Here’s the first of a regular series of Quick and Easy Health, Physique Transformation and Sports Conditioning tips.
You can put these into action right now to Look, Feel, Move and Perform better.
These tips are organised into 3 different categories:
- General Health & Motivation
- Training (Fat Loss, Muscle Gain, Athleticism & Strength)
Let’s start at the start! Today’s installment focuses on Correct Preparation, both inside and outside the gym.
General Health & Motivation
‘Hard start, easy finish’
This phrase applies to almost everything in training and in life.
In short, putting in the work up front is going to benefit you enormously throughout the rest of your…
Exercise Set: Put the time in to set up a lift correctly (bar placement, spotters, foot position, etc) and you will make the entire set go smoothly.
Training Session: Don’t shirk your warm-ups. Make sure you dedicate 5-10 minutes to hit self massage, mobility, and activation work.
Training Block: Make the time to make a plan. If you do not have the time (really?!), or the knowledge (fair enough), then seek out someone to make a plan for you.
Training Career: If you’re new to the game, take the proper amount of time to learn correct movement patterns, build general work capacity, and understand technique. If you’re not, and these sound like foreign concepts, have you considered pressing rewind?
Training (Fat Loss, Muscle Gain, Athleticism & Strength)
‘Integrate new movements into your warm-up first’
A solid warm-up should prepare the body for the task at hand. At Results Health & Performance, we do this via soft tissue work, mobility drills, and various corrective/prehab/activation exercises.
Essentially, we are releasing tension and restoring muscle tissue quality to reduce aches and pains, lengthen typically tight areas and strengthen classically weak areas to prime your body to train.
Therefore, the warm up itself is a great spot to work on any new movements we want to externally load down the road. As a big believer in training efficiency, I would rather spend less time in the ‘meat’ of the training session ‘learning’ new movements. If you have movement patterns that need practice, do a few sets in the warm up.
For example, good options include lateral lunge variations, squat variations, and lunge or split squat variations. Check out these 2 great dynamic mobility warm-ups from RHP that were recently featured in the Daily Mail here.
‘Put a time limit on your warm-up’
A thorough warm-up includes a lot, and each piece is important. That being said, it doesn’t (nor should it need to) take more than 10-15 minutes, absolute max.
As I said before, the warm-up needs to prepare you for the task at hand; nailing your training session. In order to make that happen, you want to leave the warm up area fired up, and ready to train. Too often, I see people allow the warm-up process to morph into a 30-minute ordeal. Not surprisingly, these are the same people who comment on the tediousness of the process. Focus on what needs to get done, and get it done.
My clients and I do targeted, individualised warm ups that we typically crank through in 5-10 minutes; when we’re done we’re primed and ready to do work.
Next time you get into the gym, set a timer and condense your warm-up into less than 15 minutes of focused effort. The difference in training quality will be immediately noticeable.
‘Floss your joints during self-massage’
I picked this tip up a while back watching strength coach and physical therapist Kelly Starrett on his phenomenal MobilityWOD series. It has made a huge difference in how my elbows, knees, and shoulders feel after warming up.
When foam rolling out you will often find ‘knots’ or areas that are noticeably more tender than others. Stop on these regions, keep constant pressure on the area, and take the nearest joint through some active ranges of motion while the implement used for massage is still applying pressure.
I have found this to be especially helpful with a lacrosse ball placed just above the knee, just above the elbow, and under the shoulder. Other options include simply flexing and extending the knees, elbows, and shoulders while foam rolling across the IT Bands/Quadriceps (knee), Upper and Mid-Back (Shoulders), and Upper Arms (Elbows). Check out this Foam Roller Self-Myofascial Release Routine from RHP that was also recently featured in the Daily Mail here.
‘Mimic the day’s big exercise with a lower load variation first’
Both for the general population and athletes, many training sessions begin with a variation of one of the a big compound lifts: Squat, Bench/Overhead Press, or Deadlift. Instead of diving right in to the lift, consider doing a few light sets of a similar movement that will help embed proper technique and give you additional time to orient the body to the day’s main movement pattern.
The Goblet Squat is a great way to set up for successful Squatting.
Kettlebell Swings are good for the Deadlift.
Finally, something as simple as a few sets of Press Ups can help with the Bench Press.
Each of these options will help raise your core temperature, fire up your Central Nervous System, and give you some sensory feedback on how the lift should feel (or will feel) on the given day.
‘Consider using MCTs for pre-workout nutrition’
I’ll finish this preparation/warm-up edition with a suggestion on how to warm up your body from the inside-out.
Many people tend to fuel their body pre-workout with various supplements (mostly full of junk), or with carbohydrate-rich concoctions.
Instead, consider using a healthy source of fat: Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). The benefits are numerous, and especially advantageous for those looking to increase fat oxidation during the workout.
This study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that consumption of MCTs as part of a weight loss plan improved overall weight loss. After ingestion of MCTs, the free fatty acid levels are raised, and more available to be used as energy. Supplementing with MCTs pre workout is therefore a terrific option for those on low carbohydrate diets looking for pre-workout energy and increased fat loss.
You can get your MCTs in via coconut oil, MCT oil supplements, or even quality coconut milk products. Add in a small amount of BCAAs or whey protein along with coffee/caffeine for a boost that will keep you fueled up while aiding you in staying lean.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the first edition of what will be a regular series and found it useful. Thanks for reading and please do share with anyone else you know will benefit!