The point of training is to better your body. However, more and more is not the answer in the long term. Overtraining refers to a combination of stresses such as too much training load, a heavy load at work, personal stresses and emotional burnout. Some signs of overtraining include weight loss with a lessened appetite, loss of motivation in physical activity, an increase in muscle soreness and exhaustion and increased anger and emotional outbursts, to name a few.
It would seem logical to keep piling on more and more physical effort to keep improving your body. But the fact is that humans are biological machines, and therefore need rest and lower stresses. Here is where periodization comes in.
Periodization is the planning of a workout program that starts in phase 1 to target the endurance fibres in the muscles, with lots of reps and a low load. Gradually over several weeks, the load is increased, but the volume (sets x reps) is decreased. In the transitional phases, the program switches from targeting the endurance fibres to the strength fibres. Rest and recovery between sessions are absolutely essential.
A trainer should be planning this transitional programming, with about two weeks in between changes in load or volume. It takes that long to adapt and get prepared for changes If you are having problems with excessive muscle soreness that persists longer than a day or two, mention it to the trainer and some regression is in order. When forward changes do happen, the trainer should limit the stress to about 5% increase.
Super setting is a technique we can use to maximize our workout time, building muscle in a very efficient way. We pair two exercises together, without much rest time between them. There are a few ways to do this.
Agonist super sets. This means the exercise all target the same main muscle (group), and will involve other muscles as well. You need to do all exercises at a weight you can just finish your reps with. For instance, if you want to develop stronger, bigger biceps, an agonist super set could look like this:
1. Cable curls, low mount. 4 sets, 6-8 reps.
2. Incline dumbbell curls. 4 sets, 4-6 reps.
Antagonist super sets. The exercise you pick for this will target first one muscle group and then the opposing muscle group. For instance, you could work on your chest and then your back. I suggest:
1. Chest - dumbbells flyes. 3 sets, 6-8 reps
2. Back - lat pulldowns. 3 sets 6-8 reps
3. Chest - pushups. 3 sets 15-20 reps
4. Back - cable rows. 3 sets 6-8 reps
Tri-Sets. This simply means adding a third exercise to each muscle group.
Staggered super sets. Here we use our rest time between sets to work other muscle groups. This maximizes your time spent and is a very efficient way to get a whole body workout done. For example, between your sets of pushups, do a plank for 30 seconds. Between your cable rows, do a set of calf raises, holding a set of dumbbells for extra effort.
Cardio and Strength super sets. Do a stint of intense cycling, followed by 2-3 sets of leg presses or squats. Since cycling is very quad-centric, the squats will force the tired quads (and hamstrings, glutes and calves) to work harder still. Or if your cardio is on the elliptical, your glutes will get a fair amount of work - hip extension. So then pair that cardio with lunges, focussing on squeezing the glutes, especially on the rear leg.
Protect Your Knees
One of the most common sites for injury is your knees. In fact, there are dozens of separate documented types of knee ailments and injuries. Chances are that you’ve fallen victim to at least one of them in the past. The knee is essential to walking, running, kicking, sitting, using the stairs and getting up from a chair. If the knee weren’t there to bend, none of these activities would be possible. However, the knee doesn’t think for itself! This hinge joint will do whatever the hip and/or the foot will tell it to do – which makes the biomechanics of your leg crucial to good knee health. So here’s a checklist of things to look at:
1. Assess your shoes. Worn-out shoes can cause knee problems. If they are worn down at the heel, or you’ve been wearing them for quite a while, your shoes can’t absorb shock as well as they used to. The average shock absorbing capacity of athletic shoes is reduced by 50%, after you’ve logged 300 hours in them, and goes down to 20% after you’ve worn them for 500 hours. So do the math on the “real age” of your shoes – and go shopping for new ones.
2. Ditch the high heels. I know fashion dictates that women wear these, and they do flatter our legs – but they are very harmful to our knees! In fact,