Tuesday 25 April 2017

5 Pieces of Fitness Equipment a Home Gym Needs

When you`re building your home gym you might feel the need to buy all the equipment you can afford. Although it’s good to have nice variety in the comfort of your own home, you only need basic equipment to work most muscle groups.

A good starting point is to cover the major muscles groups first. You need to have the most options with compound movements which will allow you to train multiple muscle groups during the same exercise. These types of exercises will provide the best results in a short period of time and possibly work best for home gyms. So what type of equipment do you really need?

Olympic Weight Set

Among the most important equipment a home gym can have is an Olympic weight set. There's no better way to develop overall strength and muscles than with compound movements. PERIOD!
Just think about all types of squats and deadlifts you could be doing. In fact the deadlift is one of the few barbell exercises you could be doing and still get a full body workout.

Regardless of the trends in the fitness industry, you will rarely see a commercial gym without a barbell. And if you're serious about working out that should be one of the first things you're buying.
One thing to add here - they don't come cheap.

A pull–up bar

Pull-up bars are a convenient way to develop the back muscles and form the “V shape” that so many people are after. It can work even for women as it can help develop strength.

The classic pull-up is also a compound movement as it involves the pulling muscles such as the back, biceps and forearms.

Some of the key benefits include strengthening your core and improving balance in the upper body. If you have the right technique and focus on the full range of motion you can get visible results in weeks.

The best thing - they don't cost a lot and you can even make one yourself. A no-brainer right?


Dumbbells are so versatile that they can be the only equipment in your home and you could still perform a complete workout. The can be used for all of the major muscle groups. You can train your traps, shoulders, back, chest, biceps, triceps, abs and legs with dumbbells.

One of the often underestimated benefits of using dumbbells is fixing your body`s posture. If you perform your exercises standing you will need to maintain a good posture to perform the exercises correctly, which is a major plus, especially in a society where we sit for hours each day for our daily jobs.

Resistance bands

Resistance bands have been used for many years. They can add extra difficulty to your regular exercises and they can also force you to improve balance and posture.

Plus - resistance bands can be stored easily and taken on weekends away to provide an on-the-move workout whenever you need it.

If you want a different style of training you can also opt for suspension training which has been made popular by the military. You can anchor the system at any higher point in your home gym and perform multiple exercises to help improve the toning of your body.

The best advantage of home suspension training?

You can switch between strength and cardio training adding the much needed versatility to your equipment.

A rowing machine

Rowing machines can be associated with commercial gyms, but there are plenty of models for home use also. A good rowing machine can provide the high intensity cardio workout you need to lose weight. It can also increase your resistance levels and improve blood flow.

There are multiple types of rowing machines which can be based on air or water resistance. For home use you can even choose an entry-level model which can be challenging enough to provide a solid alternative to the traditional treadmill which has been used for weight loss training.

Keep it simple

When you build a new home gym you might be overwhelmed by all the equipment and advice you get from other users. Make sure you keep things simple and try to cover every major muscle group and a cardio option to have a complete workout at hand when needed.

You can also consider establishing a monthly budget to save for future equipment, as your fitness needs will see you progress through the routines.

"Paul is a passionate fitness enthusiast, writing about his experience in different blogs all around the web. He’s most knowledgeable in different fitness gadgets and equipment. Paul believes in the idea, that great equipment can take your workout to a next level." 

You can find Paul at http://www.dumbbellshub.com/

Monday 4 May 2015

I could have used Noahs ark.

So this last Friday the region I live has had quite a bit of rainfall. Turns out it is the was the wettest day in 200 years of history. It also happened to be the date that my partner was having her birthday dinner further up the coast. After I had finished my day of work I had to rush back to my house to pack and leave. Even on the way home water was washing over parts of the road I had never seen in my life. I wasn’t sure if I could get out of my suburb to get to the highway, even get to the restaurant for dinner. I left anyway and thought I would go a back way which turned out to be very backed up with traffic. I thought I would go through another suburb which is slightly higher than mine. It nearly turned out to be a very big mistake. As I came down a hill there was traffic control on a section of road. They were controlling a part of the road that was covered by water. I thought, well if the water is too dangerous to cross that the traffic control would turn us back. They didn’t so I continued to drive. This was a mistake, my car is a small vehicle (save the planet, man) and it was struggling to drive through the water, I could smell the exhaust and belts affected by the water and my car was being pushed to the side. I was worried I would get pushed off the road and I was angry that traffic control let many of us cross. I kept the throttle on, if you stop in the water you will have a world of problems. I managed to get to the other side and was thinking how stupid that crossing was. I was concerned that the electrics of the car were going to be ruined. But the car seemed to be fine. A small hatchback on the other side seen my car and just stopped and put on his hazard lights, (good decision).

I travelled down the road and went to get back onto the previous back way I had tried earlier. Near the local garbage dump there was even more water and I saw an SUV try and cross it and after my previous encounter, I was not going to try it. I decided to go up an overpass into another suburb that I knew connected to the highway. As I drive up the hill to the overpass the rain was so heavy that the water seemed like it was flooding up the hill. A small car ahead of me began to slow down and I was shocked because they could be putting themselves at risk of being pushed by the water. They pulled off the road and I continued on. I drove through the suburb until I came to an intersection the moved 800m in 2 hours. I had several phone calls from my mother and partner giving me updates. The highway when I go to it was completely stopped. I thought I may try and go the back way, this was also stopped. I decided to go further to the back and follow a train line. I seen many cars on the side of the road with tyre blow outs and some just broken down. I pressed on into another suburb going through back streets to avoid backed up traffic on the main roads. It was chaos, cars were driving on the wrong side of the road not abiding by road rules. Cars were left in the middle of the road due to what seemed to be flash flood damage. The intersection I wanted to go through was flooded so I decided to go through a shopping centre to avoid the intersection only to come to a road covered in water. I decided to go back to a road that I knew would lead to the highway. When I got to the end of the road a police officer was directing traffic through an opened weigh bridge to get to the highway. People were speeding on the highway and eventually it came to a stand still less than half a mile from where I got out. It then moved slowly, about walking pace. Cars were even left on the highway and we had to swerve around them. We ended up near a part of the highway that near the outskirts of the metro area. It was there we stopped for the next 3.5 hours. People would get out of cars and have conversations. Turns out a truck ahead had broken down and the water was over the road, combined with a king tide we had to wait. So I pulled out my book I am reading and took the time to relax as there wasn’t much we could do. It wasn’t until 10:30pm we began to move slowly and many people were speeding off even though the water was over the road up further. It was only in one lane, but I hung back to be sure it was safe. With so much rain I expected pot holes, but there wasn’t any to be seen. Cars were now it seemed racing each other and I finally was on the run to my in laws. I had long missed the dinner and I arrived at my in-laws at 11:30pm.

I was lucky 5 people died, 3 in the suburb I spoke about earlier and 2 on the route I was going to take until I was told it was closed. The emergency services were stretched and did a great job. Whilst I admit leaving was the wrong decision, it was because of my determination and persistence that I got to my in-laws by the time I did (a bit of luck too). Some took even longer, I heard 10-12 hours. It is important to be persistent and determined otherwise the road to your goals could take even longer.

I don’t have any pictures, sorry. I was not going to stop for happy snaps in that crazy situation.

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Turn up the volume.

So I overheard a conversation recently between some people and I heard a woman say that her son was having trouble putting size on his legs. Now we know each other a little so I like a petulant child I blurted out “volume, he needs more volume”. She said to me “oh he gets plenty of protein and he eats tonnes”, I said “oh no I meant volume for his leg work”. The woman said “he is a tiler so he is using his legs all the time and he goes to the gym 6 days a week for like an hour”.
So in response to the above, I begun to explain what I meant. Firstly going to the gym everyday does not mean that you are covering all the bases and frequently we fall into patterns. So it would be important to be taking a log of each session to reflect on and analyse the sessions. I also explained that we use our legs all the time, we are built to use them. We walk on them after all and they are used to a lot of work. More importantly, I explained the idea of volume. Volume in resistance training is often measured in tonnage. As a basic guide sets x reps x weight lifted= volume in a session. To see that as an example 3 x 12 x 15kg for bicep curls right arm = 540kg lifted on one arm. Now that may be added up for the week based on the amount of sessions to give a total volume loaded on a body part of the body.

For legs, volume is where the secret lies. Some smaller muscles and less used body parts such as the arms may be able to get away with doing less volume, but in general volume is key for leg growth. It is assumed that a decent amount of weight is being used. Some programs like German volume training (GVT) have been used to produce massive tree trunk legs. GVT uses a 10x10 scheme with a starting weight that you could do for 20 reps about 60% of your 1RM. Now I won’t get into detail about the program except to say it is hard and puts on size. I know from personal experience Olympic weightlifting styles of training also help put on size. One of my programs had me squat 3 reps at different weights, all above 85% of 1RM for 12 sets. I was lifting about 4 tonnes of weight four times a week. My legs grew like no one’s business. I had to get looser fitting pants.
If you want to finally see those legs grow and get some new pants just to accommodate them, maybe it is time to add some more volume in your session. Now yes, that may mean one less bench day, but your legs and your body overall will thank you. Compound lifts such as squats, deadlifts, leg presses and single leg work also help stimulate whole body muscle growth, to me that is a win-win. So do some more volume.

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Want success more than you want to sleep

I find myself reciting the article title a fair bit. There is a tonne of motivational videos on the internet which is where this line comes from. Whilst some have switched off from the day long ago I am writing this article not for me, but to help you. On the other hand, there are some who will work long into the night more than me and these people want success more then they want to sleep. Arnold Schwarzenegger talks about sleeping faster in one of his videos. I found this really funny, but he also talks about working your butt off in that same video.

It doesn’t matter what it is you want to achieve at some point you will have to roll up your sleeves and do some hard work. If it is fitness related most likely it will take more work than you think. But it isn’t the end result where you learn the most and get the benefits. It seems to be the journey where you learn what you can do and endure not the destination. Often you will hear advice given that habits make us what we are or that we are our habits. I think this is largely true. So if you are new to fitness maybe you should focus on creating the habit of exercise. I have talked about goal setting in the past, here. Behavioral goals are very often overlooked, but this is a powerful, subtle goal to set. Setting a behavioral goal to create a habit could see you on the journey to success without you realizing it.

Something you should do is set up behavioral goals to create habits. This will help you become successful easier. You will become your habits. If your habits are exercising, eating healthy and working your butt off for success more than you want to sleep, then the journey will be hard and tiresome but worth it.

Monday 13 April 2015

This may help.

Something I see often in today`s fitness industry all to often is "experts" trying to create dependency on them from clients. That makes sense in a way, I get it. Someone has grown reliant on them and therefore keeps giving them money to keep seeing them for the service or product. As I write that I can't help but think this is a parallel to a drug dealer and a junkie (in a small way). To me though it seems a little short sighted. Why? Because this industry should not be about a dependency being created, it should be about educating and creating someone that can do it on there own. Now I am not saying you need to get a degree and so on but you should understand the why's and how's just as much as the whats. Many fitness gurus advertise products and services like ,"get shredded abs in seconds", or ,"get the body you have always wanted in X days". It seems to work, these people are making money. Let us conclude that a person pays the money and does the course and is successful. What happens if they get injured and take 3 months off and put on weight and lose the "shredded abs"? They do the course again? What if they can't or they can't afford it? Well it may be a struggle to get back those "abs". What I am saying is that knowledge is power. If you go and see a personal trainer, exercise physiologist or a strength and conditioning coach they are a product of knowledge and experience. For me I want to share some resources that may help you. If tomorrow I woke up and everyone was fit, healthy and chronic disease free I think I'd be happy about that. To be clear some of these resources I used long before going to get a formal education in the fitness field and some I picked up whilst at university.

First one I will point out is Starting Strengthby Mark Rippetoe. If you are starting as a beginner and want to get strong this is a good place to start. If you are reading this thanks to Reddit, Starting Strength has a big following on there. Rippetoe is a smart guy and the keep it simple approach works really well. No BS just a decent book with a decent program that makes compound movements and the barbell king. Now I am not going to get into a deep review of this or anything merely suggest some resources that may help.

Now if you are thinking of going the Crossfit route for fitness. Becoming a supple leopard is a book you should read. Dr Kelly Starret breaks down the "standards" of Crossfit but even more important is the way he tells you that if you can't achieve movement A you shouldn't try movement B until you can achieve X. That is important to me and it helps give some prescription help and knowledge to remember for yourself. Even better though is if you can't get into a position due to a mobility issues he gives out methods to improve that issue.

If you haven't heard that kettlebells are all the rage or you have and you want to get into it. I have written in the past about how my grandparents bought me my first KB (kettlebell)here. I haven't looked back. In order to learn about using a KB though I needed help. I found Mike Mahler's training dvd. I really enjoy kettlebells they are a different but accessible pieces of equipment. If you can't afford a barbell or gym membership a KB may be the answer.

I think the last resource I will talk about is the internet. Granted there are a lot of people selling snake oil but you can now learn anatomy for free via Youtube which I encourage you to do. You don't have to be Bones to have some knowledge about how your own body works. So do some research and be diligent. After all ,Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

Disclaimer: If you do buy any of the above mentioned resources I do receive some income off of it. If you choose to go elsewhere to find it cheaper that is fine as long as you are learning.

Monday 6 April 2015

Sometimes we fall down but we have to get back up.

Life sometimes throws us obstacles. Now some call it an act of god, some say just chance, I say it’s an opportunity be it a well disguised one. Well, life has thrown me an obstacle. I recently was playing a game of volleyball. Whilst contesting a ball I jumped up to hit the ball back over the net and at the same time someone else on the other side jumped to stop me. He came down first I came down second and landed on his foot. In basketball this term is called a “broke ankle” and well for me whilst not being a broken ankle it was no party. So I left the court and sat down, I could barely walk, somebody got me some ice and I iced it for the rest of the game. When I left I put my shoe back on and laced it tight. I needed to add some compression. Now I figured since I could sort of walk on it, I didn’t see a doctor right away. I got home and did the usual first aid. I spent hours with it elevated and iced. It was beginning to swell. To add to matter, I had a friend's 30th birthday dinner to go to. Whilst at this dinner it was a buffet so I had to make a walk a couple of times. Over the next few days I limited the amount of walking I was doing. And like DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) it got worse on the second day. Swollen, bruised and reduced range of motion. At one stage I had a sack of fluid on the top of my foot that would jiggle when I walked.
So it has taken a few weeks for the bruising to reduce and the swelling is still present. I have seen a doctor and luckily there appears to be no ligament damage or fractures. I have it pressure bandaged up and if you have an ankle issue they can be a handy thing to have. I also have access to a ankle brace and I will recommend it to patients that have a chronic injury, but I want them to always move towards not wearing it so all the tissues get stronger. But here is the kicker to this article I am not writing to share some soppy story. You see, this is an obstacle for me but I have training on about how to handle this. Some people would use this as an excuse I won’t be. So I can’t put weight on that ankle, but my other leg works and so does the rest of me. This is the real crux of this article some people find excuses and sometimes they are legitimate, but my ankle injury is not an excuse to not exercise or begin to eat junk and say why me.
People create pros and cons to the situation, I’d prefer to look at the pros of this situation. I could have no leg, it could have been blown off. I have options to work with. You know, what if I didn’t have university education and experience to back it up I would still be looking at ways I could progress. The difference isn’t in how much I know or how much you know. It is about how you approach the obstacle you are confronted with. Weight loss, injury and many other things with a small reframe of the situation we can see the positives and benefits we can take from this obstacle and create a opportunity from an obstacle.

Friday 13 March 2015

Never fear the talented

Have you ever seen that person who seems to be able to do anything really well? Like the universe has given them something special. I know I have. These people seem to breeze through life and things just fall into place. They can do anything easy and eat anything with no repercussions. Many will say “they are lucky”, or “they are talented” or “they have great genes”. I have had heard people at various competitions say “oh that person is so talented”, and they’re right. What I have noticed is often people that are talented seem to lack a key characteristic to true success. I am talking about persistence. Now I am not saying talent doesn`t count, just look at the Williams sisters, they are talented and hardworking. Granted they seem to be able to work less to accomplish more but they have also been persisting their whole lives at tennis so the line could blur between talent and persistence.
For the most part though persistence and effort will triumph over talent. Often I see talented people fall by the wayside because it comes to easy so they don`t appreciate what they are doing. You may point out various people and situations that are different. To the everyday human persistence is what counts. I have two degrees and various other qualifications. I have been lucky to be born into a situation where I could access that opportunity. It took persistence and effort to achieve those things and come out the other side once I took advantage of the opportunity. This applies to almost everything in life. We cannot choose where we are born but we can choose to a large degree what we do about our situation thereafter. Often when people fail something be it a diet or a training plan we look to blame some outside force. Whilst there may be some truth to their excuse for the most part the onus lies with that person. Like getting financially independent it takes persistence and effort. Having a long lasting relationship takes persistence and effort. Having a healthy body and active lifestyle takes persistence and effort.
What is persistence and effort? It means trying and keep moving forward. Some days things won`t come easy or most days they won`t. That doesn`t mean quit and make excuses. That’s the time to persist and put in the effort. They are times that count and you grow. I can tell you I thought about giving up and I have been lucky to have a partner support me and tell me to remember who I am. Who I want to be. Do you want to be that person that quit and didn`t get what they wanted and blamed someone else or pointed to the talented person because they did it easy. Don`t be that person, never fear the talented and persist, persist, persist.