Intensity! A very important aspect of your workout, wherever that may be, in the gym, the pool, the park or at home.
I felt I had to write about this after a visit to my local gym this week. I come across people all the time who go to the gym 5,6 even 7 days a week and yet never seem to change or progress or achieve their goals.
This could be down to lack of intensity in their workout
So back to my gym experience earlier this week. I had only a very short time to workout and get showered. I had 45mins approx. I noticed another gentleman who comes to the gym regularly. He is a large gentleman carrying a large amount of excess body fat. But at least he is in the gym trying to do something about this.
In the time that I managed to warm up, get 4 exercises done, 4-5 sets of 5 reps of each exercise, plus a set of negatives in between each exercise as well as a quick finisher, this gentleman did 3 sets of 1 exercise only. He had a long conversation on his phone followed by a long conversation with another gym user. In fact his conversation with the other gym user was the most he moved during his time in the gym, with his body constantly waving arms and gesticulating.
He then proceeded to weigh himself on the way out of the gym as he does every time I see him!!! What was he expecting to change? There was no intensity to his workout. He didn’t put his body under any pressure to adapt or change.
I see this all the time, yet people wonder why they don’t get results or look like others who spend the same amount of time in the gym. It’s not how long you are there, its what you do while there and how hard you work. Intensity!
I always say "You can work hard or you can work long, you can’t do both". So look at yourself and ask yourself, how hard am I working? Could I work harder? If the answer is yes, then add some intensity to your workout .
Brian Hogan- Gym Manager/Personal Trainer
What is stress? Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.
Stress can be divided into two categories:
In my opinion, Stressors themselves aren’t “bad”, it is your reaction to them, which is dependant on your state before you were exposed to them.
When you experience ‘stress’ in the body certain hormones ae triggered and these initiate glucocorticoid and adrenaline release, which in turn affects your nervous system.
There is an interplay between two systems;
Stage 2 – Adaptation:
With repeated stress the body becomes tired and less responsive to the effects of cortisol. This calls for more cortisol to be produced. You start to suffer from chronic fatigue and show signs of poor immunity.
Stage 3 – Exhaustion:
Eventually your body can’t even produce enough cortisol so levels are extremely low. You will fall to pieces with even the slightest stress, get irritable, can’t concentrate, have no energy and get depressed. You may even experience headaches and become prone to inflammatory and degenerative diseases.
Ways to combat Stress:
2. Journaling and expressing gratitude:
Literally writing down how you are feeling and what you are grateful for can also give you a great perspective on what you might perceive as ‘stress’ in your life. ‘The Five Minute Journal’ is a diary I use every morning and night to document my day. In the morning I write in it; 3 things I am grateful for, 3 ways of how I can make my day great, and a daily affirmation such as; I am healthy and surrounded by people I love. Before bed I journal 3 amazing things that happened in my day and some way of how I could have made the day better. These don’t have to be complicated things just simple aspects of life such as; the shopkeeper smiled at me today and I could have spent longer this morning meditating.
Everyday we accumulate stress. This is stored in our minds as anxiety or in our bodies as tension. The underlying philosophies of the Eastern martial arts and the ancient Indian traditions all teach that tension blocks the flow of vital energy, and stops us being rejuvenated. Therefore the purpose of doing yoga helps release the blocks, unlock the tension and allow us to return to a state of equilibrium.
Exercise and intense training get your body into an SNS dominant state and releases cortisol in the body but this is the good stress I talked about earlier. Your body goes into ‘fight’ mode. After training endorphins (happy/’feel good’ hormones) are released. Low intensity exercise such as walking also has a beneficial effect on the nervous system.
Foam rolling and stretching are also effective tools to activate a PNS dominant state. Foam rolling and stretching is a great tool post-training or before bed. This helps loosen out the body and increase flexibility
6. Reduce use of stimulants:
Stimulants such as tea, caffeine, cigarettes, chocolate and other caffeinated drinks can also raise cortisol levels, leading to irritability and trouble sleeping.
Taking time away from your stressors is a good idea if you wish to overcome them too. This time off allows your adrenal cortex to desensitise to the effects of ACTH. This would ideally be in the form of a holiday completely away from your current surroundings but even leaving your work “in work” and completely forgetting about it when you are in a different environment (at home) is a great place to start.
Sinead Griffin - Personal Trainer
Vitamin D is one of many important micronutrients we must include in our diets for optimal health and essential body processes that take place every day.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. Vitamin D differs from other vitamins as our bodies can make most of what we need with exposure to sunlight. In order for it to be absorbed in the body fully, we must eat a varied diet of both unsaturated and saturated fats. Often people supplement with a vitamin D tablet and take it alongside a meal including fats such as avocados, fatty fish, nuts etc. to ensure it is fully absorbed.
Vitamin D is more than just a vitamin as it also acts as a pro-hormone and effects hormone balance and immune regulation in the body. Vitamin D also plays a role in the absorption of Calcium into the bones.
With regards to health and fitness, Vitamin D plays a major role in this area;
Bone & Muscle Health: Consuming foods high in vitamin D play a key role in calcium absorption and helps keep bones strong.
It may also help maintain healthy muscles throughout life.
Older adults with adequate vitamin D levels are more likely to be active, have improved muscle strength, and are less prone to falls.
Weight Management: Vitamin D deficiency has been connected to obesity and difficulty losing weight. One study found that women who had higher levels of vitamin D on a calorie-controlled diet lost more weight than those with lower levels of the vitamin. At this time, it is unclear if vitamin D deficiency causes obesity or if obesity leads to vitamin D deficiency. Overall, if you are having difficulty losing weight, you may want to consider getting your vitamin D level checked.
Vitamin D Plays A Role In
Vitamin D regulates neuromuscular functioning (pertaining to the nervous and muscular systems)
and impacts protein synthesis (regeneration of new proteins in the body).
Sources of Vitamin D:
(promotes the synthesis of Vitamin D from cholesterol in the skin),
Tuna, Mackerel, Salmon, Sardines, Cod Liver Oil,
Eggs, Mushrooms, Fortified Milk/Cereals
Vitamin D deficiency: Some of the biggest symptoms of being deficient in Vitamin D include:
People most prone to a vitamin D deficiency include those who live in northern regions with little sunlight exposure, people with darker skin, people on low fat diets and those taking steroids and weight loss medications.
Vitamin D supplements are widely available from supermarkets and chemists.
Vitamin drops are available for babies.
“Bro you can lift that” …… How often have you heard this phrase uttered in gyms around Ireland with friends encouraging each other before performing an exercise? As fitness professionals, we always worry when we hear this from inexperienced lifters, as lifting the weight becomes more important than keeping their form and usually results in an injury…
The importance of correct technique when performing any type of resistance training cannot be underestimated. Our bodies are meant to move in certain patterns and we can increase the strength of these movements by performing resistance training. Incorrect training patterns however, will result in muscle imbalances in the short term and eventually injury.
For beginners to resistance training, in particular for people between the ages of 13 to 19, it is essential when learning these exercises to learn them correctly. In the short term, correct technique when performing exercises will allow for a large increase in strength and endurance. In the long term, every day activity will become easier, and more importantly, correct technique will reduce the risk of injury. Resistance training has the added benefit of also improving your performance in sport. However, if exercises are performed with the incorrect technique and excessive load, injuries are a given.
So how can we prevent this? Anyone thinking of changing their training to include resistance training or want to change the resistance exercises currently in their programmes, should first look to get a Functional Movement Screening (FMS) test done. This will account for any muscle imbalances in your body. Following that, correct instruction from a qualified professional is a must. Other sources such as Youtube videos and fitness blogs are a good way of learning about exercises but a fitness professional, weightlifting or strength and conditioning coach will provide you with feedback to ensure you are performing these exercises in a safe manner. This ensures not just your own safety but the safety of other users in your gym.
If you are a beginner to weight training/resistance training or looking to add new exercises to your programme, learning the correct technique for these exercises will reduce the chance of injuries happening and will improve your performance in sport or everyday life.
Askeaton Pool and Leisure are offering a Youth Athlete Workshop beginning on the 5th of June. This week-long course is an excellent opportunity for teens to learn about resistance training and exercise technique in a safe and effective environment. Spaces are limited so please if interested, enquire at reception today to book your place! All you need to know about our Workshop is downloadable below
So, the take home message here today: for all beginners to resistance training or anyone wanting to add new exercises to their programme, please ask a fitness professional to show you the correct technique when it comes to your training. Happy Lifting!!!
ADAM MULVIHILL - GYM INSTRUCTOR -
Macros or Macronutrients are food elements required in large amounts and their main function is to preserve the structural and functional integrity of the body.
There are three macronutrients required by humans: carbohydrates (sugar), lipids (fats), and proteins. Each of these macronutrients provides energy in the form of calories. For example:
In carbohydrates, there are 4 calories per gram
In proteins, there are 4 calories per gram
And in lipids, there are 9 calories per gram
Counting your calories/macros is important for anyone looking to change their overall body composition (weight loss/weight gain) or improve their sporting/athletic performance. The degree to how you count your macros is then in turn all goal dependent; a recreational gym goer who wishes to look good for their upcoming holiday/wedding or generally just look good naked (everyone's wish we just don't admit it) can be a lot looser with their method of tracking compared to the young athlete who is prepping for an upcoming All Ireland game or fight or a young girl prepping for a photo shoot/bikini competition. “Tracking” itself does not necessarily mean you need to actively track everyday, but more so be aware of what you need to eat, and be mindful of your choices in accordance with your requirements.
HOW MANY CALORIES SHOULD I BE EATING?
To calculate how many calories you should be eating in line with your goals you firstly need to figure out your maintenance calories (these are the amount of calories you need to stay alive without any exercise etc involved) then using an activity multiplier (how sedentary or active your lifestyle is) you get your TEE (Total Energy Expenditure = the amount of calories you should be eating).
If your goal is weight/fat loss I usually start clients at a 15-20% decrease of their TEE. They need to be in a calorie deficit (eating less food than the energy they burn).
If the goal is weight/muscle gain an increase of 10-15% of their TEE calories is a good place to start. They would be starting in a slight calorie surplus meaning they are eating more calories than they burn.
If you eat more calories than you burn you will gain weight.
If you burn more calories than you eat you will lose weight.
If you eat the same amount of calories that you burn your weight will not change.
To calculate your maintenance calories and total calories for your goals you can find many links online to help you with this, if not just ask one of our trainers here in Askeaton and we would be more than happy to help!
MyFitnessPal and a food scale will be the most valuable tools for someone starting out tracking their macros. MyFitnessPal is an app that can be downloaded for free on your smartphone, that allows you to insert the food choices you have made/are going to make, and automatically logs the calorie and macronutrient content of that food in the quantity you have selected and completely breaks it down for you in terms of carbohydrate, fat and protein content. The food scale is going to be valuable in terms of identifying the quantity of a certain food that helps you to reach your requirements, and to begin educating yourself around portion control, and how different foods have different levels of calorie density. Once you have spent a period of time (weeks-months) learning about these variables, you should then be able to more or less eyeball your food and eat intuitively to stick within your macronutrient goals.
Once you calculate your overall calorie requirement you then need to figure out how much of these calories comes from protein, fats and carbohydrates.
Protein is essential for growth, tissue repair, immune function, preserving lean muscle and producing essential hormones and enzymes. Protein most certainly has the most oversimplified reputation in that most people understand protein to be useful solely for building muscle. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Protein is actually what makes all life possible. The body is pretty smart in that the first 20-30g of protein gets used for the maintenance of the gastrointestinal tract, which is a pretty good idea considering if this wasn’t looked after, we may not even be able to break down and assimilate any further proteins. What this also means is that if you wish to satisfy the needs of every other cell in your body, including your muscles, you probably should consider eating sufficient protein!
1.8-2.5 grams per kilogram of bodyweight. There is tonnes of research aimed at identifying the optimal amount of protein to eat per day, a lot of which seems to point in different directions, and you will find ranges from 1.5 all the way up to 3.3g/kg of bodyweight. Frequency of protein feeding throughout the day is also an important factor here, so it is important to look not only at the total protein intake, but also spreading it evenly throughout the day. 3-6 meals containing protein is a broad range that will apply to everyone, with the higher end of the range reserved for those more serious about every last gram of muscle.
Anywhere between 1.8-2.5g/kg of body weight is a good place to start for most people and adjust accordingly in line with your goals/results. People who's goal is weight loss/fat loss should maybe stick on the higher end of the scale due to proteins satiating function, this means that protein makes us feel fuller for longer compared to carbs and fat. People whose goal is weight gain could probably stick to the lower end of 1.8/2g per kg of body weight and fill out the rest of the calories from fats and carbs.
Let's take an example of a girl who weighs 65kg and wants to lose some fat and tone up for summer. By using a calorie calculator online we worked out her TEE to be 2200 calories. Her goal is fat/weight loss so we'll adjust her calories slightly and decrease them to 1900, as her job is quite active and she will be going to the gym 3-4 days a week.
To calculate her total calories from protein we will start her at 2g/kg of bodyweight.
So that's; 65 X 2 = 130g
To calculate her total calories from protein; 130g X 4 (there are 4 calories in 1g of protein) = 520
520 of her total calories of 1900 will be from protein.
Next we will calculate how much of our diet consists of fats. FATS WILL NOT MAKE YOU FAT. Fats are essential in cell, nerve tissue and hormone production. Fats are also essential for absorption of fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K and carotenoids). They are an energy source, hence why they have caloric value, and why we store so many of them (adipose tissue or body fat is essentially one large reservoir of energy)
0.6-1.5 grams per kilogram of bodyweight.
I like to start clients at around 1g/kg of bodyweight and adjust accordingly.
Take our 65kg girl, she says that she enjoys fatty foods (such as eggs, avocado, nuts, nut butters etc) so we will have her start in the safe range of 1g of fat/kg of bodyweight.
65kg X 1g = 65g
To calculate her total calories from fats we multiply 65 by 9 (remember there is 9 calories in 1g of fat), this gives us 585 calories.
Carbohydrates are the body's main source of energy and are extremely important for muscular exertion. They are also necessary for the digestion and assimilation of other foods, and help to regulate protein and fat metabolism. They also provide some of the structural components necessary for the growth and repair of tissues. Good sources of carbohydrates are oats, sweet potato, white potato, brown/white rice, quinoa, fruit, whole grain wraps/bread.
We (or our 65kg subject) have 795 calories remaining. Carbohydrates, for the most part, like protein, have 4 calories per gram. Therefore, we divide 795 by 4, leaving 198g carbohydrates to finish off the macronutrient totals. Fibre is also a subcategory of the carbohydrate bracket. As a general recommendation, fibre should fall within 10-15g per 1000 calories. The dietary reference intake for fibre is: 38g per day for me and 25g per day for women. Anything between 20-30g would be good for our client above.
Take home points:
1. Aim to fill 90% of your calories with nutrient dense, whole foods to satisfy the requirement of health, which is essentially your foundation when it comes to any goal.
2. Personal preference: Eat foods you enjoy and satisfy you. There is no point starting a diet and restricting yourself from certain foods because long term you will not stick to it. Eat to fuel your body.
3. Adjust your macros in terms of your energy you get from certain foods, if you find you are tired throughout the day increase your fat content as fats contain the most energy per gram and decrease your carbs slightly to align with overall calories.
4. If you have any food allergies or intolerances such as gluten, again, you may need to increase your fat content to aid with this.
I hope this helps and if you have any questions/comments please leave them and we would be more than happy to answer them.
1. Set Goals with Your Personal Trainer before Starting Your Routine.