How To Get The Results You Want: Part 2

What happens once you start?

Starting is the hardest part of the process but what is happening to your body in this time?

This is one of the most common questions we get asked about our free trial. Usually we will ask you “What’s your why?”

It’s not always a case from going from A to B though- it’s often a case of getting as far away from A as you can. I

In the first two weeks we listen to what you want to do and will help get you started on your exercise programme and we look to highlight what you need to do to hit your targets.

We give you a free two weeks, so you can see what times and days are going to suit you the best. We believe that fitness should be personalized to you so from the get go we start looking at how you move and where you are strong so that we can pick the right exercises performed in the right way for you.

Adherence and finding routine is your first target– this is an example of a process driven goal. Setting yourself a session target for the month will help you build routine and be successful in the long run.

Understanding your starting position to get a baseline of where you are fitness wise and nutritionally by completing a food diary is your second target. From here it’s down to us to worry about your training and it’s up to you to worry about maintaining positive habits like session attendance.

What will you achieve in the first 2 weeks?

You are probably going to ache in muscles that you haven’t felt for a long time….

We can’t disguise that fact. You are going to start to pick up the exercises that we will be coaching you and start to become confident that these exercises are being done properly.

You are going to perform exercise sessions that have exactly the right exercises for you and you will get more in to an hour than you would training on your own. In the first 14 days you are going to perform between 4-8 training sessions that will be the start that you are looking for.

When it comes to the results….

Well, results can vary on your fitness levels and starting position as well as other factors. If you come in with an open mind hopefully we will see you a little bit stronger and a little bit leaner and from here you are in a great position to achieve fantastic results. We have members who have lost 6 stone in weight and members who have dropped a stone in body fat in 4 weeks.We have clients who have been recognised internationally in their sports and we have clients whose main focus is to keep to their 3 sessions a week maintaining their fitness levels. Your goal is yours alone but we are there to help guide you.

What’s a normal result? That depends on you. Any training programme can be flexible in nature. Some people may train 2 times a week some people 6. Some people eat in a calorie surplus, some don’t. Understanding where you are, what you are doing and how you are going to progress is key.

But why a personal approach? There is not a one size fits all result as our programmes are customised to your needs. A cookie cutter programme is general and not personal and this is where we differ as we can tweak our approach to serve your needs making our service smarter and more reactive to what you want to achieve and when you want to achieve it by.

How to Lose Weight Off Your Thighs.

As part of trying to write occasionally I have thrown the content out to Results FAST gym and personal training members this week to answer their questions:

The first question to come back is “How do I lose weight on my thighs.” I’ll explain the “why it’s there” before the “this is what to do.”

In general, this question most of the time is only asked by women. Why? Well females have different fat deposition patterns to men. Simply women store fat preferentially on their chest and thighs while men generally are more predisposed to storing body fat on their belly. These is thought to be hormonal in nature though there are also some slight subtle differences in sites called adrenoreceptors which are found around their hips and deal specifically with fat mobilization. We are all slightly different from person to person and this is also seen in our fat deposition patterns.

The issue with the adrenoreceptor balance highlights that people may preferentially store fat in a certain area. It also means that it becomes hard for fat to be burnt in the lower body- primarily because the catecholamines (which adrenaline is the one most people will recognize) can’t act on the specific cells they need to and rivalling adrenoreceptors also play a role in decreasing blood flow meaning if this balance is one way rather than the other you will have a preference to store body fat in this area and it will be harder to mobilize fat from this area due to lower blood flow. Which pretty much sucks if you are one of these people…. But what do you do and how do you preferentially burn fat from the thighs though?

While you can cannot directly target an area for fat burning you can work the muscles in that area to build muscle and lean tissue which has a greater effect on elevating your metabolism and turning over more calories at rest. This doesn’t necessarily lose weight of our thighs but will help tone that area. Typically, if you are a beginner body weight exercise could work but resistance training may provide a better variation of training load and stimulus to help you progress quicker.

Reducing your calorie intake to a level where you are in deficit will mean that fat will be more likely to be mobilized though these areas tend to be stubborn and take time to reduce in size. There are no magic foods or plans which apologize whole heartedly for.

Activity as a whole will help. Low levels of activity will increase calorific burn, and this is a good thing. That said it can take a long time if you are primarily using low level intensity exercise for your weight loss (it’s effective but patience is a must).

Modifying your training programme may also be effective. Interval training or training at a higher intensity is a useful strategy and could be considered the most adrenaline stimulating activity. It’s not the complete answer but may help if you incorporate it as part of your programme. Organized weight training may have the same effect as interval training if programmed properly. Low level activity such as walking can be really useful if you have a low threshold for exercise and poor fitness levels but it can be incorporated in to your programme at any point.

There is no magic bullet but in turn knowing what hand you are holding is always important before you play cards. It therefore makes sense that you utilize the right type of programme if shifting lower body fat is your target.

Is the hex/ trap bar better for developing athletes?

The title of this article in itself is a little bit contentious as in most cases the answer will always depend upon the situation.

That said understanding where and when to use the trap/ hex bar should be a priority of most forward thinking coaches looking for best practice. The trap bar in itself is often favoured as the loading and hand position makes it pretty easy for those new to the weight training arena to adapt and adopt without finding that technique may be compromised.

Straight bar deadlifting form can often be compromised by poor hip and lower limb mobility as well as weak spinal erectors meaning it is harder to get into the right positions to develop the movement in a safe and effective way.

A recent study by Camara et al. (2016) used individuals who could deadlift 1.5 times their bodyweight. This is interesting as most studies don’t used trained populations- in this case it means that there was a level of mastery for the individuals involved in testing.

Maximal amounts lifted didn’t vary but the peak force and peak velocity were different. This highlights that from a force production point of view that the trap bar may be superior.

From a muscle activation point of view the vastus lateralis (part of your quads down the front of your leg) was more active compared to the erector spinae and biceps femoris (part of the hamstrings down the back of your legs). It brings home the point that the hex/trap bar is not as posterior dominant as the deadlift is when looking at things from a muscle activation point of view.

So is there a reason to remove deadlifts from programming? Not necessarily, the use of any exercise depends upon the context of the athlete. This study highlights that force production may be developed more favourably for a while with the use of hex bar. The role of the quads is obviously enhanced here as it is somewhere between a squat and deadlift. As there is less erector spinae activation (back) it means that there is less stress placed upon the musculature of this area which may be a limiting factor in developing the deadlift e.g. poor hip mobility and weak erector spinae make full deadlifting a bit of an issue.

The trap bar in my opinion tends to be easier to coach than a full deadlift and it makes it an easier catch-all lower body drill. It is a good compromise to help develop physicality especially if mobility issues limit the performance of an effective deadlift. In turn deadlifting may be considered a progression from hex/ trap bar lifts as it challenges the posterior chain and therefore may be a good advancement.

Form Fixes- Pulling Exercises.

It could be said that all you need to do in the gym to be successful in the gym and build your strength is to do the simple stuff well. Adding complexity to an exercise isn’t really necessary if it doesn’t develop your physicality in some way- that means doing something because it appears hard may not give you the desired result.

One such exercise is pulling based movements specifically rows- either with both or single hands. Typically, you see when the movement is going a bit wrong it’s usually due to the loading being a bit too much for the muscles around the scapular to control the movement so range is shortened and you end up pulling to the arm pit. Now this will still burn your arms out but makes it pretty redundant for training the muscles you are primarily targeting- in this case the lats, rhomboids and traps. It’s what I sometimes term an “intermediate” mistake in the sense that you recognise the exercise but you are trying to push the intensity but by doing so you ruin the primary goal of the movement.

In the following video notice how the elbows are slightly to the side of the rib cage, the shoulder blades are retracted at the end of the movement and as the movement is controlled outwards the shoulder blades stay stuck to the rib cage and tuck under the arm pit. You can perform high rows with higher elbows but to complete the movement it is generally desirable to get retraction of the shoulder blades. Just as a side point adding too much load could also be termed not strong enough to do the movement properly. It’s sometimes hard to point this out to people as they start to progress and want to work hard.

The same movement in-efficiencies happen on bent over rows as well as dumbbell rows and also TRX/ Suspension trainer rows. In order to challenge the upper body you can add in an element of instability. As a side point adding instability works a lot better for the upper body as opposed to the lower body (perhaps apart from ankle and knee rehab/ prehab situations). The carryover to developing strong and stable shoulders is a lot more effective.

We often use variations of supported rows which are sometimes termed renegade rows (this name came around in the functional fitness trend of the early 2000’s… which also meant people gave names to exercises which to the uninitiated where unable to translate). On this following example we add a challenge to stability on one side of the body on the supporting arm while aiming to maintain control on the rowing movement. The same thing applies for this movement getting retraction of the shoulder blade at the top of the movement. What can often happen is that the setup position is wrong and then the hips lift and supporting hand does not remain directly below the shoulder on the floor.

So overall, the goal with rowing movement is to build strength while not sacrificing form. It’s sometimes simple tips that can make a big difference to coaching but also understanding what poor form looks like is also key to getting the most out of your training.

From a progression standpoint complexity varies by “form” not strength. This is the rough protocol we follow from least complex to hardest.

Cable rows both standing and seated/ single and double arm.

Chest supported rows.

DB single arm rows

DB single arm supported rows

Angled TRX rows.

Bent over rows.

Horizontal TRX rows or Inverted rows from a supported barbell.

3 point rows on a step/ elevation.

3 point rows from the floor.

Some of these exercises are quite close complexity wise so we may use variants in programmes. Hopefully this explains why exercise selection is important and how load and relative strength levels will influence your exercise choices.