Motivation Archives - Page 2 of 2 - Jump Lift Spirit

Category Archives for Motivation

How To Build a Body You Can Be Proud Of

1. Lift weights 2-4 times a week (depending on your sports schedule).

Choose 2-4 compound exercises or performance indicators and prioritise getting better at them over time.

For example, your indicator exercise for the upper body could be a bench press or overhead press. For the lower body, you could choose a sled push, squat, &/or deadlift.

You could also have some ‘athletic’ performance indicators such as the vertical jump, broad jump, or sprint time over a certain distance.

These indicators keep you honest. If your performance is improving, congrats, your training and nutrition are on point. If not, make some changes.

Right now, my indicators are the squat, bench press, and 20 meter sprint time.

2. Utilise a variety of rep ranges – 3-6, 6-12, 12-20+.

All three of these rep ranges can bring about muscle growth via different mechanisms.

Generally the most intense (heavy) exercise is first in the workout – i.e. the bench press, squat, or deadlift. I’d recommend resting 2-3 between sets minutes depending how strong you are (the stronger you are, the more rest you need).

After your heavy lift, you can speed things up by cutting the rest periods for the remaining exercises and using higher rep ranges. I like using supersets here to save time and get more work done.

I never used to incorporate any higher rep work into my training and wondered why I could not get bigger or put on mass. I was convinced anything over 8 reps would make me stiff as Alan Shearer a board.

You can’t go heavy all the time. Especially if you’re naturally a skinny ectomorph like me.

Not only does it put a lot of stress on the joints and nervous system, but some exercises are just not built for low reps. Doing a bicep curl for a heavy 5 reps would wreak havoc on your elbows. That’s an exercise where you’d bump up the reps and look for a pump.

Only when I started incorporating 10+ reps on certain exercises did I start to see significant muscle growth. I didn’t turn into a stiff bodybuilder as I’d originally feared. The key is to use a variety of rep ranges but to build it on the foundation of strength.

3. Include unconventional exercises and different planes of movement.

Cossack squats or lateral plank walks are good ones. These are easy to ‘sneak’ into your warm-up or in the finisher somewhere. They keep you mobile, healthy and ready for any athletic endeavour.

4. Do some kind of heavy carry at the end of most of your workouts.

Not only will this improve your grip strength, it’ll double up as core training and help bulletproof you against injuries. They are horrible but very important. Doing these with a partner can actually make them fun – compete to see who can carry the most weight or complete the most laps (just make sure you’re not doubled over like a hunchback).

5. Perform a couple of short high intensity ‘finishers’ every week.

I don’t particularly enjoy doing conditioning work, but a short metabolic finisher at the end of a workout is so much more bearable than doing a whole session of boooring ‘cardio’.

My staples are battle rope and sled finishers – but be sure to mix it up if you want to stay lean. The key to fat loss is VARIETY!

Try this as a starting point. 20 seconds work, 20 seconds rest.

a) Mountain climbers

b) Squat jump

c) Battle ropes

d) Bear crawl.

Repeat twice over. Thank me later.

6. Use your warm-up to address your weak points.

If you need to do rotator cuff rehab/pre-hab stuff etc, here is the place to do it. Carry your mini-band with you and use it regularly.

7. Stay active on the other days you’re not training.

Football games, mobility, dynamic stretching, going for a walk, light jog etc.

8. Train the backside of your body as much, if not more than the front side.

This is important for looking balanced, staying injury free and becoming a better athlete.

9. Know when to back off.

Not every session has to look like the apocalypse. Some days you need to go easier. You still get the training in but just don’t go all out. Believe it or not, that’s ok.

10. Supplement appropriately.

Vitamin D3 and high strength omega 3 capsules are my favourite supplements. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a number of health conditions, while omega-3 is probably the most important supplement for overall well-being and health.

Branched chain amino-acids (BCAAs) are also a staple of mine. They’re good for people looking to cut body fat and maintain muscle, but equally as excellent for people looking to put on size.

Sip 5-10g before and during workouts. You can also sip them during your days-off to top up your ‘amino acid pool’ and keep feeding your muscles.

Here’s a video you can watch of my client Raph doing some of the things outlined above in a lower body session.

Boom.

‘Sprint’ mini-documentary

Marks…… set……. go!

For regular Jump Lift Sprint readers, you already know exactly how much I love sprinting (click the link for some compelling reasons why you should be doing them!).

For the last year, myself and a friend have been hitting the sprint track together regularly. It started as us wanting to improve our sprint times and shake up our training a little.

Later on, a friend joined our sessions and two became three.

Soon after, three turned to four.

Our sprint sessions take place every Saturday morning, usually quite early. Being honest, none of us really enjoy waking up at that time (apart from my friend Kash who is like the Duracell Bunny when it comes to energy).

What compels us to wake up at 6-7 am when we don’t really have to?

For me, it’s not just about wanting to train (though I certainly do enjoy that). It’s also about spending time with people who push me harder than I would go alone, who can teach me new things, and who are at or above my level in some ways.

I’m lucky to have a good group of guys I connect with in this way. If you don’t currently have that, it can be as simple as finding a motivating training partner or friends who accept that you don’t want to get hammered at the club every weekend. Maybe it’s just a friend that always sends you links to fitness articles or videos on Whatsapp. That’s still good.

I’m not suggesting you cut off anyone who invites you out to a dessert lounge or isn’t into fitness. Having fun is important for your soul – it can’t always be about ‘clean eating’ and ‘hardcore training’!

Rather, I just want to emphasise how crucial your environment is in guiding the direction of your life.

Find your tribe.

In this little documentary put together by my friend Hussein (www.h-edits.com), we delve deeper into why we sprint.

How To Get Over The Fear of The Gym

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.

Why?

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.

 

 


Get a PT.

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.


Make friends.

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.

Unless you’re 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.

Mustafa

Why I Don’t Train Like A ‘Bro’

The other day I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine after an excellent upper body workout (PR achieved!).

We were discussing our training goals and why we train.

Both of us agreed that attaining a well-built physique was definitely one of the priorities.

However, where we differed is that while my friend is striving purely for an aesthetic body (with not much thought for strength or athleticism), for me, that idea is unthinkable.

Let me explain.

Most people get into training to change their bodies. Bodybuilders are extreme versions of this.

All their training is geared towards attaining the most muscular and visually appealing bodies as possible (whether it’s actually attractive is a debate for another time). Put simply, attributes such as strength and overall athleticism are completely irrelevant in the mind of a bodybuilder.

On the other hand, look at a performance athlete such as a boxer. The main goal of their training is to become the best boxer they can be – faster, stronger, and better conditioned than the opponent. A killer.

For the boxer, the aesthetic side of things is a mere afterthought (although it probably is still important to many, for sure).

I’m neither the bodybuilder nor the boxer, but I want elements of both. I will never be Mr Olympia nor win the WBO welterweight championship, and I’m good with that.

Though I desire an attractive physique, equally as important is to be the most powerful version of my self; fast and strong with a great engine and a python-like grip.

Why?

Most deep desires are born out of deep insecurity.

It may be an ego thing, but when I am playing a game of football or running sprints, I have to be the fastest, most athletic and most powerful. I don’t want to be beaten.

It might sound ‘arrogant’ to some, but if you’re a man (or very competitive woman) who grew up playing sports, you will know exactly what I mean. All my closest friends are the same.

Not just that – but deep down, it’s about survival. I want to know that I can protect myself, my family.

That’s why I try to strike a balance between athleticism and physique. It would be easy to train like a bodybuilder, use lots of machines, and neglect mobility, power, or heavy strength training. But as a man, I can’t. It just doesn’t feel right.

Now some of you might be baffled or offended. Am I saying that bodybuilders are easy to kill, or weak?

No, not necessarily. There are lots of very strong and well conditioned bodybuilders, far stronger and more athletic than myself.

But there are also lots of outwardly muscular ‘bros’ who are not very strong or mobile, and are pretty much all ‘show’ and no ‘go’ (as Joe Defranco so eloquently puts it).

Admittedly, I have let my conditioning drop somewhat significantly in the past few months as I am increasing my strength, but I’m fairly sure it’s better than 90% of the people I’ll encounter in any situation. I’ll get it it up again.

So how do you strike the balance between aesthetics and athleticism?

Here are a few guidelines:

– Do either a full body or upper/lower split – avoid body part splits.
– Don’t spend more than one hour training.
– Have a good warm-up and include some mobility work.
– Start every session with a few sets of a jump, throw, or sprint (all power movements).
– Your first lift of the day should usually be heavy (3-6 reps, this builds strength).
– The rest of the exercises should be slightly higher reps (for more muscle building purposes).
– Do not wear gloves or straps (this helps builds up your grip, plus gloves are kind of lame).
– Include heavy carries at the end of your session to build up grip strength and conditioning.
– Do some kind of conditioning work at least 2 days a week.
– Most importantly, jump, lift, sprint!!!

Hope that helps guys

Mustafa

18 Things I’ve Learned About Training & Life

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!

  • Good warm-ups make decent workouts great ones. Plus they make your workouts better over time as the effects add up over months and years. I can squat better than I ever have after improving my warm-ups (stronger and better technique).
  • If you’re skinny and want to build muscle, you need to forget about having ripped abs for a while.. just eat quality foods, all day long (especially carbs).
  • If you want to grow a lagging body part, hit it twice or even three times a week for a few weeks.. volume and frequency is the key.
  • Upper back training will improve your bench press strength. I started doing 60-100 band pull-parts every day and feel much more solid in my upper back, translating to a stronger foundation for bench pressing.

 

  • Slow and steady is better than fast and transient. This applies to strength gains, skill acquisition, muscle building, fat loss, and pretty much anything else you can think of.
  • Having a (good) training partner or coach can be the difference between success and failure. My best sessions have been with a good training partner or coach driving me to get out of my comfort zone & stop being a sissy.
  • You must have a few ‘indicator exercises’ that you use to measure your progress over time. If you’re getting better at these exercises, you know your training is going in the right direction. Some good indicator exercises choices are: vertical jump height, number of consecutive pull-ups, deadlift, squat, bench, 40 meter sprint, etc. Make them relevant to your goals.
  • Form is absolutely everything. Drop the ego and start practicing good form if you want to get the most out of your training (unless you’re training for maximal strength where 100% perfect form is not always possible).
  • Eating before training makes a huge difference. In a nutshell, if you want to get stronger and bigger, fuel up properly before training.
  • Consistency is by far the biggest indicator of success in any athletic or life endeavour. As Woody Allen said ’80% of success is just showing up’. Don’t put off a training session just because you’re not feeling 100% – just get it done.
  • Very few people actually do what they say they will do. Very few. Be one of those people who commits to doing something and does not stop until it’s completed.
  • Being cheap is a sure fire way to make no progress in life. If you’re too cheap to pay for expertise, expect to stay stuck where you are. If someone has expertise you’d like to acquire – pay for it! It’ll benefit you in the long run.
  • Listen to your body, it’ll tell you when it needs a week off.
  • Hydration makes a massive difference. Strength, alertness, technique, endurance. Drink at all times!
  • Most novices simply need to hit the big lifts every week and get stronger. Simple but effective.
  • There are no absolutes. Nothing will work 100% of the time.. including everything I’ve said here.
  • Do something to get you out of your comfort zone now and again (I competed in a boxing match.. one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done).

That’s it guys. Hit me up for personal training and coaching enquires below:

—-> Training enquiries

How I Trained For My Boxing Fight

So 2015 is over, and a new year is upon us.

So much has happened – good, bad, and everything in between.

For myself, it was a positive year. I achieved certain goals of mine, but fell up short on others. One of the goals I did achieve was to fight in and win my first boxing match!

While I’ve helped boxers prepare for fights before, I never had to prepare for one myself. During the training, I learned a lot about the required physical preparation.

This post will go over the training side of things (the nutrition and mental aspect of training will have to be for another day, this post is long as hell already).

The first thing most people think of when it comes to boxing training is Sly Stallone in Rocky. Punching raw meat, training in the snow, drinking raw eggs, all that jazz. (I’ve done one of them =/).

While there’s definitely wisdom in the old school way, it doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways.

So while I did draw on the traditional boxing conditioning staples, I always try to incorporate more modern methods into my training too. I referred heavily to ‘Ultimate MMA Conditioning’, a book by the excellent strength and conditioning coach, Joel Jamieson. His methods force us to re-think the traditional ideas, and they’re all backed by science. (I highly recommend grabbing a copy of his book).

The most important thing about training, whether it’s for a fight or not, is having a plan and sticking to it. So once the fight date was confirmed I planned a 10 week schedule. I knew what I was going to be training at what stage of camp. I decided on a strict routine of 6 days on, 1 day off (my rest and cheat day being Sunday).

Initially, I was training twice per day. However this soon caught up with me and by week six I was absolutely destroyed.

I knew then that I needed to reduce the volume of work and focus more on quality and rest. Though you can get away with training twice a day for a little while, eventually it will catch up with you. 

(Note: About 6 weeks into training I had to rearrange the fight date to a week earlier. This gave me 9 weeks instead of 10, but didn’t really affect my plan much.)

In terms of weight, I started off at about 71.5 – 72 kg and easily got down down to 68 kg within a month or so. At 68 kg I felt my most mobile and speedy.

I didn’t do anything crazy apart from clean up my diet a little, drink more water, and do some form of physical activity every day (usually shadowboxing).

Small changes in your daily activity add up to huge changes in your physique over weeks and months.

Weeks 9 – 1

Boxing

Now, given that I was preparing for a boxing match, the one thing that was constant throughout the training was… drumroll… boxing. To improve at your sport you must regularly practice that sport.

Every day I did at least one session of shadowboxing.

In addition to this I went to the boxing gym twice a week where I got in quality sparring and an intense boxing session (bags, shadow, bodyweight exercises, and padwork).

In the first 6 or so weeks of training I sparred mainly 1 minute rounds, some rounds being ‘jabs only’ and more technical in nature. As we edged closer to the fight, the sparring got more intense and we started working in 2 minute rounds (the time of a round in a competitive match).

Weeks 9 – 5

Aerobic conditioning + Strength training

The aerobic energy system is the one that allows us to maintain longer duration sporting efforts (such as running a long distance race). In recent years, many people (including myself) shitted on aerobic training, labelling it as useless and only for marathon runners. 

While it is true that most ‘regular’ people do way too much slow, long distance cardio, it’s value should not be overlooked. A well developed aerobic system is extremely important – it’s the foundation upon which all other types of cardiovascular fitness must be built (for most sports anyway). 

In boxing, aerobic conditioning gives you the ‘legs’ to last 3 rounds (or 12 in the pro game).

One of the images forever associated with boxing is that of the lonely fighter in a hoodie running the streets at 5 am, aka ‘roadwork’. There’s something romantic about doing roadwork that people are drawn to.

While roadwork has an important role in developing aerobic conditioning, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Joel Jamieson proposes that similar results can be achieved by doing ‘aerobic circuits’ instead of roadwork (without the joint impact and repetitive nature of running the streets).

These aerobic circuits should last between 30-90 minutes. You do 10-15 minutes of a specific exercise before moving on to the next one. They key to these sessions is staying within a heart rate range of 120-150 bpm, which you can measure with a heart rate monitor (I used the Polar Heart Rate Monitor).

If you work outside these ranges, you are working different energy systems (or not hard enough to stimulate any changes at all).

A sample aerobic circuit could consist of any of the following exercises: 

  • Bodyweight exercises
  • Skipping
  • Shadow boxing
  • Light bag work
  • Jogging
  • Med ball drills
  • Versa climber
  • Rower

I did these aerobic sessions about twice per week for the first 4 weeks.

In the first four weeks I also carried on lifting weights ( boxing coaches will either tell you not to do weights, or do them completely wrong).

The weight training was of very low volume. I didn’t want to compromise my recovery in any way so I did one session per week cut consisting of one push, one pull, and one lower body exercise. At the end I’d do some traps and neck training (super important for anyone involved in combat sports).

5 weeks out, I dropped the lifting. Maximal strength lasts about a month, so I knew I’d maintain most of it come fight time. All I did was a tiny amount of upper back, posterior chain, and neck work until fight night.

Weeks 7 – 4

Sprints

Aerobic training helps to prepare the body for the rigours of harder training, so after a couple of weeks I introduced sprints into my program.

Sprinting develops (and relies upon) the anaerobic system (meaning ‘without oxygen’). The anaerobic system is heavily utilised during power events, such as a 40m sprint.

In a boxing context, aerobic fitness gives you the ‘stamina’, while anaerobic power enables you to hurt your opponent with fast combinations and powerful punches.

I made sure to include sprints twice per week, either at the track or on the treadmill. After just a couple of weeks I noticed a huge increase in my conditioning (but don’t make the same mistake I did by sprinting in the morning and sparring in the evening.. I got busted up!).

By the last week of sprint training (4 weeks out), I was doing 12 sprints of about 30 seconds on an incline, full speed. I would rest very briefly and go again.

Weeks 4 – 1

Exclusively boxing

Around 4 weeks out, I used boxing as the exclusive method of conditioning.

No more strength training, sprinting, jogging, or anything else. Now that I had a very good base of general conditioning, I channeled it into the boxing training.

The whole point of conditioning is to allow you to express your skill, not to get better at conditioning drills. 

The intensity of the training began to increase and I did alot of ‘lactic drills’. Anybody who’s done boxing classes before knows exactly what these are. Think ‘punch out’ drills, where you have to push through the pain as the acid burns inside your shoulders.

Weeks 2 – 1

Fight Pace

All the training from here on kicks up to highest level possible (so does the pain). All the padwork, bag work, and sparring is performed as if it were a real fight.

Training volume should not be over done in this time, and towards the end of the week the sessions should get shorter in duration, focusing on quality over quantity.

By now you should feel pretty much ready to fight. I felt extremely sharp, fast, and powerful during this period, more so than at any other time during the process.

Final Week

Taper

I had one final padwork session and spar on the Monday before the fight (which was on Saturday).

The rest of the week I shadowboxed at a low/moderate intensity for about 20 minutes each day. This is the time to back off. The training has been done now. It’s all about rest and relaxation. (You should still have 1 or 2 moderate intensity sessions, to ensure you don’t start losing fitness).

I got a massage, looked after my nutrition and slept, alot. The waiting was the most painful part. i just wanted to fight. All you can do from here on is strategise and visualise.

On fight night I felt amazing. My condition was exactly what I needed it to be. 

(In the third round however, I got caught off-guard with a few big shots and the psychological pressure got to me, temporarily gassing me out. 

I managed to regain my wind and finished the job though). 

Physical condition is EVERYTHING in a sport such as boxing. If you haven’t prepared properly, you will get found out. 

Remember the saying by legendary American football coach Vince Lombardi:

Fatigue makes cowards of us all 

He was absolutely right.

Me in my fight

13 Lessons I Learned From Training For A Fight

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.

IMG-20151205-WA0019

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.

1. Consistency is the key to success

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.

 

2. Become obsessed

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.

 

3. Take action now

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.

 

4. Surround yourself with positive people

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.

5. Boxing will quickly destroy unwanted fat

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.

6. Find yourself a great coach

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.

7. Visualise the outcome you want

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?

8. What you focus on is what you become

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.

9. Stick to the fundamentals

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.

10. Diet makes a difference.

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.

11. Everything in moderation

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.

 

12. Get yourself a proper training plan

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).

13. Go all in

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%.

The end.

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!

7 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight

1. You’re not working out often enough

If you are new to working out, even 1 session a week will help. In the beginning, any physical activity is an improvement on nothing.

If, however, you’ve been training for more than a month, anything less than 3 hard workouts a week isn’t going to cut it my friend.

3 days is the minimum. 4 days is better.

2. You work out too often

On the flipside – some people go to the gym too often.

There are people who work out 6-7 days a week, and 3-4 months later have made little to no progress.

How can someone hit the gym so often yet not improve?

Well, one potential reason is that what they are doing lacks intensity. Texting or watching animals humping on an Ipad is not training. (True story, I have actually seen a man watching a video of animals humping while on the treadmill.. we live in strange times).

Another problem with working out too often relates to cortisol.

Cortisol is a perfectly normal hormone that we all produce. When we exercise, it increases for a little while and then goes away. However, cortisol is only supposed to be produced for short periods – not hang around our bodies for long amounts of time.

When you train too much, cortisol levels remain elevated for long periods. This is not normal, and can actually cause fat gain and muscle loss.

Yep, working out too often can increase fat gain and muscle loss.

This is not to mention a whole number of other potential health problems, such as cognitive and immune system issues.

Chronic anxiety, stress, and insufficient sleep are other factors that may contribute to high cortisol levels.

When you tell people that working out too often may be detrimental to their goals, they often point to people like Arnold Schwarzenegger, who, in his prime, trained for 2 hours, twice a day, 6-7 days a week.

What they fail to acknowledge however, is that Arnold was a great athlete who was taking highly potent anabolic steroids.

(There’s no doubt that you can train twice a day, but you must build up to it over a number of years, you also have to be immaculate with your training management, recovery and nutrition.)

3. You do cardio but neglect weights

Weight training increases your body’s resting metabolic rate. The higher your RMR, the more fat you burn, even while resting.

Therefore, one of the aims of training is always to build muscle and burn fat!

4. You only do one type of cardio

I’m referring to long distance slow cardio here.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time and place for long distance cardio. But it’s certainly not every day, nor is it even three times a week.

Long distance cardio works in the beginning because it creates a calorie deficit (more calories out than in). However, after a while, you hit a plateau.

The scale no longer seems to move. So you start going longer and harder. But still no weight loss. Only more joint pain, persistent colds, and frustration.

If you want to see real progress, you need to step it up and throw in some high intensity training – preferably sprints.

Here are some ideas:

These types of activities create an intense response in your body known as Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption, or the ‘afterburn effect’ in everyday lingo. These activities will help to smash through plateaus.

5. You focus your weight training on small muscle groups (like arms)

Larger muscle groups burn more calories compared to smaller ones.

Compound exercises are those where numerous joints and muscle groups are involved. Isolation exercises only stimulate one muscle at a time.

For example, push-ups train the chest, shoulders, triceps, and abs. Tricep kickbacks only work the triceps.

Which one is superior in terms of activating more muscle (and hence burning more fat)?

Easy, the push-ups.

Stick mainly to compound exercises if you want a more powerful fat-burning effect.

6. Your diet sucks

Fries – bad.

Apples – good.

Green juices – good.

Doughnuts – bad.

Doner kebabs – bad.

Vegetables – good.

TV dinners – bad.

It’s not rocket science. You know what is and isn’t healthy, it’s your job to clean it up.

There are people who go to the gym merely to avoid a feeling of guilt.. and after going, they binge on junk food because they feel they have earned it.

That 1 hour per day in the gym is used to justify poor eating habits in the other 15 or so waking hours. But it won’t work.

There’s a well known saying that ‘you can’t out-train a bad diet’.

As long as you are eating well 90% of the time, you’re doing well in my opinion.

Once you actually get fit, you can break the rules a bit more as your body will have become a finely-tuned fat-burning machine.

Until then, you have to put in some work!

7. You don’t have an event

Why do you want to lose weight? What’s driving you to want to lose it?

Is there a bigger reason than just wanting to look nice?

Do you want to be more confident, or to increase your chances of attracting a partner? What’s behind wanting to look better?

You need to find your reason. It can be aesthetic, performance related, or health related. A good training plan will achieve all three anyway.

Maybe your family has a history of heart disease and you’re worried about your own risk. I have a client who started training with me because she wanted to improve her health after the death of her sister from heart problems.

That’s a powerful reason, one that keeps her consistent and motivated.

For me, I usually focus on performance goals, building mini goals along the way to gauge my progress.

For example, next month I’ll test my strength in the bench press, box squat, and pull-up, as well as my 100 m sprint time. In 3 months time I’ll repeat the process.

8. Unrealistic goals and expectaions

Get-fit-quick, like-get-rich quick, usually fails. But instead of ending up broke – you end up depressed.

Let’s do something patiently instead of looking for the quick fix and I promise your results will be so much better. Longevity is the name of the game.

The picture below represents one of my clients’ progress over a good 4 months. She herself made some of the same mistakes listed above, such as too much long distance cardio.

IMG_20150708_145255

Don’t get suckered into false promises from magazines and youtube marketers. None of that is real. Hard work is.

I’m out.