What have I learnt about using weights? Well this goes along the same lines as supplements and diet; I started knowing not a lot, but over time I have improved my knowledge, and am always reading up on articles to make sure I optimise my workouts.
So where did I start – I was very weak, and I had no confidence to walk into the free weights area, that place was full of men who knew what they were doing, and were grunting a lot. I started out on the resistance machines, because they enabled me to stimulate my muscles without going into the free weights zone! Exercise machines like the chest press, pull down, bicep curl etc were all great machines to get me started! They were easy to use, helped me ensure I had good form, and that it was getting me on the right track.
As time went on I started to use more of the machines, and had a routine where I would superset machines, basically doing one exercise after another. I was doing 2 muscle groups at once, and it seemed to be working. It wasn’t until I decided to use a PT that he moved me to the free weight area, and that’s when the real fun began. I had no idea what I was missing out on, the different exercises you can do, the tempos, and routines. I was beginning to notice changes on almost a weekly basis as I started to use free weights!!! My strength was sky rocketing and my confidence was right with it!
However without a person showing me the exercises and pointing out issues with my form I could have done some real damage to myself, and as I learnt if you want to get stronger and stronger, your form is the most important thing, weight is almost irrelevant as long as you have the form 100% spot on. One of the best pieces of advice I was given “have lots of targets, not just one big one, but lots of little ones, that way you can measure the progress you are making over time” I started with a target of dipping with my own weight, as this has always looked a good exercise to me, and as time has gone on, not only have I smashed the target, I’m currently doing a set of dips with 18kg strapped to me! I have even become one of the grunters as I do really heavy weights. That is my story, how I came from one of the people who didn’t want to touch weights, to someone who used machines, then to be a grunter!!!
Weight training is one of the most effective ways to burn body fat! As you lift weights this can stimulate a massive expenditure in calories, which will hopefully equate to higher levels of fat loss over time! However, there are certain things you can do to really make your weight session an even more effective fat loss workout!
When people’s main goal is to shed body fat they tend to keep rest periods very short, in the region of 30 seconds, in order to help keep your heart rate elevated! Whilst it is important to keep your heart rate up in order to shed body fat, keeping your rest periods this short won’t necessarily enable you to train at a great intensity because you will fatigue too quickly! Therefore I would suggest keeping your rest periods to around 60-70 seconds because this will ensure your heart rate doesn’t drop too much, and it will also allow you to recover enough to lift heavy enough weights. Obviously, if you can train as heavy as possible then you are going to cause a greater expenditure in calories! I also believe by having 60-70 seconds rest opposed to 30, your heart rate will fluctuate more which can actually help stimulate fat loss more effectively!
Using a different range of repetitions will certainly help recruit a higher percentage of your muscle fibres, therefore you are again maximising the overall calorie expenditure. Furthermore, by using different repetition ranges your heart rate will be working at different levels, again promoting fat loss!
Compound exercises are the best way to maximise your calorie expenditure! These include bench pressing, squats, deadlifts, military pressing and leg press! The reason these exercises are so effective for promoting fat loss is because they recruit a lot more muscle power, compared to other exercises. As a result, more muscle fibres are working leading to an elevation in calories used! Simples!
When you hit the weights, don’t be so keen to strip down and show off your rippling muscles in that skimpy vest! Keep a hooded top on, wear a hat and even keep your hood up! Making yourself sweat more will lead to more calories being used! As you do this make sure you are glugging the water down because you will become dehydrated very easily otherwise!
There are 3 very easy ways to enhance your fat loss, whether you are male or female! As you know I am following a 12 week transformation as you read this and I am employing each of these strategies to maximise my progress!
Last week you were lucky enough to read from one of the most respect athletes in the health and fitness industry, Bobby Khan! Bobby has built one of the nicest male physiques around and he swears by Met-Rx supplements, and believes their products have made a massive contribution to his success along with a perfect diet, hours of intense training and dedication! Therefore I am going to outline to Bobby’s top 4 Met-Rx supplements and why they could help you achieve an awesome physique, as they have for Bobby!
Met-Rx Supreme Whey
This is the top of the range protein supplement from Met-Rx which promises to deliver on all levels a protein product should! Supreme Whey contains 20g of ultra high quality protein from whey isolate and whey concentrate. Both of these proteins are very fats digesting which means your overall rate of protein synthesis should be increased allowing for enhanced recovery and muscle growth! The carbohydrate content of Met-Rx Supreme whey is extremely low compared to other competitors with just 1.3g of sugar carbohydrates per serving! After speaking to Bobby he assured me that Supreme Whey tastes phenomenal! The chocolate one tastes absolutely sensational in your oats with some blueberries and strawberry chopped in there. The strawberry and banana ones taste lovely in a smoothie and the vanilla one is like a treat right after training!
Met-Rx Micronised Creatine
Creatine is a fantastic supplement to help promote strength and muscle size, and you heard Bobby himself tell you to use it! Met-Rx Micronised Creatine is a fantastic blend of creatines which have a massive potential to increase your ATP capacity. If you are able to increase your ATP output then it stands to reason you will have more power to lifter heavier weights, for more reps! Surely that will equate to muscle gains, it has to if you think about it logically! Met-Rx Micronised Creatine will also help you look bigger and fuller because it acts as a cell volumiser, meaning it sucks water into the muscle cell! This will also aid recovery and muscle growth as your nutrient uptake in the muscle cell is heightened!
Bobby said that you need BCAAs and here is why! Out of all the amino acids, BCAAs are the most rapidly absorbing! As you ingest your Met-Rx BCAAs approximately ¾ of them will be instantly absorbed into the muscle cell. BCAAs are able to significantly increase the overall rate of protein synthesis within your muscles leading to faster rates of recovery, growth and the power to combat catabolism! Met-Rx BCAAs are also able to provide additional muscle energy because they stimulate the production of L-Alanine, which is another amino acid which is known for its ability to support muscle energy. Seems like Bobby was right, BCAAs are absolutely essential for just about any athlete out there whatever your sport!
As you flick through the pages of fitness magazines and websites you will often see the amino acid L-Glutamine feature in the ‘supplements you must use’ column. Why? L-Glutamine potentially has the ability to increase your level of protein synthesis in the muscle cell and combat catabolism. It can also potentially help replenish your muscle glycogen levels post-workout, which is essential! Met-Rx L-Glutamine is a fantastic option due to the standard of Met-Rx’s line of products!
There are the top 4 Met-Rx supplements in their line from Bobby, although he does tend to use all of them to great effect! Personally, I would pick the same 4 out simply because of their standard and the fact these are all your ‘bread and butter’ supplements!
One of the most common things I hear from people when I help them with a diet is that they are always ‘’starving’’ before the gym. This is often because their working hours may not allow for a meal between lunch and training, leading to a 4-5 hour window with no food! Therefore it is important to get your thinking cap on in order to get that all important ‘snack’ or ‘meal’ in before the gym.
Ideally you want to be eating anywhere between 1 ½ and 2 hours before the gym in order for your body to have enough time to digest the food. If you eat too close to your session your body will be wasting energy digesting food when you need every calorie to help push the weights!!!
In a normal office working environment it can be very hard to prepare your food, therefore make sure you make all of your food at home before you go to work! One of my favourite foods to have as a healthy snack before the gym is a toastie. This doesn’t have to be made in a toastie maker; you can simply toast the brown bread and squeeze it together with your hands!!!
2 slices of wholemeal bread
½ chopped banana
Tablespoon of almond butter spread
Handful of raisins
This snack is loaded with slow digesting carbohydrates which are our main source of energy during an anaerobic and aerobic workout! The fats from the almond butter will help provide additional energy, however they will also ensure you don’t have that ‘starving’ feeling before you workout. Psychologically if you feel hungry before a workout the chances are you will be dragging your feet all the way in to the gym! The raisins give a small insulin spike to enhance your anabolism before your workouts. This isn’t strictly necessary but every little helps, and if you have had a relatively long period without food then this can help! You should also be knocking down a multi-blend timed release protein shake with this! My pick would be PhD 6HR Blend or Gaspari Myofusion.
If you have access to a microwave at work then there is no reason why you cannot cook up an omelette at home and just reheat for 40 seconds during your afternoon break! This is a fantastic ‘power up’ meal before the gym!
5 egg whites
1 whole egg
2 sliced mushrooms
1 sliced tomato
¼ sliced red pepper
¼ sliced green pepper
½ sliced banana (heated)
This omelette is oozing with quality proteins with a moderate digestive rate! The carbohydrates are slow burning which will fuel your workout like never before, and they will also fill you right up! It is so important to add the small details like the peppers, mushrooms and red onion because it really does go along way to adding taste. It is vital you enjoy your food, and by doing this you will be dribbling waiting for your afternoon break!
If time is really tight and you don’t have any facilities to warm up food or time to even eat a sandwich then this could be the next best thing! This takes a matter of seconds to prepare in the morning and it tastes so damn good!!!
1 chopped apple
1 tablespoon of almond butter
2 caramel wholegrain rice cakes
This snack contains a good source of carbohydrates with a mixture of low and moderate G.I carbs from the apple and wholegrain rice cakes. The almond butter spread on the apple slices tastes amazing, and if you are really open to experimenting then eat them on your caramel rice cakes! It is the closest thing to a toffee apple you will get to without cheating that’s for sure! Like with the toastie, be sure to get a multi-blend timed release protein in with this to top up the protein content!
There are 3 very easy to prepare pre-workout snacks! Sure, some may take your fancy whilst others wont be this is all down to personal taste. The most important thing is that the nutritional content is there and that you enjoy your food. Now you shouldn’t ever be hungry before a workout again!
One of the most common questions I get asked is “which protein powder is best for me”? This is an almost impossible question to answer without considering a few deciding factors.
• What are your goals? Do you want to gain size or lose fat?
• When will you be using the shake? Post workout? Before bed?
• What nutrients are you lacking from your diet? Do you need more carbs?
• Is price a factor?
Once these factors have been considered we can start looking at which protein will best suit your needs. Lets look at the deciding factors a bit more closely to help you narrow down your search.
What are your goals?
This is the first thing you need to consider. When looking for a protein you need to look at your diet. If you are mass building you will most likely be on a high carb/calorie diet so will need a shake containing high carbs and calories to best supplement this diet. If you are trying to lose fat then you will need to look at a low carb alternative. A low carb shake can be used for mass gaining if you are getting plenty of carbs from your food.
When will you be using the shake?
This is another important factor as there are different types of protein that are utilised at different rates in your body. Some proteins are very fast acting (whey isolate), and some are very slow acting (casein). If for example you only use your shake post training you should go with a fast acting protein like whey isolate, as you need protein as fast as possible in your system post-training. If on the other hand you need a shake for bedtime you should opt for a slow release like a casein product. There are products that mix the 2 called “blends”. These contain both fast and slow acting proteins and are more versatile.
What nutrients are you lacking from your diet?
Supplements at the end of the day are there to help you to fulfil your dietary requirements to achieve your goal. In order to grow you need a certain amount of proteins, carbs, fats etc. if you are not getting enough of any of these from your diet then you will not achieve your goals. This is where supplements come in. if you are lacking protein but getting enough carbs and fats then a low carb whey protein shake will supplement your diet perfectly. For muscle growth you need 1.5g of protein per pound of bodyweight. The question “how many shakes should I have per day?” can be answered by looking at how much protein you should be having, and then making up the difference with shakes from the amount you get from food. If you are trying to gain size but you are not getting enough protein, carbs or fats then a weight gainer shake containing all 3 would be the option for you. Supplementing these into your diet will give you the added nutrients you need to grow.
Is price a factor?
The last thing you need to worry about is cost. If this is a limiting factor then don’t worry. Low price does not always mean poor quality. Brands such as PhD, Reflex, and Nutrisport offer great value products without ever compromising on quality.
So use this guide to help you make the correct choice in protein supplement and find the one that will help YOU to achieve the goals you have set.
Here are my top picks for protein powders in each category:
Low carb proteins:
• PhD – pharma whey
• Reflex – instant whey
• Optimum Nutrition – Gold standard whey
• CNP – Pro mass
• PhD – pharma gain
• Applied nutrition – Critical mass
Fast acting proteins:
• Dymatize – iso 100
• Peak body – whey isolate
• Optimum nutrition – platinum hydrowhey
Slow acting proteins and blends:
• Reflex – micellar casein
• PhD – pharma blend
• USN – pure protein IGF
The Paleolithic or Paleo Diet is based on eating foods that our caveman ancestors ate. In the past 10,000 years our genome has not changed much. However, our diet has and with the addition of processed foods, grains, sugars and dairy products, we have created such diseases as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, auto immune disorders, osteoporosis and heart disease.
The Paleo diet is similar to the way hunter-gatherers ate and encourages the consumption of natural foods in order to achieve great health, vital energy, a lean physique and a long, active life. The Paleo diet includes meat, game meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, vegetables, green leafy vegetables, root vegetables, winter and squashes, fruits, seeds and nuts, mushrooms, fresh and dried herbs and spices.
There is no doubt that the food we eat has an affect on our health. There are many studies that conclude that certain foods are hazardous to our health. Since the beginning of the agricultural revolution, a large percentage of the foods common to the Standard American Diet are alien to our digestion, incomprehensible to our metabolism and wreak havoc on our overall health.
Is the Paleo diet for everyone? I believe it is an excellent place to begin and expand from on an individual basis. With the exclusion of all grains, it may not provide the energy requirements for athletes (us guys!). However, the majority of the population eat far too many servings of grain products per day and are not active, therefore would do well to reduce the quantity and choose only whole grains (preferably alternatives to wheat). All dairy is excluded in the Paleo diet. However, I believe certain products are very much acceptable such as organic yogurt or goat’s milk products. I agree that the exclusion of sugar and sugar products would do a world of good to everyone.
Certainly the Paleo diet offers advantages to everyone’s health as it excludes trans fats, hydrogenated fats, processed foods, refined carbohydrates, sugar, coffee, and soda. It offers foods that are in their most natural state; when the source/origin of the food being eaten is recognizable, it is always a good thing. In other works, when food is eaten in its whole, live, fresh, raw state, the body can utilize all the nutrients from the food. Obviously, meats should not be eaten in the raw state, but fruits and vegetables, seeds and nuts should all be consumed that way to enhance the vitamin and mineral components.When our bodies are provided with proper nutrition, they can function optimally, and this is what we all want.
The eating and lifestyle habits of our healthy ancestors provide us with a good framework; it is up to us to study their ways, evaluate the benefits or drawbacks and experiment on an individual basis in order to determine what is best for each person.
If any of you reading this possess a blender you have one of the most useful tools in bodybuilding within your possession! If you don’t own a blender I strongly recommend you go out and get one. Consuming large amounts of food is all part and parcel of building lean muscle tissue. The problem with this is that unless you have a superhuman appetite it starts to become a serious chore eating all of the time and can be down right unpleasant at times. For example if someone told you that for breakfast you had to eat a large bowl or porridge oats, 4 scrambled eggs, a banana, a large bowl of blueberries and have a protein shake you would probably feel full just thinking about it. However if someone said you had to drink a shake that doesn’t even fill 2 pints then that would be nice and easy. This is where the blender comes in. With the use of a blender you can turn a massive array of food into a surprisingly delicious shake. I am going to tell you how to make my personal favourite shake that has been a staple breakfast of mine for some time now which is a great addition to any mass building diet. If you struggle to get enough calories in during the day, if you are naturally skinny and burn off all of the calories that you eat, if you never have an appetite and prefer to drink shakes than shovel food into you all day, this is the answer.
100g porridge oats
3 egg whites
2 scoops whey protein (natural or choc mint is best)
1 tablespoon linseeds
2 tablespoon light olive oil
1 pint water
It only takes about 10 minutes to make, drink and clean up after this shake so it is by far easier than cooking. Making it is also far easier than you would imagine. The ‘secret’ trick to making it is this… put all of the ingredients into the blender and turn it on. See, simple. The only ingredient that requires work is the linseeds, these will need grinding up slightly or else the seeds protect the useful fats. The eggs will need warming slightly to allow the body to utilise the protein more effectively. Boil them for 30 seconds in a pan before adding them to the shake. I recommend putting the water in first or else your blender may struggle unless it’s a powerful one. Leave it to blend for at least 30 seconds to make sure the oats are fine blended and then pour. It should only fill roughly 2 pint glasses and not be too thick at all.
As you can see this is full of quality calories, made up of carbs, protein and essential fats. The carbohydrates come from the low GI oats as well as fast acting maltodextrin. High GI carbs are essential first thing in a morning to help kick start the body into an anabolic state after the fast overnight. The fats come from the flaxseed in the linseeds. This is an important essential fat. The rest of the fat comes from the olive oil and the oats. Monounsaturated fat from olive oil has been shown to have many benefits towards the health of the heart and circulatory system. Using light olive oil means there is no unpleasant flavour. The protein comes from the eggs which are a great source of moderate timed release protein, as well as from the whey protein. Whey protein is fast acting which is also vital in a morning as your body will be craving nutrients so you need protein in the system quickly. The combination of fruits chocolate or chocolate mint flavour protein has always tasted nicest for me. The blueberries give a huge range of anti-oxidants and have actually been shown to help increase muscle repair. If the shake is too thick more water can be added. The whole shake will cost no more than £2.00 – £3.00 depending on your choice of quality for ingredients.
So give it a go. Add a mega shake to your mass building day and reap the calorific benefits.
Below are 10 fantastic tips for any athlete who wants to take their performance to the next level! These are all based on solid studies and written by a very respected member of our FitForum, Omania!!! Enjoy guys!
1 – Muscles = Fuel Tanks.
Rapid response fuel is stored as carbohydrate (muscle glycogen). Eat carbohydrate-rich foods before exercise to slow down drain on your fuel tanks.
2 – Optimum Time to Top Up With Carbs.
Large meal 4-6 hours before activity
Lighter meal 2-3 hours before activity
Snack Up 1 hour before exercise
3 – Keep Your Fuel Topped Up.
For long duration activities (60 mins plus), drink fluids with a weak solution of simple carbohydrates.
4 – Make Use of Your Reserve Fuel Tank
Stored body fat = fuel for long haul events, although we gave a potentially unlimited supply of fuel from stored fat we can only burn fat as a fuel when combined with carbohydrates.
5 – The Importance of Fluids
Drink fluids at least every 15 mins. Do not wait until you are thirsty!
6 – Protein for Muscle Maintenence and Muscle Growth.
You need 1.25 to 1.5grams of per lb of bodyweight. (1.25grams for “ball sports” 1.5 + for the more demanding sports such as marathon running and bodybuilding)
7 – Protein vs Carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates = instant fuel for the muscles. Protein repairs damaged muscles, maintains muscle mass and increases growth.
8 – Best Time to Refuel Tanks (muscles)
Within 30 mins of ending exercise, take in easyily digested carbohydrates. These are converted to glucose and stored as glycogen, your quick fuel.
9 – Reducing Recovery Time.
Increase antioxident nutrients. Endure adequate supplies of protein.
10 – Supplementation
Multivitamin and mineral supplement assists the body’s chemical reactions , regulatory process, and forms structures important for atheletes who may be susceptible to decreased immune systems due to excessive physical exertion.
Following this advice could help achieve your goals!! More than that, it will almost certainly make you train harder, lose fat quicker, feel more energised and in turn be a better athlete!!!
What an amazing weekend, the summer is truly upon us as the sun beams down onto our skin! Surely it is the best weather to play sport in, especially extreme sports!!! Back in the day (that makes me sound so old!) I used to race motocross and today I haven’t experienced anything which gives me such an intense shot of adrenaline. Maybe one day I will trade in the 6 pack for a seat back on 2 wheels?!
Well, maybe I don’t have to! The point is people don’t always respect extreme sports like motocross as a strenuous sport! However I would insist a 20 lap race around rough terrain, with a mouth full of gritty mud and enough bumps and ruts to give you an abs workout of a lifetime is indeed a very testing sport for any athlete! The rider’s cardiovascular system is tested to the maximum, yet the core muscles are also pushed to the limits as your body is always readjusting itself to the bumps and corners of the track. Grip is another very important factor in motocross because your forearms take a lot of punishment holding on for dear life for the entire race. What is the point in saying all of this?
If I had known what I know today in regards to nutrition and exercise I would have done a lot better I am sure! The reason being my energy levels used to dip considerably and sometimes I just felt worn out. Personally I believe because you are on a motored racing machine psychologically you feel the bike will do the work for you, as with any extreme sports. However, as sport progresses at a more rapid speed than ever it is easy to see athletes from all backgrounds are tapping into good nutrition and training plans. F1 drivers follow very strict diets and do a lot of altitude training to maximise their cardiovascular capacity as do a lot of other extreme athletes. This proves that training off the track, eating off the track and taking the right supplements is key to just about any athlete and that includes extreme athletes.
This is something I would like to really educate people on, and how taking care of other aspects of your life can really improve your performance on the track. Surely if you are fuelled with the right foods you will be able to cope with the strains of racing easier!? In regards to training, by strengthening your core and muscles I think that you will help decrease the chances of injury when you crash! Many times I have heard of people who have suffered serious accidents and their only saving grace was stronger than average muscles to hold everything into place!
With all of this being said we are going to do a 3 part ‘Extreme Sport Super Feature’ for athletes who part take in sports such as motocross, surfing, rallying, go-karting, downhill biking and so on! Stay tuned extremists!