Posts Tagged ‘exercise’

How To Get Six Pack Abs

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

If there is one question that comes up time and time again, it’s “How do I get a six pack?” 

For every 5 questions I get asked, this is usually one of them.

Generally speaking, there is no definitive answer to this question, there are simply methods that work and those that don’t. But rather than attempt to answer it yet again, I thought a fresh point of view might be useful. And what better view is there than an established author on the subject of Fat Loss and abdominal development?

Theo M. Whittington is the author of The Fat Loss Handbook and he has not only agreed to give us some insight into how to develop your six pack, but he has also set up a fantastic deal for anyone reading this blog which he has broken down below.

But I’m sure you just want to get to it now, so I’m going to leave it to Theo to take it from here…

Everyone wants to know how to get lean, defined abs.. right?

Whether you’re a man or a woman, whether you’re 16 or 60, you’d like your midsection to look firm and flat. Today I’m going to share an excerpt from my book, The Fat Loss Handbook that shows you how to get great abs that you can be proud of. 

In recent years there have been two myths that have misguided many people, they go something like this.

  1. Doing sit ups everyday will melt away the fat and give you ripped abs
  2. Everyone has abs, you don’t need to train them –  Just lose the fat on top of them.

There’s a grain of truth to both of these but if you want to have well developed and lean abs, you must understand that these are incorrect statements. The process of achieving impressive abs is one of development and unveiling.

The development of your abs 

It is true that everyone has abs but does everyone have well developed abs? No. To say that you don’t have to work your abs and that you just need to diet is like a cast of actors saying “We’ll be there on show night, so we don’t need to practice.” It’s ridiculous, the abs must be developed.

There are three main parts of the abs that we will focus on:

  1. Rectus Abdominis -Your six-pack muscle
  2. Obliques -The internal and external obliques make up the sides of your abs
  3. Transverse Abdominis -This muscle lies beneath above muscles and acts as a corset to draw your abdomen in

The Rectus Abdominis 

The rectus abdominis is the muscle that is worked most by sit-ups, crunches and leg raises yet despite the ab training culture, this muscle is not strong or well developed in most people, this is evident from a glance around your local town or city, a trained eye will probably see many examples of lordosis of the spine partially due to weak lower abs. The rectus abdominis muscle acts to bend the spine forward, exercises such as crunches and sit-ups target the upper sections of the muscle whereas hanging leg raises target the lower part far more. Do not neglect to include a lower abdominal exercise, this area is weak in most people. 

The Internal and External Obliques 

The oblique muscles are also undertrained in most people, the obliques can be trained with twisting movements of the trunk and with side bends. The oblique muscles are very useful for reducing the size of the waist when trained and don’t thicken the waist significantly like many claim. If you want a visually pleasing midsection then some exercise for the oblique muscles is always necessary.

The Transverse Abdominis

The transverse abdominis is a very interesting muscle, especially in a world where expanding waistlines are a big concern. The action of this muscle is to draw in the abdomen, to literally make you appear slimmer. Although many fitness professionals will tell you that you can’t flatten your

abdomen with exercise, this isn’t completely true. You can’t exercise your abs and expect pounds of fat to evaporate but you can strengthen the muscles that draw your abdomen in so that your abs become firm and tight. This isn’t achieved with hundreds of sit ups, crunches or in fact any of the usual, gym- popular exercises. It is is done with an exercise called the vacuum. The vacuum isn’t an exercise you see too often and is an exercise most people never come across. In the simplest terms this exercise is ‘sucking in your gut’ but there’s a lot more to it than that. (Note: The exercise description isn’t included here, I’m afraid)

The Serratus Anterior Muscle 

Development of the abs wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the little known serratus anterior muscle. The serratus attaches the shoulder blade to the ribs at the front of the body, it is not technically a part of the abdominal muscle group but it strongly enhances the visual impact of the abs when properly developed so it is included here. The serratus anterior muscle pulls the shoulder blade forwards, it is the antagonist of the rhomboids and lower trapezius muscle. As the bench press has largely replaced the push up in many peoples resistance training routines this muscle is sometimes not developed proportionately with other muscles. The serratus is trained by flaring the shoulder blades at the top of push ups, shoulder presses and dips.

Complete Abdominal Development

Make use of these effective exercises to develop strong abs.

Hanging Knee Raise                  3-4 x 10

Abdominal Crunches               3-4 x 10

Russian Twists                            3-4 x 20

Straight-Legged Sit-ups           3-4 x 10


How to reveal your abs? For the next 14 days you can get The Fat Loss Handbook for only £9.99 (50% off) and learn effective strategies for a leaner body. I’d like to thank Mark for the opportunity to contribute to the Dynamic Core Solutions blog.

Why Your Gym Sucks!

Monday, March 19th, 2012

There is something seriously wrong with the fitness industry these days. It has become far too commercialized.

What should be an industry targeting the good of the population and be there for help and support where it is sought and inspiration where it it is not, has become far to focused on profit and money making.

Which is not only bad for those looking for the support, but for the industry and population as a whole.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not so naive that I don’t see the business aspect of the industry and that profits are required to allow the facilities and services to survive. But, there is now so much focus on the all-mighty dollar, that it is actually to the severe detriment of the services being provided.

Now, in reading the title to this article, you will no doubt have had one of three thoughts:

  1. How dare you! My gym Rocks! (or words to that effect)
  2. I agree
  3. I’m not a member of a gym, so it can’t suck

If you are in the 1. camp and your gym does indeed ‘rock’, then either you are extremely lucky and have found one of the few quality facilities currently available – yes they do exist, but they are generally small(ish) independent gyms run by people with passion for the subject matter (health, fitness, strength, physique training) whatever their specialism may be, and a deep desire to see the improvements from their clientele. And if you are a member of such a place, then I urge you to shout about it from the rooftops and ensure that place survives and thrives for the benefit of everyone of its members. – or you are deluding yourself.

If however, as is more likely, you fall in the 2. camp, then the big question is, ‘why do you continue to go there?’.

Well, if you are in the majority group – you don’t. Most leisure clubs or large chains operate on the same model. Sell year long (or several year long) membership packages and then hope the member stops showing after a month or two.

If any of these clubs actually had to accommodate their entire client base in a single week, they would be closed down for breaching fire regulations. Especially as most people would want to train during peak times causing clubs to have to deal with around 10 times their capacity levels.

But people do go to these gyms and then complain day after day about how they can’t get using the equipment they want. How they are sick of having to work around the January resolution crowd or the beach body panic groups. They complain how the equipment isn’t up to scratch or there is not enough of it. But most of all, they complain about how their complaints are never listened to.

If that is you, then again, the question is – why?

Often the answer is, because they are all the same and they have to train somewhere. But as the people in group 1 will testify, that is not the case. There are great gyms out there, you just have to look past the usual suspects. Don’t just go for the gym that is the cheapest or the nearest or the one that you’ve heard of because they have the biggest marketing budget. Don’t pick your gym based on the number of treadmills. And if their marketing is based around gimmicks like Vibro Plates, Thigh Isolation Machines or Zumba Classes, don’t just walk away, turn and run and run fast (don’t worry, no one in that place will have the fitness level to catch you).

Where you train should be down to one thing and one thing only – will it help you achieve your desired results?

The sales person will invariably look to convince you that you will. That is, after all, their job. But will they really?

  • Will the staff be on hand to correct your technique?
  • If you don’t know where to begin, will you be offered a programme based on your goals (and I don’t mean a generic workout where a fitness instructor, who considers this a wage packet rather than a calling, shows you how to switch on set up or use the machines and then maybe throws in a couple of sets of bicep curls for good measure)?
  • Do they have all the equipment you need to train well? – And I don’t mean the equipment they tell you you need – a smith machine is NOT the same as a Bench Press, Kettlebells are NOT all you need, A leg press machine does NOT replace a squat rack. It doesn’t have to be complicated though. Solid, practical equipment trumps shiny with lots of buttons and levers every time.
  • Do they have space for you to train? What time will you regularly be training? Go in at those times and see if you would be able to carry out your workout of choice. If not, what’s the point?

These aren’t the only criteria, but you get the idea. A gym is about training for a result. If you can’t train optimally, then why are you paying a membership?

Time was that a gym simply meant a big shed with little more than barbells and weights. If you wanted a CV workout, you went outside and hit the pavement. And you know what? These gyms worked and the people using them got phenomenal results. However, since Nautilus developed their ‘variable resistance’ 12 station circuit machines in the 70s there have been constant developments in the variety of equipment available in modern gyms. So that should mean an even better training experience right?

Unfortunately, these machines did not live up to the theory and did not produce the results they were designed for. But leisure clubs still use them. Why? Because it takes about 30mins to train the entire staff of a club to use every machine in the building, whereas it takes months to train them to be proficient in lifting weights correctly and further months or even years to train them well enough to train another person in how to do it.

So a club that takes the path of least resistance and puts their investments in machines is thinking only about profit and turnover rather than your results.

What about cost?

What about it? You cannot put a price on your health and fitness. If you lose that, you lose everything. Ok there are limits, but you are unlikely to exceed an acceptable budget regardless of the gym membership.

The highest membership I am aware of in the West of Scotland is £140 per month (there may be higher, but I haven’t heard of it). Now that is for a leisure club and to be honest it is more of a status thing than a gym membership. People rarely go there to train well, they go there to meet up after a ‘session’ to sit in the cafe and socialize. If you are serious about your training, you wouldn’t go there anyway.

Almost all other gyms are well below the £100 level and for most people, that is not a problematic amount. It may feel like it is. You may believe it is. And for a few it might be. But most of the people I would hear complain about such a figure have no issues spending over £50 on a night out drinking or a similar amount on Sky Sports or Movies. So where are your priorities? Quick treat fix now or a fit and healthy life?

However, I know that isn’t you as such a person wouldn’t have read this far.

Just remember most gyms are giving you access to many thousands of pounds worth of equipment. And if the staff are experienced and passionate enough (which they should be if you select the right gym) then you are also getting that experience and education along with your membership.

So if you look at it that way, it’s an absolute steal.

Is it worth paying £15 per month for a gym where you don’t feel comfortable, can’t train well, it’s too busy or you never go? Or is it better to pay more for a gym where you get fantastic results, feel like you are appreciated as a member, are given all the help and advice you need and are able to achieve something?

As for distance, again, priorities!

You are better going to a gym once or twice per week where you can train well and train right than to go with your local gym and achieve nothing.

We have just opened a facility that covers every criteria that I felt was lacking in the gyms I’d experienced. Everything listed above and more is checked off. And there are members and clients who travel almost 40 miles several times per week because of this.

If you want to check it out Click Here.

There are no queues for equipment, everything is robust and of high quality (Barbells tested to 1500lbs, Bumper Plates etc), there are no gimmicky pieces of equipment taking up training space (no abductor machines, wave machines or Vibroplates) just the equipment needed to get quality results.

And we ensure that we listen to the members. A few weeks back a couple of members mentioned a punch bag (which we didn’t have at the time) another couple mentioned suspension training. Both are now part of the set up.

I’m not saying this to sell our gym though. For most of you we are not a practical choice given we have subscribers from all around the world. But it is simply an example of what is available. There are gyms out there that will get you the results or training experience you are looking for. Go seek them out and stop whining about how much your gym sucks when you have been a member there for the last 4 years!

Demand better!

You are the customer! It’s your Gym! Make sure it meets your needs! And if it doesn’t, find one that does!

If however, you are in category 3 and don’t have a gym membership. Perhaps that is because you thought all gyms sucked. Well now you know different. So widen your search and you will find that gem you are looking for.

Or maybe you don’t want to join a gym.

That seems a bit alien to me these days, but I remember a time when I felt the same. You don’t have to join a gym to be fit and healthy. You can play sports, work out at home or do some other kind of physical activity and that’s all good with me. In which case, this all doesn’t apply to you, but if that’s the case, why did you read this far?

Whatever the reason, thank you and I hope you have enjoyed doing so.

So over to you guys.

Am I wrong?

Does your gym ‘Rock’? And if so, list it below and let others know about it.

Or does your gym actually suck hard? And what is your reason for sticking with it?

Comment Below and Let me know.

Until next time – go find a great gym and train for success!


What a load of Metabolics

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

It feels like there is a new workout technique, diet, piece of ‘revolutionary’ equipment or quick fix being released or promoted every day.

And with each new idea or theory comes a new catchy name or sound-bite.

OK things need names and if it truly is new and revolutionary, it stands to reason you want the name to be memorable. That’s just marketing. Problem is, marketing is coming at the expense of content.

There’s little new or revolutionary. It might be new, but useless (I refer you to the shake weight, ‘shape up’ shoes, slendertone etc) or it’s just a well marketed version of the same old garbage – See my post on Zumba, Body Pump and Vibroplates.

Back in the day exercises might get associated with the person that invented or popularized them, as in the Arnold Press, the Zeicher Squat. Nowadays it seems the label is the important part.

How many Thor or Captain America workouts have we had this year? In the past few years 300 & Spartan workouts were all the rage along with the more recent Spartacus workouts. Thing is, they mostly end up just being big circuits with no real difference to any other circuit training or drill based workouts. Why? Because then they can be performed for groups which can bring in more money than training an individual.

Does anyone honestly think Spartacus trained, not only with little dumbbells and in a circuit format but, to the dance music that invariably comes with these classes? Did anyone really believe that the 300 workouts were the one key secret to getting the cast to their 6 pack physique ready for that film? And do we honestly think Chris Evans or Chris Hemsworth had one secret workout that no one else has ever tried that was key to their physiques in Captain America & Thor?

Are people really that gullible?

Unfortunately the answer has to be, in part anyway, a resounding yes. Otherwise, why would these things keep popping up, getting quoted and being used?

It’s only a matter of time before we get the Tom Hardy ‘Warrior’ workout (or perhaps they will wait to ‘Bane Train’).

Then there are ‘descriptive’ titles. Now, forgive me for being Mr Picky, but surely a descriptive title should tell you what the workout, technique or theory does that others don’t? The one I have heard a lot over the past couple of years is ‘Metabolic Training’ – What the heck does that mean? Is it suggesting that if you use this training you will raise your metabolism? Is there any form of training that does’t raise your metabolism? Getting out of a chair or going for a walk will raise your metabolism! If we are talking raising it and keeping it raised beyond the scope of the workout, then any anaerobic training, HIIT or heavy resistance training will do that (a lot more than these faddy workouts ever will). What it is really referring to is EPOC (Excess Post exercise Oxygen Consumption) and the creation of an Oxygen Debt. But, there is no one ‘magic’ workout that makes that happen above all others.

Another is ‘Endurance Training’! Could you be a bit more specific? Mostly this is used to describe high reps. But sitting in a freezer to prep for a trip to the Arctic would be endurance training, or hill walking could be endurance training. In fact almost anything that will last (or endure) could be considered endurance training. Endurance for what?

Then there is ‘slim-a-size’, ‘yummy bummy’, ‘slimfast diets’… and on and on…

In the end it is just sticking fancy labels on things to hide the fact that there truly is no substance to it. It just sounds good.

Training is not done just for the sake of it, it is done to achieve something. So there should be some thought behind why you are doing things.

Just realize, there is very little that is actually new and things that work are the things that last, not fads or gimmicks. If it has been done for decades there is likely a reason. If it is shiny and new, it is likely either a re-hash of something old or is untested garbage with a well marketed visual image.

Even the tried and tested stuff can get irritating when people walk around the gym talking about their latest 5/3/1 routine, 5×5, German Volume Training or Russian Strength Sets as if they are something new that they just invented.

All the workouts I have mentioned are reasonably good workouts with solid benefits, but to treat them like they are the latest ‘miracle’ and the fast track to a ripped physique, huge growth or a shredded six pack, that’s just bull crap and cause me switch off.

So here’s a shiny new technique for you. It’s called Metacolonic Training. It is where you take your metabolic training, your Superhero Workouts,  faddy diets, gimmicks and your quick fix solutions and you shove them up your…

And relax!

That’s my view anyway – perhaps you like these gimmicks, or you have actually seen some staggering results from them.

Or are you as frustrated as I am with hearing this nonsense day in and day out?

I’m sure, regardless, you will have heard of at least a few of them.

So what do you think? Is there anything here of validity or is it simply more layers to convince people that there are ‘easy’ fixes available and that hard work, effort and dedication can simply be bypassed?

Comment below and let me know.

Weak Point Training, Pull Ups, Bigger Lats & More Volume

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

For years I have been preaching that the optimal route to improved physique, strength or endurance results is to perform the maximum amount of training volume without exceeding your body’s ability to optimally recover.

In other words, train as much and as hard as you can, but never train to a level that prevents you from fully recovering in time for the next training session.

It doesn’t really matter what your goal is. If you want to lose fat, you are better to burn it off through exercise than to starve it off (though the quality & quantity of your food intake will always be of critical importance). If you want to build muscle, you should adjust your nutrient intake accordingly, but the more stress you can put on your muscles the better – Providing you allow for a full recovery of both the muscles and nervous system.

You don’t develop from training; you develop by recovering from training.

Similarly, if there is a muscle group that is lagging or a key movement that is not up to scratch, then additional time on that movement could be useful due to additional stress to be recovered from and improved motor units and neural pathways to the associated muscles.

One of my personal weaknesses has always been pull ups. I have generally been able to go fairly heavy on weighted pull ups for low reps, but regardless of how low the weight gets higher reps have always been a struggle.

That could be partially down to my balance of fibre types, but I feel it is more to do with the fact that my shoulders and arms are dominating the movement. My horizontal pull has always been strong, but my movement in a vertical plane is less than optimal. So for low repetitions I am able to focus on keeping the correct movement patterns and pulling though my lats, but as the reps increase it becomes more about getting my body up and less about how.

It is something that has never really bothered me greatly as I have no physical need to be able to do lots of pull ups and there are other ways to develop the muscles. However, with the idea of increasing volume without affecting my ability to recover, I decided to experiment with pull-ups as the initial tool.

The idea was to continue to train as normal, but in addition add in a further exercise (in this case bodyweight pull ups) throughout the rest of the day, but never going anywhere near failure. Have a set volume for the month and continue to do non failure sets until that target was reached.

I was able to do 9 pull ups with good form whilst maintaining my mind muscle connection. Rep 10 was possible but was less controlled. So I targeted 4 rep sets for a monthly total of 1000.

By staying away from fatigue it meant my system should need minutes rather than hours to fully recover and so it would not affect my main workouts. If at any point that started to happen I would look to either cut back or stop the additional volume.

In the end I completed 1000 reps in 26 days.

The result was a noticeable increase in the size and width at the top of my lats. Much more so than I had anticipated. Some of this was essentially a constant pump, but after a further 6 days with zero training on my lats and no more pull ups, the difference remained noticalbe.

Once the muscle soreness had completely disappeared (which took about a week) I re-tested my maximum pull ups and found I had added 2 reps, allowing me to achieve 11 with good form.

So in theory it was going to be a useful training tool and in practice it seems to have been worthwhile. There were a number of interesting factors that came up through the process and things tweaks that may be needed, but the principle remains strong.

I would therefore encourage you to try this out for yourself. If nothing else, it makes you do something every day. So it will either add to your training and therefore your results or, if you are the type of person who gets caught up with work or other issues that keep you from getting to the gym then [intlink id=”901″ type=”post”](after re-reading This Article) [/intlink]you could simply add in a bodyweight exercise that you can do and should you miss your scheduled training, at least you are doing something to keep you moving forwards.

I found using Twitter extremely useful for remaining accountable. I used hashtag #DCSaddVolume to group my tweets and I would encourage you to do the same. If enough people start doing it, then it will allow a community of accountability and it also helps you keep track of where you are in your monthly totals.

I have continued this method beyond the initial month, so if you want keep up to date with my progress or indeed any other daily fitness updates and other random stuff, be sure to follow @DCSfit.

I’ll be following up shortly with a full article on this process, how to set it up and the nuances of the technique. So check back regularly.

In the meantime, if you have any questions, queries or comments on this method, the floor is yours, post below and get the ball rolling.

And remember, if you want to start tracking your own additional volume training, the hashtag to use is #DCSaddVolume.

Until next time, go do more!

Stiff Leg Deadlifts and Variations

Monday, October 31st, 2011

There is no doubt that the posterior chain is one of the most neglected areas in training. Sure girls might spend time doing donkey kicks or reverse hypers looking for that ‘burn’ in the glute area that convinces them it is burning fat. But whilst most other areas are hit with big lifts that have a big impact – Squats for the quads (although the posterior does get involved here), Bench Pressing for Chest, Rows and Pulls for back etc. – the posterior chain is often more an after thought.

The reason is easy to follow, these muscles are to the rear (so you don’t see them in the mirror) and they are nasty to train. You don’t get a pump so much as a pain that makes you want to puke. But the posterior chain is extremely important for avoiding injury, creating balance and there are huge muscles there, so work them and the energy expended in recovery is huge (lots of calories burned).

So when people actually take the time to do some major posterior chain work, you’d think I’d be supportive.

Problem is, when it comes to the big posterior movements (Stiff Leg Deadlift, Romanian Deadlift, Good Mornings etc) the form and technique employed is so chronic it makes me want to puke just watching.

I’m not going to go into a huge description of the nuances of each exercise. There are plenty of sources for that already and the differences between the SLDL and the RDL have been done to death.

My beef is, these exercise are being performed for a reason and shouldn’t be just bolted on to a programme for variety.

In my view, the ‘classic’ SLDL sucks anyway. It’s generally performed with straight legs and involves a rounding of the lower back. To my mind, this is dangerous for no good reason and if utilized should involve fairly light weights. So when I see people loading up the bar, standing on a step (for added depth) and then putting on a lifting belt to aid them as they struggle through the lift, I have to think – What The F***?

The reason for doing this variation of the movement is, surely, to put the emphasis on the lumbar spine. So why then employ a belt to ‘protect’ that area?

For me, the Romanian Deadlift or a Semi Stiff Leg Deadlift or some such variation is a much better option. Depth with the bar is not important, the point is to fully stretch the targeted muscles and then squeeze them hard to be in control of the lift.

As with all lifts, it should be performed with the muscles involved, not through some weird momentum from yanking the bar hard or throwing it up or down. Yes lift with power, lift with purpose, but that purpose should still be controlled by the target muscles.

To that end, I believe the flat back variations of these lifts are a much better option for developing the posterior chain, especially the glutes and hamstrings. Your lower back is going to get a workout anyway. Though if you do want more focus on that area, I’d favor the Rack Pull or Good Morning. But if you are ‘snaking’ your way through the latter movement, you are not in control.

So, yes, more posterior work is a great idea, but think about why you are lifting, how you are lifting and the muscles involved.

This is potentially a mine field though and there is so much variation in techniques that there is no right answer. But thinking about what your are doing and why you are doing it will always be better than going through the motions.

So what are your thoughts?

Do you work your posterior chain frequently? Or is it just something you do at the end of your leg workout?

Do you have a preferred exercise or technique for this?

And is there any reason why wearing a belt during this exercise would be beneficial?

Comment Below and let me know.

How to Manage Your Training when you have an Injury

Monday, August 15th, 2011

Hopefully over the past few articles I’ve dispelled a few myths about what is acceptable as an excuse for letting your physical improvements suffer. However, you may have read through them feeling smug in the knowledge that none of them apply to you. Today’s topic, on the other hand, may surprise you that I am considering it as an excuse as it involves how you manage your training when you have an injury.

As with the [intlink id=”979″ type=”post”]Too Tired Excuse[/intlink], this is not one to be taken lightly and again should be treated with care.

In fact, it is all too common to simply ‘push through’ an injury as the desire for results is so strong and a bit of pain is not going to get in the way of your new physique.

I am as guilty of this as anyone.

I’m probably better these days, but I still have times where I just push through regardless of the feedback I’m getting from my body.

However, as common as that may be amongst the dedicated trainers amongst us, for every yin there is a yang and so, for every person that wants to just push through, there will be another who uses every niggle and pain as an excuse to do nothing.

A bit of elbow pain and suddenly they can’t squat, lunge or run. A knee injury and now a seated row or bench press is out of the question.

Don’t get me wrong, this can sometimes be the case. If you are benching properly, you should be generating the force of the press through your whole body and a severe knee injury could well inhibit this. But, as I said when discussing the ‘too tired’ excuse, doing something is better than doing nothing. Maybe you look to do some floor presses, some rows or presses where you are secured by equipment or a bench. The variety of exercises is virtually limitless and most injuries can be worked around.

If your whole upper body is in traction, get some calf raises done. Spinal problems, then work on that weak grip strength.

Just do something!

You should always look to be sensible. Be safe. Injuries are best avoided.

There is a theory that, if you don’t get injured now and then, you are not working hard enough.

There is a certain element of truth in that. You should be looking to work close to your limits and the only way you are truly going to know what your limits are is by occasionally crossing them.

Remember, all forms of training carry some kind of risk. It is the weight of that risk compared to the potential reward that should determine your training choices though. And in this case you are looking for the reward of keeping some kind of progress versus the risk of further injury.

If you are sensible and methodical about your training choices, there is always a way of doing something whilst limiting any danger of further injury. Don’t be the person that has major shoulder pain and heads to the gym for some behind the neck presses followed by upright rows. In fact, on the risk v reward scale, just don’t be the person doing behind the neck presses or upright rows period! That is just looking for an injury whether you have one or not. But, if you have a shoulder injury, then you may want to work on some light mobility work for your rotator cuff and some heavy leg sessions.

Use the time you would have used on the injured area to bring up any weaknesses. Work on your flexibility, zone in on your glutes, your calves, your forearms, anything that has been causing your issues or holding you back.

Injuries are feedback to be cautious – they are not an excuse to skive!

If you are not moving forwards, you are moving back. Keep your progress moving in the right direction. Remember what you want from your training. As I have continued to say from the [intlink id=”844″ type=”post”]First Article[/intlink] of this series, always go back to your emotional motivation and go do something to move you towards that goal.

If you have missed any of the previous articles in this series you can read them here – [intlink id=”844″ type=”post”]Part 1[/intlink] –  [intlink id=”901″ type=”post”]Part 2 – The Too Much Work Excuse[/intlink] – [intlink id=”943″ type=”post”]Part 3 – The Don’t Like It Excuse [/intlink] – [intlink id=”979″ type=”post”]Part 4 – The Too Tired Excuse[/intlink]

These articles have one thing in common with the excuses – there will be another one along very shortly, so look out for it.

Until then, go make some progress and achieve something spectacular.

[intlink id=”1047″ type=”post”]Part 6… Are You Really Giving Your All?[/intlink]

Exercises and Nutrition you Simply Don’t Like.

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Last time we looked at the problem of having [intlink id=”901″ type=”post”]too much work[/intlink] and how it really is a choice and an excuse not to achieve the results you are looking for.

And although that is an extremely common excuse these days, the self sabotaging doesn’t end there. So the excuse I want to explore with today’s article is the “I just don’t like it” excuse.

If you read my previous article [intlink id=”402″ type=”post”]How Hate Can Be Turned on its Head[/intlink] you’ll already know that working with an exercise you don’t like is often one of the most beneficial things you can do. If all you ever do is workouts you enjoy or you ‘like’ then you are almost certainly hindering your progress.

Generally people don’t like doing workouts because they are not very good at them or they feel uncomfortable while doing them. The reason for this is you will be using muscles that are lagging or your range of motion is not good enough. Therefore, by not improving these areas, you are drastically limiting your potential and likely making yourself more prone to injuries through muscular imbalances.

Training can be enjoyable at times and the sense of satisfaction at the end of a tough session is hard to beat, but if workouts were easy or comfortable, everyone would do them. But if they were comfortable then they wouldn’t be challenging for your body and so you are not giving your system any reason to respond and develop.

Similarly, when it comes to diet, if something is good for you and is really going to make a difference, then just suck it up and get it down.

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard “I don’t like vegetables” or when you hear the veg intake it consists of only carrots or the occasional salad.

Occasionally I will recommend some kind of peri-workout nutrition in the form of a shake, or some kind of supplement if their lifestyle is making nutritional intake a problem. To then refuse to drink it due to not liking the taste is a poor excuse indeed.

Remember what you are training for. Remember how important that result is to you. Is it really such an issue to eat or drink the odd thing that doesn’t 100% agree with your pallet?

If you are not nutritionally fuelled, your workouts will suffer; your energy levels will suffer; your recovery will suffer. In short, your results will suffer.

I’m not saying all your meals have to be boring or bland. There’s no need to be forcing down chicken and broccoli for every meal. There is a world of variety available without eating garbage and if you have a bit of time, you can really make some exceptionally tasty options (I’ll be adding a few recipes in future articles). But if you are already using the ‘time is short’ excuse, don’t add another one if you have to use some kind of supplement. You can try out different flavours as you go, but if it is your only option, just get it down you. Saying you don’t like something and then chomping on a bar of chocolate, heading to McDonalds or starving yourself.

It may only feel like a ‘just this once’ moment, but these small moments can have huge effects on your results.

So always return to the emotional reason for making the change in the first place. Remember what you want to achieve and why. Think of how you will feel and what it will mean to you to achieve your new physique, to feel healthier, stronger or more vibrant. Remember those changes are for a lifetime and the thing you ‘don’t like’ will only last a few moments. Now ask yourself, which is of greater value to you? Feeling good about yourself or avoiding that one thing?

And just like your exercise choices, you may well find that, by trying foods you didn’t previously like, you may develop a taste for them long term. Then you get the results as well as a healthier pallet to go with it, so further improvements will come much easier in the future.

“I don’t like it” is a child’s response – be better than that! Be the best you can possibly be. So, until next time, when we will be covering another highly common excuse, go prep some greens to go with your next meal.

[intlink id=”979″ type=”post”]Part 4 – The Too Tired Excuse[/intlink]

Gym Etiquette (or Common Sense)

Monday, June 20th, 2011

Gyms can be busy places and there are generally hundreds (sometimes thousands) of people passing through the doors every day. So whilst it might be nice to feel that you are paying to be there so you can treat the facility however you like, it’s a bit selfish not to pay respect to the other people training around you.

Try to keep some blood for the brain! – When you are pushing hard it is likely that you are not thinking straight, but consider your set only finished when the weights are back on the rack or the bar stripped and the plates put away. And put them back where you got them (assuming they were in the right place to start with).

I must spend at least an hour each day just putting the plates on the plate tree back in a usable order. It’s not a difficult thing to do. Just group the 5kg plates on the same peg, the 10kg plates together, the 15kg plates back to back, you get the idea!

It seems that every day I walk into the gym and find the plates mixed up in the most bizarre order with one peg having a 1.25kg plate, with a 10kg plate in front of it, then two 15kg plates and 3 20kgs on the outside. So if you need that 1.25kg plate, you have to remove 100kg worth to get to it. If I’m honest I’d rather the plates were just left lying on the floor somewhere as, at least I could get to the one I’m looking for quickly.

Plus, the next person in might struggle to lift 20kg and will end up injured just trying to get to that small plate at the back.

The gym I use even has signage telling you which plates go where on the side of the Smith Machine and yet every day there will be 20kg plates put on the 10kg peg.

Just 2 seconds of thought for the next person and everyone’s experience and training flow would be so much better.

If you can’t put it down, don’t pick it up

I’ll keep this simple, dropping the 50kg dumbbells on the floor at the end of your set doesn’t make you the man, it makes you a prat!

No one is impressed! All it makes people round you think is, either you are a complete moron and you are annoying them or you are not as strong as you make out to be as you can’t even control those weights back to the floor.

If you drop one now and then because you are at complete failure and have given your all, then ok. But, if you are doing it every set, you are obviously not at complete failure or you wouldn’t be lifting the same weight again for another set. So if you are dropping the weights every set then go get a lighter set and learn to finish your set by putting the weights down under control and then lifting them back to the rack where they belong.

Remember, development in the gym is about doing the maximum work that you can fully recover from. So if you are training every set to a level where you are no longer in control, you have long passed your body’s training capacity and whilst you might feel ‘pumped’ at the time, your capacity to continue to work at your maximum level will be gone and your ability to recover and grow will be greatly diminished.

Stay in control and make gains not noise!

You are not at the Olympics!

If you are using chalk to improve your grip, so long as the weight justifies it, by all means go ahead (assuming your facility allows it) but don’t splat it all over the floor and every piece of equipment you use and then fail to wipe it down when you are finished. Other people have to use this stuff after you, so leave it in the condition you found it.

Be aware of your surroundings!

When you are about to start your set, check where you are setting up. If you are moving to the middle of the floor to deadlift, make sure you are not setting up right in the line of someone who is already doing waking lunges right through that area. Watch you are not about to clean & press right in the eye-line of the person behind you who is using the mirror to check their posture and form on a new movement.

If you are resting you are not using equipment!

So often I see people come in to do ‘Strength Training’ and despite the fact they are benching an almighty 70kg!!! They do their set of 3 and then take 5 or even 10mins rest between sets. But if someone comes and asks how long they will be or if they are still using the bench etc. The answer is “yeah, I’ve got 6 more sets to go”. If you are resting for that long there is plenty of time for you to strip the bar and let someone set in with you.

Also, if you are talking on your mobile, you are not using the equipment.

On a similar note, if the gym is full, it is not the time to come in and set up a 10 station weights circuit. If your gym only has one set of each weight, your circuit with all dumbbells from 10kg to 20kg and 3 barbells with various weights is not only taking up space that could probably be used by 5 people, but it is possibly stopping several people from training altogether as you have taken every weight in their training range.

If you must do a circuit either try to use bodyweight exercises, build it to incorporate one or two pieces of equipment in a variety of ways, or do it on a day when the gym isn’t so busy.

Just because that is what you programmed for that day is no reason to mess up the training of half your fellow members.

Very recently I was training myself and 3 lads came in to use the gym. For their first ‘circuit’ they were using 16 sets of dumbbells, 4 benches, a dipping belt 3 plates and the dipping bars. Fortunately the gym wasn’t too busy at that time, but it meant the only set of dumbbells available between 7kg and 25kg were the 20kg set. Meaning that there were no options for anyone training in the 10-20kg range.

Think before you act

How you use equipment can be pretty obvious for the most part, but often times a bit of improvisation is necessary to hit the right muscle groups.

A common one for this is to do a low row using a low pulley whilst sitting on the floor and using something to wedge your feet against either a step or a set of dumbbells to give leverage and distance from the stack. However, the Reebok Step in our gym has been carved to pieces from it being put the right way up (which is wrong for this movement) and then dragging the cable across it like a saw.

I even brought in my own step with a sign on it saying it was not for general members use and came in the next day to find 2 score marks had already been added (suffice to say I now keep it at home until needed). I’ve also had a member punch the core out of my foam roller because he ‘didn’t know what it was for’.

Just because you pay a membership fee, doesn’t give you the right to destroy the equipment at will.

A little thought goes a long way.

None of these points are revolutionary and none of them should seem new or strange. It is just common courtesy. If you decided to rent out your spare room, would you expect your tenant to rearrange all your CDs & books to make them difficult to access? Would you be happy if they threw talcum powder all over your furniture and carpet and just left it for you to clean?

I do realise that if you have read this far you are probably not responsible for any of these things. But perhaps you are just as frustrated with some of them and it least it is good to know that others share your pain.

If you have any of your own pet peeves, feel free to add them below and maybe, through increased awareness, we can start to limit the number of instances that occur and make our training environments a little more pleasant, focused and efficient.

Either that or we can dig out the pitch forks and start a mob!

Thanks for dropping in

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

This part of the site is an area where I intend to add pieces of diet, exercise, health & fitness information on a regular basis that I hope you will find useful in your journey of self improvement.

My goal when I started out in the fitness & coaching field was to help as many people as possible achieve the life & self image they desired. That is as true today as it has always been and as such, I don’t feel that anyone should be deprived of good information and the tools to move forward just because they can’t afford to pay for them.

The media is constantly bombarding us with the information they want us to have rather than the truth. Fortunately, with the rise of the internet, it is now easier than ever to get the right information. However, that is in itself a double edged sword, as there is now so much information that it is easy to get lost in the sheer volume of information being thrown at you.

When I first started out researching for myself I quickly began to realise that there are many quality sources of information already available and I would hear the same good information quoted again and again. Therefore, I started to assume that it was commonplace and most people would now be aware of the truth behind the propeganda of the advertising world. Yet, even now, I am constantly shocked by just how wrong that assumption was. Every day (several time per day usually) I hear the same false comments and claims being made. The same reasoning of how this exercise reigime or that diet is the right way to go. You can’t eat this or that is healthy and will help you lose weight. And every time I hear these ‘facts’ I still cringe inside at how mislead we as a nation have been.

It is no wonder heart disease and obesity are at an all time high.

So it is my hope, through these articles and updates, to try and add to that change. To add information on diet, exercise & lifestyle choices that I hope you will be able to take away and use to improve your awareness and make more informed, unbiased choices. Rather than relying on what someone wants you to believe in order to sell you their product.

I’ve been in the same position as most of the population, where I believed things to be true because the argument was so compelling and no one was there to tell me any different. I’ve had to seek out the truth through a great deal of study and research, which I now hope can be of benefit to you.

I will also be using this area for general thoughts and ideas that I may just throw out and from time to time I will let you know what I’m up to and of any events or products I’m working on. I may even suggest other products or resources that I feel are worth looking at.

That said, I can assure you that this will never become a sales pitch. I hate reading adverts or being sold to as much as anyone and I will never inflict that on the people who have taken time out of their day to come here and put their trust in what I have to say. When I add information or advice, it is simply that. I will never promote a product I haven’t tried and noticed good results with, I will never mention anything I don’t think is worthy of your interest. Take this information and use it as you see fit. I will endevour to remain balanced in my views and present both sides of the argument to allow you to make informed choices.

I hope this page is of use to you in your quest for self improvement and that you come back often.

If you’d like to keep up to date with what is going on here then either register on this blog (you don’t HAVE to leave a comment) or sign up for the free download in the box on at the side of each page.

Again, thank you for taking the time to come to my site and thank you for taking enough interest in yourself, your health & fitness and your self image to want to make a difference. I hope you achieve the life you are looking for.