Metabolic Resistance Training? What? Why? Where? When?

 

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Whether you want to gain lean mass, trim the body fat, improve sports performance or take a step closer to achieving the toned lean physique you’ve been working towards, resistance training is a must.

And I WOULD LIKE TO OFFER SOME ADVICE to ensure you get the most from your visits to the gym, or more specifically, the weights room…

So, you’ve just finished your first set of pull downs or back squats (or whichever exercise you’re working on). What now? Do you sit on the bench, pull your phone out and catch up on the day’s social media? Do you text your pal to arrange that long overdue trip to the cinema?

Or do you UTILISE YOUR TIME MORE PRODUCTIVELY AND GET THE MOST FROM YOUR TRIP TO THE GYM?

Let’s assume you chose the latter

So, you want to maximise the efficiency of your workouts, do you?

What I’m about to tell you will not only increase your gains (or losses), it will also cut your workout time down considerably. I often tell my clients the longest workout is not necessarily the best workout; ‘QUALITY OVER QUANTITY’.

THE ANSWER lies in what IS known as METABOLIC RESISTANCE TRAINING (MRT). MRT, in a nutshell, is a series of exercises performed back to back at high intensity with minimal or no rest between each exercise. MRT is somewhat of an ‘umbrella term’ covering a range of disciplines such as supersets, drop sets and resistance circuit training.

 

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MRT tends to be performed using ‘compound exercises’. Compound exercises are multi-joint exercises that challenge several muscle groups at a time. Examples include squats, deadlifts, lunges, pull downs and chest presses.

The aim of an MRT session is to deplete the body of its natural resources and increase ‘post exercise oxygen consumption’ (EPOC) aka the after-burn effect. This basically means, you make your body work harder so it expends more energy returning to normal. The harder your body works to return to homoeostasis (a state of balance), the more calories it burns and the more fat it continues to melt for hours, even days, after an MRT workout.

The beauty of MRT, other than its simplicity, is it successfully BREAKS DOWN TRADITIONAL BARRIERS BETWEEN CARDIOVASCULAR TRAINING AND WEIGHT TRAINING by increasing muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance.

In addition to this, regularly performing MRT increases production of human growth hormone (HGH); an anti-ageing hormone. Increased production of HGH slows down the ageing the process.

 

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The number of exercises and circuits you perform during an MRT workout ultimately depends on your training goals and fitness level. However, I recommend starting with as little as 2-3 rounds of 3-4 exercises, building up to 4 intense rounds of 8 exercises. Progression can be achieved not just by adding exercises and circuits, but also by increasing weights and attempting more challenging exercises. For the number of repetitions, see my blog post ‘Ideal rep Range’.

Although the goal is to leave the gym exhausted, PERFORMING ALL EXERCISES WITH SAFE AND EFFECTIVE TECHNIQUE IS PARAMOUNT. So, remember folks, work on technique first and build the intensity sensibly. If you are new to resistance training, seek the advice and instruction of a professional with lifting experience.

Give it a try. You will be reaping the benefits in no time!

Benefits of MRT summarised

  • Aerobic AND anaerobic adaptations
  • A Greater calorie deficit achieved than traditional weight training or cardiovascular training
  • Cuts workout time down considerably
  • Fast track method of altering body composition (muscle to fat ratio)
  • Increased production of (HGH) – an anti-ageing hormone
  • Adds variation and fun to gym sessions
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The Benefits of Resistance Training

In some cases, and with certain medical conditions, a resistance training programme may not be advisable. If you are in any doubt about your suitability to partake in a resistance training programme, always first consult your G.P.

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We most commonly associate resistance training with free weights and fixed resistance machines. However, strength can be increased in several ways using suspension, body weight, kettlebells and medicine balls to name a few. As long as the exercise challenges you, strength gains will occur.

 “Gone are the days when people thought weight training was just for body builders and power lifters – gone are the days of doing long, slow, boring cardio for fat loss!”

 

  1. Fat loss – Unlike steady state cardiovascular training, you will continue burning calories for 24-48 hours after a strength training session. This is due to the production of ‘post exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC)’ aka ‘the after burn effect’. Get lifting and get lean!
  1. Improved sports performance & injury prevention – Resistance training increases muscular strength and endurance and strengthens connective tissues (tendons and ligaments) providing extra protection from the stresses of everyday life

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  1. Increased bone density – As a result of resistance training, the skeletal system adapts to additional forces by producing extra minerals and proteins. The extra mineral and protein production decreases the likelihood of several bone disorders, such as osteoporosis, in later life
  1. Increased energy levels regular strength training increases energy output when performing everyday tasks making it easier to cope with the unpredictability of daily life. This is known as transferable or ‘functional training’
  1. Improved posture – A safe and effective weight training programme will improve posture and promote balance in the muscular skeletal system, thus alleviating a number of everyday aches, pains and soft tissue complaints

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Alan

(November 2016)

Ideal Rep Range

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ONE OF THE MOST COMMON QUESTIONS I AM ASKED…

when teaching resistance exercises, be it body weight or free weights, is ‘how many reps should I do?’ Repetition or rep refers to the number of times you repeat a movement when performing a specific exercise.

A very good question! And my answer largely depends on several factors…

First, the number of repetitions and sets you perform ultimately depends on your training goals. For example, are you undertaking a resistance training programme to increase muscle mass? To correct muscular imbalances? To improve sports performance? Or is your primary goal weight loss (that’s right I just suggested that a weight training programme could be undertaken to promote weight loss – didn’t expect that did you!)

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Second, once you have established your reasons for undertaking a resistance training programme, it can be useful to establish your ‘one-rep max’ on one, or several, exercises. The one-rep max is basically the maximum amount of weight you can lift correctly for one full repetition – as the description suggests.

There is a number pros and cons when it comes to using the one-rep max method, which I will talk more about in a future post. But for now, let’s assume you have safely and accurately established your one-rep max with the assistance of a trained professional.

The table below shows the ideal number of repetitions for different muscular adaptations to occur:

Fitness Goal % of one rep max  Number of repetitions Resistance
Strength/power 85 -95% 2 – 4 very heavy load
Strength 75 – 85% 4 – 8 heavy load
Strength + endurance 60 – 75% 8 – 12 Moderate/heavy load
Endurance 40 – 60% 15  & above moderate load

Third, and most important of all, RESISTANCE TRAINING AND MUSCLE BUILDING ARE NOT THE SAME THING. Body building or hypertrophy training is a separate discipline centred mainly on nutritional habits. STRENGTH TRAINING WILL NOT STIMULATE LARGE AMOUNTS OF MUSCLE MASS (don’t just take my word for it, any credible source will validate this point).

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Avoiding resistance training because you are afraid of developing large muscles is like avoiding learning to drive because you are afraid of becoming a formula 1 driver.

To tone muscle tissue, ‘fast twitch’ muscle fibres must be placed under regular tension. Fast twitch fibres are anaerobic in origin and require moderate to heavy resistance to be stimulated into action. By establishing your ideal rep range and applying the principle of progressive overload (increasing the demands on the musculoskeletal system by challenging the body to do more over time), adaptations will occur (assuming your nutrition is in place of course).

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The American College of Sports Medicine recommend a minimum of 2 strength training sessions per week. Whether the resistance is from weight training (external) or body weight training (internal) is entirely up to you.

If your goal is to achieve a toned lean physique, cardio alone is NOT going to cut it. Swap the cross trainer for the squat rack and the results will speak for themselves!

Get lifting and get lean!

Want to know more about this and related topics? Subscribe to this blog and receive my next post ‘The Benefits of Resistance Training’ directly to your inbox.

Alan

June 2016

The Benefits of Exercising on Sand

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I am frequently asked why I chose the beach as the setting for my Boot Camp sessions. There is a number of benefits of exercising on sand, which I have outlined below:

  1. Increased energy output: due to its nature, greater effort is required to move on sand than on a fixed surface. A 1998 Belgian study concluded that it takes up to 2.7 times more effort to walk and up to 1.6 times more effort to run on dry sand. The extra exertion required ultimately results in an increase in heart rate and a greater energy output. Put in simple terms – you burn more calories!
  2. A greater lower body workout: when you walk, or run on sand, your feet sink in to it. This triggers what is known as the ‘stretch reflex’ and engages all the major muscles in the lower body (calves, hamstrings, quadriceps and glutes)
  3. Improved balance and coordination: the instability of sand and the fact that it moves under your feet requires you to engage your deeper layer of core muscles. Core stability is like the foundations of a house – the greater the foundations, the stronger the fortress!
  4. Less stress on joints and connective tissues: sand absorbs more impact that hard surfaces resulting in a reduction of stress on joints, ligaments and tendons
  5. A greater release of endorphins: endorphins are chemicals released by the brain and nervous system which bring about a feeling of euphoria. Ever heard someone describe the ‘natural high’ they experience after exercise? Or perhaps you have felt it yourself? Combine this feeling with training in the fresh air on a beautiful beach and you have the ultimate health and wellbeing experience!

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And if that is not enough, some jaw dropping scenery, a friendly welcoming group and a meditation exercise at the end of class provides a very holistic experience…

“Compared with exercising indoors, exercising in natural environments is associated with greater feelings of revitalization, increased energy and positive engagement, along with decreases in tension, confusion, anger and depression” (healthandfitnessmag.com)

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Alan

March 2016

Healthy Weight Loss

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HOW FAST SHOULD YOU LOSE WEIGHT?

I’ve seen a lot of posts on social media recently from people who have lost excessive amounts of weight in a short space of time. The first thing I’d say is it’s great to see people taking such positive steps…

However, what could be considered a healthy rate of weight loss?

If you endorse slimming tablets, fad or crash diets, if you are only concerned with the reading on your bathroom scales or if you only care about how you look at the expense of your inner health…now is the time to stop reading and continue doing whatever you’ve been doing to your body.

If, however, you would like to put less strain on your body, avoid starving yourself for long periods and lose weight at a safe rate, then I would like to offer some valuable advice.

First, let’s look at what is considered a ‘healthy weight loss’. It is accepted by WHO & NHS that 1-2 lbs fat loss per week is optimum.

To lose 1lb of body fat a deficit of 3500 kcal is required.

This means you require a weekly deficit of 3500 – 7000 kcal to achieve the above target.

 

IT’S REALLY THAT SIMPLE!!

This deficit should be created in 2 ways: (1) by decreasing the number of calories you eat each day and (2) by increasing your daily physical activity.

Let’s say your maintenance calories is 2000 per day. By dropping to 1600 kcal and burning 300 kcal through physical exertion, you create a daily deficit of 700 kcal.

Multiply 700 by 7 and your weekly deficit is 4900 kcal and you will lose 1-2 lbs in a week without starving yourself or putting your brain, heart and kidneys under excessive strain.

 

WHY DO IT THIS WAY??

 Good question! In addition to those mentioned above, here is some further reasons…

  1. If you crash diet and negate the exercise part of the equation, your resting metabolic rate (the rate at which you burn calories at rest) will remain unaltered and as soon as you stop ‘dieting’, the weight will come right back on. Exercise will increase your resting metabolic rate.
  1. By creating the calorie deficit through physical exercise AND dropping your calories slightly, you will lose fat – NOT lean tissue. Too large a calorie deficit will give positive readings on the scales. However, the weight loss will come in the form of lean muscle tissue which greatly increases the risk of several diseases and health disorders. This is called ‘starvation mode’ – when the body starts feeding off its own lean tissue whilst conserving its fat stores.

 

CONCLUSION

If your goal is to lose weight, crash dieting and avoiding exercise will produce short term results. Long term, your body composition (lean tissue to fat ratio) will swing greatly in favour of fat and could lead to some serious health problems.

Be smart people. Whatever your goal, keep it simple and seek advice from someone who knows what they are talking about.

 

Hope this helps

Alan

February 2016

The Benefits of HIIT

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WHAT IS HIGH INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING?

High intensity interval training, or HIIT, is a form of interval training where you alternate between periods of maximal effort and periods of recovery or low intensity exercise. HIIT is usually performed on cardio vascular machines or by using your own body weight. The aim of a HIIT session is to elevate your heart rate high enough to cross your ‘anaerobic threshold’, before allowing it to slow back down during the recovery periods…you then hit the repeat button and do it all over again!

HIIT workouts tend to last anything from 4 – 30 minutes and there is no ‘set in stone’ time frame for the intervals themselves. However, it is unlikely you will be able to maintain the ‘all-out effort’ maximal intervals longer than 40 seconds. An example of a HIIT workout would be 40 seconds of burpees (high intensity) followed by 40 seconds’ rest (recovery), repeated 10 times.                                                                                                               

SOUNDS SCARY, DOESN’T IT??!

It’s really not! The beauty of HIIT is there is no ‘one size fits all’. IT’S ALL RELATIVE TO YOU. What is high intensity for one person might not necessarily be high intensity for someone else. For example, high intensity for a de-conditioned client who is new to exercise may be walking or jogging on a treadmill for 20 seconds with a recovery period of 40 seconds (ratio of 1:2). Whereas a conditioned client who is a regular exerciser may need to crank it up a bit to get the desired effect e.g. 40 second sprint on a steep incline followed by 20 seconds jogging (2:1). AS LONG AS THE INTENSITY CHALLENGES YOU, THE DESIRED EFFECT WILL BE ACHIEVED.

SO, WHAT’S SO GREAT ABOUT HIIT??

In addition to several cardiovascular adaptations, science has shown HIIT is one of the most effective disciplines for burning fat, but not at the expense of lean tissue. Unlike steady state cardio which only burns calories during the workout, HIIT KEEPS YOUR METABOLISM ELEVATED UP TO 48 HOURS AFTER YOUR WORKOUT. The result, YOU BURN EVEN MORE CALORIES AND FAT!!

“One study of the effects of HIIT showed that subjects’ metabolic rates were elevated 21% after 24 hours and 19% after 48 hours after an intense HIIT session”  – Bret Contreras

EVEN MORE GOOD NEWS…

I often tell my clients less is more. And this could not apply more when it comes to HIIT. After a HIIT workout, IT IS IMPERATIVE YOU ALLOW 24 – 48 HOURS RECOVERY TIME. Trying to cram a couple of HIIT workouts in on the same day is counter-productive and could lead to injury as a result of over-training. Combined with the right calorie intake and ratio of macro nutrients (protein, carbohydrate and fat), just 3-4 HIIT workouts per week will melt the body fat in no time at all.

…AND REMEMBER

High intensity training is not for everyone. If you have a heart condition or medical condition and are unsure if it is safe to perform HIIT, always seek your GP’s opinion first. And ALWAYS CARRY OUT A WARM UP specific to the type of workout you are about to undertake.

Alan

January 2016