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In Praise of Not Specialising (and Lara Croft)

Warming up for a Strength Circuit

Specificity

One of the first things you are taught as a coach is the principle of specificity. This is usually summed up as “Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand” (the SAID principle), meaning that the body adapts to the specific demands placed upon it.

The researcher Chris Beardsley published a nice series of articles recently about this that are worth reading, if you find this interesting. In one of them, he lists how strength can be specific to:

  • the type of load being used
  • the direction the force is being applied against the load
  • how quickly the force is being applied
  • how many reps are being done
  • the range of motion used
  • the muscle group being tested
  • the type of contraction the muscle is doing (concentric or eccentric)
  • the stability of the surface being tested on

This is because of adaptations to bones, connective tissue and musculature as well as to the way the brain interacts with the muscles. You might hear this all summarised in the phrase “strength is a skill”. In order to get better at doing something, you’ve got to practice it. Read more…

Forest Bathing in the City

Leigh Woods isn't a forest but it's still pretty nice

This Spring there was a flurry of articles getting excited about shinrin-yoku, the Japanese practice of “forest bathing” – relaxing in woodland.

The concept of forest bathing and other nature therapies is that we enter the environment in a stressed state (due to urban life and technology), experience the restorative effects of nature, and that this has some sort of preventive medical effect. Read more…

Creamy Green Lentils with Lemon, Tahini, and a Leek and Mushroom Topping

It's a yes

This is a bit of a staple dish at our house as it’s really comforting and creamy! I’ve only recently discovered that tahini is a bit of a miracle sauce maker, and totally gives you that creaminess whilst also being vegan. Also a member of the Co-op gym recently told me they’ve been given a kilo of tahini so here’s one way to start chipping away at it…. Read more…

Making Running Alright

This spring I got bored of training. When I first started going to the gym, I’d decided on some particular bodyweight-related amounts that I wanted to be able to deadlift, squat and bench press. Reaching those milestones felt fantastic and I’d assumed that I’d then just try to maintain that level of strength for the rest of my life and that would be that. The problem is that even maintenance of strength takes quite a bit of time, and I noticed myself feeling less interested in doing this because it all felt a bit vague and incomprehensible. I had a sort of existential crisis of, “oh, well this is it now FOREVER”. I know that resistance training is good for me and worth making a life-long habit of but I wasn’t finding it very exciting anymore. Read more…

Movement Forum 2: Glutes

Glutes

What we were stretching and why

The gluteals are a collection of synergistic muscles that are mainly concerned with external rotation, (turning your feet out) extension (bringing your straight leg back) and adduction (bringing your leg out to the side). This collection of muscles are large, with the gluteus maximus being the largest muscle in the body, and are capable of producing incredible amounts of force, if working correctly.

Read more…

Movement Forum 1: Hip Flexors

Hip flexors

What we were stretching

We were focusing on the hip flexors. To identify these, you can stand with your heels and back against a wall and then bring one knee up so your hip is at 90 degrees. The hip flexors pull the leg up into this position. Hold the knee up in that position until you feel tiredness in these muscles. Read more…