Much like practicing medicine, except we don't kill as many people with adverse drug reactions.
  • Most American strength coaches are biased towards American Football, Basketball, Baseball and Ice Hockey because that's who they coach. Their information may not necessarily apply to the athletes you are coaching. This doesn't mean you can't take something from what they do, you probably can't adopt it wholesale though.
  • A few years ago tempo training was all the rage, popularised by Ian King and Poliquin (before he jumped the shark and starting injecting vitamin C to boost testosterone, taking skin fold measurements of peoples chins and packing on 10 pounds of muscle by eating Guatemalan mangoes). I generally ignored tempo until I read Triphasic training. Now, I have used eccentric, isometric and concentric phases with people looking to gain strength, bodybuilders, sports players and figure athletes. I will write a separate article at some point showing how you can simply apply it to various training programmes.
  • The best coaches were not the best sportsmen. As far as I am aware John Wooden wasn't a superstar basket player, Dave Brailsford never won the Tour De France (yeah, I know he is not technically a coach), Tony Minichiello wasn't a Decathlon world champion and one of the greatest running coaches of all time - Brother Colm O'Connell - arrived in Kenya as an Irish missionary with no experience of coaching professional runners. The most talented and successful athletes can't always tell you how they did it or coach others.
  • This stuff should be fun, don't take it too seriously.

Breaking Bad.

  • The second half of the final season starts on Netflix next week. Huzzah!
Hank Schrader

Tortuga: “Hey white boy, my name’s Tortuga. You know what that means?”
Hank: “If I have to guess, I’d say that’s Spanish for asshole.”