Friday, 24 March 2017

Tying it all together

If you train in the gym, chances are you use an array of expensive machines that target specific muscle groups and small movements. Even if you use freeweights you’re likely doing specific, targeted exercises such as chest press or bicep curls.

This is all great (as long as you know why you’re doing that particular exercise of course).

All of these isolated movements though don’t necessarily tie together to make you move better.
Picture the big guys in the gym who train hard, get big, and move like a rusty robot.

For your body to move well, function well, and perform better both in sports and day to day life, your body needs to move as one complete unit. Smooth, fluid movements that cover all planes of motion (front to back, side to side, rotation). The more you can combine these planes of movement into one larger, full body movement, the more efficient and “functional” your body will become.

If you’re working around, rehabbing, or recovering from an injury, these isolated movements and machines are fantastic; or if you have muscle imbalances or weaknesses that need addressing, definitely target those muscle groups until they’re up to speed with the rest of your body.

These are also great for bodybuilding as you can really target specific muscle groups to make them grow.

If your goal is to feel better, move more freely, perform better at sports or daily tasks though, you need to train slightly differently. Either train solely in this manner if your goal is simply better movement, or if you’re a bodybuilder or targeting specific muscles for any other reason, you also need to include some training that integrates all of the strength you’ve gained from training muscles in isolation.

Isolate, then integrate.

Build strength in your chest, then integrate that strength into a full body pushing movement…
Build your quads (thighs) with a leg extension machine, then integrate that new strength into jumps, sprints, step-ups etc…

To do this, you need to use large, full body exercises/movements that use all of your muscles and joints together. Think about the difference between a bench press (lying down and pushing a weight up from your chest) and a push up (holding your entire bodyweight up, staying tight and straight through your legs, arms, neck,  core and back muscles… and then pushing your weight up whilst maintaining that tension through your body).

Bodyweight training is a great way to go. Move your entire body in as many different ways as possible. Think gymnastics… dance… martial arts… yoga etc.

If you’re not quite sure where to start or are looking for an exercise class that will get your whole body moving, build strength and endurance, power and stability, co-ordination and fitness, then may I introduce you to Animal Flow.

Animal Flow classes are all bodyweight, ground based “movements”. The aim is to master your bodyweight and move it in as many different ways as possible with strength, control, stability and fluidity.

You’ll learn various movements that strengthen your entire body and get it moving as one unit, then combine those movements into continuous “flows”. The key being control and fluid movement.

When you can move your body under control and have the strength to do so, everything you do will become easier whether it’s a sport or just getting in and out of the car.

For anyone from elite athletes to people who just want to get a bit fitter. Whether you run, gym, swim, fight, cycle, bodybuild or do yoga. You can benefit from Animal Flow.

Check out the Animal Flow page on my website for more information. Classes are Tuesdays, 7-8pm at The Brent School.

If you feel like your training needs something extra or like the more you exercise, the tighter and stiffer you get, come and try the class to start tying it all together. Build that new strength into powerful movements and create a strong body, not just strong muscles.

Whatever you do, start integrating your “exercises” into “movements”.

Monday, 13 February 2017

What to do next...

In order to establish a baseline, for the last week you should have been recording your food and drink intake. If you didn't, go to the previous blog post "Where to start with your new nutrition plan..."

Everything from your morning tea/coffee to the 3rd helping of cake and 2 bottles of wine you drank!

The aim of this exercise is to figure out how much you're actually consuming so we have a starting point to base any dietary changes off.

Without knowing this, there's no way to tell if you need to eat more, less, the same amount, whether you need to exercise more or less, or what other changes you might need to make.

So our next step is to establish some consistency.

Get a bit of routine in your eating and exercise and again, track your data.

Right now we're still not changing anything, just establishing consistency.

So for the next week, all I want you to do is this:

Repeat the last week's food intake.

Whether it was "good" or "bad", you have in front of you a menu of foods and drinks, that you like and choose to eat, and that should be easy for you to repeat.

Again, all we're aiming to do here is establish some consistency and routine. This is the starting point from which changes can be made. The assessment needed to know what step to take next.

Without this, any changes are pure guesswork and the chances of success are a lottery. You can follow what worked for someone else (i.e. a mainstream "diet"), but really - has that worked for you in the past?

So you have the next week's menu in front of you. Foods you've likely already got in the house or know where to buy. Foods you know how to cook/prepare already and probably foods that are easy for you to make and that you enjoy.

This is a diet plan that even you can't fail at.

Once you've begun to establish this baseline, simple changes can be made to get things moving in the right direction.

You may even find you lose weight just from doing this! (I won't let on why just yet, but don't be shocked if you see the scales some down a couple of notches!)

So unless there was a blowout of epic proportions on last week's food diary, simply repeat exactly what you ate/drank last week and see how you do.

Until next time...

Where to start with your new nutrition plan...

Most people try to jump right in with a complicated nutrition plan with no regard for where they're starting from.

What if you've been eating 1,000 calories a day and your weight loss plan tells you to eat 1,200? Has it accounted for your current nutritional habits? No.

Does your lean meal recipe adjust portion sizes dependent on your size, gender, goals (weight loss or weight gain), activity levels that day, or whether you've just worked out or had a rest day? No.

So why the hell would you think that this plan will work for you?!
...because the advertising tells you it will and there are some pictures of people who've lost weight on the front cover?!

Even your intricately :p calculated weight loss plan that asked for your weight, goals and activity levels can't accurately guess your energy/calorie needs.

You can find an online calorie calculator that will give you this "information" (if you can call it that) but in actuality it can't possibly get it right because we're not as simple as the calories in/calories out equation.

Whether calories get used for energy or stored depends on hormonal profiles, which energy systems are most efficient in your body, and a host of other things (not to mention that not all calories are equal - 100 calories from some avocado is NOT the same as 100 calories of biscuits!)

So your starting point should be this:

Establish a calorie baseline

Quite simply, record what you're eating and drinking (every single morsel of food and drink that passes your lips) and establish how much you're actually eating.

You won't be eating the same amount every day, and your weekly totals probably won't be too similar either.

It's natural, normal, and healthy to have fluctuations in calorie intake, but if you're fluctuating too much (i.e. starving yourself during the week and binging at the weekends) then you have no baseline to work off. No starting point for your "diet".

So your starting point, and homework for this next week is to simply record your food/drink intake in a food diary. Find out how much you're actually eating now (it's probably nowhere near what you think you're consuming!) and establish whether you're currently gaining weight, losing weight, or maintaining weight.

That's it. Don't change anything yet, don't worry about macros (protein/carbs/fat), don't worry about meal timings or meal frequency, just record and collect information. You don't have to do anything with it yet.

Take up this challenge and I'll be in touch again in a week to tell you what to do next.

If you're serious about making healthy changes to your diet, ditching the fads and gimmick diets, and getting control of your eating habits and weight once and for all, DO THIS.

Don't skip the easiest and most fundamental stage because you're impatient! A week or two establishing your starting point so you get it right is not time wasted!

Get things ready and start first thing in the morning. Log it on your phone, write it down, use an app - whatever suits you, but get it done.

In a week I'll tell you what to do next...

If you want help with your nutrition/diet, please get in touch or check out the Nutrition section of my website