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“It all goes downhill after 30”

How many times have you heard the phrase “it all goes downhill after 30?”.

I’ve lost count of the number of times other guys have said this to me… is it true though?

Getting older rarely leads to improvements in our bodies.

Wrinkles, grey hair, sagginess, loss of libido, baldness (I know about this one all too well!) are just part of the game.

There are many physiological process which slow down and change as we get older. Ultimately, these changes are unavoidable.

From a physique perspective, each decade after age 30, people who don’t train can lose 3-5% of their muscle mass. 3-5%!

That can make a huge to difference to how you look and feel. Just the mere fact of muscle loss will slow down your metabolism and make it easier for you to gain fat.

So not only do we have Father Time to contend with, but for most people entering their 30s, there are a whole bunch of other things too.

Financial security and climbing the career ladder become priority. Some guys are married and have young children that take up their time. Some guys are in serious relationships and their girlfriends won’t let them go out 😳.

The point is, fitness and health starts to be seen as a luxury and isn’t given the attention it needs. You slowly see the stomach getting fatter and the previous 25 year old you fading away.

Who’s that guy in the holiday pictures again?

I turned 30 in 2016 and I have definitely noticed subtle shifts in my body.

I feel training sessions more. My joints are creakier. Staying lean is more challenging. It’s harder to recover from a late night like during my 20s (now I have a migraine for 3 days after.)

In my whole life playing sports and lifting weights, I’ve only ever had one injury, a minor hamstring pull.

Once I entered my 30s, I’ve had back and knee injuries that kept me out for months.

Just look at someone like David Haye.

The decline in his speed and reflexes in the space of 5 years is very obvious. The multiple injuries accumulated as he’s aged have pretty much destroyed his career. (He’s still a physical specimen though).

So yeah, it’s inevitable that your body will change. But you can slow down and maybe even halt this decline.

There are no excuses for letting yourself go. Getting older is not a choice, but maintaining self respect is.

So here are the strategies to avoid ‘dad-bod’ and stay in shape.

Focus on posture

I always harp on about posture.

As you get older, you start to hunch over. Hours spent on the computer and phone, as well as the tightening of the chest muscles will make you look like Quasimodo.

Having a good posture makes you look taller and younger.

You can include face pulls, band pull aparts, and rear delt flyes in to your training pretty much every day. Sets of 10-20 are good and will build up the small muscles in the back.

You will need a band for pull-aparts, get it here

As well as that, add in lots of horizontal rowing movements, such as TRX rows, cable rows, incline rows, and bent over rows, TRX rows.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xs1xntsJniQ[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xs1xntsJniQ[/embedyt]

Do lots of work in the 8-15 rep range and really focus on feeling the muscles in the back working.

If you can’t squeeze the weight at the top of the movement for at least 2 seconds, it’s probably too heavy (thanks Jay Ferruggia).

Minimalist, express workouts

You have shit to do, so don’t waste your time.

You can achieve excellent results in just 3-4 days, 30-45 minutes per session if you are really good!

  • 5-10 minutes dynamic warm-up
  • 35-40 minutes workout
  • 2-3 minute cooldown

One way to really condense workout time is to use ‘non-competing supersets’.

For example, you may superset an upper body movement with a lower body one. Or an upper body push with an upper body pull.

The idea is that these movements don’t interfere with one another, so you can still push hard and get the most out of each one.

Also, instead of just resting after the exercise, you get more work in. This will cut down your workout time and ensure you hit your muscles hard during the short time you have.

If you have three days, ‘Push/Pull/Legs’ is a great split for you. You could also do ‘Upper/Lower/Full’.

Most of my male clients past the beginner stage are on some variation of the above.

Now what about if you don’t want to just lift, but enjoy other activities such as boxing, sprinting, or jiu jitsu?

You can and should still lift, but may need to reduce the volume (i.e. drop the frequency down).

If you need help with programming and want me to give you step by step guidance, consider signing up for online coaching.

Prioritise recovery

This becomes even more pertinent once you hit your 30s, even though it should always be a consideration.

You need to plan in recovery sessions/activities in between weight training sessions.

Taking a walk, swimming, sitting in nature, yoga, meditation, massages, low intensity cardio, sled dragging sessions, and band work are all good for you.

These things keep your stress levels down and your joints healthy.

 

 

Stay mobile

You may find yourself tighter and needing to stretch more often the older you get. Keep yourself mobile, because getting tight makes you old.

Hips and chest/shoulders are the key.

These 90/90 hip stretches from Andrea Spina are money.

Modify lifts that don’t agree with you

If a flat barbell bench press is what you’ve done for 10 years but now causes you pain, it’s time to swap it for something else my brother.

That doesn’t mean you have to stop benching. You could just swap it for a more shoulder friendly version, such as an incline bench press or a DB bench where your hands can rotate naturally.

Time to start working with your body rather then against it.

(That said, if you can do certain lifts without a problem, then go for it.)

Some good swaps you can make:

Swap ‘Flat barbell bench press’ for ‘incline barbell bench press’ or ‘neutral grip barbell bench press’ or ‘ DB bench press’.

Swap ‘barbell back squat’ for ‘front squat’ or ‘box squat’ or ‘goblet squat’.

Swap ‘straight bar deadlift’ for ‘trap bar deadlift’ or ‘rack pull’.

 

Prioritise health

Start thinking ‘health’ rather than simply physique. You’re in this for the long term.

You can look good but be very unhealthy. Being at 6% body fat probably isn’t healthy because your hormones will be completely shot. Having huge muscles but eating massive amounts of food the whole day isn’t healthy either.

As you get in to the dirty thirties, your metabolism will probably slow a little bit, so you need to compensate by eating a little less.

The likelihood of getting diabetes also increases as you get older and fatter, so another smart approach may be to adopt a low carb diet, which I have found works brilliantly for getting leaner.

Note: low carb, not no carb.

Precision Nutrition’s infographic below is very simple but excellent for helping you understand what a low carb diet looks like.

There are two versions – one for any time of day, and one for after workouts.

Berardi-Anytime-Plate Berardi-Post-Workout-Plate

For those that drink, alcohol tolerance will also most likely change. This can result in serious fatness if you try to keep drinking the same way you did in your youth.

Accept that you probably won’t be as slim like you did at 20.

Finally, acceptance.

This doesn’t mean you accept being overweight and losing all your pride. Not at all. It just means you recognise that your 20s and 30s are not the same.

But you can make your 30 year old self an even better version if you stick to what’s written above. it’s all about smart and efficient training.

Thanks!

 

Mustafa

 

From non-athletic to athletic

Being in shape (the shape that you want) is hugely important to your self-image. It’s not shallow to acknowledge that. I’m a natural ectomorph, so when I get too skinny, I don’t like it. It definitely affects how I feel about myself.

I get questions from people all the time about ‘how to look like a boxer’, ‘how to get a six-pack’ etc, so I know other people feel the same way.

I’ve been meaning to write this guide for a while. From working closely with a number of clients, I’ve been able to see what works and what doesn’t.

Today I’m talking to guys with the following three body types:

– Skinny
– Skinny-fat
– Overweight

Skinny and overweight are self explanatory.

Skinny-fat might be a new one for you though. Skinny-fat people tend be naturally skinny with thin arms and legs, but weirdly, also have a fat stomach or ‘man boobs’. This body type is best described as awkward.

Body types can also be classified by ‘somatotype’ – ectomorph, endomorph, and mesomorph. Some people fall between categories. I’m largely ectomorph, but have a little meso.

Adam pine somatotypes

Identify what your body type is, because I’m going to be making specific recommendations for you later in this article.

So, what are the main problems encountering people who want to get in to shape?

a) Impatience
b) Information overload (Instagram, friends, youtube etc)
c) Ego

Go to any commercial gym and you’ll see a small number of people who know what they’re doing. The rest barely have an idea.

The skinny guys stay skinny, the fat guys get fatter, and the skinny-fat guys melt like snowmen..

If you truly want to change, commit for a whole year. Only then can you say you actually gave the whole fitness thing a fair shake.

If you think one year is a long time, bear in mind the time is going to pass anyway.

Forget about quick fixes and the easy way out. There is no easy way out, apart from steroids or winning the genetic lottery.

Get a schedule and be consistent.

”80% of success is just showing up” – Woody Allen.

Routine is where the magic happens. The clients with the most success are the ones who show up to at least 90% of their workouts over the year.

These guys know what days they’re training, what they’ll be working on in each session, and what days they’re resting. Everything is planned out in advance and the training sessions are non-negotiable.

You might have legitimate reasons for not going to the gym, and trust me, I get it.

“It’s cold outside..” “The gym is packed..” “People at the gym stink” etc. These are all legit excuses (the last one can be all too real unfortunately =/)

The truth is, however, your body doesn’t care.

All your body responds to is effort.

I can’t tell you how many times I haven’t wanted to train. More often than I’d like to admit, I’ve wanted  to turn around and go home. Especially when it involves cold weather and driving.

Yet each and every time, I came out feeling happy I didn’t listen to my bullshit excuses.

So now the specifics.

Nutrition

When it comes to cleaning up your diet, start slow. Very few people can make extreme changes in one go.

Research shows that changing one thing at a time is far more successful than trying to change two or three things at once.

‘All-or-nothing’ just doesn’t work for most people (especially when you are starting out and have no idea what you’re doing.

(I am, however, a fan of ‘going all in’ and being obsessed about things you have a passion for, but only if you have someone guiding you and/or a fair idea of what you’re doing.)

There are some major keys to remember when cleaning up your diet.

Internalise these keys and you’ll always be able to stay on point with your diet.

🔑 Drink lots of water.

🔑 Eat lots of protein.

🔑 Eat lots of veg.

🔑 Carbs can be your enemy or your friend.

I highly advise people who are new to eating healthy to log their food and drink for at least a few weeks.

This helps you become aware and make better choices. There’s no hiding from the truth when everything is written down. Being able to see your eating habits helps you make better choices

If you want a more relaxed but still very efficient method of controlling calories, the ‘hand method‘ is excellent (though probably not as accurate as calorie counting).

Before we start with specific recommendations, we first need to clarify a couple of things.

‘Maintenance calories’ – the amount of daily calories needed to maintain your current bodyweight.

So if you weigh 70 kg, your maintenance calories are the amount of calories that will keep you at 70 kg (without your weight going up or down).

Eating below maintenance = calorie deficit. You will lose weight.

Eating above maintenance = calorie surplus. You will gain weight.

The Precision Nutrition weight loss calculator is the best calculator I’ve found to work out what you should be eating calorie wise (depending on goals). The MyFitnessPal app also does the same job when you input your personal data.

Always integrate changes slowly. Don’t start with a massive calorie surplus or deficit straight away. A good rule of thumb is to go in 250 kcal increments (above or below your maintenance). Adjust as you go along.

(The major keys outlined earlier apply to all body types)

Skinny-fat
– Only have starchy carbs (potatoes, pasta, rice, bread etc) within 1-2 hours after working out
– Small amount of sugary carbs such as Lucozade before/during sessions is acceptable
– Drop sugar out of your diet as much as possible (fizzy drinks, fruit juice)
– Eat at a calorie deficit

Overweight

– Only have starchy carbs (potatoes, pasta, rice, bread etc) within 1-2 hours after working out
– Small amount of sugary carbs such as Lucozade before/during sessions is acceptable
– Drop sugar out of your diet as much as possible (fizzy drinks, fruit juice)
– Eat at a calorie deficit
Intermittent fasting

Skinny

– Can eat starchy carbs (potatoes, pasta, rice, bread etc) at every meal
– Small amount of sugary carbs such as Lucozade before/during sessions is acceptable
– Eat at a calorie surplus

Training guidelines

The major key to changing any physique is always WEIGHT TRAINING.

This can change the most under-developed or sloppy physique into one that is rock solid.

3-5 days is fine for most people, 4 is usually the best. It just depends on what you can feasibly fit in and recover from.

Always start with the minimum number of days you can handle. Once you get comfortable, build it up.

If you are the type of person who likes to go balls deep, go for it, but just make sure you have a plan.

If you can only commit to three days, full body routines can work. This way you hit most of your muscle groups more than once throughout the week. Frequency is a great way to grow muscles.

It’s also a very good way to burn excess calories, so good for overweight people.

If doing 4 days, I love an upper/lower split. I use this type of split myself.

Again, you can hit the same muscle group more than once a week – high frequency helps muscles grow.

Upper/lower splits also help you build muscle better than full body as you can focus in on the target muscles better, so it’s better for skinny guys.

I don’t really recommend ‘bro-splits’ for beginners as they require more total time spent in the gym and you can’t really hit your muscle groups more than once a week.

Then we come to cardio. Skinny guys LOVE doing cardio for some reason. In particular, they love running a lot. Stop it!

Overweight guys, on the other hand, don’t like doing cardio.

The skinny guys need to drastically reduce the amount of cardio they do, while the bigger guys need to do more.

Cardio is an important part of being healthy, but if you are skinny and trying to gain weight, you need to do less cardio for a while.

What exercises to do?

The basic exercises ALWAYS work best, especially at the beginning of your lifting career.
(Note: you don’t have to use all of them).

Press-ups
Pull-ups
Sled pushes/pulls/drags
Squats (goblet, barbell)
Bench press
Rows (barbell, cable, inverted, TRX)
Split squats
Lunges
Kettlebell swings
Deadlifts
Rack pulls
Military press
Landmine press

These exercises use large amounts of muscle mass across multiple joints (compound lifts). Compound lifts should be the foundation of your training. They will get you stronger and bigger quickly.

Once you have a strong foundation, you can add in smaller movements such as bicep curls, leg extensions etc (isolation exercises).

Too many guys skip the tough compound exercises and only focus on isolation exercises because they’re easier. They never get results. Don’t be like them.

Get good at bodyweight exercises. Whether you’re fat, skinny, or in between, bodyweight exercises will help you achieve a lean, athletic physique. Plus they can be done anywhere, so no excuses.

Ego lifting is the death of all progress. Realising this changed everything for me.

Once I focused on feeling my muscles work (as opposed to just trying to lift heavy all the time), I started to see actual muscle growth.

There is a time and a place for heavy lifting, but it’s not on every set and every exercise. Lift with smooth form and a good range of motion. Forget the half squats and life-or-death bench presses.

Log your workouts. As time goes on, try to lift more weight or do more reps with the same weight (always making sure your form is on point).

A mix of rep ranges works well, from 5-15. It is very hard to give blanket recommendations because everyone responds differently to different rep ranges.

Once you have a programme in place, make sure you know how to do the exercises properly. Hire someone to teach you if you have to.

You will save yourself plenty of time and probably a lot of injuries. Being coached will significantly speed up your progress. (I myself pay a Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructor once weekly and have seen significant improvements in my game, as well as being trained in the gym for a while myself).

(If you need help, I offer online coaching as well as in-person training if you’re close enough.)

Skinny-fat

– Lift weights 3-5 times a week
– Full body or upper/lower
– Use a mix of rep ranges (5-15 reps)
– Sweat every day (cardio, sports etc)

Fat

– Lift weights 3-5 times a week
– Full body or upper/lower
– Use a mix of rep ranges (5-15 reps), can usually tolerate more heavy lifting (i.e. bench pressing, deadlifting, squats)
– Sweat every day

Skinny

– Lift weights 3-5 times a week
– Upper/lower preferred
– Use a mix of rep ranges (5-15 reps)
– Reduce cardio to max 1-2 short sessions a week

Good diet and lifting will sort anybody out. Add some quality sleep to that and you will be a different person in a years time.

There is so much more I could write on this issue, but doing so would make it well over 2000 words, and I don’t think anyone is trying to read a thesis!

Contact me for online coaching on jumpliftsprint@gmail.com

What Are Finishers And Why Do Them?

Finishers – some people love them, some people f*cking hate them.

If you don’t know what a finisher is, it’s basically 5-10 minutes of hell done at the end of your workout.

The point of a finisher? Usually one of the following:

  • Get a quick ‘metabolic hit’
  • Burn some fat
  • Improve conditioning/cardio
  • Get a quick pump before leaving the gym

Finishers can also be purely psychological. I’ll sometimes throw one in just so someone can feel like they’ve ‘worked out’ (psst, don’t tell that to any of my clients). Most of the ‘important’ work will have already been done – the finisher just gives them that feeling of being sweaty and tired that people love.

However, one of the biggest and more important benefits of finishers is that they can make you mentally tougher. I truly believe that.

Your heart will beat out of your chest.

Your muscles will shake and burn.

Your lungs will feel like they can no longer take in air.

But once you’re done, you have achieved something. As corny as it sounds, you feel like a stronger person. You know that you can go through pain and make it to the other side. This is especially true for athletes who will be faced with adversity in their sport, but it’s powerful for anybody.

Disclaimer: I’m a big advocate of smart training. You shouldn’t do super intense finishers every session. The key to all this is to not overdo it.

So having said all that, here are some of my favourite finishers you can start implementing immediately.

 

Farmers Walks

You can never go wrong with a set of farmers walks. I’ve talked about them extensively before, and I still do them to this day. Just grab some heavy kettlebells/dumbbells/sandbags/trap bar/logs and WALK!

To improve cardio, use lighter weights and walk for slightly longer distances.

For more of a strength effect, go heavier and walk for a shorter distance.

Switch up the implements and style of carry to avoid getting bored and to hit different muscle groups. I like kettlebells and sandbags. You can even combine them with other exercises, such as press-ups or squats, but be warned..

 

Tabatas

Tabatas are great occasionally, but very overused in my opinion.Tabatas are good for a quick metabolic hit, so will improve your cardio and give you some fat burning effects.

They only take 4 minutes, but unlike premature ejaculation, you’ll be happy it was only 4 minutes.

The format goes like this: 20 seconds all out effort, 10 seconds rest. Do this 8 times.

That work to rest ratio makes tabatas lactic dominant, so be prepared to BURN!

You can do tabatas with anything you want. I recently had my client do a 20 second Versaclimber sprint, rest 10 seconds, then 20 seconds of kettlebell swings, rest 10 seconds, then back to the versaclimber etc, until the eight sets were over.

You must have good technique when doing tabatas – don’t try to do kettlebell swings in a finisher if you can’t do them when you’re fresh. Choose simple exercises, like a bodyweight squat or battle ropes.

Very time efficient. Once a week or every couple of weeks is good depending on your how fit you are.

 

Matrixes (or matrices according to proper English)

Matrices are an excellent way to get in extra volume for a specific muscle group.

For example, if you’ve just done a lower body session and want to ‘finish off’ your legs for more gains, you can do a leg matrix to cause even more muscle damage (in a good way).

They’re also good for athletes looking for extra leg endurance and a metabolic hit (high reps, low weight – footballers, boxers, muay thai athletes could benefit).

Here’s one I use quite regularly that Nick Tumminiello of Performance U does with his athletes.

 

Alternating ladders

Alternating ladders are another solid finisher for fat loss.

I once went to another gym where the trainer made me do a press-up and swing ladder.. I almost vomited and didn’t get up for 30 minutes (was my fault for eating for 30 minutes before).

Here’s one way you can do it:

Do 1 press-up, 2 swings.

Then 2 press-ups, 4 swings.

3 press-ups, 6 swings, until you get to 10 swings. If you’re trashed, leave it there. If not, go all the way back down to 2 swings..

Bonus points if you use exercises that involve standing up and going to the ground – that’s guaranteed to get your heart rate ALL THE WAY UP! A press-up & squat/swing is a safe bet.

 

Battle ropes

Most metabolic finishers are lower body, so it makes a nice change to do some upper body conditioning.

Ropes are great for the shoulders and cardio. You can use the ropes in a variety of ways – Tabata style or any interval timings you want. You can also vary the techniques – single arm waves, double arm waves, slams, punches etc.

 

Heavy bag

The heavy bag is brilliant for cardio, fat loss, technique, and shoulder endurance. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a bum or a high level pro… everybody can benefit from the bag.

Just like the battle ropes, it’s upper body dominant, so it gives us something different to the other usual types of finishers.

You can use the bag in different ways. You can throw the same combination over and over (like Obi is below), do punch-outs (constant punching), or just treat the bag like a live opponent, picking and choosing your shots.

Either way – hitting the bag is a great finisher.

Here’s Obi going through a heavy bag drill in preparation for his title defence (which he won!)

 

Complexes

I’ve written about complexes before – it’s a type of loaded conditioning, and loaded conditioning is good!

If you have good technique with a bar, barbell complexes are excellent. DBs are good too. So are KBs and sandbags.

 

High Intensity Continuous Training (HICT)

This one is very different from the types of finishers above. Unlike the finishers above, it’s slow paced and a lot more mentally draining.

Basically, choose between a bike, Versaclimber (my favourite), or do step-ups on a box. If using the machines, put the setting on to the highest resistance that still allows you to move. Intentionally go slow and maintain that pace for 10 minutes.

After about three minutes, you will be thinking ‘wtf!’.. and your quads will probably be PUMPED!

This is an excellent form of aerobic cardio I took from Joel Jamieson, a conditioning expert. I credit this method as being part of the reason my conditioning for jiu jitsu has improved so much. I feel VERY fit while sparring.

And that’s it guys… any questions, please comment below or email me at jumpliftsprint@gmail.com!

An additional note about some of the methods listed: I like alternating upper and lower body. For example, if I’ve done a lower body session, I like to do upper body conditioning (such as battle ropes) to spare my legs for the next day of training. This all depends on your objective of course.

IMG_1112

4 strength and conditioning tips for BJJ

As someone completely new to Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (BJJ from here on), I quickly realised how tough a sport it is. Though I’m in pretty good shape, initially, it kicked my ass. Smart strength and conditioning will keep you healthier, less injury prone, and make you a better athlete. A little goes a long way – you don’t need to live in the gym to reap the benefits of this stuff.

The ideas below are similar for many sports, but there are some special considerations for BJJ.

Note: I’m not saying this will make you good at jiu-jitsu. I am still wack tbh. But the tips below WILL make you cope with the demands better and give you an advantage if you’re competing (more pound for pound strength in a weight class is never bad).

So with that said, here are my top 4 tips for BJJ strength and conditioning.

  1. Grip

Grip, grip, grip!

You use your hands to control your opponent. While high level BJJ players can control people with just their legs, without a strong, enduring grip, it’s unlikely you will be able do much with your opponents.

Strong fingers and hands are a must in Gi Jiu Jitsu (the gi is the kimono BJJ players wear – there is also a form of jiu jitsu where the Gi is not worn).

Here are some simple exercises you can do for a vice like grip grip:

Farmers Walks

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3Ftk7Q6zp8[/embedyt]

 

Rock climbing grip pull up & holds

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35B-RBjtTXQ[/embedyt]

 

Towel pull up

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0m_aqGHxiB0[/embedyt]

 

Other great exercises are plate pinches, rows and deadlifts with Fat Gripz, and fat bar holds for time (use Fat Gripz).

 

2) Start working on mobility

Mobility, in particular, hip mobility is king in BJJ! You don’t have to be stretch armstrong , but being very tight will limit your game. There are some moves that will be very awkward if you’re not mobile.

BJJ in and of itself will loosen you up a little, but if you’re tight, you’ll need to do more. Taking a bit of time to do some static and dynamic movements throughout the week will help. See here for ways to boost hip mobility.

Many BJJ competitors and teachers recommend yoga as a way to strengthen and mobilise the body, although I haven’t personally tried it myself.

 

3) Strength training

While strength will not make you good at BJJ (as I have found out), it is an undeniable asset, especially when fighting in weight classes. Skill and other factors being equal, strength may end up being the deciding factor.

The stronger you are, the more difficult you will be to manhandle, the more explosive you will be, and, the more ‘solid’ you’ll feel.

One of the other benefits of a good strength training regime is injury prevention. It will have positive effects on your ligaments and joints. The last thing you want is a dislocated shoulder or knee keeping you out of training.

So what to do?

You can never go wrong with the basics.

  • Pull-ups
  • Press-ups
  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Sled drags
  • DB/Barbell presses (overhead and bench)
  • Rows

However, BJJ is a dynamic sport that plays out in three dimensions. All the above exercises are linear. You also need to add in movements that incorporate different directions (see this article for more).

A large part of BJJ consists of a hunched over, flexed position (think of when you are trying to control someone in full guard or protecting yourself in a defensive position). To stay strong and healthy, you need to train the opposite – extension. Lots of rows/pulls and hip extension movements (such as the Romanian Deadlift or kettlebell swing). This will also give you more explosive bridging and takedowns.

Free row

Romanian Deadlift

Kettlebell swing

I recommend lower volume, full body or upper/lower splits. 2-3 per week is ideal. The more often and harder your BJJ training, the less intense the lifting should be. The less you’re rolling, the more you can lift.

Don’t go to failure during your sets. Don’t do lots of sets. Don’t be tempted to do bodybuilding splits (chest day, back day etc), although bodybuilding methods may be useful in certain situations.

 

4) Conditioning

BJJ is tiring. During hard rolls you will feel it. Quick transitions and explosive movements will have you gassing harder than AJ against Klitschko. Not only that, but there will be long, grinding exchanges where your muscles will be burning. I don’t need to tell you that running out of gas during a fight is bad.

Adding one day of conditioning to your training will allow you to spar longer. One underrated benefit of improved conditioning is that you will be calmer on the mat, which will also translate to better sparring.

Competition matches last from 5-6 minutes so there is a large aerobic component, which means low intensity steady state training is a good start. This doesn’t mean you have to go running – you could do 30 minutes of light bodyweight circuits, rotating between different cardio machines, and core work, for example.

As you get fitter, you can introduce more intense forms of conditioning such as sprints (hill sprints are amazing), barbell complexes, and other types of loaded conditiong. These types of training will allow you to be relentlessly explosive.

Again, don’t overdo this. One day a week is great.

Also, do yourself a favour and get a heart rate monitor how your fitness is improving over time.

Hope this helps you guys!

Osss

Links:

Fat Gripz

Polar heart rate monitor

How to do a Turkish Get-Up

Yeah, I’m back.. talking about the Turkish Get-Up again.. =/

As I said in my previous post, many athletes make the mistake of using exercises that are either straight forward or straight back. Barely any sports are played this way!

That’s why I’m always banging on about the The Turkish Get-up (‘TGU’ from here on). The TGU incorporates different movements and muscle groups, and crucially for athletes, moves in different planes of motion (not just front to back).

Most people who add TGUs to their training soon feel more agile and mobile. Believe it or not, agility does not come from flashy ladder drills. It comes from total body strength, and the ability to slow down, speed up, and push off in a different direction.

Holding the weight above your head during a TGU makes you stabilise and tighten up your whole body. You have to control every inch of the movement.. failure to do so will result in your skull getting smashed in.

Bottom line, you want improved agility, mobility, and total body strength, start doing this.

The TGU looks like some Cirque du Soleil sh*t to most people, so here’s my attempt to break it down for you.

These are the steps I’d suggest you go through when learning the get-up. 

Do it over the course of a few weeks and go super slow during every rep!

Naked Get-Up

 

Shoe get-up

 

 

Half get-up

 

Turkish get-up

 

Shoe get-up fail

Hope this helps guys!!

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One Direction sucks

Strength training for athletes is imperative. There is no longer any debate about that.

To reach your potential on the pitch, ring, cage, or wherever, you should be doing it.

But one of the traps athletes fall into is only training straight forward and back.

Squats, presses, pull-ups, deadlifts are the bread and butter of any good programme, but they are all pretty much linear, while most sports involve movement in different directions and planes. Think of a boxer circling the ring, a footballer shuffling to the side, a baseball player running to catch a ball.

Adding movement in different directions is probably the most important change I’ve made to my own training as well as the athletes I train.

A little goes a long way. Many of the below can be added to warm-ups or done at the end, after the heavier, more intense work. This list is by no means exhaustive, but do some of these consistently and you’ll see feel more agile and in control of your body during competition.

 

Twisting box jump

[embedyt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0nShCCEFwc[/embedyt]

 

Lateral mini band walks

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJjCEvoJlFk[/embedyt]

Use this exercise to strengthen the upper glutes and hip external rotators in a position common to many sports. As mentioned above, in many sports, you need to be able to move laterally (to the side). To effectively pivot, ‘cut’ from side to side, swing or throw, you need well developed hip muscles.

 

Zig zag walk

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmPZb7pgP4A[/embedyt]

Similar to above, but now we move back diagonally and add different positions.

 

Multi-directional lunge

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15ak8EgGL0M[/embedyt]

Add this to the warm up to hit some of the usually underdeveloped muscles such as the adductor.

 

Asterisk lunge

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGyZ12P4-eI[/embedyt]

This move takes the above a step further by adding in a couple of unorthodox angles.

 

Turkish Get-Up (TGU)

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJX_ppIvERY[/embedyt]

One of the best moves you can add to your toolbox – complex to learn, but very, very worth it. The TGU ticks all the right boxes: it involves different planes of motion, and develops stability, mobility and total body co-ordination. Excellent for shoulders and core especially.

 

Lateral lunges

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgchfG91nK8[/embedyt]

The ability to ‘cut’ (change direction) comes from being able to get low and push off one foot – similar to a lateral lunge. Again, the adductors are weak in many athletes (hence groin strains). Lateral lunges also hit the hammies, quads, and abductors.

To make these easier, hold onto a pole or TRX for support.

 

Lateral sled drags

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_1hNleR1UU[/embedyt]

One of my favourites. The sled is one of the best tools at your disposal, so use it. For this exercise, imagine there are headlights on your hips – don’t let them stop facing forward.

Hope this helps guys! Mus

Advice To Skinny Guys

Skinny-nerd

No matter how you sugarcoat it, the reasons we train often boil down to one thing – insecurity. Some of the most driven athletes in the world are also the most insecure.

Me, for example. I am naturally skinny. The skinnier I am, the less confident I feel.

If I stop training and start eating less, I will shrink rapidly. I had a boxing match in 2015 where I cut down to 68 kg, and though it was the right thing for the fight, outside the ring, I felt like a powerless twig.

I’m nowhere near ‘bodybuilder hench’ (nor do I have the desire to be), but I now weigh 77 kg and the feeling of my arms hugging my sleeves is a huge boost to my self-esteem.  The feeling I felt at 68 kg was almost as if I was insignificant.

Below is me at 68 kg, just before my fight:

Me at 77 kg, performing the same movement:

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgsO2Imzfeo[/embedyt]

Fact is, human beings are like primates – how big we are matters when it comes to the way others view us. While you can’t control how tall you are, you can control (to a certain extent) how lean you are. So control it.

A few kilograms can make all the difference in the world. It can make people respect you more, it makes females more likely to look at you, and it makes you a more menacing prospect in a confrontation.

The sad thing is, skinny guys tend to be very stubborn. I was the same way. Following a crappy routine and seeing no results at all. I see it everyday.

Here’s some news.. you are being lied to.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was on roids. That incredibly ripped and wham athlete you follow on Insta is probably on roids. It’s unlikely you’ll look like them by doing their training programme (unless you too do roids). The same is true for many celebrity female weight loss DVDs etc.

Forget the movie stars and celebrities. Just focus on a long-term, sensible plan for getting stronger.

Channel your self-consciousness in a positive way by putting energy into your workouts and nutrition. Take it too far, though, and it becomes a vice. There’s nothing lamer than constant posing, topless selfies, and not being able to enjoy a restaurant because it doesn’t fit your ‘macros’.

My advice to skinny guys is as follows:

  1. Stop thinking you’re smarter than everyone else!
  2. Learn and do the BASICS well. To begin with – goblet squats, press-ups, pull-ups, sled work, inverted rows, kettlebell deadlifts, farmers carries, planks. All that good stuff. Get STRONGER.
  3. Stop doing so much cardio. Why on Earth do you run for 5 miles every day yet complain about being skinny? Fact is, when trying to put on muscle, you’re going to have to sacrifice a little cardio for a while. You can reduce it to 1-2 times a week (short duration, high intensity cardio for the most part).
  4. You need to start eating. Even when you don’t feel hungry. Your stomach will adapt over time as you increase the size of your meals. Don’t bother with supplements such as BCAA or creatine, just eat well (protein powder is ok).
  5. Forget about having perfectly defined abs for a while. If you’re eating how you’re supposed to, you’ll probably accumulate a little bit of fat. As long as it’s minor, keep going. If you’re getting a belly, cut back.
  6. Just start. Do a full body split 3 days a week and be consistent! Don’t analyse or search for the next best thing – the principles never change.

Holla at me if you want help!

Mustafa

 

How Training Less Can Make You Fitter

Do you work out like a beast? Do you train twice a day like Lou Ferrigno? Do you do 2 hour sessions that would leave the average man broken?

Maybe you do all the above, yet still have a gut that you can’t lose.

If that’s the case, you are probably missing one vital ingredient for achieving the body you want..

RECOVERY!

Before I go on, let’s talk about something most people overlook.

THE CNS

The CNS = ‘central nervous system’.

The central nervous consists of the brain, spinal cord, and all of their nerves. Basically, it controls our movement, thoughts, feelings, and arousal level (not that type of arousal :/).

When I talk about recovery, I’m not just talking about muscle and joint soreness –  I am often talking about the CNS.

Think of CNS as a glass of water. How full that glass is determines your capacity.

The emptier the glass, the more tired, weak, and unmotivated you feel. You will literally be weaker in the gym. Even your reaction times can be lower (important in sports).

Generally, when people talk about feeling ‘burnt out’, they are unknowingly referring to CNS fatigue. The glass is empty and not getting topped back up.

On the flip side, when your glass of water is topped up, you will most likely feel energetic, buzzing, and strong! These are the sessions you’ll probably set PRs on deadlifts or squats.

Though you can’t keep the glass 100% full all the time, you can try to manage it as much as possible.

Things that empty the glass:

  • Poor sleep
  • Relying on stimulants too much
  • Life stress (relationship, work deadlines etc)
  • High volume of training
  • Training hard too often

Things that refill the glass:

  • Sleep
  • Massages, spa, etc
  • Easy training days
  • Days off
  • Positive experiences with family and friends
  • Holidays

Sleep is probably the most important, yet most sacrificed aspect of recovery. We are ‘on’ 24/7.

Deep, quality sleep is where all the magic happens. Without getting into all the science, poor sleep makes it easier to put on fat, and harder to build muscle. So allow the 1 am Game Of Thrones binges (note to myself here).

Another aspect of recovery often ignored are ‘easy’ days.

I’m a big fan of cycling between ‘High’ and ‘Low’ days, as popularised by famous sprint coach Charlie Francis.

For instance, if you have a hard workout on Monday, you might choose to do an easy cardio session the next day. That ‘low’ day will help boost your recovery so you can go hard again the next day.

Hell, if you don’t like doing easy days, just take the day off. Give your body a chance to replenish your hormones and neurotransmitters.

Heavy weight and lots of volume (high number of sets and reps) are generally very CNS-intensive, and therefore need adequate recovery.

One idea I like to preach is to always ‘leave a little in the tank’. Try to perform reps with picture perfect form, and stop the set 1-2 reps before you’re going to fail.

Finish the session feeling fresh so you can recover and come back stronger next time. Here’s my rather jacked friend Miko giving his thoughts on the topic.

As Miko says above, you have to see the bigger picture. Surely you want to be strong and fit for the rest of your life, not just in 4 weeks time for the beach. There is no rush.

I’m not the strongest guy in the world, but the PRs I’ve hit have always been a result of of patience over weeks and months. Any time I’ve tried to rush it, I soon hit a road block and can no longer get stronger.

Out!

Coaching enquiries –> here.

The Power Of The Sled

About 2 months ago I badly hurt my lower back. I was deadlifting and my form was off (I’m not mobile enough to be pulling from the floor, which I stubbornly ignored until it was too late).

I exacerbated the problem by going to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class the next day, and anyone who does BJJ knows what it can do to your back.

Boom. In the infamous words of Mike Tyson, “I broke my back”. No squatting, deadlifting, or BJJ for at least 6 weeks.

Lower body strength and muscle is important to me (and should be for anyone), but what was I going to do without squats and deads?

Enter the sled.

Anybody who’s ever watched athlete training montages will see the sled and be inspired by it. I was always obsessed with it, even when I never had access to one. It is far more than a gimmick or novelty exercise, like we see all over instagram and social media.

During my back injury, I replaced all heavy lower body movements with heavy sled pushes or drags. I’d load it up heavy and go for 3-4 sets of 15-20 meters (avoiding using weights so heavy I’d have to stop in the middle etc).

After that, I’d so some single leg work (split squats etc) and some light hinging (i.e. pull-throughs). I’m happy to say that during this time I’ve pretty much held on to my leg size and feel very, very strong.

Athletically, its even better. Playing football for the first time in about 6 months, I felt fast and dynamic. Not squatting and deadlifting wasn’t the end of the world, after all.

I will be continuing this kind of training for a number of months until I feel confident enough to reintroduce squats and deads.

Sled work can improve conditioning, leg strength (and even foot strength as your feet have to grip the floor), as well as reducing body fat. Furthermore, the sled won’t wipe out your nervous system the same way squats and deadlifts do, nor will it leave you sore (there is no eccentric component). It also feels better on your joints then heavy squatting!

Admittedly, the sled isn’t the most effective tool for people merely looking to put mass on their legs, but when you add in other more traditional leg exercises, it is the perfect supplement to a training regime.

Guidelines

Regardless of whether you’re an athlete or just looking to get stronger and improve your looks, I recommend using the sled for heavy sets rather than simply doing sprints all the time.

Pushing heavy weights WILL melt fat off you.

Throw in sprints occasionally, but by and large, aim to get stronger with the sled over time.

Try to avoid too many sets where you have to ‘grind’, legs about to fall off, stopping halfway through etc. Go heavy, but keep it just about manageable.

If you don’t have a sled, I feel bad for you son, I got 99 problems but a sled ain’t one. In all seriousness, you can always do plate pushes (put a heavy plate on a suitable floor and push it). Not quite the same, but it will have to suffice.

By the way, I’m not suggesting you cut out squats, deads etc. You can and should do them if you’re capable of doing so and confident in your form. But the sled is a fantastic tool for pretty much anybody, athlete or not.

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It’s All In The Grip

Most people only care about how good they look. But you guys reading this probably care about a bit more than that. You want to look good, sure, but you want to be a beast when it comes to performance too.

A powerful grip is not only a direct benefit when scuffling with Man United fans in sports like Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (which I recently started). The stronger you get, the more potential you have to handle heavier weights. Translating this to a heavier deadlift, squat, sled push etc, could make you a more powerful athlete. Plus, the more reps you can do with heavier weight, the more muscle-building potential you have.

Maybe you just want to be able to open a water bottle in front of a girl. It doesn’t matter. Just train your grip.

Over the last two days, there were two instances where the importance of grip strength really jumped out at me.

In the first situation, I was doing dumbbell bench presses. My grip on the dumbbells was VERY strong, and I was in complete charge of them suckers throughout the exercise. The form was great, and it’s no surprise I threw up a PB. Without a strong grip, the dumbbells would not have gone up.

In the second instance, I was doing heavy sled pushes. I made a conscious effort to grip the handles as hard as I could, and lo and behold, the sled moved faster and harder. Again, I felt in complete control of the weight. Bear in mind, this is not even an upper body exercise, yet a stronger grip helped move the sled more easily.

So how does this work, you may ask?

It mostly comes down to the principle of ‘irradiation’.

Try this – make the hardest fist you possibly can (all jokes here..). Squeeze until your knuckles go white. Notice how your forearm, biceps, triceps, shoulder, and lats all tighten up!

This is irradiation.

Muscles in the body work in a chain (or are supposed to). When you squeeze hard, the tension from your squeezed fist transmits to surrounding muscle groups. You’re tapping into the strength of the muscles in the chain.

Consider the deadlift, which is an obvious example of an exercise you’d need good grip strength for. If you try to deadlift with loose hands on the bar, your form will most likely be poor and you won’t lift much weight. As soon as you go ‘white knuckle’, your lats and core ‘switch on’, your posture will probably improve, and you’ll lift more weight.

You need to apply this mentality to other exercises too, even not-so-obvious ones. During a dumbbell split squat, for example, crushing the handle of the DBs will magically improve form and posture. Your strength and control over the weights in your hand will improve. I can’t state how important this is.

So now – how to improve grip strength?

  • Hanging from a pull-up bar (both flexed and relaxed arm)

 

  • The old King, Farmers Walks

 

  • High rep kettlebell swings

 

  • Stop using straps

Straps are great for bodybuilders as they help take grip out of the equation so you can do more reps, but if you’re looking for a vice-grip, ditch them. I only use chalk, which I don’t believe limits grip strength as much as straps.

 

  • Use thick bars or ‘fat gripz‘ occasionally.

These increase the diameter of the bar and thus makes your hands and forearms work much harder. Best used on farmers walks, rows, and curls.

 

  • Practice crushing the bar on every compound exercise you do.

This isn’t as important for small isolation exercises, such as lateral raises, as that is the one situation where you DON’T want to switch on bigger muscles to take over the work.

 

You could also use a gripper, but I find that incredibly boring and have never used them for longer than a couple of days.

Hope this helps guys

Coaching enquiries –> Here