Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

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 ūüėČ

– 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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Imagine feeling like Arnie, Rocky and the Hulk all in one with enhanced strength, motivation, energy and drive. Well that was my experience of using Anabolic Designs pre workout supplement Aminotaur for the first time, and the second and ever since. When my trainer, Jordan Peters (awesome guy, check him out on facebook) told me to take it I didn’t question him but assumed it would be like all the previous ones I’ve tried (I’ve tried superpump 250, jack3d, no explode and good old coffee). How I was wrong…

I take 2 scoops pre workout and 1 scoop intra and in about 15 minutes I enter a state of euphoric awesomeness where all I want to do is my workout. All other thoughts leave my mind, I just know what I need to do and how to do it and I am BUZZING! ALL of my lifts increase by a significant amount and I have energy throughout the entire workout (no slump half way through) when taking the stuff (be it placebo or physiological, either way I’m not complaining). Even when my workout finishes and my muscles are fried my mind still wants more and I don’t feel tired afterwards (physically I do, not mentally), most importantly I don’t get that after workout crash which most pre workouts cause in my experience. So for my clients for the rest of the day I talk at 100mph, feel energised and clear minded…I felt like I had taken that nzt pill from the film limitless.

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You might be thinking “whose paying him to write such a biased review” “hasn’t he got anything bad to say about it” but to tell you the truth (believe me if you want) I just haven’t ever experienced anything like it before, my body just responds so well to it….will it respond for everyone as well, chances are no. Plus I’ve only been in the game for 4 months (eating and training perfectly) so my knowledge and experience of products is about as well nourished as the majority of the UK population – take that as you will.

Moving on from my experiences and lets dig deep into how they’ve managed, In my opinion, one of the best pre workout supplements around. I’m going to look at what I consider as the key ingredients:

PERFORMANCE BLEND
First up is their ‘performance blend’ which consists of 5000mg of AAKG, leucine, l-carnitine, l-tartrate, HICA, isoleucine, Valine. All of which claim to help in endurance, recovery, growth, blood flow and fat metabolism so lets break the key ingredients down to see how and if this is true;

– AAKG (arginine alphaketoglutarate) – has been marketed as a vasodilator in recent years and seems to becoming more popular within pre workout supplements. AAKG is said to work via the up-regulation of the endothelial L-Arginine-Nitric-Oxide pathway (for all you science geeks out there), in other words blood can get pumped to the working muscles more efficiently resulting in enhanced strength and hypertrophy (due to nitric oxide signalling to enhance vascular tone to working muscles during exercise). Despite the research seeming to swing both ways (as research ALWAYS will) there are plenty of people raving about its effects with a simple google search. AAKG in my view gets the nod.

– leucine – I don’t want to go into any detail with this one as we should know about its benefits by now (enchanted protein synthesis being the key one) however what I would be interested In finding out is the amount of leucine in each scoop. Leucine definitely gets the nod.

– HICA (Alfa-hydroxy-isocaproic acid) this is an end product of leucine metabolism and is allegedly an anti-catabolic substance. It has been suggested to reduce delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS). Also promotes anabolism (muscle growth). The metabolites from leucine and their effects (HMB is another I believe) have only recently began to surface and HICA is becoming more and more popular. From what the research suggests, it’s a must for a pre workout stack if you want to maintain/build muscle. I’m still digging around to understand the physiology behind this ingredient, which looks very interesting, so I’m sure ill be able to expand on it in the future. But not right now ūüôā

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NEUROFIRE BLEND
Then there’s the neuro fire blend (1255mg) which is comprised of tyrosine, green tea extract (non caffeinated), bacopa monniera, ashwagandha root and hyperzine A. All aimed to increase mind/muscle connectivity and alertness. The use of nootropics have become more and more popular (nootropics are any drug/supplement/food/nutraceutical that enhances mental function – in this case alertness and connectivity) and as they’re not caffeine based there isn’t the associated post activity crash (bit like sugar rush from any simple carbohydrate).

I have had a small amount of experience with nootropics back at university using aniracetam, piracetam, oxiracetam, pramiracetam, vinpocetine and DMAE (choline source, not nootropic). However I was also a student so my diet probably didn’t let me experience their full potential. But I did get awesome effects from them for the gym and for my studies.

Bacopa monniera – apart from the health benefits such as inhibiting the oxidation of LDL and VLDL as well as improving certain behavioural problems such as attention disorders and speech defects. It is also awesome at improving mental sharpness and alertness via the frontal cortical muscarinic cholinergic receptor activity (check out http://www.mindnutriton.com for a better explanation than what I’m probably giving). Therefore it has properties which improves memory, concentration and overall mental performance.

Ashwagandha – considered as an adaptogen “herbs that improves energy and athletic ability”. It’s also been shown to improve immunity (increased white blood cells), improves anxiety and has protective effects on the nervous system. Importantly it has a beneficial effect on cortisol and has been shown to help alleviate chronic cortisol levels with studies suggesting improved energy, sleep and less fatigue in participants.

I will look more into nootropics and the positive effects it has mentally soon, from previous experience I have found enhanced cognitive function from vinpocetine, aniracetam and a choline source resulting in improved workouts.

– vinpocetine – has been shown to improve memory, improve brain circulation, improved awareness, increase brain blood flow to and from the brain and aids in helping to remove free radicals and toxicity from the brain. Therefore, I believe, may be worthwhile researching and considering to also supplement with.

– aniracetam – improves focus, memory and relaxes you to allow for better cognitive and physical function.

– choline source – e.g. DMAE and alpha GPC, stimulates production of choline and results in production of acetylcholine in the brain. ACl works in the peripheral and and central nervous system, some of the functions include aiding in muscle function and decision making.

I hope this review has firstly made sense as its my first one Ive ever written, secondly given you an insight into the ingredients which makes up this awesome product. I would STRONGLY recommend giving this product a go as it definitely does what it says on the tin.

On a constructive note, I would appreciate feedback and comments on anything you feel like I’ve missed so I can improve next time I write a review.

Sources for information
http://www.mindnutrition.com
http://www.anabolic-designs.com
http://www.wikipedia.org (yeah yeah unreliable I know…)
– various other google sites for checking information (didn’t take note, sorry!)

Dream. Believe. Achieve!

The majority of the public want to improve their body composition but there are so many products in the market and it becomes all a bit confusing. Every trainer has their own approach and their own methods in dealing with clients and even the fundamentals will differ (usually because experience has taught the older trainers wiser) in regards to their most efficient ways in burning the fat. Either way here are my top 5 methods in no particular oder:

1) If you catch it, kill it, grow it than eat it

Personally nutrition needs to be taken down a notch and we as humans have developed way to fast for our bodies to keep up. In today’s world we’re surrounded by fast food, ready meals and artificially created ‘health’ foods. Lets go back as nature intended and have nutritionally dense foods packed with vitamins and minerals rather than man made garbage. I challenge any person who reads this to try it for 2 weeks and claim it had no positive change on their body.

2) resistance exercise

How many overweight people do you see in the gym who run for miles and miles on the treadmill and are lucky if they see any significant results after a month? Not many from my experience (which I appreciate is under a year and always willing to change my view point on a subject if someone can prove it to me). The problem is aerobic exercise has a positive correlation with cortisol release, accelerated ageing, oxidative stress and inflammation. Whereas resistance training (including interval training) has an anabolic hormonal effect on the body in which it can help counter the effects of cortisol and help build muscle and burn fat.

3) keep a food diary

So simple! Most overweight people UNDER eat, yes that’s correct UNDER eat. Problem is they eat to much in one sitting and not enough throughout the day. I have all my clients make detailed food diaries which they write down what they eat, when they eat, how the food makes them feel after, how much they eat and any other comments. It gives them an understanding on what their body is doing and how it’s responding throughout their time with me and teaches them how to look after themselves when I’m not around. E.g. If they have some sweet potatoes at a sitting and it bloats them out than we’ll change the carbohydrate source next time etc.

4) Sleep!

I can say I have definitely under appreciated the significance of sleep and all the wonderful things it does for our body. I went through a stage of trying to survive on three 20 minute naps a day and a 4 hour sleep each day…don’t do it. Shoot for 7-9 hours sleep, remove any lighting in your bedroom and turn it into a bat cave! Avoid any electronics an hour before bed (read or prepare tomorrows food) and see if you feel any better! The fresher you feel, the less stressed your body is, the more efficient the system is and works therefore more productivity in the gym to fight the fat!

5) increase your protein intake

I don’t care if your an intermittent faster, a 6 meal a day guy, or only want to have 3 meals a day. I guarantee if your trying to lose weight your most definitely under eating in protein (check out my other article on what protein is and does for more information). Increase your protein intake to 1g/Ib bodyweight and you’ll have a solid foundation! And I’m talking protein from clean sources such as meat, fish and eggs…not tofu, lentils and nuts (not saying their bad foods but not as high in protein). Also protein shakes do not count before you get excited at the thought of 3 shakes a day, start on the basics then supplement AFTER.

Hope you enjoyed this short article! Leave feedback and opinions!

“Suck it up so one day you won’t have to suck it in”

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Core blimey, I’m not functioning properly!
 
Core stability has been the centre of recent attention with the concept that human mobility and stability stems from a ‘core’ system working hard to maintain human movement. ¬†Exercise professionals seemed to have jumped aboard this fascination and used it to their advantage and now we currently have hundreds of classes, exercises and equipment which all claim to improve your core and function. ¬†This article will look at the anatomy of the core briefly and revise current methods used within the health and fitness industry. ¬†
 
The human body has an inner unit and an outer unit, known as the local and global systems.  The local system is in charge of mobility and stability (e.g. transversus abdominis), compared to the global system which are in charge of movement as these muscles typically cross multiple joints (e.g. pectoralis major).  
 
The inner unit has been shown to have separate neurological control compared to the other ¬†muscles of the core. ¬†The inner unit comprises of the transversus abdominis ¬†(TVA), posterior fibre of internal oblique, pelvic floor muscles, multifidus, diaphragm and the lumbar portions of longisssmus and iliocostals. ¬†Whereas the rectus abdominis , anterior fibres of obliques and the external obliques don’t have the same activation pattern. The relationship between the muscles of ¬†the inner unit have a strong impact on the stability on the lumbar region and if muscles aren’t working adequately than individuals may be predisposed to lower back pain. ¬†This is probably one of the main explanations that 80% of people will suffer lower back pain at some point in their life. ¬† When the inner unit is working adequately there should be a simultaneous activation of the pelvic floor muscles and the diaphragm to encompass the internal organs as the TVA tightens like a corset. ¬†This stiffens the trunk as the diaphragm generates intra abdominal pressure and causes a decompressive lift via the the crura of the ¬†diaphragm (L2-3) through the lumbar spine.
 
The outer unit, or known as phasic muscles, consist of the muscles which allow movement of the human body and cross more than one joint.  These are the muscles we see everybody traditionally working in the gym, and typically over activating which leads to an imbalance between the inner and outer unit leading to injury predisposition.    
 
The question is, do doing planks, sit ups, crunches and other floor based activities have any effect on function and our ability to stabilise our spine and allow us to do a variety of different movement patterns in a tri-planal fashion. ¬†The answer is most definitely no. ¬†Unless the client/patient can’t literally do anything so is forced to be lying down 90% of the time than there is no reason in which we should be training people to activate their core in these positions, or if their activities involve being in these floor positions e.g. gymnast. ¬†The inner unit needs to have isolation training to develop sensory motor control and, as soon as possible, needs to be integrated into movement patterns. ¬†Plus the constant exposure to performing endless amounts of rectus abdominal shortening exercises like crunches will only lead to shortened abdominals and an irregular 1st/2nd rib position attempting to re-correct posture to help respire which will most likely end up in a shoulder problem due to a problem within the sternoclavicular or acromioclavicular joint. ¬†Our body’s are just crazy at times!
 
Using core training which involves lunging, squatting, twisting, pushing and pulling will prove to be much more functional than telling your clients to lie down on the floor and perform an abdominal hollow ten times, unless they spend 90% of their time on floor of corse!  Obviously such exercises have a time and a place in a rehabilitation sense however when we are constantly exposed to squatting and lunging daily to do day to day tasks we need to have a more practical approach to prevent injury and improve function. 
 
What can we do?
First thing we need to address is the way our clients breath, if our clients breath leading with their chest rather than their diaphragm than they need to be re-corrected.  If we lead with our upper diaphragm, rather than our chest (which many people do!) than we start to stabilise the lumbar spine better (as mentioned above).  As our core is activated at each breath we take, we technically activate our core roughly 24000 a day so if we can correct that than we are one step closer to where we want to be!
 
Secondly, teaching the client how to abdominal brace is key and once learn we can get them to do this in low level movement patterns such as squatting and lunging.  
 
 
 
There are many great exercises and classes out there however everyone needs to be aware of what is good and what isn’t. ¬†Before doing an exercise which claims to improve just ask yourself does it match up with any of the above information?
 
In summary:
– core training should be done in day to day positions (squats, twist etc)
– control the way you breath
– get of the floor, you won’t get 6 pack abs by doing endless amounts of sit ups
– simple sensory motor patterns should be learned than progressed to more unstable surfaces e.g. Woodchop progressed to on a bosu ball.
 
 
I look forward to talking about this topic with you all guys! 
 
 
 
Dream, believe and achieve!