Achieving the big lift

Date: Jun 20, 2016

If you haven’t done any or much weight training you could perhaps, and understandably, think there is only one way to approach it. If that’s the case, the theory would be, you can just pick up a weight and push it up over your head. Not so. There is a lot more to it than that and the thing is, with weight training you need to get it right as soon as possible before bad technique results in failure, disappointment, and the likelihood of injuries.

There are four basic components to any weight training lift with either free weights, machines, or just body weight. They are Posture, Focus, Core activation and Breathing. Although the four are all equally important the first in the sequence of preparing for the exercise or lift is posture. But remember each part of the sequence is just as important as the next.


The easiest way to describe good basic posture is to stand with your feet shoulder width apart, your back is straight, shoulders back and your head is in line with your back. There can be some minor variations with different exercises to create platforms within your body to lift from. Posture is a constant, so remember, your back is kept straight, shoulders back and your head is in line with your back, whether standing or lying.


It’s about thinking the lift through from posture to the lift, without being distracted by anything, and being able to focus on each part of the lift as the lift happens. And grimacing because you are not getting the full range of the lift is not helping. You’re grimacing because the weight is too heavy. Use less weight to regain focus and technique.

 Core activation.

It’s what drives the lift. You lift with the core. Your core centre is situated about 75mm below your belly button and it’s where several muscle groups come together. Hence core. Core muscles include the Rectus Abdominus, External Obliques, Internal Obliques, Transverse Abdominus, Quadratus Lumborum, Multifidus, and Erector Spinae. Core training is specific and requires its own set of exercises but there is some overlap with surrounding muscles. However when you are activating the core during weight training this will in effect, help to keep the core muscles exercised.


The correct breathing technique during the lift is as equally important as the other three components. The  sucking in of as much air as possible, and blowing it out, at the right time is crucial to getting oxygen to the muscles, plus being focused on full range of movement, plus using only the target muscles and of course, along with correct posture. The lift requires a lot of energy and getting plenty of oxygen to your muscles is very necessary. Remember, for the big lift, it’s a lot about sucking it in hard. And blowing it out hard.


Putting it into practice with a Barbell Bicep Curl and a Cable Tricep Pushdown.

Gyms versus Gyms

Date: May 20, 2016

There is a lot of them and the business of gyms is increasing although generally there doesn’t appear to be much change in the way of new types of equipment coming in. They are really only variations of similar machines in the various gyms and although some are more high tech they are still basically doing the same thing as the older model. Some of the gyms might have older free weights and machines, and new high tech cardio trainers. Others might have the reverse. But having all new equipment right across the board allows a gym description to be touted as having all the latest high tech equipment and so may attract more new members.

The bigger gyms obviously have more equipment and free space between the various resistance machines, benches, combined multi station/crossover stands, and barbell and dumbbell racks. Cardio equipment is Cycles, Treadmills, Rowing machines, and Cross Trainers all of which vary hugely in terms of pre-set programs and screens to match a program. Cycles with screens showing country and town scenes you are passing through are fun and go a long way to help pass the time.

Maybe the new members don’t know the ins and outs of good and not so good gyms until they have been there for 6 months and understand different model the machines, for instance, could vary the range of movement of a specific muscle or muscle group which could also vary their program and make the workout more interesting. Gyms with pre-loaded barbells are great because it take the hassle out of loading and unloading plates. So paying a bit more for a membership at a more suitable gym might give a member a smoother, more beneficial workout.

Every week new types of equipment are coming on the market. Of course most of it is very expensive and definitely out of the range of home gym  users and probably even smaller commercial gyms with less members. Hence the gyms that have the biggest range of free weights, machines, cardio equipment and 24/7 access are likely to have more members than the gyms with less. However, at the end of the day, it can still amount to a personal preference. Of course an experienced and focused trainer can, to a degree, overcome some of the lack of equipment simply using knowledge gained from years in the industry.

All of the gyms have a trainer or trainers whose experience can range from just out of a training facility to many years of experience across a wide range of types of training. It’s really about finding a gym with the right gear and a trainer who can assist according to your individual, specific, needs.


Choosing a gym according to equipment, cost, and your personality.

Combinations to achieve fitness

Date: Mar 20, 2016

Fitness starts from the feet up and so running could be considered to be the direct approach to fitness. And of course that would be right because anyone with half a brain knows running can be good for you. That is, of course, if you have the time, the motivation, and don’t suffer from any significant muscle or tendon problems in the legs and or glutes.

Cycling is also great for cardio fitness, and it can also be of benefit despite any minor leg injuries, and it doesn’t have to be out on the road. It can be in the gym which has the benefit of shelter from the elements. And it doesn’t pound your body, as happens with running, so you can stop making excuses. If running is out, get on your bike.

And there is swimming. A great sport and a great fitness activity, combining upper and lower body fitness and strength. So there you have it, combine all three activities and you’re a tri-athlete. Sounds easy enough.

However, every part of the body can be exercised to contribute to overall fitness and strength so, if you put the lower and upper body all together into a cardio/strength/fitness package you end up with the real deal. All athletes use weights and or resistance training to achieve the physical form that is necessary to be the best at their chosen sport. If you have the inherent physical makeup you might be able do it too. But it will take all your focus, and most likely, a lot more time than you have available.

 So what’s the next best thing?

Firstly figure just how important it is to you. Then, how much time can you realistically put aside from family, friends, and career, to achieve your goal. This is a serious stuff you are taking on, and it will require some serious time, and serious focus. The thing though, is that all that can be too much and probably unnecessary, for the average fitness enthusiast. However there can be a way to turn it down a notch, and still achieve a well above average fitness level, using a balance of combined cardio, strength, and fitness workouts.


Using your heart rate to weight train for fitness