Every rugby player wants to be a little bit fitter, and in many cases a lttle bit trimmer. Most people at amateur level don’t have that much time to dedicate to endless hours in the gym, so it’s always good to know that what you are doing will make a difference.
I was given a book for Christmas that dispels a lot of the myths around fitness training, and is worth a read to make sure you aren’t wasting your time. I’ve included a couple of extracts below, and you can buy the whole thing for about a fiver at Amazon.
Why is it that I have been running 3 miles, 3 times a week, but my fitness and weight have stayed exactly the same?
Jogging is arguably the cheapest and most effective form of exercise there is and thousands of people have their usual 3- or 4-mile circuit that they run religiously every week – rain or shine. When in the early stages of a running regime, the improvements are initially encouraging with new runners who stick to their 3 miles, 3 times a week regime experiencing a dramatic improvement in fitness levels and weight loss. Accompanied by a firmer bum and fewer flabby bits, the incentive to carry on is obvious. However, after a few months despondency can set in when the improvements seem to slow down. All of a sudden, weight loss stops and fitness levels tend to plateau despite the fact that the regime has remained unchanged.
This is exactly where the problem lies – an exercise regime has to change if you want your fitness levels to keep improving and your wobbly bits to continue to disappear. The body adapts to anything you throw at it, and once it becomes accustomed to certain intensity and regularity of exercise improvements tend to plateau. Imagine a morbidly obese woman of 30 stone, who is incapacitated and whose only form of exercise is to press the button on the TV remote and walk to the bathroom, bedroom and kitchen. This is what her body has adapted to and it has been doing this for years.
So what if, hypothetically, her diet remained the same but you increased this level of exercise by getting her to raise her arms above her head 100 times a day? All of a sudden the body is doing more exercise than it has in years, so it must adapt and burn energy to perform this level of exercise, resulting in fat loss. However, eventually the rate of fat loss will plateau as the body adapts to the action of raising the arms 100 times a day. So, to encourage more fat loss we ask our fat friend to raise her arms above her head 200 times a day, and so on.
Although this example is taking things to an extreme level, the principle is the same for casual joggers. If you want to keep on improving your rate of fitness and fat loss, you have to continue to up the intensity to avoid a plateau, a process generally referred to as ‘overload’. You can increase the intensity by either running faster, further, up a hill or more regularly – the choice is yours.
If I want to build muscle, is it important to eat protein immediately after a workout?
A recent study of the more ‘mature’ adult demonstrated that those who ate a protein-rich meal immediately after training built more muscle mass than those who didn’t. Although a number of other studies have been carried out and demonstrate that protein consumed immediately after a workout may well be beneficial, research also suggests that if you want muscles then you have to be serious about protein all the time. Not just after, but also before training and during rest periods.
Having used gyms for years, I have witnessed many young lads produce bucket-sized cartons of protein shakes and polish off the contents before they’ve even showered in the belief that they have to quickly feed their fatigued muscles enough protein to feed the five thousand. Muscle growth is a gradual and on-going process, so although it is scientifically proven that eating protein straight after a workout is beneficial, it’s equally important that you eat protein regularly throughout the day to provide the body with sufficient materials to build more muscle.
As far as protein being the most important nutrient to eat after a workout goes, there is a general consensus that this is not actually the case. As much as Dr Atkins might have hated the word, carbohydrate is the essential nutrient needed to refuel the muscles after training so that you have enough energy for your next session. The insulin-producing effects of carbs are also hugely beneficial to bodybuilders: insulin is an extremely potent anabolic hormone, believed by some to be even more potent than testosterone.