Sunday, 19 January 2014

How to get the most out of your gym.

If you read my last post, I mentioned about the current wave of offers to entice you to join the gym. Hopefully, I helped you to get some clarity as to whether joining the gym is the right thing for you to do. So if you are at the gym, here are a few pointers to help you in the right direction.

The body is great at adapting. It is what we are best at. With the correct level of stress and recovery, your body is quite remarkable at adapting to most things thrown at it. Where we suffer or don't hit goals is we don't use the correct amount of stress or we don't use the correct amount of recovery.

In this example, exercise is the main stressor. If you are a cardio person, the main stressor will be the length of your workout time and the intensity you work at. You want some stress, but unless you are training for an event which requires long distance work, you don't need to do cardio for an hour in the gym. If you perform a workout several times per week, the total time you spend in the gym can get shorter. If you run twice a week, you might want to do 20-40 mins. If you train more than this, I would suggest you do 10-20 mins of continuous work. You might be asking what do you do for the remainder? Weight's circuits, warming up and some trunk/core work would be best.

If pure weights are your thing, recovery is the key here. It's difficult to over exert yourself in a weights session as you're limited by how much you can lift. However, what you need to take into consideration is when you next train that muscle and how hard you train it. When I used to train at Crystal Palace with powerlifters and GB athletes, they trained 5+ days per week. However, they had lighter sessions as part of their programme. A concept alien to most guys in the gym. This only really applies if you train more than twice a week. Aim for a day off in between tough workouts. Some of my clients train twice a day so it is possible to train with weights many times in the week. However, you need to ensure that you don't do two mammoth sessions back to back. In fact, you will find that your lighter sessions help you get bigger and stronger. Particularly if you work on mobility and weaknesses. The hardest thing will be reining in our ego and not caring about others judging what you are lifting.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Don't think about joining a gym before you read this.

The Coach Chris blog is back with Fit School. I hope you had a nice break over the festive period. I'm going to be doing a series of blogs for those 'gym bunnies out there. So if you fit into this category, these are for you.

You will no doubt be seeing the various offers for gym membership. Perhaps you're thinking that 12 months for the price of 11 or 10 is actually quite appealing. Or the persuasive sales assistant shows you how 'at home' in the gym you will feel. Queue the Family Fortunes 'X' sound.

Here's the thing. Gyms are great for people who like the gym or are motivated to get a good return on investment by going 2-3 times per week. You also need to like exercise. The odds of this being you are pretty slim. When I worked at a gym, the average gym usage was 1.5 visits per month. I once told a story about a client who paid to join an exclusive health club. He went once and always referred to it as the most expensive swim of his life!

On a serious note though, all I care about is you getting a good return on for your hard earned cash, and that you enjoy whatever it is you do. Think long and hard about the deals offered to you. If you get offered a free month,  consider the fact that you will probably only use the gym for between 4-6 months. You basically get more time to not use the gym. In my teens, I went to the gym to hang out with my mates. Young boys go through a vein stage so we were trying to outdo each other in our workouts. The social element is crucial for you to make exercise a habit, so try to plug in to a community that is fit and active.

My final point is the reason why you are enticed to join in the first place. You possibly lack the motivation or the inspiration to get fit and healthy. Having a gym membership will not give you this. A gym will only give you a place to exercise, when you can be bothered. Then, when will power wears off, you're back to square one. Don't be in a rush to part with your cash unless you know it will tackle this issue. Classes or training for an event are a good way to tackle the lack of willpower.  I actually like the gym and think they are great places to train your body to move better. However, I hate people being hoodwinked into joining somewhere they don't like, and doing things they hate! If this is you or you know someone like this, tell them to not join a gym!!