Tuesday, 16 October 2012

The blog returns!

Hello strangers!

After a 3 month break from the blog im back. and this time im pissed!

Only kidding. I'm actually in a better place in terms of lifestyle, energy, mood and work.

My happy face

The last area being a key factor in the receny changes. Ive moved to a company called UFIT and its been a great first 6 weeks. I have much more social interaction at work, making some great new friends and that i realise has been a key ingredient that was missing previously. Also, i have been lucky to have a great new client base, who are keen to put the work in and listen to my ideas on tarining, nutrition and lifestyle change. I have awesome new bosses/managers who listen to ideas and are involved on the studio floor everyday. Its a brilliant environment to be creative and ive rediscovered the passion for training again. long may that continue!

I may also have an input into UFITs relaunched blog and share writing with general manager Darren Blakeley - I will use this as a chance to write about 'in the trenches' issues that i see in the gym each week, while this blog will remain wide topic around health and fitness as usual.

Todays blog is about Environment.

Not the really, really important of our planet and one that we seem to want to destroy, but the personal environment we can create daily and the environment/s which we put ourselves to enrich our lives and generally get along in life.

1. Creating your own environment

One of my favourite phrases in any book is in Jack Canfield in "The success principles":

"You are 100% responsible for your life"

Think of every time you have blamed something or someone else for your personal situation. Was it really you that caused that problem. Most times its really down to yourself when things go wrong. Lets take weight loss and personal training for example. Ive met clients who have claimed their previous trainer was not good at their job and they did not get results. Months later those same clients are claiming im no good at my job because they havent got any results.

The key fact missing here are that the client was unable to make significant changes in their own lifestyle outside the gym, yet they convince themselves that paying money for training would ensure weight loss and its the trainers fault. this is just one example... but i digress.

Is your environment stopping you in life?

Action. Review everything you do and identify where changes can be made. Are the practises you use working? If not modify them. Are you always late for appointments? Plan your time better. The list is literally endless. The biggest example i hear everyday regards health is food intake at work.

You say "There's nothing healthy to eat at work?"

I say. Create your own food.

"I dont have time to make my own food"

I say. Create or buy snacks that take little or no time to prepare.

The 2 negative statements above are easily solved problems that people use as excuses everyday NOT to get in better health and better shape.

Almonds are a perfect snack for 'busy' folk

2. Working environment

We spend 1/3 of our lives at work. Thats actually pretty depressing reading if you hate your job?

Im not writing this and saying you should quit your job if you dont like it, absolutely not. What im saying is that i find it amazing how people will spend decades of their lives in jobs (and relationships) that sap their energy, soul and purpose in life.

Im certainly not qualified to give expert advice in this field but i have recently experienced a positive change in my working life. I moved because i wasnt happy. The reasons i wasnt happy could not be changed, so i had to try to make a change to make me love my job again. It worked.

Closing thoughts

Not too long a blog today but i just wanted to briefly share the last phase of my own life/career and try to get some people thinking about their personal and working environments. There are always areas to improve and i believe (in my own opinion from experience) small changes will result in massive positive shifts in other areas in life. Take a look at every area in your life and try to make small changes that will make things better for your family, your relationships, your business, etc.

Passion requires energy, If your daily routine is zapping your energy then you will have passion for nothing.

On that deep note, im off!

Good to be back, share with friends/facebook and lets get the hits back up!

see ya!

Topics coming soon - Intermittent fasting, Resistance Band training, Flipping tractor tyres & revisiting the 10kg in month program!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The hierarchy of training Part 1

Hey all,

Ive been writing this blog on/off for the past month thats why i havent written in a while. Not the fact ive been taking it easy with life and being a lazy-ass.

Me during the past month or so

Ive also bought a new puppy (who demands all our spare time) and decided to call time at my current job, but nevertheless... onward and upward.
If you have ever studied business in your younger days then you would be familiar with Maslow's hierarchy of human needs: physiological, safety, belonging, esteem, self-actualization. Maslow believed that there was an order to human needs for self improvement and personal success. Well, I believe there is an order/system which best suits physical human performance, thats what this blog is all about.

As always i have inspiration for my writing and this blog is no different. Currently there is a trend in gyms and training. All over the internet im seeing crazy-tough circuits, killer  work-outs, etc.

Great! That is if your fitness levels are excellent and its a particular phase that you're working on. Otherwise, going 'balls-to-wall' every session as your training style in not a good long term strategy *IMO. What happens when you start to burn out? Because you will. Before a rant starts i will get back to my inspiration.

*IMO (in my opinion) safeguards me from ever being wrong BTW (by the way).

Im seeing young/inexperienced guys doing exercises they have no experience and 'clocked hours' in. i.e Newbies deadlifting 100kg with horrible form. If you see this anywhere in the world, there is somebody responsible for that action. Someone in a position of influence has no real idea of the strengthening process and has pressured the weight/movement on a younger person. It could be an eager trainer or stronger, more experienced friends. The result will be bad injuries and bad experiences in the gym.

Bent spine lifting day at AssholesGym today

I speak of my own journey with weights here when i say that everytime i thought about 100kg or above in any lift, i shit myself (not literally, that would have been disquisting) but it was a big deal. I'd put the time in, i'd got to that level, i was nervous and showed the iron total respect. I was ready (or not on some occasions), but i had a progressive plan and everytime i arrive at a (close to) max lift, its because i was prepared. Today i'm seeing young boys/grown men with sub standard functional movement, talent, strength and technique regularly (and terribly) hitting these weights. Why? because its cool and 'in'. Punishment is the order of the day and everyone seems up for it... regardless of ability and experience.

To give a quick example, check out this 'fashionable' circuit:

Deadlift 100kg x 5
Row 500m
Elevated push ups x 15

20 minutes AMRAP (that stands for 'as many rounds as possible'). I just made that circuit up in 10 seconds, (you could too) look familiar? Its everywhere you look on the internet. Sure its tough and would make the training mutants roar in approval, but my question is:

What if your lower back isn't that strong?

                                                           The training mutants gasp! 

If you have poor core or lower back strength, the above session demands a lot of those areas and is a horrible choice of workout. And thats the problem, people are picking exercises and training systems they have no business attemping; So what im suggesting is that there is an order, a system of physical improvement that needs addressing.

Q: What should we target first when thinking about our own general fitness goals?

Answers on a postcard please.

You all know where i got the idea from (above), here are some classic examples of when people who use the gym are just not quite getting why they are there:

- Heavy Deadlifting (okay good so far) with a) no warm up/activation (bad), too much weight (bad) and tragically bent spine (so bad).

- Training clients that say "Why are we doing (squats/lunges/deadlifts) again?"

Because they are effing awesome and your not.

- Overweight gym users using decline and incline bench variations

Why worry about muscles you cannot see?

- Overweight gym users with horrible running form on a flat treadmill setting

Running is a terrible choice for overweight people to use to lose weight.

- Guys with massive upper bodies and zero lower body development

Train your damn legs, its 70% of your total mass!

- Average ability gym members performing Crossfit training routines (badly)

You're not talented or conditioned enough for this yet, start smaller.

- Ladies performing multiple sets of tricep extensions

Bigger triceps will give you bigger arms if you dont address fat loss.

- Gym users using the foot setting on the TRX with caved-in core

Advanced core exercise which are not suitable for people with weak core strength.

- Guys with terrible posture performing heavy push exercises

Why build the muscles that are already dominant? thats right becuse you are clueless

- Gym members flaking out in group exercises classes

Entered a training system that is too demanded for their ability

- Gym members with terrible form in Bodypump class

Have not learned the basic functional movements before deciding on class format.

and on and on and on it goes...

You should get the picture by now, believe me the list could go on and on into the longest, most boring blog i've ever written. People are getting it wrong.

Dont be like Homer... get it right

The weird thing is... If YOU were on this list you either:

a) Wouldn't admit to it
b) Wouldn't even know you were on it

So if you do one of the above, please stop today and ask/pay someone to help you through it. It would save me some hair!

Ok, onto the training components. Obviously this is not THE definitive order of how to do things as people have different goals, abilities and physiques. But lets say i had a human lump of clay and i wanted to mould that person into the best version of themselves i could... this is how i would do it.

1. Flexibility (muscle condition)
People have (generally) very poor muscle condition, Modern day humans are a totally stressed out, under-nourished and Immobile group. Im always amazed at the lack of flexibility and general co-ordination of basic movements from my initial client gym assessments. Its honestly like some people have been curled up in a box (does this sound like you and your desk job?) for a decade and then decided that they want to be in amazing shape by the *summer. 

*BTW its too late for that this year - you should have started in January. Waaah!

Instant flexibility just wont happen if you have neglected your body for months and years so there must be an immediate daily strategy towards undoing this from day 1.

Action 1: Stretch every morning and/or evening

Only when you begin to address the length and quality of your soft tissue will you be able to start to move and feel better.

...A word on foam rolling, read this

Final word on flexibility: Im reading/hearing the latest research/info says that stretching is a waste of time. Can i say right here i completely disagree with this. If you have ever worked with clients whose muscles are so tight and movement unco-ordinated - you would know that stretching is the very first stop to improving this and getting some authentic mind body movement connection. So there may be new research out there and it may be true of folk who are already flexible, but i really think its BS.

2. Mobility (joint health)

For the past 5 years mobility and corrective drills have dominated every warm up in every program i've written. The reason? Because basic (pain free) human movement should be the goal of every person and cornerstone of a well-written program.

If you have pain on moving joints (e.g) shoulder circles then you really shouldn't continue strenuous exercise until that is dealt with. Pain is a signal that something is wrong and its an early warning of future injury. Listen to the signals and deal with weak areas before moving on. If you have severe shoulder pain and still have a bench press day... honestly you're an idiot. But i forgive you. Sort the shoulder out or your kids will be doing your garden for you when you retire.

Action 2: Move your body more, circle joints every morning or find a light daily activity that allows freedom of movement (i.e. Swimming, Dance or Yoga)

You may not like what i'm going to say next but if step 1 and 2 are major issues for you, then seriously reconsider you're next training phase. You should be devoted exclusively to 'improving muscle condition and movement'.

"You should 100% NOT head straight into a volume based strength program or even a Crossfit style program with these fundamental flaws"

3. Primal patterns
Primal patterns are the natural movements of the body. Think Squat, Bend, twist, lunge, push, pull.
If you have addressed flexibility and mobility issues you should have pretty decent form on all of the above primal movements. Here are some common issues:

Toes raised while squatting
Upper body folds forward when squatting
Lack of balance when lunging
No hip extension when lunging and folding forward of torso
half-depth push ups
Limted movement on rotation

There are a whole host of technqiue flaws to be observed on just these basic movements, and this is something that everyone needs to get right before loading the patterns with extrenal weight.

"Why do dumbbell lunges when you can bodyweight lunge correctly?"
 It makes absolutely zero sense to do that, but i see it every day.

Action 3: Practise bodyweight movements (in the mirror) everyday as part of your training/movement/lifestyle.

At the very least, your health and fitness journey should result in you being able to execute these basic movements without pain or flaw. If they aren't - i would suggest you move back a few stages and build your foundation on better movement.

Ok im done for now. I know what you're thinking, This training is pretty easy? Dont be fooled by the ability of advanced bodyweight exercises and combinations to severely kick your ass. My recent inclusion in all my clients sessions has been a tabata timing (20s hard, 10s easy x 8) bodyweight for specific movements of each client. apart from being an amazing 'warm up' for strength training, the fitness element is excellent to.

And thats just 4 minutes... i have 30 minute bodyweight session that could finish an athelete of any level. If you have neglected this effective (and free) form of training, i recommend you start ASAP and reap the benefits.

Martin Rooney uses a heavy bodyweight base in training MMA athletes, you should too!

Check out Part 2 of this blog which will cover the remaining components of my training hierarchy

Share with friends on afcebook if you like this :)

Sunday, 24 June 2012

The return of Warrior Cardio: Weeks 6 & 7

Hey all,

I realised that i completely forgot to document week 6 but in all honesty thats exactly the reason why i decided to take the week off. The weeks were blending into each other and i was starting to amble through sessions in weeks 5&6.

My week off consisted of some light rowing, stretching, practising barefoot running on the woodway (im starting to like it), did a full body weights session on friday, got massage and chilled out by my pool. The definite goal for the week was to be 100% up for the start of week 7 so i did very little on the weekend and eat as much good food as possible without overeating.

On the nutrition side, i dabbled with the velocity diet (all shakes), not 100% but atleast 85-90% and dropped what i needed to drop to get my head back on again.

Inbody results 19/6

weight - 79.6
muscle - 41.9
fat - 7.9
Bfat % - 10.4

Goals, definitely need to get this back down towards 75kg asap. Change of eating to lower carb and less frequent meals. I plan the last 3 weeks (10, 11 and 12) to be all-out fat loss so still have some time to adjust to lower calorie eating.

Day 1

Good to be back on the plan, I feel bigger and leaner thanks to a good week off and a cheeky attempt at the velocity diet (shakes only). Bought usana cappuccino flavored meal replacements and they are the best tasting supp I've ever had. Will keep using for sure.

Day 1 was hurricane training just like one of the previous weeks, it's tou but fair, push ups, crunches and sprints x 9.

The warm ups although excellent and much needed, I must admit have become very boring for me. I know find myself creating my own and stick loosely to the original system. It's the one fault I can think of about the program - but who am I to tell MR what's right or wrong, it's just an opinion. I put in some light rowing, Bulgarian bag, skipping and still take 30minutes + to prep so I like that aspect of it.

Swiss ball plank circuit was ok, I have added 50 reps of an abdominal exercise from now on (summer round the corner) so today was ab wheel outs. I'm working on my barefoot running so finishing every session with 5 minutes forefoot running style on the woodway with my vibrams. Nothing crazy but this should help lean my legs out.

In addition to WC I am currently doing the 100 rep calf challenge daily (t nation) and my own 402 squat program on off-days, both are working really well and will hit them over the next month and see the difference in my lower body. All good so far, looking to get visually leaner in the next 10-14 days while maintaining Bodyweight.

Finally, I started using 
tracker.dailyburn.com - this is awesome for those who don't count calories, this does it for you. It's amazing how much more we eat than we think. For me, it's the next step in get super lean. In only 2 days it's changed my mind on a few choices and opened my eyes to the quantities of food I eat. Try it out.

Day 2

Ive really started to ditch the full warm ups now as i have found that i can use this time to get in extra cardio/fat loss work that i don't feel like doing after the sessions. i'm starting to run intervals and all good so far. also im using bulgarian bag and some light overhead squats along with some of the warrior cardio prep stuff. honestly, 2 alternating warm ups just got super boring for me. I hate to go against MR's program but i do feel this area could be improved. just my own thought, possibly change every 4 weeks? 

The metabolic work was a beast called 'the doubler', double your reps on 4 exercises (bench, chins, dips, push ups) - i tried 4, 8, 16, 32 and got caught out out the 32 push ups! tough stuff

Shoulder circuit was great for rotator cuff work.

Core training was side plank sequence and ive added in 50 hanging leg raises for extra ab work.

Day 3

metabolic work was a lower body DB complex (deads, hammer curl, snatch, squat, lunge) - what a beast! did 3 sets because i loved it, hr was up to 165bpm using the 16kg DBs.

tabata jumps squats... yeah you know how thatll feel.

6 rounds of bag drags with 40kg of bulgarian bag on the bag, pulled with a trx. honestly its the worst feeling, best pump i have had in my quads for a while. they were so pumped there was a sting! great exercises and will defo use this again for conditioning. 

core work was elevated side plank which i added some cable crunch and lower back extensions.

all in all a good training week, i'm eating a lot of good calories (probably too much for my goals) so my weight has gone up with the additional 3x squat sessions per week. next week is going to be more carb controlled as i don't want to move away from the original goal of the program which i fat loss. I'm surprised that this program has increased my muscular weight as much as it has. Although the reason for this is obviously my consistently large eating over 2500 cals per day, 200g+ from protein. Great of course but sometimes overeating when there is no real need. easy area to improve on.

More updates next week

Monday, 4 June 2012

Warrior Cardio: Week 5

Week 5 

Decided after last week that this week IS strict diet week! Really need to take the body fat levels down a level, results are consistent but my eating is a little loose. Also bought a pre workout supplement (musclepharm assault) in the hope it will shake off my training lethargy from last week. I've been adding rowing and Bulgarian bag work to fire up my body ready for training, also it's 10 or so minutes cardio work while fresh. 

Day 1 - really starting to enjoy warming up, my body is feeling the benefits and I'm actually spending more time on it. Warm up used to represent a full but yet rushed activity for me, WC has made me appreciate the preparation process more. Ive mentioned previously its a sign of a great program that you feel better as its going along, not worse.

Today was hurricane category 3 - barbell combinations with sprints, 3x3 rounds that was pretty challenging at the end but excellent at the same time. Core training was regular series, which has improved a lot. great session, really felt the assault supplement and didn't feel the heaviness I'd recently felt.

Day 2 - involved some upper body dumbell circuit called the gauntlet. 6 exercises, 6 reps each with the weights increasing each round until it made sense to stop. Due to the tricep extension i stopped at 14kg, which is a decent weight, i think without that exercise you could go much higher so i may change it around if it comes around again.

the pull up series is tough but excellent for upper body development, 5 pull ups variations back to back for max reps. Felt weak around the elbow (potentially from my earlier training program this year) but managed about 5-6 reps on each for 2 rounds. Felt pretty pumped after this combination.

The program is now turning into one i would normally use (more resistance, complex style), with slight differences. In my opinion moderate to heavy weighted circuits/complexes beat everything in the gym for overall training goals - so its a great fit for my training preferences.

core training was the push up plank series, which felt so much better. really have found the plank series to be beneficial and challenging. my previous thoughts on the plank was that its too easy - adding variety and accumulative fatigue in the series really does make it a valid reason to put planks into your training whatever your level.

Day 3 - The metabolic conditioning was the tabata protocol, 2 circuits of lunger and squatter Bodyweight movements. Simple, effective and tough assuming you work hard. I'm currently working at 80% for some reason. Not fully feeling back to my best. But progressing every week and I still perform a high level so generally happy with the effort. I improvised on the prowler sprints with a boxing bag across the gym floor, weighed down with a 23kg Bulgarian bag. After 2 sets you realize why prowlers are so infrequently used! What an attack on my legs and lungs. It's a great way to finish a session - short, sharp and highly metabolic. 

 I have decided to take a full week of training after next week (half way), I really benefitted from a deload training week last time around and I think a strict dieting week and lots of recovery work could be the ticket for a great second half to the program. Just feeling the sprints a little which has confirmed this decision. My weight loss has stalled, which is another indicator that something needs to change.

ive included a seperate squat program i created called squat402 (you do 402 squats per week), it took me a while to make up that name! im doing this after the sessions or on my off days. my deadlift is far more tuned in than the squat and i recently noticed that i can bench press more than i can "comfortably" squat! thats wrong on so many levels, thus i created a program to alter this - so will run alongside WC and will probably blog on it after completion. If it doesn't work then i will deny i ever wrote it. 

see you for week 6

Friday, 25 May 2012

Warrior Cardio: Week 4

Having just completed the first month of WC program, im feeling ok. I still ache a little from time to time (although i feel a little better every saturday weigh in day). I did everything ok this. My workouts were ok, my diet was ok, my energy was ok - but check out my results:

Weight: 75.6 (-0.8) -5.0kg overall
Muscle: 39.8 (+0.5) -0.8 overall
Fat: 7.0 (-1.4) -3.5 overall
Bodyfat % - 9.2 (-1.8) -3.5 overall

So my average week in my head was my best week on paper? hmmmm. This is often the case with people on a fitness program, even a trainer like myself - we want instant results, instant feeling, instant gratification - but in reality consistency will get the best result. I assume now that my body is in some sort of 'snowball effect' where the fat loss is concerned and i just need to stick with the basics of of the program to keep acheiving favourable results.

A few things aside the training helped this week. A slightly less busy workload allowed me to rest more during the afternoons and i stretched a little in the evenings. Also purchasing ear plugs has improved my sleep - which is massive in terms of proper recovery. I also proved that i can survive on just 1 double espresso in the mornings! my coffee drinking was getting a little excessive so thats got to help my overall health a little, also focused more on water intake. All the above are positive steps towards better health and i feel they helped.

Targets this week:

- Better training intensity
- Continue sleeping pattern
- Stretch at every opportunity
- No bread or fruit

I hardly eat bread and fruit but recently its been creeping back in. I buy evening bread (german, high protein) which is gret but i just want some rules for 7 days to continue the fat loss.

No Targets for the stats, the above list should take care of that. My next goal is to be 74kg (lose another 1.6kg of bodyfat), feeling strong, fit and healthy at the end of week 6 (Saturday 9th June).

The training

Day 1 - hurricane cat 2 sprints with bodyweight exercises. I like these a lot, you can create any number of combinations and they are great finishers for clients. Im using the woodway curve because its far better than a standard treadmill, in my opinion.

core training was an elevated side plank series, which was a great addition and added lots of new exercises that are effective.

Day 2 - 10 exercise barbell complex = urgh! Yes 6 reps each for 10 exercises without putting the bar down, i used 25 kg (which isnt a lot, but it was enough for me to start). i love the idea of complexes but doing them is horrible.

core training was due to be partner drills, but as i train alone (dont be sad for me, i choose that option 99% of the time) i looked at the required drills and created the following:

- Kettlebell double crunch
- Kettlebell russian twists
- dragon flag
- windscreen wipers
- wall ball throws

its wasnt perfect but it felt good enough.

Day 3 - Strongman circuit. Loved it. Again i had to improvise:

- Farmers walks
- standing rope pull (rope machine)
- bulgarian bag spins
- heavy bag prowler push
- Bulgarian bag snatch

Core training was a kettlebell plank sequence and barbell rollouts, which again i enjoyed as it made me perform exercises i dont do often. I think thats the outstanding aspect of this program for me so far, the variety - im excited to find out whats next - and thats a sign of a great program i think. excitement rather than dread!

Breifly looking at next week i saw olympic lifts combined with sprints, deadlifts and a pull up series! Time to step it up a gear :)

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Warrior Cardio: Week 3

Hey all,

another great week completed on the warrior cardio program, here are my results so far:

weight: 76.4 (-4.2)
muscle: 39.3 (-1.3)
fat: 8.4 (1.9)
bf%: 11% (-1.7%)

Pretty decent numbers so far, im really happy. However my diet has been a little loose and can  be tightened up a little so this week i will be adopting a green faces/paleo approach and my 'cheats' will be clean carb sources post training. I will only cover this for a week and it should keep the fat loss results rolling.

Week 3 was a little bit tougher due to the fact i did a bulgarian bag cert the weekend previous which i still felt on the thursday! we definately all dropped bodyfat after 2 amazing yet tough days.

For some strange reason i decided that once i hit 74kg on this training program i would shave my head and grow out my beard. This (strangely) has always helped me focus more on my training! weird maybe, but it works for me - it looks like its gonna happen soon. A shaved head (to me) represents an attitude and focus to get fit and lean - i think this program will ultimately take me close to 70kg but having improved in all areas, so i'm not really bothered what the scale says. As long i look good, feel good and perform well - who cares?

Having come off a brutal weekend Bulgarian bag course at the weekend, I needed the sensible layout of WC. This is where the program comes into its own. It really focuses on improvement and movement first. The side effect is fat loss and I also don't have the raging appetite that comes with the usual heavy resistance work. Day 1 was sprints, hurricane category 2 and it was a noticeable change in gear from cat 1. What I love also is that every single movement seems to target core which I think we are all guilty of half-assing? full body complex on day 2 - love it. Didn't feel as strong as I thought I would but body still feeling the weekend torture... The goal for this week is just getting through the sessions and rest well on the weekend. On day 3 the metabolic conditioning section was a 'fighter circuit' of:

power punches
kneeling punches on bag

i did this 'UFC' style (5minute rounds with 1 minute rest) for 4 rounds, loved the variety - really found that 5x1min exercises is tough without being boring and you can do this with any form of exercise. loved it and will keep this form of finisher for myself and my clients.

Not really looked at week 4 yet but im guessing there will be slight progressions on the core series and sprints. New complexes and circuits to challenge me. This program has inspired to create my own 12 week system, its really is a fantastic way to focus on training and something (structured and progressive training plan) that most gym users don't adopt.

I plan to be another kg of bodyfat down by next update.

3 weeks down, 9 to go!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Warrior cardio: week 2

Hey all, Week 2 of warrior cardio was similar to week one but with some changes of complexes (lower body) and a cool power circuit to finish the week off.

The issue of repetition of key exercises is something that comes up a lot in my job as a pt. how do you educate those people who want something different all the time? Well chopping and changing frequently means you won't get good at anything. There are 2 warm ups in WC for example that alternate throughout the whole 12 week program, some would consider this as boring or repetitive. But why over complicate things? 2 separate preparation phases that cover everything you need to get ready for the metabolic demands of training - sounds ideal to me.

I'm really seeing the benefits of the hip and core drills after week 2. It's really important to focus on the warm up, I still catch myself rushing through drills to get to he 'fun' stuff - this is something I'm trying to get better. I'm really trying to improve on the technique and speed of these exercises and it makes a huge difference to the whole session. I'm continuing with my 2 rows per week which is going ok so far. Just 14 minutes a week so nothing too taxing.

This week I had to perform a Zercher complex for lower body which was bloody painful but I bossed through it and felt good about that. I'm liking that the plan has exercises I haven't done in a while and my body is really feeling the new movements. The power circuit also had me using the heavy bag and TRX rip trainer (substitute for real sledgehammer) so its always cool to mix things up.

Unfortunately, my polar stopped working this week so I have no data but the workouts felt much the same as week 1, approx 500 calories per hour with a definite feel of improving work rather than brutal work - for me right now this is a massive plus as my last training phase was far too long and too intense. My body is still feeling the aches and pains!

I fully expect this program to right the wrongs of the last one :) I missed my Saturday morning weigh in as I was taking a Bulgarian bag certification over the weekend, will return with a week 3 update, the results should be consistent as my diet has been 90% great and I feel the training is going well. I'm visibly down again and my legs are feeling looser then last week.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Food Vs Food-like products

Hi all,

First let me thank everyone who reads the blog. Im really grateful that you take the time (i try to keep it short) to read this and even more so to share it to your friends/family across the world. looking at the stats, the blog is reaching about 20 different countries now - which to me is an amazing compliment and makes me continue to draft ideas that may interest people.

Not being happy with 20 countries and the numerous language barriers i have added a translation function (top right of the blog page) so if you have an old Ecuadorian granny who would be interested in reading some kick-ass, sometimes chuckle-worthy health/training and fitness information then send her my blog which is now available in Spanish as well as 49 other languages. Again, this amazes me.

Todays blog is about food (nom nom nom). I cant take the plaudits for this title/idea as I have proudly pinched the term from (now an ex Client) JD who has moved back to Hong Kong. BTW, JD's trainer in Hong Kong was amazed at how much leaner (22% to 12%) AND stronger (all major lifts at good gym standards) he had gotten. Thats what you get when you get good instruction/direction with excellent client application - it just cant happen any other way. Most of all i will miss our 'in-between set" chats on 'Curb your enthusiasm' and JD's amazing impressions of the Cast! Very funny.

If you dont know Curb, this picture really captures the show

Ok, Are you eating food or are you eating food like products?

Have you ever thought about it like that? Take a walk around the supermarket and you will see a wide variety of tempting crap with attractive packaging that is designed by companies to entice
sugar-craving humans - How else could you sell something that will:

1) Make you fat
2) leaving you wanting more
2) probably contribute to an early death

oh yeah... but it tastes soooooooo good! sold to the lady with the outrageous cankles!

On a side note: I was watching Dr Oz the other day (great show, really informative) and some lady wrote in about her 'generic cankle issue'. Dr Oz being a nice guy went through all the possible reasons and while it was interesting and informative i couldnt help think he was lying through his teeth.

Why? Because if she was in a gym environment and she went through an assessment - a real straight talking human being/honest trainer would have said:

"I hate to break the news but you're approximately 40% bodyfat, which is morbidly obese"

I think Dr Oz ducked out of telling that woman the obvious, uncomfortable truth
The problem is that she and her family have terrible daily habits and they need to be addressed. Of course saying this would have been unpopular, but why? Why are people so defensive against the obvious? Real friends stab you in the front not the back. If somebody you know is 35-40%+ bodyfat, they may look "great" to you (although i dont believe that) but advise them that its not healthy to be that overweight, its actually dangerous - and its mostly down to greed and inactivity. 

Not a good look

Anyway... Here are some of the things im seeing recently.

Real food vs Food-like alternatives

Chicken and Rice (Known as Chicken Rice)

If you have ever been to Asia, almost every local lives on Chicken Rice, they love it so much that they name food stalls "Chicken Rice" after the famous dish (I would have loved to have been at that business name brainstorming session).

"Guys, what do you think of name Chicken rice? Brilliant. Job done. Lunch anyone?"

Real chicken looks like this...

Food-like alternative chicken looks like this....

Katsu curry with debatable chicken
Rice is a real food. However, continually eating white rice which has a GI scale of 65+ (with sauces and not burning it off) is a total disaster for your waistline. Eating rice 3 x day as a staple food in my opinion is crazy but i understand in this part of the world its an economical decision for some local people. However i will add that meat and veggies are cheap to buy locally so no excuses really. Brown rice will always be more expensive than white, If you have the money its just a question of how much you value your health. If you have a half-decent paid job and are eating rice 3xday you're not really given yourself any chnace to get leaner.

Real beverages Vs food-like drinks

One of the 10 original Precision Nutrition rules states:

"Do not consume liquids with more than 0 calories"
That only leaves water, herbal teas and black coffee. Unfortunately for all you guys who think thats boring, you may struggle to get in great shape by guzzling down sugar-laden drinks as your only form of liquid. Keep it simple when it comes to liquid, the more water than better. Its not box office, Its not a white chocolate frappacino but its essential to your health and body composition goals.

Water Vs Vitamin water
I hate to upset avid followers of the 'super healthy' sugar... (cough cough) i mean Vitamin water. To say its delicious and nutritious is mis-leading. Apparently, they have actually altered the serving size to make it look like there is less sugar in a bottle. well it's 22.5g for 500ml which is moderate/low for these kind of drinks but its still 22.5g of sugar that you could probably do without if your trying to lose fat. Not working intensily and drinking these to 'fuel' your sessions may be an easy way to see results?

Just one example of popular 'sugar water' products
You cant go wrong with water. Its not that sexy but its probably the cheapest and best thing you could add to your day. 

Americano Vs Frappacino
Coffee shops are horrible places. Yeah, they are cool and they make you feel trendy/cool and like a cast member from 'friends' when you're there but they are minefields for poor nutritional decisions . Im not here to spoilt the coffee movement, far from it. I love coffee. (I actually have a Nespresso machine at home so i can hit a beautiful double espresso with touch of cinnamon every morning at 0530am before work...Wow!). My point is the high street coffee shops are 95% crappy foods to eat if you wanna be lean. Cakes, muffins, doughnuts, breads, sandwiches, etc. Also, the drink options (apart from herbal teas and straight coffees) are highly calorific and should be avoided. Some of the choices should simply be labelled as dessert.

Thats not coffee love, its a liquid cake!

"In my opinion, the modern day coffee shop culture is one major factor that is keeping people fat"

Young coconut Vs canned young coconut

After taking advice from a client on the benefits of young coconut water i have started to try to add them to my weekly shop. If you haven't heard of the benefits, they:
- Full of Minerals, vitamins, Amino acids and Antioxidants
- Addresses Urinary disorders
- Maintains electrolyte balance
- Breaks kidney stones
- Used as blood plasma substitute
- Kills intestinal worms
- Anti bacterial
- Can help overcome nausea or vomiting

Sounds like a can of bleach doesn't it? But it tastes amazing and cosy 60p for one.
My new lucozade
This is good, but modern day businesses have turned a perfectly healthy and natural drink into a sugar laden "health" drink.

The can i loooked at in the shops had 20g extra sugar

Green tea Vs Canned green tea

exactly the same deal here. Ive been tempted at times to get one of these healthy 'thirst quenchers', but take one look at the side of the can and the 25g sugar always makes me put it back down. Canned green tea is like real green tea only cold, full of additives and full of sugar. What a 'sweet' deal (pun intended). Seriously, what are you thinking? buy 25 bags of organic green tea for $5 (which is far cheaper than the cans) and save money as well as sugar and unwanted calories. just don't go there - they actually taste rubbish.

Its boring as hell but really good for you

If you don't like the taste of green tea... grow up!

Only joking (slightly), add a slice of lemon or try the numerous flavours they now have. If you still don't like it then i cant help you. Its like saying you don't like green veggies. Tough, you gotta learn to find a way to like them or you're gonna always reach for the bread to fill up your plate. In terms of getting body composition improvements, its an easy choice really.

Need to stop as this could go on, I found lots of different food vs food like situations out there in the local stores and some of them are just shocking. Its really sad when i see an adults shopping basket choc-full of shitty food-like items, fizzy, sugary drinks as i know they are taking that garbage home to their kids and breeding another generation of malnutritioned youngsters. I must say my local chinese supermarket seem to be world champions at food-like products. I only go in there for wtaer, almonds, eggs, chicken and green veggies. Which is really only what you would need.
Any other examples of food Vs food-like? Feel free to comment and start a discussion, i want this blog to become more interactive. Let me know what you think.

and finally...

What has the world come to?

Flavoured tofu + fake turkey pizza, thats the fakest item i could find.

Please help spread the word and Share with your social network friends :)

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

hey guys, im reposting some older blogs that didnt seem to get as many hits as usual. Let me know what you think of them. Check out this short blog on 'organic stretching'


Saturday, 5 May 2012

Check out my new blog on http://ping.fm/AnOyH

warrior cardio: Week 1

Hi all, I started my 'warrior cardio' training this week and decided to update a weekly blog about the 12 week journey and provide a rolling book review along the way. Here are my stats on starting the program: 

Body composition results 30/4

Weight - 80.6kg
Muscle mass - 40.6kg
Fat mass - 9.7kg (12%)

Results taken every saturday morning via Inbody, which gives consistent readings but can be affected day-to-day by increased/decreased Glycogen storage, showing muscle mass fluctuation in short time.

Heart rate results per session

Zone 1 - 108-124
Zone 2 - 125-142
Zone 3 - 143 - 166

Session 1 - 30/4
Duration - 1:05
Zones - 3-01:12 / 2-04:19 / 1-33:31
Calories - 418
% Calories fat burn - 39%
Average Heart rate - 96
Maximal Heart rate - 149

Session 2 - 2/5

Duration - 1:13
Zones - 3-02:25 / 2-03:41 / 1-33:07
Calories - 478
% Calories fat burn - 37%
Average Heart rate - 97
Maximal Heart rate - 160

Added 4 minute concept 2 row at 1032m

Session 3 - 4/5

Duration - 1:27
Zones - 3-09:06 / 2-12;51 / 1-47:30
Calories - 817*
% Calories fat burn - 28%
Average Heart rate - 109
Maximal Heart rate - 157

*Added 10 minute concept 2 row at 2460m to begin session and 3 x 20s sprints between each barbell complex. Notice how much the calorie burn increases?

Anytime Martin Rooney puts an article, training plan, book, etc out I listen. He is the king of keeping things simple and that's a massive compliment in an industry losing its mind in the maze of crappy gadgets and ineffective training styles. So you could say that when my warrior cardio book arrived on april 19 I was mildly ecstatic. I read the book and loved the simple, direct language and instruction. This is a guy who commands the respect and audience of some of the best mma fighters in the world and reading this book makes you feel 'inside the walls' with them. 

Great book, hi

The first glaringly obvious thing I noticed doing the sessions was how much I had been overdoing it on the volume and intensity in my training. I was simply doing too much hard work and my body (pretty fit and battle hard) was about to rebel against me again. It's like warrior cardio came at exactly the right time for me. 

Firstly, I look at Rooney and his athletes and that is how I want to a) look and 2) perform. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree! I'm a big believer in walking the walk and talking the talk. What I mean by this is that I see countless guys getting it wrong in the gym, training like bodybuilders but do not have the goal to look like competitive bodybuilders. For bodybuilding to work you really need to have a strict diet and lifestyle which most normal clients struggle with. This usually results in the big muscles/big waist scenario. But I digress... 

Secondly, I'm looking at the exercises and illustrations and it's a whole bunch of different movements/combinations which are always cool and exciting to do. I love introducing new exercises in the gym. Occasionally I see someone doing something cool and I like to pinch it for a rainy day. Over the next 12 weeks I'm gonna be a wet dream for anybody looking for new stuff! So im down from 6 hours training a week to just over 3 and only 60 minutes of that is moderate to intense. The preparation phases of each workout are lasting 35-40 minutes and that feels great. I'm working the hips and core like never before and have been getting back into daily rolling and stretching as prescribed by the book. Rooney really is a master when it comes to programming. I think modern gym culture of 'slamming it' is stupid. This program I can tell already Is going to put me in amazing shape for whatever comes next - that's the hallmark of a great program. 

 "smart programming will manage fatigue not accumulate it" 
Eric Cressey 

Gunning it every single session will get results, no doubt. But it will quickly become a dead end that will require that you stop and slowly make your way back to where you came from. Warrior cardio is all about strengthening the body from the core outwards.

Proper recovery must follow hard work

After the first session I could feel my hips, obliques, lower back cramping from the new muscle activation/movements - its not like i hadn't done this stuff before but certainly not as long or with as much focus.. The plank series (planks were super lame to me last week) are awesome. Now I'm kicking my own and my clients' asses with new combinations that feel great. Simple And effective. What I loved about the exercises this week is that they were totally relevant and applicable to all of my clients. The plank and hip series a now embedded in my preparation phases for several clients, they felt great and I am happy to pass them on. Generally a Great week, felt some muscle stiffness through the new movements (in a good way) and realized just how tight/weak my hips are. This is gonna transform some of my older clients hip health for sure. Can't for Sunday where I plan out the next 3 workouts!

Hip bridges are a staple in the program

 Week 2 of 12 update next week :)


Thursday, 3 May 2012

Get super fit in just one month

Hi all,

I write this blog (for the 3rd time) wounded by the fact that my 2 previous finished drafts were completely wiped off by something! argh!

So this is gonna be shorter that the original masterpiece i'm afraid...

yes, im upset too :(

But the show must go on...

How do we get super fit in just one month?

Firstly, I want you to ditch all forms of 'cardio' you are currently doing. Thats right, get rid of everything you currently do. Now walk over to the empty/unused/under-appreciated Concept 2 rower that sits majestically in your gym, take a deep breath and prepare to go on a month-long journey that will take your conditioning to the next level.

Couldn't have put it better myself

The 100,000m challenge

The challenge is simple (and brutal). Row 100,000m in 30 days in as little rows as you need at whatever pace. Sounds easy? Its not. It takes (sorry ladies) balls and mental strength.

Ways to achieve it (metres approach)

3300m daily - easy way to keep track. If you miss a day then double to 6600m the next day.

33 x 3000m - this takes around 12-15 minutes and can be done at the beginning and end of regular training.

25 x 4000m - under 20 minutes, 6 times a week

20 x 5000m - should take 20-25 minutes, 5 times a week

Freestyling - i think most of the guys did it this way based on how they felt. My own rows varied from 500m to 11,500m based on mental state and tiredness.

Great parenting in my opinion, get them early

Ways to achieve it (pacing/effort approach)

Single pace - pick a pace (eg. 2:15/500m) and stick with that the entire challenge. Choose a pace that allows you to be moderately comfortable for longer rows.

Mixed pace - again going on feel and energy levels, work as hard as you feel on given days.

Hint: This challenge is distance based, Dont be a hero and blast out  rows at the start as you wont have the energy or will to continue through the month. Averaging 2:10-2:20/500m for males and 10 seconds slower for females is reasonable.

Ways to achieve it (heart rate approach)
Set the appropriate level on the rower and adjust your efforts accordiong to your heart rate. You could be as harsh or as easy as you like with this. I would suggets again that you stick with easy rather than hard to avoid entering a deep, dark hole of exhaustion. Interval style rowing with heart rate between zone 1 (108-124) and zone 2 (125 to 144) is optimal. dipping into zone 3 is great for your calorie burn and improving fitness but my advice would be to use this sparingly.

Great tekkers for a young 'un

I have done this (100k challenge) twice in the past 6 months and it has significantly elevated my fitness levels both times. The first time was pre xmas (2011) along with fellow PT John Pilkington. We both averaged around 2:08/500m and about 30 seperate rows. The second time (march 15-april 15) was part of the World Ergo Challenge under the 5 man virtual team "PTs under the Bar" and after a slow start we came 129th with a total of 417,000m, which was awesome effort considering we all have full-time jobs.

100k challenge team results:

My apologies to the guys below, i have paraphrased what they said after my original blog was deleted (twice!) but have tried to keep their main themes.

Aaron Small - 118,000

"The World Rowing Challenege was up there for me in terms of the most enjoyable team challenge that I have done! The reason for this is it's flexibility. My team mates and I are on different continents but had camaraderie to get us through the tough days! Physically I am leaner now in terms of body fat compared to 30 days ago! I am also stronger and know I have the mental strength to persevere with the toughest of training programs."
Nathan Williams - 100,700

"I would recommend this challenge to anyone who is interested in improving their physical performance and achieveing a new level of conditioning. This is far more than a fitness challenge. It combines physical and mental strength, stamina, character and requires you to dig deep more than a few times to get through. i dont care what level you think you are - 100,000m is a lot of rowing in just 30 days. Its not impossible, far from it... but it will find a lot of people out.
John Pilkington - 100,003

"This is the second time Nathan got me to do this challenge, i must be either crazy or crazy smart! In all honestly the challenge and the team effort was an exciting way to get some real, honest hard work done. The cardiovascular benefits from both challenges have been immense. Mentally, a 2-3000m row is now almost enjoyable! and there are not that many people that look forward to that!"

Rebecca Scott-Martin - 56,000

"I did as much as i could around my other training and running. It was really hard but it give my bes shot. My  stamina a massive lift which has really helped my running and other gym work. I also got a world ranked 5000m time on the concept 2 website which was both a shock and delight as im a relative newbie to the rower. It will stay in my clients' and my own training program from now on".

Justin Bahl - 40,000

"I travelled the whole month so could not get the access i needed to get more rows in. This was still a challenge for me and i got as many 2000s and 1000s around my pt sessions with Nathan. The biggest change was my resting heart which is now around 56 and i think about 5-10 beats down since the last time i checked". 

Final thoughts
Its not rocket science but it really does work. The great thing about this challenge is that its so simple to do. strip down all your cardio work to one piece of equipment and get the metres in. You just cant take short cuts on this one.
Are you up for the challenge? Let me know if you are thinking of doing it.

"Between the borders of pain and suffering, the men are seperated from the boys"

Friday, 6 April 2012

Food and movement: The art of keeping it simple

As I sit here contemplating how big and ass I really am, I thought why not write a new blog?

By the way Its Good Friday, a holiday or late start to most human beings… but to me its another day of getting up super early even though the gym opens at 8am! Yes I got it wrong again, Don’t feel bad as I did the exact same thing last time.

Orchard road, Singapore at 06:30am

So I now have 2 extra hours to kill before work i can write up an idea ive had in my head for the past few days called "Food and Movement". In my opinion these are the fundamentals that anybody has to worry about to get in better shape. The world has gotten a little bit too clever, a little bit to analytical and really forgot the nuts and bolts of how people got into shape back in the day. Im looking around at people and most i see are overfat, its true. These people (in my opinion and whether they care or not) are regularly making poor food choices and not moving enough to support their calorific intake. simple enough?

"Work more, eat less will 99% of the time fix a problem"

...As i write the 24hr cafe sound system is pumping out heavy trance! 06:50am. Get in.

Component 1: Food
According to Precision Nutrition, there are 10 golden rules to live by. Lets look at some of them:
Habit 4: If fat loss is your goal, eat veggies and fruits with any meal: ‘other carbs’ only after exercise. If you have got fat to lose, you have got to earn those higher carb meals by exercising first! *Note: When it comes to body composition change, carb timing strategy is the single most effective strategy to kick fat loss in those stubborn and hard to remove fat stores.
I think 'other carbs' seems to be the modern day issue as almost everything seems to contain carbs. Put simply Carbs is energy, so if you dont use it - you will wear it.

Habit 6: Don’t drink beverages with more than 0 calories. Drink water as your habitual beverage and green tea is also a great choice.  Coffee in moderation works too.
The emergence of Starbucks, Costa and other coffee places has escalated the poor food we all consume. Ive mentioned in earlier blogs that about 1/month i enjoy a ice blended frappacino (which i consider a dessert) but unfortunately folk seem to think this is coffee! Its not at all. Coffee places are riddled with dead calories, stick with the simple choices like Americanos, Expressos, Nuts and fruits and get out of there with the same size waist as you went in!
Black gold!

Check out the shooping list below, how many of these do you consume regularly?
Carbohydrate (Low GI)
Wholemeal bread
Wholemeal pasta
Wholemeal rice
Peanut Butter
Cottage Cheese
Hazel Nuts
Beans, pulses, wholegrains

Olive oil

Flaxseed oil
Soya Milk

Natural yogurt
If you stick to this list (90% of the time) you will be fine. Remembering that carbs are best eaten after exercise. If you cant or 'dont like' any of the foods above i really cant help you. Really. Make some sacrifices in terms of taste to get a better result - if you are one of the people who are overfat and "want to lower bodyfat levels" - PLEASE stop having an opinion on food and 'schooling' others on nutrition.
Step 1: seek out somebody you want to look like
Step 2: Ask them what they did and how they did it
Step 3: Listen and use the advice

Component 2: Movement
Im keeping this as simple as i can. There are 1000s of ways to get this done and my only advice for you is basic.

If you love exercising and training...
Seek out people/trainers with the same passion as you and find out what are the most challenging and effective forms and get stuck into different programs and training phases to get better results. As training isnt your main issue, really dial in with your nutrition - this will enhance your results and really start to give you the body your training deserves. If you 'train hard to eat whatever you like on the weekend' thats ok - but really analyze that statement and ask yourself 'how long that will last before your body starts to let you know thats probably not the best way to go?'. Reward your training with proper nutrition and see better results.

Perfect example: CrossFit
Why are these girls/guys in such good shape? Because they work hard (movement) and eat towards fat loss (Paleo). Its really that simple.
These girls probably dont do 'Zumba'
If you hate exercising and training...
I meet people who 'hate' training. really i do. I assume they either dont 'get it' or don't do the right things and/or havent got the results from their particular choice of training. As im not one of these people i really can't empathise but i will give this advice... Find something (physical) that you enjoy doing and do lots of it.

Perfect example: Zumba/Danzika
At our gym, there is a dance class called "Danzika" - its basically MY worse nightmare. There about 10 x 5 minute tracks with all different dances from around the world, energetically led by our resident latin swinger David (the girls love him). Every single class is full of 20+ smiling faces and they all leave sweating and laughing - its awesome. Do you think these ladies (and usually one guy - weird) felt for one minute they were 'training'? No way. They have found an escape from training in this dance class and thats great in terms of getting movement into your week.
I challenge you to find your 'Danzika' - or exercises that raising your pulse while you ENJOY. Because if you really hate 'training' then its your only answer to getting in better shape.
Did i mention i love Zumba?

Final thoughts
Combine components 1 and 2 and you should be on your way to getting in shape. If you're dancing (no pun intended) between both or simply doing 1 of the above components then you are probably unhappy and frustrated with the way you look. Match nutrtion with exercise. I dont know you but there is a 90% chance you eat far too much for your energy demands - Thats not sexy. Zumba clearly is! :)