Monthly Archives: October 2011
In my opinion, music is one of the biggest motivating factors in my training. When I am listening to music in the gym I feel so much more psyched up, full of energy and focused on performing to the best of my ability than if the gym were silent. A song can make you want to move, it can fill you with emotion, it can help you focus on those thoughts that get you psyched up more than anything else. A song with a good beat can give you the rhythm to train to so that you forget about how hard you are working. You just follow the beat. You run with the music and forget the ache in your legs, the sweat running down your face or the massive weight you are about to lift.
My taste in music is very varied and I feel I listen to so much of a wide range of music that there is something for everyone.
So if you are looking for a new playlist to get you psyched up to train, here is what im listening to this week:
Steve Aoki and laidback Luke – Turbulence
The bloody beetroots – Public enemy
Sub focus – Timewarp
Enter shikari – Juggernauts (nero remix)
Hadouken – Rebirth –
A different theme to my normal articles, but today I want to voice out loud the 5 biggest changes I’ve made to my environment (both home and work) to help me get to where I want to be that little bit quicker.
I’m a firm believer that lots of change in a short period of time is a recipe for disaster.
It’s the first week of November, the gym at the moment is steady and enjoyable – rarely is it empty, but rarely is it rammed. By the time the second week of January comes it will be packed – it’ll be full of people of all shapes and sizes who have made that vow to ‘ lose those extra 14lbs’ this year. With their New Years resolution they’ll slash their calories, start going to the gym every evening, hit the road for a run every morning, and then try to include a class when ever they have a spare moment.
Sound familiar? How many of those faces in the gym that appear in January do you see in March? Not many. The moral of the story; too much change, too quickly, in the wrong environment, is a recipe for disaster.
For me, the key word there is environment. Any fool under the sun can come up with a list of things to do / not to do to get the most out of life, but it’s the successful people that take those skills and apply it to their unique situation.
Hopefully, although obvious, you’ll be able to take away just that one little gem of information from the following changes I’ve made to help you get where you want to be that little bit quicker.
1. I’m walking to work
I’ve now swapped my commute for a much slower walk – But how is that changing my environment? To make this more feasible I now leave my work shoes at the office. I know – a very small change.
I make the walk in my gym shoes. This means my bag is lighter and I can now get all my gym kit in my work bag, it also means I can go from work directly to the gym, or from the gym to work. This small change just makes everything easier.
It’s a thirty minute (2 mile) walk each day. That’s roughly 80 miles extra a month which will just add to the lbs coming off.
2. I’m keeping my breakfast at the office
This compliments my walk, and the theme to decrease the contents and weight of my now ‘work and gym’ bag. The general idea being – the less I have to carry, the less of an inconvenience ill see gyming straight after work.
I took a good look at my diet. By the time I’ve woken up, had a cup of green tea, and done the fasted 30 minute walk to work – my body is screaming for nutrients. I’ve opted to use a cereal / protein mix for brekkie. Because of the exercise, the sugar works to my advantage helping create the insulin spike and drive the nutrients into the muscles.
Best of all, cereal keeps! I can buy a box and keep it in my desk drawer without the worry of it going off. Likewise, I just invested in a large Tupperware container, filled it with protein powder from home, and leave that in my drawer too. Now I don’t need to worry about carrying in that one meal in the mornings.
3. Have conviction in what you’re trying to achieve.
Don’t just say you want to achieve something; have some conviction and some personal respect and hold yourself accountable for it.
I personally like to set myself a challenge (using the below principals) and then tell someone else – that way I’m not making false promises. When setting myself a challenge / deadline I tend to use the prompt S.M.A.R.T.
Specific – I want to achieve X number of pull ups / bench Y lbs
Measurable – Something tangible – not ‘I want to run faster’
Attainable – Can you get there from where you are? Do you need to break the journey down?
Realistic – Complimenting attainable – Is your goal realistic?
Timeline – Some time constraint so it isn’t an open ended challenge.
I.e. I want to lose 16lbs (S) (M) by the 25th December (T). I’m currently 230lbs at 19% BF so this is achievable (A) (R)
4. I’ve made time to monitor my progress
This is often overlooked – I’ll put my hand in the air and say that I’ve spent hours researching and writing the ‘perfect’ routine, and the ‘perfect’ diet, and then started a training regime with 100% commitment. What I’ve never done is monitor whether it was getting me where I wanted too.
I’ve now allocated 30 minutes a week to sit down and reflect on what did and didn’t work well. I monitor my progress on a weekly basis; not just hopping on the scales, but looking at what meals I missed and why? Looking at why I cut a training session short? Looking at what didn’t / did work it will let me change / tweak my game plan for the following week. The system I use to do this is the OODA loop.
Observe – look back on what did / didn’t work
Orientate – apply that to me – was it my fault? Was it external?
Decide – make a decision to prevent that happening, or to exploit a positive change
Act – implement the above decision, and then begin to ‘Observe’ again.
5. Remind yourself continually where you want to be!
Something I’ve never done before – and something that seems to be working well. On the front of my fridge door, and cupboard door I have a copy of my diet plan. On the wall in the bath room I have the weekly plot of my weight and a short list of the goals (and rewards) I’ve set myself the challenge of achieving.
It might not work for everyone, but having the diet plan on the fridge door with the calories and macros on has been enough to encourage me to remain loyal to my plan. After all if my portion of rice has xxx number of calories in, then just using 2 heaped scoops instead of 2 level scoops will significantly add to my daily intake. This will then take me even further away from my goal as I’ll have to undo that cheat, before carrying on with the original plan
Anyway, there the 5 small changes I’ve made recently to create an environment more suited to succeeding in my latest challenge. I hope there is something in there that inspires you, or something that you can take away and apply to your challenge.
Chow for now!
Sci-MX GRS-5 Protein System is arguably the best blended protein powder on the market. It holds an incredible nutrient profile, which blow its competitors out of the water!!
It delivers a mixture of 5 proteins (Whey Protein Isolate and Concentrate, Calcium Caseinate, Egg Albumen and Soy Protein Isolate), which all have their own benefits and advantages. The mixture contains both fast absorbing proteins (like whey) and slower digesting proteins (such as egg, calcium caseinate and soy). This has the advantages of being able to supply the muscles with a steady stream of essential muscle building nutrients, helping prolong protein synthesis, keeping the muscles in an anabolic muscle building state for longer. This in turn helps dramatically increases recovery and growth!
Not only does GRS-5 include an impressive array of proteins, but it has the added extras of Aminogen, Vit-MX Sport and Opti-Zyme.
Aminogen is a compound clinically proven to increase nitrogen retention and BCAA release, optimising how your body uses the proteins. This helped me recover a lot quicker after each hard session and kept DOMS to a minimal!
Opti-Zyme is Sci-MX’s unique digestive enzyme formula which aids digestion therefore increasing protein absorption, utilising all the essential nutrients as much as possible.
Vit-MX is another of Sci-MX’s formulas, which is a unique blend of vitamins (such as; Vitamin B, C Pantothenic Acid and Folic Acid) and minerals (Iron, Zinc, Magnesium and Copper) which are vital to promote a healthy body (They can help keep a healthy immune system, improve muscle oxygenation, promote hormonal health as well as muscle and nerve function).
It also provides;
- A large amount of BCAA and EAA’s (helps build lean muscle and prevents catabolism)
- A massive amount of L-Glutamine (aiding recovery)
- MCT oil (healthy fats which can help decrease body fat storage)
I found GRS-5 perfect to use first thing in the morning, as a snack during work and before a workout to ensure the muscles are always stocked up with the essential nutrients they crave! With a very low amount of carbohydrates, I also found this perfect for use on a calorie restricted diet, when you want to avoid excess amounts of sugars!
So GRS-5 ticks all the right boxes on the nutrient side of things, but there are obviously other things you look for in a shake such as taste, mix-ability and effectiveness. I can tell you, it gets top marks on all of these too!
Taste – I’ve tried 3 of the 5 flavours available (Chocolate, Chocolate Mint and Strawberry), and was impressed with all of them. The one that stood out for me was Chocolate Mint; it’s arguably one of the nicest tasting shakes on the market!
Mix-Ability – Mixed very easy with both milk and water. It has a nice and smooth texture which goes down easy!
Digestion - GRS-5 doesn’t lay heavy on your stomach like some shakes, even when taken before a rigorous workout.
Effectiveness - This helped me massively with recovery and to prevent catabolism whilst on a calorie restricted diet. I didn’t suffer with any major DOMS like normal (dramatically reduced them) and it helped me keep hold of the muscle whilst allowing me to get lean.
Price - Nothing to complain about with regards to price. It is competitive and you pay for what you get – QUALITY!
All in all, this is a brilliant product and probably the best blend on the market. I’d recommend this to anyone looking for a top quality product with an impressive nutrient profile which along with good diet and training, will promote some serious gains!
There are many different types of diets out there for you to try. Whether it be fat loss, muscle gain, improved performance or general health. There are far too many different diets to know which one to choose and which one will work best for you as an individual. Every person react to the different nutrients in different ways. Some people put on fat easily, others don’t. some people are carb sensitive, others aren’t. Take me for example, I can eat well in excess of 500g of carbs per day and not put on any fat. Another person may have over 100g of carbs and start to gain weight. All of these things must be taken into account when you are choosing a diet. I am going to take a look at the different types of diets on the market and lay them out in simple terms so that you can decide which may be best for you and how to go about planning your own diet of that nature.
The first diet I’m going to look at is a ketogenic diet (often referred to as keto diets). A keto diet is a very low carb, high fat, high protein diet. Usually it is advised to keep carbs below 30g per day. Keto diets work because when your body is very low on carbohydrates your body will convert stored fat and dietary fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies. Ketone bodies are sent to your brain as fuel as opposed to glucose. Once your body is doing this you are said to be in a state of ketosis. Achieving ketosis is difficult and in some cases near impossible for some people. Some people however do it very easily and can achieve a state of ketosis after only a couple of days of low carb dieting. Usually on these diets you will feel you have achieved ketosis because you will feel you have more energy (as your body has made the transition and is running off a different energy source), some people also report a metallic taste in their mouths.
When performing a keto diet there are some basic rules to follow:
Obviously you must be in a calorie deficit. This is the basis of any diet.
Carbohydrates must be kept very low (preferably under 30g per day.
Drinks like diet coke and other diet drinks can be drank but best avoided if possible.
Black coffee is fine to drink.
Cheat days or carb up days are necessary and the volume of food consumed will depend on the person.
An optimal ratio of nutrients is 65/30/5 in relation to fats/protein/carbs.
Supplement with omega 3,6 and 9.
Eat broccoli and other low carb veg to aid digestion and to get vitamins.
For a protein shake use a low carb whey isolate.
So you have the basic rules of the diet and you understand what a keto diet is. Now lets have a look at the foods you can eat on the diet.
Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast
Tuna (water packed)
Fish (salmon, seabass, halibut)
Extra Lean Ground Beef or Ground Round (92-96%)
Egg Whites or Whole Eggs
Ribeye Steaks or Roast
Top Round Steaks or Roast (aka Stew Meat, London Broil, Stir Fry)
Top Sirloin (aka Sirloin Top Butt)
Beef Tenderloin (aka Filet, Filet Mignon)
Top Loin (NY Strip Steak)
Flank Steak (Sir Fry, Fajita)
Eye of Round (Cube Meat, Stew Meat, Bottom Round , 96% LeandGround Round)
Ground turkey, Turkey Breast Slices or cutlets (fresh meat, not deli cuts)
Low-fat cottage cheese
Nonfat Greek Yogurt
Natural Peanut Butter
Olive Oil or Safflower Oil
Nuts (peanuts, almonds)
So lets look at an example diet. For a 200lb man, if we are going to aim for around 2000 calories, with the optimal ratio you will need 1300 calories from fat, 650 calories from protein and 100 calories from carbs. This works out at around 140g fats, 165g protein, 25g carbs.
An example diet would look like this:
Meal 1: 5 whole eggs (Omega-3), 4 egg-whites.
Meal 2: Shake: 50g Whey Protein with 1 ½ tablespoon of All Natural Peanut Butter or almond butter (no sugar).
Meal 3: Lean protein meal: 8oz Chicken with a handful of almonds
Meal 4: Shake: same as meal 2.
Meal 5: Fatty protein meal: 8oz Salmon, Swordfish, or Red Meat with a green salad with 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil or coconut oil
Meal 6: Same as meal 2 and 4, or 4 whole (Omega-3) eggs and 4 extra egg-whites.
Supplements to include with this diet would be:
Reflex Micro whey
Optimum nutrition platinum hydro whey
By Mark Gilbert B.Sc
As this is my first column for FitMag, I thought I would start by considering which questions about nutrition and supplements I get asked the most. There are three or four that come immediately to mind but the answer to one of those questions doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves, so I thought I would look at it first. The question is, “what’s the best ingredient to burn fat”?
My answer to this question is that besides a high-protein, moderate carb diet, the best natural, legal fat burning ingredient is green tea…I know, doesn’t sound very interesting or “cutting edge” but most people have no idea how powerful this innocent-sounding leaf is! It not only causes fat loss but also acts as a strong antioxidant, may help prevent a variety of diseases and even improves insulin function and increases exercise performance!
As good as ECA?
Despite the fact that this beverage has been around for about 5000 years and that it is one of the world’s most popular drinks, here we are in the second millennium still discovering more and more of its beneficial effects. The most important one for most people being that it burns fat better than anything since the combination of ephedrine and caffeine. That’s a strong statement because ephedrine and caffeine is arguably the most powerful fat-burning combination ever discovered.
Not coincidentally, the same researcher – Dr Abdul Dulloo – who compiled much of the research on ephedrine and caffeine, also was at the forefront of this ground breaking green tea research.
Let’s consider a little background on green tea…
Eastern cultures have been enjoying this beverage for centuries but it never caught on in Western Europe and the Americas. Traditionally Eastern cultures have used it as a diuretic, to decrease thirst and to increase energy. It’s been known for years that green tea has the ability to have cell-protective antioxidant effects. Scientists have discovered that green tea has high levels of active molecules called polyphenols. The specific polyphenols that seem to be responsible for green tea’s unique effects are the flavonols called catechins. The most important of which seems to be epigallocatechin-gallate…better known as “EGCG”.
A potent antioxidant
So the best-known function of green tea is probably still its role as an antioxidant. Antioxidants from tea can prevent damage to cells, maintain healthy cholesterol levels and maintain the health of the blood vessels and the heart. In one study, green tea was shown to have much higher antioxidant potency than vitamin E. Quite a bit of research suggests that taking green tea may also decrease the risk of certain cancers. So besides being one of the best fat burners, it is also probably the healthiest fat burner.
Definitely burns fat!
But what FitMag readers are most interested in is how green tea can make them look better and perform better in the gym and on the pitch, so let’s get to it. One study investigated the effects of giving human subjects a standardized green tea extract. After taking the green tea, these subjects were put in a special respiratory chamber and scientists were able to measure the amount of fat and calories they were burning, their levels of the hormone norepinephrine and their nitrogen excretion. Just so everyone is clear, “norepinephrine” is a hormone that basically works as the body’s main fat-burning switch and “nitrogen excretion” indicates whether the body is breaking down muscle. By the end of the study period, the researchers found that the green tea group burned 35 percent more fat! They also burned quite a few more calories – so there was a strong “thermogenic” effect. Additionally, levels of norepinephrine were 40 percent higher in subjects that got the green Tea. Green tea is thought to work by preventing the breakdown of norepinephrine in the body by an enzyme known as COMT (catechol-O-methyltransferase). This results in higher levels of the hormone available to do its fat-burning work.
Doesn’t burn muscle!
Just as importantly as the fat and calorie-burning results is that the data indicated that protein breakdown did not increase despite the increased calorie and fat burning – so green tea also seems to have the remarkable ability to protect lean muscle while burning extra fat and calories.
Another study that investigated the weight loss effects of a standardized green tea extract found that over a 12 week period, subjects continued to lose body weight. By the end of the study, the average weight loss was almost five percent. That’s the equivalent of a 14 stone man losing two thirds of a stone!
There are a number of other studies showing that green tea helps increase calorie-burning and stimulates fat loss but a recent review of all of the green tea studies by a very experienced team of scientists concluded that the active polyphenols in green tea, along with caffeine, significantly increase fat burning and energy expenditure (calorie burning).
…but that’s not all Green Tea does…
Now here are the two other important effects of green tea that most bodybuilders and athletes are probably not aware of. Green tea has the ability to improve the function of the hormone insulin and to increase exercise performance by making muscles burn fuel more efficiently.
Boosts insulin function & performance!
In a study conducted at the University of Birmingham, UK by experienced sports scientists, green tea not only dramatically increased the rate of fat burning during exercise but it also increased the effects of insulin almost as dramatically. Other research has also recently shown that green tea allows muscles to exercise at a higher intensity for longer. The benefits of green tea’s effects on performance are obvious but the benefits on insulin function would likely not only result more fat burning and less fat storage but also an increase in the amount of creatine, carbs and amino acids being stored in muscle tissue…can you say “increased performance, recovery and muscle mass”?!
So green tea has numerous health benefits, several studies show that in increases fat and calorie burning and more recently that it improves insulin function and exercise performance! So I hope you can see why I chose to write about the benefits of this innocent-sounding but massively useful and versatile bodybuilding super food. So if you want to take advantage of green tea’s fat-burning, insulin-boosting and performance-enhancing effects, look for a quality product with a big whack of green tea and at least 200mg of caffeine!
Reflex Green Tea
By now you guys know the score, every month we select one of our writers as ‘writer of the month’ and reward them with a FREE tub of protein. Each and every month new writers join the ranks, making it harder and harder to choose for us all of the time.
What we really look for in our ‘writer of the month’ is someone who displays a great understanding in their chosen topic whether it be nutrition, training or supplementation. We also look for people who can inspire with their stories and the way they tell them.
The bottom line is we aim to educate and motivate as many people as possible to achieve their ultimate physique, improve their health and overall self-confidence. So which writer did that with their writing skills in October?
After much thought our ‘writer of the month’ for October is Chris Paul! Chris has submitted some trully awesome content which will undoubtedly help and inspire others.
Congratulations Chris, enjoy the FREE tub of protein!
One thing I’ve learnt over years of training myself and training clients, is that you can only rely on yourself. Particularly when it comes to food. I pretty much, 90% of the time prepare my own food and take it with me. I do like to eat out but there are a few things I look out for to keep me on track. Cafes, restaurants, bars, sandwich shops really don’t care if you are losing weight or changing your diet, reducing your salt intake or following a plan. That doesn’t make them money. They want to lure you in and sell you their product. In a previous article I mentioned little tricks played by supermarkets and so called ‘healthy food’ manufacturers, well they’re all at it! Like a wicked witch luring you into the gingerbread house….! We can easily be seduced by words and imagery, particularly when it comes to food. Nostalgic memories can have life breathed into them by a certain smell and the description of a Sunday lunch can transport you back to your grandmothers dining table. But watch out, they’re out to get you. Don’t be dumb!!! Wise up a bit and like I always say to clients, no more excuses. Take responsibility for yourself. These are a few favourites I’ve seen today…..
1) ‘come inside for a wholesome, hearty breakfast’
So I went in. It was not exactly what it says on the tin other than being a breakfast. The ‘wholesome hearty’ part can make you feel that you’re doing your body a favour. Fuelling it for the day ahead. In reality it was closer to a greasy spoon special….
2) ‘freshly baked’
Seen by me on a packet for a greasy looking sausage roll, being eaten by a woman on the tube at 6.15am. Nice image tho, huh? ‘freshly baked’ conjures up a vision of a country kitchen producing a fresh loaf of bread by a well fed farmers wife. It’s still a sausage roll. A roll of oil, trans fats and fatty meat offcuts. Freshly baked (perhaps back at the factory it was) or not, it’s a greasy sausage roll mass produced to be blasted by the microwave just before it’s handed to you. Don’t be dumb and just call a spade a spade.
3) ‘fat free!!!’
Ahhh, Muller and Haribo’s favourite trick. Fat free but loaded with sugar. Which will make your body convert it to fat anyway when not used. Wolf in sheep’s clothing.
4) Contains real fruit!
As opposed to fake fruit…? Just EAT THE ACTUAL FRUIT.
5) ‘delicious, nutritious shake! Contains vitamins and minerals’
Yeah so does food. Replace your meals to lose weight….?
WHAT!!! since when has replacing real food with a drink EVER been a good idea? A protein drink can supplement your diet and give you great benefits. The key word is ‘supplement’. Eat real, clean food, supplement wisely with advice and don’t kid yourself.
Once you can see through some of these tricks and stop falling for them, your goals will become closer and the frustration of not getting there will be cut down. So simple when you take some time to think about what you feed yourself and from where. Go get that goal!
The principle of pre-exhausting a muscle during training to me makes a lot of sense. It basically relies on the theory that in order to make a muscle grow or improve you need to take that muscle past the ‘point of failure’. The point of failure is where the muscle cannot perform any more repetitions and has ceased to be able to lift the weight in the manner that you want. This is achieved by doing multiple repetitions with a heavy enough weight or by doing multiple sets until the muscle is fatigued enough. If the muscle doesn’t reach the point of failure it is likely that it has not been worked hard enough. If the muscle has more to give in regards to performing reps then there is still room to exercise so this should be capitalized on.
Pre-exhausting basically means to exhaust the target muscle you want to work by doing isolation exercises before you move onto compound exercises. To explain further I will give you an example. Lets say we want to work the chest. Most people will start on bench press or a compound movement and then go onto flyes or pec deck or some isolation type exercise to work the pecs further. On bench press however your pecs wont reach the point of failure because your triceps and shoulders may fatigue long before your pectoral muscles will. This means that your pecs are not getting a proper workout from doing bench press. IF however you do an isolation exercise like flyes first, your pectoral muscles will be fatigued and tired before you perform the bench press. Then when you do bench press it is far more likely your pecs will reach the point of failure before your triceps and shoulders which are not fatigued at all.
People may argue the point that if a muscle is pre-exhausted then you cannot lift as much on the compound exercise and therefore wont grow as much. However in my opinion gaining muscle is not about how much weight you lift but about how hard the muscles work. The pecs will work much harder on the bench press if you have already done flyes compared with if you do it first even with a heavier weight. The triceps will have less of a workout but this is what we want really.
There have been many advocators of pre-exhausting over the years. One of the most famous was mike mentzer. He trained differently to just about everyone else past or present. He pretty much tore up the rule book and made a new set of rules that worked for him. He still managed to create a fantastic physique with it though.
I recommend trying some pre-exhausting training on each bodypart for at least a period of 4 weeks. I personally feel you will see a difference and will feel the benefit of the training. The only thing I will say is that you must leave your ego at the door. You cant be worried about lifting big weights as your strength on compound lifts will not be as great. Don’t let this dishearten you as I said before, it isn’t about how much weight you lift but how hard the muscles work.
Each and every one of us who hit the gym to gain muscle will have weak and strong body parts, fact. Some may have a full chest with a girly back as where others will have the opposite. Therefore, whilst you want to continue building on your strengths you also want to focus on your weaknesses. Using the priority training principle you should be able to bring up stubborn areas on your physique in a matter of months. Discover what exactly the priority training principle is and why you should use it!
To sum it up, the priority training principle simply means to target your weak muscle groups first in any workout! For example, if your deltoids are a poorly developed muscle group but your biceps bulge at the site of a dumbbell, make sure you kick your next shoulders & biceps workout off with shoulders first! This isn’t about ego; this is about improving your physique! This is one of the simplest training protocols you can utilise in order to accelerate your progression.
If this isn’t enough, here are 3 solid reasons you need to use the priority training principle!
Sticking with the same example, if your biceps are a strong point in your physique it makes sense to kick your workout off with a weak body part. If you start with biceps 30 minutes later you are going to be more fatigued, therefore you are going to have less to throw at your weak body part. It might be tempting to start with your strong body part to show everyone what you’re made of, but all they can see are your weak parts! Jack in the games and get to work! Every workout, start out attacking the weakest point on your physique out of the muscle groups you happen to be training that day! If it is chest day, forget trying to bench a house, and instead kick off with slow and controlled incline pressing! This way you are able to push the weak areas beyond their limits because you are fresh.
To really drive a stubborn muscle group into a state of growth you need to concentrate on getting a serious pump in the gym. It isn’t because you look bigger; it is because the extra blood volume will help stretch the fascia in this area enabling faster growth. The extra nutrients forced into the area by the higher blood volume will also stimulate faster recovery and growth. Therefore, whatever your weak body part be sure to hit it hard at the beginning of the workout to force blood into the area.
This is similar to intensity, yet vitally different. Logic states that at the beginning of your gym session you will be stronger due to higher muscle glycogen levels and ATP levels. Therefore by starting with a weak body part you can really attack it with heavy weight. Whilst lifting heavy all of the time isn’t necessarily the way forward, it does pay to go all out every few weeks to shock your muscles. Shocking your weak muscle groups should pay dividends!
All you have to do is look in the mirror, maybe get a friend who knows what their looking at and pick out your weaknesses. This isn’t a time for arse kissing, just the truth. Once you have distinguished which body parts need the most work rearrange your training split and unleash hell on these areas!
To be the best you have to learn from the best! When it comes to learning about training, nutrition and supplementation there is rarely anyone better to learn from than an IFBB Pro bodybuilder. This isn’t to say you have to be a ‘bodybuilder.’ There are many aspects which are very similar for any athlete. Today FitMag readers you are going to be learning from one of the very best 202 IFBB Pros of all time, John Hodgson!
John thank you so much for joining us today, it is always a pleasure to learn from somebody so experienced and respected as yourself!
It is my pleasure Adam.
To start with can you explain to us what inspired you to begin competing John?
It is a similar story to so many other bodybuilders. Frank Bruno, Sylvester Stallone and of course Arnold all inspired me! I used to love watching films like Rocky, Rambo and Commando. From there I would read muscle magazines where guys like Lee Labrada, Lee Haney, Gary Strydom and the likes of really influenced me. As I looked at them I was just fixated by their physiques, they looked like cartoon characters. Little did I know at the time I would eventually achieve a physique similar to these guys – a shorter version though!!!
Shorter maybe, but not smaller that’s for sure! Since you began competing what is the most valuable lesson you have learned which you could pass on to our readers?
Being consistent is the number one rule! Train really hard with real intensity making every workout count. Eating the right foods at the right time on a consistent basis is just as important, if not more important! Of course you also need to be on top of your supplementation. To sum it up, being consistent and dedicated to all three aspects is the best lesson I learned along the way!
After the British GP you decided to retire, what made you make this decision?
That’s a good question. As silly as it may sound when I competed in the British GP the placing I achieved and the money wasn’t really a motivating factor for me. Basically I wanted to show my support to the show because a very good friend of mine, Neil Hill, was behind organising it all. Neil and his colleagues had put a huge amount of time and money into the show. After finishing second to Flex, and after 18 years of competing I just felt I had really achieved what I wanted to at the age of 42. If you had told me a few years ago when if I qualified for the Mr O I wouldn’t compete, I would have said you’re crazy. However, it just felt right for me to retire at this point in my career and focus on having more time with my daughter. Sometimes people don’t realise the dark places you have to go when you are preparing for a show.
OK – moving on to your training. How did your training change throughout your career?
My training has always remained the same. I like to use HIT training because it is a logical approach to training. I have always pushed my muscles hard, even 1 week before the British GP I was doing 3 plates on bent over rows and 3 ½ plats a side on deadlifts for 15-20 reps. My form always remained good though!
What are the top 3 training mistakes you see in the gym you run, Evolution?
- Poor form
- Trying to lift too heavy
- Lack of intensity
How long should people rest between sets?
You can’t really put a figure on it, I believe it is down to the individual and depends what they are training. If they are training legs, an all out super heavy set on the leg press will almost certainly take it out of you more than the shoulder press would! Resting between sets is really important from a mental point of view; you have got to be prepared before you go into the next set. As a rough guide, around 2 minutes is about right most of the time!
Great advice! What would your single piece of advice be to beginners in regards to training more muscle mass?
Learn good form! Without good form you cannot target the specific muscle groups very effectively. Go as heavy as you can with good form, and make your training progressive all of the time. If you don’t make the training more challenging the muscle has no reason to adapt!
John what nutrition principles have you used throughout your career?
Since I began training I have always stuck to a basic balanced diet. My protein intake would be 1.5g of protein per pound of lean body weight, or just sometimes of complete body weight depending how lean I am. In terms of protein sources, you need to be eating poultry, lean red meats, oily fish, eggs and of course protein powders.
My complex carbohydrate intake would be 2-3g per pound of body weight, and then I would eat as many fibrous vegetables as I liked. It is important you get your fibre, minerals and antioxidants from your vegetables. Personally I was a broccoli man myself. Carbohydrates sources include rice, pasta, potato, sweet potato, wholegrain bread and oats. People go on about the difference in glycemic index between regular potato and sweet potato for example, but sticking to the basic principles and being consistent with them never failed the old school.
Fats were never measured out, I just made sure I had between 2-4 egg yolks a day, some lean red meat and oily fish and perhaps some nuts or peanut butter. This would have you pretty close to where you need to be.
Nice to see someone with your profile promoting a good, solid and hearty balanced diet mate. Do you believe in calorie counting?
I always weighed out my food in order to know how many grams of each nutrient I was having. Calories never bothered me though because I felt knowing how many nutrients I was eating is much more important. In regards to people concentrating purely on calories opposed to nutrients I think this is a mistake because you can have a ‘low calorie’ diet with all the wrong calories.
What are the top 3 biggest mistakes you see people make with their diet?
- Lack of education on the basics of food
- Lack of understanding which foods contain what nutrients
- Consistency with their diet
A lot of people really struggle with their diets because they find it bland. Do you have any tips on how to make your food taste better, yet avoid scuppering progress?
Eating healthily doesn’t have to be boring! I am known for eating relatively bland food because that’s how I personally eat some of the time. However, you should season your meat, have a bit of ketchup, add curry spices and utilise natural ingredients to make sauces. For example, if you want chilli con carne get some tinned tomatoes, kidney beans, chopped onions, chilli powder and make it yourself. This way you can eliminate any hidden sugar or fats you don’t want in there.
Nice! Do you believe in cheat meals?
Yes I do. If you are eating for example 50 odd meals a week and 48-49 of them are clean I don’t think 1 or 2 treats really hurts. It depends what you have as the cheat meal, for example I wouldn’t eat a 2,000 calorie binge on junk. If you fancy something like a Chinese then have it, if you want a chocolate bar then have it. Just make sure it is a treat, you are not doing it every day. This way I think it helps keep you sane and can in fact help keep you on track. It makes it a lifestyle rather than a short term ‘diet.’
In regards to supplementation, how important do you feel it is?
I’m a huge believer in supplementation, massive! Nowadays the supplement industry is so advanced and they really do work. Any athlete needs to be taking supplements in my opinion. Protein powders also help you break up the day a bit, having a nice tasting shake opposed to another solid meal when maybe you don’t fancy one.
OK – what would your top 5 ‘must have’ supplements for beginners?
- Multi blend protein – having a high quality multi-blend covers all the bases really. You get a combination of fast and slow proteins which will help keep a constant feed of muscle building nutrients going into the muscle. Personally I have used Reflex, CNP, PhD and Gaspari and they are all great products.
- Post-workout recovery – Recovering properly is essential, because without proper recovery you cannot gain muscle. Therefore I would highly recommend CNP Pro-Recover.
- Multi-vitamin – It is really important to stay healthy and keep your body going. Using a Multi-vitamin will help you do this. I personally like Animal Pak!
- BCAAs powder – to promote recovery you really need BCAAs. Once I started using BCAAs I really noticed the difference in my recovery and growth. For the British GP I was using my own brand of BCAA which I will be releasing soon enough. I believe you need a powder form because you get a better dosage opposed to capsules.
- Mass gainer – every beginner will want to gain muscle mass, so it makes sense to start with a mass gainer to use as a meal replacement. This way it isn’t so hard to get in your 6 or so meals a day, with 1 or 2 of them being from powders.
That is great advice John, thank you so much for joining us and sharing your experience and wisdom!
That, FitMag readers concludes the interview. Every time you get the opportunity to learn from somebody as experience and as knowledgeable as John you should cherish it! Remember, to build a competitive IFBB Pro physique you really need to know your stuff! Take heed guys, take heed!
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