Tuesday, 21 August 2012

What women want: Not featuring Mel Gibson

Everything Oprah, women's fitness magazines and the girl next door has ever told you about 'toning' and getting in shape is as useful to the 'real' woman as eating soup with a fork.

As a coach I read a lot of magazines, Internet blogs, and articles, and listen to a lot of what is being said relating to how to get 'in shape'.  The majority of the people who know me, know that I'm a little more raw when it comes to 'training' and know as most women should that all the bullshit we are being told, is in fact, just that, bullshit.

There are some simple rules I follow in order to keep myself at my best, and the same laws apply to the ladies under my watch.

Firstly the word 'tone' is not in my vocabulary, a muscle can either be made bigger or smaller, that's it, simple.  Woman seem to run from the idea of 'building muscle' when they should be running towards it, building muscle enhances your 'definition', it also increases 'fat burn' the more muscle you have the more energy you require to feed the muscle, so this causes an increase in your metabolism and this aids in fat burn. Simple.

I've touched on this subject in previous blogs, but I still meet woman on a daily basis who claim to get big when they lift heavy, heavy cakes maybe.  Lifting weights do not make you big, eating cakes make you big.  We just don't have the hormonal profile that men do, unless we are mainlining testosterone our genetic make up just does not allow for it.

My advice as a coach is to pick up heavy weights, lifting milk bottles are not going to help you achieve anything.  If you want to see changes to your body, challenge it. Simple.

Heavy weights at low reps (8-15 for woman) builds definition, whatever you have been brainwashed to believe about shooting a 5kg dumbell around for 50 reps is going to get you 'definition' is fabricated.  Another great phenomenon I hear quite a bit of, is that if you not sweating, its not working.

Any experienced coach will tell you that it's not about what you burn in your workout, it's about what you burn in the hours following your training.  Lifting heavy increases your metabolism which forces your body to burn more calories, feather weight lifting for 100 reps does not.

On that note, lifting the same heavy object day in and day out for months on end will get you nowhere.  My next simple rule applies here, progressive overload.

It's all about adaptation, you lift a 20kg bar above your head every day for weeks and your body is going to build itself up in preparation for it, your body adapts and this no longer becomes a challenge.  Add more weight, or more sets, or shorten rest - present a new challenge. Simple

I've been lifting heavy for a few years, I have achieved feats of strength I once couldn't comprehend, yet I still do not look like a female Jay Cutler, its simple science.

My biggest rule, no matter what I've read, witnessed or have been told otherwise of is that compound exercises, big exercises give big results.  I hate gimmicks and gadgets and new ideas, balancing on balls, hanging from ceilings and wasting time on the small things when the big things are what make big changes.

We as women should not be subjected to the 'yes no' machines, ab classes, stomach crunches and butt blasters.  Its all about the fundamentals, sticking to the basics that have always worked.  If you want to lose fat and build muscle in a big way, do big exercises.  Deadlifts, strict presses, heavy squats, rows, chin ups, dips, push ups and the assistance exercises that accompany them.  I do these, I know, this works.

Personally, as a woman its not just about achieving a 'great body' there is something empowering about being feminine, being a woman and being able to lift heavy.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

In the presence of a great: Mike Mahler

"If you only had one shot, and one opportunity to seize everything you've ever wanted in one moment, would you capture it, or let it slip?" - Marshall Mathers

Two years ago whilst trailing the internet for research I came across a site on vegan bodybuilding that spoke highly of Mike Mahler, not being a vegan myself but on exploring more into his ideologies, I found myself chasing into the methodologies of this coach.

Mike draws from an extensive background of strength and conditioning, having worked with top athletes and mixed martial artists alike, also being a strength athlete himself.  Mike has 10 years of training experience through the School of Hard Knocks and achieved his senior level as a certified kettlebell instructor under Pavel Tsatsouline of the RKC.

Having read his kettlebell workshop manual, prior to even lifting any bells, my hunt began.  When Mikes "Living life aggressively" came out in 2011 I was knee deep in his writings.

When Sean Temple invited him out to South Africa to give a couple workshops I was excited to say the least, never assuming for a moment that I would be fortunate enough to be in the presence of a great so early in my career in strength.

Having this one opportunity, this one moment to seize everything, I had to capture it. The day dawned and I was bouncing off the walls like a fat kid in a candy store.  Mike Mahler is a leader in the field of strength and conditioning and the development in modern kettlebell lifting as well as being an expert in the field of hormone optimization.

For those of us who attended either his workshops or talks on hormones, I think would agree that the knowledge this man exudes surrounding his field and his teachings are not quite something one could download or simply research on the net, if I could wire his thought process to my ipad, I would be completely in motion.

Mike teaches you how to use the kettlebell in its purest sense, and exposes you to a training regimen that combines the best of weight lifting with strength endurance and optimal performance through balancing of hormones.  His knowledge and passion for the game intensifies his instruction of his students, with every word.

His fluid guidance and abilities to communicate his practice makes learning through him an indulgence.

We were fortunate enough to have Sabina Skala, Olympic weightlifting strength coach and competitor form part of Mike's workshop.  Sabina's presence alone reaps solace, and if you where not interested in these lifts prior to meeting her, you left having formed a new passion for the barbell.

Sabina's knowledge surrounding the anatomy and bio mechanics makes her teachings sound, effectual and invaluable. It was truly an honor to train under her direction.

This weekend with these two leaders in their fields, will go down as an experience not to be forgotten and their teachings will transpire into my coaching styles and ideologies.

"A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions" - Oliver Holmes