Which exercise professional is best for you

Which exercise professional is best for you?

Not just their personality. 🙂 Each type of exercise professional has different scope of practice. Learn the difference.

Personal Trainer. Exercise Physiologist. Strength and Conditioning Coach. What’s the difference?

Every industry has it’s own terminology. These can sometimes lead to confusion. This article seeks to clear things up. By the end you will know how to choose which exercise professional is best for you. Please keep in mind that there are differences between countries.

Broadly speaking, the distinctions between Personal Trainers (PTs), Accredited Exercise Physiologists (AEPs) and Strength & Conditioning Coaches (S&Cs) come down to three factors:

  1. Health sector or sport and recreation sector
  2. Training general or specific populations
  3. Tertiary qualified or not

Whether you choose to train with a PT, EP or S&C you should:

  1. Check that they are, in fact, qualified (the fitness industry is self regulated)
  2. Make sure they are insured
  3. Check that they have industry Registration (professional Code of Conduct, minimum standards, etc.)

which exercise professional personal trainer

Personal Trainers

  • Professional Registration: Fitness Australia
  • Scope of practice: General population (low risk only, not sport specific)
  • Qualification: Certificate 4 in Fitness (may be completed in less than 6 weeks)
  • Usual work: Fitness, Strength and Weight Loss

A Personal Trainer is a fitness professional involved in exercise prescription and instruction.
Proper exercise prescription may result in improved body composition, physical performance, heart condition and health outcomes. A trainer pays close attention to their client’s exercise form, workout routine, and nutrition plan. The decision to hire a trainer may be due to the perception of proper exercise selection and coaching or motivation and adherence.

PTs motivate clients by setting goals and providing feedback and accountability to clients. Trainers also measure their client’s strengths and weaknesses with fitness assessments. These fitness assessments are usually performed before and after an exercise program to measure their client’s improvements. They may also educate their clients in many other aspects of wellness besides exercise, including general health and nutrition guidelines. Qualified Personal Trainers recognize their own areas of expertise. If a trainer suspects that one of his or her clients has a medical condition that could prevent the client from safe participation in an exercise program, they must refer the client to the proper health professional for prior clearance.

There are scarce studies with men, but some with women. According to those studies, women working with personal trainers achieved:

  • greater increases in strength
  • higher workout intensities
  • higher perceived exertion during exercise
  • self-select heavier loads

than women who did not.

In summary, the scope of practice for a personal trainer is to enhance the components of fitness for general, healthy populations.

which exercise professional exercise physiologist

Exercise Physiologists

  • Professional Registration: ESSA (Exercise and Sport Science Australia)
  • Scope of practice: Specific population (med-high risk, disease/injury management)
  • Qualification: A Minimum 4 Year University Degree
  • Usual work: Fitness, Strength and Rehab / Medical condition management

Accredited Exercise Physiologists (AEPs) are allied health professionals.
They specialise in the delivery of exercise for the prevention and management of chronic diseases and injuries. AEPs provide graded exercise therapy and lifestyle interventions for ‘specific populations’. These are clients that have developed, or are at risk of developing, chronic and complex medical conditions and injuries. AEPs work in hospitals and private clinics, occupational rehabilitation companies, employment agencies, seniors gyms and research institutes.

AEPs are not Personal Trainers. They are allied-health professionals and are trained members of the health and medical sector. AEPs are eligible to register with Medicare Australia, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and WorkCover and are recognised by most private health insurers.

AEPs provide training in safe manual handling. They perform functional assessments and fitness tests. They also provide lifestyle education to help people manage their health conditions.

In summary, the scope of practice for an exercise physiologist is to assess and manage the components of fitness for specific, at-risk populations.

which exercise professional strength and conditioning

Strength & Conditioning Coach

  • Professional Registration: ASCA (Australian Strength & Conditioning Association)
  • Scope of practice: Sporting population, primarily sports/teams
  • Qualification: Coaching Accreditation through the Australian Sports Commission; Tertiary Qualifications Available
  • Usual work: Sporting Performance, Injury prevention/management

Strength and conditioning coaches (S&C) have two primary goals.
The first is to improve athletic performance, which usually means improving athletes’ speed, strength,and power.
The second primary goal is to reduce athletic injuries.
Let’s address each.

S&C Coaching for Athletic Performance includes:

  • Developing systematic training programs for both teams and individual athletes
  • Working in close association with skill coaches
  • Teaching proper lifting techniques
  • Supervising and motivating athletes as they work out
  • Assessing their performance before and after the program.

The nature of the conditioning program will vary depending on whether the sport is in season or not. During the off-season, conditioning programs can be quite rigorous. In season, conditioning programs tend to focus more on maintaining athletes’ conditioning than on improving it. Conditioning programs also vary by sport, and even by position within the sport.

S&C Coaching for Injury Management includes:

  • Designing regimens to strengthen body parts that are prone to injury in a particular sport
  • Preventing athletes from getting injured during training
  • Teaching correct exercise and lifting techniques
  • Monitoring athletes’ general health

S&C coach’s may also create nutrition plans for athletes, or liase with nutrition professionals. This is usually designed to provide the best possible nutrition to keep each athlete at peak condition. Additionally, proper nutrition helps to speed up muscle recovery time and provide the necessary energy for competition.

Maintaining accurate workout records for all athletes is an often overlooked but still important aspect of the job. Proper record keeping helps to ensure that individuals and teams accomplish the training they need on the right schedule. The right training increases the team’s odds of success in games over the course of the season.

Conditioning coaches usually meet regularly with the team’s coaches to determine what individual athletes, or the team, needs to work on in the conditioning facility. If working with an injured athlete engaged in rehabilitation, conditioning coaches will also consult with the sports medicine or athletic training staff to be sure they do not ask the injured athlete to do anything inappropriate in training.

In summary, the scope of practice for a strength and conditioning coach is to enhance the components of performance for specific/sporting, healthy populations.

Often a Personal Trainer with an interest in performance, rather than weight loss, will undertake additional training to become a strength and conditioning coach. (Like I did!) 🙂

So, hopefully now you know which exercise professional is best for you.

Please share and comment if you found this article helpful. Thanks!

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Why train Olympic Lifts?

I have been asked the question: “Why train Olympic Lifts if you’re not an Olympic Lifter?”

Simple.

Because they’re awesome.
Seriously though, it’s a good question and there’s a good answer (I think). Here goes.

Why train olympic lifts? - Weighlifting Woman

There are a few point to share that go into my thinking about training.

  1. People should be striving to improve themselves; Be “Better Than Yesterday”.
  2. Improvement can (and should) be objectively measured; see “What is Fitness“.
  3. Most people aren’t as strong as the could be; see “How Strong are You?“.
  4. Therefore progressive strength training is important; enabling greater work capacity, generally.
  5. Fundamental bodyweight exercises and powerlifting movements are relatively simple to learn* and develop strength well.
  6. Almost all physical activities require the application of strength at speed –> Power.
  7. One of the best ways to develop power is Olympic Lifting.

*Before all you powerlifters get upset, I’m not saying powerlifting is simple, just that it is less complex than Oly lifting. 🙂

So if you want to improve your performance at pretty much any physical endeavour, train the Olympic Lifts.

Have a look at this video for a bunch of different athletes from Catalyst Athletics performing Power Cleans.
Note the sort of weight they are moving. Think about their potential power output. Why train Olympic lifts? Now you tell me! :O

What Black Belt Attitude means when you’re 10

Black Belt Attitude.

This term is used a lot in martial arts. Especially with kids.
Let’s have a look at what it means to a 10 year old in the kids ninjutsu program at FunFit.

What Black Belt Attitude means to me

by Douglas Cameron (age 10)

  • It means not harming or using your skills against anyone unless they are a threat to you or to the society
  • It means helping people out no matter if you know them or not
  • It means to keep training and attending classes
  • It means to not boast to anyone about your black belt
  • It means to wear your black belt with pride
  • It means to wear your black belt to all ninjutsu classes
  • It means to not be too silly in class
  • It means to try to complete all tasks presented unless you can’t due to an injury
  • It means to attend all classes unless you are sick or away from Sydney

Compare this to the principles of bushido.

bushido black belt attitude

(If for some reason the image doesn’t load for you, the principles are:
Integrity, Respect, (Heroic) Courage, Honour, Compassion, Veracity (Honesty and Sincerity), (Duty and Loyalty).

Fitness Newbie? Read this getting started guide!

Fitness Newbie?

Get started with these 10 Tips For Success

Stepping into a new gym for the first time can be a bit intimidating and overwhelming.
You might see a bunch of people lifting really heavy things. Doing unfamiliar movements and using peculiar vocabulary. Fear not fitness newbie; these people won’t bite. They’re actually pretty friendly and supportive once you get to know them. It can be a lot to take in at first glance, especially if you’ve had limited exposure to functional fitness training prior to starting at FunFit. But don’t worry; we’ll look after you. The following are 10 things to keep in mind as you begin your FunFit journey.

1.) Have fun

Let’s face it, not all workouts are fun. But when it’s over, you feel a sense of accomplishment (or relief!). You shouldn’t be upset that you didn’t get as many reps as the person next to you. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Smile. Laugh. Introduce yourself to people you don’t know. If you’re not having fun, why are you here?  Do you enjoy your overall time spent at the gym? Do you enjoy the people, the community, the knowledge and support that it provides? If so, then don’t be too concerned with your competitive nature.

The things you’ll learn at FunFit are fun: making your life easier and helping you engage more. Learn new skills of controlling your own bodyweight, kettlebells, movement, olympic lifts. A lot of the stuff you can’t do in a Fitness First. The attitude is different too; the feeling you’ll have the first time you get an unassisted pull-up or move with effortlessness is an amazing sense of power and accomplishment.

fitness newbie: challenge yourself and have fun

2.) Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification, over and over again


It’s your time, money, and most importantly, health. If you don’t fully understand something, ask. If you still don’t get it, ask again. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you don’t fully grasp the concept, or you think others in the class will get frustrated with you for taking up too much time. We were all a fitness newbie at one point. We’ve all been there. Learning the mechanics of certain movements like the squat, deadlift, or any of the olympic lifts takes lots of practice and critique from a trained eye. If you need help, just ask.

3.) You’re competing against yourself, not others


When it comes time to doing a workout, don’t feel like you have to do everything, or be able to complete as many rounds as other people right off the bat. Go at your own pace. Let the intensity find you. You need a solid foundation of strength and flexibility in order to progress into more demanding workouts.  Start light, get your form sorted out, and improve from there. Chase your own capacity before chasing the person next to you. Which brings me to my next point…

Fitness newbie: Leave your ego at the door

4.) Don’t be too proud to modify


Learn new movements. Progress to more complexity over time. You have to know your own body and its limits. Most importantly, there’s no substitute for common sense.

5.) What you eat is more important than what you lift

Nutrition is the key to every aspect of your life. It affects your energy levels, your recovery, and your overall defence against disease.

“Junk in, junk out.”

When you’re first starting out, the quality of your food is far more important than the quantity. Eat ‘cleanly’ (as much real food as possible / as little processed food as possible). If you’re eating as cleanly as possible, you don’t even need to worry about the quantity at this stage. You are a Ferrari. You wouldn’t put low quality fuel in a Ferrari, would you?


6.) Training isn’t everything


We are doing a strength and conditioning program that focuses on building general physical preparedness (GPP). It can improve almost every aspect of your life, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be your sport or your lifeblood. I train so that I can do whatever I want: Go out, play sports, learn new things. Having that GPP allows me to take on new challenges. Training is not my life. I train so that I can have a life… and get the most out of it.


7.) It doesn’t get easier, but you get better


Persevere. You get stronger, build a greater aerobic capacity, and become mentally tough.  All of these aspects, combined with experience, allow you to know when to push yourself and when to back off, so that you can do each workout to the best of your ability.

Fitness newbie: keep calm and do your best


8.) You won’t PR every day


Don’t mistake intensity for hard work. Even if you’re having a bad day and the intensity just isn’t there, you can still get a lot out of your time in the gym through hard work. Intensity and hard work are not the same thing. Don’t skip a planned session just because you’re feeling a bit flat. Not feeling too strong that day? That’s fine; scale back. Something is better than nothing.

9.) Respect rest and recovery


Too many people new to training (and even those of us who have been doing this a while) get caught up in over-training. Don’t be afraid to schedule in a de-load day once per week, or a de-load week every 4-6 weeks where you cut the weight, rounds, and intensity in half. You have to think about this from a longevity standpoint. If you’re killing yourself every time you step foot in the gym, week after week, month after month, year after year, you’re going to eventually break down. You need to respect your time outside of the gym. There’s an old weightlifting adage that goes something like: “You don’t get bigger and stronger from lifting weights, you get bigger and stronger from recovering from lifting weights.”

Proper nutrition, hydration and sleep all play their part in recovery, but you also need to listen to your body. If you continuously beat yourself down, you’re going to get hurt, injured or worse. Stay on top of your mobility work. Don’t know what that is? Ask!

10.) Thank yourself

Overcoming inertia and getting off the couch isn’t easy. Especially in winter. Thank yourself for making the effort, training consistently and reaping the rewards. You’re investing in yourself. It’s worth it. 🙂


So, what now?

You’ve made a commitment to yourself. You’re about to start eating better. Your vocabulary will soon include words like burpee, deadlift and snatch. See you in training. Welcome to FunFit.

Ready to get started? Get in touch!

Strength Standards – How strong are you?

Strength Standards

Strength Standards - Weak Link

How can you gauge your progress?

Strength Standards are a notoriously difficult beast to wrangle.
There are a wide range of opinions, and more than one of them is correct.
Obvious strength benchmarks for a powerlifter (Squat, Bench, Deadlift) aren’t necessarily relevant to an Olympic Weightlifter (Snatch, Clean&Jerk).My goal is to provide as comprehensive a guide as possible for non-specialists to gauge their strength progress.
To put it another way, this isn’t definitive for powerlifters, strongmen or olympic lifters.
This is for regular folks who want to know how they’re doing, strength-wise, and what they may need to work on.
So whether your strength training includes barbells or kettlebells – there’s something here for you.

This isn’t meant as an “I must get to 10/10 in everything” challenge. (If you’re getting all 10s here then everyday strength probably isn’t your issue.) Use this tool to see if there’s a chink in your strength armour. Do you get a 5/10 in squat and hip hinge, a 4/10 in push and a 2/10 in pull?
Maybe you need to work on your pull!

Recognition of those who have gone before (influences on this project and any modifications I’ve made, and why):

  • Using the framework of a very elegant Dan John principle of Squat / Hip Hinge / Push / Pull to classify movements. I’ve added a fifth movement class (strength-endurance / stability) which covers Turkish Getup and Farmer’s Walk. I feel these movements are part of strength and too useful to ignore but don’t really fit anywhere else;
  • strstd.com (currently broken) 🙁 for a very neat strength graph for back squat, bench, deadlift and press. It clearly shows both further absolute benchmark levels and the lifts relative to each other. It has helped inform my understanding of relative strength. It also provides a great Wendler 5/3/1 calculator;

  • ExRx.net for general strength benchmarks and great calculators and tools;
  • Bob Takano for a great explanation of the relationship between Back Squat and Clean & Jerk and Clean and Jerk to Snatch Ratios which makes the Olympic lifts easier to compare with powerlifting movements;
  • Starting Strength – because no strength standards synthesis would be complete without Starting Strength’s Standards. 🙂

For strength standards for Olympic lifting specifically, please check out the Catalyst Athletics Guide.

*Please note: ‘Hip hinge’ and ‘pull’ both have intentional gaps. I wanted to include only commonly held standards, rather than filler*

That being said, here is my synthesis of strength standards. This is a work in progress. Feedback is welcome and encouraged. 🙂

Strength Standards for Men

Squat Movement

1. Squat with proper form
2. Goblet squat: 0.25 BW x 10
3. Goblet squat: 0.33 BW x 10
4. 2xKB Front Squat: 0.25 BW ea x 10
5. Back Squat: 1.25 BW x 1 / Front Squat: 1.00 BW x 1
6. Back Squat: 1.00 BW x 15
7. Back Squat: 1.75 BW x 1 / Front Squat: 1.40 BW x 1
8. Overhead Squat: 1.00 BW x 1
9. Back Squat: 2.25 BW x 1 / 1.25 BW x 15 / Front Squat: 1.80 BW x 1
10. Overhead Squat: 1.00 BW x 15

Hip Hinge Movement

1. Hip Hinge with proper form
2. Kettlebell Swing: 0.25 BW x 20
3. Kettlebell Swing: 0.33 BW x 20
4. 2xKettlebell Clean: 0.33 BW ea x 10
5. Deadlift: 1.50 BW x 1 / Clean&Jerk: 0.95 BW x 1 / Snatch: 0.75 BW x 1
6.
7. Deadlift: 2.00 BW x 1 / Clean&Jerk: 1.33 BW x 1 / Snatch: 1.05 BW x 1
8.
9. Deadlift: 2.50 BW x 1 / Clean&Jerk: 1.70 BW x 1 / Snatch: 1.35 BW x 1
10.

Push Movement

1. Pushups with proper form x 10
2. 1xKettlebell Press: 0.25 BW x 5
3. Press: 0.60 BW x 1
4. 2xKettlebell Press: 0.33 BW ea x 5
5. Bench Press: 1.00 BW x 1 / Press: 0.60 BW x 1
6. Weighted Dip: 0.50 BW x 1
7. Bench Press: 1.25 BW / Press: 0.85 BW x 1
8. 1xKettlebell Press: 0.50 BW x 1
9. Bench Press: 1.50 BW x 1 / 1.00 BW x 15 / Press: 1.10 BW x 1
10. 2xKettlebell Press: 0.50 BW ea x 1

Pull Movement

1. Batwings: 2xKettlebell 0.16 BW ea x 10 sec
2. Supine Row: (TRX or Rings) BW x 20
3.
4. Supine Row: (TRX or Rings) BW x 10 – Feet Elevated
5. Chinups x 5
6.
7. Pullups x 8-10
8.
9. Pullups x 15
10. Weighted Pullup: 0.50 BW x 1

Strength-Endurance / Stability Movement

1. Turkish Getup: 0.12 BW
2. Turkish Getup: 0.18 BW
3. Farmer’s Walk: 0.25 BW each hand
4. 5 minute KB Snatch for reps (0.25 BW) – benchmark 100
5. Farmer’s Walk: 0.33 BW each hand / Turkish Getup: 0.25 BW
6. 5 minute KB Snatch for reps (0.30 BW) – benchmark 100
7. Farmer’s Walk: 0.50 BW each hand / Turkish Getup: 0.36 BW
8. 5 minute KB Snatch for reps (0.36 BW) – benchmark 100
9. Farmer’s Walk: 0.75 BW each hand / Turkish Getup: 0.50 BW
10. The Bear Complex: 60kg

Strength Standards for Women

Squat Movement

1. Squat with proper form
2. Goblet Squat: 0.18 BW x 10
3. Goblet Squat: 0.25 BW x 10
4. 2xKettlebell Front Squat: 0.18 BW ea x 10
5. Back Squat: 1.20 BW x 1 / Front Squat: 0.95 BW x 1
6. Back Squat: 0.75 BW x 15
7. Back Squat: 1.65 BW x 1 / Front Squat: 1.30 BW x 1
8. Overhead Squat: 0.75 BW x 1
9. Back Squat: 2.00 BW x 1 / 1.20 BW x 5 / Front Squat: 1.60 BW x 1
10. Overhead Squat: 0.75 BW x 15

Hip Hinge Movement

1. Hip Hinge with proper form
2. Kettlebell Swing: 0.18 BW x 20
3. Kettlebell Swing: 0.25 BW x 20
4. 2xKettlebell Clean: 0.18 BW ea x 10
5. Deadlift: 1.20 BW x 1 / Clean&Jerk: 0.90 BW x 1 / Snatch: 0.72 BW x 1
6.
7. Deadlift: 1.60 BW x 1 / Clean&Jerk: 1.25 BW x 1 / Snatch: 1.00 BW x 1
8.
9. Deadlift 2.00 BW x 1 / Clean&Jerk: 1.52 BW x 1 / Snatch: 1.20 BW x 1
10.

Push Movement

1. Pushup x 1 (Excellent Form)
2. 1xKettlebell Press: 0.18 BW x 5
3. 1xKettlebell Press: 0.25 BW x 5
4. 2xKettlebell Press: 0.18 BW ea x 5
5. Bench Press: 0.75 BW x 1 / Press: 0.50 BW x 1
6. Weighted Dip: 0.33 BW x 1
7. Bench Press: 1.00 BW / Press: 0.75 BW x 1
8. 1xKettlebell Press: 0.33 BW x 1
9. Bench Press: 1.25 BW x 1 / 0.75 BW x 15 / Press: 1.00 BW x 1
10. 2xKettlebell Press: 0.33 BW ea x 1

Pull Movement

1. Batwings: 2xKettlebell 0.16 BW ea x 10 sec
2. Supine Row: (TRX or Rings) BW x 20
3.
4. Supine Row: (TRX or Rings) BW x 10 – Feet Elevated
5. Chinup x 1
6.
7. Chinups x 3
8.
9. Pullups x 3
10. Weighted Pullup: 0.33 BW x 1

Strength-Endurance / Stability Movement

1. Turkish Getup: 0.12 BW
2. Turkish Getup: 0.18
3. Farmer’s Walk: 0.25 BW each hand
4. 5 minute Kettlebell Snatch for reps (0.25 BW) – benchmark 100
5. Farmer’s Walk: 0.33 BW each hand / Turkish Getup: 16kg
6. 5 minute Kettlebell Snatch for reps (0.30 BW) – benchmark 100
7. Farmer’s Walk: 0.50 BW each hand / Turkish Getup: 0.36 BW
8. 5 minute Kettlebell Snatch for reps (0.36 BW) – benchmark 100
9. Farmer’s Walk: 0.75 BW each hand / Turkish Getup: 0.50 BW
10. The Bear Complex: 40kg

Would you like to track your strength standard progress?

Get a FREE spreadsheet I created for you to do just that.

Sign up for my newsletter below and I’ll email it to you. 🙂

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FlowFit – Move better, feel better

FlowFit helps you move better

Could you move better / more fluidly?
Do you have some problem areas of flexibility/mobility you know you should work on?
Are you someone who would like to do yoga – minus the “OMM”?!

Strength and speed diminish with age. Flexibility doesn’t have to – it just requires the right training.
You have heard “Move it or lose it”, right? Train now to move better later!

Critically examine this sequence in the video.

http://youtu.be/xcA7v1eyIFE

Identify each joint at work. Observe the range of motion. Imagine yourself doing this. (Or try it as you watch!)
If you can do this sequence without trouble (correct position, balance and coordination) and flow easily between sections – good for you! If you had certain ‘sticky’ sections (lack of flow, lack of strength, lack of coordination) then you may need to do some more work! Can you see your self being able to do this sequence in 10 years? 20? I’m sure you’d agree that if you ‘got’ the flow and practised regularly you’d move better and – never ‘lose it’.

Flexibility training is something most of us know we need to do. The trick is making time to do it and being consistent in it’s maintenance. Unfortunately there aren’t any magic bullets, but there are great tools available to you.

Coach Nav is running a ‘FlowFit’ course. Specifically designed to unlock tight joints. Work through dynamic mobilization drills for shoulders, hips, knees, ankles, elbows and wrists. These are simple drills made into sequences. (For examples of static mobilization drills see here and here.)

Get flowing movement and witness the change it enables. This is FlowFit sequence number one. As proficiency improves, the drills progress.

If you know your flexibility or movement needs some attention – give a term of FlowFit a try. After all, if it improves your lifts, performance and life generally through better movement – what do you have to lose? 🙂

If you can’t make it to the studio then keep up with our mobilization videos on FunFit’s YouTube channel.
Super keen? Then have a look at Kelly Starrett’s book, Becoming a Supple Leopard, for more great mobilization tips.

What is Fitness? Learn how to measure your progress

What is fitness? – A measurable definition!

Fitness is being physically able to do what you want to do, when and how you want to do it. If you are wholly-fit, you can do your job, play games and sports, and do the normal activities of daily living on any level you wish without limitations produced by illness, injury, low self-esteem or stress.

Physical fitness is how you look, feel and perform. It comprises two related concepts: Health-related fitness (a state of health and well-being) and Functional fitness (a task-oriented definition based on the ability to perform specific aspects of sports or occupations). Physical fitness is generally achieved through exercise, correct nutrition and enough rest. It is a vitally important part of life.

Fitness is relative. Just as your fitness will affect your goals, your goals will affect your fitness.


Health-related fitness

Crossfit Sickness Wellness Fitness Curve Diagram

This is a depiction of the the sickness-wellness-fitness curve in the 2002 Crossfit Journal Article defining fitness. (I’d look at body composition rather than just body fat; our understanding of cholesterol has developed since 2002; Systemic inflammation (through C-Reactive Protein and other markers) is also something I’d want to measure as a ‘wellness’ marker. This diagram IS a good starting point for understanding Health-related Fitness.)

Health

One way of looking at health is as our ability to survive and thrive RIGHT NOW. What’s your blood pressure? Blood sugar? Mental outlook? Stress level? Immune response? Ability to survive falling off a 12’ ladder? This is perhaps a simplistic view of health but I think it works quite well.

The indicators of sickness and wellness are measurable. The relative health of a person can be estimated using a range of biomarkers. Please keep in mind that across a population there are large variations in “normal”.

Using the scale, “Sickness” implies something may be amiss e.g Blood Pressure is above 140/90. This doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a problem or illness, but can spark further investigation and preventative measures if required. “Wellness” indicates normal or average health e.g BP of 120/80. A lower (but not too low) reading would suggest greater cardiovascular efficiency and greater “fitness”. Health and fitness do overlap, but the ‘ultra-fit’ do tend to be more prone to illness than ‘fit’. (Probably due to compromised immunity through chronic stress or inflammation)

Longevity

What if we considered health (the moment to moment ability to survive) over time? We would have longevity. Longevity is health over the long haul.

Longevity CAN simply mean surviving for a very long time. Quality of life does matter. One’s health may be such that any stressor, a cold, a fall, will be more than the individual can deal with. Conversely, perfect health, as measured on the day-to-day level, may curtail longevity. People who have a cold here and there tend to have lower rates of cancer. An occasional drop off in health may translate into improved longevity.

Functional fitness

Capability: Put simply, are you physically able to do the task?

Capacity: What volume of work/task are you able to accomplish?

The Crossfit model of fitness would include the concept that “He or she who does best at the widest variety of tasks is on average the “fittest”.” I would say that would make you the best generalist, or best at Crossfit. Ultimately, your ‘fitness’ is highly dependent on the tasks you wish to do.

Measures of Physical Fitness Summary Table

Recovery

The ability to recover after a physical challenge or illness is in itself an indicator of fitness. Consider two people. Both perform a gruelling task e.g shovelling a large load. At the end of the day, both are shattered. The following day, one is able to continue the task, the other can barely move. They have different levels of fitness / capacity (at least for that task).

Performance Health Longevity Optimal Venn Diagram

Having a performance bias may be at odds with health and longevity. Loads of endurance training may lead to oxidative stress, immune compromise and suboptimal dietary requirements necessary to fuel such efforts. If endurance sports are your thing, that’s fine. It’s perhaps good to know some of the down sides so one might make smart alterations to nutrition and training plans. Similarly if you aspire to be a Super Heavy Olympic Lifter you may need to consume an amount of food and carry a body mass that is absolutely at odds with health and longevity.

Another model is the notion that to be fit one should have a good balance in the development of all the engines that drive human activity: the ATP/CP pathway, glycolytic, and aerobic paths. The specifics of these energy pathways, ways to train them and implications for everyday life will feature in future articles.

What all this boils down to is for general fitness you need capability in various modalities, physical adaptations and metabolic engines, and capacity across a wide variety of tasks and time-frames. This offers a quantifiable way of measuring fitness. Do more work in less time and you are fitter!

Once again – Fitness is relative. Just as your fitness will affect your goals, your goals will affect your fitness.

Technique Tuesday: Dave does a Power Clean

Here’s the first of our new regular feature, Technique Tuesday, in which Tim analyzes the technique and form of a particular lift. This week, the power clean as performed by Dave.

As always, we’re interested in your thoughts and comments, so please post them below!

Quad, Hamstring and Lower Back Mobility Video

Mobility Wod Quote

Here’s the inimitable Kelly Starrett of Mobility WOD delivering a great lesson on how to improve mobility to hips and spine and flexibility to quad, hamstring and lower back.

Also check out an earlier post on thoracic spine and hip mobilization.

Check it out – and do it!

Also have a look at Kelly Starrett’s book, Becoming a Supple Leopard, for more great mobilization tips.

Pregnancy and exercise – a guide for training

pregnancy_exercise

Many people seem to treat pregnancy as an illness. Pregnant women do not need to be wrapped in cotton wool. While pregnancy does mean significant physiological changes, the expectant mother has not turned into an alien! [1][3] A sensible approach to pregnancy and exercise training can mean a happier, [9][11] healthier, [2][3][6][10] fitter [2][3][10] mum. This can lead to better recovery post-delivery [2][4][5] and better headspace [2][9][11] for dealing with sleepless nights!

If in any doubt at all consult your obstetrician. This is especially important if you have complications. Some of the things to discuss include:

  • The type of exercise you like to do
  • Your general fitness level
  • How much exercise you did before you conceived. [1][3]
  • Your desired intensity level [7]
  • Any complications with your pregnancy

Ultimately – see the conclusion below – especially number 5!
 

Some general benefits of exercise

  • You might actually (shock, horror!) enjoy exercise – or at least the social aspect [9].
  • A more efficient engine means more energy
  • Improve your posture [2] and circulation [10]
  • Improve your cardiovascular health
  • Get stronger
  • Improve your work capacity (see work capacity below)
  •  

    Pregnancy specific benefits of exercise

    • Stronger back muscles – help alleviate back pain as your belly grows [2]
    • Stronger core muscles – help prevent incontinence [2][4][5]
    • Relieve stress [9][11]
    • Improve your sleep and ward off insomnia [11]
    • Ward off pregnancy-induced bone loss [6]
    • Prepare for the physical demands of labour (see work capacity below)
    • Improve your recovery after labour [2]
    • Initiate a faster return to pre-pregnancy fitness and weight [2]
    • Increase your ability to cope with the physical demands of motherhood (see work capacity below)

     

    Changes Cautions (things to be aware of)
    Increase in body weight Changes in Balance / Coordination due to increased weight and the distribution of the weight
    Loosening of all ligaments (Relaxin) The loosening of ligaments can make you more prone to sprains and other injuries
    Increase in resting heart rate Don’t use heart rate to guide intensity as it has increased – use Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)
    Decrease in Blood Pressure (2nd Trimester) Avoid rapid changes in position due to decreased blood pressure
    Increase in Blood Volume, Haemoglobin and VO2 Max (First few weeks after birth) Improved performance!
    Abdominal separation (painless) Sit-ups or crunches may worsen this, and are ineffective.

     

    Things to avoid

    • Overheating has been linked to developmental problems for baby in animal studies
    • Lying on your back (from 4 months) can restrict circulation. Modify exercises to on your side.
    • Excessive intensity is thought to have effects on birth weight (3rd Trimester), though there is conflicting evidence and opinions, so this is still inconclusive [2][3][7][8]

    Avoid jolts or falls [3]. Unfortunately vigorous or extreme activities such as horse riding, skiing, mountain climbing are out. You should also avoid most contact sports, such as football, basketball and so on. In the later stages of pregnancy, avoid activities that involve jumping, frequent changes of direction and excessive stretching (such as gymnastics).

    Pregnancy is not the right time to start any new intensive [7][8] exercise, but it is safe to continue with most types of exercise if you’re used to them.
     

    Limitations of Guidelines

    Public health recommendations by their very nature are designed to capture as many members of the public within their umbrella as possible. They are an excellent starting template. They often have current information and links to resources for further inquiry and should not be overlooked.

    A great example of sensible pregnancy and exercise recommendations can be found at:

    http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Pregnancy_and_exercise

    The reason I particularly like these recommendations is their acknowledgement of relative capacity, which is often lacking in Public Health statements.
     

    Relative capacity

    If you haven’t exercised before becoming pregnant, you would approach the new activity pretty much the same way as if you weren’t pregnant. That is, you’d seek the help of a professional who can design a structured program with your particular goals and needs in mind. Gradual development of strength and fitness with incremental improvement over time.

    On the other hand, someone who’s been exercising for years, has built up a baseline of strength, endurance and other general physical skills is going to have greater physical capacity than someone who has not. This woman would be able to do much more than her previously inactive counterpart. Her loads and speed would be reduced compared to pre-pregnancy levels as a margin of safety, but she could still outperform others at her gym of lesser capacity.
     

    Pelvic floor exercises and pregnancy [4][5]

    Strong abdominal muscles support your spine. The internal core and pelvic floor abdominal muscles act as a natural ‘corset’ to protect the pelvis and lumbar spine.

    Your pelvic floor muscles are weakened during pregnancy and during birth (vaginal delivery), so it is extremely important to begin conditioning the pelvic floor muscles from the start of your pregnancy.

    Appropriate exercises can be prescribed by a physiotherapist or a personal trainer who has training and experience with pelvic floor. It is important to continue with these throughout your pregnancy and resume as soon as is comfortable after the birth.
     

    Warning signs when exercising during pregnancy [3]

    If you experience any of the following during or after physical activity, stop exercising immediately and see your doctor:

    • Headache
    • Dizziness or feeling faint
    • Heart palpitations
    • Chest pain
    • Swelling of the face, hands or feet
    • Calf pain or swelling
    • Vaginal bleeding
    • Contractions
    • Deep back or pubic pain
    • Cramping in the lower abdomen
    • Walking difficulties
    • An unusual change in your baby’s movements
    • Amniotic fluid leakage
    • Unusual shortness of breath
    • Decreased foetal movements

     

    Conclusion

    If the exercise you’re doing makes you feel strange or hurts in a non-working-muscle kind of way – stop! The best guide to whether something is working for you or not is how it feels. The rough guide can be summarised as follows:

    1. Get advice for your particular circumstances
    2. Every woman is different
    3. Try things out
    4. Listen to your body
    5. You can still work hard but don’t overdo it.

    Consider exercise during pregnancy an opportunity for ‘maintenance’ rather than for ‘improving performance’.

 

Further Reading

Victorian Government Better Health Channel Guidelines:
http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Pregnancy_and_exercise

Sports Medicine Australia FactSheet:
http://sma.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/WIS-ExPreg.pdf

The website babycenter has some useful articles, including:
http://www.babycenter.com.au/a622/tips-for-a-safe-workout
http://www.babycenter.com.au/a637/when-not-to-exercise
 

References

[1] Lokey, E. A., Tran, Z. V., Wells, C. L., Myers, B. C., & Tran, A. C. (1991). Effects of physical exercise on pregnancy outcomes: a meta-analytic review. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 23(11), 1234-1239.

[2] Nascimento, Simony L.; Surita, Fernanda G.; Cecatti, José G. (2012). Physical exercise during pregnancy: a systematic review. Current Opinion in Obstetrics & Gynecology: December 2012 – Volume 24 – Issue 6 – p 387–394

[3] Horak, T. A., & Osman, A. (2012). Exercise in pregnancy: review. In Obstetrics and Gynaecology Forum (Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 13-16). Sabinet Online.

[4] Hay-Smith J, Mørkved S, Fairbrother KA, Herbison GP. (2008) Pelvic floor muscle training for prevention and treatment of urinary and faecal incontinence in antenatal and postnatal women. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD007471. DOI 10.1002/14651858.CD007471.

[5] Mørkved S, Bø K. (2014) Effect of pelvic floor muscle training during pregnancy and after childbirth on prevention and treatment of urinary incontinence: a systematic review. Br J Sports Med 2014;48:299-310 doi:10.1136/bjsports-2012-091758

[6] Brandao KL, Mottola MF, Gratton R, Maloni J. (2013) Bone status in activity-restricted pregnant women assessed using calcaneal quantitative ultrasound. Biol Res Nurs. 2013 Apr;15(2):205-12. doi: 10.1177/1099800411423807. Epub 2011 Oct 13.

[7] Salvesen KÅ, Hem E, Sundgot-Borgen J. (2012) Fetal wellbeing may be compromised during strenuous exercise among pregnant elite athletes. Br J Sports Med. 2012 Mar;46(4):279-83. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2010.080259. Epub 2011 Mar 10.

[8] Szymanski LM1, Satin AJ. (2012) Strenuous exercise during pregnancy: is there a limit? Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2012 Sep;207(3):179.e1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2012.07.021. Epub 2012 Jul 20.

[9] Poudevigne MS, O’Connor PJ. (2006) A Review of Physical Activity Patterns in Pregnant Women and Their Relationship to Psychological Health. Sports Medicine – January 2006, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 19-38

[10] Kramer MS, McDonald SW. (2006) Aerobic exercise for women during pregnancy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2006, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD000180. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD000180.pub2.

[11] Goodwin, A., Astbury, J. and McMeeken, J. (2000), Body image and psychological well-being in pregnancy. A comparison of exercisers and non-exercisers. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 40: 442–447. doi: 10.1111/j.1479-828X.2000.tb01178.x