A Guide to Training and Fitness Terminology

You’d be surprised at how much fitness lingo people don’t really understand. They’re be at the gym and will act like they know what an instructor, trainer or other member is talking about, when the reality is they have no idea.

Do you know what the real definition of toning, plateau, super sets, drop sets, cutting, bulking, raw lifting, ROM, BPM, RMR, spotting and tapering are? If you don’t, read up for a quick homework session. Chances are, you’ll improve your training technique if you understand correct fitness and training terminology.

Toning - This common term is often misused. It actually refers to the process where body fat is lost in a certain area and muscle mass is gained; resulting in a toned appearance.

Bulking - Refers to consuming a caloric intake that is significantly higher than a person’s daily requirements in a bid to gain weight. It’s a term used frequently by body builders.

Cutting - Refers to consuming a reduced caloric intake in a bid to lower one’s body fat levels. In other words, stripping fat, so muscle underneath appears to be more “cut” and defined in appearance.

Spotting - When a workout buddy watching your technique and form for safety reasons, especially while lifting weights.

Tapering - When one reduces their training intensity prior to a major competition so the body is given enough time to recover and prepare to reach peak performance.

Raw Lifting - When one lifts weights without the assistance of a compression shirt, strap or belt.

Plateau - When one stops achieving results or any progress from the same workout regime.

Super Sets - When one performs a set of particular exercises back to back with little or no rest. Great for fat loss and muscle conditioning.

Drop Sets - A training style where one performs a set with a heavier weight, then immediately performs the same set using a light weight.

Endurance - The human body’s ability to exercise with minimal fatigue

BPM - Beats per minute; the unit to measure heart rate.

RMR - Resting metabolic rate; the body’s rate of energy use after a full eight hour sleep.

ROM - Range of motion; the range of flexion and extension a joint can be moved.

Staying motivated over summer

Summers here and it sure is a bright time for fun, relaxing, holidays and spending time with loved ones – which means it’s very easy for your health and fitness priorities to take a turn in the back seat. Though, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Preparation and staying motivated over summer will ensure you keep in shape and can enjoy this relaxing period so you enter the new year feeling rejuvenated. Here’s how:

Create a summer eating plan

Plan a new diet that revolves around summer’s offerings. This is the time when certain varieties of luscious fruits like nectarines and peaches are available. Since the weather is a lot warmer, you’re less likely to want to eat hot meals. So introduced a lot of leafy salads and fruit as replacements when you feel like eating fatty snacks or don’t feel like eating at all – because skipping meals is just as bad as over-indulging in calorie-soaked junk food.

Use outdoor activities as exercise

Many necessary outdoor chores happen to be big calorie burners without you ever knowing. Gardening, such as doing the weeds, raking and mowing the lawn really work your muscles and burn fat. So since the days are longer during summer and you may not have time to visit the gym, consider gardening or other outdoor activities like playing Frisbee with the young ones a workout.

Record your progress

During summer, one of the many things people fall back on is their new year’s resolution. You’re not going to be one of these people. Set realistic goals that you know you can achieve over time and maintain the results. The best thing to seeing this come to light is making the start to record your goals and progress so you have something to look forward to. You will stay motivated and feel satisfied when you see small results each week. A little goes a long way and people with goals succeed because they know what direction they’re heading.

Take advantage of sunlight

The daylight hours are longer, so consider taking a morning or evening walk, jog, or bike ride with family to exercise and socialise at the same times. There are also fun summer activities you can take up such as swimming to stay cool, a day trip to the beach, skating, hiking or tennis that can be great outdoor alternatives to working out indoors.

Fitness-themed Christmas gift ideas

You can tell Christmas is literally around the corner when everyone is flurrying at the local shopping centre to buy up all their gifts in time. Instead of being run-of-the-mill and grabbing chocolate or T-shirts for your loved ones, why don’t you them with fitness-themed presents? There’s plenty of them out there and health enthusiasts will appreciate it!

New trainer shoes – Buying a pair of shoes is a great present, given that you get the person’s size right. Everyone loves to have the latest fashion, so the person you’re buying for will look good and can sport a new pair of comfortable trainers that are both stylish and functional. They’ll want to wear them more and therefore increase their daily exercise.

A football – A humble football is ideal for young boys or teens who love a good game. They will have fun passing it around at Christmas lunch and it will encourage them to get off the couch, stop playing Xbox and actually get moving.

A swimsuit – Swimsuits are perfect presents for girls, since the swim suit fashion is forever changing each summer. New styles and colours are in, while the old are out. So Christmas is a great time to buy a young girl or teen a swimwear update.

Pedometer – If you know a person is an avid walker, why not buy them a small device to monitor their calories and number of steps taken during a training session?

Healthy Cook Book – More people than just your mother like to cook in the kitchen. So instead of promoting fatty desert books and cakes, buy a healthier cook book instead. It might be low-carbs, low-fat or cooking raw. Their heart will thank you for it and they’ll enjoy the challenge.


MP3 Player – A simple iPod can make a workout out or weight session so much more enjoyable and less strenuous. Music relaxes the mind and can inspire fitness fanatics to run harder and workout longer.


Gym membership – The reality is some people just cannot afford to sign up for the gym or fear it. So why not give them a positive push with a gym membership? It doesn’t have to be an annual pass; many gyms offer 10 visit cards or three month passes which can be cheap and effective.

Sunglasses – A cool pair of high-performance sunglasses can really enhance a workout. Many provide UV protection, are polarised, lightweight, anti-fog and anti-slip, protecting any fitness enthusiast during an outdoor workout such as cycling or running.

Fitness book – In our fast-paced world, many Australians need to kill time while commuting to work. And a fitness book can inspire them with new tips to improve their health.

Shin splint causes and remedies

Get back to your game or workout in no time with these beneficial home-remedies for shin splints

Shin splints are a very common problem for runners, gymnasts and people who regularly participate in contact sports with constant stops and starts; such as football, netball, basketball to name a few. You’ll know if you experience the condition when you’re deep into your game, workout or walk and a sharp stabbing pain instantly hits the front of your lower legs.

In medical terms, shin splints are referred to as Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS) and usually occur when people overdo exercise. The condition develops when the muscles attached to your two leg bones (tibia and fibula) become inflamed which catalyses the intense and unbearable pain. But if you can understand shin splints and how to prevent and treat them, they will no longer take over your life.

Shin Splint Causes

Muscle and Tendon Overload - If a person performs excessive running and weight bearing activities, the sudden shock force of repeated landings will take its toll on your lower legs. Exercising on hard surfaces, uneven ground, excessive uphill or downhill running, wearing the wrong shoes and increasing exercise intensity too quickly are also contributing factors.

Biomechanical Form - Flat feet and over-pronation occurs when the foot and ankle continuously roll excessively inward. This added pressure causes the tibia to twist and therefore over stretches the lower leg muscles. So poor running techniques including excessive forward and backwards lean, running with outward toes and landing on the balls of your feet all take their toll on your lower leg causing shin splints.

Prevention and Remedies

Your best bet for preventing shin splints is to choose high-quality footwear that suits your foot type; whether you roll-in, roll-out or have flat feet. It’s also important to update your shoes and refrain from using old, worn-out pairs that offer no protection and support. Athletic shoe insoles will also help.

Don’t forget warming and stretching your lower legs and feet is an essential before you commence physical activity. It’s also worthwhile to do specific Achilles tendon strengthening exercises to condition the muscles of the lower leg. If at any time you experience sharp pains when exercising, consult a podiatrist to learn more about your foot structure.

If shin splints are a recurring problem, then its best to stop exercising and rest to allow the injury to heal. Apply an ice pack when the pain becomes too intense in a bid to reduce pain and inflammation. It’s also wise to wear shock absorbing insoles in your shoes to reduce the amount of shock on your lower leg and prevent further injury.

Sometimes a podiatrist will tape your shin to alleviate added pressure on attached muscles. But if things aren’t too bad, you can maintain fitness by doing non-weight bearing excises such as swimming or cycling.

Staying in shape while travelling

Check out these exercises you can do to maintain fitness and physique while you’re jetsetting.

It’s not worth letting your fitness and physique slip just because you’re jet setting around the country – or the world. Whether you travel frequently, are posted abroad for work or are on a road trip and your local gym is out of the question, there are many exercise tips you can try in order to stay in shape. And it doesn’t matter what kind of exerciser you are either!

Go for a run
Why don’t you start your day with a crisp early morning run? It’s the best way to prepare your mind and physique and stay fit, too. Consider running to a nearby beach, through iconic parks or whatever else attractions are on offer that are scenic and encouraging.

Exercise in your room
If you forgot to pack your favourite workout DVD or resistance bands in your luggage, it’s always possible to achieve a great workout in your room thanks to bodyweight training exercises. Begin with a few sets of sit-ups, push-ups and planking. You can also keep it creative and use your bed to perform triceps dips, a wall for wall squats. or even hold a water bottle in each hand to substitute weights while lunging or squatting.

Find a local gym
If your hotel accommodation doesn’t offer an in-house gym facility with basic equipment, your next bet is to locate a fitness centre nearby. Sometimes you may even find that your gym pass back home has locations in the area you’ll be travelling to, so it’s worth paying attention.

Sight see on foot
If your keen on seeing the city or area you’re staying in, then why not explore it on foot? Walking everywhere is a lot more healthier then hopping on trains or busses for a few stops. And driving hire cars and taking taxis can be expensive anyway.

Hire a bike
Bike riding is just as effective as opting to stay on foot. Except with biking, you’re burning a lot more calories. It’s a cheap alternative to using public transport or driving to explore a city. And let’s face it: There are many cities in the world that are made to be seen by bike. Think of Paris and Berlin.

Keep your abs
All of your basic abdominal workouts can still be performed anywhere, since leg raises, crunches and sit-ups do not necessarily need weights to still be effective. If you really want to up the intensity, run up a set of stairs between sets in order to keep your heart rate up.

Fat-burning foods to fire up your metabolism

From chilli to complex carbs, these fast foods will speed up your metabolism and make weight loss more achievable.

Making the choice to lose weight and sticking to a strict diet as a result can prove to be a challenge at times. So if there are foods out there that are going to make achieving your health goals easier, then you would be crazy not to start implementing fast foods into your diet. And by fast foods, I don’t mean fat-saturated takeaway food. I’m referring to calorie-burning foods that will give your metabolism a jump start and make weight loss more achievable.

 1. Complex high-fibre Carbohydrates
Always aim to include a small portion of complex carbohydrates in every meal you have. Yes, carbohydrates! They are extremely beneficial at helping your body burn up calories and increase your metabolism; since they contain fibre which provides an extended energy boost so you stay active. This energy will help convert food into usable energy. Good carbs include non-starchy vegetables, beans and whole grains such as brown bread, brown rice, oatmeal and whole grain cereals.

 2. Lean protein
Consuming lean proteins such as chicken, turkey breast, red meat egg whites, fish or game meat will boost your metabolic rate since the digestion of protein increases the amount of chemical reactions occurring in your stomach. In a nut shell, the amino acids found in protein are stimulating cellular activity, so your metabolism will rise within the first hour until three to 12 hours post-meal.

 3. Spices
Your metabolic rate will instantly shift into top gear upon consumer hot spicy foods like chilli, jalapenos and cayenne peppers. Capsaicin is a chemical found in hot peppers which stimulates the release of extra stress hormones including adrenalin. This increases the body’s ability to burn more calories.

 4. Garlic and ginger
Garlic and ginger both go beyond adding flavours to a meal and boosting your immune system to prevent cold and flu’s. They have an innate ability to raise your body’s temperature so fat burning mechanisms are stimulated.

 5. Green tea
A powerful antioxidant called EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) increases your metabolic rate, making fat oxidation more efficient since it triggers thermogenic properties to occur around the body.

 6. Lemon and Vinegar
Adding a dash of fresh lemons, apple cider vinegar or red/white vinegar will drive up your metabolism. This is due to their high acidic levels which slow down the rate of starch digestion; ultimately keeping your insulin levels balanced and lowering blood sugar levels.

Are you getting enough iron?

Iron deficiency is becoming a widespread problem for Australians. We need iron for energy, brainpower and to strengthen our immune systems. It’s what assists us to get through a long, gruelling day. Yet interestingly, many people mistake subtle iron deficiency symptoms as just being a little busy.

If you’ve been experiencing tiredness, a lack of energy, poor concentration, irritability or frequent infections lately, then it’s definitely worth checking if you’re meeting your daily iron needs. A simple blood check at your local GP can confirm this.

In the meantime, here are some of the best ways we can keep our iron within a healthy range and prevent iron deficiency:

Eat iron-rich foods

Regularly include iron-rich foods in your diet to maintain healthy iron levels. Iron in foods with high concentration are absorbed by the body differently since there are two types found in food: Haem iron and non-haem iron. Haem iron is very easy for the body to absorb. It’s present in red meat, pork, chicken, fish and offal (kidney and liver).

While non-haem iron isn’t at greatly absorbed by the body, it’s still essential to consume. It’s found in eggs, nuts, iron-fortified breakfast cereals, wholemeal pasta and bread, and dark green leafy vegetables. Vegetarians can increase their iron intake levels by leaving the skin on baked potatoes and increasing bean intake.

Maximise iron absorption

Combining iron-rich foods with vitamin C-rich foods can dramatically maximise iron absorption. Berries, tomatoes, oranges and capsicum are just some examples of vitamin C-rich foods you can benefit from eating.

Consider iron supplements

If you’re experiencing iron deficiency, your doctor may prescribe an iron supplement to encourage your iron levels to return to normal. Though, they should only be used until your iron levels return to normal because iron supplements can interfere with the absorption of other essential nutrients such as zinc. Large doses are also known to cause constipation and an iron load can be detrimental to your overall wellbeing.

Remember, iron is an important dietary mineral that is needed to assist various bodily functions; especially transporting oxygen in blood around the body to cells and the brain. Low iron levels can lead to anaemia. So make it a habit to eat iron-rich foods regularly.

Fancy ab gadgets exposed

The ab blaster, ab rocker, ab pro and all those other fancy television abdominal gadgets being sold on daytime talk shows and during the wee hours of the morning may be dangerous. They’re a bought by people looking for a quick fix and the result is a bad posture and lower back pain; not to mention a misaligned spine.

So if you have ever been sucked into buying a useless infomercial ab gadget, then you ought to listen up. There are safer, healthier, more effective ways to lose belly fat and develop a six pack. The only ripping off you will experience is a ripped torso; with hard work of course.

In a nutshell, ab gadgets, machines, belts and rockers do virtually nothing to burn fat off the abdominal area which is absolutely essential for abs. You could have the strongest ab muscles underneath a small layer of fat and the sad thing is they will not be seen if you’ve even got an inch of fat on top. Abs truly require a disciplined approached and ab gadgets and expensive pills are pure marketing gimmicks.

In order to achieve washboard abs, or even visible abs, it’s essential to lose the body fat that is covering up your abs. This means a well-balanced diet combined with regular cardiovascular training. And you’re going to get optimum results when you focus on engaging an array of muscles to build lean muscle faster and develop strength.

Eating healthy when other’s don’t

Sometimes when you’re a good eater, you’re not always your worst enemy. The people you live with or constantly hang around may be major hindrances to your strict diet. It’s hard enough to resist eating high-calories foods when you’re keeping your diet lean, so it’s understandable that you can be swayed when you see your friends eating junk all the time.

What do you do when your colleagues want to do a KFC office run or when your friends want to meet at the bar? What about when your flatmate cooks another heat and freeze meal or your partner prepares are tantalising Italian dinner that will definitely sabotage your daily calorie intake? It’s times like these where you ought to stick to your guns and choose the healthier options so your hard work doesn’t go to waste. Here’s how:

Bite size is alright
When you’re feeling pressured in a social setting, remember to portion control. Appease the crowd by telling them you’ll try a bite. This is better than saying no and is less likely to cause offence. At the same time, you’re not consuming a massive amount so you’re not endangering your diet. 

Serving yourself

If your partner or flatmate has gone to the effort to cook a yummy, but fatty dinner, it’s okay to serve yourself. Why not half a very small serving and eat vegies for the remainder of the meal? If you’re in control of your plate, it’s easier to adjust portions. If preparing your plate isn’t an option, politely ask for a smaller portion.

Monitor your pace

When you’re having a good time and are caught up in great conversation, you’re subconsciously on autopilot and prone to fill your face with whatever’s on the table. That’s why it’s a good idea to eat a little bit before a scheduled meal so you aren’t as hungry and are less inclined to make bad food choices.

Preparation is key

If your diet has succumbed to peer pressure of late, make it a habit to not cave in again. This is best done by preparing what you’re going to eat in advance and also how you’re going to respond to foods that tempt you.

Create a focus

Dinner or lunch doesn’t have to be the highlight activity of the day. You can ardently suggest a walk after dinner or schedule a movie or board game as the new focus.

Focus on your clothing size, not the scales

Australians should use their dropping down in clothes size as a key indicator of weight loss, not the kilograms displayed on their humble bathroom scale. You see, weight scales aren’t accurate and tend to lie about your current weight due to the fact that several factors can influence your weight reading.

It’s essential to consider water retention, muscle gain (which leads to changes in lean body mass), glycogen storage, menstruation and other perfectly normal fluctuations to your body weight. If you better understand these changes and how your body function, you can free yourself from your daily battle when you weigh yourself in. Let’s have a look out how these aforementioned elements alter your scale reading.

Water Retention
Excessive amounts of salt/sodium in diets can cause the body to retain water. If you’re consuming too much sodium or not enough water, your body will hold onto the little water it has which will cause the scale reading to sky rocket. So drink water whenever you’re thirsty.

Women tend to retain large amounts of water prior to menstruation. This weight will go as quickly as it comes. On the plus, women can minimise water weight gain by increasing their water intake, maintaining physical activity and minimising high-sodium foods.

Muscle Gain
It’s no secret here. Muscle weighs three times as much as fat. So if you look slimmer, but weigh more… it’s clearly muscle gain. Hence; using clothing size as an indicator for fat loss.

Food Intake
Each meal we consume throughout the day will affect the numbers on the scale. So if you instantaneously put on a few kilos after eating a large meal with a drink, it’s not fat. It’s in fact the weight of the food you just ate that will be gone in a few hours upon digesting it. For accuracy’s sake, it’s best to weight yourself in the morning before you’ve have anything to eat or drink.

Glycogen Storage
Your body stores energy (carbohydrates) as fat and glycogen. Glycogen is stored in the liver, muscles and fat cells. Essentially it acts as your fuel tank for daily living. And for every gram of glycogen stores, your body will store an extra three to four grams of water with it. So that’s why when you eat a meal with carbs, the body automatically stores water and glycogen as weight. But it’s not fat at all! These fluctuations have nothing to do with weight loss or gain, yet it will affect your weekly weigh-in.

So really, it’s important not to lose your cool at your daily weigh in. If you’re eating a well-balanced diet and exercising vigorously, the best indicator for change is your clothing size because losing weight and losing fat are two different things. Take measurements of yourself regularly and don’t be dismayed if the scale jumps slightly up or down. Day by day, your body is changing and getting closer to the goal you’re trying to achieve. Change is happening, regardless of what the scale says. And it’s more likely that you’re gaining lean muscle if the scale creeps up as quickly as your waist line drops.