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I like to play around with different exercises to keep training interesting and prevent the body adapting to what I’m doing.
Doing the same exercise week-in week-out is important, but there also comes a time where your body will no longer react to the exercise the way it once did.
As they say, “there’s no time like the first time”.
That’s where you have to switch it up.
I love all types of single leg lunge movements, but here’s one that you will probably never have seen – the Zercher lunge.
My client Federico is performing this one at during our training in Acton.
As you can see, ‘Zercher’ refers to the position of the barbell – in the crook of the elbows.
Zerchers can be used for squats and even good mornings.
The holding of the bar in this position has three main benefits:
1) Scorches the abs. This one develops a rock solid core you’ll be proud to let your wife touch!
2) Forces you to work your upper back and stay in extension (i.e. better posture during the exercise).
3) Fantastic recruitment of the glutes and quads. Even with a low weight, I felt this one the next day.
Give it a try and let me know how it went.
I can say with 94% certainty that pretty much every guy who has ever stepped in a gym has felt inferior at some point (probably apart from The Rock & Charles Martin).
At one time or another, I and every other guy have thought they were:
You might strongly identify with one, some or all of the above. Sometimes the culture of the gym you go to can influence which one hits you the most.
I have a client who is scared to be seen with me and asks not to go to certain areas of the gym or at certain times because his ‘mates’ will judge him.
While feelings of inadequacy can be normal, they are even worse in the age of social media.
Social media (especially Instagram) has and will continue to destroy the minds of generations to come. It is without a doubt a huge contributing factor to the body image anxiety experienced by many men today.
If I felt I could sustain a business without it, I’d be off it in a flash.
‘Fitness influencers’ and muscle models are set up as idols, paragons of perfection, that we, the proletariat are supposed to aspire to.
These idols are false Gods.
Their power is sustained by photoshop and anabolic steroids (you would never know it though).
Here’s an open secret.. 90% of your favourite male fitness personalities are on steroids.
Hell, I’d say 80% of the biggest and most in-shape guys at your gym are using steroids (again, you would never know).
No matter how many protein shakes and programmes you buy from them, you will never look like them.
Just accept it.
While their feeds are chock-full of posts mentioning their protein supplement, pre-workout, and beast-mode workouts, they will never mention the steroid cycle they used to actually get their results.
These unrealistic (and often unattainable) ideals can cause men to go down the dark route of steroids and it’s numerous, well documented side-effects… including infertility, man boobs and small balls!
(It’s ironic that in the quest to become a superman, you can literally lose your balls.)
I myself have considered going down the steroid route, but always get dissuaded by the long list of dangerous and dramatic side effects.. (I prefer not to have man-boobs if I’m honest).
One way to address this anxiety is to go on a social media ‘detox’.
Unfollow the muscle models.
Unfollow the ‘beast-mode, what’s your excuse?!’ bodybuilding pages.
Get rid of the unrealistic expectations.
Realise that your body will probably never look like a Hollywood actor’s.
They get paid millions of pounds to train and look good. You work in an office in Hammersmith.
Get in the gym. Learn how to train, eat properly and do things the right way.
Keep doing it until you start to see results.
Getting in the gym and actually training might not stop you from having insecurities, but they’ll fade into a background buzz rather than a major anxiety issue.
Using the insecurity as fuel is a healthy way to get rid of it. Instead of mentally masturbating over Simeon Panda’s page, address the weakness.
If you’re not strong enough, lift heavy weights so you can get stronger.
If you’re fat, start intermittent fasting and lifting weights until you’re not fat anymore.
I’ve had numerous clients go from overweight to lean and completely turn around their confidence in every area of life.
(Check my instagram for before-and-afters.. yeah, I know, ironic I use Instagram).
If you feel like the above resonates with you, you’re not alone!
Feel free to message me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or DM me on my instagram account (jumpliftsprint).
Bad posture is a huge problem in this day and age.
We are addicted to mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. ‘I-posture’ is actually a thing now.
Our necks lurch out, our shoulders round forward, and we end up with a terrible hunchback.
Poor posture makes us look shorter and less confident.
As a man making his way through the world, that is the complete opposite of what we want.
We want a lean, powerful physique with a confident demeanour.
Losing fat and lifting weights is a powerful way to achieve this.
Good upright posture maximises our height (especially if we’re not already tall =/) and makes us look stronger and more dominant.
This has far-reaching effects, from being more attractive to women, to looking more intimidating to other men.
We are primates after all, and body language really does matter.
If you suffer from poor posture, here’s a quick prescription for you:
Do more horizontal rowing/pulling than you do pressing/pushing.
Most men do far more pressing than pulling movements.
This tends to cause imbalance around the shoulder (causing injury). It also makes the chest and shoulder muscles more dominant, leading to the rounded shoulder look.
To ensure this doesn’t happen, you need to do more pulling (i.e. cable rows) than pushing movements (such as bench presses or shoulder presses).
Rowing/pulling movements strengthen and build muscle in the upper back muscles (such as the rhomboids and rear delts) which help to counteract poor posture.
That means TRX rows, inverted rows, cable rows, barbell rows, DB rows, the list goes on.
Here are some common examples below.
Single arm DB row
Hope this helps guys
If you’re a man and you want to lose weight, hit me up for online coaching or in person PT based in Acton
Like most people in big cities these days, you are probably busy, distracted and have 1001 things to do.
Work, family, social outings, your side hustle, Netflix… we all have something going on and wish we had more time to fit it all in.
Because of the nature of my job (training clients and taking care of my online coaching business), I’m often left with small pockets in which to actually train and do the thing I encourage other people to do.
It’s easy to make excuses and not use these small pockets to train.
Sometimes I’m so tired from the early starts and late finishes that training is the last thing I want to do.
But the key to progress is always consistency. Acting in spite of thoughts, feelings and emotions.
Something is always better than nothing.
Today I had a 30 minute window in which to train my upper body between clients. Not ideal, but still a decent amount of time in which I could get something done.
I decided to do a short, simple, dense workout. Time-efficient and effective.
I simply picked two big exercises from opposing muscle groups and rotated between them for about 12 minutes (after a thorough warm-up of course).
I chose to pair Viking bar press (6 reps) with seal rows (10 reps). Alternated between the two for time.
You can see the workout below:
When picking these two exercises, stick to somewhat ‘big’ compound movements, not small isolation movements like a bicep curl and a tricep pushdown.
For example, dips paired with a bent over row would be excellent for the upper body. Bicep curls paired with tricep curls would not be the best choice.
If you’re in a time pinch, you need to get the most bang for your buck, and that means working large areas of muscle at one time.
By choosing opposing muscle groups for each exercise, you ensure you don’t overly fatigue a single muscle group, and can work to your maximum in the small time you have.
For example, one ‘push’ movement with a ‘pull’ movement works well.
You also want to make sure you don’t choose a weight too close to your max. If you do, within two or three sets you will be fried. The goal is here to get a lot of volume in (volume drives muscle growth), so reduce the weight slightly so you can do lots of rounds.
For example, if I can do 50 kg overhead press for 3-4 sets of 6 reps, I will drop the weight to 35-40 kg so I can get in as much volume as I can without failing.
Put a timer on and go to work. Don’t feel you have to rush from one exercise to the other, but bear in mind you are working against the clock.
Hit me up on instagram for any questions!
Nothing makes sense in fitness.
Everybody you speak to will tell you something different.
One ‘guru’ promotes one method, while another ‘guru’ is in diametric opposition to it.
We hear 100 different messages every single day, leading to nothing but confusion.
The truth is…. most things in fitness ‘work’.
Low reps work.
High reps work.
Bodyweight exercises work.
Dumbbell exercises work.
Full body splits work.
Body part splits work.
Back squats work.
Goblet squats work.
Low carb works.
Low fat works.
Slow cardio works.
High intensity cardio works.
Here’s the thing, depending on the context, all of it works.
Stop chasing the golden rabbit.
Everybody suffers from information overload.Get advice from ONE person you trust and commit to ONE strategy.
Do it consistently for a minimum of 3 months, preferably 6 months.
If it works, great.
If it doesn’t, at least you learned that it’s not right for you.
But here’s the thing – methods can differ, but principles always remain.
There are some immutable laws of training that will never change.
Following these laws will result in losing fat and building a body that you’re proud of.
The immutable laws of training:
Follow these rules and regardless of your training, you will never go wrong!
I write online training programmes for men who are looking to lose fat and tone up. If you’re interested, click here –> Online training application
Do you need cardio to lose fat?
(I’ve purposely used the phrase ‘lose fat’ as opposed to ‘lose weight’ in the title of this blog – the former is exactly what we want, the latter may be less desirable for reasons outlined later).
Before I start, let’s just clarify the following:
Diet is the main driver of fat loss.
In order for weight loss to occur, you must be in a caloric deficit (A caloric deficit means you are taking in less calories than you are expending (i.e. dieting))
Making sure the quality of the food you eat is good is also of vital importance.
Now with that said, let’s get back to cardio – do you need it to lose fat?
The answer, like most questions in fitness, depends.
I’ve had clients lose fat with minimal cardio, and some who only lost weight once formal cardio was introduced.
I will, however, always stick by the idea that lifting weights is the major key to losing fat, keeping it off, and looking good in the process.
Lifting weights helps preserve muscle tissue.
Dieting of any type puts you at risk of losing fat AND muscle as your body fights for resources.
If this happens, the number on the scale will go down, but you will look ‘soft’ and sloppy. You won’t look good despite having lost weight.
Muscle gives you the toned and sexy look of somebody in shape.
Therefore the aim of any successful weight loss campaign should be to lose fat while keeping muscle.
Now let’s not get it twisted, cardio is very good for you from a health perspective. No doubt about that. It is very important actually.
Certain types of cardio are also very fun. I love sprinting, boxing, and playing football. Once the summer starts, I’ll be hitting the hills again.
Boxing, like above, is an excellent form of cardio.
But we are talking about whether it’s necessary for weight loss here, not whether it’s fun or good for you.
The fact is, some people can get away with doing pretty much no cardio, yet have abs all year round. All they do is lift weights and go about their daily lives.
For these lucky people above, there may be several reasons why they can get away with this. They may be genetically blessed. They may have a tightly controlled, clean diet. They may be so active outside the gym that they naturally expend a lot of calories without realising (i.e. walking, moving and standing a lot).
For these guys, cardio is not required to stay lean.
Someone else might be the complete opposite.
They may have poor genetics. They might be eating at Star Chicken every night. They may move less than a slug throughout the day, thus not spending any calories.
These people definitely need cardio.
General guidelines to determine whether you need to do less or more cardio:
(Assuming you are lifting weights at least 3 times a week, as this pretty much covers muscle retention).
The cleaner your diet and the more active you are during your daily life, the less specific ‘cardio’ you need.
The looser your diet and the less active you are during your daily life, the more cardio you need.
If you fall in to the second camp, cleaning up your diet &/or becoming more active in general will start to reduce the amount of cardio you need.
In terms of intensity of cardio you need to do, here are some good guidelines:
The more active you are in the gym (i.e. the more you lift throughout the week), the lower the intensity of cardio you need to perform.
The less active you are in the gym and daily life, the higher the intensity of the cardio you need perform (i.e. interval training). (Of course, you will need to work up to this as it is very demanding).
It’s also worth noting that you both types low and high intensity cardio are important for weight loss and health.
So do you need cardio to lose fat? Look at your diet and lifestyle, then judge from there.
Hope this helps guys
Hit me up for online coaching & or personal training here –> Coaching
It seems like every week I make an Instagram post extolling the benefits of split-stance leg exercises.
(Note: Split-stance exercises refers to exercises where the legs are ‘split’ apart or staggered, such as lunges, reverse lunges, split-squats themselves (current favourite), Bulgarian split-squats etc. They do not refer to the ‘pistol squats’ shown in the picture below).
Along with deadlifts, split-squats are my favourite exercise right now, so it only makes sense to write a long blog post about them.
I rarely see split-stance exercises done by the average gym go-er. When they are, they’re usually performed pretty badly, with lots of lower back arching and quarter reps.
Plus they burn, alot.
The acid build-up in the quads can become excruciating, especially in high rep sets (the Bulgarian split squat is possibly the worst offender of all).
So why would you submit yourself to this torture?
Well first, “only a sucker does not train his legs” according to legendary heavyweight Charles Martin.
Second, see the benefits below:
Doing 10 reps of a split squat on one leg is hard. But doing another 10 on the other leg is even harder.
Effectively, you end up doing double the work you would for a 2-legged exercise like the squat (although yes, the squat would most likely be heavier).
This jacks up your heart rate and gets the blood pumping like crazy, making the exercise very metabolic in nature. Doing it for high reps (8-15 per side) boosts this effect even more.
Plus it’s a bodyweight exercise, much superior to sitting down on a machine when it comes to fat loss.
Both back squats and front squats done heavy enough bother my lower back. I’ve scrapped both from my training.
The weight you can lift with split-squats is obviously lower than you can with a back squat, so there isn’t as much stress on the joints (even when using a barbell on your back).
I only do split-squats now, and the size and strength of my legs are increasing while my lower back still feels great. W all round.
Split-stance exercises are fantastic for sports. We have to remember that most sports are pretty much played in a split-stance (i.e. during running).
Because the legs are split apart, split-squats variations hugely challenge your balance and co-ordination.
Instead of wasting time on Bosu ball squats, spend time getting better and stronger better at split squats. I promise you your balance co-ordination will improvement exponentially. That’s where the real improvements in athleticism come.
Most athletes neglect split-stance exercises for heavy squats, and while heavy squats are brilliant, the benefits they offer in terms of co-ordination are not exactly the same.
Many people have tight, short hip flexors (the muscles at the front of your hip on the top of your thighs).
This can be partly due to a sedentary lifestyle and sitting all day (i.e. in the office, on the couch). Since the body is an inter-connected chain, tightness in the hip flexors can lead to injuries elsewhere.
Split-squat variations are great for stretching the hip flexor of the back leg while strengthening the muscles in the front thigh, making it a great ‘bang for your buck’ exercise.
Split-squats also work the small stabilising muscles in the hips much more than conventional squats. The glute stabilisers in particular are very important for staying healthy – weakness here can lead to problems elsewhere, i.e. the lower back or knees.
Not only this, but imbalances between legs are very common. Big differences in strength between legs can often predict future injuries – so split-stance exercises are an excellent way to address this difference.
(Pro tip: always start your set on your weaker side first).
Here are some common split stance leg exercises you can try out. I always advise mastering form before trying to go too heavy. Form always comes before weight!
Hope this helps guys, contact me on Instagram @jumpliftsprint or via email (email@example.com). Will be releasing a mini-programme for athletes soon too.
In life, we always have things we’re good at and things we’re not so good at. Nobody is perfect in every area.
But to progress in life, we have to address our weak points until they no longer hold us back. If that weak point is something within our control, we can ALWAYS work on it and improve it.
In terms of fitness, everybody has certain body parts/areas they need to work on. If you’re a guy, you may feel your biceps are not big enough or your shoulders aren’t wide enough. Standard thoughts for many guys to be fair.
For years I prioritised training my legs because they were my strength.
I neglected my chest and shoulders because I couldn’t push a lot of weight with them. Instead of addressing the issue and taking matters into my own hands, I allowed my upper body to remain a weakness and an area I wasn’t proud of.
Only recently have I added size and strength by really prioritising this area, which I’ll tell you how to do below.
Let’s use the upper back as an example – you want to fill it out, making it thicker and wider. Here’s how you would go about it.
Pick a compound exercise that works that muscle group (i.e. barbell row shown below).
Aim to get strong as possible in this exercise.
Do this compound movement first in your session, when you can really devote your energy to it.
After doing this first movement, add 3-5 ‘accessory’ exercises into your programme (i.e. cable rows, inverted rows, lat pulldowns, chin-ups etc).
If you don’t already, you can dedicate a whole session purely to this body part (i.e. ‘back day’ or ‘pull day’).
To make the session even more effective, attack this session at the start of the week when you’re freshest.
You can even add in certain back exercises on unrelated training days (I used to superset upper back exercises like face pulls with leg exercises on leg day, as neither exercise interfered with the other).
This helps give you more overall training volume, which is great for increasing size and strength.
Another way of increasing volume is to do more sets of a given exercise. For example, instead of 3 sets of barbell rows, do 4-5. More volume = more muscle growth.
(However, it’s important to bear in mind that too much volume can stress your system, so you have to reduce volume elsewhere temporarily. Doing lots of sets of the same exercise over time can cause overuse injuries, so be smart.)
Learn how to do the exercises properly – being able to activate the correct muscles will help you improve muscle size and strength. Poor technique will cause injury and you won’t work the target muscles properly.
If you have a weak point you want to address, dedicate a good 4-8 weeks to it and then go back to your normal training regime after.
Thank me later, and if you need help with training, hit me up for online coaching or in-person training in Chiswick.
When it comes to training, there are only a few hard and fast rules.
You must progress over time.
You must be consistent.
And you have to deadlift!
It’s a well known strength and conditioning cliche that the deadlift is the ‘king of all exercises’, and for good reason. It’s majesty cannot be denied. Don’t forget the deadlift.
Pretty much everything gets worked – glutes, lower back, lats, quads, grip, and even your traps. It’s the epitome of a compound lift.
Plus it makes you feel like a beast. Part of training is the mental aspect of it, and lifting heavy weight reconnects you with your inner animal.
We sit down at computers all day eating processed crap, then go home and watch reality TV. Training is one of the few areas in life where you can actually feel like a man again.
Deadlifts will make you feel like a caveman. No omega males here.
So aside from making you feel like a beast, how do deadlifts actually benefit you?
Doing a proper deadlift will make you:
I’ve had lower back issues for a long time, and starting Brazilian Jiu-jitsu didn’t exactly help (BJJ is notorious for lower back injuries.)
Unfortunately, I made my back issues even worse by deadlifting with poor technique. Deadlifts can absolutely improve lower back health and function, but only when done properly.
For that reason, I dropped deadlifts out of my training. While I thought I would be able to replace it easily, nothing else really came close to developing the raw, full body strength that deadlifts do. I became much weaker in general, and my legs and glutes seemed to shrink. No bueno.
So after about a year without deadlifting, I’ve begun incorporating them again, paying extra attention to form as I build it back up. It will be interesting to see how it affects my athleticism and muscularity.
A good goal for most people able to pull from the floor is to lift 2x bodyweight with the trap bar or barbell.
Having said that, this does not mean you HAVE to deadlift with a trap bar or barbell, nor do you necessarily have to pull from the floor. Some people will never be able to perform these lifts with good form, and that’s ok.
The important thing is that you’re doing some kind of deadlift appropriate to your level. Don’t worry about what other people deem to be the most ‘manly’ or effective. Do what works for your body.
Below is my list of different deadlift variations, starting from ‘easiest’ to most difficult:
When you are learning to deadlift – get someone to watch your form! Make sure you get the best from the exercise and and don’t hurt yourself. Not many lower backs can survive years of horrible deadlifting – eventually you will get injured.
Get yourself a PT or sign up for coaching and I’ll watch your back (pardon me).
The key with the deadlift is to look at it like a long term investment – don’t rush the progression. Increasing the weight slowly over time is the right way to do things. 2.5 kg here, 5 kg there. It all adds up in the long term.
In terms of performing the deadlift, there are a few cues I like to use with my clients.
So guys, don’t forget the deadlift. It’s benefits are numerous and it will help you achieve pretty much any fitness goal you’re striving for. Just make sure you do it correctly.
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