Home Archives 2011 June 2

Daily Archives: Jun 2, 2011

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Today in the majority of muscle building publications you will read about the importance of low reps, usually between 8-12 no more, in order to make maximum gains with a rest period of around 120 seconds between sets. This does indeed work and causes great stimulation and growth in your FAST twitch muscle fibers, however, by constantly sticking to this form of training your missing a trick. This article is going to educate on the importance of using pyramids to make maximum gains and why it is you should use them!

As mentioned above 99% of the time for muscle building it is heavily endorsed that low rep work is to be used in order to stimulate maximum muscle growth. Considering that your arms for instance are made of around 60% fast twitch muscle fibers it is easy to understand why this is the case. Or is it, because that means that 40% of your arm is made up of slow twitch muscle fibers! Therefore by neglecting your slow twitch muscle fibers whilst training you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to make some serious gains. So now you understand the importance of training your slow twitch muscle fibers as well as your fast twitch muscle fibers in order to maximize your growth you now need to understand how pyramids are relative to this.

As the name indicates, pyramids use the principles of working your way up to something. For instance, you may begin with a weight where you fail at 20 repetitions, then 15 repetitions all the way down to 6. The progression of pyramids means that you hit 100% of your muscle fibers, both slow and fast twitch. In turn, what this means is that you’re certain you are benefitting from the growth of all of your muscle fibers which will ultimately lead to better muscle mass gains.

So how do pyramids achieve this? Well, essentially using a repetition range of between 18-25 for the first set of an exercise and then increasing the weight slightly each set and gradually lowering the reps performed, your sure to hit every muscle fiber. Your slow twitch muscle fibers will take over after around 12 reps, as the lactic acid gets too much it will require oxygen to continue. Therefore using pyramids in your training sessions, working your way down from a higher rep range to a low rep range is certainly a great way to maximize your growth potential. You will also notice that by doing this you will look more pumped and have a better overall look to your physique.

There you have the reasons as to why using the principles of pyramids are essential in making maximum gains.

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One the hardest exercises to perform with good form for a whole set are pull-ups. This is because you moving a dead weight with each repetition. More than that, pulling up opposed to pulling a weight from underneath you (bent over barbell rows) is always more difficult. However, once you look beyond the difficulty, learning to master this exercise and use it every week will compound your gains!

Chin ups are just one variation of this great exercise. Simply put, you take a wide grip on the bar with your palms facing away and pull-up until your chin is at least parallel with the bar. This grip focuses on your latts, and it is excellent for developing overall width. In fact, I would say this is the ultimate v-taper building exercise!

Reverse grip pulls ups are another favourite and rightly so! This exercise also hits your latts, but it is also more effective at hitting the middle portion of your back at the top of each repetition. This one is particularly difficult to stop your body swinging, but that is down to your core strength and as you progress so will your core! This variation of pull up is great for adding thickness to your entire back!

Behind the head chin ups are another fantastic way to use your own body weight to hit your back! However, these take an immense level of strength therefore it may take you a while to get a decent set with this exercise! It hits all of your back, but it is particularly good at developing the upper portion of your back including the traps and rhomboids!

If you are a seasoned gym bunny, then pull ups should be something you can do for at least 12 repetitions. To really develop your back, try adding these variations to a wide grip chin up!

1 – At the top of the repetition push yourself away from the bar. It may only be a couple of inches, but this really hits your lower portion of the back and helps develop your overall v-taper. This is seriously hard but well worth it!

2 – Hold yourself at an angle, so that your back is lying more parallel to the ground. Again, this is very difficult but it puts an immense level of stress on your back muscles!

For beginners, who like couldn’t initially do many pull ups here are a few tips to get your strength up. Once you can get 6 per set you can start using pull ups as part of your workout. Until then, just use them to start your back workouts to help develop your ‘pull up’ strength.

1 – Even if you can only do one, do that repetition before every back workout and hold for as long as you can at the top and control the negative on the way down. This will really build your strength fast!

2 – Aim to add 1 rep to your set every other week! If you can only do one, aim to be able to do 2 slow and controlled reps in 2 weeks. This way you are forcing your body to get stronger!

3 – If doing one is too much, use an assisted pull-ups machine. This will take some of the weight off, and just apply the principles above to gradually build your strength. Make it very progressive so that your body is forced to get stronger!

There you have a few tips on how to really get the most out of pull-ups! Once you can get 3-5 good sets with these exercises your back will take shape very quickly!

Getting motivated to do something you may not feel completely comfortable with is easier said than done! Sometimes the best way to get motivated to is write down your goal and then find people who can help you achieve this! Here are my top 3 tips to getting motivated like never before, no bull, just plain common sense from real life experience to get you in the mood for change!

Negative people

In any walk of life you will have encountered people who want to bring you down, tell you that you cannot achieve something or make you feel upset! Embrace this and use this to fuel your fire on lazy days! Everyone gets them, I do, but when I begin to even consider being lazy I just think of everyone who wants me to fail and that gives me a good old kick up the arse!!! We all need this sometimes, and there is no better way than to think of those who doubt you! Prove them wrong, be the one who has the final laugh!

Positive people

Surrounding yourself with like minded people is one of the best ways to achieve anything in any walk of life, in my opinion! If you want to be a millionaire, you would want to mix with the Alan Sugars of the future. People who haven’t yet hit their goal, but are on the way and more importantly have that mindset to achieve it. This is exactly the same with fat loss, you need to mix with people who have committed themselves to get into shape, have found a way to do it and are in the process of achieving their goal. Maybe somebody who is just a few weeks ahead of you in progress because this will spur you on and the feedback you get will keep you going! Seeing where you could end up by emulating somebody else’s efforts is very inspiring!

Choose your goal!

Don’t stray off track, stick to your own goals and travel your very own journey! If somebody has the body you truly crave and the lifestyle to match, idolise them and learn as much as you can off them. Looking at the way somebody else enjoys their physique, the one you would choose in an ideal world is a very powerful way to stay motivated! Personally, I had several people who I aspired to look like and be like, as I have progresses I now aspire to be Adam Gethin to my best ability! This is the kind of confidence you can achieve once you stick to your guns for long enough!

There are 3 very easy to use ways in order to ensure your motivation levels always remain high! Many people will tell you many different things; these are things I personally experienced through the highs and lows of my journey up until today!

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There is lots of content on FitMag outlining what foods you need to eat, how to train and what supplements to use to get into shape! However, to ensure that EVERYBODY gets the basic foundations in place here is a 7 step guide to ‘getting ripped’ for the summer! Everything you need to know and to get ripped is here, and if it isn’t it’s not worth knowing!!!

Step 1 –

Nutrition is KING; I have said it so many times before I will say it so many times again. Get this fundamental rule into your head and you will get shredded! Research and real life experiences of thousands of athletes have proven you need 5 small solid meals a day! For the first 3 meals eat with a ratio of 40:40:20 protein, low G.I carbohydrates and fats. For the last two solid meals of the day cut out your complex carbohydrates and replace them with fibrous carbohydrates. Make sure you are drinking at least 4 litres of clear water a day which will really help burn body fat, and limit water retention!

Step 2 –

Weight train! If you don’t weight train start to if getting ripped means so much to you! If you are afraid of getting too bulky, don’t be because you won’t gain that much muscle mass in a couple of months. There is nothing as effective as resistance training for burning calories! Focus on compound movements which are multi-joint exercises. Squats, leg pressing, bench pressing and shoulder pressing are all good examples of these! By gaining a small amount of lean muscle tissue, your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) is also increased which again burns additional calories!

Step 3 –

Get your cardio training sorted! I would say about 90% of the people who ask for advice on fat burning will be doing cardio in the form of jogging! This is great for improving your aerobic capacity, but not for fat burning. Simply put, your body cannot breakdown body fat quick enough as an effective energy source when you run. When you do low impact cardio like brisk walking or cycling, it can and it will! To begin with aim to do 20 minutes 5 times a week before breakfast, and then add 10 minutes a day every week thereafter! Make sure you do your cardio on an empty stomach, that isn’t just for show there is a very good reason behind it. If you were to eat before hand, your muscle glycogen levels will be full therefore your body will utilise this as energy, not your stored body fat!

Step 4 –

Supplements really do make a huge difference! If in the past you have found supplements not to work very well, I would bet it was due to a poor diet and lack of training. Now you have got your diet, training and cardio in place supplements can make between 15-25% in difference to your results! Get a quality fat burner such as Anabolic Designs Shredabull, Grenade or N.A.R Redline. Also get a first class CLA product such as USN CLA Thermo. Finally, definitely use an L-Carnitine product, such as the one Reflex offer! These products will really get your thermogenesis up, which will burn off lots of calories for you. They will also actively help your body utilise your body fat in order to decrease the amount of stored fat you have by the end of your diet!

Step 5 –

Keep your ‘why’ goal in mind at all times! To do anything in life there has to be a ‘why’ and dieting is no different. Why keeping your true reason for dieting in mind it will make you get your food prepared on time, not miss meals, take all your supplements, get up to do your cardio and travel to the gym! Anytime you feel weak, remind yourself ‘why’ you are doing this! Don’t ever lose sight of that, this is going to be your mental strength tool to keep you progressing!

Step 6 –

Weigh yourself everyday in order to get a true idea of your weight. How heavy you weigh is actually irrelevant, but seeing a small decrease of between 1-3 lbs a week is normal when you are dieting and it also does wonders for your morale. If you don’t drop weight don’t panic, but just keep an eye on it and stick to the game plan! Don’t be rash and skip meals to try and compensate as this will backfire, as will doing lots of extra cardio!

Step 7 –

Reward yourself with one cheat MEAL a week, not a whole day of binging! Looking forward to a cheat meal once a week will help keep you motivated and it will also give a short term goal to focus on! Make sure the meal is still nutritious though, so pizza and the likes of are off the menu! Meals like spaghetti bolognaise, roast dinner and shepherds pie are great because they actually contain all the quality nutrients you need! Don’t go over board with dessert, something like a slice of apple pie, an ice cream or cookie is ample. This way you are still satisfying your cravings without hampering your goals. Personally, I only allow myself a cheat meal IF my weight has dropped and I can see changes in the mirror. If I was to still cheat I would be mentally torturing myself because I wouldn’t stop beating myself up for it! Regret is a horrible thing, so only reward real progress NOT desire!

Following these 7 steps will get you into the shape of your life this summer! Set a date in which you have to be ripped by and commit! There is plenty of content on FitMag going into more detail on each of the ‘7 steps’ listed above. The beauty of this is you can be a 16 year old school boy or a 60 year old retired police woman! It doesn’t matter, this isn’t about looking ‘freaky’ it is about looking lean and healthy. Therefore this is applicable to just about anybody!

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With the outdoor athletics season having just begun, but with a holiday abroad booked a few months ago I faced the dilemma of how to maintain speed and strength whilst away. At the same time as enjoying my holiday and having time away from training to relax and enjoy myself. You might ask why I chose to take a holiday during what I knew would be athletics season. But with two seasons (indoors and outdoors) and preparatory seasons before those, there’s little time for a break in the sport of athletics anyway so you have to take them when you can.

Part of the balancing act between managing diabetes and doing well in sport is preparation. I don’t have the fortune to be able to decide to train on a whim without checking my blood sugars first and ensuring I’ve eaten the right amount of carbs in preparation. Planning to train when I was abroad on holiday was no different. So I took what I’ve broken down into 5 steps to ensure for success.

Step 1 session Planning-

Deciding what I wanted to get out of the sessions so no valuable beach time was missed. Before I left, I sat down with my coach and we discussed what was to be achieved both whilst away- speed and speed endurance and when I got back- the impending competition on the weekend after my return. We agreed on 3-4 sessions whilst away, breaking them down into speed endurance, pure speed and technical work.

Step 2 what kit to take

It seems silly but in previous years I’ve tended to bog myself down with too much kit preparing for all conditions. This time I checked the weather forecast and stuck to things that were dri-fit or quick drying and versatile like ¾ length leggings.

Step 3 check Out Facilities Before-

See in advance about training facilities in and around where you’re staying. Sometimes internet usage is expensive whilst abroad so it’s best to check in advance about track or gym usage. I went on holiday to Tenerife which claimed to have a track in both the north and south of the island. My hotel also claimed to have basic gym facilities.

Step 4 Go on Holiday!

On day one of every holiday I always use it to get used to the food and adapt my insulin regime according to both diet and the weather before I start training. I, e- when it’s hot I need less insulin because the heat speeds up the break down and sensitivity of it. I find cold weather has less of an impact. The quality of training is better if it’s not spent worrying about food or blood sugar levels because as at home, nutrition and forward planning are part of the base for successful training.

Step 5 Holiday food-

Obviously I’m a lot more relaxed on holiday with diet than at home as the aim is still to relax and have fun. But on training days I made sure I started the day right. A diet that suits me best in warm weather conditions whilst training, is high in protein and approximately 60 grams of carbs. (My normal amount is about 30-50grams for breakfast at home). The protein tends to come in the form of egg whites and the carbs a combination of fast acting and slow acting- E,g- orange juice and wholemeal toast or fruit like banana.

Like with most ‘plans’ some things don’t always go right. The tracks in Tenerife were either difficult to get to without the use of a car, expensive to use or both. So this is where the prior planning came into practice with adapting the sessions to the suit the facilities available to me.

The first session I’d planned with my coach was to do speed endurance in the form of 6 x 120m at high intensity. With the track unavailable I was lucky enough to find a paved hill stretching approx 150m. I used this same hill for both other speed sessions shortening the distance or for the sake of cadence running down it opposed to up. Near the hotel I was also lucky enough to find a set of 90 stairs where I was able to do a ply metric (bounding session) concentrating on speed of foot turnover and quick impact with the ground.

All in all I was really happy with the sessions completed on holiday, and carrying on training opposed to taking a week out mid-season. It also insured me a consistent blood sugar level throughout the week as I find that when I don’t maintain the intensity or frequency of training my blood sugars rise and I feel ill. Best of all I was rewarded a week later when I ran a new personal best time over the 100m and a seasons best over 200m at a British Athletics League Meet.

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Supplements are sometimes misunderstood, they are believed to be unnatural and dangerous by many, but a wise man once said “knowledge is power,” (Sir Frances Bacon, 1597). And if you increase your understanding of supplements you would realise how they could help transform you and the way you train. A supplement is a non-food substance that is used to augment the dietary intake of minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and/or herbs. Supplements serve many purposes; they can help you recover from training quicker, increase strength, energy, and burn fat amongst many other things. Nutrition is an important part of your training; it dictates the results that you are able to achieve from training. The demand you place upon your body is great during a workout and in order to optimise your workout and results you will need to replace what you are using and what your body needs to function at its best.

Now many supplements are found in natural foods, things like protein for example which is found in chicken and other foods. The recommended daily intake of protein for an athlete is anywhere between 1.5g -2g per pound in body weight. This is where a protein supplement would help. The required amount of daily protein is very high and some people are unable to take in this amount of protein from a natural source i.e. chicken. Using a protein shake would allow you to take in the required amount of protein quickly and efficiently on a daily basis giving your body the daily amount of protein that your body needs after training. The other benefits of a protein shake is the rate in which it is broken down, and gets to the muscles, after training your body needs protein with 30mins otherwise it would start to break down the muscles which you are working so hard trying to build. If you were to eat a chicken breast for example it would take around 45mins for the body to digest it, and by this time it is way too late. A protein shake on the other hand would be in the system within 20mins there for going directly to the muscles and rewarding your hard work.

You hear many people talk about side effects of things like protein shakes and many other supplements. Now, just like anything good for you too much of it can be bad for you, but just the right amount can be a beautiful thing. Now if you are unsure about a supplement, you should always research it and what it contains as you can find out truly how it will benefit your workout, like Creatine, which your body naturally processes, and is also found in meat like beef. If you top up your Creatine stores you will be able to run for longer, push more reps and train at a higher all-round intensity which will increase in bigger strength gains, muscle growth amongst other things, now doesn’t that sound good?! Supplements are going to help you take your training and results to the next level it’s going to aid you in every single way needed but whenever you think about trying out a new supplement insure to read the dosage and take them correctly then you should be fine. Always remember to drink at least 4 litres of clear drinking water a day as well to maintain overall health and to maximise the effects of your supplements!