What to Look for When Choosing a Fitness Program


Among the few silver linings of being stuck at home is the country’s sudden interest in working out and staying fit. It’s fuelled an already thriving occupation, which was projected to grow by 15% from 2019 to 2029. Yoga instructors, strength and conditioning coaches, and other fitness professionals have managed to stay busy over the past few months with their clients demanding more accessible workouts they can do at home. But with the rise of experts also comes a growing number of fitness programs to choose from. Picking the right one when there is a myriad of options can be overwhelming, especially when you don’t know what exactly to look for. We’ve come up with a list of questions that can help you choose the right training program for you:

Is the fitness instructor qualified?

As mentioned, the demand for qualified professionals in the health and fitness space is steadily increasing. Yet with so many “experts” out there how can you know who to follow? The best way is to take a look at their background. Look for degrees, diplomas, official fitness training courses, and work experience. It is also best to dispel preconceived notions of educational institutes and courses. Today, many instructors will have gotten their education and training online due to the increasing need for people to study in their own time through flexible courses. Those with an online degree in exercise science will study the same key foundations as a traditional course, including exercise prescription, strength and conditioning, and nutrition. You just need to check that the person offering the program has proof of their education, and research to see whether it is a reputable institute, degree, or course.

Does it align with your goals?

The goal setting process is the foundation of training of any kind. It can be something general like lose fat and build muscle, get stronger, improve athleticism, or a combination of all. You can also set more specific goals such as building muscle symmetry to avoid sports injury, which you can do with a range of isometric exercises. Maybe you want to get faster at running, build upper body strength or, more specifically, do 50 pull-ups in a row. Determining your goals, whether general or specific, helps to narrow down your choices of exercises you should be doing.

What kind of equipment and facilities does it require?

Not everyone has access to gyms, studios, and equipment. Keep this in mind when choosing a program or making your own as you might have to adjust your workouts to suit the tools available. For example, use resistance bands to replace weights or do sprints on the street or on a treadmill if the track is closed.

Will you be needing support?

Some people use their workout sessions as time for self-care and would like to be left alone. Some stay motivated with an accountability partner or a coach who can show them the ropes. Meanwhile, some people push harder in group workouts and attend classes that can keep them stimulated and competitive. It’s a personal preference. Consider how much support you will be needing because it can be a key factor to your success.

How will you measure progress?

A lot of people train for a competition or an event, which is what they use as a timeline for their program. Maybe you want to train for a road race in three months, a sports competition in three weeks, or an upcoming rock climbing trip with your friends in the summer. Those give you specific dates that you can build your training around. Even without these events, it’s still a good idea to find a program with a given timeline to check if you’re on track to reach your goals. Experts recommend measuring body fat percentage changes as well as cardiovascular endurance and strength rather than weight loss. After an eight-week program, track how these numbers have changed, or how much your sleep and food habits have changed which are also good measures of progress.

Is it enjoyable?

The last and most important question is: is it enjoyable? You need to consider how a training program will fit into your lifestyle — will it make you feel stressed or will it give you more energy? For it to be sustainable, exercise should never feel like a punishment. Another good way to check if a program is effective is if it genuinely gives you satisfaction from doing it and it improves the other aspects of your life.

Looking for a fitness program that works for you doesn’t have to be so complicated after all. A tool that ticks all of these boxes — and one that can help you get on the right track with your fitness goals — is Activ5. This isometric-based strength training device provides workouts designed by leading trainers, which are personalized to your fitness level and goals. As a portable and tech-enabled fitness tool, Activ5 is the perfect way to maintain motivation even with a busy schedule and measure sustainable progress over time.

Written by Anne Chinee Serene
Exclusive for products.activbody.com

Top 10 Isometric Exercise Benefits


Top 10 Isometric Exercise Benefits

Isometric exercises are proven to help build muscle, strength, balance and range of motion. Other isometric exercise benefits include stress reduction, improved mental health, assistance with yoga exercises and injury avoidance. Here are some of the specific isometric exercise benefits.

Lowers Blood Pressure

•             Isometrics have been proven to reduce systolic blood pressure better than aerobic and resistance training in some studies. – Mayo Clinic

Aids in Weight Loss

•             Isometric exercise benefits include reducing both body fat and weight. In a test group, some subjects lost as much as 22 pounds over a 4-week period. – Journal of Applied Research

Saves You Time

•             Using isometric exercise for 6 minutes would be the equivalent muscle work of 30 to 35 minutes on a commercial weight lifting equipment. – Journal of Applied Research

Reduce Overall Pain

•             Older adults experience significant reduction in pain subsequent to several different intensities and durations of isometric contractions. – Official Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine

Reduce Back Pain

•             Isometrics reduces pain and increases vitality among women with low back pain, with effects lasting at least 9 months. –  Journal of Physical Activity and Health

Improve Range of Motion

•             Regular isometric exercises have been shown to significantly improve range of motion. – Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research

Quit Bad Habits (Smoking)

•             Brief isometric exercise provides immediate relief in the desire to smoke. –Human Psychopharmacology Journal

Get Stronger and Bigger Muscles

•             Isometric exercise is associated with an increase in muscle bulk, upper and lower body strength, increase in bone density, and a decrease in bone fractures. – The Journal of Clinical Hypertension

 Benefits Over Aerobic Exercise

•             Stretching and aerobic exercising alone have proven to be a less effective form of training than isometric strength training. -Journal American Medical Association (JAMA)

Improve Stamina

•             Isometric strength training can have beneficial effects on performance during endurance events. -European Journal of Applied Physiology

Isometrics Can Improve Range of Motion


How Isometrics Improve Range of Motion

A sure-fire way to break through a strength plateau is to increase your range of motion. One of the most overlooked and underrated methods to do that is through isometric training. First discovered in the 1950s by researchers Hettinger and Muller, isometrics is where your joint angle and muscle length stay the same during muscle contraction. In essence, your muscles are working but you aren’t actually moving. Although you’re performing little to no movement, isometric training has been proven to increase muscular endurance, strength, and flexibility with surprising effectiveness. But one of the most interesting aspects of isometric exercise is its ability to increase range of motion. Why is this important, you ask? Let us count the ways:

By Increasing Flexibility

Regular isometric exercise significantly improves flexibility which, in turn, contributes to a better range of motion. In Barbosa et al., a resistance training program implemented for elderly women resulted in a significant increase in flexibility. In other words, resistance training without stretching itself increases flexibility all on its own. This result has massive implications for the rehabilitation and physical conditioning of our bodies as we approach the senior stages of life. A further study by Houssein Mohammadi Sanavi et al. found that hamstring muscles of the males in the test group were significantly improved after a six-week program combining isometric contraction with passive stretching. Yet, surprisingly, not only was flexibility increased but also the strength and endurance of the hamstring muscle. Which brings us to our next point…

By Improving Physical Performance

Put simply, isometric exercises will not only increase your flexibility but also make you stronger. A single daily isometric exercise at two-thirds maximum effort for six seconds increases strength by a whopping five percent each week. More curiously, research further revealed that static strength continued to improve even after the conclusion of a program. Not bad results for a week of rest. In Thépaut-Mathieu et al., it was also discovered that subjects had an improvement of muscle contraction at specific training angles that was greater than at other angles (not trained with isometric exercises). So you can be pretty darn confident that isometric exercises will increase flexibility, improve stamina, and produce muscles that are more adaptable, stronger and durable.

By Decreasing Risk of Injury

As flexibility increases and physical performance improves, athletic range of motion is a natural byproduct. You’ll gain a greater sense of coordination and be more able to bend, twist, and avoid injury due to your increased ease of motion. Moreover, since isometric exercise also increases muscular endurance and strength, you’ll be combating early fatigue. And we all know that fatigue is one of the biggest causes of injury whether due to decrease of mental capacity or simply because of clumsy limbs.

How Do I Start Isometrics?

Isometric exercises are straightforward and require no equipment, but it’s sometimes tricky to know where to start. If you’re looking for a bit of guidance, Activ5 is a fantastic way to easily incorporate isometric exercises into a busy fitness schedule. It pairs with your smartphone and coaches you through a full-body strength training workout. It makes integration of an isometric program a no-brainer. You can measure your strength level, gamify your workouts, and track your progress with ease.  That leaves you to just concentrate on your results – and sweating it out, of course!

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11834101

https://breakingmuscle.com/learn/working-at-a-stand-still-how-to-do-isometric-training

http://jap.physiology.org/content/64/4/1500

http://www.imedpub.com/articles/the-effects-of-maximum-voluntary-isometric-contraction-durations-in-pnf-training-on-muscle-performance.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15462615

The Benefits of Isometric Exercise and Portable Fitness Devices


For those who wish to continue their weight training while on the move, it can be difficult without the aid of a home gym. But with discipline and the use of a fitness device to track your heart rate and calories burned, the simplicity of location allows for an established routine. In turn, you can more effectively generate muscle growth. If you find yourself in this situation or working from home, you should consider isometric exercises because you can do them anywhere.

Isometric Exercise Tips

Gym memberships provide weight machines for the most common muscle exercises: concentric and eccentric contractions. With these, muscles shorten through lifting loads or lengthen through lowering loads. The third contraction, isometric, occurs through steady muscle tension (think the “planking” challenge). Without challenging the muscle to change its length, the body can activate multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Two-thirds of a person’s maximum effort performed for six second sets can increase strength by 5% over a period of ten weeks.

You can practice isometric exercise by using your body weight in exercises such as the squat, lunge, and push-up. Instead of completing a full-rep for these, pause halfway through your range of motion. This will work your agonist muscles as well as your antagonist muscles.

With a bench press and squat, you don’t need a load on a bar for your variations. Set the movement of the pins to the mid-range, and where a sticking point may occur, place a second set of pins. For power racks, set the pins at the next height. This exercise is also useful for a deadlift. Simply place more weight than usual for your one-rep and hold for six to eight seconds.

For additional convenience and coaching, consider a portable fitness device. It can track your progress and provide the necessary resistance to increase your strength and endurance.