Why Everyone Should Meditate

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard something about meditation (or maybe you’ve been meditating whilst under said rock), it’s never been so main stream. It’s no longer thought of as something mystical, performed by monks living high up in the mountains of the Far East, seeking transcendence to another plane of existence.

Nope it’s much simpler and easier and all the benefits can be had by anyone and everyone, no mountain or transcendence required.

So what exactly does meditation do and how do you meditate?

Well research has found regular meditation provides many of the same benefits as sleep, which is staggering really, considering all the benefits of sleep and the fact that, without sleep you die lol.

You are obviously not gonna die if you don’t meditate, at least not directly anyway. It can certainly improve your quality of life though.

I’ve listed below some of the benefits of regular meditation:

• Improved sleep quality. This is a HUGE biggy.
• Decrease in the amount of sleep you need, because of the above. Yep another biggy.
• Decrease in stress response, basically you won’t get stressed out as easily, and when you do become stressed, you get over it much quicker.
• Increase tolerance to stress, you won’t fall to pieces as easily, you can actually use the stress response to your advantage, as it was intended, giving you more energy and focus.
• Improved ability to concentrate and think creatively.
• Increased memory and ability to learn.
• Decreased instance of depression, due to improved natural brain chemistry.
• Improved testosterone to cortisol ratios.
• Improved weight management via improved hunger / satiety hormone ratios.
• Improved weight management via insulin sensitivity regulation, nutrient partitioning and use of energy. I.e. less energy is dumped in fat cells, instead being stored as muscle glycogen.
• Improved sex drive.
• Improved mood and motivation.
• Improved recovery ability from intense mental and physical activity / training.
• Increased potential to build muscle, due to several of the above.

Basically the list goes on and on. If mediation was a supplement, everyone would be taking it, it’s that beneficial to just about everyone.

Now the good news is, it’s not hard to do, not any more. You don’t have try and force your body, into a painfully contorted yoga position and repeat some weird little mantra over and over, whilst trying to force your mind to go blank. Yeah that’s just a load of bollocks for the average westerner.

Instead you have a few different options; such as mobile apps like ‘my headspace’, which is a series of guided meditations, that are so easy to use and just about anyone will be able to get on with it.

You simply sit or lie comfortably in a quiet, dark place and listen to instructions such as, focusing on your breathing and different senses, then just relaxing and not focusing at all etc.

Or even easier than that, is the binaural beats technology, which utilises different frequencies of sound in each ear (you need stereo headphones for this).

The different frequencies actually change the brain waves, changing your state to something very close to the state, only a master of classical mediation can achieve, after a lifetime of devoted practise.

While some of these claims may actually be exaggerated, ‘companies trying to market their product’, it is clear that binaural beats are a fairly easy way to obtain the benefits of meditation.

One slightly more challenging form of meditation is the ‘Wim Hoff Method’, a breathing method, combined with cold exposure and exercise. Wim Hoff is an extraordinary individual, who has been able to tap into and gain some control over his central nervous system, to enable him to achieve many remarkable feats with cold exposure, endurance endeavours and actually fighting off viruses with his technique. His complete method is beyond the scope of this blog post, however his breathing technique is a form of meditation.

He uses a controlled breathing technique involving taking a number of very deep breaths, followed by exhaling all your air and holding for as long as comfortable, then taking one deep breath, holding briefly again, then repeating the process for a few rounds.

Many followers of the Wim Hoff method, have reported feeling like they have reached higher states of consciousness using the breathing technique and have cured old injuries when combing with the cold water exposure. This method is obviously quite extreme and I would advise caution, to anyone thinking of trying it out, do your research and speak with your doctor.

To sum this post up, there are loads of really easy ways to get into meditation, things like ‘my head space’ and similar apps are a great place for the newbie to start, if you don’t want to commit to subscribing to a paid service, have a look on Google or YouTube, get a freebie and have a go. Personally I like to use a few methods, although 10 minutes a day of ‘my head space’ always works a treat, so give it a go, you won’t be disappointed.

Failure to Plan, is Planning to Fail

If you train and you want to get anywhere, if you want to get the most bang for your buck, the best return for your efforts, then you really should have a plan in place, a plan that is individual to you, one that reflects your goals, where you are now and where you want to be and any road blocks that need to be overcome.

In the world of strength & conditioning a good coach will use a needs analysis, this will encompass a detailed analysis of the sport and the individual physical requirements of each athletes role, a thorough analysis of an athletes movement competency, a sports specific performance analysis, looking for an athletes strengths and weaknesses and finally the goals of an individual athlete.

This detailed needs analysis, provides the coach with a great starting point, giving vital information on exactly where an athlete needs to be, where they are now and any weaknesses that need to be addressed.

A plan is then created to systematically fix any holes in an athletes performance, giving them the best chance to operate at their absolute best.

Even if you aren’t an athlete and don’t compete in anything, if you are training, you are doing so for a reason, you are trying to achieve something, even if you think it’s just to get a bit ‘fitter and healthier’.

Give yourself the best chance at success, really think about what it is you want to achieve, what goals you hope to reach with your training.

Then when you figure out where you want to go, where you want to get to, work out where you are now and what you have to do to bridge the gap, what obstacles need to be overcome. What needs to be done.

If you can’t figure that out, find yourself a good coach, let them help you build a plan and get you on the right track, overcoming obstacles and ticking off goals.

If you work hard, make sure you work smart. Make sure you have a plan!

Stop deadlifting with a rounded low back!

There has been a huge surge in popularity of barbell training recently, in particular deadlifts and all its variations, partly due to the ever growing interest in sports such as powerlifting, weightlifting and CrossFit.

Deadlifts and the other barbell lifts, have been around for a very long time and whether they are in vogue or not, done correctly, they can have massive benefits on almost anyone’s health, fitness and performance.

The big problem is, the number of gym goers and sadly even personal trainers massacring the deadlift and its variations, hell no, the problem is they are massacring theirs and their client’s low backs.

For simplicity I will refer to all variations of the deadlift, simply as the deadlift.

For reference, this includes:

Conventional deadlifts
Sumo deadlifts
Romanian deadlifts
Rack pulls
Good mornings (not technically a deadlift, but it is a hip hinge, so the same rules apply)
Block pulls and deficit deadlifts
Stiff leg deadlifts

Let’s set one thing straight, the deadlift is a very technical and systemically demanding exercise, it may appear to be just bending over and picking up the bar, however the degree of mobility, flexibility, stability and coordination coupled with the potential for injury, makes correct technique with a deadlift absolutely paramount.

Listen I have been deadlifting for well over 20 years and I have had the misfortune of injuring my back and guess what, it was solely due to a breakdown in technique.

While there are several ways a deadlift can be totally screwed up, I’m going to focus on one major point, the one which has the potential to be the most disastrous. Rounding of the low back.

So why is it so important to not ‘round the low back’, when deadlifting?

Well it’s primarily to do with loading the lumber spine. The deadlift is a hip hinge movement, the gluteus and hamstrings are prime movers when hip hinging, however, as the load is in front of the body and you are hinging forward from the hips, notice how I said hinging and not bending, more on that later, all that load goes through the lumbar spine. As the deadlift is most often used to build strength, those loads can be very high. Loading the lumbar spine with heavy loads, isn’t usually a problem, IF the vertebrae are in correct alignment. Think neutral spine or flat back or whatever cue tells you to maintain a slight extension through the lumbar spine and not allow any flexion throughout the lift.

If you allow your lower back to round (flexion) while deadlifting a heavy weight, your lumbar discs are subjected to massive compressive shear forces and your risk of disc injury sky rockets. Not only that, but you are also subjecting the muscles, tendons and ligaments (soft tissues) of the low back, to massive loads in a stretched position, which if you weren’t already aware, is the easiest way to sprain, strain or outright tear those soft tissues.

That’s two massive kicks in the balls right there, for your lower back. If you continue to lift like this, it’s not a case of if you get injured, it’s a case of when and how badly.

If this is you, then you absolutely must stop lifting heavy until your technique has been fixed. If you’re a trainer, then it’s your professional duty to understand how to deadlift with correct technique and how to coach your clients to lift correctly.
Don’t jump the gun with deadlifts, learn the proper form and technique, then you can test your strength. DO NOT DO IT THE OTHER WAY AROUND.

So the next time you hit the gym for some deadlifting, make sure you learn how to set your low back tight, maintain a neutral spine, brace your core (this means the abs and low back muscles keep the spine ridged and don’t flex or extend, they just stay tense and tight) and lift with the hips, legs and whole body, hinging at the hips and not just trying to lift with a rounded back so contorted, it gives you a one way ticket to snap city.

Diet Confusion

The fitness industry can be a veritable mine field for the average person and the diet side of things is no exception. With so many ‘experts’ claiming their way is the best way and so many vastly different approaches, to something that comes naturally to almost every other animal on the planet, except human beings. It’s no wonder people are getting confused about their diet.

Some of the most prominent approaches to diet are; IIFYM (if it fits your macros) and flexible dieting that focus on macro-nutrient ratios and or tracking calories, keto and other versions of low carb diets, IF (intermittent fasting) of various lengths and frequency, vegan and vegetarian diets, paleo and other caveman type diets, clean eating and various forms of carb cycling.

Each and every one of the above approaches has research backing it up, ‘experts’ promoting it and plenty of results and successes from people using them. All of the above approaches also get a bashing from devotees of the other diet methods, often with studies proving why their diet works and others do not.

The truth is, all of the above approaches to diet are not based on ‘hard, proven, beyond any reasonable scientific doubt, facts. They are all based on theory. This is something everyone needs to be aware of, too many of us read something and take it as gospel. Have an open mind and be aware of the differences between facts and theories.

Looking at all of the above approaches, they can all work, they all have an element of truth to the method, but they won’t all work with everybody.

Do you need to count calories? In my opinion no you don’t, but it can be highly effective, as the end of the day, prolonged excessive calorie intake is what drives weigh gain, no matter the style of diet you choose to follow.

Many of the keto and low carb enthusiasts believe fat accumulation is driven by elevated insulin levels, due to too many carbs too often. They are ‘sort of’, right to a degree, chronically elevated insulin is seriously bad news, not only does it turn off fat mobilisation and increase fat storage, it can also lead to insulin resistance and then diabetes. However, even if you ate no carbs at all, but your daily calorie intake was the same as, say, former world’s strongest man Eddie Hall, you are going to gain weight. It’s not all about insulin and carbs are not evil.

The same could be said about a flexible approach, If you want a lean muscular physique, even if you stick to your calculated calorie needs and lift weights, but eat like a jerk, getting the majority of your calories from garbage sugary carbs, with chronically low protein intake intake, there is a very good chance that you will eventually lose lean muscle and even potentially gain some body fat, even if your scale weight stays the same. Calories are king, but nutrients do matter, a lot.

Intermittent fasting can work great too, but not if you keep going way over your calories needs, in your daily ‘feeding window’.

The truth is, they all have pros and cons and differing approaches will work for differently for different people. Personally I used to prefer to cut carbs when I wanted to lose fat, I hated counting calories.

When I was on ‘low carbs’, I liked to have a ‘cheat day, which is basically a carb refeed day, but I wouldn’t restrict any food, if I wanted pizza and ice cream, I’d have it. I used this as a mental break and meant I could have a social life, try having friends if all you eat is chicken and broccoli.

This was an approach I used for a long time, it did help me get learner, whenever I used it. However, I almost always lost some muscle and strength, along with the fat. The bottom line is, even though I pigged out on a cheat day, my weekly calorie deficit was probably too large and even though my protein was high, the lack of carbohydrates effected my gym performance, meaning I couldn’t train at the right intensity to maintain my muscle mass.

I used to believe, high carb sugary foods brought out the glutton in me and a IIFYM approach didn’t  work very well for me, I thought, ‘I can’t just eat one slice of pizza, I have to eat the whole thing, just like I can’t stop at one snickers ice cream bar, I’m doomed into eating the whole box or boxes.

Well these days, I tend to hover somewhere between, tracking, fasting, IIFYM and ‘clean eating’, (I should really say, eating whole, nutrient dense foods, processed foods aren’t dirty, they just tend to have more calories and less nutrients). I eat a combination of what I like and need, keeping an eye on my daily calories, protein, carbs and fats, eating plenty of quality nutrient dense foods, along with a little something of what I like on most days.

So let me wrap this up by saying; keep an open mind, don’t take any one fat loss method, as cold hard fact, look at all the methods available to you, the pros and cons of each and what would suit your tastes and lifestyle. Then when you think you’ve found the best fit for you, stick to it for at least 2 months, track your progress, take note of how you feel, if it’s working and you don’t hate it, you are on to a winner, keep it up, make it a lifestyle, not just an 8 week experiment. However, if you aren’t progressing and you hate it, then it’s likely not the approach for you, but from this experience you will probably figure out what approach would fit you better. When you do, get on it and stick with it.

Weight Loss or Fat Loss?

The problem with many diets is that they focus on weight loss, what the scales say, instead of fat loss. This a BIG problem, much of the weight loss on conventional diets, think diet clubs, is water weight and lean muscle. Losing lean muscle will make you smaller, but you will still be fat. Ever heard the term skinny fat? This is when a person is small or slim, but still carries a fair amount of fat, often in the form of cellulite. This is just as undesirable and unhealthy as simply being fat.

When you only focus on scale weight, you can lose muscle mass, ‘so what’, you say, well losing muscle mass lowers your metabolism, making it even harder to lose more weight. Losing muscle makes you weaker, making working out for further weight loss even harder. Losing muscle doesn’t just make you weaker, it reduces your fitness as a whole. Losing muscle decreases your resting muscle tone, think firm abs and bum or toned legs, well kiss those goodbye. Losing muscle decreases your insulin sensitivity, meaning more of the carbs you eat are stored as body-fat instead of muscle glycogen. Losing muscle means you can’t eat as much, because of your lowered metabolism.

You get the picture, we don’t want to lose muscle; we only want to lose fat. So don’t rely too heavily on scale weight, get your body fat measured or simply track your own progress with photos and pinch testing, you can see and feel when the fat comes off. The scales may say you’ve only lost a couple of pounds recently, but you may have gained a couple of pounds of lean muscle, so your fat loss is actually double what you think. You can see the difference in the mirror, you can feel the difference, but when the scales tell you it’s only two pounds, you are disheartened. So focus on fat loss, not weight loss, train and eat to be toned and lean, not skinny fat.

To prevent muscle loss when dieting, a few rules need to be followed:

• Make sure you are eating enough protein. Lack of which when dieting, leads to your body breaking down muscle to release amino acids for energy conversion, or for tissue repair elsewhere. A good starting point for your protein intake is between 0.8 and 1.2 grams per pound of body-weight. The more active you are and the harder you train, shoot for the higher end. This should help prevent your body cannibalising its own lean muscle.

• Don’t drop your calories too severely, starving yourself may help you drop weight initially and fairly quickly, but your body will adapt just as fast, slowing processes down to conserve energy. A deficit of around 500 calories per day, is generally accepted as a safe and effective deficit for losing fat.

• If you are going the low carb route, make sure you up the fats, to provide you enough energy, otherwise your body will be forced to convert proteins into glucose to meet energy demands, then you are in danger of lacking sufficient protein to maintain lean muscle.

• Lift big weights. Using light weights for high reps will not ‘burn body fat’, as so many people seem to think. You are more likely to lose strength and size and just build up muscular endurance. Remember we want to maintain lean muscle and to do so, you need to lift heavy, stick to compound lifts and use sufficient volume.

This is by no means a comprehensive ‘how to guide’, for losing fat and maintaining muscle, I simply wrote this blog post to make people aware of the differences in general weight loss and fat loss and why it is important to focus on the later.

For more information on how to lose body fat, check out my ‘losing stubborn belly fat report’ on the warrior fit site.

De – loading for Size & Strength

Unless you are in the complete beginner phase or have a little ‘chemical assistance’ with your training, training gains are not linier and even the two afore mentioned groups will undoubtedly hit plateaus. You cannot simply add more weight to the bar continually; size and strength gains come in waves. You will have periods where you can’t do anything wrong, your strength goes up and you are getting bigger, but unfortunately, you will inevitably hit those dreaded plateaus, where you seem stuck on the same weights week after week and the tape measure just wont budge.

So what’s the answer? Do we simply grind away with the same weights and the same exercises hoping for the occasional ‘good day’, where we are able to up the weight a little? No, absolutely not, while hard work is crucial for making gains, simply training as hard as you can with the same exercises continually, will lead to stagnation, plateaus, injury and not just lack of gains, you will eventually become weaker due to the laws of accommodation; the more your body adapts to a given stimulus (a particular exercise), the more efficient it becomes and the less it needs to change, ie get bigger or stronger and eventually you will be able to perform the same task with less effort, meaning you may even lose some of the gains you initially made.

The good news is we can influence those progress waves, ensuring steady and continual progress. Now this assumes that your diet and recover programme is dialled in perfectly, if you are a natural bodybuilder or strength athlete, less than optimal diet and recovery and your progress is going nowhere.

This is where de-loading a programme comes into play. By specifically decreasing the weight on the bar and slowly ramping back up over several training sessions, you can increase the weight you could handle before the de-load.

Two mechanisms come into play here; firstly, strategically lowering the intensity (weight or load), you allow the CNS (central nervous system) to recover. If the CNS is chronically overloaded, as in pushing every set to failure, workout after workout, it actually dials down the amount of force your muscles can produce in an attempt to try and recover. You then enter a state of overreaching as performance goes down, soreness increases and motivation dips. If this state is allowed to continue, you can end up being over trained, this is serious, real over training can takes months to recover from, however it is a difficult state to push yourself to, most who think they have over trained have merely entered the state of overreaching.

Secondly, because you are ramping up the weights session by session, you gain strength, even though the weights are sub-maximal, contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to train to failure to trigger gains, you simply need progressive overload and this can be done in waves. Training this way, you initially de-condition your muscles, by lifting lighter weights, this is only slight however and you start to gain session by session after this until you reach a new peak and then begin the whole cycle again.

This practise is periodization in its most basic form and just about every athlete in every sport, at elite level uses some form of periodization. It’s simply a way to cycle training to reach a peak.

Here is an example of how to structure de-loads into your training programme. We will use the squat as our example. You’ve been squatting 2 x a week and your 10RM is 100kg. Up until now, you’ve done 3 sets of 10 to failure.

It is very possible to add 5kg or more to this lift, over a 3 week cycle.

To do this we would work backward from the target of 105kg, 5kg each training session.

This is how it looks:

————-Day 1——— Day 2

Week 1)–80kg x 10—-85kg x 10

Week 2)–90kg x 10—-95kg x 10

Week 3)–100kg x 10—105kg x 10

Only the last session on week 3 is taken to failure, which minimises CNS fatigue, meaning you will feel good lifting the lighter loads at the start of a cycle and actually feel stronger session by session, instead of burnt out.

It is possible to increase your lifts massively using the method. Granted your progress will slow down at some point, but not before you have dramatically increased your strength and growth potential.

This method also allows you to improve technique, as you’re not always using maximal loads, reducing the risk of injury and keeping motivation higher.

If you are feeling burnt out and stuck with your training, get de-loading and ramping up and see your gains sky rocket.

Lack of Sleep Will Make You Fat

Not getting enough sleep good quality sleep, does far more than just make you feel tired and grumpy. It negatively affects you in just about every way you can think of, including massively hindering your fat loss efforts.

There are several ways in which, not having had enough sleep screws with your ability to lose body fat.

1. Your metabolism slows down, meaning you burn less calories, no matter what you do.

2. Your insulin sensitivity decreases, meaning more of the carbs you eat will be stored as body fat.

3. Your body craves carbohydrates, which obviously coupled with a decrease in insulin sensitivity is a disaster. More of the carbs you eat gets turned to fat and your body is literally begging you to eat more carbs.

4. Your energy levels plummet, leaving you far less able and willing to be physically active.

5. Your nervous system activity is dialled down, meaning even if you have the will power to work out, despite feeling like crap, you won’t physically be able to work as hard as if you had slept well. Nervous system activity is directly in control of how hard and how frequently you can contract your muscles. Put simply your strength and endurance both decrease.

6. Cortisol levels increase, which can increase abdominal fat storage and lean muscle break down. A pretty nasty double whammy for anyone wanting to be lean, strong and healthy.

The answer is simple, make a good night’s sleep an absolute number one priority for health and fitness. Pretty much every single area of your life will improve, if you get into the habit of sleeping better.

The Key to Successful Goal Setting

Pretty much all worthwhile accomplishments start with a goal or even a dream. Goal setting is quite simply, essential to your success, otherwise what is your driving force, what is your motivation, what are you actually working for!?

But to make goal setting a powerful ally in whatever you are trying to achieve, instead of just some vague idea, we need to look at smart goal setting. Now that’s not some bull crap acronym such as Specific, Manageable, Achievable, Realistic and Targeted. Those kind of acronyms are useless in my opinion, they’re just fluff thrown at you on seminars and workshops, to make the content sound more intelligent. What I mean, is simply being a little smarter with your goal setting, having a workable plan with targets, time frames and a plan of action.

There are two opposing schools of thought when it comes to goal setting; the ‘dream big, think big’ goal setting and the ‘realistic’ goal setters. Both have their pros and cons and used independently of one another, as they most often are, greatly diminishes their effectiveness.

Combining the two philosophies in a well-structured and planned way is the key to successful goal setting.

I will use myself as an example; I want to deadlift 300kg, at the moment I can pull around 200kg, so this is a pretty big goal, factor in my age, my genetics and my training experience and my goal is far from what would be considered realistic.

It is a huge motivator, I will need to be seriously strong to achieve this lift, but if I focused solely on this single target, I would be setting myself up for a lot of failure and disappointment, it is going to take considerable time and consistent effort to reach this goal. All that disappointment can take its toll, self-belief is shaken and motivation fades, ever increasing my risk of giving up.

This is where the ‘realistic’ goals come in, by breaking down the ‘dream big’ goal into smaller goals, with a workable plan and a deadline to achieve them, such as; increasing my deadlift by 5kg in one month, 30kg in six months, 60kg in twelve months and so on, I am now able to work on a relatively small goal, within a set time frame, whilst keeping one eye on the ‘dream big’ long term goal.

The ‘dream big’ goal gives me the desire to get my arse in the gym, to take action in the first place, the small ‘realistic’ goals keep me motivated and confident, as I continue to make steady progress, ticking off little goals as I march towards the big goal.

Using the approach to goal setting will give you the desire of a big change, the big result, whilst slowly building your confidence and keeping you motivated with the small victories and successes.

What do you want to achieve? Get smart with your goal setting for success.

Why Traditional Road-work is a Waste of Time for Fighters

Running for miles at a steady pace to ‘get your legs’, is one of the dumbest old school methods for conditioning fighters and crazily some fighters are still doing it, particularly boxers. Those very same fighters are told not to lift weights, as this will make them slow and bulky. So they end up coming to the ring conditioned more like a long distance runner, highly conditioned for endurance, but sorely lacking strength, power and even maximal speed. Why would any coach want to send their fighter to the ring lacking these essential attributes? The mind boggles.

How do I know this? I’ve experienced it first hand from 8 years boxing in the amateur ranks, having coaches make me run for miles and miles and constantly on my back about my desire to lift weights to gain strength. To me being stronger than my opponents was an obvious advantage, to my coaches weight training was some kind of terrible curse for a fighter.

To understand the type of conditioning a fighter needs we need to break down the demands of a typical fight. If we use boxers as an example we have amateur boxers and professional boxers, an amateur bout will typically be 3 or 4 rounds of 2 minutes with 1 minute rest intervals between rounds, a professional fight ranges between 6 and 12 rounds, depending on the level of the fight, and has rounds of 3 minutes duration with 1 minute rest intervals. The most immediate thing that jumps off the page, is that boxing is done in intervals. If we break it down even further, a fighter will typically be constantly on the move, but due to economy of movement and a high level of skill, this movement will be of a low intensity, they will then have sporadic bursts of high intensity action as they get in range and fire off a burst of punches. The better condition a fighter is in, the more frequent these bursts will be, along with the ability to put more power shots in the combinations whilst maintaining a high level of speed. Obviously individual style plays a huge role, but the better a fighters condition, the higher the work rate will be.

So when we break down an actual round, we see the interval pattern emerge even greater, albeit in an unregulated fashion. So it’s safe to say that the physical demands of a boxing match are very similar to very high intensity interval training. So those daily 5 mile (and that’s the distance I did as an amateur) runs are virtually useless. You wouldn’t condition a 100m sprinter with 1500m runs, which is akin to a boxer doing those long runs.

Here’s the sciency bit: When a boxer is engaged in throwing punches or quickly slipping and rolling (avoiding punches), he/she is engaged in an anaerobic level of physical activity, anaerobic simply means without oxygen, they are working at such a high level, the body can’t effectively burn oxygen fast enough for fuel, so glucose is used as the body switches from the low level aerobic energy system to the glycolytic (short term, high level activity) and the ATP-CP (very short term, maximal level activity), high level anaerobic energy systems. Now the big problem with the long runs is they do not develop the capacity to work in the glycolytic and ATP-CP energy systems, in fact with high volumes of aerobic work, the ATP-CP capacity actually decreases, resulting in loss of speed and power!

Will a fighter gas out if they only train in the glycolytic and ATP-CP energy systems, the answer is a resounding no! the good news is working hard on improving capacity in these energy systems will actually drag endurance up with them, this happens due to a raising of the anaerobic threshold, basically the fitter you become anaerobically, the harder you can work before the switch to the anaerobic pathways, so when a fighter is cruising between bursts of high intensity activity they are able to do so more efficiently. Also the more emphasis on anaerobic conditioning, the faster a fighter is able to recover from the bursts of throwing fast powerful combinations.

So what does this mean for conditioning fighters; it means the long slow road work needs to be replaced with high intensity interval training to develop glycolytic capacity and maximal sprints, maximum effort strength and dynamic effort power training to develop the ATP-CP pathways. Some steady state type cardio can still be included, but it isn’t the main emphasis, it is used as active recovery between the more intense conditioning sessions. Changing training emphasis like this will build stronger, faster, more explosive fighters who still have the conditioning to go the distance, but as a more complete and dangerous fighter.

There’s an old saying in boxing, ‘train hard, fight easy’, while not far off the mark a better saying would be ‘train hard, train smart, fight easy’.

Breakfast: The Most Important Meal of the Day

Ditch the traditional breakfast and start thinking outside the (cereal) box.

We’ve all heard how breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet for most people it is either the worst, most nutritionally devoid meal of the day or its skipped altogether. This is a terrible start to your day, your mood, your energy levels and your fat burning capability.

One of the most common questions I get from clients concerning nutrition is, what to eat for breakfast, people really struggle with getting a good breakfast without eating the same thing every day.

There two problems people face when trying to crack the breakfast code. The good news is neither of them are that hard to overcome. Problem number one is being stuck in this traditional mind-set that we can only eat certain foods for breakfast, some of the responses I get from clients when I tell them they can eat chicken or steak for breakfast are priceless, you’d think id committed heresy, but the thing is, tradition has nothing to do with what your body actually needs and behind those traditions are industries trying to influence and make money from you. The grain (cereal) and dairy industries anyone?

There is a mountain of evidence that supports the fact that human beings have not evolved to eat grains, and do you really think we should be drinking another animal’s milk? Probably not. It’s all about money, the grain and dairy industries are absolutely massive and worth billions. They have worked tirelessly for years to create a belief in the general public that cereal, milk and toast along with your morning cuppa is the perfect start to the day. Ladies and gents, it’s time to ditch that belief.

Problem number two ties in with the reason many of us actually skip breakfast all together, lack of time. In our fast paced, sleep deprived modern society many of us drag ourselves from our beds with barely enough time to shower and get dressed before we rush off to work.

My response is quite sharp, make time! Go to bed earlier and get up earlier, late night TV isn’t more important than your health. The fact you feel you need to stay up late and have some ‘me time’, watching crap on TV is down to the fact that you are tired and pissed off all day. Getting into the habit of sleeping better and eating a good breakfast will do wonders for your health and how you feel on a daily basis, you will actually start to enjoy your days and no longer feel the need to stay up late watching TV every night to unwind.

So what kind of things can you eat for breakfast I hear you say? Well as this is a fat loss tip, our choices of breakfast will be high in protein and fat and low in carbohydrates, because we all know we need to eat fat to lose fat and limit carbs to prevent fat gain, and of course protein is a given as the most important macro.

The 5 breakfast ideas below all take less than 20 minutes to prepare, cook and eat.

1. The meat & nuts breakfast. This one has been popularised by world leading strength coach, Charles Poliquin and rightly so, it will provide all the nutrients you need to get the best start to your day. Try a piece of ribeye steak about the size of your palm, lightly seasoned with sea salt and cracked black pepper, pan fried for a few minutes (I like mine rare) in coconut oil, let it stand for a couple of minutes and serve with 3 or 4 cherry tomatoes and a handful of almonds.

2. Boiled eggs with asparagus soldiers. Take 3 asparagus spears, lightly season them with sea salt and black pepper, wrap them in baking paper and grill on a grilling machine al la George Foreman style, for a few minutes. Whilst they are grilling, soft boil your eggs. Voila!

3. Chicken kebabs. I prefer to prepare these the night before, but it only takes about 5 minutes. Take a diced chicken breast, some cherry tomatoes, some closed cup button mushrooms, a chopped red bell pepper and half a chopped red onion (chop the pepper and onion into little chunks). Using 3 or 4 wooden skewers, make up skewer kebabs with the chicken and assorted veg. either wrap in baking paper and grill on a George Forman of simply stick them under the grill, turning a couple of times. These will take around 10 minutes to cook and make a much more interesting breakfast than a bowl of frosties!

4. Ok so you sleep in and need something really quick! Take one blender, 2 scoops of whey protein powder, a handful of blueberries, a handful of brazil nuts, a table spoon of flax seeds and a handful of raw spinach, add water, blend and drink. Now tell me you haven’t got time!

5. Prawn omelette. Chop 3 tiger prawns, half a green bell pepper, dice a couple of button mushrooms add to a bowl with a sprinkle of grated organic cheese (yes cheese is processed, but remember the 80% rule), crack 2 or 3 organic eggs into the bowl, mix it up then fry on a medium heat in coconut oil for a few minutes. Super tasty and takes minutes to prepare and cook.

These are just 5 ideas that work great on any healthy fat loss plan, once you remove the ‘traditional breakfast’ blinkers you will be able to come up with loads of great breakfast ideas yourself. It’s time to start realising the reality that ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’.

About Nick

Nick has gained over 20 years’ experience and knowledge with successfully coaching numerous people in reaching their fitness goals, a background in amateur boxing, competing at club and championship level. He currently competes in powerlifting and has a passion for all things strength, health and performance that spans nearly 30 years. And with a commitment to continual development as a coach and trainer, with influences such as; Dr Aaron Horschig (squat university), Dr Layne Norton, Stefi Cohen, Wim Hof, Jordan Syatt, Eddie Coan, Jim Wendler, Mark Bell, Christian Thibaudeau and Omar Isuf to name a few. Nick strives to better not only himself, but all those he helps.

Phone: 07812 244550
Email: nick@warriorfitpt.com

Nick Jones – WARRIORFit

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Real Results

In my mind I knew what I was doing. I was a keen runner and studied A level PE in 1994. What could anyone teach me?

I have known Nick for over 20 years but it was not until Jan 2013 that I decided to listen and take his advice. Because I had run and studied exercise I never thought there was much anyone could do for me. How wrong could I have been? I needed to lose a stone at least and despite my running could not shift it. Within a week of providing my current diet Nick had sorted a new diet and exercise plan to cut the fat. That is where the story started. I stuck to his plan to the letter and saw the visual results within a month.

I could not believe how my fitness had increased too with what seemed to me not much time spent on cardio! HIIT was the way forward. Nick continued to develop and manage my goals throughout the year with simple yet effective and easy to follow training plans. His knowledge of training plans and how diet and the body work to achieve results is second to none.

His flexibility to adapt training plans to what I have wanted is also a plus. In January 2013 I wanted to go back to running and tried my 1st 10k race for a few years. As a result of his training plan I managed 6-minute miling and finished in the top 100 of a 1000 strong field.

If you are in need of a switch and looking for some professional advice on weight loss or training plans then I cannot recommend Nick highly enough.

If you are committed about training and think you are achieving your best I would urge you to think again and consult Nick to take you a step or two further.