Hillfit:Strength – Frequently Asked Questions
You deal in UK pounds; what does Hillfit:Strength cost in US $?
Paypal automatically does a currency conversion when you buy. At the moment £9.95 works out at around $15
Is Hillfit:Strength available for a Kindle or in .mobi format?
I am working on it! It takes a little time to do the reformatting and will probably have something available shortly. I will email all purchasers when it is available.
I’m slightly unclear re timings. In the intro you talk about needing perhaps 2×15 min slots a week but the actual workouts only appear to be 5 min (4 exercise, 1 set each x 90 seconds). I’m happy either way, just wondering if I’m missing something.
I suppose I also feared that if I was to say – “all you need is 5 minutes a week” it might sound too sensationalist! 15 minutes is a nice gap of space that appeals to people as well - it is a simple slot in your diary, no excuses about not having 15 minutes.
When doing the row, my hands fatigued before the rest of my body. Any suggestions on how to modify the towel handle?
The grip can be a weak link in this exercise. To work around it, first of all adopt a more upright stance, moving your feet further from the door so the levers change making everything easer.
Secondly, what we can do is to “pre-exhaust” the back muscles – the latissimus dorsi / lats – so that they are tired and they give out before the grip. One easy way is with what is called a Timed Static Contraction (TSC).
We are aiming at the big muscles of the upper back – the lats – which pull the upper arm down. Get your towel row set up. Sit in front of a table, with your elbows on the table; now push begin to push down through the elbows. Gradually build up to a 50% effort and keep at that level for 30 seconds. Try to keep a 90 degree angle between your upper arm and torso. After 30 seconds, gradually ramp up your effort to 75% and keep at that for 30 seconds; finally ramp up to 100% – you are pushing down through the table with your elbows as hard as you can – and keep that up for a final 30 seconds.
When you start you might feel a bit daft, but by the end you will realise how effective this is. As soon as that final 30 seconds is over, go immediately into the modified row exercise. Your grip will still be strong, but your upper back will be hammered, so your grip will not fail before the lats.
I was wondering if it is more beneficial to do all four exercises in the same session. Would the same benefits be had doing one per night for instance?
My recommendation is that you do all 4 exercises in a single session. Do the moves one after another and try to move between exercises with as little rest as possible. There are a couple of reasons for this prescription:
- Recovery - When you work hard at your exercise with the right level of intensity, you will not only work that muscle but also impose a general systemic stress on your whole body. Your body works as a unit and rests and recovers as a unit. The resources that you apply to perform an exercise come from a general system that affects the whole body. So if you do the wall sit one day, the pushup the next and the row the third day, while you might be working different muscles each day you will be stressing your overall recovery ability and resources. Your body’s systems will still be getting worked hard each day. Training the whole body in one session and then taking some days off to let the muscles and the rest of the body recover and grow is better.
- Metabolic effect – doing each exercise hard to failure and then moving immediately to the next adds an extra cardiovascular effect to the session. If you are panting with effort after the wall sit and go straight into the slow pushup then your whole body will feel the effort and be stressed. Resting less between exercises increases the metabolic and cardiovascular effect but may reduce the weight you are capable of lifting or number of reps you can perform on subsequent exercises. If you move quickly from one exercise to the next it will stress conditioning.
I’ve read HillFit four times and have begun the journey over the hills so to speak…but what I stumbled over was my confusion as to how you do the exercises. Are they static or repetitions?
- Wall sit – yes this is a static exercise. You hold the position until you can’t hold it anymore. The position is strong and puts the muscles in a safe position. Progressions are to move towards the 90degree, maximum lever position then to add weight.
- Push up – the pushup is a motion: up and down nice and slow. The plank is as much as anything a test. If you can’t hold the pushup plank position for a minute you are not going to be able to maintain the proper body position to allow you to do full pushups – your “core”/ posture will collapse long before your chest/arms/shoulders. Working that plank will help to develop that core stability and strength in the postural muscles that is needed to allow you to do full pushups. While you are developing that stability the idea is to choose the easier options – wall pushup, pushup from desk, pushup from the knees. These will work the chest/arms/shoulders without the posture / core limiting you. Ultimately I’d like people to do full pushups but for most – even most men – they are too hard and the easier progressions will be needed. In this way the plank in essence becomes a 5th exercise in the routine. Do your modified pushups and then at the end do your plank to develop the core / postural strength that you need to do full pushups.
- Towel row – is intended to be motion. Check the FAQ page for a suggestion on preceding it with an isometric exercise to make it harder.
- Hip Raise – is intended to have motion. The key thing there is to actively squeeze the butt before you start to move.
First of all, hip extension. We are focussing on the “hip hinge”, not the lower back. The focus is on the glutes too rather than the hamstrings. Before you move at all, squeeze your “bum cheeks” together, then lift your hips in the air, keeping that squeeze on. To keep the work in the glutes, try lifting your toes so you are really pushing only through the heels.
These movements to me are all too fast, but the movement pattern is what we are aiming at:
An alternative and one which is probably easier and which to be honest I do myself, is to do the move in a kneeling position. This is often described as a kneeling hip thrust or a kneeling squat. You can search on YouTube for some examples, but the movement is the same as the hip extension I prescribe in the book. There is a decent description here:
Mike Reinold calls it a kneeling hip thrust and describes it here: He writes well, but if you are performing he move slowly as I recommend, then I think you can do it without the dowel and bands. Do it wearing a weighted rucksack to add resistance,.
Again as in Hillfit I would recommend a slow movement style, taking perhaps 10 seconds for each phase of the motion, up and down
If you want a more precise prescription as a guide, then I would advise that you aim to take 10 seconds each for both the lifting and lowering portions of the movements, taking special care to go smoothly at the turnarounds – the top and bottom of the motion. Remember that we want the benefits of exercise while we wish to avoid unnecessary wear and tear. Moving slowly and deliberately will help minimise those risks.
More to come…..
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