Thursday, 16 April 2009

One Rep Max

Firstly, to explain, a “one-rep max” is the maximum amount of weight you can shift, only once and no more, through a particular exercise. There is nothing wrong with this, everybody has a one-rep max, but for the majority of us we will realistically never find out what that is.

Yet so often I see programs designed using the “one-rep max” as a base for calculating the desired weights. The most recent I read was where an instructor was advising people to use a weight that was 50% of their one-rep max for 2 sets of 12 reps. From reading what he had written, the plan was designed for average people just wanting to achieve a all-around general level of health & fitness – non-specific. Performing a one-rep max requires perfect technique, a solid and strong muscular base of not only the desired muscles for the exercise, but also the deeper stabilising muscles. For this demographic of people, their fitness levels are nowhere near high enough to ever perform a one-rep max without a good chance of injury. How is such a person then supposed to calculate the right weight to use, if they need to know their “one-rep max” to start that equation?

Knowing your one-rep max is only useful if you are interested in performing it. A far better way to ascertain the right weight to use is as follows: If you are performing 12 reps, choose a weight that you can perform correctly 12 times. If you can do 14 or 15, the weight is too light. If you can’t manage 12 clean reps, the weight is too heavy.
So forget about your one-rep max, unless you are training specifically to perform such an optimal feat of strength.

How Badly Do You Want It?

Everyday I have people telling me that they either want to, or need to, get fitter and/or lose weight. I have many people who constantly tell me that they are going to join the gym ‘soon’, or that they want personal training ‘soon’. Whilst this is encouraging, to know that people are thinking about improving their health and fitness, it is also disheartening when time passes and they never actually follow through with their plans.

Whilst I do not dispute that people want to lose fat weight and improve strength & fitness, the actual desire to achieve those goals is seriously lacking.
Almost everybody wants to achieve more, whether it is fitness, financial, spiritual or otherwise. But in order to do so effort is required. The greater the goal the more effort is required. To be blunt, most people are lazy and will fail. Sitting on the sofa, watching television, eating a ready meal is far easier than getting down the gym for a serious workout followed by a planned and cooked from scratch healthy meal.

Time to separate the men from the boys. You can either be living a fit, healthy life, or you can be a coach-potato who dreams about it.

If you have the desire and motivation, you will do what it takes to achieve your dreams. You realise that in order to achieve what you desire, you have to get up and work at it. Only then will you turn those dreams into reality.

To achieve what you want, you have to want it badly enough. So the question remains, how baldy do you want it?

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Benefits Of Kettlebell Training

Kettlebells offer a true total-body workout, challenging both the cardiovascular and the muscular systems, so strength & fitness training in one. A specific area of focus for kettlebell movements is the Posterior Chain, which is (primarily) the hamstrings, the glutes and the erector spinae - the muscles most responsible for strength, power & stability. Most people have underdeveloped posterior chains, and as a result can (in the case of an athlete) fail to achieve their potential or (in the case of the average person) suffer from back pain/injuries.

The first kettlebell exercise taught is the Swing. This movement is designed to generate power from the hips, using the posterior chain. Performing kettlebell swings as part of your exercise program will develop a powerful back, engage your core muscles and rapidly increase muscular endurance. You will become stronger, more explosive and fitter than ever before. Performing this one exercise will have enormous benefits to you, and provide a great introduction to the kettlebell, and a new way of thinking about exercise.

How to perform the Swing:

The first thing to remember is to keep your back straight. Rounding out your back will mean a loss of power and potential injury. Next your hips need to move back & down - as in a deadlift. Now pick the kettlebell up, letting it hang from both hands. Allow the kettlebell to swing DIRECTLY underneath your body, NOT down by your knees. Then using your hips, drive the kettlebell upwards in an arc, only to the height of your shoulders. Some arm/shoulder involvement is inevitable, but this is NOT a front raise. All the power comes from the hip thrust. When the kettlebell swings back through your legs, your wrists should touch the upper inside of your thighs - like an American Footballer hiking the ball behind him. Use a weight that challenges you, then perform the swings for 2 minutes - 30 seconds in both hands, 30 seconds in your right hand, 30 in your left hand, and the last 30 seconds hand to hand. When changing hands do so at the top of the swing, where the kettlebell is weightless.