29 April 2014

In this issue...

  • What's New at StrongFast?
  • Feature Article: The Power of One
  • Fitness Found Online
  • Recipe: Mashed Sweet Potatoes

What's New at StrongFast?

agc-t-shirtWapping is back! I suppose "kickboxing training" would be more accurate, but the "wap! wap!" of hitting the pads is unmistakeable. And fun!

Technically, and for historical reasons, it's known as "Advanced Group Training Class" but as The Master Accountant once said, "We're not so much advanced as slightly above average." So don't be put off by the name.

We're there most Saturday mornings at 11 at the StrongFast digs. Keep an eye on Blitz Central to join upcoming classes.

Client: "Can you teach me to do the splits?"
Trainer: "How flexible are you?"
Client: "I can't make Wednesdays."

Feature Article: The Power of One

dice-1In order to make progress with fitness we need to ... progress. Duh. But that progress doesn't have to be dramatic. Far from it.

Let's take weight-lifting for example. We generally lift weights in sets of reps. For example, 3 sets of 5 reps. We can progress by adding more weight, and ultimately that's what we'll want to do. But we can get there not in leaps and bounds, but by ones.

Let's say that you increase your reps by one every month. Not one per set, just one per workout. So in month #1 it's 5-5-5, in #2 it's 6-5-5, in #3 it's 6-6-5, etc. That's pretty slow progress, right? For a beginner, it surely is since beginners can progress quickly when they first start lifting weights (but will inevitably plateau). But it's still progress.

And in month #12, you can be at three sets of nine. That's 9-9-9, or almost twice the reps you started with. Not looking so shabby now, is it? The key is not slipping backward. Sure anyone can have a bad day, but through each month, that one rep needs to keep coming. And if you can't add a rep a month, you're not training right.

bench-pressYou probably won't be seeing this training plan in any fitness magazines or websites because it's hard to get people excited about adding a rep a month. A catchier title would be "Up Your Bench Press 30 Pounds in 30 Days!" (Sadly, that's a real title online. And what's with the thumb-less grip there, stock photo guy? Don't let The Form Cop see that!) But let's say you did it...what's next? And where will it be in 90 days? Or 365 days?

That's the beauty of one rep a month: there's no going back, and it's not a constant struggle to progress. Sure, it's not for everyone (as mentioned, especially beginners), but it's real progress and that counts!

Speaking of beginners, as noted, this isn't usually a good approach for them because they tend to make progress quickly when they get started. Does that mean they're getting strong fast? (Get it?) To some extent, but I think it's more about technique. When beginners try a new exercise (and they're generally all new), they usually do them badly. But their bodies quickly adapt to finding more effective ways to lift, pull, row, or whatever, and so seem to be stronger. (But watch out: your body may find ways to do an exercise more effectively, but not necessarily well which can lead to injuries.)

I've often helped people (including non-beginners) hit harder in one session. Clearly they didn't magically get stronger, they just improved their technique. Once your technique is sound, it takes longer to make progress because now you really do have to get stronger (or make more subtle improvements in your technique).

But I digress.

You could apply the Power of One strategy to fat loss, like a pound a month. You'd have to do some averaging since weight can fluctuate from day to day, and pounds aren't always a great measure since they don't account for potential muscle gain. But you get the idea. Again, it's not exactly exciting, but it sure beats the yo-yo results that are so common when people try  to lose weight quickly.

You can also apply it to times: shaving a second a week off your mile run, or planking one second longer each week. A second is insignificant, but string 52 of them together and you're getting somewhere.

Again, the key is consistency, and by demanding the small but sure incremental progress means there's no room for backsliding. And it's always encouraging to see consistent progress, even if it's in small increments.

So next time you're planning your workout progress, keep in mind the Power of One. Those ones can add up to something good.

Be seeing you.


Fitness Found Online

belly-statueA study suggests that snacking "independently contributes to hepatic steatosis and obesity." In other words, makes people fatter around the waistline than just eating more with meals. It didn't help that the extra calories in the study were mostly sugar.
sleeping-dogsIn related news, some research to suggest that being overweight can make you fatigued and inactive (not just the other way around). The conclusion is weak, but some interesting supporting information.

Recipe: Mashed Sweet Potatoes

I made these on Easter Sunday and they were quite delicious. Since I made them, anyone can. But here's a tip: don't try putting the peels in the garbage disposal. Other than that, enjoy!


mashed sweet potatoes


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  1. Welcome back Strongfast Planet.

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