Sunday, June 23, 2019

I’m too old to start training!

credit to: @gemaodison

Age is just a number

One of my occupational hazards is public intrigue. Have you ever found at a BBQ (for instance), when people get to know what you do for a living, you tend to get asked a lot of questions? For me it's 'how do I get rid of this bit?' (grabbing hold belly fat/love handles)? 'Or how do I get rid of these?'(waving arms in the air, shaking the 'bingo wings'?). I used to go into depth, but realised it wasn't useful. I'd then get excuses why they are overweight, or and a history of exercise and diet fails. But then I also get statements like 'I don't have the time', or my favourite, 'I'm too old for that exercise malarky now'. Well if you want to get older sooner, then don't exercise, as plenty of evidence suggests that actually, it's just as important, if not more so, to increase activity as you start heading towards the top of 'that hill'.

What we already know

'Engaging in regular physical exercise or activities has been shown to promote good health, reduce your chances of developing many diseases, and assist you in living a longer, happier and healthier life.' That doesn't change no matter how old you think you are!
Al (AKA Captaincies. GB) Age 73
Strength training for the older gentleman

The average 30-35 year old man will experience roughly a 25 percent decline in his muscle strength and tone by the age of 70-75, and up to a 50% decline approaching the age of 90! In an effort to preserve muscle tone, bone health*, balance and posture, we need to incorporate strength and resistance training. This can include using resistance machines, free weights, such as dumbbells or barbells, resistance or elastic bands, weighted vests, suspension training and other special exercises that use your body weight to simulate resistance against gravity.

*Strong muscles maintain and produce stronger bones. Having strong bones is a key way to reduce the risk of fractures secondary to osteoporosis as we age.

'Nan down'

Nan down is a paramedics 'code' for a fallen elderly person.  Inactivity, poor nutrition, and age-related changes, all help to reduce bone mass at the rate of approximately 1% per year after age 40. As a result, after a minor fall, our bones are more fragile and thus likely to break after minor stress or tension.

Finally, resistance workouts, especially those that include exercises focusing on balance and power, play an important role to increase strength and stability. This ultimately can increase confidence and wellbeing, helping you to remain active, and decrease the possibility of fractures due to falls.

Reverse aging

A 2011 study published in the journal Sport Medicine examined the effects of strength training on aging muscles. It found that strength training increased insulin sensitivity and reduced pain and inflammation from arthritis. The researchers noticed that the effects of aging were reversed!
'Big John' Age 70 (also recently grade graded purple belt in kick boxing!)

Boost your 'T' hormone

Time also tends to decrease the amount of male hormones in the body. This usually results in lower energy levels. But incredibly, just 12 weeks of resistance training significantly increased the level of free testosterone and DHEA, according to a study published by Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology...and a nice little bonus, you're less likely to need the 'little blue wonder' too.

Get over it and get started

If you used to exercise when you were younger, careful not to fall into the trap of keeping up with your younger self- you'll hurt yourself for sure. Focus on exercises that use a lot of muscles, they will give you a bigger return  Use lighter weights with higher reps. If you are unsure where to start, drop the ego and hire a professional. Using the proper technique will help prevent injuries and keep you motivated.

If you're living in pain or finding it hard getting up out of a chair without needing a '1-2-3' rocking motion to get up, you can do something about it. Stop using your age as an excuse! Start looking after yourself, if not for you, but for the sake of your family.
Set goals based on what's 'enough' for you. ie you don't have to be able to run a marathon, or lift a car. If keeping active, maintaining heart health, or keeping up with the kids is important to you, let that be your focus.

Watch my video 'get over getting out of comfort zone' to learn about the cycle of change to help you get started.

Keep it real guys



Sunday, June 2, 2019

How do I improve my fitness? 7 ways to boost fitness

What is fitness?

In any consultation with a client, 9/10 they want say want to 'increase fitness'. I reply back "ok, what does that mean to you?" The reply back is never certain and goes something like this "to get fitter really". Riiight. The problem here is, people don't know what 'fitness' is or what it is they want to get fit for. If I was to ask you 'what is fitness?', what would your reply be right now?

"The ability to perform daily tasks with vigor and alertness without undue fatigue and the energy to enjoy leisure-time pursuits and the ability to respond to emergencies" - According to the Centre for Disease Control & Prevention. This is almost bang on, but misses out (in my opinion), 'to be able to do more than daily and leisurely activities that tax and stress the body-in a good way.

Below are the 7 components of fitness, that can be measured to help you build 'all round fitness'.

Cardiovascular endurance: Train your heart

'Cardio' is the ability to get oxygen around the body efficiently.  The heart and lungs are the work horses in cardiovascular training. Their job is to get oxygen in the body and pump oxygenated blood to supply the muscles with O2, to suit demand.  Ways to determine your heart and lung health are:
  • Blood pressure (measured mmHg)
  • Heart rate - Beats Per Minute (BPM) 
  • Lung capacity - Forced Expiratory Volume (FEV) and Forced Vital Capacity (FVC)
  • VO2 max- maximum amount of oxygen that a person can use during intense exercise

Muscle Endurance

Muscle endurance is the ability to perform a given amount of repetitions with load. Examples of basic tests are completing the following to failure;
  • Press ups
  • Squat holds against a wall
  • Holding a plank
Though it's always important to make the challenges relative to your goal.

Muscular power: Use the force

To get a accurate assessment of this, again you need a lab. But by yourself, it could the measure of the maximal amount of weight you can get moving, ie a one rep max (1RM). Great exercises to use are the deadlift, bench press and squat.
Strength training increases testosterone and HGH (Human Growth Hormone). As well as have massive positive impact on the central Nervous System. Lifting 90-100% of your maximum effort, increases motor unit activation, particularly if done at speed. This will have a functional carry-over to increasing your power and acceleration. Make sure your technique is on point though.

Balance: Hold still

Balance and stability are essential in injury prevention and becoming ‘in tune’ which the body. Proprioception is ‘the bodys ability to find itself within space’. An example of the necessity of proprioception, is when you trip off a curb and your ankle rolls over. The automatic reflex of the muscles to stop you injuring yourself, are a results of proprioceptive signals sent between GTOs (Golgi Tendon Organs) and muscles spindles. Their job is to detect the speed and force of the ‘roll’ and limit damage, by bringing you bank to ‘centre’, without any undue physical harm.
Working on balance will help improve this, particularly as you age.

Flexibility:  About as much as an ironing board

Neglected by some more ‘classic’ styles of training, as it’s uncomfortable and hard (as years of not improving flexibility tend to make it). I tend not to encourage ‘static’ stretching for a lot of people in the traditional sense. I work to mobilise joint and improve range of motion through movement. A debatable subject, but what I tend to find is that static stretching is good for increasing static flexibility. For instance, you did an elevated hamstring stretch, with a straight leg on a box and a hinged at the hips (as if to touch your toes). Holding this stretch will get you better at just holding that stretch.

Another example: If you stretched your hamstrings before a Romanian deadlift (almost straight legged deadlift), then you’ll ‘desensitise’, (ie momentarily weaken) your hamstring muscles, needed in the exercise. If that happens, the next group of muscles that are used in the movement, supporting the spine, will now be under more ‘stress’, as they'll have more work to do.

Remember I mentioned ‘proprioception’? If we static stretch our hamstrings, great, I’ve eased and ‘loosened’ them. But when I start walking again, my proprioceptors have been conditioned to a certain walking pattern I'd have had for much longer period of time and will kick back into that pattern again.  Stretch the hamstrings if you need to, but you now need to re-train the hamstrings, (and the rest of the kinetic chain) to be able to react to this new pattern of movement.

Last point. It’s important to know if your muscles ‘tight’ or ‘tort’. Your hamstrings may ‘feel’ tight, because they are being pulled under tension, because the hip flexors and quadriceps are tight. They might actually be the 'bullies' that need stitching instead.

Speed: Get faster

The faster athlete will normally win, or as my BJJ instructor used to say "train slow, fight slow". Increasing speed is a combination of CV endurance, muscle endurance and muscular force. But it will obviously depend on what you want to get fast for.
Caution: If you're tempted by external sprint equipment like parachutes, dragging tyres, running with weight etc. They can adapt motor unit recruitment and change biomechanics, thus making making you slower. Use them for changing stimulus, but not with a means of making you faster.

Body composition:  Get leaner 

The less fat you're holding on to the healthier and fitter you will be. A great way to measure your body fat, is with skin fold callipers, though challenging and inaccurate to do it yourself. You can opt for bio-impedance machines found on gym floors, or purchasable online, they're just not very reliable. However they do give you a 'measuring point'.

Witness the fitness

If you're looking to get fitter then a general inclusion of all these components will benefit you. Looking to increase performance? Again including more of and increasing other components will help you too. The main thing take away is this, fitness isn't just boring cardio on the treadmill.

Keep it real folks


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