• What Is German Volume Training And Should You Be Doing It?

    German Volume Training GVT gym strength weights

    German Volume Training (GVT) is a popular type of weight training among those who have the goal to increase the size and strength of their muscles. It can be tough and takes a lot of work, so we look at what it is and whether it's right for you.

    What is the German Volume Training method?

    Esteemed late strength coach Charles R Poliquin was an expert on German Volume Training and believed it originated in Germany in the mid 1970s. It is also known as 'the 10 sets method' due to its structure and was originally used in the off-season to help weightlifters increase their muscle mass. 

    In the most basics terms, German Volume Training consists of doing 10 sets of 10 repetitions on a single exercise for a single muscle group. This incredible load (100 reps!) shocks the system and causes the body to react by building muscle fast. It is not uncommon for lifters to see an increase of 10lbs of muscle mass in only 6 weeks of practising GVT.

    The goal is to complete all 100 reps with the same weight. In order to discover which weight is right for you to start with, test a weight that you can lift for about 20 reps to failure. For most people, this is 60% of their one rep max (1RM). For example, if your 1RM for deadlifts is 200kg (440lbs), you would use a weight of 120kg (264lbs) for German Volume Training. 

    German Volume Training Sundried

    Is German Volume Training effective?

    German Volume Training has been used for over 50 years now and has stood the test of time. Many bodybuilders, powerlifters, and weightlifters use this training method to build muscle and have found it to be hugely effective. 

    Some people think that the weight seems too light for the first couple of sets and question the effectiveness of the method. However, it's important to remember that you're going to be lifting this weight for a total of 100 reps and so cumulative fatigue will soon set in. Make sure you stay strict with your rest intervals and use a stopwatch to time rest periods of no longer than 60 seconds. It can be tempting to increase rest when it starts to get tough in the last couple of sets, but don't let this happen.

    In order for German Volume Training to be effective, it's also important to perform the right exercises. Compound exercises such as bench press, squat, and deadlift are the best exercises to use for German Volume Training as they use the maximum amount of muscle. Isolating exercises such as tricep kickbacks and leg extensions are definitely a no-go. If you want to supplement a smaller muscle group like triceps and biceps, go ahead and do regular training afterwards.

    German Volume Training gym workout strength training

    What are the benefits of German Volume Training?

    German Volume Training has many benefits and is a tried and tested method of increasing muscle mass. Due to the sheer amount of repetitions and workload, the body is forced to react and so you're pretty much guaranteed to build muscle following this method. However, be warned that it isn't easy and should be left to experienced lifters. You should also only follow this training method for less than 8 weeks due to the strain it puts on the body. Most lifters find that 6 weeks once or twice a year is optimal. 

    GVT is mainly used for bulking as it increases muscle and so will make you both bigger and stronger. If you're looking to cut, this isn't the right training programme for you. 

    weightlifting squats strength training workout plans Sundried

    Does German Volume Training burn fat?

    Yes, German Volume Training certainly burns fat. A lot of people don't think of weight training as fat-burning, instead visualising running on a treadmill for hours on end and sweating buckets as the ultimate way to burn fat. However, lifting weights is proven to be very effective at burning calories, especially as it really raises your heart rate and gets your metabolism fired up.

    The sheer volume of reps undertaken when practising German Volume Training means it is a fat-burning programme and the fact it takes so long also increases your calorie-burn. Additionally, because German Volume Training increases your lean muscle mass, this in turn causes your body to burn more fat at rest. 

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Getting Started In CrossFit

    Weightlifting shoes training gym

    CrossFit is more than just a sport, it's a community and a way of life. This guide will be your one-stop manual for getting into CrossFit for the first time and will cover everything from snatches to WODs to poods and everything in between.

    You don't have to be fit to get started

    This is probably the most important thing to note. A lot of people will put off trying a new sport or hobby for fear of being too unfit. CrossFit is accessible to everyone thanks to their scaled workouts. Whether you're unfit or have a disability, there's something for everyone. Don't let your nerves or insecurities hold you back and just dive straight in.

    You will sweat and cry a lot

    CrossFit is a notoriously tough sport. They don't crown the CrossFit Games champions as the Fittest On Earth for nothing! You have to have the motivation and the right attitude before you start. It has to be your decision and you have to own it; if you've been coaxed into it by someone else you'll be starting with the wrong attitude and you'll find it way harder than it needs to be. Be ready to sweat a lot and cry a lot, but reap the benefits and rewards at the end of a tough WOD. 

    Find a local CrossFit gym, known as a 'Box'

    If you really want to dive straight in and hit this sport hard, finding your local CrossFit gym will help you get there. A CrossFit gym is known as a box and there are affiliates all over the world. You can find your local box through an internet search or by checking out affiliates on the official CrossFit website. A box will have all the proper CrossFit-specific equipment that you need, as you may not get a full workout at a commercial gym. Getting professional advice by an accredited trainer will also stop you from developing bad habits and will be available to give you advice along the way.

    However, you don't have to join a box to be able to practice CrossFit. They can come with expensive memberships and you'll have to do a foundation course before you can participate in the classes. A commercial gym will have most of the equipment you need, and some people even just train out of a garage. Use what you have and don't feel like you're missing out just because you're not a member of an exclusive club or gym.

    outdoor strength training

    Know the jargon

    There's a lot of sport-specific terminology used in CrossFit which you won't have come across before. Knowing what people are talking about is important if you want to join in on discussions about performance, and so that you know what workout you should be doing! Here are the basics:

    WOD - Workout Of the Day. A daily workout published on the CrossFit website which CrossFitters all over the world will tackle and post their results to the public forum. A WOD is also a general term to refer to any CrossFit workout. 

    Pood - This is a Russian term which is a unit of measurement equalling just over 16kg. It is generally used for kettlebell workouts.

    Rx - This is the prescribed way a workout should be completed, with set weights and times/reps. If you Rx a WOD, it means you completed it exactly how it was written. Alternatively, you can 'scale' a workout which might involve reducing the weights or swapping out an exercise. The CrossFit community is one of acceptance and inclusion, so scaling a workout is never anything to be ashamed of.

    MetCon - Short for Metabolic Conditioning. This is typically a workout that doesn't involve heavy lifts, and consists more of a body weight circuit style workout. There is also a very popular CrossFit shoe by Nike called the 'MetCon'. 

    Double Under - This is a movement in skipping whereby the rope passes under your feet twice before they hit the ground. It's a tough movement and you won't be able to do it straight away without practice.

    Practise the lifts

    CrossFit is unique as it involves so many different physical disciplines: gymnastics, weightlifting, running, cycling, swimming, rope climbing... you name it, CrossFit will have you doing it! CrossFit will train you as a well-rounded athlete and with the right dedication you will develop unrivalled fitness. Think triathlons are impressive? Pro CrossFitters do Ironman triathlon as a warm up!

    However, this can be overwhelming to a beginner. The only way to improve is to practise! If you go into the sport expecting to be perfect at it straight away, you'll be left feeling frustrated. CrossFit adopts a lot of really technical moves that athletes will spend their whole lives perfecting. Take your time and practise the exercises that you find the toughest. Scale a workout if you need to and take it easy. Some of the more difficult moves include things like handstand push ups, double unders, rope climbs, and weightlifting moves like the clean & jerk and the snatch. Learn these moves properly from scratch before trying to incorporate them into WODs and build yourself up slowly and gradually.

    Know the stars of the sport

    The CrossFit Games is the annual pinnacle of the CrossFit calendar. It's the event in which the fittest athletes in the world will congregate and compete to be crowned Fittest On Earth. As with most sports, there are star players, but CrossFit is open to anyone in the qualification stages so often there are rookie competitors too.

    Mat Fraser

    Fraser is the athlete to watch and is the proud holder of the title of Fittest Man on Earth. He is four-time winner of the games (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019), equalling Rich Froning's record. He's competed in the games since 2014 and has proven how hungry he is for the sport and to be recognised as the fittest man on earth. He has spent years honing his technique and perfecting his lifts and it really shows. 

    Mat Fraser CrossFit Games Winner 2019

    Rich Froning

    Until Fraser won his fourth consecutive games in 2019, Froning held the record for winning the games the most amount of times, having claimed the title four years in a row from 2011 to 2014. He has won over $1 million in prize money from his wins and is sponsored by global sports brands like Reebok, Rogue Fitness, and Oakley. He is renowned in the sport and partly retired after his 2014 win. He now competes in the team events with his team Mayhem Freedom who are reigning team champions. 

    Rich Froning CrossFit athlete

    Dave Castro

    While Greg Glassman is the founder of CrossFit, Dave Castro is the face most people recognise as he hosts the games each year and it was at his family ranch in 2009 that the first ever CrossFit Games took place. His personality gets him mixed reviews and some even claim he has 'ruined' the sport. Nevertheless, he is one of the most important figures in CrossFit and it's him you will see on the floor announcing the next WOD in the Games and mixing with all the athletes. 

    Dave Castro CrossFit games host

    Katrin Davidsdottir

    Davidsdottir is one of three Icelandic powerhouses who dominate the female side of the sport. She has won the games twice, 2015 and 2016, after a mental setback in 2014. She was originally a track athlete and gymnast and her sporting background has clearly stood her in good stead for CrossFit glory.

    Katrin Davidsdottir CrossFit athlete

    Sara Sigmundsdóttir

    Despite never actually winning the games, Sara is a leading figure in the sport of CrossFit. Sponsored by Nike, she is another of the Icelandic dynamos and has a very likeable personality making her the perfect CrossFit athlete to watch. She unfortunately suffered a bad injury during the 2018 games which caused her to withdraw and she continued to struggle in 2019. Only time will tell if she will be able to recover enough to challenge Tia-Clair Toomey's title.

    Sara Sigmundsdottir CrossFit athlete

    Tia-Clair Toomey

    Toomey is an Australian weightlifter who represented her country in the 2016 Olympics only a few weeks after appearing at the CrossFit games. With her background in lifting, she is a strong competitor and now has three consecutive CrossFit Games wins to her name – 2017, 2018, and 2019. She is now the one to beat and is sure to train as hard as possible to hold on to her title. 

    Tia Clair Toomey CrossFit Champion

    Follow the WODs

    Each day, a new WOD is released on the CrossFit website. CrossFitters from around the globe are invited to have a go, Rx'd or scaled, and post their results in the forum. Some WODs are for time, some for reps, some for rounds. The beauty of CrossFit is how varied the workouts are and you never know what you're going to get. You have to be ready for anything, from a heavy lifting session to a gruelling run, which is why it conditions your fitness so well. Have a go at any of the WODs that are published and compare your results to others so you can see where you stand.

    The biggest WODs in the CrossFit arsenal are the Hero Workouts. Each workout is named after a member of the armed forces who died in combat and they are always notoriously tough workouts. Some of the most renowned are Murph, DT, and Fran, with true enthusiasts marking their territory by asking newbies "What's your Fran time?" All this means is how long did it take you to complete this particular workout. All of the Hero Workouts can be found on the CrossFit website and traditionally one is always completed on Memorial Day in the US. 

    kettlebell training CrossFit workout

    The CrossFit Games

    The CrossFit Games are the pinnacle of the CrossFit year. Held every August in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, the games showcase the best of the best and pit the top athletes from around the world against one another to claim the title of Fittest On Earth.

    The CrossFit Games have various unique aspects which set them apart from other annual sporting events (such as the Tour de France for cycling or Wimbledon for tennis). First, the events for the games are only announced that day and none of the athletes know what to expect. This keeps the element of surprise and means that athletes have to train everything and stay well-rounded rather than knowing what events are going to be included and only training for them. It also means that the events are more fair as some athletes are better at heavy lifting, some better at cardio, and some better at gymnastics.

    Another unique aspect of CrossFit (which we love) is that in many events the men and women compete together. In some cases, the women beat the men, proving that women are equal to men in physical capability. Events like the Tour de France which do not even have a female version could take note. For example, in the 2019 CrossFit Games, individual event 9 was a swim-paddle consisting of a 1,000m swim followed by a 1,000m paddle. Ten men and ten women took part and the overall winner was a woman, Tia-Clair Toomey, who beat all 10 of the fittest men on earth in this particular event. 

    CrossFit Games

    So you want to try CrossFit

    CrossFit can get a bad rap by some people, usually bodybuilders who have never tried a CrossFit WOD and don't understand what it's all about and just follow what other people say. CrossFit is an awesome sport as it is totally inclusive and everyone encourages one another to succeed. It is open to anyone and you could even be the next champion if you work hard enough. 

    So, get started! Study the WODs, learn the lingo, watch the Games, and get involved. You will be amazed at how fun it is and how incredibly fit you will get in a short amount of time. Have fun!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • How To Start Exercising As A Complete Beginner

    running workout exercise beginner get fit

    If you haven't exercised in a long time, if you're overweight, or if you've never exercised at all, the prospect of joining a gym or going for a run can be overwhelming and just down right terrifying. We're here with top tips and advice for getting active as a complete beginner.

    Just start

    There's no better time than right now to change your life. If you've been thinking about getting started for a while but you've been putting it off or making excuses, you need to just start. There will always be a million reasons why you can't get out there, but it won't be until you've broken the ice that it becomes easier. Go ahead and join that gym or buy those running trainers.

    Treating yourself to fresh activewear is a great way to get motivated and start you off in the right frame of mind. Having comfortable, proper gym tops rather than an old t-shirt and a stylish sports bra instead of your normal bra can be the difference between a terrible workout and a great one and will make you want to exercise so that you can show off your new fitness clothing!

    You're already exercising more than you think

    If you take your dog for walks or go walking at the weekend with your family, you have already made a great start! This is an easy base to improve upon, by making those dog walks longer and brisker, and by finding more challenging routes to walk at the weekend with your kids. If you take public transport to work, you perhaps have to walk to the station or from the bus stop to your office. Have confidence in yourself and make sure you know that mentally you're not going from complete scratch. This will make increasing your weekly exercise easier mentally.

    cycling cycle bike riding get fit exercise overweight

    Find a type of training you enjoy

    There are so many ways to workout; you don't have to slog on a treadmill for hours or do some crazy manoeuvre that you saw someone else doing at the gym. Activities like yoga are very low impact and are a great way to build up your base fitness if you haven't moved in a while. Walking is also perfect as it's free and you can do it anywhere! If you do want to try running, you may benefit from group running as it takes the guess work out of it and will mean all you have to do is turn up and run. In the same light, there are many benefits of joining a running club such as companionship and making new friends. 

    Working out when you're overweight

    It can seem very daunting to start exercising when you're overweight. If you're not ready to join a gym or hit the streets with a run, you can easily make a start in the comfort of your own home. Try a home workout that doesn't require any equipment and just uses body weight. By getting up and getting moving, you are making an excellent start.

    When overweight, it's important not to put your joints under too much strain. Start with low impact movements like body weight squats, lunges, and sit ups. Go back to basics with a simple circuit training routine that gets your heart rate up without compromising your health and making you feel like your chest is going to explode!

    Start slow

    If you are coming back from an injury or from having kids, you need to take it slow. There are lots of easy ways to exercise when you have kids, but getting back into it after giving birth can be a scary prospect. Take it slow and always listen to your body.

    If you're looking to try a new sport, break it down into manageable chunks. Activities like cycling are much more accessible than you think and you don't need all the fancy gear to get out there. For something more complex like a triathlon, find a triathlon training plan for absolute beginners that you can follow which guides you through the training process and helps you understand what you need to do to succeed.

    Make it enjoyable!

    One of the biggest reasons why people give up on exercise is because they don't enjoy it. There is absolutely no reason why you need to be forcing yourself to go running or lift weights if you don't enjoy it. These days, there are unlimited ways to get fit from gym classes to dancing and it's all very accessible. There are some surprising ways to get fit like hula hooping and trampolining which are far more fun and enjoyable than pounding the pavements for mile after mile. If you enjoy your workout, you will be far more likely to continue the trend and stick to it.

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • The Yin and Yang of Strength Training and Cardio

    strength training cardio balance fitness myths

    The fitness pendulum regularly swings from cardio being more important than strength training to strength training being more important than cardio. Recently, however, a consensus has emerged: Both types of exercise are necessary for optimal health. Strength training and cardio are the Yin and Yang of human fitness.

    Fitness Myths

    People usually decide whether to do more strength training or more cardio based on their goals. If they want to lose weight, they do cardio; if they want to build muscle, they do strength training. While this is a reasonable approach, it’s a bit oversimplified.

    Conversely, those who do cardio often avoid weight lifting because they fear it will make them look too “bulky,” while those trying to put on size often skip the cardio in fear of losing muscle. Both of these are common fitness myths.

    Myth 1: Lifting weights will make you ‘too bulky’

    Many of those who do cardio often avoid weight lifting because they fear it will make them look too “bulky.” This is not necessarily the case, however.

    The thing to understand is that muscle growth is a gradual process. Trust that your biceps are not suddenly going to rip through your shirt after just a few curls. What weightlifting and strength training will do, though, is work to improve your overall endurance, mobility, strength, and metabolism.

    Contrary to popular belief, strength training is actually one of the most effective ways to lose weight. Why? Because muscle burns more calories than fat when a person is at rest. A muscular person, in other words, burns more calories at rest than the average body type.

    Aside from burning extra calories, strength training is also beneficial for the following reasons:

    • It reduces superficial and visceral fat around your abdominal. A study by Harvard University found that men who did 20-minutes of weightlifting actually burned more long-term fat than those who did the same amount of cardio.
    • It’s good for your heart. Everyone knows that running, swimming, and other aerobic exercises are good for your heart, but it turns out that strength training is as well. Strength training is especially effective at reducing (bad) LDL-cholesterol.
    • It aids in injury reduction. This one is obvious, but strong muscles make you far less likely to injure yourself.
    • It contributes to longer life expectancy. Weight and strength training, it turns out, may also help you live longer.

    strength training benefits

    Myth 2: Cardio will make you ‘too lean’

    Just as runners may be afraid of getting “bulky,” weightlifters sometimes avoid doing cardio because they fear losing muscle. This perception, too, is misguided.

    While it’s true that in some extreme cases, doing incredible amounts of cardio can lead to muscle loss, it’s almost never the case. The first thing your body burns (that is, uses for fuel) is the food you eat. Next comes fat and only then will your body resort to burning muscle. So, unless you have zero percent body fat and are working out on an empty stomach—losing muscle by doing cardio is not something you need to worry about.

    Cardio beats out strength training in the following areas:

    • Boosting your metabolism: Running, specifically, stimulates the production of the hormone FGF21, which increases metabolic rate.
    • Improving your brain function: Cardio exercises like running and swimming have been shown to improve mental function and overall sense of well-being.
    • Improving sleep: Cardio helps you get to sleep longer, enter REM quicker, and wake feeling more rested.

    cardio benefits running

    Balancing Strength Training with Cardio

    There are three basic ways to balance strength training with cardio: You can do a switch-off routine, a same day/independent routine, or a same day/same time routine.

    Switch-Off Routine

    This routine takes into account a 5-day workout schedule, with the focus alternating between cardio and strength every other day.

    • Sunday: Start off with a simple jog. Go as far as you can comfortably go. In the beginning, this may only be a mile or maybe even less. As time goes on and your abilities improve, you should try and work up to doing at least 3-5 miles every Sunday.
    • Monday: Take a rest day.
    • Tuesday: Do a full-body weightlifting routine. This should include one to three chest exercises (4-sets), one to three back exercises (4-sets), one to three shoulder exercises (4-sets), two to four leg exercises (4-sets), one to two bicep exercises (4-sets), and one to two triceps exercises (4-sets).
    • Wednesday: Either jog again or do some other kind of cardio exercise like swimming, stairs, or using the elliptical. Regardless of which cardio exercise you choose, it should be for no less than 20-minutes.
    • Thursday: Repeat the same (or a similar) full-body weightlifting routine you did on Tuesday.
    • Friday: Do a final day of cardio. Again, this can be either jogging, swimming, using the elliptical machine, running on the treadmill, going to a spin class, or whatever else gets your heart rate up and your body sweating for at least 20 minutes.

    Same Day/Independent Routine

    This involves combining your cardio and strength routine on the same day, one after the other. It’s wise to begin with weight training first to warm your muscles up, as beginning with cardio can fatigue your muscles too quickly before you’ve even started lifting.

    Same Day/Same Time Routine

    The same day/same time routine is best embodied in high-intensity boot camp classes like CrossFit and Orange Theory. These kinds of workout classes aptly combine cardio and strength with short, alternating bursts of each in one workout.

    stretching workout fitness

    About the author: Ellie Batchiyska is a health and wellness writer for Stethoscope.com, where she covers heart-healthy fitness tips, dietary recommendations, and overall lifestyle choices.

    Posted by Guest Account
  • The Ultimate Strength Workout For Runners Who Pronate

    runners pronation training

    Do you over-pronate when you run? Do your arches fall inwards and leave you prone to injury? Strengthening the right muscle groups can ward off injury and help you become a better runner. Try our strength workout designed specifically for runners who over-pronate and see the difference for yourself.

    Banded Squats - 3 sets of 10 reps

    how to banded back squat gym fitness

    back squat resistance band workout runners

    Back squats are one of the best exercises you can do and will work the largest muscle group in the body – the legs and glutes. It's obvious that you need strong legs to be able to run efficiently, quickly, and tackle hills without issue. It's less obvious that a vast majority of people have weak glutes which let them down, and people who over-pronate when they run are especially likely to have weak glutes.

    By adding a resistance band into your squats, you can train your knees outwards and really focus on working your glutes, which will encourage you to run with better form and therefore become less prone to injury.

    Place your resistance band just above your knees and keep the tension throughout the entire squat. Make sure you drop low and then squeeze back up using your glutes. We recommend adding weight in the form of a barbell or dumbbells. 

    Pistol Squats - 3 sets of 10 reps on each leg

    how to do a pistol squat CrossFit strength training

    pistol squat technique how to strength conditioning

    Pistol squats are a favourite of the CrossFit community and are notoriously difficult to execute fully. If you cannot do a full pistol squat, use a bench or a step and sit back onto that.

    How to do a pistol squat:

    1. Stand with your back to a bench, a couple of inches in front of it.
    2. Hold your left leg up off the floor straight in front of you so that you are balancing on your right leg.
    3. Hold your arms out straight in front of you to help with balance.
    4. Slowly lower yourself down into a seated position on the bench using only the strength in your right leg.
    5. Gently tap down onto the bench – don't drop heavily or relax your muscles
    6. Use your glute muscles to stand back up.

    That's 1 rep on 1 leg. Repeat 10 times then move onto the left leg.

    Make sure you keep your knee aligned and don't let it fall inwards as you lower yourself onto the bench. Doing single leg exercises can improve any imbalances you may have which will prevent injury. 

    Banded Glute Bridges - 3 sets of 10 reps

    This exercise isolates the glutes so that they are forced to work hard. As mentioned above, a lot of runners suffer from weak glutes which can lead to poor running form and inevitable injury. By strengthening your glutes, you will find your knees naturally start to rotate outwards and your arches will lift, which will reverse the effects of over-pronation.

    How to do banded glute bridges:

    • Place the resistance band just above your knees.
    • Rest your upper back and shoulders onto the edge of a bench and bend your knees at a 90 degree angle with your feet flat on the floor hip width apart. You can use your arms to help you balance. 
    • Keeping your back straight and using the bench to pivot your body, lower your bottom towards the floor and then use your glutes to power back up.
    • Keep your knees wide and squeeze against the resistance band.

    That's 1 rep. You will immediately feel the burn! You can rest a weight on your hips to make this harder and see increased results.

    glute bridges exercise workout

    glute bridges exercise workout

    Decline Sit-Ups - 3 sets of 10 reps

    Although it's important to have strong legs and glutes to help you run with good form and offset the effects of natural over-pronation, it's also very important to incorporate core strengthening exercises into your weekly gym routine. Decline sit-ups are done using the decline bench. If your gym doesn't have one, you can do regular sit-ups on the floor.

    abs core workout strength

    sit ups strength training

    Posted by Alexandra Parren