To this day, we still hear certain squat rules echoed over and over throughout gyms and health clubs by many fitness professionals that often sound contradictory. While some rules emerged through research, the origins of others may lie in folklore and myth. The squat is one such example where we hear an endless list of cues: keep the knees behind the toes, align your knees over your second toe, open your stance, keep your head up, and many more. Which do we trust as evidence-based and which present as more myth than fact?
The average Briton consumes up to 8000 mg of sodium each day! An amount far in excess of the tolerable upper level (UL*) intake recommended by most health organisations. Too much salt in the diet can raise blood pressure which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. A reduction in average salt intake from 8g to 6g per day is estimated to prevent over 8000 premature deaths each year and save the NHS over £570million annually.
Partner up and have some fitness fun with family and friends by trying out this 10 x 10 circuit workout which can be completed by just about everyone.
Neuroplasticity was a relatively unknown term until the 1970s when scientists began accepting the notion that our brain is a not a physiologically static organ, becoming fixed shortly after birth with approximately 100 billion neurons (nerve cells) (1, 2). Over the past 15 to 20 years, this field of study has expanded dramatically given the discovery of various compounds capable of changing both brain structure and function throughout life and how each is positively impacted by exercise, physical activity and even mental exercises (3, 4).
Foam rolling is a self-myofascial release (SMR) stretching technique that has been embraced throughout the fitness industry. This effective and simple to do technique delivers positive, feel good results. Foam rollers have become easily accessible, either shared at the gym or found in almost any sporting goods aisle to bring home for a minimal investment. Regularly foam rolling can deliver improvements in flexibility, muscle recovery, movement efficiency, inhibiting overactive muscles, and pain reduction.
Which is better, the front squat or the back squat? The answer to this ongoing debate depends heavily on the client.
Can caffeine boost sports performance? Research shows that caffeine is ergogenic—it targets the brain and nervous system to resist fatigue during a workout to increase performance. The key is using it correctly and not overdoing it, which can lead to jitters, anxiety, a racing heart, and trouble sleeping at night.
Before we can begin to answer the question of how much activity is enough, we need to consider what fitness means. Fitness is synonymous with health, our physical condition and even our ability to complete the tasks required for our ongoing survival (and perpetuation of the species). Our modernised society has overwhelmingly reduced the tasks and activities we need to accomplish to survive, but the general lack of movement has negatively impacted our health and physical condition. Regular physical activity, even in small amounts, can help prevent, treat, and sometimes even alleviate some of the most common chronic conditions we encounter, including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stroke, obesity, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, depression, and some cancers (1,2).
The Atkins diet made headlines in November 2002 when researchers from Duke University presented results of a study comparing the Atkins diet to the American Heart Association’s (AHA) low-fat diet at the AHA’s annual scientific meeting. Headlines of “Atkins diet meets with success,” “Vindication for the Atkins diet?” and “Atkins diet beats low-fat fare” had meat-lovers cheering and dietitians cringing. Sceptics argued that the study, funded by the Atkins Center for Complementary Medicine, included too few people and failed to monitor participants’ actual food intake and exercise levels.
The NASM Performance Enhancement Specialisation (NASM-PES) was developed to teach fitness professionals how to elevate an athlete’s training to achieve noticeable results while also decreasing the chance for injury. When working with athletes, the most important responsibility of a fitness professional is to ensure safety both on and off the playing field. The opportunity to put these types of skills and knowledge to work is huge.
Today’s typical golfer faces many challenges. Not only are golf courses becoming longer and more difficult, but today’s golfer is actually less prepared to play the game. In today’s automated society of long commutes, computers and television, many golf enthusiasts are not properly conditioned because of a lack of movement in their everyday lives. People today are spending more time in office-related jobs and more hours at work. Due to this, individuals are sitting for longer periods of time (less daily activity), increasing the chances of poor posture, muscle imbalances, and poor cardiovascular conditioning. The combination of a dynamic movement like a 100 mph golf swing and a 3-4 mile walk can be very challenging for most people and lead to poor performance and/or injury.