Monthly Archives: December 2014

Time to get moving!

It is time to start thinking about shifting the Christmas bulk.

Cardio Vascular work is often seen as spending 45-60min on a treadmill, cross trainer or bike, while these great pieces of kit there are far better ways to blast the bulge.

Working with steady state cardio has it’s place, but for the most effective results int he shortest time using an interval style of training will be best.

Here are my top 3 methods:

1 – Kettlebell Snatch Test – 5min time limit – 50 snatches each arm.
2 – Rowing Sprints – 500m 1min rest – Repeat 5 times
3 – Burpee ladder – Climb the ladder as far as possible in 15min – Have a partner, they do one rep, you do one rep… keep adding one rep and don’t stop!

In all fairness those three methods can be used was a finisher at the end of a workout, or alternatively you can combine all 3 in to one workout.

CV doesn’t have to be boring.


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Festive Fat Loss

With Christmas fast approaching it is not uncommon for training to begin to waver, the normal routine that people follow can become disrupted by various festivities.

Are you one of those people who finds themselves easily distracted over the Christmas period? If that answer is yes then this short and simple workout routine will help you stay lean over the holidays.

This workout is based on only 3 days so that you won’t seem antisocial.

Day 1 – Strength – Lower body

A1 – Squat 12×2
A2 – Kettlebell Swing x20
B1 – Deadlift 10×2
C1 – Lunge 4×12
C2 – Calf Raise x50

Day 2 – Complex – Kettlebell

*Repeat as many times as possible for a 45min time period.

A1 – Double Kettlebell Swing x10
A2 – Double Kettlebell Clean x10
A3 – Double Kettlebell Press x10
A4 – Renegade Row x10 (Each arm.)
A5 – 60 Second Skipping

Day 3 – Strength – Upper Body

A1 – Bench 9×3
A2 – Pull Up x6-12
B1 – Dumbbell Fly 5×12
B2 – Single Arm Dumbbell Row x8 (Each arm.)
C1 – Skull Crusher 10×10
C2 – Bicep Curl 10×10

This workout will help keep your strength and lean muscle levels up while keeping your body fat levels down.


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Thinking about thinking.

The biggest problem many who go to the gym have is so common it’s frightening, but this is something that won’t just go away…

What is this mysterious aliment?

We overthink.

Time after time I speak to different people in the gym and they all have a warped body image, unfortunately this leaves them never feeling happy despite the outstanding progress they have made.

The gym can become obsessive. I can personally attest to this, once you start you will always want better and better results at the same rate you got your beginner gains.

Here is some advice:

Be happy with what you have achieved so far, remember the hard work and consistency that you have put in up to this point. On those days when you feel like nothing has changed and you NEED to do more just stop and take a second to think of where you started and how far you’ve come.


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Ladies what lift.

I have been ranting and raving a lot recently about various subjects but today I want to be more specific and post one especially for the ladies.

There are many woman who have embraced the ethos of strength training, but there are still many more who look at weights with fear and utter these unchanging words… “I don’t want to get big.”, this often results in them lurking on the treadmills or cross trainers for hours at a time.

Each time I hear a woman speak about getting big from lifting a dumbbell over 3kg I sigh in disbelief. I will offer you this simple answer to your statement:

Lifting weights won’t make you instantly look like Arnie!

I have mentioned before how the average person can add between 6-14lbs of lean muscle per year, unless you are a genetic freak beast (Or enhanced.) you won’t get big quickly. It takes years of hard training to build decent and large levels of lean muscle.

Ladies should lift weights, it’s that simple.

Here are my top 5 reasons why ladies should ditch the headless hours on the treadmill or cross trainer and start lifting weights:

1 – Weights build lean muscle which increases your BMR.
2 – Weights increase your overall strength and confidence.
3 – Lifting weights for an hour burns almost as much as CV.
4 – Lifting weights has the added benefit of elevated metabolism for up to 24hours.
5 – Out lifting your male coworkers makes you look like a total badass.

In short girls lifting weights won’t do anything negative for your body, you will find that you achieve a leaner, fitter, stronger and a better body than you could ever achieve just through CV alone.

They say Diamonds are a girls best friend, that’s a lie. Squats are.


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How Wide?

If you are looking to add not only kilos to your total squat but also extra muscle to your legs then I suggest you try switching up your stance when you squat.

When you read books, internet blogs or even watch some youtube videos on the basics of squatting you will find a common theme on squat stance width.

The majority of sources will tell you a hip-shoulder width stance is all you will ever need, and while there is nothing wrong with this style of stance you can get a lot out of switching it up.

Testing out a wider stance in your squat will help recruit more muscles, especially the muscles you require for squatting heavy.

When we talk of squats the assumption is mainly working the quads and these are the muscles needed to squat heavy weight, now while this is true for a narrower stance or perhaps a heel raised variation having strong quads doesn’t necessarily mean you will be able to squat a lot.

The muscles we need to squat heavy weights are mainly the ones in your posterior chain.

Switching to a wider stance will force you to ‘sit back’ in to the squat, thus recruiting these muscles and allowing you to progress you weights/overall volume.

I suggest a minimum of two squat sessions per week with the following spec: low bar position, wide stance to a low box (Set box below knee peel.) to help you groove this movement and adapt to the wider stance.

Use 50-60% of 1RM for 12×2 and on the second day of your squats pick a Rep Max: 3 Reps for example. Work up until you can only hit two reps then stop, next week aim to hit 2.5kg above where you finished then after that week change your rep goal for the following week and repeat, the low box squat will stay the same in terms of reps and % used (Bear in mind you will need to recalculate you % accordingly as you progress.).


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Like for Like

When training for strength/competition your last rep should always look the same as your first.

It seems to be a common staple that unless you’re struggling to get out a rep you’re not achieving anything. This is a misconception.

If you are struggling to get a rep out it means that you have pushed almost too hard, taking your body this close to failing is potentially dangerous which will only result in injury in the end. It is all too tempting to repeatedly push for heavy singles in the gym because we let our ego rule our training.

When training for strength it is important to keep your form solid each and every rep because there is no point in leaving P.B’s in the gym, we want them on the comp floor.

Use your time in the gym to groove your movement patterns and build a solid foundation of strength and speed. Instead of always going for 1RM progression pick a ‘Rep Max’ target, such as a heavy 3. This way you will be able to constantly progress while not causing massive fatigue to your CNS leaving you unable to continue to progress.

If you can get to the stage where your 1RM looks effortless I would say your on the path to great things.


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Level Up! Final Post.

Today is the last day of the mini series Level Up. While there has been some general information in these posts I have embedded one key secret to everlasting progress in each one.

Can you see it?

Keep reading and all will be revelled.

Ok, now we are on to the most fun part of progression: Training!

The program you decide to follow will vary greatly depending on your specific goal. Taking this in to account I will be writing what you need to do to progress.

– A workout log book.
– A solid plan of action.
– A cast iron will.

Now these might seem obvious but many people are luck to have at least one of the three, this is often why people never really progress.

Now I can’t give you the perfect program because each person will have different limits and goals, but what I can do is offer some suggestions as where to look for some good programs.

Such as: 5-3-1 by Jim Wendler. The Cube Method by Brandon Lilly. Anything in the Westside Barbell series.

Now the beauty of these strength programs is they can be adapted for fat loss goals too. Building lean muscle and adding strength will only serve to help accelerate your fat loss or muscle building goals. You would simple have perhaps 2-3 lifting moves followed by some HIIT (High intensity interval training.) along with an eating plan that reflected your goal.

I mentioned earlier I told you a secret to everlasting progress, can you tell what it is yet?

Knowledge! More specifically knowledge that is relevant to you and your goal.

Keep learning and you will keep progressing.


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Level Up! Part 3

This part of the level up series is dedicated to nutrition, or more specifically what you will require from your nutrition to keep progressing towards your goal.

I have discussed before the concept of BMR (Basal metabolic rate.), this is the amount of calories you will need to consume each day just to live (sedentary). Once you have these established you will use a multiplier that is in accordance with your current activity level, once that’s done those will be your required calories to sustain your current weight.

Below are the equations you will need:

Men BMR = 88.362 + (13.397 x weight in kg) + (4.799 x height in cm) – (5.677 x age in years)

Women BMR = 447.593 + (9.247 x weight in kg) + (3.098 x height in cm) – (4.330 x age in years)

Once you have done your maths and you have your numbers use the next set of equations that are relevant:

Little to no exercise Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x 1.2

Light exercise (1–3 days per week) Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.375

Moderate exercise (3–5 days per week) Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.55

Heavy exercise (6–7 days per week) Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.725

Very heavy exercise (twice per day, extra heavy workouts) Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.9

Now you have thoroughly fried your brain with good old maths you will know how many calories you need. A general rule of thumb is to lose fat you will want a reduction of 500-800calories per day, to gain muscle you will need an additional 500-800calories per day.

This now takes us on to the lovely topic of macro nutrients:

– Protein
– Carbohydrates
– Fat
– Fibre

Now depending on your goal your macros will look very different, this is where you will need to do some research of your own. Alternatively you can hire a coach to help you work these out.

Remember it’s down to you to take accountability and become responsible for your own progression.


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Level Up! Part 2

One of the key aspects of moving to the next level in your training is to be more specific with your goals.

As a beginner many set out with the very general goal of ‘lose fat’ or perhaps ‘get fit’ and while these are good for the initial journey of fitness, it becomes apparent that they are not conducive in the long run.

Your new goals will need to be more focused and have a solid method of tracking your results, this will allow you to see your progress no matter how small. Remember progress is still progress.

I like to use One Minute Goal Setting. You will write your new goal in a format that you can read in less than one minute (Normally 250 words or less.).

You must contain the following in this small yet power method of goal setting:

– Your current starting point.
– Your end goal.
– Your mini Goal.
– Your methods for recording your progress.
– Your method/required behaviour to achieve the goal.

For example:

– Current body fat level at 20%
– End target 10% in 3 months.
– Mini target 16% at the end of month 1.
– Body fat measurements at the end of each month with a trainer.
– Exercising 3-5 times per week and recalculating macros accordingly.

Keeping these in mind you you can then write in your own words how a reminder that you can read in less then one minute to keep you focused.

In short, continuing to progress becomes more challenging because you’re required to have more focus and more knowledge. A beginner will make progress easily, but someone who has been training for a while will find their old methods are no longer effective.

If you don’t think you have the knowledge to write a specific goal on your own then speak to a coach/trainer for advice.

Tomorrow I will go over what you will need to know nutritionally to continue to progress.


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Level Up! Part 1.

There comes a time where we invariably have to leave the realms of the beginner, along with the accelerated progress that we became accustomed too, and move in to the pilgrimage that is known as an ‘Intermediate Level Lifter’.

This place is probably the most dangerous to step in to because the results will be much much slower. This can lead to people becoming disheartened and even result in them losing their motivation to train.

Fear not! Help is at hand.

To overcome this initial stall you will need to increase your knowledge, become more technical and accept more individual responsibility if you wish to progress further than the point you’re currently at.

Here are the three things you will almost certainly need to improve your basic knowledge on:

1 – Goal Setting
2 – Nutrition
3 – Training Methodologies

This week I am going to help you by writing a post each day about these topics and how to make that step from beginner to intermediate.

Remember how far you have already come, no one can take your achievements away from you. Be proud of what you have achieved.

It won’t be as easy as it has been, but let me tell you what I have learned, in the end it will be worth it.


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