Motivating Max Compound Training Theory (CTT)

We do like to bring you the latest in evidenced-based research but also plenty of applied material that comes from our work as practitioners. Forget the “Insanity” workout, here is a great method for maximising your physique development and calorific expenditure that we use with our own clients. We call it “compound sessions” and it came about from noticing that successful players in team sports often continue training after a practice match. For example, they might play a game of 5-a-side football and follow this with a 10k run. With our clients we might suggest something in this order: After a 15-mile cycle ride stop off at the gym and do a 30-minute strength endurance circuit. On the surface of it, that sounds like madness so it’s time to spell out exactly why we think this is a 27-carat training system: It uses the positive mindset and energy of the first session to springboard into another session. When we’re fired up and feeling successful it’s just a matter of doing a “little bit more”. That’s a whole lot easier in psychological terms than getting off the couch and going out into the cold in the first place. It maximises recovery time. Instead of straining our bodies six or seven times a week it makes it easier for us to have longer recuperative periods and hence faster development and greater longevity. Greater recovery periods also reduce stress and equalise our hormonal balances! It burns more fat- longer workouts necessitate a switchover from burning mostly carbohydrates to mostly fat. What this means is that, the longer we carry on past one hour, the more likely it is that we’re going to be burning fat. There are economies of scale- we only have to prepare for the session once rather than twice, only need one shower, only need to break from our...

Whey Protein- Some facts

Whey protein – also known as lactalbumin –  has been a bodybuilding and strength-training staple for two decades now but what exactly is it, and why is it the best choice for our muscle growth and recovery? Whey protein is in fact a mixture of lactoglobulin, immunoglobulin, and albumin proteins with various vitamins and minerals also present. One of the reasons it is prized by athletes and exercisers alike is that it represents a balanced source of all twenty three amino acids– which are the building blocks of protein molecules. Whey is also more utilisable for the body when compared with soy protein its ingestion leads to greater concentrations of amino acids in peripheral tissues. Whey protein also has a relatively high BV (or Biological Value) of up to 180 which means it is very quickly absorbed in the intestine unlike other proteins such as casein (a milk protein) or egg-white, which has a BV of only 100. Branch-chain Amino Acids. Of interest to exercisers and sportspeople is the fact that whey is the best known source of the three branched-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, valine) which play an important role in muscle composition. Not only are these the only amino acids to be used directly in muscle growth and repair, they are also the first to be broken down as the body exercises intensely. Glutamine. Whey protein is relatively high in the amino acid glutamine which plays a strong role in muscle repair and growth. What is more, glutamine aids immune system functioning and is thought to improve erectile performance in men, serving as an aphrodisiac. Anti-oxidation. The amino acids present in why protein play an antioxidant role. For example, Lactoferrin and lactoferricin (two minor whey proteins) function as antioxidants via their iron binding capacity, which inhibits bacterial growth and oxidative reactions. Amino acids such as Cysteine control...

The Power of Suspension Training

As a young trainer I was often bemused by the pronouncements of some of the older and wiser fitness instructors at the gymnasium where I worked: “you don’t need weights to build muscles” some of them used to say “body weight training is the way forwards”. I used to laugh inwardly and think that they were quite mad! As I have developed my knowledge and worked with hundreds of clients I have begun to revise my views. It is not so much the weight we are lifting, it is how we are lifting it and the effect that this is placing on our bodies- the intensity of the resistance. Some of the most impressive physiques on the planet have been built using bodyweight training. There is nothing new in using the body’s weight as a form of resistance through suspension. In fact, rope training drills have been around since the early 1800s. Suspension training, as the name suggests, entails using devices such as cables, straps, pulleys, harnesses, and ropes to allow the body to leverage its own weight against a fixed point. In the 1990s and 2000s, several prominent fitness trainers realised the potential of this approach to strength and conditioning. The products they developed included TRX (Randy Hetrick, former Navy Seal), FKPro (Mark Hammond, former UK football coach), and the aeroSling ELITE made in Germany. The advocates of Suspension Training have always maintained that, in addition to building strength in the active muscles, it develops core strength, and joint stability. These are advantages which should help us perform better in our daily activities, and be less likely to encounter injury. Equally, there are some concerns within the Sport Science community that individuals who are too weak may not have the base stability levels needed to support their own bodyweight in such a dynamic way- these people may not...

The emperor’s new workout: Fitness and Dieting mythbusting

Part 1- Introduction The world of exercise and nutrition is awash with clichéd advice of the “no pain, no gain” variety. So many views, statements, and myths abound that it’s hard for the uninformed to sift the fact from the fiction. Unfortunately, there is an enormous industry built around bending our perceptions and judgement to make use believe that only by purchasing products and paying experts can we reach our goals. It is totally in the interests of these people to mystify the process of body modification through lifestyle and fitness. As an exercise scientist with a doctorate, and ten years experience in the fitness industry as an instructor and trainer, I can assure you that, when it comes to the latest branded workouts, products, training philosophies, pills, and “systems”- they’re rarely what they appear to be. The money behind these brands, products and services would like us to believe that they represent the cutting edge – the best, most advanced, and evidence-based approach to achieving our goals. There is some truth in this, otherwise what they have to offer would appear obviously phony and no one would be interested. However, in truth, the constant cycle of new products (be they exercise aids, supplements, branded workouts, or the trainers themselves) is there mostly as a justification to take our money. It’s the same reason that food manufacturers regularly repackage their offerings and make a claim that something has improved, it’s purely to stimulate sales. Oftentimes we’re asked to pay twice as much for something that is, at best, only slightly better. Yet if the marketers can make us think that we “need” the item- that we can’t succeed without it- then they’re ahead in the game (and we’re behind). The industry wants to present itself as science-based but for the most part it’s commercial. There is just enough science...

Running Tips: Does Running Promote Sound Sleep?

Running tips: A recent research by Dr Guy Meadows of the London Sleep School points to the fact that endurance training instead of making one fall asleep as soon as the head hits the pillow, actually often leads to sleep disorders: He explained that runners: “Often end up absolutely physically exhausted, but mentally wide awake.” More than most, runners and trainers need sleep to experience body growth and repair. For example marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe famously enjoys 11 hours a night; sleeping – quite literally – like a baby. How then can those who engage in punishing exercising routines ensure they get their much needed sleep? Don’t overtrain! One of the classic symptoms of overtraining syndrome is a sense of fatigue but an inability to sleep. So don’t train beyond your body’s natural training and recovery limits. Don’t exercise within three hours of bedtime. Training leads to a boost of endorphins and adrenaline which ups your metabolic rate and therefore makes relaxation difficult. Avoid Caffeine after mid-day. Many endurance athletes rely on Caffeine as both an ergogenic aid (performance and enhancer) and stimulant. However the effects of consuming Caffeine may last for several hours hence consider avoiding Caffeine-rich energy drinks if you are having problems sleeping, especially if you run in the afternoon. In the evening you may want to substitute coffee or tea for decaffeinated alternatives. Regularise your bed time. Muscle repair and fat-burning appear to be linked to the release of Growth Hormone during the first two hours of sleep. To encourage the expression of Growth Hormone set a regular bedtime that allows your body enough sleep. There may be some truth to that old adage your doctor tells you about an hour’s sleep before midnight being worth two after midnight! Sleep foods. Although it’s true that eating in the hour before sleep is counterproductive...

Overtraining: When Less Is More

Winning the war against overtraining We have all seen our fellow gym members undertaking workouts that seem almost foolishly intense; completing ten or more sets of the same resistance exercise almost without rest in between each set. Such punishing work used to be the preserve of bodybuilders, but now a hardcore mentality seems to be ever more prevalent in our exercise culture and we are at risk of overtraining with such an extreme schedule. Accordingly, sports physiologists and physicians such as William Kraemer, a professor of Kinesiology at the University of Connecticut are turning their attention to recreational gymnasium users who train beyond their bodies’ limits. A philosophy of “more is better” seems to cloud the thinking of such exercisers. They forsake rest days and their training has no concept of periodic cycling, which refers to the natural peaks and troughs on the road to improvement. Muscles need to recover after the stress of lifting heavy weights, Dr. Kraemer explains. This process is called periodization: Rest days and easier days and weeks are interspersed with periods when the weights are increased. The training frenzy is fuelled by commercial fitness programmes which do not take into account individual’s personal limits and treat all people like elite athletes. Dr John Raglin, a sports psychologist based at Indiana University cautions recreational exercisers about the perils of overtraining: “Serious athletes recognize these issues … a lot of recreational athletes really have no idea.” Endurance training exerts different strains on the body to those imposed by heavy weights. In this case, it can take the body of a recreational runner, rower, or cyclist two days to replace the muscle’s energy supply Glycogen which is depleted during stamina-sapping activity. In fact, endurance activity takes its toll on the body in many other ways. Dr Bengt Saltin of the Copenhagen Muscle Research Center explains that; as...
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