Monthly Archives: August 2016

Torch Fat in 20.

If you find yourself stuck for time here is a 20min workout that will hit most of the major muscle groups in the body, improve your CV and also bring down your body fat levels. The idea is to aim to do more in the same amount of time, thus increasing the volume, intensity and destiny of your workouts along with your work capacity.

These workouts can be done daily, all you need do is alternate the two pull body lifts day to day. Use one or two kettlebells for the main lifts. 

Workout A:

– Kettlebell Swing
– Clean & Press (or Jerk)

Workout B:

– Kettlebell Swing
– Snatch

*A note: If you are a complete beginner you can do a simple workout of kettlebell swings as the main 10min workout with goblet squats, press ups and rows as the warm up until you learn/master the skills of the C/J & S.

The sets and reps will be very simple as the workouts will be based on time. After a general warm up of 5min this leaves you 15min to workout being split in to a 10min solid block of work then 5min warm down.

5min – Warm Up – Swings
10min – Clean & Press/Jerk or Snatch
5min – Warm Down – Swings

You warm up and warm down swings will all be crisp reps, so 5,10,20 or however many feel crisp, strong and snappy.

Perform your reps in the two key exercises (C/J or S) and when you need to rest of you find your form/speed slowing down you place the kettlebells down and rest as needed. The more advanced you get you will find you can rest in the rack position in the C/J and the overhead lockout in the Snatch.

This workout looks easy enough on paper, however a word to the wise… It isn’t. Remember to vary the loads as needed, wave through heavy days, medium days and light days, don’t attempt to use the same weight everyday as this can cause not only excessive fatigue but damage to your hands and potential injury.

In the early stages I would structure it as follows:

Monday – Heavy
Tuesday – Light
Wednesday – Medium
Thursday – Light
Friday – Heavy
Saturday – Light
Sunday – Medium

So you have a light day after a heavy or medium day. The more advanced you get you can have more medium days.

The idea of this workout is to build cumulative volume over the week, that is what will help you strip fat, build lean muscle and increase your overall fitness.


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Question Time

Morning Guys,
Before you write yourself anew program I want you to ask yourself these questions first:
– How/Why will said program work?
– What training variables does it manipulate?
– What is the planned progression scheme?
– How are you tracking the program/progress?
When you’re planning a program you need to look at it with some logic and objectivity. A lot of people end up writing programs for themselves that are exactly the same (within reason) as what they’ve done before and wonder why they never really get anywhere. Ideally I would suggest you have someone else program your workouts for you.
Answer all those questions, if you can’t answer one then you need to sit and have a good think before starting your self written program.
Just something to think about.

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Easy on Paper…

Morning Guys,
I have a technique for you to add to your arsenal, it’s not a new technique but it’s one that is very effective.
Timed Sets.
Instead of doing the standard 3×8-12 or 5×5, you will be doing sets for a specific time (you can play with the variable number of sets or length of the set depending on your preference).
You could call this interval training with weights.
Here is how you do it:
– Load exercise with 40-80% 1RM (I mean a solid 1RM with good form, no sloppy maxes). Hypertrophy can be stimulated with as little as 30% total load of 1RM (higher loads will help recruit more muscle fibres but the lower ones will tribute to total volume/mechanical fatigue, both stimulate growth), however where this will be a good from 1RM and not an all out 1RM stick with 40% as your starting point, I will link some of the recent work of Brad Schoenfeld for you to look at below:
– Set a stop watch for 30 seconds minimum to 5min max (you could do more than 5min but that would be brutal), you can match the rest 1-1 or 1-2. Recently studies have confirmed that 60-90 seconds rest (meaning 1-2 if you did 30 second sets) are optimal for increasing HGH, Testosterone, IGF1 and oath such anabolic hormones if hypertrophy is your goal, the longer the rest means more Test production/higher levels but less HGH. You can find info on the link below and also other studies:
– Rep out until the time is up. Use a tempo of 4-0-1-0 as a starting point, you can manipulate this as you see fit. 6-0-6-0 is a nice/nasty one for hypertrophy. Read this:
The method is simple and works well with compound and isolation movements, not to mention it saves you time in the gym (depending on the program structure). I would suggest 1-2 compound movements with 1-2 isolation movements for each body part. It helps increase HGH, Testosterone, MU/Muscle Fibre recruitment and much more. If you want to know why this works (constant tension & volume principles) then take a look at this post:
Now when it comes to the set timing I have said 30 seconds to 5min, the reason for this is because the minimum amount of TUT (time under tension) to stimulate hypertrophy is around the 30second mark with a load of 80-85%1RM according to various studies, however low loads that have more total TUT are also as effective – take a look at this link for more info:
When it comes to the 5min sets I would not go above the 60% loading and use a rest-pause style (1 rep, 2-3 deep breaths, repeat until time up, keep a focus on cadence or the reps too – 3-0-1-0 for example).
Here is an example program based on a 3 day per week body part spilt:
*On main compound lifts use a work to rest of 1-2, on accessory lifts use 1-1.
Pull Day –
– Deadlift: 1x3min, 1x2min, 1x1min – 70-80% Load
– Pull Up: 3×90 seconds
– Row: 3×90 seconds
– Curls (bar or DB) 4×75 seconds
Push Day –
– Close Grip Bench: 3x2min – 70-80% load
– Press: 5×60 seconds
– Cable Fly: 3×90 seconds
– Skull Crusher: 3×90 seconds
Leg Day –
– Squat 1x5min, 1x3min, 1x2min 40-80% load
– RDL 3x3min
– Hamstring Curl 3x1min
– Calf Raise 2x4min
On paper this doesn’t look like much but I can tell you from experience that this is no easy workout. The guildeine program above is merely an example not gospel. When it comes to press you will still need to adhere to the principles of overload and aim to add a little bit of weight to the bar where you can.

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3 Ways to Gain

It’s been said that the truly successful people out there have the perfect balance of science and anecdote. I have to say I’m inclined to agree.

In this group we all enjoy a good debate and discussion about training, nutrition, mindset and ‘supplements’ however I feel there are lots of things we don’t cover as well, such as the length of time required for progress, how to accurately create a training plan based on DUP, Block Periods and so on.

It would be great to have people put up suggestions regarding various topics and also the backing (both scientific/anecdotal) for their claims. This is so that knowledge can be shared and lessons can be learnt.

I will start with a brief snippet on the different ways to build muscle/strength and where I got the info from.

You can stimulate growth one of three ways:

1 – Heavy Lifting
2 – Constant Tension
3 – Volume/Cumulative Fatigue

How do they work?

1 – Heavy Lifting (as it sounds, Franco’s fav):

– Micro-trauma, a high force output leads to a high rate of protein degradation, meaning increased protein synthesis post training.

– Neural factors, you can recruit more muscle fibres/motor units more efficiently, meaning you can lift more weight progressively over time.

– Hormonal response is typically an increase of free Testosterone.

*Christian Thibaudeau speaks of this in detail in the book ‘Black Book of Strength Training Secrets’ well yea actually speaks about this in all his books to be fair.

2 – Constant Tension (pump training, Arnold’s fav):

– When you perform a strength/hypertrophy training exercise while starving the target muscle of oxygen through constant tension, several things happen: lactate production increases, hGH and IGF-1 levels (very anabolic hormones).

– Muscle is being stimulated finds itself in a hypoxic state (oxygen deprived), fast-twitch fiber activation is increased as a result, it has been said this is due to the type 1 fibres lack of activation because of the shortage of available oxygen to said target muscle.

– Sets lasting at least 30 seconds, preferably 40-70 seconds of time under maximal tension (to maximize lactate production).

*Check out Dr Squat (Dr Fred Hatfield) and his book ‘A Scientific Approach to Bodybuilding or any of his other books.

3 – Volume/Cumulative Fatigue (reps for days, Serge Nubrej’s fav):

– Volume work with short rest periods (90 seconds tops – this also helps increase IGF1 & HGH) typically will increase the number of muscle fibers being stimulated via the cumulative fatigue effect.

– Due to the moderate weights used they type 1 fibres become fatigued meaning more type 2 recruitment will occur to keep you pumping out the reps.

– The more total volume the more adaptation is required, meaning more muscle growth to keep up with the volume demands. Think of rowers and other athletes that have high volume outputs and their overall muscular size.

*This is mentioned in several of the books written/co-authored by Zatsiorsky, check out ‘Super Training’.

Usually you will end up combining al three of these method in some way shape or form over the years, but for those who didn’t know this is how muscle/strength typically is built. I’ve always used the Heavy Lifting Method,, however I got he best results when I had a high degree of TUT (constant tension) as well but like a true idiot I stopped with the maximal tension because it was hard going….

More fool me.

What knowledge are you going to share?

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Buy These Books

Morning Guys,

The fitness industry rare yields any new information.

You will read articles that while written differently, the messages are essentially the same. This isn’t a bad thing as people learn in different ways.

I have decided today that rather than write my version I will simply share some great books that you need to add to your book shelf to improve your learning.

– The Scientific Principles of Strength Training
– The Science & Practice of Strength Training
– The Ultimate Diet 2.0
– Bounce

These books will help you gain a good basic understating of nutrition, training and mindset.


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Failure Mindset

Morning Guys,
Do you live with the failure mindset?
Plenty of people live with the attitude of:
“That person is … Bigger, Stronger, Leaner, Fitter etc… than me because of … Genetics, Money/Born with a Silver Spoon, Steroids and so on…. I will never be like that.”
This is the failure mindset and all it serves to do is hold you back because you’re expecting to fail. I’ve said it plenty of times before, too many people make their excuses as to why they won’t achieve XYZ and as a result never achieve anything.
Sadly I feel the failure mindset is actually something that our culture is feeding these days, what with all the ‘safe spaces’ the ‘words hurt’ and ‘You all deserve nice things’ campaigns people are becoming mentally weaker by the day. Don’t get me wrong, some things people say really do hurt and there is no need for them but most of the time people need to simply grow a thicker skin and crack on with life.
If you’re wondering what’s prompted this post today, the answer is simple. I’ve been in the failure mindset for a while, mainly due to not feeling that I was reaping the rewards for the effort I was putting in, when in reality I was missing certain elements that would allow success. The fault was mine because of my mindset, I stopped training as hard as I should have, I wasn’t eating enough and as a result make slow and lack lustre progress. It sucks but we reap what we sow so it’s time to kick myself up the ass and get back to the righteous path of the iron.
I have made plenty of mistakes, this mindset being one of them. It’s time to learn from that mistake and do what needs to be done.
Do you live in the failure mindset?
Sit down and write a list of all the things you are meant to be doing to achieve your goal, then write down every excuse you use to avoid doing what needs to be done. Once you’ve done this take a moment to change those excuses in to behaviours that will allow you to succeed and break free of the failure mindset.

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5 Mistakes You Make

Morning Guys,

Making progress is something everyone aims to do, today I am going to list the most common reasons why you’re NOT progressing and have become stuck at a certain level.

Some of these answers may surprise you.

1 – No Overload

Essentially you’re not training hard enough to prompt a stimulus that will require and adaptive response (SAID, GAS principles, look them up). You need to be creating as much time under maximal tension as possible to elicit a noteworthy response from your body/nervous system.

Try 10×3 at 80% 1RM followed by 70% 1RM for one all out set to failure.

2 – Too Much Overload

You’re training too hard.

Yep, on the complete opposite end of the spectrum to the point above this is common for people who are working out for hours at a time, often doing a gym session and then possibly cardio and back to back gym classes (or something like that). This can take you past the stage of Overreaching, which is needed to create the stimulus required for super compensation to take place, and put you in to a perpetual state of “I must survive” meaning you won’t adapt, merely just make it through.

You may also not be having enough rest days (2-3 per week is good for average folk).

Training too much can easily be avoided by planning in deloads every 3rd or 4th week, or at the bare minimum you will want a reduction in volume, so something like this:

Week 1 – 10x3x80%
Week 2 – 10x4x80%
Week 3 – 10x5x80%
Week 4 – 5x3x original 80%
Week 5 – 10x3x80%+5lbs and so on.

3 – Under Eating

This is exactly as it sounds. You’re not eating enough calories to recover/build muscle and sustain your activity levels. You might be eating in balance with your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) or possibly be in a deficit (under what you need each day), both of these will contribute to a lack of progress.

To establish a baseline guide for calories take your weight in Lbs and multiply it by 17-19 for a quick daily calories number. If you want to be more technical use the Harris-Benedict formula, link here:…/harris-benedict-equation/

There is also the question of macros, you can find that info here:

4 – No Rest Days

Rest days can seem like a pain to the hard core gym goer but they are essential for recovery and building/repairing tissues and progressing.

Optimal training frequency per muscle group is 3-5 days, this can be found in both peer reviewed studies and also through anecdotal evidence from some of the worlds best lifters, you are free to do your own digging on this. Start here and look at the studies referenced:…/training-frequency-for-…/

5 – No Tracking

All of the above are some of the reasons people don’t progress, from my experience they are the most common (other reasons can be hormonal, stress related etc but this will require blood tests to establish), however if you don’t track what you’re doing, what you’re eating and how you’re actually progressing you won’t really have any idea of what is going wrong. It’s like pissing in to the wind.

Go to a local shop and buy a diary, they are around £1-3 and will dramatically improve your training and your progress.

Time to stop slacking, start progressing and take things to the next level.


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Elmental, Dear Watson.

Morning Guys,

This is a post for those of you who’ve been training for quite a while because it’s going to be based around how you can establish a guideline for the dominant neurotransmitter(s) in your body.

Here are the 4 we’re looking at:

– Dopamine
– Acetyl Choline
– Serotonin

*There will be a link to a test at the end that will allow you to find where you fit on the scale and if you may have any potential defiance’s. Remember this is not gospel, if you do the test and are clearly deficient I would suggest going to the doctors and getting a proper test to confirm or dismiss this if needed.

The first two neurotransmitters are essentially the ones that give people lots of oomph, the second two are responsible for chilling people out. Remember this for later.

Why is it important to know if you are dominant in one, two or have a general balance of them all?

It’s because depending on how your body is wired will effect the style/types of training that best suit you. Obviously there will be some room for modification but these guidelines never seem to be too far off.

The neurotransmitter profile of a person is linked to their training by the use of what’s known as the 5 Elements (I learnt this from a seminar with Charles Poliqun, it’s worth researching). There are 5 elements:

– Fire
– Wood
– Earth
– Metal
– Water

Each respond better to a certain style of training (I have tried this with various clients and found success with it – nutrition was tailored accordingly as well).

Lets break down each type with a brief explanation of how they work and some guidelines for optimal training.

Fire – Dopamine Dominant

These people are typically very fast twitch and have very efficient nervous systems. As a result they respond best to high intensity loading (85%+), low reps (1-6) and multiple sets (3-15, 10-30seconds rest if speed work and 3-5min for heavier). You will normally have to rotate their exercise selection every 1-2weeks, planning exercises that yield a good amount of cross over is incredibly important, just don’t stick with the same variation of the movement and they will progress well.

Due to their efficient nervous systems they adapt very quickly and need to vary the stimulus at every workout. Its best to vary tempo, rest periods first, then exercises, sets/reps (8 is a lot of reps for this style of lifter) but intensity should remain high. If you take away intensity you take away their training stimulus.

Wood – Acetyl Choline Dominant

Similar to a Dopamine Dominante person in regards to how they respond best to variety. They are typically fast twitch dominant but their nervous systems aren’t as efficient as Dopamine types and as a result they need repetition in exercise exposure (think 6-12 reps) and a mix of volume (2-10 sets 60-90seconds rest works wonders) and intensity (70%+). While they do well with variety it’s worth remembering they are still more towards the scale of a Power Athlete and will burn out if there is too much volume, 2 weeks loading with a 3rd week deload works well for them.

Earth – The Balance

Athletes who have an equal balance of all 4 Neurotransmitter tend to be fairly consistent/grounded. Structure and consistency are winners here, these people will do well on a structure of 2 week accumulation (volume 3-12 reps, 3-8 sets, 2min rest is a good starting point for these people) and 2 week intensification (intensity 70-80% weeks 1-2 and 90% weeks 3-4)), basically adopt a mixture of Fire/Wood training for these guys. You can easily go for 12-16 weeks with minor changes in exercise variation/selection with these people before a significant deload is needed.

Avoid using too much maximal loading/maximal output with these people, their not as neurologically efficient as fire types and it will lead to burn out.

Metal & Water – GABA/Serotonin dominant people.

Typically these types of people have very little interest in training, sport or activities of competitive nature. You can typically find these people doing Yoga, Pilates and other similar endeavours because they are very very chilled out people.

There is a lot more info that can be written in terms of training plans/progression but for now it’s best you let this sink it, take the test below and see if your training fits your bias.


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Better Start Contracting.

Morning Guys,

When you lift weights you’re meant to be contracting the target muscles as hard as possible, however I am willing to bet that a good majority of you don’t.

A lot of people don’t focus hard enough not he muscular contraction and simply perform the movement (poorly I might add). They use too much weight and too much momentum, if building muscle is your goal then this is so very very wrong. You need to focus and squeeze each rep for all it’s worth.

Let’s clear something up first.

A pure beginner will struggle to recruit the muscle and contract it hard, however this post is aimed at people who’ve been training fro at least 1 year, I will deal with pure beginners another time.

Back to the purpose of the post.

If we take a bicep curl as the example (everyone knows how to curl… well, ish), the movement is pretty simple. The biceps contract to flex the elbow, when done you can fell the biceps shorten and form a small mound of muscle, but just doing that isn’t enough. To get the most out of the rep you want to FEEL the contracting be as hard as possible on each rep, with as close to perfect/full ROM as possible. To achieve this you want to lower the weight and focus hard, leave your ego out of this and rep out until you get momentary muscular failure from contracting each rep as hard as possible.

*Use a tempo of 4-0-1-0, Eccentric, Pause, Concentric, Pause

What i want you to take away from his post is as follows:

Lower the weight on all your exercises and focus on contracting the muscle you’re trying to work. If you don’t then your body will put the tension elsewhere which can lead to imbalances and problems.

Here is a great series of books to help you get started:…/strength-training-anatomy-wo…


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