• Primal Strength Video

  • What Happens at Primal Strength

    Firstly apologies for the lack of updates from the Primal camp in recent weeks. We have been flat out on new member inductions, sourcing new equipment and designing a new product, the "Primal Circuit" that is going to be something quite special. We are going to roll this out in the coming months and it will be perfect for those who can’t find time to train as often as they would like, or as a bonus conditioning session for those on the Primal Strength Program. We can’t wait to roll it out!

    But for now we want to answer one of most frequently asked questions: what does a Primal Strength session actually consist of? 

    The first thing to bear in mind is that our program is about much more than the strength sessions our clients participate in 3-4 times a week. It encapsulates proper nutrition, sleep hygiene and stress management – a full program to ensure we look and feel the best that we possibly can. This is supported by our eating guide, as well as body fat modulation in the form of Biosignature.

    Strength sessions last around an hour, and while programs are individualized each encompasses the following key stages:

    Stage#1: Mobilize

    Stage#2: Individualize

    Stage#3: Optimize

    Satge#4: Metabolize

    MOBILIZE 

    The old training adage ‘if you don’t have time for a proper warm-up, you don’t have time to train’ holds true. Many injuries in the weights room can be traced back to a lack of a proper warm-up.

    This isn’t tolerated at Primal. Before we ever touch a weight we loosen up cranky muscles by performing myofascial release techniques using implements such as foam rollers and lax balls. This is followed up with a mobility warm-up. Every single session.

    INDIVIDUALIZE

    Though mobility work is a priority, permanent improvements take time and occur at very different rates for everybody. Each of our members have a very different story to tell. Many spend long hours at an office desk, which can create postural issues. Some have had previous injuries, or biomechanical issues. Others have muscular imbalances resulting from the kind of poorly programmed strength sessions you’ll never see at Primal. (Bench day again anyone?)

    Because everyone is so different it stands to reason that the exercise prescription must also be different. That’s why every one of our clients is screened using our structural balance system. We use this data to create an individualized program of corrective exercises, designed to improve posture and enhance performance while minimizing the risk of injury.

    OPTIMIZE

    This is where we aim to shift some tin! We select the ‘bang for buck’ exercises here and go after increases in strength.

    We use derivatives and adaptations of classic exercises such as the squat, deadlift, presses, rows and chin-ups. These are almost always multi-joint, compound exercises, which have been identified in scientific literature to bring about the greatest increases in strength and the most potent responses from the hormonal system.

    What’s important to note here is that we see much faster results from members who are diligent with their mobility and corrective work. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, yet some people still warm-up with a few sets of bench presses and wonder why they plateau within a few months of training. This effect occurs because the body is very good at shutting movement down when it is perceived as a threat. 

    Bench presses are a good example - we often get asked for improvement tips for this. If you bench too much and neglect pulling strength it leads to muscular imbalances between the pressing muscles in the chest, anterior shoulder and triceps versus the often-neglected muscles of the mid/upper back and rotator cuff.

    This imbalance leads to poor posture and instability while pressing, and tees us up nicely for injury. The body (quite rightly) perceives this as a threat and will limit neural drive during the exercise as a form of self-preservation.

    And so the best tip for improving the bench press is often to stop bench pressing – or at least back off and focus on mobilizing the pec minor while strengthening the mid/upper back and rotator cuff. Ideally your bench press to row strength should be 1:1. If it isn’t then get rowing like your life depends on it. Your bench will improve and your shoulders will thank you.

    METABOLIZE

    For novices stages 1-3 offer sufficient challenge, but for more advanced members we end each session with metabolic ‘finishers’. These could be battle rope, prowler push, hand over hand sled pull…or just whatever we decide to throw at you!

    And there you have it – the key stages for any Primal session. Of course, our mode of delivery is always evolving as we learn from other experts - and from each and every one of our clients. You’re all individuals, so there’s no such thing as ‘standard’ at Primal.

  • The Importance of Sleep for Learning, Body Composition, and Strength

    Essentially a good training regime boils down to 3 things. Training, Nutrition and Recovery.

    When it comes to a fitness overhaul most people start with the training element. We feel strongly that when it comes to training everybody should be basing their program around strength, which we provide a rationale for here. Find a knowledgeable trainer who tailors the training program to your specific needs, work hard, fit in some high intensity intervals and you’re on the right path.

    Of equal importance is nutrition. There are many studies that show that when it comes to improving body composition and performance, exercise alone just doesn’t cut it. It has to go hand in hand with a well constructed eating plan for significant results. That’s why we invested a huge amount of time in developing our Primal Guide to Eating. We are currently working on edition 2 of the book which will contain a far more detailed recipe section. The book goes out free of charge to all of our members. 

    But recovery is a critical piece of the pie that is often glossed over. After all, our training is only as good as our recovery from and adaptation to each session. There are several options for recovery - some are more practical than others but may include:

    • good sleeping patterns / extra sleep / 20 minute power naps etc
    • massage / self massage
    • hydrotherapy (hot / cold / deep water immersion)
    • light aerobic type work (walking / light running / cycling etc)
    • stretching / mobility work

    For us sleep is the foundation of recovery. If you are not sleeping for the correct amount of time in an uninterrupted fashion then forget about all of the other recovery strategies. They are the nice to haves but sleep is the must have!

    STAGES OF SLEEP

    In order to understand just how important sleep is we need to understand what happens when we go to sleep. According to Dr. James Maas, author of power sleep and professor of psychology at Cornell University, sleep can be broken down into 5 distinct stages.

    Stage 1 - Drowsiness (Duration 10 seconds to 10 minutes).

    The transition from being awake to falling asleep characterized by shallow irregular breathing. During this stage you respond quickly to disturbances since you’re still aware of your surroundings.

    Stage 2 - Light Sleep (Duration 20 minutes approx.)

    Heart rate begins to slow, eye movements stop, blood pressure drops, muscles relax to a greater extent. You are no longer aware of your environment.

    Stages 3 & 4 - Deep Sleep (Duration 50 minutes approx.) 

    Stage 3 represents a transition from light sleep into stage 4 deep sleep. During these stages your body begins to regenerate and repair from the days stressors. For example it is during stages 3 & 4 that human growth hormone is released to repair and regenerate muscle tissue. The immune system is also given a boost and energy stores are restocked during this time. If you are woken during deep sleep it will take you around 15-20 seconds to fully wake up. 

    Stage 5 - Rapid Eye Movement (REM) (Duration begins at 9 minutes but doubles each time REM stage is entered)

    REM gets most of the publicity when it comes to sleep stages. This is the sleep stage that is critical for learning because information gathered during the day is transferred from the short-term memory region of the brain into long term memories. For example if you take a tennis lesson and learn a new skill it will only be consolidated into a long-term “muscle memory” if you experience adequate periods of REM through that nights sleep. 

    SLEEP TO GET SMART AND SKILFUL

    It’s important to note that a sleep cycle does not go through stages 1-5 consecutively. After passing into light sleep (stage 1 to stage 2) the cycle progresses into stage 3 and then stage 4. After stage 4 sleep returns into stage 3 and then stage 2 before entering into a period of REM. This means that we enter a period of REM approximately every 90 minutes. The first period of REM is short, lasting only around 9 minutes before sleep goes through another 90 minute cycle. However every time we enter into a period of REM its duration doubles, up to a maximum of around 60 minutes, which we only experience if we are able to sleep for 4-5 cycles uninterrupted. For most people this means getting 8 - 9.25 hours of continuous sleep per night. Any less than this and we miss the later and longer periods of REM. This obviously has profound implications on our learning. For example if we manage 8 hours of sleep a night we can expect around 4 periods of REM totaling 130 minutes. 9.25 hours would buy you 5 periods of REM totaling almost 200 minutes. But if you only manage 6 hours, which is common for many of us you will only be exposed to 2 periods totaling 70 minutes of REM.

    Also of importance is the fact that certain processes only occur after several hours of continuous sleep. For example only after around 6-8 hours do “sleep spindles” occur. These are calcium cascades (which are impossible to replicate with supplementation) in the brain that help to consolidate the step-by-step athletic motor sequences into automatic, fluid and fast movements. This is thought to be so important to future athletic performance that some NFL players have been required to sleep under controlled conditions if they have had an outstanding game in order to make similar performances in the future more likely to happen. Just what you want after the game of your life!

    SLEEP TO GET STRONG AND LEAN

    Similarly though the more we can cycle into the restoration stages (3 and 4) the more the body produces human growth hormone and the more we are able to repair, restore and increase lean, metabolically active muscle mass. On the other hand if we deprive ourselves of even 1 hour of sleep per night there is an effect on the activity of the hypothalamus resulting in higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which in short has been shown to increase appetite, cause oxidative stress, promote fat storage and blunt the effects of resistance training. Similarly testosterone production, which is critical for growth and repair is also blunted with a lack of sleep.

    The hormone grehlin is released in higher concentrations when sleep deprived, which is known to increase a persons appetite and promote overeating. Similarly the hormone leptin, which promotes satiety after eating is suppressed. And it’s not just a loose relationship. In fact a joint project between Stanford and the University of Wisconsin, which studied about 1000 subjects, investigated the effects of sleep on circulating grehlin and leptin as well as body-fat percentage. It was found that those who slept less than 8 hours per night had higher circulating grehlin, lower circulating leptin and had higher body fat percentage. What’s more there was a strong trend towards the heaviest subjects in the study being the ones who slept the least and vice-versa. 

    Another negative effect is that a lack of sleep has been shown to affect the bodies ability to metabolise glucose resulting in insulin resistance, and fat gain. The immune system is also impaired by a lack of sleep and a chronic lack of sleep has been shown to bring about changes in heart rate variability and blood pressure and can lead to inflammation. A vicious cycle can then begin because a pro-inflammatory state can cause hormone imbalance, the effect of which is often difficulty sleeping!

    STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE SLEEP QUALITY 

    Here are a list of tips and tricks to try, which will hopefully get you off to the land of nod and keep you there for that target 8-9.25 hours sleep.

    Limit Caffeine and Alcohol Consumption Before Bedtime 

    Caffeine is considered to have a stimulating effect for up to 9 hours post consumption. Work out your target sleep time and work backwards from there to calculate when you should have your last cup. For most people having your last cup around lunch wont affect your sleep. While alcohol may seem to help you fall asleep, studies have shown that the quality of that sleep is badly affected and most people wake up several times through the night with restlessness and dry mouth.

    Unplug

    Watching tv, playing on the ipad, iphone, etc is known to have a stimulating effect, which delays the process of falling asleep. Aim to switch off all electrical goods at least 30 minutes before lights out. There is also some research that suggests that electrical fields from appliances can negatively affect sleep - even when they are switched off at the appliance. Juries out on this one but it may be worth switching off major appliances at the wall all the same. 

    Perform a Brain Dump

    This is one of the best tips around and genuinely works. Always have a paper pad and pencil by your bed. Every night before lights out write down everything you need to do the next day or things that need your attention. Often people can’t sleep because little issues or ‘to-do’s’ pop into their head. Generally if you can get them down on paper you can stop thinking about them. Some people also like to write down a few good things about the day passed like people they may have helped or things they are looking forward to the next day so that they go to sleep having looked at the world in a positive way. 

    Get a Sleep Routine 

    This can sometimes be difficult to do and requires a bit of discipline but try and go to sleep at the same time and get up at the same time every day. If you can achieve this your body will get used to winding down for sleep at the same time daily. Through the week this is often easily manageable but then Friday night rolls around...if you can make it work without losing friends then give it a go.

    Make A BAT CAVE

    This is another top tip that really (really) works. If you can make the bedroom a place where you go to sleep and nothing else then sleep will come much much easier. Some even suggest renaming the bedroom the 'sleep room' to encourage people consider that to be the sole purpose of the room. Get rid of the TV in the bedroom and make your room as dark as you possibly can (any new parent will back us up with the positive effects this has on juniors sleep). Get rid of LED alarm clocks, get heavy black out blinds, get the room at the right temperature and even consider a towel for under the door to block out light completely. If you wake up in the middle of the night and you need twenty seconds or so for your eyes to adjust to the darkness, then you have yourself a bat cave!

    Shower and Stretch

    After you have had your evening shower consider performing a round of simple static stretches as part of your routine. This helps to alleviate any pent up muscular tension and also has a calming effect on the nervous system. We're not talking about a yoga session here - keep it simple and non-taxing, holding each stretch for around 15-30 seconds each time.

    Take a Daily Multi-Vitamin

    A recent study in Nutrition Journal found that over 8 weeks, young adults of average weight who took a multivitamin had much better mood, mental acuity, energy levels, and sleep than a placebo group. Interestingly the beneficial effect on energy levels and more restful sleep was particularly evident in the female participants. Although not statistically significant, a few participants also reported a decrease in appetite. Better sleep and more energy during the day to work-out is a winning combination but never consider a multi-vitamin to be a magic bullet against a poor diet. Sort your diet first then support it with a multi-vitamin. 

    Consider Adding Some White Noise

    This one seems to work wonders for some people and have little effect on others. White noise is that indescribable sound that you might use to mask other sounds e.g the hum of a washing machine or fan. Nowadays you can download white noise apps for your smart phone. I tried this and it didn’t appear to do anything whereas others can’t live without it. Try it and see and let us know what you think. 

    And Finally

    Studies have shown that in 1910 people were getting an average of 9 hours sleep per night. Nowadays that figure is considered to be closer to 7. If you are interested in trying to quantify how well you are sleeping then have a look at the sleep cycle app for smartphones. It’s an alarm clock app that not only gives you feedback on how well you slept through the night (by using the accelerometer built into your phone to clock how much you moved through the night) but also claims to wake you up during the last light sleep period before you need to get up, which is claimed to prevent that ‘getting out of bed on the wrong side’ feeling. Again worth a try.

    Anyway hopefully you haven’t stayed up late to read this saga of an article, but we really feel it’s an important message to convey. If you have any strategies of your own that have worked for you then please share them on our website comments section or on our facebook page.

    Sleep well!

     

    References


    Dettoni, J., Marciano, F., et al. Cardiovascular Effects of {partial Sleep Deprivation in Healthy Volunteers. Journal of Applied Physiology. 2012.

    Taheri S, Lin L, Austin D, Young T, Mignot E (2004) Short Sleep Duration Is Associated with Reduced Leptin, Elevated Ghrelin, and Increased Body Mass Index. PLoS Med 1(3): e62. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0010062

    Yi, s., Nakagawa, T., et al. Short Sleep Duration in Association with CT-Scanned Abdominal Fat areas: The Hitachi Health Study. International Journal of Obesity . February 2012. 

    Kobayashi, D., Takahashi, O., et al. High Sleep Duration Variability is an Independent Risk Factor For Weight Gain. Sleep Breath. February 2012.

    Sarris, J., et al. Participant Experiences From Chronic Administration of a Multivitamin Versus Placebo on Subjective Health and Wellbeing. Nutrition Journal. 2012

     

  • Why Your New Year’s Fitness Resolution has a Much Better Chance at Primal

    Making a new years resolution is a bit like breaking wind - it’s something we’ve all done many times over the years but the outcome usually stinks. A study by Norcross et al (2002) showed that while around 50% of the population are “resolutionaries” less than 10% experience any kind of success. In fact 77% of people have fallen back into old habits within one week. 

    Why Fitness Resolutions Usually Fail

    Fitness resolutions are always at the top of the resolution list. It’s understandable after the festive period where most of us cut loose a bit and give in to a few more temptations than normal. Weight gain is almost inevitable, as well as a sense of lethargy. It’s a natural emotion to want to do something about it, which is why January is the busiest month of the year in commercial gyms. But why are the masses gone come February?

    Reason 1 - Your goal is too big to manage or you have too many goals

    A good friend of mine recently bought me a copy of Leo Babauta’s book “The Power of Less - The fine art of limiting yourself to the essential...in business and in life”. Leo is the creator of the Zen-Habits blog, one of the most popular on the net with over a million regular readers. 

    In the book Leo discusses that when given a singular, manageable task people have an 85% chance of success. However when 2 tasks are given simultaneously that rate drops to 35% and when a third task is added the chance of success drops below 10%. 

    When most people write their resolutions it’s a laundry list - or it’s a huge and vague goal like “getting-fit” or “losing body-fat”, which really has several components to it like diet, exercise plan, sleep, stress management etc. This is probably the number one reason why most new year’s resolutions fail.

    The Primal Solution...

    We take all the groundwork out of the equation leaving your single task to be walking through our doors on a regular basis. And once you’re here we’re big on focusing on one thing at a time. For example when we carry out your structural balance assessment the screen may red flag several issues and imbalances. We wont try and carpet bomb them all, because we know that doesn’t work. Instead we’ll line them up and knock them down one by one.

    The only thing you’ll need to work on consistently by yourself is how you eat. But even then we supply you with the Primal Eating Guide, which is incredibly simple to use and has a step-by-step success guide to make sure it’s never overwhelming. For example we might begin by getting you to start by supplementing with a multi-vitamin and high quality fish-oil. It’s a task that gets close to 100% compliance and after a couple of weeks, once the habit has become permanent we add another task e.g. drinking a set amount of water daily, and then another task in a couple of more weeks and so on. Over the course of a few months your diet will be transformed both permanently and easily as each task was small, manageable and had a chance to take roots before moving on.

    Reason 2 - You’ve been trying to improve your body composition with cardio

    Where do most people make a bee-line for when trying to shed a few pounds? The cardio suite of course - to grind out a pretty meaningless 30 minutes on the elliptical. If you’ve tried this before you may have noticed some minor changes in the first few weeks but then results have been far from inspiring. When results stall so does motivation and you end up back on the sofa.

    The Primal Solution...

    Research has shown that when it comes to improving body composition and fat-loss, steady state cardio is a poor choice. Instead you should be turning to high-intensity exercise for both rapid changes in body composition as well as long-term health benefits. Nothing beats strength training for the laundry list of benefits to your health and wellbeing. We’ve written a whole article on this so for a detailed explanation click here.

    Reason 3 - You’re only accountable to yourself

    Being accountable to yourself sounds like a good thing, and it is of course. But human beings are wonderfully creative when it comes to rationalizing excuses for not training or making indulgent food choices. It’s in all of us so you shouldn’t beat yourself up so badly. You were probably set-up to fail last time because being your own trainer rarely works. Even the Primal trainers who are passionate professionals, suffer inconsistency when training alone and so we make a point of having training buddies that we are accountable to. We train together and take each others skin folds - we’ve even traded grocery receipts on occasion...

    The Primal Solution...

    Make yourselves accountable to us! At Primal we take pride in our individualized approach to training. We screen every single client for structural balance and take skin-fold measurements (when clients are comfortable) so that we can track your progress in great detail. We have invested in the Biosignature Fat Modulation method and software, which gives us incredible insight into the factors that affect your body composition status - and so we know when you’ve been working hard and when you need some extra but friendly encouragement.

    But accountability runs both ways. You will be accountable to us and when you fall off the wagon we’ll be there to give you a boost to get back on. We will also be accountable to you though. Because we individualize training we take care to monitor the progress of the program and if parts of the program show signs of slowing down, we change it. That way we are always riding on the crest of the adaptation wave rather than letting accommodation set in. 

    Reason 4 - The Gym is way too busy!!

    Many of our clients tell us that there is no way they would ever go back to a commercial gym setting. Especially in January, if you want to try and get anything physical accomplished at a Globo-gym type facility be prepared to climb over 50 people doing calf stretches in the squat racks while simultaneously avoiding dumbbell land-mines scattered all over the floor. Trainers who work in a commercial gym will testify to the fact that during busy spells there is an inevitable need to change the session on the fly (make stuff up) due to limited equipment availability.

    The Primal Solution...

    We just don’t have these problems! At Primal we have the 4000 sq.ft gym to ourselves, have a low client : trainer ratio and once the class is full, it’s full. We don’t try to squeeze more people in as we feel it dilutes the effectiveness of our program. Whatever equipment you need will be available whenever it’s needed in the program. It’s the place to go if you want to train like a professional athlete.

    Primal’s Free Consultation = ZERO Obligation

    So this year instead of starting with a bang but inevitably falling off the wagon, why not get in touch with us. We have an incredible history of getting results because we are passionate about what what we do and invest heavily on staying ahead of the game. Come down for a free consultation with one of our highly experienced trainers who will run a body composition screen as well as a basic structural balance screen to test for muscular imbalance. You have nothing to lose. If you decide to join you can get started straight away. 

    In any case, whatever your fitness choices are for 2013 we genuinely wish you the very best of luck!

    References

    Norcross, John C.; Mrykalo, Marci S.; Blagys, Matthew D. Auld lang syne: Success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year’s resolvers and nonresolvers. Journal of Clinical Psychology 58 no.4 (April 2002): 397-405.

  • Strength Training for Dragonboating

    If you’re familiar with Primal Strength or have been reading our articles you’ll know that our philosophy is centered on taking an individualized approach to training. Because of the way we chose to run our program we can’t herd 50 clients through a one-size-fits-all cookie-cutter session. While we do train in small groups, every one of our clients has a tailor made program. In fact we don’t even begin to prescribe exercises until we have met with the client and have put them through a rigorous Structural Balance Assessment.

    Once we have assessed the client our first priority is to deal with any dysfunction and we have never met anyone who is completely dysfunction free. Dysfunction is usually caused by a lack of joint stability, mobility, strength and associated muscular imbalances. This can be a challenging time as people generally want to get under the bar and be challenged. But if a person is unable to e.g. squat due to a lack of hip mobility then loading them and getting them to squat anyway is, in the words of world-renowned Physical Therapist Gray Cook just adding strength to dysfunction. This is a recipe for injury. Instead, during this period we make sure we are addressing the issues flagged during our screen while still providing a training response through the use of biomechanically similar but safe exercises for the client at that stage of their journey. It may take a little time to address each dysfunction but the upside is that once the body is moving properly the rate of strength gains increase at a much higher rate than those who adopt the “shut-up and squat” mentality.

    Being a good trainer was once described as being similar to being a good pilot. Before taking off a pilot follows a set checklist where he/she establishes whether everything is running as it should because if he/she gets that part wrong the effects down the track could be disastrous. Once in the air the airplane can get knocked off course by winds and turbulence and it is the pilots job to correct these deviations in order to end up at the desired destination. In our case the pre-flight checklist is the Structural Balance Assessment and the corrections are subtle changes to the program as the client adapts. 

    Now to get back to the topic at hand - dragonboaters! Dragonboating is understandably a huge sport in Hong Kong, and across the globe for that matter. Few water sports have the same history, promote the same levels of camaraderie or are as easily accessible to the novice waterman. Training is high intensity and places significant demands on the anaerobic systems, which we think is important for long term health (read more here). However the sport is famously asymmetrical due to the fact that each paddler will only contact the water on one side of the body for extended periods of time. Some teams make an effort to switch sides of the boat regularly but the norm would be for one side of the body to be stressed to a far greater extent than the other. 

    This is backed up in the research. A study by Pourbehzadi et al (2012) investigated the effects of high level dragonboating on posture. They found that almost all of the athletes studied had postural deviations as a result of the sport including increased lumbar lordosis, scoliosis and uneven shoulders. Dr Don Makenzie, the team Physician for the Canadian Olympic Kayak team believes that injuries from dragonboating have soared over the last 5 years as the sport has expanded rapidly. He considers the root cause of this to be the asymmetrical nature of the sport, which is compounded by often poor conditioning before the commencement of dragonboat training and inexperienced coaches who push too hard - too fast. He notes that the three injuries he sees most commonly are lower back strains, shoulder impingements and forearm tendonitis from griping too tightly. He also believes that all of these injuries are avoidable with well designed strength training. 

    Perhaps then dragonboaters could be divided into three groups:

    • those who do no strength training and are predisposed to injury
    • those who opt for one-size-fits all programs who add strength to their dysfunction
    • those who are able to source individualized strength training programs based on their specific needs, who stay injury free and enjoy the sport to a greater extent.

    I know which group I’d want to be in.

    We would love to list some exercises at this point but that would be missing the point. Instead why not make an appointment with one of our trainers for one of our 100% free/zero obligation consultations. We'll go through a basic structural balance assessment with you and offer you some starting pointers.

  • Structural Balance - The foundation of our program

    An interesting article written by Kim Goss on the importance of Structural Balance to address muscular imbalances. This is why we always use individualised programs instead of using cookie-cutter / one-size-fits-all methods at Primal Strength.

    Find the article at http://www.charlespoliquin.com/portals/0/pdf/StructuralStoryHiRes.pdf 

  • Does core training improve athletic ability?

    Does core training improve athletic ability?

    The “core” has many different definitions. For some we would be talking about the area between the pelvis and the ribs. Some will go as far as between the knees and the shoulders. Some will talk about the inner and outer core, local and global core musculature and so on. Regardless of your own definition, if you’ve been involved in strength training or the fitness industry in any way over the last decade you will almost certainly have been caught up in the “core training” fad. Certainly for a while there if you were caught doing any exercise that wasn’t directly training the core you could expect to be ostracized from the herd. Conversely you could justify doing just about anything in the gym if you cited the activation of your transverse abdominis. Program design was also based almost completely around direct training of the core and most trainers had a swiss ball permanently embedded under their arm. The bench press became the swiss ball bench press. The row became the swiss ball row. You’d even see people defiling the squat on a swiss ball - all in the name of core activation. 

    But does it actually do what it says on the tin?

    One of the most cited reasons for performing core training is that the core forms a transition area between force generated by the lower limbs from the ground to the upper limbs (and vice-versa in some cases). It was proposed that any weakness in the core would result in the dissipation of energy sometimes termed as power leakage. Thus it has been said that a stronger core = more explosive athletes. 

    A study published in September 2012 by J. Schilling et al. in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies investigated whether this was true. Specifically they studied whether core isometric endurance exercises (static exercises) or core isotonic strengthening exercises (dynamic exercises) were more effective at bringing about positive changes in athletic performance.

    Methodology

    The researchers randomly assigned untrained college students into either the isometric group or the isotonic group. The isometric group were prescribed the curl-up, side bridge and bird dog while the isotonic group were prescribed the bent knee sit-up, cross curl-up and trunk extension. Both groups performed the exercises twice a week for 6 weeks. 

    The researchers tested all subjects in various endurance and athletic performance variables before and after the intervention, including a vertical jump test, an agility test, a 10 yard sprint, a 3RM machine bench press, a 3RM back squat as well as three core muscle endurance tests. 

    Results

    There was no significant change in terms of athletic performance in either the isotonic or isometric group as measured by vertical jump, 10m sprint or agility test. There were some minor positive changes in bench press and squat performance as well as the measures of core endurance. 

    Conclusions

    Schilling et al. concluded that this study challenges any claims that specifically training the core will lead to any advances in athletic performance, at least as measured by vertical jump, sprint or agility tests. 

    Where do we stand?

    Firstly if you’re looking for a reason to train the core then it would appear that getting faster, jumping higher, or becoming more agile may not be backed up by science. This isn’t the first study out there that would suggest this. In 2011 Sharrock et al. published an article in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, which found a correlation between core strength (as measured by a double leg lowering test) and the overhead medicine ball throw but found no correlation with tests of speed, jumping ability or agility. Instead aspiring athletes looking for an edge would be better directed towards mastering the traditional powerlifting methods and/or Olympic weightlifting derivatives with appropriately programmed plyometrics (once strong enough), which have shown time and time again to improve athletic performance as measured by speed and jumping ability etc. 

    However there are of course other reasons to train the core - even if improving athletic performance may not be one of them. For example there are numerous studies that indicate that training the core may reduce the incidence of injury - particularly injuries to the lower back, ACL, hamstrings and hernia type injuries. When you consider that around 25% of the working population experience issues with lower back pain it couldn’t be a bad thing to add at least some element of direct core training.

    But there is an ongoing debate in the strength and conditioning community as to what is the best form of core training. Some say that specialized core training is not necessary in a program which includes multi-joint, whole body movements like squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, snatch etc, since those exercises are also known engage the core musculature to a large extent. 

    A study by Hamlyn et al. in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that using traditional squat and deadlift protocols (<80% 1RM) brought about very high activation of trunk stabilizing musculature as measured by electromyography (EMG) and suggested that there may be no benefit to calisthenic type direct core exercises when adopting this type of training. The deadlift has been shown score much higher EMG readings than a plank when it comes to activation of the rectus abdominis, external obliques and lumbar erectors. The chin-up has also been shown to record as much as 5 times higher EMG readings from the rectus abdominis (6-pack) when compared to a crunch (we hate crunches by the way - more on this in another post). Certainly the infamous Bulgarian weightlifters of old were noted for doing no direct core work and they didn’t seem to struggle...

    But there is an issue of balance. If we simplify the core into the muscles of the lower back, the abs, the left lateral stabilizers, and the right lateral stabilizers then we would want each to be balanced in terms of strength in order to maintain proper spinal posture and for each part to do their requisite amount of work. I.e. we want the strength of our core to be balanced front to back and side to side. Doing for example deadlifts will indeed activate our entire core - but it will not do so in a balanced fashion. EMG studies have shown that while a deadlift will indeed activate the rectus abdominis to a greater extent than say a plank, it will also engage the lumbar erectors in the lower back almost twice as much as the rectus abdominis. Similarly a front squat will engage the lumbar erectors almost 5 times harder than the rectus abdominis. 

    Conversely some of the best exercises for selectively training the rectus abdominis are hanging leg raises, ab roll-outs and dragon flags. While each repetition is shown to engage the rectus abdominis to a large extent, there is very little activation recorded in the lumbar erectors and so we often program those exercises into our sessions to offset the amount of training the lumbar erectors are getting from squats and deadlifts. This helps us to maintain balance in our core training. 

    This is just one of many interactions we are mindful of when designing our programs at Primal Strength. We will bring more information on this as the months go by but for now we would say - yes do core work but don’t assume it’s making you more athletic. Instead focus on perfecting the traditional compound lifts like the Olympic style lifting, squats, deadlifts, presses, rows etc and supplement them with deliberately chosen core exercises to maintain strength and balance in the core. 

    References: 

    Sharrock, C., Cropper, J., Mostad, J., Johnson, M., Malone, T. A Pilot Study of Core Stability and Athletic Performance: Is There a Relationship? International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. June 2011. 6(2), 63-74. 

    Effect of core strength and endurance training on performance in college students: Randomized pilot study, by Schilling, Murphy, Bonney and Thich, in Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies, 2012

    NICOLLE HAMLYN,1 DAVID G. BEHM,1 AND WARREN B. YOUNG 

    Trunk muscle activation during dynamic weight training exercises and isometric instability activities. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2007, 21(4), 1108–1112 2007 National Strength & Conditioning Association

  • How Much Protein Should be in Your Diet?

    Protein consumption is always a hot topic among training enthusiasts. It is now universally accepted that extra protein is a necessary companion for those who are training intensely, but there is confusion about how much should be in our diet and whether lots of protein in the diet causes renal stress.

    Firstly renal stress is a myth. Even studies such as the one published by Poortman and Dellalieux (2000), which have prescribed protein intake of up to 2.8 g/kg bodyweight (which would be perceived as a lot) have shown absolutely no adverse effects to the kidneys. Instead there is evidence to suggest that people who have pre-existing kidney disease should avoid high protein diets, which is perhaps where the myth began. 

    But the question of how much is optimal as opposed to safe is a more complex one. The current Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of protein is 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight according to the Food and Nutrition Board, Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs). However this amount was intended for sedentary populations and only to prevent deficiency and so would not be appropriate for those who participate in regular bouts of resistance training. So how much is the right amount if we are training hard? To answer that requires a bit of background knowledge on the structure and function of protein.

    What is Protein?

    Protein is made up of amino acids - often termed ‘the building blocks of life’. It’s an appropriate name because amino acids are responsible for:

    • our structure (contractile and fibrous proteins)
    • the production of hormones
    • the production of enzymes
    • the production of immune chemicals
    • the production of transport proteins
    • the replacement of worn out cells
    • growth and repair

    Amino acids are made available to the body when protein is broken down during digestion. While some amino acids can be manufactured by the body, there are nine which can only be absorbed from the food we eat and so are termed as essential amino acids. The amino acids then go into circulation forming the plasma pool of amino acidsThis is essentially a reserve tank that circulates in the bloodstream, providing the cells with their amino acid needs. However this tank must be constantly replenished. While fats and carbohydrates have highly efficient storage mechanisms in the body, protein requires constant dietary intervention to maintain amino acid availability. Keeping protein in our system is a bit like keeping a bath full of water when you’ve lost the plug - you have to keep on topping it up. But it’s vital that we do keep the tank full because without a steady stream of amino acids the body falls into a net negative protein balance and we start to see enzyme and structural protein degradation. Obviously this is to be avoided for our general health but for strength training populations it is critical that we have a readily available pool of amino-acids for anabolic (building) processes to occur. Creating an anabolic environment is one of the key principles for improving body composition and long-term health as is explained in this article.

    Nitrogen Testing

    While protein, carbohydrates and fats all contain carbon and hydrogen molecules, nitrogen is unique to protein. It is possible to track this nitrogen in the bloodstream using stable isotope tracers. This allows researchers to take sample populations (such as those who train intensely with weights) and measure their amino acid status against certain dietary and exercise protocols. This is the method often used to make recommendations on how many grammes of protein are optimal per kilogram of body weight. It can determine not only the amount that is effective for muscle protein synthesis but also how much is too much. This is because the tracer method can differentiate between four states: 

    • Deficiency where protein synthesis is directed only to essential organs, 
    • Accommodation where nitrogen balance is achieved with a decrease in physiological processes 
    • Adaptation in which protein is made available for hypertrophy 
    • Excess in which amino acids are oxidized for energy (converted to glucose and ketones) and/or excretion via urea.

    In October 2012 Szedlak and Robins published a literature review titled protein requirements for strength athletes in the Strength and Conditioning Journal. They cited research using the tracer method that would recommend a more appropriate amount of protein for avid lifters to be 1.5 - 1.7 g/kg bodyweight in order to fall under “adaptation” status. Anything above that amount would fall under the category of “excess”, which could not be utilized by the body for muscle protein synthesis. 

    How Much Protein Per Sitting?

    But of that daily recommendation of 1.5 - 1.7g/kg how much should we be consuming per sitting? If we take for example an 75kg person it would mean that that person would need to consume 127.5g of protein per day if we work from 1.7g/kg of body weight. How do we break that amount up?

    A study published by Moore et al (2009) demonstrated that when college-aged weight-trainers drank 0g, 5g, 10g, 20g, or 40g of protein after a weight training session, muscle protein synthesis was maximally stimulated at the 20g dose. Interestingly, there were no further increases in muscle protein synthesis at the 40g dose. 

    Similarly Symons et al (2009) found that when young and elderly volunteers were given 30 or 90g of dietary protein in a single meal, the 30g dose maximally stimulated muscle protein synthesis. Like Moore et al., there were no further increases in muscle protein synthesis at the higher dose.

    These two studies would suggest that for optimal muscle protein synthesis we need not consume any more than 20-30 grams of protein per sitting, which again reinforces the need to spread our protein intake over the course of the day rather than consuming a large amount in one sitting. 

    Some resources suggest taking your recommended daily amount and dividing it by the number of meals you consume per day. This makes sense but in some cases this will mean consuming more than 30g in a sitting. If you take for example a 95kg person who eats three meals per day you get the following amount:

    95 kg body weight

    95 x 1.7 = 161.5

    each meal = 53.8g

    Where possible we would recommend consuming smaller but more frequent meals to optimize the plasma pool of amino acids. If that’s not practical though - and for many it’s genuinely not - we would still recommend consuming the full 54g. Our reason for this is that there are other benefits to consuming protein besides just muscle protein synthesis. 

    For example Layman et al (2003) found that reducing the meal time carbohydrate:protein ratio from 3.5:1 to 1.5:1 decreased body fat, maintained muscle mass, reduced triglyceride concentrations and LDL cholesterol, improved the sense of satiety after eating and improved blood glucose management. 

    So if at times you need to go above the 20-30g threshold for protein in order to meet your daily targets, go ahead. While the extra protein wont result in increased muscle protein synthesis, the change in ratio between carbohydrate and protein will do you good for a variety of other reasons. In our opinion it would be better to be sitting slightly above the daily recommendation than below it. 

    Protein Timing

    Just after training is a key window for muscle protein synthesis though so make sure you nail down at least 20-30g of protein immediately after training with a readily available carbohydrate source. Many people find that the most practical way of managing this is through the use of protein powders although some people are able to stomach a chicken breast or two immediately post-training. For the rest of the time though we strongly recommend you get your protein from natural, whole foods. 

    Our Guide To Primal Eating

    At Primal Strength we provide all of our members with a comprehensive 45 page eating plan that reflects these recommendations as well as optimal amounts of healthy fats and carbohydrate along with meal suggestions and a success guide. We are big fans of getting our nutrition from natural whole foods where practical and we do recommend a protein source with every meal or snack to keep our amino acid pool topped up. 

    References

    Poortmans JR, Dellalieux O.

    Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2000 Mar;10(1):28-38.

    Do regular high protein diets have potential health risks on kidney function in athletes?

    Moore DR, Robinson MJ, Fry JL, Tang JE, Glover EI, Wilkinson SB, Prior T, Tarnopolsky MA, Phillips SM.Ingested protein dose response of muscle and albumin protein synthesis after resistance exercise in young men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009.

    Symons TB, Sheffield-Moore M, Wolfe RR, Paddon-Jones D. A moderate serving of high-quality protein maximally stimulates skeletal muscle protein synthesis in young and elderly subjects. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2009.

    Layman, J. Nutr, 133: 216S-267S, 2003. Layman and Walker, J. Nutr., 133: 405-410, 2003 Layman et al, J. Nutr., 133: 411-417, 2003 Layman and Walker, J. Nutr., 136: 319S-323S, 2006 Jitomer and Willoughby, J. Med. Food, 11: 606-609, 2008

  • Why Strength Training should be the Cornerstone of your Fitness Plan

    Go and ask ten people on the street the best way to drop a few pounds or get fit and most likely eight or nine of them will tell you to go do ‘cardio’. Most people’s definition of cardio involves the machines that plug into the walls at the gym. Treadmills, stationary bikes, ellipticals etc. Generally speaking people use these for prolonged bouts of steady-state aerobic work. While you probably will experience some success doing this in the short-term (when just about anything works due do metabolic disturbance), we disagree that basing your training on cardio is the way to go for a healthy body composition and long-term health.

    This article presents a case for high intensity forms of exercise and in particular strength training, which we believe should be the non-negotiable foundation of your exercise plan. We want to make it clear though that we do not think that ‘cardio’ is a waste of time or of no benefit. For example steady-state cardio has been shown to lessen the risk of cardiovascular disease. It is also correlated with populations who have lower body fat but there is a negative side effect of doing this type of training alone, which we will discuss. 

    What Qualifies as Intense Exercise?

    We’re talking about anything that gets us up close to our maximum heart rate, involving a large contribution from anaerobic energy systems (more on this later) - the stuff that we can’t sustain for long periods of time. Just a few examples are:

    • Conventional strength training (but only the kind that prescribes multi-joint, compound movements - not the upper body isolation exercises/chat to your friend type!)
    • Interval Training (running, cycling, rowing, boxing etc)
    • Circuit Training (with weights or body weight etc)
    • Strongman sessions 
    • Hill Sprints

     

    Where The Energy Comes From

    To understand what’s really going on when we exercise we need to have at least a basic knowledge of the three energy systems and the effect of using each one. 

    Energy System One - The Phosphagen System (Anaerobic)

    This system provides Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), which is the energy currency of the cell, for short-term / high-intensity activities (e.g. strength training/sprinting) and is active at beginning of exercise regardless of intensity, but also at the start of each high intensity interval. The system is able to provide large amounts of ATP very quickly but has very limited reserves - enough to fuel us for about 6 seconds of intense work.

    Energy System Two - The Glycolytic System (Anaerobic)

    The second system involves the breakdown of carbohydrate (glycogen stored in the muscle or glucose in the blood stream) to form ATP. This system is also powerful and is capable of being the main energy provider for about 30-40 seconds. However this process involves metabolic by-products which are known to bring about discomfort (‘the burn’), although this is not caused by lactic acid as once thought.

    Both of these systems are anaerobic systems, meaning that they do not require oxygen to work. 

    Energy System Three - The Oxidative System (Aerobic)

    The oxidative system, more commonly referred to simply as the aerobic system (meaning that it requires oxygen to work) is the primary source of ATP at rest and during longer duration/lower intensity activities like walking, jogging, cycling etc. The system provides ATP via the combustion of mainly carbohydrates and fats, although protein will also be broken down during prolonged aerobic training. 

    It is important to appreciate that all of these energy systems are working at all times, it is just the degree to which each one is used that changes depending on the intensity of the exercise bout. For example if you go out jogging the vast majority of ATP is being supplied by the aerobic system, with minor contribution from the two anaerobic processes. However when you ramp up the intensity by e.g. doing sets of intense front squats or sprints - it’s all hands on deck! While the anaerobic system is taking the lead role in providing ATP, the aerobic system is also working hard to support the anaerobic processes during the rest intervals. Try talking to one of our members just after the fourth set of front squats. You will soon appreciate that there is a huge aerobic component to strength training!

    So it can be said that while both steady state cardio and high intensity training both lean heavily on the aerobic system, high intensity training is the only method that leans heavily on anaerobic processes as well. This distinction is important. 

    The After Burn Effect

    So it’s clear that during exercise the body is supplied ATP by both aerobic and anaerobic processes. After the exercise bout has concluded the body regroups and goes into restoration mode. During this time it is necessary for the body to metabolize even more fuel in order to reload energy stores and depleted oxygen in the muscles and blood. Specifically extra fuel continues to be utilized because of:

    • Elevated core body temperature
    • Increased activity of the cardiovascular system
    • Elevated secretion of hormones that increase metabolic activity 
    • Energy system reload
    • Recovery of muscle damage 

    This process is known as Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) and is a key ally in the battle against the bulge. With steady state cardio the period of EPOC is known to be fairly insignificant - often only a few minutes. The story is quite different with high intensity anaerobic exercise though, especially when it comes to intense strength training. A study by Scheunke et al, published a study in the Eurpopean Journal of Applied Physiology found that an intense resistance training session elevated EPOC for 38 hours post-training. That’s huge! That means if you train hard on Monday morning, your metabolism continues to burn calories at an elevated rate until midnight on Tuesday. Now imagine training 3-4 times per week like we do at Primal Strength...that would mean your metabolism is elevated above it’s normal rate most of the time. The key here is this only really happens when you’ve been exercising intensely/anaerobically.

    Increasing your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR)

    When it comes to fat-loss, the extra calories burned by the EPOC effect are a bonus but the metabolic boost is temporary in nature. Eventually the rate at which calories are burned returns to what is known as our Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). However there is also a way to increase our RMR. It has been shown that increasing our muscle mass can permanently raise our RMR because muscle is metabolically active - and so more muscle requires more calories to operate. It stands to reason that if we are able to increase the RMR there would be a positive effect on our body composition. Similarly the caloric cost of any conditioning work that we do, be it high-intensity or steady-state could be elevated if we have increased our muscle mass. On the other hand Broeder et al (1992) found that even 12 hours a week of endurance training didn't raise RMR at all. This is an important point to consider because while calories burned during exercise are great, and while EPOC is a welcome boost the reality is that around 70% of our daily calories are burned by our RMR.

    But for muscle mass to be added the right hormonal environment must be created. As mentioned earlier, during the post-exercise restoration period the body up-regulates the secretion of certain hormones. Two key hormones, which have an intimate relationship with each other are Testosterone and Cortisol. Testosterone is anabolic in nature and so has a positive effect on protein synthesis and muscular growth. Cortisol on the other hand is a catabolic hormone secreted in response to physical and physiological stress. Cortisol attempts to help maintain blood glucose levels by breaking down skeletal muscle and adipose tissue to increase amino acid and lipid availability. It has also been shown that elevated levels of circulating cortisol has a negative effect on testosterone production, thus creating a net catabolic environment within the body. This is obviously a situation we must avoid if we are in the pursuit of lean muscle mass. Brownlee et al (2005) confirmed that aerobic protocols will bring about elevated levels of cortisol secretion and an associated reduction in circulating testosterone. Long-term this will lead to a reduction in lean muscle mass and assumedly a reduction in RMR. On the other hand several studies, including a long-term study conducted by Fry et al (2000) have shown that during a competitive weightlifting season the ratio of cortisol:testosterone remains on the anabolic, muscle promoting side of the fence. 

    Strength Training - The Elixir of Life

    There are of course more benefits to increasing muscle mass than just improved body composition. It’s a scary thought but as we age there are processes that begin to occur in the body that if left unchecked will deteriorate our quality of life in our golden years. The most problematic are:

    • Sarcopenia - the age related loss of muscle mass that was once thought to occur in our fifties but actually begins in our late twenties! It has been shown that on average we lose about 1% of our strength per annum from the age of 28. This has been shown to cause more atrophy in our type II (fast twitch) fibers, explaining why we can maintain strength well through life, but not power. If you’re sick of your Dad telling you how fast he used to be, give him a break - he might just be telling the truth! 
    • Nervous System changes i.e. The rate that the nervous system can conduct impulses to the muscles decreases. This also contributes to a loss of strength and power, which is important as these qualities appear to be key factors in determining functionality in later life.
    • Osteoporosis - a reduction in Bone Mineral Density (BMD), which is associated with increased risk of fracture.

    The good news is that all of these processes can be slowed down and even reversed with strength training. Numerous studies show that BMD is increased with strength training and studies by Häkkinen et al (2000), Kraemer et al (1999) and Schulte et al (2001) have demonstrated that both neural function and hypertrophy are trainable at any age. In fact Schulte et al reported that trainees in their sixties were capable of almost the same rate of hypertrophy as their ‘young buck’ counterparts. They also demonstrated that significant improvements in hypertrophy, strength and power were achievable in elderly populations with resistance training, and some of their subjects were in their nineties so it really is never too late! While strength training has been shown to have profound effects on functionality in elderly populations, aerobic protocols have been shown to be of little benefit (Fiatarone et al, 1994). Tufts University now teaches that the most accurate biomarker of longevity in humans is no longer blood pressure or total cholesterol but rather muscle mass, i.e. the greater the muscle mass in older populations, the greater the longevity potential. 

    Why then would we base our health on a foundation of aerobic training when it has been shown to reduce our muscle mass? Sarcopenia + an exercise plan that may reduce muscle mass is a strange combination for long term health in our opinion. 

    Still Need Convincing?

    Make a point of reading some of these:

    Summary

    Reference

    Strength training can help to preserve muscle mass and lower body fat better than aerobics.

    Geliebter A, et al. Effects of strength or aerobic training on body composition, resting metabolic rate, and peak oxygen consumption in obese dieting subjects. Am J Clin Nutr 1997;66:557-563.

     

    Performing only aerobic work appears to do little to prevent age related muscle loss and metabolic decline.

     

    Williams PT, Wood PD. The effects of changing exercise levels on weight and age-related weight gain. Int J Obes (Lond). 2006;30:543-551.

     

    Intense exercise can offset the effects of age related metabolic decline 

     

    Van Pelt RE, et al. Age-related decline in RMR in physically active men: relation to exercise volume and energy intake. Am J Physiol: Endo Metab 2001;281:E633-E639.

     

    Strength training increased EPOC and fat oxidation hours after finishing

     

    Osterberg KL & Melby CL. Effect of acute resistance exercise on postexercise oxygen consumption and resting metabolic rate in young women. Int J Sports Nutr Exerc Metab 2000;10:71-81.

     

    No EPOC was found for the low to moderate intensity exercisers.

     

    Poehlman ET, et al. The impact of exercise and diet restriction on daily energy expenditure. Sports Med 1991;11:78-101.

     

    Strength training increased EPOC and fat oxidation hours after finishing

     

    Hunter GR, et al. Resistance training increases total energy expenditure and free living physical activity in older adults. J Appl Physiol 2000;89:977-984.

     

    Strength training increased EPOC and fat oxidation hours after finishing

     

    Poehlman ET, Melby C. Resistance training and energy balance. Int J Sport Nutr 1998;8:43-59.

     

    EPOC is positively related to intensity

     

    Sedlock DA, et al. Effect of exercise intensity and duration on postexercise energy expenditure. Med Sci Sports Exer 1989;21:662-666.

     

    Aerobic training doesn’t appear to be a very effective weight loss modality for women

     

    Gleim GW. Exercise is not an effective weight loss modality in women. J Am Coll Nutr 1993;12:363-367.

     

    45 minutes of cardio, 5 x per week for 12 weeks didn’t yield greater results than nutrition interventions alone.

     

    Utter AC, et al. Influence of diet and/or exercise on body composition and cardio respiratory fitness in obese women. Int J Sport Nutr 1998;8:213-222.

     

    4 hours per week of aerobic training had no effect on weight loss

     

    Van Dale D, et al. Does exercise give an additional effect in weight reduction regimens? Int J Obes 1987;11:367-375.

     

    Interval training resulted in better fat-loss than endurance training - even though the interval training group expended less energy during each session

     

    Tremblay A, et al. Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism. Metabolism 1994;43:814-818.

    Wrapping it up

    In our opinion, when it comes to straight out fat-loss, strength training happily shares the limelight with other high intensity modalities like interval training. For example we are currently experimenting with the highly promising Bangsbo 10-20-30 Protocol to see how well it fits in with our Primal Strength sessions. We'll update you with information on that soon.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2N0Vn9hT0E

    However when it comes to long-term health and combating the effects of aging, strength training alone is the winner. Since strength training is effective at improving our body composition, health and quality of life as we age, we believe that it should form the cornerstone of every training plan. 

    But that doesn't mean that we think you should just do strength training. Conditioning work, be it high intensity or steady state must have its place in your training week. 

    On paper high intensity conditioning work appears to trump aerobic training for fat-loss as well as raising VO2 max. The trouble is that high intensity conditioning is very challenging, especially at first and it can become quite hard to motivate yourself for - especially if training on your own. On the other hand aerobic training is less daunting as the relative intensity is much lower. You can just plug in your ipod and off you go. It’s perhaps not optimal but for many people it’s something they are much more likely to stick with and so is definitely the way to go.

    For us, strength training is the only non-negotiable part, but after that it’s up to you. If you can keep yourself motivated to train at a high intensity all of the time then go for it. If not then make time for some aerobic work on top of your strength training. A combination of high intensity conditioning work and aerobic work works fine too of course.

    Put simply, a training plan based around aerobic training is for endurance athletes, strength based programs are for the rest of us. 

    In the next few weeks we will be releasing a conditioning booklet to be used in conjunction with our Primal Strength sessions and our nutrition resource A Guide to Primal Eating, which will be available to all of our members. More details on this to follow. 

    Other References

    Eur J Appl Physiol. 2000 Sep;83(1):51-62.

    Neuromuscular adaptation during prolonged strength training, detraining and re-strength-training in middle-aged and elderly people.

    Blankfort-Doyle W, Waxman H, Coughey K. An exercise program for nursing home residents. In: Ostrow AC, ed. Aging and motor behavior. Indianapolis: Benchmark Press, 1989:201-6.

    Molloy DW, Richardson LD, Crilly RG. The effects of a three-month exercise programme on neuropsychological function in elderly institutionalized women: a randomized controlled trial. Age Ageing 1988;17:303-310

    Brownlee1, Alex W. Moore1 and Anthony C. Hackney1, 2 ©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2005) 4, 76-83 http://www.jssm.org Research article

    RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CIRCULATING CORTISOL AND TESTOSTERONE: INFLUENCE OF PHYSICAL EXERCISE

    KRAEMER,2 MICHAEL H. STONE,3 PERRY KOZIRIS,4 JOHN T. THRUSH,5 AND STEVEN J. FLECK6 Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2000, 14(3), 338–343

    2000 National Strength & Conditioning Association Relationships Between Serum Testosterone, Cortisol, and Weightlifting Performance ANDREW C. FRY,1 WILLIAM J. 

    Schuenke MD, et al. Effect of an acute period of resistance exercise on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption: implications for body mass management. Eur J Appl Physiol 2002;86:411-417.

    Broeder CE, et al. The effects of aerobic fitness on resting metabolic rate. Am J Clin Nutr 1992;55:795-801.

RSS Feed

Articles Archive