Article

  • How to get moving back

    Take one step at a time

    People who get moving again after a rather long break risk starting too abruptly.
    An excessive intensity might interrupt the immediate activity. Additionally, people may risk losing motivation because the training is too tiring. There is also the danger of overloading oneself and having an accident or mental/physical stress.

     

    The secret is to start the right way. It all depends on your level of training, skills, characteristics, and abilities.

    Discover how to get back in shape with a home workout.

    Constant training, a healthy diet and a positive attitude are key elements for everyone, including women.

    Finally, here are some wellness tips

    Is your workout too intense?

    It is essential to be able to measure your own workouts. Often it can be difficult to determine whether a workout is tailor-made and appropriate for our abilities or not.

    Do you drink enough water?

    Drinking is absolutely necessary for your body's vital functions. In particular, as you increase your amount of physical activity it is important to also increase the amount of water you consume each day.
    If you are thirsty, you are probably dehydrated. Drink some water before you work out, and again after you finish. In the case of very intensive training, you may also wish to consume energy drinks. These help reintegrate water, salts, and minerals lost with sweat.

     

    Not enough time?

    Investing in your well-being is essential for any person. Of course, you will have to pull off a balancing act with your appointments, work, and family.

     

    30 minutes of movement can easily be fit in any time throughout the day. Take the stairs, walk to the store, go biking, etc. There really are many solutions.

    And the results will be increasingly evident for your body. Your motivation will increase and movement will become an integral part of your wellness lifestyle.Some Good Reasons to do Exercise:

    There are many benefits from physical activity: improvements of  physical fitness, strength, endurance, flexibility, and mood.

    We see in detail how to positively impact the physical activity on our body:

    - The cardiovascular system

    With a regular workout, heart efficiency improves, blood is pumped faster and with less effort.

    - The muscular and skeletal system

    By increasing the lean mass and bone density, muscles and bones become stronger, more flexible and resistant, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and loss of muscle tissue over the years.

     

    - Metabolism and body mass

    Exercise helps to burn fat and increases muscle mass.

    Since the muscles are metabolically active, you will burn more calories, you will lose body fat gradually and your body will look more toned and lean.

    What is the best training?

    The magic formula to get results quickly does not exist. You have to train yourself, and you have to do it right. A complete workout consists of cardio, strength and flexibility exercises.

    -Cardio:

    Running, walking, swim stimulate large muscle groups in rhythmic mode and with moderate intensity you can support even long periods of time (ideally at least 10-30 minutes consecutively). For example, a perfect cardio training can be performed by walking or running on MyRun.

     

    -Power:

    Workout using free weights, machines or exercising with free body or small tools.

    If you are a beginner before using weights, ask for help from a qualified trainer.

     

    - Flexibility:

    You can try yoga or do stretching exercises and get countless benefits: more mobile joints, muscle stretching, reduced risk of injury, and posture improvement.

    An example of training? Combine jogging on MyRun with countless strengths and flexibility exercises that can be carried out with the accessories of the Wellness Bag. You will be able to organize an optimal workout that alternates the cardio to the resistance using the elastic bands inside the bag

     

     

  • Detecting and preventing over-training

    Professional athletes often push themselves to the limit in order to achieve their goals. Training often at high intensities can lead to a decline in performance.

    However, a super-compensation effect occurs with the athlete showing a greater performance compared to base line when appropriate periods of recovery are provided. This is known as Functional Overreaching (FO).

    If this “intensified training” is prolonged in time, the decrease in performance will become stagnant and the athlete will not be able to recover for several weeks or even months. This condition is called Non Functional Overreaching (NFO) or Overtraining (OT).  When OT is ignored, it can degenerate into a chronic situation, the Overtraining Syndrome (OTS), it is not only characterized by a constant unexplainable underperformance, but is typically associated with chronic fatigue, poor sleep patterns, drop in motivation, episodes of depression, helplessness, increased sense of effort, etc.

    While recovering from a FO can take as little as a week, a complete recovery from OTS can require months or even years, and in some cases it could lead to cessation of a top sports career.

    If the only cause of the condition were the amount of exercise/training, the solution would be fairly simple. Unfortunately the term “syndrome” implies that the OTS is a multifactorial disorder!

     

    Other co-stressors/triggers such as issues with family, relationship, work, school, coach, financial problems, monotony of training, excessive expectations, altitude exposure, exercise heat-stress, ongoing infections, immune depression etc., are often present.

    The last two co-factors are particularly interesting. In fact infections and immune depression can be both a cause and an effect of OTS. Studies1,2 report upper respiratory tract infections due to increased training and it seems that exaggerated training could increase the duration of the so-called “immune-depression window” and the severity of the resulting outcome.It is clear at this point how difficult diagnosing and preventing OTS could be.

    If the symptoms above mentioned are observable, a systematic approach is necessary. First step would be to exclude any organic and endocrinological diseases and other factors such as dietary restrictions, insufficient carbohydrate and/or protein intake, iron deficiency, or allergies.

    If those are ruled out, the presence of training errors like sudden increases in volume and/or intensity, monotony of trainings, high number of competitions, end environmental stressor needs to be investigated. Additionally it is crucial at this stage looking for possible psychological and social confounding factors.

    Another possibility would be the conduction of some tests for the detection of FO, NFO and OTS. 3 different solutions could be:

    - Session Ratings of Perceived Exertion (sRPE) questionnaire, in which individuals subjectively estimate the overall difficulty of a workout session after its completion. sRPE has been shown3 to be a fairly useful tool for evaluating recovery across sessions;

    - Measurement of Recovery Heart Rate after a submaximal test under controlled conditions. The heart rate (HR) during a submaximal exercise at self-chosen intensity should be between 85 to 90% of the maxHR4. A change in HR recovery from test to test of more than 6 bpm or a change in HR during the test of more than 3 bpm could be caused by improved training status (if positive) or accumulated fatigue (if negative)4;

    - Maximal Exercise tests separated by 4 hours. A decrease in exercise time of at least 10% from one test to the other is significant5,6,7, but needs to be confirmed by specific changes in hormone concentrations such as the adrenocorticotropic hormone, prolactin (PRL) and GH6,7. In fact, in a FO stage, a less pronounced neuroendocrine response to the second exercise is found6, while in a NFO stage the response is extremely high7. With the same protocol it has been shown that athletes suffering from OTS have an extremely large increase in hormonal release in the first exercise, followed by a complete suppression in the second exercise6,7.

    In conclusion, while no single marker can be evaluated for preventing or predicting OTS, the consistent monitoring of subjective, performance, biochemical, immunological, physiological, and psychological variables (through tests, questionnaires, training diaries and direct observation) can be a valid strategy to identify those athletes/individuals who are at risk of developing NFO and OTS.

     

    REFERENCES

    1. Gleeson M. Immune function in sport and exercise. J Appl Physiol 1985; 103:693-699.

    2. Nieman DC. Immune response to heavy exertion. J Appl Physiol 1997; 82:1385-1394.
    3. Green JM, Yang Z, Laurent CM, Davis JK, Kerr K, Pritchett RC et al. Session RPE following interval and constant-resistance cycling in hot and cool environments. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2007; 39:2051-2057.
    4. Lamberts RP, Lambert MI. Day-to-day variation in heart rate at different levels of submaximal exertion: implications for monitoring training. J Strength Cond Res 2009; 23:1005-1010.
    5. Urhausen A, Gabriel H, Kindermann W. Impaired pituitary hormonal response to exhaustive exercise in overtrained endurance athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1998; 30:407-414.
    6. Meeusen R, Piacentini MF, Busschaert B, Buyse L, De Schutter G, Stray-Gundersen J. Hormonal responses in athletes: the use of a two bout exercise protocol to detect subtle differences in (over)training status. Eur J Appl Physiol 2004; 91:140-146.
    7. Meeusen R, Nederhof E, Buyse L, Roelands B, de Schutter G, Piacentini MF. Diagnosing overtraining in athletes using the two bout exercise protocol. Br J Sports Med 2010; 44:642-648.

  • Benefits of Base Training for Cyclists

    What is Base Training?

    With the expression ‘Base Training’ it is intended a training period, executed at the beginning of a periodized plan, where sessions are at a moderate intensity with an heart rates below 75% of the maximal one.

    Riding at this pace you are not overextending yourself, meaning that you can get up the next morning feeling great and fully recovered from the previous day. In short, cycling  at  ‘base training intensities’ you will be able to complete a large volume of training. In fact, base training done correctly will leave you feeling like you have made an effort that is well within your limits!

     

    However, be careful, this does not mean that you are not training!

    The advantages of Base Training

    As a matter of fact, Base Training has numerous advantages:

    • it stimulates your slow twitch muscle fibers and in turn makes them much more efficient enabling them to contract using less and less oxygen from the blood;
    • it teaches your body to conserve its glycogen stores within the muscles and vital organs;
    • base training trains your body to burn its larger stores of fat in preference to muscle glycogen. This can help you lose a considerable amount of weight that you may have gained during those months spent without training;
    • by training consistently for at least a month in this zone, it is likely that you will be able to extend your time to glycogen depletion;
    • blood vessels become larger and more flexible making it easier for the blood to flow;
    • to a certain extent, it also improves the angiogenesis (number and complexity of vascular capillaries transporting oxygen rich blood) and mitochondrial biogenesis within the muscles (number of energy producing mitochondria cells), resulting in a more efficient respiratory and muscular systems; thus allowing you to produce more power for the same level of work rate . However, it has to be noticed that greater results on both angiogenesis and mitochondrial biogenesis can be furtherly achieved by training at higher intensities.

    All of the above mentioned helps build your economy on the bike so that come the racing season you are able to ride for long distances with comparative ease.

  • Threshold test: why measure the anaerobic threshold?

    Running, cycling, triathlon, trail running: what do endurance sports have in common? Performance and fatigue. The Training methodology  in all of these sports are very similar and improvisation should be avoided. We need to evaluate the athlete’s capacities through specific tests in order to adjust training goals according to subjective characteristics. 

    What is anaerobic threshold?

    The anaerobic threshold is the level of exercise intensity at which lactic acid builds up in the body faster than it can be cleared away. For this reason, it is also sometimes called the lactate threshold or lactate turn point (LT) the point at which your muscles “tip” into an intensity which cannot be sustained for long.

    Why measure anaerobic threshold?

    It is essential to increase anaerobic threshold if you want to go faster for longer.

    You spend valuable time training with determination, passion and dedication but often do not obtain the expected results. You find your performance decreasing over time and often run out of energy during a race that was very important to you. Why?

    In endurance sports such as cycling, it is fundamental to know your individual threshold ‘numbers’ if you want sustainable performance improvement. You have to know what and when to ask to your body what is required so you can achieve the best results possible and still finish strong.

    Studies have proven that threshold test (or lactate test) is the most accurate way to obtain these important ‘numbers’. With this information and the correct structured training methodology you can create the most time effective, training efficient program to gain the most improvement.

    The evaluation (threshold | lactate test)

    The most precise and informative test that lets us fully comprehend our cardiovascular (aerobic) engine capacity and function is the threshold test through the analysis of blood lactate. Thanks to the accuracy of this evaluation the results allow for more specific ‘numbers’ to structure a personalized training plan according to specific goals and races entered.

    The test is designed to identify precisely the running speed or the cycling power to be used to set training intensities: low aerobic zone, high aerobic zone, anaerobic threshold. Taking this test, makes it possible to create a graph where heart rate and blood lactate are a function of speed (in running) and power (in cycling).

    The interpretation

    First, let’s say that there is not an “absolute and definitive interpretation” of the values achieved since they need to be analyzed according to the races we are going to do.

    To give some examples:  your body needs to be trained in different ways depending on your goal – a full marathon, a 10K race, a short or very long cycling event. Moreover, the data should be interpreted according to the level of the athlete: a good runner will run the half marathon at a speed that is close or even slightly higher than the threshold speed, whilst a beginner will choose a speed between low and high tempo.

    If during a running event speed is fairly constant, the situation is different when cycling, where a number of external conditions (road inclination, draft, wind) constantly requires differences in power expression. On a race with short climbs it will be possible to overcome the threshold power for a few minutes, whilst on longer races and long climbs it would be important not to go above threshold values to avoid getting into ‘trouble’ where you can’t sustain the duration.

    In fact, the concept of anaerobic threshold is related to type of metabolism activated by the body to produce energy: when intensities are below the threshold value energy is produced by a mixture of fat and sugar with an increasing contribution of the latest as the intensity increases. For that reason, it is clear that if you overestimate your capacities you can run out of energy and the consequence will be a sudden decrease of the performance.

    This occurrence is described as ‘hitting the wall’ that some marathon runners face at a certain point of their race (typically above 30 km) or the hunger crisis of a cyclists on long endurance races. No matter when, the sudden decrease of performance always has the same outcome: an intensity that is too high with a consequent depletion of glucidic storage. To avoid these risks, knowing your ‘numbers’ is fundamental to plan both your training and racing.

    Planning your training

    The lactate test defines your capacities and provides your coach with the precise information to design a proper personalised training plan.

    Let’s give some examples:  marathon runners or triathletes (1/2 Ironman or Ironman) should be trained to maximize fat utilization and to accumulate the least lactate as possible. Their performances in fact lasts some hours without significant changes in intensity. That’s why their sessions should be designed around low and medium tempo training with some progressions (fairly long) up to threshold.  This is the correct way to train muscles to use the aerobic metabolism.

    The training for a 10 km or for a 50Km event will be significantly different. For these competitions it will be important to train the capacity on maintaining thresholds or above thresholds values training at those intensities. These athletes, thanks to their different physiological make-up can produce a higher level of lactate

    The reference value of the anaerobic threshold (expressed in mmol) is absolutely subjective and need to be interpreted by an expert trainer. Normally, in athletes involved in long distance at a constant intensity the threshold is generally lower than 4 mmol, whilst in athletes competing for 60/90 min max or with constant intensity variation the values can be much higher.

    When should a threshold test should be done?

    Considering that the test provides indicators to design a personalised training program, it should be executed at least 2-3 months before competing in the races entered. During these months it will be possible to successfully compensate any lack of performance and to properly tweak the pre-competition phase. A fairly good athlete should repeat the evaluation every 3-4 months and adjust the training loads accordingly. The test should be taken in similar conditions, using the same protocol with adequate rest at least two days before.

    I can’t do the test with professional supervision. What can I do?

    Although it is ideal to do the tests in a controlled environment under the supervision of a professional that will subsequently analyze the results, this it is not accessible to everybody.However, there are other ways of conducting threshold tests with estimated values to analyze the relationship between power and heart rate – such as an incremental intensity test leading to exhaustion.

    In this case it is the Technogym Maximal Test available on the MyCycling app. The evaluation protocol, developed by the Technogym Scientific department provides a maximal ramp test designed which is designed on the athlete’s physiological characteristics. During the warm up phase an analysis of the heart rate is done and the increments in power that occurs every minute are chosen accordingly to get to the maximal effort within 15 to 20 minutes. Then an algorithm predicts the relevant values: heart rate, cadence and power at threshold. Subsequently a training program called Technogym Neuromuscular Training is generated.

    Cyclists, measure your power

    A final consideration devoted to cyclists is related to the use of the relevant data obtained from the test: heart rate, lactate and power thresholds. This data allocates your individual thresholds to corresponding training zones specifically for your capacity. Power is more reliable than heart rate which has a great deal of variability and can change on a regular basis.  It is extremely beneficial to train with a power measurement system to know exactly what watts you are producing while pedaling. This is the only scientific and precise way to use at the best the data obtained from the threshold test.

  • Are you looking to become a better Alpine Skier?

    Alpine Skiing is an exciting sport, but to be fast and to avoid common injuries you need to be physically prepared. If your goal is to hit the slopes in winter, you should consider some of the training tips found in this article.

    Alpine skiing performance can be enhanced through increased lower body strength, power, balance and agility, as well as core stability through a strong trunk. Fundamental exercises like squats and some single-leg exercises are the basics in your training agenda.

    Do not forget core strength which an essential pre-requisite for safe and effective sport performance.

    That’s why more and more competitive skiers are investing their summer time (the off-season) in the weights room to improve their performance.

    But what do you have to do? If you decide to add biceps curls in your program, you are getting a little off track , why?

    In fact, alpine skiing benefits most from increases in lower body strength, power, balance and agility, as well as core (abdominal and low-back) control. Basic exercises like squats and some single-leg exercises are likely your best decision. In addition, core strength is an essential component of sport performance.

    Here are 5 training tips for an effective session

    Warm up before lifting weights

    You can start with 5 to 10 minutes on a stationary bike or on a treadmill (foto run personal) and then perform some lighe resistance exercises like the dumbbell front squat (foto). Over time gradually increase the intensity (i.e., move from full squats to single-leg squat).

    Start with the basic movements to improve strength

    The key exercise to improve strength of the lower limbs is the squat. Be sure to execute perfectly the movement and start using a weight that you can lift between 12 and 15 times. Over time you can gradually increase with a load that you can lift 10 times for three sets.

    The second basic movement we suggest you is the dumbbell lunge (foto). With this exercise that has to be executed perfectly, you will improve knee and hip stability as well as optimizing trunk stabilization

    Challenge your core muscles

    Core muscle (abdominals and low-back) provide the fundamental support when executing a static contraction which is highly common in skiing performance. Maintaining specific positions 30 to 45 seconds is particularly effective. This is due to providing a structured and progressive overload in comparison to the average static duration per turn when skiing.

    Improve your dynamic stability with rotational movements

    When skiing force production is often expressed in a rotated position. That’s why is important to apply controlled rotational exercises with external load. Be sure to execute this movement with a well stabilized trunk movement.

     

     

    Improve Balance & Explosiveness at the same time

    To improve power you need to execute any given movement at a high velocity with a significant load. Be sure to perfectly execute the exercise in order to avoid injuries during training.

     

     

    However, do not forget that flexibility exercises aid in injury presention so be sure to carry out an effective cool down after every session.

  • Dealing with Stress Through Exercise

    In a continuously evolving and advancing society, in which everything seems to revolve around success, money and speed, stress is one of the risks of everyday life.

    The word “stress” has entered our common vocabulary; we’ve all used it at least once in our lives to describe a difficult, tense, worrying or anxious situation.

    We continuously face stressful situations on an everyday basis, relating to our jobs, our familiesA woman is stressed by workplace problems or our relationships. We never seem to have enough time for what we need to do, we have deadlines to meet, bills to pay, children to look after, and so it goes on. And the result? We forget to look after ourselves and can fall into a state of anxiety and stress, often with negative and dangerous consequences.

    Stress can often lead to loss of memory and concentration, muscle tension, insomnia, excessive weight gain or loss, nervousness, overtiredness during the day, apathy and premature ageing.

    Many of us tend to turn a blind eye to these problems, telling ourselves that “it’s just a phase and it will pass” or “I’m just a bit stressed, that’s all”. Of course, if you want to hide everything under the carpet and pretend that “it’s just a difficult time” or that “things are hard and that’s just how life is” you can do so, but it’s certainly not the best attitude and is neither useful nor constructive.

    Causes of stress and how to manage it

    In medicine, stress is any factor (physical, chemical, psychological, etc.) capable of exerting on the body, with its prolonged action, a stimulus that leads to a reaction. These reactions are mediated by the activation of the sympathetic nervous system and by the adrenal glands. Glucocorticoids, the main one being cortisol, or the stress hormone, are produced by the adrenal cortex. They promote the use of fat, protein catabolism, and therefore the destruction of muscle mass; they increase glucose emission from the liver into the bloodstream, suppress the release and activity of the growth hormone and perform an immunosuppressive action, reducing the effectiveness of the immune system.

    Effective methods to reduce stress

    Look out for physical signs are stress

    Your body is always sending you signals to tell you what you need. If you’re hungry, have a snack, don’t resist in spite of yourself; if you’re tired, have a rest; if you feel like letting off steam, call a friend; if you want to relax, go for a walk. In other words, try to do what your body tells you to. You’ll soon realise that at the end of the day you’ll be less fatigued and nervous.

    Exercise regularly

    Physical activity plays an essential role in dealing with psychological stress, reducing anxiety and the symptoms of mild depression, and therefore helps you to withstand physical stress.

    There are countless options to suit your needs. If you are tense, it’s also a good idea to perform a low-intensity activity, such as cycling or walking. These activities, performed for 30 minutes a day on a regular basis, help you to relax and lower your overall stress levels. You can, for example, use some innovative cardio equipment such as the Cross Personal oppure svolgere una sessione a bassa intensità camminando all’aperto e seguendo un programma su MYRUN TECHNOGYM.

     

    Activities with a higher level of intensity, on the other hand, are perfect for combating feelings of anger, frustration and powerlessness. They also help to improve your self-esteem and self-concept and you learn how to set objectives and achieve them. There will also be an increase in your levels of noradrenaline, the hormone produced by the adrenal medulla, associated with combating depression. While exercising, your plasma levels of noradrenaline increase and this helps to relieve the symptoms of depression.

    Training in a group, either in the gym or outdoors, is also an excellent way of sharing positive experiences, achieving results together, letting off steam and simply enjoying some time in the company of others.

    Sport increases the levels of endorphins in the brain. These chemicals, like morphine, have a narcotic effect which induces feelings of pleasure and wellbeing.

    Meditation and breathing techniques to combat stress

    Finally, for the best results, combine your physical activity with meditation or autogenic training techniques, where you concentrate on yourself through deep analysis of your body, passively analysing how you feel (e.g. heavy limbs, heat, breathing, regulating your heartbeat, etc.).

    It’s good to remember the saying “a sound mind is a sound body”, and that the two are strongly interlinked. You should therefore try to look after them both for a happy and active life.

  • Effective Slimming Tips for Women

    One of the main topics of conversation among women is slimming. “I’d like to slim down, I’d like to lose a few kilos, I feel bloated, I just have to get back in shape…” How many times do we hear or tell ourselves this? A lot. An awful lot. A woman holding a set of bathroom scalesMaybe too many times. But the results are more often than not disappointing. This is because we often rely on last-minute diets found online or recommended by a friend, or we simply do the wrong things without realising it because we’re ill informed.

    What does “slimming” really mean?

    Slimming is a highly complex physiological and psychological process and is essentially a question of striking a balance between our calorie intake and calorie consumption (the calories we burn/use).

    These two variables (calories consumed and burned) should be the same, although not everyone responds in the same way. Genetics  have a significant role in the differentiated outcome, as well as a series of other variables such as stress levels and hormones. However, on a physiological level, the key guidelines remain the same:

    • Take part in physical exercise to reduce body fat (adipose tissue) and increase lean body mass (muscle).
    • Eating properly, focusing on quality and the quantity of nutrients.

    Now let’s focus on the exercise factor, leaving the issue of diet to another article in the magazine.

    The golden rule for effective and sustainable weight loss is to burn fat without losing lean body mass. But how do you go about this? Let’s look in detail at the 3 key points that will help you achieve your goal.

    Strength training for weight loss

    The most common mistake is to join a gym and only perform aerobic activity for fear that exercising with weights “will make you too muscular, like a body builder”. Nothing could be further from the truth; in fact, how many times have you gone running, walking or cycling for hours without achieving the expected results?  The answer is very simple: to lose weight, you not only need to reduce your body fat, but also increase your lean body mass, which comes from combining aerobic exercise (which is still important) with muscle-strengthening exercise.Muscle is in fact metabolically more active than fat and require a higher amount of energy, even when resting.

    Devoting time to exercise

    It’s not true that you lose fat through low-intensity activity alone. Therefore the rule to follow, is to differentiate the intensity of training proportionally to the time you have available: if you don’t have much time you should train at a high intensity; otherwise, low-intensity training will also help you to achieve good results over a longer duration.

    Choose a physical activity that suits you

    There’s no point in making the effort to perform activities that you find boring or unsatisfying. For lasting results, your choice of activity is extremely important. If you practice a sport that you enjoy, then you will perform it better, be motivated to improve, work beyond your limits and improve your mood and self-esteem.

    There’s a wide range of activities that you can enjoy; there are group classes held in the gym, such as Group Cycle or OMNIA , outdoor sports or workouts that you can do by yourself in the weight room or at your convenience at home.

    Stress, sleep and weight loss

    Many women think that leading busy lives, with lots of activity, running around, is a valid solution for keeping fit. Well, we have some bad news for them. Stressing the body, lack of sleepsleep, skipping meals or eating them at different times are all ways that will inhibit weight loss or even worse have adverse results. As we all know, stress is not an ally of fitness. In addition to the problem of “cortisol”, the stress hormone that tends to cause bloating and, not getting enough sleep has a negative impact on your physical and mental balance. If we’re tired, we’re more likely to eat more, especially what we call “comfort food” (chocolate, sweets, etc.), or to smoke or drink alcohol to “relax”. So we need to devote the right amount of time to rest:  proper rest has major implications on our response to stress, on post-training recovery and on our hormone profile. For effective slimming, you must therefore also sleep well.

  • Tips & Toning Exercises for Women

    Finally, after all that dieting and hard work in the gym, you’ve lost those few extra kilos that you’ve always been meaning to shed. And yet, you’re still not satisfied with the results you can see in the mirror. Your figure isn’t how you imagined it would look. Your skin looks drained, feels untoned, and the contours of your body lack definition. So, what went wrong? And how can you rectify it?

    The fact is that after dieting and a training programme based solely on aerobic activity, your body loses its excess fat but unfortunately become less toned, a bit like a deflated balloon. So what’s the answer? You need to work on developing muscle definition with the right exercise selection. If you want a toned and defined body, there’s nothing else for it, you have to work on your muscles.

    Aerobic exercise and strength training for your muscles must always form part of a programme aimed at building body tone and definition. This is because slimming doesn’t only mean that you lose weight. The needle on the scales that shows how much weight you’ve lost doesn’t just relate to fat loss, but also sometimes to the loss of water and protein mass, ultimately muscle mass. And this happens when a low-calorie diet is not combined with the correct training programme or when the programme only consists of long-duration, low-intensity aerobic exercise.

    Diet tips for toning

    Contrary to what you might think, what you need to concentrate on is your lean body mass, rather than your body fat, as your metabolism is primarily linked to the latter. It’s your lean body mass that contributes most significantly to your calorie consumption, rather than body fat.

    So, for a toned body you need to eat healthily, certainly do some aerobic activity, which has numerous positive effects on the cardiovascular system and your overall health, but don’t forget to do some strength training to work on your muscles.

    So what should you do? You can train on alternate days, with aerobic activities on some days and strength training on others, or you can combine the two types of training in the same session.

    Here are some simple guidelines for getting the best out of your toning sessions.

    Toning exercises

    Don’t focus on working on your small muscles (e.g. your triceps or adductors), but choose exercises that involve several muscles at the same time by performing basic movements such as:

    - Pressing

    - Pulling

    - Squats

    Exercises to do at home or in the gym

    Many people would not think of going to the gym, but science tells us that muscles develop better if they’re subjected to a certain load, for a certain amount of time, with certain exercises, and the gym is the ideal place in which to find the appropriate equipment and expertise.

    But if it’s impossible for you to go to a fitness/wellness centre, don’t worry; you can also achieve the same results at home.

    If being part of a group would help motivate you, try joining some classes offering a combination of high-intensity aerobic and strength training. The enthusiasm of a group will help you to work to an intensity that’s harder to maintain by yourself.

  • What is HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)?

    HIIT: Technogym highlights its risks and benefits

    The constantly rising popularity of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), involves the execution of one or more exercises at high intensity with rest intervals between each exercise (with the duration of the intervals depending on the intensity of the previous exercise). The resting period can also vary depending on the individual's ability to recover, thus allowing them to perform the next active interval at an optimal standard.

    To  highlight pros and cons of this methodology, Technogym organized the ‘HIIT Congress’ which invited; Prof. Silvano Zanuso - Technogym’s scientific communication & research Manager – Antonio Paoli, (Associate Professor of Physiology in Padua), Adam Lewis (Researcher at the Solent University) and Andrea Biscarini (Associate Professor in Biomechanics at the University of Perugia).

    We asked Prof. Zanuso to answer a few questions.

    What is HIIT?

    A HIIT program can be constituted either by aerobic exercises, such as running or cycling, or by strength exercises, which naturally requires recovery a period between exercises. It is clear, however, that both aerobic and strength exercises can be combined together to create a multitude of different training schemes.

    Within these programs, the High Intensity workouts can last from a few seconds (e.g. the strength training) up to several minutes (e.g. the aerobic training), with the aim to reach 80%-95% of maximum heart rate when performing cardiovascular exercises. When performing strength based exercises the load can be very close to the maximum (1RM), or to a slightly smaller percentage of that. In this last case, it is necessary to increase the number of repetitions in order to achieve muscular exhaustion.

    The workout, typically consists of alternating periods of rest and activity, for a total duration of 20-60 minutes.

    Another method is to replace the rest period with another exercise, creating a training session of extreme intensities, with a much shorter duration than traditional training sessions.  In this case the second ‘I’, meaning  Interval, should be removed thus creating the HIT acronym (high intensity training).

    How can we define Why are HIIT and HIT programs so popular?

    There are three main reasons:

    1. The duration is much shorter than traditional training workouts.
    2. Energy expenditure is higher than a traditional workout per time unit. This has a further metabolic effect on the post workout caloric expenditure, called EPOC (Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption). This is identified as an additional energy requirement from the body to recover from a workout, back to a pre-workout state. After a HIIT program, EPOC is generally higher in comparison to traditional workouts for the first two hours post exercise.
    3. This training is often executed in fitness classes, and group training interaction. The constant switch between aerobic and anaerobic exercises are perceived as being more engaging and exciting.

    What are the risks of HIIT training programs?

    High intensity training can bare serious risks if poorly managed. These risks belong to the cardiovascular and osteoarticular domain. People with hypertension or with a history of coronary ischemia should pay much more attention.  The high number of repetitions and the high velocity of execution, could additioanlly determine the onset of joint and tendon problems within the Muscle-Skeletal system.

    in order to perform HIIT and HIT programs efficiently, high level of technical skills are required (e.g. Squats or deadlift). This means that these exercises are limited to people with good coordination skills and motor control.

    To conclude:

    HIIT is not a completely innovative training methodology. However, the essence that stands behind this method should be understood. The approrpriate metabolic intensity should be considered for each individual, respecting  the ability  to execute  the exercise correctly form a technical and coordinative perspective.

  • Recovering from the Christmas Holidays

    During the Christmas period, most people put their training on hold. In this period strength, flexibility and aerobic performance are at risk of regressing and it’s common to see an increase in body weight caused by the typical abundance of food and a lack of physical activity. With this considered we have looked into the best methods of getting back into shape and eliminating some false certainties.

    Firstly, don’t “stop eating!” significantly decreasing your food intake can have detrimental effects, due to the fact that it can stimulate a muscular loss. Secondly, avoid excessive aerobic based training. Running for multiple hours isn’t necessarily the best method to reduce body weight, the more time you spend on cardiovascular equipment the less time you have available to perform resistance based exercises. Resistance training has been demonstrated to be more effective in calorific expenditure and improving definition, therefore more appropriate to regain your pre-Christmas figure. Of course some cardiovascular exercises will aid in the process of calorific expenditure however it is most effective when combined with resistance training. Moreover, following a long break from training it is important to initially regress the workout and then gradually increase the workload. This will allow you to effectively adapt to the stressors of exercise and reduce the risk of over training or injury. It is suggested to re-evaluate your abilities, finding a new 1 repetition max (RM) for the exercises you perform and develop a plan specific to your goals from these new results. It is also important to remember that physical activity and nutrition are associated with each other for optimal benefits, therefore you should pay attention to your carbohydrate and fat consumption ensuring they are balanced in addition to increasing your fruit and vegetables intake.

    Don’t forget flexibility! Flexibility can easily deteriorate if untrained for even a short period of time such as a week. Dynamic stretching prior to starting a workout is fundamental to reduce the risk of injury in addition to static stretching when the workout is complete.

    In conclusion, to get back into shape following the Christmas break, extreme dieting or too much exercise will only cause you more problems, such as injuries or illness. On the contrary, you have to initially regress your workout and gradually increase the workout intensity and volume, combined with an appropriated diet.

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