Monthly Archives: October 2015

The Egyptians Had It Right.

Morning Guys,

I like to think of the structure most things in the field of health & fitness as a pyramid.

Why a pyramid?

Because a pyramid can only be a tall as it’s base allows, therefor meaning that you need to have a solid and established base to that you can build on it.

If I was to use the pyramid structure for nutrition pyramid it would be as follows:

The base would undoubtably be a persons INDIVIDUAL caloric requirements

First tier is a persons INDIVIDUAL macro nutrients.

Second & Third tiers would be made up of meal macro composition/timing & food choices (I would go meal timing/composition then food choices personally).

Top tier of the pyramid would be extra supplementation.

This is pretty easy for a lot of people to follow and understand, thought establishing your required calories can be a touch trickier.

Over the years I personally have found that establishing sedentary peoples calories based of their LBM (lean body mass) in lbs with the following equation never tends to be very far from the mark.

LBMx 11-13 = Fat Loss Caloric Range
LBMx 17-19 = Muscle Gain Caloric Range

If I had a more active person I would opt for the Harris-Benadic formula, or use the one above and add 300-500 cals to their base line.

Using the info above you will now have the base of your pyramid, the next level up is your individual macronutrient ratios. This really is a personal thing but I shall endeavour to give you a baseline starting point that you can then tweak.

Protein – LBM x1 = Grams per day, multiply this by 4 to get calories of protein for the day.

Carbs – Protein x1-3 = Grams per day (depending on style of training/overall daily activity, desk jockeys use x1, site workers use x3 and people in the middle use 1.5 or 2), multiply this by 4 to get calories of carbs for the day

Fat – What ever calories are left divide them by 9 to get your fat in grams for the day.

Example Equation:

175lbs x 19 = 3325 total cals
175lbs x 1 = protein 175g x4 = 700 cals
175g x 2 = carbs 350g x 4 = 1400 cals
3325 – (700 + 1400) = 1225 cals
1225/9 = 136g fat

So these example calories/macros would be:

3225 Total Cal
175g Protein
350g Carbs
136g Fat

Get the idea?

Next up in the pyramid would be meal timings/food choices. This will again differ from person to person but here are some simple suggestions to help you.

*Eat mostly single ingredient whole foods to get the bulk of your calories, doing this will sort out your micronutrients without you having to worry too much. think 80/20 – 80% single ingredient foods 20% what ever you fancy. Just keep the callers correct and the overall macronutrient ratio sold and you can’t go far wrong.

Breakfast/AM – Fat/Protein
Snack/AM – Fat/Protein
Lunch/PM – Complex Carbs/Protein
Snack/PM – Complex Carbs/Protein
Dinner/PM – Complex Carbs/Protein

Post Workout Protein/Simple Carbs – regardless on time of day.

The tip of the pyramid would be Supplements, these being Whey Protein, Creatine etc etc. However I feel everyone does well having some extra fish oil, a multivitamin and magnesium added in to their diet.

Why those 3 sups?

A good fish oil will help boost your daily Omega 3 and lower inflammation.

A good multivitamin will just give you a little extra of everything else.

Magnesium is linked to over 300 different biochemical responses in the body, there have been tones of books and studies on this so feel free to delve in to the topic for yourselves.

There you have it. A simple and sensible guide to understanding the nutrition pyramid, or at least my version of it anyway :).

Enjoy,
Ross

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It’s Obvious, But You Still Can’t See it

A short post today on they one of the keys to success.

It’s quite obvious when you think about it.

….

You ready?

Be happy.

Be happy in what you’re doing. Be happy with the choices you make. Just be happy.

I know that there will be times where you will feel less than chipper, but it’s those days where you need to simply sit somewhere quite for 5 min and remember WHY you’re doing what you do, if you’re doing the right thing it will make you feel happy because in the end you know it will all be worth it. However if it doesn’t give you that feeling then ask yourself if you should really be doing what you’re doing.

If you’re happy working 40+ hours weeks because working makes you happy then knock yourself out, but if you’re not happy doing that then don’t do it because in the end you will only grow to resent what you’re doing and that just makes living everyday very very hard.

In the end one of the keys to success that people overlook is to be happy, there is nothing worse than pushing on through all the hard times if in the end it doesn’t make you happy because then it was all for nothing.

Smile, be happy and go be successful.

Enjoy,

Ross

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The Mind Mouth Connection

The hardest part about any ‘diet’ is the psychological aspect.

Lets be honest, if you’re told you can’t have something you will invariably want it more.
Sever restriction in your food choices can lead to some serious mental disassociation with food and lead to eating disorders.
How can you avoid this?
Don’t restrict yourself… Pretty simple really.
However, there is something worth remembering, that people often forget and that is to make sensible choices.
What is a sensible choice? Is there such a thing?
Eating more Meat, Veg, Whole Grains (if your guts don’t suffer that is) & drinking plenty of Water, what as a child we would have seen our grandparents doing more often than not. Obviously that’s not to say they didn’t enjoy cakes, ice cream and other such delights a few days each week but the majority of the time they filled their plates with what could be call ‘foods found in nature’ as opposed to ‘foods made by man’ this often served to achieve the following:
– More Protein Consumed
– More Fiber Consumed
– More Water Consumed
All of those 3 help to improve your overall health and how you feel throughout the day. While we can indeed fill our bellies with various sweet treats and have minimal damage to our waistline (provided the necessary energy balance is achieved) it would more than likely leave us feeling pretty crap.
Personally I see nutrition as a battle of wills. If you don’t follow someones nutritional beliefs then you’re wrong and you’re going to die and forever burn in hell, nutrition sounds a lot like religion…
Back to the original point.
Overthinking what you ‘should or ‘shouldn’t’ eat can lead to some serious problems, there are lots of us who have been in this position. This is why IIFYM or Flexible Dieting has helped so many people, it has given them the freedom of choice once again, but as with anything the real concept has been lost in the shroud of media hyper and 1000’s of instgram pictures leading people to believe that the only things that are eaten by following this style of eating is Cakes, Chocolate, Ice Cream and Pop Tarts, but this is simply not true.
Why all the posts of these foods then?
Who wants to put up pictures of what they eat the majority of the time (meat & veg) when a sweet treat is far more pleasing to the eye.
If you speak to anyone who follows these approaches you will find that they eat lots of foods from various sources, but all of them eat a good amount of Protein, Fiber and drink plenty of Water. Nutrition isn’t hard for the average person, it’s just made hard.
If you’re ‘diet’ is causing you psychological issues because of a ridiculous list of foods you can/can’t eat then the best option is to walk away from it because it’s doing you no favors and you could end up in a very bad place.
Eating what would be considered as ‘children’s foods’ for the lack of a better term (sweets) as the majority staple of your diet will do you no favors in terms of your health, but not having them in your life for those times you fancy them can be much worse mentally in the end. If you find you’re craving something sweet then go and have a small amount of it, chances are the reason you’re looking for a food of that ilk is because you’re cortisol levels might be excessively elevated, or your serotonin is a bit low, or maybe it’s just another way of your body telling you it needs some more energy because it hasn’t had enough. Who really knows, just listen to your body on that one.
It’s always better to have a bit of what you want than to forgo it and end up binge eating another day which will lead to larger psychological issues down the road.
Use some common sense and you will find that you don’t go far wrong, or alternatively hire a nutrition coach to help you.
Simple.

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You Ate The WHOLE Thing?

Are you allowed to eat a whole tub of Ben & Jerry’s?
 
Of course you are, it’s your choice.
 
However…
 
Just because you can doesn’t always mean you should.
 
Lots of people enjoy ice cream and we all know that once you start it’s very very easy to devour a whole tub without a second thought or hesitation, but eating the whole tub isn’t the real issue, it’s what you’re going to do with al the energy you receive from eating it.
 
If you were to say the average tub has around 280calories per 100ml and considering each tub is 500ml that’s an average of 1400calories per tub with a 95g grams of fat and 110g of carbs.
 
Now carbs and fat together are never a good combination, no matter how delicious a paring they are, but they are not the enemy, after all they will be broken down in to energy to be used by the body but as we said above; using that energy is the problem.
 
More often than not you’re going to eat a whole tub at night, probably before bed so you won’t really be doing much in the way of activity…. Well…
 
It’s worth remembering that excess energy for the most part will likely be stored as fat, so maybe it’s best not to eat the whole tub. That is unless you can ‘fit’ it in to your macros we suppose.
 
There are plenty of alternatives such as Frozen Yoghurt and alike that are far more energy friendly and can contain as little as half the calories of an average tub of ice cream. You will just have to shop around for which ones you like.
 
The key thing to remember is nutrition is all about balance.
 
Obviously in an ideal world 80-90% of your daily calories would come from single ingredient whole foods and the remaining 10-20% would be from much simpler (and tastier) sources.
 
While in theory you can eat ‘anything’ provided you’re hitting your micro/macro nutrients and everything is in balance I have yet to see anyone actually look good eating the reverse of my opinion (80-90% what they want, 10-20% singles ingredient whole foods), that’s not to say it isn’t possible, just not that probable. Though that is only my opinion, I’m sure there are plenty who can prove me wrong, more power to them I say. 
 
To sum it all up, if you want to have a whole tub of ice cream, be that Ben & Jerry’s or any other then feel free but make sure it fits your energy expenditure requirements otherwise you might start seeing some extra ‘fluff’ appearing.
 

Enjoy,

Ross

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Strength is Skill

The pursuit of strength is an endeavor that can take many many years, but there is no better feeling than being able to effortlessly pick things up or put objects over your head struggle free.

Depending on who you speak to you will hear lots of differing opinions of how to build strength, however if you look at lots of older strength books and methodologies you will notice to common theme is set around 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps for effortless gains in strength and while there will be some differences from person to person in terms of over all sets (sometimes as high as 20!), they all say you should want to feel like you have maybe one or two potential reps left in the bag.

Training for strength is thought by some as constant struggle to get an extra rep, but you will often find that the really strong people would rather feel like every rep is easy and stop feeling they have a couple left in the bag, even if the weight is heavy. This style of athlete does not like grinding reps or excessive form break down as this leads to fatigue building up much faster than they would like which means more times is needed to recover.

Across the world there have been many great strength athletes but it’s the Russians, Bulgarians and their neighboring countries who have produced the majority. Why is this?

They believe that to lift a lot you need to lift a lot and often, but not to the point of form breakdown and excessive fatigue. They see strength as a skill that needs to be practiced regularly and thus the set their sets/reps according to this ethos.

Achieving easy strength requires time, patience and most of all perfect practice (or as close to perfect as possible). Grooving the movement so that it is effortless requires lots of repetition and consistency on your core movements (Squat, Bench, Deadlift for Powerlifters and the Clean & Jerk/Snatch for Weightlifters), you can add in various accessory movements to help balance the body as these are essential but if your goal is strength then lots of easy reps at sub-max weight is what you need.

Here are a couple of rep ranges to consider:

3×3, 3×4, 3×5
4×3, 4×4, 4×5
5×4, 5×4, 5×5
5-4-3-2-1
1-2-3-4-5
5-3-2 x2

There are lots of options but if you’re thinking about practicing your lifts daily then the above rep ranges will do just fine. You would load the bar with 80%+ (after warm up sets of course) and you would aim to never miss a rep while making sure they were all smooth and without any grinding.

Alternatively you could set a daily working rep range of 15-25 and hit those numbers however way you want. Just hit all the reps with good form and always leave a couple of reps in the bank. It is true you will have days where you feel exceptionally strong, if that is the case then you are more than welcome to try for a new rep pb or even a single rep pb, but be careful not to leave your best numbers on the gym floor, these are better suited to the comp stage.

Training in this manor will not only help you cement solid form in your movements it will also help you learn your body too. Meaning that you will know when you’re ready for a big lift and can go that little harder and when to back it off slightly.

If you start to feel overly tired then drop the volume (sets/reps) but keep the weights at 80%+, or scheduled in a rest weekend/week.

Strength is a skill, now go and start practicing.

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Want to know a secret?

Can I share a secret with you?

It’s a really good one.

….

Okay, it’s not really a secret but it is something that both men and woman can benefit from.

I will have two options for you to try that you can alternate every other day.

Each workout not only builds a strong wide back, impressive arms and muscular shoulder, but also helps burn fat and improve your cardio.

These workouts are for people who already have mastered the basics of the Double Kettlebell Snatch and have at least 5 strict.

Depending on your level of training, or where you think you are here are the requirements:

Using a 1-2-3-4-5 rep ladder scheme:

Level 1 – 2 Ladders
Level 2 – 3 Ladders
Level 3 – 5 Ladders

Kettlebell weights:

Level 1: M – 24kg, F – 12kg
Level 2: M – 28kg, F – 16kg
Level 3: M – 32kg, F – 20kg

Number 1:

Warm Up – 100 Kettlebell Swings, 50 Press Ups or Dips

A1 – Double Kettlebell Snatch
A2 – Pull Up – Medium Width Supinated Grip (these can be weighted)
Rest 60-90 seconds after a full ladder.
B1 – Ab Roll Out – One Ladder Only.

Warm Down – Stretching areas for development (often hips/chest/Lats)

Number 2:

Warm Up – 100 Kettlebell Swings, 50 Press Ups or Dips

A1 – Double Clean & Press
A2 – Double Kettlebell Squat
Rest 60-90 seconds after a full ladder.
B1 – Ab Roll Out – One Ladder Only.

Warm Down – Stretching areas for development (often hips/chest/Lats)

These look easy on paper but I can assure you that they are not. However if you successfully complete them and work your way up to level 3 on both ladder sets and weight used then you will not only be strong, but you will be very lean too.

Enjoy,
Ross

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You’re Not Ready

Morning Guys,

There is a key element to training that is often forgotten.

Do you know what it is or have you also forgotten about it?

….

Any Ideas yet?

Recovery…It’s recovery that is often forgotten about.

The definition of recovery is the return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength. When this relates to training that means that you are able to lift the same weight you did previously with the same efficiency, however if you have recovered adequately from the stimulus that you subjected the body to previously you will experience an adaptation/super compensation where you now are stronger than before, meaning you can handle more weight, more reps, more sets, less rest time or a combination of them. If you can’t then it’s arguable that you haven’t recovered.

There are some elements that will help improve your recovery:

– Sleep – You will be ideally getting 6-8 hours of sleep per night.

– Nutrition – Hit at minimum your basal caloric requirement but ideally a surplus of 300-500 calories.

– External Stress – Life… Just life. Work, Money, Relationships, all of these can affect your recovery if they cause your stress levels to be elevated on a constant basis.

In an ideal world these would be managed, it’s worth remembering that out of the three sleep is by far the most important. Stress isn’t far behind as it can affect your sleep, so you could say they are on par, ish.

Why is sleep top trumps in my book?

If sleep is disturbed you will find that homeostasis will be thrown out and your body will rapidly start to decline, even if your nutrition is on point and stress is well managed you will find that a lack of sleep will still take its toll.

Second on the list of importance would be stress. If you’re overly stressed you will find that can not only affect your ability to recover but it can also affect your sleep and your nutritional choices too (you will go looking for sugary foods to increase serotonin levels and lower cortisol).

If your nutrition is a bit lacking it’s not the end of the world, after all, nutrition is easy to sort with some simple tweaks and tracking. Obviously the quality of your food will also have an impact on your recovery, optimally eating the majority of our calories from single ingredient whole foods will yield the best macro/micronutrient profile, if you’re a fan of simple sugars then post workout would be the most optimal time to have these. Try to avoid foods that cause you gut irritation or gastric distress (this will vary from person to person, tracking what you eat and how you feel will help you find out what agrees and what doesn’t).

All in all it’s the management of your sleep and your stress levels that will have the biggest impact on you ability to recover.

To review the points above:

– Sleep – 6-8hour per night
– Stress – 10min daily meditation & 30min walks help lower cortisol.
– Nutrition – Eat mostly single ingredient whole foods at 3-500cal surplus.

Get these right and you will find your recovery is second to none.

Enjoy,
Ross

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Progression put Simply

Morning Guys,

Progression.

What is it?

How does it work?

Let me answer that for you…

Progression put simply:

Beginner: 0-18 months of training –

Add weight to the bar each workout until this is nit longer possible.

5kg lower body, 2.5kg upper body (smaller plates can also be useful to.help continue this beginner progression for as long as possible to milk it dry).

Strength is the focus.

Intermediate: 18months – 36months of training –

Add reps instead of weights. Focus on turning your 3RM in to a 5RM, your 5RM to an 8RM and so on.

Increased volume is the focus.

Advanced: 36months+ of training –

Now this is where it gets interesting and I will be honest, most people will never need to worry about making this more complicated than adding reps or weight, When it comes to the requirements for this style of training I would advise hiring someone to do it for you because you won’t possess sufficient knowledge to do it yourself.

Correct intensity and loading % can be a head ache at the best of times, not to mention total volume calculation, reload parameters and much more.

Why do you think elite athletes have coaches?

If it’s good enough for an elite, it’s good enough for you.

Hire a coach.

Enjoy,
Ross

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Daily 90%?

Morning Guys,

I was asked a very interesting question recently:

“Can you train heavy all the time?”

The person who asked the question defined heavy as 85%+, closer to 90% of 1RM truth be told.

Now considering all the varying factors that need to be taken in to account – Training Age, Recovery Ability, Nutrition, Stress Load, Sleep, External Influences to name a few. The answer is not a simple one, that said I will give you my opinion and my own personal answer to this question which has been gathered from my experience.

Yes. Yes you can.

HOWEVER!

To train at higher intensities more frequently you need to have everything else in your life on point (nutrition, stress, recovery etc etc) and have a minimum training age/experience of at least 5 years.

Why 5 years? Because by that time you will have made all the novice mistakes (hopefully) and built a solid foundation of strength, skill and movement patterns, not to mention you would actually have a very good idea of what your 1RM’s would actually be. If these are present then you could quite possibly train at 85% or even 90%+ frequently.

Now I believe it was the great Louis Simmons who said if you train at 90% for longer than three weeks you will in fact go backwards in your training, and I have to agree with him…

I know, curious isn’t it.

Given my last statement how can I say ‘yes’ to being able to train at 90% frequently then? Because what Louis Simmons was referring to was staying at 90% for one specific exercise for more than three weeks, this is where you would run in to problems, mainly due to CNS/overall fatigue in that one movement. However if you were to use movements that targeted similar muscle groups/movement patters but required a different total loading then this is how you could train at 85-90% of more for extended periods of time.

Are you following me?

For example you can Squat for lets say 2 weeks (possible 3 if you’re so inclined) then change this to perhaps a box squat, then a front squat after that and maybe an overhead squat next.

Can you see what’s happening? You’re loads int he other lifts won’t be as heavy as in the standard squat, meaning your nervous system won’t be taxed as heavily but you will still be working in a maximal strength range for each lift. In doing this you will also generate some good crossover to your other lifts (crossover helping the main lifting movement improve).

Example:

Weeks 1-3 – Squat
Weeks 4-6 – Front Squat
Weeks 7-9 – Overhead Squat
Weeks 10-12 – Box Squat

This style of training will require you to make copious notes and track your numbers, but it also helps produce some great results.

When it comes to loading parameters I would suggest using the following as guide lines:

Training Days – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday

– 85,87,90% 1RM – 3-6 sets 1-3 reps
– 87,90,92% 1RM – 2-5 sets 1-3 reps
– 90,92,95% 1RM* – 1-4 sets 1-3 reps

This way if you were cycling though 6 exercises you would use the first suggesting on all 6 then when the next time round comes you can use the second, if you don’t fancy testing a new 1-3RM that is to establish a new baseline for the 85-90%.

*The last suggestion would only be advised for people who compete or are very experienced, personally I would steer people towards the first guideline.

All in all this style of training is based around 2-3week mini cycles that have constantly changing exercises, the same is true for your accessory work which can be focused on your weaker areas and done for more bodybuilding style reps/sets. What I have given you is simply an example of intensity %, sets/reps, training days and exercise ordering, you can change/adapt this as you see fit.

One thing to remember about working at higher intensities more frequently is that you need to keep the volume per session on the low end, if you set this to high you’re in for trouble.

As you can see there is certainly a possibility of being able to work at 85% and above consistently, but you will need to make sure you have a solid plan of action when doing it.

Enjoy,
Ross

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Fear Is Good

Morning Guys,

A healthy does of fear can help you hit new GR’s (gym records) and even new PB’s (personal bests) in competition.

The idea of blocking out the nerves and ignoring them is often spoken about, with good reason too. Some people let their fear get the better of them to the point where the can’t do anything and become paralysed, but there are those few who embrace their fear and use it as fuel to push them through.

There is a fine line and balance that needs to be achieved, too achieve this state of mind will differ for every person so I can’t tell you exactly how you get in to the mindset, but I can give you a pointer from my perspective.

– Put a weight not he bar that makes you scared but hungry for it.

The saying “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” is actually a very true statement. You need to have a desire to achieve, but this desire is never more present than when you’re slightly scared.

I am not saying to go all out every session, but it would be work pushing yourself on certain lifts so that you learn how to control and embrace your fear while remaining hungry for progression.

Enjoy,
Ross

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