Friday, 2 January 2015

5 tips for a healthier, stronger, fitter, leaner you in 2015

2015 is upon us! Put these 5 tips into your regular routine for a healthier, stronger, fitter, leaner you this year.

Set a solid goal
You'd be surprised how often I have this conversation with people...

Me: "so what are you trying to achieve Mr X?"
Mr X: " well, err, just looking to get fitter really"
After another 10 minutes of digging around, something like this usually comes out...
Mr X: "I've got a beach holiday in 6 months and I'd really like to lose 10lbs and work on my chest"

There it is!

So set a clear, SMART goal that motivates you, and work towards it with laser guided focus. Without a destination you don't know where you're going.


Make mobility part of your everyday routine 
Keeping on top of regular soft tissue work is so important for sustained performance and faster recovery. Use tools like foam rollers, massage balls, voodoo compression bands and jump stretch bands to improve mobility and relieve any minor aches and pains. I'm taking it that seriously this year, I've planned in 2 random mobility drills everyday on my calander, with 2 days a week reserved for working on problem areas. 




Record your workouts
Results are born from progression. Therefor it is paramount you're progressing your reps, sets, weights etc. to achieve the desired training effect. I'm yet to meet a person that can remember every weight, rep range, tempo, exercise, set and rest period from the previous session. 

Skip carbs at breakfast
Carbs release serotonin. A calming neurotransmitter within the body. This could put you in a sleepy mood, I'm sure you'll agree not an ideal way to start the day. Go for a high protein/moderate fat combo for sustained blood sugar levels right up to lunch.

Spike your drinking water during your workouts with electrolyte powder
You're a wet, moving organism. If your tissues are dehydrated they will dry up like tinder for a campfire, become sticky and prevent your body from moving in optimal range. With dehydration comes a decrease in work capacity by up to 30%. Prevent this from happening by spiking your intra-workout drink with electrolytes.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Intra-workout fuel recipe

I've been asked a few times in the last week... "Breckell, what's that green slime you're drinking during your workout?" Well, it's my top secret, special intra-workout rocket fuel mix that allows me to push past any plateau that gets in my way! 

Just kidding! 

You'll probably notice around your gym more and more people are starting to drink some sort of coloured water during their workout. Many brands are making their own intra-workout products, but be warned some ingredients they may contain might just be wasting your time and money. That's why I make my own, this is what it includes...



10-15g apple BCAA's
BCAA's can prevent catobilism. They also compete with the amino acid tryptophan, a precursor to the calming neurotransmitter - serotonin. Who wants to feel "calm" during a workout? You want to be altert and ready to give it everything. I like apple, but you can go for whatever flavour you fancy.

Electrolytes
You're a wet, moving organism. If your tissues are dehydrated they will dry up like tinder for a campfire, become sticky and prevent your body from moving in optimal range. With dehydration comes a decrease in work capacity by up to 30%. Prevent this from happening by spiking your intra-workout drink with electrolytes. 

That's it. Simple, yet effective. No BS included. 

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) 

http://fitinfivehundredwords.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/counteracting-21st-century-shoulders.html

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 

http://fitinfivehundredwords.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/voodoo-band-elbow-mobilisation.html


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. 


Test....re-test. Boom!