Health

ARE YOU STRUGGLING TO BULK UP?

Something a lot of us guys want when it comes to physique goals is to fill out our tshirts with a thick chest, round shoulders and dense arms that hug our sleeves. Classic superheroesque kinda torso. Whilst some guys can be more genetically predisposed to slapping on muscle tissue quicker, many struggle adding that extra size. Typically known in the industry as  hard gainers! Is this you? If so, read on for my five commandments to bring even the skinniest of you the best results possible...

1/ DECIDE WHAT BODY COMPOSITION YOU WANT - If you just want size, size and more size and body fat isn't really something you're bothered about (within reason) then congratulations you can get bigger, quicker. On the other hand if you want to keep body fat gain to a minimum, then you're going to have to play the longer more gradual game of making 'lean gains'. Although this longer more steady process requires more patience, in my eyes it is the superior approach. It's better news for you hormonally (the fatter you get the worse your hormonal profile will become). It's also going to reduce the chance of you developing any physiological and psychological food issues from over eating/bingeing on junk, which is typically what happens when people go on a no holes barred, aggressive bulk. 

2/ GET STRONGER - Getting stronger on all your big compound lifts (squat, bench press, deadlift, lunge, pull up etc) is going to help massively when it comes to laying down new muscle tissue. The process of getting stronger requires you to get better at essentially 'turning on' muscle fibres and the better you get at this, the better you can break them down to allow them to adapt and grow back bigger and thicker.

3/ BE PROGRESSIVE - Don't keep doing the same workouts with the same weight, exercises, sets, reps etc and expect drastic change. Your body responds to changes of stimulus so be sure to track your training shooting for progression week in week out. Try to change up your program every 4-6 weeks as a general rule.

4/ CALORIE DENSE FOODS - If you struggle to get in enough calories because of a modest appetite 1. I'm very jealous of you! (closet fat boy) and 2. You need to be wise with your food choices opting for foods that contain a lot of calories without being too much of a chore to get down your neck. Snack on nuts/nut butters, use a little oil in your cooking and incorporate fruit juice and full fat milk into your diet if you're looking for some easy calories. Making your own mass building shake is a great idea in between meals. 1/2 pint full fat milk, 1/2 pint coconut milk, 2 tbsp peanut butter, 40g whey, 1 banana, 50g oats. Blend. Done. 

5/ ARE YOU WORKING AS HARD AS YOU THINK? - Adding muscle takes intensity. I drone on about this all the time, but if you aren't training hard enough, you simply will not build muscle. Period. A great training partner or a well equipped personal trainer should take your training to the next level. Having someone else there allows you to really get stuck in and leave nothing on the table. You can start throwing in techniques like negatives, forced reps and AMRAP sets much more effectively when your right hand man is there to make sure you don't squash/decapitate yourself.  

Address those five points, be patient, and you will grow!

GET LEAN. THE QUICK WAY.

High intensity interval training (HIIT) is probably one of the trendiest, quickest ways to legitimately burn fat right now; but what's the best way to do it?

Here's 6 of my personal favourites that will help you torch calories and aid in your fatloss journey:

1/ Incline Treadmill Sprints- Old school and brutal. A nice simple structure of 20 seconds sprinting, 40 seconds rest for 10-15 rounds is a great place to start. To intensify it either fire the incline up steeper, sprint for longer, reduce the rest periods, increase the speed, or increase overall rounds.

2/ Spin bike Intervals- Another nasty one. You can adopt the same approach as above with structure and timings but rather than stop on the rest period it's a much better idea to keep yourlegs spinning . Bump up the resistance on the bike when sprinting and drop it right down when you are ticking over between intervals.

3/ Pad/bag work- Love this one for anyone wanting to unleash some aggression. Pads are a great way to go providing you're working with someone trained to use them; if you're on your own then the bag is the way to go. In this format you can afford to go slightly longer on the work phase as you won't be going 100% 'balls to the wall' intensity like the two instances above.

4/ Tyre flips- These are fantastic for utilising your body as a whole. Every muscle has to work to get that tyre up and over so it won't take long before you start to feel beat. Ensure you are strict on your technique and maintain a neutral back position much like you would squatting or deadlifting. Get this wrong and injury will be waiting for you.

5/ Water sprints- Get in the pool up to waist height and go mad on 20-30m sprints Great for anyone looking to minimise impact on their joints. Not one many people are conditioned for so don't be surprised when these wipe the floor with you.

6/ Home workouts- There's loads of stuff out there on this kind of thing. Great for anyone who wants a quick blast in the comfort of their own home. Joe Wicks (The Body Coach) has put a lot of good stuff out their using these kinds of movements. Think burpees, mountain climbers, star jumps, press ups.

Don't stick to any of the above for too long, your body will adapt and get efficient quickly and being inefficient will burn more calories thus helping you to become leaner!

5 TIPS TO BUILD LEAN MUSCLE

Make no mistake about it, putting on muscle is tough. So if you want to make it happen be sure to address the fundamentals. Here's 5 aspects of muscle gain many people fail to maximise before becoming frustrated and giving up on the process.

1/ SLEEP- This is the one chance in the day your body gets chance to turbo charge all the cogs that allow you to recover and crucially grow; including growth of muscle tissue. Quality over quantity is important here. 6 quality hours is far superior to 8 broken ones. I love using a ZMA supplement to improve my sleep quality.

2/ INTENSITY- If you are to grow muscle tissue, you must break it down via intense resistance based exercise, there is no way around this. Ensure you time your rest periods. I use a standard casio for what are normally 60-90 second rest periods. Avoid using your iphone; far too many distractions!

3/ PROTEIN- You can't build a house without bricks and it's much the same when it comes to building muscle without protein. Aim to include protein in every meal of the day, in various forms to provide plenty of bricks to build the physique you want. Think chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, eggs, tofu, greek yoghurt or whey protein powder.

4/ PROGRESSION- Track your sessions to enable you to look back at previous weeks to identify progress. If you've hit the same chest session 4 weeks in a row without any progression (increase in weight, reps, shorter rest periods etc.) it's unlikely you'll see/feel much change in that area.

5/ MINDSET- As referred to above, building muscle requires intensity. For you to create the kind of intensity that brings you the best results, you need to enter the right mindset when you take on each session. Learning how to tune in your focus and ignore all distractions will only improve this. Take 5 minutes before every session to zone in and get your head straight. Whether it's 5 minutes on the treadmill with music of your choice or a few minutes of foam rolling or stretching, do what you need to do to get your head in the game and your training sessions will step up a level.

 

YOUR NEW YEAR TRANSFORMATION: WHAT DOES IT TAKE?

With Christmas and 2017 in touching distance now, you might be toying with the idea of starting your own fitness regime from January. You want rid of the fat round your mid section and to slap on a little lean muscle. Cool and perfectly achievable for you. 

But what does it actually take? What separates those that want it to happen from those who make it happen?

1/ A TIME FRAME- This helps create sense of urgency. Time is always going to tick away so a goal date or several within a year will really help you keep focused, motivated and also give you gauges of progress.

2/ A PLAN- Trying to transform your body without some form of plan is like driving a car blind folded. There's a possibility you'll get where you need to go, but there's a far bigger possibility you won't and you'll crash and burn. Whether you invest in a specialist or follow a more generic magazine cutout plan, you need a plan!

3/ TRY YOUR BEST AND BE PREPARED FOR THE WORST- It's easy to feel unstoppable and give it your all on the good days but how you react to the bad days; the days you're ill, tired, stressed or feeling overwhelmed, these are the days that will make or break you. 

4/ A SUPPORTIVE NETWORK- This is so important. You can go a long way alone, but with a strong supportive network you'll go far further. Do your best to get your other half on board, maybe they'll want to make their own improvements along side you? Remember, you're a product of the five people you spend most time around so choose wisely.

5/ BE A PROBLEM SOLVER- You need to understand that although you might want to moan and whine from time to time, this does absolutely nothing for taking you closer to your goals. Don't waste valuable time complaining or avoiding issues, face them and solve them. 

6/ SEEK ADVICE WHERE APPROPRIATE- There are so many platforms in this day and age for you to seek any advice you need. BUT with that said, there's also a ton of places to pick up some pretty naff advice too. So source the right people with the right information to soak up knowledge from when needed.

7/ DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF- Similar to the problem solver point above; there is always going to be things that don't go according to plan but that's fine, life tends to work that way! Learn to prioritise; getting in your training sessions consistently is more important than if your apples are organic or not.

8/ A REAL MOTIVE- Probably the most crucial of all. If your motive isn't so strong that you'll often wake up thinking about it and go to bed to dream about it then i question whether your 'why' is strong enough. Having a deep rooted motive will push you on when you are within a whisker of giving up and set you up for massive success.

5 DIET HACKS TO REDUCE YOUR CALORIES OVER XMAS

1/ FLUID INTAKE- Your body often confuses hunger and dehydration signals. Put down the mulled wine and down a pint of water before every meal and you'll feel fuller far sooner.

2/ EAT AT THE TABLE- Doing this gives your brain the best chance to process the fact you're eating and a stronger indication of when you are actually full. It's not Christmas food that makes people pile on the pounds, it's the excess of it. 

3/ VEG AND MEAT- Load up on both of these, there's plenty of this stuff around at Xmas so you have no excuses. Both the protein in the meat and the fibre in the veg will be great for filling you up for longer by keeping your blood sugar/energy levels consistent.

4/ DONT SKIP BREAKFAST- I know your logic; miss breakfast to make up for the big lunch you might be having, but it just doesn't work out in reality for most. Keep a small but solid breakfast as part of your routine over the holidays to reduce the chance of cravings and the consequent over eating.

5/ ALCOHOLIC SHORTCUTS- Most of us will have a drink or two over Xmas and thats cool, but make wise choices by substituting sugary mixer drinks (coke, lemonade etc.) for zero calorie variations. You won't tell the difference, and you'll save a ton of calories. 

 

DO THIS TO GAIN MORE TIME..

We've all said it at one point or another:

"There's not enough hours in the day"

So what if I told you that you could claw back a vital hour every single day, whether you use that as downtime or an extra hour making things happen work wise... whatever you choose to do with that extra hour I'm sure you would love to have it!

Well it's actually easier than you might think. Here's what you need to do:

1/ EMAILS (25 minutes saved)- Be strict on this and check/reply first thing when you get in the office or start work for the day, once just before lunch and once at the end of your working day. So thats three times total. Not hourly, not first thing in the morning with one eye open as you fall out of bed. Three times. You will be amazed how often you have to stop yourself refreshing your inbox when you first start paying attention to this. 

2/ FOOD PREP (30 minutes saved)- You have two choices here. Either the DIY version of preparing and taking your lunch with you to work or you can go the extra mile and invest in a food prep company. There has been a surge in these kind of businesses starting up the last couple of years and they will save a bag full of time and stress associated with making healthy food choices. Drop me a DM if you would like a personal recommendation from me.

3/ HOUSEHOLD CHORES (30 minutes saved)- Similar to my point above, pull back a big chunk of time by outsourcing other daily household chores. Employ a cleaner once/twice a week if needed, maybe someone to take care of your laundry etc too. It might sound excessive but would you pay £/$10-15 per hour to pull back your precious time?

4/ HIRE A TRAINER (30 minutes saved)- Having a trainer put you through your paces will stop you dawdling between exercises and taking 5 minute rest periods between sets as you check your Insta feed. It's now common place for trainers, especially the guys based in Central London, to run short and sharp but highly intense 30-40 minute sessions that could slot perfectly into your lunch break. 

4/ THE WEEKLY SHOP (60-90 minutes saved)- If you're not on the online food shop band waggon you could save yourself bags of time by hopping on. Not only doing your food shop online, but schedule a regular order rather than trawling through pages of options every week. You're pretty much setting up a standing order on your food! So much more efficient than fighting your way through the supermarket multiple times a week.

OPTIMISING YOUR TESTOSTERONE

Testosterone is a big player in the hormone world when it comes to all kinds of human functions. If you suffer from low testosterone you could be missing out on:

Building lean muscle mass.

Shedding stubborn fat..

Elevating your confidence..

Turbo charging your energy..

Maximising your sex drive..

The list goes on.

I work with my guys on improving their testosterone production by addressing their training, nutrition and general lifestyle layout. We get baseline measures taken and build a plan to then re-test in 10-12 weeks time. 

Over the next few days i'll put together a brief highlighting some of the typical but key changes I look to make with clients to get testosterone booming. Stay tuned.