• What difference does a jump make?

    Posted in personal training on May 3, 2013

    Personal trainer Victoria Martin talks us through the benefits of incorporating jumps a.k.a plyometric training into your fitness routine.

    Jump!

    It’s a love hate relationship, personal trainers love them, clients hate them. But why? Due to the high impact and muscle fibers used we are only able to perform them for a short period of time. It’s frustrating how difficult simple movements can be when executed repetitively and at speed. So if you can run comfortably for 30 minutes why not do that instead of exhausting yourself plyometric (jump) training for 15 minutes?

    Plyometric training focuses on strengthening the fast twitch muscle fibers. These are the ones that contract quickly, tire quickly and use mainly the anaerobic system that enhance your explosive performance.

    Jump!

    When you perform a plyometric exercise your muscles go through three phases. Eccentric (when the muscle lengthens), amortisation (resting period) and concentric (when the muscle contracts and shortens). The stronger the fast twitch fibers, the faster the muscle reacts from the eccentric phase to the concentric phase therefore the more beneficial it becomes.

    Copyright_VictoriaMartin

    One of the major benefits is the enhancement of your neuromuscular system which transmits signals from your brain to your muscles to make them contract and relax, enabling movement. The more efficient this transmission the faster you can contract and relax your muscles which increases your speed and power. This is all good if you are Usain Bolt but what if you are Rachel from Walthamstow who wants to shift a few pounds and detests burpies?

    The term ‘Plyomentic’ derives from the Latin words for ‘greater’ and ‘measure’. This is because plyometric exercises increase your muscle mass. The higher your muscle mass the faster your metabolism resulting in the more calories you burn at rest. (Yes even when you’re sleeping). Not only does it increase muscle mass but the high impact explosive exercises means you burn more calories in a shorter period of time, often feeling exhausted after just 20 minutes.

    Bunny hops over bench

    This is not to say you should replace cardio or weight training with plyometics but it is an excellent addition to ensure your training regime doesn’t plateau.

    As well as the benefits mentioned plyometric training also:

    • Strengthens tendons preventing injury
    • Uses different energy systems
    • Increases stamina
    • Improves muscle power and strength
    • Improves joint stability
    • Improves agility and balance

    So why not add this circuit into your weekly training routine. The emphasis should be on speed and power rather than duration / sets so these will vary depending of your fitness level, if you are in any doubt please check with a personal trainer.

    *Perform each exercise for 12 repetitions rest for 2 minutes and repeat for a further 2 sets.

    • Vertical Jumps
    • Press ups with a clap
    • High jumps
    • Burpies
    • Chest pass with medicine ball
    • Long jumps
    • Jump lunges
    • Bunny Hops over bench

    *Increase / decrease the reps where necessary.

    *Remember to fully warm up for at least 10 minutes prior to decrease risk of injury and Due to the high impact of plyometric exercises if you have any back or joint injuries you should seek advice from a personal trainer. 

    Inspired to take a leap? You can book a personal training session with Vicki here.

  • Do Athletes Make Good Coaches?

    Posted in expert insights on February 28, 2013

    Baz Moffat personal training and rowing instructor (including event training for individuals and teams), speaks to Annie Vernon, who after a successful rowing career picking up World titles and Olympic medals, is now embarking on a coaching career.

    Baz caught up with Annie to find out what she has to say about athletes being good coaches…

    Annie

    I spent eight years as a full-time international rower and following the London Olympics I moved into a temporary job coaching Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club. I never, ever thought I would become a rowing coach but the job seemed like it could be good fun and before I knew it I was sitting in a launch on the River Ouse at Ely, right in the Fens.

    If I could describe my life right now, it would be that I’m becoming that person I used to hate: I’m doing all the things that used to really annoy me about my coaches….

    It started one day when I found myself shivering whilst supervising a weights session, so I suggested to the girls that they close the windows of the gym. They looked at me in disbelief: I was wearing layer upon layer, whilst they were wearing shorts and vests.

    Then I started to notice that I was racking up an impressive list of all the things that used to annoy me about my coaches:

    standing around looking bored and playing on my iPhone when the athletes were doing tough sessions; not pressing the button on the megaphone properly so they couldn’t really hear what I say when coaching; accidentally running the oars over in the coaching boat; and making sarcastic comments when they’re screwed from a hard week’s training.

    So do athletes make good coaches?

    I’m not sure.

    On the one hand, I can really empathise with what the athletes are going through, both good times and bad. On the other hand, I will always tend to side with them when sometimes they do truly need a good kick up the backside.

    Thinking back to the relationship I had with my coach, I liked that he was always utterly uncompromising and although I often didn’t like it at the time, he absolutely got the most out of me. I’ve had to learn to see things from the outside rather than always taking the athlete’s point of view.

    As an athlete you’re only concerned with yourself. Your mind, your body, your motivation, your experience, your results. As a coach of a squad of thirty girls, I now have to deal with 30 different minds, bodies, motivations, experiences, and try to get the most out of each individual.

    Many thanks to Baz and Annie for sharing their conversation.

    What do you think? We’d love to hear from you on this and any other topics of interest for our community at hello@upmysport.com, or post a comment below for everyone to see!

  • What do you look for in a personal trainer?

    Posted in personal training on September 26, 2012

    At upmysport we believe teaming up with a personal trainer can be a fantastic way to help you achieve your sporting aspirations and give renewed focus to your health and fitness goals. We also know how difficult it is to juggle such virtuous aspirations alongside a myriad of work and other personal commitments!

    Finding a personal trainer who is the right fit for you is key. We spoke to some of London’s busiest people to find out more about what they look for.

    Lisa, a Banker, says she “always” looks for a personal trainer that can offer nutrition advice and Simon, an Events Producer, knows that he needs, “someone, who will push me” and most importantly, “help me quit smoking.” Many people want help to achieve a specific goal. Bobby, a Lawyer at an investment bank,  explains how he chose his last personal trainer because he “had a specific objective in mind – increasing my stamina and pace for long distance running.”

    More general factors are also important, including location.”It needs to be convenient,” says Dorothea, a Lawyer and keen triathlete. “I would also look at who their other clients are. Being able to see they already work with a diverse range of people is reassuring. That way I can be confident they can tailor the sessions to meet my particular needs. It is also important that the trainer looks fit and healthy too – it’s a good sign that they know what works!”

    Personal Trainer Dave Selkirk in action

    Taking the first step back into fitness is not easy and can often feel impossible. As one City lawyer put it, “Having a personal trainer would just add loads more missed appointments into the sorry mix that is my work-life balance.”

    Don’t worry readers, upmysport is launching a jail break for this City inmate. Yeah, that’s right. We’ve got contacts on the inside.

    It’s not just those in the City that find the work–life-fitness balance a challenge.

    Journalist Ellie explains, “As a new Mum, it’s really hard to get time for myself, so I’d be looking for a personal trainer who can be flexible and work around my schedule. Some nights I don’t get a lot of sleep -I’d appreciate someone who understands that.  I would also love to know of ways to exercise while caring for my baby – whilst pushing the buggy round the park and so on. It would be fantastic to find a trainer who could help me do this.”

    Juggling child care and training can be challenging.

    Harriet, a Play Therapist who loves tennis and swimming, is looking for a personal trainer that can help  improve her fitness level and provide a stepping stone into other sports, “Variety is really important. I would want them to help me explore different training techniques and introduce me to other sports.” Balancing child care around training is also an issue. “Sessions where I can take my step son (who is eleven) and where he can participate or there are child care facilities would be great.”

    Inspired? Check out our diverse range of Personal Trainers in London