Wednesday, 27 July 2011

20 Rep Squats

Squats are the one of the best exercises for leg development, power, definition and strength, as well as cardiovascular health. Any exercise that forces you to use lots of big muscle groups is going to get your blood pumping and lungs working!

What I will often add to my training routine will be 20 rep squats. I was first introduced to 20 rep squats in John McCallum's book Keys to progress. This book was put together from articles written by McCallum way back in the 60's. Even with all the advancements in training, it is one of the best books i've ever read on gaining strength.

One of his first articles in the book is based on 20 rep squats. These will stimulate your strength gains and growth massively if done with the right intensity. McCallum, states that you must pick a weight you can do only 10 reps with and then do 20 with it. That's how hard you have to work. Every rep past 10 needs to be do or die.

In between reps you can take 3 deep breaths, on the third breath, you hold it and go down for the next squat, breathing out as you go up to the top.

They aren't for the faint hearted but will give you gains throughout your whole body if done with the right intesity.

Over the years, I have worked on more depth in my squats, taking my thighs below parallel, as seen in the above picture. I wouldnt adivse this if you round your lower back, parallel is fine. However, if you have the flexibility, this will give you extra strong glutes (bum muscles). A lot of people have weak glutes and bad backs to go with it. Deep squats, done with correct technique can really fix that.

A great stretch to get better at the bottom part of your squat is the deep squat stretch.

You can hold onto something in front. If you have a bit more flexibility, you can open you legs a little wider and hold onto your feet. I work on keeping my head up and back as flat as possible. You can hold this between 30-60 seconds. It doesnt have to be at the gym. I do this at home, sometimes daily. It is also good for healthy knees.

If you want to have a go at 20 rep squats, do them at the start of your workout while you are fresh and warmed up. Have a spotter, or use the pins on a squat rack encase you can't make one of the last few reps. You won't need many other exercises in your workout for that day. I could have gone home after doing them yesterday, but soldiered on!


Sunday, 17 July 2011

Press Ups

Press Ups, when performed properly, are one of the best exercises to help train upper body strength and endurance. Contrary to popular belief the muscles used when performing a press up are not limited to solely the chest (pectoral muscles) but include triceps (back of upper arm), deltoids (shoulder), serratus anterior (torso underneath arm), and the abdominals as a whole.
Press up Technique

1) Start with hands directly below shoulders and situated slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
2) Contract abdominals and gluteus rotating pelvis and finding Neutral Spine.
3) Lower the body so shoulders and hips stay at the same level as when starting, bringing the elbows out away from the body.
4) Return to start position ensuring hips rise at the same time as the shoulder and do not trail.
There are many different ways to perform press up and once you have mastered the “normal” technique it opens doors to a whole host of varied and progressive exercises. These in turn begin to incorporate other muscular groups and further increase the strain on the original muscles being used.
Knee Push Ups
Press up and rotate
Resistance Band Press Ups
Close Grip/Diamond Press Ups
Decline Press Ups
Spider man Press Ups
Hindu Press Ups
Cross touch Press Ups
Shuffle Push Ups
Side to Side Press ups
Circular Press ups
Plyometric Clap Press Ups
Leg out Press Ups
Back Rotation Press Ups
One Armed Press Ups
One Armed One Legged Press Ups

When You Have Mastered the “Normal” Press Up ask any of member of the fitness team for more details on some great fun alternatives and see what good combinations you can put together.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Holiday workouts

I'm a big believer in taking a break from training while on a vacation. Scheduling a weeks rest into your training plan can give you something to work hard towards. However, this holiday I have felt good and the weather has been kind to me. So I made use of the kettlebell I brought with me and some good old fashioned bodyweight exercises. I don't do enough of this stuff so the change was as good as a rest.

Day One:

Kettlebell swings 5 x 20 - warm up
Kettlebell cleans 2 x 10 per arm
Kettlebell press 2 x 10 per arm
Kettlebell rows 2 x 20 per arm
Ketlebell floor press 2 x 15 per arm
kettlebell towel bicep curls 2 x 15 - I pull a towel through the handle and hold this for bicep curls
Handstand pushups x maximum
Pullups 2 x maximum
kettlebell halo 10 per side
Pushups x 100 as quick as possible in as many sets necessary
Kettlebell carries around garden as a finisher

Day two:

Kettlebell swings 5 x 20 - warm up
Ketlebell goblet squat x 20 + Burpees x 10 - 2 sets
Kettlebell prisoner squat x 20 + squats jumps x 10 - 2 sets
kettlebell lunges 2 x 20 + lunge jumps 2 x 20 - 2 sets
Single leg kettlebell deadlift 2 x 10 per side
Single leg glute raises 2 x 15 per side (foot on chair)
Bodyweight squats x 100 as quick as possible in as many sets necessary
Calf raises up against wall 3 x 100 (fast pace)

Day three:

20 minutes bare-foot run on beach.

I am holidaying in Norfolk, so I have the luxury of sticking a kettlebell in the boot of the car. If you are going abroad and feel the need to workout, then your bodyweight can act as one of the most effective training tools going.

My bum, inner thighs and calves are still really sore from the leg workout. This was mainly due to the plyometrics, high rep squats, glute raises and all the other bodyweight moves. I will be adding this into my regime on my return!

Please come and see a member of the fitness team for your holiday routine!


Morning Runs for Fat Loss

Morning Runs for Fat Loss

I have just recently started to add early morning runs into my training regime and wanted to take the time to briefly discuss some of the benefits of incorporating this additional aspect into your individual training schedule. I am personally including them for a number of reasons;
  • Running outdoors can be done anywhere from any base so it leaves you flexible depending on your job and changing hours. For example; you could run a circuit from your house before work, run to work or travel to work and then run.
  • I prefer to run outdoors and with the extremely hot weather we are experiencing it can be quite hard to push yourself in the heat of the day. The early morning slot however avoids the majority of the heat allowing you to have a good run as the sun comes up.
  • Space and tranquillity are often aspects overlooked when exercising. I really enjoy having some time to myself when no one else is up and I find I always feel far less stressed at the start of the day following my 20 minute blast.
  • By getting up early and exercising straight away it helps your body's metabolism to kick in sooner and faster than it would compared to normal. This done every morning will in turn lead to a substantial amount of energy burnt within a week.
  • By choosing to get up and run before you shower and eat means you will only have to add the twenty minutes to your wake up time. This is because the majority of people will have an early morning shower before work/school anyway.
  • You are also more likely to eat a nutritious breakfast after your run instead of skipping it all together which is key in any fat loss programme.

I personally choose to get up, have a coffee when needed, and go straight out for my 4k run without thinking about it. I find this approach stops you talking yourself out of it and heading out when you are still a little sleepy is the perfect way to wake up as by the end of the run I feel completely awake and energised. Upon return a shower to completely awaken me and I am ready for a healthy breakfast. 

Make sure when exercising early morning, especially if you are still waking up, you are always aware of your surroundings, where you are running, traffic and leave information regarding where your planned route goes. If your fitness levels don’t currently allow you to run then you can always exchange the exercise for another which raises your heart rate up so you feel you’re working at about 75% of your maximum ability.

For more information please contact the fitness team.

Good Luck

Dan Byrne.