Do This Quick Warm-up Before Strength Training

There is not a person on this planet who does not want to improve their training output in the gym. Many people typically do just a few quick stretches or repetitions of the upcoming exercise and that’s it. A specific warm-up preceding strength training – geared towards individual needs – improves how your body feels and moves in a workout. Period. This so-called warm-up box should always be checked prior to any strength training session. If you want to get more out of the workout that is.

The key is to first find what works for your body. Some gym-goers require an easy dynamic warm-up to break a sweat, while another responds to targeted mobility work. This in turn, opens up tight, restricted muscle and connective tissue. Sometimes a few warm-up sets prior to lifting just doesn’t do the trick. The following sequence is great to do before any strength or cardio workout. It is specifically targeted to prepare the thoracic spine, commonly referred to as the T-spine, for the upcoming workout.

The majority of Americans, both young and old, spend hours each day sitting. As a result, muscles shorten and connective tissue (fascia) becomes restrictive. A quick mobility series like this one will increase blood flow to these areas and as a result you’ll feel, move and lift better in the workout.

Try This Warm-up Before Strength Training

Take a pair of tennis balls and either tape them together with electrical tape or place them in a sock and tie off the end. There is also a product you can purchase called a peanut that will also work nicely. The idea is to place the tennis balls in contact with your back. Each of the tennis balls end up on the left and right sides of your erector spinae muscles away from your spine. Then lie down on it. Begin at the first thoracic vertebrae below the seventh cervical, where when you flex your neck you can feel the “bump” and slowly move (“roll”) down towards your lumbar spine. Spend about 30-45 seconds manipulating the tennis balls into the muscle before moving down 1-2 inches. There are twelve thoracic vertebrae so you will need to reposition your body that many times. View the the following Instagram clip to see how to correctly position your body and perform the exercise.

Easy 3-Step Thoracic Mobility Series

After you spend a few minutes having fun with your tennis balls, try these three mobility movements. The idea is to “insert here” the specific mobility drill your body may need. I’m showing you just one area (thoracic spine), it may be a different area altogether, like the hips, shoulder – whatever. Check out the following Instagram clip on how to perform each movement in this 3-step mobility series. Below are pictures (start/finish) of each of the three movements that make up this mobility series.

Kneeling Thoracic Rotation (start/finish)

Start

blank

Finish (end point)

Side-Lying Thoracic Rotation

blank
blank

Supine Thoracic Rotation (Windmill)

Note: The finish (end point) should be (eventually) with the lower leg making contact with the foam roller (looks like somebody is tight in that photo). You can also use a yoga block, small medicine ball or whatever else is of similar height to support the leg. Finally, you can also perform this particular movement on your side with the hips and knees kept at right angles without the aid of any props. The arms are positioned the same way and the movement occurs in the same manner as pictured.

blank
blank

Mobility Warm-up Before Strength Training (Prescription)

Week 1-2: Perform 4-6 repetitions x 1 (3x/week)

Week 3-4: Perform 8-15 repetitions x 2 (4x/week)

Just a week of incorporating these movements into your warm-up or post workout will lead to a big pay off. You will notice your body feels and moves much better, even after the first session. Enjoy the additional freedom of movement you’re going to get if you make this a regular occurrence.

Jefit was recently named one of the best fitness apps by eftm.com and PC Magazine for 2021. Jefit is a workout app for gym and home. It helps you plan and stick to your workouts on a regular basis. While there are already over 3800 complete training routines available, it also comes with a customizable gym workout planner. This way you can personalize your own regime that works with your specific fitness goals. Stay strong!

Exercise Guidelines to Keep You Strong as You Age

blank

We all have different needs when it comes to exercise and those needs continue to change as we age. When was the last time you really thought seriously about your exercise routine? More importantly, are you experiencing gains with the current program you’re on? Maybe gains came easy when you were younger. What worked once, however, for whatever reasons does not seem to work as good now.

First, celebrate your success. You have continued to exercise all these years and that’s a good thing even if – at times – it may not be as evident when you step onto your bathroom scale. Keep in mind, more than 30 percent of Americans do not exercise at all and only about 5 percent of the population exercise at what is considered a vigorous level. Approximately 69 percent of Americans are currently overweight or obese.

All the work you’ve put in has done wonders for your body, mind, and spirit. More specifically, it has helped maintain your strength and lean muscle levels. A loss of muscle tissue occurs, for those who do not exercise, at a rate of about half a pound a year or roughly 5 pounds per decade. As this happens, a few of the many by-products are loss of strength, power and balance.

Use It Or Lose It

The average person who does not exercise regularly, experiences an 8 percent drop in their strength level per decade. By the time someone reaches age 65 they have about 25 percent less strength compared to when they were 30 years old. On the aerobic side of things you lose about 10 percent of your aerobic capacity each decade after age 40. There is potential to lose as much as 25 percent of bone in both sexes, as a result of inactivity, sitting too much and menopausal changes in women. With all this decline comes balance issues and additional problems with functionality, that could ultimately lead to a loss of independence.

Write down what you and your body really need as you get ready to enter 2021. What are you truly looking to accomplish with all the time you invest in yourself doing exercise and trying to eat healthier? You don’t own it until you write it down.

Needs Assessment

Prior to beginning any type of exercise program, it is essential that you undergo a needs assessment. The goal of this analysis is to create clearly defined goals that will help you make the most progress from your training. Ask yourself, what does your body really need at this point in time? Maybe you need more mobility work and less pounding (running) or loading (lifting weights). You may have been doing a lot of strength or cardio work but how is your balance? When was the last time you treated yourself to a good massage or took a yoga class? Find out what you need (by testing yourself) and set a few short and long-term goals.

Test Yourself Periodically

Work with a coach and complete an assessment to determine where you currently stand in the following areas below. Ask yourself: How do you judge improvement if you don’t measure it? Visit our Jefit Coach to help.

  • Body Composition
  • Strength
  • Power
  • Aerobic/Anaerobic ability
  • Mobility
  • Flexibility
  • Balance
blank

Exercise Program

This is where most of us get lost and end up wasting a lot of time. The first goal is to find out what’s tight and lengthen it and then what’s weak and strengthen it. This will ultimately help you move and lift better in the gym. The second goal is to move better, also known as movement competency. Once an individual can execute a movement efficiently with a full range of motion (that is unrestricted), like a Squat or Deadlift, then and only then should the volume (sets x reps x load) be increased. When someone cannot execute a particular movement pattern correctly, do not increase repetitions, the number of sets or especially the load. Anyone who is loading tight, stiff muscles is basically an accident waiting to happen, it’s only a matter of time until you’ll need to take time off!

Focus on the primary movement patterns below using the “Big 6” as part of your primary strength routine and don’t sweat the small stuff.

  • Squat
  • Hip Hinge
  • Carry
  • Lunge
  • Push
  • Pull

A well-designed exercise program should improve mobility, increase strength, power, improve cardiovascular fitness and more. A strength and conditioning program should change body composition by way of adding lean muscle tissue and decreasing body fat. Balance should also improve in addition to flexibility and mobility. You must add time to your workout though to address it. But you won’t know if you’re improving if you don’t periodically measure it. Has this been an issue for you?

Focus on adding in a bout of sprint work to your weekly cardio routine. This should come in the form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). A few examples would be sprinting, cycling or rowing. Place more emphasis on quality rather than quantity when doing HIIT and remember, the key is manipulating the intensity as you get better at it.

Finally, focus on doing more mobility work each time you exercise and make it part of your recovery process on off days. These guidelines will help keep you strong and functional through the aging process.

Potential Prescription Ideas

  • Strength training (Big 6) 2-3x/week.
  • Fitness: Elevate your heart rate 2-3x/week for 15-30:00 (wear a heart rate monitor). Add HIIT at least once a week.
  • Power: work on vertical or horizontal jumping 1x/week (jump rope, box jumps, DOT drills, etc.)
  • Add more mobility work (via movements and foam roller etc.).
  • Baseline/Follow-up Assessment
  • Try Yoga

Use Jefit to Help Track Progress and More

Jefit is a workout log app that helps you meet your fitness goals. By providing an extensive exercise library, you can pick and choose your workouts according to your goals. You can also join our members-only Facebook group where you can connect and interact with your fellow Jefit members. Share your successes, stories, advice, and tips so you learn and grow together. Stay Strong!

Is Strength Training and HIIT an Ideal Combo?

blank

It’s a constant exploration, trying to find the ideal combination of weekly workouts to help you lose weight, get stronger, feel better, and so on! So, regardless of what your stance is on strength training, or the use of slow reps to make you stronger, or just cardio, cardio, cardio, here is the case for high-intensity interval training or HIIT and strength training as the ideal training combo.

The HIIT Revolution

High-intensity interval training has made a lot of headlines in recent years, and there have been countless fitness routines and regimes designed to take advantage of this high-intensity aspect. But why does high-intensity training work so well? It all goes back to that age-old approach to building muscle by putting your body under a lot of duress. In doing such an intense amount of exercise, you aren’t just going for a basic run; you are pushing your body to the limit. Many say that cardio is only effective if you do it for a long period of time. With respect to HIIT, it’s all about utilizing the right intensity. Similarly to what felt at the end of a road race, but in the space of 10-20 minutes. One of the great things about HIIT is the more intense the effort the shorter the workout needs to be.

“HIIT is the closest thing we have to an exercise pill.”

Martin Gibala, PhD, Researcher and Author, The One-Minute Workout

The HIIT Basics

For those that are unaware of HIIT, the basic premise is that you mix short bouts of intense exercise with longer periods of recovery. This is repeated for a specific duration. An example would be a period of time where you are working at 60 to 70 percent intensity, for a few minutes. And then, the next 30-60 seconds you would go “all-out,” at 100%! After that intense interval, your’e back at a moderate intensity, and continue using this undulating format for a specific duration. A few examples of this type of training include Insanity (bodyweight) workouts and P90X (using dumbbells) to offer a better picture.

There are many benefits to this type of training. One such benefit is that it’s a perfect choice for those who don’t have a lot of time to exercise. This is why it is such a useful component in modern exercise because many people can’t dedicate 5 or 6 sessions a week to commit to workout. But as an entryway into intense exercise, it is a perfect method for you to build up your resilience to strenuous exercise. Keep your HIIT to initially to 1-2 sessions a week. This leads us nicely to adding-in the next component, making this an ideal combination each week.

Strength Training

Strength training has become the most vital component of a workout routine. Now, as people are more obsessed with the aesthetics of exercise, flat abs, toned arms, etc., strength training is a fundamental component of getting this right. There are lots of workouts that focus heavily on strength training where are you perform compound exercises like, squat, bench press, barbell row, overhead press and deadlift. This type of protocol with these specific strength training exercises are usually done three times a week, meaning you’ve got time to live your life! But, it also gives you the opportunity to recover.

The main idea with this particular strength training format is that you start off light, but every time you complete the amount of repetitions required, you add 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs) to the weight. So, there’s going to be a point where you will definitely plateau. As a result, this is one of the best ways to improve strength and other facets of your workout. And everybody can benefit from strength training. Many people, however, skip compound movements and focus on various isolation exercises instead.

The benefit of this type of strength training is that it forces the body to adapt and as a result, muscle and connective tissue become stronger. And because you are lifting so heavy, it places your body under the required amount of stress you need to build more muscle. And this is why it’s such a beneficial workout. Those who have been exercising for years may not feel the benefits as much, but for those who are looking for a perfect starting point to build muscle and strength, this is it. And when this gets combined with HIIT, you’ve got the perfect training package.

Combining HIIT and Strength

Going back to Insanity and P90X, these are good examples of strength training and HIIT working in tandem. Although Insanity is all about using your bodyweight, if you were to swap in free weights, as with P90X, and do HIIT in between those workout days, you’ll end up with a fat torching combo! The intensity of lifting heavy forces your body to recruit more muscle fiber, and it also helps with weight loss, because you increase your overall caloric expenditure. When you add high-intensity interval training, as in the form of Tabata sprints, it becomes a powerful combination. But be warned. Trying to implement both is a fantastic way for you to lose weight if you need it. Doing both together, though, is a very difficult thing indeed, and if you are trying something new like Insanity, it can be really challenging on your body.

The results will speak for themselves, although you should try it out, and build up a resilience to it, before implementing the other workout. The thing about both of these is that once your endurance improves, you will be able to push yourself even further in a workout. Naturally, there will be points when you plateau, but as a way to build strength and work capacity, you are going to be unstoppable if you do it right!

Use Jefit App to Plan & Track Workouts

Jefit is a workout log app that helps you meet your fitness goals. By providing an extensive exercise library, you can pick and choose your workouts according to your goals. You can also join our members-only Facebook group where you can connect and interact with your fellow Jefit members. Share your successes, stories, advice, and tips so you learn and grow together. Stay Strong!

Here Are The Highest Calorie Burning Exercises to Choose

blank

The following article takes a look at the best movements to choose when you want to use the highest calorie burning exercises. There are many exercises that are available to you when working out from home or the gym. But what are the best options from a high caloric expenditure stand point? We have looked through the research and various articles to bring you that list.

These types of exercises are great individually or when mixed into a circuit or high-intensity training session. Obviously, the heavier the person, the higher the caloric expenditure per minute of exercise. Just a reminder when you look over this and other types of data like this.

Various Factors Affecting Calorie Burn

There are many factors that go into determining how many calories someone expends during exercise. Here is a great article on that topic by Robert Robergs, PhD and Len Kravitz, PhD. Here are eight factors, many of which you can manipulate, that will influence your calorie burn.

*Bodyweight

Basically, the more you weigh, the greater amount of calories you expend during exercise. Pretty simple.

*Type of Exercise

Cardio-based workouts typically involve higher calorie burning exercises. They usually burn more calories than other types of workouts like strength training or doing yoga. The key word here is intensity. Finally, there can be a different outcome with a well-designed exercise program. See the study, found below, by Falcone and colleagues reporting a HIIT session out performing a cardio workout involving men as test subjects.

*Exercise Intensity

The higher the intensity, the more calories you end up burning per minute. If I can get all exercise physiology on you for a moment…for every liter of oxygen you consume during exercise you expend about 5 calories. Keep in mind, the harder you breathe during activity, the greater the oxygen intake resulting in a higher caloric expenditure. Not to mention an elevated EPOC hours after your exercise is done.

*EPOC

Stands for excess post oxygen consumption. The higher the exercise intensity, the higher the “after burn.” Meaning, your body continues to expend calories long after the workout is finished. For this to happen, though, it has to be a very heavy lifting day or a HIT type workout. The intensity needs to be very high during the workout. As in, you couldn’t carry on a conversation because you’re breathing so hard.

*Compound Movements

When you perform a total body movement like a deadlift or push press exercise, you’ll burn more calories than say a concentrated biceps curl.

*Men Typically Burn More Calories than Women

This is simply a result of most men having a higher percentage of muscle mass than most women. This is not always the case however. Over the years I have run stadium stairs with female Olympic and college athletes. I can attest, some female athletes can out do any guy… it can be a truly humbling experience!

*Current Fitness Level

There are many benefits to living a healthy lifestyle. Staying in great shape allows an individual to work harder in their workouts and in turn, elicit a greater calorie burn during exercise.

*Your Age

The older the person, the less calories they burn in a given period of time. This is due to muscle mass. As we age we lose muscle and this affects metabolic rate and calorie burn.

Highest Calorie Burning Exercises for Short Duration

A Men’s Journal article compared four different activities, using a 5-minute testing period, to rank the highest caloric expenditure.  The four different exercises included: body-weight exercises, jogging, swinging a kettlebell, and jumping rope.  All are great forms of exercises and you need minimal equipment to perform each exercise. They determined jumping rope was number one, when it came to a 5-minute workout, burning 79 calories while the body weight exercises, consisting of push-ups and pull-ups, came in fifth using 51 total calories.

Jumping rope is a great training tool and should be used more prior to a workout. To continue on the topic of jumping rope, it has been reported that 10-minutes of jumping rope is equivalent to jogging for 30-minutes. Interesting numbers, though, especially the kettlebell swings being higher than pushing and pulling your body weight for 5-minutes. This was probably due to the subject getting more total swings with a kettlebell during the 5-minute period.

1st – Jumping Rope (79 calories/5-minutes)

2nd – Swinging a Kettlebell (63 calories/5-minutes)

3rd – Jogging (53 calories/5-minutes)

4th – Push-Up & Pull-Up combo (51 calories/5-minutes)

Men’s Journal

Here are a few great activities that the next study can hopefully look at. Compare the effects of 5-minutes of cross-country skiing or snow-shoeing, jogging up hill, HIIT using a bike or rower, an Assault bike (Schwinn Air-Dyne), Concept 2 Cross-Country Ski, CLMBR, and stadium stair running.

Some of the Highest Calorie Burning Exercises for Longer Duration

There was another report that I came across, with somewhat different results, that looked at calories burn for 10 to 30-minutes of activity. The group used an energy calculator from the American Council on Exercise (ACE). The study did acknowledge that every body is different and while one routine may work well for one person it might not be as efficient for another. Here are the results from that particular study. Keep in mind these numbers were based individuals who weighed only 130-pounds.

1st – Running/Jogging – 206 calories per 30-minutes

2nd – Hiking – 176 calories per 30-minutes.

3rd – Biking/Cycling – 5.5 mph – 117 calories per 30-minutes

4th – Jumping Rope – (fast pace) – 115 calories per 10-minutes*

5th – Walking (moderate pace) – 97 calories per 30-minutes

6th – Weightlifting – 88 calories per 30-minutes

CNET

Obviously, if you are are 200-pound male, these numbers would be significantly higher. Again, the different calorie outputs for jumping rope (for 5 and 10 minutes) most likely, had do to bodyweight and speed of jumping (i.e., pace or rpm or # of toe taps).

In one last article, Harvard Medical School reported calorie burn for over 100 different activities. The group looked at the difference in calorie burn for 30-minutes of activity for 125, 155 and 185-pound individuals. They also did not report if they were men or women, or how much lean muscle they had, so keep that in mind. They just looked at overall bodyweight.

What The Exercise Research Says

A 2015 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research by Falcone and colleagues, compared the energy expenditure of single exercise sessions using resistance, aerobic, and combined exercise involving the same duration. The test subjects were young, active men. All sessions were 30-minutes. The resistance training session used 75 percent of their 1-RM, the aerobic session, on a treadmill, used 70 percent maximum heart rate. The high-intensity interval session (HIIT) session was done on a hydraulic resistance system (HRS). The HRS workout used intervals of 20-seconds of maximum effort followed by 40-seconds of rest. The HIIT session using the HRS had the highest caloric expenditure of the three workouts. The data suggest that individuals can burn more calories performing HIIT with HRS than spending the same amount of time performing steady-state exercise.

A 2012 study at Colorado State University found that test subjects who worked out on a stationary bike for less than 25 minutes, with just a few sprints mixed in, expended an additional 200 calories a day, due to excess-post oxygen consumption (EPOC) or commonly known as the after-burn effect.

The Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise reviewed interval training. Subjects exercised using high-intensity intervals. The total amount of calories expended one-hour post workout was 107 percent more than low-intensity, short duration exercise. And 143 percent more than with low intensity, long duration exercise! That’s because interval exercise peaking at levels above a 70 percent maximum-intensity effort, speeds up metabolism for up to three hours after exercise – a benefit not found with low-intensity exercise.

Hopefully this article sheds more light on this topic regarding the best exercises to choose when the main interest is high calorie burn.

Stay Strong With Jefit

Join the millions of members who have had great success using the Jefit app. The award-winning app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, the ability to track data and share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s huge exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Stay strong with Jefit.

Five Proven Exercise Strategies to Improve Mood and Anxiety

blank

Packaging the health benefits of exercise into a bottle or pill would be comparable to finding the Holy Grail. Though that won’t happen any time soon, you can still take advantage of what exercise has to offer. According to a study published in the Lancet Psychiatry, people report an average of 3.5 days of poor mental health in a given month. The amazing thing is we already know that there are exercise strategies for improving mood and anxiety. More of us just need to take advantage of doing these types of exercise on a regular basis.

The good news regarding this topic is any form exercise – from walking to housework – will reduce that number by an average of 1.5 days a month. Playing any type of team sport, in addition to aerobic exercise, and strength training seem to have the biggest affect on mood; with reports of these activities reducing the number of mental health days by 20 percent.

Amount of Exercise Needed

Individuals who exercise for 20 to 60 minutes a day, three to five days a week, receive the most benefit, compared with those who exercise either less or more. In fact, people who exercised 23 times a month and for longer than 90 minutes per workout, actually had worse mental health compared to those who exercised less often or for shorter periods of time, as noted in the study.

The following list includes five different activities that are proven exercise strategies that will improve mood and decrease anxiety. The goal is to get more of people doing some type of daily activity. Only 23 percent of Americans, over 18 years old, exercise on a regular basis. Meaning, they perform both cardio and strength training during the week, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Walking is a man’s best medicine.”

Hippocrates

Manageable Exercise Strategies to Improve Mood: Walking & Hiking

These are grouped together for no particular reason other than hiking is a more challenging progression of walking. Both are great for reducing stress and improving mood. This is especially true if you happen to be walking or hiking in the forest. The Japanese actually have a name for their strolls in the forest, they call it “Shinrinyoku.” They regard their walks or hikes in the forest as being similar to natural aromatherapy.

Newer research seems to reinforce the idea that spending time out in nature can be good for your mental health. A 2015 study published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning, as an example, discovered that when young adults went on a 50-minute walk out in nature, they felt less anxious and had improved memory function.

In a study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, research scientists found a single bout of exercise – walking for 30-minutes – could instantly improve the mood of someone suffering from a major depressive order. Some scientists believe the reason for this is more neurobiological than anything.

“Walking and hiking works on stress by increasing arousal and energy levels and secondarily by reducing tension. The energy boost is immediate, while the tension reduction reveals itself later and over time. The enhanced energy enables you to better cope with stress, so that you are less likely to become tense in the first place.”

Running is a Big Stress Buster

Aerobic exercise, such as running, can produce positive changes in mood at least on a short-term basis across both young and older adults. Running 30-minutes during a week for three weeks has been shown to boost sleep quality, mood and concentration during the day according to a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Additional research showed a positive affect on trained runners who ran on a treadmill compared to untrained subjects; moderate-intensity running versus high-intensity running was shown to be have the best impact on “mood states.”

The mental benefits of running can be especially powerful for people who suffer from high anxiety and even depression. In a 2006 review published in the Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience, researchers found evidence that exercise, like running, can work in a way that is similar to how antidepressants work.

Yoga Benefits

You have probably heard before how important your breath is, especially nasal breathing. No other activity focuses more on breath than meditation and yoga. The simple act of sitting or lying supine for even a few minutes, focusing on your breath, can make an impact on both mood and stress levels. Asanas work on stretching, lengthening, balancing and releasing stress in the muscles. These various postures can help release built-up muscle tension and stiffness in the body.

According Harvard Medical School, “by reducing perceived stress and anxiety, yoga appears to modulate stress response systems. This, in turn, decreases physiological arousal — for example, reducing heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and easing respiration. There is evidence that yoga also increases heart rate variability, an indicator of the body’s ability to respond to stress.

Strength Training Goes a Long Way

We know regular bouts of strength training can benefit our muscles, connective tissue and bones. The affects of regular training can go well beyond that. For instance, JAMA Psychiatry, reported “people with mild to moderate depression who performed resistance training two or more days a week saw “significant” reductions in their symptoms, compared with people who did not.” The research looked at 33 randomized clinical trials involving more than 1,800 subjects, and the findings “suggested that resistance exercises may be even more beneficial for those with more severe depressive symptoms.”

Research published in American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine (2010) reviewed seven resistance training studies to determine if training could be used as an intervention for people with anxiety. Their review on this topic demonstrated that resistance training is in fact a meaningful intervention for people suffering from anxiety. Two of the seven studies compared the effects of high-intensity resistance training (80% of 1-RM) to moderate-intensity (50%-60% of 1-RM). The results indicated that anxiety was reduced more with moderate-intensity resistance training. Stay Strong with Jefit.

References

Yanker, G., Burton, K., Walking Medicine. McGraw-Hill Publishing, 1990.

O’Connor, P.J., Herring, M.P. and Carvalho, A. Mental health benefits of strength training in adults. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 4(5), 377-396., 2010.

Understanding the Impact of Biomarkers

blank

First, what are biomarkers? They include hundreds of different metrics that basically offer insight into how your body is managing the aging process. A few examples include, blood pressure, muscle mass, aerobic capacity, heart rate, blood profile, and different genetic tests. In fact, these metrics, or biological markers, can be broken down into various categories.

Let’s look at a few of the suggested markers from the book, Biomarkers: The 10 Determinants of Aging You Can Control by Bill Evans, PhD and Irwin Rosenberg, MD. They focus their research on ten biological markers that would be interesting to individuals like you who exercise. The following list includes three of the ten biomarkers discussed in their book.

Muscle Mass: A Very Important Biomarker

This is at the top of their list for good reason, maintaining muscle mass as you age is critical for functionality. This first and second biomarker go hand-in-hand and you know the importance of both (beyond just looking good). Let a month go by without strength training and see what happens to that mass mass and strength level of yours. Our body, sadly, begins to detrain in as little as a few weeks.

If you don’t strength train on a regular basis you’re basically an accident waiting to happen. Further, you will become part of the statistical group that loses approximately 5-8 pounds of metabolically active lean muscle mass each decade starting around age 35. Researchers Evans and Rosenberg have said “the first biomarker, muscle mass, is responsible for the vitality of your whole body.”

Maintaining Strength

It’s important to understand that maintaining both muscle and strength as you age is really important. When someone strength trains for the rest of their life they end up maintaining or improving many of the other biological markers. When muscle mass and strength decrease, so will other biological markers.

With the loss of muscle mass comes the loss of strength and power. Strength appears to peak between ages 25 and 35 and maintained (or decreases slightly) between ages of 40 and 59. Strength levels declines by 12-14 percent per decade after 50 years of age, according to research. The good news is that if you engage in regular strength training, you can preserve both strength and muscle mass, as shown in the photo below of the 40 and 70-year old athletes (hint: they have roughly the same amount of muscle mass 30-years apart).

blank

Basal Metabolic Rate

The third biomarker, basal metabolic rate or BMR, is interrelated with the first two metrics on the list. Basal and resting metabolic rates (also known as BMR and RMR) are basically an estimate of the amount of calories your body needs to function properly while at rest. It represents the minimum amount of energy (calories) needed for your heart to beat, for your lungs to function properly and to maintain a normal body temperature. Metabolic rate is typically 6-10 percent lower in women compared to men. Metabolic rate is also affected by age, exercise, stress, temperature, hydration, high altitude, sleep and frequency of meals. Regular exercise, especially strength training, has been shown to slow down the natural decrease of metabolism with age.

These are just three of the of the many hundreds of biological markers available to monitor. Regular strength training will have short and long-term impacts on each of these biomarkers. Just a few more reasons to stay strong!

Six of the Best Exercises to Build Strength

blank

Look at any exercise book, website or app and you can find hundreds of different exercises. Those exercises can be performed hundreds of ways and those hundred can turn into thousands of different variations. The Jefit app, as an example, features more than 1300 different exercises. What are the best exercises to build strength though? Let’s take a look at a few of them.

The Deadlift is One of the Best Exercises to Build Strength

Overall strength is needed for activities of daily living and it’s obviously very important for any athletic activity or workout. The deadlift is a great exercise because its whats known as a compound exercise. Meaning, multiple muscle groups work concurrently. As a result, an increase in strength will occur in the core, legs, back, hips and grip – basically head to toe! The glutes and hamstrings are the prime movers during this exercise. An additional nine other muscles also get worked. The deadlift is great for improving hip extension strength.

TRAINER TIP: Use a Hex Bar, if possible, it’s a lot easier to use than a barbell when initially performing a deadlift.

Squat

The squat is always a main exercise feature in any strength program and for good reason. Squats are also great for a beginner level person compared to say a deadlift. Knee-dominant exercise, like the squat, target the quadriceps muscles. The glutes also come into play during the execution of the movement. In addition, like the deadlift, nine other muscle groups also get hit.

TRAINER TIP: Many strength coaches actually teach the front squat before back squat. It’s not about the amount of weight a person uses but rather using good technique and moving through a full range-of-motion. As a former assistant strength coach at UConn, we use to have all our athletes start fresh because so many coming in had bad habits. We gave each student-athlete a chronological training age of zero. Once they had proper technique down they then progressed to bigger and better things with the squat and other movements.

Pull-Up

This exercise can be very challenging for a novice but it’s a great way to build upper body strength. The pull-up uses an overhand grip compared to a chin-up, which has the palms facing towards the person. This is a great exercise to test your upper body “pulling” strength. They can tell someone a great deal about where they’re at training wise. Seven muscle groups get stronger doing this compound movement, including the latissimus dorsi, and biceps.

TRAINER TIP: If pull-ups are too difficult initially, try chin-ups first or do negative pull-ups. Try jumping up and let yourself return to the starting position in a slow controlled manner. Also, try either an inverted row or connect a giant band to try assisted pull-up using less of your body weight, as additional options.

blank
Overhead Military Press

Overhead Press

An efficient way to build shoulder, core and overall strength is by lifting weight overhead. Lifting a barbell, kettlebell or dumbbell overhead builds strength in the shoulders, back, arms and core. Any vertical pressing movement also works different muscle that act as stabilizers from the foot up through the shoulder complex.

TRAINER TIP: Remember to move the head forward as you press the weight overhead. Also, keep areas of your body, like glutes and core braced (or tight) when performing the exercise.

Bent-Over Row

The Bent-over Row, using a barbell or dumbbells, is one of the best pulling exercises someone can do. It ranks near the top for exercises in terms of muscle recruitment. See this previously published article on the Jefit blog that discusses this topic more in depth. The exercise is perfect for any push/pull routine and is a nice compliment to a barbell or dumbbell chest press.

TRAINER TIP: Work first on performing scapular retraction before any pulling or rowing motion is attempted.

Bench Press

Saving the best for last, the bench press is a versatile exercise that can be performed using a barbell, dumbbells and kettlebells. It’s a great exercise to build upper body strength, especially in the chest, shoulder and arms. As a result, it’s a great compound or multi-joint exercise and a must in a strength training routine.

TRAINER TIP: Change it up every 4-6 weeks. Meaning, make your grip wider, more narrow, switch barbell to dumbbells, change the speed of the movement, adjust the incline on the bench, try a decline position, etc.

Adding any of these six exercises into your routines at any given time will help build strength in both the prime movers and smaller stabilizing muscle as well. These particular exercises are some of the best exercises to build strength. Good Luck and Stay Strong!

Benefits of Combining Strength and Cardio

blank

The health benefits associated with performing strength training on a regular basis, especially as one ages, are many. Cardiovascular exercise, from walking to running, is also key, especially when used as a “COVID-19 mood booster” or stress reliever. There is a great quote from an old Greek philosopher named Diogenes that says: “it is solved by walking,” from the Latin word, Solviture Ambulando.

What are the benefits of combining strength and cardio in your workout? Should we be doing both? Simply adding in short bouts of cardio (like jumping rope), with your weight training, can take a workout to the next level. It ends up challenging both your muscular and cardiovascular systems in one efficient workout. 

The Benefits of Combining Strength and Cardio Are Many

The goal of circuit weight training (CWT) is to move quickly from one exercise to the next with minimal rest. The design of a circuit can be as simple as performing an upper body, lower body and core exercise followed by a brief bout of cardio. The cardio could be jumping rope, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, basically anything that elevates heart rate. A 2013 study published in American Association for Health, Physical Education and Recreation, reported jumping rope can be one of the most effective cardio exercises. We’re talking better than running, swimming or rowing. Following six-weeks of jumping rope exercises (for 10-minutes/day), subjects displayed the same levels of cardiovascular efficiency as those who did 30 minutes of jogging.

There is also a hidden bonus with circuit-training, an “additional” calorie-burning benefit post-workout. The term associated with this is excess-post oxygen consumption (EPOC). This has the potential to occur when doing challenging circuit weight training programs. The body continues to expend additional calories for hours after the workout has been completed. The routine needs to be challenging though which this type of workout can definitely be.

Additional Research Backs Up the Benefits

According to a 2019 study published in the journal Obesity, those who combined strength training with cardio were less likely to become obese. A classic review study by Gettman and Pollock (1981) showed the average aerobic capacity increased by 5% while strength improved 7-32%. The good news with all the studies reviewed showed a 2-6 pound increase in muscle mass. The average length of the workouts reviewed was only 25-30 minutes. A second study by Wilmore and colleagues determined energy expenditure was 9 calories/minute for men and 6 calories/minute for women who performed circuit weight training programs. Finally, a 10-week study compared CWT to biking showing favorable results in multiple areas for CWT. This type of training was shown to  “lead to mild to moderate increases in aerobic capacity” and “muscle mass.”

blank

Jefit Home Exercise Programs: 5 Circuit-Based Routines

Strength & Cardio Circuit. This is a 1-day routine that incorporates exercise and bouts of cardio. The only piece of cardio equipment needed, however, is a jump rope.

Home Circuit (30-minutes). This is a two-day program you can do that is a circuit using exercises only, no cardio. You move quickly from one exercise to the next with minimal rest between sets.

Home Bodyweight Circuit (Level 1). This program has only two circuits or rounds – compared to three – found in Level 2 and 3 of this program. When this routine becomes less challenging for you – progress to Level 2.

Home Bodyweight Circuit (Level 2). The design of these workout sessions consist of 5 body weight exercises that are repeated for 3 circuits or rounds. The session starts off with core work.

Home Bodyweight Circuit (Level 3). This program is designed as a circuit where you complete one round of 10 different exercises with minimal or no rest. Once completed, you return to the first exercise and move through another round of the circuit, until 3 rounds are completed.

This information presented hopefully offers additional insight into the value of performing circuit weight training more often. Continue to work hard and stay strong while using Jefit circuit-based workouts at home.

The Health Benefits of Strength Training

bench press elite

Many younger people engage in strength training for reasons of vanity rather than possible health benefits. Some people probably also believe that aerobic exercise trumps strength training when it comes to those health benefits. Well, both are important, and need to be performed regularly to receive any of the benefit we’re about to discuss. The best exercise though is the one that you end up doing most often.

How Many Days a Week Should I Be Strength Training?

The sweet spot is 2-3 sessions a week to obtain all the health benefits of strength training. One strength session a week is enough to maintain the strength that you have. An individual can experience gains in about 4 to 6 weeks if new to strength training.

What are the Health Benefits of Strength Training?

Helps Preserve Muscle Tissue. As you reach your fourth decade you experience hormonal changes that result in loss of lean muscle tissue. The loss of muscle tissue is even more pronounced after age 75. Other factors like stress and lack of sleep can disrupt the body even more. When this occurs, your body produces more cortisol, a stress hormone. The best way to offset this loss is to engage in a regular strength training program, 2-3 times a week. Strength training, if used properly, is like a magic pill. Researchers at Wake Forest University studied overweight adults who were in their 60’s. The study showed participants who lost weight and engaged in strength training lost less lean muscle mass than those who shed pounds through aerobic training.

Increases Strength. As you age, you lose strength, its that simple like taxes and death! Your strength levels peaks between 25-30 years old. Following that, it’s a downhill battle for most to hang on to that strength. Research studies have shown that strength can be reduced up to 40% by the time a person reaches age 70. By the time you hit age 75, you have about half of the muscle mass you had in your twenties.

In physically inactive people, there is a loss of about 3-5% of muscle mass per decade and a parallel decline in muscle strength, after age 30. As a result, the average person will lose 1/2 pound of muscle per year between age 30-60. This equates to about a loss of 15 pounds of muscle!

Builds Strong Bones. Strength training has been shown to increase bone mineral density. As weights are lifted, the tendons that are connected to bone, get “pulled-on” in the process. This constant pulling, over time, is what builds strong bones. This is a good thing because after age 40, you start to lose 1% of your bone density per year.

Helps Control Body Fat. A study in the journal Obesity reported that strength training helped adults become slimmer. Losing muscle reduces your metabolic rate. You feel like you’re not eating at times but still have difficulty losing weight. In turn, you see an increase in body fat. Regular bouts of strength training will preserve muscle mass and and to some extent, metabolic rate, and this with proper intake, will prevent body fat levels from rising out of control.

Hopefully, some of these statistics opened up your eyes a bit more regarding the benefits of strength training. Strength training a few times a week, is something you can do for yourself that always pays back strong dividends. Try the Functional Strength program featured on the Jefit app to help you build muscle mass. Stay Strong!

Three Requirements for Muscle Growth

There are three key requirements for muscle growth to occur. To ensure muscle growth you need an appropriate training stimulus, proper diet with adequate protein and of course plenty of recovery. A fourth factor, not discussed here, is the important role that genetics play. We all know people who train hard, eat well and get plenty of sleep. They typically get stronger but don’t really pack on lean muscle. There are many variables that can effect (1) how much and (2) how quickly your body adds lean muscle. This ultimately depends on age, gender, genetic and hormonal factors. There is a saying out there when talking about the part genetics play: “If you want an Olympic athlete then you need Olympic parents.”

Appropriate Training Stimulus for Muscle Growth?

How do you stimulate muscle growth? When a persons muscles are challenged they adapt and change over time. Changes are dependent on the type of activity and muscle fiber types used, the load exerted on the muscle, and the velocity and duration of the contraction. (Marieb, 2004) The point is to push through all the hard workouts, because muscular growth or hypertrophy can only be accomplished through these adaptations and changes. “It takes about 16 workouts to have a noticeable ‘superficial’ effect. There is simply no other recipe to do this in a healthy, orderly, and long-lasting manner.” Try using the Jefit, a workout planner & tracker app to record all your workouts.

blank
blank

Is the Current RDA for Protein Enough?

This is a tough area for a lot of people. Their eating habits are just not where they need to be. In addition to eating well-balanced, highly nutritious meals, protein intake needs to be sufficient. If not, muscle growth to say the least, will be difficult if not impossible. The scientific research has shown different results over the years in terms of protein needs.

The question we should ask ourselves is – do we follow the suggested RDA of 0.8 grams/kg/day for protein intake or is it more in line with 1-2 gram/kg/day? The answer may depend partly on the volume of daily exercise you’re doing, if you’re a strength or an endurance athlete, and your age.

Adequate Nutritional Intake (Especially Protein)

A classic study was done in 1988 at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. I was actually one of the test subjects in that study and also later worked there. The team headed by Meredith and colleagues, looked at the protein needs of 12 subjects. Six were young (26.8 +/- 1.2 yr) and six were middle-aged (52.0 +/- 1.9 yr) endurance-trained men. All subjects consumed either 0.6, 0.9, or 1.2 grams/kg/day of high-quality protein over three separate 10-day periods. They did this while maintaining their training and a constant body weight. The results of the study estimated that protein requirement was 0.94 +/- 0.05 grams/kg/day for the 12 men. The data from the study showed endurance exercise was associated with a specific dietary protein requirement. These needs were actually greater than the current Recommended Dietary Allowance of 0.8 g/kg/day.

Since then, there have been several studies on individuals who engaged in regular aerobic exercise. The exercise, more vigorous in nature, demonstrated a higher protein need more in line with 1.1 to 1.4 grams/kg/day. This by the way is about 38%-75% above the current RDA range. There is good evidence that the current recommended protein intake may actually limit muscle growth. This was seen in a study published in the Journal Applied Physiology. Some researcher’s report an optimal intake more in line with a protein range of 1.5 to 1.8 grams/kg/day which is 88% to 125% above the suggested RDA. The best way to make this happen is by ingesting 25-30 grams/protein with each meal and of course supplement with a post recovery protein drink.

Optimal Recovery (Sleep)

You can have the two other two boxes checked but if sleep is not happening, muscle growth will not occur. As a persons training intensity increases, more recovery and sleep is needed. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), we need 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Are you getting that? When this happens on a regular basis for you, you can check that third box. Here are their guidelines for recommended amounts of sleep by the NSF.

  • School age children (6-13 yrs. old): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours
  • Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours
  • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
  • Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category) 

Key Take Aways

Increasing strength and building muscle can seem like a full-time job at times. You will need all the help you can get to make this happen, especially on both fronts. By checking all three boxes (training/nutrition/sleep), your odds of finally adding lean muscle will improve greatly. Be Well and Stay Strong!

Strength Training Review: 5×5 Split Routine

blank

The benefits of strength training performed on a regularly basis are well documented in scientific literature, magazines and on the web. There are many digital health & fitness companies who have apps that enable you to build strength training programs. With so much information coming your way, what type of program is actually best at helping you get results? In this case, when talking about results, we’re referring to gains in both strength and muscle development.

15 Benefits of Strength Training

  • Increases muscular strength
  • Builds lean muscle mass
  • Improves a muscle’s ability to take in and use glucose (blood sugar).
  • Weight management
  • Decreases body fat level (Improves muscle-to-fat ratio)
  • Improves mobility and balance
  • Reduces the risk of osteoporosis (increases bone density)
  • Will boost your self-confidence and improve your body image
  • Enhanced performance (on all levels)
  • Improves sleep
  • Decreases risk of injury
  • Improves posture
  • May reduce or prevent cognitive decline in older people
  • Prevents or controls chronic conditions such as heart diseasearthritisback paindepression, obesity and pain management
  • Increases lifespan

Take a look at the following 5×5 split routine found on the Jefit app. This particular weight lifting program was designed as a 3-day routine. Keep in mind, there are many other split routines you can find that offer 4-6 days versus 3-days.

Program Design: 5×5 Split Routine (3-Days)

All strength training sessions follow a 5×5 format using only two body parts to keep session times under an hour. The workout time range for the 3-day program was between 36 and 56 minutes. The recovery time between sets is a very important training variable that needs to be manipulated depending on load (sets x reps x weight). Adequate recovery is important in order to push that next heavy set. A key point to remember, using a short rest period of one-minute between sets means the muscle is only about 80% recovered. I used a 2:00 recovery time between most of the sets for this reason. That may have to increase if someone is using very heavy weight for all their exercises.

The routine gets its unique name from “splitting” up specific muscle groups and associating those body segments to different days of the week. The idea behind the design of this routine was to couple a leg day with pulling movements that overload the back on Day 1. The second day includes push movements that target the chest with a pull and push for the arms. On day 3 you have pressing movements that target the shoulders with a few core exercises. This routine is only a snapshot for one-week of training.

The 5×5 program used the following 3-day split format over the course of a week:

Legs & Back (4 exercises) – Day 1

Chest & Arms (4 exercises) – Day 2

Shoulders & Core (5 exercises) – Day 3

Sets & Reps Scheme

Be realistic when designing any exercise program regarding the number of sets and repetition you use. More is not always better. Different exercises, sets, repetitions and recovery time will effect both short and long-term outcomes. Using a 5×5 setup gives you 25 repetitions per exercise and two movements per body part brings that repetition total to 50. That is more than enough to overload a muscle using a 5-RM. Many programs out there, when looking at sets and repetitions, equate to unrealistic expectations regarding length of workout. A repetition goal of 25-50 is more than enough to stimulate muscle growth, as long as you’re using a 5-RM. Here is a nice article on how to perform a 5-RM bench press test.

There are four important design elements regarding this particular 5×5 split routine. They are: (1) the use of compound movements, (2) large muscle groups, (3) the use of 5-RM on all exercises, and (4) sufficient recovery time. A 5×5 split routine is popular and has been shown to build strength and muscle size over time. Special emphasis should be placed on your 5-RM in this strength training routine. During anytime in the program, if you’re able to surpass five repetitions for any exercise – that’s right – you need to increase the weight. If for example, an exercise on your “core” day (see below) is too light – then hold a weight plate or wear a weighted vest (if available) to challenge yourself more. See the design and layout below.

blank
blank
blank

I hope you enjoy the program. If you have any questions on this particular 5×5 Split Routine (3-day), now featured on Jefit app, or any other program for that matter, please reach out to me in the comment section on this blog or our online community via the app. Here is some additional reading that you may find interesting on the topic of strength training. Be well and stay strong!

5 Strength Training Types to Follow with Your Strength Training Tracker

strength training tracker

The words “strength training” have been thrown around the fitness industry for quite a while now. It has been gaining a lot of traction, especially among females. There are different types of strength training that you can focus on and follow with your strength training tracker, depending on your fitness goals.

5 weight training disciplines that will help you build muscle

1. Bodyweight

Bodyweight refers to training that uses only your bodyweight. There is no need for extra weights or machines. This is why bodyweight training is often overlooked by people when it comes to building strength and muscle. However, you only have to look at the world’s top gymnasts to know that this is a big mistake. Gymnasts, who are big on bodyweight exercises, are some of the strongest people.

However, you only have to look at the world’s top gymnasts to know that this is a big mistake. Gymnasts, who are big on bodyweight exercises, are some of the strongest people in the world.

Pros

Workout anywhere: If you can’t make it to the gym, you can easily have an effective workout at home. Just do bodyweight exercises!

Great for beginners: For those who want to ease into strength training, using your bodyweight is a great way to start. It can really make a difference in building your strength and confidence. After you get started with bodyweight exercises, you can move onto other strength disciplines such as gym weightlifting or powerlifting.

Cons

Hard to see your progress: With other training disciplines such as powerlifting, you can easily observe your improvements. This is when you are able to lift or squat a heavier load than your previous PR.

With bodyweight exercises, you don’t have the weights to tell you how far you have come. A great way to solve this is by using a strength training tracker to note and log your workouts so you can track your progress.

2. Gym Weightlifting

This is the most common type of strength training. It refers to the use of weight machines and free weights, such as dumbbells, as the primary method to build muscle.

Pros

Not as intimidating: This is great, especially for beginner gym goers, as dumbells are easy and simple to use. Even machines have easy-to-follow insutructions labelled on them. They’ll also have images that highlight the parts of the body in use so you know where you are supposed to be feeling the burn.

Versatile: You will have plenty of options with gym weightlifting. There are machines that have multiple uses in one so you can train more than one part of the body. Dumbells can also be used in different ways. For example, you can use dumbells for bicep curls and then an overhead press. You can mix and match exercises depending on what your fitness goals are, which means you will not be limited.

Good for beginners and seasoned gym goers:  Gym weightlifting is perfect for everyone. The equipment comes in a range of weights so whether you need 1kg or 40kg and more, you can find them. The same goes for the machines. You can adjust the load according to your personal preference.

Cons

Long wait: As gym weightlifting is so popular, during peak times, you may find that you have to wait to use the equipment. A way to get around this is by alternating turns with someone. For example, during your buddy’s rest time, you can complete your set and vice versa. Don’t forget to record your set with your strength training tracker so that you can keep a record of your progress.

3. Powerlifting

Powerlifting focuses on brute strength and consists of three primary movements:

  • Squat
  • Bench
  • Deadlift

The aim of powerlifting is to hit your maximum strength for one repetition for each of these exercises.

Pros

Builds strength: Powerlifting is one of the best ways to build up your strength as it is the main goal of powerlifters. Unlike other disciplines such as bodybuilding, powerlifting targets your strength ability as opposed to concentrating solely on aesthetics.

With powerlifting, you really will progress towards your strength and muscle goals, particularly in the legs, back and upperbody.. To help record your progress though, make sure you use a strength training tracker to log your workouts so you can see just how well powerlifting has improved your training.

Good technique: One of the most important aspects of fitness is making sure that you have the correct technique. If you don’t, you dramatically increase the risk of injury which is very dangerous.

Powerlifting has a big focus on technique. With only 3 primary movements, people can spend more time learning the right forms and techniques without rushing.

Cons

Narrow focus: Powerlifters can potentially disregarding other important exercises to only focus on the big 3, or only view them as “accessory” training.

Unless you are a competitive powerlifter, it is good to incorporate other movements into your training program as well so you can get a well-rounded workout.

No cardio: With an emphasis on absolute strength, powerlifters tend to neglect other aspects of fitness such as cardio. It is good to include some exercises that elevate your heart rate so that you can get in shape and stay in shape.

4. Weightlifting

In comparison, Olympic lifting, also known as weight lifting, has two main movements: the clean and jerk, and snatch. These moves are explosive, meaning that there isn’t just a focus on strength but also velocity. The aim is to move the bar as quickly as possible in these vertically overhead movements. To do so requires more than strength; flexibility, agility and mobility play a big part in weightlifting as well.

Pros

Uses all the muscles in the body: If you want to work out all your muscles at once, then Olympic weightlifting is the way to go. This is particularly helpful for those who want a more time-efficient way of training and have limited time at the gym. You’ll still get optimal results.

Works on speed: As I mentioned before, weightlifting is more than just a measurement of strength but speed as well. Weightlifters simultaneously perform high-velocity movements with heavy loads so you’re killing two birds with one stone.

Fun: Olympic lifting is also fun. Due to the movement’s dynamic and ballistic nature, it isn’t as easy or simple as bicep curls or other typical workouts.

Cons

High injury risk: While all workouts do have an injury risk, Olympic weightlifting has the worst reputation for being more prone to injury. To minimize these chances, it is important that you learn the correct form and technique to be able to properly and safely execute these moves. Bear in mind the slow and steady is the key in progressing your strength training. Do not rush and load up on heavy weights as this is actually detrimental to your performance and health.

Bear in mind the slow and steady is the key in progressing your strength training. Do not rush and load up on heavy weights as this is actually detrimental to your performance and health.

Use a strength training tracker to follow your progress so you can steadily improve while still being safe and smart about it.

5. Strongman

Strongman focuses on strength endurance as opposed to just brute strength. It consists of functional strength movements such as moving heavy weights over long distances. It takes us back to our primal instincts and movements such as pushing, pulling, walking, lifting, bending – with heavy loads.

Pros

Functional strength: One of the biggest benefits of strongman training is that you can use the strength you have built in the real world. As it replicates primal, human movements, you are able to use the skills that you develop with strongman training in your everyday life.

Variety of exercises: It is easy to never get bored with Strongman as there is a wide range of movements to try.

Cons

Hard to find equipment: It can be difficult trying to find a gym that caters to this discipline. Strongman uses equipment such as large (really large) tires and yoke for motion-based exercises. You will have to find a specialized gym.

High risk of injury: Because you are not only lifting heavy loads but carrying and moving them around, there is a high risk of injury involved. You need to really be careful with these motion-based workouts. Make sure that while you push yourself, you are still smart about it.

As you can see, there are many types of strength training that you can try. While each has their own advantages and disadvantages, find the one (or even two) that you enjoy the most and is more suited for your fitness goals. And remember, to really know whether it is working for you, make sure you use a strength training tracker that will help to log your progress and results.

Jefit is a gym workout app that also functions as a strength training tracker. You can easily maximize your training by using the workout log to track your strength training, share your progress and results with others, and be part of a supportive community.

Which strength training discipline do you enjoy the most or want to try? Leave us a comment below, we would love to know!