Workout

Is Compression Gear Worth The Money?

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It feels like a flashback to the exercise videos of the 1980’s – compression wear is here! Although being ignored for quite some time they are now making their way back into the spotlight and into both women’s and men’s closets. They promise improved performance, simply by wearing them. Are they worth the money and is compression gear actually able to offer more than just a nice, tight butt?

 

WHILE WORKING OUT

New research shows that wearing compression gear can help with the overall performance of the muscle underneath. When working out, the muscle can actually get inflamed, and in response to such an inflammation the body increases fluids and sends white blood cells to the affected areas. An increase in pressure, swelling and pain is the consequence. Compression gear works by constricting the affected area; it puts pressure on the muscle. There is no fluid build up, no swelling, therefore no pain.
“Compression garments also may increase blood flow to the muscles, which removes creatine kinase, an enzyme in your muscles that leaks out after muscle damage and can cause the ache,” says Jessica Hill, M.S.c., a U.K.-based exercise scientist who authored a 2013 review on the topic, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

When tested on athletes compression wear actually showed little to no effect: A small group of athletes was told to wear tights, while another group was told to run in their normal exercising gear. After a 10km run blood samples were taken and after comparing oxygen intake and running gate they showed little difference.

compression_tights

 

POST WORKOUT

Again, research finds that tights can help you reduce muscle soreness after a workout and avoid dreaded pains. Spanish scientists had a group of soccer players wear a compression sleeve on one leg, and nothing on the other leg. Then the group of athletes had to do run downhill, which is an activity that triggers soreness in the muscle. The result: they showed 27% fewer markers of soreness in the leg wearing compression gear compared to the free leg.

Another study found that marathoners who wore compression tights in the 24-hours after crossing the finish line felt less sore, but not completely ache free. They did experiences faster muscle recovery.

 

CONCLUSION

So, should you fork out the money for gear that may or may not work? Research does not give clear results as to whether wearing compression gear actually helps athletes exercising.
The general rule regarding controversial results: It’s up to you. There doesn’t seem to be any harm in wearing compression gear and if at all, it will help you recover from an exhausting workout (rather than preventing it). Furthermore, the mind is the master. Placebos have been clinically proven to work! If it feels good, it is good, and reason enough to stick to it.

 

The 12 Minute Holiday Workout

… aka Twelve Minute Madness! The Easter period is almost like a mini Christmas: you want to have a big brekkie on Easter Sunday and/or Easter Monday? You want to indulge in scrambled, poached and fried eggs with bacon and hash browns, Shorizo, mushrooms, smoked salmon, avocado instead of having your protein shake? You want to go on an Easter egg hunt and come back with empty pockets, because you have eaten all the chocolate already on the way? If can answer at least one of these questions with YES, then you will have(!) to go through our AUSFIT approved holiday workout! But don’t worry, it only lasts twelve minutes…

 

“ON THE MINUTE”

What you need:

1x stopwatch/countdown timer

1x small grassed areabunny_stretch

 

What to do:

5-10 x Push Ups

5-10 x Squat Jumps

30-50 x Mountain Climbers (each leg counts)

 

Execution:

Begin by starting the countdown timer set at 1 min, then conduct the Push Ups, Squat Jumps and Mountain Climbers. This should take around 40sec to complete, gauge your reps accordingly. The remaining time left in the minute is your rest time. Conduct the same process for the remaining 11 minutes to complete the workout, maintaining maximum effort and strict form during all three exercises. Deep Push ups, powerful Squat Jumps and high Mountain Climbers!

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Know you have earned 1 (in words: one) Easter egg! Now adjust your workout according to chocolate consumption…

 

Understanding your body – Energy Systems

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Have you ever wondered where your energy comes from and how it works?

There are three metabolic pathways that provide the energy for all human action. These “metabolic engines” are known as the phosphagen, the glycolytic, and the oxidative pathway.

Total fitness requires competency and training in each of these three systems. Balancing the effects of these three pathways largely determines the how and why of the metabolic conditioning or “cardio” you usually do. Concentrating on only one or two systems to the exclusion of the others and not recognising the impact of excessive training in the oxidative pathway are arguably the two most common faults in fitness training. Time domain matching of task or sport to training is the first step to effective, legitimate strength and conditioning.

 

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THE SHORTY: ADENOSINE TRIPHOSPHATE AND PHOSPHAGEN SYSTEM

Ok, so yes, we all understand that energy is something we need, similarly to the way a car needs fuel. The only difference is a car will use the same energy system to go from 0 to 100km/h in 10sec, and sit on 100km/h for 5 hours, because it has the fuel ready to be supplied. Our body differs in the way that our fuel, Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), can only be stored in muscle cells in small amounts.

To replenish this low quantity fuel source we have the so called Phosphagen System – an anaerobic energy
system, which uses the stored ATP for bursts of energy, usually lasting less than 10 seconds. This system replenishes the ATP by converting Adenosine diphosphate (ADP) into ATP, using phosphocreatine. In short: the ADP needs one more Phosphate molecule to work, so it adds one.

An effective workout for this system is short, very fast sprints on the treadmill or bike lasting 5–15 seconds with 3–5 minutes of rest between each set. The long rest periods allow for complete replenishment of creatine phosphate in the muscles so it can be reused for the next interval. A workout could look like this:

  • 2 sets of 8 x 5 seconds at close to top speed with 3:00 passive rest and 5:00 rest between sets
  • 5 x 10 seconds at close to top speed with 3:00–4:00 passive rest

 

 THE AVERAGE: GLYCOLYTIC SYSTEM

The glycolytic energy system (another anaerobic system) draws on carbohydrates to create ATP for energy. This is a two-phase energy system where glucose (sugar) is broken down to form ATP and pyruvic acid molecules (lactic acid). It is the system used for relatively short periods of high-intensity work, lasting only a few minutes. After a few minutes of intense workout the accumulation of lactic acid will reach a point where pain and fatigue will begin to hinder performance. This is referred to as the lactate threshold.

This system can be trained using fast intervals lasting 30 seconds to 2 minutes with an active-recovery period twice as long as the work period (1:2 work-to-rest ratio). A workout could look like this:

  • 8–10 x 30 seconds fast with 1:00 active recovery
  • 4 x 1:30 fast with 3:00 active recovery

 

THE IN-FOR-THE-LONG-HAUL: OXIDATIVE SYSTEM

The oxidative system is the most complex energy system and the only aerobic energy system we have. The aerobic oxidative energy system utilizes carbohydrates, fats and proteins to generate ATP for energy. This is a three-stage system comprised of many steps, which are very complex in its chemistry. In order to keep it simple, let’s just say that the end result of the oxidative system is the production of ATP and water molecules. The complexity of this system, along with the fact that it relies on the circulatory system to supply oxygen, causes it to take longer to replenish than the anaerobic systems. It is the system used for long-term, low-to-moderate-intensity work lasting more than just a few minutes. It can be relied upon for long periods of work, making it the primary system used for endurance activities.

While the phosphagen system and glycolysis are best trained with intervals, because those metabolic systems are emphasized only during high-intensity activities, the aerobic system can be trained with both continuous exercise and intervals. A workout could look like this:

  • 60 minutes at 70%–75% maximum heart rate
  • 15- to 20-minute tempo workout at lactate threshold intensity (about 80%–85% maximum heart rate)
  • 5 x 3:00 at 95%–100% maximum heart rate with 3:00 active recovery

EXERCISE OF THE WEEK – The Push Up

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The beauty of the push up is that you can do it anywhere, anytime, and it is as good for girls as it is for guys. Push ups do not only target the arms and chest (which is not necessarily top priority for the ladies), but tighten the core and strengthen glutes, triceps and the shoulders, too. An additional plus: the body burns an enormous quantity of calories, as it works all of these muscle groups.

The nice thing about the good old push up? It is fairly straight forward: up and down, your working with your own body weight, now equipment needed. The bad thing about the push up? It is not necessarily exciting and, surprise(!), there is a lot you can do wrong. A lot. Precisely because it is such a simple exercise, your form is crucial. To achieve comparable results every time you perform them, push ups need to be done perfectly. Here’s a How-To and a How-Not-To:

STEP 1   Get into a plank position with hands planted directly under the shoulders – slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Ground the toes into the floor to stabilise the bottom half of the body. Engage the abs and back so the body is neutral.

STEP 2   Begin to lower the body — flat back, eyes focused about three feet in front of you to keep a neutral neck— until the chest nearly touches the floor. (Note: Some experts say a push-up isn’t a push-up unless the chest actually grazes the ground). Don’t let the butt dip or stick out at any point during the move; the body should remain flat from head to toe all the way through the movement. Draw the shoulder blades back and down, while keeping the elbows tucked close to the body, so the upper arms form a 45-degree angle at the bottom of the push-up position.

STEP 3   Keeping the core engaged, exhale as you push back to the start position as explosively as possible without leaving the ground (pow!). That’s one! Repeat for 10-20 reps or as many as can be performed with good form.

 

push_up

 

THE MISTAKES TO AVOID

The Mistake: Focusing too much on the upper body.
The Fix: Sure, push ups are known for strengthening the pecs, shoulders, and triceps, but they’re a total-body move. Pay attention to the glutes and legs, and keep ‘em tight! Tightening that tush can help keep the lower back from arching during the move. Instead of letting the bum flop down first (and compromising the lower back), hit the ground chest first, keeping the hips in the same plane as the shoulders. Imagine the belly button drawing in toward the spine to help keep the torso flat.

The Mistake: Flaring the arms.
The Fix: Letting those arms pop out to 90 degrees can be really tough on the shoulders. Instead of forming a “T” with the arms and body, keep the elbows tucked close to the body.

The Mistake: Forgetting to breathe.
The Fix: Just breathe. Concentrating on form and reps can make it easy to forget one of the most important parts of working out — breathing. Inhale on the way down, and exhale on the way back up.

The Mistake: Cheating Yourself.
The Fix: The key is quality over quantity. Make sure each push-up reaches a full range of motion by getting the chest as close to the floor as comfortable, then fully extending the elbows at the top. Having sloppy form will make for a less effective strengthening exercise that targets fewer muscles.

The Perfect Squat

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Squats are one of the most functional movements in our lives

Since we discovered our ability to squat as babies, we have done so, but as we get older its important to maintain correct posture and stance when performing squats, to not only get the most out of the movement, but to also minimize the risk of injury.

As the squat utilises more than one joint, it is classified as a compound exercise. A simple bodyweight squat uses almost every muscle group in the body – and if weight is added to the equation, it is a great functional exercise to strengthen your core, legs and back while increasing joint strength.

How to:

1. The Setup – Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips.  Your toes should be pointed slightly outward – about 5 to 20 degrees outward.

2. The Look – Look straight ahead and pick a spot on the wall or in the distance to focus on. Focus on this point for the entire squat, not looking down at the floor or up at the sky.

3. Lower phase– As you begin to lower into the squat bring your hands up to be parallel to the ground. Keep your spine in a neutral position. This step is best described in two movements:

Imagine your about to sit down onto a stool, this will ensure your spine remains in a neutral position and you wont accentuate the natural curve of your back or hunch as you lower.

Then finally lower in this position until your quads are parallel to the ground. Note: ensure your knees do not go over your toes, causing the weight to shift from the heel to the ball of your foot.  

4. Raise phase ­­– once your quads have reached the parallel position, its time to return to the standing position. This is done by driving through your heels, engaging your core and raising to the standing position. Note: remain conscious of the weight remaining at the heel and the knees not bending inwards during the raise.

Running Foods – What to eat before, during and after

chiaseeds

Everyone has different levels of comfort regarding eating around training, so it is important to trial what works best for you. In general, allow two to four hours before running and/or after eating a large meal, to allow time for your food to fully digest. After a smaller snack 30 minutes to two hours should be sufficient, depending on how much you have eaten.

berries

BEFORE

BERRIES: For energy boosting snacks before a run, try to focus on smaller carbohydrate snacks that have a reasonably high glycaemic index score (GI). A food’s GI measure is relative to how quickly it is digested and broken down into glucose, so high-GI foods are absorbed faster and less strain is placed on the gut. Berries are a great little energy booster, they are packed full of healthy sugar and also contain Vitamin C and potassium to help your muscles repair whilst you run. Potassium is also one of the key electrolytes that will help you body fight off those unwanted muscular cramps.

 

 

 

proteinbar

DURING

NATURAL POWER BARS OR GELS: When talking about foods and supplements to be taken during a run, it all depends on what length we’re talking about. If your going on a chilled run around the block, then you probably won’t need anything, just suck it up and push on as your body has enough energy to get you through. But if we’re talking about a full marathon, then you will have to look to supplements and food sources to keep you going. A great natural option is a handful of sultanas or natural power bars – these babies are packed full of sugar and good fats to keep you going. Alternatively, if you’re about to embark on a 20km+ run it is possible to stick to energy gels. These are full of sodium, potassium and magnesium; all the key electrolytes your body loses during such a run. They are also much more manageable than a handful of fruit.

 

chicken

AFTER

PROTEIN: After your run you probably won’t care what you eat, as long as its tasty and within grabbing distance. However, this is the most important part of your working meals. Your body has just depleted a lot of its minerals and vitamins and has worked a lot of muscle groups for a long period of time. Your post run meal has to be packed with as much protein, carbs, minerals and vitamins as possible – look to lean chicken breast, quinoa, avocado and green vegetables for nutrient dense recipes.

 

Exercise of the week – The Bird Dog

birddog2

A much as we all know how much you love a good 5-minutes-bridge every now and then its always important to go back to the basics, especially when it comes to core strength. One of the best core slash lower back strengthening exercises you can do is “The Birddog” (who comes up with these names!?). None the less it’s a great exercise that can be done quickly and at home or work with now equipment, as a warm up or cool down.

HOW TO: Begin on all fours with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Without arching back and keeping your head in line with the spine, extend your right arm and left leg up. Make sure your arm and leg are level with the back. Balance and hold this position for 5 seconds before returning to starting position. Now perform the same movement using the opposite arm and leg, perform 10 repetitions for each arm/leg combination for 3 sets. Be conscious of your heel position – it must travel higher than your head.

Note: When performing core exercises, breathing is key. Breath OUT on the contraction/initial phase, and IN on the release/rest phase.