Fitness Myth 3 – Crunches will give you a six pack

“I do 600 sit ups a day to get these abs”

“Crunches are the best way to get a killer 6 pack”

Common phrases in a gym, but i’m sorry to say unless your body fat percentage is low enough your abs will still be invisible no matter how many crunches you do.  Crunches, sit ups, rotations and so on are great exercises to strengthen your abs and improve posture, but in order to see your abs their is no substitute for a good diet and burning off those calories.  

I am not, however, only focussing on abs for this myth, it is spot targeting for fat reduction on any part of the body.

As a fitness professional one of the most common targets for clients is to lose fat around the stomach, get rid of the fat on the bum, tone up the arms and to try and lose some of the chins.  Due to years of legs, bum and tums classes couple with 6 minute ab and bingo wing banisher adverts in the media people don’t seem to be able to grasp the concept that –

You can’t choose where you put fat on so why should you be able to choose where it comes off?

Put simply the concept of reducing body fat is down to your body being in a calorie deficit, i.e. you have burned more than you have eaten.  For this reason no matter how many crunches, squats or triceps extension you perform, unless you are in a calorie deficit you will not lose fat and even if you are, it may not come off from where you want it to!!

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Fitness Myth 2 – 3 sets of 10 reps is the best for building muscle

As far as I can gather this idea of 3 sets of 10 goes back to the 40’s when it was published by Mr Thomas Delorme in the archives of physical medicine.  He found that 3 sets of 10 was as effective at building muscle as 10 sets of 10 (which we now refer to as GVT (German Volume Training)).  Since then, however there have been quite literally 1000’s of other articles claiming that there are other combinations of sets and reps that are more effective than 3 sets of 10, so why has it stuck for so long?  NOT A CLUE!!  I cannot find any plausible reason as to why this theory has been so etched into the psyche of people in the fitness industry, so I’m gonna give you my own reason.  People who train aren’t always the brightest (I’m including myself in that so don’t get offended) and with all the available blood rushing to the muscles being worked and away from the brain counting to more than 10 is sometimes a stretch.  As for the 3 sets it’s simple – 2 is really easy, and after 3 it starts to get boring so you need to move on.

Now I’ve told you that this is a myth what do I recommend?  Well that isn’t an easy questions to answer.  As a general and very basic rule of thumb you should be looking at 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps if you are looking to build size.  I say this is a basic rule but this depends on how many different exercises you are doing, are you super setting, have the smaller muscles been used doing the compound lifts and so on.  All I will say is mix it up a little bit.  Your body is inherently lazy!  If you always do the same number of reps it will find the easiest way of completing it, and your gains will quickly diminish.

 

More more info get in touch or check out www.cbconditioning.com

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Fitness Myths Busted – Myth 1 – If women lift weights they will get big and bulky

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If you have ever trained yourself, or I’m sorry to say been to see a personal trainer (because we aren’t immune to believing the myths) then you will have probably heard things like

  • this number of sets and reps is the perfect amount for building muscle
  • if you eat 15 chickens a day you will only put on lean muscle
  • ab exercsies are the best thing for getting a killer six pack

Where did these myths originate, however, and is there any truth in them??  I’ve done a bit of digging around and added a few little bits of my own knowledge to hopefully mythbust some of the better known training myths.  Over the next few days I will regularly be adding short articles hopefully either proving or disproving these myths.

Myth 1 – Women who lift weights will get big and bulky.

After speaking to women in the gym and during training there is a real hesitancy from them to lift weights, not even heavy weights, just weights in general.  The most popular reasons seem to be – I don’t want big muscular arms, or I don’t want my boobs to shrink.  I’m sorry ladies but these are both massively removed from the truth.  Women only look muscular when they are either a)on steroids or b) have a body fat percentage of about 4!

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As far as I can gather there is no real specific point when this myth originated. It is purely a matter of peoples perception of females who lift – bodybuilders who are usually both pumped full of steroids and have dangerously low bodyfat percentages.

The long and short of it is women have too much oestrogen in their system to allow muscle bulk.  In order for muscular size to build large amounts of testosterone need to be present, which women (unless on steroids) do not have.  You can take Jodie Marsh as a perfect example of this.  When she was on stage for her body building competition it seemed as though her muscles were enormous and bulging, yet after a few weeks of eating normally and getting back to a healthy body fat percentage you couldn’t even tell.  As for chest focussed weights making boobs shrink then I suppose in some ways it is true.  But only in as much as lifting burns calories, burns fat and as I’m sure you are aware boobs are fat.  What trainers need to be telling women is that chest weights will help to counteract the effects of gravity later in life!!

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To conclude lifting should be completed as part of any programme be you male, female, young or old.

 

More more info get in touch or check out www.cbconditioning.com

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Why does everyone hate leg day?

No matter who you are, or what you are training for there is one universal truth – EVERYONE HATES LEG DAY! But why?Image

Ouch

The easiest and possibly most obvious answer is that oh my good god it hurts!!  There is no pain quite like getting out of the car, or getting off the toilet for the couple of days following a leg session. The pain you feel after a leg session is known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS for short.  This is the term used to describe the pain felt after exercising, which if you have trained you will know tends to not be noticeable at first, but gets progressively more painful for the next 24-72 hours.  There is no real definitive answer as to why we get DOMS and what is the best way to avoid/alleviate them.  There are many proposed cures – massage, going for a run, protein shakes – which may slightly reduce the pain, however i’m afraid the best way to deal with DOMS is to man up and get on with it!  Anyway back to the matter at hand, leg DOMS.  Why are your legs always more sore than your upper body after a session?  Truth be told (and by truth I mean in my opinion) there is no real reason that legs should be more sore than any other part of the body after training, and in fact for some strange individuals this is not the case.  One thing you do have to remember, however, is that for the 72 hours after a big arm session do you walk everywhere on your hands?  If not give it a try and then tell me you don’t suffer from upper body DOMS.  In my humble opinion the main reason we believe our legs hurt more than anything else after training is that in everyday life we lunge, squat and step up on a very regular basis, the same exercises that caused the pain in the first place!!

Vanity

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This is an image you will never see in any gym!  Why? Well other than the fact he is only in his underwear he looks ridiculous (pretty sure it is photoshopped but you get my point).  The following pic, however, you will see in every gym across the world, just maybe with more clothes on.

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The reason for this is plain and simple, if you are not a professional athlete you train in order to make yourself look better – vanity.  There are those of you reading this that will say you are training for health reasons, which is a good and very valid reason to train, and not in order to look good.  I can guarantee, however, that as you start to loose body fat you will look at yourself in a mirror and think to yourself “Damn I look good” or “just a few more kg’s and I can fit into that sexy red dress again”.  If you ask a man who is lifting weights what his aims are it will 99.9999999% of the time be to ‘bulk up’ and to better fill a t-shirt, and this is due to the publics perception of someone who is ‘built’.  If you see someone on a night out with what can only be described as a spray on t-shirt with bulging shoulders and biceps, peoples first thoughts are along the lines of – he’s a bit of a unit – or – he definitely lifts.  Whereas if someone with Chris Hoy sized legs has crammed them into some similarly tight jeans and cannot bend over through fear of tearing is ridiculed for looking ridiculous.  Exactly the same scenarios when looked at objectively, totally different in reality.

Peer Pressure

In order to do a leg session, everyone has to want to do it! If anyone shows even the slightest doubt about squatting, it is not happening.  Anyone who has a training partner, or trains in a group will be well aware of this phenomenon.  It pretty much follows the well known phrase ‘all or nothing’, either you all want to do it, or you aren’t doing it.  As we have already discussed, however, no one likes doing a leg session, so the chances of finding more than one person on any one specific day who want to train legs is about as likely as West Brom winning the prem (nothing against West Brom specifically but you can see where I am going with this).

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To conclude you shouldn’t neglect training your legs.  Your legs are massive muscle groups in need of some serious training.  Even if, and we know you do, you hate training legs the benefits far outweigh the pain.  The core activation during exercises such as a squat and a lunge is massive, and in many cases far outweighs the activation during core specific exercises.  Numerous studies have shown that training legs actually causes the body to release more human growth hormone (HGH) than upper body sessions, leading to bigger increases in strength and size.  And finally if you are after burning more calories nothing kickstarts your metabolism quite like a leg session!

So, the long and short of it is we know you don’t want to train your legs, I don’t want to train my legs, no one wants to train their legs but we have to suck it up, get on with it, and avoid visiting the toilet for a couple of days after!!

 

More more info get in touch or check out www.cbconditioning.com

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Carbohydrate Supplementation – A Brief History

At the beginning of each year the pavements suddenly become much busier, with people of all ages and abilities pounding the streets in preparation for the many running, duathlon and triathlon events over the next few months.  A common sight amongst these runners is a bottle of lucozade, gatorade, powerade or other carbohydrate drinks, as recommended by trainers and nutritionists worldwide.

But when was it discovered that carbohydrate consumption and supplementation led to an increase in performance?

The first study to suggest performance could be increased due to carbohydrate intake was conducted by a group of American researchers between 1923 and 1924.  They began by measuring the blood glucose levels of runners after they had completed the Boston marathon in 1923.  It was shown that the glucose concentrations were markedly lower, and from this it was hypothesised that low blood glucose levels are a cause of fatigue.

The following year several participants for the Boston marathon were asked to consume carbohydrates during the race.  Obviously this was before lucozade and energy gels were invented, so the runners were asked to eat candy whilst running.  They were also asked to eat a high carbohydrate diet in the lead up to the race.  All the runners improved their times from the previous year and had a much higher blood glucose level.

In the 1930’s another study was conducted into the use of carbohydrates to improve endurance performance, however, this study used dogs rather than people.  Two dogs were made to run without being fed any carbohydrates.  It was noted that the dogs became hypoglycemic (low blood glucose) and fatigued after 4-6 hours.  The test was then repeated but the dogs were fed carbohydrates during the exercise and the dogs ran for between 17 and 23 hours.

Although neither of these studies would be seen as being scientifically relevant now, they were two of the first to look into dietary supplementation to increase performance.  Hundreds of studies are conducted every year with millions being spent to ensure athletes of all abilities can perform at their peak, however, the significance of these early studies cannot be overlooked.

 

More more info get in touch or check out www.cbconditioning.com

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Altitude Training – Is it worth a try?

Benefits of Altitude Exposure

Exposure to high altitude, or reduced levels of oxygen can lead to massive improvements in an athletes capacity to exercise.  During periods of reduced oxygen breathing the body is forced to acclimatise to the oxygen available at the time.  This acclimatisation leads to the delivery of oxygen to the muscles to be improved.  As during exercise the muscles require oxygen to function, this increase in delivery leads to an increase in performance.

Whilst breathing reduced levels of oxygen the body naturally produces a hormone called erythropoetin (EPO), which stimulates the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the muscles. This increase in red blood cells allows more oxygen to be carried in the blood, allowing more to be delivered to the muscles when required.  During acclimatisation there are also a number of other physiological changes which occur and have a positive affect on performance – an increase in the number of small blood vessels, an increase in buffering capacity (ability to manage the build up of waste acid) and changes in the microscopic structure and function of the muscles themselves.

Different methods of altitude training have been categorised into three specific formats

Live High – Train High

Maximum exposure to altitude. Evidence of a positive effect at sea level is controversial, and there is less support for this method amongst experts.

Live Low – Train High

The idea behind this regime is that the athlete is exercising in a low oxygen environment, whilst resting in a normal oxygen environment. There have been some interesting findings suggesting that this technique might work, but there are no good studies showing that the technique makes any difference to the ultimate competitive performance of the athlete at sea-level. Additionally, training intensity is reduced so some athletes may find that they actually lose fitness using this regime.

Live High – Train Low

The theory behind this regime is that the body will acclimatise to altitude by living there, whilst training intensity can be maintained by training at (or near) sea level. Hence, the beneficial effects of altitude exposure are harnessed whilst some of the negative ones are avoided. With this technique, improvements in sea-level performance have been shown in athletes of all abilities.

The system available to use at Core Conditioning mimics living at altitude, whilst still allowing you to train at sea level.

As well as the aforementioned training benefits, altitude training/oxygen therapy has been shown to have numerous other health benefits, including –

  • improved sleep
  • improvements with breathing
  • decrease in symptoms of asthma, arthritis, depression and diabetes
  • improved complexion
  • increased weight-loss

To conclude the research points to the live high train low method being of most benefits to athletes of all abilities.  These benefits, however, are not limited to athletes as the general population will also see massive improvements to their own health and wellbeing.

 

More more info get in touch or check out www.cbconditioning.com

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