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Showing posts from January, 2017

Fairytales from the gym: All weights no cardio

So we are carrying on with our gym myths series, smashing stereotypes and learning how to train for better results in the process.

As promised in my last installment of this series, we are going to take a look at cardio.

My observations in the gym identify two particular types of workout. There's the people who are up there on the cardio machines, and don't tend to lift much - some of these are women who are avoiding weights, but this group also tends to include a lot of health focussed gym goers, people wanting to lose weight or improve cardiovascular health. Then there's the people who are all about weights, they go straight to freeweights on arrival, and stay there. Now, the latter may well be doing their cardio training elsewhere, but there is definitely a myth that exists about cardio and weights being separate types of training that don't mix, and that is what I want to bust today.

A personal trainer will tell you that a good training program needs both resistance…

Eating healthy and adjusting the palate.

The other day I posted on my Facebook, expressing my great joy after a lovely breakfast. Because that's what social media is for (seriously, see my instagram) a friend responded that they didn't find healthy food enjoyable to eat and it got me thinking.

I think a lot of people considering starting on a new health kick think of good food the way I think of spiders. Stay with me here....

I dislike spiders, the thought of touching them makes my skin crawl. I don't really like this situation, I'd rather be able to be comfortable around them. I have thought about those arachnophobia courses where you build up to being able to hold a tarantula. But there lies the issue, when I imagine my future self, merrily petting a giant 8 legged beast, it makes my skin crawl.  Which makes no sense, because future me would be fine with it. Current me doesn't want to be in that position.

I think we go through this same kind of process when we make major life changes. When you tell some…

Fairytales in the gym: Upper body only guy

Continuing our look at misconceptions and myths at the gym, I want to start to look at gym stereotypes.

In any gym you will encounter some extremes of training regimes and character. There's a bunch of tropes that have built up around this, creating characters in our gym fairy tale. None of these people are real, but they do represent traps that it is easy for real people to fall into. So I present these guys with affection and no judgement, they're in the gym, that's the hardest part, now lets tweak it so they are getting the best out of their gym time.

1. Upper body only guy.
Do you go to the gym just to do freeweights?
Are you lifting like a beast but struggling on cardio fitness tests?
Do you have enormous biceps?
Are you super buff, from the navel up?
Are you unfamiliar with the concept of "legs day"?

You might be turning into Upper body only guy.



There's a lot of work goes into a balanced workout. It can be hard to schedule time for a warm up, extended c…

Fairytales from the gym: Chapter 1, Women shouldn't lift heavy

If you know anything about fitness, or have attempted to, you will have undoubtedly come across a whole load of tropes and misinformation, often known as "gym myths", things that people think they know about training, which have worked their way into the narrative, but are in truth *absolutely wrong*.

I decided I wanted to write a series about these misconceptions, and I realised that actually the gym narrative is rich and goes way beyond a few misconceptions about how training works. So I'm going to spend quite a few posts exploring the setting, the characters, the stories and how we can turn fiction into something that actually works.

Lifting weights makes women "big" and "manly"
Oh boy.... where to begin? Lets break this down....

1. Women aren't biologically predisposed to building enormous muscles
Like so much in our bodies, muscle size and tone is influenced by hormones. Testosterone specifically. Women can't build big muscles naturally, …

Wellbeing is not a competition

I want to have an in depth look at another aspect of the Free Living Fitness manifesto
Wellbeing is not a competition.
Sports are competitive by their nature, some fitness activities like body building are also competitive, but taking care of your body should not be, that's between you and your body.
Often when I am in the gym, I see people lifting weights with bad form. They lift the weight, then drop it, not completing a full cycle of the rep. Or they lift too fast to properly get the benefit of using the whole muscle. Or they use form that reduces the isolation, for instance using more of their back than necessary in a shoulder exercise. All of these things achieve one "false" result: They allow you to lift a heavier weight. 
Why lift in a way that reduces the efficacy of the exercise, gets you slower gains and potentially hurts you? Because the number on the weight is bigger, and being able to quote a big number puts you ahead in the gym competition.
But there is n…

Exorcising the D word

So it's New Year, and I'm going to talk about dieting. Because everyone else is.

Let's for a start be clear that here I am using the word "diet" in the colloquial way, as in a restricted or alternative diet for the purposes of weight loss. The true definition of "diet" is essentially "the food you eat", as in "let's look at the quality of your diet". In that context being "on a diet" is a nonsense, we are all "on a diet" so long as we eat something. I'd like in a way to reclaim that, because I would really like the concept of "dieting" as a short term process to go away.

I've done all the diets. I've done the cereal ones, the ones where reconstituted dust is supposed to be food, the restricted calories, the food combining, the carb cutting. I've done the supplements and just for completeness, I've also suffered from an eating disorder. So forgive me if, when I talk about diets I …