It would be rhetorical to say: that your body is special. And you would only want the best to be guiding you through your health and well-being safely. And yet, one can still be suggestible- picking up dodgy anecdotal tips from ‘that guy’ on the lat-pull-down machine.
I have personally experienced the exercise benefits, being safely loaded, and moving with confidence with one of my colleagues. Leaving my body and surrendering to an expert has given myself a deeper appreciation of the importance of finding an expert in human movement. I have always been on the other side to what I have been accustomed too- and as bias as it sounds: my colleagues here at iNform health really know how to manage and care for their clients.
Here are three reasons why you should be exercising with an expert.
1. Your tissues need time to adapt to load.
Your tissues, all the way down to the extracellular matrix- are for ever adapting to stressors and making proteins. Prescribing appropriate load- will ensure ones tissues will safely adapt; which will add a host of benefits to ones neuromuscular system. Reduced risk of tendonopathies, appropriate motor learning and myonuclei growth (muscle hypertrophy). On the contrary, excessive loading that exceeds the capacity of the neuromuscular system can induce the contra effects to the aforementioned. Tendon pathology, disorganised motor learning due to inappropriate load and systemic inflammation (abnormal prostaglandin levels) due to poor tissue healing.
2. Assessing the capacity of the neuromuscular system before undertaking load is paramount- and if neglected, your ‘health professional’ is going in blind.
If there is a muscle inhibition due to de-conditioned tissues, or a previous pathology that was poorly rehabilitated, would you feel safe to be loaded? Or if you were unable to co-contract your gluteus maximums, or have adequate lumbo-pelvic control? And yet, you may still be subjected to axial loading in your first session…! A thorough musculoskeletal assessment can identify any red flags and give your health professional valuable subjective/objective information to prescribe appropriate exercise correctives. This will then ensure more complex movements are performed safely.
3. Co-care is so important in addressing the whole individual.
Here at iNform, our clients are closely monitored by a wonderful internal/external team of allied health professionals; ranging from: GP’s, physio’s, osteo’s, chiros, pod’s and psychologist (without exhausting). All working and communicating together for the greater good of your physical and mental health. Co-care leads to better clinical outcomes, a proper working diagnosis, and the right form of treatments that benefit you the individual.
So, next time you are wanting to move with confidence. Be interrogative with your research. Find an evidence based approach that doesn’t involve a lecture from ‘that guy’ wearing a weight belt with a skimpy muscle singlet (stereotyping much?).
The holiday season is fast approaching, organized sports are coming to a halt, work is winding up and many of us are embarking upon holidays. The Christmas break is a time where we are often given the opportunity to reconnect with friends and family while having a break from a regular schedule. While this opportunity to recharge may be necessary, it can also be to the detriment of any fitness progress and goals you have achieved throughout the passing year. Fitness loss is commonplace, not only during the Christmas holidays but during any extended period of reduced physical activity and we often refer to this effect as detraining.
Detraining and the Residual Training Effect:
Lets talk about detraining, you may have heard about it somewhere along the grapevine or maybe you have had first-hand experience with it, most likely the latter. The relationship between detraining and the residual training effect revolves around the idea that after cessation of training or an acute reduction in volume the body begins physiological processes which slowly untie any positive adaptations to training we may have made (detraining/deconditioning). It is these physiological characteristics that when grouped together make up what we call fitness components. These components include speed, maximal strength, aerobic endurance, strength endurance and anaerobic endurance. Now, while these may not all relate to you, there are most likely one or two which are inclusive in your fitness goals (no matter how basic or specific they are).
However, it may not be all doom and gloom. It is important to know that not all of these characteristics deteriorate at the same rate, some are much more resilient to detraining than others.
The table below gives an outline of how long the physiological adaptations are maintained during a period of detraining.
The Residual Training Effect
What effects the residual training effect?
Duration of training before reduction or cessation
Training age and physical experience
Intensity used during the detraining period (moderate to high-intensity exercise reduces rate)
You may be asking “how does this relate to me?”
As shown in the table above we can see that speed is the most susceptible to change (2-8 days), whereas maximal strength and aerobic endurance are the most resilient (25-35 days). If your goals are to maintain speed and strength endurance it would be counterproductive to completely stop training, these components would best be maintained with a few short sprint and full body hypertrophy sessions during the break. Whereas if your goals are to maintain maximum strength and aerobic endurance; While it would not be ideal to completely stop training, the reduction in training volume would not have such a detrimental effect as the components mentioned previously.
So what should you take out of this?
Try to integrate some moderate to high-intensity training into your break to slow down these detraining effects.
Short sessions with a focus on the components that are most susceptible to change or relate closest to goals are recommended.
Sports where repeated sprint ability (RSA) is critical to performance (AFL, Soccer, Basketball), should focus training on sport-specific needs for the athlete and include short sprint sessions. There is not a great need to prescribe or complete long aerobic/anaerobic endurance sessions during the break where time is often scarce.
Reflect on your current and previous goals and how this concept relates to you if you are planning on taking a break.
With Christmas around the corner, we are entering a period of overwhelming enjoyment.
Days off work, weekends that are filled with staff shows and family functions, and of course lunches and dinners with friends.
How good is it?
But, as always, there is a small negative associated.
Namely the fact that we have a tendency to go absolutely crazy across the entire Christmas period, throwing caution to the wind, and eating our weight in goodies.
Now don’t get me wrong – I am a firm believer that a bad meal isn’t going to derail your progress.
A single piece of fruit isn’t going to make you skinny, and a single donut isn’t going to make you fat. As we all know, it is the accumulation of good habits that keeps us healthy, while alternatively, its the accumulation of not so good habits that makes us unhealthy.
However, despite knowing this full well, we as humans seem to love a good blowout.
I’ll use myself as an example.
The Cadbury Effect
I am a sucker for chocolate.
I have a ridiculous sweet tooth, and to be completely honest, chocolate is my proverbial kryptonite.
Interestingly, my wife and I could have an unopened block of chocolate in the fridge for the better part of a year, and I wont touch the thing. However, if we were to open it, I can guarantee that it will be gone within the hour.
Now, I realize that this doesn’t really make sense, but the reason I do this is to get rid of it.
Somewhere in the depth of my subconscious, I think to myself: ‘stuff it, I’ve already blown it, I might as well eat the whole thing‘.
We know it doesn’t make sense, but we still do it every damn time.
Not just for chocolate either (which is still not great) – we as humans have a tendency to do it for absolutely everything.
Even things that last for days or weeks at a time…
The Christmas Blowout
When it comes to Christmas, things can go downhill pretty fast.
A bad afternoon can easily turn into a very bad weekend. And that weekend can very easily roll into an extremely bad week.
All of which comes down to that same mindset.
“Welp, Ive blown it – ill get back on track after new years…”
Extremely common, and extremely stupid.
All in all I completely understand where we are coming from, but that doesn’t make this mindset any less flawed.
We know that one single afternoon of eating and drinking isn’t going to derail a years worth of progress.
Hell, outside of a little bit of bloating and a potential stomach ache, the likelihood of this single night doing any lasting damage is pretty slim.
But two weeks of eating, drinking, and being merry?
That’s when the damage starts to accumulate.
Diet Damage Control
So in my mind, diet damage control over Christmas comes down to mindset.
Take a step back and realize that a single meal isn’t going to derail all of your hard work and progress.
Enjoy that meal as much as humanly possible. Be social, drink, and be happy.
But don’t let it become a two week binge.
Keep physically active (as normal) over the Christmas period.
Eat as you normally would outside of those key social situations.
Its a bit of an interesting question, and one I have found myself thinking about quite a lot of late. Which funnily enough, all started with a podcast.
I was always somewhat resistant to the rising popularity of podcasts. But over time I have found them to be pretty interesting. A good way to find out about topics that I wouldn’t normally explore without the input of someone else.
A good way to learn about different ways of thinking, and different areas of health.
Ultimately a different way to learn, I guess.
Anyway, to get back on track, I was listening to a podcast that featured a health professional by the name of Paul Chek.
While a number of Paul Chek’s methods are somewhat controversial, during this podcast he made a statement that really resonated with me.
“At some point in your life, your health will become your highest priority – its just a matter of when”
Its Just A Matter of When
I realized that this was entirely true.
There will undoubtedly reach a time in your life when your own health will rise to the top of your list of priorities.
No questions asked.
For me, it was when I decided I no longer wanted to be a skinny teenager. I wanted to build muscle, and to put it somewhat bluntly, look good naked.
A little bit vain? Maybe? But that was what prompted me to pay attention to what I put in my mouth and to start exercising regularly.
Its really what led me to where I am today.
I know many other people who have had a similar singular moment, albeit under slightly different circumstances.
I know people who have suddenly found themselves 10kgs heavier than they were on their wedding day. They might have realized that they have let themselves go. That they need to make a change before things get ‘too bad’ (so to speak).
I know people who have repeatedly gotten injured throughout their sporting careers.
They never managed to string more than a few games together before being forced into another extended layoff. These people started to take the health of their body seriously to ensure that they could keep playing sport pain free for as long as they could.
And I also know people who waited until it was almost too late.
People who got some nasty news from the doctor. They might have found out that they have been diagnosed with diabetes, or maybe cardiovascular disease. Maye they tried to get out of bed one morning and realized that they literally cannot stand up unassisted. Or that they can no longer climb the stairs without hanging off the hand rail.
Or maybe they just had their first grandchild?
And they have come to the stark realization that they want to be there for them for as a long as they can…
Somewhat depressing to think about, I agree.
But it does happen, and all too often at that.
Become Health Focused
Something that really stands out to me in regards to the above scenarios is that the earlier you decide to become health focused, the greater the impact it will have on your life.
If you start eating well and strength training as a skinny teen, you will build healthy habits that will last you a lifetime. You will maintain function indefinitely. Your risk of osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes will be significantly reduced.
Obesity? Not a problem.
In short, you will live a long and happy life.
But what if you start much, much, later in life? If you are already riddled with disease.
The realization that if you don’t do something soon things will go downhill fast, has already hit home?
While I would be the first to say that it is undoubtedly better to start late than never, I would also be inclined to suggest that the benefits you see will be markedly less the later you start.
Most of your time will be spent reversing the damage that a life of sedentary activity has done to your body. The damage that a life of poor eating, weight gain, and lack of use, has done to your body.
Rather than improving function and maximizing health.
Again, this doesn’t mean that it is by any means a waste of time.
Hell, it will probably get you as few extra years on this amazing planet we call home.
But when I think about how I want to end my life on this planet, I certainly don’t want to be bedridden and incapacitated. I don’t want to be struggling to keep going on a daily basis. I want to be walking, running, and lifting, every single day. I want to end it on my terms, with thousands of independent and activity filled days behind me.
And I honestly believe I will, because I have made my health a priority before it was too late.
I can certainly appreciate that the words ‘train smarter not harder’ do indeed come across a little gimmicky – but that certainly doesn’t make them any less appropriate.
For those of you who are aware of the iNform way, you would understand the premium we place on quality movement.
Our process always starts with the identification of movement dysfunction and muscular imbalances. We can then prioritize your training to improve upon these identified issues, therefore causing lasting improvements in how well you move. This process essentially acts as the foundation from which you can commence your performance journey – ultimately setting you up for future training success, exponentially increasing your physical capabilities, all while simultaneously reducing your risk of injury.
Pretty cool, right?
There is (or as of now, was) however, a little bit of kicker.
While each and every one of us here are iNform have always had a firm belief that this process worked, and worked well (and had the anecdotal evidence to prove it), we didn’t really have a method of quantifying it.
Well, until now, that is.
Train Smarter Not Harder
So, for those of you in the know, I am currently undertaking a PhD at the University of South Australia, where I am looking at the associations between movement quality and physical performance.
In short, I am testing out the effectiveness of the iNform methodology.
Now don’t get me wrong – I am well aware that this could have been disastrous. Imagine spending three years of my life trying to prove something that iNform have been building for the better part of two decades, and then seeing it fail.
And it all comes crashing down.
Like I said, disastrous.
However, as you might have guessed (given the title of this post and all), this wasn’t the case.
In fact, the key training study that I am going to be talking about genuinely smashed all expectations out of the park.
While I wont give you all the boring details (especially since the study is yet to be published), I will give you a bit of a rundown of what we did, and what the results were – and I can only assume that you will be as impressed as I was…
A Big Tick For Movement Quality
Pretty simply, we recruited a bunch of people into the study who had a fair amount of gym experience (about 6 years on average). We then took them through a battery of tests. These included iNforms MovementSCREEN assessment of movement quality, the FMS (another assessment of movement quality), and a number of strength and power measures.
To be honest, it was pretty comprehensive (and fairly time consuming…).
We then split the participants into two evenly matched groups.
One group underwent a training program built around the results of their individual movement assessment. This training was designed to improve upon any pre-identified movement dysfunctions and muscle imbalances (we can call these guys the iNform group). The second group underwent a training program built around the recommend guidelines for resistance training. This was done with intent to improve strength and physical capabilities (we will cause these guys the strength group).
Both groups underwent two (both 60 minutes long) training sessions per week for a total duration of 8 weeks. They were also fully supervised, with their training regime provided by a trainer in a one-on-one setting. At the end of each training session we also took a measure to determine how challenging the participants perceived the training.
Now it is important to note that the strength group weren’t simply performing some trashy cookie cutter program – it was still tailored to their individual capabilities, and it was built around training guidelines set by The American College of Sports Medicine.
It pretty much perfectly replicated what you would normally see in a normal personal training setting.
Which is why the results were so damn exciting (or at least, we think they are).
After the 8 weeks of training, we took all the participants through the same baseline testing battery. This allowed us to compare any differences between the two groups, and establish what method of training caused greater improvement in movement quality and performance.
Now to be completely honest, I did have a couple of expectations coming into this.
I really thought that the iNform group would see larger improvements in movement quality, while the strength group would see greater improvements in physical performance. Which in my mind, would make sense.
But that isn’t quite what happened.
The strength group saw large improvements in both their MovementSCREEN score of movement quality and their physical performance measures. With this, their FMS score of movement quality remained for the most part the same.
Interestingly, the iNform group saw the same degree of improvement in their strength and power measures. In conjunction with this, they saw greater improvements in their measures of movement quality.
Which in itself is pretty damn cool.
However, things start to get even more interesting when we start to look at how challenging the participants viewed their training…
You see, the iNform group found their training program significantly less difficult than the strength group. In fact, they rated every single session easier than the strength training group did.
Which suggests that they got better movement quality improvements and comparable performance improvements for less effort.
To be completely honest, these results took us somewhat by surprise. Not that we didn’t have faith in our processes, but the degree in which the iNform group improved their performance was pretty high – comparable to what most would consider the gold standard method of training.
Moreover, considering that this came with much less perceived effort, well its pretty outrageous really.
While we cant be sure why this happened, we suspect that it was because the iNform method of training is more ‘targeted’. It revolves around identifying the weakest link in the chain (or in this case, the body), and then training to improve that weakest link.
So although the method of training may be less intense than traditional strength training methods, it really works on what needs to be worked on.
Which obviously leads to improvements in performance and movement quality.
Take Home Message
I guess what we are trying to say is that the iNform way works. We now have evidence to support it, which we will be sharing in its entirety as soon as its published.
But what does this mean for you?
Well in my mind it clearly shows that training with iNform can improve how well you move, while simultaneously increasing your strength and power. Moreover, you will find this method of training less challenging than ‘traditional, training methods.
The British Journal of Sports Medicine recently published a review of the evidence for Strength Training as a strategy to reduce injuries in Athletes- and the results are impressive! For those that tend to just read the first few lines of an article, take this away. If you are an athlete, or you coach athletes, strength training should be a priority in your programming if you want to reduce injury risk. For the rest of you, please read on.
This article was by Lauresen, Andersen and Andersen (2018). Below is a summary:
6 studies were included, totaling 7738 participants aged between 12-40 y.o.
The average intervention duration was 21.39 weeks.
Average volume of training was 80 reps per week.
Average intensity was 8.39 RM (these means the maximum number of repetitions that can be performed for a given exercise).
Strength Training reduced sports injuries by 66% with a 95% confidence interval of 52% (combined results from 4 of the 6 studies).
A 10% increase in strength training volume resulted in reduced injury risk of 4%.
No injuries occurred as a result of the strength training throughout the interventions.
Strength training was both safe and effective for adolescents as well as adult athletes.
Why? The Mechanisms
The authors can only speculate as to why strength training helped protect athletes from injury, but their proposed mechanisms to explain its effectiveness are:
Preconditioning- effectively toughening up the muscles/tendons so they can deal with greater loads.
Variation of loading across the body so that parts of the body that are not stressed by the sport take more of the load in the gym.
Improved coordination and technique in the gym crossing over to movements in sports.
The authors concluded with the following recommendations for strength training, and I advise that if you choose to trust an Exercise Professional to help you or your athletes commence a strength training program that they can demonstrate an understanding and adherence to these principles.
Commence with a familiarisation period so that the athletes can develop the confidence and capability to perform the exercises correctly.
Ensure the athlete is supervised in the gym so that exercises can be completed well and loads are monitored accurately.
Loads are individualised to the athletes capability and are altered appropriately over a training cycle.
Exercises are varied across the year of training.
I would add in that it is also important that the strength training program is correctly synchronised with the training and competition schedules, so the Exercise Professional must be in regular communication with the athlete’s coach. For example, during an athletes off-season they can focus on improving function and technique; during pre-season switch to muscle building; and within season aim to build/maintain strength and power. The Exercise Physiologists at iNform have extensive experience managing the strength training programs of athletes across many sports. If you would like to speak to one of our EPs about the services we offer athletes, please contact us!
Lauersen, J. B., Andersen, T. E., & Andersen, L. B. (2018). Strength training as superior, dose-dependent and safe prevention of acute and overuse sports injuries: a systematic review, qualitative analysis and meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med, bjsports-2018.