What’s in your Program?

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No matter the goal the variables below are a must in your training program.

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Here are some of the most common terms in S&C defined.

This is how much work you have done or about to do for a specific exercise, session, block, or year. It is usually defined as sets and reps for a specific exercise, group of muscles, or session. Weight/tonnage is also factored in. For example, if you Deadlift 100kg 5 times, the volume for that set is 500kg. If you do that for 5 sets, the Volume/Tonnage would be 2500kg.

This is defined as the amount of weight you can lift in relation to your 1-rep max (The maximum weight you can lift on a particular exercise). E.g. If you can Squat 100kg for your 1-rep max, and you lift 75kg for your first set, the intensity for that set is 75%.

This is an essential component to program design and implementation. Without this data you are exercising and not training.

This describes the timing of three different phases of a lift/rep. Eccentric, Amortisation, and Concentric phases. This is expressed as three numbers.
E.g. 4-1-2. To perform a squat with this tempo, you would lower yourself to the bottom of the squat over 4 seconds, pause for 1 second in the bottom of the squat, and then stand up for 1 second.

Absolute Strength
This is the maximum amount of force that your muscles and produce in single contraction under involuntary conditions. It is extremely difficult to achieve in normal settings, including 1-rep max attempts. Absolute strength usually appears in life or death situations.

Maximum Strength
This is the amount of force your muscles can produce under voluntary conditions. This is most commonly measured through 1 rep max testing.

Relative Strength
This is the maximum amount of force your muscles can produce under voluntary conditions in relation to your body mass. E.g. you have two athletes. One weight 85kg the other weighs 77kg. The 85kg athlete can squat 200kg, the 77kg athlete can squat 190kg.

The 85kg athlete can more weight showing that they have more maximal strength (squatting 2.35 times their bodyweight) whereas the 77kg athlete squat 2.47 times their body weight, producing more force relative to their body weight.

Rate of Force Development
The speed you can reach max strength/force production. The faster your RFD, the more powerful you are. This is crucial to almost every sport.


Note: Obviously these may not always be present in every training session but these are some foundations that training is built upon.


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Lift Like Jess- Strength Performance Coach

Most of us have probably experienced this struggle along our fitness journey. We’ve gone on holidays, came back to training and pretty much sucked. This is called DETRAINING or DECONDITIONING and it is frustrating as hell. I’ve experienced this many times in the first couple years of my career so here’s some facts to help you make an informed decision about the breaks you take!

Many physiological changes start to happen once you stop exercising. Your hearts ability to move blood more efficiently begins to decrease as does your muscles improved ability to utilize oxygen and your body’s ability to metabolize carbs for energy (decrease in fitness). You’ll start to loose gains in muscle fibre size as well as other neuromuscular adaptions (strength and hypertrophy). Any improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar that were brought on by training will begin to disappear also.

How quickly detraining happens once you stop exercising depends on many factors such as age, how fit you are, how long you’ve been training, what type of training you had been doing and at what level. This is referred to as your “training age”. People who train intensely and have been quite fit/strong for a number of years will experience a much slower process of overall decline in comparison to someone with a younger training age.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, not training for as little as two weeks can cause complete detraining in some individuals. It can take up to 8 months for people with a higher training age. Most people saw a decline in fitness before strength. How quickly this happens varies from person to person. I’ve seen people that had been training for almost a year, at a recreational level, completely detrain after a 5 week holiday with no exercise and a fair bit of alcohol consumption. I’ve also seen clients that have been training less than a year come back after 5 weeks with noticeable fitness losses and only small strength losses.

The moral of the story is if you’re new on your fitness journey, plan to include some sort of exercise on your holidays if you want to minimize the effects of detraining. The longer you’ve been at it the less you’ll lose. It seems like it takes forever to make these strength and fitness gains and no time at all to lose it. Really, in the first few years, it’s true. Once you’ve put in your miles and converted to a healthy, active lifestyle for a couple of years you will start to reap the benefits more and more and actually NEED the breaks from training whereas people with a younger fitness age generally aren’t lifting at a high enough intensity or frequency to require deloading or breaks from training. Just to clarify, I’m not saying deloading needs to take the form of a flat out break from training but that is another topic. What I am saying is if your goal is to get super fit/strong and maintain it then you better be willing to put in the work. Particularly in the first couple years!

Lift Like Jess- Strength Performance Coach

LAB REPORT-365#54 Mental Battles of Rehab

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#54 Mental Battles of Rehab


Pre Surgery

Before I tore my ACL in Jan 2016, I was a super active human. I was training for my first Weightlifting Competition in March, I trained three times a week as a Quarterback and Wide Receiver for the Brisbane Blaze. My weekends would involve the swimming in the beautiful Queensland beaches, camping with the family, climbing mountains and we all know I loved to party.

Post Surgery

Within the first 3 weeks after surgery, I noticed a HUGE mental shift. I had myself wishing I could do all the things I used to do everyday, I constantly put myself down for getting injured by saying I wasn’t good enough, strong enough, fast enough, etc. I was angry, frustrated and anxious about almost everything I did. My self esteem was lower than ever. I had no confidence in my self, particularly in the fact that I was an injured coach.

I needed a total change of focus at this stage. So I did. Since coming back to the gym, I’ve found my niche market I want to target for my business and developed a positive and productive routine from the time I wake up to go to sleep every single day.

This is how I did it:

Put myself in a supportive, encouraging and empowering environment.
Set goals. One each for personal, lifestyle, financial, career and relationships.
Make lists. Every day I list what I need to do to chip away at each goal
Got a Mentor. Talk to the people who have what you want.
Healthy eating habits. It’s crazy how much good food has an impact on your mood!
There are a few special people to thank dearly for the continuous support but you know who you are.

In summary, I needed a drive to grow and by feeding off the positive environment around me and believing I deserved to improve, lead me to be able to squat well over my bodyweight seven weeks post surgery, change my whole focus on life and business and improve my relationships immaculately.

Follow my journey further:

Mikaela Briggs – Performance Coach

Photo Credit: Anthony Rap

LAB REPORT-365 #53 Fatigue Management

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#53 Fatigue Management


What is fatigue? In regards to training, fatigue is the state in which our performance is negatively impacted by stressors placed upon us. Fatigue can of course be caused by overtraining, however external factors such as lack of sleep, poor nutrition or stress can also play a significant role.

For those of us who have maintained a training cycle or program at a high level of intensity for a prolonged period of time, we will no doubt have suffered at some stage from fatigue. As an athlete, how do we recognize this occurrence of fatigue and appropriately manage it?

While there are numerous indicators of fatigue, here are some of the more basic and easily recognizable ones:

• Decreased performance (e.g. velocity or strength);
• Decreased work capacity;
• Reduced training motivation;
• Reduced appetite;
• Mood swings / disturbances; and
• Illness and injuries.

So what causes these symptoms and in turn fatigue in our training? Almost all the major external factors are within our control, or at the very least are able to be influenced by a disciplined athlete.

1. Poor or inadequate nutrition – Nutrition itself is a complex topic and specific nutritional advice (incl. meal plans) should only be provided by individuals with the appropriate qualifications and understanding of the athlete and their relevant sport demands. That being said, some basic nutritional facts that all athletes should acknowledge or adhere to include:
a. Fuel your body – If calories expended outweigh caloric intake, you will be in a calorie deficit. For most people, this will lead to underperformance and impact on fatigue. Your calories expended will be determined by intensity, length and frequency of training, as well as other activities throughout your day. See http://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/nutrition/factsheets/basics for some general guidelines.
b. Fuel your body with good food – Whole, nutritious foods such as fruit, vegetables, lean meats, grains and some dairy will not only benefit your health, but provide more effective, sustained levels of energy. While flexibility in an athletes diet is encouraged, avoid making processed food or foods high in sugars and unhealthy fats a primary nutrition source.
2. Inadequate sleep – For most athletes, 6 – 8 hours is the recommended amount of sleep. For those athletes whose activities outside of training are also labour intensive, a short nap or enforced rest period may be necessary. Where possible, avoid disruptive sleeping patterns and try to maintain a consistent schedule.
3. Stress – A factor sometimes outside of our control, minimising stress in our lives plays a big part in fatigue management. Typical sources of stress include work, relationships, or financial issues.
4. Overtraining – Inappropriately constructed training programs will sometimes lead to overtraining, burning an athlete out. Too much volume, repeated high intensity sessions with inappropriate rest, or prolonged training cycles with no de-load are all typical causes of overtraining.

While most of the above is common sense, many athletes believe they are immune to fatigue, or refuse to acknowledge the warning signs. If you’ve noticed a decrease in performance, or any other indicators of fatigue, it might be time to stop and evaluate your current situation – don’t let fatigue have an impact on your performance!

LAB REPORT-365 #50 Mobility “IS” your best friend.

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#50 Mobility “IS” your best friend.


How important is mobility? Do I have to stretch? How long should I spend doing it?

I often come across questions from individuals with joint pain, muscle aches, motor pattern deficiencies and recurring injuries. The first question I always ask them is always the same: how often do you stretch?

It’s crazy how many people overlook stretching as an aspect of training. It not only enhances performance in the gym, but all other aspects of day-to-day life. Whether it’s hitting that slot better in a squat, running without shin splints or standing without back aches; mobility is your best friend.

By taking as little as 20 minutes a day, up to 60 minutes, whether its on the foam roller, sitting on a trigger point or doing active stretching exercises, it’s easy to improve your mobility. Any of these methods will assist you in everyday life by helping your body feel more relaxed and enabling more efficient movement. Once it’s a part of your daily routine, you’ll wonder how you ever went without it!

If you’re inexperienced with mobility techniques and want to learn more or understand why it’s a necessity, come down to APL’s FREE Mobility seminar on the 16th of April.

And if you are currently not doing any mobility work on yourself – regardless if you consider yourself an athlete or not – then get up and STRETCH!

– Elvin Morataya

LAB REPORT-365 #48 The Importance of Active Rehabilitation

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#48 The Importance of Active Rehabilitation

An all too common story we see at APL or hear about through the grapevine is people being told to ‘rest’ in order to recover from an injury. Unfortunately, this mentality often hinders recovery and puts the client or athlete at a worse place than they were at prior to the injury.

When a client or athlete injures themselves, there are several general guidelines we recommend they follow:

1) Assess the injury – For minor muscle strains, it is unlikely you will need to see a health care professional. For more serious injuries (i.e. severe muscle strains / tears, bone fractures, dislocations or spinal injuries) consult with the relevant health care professional in order to confirm the extent of the injury, and establish a ‘baseline’ for you to work with in your rehabilitation.

2) Develop an active rehabilitation plan – This is where we feel a significant portion of people hinder their recovery. Rather than completely resting an injury, with no physical activity what-so-ever (unless strictly directed by your health care professional, and this should only apply to a handful of more severe cases), you should be developing a rehabilitation training program that has been modified to suit your injury and current abilities. This may involve reduced weight, reduced range of motion, or regressed difficulty in movements. When developing this training program, we always recommend you see someone with experience in rehabilitation through resistance training (and where possible, involve your relevant health professional). An important point to note is that a good rehabilitation training program should not lead to sharp, excruciating or severely increased pain; however you will experience some discomfort, as the rehabilitation process will actively seek to recruit the injured and supporting muscle groups in a modified and controlled way.

The benefits of active rehabilitation are numerous – when carried out properly, you will reduce the overall time it takes to recover and heal; you will reduce the amount of muscle atrophy that occurs; you will re-strengthen the injured area, and help prevent future injuries from occurring; and you can also reduce pain by simply moving the affected muscle groups, promoting blood-flow and reducing stiffness.

Again, to re-iterate – always ensure you see a relevant health care professional in the case of serious injury, and when developing a rehabilitation training program see someone with qualified experience. However, don’t be afraid to get back to training!

Callum McConnel

Lab Report 365 – #41 Do “rehab/prehab” exercises work?

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#41 Do “rehab/prehab” exercises work?

Whenever I see any of my athletes or patients for treatment, my number one form of treatment is exercise. How do we know which exercise to choose for rehabilitation? The exercises that makes them stronger.

The SAID principle is Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. In an overly simplified definition it means that the human body will adapt to what you do to it.

This means that I need to have a thorough understanding of the athlete/patient.
If my athlete is injured, then I need to choose the least painful exercise that challenges the painful movement/injured tissue. Then when they adapt to the exercise, I choose another one and/or load the exercise.

What about Prehab/mobility exercises like different forms of stretching or trigger point techniques for injury prevention?
If I have a patient who is untrained/deconditioned, then “traditional” rehabilitation exercises may fit the bill, but what about athletes who already have a great foundational strength? I need to think differently because these rehab exercises aren’t going to cut it. Why not? Because, these exercises won’t necessarily make them stronger. Why am I so insistent on strengthening people? Because people are weak. Do I sound harsh? Maybe, but if you understand what sort of peak loading occurs at each joint during simple jumps and landing, then you’ll understand why people (not just athletes) need to be strong in order to prevent injury and why we need to strengthen in order to rehabilitate injury.

In numerous studies (see reference list), we can find that in vertical jumping and landing, the peak loading in the knees, hips and ankles were about 6.9-9.0 body weight, 5.5-8.4xbody weight, and 8.9-10xbody weight. That seems like an insanely high amount of loading through the joints, how do we absorb such high forces? Our skeletal system provides the majority of support, however so does our muscular system. If we are not strong enough to absorb the aforementioned forces, then our risk of injury skyrockets. Think about it, if I weigh 85kg then, my ankles alone will need to absorb 850kg of force. If I am not strong, then I run a severe risk of injuring my ankles, or knees, or hips.

If I solely rely on my skeletal system to support and absorb forces, then the weakest link in the chain is going to give out. The weakest link could be any structure in the surrounding joint; muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones, you name it. Out of those structures the only thing we actually can control are our muscles. So train them. Train them to be strong and be strong in every position possible.

So to answer the main question, do “rehab/prheab” exercises work? Yes. If the exercises make your athlete stronger.

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Cheung, K., Hume, P. A., & Maxwell, L. (2003). Delayed onset muscle soreness. Sports Medicine, 33(2), 145-164.

Havelin, J., Imbert, I., Cormier, J., Allen, J., Porreca, F., & King, T. (2015). Central sensitization and neuropathic features of ongoing pain in a rat model of advanced osteoarthritis. The Journal of Pain.

Leatt, P., Reilly, T., & Troup, J. G. (1986). Spinal loading during circuit weight-training and running. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 20(3), 119-124.

Shelburne, K. B., Torry, M. R., & Pandy, M. G. (2005). Muscle, ligament, and joint-contact forces at the knee during walking. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 37(11), 1948.