Common Mistakes in the Gym

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  • Forgetting to train your hamstrings which are made up of three muscles. These are often over powered by the quadriceps which are made up of four muscles. Train the hamstrings in both knee flexion (leg curl) and hip extension (deadlift).
  • Not training in a full range of motion. Every exercise should contain a stretch and a contraction.
  • Training too much chest and not enough legs. Legs should be your main focus in the gym. The demand that leg training places on your body is enormous. If burning fat and toning up is your goal, your routine should revolve around lower body training.
  • Avoiding smaller muscles such as the Rotator Cuff. Training the smaller stabiliser muscles will increase your strength and stability in compound lifts such as the bench press.
  • Taking Bodybuilder style training programs from magazines is never a good idea. Firstly, these programs are usually a one program fits all workout. Secondly, they usually encourage over training and the only people who can get significant results on these programs are people who are using a growth hormone or steroid.
  • Doing too many exercises in one workout. Aim to shock your body and venture away from the stale three sets of twelve reps theory and train with volume. In a 45 minute workout pick four quality ‘money’ exercises and complete four to six sets of each. The different training method might be just what you need to break through that plateau.
  • Using pin loaded machines is for beginners. Train for real life circumstances and use free weights. There is never a moment in life when you are sitting on a comfortable chair and you have to push a perfectly balanced and equal object away from you.
  • Doing long endurance style cardio everyday on the same machine. There is always a need for endurance work as with every other type of training. However, the key is variety. Your aim is to train for as many different situations as possible. Use interval training one day (20 secs on 10 secs off), the next day use a circuit style of cardio and try to complete a mini triathlon (3km Bike Ride, 3km Run, 3km Row), and the final day continue with your endurance training.

Exercise of the Week: Closed Chain Leg Curl

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The Closed Chain Leg Curl is a great exercise to vary your training regime. It will provide a full body workout, all in one exercise! The movement is performed from straps which are mounted from a horizontal beam (Suspension Training). You can use Roman Rings, a TRX or an Ultimate Instrument. These ’nasty’ pieces of equipment can be purchased off the internet or in some sporting stores.

The primary muscles involved in the Closed Chain Leg Curl are the hamstrings, glutes and forearms. Your hamstrings are activated in this exercise when your knee is in flexion (bending). Your glutes will be activated throughout the entire movement as your hips should be completely extended. The suprising fact is that your forearms will be on fire as holding the majority of your bodyweight for 6-8 controlled repetitions will prove to be difficult. To add an extra challenge, you are more than welcome to add a piece of equipment called ‘Fat Gripz’ to the handle. This basically makes the handle harder to grasp, therefore increasing the load on your forearms.

To execute the movement, grasp the handles with straight arms while your feet are resting on a bench. You entire body should now be hanging from the ground. Make sure your hips are fully extended towards the roof. Now you can begin to flex your knee so that your upper body moves towards your feet and the bench. After you have felt a ‘horrible’ contraction through your hamstrings you can slowly (aim for 4 seconds) return to the starting position (a full body hang). As your hamstrings contain mainly fast twitch muscle fibres, you should aim for 6-8 repetitions at a slow, controlled tempo.

Any questions please leave a comment! Remember, this is a difficult exercise. Safety first!

Beauty or the Beast

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 In this day and age, cosmetics have become a necessity for most women and even some men. The statistics show that the cosmetic industry is constantly growing and today it is estimated that there is a worldwide annual turnover of US$170 billion generated by cosmetics and perfume.

Cosmetics were originally pioneered by the Egyptians in 4000BC. The Egyptian royalty were the forerunners using scented oils and eye colour; however they were often poisonous and containing lead.

Unfortunately, some 6000 years later, numerous cosmetic products still contain hazardous chemicals and ingredients which have been linked to serious health problems including cancer and reproductive toxicity. These chemicals are found in everyday products including lipstick, antiperspirant deodorant and shampoo.

Research on cosmetic products has also revealed that some contain ingredients which can inhibit your body fat and weight loss goals. These chemicals can negatively affect your hormone levels causing stubborn body fat to stay for good. In females the typical area of concern is the upper thigh and in males the chest is the main area where body fat levels could be high.

In conclusion, to evade the above conditions and illnesses always read the ingredients list before purchasing your cosmetic products. Below is a table documenting the ingredients and products to avoid.

INGREDIENTS   TO AVOID

PRODUCTS   TO AVOID

DMDM Hydantoin & Imidazolidinyl Urea

Skin Lighteners with Hydroquinone

Fragrances & Dyes

Nail Polish & Removers with Formaldehyde

Methylchloroisothiazolinone &   Methylisothiazolinone

Liquid Hand Soaps with Triclosan

Parabens or “-paraben”

Hair Dyes with Ammonia or Peroxide

“PEG” & “eth”

Anti-aging Creams with Lactic, Glycolic or AHA

Sodium Lauryl or Laureth Sulfate

Sunscreen with Oxybenzone

Triclosan & Triclocarban

Sunscreen with added Bug Repellent

Triethanolamine (TEA)

Diaper Cream with Boric Acid or Sodium Borate

The Facts on Vitamin D

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Recently studies have revealed that Australians have some of the longest working hours among developed countries. In 2009, the average Australian worked 1855 hours annually. According to ‘The Australian Institute’ this number surpasses even Japan. With a large number of Australians working indoors, it’s not surprising that over 50% of the population is deficient in Vitamin D.

Correcting Vitamin D deficiency will improve your mood, energy levels, metabolic rate, insulin resistance and your immune system. Vitamin D is crucial in the production of tyrosine hydroxylase, which is an important enzyme used to make dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical in the brain which carries messages to muscles and nerve cells. Without dopamine your 1855 hours of work would not be productive and you would be very grumpy!

Vitamin D has also been shown to decrease the incidence of type I and II diabetes. A study of 10,000 Finnish children given 120% of the recommended dietary intake of Vitamin D per day, showed a 78% reduction in the incidence of type I diabetes and reduced the risk of type II diabetes by a third. This study was conducted over 31 years!

This ‘super’ vitamin is also critical for weight loss. Detoxification genes are a key aspect of reducing your body fat percentage, and in saying this, all detoxification genes are dependant on Vitamin D3. This source of Vitamin D is produced when your body is exposed to direct sunlight. However, sunglasses, sunscreen and windows will block the absorption of this vitamin. The recommended intake of direct sunlight is about a third of the time that it takes for your skin to burn (this will change depending on the weather and your skin type). After this initial period in the sun, be sure to apply sunscreen and other protective equipment. Taking a walk ‘around the block’ in your lunch break is a great way to enhance your Vitamin D3 absorption.

The second natural way to absorb Vitamin D is through diet. Unfortunately, very few natural foods contain sufficient levels of Vitamin D. The flesh of fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel are the best known dietary sources. Small amounts are found in foods such as cheese and egg yolks.

In conclusion, Vitamin D is very simple! If you provide your body with approximately 10 minutes of direct sunlight each day and consume a diet with sources of fish, you will see a remarkable improvement in your general wellness and weight loss goals. If you are concerned about your Vitamin D levels ask your General Practitioner for a 25(OH)D test and your level should be above 80ng/ml.

Spot Specific Fat Loss

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In this day and age, most people want a quick fix! Just watch any exercise infomercial and you will most likely hear something along the lines of, “spend ten minutes per day on the ‘thigh master’ and you will lose three inches off your thighs in less than three weeks.” Sadly, this isn’t true! It is not possible to lose fat off one particular area of your body with exercise alone. If the infomercials stated that you could drop your overall body fat by 3% in three weeks, this would make more sense.

When you exercise, your body will lose fat all over, with your chin and cheek being the first sites to drop. The only way to remove a significant amount of body fat from a particular area (e.g. thighs) is through diet and lifestyle changes. By making these changes you will begin to see certain areas of your body change at a quicker rate than usual.

A common problem for women is fat storage in the quadriceps, buttocks and hamstrings. This is a result of the hormone oestrogen and a nasty process called aromatisation. Aromatisation occurs when testosterone (a hormone) is converted into oestrogen by a number of enzymes. Oestrogen ‘impersonators’ such as soy and plastics can cause aromatisation. Plastics are from the xeno-oestrogen family and are one of the highest sources of synthetic chemicals in our modern lifestyle. A great tip is to replace all plastic water bottles and containers with glass or stainless steal options. On the other hand, soy is a plant based oestrogen, which numerous studies have found to be carcinogenic (poison). Both males and females should avoid soy and plastics not only for body asthetics but for general health and wellbeing.

Another troublesome and much wanted fat free area for both sexes is the mid section. However, attaining the illusive ‘six-pack’ is quite difficult. Several studies have shown a direct correlation between cortisol (a hormone) and abdominal fat. The main reason is the stress of modern life, including long working hours, lack of sleep and too much exercise. When we stress cortisol is released into the body, which contributes to muscle breakdown, hypertension and obesity. Avoid doing lots of crunches and long endurance cardio as this will only stress your body even more and for very little benefit. For a toned stomach follow the formula: proper exercise + good nutrition + less stress = a tighter stomach!

In conclusion, by following this advice, combined with correct exercise and a healthy well balanced diet, both males and females will be able to decrease fat storage in certain problem areas of the body. It’s surprising the results that small changes can deliver!