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Exercise Questions

  • Q and A: How to Squat like a Boss!

    Squats are one of the two major lower body movements. While some neglect the infamous squat, I have found that it is more likely a result of insecurity and uncertainty which so many (especially the men) feel about it. We get a lot of questions on Squatting! I've added video explanations for the top 5 questions we get!

    1. How to do it correctly?

    Check out our video! Basically, go as low as you can, keeping your feet in a neutral and natural stance, and body upright. Stay on your heals!

    2. How will it help me?

    Essentially, a squat is the entire lower body performing concentric and eccentric contractions. The core is performing as well, keeping the body upright, making it a great mid-body workout as well, as it performs static contraction.

    3, Is it better to squat or do a series of machines which isolate the muscles?

    Squat during strength phases, and squat if you are trying to get into great shape. If you are squatting because it is great for your overall fitness, stick with the big squat movements; back squat, front squat and overhead squat! Save those machines for the body building! They isolate smaller muscle groups, helping to accentuate and activate each one. While it is useful for bodybuilders and esthetics, it takes up much more time in a session, gets less work done, and does not help to improve the quality of your squat.

    4. What is the difference between a smith rack squat and a free squat? (is it safer?)

    The smith rack takes away all of the work from the stabilizing muscles. You'll likely be able to lift more because all you have to do is push, and no worries about your back position, feet position or which direction the force is being applied! It is not more safe in the sense that you probably shouldn't be handling loads on a pretend squat if you cannot normally squat them! Scale back, take some weight off and master a good quality squat before loading your bar!

    5. Should I be squatting more reps or adding more weight to the bar?

    This depends on your overall goal and phase of training. If you are trying to get stronger, you'll have to lift heavier load. If you are able to perform 4 reps at a particular weight, and are trying to improve strength, load. If you are training to improve endurance and overall fitness, perform heavier loads at between 6 and 12 reps. Every now and again, experiment with heavier sets and see how many reps you can perform without breaking form/ technique. If you are able to perform more than 12 reps, you can usually always add more weight to maintain a sufficient level of difficulty.

    Keep squatting!

  • Is full range of motion (ROM) and less weight, or limited range of motion and more weight better when building muscle?

    Generally speaking, it is accepted that it is more effective to move through the full range of motion and get less reps using less weight, than to limit your ROM and move more weight and/or more reps. This is the general premise behind most standardised resistance training. Having said that, there are many effective training techniques that employ methods that limit the range of motion (ROM).

    The rationale behind this form of resistance training is to bring the muscles being worked from a full stretch to a full contraction (or, as much as is allowed in a particular motion). A good example is a bicep curl. When your arm is straight, your bicep is fully stretched. When you reduce the angle at the elbow as much as possible, the bicep is fully contracted. Therefore, you should go from a straight arm to a full contraction. Basically, this is full range of motion (ROM). The same can be demonstrated with any weight training exercise.

    Of course, there are many, many exceptions to the rule particularly if you:

    • Are training for a specific reason
    • Have an injury
    • Have a goal that is more strength focussed
    • Are trying to break through a plateau
    • etc.
  • Why can we exercise for less than an hour, yet need to sleep and recover for so long?

    Think of it this way. Exercise places stress on your body. Exercise runs your body down. Exercise, in itself, doesn't do your body any good at all. It makes you feel tired, run down, lethargic, sore etc. BUT exercise does the wonderful thing of providing a stimulus for your body to recover.

    Recovery initiates itself immediately after exercise when your body is so run down that it needs to repair and rebuild itself so it can handle the physical stress more effectively next time.

    Recovery is a slow process. If your exercise session is intense enough, you can stimulate a recovery response for up to a week or more (depending upon the stimulus).

    Your body can only handle so much physical stress through exercise. If you persist, your body will take measures to shut itself down. The first is fatigue which you will feel during exercise. From there, you may become light headed, dizzy etc. Then you may faint, dehydrate etc. If you continue to persist, that's when some serious medical complications can arise because the body isn't equipped to handle such extreme forms of physical stress.

    Sleep is when a lot of your recovery occurs. As I said, it's a slow process, which is why you need so much of it!

    You may be interested in signing up to our course, Conquering Your Body.  Within one of the lessons, we discuss recovery in great detail.

  • Is boxing a good high intensity cardio workout?

    Absolutely!  Boxing can be a highly effective cardiovascular exercise to really get the heart rate elevated.

    A very common misconception is that cardio has to necessarily use the lower body.  Not so.  If you are training to elevate your fitness and/or enhance fat oxidation (or fat loss), any cardio that you perform that elevates your heart rate is going to be highly effective.

    Boxing is a great example.  You can perform a great high intensity interval workout with boxing alone.  If you want to try a demanding interval boxing regime, try this: 30 seconds all-out, 30 seconds slow and easy, repeated for 20 minutes.  If you give it your all, you will be exhausted by the end of the cardio session!

    Here's the key to great results - perform a format of cardio that you enjoy.  If you really like boxing, then stick with it.  If you enjoy it, chances are that you will get the most out of each session, whilst also increasing the likelihood of long-term consistency.

  • During and after exercise, what is happening in the body with regards to fat, carbohydrates, proteins and muscles?

    During your workout you are primarily utilising both carbohydrate and fat as primary sources of energy.  Fat tissue is constantly being broken down in the body and consequently, fatty acids are available in the blood stream.  These fatty acids are delivered to various cells (including muscle cells) to assist in energy generation.  A similar story is true with carbohydrates, where blood sugar (glucose - what results from broken down carbohydrate) is delivered to organs and tissues to maintain normal function.  When exercising, your muscles also utilise glycogen, which is the muscles stored carbohydrate.

    The bout of exercise that you undertake is a form of physical stress.  You stress your muscles to the point at which there is a significant degree of cellular damage.  Upon completion of the workout, your body goes to work straight away at repairing these cells.  This is accomplished through the utilisation of fatty acids, carbohydrate and also amino acids (obtained from proteins).  Essentially, your muscles are "re-building" themselves.

    You can see that as this repairing (or recovery) process is being undertaken, a lot of energy is being expended by the body to recuperate.  This is where a significant degree of fat tissue can be broken down.

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