29 Sep

Eat More Protein For More Productive Workouts

 

 

 

When people hear ‘protein’ and ‘exercise’ in the same sentence, they’re most likely to conjure up images of bodybuilders using protein bars and milkshakes in order to maximise their workouts. Protein is important for anyone  who is hitting the gym, playing sports, going for runs or doing any other form of exercise.

To put it simply, protein is one of the main nutrients that every person needs to maintain a healthy body. It helps to repair any internal or external damage, supports the immune system and contributes to an overall feeling of wellbeing. At a cellular level, proteins are used for just about everything, from transporting messages, carry out the instructions of DNA and defending, preserving and repairing essential life functions.

Nutrition and Health

It doesn’t matter which way you look at it, protein is essential for exercise. Anyone undertaking any kind of exercise routine is definitely going to need more protein than someone who doesn’t. This is because when you exercise, you are effectively tearing and breaking muscle fibres apart, which then need to be repaired by the body, requiring protein to do so.
So where do people get protein from? From a dietary point of view, day to day protein is gained from eating food such as beans, soy protein products, nuts, eggs , chicken & other such foods. If you are exercising, you can supplement your normal intake of protein with protein bars & shakes although I always advise to get all / mots of it from food.

Repair, Maintain, Grow

Protein is especially important to consume after a workout as during the exercise you are effectively breaking your muscles down. That is why it’s a common sight to see people at the gym eating protein bars or drinking  shakes when they have finished their routine to help increase the impact of their exercise.

Research varies on how much you need to consume from 1 – 2 grams per pound of bodyweight. I normally advise around 1 – 1.5 grams per pound of body weight as a good guide line.

Many beginners may struggle to eat as much protein required when first working out as they are normally use to over consuming carbohydrates but once you start to change the ratios around & consume more protein & less carbohydrates , you will soon discover you will feel better , feel less lethargic, get leaner & recover faster from exercise.

 

28 Sep

Lift Weights To Run Better

 

 

 

 

 

For many runners the thought of lifting weights can be a counter productive experience. Why  would you want to lift weights , they can make you bulky & slow you down which is the exact opposite to what a runner would want to do.

Over the many years of training clients , I have trained quite a few for marathons & other long distance running events & a crucial part of their plan is weight training as it will strenghten & condition the body making it faster & will also reduce the chance of injury.

 

Here are my favourite exercises I like to incorporate in a clients programme.

Wood Chop

Connect a standard handle to a tower, and move the cable to the highest pulley position. With your side to the cable, grab the handle with one hand and step away from the tower. You should be a few feet away from the pulley, with the tension of the weight on the cable. Your outstretched arm should be aligned with the cable.

With your feet positioned shoulder width apart, reach upward with your other hand and grab the handle with both hands. Your arms should still be fully extended. In one motion, pull the handle down and across your body to your front knee while rotating your torso. Keep your back and arms straight and core tight while you pivot your back foot and bend your knees to get a full range of motion.

Maintain your stance and straight arms. Return to the neutral position in a slow and controlled manner.

Bench Press

Lie on the bench so your eyes are directly under the bar.  Grasp the bar just outside shoulder width. Arch your back hard so that your lower back is completely off the bench. Your shoulder blades should be pulled together.

Squeeze the bar tightly and pull it out of the rack (if you have a spotter—and you should when the weight gets very heavy—have him help you get the bar into position).

Take a deep breath and lower the bar to your sternum (in line with the bottom edge of your pecs), tucking your elbows in at to your sides. When the bar touches your body, drive your feet hard into the floor and press it back up. Exhale at the end of the rep.

Hip Thrust / Glute Bridge

Set up the barbell parallel to the bench. Position yourself on the floor, with your shoulders and shoulder blades against the bench. Again, if they don’t reach the bench when you are sitting on the floor you can raise your butt a little bit off the floor. Roll the barbell toward you, over your legs until it’s directly over your hips.

Put your elbows on the bench and your hands on the bar to steady it.  It is very important that your body is aligned and your spine is neutral. Take a deep breath in, then exhale all the air out through your mouth and brace your core.Drive through your heels and squeeze your glutes to lift your hips (and the barbell). Come down smoothly, with your core still braced.

Squat

Begin with the barbell supported on top of the traps. The chest should be up and the head facing forward. Adopt a hip-width stance with the feet turned out as needed. Descend by flexing the knees, refraining from moving the hips back as much as possible. This requires that the knees travel forward. Ensure that they stay align with the feet. The goal is to keep the torso as upright as possible.

Continue all the way down, keeping the weight on the front of the heel. At the moment the upper legs contact the lower legs reverse the motion, driving the weight upward.

Lat Pulldown

Grab the bar with the palms facing forward using the prescribed grip. Note on grips: For a wide grip, your hands need to be spaced out at a distance wider than shoulder width. For a medium grip, your hands need to be spaced out at a distance equal to your shoulder width and for a close grip at a distance smaller than your shoulder width. As you have both arms extended in front of you holding the bar at the chosen grip width, bring your torso back around 30 degrees or so while creating a curvature on your lower back and sticking your chest out. This is your starting position.

As you breathe out, bring the bar down until it touches your upper chest by drawing the shoulders and the upper arms down and back. Concentrate on squeezing the back muscles once you reach the full contracted position. The upper torso should remain stationary and only the arms should move. The forearms should do no other work except for holding the bar; therefore do not try to pull down the bar using the forearms.

After a second at the contracted position squeezing your shoulder blades together, slowly raise the bar back to the starting position when your arms are fully extended and the lats are fully stretched. Inhale during this portion of the movement.

 

 

 

 

27 Sep

Drink Coffee For Better Workouts

 

 

 

One of the biggest things to hit the supplement market in the past 5 years is the pre workout. If you do not know what this, I would say the best way to explain it would be a mild stimulant that you take normally around 20-30 minutes before you train.

Most of them will contain L-arginine , Beta-alanine , Tyrosine , Caffeine & possibly other ingredients. Out of all of the ingredients they contain , caffeine will be the most prominant .

Whilst caffein is a great product to use before you train , too much of it can be a bad thing & many of these pre workouts can contain 3 – 4 cups of coffee in one shot which can be counter productive & not good health wise long term for you.

For me , a good old cup of coffee about 30 minutes before I train does the trick. Here are some of the benefits of having a cup of the stuff before you train.

 

 

 

 

25 Sep

The Top 4 Exercises For Increasing Quads Mass

 

 

Legs. The muscle group that many do not like to train. Why? They are a biggest muscle groups on the body which require heavier weights to be stimulated. Leg workouts are by far the hardest but also the most rewarding I feel.

These are some of my favourite ” go to ” exercises for my clients to perform.

Barbell Step-Ups

One of the best ways that you can train your body is to work through functional exercises . A functional exercise is any workout that mimics real life movements that you perform every day when you’re at home, or at work or out in the world. The barbell step up is one of the top exercises because it’s so similar to the lunge and it mimics those movements we do every day while stabilizing our bodies across multiple planes.

To set this exercise up, use a barbell (or dumbbells , though the weight will be significantly less) across your shoulders similar to a squat. Step forward onto a small box or bench at a low height. Make sure the item you’re stepping up to can support the weight. When you step up, use your forward leg to propel yourself up. Bring your back foot forward and raise your knee up as high as you can. Step that foot back down while maintaining tension on the leg you first stepped forward onto the box with.

Barbell Lunges

This exercise is very similar to the step up, & is an extremely effective workout that targets your quads. Additional weights on a barbell aren’t necessary, as variations of this workout can be done with dumbbells or simply using your own body weight to tone the quads.  It’s all a matter of preference and the intensity of the workout.

Your goal is to work through a set of lunges, just like you would normally do them, while maintaining a weighted barbell on your shoulders or with dumbbells at your sides. When you lunge, you want one foot forward and one foot back with both knees bent. Your forward thigh should be parallel to the floor in order to achieve an optimal lunge – without your back knee touching the ground.

Squats

Squats have long been the king of all leg exercises. The barbell squat activates all the muscle groups in the legs. This compound exercise requires complete body stabilisation which makes it one of the most physically demanding exercises to perform. Adding additional weight can put a hard strain on your leg muscles to spur on the growth and recover of new and stronger muscle tissue. While effective, this exercise does require stronger shoulders as the barbell is held either across the top of the chest or across the shoulders behind the neck.

When performing the squat, it’s important to keep the back straight and lower the body slowly under tension to a point where the thigh is parallel to the floor (though you can go lower). Raise yourself back to a standing position and repeat.

The Leg Press

It’s important to keep in mind that the leg press is not a functional exercise. It does not mimic the gestures or movements of work we do on a daily basis. This is more for weight trainers that are serious about applying heavy weight to the muscle groups of the legs.

Using machines & various foot positions, it’s possible to apply a large amount of weight to the legs from a safe and comfortable position that will target all of the muscle groups within the upper and lower legs. If your aim is to tone the individual muscles and muscle groups in the legs then the leg press is an ideal choice to supplement the other top quad exercises.

Weight lifters and trainers all too often forget about the legs beyond some run, sprint or walk time. It’s necessary to do various exercises  that will not only tone the legs but strengthen the core muscles of the quad & lower legs as well. Remember that your legs provide the core strength that your other muscle groups need to function throughout your workouts.

25 Sep

Eat Chocolate & Feel Great

 

 

Hands up who doesn’t like chocolate? I think you would struggle to find someone who is not a fan of the stuff BUT of course like everything in life , too much of anything can be bad for you.

Chocolate in its more natural form can be a lot better for you mainly as it generally less dense in calories. Dark chocolate specifically has been show to have a lot of health benefits so why not stop the processed stuff & start eating it in its more natural form.

Dark Chocolate is Good for Your Heart

Studies show that eating a small amount of dark chocolate two or three times each week can help lower your blood pressure. Dark chocolate improves blood flow and may help prevent the formation of blood clots. Eating dark chocolate may also prevent arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

Dark Chocolate is Full of Antioxidants

Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants. Antioxidants help free your body of free radicals, which cause oxidative damage to cells. Free radicals are implicated in the aging process and may be a cause of cancer, so eating antioxidant rich foods like dark chocolate can protect you from many types of cancer and slow the signs of aging.

Dark Chocolate is High in Vitamins and Minerals

Dark chocolate contains a number of vitamins and minerals that can support your health. Dark chocolate contains Potassium, Copper ,Magnesium & Iron. The copper and potassium in dark chocolate help prevent against stroke and cardiovascular ailments. The iron in chocolate protects against iron deficiency anemia, and the magnesium helps prevent type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure & heart disease.

Dark Chocolate Helps Control Blood Sugar

Dark chocolate helps keep your blood vessels healthy and your circulation unimpaired to protect against type 2 diabetes. The flavonoids in dark chocolate also help reduce insulin resistance by helping your cells to function normally and regain the ability to use your body’s insulin efficiently. Dark chocolate also has a low glycemic index, meaning it won’t cause huge spikes in blood sugar levels.

12 Sep

Soak Up Vitamin D To Feel Better This Winter

 

 

We seem to have hit September & the weather has become autumnal rapidly. The nights are drawing in & the weather is starting to cool which means for many that you will start to feel lethargic & tired. One of the main reasons for this can be a lack of Vitamin D.

 

When your body receives Vitamin D (from sunlight, food, or supplements), it turns the Vitamin D into a hormone. This hormone is called activated Vitamin D or calcitriol.

The body makes around 90% of the Vitamin D it needs. This can only happen when your skin gets enough direct UV light from sunshine. The other 10% of your Vitamin D intake comes from foods rich in the vitamin. If you don’t get a lot of sunlight, or if you usually stay covered up, a quality Vitamin D supplement may help you.

How does sunlight give us Vitamin D?

When we get sunlight on our skin, our body produces a substance called cholecalciferol. This is then turned into calcidiol and then calcitriol by the liver and kidneys.

There are three ways to get enough Vitamin D: from food sources, from a good Vitamin D supplement, & from exposure to enough sunlight on your skin.

During sunny months, your body might make excess calcidiol. But it won’t go to waste. Any extra will be stored in your body fat as a kind of back up for those grey winter days. Experts think that just 10 minutes of sunlight on your skin is enough to avoid Vitamin D deficiency. So get outside when you can.

Vitamin D2 and D3

The most important forms of Vitamin D for the human body are D3 and (to a lesser extent) D2. Make sure you cover your bases by choosing a quality vitamin supplement and eating some foods fortified with D3.

What does Vitamin D actually do to my body?

Vitamin D is important for a huge number of functions in the body, from supporting strong and healthy bones to maintaining your immune system. Most of your body’s Vitamin D comes from getting enough sunlight on your skin. For many people, this is a challenge, which is why new Government guidelines recommend a daily Vitamin D3 supplement.

It’s also been shown to support the immune system. So taking Vitamin D during the winter months when you may be more likely to feel under the weather could help support your immune system, which is integral in fighting off bugs.

But how does Vitamin D actually work within your body?

What happen when you take your daily Vitamin D3?

When you take a Vitamin D supplement, the vitamin passes from your bloodstream into your liver. From here, it goes to the kidneys where it turns into calcitriol. It is then released back into your bloodstream and can now enter your body’s cells where it attaches to Vitamin D receptors. At this point, it can get to work regulating the minerals calcium and phosphorous. Clever stuff!

In your bones

Vitamin D in your bones helps absorb and store calcium in your skeletal tissue. It regulates the cells which build and maintain bones.

In your kidneys

Vitamin D helps recycle calcium in your kidneys so your bones can reabsorb it. If this didn’t happen, you would lose more of your Vitamin D through urination.

In your digestive system

Vitamin D also gets to work in your intestines. Here, it helps your body absorb the calcium from your healthy diet and from any calcium supplements.

Make sure you get enough Vitamin D in a format which your body can use. Support your diet and lifestyle with a quality daily Vitamin D3 supplement which can be absorbed and digested by your body.

 

17 Aug

Why You Need To Be Deadlifting

 

 

 

Along with Squats , Deadlifts are one of the most affective exercises you can do in the gym. You just have to be mindful when doing them as it is easy to get wrapped up with what you lift & potentially injure yourself.

If you are not doing them. Here are some of the main reasons as to why you should be.

More Muscles Worked

The Deadlift works more muscles than any other exercise, including the squat. The lift engages all of the major muscle group. The Deadlift works your lower and upper body, including all of your back muscles.

Increases Hormones

By doing at least 8 to 10 repetitions of Deadlifts with significant weight, you can increase the amount of testosterone and growth hormone produced by your body. Testosterone increases muscle growth and improves muscle repair while growth hormone, which is produced by your pituitary gland, promotes tissue healing, bone strength, muscle growth and fat loss.

Improved Grip Strength

Deadlifts are renowned for their ability to build massive amounts of grip strength, & for a good reason. Your fingers are literally the only things connecting you to the weight of the bar. Your forearms have to work incredibly hard as you progress in weight to keep the bar from falling out of your hands. Subsequently your grip strength grows by leaps and bounds.

Increased Cardio

Believe it or not, doing 10 repetitions of Deadlifts will increase your cardiovascular ability. You might want to make sure you have somewhere to sit down when you’re done.

Better Posture

Deadlifting increases your core strength and adds to core stability. Deadlifting targets all of the muscles responsible for your posture and enables you to keep your back straighter during regular daily activities.

 

17 Aug

Add Some Peanut Butter For Better Health

 

 

Protein

A tablespoon serving of peanut butter contains 7 grams of protein. Your body uses the amino acids found in protein to build and repair muscle tissue. In addition to building metabolism-boosting muscles, protein-rich foods like peanut butter keep you feeling fuller for longer. The protein in peanuts, like other plant proteins, contains an incomplete set of amino acids.

Healthy Fats

The poly- and monounsaturated fats in the spread lower your risk of developing heart disease by reducing the amount of harmful cholesterol in your bloodstream, & also prevent type 2 diabetes. Each 2-tablespoon serving contains 16 grams of total fat, including 7.4 grams of monounsaturated fat and 4.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat.

Potassium

Excess sodium in your diet puts stress on your cardiovascular system, but potassium can counter the negative effects of sodium. It also helps your nerves function properly and aids in heart function. Peanut butter brands with added salt contain two times more potassium than sodium.

Fibre

A 2-tablespoon serving of peanut butter contains about 2 grams of dietary fiber. While not the most fiber-rich of foods, peanut butter can help supplement your fiber intake from other foods. Fiber helps regulate your digestive system by promoting healthy bowel movements, and, like protein, fiber keeps your hunger at bay between meals. The fiber in peanut butter also fights heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Just make sure you buy a good quality peanut butter. I personally love whole earth crunchy peanut butter & / or advise you buy another organic brand as many cheaper brands remove a lot of the goodness & add a lot of sugar.

17 Aug

Green Tea Benefits

 

 

 

Aside from water, coffee and tea are likely the two most commonly consumed beverages in the world, & both have deep traditions in many countries. The United States was arguably more of a coffee drinking nation for most of the 20th century, but there are now many other tasty options that are largely mainstream, including green tea. The main benefits of switching from coffee to green tea are related to caffeine content, acidity and antioxidants.

Less Caffeine

One of the main reasons why people are so habitual with their coffee and tea drinking is the addictive properties of caffeine. Caffeine doesn’t actually increase energy levels — although adding sugar or milk to beverages can but it does increase brain activity by triggering more neurons to fire. The result is higher cognition and a greater degree of alertness. The downside is that caffeine is addictive and can lead to headaches, restlessness, anxiety and insomnia. Many studies say 500 milligrams per day is typically considered the maximum amount that adults should consume. Caffeine in coffee varies widely, but a typical cup can contain up to 200 milligrams. In contrast, the same amount of green tea usually contains less than 40 milligrams of caffeine. Green tea also contains L-theanine, an amino acid that seems to reduce some of the negative effects of caffeine.

Less Acidity

While the caffeine in coffee can make you feel jittery, its relatively high acidity can lead to stomach upset and abdominal pain. Coffee contains a variety of acidic and bitter compounds, such as chlorogenic acids, aliphatic acids and tannins. The pH level of coffee hovers around 5 — lower pH values are more acidic, whereas green tea typically has a pH level greater than 7, which means it is alkaline. Aside from its acidity, there are other compounds in coffee that can cause gastrointestinal irritation and loose bowels. While not everyone reacts positively to green tea, alkaline beverages are usually easier on the stomach compared to acidic ones such as coffee.

More Antioxidants

Both coffee beans and tea leaves contain beneficial antioxidants, but most varieties of green tea contain more antioxidants than ground coffee contains. Antioxidants are especially important for cardiovascular health because they destroy harmful free radicals and protect tissues, including blood vessels. The most potent antioxidant in green tea is called EGCG, which is a type of polyphenol that may also protect against certain types of cancer.

Other Benefits

There are many other benefits related to giving up coffee for green tea, including fresher breath, increased metabolic rate, enhanced fat burning, boosted immunity, improved memory, better blood flow to the brain, reduced risk of numerous diseases and less pain from inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.

09 Aug

Low Calorie Turkey Burger

 

This turkey burger delivers a pleasing combination of fresh flavours & is a lower calorie option than a standard burger & its very quick to prepare.

Ingredients:

500g Lean turkey mince

1 Tomato sliced

2 tbsp Salsa

1 tbsp Garlic , minced

1 tbsp Olive oil

8 Slices of cucumber

4 Gluten free buns ( you may use what ever bun you wish)

Prepeartion: 

Combine ground turkey, tomato, salsa & garlic.

Once ingredients are well combined, form into patties.

Heat olive oil in a frying pan on a  medium heat.

Cook patties for 4-5 minutes per side or until done.

Remove from pan & lay on top of bun. Layer with cucumber.You may wish to add condiments & buns are optional.

Per serving with bun:

Calories:  388

Carbs : 36g

Fat : 8g

Protein: 39g