Quality Vs. Quantity

Geast Post Written By: Todd Fano

 We live in a society of excess. If one is good, two must be better and three must be the ultimate! This belief is rampant in the world of exercise. Just go to any gym, boot camp or practice field and you’re bound to hear the battle cry of “just one more”!  While I’m all for people pushing their limits, it has to be done in a logical and thoughtful manner.  99% of the time the person being told to do “just one more”, really can’t.  In fact, they probably couldn’t do the previous 20 reps!  We seem to have an attitude that all exercising must be painful to be worthwhile.

 As I mentioned before I’m all for people pushing themselves, but it has to be done intelligently.  Making someone who has just got off the couch for the first time in 20 years do a workout that consists of 100 push-ups and 100 squats with weight isn’t going to accomplish much except for crippling that person for the next several days. You have to remember this person doesn’t have the strength, coordination, or gas tank to finish such a workout.  In fact, a lot of damage could be done to this person. At the worst, they could injure themselves (especially if relatively heavy weights are used).   At the least they’ll begin to imprint poor movement patterns into their body.

 How do you avoid these problem? I t’s easy, focus on quality over quantity.  If you can’t do 5 perfect reps of any exercise, attempting to do 100 is pretty foolish.  This includes body weight exercises too. Some trainers and coaches justify their high rep programs by saying they’re getting their clients/ athletes used to the exercises.  Wrong!  All they’re getting their people used to is using sloppy technique.  This is just an inefficient use of training time.  If you’re going to do it, do it right and build from that foundation.

Here are some tips and pointers for ensuring you’re getting quality over quantity in your training.

  • Check your ego. Just because the guy next to you is using 200 lbs. for squats doesn’t mean you have to. Your time will come.

  • Take your time. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Just focus on consistent quality training and good things will happen.

  • Video tape or have someone watch your form...and be critical.  If your squat isn’t hitting parallel or your chest doesn’t touch the floor on a push-up, work on fixing that before adding more reps.

  • Choose a small number of exercises to master.  I would suggest that most beginners just stick to the 3 main body weight exercises: Squat, Push- up and a pull-up or variation. Mastering these 3 simple movements will take you further than any machine based program.

  • Last but not least, learn to “grease the groove”.  This a very effective yet simple plan for improving your technique.  You simply take 1 exercise that is troubling you and perform perfect reps of it throughout the day or as often as possible.  An example could be push-ups.  Just do as many perfect reps as possible during commercial breaks.  Remember that number and try to improve on it.  The key here is to never do things to absolute failure.  Once your form breaks stop the set.  This will ‘teach” the body how to perform perfect reps!

So, the next time you’re in the gym try to utilize some of these techniques and tips to improve the quality of your training.

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An Intro to Metabolic Training

What is Metabolic Training?

Metabolic Resistance Training (MRT) has recently gained mainstream popularity as a tool to increase fat loss. Technically, MRT includes any type of training that improves the efficiency of certain energy systems, which is just about any exercise.  More recently, MRT has been associated with training that uses challenging, compound (multi-joint) resistance exercises which train your large muscle groups, with short, but very important rest intervals.  This type of workout can be performed as a circuit, pairs or groups of exercises, or single full body exercises.

Metabolic Training does NOT:

  • Use single joint exercises (ex: seated bicep curls, leg extensions, triceps press downs)
  • Skip the rest between sets (if you are not resting, your body does not have time to recover to perform the next set at a high intensity)
  • Last much longer than an hour (if you are able to perform your workout for much longer than an hour, your intensity probably isn’t high enough)

Why use MRT?

The goal of metabolic training is to achieve the holy grail of training: build muscle and burn fat.  Through a well-designed and well executed MRT program, you can not only improve your body composition by building muscle and burning fat, increase your cardiovascular health, and improve your hormone profile.  Another benefit of MRT is that it’s efficient and you don’t have to waste precious time to get great results.  Also, even though it’s tough to admit while you’re in the middle of your third set of weighted burpees, MRT is fun!  For most people, performing a dynamic, full body workout is a lot more fun and engaging than sitting on your a** doing bicep curls.

How to create a MRT program:

There are countless ways of designing your MRT program and the best way is to talk to a qualified and experienced fitness professional.  The exercises used in MRT can use:

  • High intensity
  • Heavy weights
  • Compound (multi-joint) and full body exercises
  • Short (but valuable) rest periods
  • Alternating couplet sets, groups, circuits

Some indicators that you are performing a MRT workout:

  • You are breathing (very) heavy – you should be creating a great demand for oxygen for recovery
  • Increased heart rate – your heart should be pumping hard to get oxygen to your muscles
  • Your muscles burn
  • Your workout is relatively short – if you are performing your MRT workout correctly (high intensity), it shouldn’t last for 2 hours.  You should aim for a workout that lasts closer to 45 minutes (and you should be pretty exhausted by the end of it)

Visit our favorite online personal training website to see a sample MRT workout:

http://www.battleyourself.com/crash-course-metabolic-training/

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Product Review: Suspension Trainer

Suspension trainers are a versatile tool that can be used effectively in a gym/fitness centre, home, outdoors, hotel room or just about anywhere else.  They attach to bars, trees and even doors to allow you to perform a comprehensive and challenging full body workout with just your body weight.  The suspension also forces you to engage your core and improves your stability.  Athletes and beginners alike can benefit from using a suspension trainer since the percentage of body weight can be changed by adjusting body position.

Learn more about suspension trainers here.

The most popular suspension trainer is TRX's version.  Their suspension trainer used to be called the TRX; however, with an expanded product list it is now the TRX suspension trainer.  The actual product has evolved as well.  Over the years they have added markers which make it quicker to change strap position and a centre safety to ensure the strap doesn't slip to either side.  We've used the TRX for close to 8 years and First Step and have nothing but good things to say about their suspension trainer.  It's great tool that helps provide a great full body workout to users of all fitness backgrounds.  It's also portable, durable and easy to set up.  The only negative of the TRX suspension trainer is that at over $200 (not including the door anchor), it's quite pricey.

We tested out a few different suspension trainers that retail for a lower price than the TRX and our favourite was the Woss Trainer.  This product is quite comparable to the TRX suspension trainer with the only real thing missing being the centre buckle which limits sliding of the straps from side to side.  Woss Enterprises also neglected to include strap markers for easier strap adjustment, but we're not sure the TRX is worth the extra cost.  At at a starting retail (including door anchor) just over $35, we definitely recommend going with the Woss trainer if you're looking for something for personal use.  It's durable, has comfortable grips, adjustable straps and retails at less than a quarter of the price of the TRX.

Here's a video to help to you get started with your new suspension workout.



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Healthy and Tasty Recipes: Cauliflower Tater Tots

We're always looking for ways to make vegetables taste great, and Mrs. First Step really hit it out of the park with this recipe.   I highly recommend trying these cauliflower tater tots.  It's a big statement, but they might be better than regular tots!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cauliflower florets, cooked and finely chopped 

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1/3 cup onion, minced

  • 3 tbsp minced fresh parsley

  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated

  • 1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • cooking spray

Directions:

Cook the cauliflower florets: steam a little over 2 cups raw cauliflower florets in a little water covered for for 4 to 5 minutes or until tender but not mushy.  Then drain well and dry on paper towel and finely chop 2 cups. 

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Spray a nonstick cookie sheet with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Roll the mixture into 1 tablespoon, oval balls . Place on the cookie sheet and bake for 16-18 minutes, turning halfway through cooking until golden.

Leave us a comment and let us know what you think.

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Product Review: Kettlebells

Since mobile personal training and on-site group fitness classes are a big part of what we do at First Step, it is important for us to find equipment that is versatile and compact.  Kettlebells have both of these qualities and as a result, they are used regularly by everyone on our team. Used in a variety of methods, they can help develop power, upper and lower body strength, core stability and increase conditioning. 

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