Friday, October 30, 2015

When Injury Strikes: To Train or Not To Train

Life is full of adventures. And if you like adventures, no matter how much you want to live an injury free life, you are bound to face one sooner or later. Learning to accept it, is half the battle won.
Injury is a part and parcel of an athletes life. If you ride a bike, you will skid someday. When you surf waves, you will washout someday. Similarly, when you train, you will have an injury someday. Its a part of the lifestyle. And we take it in our stride. But sometimes injuries also come from factors not related to training - like an accident, surgery, sickness etc. Irrespective of where the injury comes from, what comes along with it is the eternal question - TO TRAIN OR NOT TO TRAIN. And the answer is not a oneliner, I'm sorry. Its much more complicated than that - atleast for someone who really is an athlete or for whom, training is a lifetime lifestyle and not just a one time 'lose weight quick' project.

Recently, I was at my strongest and on a quest to get stronger. I had hit 2 back to back PRs and was very excited about attempting new ones soon. BUT, calamity struck and my passion for motorbiking took a small toll on me. My motorbike brakes failed on a slope and my bike skid - and i tore my hamstring and injured my ITB while trying to stabilize the skid. As a result, my left leg was bandaged and completely out of action for a week. So i faced the same dilemma once again. But luckily for me, there is a set of principles i follow when it comes to training and i have long learnt to take injuries in my stride. It's very important to remember that as an athlete, your most important competition and duty is with and to yourself. And if you know this, you can stay calm, not lose your cool and follow these simple principles to tide you through:

1. RECOVERY COMES FIRST
That is THE ROCK. And that too in an over the top action movie. Even he would advise against such stupidity in real life.
Whether you were sick or injured, your first priority is RECOVERY. Do all it takes to help it heal. Let it heal completely. Don't stress it. Don't fall for the bullshit movie drama where they show the protagonist training despite injury and winning shit. The rock tears off his bandages from a fracture and goes back to fight the bad guys saying "sorry, daddy's got to go to work." in FAST AND FURIOUS 7.  In real life, that shit doesn't happen. In real life, daddy would be fucking screaming in pain and end up with a necrosis due to the unhealed bone poking into the flesh and blood underneath. Yeah. 
You need to do whatever it takes to recover. It wont hurt if you dont workout for a week. But if you haven't recovered and you push yourself to workout and injure another muscle or worsen the injury, you're only going to regret it. I've been there, and it stinks. Relax. Breathe. If its an injury - physio it, move-heat-compress-elevate, keep the nutrition levels high, take your meds and listen to the doc for a few days atleast. 

2. TRAIN WHAT YOU CAN
Kaizzad Capadia pointing out the phenomenal unilateral leg development of Sham Singh Shera - A polio afflicted bodybuilder from India.
Once the recovery is in progress, get back to training what you can. WITHOUT STRESSING THE INJURED MUSCLE/BONE/JOINT. If you have injured your legs, train the upper body on days you can. If you have injured the upper body, train the lower body on days you can. 
For eg: I have injured my left leg hamstring and ITB. So after a week of full rest and being off diet and on meds and bandages, I will be training my upper body every alternate day. Since the ITB and hams are injured, i will be avoiding structural movements and sticking to isolation movements for a change. The whole objective is to get some workout in without stressing the injury and allowing it to heal. Anything that causes SHARP PAIN (not soreness) will be avoided. And any workout that does not cause sharp pain will be done.
By doing so, when you are finally capable of making a full comeback to your workouts, you won't be starting from a full zero. All your hardwork done prior to the injury will be preserved in great measure and then you can focus on rebuilding the injured muscles/parts. 
Remember, when people with polio like bodybuilders NIZAR DAWOODANI and SHAM SINGH SHERA can build spectacular physiques without having full function of their leg, you don't really have an excuse. If they can do it, so can you. 

3. EAT RIGHT TO PRESERVE MUSCLE AND STRENGTH
A real athlete never compromises on his protein. Ever. 
Injury and sickness and the rest period that follows often includes muscle and strength loss. But it need not be so. Its understandable to take a few days off diet to relax and unstress from the injury/sickness. Its ok if you have to go off-diet because you can't eat certain foods while you are sick. (Remember - recovery first). But after that, get back on a high protein diet if you can. I personally stay on the ketogenic diet. The 1:1 ratio (Protein:Fat ratio in grams) ketogenic diet has shown to preserve musclemass/avoid muscle loss - Various studies support the muscle preservation function of high fat diets. And during the lull period post an injury, thats the prime objective while recovery takes its time - to preserve and salvage all the skill, muscle and strength you can till you can get back to training completely.
Note: The ketogenic diet being anti-inflamatory also helps avoid inflamation of the injured tissues and the ketogenic diet involves cutting out sugar from the diet which also reduces inflammation and alleviates pain and therefore makes the injury less painful.

4. WHEN YOU COMEBACK, TAKE IT SLOW AND STEADY.
Stay away from illiterate 'DRAGO' coaches who just want to push you without concern for your safety and health.
Don't get back to training and be all ROCKY BALBOA on day one. Chill you pants and calm your titties. Remember that you are just out of an injury. Test the waters first. See what hurts and what doesn't - or if any pain still persists. Start from scratch if you must and gradually increase to a point that you are familiar with. It wont be worth anything if you got back to training and went straight back to the hospital. Your body may have healed, but you still might have a persisting weakness, a scar tissue, a fibrous tissue, a newly restructured bone - so go easy on it. Remember to pace yourself for the long run and not for a sprint. Keep your eyes on the long term and keep trudging on. And you'll be back to your old PR beating self again if all goes well.

Remember these principles, and you will wade out of your injury/sickness/lull period soon, strong and resilient. I wish you good luck and great strength!
Pushkaraj S Shirke
Founder and Director, BattlereadyX
Psychology Graduate, Film Maker, Ad man
K11 Trained Fitness Consultant - Training, Nutrition & Strength Training and Conditioning
Creative Director - THE STRONGEST INDIAN
India's Leading Fitness Photographer
Author GET STRONG, GET LEAN and Project Battleready







Thursday, October 29, 2015

The 'No Pain No Gain' Bullshit in Training


Are you one of those poor souls who have joined a gym where the membership fee costs a bomb? And then unfortunately hired a personal trainer who beats his/her chest about torturing you with 50 jumps, 50 front kicks, 3 minutes on the treadmill, 50 burpees, 50 walking lunges, 50 crunches. And repeat till you finally wuss out in pain?

Whaaaaat? Your mind is screaming, body hurting and breathlessness is beginning to take over. Yet, you hold fast to your determination and chant to yourself, ‘No pain, no gain.’
You allow the torture to continue, beg to sip water, maybe catch a breath and finally kill that hour (not the trainer). You reassure yourself that it was all worth it because you achieved your fitness goal of the day. 


Well, I have been observing you and your trainer working out. While I appreciate the dedication, I do have some questions for you.
Why would you spend more than a lakh to do what you can do in a park? 

How has joining the gym and hiring the trainer added value to your fitness goals? 
Or, have you even figured out, what are your fitness goals?

Most people are clueless about their goals. So the question still stands. What do you want fitness to empower you to do?
Most people would want to look good and get added benefits of quality of life improving through their fitness routines to b the basic fitness goal. Now would a workout like the one previously described be optimum for losing fat, providing the best cardio output or making you pain free and strong?
The answer is unfortunately a resounding NO.


As the trend of fitness causes the number of gym-goers to rise, so does the number of innocents who are sold workouts packaged as the path to fitness but without any real benefits. Maybe, we don’t even know enough about fitness to set specific fitness goals. We delegate this understanding to our seemingly knowledgeable trainers. We are the same people who demand our money back from producers if a movie fails to entertain; yet, how is it that we leave fitness – a crucial part of the quality our lives –  without asking any questions or getting any answers? How is it that we allow someone to sell us something that gives us almost nothing? Ignorance does not justify or account for the money, time and effort blindly pumped into this farce sold to us in the name of fitness.


We believe in the value of purity. We strive to ensure that anything we buy is unadulterated. We do this by trying to understand the substance we plan to purchase. Fitness is no different. To understand fitness and fitness goals, we must begin by unpackaging these concepts to understand them in their pure forms.
We must first understand the components of fitness:



Musculoskeletal Strength: 

The ability of muscles and joints to generate power against resistance/load  to perform a movement in a given time frame.
You will be strong and painfree or weak depending on this component of fitness. To build your musculoskeletal structure, you must include activities that challenge this structure, such as free weights. How do you select the weights that are right for you to work with? The answer is simpler than you ever imagined! Any weight that allows you to perform more than 8-10 repetitions (while following the right form and technique of the exercise) is not challenging for you. You should transition to the weights that make these repetitions challenging, and thus beneficial in the long run. This is essential in achieving fat loss goals by increasing your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).


Cardiovascular Endurance:

The capacity of the heart to perform by transporting oxygenated blood for an activity for longer time ,without fatiguing. This is commonly referred to as stamina.
Activities like running, swimming, cycling and kickboxing performed for at least an hour a day build cardiovascular endurance.









Muscular endurance

The capacity of the group of muscles to perform at less effort
(sub maximally contract) to perform an activity for longer time  without fatiguing.
This component is always specific to the activity. One should pick a cardiovascular training activity according to the sport or activity one likes or plays due to this characteristic of this component.
Example: Priya swims for an hour, thrice a week. She achieves cardiovascular endurance regardless of which cardio activity she performs, but muscular endurance will be developed only of the muscles at work during swimming. 
So Priya will not be able to run as well as Jui, who practices running for an hour thrice a week. One more very important point to keep in mind is Musculoskeletal strength and Flexibility will not be achieved through this activity.
Since Priya does not include weight training in her routine , she may not be able to sustain swimming after a few months as she might experience aches and pains due to weak Musculoskeletal structure in her shoulders, knees, back etc.
Hence Strength training must be the base of your fitness routine so that you can follow the sport of your choice.


Flexibility: 

The ability of the muscles to maintain full range of motion around the joints. Activities like yoga and stretches help achieve flexibility. A lot of daily activities or parts of your fitness routine can become extremely uncomfortable,  painful and unachievable if this component is overlooked.














Ideal Body Composition

The ability of the body to maintain the correct ratio of fat to muscle. This is achieved when you strive to achieve the previous components and support your workout with good nutrition.


All these components can be achieved through constant and steady progression. For that you will have to constantly review and progress through changing the intensity of that activity. When you repeatedly perform certain movements, they become easier for you causing your effort levels to drop. To maintain the intensity of your workout, you should make your workout harder as you progress. This will maintain effort levels and increase the performance

Example:  If Jui performs 10 repetitions of squats with 20kgs and runs 4kms in an hour, she must now try to perform 10 repetitions of squats with 25kgs and run 4.5 kms in an hour and progress .


AN ANALYSIS OF A WORKOUT: 
So, now that you are familiar with the components of fitness, let’s examine one of the movements in the previously mentioned workout.
50 walking Lunges:
Muscular StrengthNegative, as it is not sufficiently challenging because you can easily complete more than 10 repetitions .
Cardiovascular enduranceNegative, as it requires longer duration (at least an hour) of time to be developed.
Muscular enduranceNegative, as it  requires longer duration( at least an hour) of time to be developed.
Flexibility- Negative, as  this  does not explore the range of motion for a specific period of time to lengthen  the muscle.


Ideal body composition – the aesthetic, beautiful body of your dreams – also stays Negative as you have not tried to achieve any other component .


You  should set your goals according to what you want out of your fitness routine. Goals must be set, to progress each day and to achieve each of these components in their pure forms. Without such goals in mind, any activity becomes boring, giving you a reason to pay the trainer to make you do the things you don’t need training for! Now, equipped with a basic understanding of fitness, define your goals, set new records and emerge as the new you!
Pain, sweat and breathlessness is not a benchmark for how much you can gain from a workout. Knowing what you are doing it, doing it with purpose and in a way that will yield genuine results is what really counts in training. Pain is not always a measure of effort - most of the times its just proof of training with bad form and technique, over fatigue and over training, unnecessary cortisol buildup and even injuries. 


So focus on working out. Focus on Training. And don't get swayed by the zillions of morons online with relentless selfies screaming crap like 'no pain. no gain'. A real athlete focuses on performance, longevity and efficiency, not on pain. So no matter who you are in life, but when you train, train like an athlete if you want results like one.

Note : Definitions have been referenced from K11 Personal Training Manual. Page nos 1,2,3,4,5,6 .

Jui Inamdar
Pilates Master Trainer, Strength Training Coach,
K11 Master Trainer and Sports Nutritionist.
Jui is a faculty member at the reputed K11 Academy of Fitness Sciences and a personal trainer, coach and consultant by profession. An Avid cyclist, adventure travel fanatic femme who loves partying as much as she loves training, loves Bollywood but only on the dance floor and loves dogs no matter where they are.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Power of Purpose in Building Results




‘If you’re not working with purpose, you’re doing it wrong.’  
The quote is pretty true whether we refer it to the purpose of your professional life, personal life or be it simply your training.

Why write about PURPOSE? Is it not the most basic of all things? and what is it got to do with training oneself or training your client or for the Fitness Industry as a whole?
Ok let me tell you 2 small examples out of many that I have seen in the Fitness Industry.


1st example:
Some months back, a woman in her early 30s enrols for a gym membership. She was overweight and her obvious intention was to lose fat and become strong as she ages. She was very serious to achieve fat loss. It’s been over 6 months one would only see the lady attending freestyle aerobic classes, Zumba, group activity classes and on the days of personal training she practices her kick boxing and some functional activities with her trainer. Probably, she just enjoys that routine.


2nd example:
A 24 year old man, one of my acquaintances joined a gym near his house more than a year ago. In his 20s like most boys he wanted to be strong and have aesthetic body eventually.  I happen to speak to him few days back and came to know he was too bored with the gym type of setup and finally is only continuing MMA classes he used to attend and strongly believes he will eventually be relatively stronger and better looking.

Here, I do see problem with the individuals and their purpose but a bigger problem I see is lack of purpose with the trainers, the gym management and mindset of the people about fitness.  

Fitness Industry is the industry where the consumer most of the times do not know what they want  and what they really need or let me put it this way, for many reasons they don’t know what is best for them. So then, whose responsibility is it to help them define their purpose and guide them correctly to achieve it?


CORRECT COUNSELLING:
Fitness Industry is a part of the service industry in most countries like India. It is the responsibility of the people working in the industry itself to cater the right and purposeful service to the consumer. Whether you are a Trainer, Nutritionist, MMA Master Trainer, Zumba Instructor or a Sales Representative or the senior management; it’s our responsibility to genuinely guide a client. Kindly understand that I am not against people doing ZUMBA / Aerobics classes / Group classes / MMA etc. However, I see the big problem if these services are being sold in the name of fat loss, building muscle and/or functional strength. It is equally the responsibilty of an individual to seek out genuine fitness counselling before entering any programme, but thanks to the media and abundance of ignorance about fitness sciences, it can often be misleading as to who is a genuine counsellor and who is a sham. So once again the onus is on genuine fitness service providers to provide this distinction to their patrons with sound counselling and advice that is based in genuine science and not in gimmicks.

CHOOSING PURPOSE OVER SHORT-TERM BENEFITS:
Any physical activity will surely help people use their energy and burn calories. But what most fitness facilities often do is herd people towards group activities that are more profitable for them - or do not counsel a member who might be going for an activity that does not suit his or her goal just because it comes in the way of short term profits. Fitness Professionals have to understand the purpose behind doing an activity and as professionals of the fitness industry, one should advice what would provide optimal results towards the purpose of the client and give them the correct services or experience. Please understand people are not fools or guinea pigs. Eventually they will find what is working or not working for them and in most cases where they have been conned into a regimen, they will give up shortly and then blame the entire fitness lifestyle for their personal failure. 

USING PURPOSE TO MAINTAIN FOCUS:
When an individual has a well defined purpose and has been well counselled on how to get there, it is unlikely that he/she will sway to fancy marketing gimmicks, short bursts of pleasure that can damage the results, bunk the training and indulge in things that will be detrimental to the achievement of his/her goals. Which means that they will attain their goals successfully. And once an individual has seen results, its very unlikely that they will stray ever again. And once the results have been delivered time after time, you form a bond of trust that overpowers any amount of fancy marketing gimmicks that can be put out there. Raising your value as a professional/service provider and the client's own sense of self accomplishment and sense of pride that comes with the acquisition of genuine knowledge. 

Let’s broadly have a look into the reasons or PURPOSE(S) why people train or indulge in physical activities etc.

1.       Lose fat

2.       Build endurance, strength and hypertrophy

3.       Look good

4.       Sports specific or skills specific (eg. Soccer Player,  MMA fighter)

5.       Interest, fun, Personal challenge and enjoyment (eg. Calisthenics, Zumba, Dance etc.)

We can say the purposes numbered 1 to 3 will be majorly achieved by a good strength and endurance training plan complimented by the right nutrition plan.
Purposes 1, 2, 3, are often NEED SPECIFIC and are generally not realised by the consumers in the fitness industry.
However, beyond that if person also wants to or has a purpose towards the number 4 and 5; specific skill building activities should be planned around the specific needs of the individual and not vice-versa.


After you read this article, whether you are one of the consumers of the fitness industry or one of professionals within the fitness industry or both, just keep PURPOSE on the top of the mind while choosing a training regime. This will keep you focused and much more capable of achieving results by avoiding straying away from your goals. This will do you a lot of good, and to your clients and business itself too. And in the long term it will also foster respect for you and your services as a professional and contribute to the positive growth of the fitness industry and lifestyle. 



Hanoze Hoshang Malesra
MBA, K11 Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Club Manager
An HR professional turned Fitness Professional. Yo-yoed between being a skinny kid to an obese teenager to again a skinny college boy to finally a fitness professional who used his knowledge to turn himself into a fit human being who Deadlifts 2 times his body weight and squats & bench presses 1.25 times the body weight and is still improving. Armed with personal experiences and scientific knowledge, he has a passion for Strength Training and a penchant for counselling clients requiring dire fatloss and muscle gain.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

How to Write a Good Article: The 7 Rules

 

With Social media and networking sites becoming more and more popular, good article writers are becoming a dying breed. Journalism is getting shittier and shittier by the day. Click Baiting headlines and crappy, populist topics discussed in the most un inspiring, ungenuine, crass manner possible have become quite the norm. But even in this shitstorm of 'likes for tits' and 'shares for laughs' era of journalism and literature, good writing does hold its own place. And it's a respectable place indeed. 

If your intention is to write click baiting shit, skip this page now and get on to your 9gag or porntube or whatever you were fapping to. But if your intention is to write credible, worthy articles, that will stand the test of time, reach out to help a genuinely interested audience and earn you some respect not from the millions of fappers sitting on their mobile devices and laptops with only one hand on the keys, but from peers, clients and true knowledge seekers, THIS IS THE ARTICLE YOU NEED TO READ. That does not mean you can't write funny or include memes and some funnies. Hell, the best writing in all of literature is the one that can make you laugh even at your own misery. And the best advertising too is almost always made memorable by humour - but yes, you need to place it well and always keep it relevant. Use humour as a tool to drive in your point if needed, but dont make it all your article is about if you even want to keep a shimmering hope of being taken seriously. 

So now, let's cut the crap, and get to the meat of this article.
From all my experience in writing for ads, blogs, magazines and media, I have gathered that There are SEVEN RULES or essentials to writing a good article:

1. CHOOSE YOUR TOPIC AND TITLE CAREFULLY
That's obviously without stating the fact that you need to KNOW the subject you are writing about, thoroughly. If you don't know shit, don't write shit. It will only make you look like an idiot, maybe for eternity on the webspace. As I'm presuming you understand this 'knowing your topic'  as a basic necessity of writing an article, I will move on.

Pick a topic that genuinely needs discussion or answering. Pick a topic that bothers you or your friends or students. Pick a topic that hounds your brain. And then, put it in those very words as simply as possible - keeping the title below 7 words if you can (coz by the widely accepted and definitely proven theory of 'chunking' in psychology, 7 units is the far end of the human minds memory and retention capacity - a guideline often followed to the tee by good advertising copywriters). Keep your title humble, real and far away from exaggerations and over promises.
That topic which you have now carved out of chaos, will be the foundation stone and the flag of your article. 


2. INTRODUCE INTRESTINGLY

Then comes the body. Don't just jump off into the droles of information you have in your head.
Your first line, your first para - that's the hook to your reader.
It is also what establishes the purpose of the reader investing his/her time in reading on. Make sure you make it clear what the reader stands to benefit from reading your article. You could also draw attention to your article by providing an insight that cannot be refuted or an anecdote that makes an interesting read. 


3. BREAK IT DOWN THOUGHTFULLY
Social media has reduced the attention span of people more than you think. Even active readers find themselves wandering away from proses that get too long on a lit up screen. 
Simplify your subject matter and break it down into small sets of useable information. 
Exactly like I'm doing with this article. Don't trivialise your subject. Don't over intellectualise it. The true skill lies in finding that balance between length and brevity. With practice you will learn how much is too much and where to cut short. But you wont get practice unless you start writing. So, please do.


4. SPEAK IN RELEVANT PICTURES
We humans have become increasingly visual dependant. Our attention span drops without images to break the monotony of words. But, it is also true that a relevant image speaks better than a million words can. So if you can illustrate your point with an image or illustration or video, please do. Utilize the incredible array of media the modern world has given you.  If you are writing a fitness article for example, support your words with images from your workout or training regime or whatever you are talking about. It also serves to show that you are not just a yapper, but indeed a doer. 
If you can't provide pictures, atleast use JOHNSON BOXES - or separations in your text. That helps your prose to not look like an endless sermon and allows people to quickly focus on whats important even at just a glance. 

5. PROVIDE REFERENCES IF POSSIBLE
I know this sounds like asking too much, but it really helps to provide references to what you are saying. It is what makes your article hold its own in an argument/alternate perspective. Add in anecdotes, but avoid making your article an anecdotal evidence. 
A good writer will discuss an anecdote, cross reference the findings/observations with studies and FACTS, and then write about it as an article. 
No good writer will ever expect his audience to take his word for the truth. So its only fair that provide references to the facts you are stating or atleast make sure that what you have stated is reference proof and will stand true if cross checked. 

6. SUMMARIZE AND CONCLUDE
It's easy to get lost even after all that reading. And the fact is that most people will only skim the top and bottom end of your article, interrupted by the pictures in between. Its only human.
Make sure you clearly summarize the gist of your article and draw a conclusion that the reader can take home, even if he/she hasn't had the time to read the entire article.
Infact, if the conclusion is solid, your article might just get saved to be read later. 


7. SIGN OFF WITH YOUR NAME AND CREDENTIALS
Anything that has your name attached to it, has your honor attached to it. It shows that you take the matter seriously. It shows why you are credible to write the article and why the reader can safely take it seriously and in earnest.
Your name and credentials are your seal of earnestness.
For most people out there writing to share their knowledge, it serves as a permanent piece of 'advertising' for the hard work you have put in to gather the knowledge that makes that article a great piece worth reading and sharing. 

---------------------------------------

Follow these basic guidelines, and you will be able to write an article that stands out of the clutter, is genuine, and worthy of reading and respect. Even if you are writing just to promote yourself or your business, follow these guidelines and in the longterm, it will do way more for you than the photo of a pussycat with a funny line. Maybe not as much as Kim Kardashian's Naked pic with you though, but maybe that a good thing.
Remember, QUALITY > QUANTITY. It's quite a writing guideline to live by - even applicable to friends, family, work and to life itself.

Hope this helps you write better. 


Pushkaraj S Shirke
Advertising Creative Director,
Editor of www.ProjectBattleready.com 
Blogger, Writer, Film-maker and Photographer