Fitness Science

Evidence-based fitness truths

  • Beyond muscle failure.

    3 July 2019 Author: Peter Rana

    As I’ve said on numerous occasions, whether you’re an advanced and devout weightlifter or simply a dedicated exerciser, high intensity strength training is the most time efficient, productive and safest method for gaining strength and adding muscle.

    But eventually your gene pool speaks up and says, “Hey, if you want my co-operation you’re going to have to work much harder for it.” Or to put it another way, you reach a training plateau. This is the point where advanced high intensity training techniques can be used as plateau-busters

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  • Do less, achieve more: The importance of recovery time.

    25 March 2019 Author: Peter Rana

    Coming off a 7th place finish at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Desiree Linden felt her 2017 entrance for the Boston Marathon was going to be the year she triumphed, despite the fact that no American woman had taken first place since Lisa Weidenbach’s 1985 win.

    As it turned out, she finished fourth. Her disappointment was tainted with fatigue, so much so that she was later quoted in Runner’s World, “I hated everything about running”; her body desperately needed a break.

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  • If negative strength training’s so good, why’s it taken so long to catch on?

    25 October 2018 Author: Peter Rana

    Back in the 1970s, the father of High Intensity Training, Arthur Jones, set out to demonstrate that ‘negative work’ (eccentric contraction) is one of the most important factors involved in exercise performed for the purpose of increasing strength and muscle growth. His study, known as the Colorado Experiment, proved just that. The results were unprecedented. And still today, no one has ever produced results as dramatic.

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  • Biggest loser or quickest regainer? 11 tips for maintaining long-term weight loss

    23 July 2018 Author: Peter Rana

    In 2016 Dr Kevin Hall, an expert on metabolism at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institute of Health (USA), published the results of his six-year study of participants from the television show, The Biggest Loser. The findings were so alarming they made the front page of The New York Times™ and the Journal of Obesity.

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  • The NZ Herald debunks four fitness myths

    14 March 2018 Author: Peter Rana

    “Whether you're looking to shed body fat or bulk up, there is a trove of conflicting information - some reliable, some not.”

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  • The New York Times discovers proof for protein augmentation

    20 February 2018 Author: Peter Rana

    “People who would like to become physically stronger should start with weight training and add protein to their diets, according to a comprehensive scientific review of research.”

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  • Diets and body composition: be careful what you believe!

    18 September 2017 Author: Peter Rana

    The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) recently published a new paper called: ISSN Position Stand: Diets and Body Composition. Essentially it’s a critical analysis of the current literature on how various diets and nutrition strategies impact body composition. The paper cuts through the nutrition myths that so many of us blindly accept as truths and provides clarity on the effects of various diets on body composition.

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  • Get out of your head and into your body!

    14 August 2017 Author: Monique Rana

    Have you ever felt completely unmotivated and not wanting to get out of bed to exercise? You’re not alone. The other morning when I awoke I found it difficult to get up and excited for my morning run with our dog. Throughout my life there have only been a few times where I haven’t had the energy or motivation to exercise.

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  • Truth: Agonising backs need specific, intensive exercise

    5 June 2017 Author: Peter Rana

    Between each vertebra in your spine is a disc. This disc has a soft, shock absorbent centre and a stronger, stiffer outer binding. Under healthy conditions, disc cells receive a free flowing supply of nutrients and oxygen that are necessary to maintain their resiliency and metabolic functions. However, unlike most other cells of the body, they don’t receive these directly from blood vessels. Instead, disc cells receive their supply of nutrients by diffusion of water (Mooney, 2000).

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  • Truth: Expensive≠Healthy

    29 May 2017 Author: Peter Rana

    Forget the nutrition facts label, the ingredients list and the say-so of experts. A new Vanderbilt University study published in the Journal of Consumer Research finds that shoppers think a food is healthy only when it costs them more. It’s the latest evidence that your brain may work against you when it comes to choosing healthy foods.

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  • Stress test without the stress

    1 May 2017 Author: Monique Rana

    The other day Peter shared an interesting fact with me that he’d learned from Clinical Exercise Physiologist, Aalia Desai – that just a 10% improvement in your cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) may reduce your risk of a premature death by a significant 15%! That seemed to me a pretty good reason to find out how fit I actually was.

    So I decided to let Aalia, who works at the ExerScience Clinic, put me through an exercise stress test – a first for me.

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  • Getting backs on track.

    20 February 2017 Author: Peter Rana

    Back conditions are a significant burden of health loss across the population. The New Zealand Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study, 2006-2016 ranked Low Back Pain (LBP) as the third biggest contributor to health loss in New Zealand, as measured in disability adjusted life years (DALYs). One DALY is equivalent to loss of one year of healthy life. It estimated that back disorders were associated with 27,112 DALYs in the New Zealand population in 2006 and that 10% of the New Zealand population, or around 437,000 people, had a back condition.

    Costs associated with LBP that are covered by Vote:Health (the primary source of funding for New Zealand's health and disability system) are estimated to be about $215 million per year and more than $325 million per year when ACC costs are included.

    Back pain is a big, expensive problem!

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  • Grout Fit™, it’s the next big thing.

    31 October 2016

    This weekend I re-grouted my shower. It took around 8 hours and was quite a workout. My forearms got so fatigued that I had to recruit my chest muscles to do a fly-type movement for a bit of horizontal flexion, squeezing out every last drop of grout from the tube. And it occurred to me, had I discovered the next big fitness craze? Grout Fit™. After all, it required a whole lot of effort and made my forearms ache like hell so it must be good for you, right?

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  • Truth: To fail is to succeed.

    22 July 2016

    In Sports Illustrated in 1975 a revolutionary training programme was lauded. It involved a limited number of whole body exercises performed on innovative equipment. Training was to momentary muscular failure with workouts lasting less than thirty minutes done three times per week.

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  • Truth: Exercise is exercise

    13 June 2016

    For many years, it’s been a widely held belief that resistance training (or strength training) must be supplemented with some form of aerobic or endurance activity such as running to significantly improve cardiovascular fitness. But the truth is, there is no such thing as exercise for cardio vs resistance training as we’ve come to understand it.

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  • Weight loss: there’s no magic wand.

    23 May 2016

    If only there was a magic weight loss wand you could wave to help you shed fat, rev-up your metabolism and hold onto your muscle. Well, magic wands are in short supply, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
    That’s the good news from a new study released in February this year by researchers at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. Their findings show that you can lose a significant amount of fat and augment your muscle in just 28 short days. But before we find out how they came to that conclusion, here’s a bit of background.

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