There are certain types of training that seem to have become more and more popular over the last few years e.g. kettle bell training, Boot Camp, HIIT etc
Now I know that these types of training can be very effective for the right person. But that is the key point I’d like to make here – for the right person!
It seems to be increasingly popular for personal trainers to be applying these training techniques to all ages, genders and health conditions. They seem to have forgotten that not everyone wants to look the same, train the same and lose their individuality.
Personal Trainers always need to bear in mind that people are all unique. Our bodies all look different, our muscles all shape differently, are facial features are unique and so are our minds. We also have different ideals, lifestyles, jobs, aches & pains and commitments.
And people need to be trained accordingly.
Boot Camp originates from the military. It was designs to weed out any genetic weaknesses within potential young men & women when training to become an employed member of the armed forces. So basically the body is put through physically gruelling exercises, so that any physical or mental flaws will raise their ugly head and help the military trainers to only pass out the physical & mental elite.
Boot camp is an amazingly effective way to train your body & your mind if you are in perfect physical condition.
If on the other hand you have aches & pains, old untreated injuries, back ache, neck ache, dodgy knees. Or you are above 40 years of age and have never trained this way in your life. Then it is definitely one to avoid at all costs.
Let me explain why. Most aches and pains come from untreated injuries, bad postural alignment or lack of physical activity. When you then take up Boot Camp, it does not solve these issues, it makes them worse.
Most bad postural alignment comes from over stretched weak muscles fighting with over dominant short tight muscles. This is the most common cause of back pain, neck pain & poor posture. When you put your body through a regime that is gruelling and a massive shock to the system it will naturally allow the stronger muscles to dominate. So if you had a tight lower back it will just get tighter and even achier. Your posture will just get worse! So I highly recommend that you enrol on a course of Pilates or Yoga before embarking on your boot camp course. Correct your bodies alignment, get rid of your aches & pains first; then when your body is put under pressure from the Boot Camp exercises it will shape up balanced & lean, not tighter, bulkier and inflamed.
Everyone loves a physiotherapist when it comes to a sports or general injury. Now I am not saying that they are not effective, but from my experience (20 years of training various body types, injuries etc) there is a particular order in which to get your injury treated.
First of all, you must visit an Osteopath to have the shock removed from the Injury, otherwise the joint/muscle will constantly want to return to the position that you injured it in – simply because it is in shock and doesn’t know any better. This can be done easily within 1-3 sessions with a good Osteopath. Then you must rest the Injury for a good 2- 6 weeks for basic sprains and strains. Then seek out a good sports injury Pilates instructor, physiotherapist, massage therapist or sports therapist to help with strengthening your now rested injury. This will ensure that when you put the muscle/joint through its paces it will be in-line, in its strongest position and less likely to flare up again within the first 3-6 months. All of the above needs to be taken into account when taking up a Boot Camp class.
40 + and inactive:
Up until the age of 25, your body is porous with regards to knowledge and physical activity. Basically, if you’ve trained hard before the age of 25 – remember most military recruits are signed up under 25 for a reason. Then your body remembers this training through muscle memory. After the age of 35, there are more cells dying in your body than are being reproduced.
Bearing this in mind, if you haven’t trained boot camp style before the age of 40, then I do not recommend it. Your body has not been set up for this level of pace, endurance or gruelling physical activity. The amount of people I have trained, treated or just spoken to who have injured themselves in a Boot Camp class is rather on the high side. There are a lot more effective ways to train: strength training, Pilates, Power Yoga, Body pump, Body Jam, Spin; these are all great ways to get in shape.
Kettle Bell Training:
I love kettlebells! They are wildly effective and get you in shape quickly. The same issues apply here as with the Boot Camp training: age, postural alignment and old injuries. So please read the above section on Boot Camp training to see my recommendations.
The only other thing I would like to add to this Kettle Bell section is the poor level of instruction that I’ve seen over the years.
Firstly: there seems to be a lot of personal trainers who have been on a 1 day workshop and now feel that they are fully qualified to instruct you in the art of kettle bell lifting. Kettle bells were invented by the Russians to aid their farmers(first of all!) and then military in super strength conditioning. It is highly taxing on the back, knees and neck when instructed even slightly incorrectly. So please do your research into your personal trainer’s qualifications.
Rule of thumb: if you are only feeling it in your lower back or neck, you are either being instructed incorrectly or it’s not the right exercise for your body. So stop.
Secondly: I do no not recommend kettle bells for the female V shape body type – wide shoulders, skinny legs, weight forms around the waist. Kettle bells will make your bottom flatter and your shoulders wider- which is fine if that’s the look you’re going for! If you want a more feminine shape, I would recommend squats and walk lunges to shape the thighs and glutes; keep the weight heavy and the reps between 8-12, 4 sets. To shape your shoulders I would recommend dumbbell l lateral raises, press ups and seated row – low/medium weight high reps of 12-20, 4 sets. Keep the rest period short/heart rate high and the fat will melt off the waistline.
Kettle bells are great for the pear shaped lady. When performed correctly kettle bells will trim the lower body and develop the shoulders to create symmetry & balance; giving the illusion of smaller hips.
High Intensity Interval Training is a great time effective way to lose body fat. The same contraindications apply to HIIT as with boot camp and Kettle Bell training (see above). You must have NO injuries, you must be in good physical shape with at least 6 month training under your belt, you cannot suffer from any heart conditions or high blood pressure and if your posture is poor then do not perform HIIT training.
HIIT basically takes your heart from 50%MHR(Maximum Heart Rate) to 80-90%MHR in around 40 – 60 seconds. You then should recover for 2-3 minutes. This is repeated on average 5 – 6 times; which is why its time effective. You are asking your body, muscles & joints to perform under immense cardiovascular pressure. Unfortunately, when the heart rate goes up, the mind responds slower. So if you are performing high impact jump squats and you’re not in great shape, then you run a higher risk of injury because your mind will start to respond to body positioning slower e.g. rolled ankles, jarred backs, sore necks.
1. Always warm up your body correctly when performing HIIT – I would recommend at least 8 minutes.
2. Stretch out any dominant or uncomfortably tight muscle groups.
3. You should be aiming to max your heart rate( I do not recommend going above 85%MHR) within 40 seconds with 2-3 minutes recovery to follow.
4. Allow a 2-5 minute heart rate cool down, followed by a stretch.
My last point about Boot Camp, Kettle Bell and HIIT training is please don’t forget to keep your physical goals in mind at all times. If your physical goal does not mentally look like a Russian Power lifter, then why are you training like one? If you don’t want to have larger power trained muscles, then why are you performing HIIT sessions? Boot Camp – do you want to look like you’re in the military? If yes, then carry on. If you want a sleeker physique, then perform the training that brings about these changes. Try Ballet Barre, cardio/Pilates, body sculpting or power yoga. Remember to always keep your training style specific to the results that you require.