Archive for August, 2016

Is It Better to Lift Heavier Weights or Do More Reps?

August 28, 2016

Anyone who hits the weight room regularly will inevitably face the question: Should you add more weight and do less repetitions or use a lighter weight and do more reps?

The debate has raged on for as long as people have argued over cake versus pie (the answer is pie, obviously), but it’s not quite that simple.

The truth behind weight versus reps lies somewhere in between, but to paint a clearer picture, you have to understand why we ask this question in the first place.

A Worthy Villain: The Fitness Plateau

Once you’ve been following a fitness program for a while, you’ll eventually hit a fitness plateau—that dreaded no-man’s land where your body adapts to your routine, and you no longer make progress. It sucks, but it’s normal, and it happens to everyone.

One way to bust through the plateau is simply to change things up. This is where lifting heavier weights, adding more reps, or doing both (called a double progression) can shake up sleepy progress.

The Case for Heavier Weights

When you pile on the pounds, you typically lift on the lower end of reps (as few as 1-5 for some people). That doesn’t sound like much, but by doing so, you’re increasing your overall maximum strengthand greatly improving your ability to lift heavier weights.

Most of that newfound superhero strength is because you’re improving your efficiency at a given exercise. Think of how your bank account grows when you minimize unnecessary spending. It’s like that, and the more you practice restraint with a budget, the easier it is to save.

Lifting heavy weights feels awesome, but it’s easy to get sucked into chasing the numbers and running into a wall. Eventually, you’ll reach a point where you simply can’t add any more weight, and if you push it, you could compromise your form and put yourself at risk for injury.

“If you’ve increased your weight and now your form is breaking down, it’s best to drop the weight and then increase the number of reps you’re performing,” says Tanner Baze, a certified personal trainer.

Which brings us to…

The Case for More Reps

When you lift lighter weights for more reps, you are still getting stronger, just in a different way. You’re developing “muscular endurance,” or your ability to exert a certain amount of effort before you fatigue. Sure enough, doing more work (more sets and reps, more workouts, more overall bad-assery), will help you get stronger in the long run. Busting out more reps is also a challenging workout at a high-intensity level, which burns major calories and has a greater afterburn effect.

Plus, when you hit a plateau, adding reps instead of heaving more weight allows you to focus on proper technique and form and still leaves room for additional changes to your program, if necessary.

The upside of maintaining tip-top form is you end up really working the muscle as intended, not relying on a bunch of compensatory patterns (for example, letting your quads do all the work when your glutes are too weak) or potentially hurting yourself. One downside to this technique is that it may make your workouts slightly longer, as you’ll spend more time doing more reps.

Why Not Just Do Both?

Confusion about lifting heavier weights or doing more reps still lingers in the weight room because weightlifting and its effects on our bodies are often misunderstood, Baze says. Hint: It involves a lot morethan lifting super-heavy weight or banging out more reps in isolation.

You need a combination of muscle damage (that hurts-so-good soreness after a great workout), mechanical tension (the sheer strain of lifting something heavy), and metabolic stress (that “burn” you feel from your muscle really working). Both heavy-weight and high-rep training check those three boxes and will ultimately build strength. Plus, both methods require proper form, because without good technique, it doesn’t matter how much weight or how many reps you do, you could be risking injury.

“If your goal is just to generally get stronger and more fit, choose one or the other,” says Nathan Jones, a doctor of physical therapy student and strongman competitor.

For long-term progress and to keep things interesting, you can incorporate both heavy-weight, low-rep training and light-weight, high-rep training by switching up the sets and reps on different days or weeks (a technique known as periodization). “If you’ve been doing 5 sets of 5 squats and can’t add weight or get an extra rep, drop the weight and go to 5 sets of 8, or add weight and go to 3 sets of 5,” Jones says. Basically, imagine your sets and reps as a wavelength continuously going up and down.

There’s nothing inherently magical about changing things up this way. “Personally, I think it’s more psychological than anything,” Jones says. “Doing the same rep range every single time you lift gets boring. So doing something different helps you maintain motivation, and subsequently, keeps your effort high.”

The Takeaway

“There is no wrong decision here,” Jones says. When you lift more weight, add more reps, or do both appropriately with good form while keeping effort high, you’re nudging your body toward continually improved fitness and strength.

That said, when you add weight or make changes, do so in small increments. Your goal is to squeeze big results from little changes. It also helps to include a proper warm-up and cool-down.

“The single most important factor in your progress is your willingness to work hard and exert high effort,” Jones says. “So long as you’re doing more of something over time, you will get stronger.”

Mixing it up just a teeny bit to keep yourself motivated and to see progress—whatever your goal—will go a long way.

Article first appeared:
APRIL 28, 2016  |

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Lamp Kofta with Lemon

August 25, 2016



One Accessible Morning Practice to Launch our Day

August 21, 2016


Every morning is a fresh start. No mistakes have been made; nothing has gone “wrong.”

We get a blank slate every single morning of our lives.

The way we begin can determine our mood for the rest of the day, essentially dictating our conversations, actions and overall attitude.

The Maasai tribe of Tanzania greet each other every morning not by asking, “How did you sleep?” but rather, “How did you wake?” implying that yes, we are in control of how we handle the good, the bad and the annoying—every morning.

For those of us who occasionally wake up on “the wrong side of the bed,” we are in fact making a decision about whether or not we want to use that as an excuse for an ensuing bad mood for the remainder of our waking hours.

Everyone I know starts their day in a different way.

Some people get up and immediately jump on Facebook or Instagram to see what overnight love they received. Others wake up and switch on the news first thing (which, let’s face it, isn’t going to put us in a good mood these days), and others wake up ungodly early to run 10 miles while it’s still dark outside.

One friend of mine who lives in New York City even went so far as to downsize in space, but pay more rent, so as just to have the tiniest balcony where she could stand in the morning, looking over her neighborhood while sipping tea, knowing that she needs those few minutes of quiet time to take on the day and the big city.

For me, traveling for work and being on location a couple times each month, every morning is completely different. I’ve learned to create a morning ritual for which country, time zone and sleeping arrangement don’t matter.

I could be waking up next to a camel in a desert camp of Morocco, on the floor of a bus station in Bolivia or beneath the down comforter of the Kempinski Resort in Jordan—and still I’ll be able to start my mornings the same way.

It’s simple: I disconnect in order to reconnect.

I put my phone on airplane mode before I go to sleep, so when my alarm goes off in the morning, I’m not distracted by any notifications.

After I turn off the alarm, I put my phone away for the next hour, leaving technology to be dealt with after I’ve had “me” time. (The idea is to disconnect from all screens or devices so that we can reconnect with ourselves.)

Some people may use this time to pray, journal, color or do a few sun salutations. There are many ways we can push the reset button.

Personally, I use this time to observe nature. Wherever I am in the world, I will go outside and sit. If outside isn’t available for some reason, I’ll sit in front of a window.

I begin by greeting the world, paying deliberate attention to whatever birds, trees or wind are surrounding me as I address the earth with,

“Good morning Pacha Mama. I acknowledge you. I appreciate you. I respect you. And I will do everything in my power to protect you and treat you right today.” 

Then I sit, with the intention being fully present for 15 to 20 minutes.

Some days it’s easier to meditate than others. Sometimes my eyes stay closed for only 10 seconds—and some days for 10 minutes. If meditation doesn’t come easily that day, it becomes a “morning of awareness,” where I close my eyes and just listen to the sounds around me. If my eyes continue to drift open, I allow it. For me, observing the world of natural beauty around me instills a feeling of peace.

I believe we can all get this same peace from morning quiet time.

In this current age of pervasive technological availability, I have found it critical to my mental health, daily attitude and personal and professional relationships to consciously disconnect from screens at the start of the day.

Choosing to disconnect from digital buzz allows space for internal clarity and calm. For one hour every morning, we can consciously reconnect with ourselves before launching into the day.

Author: Elizabeth Gottwald
Article sourced here:

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Broccoli Soup with Pine Nuts

August 18, 2016



Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Breakfast Pork Patties

August 11, 2016



Diastasis Recti/abdominal separation – stretching of connective tissue.

August 7, 2016

I was at a party recently telling a woman- what I do for a living. When I got to the part about helping women recover from diastasis recti – she shook her head indicating I had lost her on those words. “You know- mummy tummy, mamma pooch. When your abs separate post partum and you always look pregnant even though you are not.” Now the lady looked scared. “Separate post partum?” She had never heard of that and it sounded awful. What happens to your guts? She wanted to know.

This conversation is not a new thing. Many if not most women have never heard that your abs can separate during pregnancy. However what was shocking about my encounter with this woman is that she discovered right then and there, at this party that she herself has a diastasis recti. Yes I had her lay down and gave her the quick 20 second test on her abs and sure enough they were separated at the midline. Needless to say she was shocked and a bit angry. Shocked that no doctor had ever given her an explanation for her “mummy tummy” and angry that there was a solution out there that didn’t involve surgery and no-one had ever told her. All these years she thought it was just what happened when you had a baby. Your belly stayed “saggy,” as she described it.

Before I get to the “fix,” I just want to clear up some definitions because “mummy tummy,” “jelly belly,” and “mamma pooch” are not my favorite terms nor are they scientific. (And no, this does not have to come with the territory of pregnancy. And yes, men get it too.) Diastasis Recti (referred to as DR) is where there 2 halves of your abdominal muscles have separated creating a gap in your midsection, making it seemingly impossible to regain core strength much less feel good in a bathing suit. It sucks. It can feel awful, frustrating and like your body has totally let you down. Many women feel body shame and it is no wonder so many resort to surgery with the extreme pressure to toned, fit and thin that prevails.




Plastic surgery statistics tell us that over 100,000 people are getting abdominoplasties every single year. Proving that one of women (and men’s) most coveted physical real estate is the tummy. Invoking mama earth, desire, fertility, sexuality and a svelte silhouette all at once is a heavy load to carry in our midsection. It’s also often the area we are hardest on ourselves as mother’s. Many women post partum work feverishly to do 1000 crunches, bootcamp and cardio blasts to get a flat tummy again. For women with diastasis recti, these things can actually make it worse and not better!

Diastasis Recti is usually fixable but it requires a different approach than you might be used to.

I have worked with hundreds of women with a diastasis recti and I can tell you that it is not a death sentence. Our exercise culture and fitness world loves to blame things. You are overweight because you eat too much, you can’t get thin because of your metabolism, and your mummy tummy is from pregnancy and childbirth. These myths and lies have us aiming for perfection rather than fostering healing.

The first part to closing the gap (the term used to describe fixing a DR) is giving up on the goal of a perfect body as seen in mass media and recognizing that what your body needs most right now is a re-educating of sorts. Most wear and tear injuries like DR have a root cause. Rather than focussing on ways to get a flat belly as fast as possible, I highly recommend you to look why you have a DR. DR is caused by too much pressure in our abdominals.

The real question is: Where is the extra pressure in the abs coming from?

The common culprits to extra abdominal pressure are: body alignment- the way you stand or sit all day can put a lot of extra pressure on your abs; use/overuse/misuse of muscles can also create extra pressure; and one of the main culprits that always surprises people is your breathing patterns. A belly breathing pattern once again puts a lot of excess pressure on your abs. Once you peg the root causes and go about resolving the muscle imbalances, your breathing patterns and alignment of your body- your diastasis recti should get better and with the right exercise program- you can close the gap and build a functional core.

The second part of the closing the gap healing process is to realize that diastasis recti is not a death sentence because it can be an opportunity to practice self love, acceptance and compassion. We have been brainwashed into how our bodies “should” look- hard, toned and slim. (We are often not told that hard, toned and slim does not equal healthy and balanced.) Embracing health is not unlike any other emotional issue – it means accepting where we are at first, the choices we made to get here and then looking at creating a healthy relationship with ourselves again. The path to embracing your body rather than shaming it and having unrealistic expectations can lead to a more rewarding overall experience.

Just as there’s no cheat-sheet for parenting, the same goes for loving and accepting our post baby bodies no matter how many years it’s been. If you have tried the get-thin-quick, have-a-flat belly-fast programs only to find that they do not work for you try getting to the root cause of the imbalance and then search for some online communities that support a restorative approach. Having a supportive community of like-minded women who are on the path to healing helps as we find our way back to the trust we once had in our physical bodies. Knowing that the only death sentence we face, is the one where we don’t change our perspective on how bodies “should” look.

Join Lauren’s private FB group for practical tips, videos and articles for all things post baby body related: Restore Your Core.

Healthy Inspirations Recipe of the Week – Stuffed Calamari

August 4, 2016



Glen Barnett discusses Exercise as Medicine

August 2, 2016


Here is a concept that I really want you to consider, I want you to view exercise and being active as medicine, a dose of goodness to manage your health, weight and wellness.  It has been proven over and over that as a preventative measure to ill health and as a ‘cure’ for a lot of ailments, exercise is the best medicine around.

So if we know that this ‘medicine’ called exercise can have such a positive effect on our well being then why isn’t everyone taking their daily dose?   Who knows maybe fear, laziness or indecision?  Here’s some help.

Start with a goal and see your goal as being your dessert – something you’re really looking forward to but you need to earn it.   Get to your goal in small bite size pieces. If your goal is to drop 20kg then plot some smaller increments in your calendar rather than the big figure down the track.

Make sure you get your exercise dosage correct so get some guidance.  It is important to know how much exercise should be ‘absorbed’ to give you the maximum benefit for your goal.  Exercise should be prescribed in a specific dose you know that works for you including type, intensity, frequency and duration.  Definitely sample different types of exercise medicine, until you’ve found what ‘medicinal remedy’ fits best with you or is easiest to swallow.   Basically make sure the exercise you ‘take’ is something you enjoy and something that is going to help you get to your goal.

Make a commitment to your health, yourself and your future. Taking a daily dose of exercise medicine in some way nearly every day will lead to a positive lifestyle change and a very healthy habit

So if you decide you want to get a dose of one of the best medicines for your health, call me, “Dr” Glen, at Coffs Coast Health Club on 66586222 and we can organise a FREE prescription to get you started.