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I recently ran a poll on Instagram asking people for the top 3 reasons they train. I got some interesting answers and decided to turn in to this blog post.. here we go!
Famous psychotherapist Sigmund Freud believed that most of the things we do are ultimately motivated by sex.
According to Freud, the desire to look attractive, make money, be successful, attain status – we desire these things because we want to attract a mate and reproduce. I have to agree with him… this is one of the main reasons we train!
I once asked a new client why he wanted to start training with me. He told me that due to his weight gain, he hadn’t been with a woman for 2-3 years. No girlfriend, nothing.
To this man, his weight ruined his confidence so much he didn’t even try to get to know a woman, let alone get intimate with one. He completely stopped taking care of his appearance.
This is an extreme case, but it is very common in men, just in more subtle ways. Some guys are afraid to take their shirts off around the opposite sex because of ‘man-boobs’. Some guys stay fully dressed on the beach because they are embarrassed of their physique.
For the most part, these issues are SOLVABLE. If something can be done about it, something should be done about it.
The above situations also hold true for women. I’ve had female clients whose motivation to train was because they wanted to find a partner.
Looks are definitely not everything, but you need to look like you care about yourself. This will make everything that much easier. You don’t have to be a ripped model or hench athlete. Just be in shape. Have a little muscle definition. Have good posture. Fit well in your clothes. Don’t have a gut spilling out of your t-shirt.
Women judge men they don’t know firstly by their appearance. They will disqualify you if you don’t meet some sort of acceptable standard. So why let yourself get DQ’d before they even get to see your personality? The same is true in the reverse situation too.
I don’t care if anyone thinks this is shallow, sexist or whatever the nonsense PC term being bandied around these days is.. you can’t argue with human nature.
The biggest mistake I see men make is to only train their upper body and eat like a pig in an effort to ‘bulk’. They just end up fat with a belly instead. Having a belly is a sign of poor health and is not attractive to the opposite sex.
My advice for men is to at least make sure you don’t have a gut. Train more than just your chest. Train your upper back, glutes, hamstrings and posterior chain just as much as you train your chest, abs, and quads. Otherwise you will look imbalanced and your posture will suck.
Strength was another one high on the list. Strength gives you a sense of confidence that transfers to other areas of your life.
It also helps in real life situations – having to defend yourself in an altercation, having to lift furniture, having to carry stuff for long distances.
Strength is built in the 3-6 rep range, so choose a few big lifts and just get stronger at them over time. Deadlift, squat, and bench press are good places to start, as well as a farmers carry.
Nothing like knowing you can choke someone to death in a self defense situation after all x.
Lots of people described the gym as a fun hobby. The gym is an escape from the humdrum routine of work. You improve your body, improve your health, and even meet new people at the gym.
It’s actually very exciting when you start a new programme or try a new exercise because you start imagining the positive improvements that are going to come from it.
Not everybody sees the gym as fun though – some people are results driven and only care about the outcome (these people usually do 5×5 for their whole lives!).
Some people need more variety to keep their training interesting (I am definitely in this camp).
Try to introduce a new movement every 4 weeks or so – this is enough time for your body to adapt and improve in response to a certain exercise while still giving your muscles and nervous system a chance to practice and respond to the exercise.
The effects of resistance training on sporting performance are very well documented.
Weight training makes you faster, more powerful, and most importantly in my opinion, far more resistant to injury. Everybody who plays a sport should follow a structured weight training programme – not only will you be more durable and capable of training your sport harder, but it will probably improve your performance too.
Athletes should try to do more movement based training (i.e. bodyweight movements like lunges etc), incorporate different directions in their training, as well as include a variety of rep ranges for strength, hypertrophy, and muscular endurance.
This was another one that came up often. The gym can provides a sense of structure to your life. You know that on Monday you are training upper body, on Tuesday you’re doing legs etc. Habits and routines like exercise are very important as they spill over into other areas of your life.
When people start habitually exercising, even as infrequently as once a week, they start changing other, unrelated patterns in their lives, often unknowingly. Typically, people who exercise start eating better and becoming more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed. It’s not completely clear why. But for many people, exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change. “Exercise spills over,” said James Prochaska, a University of Rhode Island researcher. “There’s something about it that makes other good habits easier.”
Follow a STRUCTURED training programme. If you don’t know what to do, get a coach to write you one (hit me up for online training and I will write you a brilliant plan!).
This was a surprisingly common answer.
Working in pharmacy for a long time, the amount of people I saw on antidepressants was truly shocking. Often times, these people were also very out of shape and had many other health conditions along with the depression. Maybe exercise and a better diet would have helped? Instead, the doctors simply prescribed them pills.
The pharmaceutical companies and medical industry are quick to push antidepressants on people as soon as they feel a little bit down, instead of exploring the root causes and other more natural methods of alleviating the problem. Resistance training is the wonder drug, not fluoxetine.
I am definitely prone to depression. After a few days without training I start to feel moody and low, and this is when I must do something physical. Our bodies were made to move. Our brains respond to movement by producing feel good neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.
Exercise is God’s medicine. So many diseases that afflict us in the West are caused by a sedentary lifestyle.
I know guys my age (31) with high blood pressure and lifestyle-related diabetes. That is not normal. Of course, sometimes genetic factors are responsible, but the numbers don’t lie – diabetes is on the rise in young people.
You don’t even need a gym membership to train – bodyweight works too. You can look more attractive, feel more energetic, and have better health just by dedicating half an hour to physical movement every day. That is a beautiful thing!
I’d much rather suffer the ‘inconvenience’ of having to train every day than to take pills and injections for the rest of my my life. Some of those pills cause side effects that require other pills to manage them, and it becomes a complete cluster-fuck of medicines, side effects, and doctors visits. So use what God and nature gave you. I feel more like a hippy every day when I say this, but it’s so true.
Ok, that about does it.. don’t forget to sign up for my free ebook ‘Staying Lean At 30‘, specifically aimed at men 30 and above.. get it here! Hit me up with any comments you have.
Ok, so anybody who trains with me knows I’m a big fan of being efficient in workouts. My in-person and online clients all love the fact that they can get in and out of the gym so quickly.
It’s how I train too, as I don’t like spending more than an hour in the gym. I love shorter, more intense workouts where I leave with a great pump.
Here I’m going to outline 3 ways to make your workout more efficient.
Yes, this one is not related to working out itself.
We all love music. Especially music that gets us pumped up and ready for the workout.
Whether it’s Nas, DMX, old school grime, or even dance music, music undoubtedly has a huge impact on our motivation and performance in the gym. Research has proven that.
(It’s unfortunate that the gym I currently train out of has some of the worst music known to man).
But in this busy world where we are all trying to get ahead, what about if we could improve other areas of our lives while we’re at the gym? What if, instead of listening to music, we listen to an audiobook or podcast instead?
While you’re at the gym building muscle and getting fitter, you can also be listening to a self-improvement podcast, an ebook about business, or even learning a new language. (I used to do this with Spanish. I would listen to Pimsleur while I worked out).
I haven’t worn headphones to the gym in a long time, but I’ve recently made a commitment to start listening to podcasts and ebooks again while I’m training. I first got this idea from a fantastic audiobook called ‘Life Leverage’ by Rob Moore.
Ever since listening to it, it completely changed my attitude about efficiency in the modern world.
Put on some good noise-cancelling headphones and download your favourite audiobook.
Warming up is boringggg. Trust me, I know, but it’s a necessary evil.
If you want to expedite the process, you can shorten the initial warm-up and do your mobility work in between sets of actual lifting.
For example, let’s say I’m doing a barbell squat that day.
I might do a quick pulse raiser including exercises like star jumps, bodyweight squats, inchworms, and one or two other mobility drills.
From there, I’ll move to the squat rack and begin warming up with the bar. After a couple of sets with light weight on the bar, I might feel that my hips are still a little tight.
So I may do another hip mobility drill such as a shinbox with extension, which is brilliant for hip internal and external rotation, the hip flexors, and also the glutes.
You can do this in between warm-up sets of the squat as much as you need to. Just make sure you’re not tiring yourself out for the actual lift. Keep these mobility drills low reps.
Don’t hold static stretches for minutes at a time either. To be on the safe side, hold them for about 20 seconds. Holding static stretches for too long can interfere with strength and power production.
You can do the same with ‘stability’ movements like planks and dead bugs. These movements help activate the muscles necessary for safe and ‘solid’ form.
I particularly like dead bugs, which are not only an excellent core trainer in and of themselves, but help to build good movement patterns and stability. Lifting a heavy weight without stability is a injury waiting to happen.
I might bang out 2-3 sets of dead bugs while warming up for a big lower body lift.
The heavier, more complex stuff like squats, deadlifts, heavy split squats, and power movements like trap bar jumps etc, do require a bit more rest in between sets for your muscles and nervous system to recover.
From a purely safety perspective, you don’t want to go into a heavy barbell squat with a tired lower back or abs. Ideally, you feel fresh and everything is switched on so you can perform the exercise safely.
However, once you move further in to the workout, try to start grouping exercises into small mini-circuits to save time. This is a great timesaver, and will also push your heart rate up a little for a cardio/fat loss effect.
For example, let’s say I had the following planned at the end of an upper body workout:
5) DB lateral raise – 3 x 12
6) Tricep pushdown – 3 x 15
7) DB Farmers walk – 3 x 2 laps (15 meters each way)
I would simply group the above in to one mini-circuit to save time, like so:
None of these exercises really require much recovery (maybe apart from the Farmers walk if done heavy enough, in which case you would rest for the next big ‘mini-set’ anyway).
Plus, none of them would really interfere with each other, thus making them perfect for grouping together. (There definitely is a place for supersetting exercises that hit the same muscle group though).
Being in the gym is nice, but being outside is even nicer! So use these tips to be as efficient as possible so you can enjoy the great outdoors (see my article here for my favourite outdoor workouts).
Oh, and guys, if you haven’t already, please check out my ‘Staying Lean At 30’ ebook for free.
Hit me up with any questions or enquiries
It’s May 31st and the weather is heating up.
Though I live in England, summer is basically non-existent here. Luckily, we do get a few weeks of sun, so I make sure I utilise it and get to Acton park as often possible.
Aside from the joyful feeling of the beaming sun on your face, being in nature has a whole host of amazing benefits for human beings.
Without getting all airy-fairy, it’s where we are designed to be. Not sitting in an office, inhaling someone’s BO on the tube, or being stuck in traffic jams.
After reading a fascinating book called ‘The Nature Fix’, I became more determined to be in nature a lot more than I previously was.
Just 5 minutes of walking in nature will slow your heart rate, relax your facial muscles, and make you more creative. The more time you spend in nature, the stronger the positive effects.
Some other benefits of being in nature:
These are real, measurable effects.
While being in nature will improve your life by itself, combining that with exercise enhances the effects even more. If you do it with friends, you’re on to a winning formula.
Growing up, playing football in the summer gave me some of the happiest memories of my life. Catching jokes with friends, playing my favourite sport and being out in the sun – there wasn’t/isn’t much better than that.
I don’t play much football anymore, but when I do link up with my friends to play football in the summer, those good feelings always come flooding back.
Being happy is what this fitness stuff is ultimately about, so why not try to make it as a fun as possible?
I highly recommend getting out in the sun with a friend (or more) and getting some work in when the opportunity is there.
Here are my top three workouts in nature.
1 – Hill Sprints
Hill sprints are one of the most brutally simple and effective forms of exercise you can do.
They will build your quads, hamstrings, glutes and make you lean as a stallion in the process.
I highly recommend them for people who want to look athletic and lean. I promise you, if you do them properly, you will see the fat melt off.
I also recommend them for athletes looking to improve cardio or boost power before a game or competition.
Hill sprints are simple. Run up a hill, walk down, and run up again.
Shorter rest periods = better for getting shredded (as this will release plenty of growth hormone in your body).
Longer rest breaks = more conducive to building explosive strength and power (so probably more of a concern for athletes).
Make sure to warm up THOROUGHLY and always start with low intensity, short distance sprints before trying to get to the longer ones.
Here’s a (very old) video of hill sprints with a couple of friends of mine.
Bonus points if you take your top off and absorb some Vitamin D in the process (Vitamin D levels are a crucial aspect of health).
2 – Circuits
Circuits are another great way to take your workout outside.
When training for a Spartan race a year or so back, a group of us headed to the local park with a kettlebell and sandbag and went to town.
One of the most gruelling workouts I have ever been through was on the top of a mountain in San Diego. All we did was sprint and pick up heavy stones. I slept like a baby that night.
Get creative with your circuits. You really don’t need much equipment at all.
You can mix in sprints, boxing, bodyweight exercises, kettlebells, sandbags, and even tree logs (see below). Circuits are great for building muscular endurance and getting cut up for the summer.
Excellent session with @aidansmith3d @smokeytoerag and @obzboxr93. It's good to get out of the confines of a gym and do unconventional training once in a while. Get uncomfortable. The log carries were horrible because not only was it heavy as hell, but it also dug in to our arms as we were walking. But excellent all round exercise for conditioning, core strength, and just mental toughness in general. We also did some sprints during the session too. Feel much fitter than I did just one month ago. #PersonalTraining #Acton #ShepherdsBush #Chiswick #London #KissGyms #Trainer #Training #Progress #Athleticism #AthleticTraining #Athlete #StrengthAndConditioning #Fitness #Fitspo #Exercise #Coach #Power #Speed #Strength #Sports #StrengthPunishes #SpeedKills #Fitness #LogCarries #Burpees #PullUps
Whatever equipment you use, make sure you bring a mentality of hard work.
3 – (BONUS) Beach activities
This is only a bonus because we live in England and beaches are few and far between.
But golden sand, clear blue water, sun and good vibes.. need I say more?
Going for a light swim, run, or even playing volleyball will have you feeling good! Plus you’ll get a nice pump you can walk around with after 😎.
And boom, that’s all for this one. Don’t overthink things, just get outside and do something. I promise you’ll feel good (once you’ve showered).
Please feel free to message me with any questions or comments.
How many times have you heard the phrase “it all goes downhill after 30?”.
I’ve lost count of the number of times other guys have said this to me… is it true though?
Getting older rarely leads to improvements in our bodies.
Wrinkles, grey hair, sagginess, loss of libido, baldness (I know about this one all too well!) are just part of the game.
There are many physiological process which slow down and change as we get older. Ultimately, these changes are unavoidable.
From a physique perspective, each decade after age 30, people who don’t train can lose 3-5% of their muscle mass. 3-5%!
That can make a huge to difference to how you look and feel. Just the mere fact of muscle loss will slow down your metabolism and make it easier for you to gain fat.
So not only do we have Father Time to contend with, but for most people entering their 30s, there are a whole bunch of other things too.
Financial security and climbing the career ladder become priority. Some guys are married and have young children that take up their time. Some guys are in serious relationships and their girlfriends won’t let them go out 😳.
The point is, fitness and health starts to be seen as a luxury and isn’t given the attention it needs. You slowly see the stomach getting fatter and the previous 25 year old you fading away.
Who’s that guy in the holiday pictures again?
I turned 30 in 2016 and I have definitely noticed subtle shifts in my body.
I feel training sessions more. My joints are creakier. Staying lean is more challenging. It’s harder to recover from a late night like during my 20s (now I have a migraine for 3 days after.)
In my whole life playing sports and lifting weights, I’ve only ever had one injury, a minor hamstring pull.
Once I entered my 30s, I’ve had back and knee injuries that kept me out for months.
Just look at someone like David Haye.
The decline in his speed and reflexes in the space of 5 years is very obvious. The multiple injuries accumulated as he’s aged have pretty much destroyed his career. (He’s still a physical specimen though).
So yeah, it’s inevitable that your body will change. But you can slow down and maybe even halt this decline.
There are no excuses for letting yourself go. Getting older is not a choice, but maintaining self respect is.
So here are the strategies to avoid ‘dad-bod’ and stay in shape.
Focus on posture
I always harp on about posture.
As you get older, you start to hunch over. Hours spent on the computer and phone, as well as the tightening of the chest muscles will make you look like Quasimodo.
Having a good posture makes you look taller and younger.
You can include face pulls, band pull aparts, and rear delt flyes in to your training pretty much every day. Sets of 10-20 are good and will build up the small muscles in the back.
You will need a band for pull-aparts, get it here
As well as that, add in lots of horizontal rowing movements, such as TRX rows, cable rows, incline rows, and bent over rows, TRX rows.
Do lots of work in the 8-15 rep range and really focus on feeling the muscles in the back working.
If you can’t squeeze the weight at the top of the movement for at least 2 seconds, it’s probably too heavy (thanks Jay Ferruggia).
Minimalist, express workouts
You have shit to do, so don’t waste your time.
You can achieve excellent results in just 3-4 days, 30-45 minutes per session if you are really good!
One way to really condense workout time is to use ‘non-competing supersets’.
For example, you may superset an upper body movement with a lower body one. Or an upper body push with an upper body pull.
The idea is that these movements don’t interfere with one another, so you can still push hard and get the most out of each one.
Also, instead of just resting after the exercise, you get more work in. This will cut down your workout time and ensure you hit your muscles hard during the short time you have.
If you have three days, ‘Push/Pull/Legs’ is a great split for you. You could also do ‘Upper/Lower/Full’.
Most of my male clients past the beginner stage are on some variation of the above.
Now what about if you don’t want to just lift, but enjoy other activities such as boxing, sprinting, or jiu jitsu?
You can and should still lift, but may need to reduce the volume (i.e. drop the frequency down).
If you need help with programming and want me to give you step by step guidance, consider signing up for online coaching.
This becomes even more pertinent once you hit your 30s, even though it should always be a consideration.
You need to plan in recovery sessions/activities in between weight training sessions.
Taking a walk, swimming, sitting in nature, yoga, meditation, massages, low intensity cardio, sled dragging sessions, and band work are all good for you.
These things keep your stress levels down and your joints healthy.
You may find yourself tighter and needing to stretch more often the older you get. Keep yourself mobile, because getting tight makes you old.
Hips and chest/shoulders are the key.
These 90/90 hip stretches from Andrea Spina are money.
Modify lifts that don’t agree with you
If a flat barbell bench press is what you’ve done for 10 years but now causes you pain, it’s time to swap it for something else my brother.
That doesn’t mean you have to stop benching. You could just swap it for a more shoulder friendly version, such as an incline bench press or a DB bench where your hands can rotate naturally.
Time to start working with your body rather then against it.
(That said, if you can do certain lifts without a problem, then go for it.)
Some good swaps you can make:
Swap ‘Flat barbell bench press’ for ‘incline barbell bench press’ or ‘neutral grip barbell bench press’ or ‘ DB bench press’.
Swap ‘barbell back squat’ for ‘front squat’ or ‘box squat’ or ‘goblet squat’.
Swap ‘straight bar deadlift’ for ‘trap bar deadlift’ or ‘rack pull’.
Start thinking ‘health’ rather than simply physique. You’re in this for the long term.
You can look good but be very unhealthy. Being at 6% body fat probably isn’t healthy because your hormones will be completely shot. Having huge muscles but eating massive amounts of food the whole day isn’t healthy either.
As you get in to the dirty thirties, your metabolism will probably slow a little bit, so you need to compensate by eating a little less.
The likelihood of getting diabetes also increases as you get older and fatter, so another smart approach may be to adopt a low carb diet, which I have found works brilliantly for getting leaner.
Note: low carb, not no carb.
Precision Nutrition’s infographic below is very simple but excellent for helping you understand what a low carb diet looks like.
There are two versions – one for any time of day, and one for after workouts.
For those that drink, alcohol tolerance will also most likely change. This can result in serious fatness if you try to keep drinking the same way you did in your youth.
Accept that you probably won’t be as slim like you did at 20.
This doesn’t mean you accept being overweight and losing all your pride. Not at all. It just means you recognise that your 20s and 30s are not the same.
But you can make your 30 year old self an even better version if you stick to what’s written above. it’s all about smart and efficient training.
I get questions from people all the time about ‘how to look like a boxer’, ‘how to get a six-pack’ etc, so I know other people feel the same way.
I’ve been meaning to write this guide for a while. From working closely with a number of clients, I’ve been able to see what works and what doesn’t.
Today I’m talking to guys with the following three body types:
Skinny and overweight are self explanatory.
Skinny-fat might be a new one for you though. Skinny-fat people tend be naturally skinny with thin arms and legs, but weirdly, also have a fat stomach or ‘man boobs’. This body type is best described as awkward.
Body types can also be classified by ‘somatotype’ – ectomorph, endomorph, and mesomorph. Some people fall between categories. I’m largely ectomorph, but have a little meso.
Identify what your body type is, because I’m going to be making specific recommendations for you later in this article.
So, what are the main problems encountering people who want to get in to shape?
Go to any commercial gym and you’ll see a small number of people who know what they’re doing. The rest barely have an idea.
The skinny guys stay skinny, the fat guys get fatter, and the skinny-fat guys melt like snowmen..
If you truly want to change, commit for a whole year. Only then can you say you actually gave the whole fitness thing a fair shake.
If you think one year is a long time, bear in mind the time is going to pass anyway.
Forget about quick fixes and the easy way out. There is no easy way out, apart from steroids or winning the genetic lottery.
Get a schedule and be consistent.
”80% of success is just showing up” – Woody Allen.
Routine is where the magic happens. The clients with the most success are the ones who show up to at least 90% of their workouts over the year.
These guys know what days they’re training, what they’ll be working on in each session, and what days they’re resting. Everything is planned out in advance and the training sessions are non-negotiable.
You might have legitimate reasons for not going to the gym, and trust me, I get it.
“It’s cold outside..” “The gym is packed..” “People at the gym stink” etc. These are all legit excuses (the last one can be all too real unfortunately =/)
The truth is, however, your body doesn’t care.
All your body responds to is effort.
I can’t tell you how many times I haven’t wanted to train. More often than I’d like to admit, I’ve wanted to turn around and go home. Especially when it involves cold weather and driving.
Yet each and every time, I came out feeling happy I didn’t listen to my bullshit excuses.
So now the specifics.
When it comes to cleaning up your diet, start slow. Very few people can make extreme changes in one go.
Research shows that changing one thing at a time is far more successful than trying to change two or three things at once.
‘All-or-nothing’ just doesn’t work for most people (especially when you are starting out and have no idea what you’re doing.
(I am, however, a fan of ‘going all in’ and being obsessed about things you have a passion for, but only if you have someone guiding you and/or a fair idea of what you’re doing.)
There are some major keys to remember when cleaning up your diet.
Internalise these keys and you’ll always be able to stay on point with your diet.
🔑 Drink lots of water.
🔑 Eat lots of protein.
🔑 Eat lots of veg.
🔑 Carbs can be your enemy or your friend.
I highly advise people who are new to eating healthy to log their food and drink for at least a few weeks.
This helps you become aware and make better choices. There’s no hiding from the truth when everything is written down. Being able to see your eating habits helps you make better choices
If you want a more relaxed but still very efficient method of controlling calories, the ‘hand method‘ is excellent (though probably not as accurate as calorie counting).
Before we start with specific recommendations, we first need to clarify a couple of things.
‘Maintenance calories’ – the amount of daily calories needed to maintain your current bodyweight.
So if you weigh 70 kg, your maintenance calories are the amount of calories that will keep you at 70 kg (without your weight going up or down).
Eating below maintenance = calorie deficit. You will lose weight.
Eating above maintenance = calorie surplus. You will gain weight.
The Precision Nutrition weight loss calculator is the best calculator I’ve found to work out what you should be eating calorie wise (depending on goals). The MyFitnessPal app also does the same job when you input your personal data.
Always integrate changes slowly. Don’t start with a massive calorie surplus or deficit straight away. A good rule of thumb is to go in 250 kcal increments (above or below your maintenance). Adjust as you go along.
(The major keys outlined earlier apply to all body types)
– Only have starchy carbs (potatoes, pasta, rice, bread etc) within 1-2 hours after working out
– Small amount of sugary carbs such as Lucozade before/during sessions is acceptable
– Drop sugar out of your diet as much as possible (fizzy drinks, fruit juice)
– Eat at a calorie deficit
– Only have starchy carbs (potatoes, pasta, rice, bread etc) within 1-2 hours after working out
– Small amount of sugary carbs such as Lucozade before/during sessions is acceptable
– Drop sugar out of your diet as much as possible (fizzy drinks, fruit juice)
– Eat at a calorie deficit
– Intermittent fasting
– Can eat starchy carbs (potatoes, pasta, rice, bread etc) at every meal
– Small amount of sugary carbs such as Lucozade before/during sessions is acceptable
– Eat at a calorie surplus
The major key to changing any physique is always WEIGHT TRAINING.
This can change the most under-developed or sloppy physique into one that is rock solid.
3-5 days is fine for most people, 4 is usually the best. It just depends on what you can feasibly fit in and recover from.
Always start with the minimum number of days you can handle. Once you get comfortable, build it up.
If you are the type of person who likes to go balls deep, go for it, but just make sure you have a plan.
If you can only commit to three days, full body routines can work. This way you hit most of your muscle groups more than once throughout the week. Frequency is a great way to grow muscles.
It’s also a very good way to burn excess calories, so good for overweight people.
If doing 4 days, I love an upper/lower split. I use this type of split myself.
Again, you can hit the same muscle group more than once a week – high frequency helps muscles grow.
Upper/lower splits also help you build muscle better than full body as you can focus in on the target muscles better, so it’s better for skinny guys.
I don’t really recommend ‘bro-splits’ for beginners as they require more total time spent in the gym and you can’t really hit your muscle groups more than once a week.
Then we come to cardio. Skinny guys LOVE doing cardio for some reason. In particular, they love running a lot. Stop it!
Overweight guys, on the other hand, don’t like doing cardio.
The skinny guys need to drastically reduce the amount of cardio they do, while the bigger guys need to do more.
Cardio is an important part of being healthy, but if you are skinny and trying to gain weight, you need to do less cardio for a while.
What exercises to do?
The basic exercises ALWAYS work best, especially at the beginning of your lifting career.
(Note: you don’t have to use all of them).
These exercises use large amounts of muscle mass across multiple joints (compound lifts). Compound lifts should be the foundation of your training. They will get you stronger and bigger quickly.
Once you have a strong foundation, you can add in smaller movements such as bicep curls, leg extensions etc (isolation exercises).
Too many guys skip the tough compound exercises and only focus on isolation exercises because they’re easier. They never get results. Don’t be like them.
Get good at bodyweight exercises. Whether you’re fat, skinny, or in between, bodyweight exercises will help you achieve a lean, athletic physique. Plus they can be done anywhere, so no excuses.
Ego lifting is the death of all progress. Realising this changed everything for me.
Once I focused on feeling my muscles work (as opposed to just trying to lift heavy all the time), I started to see actual muscle growth.
There is a time and a place for heavy lifting, but it’s not on every set and every exercise. Lift with smooth form and a good range of motion. Forget the half squats and life-or-death bench presses.
Log your workouts. As time goes on, try to lift more weight or do more reps with the same weight (always making sure your form is on point).
A mix of rep ranges works well, from 5-15. It is very hard to give blanket recommendations because everyone responds differently to different rep ranges.
Once you have a programme in place, make sure you know how to do the exercises properly. Hire someone to teach you if you have to.
You will save yourself plenty of time and probably a lot of injuries. Being coached will significantly speed up your progress. (I myself pay a Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructor once weekly and have seen significant improvements in my game, as well as being trained in the gym for a while myself).
(If you need help, I offer online coaching as well as in-person training if you’re close enough.)
– Lift weights 3-5 times a week
– Full body or upper/lower
– Use a mix of rep ranges (5-15 reps)
– Sweat every day (cardio, sports etc)
– Lift weights 3-5 times a week
– Full body or upper/lower
– Use a mix of rep ranges (5-15 reps), can usually tolerate more heavy lifting (i.e. bench pressing, deadlifting, squats)
– Sweat every day
– Lift weights 3-5 times a week
– Upper/lower preferred
– Use a mix of rep ranges (5-15 reps)
– Reduce cardio to max 1-2 short sessions a week
Good diet and lifting will sort anybody out. Add some quality sleep to that and you will be a different person in a years time.
There is so much more I could write on this issue, but doing so would make it well over 2000 words, and I don’t think anyone is trying to read a thesis!
Contact me for online coaching on firstname.lastname@example.org
Finishers – some people love them, some people f*cking hate them.
If you don’t know what a finisher is, it’s basically 5-10 minutes of hell done at the end of your workout.
The point of a finisher? Usually one of the following:
Finishers can also be purely psychological. I’ll sometimes throw one in just so someone can feel like they’ve ‘worked out’ (psst, don’t tell that to any of my clients). Most of the ‘important’ work will have already been done – the finisher just gives them that feeling of being sweaty and tired that people love.
However, one of the biggest and more important benefits of finishers is that they can make you mentally tougher. I truly believe that.
Your heart will beat out of your chest.
Your muscles will shake and burn.
Your lungs will feel like they can no longer take in air.
But once you’re done, you have achieved something. As corny as it sounds, you feel like a stronger person. You know that you can go through pain and make it to the other side. This is especially true for athletes who will be faced with adversity in their sport, but it’s powerful for anybody.
Disclaimer: I’m a big advocate of smart training. You shouldn’t do super intense finishers every session. The key to all this is to not overdo it.
So having said all that, here are some of my favourite finishers you can start implementing immediately.
You can never go wrong with a set of farmers walks. I’ve talked about them extensively before, and I still do them to this day. Just grab some heavy kettlebells/dumbbells/sandbags/trap bar/logs and WALK!
To improve cardio, use lighter weights and walk for slightly longer distances.
For more of a strength effect, go heavier and walk for a shorter distance.
Switch up the implements and style of carry to avoid getting bored and to hit different muscle groups. I like kettlebells and sandbags. You can even combine them with other exercises, such as press-ups or squats, but be warned..
Tabatas are great occasionally, but very overused in my opinion.Tabatas are good for a quick metabolic hit, so will improve your cardio and give you some fat burning effects.
They only take 4 minutes, but unlike premature ejaculation, you’ll be happy it was only 4 minutes.
The format goes like this: 20 seconds all out effort, 10 seconds rest. Do this 8 times.
That work to rest ratio makes tabatas lactic dominant, so be prepared to BURN!
You can do tabatas with anything you want. I recently had my client do a 20 second Versaclimber sprint, rest 10 seconds, then 20 seconds of kettlebell swings, rest 10 seconds, then back to the versaclimber etc, until the eight sets were over.
You must have good technique when doing tabatas – don’t try to do kettlebell swings in a finisher if you can’t do them when you’re fresh. Choose simple exercises, like a bodyweight squat or battle ropes.
Very time efficient. Once a week or every couple of weeks is good depending on your how fit you are.
Matrixes (or matrices according to proper English)
Matrices are an excellent way to get in extra volume for a specific muscle group.
For example, if you’ve just done a lower body session and want to ‘finish off’ your legs for more gains, you can do a leg matrix to cause even more muscle damage (in a good way).
They’re also good for athletes looking for extra leg endurance and a metabolic hit (high reps, low weight – footballers, boxers, muay thai athletes could benefit).
Here’s one I use quite regularly that Nick Tumminiello of Performance U does with his athletes.
Alternating ladders are another solid finisher for fat loss.
I once went to another gym where the trainer made me do a press-up and swing ladder.. I almost vomited and didn’t get up for 30 minutes (was my fault for eating for 30 minutes before).
Here’s one way you can do it:
Do 1 press-up, 2 swings.
Then 2 press-ups, 4 swings.
3 press-ups, 6 swings, until you get to 10 swings. If you’re trashed, leave it there. If not, go all the way back down to 2 swings..
Bonus points if you use exercises that involve standing up and going to the ground – that’s guaranteed to get your heart rate ALL THE WAY UP! A press-up & squat/swing is a safe bet.
Most metabolic finishers are lower body, so it makes a nice change to do some upper body conditioning.
Ropes are great for the shoulders and cardio. You can use the ropes in a variety of ways – Tabata style or any interval timings you want. You can also vary the techniques – single arm waves, double arm waves, slams, punches etc.
The heavy bag is brilliant for cardio, fat loss, technique, and shoulder endurance. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a bum or a high level pro… everybody can benefit from the bag.
Just like the battle ropes, it’s upper body dominant, so it gives us something different to the other usual types of finishers.
You can use the bag in different ways. You can throw the same combination over and over (like Obi is below), do punch-outs (constant punching), or just treat the bag like a live opponent, picking and choosing your shots.
Either way – hitting the bag is a great finisher.
Here’s Obi going through a heavy bag drill in preparation for his title defence (which he won!)
I’ve written about complexes before – it’s a type of loaded conditioning, and loaded conditioning is good!
If you have good technique with a bar, barbell complexes are excellent. DBs are good too. So are KBs and sandbags.
High Intensity Continuous Training (HICT)
This one is very different from the types of finishers above. Unlike the finishers above, it’s slow paced and a lot more mentally draining.
Basically, choose between a bike, Versaclimber (my favourite), or do step-ups on a box. If using the machines, put the setting on to the highest resistance that still allows you to move. Intentionally go slow and maintain that pace for 10 minutes.
After about three minutes, you will be thinking ‘wtf!’.. and your quads will probably be PUMPED!
This is an excellent form of aerobic cardio I took from Joel Jamieson, a conditioning expert. I credit this method as being part of the reason my conditioning for jiu jitsu has improved so much. I feel VERY fit while sparring.
And that’s it guys… any questions, please comment below or email me at email@example.com!
An additional note about some of the methods listed: I like alternating upper and lower body. For example, if I’ve done a lower body session, I like to do upper body conditioning (such as battle ropes) to spare my legs for the next day of training. This all depends on your objective of course.
I’m quite nerdy deep down. I’ve always had the mindset of wanting to be ‘perfect’ at everything. As a result, I end up procrastinating and not doing shit! I’ve definitely changed my mindset in this regard, and it’s a much better way to live. Perfectionism is almost always a ‘cop-out’ of doing something difficult. It leads to paralysis by analysis.
This applies for everything, all the way from personal development to fitness.
Let’s take a classic example people battle with all the time.
Let’s say you work 9-6pm. You have family stuff to do after work and you know that getting to the gym will be difficult today. The easy option is to write off training altogether. What’s the point? If you don’t have one whole hour for the gym, you might as well do nothing.. right? Well, no.
Here’s the deal – you don’t have to do 60 minute sessions to get results. Nor is there any rule stopping you from splitting your workout into smaller parts throughout the day. The whole ‘I don’t have time’ excuse can no longer be a valid one.
This is a common way of thinking among perfectionists. By choosing this ‘all or nothing’ approach, you end up doing nothing if the conditions aren’t ‘exactly right’.
Instead of not training altogether, do what you can, when you can. Progress, not perfection.
For the above example, you could bang out a 10 minute circuit of kettlebell swings, press-ups, planks, and squats before leaving for work. 10 minutes!
Most people spend at least 10 minutes watching Snapchat videos while taking a dump in the morning 😳 – why not use the time more productively? (Not to mention, exercise is one of those keystone habits that has been proven to spill over into other areas of life in a positive way – and in my opinion, doing it in the morning is a great way to start your day. Read the books Switch and The Power Of Habit if you want to know more).
Once you get home from work, you can bang out another 10 or 15 minutes. Over the course of the day, that’s 20-25 minutes. Believe it or not, that can be very effective for burning fat and maintaining muscle mass.
I’ve been doing the same for stretching. My flexibility has long been something I’ve avoided taking seriously because I never wanted to sit there for an hour stretching. Now I just break it up into small 10 minute chunks. Maybe an hour is better, but 10 minutes once or twice a day is better than nothing at all.
By breaking up your workout into small chunks, you not only make it more feasible to actually do, but you start to relish small victories and progress over ‘perfection’ (i.e. a 60 minute workout).
The same can be applied to any area of fitness. Most people’s idea of a perfect diet is eating 100% clean, every single day apart from one cheat meal per week. How about just eating healthily every day but allowing yourself a few chocolate bars over the course of the week? You will still make progress, without the inevitable rebellion that comes after a ‘perfect’ super-strict diet.
Small actions done consistently are the key to long term results.
Progress, not perfection!<<<<<<<< lt;<<<<<< <<<<<< ;<<<<< t;<<<< gt;<<< ><< p>< /p>
As someone completely new to Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (BJJ from here on), I quickly realised how tough a sport it is. Though I’m in pretty good shape, initially, it kicked my ass. Smart strength and conditioning will keep you healthier, less injury prone, and make you a better athlete. A little goes a long way – you don’t need to live in the gym to reap the benefits of this stuff.
The ideas below are similar for many sports, but there are some special considerations for BJJ.
Note: I’m not saying this will make you good at jiu-jitsu. I am still wack tbh. But the tips below WILL make you cope with the demands better and give you an advantage if you’re competing (more pound for pound strength in a weight class is never bad).
So with that said, here are my top 4 tips for BJJ strength and conditioning.
Grip, grip, grip!
You use your hands to control your opponent. While high level BJJ players can control people with just their legs, without a strong, enduring grip, it’s unlikely you will be able do much with your opponents.
Strong fingers and hands are a must in Gi Jiu Jitsu (the gi is the kimono BJJ players wear – there is also a form of jiu jitsu where the Gi is not worn).
Here are some simple exercises you can do for a vice like grip grip:
Farmers Walks[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3Ftk7Q6zp8[/embedyt]
Rock climbing grip pull up & holds[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35B-RBjtTXQ[/embedyt]
Towel pull up[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0m_aqGHxiB0[/embedyt]
Other great exercises are plate pinches, rows and deadlifts with Fat Gripz, and fat bar holds for time (use Fat Gripz).
2) Start working on mobility
Mobility, in particular, hip mobility is king in BJJ! You don’t have to be stretch armstrong , but being very tight will limit your game. There are some moves that will be very awkward if you’re not mobile.
BJJ in and of itself will loosen you up a little, but if you’re tight, you’ll need to do more. Taking a bit of time to do some static and dynamic movements throughout the week will help. See here for ways to boost hip mobility.
Many BJJ competitors and teachers recommend yoga as a way to strengthen and mobilise the body, although I haven’t personally tried it myself.
3) Strength training
While strength will not make you good at BJJ (as I have found out), it is an undeniable asset, especially when fighting in weight classes. Skill and other factors being equal, strength may end up being the deciding factor.
The stronger you are, the more difficult you will be to manhandle, the more explosive you will be, and, the more ‘solid’ you’ll feel.
One of the other benefits of a good strength training regime is injury prevention. It will have positive effects on your ligaments and joints. The last thing you want is a dislocated shoulder or knee keeping you out of training.
So what to do?
You can never go wrong with the basics.
However, BJJ is a dynamic sport that plays out in three dimensions. All the above exercises are linear. You also need to add in movements that incorporate different directions (see this article for more).
A large part of BJJ consists of a hunched over, flexed position (think of when you are trying to control someone in full guard or protecting yourself in a defensive position). To stay strong and healthy, you need to train the opposite – extension. Lots of rows/pulls and hip extension movements (such as the Romanian Deadlift or kettlebell swing). This will also give you more explosive bridging and takedowns.
I recommend lower volume, full body or upper/lower splits. 2-3 per week is ideal. The more often and harder your BJJ training, the less intense the lifting should be. The less you’re rolling, the more you can lift.
Don’t go to failure during your sets. Don’t do lots of sets. Don’t be tempted to do bodybuilding splits (chest day, back day etc), although bodybuilding methods may be useful in certain situations.
BJJ is tiring. During hard rolls you will feel it. Quick transitions and explosive movements will have you gassing harder than AJ against Klitschko. Not only that, but there will be long, grinding exchanges where your muscles will be burning. I don’t need to tell you that running out of gas during a fight is bad.
Adding one day of conditioning to your training will allow you to spar longer. One underrated benefit of improved conditioning is that you will be calmer on the mat, which will also translate to better sparring.
Competition matches last from 5-6 minutes so there is a large aerobic component, which means low intensity steady state training is a good start. This doesn’t mean you have to go running – you could do 30 minutes of light bodyweight circuits, rotating between different cardio machines, and core work, for example.
As you get fitter, you can introduce more intense forms of conditioning such as sprints (hill sprints are amazing), barbell complexes, and other types of loaded conditiong. These types of training will allow you to be relentlessly explosive.
Again, don’t overdo this. One day a week is great.
Also, do yourself a favour and get a heart rate monitor how your fitness is improving over time.
Hope this helps you guys!
Yeah, I’m back.. talking about the Turkish Get-Up again.. =/
As I said in my previous post, many athletes make the mistake of using exercises that are either straight forward or straight back. Barely any sports are played this way!
That’s why I’m always banging on about the The Turkish Get-up (‘TGU’ from here on). The TGU incorporates different movements and muscle groups, and crucially for athletes, moves in different planes of motion (not just front to back).
Most people who add TGUs to their training soon feel more agile and mobile. Believe it or not, agility does not come from flashy ladder drills. It comes from total body strength, and the ability to slow down, speed up, and push off in a different direction.
Holding the weight above your head during a TGU makes you stabilise and tighten up your whole body. You have to control every inch of the movement.. failure to do so will result in your skull getting smashed in.
Bottom line, you want improved agility, mobility, and total body strength, start doing this.
The TGU looks like some Cirque du Soleil sh*t to most people, so here’s my attempt to break it down for you.
These are the steps I’d suggest you go through when learning the get-up.
Do it over the course of a few weeks and go super slow during every rep!
Shoe get-up fail
Hope this helps guys!!
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Strength training for athletes is imperative. There is no longer any debate about that.
To reach your potential on the pitch, ring, cage, or wherever, you should be doing it.
But one of the traps athletes fall into is only training straight forward and back.
Squats, presses, pull-ups, deadlifts are the bread and butter of any good programme, but they are all pretty much linear, while most sports involve movement in different directions and planes. Think of a boxer circling the ring, a footballer shuffling to the side, a baseball player running to catch a ball.
Adding movement in different directions is probably the most important change I’ve made to my own training as well as the athletes I train.
A little goes a long way. Many of the below can be added to warm-ups or done at the end, after the heavier, more intense work. This list is by no means exhaustive, but do some of these consistently and you’ll see feel more agile and in control of your body during competition.
Twisting box jump[embedyt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0nShCCEFwc[/embedyt]
Lateral mini band walks[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJjCEvoJlFk[/embedyt]
Use this exercise to strengthen the upper glutes and hip external rotators in a position common to many sports. As mentioned above, in many sports, you need to be able to move laterally (to the side). To effectively pivot, ‘cut’ from side to side, swing or throw, you need well developed hip muscles.
Zig zag walk[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmPZb7pgP4A[/embedyt]
Similar to above, but now we move back diagonally and add different positions.
Multi-directional lunge[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15ak8EgGL0M[/embedyt]
Add this to the warm up to hit some of the usually underdeveloped muscles such as the adductor.
Asterisk lunge[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGyZ12P4-eI[/embedyt]
This move takes the above a step further by adding in a couple of unorthodox angles.
Turkish Get-Up (TGU)[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJX_ppIvERY[/embedyt]
One of the best moves you can add to your toolbox – complex to learn, but very, very worth it. The TGU ticks all the right boxes: it involves different planes of motion, and develops stability, mobility and total body co-ordination. Excellent for shoulders and core especially.
Lateral lunges[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgchfG91nK8[/embedyt]
The ability to ‘cut’ (change direction) comes from being able to get low and push off one foot – similar to a lateral lunge. Again, the adductors are weak in many athletes (hence groin strains). Lateral lunges also hit the hammies, quads, and abductors.
To make these easier, hold onto a pole or TRX for support.
Lateral sled drags[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_1hNleR1UU[/embedyt]
One of my favourites. The sled is one of the best tools at your disposal, so use it. For this exercise, imagine there are headlights on your hips – don’t let them stop facing forward.
Hope this helps guys! Mus