Home Authors Posts by Adam Gethin
Beginners to the weight training world quickly become acquainted with the basics – bench press, military press, deadlifts and squats. At least they should. These are all fantastic foundation exercises to build your physique and strength from. However there comes a point where we need to get a bit more advanced and technical in order to keep things moving. Below we are paying special attention to more advanced exercises to help you increase strength on your bench press, military press and squat.
Get strong on these exercises and you will grow!
1 – Pin Press
You are familiar with the regular bench press, great. The pin press is performed within a power rack rather than a conventional bench. We want to set the safety pins approximately 4-5 inches away from your chest in order to shorten the range of motion on each rep performed. In doing so we can immediately increase the amount of weight you can load on the bar which is the point of this exercise. Increasing power and strength in a specific phase of the rep. As you lower the bar to the safety pins allow the pins to take all of the weight before pressing in order to increase the amount of muscle fibres required to get the bar moving again.
2 – Push Press
You are familiar with the military press, great. The push press is a variation of an overhead press with a more advanced technique. Whilst standing upright and in position ready to press the bar above your head you allow a slight bend in your knees to occur and ‘’push’’ up with your body as you press, creating additional momentum. In doing so we can increase the poundages you can handle on your overhead press. Be wary though, there is a fine line between push pressing and cheating!
3 – Partial Squats & Box Pause Squats
You are familiar with squats, great! Far too many people do not go to parallel when they squat which limits their progress immensely. However, on partial squats we are going to avoid going parallel to the floor and go approximately 2/3s of the way down. In doing so we can load the bar up with more weight and improve strength & power in the final part of your squat.
Box pause squats are next on the agenda. Using a bench as a marker, squat down until your backside touches it and then pause for 2 seconds before exploding up to the top as fast as you can. This will help develop speed and power at the lower half of your squat. Work with 50-55% of your 1RM here and make sure you are explosive on the way up!
Get stronger, get bigger, get leaner!
Omega 3s have become a buzz word in the health and fitness industry. Even mainstream food brands add them to their ‘’health’’ foods and then decorate their packaging with the label to signify the fact that this product is indeed a health conscious food. There are many foods, products and ingredients which receive praise but Omega 3s have to be top of that list. Today we are going to get a little geeky and learn more about Omega 3s, their benefits and why everybody should be using them!
Omega 3s are poly-unsaturated fats (there are 3 main categories of fat) and there are two main versions – DHA and EPA. Most people’s diets are far too rich in Omega 6s which leads to excessive inflammation within the body among other issues. By improving the balance by eating a diet rich in Omega 3s and supplementing with Omega 3s you can alter these things and in doing so improve health and fat loss potential.
Omega 3s are fantastic for –
Improving insulin sensitivity which makes fat loss easier
Improving the HDL to LDL cholesterol ratios (HDL being good and LDL being bad)
Improving cognitive function
In relation to fat loss the key point here is improved insulin sensitivity. When we follow diets rich in saturated fats (which isn’t a bad thing, they have many important roles such as hormone production!) our cells can become more insulin resistant. This occurs when the structure of the cell wall becomes more rigid. As a result nutrients aren’t as able to travel through the cell wall to the mitochondria where they need to go in order to be processed. To counter act this using Omega 3s helps keep the cell wall structure more fluid in turn allowing for better nutrient uptake in the cell and better insulin health! This all equals better fat loss.
One of the best ways to increase Omega 3 intake is to eat more oily fish such as fresh salmon and organic eggs. There are rich in DHA and EPA, direct sources of both Omega 3s. Foods like walnuts are also rich in Omega 3s however they mainly come from ALA, a precursor to DHA and EPA. Numerous studies show that the conversion rate from ALA to both DHA and EPA are fairly low although it is slightly higher in women. As a result we believe it is best to get your Omega 3s from direct sources as listed above and of course supplementation. Purely for value and convenience we believe that Reflex Omega 3s represent a fantastic purchase and is the one we recommend to you.
Omega 3s are one of the best supplements you can take and one of the cheapest! There is no excuse, get yours today by clicking here!
There are an awful lot coaches out there today who will knock you a diet plan up but is that a long term solution? Probably not, unless you have unlimited financial resources and you enjoy having no control over what you eat. If on the other hand you do want to learn how to choose the best foods for yourself then you need to learn the ropes. Sometimes rules and pointers are better than absolutes because they provide you with the necessary tools to make the right decisions and act accordingly.
Below are 3 ‘’rules’’ you can apply to your current nutrition regime as a means to test your rate of progression and in turn spot areas you need to change and adapt. Today we are talking specifically for fat loss!
1 – Hunger
Most people do not eat enough! As a result when they progress on a fat loss plan they end up eating less and less. Guess what? The metabolic adaptation which occurs means that you go on a downward spiral. On a fat loss plan we don’t want to fall into a place where you are never hungry because that indicates the metabolism is possibly slow. Start with plenty of food, it might feel a lot but within 2-3 weeks the same amount of food should be easy. The metabolism has sped up! Periodically throw in a high carb day. If you are super hungry the next 1-2 days you know it has worked!!
2 – Strength
Even on a diet where you are in a calorie deficit you shouldn’t experience dramatic reductions in strength! If you do then your diet isn’t right. If you find your strength and energy is falling drastically then you need to increase calories. Also look at your carb intake around your workouts, both before and after!
3 – Cravings
If your diet is serving you correctly you shouldn’t suffer with cravings all of the time. Sure, every now and then you might fancy a bit of chocolate but if that’s all that is on your mind something is wrong. Often a lack of fat and protein are to blame here combined with a lack of carbohydrate control which in turn leaves your blood sugar levels all over the place. Try and be consistent, eat every 3-4 hours, don’t let yourself get hungry and up your protein and fat and move your carbs to the pre/post workout window!
Just by taking note on these 3 points you can learn a lot about the changes you need to make on your diet.
Millennium Sport Technologies (MST) Cre-O2 has been dubbed for some time as our favourite creatine supplement. It’s an extremely competitive and complex category so for any product to head the list of ‘’go to’’ supplements it really needs to tick all the boxes. Millennium Sport Technologies have certainly put the work in on this product, that’s for sure. What exactly gives Cre-O2 to the edge though and is all of this praise really warranted? Absolutely.
To provide a little background information let’s first explore the overall benefits of creatine as a generic term. Creatine is one of the most scientifically researched and backed supplements money can buy today. Having hit the market over a decade ago there has been an awful lot of time, energy and focus spent on analysing the benefits. Creatine has been shown to improve ATP resynthesis within the muscle which is imperative to –
Why? Simply because ATP is the body’s energy currency. Improve the rate at which it is resynthesised and you will improve the above! Excellent.
More than that creatine is also known to help increase the size of your muscles by acting as a volumising agent, drawing water into the muscle. Again, excellent.
So why choose a premium product like Cre-O2? It’s a relevant question that’s for sure but the answer lies in the methods used to create this product and perhaps more importantly coat this product.
The thing is, when we supplement with creatine it is said up to 85% of it never reaches the muscle cell along its journey through the stomach. In short, it is a stubborn character and getting it to the muscle cell is no easy feat. The harsh acidic environment within the stomach proves too much for it. Millennium Sport Technologies focussed on this and created something they call an ‘’enteric coating’’ which keeps the blend of 4 creatines within completely stable whilst travelling through the stomach. It’s a logical step forward and provides a strong explanation as to why users of Cre-O2 do indeed notice a significant difference.
Millennium Sport Technologies have used 4 forms of creatine within this blend labelled the Cre-XS matrix. They have developed this with the belief that using 4 pathways is greater than one to maximise ATP resynthesis. It seems to work very well indeed!
The final element of Cre-O2 is the ATP-O2 Catalyst which acts as an energising agent during your workouts. The function of this formula is to maximise the muscle cell’s ability to utilise oxygen which in turn supports efficient energy turnover.
We love this product and have for some time now! We have tried it many times and we notice the difference.
Most of us who go to the gym on a frequent almost regimented basis will have a training partner in all likelihood. This can be a terrible and great thing all in the same sentence depending on a number of factors at play here. Experience, mind-set, attitude, goal and reliability. If your training partner takes a deep interest in the gym, reads articles on the value of Omega 3s for fun and enjoys a gruelling leg session they are almost guaranteed to be worth their weight in gold. In contrast if all they are interested in is the blonde on the cross-trainer, how many pints they can handle on a heavy night out and who can curl the biggest dumbbells (with over compromised form) then they probably either need a wakeup call or the nudge.
Seriously though, are you getting the most out of your training sessions? Are you being pushed to new limits every week or are you merely dossing about going through the merry motions whilst updating your social media accounts? It’s so sad but so true. We see this far too frequently.
If you are all about progress then you need to challenge your will to go beyond your comfort zone, it’s never an easy experience. When that pain tickles your threshold and you are comfortably at that level your instinct will tell you to shut off. A good training partner will get in your ear and tell you to keep pushing that bit more. A bad training partner won’t notice because they are either pouting in the mirror, texting someone or eyeballing someone they believe to be attractive.
It sounds humorous and to an extent it is because it’s laughable. Really, training means just that – hitting the gym, enjoying a session which challenges you that bit more and getting something from it. Think, does your training partner enhance or detract from your goals? Be real.
This weekend I went through a back and triceps session with a great friend. He pulled me up on minor things which he felt were important – the angle I was sitting at, the positioning of my legs and even my range of motion (stretching an extra inch at the top) and do you know what? I am hurting like Mike Tyson has used the back of my body as a punch bag! That’s a good training partner. Someone who points things out to help and improve your progress. Not someone who massages your ego, tells you that you are the strongest person in the world and never points out you are doing something wrong.
Get yourself a good one!
The fitness industry is a big place to be and it is my belief that to reach the top you need to be willing to work endless hours, educate yourself, then some more and build a reputation based on getting people excellent results. What are excellent results? Improved health first and foremost – beyond that an improved physique, maybe performance and certainly a better understanding of food. To add to that you should also improve the client’s relationship with food. I see far too many people preaching extremes which will ultimately make people feel so low about themselves they will be scared to eat anything other than lettuce. Not good!
My inbox is filled with messages from new trainers who want advice of getting a name for themselves on a weekly basis. It is a very relevant topic. Anybody wants to be as good at their career as they can be and us trainers should be no different.
Public perception is a massive thing which is where clever marketing comes in to play. However, none of this is possible without good results to share. You should base your marketing around results of clients you have helped. If you don’t have any then get learning and get some!!
Recently I have started working with bigger names including wrestling and MMA superstar Bobby Lashley. As a child I used to play computer games as him and it is crazy to think I am now doing his nutrition plan. There are more stories like this. The point is without starting at the ground and building up with solid results with clients this wouldn’t be possible. Working with the elite is the ‘’house’’ and that house cannot be built with strong foundations.
Getting back to it here are 3 things I would focus on to build your profile.
1 – Education
You cannot go far without the right education. I’m not really talking certificates here (although some are needed and are worthwhile) but more self-learning and seminars. Follow the work of Phil Learney, Justine Maguire (who both right for FitMag!) and Nick Mitchell. This is a great place to start. Learn your craft.
2 – Practise & Perfect
Once you have done some learning put it into practise on yourself and on one or two select people. Monitor, analyse, amend and learn. This is where your protocols will be built and you will learn the most. Of course you can evolve but get some foundations in place to progress from first.
3 – Preach
Once you are getting results and you have pictures the fun begins! You need to build a following based of these pictures but be open minded enough to know different people need different things. Share your experience, knowledge and build from there. People are watching, you don’t who though! Keep it positive and keep it informative.
Getting to the top means starting at the bottom usually. The 3 points above will certainly help you move through the first few levels!
Carbohydrates are a controversial topic that’s for sure. In the media you will hear every Tom, Dick and Harry give an opinion on them –
. All carbohydrates are the same (that’s a sweet potato or bag of sweets!)
. Carbohydrates make you fat (no carbs before Marbs anyone?)
. You can’t have carbs after 6PM (6PM specifically by the way. . . .)
. Carbohydrates are the only energy source the body can use (clearly fats weren’t invented then. . . .)
. Wholegrain carbs are ‘’guilt free’’ and therefore you can eat as many as you want provided they have the Holy Grail badge on then, whole grain. (Really, some ‘’slimming’’ organisations promote this)
The list goes on. I extend my sincere apologies for the sarcasm which accompanied each statement above but I just cannot help it. The fitness industry really has reached a point where complete and utter tripe goes under the radar, no one questions it and as a result it reaches massive audiences who embrace it. Guess what? They then suffer with the associated issues both physically and mentally (more on this in other articles) and they even pass this advice on to their mates before they realise what is really happening. This is of course tragic.
So what is the truth? Let me break that down for you in 4 easy to digest points. Here we go – the truth about carbs in 4 points.
1 – Who is asking?
The first thing we need to address is glucose tolerance which is heavily related to insulin resistance/sensitivity. Each of us will be different. Let me use two examples to provide a little more clarity.
Person A – born skinny, can eat chocolate all day long without ever gaining weight. Their glucose tolerance and in turn insulin health is GREAT! They would be described as highly insulin sensitive and glucose tolerant. Simple really, they ‘’tolerate’’ glucose (and carbohydrates are the most direct form of glucose).
Person B – born more prone to holding body fat, if they go through a phase of eating a lot of carbs it will show on their waistline. Their glucose tolerance and insulin health isn’t so good. They would be described as insulin resistant.
As you can see, carbs are some people’s friends and have the potential to be the enemy for others. The higher your body fat the more insulin resistant you will be. The leaner you are the more insulin sensitive you will be.
Insulin explained – when we ingest carbohydrates a certain quantity of insulin is produced and secreted from the pancreas into the blood. It acts as a transporter of glucose so it can be utilised as energy. However, if you are insulin resistant what happens when you eat carbs is that the insulin secreted becomes less and less. As a result we have glucose left in the blood without insulin present which means it is harder to utilise it as energy. Unless there is an immediate need for the glucose the chances of it being stored as fat is greatly heighted. Insulin resistance can be reversed over time which is what this plan will help you achieve!
2 – All carbs are not equal!
Based on the fact the reason we pay special attention to carbohydrates is due to their effect on insulin we believe all carbs are not created equal.
There are times when we want carbohydrates to have a more aggressive effect on insulin production than others. The thing is, insulin is the most anabolic hormone in the body therefore we love it. It just needs to be treated with respect. There are also times where we don’t want insulin levels to become elevated (much anyway).
The glycemic load of a meal dictates to what extent our insulin production is stimulated. This means that each piece of food on the plate will play a role, not just the carbohydrates. For example, white potato on its own with chicken breast would have quite a high glycemic load. To increase it we would add some honey in there (sugary carbs generally cause a more aggressive insulin response apart from fructose!!). In contrast, to mitigate the insulin response we would add some fats in there maybe with some whole eggs for example (fats will blunt the insulin response of a meal to an extent because they slow down the time in which a meal is absorbed).
With that said, we manipulate meals to get the desired response form the meal depending on what time of the day it is.
The carbohydrates we should use most of the time come from the earth and are what we call single ingredient foods. Sweet potato, white potato, oats, rice and the likes of are generally top of the list here. We don’t include much fruit apart from berries (more on that another time).
We should tend to avoid processed carbohydrates for the most part because a lot of them are quite frankly evil. Anything containing fructose corn syrup (which is very different to naturally occurring fructose in fruit!) is on the banned list 95% of the time. We do allow for treats, after all it is a lifestyle. However for the most part we don’t want things like this in our diet.
3 – Of course it matters when!
There are many people who will tell you it doesn’t matter when you consume carbs provided that they fit within your daily calorie and macro targets. I disagree strongly! I have time and time again helped clients who previously couldn’t shift body fat simply by paying more attention to their carbohydrate timing and in turn improving insulin sensitivity. It isn’t the only variable, of course. However it is a very relevant one.
When we lift weights we instantly create a greater need for glucose and we are also equipped better to deal with glucose. 4 – Cycling carbs means what exactly?
Carb cycling simply means increasing carbs for a given day (and simultaneously removing fat for the day and reducing protein).
In doing so we are going to stimulate the metabolism by up-regulating thyroid output which carbohydrates do so well.
The leaner you are the more frequent you have them, simply put. The starvation hormone, Leptin is relevant here. If it is allowed to drop too low then the body will not allow body fat levels to reduce further. Carbohydrates up-regulate your leptin levels, again the leaner you are the lower they will drop within a shorter space of time.
Keeping fats to a minimum is key in order to ensure there aren’t difference energy sources competing. More than that we don’t want fatty acids floating around in the blood with insulin levels elevated. Protein is also reduced because carbs are protein sparing.
The high carb days will keep you moving in the right direction whilst also presenting an opportunity to include a small treat here and there.
Carbs aren’t evil and they are certainly not guilt free if they are wholegrain. The truth is, they are misunderstood and often misused. Understand what they do, when you really need them and they will quickly become your friends! In short fat loss gets a lot easier!!
It always seems we want what we cannot have. Those who are born with the luxury of being able to live on chocolate and never gain fat whilst others can merely look at a dumbbell and gain 5lbs of muscle. The thing is though; they often have opposing appetites meaning the guys who need to eat more to gain weight don’t want the food and the ones who pack on fat overnight dream about the stuff. If ever there was an example of sod’s law this is it. Time and time again we come across young lads who need to develop the appetite of a starved lion to gain any kind of size yet their eating habits resemble something more like a 12 year old boy. The trick is then to help people in this predicament get in extra calories from quality sources without having to gorge down tonnes and tonnes of food because clearly that is going to grate on their resilience pretty quickly!
Below are 3 ways to increase your calorie intake with ease. Hard gainers, listen up!!
1 – Fats
Fats have many vital roles within the body one of which is supporting testosterone production. If you are chasing muscle mass then adding plenty of fats to your diet is a good idea. They are also very calorie dense, at 9 calories per gram (over double that of protein and carbs!!). Adding almond butter, cashew butter, parmesan cheese, extra virgin olive oil, organic butter and organic double cream are all easy ways to increase calorie intake AND add a LOT of flavour to your diet. Creamy coffees, cheesy meat dishes and buttery scrambled are all options now!
Why the emphasis on ‘’organic’’ with the butter and cream? Glad you asked. Organic isn’t always necessary however with butter and cream in particular we find that the fat in non-organic alternatives are loaded with toxins (toxins live in fat). With that said we always go organic in these cases.
2 – Post-Training Hunger
You have to take advantage of windows of opportunity and usually within an hour of having a hard lifting session your appetite is firing! With that said for you guys who struggle to gain weight we want to get the calories into you! We are talking a lower fat HIGH carb and protein feeding frenzy!! Don’t go silly, but a big bowl of oats berries with whey protein for dessert after a chicken and basmati rice stir fry wouldn’t be frowned upon!! Even some frozen yogurt to help it all go down would be fine. Get the point?
3 – MRPs
If appetite isn’t your strong point and neither is gaining weight then meal replacement shakes will be your friend! Our most highly recommended product in this category for you would be PhD Growth Factor Mass!
There is no excuse, where there is a will there is a way. It so happens these 3 tips above are very easy to implement! Eat to grow muscle!
Approximately 33% of your upper arm development comes from your biceps. Almost every man who picks up a muscle magazine and starts lifting weights desires bulging biceps – let’s be honest, they look great! Unlike a lot of cases where people neglect muscles in the gym and therefore lack development we cannot say the same for this one – it isn’t often you come across people who aren’t eager to bash their biceps up in the gym! They just do it wrong a lot of the time.
If this sounds like you – all effort and no reward, then read through the 5 bicep building tips below and learn how they will make a difference to the size of your arms!
1 – Function & Action
What is the main function of your bicep? To make your palm pace the ceiling essentially! Try it now and see if you instantly feel added tension on your bicep – you should! With that said this tells us that turning your wrist towards your forearm as you bicep curl doesn’t make sense that becomes more of a forearm builder. Next time you curl focus on cocking your wrist back! Feel the difference.
2 – Shoulder Movement
Sit and watch most guys in the gym curl heavy and you will almost certainly notice that as they lift the weight (curl) they will bring their upper arm forward. This is achieved by engaging the anterior deltoid (front of your shoulders). This means that there will be more emphasis and stress on this muscle rather than the bicep. This is a fast way to achieve very little growth within your biceps! Learn to isolate the biceps even if it means lifting less!
3- Range of Motion
Again, observe average Joe do his bicep curls. Most will only go half, maybe two thirds of the way down before lifting again. Why? Because if they used a full range of motion they wouldn’t be able to lift the weights they are using and don’t want to upset their ego. Full range of motion on bicep training is imperative for growth!
4 – Posture
A lot of people kind of scrunch themselves up when they curl forcing their traps (upper back/shoulder muscles) to become tight and their posture goes all funny. As a result the exercise becomes more about the back than biceps. Not good. Remember, isolate for growth!
5 – Frequency
If you are ‘’smashing’’ your biceps up once a week to no avail try hitting them twice, maybe three times even a week. You only need 3-5 working sets a time as they will do a lot of work on pulling movements anyway. This is in aid of stimulating muscle protein synthesis levels within the muscle more frequently!
If you haven’t had much luck on this front we hope these points will change that very soon! Train smart, train hard.
Injuries are the bane of any avid sports person’s life, they are a massive inconvenience and often immensely painful. Many clouds have a silver lining yet you would be forgiven for outlining the fact this cloud is one which is exclusive to that rule! Rather than discuss common injuries and how to fix them (because after all you would need a specialist to help you with that!) we are going to talk about good habits to develop in order to help limit the risk of them occurring.
1 – Soft Tissue Work
There are few things in this world which are as relaxing and potentially as painful all at the same time. Soft tissue work isn’t always painful, it depends on the variety you choose, the practitioner and what they are treating (if there are knots in the muscle then it might get a little uncomfortable!). However, having regular soft tissue work could help sustain the clarity of your muscle tissue. This is particularly important around the scapulas where we see common issues in this area leading to posture and shoulder injuries.
2 – Stretching
We often see elite athletes displaying immense levels of flexibility and suppleness – professional footballers, tennis players and even pro bodybuilders doing the splits. When we consider these guys are exercise all of the time it is imperative they don’t get injured too often! Staying flexible is often their secret and it is said to be something Ryan Giggs swears by, a man who has played at the highest level of professional football for over two decades which is unheard of! Stretching 2-4 times a week and even attending yoga is a great way to help stay injury free. Special areas of focus would be the hips, lower back and shoulders!
3 – Foam Rolling
This is something which has become far more popular in recent years amongst elite athletes and it has filtered down to the general population. All you are doing here is using your body weight, the floor or wall and a strong roll of foam. By rolling various muscle groups against this you are ‘’rolling’’ the muscle out, helping it remain free and supple which allows for better recovery and even arguably growth!
These are 3 top habits to get used to doing on a regular basis if you want to optimise the chances of staying injury free. Remember, flexibility is going to really help you stay healthy long term. Mr Giggs is good testimony to that!
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