Category Archives: weekly training

“Am I getting better?”

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“Am I getting better?” is a question a client asked me recently, and I’ve heard variations of it over the last decade and a half. Some can have a negative feel to them, like “I feel like I’m not getting better, our sessions are still hard sometimes” or “I don’t look like I’ve been training with a trainer after _____  (insert duration here)”, or “wow, I’m so out of shape, I can’t do X or my performance on this is Y” (where I have to refer people to the SAID principle).

WHAT IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING?

To the title question, there is no magical answer, yet people expect magical results. However, the answer is always yes. You may have to cajole someone into the answer, or educate them. As fitness professionals, especially when our clients trust us, they need encouragement, but it also needs to stem in reality and accountability. I had the “am I getting better?” question asked by someone whom I trained via video conference, after 2 weeks of training only. My answer was prefaced with more questions and education so that the answer sinks in, with the following elements:

  • Is it easier to do certain things (from the mundane to the workout specific)?
  • Is soreness from lack of activity gone?
  • Is your appetite going up (physical activity will usually stimulate that, as muscles want to be fed, to simplify this concept)?

I allow people to self-assess from their own baseline while educating them on the process, the idea of consistency and duration of a training program, and how it makes things better in their lifestyle.

WHAT ABOUT THE NEGATIVE REMARKS/QUESTIONS?

When someone feels they’re not getting better, I show them their training logs, anything and everything measurable. “Here, your previous benchmark was at X reps with Y load, today it is X+10 reps with 1.5Y load, so you have improved in strength and muscular endurance”.

As for the visual esthetics, I also emphasize that you can train twice a week and twice a week only, but if you don’t follow a regimented lifestyle that encompasses proper nutrient intake, adequate sleep and recovery, maintenance training will help you from getting worse, and while it will make you fitter and healthier, the only way to tell would be “what do you think you’d look like if you hadn’t trained at all the past 2 years while maintaining the same diet and lifestyle?” While we can never know unless they have a twin as their control group, we communicate and educate our clients.

Also, when someone claims having poor cardio endurance but only wants to train to lift heavy weights, or vice versa; your body adapts to what you get it ready for.

In the end, clients are in the driver’s seat. We just need to give them a good road map.

 

 

The Return of a Bad Health & Fitness Trend

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I know it feels I am very Hébert-centric these days, and that’s probably because I am engrossed in the translation of one of his book as well as the adaptation of the program design and training of another. What is actually happening is that things fall into my lap, verifying the importance of my work, confirming that everything good and bad has been done before, and sooner or later resurfaces.

Case in point: in my junk email today, an ad for a waist slimming device was delivered. A century ago, this was the corset, which Hébert described as a torture device deforming women and causing all kinds of health issues.Now, a revamped version of it has appeared, and as any good marketing piece, it checks off what’s emotionally connected to the target demographics socially programmed “wants”, with benefits that can be attained without doing any work for it, and carefully worded claims which in fact, as only potential and not guaranteed.

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Now, let’s take a look at the benefits and break those down:

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1) Reshaping of waistline: this is an external process, fake, like a push-up bra, encouraging lack of activity and fitting into a standard that may not be the physiology of every individual woman.

2) Helping define curves: does it rearrange, tucking here, pumping there, shuffling skin and fat around (because muscles, even at rest, aren’t going to move a whole lot if they are developed properly)?

3) Helping you feel toned: so you *may* “feel” something that isn’t there (muscle tone), tricking your brain momentarily (until it shuts the sensation down, like wearing silk or not noticing perfume you put on). The problem remains: if you have no muscle tone, this doesn’t provide muscle tone.

4) Smoothing of rolls and bulges: Hébert wrote “For centuries, many poor creatures, to satisfy this criminal concept, have condemned themselves to deformity with the force compression of their flanks.” Hiding under a cloak is only deception, not health, of self and to self and others. 

5) Helping to feel fuller: yes, the best weight loss tools are the knife and fork. Caloric restriction alone isn’t enough. Nutritional balance is needed.

Now, let’s take a quick look at what happens internally. I will not comment, the pictures are worth, as the saying goes, a thousand words. Discuss amongst yourselves.

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Hébert session programming at the workshop

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I posted last week 3 programming concepts: daily, weekly and annually (by ways of 3 quarters, so it’s essentially 4 ways, 2-in-1 on the last).

And while most seasoned qualified trainers have a good idea of what to put into a session, incorporating a new skill daily, how do we keep a sense of balance since not everyone can squeeze a daily session, as the world today is not as ideal as we’d like it to be.

Setting aside any excuses or reasons, it is important to have a good sense of the fundamentals and that’s precisely what will be covered at the workshop on the fundamental positions of arms, legs, trunk etc.

The design is such that some moves are changed every other day. Clever combinations can permit the time-challenged subjects to hit nearly all aspects of preparation of the body. Sounds almost like a tall promise in an infomercial to get all you training done in just minutes a day, but it’s not the case.

There also a lot of talk about needing an hour versus only really needing 10 minutes, and yadda yadda yadda, in today’s marketing confusion (and yes, that’s what it is: confusion so you fall prey to what’s sold).

Truth is: there is no universal truth other than everything works, especially if done well. You can’t really snatch 53kg for an hour at high energy output, and if you can, you can’t do it daily.

What’s better? A little everyday or a lot every few days? It’s all good really, and you’ll still need to change things up, while keeping others the same. And once you are proficient at a movement and have confidence in your skill, who really cares about the ultimate perfect form, as it varies amongst individuals and their own skeletal structure or abilities.

I was recently asked “what’s the Natural Method” vs “Unnatural”. It’s not about that definition of the word, just to discuss semantics, rather using what’s available to use according the the natural inclinations of our bodies and finding those, rather than fitting a square peg in a round hole, and to know that, you must go through a learning process and weed out the bad by focusing on the good and how it feels. Unnatural may also feel foreign to you when it’s a new skill, but if the body’s not fighting it with alarm signals, then you’re just learning 🙂

 

WEEKLY PROGRAMMING according to the Natural Method

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Weekly programming consists of 6 daily sessions of roughly an hour, each divided into one or several takes.
The first 5 sessions are identical to the model described in the DAILY PROGRAMMING chapter.
The 6th session is more specifically reserved for long distance runs, games, sports and manual labor of all kinds.

Example of weekly programming:

Monday: hour-long complete session in 2 takes:
1st take: fundamentals.
2nd take: functional training.

Tuesday through Friday: same.

Saturday: Long distance run. Games, sports, manual labor.

Sunday: rest