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Posts Tagged ‘ripped’

Gymnasts don’t use reps, sets and 3 days a week routines

I’m all for knowing a lot of the science behind getting the most from your training, but it’s not the most important factor.

The most important factor is just training, a LOT.  If you do that you’ll know what works for you and why anyway.  Then you can start to read a few books and educate yourself.  You can try things out and see how it goes for you.

When you are starting though you just need to get going, try just about anything.  See what effect it has.

When gymnasts train they just do the moves, and do them for hours everyday.

gymnast

Trainers nowadays are chronically afraid of overtraining, but that’s often due to doing ridiculous things that you know you shouldn’t be doing anyway.

It’s hard to overtrain using bodyweight exercises, and that’s not to say they don’t get to extremely high resistance, because they do with using one arm or difficult leverage points like handstand push ups etc.  The more natural the training the better because involving all the smaller muscles, skill, coordination and balance engages the brain more, which hugely improves results and also recovery.  Static contractions, kettlebells, bodyweight exercise, some weights exercises and playing sport are ‘natural training’.  The body is amazing at adapting to hard and regular training after a few weeks, especially if it is a sport or natural types of training.

If you just commit to training everyday or almost everyday, over time, you’ll work out how much and how hard to train.

You can also read up on sets and reps and try things out.

My point here is that a lot of people are getting caught up in the how and forgetting the main factor is to keep taking action.  The person who just keeps doing the training and improving his/her strength (even if they do it ‘wrong’) will end up getting way better results than the person who does all the reps and sets to a tee, but doesn’t push hard enough to improve regularly and turns up sporadically.

Those fellas that exercise on the monkey bars just go and train every day or every second day and do the best they can.  They aim to get better, and do so regularly.  They usually are training 6-12 months before they show any interest in the science of it, if they ever do.  Either way, they end up with amazing strength, athleticism and ripped muscular physiques.

So I’m going to break down for you what is really important:  Train a lot, train as naturally as possible and aim to improve at it regularly.  That’s it.

The rest of it is just fine tuning.

The Dragon’s favourite exercise

Bruce Lee is famous for his explosive speed, strength and his very ripped physique.  His abilities came from his superior mind-body connection.  He created this largely from using isometric exercise.  Isometrics are static contractions.  It is a powerful combination of mental focus and physical exercise, because you are creating the contraction mentally.

BruceLee

If you show off your bicep to someone and mentally flex or contract the muscle to tighten it, you are doing isometrics.  If animals in the wild who live and die by survival instinct and one of the greatest athletes of our time use these exercises extensively, then I’m sure you’ll agree this is an exercise worth looking at.

The uses and possibilities of isometrics are endless.  It is very helpful for flexibility in alternating contractions with relaxing into the stretch.  I’ve a whole report on my website about that, which is a great thing to use.  You will find it mind boggling how much further you can stretch immediately using this method.

Static contractions are proven to create 5% more strength every week in any muscle trained 3 times per week or more.

You can also hit just about any angle, any part of the range of motion and even the smallest muscles using isometrics.  The usefulness of this is huge.  For one thing, it makes it a lot easier to do sport specific exercises or target muscles needing rehab.

Add to all this the fact that you are creating a powerful link from the mind/brain to the muscles and you have something very powerful.

As we point out a lot here, the more your brain is involved during exercise the more you are going to get out of it in terms of performance, hormone response, neurological and physical adaptations.

However, SC not a complete exercise either.  I wouldn’t recommend isometrics as a stand alone routine.  You aren’t really strengthening your joints without putting actual weight on them, so isotonic exercise or movement with resistance is also needed.  You are also not practising movement.

However, isometrics are quick and easy to do and are a phenomenal compliment to any type of training.  Some things to note are that often the strength you gain from isometrics will only translate 10 degrees either side of the point of contraction.  In other words, it is a good idea to contract your muscles at about 3 different places in its range of motion.

It is also a good idea to relax your muscles periodically in a session, maybe after three or four 6-10 second contractions.  Relaxing only takes a few seconds, but it is good to shake the tension out, release and relax the muscles again.  Using your breathing is very useful for doing this as well.

You only really need to be aware.  Most people probably won’t even need to do the relaxation part, but a lot of us are so used to holding onto tension that we may not let go properly after a contraction exercise.

Tension when you don’t need it hampers your coordination, calmness and balance.  Learn how to avoid that, by learning how to relax your muscles as well.

When you picture Bruce Lee training what you see is total body control.  He is able to tense and relax at will in perfect timing.  He’s gained a lot of this from static contractions.  You will see him pull against a rope as hard as he can, push against something and then start exploding into speed moves.  This is all using the mind-muscle connection over and over again to grease the groove and create better and better neurological connections between the brain and the muscles.  That’s where his extreme muscle density, ridiculous speed and explosive power came from.

Thank you for your legacy and wisdom Mr. Lee.

‘Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one’, Bruce Lee.

Why you want to be like a frog

The frog is an advanced creature at jumping, swimming and generally using his/her legs fluidly, explosively and with awesome strength.

We humans can learn a lot from the humble amphibian.

We are tensed up.

You want to be loose as a goose for various reasons.  It makes you feel better, it gives you more energy, mental clarity and you become better at doing just about any task.

It’s all about balance.  Strength is good, but flexibility is more important.

It’s fine to build muscle or strength or both, but don’t neglect flexibility in the process.  You can have powerhouse muscle’s like a frogs legs, but still be fluid and loose.

There’s a former world champion wrestler called Matt Furey.  He’s burly and naturally muscular and he’s also done lots of strength training.  If there was ever a guy that you’d think wouldn’t be flexible it’d be him, yet is muscles are so ‘soft’ that he can do the splits.  He achieved that later on by flexibility work.

That’s where you want to be.

It’s all about balance.  We tend to be tensed up so we need to stretch out for relaxation, stress relief and health.  We sit forward a lot, so we need to stretch in certain directions that bit more than others.  Strength is great too, but its the other side of the coin to flexibility and having both is the best place to be, for health, performance and injury prevention.

It is also better to strengthen using your own bodyweight (some free weight exercises are good too) to improve coordination, balance, hit many angles, smaller muscles and strengthen the spine so you are getting way more out of it and also not creating imbalances.

You don’t want to neglect muscles, because that also creates tension and leaves you open to injury or back alignment issues.

Note: There are ways to increase bodyweight exercises to ridiculous resistance and difficulty levels.  Some people think there are only a few simple bodyweight exercises like two handed push ups and pull ups.  That’s only start of it.

The animals in the wild have it right.  They have an instinct that many of us have lost.  Everyday, they stretch themselves out, they do static contractions for strength, they exercise naturally using their own bodyweight, they play and spar with each other.

It gives them the best chance to enjoy life and survive.  Similar training gives us the best chance to survive, be at our happiest and flourish.  The ancients observed animals and created great methods like Yoga (you don’t have to do Yoga per se).

We just have to start where we are, see the benefits and keep improving until we are a master like Matt Furey.  All it takes is a little bit of daily exercise and rejuvenation time.

I like what Irish UFC fighter Conor McGregor says about training and how he gets ready for fights.  Many people would think the best way to get ready for a fight would be heavy sparring and pumping weights.  McGregor does very little of that, he spends 90% of his training time on skills, balance, flexibility, fluid animal movements and bodyweight training.  Not many UFC fighters train like this, but he’s got the best physique, speed, he’s the strongest and is currently wiping out his whole division.

Be like a frog.

Why I love heart rate monitors and why you should too

Training intensity is crucial for injury prevention, optimal progress, knowing what cardiovascular system you are improving, how hard to train and many more things.

Heart rate monitors give you feedback.

They will tell you how hard to train and even how often. This is invaluable.

Based on your age and maximum heart rate you can work out the heart rate zone you should be training in. For aerobic fitness you will want to be staying in the 70-80% zone. Any higher than this for long periods on a continual basis and you run the risk of injury or burnout.

This will also derail progress because you won’t be recovering properly. You need to train hard enough, but not over do it.

With modern heart rate monitors you can even set the heart rate zones so that it beeps when you go out of a particular zone. This really helps in my experience. There’s no ambiguity.

It’s also very easy to stick to a progressive plan this way.

The best heart rate monitors I’ve used are Polar fitness watches. They are great. Also beware that most HRM’s on machines aren’t always accurate for some reason. You are better off just biting the bullet and getting a proper one.

Nowadays there are also Heart Rate Variability or HRV testers. These are really useful in indicating how well you’ve recovered and how hard to train on any given day. This is also really useful because it can be hard to know when to go all out and when to train easy. This gives you physiological markers that tell you what would be best. There is a sweetspot for the most effective training and it is enough stimulation to force adaptation but not so much to burn you out.

If you overtrain you are open to injury, underperformance or adrenal burnout, and this can totally derail your training until you heal.

I use a HRV monitor called ithlete everyday. It cost £40 and comes with an app. You wrap the sensor over your index finger and plug it into your phone. The app then tells you what condition you are in today, how recovered you are and how hard to train. It is so useful.

These tools give you a better plan, one that is more enjoyable, more definite, increases performance and helps you stay clear of preventable injuries.

I highly recommend making a relatively small investment in these training monitors that will give you benefit for years to come.

Why most vegetable oils are not good for you

We have a diet that is imbalanced to omega 6 fatty acids, instead of omega 3. Nearly all vegetable oils are rich in omega 6. We need that too, but we already get plenty of it from food. We don’t get enough omega 3 and they are anti-inflammatory. Too much omega 6 is pro-inflammatory. Inflammation causes problems with cholesterol, cardiovascular issues, pain, joint issues and all sorts of other goodies.

That’s why fish oil is recommended so often, because it gives you plenty of omega 3’s in the direct form of DHA (which doesn’t have to be broken down).

You should also try to limit any other oils you take, because they are probably omega 6. Olive oil in a small amount is good, because it is omega 9 and those help the cell membranes, but we tend to be okay for omega 9 anyway.

Also, vegetable oils that are omega 3, like Flax seed oil, are basically useless because the enzymes needed to break them down are usually tied up with all the other fats we assimilate.

That’s why it is best to supplement with fish oil.

A good vegetable oil to use is coconut oil. It doesn’t need to be broken down and although it’s not addressing the omega fatty acid balance either way, it is a great source of energy. It enters the system straight away and actually aids fat burning. It helps the body to use fat for fuel, and especially in the first half of the day, it can also aid the body in mobilising and burning body fat (by processes described in the book).

It also contains stearic acid, as does bacon, which is very good for cell membranes.

Granma knew best when she gave you bacon and eggs.

Despite the publicity, the real science says animal fat is good for you and vegetable fats are often a problem creator. I wouldn’t go crazy on the saturated fat because although it is good for you (also good for cell membranes), too much of it can cause cell membranes to get too rigid, but that’s at a crazy amount. It’s not a huge worry. However, fish or chicken without skin is sometimes better than beef.

There are also warnings about dietary cholesterol, but blood cholesterol gets high from inflammation and not directly not from diet.

Diet does play a large role, but indirectly.

The main cause of inflammation is excess body fat and an imbalance of too much omega 6 in the diet (not enough omega 3). Plus, excess body fat is ironically not caused by too much fat in the diet, but too many carbs. Body fat is stored via insulin, which is stimulated by carbs. Carbohydrates are bad if not used correctly. They are what we need to watch and the omega 6 vegetable fat, not the animal fat.

The best diet for health and fat loss is described very well at www.precisionphysique.com/carbbackloading.html

How to build dense muscle

First of all, why would you want to?

If you aren’t very familiar with bodybuilding or physique training, have you ever wondered why some people have really dense hard looking muscle and how that is different to what is normally associated with muscular?

Well, a dense muscle is a very strong muscle. The density or hardness is showing a lot of fibres. Muscular endurance will build more tissue and fluid in a muscle, but it won’t build great density.

For maximising health, appearance and performance you need the density first and foremost. Have you ever seen a bodybuilder that just looked like a lump of cheese (even with very low body fat), who couldn’t run or do a push up to save his life?

Well, that’s a guy that has built balloon muscles on gym machines that are useless in real life.

He’s stayed in only muscle mass rep ranges and also has used weights that are balanced on a machine or on cables. That doesn’t translate to the real world.

You need to be using a variation of rep ranges, cycling your training and using free weights and bodyweight. That is how you master your health, physique and performance in this area.

There’s an Irish UFC fighter that is making a few waves at the moment called Conor McGregor. He’s a great example of muscle density. He has one hell of a physique. He has some size, but more importantly that physique is tip top in density.

That’s a guy with great hormone health, looks the part and has all the strength, speed and agility he needs.
Go for that physique, not the one that can’t get into nice pants anymore. Don’t end up with joint problems, cheesy muscles and poor performance outside the gym. Why do we workout? Is it to feel great, look the business and perform at sport or lifting things or what ever else? Or is it to just ‘get big’?

I’ve a chapter in my book, Precision Physique about measurements and how many people are teaching lads to get way too big and girls to get way too skinny. We actually have great data now on when people are in their best health and best appearance for their height and gender and how to get there.

It’s not an obsessive guide, but actually the opposite. The problems are created from unattainable and actually undesirable physiques that are being plastered all over magazines.

We need to change our goals to healthy ones to do with physical conditioning, athleticism, health, sound aesthetics and performance, not extremes that involve bad health, overtraining, distorted images and quite often drug use.

Why building the mind-muscle connection is important to any sportsperson, bodybuilder or gym goer

It’s important because this unseen aspect of training will increase your results.

What is the mind-muscle connection? It’s basically how many nerves are going between your brain and your muscles, and how well grooved the pathways are.

If there are more neurons and connections in your brain for handling certain muscles, then they will function better, contract with more force, fire faster, with more control, coordination etc.

A lot of this is built simply by regular training. If you lift weight you are building the mind-muscle connection to make it stronger. You are building the physical structure in muscle fibre, but you are also building the skill of strength. Your brain is also adapting to get better.

The same goes for any type of training. You have to perform technique a certain amount of times before it is second nature. That’s all neuromuscular adaptation, the neurons getting a blueprint for how to do a movement (using muscles). Anyone who’s trained for a decent amount of time, eventually gains a supra awareness of their body, ‘the mind is more in the body’. It may be noticed as simply feeling muscles contract, but it is a powerful perception and a sign of increased ability.

Furthermore, we can amplify the connection with certain exercises, and it adds a lot to results.

For example, using ballistic exercises not just builds more speed, but it is also very helpful to strength training and general performance. This is because deliberately firing muscles faster is a mental focus that builds the mind-muscle connection. It’s not uncommon for people to increase their bench press 100lbs from adding ballistic training for the chest and shoulders. A lot of this is due to engaging and growing fibres not hit in heavy resistance training, but it is also largely to do with neuromuscular adaptations.

We know it is also nerve power increase because using a different focus during strength workouts also increases lifts quite a bit.

Long term, these practises will make a very noticeable difference. We outline exactly how to put this in a program in our book, Precision Physique: Training (module 2).

How to grow a body part

This might seem like a strange title. Why not just say ‘how to build muscle mass?’

Well, that’s too general for some people’s purposes. Some people only want to grow certain body parts for sporting or aesthetic reasons.

So, can it be done? Yes, absolutely. You use exercises that target a certain body part and follow the rules of of mass building.

In building muscle size it is all about using high resistance and fatiguing the muscle. There is quite a bit of debate as to exactly how to do that, but the generally accepted wisdom is that you need to use 8-20 repetitions and not a lot of rest in between; 40 seconds to 2.5 minutes.

What we generally advise is to start with a weight where you can do 12 reps to failure (after a warm up set of 10 with a weight 50% or so lighter), take 40 seconds rest and do 4 sets with the same weight. You’ll probably end up at about 8 reps on the 4th set. Over a few weeks you will be able to do more reps. When you can do 20 reps on the first set with that weight, that’s when we advise going up to a weight you can do 12 reps with and start the process again.

This will keep the sets in the 8-20 repetition bracket, at a challenging and progressive resistance for you and will provide a lot of muscular fatigue. Any body part you do this with will start to grow and increase in size.
Other body parts can be exercised in the same way or differently. Muscle building is specific in that way, it’s about what is being hit and how.

What are good body measurements?

There are actually body measurements that are ideal for your height and gender.

And they are attainable long term for anybody with the right training and diet.

They are also not the stereotypes you often see on the front of a bodybuilding or fashionista magazine. Those dudes are often too big and the girls are often too skinny.

That’s not just what I am saying, that is what the maths is saying as well. There is a number throughout nature called Phi, or the perfect ratio. It is the design number. It is in everything from seashells, to plants, to animals, to humans. It is also used in roads, buildings, credit cards, cars, cereal boxes and lots of other things to make them structurally sounder, more visually appealing and to sell more.

Nearly all the great physique statues are on these numbers as well. We discuss the numbers in depth in our book, Precision Physique.

The extremes don’t look right, it is commercialism to try to get people after the unattainable (and actually undesirable), so they will keep buying magazines, the supplements they own, the clothes they advertise and so on.

The young people who are hell bent on getting the drug induced physiques in the pictures end up shooting steroids or with eating disorders. Not good.

So it is not just interesting information to talk about the correct health and physique goals, but it is actually very important information.

There’s nothing worse than a lean girl thinking she would look better if she was skin and bone. Her health, life and even appearance will end up in bits.

The idiots who perpetuate this madness (in the images and articles they write) need to be called out. Hopefully then eventually everyone will be aware of it and then no younger people will want to buy the stupid mags anymore (until they start publishing good material).

Is High Intensity HIIT Cardio Better For Fat Loss Than Steady State Cardio (Like Jogging)?

It is better for fat loss, but not as good as using both.

They both have pluses and minuses when it comes to burning body fat.

High intensity is great at releasing body fat and steady state is great for burning it off so that it doesn’t go back to fat storage.

Either type of cardio will burn body fat, under the right circumstances.

However, from the research and our experience HIIT is superior for fat loss because it encourages sugar to be converted into glycogen and put into carbohydrate storage in muscles. It encourages this more than sugar being converted into fat and put into fat stores. It also does this more than steady state cardio.

That’s not to say steady state exercise encourages fat storage. That’s not true either, it’s just not as effective for changing body composition.

But using both will give you the best results. HIIT is better for teaching the body to mobilise fat, and steady state is better at teaching the body to use fat for fuel. You can also do more steady state than HIIT, which means you can train more by using both, leading to greater results.

A lot of people are trying to suggest that steady state is bad for you. It’s not. Any bad results are due to overtraining, plain and simple. Too much of anything, too often, is bad for you. With steady state, overdoing it just takes longer to show up and does so in a more subtle fashion than usual, and that’s where the confusion comes from. Problems that arise from steady state overtraining are also nearly always accompanied by a lack of resistance training and excessive prolonged calorie restriction.

Using a well designed program and good tests to see when you need rest, will avoid this problem. We have a top quality cardio program in our book Precision Physique: Module 2 training, which covers all types of cardio in the one program. We also make sure you don’t overtrain.

If you do cardio correctly it is a very good fat loss strategy. And if you are strategic in using all types of cardio, then the results are even better.