Monthly Archives: November 2014

Over coming plateaus.

Has your progress stalled?

Inevitably you will hit a plateau. I have spoken about this many times before, but not specifically for a given lift or goal. So, because of this I am going to do a short series on breaking through your plateaus, the aspects I will cover will be as follows:

– P.B breaking in the Squat, Bench Press & Deadlift
– Fat Loss
– Muscle Building

These 5 will be spread over each day next week, be sure to keep an eye open for the one that is most applicable to you currently.

Today however I want to help you with your mind set. Below is a simple task that will help you towards success in every aspect of you life (Yep, this is one of those transferable skills.).

Get a sheet of A4 Paper and a B2 pencil (Don’t ask why, just do it.).

Now write your goal at the top, then write down your current methods of achieving said goal. Here is an example:

Ross’ Goal – Add Muscle
– Set a time frame to achieve goal.
– Body measurements taken 1 month prior to starting.
– Established macro nutrient ratios to maintain current weight, then increased calories by 500 total per day.
– Periodised training trackable through notes (To assess strength gains.).
– Tracking overall weight once each week.

Next re-read your behaviours. Once you have done that ask yourself this: “Will this help me achieve my goal?” & “Is it sustainable?” if the answer is yes then move on. When you get to a behaviour that answers no to one or both of those questions it might be time to re-evaluate that behaviour and perhaps update or replace it.

Put simply if you’re getting a result then what you’re doing is technically working, provided it is sustainable you can continue it.

This task is merely to get you to look at what you are currently doing, this is so that you can see what works, what doesn’t and what possible changes you could make.


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Protein, protein and more protein.

Protein is important as we all know. Often times this is sorely lacking from some peoples diet. I am not talking about the quantity, I am talking about the quality.

We can get ample quantities of protein from varying sources, but sometimes they re not always the best quality and can be filled with nasties to say the least.

When it comes to protein sources I am pretty stuck in my ways. I personally like to get most of my meat from local butchers, fishmongers, farmers markets and occasionally a wholesalers (Especially for chicken, but will check where it has come from first.).

Now I understand that buying large quantities of high quality meat can be expensive, but you only get one body so why not look after it?

After all people will be happy enough to spend money on senseless crap and material objects that are of no consequence, if you can justify needing what you want then why not also buy what you need.

If money is truly a sore subject then I would advise a good quality protein (Concentrate is my personal choice if required.), this will help you get your protein intake for the day and you can also ensure it is of a decent standard, but you will have to pay the price for it. You can find endless recommendations on the internet, I would take some time and see what fits your pricing and needs.

*Please note a top quality protein powder is to be added as extra, not as a substitution. Always opt for good quality food first.

To establish your optimal protein intake you will need to take in to account these perimeters:

– Current body fat %
– Current lean mass
– Current basal metabolic rate
– Goal (I.E fatloss, muscle gain etc.)

Once you have these you can start to move forwards. I have written about working this out in the past, but it will change largely dependant on your goal.

Feel free to reply on this post or message me for more details on how to work out your needs.


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Tracking progression.

Are you progressively increasing your load volume each workout?

I was listening in on a conversation about a guys training and how he was increasing his volume or as he put it “Total load lifted.”, because of this I was very keen to keep listening because it’s rare people actually seem to know what they re talking about.

he went on to explain: Increasing volume will yield results, depending on what your goal is, so, because of this it is important to track what you are lifting and for how many reps. Take this simple example in to consideration:

Week 1 – 12×2 Squat @ 120kg
Week 2 – 10×2 Squat @ 130kg

You have lifted more weight, so you have done more overall load volume.

This sounds legit. Right?

120×24= 2880
130×20= 2600 … oh 😦

Apparently, you lifted less than the week before.

His point was valid, but I he slightly missed the mark with his example. For a load to be comparable to the previous week he would have needed to say 10×2 @ 144kg.

Now this is only taking in to account the overall load, there is a whole array of other considerations such as bar speed for example…. There is just so much to know.

Keeping the volume the same for a 3 week rotation using the example about would be as follows.

Week 1 – 12×2 – 120kg x24 = 2880
Week 2 – 10×2 – 144kg x20 = 2880
Week 3 – 8×2 – 180kg x16 = 2880

Now that is a lot of volume and some fairly heavy weights to shift. Once you have done that you would deload for a week and then start again at perhaps 125kg for example, then continuing this for 2 further cycles taking your training up to a 12week period before then having a total rest week off.

After that you would come back and reassess your goals and what need to be done.

Tracking your weights for specific lifts will help you establish weak areas, along with correct ways to continue progression.


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Productive or Procrastinate?

Productive or Procrastinate: Which category do you fall in to?

Walking in to the gym with a definitive goal for that day will always yield far better results than just walking in and winging it.

Setting mini goals as it were, is the best way of getting to your overall goal.

Last week I wrote about steps to your goal, this concept is one to stick by, hence why I am reiterating that fact today. There is however one difference, this post will be a training specific based on the focus of increasing strength and lean muscle mass (This will help increase your overall BMR which will burn more fat in the long run.).

These 5 tips will help you achieve strength and lean mass.

1 – Focus on compound movements (Squat, Deadlift etc.)
2 – Work you assistance exercises in super sets (2 exercises done back to back.)
3 – Pick four Exercises per workout will help keep things simple and your focus high (Deadlift 5×5, Pull up 10×5, Super set Seated Row @8 reps with Bicep curl @12 reps for 5 sets.)
4 – Keep rest to 120seconds and under 9this will help accumulative fatigue which increases intensity.)
5 – Throw in 1-3 tabata sprints at the end of the workout 920 seconds work 10 seconds rest repeated for 4min total.)

The next time you walk in to the gym think to yourself “Have I ticked all 5 points?”.


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Lets start the day by using our imagination.

Picture this: You have just finished a great workout. Your body feels great and you can almost feel the gains instantly, but you want to do more even though you’ve been in the gym close to an hour. What are you to do?

The answer is as simple as it is brilliant. You perform a finisher.

A finisher is a simple way of pushing that little bit further and giving everything you have left to the cause. It will also help fatigue those last few pesky muscle fibres.

Try one of the following:

Controlled from for all exercises using a 4 second eccentric tempo.

Chest – 50 Push ups
Back – 50 Pull Ups
Arms – 50 Dips (Triceps.) Dumbbell Curls – rack run (Biceps.)
Shoulders – Iron Cross hold (Light dumbbells 5min aim.)
Quads – 50 Walking lunges each leg
Hamstrings – 50 Glute bridges
Calfs – Reps for 5min solid. No stopping.

Trying these at the end of a workout is a great. Once you can do all the required reps/times you can increase the difficulty.


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Not all muscles are equal.

Did you know knot all muscles are created equal?

Many know of the basics, but for those who don’t; here is a quick recap on muscle fibres.

Type 1 – Slow Twitch – Require lots of oxygen and are hard to fatigue.
Type 2 – Fast Twitch – These use lots of glucose and create a lot of explosive power but fatigue quickly.

I know that is a very brief overview, but I have written extensively about the specifics before. If you want to know more just dig back through some older posts.

I want to explain why certain reps/set work well for one muscle group but not for others. This is because of the varying density or collection of fibre types in certain muscle groups.

If we start with the upper back for example you will find that there is a fairly even split (Almost 50/50.) in type dominance, this is why working either heavy weights low reps, moderate weights high reps or explosive work will all provide some colossal gains to your back.

The same goes for chest (Well depending on what research you read it has a slight lean towards the chest being more fast twitch responsive, fast 60/ slow 40 split essentially.) this is why upper body gains can come from various different training systems.

The shoulders however are more geared towards slower twitch fibres (fast 30/slow 70.), this is why shoulders work well with lots of volume.

When it comes to legs it gets very interesting. The quads (Or anterior.) seem to respond to high volume, lots of sets and reps for an endless burn. Subsequently the hamstrings (Posterior.) work best with explosive work, heavy weights and lower volume – that said some localised fatigue is never a bad thing.

In the end however people will inevitably respond very differently to specific stimulus. That said, it’s always good to have a basic understanding of how things work and here is what I would advise.

Chest/Back – Both high/low volume and reps, high/moderate weight.
Quads – High reps, high volume, high/moderate weight.
Hamstrings – Low reps, high volume, high weight, explosive work.
Arms – As with chest/back.
Calfs – All of the volume! If you wonder why yours don’t grow the answer is simple: You’re not working them enough.
Abs – Same as calfs.


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Steps to Success

Progress is a lot like s flight of stairs. You must take one step at a time, because if you don’t there is a chance you will miss one, trip and face-plant with epic style (I have done this many times.).

I have written several times about writing goals, planning your strategy for achievement, tracking your results and generally how to get what you want in life… well, at least in the gym.

Today I thought I would try a different tact to help you.

Instead of thinking in terms of absolution -End goal only- try and break it down in to stages, or steps. Grab a piece of paper and draw a set of steps on it. Seriously.

First you will need to write the bottom step (Where you are now.) and keep in mind the last step, but don’t write it yet. Next you will need to know your time scale, lets say 6 months for example, you can now establish how many steps you will need until you reach your last step (Your goal.).

For the ease of numbers we shall say you’re going to assess your progress once per month, you will need to draw 8 steps, the first step is where you are, then 6 steps that have mini goals on the (I will come back to this.), finally the 8th step will be you reaching the goal.

The 6 steps in between are those places you can write realistic mini goals and what behaviours you will need to adopt to achieve them.

Once you have done this make a copy of your ‘Steps to Success’ and put it on your fridge, work desk, car, or where ever you will see it regularly. This will help you stay focused.

Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day, so far it’s taken approximately 1,009,491 days to build Rome and they’re still going.


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No rack? now worries :)

I hope all are well this fine monday morning.

I was walking to work today after a good weekend. The rain didn’t phase me, nor did the early start or fact that my car insurance company had charged me twice.

I stroll in to work, get changed and venture around the corner towards my squat racks (Yes, they are mine.) only to find both are being used >:/… and the biggest insult was they were being used for bench press!!

Needless to say, after seeing this my entire routine was thrown in to disarray, all I could do was fall to the floor and stare intently at the power racks pining for one until it came free, just like so many before me… or at least I would have, if I hadn’t just decided to start with lunges first.

We all have a preferred order that we like to do our workouts in, but it doesn’t always happen just how we would like. When we are faced with a change we can either embrace it, or go and cry in the corner. Personally I would embrace it because I don’t have time for the alternative.

For example:
The bar is busy – Use dumbbells instead.
There are no benches available – Press ups or dips are good.
All racks are being used for curls – Slap said people curling, once that is done start with lunges or leg press.

Remember, just because something is different doesn’t necessarily make it bad. So, the next time you are faced with such a dilemma just change the order of your workout. There is no need to waste time waiting for a certain piece of kit when you can use an alternative exercise.


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Ladies who lift.

Ladies, this is for you so read well.

I had another young lady this morning use the ominous line “If I lift weight I will get big. I don’t want to get big.”. I had to refrain from giving her a gentle shake and saying “If it was that easy, everyone would be huge!”, instead I offered her a detailed explanation that help relieve her concern.

Adding lean muscle is not an easy thing to do. In fact, per month you will be lucky to add between 0.25-1lb of lean muscle (Unless you are a complete beginner, or you’re enhanced.), ok, that depends… Just keep reading I shall explain.

If my memory serves me correctly I remember reading somewhere that a beginner (Less than a year hitting the iron.) can add 1-1.5% of their total body eight per month in muscle. An intermediate lifter (18months -3years being a gym rat.) can gain about 0.5-1% of total bodyweight per month in lean muscle. Now for those considered an advanced lifter (5years+ living in the gym and forgoing social events, anniversaries and work meetings.) can add a mere 0.25-0.5% of total bodyweight in lean mass per month.

When I mentioned training above I mean in the sense that you are hitting the weights hard, with correct form and pushing as hard as possible, not just ‘Working out’, along with having excellent nutritional habits, hitting your required macro nutrients and being devoted to the cause.

Now I seriously doubt many will have achieved all of these things, why? Because I myself don’t hit them all of the time and it’s my job to lead by example.

Lifting weights will not make you big ladies. It will however get rid of unsightly fat, give you the desired ‘Pert Bottom’ you’re looking for and banish your belly, if you get the majority of what I spoke about earlier right (Nutrition, training, consistency.).

Lifting weights is the secret to achieving your goals, so get in to that weights area.


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I have covered various subjects over my time on Facebook, not everyone has always agreed with my opinion, but that is their prerogative.

In more recent times I have been writing based on what people have asked, this has lead to some great topics for discussion and answered questions that people have.
It seems now thought that the cycle has begun a new, I am getting all of the same questions from newer people, considering this I am going to answer the top 3 most frequently asked questions in todays post, enjoy.

Q1- I’m happy with my arms & legs, I just want to tone up this bit. *Grabs stomach. What exercises can I do to get rid of this and tone it up? Sit ups work don’t they?.

A- Unfortunately endless ab exercises will do nothing to abolish that layer of fat surrounding your midsection, it’s true you will strengthen your abs and build some muscle, but, they will still be hidden under the fat. The only real answer is correct nutrition and a caloric deficit of around 3500kacl per week. *There is 3500kcal of energy in alb of fat, theoretically a deficit of this per week should equate to a 1lb of fat loss each week, THEORETICALLY.

Q2- I don’t want to lift weights and get big, I just want to tone.

A- You won’t get big. It takes years of hard training, excellent nutrition and dedication to get big, you my friend won’t look like the great Arnold from picking up a dumbbell, sorry. To ‘tone up’ as people commonly reference it, actually means to build lean muscle, that’s right, you can’t be toned without having a decent amount of lean muscle, because without it you will be heading for the look championed by He-Mans arch nemesis skeletor. This can be done with strength training and correct programming. *It’s worth nothing for every extra 1lb of lean muscle you will burn around 20extra calories per hour.

Q3- What should I eat?

A- Common sense would be the best answer for you. Avoiding excessive amounts what we call ‘crap foods’ is a good place to start, limiting highly processed foods and opting for their whole food counterparts is ideal, you don’t have to cut foods out completely but you do have to remember what foods lead you to your current situation. You will also benefit from sitting down with a trainer/coach and working out your current body fat % s you can establish what calories you require to achieve fat loss.

Those are the 3 most frequently asked questions I get, but since I’m i a good mood I will give you a 4th answer to another pesky question.
Q4- What should I be doing in the gym?

A- What is your goal? You don’t really know…. brilliant. I would recommend starting at 3 sessions per week based around full body exercise, try and have each one of these element in your workout.

*Least important movement to most important movement.
5-Get Up
6-Loaded Carry

I would suggest getting a program written for you by a trainer tailored towards you specific goal, if you know it that is.

If you feel I have missed out an important question that you want to know the answer too, leave a comment below.


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