Monthly Archives: December 2016

I Got Skills, Have You?

Skills Skills Skills, Do you have them?
 
Keeping with the theme of the new year lead up and all of the resolutions that will be set it’s time to look at an often forgotten aspect of goal setting; Skill Requirement.
 
It might sound strange yet the ability to achieve a goal isn’t just down to sheer force of will and heart, although having only those two will get you a very long way. Something else you need will be a specific set of skills, let me give you an example.
 
Goal – Become a Rock Superstar.
 
Current Situation – Self Employed with no singing ability or musical talent.
 
Skills Required – Musical tone, lyrical genius, the ability to play one or multiple instruments.
 
Required Skills Currently Possessed – None, not a single one :(.
 
Required Action to Achieve Goal – Give up all work and invest time/money to learn all required skills to achieve the dream.
 
Overall Outcome – Loss of current earnings, potential homelessness, existential dread.
 
Decision – Goal unachievable.
 
Okay, that might be a tad extreme, I’m sure the outcomes wouldn’t be that terrible but you get the idea that the goal I wanted reared a certain set of skills that I didn’t possess and to acquire those skills I would bee to invest time and resources. This is something a great many forget to take in to account.
 
Everyone wants to achieve their goals and you might be surprised to learn that there are plenty of people that will help you along the way but before you can find them you need to honestly assess your current skills and which ones you will need to achieve your goal.
 
Here are five steps to help you:
 
1 – Write down your goal.
2 – Write down what skills you need to archive your goal.
3 – Write down what skills you HAVE and which ones you NEED.
4 – Write down a list of actions to acquire said skills.
5 – Apply the tips above.
 
Everyone starts somewhere, if you need help be sure to ask for it. Don’t let your goal slip through your fingers, achieve it and be proud!
 
Enjoy,
Ross
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You won’t like this post, it has too much truth in it.

2017, the year of the revolution you made in 2014…
 
How many new years resolutions have you made the you’ve actually stuck to?
 
Two, maybe three?
 
Perhaps you’re one of the few who has hit every single one each year. If so, good work, you’re a rare breed and deserve all the success – Honestly, I mean that, Im not being sarcastic. 
Back to the point of this post.
 
The problem I see with the good old NYR is that people think they need a specific date of time to make a change or create a goal. Personally I feel the new year is the worst time to do it and I shall tell you why… It’s because people are going to give up and fail, so this means that when you also give up you’re not the only one, saving a part of your ego and it means you can get away with stopping judgement free because it’s not just you who stopped.
 
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not nice to see people give up but it happens because it’s easier than the alternative (sticking at something through al the hard times to come).
 
It might sound harsh but it’s the truth. We all know that plenty of people will start a NYR and not hit it, thus taking the pressure off, but for those who stick to it people will start to say things like:
 
“I wish I could have stuck to mine but work got in the way” – No, you got lazy and didn’t prioritise.
 
“They’ve gt it easy, they don’t have ZXY stopping them or getting in the way.” – How do you know? They might have more to potentially hold them back, they just stuck at it because they had heart and wanted success more than you.
 
Get the picture?
 
If you have a goal or resolution why wait until the new year to action it? DO IT NOW!
 
You don’t need permission or a special date to start, you just need to do it and stick with it, it’s that simple. If you find it hard on your own and get stuck or need help then ask for it, people will help you, we like helping each other, you don’t have to do it alone if you don’t want to. Surround yourself with people to help you succeed. 
 
So tell me, on a scale of ‘I will do what I need to do to succeed’ to ‘I will give up at the first sign of hardship or opportunity to give up’ where will you be?
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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What’s Your View?

The age old saying –
 
“To look like an athlete you must train like one.”
 
It’s a good saying, however I personally feel people misinterpret what it actually means.
 
Be aware this is my personal philosophy on this saying that has developed and changed over the years through experience and working with various athletes of all levels.
 
Let’s take another look at the saying –
 
“To look like an athlete you must train like one.”
 
It really is quite motivating isn’t it, however people will take this as ‘You must follow an athletes training program to the letter if you want results.’ this is where the problems occur. The number one problem being most people are not athletes, even when compared to a novice level, thus they have no right to be training in that way.
 
Some will disagree with that statement from me, but once you’ve seen people burn out, get injured and everything else that comes with trying to train too far above their ability it will all become clear.
 
When we look at athletes it’s easy to forget where they started, however I can assure you it wasn’t training 3x per day with the volume and intensity they currently do. Chances are they trained like a beginner because that’s what they were.
 
To me saying above doesn’t mean you must train the same way an athlete does a their current level, it means you must have the MINDSET and ATTITUDE of an athlete.
 
What does an athletes mindset/attitude look like?
 
Well, if you stay jump they don’t ask how high, they automatically do it as high as they can and often go all out on everything. They don’t make excuses, they just do what they have to do to improve and the best ones listen to their peers and those who have more experience. Sometimes coaches will even have to hold an athlete (of any level) back because they will push too hard and injure themselves.
 
This mindset/attitude is something everybody needs and in time they will find they do indeed look and train like and athlete, but it took time, al long time because there are no shortcuts to results.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Much Confusion There Is…

Hopefully you all had a great Christmas and got everything your heart desired, or at least protein, protein is always good.
 
In the local coffee shop I was chatting to a friend yesterday about her endeavours in training for her first bikini comp. She is clearly excited but after a short chat she asked my opinion on training for such an event this is where things got interesting.
 
I will be the first to admit that training people for that style of comp is not something that massively interests me because when people start cutting (for their first anyway) they can end up making themselves ill. I’ve seen plenty of people in prep look great 4-6weeks out and then crash hard. They start to get even leaner and even lose muscle, this is not a good thing as once they rebound after the show typically there is a fair amount of fat gain.
 
Obviously everyone has to start somewhere and learn form their experiences but from what can be seen in many first time competitors, they fall victim to an extreme and end up doing themselves some damage (hormonally, metabolically & mentally) because they drop calories too low too fast and us incorrect macro ratios. This is why I would always advise hiring an EXPERIENCED coach for prep because they will help you avoid this pitfall.
 
^^ Eric Helms – The Muscle & Strength Nutrition Pyramid, a great book for naturals and nutrition for comps, buy it.
 
Sorry, went off topic there. It just concerns me that people end up hurting themselves in an effort to impress others and follow a trend because they think their first show must be perfect, it doesn’t. Front he good Bodybuilders, Physique Athletes I know they said it took them anywhere from 5-10 shows onwards before they knew their body well enough to avoid problems (they all had coaches as well).
 
Right, I will get to the point now.
 
The confusion mentioned above was in regards to training, she asked my opinion on what she should do in her bulk (the phase she is in), here is what I had to say:
 
“While not my strong point, I would personally say to focus on at least 1 heavy exercise 2-6 reps for 15-25 reps total at 85%+ 1RM or RPE of 9.5, then for accessory work 2 exercises with 6-8 reps for 50 reps total with an RPE of 9-10 (last set being all out, and most sets being close to it), then maybe another 1-2 exercises on a weak point focus or isolation with perhaps 3xfail or 3×8-12 – RPE 8-10.
 
A standard Pull-Push-Legs Split on rotating days if possible or a body part split with adequate crossover planned in. As for CV it’s not massive on a bulk as it just makes things harder, perhaps 1 or 2 walks per week just for health purposes but that’s up to you. All in all it cals in the supposed ‘optimal’ guidelines for hypertrophy based on current writings and also what I’ve read/seen over the years in anecdote.”
 
^^ Eric Helms – Muscle & Strength Pyramid, Brad Schoenfeld – Science & Development of Muscular Hypertrophy, Christian Thibaudeau – High Threshold Muscle Building, Charles Poliquin – The Poliquin Principles. Books worth buying for all the knowledge.
 
It was at that point I could see her internally screaming.
She explained how what I said is different from what her current personal trainer says (12+ reps on everything, moderate weights – not terrible advice) and what he says different again from what her comp coach she is using says as well (12-15 reps +, lifting light).
 
^^ Pertty logical when cutting to help keep up volume but I’m personally not too sure that’s the best way to be on a bulk, it’s also been quite well documented that natural lifters will soon burn out on the stupidly high volume programs that the pro’s use on a regular basis. Check out PowerBuilding – this is something worth looking in to as a great many well known pros do this (Bradley Martin, Mike O-hearn etc)
 
Poor lady.
 
Now technically everyone is right because provided the volume was equated correctly to provide the stimulus she needed, plus correct nutrition/rest etc, growth would occur, however the strength gained would be the differing factor.
 
 
I told her to simply listen to her comp coach to avoid any further confusion and that my opinion was just that, my opinion and not to be taken over her current coach.
 
It’s interesting that there are so many schools of thought to which is the most optimal route to go for building muscle for a comp, however if you look at many of the successful champions they all have/had one thing in common, do you know what it was?
 
No, not steroids, although that’s true for most past a certain level.
 
They were all brutally strong and you can get strong lifting piddly weights, not really. They all built a massive amount of muscle before they stepped foot on stage, just look at what they used to lift, Reg Park could press a total of 235lbs (two dumbbells) for multiple reps in the strict overhead press, Arnie had a 700lbs deadlift, Grimek has a 400lbs+ overhead press, Tom Platz could squat 500lbs for 23 reps, you get the picture.
 
Many people who have admirable physiques put in plenty of time getting strong in the 2-6 rep range and building a density of muscle and used 8-12 for their volume so they could have the biggest piece of granite to chisel in to the perfect sculptures you see on stage. After all, you can’t carve a goliath master piece out of a pebble.
 
Just something to think about.
 
Almost every method will work to some degree and almost every method will work for some one. If you want to avoid confusion look for trends, you know, the majority and similarities of successful people (they all lift heavy when not cutting, and keep a small portion of heavy lifting when they do cut as well) and that my friends is one way to reduce your confusion, or increase it dramatically, sorry in advance.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Early New Years Thoughts

I trust you all had a very merry christmas :).
 
It’s almost time to welcome in the new year, we’ve got a short week for those who are going back to work and then most are off again for the start of 2017. If you don’t need to train this week it could be the ideal time for a rest week, especially considering that gyms will have strange hours, unless you’re a member of a 24/7 one that is.
 
With the new year will come new goals, most will wait until the day to set theirs but I urge you to start doing it now. That way you will be able to write some clear goals, I am sure you’re all familiar with SMART (specific, measurable, agreed, realistic, time-bound), this is a time tested method of setting goals, however there are other options to consider.
 
– One Minute Goal Setting
 
Write down what you want to achieve and HOW you’re going to achieve it in less than 250 words, that a way it will take less than a minute to read said goal. You can have multiple ones.
 
– Action Based Goals
 
Similar to OMGS, you write down your end goal and then the actions that you will be implementing to help you make a life style change, here is an example: Buying smaller plates to reduce portion size in meal.
 
Get the idea? This is actually a very effective method, just make sure you keep your daily/weekly actions in view at all times.
 
Feel free to use either of those 3 methods.
 
As it’s boxing day you will find that the shops are open and there are various sales going on, I would suggest popping in to one and getting yourself a couple of dairies for tracking your training, nutrition and perhaps even your daily activities. This will help you keep on top of your own accountability and keep you honest.
 
If you have any idea for your new years resolutions I would highly recommend this one: Be honest with yourself, write things down and see where you are going right and what might need a little adjusting to fit the behaviours you will need to progress in 2017.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Time to Balance

As Christmas day draws nearer and the new year is literally around the corner I feel it’s a good time to start looking at some potential goals for next year, especially those surrounding balanced strength in certain lifts and even across the board if possible.
 
The lifts I want to draw your attention to are the following:
 
– Front Squat
– Behind Neck Press (It’s not dangerous if done correctly)
 
Exercises that when strengthened to their ideal ratio to their counterparts provide excellent strength/hypertrophy progress.
 
When people speak about squats it’s often the back variety in a high bar position (across the traps) typically, unless said person is a power lifter in which case they will opt for low bar (across the rear debts). When looking at your typical squat you should find your front squat hitting around 85% of that number. Yep, 85%. If you do 3×100 on back squat then you’d want to be hitting 85×3 on front squat.
 
A strong front squat will not only make your back squat feel easier, it will give you tremendous strength through the quads, core and upper back because of having to hold the front rack position. You will also find that the front squat has more athletic crossover as well.
 
If you haven’t really done much in the way of front squat then fear not, I will put up a simple progression method/workout below to help you improve these two lifts.
 
Time to discuss the much fear Behind Neck Press. There are a lot of people who claim this will destroy your shoulders and if the movement is done incorrectly and you have poor posture then they’re right, however if you take some time to iron out some kinks and improve your mobility/flexibility/form so you can perform this pain free with full ROM you will find your shoulders thank you in the end.
 
The lift we will be basing your BNP off of is your close grip bench press. You should look to be pressing 66% of your CGB in the BNP, so to put some numbers to that, if you CGBx6x100 you should be able to handle 66kg for 6 in the BNP. If you can this shows a healthy balance in your shoulders and chances are you will be injury free for the most part.
 
*If you are looking for where I go this info you will find it in the writings of a great strength coach by the name of Charles Poliquin, you might have heard of him.
 
Here’s a small excerpt from ‘The Poliquin Principles’ it’s well worth purchasing – https://www.scribd.com/doc/57908561/Charles-Poliquin-The-Poliquin-Principles
 
Now I said I would give you a simple method/workout to help you progress these, here it is (it’s a modified Hepburn method, check out Doug Hepburn’s writings, they hold a lot of great tips).
 
 
^^ A starting point for info on Doug.
 
First things first, the parameters of the workout:
 
– Establish 3RM for Squat and CGB then take the required % of those numbers for your FS & BNP (85%, 66% – You can go for 65% or 70% if you hate funny numbers).
 
– Take 10-20% off the weights you should be using for FS & BNP, starting out lighter will benefit you in the long run and allow you more room to progress and groove the movements/from. Leave your ego at the door.
 
– Train 3xP/W (2x FS/BNP sessions, the other session can have deadlift, dips, filler lifts etc, there will be an example of this)
 
– Start each compound lift at 1×3 & 7×2, add a rep every session until you hit 8×3 (should last around 4 weeks), once you hit this go back to 1×3,7×2 but increase the weight on said lift. Repeat to make all the gains (Y).
 
– Accessory Lifts: Have a pulling movement – say chin up) in-between each set of FS/BNP in a jump set fashion, it will look like this: A1 FS – Rest 60 seconds, A2 Chin Rest 60 seconds, A1 FS, and so on.
 
Here is how the workout high look:
 
Monday: Rest 60-90 seconds between sets.
A1 – FSQ 1×3,7×3
A2 – Chin x6-8
B1 – Bnp 1×3,7×2
B2 – Chest Supported Row x6-8
C1 – Optional Isolation lift on weak body part (calves, rear delts etc)
 
Wednesday: Rest 60-90seconds betweens sets.
A1 – Deadlift Ramp to 2RM, back off for 5x2x85-90% daily max.
B1 – Dumbbell Incline Press 3-6×6-8
B2 – Face Pull x8-12
C1 – Dips 6×6-8
 
Friday: Rest 60-90 seconds between sets.
A1 – FSQ 2×3,7×3
A2 – Pull Up Peg Grip x6-8
B1 – Bnp 2×3,7×2
B2 – Pendlay Row x6-8
C1 – Optional Isolation lift on weak body part (calves, rear delts etc)
 
^^ Notice the 1 rep progression on the main compound lifts (FS/BNP).
 
You will find this is quite a nice little change from your standard training and helps you bridge those strength imbalances.
 
Any questions simply leave a comment down below.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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The Gift of Glutes & Gains

The Gift of Glutes & Gains
 
We are in the time of giving and because of this I would like to give you a nice little set of tips to fire up your glutes before squats and then I have a challenge for you.
 
Glute activation:
1 – Band Crab Walks
 
Wrap a band around your ankles and shuffle from side to side (3-5 sets each way, repeat 3-5 times).
 
2 – Kettlebell Swings
 
Max effort swing, make sure you dive your hips through and really pinch those glutes hard. Do 3-5 reps for 3-5 sets.
 
Challenge:
 
– Load a barbell with your bodyweight (you can try 1.5xBW if you consider yourself strong or 0.75xBW if you think BW will be too hard).
– Set a timer for 5min.
– Perform as many squats as possible in the time limit, ideally without putting the bar back in the rack. You can hold the weight at the top as long as you need, just don’t rack it until the time is over or you die (figuratively speaking that is, not literally).
 
The simple activation exercises will have your glutes screaming by the end of this, not to mention you will create a massive hormonal disturbance (increasing testosterone, GH, etc) but also a massive EPOC (excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption). Chuck in some pressing/pulling movements and you will get a great workout with great results.
 
Basically you will get all the gains for Christmas this year if you do this 2-3x per week.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Give yourself a break once in a while.

With Christmas Right around the corner there will be a lot of indulgence and while I have no issues with this it can lead to a rather negative/vicious circle for some people.
 
You know the one…
 
They want said food, they don’t only eat what will satisfy them, they gorge because for that moment they lose an inhibitions. This can even last for the entire month of December which isn’t a problem for those who are happy with that decision, however for those who will be rife with guilty it can be quite damaging.
 
After this period the new years comes in and the same people go hell for leather in the gym and strip back their nutrition to the bones, this only leads to physical and mental burn out which is not good at all. In fact it’s quite a bad place to be in because it can start the year off with a negative thought process and pattern that ends up being repeated.
 
What pattern?
 
– Think being ‘thin’ ‘toned’ ‘any other fad word’ will make you happy – Achieve said goal but feel terrible (and become potentially ill) because of all you’ve denied yourself – Let loose and eat EVERYTHING – Feel guilty – Repeat process –
 
I see this happen year after year, not only at Christmas specifically, it happens all year round and it’s something we need to help people break out of. No easy task, sadly.
 
My advice?
 
Before you make a choice be sure that you’re completely happy with it and the outcome, if you know deep down this is not the case then perhaps you might want to reconsider.
 
If you find you might not be abel to do it on your own then seek out help, there is nothing wrong with asking for help.
 
Remember to enjoy Christmas guilt free, don’t make choices you will regret, just ones you will look back and smile over.
 
Enjoy
Ross

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Rouge One & Online Coaching

Yesterday I went to see Rogue One.

It was epic. Legitimately one of the best Star Wars films since the originals.

You should go and see it, immediately!

Now I’ve got that off my chest I think we should take a look at the rise of online coaching and peoples experience with it.

*Warning, this post may cause offence because I’m just that kind of ass hole.

It’s popular now for people to be newly qualified (if at all) with little to no experience of actually training/coaching people to jump on the bandwagon of “I’m going to be an online coach.” because of all the success they have seen people achieve via social media in this regard, or at least that’s what they’ve been shown, if said achievements are real for everyone or just hot air is another matter.

The same is true for people who do a few shows themselves and take up the mantel of online coach. Some can make it work because they are that good, to those people we se ‘Good job, you know your stuff and are actually good” but they are few and far between. For the majority it’s just an easy option these days that they think will avoid the much needed years of hard graft in the trenches.

Obviously there are some great online coaching practices available. These are the ones who will send you in-depth questionaries on your current trainings, nutrition, psychological profile and much more. This is because they cater for multiple factors across the entire spectrum of making gains. Worth remembering.

I can say that I know of some online coaches that haven’t really done anything int he way of training real people or even achieved anything themselves, these are the ones that bring the standard down. On the flip side there are people who are worth their weight in gold, you’ve just got to be careful who you get these days as clever marketing can make even the ugliest turd look like a polished diamond.

Anyone can pay for good marketing and fake transformation images/testimonials or even stealing other peoples photos, beware of this.

A few elements that often seem missing from online coaching are rarely the programming aspects (although they can be up for questioning). It’s the actual COACHING, you know, as in setting goals/process goal, video tutorials, video assessment/coaching eye, regular contact (depending on the level of service paid for), program adjustment due to lifestyle or other unforeseen factors, . Basically a client centred approach to coaching rather than a cookie cutter one.

 

What do you consider the qualities required to make a good online coach?

Have you used one?

Perhaps you are an online coach, if so what do you do  that you see many others fail to do?and how do you feel about how the world of online coaching is going?

I am not saying online coaching is bad, far from it because for some people this can be an excellent way to make progress and is exactly what they need, but with all the poor quality ‘coaches’ out there it’s a minefield.

Leave your comments down below and let me know how you feel about all this.

 

Ross

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The Tricksters Pages…

With all the fitness magazines, best selling books and other such things floating around it can be quite hard to know what to believe.
 
If we look at a standard fitness magazine you will find that the workout you read on page 27 is completely different from the one on page 62, yet they both claim to work. This does no favours and ends up leaving you more confused than when you first picked it up.
 
It’s maddening, isn’t it.
 
While I advice people read and expand their knowledge I would highly suggest getting a coach/trainer to put together your workouts, this is because you will have something that is individually made for YOU and caters to all your needs and not just a flashy headline to sell copies of this weeks latest print.
 
It’s better to spend a pretty penny on something that will get you the results you need than waste it on information that will only take you in circles.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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