Tag Archives: help

An old forgotten post from the drafts – New Year Pitfalls

Morning Guys,

With the new year in full swing there will be some common pitfalls ready to ensnare young hopefuls, to help you understand what they are and how to avoid them to the best of your abilities we will cover the 4 most common.
1 – Too Much Too Soon.
You’ve spent the best part of 2015 living on convenience foods and building forts on the sofa, but 2016 is where that will all change. In the first week of the new year there will be the familiar sight of hoards of newbies hitting the gym EVERYDAY, going hell for leather and literally pushing themselves to the point of feeling sick, just short of collapsing. It’s okay though, it’s meant to be like this, right?
After doing this for a week, maybe two a gym virgin will be utterly ruined. Walking normally will be a distant dream, sitting on the toilet will be like harder than climbing Everest, you get the idea.
Starting down the path of self improvement is great and I fully support those who want to make a change, what you need to remember is that doing too much won’t get you results faster. It will however leave you sore, frustrated and demotivated, all of which can cause a person to quite their endeavor and we don’t want that.
My advice for gym new comers would be to join a couple of classes 2-3 per week will be sufficient to get you progressing, enjoy your workouts and also making some new friends too. If you can afford it hire a trainer/coach as they will be able to teach you a lot of the things you need to know, not to mention correct exercise form.
Don’t rush, take your time and avoid doing too much too soon.
2 – No Patience.
Everyone wants to get results, the biggest issue is the fact that everyone wants their results by yesterday. This is a major problem. Results take time to achieve, occasionally a very long time and this can be frustrating for people.
In the modern world of health/fitness there are some unrealistic expectations of what is achievable, this is largely down to rampant PED (performance enhancing drugs) use and a reluctance to accept that the people many often admire have been training for a great number of years – 10+ in most cases.
Is it possible to lose 30lbs of fat in 12 weeks? Yes, however it would require extreme focus and dedication and sadly a lot of people don’t have that. This means you will be realistically looking at more like 24 weeks to achieve that goal, this for some people is too long to wait.
Results take time, learn some patience and don’t give up when you don’t have abs or are a size 8 after only one week in the gym.
3 – Your Nutrition is Wrong.
A simple subject made complex. Here is the basics of nutrition:
To gain weight – Eat more calories than you burn.
To lose weight – Eat less calories than you burn.
Simple right? So that being the case why do so many people struggle? The answer is obvious really… You are either eating too much or not enough. Seriously, for the majority of people that is the honest truth.
Okay, now for the slightly more interesting part.
Establishing how many calories to eat. There are literally hundreds of formulas/websites on the internet that will give you a rough estimate, with one of the best being the Harris-Benedict formula (I’m not writing this one down as it’s rather long and complicated). If you’re looking for a quick guide way to establish your potential daily calorie needs then use this *equation:
Weight Loss – Weight in Lbs (ideally your LBM-Lean body mass, meaning what portion of you isn’t fat) multiplied by 11-13. So, LBM in Lbs x 11-13 = calories for weight loss.

Weight Gain – LBM in Lbs x 17-19 = Calories for weight (muscle gain).

*Disclaimer – this is a rough guide, if you want a more accurate number hire a trainer/coach to do all of this for you.
The next part from here will be establishing your Macro-nutrient ratios (protein/carbs/fat) Ideally this is based off of your LBM. There are a specific amount of calories in each macro-nutrient:
Protein – 4cals per gram
Carbohydrate – 4cals per gram
Fat – 9 Calories per gram
Grams of Protein = 1xLBM – of you weigh 150lbs of lean mass then you need 150g of protein.
Grams of Carbs = 1xGrams of Protein – 1×150=150g carbs (25-40g of this number should be fiber).
Grams of Fat = Add the calories from protein/carbs together then take it away from your established number of daily calories. What ever number that is divide it by 9 for your grams of fat, for example: 900cals remaining / 9 = 100g fat for the day.
In recent times you will hear people say that your choice of food doesn’t matter. Yep, you read that right. Provided you hit your macros/calories you can eat what ever you want, in theory… Would I personally advise this? No. Personally I would prefer people eat mostly whole foods (meat/veg, basically what is considered adult food, not sweets, cakes and convenience foods) this is for better for overall in health in my experience. True you will find people who throw science/theory at your proving it doesn’t matter but if I’ve learnt one thing it’s that everything works in theory but that’s about it.
The real secret to nutrition is to enjoy what you eat, don’t restrict yourself but don’t gorge either. Aim for the classic 80/20 split of whole foods to indulgence, hit your calories/macros and you will find you don’t go far wrong.
4 – You Don’t Put in Enough Effort (Mentally).
I am not going to sugar coat this fact.
The main pitfall that leads to people giving up is their mind is weak. The difference between fantasy and reality is purely desire, well, most of the time in the things we can control anyway.
Try to remember that you are in charge of your life. You control your actions, no one made you eat that cake, you wanted to eat it. Is that a bad thing? Hell no! If you want some cake then have some, just don’t eat the entire cake and feel guilty or blame someone else for eating it. So what if you were at a child’s birthday party? You didn’t have to eat it, you wanted to eat it. Accept your decisions and move one swiftly from the bad ones.
Everyone has the potential to achieve their goals, what most people lack is the patience, dedication and mental fortitude to keep going when it gets tough. There is no quick fix, the only way to get lasting results is to make a life long change. Remember that.
Have faith in yourself, I know you can do it.

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3 Reasons you need to ask for help this New Year .

As silly as it seems, a lot of people won’t ask and for stupid reasons as well.
It is important to seek out others to support you.
Of course there are more than 3 reasons, however these are the most relevant.
1 – You can’t do it alone
Might seem obvious, yet so many will try and be a one-man band and tackle it all, then they wonder why everything is on mediocre at best.
The whole idea of you being a combination of the 5 people closest to you, its kinda like really true.
Give it some thought.
2 – Skill Gaps
As people we want to think we have all the skills we need, and this is sadly not the case for the majority of us, we need people we respect and trust at our side to fill in our gaps.
Take the PT business for example.
New people to the fray just about know how to train people, just about. In regards to business most have no clue on the following – Marketing, Taxes, Business Planning/Budget Management, the list can do on.
Yet even potentially knowing this they won’t seek out some guidance, often using money as the excuse, yes excuse because that is what you have business loans for to help you get your business up and running by hiring the people you NEED to help you succeed.
Many won’t, how do I know this?
I know more people who failed to stay in the business than actually stayed, and I see more people dropping out every day.
Ask for help, it will be worth it.
If your skill gaps are in say the knowledge of fat loss and that is your goal, then please hire one of the aforementioned PT’s.
3 – Being too scared to ask
This one is the easiest to understand.
People don’t want to seem weak, or like they can’t do something, I get it, it’s painful to admit you can’t do something and it makes you feel bad about yourself, however that is a mindset you’ve learned, you weren’t born with it.
Do you think a child feels bad when it’s learning to walk and keeps falling over?
No, it just keep doing what it needs to, and when it can’t do it alone it gets helps, either form a parent or something close enough to grab on to.
We are taught that asking for help is a bad thing from our earliest days in school.
Think about it, teachers would not give you the answer, they’d want to you find it for yourself, and while this is an incredibly useful skill it planted a seed that this is how we should do everything, and that is just not true.
In the working world if you don’t know something you must ask for help, less you completely balls up a project that could not only cost the company millions, it may also cost you your job.
Yet in knowing this we still fear asking for help.
To some the feel as if asking will put them below other people, they’d be someone to pity, subject to their benefactors benevolence, and whatever else you want to say.
This might be true, however once you’ve gotten the knowledge, or the skills and you know how to move forwards you many not need that specific person every again, however you do need what they know.
They weren’t wrong when they said that knowledge is power, because it is.
Better to ask a question and be thought a fool for a mere moment than stay silent and be branded foolish for life.
Give the above some thought and share your personal reasons below as to why you don’t, won’t ask of help.

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How the early 1900’s can help you in 2018

Are you looking for a new year challenge?

It’s good for Strength, Fat Loss, Hypertrophy, Mental Toughness and much

I have a very simple one for you that you.

20 rep squats.

They’re glorious.

Say you’re training 3x a week, this would be perfect as you can have either 1,2 or 3 20 rep sessions, I’d probably go for 2 initially.

It might look like this:

Day 1 –

A1 – Squat – 1×20
B1 – Press – 25 total reps, rep/set method of your choice
B2 – Pull – 25 total reps, rep/set method of your choice
*C1 – Remedial movement of your choice – 50 rep total

Day 2 –

A1 – Hinge – 5-15 total reps, rep/set method of your choice
B1 – Press – 25 total reps, rep/set method of your choice
B2 – Pull – 25 total reps, rep/set method of your choice
*C1 – Remedial movement of your choice – 50 rep total

Day 3 –

A1 – Squat – 1×20
B1 – Press – 25 total reps, rep/set method of your choice
B2 – Pull – 25 total reps, rep/set method of your choice
*C1 – Remedial movement of your choice – 50 rep total

*Optional postural/remedial exercise if time is a plenty. Perhaps reverse flies, curls, tricep extensions, etc.

Simply marvellous 🤗

It also offers a great method of progression too.

You start at 50% of your current 1RM, so if that is say 120kg, you start at 60kg.

From the starting 50%, add 0.5-1kg every successful session.

When things start to get hard and say you only hit 13/20 reps, you keep the weight the same and focus on building those reps to a solid 20/20.

At this point you could drop the 20rep day to once per week and use one of the following set/rep protocols for the other squat day:

Rep/set protocol examples for the 25 rep goal:

– 5-3-2-5-3-2-5
– 5×5
– 5-5-3-3-2-2
– 3×8
– 8×3
– 5-4-3-2-1-10
– Ramp to heavy 3-5RM (alternate 3-4-5RM each time)

^^ You can imagine this goes a similar way for the 50 rep goal, so 5×10, 3×15 etc

Plenty of choice.

The seconds day also doesn’t need to be a back squat, it could be a front squat, a zecher squat, or any other variation, again this would be cycled, ideal spend 3-6 weeks on each variation before changing it, aiming to add a small amount of weight each session.

Personally I quite like changing the variation as it allows you to drop the overall intensity while keeping up the relative intensity, however that’s a chat for another day.

The same is true for the press/pull/hinge – you can stay with the same variation (bar, dumbbell, trap bar etc) for 3-6 weeks adding anywhere from as little as 0.5kg to as much as a whole 20kg plate each side, although the latter would mean you’re literally a god among mortals.

It might seem like 3 training session per week is not much, however if you follow this and apply the basic progressive overload as described above, you’ll find you can stay on this almost indefinitely.

If needed you could also do this program only twice per week, meaning you drop day 3. Very useful if you also have other goals, such as sports or martial arts.

I wish you all the gains for the new year.


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I bet you’re stuck, aren’t you

Do you suck at achieving the following:
Fat loss
Lean muscle gain
It’s okay, you’re not alone, we’ve all been there, some for years in fact.
If you search the internet you’ll find literally thousands of legitimate programs that if followed for an extended period of time would provide you with the results you desire.
However there’s a problem
You’re impatient
That’s what you struggle
You will often find that sustainability or rather consistency is the hardest part of a lot of truing programs, especially when people always want to be entertained and while you can make tweaks and even have different training sessions each time, they need to adhere to the basic principles of training.
– Specificity
– Progressive Overload
– Fatigue Management
Too many focus on the ‘individual difference’ side of things and as a result never get anywhere.
While it is true that people are not the same, you’ll find that a simple program of basic compound movements, sprints and whole foods won’t do many people any injustice.
If you take the time to read any of my posts (which I appreciate by the way), you’ll notice they all follow a very simple formula and that is for the simple reason that is works, every time.
The only issue is people wrongly assume they’re more advanced than they are, thus leading them to frustration.
Not to mention they also don’t train for their own reasons or goals, they go on goals they see other people working towards or goals they’ve been told to work towards.
Depending on YOUR goal there could be a number of programs that you may be given to follow that will help you achieve it, you may find there will be some monotony in the repetition, however it will probably work if you stick with it.
That said…
You can have a program that rotates and changes certain elements so long as they are not too far removed, kinda the same but different.
For example:
Back Squats to Front Squats to Split Squats and finally back to Back Squats once again.
In this cycle of movement the total reps/loads may change, al while still adhering to progressive overload.
This is where you need a good trainer to help you get this programmed correctly.
It’s also worth remembering that there is no inherent need for you have have an impressive physique, its not a mandatory things by any means, if you’re happy with how you look then more power to you.
Take a look at your current training and your results you’ve achieved, are you happy with them? Do you want more or are you content with the place you’re at?
Give it some thought.
You’ve no need to do more or change, however if you want to then just ask for help and you’ll receive it.

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5-3-2 or 3-2-1 or maybe 1-1-1

What do they mean would be the best question to ask first of all.

These numbers are in reference to the frequency of training a muscle group, or if you are less about the aesthetic and more about performance it will be in reference to movement patterns.

So 3-2-1 is ideal for beginners and people who are short on time yet still want to make a decent amount of progress in terms of strength, hypertrophy, performance and fat loss.

For example:

Squat 3 days per week
Press 2 days per week
Deadlift 1 day per week

I’d also add in pulling (elbow flexion) and hip extension movements (rows, pull ups, face pulls, reverse fly, swings, rope pull throughs etc) to the three day group as these patterns are often left out.

Press vertically and horizontally both days, this would also encompass all elbow extension exercises – skull crushers etc.

The reason many will do well deadlifting once per week as they can often lift more weight in this lift and as such will cause more metabolic disturbance.

Taking in to consideration what is above you can guess where 5-3-2 is going.

Yep, more frequency for people with more experience who fall in the intermediate level and need more exposure to the movements.

Depending on goal you may find you squat 3 or 5 times per week, the sam gif true for pressing/pulling it might be 3 or 5 days, you can adjust this as you need to.


Press/Pull 5 days per week
Squat 3 days per week
Deadlift 2 days per week

Over the years it has been shown that more often than not the more frequently you train something (the more exposure it has to training stimuli) the stronger it is and the more developed the muscle/area/movement looks.

Now these guidelines aren’t gospel, they’re just a guide to give people some direction.

What is 1-1-1 then?

Yep, you’ve probably worked it out.

You may even find that you’re one of the luck ones who can train things once per week and make progress, if that is the case then stick with what works because there is no sense in fixing what isn’t broken. If this is you, just make sure each session you give it your all for maximal progress, due to the low frequency you will need to hammer the muscle to hit your required volume/intensity/work capacity needs.

In terms of my own training I will tell you that higher frequency has very much helped me gain high levels of strength relative to my size (what is needed for the combative sports is partake in), however when I dropped my frequency – it was still a minimum of twice per week per muscle group – I made more hypertrophic progress, this was due to not only a different style of training but also eating in a caloric surplus*.

*You need to be in a calorie surplus to gain weight, you’ll struggle if you’re not in one, regardless of set or rep range. If you want to shift fat you can train int he same way you will just need a caloric deficit, fact.

Take a look at your training and compete the frequency of your lifts to what body parts you have developed the most, you’ll probably find the ones you train the most are the best, or as some might say “Those are you naturally strong areas” – well duh, you train them more, they’re going to be stronger than the ones you avoid.

Training is all about learning, applying and adapting until you find what work best for YOU.

Let’s get started.


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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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Technique Talk.

Morning Guys,

I would like you to share three tips for improving two lifts that you often see being done incorrectly.

The lifts are as follows:

– Curls (Dumbbell, Barbell etc)
– Pull Ups

Interesting choices of exercises, right. I have given advice and critique on squats, deadlifts and various other large compound movements over they years but there are plenty more that catch my attention and the two above are almost always done poorly.

*Record all your form and you will see what you’re doing wrong, you can also feel free to post it in here for feedback. Don’t be afraid of critique, your ego might get bruised but at least you won’t end up on a GymFails video on youtube.

Here are my tips for these lifts.

Corrections for Curling:

1 – Utilise 80 degree seated curls to help reduce unwanted momentum on dumbbell curls. Keep your body tight and focus on smooth controlled reps with no swinging, tempting as it might be. You can stand against the edge of a wall for barbell curls to help reduce momentum, just make sure your back stays against the wall and your hips don’t creep forwards.

2 – TEMPO TEMPO TEMPO! A decent PT I know used to say “Go slow to grow” to his clients so that they would have a focus on increasing TUT (time under tension) and for isolation movements such as curls I couldn’t agree more. Try using a 6-0-3-0 tempo and just watch how your form improves.

3 – Lighten the load and CONTRACT the target muscle with everything you have, too many people go far heavier than they should on this particular exercise and as a result use momentum and forget to contract the target muscle. Don’t be one of them.

Bonus – Use fat grips or thick bars to get some extra arm gains.
Pull Up Priorities:

1 – Full ROM every rep. This means you start from a dead hang (arms straight) then you pull your chin up and over the bar (ideally try and get your chest to the bar if possible), that’s one rep. A lot of people do half reps and cut short their ROM and the top or bottom end of the exercise, don’t be one of them. If you can only do 2 strict reps in a row that’s okay, just do multiple sets of two.

2 – Stop kipping/flailing, you’re not a salmon. This style of pull up has become popular over the years but unless you’re competing in an activity that allows them then they’re best left out of your training. Avoid this by pausing at both the top and bottom of the pull/chin up (1-2 seconds at each point). It’s also worth keeping your abs braced (as if you’re about to be punched) and pinching your glutes hard, this will also help reduce momentum.

3 – Avoid too much protraction at the top. Yep, it can happen, usually because the person doing the movement hasn’t activated their back correctly and retracted their scapula at the start of the movement, you see it in seated rows as well, the person impressively/unfortunately is rounding forwards in a pulling movement. Rectify this by practicing dead hangs and pulling your scapula back and down – https://www.exercise.com/exerci…/hanging-scapular-retraction – incase you’re not sure what I mean.

Bonus – Improve your pull ups by following Pavel’s GTG – https://docs.google.com/…/1oIB-V4m26GwYkbyw_tSKsQlbxs…/edit…

I know there are plenty more teaching points that can be said for Pull Ups/Curls but those three are the most common I give.


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One Way to Sure Success

Success is something that everyone wants in some way. Whether that success is in the form of admiration, respect, more muscle, a faster 10k time or even just to gain more self confidence, success is success and everyone deserves it.
I often get asked by people about how to succeed or what the best way to success is and over the years I have found that this missing element is often what hold people back and causes them to lose their way.
Some of you will like this answer, others won’t, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the most important factors in getting to the goal you desire.
Here is it:
Ask for help when you need it and accept responsibility for for the effort you put in.
Okay, that’s two things but both equally important.
Asking for help will give you the opportunity to avoid the pitfalls that other people have fallen in to. Accepting responsibility for the effort you put in will hold you accountable, if you give anything less than YOUR 100% then my friends you will struggle every step of the way.
Take heed in these words because they come from experience. I have made more mistakes than I care to admit, some have cost nothing and others came with a price tag far above what I wanted to pay but that’s life. Learn from those around you and don’t be afraid to ask for help, it doesn’t take anything away from your success, after all, it doesn’t matter what route you take to the top of the mountain when in the end the view will always be the same.

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The Dark Side of Fitness…

This post is not intended to scare or discourage anyone, it is here to educate to the hidden nasties of fitness that no one talks about.

Sadly it’s not all sunshine and rainbows as Social Media would have you believe.

Here is typically why people start their fitness journey:

– Feel Happier
– Boost Self-Confidence/Esteem
– Feel More Attractive (both to themselves & the opposite sex)
– Look Great Naked

Now, taking these reasons in to consideration and also my experience working with clients of all ages, these are only ever achieved for a short period of time and in actual fact people end up feeling the following:

– Depressed
– Not Good Enough/Unworthy
– Frustrated
– Paranoid of Regressing (Fear of Regression)

There is an immense pressure in our modern culture and the once nobel act of trying to get fitter can lead people to some very dark places and cause these problems:

– Eating Disorders
– Obsessive Behaviours
– Reclusive Behaviour
– Mental Health Issues
– Hormonal Issues

Now those are potential problems that people don’t tell you about that yo really should know. It pains me to say that I have seem all of these and more besiege people and it’s not nice to watch because no matter the help offered only they can break out of that place and find a balance/happiness again. Social Media doesn’t help matters, the fact that ‘natural’ fit-pros sell products left right and centre, train seemingly everyday and live a perfect life problem free is incredibly misleading. Remember Social Media will only ever show you the good, never the whole truth.

As I said above, this is not meant to scare you or deter you from fitness, it’s here to educate you. There are plenty of ways you can train and progress without coming in to these problems and most of them stem from the thought process of “Do what you need to do to progress, not more.”. Here are some quick tips to help you stay the course and be safe:

– Take Your Time
– Have Holidays
– Enjoy Training
– Hire a Coach
– Admire, Never Aspire (you’re you, you’re not someone else, don’t try and be anyone else because you’re you, not them)

If you want a good place to start your fitness journey here are two great places for both guys and girls (ladies you need to lift, men you need to do cardio. lift weights 3xper week and do moderate CV twice per week and you’ll make great progress):

– Reg Parks 5×5 Routine*
– Pavels Power to the People*

*CV – Learn about energy systems and how the body works, that way you can create a CV workout that suits you: http://www.teachpe.com/anatomy/aerobic_respiration.php

Enjoy your training and remember that staying happy is the number one priority.


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