GETTING FIT IN LONDON

GETTING FIT IN LONDON

If you're reading this as someone who is based in London, but also as someone who wants to get fitter, healthier and look/feel better, I want you to realise what an awesome place you're in to make this happen.

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3 DAILY DECISIONS AT WORK THAT ARE MAKING YOU FAT

3 DAILY DECISIONS AT WORK THAT ARE MAKING YOU FAT

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.

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WHY ABS AREN'T MADE IN THE KITCHEN

Whilst what goes on in the kitchen does have a big impact on what state your mid section is in, it's not truly where you're abs are built.

Your abs are like any other muscle group in the sense they can contract and stretch, they can get DOMS and they can become stronger/grow.

Assuming you have average genetics, the key thing where carving out a sixpack is concerned is two things:

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1. YOU NEED LOW ENOUGH BODY FAT - This is only to happen by burning more calories than you take in, to then get into a position where your body can utilise some of that excess belly fat as fuel. 

2. YOU NEED TO BUILD A STRONG MID SECTION - If you want a well defined sixpack your abdominal wall and deeper abdominal muscles need to be strong and conditioned. Crunches and sit ups aren't the answer. Again, like many good answers to common gym questions, the answer is to get stronger and progress on your big compound lifts that heavily tax your core strength and stability. Deadlift and squat variations are fantastic for this. 

So yes, the kitchen does have a huge impact on you showing off a lean torso, but you can't show off well what hasn't been built well.

THE BIGGEST THING HOLDING YOU BACK FROM TRANSFORMING YOUR BODY

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. 

6 THINGS I WISH I KNEW WHEN I STARTED TRYING TO GAIN MUSCLE

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!

WHAT IS ONLINE COACHING AND IS IT FOR ME?

Online health and fitness coaching has surged over this past few years. The development of relevant apps, software and communication technology had made online coaching a legitimate service than can help you along your health and fitness journey. That being said, it doesn't come without it's drawbacks too.

WHAT IS IT?

Well this can vary. There are many different models of online coaching out there but generally ranging from the low budget model which will involve equally low input from the coach. My honest advice is to avoid the cheapest services out there. You won't get any individualisation or contact time with your coach as the business model involves bringing in a high number of clients to make any kind of profit. You are for the most part treated as just a number.

Move across to the other end of the spectrum where you will have to part with a more chunky investment and you should find yourself in the hands of a coach that truly customises your training, nutrition and lifestyle plan to help you obtain the results you want. This means bespoke training, a nutrition plan that is tailored to you (this could be macronutrient based or more meal specific) and the guidance you need to help address the 23 hours outside of the gym, not just the 1 in it. They should also hold you accountable and regularly evaluate progress, whether that be email check ins, weekly calls, weigh ins, photo updates etc. 

WHO IS IT FOR?

Online coaching works best for those with a good basic understanding of training who aren't fearful of walking into a gym environment. Those with little to no experience of training should seek a 121 Trainer first ideally. As an online client it's up to you to shoulder a lot of responsibility, you need to make sure the workouts get done and you must be honest with the Coach. They cannot pick the weights up or eat the food for you. If you find it tough to fit allocated slots with a 121 Trainer into your hectic schedule then Online Coaching might be great for you. You get all the structure of working 121 but get to train when it fits in best for you. 

HOW I DO IT?

My online approach has evolved over time and still does much like my approach with each of my 121 clients. Some of the common components my online coaching involve are:

- Access to the Brisbournefit app where you can access and log your specific workouts.

- Weekly check ins evaluating the week previous and pre-empting the hurdles in week coming up.

- Initial diet diary assessment and relevant guidance moving forward (Myfitnesspal set up/meal plan templates etc).

- Detailed check in calls/Skypes/Facetimes varying from weekly to monthly.

- A number of 121 sessions if geographically viable (e.g. day one, half way point, completion date).

- 1/2 day workshops where I set aside time to go through specific, relevant content as well as spending some extra time getting to know one another.

- Nutritional sensitivity testing via blood draw.

- Basic supplemental set up.

- Hormonal assessment and custom supplemental protocol following this.

- Email/Whatsapp support as required within guide times.

If you're considering hiring the services of an Online Coach, do your research first. Run a google search, read some reviews, even speak to some of their current/previous clients if possible to get some insight first hand into what it's like to work with them. The fitness industry comes in all shapes and sizes and finding not just a coach who is knowledgable, but a coach that you get on well with and respect is massively important. Use the beer test. If you can imagine going out for a beer with them, chances are you will work well together. Well maybe, not a beer, but you catch my drift!

 

WHY THE GYM WON'T TRANSFORM YOUR BODY

The gym is a fantastic tool to help get you to your goal physique but I can promise you that a gym membership alone isn't going to see you very far into your transformation.

Firstly, you need some TRAINING KNOWLEDGE on what you actually need to implement into your daily regime to make your body change. You need to learn how to train in a way that's specific to your goals and know how and when to progress your training. Whether you outsource this to a Personal Trainer or read up and learn enough yourself, you can't just rely on turning up to the gym and hoping the rest looks after itself.

The next big key is NUTRITION. This really is where most people come unstuck, especially where fatloss is concerned. Your gym might have the most expensive state of the art equipment going and you could be in there 7 days a week slogging your guts out but if your calorie balance is out of whack (you're taking in more than you're burning) your body fat is going nowhere. Understanding nutrition and your specific nutritional needs doesn't need to be overly complicated. You don't need to understand everything, you just need to understand enough.

Lastly and probably most crucially is your MINDSET. Being dedicated enough to turn up to the gym is awesome, but where that dedication comes from is what's important. If it's simply a messy Ibiza weekend in a few weeks, chances are your physique isn't going to budge much, and definitely not long term. Everyone has their own motives and I'm not here to tell you what is right or wrong in that sense, but what I will say is those who have a deep rooted, internal motivators in my experience are the ones who bring about the greatest physical changes that only improve more and more as time goes on. Maybe you want to be more confident in social situations, perhaps you want to be the best role model you can for the sake of your kids or maybe your lack of physical health is harming your business? 

There are so many more important aspects than just the three I have highlighted, but I guarantee if you get your head around just those you will drastically improve your chances of finally gaining the physique you want.

FINDING YOUR IDEAL PERSONAL TRAINER

With more trainers providing services than ever before it can be a minefield when it comes to sourcing a top quality Trainer that's best suited to your needs as a client.

If you're currently looking for someone to get you on track to turbo charge your health and fitness results, ask yourself these questions:

1/ ARE THEY CERTIFIED (AND INSURED)? - The fitness industry isn't regulated all that well when it comes to this so be vigilant and do your research. You're potentially going to trust this person with large components of your health and if they aren't legitimately qualified to handle this responsibility you could be in for big problems.

2/ DO THEY SPECIALISE? - You wouldn't go to the GP to fix your teeth and it's the same principle with getting the best services for your fitness endeavours. You want to lose fat and gain muscle? You need a body composition expert. You want to build the muscle back up in the leg you broke playing football? You could do with seeing a sports performance and rehab specialist. You want to step on a bodybuilding stage? A prep coach with a track record of successful competitors is going to be your best bet.

3/ HAVE YOU WATCHED THEM OPERATE? - If you're considering starting with a trainer, if its possible to do so, watch them train other clients. Do they look interested? Do their clients look like they're 1. working hard and 2. enjoying what they're doing? OR... Does the trainer lazy appear bored? Easily distracted? On their phone? Generally just uninterested? Finding someone who is present and passionate about what they do should be right near the top of your wish list.

4/ DO THEY WALK THE WALK? - This is a controversial one. I'm not saying they should look like a Men's Health cover 365 days a year BUT they should look healthy, they shouldn't be turning up to Sunday morning sessions hungover. They should enjoy what they do and enjoy living a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

5/ DO THEY TRACK PROGRESS? - Physical results, performance tests, dietary analysis, session briefs, weekly check ins... There's tons of things your trainer should be monitoring. Without doing so you're flitting from one session to another, not really sure of the progress you're making. Having some solid data and numbers will help keep you accountable, motivated and keep track of what does or doesn't work for you in regards to working towards your goals.

6/ ARE THEY CHEAP? - We all love getting value, but when it comes to a personal health related service it's important you value yourself high enough to invest in yourself without necessarily shopping purely on price. 

7/ ARE THEY A TEACHER OR DRILL SERGEANT? - A great trainer won't just tell you what to do, they will tell you how and why. Their goal is to give you the tools to at some point down the line walk away from them with the knowledge they need to carry on their progress without you needing to put money in their pocket. As a client you should feel your knowledge is always growing and not just your biceps.

HEALTH AND FITNESS HOTSPOTS YOU NEED TO VISIT! (ESSEX)

With London setting the standard with it's huge influx of health and fitness based facilities over the past few years, the surrounding counties are starting to catch up. The following are a few of my top picks you should make an effort to visit if you're Essex based like myself.

1/ ABSALUTE GYM - Over the past 5/6 years the guys at Absalute have built an empire of the best equipped gyms in the county. With gyms in Brentwood, Romford, Thurrock and Chelmsford, Absalute has managed to strike just the right balance of 'spit and sawdust' with extensive high grade equipment. Not only that, all four gyms have multiple personal trainers who work independently in their own specialist disciplines, which means you'll never be far from a helping hand if you need it in any area of fitness. If you want to take your training to the next level and surround yourself with other people hungry for results, these gyms are where you need to be.

Find out more about all four gyms at absalutegym.co.uk

2/ HEALTHY ROOTS - This is exactly what every high street needs. An eatery that prides itself on providing quality, tasty food with both eat in or take out dining options. A varied menu comprised of the best quality ingredients makes this place a 'must visit' if you're passing through. Based in Upminster, Healthy Roots is the only place of it's kind in the local vicinity, although given their massive popularity I'm sure we'll see other start ups come in to try to replicate. 

Check out Healthy Roots at facebook.com/healhtyrootslondon

3/ ESSEX BOOTCAMP - If the gym isn't for you or you simply prefer to get yourself outdoors and you want to get fitter, stronger and leaner you need to check these guys out. With thousands of members enjoying their bootcamp based training every week from over 20 locations, the Essex Bootcamp movement has grown through a combination of effective but fun and engaging sessions paired with an awesome sense of team spirit. The trainers love what they do and care about every member's personal fitness journey. 

Visit essexbootcamp.co.uk to sign up for your free 7-day trial.

 

 

YOUR BEST FRIDAY NIGHT TAKEAWAY OPTIONS!

I love the odd takeaway as much as the next man and so do my clients. So rather than eradicate them from your diet, wouldn't you prefer to make better guilt free choices that didn't derail your whole week of progress? Here's the good, bad and ugly of the takeaway world:

1/ FISH AND CHIPS - Simple but satisfying, a traditional fish and chips typically weighs in at between 1000-1500 calories (and that's without the tommy k). It's pretty obvious where the bulk of the calories are coming from - the frying/battering process. Keep the fish in though and steer clear from the processed battered sausage/pie options. A large portion of chips can also be as much as 800 calories, so reign in the portion size here.

2/ MCDONALDS - Loads of options here. Lets look at a typical meal choice (my exact one as a kid actually); a Big Mac Meal with large chips and a large chocolate milk shake stacks up at just short of 1500 calories. If you want to practically halve those calories, get yourself a grilled chicken and bacon salad and you can even throw in a large chicken selects for good measure.

3/ DOMINOES - This is one of the big hitters. A large mighty meat will set you back 2000 calories and a massive 90g of fat! When you add in your sauces and garlic bread you're getting up to the 2500 mark. Trade that in for a large Italian crust hot and spicy to save yourself more than 700 calories. 

4/ CHINESE - Chinese food can be an absolute minefield. From deep fat frying to crazy amounts of salt to very poor quality processed meat, it's easy to get lost here. However, I find most people's issue here is portion control. We tend to pick at a little bit of everything here, which amounts to a lot of food! Pick whatever you like but stick to just a main meal and one side then call it a day. 

7 REASONS YOU'RE NOT BUILDING MUSCLE

1/ ARE YOUR REST PERIODS TIMED? - Speaking generally, anything more than 90 seconds rest isn't doing you any favours for building muscle.

2/ DO YOU HAVE A PLAN? - If you go into the session without a plan, odds are you'll lean towards the exercises you want to do but chances are there's a lot of gains being left on the table in the stuff you don't like doing! 

3/ ARE YOU PROGRESSING? - Aiming to improve your numbers week in week out is vital to laying down new muscle tissue. Be it more reps, more weight, more sets.. there must be a step up in stimulus. We've all seen the guy that trains the same way with the same routine, week in week out. Cool if he's maintaining where he's at, not if he wants to keep progressing.

4/ DO YOU FEEL LIKE AN IPHONE BATTERY? - You want to be coming into the session fully charged but training at an intensity that cuts into your battery pretty damn quick. Don't turn power save mode on when it starts getting tough and pussy out of reps. Don't take extra rest unnecessarily. You should be finishing the session well and truly in the red.

5/ HAVE YOU GOT SOMEONE IN YOUR CORNER? - Be it a coach or a training partner, that person will be the difference in getting the extra 10% out of you. For myself I have just started getting put through my paces by another trainer once a week and train with a partner on average twice a week. It will also allow you to utilise advanced training techniques like negatives, forced reps etc. 

6/ CHILL OUT WITH THE FRILLY STUFF - Mobility, warming up, intra-set stretching.. All cool but don't let it take over your session. Yes it should be involved where required but if you spend 5 minutes or 50 minutes on a foam roller, it's not making the world of difference to slapping on another 10lb of muscle. 

7/ FOCUS - If you are to attack a session with some serious intensity your focus needs to be on point. Use your phone strictly for timing, music or following a program. Leave the 9 that's squatting alone, if she wants a spot she'll ask. Try to train outside of peak hours, you're far less likely to get caught in convo and have your rhythm disrupted

6 REASONS NOT TO SKIP LEG DAY

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.

REST DAYS AND DOING THEM RIGHT

For anyone wanting to get the most from their workouts, resting and recovering is as important as training itself. A few key points...

YOU NEED THEM: If you train intensely day in and day out, not only will your body not thank you for it, but you'll likely become disinterested at the monotony of the weights room. Having a few days away from the gym will do wonders for your physical recovery and motivation.

ADJUSTING YOUR DIET: My personal preference is to drop carbohydrates down slightly on rest days and replace those calories with healthy fats instead. You won't need the influx of carbohydrates given your reduced activity and the healthy fats have fantastic anti inflammatory properties which will further aid your recovery. So out with the potatoes and rice, in with the steak, salmon and nuts.

ACTIVE RECOVERY: If like me you struggle to take your down time, think about using your rest days as days you can get involved in other activities that will benefit your training goals. Yoga, pilates or just doing your own mobility and stretching work are all great options.

WHEN TO TAKE A REST DAY: If you feel your workout intensity lagging after several days straight training; maybe your strength is down or you are struggling to concentrate on your workout, it could be worth thinking about taking a rest day. Another common scenario you should put your feet up is if you are going to be going out to consume alcohol (in relatively large/free amounts) later that night. Being hungover and trying to recover from a workout is pretty tough on the body and both processes of recovery will slow down when combined!

REAL FOOD. SWEAT. DISCIPLINE.

These are the three absolute essentials you need to be successful in your health and fitness endeavours this year.

Not a juice cleanse.

Not a perfectly periodised training program.

Not magic supplements.

Not a most swanky gym.

Focus on eating more real food. Focus on getting a proper sweat on at least 3 times a week. Focus on being disciplined enough to carry on committment to achieving your goal, even after the initial motivation to do it has passed you by.

Set your foundations here and build from there.

THE 21ST CENTURY STRUGGLE: WHY PEOPLE CANT GET IN SHAPE

Right now we live in a forever changing world that seems to be picking up pace by the day. Pretty exciting for all kinds of reasons. But there's a problem. It's probably the biggest problem I come across in what I do.

The world we live in is becoming more instant, materialistic, monetised, digital and technological all the time.

So why is this a problem for getting in shape?

We as people have become so damn conditioned to thinking every problem we have can be solved with a click, app, swipe or google search that we struggle to comprehend when a problem can't be solved this way.

What about if we just throw a lot of money at it? That's got to solve it right?

Nope. Money can't do it for you either.

When it comes to improving your health and fitness you have to get your hands dirty and work hard at it over time. There is no secret hack. No magic pills. No shortcuts.

Yeh you can work smart and be as clever as you like about your training program, diet etc. In fact I urge you to do just that. But this isn't and never will be an alternative to hard, sweaty, tiresome work and some conscious habit changes.

So no more looking for an easy way out. If being the best version of you in a health and fitness sense is something you truly want, get to work you will reap the rewards.

THE THREE BIGGEST REASONS YOU DON'T HAVE ABS RIGHT NOW

1. YOU HAVEN'T BUILT THEM- Like any other muscle abdominal muscles can be built to be bigger and stronger. A low body fat percentage isn't always enough if you are lacking abdominal muscle structure. Strengthen this muscle group by hitting the big compounds consistently (deadlift, bench, military press, squat, pull ups etc). 

2. YOU EAT TOO MANY CARBS- If you are constantly fuelling up with carbs, your body has zero reason to get savvy at using fat as a fuel source. Only when carbs are low enough will your body begin to tap into that stubborn stomach fat. Consider lowering your carbohydrate intake and bumping up protein consumption.

3. WEEKDAY WARRIOR, WEEKEND WASTER- You keep structure and discipline during the week with protein rich breakfasts and regimented workouts but you take your foot completely off the gas on weekends. You're over consuming alcohol, not bothering with training and making poor nutritional choices. This yoyo of a week means progress is never made. I always want my guys to be able to ease up on the weekend, perhaps go for a drink or a nice meal out BUT there is a difference between 'easing up' and going full on self destruct!

 

YOUR GUIDE TO MAKING 2017 THE YEAR YOU ACHIEVE YOUR BEST SHAPE EVER

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.

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.