Category Archives for "Weight Loss"

22nd October 2019

Why you should train for strength

​10 Benefits of Strength Training

1

Increased Cognitive Function 

Strength training has shown to boost your cognitive function. This is largely down to the fact that training with challenging loads enhances the neuromuscular system (all your muscles in your body and the nerves serving them) to be efficient, which translates on to the way our muscular system functions. As we age, cognitive function becomes susceptible to degeneration and so utilising strength training throughout your years will do wonders to offset diseases such as Alzheimer's and dementia.

​ 

2

Increased Functional Strength

​Increasing your capacity to get daily activities and tasks done is something strength training can help you with. Developing the ability to pick things up, put them down, push and pull them is exactly what strength training should be about. If done correctly, these primal movement patterns can be enhanced with strength training. It can make your life easier as you become accustomed to being stronger for life's daily tasks.

3

Better Body Composition

​Strength training is a perfect tool to torch body fat and builds lean muscle. The combination of stimulating and growing active metabolic tissue and working energy systems, which burn a vast amount of calories, is a perfect recipe for body composition goals. Strength training worked in this fashion using challenging loads over moderate rep ranges will not only burn fat during your workout but also up to 72 hours after.

​4

Increased Metabolism

​As a result of enhancing body composition and developing muscle mass through strength training, an increased metabolic rate is also associated. This is similar to putting a bigger engine in a car, more petrol required. If you're like me and you love your food, then this benefit is good news. Eat more without putting on fat.

​5

Anti-aging

It’s never too later to start strength training. Strength training has numerous benefits in reducing the ageing process. Strength training is by far the best remedy for reducing aging and it trumps any cosmetic surgery or supplement.

​6

Increased Pain Relief

Utilising strength training in a smartly formatted training program can do wonders for your posture and function. What this does in turn is reduce the amount of pain that is associated with dysfunctional joints and muscles seen with poor postures. Have a professional assess your current posture and devise a training plan that not only increases your fitness abilities but also rehabilitates your posture. Let’s face it, a stronger body is a more functional one and a more functional body is less likely to be riddled with pain.

​7

Increased Immunity

​More muscle mass and a better firing neuromuscular system points towards us having a stronger immune system. Strength training does not only make you stronger physically, but it enhances your physiology making it more robust. This ties in with point 5. As we age we leak strength, cognitive function and immunity, so keeping our bodies strong from the inside out is an important component to a healthy, longer lasting body.

​8

Strength Training Supplements Cardio Vascular Training

​Keeping the heart healthy is of our upmost importance and so working your ticker during some form of cardio vascular training is very beneficial. Strength training on the other hand complements CV, helping us stay strong enough to deal with various activities. Running for example is a popular form of CV training but many find it difficult as joints hurt and lower backs twinge. Strength training can help us deal with these sorts of impact injuries and this leads me on to point 9.

​9

Incredible for Sports Performance

​Strength training is incredible for sports performance and that's why many, if not all athletes have some form of strength and conditioning coach and program to follow. Strength training allows us to develop our force outputs and so we can translate this to our sporting tasks. For example, developing a squat in the gym can translate into increased jumping and sprinting performance. This is because it enables us to begin to generate more force into the ground. Moreover, because strength training makes us more robust, it should reduce the chances of injury significantly.

10

Gender Friendly

​Strength training is for everyone. It can be seen as very male dominated but this really is untrue. Females will see tremendous benefits when taking part in strength training. Thankfully now, the stigma of weight training being just for men is fading and a rise of female influencers promoting a strong and healthy attitude towards body image and weights is growing. Gaining a large amount of muscle mass and looking bigger is often a worry for most women. However, females will not build a large amount of muscle due to their hormonal balance but will see great physical benefits when taking part in strength training activities.

​​How to Build a Strength Session

1

Volume and Intensity

​When training for strength, it is important we design the session so that we instigate the desired physiological response. To maximise our strength gains we should be looking to work at low volume with a higher intensity, meaning less repetitions with a heavy weight. 5 sets of 5 reps working at 85% of your 1 rep max is a popular strength session structure. High intensity exercise will purposely tear the myofibrils (muscle fibers) which is the key to building strength. Your body then repairs these fibers, making them thicker, denser and stronger.

2

Exercise Selection

​To some degree this comes down to personal preference. I personally believe that utilising big compound exercises is the most efficient way to build full body strength. A compound exercise is a movement which utilises multiple muscle groups and joints. When using these exercises, we are able to recruit many more muscle fibres and damage a higher volume of myofibrils. A few personal favorites of mine are:

Back Squat

Deadlift

Bench Press

Pull Up

Bent Over Row

Clean and Press

Overhead Press

3

Rest and Recovery (part 1):

​One of the most vital parts of strength training comes after the exercise. After such intense work we need to ensure we allow our body time to recover. We do not want risk overtraining and injuring the body. The first stage of recovery comes straight after your training session. You must always cool down using an active recovery directly after a session. This will allow your heart rate to gradually decrease and prevent blood from pooling around the muscles. This pooling of blood leads to a build-up of lactic acid and painful cramps. A thorough stretch and foam roll of the muscles worked is essential for the removal of lactate, and prevention of cramp. This stretch also keeps the body more supple and flexible.

​4

Rest and Recovery (part 2):

​The next part of your recovery will focus on your nutrition and sleep. The macro-nutrient responsible for muscle growth and recovery is protein. If you are undergoing a strength training programme I would highly recommend protein rich diet. Foods which are high in protein include; chicken, fish, nuts and tofu.

Now onto bedtime. Sleep is a crucial aid to strength training recovery and helps with muscle repair after a strenuous workout. On the flip side, inadequate sleep can interfere with the body’s ability to recover after lifting weights, and inhibits the body’s ability to build maximum muscle strength. Along with dietary protein to aid in muscle repair and new muscle growth, your body produces its own muscle-building hormones while you sleep, including human growth hormone (HGH). During the N3 stage of NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep, blood flow to your muscles increases, and tissue growth and repair occurs. During REM sleep, the muscles relax, which can help relieve tension and reduce symptoms of certain types of chronic pain. In fact, many of the critical restorative functions in the body—like tissue repair and muscle growth—occur mostly or only during sleep. A consistent sleep schedule of seven to nine hours a night (possibly more if you are a competitive athlete) will help the muscle-healing process.

​5

​Safety

​Last but certainly not least we need to talk about how to ensure you are completely safe when strength training. Before any exercise a warm up is essential for getting your body mentally and physically prepared; You need to increase blood flow to your muscles to ensure they are warm. This is in order to reduce the risk of injury and improve performance.

Whilst exercising, correct technique is vital. The quality of the movement is much more important than the amount of resistance moved. Although the goal with strength training is to ultimately increase load, if this begins to compromise our technique, we need to regress. I can tell you from personal experience that lifting weights incorrectly or pushing the body too far can result in injury. Therefore, before undergoing any exercise, no matter how simple or complex, it is very important to practice correct from. Ask a professional to demonstrate and teach you the movement. Personal training is the most effective way to master technique. Having a professional giving you their undivided attention and constant feedback will prevent you from developing any bad habits when exercising.  Lastly, if you are lifting heavy weights you should always have a spotter. A spotter is there to support you and help you move the weight if needed.


​6

​Strength Training at Home

Although you may not be able to lift heavy weights at home, there is no reason you cannot build strength. You can use bodyweight resistance training at home to develop strength and muscular endurance. Focus on time under tension (slow reps) and static exercises to increase the intensity of the session to maximise strength gains.

​7

​Now its Your Turn

Below I have designed two different full body workouts. One to be completed in the gym and the other for you to try at home. If you struggle with any of the exercises remember to always ask advice from a professional. Remember, technique is everything so start slowly, build confidence and regress if needed.

​Strength Workouts

1

​Home Workout

2

​Gym Workout

20th September 2019

Sleep and Sex

An under-the-covers look at whether getting turned on turns off your ability to fall asleep

There are two things that your bedroom should be designed for: having sex and sleeping.  So to be clear, its not to be a playground for your kids and pets, nor is it a place to do the ironing.  But that begs the question: How can having sex (an act that is, at its core, meant to be arousing) get you ready for serious shut-eye?  I mean, imagine falling asleep on 'the job'! Im sure you haven't ever done that!  It turns out that the two actions go hand in hand. More sex helps you sleep, and more sleep boosts your sex drive.

Yes, sex can actually make it easier to fall asleep. This is mostly because of the hormones that are released during the act. Sex boosts oxytocin (a hormone that makes you feel connected to your partner) and lowers cortisol (a stress-related hormone). Plus, having an orgasm releases a hormone called prolactin, which makes you feel relaxed and sleepy. All of that leads up to a nice, drowsy state that's perfect for a nightime cuddle and falling asleep.

There’s an added bonus for women, which is that sex boosts estrogen levels, enhancing your REM stage and giving you ​a deep sleep. ​It's good for men too.  You sleep deeply after intercourse, ​win win!!

​Your sleep habits could be helping or hurting your sex life. If you or your partner aren’t sleeping well, whether due to stress, one person keeping the other up with tossing and turning, or a condition like sleep apnea, your sex drive is going to go way down. lose lose!!

If a lack of sleep is hurting your sex life, the answer might lie in having more sex!  Win win!!! That’s because sexual satisfaction is a great ​for relieving stress, as well as a way to feel more intimate with your partner—and when you feel less frazzled and happier in your relationship, those feelings will contribute to better sleep (and the cycle goes on and on!). So, instead of lying in bed, worrying about why you can’t fall asleep, turn to your partner and initiate sex. 

17th September 2019

Sleep Tips

  • Carve out at least 30 minutes of wind-down time before bed in which you do something relaxing, such as read a book. Dim the lights in the house slightly for an hour or so before bed.  
  • Disconnect from close-range electronic devices such as laptops, phones, and tablets, as the light from their screens can alert the brain and make it harder to fall asleep.
  • In order to calm your mind, do a breathing or relaxation exercise. Use an App if you are not sure how to do this (there is one in the resources section
  • If you get into bed and cannot fall asleep after 20 minutes, get up and return to another space in the house to do a relaxing activity, such as reading or listening to music. Lying in bed awake can create an unhealthy link between your sleeping environment and wakefulness. Instead, you want your bed to conjure sleepy thoughts and feelings only
  • Wake up at the same time every day. Even if you have a hard time falling asleep and feel tired in the morning, try to get up at the same time (weekends included). This can help adjust your body's clock and aid in falling asleep at night.

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    2nd September 2019

    How to Avoid Bad Decisions

    ​​​You may be surprised just how much small daily decisions impact the willpower you have for important choices. And most importantly, it turns out there are simple choices you can make that will help you master your willpower and make better decisions on a more consistent basis.

    Amazing But True

    In a research study published by the National Academy of Sciences, psychologists examined the factors that impact whether or not a judge approves a criminal for parole.

    The researchers examined 1,112 judicial rulings over a 10-month period. All of the rulings were made by a parole board judge, who was determining whether or not to allow the criminal to be released from prison on parole. (In some cases, the criminal was asking not for a release, but rather for a change in parole terms.)

    Now, you might assume that the judges were influenced by factors like the type of crime committed or the particular laws that were broken.But the researchers found exactly the opposite. The choices made by judges are impacted by all types of things that shouldn't have an effect in the courtroom. Most notably, the time of day.

    What the researchers found was that at the beginning of the day, a judge was likely to give a favorable ruling about 65 percent of the time. However, as the morning wore on and the judge became drained from making more and more decisions, the likelihood of a criminal getting a favorable ruling steadily dropped to zero.

    After taking a lunch break, however, the judge would return to the courtroom refreshed and the likelihood of a favorable ruling would immediately jump back up to 65 percent. And then, as the hours moved on, the percentage of favorable rulings would fall back down to zero by the end of the day.

    This trend held true for more than 1,100 cases. It didn’t matter what the crime was — murder, rape, theft, embezzlement — a criminal was much more likely to get a favorable response if their parole hearing was scheduled in the morning (or immediately after a food break) than if it was scheduled near the end of a long session.

    What Is Happening Here?

    We now call this phenomenon 'decision fatigue'. When the judge on a parole board experiences decision fatigue, they deny more parole requests.

    When your willpower is fading and your brain is tired of making decisions, it’s easier just to say no and keep everyone locked up than it is to debate whether or not someone is trustworthy enough to leave prison. At the beginning of the day, a judge will give each case a fair shot. But as their energy starts to fade? Deny, deny, deny.

    Decision fatigue happens every day in your life as well. If you have a particularly decision-heavy day at work, then you come home feeling drained. You might want to go to the gym and workout, but your brain would rather default to the easy decision: sit on the couch. That’s decision fatigue.

    ​​Its funny but, as it turns out, your willpower is like a muscle. like all muscles in your body, your willpower can get fatigued when you use it over and over again. Every time you make a decision, it’s like doing another squat at home or rep in the gym. And ​as your muscles get tired at the end of a workout, the strength of your willpower fades as you make more decisions.

    ​What Can You Do To Avoid It?

    ​Plan the night before

    There will always be decisions that pop up each day that you can't plan for. That's fine. It's just part of life.  But for most of us, the decisions that drain us are the ones that we make over and over and over again. Wasting precious willpower these decisions — which could be automated or planned in advance — is one reason why many people feel so drained at the end of the day. For example, decisions like…What am I going to wear to work? What should I eat for breakfast? Should I go to the dry cleaner before or after work? And so on.  All of those examples above, can be decided in 3 minutes or less the night before, which means you won't be wasting your willpower on those choices the next day. Taking time to plan out, simplify, and design the repeated daily decisions will give you more mental space to make the important choices each day.

    Do The Most Important Things First

    Is it getting in shape? Is it building your business? Is it writing that book you have inside of you? Is it learning to eliminate stress and relax?  Whatever it is for you, put your best energy toward it. If you have to wake up 30 minutes earlier, then do that. Start your day by working on the most important thing in your life.  I've written previously about the importance of morning routines and time management, this research on willpower is just another reason to work on the most important things first.

    ​Stop Making Decisions and Start Making Commitments 

    I think advice like, “you just need to decide to do it” gets dished around too much.  Yes, of course you need to decide to do the things that are important to you, but more than that you need to schedule them into your life.  We all have things that we say are important to us.

    “I really want to scale my business.”  “I really want to lose 40 pounds.”  "I really want to get started on XYZ.”

    Unfortunately, most of us simply hope that we'll have the willpower and motivation to make the right decisions each day.  Rather than hoping that I'll make the right choice each day, I've found much more success by scheduling the things that are important to me.

    For example, my schedule for writing is Monday - Friday, not weekends . On any given Monday, I don’t have to decide whether I'm going to ​exercise . It’s already on the schedule. And I’m not hoping that I’ll have enough willpower to make it to the gym. It’s just where I go on Mondays at 3pm.

    If you sit back and hope that you’ll be able to make the right decisions each day, then you will certainly fall victim to decision fatigue and a lack of willpower.


    ​Don't Make Decisions On An Empty Stomach

    It’s no coincidence that the judges became better decision makers after eating. Now, if you cram french fries into your veins every day, then I doubt that you'll enjoy the same results. But taking a break to feed your brain is a wonderful way to boost willpower.

    This is especially important because although it’s great to do the most important thing first, it’s not always possible to organize your day like that.  When you want to get better decisions from your mind, put better food into your body.

    Simplify Your Life

    Whether you are trying to reach the highest level of performance or just want to start eating a healthy diet, the biggest frustration for most people is the feeling that you need to use willpower on an hourly basis.  Find ways to simplify your life. If something isn't important to you, eliminate it. Making decisions about unimportant things, even if you have the time to do so, isn't a benign task. It's pulling precious energy and willpower from the things that matter.

    Willpower is one area of life where you can most certainly improve your output by reducing the number of inputs.


    Lesson Essentials:  Weekly Schedule

    Download and print this document to ​fill it​ out at home.

    Tame The Sweet Tooth

    If I didn't know any better, I'd quite happily munch through a tub of ice cream every day.  And 400g Dairy Milk. That's my sweet tooth demon! It's not your fault if you have one too.  Sugar attaches to the same brain receptors as HEROIN. And the entire world is ADDICTED!!

    What about you?

    Trying to lose weight with an all mighty sweet-tooth can be a REALLY tough job. The problem is that most of us have a sweet-tooth that's out of control. Sugar is bloody addictive stuff. 

    It's hidden in so many foods (Bread, Soups, Tomato Sauce, Peanut Butter, Yoghurts, Health bars, Protein shakes). 


    It often 'sneaks' into our diet without us even knowing it.  We are convenience eaters and we make 90% of food decisions subconsciously so it's no wonder we make mistakes....

    When we see food, we want to eat it and when we eat it, we have no conscious memory of eating it!!

     If it's not the mars bar at the petrol station or the brownie at the coffee shop, sugar will break you down one way or another. Food manufacturers chuck in extra sugar whenever they can to get us hooked on their products. 

    The good news is that we can break this habit.


    The first step in taming your sweet tooth is to actually take a look at what you're eating. 
    No guess work. Track what you eat for a few days and read the labels. Make notes of how much sugar you eat and begin to plan how you can make changes.  If your goal is maximum fat loss, then I recommend cutting out all refined sugar for a period of 28 days.  Although, if you're a serious sugar addict you might find yourself crying in the corner of a dark room if you go cold turkey. I can't have you crying, so the plan is tame it slowly and reduce your sugar intake over a number of weeks. Many people have become over reliant on sugar for energy. When the low sugar levels hit, cravings go through the roof. So here's a practical solution:

    Gradually decrease the amount of sugar you eat, so that you're not completely reliant on sugar for fuel. You'll be glad you did! Now, I know some people will be reading this thinking 'No way Jose!'
    "Everything in moderation" they'll say to themselves. To these people I say track the sugar going in and tell me if it's in "moderation".
    Chances are, it's not. 

    You could also take this quiz to see if your meals are helping you lose weight...


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