Random Training Thoughts From This Week.

This is more of a thought board of random statements that I saw on the gym floor this week.

  1. Tempo is a useful tool on the eccentric or “lifting” section of a movement if the goals are rehab, muscular endurance or hypertrophy. If the goals are strength and speed slow work is redundant. You can not lift a maximal or close to maximal weight slowly without compromising performance.
  2. High intensity work is great if you can maintain form. If you have a poor aerobic base your form will break down on repetition based cardio. This is a problem with HIIT work- it mainly becomes poor form aerobic work after a while. HIIT is popular in the mainstream at the moment and obviously it is partly client led because it feels rewarding. Initially use methods which mean that form break down can be coached properly before progressing exercise complexity e.g. a bike is a lot easier to maintain form on than hill runs or kettlebell swings.
  3. Loaded hip thrusts are popular at the moment… but I like to use them more as a finishing exercise and a warm up drill than rather than a “main exercise”, this is just personal preference as I think after a certain amount of weight the weight needed to lift for overload becomes uncomfortable.
  4. Overhead hangs (unless you come from a gymnastic population so you are training for a sport) are not a great position for your shoulder joint to be in. It feels good to hang as it decompresses the joint and stretching generally always feels good but it creates laxity in the joint which your retirement will not thank you for. Kipping pull ups fall into this category as you get an anterior translation of the humeral head at the base of the movement. What does this mean? Your arm bone gets pushed forward into the soft tissue at the front of your shoulder.
  5. Over the last couple of months I have been supplementing my diet with additional fish oils and curcumin. Two of their major benefits are anti-inflammation. Anecdotally, I think they have helped me balance out a heavy work period (I am now teaching at Hertford Regional College on their Personal Training programme) and maintained at least decent recovery from exercise. I also feel this has been a factor in maintaining good energy levels…. and getting more stuff done. Granted I did buy a new coffee machine but my intake of caffeine has been relativly the same as before!

How to Lose Weight and Why Television Could Be Confusing You

I always highlight that reading more won’t make you stupid… However, if you principally read stories that are not true then the likely hood is that you may believe that life works in the way as described in what you are reading.

The same could be said of television- as I highlight to my wife. In season- I love a bit of Game of Thrones, sometimes I could consider maybe it’s a bit “real” (no I haven’t gone full blown crazy), I mean at one point in time you had to pretty much run around with a sword! Am I right- of course I am. Now when the magic and dragons turn up I pretty much understand that they might not be real- well I haven’t seen many dragons recently. This is fantasy comparing this to the hospital drama Gray’s Anatomy where it seems you take your life and close relationships in to your hands once you take on your employment contract- I mean if you or your significant other isn’t crushed, beaten or shot within two years working in this hospital it’s a miracle. They both aren’t real if you needed clarification… though they are entertaining.

What does this have to do with weight loss you may ask. Well continue reading and I might get to my point. There is a lot of misinformation about losing weight. Principally you need to remember one thing:

You will only lose fat weight if you are in a calorific deficit.

There, that’s it.

It’s not a fantastical story about your hormones. Overall your weight can be manipulated by what you eat and drink. Body composition is only changed if you engage in a calorific deficit or surplus.

Why is it important to highlight this point. Consider the following:

  • Eat fat, burn fat.
  • Low carb diets work best for fat loss.
  • Fasted exercise is better than non-fasted exercise.

None of them are true. If you eat fat and you are in a calorific deficit then you will lose weight. Low carb diets are as effective as low fat diets in the research. Fasted cardio is not better if you control for exercise intensity and volume. Where does that leave us? It doesn’t leave us in a place with a fantastic story- in fact it leaves two options. Control calorie intake and adapt exercise/ activity as necessary in line with your current weight/ lean muscle content.

Each of those statements have been uttered in the main stream media, on television and in print recently. What’s the result? People believe these things are real. Now they may not start pouring cream on all their meals and eating cheese like there is no tomorrow but it does confuse the message of a balanced diet and healthy sustainable weight loss.

If you know the difference between dragons being real or pretend, then that’s fine, just as the perils of taking a hospital job in Seattle. If these programmes are being delivered  as factual accounts and people believe they are real then the world would be going crazy. Some things can be dramatized- health advice probably shouldn’t be.

In Other News…. Part 1.

In a way of consolidating some of the interesting things I have been reading/ looking at and also to avoid the constant stream of social media I have put together some of the interesting articles/ bits of science that I have found interesting over the last week. Hopefully these will dispel a few myths in between entertaining you/ stopping you looking at what  cute kittens are doing on Facebook etc.

First of all press ups… Most people hate them and everyone should do them. As we have laid a new floor it has highlighted poor form if you don’t have your hand position right (e.g. directly beneath your arm pits). As for a couple of days the gym was more slippery than a slippery snake in slippers due to the way they make rubber flooring it meant that if the push from the press up was not vertical then bad things where going to happen e.g. face plant! Consider also the rounding of the shoulder blades at the top of the movement as your shoulder blades move around the rib cage (this is a good thing and doesn’t happen in bench pressing which can be advantageous for those managing shoulder issues).

The first piece is from Men’s Health and basically covers is late night snacking bad. The take home point is that calories are pretty much equal dispelling the outdated notion of no carbs after 6pm!

This piece of research indicates that prolonging the rate of carbohydrate ingestion is beneficial for those looking to improve insulin economy and glucose disposal. Perhaps more relevant for those with diabetes  it sort of highlights that having large volumes of carbohydrates (as opposed to consuming the same amount over a period of time) can have a more extreme effect on insulin levels. Why is this useful? Most people consume carbohydrates at breakfast, lunch and dinner- perhaps consider the amount you are consuming and break it down in to smaller snacks spread through the day, you may find it stops that mid-afternoon malaise.

Typically that malaise may be cured by black coffee, but as this article suggests black coffee drinkers may have more psychopathic tendencies (GULP!). So if anyone is training with me this or any evening please bring milk and a nice chianti. For those in to movies this is what Hannibal was on about when he was talking about his previous high protein/ low carb meal.

The Seven Most Effective Fat Loss Strategies

It’s that time of year… Cake, alcohol, chocolate and cheese have been liberated to become part of your regular diet and you have decided it has to stop. Welcome to January- this is where epic goals are set, intentions are at their greatest and fear of failure is outweighed by the desperate need to detox (your body doesn’t need to do this by the way- in fact it is always doing this) and to sweat out the sins of sloth and laziness that will on average leave most people 1kg heavier after the holiday period.

But fear not- what follows are (in my opinion) the seven most effective strategies for losing weight. This isn’t a sexy article- I am not selling any supplements, pushing a branded diet, I don’t have a book out and this advice definitely will not appear on the front of a news paper.

Why? The majority of people will understand that each of these points is true they stand up to scientific rigour. However, it doesn’t have a fancy name, doesn’t involve eating certain foods on certain days and comes with no celebrity DVD.

So away we go….

1. Work out how many calories you need and set a deficit of between 300-600 calories a day.

2. Create a meal plan- it doesn’t matter if you eat 1, 3 or 8 meals a day, eat to what your calorific goal suggests. It will help you avoid overconsumption.

3. Understand what is in your food- read the side of packets and weigh out a serving size. Educate yourself about what you are putting in to your body.

4. Eat a high protein diet- it will help with hunger levels, will maintain your muscle mass and help prevent muscle loss.

5. Be consistent with your carbohydrate and fat intake- it’s not really conclusive if low fat or low carb is “better” for fat loss. Some people respond well to different plans- initially just be consistent with how much you are eating.

6. Resistance train. Don’t go for a jog- if you resistance train while you are dieting you will maintain your lean muscle mass, it should be your priority in your training week.

7. Move. Getting stuck to your desk all day is a great way of limiting the amount of calories that you can burn. Get moving, walk up stairs, get a pedometer or use wearable technology like a fitbit or even a pedometer. Try and keep your residual levels of activity as high as possible.

That’s it your ready made guide to kick off the new year, it’s not recommended by a French doctor with an exotic name and it definitely doesn’t mention raspberry ketones, gluten free, prehistoric eating habits,  a new training style or have a desperate endorsement from someone on TV but these things work best… pure and simple.

 

 

 

Why Your Diet Doesn’t Work…

You have made that commitment…

You are willing to forgo all treats…

You have changed your Facebook profile picture to Linda Hamilton/ Arnold Schwarzenegger from Terminator 2: Judgement Day or someone equally bad ass….

Your life is about to become a Nike commercial…

But…. that was yesterday and now you are hungry.

It will pay off, won’t it? I mean a little bit of a short term sacrifice to get the body you always wanted?

You have dropped calories and eliminated as anything that isn’t green or your have to kill with a spear.

Six weeks later you are miserable- the initial weight loss has plateaued and you aren’t losing body fat any more.

You might have been taking advice from someone who has recommended chicken and broccoli at every meal, carbs and sugar are worse than the devil so you best avoid them as well, you may even have bought a super food smoothie to get all your nutrients in. The problem remains… you are still bored and hungry.

This is where we find a lot of our clients.

Fat loss nutrition has been sold to them as a short term approach

It will work in the short term but you are screwing yourself in the long term.

So try this instead…

If you are calling it a “diet” you are doing it wrong…

Be less strict and get to understand what sensible nutrition is…

Your nutrition plan needs to focus upon a number of things for success.

1. Your food preferences and overall goal.

In the context of this article we are looking at fat loss. Food preferences come down to like’s, dislikes and tolerances. I spoke to someone who cut gluten from each of his clients meal plans- I asked if all his clients where gluten intolerant, he said no. My point is that there needs to be flexibility in choice. In some cases some people may want to limit the consumptions of certain foods but I consider if you remove a food group you are actually cutting back on your food choice options. Personal preference comes in to this things as does personal health.

2. The flexibility to change up what you eat and when.

Some days are just a nightmare when you can’t find quinoa (I said never). I have used calorie counters with individuals in the past and often people become slaves to these obsessing over the minor details. The route cause of this is that we have lost touch with what actually a portion size is. Socially it can be awkward to make choices when on a strict plan and you don’t have a “healthy option” which leads to the next point…

3. A loose structure which is maintained even if you overeat.

At some point you may make what you consider a “bad” choice for fat loss. This is totally not the point.

The fundamental approach that runs through the core of losing weight is that calories need to be reduced to lose weight. To make a point that it can be hard to reduce calories if someone eats in an unstructured way e.g. very low calories during the week with massive binges at the weekend. The necessity to perhaps bring calories up in some cases in order to help people make the right choices rather than binging or defaulting to emotional eating can help to create better overall “structure” and help create a better framework for success. If you overeat or eat an undesirable food it won’t torpedo your overall results if you have a structured approach to balancing your nutrition.

What happens when you “diet”?

When people set up a diet two things happen. You become immediately focussed on the short term results and failure to maintain the diet is seen as absolute failure. In fact you often become heavily focussed upon short term achievement because your approach is so stringent with no flexibility. You may loose weight but ultimately you will plateau. Why? Your calorific intake know matches your expenditure- you are now a smaller person so you need less calories. What do you now?

I consider this the “friends” zone of dieting, I mean you are reaping the rewards of the diet from losing a bit of weight but you want to lose a bit more and aren’t happy- what do you do? Stay on the plan? Revert to what you did before? It’s generally pretty confusing at this point especially when you have to consider at a lower body weight you may need to drop your calories lower- however, that sounds horrendous at this point and is where most people fall of the wagon as they revert to their previous habitual eating pattern which is different to their stringent “diet.”

Setting up a”diet” for success!

Follow these pointers and you will be on the right path:

1. Create a structured way of eating that you can maintain without extreme behaviour or food avoidance.

A great example of this is that some people love breakfast, other people can take it or leave it. The strategy of forcing someone to eat breakfast is unnecessary- it’s a cultural norm from our society as it wraps the working day. You have to work with what’s comfortable before changing everything.

2. Educate yourself to understand what a protein, carbohydrate and fat is and what foods are rich in these.

Probably the most important point, if you have no idea what you are eating then you have no position to revert to. A great example of this is meal replacement supplements and why people put weight on when they go back to normal food- they don’t know what is in them so they can’t stratagize to replace the calories in them sensibly. Simply this generation have such an abundance of food that we don’t know what is in it or what enough is, hence the soaring obesity rate.

3. Understand your personal needs for protein, carbohydrates and fats.

This will vary on individual differences and activity levels. Simply though we are all pretty similar and total amounts are a factor when it comes to weight loss.

4. Set a long term “health” goal rather than a short term “avoidance” goal.

Regardless of how you eat if you can’t maintain some semblance of your target weight/ body fat over a period of time then you need to slightly reset your targets or your calorific intake.

In conclusion…

These words should remain with you “eat in a way you can maintain.”

If there is no or minimal transition to eating in a different way you are more likely to be successful. If this way of eating becomes the new “normal” then you level out the boom and bust approach to calorific consumption.

Remember you are in charge of your calorific consumption and you make the decisions. You can have your cake and possibly eat it- in this way of working it helps if you understand what is in the said cake and how it relates to your daily needs. In itself this decreases the necessity to beat yourself up about making bad decisions/ failing and should make you more determined to emphasise the healthy structured approach to how you mange your relationship with food over the long term.

From the Gym Floor: Part 4… Batman, Wall Balls, Speed Strength and Ambient Temperature.

This could be classified as the “super hero” edition. Why? Read on.

1. We were featured in Men’s Health in an article “How to be Batman” the premise was how to disrupt your childhood to leave you with a deep seated personality order meaning your role in life is defined by trying to imprison bad people while dressed up as a flying squirrel. Well not quite- it’s more of an article of what would Batman do in the gym- click above and enjoy.

2. Wall/ Slam Balls are awesome and fun at the same time. At the moment we are incorporating a lot of med ball slams/ wall ball work. In our more advanced clients they are great way to work on hip drives roll in rotational sports. We cue the movement by encouraging a hip turn first. Often you find that people when they fatigue start only using their arms especially on rotation or side to side based work. From the point of view they are a great tool for conditioning and varying movement load and speed. Most importantly they are fun. Too often I see coaches get caught up in the pursuit of “heavy” without working on varying repetition speed. Which leads to my next point…

3. Strength has a component of speed and endurance, to get the best returns you have to train speed and endurance to see a return in maximal strength. That means that quick work as described above is vital when you are looking to get stronger. It also means that endurance work or slightly higher repetition work can be good as well (typically we perform this on single leg work). Performing training in the same rep ranges all the time is an ineffectual way of training. 3 x 10 works for 6 weeks for beginners but to progress more variation is key.

4. Ambient temperature plays a roll in warm ups. We have come off the back of a pretty good summer and a warm Autumn but as the clocks change and the temperature drops it’s vital to take up the duration of your warm ups. When it’s warmer circulation is better and we find that our clients have less joint pain. If you suffer from poor circulation it can help to include a few more rounds of dynamic mobility- your joints may thank you for it. We have a few people who suffer from joint pain and adding additional work for the calves and wrists can help greatly in getting ready for your training sessions.

 

 

From the Gym Floor…. Part 3: Beginners Press Ups, Fat Loss and Speed Deadlifts.

In this months thrilling installment we wrestle with the questions that count!

1. Learn to do full press ups. It’s not about being sexist but this applies to both men and women. On a full press up you are lifting approximately 75% of your body weight an impressive achievement either way. One mistake we find is that people spend too long performing chest press/ barbell/ dumbell variations without first mastering press ups. We also find that challenging yourself to full press ups even if it is only one or two done well ultimately becomes three or four over time. One good intermediate is to elevate a press up. Start with a 45 degree angle for the body and over time slowly lower it to the floor. Although perhaps good for beginners, press ups off the knees lack enough core involvement and full body strength to transfer to full press ups effectively.

2. Speed can be a priority in a workout only when technique is strong. With a lot of our clients and athletes we don’t prioritize speed until technique is perfect. A good example is the deadlift- quick singles at around 60-70% of your maximal lift are a great tool for improving and enhancing acceleration and bar speed. With a lot of our athletes in season we tend to do either heavy or quick work. We don’t do a lot of work in your traditional rep ranges of 8-10. The reason being is that we don’t beat up too much tissue, recover quicker and therefore don’t have many sessions where we include what we call “junk reps.” This is unnecessary training volume which doesn’t guarantee us a result.

3. Fat loss is not weight loss. A basketball of fat weighs the same as a baseball of muscle. Changing your body shape is a process of what we call a “recomposition.” It’s easy to cut weight- drop your carb intake and your weight will plummet.  This will be mainly water and stored carbohydrate from the body, it is not body fat. Calorie consumption and the amount of food you consume are still the best guide for getting long term results if appropriately applied. The number of people who are on unnecessarily harsh dietary regimes is staggering as is the incompetence of the people who prescribe them. There is no one size fits all strategy but I will give you a hint- if it’s called a diet then you are probably doing it wrong!

 

 

 

 

 

From the Gym Floor… Episode 2: calories, deloads, British Titles and a thank you.

In keeping with the running theme of training anecdotes from the gym floor at Results FAST here is part 2 of an ongoing series of what we see every week while training/ working with our clients nutrition at our gym.

1. Calorific deficit does not mean starvation and constant hunger, it also doesn’t mean just eating vegetables and boiled chicken. The take home point here is that most people are confused over what a portion size is in relation to total calories consumed. I read a post by a well meaning online personal trainer who indicated that getting people to make the right choices is more important than amount. Well, guess what organic food still has calories and whatever you say calories count when it comes to fat loss or fuelling performance. In turn balance your meals (if you want 2,3,4,5 or whatever number) from a calorific standpoint and you will be successful if your average calorific intake over a period of time is lower than you need. What you eat does matter but organic peanut butter, coconut oil and avocados have a high net yield of dietary fat and can be consumed in turn with good dietary variation and sensible portion control across your weekly diet. These are not bad foods but they are high calorific yield foods so you still need to be conscious of the amounts consumed.

In turn with other nutrition sillies this week apples will not get you addicted to diet coke… yes, I know it was a stupid comment- that is more than enough shaming for you, you know who you are!

2. Deload weeks are pretty useful e.g. a reduced week of training volume after a period of high intensity to back of from training. This month with a number of our strength training clients we have been running some new loading protocols which have been quite brutal. One of last weeks programmed sessions was Back Squat 8 sets x 3 repetitions and Speed Deadlift 10 x 3 with a finisher of Walking Lunges left most of the guys craving an upper body day. This weeks back off week was well received, in-line with that we have seen some great returns from a strength perspective and even in a deload week with reduced volume some of the guys are looking strong going in to next week and a change of programme direction. As a side point- you don’t earn a deload from two sessions a week and three sessions a week is not overtraining 😉images

3. One of our clients took her second adult British Tennis title last week. I play down a lot of our successes at Results FAST but this has come from a period of good training both from a strength and conditioning perspective as well as a technical viewpoint so it deserves to be celebrated. If you see Mollie in the gym I suggest a well done/ bro fist or a celebratory salute…. and then tell her to get back to work.

internet-bro-fist

4. Bizarrely this has been the busiest month on the blog. After taking a few months off writing I did actually wonder if anyone would bother reading these posts but the readership is up massively on this time last year. I hope you are enjoying the more informal/ applied side of writing about fitness/ training/ nutrition and performance and please feel free to let us know if there are any topics you would like us to cover!