Lunchtime 25 Minute Workout Routines

I’ve been working in my latest role for just over 3 months, and training at the gym there most days, but never actually got around to creating an exercise programme;

So – in an attempt to be more organised, here’s what I shall endeavour to follow for the next 6 weeks –

2-4-2 tempo = pause for 2 seconds at the bottom, take 4 seconds to press/lift the weight, then pause for 2 seconds at the top.

Monday – Legs & Back

Rowing Machine – 1000m

Bulgarian Split Squats x 2 sets of 2-4-2 tempo reps to failure

Seated Row – Core warm up – Sit away from the supporting frame to engage core and use super light weight

Seated Row x 2 sets

Seated Rear Delt Fly with 1 rep, 1/2 rep protocol x 2 sets

Lunges x 2 sets

 

Tuesday – Chest

Cross trainer – 1 min warm up then 4 minute Tabata Interval

Chest Press x 2 sets

Dumbbell Chest Press x 2 sets – 2-4-2 tempo

Cable Punches x 2 sets of 10 reps on each side

Modified Fly x 2 sets of max reps

 

Wednesday – Back

Rowing Machine – 1000m

Lat Pull down – 2 sets of 6-8 reps

Negative Reps – Machine Row

One arm Row – 2-4-2 Tempo

Angled One Arm Cable Shrugs x 2 sets

 

Thursday – Shoulders

Cross Trainer – 5 minutes

Single Arm Shoulder Press 2 sets of 8-12 reps

Single Arm Shoulder Press 1 set of eccentric reps

Shrugs / Upright row – 2 sets of 10-12 reps

Hindu Press ups x 1 set of max reps

 

Friday – Stability Ball Workout

Core Ball Workout

Press ups x 2 sets

Reverse Hyperextensions x 2 sets

One arm row x 2 sets

Hamstring curls x 2 sets

Pikes x 2 sets

Plank x 2 sets

 

Martial Arts Techniques to drill in between sets

Guard framing

Double leg ‘rotation’ to finish takedown

Chest to Chest Guard Sweep

Wizzer Throw to Ankle pick

Wrist control to ankle pick – pull back on right arm and then ankle pick right foot/ankle

Front Kicks

Side Kicks

 

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Online Personal Training – is it worth it?

This is something I’ve been looking at getting into for a while…

The attraction with online personal training is initially, that there’s very little barrier to action/entry.

You can still be sat on the sofa with a pizza, and sign up for online personal training sessions. You’ve not spent or committed to a great deal, so it’s very easy to get started. Unlike going into and signing up to a gym, which can be very scary.

Inspirational quote
Don’t be afraid to have a go!

Once you’re signed up, you in theory should have access to;

  • 1-2-1 expert support and advice
  • Personalised exercise programmes according to fitness, time & budget
  • Personalised dietary assessments
  • Personalised diet plans
  • Healthy recipes (that you will like)
  • Technical feedback e.g. if you video lifting weights
  • Psychological assessment, motivation, goal setting & support

Although having a personal training, that’s actually there with you real time has many added benefits – for example he/she can correct poor technique in real time; having an online personal trainer is certainly much more beneficial than having no help at all and entering into a fitness programme with no direction or structure.

A lot of the benefit is that they do all the admin-work for you.

You probably know you need to make a programme, set goals and assess your diet, but realistically, not many people know where to start exactly or don’t have the time to do it all.

I certainly think that video analysis of technique is currently under utilised too. This could be extremely beneficial, especially with the trend to squat and deadlift heavy, good technique is imperative.

Poor Alignment of the spine - looking to far forward tilts head upwards
Poor Alignment of the spine – looking to far forward tilts head upwards

Some quick pointers to remember about exercise if you are contemplating getting fit:

  • You don’t have to train for long periods – 3 x 20 minute sessions a week can make a huge difference to health, fitness & appearance
  • Diets don’t have to be complicated. Start making one change . e.g. cutting out sugar
  • Psychology is very important. Set SMART goals that are Specific, Measurable, Agreed upon, Realistic and Time-bound
  • It takes one month to form a habit. Start by making small positive changes and maintain these for a month

 

 

 

5 Tips for Getting Fit & In Shape

There is a downloadable form to fill in at the end, so don’t worry if this article gets a bit confusing!

1 Set Goals

This is a good starting point – what do you want to achieve?

Be specific, for example, you might write down
“I want to lose 2 inches from my waist, by December 20th, 2016”

Make all goals “SMARTER”

Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time bound, Evaluate, and Re-Do

Evaluate your goals once a month, tweak them if necessary but always make a note of why you’ve had to change them.

Have 1 or 2 “Target Goals” – these relate to the end result, e.g. having a 32 inch waist by December 20th.
The Target Goals are the “What”.

Have 3 “Process Goals” – these are the “How”

So you want a 32 inch waist – how will you achieve this?

3 Process goals might include:
1. Eliminate sugar from my diet completely
2. Go for a walk every day
3. Go to boxercise class every Wednesday

Personal Training chester

Finally, to keep motivated, write down why you want to achieve your goals.
For example, you may want to improve your health for the benefit of your family.

2. Prepare for & Eliminate Obvious Pitfalls

List all the potential hurdles, barriers & pitfalls; then list the solutions.

For example, your hurdles might include:
People offering you unhealthy food –
Solution – Say “no thanks” in a highly assertive manner

People not being supportive / making fun of your diet
Solution – Laugh and just see it as a bit of banter. If necessary explain that you are doing it for the benefit of yourself and your family and that their support would be appreciated.

Hurdles are things that will almost certainly happen, and you will have to jump or fail.

Barriers, you can sidestep these completely.
For example a barrier might be having unhealthy food in the house.
Solution – give it to charity.

Pitfalls are obvious things you shouldn’t do.
For example – Buying unhealthy food.
Solution – Make a healthy shopping list

Rex Kwon Do
Image Source

3. Have a Specific Plan

Unfortunately, deciding that you’re going to get fit, and leaving it at that, often fails.

You need a plan, with specific rules set out.

As outlined above, write down your goals and process goals.
These should form the foundation for your plan.

Write down what you need to succeed.
Everything essential – e.g. a chosen form of exercise, a set of diet guidelines, gym kit etc.

 

Get as organised as possible

Use a spreadsheet if you have to – write down a healthy main meal for each evening & plan what exercise you will do each week.
Leave an area to write comments and feedback for yourself.

How will you eat healthy? Get this organised.
Will you prepare batches and freeze food for each day of the week?
Will you cook fresh each day?
Will you prepare your own lunch?

 

4. Empower Yourself

Write down, and then answer these questions:

Do you think you have everything you need to succeed?
If not, what else do you require?

Do you think this plan will work?
If so, what is it that you like about the diet and exercise programme you have been given?
If not, what are you concerned about?

Are you convinced that this plan is worth your while? –  Is getting in shape worth the effort and commitment?

Accept Responsibility
This is your programme. Not your trainer’s programme. You must take ownership of the programme and be happy with it.
Is there anything you would like to know more about, or anything you would change before taking ownership? If so, write these down, research the answers or ask a professional

Finally, write down a positive affirmation or mantra that you will use whenever doubt starts to creep into your mind.
This could be something as simple as
“You can do this and it is worth it”

 

5. Access Expert Fitness Advice & Support

No, I’m not trying to sell you online personal training (not yet, but maybe down the road I will); you can get great support and information (although take it all with a pinch of pink salt), from Facebook groups and online forums.

Some websites and forums to have a look at:
https://www.reddit.com/r/Fitness/
http://www.muscletalk.co.uk/Bodybuilding-Routines-Training-Techniques-f17.aspx
https://www.facebook.com/groups/526231430864965/

Just beware of the groups and meatheads that share lion memes and selfies all the time. They won’t really help too much.

 

programme

Download a pre-exercise questionnaire here

Contact me if you do need any additional help (I changed my mind, ask me about online fitness training!).

You could also have a read of my free book and have a look at this infographic for some nutrition basics:

 

Fitness Infographic

3 Fitness Misconceptions

1. You have to train for at least an hour, two or three times per week to ‘Get in Shape’

Not really.

Short, intense workouts can be just as effective.

In fact, many fitness professionals advocate workouts 30 minutes or less.

You can take this a step further –

Doing 4 minutes of exercise, twice a week, can improve markers of health & fitness significantly.

 

You can make drastic improvements in terms of health, fitness and body composition, with just 10 minutes of exercise per day.

The difficult part, is staying disciplined with your diet.

 

2. You Need Expensive Equipment to Build Muscle

Not true, in fact the trend at the moment, is functional, bodyweight exercise.

I personally like to use a door frame chin up bar, and some resistance bands – costing in total about £50.
These are not essential however, you can certainly make a start without them.

3. You Need Supplements to Look like the guys in the Magazines

Well, yea, kinda – you need lots of steroids, IGF-1 and HGH to look like the guys in the magazines and adverts.

That’s not me being cynical – ask any weightlifting veteran.

I’m not anti-supplements, but you need to ignore 90% of the claims and marketing jargon.  e.g. “peptide bonded” and “micellar” even “anabolic” are often used to imply something that people assume is beyond their understanding.

In case you are wondering:

Peptide Bonds – “…proteins are chains of amino acids held together by peptide bonds, as is the backbone of PNA.”
https://www.sciencedaily.com/terms/peptide_bond.htm

Micellar (a term often used to sell “Micellar Casein” protein powder”)
All casein protein is ‘micellar’, it means it basically clumps together in a ball, releasing amino acids/nitrogen, bit by bit until the ball dissolves
https://www.uoguelph.ca/foodscience/book-page/structure-casein-micelle

I wouldn’t recommend any supplements to begin with.

If you are looking to build muscle, there is plenty of research around creatine, and whey protein too. I’d recommend, researching and perhaps including these in your diet, after 2 months of weight training.

Whole foods are generally largely superior.  In fact, I would recommend a hemp smoothie instead of protein powder, but I’ve found that people just want to take supplements.  So, if you do, research whey protein and creatine.  But make sure 90% of your food, is actually food!

How much protein you need is an aggressively debated topic, which I’m not going to touch with yours (or with a bargepole).

 

 

Middle Age Training – Fitness for the Male Menopause

I recently listened to the Joe Rogan podcast, featuring Steve Maxwell, some great takeaways for the over 35s still training hard…

Super Slow Reps and Time Under Tension
Try not to worry about reps and weight so much, instead look to increase the time you can do an exercise for, without pausing in between ‘reps’.
For example, instead of smashing out chin ups; try slowing things down:
Take 4 seconds to slowly bring your chin up above the bar
Pause for 2 seconds at the top
Take 4 seconds to lower yourself down (95%, don’t lock out completely)
Pause for 2 seconds at the bottom
Then repeat for as long as possible.

Slow reps are less likely to cause injury, as is a lower weight.
I’ll do these reps for chins, then I’ll finish with one ‘explosive’ set at the end, as I still train in MMA and Jiu Jitsu, I need to be explosive in the ‘scrambles’ for positions.

Avoid Overhead Presses
Be very careful with your shoulder joints, these are almost always ruined in older guys who have trained intensely over the years.  Again use super slow reps if you must do overhead presses, and or use bands (my tips). Bands increase in resistance as you move/stretch them, so there’s less pressure on the joints.  I use chains when doing bench press, the weight is light when I start pressing, and gradually gets heavier as I extend my arms – and as the chain lifts off the floor.  This takes the stress off my shoulder joints a lot.

One Set Training
Something I was introduced to in uni, apparently Kelly Holmes would do one set training, as otherwise her running sessions would be negatively impacted.  Then Mike Mentzer has similar concepts with his Heavy Duty training system.  This is also good for middle aged men, warm up, do a couple of light sets, then one working set to failure. It works especially well if you are training for a sport – it’s easy to overtrain.

The best fitness for a sport, is generally doing your sport.  I love to do Tabata Intervals with a given movement from my sport.  For example, for wrestling I’ll do ‘sit throughs’ for a tabata interval.  Do 20 seconds of 100% intensity work (e.g. sprint like mad on a bike), then rest 10 seconds, then do another 20 seconds 100% intensity burst, then rest for 10 etc.
Repeat until you have completed 4 minutes in total.

Meriva Curcumin
Got this tip from Dr Rhonda Patrick. Found it great. Tumeric’s ‘active compound’ is curcumin, but it’s absorbed poorly. You can take it with black pepper to increase the bioavailability somewhat, but warpping in a ‘phytosome’ (Whatever that is) is proven to dramatically increase the absorption and anti-inflammatory effects.  More info here.

 

 

15 minute workouts for knackered dads

Equipment:
Chin up bar
Strength bands
Caffeine tablets

Tabata intervals, done once every other day, are a great time-efficient way of gaining many of the benefits of cardiovascular exercise, in a much shorter space of time – 4 minutes.

Choose any exercise, for example squats with bodyweight.
Find a Tabata Timer on Youtube or download an app.
Do 20 seconds of squats, rest 10 seconds, then repeat 8 times.
This gives 4 minutes of high intensity exercise.
I like to do these with MMA specific exercises like sit-throughs.

If you can spare another 10-15 minutes, here are a couple of workouts you can do at home for muscle-mass or just muscle-maintainence.

Remember that ‘return on investment’ in terms of exercise and ‘gains’ in strength and muscle mass is not proportional.  In fact, there are a lot of fitness professionals who argue that 1 set of exercise to failure, is all that is required per body part.  See Mike Mentzer and Dorian Yates’ training philosophies (not 1-set training, but certainly an in-and-out of the gym mentality)

 

 

 

Most importantly, do something, and form the habit of exercising whenever possible. Even if it’s just doing squats whilst the kettle is boiling!

Keeping Fit into Middle Age

There comes a point, when you realise that lifting heavy weights, with horrific posture and poor technique, just isn’t a sustainable way to keep fit.

Here are some tips on keeping fit, as you approach your mid 30s:

1. Warm up like a mofo
Can’t emphasise this enough, one injury when your 35, and you might never recover.  Wear plenty of layers and get a sweat on before you do any explosive exercises or lift heavy.  If you’re doing weights, make sure you do 3 or 4 warm up sets with lighter weights

2. Stretch, Stretch & Stretch
Buy a foam roller, and a lacrosse ball.  Use them everyday, and stretch, a lot.  Consider taking up yoga or pilates.

Foam roller
Image Source

3. Do what you enjoy, but modify it a bit
For example, I can’t hit ‘thai pads’ anymore, my shoulders and wrists just can’t take it.  So I have to stick to the boxing pads. There’s normally a way to adapt if you are keen enough.  Try not to make an excuse and be negative about an injury; you can normally train around them.  Be very careful though, if something hurts during or afterwards, its not a sustainable or sensible way to train.