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.