Dedication and Moderation

Fitness, Lifestyle, Special

Things that are difficult usually require some level of dedication. For those of you that have a life plan, aspirations for the future or simply own a list of things you’re in the process of ticking off, the first few goals you make are usually the easiest. Going back to getting comfortable being uncomfortable, your goals should be just the same, don’t stick to the easy stuff because it makes you feel good, spend time doing the things you know you need to work on or you probably never will. While daily feats are important for improving your confidence and providing you with enough momentum to make them habitual, satisfying the higher demand rather than the fine print will pose to surpass the sticking points or plateaus.

We know that body image standards have considerably increased and people are now looking at themselves in the mirror with more insecurities and less confidence with their bodies, it seems to be that inadequacy fuels more workouts than dedication ever will. The guilt tripping to get you there, phantom injuries to talk you out of it and justifiers rather than the means to stick to anything at all. Whether it’s an individual part to play or the current meet yourself half way outlook on all things body positivity, it is this over acceptance of bad habits which has made for moderation being yet another excuse to add to the list.

We observe influencers and the like set the standard for optimal living; look good, lead a ‘balanced’ lifestyle and let your hair down once in a while. This is great FOR THEM, and the premise is usually as resonant as it is applicable to the masses, but there lies the problem, satisfying an impressionable norm with relatable words and not the actions required. How many fitness personalities do you think break their diets, front their impeccable dedication and make you feel bad about yours? In the same regard how many portray an image which satisfies the norm of their followers before their own health and pressures to maintain an image for the sake of getting paid, in compliments or otherwise.

Expectation and reality,

I personally adopted the ‘flexible lifestyle’ for a long time. I advertised that this was my reality, proudly, so that I could encourage others to do the same. Calories in, calories out, work hard play hard. Always letting myself and others justify that I can always make up for it tomorrow, one drink, one bad meal CANT be THAT bad for you. I enjoyed having balance; hard work during the week, not necessarily a blowout when things came around but certainly not things conducive to my dedication in the gym. I wanted everyone else to feel how I felt, content, that I could do both, but in my head ultimately I was neither out of shape nor in, to others maybe but not what I wanted for myself. It was only until years down the line I thought ‘hang on, for someone that trains as much as I do, I don’t look much different’ I frequently received compliments for being in shape although this didn’t do me any favours, confirming that what I was doing was working but not to the rate which I anticipated years before. I was probably known for being ‘that guy’ in college, like many others that was always eating chicken, drinking protein shakes and lifting weights any chance I could. I didn’t do it for any other reason besides betterment of myself and the fact that I enjoyed the feeling of improving my body with hard work.

While I wanted other people to share the same outlook, get results and be more confident with themselves, genetically it was probably easier for ME to stay relatively lean most of the time, than it was for others around me. To which nothing less than preaching what I thought would be useful knowledge to everyone else wanting to look like me in the same time would come to fall on deaf ears. While I protested that the right amount of commitment would bring results, I observed the void that I had created by spending much more time on my body than most people were prepared to do. I’d much rather be straight up with people, rather than try and convince people that they could look like me if they simply followed my program, like many other’s do.

The reality is, it takes determination to pursue the difficult, no measure of moderation or guilt free cheat meals, low calorie ice cream or quick fix methods will get you there any easier, which is a tough pill that most people cannot swallow.

Looking at the time frame, I wonder what I would look like if I was completely dedicated to what I was doing THEN rather than picking and choosing when to be, now that I cannot hide away from the impending scrutiny and judgement to which I put myself under. Now that there is no room for moderation, I fully understand how much easier it is to be dedicated, with nothing influencing or tempting me in the slightest. I may often joke about the kind of foods that I will eventually break my diet with but its simply decided by yes or no, rather than maybe a little bit. This all or nothing approach is what a lot of people would benefit from and NEED in order to see just how good or conversely otherwise their willpower truly is.

Expectations are broken when you post a good physique update and get ‘caught’ in the queue at five guys. Cheat meal or not, the illusive veil of expectation and hypocrisy will be lifted eventually, usually for the sake of self indulgence. There comes a point in time to which you have to decide whether you’re in or you’re out, committed or not, as your body and your attitude will reflect this in the long run. This is what moderation does, gives you a false sense of security, the best of both worlds, great at the time but not when it is at the expense of your effort. Why is it that generally most of us can only relate to those that preach BALANCE and not so much those that seem so far beyond our capabilities that we just sit back and observe in awe. Even someone with an infallible image has to have a break sometimes  If you are overweight, exercise more, if you want to put on weight, eat more. Don’t be fooled by someone that merely looks better for advise, they can help themselves but may not necessarily have your best interests at heart. Pipe dreams and more appealing offers which make for less work in less time, maybe they can do it, but to you it merely justifies doing less rather than more.

Dedication is something you can’t turn off and on. We all need justification or at least some bearing on the decisions we make and the people we make them with, but what if balance was the very thing that jeopardises your dedication further? Everything in moderation is great for the average person, while too much of one thing isn’t always ideal. How average is tolerable to you? If someone referred to you as average would you be happy about it or have something to say? In that same regard much moderation or AVERAGE EFFORT is ok as opposed to how dedicated you have to be to actually see things through? There’s no optimal figure or sweet spot which determines whether you’re goals are dedicated or flexible, training 7 days a week isn’t necessarily better than 5. Only you can truly know how much is best for you and whether you’re consistently missing the mark without acknowledgement.

For those of you that aren’t aware, the date for my competition has been moved forward a week, which means I have 6 weeks to go until I get on stage for the first time as a Novice. This isn’t ideal news considering I still have at lot of work to do, though there’s a silver lining to everything life throws at you, you cannot control many things in life, only your temperament under pressure and the way you carry yourself on through. Ultimately my goal is to get in the best shape I have ever been in, get on stage and do it all with a smile on my face. No one does this shit if they don’t enjoy it, so that’s what I’m going to do.

Keep your eyes peeled for the rest of my journey on Instagram.

Jake.

 

 

 

 

 

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What is Your Downfall?

Fitness, Lifestyle, Special

So overthinking is possibly my downfall, in that most things tend to be black and white and not a trick question or conspiracy awaiting to surface. It’s great to question things, and so you should, but when previous intrigue is to be followed by doubt or cynicism, it can be tricky.

So what is your downfall?

Does merely acknowledging your bad traits overcome them? When we act irrationally or say things we do not mean can we use anger to justify what we say or is the anger merely a bi-product of the truth? Not thinking versus thinking of every little thing we are not supposed to after a day of preoccupied avoidance? Is the physical act of tossing and turning a conflict of these ideals, whereby sleep is only a temporary resolution, what you wish to say or do, and what you will?

procrastination? irritability? stress?

I wouldn’t consider myself a major procrastinator, though I do often find better things to do, simply, if I would absolutely rather not do the task at hand, it’s all about choice. For me this was once cardio, in that I’d always rather choose weight training over cardio, only to find that they now have equal bearing on the bigger picture of my goal. How did this switch take place? For me if you equally dread something and love the other, there’s always something you’d rather be doing than the things you NEED to do. The grass is definitely not greener, everything has a place and function.

As someone and like many others that study subjects which require 100% attention and more importantly retention of the information to which they ingest, I would say an easy test for this would be see how long you can read a book for which you don’t find interesting in the slightest. This does not mean you should always persevere through a boring read, but rather ascertain what you are wishing to find or learn. Are we inclined to watch comedy when we are sad, or heartbreak when we are in love, entertainment is equally as cathartic as it is merely that, entertaining time. How many books have you ever picked up and not finished, or depend on other people’s motivations to get to the last line rather than mustering your own. Are we so idle in the familiarity and convenience of blurbs, reviews, and recommendations that we are divulging our tastes and merely eating the ingredients from a recipe rather than cooking up a meal.

Procrastinating, every other thought or idea than the one you need, the only one you know to be true. A hundred IF’s and a thousand NO’s. Back to the drawing board or somewhere familiar. Familiarity and the known as opposed to unknown are that of which I mentioned in Comfort and Discomfort, a beseeching reassurance of the familiar that licks our wounds and steers us away from failing again.

Alike my previous posts these themes are centred around basic human traits and not personal attributes that confine us to them. We are products of our environment, by with every means to progress, regress, follow, unfollow, love, hate, do we steer in the direction of other peoples decisions and judgements. Our cup, half full with our own problems, clinks the glasses either side, one of hope, another sorrow, spilling over the sides and diluting the other. If you need less stress and irritability in your life, don’t clink the glasses of those stressed and irritable, and if you do, at least seek to empty your own cup before pouring in everyone else’s.

Our downfalls and malapropos are so deeply weaved into our habits of life that it is difficult to see them for what they are, things to be acted upon or not, a leap of faith or static solitude. The influences and failure’s of many great life successors will all be different, but all will share that fact, that they have been influenced and equally failed at some point or another. Are you to be someone that influences other people by succeeding or learning from your failures? The latter being the point to which failing is only the beginning of influence. If we were to succeed in everything that we set out to achieve, our confidence would only be around for as long as the winning streak.

Finally, I’ve often been asking myself what is MOTIVATION? How do I motivate people to exercise, to do things because they are hard, to end what would seem like a losing streak? the answer is nothing. I can do nothing but observe the reasons for why things things can be difficult, are difficult or made more so, successfully or otherwise. As personal trainers, friends, colleagues and family, we observe, collect and give our best advice to those that may or may not need it, but if there’s always something better to do or worse to think about the grass will always be greener, or ironically, not.

 

Do I Need to Diet?

Fitness, Lifestyle

 

KEYWORD ‘NEED’ mere desire or requirement? All too often do I observe people’s rationale for last minute dieting, cleansing, juicing and seemingly tactial starvation. 

Holidays and works parties aren’t logical justifications of the above. If you really cared about your body or general appearance enough to do something about it, you wouldn’t be far off in the run up to such a time months before. It’s only the beckoning realisation of the things you cannot have alongside a good body that breaks the EMERGENCY F’ IT GLASS to which the contents inside are fat burners and quick fixes.

Fast dieting so late in the game is a nightmare for hardgainers and those with a fast metabolism, considering how hard it is to preserve any progress on even less food and a much higher output. In addition, quick fixes and the like only have bearing on satisfying the short term, they might reduce bloating and water weight, improving body composition somewhat, but they are still compromising ideals which require consistent factors purely to maintain. A 4 plate squat fuelled by 4000+ calories does not equate to 5 plates when eating a 1000 more, nor does acquiring a leaner state warrant overindulgence just because you’re further ahead than before. Do you need to diet? Or stick to that which brought you results previously. For weight loss and body composition, said approaches may bear a different response each time; stress factors, TDEE and lifestyle changes, time being on your feet throughout the day. It’s not necessarily how long you spend in the gym, how many hours of cardio you do a week or how many days you can tick some form of exercise tick off, it’s the rest of the time in-between. I bang on about recovery but just because you’re not working does not mean you’re resting. Drinking on a night out, EVEN IF it’s not a late one, might put you to sleep faster, but you are not really sleeping, you’re merely sedated. The same thing goes for justifying smoking a joint before you go to bed, if you cannot sleep without it, is it serving you a purpose anymore or are you dependant on being sedated to function.

If you don’t need to diet, and you firmly grasp your list of do’s and don’ts well enough not to guilt fast and guilt sweat, it’s easy. It’s failing to acknowledge your downfall and making use of this realisation which is hard.

ALCOHOL>

DRUGS>

STRESS>

PEER PRESSURE>

BOREDOM>

WHEN IN ROME>

How do we act upon these states of influence when it means justifying a guilty pleasure or something entirely regretful afterwards. Is it lack of will power or do we merely fail to acknowledge the above in their forthright bearing over our decisions, as we cannot decide for ourselves half the time.

Mere desire or requirement? No justification needed for a drink after a stressful week, so what if every week was stressful. We are still peer pressured into that which we may not want to partake, is it merely influence or control, do you need someone else to dictate what to eat, where to go, what to wear, what if they told you to diet? Then it would be an insult. It seems we only care when it means harming our image, but the very thing holding our image together is self control, conviction and security in ourselves, Do you need to diet? No, but are all your friends ‘skinnier’, maybe I should diet? ‘fitter’, maybe I should run? ‘funnier’, Maybe I should laugh more? ‘smarter’ Maybe I should read more? Are these justifiers or motives? Does your motivation come from other people or from means so unwaveringly deep rooted that no lapse of competition or stance of trend beside yourself will contest to it.

DIET, EAT LESS? WHY? WHEN? WHAT?

A diet doesn’t just mean eating less, or more restricted, it merely outlines a list of things which are conducive to a said goal or approach, MORE calories being the premise of a predominantly STRENGTH orientated diet. This doesn’t necessarily mean it is a green light on junk food and multiple Dominoes visits, though this may help appreciating your discretion. While strength and weight may be a useful gauge of progress, it should not be a fixed determiner for irrational eating. If strength may be down during a prolonged cut, consider what your end goal will depend more on, strength or body fat %. In an ideal world we would all like to be as strong, as lean and as fit as possible, but these are often three different rings on a venn diagram which are interlinked by exercises that still need independant bearing.

Somehow it’s almost for the sake of making a point of how hardcore people are for their justification of doing so, but realistically, a few weeks of hard dieting won’t do much in the grand scheme of things. Here the WHY has not really been a strong enough WHY, but more of a HOW long it will be until the next bigger WHY comes.

A HOLIDAY? IT GOT CANCELLED

DIET STARTS MONDAY? SEE YOU A WEEK NEXT MONDAY

LOW CARB HIGH PROTEIN? YES BUT WHY?

INTERMITTENT FASTING? WHY?

Be your own devils advocate and question the reasons for going on a diet or changing your eating habits before you have the option to be corrupted by everyone else’s rationale. It might even be worth working out what your DOWNFALL is before you even consider to diet, if it is even necessary, the premise to which the thing/things holding you back may prevent any resolve with eating habits, found above “>…”

So how do I know what my downfall is and how do I fix it? If only it were that simple.

My next blog will discuss what my biggest downfalls have been and how I resolved them.

Jake

 

Mental Health and Mental Wealth

Lifestyle

Aside from reeling off the current stats which have already started to dictate our swaying beliefs about Mental Health, I want to consider the partition of both our external, physical (NHS) and that to which we often silence, our internal, mental health system.

Nowadays we fret the thought of having to stand in a queue; on the phone; at the till; on the waiting list, but when it concerns our own health, we are unequivocally anxious as we are (a) patient. That’s if we even get to A&E or our respected medical professional of choice, Google? The symptoms of a ‘headache’ seem to have much more to bear than mere dehydration or lack of sleep. We can now have our niggles and ailments instantaneously diagnosed without a scan, along with assumed expertise of Medical Practice, or is that when you just finish your PT course? It seems that browsing for ‘Chest Pain’ will provide you the same results in kind, whereas simply being anxious and stressed is exactly what makes us human. These are merely our internal defences, and while truth is useful weapon for deceit, wearing it as a label only presents our greatest fears and vulnerabilities as a weakness to be feasted upon, an injured game to a wake of hungry vultures. 

It took a few famous figures to meet their early demise for everyone to start caring about about Mental Health, but while we can like and share posts from our devices that ‘raise awareness’ and show just how caring we are to our Facebook friends, we massively lack the sensitivity to deal with the difficult and frankly morose conversations which we often avoid. While there are people going through an array of different issues, diagnosed or otherwise, we are all too hasty to let the label discern the outcome of social interactions with that person as though they are damaged goods, choose to deny it or not. Ultimately those that need someone to listen should have the facility, and those who are merely looking for unnecessary sympathy should be met with none, everyone else in between is stressed, or anxious, like most of us, stop claiming that you’re ill and start with helping those that are.

If Mental ‘Health’ is the Goggings-esque’ reinforcement of pain and suffering, what can be said for someone that endures none of the sort?  A subversion of someone privileged with hardship, as opposed to an inherited content, to which their highest successes are fuelled by their lowest times. When considering the quantifiable currency of Mental Wealth, one only has to look at the limits of their threshold, where it has been tested before and how fast it is until you say ’NO MORE’ in the pit of desperation.

Notwithstanding the very system in which we entrust with our broken parts, a time to which we approach with a foreboding reluctance, while we look cautiously through the viewing window as though still in control of our best interests and an honest price. Particularly one which treats us as consumers of alleviators rather than patients of cures, sealing up a puncture rather than changing a tyre. No amount of paracetamol can mask an injury, nor can painkillers, a killer of only the sensation of pain and not the root cause. Everything has an application under instances to which cannot be dispelled otherwise, but the fastest solution can be equally short-lived.

I don’t eat Raw, peel the skin off my grapes or sleep in a hyperbaric chamber but do seek to endure physical stress everyday which allows my body to manage external disruption more tenably. I rarely get colds, and when I do it usually only down to the fact of breaking my usual routine which my body requires to operate, not the germ lottery concerning working with the general public.

So what’s wrong with the whole ‘Millenial’, ‘Snowflake’ and the freedom of choice generation? The option to say ‘NO’ No to decisions that will be out of their control, will not make them happy, and will be uncomfortable, WHY would they say YES? Ascertain the kind of person you’d want to give responsibility and high-pressure to, could they handle the stress without any prior experience of something stressful or mildly difficult. Let’s stop creating a generation of ‘can’t’ and ‘won’t’ and more of will and would. 

Strength & Hypertrophy

Fitness

When it comes to the intention of progressive overload, training for Strength and for Hypertrophy are two different avenues which can lend into one another:

Hypertrophy

Training to target and overload specific areas and muscle groups.

Strength

Lifting an object from point A to point B and building this up to the heaviest weight possible

Now let’s consider the two schools of thought surrounding each of these approaches, whilst acknowledging both of their END GOALS.

Hypertrophy is predominantly used for Bodybuilding, in that people aiming to get as lean as possible will also be required to hold onto as much muscle as they can in order to achieve a certain LOOK. Although strength would have had to be once a key staple of their progression to a heavier weight –alluding to more muscle and fat retention from a higher calorie output– it will ultimately become spent to satisfy a much leaner goal which requires much less food and even less energy to operate. When strength may be in scarcity, it is here where hypertrophy would be a key component of muscle maintenance, given an equal stimulation to imitate the heavier weight bearing. A set of 80kg on Bench Press is not the same as one of 110kg, but there are plenty of ways in which you can trick your body into making it feel the same way and thus not losing too much muscle at a lighter weight. Clearly this is not the approach to take across prolonged periods of what would be a culmination of both Strength and Hypertrophy, as it is much easier to adapt to the lower volume of 80 than it is 110, but merely lifting heavier won’t necessarily bear the kind of LOOK a matched lighter volume may.

On the flipside, Powerlifters operating purely for strength rely on keeping their rep ranges LOW and their weight HIGH, in order to surpass previous totals in VOLUME, NOT Reps. Even simply comparing the energy and muscle recruitment required going up to 110 from 80, and 140 from 110 is something that relies heavily on calorie influx and energy replacement throughout strength overloading. In Bodybuilding, specific muscle volume and hypertrophy purely for size is achieved at a much higher rep range whereby the muscle is pushed to complete failure and adapts accordingly over time.

Both these styles of training can be incorporated alongside the other, though there will be a conflicting point to which the potentiality of further strength may be hindered by adopting rep ranges suited better to endurance rather than power. The same goes for lifting beyond your means and sacrificing the proper muscular contraction in the correct areas as opposed to the assisting, peripheral muscles; shoulders, arms.

Ultimately, place your approach on a scale of one to the other –STRENGTH, HYPERTROPHY– and define where you would place both your rep ranges and resistance % of 1RM in relation to how it reflects on your body. Account days for strength and others for accessory and isolation movements which provide more of a failure from the pain/burn as opposed to simply failing to complete the set amount of reps as it is too heavy.

I will be taking on more clients this year for Online Coaching, which will include regular weight and macro goals in conjunction with a custom training regime. If this is something that you are looking to get put in place for 2019 please complete my survey on my website jakedarcyfitness.com under ‘Online Coaching’

Cheers

Jake

New You or Just New Year?

Fitness, Lifestyle

Picture this, less than a few weeks from now, it’s January 2019, Christmas will be a distant memory and all the guilt-free-ness of the last month? months? year? May now seem like a real mountain of a task. The thing is, whatever plan of action you are willing to take now, realistically, ask yourself these two questions,

Are you going to be able to STICK to it?

Are you going to be able to ENJOY it? 

If the answer to both is realistically NO

Have a look at the things you CAN and WILL stick to FIRST, do it WITHOUT FAIL , and see how you that makes you feel. Here are some simple habits that you can implement to the New Year. I’m going to make the point of  (AT LEAST )

 Walk somewhere you usually would have drove to (once a week)

Try an exercise that you haven’t done before (once a week)

Choose just ONE DAY to cut out the things you know may be hindering your progress 

Choose just ONE DAY to cook your own food or only eat things that are prepared by YOU.

Leave your phone on charge in another room in order to sleep. 

Do something that you know is HARD, A RUN, A WORKOUT, A CLASS, NO BS.

Things for each day

EAT BREAKFAST (UNLESS FASTING or there’s a good reason for it)

Plan ahead what you are going to eat BESIDES the most convenient option

Something green on your plate 

Be full from whole foods and not from snacking, if there’s room for chocolate there’s room for anything. 

Track your BEST and WORST day of calories in Myfitnesspal

One extra glass of water 

I wouldn’t say there’s anything particularly difficult about any of the above, nor do I think it will be hard to stick to, which may pose as a good test for anyone that needs some structure day to day. Getting put on a diet plan or training regime that’s going to require energy and a lot of willpower isn’t always the best option if it’s coming from a place of doing very little. Start by granting yourself any of the above, whether it’s daily or just one day of the week to test how corrupting your mind is when it comes to food and the like. If it is easily persuaded, a more rigorous approach will be necessary as opposed to structure on the odd day, as you may only be motivated by seeing the immediate reward of your effort.

Ultimately it’s all well and good me telling you what you COULD do besides what you ARE ACTUALLY going to do for yourself, is it going to take another year going backwards or can you put a fresh start to the OLD YOU that says YES to everything knowing that it isn’t always the best for you. 

My best advice for 2019 is start small and build on it, don’t push beyond your current capabilities in order to see quick results, they only last as long as you can keep at it. If you’ve been out of the game for a while don’t try and do what you used to, nor should you expect those same things to bring you the same results. 

I will be taking on more clients for Personal Training and running a beginner class in the New Year for anyone that is new to training or just wants to expand on their knowledge with fitness, so get in touch if either of these options are for you. 

ACCURATE REPRESENTATION OF PURE GYM IN JANUARY:
ARE YOU A 365’ER OR 30 DAY TRIAL’ER?

Jake 

Should I Compete?

Fitness

From one of my very first blog posts ‘Short Term Satisfaction, Long Term Misery’ it is now clear in retrospect that in order to truly commit to the potentiality of competing, I can no longer rely on merely training hard alone. When I ask what people’s motivations are, I visualise the extent of what it is they seek to achieve, how much effort is required and how long it will be until they question whether it is worth their while. This is the point to which all the comforting outlets of life are weighed against a feather, the heaviest to which, drags them back to square one.

Everyone has their own gauge of happiness, whether this is from eating a strict diet and being in the best shape possible, to having the freedom to eat foods which are generally enjoyed. In the same instance of questioning effort:reward, this separates each standard synonymous to our working life work:pay. Working a full week and not getting payed, you’d probably question WHY? it therefore comes down to what kind of reward it is that you seek. If work is exercise and reward, food, there’s only so much potential for tangible rewards, results, and so long before you ascertain your potential input of EFFORT, think about what reward you require to justify it.

For myself, being on stage in my best possible condition is a reward in itself win or lose, standing amongst people that share your commitment, appreciating the common interest of simply wanting to be better, to the extreme.

A lot of people put the work in and don’t reap the right kind of reward, better is better than nothing but better isn’t best, so preparing for less is expecting nothing. how far off are you from being simply better and your BEST? I’m a year from being 25 but if i thought this was the best I was ever going to look at 15 I would have stopped a long time ago. Visualise your best and don’t stop until it is firmly in your grasp. Is this the best it will ever get for YOU? Your work, relationship, health, do you put in the work for confirmation or will it always be a part of a conscious strive for better.

Exercising purely for aesthetic, to impress people, or to be acknowledged shouldn’t be the way to go, but for a lot of people, compliments can be even more motivating than results.  The reality is, compliments can be equally as damaging as they are constructive, and this will come to either serve or ruin me when weighing up each potentially hindering comfort closer to the date.

I acknowledge that competing in a Bodybuilding show would be considered ‘extreme’ to a lot of people, though I respect the difference in opinion just as much as everyone has their own interpretation of happiness. Food for example, brings happiness to a lot of people, but even too much food can make you unhappy. It all depends on recognising whether something is still serving you positively. 

For me, I have always been aware of what I put in my body, not because someone tells me so, but because I don’t get the best out of foods that make me feel lethargic and put me straight to sleep. I know the bare minimum amount of food that my body requires everyday, putting myself ‘on a roll’ is essential for both muscle growth and fat loss, food is energy and energy expends to appetite. Acknowledging each impedance on such a ‘winning streak’ if you like, then transfers into output, being able to function and actively contribute rather than be a moody burden to the room.

This will be my first prep and a huge test of both my body and willpower, I don’t wan’t to have to mope around for months on end for everyone’s sympathy while I eat fish and vegetables, nor do I think that is necessary to get in excellent shape. This will however be the point to which I will be pushing beyond that which I currently know about myself and how far I will be willing to push to get as lean as possible. 

I’ve done this for long enough to know just how important each factor contributes to improvement of both body composition and strength, ask yourself what’s the longest period you’ve genuinely stuck to a program or even just cleaner eating? You may surprise yourself. For those quick to compile their list of excuses, why they aren’t playing professionally, why they cannot go a week without drinking alcohol or put the successes of those which they envy down to genetics, how long have they ever stuck to something good for themselves? Do you want to be one of those people who blame everyone else for their downfall and cast judgement to those simply doing what they cannot. 

I will be documenting the journey of the next 10 months leading up to the show on my Instagram, which I’d be foolish to think is a lifetime away, so keep your eyes out for my off season training regime and my current eating habits going forward into the New Year.

Jake 

👊

 

 

Should I Train Core?

Fitness

Leading on from ‘Should I Train Abs?’ I’d like to start by noting that training of both the core and abdominals does not have to take precedence over other areas of the body.  Although it is an area that tends to add more load onto certain muscles unnecessarily if they happen to be weaker. From your vital organs working your way out, to the hair on your skin, imagine the importance of each layer and process functioning autonomously, How much does it differ as you edge closer to the surface of things we control? Do prolonged periods of sitting lead to lower back pain?

So what are the Core Muscles again?

Deep rooted core muscles pertaining postural balance and healthy movement. 

Key phrase here being the latter, we all experience pain and discomfort as some point or another, shrugging off injuries nonchalantly, taking a tablet over a trip to the doctors, self diagnosis, insisting on pushing through, and if only your CORE could be as stubborn.

Here are my top 5 Core exercises that could be a weekly asset to your routine

You’ve guessed correctly

1. Plank

30 seconds, 40 seconds, a minute, anything that’s with some sort of regular progression in mind. This is the same for the sides and ‘active’ plank performed on hands as opposed to elbows. Alternate hands or a shoulder tap to add instability on each side, acknowledging tasks and daily lifting of objects in different planes of motion throughout the day.

Advanced- Half Speed Plank Get-up’s 4×15

EXPERT- Body Saws

2. Bear Crawl

You’ll see these featured in any solid programme for competitive strength and conditioning, a full body movement which requires coordination and flexibility through bodyweight. In a bird/dog position, Start off by bringing your knees from the floor and just holding your weight across all four points of contact –hands, feet– taking slow steps out with each. Once you are comfortable holding both your upper and lower body in a staggered fashion progress to crawling in a straight line, alternating hands with feet, right hand left foot LHRF RHLF.

Advanced- Spiderman Crawl

EXPERT- Lizard Crawl (Pending)

3. Burpee

Jump as high as you can, hit the deck, get back up, don’t die.

Advanced- Man Makers

The same, but instead of jumping, clean and press a pair of dumbbells from the lying portion of the movement, add in a renegade row from the press-up position of the movement for extra instability and added difficulty.

EXPERT- Sledgehammer Burpees

Hit something hard, hit the deck whilst carrying the sledgehammer, alternate hands after each hit.

4. Ring Fallout

TRX is also equally as useful for this exercise. From a standing position, move your weight out in front of you, assuming a diving position, aiming to increase the distance from your hands to your feet. This can be done in reps or can be progressed further into a few second holds. Find the points to which your core shakes the most and iron them out, keep everything tight without overarching or rounding your back.

Advanced- Single Arm fallout

EXPERT- Standing Barbell Rollout

5. Farmers Walk 

Pick up something heavy, assume an upright posture walk the length of the gym, slowly, heel toe.

Advanced- Overhead Carry

EXPERT- A sustained carry of anything in excess of BODYWEIGHT(KG)

Try each of these on a day which isn’t going to impede on your workout, Farmers walks at the beginning of heavy back split may make your grip soft. Fallouts will burn out your core muscles so doing something like a squat or deadlift will be much harder to keep tight, and finally, best till last, burpees at the end as they are the hardest.

Look out for my next blog ‘Should I Compete?’

Is Caffeine Killing Your Appetite?

Fitness, Lifestyle

There’s no better way to awake from the hazy morning stupour like a shot of espresso, your favourite energy drink or a Sport’s Direct mug size cup of coffee, but what amounts are optimal and how much do stimulants impede on our eating habits?

Tolerance plays a huge part in whether caffeine may still be serving you in the same way as before, the same with anything for prolonged periods. The best piece of advice I can give before the other extreme of having none at all would be to first cut back and secondly observe your bodies response to fatigue;

are you yawning excessively, dragging yourself around or too tired to actively engage in conversation? At what time does this usually come about? Does this come straight after eating?

No time for breakfast? “Yeah but, Intermittent fasting?’ 

Prepare for work as you would a workout, try not to skip breakfast if it means you’re not eating till 2pm. Remember your body still uses energy to digest food so ‘breaking fast’ at lunchtime and cramming half the days worth of food in an hour will just make you tired and bloated. If you don’t eat breakfast make sure you have at least eaten something the night before rather than going without any food at all till the afternoon.

Got an early start?

Space your food apart, whether its oats, fruit, eggs or shakes, they don’t all have to be eaten at once, sustain your energy and go into the afternoon ready to eat but not to attack any food in sight.

Just like tolerance determines how much someone needs in order to feel the benefit, how much energy and concentration your job requires throughout the day is going to affect how quick you are to justify another coffee.

Have you had enough sleep?

This is an obvious one, but are you genuinely exhausted or just feeling the late afternoon ‘slump’ a time to which may have to cram all your work in the next few hours to get out on time. If this is the case, more caffeine would seem to ensure that you perform capably to time, does this warrant eating later since food is no longer needed?

Finally,

Is caffeine keeping you up at night?

I don’t mean binge-watching your favourite series,

Even the feeling of being just not ready to sleep yet, waking up intermittently throughout the night and waking up feeling as groggy as the morning before. This is not a feeling that seems as though it can be fixed with food, and so, CAFFEINE, the cycle continues.

Hope this is as informative as it is anecdotal.

In December I will be cutting out all caffeine for 1 month to see whether it still serves me, the results to which I will feature in another blog.

Look out for my next post ‘Should I Train Core? for my top 5 core exercises.

 

 

 

Should I Train ‘Abs’?

Fitness, Lifestyle

If you ask the majority of people what they’d rather have, great abs or the freedom of choice when it comes to food, they’d usually choose the latter. If you asked the same question about having a strong Core, well, ‘that’s the same thing right?’

When it comes to abs, having a tight midsection is a bi-product of numerous factors, those of which do require discipline, but considering that the ‘6 pack muscles’ can only really be seen at a certain body-fat % are they really worth training?

The superficial –those closest to the surface of the body– abdominal muscles are trained just like any other, although their visual development can be deceiving to often weaker, deep rooted core muscles pertaining postural balance and healthy movement.   

Lets start with the ABS,

Can you ‘contract’ them?

Can you target specific areas?

Do you feel like you’ve worked them the following day?

No? 

As much as I am always going to encourage doing more of something IF it serves a purpose, reflect on whether this extra twenty minutes in the gym can be utilised more effectively. Focus on your CORE* until you can answer YES to all three

Just like any other muscle group, sound abdominal training should involve focusing on the concentric part of the movement,

breathing IN as you would before submerging into water

bracing as you would receive a punch to the stomach.

When it comes to breathing OUT, contract your abs and exhale sharply to complete the movement.

Breathing with intent during the crunch of the movement will determine the difference between merely doing 1000’s of sit-ups and actively engaging your stomach muscles as they should be.

Do you have tightness in your lower back?

Chances are, anterior weakness in the midsection, especially after prolonged periods of sitting with a rounded –kyphotic– posture presents more stress to the lower back than necessary,

strength to the front is strength to the back. 

My top 4 exercises for abs along with the fundamental progress points that must be mastered beforehand

Twisting/Knee raise on parallel bars 15 side/ 15 middle/ 15 side

Lying knee raise 45 rep total

Partial into full rollouts

4×20 rollouts from knees

The ‘rolling’ plank

3-5 minute plank all sides

Cable crunches – all sides

4×20 weighted decline crunches

Performing each of these exercises regularly or even as part of a short 4 exercise circuit together will certainly strengthen your abs, but they will need just as much time to recover as any other muscle. If you were to do 20/30 minutes of ab training every 2 days, try to avoid doing them before a leg or a heavy compound lift day, if you cannot squeeze them into your routine aside these factors, do them at the end as opposed to before.

Look out for my next posts ‘Is Caffeine killing your appetite?’ and further videos on my Instagram for Core basics and Core progressions.