Posts Tagged ‘Improve your Physique’

Could ‘Emotivation’ be the key to unlocking your fitness goals?

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

A couple of years ago I wrote a guest article on the subject of ‘emotivation’ and how connecting with your emotional motivation cues is much more likely to breed success than any form of willpower or wishing (including New Year’s resolutions). As we are at that time of year again I decided to review the article and make a few amendments.

New Year’s resolutions are so easy to make – but not so easy to stick to. For the first few weeks of the year it’s a new page, a fresh start and everyone feels a huge sense motivation to stick to the fitness and diet plan, often developed as a reaction to the indulgences of the festive period – but all too quickly excuses begin and, as research shows, by February and March more than 50% of Keep-fit New Year’s Resolutions have gone by the wayside.

But there may be a way to stick to your New Year fitness and diet resolutions – by thinking about things in a different way.

The key to realising resolutions is to focus on the emotional drivers behind the desire to change. Forget about weight loss as your goal and focus instead on constructing a version of you that you will make you happy, not because you have done it quickly, but because you have done it effectively and have achieved something you can not only be proud of, but also something that just ‘feels’ right.

Resolve and willpower can get you through most things short term but in the end willpower alone will fail.

As an example, more than half the people who attempt to give up smoking fail in the long run even if willpower carries them through a few days or weeks.

The rebound rate for weight loss is higher than that of smokers. Why? Because you can’t just WANT to achieve something. There has to be an emotional connection.”

Dynamic Core Solutions was set up in 2009 as a personal training and coaching service to support people whose willpower and self-belief deserted them. The goal was to provide the service that focused on the elements where others failed. To take the elements that just seemed wrong within the fitness industry and put them right. Very quickly it became apparent that, as well as needing motivation and technical know-how, my clients body shape and confidence grew when they were able to understand and tap into what drove them emotionally to achieve their goals and as a result were able to take a more methodical approach to the changes rather than constantly seeking the ‘quick fix’. This route has since developed the name ‘Emotiviation’.

The importance of emotions for reaching fitness goals

Like it or not, our emotions rule our actions in the long-term. They cause internal hormonal activity and the resulting chemical reactions cannot be overcome with thought or willpower alone.

Thousands of years of evolution have created these reactions and they are there to protect us.

Our bodies like the “status quo”. They don’t like change or the unknown as that can spell trouble. So in order to overcome these emotional responses you need to create a stronger emotion that you can connect to.

Getting emotional about goals starts with one easy question – “Why?”

For example, Brian is 24, overweight, single and depressed: “I want to bring my waist size to 34 inches, improve my body composition to a level where I can see my six pack abs, add two inches to my chest and half an inch to each upper arm. I want to feel healthy, energised and confident in my appearance and I will do all of this by the time I go on holiday in June,” Brain claims.

Why? “Because I want to feel good about how I look on the beach” Why? “Because I want the girls who see me to find me attractive” Why? “Because I have never had a girlfriend and it depresses me to feel that women don’t find me attractive. So hopefully with an improved physique and level of self-confidence, I can put out a more positive personality and attract someone suitable to have a relationship with.”

Now we are getting somewhere. So the next time Brian thinks about skipping the gym, going for a curry or heading out for a night of boozing with the lads, he has an alternative emotion to draw on. As long as the idea of feeling confident and ultimately being in a relationship remains stronger than the feeling of eating a curry, the menu stays in the drawer and he heads to the gym.

Dynamic Core Studios was opened in January 2012 to ensure that the subsequent trip to the gym removed the obstacles presented in most gyms or leisure facilities.

Again, it’s not about the quick fix. Training is not about just showing up to the gym and making your way around the same machines as everyone else and just hoping it will work for you. It requires you to have a plan in place and the plan should always be to build from the base up.

There are some fundamentals you need to get in place. From a nutritional (or fuel) point of view you need to have your water intake at a decent level and you must be getting enough rest. Without these in place, no plan is going to work for you.

After that, you need to ensure your body works the way it should. A movement assessment would be useful here. In some cases this would be best performed by a high quality physiotherapist, but any trainer worth their salt should be able to carry out an assessment that can ascertain any inability to move properly. If you have any flaws in this area, these should be rectified first otherwise everything you attempt to achieve from that point forward will suffer and the results will be sub optimal.

Assuming you are moving properly, the next element to look at would be strength. If you are lacking in strength the quality of your training will suffer, but so will your development in general, right down to your bone structure. If you don’t give your skeletal structure a reason to stay strong, it won’t. It’s that simple.
No matter what your goal is, if it is physique based, it should involve heavy resistance training. That doesn’t mean gimmicky machines that make you feel like you are working out, but rather solid, compound movements with the heaviest weight you can manage.
Any shaping of your body requires muscle:

  • It helps to burn calories
  • It keeps you functionally balanced
  • It makes you stronger, which allows you to do and achieve more.

If you don’t give your body a reason to keep the muscle you have, it will look to get rid of the muscle rather than fat. After all, you are not giving it a reason to stay and muscle is heavier than fat so it makes life easier if it goes. That’s why going out running or cycling is not ideal and whilst it might help you lose weight, really you want to lose fat. By working with weights you are telling your body it cannot afford to lose muscle, so it goes to the other energy store and burns stored fats. And ladies that does not mean you are going to bulk up. Lifting heavy does not mean big muscles and a bodybuilder physique.

That’s why at Dynamic Core Studios, you won’t find the place littered with machines, either cardio based or resistance based. Everything in the facility is there for a reason and that reason it to ensure the best training facility for achieving results you can possibly find. It is also designed in a way that you can focus your attention on your plan and work to your body’s feedback. Workouts need to be adaptable depending on your energy levels for the day. If you are low on energy, you should not be over stressing your nervous system by trying to achieve what you usually would. Similarly, if your energy levels are high, then be sure to take advantage of it.

We also work with an appointment based system in order to ensure the gym floor is never too busy to do the workout you need. But also, if you had a meeting scheduled at work you wouldn’t cancel just because you didn’t feel like it. So why should your fitness, health and training be any different? You have an appointment with yourself and we are encouraging you to keep it.

Could this be the way to actually stick to your New Year’s Resolutions?

What is different in this approach is simply that there is a reason for your goals now and so you can take logical steps to achieving them. Your desire to make the long term change is deep rooted and therefore you are much less likely to deviate from the path you then set yourself.

So rather than making a ‘resolution’ to change this year, why not look take some time to get to know yourself. Discover what it is you truly want to achieve and most importantly ‘Why?’ Really FEEL the difference it would make to create these changes (Looking good is not a feeling, though feeling good will generally result in more positive choices resulting in an improved appearance and body composition). Then make a structured, logical plan to take you where you want to be.

Feel who you want to be then live your life as that person. 

 

 

Andy Murray- The Lessons of a Champion

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

This week a 26 year old from Dunblane, Scotland, put his name in the history books and changed the perceptions of a nation by winning a tennis match.

Put like that it vastly underplays the enormity of what he achieved. For 77 years the UK watched as the tournament hosted on its own shores was won by an ‘outsider’. In the entire open era no British player had even made the final prior to Andy in 2012 but for many years the weight of expectation was there, most notably on the shoulders of Tim Henman.


Not only had it been 77 years since a British player had taken the title (of the Men’s Singles), you have to go back to the 1800s to find the last Scottish winner. And a little over 10 years ago, when Henman was consistently making the Semi finals, the very idea that a Scot would achieve anything near that level, never mind actually win the thing, was simply unthinkable.

Ok, so we get it, it was a big deal, but what does this have to do with a fitness site?

More than you might think.

First up, although it is not a sport I personally partake in beyond the odd knock about on occasion, I would consider it one of if not the most complete of tests in the sporting world. First up it is an individual pursuit, so if you have a bad day you can’t rely on your team to cover for you. You have to be 100% focused at all times and playing at your best. And with the exception of the year end finals, it is a knock out sport. So again, no matter how good you are, one bad day at the office and you are out. It requires high levels of general fitness, speed, agility, quick reflexes (most serves have a reaction time for the returner of less than a second to get to the ball and angle a return correctly), power and stamina.

I can’t think of any other individual sports that require the same level of quality in all of these areas and with the possible exception of ice hockey I can’t think of many team sports either.

To perform at this level requires an extremely high level of ability in all these areas.

In the world of fitness there is always the argument of genetics and a similar argument is often thrown in the tennis arena, that of talent. You are either born with it or you are not. That may well be true and you could say that someone like Roger Federer has a natural talent for the game and doesn’t need to hit the gym to the same level as many of his rivals. But then there are those such as David Nalbandian who is probably one of the most talented players ever to play the game, but how many grand slam titles does he have? In fact, how many of you have even heard of him? The reason for his downfall? He quite clearly doesn’t work on his fitness to the same level as his peers. Comparatively speaking, he is over weight and lacks the speed shown by those at the top of the game. And if he had taken the time to work on these easily fixable elements, there is a high chance that his achievements would have eclipsed those of Federer through his career.

But let’s look at Andy.

Back in 2005 at the age of 18 during his third round match at Queens (which in itself was a shock at the time) and in a game he probably should have won, he collapsed with cramp in the 2nd set and went over on his ankle twice. He has since admitted that, at the time, his idea of a post match meal would be a pizza, his diet was appalling and his fitness regime not much better.

Most people, at that time, were tipping him to make it into the top 50 but not much else due to his lack of physical presence and stamina.

The following winter he moved his off season training to Miami and in the space of a few months returned to the Australian open with a completely new physique. He had seriously bulked up and was sporting a six pack.

Now he was being told he was too big and it would slow him down. During his 5 set win over Stan Wawrinka at Wimbledon that year, he turned the match around from 2 sets down by retrieving a ball that was almost in the crowd and hitting a cross court winner. Hardly slow. He finished the match by flexing his biceps at the press. He was doing things his way he had a goal and he was staying true to it.

He was further criticised for having an entourage rather than a single coach. He had a team of specialists that he had built around him, but no real head figure. But there was a reason for that. He was the man in charge. His goals, his vision and the team was there to assist in the areas he decided he needed help with rather than having one person tell him what to do.

It became a running joke that half the people there to support him where his team. But now, a few years later, most of the top players are doing exactly the same thing.

So where am I going with this?

Well from start to finish he has been told he was doing it wrong. He was too skinny, he was too bulky, didn’t have the right weapons to threaten the top 3 players, he didn’t have the mental toughness (after all he did lose his first 4 grand slam finals). But there were no bigger critics out there of Andy Murray than Andy Murray himself. The difference was that he knew what he needed. He knew himself well and he knew what to do or when to ask for help to improve any weak points.

He didn’t listen to criticisms, he didn’t get down on himself (well not for long anyway) he simply had a goal and no matter how many times he got knocked down he picked himself back up and used the experience as a tool to improve for the future.

It took him 14 years from starting tennis seriously to finally winning the Wimbledon trophy he desperately sought.

After his first loss in a grand slam he didn’t decide to completely change everything, give up and chase something new. After his first Grand Slam final defeat, he didn’t start looking for some mystical route that wasn’t on the radar or try to copy the guy that beat him that day (Roger Federer) in the hope of unlocking the key. He stayed true to his path and chipped away at the imperfections in his own game. When the main one seemed to be the mental aspect, he sought out Ivan Lendl to be his coach as he knew Lendl was one of the few people he would listen to and be able to learn from.

All of this applies to any fitness goal. You have a vision, you have something in your mind that you are targeting, if it is not clear what that goal is, your direction is never going to be clear. But the goal has to be a personal one. Not something you are doing for the adulation or approval of others. It has to mean something to you personally.

Too often people start down one road and if it doesn’t go perfectly to plan very quickly, they are suddenly looking for another route or start listening to the criticism of others. You either believe in the route you are taking or you don’t, but if you do, if you truly know where you are going and you have a plan to get there, then no one and nothing should cause you to question that. You are in control. Your route will never be linear and it will never be exactly as you planned. You may need to make adjustments along the way, but they should be in keeping with your own ideals.

In its simplest form I’m talking to the people who think they can buy their way to the physique they want and at the lowest possible price. Those who will try weight watchers, then slimmers world, then curves, then atkins, then buy one of those slendertone belts, then go running while the weather is good, then back to weight watchers, then the local Bootcamp, then the online diet guru and so on. Always asking for “the best exercise to…(insert vague goal here)”, the people who “just” want to tone up, as if sticking the word just in front of it makes it suddenly an easy process.

In the end, some people are born with certain genetic gifts and if those people apply that fullest potential they will reach levels of world class, regardless of the goal in question, be it a sport, bodybuilding, modelling, acting, writing, photography etc. For most of us giving the same application may not mean world class, but it will be better than most and more than most people would generally wish for.

But the one big thing to note, returning to our Wimbledon champion, is that at no point was Andy Murray training or eating to look good.

All of his training and nutrition choices are geared towards improving his ability to play tennis. Yet he has taken himself from that skinny 18 year old who collapsed in the middle of a game 8 years ago and built a physique that most people were shocked by. Whether it is to your taste or not, he has broad shoulders, a distinct upper body V shape, defined biceps and a very defined six pack. Most guys would settle for that. Most guys hit the gym looking for that. Yet most guys trying to achieve it don’t get there, where Murray, who had no interest in the physique aspect, has achieved it by default.

This goes back to the thing I keep saying time and again. What you look like on the outside is an expression of how you treat yourself generally. Andy wanted to fuel himself to play better tennis matches, he wanted to build power for not only his shots, but to allow him to react quickly and sprint for drop shots etc. So he hit the gym and worked on the muscles that would allow those things to improve. And by improving his physical abilities and nurturing his body correctly he achieved what he aimed for.

Along the way, he gave up every Christmas for around 7 years to go and train in Miami, away from his family. He doesn’t drink alcohol as a rule. He sacrifices what most people seem to consider a necessity (nights out in the pub, parties etc) because the goals he set himself mean more than these things.

So the lessons are simple.

Set yourself clear goals. Goals that mean something to you deep down and give you emotional motivation to achieve them.

Don’t alter your path for other people. Stay focused on the path you have set yourself and believe in what you are doing.

Ignore negativity from others. If you truly believe in your path then nothing should cause you to waver for a second.

Ensure your goals are more than superficial. Health, Strength, Speed, Power are all attributes that are worthy of your attention, vanity is not. Vanity is a goal that suggests that other people’s views of you will determine how you feel about yourself. Absolutely look to make the most of yourself, but entirely, not just on the outside.

Don’t rush things. It is rare for things to go perfectly from the off. But life goes on and so does your journey. So long as you keep moving forwards you will always reach your target in the end.

Make adjustments not changes. Tweak things as necessary and as needed, but don’t keep starting again every few weeks.

Enjoy the process. Murray and his team use forfeits during training to make it more fun. It is not a chore, it is a means to an end and one he enjoys doing. Be sure you are doing something that is not only suitable for the goals you set yourself, but a process you enjoy. That doesn’t mean it has to be easy, it should be a challenge, but not one that makes your stomach curdle at the very thought of it each day.

And lastly, if your goal truly is an emotional one and important to you, then it should be easy to pass on the distractions that go against the process. The alcohol, the parties, the late nights and so on. If not and you find yourself giving in to things that you ultimately find yourself regretting, then you are not emotionally invested in this goal and there is no point complaining that you are not achieving it, or not getting there fast enough. At that point it is time to re-evaluate the goal itself and what it means to you. Don’t try to improve your will power or look to work twice as hard at the gym to make up for it. Work out why that blip seemed more important to you at the time. Weight up what it meant to you compared to what you ‘say’ you want to achieve and re-assess what you truly want.

Most of us will never re-write history to the level of Andy Murray, but there are lessons to be learned from him and if you take them on board you can conquer your own personal Grand Slam challenges and it will mean just as much to you as winning Wimbledon did to Andy.

Cee Oliver Interview

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

In the latest in our series of articles with inspirational people, please meet Cee Oliver. Previously we’ve talked to people who had their switch on moment a little later in their life, but Cee has been on this journey since she was 15. So she has over 22 years experience, is a professional figure and fitness model and a champion in her sport, so she is certainly someone worth listening to.

Cee Oliver Fitness Pro performing a single arm row

I’m Cee Oliver age 37, I hold a BSc Exercise Sport Science, PGCE (GTP) Physical Education as well as several other Health & Fitness related qualifications that spans over 16yrs.

I’m a UKBFF British Fitness Champion & NPA British Fitness Champion. I also hold several regional titles along side international placing. Started body building 5 yrs ago and I’ve not looked back.

Have you always been in great shape – or was there a point in your life that you decided you had to change things?

I’ve competed in sports since I was 15, so 22yrs later and I still look for new ventures. I hated PE at school until I was 14-15 I then knuckled down and put my heart and soul into it to become the best I could be. In my teenage years I’ve competed / played for netball, rounders, football teams as well as a stint running for a local athletics club, whilst taking part in numerous team hand sports as a teenager.

Do you think that having a healthy body has helped improve your healthy mind?

I couldn’t Imagine not training at all, it keeps my mind focused at all times.

Stress exercise helps, run down gentle exercise helps.. For me it’s the miracle cure;)

Can you tell me your thoughts on girls being scared to use weights as they think they will bulk up?

They see the typical female physique and think that lifting weights will make them bigger. That’s not the case it will help them tone up and get in fantastic shape both physically and mentally. if they want to look like that it wouldn’t happen over night and they would have to take lots of Supplements and dedicate their lives to training, very admirable but most females want to lose the hips, thighs and bums as well as flat stomach and a few more inches small steps day by day makes a massive difference and taking the 1st step is the biggest one.

Motivating so many others can be rewarding, but who do you look to for inspiration?

For me this season it has to be the amazing Oskana Grishina  the next Miss Olympia her shape is phenomenal along side my favourite like Dana Linn Bailey & Louise Rodgers.

Can you tell us more about the kind of competing you do?

I’m a trained figure and fitness British champion.

I have to perform a routine showing a range of strength movements combing in  flexibility,high energy routines and my own style it doesn’t mean you have to be a gymnast but it does mean you need to be flexible and highly energetic. Along side that I compete in the fitness symmetry round, so for my class you need to have the body and the routine it’s hard work but fantastic.

Can you remember your first completion, what did you learn from it?

My 1st company was 2008 NPA trained figure it was in Batley in UK. Trained by Ian Duckett ( Body in design)  It was the most nerve wracking thing I had ever done and the figure class was packed if I remember correctly over 11-12 in the class. Steping on stage for the 1st time in front  a big crowd in a large building was hard, but I loved the challenge and I performed well and placed 3rd I was over the moon. 5 yrs later I’m still here 😉

Can you tell us about the workshops you run to help others compete?

I’m looking to develop online workouts and 1-1 small group workshops that will help those that are new to BB making sure they know what to expect from nutrition, training and 1st step to competing or experience posing. Giving them advise thought out their journey.

What is your absolute favourite exercise/body parts to workout?

I don’t really train abs that much I guess I’m genetically gifted they stay 24/7 😉

I like training my shoulders.

What are your personal goals for 2013?

I’m competing internationally in Spain, Ukraine & Madrid this season with a top  Strength & conditioning coach within the UK – Mark Coles (M10) who will be pushing me through tough workouts to get in my best shape ever, using a range of methods I have never tried before which is fantastic.

Cee is also branching out as an actress, in her 1st movie role, a small part in an MMA movie to be announced in July 2013, Cee will be linking up with the multi title martial arts champion and successful actress  Zara phyithian. So be sure to look out for that.

Interview by Barbara Graham through our Facebook resource – Beginners Guide to Getting Ripped – Check it out for more tips and information

You can follow and find out more from Cee on her own website www.ceeoliver.co.uk 

Melissa Bender Interview

Monday, February 4th, 2013

A common quote that comes up time and again is “I really want to get fit, but I don’t have time to get to the gym. What can I do at home?”. Melissa Bender is here to help. Melissa is renowned for her online videos demonstrating how to work out at home when the gym is just out of your reach. 

Melissa Bender Interview

Melissa is an Occupational Therapist who works in a skilled nursing facility, so some of her patients are there for short term rehab, and other’s live there permanently. Her job is to help people become stronger and more independent in all of their life skills. She has two cats, Gambit and Buffy who like to make guest appearances in her workout videos.

Can you tell us if you have always been into keeping fit, or was there a point in your life that you decided to change?

I have always been an active person. I went to high school in a walking school district (no buses), so I got used to walking 3 miles per day during my commute to and from school. I also danced, and later did yoga, which kept me active. However, in 2007 I decided to become a flight attendant and quit the dance team that I was on. I wasn’t living the active lifestyle I had grown up with. As someone who wasn’t used to an “exercise program” I lost a lot of my athleticism. When I started dating my husband I decided to start running with him. I was shocked to learn that I could only run a few blocks before I had to stop and walk. Slowly I built my strength and endurance back up, and learned to love exercise.

Tell us why you decided to focus on making videos for people to work out at home.

I decided to start making videos for people to work out at home for two reasons. First, I was in graduate school, I missed teaching yoga, and I felt like school was consuming all of my time and focus. I needed to do something for the pure enjoyment of it, and I had been planning on starting my blog/videos for a couple of years but kept putting it off. I decided to go for it, and start sharing my passion for fitness! Second, I believe that EVERYONE has a right to be healthy, happy and fit. I have often heard people say that they can’t get in shape because they can’t afford a gym. I firmly believe that you can stay in shape by creating a healthy lifestyle out of your own home, and I wanted to share that with others. If I can influence even one person to make healthy changes in their life I feel that I have made a positive impact on the world. As a therapist I see the difference that fitness makes on your overall health and recovery. Physical fitness can be a strong foundation for mental fortitude, and it teaches you what you are capable of. Everyone deserves to experience their own strength, and know that they are capable of handling anything that comes their way.

How do you stay motivated and focused on your goals

I am motivated by the way exercise and fitness makes me feel. It makes me feel strong, positive, energetic and alert. I set goals that are achievable, and get excited about all of the stepping stones I hit along the way. For example, instead of saying “I want sculpted abs” I focus on the functional aspect of the goal. So my goal might be to improve the length of time I can hold a plank by 10 seconds, or increase the number of hanging leg raises I can do in 60 seconds. By focusing on the small improvements you can make in your fitness, you are working toward the long term goal but you also recognize your progress along the way.

Do you have anyone you look to for fitness inspiration?

Absolutely! My husband inspires me. He is in the Athletic Hall of Fame at the University where we both got our undergraduate degrees for running. He inspires me daily through his own dedication, but also because when I got married I mentally decided that part of my responsibility as a wife is to stay as healthy as possible so that we can have a long and happy life together. I am also greatly inspired by Jamie (Eason) Middleton. She is a wonderful motivator and fitness inspiration. She seems to have found a wonderful balance in her life of faith, fitness, health and love. I find that admirable.

You look fantastic, do you eat healthily too?

I try to make healthy choices, and I love vegetables. I try to eat foods that are more natural. The list of ingredients should all be things I know and recognize. However, I also have a sweet tooth! I don’t consider any foods “off limits” but I do try to eat clean about 90% of the time.

What is your favourite body part to work out?

Abs! And glutes. That’s two body parts. I truly enjoy working my abs, and utilizing all of the muscles that make up the core. Glutes I enjoy working out because it makes me feel strong. Like the core, I enjoy coming up with workouts that utilize all of the muscles that make up the glutes.

What are your personal goals for 2013?

I have several!

-I am planning on competing in my first NPC competition in March. I think it will be a great challenge and motivator. It also encourages me to make healthy eating choices.

-I also want to set a new personal record for my 5K time. I am able to run a 5K about 2 minutes faster on the treadmill than I have done in races. I would love to change that!

-I want to make a fitness DVD.

-Run a half marathon.

-Increase my pull up personal record.

Interview by Barbara Graham through our Facebook resource – Beginners Guide to Getting Ripped – Check it out for more tips and information

Melissa’s workouts are all on her blog. These workouts are the actual workouts she does to stay in shape: www.BenderFitness.com and youtube: www.youtube.com/mdloughy

Like and Follow Melissa on facebook: www.facebook.com/MelissaBenderFitness

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/BenderFitness

Twitter: www.twitter.com/BenderFitness

Serene Husseini Interview

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Does lifting weights make you bulky? How do you start if you it’s all new to your? What does it take to be stage ready? Continuing in our quest to find out what makes the people who inspire others through their actions be so inspirational, we are so pleased that Serene Husseini agreed to talk to us about her journey from over weight to stage ready and help answer some of the questions that stop so many people from making the changes they desire.

Serene Hussein Squatting with Big Weights

Health and fitness is my true passion and I am finally on the path I believe I was supposed to take. This is surprising to me, even now, as I was once the chubby girl who hated exercise, loved fast food and didn’t give a thought to the impact it had on my health. I began weight-training around three years ago when I met my current partner in my local gym, and with his encouragement, I began to lift weights. Now, at the age of 24, I still love weight-training like I loved the first ever session – I crave that rush of satisfaction after a workout and how energised it makes you feel. What’s even more exciting, I now own that local gym! When once my journey was uncertain and blurred, the path has become crystal clear – I know exactly what I want in life and I won’t stop until I get there. Goals will be met and aspirations will be fulfilled.

Firstly Serene, Thankyou for speaking with us. Can you tell us if you have always being interested in being in great shape, or was there a moment that felt you wanted to change/improve your health?

No, I haven’t always been in shape. I started exercising after returning home from university and realising I had gained nearly 2 stone! I had begun to dislike what I had become but even then, I wasn’t hugely motivated to exercise – I had to be pushed through classes at the gym and hated the thought of battling the treadmill. But I knew I wanted to lose weight and improve my health so stuck at it for a couple of years. The real turning point was when I started weight-training – I became an addict from the off-set and I haven’t looked back since! I loved the way it made me feel and the way my body changed as a result.

How do you keep yourself motivated when you have to deal with work, life and everything else we deal with on a daily basis?

Well I am fortunate enough to own a gym where I work full time so I rarely need to ‘find’ motivation. It’s just there, both right in front of me and within me, and working out to me is like any other daily activity like eating, drinking, sleeping. I know it’s going to happen whatever my mood so I don’t need to stress about it too much. I have no excuses!  Plus, the members are fantastic, hugely supportive and always interested in how my prep is going.

Is there anyone that you look to for inspiration, someone who offers great advice, or just has an amazing body that you aspire to be somewhat like?

Wow, that’s a difficult one. I admire lots of bikini and figure competitors including Ava Cowan, Nicole Wilkins, Ashley Horner and Felicia Romero to name a few. I feel I can identify best with Felicia in terms of physique but also because she seems to be a true girly girl like me.  However, I also love Andrea Brazier’s look! In terms of advice, I turn to my coach, IFBB pro and former Mr Olympia competitor, Eddie Abbew, IFBB pro Dennis Francis who trains at my gym, as well as a huge array of people who I communicate with through Twitter. I love my fellow tweeters!

You are a Personal trainer, can you tell me how it makes you feel when women say to you they don’t want to get bulky?

The proof is in the pudding – all I have to do is ask them if they think (as a size 8), I look masculine or too ‘bulky’ and when they reply ‘No’, I tell them that I train intensely 5 days a week, I consume my bodyweight and a half in protein daily and use extra supplements like creatine, amino acids and HMB to build as much muscle as I possibly can so their few sessions a week will not make them become big or bulky. They will only become tighter and more toned.

What would you say to someone, to try and re-educate them that this isn’t the case?

Firstly I would explain that whilst cardiovascular exercise is great for health purposes and burns a few pounds, it won’t change the shape of their body. If they want a smaller waist, pert bum, shapely legs and defined arms and shoulders then weight-training is the answer. Most women want to look feminine and curvaceous and this is where weights can help. Not only that, resistance training keeps the metabolism higher for longer and muscle burns calories at a speedy rate. Additionally, muscle is denser and takes up a smaller surface area so looks tighter and smaller on the body. Therefore, the more muscle a person has, the quicker fat is burned and the tighter and more toned they appear!

What advice would you have for someone that wants to start lifting weights but has no idea what to do?

I would advise them to find a good Personal Trainer to ensure that they learn good form and technique from the beginning as poor technique can result in serious injury. I would suggest they start out using light weights and higher repetitions practising isolation moves for each body part so that they learn to engage each muscle properly. When they feel more confident, they can then attack the bigger compound moves and increase the weight.

You recently stood on stage for the first time, can you tell me about that experience?
Yes I did my first show with only 6 months of preparation – the UKBFF qualifier and placed 2nd with an invite to the British in October 2012! I was pretty nervous backstage but as soon as I got on the stage the nerves fell away and the feeling was incredible. I just told myself this is it, I’ve worked my butt off for it so show off and I did! When I received an invite to the Championships, I couldn’t believe it and dived straight into preparation for the next show without a second thought.

What made you take on the challenge of competing?

I had been weight-training intensely for a year and a half and trialling various methods of dieting. Other gym members would ask me what sport I was training for and I also replied ‘nothing, I just like to train’. Then I started to become more familiar with female fitness competitors in magazines like Flex and mentioned in passing to Dennis Francis that maybe I could compete one day but secretly never thought I’d be ready anytime soon. In that instant, he was on the phone to Eddie Abbew and a few weeks later I was sitting with Eddie discussing preparations for competition! It all happened so quickly, I barely had time to reconsider and I’m glad I didn’t!

People will assume that because you are a PT, you would know everything to get yourself in competition shape, so can you tell us why you would choose a coach, and the importance of having that experience when you want to take your body to the next level?

While I know a lot about preparing my physique for show (you quickly get used to your body and the way it works), I cannot stress how important it is to have a coach. Firstly, Eddie knows a million times more than I do, he has worked with thousands of bodies and has probably been in every possible situation.  Secondly, towards the end of dieting, you become more tired and weak from a lack of carbohydrates and what you see in the mirror is often not a true reflection of yourself. Having an extra pair of eyes there is great as he can direct me all the way in accordance with how my physique changes. Most importantly, you need someone who is honest – as family members and loved ones can be soft for fear of hurting your feelings – and Eddie is just that! He will tell me his thoughts exactly and for that, I cannot thank him enough.  The few weeks before stage are crucial and everything must be done exactly right to bring your best to the stage.

You are in the middle of preparing for another competition this year. Can you tell me what you enjoy, or find hard about the preparation stages?

To be honest, I enjoy the dieting and prep for stage. I am sort of in prep all year round but the diet is tightened 14 weeks out. Within this time, I do have my down days when I just wish I could sit on the sofa and eat chocolate but I just keep reminding myself of how I want to look on stage and I am instantly back on track. With dieting, it’s a game of you’re in or you’re out and I choose to be 100% in – if I don’t look as good as I should up on stage, I want to be able to say ‘at least I tried my best’ – I don’t want to give myself reasons for why I wasn’t as conditioned as I could have been or as defined, so I stick to the plan exactly.

As your diet and preparation becomes more strict in the last 12 weeks leading up to an event, how do you juggle social events, eating out. Do you need to just say no?

Socialising is very difficult during the final 12 weeks. Alcohol is most certainly a no-no however I do generally have a weekly cheat meal until the final weeks so can often base any social events around these. Often I will go to events with my own tupperwares but if it is in the last 4-6 weeks, I often just avoid socialising altogether because it’s just easier.

Are your friends/family supportive at this time, or do you find yourself constantly saying no to people trying to feed you lol?

Yes and yes. I am fortunate to have an amazing family and friends who are hugely supportive of what I do and my aspirations in life. My partner is my rock – he keeps me grounded and helps me throughout contest prep and he is the one that has to deal with my mood swings close to competition! Yes I do find people constantly want to feed me, especially when I am dieting which can make it more difficult but after you have said no over and over, they understand and stop offering. Haha! I fly abroad to see my grandma post-competition so she can enjoy feeding me up!

Finally, can you tell us what your favourite exercise is, what your favourite cheat meal is, and who your favourite inspiration is?

Oooh tough question! My favourite exercise would have to be Romanian Deadlifts (Note from Mark – these are often mis-titled Stiff Leg Deadlifts, they are quite similar, but there are important differences. Have a read at THIS if you haven’t already for more on this) –  nothing hits the spot quite like it and hamstring training is brutal! My favourite cheat meal – if I want a real cheat I’d choose a burger and chips (preferably a gourmet burger place with organic beef!) but if I fancy something a little cleaner, I’d opt for peri-peri chicken or sushi. Finally, my fave inspiration would probably be Felicia Romero! I just love her whole image and I can identify with her body shape and tone. She also seems grounded, level-headed, girly and dedicated which I like!

Interviewed by Barbara Graham for our Beginners Guide to Getting Ripped page – Check it out for more information and post your own questions for Serene and she just might pop in to answer them.

You can follow Serene on Twitter as she prepares for the next UKBFF qualifier: @Serene_Husseini

Jeremy Reid Interview

Friday, January 18th, 2013

Ever thought you are so far off ripped that it is something you could never achieve? Jeremy Reid is here to not just tell you different, but to show you. He wasn’t born a body builder nor did he think he would be when he started his journey, but he is living proof of what momentum and dedication can truly achieve. Through our quest to show a ‘Beginner’s Guide to Getting Ripped’ we felt that Jeremy was a fantastic role model and someone that everyone, no matter what level, could learn from.

Jeremy Reid Fitness

We approached Jeremy about sharing his story and inspiration and he very graciously agreed to speak with us about his journey. Have a read, feel inspired and follow his continued journey and inspiration.

Can you tell us what things happened that made you decided to turn your life around and get in serious shape?
It all really started when I weighed myself for the first time in a long time. The scale read 280lbs and it scared me, I certainly knew I was “heavy” but not that heavy. However I didn’t take action for several more months and several more pounds later (I’m guessing my start weight was around 300lbs). I had no experience in training or nutrition but knew that I needed to exercise so I joined a gym and did cardio 6-7 days a week, and at least do some of the basic nutrition things everyone knows about (stop drinking regular soda, no fast food, no candy, etc.). I also was a heavy smoker and I knew that had to go so I immediately stopped smoking, as well as drinking alcohol heavily. Just off that alone I dropped about 70-80 pounds in a matter of months. Shortly after starting I did as much research as I could on nutrition and fitness to take everything to the next level.

When you started out, did you simply want to lose a few lbs, or did you know you would keep going until you were in such awesome shape?
When I was first starting out I just knew I needed to drop some fat. I never imagined I’d start competing as a bodybuilder in the future, I just knew I was obese. After I lost about 60 pounds I started lifting weights and quickly fell in love with the way it made me feel and once some more fat came off, the way it made me look.
How do you keep yourself motivated when you have to deal with work, life and everything else on a daily basis? Motivation has never really been a problem for me. I set my mind to something and I make it happen. From the moment I started lifting weights I’d look at the photos in the magazines of these big guys and I’d picture those muscles on me. I burned that image in my head and strive after that not only in my workouts, but all day when meals need to be eaten, or prepped, etc.

Even now, I have multiple jobs, a family of 5 to support, etc. but it’s such a priority to me that I just make it happen.

Is there anyone that you look to for inspiration, someone who offers great advice?
There are a lot of people I look to for inspiration. Honestly all these people on my page that tell me I’m an inspiration, it makes me work harder and fuels that fire even hotter in me. The coach I hired for my first contest prep ended up becoming a very close friend. He is a huge national level bodybuilder and has shared so much advice and guidance in the last couple years it’s amazing and I am extremely grateful.

Did you hire a coach or trainer, or is everything self-taught?
I was self-taught for many years. I’ve learned a lot from talking with other people that obviously knew what they were talking about, and reading a lot of books and websites. I did study and get my personal training certificate a few years ago just to do it and advance my knowledge. It wasn’t until I started my prep for my first bodybuilding competition that I hired a coach to do my diet and workouts.

What advice would you have for someone that wants to start lifting weights but has no idea what to do?
Something that is very important to me now but I never considered when I started, is injury. I LOVE the sport of bodybuilding and something like a torn muscle could take me out of it so I lift smart and use proper form to make sure I am bringing incredible intensity in the gym but not to the point where I am going to hurt myself long term. Accidents could happen, and I have injuries I work through, but that makes it even more important to lift smart. I’d say if you are just starting out, do as much research as you can. If you can afford it, hire an experienced personal trainer to guide you into this sport the right way.

What made you take on the challenge of competing?
It was simply the next step. I had been living the lifestyle of a bodybuilder so naturally I wanted to at least experience it once. I hired a coach, we picked a show and did it.

As your diet and preparation becomes more strict in the last 12 weeks leading up to an event, how do you juggle social events, eating out. Do you need to just say no?
Yes and no, if it’s an event that I can pass up on without hurting a friends or family members feelings, I’d rather just stay home and focus. However I have went to several events in the past while dieting for a show or photo shoot. I usually show up with my trusty cooler of meals and simply drink water. I try to stay away from restaurants, but have gone to several during preps with family and didn’t eat the food.

Are your friends/family supportive, or do you find yourself constantly saying no to people trying to feed you lol?
All in all, they are supportive. My immediate family especially is very supportive but as we go to friends house sometimes they don’t really know just how restrictive my diet needs to be at times, and I have gotten a lot of judgment because of it. It comes with the sport.

Finally, can you tell us what your favourite workout is, what your favourite cheat meal is, and who your favourite inspiration/athlete is?
YES! I LOVE lifting arms, I’ve always had a large torso, big chest, big back, but small arms, even now they are a lagging body part so I love to go in there and just destroy them, then walk around with them all pumped up wishing that was the size they’d stay at! Haha

My 2 favorite foods for cheat meals are either a HUGE homemade cheeseburger and a mountain of baked fries, or a pizza.

Without a doubt my favorite bodybuilder is IFBB pro Mark Dugdale. I have always liked his physique but after seeing his videos and then talking with him it was awesome to see how much he loves God and puts God and his family first. That was such an inspiration to me. I was blessed with the opportunity to catch a couple workouts with Mark last year. It was amazing. I learned so much and got to go to dinner with him and his wife, they are both amazing people and we’ve kept in touch since.

What are your personal goals for 2013?
I’m excited I finally created my Facebook page, I have always liked helping people and this will allow me a platform to help and inspire on a much larger scale. I plan to be very active on here this year. As far as my physique goals, I competed in NPC middle weight at my last show. I was at the very top of the weight class so I am taking the year to build as much muscle as possible and hopefully come into 2014 as a competitive light heavy weight.

Interview by Barbara Graham through our Facebook resource – Beginners Guide to Getting Ripped – Check it out for more tips and information.

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!

The Jodie Marsh Effect

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

If you are the type to keep up to date with the gossip magazines, tabloids or daytime TV in the UK, then you have likely seen the latest photos of Jodie Marsh from her competition in the NPA.

If you haven’t been so blessed or simply stay away from such publications then you can see the photos Here.

So did you have an opinion?

Personally I knew nothing about it until I heard the cat calling and back biting comments across the social networking sites and throughout the gym.

Jodie Marsh has never been top of my radar in the celebrity world. I have generally considered her a wannabe who has made a career from looking a little bit like Jordan (Katie Price) and being a general loudmouth who gets her photo snapped at every opportunity either from falling out of a club or out of her dress.

However, this latest endeavour has given me at least some level of respect for her.

It’s all very well to have an opinion of her fame and whether she is deserving of it,  but there is no denying that to compete to the level she has takes discipline. The results may not be to your particular taste, but if you are sporting a spare tire or a quality set of love handles, are you really in a position to judge?

The fact is, she has gone from late night binging, clubbing and partying and found discipline and dedication to a focused pursuit. And so long as she is happy with the result then that is all that truly matters.

Since the photos were published I have heard so many comments (mainly from Women as it happens) on how awful she looks, how her make-up is a joke, how her fake tan is ridiculous, that she looks freakish, blah blah blah.

Yet these same comments have almost exclusively come from people who are out of shape. Even those who have commented whilst working out are in fairly poor shape, train with no intensity, focus or drive, use sloppy technique and quite frankly are just embarrassing themselves by being so critical of someone who has achieved more than they have.

As for the make-up and fake tan, that is just part of being judged under stage lighting. Personally I like that the tan covers up the body art that she has become so attracted to lately (though that’s just personal preference)

Arguments that she used steroids or, due to her fame, has no other distractions and was able to hire people to do the thinking for her, true or not, don’t mean it was easy. She still put the hours in, did the training, whilst controlling her diet and lifestyle. That’s no easy task regardless of your circumstances.

Thing is, if she was just another bodybuilder, people may have an opinion if they saw her, but there wouldn’t be nearly the same level of gossip. Perhaps she brought that on herself through her quest for self promotion, but that doesn’t alter the fact that this is an improved road for her and one that should be applauded rather than damned.

Still that is just my opinion and I’m sure there are others.

So what are your views on Jodie’s new look? Do you appreciate her efforts? Do you think she warrants the negativity she has received? Do you consider her inspirational or ‘freakish’? Or do you have another point of view entirely?

Comment below and let me know.

Why Count Reps? – Every Rep Counts!

Monday, September 19th, 2011

If you have ever spent any time in a gym, lifted weights or even if you have only read the odd magazine or internet article, you will invariably have seen some kind of rep prescription. 3 sets of 10 reps; 5 sets of 5 reps; 2 sets of 12 reps…

But what does it mean? Why would you want to stick to those reps? Why do you need to count reps at all?

There are a couple of reasons why a set number of reps are commonly used in the creation of training programmes.

The first is to develop progression and give a target.

If you were able to lift a set weight for 10 reps last time round, perhaps you want to force out 12 this time. That’s progression, you have lifted more, so you have improved and you will force your muscles to develop. By having the number in your head you know what you have to achieve. There is a finish line in sight. So when you get to 8 reps and it starts to burn, you can tell yourself you haven’t made your target yet and force through to find the additional 4 reps.

The other reason has a more academic foundation.

There have been a number of studies carried out on the effects of different rep ranges on muscular development. Although each study used differing parameters, the general conclusions were that, lifting in the lower rep ranges (below 6 reps) is optimal for strength increase and mid range reps (8-12) were best for hypertrophy.

The higher rep ranges (12+) resulted in differing conclusions depending on the study. Strengthening of tendons; lengthening the muscle fibres; endurance within the movement etc. All these have been shown as optimal reasons for using this rep range.

So when someone is devising a programme they will generally use these rep ranges as a guide depending on their primary focus.

Both reasons are perfectly valid and can happily be used as a tool within your training regime. The problem comes when these reasons become gospel. They are the rules and there is no deviating from them.

There is no doubt that progression is important for development when training and that utilizing reps as a method of tracking your progression is a useful tool. Having that target in mind is certainly a way of ensuring you push far enough to promote progression.

What you should remember though is development is never linear. You can’t force a one or two rep progression with every workout. You may be able to for a few weeks, but eventually that progression will stop. That doesn’t mean, as is often claimed, that you have hit a plateau. More likely you have just spent the first few weeks becoming anatomically adapted to the movement, which made it look more like muscular progression. But it is often at this point that the real development starts.

In other words, constantly changing your routine whenever you appear to plateau is not as good an idea as it may appear.

Also, just because you can’t do more or even as much as you did previously, doesn’t necessarily mean you have gotten weaker. You could be just as strong, or perhaps stronger, but if you’ve had a long, stressful day or a poor night’s sleep, you can’t expect your body to perform optimally.

[intlink id=”979″ type=”post”]See this article for more on this.[/intlink]

Not only that, but what if you are particularly invigorated on a particular day? Setting yourself a target could be very limiting.

Say you managed 10 reps last time, so today you are going to push out 12. What if you actually had enough in the tank for 15 or 16? You start to struggle at 11 so stop at 12, after all you made your target, you have just lost the opportunity for an additional 3 or 4 reps.

So, you can see, using reps as a target is generally not the optimal way to train.

Not all reps are equal.

How you lift is crucial to the return you get. As I covered in [intlink id=”1047″ type=”post”]This Article[/intlink] you should be looking to give your all in every rep. Either you should be lifting explosively with full contraction and constant tension on the muscle or carrying out controlled negatives enforcing your mind muscle connection etc.

Regardless of the technique you are employing, every rep requires you to give it your full, undivided attention.

If you are busy counting reps, that is just another distraction you don’t need and most likely you will start to think about how many you have left rather than making the most of the rep you are on.

It is for that reason that I generally prefer to work in the lower rep ranges.

Which brings us to reason number 2 – Different rep ranges should be used for different results.

It is issues like this that show the difference between pure science and real world application.

In a like for like situation it may well be mildly optimal for each result to be in the rep range described earlier. But regardless of your target, all rep ranges will show some kind of improvement. Low reps will cause hypertrophy and high reps will increase strength (assuming you are nutritionally set).  However, working in the low rep range will allow you to maintain focus on each and every rep.

Generally I have found that, above 6 reps, most people lose their intensity and focus and start looking to get through to the end.

You should always aim to do is as much work as you can.

Your muscle fibres will always fire in order (smallest to largest) and the way to get to the larger fibres is to apply as much force from the muscle as possible.

The most common route for doing that is to add weight. But if you remember your high school physics, weight (or mass) is only part of the equation.

Force = Mass x Acceleration

So the other factor is acceleration. If you accelerate a lighter weight faster than you would a heavy weight, you are potentially generating the same amount of force. To that end, the optimal movement would obviously be to accelerate a heavy weight fast.

If your target is hypertrophy, the convention might be to do 3 sets of 10, but what if you did 10 sets of 3? What if you just kept the rest periods short and gave your full focus to every one of the 3 reps? You would be able to use a heavier weight, but you’d still do the same number of reps. The volume would be greater and you would have lifted with greater intensity. And if you are lifting at that low rep range, you don’t need to count. 3 is easy to track. And if you only do 2 or you do 4, so what?

Just keep your focus on the individual reps, not the number.

If, on the other hand, your training requires you to be working in the higher rep ranges (8-12), you still don’t need to count. If you end up doing 15 or more, you will be very aware that the set has gone on too long and you need a heavier weight. If you only managed 5, you will know it wasn’t enough without counting the reps out and that your weight is too heavy.

Just focus on each individual rep, make every rep count and continue to push until you have truly failed (assuming maximum reps were the purpose of the exercise).

That way, you are more likely to be focused on your form, your technique, your contractions, your range of motion and you will be getting much more in return from your workout. If you have given up time out of your day to go and make improvements, then why waste reps?

Stop getting hung up on numbers. Yes it’s good to see progression, but if you are giving your all at all times, the progression will come. Feel free to test yourself every few months, but don’t get caught up on bean counting.

Numbers are meaningless for most people. You want your body to look good, you want to feel good, you want to improve, so make the most of every element and don’t get distracted by reps, weight or time. They are simply distractions and you have enough to focus on.

Make the most of your workouts. Stop counting reps and make EVERY rep count!

Too Tired to Workout?

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

Over the last few articles I’ve covered some of the often quoted excuses for not fulfilling your potential in your search for a new physique.

We’ve covered using your [intlink id=”901″ type=”post”]work as an excuse[/intlink]  and we’ve looked at reasons why not doing thing because you [intlink id=”943″ type=”post”]don’t like it[/intlink] could be hindering your progress.

Today I want to explore the scenario of being “too tired to workout”

This isn’t an ‘excuse’ per say. This is something to be very mindful of. If you haven’t slept well or stress of the day has gotten the better of you and you are lethargic when you hit the gym, often pushing through regardless is the worst thing you can do.

I’m not saying you should do nothing, but just because you did 5 sets of 8 with 100kg on the bar last time, doesn’t mean you should be looking to match or beat that this time.

As a Personal Trainer, it is generally accepted that one of my responsibilities would be to push clients to their limit each time. However, that is not the case and trainers who follow that mantra for every session could be forcing their clients beyond their means.

Remember, your body reacts, grows or develops when you recover not when working out. So you are always looking to do the most work that you can optimally recover from. If you are in a depleted or fatigued state, your ability to recover is compromised, so you cannot put as much stress on your system and expect to develop. Not only that, but your form is likely to suffer making you more susceptible to injuries.

So if I’m training a client, often times my role is to rein them in and protect them from their own enthusiasm.

If their fatigue levels are particularly bad, I’ll look to change the workout entirely and do more of an activation workout to try and stimulate their CNS. Often this is enough to spark their intensity to a level allowing a phenomenal training session. Other times it will energize them enough to get through the rest of the day and promote a good night’s sleep. This, in turn, generates a much better intensity for the next session.

However, being too tired is never an excuse to do nothing. You can always do some kind of workout and as I said above, it can often lead to a great training session or, at the very least, stimulate a better workout next time.

You should remember that improvement is not about individual workouts. As I stated in the article [intlink id=”627″ type=”post”]playing the long game [/intlink] you should be looking for the cumulative effect of everything you do. So even if a day is not optimal, it is still a point on your development and should be considered as part of your overall progress rather than a day off.

So next time you think you are too tired to train, just remember, you made a commitment, you made an appointment with yourself (you should have this appointment in your diary, it is as important as any other meeting). Remember that goal you set yourself, remember why you set it, re-connect with the emotion then go get started.

Listen to your body as you go. Use your emotional connection with your result to push you to work as hard as you can, but if your focus is poor or you form is suffering, change up what you are doing. Look to use some plyometric training, some explosive work or, at the very least, go for a jog and get some oxygen flowing through your lungs. Then re-assess.

Do you feel more focused now?

If so, ramp up the level again. If not, then you can go home, prep something healthy and nutritious to eat and ensure a good night’s sleep ready to give your all the next day.

If, however, you have the same issue several days in a row, then you have a deeper issue that needs to be addressed.

Start keeping a training log along with your food diary. See if there is any correlation between eating habits and fatigue. Make a note of how much sleep you are getting each night. Make a note of how often you are working late (this goes back to the [intlink id=”901″ type=”post”]too much work excuse[/intlink] and in particular, note each time you have a ‘too tired’ day.

Remember, your health is everything. Without it, your work will suffer, your home life will suffer, your mental health will deteriorate, your relationships will suffer and you increase your risk of permanent issues.

I’ll say it again, you cannot buy your health back. Your health and wellbeing should be your priority not a luxury.

So if you need to put a stop to overtime for a few weeks, stop agreeing to nights out or maybe even stop yourself sitting up too late with the TV, Xbox or Online Poker, make a concerted effort to do so. Spend your time ensuring you are preparing healthy meals, training well and winding down for a good night’s sleep.

Make YOU your priority for a while.

Two or Three weeks should be all you need.

You may think you can’t afford the time, but really, you can’t afford not to give yourself the time.

Remember, training is a stress on the body that, through recovery, you respond and improve from. But if you fill your life with other stresses, you never recover and you are simply annihilating your nervous system. So you can train all you like, but your physique will never improve and you will not be able to undo the stresses of the day.

Stop living for other people and take some time for yourself. The world won’t stop just because you have taken a step back and long term, every aspect of your life will benefit.

So with another common excuse out of the window, hopefully you are running out and have taken the time to reflect on how they are affecting your progress. But there are many more extremely common restrictions to cover and we’ll get to a very big one next time around.

In the meantime, find a way to increase your vitality and energy levels, to increase your training focus, which will improve your recovery, health and vitality, which will increase your energy levels. And the spiral continues. Re-affirm that commitment to change and go make some improvements starting today.

And as ever, I encourage you to leave your thoughts or associated problems or excuses below. Or perhaps your own views on how to deal with them.

The more excuses we can leave behind the more we all benefit and I very much appreciate the feedback.

[intlink id=”1018″ type=”post”]Part 5…  The Injury Excuse[/intlink]