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Exercise Questions

  • I cannot get motivated with my exercise program!

    I once read that over 50% of people quit an exercise/nutritional program for weight loss within 8 weeks.

    One key issue is to establish a routine, which many fail to do. So, initially, yes there may be some perseverance.

    That said, you also need to address the lifestyle issue. If your training is clashing with certain things in your life (work, social etc.)...then it isn't a good long-term solution. You need to establish a routine that fits into your daily schedule that you can enjoy.

    What I have found to be a great motivational tool is keeping records. This could be in the form of numbers (weights lifted, distance ridden, body weight, waist measurement, body fat etc.). It could also be in the form of photo's (which are very motivating once you see your progress).

    A question you can ask is "am I enjoying my workout routine?". If yes, then you can actually look forward to your training - and hence increase the chances of long-term application. However if you don't enjoy what you're doing, then try changing it around. For example, if you become bored after running for an hour, try some sprint work. If you don't like a particular machine, change to another exercise. Go outdoors rather than in a gym. There are always plenty of alternatives.

    Personally speaking, prior to bodybuilding, I used to hate weight training. I never trained at any great level of intensity and as a result I became bored lifting the same weights week after week. It wasn't until I went into the weights room with a more competitive mindset - aiming to beat my previous performance EVERY time - that I became addicted to this form of training. Now I cannot wait to get into the gym each time and set new records.

    Here are a couple of Q&A's I have available on Amino Z (as you can see...you're far from alone):

    I am losing motivation in my 12 week challenge. I wish a fairy could jump out and make me skinny!

    I just completed a BodyBlitz challenge and failed! I ate healthy and exercised but lost no weight at all. I want to try another...but can't get motivated.

    What can I do to become motivated toward my health and fitness goals?

    I lack motivation and find it hard to go into the gym. Can you help?
    Hope this helps mate.

  • I have injured my shoulder in the past and it is injury prone. What can I do to avoid further shoulder injury?

    There is nothing worse than a shoulder injury...this can prevent you from performing nearly all upper body resistance training.  It is very important to ensure that you train in a safe manner in order to avoid further injury.

    I actually train a handful of people with shoulder injuries (they are really common...particularly chronic ones in older clients).  This is because the shoulder is an extremely unstable joint.

    The main things to watch out for in an injury prone shoulder are overhead exercises (eg. shoulder presses) and shoulder isolation exercises (eg. side lat raises, front raises etc.).

    Rotator cuff exercises using a resistance band can be extremely effective in building up the supporting muscles of the shoulder joint in order to avoid further injury.  In addition to this, certain back exercises that recruit the rear deltoids (eg. lat pulldown, pullups, seated rows) may further assist the stability of the shoulder joint.

    I highly recommend that you have a professional personal trainer prescribe a safe and effective program for you.  For more information on my personal training services, click here.

  • When building muscle, should I do weights and cardio together, or in the morning and evening?

    Well there are pro's and con's to doing cardio and resistance training together.

    The major advantage is only doing the one session per day...so that's a convenience factor. Another advantage is, if you limit the total workout duration, the amount of cortisol (a stress hormone) produced can be limited. Cortisol inhibits protein synthesis, or, the muscle building process. I have read that performing 2 high intensity workouts a day can increase cortisol production by 4x, relative to a single high intensity workout.

    Disadvantage wise, upon the completion of your resistance workout, if you choose to perform cardio, you will be "starving" your muscles for a longer period of time. For example, if you perform heavy sets on back day and then spend 15 minutes performing HIIT cardio, that's an additional 15 minutes of increased catabolism (muscle breakdown) in your back muscles.

    The other major problem with combining the two forms of training is the different stimuli. If you are training for muscle mass, then your weight training would be relatively heavy and thus stimulate protein synthesis. Conversely, HIIT cardio is primed at improving muscular lactate threshold, VO2 max, anaerobic fitness, fat metabolism and so on. The two don't work optimally together. It's like telling someone to multi-task: you cannot focus 100% on either task and therefore not receive 100% results.

    In addition to all of the above, combining cardio (for fat/fitness) and resistance training (for muscle) will have a much more significant negative impact on males than females due to hormonal differences between the sexes.

    Weighing up everything, ideally, you would want to separate your cardio and resistance training by 8 hours. Many athletes train this way. However you do need to take other factors into consideration, such as your lifestyle, energy levels, level of fitness etc.

  • Jay, I see you perform dips for both chest and triceps. Would this not induce overtraining in the tricep muscles?

    On chest day, these are the bent over dips which will target the lower pectorals major. The upright dips target the three heads of the tricep muscle more effectively.

    Sure...for both day's I'm still using both pecs/shoulders/triceps in this compound exercise (as with most chest exercises). But the relative intensity of each muscle group is altered. Therefore on tricep day in particular, I should not be overtraining my triceps and thus inducing overtraining syndrome.

    A similar scenario is with squats and deadlifts - both use many (many) muscles - primarily the quadriceps, glutes, lower back and hamstrings. However squats target the quadriceps more effectively than deadlifts which target the lower back. A slight variation in execution can make a very significant difference regarding muscle stimulus.

    Based on results, I have been making consistent progress over the last seven weeks in each macrocycle which suggests that each muscle group is receiving sufficient recovery. Note that it is very hard to compare different macrocycles (eg. my 10-12 rep macrocycle versus my 6-8 rep macrocycle) because different energy stores, muscle fibre ratios etc. are being used.

  • Should I train my abdominals (rectus abdominus) in addition to all my other muscles? What about core exercises?

    I would always suggest to train abdominals unless there is a contraindication associated with training this muscle group, such as an injury.

    Training the rectus abdominus (ie. the 6-pack muscle) will provide extra stability to your abdominal area.  Let's say that you become very strong in all other muscle groups but remain weak in the rectus abdominus.  The abdominals will therefore be the "weakest link" and could pose a higher change of injury.

    I would also consider performing core exercises in order to build up the supporting muscles around the spine (including the transverse abdominus, multifidus spinae, erector spinae).  Particularly when lifting weights, these muscles prevent back injury by supporting a neutral spinal position (ie. good posture).  Some great core exercises include fit-ball exercises, prone holds etc.  Some more advanced exercises that are great for the core include weighted squats and lunges.

    If you are focussed on a great overall physique, the abdominals are definitely an important part of it.  If all your other muscles are well developed and then you have no abdominals, this can look quite odd.  However, you won't have a 6-pack unless your body fat is quite low - not as a direct result of training the rectus abdominus.

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