Mark Hill Fitness Durban

Understanding Training

As the fitness industry has exploded into a major business, and the awareness of how training benefits your health and appearance, there has been an explosion of different training fads, opinions, gimmicks, and more “get ripped quick” schemes than ever before. While this is great for the industry it is also hard for anyone to figure out what the best approach is to suit their own personal needs and goals.

The first step in putting together an effective training routine is to properly understand the different types of training and the effect they have on your body.



Also called cardio respiratory or aerobic fitness. This is any activity that raises your heartbeat for an extended period of time.Examples of cardio activities are:- running, cycling, swimming, brisk walking, circuit training.

Benefits of Cardio training

  • Cardio will improve the effectiveness of your lungs to absorb oxygen and increase the amount of blood and oxygen delivered to all the cells in your body. Improving the efficiency of your body and how it works.
  • It is medically proven to lower blood pressure and help increase HDL (good) cholesterol whilst lowering the total (bad) cholesterol.
  • Aids in the reduction of body fat due to using excess energy/calories. Including cardio as part of your training program is a very effective weight management tool.
  • Another highly beneficial aspect is the effect it has on stress and anxiety. It has been proven that cardio decreases the stress reactions in the body. This helps relieves physical and emotional stress and can help with the treatment of depression.
  • Cardio training can also decrease your resting heart rate as well as improve your energy levels, improving your daily performance.

Cardio Myths

  • It is often though that the more cardio and longer sessions you do, the faster you will lose weight.The truth is Cardio only helps with weight loss as it burns excess calories. It is not the best and only activity for fat loss. A combination of resistance training and cardio is the best approach to a healthy better looking and functioning body.
  • The more cardio you do does not mean you will be losing more body fat in truth the longer the cardio session the more chance of your body breaking down muscle for fuel. The loss of muscle slows the Metabolism and decreases fat loss.
  • Long cardio sessions build up more free radicals in the body. These are toxins and can lower your immune System and influence aging.

Trainers tip

  • Unless training for an endurance event, use Cardio as PART of your training programme.
  • Keep it to under 30 mins. This takes advantage of all the benefits without any negative effects.
  • Change the pace. Don’t just sit on the treadmill / bike for 30mins. Transition between sprints and slower pace active rest. An example is, while jogging, jog for 3 light poles then sprint flat out to the next. Then jog for another 3 and repeat.
  • Mix it up. Your body quickly adapts to an activity. So change the type of cardio you do to keep your body Learning, adapting and burning fat effectively.

Weight / Resistance

Weight training can be anything from lifting your own body weight (push-ups, pull-ups etc.) to working out with weights in the gym. Weight training is used to stimulate muscle fibres, build physical strength, muscle mass and power. It is also often used in injury prevention and rehabilitation.

Your personal training goals will determine what type of weight training will suit you. Examples of weight training are:- bodybuilding, gymnastic training, powerlifting, circuit training.

Benefits of Weight Training

  • It will improve your daily performance. Any type of weight training will increase your strength (not size). Stronger individuals perform better in all daily activities.
  • Weight training helps slow the effects of aging on the body. From the age of 30 you lose on average 1% of muscle mass per year. So effectively that means by the time you are 75 years old you would have lost 45% of your muscle mass. What this means is you will be getting weaker and more injury prone as you age. Lifting weights can help prevent this.
  • Injury prevention. Doing the correct types of weight training exercises can help prevent injuries in sports and daily activities by strengthening muscles, ligaments and tendons. It also helps you maintain good posture as you age, which is very important for correct spinal alignment and health.
  • Weight training promotes healthy and strong bones and therefore reduces the risk of osteoporosis in women dramatically.
  • Weight training can lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk for diabetes and some types of cancer.
  • Lifting weights can lower your risk of heart disease by increasing good cholesterol and decreasing bad cholesterol.
  • One of the major benefits of lifting weights is the effect it has on your body composition. It increases your metabolism and alters your fat to muscle ratio. What this means is that by gaining more muscle you will burn more calories and therefore reduce your body fat which makes weight training a very effective weight loss tool.
  • Lifting weights keeps you burning calories for up to 24hrs after a workout. Because lifting weights puts a lot more stress on your muscles and central nervous system, your body needs to recuperate after a hard training session. This recuperation uses energy/calories.

Trainers Tip

  • First step to achieving the results you want is to figure out your goals. Do you want to get stronger, bigger or do you want to improve your sport? Once you have clarified this, it will directly determine which training programme will suit your needs.
  • Do NOT give up. Set yourself small realistic goals and stay consistent. Training consistently is the key to success.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others. This is a major flaw in all of us. What needs to be understood is we are all genetically different. Our type of muscles fibres, height, ancestry, nutritional needs all make us perform and look differently. A short person will never be a champion long jumper nor will a short stocky built person make a champion endurance runner. The trick is to accept your genetic strengths and limitations and improve on them from there.
  • Use the FITT technique (frequency, intensity, time, type) to keep progressing. Try changing your routine every 5/6 weeks.

Functional Strength
& Training

Benefits of Functional Training

  • Functional training movements generally recruit multiple muscles at once. Increasing your heart rate and expending more energy while building physical strength. This makes it an excellent cardio, weight training and fat burning form of training.
  • Functional movements improve strength, flexibility and agility. I personally consider functional training to be the best form of all round training.
  • Functional training enhances the relationship between the nervous and musculoskeletal system to provide quick, reactive powerful movement patters that are utilized daily and in your chosen sport.
  • Functional training boosts your metabolism by recruiting more muscle at a time. This will aid in achieving a leaner, more toned physique that not only looks good but functions better.
  • Functional movements strengthen all the muscles of the core and trunk way more effectively than isolated core and abdominal exercises.

Trainers Tip

  • Ensure you slowly increase the skill and physical demands of a functional move as to build a strong base and prevent injury.
  • Focus on the basics first. Once you have mastered the basics with perfect form slowly introduce more difficult movements. For example:- Only once you have mastered the burpee correctly, move onto a single legged burpee and then progress to a single legged burpee onto a step.
  • Keep your core activated through all movements.
  • No matter what training programme you are following always try incorporating at least one functional move into your workout.
  • Perfect the following basic functional moves before moving onto more challenging moves.

Training for your
specific goals

Muscle Building

  • If you want to add muscle to your physique I recommend progressive resistance training/ weight training. This means that you slowly increase the weight/resistance being used to keep your muscles adapting and growing, 5 to 10% weekly is sufficient.
  • It is important to ensure that you train each part of your body evenly to create a balanced, injury-free physique. For example, If you want to build your chest ensure you also train your back to keep a balance. Over-training one muscle group will develop uneven forces on your joints and ligaments, increasing the risk of injury.
  • Focus on performing between 8 to 15 reps per exercise, this has been proven as the most effective rep range for muscle growth.
  • It is recommended that 1 to 6 reps is most effective to build muscular strength and power. 8 to 15 reps for muscle gains and strength and 15 to 20 reps for muscular endurance.
  • An effective weight training session should be limited to 45 to 60 minutes.
  • Nutrition makes up 70% of a successful muscle building program. You are what you eat!
  • Keep your cardio training to 15 to 20 minutes sessions at a moderate intensity. It is recommended to do this after your weight training routine.


  • Most important thing to remember is that YOU CANNOT SPOT REDUCE WEIGHT. For example, if you carry excess weight on your stomach, no matter how many abdominal exercises you perform, this will not reduce your stomach. Fat will be lost gradually in layers throughout your body with a good training and nutrition programme.
  • An effective weight-loss training program should consist of weight training, functional training, and cardio. This does not mean spending extra hours in the gym but rather combine elements of each for a maximum workout of 60 minutes.
  • A proper realistic eating plan is essential for effective weight loss. No matter how many hours you spend training, bad nutrition will limit your results drastically. You are what you eat!

All round fitness, flexibility & toning

  • Recommend full body functional training to achieve all round fitness while improving the appearance of your physique and improving the mind, body connection.
  • It is recommended to perform anything from 8 to 20 reps per exercise. Ensure all exercises are performed with correct technique to prevent injury and efficiently tone muscles.
  • Correct nutrition will aid in muscle recovery and increase fat loss.
  • I personally recommend a proper functional training session should not last more than 45 minutes as it places extreme stress on your central nervous system and demands a lot from your body.
  • Training 3 to 4 times a week is more than adequate to see the physical and mental results of a functional training routine.