If you have been lucky enough to take part in a session at ICON, you would probably noticed a few things about our programmes.
1 - They are cool
2 - We often talk about how you can scale your efforts
Scaling effort comes from the world of RPE. Rated Perceived Exertion. We use this scale as a bench mark for our programming and while it might all seem a bit subjective it’s actually a really good measure of intensity and it allows you to make progress when you feel good and allows you to recover when you are having an off day.
Traditional strength programmes tend to follow a fairly rigid loading scheme, where you add a specific amount of weight to an exercise, in a given timeframe, and generally you can’t add more even if you felt like you could and they tend to have planned periods of recovery when you might not need them.
The beauty of using the effort based system is that it works around you. When you get to the gym feeling like a superhero you can add load/intensity and make some really good improvements in your strength and fitness and when you compare that to a traditional model it’s not, THAT different. Periods of recovery, coasting and added effort. You just get to decide for yourself when you push and when you back off.
Both models will increase your strength and fitness but when the progression model is build around you rather than forcing you to fit the model, you are more likely to enjoy training and get better results because you will be more consistent.
Consistency is a big part of why the effort based system of training works. If one day you wake up and you fell terrible and the prospect of added 5kg to a deadlift you already find hard isn’t very appealing. So you are more likely to not go. If you knew that you had to put in an 7 or 8 out of 10 it wouldn’t really matter what weight you selected and you would feel better about going to the gym and having a workout.
What is RPE?
Effort rating scale from 1-10 which can be applied to an exercise programme to make it possible for different people at different fitness levels can have the same quality work out. It also allows you to have a good workout when you feel good and even when you feel a bit rubbish.
How we use rpe (effort rating)
We use an effort rating in all our programmes. Our programmes are set up so that you gradually increase the amount of effort you’re putting in. The best results tend to come from an effort rating of between 7-9 and that’s under the assumption that you are not compromising good exercise form.
Here is an example of a session and the effort rating we assign to each section. We divide the programme/menu into sections and those sections have specific effort ratings assigned to them.
So the end result of all this RPE chat is that regardless of whether you feel amazing or you feel like you have been on a seven day bender, you will still have a productive and enjoyable session.
Try it out if you'd like www.icongym.co.uk/get-started.html
People have lives outside the gym and when you split your training up into something like a body part split where you do chest on a Monday, back on a Tuesday, legs on Wednesday, shoulders, arms and abs on Thursday and a cardio session on Friday you are committing to spending a lot of time in the gym.
And if something came up and you had to miss a session you would miss out an entire section of your training.
Doing full body sessions allows you to train less frequently but every time you train all your muscles are getting a stimulus and that means you can reduce your weekly sessions to a very manageable 3 a week and if you miss one, no problem really, because you haven’t missed anything out.
Doing full body sessions allows you to train less frequently with more frequency(bear with me). If I take you back the example of a split routine you will notice that any particular muscle group only get’s trained once per week. When you do 3 full body sessions you train every muscle group with triple the frequency. The more often you train a muscle the more likely it is to adapt(get bigger and stronger) and when you are able to train movements more frequently you will get better at those movements. Better at movements means more strength and more all round awesomeness.
If you do 9 sets of an exercise it would be a very intense session and as you progressed through the sets you would get fatigued and the quality of your reps would suffer. But if you took those 9 sets and then spread them over 3 days you would get the same amount of work done but you would have done those reps far better.
Recovery is often overlooked because people think no pain, no gain right? wrong! You need to be able to work hard but it’s ultimately more important that you recover from that hard work because recovery means adaptation and adaptation means progress. So when you can do 3 sessions instead of 5/6 you will be able to recover more effectively.
Very high calorie burn
Strength training does burn a few calories but when all the effort is focused on one muscle that calories burn isn’t very significant. When train all the muscles in your body that will obviously have a much higher calorie burn but full body sessions allow you to organise a session so that you are constantly moving. You can do a bench press and when you have done, do some squats. Entirely different muscle groups so while you train one the other recovers and boom, you are always working and your heart rate stays nice and high.
Because your sessions are far more efficient it means you can do 2/3 sessions a week rather than 5/6 and that means that you get more time to recover both physically from the sessions. And mentally, it’s not nice to feel like you have to spend almost all of your free time in the gym. Training should add to your life, not detract from it so when you're in the gym you can work hard but then you have more time to spend doing the things you REALLY like.
We use this philosophy when we write our programmes. So do you feel like trying it out, you can. Click here
Good question internet…
ICON is a place that is set up to completely change how personal training is executed.
Unfortunately, the current model is letting too many of you down. You should expect sound nutritional advice and thought out programming that is entirely based on the latest research, whilst getting a sense of enjoyment out of your exercise.
At the moment this seems like a lot to expect but what we’d create a ridiculously high standard of personal training in an environment that’s incredibly inclusive. Our inexpensive model and fit for purpose facilities means that more people have access to personal training and that the service you receive is of the highest quality.
We are creating an environment where you can come and exercise knowing that you are in safe hands and that you can leave every session feeling like you have had a good workout and enjoyed it.
We are dividing the roles of nutrition, programming and coaching, having assigned specialists in those areas. This means that the person helping you with your goals is qualified and exceptionally good at their job.
So ICON exists to help more people get fitter, healthier, stronger and happier.
For a long time it has been thought that the weights section at the gym belongs to bodybuilders and powerlifters who can move proverbial mountains in the gym. The reality is that anyone can benefit from doing some strength training and I believe everyone should be doing some. Regardless of what your goals are, it will help.
The best part about weight training is that the stringer vests, oiling up before a session, grunting and slamming your weights are completely optional and if, like me, you prefer not to take yourself too seriously but you still want an effective session, you can lift weights and get good results while enjoying yourself.
ISn't cardio better for fat loss?
Short answer, No…
Long answer: When you talk about fat loss it seems like cardio is the thing to do because you can burn loads of calories, but the amount of calories you actually burn during a session doing a session of cardio can be exaggerated.
Another thing is that cardio generally isn’t enough resistance to stimulate muscle enough so that your body has reason to hold onto it and this means that while you might be losing WEIGHT, a lot of that weight could be muscle. You don’t want that because muscle is what will give you the ‘toned’ look you’re after, if your goal is fat loss.
So the best way to loose fat is to combine strength training with some cardio and reduce your calorie intake slightly.
There are ways of creating a high calorie burn doing strength training as well. You can string two or three exercises together, one after the other. This means you are constantly moving and getting your heart rate nice and high and you are still lifting weights. Two birds, as they say.
Below is heart rate comparison between two of my own sessions.
The cardio session was a 39 min(it was meant to be 45 but I got bored) on a cross trainer. Honestly the lengths I go to for you guys…
The other session was a strength circuit. I did three exercises using different muscle groups back to back with and then I did three sets. I did three ‘mini circuits in the 30 isn min.
A session where I was able to stimulate every muscle in my body, burn some calories and have fun is a better session than simply burning calories and hoping 45 of clock watching wouldn’t make me cry in public.
More fun = better results
The foundation of any effective training plan is consistency. Can you actually stick to that training plan for a LONG time. If you can't, you won't do it and you won't get any results.
And to achieve consistency you need to enjoy your training. If you enjoy it, you will go to the gym more often because you won't have to force yourself to go because you actually want to go.
Enjoyment in a programme comes down to two things.
Effective-ness - When you can see yourself making progress you enjoy the training more because there is a sense of constant achievement.
Variety - I'm sure there is a saying, 'variety is the spice of life'? Having new challenges and new things to do and learn in the gym will make your training experience much more enjoyable.
This is what a good strength training programme gives you.
You learn new movements all the time, and because your body adapts you do actually have to change the exercise you select periodically. Tick for variety.
Another cool thing about strength training is that it's progressive. This means that you will see very frequent improvements. Tick for effective-ness.
A good strength programme balances the consistency required to improve and the variety required to have a good time.
Especially as we get older our risk of injury goes up because we loose strength.
An obvious prevention to the loss of strength would be to do some resistance training and there is evidence to show that 80 year olds that did some strength training had the similar muscle power to 60 year olds who didn't train. Suggesting that you can slow the strength loss associated with age by up to 20 years.
Another fun fact about muscle is that, the more you have, the more effectively you dispose of glucose in the bloodstream. This suggests that having more muscle will reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.
more muscle, less bodyfat
The definition of toning is, having more muscle and less body fat. Need I say more?
No, but I will. Strength training will help you build muscle and if you do it in the 'mini'circuit' format(as mentioned before) you will burn a bunch of calories. Presuming you are not being silly with your diet in anyway you will be torching body fat and at the same time sculpting your buns/guns.
And this is how you become the toned goddess/god you want to be.
If you're interested in our 30 personal training trail where we can show you how we help you achieve everything you have just read about just click here.