Most gyms will advertise how their sessions are ‘always different’ or have ‘variety every day’. The rationalisation is to ‘keep the body guessing’. This concept can work in the short term, especially if your training level is very low, but what will work better for everyone in the long term is following a system. The system in strength training is called periodization. This really just means organising and planning your training ahead of time.
This system will allow us to be systematic in nature to ensure we are forcing the body to adapt to more work over time. The only way to do this is to keep many of the variables the same (such as exercise selection) and increase one prescription variable such as load, volume, range of movement or density. If we change everything to call it ‘keeping the body guessing’ we lose the approach of building one layer upon the next. The biggest key element to you being in the best shape of your life is being the strongest you have been relative to your body weight. If you increase your 5 rep max squat or your 5 rep max dip to the highest it’s been at a consistent body weight you can almost guarantee you are in the best shape of your life. There is no chance to do this without some level of progressive overload.
If you are training by yourself – a training journal should be a staple
Following some planning to get ongoing results doesn’t mean you have to do the same thing for months on end. Psychological factors are also important to take into account. We use 4 week blocks which we find is a happy medium for those that are less comfortable with change and those that tend to get bored. Four weeks allows us to learn the movement and feel it out in week 1 and then build upon it for three more weeks. The next block will then change all the assistant exercises and often change the main exercise slightly – say from a back squat to a front squat. Each 2 blocks (8 weeks) we retest all our main movements to get objective feedback on what we are doing. 90% of the time our members see themselves get stronger. The outcome? More empowerment and more buy in. This just breeds long term success.
If you want to know more about our system of training (not just exercising) then please send us a message or email. You may think ‘I’m not ready for this training’ but I guarantee we can scale it to you so you can progress safely over time.
Although we don’t market ourselves as a gym that’s about aesthetics – the large proportion of clientele that come to us (and any gym) still would like to lose body fat and possibly gain some muscle. A big problem in today’s society, that is being played out by the fitness industry so well is that people have been told that they need to exercise more and eat less to lose weight. It is true and there is indisputable evidence to show that energy in versus energy out needs to be swinging the right way to lose weight (or gain weight). However this truth has also led us astray in how we go about it which is affecting our ability to be lean the way we would like long term.
The problem stems from the fact that we already live in a society that most of us feel is pushing us to do more and be more. More time at work. More deadlines. More pushing through the day with back to back meetings and having no time to eat, let alone take a deep breath or get outside. More pressure to meet the big mortgage repayments to live in the big house that we need. To drive the nice car that we need. So what happens when we believe that we need to start pushing ourselves more by ‘smashing ourselves’ at the gym?
What happens is that we join a gym and have this association that the more we sweat, the higher our heart rate, the more we are sore, the better our weight loss will be. This may get us some short term wins (great!) but in the long term all we are really doing at this point is:
Adding more stress and more feeling of pressure to our already long list of pressures
We are putting band aids on the root problem
We are trying to make up for lost time (not possible)
The main problem with the above approach is simply we don’t have the foundation to support this type of training where the goal is to ‘flog’ yourself. The foundation of consistent quality sleep (7-9 hours), of stress management and of sound nutrition. When we don’t have the above foundation solid and we add in regular intense training to lose weight the result is normally one that doesn’t stay for long.
So what is the solution? Moving and training is obviously a good thing. Living in extremes is not (long term). The approach we encourage our new clients to take:
Start with 2-3 Strength sessions per week. We do a thorough initial consultation and then ensure they start conservative on their strength numbers so we can progress over time.
Know that most of our adaptations happen from the strength training and not from how much you were out of breath the whole session.
Focus on 1-2 habits with nutrition or sleep or stress management to start building the foundation whilst introducing training without the training overtaking your life.
Once the above habits are who you are then the next steps can be looked at.
Setting some clear expectations of where they would like to be in 2 months and one year from now.
Knowing that small consistent steps daily are much more powerful than big jumps away from who you are weekly or monthly.
By turning around the focus from having to do more and ‘smash one self’ to actually only encouraging a couple of sessions per week to start and then putting in extra effort into building the foundation allows the client to change their environment and make sustainable changes.
We have used this method from when we opened our doors almost three years ago and is why many of our clients who “weren’t gym people” are still with us three years later and have completely changed their beliefs and feelings around who they are and what they are capable of doing.
If you would like to know more or start changing your life and health you can book in for an initial consultation and 2 trial sessions on us. You can do this by clicking HERE.
The reason for writing this short blog is to highlight that one is never down and out. There is always a way to better health, it’s just about looking for the answers and asking the right questions.
Justin George emailed me in August 2018. He had been working with Emrys Goldsworthy, (Musculoskeletal therapist) for some months to help work on ‘a bad back’ that had been presenting with symptoms of sciatica pain. He had a disc bulge at 21 (at the time of reaching out Justin was 37) and herniated the same disc at 31.
From the above Justin was living in pain, which didn’t help his mental health but was fearful and didn’t feel ready to do any strength training for almost a decade.
I had a good relationship with Emrys and often referred clients to him. I am thankful of his tremendous work he does as Justin trusted him when Emrys told him he was ready to start focusing on getting stronger.
Justin went through the extensive steps we use when someone is looking to train with us and from that we got some conservative basic starting points.
There were no red lights in terms of mobility. The major things we were working around were his history of disc problems, his fears around strength training and just his lack of training in the past. His major goals were to increase strength and also positively change his body composition.
Some conservative benchmarks when we started was a Bench Press of 45kg x 8 reps and a Goblet Squat of 20kg x 8 reps. Justin also had an inbody scan early on since body composition was a goal and he weighed in at 95kg and 32% Body Fat.
Justin has now been training for over 12 months. It has been a total pleasure seeing his transformation of physical health, his willingness to learn and his sharing of his mental health.
Just like anyone else with any success the graph is never linear. There have been ups and downs as he and we have worked through different problems together. The important thing to note is the consistency that Justin has had over that year. Like with most things Justin does he goes all in and is approaching 250 sessions with us. From that hard work, day to day or week to week might seem like it’s not always moving forward but when we look at the bigger picture now Justin is:
Down to 86kg at 21 % (9kg Body weight down and 10% body fat down, 2kg of muscle up.
Back Squatting sets of 80kg for 8 reps instead of 20kg Goblet Squats.
Bench Pressing sets of 62kg for 8 reps instead of 45kg
Deadlifting without pain
Learnt the Clean and Jerk and Snatch (two most technical exercises you can do with a barbell)
Been progressing and learning handstands
Fully immersed himself into our community and is now even Head of Social Events for The Wild Movement!
Justins Body Composition changes over time. The graph bottom right shows Percent Body Fat and Total Muscle Changes. He was actually heavier than this when he started too.
I hope from reading this it gives you some hope where their may be little. One of the hardest parts is reaching out and trusting a professional (especially in the fitness industry) when you have been living in pain for a long time. I’m grateful Justin did and I’m looking forward to where the journey evolves to.
If you want to have a chat about whether our Pack Strength training is right for you please feel free to contact us HERE.
One of the hardest things is coming back to training after a long lay off. It is great you are coming back but the majority of people make this one Killer Mistake. If you make this mistake you are really setting yourself up for failure as you will be bound to fall off the bandwagon again. If you take this advice on however it can really set you up for long term success with your health.
So you are about to get back into training. At this point you are probably super motivated! You want to be fit and strong again YESTERDAY! So what do you do? Charge full steam ahead and make this BIG mistake! The mistake I’m talking about here is going from Zero to Hero! I liken this to signing up and trying to run a marathon with no running training at all. You wouldn’t do it. You would call someone stupid for doing it. So why are you trying to train hard so often when your base you’re working from is working, stressing, running around after kids and being sedentary?
The reason this approach of zero to hero is a mistake is for the following reasons:
Your body is adapted to being sedentary so you actually don’t need a big stimulis to start changing your body positively. Do the minimum effective dosage and focus on recovery and overall health habits.
Training hard 5-6 x per week is very taxing on the body and you set yourself up for the chance of injuries. Training 5-6x per week is great if your body is adapted to it but we recommend you build up and keep yourself in the game.
Mentally you are setting yourself up to fail. If you had the goal of training 3 x per week and accomplished it you will feel great and be encouraged to keep going. If on the other hand, you are aiming for 6 x and you ‘only’ accomplish 3 x you will most likely beat yourself up and feel like you failed. This will make it much more likely that you will fall off the bandwagon of training and be stuck again.
A couple of solutions that we suggest our members start with to ensure consistency and longevity (the key to health).
Start training 2-3 x per week strength
Walk or do incidental exercise on the other days that are just part of your life (walk to the bus)
Focus on sleep hygiene and one habit with your eating to improve it towards your ideal
Once these all become habits and you are successful at them (normally one month or more) look at the next step to keep working towards your ideal self.
The goal of this post is to give you some inspiration by sharing a story about a client who made some important changes in her life to get her health back on track.
Imagine the best version of you, without filters or limits. This vision can become your reality.
This is about Michelle, one of our incredible clients, who started with us 13 months ago.
At the top of Mount Warning on our 2018 Wild Retreat
Michelle had been very active throughout high school and university; however, after graduating as a pharmacist, she worked long and intense hours managing a pharmacy. During these years, she had minimal time to dedicate to herself, let alone to exercise or to prepare wholesome meals. So she took action and followed her gut feeling to become a teacher. Although this is still a demanding role, this career change allowed Michelle more flexibility with her time, and she is now able to spend weekends and school holidays with her husband and young family.
When Michelle came to The Wild Movement, she hadn’t been training and felt like she was not in her best shape, but she was keen to make some changes to be a role model for her family.
We started with our individual consult to get a clear understanding of Michelle’s starting point. We ran through a mobility screening and then went through the fundamentals of squat, dead lift, bench press and chin up.
Michelle back squatted 37.5kg for three reps, dead lifted 72.5kg on the trap bar, bench pressed 32.5kg for two reps, completed one underhand chin up and rowed 1km in 4:06. Fast forward 13 months and her strength numbers are now 75kg for squat, 115kg for dead lift, 45kg for bench press, 12 chin ups and a 3:50 1km row!
Look at those back muscles!
Like many of our members, Michelle started by training twice a week to ease herself into a new routine. Her level of enjoyment remained high, as did her personal gains, so she gradually increased her sessions until she was training up to five times per week with us.
These performance results also led to changes in Michelle’s body composition. On her first scan, she was 22% BF and now sits around 12% BF (as per InBody scan). In her opinion, one of the most powerful changes behind these results is the change she made with her family’s eating habits. She attended one of our regular workshops hosted by our resident chef, Jasmine (The Wholefood Goddess), who taught Michelle and other members about Eating The Wild Way. Michelle was so inspired by this workshop; in fact, she went home and made some fundamental dietary changes to better support her active lifestyle with greater nutritional benefits. The good news is that her kids and husband are on board too… mostly!
Of course, it wasn’t an easy and straightforward progression to this point. Michelle writes below about some of her challenges and how she dealt with them.
“One of the most challenging tasks that I’ve faced at The Wild Movement is setting goals for myself. This is on a more personal level because I thought that if I didn’t have any goals then there was no risk of failure or disappointment. It’s taken me a good 12 months to gradually change my thought patterns, I still struggle at times, however I’ve come a long way. A big realisation was that if I don’t have any goals then I can never really have any ‘wins’ or sense of achievement and personal growth. So this is how I made some changes… I took a risk and set myself some goals, I got out of my comfort zone by writing them down for everyone to see, and I started saying ‘yes’ more often to things I didn’t think I could do. Most importantly, I keep setting myself measureable goals with a date claimer to help me to stay motivated and to keep having fun whilst trying to chase down my goals.
Achieving a balanced life by learning to listen to my own body was another hurdle I had to overcome. Just through increased movement and mindfulness, I developed a greater awareness about when I can push myself harder to make some lasting changes and when I need to back-off and let my body rest and recover. I must admit, it’s still hard knowing the difference between good pain and bad pain, but I know I can get trusted advice and recommendations from Luke and the other coaches.
My greatest challenge over the last year has been learning to invest more time and energy in myself. My time so far at The Wild Movement has been the longest and most committed I have ever been to my strength training. The difference this time is I’ve realised that in order to look after my family, I need to look after myself, by feeling energised and making exercise a priority rather than an ‘add-on’ if there’s time. The coaches, together with the community at The Wild Movement, have greatly contributed to the longevity and success of my training, which is now an embedded part of my life and my family’s lives.”
Everyone’s measures of success are dynamic in nature and unique to that individual. As you’ve just read, success is rarely an easy and straightforward process; however, with the right support and environment, you too can start taking small steps in the direction that is right for you.
If you would like to have a chat with us to see if we can help you like we have with Michelle and so many other members just click HERE and send us a message.