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INSIGHT. Noun. The capacity to gain an accurate, deep and sometimes sudden understanding of someone or something.

Knowledge is power. We want everyone to have access to the experts in the room. Get to know what’s real and what’s a gimmick with our in-depth articles, and start bossing your health and fitness today.
INSIGHT. Noun. The capacity to gain an accurate, deep and sometimes sudden understanding of someone or something.

Knowledge is power. We want everyone to have access to the experts in the room. Get to know what’s real and what’s a gimmick with our in-depth articles, and start bossing your health and fitness today.
Mindful Movement: Incorporating Meditation into Your Training
The Power of Positive Reinforcement: How Encouragement Can Benefit Your Fitness Journey
Fun Workout Activities for Couples: Strengthen Your Bond While Getting Fit Together!
7 Expert Gym Tips to See Faster Results at the Gym
From the Bedroom to the Gym: Is Your Sex Life Affecting Your Workout Performance?
The relationship between sex and workout performance is one that’s long been debated by scientists and fitness fanatics alike. It’s complicated and multifaceted, so answering the question of whether your sex life is affecting your training is difficult. That said, today we’re going to take a look at a variety of evidence, both academic and anecdotal, as well as several different scenarios and at least try to reduce some of the mystery around the subject. First, it helps to understand what’s actually happening to the body, both physically and psychologically, during both activities.   The Effects of Sex on the Body Sexual activity causes several changes to occur in the body:   Physical Changes That Occur During Sex During sexual activity and the lead up to it, the human body undergoes a process known as the sexual response cycle. This is the case for both males and females, though the cycle can be highly individual and may not be the same each time for each person. Describing the full sexual response cycle is beyond the scope of this article, however it consists of 4 phases: Desire Arousal Orgasm Resolution Factors such as elevated heart rate, increased blood flow and pressure and heightened muscle tension all come into play. If you’d like to read about the sexual response cycle in more detail, check out this great article from Cleveland Clinic.   Psychological Changes That Occur During Sex Several psychological changes occur both during and after sex. Most notable are the release of endorphins and oxytocin, which are associated with improved mood and a better sense of wellbeing. These are also responsible for reduced stress levels, which brings a multitude of additional benefits that are of particular interest to those of us participating in regular training and exercise. Cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress, is catabolic in high levels, meaning it can cause the breakdown of lean tissue. So, whilst it is unclear whether sex itself affects workout performance, the reduction in stress levels it may bring is definitely beneficial for preserving our results!   The Effects of Exercise and Training on the Body Exercise and training also cause the body to undergo a number of changes. These occur both during and after the physical activity. There are in fact a number of similarities in changes that happen during exercise and sex:   Physical Changes That Occur During Exercise The physical changes that happen in the body vary based on the type of exercise being undertaken, however, there are some that are common to exercise in general: Increased heart rate Increased blood flow, especially to the muscles Faster, deeper breathing due to additional oxygen needs Heightened activity within the circulatory, respiratory, musculoskeletal and endocrine systems A full summary of the changes that occur within these systems can be found here. More aerobically demanding exercise will, of course, place greater emphasis on the circulatory and respiratory systems as well as causing fat to be metabolised as an energy source. Resistance training, which often relies more heavily on the lactate and creatine phosphate energy systems, instead promotes greater muscular and endocrine (hormone) activity. Note the common physical changes between sex and exercise here, as they do crossover!   Psychological Changes That Occur During Exercise The psychological changes that occur during exercise are similar to those experienced during sexual activity and are mostly related to the release of endorphins and other ‘feelgood’ hormones. These help to regulate mood, and it is common knowledge that frequent exercise and leading an active, healthy lifestyle promotes a feeling of wellbeing.   Does Sex Affect Our Workouts? This is where things become complicated. Though extensive studies have been done on the subject, the results of these have varied massively. We must also take into account the experience of individuals, and this anecdotal evidence again has huge variance. Let’s look at both:   Sex and Training: What the Science Says Scientific studies on the relationship between sex and training are contradictory at best. There’s no denying the positive benefits of both activities, particularly from a psychological perspective, but as for the effect of sex on actual performance in the gym the results are inconclusive. A study, published in April 2021, by Kirecci, Albayrak and co. examined the effects of sexual activity of 50 men in the 24 hours prior to training on lower body strength. The study measured effects by having the men perform 3 separate squat sessions, each at the same time of day. Each of these sessions occurred after participating in or abstaining from sexual activity the night before. The men performed 5 sets of 5 repetitions of their maximum squat weight during these sessions and the difference in weight lifted was observed. The study concluded that ‘sexual intercourse within 24 hours before exercise [has a] detrimental effect on lower extremity muscle force, which suggests that restricting sexual activity before a short-term activity may be necessary.’ Aside from this study, most others found either no notable relationship between sex and athletic performance. A meta-analysis of 9 crossover studies, conducted by Zavorsky and Brooks and published on 16 September 2022, confirms this. The analysis concluded that ‘The results demonstrate that sexual activity within 30 min to 24 h before exercise does not appear to affect aerobic fitness, musculoskeletal endurance, or strength/power.’ This is perhaps more notable, because these studies incorporated different types of exercise and were not restricted purely to a strength/power based activity like squats.   Anecdotal Evidence: What About the Experiences of Real Gym Goers? The anecdotal evidence is, as expected, highly individualised. However, there tends to be a bias against the results of most studies, particularly in those participating in sports involving strength and aggression. For example, many fighters claim that they perform better when they abstain from sex in the days leading up to a contest. Similarly, bodybuilding forums are full of debate on this topic and many claim they note a significant decrease in motivation to train at maximum intensity after sexual activity. It has been hypothesised that this may be due to a downregulation in testosterone production after sex; during orgasm the mineral zinc is released in the body and this is also a precursor for natural testosterone production in the body and may, therefore, provide some reasoning as to the experience of many trainees.   Key Takeaways The relationship between sex and workout performance will always be a complicated one. The effects of one on the other in terms of physical fitness and, in particular, mental wellbeing, are clear, but when it comes to actual performance this appears to be highly individual. We’d advise doing what feels best for you but not worrying too much about it. Instead, prioritise your nutrition and make sure you’re fuelling your workouts properly. While you’re here, why not take a look at the Innermost range? We’re proud to be completely transparent about the ingredients in our products and we always ensure they’re of the highest quality. Check us out, and be sure to get in touch if you have any questions! Read more
How to Boost Your Sleep Hygiene for a Better Night’s Rest
Can’t sleep? You’re not the only one. Research shows that more than one third of adults sleep less, on average, than the recommended seven hours or more per night, with another study suggesting 10% to 15% of people experience chronic insomnia that impacts their day-to-day life.  Sleep struggles can feel isolating, lonely and like a never ending challenge, but just a few simple changes to your routine to boost your sleep hygiene could make all the difference and have you snoozing in no time.  To help you improve your sleep hygiene for a better night’s rest, we spoke to Sleep & Health Coach Annika Carroll. Here Annika shares her top tips for building healthy habits that will help you to sleep better. What is sleep hygiene?  Sleep hygiene refers to the environment you sleep in and your behaviours. This includes, for example, how hot or cool your bedroom is at night or what you do in the hours before bed. Poor sleep hygiene can include the likes of answering emails in bed late at night or having a bedroom that’s too bright and impacts the production of your sleep hormones. Drinking caffeine late in the day or eating a heavy meal before bed can also have a negative effect on your sleep.  But, it’s not just about what you do in the hours before bed that determines how healthy your sleep routine is. In fact, everything you do from the moment you wake up contributes to your sleep hygiene and will determine how easy you find it to fall asleep each night. “Everything we do throughout the day either adds to our ‘sleep account’ or subtracts from it. What we do one or two hours before bed is important, but it is just one piece of our sleep puzzle,” Annika explains.   How to boost sleep hygiene  Set a wind down alarm  This is your sign to put your phone away and start winding down for the evening. When you’re stressed your nervous system activates your fight or flight response. This causes your stress hormones to be released and your heart rate and breathing rate to increase. Not quite how you want to feel before bed! Instead, focus on calming activities like reading a book, practising a sleep meditation or relaxing under a weighted blanket. These will help to activate the nervous system’s rest and digest response (aka your relaxation response). If you can, avoid using your phone as you start to wind down. “Our phones emit blue light, which can interfere with the release of our sleep hormone and make it more difficult for us to fall asleep and stay asleep,” explains Annika. “Also, the content we consume (think: work emails and social media) can trigger the nervous system and raise our stress hormones, which will then make it more challenging to fall asleep.”  If you find it difficult to wind down and switch off, consider incorporating a sleep supplement into your daily routine. Our Relax Capsules contain research-backed ingredients that help reduce stress, promote relaxation and help you get a great night's sleep. An easy way to get a little more chill into your life.  Keep your bedroom dark and cool Natural light regulates our body clock and signals to our brain when it’s time to wake up and time to sleep. Melatonin, the hormone that helps us sleep, is released in the absence of light, so it’s important to keep your bedroom as dark as possible with blackout curtains or wear a sleep mask to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. “You should also cover up lights on smoke detectors, TVs, air conditioners or anything that might disturb your sleep,” Annika says. It’s also recommended that you keep your bedroom around 16-18°C for the optimal sleep conditions as if you’re too hot or too cold you’ll not only feel restless, but it will impact your body temperature and make it harder to fall asleep.  Take breaks throughout the day   Now you know that everything you do from the moment you wake up until the moment you lay your head on the pillow will impact how you sleep, consider getting outside within the first hour minutes of waking up for a dose of natural sunlight. This will help to regulate the circadian rhythm (aka your sleep-wake cycle) and signal to the body that it’s time to wake up. “This helps your body set its inner clock, so it will release cortisol - our awake hormone - and set the timer to release melatonin - our sleep hormone - in 14 to 16 hours. That way, you will have more energy throughout the day and fall asleep easier at night.”  It’s also important to take regular breaks throughout your day to regulate your stress hormones and give yourself the opportunity to reflect. “If we don't give our brains a break throughout the day, we start processing experiences and emotions from the day as soon as our head hits the pillow,” Annika explains. “Taking small breaks throughout the day to enjoy the sun or sit for a moment in silence is really helpful.” You don’t have to meditate to take a moment to relax (although we recommend it!), instead you can pick an activity you really enjoy whether that’s reading, walking or stretching.  Cut caffeine after lunch  We know you’ll have heard this one time and time again, but hear us out, reducing your caffeine intake can do wonders for your sleep. And there’s a science to it. Let us explain: when you drink a cup of coffee or an energy drink with caffeine, it will help you to feel more awake and alert because it blocks adenosine, a sleep-inducing chemical that builds up in your body throughout the day to ensure you feel sleepy in the evening. However, caffeine has a half-life of around five hours, that means that it takes five hours for the effects of caffeine to wear off and leave your system. “If you have a cup of coffee at 3pm, about half of that cup could still be in your body at 8pm and a quarter at 1am,” Annika explains. “Moving caffeine intake to earlier in the day is a good idea to help improve your sleep as it will allow its effects to wear off before bed.”  Want to go caffeine-free but still boost your energy throughout the day? Check out our five top tips for naturally upping your energy levels. You can thank us later…  Keep your blood sugar stable  If you find yourself waking up in the night, it could be down to what you’re eating during the day. “Night wakings can indicate your blood sugar is too low,” explains Annika. “If your blood sugar drops too much overnight, your body releases cortisol to wake you up.” To avoid this happening, make sure you eat balanced meals throughout the day. “Ensure your meals include whole foods, protein, healthy fats, and vegetables, and avoid processed foods and foods high in sugar,” Annika advises.  If you struggle to meet your daily protein targets, try our range of protein blends. Each one contains a different combination of research-backed natural ingredients, nootropics and adaptogens. They're also free from soy, gluten, fillers and GMO nasties. Whatever your goal, we have a protein blend to help! What to do if you wake up in the middle of the night  We’ve all been there, lying awake at 3am counting down the hours until the alarm goes off. So, what should you do if you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep? Well, it might sound counterproductive but it’s best to get out of bed and leave your bedroom so you can re-set.  “Do something that’s not too stimulating, such as reading a book, journaling or watching a little TV,” suggests Annika. “Avoid turning on bright lights; keep them dim and once you feel tired again, go back to bed. This way, your brain doesn't associate the bed with worrying and being awake.”  If you find getting out of bed makes you feel even more awake, try a visualisation meditation to help your mind relax and help you drift back off to sleep. Instead of counting sheep, Annika suggests visualising a place that brings you joy in great detail. “For example, you could see yourself walking on the beach, think about how the sun feels on your shoulders, and how the sand feels on your toes. The more detail, the better. This can help you relax and fall back asleep.” 
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Top 5 Benefits of Mushroom Coffee | Meet The Wellness Blend
Introducing The Wellness Blend, a revolutionary mushroom-infused coffee blend designed to elevate your daily coffee ritual. This unique concoction combines premium Arabica coffee with a carefully curated selection of adaptogenic mushrooms, creating a powerful blend that not only boosts energy but also enhances overall wellbeing. Why do you need mushroom coffee?  In today's fast-paced world, prioritising optimal health can be challenging. But don’t worry, mushroom coffee is here to help with this. With its unique blend of six adaptogenic mushrooms, chaga, reishi, maitake, shiitake, cordyceps and tremella, The Wellness Blend offers a huge range of health benefits. From immune support and stress reduction to improved cognitive function and athletic performance, mushroom coffee provides a holistic approach to wellness. What makes The Wellness Blend different is its unique ability to provide sustained sustained energy without the typical coffee crash. Thanks to the adaptogenic properties of mushrooms, The Wellness Blend not only provides an energy boost but also helps the body adapt to stress, promoting a more balanced and sustained energy throughout the day. So, whether you need a morning coffee boost or an afternoon pick-me-up, The Wellness Blend can make for a healthier, more practical alternative to your daily coffee. The benefits of using mushroom coffee blends: 1. Immune Support: Chaga and reishi, two mushrooms in our blend, are the dynamic duo behind fortifying your immune system. Chaga mushrooms boost the immune system by activating immune cells. They stimulate antibody production and exhibit anti-inflammatory effects, enhancing the body's ability to defend against invaders. Reishi enhances the immune system. Its bioactive compounds, such as beta-glucans and triterpenes, modulate immune responses, promoting defense against pathogens.  2. Stress Reduction: Reishi takes the spotlight when it comes to promoting relaxation and stress reduction. Packed with bioactive compounds such as beta-glucans and triterpenes, reishi has been prized for centuries for its adaptogenic properties. By integrating reishi into your routine, The Wellness Blend provides a natural remedy to navigate the demands of modern life, helping you find your balance and calm amidst the chaos. 3. Skin Care Tremella works to support cognitive function. Known for its natural moisture-retaining properties, Tremella contributes to skin health and hydration. It also contains bioactive compounds believed to support the immune system and beneficially impact cognitive health. By including tremella in The Wellness Blend, we've crafted a unique elixir that not only supports better skin but also nurtures brain health. 4. Heart Health: Cordyceps, a mushroom known for its incredible health benefits, takes centre stage in promoting cardiovascular health. This mushroom has been renowned for centuries in Eastern medicine for its ability to enhance stamina, endurance, and energy levels. By incorporating Cordyceps into The Wellness Blend, we've harnessed its power to not only improve athletic performance but also to support your cardiovascular system, ensuring your heart stays strong and resilient.  5. Gut Health: Certain mushroom varieties, like lion's mane, have been linked to improved gut health, potentially aiding digestion and promoting a healthy microbiome. Benefits of The Wellness Blend: The Wellness Blend offers a myriad of benefits. Chaga and Reishi bolster immune function, Cordyceps enhances athletic performance, while Lion's Mane supports cognitive function. Additionally, the adaptogenic properties of these mushrooms help the body adapt to stress, promoting overall resilience and well-being.Chaga mushrooms are renowned for their immune-boosting properties. Rich in antioxidants, Chaga helps strengthen the body's defense mechanisms, protecting against infections and illnesses. Reishi, often referred to as the "Mushroom of Immortality," is prized for its ability to reduce stress and promote relaxation. Its adaptogenic properties help the body cope with physical and mental stressors, supporting overall well-being.Cordyceps is another key ingredient in the Wellness Blend, known for its performance-enhancing benefits. This mushroom has long been used in traditional medicine to improve stamina and endurance, making it a popular choice among athletes and fitness enthusiasts. By increasing oxygen utilization and energy production, Cordyceps helps boost athletic performance and recovery. How much mushroom blend do you need? The optimal amount of mushroom blend in your coffee depends on personal preference and the specific blend you choose. Mushroom coffee products often come with recommended serving sizes, ensuring you get the right balance of coffee and mushroom goodness. Experimenting with different ratios can help you find the perfect mix that suits your taste buds and health goals. How can you get started with mushroom coffee? Ready to experience the benefits of mushroom coffee for yourself? Head to our product page and discover the Wellness Blend today. With its convenient powder form, it's never been easier to incorporate mushroom coffee into your daily routine. Elevate your coffee experience and embrace a healthier, more balanced lifestyle with The Wellness Blend. Read more
Strength Training 101 Webinar
You may have heard that we recently held a Strength Training 101 webinar. Within this webinar, we talked all things strength training, from its benefits to how to get started with weight training. One thing we touched heavily upon were some common strength training myths and why you should stop believing them. If you missed our webinar and would like to catch up, check out the video below. But if you're short of time, read on for a run down of some of the most common strength training misconceptions.  What Is Strength Training? Strength training, also called resistance or weight training, is a type of exercise that aims to make your muscles stronger and improve endurance. It typically involves using weights or resistance to achieve this. The main purpose of strength training is to improve your muscles' ability to produce force. This leads to increased muscle mass, better tone, and improved overall fitness. When you use external resistance like weights or resistance bands, it causes tension in your muscle fibres and microscopic tears. During the recovery phase, your body starts repairing these tears by creating new proteins and muscle fibres, which is what makes your muscles stronger. 4 Common Strength Training Myths: The buzz around strength training doesn’t come without common misconceptions and myths, and I’m sure you have heard many reasons as to why it might hinder your health or just not be of benefit to you.  1. Strength training can make women bulky This myth is  so prevalent within society but seems to be slowly decreasing. Actually, a balanced strength training program with a good diet gives you a lean and toned physique. Numerous studies have shown that genetic and hormonal differences between ourselves and our male counterparts, such as testosterone levels, make gaining large amounts of muscle a greater challenge for women. Studies have also shown that strength training in women tends to lead to an increase in lean body mass, which is associated with improved metabolism and fat loss and contributes to a toned and athletic appearance rather than bulkiness. 2. Cardio is better for fat loss Strength training actually plays a significant role in shedding fat by boosting metabolism and promoting lean muscle mass. A 2019 study by the Institute of Sports Sciences found that muscle is more active than fat -  a pound of muscle can burn anywhere from 10 to 20 calories a day, while a pound of fat burns only 2 to 5 calories a day. A 2020 study published in the Journal of Sports Science also shows that your metabolic rate is increased for up to 72 hours after strength-training exercise. This means that you’re still burning additional calories hours and even days after your workout. Not to mention, combining strength training with cardio creates a more exciting and enjoyable fitness routine than just doing cardio alone. 3. Strength training isn't for older people: It's commonly believed that strength training can injure older people, but research suggests strength training is actually a great activity for older adults. Research shows that after the age of 30, adults can lose 3-5% of muscle mass per decade, so strength training helps to combat this age-related muscle loss. It also helps to maintain bone density, improve joint health, and enhances overall functional fitness. So strength training could actually help prevent age-related injury and promote a higher quality of life as we age.  4. Strength training is time consuming: Lots of people think strength training takes up a lot of time but you can actually achieve effective strength training in short, focused workouts, even 30 to 45 minute workouts can yield significant results. In fact, according to the British Medical Journal, a period of between 30 to 60 minutes of strength training per week is all you need to reap the benefits of strength training. As cliché as it sounds, it's very much quality and consistency over quantity.  In terms of needing a gym, strength training can be a very versatile practice that you can do anywhere, living room, local park, or even the garden. The main key is completing more bodyweight exercises, and adding things like resistance bands. Benefits of Strength Training Now that we've unpacked some truths about strength training, we want to turn our attention to the science behind the holistic benefits that strength training provides. 1.Mental health: Regarding our mental health, current research suggests regular strength training sessions reduce symptoms of both anxiety and depression regardless of age or health status. One way this occurs is through the release of hormones called endorphins which act as a natural mood enhancer and stress reliever, and are part of the reason why when you exercise you feel a little buzz. Our mood can also be improved by the feeling of accomplishment you get when you complete your strength-goals- like upping your squat by a few kg, holding a new yoga pose or just pushing yourself to do a few more reps.On top of this, a systematic review that studied 754 adults showed a significant link between strength training and positive body image, including body satisfaction, appearance, and social anxiety around how you look. 2. Cognitive benefits: A lesser known benefit of strength training is improved cognitive function and neuroprotective effects. Those who engage in strength training may have better brain health and protection against age-related cognitive decline. This is because strength training improves blood flow, reduces inflammation, and increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is basically what’s linked to memory and learning. Multiple studies have also pointed to other significant cognitive improvements after participating in strength training, like processing speed, memory, and executive function. Executive function is like the CEO of your brain—it's the boss that helps you plan, organise, manage your emotions and get stuff done. It's what makes sure you remember to grab your keys before leaving the house, helps you follow a recipe, and stick to a schedule without procrastinating or binge-watching TV. 3. Physical strength: It may seem like stating the obvious, but it’s an equally important benefit, and that’s your physical strength. As Shiv talked about earlier, as you progressively challenge your muscles with resistance, they get better at generating force by bringing in more muscle fibres after those microscopic tears. This allows you to lift heavier weights and perform more challenging exercises. This doesn't only mean the benefit is you can squat more or deadlift more, but also translates to completing more mundane tasks more easily like bringing the shopping in or climbing the stairs at work.  Strength training improves posture and reduces lower back pain by enhancing the strength and endurance of core muscles. When the muscles supporting the spine and lower back are strengthened through exercises like squats and deadlifts, they provide better support and stability. This, in turn, helps maintain a more upright posture and reduces the strain on the lower back, which alleviates that pain and improves your spine health. 4. Metabolic and chronic diseases: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), strength training has been associated with a 20-30% reduction in the risk of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and arthritis.  This is because it’s been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, so your body is able to regulate your blood sugar levels more effectively. It’s been linked to improvements in blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It also improves joint function and overall mobility.  5. Better sleep: Engaging in regular physical activity, including strength training, has been shown in research to improve sleep quality and duration. That research shows that 60% of people who weight train get an average of 7 hours or more of sleep per night. The exertion during workouts, coupled with the positive impact on stress levels, promotes more restful and rejuvenating sleep.   In summary, there are numerous myths surrounding strength training and if you're ever confused about anything you hear about it, you should do some research before disregarding weight training entirely, or simply get in touch on our website for some quick advice. Beyond physical benefits, strength training has many benefits for your overall health, from improving cognitive function to reducing the risk of chronic diseases, strength training enhances overall well-being. Embrace the power of short, focused workouts and discover the joy of achieving strength goals. Strengthen your body, elevate your mood, and foster a healthier, more fulfilling life through the enduring practice of strength training. Read more
Insider Q&A | What Does It Mean to be Strong?
8 Strength Training Myths You Need to Stop Believing
Let's debunk the myths surrounding strength training and pave the way for a more inclusive and informed approach. From dispelling fears of bulking up to challenging the notion that strength supplements offer a shortcut, we unravel the truths that empower individuals to embrace the transformative benefits of building strength. Whether you're a seasoned enthusiast or a newcomer, understanding the reality behind these myths is the key to unlocking the full potential of strength training. It's time to break free from stereotypes, embrace the versatility of strength exercises, and step into a healthier and stronger lifestyle. 8 Strength Training Myths You Need to Stop Believing  1. Bulking Up: One common misconception about strength training is the fear of "bulking up." In reality, a well-rounded strength training program, when combined with a balanced diet, contributes to a lean and toned physique. Women, in particular, don't need to worry about becoming 'bulky' or overly muscular, as hormonal differences make it challenging to achieve a bulky appearance without specific training and nutrition protocols. 2. Strength Supplements Are a Shortcut:While strength supplements can be beneficial, they are not a shortcut to success. Many people believe that these supplements alone can replace a well-rounded diet and consistent training. The truth is, supplements are meant to complement a solid foundation of nutritious food and proper exercise. It's essential to prioritise a healthy lifestyle over relying solely on shortcuts. 3. Cardio Is Superior for Fat Loss:One prevalent myth is that cardiovascular exercise is the only effective way to lose fat, and strength training is only for building muscle. In reality, strength training can play a significant role in fat loss by increasing metabolic rate and promoting the development of lean muscle mass [1]. Combining both strength training and cardiovascular exercise creates a well-rounded fitness routine that maximises fat loss and overall health [2]. 4. Strength Training Is Only for the Young People: Some believe that strength training is exclusively for younger people and that older individuals should avoid it due to the risk of injury. However, strength training is particularly beneficial for older adults. It helps maintain bone density, improves joint health, and enhances overall functional fitness, promoting independence and a higher quality of life as individuals age [3] [4]. 5. You Can Spot-Reduce Fat:Many people believe that performing specific exercises targeting a particular body part will result in localised fat reduction. Unfortunately, spot reduction is a myth. Fat loss occurs systematically across the entire body through a combination of a calorie deficit and regular exercise [5]. While strength training can tone and define specific muscle groups, it does not selectively eliminate fat from those areas.6. Heavy Weights Bulk, Light Weights Tone:Another common misconception is that lifting heavy weights will lead to bulking up, while lifting lighter weights with higher repetitions will result in a toned physique. The reality is that both approaches have their place in a well-rounded strength training program. The key is to adjust the training variables, such as volume and intensity, based on individual goals, rather than relying on a one-size-fits-all approach. 7. Strength Training Is Time-Consuming:Some people shy away from strength training because they believe it requires long, gruelling sessions in the gym. In truth, effective strength training can be achieved in relatively short periods. High-intensity, focused workouts that target key muscle groups can yield significant results in as little as 30 to 45 minutes. Quality and consistency are more important than quantity when it comes to strength training. 8. You Need a Gym to Strength Train: Let's set the record straight. You don't need a gym membership to embark on a powerful strength training journey. Effective strength training is not tethered to fancy equipment or elaborate setups, it's a versatile practice that can unfold anywhere – your living room, a local park, or even the garden. Bodyweight exercises, resistance bands, and creative use of everyday items are your tools to sculpting strength without the need for a gym. To Weigh it Up: By busting these common myths, we pave the way for a more inclusive and informed approach to strength training. Ultimately, it's an accessible practice that benefits individuals of all ages and fitness levels. Embrace the diversity of strength training exercises, tailor your approach to your specific goals, and enjoy the numerous physical and mental rewards that come with building strength. Remember, knowledge is power, and understanding the truth about strength training is the first step toward a healthier and stronger you.     [1] https://pure.bond.edu.au/ws/portalfiles/portal/36134364/AM_The_effect_of_exercise_interventions_on_resting_metabolic_rate.pdf[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34957791/[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6279907/[4] https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0269215515610039)[5] https://www.termedia.pl/A-proposed-model-to-test-the-hypothesis-of-exerciseinduced-localized-fat-reduction-spot-reduction-including-a-systematic-review-with-meta-analysis,129,45538,0,1.html Read more
Strength Training 101
Let’s talk strength training, where beyond pumping iron the pursuit of overall wellbeing takes centre stage - or should we say platform. In this article, we'll explore the multifaceted benefits of adding strength training to your weekly routine, and just how you can do so effectively. What is strength training? Strength training, also known as resistance training or weight training, is a form of physical exercise focused on improving muscular strength and endurance through resistance or weights. The primary goal of strength training is to enhance the ability of muscles to generate force, promoting increased muscle mass, improved tone, and overall functional fitness. It works by inducing controlled stress on our muscles to prompt physiological adaptations. When external resistance, such as weights or resistance bands, is applied, it creates tension within the muscle fibres and microscopic tears. During recovery, the body initiates repair processes, forming new proteins and muscle fibres to rebuild these tears and adapt the muscles. This results in increased muscle mass, strength, and endurance over time. What equipment do you need for strength training? Strength training can use a whole host of various equipment, including free weights, resistance bands, or weight machines, and typically involves performing sets and repetitions of specific exercises. Can Anyone Strength train? Strength training is an inclusive and adaptable fitness option suitable for individuals of all ages and backgrounds. Regardless of gender or prior fitness experience, everyone can benefit from incorporating strength exercises into their routines. From beginners focusing on form to advanced lifters pursuing various techniques, strength training accommodates diverse fitness goals. The supportive community environment, both in-person and online, ensures an inclusive space for sharing experiences and motivation. Ultimately, strength training goes beyond building muscles; it fosters strength, confidence, and well-being for everyone.    What are the benefits of strength training?  The Mental Health Boost Strength training is not just about physical gains; it's a holistic approach to health that extends to mental well-being. Engaging in regular weightlifting sessions has been linked to reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression [1]. The release of endorphins during exercise acts as a natural mood enhancer, helping to alleviate stress and improve overall mental clarity [2]. Easier Everyday: It may seem like stating the obvious, but beyond the broader spectrum of benefits, the fundamental advantage of strength training lies in … you guessed it … enhanced physical strength! As you progressively challenge your muscles with resistance, your muscles become more efficient at generating force, allowing you to lift heavier weights and perform more challenging exercises [3].  This improvement in strength not only empowers you within the confines of the gym, but also translates into a newfound capability to tackle everyday tasks with greater ease and confidence. Increased Metabolism: Strength training isn't just about building muscle; it's a metabolic powerhouse. As you engage in resistance exercises, your body works hard to repair and build muscle tissue. This process consumes energy, boosting your resting metabolic rate. Over time, this heightened metabolism becomes an ally in maintaining a healthy weight and supporting fat loss goals [4]. Improved Posture, Joint Health & Bone Density: Strengthening the muscles that support your spine and shoulders helps maintain an upright posture, reducing the risk of chronic back pain [5]. Additionally, targeted exercises can enhance the stability of your joints, contributing to overall joint health and flexibility [6]. Weight-bearing exercises stimulate bone growth and remodelling, making your bones denser and more resistant to fractures [7]. This is particularly significant as you age, helping to combat conditions like osteoporosis and promoting long-term skeletal health. Enhanced Insulin Sensitivity: Regular strength training has been linked to improved insulin sensitivity [8]. This means your body becomes more efficient at utilising insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. This is not only beneficial for individuals with or at risk of diabetes but also contributes to overall metabolic health. Better Sleep Quality: Strength training could also be a natural remedy for those struggling with sleep issues. Engaging in regular physical activity, including strength training, has been shown to improve sleep quality for some [9]. The exertion during workouts, coupled with the positive impact on stress levels, promotes more restful and rejuvenating sleep.  How to Strength Train like a Pro Strength training for beginners: Start with the basics – master proper form and use lighter weights. Focus on fundamental exercises like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses to build a strong foundation. Don’t be afraid to ask your local personal trainer for help (that’s what they are there for!). Equally, if you’re practising at home, recording yourself and watching it back can be a great way to assess your technique - along with getting to grips with your mind to muscle connection, and making sure to feel the burn where you should! Begin by doing 12 reps of each exercise and go through the routine for 3 sets, taking a 30-second break between each set. Aim for a weight that gives you a good challenge, making the last two reps of every set extra tough - you should be too tired to try a 13th repTop of Form! This initial phase will trigger neuromuscular adaptations, enhancing your body's ability to recruit muscle fibres efficiently for strength-based tasks. Level Up:  When you’ve got the hang of it, it’s time to intensify your routine. Gradually increase the weight, reps, or sets, and add variations of different exercises to keep challenging your muscles – this is called progressive overload. Consider split routines, which target specific muscle groups on different days. This will allow for more targeted training and effective recovery. A common split routine divides training sessions into upper and lower body workouts. On upper body days, exercises concentrate on muscles like the chest, back, shoulders, and arms. Lower body sessions then emphasise exercises targeting the legs and glutes. Another approach is the push-pull split, where one day is dedicated to pushing movements (e.g., chest and triceps), and the next focuses on pulling movements (e.g., back and biceps). Advanced Strength Training: Now in the big leagues, strategies such as periodization come into play. Periodization involves cycling through different phases of intensity and volume to prevent plateaus and optimise performance [10].  Advanced lifters may experiment with techniques like drop sets and supersets to induce greater muscle fatigue and stimulate further growth. Recovery becomes paramount at this stage, so listen to your body, prioritise recovery, and make sure to fuel yourself properly for optimal results. Summary In the world of strength training, we've discovered its broad benefits, going beyond muscles to mental well-being, enhanced functionality, metabolism, joint health, and better sleep. Progressing through your strength training journey involves mastering form, intensifying routines, and strategic approaches. Whether you're starting or seasoned, the key is personalisation, consistency, and recovery. Building strength isn't just about weights; it's about a healthier, resilient you. So, grab those weights, start your journey, and watch transformative benefits unfold! [1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6137526/[2] https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Eric-Hall-4/publication/325652029_The_acute_effects_of_resistance_exercise_on_affect_anxiety_and_mood_-_practical_implications_for_designing_resistance_training_programs/links/5b1ee1ab458515270fc46b0c/The-acute-effects-of-resistance-exercise-on-affect-anxiety-and-mood-practical-implications-for-designing-resistance-training-programs.pdf[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2892859/[4] https://pure.bond.edu.au/ws/portalfiles/portal/36134364/AM_The_effect_of_exercise_interventions_on_resting_metabolic_rate.pdf[5] https://bmcsportsscimedrehabil.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13102-020-00181-0[6] https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0269215515610039[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6279907/[8] https://www.bewegenismedicijn.nl/files/downloads/tresierras_et_al._2009_-_rt_in_the_treatment_of_diabetes_and_obesity.pdf[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4341978/[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3438871/#:~:text=Periodization%20is%20the%20planned%20manipulation,the%20onset%20of%20overtraining%20syndrome   Read more