Body Composition

Why you should use performance based goals to track progress

Something that has become quite apparent to me in more recent years, is that most people make the decision to join the gym and start training as a way to make changes to their body.

And while there are certainly some exceptions to this rule (there are no doubt a select few who want to get stronger, or improve athleticism), you can guarantee that the vast majority of people who enter the gym want to feel better about themselves, and ultimately, look good naked.

And there is nothing wrong with this.

Improving body composition is a worthy goal, and working hard to make changes to your body can be extremely rewarding.

The issue is that when trying to improve body composition, people often measure progress through the use of weight related goals - for example: I want to lose 10 kilograms. And while I admit that I am not in the position to determine whether your individual goal is acceptable or not, I can say that in my experience weight related goals rarely provide any value at all.

Although it may sound like a good idea at the time, most people don’t realize that our weight tends to fluctuate massively in accordance to what we have eaten the past couple of days, how much fluid we have consumed, and how much exercise we have performed (among a myriad of other potential factors).

Moreover, if we are using weight training (as ideally we should be) to promote fat loss, then we will most likely see increases in muscle mass that coincide with reductions in fat mass. This would result in a relatively unchanged scale weight, despite actually losing fat tissue.

As a result, if your goal is ‘to lose 10 kilograms’, you might become disheartened despite actually making some pretty serious changes to your body composition.

In this situation the scale is not really indicative of all the progress you have made.

So what can we do instead?

 

Performance based goals

Performance based goals pretty much describe goals based around improvements observed in the gym or on the field.

For example, completing 5 strict chin ups, deadlifting 1.5X body weight, or performing 15 strict push ups are all fine performance based goals. These performance based goals have much more merit than weight related goals because they don’t rely on something as variable of body weight to track change.

And more importantly, these goals are truly indicative of the hard work that you put in.

If you start at the gym and can’t perform either a single chin up or a single push up, and then after 3 months of training can complete 3 chin ups and 10 push ups, you can be certain that you have made progress. These improvements are a tangible measure of all the hard work you have put in to your training over the last 90 days.

And seeing the cumulative results of your hard work is extremely rewarding.

Furthermore, I can guarantee that some serious changes in body compassion (aka a loss of fat mass and an increase in muscle mass) will have come along with these performance based changes.

And while these changes may not be identified as clearly by the scale, you can certainly see them (in both physical appearance and improvement in performance).

 

So In Summary

It’s unfortunate, but too many people seem to think that a reduction in scale weight is progress. I say unfortunate, because realistically speaking, I could go to the bathroom and see more weight loss in 10 minutes than most would see after 2 weeks of solid training.

While the scale does measure ‘weight’, it can be extremely deceptive. How do you know that you have lost fat and not muscle? or just fluid for that matter?

But if you see genuine improvement in your performance, then you can guarantee you are making quality progress.

Seriously, the sooner you make your goals performance based, the better off you will be (trust me).

 

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The Keys to Muscular Development

Something a little different today - I have a new article up on breaking muscle about three key ways we can alter our training to maximise muscle growth.

While we like to thinking we are putting in the work, most of us are not doing nearly enough to make lasting changes to our body composition. If your still doing a body part training split and hitting 3 sets of 10 repetitions for each individual exercise, then you have so much room for improvement that its not even funny.

If actually want to build muscle, you need to be willing to work hard and train smart.

hunter bennett performance

If you want to find out the best way to promote muscle growth, then you can read the article HERE.

Although seriously, who doesn't want more muscle??? (AKA click the link)

Training frequency: The forgotten factor for building muscle and strength

When writing a training program people normally think about two key factors.

Volume and Intensity.

While there is no question that these two factors are integral to promoting the growth of muscle tissue and neuromuscular strength development, there is one other factor that needs A LOT more consideration than it is getting.

Training frequency.

Training frequency refers to how often we train a specific movement or muscle group.

While body building splits (where we train each individual muscle group one time per week) are extremely popular, they may not actually be our best option for increasing muscle mass or strength.

It is commonly accepted that muscle tissue takes 48-72 hours to recover from a solid training session. As such, we actually have opportunity to train a muscle group more than one time per week without running the risk of overtraining (which honestly occurs VERY rarely in the weekend warrior…).

 Klokov trains frequently, and hes jacked.....

Klokov trains frequently, and hes jacked.....

 

Training frequency and muscle mass

Increasing training frequency is a great option to provide muscle tissue with additional weekly stimulus.

By increasing training frequency, we can effectively increase the amount of work a muscle or muscle group gets each week. We know that increasing weekly volume is a great wat to stimulate muscle growth.

Additionally, by increasing training frequency, we also increase the amount of mechanical tension our muscle tissue receives over any given training week. This increase in mechanical tension considered another key factor in triggering muscle growth.

 

Training Frequency and Strength

While increasing training frequency can have considerable influence on increasing muscle size, it is the way in which it can influence strength development that is arguably most important.

Demonstrating maximal strength requires the integration of both the nervous and muscular systems. The role that the nervous system plays in recruiting motor units and muscle fibres to produce force is extremely important in this demonstration of strength.

This becomes even more important during large compound movements (such as the squat, deadlift, and bench press…) where a large amount of neuromuscular coordination is required.

By increasing training frequency, we can increase our ability to recruit muscle fibres during these complex movements. This allows us to become more efficient (and subsequently stronger) at these specific lifts.

In fact, within most training circles, the completion of these complex movements is considered a skill. Put simple, the more we perform these skills, the better we become at performing them. These improvements come through an increase in neuromuscular coordination and increased in muscle fibre recruitment.

Furthermore, these increases in neural development are likely to have a greater carryover to our endeavours of athletic performance.

Increases in motor unit and muscle fibre recruitment will make use more efficient and more powerful during athletic movements such as sprinting, jumping, and bounding.

 

Practical Considerations

So we know that increasing our training frequency can have significant improvements in our ability to develop strength and build muscle tissue, but how do we implement it into our weekly training program?

The easiest way is to split up your training week into upper body and lower body days, in which each day has a slightly different emphasis.

For example, we might have a squat dominant lower body day and a hip dominant lower body day where both squats and deadlifts are performed on each day, but the core lift changes slightly.

The same can be said of the upper body days, where we might have a push dominant day and a pull dominant day, where although we perform both pushing and pulling on each day, the primary focus differs slightly.

For example:

Monday – Hip Dominant Lower Body Day

Deadlift 5x5
Front Squat 4x8
RDL 4x8
Walking Lunges 3x10
Single led RDL 3x10

Tuesday – Push Dominant Upper Body Day

Bench Press 5x5
High Bench row 4x8
Overhead Press 4x8
Chin Ups 4x8
Incline DB Press 3x10
Batwing rows 3x10
DB Fly’s 3x10
Single Arm DB Row 3x10

Thursday – Knee Dominant Lower Body Day

Back Squat 5x5
Sumo Deadlift 4x8
Front Squat 4x8
Bulgarian Split Squat 3x10
Reverse Lunges 3x10

Friday – Pull Dominant Upper Body Day

Bent over BB row 5x5
Overhead Press4x8
Weighted pull ups 4x8
Bench Press4x8
Seated Row 3x10
Seated Shoulder Press 3x10
Single arm cable row 3x10
Decline DB Press 3x10

So while this program is not perfect (certainly no individualisation...) it does provide a good example of how we can integrate an increase in training frequency into our training program.

As a bonus, the increased use of compound exercises associated with an increase in training frequency can stimulate greater muscle growth and strength development due to further increasing the amount of load (and subsequently mechanical tension) we lift for any given week.

 

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about training frequency!

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Sprinting for Fat Loss, Strength and Athleticism. The Ultimate Guide.

Whether you are a high level athlete, a weekend warrior or completely new to the gym, sprinting should be an integral component of your training program.

Not only is sprint speed an extremely important factor for athletic success, the act of sprinting can help promote fat loss, increase our strength, and improve our overall athleticism.

 Lean, strong and athletic

Lean, strong and athletic

Sprinting for fat loss

Let’s start with how sprinting can cause fat loss, and help us maintain a high level of leanness.

Firstly, sprinting is taxing.  I mean REALLY taxing. It ultimately requires the integration of every muscle in the entire body working at near maximal capacity to sprint at (or close to) our top speed. This alone is using up a HUGE amount of energy during our sprint session.

Additionally, due to the accumulated fatigue sprinting causes we also get a significant increase our metabolic rate up to 24-48 hours after our sprint session. This rise in energy expenditure is known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (or, EPOC), and can lead to serious energy use for a significant time after exercise.

These two factors are what allow sprinting to promote fat loss effectively.

A sample sprint workout aimed towards fat loss might look something like this:

-          Sprint 85% max speed for 90m distance

-          60s rest

-          Sprint 90% max speed for 90m distance

-          60s rest

-          Sprint 95% max speed for 90m distance

-          60s rest

-          Sprint 100% max speed for 100m distance

-          60s rest

-          Sprint 100% max speed for 80m distance

-          Repeat 2 times

These workouts should be performed on upper body days, or on cardio specific days. They should NOT be performed before lower body workouts because the fatigue associated will limit your performance in the gym. On the same note, they should NOT be performed after your lower body workouts as the fatigue form the gym session will increase injury risk while sprinting.

 

Sprinting can improve our strength performance

Undertake short, non-fatiguing, sprint work after your dynamic warm up is a fantastic way to prime the nervous system before a heavy gym session.

After sprinting, you central nervous system is fired up. This improves your ability to produce force rapidly (rate of force development for you science nerds out there). By sprinting before heavy lifting our nervous system is primed to produce maximal levels of force at a rapid rate, this means that we can lift heavier and more explosively in the gym, which can lead to serious strength gains.

A sample sprint workout aimed at priming the nervous system might look something like this.

-          Sprint 75% max speed for 40m distance

-          60s rest

-          Sprint 85% max speed for 40m distance

-          60s rest

-          Sprint 95% max speed for 40m distance

-          90s rest

-          Sprint 100% max speed for 40m distance

The idea here is to NOT accumulate fatigue. You should finish the sprints feeling quick and powerful, not tired and shitty.

 

Sprinting for Athletic Performance

Sprinting is a great tool to use to improve athletic performance.

Sprinting requires significant effort from the hip extensors (glutes and hamstrings) to produce force rapidly. These muscles are important for jumping, changing direction rapidly, and accelerating and decelerating, and as such, play an integral role in successful athletic performance. As sprinting can improve the ability of these muscles to produce force quickly, it can have a direct carryover to these other important movements’ as well.

Sprinting also improves our anaerobic capacity. During sprinting we are working at a speed well above lactate threshold, which requires the integration of our ATP-CP and anaerobic (or glycolytic) energy systems. By spending time where these energy systems our under significant stress, we promote physiological adaptations that improve the capacity of these energy systems. This results in an improved anaerobic work capacity, meaning we can work anaerobically for longer, and at a higher intensity!

A sample sprint workout here might look something like this:

-          Sprint 75% max speed for 40m distance

-          60s rest

-          Sprint 85% max speed for 40m distance

-          60s rest

-          Sprint 95% max speed for 40m distance

-          90s rest

-          Sprint 100% max speed for 40m distance

-          Repeat ONCE more

-          Sprint 85% max speed for 90m distance

-          60s rest

-          Sprint 90% max speed for 90m distance

-          60s rest

-          Sprint 95% max speed for 90m distance

-          60s rest

-          Sprint 100% max speed for 100m distance

-          60s rest

-          Sprint 100% max speed for 80m distance

In this scenario, we use short sprints to improve our maximal force production rate of force development, and then finish using longer sprints, which allow us to spend more time above anaerobic threshold.

 

There are some considerations.

Now, before you head out and start sprinting straight away there are a few things that you need to consider.

Firstly, if you haven’t sprinted since your last high school sports carnival 7 years ago,

Take it SLOW.

This means not exceeding 90% of your maximal speed for the first 4 weeks. This may seem excessive, but is important. Sprinting at speeds between 90 and 100% maximum speed is extremely demanding on the body, which increases risk of injury significantly. If you haven’t sprinted for a couple of years, this risk of injury becomes much, MUCH greater.

Don’t worry, HUGE benefits still occur within the 75-90% speed range. In fact, I like to keep the bulk of most people’s sprint work within this range, with occasional jumps up to 95% and 100%. This limits accumulated fatigue and associated injury risk while still maximising the benefits of sprint training.

In the same vein of thought,

Hill sprints before flat ground sprints

If we think about running mechanics for a second, a lot of people tend to get injured as they ‘over stride’. This is when the front leg extends too far in front of the body, which can result in hamstring injury. Running uphill is a great way to avoid this.

Additionally, the ground reaction forces are significantly lower as we sprint up hill, which reduces the amount of stress placed on the knee and ankle joints, reducing the risk of joint injury.

Similarly, try and keep most of your sprint work on grass or turf. Concrete, bitumen and pavement should be avoided as they are very unforgiving and create unnecessary load through the joints.

Focus on your sprint movement quality

This is an important factor to focus on that allows us to reduce soft tissue and overuse injuries. Keep the chest up tall, shoulders back and head in a neutral position. This will ensure that we are not leaning over at the hips, placing unnecessary stress on the hamstrings.

The movement should be fluid. This means nice smooth arm movement and smooth rotation of the thoracic spine. Elbows should be bent to 90 degrees and the arms shouldn’t cross the body’s midline – they should move only forward and backwards along the side of the body.

The knees should be kept high, and the foot should strike directly under the hips, NOT out in front of you.

Warm up effectively!

Lastly, make sure you warm up. And I mean warm up properly!

This means making sure we have prepare ourselves for movement by working on hip and thoracic mobility. We then need to warm up dynamically, promoting muscle activation and blood flow to the extremities. This should be followed by gradual build-ups, where we slowly build up sprint speed to our working speed of that day.

You should feel primed and ready to go before you start your sprint session. If you feel stiff and sore then you are not ready to sprint!

 

If you want to incorporate sprinting into your program but don't know where to start, or are interested in joining my coaching program,  fill out the form below.

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It’s Ok to take it Slow – The Benefits of Eccentric Training

The man lies on the bench. He is comfortable, prepared. Slowly, almost cautiously, he unracks the barbell. With elbows completely locked he stares at the bar with intent, a gaze full of resolve and determination, like a lion slowly preparing to launch from the tall grass and attack its prey. He takes a deep breath in, filling his lungs with an ocean of oxygen, and suddenly, BANG! The bar drops to his chest at unimaginable speed, his sternum compresses a full inch, where it proceeds to rebound rapidly, and then, time stops. A second feels like an eternity. The bar quivers with anticipation. His elbows sit at right angles. Slowly, oh so slowly, the bar continues its ascent. The bar continues making its shaky rise to the top. Legs flailing and man grunting the barbell reaches the apex of its journey, elbows once again locked out completely, the bar is racked. The man sits up, grinning manically, he laughs, proud and triumphant.

pressing-charges-7-bench-press-crimes-solved_10.jpg

What does this story have to do with anything?

In all honesty, not a heap. It just seemed like a good introduction to a blog post about the importance of using the eccentric portion of a lift to your advantage (which the man failed to do).

The eccentric portion (negative or yielding portion in some circles) of a lift refers to the part where the muscle is lengthening under load. For example as the bar comes towards the chest during a bench press, the pecs and triceps are getting longer while under load. Similarly, as you descend during a squat, the quads are lengthening under load.

To train safely you need to be able to control this portion of the lift. In the example above, the man doesn’t do this all that well, and runs the risk of injury in that bottom position (AKA cracking a sternum? Injured shoulder joint? etc, etc.).

While avoiding injury should be motivation enough to use the eccentric portion of lift effectively, there are a heap of other benefits that come with emphasising eccentric training.

 

Eccentric loading can increase muscle mass

Controlled eccentric loading increases muscle damage which in turn can result in greater increases in hypertrophy. Additionally, by increasing the eccentric portion of a lift you also increase total time under tension (TUT), which is a key factor in muscle growth. 

By making sure you control the eccentric portion of every single rep you will maximise the opportunity for muscle growth. Using 3 second eccentric lowers on your assistance exercises is a great way to promote greater muscle growth.

Get Stronger

Most people are weakest where the exercise turns from eccentric loading to concentric loading (bottom of the squat). By slowing the rep down you get to spend more time in these weak points, and as a result, will increase strength at these weak points.

More Flexible

Eccentric training has shown to actually improve flexibility, in some cases even more than stretching! Particularly when using heavy load and really focusing on the negative portion of the lift. Think 3-5 seconds heavy eccentrics.

Improved technique

By Slowing down a rep you are forced to control the load throughout the duration of the movement, while maintaining the best (safest) positions (straight back, chest up etc.). By getting stronger in these ideal positions you improve your technical proficiency, making you better at specific lifts.

 

Now by no means do I condone using really slow eccentric loading all the time, but it definitely has its place. It’s important to remember that the concentric portion of the lift should still be as explosive as possible to maximise your strength gains.

If your not sure how to incorporate eccentric training into your programming, or just are not sure where to start, contact me below.

 

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Full Body Training – Why the bad rap?

Full body workouts are hands down the most time efficient way of working out, without question. If you’re limited to 2-3 three sessions per week, then full body sessions are definitely your answer. But then, even if you’re not limited by time, they can be a seriously efficient and effective way of training.

But for some reason they are genuinely underutilized, often considered only for beginner or novice routines, with most people tending to opt for a body part split instead.

Whilst body part splits can still lead to some serious gainzz if implemented correctly (and with right population), they do not have the same set of advantages that full body workouts do.

hunter bennett performance. full body. training. workout. gym. fitness. health. fat loss.

Advantage 1: More energy spent

Full body workouts revolve around one or two compound movements per movement pattern, ditching the use of any isolation movements. These exercises often require the integration of the entire body, and as such means that they use multiple muscle groups per exercise. This in turn, results in wayyyy more energy being used per session than we are likely to see during other programming ’styles’. This in turn can contribute to fat loss and body composition goals.

Advantage 2: Greater training frequency

Full body workouts provide the opportunity to train particular muscle groups and specific lifts more than once per week, which therefore provides greater opportunity to build strength in those movements, and increase the size of those muscle groups.

An increase in training frequency can often be enough to stimulate some serious strength gains in people who tend to train a particular lift or muscle group only once per week.

Advantage 3: Greater opportunity for recovery

It could be argued that we don’t get bigger or stronger from the training we undertake, but rather the way in which we recover from it.

By training 3 times per week we give ourselves more time to recover, which could theoretically further increase our improvements in strength and further contribute to muscle hypertrophy.

Advantage 4: More Free time

Training 3 times per week is probably going to take less time out of your week than training each individual muscle group once per week, which leaves you with a bit more time for other things, whether it be an additional cardio session, going to dinner with your significant, spending time with your family, or watching season 1-5 of Game of Thrones (again....).

Programming Considerations.

Rather than body parts or muscle groups, full body workouts are better built around movement patterns.

For example:

Knee Dominant: Squat variations, Split Squat variations
Hip Dominant: Deadlift Variations, Single leg deadlift Variations, Hip Thrust Variations
Horizontal Push: Bench Press, Push ups etc.
Horizontal Pull: Bent over rows, Dumbbell Rows, face pulls etc.
Vertical Push: Overhead Press, handstand push ups, etc.
Vertical Pull: Pull Ups, Lat pull down, etc.

Using one or two movements from each of these categories would be a fantastic way to produce a balanced full body training program, which might look a bit like this.

1A: Front Squat
1B: Pull Ups

2A: Deadlift
2B: Weighted Push Ups

3A: Bulgarian Split Squat
3B: Face Pulls

4A: Barbell Overhead Press
4B: Bent Over Row

Add in some core work at the end there and BOOM! You have a time efficient full body program that you can use.

Now obviously this program isn’t perfect for everyone. For those aiming to increase their Big 3, they are much more likely to prioritize the Squat, Bench and Deadlift. For those who prefer bodyweight training, they can prioritize gymnastics based movements.

What I wanted to demonstrate is that full body workouts are an efficient and effective way of training that can be tailored to your individual goal, and shouldn't be discounted just because your favourite bodybuilder has a chest day on youtube.

 

If your not sure where to start, fill out the contact form below and i will be in touch soon!

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High Intensity Interval Training. An alternative to steady state cardio.

Cardio.

A word that (somewhat unnecessarily) produces feelings of fear and terror in gym goers around the world.

Ok, so maybe fear and terror aren't quite accurate, but nonetheless people are certainly worried about doing cardio. You know, ‘cause you’ll lose all your gainz, brah’

But seriously, I think the inclusion of some form of cardio can be important for both the weekend warrior and athlete alike. 

Cardiovascular, or Aerobic, training can improve your general physical preparedness, which in turn can directly improve your recovery both between sessions, and during sessions, which is going to improve the overall results of your training. Not to mention there are obvious health benefits that are associated with having a well-developed cardiovascular system (reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes for example...). And of course, for the more athletic populations, having a well-developed aerobic system is essential to performing well.

Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t particularly enjoy cardio all that much. I don’t really like sitting in the gym, staring at a wall, turning my legs over and over for hours at a time. And don’t even get me started on running (I am not a particularly good runner..).

So what can I do?

Let me introduce High intensity interval training .

hunter bennett performance high intesnity interval training, cardio, sprint, fitness, health, interval taining

High Intensity Interval Training

Combines short bouts of high intensity activity with short (sometimes longer) bouts of low intensity activity or inactivity. A simple example would be running and walking, where you might run quickly for 30s and then walk for 60s for a duration of 20 minutes.

It’s a relatively simple concept that has shown to significantly improve aerobic capacity, aid fat loss and improve cardiovascular function.

And the best bit?

It takes very little time!

Now in saying that, most protocols are difficult, and can be quite taxing, and as such may it may not be suitable for the relatively untrained individual. For them building a solid foundation of aerobic capacity through lower intensity aerobic work may be a more beneficial way to go, before commencing higher intensity intervals.

Now, here a couple of protocols that I like to use regularly that you can quickly introduce into your own training. I typically use these with running if im outside or on the stationary bike if im at the gym, although there is no reason they cannot be used on the rower or X-trainer if that is your preference.

Example 1.

2 sets of 15s High intensity (80-90% max speed) 15s rest (inactive) for 8 minutes duration, with 4 minutes between sets.

Example 2.

60s of high intensity (~70% max speed) with 90s light intensity activity, for 20 minutes.

Boom!

Just like that, 2 easy protocols that can be implemented into your week that take less than 30 minutes each.

Ideally undertaking this sort of interval training twice per week is enough to improve aerobic capacity and help body composition goals.

If you like to do cardio and weights in the same day, I would recommend using one of these after your weight session, as doing it before is likely to leave significant fatigue and impact your ability to perform in the gym.

There you have it, a brief spiel on Interval training.

 

If you would like to find out how to incorporate interval training into your workout you can contact me here.

Can you eat too many Eggs?

This blog post comes from a place very close to my heart.

I enjoy food. A lot. And one of my favourites are eggs. But unfortunately, they have a pretty negative reputation, which has been created through misinformed, fear mongering eggophobes (look it up, its a thing).

Hunter Bennett Performance. Eggs, Strength, Protein, Fat loss, Hypertrophy

Eggs tend to get a bad rap based on the moderate amount of cholesterol they contain, and the assumption that dietary cholesterol intake directly increases blood cholesterol (which is also perceived as bad). Interestingly, our body is a pretty clever piece of machinery, and doesn’t quite work like this.

Your body actually produces cholesterol. A heap of it each day (up to 10 times of that found in an egg). And interestingly, when you consume more cholesterol (eat eggs), your body makes less of it. And vice versa. In fact, consuming more eggs has actually shown to cause increases in blood HDL (good cholesterol) with subsequent decreases in blood LDL (bad cholesterol) 

This means that the consumption of eggs won’t negatively impact blood cholesterol, and therefore doesn’t increase the risk of heart disease. Now that we hunderstand why we don’t have to avoid eggs, here is a few reasons as to why we should eat more of them.

Whole eggs are one of the most nutritious food on the planet

Eggs are nutrient dense. They are full of vitamins, minerals, good fats and a heap of other nutrients. They contain significant amounts of Vitamin A, B12, B2, B5 and selenium, with small amounts of Calcium, Iron, Potassium, Zinc, Folate and a HEAP more (all of which are in the yolk, so eat your yolks people).

Not to mention a large egg contains 5-7 grams of protein (with all 9 essential amino acids!). Seriously, one of the easiest ways to eat more protein is to eat eggs at breakfast. Breakfast Gainz.


Eggs are rich in antioxidants

Eggs are rich two important antioxidants Lutein and Zeaxanthine.

These antioxidants have been shown to gather in the eye and protect against various eye diseases such as Macular Degeneration and Cataracts

Improved night vision? Maybe.


Eggs are filling and have shown to aid fat loss

Eggs score fairly high on the Satiety Index, which suggests that they have the capacity to make you feel full, irrespective of their relatively low energy content. It has been seen that those who eat eggs for breakfast rather than a carbohydrate dense food such as bagels tend to eat less throughout the day.

They have also suggested to improve rate of fat loss compared to carbohydrate rich foods when eaten for breakfast, as demonstrated in an interesting study by Vander Wal (2008). In which, overweight men and women ate either eggs or bagels for breakfast for 8 weeks. The breakfast contained the SAME amount of calories. After the 8 week period the egg group had significantly greater reductions in BMI, weight loss, waist circumference, and body fat compared to the bagel group, despite both meals containing the same amount of energy.


To summarise: Eggs are boss. The next time you’re out for breakfast don’t feel guilty when ordering an 8 egg omelette, and if by some chance the waiter decides to make a snide remark about 'egg cholesterol', feel free to drop some of the knowledge bombs mentioned in this post.







References

Fernandez, Maria Luz. "Dietary cholesterol provided by eggs and plasma lipoproteins in healthy populations." Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care 9.1 (2006): 8-12.

Mutungi, Gisella, et al. "Eggs distinctly modulate plasma carotenoid and lipoprotein subclasses in adult men following a carbohydrate-restricted diet."The Journal of nutritional biochemistry 21.4 (2010): 261-267.

Gale, Catharine R., et al. "Lutein and zeaxanthin status and risk of age-related macular degeneration." Investigative ophthalmology & visual science 44.6 (2003): 2461-2465.

Delcourt, Cécile, et al. "Plasma lutein and zeaxanthin and other carotenoids as modifiable risk factors for age-related maculopathy and cataract: the POLA Study." Investigative ophthalmology & visual science 47.6 (2006): 2329-2335.

Vander Wal, Jillon S., et al. "Short-term effect of eggs on satiety in overweight and obese subjects." Journal of the American College of Nutrition 24.6 (2005): 510-515.

Vander Wal, J. S., et al. "Egg breakfast enhances weight loss." International Journal of obesity 32.10 (2008): 1545-1551.

Strength Training and Fat Loss?

Its pretty common knowledge that to lose fat you simply need to eat less and exercise more right? Most likely of the cardio variety?

Would you be shocked to hear me say no?

Well maybe not a flat out No, but more of a 'not necessarily'....

While it might seem unconventional to some of you, heavy resistance training (think lifting big weights) may be a better way to go.

In this blog post I explain (or at least try too) the large role strength training can play in improving body composition. Although this notion may go against some ‘conventional’ thoughts and opinions on the topic of fat loss, it will hopefully help provide you with a greater understanding of the different tools and training methods we can use to get promote fat loss, without spending hours of our week on the treadmill.

 

Strength as a Cup

The best analogy I have heard (pretty sure I can thank Dan Jon for this one) is strength being described as a cup.  All of the other fitness components are the liquid inside that cup. By fitness components I am talking about our absolute work capacity, our ability to demonstrate muscular power and muscular endurance and obviously our ability to express force (be stong).

In regards to fat loss, the larger the cup (the greater our strength) the more load we can lift per rep, the more total work we can perform in a session, which in turn increases the amount of total energy we use complete, and recover from, the session.

 

Strength training builds lean mass

That ‘toned’ look people are always talking about. You know the one - ‘I don’t want to get big, I just want to tone up’ – sounds familiar right?

Interesting fact: you can’t ‘tone’ your muscles. Better muscle definition occurs by building muscle and losing fat around those muscles, making them more visible and ‘defined’.

Heavy resistance training builds muscle. By building more muscle we not only create more lean mass relative to our fat mass (which therefore causes a subsequent decrease in body fat percentage), but as muscle is highly metabolic tissue, we also increase our basal metabolic rate (the amount of energy we burn at rest). By increasing our basal metabolic rate, we increase the amount of energy we burn every day, irrespective of the exercise we perform that day! By adding lean mass you can literally increase the amount of energy you burn when you’re at work, on the couch or lying in bed! All it takes is performing heavy resistance training 2-3 times per week.

 

Heavy strength training requires muscle mass

Heavy resistance training stimulates high threshold motor units, and therefore recruits a near maximal amount of muscle fibres. This neural stimulus reinforces a need to maintain muscle mass. As decreasing fat mass typically involves an energy deficit, lifting heavy can help maintain muscle mass whilst in this deficit. Adding to the point above, it can help maintain a high metabolic rate whilst still reducing caloric intake, potentially increasing the amount of lean mass maintained during a ‘cutting phase’, so to speak.

 

Strength training is both hard and rewarding

Heavy strength training is hard. Busting out a new 5 rep max for deadlifts is taxing. Very taxing. Not only does it require physical strength but mental strength too. That ability to push through is important, and necessary. It builds confidence in your strength and ability both inside and outside the gym, and has carry over to everyday life. Once the set is done there is a sense of accomplishment. This sense of accomplishment is important, as it keeps you motivated and drives you to continue training. Arguably the most important thing required to incur significant changes in body composition is consistency. If that sense of accomplishment improves adherence to training it can go a long way to help you reach your physical goals.

 

I have only touched briefly on the HUGE benefits strength training can provide, but hope to have altered your perspective on training to improve body composition, if even a little.

If you’re not particularly confident in introducing heavy resistance training into your workout, or don’t really know where to start, please feel free to contact me via my about page.

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