CYCLING AND ANTERIOR PELVIC TILT (APT)
I’m pleased to announce cycling enthusiast Nick, December 2019 personal training client of the month after 3 months of strength training to correct anterior pelvic tilt.
Nick has had back issues which is a common theme among many cyclists and anyone who sits down for long periods each day.
Nick was diagnosed with Anterior Pelvic Tilt (APT). This was causing him back pain during training rides and was negatively impacting everyday life.
APT is a change in posture that happens when the front of the pelvis rotates forward and the back of the pelvis rises. As a result, the shape of the spine is altered.
Nick contacted me in October to discuss how to help him improve his posture, increase strength and enjoy pain-free cycling again.
APT is often caused by shortening of the hip flexors (iliopsoas) which are found connecting the top of the thigh bone (femur) to the ilium. These group of muscles act to lift the knee and bring the thigh towards the abdomen.
Strong glutes are essential for pelvic alignment. Strong hamstrings help you to run, walk and jump and assist the glutes. However, as the quads and hip flexors are the prominent muscles used in cycling, the body becomes unbalanced. A strength and conditioning programme is essential to keep the body correctly aligned.
Nick’s first training session took place in mid October. The programme focussed on the glutes, hamstrings and lower back. This coincided with a plan to increase flexibility in the hip flexors and quadriceps plus improve posture and mobility in the thoracic region of the back.
Nick possesses a high level of cardiovascular fitness from many years of cycling around Bath and Somerset plus previously rowing in London. The plan was for Nick to continue his fitness regime on the bike and to concentrate solely on the weight training in the gym through personal training sessions.
Nick started his personal training strength sessions at Stanza Fitness in Bath by initially using his bodyweight as resistance.
Exercises included bodyweight squats. At first, Nick struggled to perform a squat without excessive lumbar flexion (over flexing from the hips) due to tightness in the hip flexors. A common issue with anterior pelvic tilt.
The programme also included core exercises such as planks, lunges to strengthen glutes and hamstrings, side lunges for abductor (inner thigh) strength, bridges to target glutes, press-ups and supine rows for upper body strength.
These exercises were designed to strengthen weak areas and promote mobility. This is a prerequisite for resistance weight lifting, the natural progression from bodyweight exercises.
COMPOUND WEIGHT TRAINING
Compound weight training is described as exercises that work multiple groups at the same time.
After a couple of weeks, Nick progressed to compound lifts where we added weight plates to movements such as squatting, pressing, pulling and lunging. Nick’s strength increased weekly during each personal training session and his posture improved.
The anterior pelvic tilt which was causing him daily pain was no longer noticeable.
The big 5 lifts introduced were barbell back squats, trapbar deadlift, barbell bench press, dumbbell rows and dumbbell push press. The exercises, sets and reps frequently changed to encourage progression.
In addition to the weekly personal training session, Nick managed to add in an extra weight session in his local gym.
A good progression to the personal training programme was barbell hip thrusts which is a great exercise to develop glutes and hamstrings. This exercise supports back squats, deadlifts and any form of plyometrics or sprinting. In addition, it strengthens the lower back and together with back extensions, these exercises help to prevent injury and encourage good posture.
An added progression to the personal training programme is incline and decline dumbbell and barbell bench press. Flat barbell bench press concentrates on one area of the chest. By adding incline and decline movements, we targeted different parts of the chest (pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, serrates anterior and subclavius) and strengthened the shoulder joint.
Olympic lifts will shortly be added to the personal training sessions as Nick develops his technique. The clean and press is a great compound movement recruiting many parts of the body and developing functional fitness levels.
In addition, parallel dips will be added to develop upper body strength. Initially, resistance bands will be used to assist the movement.
A big goal for Nick is to be able to perform pull-ups. Pull-ups are one of the best ways to develop back strength and improve functional fitness levels. They will also improve grip strength which is vital to a full range of compound lifts.
The core is directly involved in producing power through the movement and the pelvic floor muscles are also strengthened with compound lifts.
Crunches are not a great exercise for a cyclist.
Crunches performed badly involve spinal flexion which is rounding of the lower back to allow you to bend forward at the waist. This movement exaggerates issues related to sitting and cycling.
In addition, crunches can contribute to herniated discs. This is due to repeated flexion of the spine which can cause compression of your spinal discs, causing them to bulge and press on nerves. Rapid compression and decompression degenerates the fibrous outer walls of your discs, causing them to herniate over time.
As a result, Nick is focussing on planks, side planks, wood chops, core presses and back extensions.
Foam rolling works by acting as a self-myofascial (SMR) release on the targeted muscles by eliminating adhesions in the muscles and connective tissue. In addition, foam rolling increases blood flow to the muscles and creates better mobility and reduces inflammation. Unlike static stretching, foam rolling can be added to the workout as a warm-up, cool-down or included into a recovery day.
Essentially, foam rolling allows the muscles to increase their range of motion by reducing the fascial resistance that will inhibit the movement, For example, by foam rolling the quadriceps, Nick’s hips will have a better range of motion. This will help him to perform some of the compound movements producing greater results from the workout.
THE JOURNEY CONTINUES – SKIING AND RACING!
Nick’s improvements have been achieved with speed. His thoracic posture is better. The APT has been corrected and he continues to improve his strength.
So what next……..
Good posture, a strong core, better flexibility, improved mobility and greater strength. This will enable Nick to continue cycling faster and pain-free up the big hills around Bath. And by enjoying pain-free cycling, his fitness levels will increase as training frequency improves.
Nick is now at a stage where he can focus on a particular goal or race in mind. This will involve periodising his fitness and strength programme to have a strong performance at an event.
Nick will be enjoying some skiing this winter in the Alps. Knee and BOSU exercises to increase balance and proprioception are to be programmed in for the next few weeks. As well as targeting knee strength and stability, exercises have been created to increase ankle support and calf strength.
Nick has focussed on strengthening the body to enable him to continue cycling and enjoying life. He is an inspiration to many with his tenacity, dedication and drive. I’ve no doubt he will continue to improve on the bike, in the gym and on piste.
Well done Nick and enjoy the après-ski.
PERSONAL TRAINING LIGHTWEIGHT WOMEN MASTER ROWERS
Mel & Ching, 2 lightweight rowers from Minerva Bath Rowing Club contacted me in September to help with them with personal training and fitness. A plan to increase strength, prevent injuries and row faster was created.
Rowing is a sport with which I have a long history. Awareness of the potential injuries from ignoring a good strength and conditioning phase within a programme is an area that a good personal trainer will resolve. This is to ensure top fitness levels are achieved.
Sports like rowing are fantastic to participate in. However, like most repetitive sports, issues with over-worked muscles can inhibit mobility, cause injury and resulting in poor performances. Injury causes low fitness levels resulting in poor rowing performances.
So, after having had a chat with Mel and Ching about their goals, a strength and conditioning fitness programme was planned.
The plan will enable Mel and Ching to train with greater mobility, flexibility and stability. This will improve technique and increase boat speed (not to mention the aesthetic benefits from lifting).
After all, hiring a good personal trainer will promote good health, well-being, fitness, strength and confidence.
Mel and Ching’s goal is to peak in July. With that in mind, I counted back block periods of rowing and fitness training to periodise aspects of strength and conditioning within the personal training programme.
The first phase is focussed on hypertrophy.
For the past 10 weeks, Mel and Ching have been lifting to increase muscle mass and endurance fitness.
Weight management is an important factor for lightweight rowers. They have to be on weight for races. So diet is crucial for anyone involved in lightweight rowing.
However, care has to be taken that fitness and recovery levels are not affected by poor nutrition.
By eliminating high sugar foods and following a healthy manageable eating plan, weight management is controlled during the hypertrophy phase thus promoting strength and fitness.
Also, the extra hours of aerobic fitness training help to manage weight (a refocus on eating habits is advised when the weighing scales have been unkind!)
In the new year, Mel and Ching will transfer into a phase of strength and then into power training as they move closer to the goal.
DIET FOR ROWERS
I have asked Mel and Ching to focus on diet with the concentration of macronutrients on protein to enable physiological adaptations and recovery.
Organic foods such as wild fish, beef, pork, poultry and game have been introduced into the diet.
Dairy alternatives such as coconut yoghurt have been included containing excellent sources of probiotics.
Carbohydrates are focussed on rice, gluten free porridge and vegetables. No wheat foods.
Vegetables contain high levels of nitrates which play an important role in muscle efficiency and regulating blood pressure.
The nitric oxide from vegetables and fruits regulates vasodilation, relaxing blood vessels and improving blood flow, which allows more oxygen to reach the muscles.
Arugula and beetroot juice are excellent sources of healthy nitrates. Rhubarb and green leafy vegetables also have high nitrate content levels.
Healthy fats are prioritised with the emphasis being placed on consuming Omega 3 fats found in fish, flax seeds, chia seeds, eggs, walnuts and avocados.
Omega 3 fatty acids are used to lower blood pressure, slow down the development of plaque in the arteries, help fight depression, improve eye and brain health and lower triglycerides.
In addition, Omega 3 fatty acids raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation in the body, reduce metabolic syndrome, reduce risks of autoimmune diseases and may prevent some cancers.
Omega 3 fatty acids may also reduce fat in the liver, improve bone and joint health, improve sleep and can alleviate menstrual pain.
MEL AND CHING STRENGTH AND MOBILITY GAINS IN 10 WEEKS
Mel and Ching are both incredibly focussed people. And they are mentally strong and very competitive. Interestingly enough, this doesn’t make my job any easier.
When training any athlete, recovery is vital. The majority of athletes train too hard. They often ignore pains, illnesses and injuries and exercise through pain and sickness, much to the detriment of their health.
The body needs to return to homeostasis before you exercise again. I am not a believer in over-reaching training as this sits too closely to over-training resulting in chronic fatigue illnesses which can last weeks, months and sometimes years.
However, with Mel and Ching, they are focussed on smart training after years of hard intense workouts. We have a couple of tools to monitor whether they are ready to train hard again. Namely, resting heart rate and heart rate variability.
Ching, who has a lack of movement in her shoulder due to an accident resulting in an operation has increased her range of movement in the area. In addition, she has increased her strength in all the lifts including bench press which she was originally unable to perform.
Mel has improved her strength in all lifts. Notably, lifting her body weight on the deadlift and lifting over half her bodyweight on the bench press.
Both Mel and Ching’s physiques are changing with the development of core, glutes, hamstrings and mobility in the hips and shoulders.
As a result, their rowing techniques have improved and an additional increase in stroke power on the rowing machine.
And they’ve only really just started on this journey!
After Christmas, there will be a couple of weeks of continued lifting in the hypertrophy phase before the programme moves from hypertrophy to strength training.
Also, there will be an increase in rowing fitness and personal training sessions to ensure goals are being achieved.
Unfortunately, Mel and Ching are unable to train together for the next 2 months but are continuing the programme and training separately. They will be regularly communicating with each other and comparing results.
Mel and Ching’s programme will be changed to rowing specific endurance training after Christmas.
For now though, coaching the rowers and seeing the positive results has led me to champion them both as the November clients of the month.
Well done Mel and Ching and we are all looking forward to watching you win a bag of medals in the summer.
FROM A BMI OF 30 TO 20 IN 6 MONTHS!
Sam has had an issue with her weight for as long as she can remember. Although very fit and strong, her weight has always led her to believe that she was unable to lose weight, no matter what diets she tried.
For the past 9 months, I have coached Sam and directed her onto the right pathway with her exercise, sleep and eating habits.
The results have been outstanding and as a result, with a reduction of 10 on her BMI, Sam is the October client of the month.
GUT HEALTH & WHOLE GRAINS
The immediate action was to eliminate foods that were causing issues with Sam’s gut health. As a result, wheat was omitted from the diet.
Wheat has been associated with gut permeability due to the peptides in gluten, namely gliadin, which causes a variety of health issues. In addition, wheat has a high glycemic index rating which is bad news for maintaining a healthy weight.
Sam’s diet consisted of a high percentage of whole grains including wheat. As she ate lots of whole grain carbohydrates and exercised, she was demoralised and disillusioned as her weight steadily increased over the years believing that her diet was good.
After 1 week of going wheat free and reducing her intake of other grains, Sam’s body weight started to reduce. In addition, her energy levels increased and she no longer had bloating or stomach pains after eating. There was no mention of calorie restrictions.
Additional organic protein and healthy fats were added to her diet. Sam consumed small portions of brown and wild rice and gluten free porridge for her macronutrient allowance of carbohydrates plus increasing her intake of fresh organic vegetables.
Sam is a Pescatarian which helps with the protein intake. Consideration was given to limit the days of fish consumed due to heavy metal toxicity found in large wild fish. I introduced supplements to help her obtain enough Omega 3 fatty acids to ensure good health.
The elimination of wheat was extended to all gluten free wheat products.
Sam’s fitness regime was revamped. Her programme was unbalanced and heavily influenced by long cardio workouts. These long workouts consumed large amounts of time during the week, making her tired and finding exercise stressful to fit in.
We introduced some resistance training plus high intensity interval workouts with boxing and tabata training. This helped to stimulate her body to build muscle, use up excess fat stores and create a positive training mindset where there was a new workout every time she trained. Sam did revisit some of the workouts to test her fitness and strength levels. This was to show progression and encouraged her to persevere with the programme.
Next area of development was to ensure that Sam structured her day of eating and sleeping.
Firstly, Sam started intermittent fasting. She began with a 12 hour fast and she built up to 14 hours over the course of 2 months. Sam currently fasts daily between 14 and 16 hours.
There are many reasons why fasting is good for your health. Fasting allows your digestive system a rest. The body undergoes stress when digesting food and extracting the nutrients. This causes oxidation and free radical damage and unnecessary prolonged periods of eating raises insulin levels in the blood. As a result, fasting may help with the prevention of Type 2 Diabetes. It also means you consume fewer calories through the day enabling a calorie reduction. Intermittent Fasting has shown to reduce inflammation in the body. It improves metabolic features that develops brain health. It may also help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease and extend your life span.
I also looked at Sam’s sleeping patterns which had been erratic for as long as she could remember. I introduced some guidelines to help her sleep. As well as intermittent fasting, her last intake of food and drink was to be consumed by 8pm every night. Sam was asked to go to bed at a similar time and not to consume any caffeinated drinks after 1pm including dark chocolate.
All lights were to be dimmed in the evening with no overhead lighting and to have a bedroom free of phones, tablets, tv’s and computers.
Wifi was to be switched off at night to reduce any possible EMF effect on her sleep.
Sam now wakes up in the morning feeling refreshed. She has more energy throughout the day and is able to be more active and productive.
Currently, Sam has no immediate goal. She is happy settling into her new healthy lifestyle which has seen her drop 25kgs in 6 months and enjoy her workouts.
Sam mainly exercises outside. She enjoys cycling and roller blading but has recently joined a local gym to develop her strength. The classes she attends are continue to keep her motivated and is currently considering a 10k fun run next September having never ran in her adulthood.
The only downside to Sam’s fun run idea is that I have agreed to run alongside for the duration.
Best get my running shoes out of the garage!
Well done Sam.
SUNSHINE WHILST THE CATS (CLIENTS) ARE AWAY
Majorca and yours truly has been the surprise winner of the September client of the month! I know this sounds crazy, but the vast majority of my clients have been away in September so I decided to book a quick getaway for some last minute sunshine rays of vitamin D before the English winter settles in.
And beautiful Majorca did not disappoint. Glorious sunshine, warmth, food and lovely friendly people. I do love this Spanish island.
A long way from personal training at Stanza Fitness in Bath, taking a break enabled me to recharge my batteries, read a great book – The Wheat Belly , soak up sun rays and have a well-earned rest from exercise.
THE IMPORTANCE OF A BREAK
I’m a great believer in rest several times a year from scheduled training. Why?
Well, the body needs to recover from the daily grind of hard sessions at the gym. Some years ago, I read an article about the top bodybuilders having a week off training every 10 weeks of intense exercise. And I have to say that for mind, soul and body, I agree. You feel great after a break and I’m always itching to get back and train having been invigorated from a rest.
So what happens when you go on holiday and take a break without the pressures of everyday life.
HEAL THE HEART
Wear and tear of years of heavy-duty workouts, especially those long endurance sessions can weaken heart muscles predisposing you to ventricular arrhythmia.
Endurance athletes such as rowers, cyclists and runners can show signs of fibrosis (scarring) of heart tissue which can weaken heart muscles causing the heart to beat erratically. This is likely due to the damage of the right chamber of the heart.
And avoiding excessive exercise is one way to fix this issue.
But that’s difficult if you compete. So ensuring you engage in good warm-ups, cool-downs and do not add excessive volume to numerous high intensity workouts will help your heart. And do include recovery days and recovery weeks.
Many athletes and gym goers spend lots of time engaging in excessive carbohydrate laden foods which play havoc with the body’s insulin levels. Filling up with sugary foods pre workout and then hitting the energy bars, gels, drinks, pizzas, pastas, muffins, bread and all in the belief that you’ve earned it. WRONG!
Unfortunately, you will respond by producing higher levels of insulin from the pancreas to help the high blood sugar in the body (glucose) find its way into the muscles. Any excess blood sugar gets stored in the fatty tissue around the belly.
So on holiday, I aim for those good healthy fats from the Mediterranean such as cheeses, oily fish, olives, olive oil, nuts, fresh organic locally sourced vegetables and avocados. Staying way from carbohydrates is easy as there is no need for them when I’m not exercising.
My pancreas and digestive system now have a chance to rest.
Oh and the red wine but that’s another story!
Exercise can increase production of free radical damage in the body. This happens when oxygen is used to convert energy into ATP for muscle contractions. The enhanced free radical oxidisation causes oxidative damage to muscles and other tissues. Intense and high volume exercise can cause significant free radical damage. That is why rest and diet is so important.
Continuation of oxidative stress from free radicals damages cellular proteins, membranes and genes and leads to chronic systemic inflammation.
So resting and allowing the body to have a break from free radical damage is vitally important for health. In addition, increase your anti-oxidant foods such as berries, nuts and dark leafy greens. Indulge in these foods.
The adrenal glands produce cortisol, norepinephrine and DHEA hormones which allow your body to adapt to stressful situations.
If the body becomes too stressed, the adrenal glands can become exhausted and the hormones they produce become depleted. This results in serious deficiencies such as testosterone deficiencies in men and oestrogen dominance in women. These deficiencies are linked to sleepless nights, low libido, illness and overtraining.
Excessive wear and tear is caused by excessive exercise. I certainly don’t want a knee or hip replacement.
Avoiding exercising in one plane of motion is easy unless you are a competitive runner, cyclist, rower or swimmer. So mixing up your training by doing other activities and ensuring adequate rest periods throughout the year is vital to the heath of your body. And a good diet.
It’s time to stop being selfish with exercise and spend time with the ones you love and care for.
Give them 100% of your time. We can all become obsessive with our training. Wanting to get that extra session in at the cost of spending some quality time with your family and loved ones.
And by resting when you’re on holiday, you will refresh your mind, body, soul and relationships. There’s nothing better than spending that gym time guilt free with your special person or/and family and friends.
A healthy relationship has so many positive effects on a healthy body so spend time going for walks, swimming and playing in the sea. Eat together without the tv, computer or phone distracting your positive energy.
SO EXERCISE BUT REST TOO
A lifetime of physical activity is very important to your physical and mental health.
However, overdoing it and not planning in rest weeks after 2-3 months is a mistake and one that can have a negative impact on your life.
I finished my holiday, refreshed physically, mentally and emotionally ready for the onslaught of the next 3 months at the British Indoor Rowing Champs in London in December. It’s going to get hard. The training will be intense. There will be some long and hard sessions.
There will be tiredness.
However, I have scheduled a mini break half way through the training block with a trip down to Cornwall and then a week off straight after the race to rest and recuperate.
Life is good, as long as it’s balanced.