Saturday, 13 August 2016

Train Like An Athlete; Triple Your Fat Loss

I'm As I write this, we are smack bang in the middle of the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Elite Athletes dominate our TV screens, and if you are like me and LOVE the Olympics, that TV is on in the background from dawn til dusk. I'm particularly proud of my 7 year old son, Alex, who has taken to the games incredibly well, opting to cheer on team GB rather than watch his usual Netflix or YouTube - instilling a lifelong habit of health & fitness starts from a young age after all.

Of course, the athletes currently on our TV screen are in excellent shape; not surprising seeing as they are the best in the world at what they do.

Whilst this does not apply to us everyday mortals or weekend warriors, I can assure you (having trained a selection of high level national & international level athletes over the past 10 years in a multitude of sports) that there are key concepts from their physical preparation that we can benefit greatly from. Combined with a solid nutritional set up, the following will improve performance & ramp up fat loss in no time.

1.) Treat the body as one piece
Unless injured, athletes don't enter the gym with a view to simply developing one particular body part or muscle group. Instead, the focus on developing specific fitness qualities as required by their sport.  Each session is a total body affair, teaching their body to work as a co-ordinated unit rather than a bunch of separate pieces. 

Your action plan: Simply put, this means you should push something, pull something & do something with your legs each workout.

2.) Train multiple fitness qualities simultaneously 
Tying in with the above, athletes will often train multiple fitness qualities every session (although emphasis may change depending on their competitive schedule). These will include strength, power, speed, mobility & possibly some conditioning work as well. Due to the demand of their sport specfifc training, they don't have the luxury of endless gym sessions per week, and so must cover all bases in 2-3 sessions per week max.

Your action plan: Aim to train a range of fitness qualities each session. Start your workout with some key mobility exercises, perform some jumps or medicine ball throws for power, lift some weights for strength & finish with a short burst of direct fitness work.

3.) Emphasise efficiency in the gym
Limited time availability per gym session means athletes have to strive for the maximum effect with minimal investment of time. This means sticking to big, basic exercises that hit multiple muscle groups at one time. Examples include cleans & snatches, squats, deadlifts, lunges, presses, rows & pull ups and loaded carries, all of which  provide the biggest return on time spent in the gym.

Your action plan: Be sure to base your strength work/lifting portion of your workout around variations of the above listed exercises. Do this & you won't go far wrong!


So there you have it - implement these 3 strategies into your training today to train like an athlete & triple your fat loss results. You won't be disappointed!

Monday, 8 August 2016

The Simple Solution to Your Fad Diet Habit

The UK diet industry is now reportedly worth over £2 billion, and is growing all the time.

It seems we are a nation obsessed with being thin, yet the majority of the adult population are overweight or obese.

Fad diets are a big part of this, with rebound weight gain almost guaranteed, along with lower levels of confidence & self-esteem as a result.

Stop the madness.

Fad diets DO. NOT. WORK.

There is even an argument that this is in fact the point of fad diets, as if you continually re-gain weight and get fatter overtime, the "diet guru's" can continue to sell you the latest diet again, year after year after year.

Forget fad diets.

Here is your solution:

There is no doubt that diet & nutrition is a confusing area for most, with many, many people promoting many, many different approaches.

Whilst approaches can differ however, there are certain "big rocks" that ALL approaches have & that should form the basis of your nutrition for general health & fitness.

These are:

1.) Eat breakfast
2.) Eat at least 3 meals per day
3.) Eat protein at every meal
4.) Consume fibre at every meal
5.) Take your fish oil capsules

Simply aim to do all of the above daily & don't worry about the rest, at least for now.

That's it. Add in some strength training & fitness work a couple times per week (ideally under the guidance of a coach) & you will be amazed at the difference it can make.

If you struggle with fat loss, simply refer back to this list & see how many your are actually doing on a daily basis. Until you get these down, don't even worry about anything else - the rest is just details.

You'll also notice an improvement in energy levels, recovery from workouts & reduced sugar cravings, amongst other benefits.

Really folks, it is THAT simple. 

No secrets, miracle formulas of magic shakes required.

Give it a shot & let us know how you get on!



Tuesday, 2 August 2016

The 3 Main Benefits of Strength Training for Fat Loss

Strength training forms a part of all our fat loss programmes here at Fighting Fit, along with mobility work, core training and conditioning / fitness work.

Fat loss is of course first and foremost a dietary issue more than a training one; something we are quick to educate all our clients on when they first join us. The old adage is true - you really can't out train a bad diet.

That being said, training is an important addition to the process for a whole host of reasons, including a range of benefits such as improved bone density to improved glucose tolerance, not to mention the benefits that just being stronger brings in general.

However, there are 3 main benefits to strength training for fat loss that the majority of our clients can appreciate and relate to. Check them out below, in no particular order:

1.) It Speeds The Process Up

Whilst diet is number 1 in the fat loss realm, strength training without doubt speeds the process up and make sit easier. This is due primarily to the effect strength training has on both short-term and long term metabolism.

Metabolic resistance training has been shown to elevate resting metabolic rate (RMR) for up to 36 hours post-workout in studies, which means your body is burning more energy for a day and a half after your gym session than it would do otherwise. Three to four strength training sessions a week and this adds up when it comes to establishing the necessary calorie deficit for effective fat loss.

Strength training also improves insulin sensitivity in muscle tissue, which means it can effectively manage insulin spikes better and also refer ingested carbohydrate into muscle tissue / glycogen rather than body fat.

In short, strength training helps you store less food as body fat and increases daily calorie expenditure at a far higher rate than other forms of exercise.

2.) It Changes Your Shape

This point is probably the easiest one for people to relate to.

Simply put, there are two types of superficial tissue than influence our appearance day to day - fat and muscle. Fat is formless - it just hangs there. Muscle, on the other hand provides shape, and results in the lean, toned look that 99% of people chase.

The idea of "gaining muscle" is a hard pill to swallow for a lot of women, who have images of some pumped up bodybuilder in their heads. Of course, this is not what we are after, and with a well designed fat loss programme that incorporates a little strength training, is not what we'll get.

The reality is that adding a few lbs of lean muscle to a female frame is the ONLY way to achieve the lean, toned, sleek look that they want. Fortunately, this is becoming more and more mainstream and more ladies are finally starting to appreciate how strength training will move them closer to the physique they desire.

Strength training allows you to alter your body composition, lift your glutes, tone your arms and sculpt your thighs in a way no other form of exercise can!

3.) It Helps Keep The Weight Off

The final main benefit we are going to discuss today is how strength training helps to maintain fat loss over time.

The chronic elevated metabolic rate that results from long term strength training essentially "raises the baseline" when it comes to daily calorie expenditure.

By elevating your metabolism long term, you expend more calories daily, which essentially means you can eat more food daily.

This is key when it comes to maintaining dietary practices that got you lean in the first place.

You cannot continue to eat less and less food over time as you get leaner and leaner. At some point, you have to find a balance where by you can continue to eat a reasonable amount of food whilst still maintaining your fat loss if your are to keep it off long term.

An increase is RMR long term (along with an adjusted palate and better food choices) is what allows you to do this, thus making your habits sustainable over time.


So there you have it - three of the many benefits of strength training for fat loss. Why on earth would you not strength train if you are not already doing so? Start today and you'll be impressed with the results I guarantee!

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Fitness, Fat Loss & Strength

The terms "fitness" & "fatloss" are usually very closely associated with one another. 

Exercise helps with fat loss, right? And by exercise, most people mean cardiovascular-based training, which results in people getting "fitter" as they undertake their fat loss journey.

But here's the thing: 

Fat loss & fitness are not related.

At all.

You see, fat loss is primarily driven by 1 underlying factor: creating an energy (calorie) deficit.

This is best achieved by a combination of:
1.) Reducing your kcal intake on a day-to-day basis 
2.) Increasing your kcal expenditure on a day to day basis

The diet side of things is not the focus of this article, so let's focus on point number two. The best way to achieve a higher day-to-day kcal expenditure over both the short & long term is to keep or slightly increase your lean muscle tissue. This can only be achieved with some type of progressive resistance training, which will also have the additional benefit of strengthening the entire body, improve fundamental, functional movement patterns & provide the highly desired shape that most people are after when they go on holiday and visit the beach.

Notice how we've yet to mention direct fitness work in this equation. It doesn't really have a place. I know plenty of fit people who carry huge amounts of excess weight (take a look at your local running club for proof) & I also know people who look great but have no endurance at all. 

Now, I'm not saying that fitness isn't important. To me, it's an essential part of the package; but primarily for it's health benefits & impact on day to day tasks - not it's effect on getting lean.

So what am I saying? I'm saying that your focus needs to be on what matters the most when it comes to fat loss.

Fitness is easy to develop. Undertake any type of fitness-based activity, and you'll see huge improvements in a short space of time - sure, it's hard at first, but performance will often improve 10 fold in just a couple of weeks.

Strengthening the body & improving dysfunctional movement patterns however isn't - it takes time. Muscle have to be forced to reawaken, learn how to fire correctly again in certain sequences & strengthened so that basic movement quality can be re-established. It just so happens that such a process also appears to impact calorie expenditure in much greater amounts that simply fitness based activity.

What all this means for you is this:

There is a hierarchy when it comes to training for fat loss.

Your first priority should be to strengthen the body & fix dysfunctional movement patterns via resistance training (as well as work on cosmetic trouble areas!). This will have the biggest impact on your resting metabolic rate AND fix things that need to be fixed.

THEN, you can add in select fitness work as appropriate for you. 

It's important, but not for getting lean. 

Remember this, as most people have it backwards. Don't let that be you!

Sunday, 10 April 2016

If I woke up 30lbs Overweight Tomorrow...

...this is what I'd do.

All of the methods below are taking from and form part of The Fighting Fit Methodology - time-proven principles that we have used to help hundreds of people to get in shape over the past 10 years.

Whichever method you choose, chances are that if successful, it will be based on certain key principles

This is my interpretation of these principles.

There are many ways to reach a destination, and all can work. The key is to find the one that works best for you, your lifestyle and your personal circumstances. Once you find it, take it and run with it. Too many people hop between different methods after just 2 weeks of half-hearted commitment before delcaring "it doesn't work" and then jumping on the next bandwagon. Unsurprisingly, these tend to be the same people who are still out of shape year after year.

Add to this all the different methods floating aroud the internet and social media, it's no wonder people suffer from ADD health and fitness-wise. What people need is clarity. So here's my cystal clear version of events.

So, if I woke up with an additional 30lbs of blubber strapped to my body, here's is the plan of action I would put in place staright away.

Goal Setting, Time Limits & Mindset

First of all, I'd get cyrstal clear about how much weight I wanted to lose and by when. I'd want to maintain as much muscle mass as possible during the "whale skin striping" and avoid re-bound weight gain, so I'd give myself a super-strict 16 week deadline to work with - no exceptions or cop outs. The deadline would be set in stone, providing me with enough "pressure" to ensure I stick to the plan. This avergaes about 2lbs of fat per week, which is a safe, well-established number that won't leave me with a ruined metabloism long term. It may be a little more per week during the intial stages, but I'd expect it to slow down once the first 15-20lbs had been shed, so it would all balance out in the long run.

I'd also take some rather unflattering pictures, take my scale weight and measurements on key areas of my body such as my waist, hips & chest and let a few close people (who I know would offer support) know about my goals - I wouldn't make it public or post it all over social media however.

Diet

If I was going to set a calorie intake target, I'd start at bodyweight in lbs x 15. I'm not a fan of counting calories for most (at least not until I deem it necessary), so instead I'd simply prescribe the following to start, and adjust it week to week based on my results:

  • 5 palm sized portions of lean protein-dense food per day
  • 5-8 fist sized portions of vegetables per day
  • 5 cupped handful sized portions of high fibre, low-sugar quality carb sources per day
  • 5 thumb sized portions of quality fat sources per day

On the days I did formal weight training in the gym, I would set it up like this:

  • Breakfast (1 portion each of protein/carbs/vegetables/fats)
  • Mid-morning (1 portion of protein/fat/vegetables)
  • TRAINING (always at lunch time)
  • Post-Workout (1 portion of protein & vegetables, 2-3 portions of carbs, minimal fats)
  • Mid-afternoon (1 portion of protein/vegetables/fats)
  • Evening Meal (1 portion of protein/vegetables/fats, 1-2 portions of carbs)
On the days I didn't do formal weight training, I'd use a modified method of intermittant fasting where I'd eat minimally throughout the day and save the lion's share of my daily calories for my evening meal, like this:

  • Breakfast (1 portion each of protein/carbs/vegetables/fats)
  • Lunch (1 portion of protein/carbs/vegetables/fast)
  • Mid-afternoon (1/2 portion each of protein/vegetables/fats - only if seriously hungry)
  • Evening Meal (2 and a half portions of protein/vegetables/fats, 3 portions of carbs)
This set up allows me to be socialable and still come in under my daily calorie limit. I have used it repeatedly during dieting phases in the past and it works really well. The key is to eat just enough throughout the day to keep the edge off your appetite. Most people seem to fail on diets as they consume too high a number of their daily calorie limit before dinner, and then fail to restrict themselves during what is traditionally the largest, most sociable meal of the day - hardly a surprise. The result is too many calories consumed and sabotaged results.

I have found the above set up to combat this well, on repeated occasions.

I'd allow myself 2-3 "treats" per week (small piece of chocolate, small dessert), but no full on "cheat meals" (entire pizzas etc) - these I would save for special occasions such as birthdays or weddings only. I'd also be sure to drink 2 litres of water per day and take my daily fish oil and multi-vitamin.

So long as I hit at least 2lbs of weight loss per week, I wouldn't change a thing. The goal is always to consume the highest amount of carbs and calories as possible whilst still seeing results. If I got to the stage where I went 1-2 weeks with no change, I'd first adjust my activity level (see below) before adjusting my caloric intake. When it came to adjusting my calories, I'd simply reduce my carb portion size down to 1/2 a portion at 2 meals per day and see where that took me. I'd then remove another 1/2 portion per week as required until thngs got moving again, never dropping below 2 full portions of carbs per day. If I had to go this low, this would be followed by a carb "re-feed" one day on the weekend to start, potentially dropping to once every 10-14 days if needed. Protein and fat intake would stay relatively consistent throughout.

Training

I'd start with 3 training sessions per week in the gym. These would all include a blend of strength work and metabolic conditioning work (alternatively, you could do 2 full-body strength-based sessions at the gym and then one interval session at home/outdoors if you can't get to the gym that often).

I'd alternate exercises back and forth to maximise density of work within a fixed time frame (45-60 mins), place an emphasis on strength work and include metabolic "finishers" at the end of each workout. I'd start with moderate loads and aim to add small increments of load each week to ensure progressive overload throughout the training cycle to minimise loss of muscle mass.

If my weight loss stalled, I'd first add an interval session to the weekly set up, increasing my training to 4 days per week, before altering my diet. This interval session would probably be hill sprints, although other options could be used. I'd then add a second interval session if required, but would make this "off feet" cardio and base it around the bike or rower in the gym or on low-impact kettlebell and bodyweight circuits.

Once I was up to 5x per week training wise, I'd then adjust calories (as detailed above) as required.

I'd then simply stay consistent until I hit my target.

Weight would be tracked weekly, pictures taken every two weeks and measurements every two weeks as well. This would hold me accountable and allow me to make adjustments as required based on the results expereinced week to week.

And that's it.

If you are reading this sitting at 20-30lbs overweight and are ready to do something about it, then feel free to print this out and implement it as written. For the best results though, get a qualified and experienced fitness professional to help you out, especially with the workout design and implementation.

If you want rid of it badly enough, you can do it - you just need to be ready to say goodbye to the old you and have a clear idear of what you need to do to get to your goal. Maybe this blog post could form a starting point for you.