Thursday, 11 December 2014

The spin class enthusiasts mobility drills

I used to say "if you want tight hamstrings and a headache, go to a spin class!" But I've come to learn there is no such thing as a bad spin class, just bad spin class attendees. If you're a regular spinner, and currently suffering with a niggle in the hamstring, calves so tight you could use them as guitar strings or achey hips, this probably isn't news to you, but the short 5 minute cool down of a few static stretches at the end of a class just isn't enough. You need to be able to perform some basic maintenance on your body regularly to keep your muscles and joints working in an optimal range. Otherwise problems get worse and worse and BAM! you've got an injury on your hands. 

Here's 4 drills you can perform anywhere/anytime to help recovery and restoration from a spin class. 

Calves foam roller smash
We'll start from the bottom up. Many inexperienced cyclists try and create power when they ride from the ankle joint, not the big strong muscles such as the quads, calves and glutes. This shreds your calves meaning they get very tight and your left missing ankle range. Counteract this by A: learning to cycle properly and B: performing this drill. Cross one leg over the other and place the roller on your Achilles and very slowly work your way up and down the calf. Pause on any tender spots for 20-30 sec and spend at least 2 minutes per side exploring around the calf.   

Hamstring ball smash 
Hamstrings take a pounding from cycling. Tight hamstrings are bad news and can lead to a
bunch of other bad things like lower back pain. Take a hard ball of some kind (massage ball, cricket ball, golf ball, tennis ball) and take a seat. Place the ball under your hamstring and explore around. You'll be unpleasantly surprised with what you might find here, as the hamstring muscle fibres tend to get all junked up. Once again two minutes of exploring per side.

Couch stretch
Spinning requires a lot of sitting. And sitting wrecks your hip action. You'll get really tight in the anterior hip/hip flexor area. This stretch will work wonders at opening your hips back out. 2 minutes per side.

T-spine smash 
Next time you're in a spin class and you go for one of those big sprints, you'll see everyone ducks down to make themselves more aerodynamic. Look at everyone's spine! It's in a big C shape. Now imagine keeping the spine in this position and standing up. Over time this is the effect it's going to have, so open that thoracic spine back up with this drill. Place a roller on your thoracic spine area and reach all the way over your head. Hang out like this for, yep you guessed it - 2 mins.

Monday, 24 November 2014

5 fat loss tips for an alien

So the other day I was asked "what fat loss tips would you offer that are so simple even an alien could understand them?". Here's my response....

Drink 2-4 litres of water a day
Staying hydrated is a must for optimal performance in life as well as the gym! Keeping hydrated is also important for fat metabolism.

Watch carbs
Carbs are quite energy dense, and I'm sure you'll all agree - they are very easy to over eat on. Carbs also effect your blood sugar levels. For fat loss our goal is to keep blood sugar levels stable.

Focus on consuming lean protein
Protein will help repair and recover your muscles from your workouts. It's also quite hard to digest, meaning it'll cost more calories to do so.

Eat little and often
Even though there's actually no evidence that eating little and often will raise your metabolism for whatever reasons it seems to work for most people.

Make resistance training and intervals your main training modes
A smart combo of resistance and interval work will raise your metabolic rate for up to 48 hours after your session! Resistance training will help build or at least maintain the muscle you have, the reason we want to do this is because muscle mass is metabolically active tissue. Meaning it'll burn calories even when you're at rest.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Beating the bench press warm up blues

Hands in the air if you do a couple of light sets of bench press for your bench press/chest day warm up?....

How about this for a more productive bench press/chest day warm up....

Step 1: the kettlebell shoulder mobilisation. 

Great for resetting the shoulder into an optimal position for pressing before you train chest. For more info check out my full post on the drill here (the before/after pics have to be seen to be believed)

Step 2: elbow voodoo band mobilisation. 

Great for loosening the elbows, allowing for a full range of motion during presses. Once again for more info check out the whole post on this drill here

Step 3: a couple of light sets of your first exercise, ramping up to your first working set weight.

Step 4: have a good workout! 

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Create a vision board for continued motivation

Setting goals is something that we're all familiar with. In fact, it's so common today that it's becoming a little mundane! So why not take that a little further and create yourself a vision board?

A vision board is quite simply a collage of images of things you're currently working towards. Whether that be you're ideal figure, a new watch or a dream holiday you've always wanted to go on. Once you've created you're vision board place it in a prominent place that your going to see every day, so that it can keep reminding you to stay focused on your goals. The kitchen fridge for example, or use my idea and save it as your phone wallpaper.....

Most of it is pretty obvious, but here's the reasoning behind my vision board:

Top left - Steve Reeves circa 1950, proof that tall people can have a set of legs!

Top middle - Vegas, a place I've always dreamed of going. I've recently had some friends visit and it sounds epic.

Top right - Actor and fitness model, Joe Manganiello. Still what I think to be the ultimate male physique and a look I want to work towards.

Bottom left - The new Mercedes A class.

Bottom right - A house key. Currently embarking on the daunting task of saving for a place of my own.

"Creative visualisation is real. It's a powerful force that works to shape future outcomes." Harvard Medical School

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Counteracting 21st century shoulders

Living in the 21st century amongst cars, desk jobs, computers, mobile phones, sofas in front of the TV and heavy chest pressing in the gym etc. We all tend to live in the front of the shoulder capsule and get this forward rounding shoulder appearance. Now I've tried many different techniques to try and correct this and improve my own posture, but nothing has been more effective than the kettlebell shoulder capsule mobilisation. 

What you'll need
An 8-12kg kettlebell and a jump stretch band

How to do it
It's quite a complicated set up, but once you get it right it'll work wonders!
-Lying on your back, Use the jump stretch band to get a lateral distraction of the shoulder joint.
-Press the kettlebell into the sky (like a chest press) and hold it in position. I like to use my free arm to steady my working arm. 
-Drive your hips up off the floor, as you do this you'll feel your scapular move out of the way and your shoulder drop back, then return your hips to the floor. 
-Hang out in this position for at least 2 minutes to see some change. You can also internally/externally rotate your arm to encourage improved range of motion with your shoulder in a better position. 

Why it works 
The jump stretch band gently opens up the shoulder joint whilst the weight of the kettlebell drives the shoulder back into the socket into an optimal position. You'll see results from this after just 2 minutes, however for long term change make this drill part of your weekly routine. Boom!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

The Captain Morgan pose

Drinking Captain Morgan's rum is cool, but do you know what's even cooler?...standing like him!

A high 80% of the clientele I work with have desk jobs so I'm always focusing on counteracting the detrimental effects of sitting. So what about the other 20% that spend the day standing? Long periods of standing incorrectly can be just as harmful to the spine as sitting can. Look at the images below. On the left is a shot of the spine in neutral which is how it should be ideally. After standing for a number of hours we tend to see an overextension fault of the lumbar spine (middle image). This is bad news for the lower back. 

The reason this happens is the muscles such as the glutes and core that play an important role in midline stabilisation start to fatigue. You can save the lumbar spine when this happens by elevating a foot onto a box/ step/ shelf/ dumbell/ keg etc. (right image) This allows the lumbar spine to return to optimum positioning. Now I'm not suggesting you stand like this all day, but every so often adopt the Captain Morgan pose for a few minutes each leg to save your spine.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Voodoo band elbow mobilisation

Why voodoo? Well 90% of my clients I'm sure would agree, using the voodoo band is literally like voodoo magic for hot joint issues! Following on from my previous post on the knee joint drill, here's one for your elbow. If you suffer from stiff painful elbows, or want to improve bench press positioning or shoulder press positioning then this could be for you.

What you'll need...
A voodoo compression band or a bicycle inner tube cut in half will work just fine.

How does it work...
Wrapping the band around a joint (knee, elbow, ankle etc.) a few inches above and below the joint and keeping the band nice and tight will create compression forces. This helps restore sliding surface function to the underlying banded tissues as well as create a flexion-gaping force at the joint. This can help restore normal range of motion in the joint. Once the band is removed the tissues surrounding the joint will flood with fresh blood bringing nutrients to the muscles and joint for improved recovery. One of the biggest advantages of using the banded mobilisation technique is you can closely mobilise the movement you want to improve.

How to do it...
Wrap the elbow joint fairly tight a few inches below and above the joint. Start from the bottom and work your way up. With each wrap move the band up around half an inch. 

Move the elbow in different directions (flexion/extension). You can even perform a few bench presses or shoulder presses if this is the movement you want to mobilise. Spend around 2-3 minutes in this drill, then change arms. 

....literally everyone's interested in voodoo band mobilisation techniques!