Posts filed under ‘Rehab and Prehab’

To machine or not to machine!

What exercise should you do when you join a gym?

There are all these machines and I dont really know what to do. I see other people doing stuff so I copy them. Is that the right thing to do?

The whole concept of the need for gyms is because we are a society of non- movers. We sit at a desk all day, we sit in our cars, We sit in the couch or behind the computer. We really dont move much. So to join a gym and sit in a “machine” is really counter productive.

Our exercise selection should be able to help us improve our movement patterns that have maybe died because we don’t use those muscles. If you cannot do simple bodyweight exercises then why would you try things like a machine ab crunch or a Leg Curl Machinemachine leg curl which don’t utilise the joints properly.

This article will not address the full scope of why I think machines are not even necessary for the majority population save a very small amount who need it due to their disabilities.

So here is a basic order that one should follow to progress from “no movement” to advanced exercises.

One- Be able to perform basic body weight like pushups, pullups, lunges, squats and chops.

Two- Be able to perform basic dumb bell and or kettlebell exercises including some of the bodyweight ones.

Three- Be able to perform basic Barbell exercises (need balance in both limbs to do this)

Four- At this level you should be able to perform fitball and suspension training with medium difficulty

Five- Higher level body weight single limb and explosive exercises are at this level.

The premise that- I need to get strong therefore I use machines first- will set you up with false strength. You will gain strength but only in the machine. Outside of that when you wish to use those muscles, the stabilisers that you will need to recruit will be untrained and you are at a higher risk of injury.

So the premise is to train with a long term picture in mind, always assessing how this program will allow me to progress on to the next level.

Simple test Can you do 15 toe pushups?

Can you do 30 squats?

Can you do 20 lunges each leg?

Can you do 15 pullups under a bar with your feet on the ground?

If not then you are not ready for machines!

Tim James CPT AKI


September 2, 2009 at 2:03 pm Leave a comment

Why warming up is so important!

If you have ever been injured you will know the benefits of thorough warming up. I should know as I have recently discovered my own humanity 😉 by insufficiently warming up a client and they had a grade 1 tear to their muscle. (Usually takes 1-2 days to repair) I know I deserve a reprimand and am glad they weren’t damaged more than that.

So how do you know you have warmed up enough?assistedlunge

Is the exercise you are about to perform new or have you been doing it for at least a few weeks?

Are you on a periodisation program(ie. you are increasing weight or reps regularly)?

Can you feel the muscle warmed by the exercises used to warmup yet not fatigued?

Through years of training people I have found the most effective warmups include mobility and body weight exercises then a “warm up set” using 80% of the weight you will be working with.

Every situation is different but if it takes 5 minutes to warm up and prevents  the 1 to 2 days of time lost from injury, then you (I) would be a fool to forgo. I am really eating my words right now.

A standard warmup for a lower body workout might be a mini circuit of

10 squats

10 reverse lunges

10 mountain climbs and

10 star jumps

Repeat twice with no rest then go to your warmup set for the first exercise. I hope this helps clear up any ideas of what a warmup should be.

There will be more posts on what to do if injured so stay tuned.

Tim James AKI CPT

August 12, 2009 at 2:16 pm Leave a comment

3 tips to manage pain in your workouts

The worst thing I have ever heard is someone telling me how their trainer didn’t really pay attention when they said they had pain in a certain movement.

pain in my shoulderIt really gets under my skin that people in my profession are so incompetent that they are turning people away from personal training because it is seen as brutish.

Now I have had a rant, thank you for listening 😉 Here is my take on what to do when you come across an injury.

Check if you are using your core properly!

When was the last time you had a basic abdominal test to see if you were activating your lower abdominals properly? Go back to the floor and start with movement patterns that babies go through in development. If you cant move through these early movements why are you sitting in a machine and thinking that you will make things better!

If it can be done differently, avoid it for the time being.

If lifting your hands above your head causes too much shoulder pain then dont lift your hands above your head. You may have to try strengthening your shoulders on a different plane of movement. If flexing the trunk is causing lower back pain then practice movements that dont require trunk flexion. And please for goodness sake dont put up with the pain. See a professional pain management person. I am fan of hands on physio’s but I know good chiropractors and osteopaths and massage therapists.

Find a different approach to your workouts.

A registered, qualified and referred trainer will be more than happy to redesign a program for you that takes into account the intricacies of your current situation. (Referred is key to finding someone reputable that has given measurable results to someone else already). Two tools that I swear by are foam rollers for myo-facial release and correct mobility exercises to help release tension.

Here’s to a journey of improved movement and less pain!

Tim James

June 26, 2009 at 1:57 pm Leave a comment

6 ways to avoid injury


Observing Luke (my 3 year old) playing, I have learnt a lot about his bio-mechanics of movement. He can squat there and play like an Asian and much to my horror and his mothers’ he can bite his toenails. That leads me to my first point which is mobility or the ability to move a joint through a healthy range of motion.

1. Mobility– Without working on improving tight joints before working out you are not warming up correctly. Mobility usually involves some dynamic movements based on improvement of the joints range of motion. This is not to be confused with static stretching which has its place also.

2.Monitoring– We all need at some stage of our workout routine some one to give feed back on the technique we are using to perform a given exercise. A qualified fitness professional will be able to pick up discrepancies in poor form. Even a push up done incorrectly can set you up for later shoulder impingement.

3.Massage– It would be great to have a weekly massage or even one after every workout. Being a massage therapist myself I know the untold benefits of a good massage. There is a great substitute in the form of a foam roller where you can get soft tissue massage for tight or sore muscles. Without a doubt , injury occurs when muscles get tighter and result in imbalances in muscle comparison.


4.Balanced program– If your goal is to improve the strength and stability in your right shoulder blade and yet you are doing a lot of lunges and squats then you haven’t got a balanced program. Or if you are doing 50 > 100 push ups every day but no pulling exercise then you have an unbalanced program and will set yourself up for injury.

5. Appropriate footwear– I don’t wish to harp but enough can’t be said about the importance of not only maintaining the quality of your runners but wearing the right shoes for the right activity. Most weight training should be done in flat soled shoes and I even prefer kettlebell programs to be done bare footed. Cross trainers are a great option for outdoor training and of course running shoes for … running Duh!

6.Correct breathing– I only just spoke of this in the last post but when you activate your core properly and breathe in the proper sequence you will ensure that there are less injuries due to poor technique. Practice not only the intense breathing but also the relaxed breathing while stretching.

So go out there and enjoy your fitness journey but practice safely and if you need help drop me a line.



March 18, 2009 at 3:31 pm 3 comments

May 2018
« Jul