Sunday, 25 September 2016
Exercise for Women

David Ayres of Athletic Mind SA is a performance motivator, strength and conditioning professional. And today he joins us as our guest to explore training to increase performance. This is a great article and one that I am honored to share with you!


During a presentation at a recent wellness day one of the delegates asked, “with so much choice out there in the fitness world, where does a person start”?

The answer to this can be very long winded and I am prone to ramble at the best of times, so let me rein myself in and provide you with a clear explanation.

It starts with the FOUNDATION, as cheesy as it sounds you cannot build anything if the base is not solid. A good education hopefully lays the foundation for future business success; quality houses are built on good foundations. In the fitness world the same is true, with so much choice and so many options we tend to get side tracked by the new sexy trend or pieces of equipment; leading us to step away from the basics that will always stand the test of time.

Let me start by saying that there is no one ULTRA program. You need to find what works for you. Personally I love the CrossFit method, but remember I have a military background where you need to be ready for anything. I found CrossFit late in my life and it resonated with the conditioning we received in the Army. Then again so does the Boot Camp style workout and wait so does the mindset behind Kettlebell training; they all try to get as much work done in minimal time. Before CrossFit I taught Spinning, even hit the weight room seriously to try get that Adonis physique on the cover of the fitness magazines.

A scientific fact is that our body moves a certain way. There is only one way to bend and straighten an elbow, no matter whether you are ballroom dancing, training to be a ninja or messing around with you little brother. If you bend the elbow in the wrong direction, well then you have stepped into a Steven Segal movie and its over for you.

The training program we enter will allow us to gain strength and fitness for that activity. This is where you need to decide what you would like to get out of your chosen discipline. If you want to be better at gymnastics, that should be your focus, if ball sports grab your attention there are certain skill sets that must be mastered. Or are you perhaps just looking to improve general health and fitness?

It does not matter what you want to do, you need to make sure you can tick off the items on the list below in order to succeed in training to increase performance.

  1. Are you flexible enough? This is a relative topic; Olympic Gymnasts need more flexibility than the normal person on the street. So are you flexible enough to perform the movements you want/need to?
  2. Can you manipulate your own body weight? There is absolutely no point in hitting the wonderful machines at the expensive gym if you cannot do push-ups, squats and pull-ups against your own resistance. Being able to move your body weight effectively is the key behind functional training, not kettlebell or barbell work or fancy machines.
  3. Do you possess the cardiovascular fitness to cover distance on foot or cycle or by swimming? Again this is relative, many people want to run 5km, a great goal. The problem comes that they will train for it on an expensive treadmill at the gym, come race day they need to cover the distance on the road and the body is not prepared. The band of the treadmill is moving, all you need to do is lift your foot up and move it forward and place it back on the machine. On the road you need to propel yourself forward, which changes the emphasis on the muscles, leaving you stiff and sore for a few days to follow.

This comes back to the whole theme of the Athletic Mind -training to increase performance. The popular fitness media has you chasing the cover model body. Tighter bum, better arms, more ripped abs? Look at the majority of Olympic athletes in London, they have the tight bum, awesome arms and great abs. Yes they are professionals at what they do, but they do not train to look good, they train to increase their performance in their chosen event.

Your body is very adaptable; if you lift weight it will put on muscle (not body builder bulk!! Ladies) to help you overcome the resistance. If you were gyming hard and then started running more your body will rid itself of the unwanted muscle mass in order to make you more efficient on the road. These are very generic statements but I hope they paint a better picture of how the body works in a simple way.

There is no holy grail. Its down to you to choose what you would like and go for it. Make sure you get proper advise from reputable fitness professionals, I am happy to help point you in a good direction.

Until next time, focus on training to increase performance.

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