Tag Archives: achievement


Having measurable data is a great way to assess your progress, so why don’t you have any?
Fitness testing, body measurements, lifting records are all great ways to see how you are improving and also what you may need to be doing in order to continue to make headway if it is starting to slow down.
There are a lot of people who claim they never need to record things, they just remember it all and while they may indeed remember the highlights it’s very hard to keep everything in your head.
Typically once we get past a certain point we might as well be exposed to white noise.
According to a lot of research in to the field of memory, the average person can retain 7 pieces, plus or minus 2, given you a top limit of 9 and a lower one of 5; obviously there will be exceptions that can remember more just as there will be people who remember far less, it’s just a part of being on the bellcurve.
Writing things down and recording the specifics will take the pressure ands stress away from you having to remember each detail. Don’t get me wrong, having good ball park memory is great, however that won’t help you highlight weak areas that need work, specifically.
Personally I’m a big fan of making notes and writing things down, not matter who big or small it is, there’s a record. This little habit has saved many a hassle when it comes to wiring future goals for myself or clients, not to mention it give an honest overview of how everything has proceeded, no hiding behind white lies to protect the ego.
This is nothing more than simper advice for you, there’s no need for you to take it, honestly, there isn’t.
Before we finish I just want to ask you two questions;
1 – What sets and reps were you hitting on this day 3 years ago and how do they compete to now?
2 – What was your VO2 Max on the date of 22-6-13 and how has it improved?
I’m sure you can answer those from memory 🙂 for me.

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Short on time? Better back off.

The introduction and more frequent use of ‘back off sets’ has become quite popular of late.

You’ll find you can use them to determine suitable loading for your next session, increase total TUT and even help you maintain your progress if you find your gym training time has been chopped down due to life getting in the way.

In the past this has happened several times and as such a way and to be found to get in some quality work, here is an option for you, it will take anywhere from 20-30min tops, try not to spend longer than 30min (especially if your time is limited), just focus on hard work.

This protocol will:

– Provide suitable mechanical tension for strength
– Generate metabolic stress for adaptation
– Create muscle damage for new growth

All you need to do is follow the guidelines and put in all your effort, eat the calories required for your goal (I’ve written about this previously), sleep and stay focused.

Let’s get down o the details.

– Use compound movements (Squat, DL, Press, Chin, Row, etc)

– 1 or 2 per workout (A1/A2 pairing)

– Ramp up your weights each set, start off with 5’s and work to one heavy set, then add a little more weight for a 3, then finally a little more for 1 single. The triple/single aren’t all out efforts, only the 5, they’re just for extra neural stimulation.

– Take 70% of the top 5 and perform 1 back off set of 10-20 reps unbroken

– Rest is minimal between sets, go as soon as you feel ready

– 3 sessions per week is a good minimum to cover the full body

You will be in and out in no time at all.

This short style of workout will allow heavy enough loads to trigger a host of positive things and the back of set will further potentiate this.

If you find you’re doing all of this in 20min then use the extra 10 for some accessory movements (arms, calves etc).

The protocol above is nothing fancy, it’s devised to get maximum results out of minimum time and as such leaves no room for dilly-dallying.


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The fast metabolism fiasco

“It’s okay for them, they can eat what they want, they have a fast metabolism.”
^^ I hear this a lot.
Is this something you’ve said in the past, along with the classic – “I’ve got a slow metabolism, I gain weight instantly if I eat.”
Do you know how these people with this seemingly godlike metabolism do it?
Do you want to know?
I will tell you.
Their metabolism is not that far off from yours, the only difference is how they live their lives, which usually look like this:
– They eat at or just below their required maintenance calories (you don’t)
– They move more and thus have a higher energy expenditure, typically from CV training and/or weightlifting which helps create EPOC/In road, (you don’t)
– They have more lean muscle mass (you don’t)
Can you see a pattern forming here?
The whole fast/slow metabolism excuse is utter nonsense for most average people. It’s usually a simple case that their energy expenditure is lower than their energy intake.
Wait, what’s that I hear?
You have thyroid problems?
So do a lot of other people and guess what, if it is managed by the doctor then you don’t have a thyroid problem, you have an eating problem as in you eat too much.
Now is it true there will always be some people who are the exceptions and because of this the world and it’s dog jump on that and claim to be the exception, I can safely say from experience this is not the case, trust me on that.
Ironically the exceptions never use being the exception as an excuse, they just find a way to make things work and achieve their goals. It’s only the average who use the exception excuse.
So to summarise…
They don’t have a fast metabolism.
You don’t have a slow metabolism.
They eat less, move more and have higher amount of lean mass than you, it’s that simple.
Stop making excuses and start looking for ways in which YOU can make the changes you need, if you need help please ask and you will get it.

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Train to gain

It seems that hitting momentary mechanical failure is equally if not more important tan the load you lift.
^^ A good study looking at 3x Fail x30% VS 3x Fail x80%.
In short, the act of hitting failure provide adequate stimulus to trigger muscle growth.
The growth was essentially the same in both groups, however the group that used a heavier weight got stronger as well (pretty logical).
So what does this mean for your training?
You can look at it one of two ways:
1 – Cycle your loads between 30-80% 1RM and perform 3 sets per muscle group to muscle failure each set (after a couple of warm up sets, obviously).
2 – You can take this data and combine to s strength program to add some extra oomph, so perhaps performing working sets at a standard weight, say 5x5x80% (leaving reps in the take and focusing on strength), followed by a back off set of the same weight or between the 30-80% mark for AMRAP to hit failure, triggering more growth stimulus.
Both options are viable, both will improve strength and size.
Another nice option is this:
W/U – 10-15 reps
Set 1 – 10 reps – tough
Set 2 – 8 reps – tougher
Set 3 – 6-8 reps – hardest set
Set 4 – reps to failure with previous load or reduce load by 20%
If you ever see someone who has any decent amount of size you’ll notice they’ve often blended training to failure with stopping just short, try it yourself and see how you do.

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How doing less helped me progress.

Yesterday we touched on who doing too much can hold people back, today we shall look at how the opposite can help you being to once again make headway.
MED, remember that?
Minimum effective dose.
Find what the bare minimum you can do and make progress form and do that until you no longer make progress, then perhaps add the next smallest amount and progress once again.
A simple thought that still adheres to the GAS/SAID principle.
It will allow you more time to recover, spend time doing other things you enjoy and for the average person, give you results while also having a life.
Sounds perfect, right?
That being the case, why don’t people do it?
Because as we discussed yesterday, too many think more is better and even more than that must mean even better still, not always true, sadly.
You will also find that when you take down how much you’ve been doing, you recover and allow the super-compensation element of GAS to happen, meaning gains.
Keeping in mind MED, how many times per week do you need to train to make progress?
Twice, that’s a great start.
Both sessions would follow a full body approach with limited moves that will give you the best bang for your buck.
Day 1 – Monday
A1 – Front Squat or Squat 10×5
A2 – DB Row 10×6
B1 – Press 8×6
B2 – Chin 8×6
C1 – Dip 50 reps in as few sets as possible
D1 – Loaded Carry 10min x Total Distance (famers walk, etc)
Day 2 – Thursday
A1 – Deficit Deadlift (any grip) 10×5
A2 – DB Press 10×6-8
B1 – Bench Press or Incline 6×6-8
B2 – BB Row 6×6-8
C1 – Curl 50 rep goal in as few sets as possible
D1 – Prowler or Sprints 10min x total Distance
Combine this with solid nutrition (plenty of whole foods and a calorie deficit or surplus depending on your goal) and three simple factors to progress and you’ll be laughing at the gains you make.
How to progress:
– Add weight where possible (fractional plates are good)
– If you can’t add weight, reduce rest
– Rest at it’s lowest, increase TUT (time under tension) with a slower negative portion of the lift
In each session aim to keep a good pace and finish within 45-75min, you’ll find the less you faff the better the workout you get.
Obviously over time you will potentially need to add more frequency taking training to 3 days per week, but the longer you can progress on 2 the better.
Funnily enough you will find that most elite lifters seem to find 4xP/W is their optimal limit because in each session they train HARD and create a deep ‘in road’ meaning they’ve stimulated growth, you need to do this too.
Remember, doing less can help your progress.

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What people don’t tell you.

Do you want to know what they don’t tell you about those 12 week transformations you see?
The person involved usually tried several times before to achieve the results they now have but they were missing a few vital things:
– Consistency
– Adherence in everything they were told to do
– A coach/trainer
– Knowledge of their previous failures
The last one is probably one of the more interesting points because people who often succeed the most are the ones who actually learnt from their failures and accepted them being their fault (9/10 times that is, there will always be exceptions yet most of the time it’s always on us when we fail).
Have you ever heard of the 5 stages of grief?
– Denial
– Anger
– Bargaining
– Depression
– Acceptance
Do you know that people actually go through this sequence for a great many things. Take a fitness transformation for example:
– They deny they could have ever achieved it
– They get angry because of what got in the way: work, partners etc
– They start to make deals with themselves such as “When I get XYZ done I will do this for me.” and they don’t follow them through
– They sadly fall in to their old habits and potentially seek solace in food or alcohol
– Eventually they accept they just gave up and carry on with life… or at least that’s what we hope.
From experience people get stuck in the depression part of the cycle and occasionally fall back to the first stage and keep repeating 1 through 4, this is not nice to see but it does happen, sadly.
Take a second and ask yourself honestly, has this been/ever been or is this you?
If the above question rings true, don’t worry about it. Many of us have been there, even the people you admire/aspire to be like have been there. The only difference is being honest with yourself and accepting past failures and WHY they happened (chances are it was our own fault 98% of the time), that way you can let it go and seek the help you need.
I know you can achieve your goal but before you start making a change to your body you should make the change mentally first.

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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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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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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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