Here at Chorlton Personal Training we also offer a Sports Massage service.
Our Sports Massage service is very popular with the local Track and Field athletes at Trafford Athletics Club.
Bearing this in mind, it is worth noting that, as a general rule, athletes tend to have a hard core mentality when it comes to Sports Massage. That is, most athletes take the philosophy that the more painful the massage, the better.
So why is that belief so widespread?
Is it correct?
Should an effective Sports Massage be painful?
First off, it is worth pointing out that pain is certainly not the end goal. As a Sports Massage practitioner, it would be ridiculous for me to simply chase pain for pains sake.
The end goal is to effect a change in the athlete.
Now if the athlete is just a little tired, and carrying a little extra muscular tension at the end of a heavy block of training, then the change we are looking for is more of a return to the athletes normal state of "homeostasis". In this instance, a lighter massage that does not induce much pain may be just the ticket.
Lighter recovery massages may go hand in hand with other recovery modalities such as easy jogging, swimming, walking, cold water immersion or contrast bathing (to name just a few). Different athletes may find differing recovery modalities suit them best. So experiment here, and use whatever method makes you feel good.
However, if an athlete has knotted muscles, poor mobility and chronic tightness, then a more aggressive approach to sports massage may be required.
In particular, if we are dealing with chronic muscle tightness and we are trying to increase muscle length through sports massage and stretching, then we need to view these areas of athletic preparation in the same light as we would with any other type of physical training.
One of the key principles of fitness training is the principle of overload. In order to adhere to the principle of overload, you must subject your body to a stimulus that it is not accustomed to. Generally speaking, this means subjecting the body to a certain level of discomfort.
If you are looking to improve muscle length and flexibility, you need to adhere to the principle of overload in just the same way as you would if you were training for increased strength or muscle mass. This means your sports massage and stretching programme is probably going to be at a level of intensity that results in discomfort or even pain.
Now don't get me wrong. It is not necessary to be all macho about sports massage and induce as much pain as possible. But, a manageable level of pain or discomfort is actually a useful barometer so that the athlete and sports massage practitioner know that the pressure level is about right.
As the athletes muscular system adapts over time in response to sports massage, the same level of applied pressure (by the sports massage practitioner) will result in less discomfort. This decrease in discomfort or pain is a sign of adaptation. Just the same as when it feels easier for an athlete to complete a running route in a certain time. That is a sign of adaptation.
So a skilled Sports Massage Practitioner will gradually increase the applied pressure over time, and can use athlete feedback about pain and discomfort to ensure that the massage is at an appropriate level to continue providing an overload stimulus for that athlete.
Last week on Chorlton Personal Training, we looked at how to structure your training week, by discussing body part splits in relation to whole body workouts.
To find out how you should structure your week when training to build muscle mass, check out the previous Chorlton Personal Training article on Body Part Splits.
Having established how best to structure a training week; This brings along a brand new questions on how to achieve variety in your training programme.
Periodisation is fancy term to describe the planning of variety in your training programme. Periodisation is important, because, if you perform the same training routine day in, day out and week in, week out.... your body will soon become accustomed to your routine and your progress will grind to a halt.
But if we have established an ideal way to structure a training week... How do you adhere to that training structure whilst also getting that all important training variety?
Well, let us say that you had a read of the Chorlton Personal Training article on Body Part Splits. Let us also say that, given you currently train in the gym six days per week, you decide that the Push / Pull / Legs training split is the best way for you to structure your week.
This means you can train....
Two Upper Body Pushing Workouts per week
Two Upper Body Pulling Workouts per week
Two leg workouts per week
This already provides a reasonable amount of variety for a single training week. But to add more variety still, we could perform one push workout, one pull workout and one legs workout with heavy weights and a low number of repetitions per set (low volume). Then we could perform the second push / pull / legs workouts with light weights and high volume.
If you have read my article on muscle building principles. You will know that optimal zone for building muscle is not too heavy, and not too light.
With that in mind, you might be reluctant to split your workouts between sessions using heavy weights and ones using light weights, whilst ignoring that all important middle area!
The reason why the middle area is so effective for building muscle is because it provides a compromise between all the different mechanisms that contribute to building muscle.
Whilst that is great. If you go heavier, but with less volume, you can attack certain muscle building mechanisms harder. Likewise, if you go lighter, but with more volume, you can attack alternative muscle building mechanisms harder.
So, you might do well to have a six to eight week training block where your workouts are alternating between heavy, low volume sessions and light, high volume sessions. You would then switch things up, by sticking with those middle range weights for the following six to eight weeks.
That sounds like a win win scenario!
Of course there are lots of other ways you can get variety in your training programmes. You could vary exercise selection, exercise order and even exercise technique...
But we will leave a discussion on those factors until another time.
Until then, if you want to learn more about periodisation and exercise variety, please hit me up on the Chorlton Personal Training Contact Page.
Today on Chorlton Personal Training I want to talk about body part splits!
This question of whether to perform full body workouts or to focus on different muscle groups during different workouts (aka body part splits) is an eternal one in the world of lifting weights and building muscle. Here at Chorlton Personal Training we believe there is a place for both styles of training... and which one is best for you comes down to training experience and also how frequently you train.
Training frequency is a key factor.
I strongly believe that, for most people, training a body part or muscle group just once per week is insufficient when you are training for muscle size and mass. So if you are only getting to the gym two or three times per week, you need to make sure you are performing full body workouts each time you hit the gym.
What about the slightly more committed lifter who hits the gym four times per week?
For this individual, I would be likely to recommend a combination of split training and whole body training. But traditional body part splits are still unlikely to work for the four times per week gym goer.
Instead, for this type of lifter, here at Chorlton Personal Training, we would recommend a push / pull / legs split.
So on a Monday, you would be training pushing exercises such as Bench Press, Shoulder Press and Dips.
On a Tuesday, you would be training pulling exercises such as Pull Ups and Bent Over Rows.
On a Thursday, you would be working your legs with things like Squats, Lunges and Hip Thrusts.
Then on Saturday you would perform a whole body workout.
Splitting the first three workouts of the week into push / pull / legs means you can hit each of those areas harder, compared to a full body workout. Yet the addition of a full body workout on Saturday means you are still getting the frequency of training each body part twice per week.
For the lifter training five times per week. I would recommend the same approach of combining split training with whole body training. However, you can now afford to use a more traditional body part split.
Here's what your week might look like if training five days per week:
For the serious lifter that is training up to six times per week. I would recommend ditching the whole body workout completely, but going back to the push / pull / legs routine. This is because, at six training sessions per week, you will be able to move through this split twice each week.
So there's some food for though on how to structure your training week when training for muscle gains. Of course, there are more options than those outlined above, but I think this article is long enough for now.
Until next time!
My last article was titled Chorlton Personal Training on Supersets.
Supersets would be described by bodybuilders as an intensity technique. To learn exactly what they are and how you can use them, you should check out the supersets article.
For now lets take a look at some other intensity techniques that may be of value in your muscle building toolbox.
Simply put, intensity techniques are methods for making your sets harder.
We have already covered supersets in a previous article. But what other intensity techniques are out there?
1) Drop Sets
With drop sets, you perform a standard set of an exercise to failure. But as soon as you reach failure (the point at which you can no longer perform any more repetitions), you remove some of the weight. This enables you to crank out some additional repetitions on the same exercise without taking a rest.
A double drop set would involve reducing the weight a second time and then further cranking out some additional repetitions. For the brave, you could even try a triple drop set.
A triple drop set is likely to prove extremely painful...
2) Mechanical Drop Sets
With mechanical drop sets, once you reach failure, rather than reduce the weight, you perform the same exercise in a slightly different way in order to make it an easier version of the exercise. Once again, this allows you to carry on performing additional repetitions after the point of failure.
A good example of a mechanical drop set would be performing narrow grip bench press to the point of failure. Then widening the grip, to enable additional repetitions to be performed with wide(r) grip bench press.
3) Forced Repetitions
With forced repetitions, once again you would perform a standard set of an exercise to failure. However, this time, upon reaching failure, your personal trainer will help you to perform some additional repetitions by assisting with the lifting portion of each repetition.
It is important to have an experienced personal trainer that understands when and how to provide the type of assistance that will enable you to perform forced repetitions correctly.
So if you are unsure at all about how to implement some of these intensity techniques, and you want to take your muscle building to the next level, then please use the Chorlton Personal Training Contact form, and we can chat about how to build the type of body you desire.
In my previous article on high density training, I touched on using supersets in order to increase training density.
Today let's take a closer look at some of the different ways in which you can incorporate supersets into your training.
To recap on the previous article, a superset is when two exercises are performed in a row without stopping.
There are two main ways of performing supersets.
Firstly, we can use two consecutive exercises that involve the same muscle groups. This is what bodybuilders would call an intensity technique. Intensity techniques are used to train beyond failure. In other words, when you reach failure in the first exercise and you can no longer perform any more repetitions, you are still able to continue working the same muscle by immediately moving onto a second exercise. This is great for creating more muscle damage and more metabolic stress (two of the main precursors to muscle building).
The alternative way of performing supersets is to use antagonistic supersets. This means using two exercises that use opposing muscle groups. A classic example, and one which was heavily endorsed and used by Arnold Schwarzenegger, is the pairing up of back and chest exercises. This is less useful for inducing more muscle damage, since it does not provide an increase in training volume for any given muscle group. However, it is great for increasing metabolic stress, as the increase in training density is through the roof! This method of training potentially allows you to progress through a training session without taking any significant rest periods. This is because you are using non-competing exercise pairings. In other words, the back muscles are resting while you are working the chest muscles and vice versa.
As you might imagine, this second method of performing supersets is great for your fat loss goals in addition to being a wonderful tool in your muscle building armoury.
In my previous article on Muscle Building Principles, I wrote about the balance between using heavy loads and using high volume when training to build muscle.
In my latest article I specifically wrote about the potential of high volume training in helping you to achieve your muscle building goals.
However, there is another training variable that I have not yet mentioned. A training variable that can be manipulated to great effect in order to facilitate both your muscle building and fat loss objectives.
That variable is training density.
Your training density is the amount of work you are able to do in a given amount of time.
A simple way of increasing training density is by decreasing the recovery periods between sets.
So instead of five sets of five reps of back squats at 100kg with three minute recovery periods... we might progress by performing the same number of sets and reps, with the same weight but with two and a half minute recovery periods.
This is a great option to use when you feel like your progress has stagnated a little. Instead of fighting a losing battle with respect to increasing the amount of weight used or increasing the number of reps performed; keeping those variables the same for a while whilst reducing recovery periods instead could be just the tonic you are looking for.
There are numerous other ways in which we can increase training density as well. One example is to use supersets.
A superset is when two exercise are performed in a row without stopping. There several approaches to using supersets in order to increase training density.
We will leave a discussion on supersets for a separate article.
In my previous article I wrote about muscle building principles.
Specifically, I wrote about a muscle building sweet spot.
This muscle building sweet spot involves performing exercises with a weight that allows for between six and twelve exercises per set to be performed.
This provides a compromise between going heavy, to maximise mechanical tension, and going long, to maximise metabolic stress.
However, we also need variety in our programmes. So, sometimes, you will need to move away from this idea of compromise and go all out with heavy, low volume training or, alternatively, lighter, high volume training.
High volume training methods have traditionally been used with great success in order to pack on substantial amounts of muscle.
Probably the most famous high volume training method, that has been used with great success, is German Volume Training.
Here's the lowdown on German Volume Training...
For any given exercise, the aim is to complete 10 sets of 10 repetitions, with the same weight on each set. That weight should be 60% of your 1RM (that is, 60% of the heaviest load that you could lift for a single repetition). Furthermore, you will need to adhere to a strict recovery period of one minute between each set.
This will feel relatively easy at first. But as you approach the end of the protocol, it will become brutally tough. Don't be surprised if, during your first attempt at German Volume Training, you fail to complete all 10 repetitions for all 10 sets.
So is German Volume Training the most effective way of building lots of new muscle?
Is German Volume Training a time-tested, old school training method, that can be occasionally and intelligently incorporated into your workout programme?
If you would like to learn how to incorporate German Volume Training and other high volume training methods into your muscle building programme, please get in touch by using the Chorlton Personal Training Contact Page!