Fitness: The Three Pillars of Training

Fitness: The Three Pillars of Training

As he prepares to welcome Members to the all new Gym, Wellness Director Nathan Williams asks: How effective is your training plan?

I stand with Ben Pakulski, a leading authority on all things ‘muscle’, in advocating the three-pillar training philosophy:

  1. Strength/Hypertrophy
  2. Stability and Mobility
  3. Aerobic Conditioning

It’s hardly game changing thinking. Perhaps it’s even ‘obvious’, but there’s beauty in its simplicity and honesty. Here's my take:


1. Stability and mobility

Why did I put this first? I believe in "Movement first, load next" in terms of training priorities. Too many people bypass improving joint mobility and movement quality to rush to the good/hard stuff. Ironically this often results in the good/hard stuff turning bad for you and your body.

Regardless of age, everyone should give adequate time to work on stability and mobility; increasingly so as your routine intensifies.

How many hours (of your total training week) do you currently devote to Mobility/Stability, injury prevention, movement quality?

Where to start?

The new Gym has you covered. Join us for yoga and/or pilates. You don’t have to look far for the world’s most iconic athletes advocating for the benefits of yoga and the direct correlation with a prolonged career at the top (just ask Tom Brady or Roger Federer).

How much do you need?

Every body is different but a good initial target to aim for would be 1-2 hours per week for maintenance, or small gradual improvements/changes. 3-6 hours for significant progress with daily practice of 30mins or more being the optimal method to see general improvements in all techniques.

2. Strength/Hypertrophy

You could spend the rest of your living days studying the iron game and experimenting with the nuances of tempo, load, technique variations and still not reach a desired level of mastery in the weight room – it’s that big a subject. It’s vital that first, you learn the basics.

Step 1: Competency in the basics

  • Squat - Below parallel (with upper body control) will always be the standard to aim for. Strength through length. Work on your squat depth, and then add load.

What your excuse not to go below parallel?

  • Hinge (Deadlift) - Competent hinging is a key component for barbell training and overall core and back strength. Mastering the hinge pattern will save a lot of potential injury further down the line
  • Push - Basic relative strength in a ‘push’ pattern is the ability to perform at least one chest-to-floor push up (as a start), then add reps from there. There is nothing wrong with regressing the technique and getting high quality reps in to build volume and technique proficiency.

The incline push up (using bench or wall)

  • Pull - Basic relative strength in a PULL pattern is the ability the perform at least one chin up (strict form not a funky version - you know who you are!) The chin up is also a grip and arm strength exercise; if this is new to you it is very normal to not be able to do it at first! There are dozens of excellent exercises available to build strength of the upper limbs/grip towards performing a full chin up. All of which we can work on together. There’s little more pleasing in your strength journey than nailing your first chin up!
  • Lunge - Lunges are a great exercise. They can help build muscle, challenge the cardiovascular system, promote mobility in the lower body and add a tonne of variety to keep training interesting and add difficulty when needed.

Step 2: Build volume, intensity, consistency and work ethic

Once you have competency in the basics, then it’s time to build the fundamental lifts and put the work in - This may take 10-20 years (ask any gym rat!). Some of the most successful people in the gym are the ones who have worked on consistency over the years, cycling in and out of periods of easy/moderate/hard work over 'years rather than months'. Weight training should be treated as a lifelong quest and the goal is to continually improve, adjust and learn about your body which will undoubtedly change as you get older.

3. Aerobic Conditioning (AC)

This is a huge area that we’ll need to diver deeper into in the future. AC starts with longer duration efforts (L.I.S.S or NEAT) right the way through to shorter, more intense HIIT training or interval protocols.

The main point I want to make here is to get away from the 'catch-all' way that 'cardio training’ is often discussed. Planning your cardiovascular training allows you to focus on certain areas and not just 'run for 10km' again or 'do some sprints'.

That’s a whistle-stop tour of everything I hold true so far as an effective training plan is concerned. I’ll be back soon with advice on how to actually put this into action.

If you can’t wait till then, come by level 4, Alyssa and I’d love to show you the new gym, have a chat about your personal wellness goals and how we can begin your wellness journey together.

5 ideas / habits to create positivity in our day

Todays blog is about the need to be positive (again!). I recently re-read my June 2020 blog called "Positively Locked down?"and while I don't think i'm back to that feeling, these latest restrictions have definitely been an unwelcome halt in Singapore's (and our own mental) recovery.

Here is the link to last years blog

So in the words of a friend "Its time to get your positive pants on" and for want of a better phrase "make shit happen". Here are 5 Habits / Ideas to get yourself out of a funk over the next 30 days.