Monday, 30th April

One  big reason to practice functional training instead of “run of the mill” workouts is sheer range of movement and “real life” application.

You aren’t going to get as many meaningful benefits from just using machines compared to the multi-benefits of functional exercise.

For instance, a simple test i do on individuals and turn it into an exercise is simply standing up and down on a chair.

Most people can do this, some cannot however and will really struggle to get up. This shows a lack of mobility and underlying strength.

This shows a lack of strength in the core more specifically, and this will give me significant clues about the programme that needs to be prescribed.

How many people do you know who need a lift up from a chair? Quite a few i would imagine especially after the age of 50? When you think about it, this is FAR too young to be experiencing mobility problems and work needs to be immediately done on this vital source of power and movement for the body.

Every exercise i give an individual, i will be looking for “real life” benefits from it. Every workout should help the individual live a better quality of life, that’s my mission every time.

So you can i get more than a little frustrated with people whose sole focus is “losing weight”! This means the individual doesnt really know the vast and true possibilities and opportunities that correct exercise selection brings.

Yes, you WILL drop some weight, body fat from the exercises i give you, sometimes a substantial amount if needed, but appreciating the big picture will make your health and fitness programme far more rewarding for you.

 This is why i really despise weight loss clubs and their false claims. They only focus on the weight, usually done in an unsustainable way too, so in my book they will always be a total “no no”!

Enjoy your training and the many real life benefits it brings.

Thursday, 26th April

Back pain often comes from imbalances throughout the body as we have talked about a million times on here.

It can come from simple things you never even thought about in your day.

From driving and reaching over the radio all the time to one side, to lounging in the chair while watching television, the causes are more simple than you thought and can be sorted out purely through behavioural change.

I have seen nasty back situations develop from reading a book in bed on one side, doing things only on one side will eventually lead to imbalances that need to be sorted and the sooner the better.

Simply by choosing to live your life with better posture habits will count for a lot when it comes to long term back health full stop. Make sure you make this vital change today.

Other back weakness can develop through working one side of the body and ignoring the other.

For example, if you only work the thighs and never work your hamstrings, then your back will eventually suffer, as well as poor hamstring strength of course, leading to injury, pain, cramping possibly at times, and you guessed it back pain!!!

Always work both sides of the body.

If you work your chest and shoulders but fail to do a range of back exercises, then it doesn’t take a genius to work out that back weakness will likely comes your way.

If you only run or just cycle, and you don’t do any strength or core stability work, then back pain is quite common amongst most participants.

These examples should really ram home the point about doing your core stability/balance work, doing the exercises we always talk about on here that you know are so good for you, and ignorance/reluctance to change is the only thing that may be stopping you have a very strong and healthy back!

Make it happen today.

Thursday, 12th April

Back pain relief is great like we talked about yesterday, and once you are allowed to exercise again in a more expanded way, you suddenly feel “free” again.

To get to this stage though, and never to go back there again, you MUST keep your core stability work up ideally for the rest of your life, or back pain can often return in the same way as before, and sometimes worse especially as you get into your “senior” years, when re-starting physical activity suddenly seems far more daunting.

As I have said many times, “core stability” work seems the most in fashion term in fitness, and has been for a while, but unfortunately most people who train and some of those who teach exercise, do not know the principles needed to work through an all round programme to engage the muscles necessary to relieve back pain, and increase power throughout the body in general!

Core stability is more than a big exercise ball and just “sitting” on it. For a beginner it will mean light exercise learning the basics, for a professional athlete it can mean aggressive powerful movements that enhance their game.

If like most of us, you are somewhere in between, there is much to learn.

If you belong to a gym that includes only machines to do exercise, then you really are not in the most efficient and “functional” place for your body and its longer term future.

If you are doing the same old routine with machines or just run or cycle every day, then you are missing out on a considerable amount of potential progress. We talk about this all the time on here.

If you have never worked out with a medicine ball, a bosu ball, a club roller, a balance wedge, balance pads etc, then you are cheating yourself out of a body and mind that could be significantly stronger. These are not compromise exercises, they are movements that will give you the edge and take you a million miles further in development!!!

All up to you and expand your mind!!!

Tuesday, 20th March

The number of exercises is definitely not important in your workout.

You could do 30 different exercises in your workout, yet perhaps you wouldn’t have worked out close to your potential. You could do just 4 exercises in your workout and you could have the biggest and best blast you have ever had!

It all comes down to how much you put into your workout, and good exercise selection DOES help.

If you pick the biggest and best exercises that require most effort, then you’re not going to go far wrong.

Some of the exercises invented around 50-100 years ago are often the best, and require the most work and effort. They are like the cabbage of exercises, you don’t really like it but you know its going to be good for you!

Most youngsters for example when it comes to packing on muscular size, will become obsessed with all the fancy machines and they think that in these machines lies the answer to looking like the incredible hulk!

 Nothing could be further from the truth and I often steer them away from these machines on to a tried and tested programme of 6-8 exercises, that if done regularly, will bring truly massive results!!!

When it comes to running, I try and get people away from long tedious run on concrete surfaces on to sprints up tough hills and nicer surfaces such as grass, and more demanding surfaces such as sand. The difference can be incredible!!!

When it comes to long boring swims, I set length targets designed to beat previous bests.

When it comes to cycles, I set specific courses, push for more interval training and get some hills thrown in, variety is the key here.

When you think variety and performance, you don’t have to do a ton of different exercises, its all about the effort you put in and the thought you put into your programme when you’re looking for superior results.

Wednesday, 1st February

Nice to see that hill training is coming back into fashion these days with most of the world’s top athletes telling us that this form of training has been their cornerstone for years.

Dai Greene, the world champion hurdler from Llanelli, admitted the other day in the press that he credits hill sprints and in particular, sprints up sand dunes as the most important part of his training to develop him into a world class athlete.

Andre Agassi was famous for doing 900 yard runs up Las Vegas sand dunes to bring him back from the dead in terms of his pro career, he made it back from 141 in the world all the way back to number one by working so hard in his time going up sandy hills!!

Whatever goal you are looking for when it comes to fitness, hill sprints will work in a big way for you.

If hill sprints are beyond you, try and start on hill WALKS instead, but still trying to get up the hill as soon as you can.

Here’s the way it should go.

First of all, try picking the very worst hill you can find!! I mean the steepest, nastiest hill you can choose near to your home ideally and try to master it if possible. You never actually “master” it, you just get better at it, its ALWAYS going to be a challenge that’s for sure!!!

Aim to start off doing 5 walks going forwards, the try 5 walks going backwards. This forwards and backwards type motion will confuse your body a bit, and give you a far more thorough workout, and there’s nothing like it for give your legs heck of burn!!!

Each sprint should be around 30-40 yards a time, and do each one once you have got your breath back.

Start off small and slow, and then each week try and build it up a little more and see how you go.

If you manage to get up to 10 forwards and 10 backwards at a very good pace, you know you will be in great shape!!!