FitMag has become an outstanding one stop resource for information and advice as well as real life experience from many great trainers. Today we have two of the UK’s best, Justin Maguire and Nick Daniel who are head trainers at arguably Europe’s leading Personal Trainer outfit, Ultimate Performance (checkout www.upfitness.com) owned by the wiz that is Nick Mitchell. With branches in London Mayfair, The ‘’City’’ and now in Hong Kong they are growing rapidly. For all the praise Nick Mitchell receives on FitMag (and rightly so) we wanted to delve a little deeper into the team behind the UP brand.
Justin is going to run through our nutrition questions whilst Nick will cover training. This should be more than interesting. Grab a coffee, kick back and soak up the knowledge. There’s lots of it.
Justin, how important is good nutrition for body composition goals in general?
When looking to increase lean muscle tissue one needs to factor in elements of hormonal control and manipulation through the intake of different macronutrients.
Understanding that protein is essential to aid recovery and anabolism is simply not enough, as other factors of assimilation and environmental toxin load of protein will influence how we use protein for building muscle and burning fat.
Protein sources that are high in xenobiotics generally come from mass production farms that confine animals into small places. The problem with farming animals in such a way would be disease, to combat this problem antibiotics and other drugs are used to aid the animal’s growth and to keep them alive. When we ingest meat that has had a high exposure to xenobiotcs (drugs) we essentially are consuming a high amount of environmental toxins not only from the xenobiotics in the animals system but also the pro-flamatory mediators their immune systems would have omitted to combat the foreign bodies. Ending up with hyper-inflammation and liver stress would be the final result and as such the beloved healthy protein we eat will cause us more harm than good. Therefore it is imperative that when we choose our food source we need to choose good nutritive options that will not stress our bodies.
Carbohydrates are not all created equal and as such many of our beloved treats have been stripped of their original nutritive qualities to produce mass product at a cheaper price. The low carbohydrate trend tends to miss-inform people of the effect carbohydrates have on the body. Many believe that carbohydrates simply make you fat, the truth however is the source and reaction of the carbohydrate that will dictate a hormonal stress or use.
When we consume refined sources of carbohydrate the nutrient density found behind these sources will be very poor. This is partly due to either enhancing flavor or quantity of product through production. Carbohydrates naturally found from the earth supply much of the needed phytonutrients to our bodies. This in turn can deter cancer and aid fat loss. Natural sources of carbohydrates are anything you can take from the earth place in a baking tray and eat, not something that needs a human element to process.
Fats can help the body increase hormonal signaling and increase energy production however fats are also the macronutrient of toxin storage. When the liver cannot process toxic load it will increase circulation of these toxins toward fat cells for storage to not harm the body. Therefore when we consume fat we need to be aware of the source, if we consume fat especially saturates from animal protein that has had a high exposure to toxins we will once again be loading our bodies with pollutants that simply slow down metabolism and increase pro-flammatory response. So choose your fats wisely and remember to diversify the source into all three categories to balance out cholesterol and cellular permeability. The main three sources of fat are saturates (game protein, coconut oil), monounsaturated (almond butter, olive oil), polyunsaturates (fish oil, hemp oil and flax seed).
So you can see that good nutrition is vital for composition, but the true meaning of good nutrition does not mean simply abstaining from sugary treats, no the true meaning would be to make sensible choices as to what source of ‘healthy’ food you are ingesting as well as balancing out the diet.
Amazing! There are many conflicting opinions out there - what are your fundamental opinions on nutrition?
Throughout history humans have tried to perfect their aesthetics and composition to either perform better or simply to be more attractive and healthy. The rise of macro-specific diets however has lead people to believe that one school of thought is the be all and end all solution. However the body is constantly changing and as such our hormonal production and reaction will change considerably as well.
When our bodies are in a state of stress we could safely assume that our nutrient intake may not be efficient in dealing with that stress. Now determining the type of stress is what matters when formulating a macronutrient split.
When we consume carbohydrates we increase the production of insulin which is vital for nutrient delivery into the cell for further anabolism. However if our cells are not receptive to insulin this will lead to insulin resistance, increasing the production of insulin to cause the same effect. The increased production of insulin leads to excessive blood glucose which in turn increases inflammation of cellular displacement. So following a diet low in carbohydrates will reduce the insulin load and allow the immune system time to recuperate.
However once we have followed a low carbohydrate diet for a sustained period of time we should look to reintroduce carbohydrates to increase metabolic drive through mitochondrial (energy power house of the cell) activation. Following a low carbohydrate diet should always be coupled with following a moderately high fat intake, this is due to the added benefit fats have on blood glucose control and increasing cell permeability to the effect insulin may have on hormonal receptors.
So no exclusive macronutrient split should be followed on a permanent basis, rather one should be aware of the nutrient need for the current composition and hormonal regulation. Through periodisation of macronutrient intake will we gain complex metabolic support and physiological function.
Can you explain the importance of fats for health and body composition?
Fats firstly do not make you fat, this idea has been based on misleading case studies performed with a poor control groups in the past. The increase of excessive blood glucose coupled with available triglycerides will make you fat, this is a reason why low carbohydrate diets should have more fat and why when carbohydrate intake is high one should have less fat.
Fat however is so important for composition as it is primarily responsible for cholesterol turnover into the formation of androgens and other metabolically active hormones. Without the balance of hormones the body will simply lower metabolic output and retain more fat to compensate for the needed fuel to turnover androgens. Therefore fat is important for hormones.
Cell signaling of hormones is another factor one should take into account when dealing with fat. Fat especially double bonded fatty acids actually regulate the permeability of the cell’s membrane. This is so important as a cell membrane that is too rigid will not allow nutrients, signaling hormones or neurons to pass through effectively to respective organelles in the cell. Cell permeability is vital to keep in check and the balance of all fats is important in doing so, as too much of any type of fat will cause cell displacement leading to poor signaling. Therefore consuming all three sources is important in balancing cell permeability. The three sources of fat are saturates (game protein, coconut oil), monounsaturated (almond butter, olive oil), polyunsaturates (fish oil, hemp oil and flax seed) as outlined above!
What key areas do you see people make mistakes on with their diet?
The biggest cause of failure when one embarks on a dietary plan is that of poor planning and or failure to be consistent. When we formulate a macronutrient split to assist either fat loss or muscle gain we need to factor in the timing of when certain nutrients are needed, this is due to hormonal influence food has on our bodies.
Corporate lifestyle however dictates uncontrollable circumstance to meal planning and social interaction. Clients often are aware of impending functions yet do not take the necessary steps to ensure they will have the appropriate meals available to stick to the macronutrient plan. Calling a restaurant where you may be dining out before hand and evaluating what is available on the menu will save you the dirty calorie consumption you may have consumed without knowing what it is that you are consuming. Therefore planning social events around your nutrient requirements is paramount to dietary success.
Timing of macronutrient inclusion is also very important, if we restrict ourselves from a particular macronutrient for too long a period of time we will not only be slowing down metabolic function but also setting ourselves up to fail through uncontrollable binge eating. Therefore do not restrict your diet to fail rather incorporate a rest or pause every so often to give the psychological edge one needs to stay dietary strong as well as utilise the nutrient for the desired hormonal effect. A good example of controlled dietary pause would be to eat a ‘sugary treat’ every 10th day after a large metabolic workout. Set yourself up to succeed and know your limits, don’t over-reach if you know you will not be able to sustain a dietary plan, modulate it to your abilities then progress when you are ready.
The last point most people forget to include into any dietary plan is water, so many people I have come across take supplements religiously and eat the correct nutrient listing however under-hydrate the body. This only leads to poor performance and impaired gut motility. Drinking water is paramount to any dietary program.
Do carbs get a bad wrap or do people need to be more cautious with them?
Carbohydrates cause an insulin response to occur in the body. Insulin is the most powerful of anabolic hormones our body produces and as such can have a massive effect on physiological change. When dealing with such a powerful hormone we need to make use of its positives under controlled interaction, therefore we need to consider when anabolism is needed.
Training creates catabolism to our body and increases the need for anabolism, so when we have breakdown of tissue increasing insulin load will help fuel recovery which in turn increases muscle mass thus increasing metabolic drive.
So are carbohydrates bad? Truly not if you use them correctly and choose a quality source. They can however be detrimental if you consume them at the wrong time. The best measure to take when looking to burn fat is to consume carbohydrates 1 hour after training, those whom have good insulin sensitivity could get away with pre-during and post workout carbohydrates and possibly a re-feed day BUT this is dependent on genes, environmental exposure and training load (volume).
Is insulin sensitivity a topic which is important for fat loss?
Most definitely! Insulin is the hormone which can be directly controlled through dietary interaction. As insulin is the most anabolic of all hormones it also has the greatest catalytic effect on the hormonal cascade affecting all other hormones.
However if our insulin sensitivity in the cells receptor complex is not sensitive, the positive effect this hormone can have on other hormones is limited. Insulin resistance will lower anabolism of muscle tissue and cause a range of degeneration within the body not to mention fat retention as a stress response to this form of hormonal resistance.
Therefore modulating dietary influence through correct timing to increase insulin sensitivity is important for fat loss as it controls all other hormonal interaction toward fat loss as a whole.
How important is nutrient timing for body composition goals?
Nutrient timing is vital to increase performance and sustain a healthy body composition. Our bodies use nutrients of varying loads at different times of the day to create muscle and combat toxin exposure. Understanding that timing of certain nutrients is important will lead to dietary design that increases recovery, aids hormonal balance and increases energy.
Two major examples of physiological nutrient needs can be noted in the following
Breakfast: in the morning when our body initiates an increase of basal metabolism we start to process toxins in the liver, this costs the body 30g of protein to complete. The next phase of morning protein use will be utilised to create neurotransmitters to increase cognitive function and body awareness this costs a further 30g of protein. So would it be safe to assume that a greater value of protein is required in the morning, I think so!
Post workout: increased catecholamine release will mediate fat loss. Prolonged exposure to stress hormones however will start to destroy protein structures and overall lean mass composition. Insulin lowers catecholamine levels in the body as it has an apposing reach with energy releasing hormones thus it is energy storing. When we increase insulin post workout we will not only lower stress response but also aid storage of needed amino acids into the muscle cells that have been damaged. Carbohydrates have the greatest effect on increasing insulin load and as such should be included into our post workout schedule to increase recovery and reduce muscle wasting.
So the question of nutrient timing is imperative to not only aid fat loss but also to create a strong immune system and neuromuscular junction.
Can you share a typical days eating?
TYPICAL DAY OF EATING FOR MAINTENANCE OF 6% BODY FAT
350GR FILLET NZ GRASS FED STEAK
120 GR ARTICHOKE
3 UBER ZINC (POLIQUIN)
3 PROFLORA EXCELLENCE
3 ULTRA HCL
2000MG ACETYL L-CARNITINE
2 SCOOPS ESTROGENOMICS
1 SCOOP COLD PRESSED WHEY PROTEIN
1 TABLESPOON FLAX SEEDS
2 DIGEST FORCE
3 CALCIUM D GLUCARATE
300GR MIXED GARDEN SALAD
20ML OLIVE OIL
20GR COCONUT OIL
3 ULTRA HCL
2 SCOOPS ESTROGENOMICS
1 SCOOP COLD PRESSED WHER PROTEIN
15ML OMEGA 3 OIL
2 HOLY BASIL
2 CALCIUM D GLUCARATE
200GR CHICKEN FILLET/ WHITE FISH
2 ULTRA HCL
2 HOLY BASIL
50GR CASHEW NUTS
2 ULTRA HCL
3 PROFLORA EXCELLENCE
3 UBER MAG PLUS TRYPTOPHAN
2 HOLY BASIL
Thank you Justin, what an amazing insight this has been for the readers! Now on to Nick, let’s talk training.
For fat loss or mass what would be a typical weeks split?
I have two favorite rotations.
Monday - upper
Tuesday - lower
Wednesday - rest
Thursday - upper
Saturday- abs / cardio
Sunday – rest
Reps on Monday and Tuesday would be 5-7 with the goal of functional hypertrophy using compound movements
Reps on Thursday and Friday would be 8-15 with the goal of hypertrophy using compound and isolation movements utilising techniques like drop sets, supersets and giant sets.
Day 1 - back and hammys
Day 2 - chest and shoulders
Day 3 - quads
Day 4 - arms
Day 5 - rest
How would you recommend people stay flexible and improve mobility as part of a weight training plan?
That is an open question as it depends on the individual, stretching/ mobilising is just as individual as the training and diet programs, which I think people fail to realise.
Some people need a lot and some do not need any. As a general rule I will stretch/mobilise any area which is causing a postural dysfunction, pain or is inhibiting another muscle before the session and or during the workout in the rest periods. Whatever is needed for optimal performance.
I will also recommend stretching before going to bed as this is when you recover and it’s also a good way to wind down before you sleep.
My number one recommendation is to train in a full range of movement in the end range, mobilising/ activating and stretching the opposing muscles.
For example when doing a row movement you want to extend the thoracic spine and squeeze the shoulder blades together. If the thoracic spine is tight and lacks movement the rhomboids will not function optimally and you won’t have full range in the end movement. This will hinder your gains and muscular development in the mid back.
Also nearly everyone’s pectorial muscles are tight (especially the pec minor which has a direct impact on the function and position of the scapula). If the scapulae is not moving and positioned the way it should be it can also cause pain in the rotator cuff and biceps as these muscles try and stabilise the scapulae.
Foam rolling to mobilise the spine, and stretch the chest, releasing the pec minor will allow the rhomboids to function optimally by pulling the shoulder blades together so the lats can get full range and the shoulder has better integrity.
Having regular sports massages and ART is also very beneficial.
What are the key mistakes people make with their training?
There are two main mistakes I see happening.
1. Thinking too much about what you are doing. Trying to be too precise writing everything down to hit all of the numbers to beat the last week’s numbers.
Fat loss and physique building is completely different to strength.
In strength and power training the idea is to become stronger. This is when well-planned periodised training programs are very much needed and the idea is linear progression through your lifts. So recording sessions is paramount for results.
Physique building and fat loss is more about TUT (Time Under Tension) and fatigue. This is why the sets and reps are a lot more lenient.
People tend to stress if someone is already using the weights or machine they need and wait until they are finished to use the weight/machine they wrote down. They needn’t do this, simply change the exercise, or even go lighter and add reps or go slower.
There is more wiggle room in this type of training and as long as at the end of the session the muscle you are training is fatigued, you will achieve the appropriate outcome
2. Training with ego and not feel. To build your physique you have to feel the muscle. It’s not about how much weight you can lift but how you lift it. It’s the mind muscle connection. For example bicep curls; first learn to bend the arm.
Standing without a weight in the hand flex your elbow slow and controlled, up for 3 seconds and hold for 2 and down for 3 squeezing as hard as you can 10 times, by the 5th rep your biceps should start to hurt as the muscle will start to fill with blood. When you can feel this add weight, as soon as you cannot squeeze the muscle you have gone to heavy and drop the weight. If you cannot get a pump without weights you are not ready for hypertrophy training.
Drop your weights in every exercise and learn to squeeze the muscle you are trying to train. Practice at home with no weight trying to contract different muscles.
Do you need to get stronger to get bigger?
No. As explained above these are two different types of training. One is neurological and the other is physiological. Strength is training the nervous system to be able to cope with more stress therefore becoming stronger.
Hypertrophy is physiological, breaking the muscle down and stretching the fascia with sarcoplasmic fluid.
Although you won’t achieve optimal strength in hypertrophy you will become stronger as the muscle becomes bigger and the nervous system will adapt enabling you to handle more weight.
The same goes with strength training, you will get bigger as the muscle will break down but it is not optimal for hypertrophy.
You will always get a carryover but you need to know what your main focus is at that time and concentrate on that. This is why a well periodised training program which utilises both methods will achieve greater results.
Which 5 supplements are essential for beginners for mass and fat loss?
I want to answer this question as a whole because the only thing that really changes with these two goals is the diet. The calories change the macros change but the way the body works does not.
To be able to gain muscle or lose fat, you need your body to function optimally, which all starts in the gut. If the gut is not working properly the likely hood will be that you will be inflamed which will lead to your muscles becoming insulin resistant due to the high release of cortisol. Inflammation will cause your body to hold water and store fat.
You also won’t be able to properly utilise the nutrients you are eating. Taking lots of supplements and eating all that food is pointless if the body is not utilising it.
Poor absorption of nutrients can lead to parts of the body not functioning as they rely on these nutrients. For example if you have poor absorption of iodine your thyroid will slow down and become dysfunctional which will have a negative effect on both hypertrophy and fat loss.
The digestive tract is very important to our immune system, which you have to pay attention to during phases of hard training.
The gut also has an influence on you testosterone levels and estrogen clearance. Beta glucuronidase is a bacteria in the gut which unbinds estrogen from glucoronic acid. Glucoronic acid is bonded to estrogen in the liver for the body to excrete. If the estrogen is unbonded then it will be sent back round the body. If this happens then SHBG (Sex Hormone Binding Globulin) is released to keep the levels of estrogen under control but unfortunately it also binds to testosterone which lowers free testosterone levels.
Secondly look after the liver. A dysfunctional liver can cause serious health issues but for the article we need to focus on the fact it regulates and metabolises our sex hormones. So a dysfunctional liver will lower testosterone levels and elevate estrogens levels which is not good for either growth or fat loss. The liver is very important in the clearance of estrogens from the body so if you find it hard to clear fat from the hips and legs the liver is the first thing to look at.
The third is sleep. Good sleep will encourage growth, repair and fat loss. This is due to the fact you release growth hormone during the night. Growth hormone is important to us for growth and repair but is also the only real fat burner as it switches our body to use fat for energy.
Improved sleep will also lower cortisol levels which will help with fat loss, improved insulin sensitivity and inflammation.
Supplements are just that, supplementation. Before getting too complicated with supplements you have to improve these 3 things first and you will see better results.
So going from what I have explained I will always recommend the supplements listed below. To begin with I would not suggest any other supplements if your sleep, liver and digestion are not optimal. Taking care of these things you will see an increase in growth and fat loss and an improvement in the way that you feel.
Calcium d glucorate
Try ON ZMA to increase your magnesium intake.
A couple of other supplements which are worth noting would be arginine and R ALA.
Both are great for fat loss and growth as arginine increases growth hormone and blood flow so taken in the morning around training and evening will increase growth hormone therefore more fat loss and increased muscle.
When taken around training this will benefit sarcoplasmic hypertrophy through the increased blood flow (the pump).
Monstersupplements.com's top choice L-arginine based supplement is Phd V-Max Pump!
R-ALA is the best, in my opinion, for helping with shuttling nutrients to the muscles and helping to improve insulin sensitivity. This means you make better use of your carbohydrates which again benefits both hypertrophy and fat loss. It is a very strong antioxidant. When you train hard your body will release free radicals which are bad for health and antioxidants combat these.
Obviously there are lots of other supplements which are very beneficial which I would rotate or use with different people and myself but these are the first that I suggest focusing on.
MonsterSupplements.com’s R-ALA supplement of choice is Anabolic Designs Matador!
That concludes an epic interview with two of the UK’s best trainers. Justin and Nick will have opened your minds to new levels of knowledge. Thank you both, very much!