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February 3, 2011
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Here are some tips from LT Rob Orr to help you get
back into shape after the festive break.
WHETHER a seasoned
athlete, an occasional
fitness participant realis-
ing a fitness assessment
is looming or a beginner with a New
Year's resolution to get fit, many
members will return in the New Year
and suddenly and vigorously engage
in a fitness training regime.
Before starting with the fitness drive,
however, the most important piece of
training advice is: SLOW DOWN.
One of the key causes of injury
when returning to physical training
and sport, as well as being a major
motivation buster, is the bull-at-a-gate
Members, feeling refreshed from
leave or under pressure to pass a fit-
ness assessment, decide to take the
plunge and get stuck into their fitness
Training diligently every day for
an hour, many push hard to reach their
goals. Unfortunately, this approach
often leads to failure as the body and
mind tire rapidly.
For some, motivation is lost, while
for others who push through mental
warning barriers, over-training and
The key step in avoiding these pit-
falls and ensuring a successful return
to physical training is knowledge and,
with this in mind, this column will
look at the impact of postings and
leave on the body and how to start or
re-start physical training.
a new posting location
With many ADF members pro-
ceeding to a new environment on
posting, acclimatisation is very impor-
tant.It is not just the temperature range
between posting locations that needs
to be considered but also humidity --
humidity reduces the effectiveness of
sweating as a means of heat reduction.
Solution: Depending on the sever-
ity of the climate change, acclimatisa-
tion is best achieved over a seven to
14 day period.
This acclimatisation period should
include bouts of physical activity, pre-
dominantly aerobic in nature, in the
environment (not just in an air-con-
ditioned room). The activity should
gradually increase in time (and time
of day -- ie cooler to hotter) and inten-
sity up to the level you were operating
at before your posting. Remember to
remain well hydrated and
be sun smart.
A loss of fitness
As physical activ-
ity is typically reduced
over the festive season,
physical fitness declines.
Some research has
shown that as much as
one per cent of VO2 (a
measure of aerobic fit-
ness) is lost per day fol-
lowing inactivity. In per-
formance measures this
equates to an increase
in 2.4km run time of
about one minute. When
it comes to strength,
although the loss is not
quiet as drastic, muscle
strength as well as mus-
(for push ups) and mus-
cle power (for explosive
Hang on, not so fast
EASY DOES IT: Beware of bull-at-a-gate syn-
drome when you start exercising again.
Photo: ABIS Andrew Black
sporting movements) is lost.
Often, members returning from
leave expect to be able to perform at
the same level of fitness performance
they enjoyed before their break.
They expect to be able to run at the
same pace or for the same length of
time, or do as many push ups or lift as
much weight. Many simply continue
with their training program as if they
had never taken a break.
Solution: Begin retraining slow-
ly, progressively increasing training
volume and intensity from your fes-
tive season levels to your pre-festive
The greater this divide between how
hard you were training before leave and
how much activity you completed on
leave, the greater the period of time that
should be allowed to recover fitness lev-
els pre-festive season.
An increase in weight
Often over the leave period the
reduction in physical activity com-
bines with an increase in food and
The outcome of this equation of cal-
ories-out versus calories-in is an increase
in body weight.
This increase in weight reduces the
aerobic fitness of the body, reduces the
body's relative strength and, most impor-
tantly, increases the weight your body
must now carry.
Solution: Consider the impact
of the weight gained over the festive
season on the muscles and bones of
the body. With an increase in weight
comes an increase in impact so include
some non or partial weight-bearing
aerobic activities like swimming, row-
ing and cycling.
Furthermore, now that the festive
season is over remove all junk food
from your house and focus on eating
and drinking well.
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