Online training is a relatively new – and quickly growing – phenomenon in the health and fitness industry. More and more people have experienced its benefits first hand, but many people still wonder how, exactly, it works.

The COVID-19 pandemic skyrocketed the popularity of online fitness training for two main reasons: gyms closed and personal trainers needed a way to continue working, and people all over the world needed effective workout options they could do from home.

In April 2013 is when I started first online coaching business, working with people all over the globe. As many of my in-person clients were switching to online coaching, they asked a lot of questions like, “What is online coaching, exactly?”, “How does online training work?”, and “What’s in it for me?” I aim to answer all these questions for you here.

I’ve worked with clients in person since 2009, and online since 2013. Since 2009 I changed countries that I am based 5 times. It goes without saying that online coaching can benefit the coach in this way – I didn’t have to leave my clients behind, because location doesn’t matter! – but let’s focus on what you, the client, can get out of it!

What, exactly, is online coaching?

Online coaching is the most flexible, cost-effective, kick-ass way to reach your fitness goals in the known universe (OK, so I might be a bit biased). If you want to work out where and when it’s convenient for you – instead of relying on someone else’s location and availability – at the fraction of the cost of in-person fitness training, online coaching could be for you. You can get fit even if your schedule is crazy and your budget is tight. Pretty sweet, right?

Jonathan Goodman, founder of the Personal Trainer Development Center and the Online Trainer Academy, puts it this way:

“Online training is a new and exciting way for me to offer my clients what they need, when they need it, without the limitations and expenses of the gym so that I can offer a better, and more cost effective, service than an in-person trainer.”

Every coach runs their online programs a bit differently, but every one of us is providing our clients with fitness and nutrition guidance, detailed workout plans tailored to your specific goals, ongoing support, and a virtual kick in the ass.

It can be as simple as e-mail-based coaching, or as in-depth as video coaching sessions coupled with a specialized app you use to access workouts, track progress, and report to your coach.

So, what do I get with online coaching?

While I work with extremely wide range of clients my target is general people who simply want to improve their quality of life through health and fitness, the basic structure of my programs could apply to any type of online coaching. I’ll describe them here so you can get a sense of what to expect. With my coaching programs, you get customized workouts created specifically for you and your goals. Every client is different, so in 10 years of working with clients online, I’ve never given 2 clients the same workout program. I work with whatever each client prefers and has available, including their own homes, outdoors, or local fitness facilities.

You also get nutrition coaching where you’ll make changes one small – but powerful – habit at a time. We make sure that your nutrition supports your fitness and physique goals, including pre- and post-workout nutrition and any food-related lifestyle habits a client needs to work on. Oh, and I’m the master of how to implement “unhealthy foods” into your diet, so I teach some of that too 🙂

I don’t give clients prescribed meal plans for the simple reason that they don’t work. A diet plan is not empowering; it takes you away from your own decision-making process – which you need for long-term success. So basically you choose yourself what foods will be on your plan and how the structure of that plan will look like. I just put structure so your initial starting plan is not far from what you are used to.

With online coaching, you also get personal support from me daily. The level of communication ranges from e-mail and in-app text messaging for my most basic plan, to unlimited voice messaging, texting, and video exercise form analysis.

So, you’re basically getting a friendly virtual kick in the ass, access to world-class individual coaching and support, plus all the know-how you need to nail your fitness goals – whatever they may be.

The Ins and Outs of my Online Coaching

I’m not much of a “tech-y” person (and neither are many of my clients), so I aim to keep things as simple as possible while still delivering mind-blowing results. I use 3 apps in my online coaching: one each for fitness, nutrition, and communication. Scheduled coaching calls are done via phone or Zoom; whatever each client prefers.

Online fitness coaching involves ongoing and continuous support, not just scheduled sessions. If a client needs help, they can reach out at any time. I see details of every single workout my clients complete (and every one they miss!), and every single meal they eat.

Fitness coaching

For my beginners fitness coaching, I use a robust app called Trainerize, for more advanced clients I send detailed and advanced plan with various techniques and tasks to complete throughout the week, to make sure they maximize their results and performance based on past experience. My clients receive workouts, log them as they get done, and track their progress. I get automatic notifications whenever a client completes a workout (how’s that for accountability?!) and I can easily keep tabs on everyone’s progress. I also receive notifications when clients miss scheduled workouts! Clients also have the option of saving – or printing out – their workouts as PDFs if they like.

Logging a workout.

Nutrition coaching

I use my own advanced planning and two apps, MyFitnessPal and Carbon Coach (with which most people are already familiar) for nutrition coaching. My clients log their food and I can automatically see their entries without them having to send me anything. Keeps things nice ‘n’ simple.

During the week I keep tabs on each client’s daily food logs. Every Sunday, clients send me screenshots of their macro and calorie averages for the week.

Food logging in an app isn’t for everyone. A few of my clients (like those with histories of disordered eating patterns, for example) choose to track their meals in other ways, like sending me photos of everything they eat.

Who can benefit from online coaching?

A huge variety of people can benefit from online fitness and nutrition training. I’m one of those people myself! (I think it’s important that all coaches have their own coaches.) You may be an especially good candidate for online coaching if one or more of the following describes you:

You’re looking for a coach with specific expertise or within a specific niche

Great coaches often have very specific types of clients they’re best suited to working with, given their qualifications and experience. As a client, you can seek out a coach who precisely suits your needs, even if they live in a different city – or on the other side of the planet.

I work exclusively with people wanted to improve their body composition and have serious commitment. If you’re looking for a “quick fix” 90-day challenge, I’m not your “Bro”.

With online coaching, you can work with a kick-ass coach who suits your needs from anywhere in the world!

You live in a remote location

People who otherwise wouldn’t have access to personal training can now have a coach! For example, one of my clients lives in the middle of Outback Australia, 1000 km away from Darwin. The tiny town gets their food delivered every 2 weeks on a giant truck. This is not someone who’d normally have access to an in-person trainer, but she now gets customized workouts, video coaching sessions, progress tracking, exercise form checks, nutrition coaching, and a friendly kick in the ass to take her fitness to the next level.

Another client travels on weekly basis to different location due to work, and before he used to have multiple trainers in different countries, now I look after him wherever he goes and his progress has doubled!

You have a very full schedule

Scheduling is a non-issue with online coaching. Instead of being stuck with someone else’s schedule (i.e. a trainer at a gym), you work out when and where you want, but still get the benefit of a structured program and ongoing support from a coach.

We can also be much more flexible with your workout programs than a typical 60-minute gym session. Due to demanding work schedules, for example, many of my clients split their workouts into five 20-minute sessions per week. Others will do cardio in the morning and weight lifting in the evening. Still others will do most of their workouts for 45 minutes at the gym.

Sometimes a bit of experimentation is necessary (e.g. switching evening workouts to morning workouts to ensure they get done), but I create workouts to accommodate your schedule – no matter how full it might be.

You travel a lot

I create challenging (and quick) body weight workouts for clients who won’t have access to any equipment while travelling. One of my clients is travelling for work this week, and wasn’t sure what equipment her hotel’s gym would have. I got her to send me a quick video clip of the gym when she arrived, and I then put together a workout she could do during her stay there.

You want to work out at home

You don’t need to go to a gym, if you don’t want to! Many of my clients train in their own homes for various reasons, like taking care of young children, living in remote locations with no gyms available, or just simple convenience.

You can skyrocket your fitness with the right set of body weight moves coupled with a few simple (and inexpensive) pieces of equipment. My clients’ home gyms range from a $20 set of resistance bands to a full garage gym with a squat rack and bench press.

You’re on a budget

Online coaching is cost effective. You’re not paying a coach a high hourly rate (plus club overhead), so you can get better training at a fraction of the price. Rather than booking hour-long sessions at the gym each week, online coaches can provide ongoing (and better!) support as you work toward your goals.

What type of client might not do well with online coaching?

If you’re the type of person who needs an appointment with a trainer at a gym in order to work out, online coaching might not work for you. You’re gonna need some level of self-motivation and self-discipline to get the most out of online coaching. You get structure, direction, support, and accountability of course, but it’s still up to you to get done what you’ve set out to do. 

Online coaching is a great way of empowering yourself to take ownership of your own fitness and build bulletproof health habits. It could be what you need to level-up your fitness!

For most guys, a chest workout involves alternating between three chest exercises: bench press completed in the flat, incline and decline positions. But it doesn’t have to be that way. 

There are so many chest exercises and workouts to try, from bodyweight staples to twists on dumbbell classics, that building an impressive pair of pecs doesn’t have to be boring and monotonous at all! In fact, mixing up your workouts will mean you’re hitting you chest from more angles than the humble bench press, as good as it is, is capable of. Doing that will result in a bigger, stronger upper torso, which in turn will (obviously) make you more adept at pushing heavy objects — from barbells to broken-down cars. 

I also know that part of the reason you’re reading this guide is because having a bigger chest just looks impressive, and that’s a scientific fact. A study found that women’s, as well as men’s, perception of the ideal male body included a muscular, wide chest circumference that creates an overall V-shaped torso.

Your Major Chest Muscles, Explained

If you want huge pecs you’ll need to challenge all of your chest muscles. But, you can’t target all of your chest muscles if you don’t know what they are, can you? To set you on the path to bigger pecs, here’s a quick guide to your major chest muscles.

  • Pectoralis Major: The pectoralis major makes up most of your chest muscle mass. It is large and fan shaped, and is composed of a sternocostal head and a clavicular head.
  • Pectoralis Minor: The pectoralis minor lies underneath the pectoralis major. Its job is to help pull the shoulder forward and down.
  • Serratus Anterior: Located at the side of the chest wall, you’ll notice the serratus anterior in action when you lift weights overhead.

Why Isn’t My Chest Growing?

Let’s first go over some of the reasons why your chest might not be growing. For instance, if you’re not using correct form or warming-up properly, you may struggle to pack on size.

Growth struggles may also be caused by your technique. Pumping out fast reps is unlikely to be giving your chest the muscle-building stimulus it needs. A study published in The Journal of Physiology found that slow, controlled lifts performed to fatigue produced greater rates of muscle growth than the same movement performed rapidly.

Similarly, the British Journal of Sports Medicine proved, across 31 studies, that high-load dynamic warm-ups greatly enhanced power and strength performance, as ‘warm’ muscles have greater flexibility and are more conditioned to generate explosive power.

How to Activate Your Chest Muscles

As well as varying your rep ranges, adjusting your lifting ‘tempo’ — the pace at which you lower and raise the weights — and working different parts of your chest(like your upper chest), it’s also important to warm-up before your go-to chest workout. With 45 per cent of regular gym goers having suffered an injury, opening up your body with mobility and stretching will ensure easier lifts and considerably safer workouts. 

Dynamic warm-ups are generally considered to be the best approach to a pre-workout warm-up. Consisting of movements with a progressive range of motion that mimic the exercise you’re about to do, you’ll be lengthening your muscles and preparing them to work under heavier loads.

What to Eat for a Bigger Chest

As any fitness zealot will know, working out is only half the battle. To really maximise your efforts into building a bigger chest, you’ll need to fuel yourself appropriately. Even if you’ve hit every workout consistently and methodically, your diet will help build a more healthy, rounded physique, with protein taking priority. Don’t believe me? A study published in the journal Nutrients found that “protein intake was shown to promote additional gains in lean body mass beyond those observed with resistance exercise alone.”

Currently, dietary guidelines suggest that you should eat 0.8g of protein per kg of bodyweight every day. To build muscle, however, you’ll need to double that, consuming around 1.6 to 2.0g per kilo of bodyweight. If you weight 80kg, for example, that’s 128g to 160g of protein per day

Don’t neglect the carbs, either — by concentrating your intake before and after exercise (a bagel with breakfast and a banana with your post-workout protein shake, for example) will ensure you have enough fuel to push harder, lift heavier and last longer during a workout, while ensuring your stores of glycogen don’t deplete and leave you crawling into the shower. Also, meal prep and learning to count macros will help track your nutrition in your mission to build a bigger chest!

The Ultimate 3 Week Chest Workout

Below I attached a basic “3 WEEK CHEST WORKOUT”. Try it out for 3 weeks, twice a week and let me know what you think! This is a generic workout based on general population, if you want more advanced and individualized program I would be more than happy to help!

Hit me up through a form in a Contact Us section.

One of many battles that I won!

Achilles, pandemic and lockdowns, bankruptcy and loss of assets, no employment, change of country, betrayal. F**k, the last 18 months were not easy for all of us! We all have our own battles to fight!

18 months ago I completely ruptured my achilles tendon while playing tennis. I am a big guy, 120kg at a time of the injury, and lateral movement was a bit too much for my ankle. Never-mind I played basketball through out my whole life.

I was shocked and couldn’t believe this is really happening! It didn’t hurt that much, felt like someone hit me with a baseball bat right into my calf, and in that moment that was exactly what I thought, I even looked around to see who actually had audacity to hit me, as soon as my achilles “popped” I knew what it was, but in my head I kept saying: NO! This can’t be happening!

To me that meant unemployment for who knows how long, all my scheduled holidays had to be cancelled (I still went to Mykonos with a cast and crutches and had time of my life), I knew life has to change immediately and I didn’t want to accept it.

I came back home, still drove automatic with one leg (left), still was not acknowledging what happened, could not move my ankle, it was just hanging off. Woke up in the morning and tried to go to work like all this was a bad dream. My Boss at a time saw me, he was like “Bro, you can’t walk, your leg is blue, you have to go and get it checked, please, you can’t keep working like this”

So I went and got it checked and it was worse than expected, complete rupture with 5inches gap between my calf and tendon.

Had two surgeries within a space of 2 weeks. Stayed in a cast for 8 weeks and then was suppose to stay in a boot for another 8, but luckily due to being active and healthy all my life after 4 weeks boot was removed and I began my recovery.

While in a cast I just couldn’t stay still, felt bad, felt that all the years perfecting my physique and working so hard day in and day out will go to waste. I kept training every single day, most of the days multiple times, after 4 weeks I was back doing Personal Training at the top facility in Kuwait, Yes PT with crutches.

Recovery was a B**CH, zero mobility in the ankle, it just wouldn’t move, couldn’t walk on or stand on my right foot. I worked as a PT at a time, so walking throughout the gym to meet a client was a biggest challenge. Kept working and kept grinding, recovery was super slow. After 6 months I was able to start moving some weights, my squat 8rm became 40kg, couldn’t lift my body with my calves, not even talking about jumping. Took me one year to even do a 12inch jump.

Worked out every single day, legs 3 times a week, just to try and get them back to were they once were, I’m still not 100% but finally getting closer to where I want to be! Never stopped and never will!

So will you give up or keep fighting? Will you surrender or continue working your ass off? 

Your mind is the most powerful tool in the universe! Use it! 

Life will constantly keep throwing challenges Your way, but it is up to you to stand up and fight! 

Every failure is a lesson, every challenge is a new experience! Learn, recover, grow, adapt, adjust, recalibrate, reengage and go back into the fight! 

You never fail until you stop trying! 

KEEP FIGHTING! Life does get better! I know!

In 2021, technological advances seem to happen almost every day. We are able to do things more efficiently and accurately with better precision because of new software developments every year. One technology has entered the fitness industry that has been overwhelmingly apparent is fitness trackers.

Whether it’s a Fit Bit, an Iwatch, a Garmin or whatever brand catches your eye, trackers are becoming more common for people to wear, and brands release newer versions of their products every year. Consumers are able to track steps, heart rate, workouts and even challenge friends or family to see who gets more activity in the week. It seems that the possibilities are becoming almost endless!

Are you on the fence regarding getting a tracker? Have you used one in the past and for whatever reason decided not to continue? Or do you swear by it to track your daily movement? Wherever you may be in this continuum there are some things to consider regarding these pieces of technological equipment.

Positives

One major positive aspect about fitness trackers is that they help with motivation. You receive or purchase this new gadget and of course it is going to be exciting to use. If perhaps exercise isn’t something you are keen on doing, it has now been made a little more exciting. This is awesome! Trackers can definitely help with jump starting that initial desire to become more active and health conscious.

Accountability now becomes a part of the equation. Not only are you being accountable to yourself, but a lot of devices allow people of the same brands to be accountable to each other. For example, with Fit Bits you can create different challenges by syncing with others to see who can get the most steps in a week. With an Apple watch, you can see who completes their workouts in real time. 

Fitness trackers also allow us to do more than just track steps or calories. They allow us to use the device as a watch, answer text messages or even respond to calls. Of course not everyone needs these specifications, but the desired features and budget you have will impact which tracker you decide to get. The fancier specs, the higher the cost. 

Structured vs Unstructured Exercise

While there are benefits to having a tracker, there are some things to keep in mind. If your main goal is to specifically track exercise and steps it is important to know the difference between the two.

Per Canadian guidelines for exercise, moderate to vigorous activity of at least 150 minutes per week or at least 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week are the standard recommendations for health. The biggest thing to note is that exercise is defined by the intensity of which we work. Getting a lot of steps in a day does not necessarily imply that exercise was done at a moderate to high intensity. Some examples of lower intensity or unstructured exercise would be walking from your desk to the lunch room, walking from your car to the store or walking around your home completing chores. Although you may get 10 000 steps a day, it doesn’t necessarily equate to your total exercise time in the recommended intensity range.

The idea behind tracking steps is to reduce the amount of sedentary behavior and have people think about increasing their overall daily activity which is separate from exercise. A person can be generally active by participating in leisure sports like curling or golf however the remaining hours of the day are dominated with sitting. Adopting a healthier lifestyle not only involves exercise hours, but also to limit the amount we sit in addition to that – and that’s what these trackers allow people to be conscious of.  If people are able to regularly hit a certain step count by limiting their sitting then the goal is over time is that they are able to adopt certain habits that make them less sedentary and more active. If we are able to regularly adopt those habits then over time, being active becomes second nature. 

Now looking back at those guidelines, exercise depends on intensity. A fitness tracker allows us to track an individual’s heart rate. During an exercise session an individual should be able to see their heart rate slowly increase at the start while they warm up, remain elevated for a certain amount of time during their actual exercise portion and be able to gradually see it lower during a cool down phase.  Generally speaking over time as an individual increases their fitness level, it may take a higher intensity exercise session to reach that same heart rate. For example, if an individual goes for a 30 minute walk and their heart rates average 145 bpm throughout that session, over time as the individual starts to become more active in perhaps a month or two their heart rate may average 120 bpm. This means that their cardiovascular system is more efficient and doesn’t need to work as hard for that same workload. When it comes to exercise, they are now able to increase their intensity to reach that heart rate, like increasing pace to a jog or a run. 

Increased heart rate is a normal physiological response during acute exercise.  Not only are people are able to see their exercise intensity by their heart rates, they are able to see a trend of those sessions over a period of time. Since Canadian recommended guidelines recommend a moderate to vigorous intensity level for exercise, we are able to track if we are pushing ourselves hard enough.  An individual’s progression can be seen if we are able to track it over time. 

For those allergic to technology, fear not: an individual knows if they are progressing whether have a tracker or not by simply asking themselves – “is this easier than it once was when I first started?”

Signs of calories burn on the stairs at office, healthy stairway for health and diet concept

Are Trackers Accurate?

As stated earlier, many fitness devices track planned and structured exercise. During workouts, you’re able to see things like heart rate, overall caloric expenditure and overall duration of the workout. That’s a lot of measuring that one device can do, but now the big question is: how accurate are they?    

A study done by Stanford looked at seven different fitness trackers. They concluded they were fairly accurate at measuring was heart rate with less than a 5% margin of error (due to being able to get a direct measurement via the LED light measuring blood flow in the capillary veins). However they found that the largest margin of error was measuring energy expenditure; or in other words, how many calories are burned. 

Another study done by Bender et. al (2017) measured fitness trackers and the accuracy of the  measures they track. This study found that measurements such as step count vary as much as 26% from tracker to tracker. Other measurements such as caloric expenditure are dependent on the tracker itself, the manufacturers company and the algorithm used for that specific measurement. Due to major differences between brands, this study concluded that trackers should not be heavily relied to determine health behaviors.

What does this mean?

If you measure how many calories you burn a day and use that number to determine other health behaviors like your nutritional choices that perhaps might not be the best choice. “I burned 500 calories, I can afford eating that chocolate” is perhaps a familiar type of statement you might hear from someone that heavily uses trackers to determine their nutritional choices. Using those numbers from the device may not be a good idea based on the fact that the numbers your tracker is giving you are probably not 100% accurate. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t track your caloric expenditure, but these discrepancies are something to be aware of and shouldn’t drive other health decisions. Instead, flip the script and use the numbers and statistics that from the device to motivate us to keep going. For example, measuring consistency (as an example, exercising three times two weeks in a row) can prompt further motivation.

Conclusion

Fitness trackers are without a doubt a trend that can be useful in the fitness industry. They are user friendly, promote motivation in your activity, can do a lot more than just track steps like double up as a watch and let’s be honest, a very good gift idea! However, it is important to realize that the numbers you see may not be 100% accurate when it comes to energy expenditure. Just note that at the end of the day, no technology is perfect but feel free to try them, find one you enjoy and have fun with them. 

References:

Bender, C. G., Hoffstot, J. C., Combs, B. T., Hooshangi, S., & Cappos, J. (2017). Measuring the fitness of fitness trackers. 2017 IEEE Sensors Applications Symposium (SAS). doi: 10.1109/sas.2017.7894077

Shcherbina, A., Mattsson, C., Waggott, D., Salisbury, H., Christle, J., Hastie, T.,  Ashley, E. (2017).

Accuracy in Wrist-Worn, Sensor-Based Measurements of Heart Rate and Energy Expenditure in a Diverse Cohort. Journal of Personalized Medicine7(2), 3. doi: 10.3390/jpm7020003

It’s no secret that the word “functional” is one of the “big words” in fitness industry today. Despite the varying opinions on what some are defining as “functional movements”, it usually always gets narrowed down to activities of daily living.

There are 6 basic fundamental activities of daily living:

  • Bathing: getting into and out of a tub or shower
  • Dressing: putting on any necessary items of clothing, as well as undressing
  • Transferring: getting into and out of a bed, chair, etc.
  • Toileting: getting to and from the toilet
  • Continence: maintaining control of bowel and bladder function
  • Eating: the ability to feed yourself

Performing most ADLs (activities of daily living) require our major joint systems to have a certain amount of flexibility, strength, coordination, and balance to perform each task. With this being said, below are 3 exercises that would all help us age gracefully as we aim for the best quality of life possible.

There are fitness enthusiasts that “live to exercise.” Not everyone is like that. You don’t have to necessarily live to exercise, but you probably need to exercise to live.

Deadlift

We are constantly “picking things up and putting them down”. How many times have we heard about that person’s “back going out” when they went to pick up something off the floor or getting in and out of a chair?

It starts with a good, deadlift/hip hinge. Your hips travel back with a softening of the knees. Then, your knees bend more as you continue lowering yourself down onto the chair. Yes, I also just described the squat (which is really just a different version of a deadlift and vice versa). A good squat starts with a good hinge. Otherwise, it’s the guy who needs to hold onto something in front of them, bend his spine forward, and flop down quickly onto a seat.

We are constantly picking things up and off the floor, whether that be our children, pets, a box full of certain supplies, a laundry basket, and the list goes on.

What’s also interesting to note is that the deadlift makes most lists, whether it be for topics ranging from longevity, to max strength, toning, or stability. Success often leaves clues. If you keep hearing how beneficial the deadlift is on a variety of levels, then there’s good reason to include it in your programs.

Carry

And sometimes, not only do you need to pick something up, but then you need to carry it around as well.  Groceries bags, that laundry basket you just picked up, or a suitcase and a bag when you are rushing to your flight at the airport, these are more of the common examples. While travelling around the world I have taken tons of flights over the years, and the amount of people who cannot even put their luggage in an overhead compartment is phenomenal.

There are many different types of carrying variations. Farmer, unilateral, waiter, rack, and mixed are some of the most popular. Just as life will always ask us to do something different, it is important to use a variety of these drills.

Get Up (Get Down)

How many grandparents can easily get down to the ground to play with their grandkids? How easily can any of us get up from the floor without grabbing on to all available apparatuses, while at the same time throwing variety of facial expressions and holding our backs, knees, and shoulders in agony?

In a study published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology (2014), Brazilian physician Claudio Gil Araujo had more than 2,000 patients ages 51 to 80, all participate in an exercise program at Clinimex Exercise Medicine Clinic in Rio de Janeiro. With this, he created the SRT, the sitting-rising test.

Araujo noticed that many of his patients, particularly older people, had trouble with ordinary motions, such as bending down. As people age, reduced muscle power and loss of balance can greatly increase the risk of dangerous falls.

There are many ways to exercise with ground to standing drills. The Turkish get up is one of the most notorious exercises for such a goal. Start with 1/4 get up and progress gradually!

Summary

In the end, there is one word that it all comes back to: movement.

We learned way back in middle school science class that things in motion stay in motion, and things at rest stay at rest.

Due to the recent pandemic HIIT became a go to training method for all the home training workouts and videos floating around.

A bonus for HIIT was the confirmation that even though results in body composition change were similar, it can be achieved in more time-efficient manner than moderate intensity, continuous training.

So I will give you few points and you can decide for yourself if it’s suitable for You!

PROS

It makes you younger

Research at the Mayo Clinic suggested that HIIT can actually reverse the signs of ageing at a cellular level. This was found to be due to improved mitochondrial function, a decline of which is common in older adults and improved protein synthesis that enhanced energetic function and led to hypertrophy, thereby countering the impact of sarcopenia.

Robinson et al, Enhanced Protein Translation Underlies Improved Metabolic and Physical Adaptations to Different Exercise Training Modes in Young and Old Humans, Cell Metabolism March 2017

Short bursts of HIIT (85% of maximum working heart rate) improve cholesterol and blood sugar among type 2 diabetes patients more significantly than continuous low intensity exercise (working at 65%). This is somewhat revolutionary as, historically, diabetes management programs have focused primarily on low intensity exercise.

Researchers were unclear why shorter bursts of high intensity exercise lead to more significant improvements compared with continuous low intensity exercise other than to suggest that high intensity exercise uses energy in a different way.

Francois and Little, Effectiveness and Safety of High Intensity Interval Training in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes, American Diabetes Association, January 2015

 

The feel-good factor

HIIT results in increased endorphin release in the brain, which plays a role in dampening physical and emotional stress. Comparing moderate and high intensity exercise, researchers have identified that HIIT significantly increases the release of endorphins and other opioid peptides in the brain areas controlling pain and emotion.

It is suggested this exercise-induced endorphin release determines whether we maintain motivation during exercise, pushing ourselves to continue working out despite exhaustion, thereby predisposing better results.

As opposed to continuous exercise, HIIT offers a sense of accomplishment after each bout of effort, and the recovery bout allows a moment to reflect positively on the work done, but also acts as something to look forward to going into the next effort bout. The end result is that the protocol is perceived as being more pleasant.

Saanijoki et al, Opioid Release after High-Intensity Interval Training in Healthy Human Subjects. Neuropsychopharmacology, July 2017

 

Beat the cheat meal

Cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes, are one the leading cause of death worldwide, and it’s known the foundations of these conditions are formed during youth. An impairment in the function of blood vessels is thought to be the earliest event in this process, and this is known to occur in the hours immediately after consuming a high fat meal. However, the good news is, HIIT before a high fat meal can potentially offer a preventive quality.

Researchers compared HIIT against continuous moderate intensity exercise on blood vessel function in adolescent subjects after they had a high fat milkshake. It showed that approximately 25 minutes of moderate intensity cycling prevented the fall in blood vessel function after the high fat meal, but just 8 minutes of high intensity cycling not only prevented this fall, but improved blood vessel function.

Bond et al, Exercise Intensity and the Protection from Postprandial Vascular Dysfunction in Adolescents, American Journal of Physiology – Heart and Circulatory Physiology, March 2015

 

CONS

hand-with-thumb-down

 

Could be too challenging

Dr Paul Bedford, an internationally renowned retention specialist, says the harder you work some clients, the sooner they’ll leave you. Unless managed carefully, HIIT workouts could have a negative impact on the likelihood of them sticking to an exercise regime, particularly those new to exercise. Gym floor surveys by a multi-site operator established that members who’d been exercising for some time were keen to step up and try HIIT, but new exercisers who thought it looked fun, discovered the discomfort they experienced was so great, many only did it once.

Abigail Harris, Pain Response, Health Club Management, June 2019

Risk of injury

A study that shows there has been an increase in the number of injuries since 2007 links the increase with the growing popularity of HIIT. A team analyzed records in the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System from 2007 to 2016, noting a total of nearly 4 million injuries. They found a steady increase in gym injuries (60,000 per year), which mirrored the growth in the number of people doing HIIT workouts.

In its conclusion, the report states that given increases in injuries related to HIIT workouts, participants should be educated on how to minimize them. Since knee and ankle sprains are most common, pre-strengthening and technique focus sessions would be of great value to new clients.

In addition, since it’s suggested that just one extreme indoor cycling class can be enough to trigger rhabdomyolysis, where muscle fibers break down and their contents leak into the bloodstream and can in turn lead to kidney failure, it’s important that participants understand the difference between ‘high’ and ‘dangerously high’.

Rynecki et al, Department of Orthopedics, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Injuries sustained during high intensity interval training: are modern fitness trends contributing to increased injury rates? The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, Feb 2019

Too much of a good thing

If HIIT produces great results, then surely more frequent workouts will lead to even better results? Seems logical but it’s not the case according to recent research that suggests any more than 40 minutes of HIIT in a maximum training zone, per week, can reduce performance and potentially result in a greater risk of injury.

The study measured effects of HIIT by examining cortisol and testosterone concentrations in saliva samples and it appears those who do more than 40 minutes of HIIT per week are unable to produce a positive stress response.

Gottschall, Penn State University, 2018 American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting

 

Not suitable for Complete Beginners and Elite athletes

Following HIIT workouts, beginners showed fragmentation of the ryanodine receptor, which leads to impairment of the muscle cell’s ability to contract. However, the cells react to this stress by increasing their endurance capacity, making them better able to withstand the next bout of HIIT.

Unfortunately, endurance athletes don’t get the same benefits due to having developed a more effective antioxidant system that dampens this effect. It’s true to say that some elite athletes might be too fit for HIIT.

Place et al, Ryanodine receptor fragmentation and sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca2+ leak after one Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, November 2015

 

June 1st is just around the corner. It is a new moth, lockdowns are being slowly lifted all around the world and situation regarding the Covid-19 starting to slowly improve. Also some of you will be celebrating Eid in just few days marking the end Ramadan. So the time is just perfect to mentally be ready for new beginnings, goals and changes. So let’s start month of June with the bang! I have listed some information on how to start your fitness and journey and make it a sustainable lifestyle change.

I will show you a strategy called “Four Pillars Of Habits”, this is a method that I always use with most of my clients in order to build a sustainable lifestyle change. But before we get into that lets first ask yourself why you are doing this?

Choose your why

There is no right or wrong answer, so long as it comes from a place of self-love and a genuine desire to do something for yourself, as opposed to external pressures and others’ expectations. 

For example, by trying to lose weight to match social expectations without genuine internal motivation, you aren’t likely to succeed. Instead, you could think of a more practical reason that’s going to significantly improve your life in a certain way – for instance, to feel more “fresh” when you wake up in the morning or simply to look more “like yourself” if you have gained weight due to stress at work and aren’t fully comfortable in your current body. 

Likewise, you may not be as interested in changing your body shape at all, but instead you may want to improve performance-related parameters, being that endurance or strength. In this case, any appearance-related goal is going to be useless. 

Remember, any reason is acceptable, whether it is appearance-driven or health-related, so long as it’s your goal and not someone else’s! Trying to achieve someone else’s ideals is exhausting and usually unsuccessful, so focus on your health and happiness instead. 

Build confidence through action

Self-doubt can be one of the biggest barriers to starting, or re-starting, your fitness journey. If you’ve tried before and experienced a setback, you may feel like you’ve failed. 

The first thing that you need to remember is that you haven’t failed! Fitness is a journey with many twists and turns. Practising gratitude can help you to overcome any self-doubt and focus on the positive action you can take right now.

Four Pillars Of Habits

#1 Foundation

The Foundation is just some baseline things that are going to set you up for success. They are so foundational that you could say, they are requirements for a healthy and productive life.

  • Getting enough sleep
  • Getting enough exercise
  • Creating external order (tidy up!)
  • Managing eating and drinking

These elements are about creating an optimal environment, one that will help you be productive and successful. If you feel like you’ve mastered these Foundation elements, great! If not, don’t worry. It’s more productive to focus on one habit instead of many. Moreover, though, you can use one habit to change and improve other Foundation elements easily.

What is keystone habit? keystone habit is a habit that improves other areas of your life naturally because you are intrinsically motivated and want to support the keystone habit. For example you might want to go to bed earlier today because you want to do well in tomorrows early fitness class.

“When I worked out, I wanted to eat better. Even though I could have rewarded myself with chocolate bars and ice cream, I felt like eating real, healthy foods. I also slept better. And when I was awake, I seemed more productive. Especially in the hour or two after working out, when my mind seemed to think clearer and my writing was crisper. Thoughts flowed easily.” — James Clear

The body craves what you give it and this goes both ways.

If you are having trouble with the Foundation elements, I recommend moving forward with your fitness routine as it may help you with some of the other aspects. Let’s take sleep as an example. We only have so much energy; if you get up early to go the gym, even if you haven’t had a solid seven to eight hours of sleep, you will inevitably be tired that evening. Exhaustion and consistency around bedtimes will help you get into a more regular sleep routine. Maybe your workout will be hard, perhaps you’ll be tired during the day, but these are temporary sacrifices. What you don’t want to do is wait until your sleep improves enough where you can justify going to the gym. If your sleep never gets better, then you never go to the gym.

#2 Accountability

You do better when you know someone’s watching — even if you’re the one doing the watching. — Gretchen Rubin

There are two kinds of accountability, internal and external. Internal accountability is being accountable to oneself. External accountability is being accountable to someone or something else. For many people, especially when it comes to exercise, external accountability is most helpful, but there are ways to do both, listed below.

One of the most popular methods of external accountability is a workout partner or just someone who helps monitor your gym goal. In practice, you can share a workout calendar with a friend who is checking in on you, or use an app to create transparency around your progress with a person or group of people. Working out with a partner is a great incentive to get to the gym — but if you can’t find one, don’t let this stop you from moving forward.

Here are some external and internal accountability methods to consider.

External Accountability Methods

  • Sign up for weekly classes
  • Get a personal trainer
  • Get an accountability partner
  • Get a workout buddy

Internal Accountability Methods

  • Set a specific time based goal
  • Have a clear and specific workout plan that supports your goal
  • Put your gym clothes on as soon as you get out of bed
  • If going to the gym in the evening, pack your gym bag the night before
  • Setup a (healthy) reward system for going to the gym

Hiring a coach is an excellent method of external accountability that can help you with clarifying your goal and setting up a specific workout plan for you. Then, all you have to do is show up and do the work!

#3 Monitoring

Monitoring (or tracking) can be helpful when you’re trying to change or adopt a new habit; it allows you to have real data to understand how you’re doing.

I keep this in mind at all times:

Clarity creates motivation
Tracking creates awareness
Reporting creates accountability

Tracking creates awareness. One genuine experience I observed is when I (for a short time) counted calories. I weighed my food and ate mainly the same thing every day, which made tracking easier. It was part of my health and fitness plan to stay within a specific caloric window each day. When you track at this level of detail, you start to understand how easy it is to overeat or undereat. More importantly, you have excellent data to inform your journey. You don’t need to get this detailed, but there are a few ways you can easily apply monitoring to fitness.

Use the Don’t Break the Chain Method

This method also called the “Seinfield Strategy” is a method where for each day that you work towards a goal or an activity, you mark that day on a physical calendar. It’s a visual habit tracker. People use this method to keep track of stuff that they want to every day (“don’t break the chain”). However, you can easily modify it to suit your needs. If you gym goal is four days a week, just don’t break that chain. It’s a great way to stay motivated and to also celebrate your success, visually!

Fitness Trackers

I love wearing a fitness tracker just to know how many steps I’ve taken during the day. In addition to working out, I have a target of 10k steps per day. Monitoring in this way helps me get up and go for short walks during the day and gives me the data I need to take action.

Other Methods

The method of monitoring you choose depends on your goal. If you want to lose weight, then monitor your weight, if you want to build muscle then monitor that. Some people like to take weekly or monthly photos or keep an exercise journal. Think about what methods will work for you. Also, what a great way to have some internal accountability!

Remember: you can manage what you monitor!

#4 Scheduling

Scheduling is merely putting an activity on your calendar. It has this magical way of making things happen. When something is in your schedule, you’re more likely to do it. Some people are even using calendar instead of to do list.

One of the most common reasons or as I say excuses that people end up sedentary and skip being active is lack of time. I genuinely believe that even in a busy life, one can find the time to exercise. Also, you make time for what’s important to you. If you really can’t find time or energy for a workout then go for a walk outside your house, also especially during this pandemic there are so many home workouts and ideas floating around for example let’s take our June Restart Challenge it is based on bodyweight exercises that require a minimal amount of room and no equipment.

The Power of Yes

When talking about exercise, most people say “I’ll try to do it.” I think that’s a self-defeating way to go about it! Why try to do it, just do it. There is power in saying yes.

Keep Moving

There are opportunities throughout each day to move. Take the stairs, walk up the escalator, go for walks and so on. Look for opportunities in the day to get more steps in and keep moving.

Good luck with your fitness journey and if you need any help we are here to help!

“Every habit has a reward: when our brain starts to anticipate and crave the reward, it makes the behavior automatic”. — Fast Company