This month, I met up with Dan, owner of and Personal Trainer at Fitness Culture in Bondi Junction, to ask him a few popular questions around training and how to best achieve your fitness goals.
Gaetan: Can you tell us how you like to organize a typical session at the gym?
Dan: Usually we start with a 10 minute warm up which includes full body mobility drills and picking up the heart rate to best prepare the body for the demands of the session. After the intense workout, the cooling down process involves some static stretching and massaging each muscle group rolling with a foam roller to help with recovery and reduce the muscle soreness that can occur after a session.
Gaetan: Have you got any recommendations on the optimal number of workouts per week that one should complete to stay fit and healthy?
Dan: It’s a good question, and one that comes up regularly. Basically, it depends on the combination of your previous experience and current fitness level. If you are new to weight training or high intensity cardio (Circuit/HIIT) your body will likely be deconditioned and need to build up gradually over time. As a result I always recommend quality over quantity – that means mastering movement and consistently challenging your body. For most, this will mean that training every second day should initially be more than enough, 3 to 4 sessions a week, to achieve fantastic results whilst avoiding injury. For those fitter or more experienced you can build up over time with additional workouts depending on your goals.The key is to listen to your body and manage the frequency of your workouts in a way that you provide enough stimulus to acquire the desired physical adaptations such as strength, fitness and fat loss. A great example of a basic training progression would be:
Weeks 1 + 2 = 3 Sessions per week
Weeks 3 + 4 = 4 Sessions per week
Weeks 5 + 6 = 5 Sessions per week
Gaetan: During a workout, what would you say are the 2 most important things to prevent injuries?
Dan: Definitely technique above all else. Again, quality is always more important than quantity. Fewer reps or sets performed correctly will ensure you’re targeting the desired muscle groups of movement patterns whilst minimising chance of injury. Often people put too much importance on how heavy they are lifting or how many repetitions they are aiming for at the detriment of their progress and therefore results. When learning new exercise or programs it’s vital that the focus be on the posture, position and full range of motion to establish a solid foundation for success.
The second aspect of injury prevention comes back to the frequency of your workouts. During my 12 years as a personal trainer I’ve witnessed many gym goers doing amazing workouts with perfect form and yet complain about pain and niggles. Often the missing piece of the puzzle is applying principles of periodisation; planning your program out in advance for how often you should be training this week. Without the appropriate time to build up to higher volumes of training your muscles, tendons and joints can struggle to keep up leading to wear & tear. During your workouts you should definitely challenge your body to stimulate your metabolism, however, equal focus should also be placed on recovery to ensure your body bounces back ready for the next workout. Several elements can enhance recovery: quality sleep, nutrition, hydration & stress relief habits such as meditation.
Gaetan: Finally, what are your favorite tips to speed up recovery after a workout?
Dan: Speeding up recovery should first start with relieving tension in the body. With all exercise you spend anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes activating (shortening) your muscles in order to produce movement. To promote balance in the body it then makes sense to counter these forces by doing the opposite and relieving that build up of tension. You can use a foam roller to release tender muscles or book in for regular massages with a qualified Massage Therapist. Static & dynamic full body stretching is also a fantastic habit to practice to prevent stiffness & tighness post workout. I would also suggest correct supplementation pre and post workout. Consuming a shake with liquid protein & carbohydrates both before and after a workout has consistently be shown to increase workout intensity, restoration of glycogen (energy) stores in your muscles and enhance protein synthesis, the essential building blocks that make lean muscle. All of these incredible benefits have been scientifically proven to accelerate the metabolism & significantly improve toning results in the gym.