Written by Cat Trentham
Strength training is a key component of fitness that helps individuals gain muscle, improve endurance, and increase overall health. A tool often seen in gyms, and especially among those lifting heavy weights, is the weightlifting belt. This accessory is not just for show; it plays a crucial role in enhancing performance and safety during lifts. This post will explore how weightlifting belts aid in bracing the core, alongside the Valsalva maneuver (a breathing technique used in weightlifting), and discuss how these elements work together to allow lifters to handle more weight safely and effectively.
Understanding Weightlifting Belts
Weightlifting belts are designed to wrap around the abdomen and are typically made from leather or synthetic materials. The primary purpose of these belts is to provide support to the lower back and help stabilise the spine during heavy lifting. But how exactly do they do this? It's all about increasing intra-abdominal pressure, which, in simple terms, means creating pressure inside your abdomen to support your spine from the inside out.
The Power of Bracing
When you're about to lift a heavy weight, bracing your core is crucial. Bracing refers to the act of tightening your abdominal muscles to create a solid base of support for your spine. Think of it as building a strong, tight cylinder around your lower back. A weightlifting belt enhances this effect by giving your abdominal muscles something to push against. The extra pressure not only supports your spine but also reduces the risk of back injuries.
What Is the Valsalva Maneuver?
Before we dive into how to master it, let's clarify what the Valsalva maneuver actually is. Simply put, the Valsalva maneuver is a breathing technique where you take a deep breath and hold it, tightening your abdominal muscles as if you're about to be hit in the stomach. This action increases intra-abdominal pressure, which supports the spine during heavy lifting. It's a crucial component of effective bracing, helping to create a solid and safe lifting environment for your spine.
Mastering the Valsalva Maneuver
To perform the Valsalva maneuver, follow these steps:
This technique increases intra-abdominal pressure significantly, especially when working in tandem with a weightlifting belt to create an incredibly strong core. The combination of a tightly braced core and the Valsalva maneuver allows lifters to lift more weight more safely.
Benefits of Using a Weightlifting Belt
Choosing the Right Belt
Not all weightlifting belts are created equal, and the right choice can make a significant difference in your lifting experience. For women and slightly shorter or slimmer men, a 6mm thick, 3" width belt is often the best choice. It provides ample support without being too bulky. Taller or broader men might find a 10mm thick, 4" width belt more to their liking, offering more coverage and support for larger frames.
My recommendation would be a Pioneer belt, available from 9for9.co.uk. One of the things that makes these great is their staggered hole design. This ingenious feature ensures an optimal fit even if you're between traditional hole sizes, allowing for precise adjustments to your waist. This advantage is crucial for those who are in between sizes or whose weight may fluctuate, ensuring the belt always provides the right level of support.
Weightlifting belts are more than just a lifting accessory; they're a tool for enhancing performance, preventing injury, and achieving greater strength gains. By understanding how to properly use a belt, incorporating techniques like the Valsalva maneuver, and choosing a belt with thoughtful features like staggered holes for an optimal fit, lifters can take their training to the next level. Remember, the right belt can make all the difference, so consider your options carefully and choose a belt that fits your body type and lifting needs. Happy lifting!
Written by Cat Trentham
The festive period is a blend of joy, family gatherings, and delicious treats. While it's a celebratory time, it also poses challenges in maintaining nutrition goals. Understanding your body's needs and planning accordingly is crucial. My strategy is to stick to normal eating habits, with the exception of Christmas Day and Boxing Day. On Christmas Day I will indulge in whatever I fancy and I use Boxing Day as a transitional day, I enjoy a few treats but start to return to my regular diet pattern, setting up for a full return to my routine by the 27th.
Here’s my take on how to navigate nutrition during the Christmas period without missing out on the joy of the festivities.
Embrace Balance, Not Restriction
Be conscious of your body's hunger and fullness signals. It's fine to indulge but be mindful of going overboard. This balance is important for maintaining energy and mood. Pay special attention to these cues to enjoy without excess. Practice portion control by enjoying your favourite festive foods in moderation. This approach lets you savour the foods you love without overindulgence, striking a balance between enjoyment and health.
Try and stick to your usual eating schedule to manage your appetite and avoid overeating during the holidays. Consistency and sticking to familiar meal times will help you maintain a stable metabolism and a sense of normalcy amidst all the excitement.
Prioritise Protein and Fibre
Emphasise high-protein and high-fibre foods to stabilise blood sugar and to keep you feeling full longer. This is especially useful during the festive season with its carbohydrate and fat-rich meals.
High Fibre foods help support gut health and digestion. To incorporate more into your diet, try starting your day with breakfasts like shredded wheat or porridge with flaxseed and raspberries, and include fibre-rich foods like roasted parsnips in your Christmas lunch! If you don't currently eat many fibrous foods, be sure to introduce them gradually, so as not to stress your gut out and stay well hydrated, as high fibre foods will draw water into the gut.
Protein is key for satiety (feeling full) and muscle maintenance. Some great high-protein, low-fat snack options between meals include lean meats, shellfish, protein yoghurts or protein shakes.
Hydration is Key
Ensuring adequate hydration is essential. Frequently, what we perceive as hunger is actually thirst. By drinking plenty of water, you can more accurately gauge your hunger levels, helping to prevent overeating. Beyond appetite regulation, staying hydrated is beneficial for digestion - especially useful when consuming richer foods than normal! Additionally, adequate hydration contributes to healthier, glowing skin - a nice bonus for the festive season!
Be Selective and Mindful
At buffets or dinner spreads, take a moment to survey your options and choose the items you are genuinely excited to try. Remember, there's no obligation to sample everything available. Being selective in your choices enables you to enjoy your favourite foods while helping avoid the consumption of unnecessary calories. When you choose to indulge, do it mindfully. Eat slowly and savour the flavours, rather than eating absentmindedly. This approach enhances the enjoyment of food and helps prevent overeating.
Keep Alcohol For Celebrating
Try to reserve alcohol for times of celebration: Christmas parties, meeting friends and Christamas lunch! Try to avoid daily drinking or drinking out of habit. Be intentional with your choices, perhaps choosing lower-calorie options like light beers or wine spritzers to balance the high caloric intake from festive meals. Or prioritise quality over quantity - enjoy a well-made cocktail or favourite wine for a more satisfying experience, making you less likely to overdo it, while still embracing the festive cheer.
Keep up with your regular exercise routine during the holidays to help offset the higher calorie intake. Remember, staying active is important not only for physical health but also for mental well-being amidst the busy festive season.
Getting Back on Track
If you overindulge, don’t worry: just be kind to yourself and simply refocus the next day. A good strategy is to reset with a day of nutritious, whole foods to get back into your regular eating habits, helping to reestablish your routine and maintain a healthy balance.
The Christmas period can be enjoyed without compromising your nutrition goals. Through careful planning and mindful eating, it's possible to strike a balance between savouring festive treats and maintaining a healthy diet. Emphasise moderation rather than deprivation, and remember that the holiday season is about more than just food. Focus on the joy of being with loved ones and creating lasting memories. By adopting a mindset of moderation and mindfulness, you can fully enjoy the season while keeping your health and nutrition in check.
Written by Cat Trentham.
October at PB Strength & Fitness Mentoring was electrified with the buzz of our much-anticipated lifting competition. This event was a testament to the hard work, dedication, and pure grit of our personal training attendees and members. Let's jump right into the highlights!
Three Lifts, Three Attempts
Participants each had three attempts at pushing their 1-rep max in back squats, strict presses, and deadlifts. With every attempt, the energy in the room grew, especially as some of our most devoted lifters pushed their limits.
Achievements That Left Us in Awe
Witnessing a lifter set a personal best (PB) is always a thrill, and this competition delivered in spades!
Special shoutouts go to:
Medalists – Champions Spotlight
The Wilks coefficient played a crucial role, levelling the playing field and eliminating the need for weight categories. Here's a round of applause for our medal winners:
And a roaring cheer for our overall winners Paul and Chloe, who proudly took home the trophies!
A Day of Tight Competitions & Celebrations
Despite being a smaller event with a few last-minute dropouts, the competition was fierce and closely contested. On the men's side, each lift was dominated by a different winner. As for the women's side, the medals were a tug of war between Chloe and I, with Chloe's outstanding 113kg squat becoming the highlight of the day and sealing her victory. Well done Chloe!
Wrapping It Up
While some lifters showcased their peak form, others demonstrated admirable resilience, by participating despite recent illnesses or injuries. But more than the feats of strength, it was the camaraderie, support, and mutual respect that made the day memorable – perfectly capped off when we all went for coffee afterwards. Congratulations to all participants, whether you set new records or simply pushed through challenges. We're already looking forward to the next one! Mark your calendars: the provisional date is set for April 6th, 2024.
Written by Cat Trentham.
I am excited to announce that my book, "Indoor Rowing Mastery", has achieved the #1 spot in the rowing category on Amazon! This incredible milestone occurred shortly after launch, and it's thanks to each and every one of you who purchased the book!
The Journey of "Indoor Rowing Mastery: Unlocking Your Potential"
"Indoor Rowing Mastery" is more than just a book; it's a culmination of passion, hard work, and a desire to share the world of rowing with readers everywhere. The success it has experienced has truly been overwhelming!
A Special Thank You
I want to extend my deepest gratitude to everyone who has been part of this journey. From the readers who bought the book to those who left thoughtful reviews and shared it with friends and family, your support has been invaluable. Thank you!
Though we've reached a remarkable milestone, the adventure is far from over. I am committed to continuing to explore and share the world of indoor rowing with you all.
Written by Cat Trentham.
Photography by Reg Smith (@regsmithphotography)
Last weekend's book launch at PB Strength and Fitness Mentoring was a joyous celebration, promoting the release of my book amongst friends, family and fellow rowing enthusiasts. The room was filled with balloons and bunting in my brand colours, setting a lively and jubilant atmosphere. The prosecco flowed freely, and guests could indulge in delicious hand-made cakes, each artfully crafted with my logo.
Reading, Rowing, and Revelry
My reading from the book and presentation about the benefits of indoor rowing and what makes the Concept2 machine so worthwhile put indoor rowing on the map for many. It got people talking and thinking about rowing in a way they hadn't before. You didn't have to be an expert to get something out of it - everyone there seemed to find something that resonated.
The 200m Challenge
We also had a 200m rowing challenge that added an energetic and competitive spirit to the afternoon. Congratulations to the winners:
A Toast to Success
Whilst I am still waiting to hear book sale numbers, the day (and the book) seemed a huge hit, with guests all ordering a copy. The success was palpable, and the excitement in the room was infectious. Thank you to everyone who came. The turnout was great, Whether a rowing enthusiast or a newcomer, the event offered something unique for everyone, truly making it an afternoon to remember.
Indoor Rowing Mastery is available now from Amazon.
If you're interested in learning more about indoor rowing, click here. I'd love to help you on your journey!
Written by Cat Trentham
It's an exciting time for me, and I want to share something special with all of you.
Today, I'm here to tell you about my upcoming book, "Indoor Rowing Mastery: Unlocking Your Potential."
Why I wrote it:
In creating 'Indoor Rowing Mastery: Unlocking Your Potential,' I wanted to pass on all the knowledge and experience I've gathered over the years. This book is a culmination of everything I wish I knew when I first started rowing. I've poured my heart into making this guide a resource that can truly accelerate the learning curve for newcomers and enhance the skills of seasoned rowers.
Inside, you'll find chapters dedicated to optimising your Concept2 rowing machine setup, perfecting your technique, upgrading your warm-ups, learning pro tips on maintenance, and navigating blister prevention. Benefit from insights on training intensity, nutrition and hydration. Get race-ready and learn how to utilise tools like the ErgData app and the Concept2 online logbook.
A Guide For All Levels
I've crafted "Indoor Rowing Mastery" to be a comprehensive guide for indoor rowing enthusiasts at every stage. Whether you're just starting your rowing journey or looking to gain further advancement, this book offers something valuable for every rower, whether a beginner or a competitor. I want to help every reader to unlock their full rowing potential.
Book Launch Party
I'd love for you to join me in celebrating the release of "Indoor Rowing Mastery." Mark your calendar for Sunday, 13th August 2023, from 2 pm to 4 pm at PB Strength and Fitness Mentoring, Unit 3 Wellington Place, Airfield Industrial Estate, Ashbourne, DE6 1HA. Enjoy cake, Prosecco, and rowing conversations, plus grab your paperback or digital copy on the day. Attendees will also be offered a one-month free gym membership!
Get Your Copy
"Indoor Rowing Mastery: Unlocking Your Potential" will debut on Amazon on Sunday, 13th August 2023. It will be available in both paperback and digital formats. Stay tuned for the purchasing links!
I hope you love the book!
by Cat Trentham
I am delighted to announce my recent association with British Rowing as an Indoor Rowing Master Trainer. This new role is a fantastic opportunity for me to equip others with the right knowledge and skills to introduce and enhance indoor rowing experiences across the nation.
As a Master Trainer, I will be providing training to volunteers, coaches, instructors, and fitness professionals, guiding them on how to lead the 'Go Row Indoor' sessions. This training is recognised by the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMPSA) and takes place both online and in-person.
By ensuring trainers know the nuances of using the rowing machine correctly, we can alleviate the common apprehensions individuals might have about this exercise. As someone who has seen the transformative power of indoor rowing firsthand, I believe it is an all-encompassing machine suitable for all ages and fitness levels.
My Vision Ahead
Indoor rowing isn't just an exercise; for many, it's a gateway into the broader world of rowing. With initiatives like 'Go Row Indoor', we're not just promoting a fitness regimen; we're inviting more individuals to experience the thrill of rowing, possibly leading them to explore the sport more extensively.
As I step into this role, I am optimistic about what we can achieve. It's not just about teaching someone the correct rowing technique; it's about introducing them to a community, a lifestyle, and possibly a new passion.
For those looking to delve deeper into the specifics of Go Row Indoor instructor training and its nuances, I highly recommend visiting British Rowing's dedicated section on their website.
Written by Cat Trentham.
Hyrox competitions are becoming increasingly popular among athletes and fitness enthusiasts looking for a new challenge. The event combines eight different workouts, including rowing and skiing on the Concept2 ergs, making it a true test of full-body fitness.
While many competitors believe they can improve their performance through individual training, working with an indoor rowing coach can help take your performance to the next level. Here's why:
Proper technique leads to better efficiency
An indoor rowing coach can help you perfect your technique on the Concept2 rowing and skiing machines. Using the proper form not only helps prevent injury but also improves your efficiency, allowing you to complete the workouts with less energy expended. This leaves you with more in the tank for the rest of the competition.
Heart rate zone training for optimal performance
Understanding your heart rate performance can turn a hard, inefficient row or ski at a Hyrox race into a steady breather with very competitive splits. An experienced coach can help you train in the right heart rate zones to maximize your endurance and energy expenditure. Proper pacing and technique also help maintain a lower heart rate, which allows you to use the ergs to catch your breath before moving on to the next discipline.
Targeted training for specific events
Hyrox competitions involve a range of different exercises, including running, lunges, and sled pushes. However, the rowing and skiing events are unique in that they require a specific set of skills and fitness.
An indoor rowing coach can create a targeted training plan that focuses on improving your performance in these events. By training specifically for the rowing and skiing components of the competition, you can improve your overall score and give yourself a better chance of success.
Accountability and motivation
Working with an indoor rowing coach provides a level of accountability and motivation that can be difficult to achieve on your own. Your coach will keep you accountable for your training schedule, ensuring you stick to the plan and make progress toward your goals.
Additionally, your coach can motivate you during the tough workouts, pushing you to reach your full potential and achieve your best performance on race day.
Injury prevention and recovery
Training for Hyrox competitions can be intense, and injuries can happen. An indoor rowing coach can help you prevent injuries by ensuring you're using proper form and technique during training. If an injury does occur, your coach can help you develop a recovery plan that allows you to get back to training as quickly as possible while minimizing the risk of further injury.
Working with an indoor rowing coach can help you improve your performance in the rowing and skiing events at Hyrox competitions. With their guidance, you can perfect your technique, train in the right heart rate zones, and develop a targeted training plan for the event.
Additionally, having a coach provides accountability, motivation, and injury prevention and recovery support. So, if you're serious about taking your Hyrox performance to the next level, consider working with an indoor rowing coach today. Click here for details of how I can help you with this.
Written by Cat Trentham.
Hyrox is a global fitness competition that challenges athletes to complete eight different disciplines, including running, sled push, and burpee broad jumps, all in one workout. Two of these disciplines involve the use of Concept2 machines: rowing and ski erg.
To help Hyrox athletes improve their performance on these machines, I’ve put together a list of tips and tricks specifically for indoor rowing and ski erg.
Use the ErgData app's Target Stroke Rate feature to improve pacing in training
Hyrox races require athletes to complete several workout disciplines in a short amount of time, so proper pacing is essential. To practice for this, the ErgData app's Target Stroke Rate feature allows users to program a target stroke rate or cadence for their training pieces and displays it next to their actual rate throughout the workout.
ErgData’s Target Stroke Rate can be helpful when workouts require frequent rate changes, and the app gently alerts users if their stroke rate falls above or below the prescribed target. Varying stroke rates within a workout can add interest and focus, improve fitness and health, and provide opportunities to check technique and power application.
Compete with others on the ErgData app's Real Time Loop feature
The ErgData app's Real Time Loop feature allows users to row, ski, or ride with others around the world in real time on a virtual 1000-meter loop. The feature displays individual data and community real time data, including total people on the loop, total countries represented, and all-time total kilometres.
Users can switch between two views: a close-up low-angle view that lets you see the avatars and country flags of the people closest to you and an overhead view of the entire 1000m loop with dots showing the location of other users. The feature also includes "pace bots" that travel at a steady pace to help users pace their workouts. This feature can be helpful for athletes looking to train with others or to practice their pacing in a race-like environment.
Perfect your rowing technique
Proper technique is crucial for efficient and effective rowing. To improve your technique, identify common errors such as bending the arms too early or lunging at the catch, and practice drills that target those specific areas. Consistently practicing good technique will lead to a more efficient and faster row.
Master ski erg technique
Similar to rowing, proper technique is crucial for efficient and effective skiing on the ski erg. Videos provided by Concept2 can help athletes learn the double pole technique which involves driving the handles downward by engaging core abdominal muscles and bending knees. This is the technique which will be used by most Hyrox competitors.
Practice the "Put Your Hat On" cue for improved SkiErg performance
A common fault in new adopters of the SkiErg is leading the downward movement with the hands, rather than the head and chest. To correct this, try the "Put Your Hat On" analogy. This cue emphasizes core muscles over arm muscles, leading to maximum power generation and improved performance on the SkiErg.
By following these tips and tricks, athletes can improve their indoor rowing and ski erg performance for the Hyrox competition. Proper technique, pacing, and use of technology can help athletes achieve their best results on these challenging machines. Click here for details of how I can help you improve your row and ski technique.
Written by Cat Trentham.
If you're training for the Hyrox race, it's essential to have efficient and effective rowing and skiing techniques. Here are five questions every competitor should ask themselves about their rowing technique.
1) Am I using optimal rowing form and technique?
The first question you should ask yourself is whether you are using proper form and technique. Rowing and skiing are technical movements, and performing them with improper form can result in less efficient movements and injury. Proper form ensures that you engage the right muscles and use your energy efficiently. Make sure you engage your legs, core, and arms in the right sequence when performing the movements.
Indoor rowing technique coaching
If you are unsure about your form, working with an experienced indoor rowing coach can help you iron out any bad habits you may have developed. A coach can provide you with a personalised training plan that includes regular form checks, helping you to make significant efficiency gains.
Even small improvements in technique can result in faster splits and lower heart rates. Don't be afraid to invest in a coach if you are serious about improving your Hyrox performance.
2) Am I maintaining a proper pace?
Maintaining the right pace is crucial when rowing and skiing. It's important to pace yourself correctly and not go all-out at the beginning, only to run out of steam later. You should have a plan in place for each workout and aim to maintain a consistent pace throughout. Practice at different speeds and intensities, so you know what pace you can maintain during the Hyrox race.
Coaching for indoor rowing pacingHaving an experienced indoor rowing coach can be extremely helpful when it comes to pacing during Hyrox. A coach can help you create a personalised training plan with specific pacing goals for each workout. They can also help you learn how to properly pace yourself during each discipline in the race, so you don't exhaust yourself too quickly.
It's important to remember that Hyrox is an endurance race, and knowing when to push hard and when to back off can make all the difference. A coach can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses and create a strategy that maximises your performance throughout the entire event. With the guidance of a coach, you can learn to pace yourself effectively and optimise your performance during the race. Click here for details of how I can help you with this.
3) Am I using my heart rate to my advantage?
Using your heart rate to your advantage can be incredibly helpful when rowing and skiing in the Hyrox race. Learn to manage your heart rate by breathing deeply and slowing down when you feel your heart rate getting too high. Proper pacing and technique also help to maintain a lower heart rate, so you can use the ergs to catch your breath before moving on to the next discipline.
However, understanding and managing heart rate zones can be a complex task. This is where an experienced indoor rowing coach can make all the difference. They can help you identify your target heart rate zones and create personalised training plans to help you improve your heart rate performance. By working within these zones, you can maintain a steady pace and performance, without burning out too quickly.
With the right guidance and coaching, you can turn a hard, inefficient row at a Hyrox race, into a steady breather with very competitive splits. So, consider working with a coach to improve your heart rate performance and take your Hyrox training to the next level.
4) Am I tracking my progress?
Tracking your progress is important when training for any sport, and indoor rowing and skiing are no exceptions. You should use a training log or an app like ErgData to keep track of your performance over time. This will help you identify areas that need improvement and see how you're progressing towards your goals.
5) Am I getting personalised coaching?
Getting personalised coaching can take your Hyrox training to the next level. A coach can help you improve your technique, create a personalised training plan, and provide feedback on your workouts. They can also help you set realistic goals and stay motivated throughout your training. If you're serious about competing in the Hyrox race, consider investing in a coach to help you reach your full potential. Click here to see how I can help you with your Hyrox training.
In conclusion, training for the Hyrox race requires a combination of technical proficiency, pacing strategy, heart rate management, progress tracking, and personalised coaching. If you answer these five questions honestly and incorporate the tips provided by experienced athletes and trainers, you'll be well on your way to Hyrox success. Good luck!