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.
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:
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.
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!
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!
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.