For those who care about buffness

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a day in the life

i think looking at someone’s diet and regime is interesting and sometimes can give ppl ideas. i am not on a weight loss program. quite the opposite. i am one of the genetically gifted ones. i struggle to NOT lose weight.

atm i am off the protein shakes to give my body a rest from the chemicals. i still supplement around workouts w creatine and bcaas. but nothing else. normally, the below is supplemented by 2 high calories protein shakes. one in the morning instead of the muesli, and one just before bed.
for reference, i have a rather sedentary job, but i make it as painful as possible by going up and down the stairs a lot.

8am. wake up and drink a glass of water as soon as am off my feet to overcome dehydration from the night.
8.30am. breakfast 50-70g swiss style muesli w added blueberries, w semi filtered cow milk.
8.50am. 5 mile cycle ride to work. full pelt. fixed gear. sweat a lot.
10.30am-11.00am. breakfast#2 2 slices of bread w 2 slices of roasted ham type meat w lurpak butter.
1.30-2.00pm. lunch consisting of a generous slab of meat or 2, sweet potatoes w chili or boiled potatoes or pasta w chili and pesto, and greens (varying amounts, when i have time to prepare it’s salad w grated carrots, feta and cherry tomatoes, w olive oil and balsamic)
4.30-5pm. snack time generally bread w peanut butter or ham again. i use brown bread generally, w added seeds.
5.30pm 5 mile cycle back. full pelt.
6ishpm creatine and orange juice pre workout
6.30 workout
7ish orange juice w bcaas post workout
7.30-8pm dinner time. similar to lunch but generally bigger portions and followed by tea and sometimes mince pies if near enough xmas.
10pm snack time humous w pitta bread and avocado or cherry tomatoes, or cottage cheese w bread.
12am bedtime (more or less respected. i never get my 8 hours sleep ever, which is NOT a good thing!)

so as you see, i try to add as many small meals as possible around lunch and dinner. i firmly believe it’s the key to keeping your metabolism high.

for those trying to shed weight i would recommend having many small portions a day, loading up on protein as opposed to carbs and fast sugars. and workout workout workout. train, do more, do cardio, weights whatever, but DO SOMETHING. always be on the move. become perpetual motion. the enemy of overweight ppl is a sedentary habit. sitting down too much. stand up, wave your arms. fidget w your legs, BURN CALORIES! get your metabolism revving.

not easy i hear you say? (and god knows i have heard it a lot “oh you’re just a lucky git you can eat what you want”, “i have a slow metabolism i can’t help it”)
well wake up and smell the coffee sunshine. nothing is easy. i didn’t get the body i have by sitting on my arse and postponing til tomorrow. i stood up and worked hard. day in day out. i suffer from multiple injuries (some self inflicted by my own ignorance) and workout through/around them. working out IS painful. you will ache. be out of breath. sweat like a pig. feel like your heart will jump out of your chest. vomit your lunch under the strain.

life is painful. embrace the pain. work to be who you want to be. it starts NOW. not tomorrow.

that sounds like a rant right? well i guess it is. i just get annoyed when ppl just expect results without putting in the effort. nothing is easy in life.

it takes dedication, stubbornness, persistence and a healthy dose of obsession to get where you want to be.


a word about volume, load and rest

according to my PT training notes, these are the official figures for goal driven workouts. depending on what goal you have, these should be more or less respected, as usual keeping in mind that what works for one person might not for the next.
these are merely guidelines, and need to be adapted in function of the person’s metabolism and genetic abilities.

i put in bold the areas that interest me, and to show that hypertrophy training is very different from strength training.

volume:

Goal Rep Range Set Range
Strength <6 3-4
Power 6-8 2-3
Endurance 12-15 2-3
Hypertrophy 6-12 4-5

load:

Goal Rep Range Workload (%RM)
Strength <6 80-100%
Power 6-8 30-70%
Endurance >15 30-50%
Hypertrophy 6-12 70-90%

rest period:

Goal Rest Period Duration
Strength 4-6 minutes
Power 4-6 minutes
Endurance 30-60 seconds
Hypertrophy 1-2 minutes


myprotein cookies!

Arnoldcat recently fed me a myprotein white choc almond flavoured cookie. what a surprise this was!
they’re extremely addictive. to the point where am wondering whether they put crack in them!

each 75g cookie consists of…

– 1342kJ
– 37.5g protein
– 19.5g carbs
– 9.9g fat
– 0.2g sodium

yes 37.5g of protein! in a cookie.
they are rather tasty, like marzipan in fact, somewhat the texture is like marzipan too. careful tho, they’re a bit of a handful and it takes a while to actually eat them!

however the major downside is the price. 12 cookies per box coming up at £16.49. that’s a whopping £1.37 per cookie. ouch. i guess am gonna have to start selling all my electronics to afford this new habit. oh wait i was already doing that.


Army training

Yesterday I went to an army training class with a company called forces fit. It’s not an easy class, everybody gets grouped according to ability. They have three levels blue for beginners, green for intermediate and red for advanced. I was in the green as my friend, who I went with, volunteered me for the same group that she was in but she has been going for a while. They have regular fitness assessments which will give you an indication which group is the right one for you and to see any improvements you gained through your training. In short it’s pretty much cardio circuit training, great for improving cardio fitness and losing weight.
It starts off with warm up, in the class I did it was first running, then a game of tag with lots of pushups and sit-ups thrown in followed by warm up stretches, which was done by all levels together. then the levels split up into two groups beginner/intermediate and intermediate/advanced. The intermediate people got to decide which group they wanted to join. Busier classes might split into three groups. As it was my first class and because my friend did the same, we stayed in the beginner/intermediate group. Both beginners and intermediates did the same exercises but the intermediates did more repetitions.
In this post I will focus on the beginner/intermediate workout as that’s the one I’ve done. The group was split into two groups to compete in a sprinting game. The group who lost, my group unfortunately, had to do push ups, situps and burpees. Then we did a circuit with three stations, the first round they were lunges on the left leg, push ups, lunges on the right leg. The second round was plank from elbows to plank on hands starting with the left, squat thrusts, plank from elbows to plank on hands starting with the right. The third round was side plank twisting to the front on the left side, plank with knee-elbow touches, side plank twisting to the front on the left side. Each round had to be repeated three times. After each round was completed three times we had to do one set of dips on a bench after the first, incline pull ups with an overhand grip after the second and incline pull ups with an underhand grip after the third. In between stations we had to run and to round it all off another st of dips.
Then we moved on to another part of the field, where we had to pair up. The next exercises had a set up of two stations. At the first station one partner would do one exercise until the other partner had run to the second station done a set of the exercise at that station and run back to the first station, then the partners switched, each round had to be completed twice before the exercises changed. The exercises were: pushups, burpees, situps, lunges, plank with knee-elbow touches, squat thrusts in no particular order.
In the end we did cool down stretches, which I had to modify for myself to get anything out of it.

My verdict: It was a tough class and halfway through I felt a bit sick from all the running but if you can stick with it it will definitely improve your fitness heaps and it’s great if you want to loose weight. The intensity of the class really gets your heart rate up and you only get short periods of rest, which makes it similar in effectiveness to HIIT I imagine.

This was me at the end of class:


Straps Conditioning part 1

Straps are great for conditioning your upper body and core. I’ve made a video of a few of my favorite conditioning exercises on straps. After a ground based warm up I usually start with skinning the cat as a warm up for my training on straps. I do about 5 repetitions, when I’m only doing a conditioning session I aim for 3 sets, when I’m doing other training as well I might only do one. The first part of skinning the cat is just a leg lift, then you take your legs over your head and lower on the other side as low as you can and then reverse the whole motion.

The next exercise I show on the video is what I call middle to middle. From your legs on either side of one arm, lower your bum and lift back up so that your legs are on either side of the other arm. This exercise really work your core. I usually do 10 repetitions (5 on each side) for a conditioning sessions I aim for 3 sets otherwise I might just do one.

The next one is lowering from middle. Another great exercise for the core as you have to keep your body balanced while you’re lowering your legs. Eventually you can work up to lifting back up.

The last exercise in the video is sideplanche to sideplanche. This exercise takes some getting used to as you lower to the side with your arm behind your back. This really works the back muscles as well as the obliques on the way back up.
 

Straps Conditioning

 

 


neglected rear delts

after reading a little about this on the web, i decided that my rear delts had been neglected in favour of the more prominent and visible front delts.
for those unsure of the anatomy here’s a little help:
 

 
all too often, athletes will favour the front and middle delts but miss out on the rear delt. which is hidden behind the shoulder joint.
the front delt is involved in a lot of exercises involving abduction. it’s a synergist to the pecs and even to the triceps when performing dips. it’s also extremely easy to target when doing front raises.
the rear delt however is harder to target, also because everyone is so obsessed w isolating lats. rear delts will rarely engage if lats are involved.
for ppl who know about skinning the cat, rear delts are the primary hyperextensors for the shoulder.

so i found a couple of exercises to make sure rear delts are targeted during workouts:

– barbell rear delt raise. a very interesting exercise, tho i find you need a lot of weight to feel anything and the rom is deceptively short. it seems impossible also to avoid elbows flaring out while doing it.
yet it works, here’s a picture:

-seated dumbbell lateral raise. very hard but oh so satisfying. this move is king for rear delts. it can also be performed standing while leaning the upper body forward, or even lying on a bench. however i prefer this version, mostly because a magazine once described it as “the move which will make you more 3D than avatar”.

-for those who have access to a pec deck machine and can do reverse flies, this is also a very good exercise. however be very careful to keep elbows up to avoid involving the lats! if this is a problem, the trick is to use a thumbs down grip, that will force the elbows to be at the same height as the shoulders.

and what about the lateral (middle) delts then? we shall see in the next blog post…


lats exercises

As i was told my lats are too small in my last straps session, i guess it’s time to punish these babies!

so  what exercises are good for lats, and furthermore, what exercises can you do without having to go to the gym…

well the very first thing that comes to mind is pull ups. if you dont have a pull up bar then get the hell off my blog because quite frankly, you missed the buffness train. it costs £10 at Argos, no excuses!

pulls of any kind are good for lats, but i found the narrow ones target them more than wide ones which focus more on upper shoulder muscles like the teres.

here’s an old video i made:

as for the grip, it’s good to experiment to find out which targets your muscles best and challenges you more. once you’re comfortable w doing 3 x 10 reps (if you’re looking for volume like me, not to failure), then you can add weights. no need for any kit there tho a belt is nice and plush. a simple backpack will do, load it up and feel the burn.

before i get on to using a little more equipment, i found this exercise online:

if you skip to 2’20 you can see he is doing a version of the barbell ab roll that doesnt actually involve a barbell but merely a towel. i will try this one and report. generally this exercise is used for flexors/abs and core more generally, so am curious to see how it involves lats. (tho i guess lats are synergists in this move always, but perhaps the slightly different angle and fact that you have to press down on the floor might help)

so what next then?

– barbell pullovers: all you need for this is a loaded barbell and a (hopefully solid) coffee table or similar that can act as a bench. the key thing is to work w arms as straight as possible, tho a slight bend in the elbow is acceptable, depending on shoulder flexibility you will be able to go lower.
to give you an idea until i get my own video up here:

this can be done w bent elbows too, tho i found my triceps engaged more w bent arm, and thus the lats weren’t as isolated.

– no name band lateral pulldown of sorts (it hasn’t got a name yet): an interesting exercise was suggested to me: using the chinup bar, swing a theraband over, kneel under the bar, grab each end of the band w arms extended straight over head, and pull down to your sides, keeping arms in line w the body in the frontal plane.
i will upload a video of this move tonight. however, i found that my teres muscles engaged a lot more than my lats while i did that exercise, to the point where i am not even sure that the lats engage at all! so i’d say, try it out but check what muscles you are working.

so then, that’s a couple of things to try out without having to pay the dreaded gym membership.

but. the gym does bring a couple of exercises that are fun and give a bit of variety:

– cable straight arm pulldowns:

self explanatory really. to make sure the lats are as isolated as possible, try to keep correct form the whole time. a similar exercise w bent arms is used for triceps isolation so keep these arms straight!

– cable pulldown:

there again form is important do not arch and lower the bar til it touches your chest. i find it hits harder if i dont let my arms go back to 100% full extension and keep everything under tension throughout the whole set. narrow grip can be used too, i find wider is harder!

that’s it for now. just a few lat basics to keep us going. i will update when i think of more exercises.


back in the gym!

as i was able to go to a gym again for the day this weekend, it reminded me how unvaluable it is to have access to machines sometimes.

i am a big fan of free weights and a firm believer that it is all you need to build a buff body.
but then the gym adds a certain fun factor that shouldn’t be overlooked.

first, you dont have to be as efficient w time, as you don’t need to accommodate for weights re-racking and moving bits of furniture around your lounge.
second, the various machines add a variety to a workout that is normally limited to whatever weight/dumbbell combos you have. (not to mention they can unleash your lifting potential, like a smith machine is unrivaled in terms of deadlifts and squats)
third, given my shoulder problems, i was able to do a couple of new exercises fairly safely as my form was enhanced by the structure of the machines.
fourth, well there is always the couple of odd individuals w bad hairstyles and grunting tendencies that make your trip worthwhile.

am hoping to make the gym trips a regular occurence.

the machines i particularly appreciated were the pec deck, the seated row machine and the assisted chin up/dip machine.

the pec deck has a terrible reputation for injuries because of the overstretching risk. now guys, come on, you can actually set it up for the return position to be comfortable! i just don’t get how anyone would get injured overstretching from that. and if you feel your pecs are about to rip, well perhaps it’s time to look at stretching them full stop! most big guys get really short pecs (i can’t talk mine are also real short from aerials), i guess since they shift a lot of plates it could potentially injure them on the return if the position is too far out.
but anyhow, this machine is priceless for me. it means i can work my rear delts very nicely, without fearing for my shoulder joints as much.

the seated row is also a very interesting machine i always enjoyed using. mostly because it’s hard to generate the same amount of tension without the machine itself. you can always try w elastic bands but it’s impossible to get the same weight without the machine i think.

as for the assisted chin machine, well no i don’t need it for normal chins. but if like me you’re working on one armed pulls, get on! it allows me to work w lifting 30kg on the one arm. and getting 25kg counter balanced. so instead of brutally working on negative pulls at home on the one arm, i can use that machine to improve my one armed strength whilst feeling like i am lifting up! very pleasant!

pics/vids to come soon!


bounce protein balls

a new interesting product has appeared on the market. Arnold tipped me about the bounce protein balls. they’re rather hard to come by in shops (waitrose ftw) but if you do find them, have a go.

so far i have only tried the peanut ones:

so yes a rather amazing 14g of protein for something that big:

the consistency is that of a very chewy chocolate free snickers bar. and the taste too, albeit a little more salty. the contents:

a 49g ball contains:
210kcal
protein 14g
carbs 19g
fat 8g
sodium 0.17g
(oh and 2g of fibre)

compare it w a snickers bar:

for 100g:
511kcal
protein 9.4g
carbs 54.3g
fat 28.2g
sodium 0.18g
fibre 1.3g

so compare it to 100g of protein ball:
429kcal
protein 29g
carbs 39g
fat 16g
sodium 0.35g
fibre 4g

the numbers speak for themselves. the only slightly problematic thing is the sodium.
fancy a snack? have a protein ball and leave the snickers bar well alone. but now since i had to buy a snickers bar to do that comparison, i have to eat it. shame 🙂


weight gain: to graze or not to graze?

so after 5 weeks without training i have lost 4kg (make that 3kg, i have put on 1kg since i started writing this article).
prob not just my upper body as i got a lovely burn in my legs from cycling for the first time again.

this prompted a debate w my flatmates about diet and food intake.

now that i can start training parts of my body again it’s time to get back to LOMAD. since i have started cycling, my appetite has increased again thankfully so it’s time to eat these calories.
however, i am not a big fan of massive meals. so i tend to graze all day long. which is why LOMAD is useful in the sense that i can drink a lot of milk all day, making sure that i am hydrating (am on creatine) and nourishing at the same time.

i am probably an ectomorph “hybrid” (if such things do indeed exist). see the table below for a description of what the hell that is supposed to be (taken from my PT training notes):

and a slighty more dance oriented description (from some dance kinesiology book, click on the pic for details):

now a word of caution about the somatotypes, i do not necessarily agree w all this but it is a good start for understanding how bodies function and how differently they respond to exercise and nutrition. the best approach is to try out different ways of bulking up, and pick elements of each diet that work on your own particular body.

one of my flatmates is an acrobat and hellbent on having LARGE meals fewer times a day (particularly dinner time). her argument is that while rehearsing, she cannot afford to graze as digestion impedes her ability to do physical stuff. her other argument is that to beat a fast metabolism and make it slower, grazing is the worst possible thing as it will only increase the metabolic rate.

this article is pretty interesting:

http://www.body-building-resource.com/weight-gainer-supplements-real-mass.shtml

this article feels semi sponsored by the gaspari team (oh btw i used their myofusion powder in the past, very good results and lovely chocolate taste but oh so pricy).

basically they argue that skinny “hard gaining” types should eat little and often, and pair that diet w a training consisting of HEAVY weights.

“An ectomorph needs to focus his or her efforts on muscle building and eating regular meals like 5-6 every 2-3 hours but in smaller portions. Forget about the 3 big meals per day. Just because you’re an ectomorph doesn’t mean you need to gulp down tons of calories in one sitting. This is actually a wrong way of eating. Instead, by providing your body with a constant supply of food and vital nutrients divided into 5-6 small meals, not only do you boost your metabolism but you also stimulate more body growth. Nutrition is crucial because not eating properly won’t yield desired results no matter how hard you train. Knowing what to eat(quality of the foods), when(every 2-3 hours) and how much(5-6 meals in smaller quantities) is fundamental for gaining weight and muscle mass.”

i have always thought there were other ways to deal w (lean) weight gain than sitting down 3 times a day to eat 1kg of food in one go w a tub of butter to top it all up.
i tested this approach and this is the ONLY way i found to put on weight which left me feeling good about myself (and prevented a build up of fat! not that i put much on, but i want to put on LEAN mass not fat, and i know it’s possible without going through the dreaded “pile on the pounds and cut” system so many body builders rave on about).

but this way does take dedication too.

first you must stick to the eating. it can be difficult when you are at work and focused on something (or training for that matter). personally i have food on my desk at all times. i try to make sure i have 3 core meals a day and snacks all around that. my day typically starts w a hardcore shake (see previous posts for ingredients), morning snack(s), lunch, afternoon snack(s), dinner, pre bed snack (bring on the cottage cheese and toast). i am sure a physical performer could graze all day if the right arrangements were made. like using protein shakes and taking sips throughout rehearsal times etc…

second you must train regularly to ensure you break muscles and rebuild them with all the nice nutrients injested: atm am still recovering from surgery but am trying to have 3 workouts a week. weights mostly. plus i cycle 5 days a week about 10 miles a day to get to work. and that’s not tourist cycling, but full on racing, on a fixed bike too (not enough adrenalin otherwise). without regular training there will be NO muscle gains. oh and stretching isn’t training btw, it’s stretching (which has its place pre and post training!). the kind of training i mean hurts, makes you out of breath and gets your heart pounding. and it lasts for a good 45 mins. (another post will come about this, duration, reps etc, but this post isn’t the place). it’s meant to damage your muscles so hypertrophy can occur as a natural reaction to exercise that challenges your strength. so beware of “maintenance” training. you want to challenge yourself EVERY single workout and destroy these muscles to the fibres rebuild bigger and stronger.

lastly, cheat and boost your intake w LOMAD. i can’t seem to stop going on about it heh? well the reason is that it bloody works. drinking one litre of milk a day adds a nice amount of calories and protein to your normal grazing diet.

i found that i am able to train shortly after eating one of my daily meals/snacks (unless i am too lazy to do so) and definitely more than capable of training after my morning shake (i cycle practically straight away at a very rapid pace). i think the key here is how easily assimilated the food is. so better smaller portions of easily digestible food that go down quick and do not focus so much blood on the stomach, than a massive meal which will leave you sleepy and bloated, and needing a loo 🙂