Saturday, 30 November 2013

The secret weapon

L-leucine, meet the gunpowder of the bodybuilding world. By adding increased amounts of this amino acid into your diet you could literally watch your muscles blow up! Here's 5 reasons/tips as to why it's so important and could benefit your muscle building and recovery goals...



- L-leucine is a branched chain amino acid. It cannot be made in the body and must therefore be obtained from the diet.

- the amino acid leucine is essential for protein synthesis. This is because it directly activates the gene pathways responsible for building muscle.

- try adding 5g of leucine into your post-workout shake and 5g with your pre-bed meal or shake. This will literally "switch on" and pull the trigger on protein synthesis/the muscle building effect at the times you need it.

- make a mediocre meal into an anabolic powerhouse! Simply by sprinkling a few grams of leucine on it. Leucine with a protein-rich meal further increases the rate of muscle protein synthesis.

- older people, especially over the age of 40, will not experience as much of a post-workout metabolism boost unless leucine is present, therefor it may be worth adding additional leucine after your workout.



For 10% off all Myprotein products, use discount code 007PT80

Friday, 15 November 2013

Stairway to heaven

.....or hell! I did a calf workout the other day that is just pure evil! I just have to share it with you guys! Despite being extremely simplistic, it is a challenge and does involve a high amount of volume to really torture your calves into new growth! All you need is - a small dumbbell, a set of stairs and a high pain tolerance. 



The way it works is simple, you do 10 reps per leg of standing calf raises then move up a step. 10 reps per leg again and move up to the next step. And just keep working your way to the top. The beauty of doing it unilaterally is 1 leg gets a rest whilst the other is working. However if you need additional rest, especially when you get close to the top, by all means take it. 

I used a 10kg dumbbell and did 24 steps. That's a total of 240 reps of standing calf raises per leg! 

Because of the volume of this workout I'd only use it for a total of 4-6 weeks. You could even alternate it with a lower volume calf session. Or just use it once every so often as a shock tactic. 

It's easy to progress this type of workout too. You can either:

A) use a heavier weight
B) complete more steps
C) do more reps per leg
D) aim to complete the same amount of steps/reps in a faster amount of time 


After completing this session you might want to avoid the stairs for the next few days...don't say I didn't warn you! 



Thursday, 3 October 2013

Alpha male mobility

When you walk into a room, whether it be the gym or a job interview. You want people to respect you right? You want people to look at you and think "that person oozes confidence and it looks like they know what they're doing!" What do you think you can do to give this impression off? Add some lean muscle? I guess, but that isn't for everyone. Let me give you a clue, it's all about how you walk and carry yourself...Improve your posture!

I originally developed this little routine for myself, to improve my posture, mobilty and relieve tight areas. It worked! I started to notice some of my clients had the same tight areas and needed improved posture, so I'd recommend it to them. Guess what? it worked! They experienced less lower back pain, improved posture and faster recovery. Perform it at either the start of your session, end of your session or any time during the week. Aim to do it 3 times a week to see the best from it. And females don't be put off by the title, it'll have the exact same benefits for you.



Alpha male mobilty routine

IT band foam roll
A tight IT band will usually cause pain in the knees and hips! Foam rolling them will loosen them up. Aim for 60 secs each leg.

Glute hockey ball SMR
Locked up glutes will cause back pain and prevent you from squatting deep. This drill is decently uncomfortable to say the least. But bare with it. If it hurts to much, start with a tennis ball. Spend 90 secs on each butt cheek.

Quads foam roll
Tight quads will pull the pelvis down rocking it forward. This will create stress on the lower back. And if really bad, will show signs of lumbar lordosis. If the hips are out of alignment they will put the whole spine out, creating very poor posture. Spend 90 secs exploring each leg.

Fire hydrant spine twists
For this one, come down onto your hands and knees. Place one hand on the side of your head, then twist round to bring your elbow to elbow. Keep a nice flat back throughout. This will help improve thoracic spine mobility. Do 8 reps each side.

Groiners 
In a press-up position bring one foot up and get it as close to your hand as possible. Pause for a second, then change legs. This will help loosen the hip joint and relieve lower back tightness. Aim for 6 reps each leg.

Kneeling hip flexor stretch
Tight hip flexors will pull the pelvis down rocking it forward. This will create stress on the lower back. And if really bad, will show signs of lumbar lordosis. Hold each leg for 30 secs.

TRX chest stretch
A tight chest will pull the shoulders forward creating a hunched posture. The trx chest stretch will open the chest back up creating better posture. Hold for 30 secs.


As always, any questions, get in touch!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

5 mistakes you're making when training back

It's on the list - thick chest, chiseled abs, big arms and a v-shape back. But guys always struggle to build an impressive back. You can always tell the ones that lack a good back, because they walk around with their lats flared to try and compensate for the lack of width. So you've got 2 choices. 2 very easy choices. Either eradicate these 5 mistakes from your back day routine, or continue to walk round like you've got a coat hanger down your t-shirt! The choice is yours.....




You don't train it 
You might do a back day, but do you train it with the exact same intensity as when you do biceps in front of the mirror whilst the blonde treadmill bunny is watching? Probably not. 

You don't visualize 
With muscles like chest and biceps you can see the muscles working. You squeeze harder at the top of each rep and as a result the intensity ramps up, but you can't see your back. That's where you need to really work on the mind-muscle connection. Visualize your back contracting hard at the top of each rep. Imagine it getting wider after each rep. Why walk out of the gym after your session when you could be flying on your newly built wings...

You fail to hit your back with a pull, row and a lift
If you want complete back devepment, you need to hit it from all angles. The back can do 3 main movements:

Horizontal pull (rope facepull, seated row)

Vertical pull (pull ups, lat pull downs)

Hip dominant (deadlift, good morning)

You neglect grip strength 
If your grip isn't strong enough you won't be able to pull or lift a sufficent amount of weight to have a significant training effect on your back. 

You don't use a relevant tempo
Going back to caveman times when man had to catch his own food. The back and biceps were made to grab and hold. With that said, a slow tempo on the eccentric portion of exercises like dumbell rows and pull ups work really well for your back. Try 4010 (4 seconds down, 1 second up). Isometric holds also work well as a shock tactic for back training. How do you do that? Easy, hold the exercise in the top position for as long as you can. 

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Peri-workout supplements for lean muscle

I didn't start seeing proper results until I did 2 things.

1. Work harder

2. Not neglecting the fact that peri-workout supplementation is paramount!


In the last year, by focusing on these 2 points I've seen some of the best results of my life. Take a look at this before/after shot. On the left is pic from August 2012 (69kg) and on the right is one from August 2013 (73kg).



Today I wanted to talk about point number 2. Peri-workout supplementation. This basically means the supplements you take before, during and after your workout. Now I used to have a whey protein shake after my workout with a fast digesting carb. Which is great, but I was neglecting things. This was potentially holding me back from making each workout better than the last, which if you want results, is what you need to do! Now I'm forever experimenting with different products, but right now this is what I believe to be the most effective peri-workout supplement stack for lean muscle and strength gains....

PRE-WORKOUT

⚫ Caffeine - this fires up the adrenal glands and increases energy for the session. Aim for 5-10mg per kg of bodyweight. You'll have to experiment with this as its obviously going to be down to your tolerance to caffiene. You want to feel a good buzz, what you don't want is to be so jittery and shakey you can't even focus on a task for less than 5 seconds!

⚫ L-carnitine - boosts certain neurotransmitters that control focus and drive. Try 2000mg.

INTRA-WORKOUT

⚫ BCAA's in water - sip 10-15g grams of powdered BCAA's during your session. This will help prevent catabolism. BCAA's also compete with the amino acid tryptophan, a precursor to the calming neurotransmitter serotonin. In non-fitness geek terms, this means it will prevent you from getting a sleepy slump half way through your workout.



POST-WORKOUT

⚫ Whey protein - aim for 30-40g of good quality whey. This will increase protein sysnthises and help your muscles recover.

⚫ Vitargo - a fast digesting carb such as vitargo will help replenish depleted glycogen levels after your workout. Depending on your goal, aim for 50-100g.

⚫ Glutamine - this amino acid is needed for cell growth and serves as fuel for the immune system. During periods of heavy, intense training, muscle and blood glutamine levels drop quite dramatically. Therefore athletes/trainees are more susceptible to infection at this time. Glutamine after your workout will help replenish levels, and support the immune system. Go for 5-10 grams.

combine this stack with a good diet and some intense workouts, you'll see some epic results! I look forward to seeing your before/after photos...

To receive an exclusive 10% off all myprotein supplements use discount code: 007PT80


Monday, 2 September 2013

Ultimate obliques

I get asked a lot how to get those lines up the sides of your stomach. They look cool right? Ladies love 'em and they're responsible for hundreds of daily activities like twisting to pick your shopping bags up and supporting the core. Visually, the obliques help add detail to the torso and draw attention to the main event, the 6 pack. I would say they're visually one of my best muscles. Here's a candid iPhone shot I took the other night....



Now to get them showing through, your bodyfat needs to be sub 10%, so a good clean diet is a must. However training them will help strengthen and develop them so they pop through. Here's 5 of my favourite exercises I use and reccomend to everyone to train your obliques effectively.


Seated medicine ball twist - a classic! this should be in everyones routine. use an 8-10kg med ball and aim for 20-30 reps for 3-4 sets. Try to perform it with your feet of the floor for more of a challenge.


1 arm kettlebell rack walks - I love these! By using just 1 kettlebell you offset the weight and make your obliques engage more. 3-4 sets of 30 metres


Cable woodchop - aim to keep that neutral spine through this one, its so easy to mess up. Aim for 3 sets each side of 8-12 reps.


Hanging windshield wiper - this is a toughy and will leave you in bit for days after, but its a great exercise. Do as many revolutions as you can for 3-4 sets.


Side crunch to twist on exercise ball - this is a great money exercise for your obliques. They work to flex the torso up and rotate it around. Aim for 3 sets of 15 reps. If you've got the big boy pants on, hold a dumbbell or weight plate.



Pick 2-3 of the exercises each time you train your obliques and try them for 3-4 weeks to see how your body responds to them. Any questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch

Happy training!

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Lighter fluid for the fat burning furnace

A big part of fat loss is about developing little habits. Little habits that all add up to produce fast, effective results. I would urge everyone that wants to lose weight fast and effectively to incorporate these 2 habits into their daily life. Let me introduce 2 of the best fat burning drinks you can drink.....




Iced water - drinking 2L of water a day consecutivley for 6 months alone can produce up to a 5% loss  in body fat. Try adding ice, and this adds a completely new benefit. Because the ice is cold, your body has to work to warm it back up to body temperature. This raises your resting metabolic rate, meaning your total calories expended per day will increase.

Green tea with lemon - studies have shown green tea can cause weightloss from a mild increase in thermogenesis, ie. calorie burning. This is partly from its caffeine content and partly from its catechins and flavanols content. As another benefit it contains some strong anti-oxidants. Try and find real green tea leaves as opposed to the tea bags as they're much more potent. Adding a slice of lemon makes it taste a little better and helps alkalise the body. Aim for anything from 1-3 cups a day.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Desert island supplements


You join me 35,000ft up, somewhere over the Atlantic on a flight homeward bound. Amongst other things, I'm bored. There's only so many times you can watch the bleach blonde donut-haired air hostess's legs walk up and down the gangway before she gets annoyed. So to pass the time I thought I'd do something relatively productive - blog. Being this bored got me thinking, imagine if this plane was to go down, and crash land on a desert island. Much like the opening episode of 'lost'. Horrific! I know. The fitness and bodybuilding regime would crash (no pun intended) and fly right out of the window. or would it? 


Let me tell you about this island. It's population is 0. There's drinkable water. foods such as bananas, pineapples and coconuts thrive and are easily available. Seafood, like fish and crabs are available, but need to be caught. It's average temperature is 30 degrees. And the sun beats down day after day. Exercise on the island is easy as there's lots of things to push and pull. So a healthy, active lifestyle is easy to maintain. I've got one supplement in my bag. Is it the ultimate supplement to help support my new desert island lifestyle and keep me working towards my fitness and bodybuilding goals? I think so....

There's only a few supplements I'd ever recommend to my clients, because quite honestly, many of them are crap and a waste of your hard earned cash. Let me go through some of them and reveal what my 'if I were stranded on a desert island and could only take one supplement' is. 

Vitamin D - no, no, no. The "sunshine vitamin" as it's called is made in your body when exposed to uv light. There's plenty of this on the desert island.

Omega 3 - not this time. Foods such as fish and coconuts are high in good fats.

Zinc - a good choice. It will help support immune levels and maintain testosterone levels, but I think there's a better choice if you wanted more bang for your buck on this occasion.

Whey protein - not bad, your protein intake may be low depending on what food you've caught, but with only a 20kg allowance on most suitcases, a large tub of whey is a stupid idea unless your only packing 1 pair of socks, 1 pair of underwear and a toothbrush. 

BCAA capsules - yes! BCAA's made up of the amino acids L-leucine, L-isoleucine and L-valine are small, compact and extremely useful in this situation. Your diet may be lacking the full amino acid spectrum on the desert island due to unpredictable meals. Studies have shown they actually have immune strengthening properties, but what they are most known for is being the building blocks of the body. This will help build and retain lean muscle. This will keep your body in an anti-catabolic state. So you'll still be looking your best a million miles from home. So the tables will turn, and it'll be bleach-blondey air hostesses time to gawp!



Take home point from this post is BCAA caps make a great supplement choice to take away with you on vacation, if your going to be spending a long period away from home or if you plan on crash landing on a desert island. 

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Get a beach body and eat pizza!

I'm less than a week into 'beach mode' and I'm already getting bored with the bland food. So I'm experimenting with different foods all the time. Check out this carb-less pizza, everyone loves pizza right?



How to make the pizza...

Cook one chicken breast
Blend the chicken breast in a blender or mash it up with a meat cleaver.
Create the pizza base with the blended chicken
Add toppings of your choice. I used tomato purree, mozzarella cheese, mushrooms and red pepper
Season with mixed herbs
Bake in the oven for a further 10-20 mins
Enjoy....

Friday, 19 July 2013

The superhero vitamin

Vit D is synthesised in the body in response to sun exposure or it can be obtained from food/supplement form. Chances are though your not getting enough sun exposure to create optimum amounts of Vit D (especially if you live in the uk). So it might be worth investing in a supplement. Look for 'vitamin D3' as its superior to its standard vitamin D counterpart. For a long time vitamin D was simply looked at as a bone health vitamin, but studies have shown its benefits branch out more. Much, much more....


Muscle strength 

Lean body mass

Blood sugar regulation

Insulin resistance

Muscle power 

Male and female reproductive health

Cardiovascular health

Fat loss

Immune function

Prevention of obesity 

Treatment of hypertension (high blood pressure)

Kidney health

Bone strength and density 

Acts as an anti-depressant 

Maternal health


Remember, there's 3 ways you can get your vitamin D levels up 

1. Sunshine
2. Vitamin D3 supplement
3. Eat foods high in Vit D such as cod liver oil, fish, oysters, caviar, eggs, mushrooms. 

Hands down, there's no other vitamin or supplement that gives you more 'bang for your buck' than what vitamin D does. It's not only essential for your health and fitness goals, but essential for life! 


Monday, 1 July 2013

How to get a body like Candice Swanepoel

In the gym, in a bar, at a party, it doesn't matter where I may be, as soon as a I tell a girl I'm a personal trainer you can pretty much guarantee they reel of a pre-prepared speech of questions like...

(Takes deep breath)

"How can I tone the insides of my legs and loose fat from my tummy and shape the back of my arms and develop a really nice bum and make my legs look longer and tighten up my abdominal muscles and lose fat off my back?"

(Looks and me with excited eyes and a big smile)

At first I don't normally give a direct answer, I usually want to find out what their currently doing and why it's not working for them. They're responses usually always involve:

Cardio (lots of it)
Bicep curls (with weights equivalent of a baked bean tin)
Crunches
Zumba class

Sound familiar? It's great, your doing some exercise, but it will only get you so far! Obviously diet plays a huge roll in getting that Candice Swanepoel figure, its also worth noting that you are tied to your genetic limitations when it comes to sculpting your perfect body. Your bone structure will always be the same, your height will always be the same etc. Candice has a slim, lean, muscular body, defined abs and definition in her arms,legs and shoulders. She looks strong yet sexy and feminine. In other terms - Perfect!



Here's 5 things you should be doing in the gym to achieve a similar look:

Sprint intervals
Sprint training is a great fat burning and metabolism revving tool. You can get more work done in a shorter period of time and its more exciting than a 30 minute jog. Check out this blog post for more info on sprint training http://fitinfivehundredwords.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/sprints-for-win.html

Focus on money exercises
What are money exercises? These are the ones that give you the most bang for your buck aka compound exercises. Compound exercises use more than one muscle group, burn plenty of calories and rev your metabolism. Examples are - squat, chest press, lunge, romanian deadlift, kettlebell swings and burpees.

Shorter rest periods between sets
Because females generally have less overall muscle than males they are generally weaker. This means they can recover faster between sets. The effort can usually be repeated in as little as 30 seconds. A faster paced workout will also burn more calories...bonus!

Lift heavier
The ideal rep range for females is 8-15, so pick a load that is ideal for that amount of repetitions. You need to challenge yourself and give your body stimulus to change. Baked bean tin bicep curls ain't going to cut it! High reps (20+) do not help burn fat or improve definition, lifting heavy will burn far more calories and keep your metabolism revved for hours after your workout.

Keep sessions short an intense
An ideal workout should be quick and intense. The ideal time is 45-60 minutes, not 3 hours of nonsense. Long workouts will either put you in so much of a calorie deficit you look fatigued, thin and wiry or the exact opposite and raise your cortisol levels up which will hold fat around your middle. Neither one of them is the look we're going for.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

5 of my favourite things in the fitness industry

I want to start by saying I wouldn't reccomend/promote a product or brand if I didn't truly believe in it. If I reccomend it you can guarantee I've taken it, worn it or used it over and over again. There are hundreds of thousands of different brands out there in the fitness industry and it continues to grow. Currently these are some of my favourites....

Vascular wear 

Exploding onto the scene just last year, vascular wear have taken the gym clothing industry by storm. They offer a wide range of comfy, professional, clean-looking and fashionable designs from vests to joggers to shorts to hoodys. I can always be seen in the gym training with my vascular wear clothes on!

Check out their products here www.vascularwear.com and to receive an exclusive 10% DISCOUNT off all products use code AARONB10 at the checkout.






Myprotein


I've been using myprotein products for over a year now. The thing I love about myprotein is you get exactly what they say on the tin without all the BS! You can buy products in bulk for a very reasonable price and mix and match to create your own shakes. For example you could add glutamine and dextrose to your whey for a great post-workout shake. 


For an example of how I'd stack myprotein products for lean muscle, power and strength, check out a previous blog post here http://fitinfivehundredwords.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/becoming-bolt-supplements.html


TRX

I love the trx! Such a great tool for utilising your own bodyweight as resistance. The great thing about them is they can be easily transported and used pretty much anywhere! They're a regular part of my sessions and my clients' alike.


Fatgripz


Thick grip training will activate more muscle. I've used them on nearly every exercise in the past and as a result my forearms got bigger and my grip strength flew up! Definitely worth the investment.





Bobble water bottles


I feel much more focused and revitalised from drinking bottled or filtered water as opposed to tap water. Buying bottled water can be expensive especially if your drinking 3L+ a day, and carrying a big britta water filter around with you is impractical. A simple solution - the bobble water bottle. It's got a mini filter built in which you can replace every 2 months.




There are many other products and brands that are a massive part of my everyday life, but unfortunately I can't discuss them all! Maybe I'll save them for another post...  

Monday, 17 June 2013

The power of visualisation

2 weeks ago I was on a beach in Australia, 2 days ago I was in the Amazon rainforest.....
If only! But recently I have started using the power of visualisation to instantly feel chilled out from a hard days work and intense training sessions. 



Working long hours or going through a stressful time at home or work will stress your body out. This in turn will raise your levels of the hormone cortisol. This is bad news, and will effect your ability to train, lose fat and build muscle. One simple way to combat this is to use your imagination to visualise a scene in such detail it actually effects your mood and outlook. The subconscious can't differentiate between what is perceived and what is real. Therefor if you can imagine something so vividly the body will react as if its actually experiencing it. Creative visualisation will help you de-stress, ease anxiety and lower blood pressure. 15 mins in this deeply relaxed state could equate up to the equivalent of an hours sleep!
Follow the steps below and in 15 mins you'll feel so much better! Believe me...

- close your eyes and take deep breaths, imagine your in beautiful surroundings. It could be a holiday you've been on in the past, or you can conjure up something from your imagination. 

- use your senses of sight, sound, taste and smell, put yourself in the scene and and allow it to come to life. Revel in the colours, smells and sounds. I found a great iPhone app called 'nature sound'. It contains many sound samples of different scenes such as the beach or a tropical rainforest. So by playing them with your headphones on, your able to block the rest of the world out and make the scene more realistic. 

- stay in the scene for as long as possible, soaking up all the details. Then slowly bring yourself back into the room. 

- try this technique 1-2 times a week or whenever you feel stressed to help recover from exercise and everyday life.


Friday, 31 May 2013

Skinny leg cures

Any 6ft tall guy with a 32 inch waist weighing between 70-75KG is going to have an obvious weakness. Usually it's the legs! You train hard, and you do develop, but you end up looking top heavy and your middle name should be 'johnny bravo'. Sound familiar? I found myself straying towards this body shape. Until I put an end to it and started incorporating each of the techniques below into my routine. I've found these to be the best skinny leg cures. My skinny jeans began to feel tight around the thighs and my physique started to look much more in proportion. Arnold Schwarzenegger said "I accepted the fact that leg workouts simply have to be brutal to be effective". If you haven't accepted this fact then don't even bother trying any of the below... 


Heavy front squats 

Heavy front squats really thickened my quads up. Because of my height, my stature isn't suited to the back squat, so I much prefer these for heavy reps.

Power cleans from hang 

These developed strength, power and size in all areas of my lower body. I usually do 6-8 sets of 2-3 reps. Olympic style lifts such as this torch your fast twitch muscles fibres. These are the ones with most potential for growth. 

Prowler sprints and sled work

My legs responded really well to eccentric-less training. They're great for hitting the fast twitch fibres and as an added bonus they're great fat loss tools 




High volume work

Your legs hold your bodyweight up all day, so you can imagine they're very big, strong muscles and it takes a lot to tear them down! You need to push the volume up on your leg workouts if you really want to see results. Try GVT (10 sets of 10). Or if you really want push the envelope try this quads workout for 3 weeks consecutivley. I did and saw some great results. 

Front squats 10 x 6
(Superset)
Back squats 10 x 8

Signalling

Signalling is a technique that involves sending signals to your body pointing it in the direction you want it to go in. Actor Tom hardy says he has used it for a few film roles. I like to use it for my calves. Now I know it's not very practical for most to do this, but I work in a gym so I can. All I do is pick a day and aim to do 500 reps for my calves. I usually do calf press. Every 1-2 hours I would just do another 50-100 reps. It goes back to my previous point on high volume training. 

Sunday, 26 May 2013

5 reasons everyone should weight train

Your mum, dad, nan, grandad, best freinds cousin, sister, girlfriend, boyfriend, favourite superhero, neighbour should all do some resistance training. Even you should! Regardless of your goal, weight training should have some place in your workout routine. Here's 5 reasons why, and believe me I'm only just touching the surface here...


Weights dramatically change your body composition...

Training with weights has the incredible power to help you increase muscle, lose body fat, even do both at the same time! So whatever your goal you can use weights to sculpt your perfect body.

More muscle means more calories burnt at rest...

Muscle tissue is metabolically active, meaning the more you have, the more calories you will burn just to maintain that tissue. Increase your metabolic rate you'll torch through calories just by being you. Great for fat loss.

Take advantage of the afterburner effect...

Weight training is great because it creates this after burn effect. Basically your going to carry on burning calories for hours after your resistance workout because the muscles have to repair themselves and this burns calories. 

Heavy weights builds bone density... 

If you have stronger bones you'll be less likely to get injured. As you get older bone mass starts to degrade, however you can reverse this easily by incorporating some resistance training into your routine.

Weight training enhances the central nervous system...

If you have an improved cns you'll have faster reactions. This crosses over into hundreds of daily tasks and situations. For example, just dropped your keys over a drain? No worries you'll be able to react lightening quick and grab them before the even hit the drain. Some fool just took swing for you in a nightclub? No problem, you'll easily be able to squat down and dodge it. And hell, with the strength you develop, maybe even lamp them one back if they deserve it.





Weight training should not be overlooked. Period



Friday, 17 May 2013

5 carb tips for leaner body

In the run up to summer, guys and girls alike start manipulating carbs in some way in an attempt to lose fat and achieve their goals. Some cycle carbs, having a few low carb days followed by a carb up day. Some carb backload, having carbs only after their workout and some eradicate carbs all together!  A lot of the fad diets that seem to come in and out of fashion involve some sort of carb manipulation as well. But what if I said I know 5 rules you can abide by all year round that mean you'll be in great shape all year round and won't need to worry about flaffing around with carbs 6 weeks before your holiday to Ibiza or Marbella. You'd probably want in right? Well here you go....

Skip carbs at breakfast

I've touched on this point in a previous post. When you eat carbs they release serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps you sleep. Not a great way to start your day I'm sure you'll agree. The phrase "carb coma" ring any bells? A combination of protein and healthy fats for breakfast will allow for a gradual rise in blood sugar levels right up till lunch. You'll also feel more alert all morning.

Carbs at night are ok

Leading on from my last point a small portion of carbs at night is perfectly ok. The media will have you believe this is a cardinal sin! However, they will help you sleep. A better nights sleep means you'll recover faster from exercise, lose fat faster, gain muscle quicker and feel better.

Choose the right carbs for the right situation

Throughout the day you want to stick to low GI carbs. These will ensure a constant blood sugar level. However after your workout opt for a higher GI carb. The sharp rise in in blood sugar levels post work out will deliver a big insulin spike which will shuttle nutrients and glycogen back into your tired muscles, helping you recover faster.

Earn your carbs

If you live by this simple rule you'll never need to 'diet' ever again. It would be quite possible to keep a lean body all year round. The rule means exactly what it says, if you train hard you've earnt those carbs so eat them!

For weight loss avoid inflammatory grains

If your main goal is fat loss, avoiding carbs all together probably isn't the best tactic. Avoiding inflammortary grains, however is a good way forward. These include white rice, pasta, white breads and white flour. These grains are acidic (read my last post on the importance of balancing ph within the body). These refined grains also cause a rise in blood sugar and insulin. Imagine this happening every time you eat! Excess insulin in your body not only promotes the storage of inflammatory body fat, but it also activates enzymes that promote the production of inflammatory messengers. This is bad news for not only your fitness goals but also your health! 

Sunday, 28 April 2013

The importance of balancing PH within the body

Probably the most boring post title ever right? But I urge you to carry on reading because by the end of the article you'll be armed with information that will take your physique to the next level!...


It occurred to me a few weeks back, whilst my calves were burning with lactic acid from the gym and I was about to tuck into my 4th portion of meat for the day, that "damn my body must be one hell of an acidic environment!". Post exercise by-products such as lactic acid and consuming most meats leaves the body in a very acidic state. Now combine that with the fact that I've been doing this for over 3 years and the fact that I don't eat enough alkanalising foods, it wouldn't be a surprise if my blood was so acidic it would melt through any obstical in its course like a scene from the film Alien!

Now I bet your thinking "I've been training hard and eating meat for years, and I'm fine". I'll be honest, I was quite naive to the whole subject too at first. My friend, Ben Lauder-Dykes (personal trainer for Ultimate Performance gym in London) brought the subject up in conversation once, but I didn't pay that much attention and wanted to talking about more interesting stuff. So what does an acidic environment in the body mean? Well, it's been linked with insomnia (now you know how important a good nights sleep is right), headaches, aches and pains, fatigue (oh no, how are you going to train harder today than you did yesterday) and an acidic person may also be bit grouchy. Can you see how all of these could become a potential barrier to achieving your fitness, muscle building and fat loss goals!

So what, stop exercising and eating meat? Nope, just make sure you consume more alkalising foods to balance it out. Here's a list of common alkalising foods and acidic foods. You'll probably notice alot of the alkalising foods are generally acidic in nature, but once eaten and digested they leave behind an alkali residue. Vice versa for the acidic foods. 

Common alkalising foods

Broccoli
Asparagus
Apple
Lemon 
Pineapple 
Grapefruit
Orange 
Lime
Green tea
Herbal tea
Yoghurt
Eggs
All berries

Common acidic foods

Beef
Salmon 
Turkey
Lamb
Rabbit
Venison 
Lobster
Avocado oil
Oats
Rice
Milk
Cheese
Sweets and chocolate
Alcohol  



Take home tips to balance out the PH in your body...

-eat plenty of fruit and vegetables
-aim to drink more green tea
-a slice of lemon or lime in your drinking water makes it taste better and alkalises you
-try eating a grapefruit with your breakfast. As well as an alkalising effect, it helps burn fat and provides a massive hit of vitamin C




Wednesday, 17 April 2013

5 reasons you still can't get that dream bum

As a personal trainer, if a female comes to me 9 times out of 10 the areas they want to work on are the back of their arm, tummy, legs and bum. Browsing round the internet is like a minefield of false, confusing information that can leave you more confused than in the first place. So i'll keep it simple - Here's 5 reasons you still can't get that dream ass:





You don't squat deep enough 

Any piece of fitness literature aimed at women after a good bum will tell them they need to be doing squats. What it doesn't normally say is you need to squat down as low as you can. The top half of the squat activates the quads, but it isn't until you get down low that the hamstrings and glutes (bum) fire up. 

You don't train your pelvic floor 

Believe it or not, if the pelvic floor becomes dysfunctional (commonly caused by pregnancy) the gluteus maximus fibres of the bum become hyperactive as they help stabilise the pelvis and the stomach contents. This in turn will lead to atrophy (shrinkage) of other muscles of the bum. So how do you train your pelvic floor? Quite easy, in fact you don't even need a gym. Imagine your going for a wee, and you want to stop it. You don't squeeze you legs, or abs, you squeeze the muscle underneath your stomach. That's your pelvic floor. Try 3x 8-12 reps. Pause on each rep for a few seconds, relax then repeat. Just remember to keep breathing whilst you do it.

Poor nutrition

The best workout in the world won't work if you don't fuel it with proper nutrition and allow the body to recover. For some meal ideas, have a look around my blog for articles called  '5 meal ideas'. That should give you some inspiration for meals you could try. 

Tight hamstrings

Tight hamstrings will pull down on the pelvis, rocking it back. This will create the illusion the your bum is smaller than it is. If you have optimal hamstring flexibility you should be able lie on the floor and bend your leg to 90 degrees, whilst keeping your knee joint straight. 

You don't lunge wide enough

I see plenty of girls in the gym doing this pathetic little lunge, which is really only working the quads. Instead, lighten the weight and lunge forward as far and as deep as you can. This will have your hamstrings and glutes burning like nothing else and you'll be well on your way to getting that dream bum!


I really do hope this post has given you some ideas you can use in your own training to help you on the way to your goals. As always, any questions please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Cardio sucks

Cardio does suck! In my opinion I couldn't think of anything worse than getting on a treadmill for half an hour! Sometimes, however it needs to be done. For that last bit of fat loss that gets you in razor sharp conditioning for the beach or a photoshoot, cardio really does help. Here's 5 ways you could make cardio more, well, interesting...


Sprints on a static treadmill

Stand on a switched of treadmill, hold onto the front railings, lean into it and sprint as fast as you can. The weight of the belt is a great resistance to work against. It's also a great way to piss off your gym manager! Try 6 sprints of 20 secs. Resting 1 minute between intervals. 

Thick grip rowing




Try doing some rowing with fat gripz on the handles. It's great for increasing forearm activation from a bit of cv kit. I'll give you 5 minutes before your forearms are burning, and 5 weeks before your forearms start to resemble Popeyes! 

Backwards walking on a treadmill

Set the treadmill to a rather steep incline and walk backwards on it. You'll feel a burn in your quads like no other! When you walk normally your hamstrings and glutes are greatly activated, but by walking backwards it shifts emphasis onto your quads and calves helping to create balance in your lower body.

Interaval training

People still think cardio means steady state, same pace for 30 + minutes. If you're one of these I urge you to try interval training. In laymans terms this means a serious of repeated intervals, each one for a set time. For example - 30 seconds of sprinting followed by 30 seconds of walking, this would then be repeated for 10,15,20... minutes. Interval training is great for burning fat, training for many sports and its very time efficient. 

Try not doing cardio

If your ones of those "I go to the gym for an hour and stay on the treadmill for an hour"  types, take a step off. Try some weight training. Even if your goal is fat loss. Weight training creates a huge metabolic deficit, meaning you'll carry on burning calories for hours after you've finished your workout. 

Friday, 5 April 2013

Sprints for the win

Summer is just around the corner here in the UK (whether we actually get to see any sun is another question). This means a great opportunity to train outside and get a change of scenery from the same old 4 walls of the gymnasium. I love training outside, but you need some of your own kit to do it right? Wrong! You can do sprints. All you need for this is a length of grass or Tarmac and your body. Sprinting is a great fat loss tool. I reccommend starting small and working up, so try a 20 metre sprint followed by a walk back repeated 4-8 times. Like with all training this should try and be progressed either by increasing the sprint distance, decreasing rest periods or increasing number of sprints. Still need some persuasion as to why you should start sprints? Here's 5 reasons:



Sprint for fat loss

Sprints melt fat fast. Studies have shown a 10-20% reduction in body fat over a 12 week period. This obviously depends on previous exercise background and the protocol followed.

Sprint for fast twitch muscle activation 

Sprinting is an extremely explosive activity, which means it is fantastic for activating the fast twitch fibres which could lead to hypertrophy is these muscles. Sprinting is also great at releasing anabolic hormones, testosterone and GH. Both are great for muscle building and losing body fat.

Sprint for a time saving workout

You can have a good sprint workout in 20-30 minutes, warm up included!

Sprint for increased endurance

Don't be fooled into thinking for increased endurance you HAVE to train for endurance. Sprint training can help increase endurance. It does this by teaching the muscles to store more glycogen, meaning you'll have more gas in the tank when you need it and sprints teach your body to remove waste products more efficiently from the muscles during training.

Sprint for improved heart health

It goes without saying, any form of exercise is going to improve your heart health which has a positive knock on effect throughout the rest of your life. Sprinting makes your heart work very hard, compared with aerobic training. 


Last summer I combined sprint training with weight training and did 3 days in the gym followed by 1 day outside doing sprint drills. Such a great way of training! Check out the workouts for that program here: http://fitinfivehundredwords.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/becoming-bolt-4-week-sprint-inspired.html



...Sprints for the win!

Monday, 1 April 2013

The lean bulk (revisited)

Around this time last year I had just finished my 'lean bulk' programme I planned for myself. I gained over 2KG of lean muscle in 10 weeks and kept my bodyfat in single digits throughout (yeah, it can be done). With summer rapidly approaching I thought it would be a good time to re-post the programme to help you get in the best shape of your life for summer 2013. Here's every link, for every post related to my lean bulk - Diet, workouts, supplements, progress updates....everything! If you try it out, I would love to hear from you and how you got on. Enjoy!

Introduction

http://fitinfivehundredwords.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/lean-bulk-introduction.html

Supplements

http://fitinfivehundredwords.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/lean-bulk-supplements.html

Training phase 1

http://fitinfivehundredwords.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/lean-bulk-training-phase-1.html

Diet

http://fitinfivehundredwords.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/lean-bulk-diet.html

Progress check 1

http://fitinfivehundredwords.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/lean-bulk-post-phase-1-progress-check.html

Training phase 2

http://fitinfivehundredwords.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/lean-bulk-training-phase-2.html

Progress check 2

http://fitinfivehundredwords.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/lean-bulk-phase-2-progress-check.html

Training phase 3

http://fitinfivehundredwords.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/lean-bulk-training-phase-3.html

Training phase 4

http://fitinfivehundredwords.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/lean-bulk-training-phase-4.html

Wrap up

http://fitinfivehundredwords.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/lean-bulk-wrap-up.html

Sunday, 31 March 2013

'The Hill' running video shoot

This year I said to myself that I wanted to explore some different forms of fitness media. I've done the whole photoshoot thing, so what about some acting/videography?

Well here it is, my videography debut - a short montage of an athlete doing hill sprints in a forest/mountainous type terrain. The short clip shows the athlete reaching the top after giving it everything, followed by the descent to 'recharge' and do it all again...


http://vimeo.com/62577033


I've also got to give a shout out to photographer James Carnegie, who did a fantastic job filming and editing the footage. Check out more of his work here...

http://www.jamescarnegie.co.uk/

Sunday, 24 March 2013

The sleep smoothie

Leading on from my last post about sleep, It got me thinking over the weekend about a drink you could have before bed to induce sleep, prevent catabolism during the night and leave you feeling refreshed and recovered the following morning. Which in turn will speed up progress towards your fitness goals. Well, here's what I came up with: The sleep smoothie.....




What? Chocolate casein protein powder. How much? 30g scoop. Why? Casein protein generally has a very slow digestion speed, which makes it perfect to have before bed as it acts as a drip of amino acids to your muscles throughout the night.

What? Banana. How much? 1 medium sized. Why? A banana contains high levels of melatonin and serotonin which act as a neurotransmitter, calming your body into sleepy, relaxed state. In addition, they are also high in magnesium which can act as a muscle relaxant. And let's not forget chocolate and banana tastes amazing together!

What? Semi skimmed milk. How much? 300ml. Why? It creates the base of your smoothie. As well as containing high levels of casein protein, it also contains calcium, which works in the brain to help regulate the production of melatonin. 

What? Cottage cheese. How much? 3 heaped table spoons. Why? As well as thickening the mix up a bit, cottage cheese contains high levels of the amino acid tryptophan, which will naturally induce sleep in your body. It does this by helping to facilitate the production of serotonin. 

What? Peanut butter. How much? 1 tablespoon. Why? Healthy fats slow digestion down, keeping you fuller for longer. Perfect over night when you won't be eating for 8-9 hours! Peanuts are rich in niacin, which is another nutrient that helps release serotonin within the body. 

If you follow the ingredients and portion sizes as listed, the macronutrients of the shake will roughly look like this....

Kcal: 475kcal
Protein: 45g
Carbohydrates: 49g
Fats: 11g

I wouldn't recommend the smoothie every night, but rather if you've had a long, hard day and are in need of extra good nights sleep. Enjoy....

Friday, 22 March 2013

Zzzzz

I wanted to discuss sleep today. Without boring you and sending you to sleep by raving on about the benefits of sleep and why it's important (you probably already know to be honest) I just wanted to give some pointers for a more productive sleep, which in turn will help recovery from exercise and create a better hormonal environment within the body for muscle gains, fat loss and ultimate performance. 

So here we go, 5 tips for a better nights sleep tonight....


Turn your bedroom into the batcave....

Turn off all electrical items. This includes televisions, radios, alarm clocks, lights, mobile phones. Everything that could emit light or sound and could potentially distract you / wake you in the night.


Have a curfue....

Ideally aim to be in bed, asleep by 10pm every night. A good nights sleep is a habit, and sometimes you need to skip that late night repeat of Geordie shore. Discipline yourself, you're the boss.


Carbs in the evening are ok....

Contrary to what the media will have you believe, carbs in the evening are ok to eat. The consumption of carbohydrates stimulates the production of serotonin. This acts a neurotransmitter which can help calm your body and send you into a deeper sleep (that's where the 'carb coma' comes from). It also helps with mood and controlling your appetite. 

Wake up naturally....

If you're getting enough sleep you should wake up naturally, without an alarm. If you need an alarm, that's fine just try going to sleep earlier. There's nothing worse than being woken up by an alarm ringing in your ear when you feel you could do with an extra hour, or two!


Supplement your sleep....

If you're ticking all of the above boxes, then why not try a sleep supplement, which can give you an ultimate nights sleep. For example 5-htp. This supplement helps create serotonin, which goes directly back to my previous point about carbs.



Follow all the above points and you'll be sleeping like a baby! And growing like one too...



Sunday, 10 March 2013

5 mistakes your making when training chest

Women appreciate your chest just as much as you do theirs! Chest is by far one of the most popular muscle groups trained in the gym, especially on a Monday night, where there is usually a que for the bench press. Now ask yourself this - have you seen the chest development from your training routine you deserve in the last 8 weeks? No? Well that's probably because your making these mistakes....



Mistake 1 - pumping the bar up and down like a piston on the bench press

Instead try a 40X0 tempo. This means 4 seconds down, then forcefully explode the weight to the starting position. The slow eccentric movement really causes some damage to the muscle fibres and the forceful explosion recruits the fast twitch type 2 fibres (the ones with most potential for hypertrophy). You won't be able to lift as much, but your pecs don't know that do they?

Mistake 2 - not training from a variety of angles

Each session should involve a variety of angles (flat, incline, decline). I always start by hitting my weakest area when I'm fresh and strong. Right now that's my upper chest, so incline presses usually come first in my workout.

Mistake 3 - not warming up properly

In my opinion a few light sets of your first exercise isn't substantial enough to get your muscles ready to perform optimally. You should also be incorporating some dynamic exercises, such as shoulder circles and shrugs.

Mistake 4 - neglecting the importance of grip width 

When was the last time you purposely did a super wide grip bench press? Probably never right. But did you know a wide grip bench press is better at targeting the outer pec, whereas a close grip bench press is better a hitting the inner pec and triceps. To see great chest development you must also alternate your grip width as well as your bench angles. 

Mistake 5 - being a sheep

It's quite a funny scene on a peak Monday evening at a commercial gym in the free weights area. Everyone that's training chest seems to follow each other about exercise after exercise. It usually starts with a barbell press variation, then a dumbbell press variation, then maybe a dumbbell flye variation and last but not least a standing cable flye. All 4 sets of 8-12 reps, and people do that week after week after week. That's a sure fire way to stagnate your progress! There are other exercises you know, and other pieces of kit. Why not drop a bit of TRX or bodyweight in there? Or even (dare I say it, but they do have their place) a machine! You could even try pre-exhaust technique and start with flyes for a change. The options are endless.....

Thursday, 7 March 2013

5 quotes that will change your outlook on life

I love a good quote! Here's 5 of my favourite ones that really influenced my outlook on life, relationships and training.....


"When something goes wrong, smile, cause there's always next play." Ray Lewis

Sometimes things in life don't always go how you planned in your head. You might have a chest and arms workout lined up that you can't wait to do, but then you might get sick? A good relationship might go bad? but remember, smile, because there is ALWAYS a next play!... 

"Each time I step on the basketball court, I never know what will happen. I live for the moment. I play for the moment." Michael Jordan 

Each time you step out of your front door, you never know what's going to happen. Live for that. 

"I firmly believe the only disability in life is a bad attitude." Scott Hamilton 

So many people in life with a physical disability have achieved much more than ever imaginable. All due to their positive mindset and right attitude. What's your excuse?

"Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength." Arnold Schwarzenegger 

It really is true - what doesn't kill you can only make you stronger. 

"Friendship is not something you learn in school, but if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything." Muhammad Ali 

Never underestimate the power your friends have to support you, motivate you and keep you sane when times get hard.