Archive for April, 2013

How many people do you see in the gym looking to build muscle stay the same every week and eventually quit or claim that it takes years to build muscle?

Too many! I’ve only been training properly for 1 year (and eating properly for 4 months) and I’ve seen more change in myself than anybody else in the gym I work at, so I’m just as much as a newbie as anyone else but I seem to be the only one applying progressive overload to my body!

Progressive overload is simply the continually increasing demands on the neuromusculoskeletal system in order to continually make gains in muscle size, strength and endurance. In other words, lifting more than what your used to in order to make your muscle grows and adapt to the stimulus. It’s an evolutionary adaptation, our bodies strive to survive and if there is a stimulus which can potentially threaten its survival it will rebuild bigger and stronger.

Obviously if you always lift the same weight for the same sets and reps than it will always stay the same size, on top of that if you stop lifting a stimulus your body will atrophy and decrease in size as it will have no reason to maintain that volume of mass for survival (body strives for homeostasis remember so doesn’t want to be wasting extra energy feeding muscles which aren’t necessary).

I’ve recently started a new training program in which every time I repeat a workout (ill repeated that specific workout weekly) I HAVE to increase either the number of reps or the weight lifted to ensure that I keep on growing (literally just started this routine so can’t comment on effects yet but will be surprised if I don’t grow). My trainer is Jordan Peters (trained by JP) and I urge you to check him out on Facebook if you want to learn!

There are several different variables which can be manipulated in order to maintain progressive overload is ensured, so lets take a look at them:

– resistance lifted – if you have always been lifting the same weight for the same amount of sets and reps than its time to increase it. If your Able to do more reps than the target amount than its definitely time to move on up on the weight lifted

– sets – instead of doing 3 sets why not do an extra? Yes it will be harder but that’s the point! Break to build 😉

– reps – yes we’ve all heard that doing between 6 – 12 reps is the ‘hypertrophy’ range but I’m willing to bet that instead of doing 8 reps and doing 5 for a change will make you grow to a certain degree. Everybody is different so change it up and change the reps.

– frequency – how many times do you train a week? 3-4 I’m guessing and potentially doing just a basic split (back and biceps, chest and triceps and legs and shoulders for example). Well that means over a year your only training each body part 52 times. Well why not try doing a upper body/lower body split, that will immediately double your frequency and you’ll be training each part 104 times a year rather than 52. Extra chance for growth? I think so!

– exercises – only doing one Tricep exercise a workout? Try putting another one on top and see what happens! I’m willing to bet it could make a change!

– rest time – decrease your rest time and give your muscles less chance to recover than annihilate them again.

As you can see changing the intensity and the volume is easy. If hypertrophy is your goal than these should be fundamentals within your weekly cycles to ensure constant growth. It’s important to note that there is more than one way to skin a cat and one size most definitely does not fit all, what works for your best mate doesn’t necessarily work for you. Mix things up and change all the variables and see what works best for you (assessing body composition changes every 3-4 weeks, not every day!).

Sounds pretty simple to me I think, obviously I haven’t even got started on nutrition here which is also going to be massively persuasive on how much growth is possible for you!

Good luck guys!

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Okay my first rant about the general/normal population about the mentality and ignorance which surrounds it in regards to this country’s current level of health and fitness. I call the majority the general or normal however words such as uneducated and/or lazy all come to mind (not for everyone, just seems to be for most).

To start this off I’m going to give some statistics and than I’ll come back and explain each one:
– 1 in 20 people have diabetes in UK and by 2025 over 5 million people will have it.
– in 2012 23,000 people under 17 had diabetes
– over 25% of the adult population is classified as obese
– 3/10 boys and girls aged 2-15 are classed as obese in 2012
– by 2025 nearly 50% of male adults and 40% female adults will be obese
– average person consumes 68g sugars daily
– consumption of soft drinks has more than doubled since 1985
– average child aged 1-4 consume 57g sugars daily
– all of these problems can be correlated to increased risk of developing a serious health disorder

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If these stats don’t sicken you than turn away now because its only going to get worse (and if the thought of your kids kids growing up obese and ill doesn’t cross any moral barrier than you need to question yourself morally as a human being). When did we allow it to be okay to become a health decreasing nation who finds it acceptable to ‘treat’ themselves to a chocolate bar/cake/alcohol on a daily basis only to further neglect what their body needs in order to become well nourished, energised and healthy.

Tell me when the following has ever become ACCEPTABLE to our society:
– elevated cardiovascular problems e.g. Heart disease and strokes
– greater longstanding illness
– increased blood pressure
– increased dental problems
– greater cancer risk
– behavioural problems (abnormal psychological behaviour)
– birth defects (I.e. disrupted metabolism)

So why have we allowed such problems to develop through poor nutrition! It makes no sense to me! I’m guessing the following would be an answer if I asked people of the street:
– convenience (food choice wise)
– cheaper (healthy v fast food)
– taste

Lets break down these answers:

CONVENIENCE
In other words its easier to grab a chocolate bar, or cook a microwaveable meal than it is to cook up a home made meal. I 100% agree that yes it is a more convenient way of living and if it was physiologically advantageous to eat and live this way than I wouldn’t have a problem. But guess what? It isn’t, so i guess you no what I’m about to say next, but before I do think about this:

“Arguments of convenience lack integrity and inevitably trip you up” Donald Rumsfield

Kind of sums up what I’m trying to get across. Just because something is convenient, doesn’t make it right or acceptable. Basically just suck it up and make a decent meal so one day you won’t have to suck it in.

CHEAPER
This is a topic I can strongly reflect upon being brought up in a house where money was tight and obviously priorities of house bills and necessities such as the car and the mortgage took the bulk of income. HOWEVER it’s definitely not as expensive to eat healthy as people seem to believe, now I no most will be thinking “going organic is to much” or “I can’t afford 6 meals a day” but you can make so many more simple changes to what you put in your mouth without costs going up I.e. buy more vegetables instead of crisps, buy porridge for breakfast, buy meat in bulk at beginning of month and freeze it. I could put together a nice little menu for everyone but you can all use your own time for that if you care that much (if you’ve read this far than I’m hoping you do actually care).

If you want a few examples go and add Phil Learney on Facebook and look at his posted images where he has designed cheap and healthy meals for less then a £1 each!

TASTE
This one is the most frustrating to deal with, the taste and attachment people get associated with food for is classically from a carbohydrate source which means its giving you a very quick short term spike in insulin and increased energy followed by the inevitable crash after it wears off. Is that taste worth it? Was eating that one “tasty” muffin worth the rise and fall in energy and heightened insulin resistance leading eventually (potentially) to diabetes, heart problems, slowed metabolism etc etc. I’m not saying that eating only one will cause this (far from it of course) however why run the risk of getting into the carbohydrate addiction cycle and spiralling downwards there after. Just not worth it in my eyes. Obviously there are exceptions when people are aiming for fat loss when refeeds/cheat meals become appropriate but in the day to day diet it just shouldn’t be welcome in my eyes, as our bodies can’t deal with the current amount of sugar just because its a nice treat.

“Your not a dog, you don’t need a treat” Learney, 2013.

I just started writing this article because certain people and advertisements frustrated me and wanted somewhere to write up my anger, instead of taking it all out in the gym for a change ;). If you’ve read this far than I’m impressed because I’m definitely making this longer than it needs to be, even this sentence.

What can we do than?
I have no magic pill, all I have is basic tools to use which will be hard at first but hardworking always pays off!
– throw out any man made foods
– buy fresh vegetables from local farm market (2 x a week ideally)
– avoid dairy (to start with)
– eliminate wheat
– eliminate all gluten
– if you can catch it, kill it or pick it you can eat it (no not picking from the shelves, I mean from the ground – good try)
– wake up every morning with a smile

All my clients do the above and have ALL had success from it (body composition wise, energy levels and general well being) so why not give it a try?

Share like and comment guys!

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– J.K Rowling had twelve publishers rejected a manuscript, one accepted to publish it but told her to get a day job because their was no money in children’s books. J.K Rowling wrote the Harry Potter series.

– Walt Disney’s first animation company went bankrupt, fired by a news editor because he lacked imagination and got turned down 302 times before creating Disney world.

– Albert Einstein. Couldn’t speak until he was 4, couldn’t read until he was 7. His parents thought he was handicapped. He than won a Nobel prize and became the face of modern physics.

– The Beatles. Rejected by many record labels “guitar groups are on the way out”, eventually signed with EMI and became one of the biggest bands in history.

– Michael Jordan. Cut by his high school basketball team and turned out to be one of the greatest basketball players of all time.

Now think about how many times you said to yourself that they’re lucky, they new the right people or their genetically gifted. I’m willing to bet these people would strongly disagree with them comments. I personally believe that every single one of us on this planet are individually gifted, we just sometimes ignore our potential and become distracted by other things and lose sight of our individuality.

Success
“A person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains fame, wealth etc”

I haven’t achieved any large amounts of success, I haven’t achieved anything truly remarkably significant which I consider to have made a positive change on society so I am not writing this article based upon success, I am writing this article based upon my many failures and curiosity into how to become successful.

Looking at the above examples of famous people I notice that success is correlated with failure. When you watch a baby crawling around trying to stand up what happens? They fall over countless number of times, they will bang their head, they will hurt themselves and cry and guess what else they do…they persevere, they carry on trying, they don’t give up and then they can stand up, then they can walk then they can run. Personally that’s how I think all humans are born, with drive, with determination and with courage in order to attain a healthy stable living environment. Because we realise if we can’t even stand up than how would we be able to feed, wash and look after ourselves?

So what happens as we grow up? Many of us lose that venom to keep on succeeding in other areas of life. This could be attributed to desire and reliance, is there any need to gain anything else if we’re already in a sustainable environment? Why should I keep working hard when I have already got everything I want? I can’t lose fat because it’s to hard! The desire has gone and the bulk of people seem to run out of motivation and just adopt to living In an easy way of life where their life plateaus and they no longer have to take risks, or their scared to take risks just in case they ‘fail’ and lose what they had. Sadly society has seemed to develop into a lazy reliant nation where we our given our basic needs for survival for free and not made to work for it (money like benefits and convenient foods which are cheap and easy).

Motivation, in my eyes, can be broken down into two words “motive” and “action”, you need both to create motivation. Without a motive you have no action, without a desired end goal you have no reason to get up and do what you got to do. Now write down in front of you what you want to do with your life, not what you want to achieve but why you want to achieve it.
– so what if you become manager of your company? What’s your motive?
– so what if you win player of the year? What’s after that?
– so what if get a 1st class honours in your degree? What’s after that?
– so what if you buy that car you’ve dreamed of? What you going to do now?
– so what if your top goal scorer? What’s next?
– so what if you get a promotion? What’s after that?

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“God made man to go by motives, and he will not go without them, any more than a boat without steam or a balloon without gas” Henry Ward Beecher

What drives your action? What moves it? What’s the purpose? What’s your why? This article is a reality check for myself so ill use myself as an example. A typical day for me consists of 7 hours of sleep, so that’s 17 hours left in a day to become successful (or work towards it), than I prepare my food for the day which takes around an hour so I have 16 hours left. It takes about 30 minutes to get to work and back home so another hour has gone, 15 left. I spend an hour and half working out so that’s 13.5 hours left. I probably spend around 30 minutes on my phone, 1 hour in total eating all my meals and than around 30 minutes walking between gym sites, that’s 11.5 hours left. Ill do a gym shift most days for 8 hours, that’s 3.5 hours left. That’s 3.5 hours left to be successful and do what I got to do to succeed and read, learn, try, fail and repeat. The question to myself is can I become more efficient and use my time more wisely because I know for a fact I’m going to struggle to become successful from 3.5 hours a day, I need to have my end goal in sight and constantly working towards it.

“Time is free but its priceless. You can’t own it but you can use it. You can’t keep it but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you never get it back” Harvey MacKay

Success is intentional and deliberate, people don’t just happen to become successful by accident. You got to put in time to feed your motive, you got to wake up first thing in the morning and not hit the snooze button because you want to succeed, because you no what your why is. Now looking at myself, can I improve what I’m currently doing to become successful? Hell yes! Because at the moment I only have 3.5 hours left a day to do what I got to do, and if for one moment I think that I’ll become what I want to be by only working hard for that little time I got another thing coming and reality is going to come crashing down on me.

The above example of my day was me about 3 months ago, I’ve changed since than and I plan on continuing to adapt and grow and improve. Even though its only a small achievement, I am now the first personal trainer to make a profit from working where i am located, I have got the most clients any personal trainer has ever had working in this gym. What did I do that was different from above?
– I now listen to podcasts, audio tapes and read articles, blogs and research papers during my empty time (walking between gym sites, travelling to work, eating and making food)
– I download articles before bed to read for the next few days
– I make my food on two separate days and make enough to last the week
– doing gym shifts I try to apply and teach anything I have recently learnt by telling gym members. I get more interactive with people than I previously did.
– I have stepped up my game on how I deal with my clients, every single one of my clients in 2013 have dropped inches from their waist and/or gained muscle (I only have clients for body compositional changes)

Now don’t get me wrong some people are perfectly happy in their environment and don’t want to achieve anything else, that’s absolutely fine. This article is intended for those who get jealous of people having more money than you, or people who are happier than you, or people who are more successful than you. Just remember your not living your life for anyone else but yourself so go do what you got to do.

“Don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t do something. Not even me. Period”. Will Smith (Pursuit of happiness)

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Gluten

Gluten free diets is a bit of a buzz topic at the moment and more and more people seem to be switching to a “gluten free” diet. Market research specialist Mintel estimated UK’s gluten free market at around £160 million in 2012 and is predicted to hit around £561 million within 5 years. Does it make it a healthier option to buy gluten free products rather than normal? And is it really necessary to go gluten free?

What is gluten?

Gluten is just a protein (glue in Latin), and acts as a binding protein (hence glue), without gluten all breads would look like pancakes! It is typically found in foods processed from wheat and grain e.g. Barley and rye. Structurally gluten is actually made from 2 proteins called prolamins and glutelins, the types of these 2 proteins however vary depending upon the source:
– Wheat: Gliadin, Glutelin
– Rye: Secalin, Rye glutelin
– Barley: Hordein, Barley glutelin
– Oats: Avenin, oat glutelin

Why go gluten free?

Gluten free diets originally came about to help celiac disease patients. Celiac disease is a condition in which eating gluten causes an abnormal autoimmune response that damages the intestines. Resulting in an inability to absorb nutrients properly and efficiently…not what you want if improving your health is your goal. People with celiac disease are more likely to develop arthritis, Addison’s disease, Down’s syndrome, intestinal cancer, intestinal lymphoma, lactose intolerance, thyroid disease and type 1 diabetes.

How does gluten cause disruptions in our intestines?

A fantastic explanation of this problem is explained by Jordan Feigenbaum from http://www.thefitcoach.wordpress.com.

“Digestion primarily occurs in the duodenum (in small intestine), whereas absorption primarily occurs in the jejunum and ileum. We can think about the small intestine as a long tube with finger-like projections known as villi. The layer of cells covering the inside of this digestive tube are called enterocytes and these cells interact with any and all food particles including gluten and its main component Gliadin and glutenin. Enterocytes are sealed off between each other by whats know as tight junctions (zonula occludens), which is made up of three distinct proteins: cadherins, zonulins and occludins. We can generally think of tight junctions in the gut as being impermeable or resisting the transmission of any molecule, substance or compound between the cells. In a healthy person this would mean that absorption of nutrients happens directly across the enterocyte and not in between them.”

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The problem which arises is when the Gliadin and the glutenin interact with the enterocytes directly causing a disruption of these tight junctions in the small intestine. Several molecular changes occur resulting in an opening in the small intestinal wall…not what we want as when exposed to chronic openings in this wall unwanted molecules and substances move into the body’s blood steam directly causing autoimmune responses such as inflammatory responses (this problem is also referred to as leaky gut syndrome).

What to take away from this?

I would recommend you go gluten free and avoid wheat products and processed foods. However I wouldn’t recommend you go and buy loads of gluten free products as they will have just replaced the gluten with other additives and things our bodies don’t need. Eat natural from nature, if you can catch it, kill it or grow it than eat it and you should be pretty safe. If you eliminate gluten and decide to add it in again check for the symptoms:
– gastointenstinal problems (gas, bloating, abdominal cramping, constipation, diarrhoea)
– headaches/migraines
– irrational mood shifts
– fatigue after meals
– neurological problems I.e. dizziness and balance problems

*remember if you add in gluten to your diet of a period without than make it a slow process so you can figure out which food problems bring up the problem I.e. may have problems with wheat foods but not oats.