UFIT Urban Fitness, Singapore's Leading Independent Fitness Provider – Fitter, Leaner, Stronger!

Archive for January, 2010

Race Time!

As a upcoming contestant in the Mens Health Urbanathlon I have been given 6 months free subscription to the magazine. Wow! I have to say it’s very nicely presented. It has some interesting stories so the articles that tell readers about people from different walks of life and what they do are very good. There was a story recently about a fellow New Zealander that is a world hill-running champion. He races up hills for 15-20 kilometres, man, what a legend! I was in the Margaret River at Christmas and I ran up a hill for a couple of  k’s, that was enough!

The magazine however also has articles that aren’t so good. In a recent article a (apparently well known) runner suggests that an individual should be doing squats at 20 reps or more at this stage of his training for the Urbanathlon. I would love to know the reasoning behind that statement? Anecdotally I guess if you’re doing a ot of km’s running an inexperienced trainer may believe you can train “endurance” in the muscles by doing a heap of squats. Unfortunately this is quite incorrect.

Think of it as this. When you’re competing in a running race do you do it with an Olympic Bar on your shoulders? With weight on that bar? Er, no. So why train like that? There are 2 things going on here in your program. 1, your doing running training and 2, you can be doing resistance training. In the week before a race, you’re in your taper so no need for weights, really. Afterall, a periodised training program is designed to offer specificity to the athlete for his/her event. So doing high rep-range weights is really not specific…..leave the weights alone. And in your training program NEVER do high rep-range lifting. Refer to  https://ufitsingapore.wordpress.com/2010/01/ (Weightloss – The SECRET!)

In fact as I have said before, high rep-range weights for ANY purpose except rehab/corrective exercise programs is a complete waste of time. Challenge me. I know there are people out there who don’t believe it so tell me why?

In conclusion I like the Mens Health magazine. But be selective in what you believe. Challenge them, write in and ask for explanations. I do bu they never get published, I wonder why!!

Injured, again??

Injuries. They are a pain, literally. As a sports fan I see players getting injured regularly. Michael Owen the soccer player has had a career plagued by hamstring injuries. Hamstring injuries seem to be a common issue even at “park” level. Shin splints are another and of course shoulders, knees and ankles are the more common joint problems. I want to focus here on “overuse” injuries like hamstrings and shin-splints.

Why do we get injured? We don’t warm up correctly, right? Well do you think Michael Owen warms up correctly? He has the best sports science on his side (apparently) but he still gets injured. And add to that list a heap of other professional athletes in various sports and disciplines. Of course accidents are going to happen but rarely do you “accidently” tear a hamstring! You may bust a knee in a tackle or twist an ankle landing awkwardly but hamstrings, they stretch and tear – why?

So you know I’m going to have an opinion right? Lol.

Our body is a series of muscles, joints, bones and connective tissues (plus the occasional brain, nervous system etc…) commonly described as the musculoskeletal system. The fundamental operational aspect of this system is the kinetic chain which is the relationship between joints, bones and muscles and what happens when activity occurs. From the ankles at the bottom of the chain to the cervical spine at the top everything functions, or is supposed to function, as a single unit. When activity occurs each part of the chain performs its function relative to the others.

The key to the proper functioning of our body is the kinetic chain doing its job correctly. Ankles, hips and the thoracic spine are mobility joints and knees, lumbar spine and cervical spine are stability joints. Herein lies a big problem. The mobility joints need to be mobilised during a warm-up and similarly muscles, they need to be activated. If these two key components are not addressed during a warm-up then problems will likely ensue.

A proper warm-up (let’s call it an integrated warm-up) consists of various components including self myofascial release (SMFR), static and dynamic stretching, mobilising joints, activating muscles and core activation movements. The key to the warm-up process is ensuring the kinetic chain is switched on and doing its job, any components missed can result in malfunction and injury. This is particularly so for more intense workouts. There is a warning here! Regular, intense workouts without an integrated warm-up will in all likelihood lead to a serious injury either an over-use type, muscle tear or a joint failure. None are good!

I wanted to focus on 2 injuries particularly. Hamstring tears and shin-splints.

Both injuries in a lot of cases have their “causal factor” being a problem with the kinetic chain. Remember mobilising joints and activating muscles! Too often we see a distinct lack of mobility in ankles resulting in knees becoming “mobile” (remember ankles are mobility joints, knees stability) and therefore performing incorrectly resulting in knee pain and/or lower leg issues. A lack of ankle mobility can also result in lower-leg muscle tightness and this results in shin-splints. Think of a woman that wears heels and then runs after work. The high heels are immobilising the ankles and doing a great disservice to the kinetic chain!

Similarly in our leg musculature we tend to ignore our gluteals. The glute max (the key muscle in the gluteal group) is the single largest muscle in our body and yet who stretches glutes? Who has ever activated glutes? If this is such a large muscle and it has a close relationship with muscles in the hamstring group (it does), what would happen if it wasn’t doing it’s job properly? Well the answer is the hamstrings have to “compensate” for the lack of gluteal involvement and over-work. What then usually happens is some kind of failure. I would lay money on Michael Owen not having ever done a proper glute activation! Big claim but I’d be keen to know! Lol.

The message of this blog is know your body! Establish a warm-up protocol that works for you! Beat injuries, particularly recurring injuries, once and for all! It can be done, you may need help however. Who do you turn to??



Do YOU train smart?

Have you ever heard the expression, “don’t work hard, work smart“. I guess there’s variations on the theme but that about sums it up.

You know its exactly the same for training? I mean we all have to work hard right? There’s another saying, “you only get out of something what you put into it”. No effort, ZERO reward! But the priority is firstly working smart. This means in the context of a fitness program, 1. establishing goals; 2. determining how to most efficiently reach them; 3. working hard!

1 and 3 are pretty easy but 2 is a whole different ball-game! I mean goals can be as high as you want, someone said to me once, “aim for the stars and you may just hit the moon, aim for the moon and you may never get out of orbit!” Ground Control to Major Tom! Yes it was David Bowie but that’s a different story lol. And as for working hard, well you either do or you don’t. You have the determination and the drive or you don’t have. Motivation IS something a fitness professional can sort out with you and so are goals but as I said, I believe these are the two easy bits. I know a lot of Type-A individuals with awesome skill-sets as individuals that work bloody hard in the office and out (gym, pub, golf course, dance-floor, Starbucks (on the paying side of the counter…)) but don’t make any significant  progress with their fitness. WHY IS THAT?

If we are stuck with a problem from a malfunctioning toilet bowl to an argument with our neighbour about a fenceline we first try and deal with the problem ourselves. Why not? Why spend money on a plumber or a lawyer (both VERY expensive, the plumber probably more so lol) if the problem can be resolved utilising your own resources? Of course once you cannot resolve the problem you call in the experts.

Now my point is this. Professionals dispense their services because that’s what they do. If you are NOT reaching your fitness goals don’t you think it could be time to call in the professionals? I mean your time is too valuable, life is too short and gym memberships are too expensive to not be training in the gym smart!

Did you know that UFIT is offering FREE UFIT sessions for the month of February to anyone that signs on to a Personal Training package with our new PT, June Tan! This is awesome value! Email us for more details below!



Weightloss – The SECRET!

It’s cardio right? Cardio and high reps of weights – low weight, high reps, that’s the mantra! In fact I was in Bangkok last month and a supposed “world-class” Trainer and Motivator told the audience just that. So that’s THE SECRET!

Er, No!

I am afraid to say that a lot of Personal Trainers here in Singapore are under the misconception that a cardio plan with a lifting regiment that focuses on low weight and high reps is a recipe for weight loss and tone. Sure some people may fluke it and get results from this kind of training. And if you’re one of the hundreds/thousands of PT clients currently grinding out this training program you’re thinking every day, “I’m on the right track, I’ll keep grinding, I’ll get there eventually, I’m sweating out so many calories I CAN’T FAIL!” Whoops, you can.

So what is the secret?

Well in a word, hormones. Yep, insulin, cortisol, testosterone, estrogen, growth hormone, these are the keys, sort these out and you will sort EVERYTHING out. And fortunately you do NOT need to be an endocrinologist to do it however your Personal Trainer should know the basics of hormone manipulation/balance. If he/she does not then either ask him/her to do some research or if this doesn’t work find a Trainer that does have the knowledge and skill-set.

So what do we need to know? First off food and exercise stimulate hormones, this is a fact and this is why what exercise and food program we follow works or doesn’t. For instance when it comes to weight management, first-base is focussing on reducing insulin spikes. What’s that? Well in response to eating carbohydrates the body releases insulin from the pancreas. Insulin is the bodies mechanism for transferring carbohydrates into usable energy stored in muscle, blood and the liver. Insulin is a massively important hormone due to the human requirement for energy for all sorts of activities. And insulin will slam the energy into the muscles, blood and liver quickly or trickle it in slowly depending on one thing, GI! 

A while ago a new concept was introduced to actually rate the speed in which insulin responded to carbohydrate and this is called glycaemic index (GI). A high GI means insulin spikes very rapidly and a low GI means insulin doesn’t spike at all, it kicks in slowly! But here’s the thing, if you eat high GI foods regularly the body spikes insulin and quickly looks to slam in the energy but if the 3 receptors, muscle, blood and liver are full, what happens? Well for all you people that remember your school science classes, energy can only ever be transferred to another state (it has to do something) and the ingenious organism called the human body stores the energy as fat. FACT!

Herein lies several HUGE issues (and I mean HUGE!). Doing slow long distance runs burn what fuel? (Hint, it’s an aerobic activity). Doing high reps and low weights recruits what muscle fbres (aerobic). Aerobic, on both counts. Does an aerobic state burn carbohydrate (glycogen)? NOPE! And on top of that science there is this. Long distance runs, high rep ranges in the gym are stress creaters. Stress means what? Cortisol! Double whammy! Cortisol is kind of like kryptonite (that stuff that can kill Superman!) to growth hormone. It suppresses it and is bad for us on other counts, for one it promotes fat storage.

Interestingly research confirms that a low rep-range and heavy weight stimulates growth hormone(GH) AND so does interval-style cardio training! Growth hormone does exactly what its name suggests it does, it helps grow the body. This is why professional athletes training for maximal growth use deadlifts, squats, bench presses and cleans as staples in their programs and do such exercises twice or 3 times per week (unfortunately body-part splits may turn you into a bodybuilder but will never grow you functionally).

So wait where are we at? Insulin spikes are bad as they promote fat storage. This means high GI foods are not good and this is usually the case. Long distance, continuous cardio and high rep-range weights are also no good because they increase cortisol and this is also bad. Correct.

Low GI foods are good because they don’t overly stimulate insulin and low rep, heavy-weight training/lifting is good because it stimulates growth hormone, very GOOD! Interval training at the track or fartleks are also really good because they also stimulate GH, brilliant!

I can hear all the women out there right now! Low reps, high weights? Noooooooo! I’ll bulk up! Another “wive’s tale”, perpetuated by uniformed individuals. So why won’t you bulk up? For a start to bulk up you need testosterone and women, sorry you don’t have nearly enough. You will if you “artificially” increase your levels and my guess you won’t be doing that! On top of that you need to eat a LOT of protein and if you don’t, well, you will NOT bulk up! If you follow the prescription above, you will lean up, get stronger, function better!

In summary a successful training program addresses food and training to manipulate hormones. A balanced hormonal profile will result in your body finding it’s true weight initially and afterwards, permit you to reach sports or other related goals, more quickly and in a more sustainable fashion!




Food (and it won’t be the last time)

I train at a gym in Fusionopolis (owned by a big chain), you will probably know it. I pay for the membership so they don’t need me plugging them (clearly). I usually finish training at around lunchtime (a benefit of self-employment) and sitting there with my protein shake watch hundreds and I mean hundreds of punters march into the building and down to the food centre to eat their lunch. Their $3.50 rice and meat or their $3.80 sambal stingray (how MUCH did you pay for that?!). Singaporeans love things being cheap and getting the cheapest food of any description is a national obsession. Radio DJ’s will tell listeners near lunchtime where they can obtain the cheapest chicken rice or nasi lemak.

So how good do you reckon this food is? For the seller to make money from a 3 buck meal means the ingredients are going to be pretty cheap. Therefore quality is going to be sacrificed.

Do you eat at local outlets? Are you sure of the quality of the food. Do you think about it?

Do you equate food to health? Oh sure you eat bad seafood you get food poisoning, we all know that. But consider this. Our bodies are constantly regenerating tissue, bone, skin, fingernails, hair etc. Where does it get the amino acids or the building blocks for this tissue regeneration? Yeah right, from our body but specifically where in our body? Food? Well, where else would it get it? From our embryonic beginnings we grow from the food our mothers ingest and once born, we grow from the food we ingest. So scarily we need to be aware of an old saying, “crap in, crap out!”

Elite athletes must always eat well. If they don’t they’re not elite. It is elite athleticism 101, eat well, perform well, when in training or competition. Is it really any different for us?

Some of us have really high powered jobs (not me, lol). Jobs that require high levels of energy, stamina, mental acuity and other meaningful qualities. Would eating well help these individuals? I believe it would and if this didn’t happen what could be the effect? Fatigue, becoming run-down, illness (flu, colds, etc).

So potentially eating well or even planning a healthy eating regime could in fact serve many purposes. An individual may work better, get sick less often and become far more productive in the long term. This could translate to success in the workplace and promotion, a new job or a better career.

Man, what are you waiting for!? Eat for success! How? Need I tell you!! Contact the professionals at UFIT!



Fitness Resolution 2010

Ok everyone it’s 2010 and you’ve decided to sort yourself out! Get fit, lose the extra weight, bust the thighs, move the mass, trim the tummy…….So, GREAT decision!

What’s the next step?

You don’t want to leave anything to chance, you want all the hard work to be valuable and worthwhile and work that brings about RESULTS! Here at UFIT we truly understand that RESULTS is the name of the game. Don’t take chances with your hard-earned cash, come work with us and see the difference!

Personal Training – It starts with the Personal Assessment (medical history, goals, functional assessment). And continues with Functional Training by qualified Trainers. Our philosophy is simple – “Train smart, Train productively, Train with a plan, Train regularly, Train your eating habits”

 Train Smart – This is common-sense training. We make no excuses, we use science-based training techniques, every session, period. We don’t want to waste your time or your money. We want to build trust and we want to build a relationship. Our Trainer’s are resources, tap into our knowledge and be a fitter, stronger and leaner person for it!

Train Productively – We take every step of the training principles we live by seriously. The warm-up is crucial. Fully activating mind and muscle so that every fibre, every sinew of tissue is ready and communicating with the brain via the central nervous system is absolutely critical for a workout that is both maximising muscle/core/joint recruitment AND ensuring a safe workout!

Train with a Plan! – Every Trainer has a plan for their client right? Well yes they usually do but is it YOUR plan, or THEIR plan? Did the Trainer explain what the plan was and how you would undertake the plan together? I have blogged previously about Trainer’s that tell clients they have a personalised plan and don’t undertake a Personal Assessment https://ufitsingapore.wordpress.com/2009/12/ Ensuring you keep your Trainer accountable is very important for the Trainer AND you! Having a personalised plan ensures a program that meets all your goals, the ones you have identified and the ones your Trainer has identified! The ones you agree upon!

Train Regularly– This doesn’t mean spend your bonus and more on PT sessions! You can of course! but it makes more sense to work some with your Trainer and keeping to your plan train some on your own or with a training partner! Getting into good habits regularly, forcing change on your body, feeling the great vibes an excellent training session provides and watching yourself as you morph into the best shape of your life are all symptoms of a regular training program. So go ask your Trainer how to best work a schedule that gives you the best of both worlds!

Train your eating Habits – I have to tell you that this is easily the hardest thing people find doing. I also have to tell you these days I find it the easiest! How? Well there are some secrets that we share with members and clients at UFIT but the reality is this. As human beings we eat too many calories, we eat the wrong calories and we drink way too much alternatives to what we should be drinking most of (yep, water). I gotta say again, this is easy stuff for us, let us show you how!!

UFIT Outdoor Bootcamp – This is the training program that a lot of people have been talking about. Our group is growing out of control and we are adding 3/4 more sessions in 2010 as a result! It’s awesome and we’re loving it and we know everyone that joins is as well. Our Bootcamp IS different, seriously! We use flexbands for strength work, we skip, run stairs, jump up onto walls, do balance work, always work the core! It IS tough but we have 3 levels so newbies don’t despair, we want you to join and have a great experience and then grow into the next level (blue!) We want you guys and girls to be safe and get a maximal experience at UFIT so we encourage rolling prior to UFIT sessions (rolling is aka self myofascial release and is a component of a functional warmup along with static stretching, joint mobilisation, core and muscle activation). Every Saturday morning prior to our 8am session we roll for 30 mins, come check out what it’s all about! So really UFIT is a truly functional training experience that meets the needs of many including sports-people, people wanting weight-loss, wanting tone, wanting more strength and greater core stability. It actually makes a lot of sense because functionality provides the working body with a lot of the challenges required by humans to meet a lot of goals. An overweight individual wishing to play sport comes to UFIT and begins to lose weight, starts to tone and get stronger, the core is being training all the time (functionality) and so once we get into the speed/power work at UFIT, sports conditioning becomes a no-brainer (this is because sports-conditioning is really quite straight-forward if you understand energy systems and energy development which of course we do here at UFIT). I am not suggesting that a standard UFIT session will meet the conditioning requirements of every sport but I am saying by doing UFIT you will start to realise what you need to be doing to meet the demands of your sport. And we are here to offer assistance as you go.

So there you have it. UFIT Personal Training and UFIT Outdoor Bootcamp sessions provide affordable, goal-orientated, functional training for a wide variety of needs. Talk to us and find out how we can get you on target in 2010 to meet your goals!