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health talk:
Fitness Tips

Australian personal trainer and bodybuilder Kris Porthill is based in Shanghai. He has been crowned Mr Universe, Mr World and Mr Australia and now he has joined forces with TALK to reveal his top fitness tips.

Day after day I see the same people come to the gym and perform the same exercises (incorrectly), in the same sequence, using the same weight. The end result is they all end up looking the same.

Maybe they are happy with this; maybe they find comfort in the specific exercises and don’t want their body to change. If so, then they are going about it perfectly. But if you are one of the people that aren’t happy, yet continue to do the same routine month after month, ask yourself why you aren’t seeing any change.

Anything is a better option than sitting on the couch watching DVDs, but the body has an amazing ability to adapt. When you start a new routine, after the first session you might be sore for a few days, but after a couple of weeks your body goes into auto pilot, using less effort than you did at the start.

The first few times it doesn’t come naturally – it takes extra effort, extra concentration and this means extra calories. It requires new muscles to be used in unfamiliar movement patterns and soreness is the body using additional calories to repair muscles, making you a better fat-burning machine.

So to help my clients see some changes in their bodies, I first teach them the correct technique to establish the best movement patterns. Then I make sure they recognise the need to switch up exercises – whether it’s the repetition range or the angle of the muscles as they lift. Alternatively, switching up the order of the exercises also helps because it means you are not always doing the same movements. One thing I see most often here in China is a preference for doing cardio prior to weights. You can always run and feel nice and tired after a good session. But how will this affect your weights? Would running after weights still be possible? Of course it is, but most people like to stick with what is common and familiar.

Another thing I do with my clients is give them big compound movements, such as squats, dead lifts, bench presses, chin ups and rows prior to any isolation movements. The more complicated the exercise, the more calories you burn performing it, the more coordination, multiple muscle control and development you will build. So next time you’re in the gym, switch up the exercises. Change from machine to free weights, swap barbell for dumbbell. Do the full range and focus on the muscle. Don’t struggle under a heavy weight and let your form slip. Ultimately a workout is meant to be a challenge; it should only be a routine in name and not in feeling.


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