1. Don't stretch before you workout.
The days of static stretching before exercise are pretty much gone. Studies have shown that static stretching before a workout can actually decrease your performance. This is especially true for strength training and has limited ability to prevent injury.
Dynamic stretches are a much more effective way to prepare for a workout. You take the body through dynamic movements, using full range-of-motion and getting the nervous system switched on. By the end of your warm-up your heart rate should be elevated with a bit of a sweat on.
For example, if you are going to do some squats...
- Jog on the spot
- High knees
- Jumping jacks
- Body weight squats
(complete each one for 20-30 seconds)
Research has shown that this type of dynamic warm-up can reduce the risk of injury, improve flexibility and strength.
2. Do a workout specific warm-up.
Once you have completed a good dynamic warm-up, its time to get specific. If for example you are about to squat (as above) then you could do some squats with very light load at a higher rep range. Not only does this get the body switched on for the exercise, you can use this time to focus on good form and correct movement patterns. Or another example could be to do a set of push-ups before a bench press.
3. Stretch after your workout.
After your workout is the time for stretching when the muscles have been worked (cold muscles are less supple). Static stretching is what you will be familiar with and should be held for at least 30 seconds, breathe deeply and relax into the stretch. It makes sense to focus on the muscles you have just been using which will help to prevent injury, speed-up recovery and reduce D.O.M.S (delayed onset muscle soreness).
4. Use a foam roller.
It's common knowledge that massage is one of the most effective ways of recovery from exercise. It will get blood flowing and help keep muscles, facia and connective tissues healthy. But what If you can't get a soft tissue or sport massage?
You can get a foam-roller for those aching muscles and use a technique called 'self-myofacial release' (SMR). You can help release those tight spots and knots, helping to rejuvenate muscles and tendons. I would recommend getting some advice on how to use a foam roller properly.
5. Rest & recover.
Unless you're a pro athlete or competitor, rest and recovery is probably one fo the most overlooked parts of training. It's tempting to think you need to go heavier and heavier or faster and faster even when your knees are aching or your shoulder is nagging you. Get advice on proper progressions and how to plan your workouts at the correct intensity.
Muscles and joints need recovery after exercise and the amount of rest needed is probably determined by your genetics. But as general rule leave at least 48 hours before training the same muscle groups. Make sure you get plenty of sleep and proper nutrition before, during and after your workouts. Overtraining is one of the biggest barriers to getting the results you're looking for, so listen to your body and get some sound advice on post-workout nutrition.
Stop guessing & start progressing...
There's lots of misconceptions about weight loss and a lot of confusion over which foods to eat, which exercises to do and which one's to avoid.
It's so confusing for most folks, especially as you hear different things all the time and it changes from one week to the next.
Here are 9 things you don't want to do (although you think you do) for weight loss.
1. Don't rely on exercise (only) to lose weight.
Exercise alone is certainly not the ket to weight loss! In fact you have to make sure your exercising properly for your goals, your body type etc. Some studies have shown that too much of the wrong kind of exercise can actually holt weight loss all together.
Don't neglect exercise though as the overall health benefits are untold and gaining lean muscle the right way will help with fat loss. Nutrition is king when it comes to weight loss. You could train every day but if you don't change what's going in your body, your body won't change.
Remember, you can't out-train a poor diet!
2. You don't have to skip meals or snacks.
If you purposely ship meals to cut calories you will probably end up eating more. You will make yourself more hungry, more irritable and likely to snack on something unhealthy. Skipping meals will also throw your blood sugar levels (insulin) around which is the opposite of what you want to be doing. In general it is better to eat less but more frequently, spaced out during the day, including snacks. Be aware of your portion size and eat snacks that are high in nutrients and fibre (veggies are always a good choice).
3. You don't need to do endless hours of cardio.
This may surprise and delight some of you! Some think that pounding the treadmill four hours is the best way to burn fat. It's no surprise as most of the cardio machines tell you about the 'fat burning zone'. It takes a long time for your body to actually get into the 'fat burning zone' and your body can start to save calories (energy). A well designed mixed program of resistance training and higher intensity cardio is more affective and you will be burning more calories at rest. Genetics will play a role in how your body responds to certain training. You may have to try different things but have some fun along the way!
4. You don't have to achieve a six-pack.
Getting a six-pack or washboard abs may seem like the holy grail of being fit and healthy. This just isn't realistic for most people. Achieving it and staying motivated is very difficult. Improving your health should be a big motivator and of course you will shed pounds along the way. Think about the positive affect on your heart, your bones, your posture and your mental well-being.
Improvements to your diet shouldn't just be about your biceps or buns. Increase your intake of whole nutritious foods, feel energised and reduce the risk of chronic illness.
5. Don't be duped into buying loads of gadgets, apps or equipment.
Any product that promises a big return for little effort should ring alarm bells. You may have seen the infomercials about the latest 'ab blaster' or miracle juice drink. Don't look for the quick fix! Nothing can beat tried and trusted basics of healthy daily habits done consistently. Being consistent with exercise and eating well will help to keep you in the calories deficit, needed for weight loss (approx -500 cals).
This means regular exercise and eating a diet of whole nutritious foods that match your activity, body type and lifestyle. There is no 'one-size-fits-all' exercise or 'diet'. Everyone is different so experiment, try new things, you will find a way that suits you and your life and your goals. Hey, why not speak to a professional? We are here to help!!!
6. You don't have to go 'gluten-free'.
Gluten free diets have been a big thing the last few years and it has been promoted by some as a sure way to lose weight. It will only be healthier to cut out gluten if you have coeliac disease or gluten intolerance, which has a damaging metabolic affect on the autoimmune system which can lead to serious health problems. You won't lose weight or improve your health just by cutting out gluten. Looking at your diet as a whole and making adjustments to your all-round intake is where you will make the biggest impact.
7. You don't have to eat ridiculous amounts of protein.
Yes protein is very important for lean muscle growth and helps you to feel more full. However, protein has the same amount of energy per gram (4 calories) as carbohydrate. In general most people don't eat enough protein so getting some with each meal (1 palm-size for women 2 for men or equivalent) should be ok. This is a starting point that would need to be adjusted depending on your goals, amount of exercise etc. Be aware of protein that is high in fat or protein bars/products that are high in sugars as this will add up in your daily calorie intake.
8. You don't have to cut out fat from your diet.
If you ditch all high fat foods like butter or only choose fat-free versions of your usual favourites then you will probably feel hungry or unsatisfied. Getting a balance of healthy fats like omega 3 and 6 into your daily diet has been shown to help with cravings and feelings of fullness. There are also health benefits of getting healthy fats daily. Be cautious of low-fat versions of foods as they will often have added sugars to compensate for flavour. Choose 'real' natural versions of healthy fats in moderation.
9. You don't have to cut out fruit.
I have seen and read about some 'diets' that ban fruit all together because of their amount of sugar. The natural sugar in fruits is a much slower digesting than added processed sugars so won't cause such a 'spike' in blood sugar levels. There is the added benefit of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and fibre in fruits. Like all the food groups, be mindful of how this fits into your diet in the bigger picture.
Stop guessing & start progressing...✌️
The first thing to remember about supplements is that they should only be used to supplement good nutrition, regular exercise and a good recovery strategy. My first recommendation for 'supplements' is to eat real foods and to work on getting a good sleep ritual.
There are so may supplements out there, some good, some bad, some work, some don't. Of course there are many supplements out there that are good.
Before I use or recommend a supplement I research it and look for independent studies that back up the proclaimed benefits. A lot of supplement companies will hold their own 'studies' so you have to be cautious of this.
Here are 10 supplements that I know do work and that I take or have taken myself.
Stop guessing & start progressing!
We are now coming to the last few weeks of Simon's Pegg’s training cycle for 'Mission: Impossible 6'. I am glad to report that 'Agent Benji Dunn' is in tip-top condition and will be ready for action. In fact, he's in the best shape of his life! You can see a snap-shot of Simon's training schedule for weeks 8-12 in the picture below.
As usual Simon has been dedicated to both his training and nutrition plan. The change in his body composition and fitness level reflect this. What has been really interesting this time is, as well as the training and nutrition methods that worked well for previous film roles, we've added Genetics into the mix!
We have tweaked both his training and nutrition plan based on the results of a DNA test.
The results of this test told us about Simon's response to power and endurance training, recovery and gave us detailed information on his micronutrient needs. His recommended 'diet-type' is low-carb as his geno-type suggests. The nutrition plan he is following is based on this but adjusted for his training and goals.
Look out for examples of Simon's training, workouts and results which will be posted soon!
If you would like to learn more about how genetics can help you optimise your training and nutrition or you would like to train like 'Agent Benji' then get in touch.
Be Happy, Be Healthy...
This is the back and biceps workout that we are using in Simon Pegg's current training cycle.
I always advocate a 'functional' warm-up with mobility drills and one that it relevant to the workout, e.g. spinal flexion and extension.
8-12 Reps @ 80% 1RM
Rest 30-60s between exercises
This will always include static stretches held for 30s on the muscles that have been worked. The TRX is a good way of doing this if you have one near.
I love to use the battle ropes either as a stand alone session or as part of HIIT circuit. You can add another dimension with a Bosu to challenge your core and stability. You will find ropes and a Bosu on most gym floors now so use them to mix up your workouts. Why not do this routine as a 'finisher' at the end of your session to create even more of a calorie burn.
30s each exercise, 30s rest
Rest 2-3 mins, repeat x 3
45s each exercise, 30s rest
Rest 2-3 mins, repeat x 3
1 min each exercise, 1min
Rest 2-3 mins, repeat x3
Author, Nick Lower
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