Sunday, 27 November 2011

The lean bulk (supplements)

So, day 1 of my ‘lean bulk’ has arrived and I’m itching to get back in the gym after a long and lazy week of resting. In this post I’ll talk you through the supplements I am going to be using over the next 10 weeks to aid in my recovery, strength and general health. Most importantly I’ll tell you WHY I’m taking them! Without further ado, here they are…

What? (pictured from left to right)
Whey protein
 - 20g  whey between breakfast and lunch
- 20g whey between lunch and dinner
- 30g whey in post workout shake
Weeks 1-10
Protein is necessary for muscle growth and repair. Whey is relatively fast digesting making it ideal to bridge the gap between meals and immediately after your workout.
Waxy maize starch
100g of carbs (approx. 3x70cc scoops) in post workout shake
Weeks 1-10
It’s a very fast acting, rapidly absorbed carbohydrate. Perfect for shuttling important nutrients back into the muscle and replenishing your depleted muscle glycogen levels.
Omega 3’s
8 x 1000mg per day (2 caps with meals)
Weeks 1-10
In my opinion one of the most underrated supplements you can take for muscle building. They are necessary for general health and well-being, prevention of cardiovascular disease, joint recovery after a hard training session, concentration, fat loss… the list could go on…. 
1 x 50mg capsule with breakfast
Weeks 1-10
Intense workouts increase your need for this essential mineral. It’s vital for a healthy immune system, enzyme functions and reproductive health.
Vitamin D3
50,0000iu twice a week
Weeks 1-10
Most people know this vitamin can be made in the body via sunlight, but do you really think you get enough sunlight to produce optimum levels? Its needed for improved bone strength and density, blood sugar regulation, depression, shortened symptoms of cold/flu, weight loss and most importantly muscle mass and strength!   
Protein matrix
1 scoop pre- bed (23g protein)
Weeks 1-10
Protein is necessary for muscle growth and repair. This product is a blend of different proteins meaning they break down at different speeds. Perfect for a timed realise over night while I sleep.
Kre-alkayln (PH correct creatine)
2 caps with breakfast, 2 caps pre-training
Weeks 6-9
Creatine has changed the face of sports supplementation over the last 10 years, probably because it actually works! Creatine is known for muscle strength, size, power and increased work capacity. With the PH correct creatine it doesn’t convert to creatinine in liquids (stomach etc.) before reaching the muscle. This means you get all the benefits without needing a loading phase and feeling bloated. You also only need as little as 1-3g a day as opposed to the 5-10g of monohydrate. So it could save you money.
L-leucine (not pictured)
3-5g in post workout shake
Weeks 1-10
L-leucine is an essential amino acid meaning it cannot be made in the body and must be consumed through food. It is sometimes known as the initiation amino acid, meaning it ‘turns on’ protein synthesis. Without enough of this amino acid in your blood stream your muscle building efforts may be shattered.

In my next post I will cover the workouts in phase 1 of the training J

Thursday, 24 November 2011

The lean bulk (introduction)

Without any plans for photo-shoots over the next few months, its given me a great opportunity to concentrate on other fitness/training goals of mine. What I really want to focus on is adding some lean muscle mass to my frame. A lot of people are under the impression that getting bigger is all about the “seafood” diet. You see food, and you eat it. Doing this is the completely wrong approach to adding muscle as your also gonna get fat! Body fat is dead weight and carrying it around is only going to slow you down, a scary fact that may put you off doing this is: once a fat cell is developed it can never be destroyed, it merely shrinks. Contradictory to popular belief, adding muscle without all the body fat isn’t impossible. I know through personal experience it is very achievable, you just need to be smart about the way you eat and train.
Over the next 10 weeks I’m going to be posting regular articles on different aspects of my training, dieting, supplements and workouts that I’m using to help achieve my goal. So keep your eyes peeled to keep updated with my ‘fitness journey’.
Let’s just take a quick look at why a lean bulk is more beneficial over the typical 'get fat and musclely' bulk. You still need to consume more calories than you’re expending, but don’t be under the impression you can produce more muscle just by overfeeding. Sure, the scales may not be going up as fast, but the quality of muscle you’re adding will be 10 times better!
Reasons for a lean bulk:
·         ‘Overfeeding’ wont produce any more muscle than a controlled calorie surplus.
·         Once a fat cell has been created it can’t be destroyed, it merely shrinks. This could result in lifelong fatness.
·         Changing from a full on bulking diet to a cutting (calorie deficit) diet, takes serious dedication! Anyone that’s done this will know exactly what I’m talking about.
·         In the fitness modelling industry a photo-shoot could come about at any time. Nothing worse than losing out on a job because you’re not in shape! (I learnt from this mistake!)
Without further ado, here are my current stats and basic goals outlined for the next 10 weeks:
Current weight: 70.4kg’s
current body fat: 6-8%
1.       Add 2.5kg’s of lean muscle mass over the 10 week period. Without letting my body fat get into double figures.
(To break the above goal down the scales should be increasing by 0.25kg a week)
2.       Power clean 80kg’s for 3 consecutive reps
3.       Complete 2 consecutive sets of 12 reps of ‘Fat Gripz’ pull-ups

Like all great achievements, they start with a plan. Proper planning prevents piss poor performance! To keep your body growing you need to progress and change up your workouts regularly. This is my plan from a training perspective for the next 10 weeks, starting sunday 27/11/11

Amount of weeks
Training split
Rep range
3 weeks
Body part split
3 weeks
Push/pull days
3 weeks
Push/pull days
1 weeks
Active recovery week

I will be breaking down each phase as and when I get to it, presenting each of the workouts in the phase, so watch this space!
In my next blog post I will be covering the supplements I’m using to assist in my training, recovery and performance. Last but not least, if any questions come about over the next 10 weeks please do not hesitate to contact me via email, Facebook or Twitter etc.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Density training

For all those that think achieving great fitness results means spending hours upon hours in the gym, think again! What if I said you could build muscle and burn fat in just 20 minutes? Well you can, allow me to introduce Density training. Simply put it’s a timed combination between strength training and a metabolic circuit. The loads being used are still quite heavy meaning your still working in the hypertrophy/strength range, but the pace of the workout really ramps up your heart rate keeping you in that fat burning zone.

Tip 1: be a clock hawk
  I like to call on DT’ing sessions when I’m busy and don’t have much time to train, but they also work great if you wanted to use them 3-4 times a week as your main training mode. I also like to use a full body session, as I find the total amount or muscle recruited keeps the heart rate ramped up even more, but you could also use an upper body/ lower body session or a chest and back session etc. When putting together your own full body DT’ing session these rules should be followed:
·         Choose five exercises from the following menu
A.      Explosive
Jump squat, box jump, BB snatch
B.       Knee or hip dominant
Front squat, overhead squat, Romanian deadlift
C.      Upper body push
Bench press, DB shoulder press, press-up
D.      Upper body pull
Fat gripz pull-up, DB rows, BB row
E.       Abs
Ab roll out, crunch, lying leg raise

·         Use loads that allow you to reach 8-12 reps per exercise. Make it challenging, but you shouldn’t be missing reps at any point during the workout.
·          Start a stop watch and move from exercise to exercise as fast as you can resting only as much as you need to complete the next set. As a guide you should be aiming for a set per minute.  Do this for a total of 20 minutes.
·         Sessions can be progressed by either adding more weight, more reps or completing more total sets during the 20 minute work period.

For todays DT’ing session the exercises, loads and reps I picked are:
A.      seated pause 30” box jump (0kg/8 reps)
B.      overhead squat (12.5kg/8 reps)
C.       DB bench press (30kg/8 reps)
D.      bent over reverse grip BB row (50kg/8 reps)
E.       valslide pike (0kg/8 reps)

Tip 2: create your own workspace and have all the equipment/ exercises ready to go before your workout begins
In the 20 minute work period I completed 19 sets, that’s almost 4 rounds of the circuit!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

thinking outside the 'fitness' box

Take a look on any strength and conditioning or fitness website and there are thousands of tools available for you to use to help you achieve your goals. Fitness goes much further than just the weight room and rows of cardio machines! There are tyres, sleds, prowlers, battling ropes, TRX, valslides, speed ladders... this list could go on and on. Some of them look great fun to use, but unfortunately may be unavailable due to cost, time or poor weather conditions (for the outdoor activities). Although these are superior forms don’t worry, there are still hundreds of similar alternatives that can be done in the gym environment. It just calls for you to think outside of the ‘fitness’ box. The following few examples take a look at some of my favourite strength and conditioning tools and present a feasible, easy to learn gym-based alternative.
·         Prowler sprints
What are they and what are they good for?

A small metal frame work that can be loaded with plates to add resistance it has 3 runners that are in contact with the ground.  They are fantastic for adding leg mass, improving overall fitness, strength gains, speed gains and inducing nausea!

…and the alternative:
Stand on a switched off treadmill and place your hands on the top of the machine (above the settings buttons) using the weight of the belt as resistance  lean forward slightly and sprint as fast as you can for 10-20 seconds.

·         Gliding fitness slides/ valslides
What are they and what are they good for?

2 ‘shoe sized’ pieces of plastic with a grippy top and slippy bottom. They can be used for pikes, mountain climbers, seal walks and even sprints if you place your hands on them and sprint forward on carpet or wooden flooring. They are generally great for getting a core workout and general fitness. Without slating any of these popular products as they are fantastic, they can be expensive. £40+ for 1 pair is of the norm!  

…and the alternative:
Furniture slides! Designed to put under furniture making it easier to move, they are perfect as a cheaper alternative. For £6 I got 8 slides! The picture below shows an example exercise you could use them for – pike. Great for hitting the lower abs region.

·         Backwards sled drags
What are they and what are they good for?

A metal sheet with a singular vertical-pointing pole used for adding weight plates. They are commonly dragged by a rope or TRX for a set distance. They are great for leg development, particularly the vastus medialis of the quads (the tear drop shaped muscle above the knee).

…and the alternative:
Using a cable machine attach a rope and set it at knee height.  Holding on to the rope squat down until your quads are parallel to the ground. Forcefully walk backwards keeping your toes up on the knee extension. You’ll be surprised how far you can walk back before the weight stack hits the top.  When you can't go any further back, stand up and under control walk back to the start. Repeat for reps.

I hope this post encourages you to think outside the ‘fitness’ box. If there’s an exercise or conditioning tool that you would love to try, but is unavailable then dissect the movement down. What muscles are you using? What plane of movement are you working in? What can I use in the gym that will be a similar movement? The possibilities are endless…