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

Green tea
Herbal tea
All berries

Common acidic foods

Avocado oil
Sweets and chocolate

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:

...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!



Training phase 1


Progress check 1

Training phase 2

Progress check 2

Training phase 3

Training phase 4

Wrap up