Posts Tagged ‘workout’

I often get asked by clients and friends some very similar questions;

‘what is the most important thing for me to be doing in order to get where I want?’ 
‘Should I be training 2 hours a day, every day?’ 
‘I ate like crap at the weekend Joff, do you think I should get on the treadmill for half an our to combat that?’

Here I hope to answer many of those questions by sharing with you what I and prob almost every smart coach or trainer out there would see as the holy trinity of body composition.

Before i go onto this holy trinity i want to discuss what i mean whenI talk about body composition. What I’m talking about is how much muscle mass you have in comparison to fat mass. I don’t mean how big and muscly you are,  I mean how lean you are as that is ultimately what most people are striving for. Not being the biggest or smallest but looking the best nekkid! Weight loss is a stance I detest, it can be a nice guide initially when looking to drop body fat but in the end I always ask this question;

“Would you rather weight 7-10pounds more than your ‘ideal’ weight and look fantastic or weigh 7-10 less and not look as good?” 

This is a real situation that many people, particularly women find difficult to comprehend because we are constantly told that it is our weight that matters. I could point out plenty of people who’s weight and size might be classed as normal but they may have 20-30% body fat. They in many cases would weigh less than someone of the same size who has a body fat % of somewhere between 10-15%. In the long run, with regards to health and materialistic shallow views on each other, it is the leanest that tend to win popularity and live longer lives.

So how do you reach the lean potential that many people have the right and opportunity to reach? Here are the three things that when combined will make the greatest changes on how you look and feel.

1. Training
2. Nutrition
3. Sleep/Rest

Three simple areas that when combined produce the best results. Let me explain each one then I’ll go into more detail about how they as a whole create the best of the best!

1. Training

This is a fairly simple one to explain. If you’re training program is either old, not specific enough for you, poorly periodised, or just flat out crap then you have no hope in hell in reaching your goals in the gym and the fat loss or muscle building ones you may have in relation to this.  If you are training to win mr Olympia and you’re training program sucks, then you won’t get anywhere. If you are an athlete who wants to improve your power or work rate and your program is poorly periodised or lacks progression then you will stay stagnant or even worse become injured. Or if you are like most people who set foot in the gym and just want to fit into that new dress or pair of jeans, or look good for those holiday snaps.  If you’re training program consists of 20mins of cross trainer, 20 mins of bike followed by 30 stomach crunches then progress is not going to become your middle name I’m afraid. Trust me on this, I’ve seen it a thousand times before and I have never seen any of the above examples help those individuals reach their goals.

Your training program has to be exactly that. Yours! Specific, measurable, progressive and motivating! All of these variables have to be in a program or it will fail. As Joe Ken, someone who i think is one of the most interesting coaches in the strength and conditioning world once said; “program writing is an art, and I think of myself as am artist’.  As we all know, there is a very big difference between a monet and a street corner artist selling characateurs of passage by. The same difference applies to the art of writing efficient programs.

Not only does your training program have to be spot on, you also have to train like there is no tomorrow! Brutal hard work is the only thing that separates a training program on paper from the training program in real life. If you want to succeed then you have to train like someone who desires success.

2. Nutrition

This is without a doubt as important if not more so than training. If you’re nutritional program is poor or non-existent then gains in and out of the gym will be slow if at all.  I’ll put it to you straight, and if you take anything away from this blog let it be this:

You simply cannot out train a poor diet. It doesn’t matter how many hours you put into your training each week, if you eat junk most of the time, you will look like someone who eats junk. 

Your nutrition is the largest thing in your life that a trainer or coach cannot fully control. Commitment must come from you. And must be something that you take ownership of. Saying that you don’t have the time or are bored with the choices doesn’t really cut it if you then go and choose to eat a shed load of bread, cake or chocolate and then complain that you aren’t reaching your goals. You reap what you sow when it comes to you’re nutrition and nothing short of full commitment is the one thing that separates those that reach their goals from those that don’t. It really is as simple as that.

3. Sleep/Rest

This is by far the most overlooked aspect of anyone’s body composition goals. The only time you are able to recuperate and build muscle or eat away at your body fat is after training, in the hours and days following a workout. For guys wanting to put on muscle, it has been proven that better and longer sleep increases growth hormone secretion during our sleep. Testosterone levels are highest when we are at rest and insulin sensitivity is aided by decent sleep.

Rest and sleep don’t just include the evenings and nights directly following a workout, they extend to daily stress levels as well. People who live extremely stressful lives are the ones most likely to hit a wall or plateau on their fat loss journey.  Stress levels directly affect cortisol levels in our body. Cortisol is a stress hormone secreted at times when we are under large amounts of mental or physical stress and one of the negative side effects of this hormone is that it unfortunately places a large stopper on fat loss. Making time to relax every day by doing something that you enjoy will help to lower those cortisol levels. It could be as simple as sitting in the sauna for 15 mins following your workouts to help relax the muscles and the mind. Whatever it is that you find helps keep you relaxed, practice it and use it as another tool towards your fat loss goals.

In order to make the most amount of progress in your fat loss goals then you have to fully apply all three of the above mentioned aspects. Two out of three is ok, one out of three is poor and as such will reap similar rewards.

The people that you see in the gym or on the beach who have the best physiques or sports stars who are the best in their game are the people that fully optimise the above strategies. 

I promise you that if you have the right training program tailored for you and if you train like your life depended on it whilst maintaining a strict diet free of processed foods, sugars, grains, excess dairy and included time to sleep well at night and make time for plentiful mental rest periods in your week, you will reach your goals. This is a fact. You won’t necessarily get there within a week or a month or even 3 months, but you will get there.

Take a look at your life at the moment and how your fat loss or muscle gaining goals are coming along. Are you falling short somewhere? Could you do better? If so, then why aren’t you letting yourself do better? Are mediocre results good enough for you?……

I seriously doubt it.


We are told throughout our lives that ‘variety is the spice of life’! That keeping things the same is boring and monotonous and should be avoided at all costs. But how many people really do apply this to their lives and for the benefit of this blog, their physical training?

There are potentially hundreds of thousands of people partaking in exercise every week that do so in exactly the same manner they have done for months or even years. A typical example of this is the young twenty something female wanting to keep slim and in shape who comes into the gym 3-4 times a week and spends upwards of an hour simply going from cardio machine to cardio machine. Repeating this same workout every week of the year. In all likeliness, this individual will find that she will see some positive results for the first 6-12 weeks or so. After this time, if she doesn’t push herself or change her workout, then her body will have completely adapted to this style of training and further positive results will be extremely difficult to achieve. Probably at a complete loss as to why results will have tailored off, she will say to her friends ‘I don’t know why I’m not losing any weight, I spend an hour a day, 3 times a week on the cross trainer.’

The answer to this particular example is simple; it’s not the duration that you exercise for, it’s the intensity and variety of your workouts that effect change!

Every month, the top fitness magazines like Mens Health, Mens Fitness etc have numerous new workouts to help readers reach their fitness goals quicker than ever. Strength and Conditioning experts the world over consult to these magazines and impart some of their wisdom. But I do wonder sometimes how many people actually take advantage of this info? People, it seems, like routine and as such I feel that some fitness goals are missed because of an individuals lack of willingness to make a change.

My advice is to change your workouts very regularly. Keep them dynamic and don’t be afraid to add new exercises. Just because you might be dropping one exercise doesn’t mean the muscle that it was working is going to get smaller if you replace it with something new. Changing your workouts regularly not only shocks your muscles, forcing them to adapt to a new style of training, it will help keep your interest levels high as you won’t be doing the same boring workout over and over!

Our unwillingness to change is something that goes right to the top of the fitness ladder. Right from Joe Bloggs the average gym attendee through to the gyms and fitness clubs themselves.

For me, one big contention in the UK is our attitude towards training teenagers under 18. It is a commonly placed attitude that teenagers under that age should not be undertaking any form of weight training at all as it will hinder natural growth and will in most cases cause injury. Gym insurance in the most part does not cover weight training for teenagers and as such prevents any such activity taking place. However if we were to fly across to America and go into any high school, you are pretty much bound to find a weight room stacked with free weights and teenagers training for their chosen sports. Just pop onto Youtube and search for high school weight lifting and a dozen videos of high school athletes undertaking power cleans, box squats and bench presses will appear. If you want to see exactly how the American’s do it in style in high school check out the weight room at Lake Travis High School! The largest weight room space I have ever seen, and for high schoolers! The question that needs to be asked when seeing this is ‘how come the kids in the U.S aren’t suffering from stunted growth or serious injury?’

The Strength and Conditioning coaches across the pond appear to be light years ahead of our British coaching methods because they are willing to make a change and do everything they can to better their athletes. It’s not always about throwing your 15 year old scrum half rugby player into the weight room and asking them to deadlift 150kg straight off.

Weight training is proven to enhance an athlete’s ability in ANY sport! Being stronger and faster is only a good thing surely? And this change can be implemented at pretty much any age so long as the training is appropriate for the sport and more importantly, at a level that is appropriate for the athlete. If you haven’t already, watch Strong the movie which is a documentary about the legendary Strength and Conditioning coach Joe Defranco from New Jersey. In the doc you see him training a 13 year old boy who wants to become a better high school wrestler. As much as this is bound to be a very uncommon sight in most training gyms, in my opinion it should be a welcome one. The willingness at a young age to want to be the best that you can be is extremely admirable.

If we were to apply weight training to our young athletes in this country in a controlled manner then sport would take on a different face. This is a change that I am hopeful will come into play at some point in the future. It is clearly something that must be changed through better education of our strength and conditioning coaches and the athletes themselves. Before a myth can be removed from common knowledge, it has to be proven wrong. Let’s make it happen.