Monthly Archives: November 2018

A book worth a read.

Have you ever read ‘The Warrior Diet’?
 
It’s quite the thought provoking little read.
 
While the science of it all is questionable in regards to the acclaimed hormonal responses etc, the overall premise is a solid one.
 
Here is a summary of the book in short:
 
– Eat in a time restricted period
– Whole nutritions foods should be the go to choice
– Making food choices for performance & health is key
 
In all honesty it is very easy to follow and is steeped in common sense more than anything else, you’d be surprised at the overall results you can achieve if you adhere to it.
 
That’s the key element though, adherence.
 
Do you think you can stick to it or is food something you rely on for comfort or perhaps other reasons apart from that of survival and necessity.
 
Questions worth pondering.
 
Give the book a read, you’ll likely find it novel if nothing else.
 
Enjoy,
Ross
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Extremes, sometimes they can be a good thing.

Morning All,
 
You will find that many, myself included talk about finding the right balance, you know, the middle of the bell-curve.
 
I have a little something for you to think about, if you’re up for the challenge as well it will take you One Year to complete.
 
Knowing your own body is something we all strive for, this is so we can go hard when needed and back of when we have no other choice before we break, this is an ongoing experiment, or at least it should be.
 
A lot never get to the places they need.
 
This made me wonder, could you survive a year of extremes?
 
Rather could you survive 3 blocks of extremes.
 
Example:
 
– January to April: Extreme Training, 5+ sessions a week, eating like a Prince & Princess (small calorie surplus).
 
– May to August: Extreme Nutrition, time restricted eating 4pm to 8pm window (Pauper eating, major calorie deficit), you’d train 3-5days per week total.
 
– September to December: Extreme Rest, train every 3-5 days, eating like a King & Queen (large calorie surplus).
 
This little idea gives you the much needed RAMP at the start of the year while cutting out some of the ‘cheek’y calories you over consumed across the festive period, then it get’s you in shape of the summer, ready to take some down time in the lead up to Christmas.
 
Essentially it’s just simple periodisation of sorts.
 
Make sense?
 
The idea of going to an extreme, especially one you’ve don’t done before can be just what you need. The above is merely an example, however you’d find it would work.
 
You will be pleasantly surprised how taking your training down from say your typical 6 days a week to 2-3 days per week can be a welcome break, both physically and mentally.
 
It will also mean that when you go in you don’t piss about, oh yes I know you don’t train as hard as you could going in 6 days a week.
 
Many who go in multiple days and multiple times a day don’t really put in as much effort as they could, in fact how would it even be possible?
 
You can train hard or long, not both, after all.
 
Going in less times a week will invigorate you to push it a little more in the sessions you do have, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how well you do with this approach.
 
That is if you have the courage to do it.
 
Give some thought to the extremes, many you will try the above or create your own, who knows.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Squats & Thy Self

I love the squat.
Truly it is one of my favourite lifts because it tests not only your physical strength, it also gives your mental fortitude a fair run for its money.
My ultimate goal was to squat 3xBW, 210kg (at the time), and I did it.
Would you like to know how it felt?
Honestly it was pretty good, yet once it was done there was nothing but void after all was said an done.
This goal took 5 years for me to hit.
5 years, for what?
My own sense of self, of knowing I did it and the one bitter truth of it all I learned was this; it didn’t matter, not really.
While I will always know I did it, no one else really cares and there are plenty of people out there who are doing this on a regular basis, for reps and sets, and all I can do is smile at this fact because I still did it.
It’s funny how we justify our actions, goals, behaviours, habits, in fact our life to ourselves so that we can live with it.
Guys, guess what…
It’s okay because what ever you do, so long as it means something to you, it was totally worth it, honestly.
I know that my disposition is not one everyone likes, yet even being the colossal ass-hat that I am, I will always give credit where it’s due when I can see that what someone achieved truly meant something to them.
Why?
Simple, it’s because it was important to them.
You can see it in their eyes.
You can see it in their soul.
To them this was ‘that thing’, the itch they needed to scratch the part that gave them that which they’d sought for so long, and in it all their self worth was achieved, they now know who they are, what they’re about and for that these people gain my respect.
While I will always be polite to people and supportive of their goals, I don’t respect them all because respect is earned.
Once you do what it is you need to do, you let go of all the other shit that just doesn’t matter and make all of your choices moving forwards with a clear mind, and accept everything that comes from those choices.
No excuses, not justification, no bullshit, just acceptance.
Is there any higher prize than knowing ones self?
I don’t know, maybe there is, maybe there isn’t, either way, who really cares 😊
These days I still love a good squat, however I now know it’s not everything, and like most things it’s just a tool, a part of the journey and that in the end everything you need is already something you have, you just might not be a aware of that yet.
It’s oaky though, once you’re ready for it, whatever ‘it’ is will make itself known to you and once it does, you’ll feel much better, I promise.
Anyway, that’s enough thought for today, now go squat 💪
Enjoy,
Ross

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Reflective Thought

If there is one thing I’ve learned over the years so far it is this; we are all scared of feeling inadequate.

Now this can be socially, physically, intellectually, emotionally, in fact in anything, as such we will make excuses, we cling to our familiarities and resist change with everything we have. 

Most won’t admit it. 

I’m not above this, I too have had those things I’ve held on to for too long, yet being aware of thee things does make you see your own flaws and folly in trying to freeze time. 

Given this is a fitness based group and fitness is very much all I’ve ever done it is easy to see those who the lie to themselves again and again and again to protect themselves.

Those who chase size felt powerless at some point.

Those who carve an aesthetic akin to a greek statue was once not desirable, inadequate you might say. 

Those who were morbidly obese and shamed for it vowed never to be there again. 

Of course not true in all situations, however you’d be surprised how often this is the case, whether people admit it or not. 

One thing to listen for is the emotive words people throw at you when sending a rebuke your way because it is commonly how they see things, and what they attribute to themselves. 

You may disagree, however experience tells me differently on this one.  

This was prompted by something someone said to me recently, the way it was worded got he cogs turning and this was the result, now given how I know them there is a hint of hypocrisy in their view and words, yet they push the past away because of being weak and powerless before, where as I hold on to things, despite saying otherwise. 

We are betrayed by our actions, the reveal more than we want them to, yet they also show us what we need to do if we wish to stay as we are or ascend to something different.

I won’t say it will be better because that might not be true, however it will be different and in that change there is the chance to learn what we need to achieve better, or what we deem to be better. 

Even then, we may spend years chasing something we think we want and like a dog chasing a car, once we get it we have no clue what to do with it. In this it is more the thought of the goal that actually excites people, more so than the actual goal itself or even achieving it. 

Change, or don’t, grow or freeze time, regardless of which, just be content with the choice and also accept you will be judged for it because that is just what we do.

We judge people, however we only tend to judge those we either deem beneath us or so far above us it helps make them more human, it’s rare we judge our own ilk because they are familiar, like refections on a still point, we don’t fear or revile what we recognise, it’s only that which is different we dislike. 

No need for comments or anything of that nature, this was just something floating around in my mind that I felt I’d share. 

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Movies & Mindset

What movies littered your youth?
 
Mine were mostly martial arts flicks, and a classic amount of anime films to supplement a long running series.
 
Each of the characters was lean, powerful, fast and had an indomitable will.
 
I attribute a lot of how I grew to these.
 
This is also one of the major reasons on a personal note I’ve always preferred the leaner look of a fighter as opposed to the bulkier action hero of the 80’s.
 
I had never really given much thought to this.
 
Yet recently I was given cause to sit and reflect, thus these answers were found, answers that I wan’t even really aware I needed to know, yet in discovering them it has helped put some much needed perspective to life again.
 
In every one of these stories there was the classic structure.
 
– Call to action
– Suffer defeat at the hands of the enemy
– Mentor appears
– 80’s training montage
– Death, rebirth, atonement etc
– Returning to challenge the enemy
– Victory
– Lesson learned
– Peaceful times are embraced and enjoyed
– An ominous shadow of something worse is in the distance, so be prepared for a stronger enemy next time
– Set up franchise for sequels and £££££
 
Not the exact heroes journey, however you get the point.
 
Funny thing is you can look at your own life and apply this to it, well not exactly this, more the actual heroes journey.
 
To normal folk we tend to have this happen.
 
– Life is stable
– Struggle appears
– Most fold like a piece of origami
– Live in suffering
 
When struggle appears a lot of us will not want to tackle it head on, it’s easier to push it away, or to simply pretend nothing is happening and bury ones head in the sand.
 
While both are viable options, neither lead anywhere good.
 
There is no worth while lesson without struggle, and there is no struggle without pain, loss and sacrifice (usually of your innocence).
 
Yet once this is weathered and overcome the knowledge and experienced gained makes you much stronger, if you are to embrace it.
 
This was something I learned from all those movies and anime shows over the years.
 
Struggle is real, progress is slow, success is fleeting before another enemy appears and you have to repeat it all over again.
 
That is life.
 
However that is also what makes life worth living.
 
Wouldn’t you agree?
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Do squats hurt your back too?

“Squats hurt my back.”

Incorrect, what you are doing is hurting your back.

Yep, more often than not, less for previous traumatic injury that has dramatically changed your bodies morphology, it’s your form.

Over the years I have spent many a day tweaking peoples form.

Striving to have them understand the correct movement patterns, what muscles are meant to be doing what and generally simian to avoid them snapping themselves up.

A few learned, many didn’t.

Being humans we have this tiny little thing called bias, which usually marries up with cognitive dissonance quite happily and as such people think they know best and only seek the answers they want.

Morons the lot of them.

98% of the time if something hurts during an exercise/movement it is because our form isn’t right.

As much as we’d like some unexplainable cause to protect our ego it’s just the case that our movement patterns are poor.

How can you overcome this?

Simple.

Hire a coach to learn from, alternatively record all of your lifts and give them some honest critique because the chances are you know when your own form looks poor.

There you have it, the next time you feel a movement is causing you issue take a step back and look at how you’re performing it because the chances are it’s not the exercises that is hurting you, it’s what you’re doing that’s hurting you.

Enjoy,
Ross

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Posture, it’s important

Sitting here in this rustic style coffee shop it is clear I’m the odd one out.
 
Not because of being in shorts, a t-shirt or having at least 20% less body fat, oh no, it’s because out of everyone I’m the only person sitting up straight.
 
You know, like we are meant to sit, or at least that’s how anyone over the age of 30 was taught to sit.
 
Everyone around me is slumped over in a stoop.
 
Most with their phones in hand ignoring one another.
 
The modern world really is quite awe inspiring 😥
 
Posture is importnat, we all know this, however I’m not sure if we know all the reasons why. As such I’m sure there are plenty of benefits/reason I’m not aware of, in which case if you know a few then please do share them.
 
When it comes to solid posture, the better the posture the less back issues (especially lower) that people are likely to have.
 
Many also give themselves kyphosis, or lordosis.
 
(classic forwards head posture or Donald Duck posture)
 
Some end up giving themselves kypholordosis.
 
(At this point you just look weird)
 
You’ll also find a strong correlation between sitting poorly and hip niggles, knee pains and other such ailments.
 
One element you may not be aware of though is that sitting with terrible posture can affect your ability to utilise your diaphragm correctly, thus affecting your breathing ability.
 
This means you can end up with a reversed breathing pattern or what is known as apical breathing.
 
Apical breathing isn’t good, it can lead to excessive tension in the upper thoracic, over active upper traps, tight neck muscles, headaches (migraines) and other such things.
 
Those are not the worst thing that happens as a result of this style of breathing, that is linked in wit the nervous system because apical breathing often has people becoming ‘mouth breathers’ predominantly, this is a trigger for our bodies sympathetic side of the nervous system.
 
*A lack of diaphragmatic breathing will also affect core stability and strength, to compensate it shifts the role of helping with stabilisation to your hip flexors and forces them to do something they’re not really meant to be doing.
 
Yep, by having poor posture and poor breathing you’re contributing to the chronic stress that is often complained about by each individual.
 
Along with the riggers of daily life the above can just make it worse, and this is 100% down to us as individuals because we can control our postural habits, for the most part.
 
If you don’t sit (or stand) up straight then addressing these things will start to help sort this problem.
 
– More upper thoracic mobility work
– Breathing practices (nose breathing, helps PS-NS)
– Posterior chain work such as loaded carries
– Actually sitting/standing up straight
 
Real world/gym examples:
 
 
The above seems easy enough, yet if you have people adopt good posture its not comfortable for them, many complain of their back feeling like it will cramp and this is because of their paper thin and ridiculously weak erectors, sorry butter cup you’re going to have to work through that.
 
On a scale on 1 to dear god I look like Mr Burns, where is your posture?
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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What the HIIT?

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” – Inigo Montoya
 
The myth of HIIT.
 
As popular as the coined term is, I can count on one hand the number of people over the last year I’ve personally witnessed actually doing a high intensity interval session.
 
It is a sad truth that many people confuse pushing themselves at a moderate pace with no rest as HIIT.
 
That is not HIIT, it’s more akin to basic endurance work.
 
It is in this knowledge I feel no guilt about telling those who champion this method that they’re not doing what they think.
 
Let us break down the different style of interval training based on the literature and what energy systems it is playing with.
 
Energy Systems & Timings
 
Alactic Anaerobic – (ATP-CP) – 1 to 12 seconds – Immediate
 
Lactic Anaerobic – (Glycolytic – Fast/Slow) – 60 to 120 seconds – Intermediate
 
Aerobic – 120 seconds to potentially hours – Long term
 
WE all have a limited amount of maximal power efforts, typically lasting for a fraction of a second or a few seconds rely entirely on stored ATP.
 
The limitation to continued effort lies in the availability of ATP and our own ability to re-synthesise it during training with insufficient rest, hence why some strength/performance coaches recommend up to 15min rest between these efforts. Fairly logical, however not suitable for the average joe.
 
This being said, that is the price of a high intensity effort.
 
Moving on, if we sustain out effort (as mentioned above) after a few seconds, CP is called upon to replenish the rapidly dwindling ATP as best it can. The CP contribution reaches a peak approximately around about 5-7 seconds (this is where most start to lose significant output capability, they’ve peaked), it is around this point the oxygen-independent glycolysis has already begun to start.
 
If we are to follow this then true HIIT would require people to stop here, rest and aim to repeat this effort, or at least as close to it as possible, alas many keep going because of misguided ‘Insta-Bro/Hoe’ information.
 
Persisting in to a continued effort (while admirable is now hitting a different energy system) maximal force development no longer becomes possible and muscular endurance becomes the dominant component because that’s how the body works.
 
Don’t get me wrong, it is in the next few minutes that a lot of people can attain great benefits from because for most everyday tasks that require effort we rarely ant them to last longer than 2-3minutes. While not quite HIIT, more anaerobic intervals it’s still very useful (most will still call this HIIT by the way).
 
Anyway.
 
Strenuous activity which lasts approximately up to 30 seconds starts the oxygen-independent glycolysis system to rule the roost, however with appropriate rest intervals it help will prevent the build-up of blood lactate allowing for more repeated efforts of this style.
 
If we keep going the more oxygen-independent glycolysis reaches its peak after about 30-40 seconds (in most, this can of course be trained to higher thresholds), and after about 90-120 seconds its contribution becomes minimal as it is replaced by the oxygen-dependent glycolysis.
 
^^ This is the fast/slow glycolysis bit.
 
It is at this point where people confuse HIIT with what they end up doing which is to keep going at a less than ‘high intensity’ pace wth allows the exercise intensity to be kept below the blood lactate threshold or at least allow intra-exercise adequate recovery to be allow allowed, kinda.
 
As such the lactate and protons will be removed (at the same rate as their production for the most part) so that prolonged muscle activity becomes possible.
 
^^ This is where people claim to do HIIT for extended periods of time and while nobel in their idea, it’s no longer what they think it is.
 
Knowing this becomes the reason behind using intervals other than the popular on that trolls social media, such as fartlek, basic interval training, interval circuit training (strength circuits, power circuits, anaerobic circuits etc), which allow for recovery and repeated efforts of muscular work.
 
In doing this you can stay in the glycolysis side of training (up to 120, perhaps 180 seconds of sustained work efforts), which while not technically HIIT, it yields more benefit to the majority of people.
 
The work to rest periods for this would be the classic
 
– 1-1
– 1-2
– 1-3
 
So 3min on 3min off, or 3min on 6min off, etc.
 
^^ In the rest you may do some corrective work or other endeavours so the time is utilised effectively.
 
Many typical gym goers will wither away in fear when seeing this because they have been Indoctrinated in to the realms of –
 
“You must be constantly working! Keep going! Never stop moving! It’s not going to count unless you DIE!!!!!”
 
Which is just silly to be perfectly honest and you can see that it just doesn’t work for the majority of people because they have low levels of overall CV, strength, and poor body composition.
 
Does this mean if you’re one of the above with that mindset that you’ve been wasting your time in your training so far?
 
Potentially yes, yes it does, however that doesn’t mean you can change it now and actually become more productive in your training sessions.
 
Believe it or not you will get more out of doing less better then more worse.
 
Trust me, I’ve been the person who did more and it didn’t do me better in the long run.
 
So, your turn.
 
What style in HIIT training do you do and is it actually HIIT of some hybridisation that is something else entirely?
 
Leave your thoughts below.

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Saitama was on to something

Once upon a time I squatted everyday for a year.
 
Each day I would warm up with multiple sets of low reps and finish on a heavy-ish single with crisp form and good speed, the type of squat varied each day, some days there would be some back of sets (2-3) & reps (2-5).
 
This little gem helped me hit a 3xBW squat.
 
The effectiveness of training daily, or rather daily practice of a movement was indeed something incredibly valuable, yet the hard part was not doing too much, even though it was done everyday.
 
On days that felt strong I might have gone a tad heavier, and on the weaker ones there was simply an easier squat variation used that was less stressful.
 
When people hear this, this question that often follows:
 
“Is it good to train every day, won’t you overtrain?”
 
I get asked things like this a lot and it is fair.
 
My answer is always this:
 
“It’s fine to practice everyday.”
 
Our bodies are meant to do daily activities, however that isn’t training, or at least not the training many consider worth their time.
 
Too many people are fatigue seeking.
 
In doing this they destroy their potential for progress.
 
Over the years we made the mistake of listening to those who claim amore was better, harder was better, unless you’re sore for 27days straight post one training session you didn’t do it right.
 
Utter twaddle-speak.
 
All this is doing is playing up to a mental bias, if you think about this logically for a second you will see the fault in it.
 
Let us look at these two days for example, which do you feel will yield more progress:
 
*Calories are set accordingly, sleep is at 6-8 hours per night.
 
Option A – You train 365 days out of the year (yes, you get some Christmas Day gains too), waving the volume/load each session allowing for heavy/light days (peak/recovery) and the majority of your training if satisfyingly tough (medium days).
 
Option B – You 150 days out of the year because each session you go as hard as you can and require a few days to recover due to being sore/fatigued. Every session you give it your all, you never let up, not even once and go as heavy as you can each session (fatigue defining just how hard that is).
 
Of the two options which do you think will yield more benefit?
 
While both will provide you with progress, one allows you to auto-regulate and flow with the go, the other is power by conventional wisdom and ego meaning you need to do all you can.
 
From experience I can tell you that the overall results in regards to strength, hypertrophy and aesthetics are actually not altho different, honestly it ends up being pretty damn close.
 
So what is the difference?
 
Again from experience I will tell you this, the first option I was never sore, my form go incredibly sharp on all of my lifts due to the consistent practice and life wasn’t affected. The second option was great for saving time however being sore for days and then sometimes to being recovered enough to train properly again made it a grind and not that enjoyable.
 
In essence what I am saying is this; it doesn’t matter what you do so long at you do it with intent.
 
Personally I prefer the daily practice element because it is aimed at being a life long thing.
 
You will also find you can gain more total volume over time and maintain your progress with more ease than if you take the ‘go hard or go home approach’.
 
Which option is more appealing to you and why?
 
Have a think and leave your answer below.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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How to use familiarity to do new things

Did you know?
 
I kinda knew, yet now I’m sure I know, you know too, right?
 
Morning All,
 
These days when it comes to training & nutrition there is very little new information, if we are completely honest with ourselves.
 
After all, there are only so many rep variations, set protocols, nutrition tweaks and all things related fitness that can go around and over they years I know I’ve seen a lot of repetition.
 
This is not a bad thing though.
 
People like familiarity, as such we can use this to help improve our adherence.
 
We can even use this principle of familiarity to make sure we do the things we dislike enough times for them to become habit and thus more familiar, then they’re no longer things we dislike.
 
How?
 
I shall tell you.
 
Using familiarity to our advantage.
 
Let us say you’re a young lady who enjoy cardio, like all the cardio, yet you wish to build a stronger looking physique.
 
This is cool, however in your quest for lean gains/strength as it were, you will need to accept that the cardio has to take a hit, especially if you have a normal job and a life.
 
Step one – add in 2 days of a metabolic conditioning style training session.
 
^^ This involves lifting weights, sprinting etc to achieve both a novel stimulus in CV/Strength. Is it close enough to what we are used to doing – a lot of cardio – that we still get the same feeling post session.
 
Step two – over the course of several weeks, say 16, these session gradually become more lifting bias with perhaps some sort of CF style finisher.
 
^^ The gradual transition means that you slowly become more comfortable with lifting and adding load to the bar, when combined with a little finisher it still hits that cognitive bias and feeling you need post session.
 
Step three – plan out another block of training and have the sessions become almost entirely lifting, or lifting only (some people will always need that finisher, this is cool, just don’t confuse strength & conditioning with conditioning & more conditioning).
 
Hey presto, you are not lifting 2 days per week around perhaps your 2-3 days of classic CV that you enjoy doing because it makes you feel good.
 
The result?
 
Firstly you will have built strength, provided your nutrition was suitable there will be lean mass gain and hopefully fat loss as well, now your weight on the scale may be the same however a body composition change will of occurred.
 
^^ You may have to again use the familiarity trick to help change the mindset surrounding how much your weigh, how you look and how little it matters if you have a good ration of lean mass to fat mass.
 
Make sense?
 
This can be applied to nutrition, work, anything in life really.
 
Here are the three steps again in a much shorter way to help them sink in.
 
Step 1 – Find what is familiar to you (habit)
Step 2 – Make subtle changes to the familiar over time
Step 3 – Repeat ^^ until a new habit/familiarity is formed
 
Simple.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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