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...

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...

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


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.