Food for thought!!

Have you ever taken a drink of something and immediately had a recollection of a previous memory of a food, a smell, a person, a time in your life etc?

I rarely drink herbal tea but this morning as I sat down to update some member gym programs I thought, “mmm, let’s have a cup of Peppermint Tea”!

peppermint tea

Oddly on my first sip I was hit with an instant memory of my time in Germany during 1989 and ‘cheese on Pumpernickel’, a flat, dense, rye based bread. Very nice actually.

So this got me wondering about what had just happened and the thought occurred to me, can you use drinks or foods to remember a healthier you?

Recollections are varied of course. Not every memory is of a good time. But, imagine if a food or drink stimulated a recollection of a healthier time in your life, if indeed you are looking for a health overhaul. What if you could recall what you did back then, what kind of foods you did eat, who you spent time with, your hobbies or preoccupations, how you felt in general. Would you use that recollection to try to replicate the conditions that at that time contributed to your healthier self?

Just some food for thought. What do you think?

Right now, I am seriously considering finding some Pumpernickel… yummy!

Keen to read more about how and why your brain gifts you this? Read what Andrea Beaman has to say.

 

Do Cyclists really need a strength program?

‘Investing in your health and the future of your body is one of the most powerful commitments you can make with yourself.’

Whist this a great mantra to live by generally, it is also incredibly important to keep in mind when you’re a specialist. Like cyclists for example.

I was once upon a time an immensely dedicated cyclist. It became my career for a while until an untimely injury took me out of action. To some degree, looking after the health of my body may have prolonged my career but, oh if only I knew then what I know now… sigh!

Cyclist may spend anywhere from a few hours per week to up to 25+ hours per week on the bike. This specialisation is what get us addicted to our shiny steeds but specialisation also results in imbalanced physiology. Essentially, whilst some muscles become awesome

IMG_1519

That’s me at the front 🙂

at their task, other muscles become overworked and underworked. Addressing this latter point forms the bulk of the overarching intentions of an intervention strength and mobility plan.

Now, a strength program to a cyclist may invoke mental images of Arnie in his hay-day, all lumpy and swole and spending hours in the gym pumping iron. Maybe a slight exaggeration but to the inexperienced it’s an assumption that to get stronger, it will require quite an investment of time.

Actually, the kind of program a cyclist may need to help maintain the balance in their physiology can start to offer benefits with as little as two 30 minute session per week, or less. So no, you don’t need to become a protein drink swilling meathead. ‘Phew, you can relax’!

An effective program for a cyclist would start off addressing the torso. The torso or what some may refer to as the core is what ties together our hips and our shoulders. Pictures those long bike rides, a hill climb or a dreaded head-wind… it’s no longer our legs that are doing all the hard work. The upper body all of a sudden has to join in the party. But if the torso is unconditioned or fatigued, it’s not going to play ball and then that’s when we realise our shortcomings as the lower back and arms get tired. Watch an experienced and well rounded cyclist take on a hill, a climb or any stressful situation and it’s a thing of grace or beauty almost. The whole body moves fluidly to get the job done.  Compare that to an unconditioned cyclist who seems to wobbling, ducking and diving to wrestle their bike along the road…. not very graceful looking is it?

If we were to take a minimalist effective strength program for a cyclist, what would it look like?

Without going into too much information or specifics (we’re all special snowflakes so that’s hard to write anyway for the masses) here’s a list of what would need to be considered.

Mobility:

The rather crunched up posture of a cyclist is a necessity for a bike ride, but can leave the body feeling a bit stiff in all the wrong places. An effective training session would kick-off addressing this. The movements in particular would offer a ‘reset’ of sorts to unwind all the tight corners of the torso, hips, upper back and neck in particular. The Original Strength program designed by Tim Anderson and Geoff Neupert is a fantastic solution in this case. The system they promote uses the fundamental movements of a developing baby to toddler to child to address what we as adults should have retained and maintained over the years. The rolling, rocking and crawling moves prove a real gem at both loosening what up tightens you and switching on what needs to be activated.

Yes I am biased as we use this daily in the gym but only because it works and it’s so easy it looks like it shouldn’t work, but it does, so there!

Stability:

Strength training for the most part is a process of getting the grey matter in your head communicating better with the body to recruit more muscle to do a task with more ease. It’s not the process of growing muscle although that can happen (if you’re not careful haha). When the brain muscle communication is swifter the body reacts better and hence reacts to instability more readily. You want a wobbly body on the bike or a stable power-house?

What movements would be used in a routine?

This very much is a personal thing but here goes, a generalised list (with links too):

  • a full body mobility routine as discussed above (Original Strength)
  • single leg knee, hip dominant moves like a lunge or a step up
  • single leg hip, knee dominant moves like a single leg deadlift variation
  • explosive hip dominant movement like a properly taught kettlebell swing or a deadlift
  • abdominal dominant movements like a dead bug, plank variations and loaded carries like farmers walks.
  • Upper body pushing an pulling strength moves but not the bench press! Let’s move on from that.

 

Okay, yes, this is very vague but the specifics of what to choose depends on the individuals level of ability, aches, pains and what is available to use.

Any particular movements don’t need to be taken to maximum efforts, but sustained technique with a moderate level of exertion for as few as 5-10 repetitions for a few sets.

Routines could be laid on over a leisurely 60 mins or could be packaged up into a circuit or into a fun complex to get the session over in as little as 15 mins!!

It may seem a little confusing, I know. I’ve just told you how important it is to get stronger and more mobile yet I’ve not given an exact plan to follow.

Here’s an offer for you

In the new year 2018 I am launching a program just for cyclists that will focus on all that I’ve spoke of here. The intention is to offer options of simple one-to-one sessions or small group training sessions for times that suit the busy lives of cyclists. I certainly don’t want to take away from precious bike times, that’s for sure.

I’ll be offering this as a 6 week program but for limited numbers of applicants as I want to offer a great service which can be sacrificed with large numbers.

If you are at all interested in getting stronger as a cyclist and want to work on eliminating the frustrating aches and pains that maybe keep you off the bike from time to time, get in touch below. You can use this too to get put onto the early registration list… no commitment is required of course.

 

Oh, and wait, if you are not local to Albany Creek (Northern Brisbane suburb) I will also be putting together an online program will be nearly as good as the in-person program.

Interested? Let me know using the contact form above.

 

What to eat for performance and getting leaner?

Yes, what a topic to confuse everyone. The choices are numerous and every single ‘diet’ has one common theme – a total energy deficit. Whether it’s a low carb, high carb, high fat, high protein or whatever diet, there will always be a calorie deficit involved.

id-10069240

 

So whilst change is hard, let’s keep the advice simple, and real.

If you really want to get those muscles strong and lean, any well structured program will deliver but only if your nutrition is dialled in.

A progressive strength program will run in phases to set you up, get you strong, then probably have a hiked up period of boosting your metabolism. To get these specific adaptations in the muscles we need to focus on a limited number of movements, perform them well and repeatably. 

To get a return of investment from your efforts and muscles the eating advice is clear:

If nature grew it out of the ground, off a bush or a tree, or it ran, flew or swam (plants and critters in other words) you eat it. Don’t be fearful of carbs – just keep them natural.

Here’s a wee list of what I find works the best to stay lean:

1. First off, cut added sugars. Seriously, if you want to drop excess weight, start with dropping the sugary stuff.

2. Replace the frequent starchy food for vegetables. Bread, potato, pasta – gone. More veg – in. This is especially important on non-exercising days.

3. Good news. You can eat your starchy carbs post exercise, but one portion, not a plate piled high with chips or pasta. 1 portion = a potato or a wrap or a palmful of rice.

4. Per day you will have to be sure to consume your proteins. Aim for non-processed protein sources and these can be non-meat plant based proteins if you prefer.

How much?

  • Men = 4 – 6 palm sized portions a day.
  • Ladies = 3 palm sized portion a day.

5. Eat HEAPS of of vegetables. I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again – to fill you up and to provide your body with oodles of nutrients and minerals, eat a variety of vegetables. Aim to have every colour represented every day. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower are great and versatile.

6. Water. This is Australia folks, we sweat. Replace those fluids and help your body flush out toxins by drinking around 8 glasses a day – or just more than you’re currently drinking. A great tip that has helped others is this. Every time you take a sip of water, take a second sip.

7. Last point. Don’t get hung up on recipes. Just prepare food and meals that you enjoy eating taking into consideration the points above.

 

My best advice is to take a week by week progression, much like the exercise component.

Week 1: How can you make breakfast (your first meal regardless of time) a little better. What can you prepare and eat easily without fuss? A quick omelette? Yoghurt with added berries and seeds? Boiled eggs? Experiment.

Week 2: The same process with Dinner. Maybe make a big dish that’ll last a couple of days, for lunch too. Like shredded pork? Cook up a shoulder overnight, and shred as needed – yum. How about a bolognese sauce that can be eaten with so many options? Fun and simple to prepare but make enough and it’ll last a few days.

Week 3: Maybe it’s time to hone in on the shopping list. Write a list that reflects the meals you like to prepare and eat and shop accordingly – that easy.

If you are not the main meal preparer – talk to who is about what you are trying to do and work with them. Support them as they help you.

You get the idea? Gradually try to implement the tips to progress your meals to good, better and betterer. I used to write ‘best’ as the final goal, but really, that’s unattainable in the real world.

Strive for continued better.

Any comments or advice or feedback – just get in touch below.

Rolling Rolling Rolling

Becoming a limp bizkit can make you feel awesome, seriously! Let me explain.

I heard this one Limp Bizkit song on a Spotify playlist and – ‘ding’ – went a light bulb in my head – “I have to write a wee piece about this”.baby-roll

It may have been released in the year 2000, 17 years ago, but I think Limp Bizkit were really onto something when they wrote ‘Rolling Rolling Rolling’.

Let’s just check out the lyrics below. VIDEO 

Screen Shot 2017-09-15 at 1.27.58 pm

Now, you might not be a fan of Limp Bizkit but hear me out. Much like music makes you smile, emotive, happy even, I’m finding rolling around on the floor makes people smile, emotive and even happier. Happier and more confident I may add in their strength moves to follow in their training sessions. By unlocking the four corners of the body, by just rolling around, people are finding it more comfortable to execute all their planned pushes, pulls, squats and hinges and other gym endeavours.

One particular chap can’t wait to hit the gym floor and start rolling… followed by various “Ah’s” and “Oohs” as one part of his body after another releases its day-long tensions (years worth perhaps). Just this week one couple told me how they spent the previous evening on the kitchen floor doing their rolls!! “Fantastic”, says I.

Before I continue, the roll in question is a segmented roll.

The video above demonstrates the segmental roll. Lying on the floor, somewhat like a starfish, you roll yourself from your back to your front (or vice versa) leading with your eyes, head and an accompanying limb. With a leg or an arm you reach over yourself to roll and flop yourself over.  The movement of rolling like this is something we all did as children or more specifically, as babies. The ability to roll is a development movement that patterns gait; how we got ready to use our heads, to crawl and then to walk, run and play in all kinds of directions. Segmented rolling is what gives us cross bracing in our torso.

IMG_1291.JPG

I’m looking up at the underside of my decking right now, where the gym is based, and during the building of the decking, bracing was used to tie together the 4 corners of the decking.

 

We have much the same muscular / fascial connections on both our anterior and posterior that tie together our corners. Left hip to right shoulder, right hip to left shoulder.

We are literally X-men and X-women!

We learned to roll as infants and as our strength developed we quickly figured out how to move out of static postures like lying on our front, sides or back. Once we could move our huge melon heads (Tim Andersons description of baby heads, not mine haha) and we could look around us, it wasn’t long before we discovered the ability to move our body more. Literally, where the eyes and head went, the body followed.

This crucial stage in our physical development gave us autonomy and some self-sufficiency and independance. After the sequence of rolling from front to back or back to front, we were capable and strong enough to explore getting into other wonderful positions like sitting or getting up onto our hands and knees. No longer did we need our parents to prop us up between cushions for a baby pic.

However, what happens towards the end of our juvenile years that continues often into adulthood is quite repressive in regards to our naturally developed physical independence.

Once school progresses into some hot and heavy learning, sitting becomes a dominant past time and this is reflected in adulthood with the majority of the workforce having desk bound, sedentary occupations. Maybe it’s best to describe most occupations as still. Repeated ‘stillness’ is a large condition of growing up.

What happens to ‘still’ occupied adults is a gradual de-conditioning of physical autonomy.

Rolling and rotation (a function of rolling) ends up not being a frequent movement for most adults and sadly many get sore or hurt on attempting rotational activities! Once we take away this infant learning pattern, we gradually peel away other physical ability. Balance, coordination, motor control as well as the strength to control our 4 corners (hips and shoulders).

It’s never too late though to prevent this de-conditioning from escalating. It may take a few bad experiences, tweaks of this, that or the other before the self realisation that, ‘hey, why am I so weak and broken at 35 years of age’?

I personally fell in love with segmented rolling when I discovered the Original Strength system and I very quickly learned how the albeit simple and strain free act of rolling, rocking and nodding my head gave me back some pain free movements that allowed me to pursue some bigger physical goals and challenges. I used to think that strong was just being able to move big weights. Later I learned that strength has a much greater scope that includes being able to control our own bodies in a whole range of positions.

It’s not just me either. The majority of people I work with as a trainer discover their ‘ah ha’ moments whilst rolling, rocking and nodding.

Everyone can now touch their toes, squat deep, look over their shoulders without whining and more importantly, confidently jump into their gym training programs and physical activities outside of the gym.

My take away? Don’t overlook the benefits of exploring the floor beneath us. Roll around, get loosey-goosey… maybe whilst listening to some Limp Bizkit!

For more information about how you ‘press reset’ for your body, get in touch below and we can make time to have a chat about where to start. 

 

Top 10 List for Lasting Fat Loss

Fitness is not a counter to eating. Whilst strength training is a counter to weakness and eating is a counter to feeling hungry, fitness is not a counter for eating.

IMG_050A2FA5D25A-1

I frequently hear such sentiments in conversations, social media posts and even on the TV / radio.

Someone will say something to the affect of, “I don’t do fitness; I like food too much”, or “follow this ‘X’ program to shed kilos of fat”, or worse still, “I’ve got to punish myself in the gym to work off that weekend”!

The latter is all too common and such a waste of good gym time, it’s stressful and pretty unproductive.

The most successful trainees I spend time with have these following in common:

  1. They follow a training program.
  2. They turn up to the gym when expected.
  3. They work on activities they find challenging (read, enjoyable).
  4. They develop skill and strength.
  5. They laugh and have fun.
  6. They don’t exercise to burn calories.
  7. They don’t exercise to punish themselves.

The ones who fail pretty much do the opposite of these 7 points. There’s another example of a ‘counter’.

When we turn to dropping some body fat, what does work?
For a start, it shouldn’t be hard, shouldn’t challenge us too much or overwhelm us.

Here’s a (short) list of 10 tips. 

#1 Focus on changing one dietary habit at a time.

The most successful changes happen not by stubborn drive, but by attentive focus on dealing with just one, reasonable item. Studies show that when more than two habit changes are targeted, failure ensues. However, when a person focuses on changing one habit they are drastically more likely to succeed. Why stack the odds against yourself with too many things to change when one change is going to be more successful? Picking something to change that you consider ‘reasonable’ is also stacking odds in your favour. If cutting back on carbs causes too much resistance – don’t do it. If eating a bit more chicken with your lunch seems reasonable – do it.

#2 Eat fewer calories.

Yeah I know, you’ve heard this before and yes, it makes total sense. What doesn’t make sense is cutting your daily energy intake by huge amounts or, drastically overnight. Arbitrary numbers too, is nonsensical. Stop just buying into a random number because an instagram ‘guru’ tells you it’s what you need. Many commercial products too, sell calorie based packages. There’s the 1200, 1300, 1750, 2000 calorie packages  – how do know these numbers relate to what you need?

The solution (to end my rant) is to simply look at what you’re eating, and decide what rationally could be reduced. By how much? A simple palmful size, that’s how much. Want to cut down on potato, well cut out a palmful amount of potato per day. Too much coke? Well, drop one can a day – that’s a reasonable starting point. You’d like to cut back on bread? How much? Yes, that’s right – whatever fits your palm size, a slice for example each day. These little acts of reasonable change will seem easy, and that’s cool. It’ll mean that change has a greater chance of succeeding and all those small drops will equate to reasonable drops in calories too. But, like #1, choose one item to work on.

#3 Check the quality of the carbs you eat.

It’s a sad reality that todays food options include far too much processed foodstuffs. What might seem and look like a fine, healthy product is probably packed with unnecessary sugars, flavour enhancers, salts, fats and a lot of stuff you may struggle to pronounce! Keep the carbs natural, as best you can, for most of the time. If it grew off of a plant, well, it’s safe to say it’s safe to eat. Got it?

#4 Eat your dam vegetables!

Talking of plants (#3), do you see evidence of them on your plates or in your wraps etc? Here’s the thing. When cutting back a little you’ll probably feel hard done by. You’ll be thinking you’re eating less and will more than likely stress a little. Hey, you’re human, it’s a thing. How do you deal with it? Eat more vegetables. They’ll make you feel fuller, increase the spectrum of healthy micro-nutrients and minerals, provide more fibre and make your poo slip out more easily! Eeeew, yes I went there!

How much? The experts over at Precision Nutrition suggest this:

Eat 1 cupful (thats probably the same as your palmful) of each group of vegetables a day.

  • that’s one cup of green veg
  • that’s one cup of purple veg
  • that’s one cup of red veg
  • that’s one cup of orange veg
  • that’s one cup of white veg

Here’s a cool infographic -> click me
or copy this -> http://www.precisionnutrition.com/color-chart

If this seems unreasonable, read #1 again. Start somewhere. It honestly doesn’t matter where, just start to make a change.

#5 Are you getting enough protein?

It’s hard to imagine with so much meat, chicken and fish etc in abundance in the grocery stores, but many people are eating insufficient protein. Before I offend any vegans and vegetarians reading, yes, protein can be sought from plant based sources too.
Ideally women should consume the equivalent of 3 palm sized portions of protein rich food per day. Men should consume the equivalent of 4-6 palm size portions of protein rich food per day.

Does it have to be in three meals? Nope. Does it have to be from animals? Nope. If you don’t eat animal based proteins I’m pretty sure you know where to get your proteins but do make sure you eat enough of it.

Why? Well, protein regenerates the cells we degenerate on a day to day basis. Proteins and amino acids (from proteins) are used by our bodies to produce important molecules like enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, and antibodies – without an adequate protein intake, our bodies can’t function well at all.

#6 Enjoy what you eat.

Okay, so we need cut a wee bit of the stuff we don’t need as much, we need to eat plenty of veg and sufficient proteins and fats but let’s not get bored eating the same ol same ol every day. Unless you enjoy that. 

And that is a huge factor of successful nutrition – we have to enjoy what we eat. This is one of many things that make us a special species – we get to enjoy what we eat. We socialise, laugh, have fun all while eating. The enjoyment factor is also why many ‘made for you’ meal plans or diet sheets fail. They don’t match our preferences. How do we get away with enjoying food whilst limiting things? Being reasonable of course. Yes, you can have pizza every now and then, but plan for it and don’t make it an every day meal. Like your plate of mashed potato, grilled salmon and sweet chilli vegetables? Well then, eat it. Maybe make the rational and reasonable decision to limit the serving of potato but still have the dam meal if you like it.

Here’s a great exercise: On some quite time make a list of all the meals you enjoy eating. Next, make reasonable changes to each meal that drives each meal closer to the recommendations above in regards to carbs, proteins and vegetables. It doesn’t need to be perfect, just better than before. Then, make a shopping list and go to town. After this the cooking is the second most fun part before eating.

#7 Walk more but stop the endless fixation with calorie burning cardio.

Numerous studies have shown how walking is great for us. It gets us up, moving, breathing and maybe socialising. Walking alone isn’t going to expend much energy (unless you’re into hiking 10-20km on a Sunday morning), so again, don’t label walking a counter to eating. Walking is just healthy. Walking is a catalyst to better health decisions in my humble opinion.

#8 Get stronger.

Most peoples ‘go-to’ when they are gripped by the notion to shed a few kgs, is to do ‘cardio’. They refer to walking, running, zipping along on the gyms elliptical trainer or spinning away on the bike. Okay, caveat here – yes, cardiovascular activities are great, can be fun and social too but, they are terrible at fat loss – unless you are committing yourself to hours of the stuff a week. Most of us do not have this luxury – do you?
Back in the 90s when my job was racing my bike, I would be spending 25 hours a week on the bike, ate like a race horse which I didn’t enjoy and yeah, my body fat was between 4-6% but I was young and fully accepted that eating that way sucked.
Do you have 20-25 hours a week to wear yourself out to lose a bit of fat? There are easier ways.

Now then, strength training develops metabolically hyped up muscles, much more so than the more gentler muscle contractions of cardiovascular activities. Simply put, stronger muscles use more energy at rest – that is to say, they burn more fat calories at rest than ‘cardio’. Strength training also has the added benefit of making everything else in life easier.

#9 Check your sleep health.

If someone asked me how to get fat without eating more – just hear me out – I’d tell them to sleep less and get stressed.

These two go hand-in-hand of course but, less sleep increases cortisol, the fat storing hormone. Some of us survive on 5-6 hours of sleep, but I’d rather not describe myself as just surviving – I want to be thriving. So, the general aims are 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Bed by 10pm?

#10 How much water are you drinking every day?

Our bodies comprise more than 60% water so you’d figure it’s a pretty important factor in good health, including maintaining a healthy body composition. I won’t go into all the health benefits or what water is used for in our bodies.
Many people just don’t drink enough water. Thirst is often misinterpreted as hunger and yep, the wrong stuff in consumed. Numerous studies (I know, so many studies!) have been conducted that show how an increase of water consumption increases metabolism, alertness, sense of wellbeing, better skin and yet again, make your poo slip out more easily! Eeeew, yes I went there – again!

How much should you aim for? A recent study showed how just 7 glasses a day is enough. That’s all!

It can be frustrating trying to remember to drink often. It doesn’t and shouldn’t be massive deluges of water drank once or twice a day, rather occasional sips. How do you remember to do that? How about attaching the new habit of taking a sip of water to an already established habit. Example: Every time you go to the kitchen, you drink a sip. Or, an easier solution I’m stealing from the book Fat Loss Happens Monday by Josh Hillis and Dan John; every time you take a sip of water from your bottle, take a second sip. It really can be that simple.

 

That’s all folks….

No more tips. Gosh, that ended up being somewhat longer than I had planned. If you got this far, well done, go eat something and take a drink of water.

 

The end bit!

If I had to reduce all of these into one statement, it would be this:

Take a serious look at your lifestyle habits and identify the weaknesses and then make rational and reasonable decisions to change one item at a time.

 

In the words of Mr Spock, ‘Live long and prosper’.

 

Jamie

Is the Kettlebell the Optimal Tool for Minimalism?

Training, practice, working out, getting exercise or whatever you call it can take oh so many shapes.

cartoon network tgu 1Compared to 50 years ago when the choice of health and strength came down to gymnastic endeavours, calisthenics or barbell routines, today we have bodyweight calisthenics, parkour, dumbbells, barbells, machines galore, kettlebells, bands, straps, balls, shake-weights (!?!?!) and I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few but you get the picture. There are so many choices today.

One area that has taken the health, strength and fitness arena by storm (if I may say so myself) is that of training minimalism.

Championed by the likes of Pavel Tsatsouline, Pat Flynn and Tim Ferriss to mention but a few, the premise that you should spend your training time on the activities that yield the majority of the results is the way to go. Using a minimum affective dose approach is similar in concept to the Pareto principle or what some refer to as Paretos Law. The principle also known as the 80/20 rule states that 80% of the outcomes derive from 20% of the causes. In other words, 80% of your training results comes from 20% of what you put into it.

Think of it; how much of a standard 1 hour gym session is actually worth the time and effort? All the fiddling around with one body part movements take up valuable time instead of just completing one big compound exercise. You might think that more is better in regards to calorie expenditure, however, if you whittle away your energy on the small ‘stuff’, that have little impact on the metabolism, how much energy do you have to commit to the big ‘stuff’ that has the potential to really impact the metabolism.

Majoring in the minors is one sure way to fail at most things in life.

Talking of minimalism, let’s jump in and look at the Kettlebell and other tools. Is it really the optimal tool for exercise minimalism?

Let’s first consider the important ‘majors’ of any good training session.

  • We need to move those big body parts with compound movements like Squatting, Hinging aka the Deadlift, Pushing, Pulling, Bracing that aids in developing strength and maintaining muscle mass.
  • We should nearly always include power moves or quick lifts.
  • Time efficient.
  • Should relate to your human function – you want to move better for a long time, yeah?
  • Should develop movement skills – related in ways to function.
  • Influence the bodies metabolism favourably.

These are the majors, the important stuff that training is used for.

To address these important qualities you could go to a gym hugely populated with barbells, dumbbells, strength machines for every body part, treadmills, cycles, stepping, thrusting, vibrating gadgets galore…. I said you could, but how much time is that going to take, never mind figuring out what does what.

What we’re looking for in a minimal training mindset is lack of fluff, no hassle, just get in, get the work done and go home to recover, spend time with family or get back to work.

How about the good ol’ dumbbell?dumbbells

While a dumbbell can be used for pretty much all the compound moves it is pretty much limited to just doing the strength moves. Try doing an explosive move with a dumbbell and you’ll figure our how hard it is to manhandle and hold onto. Maybe not the optimal tool to get everything done hassle free but a close contender.

 

What about a barbell, you can do near everything with a barbell?

barbellI spent many years with a barbell and truely love the feeling of training with a barbell. It’s best suited for developing maximum strength in all the big moves and it can be used for quick lifts. With over 20 years of training people I don’t often get to work with someone who is comfortable with a barbell for every big movement. Why? They lack the movement skills to use the bar. They can’t hold the bar on their shoulders to squat. Pressing with both hands often doesn’t work due to shoulder limitations and the same goes for the bench press. Deadlifting is the most common go-to that works fine but as for most other movements, most people, most of the time struggle to use the barbell affectively. Whilst mobility training can address the deficits in some occasions, the very strict linear and bilateral (two limbed) nature of barbell training often causes niggles, tweaks and injury. I love the barbell, but for minimal training it isn’t the best tool for most of the people (in my opinion anyway).

On that note, who are most of the people? 

Most trainers start off with aspirations of working with elites, athletes, hot, toned specimens of human evolution. The reality is that most trainers spend most of their time working with mums, dads, grandparents, people who work 40+ hours a week at work, then supporting their families, they’ve household chores to get sorted, grass to cut and meals to prepare. Most of them want to feel stronger, less tired and achey and probably want some sense of achievement as they escape to their training.

Do you think training minimalism is suited to them? Hell yeah!

 

Enter the Kettlebell. 

rkc bell

Look, I am biased as I start to talk about kettlebell training. Funnily enough, when I first signed up to a kettlebell certification back in 2009, I did so with a sense of disbelief regarding all the hype. It’s a ball with handle on it – ‘what’s the big deal’?

I learned very quickly however, what a gem the kettlebell is.

When I start working with a new client I make it clear that we train movements. When it’s time to load those movements we do so. We still train movements though. The load is just added to keep progressing.

The dealio with the kettlebell is with it’s shape. Plain and simple. There is no magic woowoo Russian secret, it’s just an old agricultural weight that found its way into the training world – because it gets a job done.

The handle, the compact size, the ability to do all the compound lifts, the ease at which you can transition from a compound grind lift to an explosive lift, just makes the kettlebell a good all-round tool to use. Having a kettlebell in one hand at a time or a kettlebell in each hand allows users to do a range of movements without the restriction of a straight bar or a wobbly dumbbell.

To save time and hit all the requisites of an effective training plan, the kettlebell can be used in a complex. A complex is simply a number of movements strung together and carried out non-stop. Training is this manor allows for training strength, explosiveness and metabolic improvements, oh, and a session can be done in under 15 minutes if you like.

You can use a bar or a dumbbell or even bodyweight moves for a complex, but for ease of use, the kettlebell wins. And yes, you can mix in bodyweight movements – no hassle is the game at foot, so less is fluff is more win!

Here’s an example of a very simple kettlebell and bodyweight complex that even an exercise newbie can learn to do in a number of sessions:

  1. Push Ups x 5
  2. Goblet Squat x 5
  3. Swing x 10

Do 5 rounds with adequate rest between rounds.

That’s it. Short, sweet and done in no time at all. The majority of the moves we need are there.

An alternative could be:

  1. Clean and Press
  2. Squat
  3. Row

5 rounds or fit in what you can in 10 – 15 mins. Be your own chef!

Use any rep range specific to your goals. Heavy and short reps for strength. Medium and longer reps for muscle building.

Complexes can be built for many areas and sure, you can still do circuits or pair off movements. The complex is just one way to tick that minimalism box.

Of course technique is vital like in using any piece of equipment, but there are good kettlebell trainers available via StrongFirst, the RKC and other reputable training organisations.

My point here today is this. If you want to pursue training minimalism, I whole-heartily recommend getting to grip with using the kettlebell.

Got any questions? Shoot them my way.

Group Training in Albany Creek

There was a time when personal training, aka one-to-one training was all I wanted to do and to be honest, the bulk of my time is dedicated to training people in just that way, and I do love taking people strategically through an A to B to Z plan to get to their goals.

However, not everyone wants the detailed ‘I dotting and T crossing’ training programs and just want to get a workout with other like-minded people.

Starting the first week in August I’ll be offering small group training from FitStrong in Albany Creek, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9:15am to 10am.

I’ll be running fun, challenging workouts combining strength training, mobility drills and the occasional High Intensity challenges. The exact plans will of course depend on who turns up!

If you and perhaps some friends would like to come along, please book yourself in via the following link:

MAKE A BOOKING

(This will take you our group training booking site)

lego-minifigures-series-17-dance-exercise-session-1024x684

One Simple Move to Build a Healthier Back

If you’ve ever had a sore, stiff, twitchy or achey back, you’ll recall that you would do anything to get rid of it.

Whilst a couple of pills or a massage might help in the short term, they do nothing to address the underlying reason the back get annoyed in the first place.

In the majority of cases a causal factor is poor strength and mobility throughout the body. The inability to stabilise the spine in awkward position with poorly conditioning core aka torso muscles may result in tweaks and strains and the inability to place the body into awkward positions due to over tight muscles will also lead to increased risk of strains and pulls.

Without going into a lengthy post, I want to share something that helps most people most of the time to strengthen their torsos and in particular, spinal stability.

One movement series we carry out daily is the Birddog. So named due to fact you look like a hunting dog pointing at its quarry.

384b7ac36579365804710b060922f683

The Birddog consists of kneeling on hands, knees and feet (initially) and extending a leg and opposite arm whilst maintaining posture and balance.

The progressions are simple:

  • Hold the limb extended position for a number of seconds.
  • Extend slowly throughout the set.
  • Add in flexion of the torso to bring a knee and opposite hand, forearm or elbow into contact.
  • Keep the feet off the floor at all times.
  • Keep the knees off the floor at all times whilst performing the Birddog on the foot and hand.

The videos below demonstrate these and really, they can be quiet challenging even to those who consider themselves ‘barbell’ strong.

The basics are always mastered before progressing to the next level.

 

 

Good luck.

Jamie

Men Wanted … for Thrivival!

Survival vs Thrivival!

Wow, now that’s a mouthful. Hopefully it got your attention whilst everything else on the internet vies for your attention too. 

Right now there is a growing population of men entering into their 40s and heading towards their 50s, me included. We’re faced with a couple of issues in this age category. There are some of us who have been physically active since leaving school who may have picked up a few tweaks along the way. Of course, there are some too who have been either lucky or strategic (whether intentional or not) to have avoided any injuries, aches and pains. 

There are also those of us who got side-tracked after school or college and now wonder what happened to that 30″ waist and the last 20 years.

At this point, as a 44 year man, father and husband and full time trainer, I’m looking at my daughter growing up and wondering about chasing grand children around and still being able to contribute in another 20 years time. I don’t want to be like so many other 60+ men who have fallen from physical grace, struggling to achieve even the most basic of day to day physical tasks. 

But, I am man who prides himself in being able to move well without pain, who can still throw around the weights albeit with sense and planning and I still want to and plan to do just that for another 20, 30 maybe 40 years. If I can age like the late and great Jack LaLanne, still active and leading by example in my 90s, then I will.

I won’t get there by chasing arbitrary numbers in the gym, beating myself up along the way like so many other gym rats in pursuit of a random goal. I will succeed by practicing the skills of strength and mobility pertaining to what I enjoy, what I need and want to focus on. In fact, this is exactly what I have been doing for the past few years along with most of my keen and eager gym members and friends, practicing the skill of strength. Members have progressed to be able to exercise without pain, regained confidence, lowered stress and have been able to get fitter and stronger than their 10 year younger selves. 

No pain, know gain.

Thrivival (just the word I’ve coined for this piece) is about thriving in our own lives so we can live, long and happy, pain free and able to contribute to the lives of our family, community and circle of friends. 

I don’t want to go into a lengthy, explanatory article here, but I want to invite other men like me, to discover how to still train for strength, to move better without creaking and find a way of exercising that isn’t threatening, but empowering. 

Nuf said!

To recap, I’m looking for a small bunch of men aged between 40-50 (maybe older, why not) who are looking to improve their health, strength and fitness but, without getting busted up along the way. 

Men who want to:

  1. Move without aches or pains
  2. Leave a training session feeling better than when they came in
  3. Rediscover how to use your own body to get stronger and tougher

Spots are limited and I’m looking for men who want to start now between early morning sessions and mid morning sessions at least twice a week.

If this is you, please fill out the form below.

Jamie

 

Just a very, very small glance of some moves we practice.
The list of options for YOU is huge.

Top 10 Things To Do For a Great Training Session

There are many things you could do to make your next training session good, or better or even the best session ever. Here are the first 10 things that pop into my mind which are based on some of my experiences after 20 years working in personal training.

1. Wake up: there nothing quite as sabotaging as arriving at the gym having only woken up 10 minutes earlier. Get up early, drink some water, coffee if you’re a coffee person, a bite to eat if you’re a pre-trainer eater, move around a bit, brush your teeth and spray on your damn deodorant and then head off to the gym with some pumping music to really wake you up.

2. Turn Up: funny how some people don’t improve in the gym when they don’t turn up very often! Now, if you’re contagious, stay away of course. The most successful people in anything turn up. What happens after that is dependant on … next point.

3. Mobilise: you can’t expect to perform optimally if you’re as tight as a lamppost, so spend 5 to 10 minutes loosening up with a mobility routine. There are plenty of resources available from Original Strength, Ground Force Movement, the work of Eric Cressey and Michael Boyle Strength Conditioning. Find one system or combination of all of them that you like and just do it.

4. Have a Plan B: sometimes our plan calls for doing ABC but, we all get those days when our good ol body tells us that it’s not going to do ABC so well. So, what do you do? Go home? Maybe! Fight your way through it? Maybe not a great idea! How about just ease up on the intensity or use alternative movements. This is why doing a Mobility routine as part of warming up is vital. It can tell you what’s feeling off, what’s just not loosening up and it may help direct what happens next. Listen to your body.

5. Stop rushing it: I often get the impression that personal training clients think they’re paying to squeeze as much into per session. Seriously, you don’t have to be doing something vigorous every minute. Take it easy between sets, they are rest breaks – so rest. If you really want something to do, throw in a mobility drill for an upcoming movement.

6. Put your phone away: seriously, unless you’re waiting on a very important call from your boss, wife, hubby or that hot chick you met in the line at ‘Doughnut Time’, put your bloody phone away. Between your irritating message alert and your hunched over posture as you bang away on your smartphone, you’re not doing your training session any good.

7. Leave the ego at home: I’m sure we’ve all born witness to the guy or gal in the gym who loses the plot over a missed rep or forgetting their hand panties, sorry, I mean workout gloves. Being honest, I was once one of those gym rats who took it all too seriously and got way too stressed. It may take a while, but learning to accept that our body knows best and often want’s us to slow up or leave a rep in the tank, is a lesson worth paying attention to.

8. Cover the essentials: for those who want to go pump arms and chest 5 days a week, well done; you’ll be making new friends soon with a physiotherapist, chiropractor, orthopaedic surgeon etal. Your training plan (you do have a plan don’t you?) may have a particular focus at a particular time, but always get in some Squatting, Lifting things off the floor, pulling and pushing, working your midsection and probably do some stuff that gets you out of breath too.

9. Keep records: how do you know you’re stronger now than 20 weeks ago? How do know how you got stronger? Why haven’t you gotten as strong as you anticipated? For a start, if you’re not measuring it you’re not managing it. Keep notes along with your plan. Note the weights, reps and sets or how you deviated from the written plan. By doing this every session for a few seconds will give you a wealth of information for future reference. Case in point: I have records going back to 1989 when I was a young up and coming cyclist.

10. Find solace in gratitude: maybe not something you’d expect on a gym to-do list but, we all get those training sessions where we could let the ego take over and go all Hulk-like or, we can learn to stand back, take a breath or two and think of something less unpleasant and realistic. We all have things that happen each and every day which we are thankful for. The smile of our child, the awesome coffee at breakfast, the blue sky, or that hot chick in the line of Doughnut Time. While seemingly inconsequential, making a habit of acknowledging the little good things holds just enough meaning to put a smile on one’s dial.

Created by Jamie Hunter

FitStrong Personal Training