Monthly Archives: June 2015

Body Weight Basics – Test Your MIGHT!

We all would like to think of ourselves as strong, but in what context?

Being able to lift 2x your body weight over your head is phenomenally strong, so it deadlifting 4x body weight from the floor. With strength levels like this you would assume such people could perform basic body weight movements without any issue and for multiple reps too.

Some people do not disappoint you in this aspect, but there a great many that would leave you speechless at their complete lack of body weight strength.

If we are to take the largest compound exercises most commonly used – Squat, Bench, Deadlift and Overhead Press – then convert these in to body weight alternatives with some target rep ranges how would you fair?

Squat – Box Jump 3/4 of own height & 40 Burpees

Bench – Push Up 60 reps (Male) 40 reps (Female)

Deadlift – Broad Jump your own height & perform 1 Nordic Hamstring Curl with full R.O.M

Overhead Press – Wall supported Hand Stand Push Up 10 Reps (Male) 5 (Reps Female)

It’s also worth throwing in Pull Ups (overhand grip) 20 Reps is the target for Males and 10 for Females.

*All of these reps should be performed with good form and in an unbroken fashion.

These are simple standers to meet but not many people would achieve them. I myself can’t do them all, I hit 6 reps on the handstand press up and start to lose form which shows my shoulders need some work.

I have based these number off of various different sources (military standards, gymnastic standards and people who purely train in calisthenics).

Do you think you have what it takes to hit these necessary requirements?

Test your might!

Enjoy

Ross

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Rookie Mistake

Morning Guys,

When people start out in a gym they an be met with various feelings and find themselves flustered. This is fairly common amongst new gym goers but it’s nothing to be worried about because it’s all apart of learning, commonly people will feel one or more of the following:

Nervous
Excited
Intimidated
Or perhaps Petrified

Everybody had to start somewhere, I think it’s easy to forget this simple fact, especially when you see other in the gym who have been training for years and are relatively experienced, though what you will see some of these experienced people doing is very questionable.

When I first started in the gym it’s safe to say I made a lot of mistakes, but I was always very careful to focus on learning which is what I see lacking in multiple beginners (some experienced trainees too).

Questionable form is one of the most common mistakes I see surrounding gym fledglings, however that isn’t the only possible mistake they will make. There are a lot of other problems I encountered in the naive years of my youth such as training too much, too many isolation exercises and under eating to name a few.

I am going to run through the 5 most common mistakes beginners make and how to avoid them.

1 – Bad Form

While this is an obvious mistake and can be easily rectified by purchasing some sessions with a good coach/trainer, a lot of people won’t ever take this necessary action. Men tend to avoid hiring someone because of their ego, yes guys, your ego gets in the way of you making progress so be sure to leave it at the door. Woman will avoid hiring a coach for more reasons than men, namely they feel intimidated by some trainers/coaches and will only consider being trained by a female instructor.

The most common reason for evading trainers is the perceived cost but you will find that trainers will help you out anyway they can. There is also a lot of great information that’s out their for free, all you have to do is look for it.

2 – Too Many Isolation Exercises

Both men and woman are guilty of this. It’s far easier to grab light dumbbells and to bicep curls, tricep extensions, sit on the leg extension or do crunches for an hour than get under the bar and squat, this is often why people never make any real progress.

Exercise is not as hard as some would have you believe. To burn fat, build lean muscle and improve your CV you only really need to focus on 3 things:

Compound Exercises
HIIT/LSD
Nutrition

Compound exercises utilise multiple muscles in the body which will provide far more benefits than sitting on the leg extension.

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training (think sprint work) and LSD stands for Long Slow Duration (think long runs). Both are essential for burning fat and building a good CV base.

3 – Too Much Cardio

I know that I have written above that CV is essential for losing fat and building a good CV base (getting fitter) but you will see people drive to the gym to WALK on the treadmill… This is seriously as waste of your time and money, you could do this outside for free.

Cardio bunnies are more often than not female, mainly because a lot of them still suffer the phobia of “If I lift weights I will get big.” this is a fallacy. Lifting weights will help you build lean muscle, strength, strip fat and more importantly improve your confidence and self esteem.

As with anything cardio needs to be in balance, doing too much will lead to a strong heart but a very weak body and potential knee problems from poor running technique, after all, how many of us are every taught to run?

2-3 CV session a week is sufficient, there is no need for more. A mixture of LSD and HIIT would be optimal.

4 – Not Eating Enough

Another common mistake across the entire spectrum of new gym goers. A lot of people go to the gym with the theory of “If I workout and eat less I will lose weight.” and while this is true you will only lose a certain amount of fat before your body starts to break down any muscle you have because of a lack of nutrients in your diet.

Instead of reducing how much you eat try changing the types of foods your eating and follow this simple advice:

Eat More Protein (Lean Meats.)
Eat More Fibre (Vegetables 6+ portions per day. Fruits 1-2 portions per day.)
Drink More Water (1 Litre per 25kg of body weight and and extra litre for each hour of activity.)
Starvation is not the answer and neither is restriction. If you want some cake then have some cake, just don’t eat the whole thing in one sitting.

5 – Expecting Miracles

This might be hard to accept but the success stories of people losing 3 stone in a month, building 6 pac abs in 2 weeks or changing your life with a Juicing Diet are utter crap.

Seriously!

In your first 6 months of training your progress will indeed come at an accelerated rate, that is because you’re a beginner and your body is trying it’s hardest to adapt but once it does your results will slow down. When your results have slowed and you’re only losing 1lb or less per week you should be prepared to dig deep and keep pushing hard because this is where your real journey begins.

There are no shortcuts to success. If you ask anyone who has actually made a change in their life they will tell you that it took time, effort and patience to achieve but it was worth it.

Don’t become despondent if you don’t go from 13stone to 8.5 immediately, it will take time.

Final Thoughts –

Before you step foot in a gym try asking yourself this question:

I am prepared to work hard and stick with this?

If the answer is yes then hire a trainer/coach and follow the steps above. I can confidently say that you will get results if you do.

Enjoy
Ross

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Unwanted Truth

Are you stuck in a rut?

Do you feel your progress and results have ceased?

Is it getting harder to lose even a single Lb?

If you have answered yes to one or all of those then take a seat, I have some shocking news for you…

Continued progress/results will not just be given to you like they were in the first few months of your new training/nutritional regime, you will have to work hard to keep progressing and stay committed.

Have you ever wondered what happens after you see a persons Before & After pictures?
Normally there are 2 answers to that question:

1 – They stay the cause and continue to learn and progress.
2 – They rebound and put on what they have lost and some more for good measure (known as the after-after picture).

If it was easy to stay in shape the chances of there being an obesity epidemic would be very slim, but sadly that’s north case. This is why you need to be consistent and not go silly with eating things you probably shouldn’t, but if you want a piece of cake than have it, just don’t eat the whole cake (you know who you are if you do this).

You have worked hard and reversed the habit of a life time and lost weight that you have steadily been putting on for years, that’s an incredible thing to achieve, don’t throw it all away just because things get tough.

Be strong, be consistent and always strive to be the best YOU can be.

Enjoy
Ross

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10 Min Challenge

I have written various posts about getting in quality workouts in a short space of time, I have recently been asked to devise a workout that can be done in as little as 10min upon waking up.

Before you read on there is are a couple of investments you will ned to make:

– Buy a set of 3 or 6 Kettlebells (12,16,20 for woman & 16,20,24 for men) or Buy an adjustable pair of dumbbells.
– A stop watch or Gym Boss timer
– Skipping Rope

These will cost perhaps around £100 depending on where you look, but they will be worth the investment.

The format of the workout is simple, you will only be required to use one or two kettlebells. 2 will make for greater results in the future, but build yourself up to them, there’s no point in killing yourself.

Here is how it works:

Exercises Choices – Pick 1,2,3,4 or how every many you want, you may also add in some of your own favourite exercises if I haven’t listed them.

Swing
Squat
Clean
Snatch
Press
Push Press
Jerk
Thruster
Sots Press
Bent Over Row
Renegade Row
High Pull
Pull Over
Windmill
Get Up

Workout Choices – Pick one of the following modalities and repeat for 10min.

– 1 rep increasing ladder. Start at one of each exercise then add 1 rep the second time through, it will look like this 1,2,3,4,5 etc. Go until you fail to hit your target reps then start again at 1 and repeat until 10min is up.

– Simple Circuit. Perform one exercise for 1 min then skip for 1 min.

– 1 Lift a Day. Pick a lift and do as many reps as you can in 10 min, simple.

Those three simple protocols will help you build strength, lean muscle and burn fat all in 10 min just after you wake up.

I recommend doing these workouts fasted (not having eaten anything).

Enjoy
Ross

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Have You Lost Weight?

Have you lost weight is a question some people eagerly await to be asked, sadly some are disappointed when instead they get asked about how the decoration of the house is going. This can leave a dent in a persons confidence when it comes to continuing to pursue their fitness/fat loss goals.

More often than not people are aways in a rush to lose weight, commonly it is woman who want to achieve this particular goal (though more men are following the trend now too), however, there is a common problem with people who want to lose weight because they will pick a number they think will look good, such as 8 or 8 and a half stone, don’t ask me what it is about this number but there are a lot of people who want to weight 8 and a half stone.

Picking a number on the scale might be useful for someone who is grossly overweight because it has a degree of relevance to their situation and overall health, but for the average person who might be 1-2 stone overweight it can be more of a hinderance than a help. The mental stability/toughness of achieving a goal is far harder than actually achieving the goal itself, especially when you have the added weight of a scale bearing down on you.

The scales were one a housewives favourite, now though they have become a burden that needs to be banished from ever home! (In my opinion anyway.)

The simplest/best way to track your progress is not by how much you weight but how you look naked. As silly as it sounds taking before and after photos will provide you with far more feedback, both positive/negative and real because the scales can lie, photos can’t, well, unless they’re photo shopped that is but that’s a different story for another day.

I challenge you to throw away your bathroom scales and start taking progress pictures instead. One a week taken on then same day, at the same time, in the same room and with the same camera will be sufficient, Personally I would say one every 2 weeks is a better option as you will be able to see even more difference each time you take a selfie.

The next time someone asks you if you’ve lost weight, look them in the eye, smile and say:

“I have no idea, but I look great naked so what does it matter what the scale says.”

Enjoy
Ross

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Moderation or Habit?

Morning Guys,

There are certain words in the world that make me cringe whenever I hear them uttered. One such word is the herald of all things we know we should do but justify doing, all because of this word;

Moderation.

Everything in moderation, including moderation.

This word has been bandied around and to me has lost it’s meaning. People have begun to rely on it as a crutch, where it was once a great way of people feeling a slight relief from pressure it has now become the norm for something more problematic;

Habit.

The word moderation by definition means the avoidance of excess or extremes, especially in one’s behaviour or political opinions, but people have become so used to using it as an excuse that moderation is no longer moderation, it’s habit.

Having a little of what you want is essential to a good life, but having it everyday without fail is a habit.

Heed my words, I am not trying to stop people having what they enjoy but I am trying to bring some awareness to light because what was once a great tool have now become a crutch.

Enjoy
Ross

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Hard Gainers, Endomorphs & Genetics… Oh My

Morning Guys,

This will be the first in a small mini series on the common pitfalls of self diagnosed problem children in the gym, namely;

– Hard Gainers
– Endomorphs
– Those Limited by Genetics

I shall hopefully debunk some myths with my experience and give you the necessary knowledge to overcome these barriers.

Lets get started…

Over my years of training I have noticed some common mistakes made by the supposed ‘Hard Gainers’ of the lifting world.

We all know someone who claims that no matter what they do they can’t put on any weight, be that in the form of fat or muscle.

Normally this conclusion is reached relatively quickly, by that I mean within their first 6 months of training and it’s all down to their hyper accelerated metabolism, or so they claim…. I say ask people who were always skinny how that changed once they hit 30.

I have to be honest, unless there is a scientifically proven reason why a specific individual can’t gain weight (Thyroid Problem, Hormone Dis-regulation, Metabolic Disorder etc) then the answers in my experience are relatively simple and constitute of the following:

– Not Eating Enough
– Setting Unrealistic Goals
– Over Complicating Training
– Lack Of Intensity /Training Too Much
– Under Recovering

I shall tackle all of these problems and give you simple answers for them all based on my experience.

1 – Not Eating Enough

If your goal is to add weight (muscle) then you need to be in a caloric surplus of at least 250 calories, ideally 500 would be optimal.

There are various ways of establishing your caloric needs, google is filled with calculators and equations to help you but I have always found this rather simple sum gets the calories you will require: Your body-weight in LBS x 17-19 = Estimated calories.

Example: 170 lbs Person (I have sued this with both men and Woman to great effect)
170 x 17-19 = 2890 – 3230 Daily Calories

If you’re curious to know what macro nutrients you need then use the provided simple equations:

Total Daily Calories x 0.40 / 4 = Carbohydrates in Grams 3230 x 0.4 / 4 = 323g
Total Daily Calories x 0.25 / 4 = Protein in Grams 3230 x 0.25 / 4 = 201g
Total Daily Calories x 0.35 / 9 = Fat in Grams 3230 x 0.35 / 9 = 125g
*Fibre would be 7.5-12.5% of your carbs.

These simple sums are not gospel but they will give you a good idea of the calories you will need to achieve your goal.

2 – Setting Unrealistic Goals

It would be nice if we could all add 4 stone of muscle in a month, but sadly that is not really likely to happen.

Setting a realistic goal in the gym will help keep you more motivated because you can envision yourself at the finish point. If you were to set the goal of adding 1 stone in a year then that is very achievable (basically just over 1 lb a month in weight gain).

The same approach applies if your goal is to get stronger or faster, setting an achievable long term goal with regular mini goals is essential to help you stay motivated. Remember to set a date next to your goal too, setting a date will help make you more accountable, don’t just write ‘Lose 1 stone in a year from now’ write ‘Lose one stone by 1-6-16.’.

Example: Long term goal – 14 Lbs Weight loss in 1 year. Mini goal lose 4 Lbs total every 3 Months.

3 – Over Complicating Training

This is a demon many people fall victim too (myself included).

Doing too many isolation exercises, having 9 different exercises will do little for adding slabs or sought after muscle to your frail frame, but it will potentially lead to stagnation, boredom and a complete lack of progress.

The solution?

Compound Movements – Squat, Bench, Deadlift, Press, Pull Up, Farmers Walk, Ab Roll Out – Those compound movements should form the basis of your program if you’re seriously looking to add some weight. Due to their multi joint/muscle recruiting nature your body will be forced to adapt by getting stronger and adding new muscle.

*There is plenty of studies to back this up and explain about the increase in HGH, Testosterone etc but I won’t bore you with that today.

4 – Lack Of Intensity/Training Too Much

These two mistakes fall hand in hand, not only in regard ot the gym but often in life too.
If a little is good then more must be better right?

Wrong.

There is what’s known as a tipping point, the point of which was was beneficial becomes dangerous and can potentially lead to injury or worse (getting squashed under a barbell). I personally feel that if you spend more than 45-60min in the gym then you’re not working hard enough; it’s that simple.

Spending 2+ hours in the gym doing Drop Sets, Giant Sets or Ultra-Mega-Colossal Sets-Mark 3 if pretty pointless, the bodies testosterone levels start to decline after around 22min and by 47-60min are pretty much done for the day, which then leaves your glucocoticoids to rise which can lead to excessive breakdown of proteins (not what you need).

Aim to keep your workouts short and intense, you will see far more benefits, as my grandparents always used to say “Less is more”.

5 – Under Recovering

This problem is linked with the two of the mistakes written above.

It seems once again the theory of ‘More is better.’ takes over, when the truth of the matter is that enough is enough and more is rarely, if ever better.

Along with overdoing it in the gym another factor lined with under recovering is simple not eating enough, remember your body needs the calories so don’t be afraid to eat.

The last cause of under recovery is a lack of sleep, this is easily fixed. STOP watching TV until 2am and get to sleep. If you find you struggle getting to sleep have a meal with a hefty amount of simple carbohydrates in it, this will help increase serotonin (the happy hormone) levels thus potentially increasing Melatonin (the sleep hormone) levels whichmeans a better night sleep.

You can only train at the rate you can recover. If you’re not recovering properly you won’t be progressing to your full potential.

Conclusion:

These mistakes are ones I come across time and again, normally when a person gets these in check they start to make some decent progress.

take it from me, I was once a self diagnosed ‘Hard Gainer’ until I started to avoid the mistakes written above.

Enjoy
Ross

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Warm Up? Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That!

Warming up is something or a rarity in commercial gyms, from what I have seen anyway. A lot of people who amble in to the gym almost always follow one of these 2 protocols:

1 – Walk in, load weight to just short of their ‘working weight’ and being.
2 – Spend 10 min on a CV machine (usually the treadmill) then proceed to the bench press.

There will be people who are likely to jump in the mix and stretch before a workout (I am all for mobility before lifting, but i’m personally not a fan of stretching unless it’s specifically required for your activities), this however also isn’t optimal in most cases. Very few people warm up with the move that they are going to be performing, hence why they don’t get the full benefit from a workout.

I would like know your warm up routine. My routine is simple, I will warm up with the movement I am going to be doing for the main lift of that session, Personally I find this helps me find my ‘groove, for example, if it’s squats I would usually do the following:

BW x 10-12
Bar x 10-12
60kg x5
100kg x4
120kg x3
140kg x2
160kg x1

(This would be if I was typically working at 140-150kg for reps)

or

BW x 10-12
Bar x 10-12
60kg x5
80kg x5
100kg x3
120kg x3
140kg x2
160kg x1
170kg x1
180kg x1

(This normally is what I follow if I’m doing a singles routine or going for a PB, but I personally feel nice and prepared for a heavy lifts after a warm up like this.)

How do you warm up?

Warm ups are just that; WARM UPS.

The should be used to make sure you’re getting all the necessary muscle fibres firing, the joints mobilised and your confidence/mindset in place for a good day of lifting. There is nothing worse than a lack lustre warm up, there is no point in jumping straight to a heavy weight because you will end up using the first few sets to get in to your groove and waste precious time/gains.

When you next go in to the gym try to make your warm up not only relevant to your session, but also beneficial.

Enjoy
Ross

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FREEZE!

Morning Guys,

Today I have a nice simple tip for you.

This simple tip will help save you money, improve your health and help you achieve the results you want.

Are you ready for this life changing tip?

Buy Frozen Vegetables

You will find that in a lot of supermarkets these days they have ‘fresh veg’ and ‘frozen veg’ and while the difference in price can be quite large, the difference in the amount of nutrients you will receive might surprise you.

Fresh veg that you can buy in a supermarket isn’t always as fresh as it could be, after all, it could have potentially been left on the shelf for several days before you bought it, thus losing vial nutrients each day it sits there. Frozen veg on the other hand is picked and frozen within 24 hours (Well, it was on the bags I looked at this weekend just gone, I would check the bag for a 24hour frozen notice.), this means the veg will continue to retain its nutrients and they will only start to decrease once you have defrosted them.

*I am not knocking fresh veg. If you can buy fresh veg either daily or every other day then more power to you, but the only issue that will have is the cost (people are stingy these days).

Apart from the frozen veg potentially have a more nutritious punch than its fresh counterparts in the supermarket, you will also find the price quiet appealing. For example, you can buy 100g of fresh veg for around £1, where as a frozen bag can cost as little as £1.40 for a whole kg! That’s 10x the amount for only 40p more, in my eyes that’s worth taking a gamble on.

The next time you go shopping make a not of how much your fresh veg would cost and then wander over to the frozen isle and make some comparisons. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Enjoy
Ross

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Unhealthy Health Foods

Not all foods are created equal, lots of people know this. However it’s the so called ‘Health’ Foods that can be something to watch out for.

Today we are going to give you our top ten Unhealthy Health Foods.

1 – Vegetarian Meat Substitutes – They are often devoid of anything the body needs from the meat alternative. They can too be filled with ‘filler’ such as soya to make them palatable.

2 – Sports Drinks – How often do you actually see an athlete drinking them? Precisely… More often than not these brightly coloured calamities will be filled with sugar and other nasty things.

3 – Special Cereals – Not naming names here, but there are plenty of cereals that claim to be staples of a healthy diet when in fact these sneaky little flakes will add inches to your waistline because of all the extra sugar in them. Don’t fall for the cereals clever trix.

4 – Smoothies – A hidden source of high calories. Many of the nutrients are often compromised in the process of making the smoothie, but the fructose will still be there waiting for you.

5 – Dried Fruit – Better than sweets right? Wrong… Loaded with extra sugar and preservatives, along with the fact that they’re incredibly easy to eat (stick with whole fruit).

6 – Fat Free Anything – Ok, some fat free products are not all bad, but the majority are loaded with lord only knows what to make them edible. This will send the caloric content through the roof and straight to your thighs.

7 – Protein Bars – While these handy snacks might save you from post workout catabolism (yea, some people still believe that… oh dear) they are easy to eat and not necessary if you’re diet is filled with whole foods.

8 – Skinny Coffees – Opting for the lighter option in the coffee house is an admirable choice, but this often leads to people having more than one which can mean up to 700 calories in less than 30min.

9 – Meal Replacement Shakes – These are pretty much a one way ticket to problems. There is no replacement for whole food.

10 – Diet Drinks – The Grandaddy of them all is the fabled ‘diet’ drinks. Apparently because they have less sugar, calories and whatever else is in the normal product it means you can have more guilt free… This clever marketing ploy has kept the fat cats lining their pockets with your hard earned cash for years, and it will continue to do so. Opt for water, you need that to live.

Now these simple truths might seem like common sense, but you will have an onslaught of people who defend these products because they have become reliant on them.

You are by all means free to make the choice on what to eat, it’s your body after all, just be aware of the choice you make and don’t start moaning when you’re adding the pounds.

Enjoy
Ross

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