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Level Up

What level of training are you currently at?
 
Beginner
Intermediate
Advanced
 
Or more importantly, which one do you see your self falling in to because there are a lot who try to take on routines that are above their capability to sustain and recover from.
 
We’ve all been guilty of trying to punch above out weight at some point and while it can be sustained for a brief period it’s never too long before the wheels fall off the wagon and things start to go wrong.
 
Here are some common mistakes encountered:
 
– A large increase in volume
– Higher levels of intensity
– More frequency
– Inappropriate specificity
– Variable training density progression
 
The thought process of the many is that ‘more is better’ when in fact it’s just more, better is better and that usually means progression and individual specificity.
 
When it comes to establishing what level of training you’re actually at that is where things get a little tricky because it will depend on what you’re training for.
 
Most of the time it’s said that anyone who’s trained less than 2 years is a beginner, 3-5 is an intermediate and more than this is advanced, however I feel that is a very flawed approach because unless progression has been achieved in each year then you could get someone who has been ‘training’ for 10 years and still fall in to the realms of a beginner.
 
To determine where you sit you’ll want to look at these elements:
 
– Strength levels in compound movements
– VO2 Max
– Skills
– Progress achieved
 
You might be advanced in some, beginner in others, it happens. The ones you want to access unwell be those that are specifically suited to helping you achieve your goal.
 
Let’s take bodybuilding as the example and see what makes and advanced practitioner.
 
Have you achieved the following:
 
– A notable increase in lean body mass (20+ lbs from starting)
– Visible abs and residual muscle definition all year round
– Aesthetic change to your body
– High level of muscular control (feeling each of the muscles working when training them)
– Optimally proportioned symmetry, no chicken legs.
– Basically you look jacked an tan
 
If you’ve got all of those then the chances are you’re someone who would be considered advanced, at the very least a high level intermediate.
 
The style of training that would come along with this may fall in to the realms of high volume, moderate intensity with a body training split for higher frequency. Then you’d have the nutrition which would allow full recovery and progress.
 
If a beginner tried to jump on this they’d fail to make progress simply because it would be to much for their underdeveloped body to take on.
 
Make sense?
 
Take a look at your training and honestly assess your ability because you might be doing a routine that is simply too advanced for you and that’s why you’re struggling to make progress.
 
I say this because I’ve been there, don’t make that same mistake.
 
Earn your stripes, have a coach who will help you level up and don’t be in a rush to become advanced just to please your ego.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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The Importance of Sport & Staying Strong

You need to read this post because it’s full of useful info you’ll not know if you don’t.
 
Direct?
 
Yes, however highly relevant to making progress.
 
“Chase performance, not fatigue.”
 
A saying to live by, especially in these modern days where training for aesthetic is number 1.
 
While training to look good isn’t a bad thing, it’s by no means a useful one. I know plenty of people who look great but can’t do the following:
 
– Run a mile without stopping
– Pick up and put their bodyweight over head
– Squat correctly
– Have any form of athleticism
 
The list goes on but we shall stop there.
 
If you’re content with looking good but having no phial prowess then more power to you, if however you want to look as strong as you are then keep reading to learn two secrets.
 
Still reading?
 
Great, here is your reward.
 
Secret 1 –
 
Play a sport.
 
Yep, it’s that simple and you’ll find it also adds some enjoyment to your training int he gym because you’ll start to have a focus towards developing aspects of performance such as speed, strength and stability to improve your new hobby.
 
A sport will also provide you with a new social circle of likeminded people who want to better themselves, you’ll also make new friends and more importantly, new rivals to keep you on your toes.
 
Being the best is boring, always chase someone better and you’ll stay hungry for progress.
 
Secret 2 –
 
Train for strength because it’s the base of the pyramid and without strength you’ll struggle to do anything else.
 
The classic 5×5 is still popular for the simple reason of it makes people strong and it’s so simple to do. You also find that 8×3 is popular among people who train for strength, as is hitting 20 rep squat sets.
 
As a human you want to be as strong as you need. Might sounds silly but plenty of people are too weak these days and struggle to do even basic daily lifting tasks on their own, simply due to our modern life and being lazy.
 
This goes for ladies and gentlemen, both should be strong because strength is for everyone.
 
You can take this information and do wit hit what you will, apply it and start to make progress or ignore it and stay as you are, either are fine it’s your life, I just want you to have the best one possible.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Stop blaming others for YOUR shortcomings.

We live in a world where shifting the blame is common place, no one wants to take responsibility for anything, least of all their own health.
 
“Fast food companies & sugary drinks are to blame.”
 
“Saturated fats are to blame.”
 
“Carbs are to blame.”
 
No, you’re to blame.
 
Not companies, not individual foods, not work stress, no your kids, YOU.
 
The problem is you and your choices.
 
If we look at things logically we can discern why people crave certain foods from a deficiencies standpoint, we can even see the seeking of sugary to increase serotonin levels and other such things, however the way we deal with our needs is down to no one but ourselves.
 
People are gluttonous, greedy and selfish when it comes to doing what they want and when the guilt sets in they find excuses rather than dealing with any potential negative mental associates/coping mechanisms they’ve created.
 
It needs to stop.
 
The great many need to understand that when all is said and done the buck stops with them. They hold all the control of their own choices, no one can really force them to make one, not really.
 
Look at nutrition, it’s all on you.
 
Reflection is something everyone should practice because taking the time to sit and look back over ourselves and our choices can provide clarity, if we let it, or we could bury our heads in the sand, your choice.
 
Give it some thought.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Skills Skills Skills

Life is all about acquiring skills.

Think about it.

As kids we learn to crawl, then walk, then run an jump an play which finally lead in to minor sports and activities, however the best part about all that is the sense of achievement, wether you’re aware of it or not.

We like learning new things and more importantly being good at them, training should be no different.

That being said, there are plenty of exercises that people will avoid like the plague not because of a legitimate excuse but for the fact that they’re not good at the moment and it brings their ego down a peg of three.

If we take squatting for example.

A squat is something everyone assumes they can do, nay, they expect they can do, so when someone tries and struggles or perhaps fails to execute it with any good form they get disheartened and start to avoid the movement, usually opting for leg press or machine work.

Squatting is a skill, much the same as pressing, deadlifting, running, jumping, throwing and so on. The only difference is how quickly a person can learn that skill (major injury or medical reasons aside), some take longer than others but that doesn’t mean you should give up on it.

Something I’ve noticed in other people as I’ve gotten older is just how lacking in resilience they are. If something doesn’t happen instantly or go their way from the start they get pissy, make excuses and give up, bot a good trait to have.

Have I ever had the above attitude?

Yep, more times than I’d like to admit, however there’s no sense in lying about it so I might as well learn from it instead.

The main lesson I took away was this; thing take time, some more than others but everything comes with a cost of your time. You just have to pay it, if you really want to achieve anything that is.

I understand how frustrating it can be when things don’t go your way, oh and before you start thinking “I don’t agree with that.” stop, it’s human nature to get the hump when we don’t get what we want, just accept it, no one is here to judge you and if they are then let them, it literally has no effect on your life unless YOU allow it to.

Will you do something for me? Or more aptly put, will you do something for yourself.

Write down 3 skills you want to achieve.

Next, look at each skill and write down what you need to be doing to acquire that skill and HOW you’re going to achieve it.

Lastly, start working towards them.

Don’t give up, almost everything can be learnt/achieved if given enough time, you just have to want it bad enough.

Enjoy,
Ross

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You’re allow to be unmotivated

How often do you feel unmotivated to train?
 
Every now and again or is it something of a regular occurrence that rears it’s head all too often?
 
It’s okay you know, to feel unmotivated and not want to train.
 
It’s not uncommon for people to get bogged down when it comes to training because progress is often very slow and worst of all is hardly noticeable until a large amount has been accumulated over time.
 
Surely you’ve seen those people who suddenly make a massive amount of progress seemingly over night, frustrating, isn’t it.
 
Well let’s make something clear, their progress hasn’t happened over night, it’s happened over many many nights and days and through various choices they’ve made for the better, all so they can get one step closer to achieving a goal and making more progress.
 
A lot of people are quick to bitch and moan that everyone else has it easier than they do, when the reality is that the ones who make and have made progress usually put in more time, effort and investment than their jealous counterparts.
 
We all wish that making a change came quickly however it doesn’t, not anything meaningful anyway.
 
Here is a simple example of a way to make progress lifting:
 
Start off with a compound lift at 8x2x80% 1RM, workout 2 times per week per week, add 1 rep each session until you’re doing 8×3, then add a small amount of weight, 1-2kg and repeat.
 
Sound laborious?
 
It is, but do you know what else it is?
 
Effective.
 
Over time you’d find your strength would increase, as would you total muscle mass, yet it would happen at such gradual pace people would discount it.
 
The same is true for nutrition, if you start by eating a little less, your weight will will start to slowly decline, eventually you’d need another calorie drop and once again your weight would slowly go down – a combination of lifting weights and cardio work great with a calorie deficit for changing who your body looks. Who knew right?
 
In the end you’ll find most people lose motivation at some point or another, however the difference between the ones who succeed and those who don’t is clear.
 
Those who succeed do what they need to do whether they feel like it or not.
 
Are you one of those people or not?
 
No one else can get your results for you, it’s 100% on you.
 
Time to choose.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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That weak body part

Do you have stubborn body parts that won’t grow?

Here is how to change that.

It’s not uncommon for people to have a weak body part that doesn’t want to grow.

You’ll often find people come up with all sorts of excuses as to why it won’t grow, even though they claim to train it as hard as their favoured muscle groups.

Well, let me tell you a little secret.

You ready for it?

You’re not training you weak body part hard enough or frequently enough. If you were it would grow, simple.

Let’s take mens calves for example because plenty of men are #TeamNoCalves these days.

Why can’t they get the to grow?

Overload and the necessary stimulus are not being provided, that is fact because that’s how our body works. It responds to the stress we pace it under, if something isn’t growing it means we’re not putting it under enough adaptive stress, period.

Now it is true the mind muscle connection (feeling the muscle work) will be a great help, this does take time to establish, but not that much time.

If you have a weak body part you’d do well to do the follow:

– Train it 3-5xPW (depending on what it is)
– Track the volume you’re lifting
– Push it to the point of failure, the repeat until no longer small

Everyone has weak body parts typically for the reason that they are not trained because they dent ones ego, put that aside and focus on building a balanced and strong body.

These are the most common weak parts you probably need to train:

– Rear Delts
– Calves
– Legs in general

Weak point no more!

Enjoy,
Ross

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How trying to do it all kept me small.

There is a reason they say that that less is more.

It might seem counterintuitive in the fitness industry, especially given that to make progress you need to provide your body with a stimulus that forces adaptation and then to keep progressing the stimuli needs to continue too increase.

So that law in itself means you must always do more, right?

From a basic standpoint, yes, but from a longevity and realistic progression one, no.

Have you heard of MED – minimum effective dose – it means doing the least amount you need to ensure progression.

A lot of people tend to opt for the other option known as MRV – maximal recoverable volume – both are similar, yet hammering yourself with the most you can recover from and doing what you need to do to trigger growth/adaptation don’t always go hand in hand, even though they should.

This is because of what we end up doing, which is usually too much because we come from a world where more is considered better, when it’s usually just more.

The fact is is a great many people did what they should and in fact needed to be doing they’d progress faster and have better results, that’s a fact.

Over the years I personally have tried to do too much and as a result spent a long time not really progressing the way I’d hoped. A lack of sufficient recovery lead to sessions being less intense than they should have been, I’m sure you’re guilty of this as well.

Take for example a set of 5, you should be using around 80% of your 1RM for this, I bet you don’t because 80% is a hefty lump and it’s hard, you don’t like working hard, do you….

If you ever look at a typical gym bro (natural or not), they grow, not because they have a special gym routine but because they train as hard as they should each session and force the body to adapt. Well, at least their upper body anyway, legs tend to be forgotten.

Most will train as follows:

– Chest
– Back
– Legs (skipped)
– Shoulders
– Arms/abs
– Off
– Off

So 4x upper body session per week, these end up as a pushing/pulling format as triceps usually get hit with chest/shoulders and biceps are done on back day and then again on arm day.

Each session will they will give it their all. I can vouch for this 100% because I’ve seen it in person and for all their faults of skipping legs and big compound lifts that are hard and make them look weak because they don’t train them (ego is a fragile thing), what they do train, they train with intensity and a sense of purpose so fierce it’s frightening.

A limiting factor for many is time, so the time they have they use well, going to the point that many won’t, thats the secret to their success.

The better ones usually have good form as well.

The successful ones do what they need to do, not more. It’s the ones who try to do too much that don’t progress because they think more is better and it’s not, it’s just more.

What can you learn from the basic gym bro?

– Lift to the point just short of failure (keeping a couple of reps in the bag before form goes)
– Lift as heavy as weight as your body will allow with good form
– Intensity, Intensity, Intensity
– Rest is important
– Be willing to go in to places mentally that others won’t, you’ll need strength when things get tough

When it comes to my personal results, the best ones came after injury (major knee damage), training wen’t down to 2xpw at the start, then up to three days and I had no choice but to make each one count.

The added rest allowed me to push hard in each session, something I’d not been able to do previously when training more because I was simply faffing about for lack of a better term.

How can you apply this to your training?

– Limit training days 3xper week for example
– Limit training session light 45-115min
– Limit exercises to 3-5 movements
– Limit sets to 3-6
– Set rep goals (25, 50, 100 etc)
– Push sets to the limit

Remember you can do it all, train like you only have some much time and you’ll find you work harder and progress faster because you’re doing what you need to be doing to maximise your session.

Just because it’s less, don’t think it’s easier.

Enjoy,
Ross

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Spot reducing fat

Fat storage, such an annoying thing.
 
However there is something that is even worse, thinking you can spot reduce it.
 
You can’t, that’s not how fat loss works.
 
It’s very common for people to complain about unsightly/excessive fat in certain areas of the body.
 
The most common being in the following areas:
– Stomach
– Hips
– Thighs
– Arms
 
If you ask someone who has less than a clue you will get a potential answer that sounds like this:
 
“Tricep work will help reduce that, try some kick backs to help tone and shift the fat.”
 
Or
 
“You need to do crunches, side bends and leg raises to get a flat stomach.”
 
No, just no. In fact all the no. If someone tells you this they’re an idiot put simply.
 
Sadly we can’t spot reduce fat with exercise, the only thing that can remove fat for a specific place is liposuction.
 
It is common for people to say they are happy with certain body parts and only want to focus on others, which is a very misguided way of thinking because the body works best as an entire unit and you’d also look silly with muscle in one part of your body but nowhere else.
 
Always aim to take a balanced approach to training.
 
Men, train your lower half as much as you train your upper half.
 
Ladies, train your upper half as much as you train your lower half.
 
As for fat loss please understand this simple fact, it comes of where it wants to come off based on your bodies individual genetic makeup and hormonal profile, sadly you can’t pick and choose. Now you might not like to hear that, however that doesn’t stop it from being how things work, sorry. 
 
Here are three things you should be doing for all around fat loss and improvement in your body composition.
 
1 – Train your muscles equally (split days or whole body days)
 
2 – Interval style training where you get your heart rate over 85%
 
3 – Achieve a caloric deficit and eat whole foods
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Easy Nutrition Part 2

How to make meals in 3 easy steps.
 
Be warned, many won’t agree, yet after seeing it work time and again it’s worth consideration.
 
“Our life is frittered away by detail… simplify, simplify, simplify.” – Henry David Thoreau
 
One “simplify” would have been enough.
~R.W. Emerson, in response to Thoreau.
 
A brilliant quote and an even better response, who says the people of yesteryear had no sense of humour.
 
Okay, so how can you make the dreaded ‘meal prep’ or even ‘meal making’ not only effective, healthy but importantly simple.
 
After all, not everyone has endless amounts of time to make the perfect 5 star meal, but something that helps us achieve our goal is good enough.
 
Step 1 – Fill your cupboards with whole foods and remove as much processed food as possible, within reason.
 
Step 2 – Based on 3 meals per day example.
 
– Breakfast: High fat/ moderate to high Protein/ a dash of carbs, eating like a king, so perhaps Salmon, Eggs, Avocado , Spinach, Yoghurt + Berries and a nice glass of water.
 
– Lunch: Moderate fat/ moderate to high protein/ moderate carbs, eating like a prince, maybe a chicken & bacon salad with some vegetable sushi and a glass of water.
 
Workout after lunch but before dinner in this example.
 
– Dinner: A dash of fat/ moderate to high protein/ high carb, eating like a pauper, you might find this appetising, sea food curry with rice and steamed veg, followed by a small portion of what you enjoy such as a bowel of frozen yoghurt with mixed berries.
 
Step 3 – Ignore step 2, it’s not gospel because it’s only an example and should be seen as such. While the premise of eating like a King, Prince, Pauper is a good one for most people who lead an ‘average life’ – 2.4 kids, 9-5 job, trains 3xpw etc, it’s a simple frame work to help you find a starting point. From this point you must learn that YOU need to adapt your nutrition to suit your life/goal accordingly.
 
That’s how you achieve successful nutrition.
 
What you will find is that protein work well form most people in a moderate to high amount, fat usually comes in second and takes the lead over carbs for people who are not highly active (training anaerobically 3+times per week. Lastly we have carbs, delicious carbs that are easy to consume however you need to earn them though activity, the less active you are the less you need, truth people don’t want to hear.
 
The biggest problem people face is they fact that they want to be sheep and told exactly what to do so that if something goes wrong it’s not their fault.
 
You don’t owe your health or how you look to anyone other than yourself. However if you need help be sure to ask for it, there is nothing wrong with wanting support, in fact I’d encourage you seek it because in the early stages a coach/trainer can help you stay on the right path until you’re ready to go it alone.
 
Fill your meals with whole foods for the most part, you’ll find that the more you eat this way the less you crave the highly refined stuff.
 
There is a place for some intricacies and complexities, but for the average person it’s usually not needed. Adherence is the first step, after that you can go deeper in to the rabbit hole if you want to learn just how far it goes. 
 
Nutrition isn’t hard, it’s made hard by people trying to sell you something, remember that.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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