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

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"