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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
The Science of Post Workout Recovery: How to Maximise Muscle Growth and Repair
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
The Best Exercises To Improve Your Rowing PB
Whether a seasoned gym addict, first-time fitness enthusiast, or avid water goer, there’s nothing quite like smashing your rowing PB. While it might look intimidating to begin, it’s much simpler, addictive, and most importantly, beneficial to your body than beginners might think. Like any workout PB however, there can reach a point where your best time seems to plateau. After all, there are only so many times you can improve right? Well not necessarily. In addition to a high protein diet and the use of fitness supplements like The Power Booster to aid performance, there are a wide range of exercises to try that can improve rowing endurance, power, and technique. By the end, getting a faster rowing PB should be a breeze. The Benefits Of Rowing Firstly, it’s important to ask; should you go for a PB in the first place? Short answer: absolutely! Rowing offers a complete high-intensity exercise all without skipping a beat; just a single session will train 9 of your muscle groups and around 85% of your body’s muscles. Compared to other workouts, this builds strength and endurance within key muscles in the upper and lower body. While achieving that rowing PB can be tough, being able to endure the challenge and feel the muscle growth is an unmatched workout joy. The versatility of rowing means everyone from cardio lovers to arm day enthusiasts can look forward to smashing their next PB. Rowing workouts are also low-impact and kind to your individual joints. This makes it the perfect PB challenge for those recovering from, and looking to avoid persistent injury - or perhaps even the dreaded shin splints. The exercise also provides mental benefits for the individual through the release of endorphins (the body’s feel-good hormones).   Exercises To Improve Your PB So how do you go about improving your PB? Well because rowing utilizes a complete range of muscles, getting a better time is all about targeting these individual parts of the body. This requires a mix of all types of workouts from cardio and core to strength training. Cardio Workouts To bring rowing performance to the next level, it’s almost essential to incorporate a strong aerobic focus into your exercise. Given the repetitive and continuous motions required with rowing, it’s easy to get stuck in the trap of pushing yourself too much – especially when it comes to striving for a PB. Cardio performance exercises are a fantastic method to build your rowing endurance, improve your heart health, and simply just lift your mood. For the best results, we’d recommend a mix of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and steady-state cardio (SSC) workouts. High-Intensity Interval Training HIIT exercises are all about raising the heart rate and building strength and stamina. They balance short but maximum-intensity workouts with rest intervals – think short sprints, fast cycling, and squat jumps. This makes HIIT an important tool to improve cardio capabilities and smash that rowing PB goal. Steady State Cardio SSC workouts on the other hand focus on continuous but long-term workouts. Instead of 2-minute short sprints of high intensity, you might take a light 30-minute jog for a consistent heart rate. These exercises have the benefit of improving your endurance levels and making it easier to continue rowing until hitting your distance target.     Strength Training While debates continue to rage about whether rowing is a cardio exercise – we’re firmly of the it is camp – strength plays just as vital a role as endurance. Regardless of whether you row 500, 1000, 2000 metres, or beyond, there will always be a mental balance required between the rowing strength you exert per rep and the overall distance remaining. By improving key muscles through strength training, you can reduce the effort and difficulty on each row to improve speed and overall performance. Given the full body sequence of actions used in rowing, we’d recommend you focus your workout on 3 key areas: legs, core, and arms.         Leg Exercises Your leg contains some of the strongest muscles in the body. Given its importance to strong rowing performance, it’s not exactly surprising that we’re recommending you incorporate leg exercises into your fitness routine. This is especially true at the rowing catch point - the end point of each row – where the greatest leg force is required. To improve leg muscle strength, we recommend simple but effective exercises like squats, lunges, and targeted deadlift sessions.     Core Exercises While it might not be completely obvious, your core muscles – the stomach and lower back muscles - play a pivotal part in maintaining your posture and improving your rowing PB. They are especially important in supporting rowing form toward the end of the workout when you begin to tire. A strong core also minimises the workload on other muscles that would otherwise have to work harder to compensate for a weak core. Core workouts are also simple to do whether at home or the gym. Just some ideas include plants, hip bridges, and Pilate ab crunches. Arm Exercises Arm strength also plays a significant role in maintaining rowing form, albeit slightly different depending on whether you’re at the gym or treading the waters. For water goers, the arms act as a messenger of sorts. They transfer the power generated from the leg and core muscles into the rowing oar and push the boat forward – a fairly important element to achieving any sort of distance. For the motivated gym goer, strong arms can provide well-defined concentric and eccentric muscle movements that benefit form. To focus on improving arm muscle strength, there are plenty of exercises you to try. Just some effective choices are bicep curl and triceps extension workouts, but you can even try something as simple as home push-ups (which will also help in improving core strength). The Importance Of Technique, Rest, And Recovery With all this said, a key and often overlooked part of improving a rowing PB is simply getting the basics - effective form and technique before, during, and after any exercise – down. Consider adding some simple and easy stretches before a session to effectively warm up your muscles and best prepare your body. Likewise, you could have all the endurance tools you need to succeed, but a poor rowing technique could see you waste unnecessary energy. Efficiency is key here. The other added benefit of good form is that it greatly reduces the chance of any injuries which let’s face it, is quite important to training and smashing the next PB. As someone who has gone for a personal best on many occasions, I can agree that this last part can be the most difficult, but achieving a PB is all about planning rest and recovery days into your training. Listening to your body here can be crucial. Pushing too hard increases the risk of overtraining, potentially leading to injury. To this end, it can make it easier to think of recovery as another stage of the workout process. Remember, rest days don’t necessarily mean you have to do nothing all day. Gentle exercises like walks and even yoga can work wonders for body recovery. Interested to discover more about Innermost Power Booster Supplements? Looking for the best ways to fuel your next workout? Perhaps you have some amazing and inspired ideas to share? Don’t hesitate to message us on our Instagram @liveinnermost. Read more
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