‘Deload week’ explained

The perceived idea that you generally need to constantly lift heavier, has it’s advantages, but also does including a deload week into your regime.

Setting goals for your lifts is very motivating and once you hit those goals, you should set new ones. I’m a big fan of taking a step back though and reaffirming things like tempo and form by doing a lighter week – this is called a deload week.

During my deload week, I generally vary my eccentric, concentric, isometric tempos and the intensity I’m exerting myself to, by using a lighter weight of about 50% of my 1RM. I find this allows my ligaments and tendons to have a rest period from the heavy loading and also a greater chance to grow to accommodate the new muscle i’ve introduced to my joints, from my heavier weeks. With the growth of your muscles, means your ligaments and tendons need to grow too, but they don’t grow as fast, as they’re not as fibrous as muscle fibre.

Another thing I enjoy from my deload week is being able to test the performance of the new strength I’ve gained – this often leads me to the conceptual thoughts about what lifestyle activities I may now be capable of, outside of the gym – after all, we are all training for a greater quality of life right?

Support muscle growth with protein shakes

Why are protein shakes post-workout important?

Protein is the main nutrient which everybody needs to support their internal and external repair process and the immune system. My suggestion is that you consume a generous amount (30-40g) of protein within 30-60 minutes post-workout.

Other benefits of consuming protein shakes have been seen to be fat loss, hunger prevention, fighting off cancer from peptides and amino acids found in dietary proteins and reduced stress levels relating to brain health.

Currently I am using a protein called Prana which I have chosen because it’s organic and adds micronutrients to my health like complex carbohydrates, healthy fats from flaxseed oils, creatine monohydrate, digestive enzymes and complex amino acids.

Importance of unilateral training

Single-limb ‘Unilateral’ training is a big driver of a strong and balanced physique

What is unilateral training?

This term means to perform an exercise that works one limb independently or are more targeted towards one limb. Examples of unilateral exercises are; single cable lat pull, single stiff-leg deadlift, single arm bench rows etc. Being different from bilateral training, the exertion may not be as high on the body, but the benefits are worth it.

Benefits of unilateral training?

• Allowing the body to even out any strength or size imbalances
• Correcting postural differences, which can sometimes be made worse through bilateral training
• Strengthening stabilising muscles by forcing the joint to recruit more muscle fibre

I myself have some strength differences within my body and so I frequently ensure I encompass unilateral exercises into my routine.

Do you do unilateral exercises and what are your thoughts on the aid of progressing your exercises along?

Improve your strength

Strength is an important component of success in most athletics events, and therefore should be an essential part of most training programs. The time spent in training for strength should be proportional to the requirement for these components in your event, and your deficiencies in this area.

Strength is the maximal force you can apply against a load, and power is proportional to the speed at which you can apply this maximal force. Training to improve in this area can include lifting weights, throwing heavier implements, running against a resistance, and plyometrics (depth jumping and bounding).

Improvements in strength follow the overload principle. That is, to increase muscle strength the muscles need to be stressed with a load greater than normal. The muscles are thus stimulated to adapt to the increased load.

The exercises chosen should be specific to the muscle groups used and the actions performed in your event. Variation is also important to maximize the gains in strength. Varying intensity (amount of rest, weight lifted) and volume (repetitions, sets, sessions per week), provides greater stimulus for strength gains than simply following a set program and progressively increasing the amount of weight lifted. Weight training three times a week, with at least one day between sessions is generally adequate. Rest days between sessions are necessary for recovery and the adaptation to take place.

Not everyone wants to be like Arnold Schwarzenegger, and nor do they have to be. Strength training is suitable for most events, males and females. With the help of an expert, a program specific for your needs can be designed by varying such things as the exercises, repetitions, sets, weight lifted and number of sessions per week.

Top 5 mistakes every gym member makes

1. Focusing on your phone

The thought of going to the gym doesn’t exactly thrill most people so it only makes sense to get your workout done in as little time possible.
That means eliminating ALL distractions. So resist the urge to check your inbox every 30 seconds or look at your Facebook page during your workout.
If you’re emailing or reading you’re not working out hard enough to lose weight.

2. No goal and no plan

Far too often people walk into the gym without a training plan or routine and try to wing it. This leads to confusion and the person doesn’t get the most out of the session.
You should have a very specific goal and a progressive programme that helps you achieve that goal.

3. Endless cardio

If you are training to lose body fat then you should not be using the treadmill, cross trainer, or bike for long periods of time.
People still believe that the calorie burn on cardio machines is the best way to lose body fat. This is a mistake.
The best way to lose body fat is to use HIIT (high-intensity interval training). Choose a machine or exercise and work as hard as you can for 30 to 60 seconds and take that same amount of time to recover.
Repeat this for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on your fitness level, and you will shred the pounds.

4. Skipping a workout

Even when you don’t think you have time – you do.
Even 10 minutes of exercise has an impact on the body and you can sneak that much into your day anywhere.
If you start skipping workouts you won’t see the results and this will have a negative effect on your motivation levels.
It makes more sense to give it 100% effort, make every workout, and reap the rewards as a result.

5. Improper exercise technique

When you don’t know how to use a machine or perform an exercise properly you can easily confuse mechanical inefficiency with calorie burn.
Doing an exercise wrong can also lead to injury. If you get injured you can’t work out – and if you can’t work out you won’t be burning calories in the gym.
You can get an experienced gym instructor to do the rounds with you or consider hiring a personal trainer to get things done properly.

Simple principles for your next workout

There are many ways to increase the effectiveness of your training session.

Here are a few things to consider when planning for your next training session.

Rest Periods

60 second rest in between sets prevents the body from shuttling away the lactate acid being built up as a by product of energy production and expenditure. Lactate acid has been identified as an significant precursor in muscle hypertrophy through Insulin Growth Factor 1 (IGF1).
90 second rest periods increase your bodies Human Growth Hormone (HGH) levels and is attributed to Myofibril hypertrophy.
3 minutes and above should be used when completing reps with a weight above 80% of your 1RM, it also raises your bodies testosterone levels and is typically assocaited with sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.
Total Workload

Total workload is a combination of sets, reps and resistance e.g. 5 sets of 5 reps at 5 Kg would be a total of 125 Kg workload.
These variables can easily be manipulated to suit your type of training and meet your goals.

Nutritional advice that will keep you training

Looking to ditch unwanted body fat? Shred smart with these helpful tips.

Leaning out isn’t an easy process. It means eating smart, training efficiently, and remembering that every calorie burned counts. Gone are impromptu cheat days of shoveling greasy food into your mouth under the guise of a “dirty bulk.”

Leaning out is all about learning how to dial in your macros the right way, but that doesn’t mean you have to feel deprived. Leaning out doesn’t mean cutting entire food groups, ditching all compound movements, or skipping the weights to spend long hours on the treadmill. It’s all about pushing your body to its full potential the right way.

Summer might be coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean the season of lean is anywhere close to over. Check out these 40 top tips that will help guide you through a successful cut.

1. Eat More Protein

Protein is the most satiating macronutrient. In addition to leaving you feeling fuller longer, increased protein intake will also help you keep muscle mass when you’re lowering your caloric intake. Basically, it’ll allow you to pack on the gains even when slimming down. Protein also stimulates glucagon secretion, which helps liberate the stored energy you need to train hard.

2. Eat Protein Every Four Hours

Frequent, relatively equal-portioned protein feedings are key to optimizing protein synthesis. “Frequent” doesn’t meant “nonstop.” Spread your protein intake out so you are getting at least 30 g every four hours in order to maximize protein synthesis. More than 30 g is fine, too!

3. Make Green Leafy Vegetables Your Friend

Green leafy vegetables are loaded with nutrients, but not calories. As an added bonus, they keep your body functioning at an optimal level by helping you maintain your system’s acid/base balance. When you’re in your cutting phase, make it a point to have green vegetables at every main meal. Not sure where to start? Collard greens can help lower your cholesterol levels, kale is rich in antioxidants and has cancer-preventing power, and bok choy is packed with immune-system-supporting vitamin A.

4. Save Starches For After Workouts

Low glycemic carbohydrates such as green vegetables, fruits, and beans should make up the bulk of your carbohydrate intake, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid starches completely. Just save them for post-workout consumption. Simple carbs are critical for the recovery and muscle-growth process because, after crushing heavy weight, your body is severely depleted of both glucose (usable energy) and glycogen (stored energy). This is the time to consume tempting high-glycemic carbs (with an index of 70 and above) such as fresh fruits, breads, and cereals.

5. Eat For Volume

Eating foods that are high in volume but not calories (nutrient-dense not calorie-dense) will keep you full but not fat. Cabbage, spinach, lettuce, and broccoli are great foods you can eat in high volume without feeling like you’ve maxed out on your daily calorie quota.

Looking for something in the animal (instead of vegetable) camp? Look no further than the almighty egg. Egg whites expand a lot if you beat them long enough—just don’t make meringue. They’ll make your feel like you are eating a lot more calories than you are.

6. Drink More Water

Dehydration makes you physically and mentally tired. When you’re feeling a little parched—a sign that you might already be experiencing dehydration—ditch room temperature H2O and grab a glass of cold water. Drinking cold water has a slight thermogenic effect, allowing you to burn extra calories while you hydrate.

7. Don’t Drastically Decrease Fats

Eating fat won’t make you fat, so don’t make the mistake of dropping your fat levels too low when leaning out. Extremely low-fat diets are a huge mistake. Not only do fats provide your body with energy, they also help transport vitamins through your bloodstream and absorb them into your body.

Essential fatty acids—such as those found in whole grains, seeds, nuts, and some fish—have a hand in brain development and blood clotting. Balance your fat intake by eating saturated (butter, coconut oil) and unsaturated (olive oil, nuts, flaxseed) fats.

8. Cut Out Unplanned Snacks

Calories from unplanned snacking can add up quickly and can wreak havoc on your fat-loss goals. The message is pretty simple: If you didn’t plan on it, don’t eat it.

9. Make Meal Prep For The Week

Whether you’re cutting or bulking, meal prep is an essential part to any fitness journey. Eat regularly, don’t skip meals, and keep a food journal. A good food log helps monitor progress so you can make accurate adjustments to better meet your fitness goals. Writing things down will also help to keep you accountable and could lead you to snack less.

10. Pump Up The Protein

Consuming adequate protein—roughly 30 percent of your daily calories—is so important that I had to include it twice!

11. Remove Nutritional Vices

Keeping that half-eaten bag of chips in the kitchen cupboard won’t help you resist temptation. Why unnecessarily test your will power? Clear all the chips, sugary drinks, ice cream, and other processed goodies from your kitchen. If it’s not there, you can’t eat it.

12. Read Labels

Getting accustomed to reading the nutritional facts is a good habit to get into. But don’t stop at the protein, carbohydrate, and fat content— read the entire list of ingredients. You’ll be amazed at how many foods are loaded with America’s “favorite nutrient”: high fructose corn syrup. Which is code for “more sugar.”

Plan for success through periodisation

Planning to go about your new health and fitness journey, can be a hard task, if you’re unsure where to start… Periodisation programming will give you the pathway to achieve any goals you might have!

First, you must ensure that you have stability within your joints. Often people are inhibited by facia tissue and unsure about what range of motion should be achieved whilst exercising. Calisthenics is a good place to start getting the joints moving and muscle used to the change in workload, but other times, some weights maybe needed.

My experience with myself and my many clients may not be compelling enough to make you spend time giving stability training serious thought. Truly effective training comes through understanding that some important concepts and skills be established.

The following is the recommended progression from spinal expert Dr. Stuart McGill.

Good Motor Patterns: Highly coordinated and efficient movement skills
Stability: Building stability of both joints and whole body
Endurance: Strength coaches have long used “anatomical adaptation” or general physical preparation as a means to lay a foundation for higher intensity strength work
Strength: Not just to see how much you can lift, but teaching the body how to coordinate, connect, and utilize the natural chains in the body
Power and Agility: Performance specific training methods

How does this play out in the real world? The truth is they are all interconnected, it just depends on which point you are emphasizing. Understanding how we use training variables for these goals is very important.

We can see these ideas in practical ways. In squatting patterns we can introduce or help “groove” the pattern by using a kettlebell goblet squat. We can add more stress to the movement by loading a front squat. Finally we can introduce instability with a shoulder sandbag squat (try to minimally use a load 50% of your front squat weight).

With even more complex drills like thrusters, we have a lot of options. Just by using kettlebells instead of dumbbells or dumbbells instead of kettlebells (use the opposite of what you have been) you are going to feel a great new level of instability. We can move in a more unstable manner by going from a drop lunge up to an overhead press. This adds instability via different body position. Finally, we can add instability through a new plane of motion and unstable implement with a lateral lunge to rotational sandbag press

Shedding body fat explored

Losing fat is a collaborative process between calorie intake, types of calories, metabolism, calorie burning and timing. Sound complicated? It doesn’t have to be. Everyone on the planet can lose body fat with one goal—calories in being less than calories out.

Burn more calories than you take in, and fat comes off. The challenging part is that there are a million different combination or ways to do this. The key is to find what works for you. What fits into your mindset, what can you adapt into your schedule and what will you be able to do consistently?

Below are five easy—and often overlooked—ways to lose fat. Anyone with the faintest desire to lose body fat can easily incorporate these into their weekly routine. Putting them all together is certain to result in some noticeable fat loss within a few weeks.