Resisting the seduction of what you want now for what you want ultimately further down the line is a massive part of achieving great success in anything you do.
Some great results here from one of my guys who has recently made his way through my exclusive 12-week online coaching program.
So how do the big box office guys do it? We see it every year. Guys with pretty average bodies carving out super hero physiques in what seems like next to no time.
There is a huge difference here. I will put my hand up and confess right off the bat that I used to be overly busy and under productive.
If you want to add inches to your arms it's time to focus on your PRESS movements.
1/ YOUR COMMUTE - Your choice of travel to and from work every day could be a great chance for you to get some calories burnt. Do you get the tube to work in London? Get off a stop early and get those steps in. Maybe you work only a couple of miles from where you live? In this case maybe cycling to and from work would be a cool way to get your daily activity up (and save some petrol money!). The other thing to consider is how stressful is your commute? If every day it's an unbearable grief then it's time to try and think around it. Being stressed for extended periods of time isn't great for you for all kinds of reasons and will make it physiologically tougher for you to lose fat.
Lets cut to the chase. It's YOU. You genuinely are the only person stopping yourself from achieving fantastic results. You're also the only person that can make it happen. Powerful position right?
Truth is many people would sooner create 100 excuses than find a single solution. What I want to get at in this post is that getting results requires you to take action. You'll have to do some stuff you're not doing currently and probably cut out/adapt some stuff you are doing.
This inevitably means you're going to have to change some habits, which often isn't easy or comfortable. But I can promise you that this is where your results are hiding.
I'm going to give you a couple of case studies from just today coaching my 121 clients:
0900am My first clients walk in the door. A Husband and wife ready to crush a leg session. Husband has been out of training for the last 6 weeks and Wife originally came to me post stomach op a couple of years back and has been working closely with me or my co-trainer ever since. Husband knows he's going to struggle to keep up with her but gives it 110% to keep the pace giving an awesome account of himself showing some real grit in his first leg session of 2017. Wife is also a Mum and juggles a hectic homelife with coming to see me x 3 a week. Coming to me originally post op with apprehension and plenty of work to she has now carved out an envied physique that 95% of women would kill for.
1000am My next guy rolls up as he does every Saturday morning with a smile on his face and ready for action. This guy's a city boy with a demanding career as well as a happy home and social life. Despite this he's managed to adapt his weekly routine in a way that he gets his 3-4 training sessions in which has seen him progress every single month. To the point we even worked towards a successful photoshoot a couple of months back to showcase his fantastic results so far.
1130am It's time for one of my newest recruits to get involved. Heading into week 3 of working together and I'm starting to see the first glimmers of progress. He has been willing to strip back the weight on a lot of movements and start from scratch to relearn techniques with superior execution than previous. He has also made conscious decisions nutritionally detailing to me how his day pans out and the new informed choices he is making rather than just opting for what is easy and convenient. I'm excited to see where he is in a few months time.
All three of those above have the same thing in common. They haven't just voiced their desire to change, they've consciously made decisions followed by positive actions and a willingness to learn and embrace feeling uncomfortable.
Research as much as you want, spend as much money as you can and take all the most cutting edge 'fat loss' supplements you can, but I promise you NOTHING will change until you start acting in a way thats conducive to change. Thoughts are great, but they don't change anything. Actions do.
For anyone who is at the start of their health and fitness journey I can completely understand if you're a little puzzled as to what direction to turn when it comes to building muscle. Just google "how to build muscle" and you'll be bombarded with over 8 million search results! So here's a couple of key things that in hindsight I wish I had got to grips with sooner when I made my start.
1/ CALORIE SURPLUS - Without this you won't build muscle. It's as simple as that. What this means is you need to be eating more calories than you are burning for a sustained period of time. It works a little like this... Imagine a house (your body right now) and it's made of a certain amount of bricks (calories). If you want to build a bigger house, you're going to need more bricks right? Very simplistic analogy but you get the picture.
2/ MUSCULAR DAMAGE - This is something you're looking to create through training. Not in the same way that you would tear a muscle and end up with an injury, we're talking about tiny micro tears within the muscle tissue. Causing these microscopic tears is one of the goals of weight training when trying to build muscle. Again, lets use the above analogy... If you're going to build your bigger house, you're going to need to chip away a few bricks and cement (muscle damage) to be able to add on more bricks (new lean muscle tissue).
3/ PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD - This is crucial for making progress in whatever the aspect of fitness and building muscle is no exception. The term progressive overload simply means progressing your training over time. This might mean adding extra weight on certain movements or maybe more total reps and sets of specific exercises. The key is to log your training so you know your numbers to then push forward on as the weeks move on.
4/ PROTEIN - Being in a calorie surplus is important but if you don't have an adequate amount of protein in your diet then it's all for a lost cause. Aiming for 2/2.5g protein per kg of bodyweight puts you in a great position. If you don't want to get lost in the maths of it, another good gauge is to include a palm sized protein source in every meal (based on three meals a day) and then supplement with a standard whey protein shake once a day too.
5/ FEEL THE BURN - If it ain't hurting it ain't working. You need to understand that the dull ache you get towards the end of an exercise, that's important! I'm not saying you need to yourself into the ground killing yourself 7 days a week, especially in the early days, but you do need to get your game face on and get comfortable being uncomfortable. It isn't a social event and it will require effort.
6/ IT TAKES TIME - Building muscle is a long steady process. There is absolutely zero chance of you waking up and seeing superman's torso after a week of bench pressing. If only it were that simple! One week you might notice your a couple of pounds up on the scales, the next month you might notice your t-shirt sleeves getting a little snug and next year you might be looking back at holiday pictures and getting some clean cut perspective of the gains you have made over the year.
Building muscle isn't easy, if it was everyone would be walking round looking enviably good! But the benefits of carrying a little extra muscle mass than the average guy or girl definitely make it worthwhile. In fact, they deserve a post all of their own, so i'll leave this one here for now!
Training legs hard and properly is a tough gig. It's arguably one of the most gruelling sessions of your training week but definitely one of the sessions that will give you most bang for your buck.
Here's 6 reasons you MUST NOT skip it...
1/ THE ULTIMATE FAT BURNER - The bigger the muscle group the better equipped it is to burn more calories. Quads, hamstrings and glutes are all massive muscles that will knock out a ton more calories than your smaller upper body muscle groups.
2/ PHYSIQUE BALANCE - We've all seen the guy that skips leg day and sits so top heavy he might just fall over if the wind gets up. Having a balanced and proportionate physique means training all body parts. This is key to looking great both in and out of clothes.
3/ INJURY PREVENTION - Anyone with major discrepancies between strength in muscle groups is risking injury. Take a deadlift for example; you might have a super strong back that can deal with a heavy load but if you have hamstrings like cheese strings something is eventually going to give.
4/ MUSCLE BUILDING HORMONES - Performing big compound movements like squats, lunges, deadlifts etc that incorporate multiple muscle groups (including a ton of lower body ones) will help amp up your anabolic hormones which won't just help you build muscle in the muscles involved in the specific movements, but it will help create a biochemical environment within the body that will aid muscle gain in all areas.
5/ ATHLETICISM - Great if you have a 200kg bench press but it means naff all when it comes to your ability to run, jump, kick, change direction etc. If you play a team sport or just generally want to move better, you're missing out big time by not putting in the work on your pins.
6/ BEDROOM FITNESS - It makes sense that if you have strong glutes and hips that this will transfer across to other areas of your life pretty well too. Enough said. On a similar note, gents I promise you that woman are looking at how well your backside fills your jeans far more than they are obsessing over how many lumps and lines you have in your stomach.
With 2016 on it's way out you might be starting to think about all the things you want to achieve in 2017. If getting into great shape is up there then the following action plan is for you:
DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT - Is it a six pack? Is it strength? Is it fat loss? Is it overall improved fitness? Whatever it is, it's essential you have definitive goals. The more specific and focused your goals are the easier it is to stay on course towards achieving them.
REVERSE ENGINEER - This is about mapping out realistic timeframes. We all want results quickly but some physical processes take longer than others (for example; pound for pound muscle gain takes longer than fatloss). It's important you gather enough knowledge on the time frame associated with your goals in order to make your goals 100 percent achievable.
OPTIMISE YOUR WORKOUTS - There are so many ways to make it to the same goal. What you need to do is come up with a way of doing so in the best way for YOU. If you have limited time, you need short efficient workouts. If you hate the gym, you need to get yourself outdoors and have plenty of variety to your exercise regime.
FUEL UP RIGHT - How you choose to fuel yourself is equally as crucial as the above and this is normally where most people are hindering their progress. You don't need a gram for gram, meal by meal plan. But what you do need is to be prepared and willing to change some big habits. Stop worrying about supplements for the moment, get your fridge filled with whole foods and start kicking that sneaky mid-afternoon chocolate bar habit.
COMMITTMENT - Understand that your motivation can waver. There will be days where you want to veer violently off plan. It's okay to feel that way because it happens to the best of us. But you need to be committed. Being committed to following the plan on those days you don't feel 100 percent motivated will be the difference between you achieving or not.
WHAT'S YOUR WHY - This point follows perfectly in line with the above. You can't stay committed if your 'WHY' isn't strong enough. In the past my clients have had holidays, weddings, photoshoots, social events as external whys. They're great for keeping you on track and focused.
But what is more important is that you have an internal why. A true reason you want to make progress. Is it a self esteem issue? Do you want your kids to grow up with the fittest, healthiest Dad they possibly can? Maybe you just want the confidence to make bolder career decisions or speak to women? Whatever your why is, that's the thing that will allow you to stay committed to a goal. Be open with yourself and whenever it gets tough, come back to your why.
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.
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.
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.
There's one thing that seems to crop up again and again with the guys I speak to who want to achieve all their health and fitness goals but aren't right now.
Have you caught yourself saying any of these recently?
"I'm going to start next week/month/year"
"I'm going to get comfortable in the gym first"
"I'm going to get Christmas out the way"
"I'm going to wait until things settle down at home"
"I'm going to wait until this project is finished"
We are all prone to putting things off and waiting for so called better timing. I used to slap myself regularly for falling into this mindset.
Truth is, there isn't a perfect time to start something awesome. You're procrastinating and waiting for a fictional situation.
Realise time is running out and it always will be, so the longer you wait the more you are leaving on the table.
Health and fitness is one of those things that there is no one stand alone, textbook way to get success, so stop waiting for a golden opportunity and take the plunge of putting one foot in front of the other.
It will be the best thing you ever do and one of the most valuable habits you'll ever learn.
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.
There are four simple things you need to remember about your dietary habits this Christmas if you are conscious of wanting to keep your health and fitness goals on track.
1/ XMAS IS ONE DAY, NOT THE WHOLE MONTH- Eat and drink what you want freely on Xmas day without being fearful of gaining 10lbs of fat overnight, it just won't happen. However, it might if you spend the whole month over eating and justifying it with the "well it's christmas" excuse.
2/ MEAL STRUCTURE- It's an easy trap to fall into; snacking your way through the day, eating chocolate morning, noon and night just because it's there. To try and offset this, be sure to keep a solid meal structure in place over the Christmas period, even just a simple breakfast-lunch-dinner format. Maintaining a solid meal structure will make you less likely to feel the need to snack and make it less likely you will spend your day chasing a sugar fix.
3/ MAINTAIN YOUR TRAINING- Dropping your training down and the inevitable upping of your calories through all the Xmas excess won't bode well for maintaining your physique. You don't even necessarily need to be in the gym every day. Perhaps change your training up by going on a few long walks with the family. A great calorie burner and you're managing to spend quality time with loved ones. Double win!
4/ RELAX- This is one of the few times in the year you can take some downtime from work and surround yourself with the people who mean most to you. Don't take this for granted. Don't stress that you feel bloated on Christmas evening. Enjoy this short period of the year and make the most of a mental recharge. Odds are you need it!