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As human beings, one of our biggest underlying fears is the fear of being publicly humiliated.
Our image-obsessed society is driven by the need to be accepted. Nobody wants to be judged or laughed at.
Just look at Instagram. Some people spend hours crafting the perfect selfie just to gain ‘likes’ from people they don’t even know (or like, a lot of the time). Everybody is trying to appear perfect.
Today’s post is not about ‘gym motivation’. I’ve done plenty of posts pertaining to that, and I think it’s fair to say we’re all a bit fed up of the cliche motivational quotes and images.
Today, I’m going to give some practical advice to people who are new to fitness (or returning to it after a long lay-off).
Something I hear very often is people telling me they want to get in shape before they sign up for the gym.
It all goes back to fear of public humiliation.
‘I don’t want people to laugh because I’m skinny and weak.’
‘I have love handles and a big belly, I don’t want people to see that.’
‘I might not be wearing the right gym gear.’
‘People will know I don’t have any idea what I’m doing.’
‘All the big guys will make fun of me and call me a loser.’ (Mainly guys)
‘All the girls are fitness models, they’ll look down on me’. (Mainly girls, and some guys).
The list goes on and on, but at the core, it’s all about the fear of being humiliated.
I have some advice for how to get over the fear of going to the gym. Because if you don’t overcome this fear, you will remain fat/skinny/weak/insert negative descriptive here.
Here we go.
This is an obvious one – with a PT, you’ll feel more comfortable moving around the gym as they’ll be physically present, providing you support in what can seem a very foreboding situation.
Plus, the trainer can introduce you to other PTs and gym members, thus increasing your sense of comfort.
Get a gym partner.
This way you won’t feel like 2Pac in 1996 (….) and you’ll have a bit more confidence in the way you carry yourself.
Don’t go to the busy parts of the gym yet.
Many inexperienced male trainees and women are fearful of going into the free weights area of the gym due to the male-dominated presence.
That’s fine – just don’t go there until you feel prepared. Spend time working on the fundamentals of training so that when you do eventually venture there, you feel confident that you know what you’re doing. Most gyms have more quiet areas where you can do press-ups, pull-ups, squats, dumbbell floor presses etc.
These are bread and butter movements. Once you get a grip of them, you will be able to transition seamlessly to the squat racks and weights area without feeling out of place.
Go to the gym during the less busy periods (typically from 9am-5pm).
Use these more quiet times to learn how to navigate the gym and practice the fundamental exercises. Gradually over time, you can go at busier times (if you need to, that is.. I personally hate going at busy times because the training session usually sucks!). This is a form of exposure therapy.
Don’t take this to mean that you need to spend an hour talking to everyone and barely training, but at least be on good terms with a few people. Say hi, exchange small talk, then get on with your workout. This will transform your perception of the gym into a much more welcoming, positive place.
If you don’t know how to make friends, just ask a PT or gym member for advice on how to do an exercise. Unless they’re a complete sociopath, they will usually take the time to help you out and feel happy you asked.
Buy some workout gear that fits you and looks good.
‘Look good, feel good’ as the saying goes.
If you’re wearing your stained jogging bottoms and a t-shirt so tight you can see your heart beating, it’s probably best to pay a visit to Nike.com and order some new gear. (Sidenote: men – please stop wearing tight spandex in the gym, it’s unnecessary.)
Get some good headphones.
Listen to music that pumps you up. Music can get you into a more positive state and less focused on what’s happening around you. Get noise-cancelling ones for an even greater effect.
Realise that everyone starts somewhere.
taking performance enhancing drugs genetically blessed, you will have to work your way up the totem pole just like everybody else. It doesn’t matter if you can’t lift the same weight as the next person. Just keep working and you will eventually get there.
Choose the right gym
If the gym you go to is unwelcoming, the staff are rude, and you really just don’t feel at ease, go somewhere else. Environment and the people around you are important.
At the very least you want a gym where people are neutral. Ideally, you’ll find one that matches your personality.
If you are a bodybuilder and enjoy shouting and screaming during workouts, join a gym with a culture like that. If you enjoy a more athletic style of training, find a good strength and conditioning gym that caters to your training. If you just can’t stand gyms, train outside. You can still do good things.
Hope this helps guys.. hit me up and tell me if this resonates with you.
This is a quick one guys.. here are some things I’ve learnt about training and life over the past 4 or 5 months. Always learning!
That’s it guys. Hit me up for personal training and coaching enquires below:
So I finally did it. After years of dreaming, I finally had my boxing match.
When I first discovered boxing in my early 20s I was hooked. I enjoyed it so much I wanted to fight as an amateur, but I was scared.
What if I was terrible, or worse, got knocked out in my first fight? I decided not to pursue it.
I stopped training for a few years, but the idea of boxing remained, dormant in my head.
Three months ago however, I sat down to set some goals for different areas of my life. I wanted to choose goals that would challenge me.
One of the goals suggested to me by a friend was to compete in an amateur or white collar boxing match. My heart began to beat a little faster. The idea made me anxious. .. but it felt so right.
Three months later… Third round TKO (technical knockout). The feeling was indescribable.
Hearing my name being chanted when I won gave me a dopamine rush like never before. I might have to start doing cocaine to fill the void now.
Now this post is not merely an attempt to glorify myself for the internet. Rather, it’s a way for me to express the lessons I learned from training for this fight.
These lessons are not only relevant to boxing – some of them can be applied across the board, in any area of your life. Read with an open mind.
In order to get to get good at anything, you must be consistent. Rain, sleet, or snow, you must show up every day and train diligently.
Bruce Lee has a great quote about the power of practice:
I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.
My training camp was 11-12 weeks, and I trained 6 days a week, every week, sometimes twice a day.
It’s no surprise that during this time I improved measurably. I was practicing so frequently that my mind and body had no choice but to get better at boxing.
Excuses for not training consistently hold no weight. We all have plenty of legitimate reasons to avoid training – wife, girlfriend, kids, work, family etc.
Ultimately however, the only thing that matters is whether you have done the work or not. Nobody cares about excuses.
Training when you ‘have time’ or when you feel like it is not consistency.
True consistency is when you do the work in spite of thoughts, feelings, moods and emotions.
I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to skip training, especially sparring. Much of the time I was in the ring with guys faster, bigger, or more experienced than me. I left more than a few sparring sessions feeling demoralised because I could barely land a punch.
But I knew that to get better I had to suck it up, take the lessons, and come back next time. I ignored the anxiety in the pit of my stomach and showed up every time.
By the end of training camp, I was actually quite enjoying sparring. I began to see it as a challenge rather than something to be dreaded.
Acting in spite of thoughts, feelings, moods, and emotions is probably the most important lesson I’ve taken from this whole experience.
When I first decided to fight, I felt a mixture of excitement and fear.
The excitement because I had the chance to do something I’d always wanted to.
The fear because I could potentially be humiliated in front of my friends and family.
I decided to leave nothing to chance. I went all in and became obsessed. I barely hung out with any of my friends, I cleaned up my diet, I stopped playing football.
I stopped anything that wasn’t conducive to boxing. Boxing, boxing, boxing. It consumed me.
When I wasn’t training, I was studying great fighters on Youtube (I must have watched certain Floyd Mayweather fights at least 7 or 8 times… don’t judge me).
Some people may think the above is a little extreme, but I’d rather be obsessed and victorious than laid back and a loser.
If you want to really crush something, become obsessed with it. Once you’ve achieved what you set out to do, then you can ease off.
This goes out to all the procrastinators out there (talking to myself here).
Once you’ve decided to do something, formulate your plan, then go and do it!
You don’t need to wait for the economic situation to improve. You don’t need to wait for the new year to start. You don’t need to wait for the stars to align perfectly around Saturn.
Just take action. Starting is the most important step.
I’m lucky to have good people around me who supported me throughout training.
Some helped with the training itself, while others gave me encouragement and moral support. All of them helped in some way during the lonely, arduous preparation for a fight.
I appreciate that. Those people wanted the best for me and that’s a rare thing in today’s society.
Over the three months of training, I slimmed down from 71 kg to a very ripped 68 kg. I kept my punching power as I went down in weight.
I didn’t use any fad diets or gimmicky sweat belts etc. I simply increased the amount of activity I was doing and ate sensibly. The weight melted off easily.
I found a boxing gym with a great coach (and supporting team) who really helped me throughout the training process. I was immediately made to feel welcome and knew it was the right place for me train.
The confidence I received was invaluable and the small nuggets of knowledge I picked up every session won me the fight.
The sign of a great coach is one who can work with different levels of athlete and knows when to push you further. Great coaches keep things simple, make you feel good, and build you up step by step.
It’s great to try do things on your own, but experience is the best teacher, so learn from someone who has wisdom to pass on.
There are numerous reports of the impact mental imagery and visualisation can have on sports performance. Many world class athletes use visualisation as in important tool in their training.
Believe it or not, but imagining yourself doing something causes an almost identical physiological response to doing that thing in real life.
Almost every morning and night throughout camp, I spent 5-10 minutes visualising the fight in my mind’s eye, down to the finest detail.
I made the picture as vivid as possible. I imagined myself as a Gladiator walking into the Collosseum, ready to go to war.
I saw myself walking out to my ring music. Once the bell rang, I envisioned the first punch I’d throw. I pictured the look on his face when I hit him, and how I would react to his counter attack.
As the rounds went on, I visualised myself raining down blow after blow on my opponents face and body until the referee had to stop the fight. I could literally feel the elation in my body as I imagined the referee raising my arms in victory.
That image of the referee raising my arms was an extremely powerful one for me. Any time I had fear or doubt throughout training, I referred back to this mental image.
The visualisation made everything feel so much more comfortable for me. I’d been mentally rehearsing the fight for weeks so when it actually happened, I felt relaxed and in control.
As it happens, much of the fight turned out how I visualised it. Not all, but much of it (I didn’t envision getting caught with overhand rights at the start of the 3rd!).
That’s actually amazing.
Imagine what else we could apply the power of visualisation to in our lives?
In the build up to the fight I noticed a lot of negative self-talk and mental pictures in my brain. Every day.
Instead of heeding this negativity, I changed focus by listening to motivational music, speeches and books everyday.
I watched great fighters fighting and talking about fighting. I surrounded myself with uplifting messages to positively brainwash me into believing I’d win the fight.
This goes along the same lines as having positive people around you – make sure everybody and everything in your life is influencing you in a good way, down to the books you read, the videos you watch, and the music you listen to.
Shadow boxing is a fundamental part of boxing training. However, even today, shadow boxing is highly underrated. Most people simply see it as a prelude to the fun stuff, but it’s so much more than that.
Shadowboxing is an excellent way to hone and ingrain perfect technique. To ingrain it so deeply that it becomes automatic in a fight.
Unfortunately, most people want to skip the fundamentals and learn the ‘hacks’. F*ck the hacks.
The greats in every field of life learn and practice the fundamentals every single day.
Whatever it is you are trying to do, remember that simply doing the fundamentals will get you the majority of results.. not shortcuts.
For example, if you’re trying to lose weight, just do the basics. You’ll get further by simply drinking more water and eating more greens than from the ‘mindblowing’ diet some clueless celebrity gets paid to endorse.
I have a sweet tooth, I like eating pizza, burgers, and fries, and I genuinely believe that if you are sensible there’s no reason to completely cut anything out of your diet.
However, for this 12 weeks of fight training, I took my diet seriously.
I ate clean 5-6 days a week and had one or two days of (moderate) cheat meals. I definitely noticed a difference in performance when I ate clean, especially when I was sparring. The days where I’d eaten more healthily and consumed more water, I felt sharper, stronger, and had better endurance.
Fuelling my body for training became a priority.
I also was very rigorous with my supplementation throughout this period. I generally don’t recommend too many supplements, but I took Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs), fish oils, and creatine every day.
I took the BCAAs to preserve muscle mass as I lost weight. I stayed very lean and maintained my punching power (from when I was 2-3 kg heavier). I took 5 g of amino acids before/during every training session, and sometimes another 5 g later.
Fish oil is another excellent supplement I used. It’s especially important for boxers or combat athletes, as it is alleged to protect brain cells from the trauma of getting hit (to some degree).
Boxing is a very physically demanding sport. I had painful wrists, elbows, sore noses, lower back problems, ‘hangover’ type symptoms after hard sparring.. you name it.
Fish oil was therefore vital in this respect as it reduces inflammation and thus improved my recovery. I took 2-4 g every day, although you should consult your doctor before taking doses higher than written on the instruction label.
The last supplement I took was creatine. It not only has very positive effects on strength and power, but like fish oil, it is reported to alleviate brain cell damage due to trauma. A lot of boxers and combat athletes overlook this issue, but looking after your brain should be a number 1 priority.
It might seem contradictory to point number 2 (it is), but you need different tools for different situations.
I consider myself quite disciplined in many respects, but by the end of training camp I was desperate to binge on junk food, watch movies and lie on the couch eating Doritos.. and that’s exactly what I did for 3 days after the fight.
I pretty much lived like a monk during the build up but I know for a fact I could not do it year round. We are human beings, eventually we need a release. Even professional fighters take time off in between fights to recover physically and mentally.
A classic mistake from people new to fitness is believing they can go from zero training and bad diets to eating boiled chicken and hardcore training 365 days a year. The wheels usually fall off very quickly.
Once I had a fight date set, I wrote out a detailed training plan and followed it as strictly as possible (injuries, recovery, and changes of circumstance permitting).
Whether your goal is building muscle, losing weight, or improving your sprint time, you need a roadmap to follow.
Without a clear structure, you will be no better off than when you started. Get help from someone who knows what they’re doing if you don’t.
(Click here to see details about coaching).
Again, this is similar to number 2 and seems to contradict number 11, but the truth is, if you are absolutely desperate to achieve something, you should go all in.
Do whatever it takes to meet your objective.
I need to take this advice more in my own life because I’m a master at multitasking and getting absolutely nothing done.
The people who are obsessed with achieving something usually achieve it. This is scary to most of us because it means giving up comforts such as sleep, leisure time, &/or money.
But if you really want something, ignore everything else and go after it 100%.
I hope you got something from this article, and remember, you can apply many of these points to your own life, it’s not purely about boxing!
• Drink more water. This is non-negotiable. Start your day with a tall glass and drink throughout the day until your pee is clear.
You will train better, lose more fat, have better digestion, feel fuller, and generally operate at your best.
• If you want to look, perform and feel better, start juicing. Fruits and vegetables are vital to your health and appearance.
If there are only two things you take from this guide, this should be one of them (along with drinking more water).
• Base your diet around the following foods (taken from ‘The Warrior 20’ by Martin Rooney):
Lean meats and poultry
Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower etc)
Nuts (and natural nut butters)
Seeds (hemp, chia etc)
• Don’t drink more than one caffeine containing drink per day. Too much caffeine overstimulates your nervous system and will make you stressed, anxious, and unable to sleep.
• Breakfast is a personal preference, but if you do eat it, you should have some kind of protein. It doesn’t matter that much if it’s from eggs or a healthy protein shake, just try to get some in.
• Try to get your calories and macronutrients from ‘real food’ rather than supplements. However, if like me you find it hard to get your daily requirements from solid foods, you can go for a protein shake.
Bulk Powders is a brand that I trust (their shakes are tasty too).
Use your protein shake after strength training workouts and stick to the minimum recommended dose. Protein helps repair and rebuild your muscles after hard resistance workouts.
(If you don’t have a Bulk Powders account, you can sign up and use my referral code to get a discount off your first order over £15. Code = MT150232.)
• Eggs are a tremendous source of protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. Include them any way you can.
• Most cereals (and cereal bars) are full of garbage that will make you fat. Check very carefully what you’re eating.
• Most multivitamins are unnecessary. Juice instead.
• If you live in the UK, there’s a significant chance you’re deficient in Vitamin D. Get tested by your GP now!
There are studies suggesting that people deficient in Vitamin D3 have bigger waists and more body fat, as well as numerous other health problems.
Vitamin D3 is hard to get in sufficient amounts from foods, so I suggest taking a combined Vitamin D, K1, and calcium supplement every day (this combination leads to better utilisation).
• Drop the fizzy drinks – they include too much sugar and will rot your teeth.
• If you drink fruit juice, you have it at the same time as your meal. This will dampen the effects of the high sugar content (so it doesn’t get absorbed as quickly).
• As a rule, all of your main meals should include some form of protein.
Eating a meal consisting solely of carbs + fat is a recipe to fatness!
For example, toast with butter &/or jam is a no no. The bread is made up of carbs, the butter is mostly fat.
Grilled chicken breast and brown rice would be an example of a good meal (grilled chicken contains lots of protein, brown rice has good carbs).
• Where you can, replace white carbs with brown ones. Brown carbs are generally better for you than white carbs.. brown rice, brown pasta, brown bread etc.
• The best time to eat carbs is slightly before and just after your workout. You need carbs before to give you energy. You need carbs after to replace that energy.
• Shakes can be an excellent way to fuel your performance in the gym. The perfect pre-workout shake is taken about 30-60 minutes before training and consists of:
1 scoop protein powder (chocolate is good :))
1 fist of veggies (I use spinach)
1-2 cupped handfuls of carbs (natural date syrup and a frozen banana are my preferred ones)
1 thumb of fats (I use a small amount of natural peanut butter)
Low-calorie beverage like water or unsweetened almond milk (Almond milk for me).
(The above was taken from the Precision Nutrition website)
• Don’t cut carbs out – eat ‘just enough’.
For example, if you’re eating rice and chicken, eat just enough rice to make the chicken taste good. Just because lots of rice came with your meal, it doesn’t mean you have to to finish it all.
• Use healthy oils such as olive oil to cook your food in.
• Grill rather than fry where possible.
• “If man made it, don’t eat it” – Jack LaLanne.
It goes without saying that ready made meals are not healthy! Even if it says ‘low fat’, they usually compensate for this by adding crap in.
• If you’re a man and need to cut alot of body fat, use intermittent fasting. If you’re a woman and want to try intermittent fasting, go for a shorter fast such as 14/10.
• Stay away from the obviously ‘bad’ foods like fried chicken, cake, etc except for one evening per week. They’re fine as a weekly cheat but nothing more.
• Don’t starve yourself or miss meals. Severe calorie restriction diets often lead to your body holding onto excess body fat. This is a good way to relapse and put on MORE fat than you originally had!
• Alcohol is one of the biggest predictors of a stubborn gut that I’ve seen as a coach so far. Heavy drinkers usually have a very difficult time removing belly fat.
• The best diet is the one you can stick to. You don’t have to eat boiled chicken and asaparagus every day.. urghhh.
Start healthy and gradually introduce some of your favourite ‘unhealthy’ foods back in once you get a grip on healthy nutrition.
• Make small changes at a time. Don’t go into monk mode straight away. If you can change one small thing every week, that’s a success.
Of course, these rules are not hard and fast. Situations vary from person to person.
For 95% of people however, these guidelines will have a huge impact on health and physique when coupled with the right training.
And remember – you can’t out-train a bad diet!
Hope this helps.
To train effectively, you really don’t need too many pieces of equipment.
However, there are a few small items which can supercharge the quality of your workouts, and are portable and affordable. Just keep them in your gym bag or locker and use them any time you need to.
Please note – I only recommend items I personally use and believe in. Anybody who trains with me or has seen my own training knows I use all these items (apart from the girly gloves)!
Resistance bands are basically very large elastic bands that can be used for a variety of purposes.
The best part about mini-bands is that they are portable and very versatile – perfect for using at home, on holiday, and any time you have limited access to equipment. They can be used for pull-ups, push-ups, tricep pushdowns, and many other exercises.
41 inch Iron Woody mini resistance band (for beginners, band pull-aparts)
41 inch Iron Woody super-mini resistance band (for advanced trainees, band pull-aparts)
41 inch Iron Woody medium resistance band (for pull-ups)
Skipping is a timeless proven method for burning fat, improving fitness, and developing co-ordination.
Plus, it’s alot more fun than going on a treadmill or elliptical machine.
Once again, you can use a jump rope pretty much any time, anywhere. There’s a reason that world-class boxers throughout history have jumped rope to prepare for world title fights.
Boxing gloves and wraps
Still on the boxing theme, I trained in boxing for about 2 and a half years and I can attest to just how effective it is for losing weight and getting in superb shape quickly.
(After sprinting, boxing is one of the best fat loss methods in the game.)
You don’t have to become Muhammad Ali, but simply hitting a bag is a great start.
Learning how to hit pads is even better as you have to react to a real life stimulus – you will get super fit, powerful, and learn some new skills in the process.
Get some good gloves that last you a long time rather than cheap ones from Sports Direct that tear after a couple of months. I like the RDX brand and I currently have a pair myself. Adidas is pretty good too.
Hand wraps are also really important as you may develop cracked knuckles and torn skin without them.The wraps also help to support the wrist while punching hard!
RDX boxing gloves (either 10oz or 12oz in size)
RDX boxing gloves (cool blue colour!)
RDX boxing gloves (women version)
The Gymboss is a fantastic piece of equipment for interval training.
You can use it to time your work and rest periods and because it is so lightweight you won’t even notice it while you’re sprinting, boxing, and doing any other type of conditioning.
This is a huge advantage over clunky mobile phones which are usually annoyingly big and fiddly. Simply clip the Gymboss to your clothing and it will buzz and vibrate once it’s time to work or rest.
Whattup people, Mustafa here.
This past weekend, I have just returned from Slovenia where I had the pleasure of participating in a Martin Rooney workshop.
Martin is the founder of Training For Warriors and one of the greatest speakers I’ve ever had the chance to hear live.
Aside from learning lots of dope stuff that I’ll use in my training plans, Martin has an awesome ability to inspire and motivate.
If I only had one thing to take away from that weekend, it’s that the ability to maintain motivation is king.
Without motivation, there are no results.
So now I’ll discuss how to get (and stay) motivated.
In today’s digital age, you can buy pretty much anything you want. Toys, drugs, plane tickets.. even mail order brides. It’s all available at the click of the button.
There are some things however that money can’t buy.
Some things they don’t sell on Amazon.
One of those things is motivation.
If you go to any commercial gym in the world, there’s usually only a small group of people who train hard.
This group usually compromises about 10% of the gym members, and they train like machines.
Like the T1000 in Terminator 2, they keep going no matter what gets thrown at them.
When they don’t feel like going to the gym, they still go. And they go hard.
That leaves the other 90%.
They only turn up ‘when they feel like it’. And when they do, their workouts suck. They don’t train with any intensity. They don’t have a plan.
You can see the boredom etched across their face in every crunch they do.
At the first sign of muscle soreness or discomfort, they quit. They make excuses.
But what’s the difference between the 10% and the rest? Are they born with the motivation to train?
Some people just seem to be born with an aptitude for sports and exercise. It comes natural to them.
On the other hand, some people grow up avoiding sporting pursuits because they feel out of place or awkward.
Yes, it’s true. Some people are more ‘sporty’ than others.
God made us in different forms. We all have our unique gifts.
However, just because you don’t seem to be endowed with natural athleticism, it doesn’t mean you can’t train hard and develop what you were born with.
Humankind was designed to move, exercise, and work hard.
We were not designed to sit in cubicles, drink beer, and watch Netflix all night. Exercise comes natural to our species.
The first homo-sapiens certainly did not sit around doing nothing all day. They had to work for their survival.
(I’m listening to the Gladiator soundtrack right now and this sh*t has all me all fired up).
One of the basic ways you can start reclaiming your primal gifts is to start sprinting. It couldn’t be more simple, doesn’t require equipment, and it will get you in the shape of your life.
Talk is cheap.
I’m sure we all know people who start working out, post a few motivational quotes on their social media feed, and two months later they’ve fallen off the wagon.
I’m just as guilty. We make excuses, we procastinate.. and we end up just the same as we were.
So how do we cultivate the motivation needed to train hard?
One of the best ways is to surround yourself with other highly motivated people.
If all your friends train hard and are part of the 10%, you too will eventually start to do the same. You’ll become part of that 10% too.
And when you combine this with a having defined goal or event, you become even more powerful.
You become unstoppable.
As an example, look at the story of my client and friend, Ben (@hunterofficial1 on Instagram).
Ben was an amateur boxer as a youth but took a very long time away from training. He started training again only recently, but he’d probably be the first to admit he wasn’t training at full intensity.
However, 12 weeks ago he managed to set a date for an amateur bout – June 20th.
We’ve been in training since that time and I can honestly say that I’ve never seen anyone work harder or more ferociously than Ben.
As soon as the fight date was set, Ben’s whole mindset and attitude became that of a warrior.
No missed training sessions. No moaning. Full concentration. Never say die attitude.
He’s going to war. Warriors need to be ready to fight.
I’m not saying you have to arrange a fight – your event could be anything.
You might have a football tournament coming up. You might be going to the beach in a month. You might want to run a 100 m sprint in under 12 seconds. You might want to look good at your wedding.
(In my opinion though, when it comes to physique goals, you should also try to build some sort of performance goal into it. That way the gym doesn’t turn into a grind.)
Without an event to train for, you may end up just drifting in the wind.. or even worse, jogging on the treadmill.
Having an event to train for will light a fire inside you and give you a reason to persist through even the most difficult challenges.
So who are you? What is your event?
Football was my first love. I used to get butterflies thinking about her. I used to plan my whole week around her. I’d sit there visualising what I’d do when I finally got my hands (or feet) on her.
Sadly, although she was my first, the love, the lust.. it’s gone. She’s just not that exciting any more. She got fat, frumpy, and nags all the time. I need to be free..
All metaphors aside, my knees have really started to take a pounding from years of playing on astroturf. I run hard and I run alot. That takes a huge toll on the joints, especially the knees.
I need a break from football, something new to perk my interest. (I’ll be back though.. I always come back to her).
So where to go from here?
As you know, I’m all about athleticism. Working out and hitting the weights is great, but that’s only part of the puzzle for me.
If I’m lifting weights, I want it to benefit me in some way other than just looking good. Being a meathead is out of the question, not to mention extremely boring.
Back in 2011 my gym was running a boxercise class so I joined out of curiosity. I was hooked immediately.
My conditioning during this period of boxing was phenomenal. I was playing for my university football team at the time (full back) and I was up and down the pitch like a horse for the whole 90 minutes. Insane stamina and explosive lung capacity.
Boxing is a fartlek type sport, with longer periods of low intensity aerobic type activity punctuated by short bursts of explosive punching. You get the best of both worlds. Plus it’s exciting and effective. If you only do low intensity cardio, you suck tbh.
Although boxercise was a great way to get started, it didn’t quite satisfy my bloodlust. There’s nothing more instinctual to a man than violence and combat. Mortal combat. You vs another man. “If he dies, he dies” and all that jazz.
Eventually I joined a full on boxing class and began sparring. The fear and adrenaline I used to get before going toe-to-toe with another man is something I’ve never been able to get anywhere else. I hated it but I loved it.
Floyd Mayweather I was not, but I was a student of the game and was always improving.
Eventually however, I stopped sparring. Although I love the sport, I wasn’t willing to risk my brain cells (or looks) for something that wasn’t paying my bills.
I still shadow box and hit the bag to keep me sharp and in decent condition, but it’s just not the same.
But now, three years removed from boxing, I feel it’s time to start experimenting with another type of combat sport just for the hell of it.
There are lots of options out there because of the rise of MMA gyms in London. Muay Thai is one of those options.
While I respect Muay Thai as a sport, it’s just not for me. Boxing is a precise science and that’s part of the reason I love it so much. Muay Thai seems too random and unstructured, plus I hate those little shorts they wear.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is another interesting one, and I’ve taken a few classes before and really liked it. However, I don’t like the lack of striking in jiu-jitsu, so I decided to put it on the shelf.
However, after much research, I stumbled upon something new, so without further ado I’d like to share my experience with Krav Maga.
Krav Maga is something I’ve read alot about online (I’m sure you have too). Lots of people claim it to be the most effective combat self-defense system in the world.
Guy tries to headbutt you? He’s going down. Man pulls out a shank? Fool’s getting disarmed. Bold claims for sure.
The more I read about it, the more curious I got, so I booked an induction with a well known Krav Maga teaching institution in central London. (Cost me 30 squid.)
(By the way, Krav Maga is not actually a martial art. It’s a self defense system – don’t ask me what the difference is.)
Before I tell you about the session and what I learned, I just want to clarify one thing.
I had many reservations about trying Krav Maga, because it’s an Israeli combat system. It’s currently used by the IDF in their occupation of Palestine. I am completely against this occupation.
However, I don’t feel there’s any harm in trying something new as long as the proceeds don’t go directly towards Israeli oppression of Palestinians. I boycott those companies which build settlements in Palestine and donate money to the state of Israel.
(These guys will probably ban me from their classes after reading this, but oh well. I’ll just do BJJ instead. See www.bdsmovement.net for more info on which companies sponsor Palestinian oppression.)
This was a 3 hour induction aimed at beginners, and there was a very mixed bag of people, maybe 60% guys, 40% women, from different backgrounds and varying experience levels.
The instructor started the session with something very cool, one of the tricks we all came for really. With the help of his buddy, he demonstrated how to disarm a knife attack. (Rubber knife, don’t watch that).
Although we know it’s not as simple as that in a real life situation, he made it look easy. With constant repetition and drilling, I’m sure it would be very effective.
After some warm up and technical demonstrations, we were split into pairs to practice.
Among other things, we were shown:
At first glance, much of this stuff seemed quite basic, but what Krav Maga does is refine it so that you can drill it over and over until it truly becomes instinctual.
What I loved about the techniques is that it that they are all practical. No fancy techniques that only work in Jackie Chan movies – this is all real life stuff. Plus it’s dirty, all out street fighting.
The world can be a nasty place, especially London. You never know what kind of scumbag is going to approach you carrying some kind of weapon. Krav Maga is a way to level the playing field.
I’ve got into a few scraps here and there, and one thing I’ve always been conscious of is getting headbutted. I’m cringing at the thought of it.
Krav Maga has the answer to this and more. Practicing with a partner, you’ll throw kicks, elbows, palms, claws, and punches at a large pad or a ball.
My knuckles were absolutely torn to shreds by the end of the 3 hour session. (I wore plasters over them for two days after to look like a G.)
Although this was a beginners session (hence may not be a fully accurate view of ‘true’ Krav Maga training), I felt there wasn’t enough emphasis on how to punch properly. This is partly due to the fact that there’s so much other stuff you have to learn.
I’m lucky I’ve done boxing before, so I know how to throw a good punch effectively with either hand. If you’re only doing Krav Maga, in my opinion, you need to focus some time on how to punch properly if you really want to be deadly.
In terms of the conditioning aspect, in my opinion KM won’t get you into great shape.
This is not like boxing where everything is done in 2 or 3 minute rounds to simulate the rounds of a fight. KM mainly consists of drilling techniques and then ‘free’ fighting with an opponent to practice. (I could be wrong however, as again, this was merely an induction).
In any case, I would do KM merely for the techniques, and add conditioning in elsewhere. Heavy weights + fartlek or high intensity training + Krav Maga = absolute beast.
The great thing about KM is that pretty much everyone can do it, regardless of strength and size. A lot of it is simply about knowing where and when to strike, and how to use momentum. Those kinds of things can be learned regardless of your physical attributes.
I think I will definitely be doing some more Krav Maga classes in the future just to see how far I can take it.
Even after just doing the induction, I feel I have some more tools in my locker in case some chicken shop wasteman wants to get brave. Come at me bro. Highly recommend.
My commiserations, fat man. What do you plan to do about it?
My friend told me about Insanity and I’ve seen all the success stories online. I’m gonna get so ripped this summer!
You might do. But it’s not the best course of action, my friend. You have minimal muscle mass, and you have a belly. Not a very alluring combo.Continue reading
I’ve always been fascinated by wildlife and I hold great admiration for their raw strength, power, agility, and grace. I’ve been lucky enough to have been up close to many of these wonderful athletic animals, and I believe we can learn a lot from wildlife and nature about how the world works, even in the ‘civilised society’ we live in today. One of those things animals can teach us a thing or two about, of course, is athleticism.
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