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Squats

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One of the most natural movements we can do as a human, the squat.

If you look at young toddlers, (I have one myself), when they are playing they very often hold themselves in a squat position for a long time. It is the evolutionary seat that was created for us.

When I gained my certificate as a personal trainer, I thought I knew it all. During my training I was taught how to squat correctly, which is with your feet shoulder width apart, bending from the knee, activating your glutes, and keeping your back straight with your heart to the sky, and pushing off through your heels.

This all sounds correct yes, because it is, however what I didn’t learn was we should all really try and go as low as possible.

In my opinion, that’s what we do as kids, it is clearly natural, that’s what we should do now.

One of the reasons we don’t by the way is flexibility.

I am a culprit here with this. The flexibility in my ankle isn’t the best, but I’m working on it.

I bet not many people in this country can squat to the floor whilst keeping their feet flat, without holding on to something or falling over. I’m talking adults here by the way.

One of my best friends has an awesome physique, lifts some serious weights yet openly admits he can’t squat very low because of low flexibility.

Before embarking on trying to overload your muscles with olympic bars and loads of plates, my suggestion would be to get your flexibility first. If you do then you will become stronger anyway.

The lower you squat, the more muscles are engaged, the more energy you require, the more fat you burn.

Your ankles, knees, hips particularly need attention, but also don’t forget how much your abdominals are activated with this exercise.

For fat burning, the squat is a must.

For building lean tissue, the squat is a must.

For endurance athletes, the squat is a must.

You get the idea!

Th squat uses so many muscles, and major ones at that. This is why it burns fat like there’s no tomorrow.

  • Quads
  • Glutes
  • Calves
  • Hamstrings
  • Hip extensors
  • Abdominals
  • Back

There are a number of variations of the squat.

If you are loading weights then you can do a back squat, front squat, overhead squat, hack squat, one legged varieties. There is loads to choose from, mix them up and hit your muscles from different angles.

If you are using your own body-weight then you can perform jumping squats and add them to a plyometric circuit for a real test.

Below is a picture of the muscles worked.

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Keep clean, stay lean.

 

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Obesity in Kids

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I recently attended a career progression course on childhood obesity, and some of the information was quite shocking.

We need to seriously look at this problem, as a society, together, and sort it out.

My worry is that if we don’t all take responsibility for this problem, the future of the next generation, and ones after that is very bleak.

In fact it will come to a point where parents will out live their offspring!

Speaking as a father, and a human, this cannot be allowed to happen.

It amazes me that we really concentrate on academic subjects at school like maths and science, which we should by the way, but not to the complete detriment and ignorance of other aspects of life.

It’s no good being potentially the greatest scientist on the planet and not reaching the age of 30 because of a metabolic disease?!

We should also have a big emphasis on cooking, and teaching kids and their guardians about food and ingredients. What to look out for, and things to avoid.

We need to be overhauling the whole system in my opinion from the top down.

It starts with the information we receive from the government regarding their guidelines on healthy diet and eating patterns which should be changed.

Advertising is a major problem, especially when they are targeted at children. They have a lot to answer for. I know they have a job to do for big conglomerates but maybe they should take a good hard look at themselves with regard to their products.

Again this can be changed by government guidelines on advertising and hitting the big corporations hard, but I’m afraid money is the root of the evil there.

You will notice that most foods aimed at children are full of artificial rubbish and sugar to improve taste, even down to the labelled ‘health cereals’.

The packaging is bright and colourful and very attractive and appealing; very clever. They always mention the good stuff in the product, and seem to disregard all the nasty elements that are hampering our kids health.

The other problem of course is convincing our kids to play the latest computer game and therefore halting exercise in favour of the screen entertainment.

All these things add up to a massive problem that is then transferred to the next generation.

For example, I make a concerted effort to take part in physical play with my son. If he sees me lazing around all day playing computer games, guess what, he’ll be doing the same.

I got my 21 month old copying me performing burpees the other day, and he was in stitches, (as was I).

He always uses me as a climbing frame too, he is very active naturally, but he also wants to copy daddy.

There must be a direct correlation between a childs exercise patterns and their parents activity levels.

It’s the same too for food choices. Mummy and daddy are eating their vegetables, so am I. Mummy and daddy are eating pizza and chips, why do they expect me not to and have vegetables?!

Trouble being that this situation will only escalate. Unless we all stand together and do something about it.

Bottom line, we need to make change for the sake of all of our future.

Keep clean, stay lean

 

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Glorious Green Vegetables

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Leafy green vegetables are top of the agenda when it comes to must haves in your diet.

The power of these foods are second to none, they are so nutrient dense, packed with fibre, phytochemicals, and all sorts of vitamins and minerals. Some include;-

  • Vitamin A
  • Some of the B complex
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • calcium
  • iron
  • magnesium
  • potassium
  • phosphorous
  • zinc

Many of the benefits of ingesting these powerful greens as well as gaining the above list, is that they have a positive effect on our digestinal health. The high fibre content concludes to smooth transition through the intestines.

Immune functions are boosted as well as cancer preventative elements too.

Inflammation, energy, and circulation are all improved as well.

Do you need any more reasons to go more green?

So let’s take a look at what sort of foods help do all this good work;-

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Cabbage
  • Lettuces

These are all good choices, and especially if eaten raw, personally I think you get a fuller flavour. They all go well in green smoothies, which can be part of a hearty breakfast, and a great way to get your veg count up for the day.

However if you prefer cooked veggies, you still get benefits from steaming, boiling, or even light frying provided you choose a good stable fat to cook them in. Be mindful however of overcooking and diminishing the water soluble vitamins contained within the food.

One of the main elements in plant life is chlorophyll. Without this substance, life on earth would literally die out. It’s what makes the world breathe if you like.

Breaking this down into it’s simplest form, by eating green leafy veggies, you are eating life itself and creating more vibrancy within you. Eating something which was recently alive is the best way to go, whether that’s your veggies or animals that feed off those veggies.

The carbohydrates contained are mainly fibre, so helping to keep you fuller for longer with a lower carb count, great for fat loss or low carb dieters.

 

This helps also because of the low level of glucose, meaning your insulin response is limited and therefore not causing fat gain or experiencing the sugar crash two hours later.

Adding all these elements up puts green leafy vegetables in a great place, and should be making the bulk of your diet for health and weight loss/maintenance.

Green is for go, green is life.

Keep clean, stay lean.

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Deadlift Breakdown

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The deadlift is one of the top two exercises to perform, in my opinion.

It is a natural, functional movement that gives us so many benefits to our health.

Whether your goal is to build mass and size, tone up, gain strength, or for general fitness and flexibility, this is a must for any program. You just have to manipulate the finer details depending on which target you have.

As a personal trainer, I make sure every plan I do contains this movement somewhere.

The correct form for a deadlift is essential, so making sure you get this right is paramount before adding any weight or resistance to the movement.

Keep your back straight at all times, do not arc, this is where you will get injuries, especially when lifting heavy. This is why I say to get correct form first, then add.

  • With a barbell on the floor, keep your feet shoulder width apart and your toes just underneath the bar.
  • Keeping your back straight, bend forward from the hips, with a slight bend in the knee.
  • Grip the bar, typically with one hand prone, the other supine.
  • Lift the bar up, drive through your heels as you do until you stand tall and your shoulders square.
  • Repeat the process back down.
  • If you are on an olympic pad, and are lifting seriously heavy weight, you may need to drop the bar to the floor from the standing position.

The muscles this exercise uses are incredible, nearly everyone in the body. It is a full body workout, so very time efficient too.

There are some very important hormonal effects from performing a deadlift.

Performing a deadlift with a heavy resistance will create a testosterone response that places your body in an anabolic environment. So you will repair and build those muscle fibres making you stronger.

Ladies don’t panic, you are not going to end up looking like Arnie either, although women do produce testosterone, it is not in the amount that would be needed to build a ‘big’ physique. You will get ‘toned’ as opposed to ‘bulked’. Provided you are not using any outside influences that is?!

For the guys though, you will get more benefit from building more muscle mass because you have this hormone more naturally abundant than our better looking counterparts.

Here’s a little bonus to this though, the more muscle mass you have, the more fat you burn at rest.

Try to keep your rest periods down to a minimum, don’t do your next set fatigued obviously, but the shorter the rest, the more growth hormone is released, which essentially means better recovery and guess what, increased fat loss.

How can we not do this exercise?

There are too many benefits to miss out on this.

Deadlift-Muscles-Worked

Above is a picture of the muscles worked by performing a deadlift.

Here’s a quick list of the major muscles worked;

  • quads
  • hamstrings
  • glutes
  • calves
  • back
  • shoulders
  • abs
  • arms
  • chest

Not bad for one exercise eh?

Get deadlifting.

Keep clean,stay lean.

 

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Changing Habits

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One of the most difficult things anyone can do is to change or create a new habit. It takes 21 days actually to enforce one.

As an individual you have to first of all have the desire to change, secondly then have the know-how to implement them, and then the conviction of following it through and therefore making a successful change.

Some questions or typical barriers that come up time after time are from people not having free time to workout, their lives are too busy.  This is a ready made excuse to a) not exercise, and b) not cook healthy dinners and prepare lunches for their families.

The first thing we have to establish is, are we ready for change?

If we are not prepared to make a difference to our health, our kids health, and our lives in general, then we as a society should pull together and make sure everybody wants a better future. After all who doesn’t want that.

In fact, if you don’t, then your’e probably not reading this anyway, and the mere fact that you are suggests you are a stage further down the line and wanting to implement some changes.

So you have decided to make changes, good, now you need to make some environmental ones to assist you.

For example, if you have a bread-maker on your kitchen surface at all times, your always going to want to make bread. Remove it and take the temptation away. The same for things like the biscuit tin, or that special drawer where you hide the chocolates and sweets from the kids.

Empty your kitchen from the damaging foods that will effect your fat loss plan.

Do this at work too. Many people are secret eaters at their work desk. Hands up, who makes your colleagues a coffee and raids the biscuits whilst the kettle boils?

This kindly leads into the third point anyway,  making sure you have a social circle that is supportive of what you are doing.

You can have the first two in place, but if your friends and family keep coersing you to go out for a few beers after work, or to that fancy restaurant all the time, you are going to fall down, to be blunt.

You need to surround yourself with like minded people who will encourage you to improve yourself, and not deviate.

That is a battle you will have with yourself to come to terms with the fact that some friends, as many good attributes they may have, if they are effecting your goals, you need to keep them on a leash as it were. Unless you can implement change on them too.

Using a buddy system can be very effective and successful. If you go on the same journey with someone, you can encourage each other a lot.

To summise you need to want change for yourself, your environment, and a need for a tight knit social circle that is supportive. Use the buddy system.

Set your goals, stick to them, then execute.

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Breakfast

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Breakfast, the most important meal of the day. Or is it?

We have been sold this idea for years that we must have a big hearty breakfast to ‘kickstart’ our metabolism and keep us full until lunchtime.

Recent studies have shown a conflict with this, especially with the explosion of intermittent fasting.

Do you agree with intermittent fasting? Is it not natural to miss a few meals here and there? Our ancestors would have gone for hours without food, or at least very little. They may have foraged a few leaves or seeds to keep them going until the big kill.

One problem with modern society is the availability of food. It’s too easy to wander into a shop and purchase something, more than likely high in unwanted sugars.

As for the metabolism being kick-started by having a morning meal when we wake is a little sketchy.

Whilst we are in slumber, we are essentially fasting, this is when our largest production of growth hormone occurs. Growth hormone increases fat burning and lean tissue growth. If we extend our fast, we prolong the GH release.

Say we eat a breakfast as we wake, we stunt the production momentarily. Does that mean we actually halt metabolism rather than the common knowledge that it fires it up for the day?

I stress this is in ‘normal’ functioning bodies, if you are metabolically broken things change.

If we are having a breakfast, what is the best option?

I grew up on cereal for breakfast, coco pops, rice krispies, honey nut something or other. Even good old fashioned corn flakes, there healthy, right?

That’s what Mr Kellogg tells us. Why, because they’re low in fat?

What do you put on your cereal, milk I’m guessing, and maybe some table sugar.

Here’s the problem;

Corn is a grain, it’s used to fatten up pigs and such.

Milk is dairy, and although I like a drop of it myself, too much is not the best idea for fat loss, it contains a sugar called lactose. Some people have a gut reaction to this as well but that’s for another day.

So, to recap we have corn and milk with a bit of sugar on top, (that’s what I did anyway!)

CORN (SUGAR) + MILK (SUGAR) + SUGAR = I’ll leave that one for you to conclude.

The other thing that this does is give you that insulin spike and crash, so two hours later and you are rushing for the cookies.

Or we can take the protein/fat stance. Eggs and bacon, veggie omelettes, hell why not Steak!

The protein and fat will keep you full and satisfied for a long time.

Don’t forget we need saturated fat and cholesterol to thrive so eat all of the egg including the yolk. This actually is the most nutritious part. It’s ok to have more than two eggs a day as well, don’t limit yourself.

If you want to fast a bit longer and have breakfast at noon, that’s cool. Remember the name simply implies you are ‘breaking the fast’. So I guess everyone has breakfast anyway, just at different times.

If you are a morning breakfast person, that’s cool too but remember your best options are the high protein, high fat varieties.

Keep clean, stay lean.

check out the FREE ebook here

 

 

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New Age of Personal Training

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Personal training is an incorrect title these days in my opinion. Or at least it should be. It suggests that training clients is just exercise based.

The trouble is, if you want results, you have to nail your nutrition. You can’t out train a bad diet, no matter how much you do.

What you put in your mouth constitutes 80% of your result. Then you can focus on the physical aspect.

Too many trainers miss this, and purely concentrate on what exercises to perform. I’m not saying it doesn’t matter, but you need to have an all round approach. In fact, it goes further than even just nutrition and exercise. Sleep, stress management, hormone manipulation. You don’t get this from your local gym instructor I bet? I may be wrong.

A lot of the industry like any other is geared towards making money, rather than helping you and improving your health.

We all have to make money, however my passion goes more deeply towards trying to solve a nations problem of obesity.

This sounds pretentious I know, but it’s true.

I think we all need educating better on the importance of various issues to do with health.

I was a fat kid, and going into my early twenties a big guy. I’m so pleased I found something inside myself to improve.

If I kept going along the same path of crappy food, smoking, and drinking lots of beer, I dread to think where I would be now.

This is, in my opinion, what drives me now, and to an extent why I believe I can improve clients with more efficiency and motivation than some others.

I have been there myself, and I know what is going through some clients minds. giving up is the easiest option to take when you have such low confidence. I won’t let this happen.

My mission is to try and spread a message about achieving optimal health for an individual. Setting realistic goals and motivating to improve you!

This is why I constantly read about varying views on nutrition from the worlds leading scientists and fitness gurus.

A lot of the magazines and local trainers are frightened to go against the grain and speak out about how to eat correctly.

My opinion, as well as a lot of others is quite different, and probably contravercial as it strays away from what our government tells us we should be eating.

If most of us are eating within the government guidelines, why is there such an obesity epidemic?

Either people rapidly over eat, or we are being told the wrong information.

Probably a mixture of the two, however if you eat the way I think we all should, it’ is virtually impossible to eat more than your body requires for health.

I could spout on all day about this subject, which is why I have written an ebook about the subject, as well as some other really useful information about becoming a better version of you.

https://healthexplorerblog.com/2015/08/19/lean-dream-body-system-book/ ‎

Keep clean, stay lean.

 

 

 

 

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Psychology Of Fatloss

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The psychology of going from fat to lean is actually really difficult. I was a heavy guy for a good few years, and with that came all sorts of varying, underlying health problems which would have escalated had I not done something about it.

When I was in my late teens to early twenties I had some real confidence problems. I found it difficult to talk to women, I was the quietest guy in my group of friends too.

Whenever we were out my friends would get chatting to girls with ease, more often than not striking up some form of relationship with them, whether that would be long term or not, (if you know what I mean!).

I was always left behind, going home wondering what might have been, and basically fantasizing about a different conclusion, if only I could strike up some courage! Things might be different.

I was even too scared to crack a witty comment with my closest mates in case nobody laughed.

It wasn’t just about meeting girls though, my lack of confidence transpired into other aspects of my life, work for example. This was awkward as I was in a management role, and yet trying to find the courage to make difficult decisions and then be able to stand by them and present my arguments in front of the big bosses filled me with utter dread.

It is strange that essentially losing weight seemed to correct all of my little ailments, but it took time! The mental side of losing weight is in my opinion the hardest, initially. The issues I had when I dropped so much, was that in my head, I was still that fat guy low on confidence and self esteem.

The attention from the opposite sex I craved for so long was now happening, but I didn’t realize it. I still didn’t have the confidence to take a conversation to a stranger at first, but over time my confidence grew.

I was a better manager at work, my communication skills went through the roof eventually, and now I can talk to anyone with no problem at all. I used to be so frightened of making a fool of myself I never spoke. I am the clown in every room now, and you know what, I like it!

It’s not about looking like the latest Hollywood heart throb, it’s about gaining self-confidence and worth, that’s what people wanted, it’s not my appearance that was the issue, it was my presentation.

The point I’m trying to make is, it can be a difficult transition mentally at first because you might still be in the same mind frame, but the best thing you can do is get healthy, follow a good plan involving exercise and good nutrition and the rest follows.

https://healthexplorerblog.com/2015/08/19/lean-dream-body-system-book/ ‎

Be confident. Be you.

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Does Metabolism Slow With Age?

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Does metabolism slow with age? This is a question that has come often when training with people in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s in particular. It seems to be the common thought that, ‘it’s just one of those things’, and that there’s nothing that can be done about it, you can’t fight mother nature right?

You see loads of guys with their ‘bought for’ beer bellies, and the ladies with those muffin tops blaming it on the fact that it’s a cause of getting older.

The problem arises from having sedentary lifestyles. Now, I’m not for a minute suggesting we are all lazy. I mean, we all need our downtime from our busy schedules to relax, and rightly so, I know I do, but unfortunately modern society and specifically the workplace sort of dictates that we are.

How often do you have a working lunch, eating at your desk? We are all busy, busy, busy. On the whole most of us are sat down for too long.

Metabolism increases when we have more lean tissue in our body. When I say lean tissue I mean bone and muscle, these components require a lot of energy for maintenance, meaning you burn more calories at rest. If we sit down for long periods, we are not strengthening those areas of our body that helps us burn fat, in fact the opposite.

We need to increase our exercise and feed the lean tissue the correct nutrients to thrive, and if we don’t, guess what happens? Yep, lean tissue decreases, adipose (fat) tissue increases, metabolism slows down.

So does metabolism slow with age?

I think there is more of a case for our lives get more complicated, priorities change, (especially if you have kids), and time to do the right things often go on the back-burner.

It’s not that your metabolism slows with age, it’s because we don’t keep our metabolic rate high with certain choices we make. We want ease and convenience with our food choices, which often end up the wrong ones.

Check out the e-book to see where to make the right decisions for food and exercise.

https://healthexplorerblog.com/2015/08/19/lean-dream-body-system-book/ ‎

The exercises we perform are often wrong too. Many of the ones we do may even be affecting your metabolism in a detrimental manner!

It comes down to the age old tradition of movement and nutrition, if you get these right, you’ll be a fat burning machine, no matter what your age!

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Its All Part Of The Process.

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It’s all part of the process! We are evolutionary creatures, intelligent beings that have some of the most creative, astonishing ideas within the arts and sciences.

I am a musician as well as a training coach, all be it only as a hobby, but when you look closely at some of the creations made within music, it’s beautiful the way we can almost communicate through sound as well as language.

Some scientific genius in years gone by too, reading this now is due to human intelligence, putting a computer in every home and being connected to pretty much anyone, anytime.

Why is it then, we can write amazing symphonies, paint staggering portraits, and invent mind blowing products, yet a basic human requirement like fueling our bodies correctly goes missing somewhere in the ether?

Let’s look at the evidence, there is a fast food chain of some description on near enough every street corner. We know they’re no good for us, but we go through with it anyway. Why? Convenience!

Yes we all want it quick, no hassle, no need to think about what to do for dinner etc.

The crooks of it is, cooking a home-made dinner doesn’t need to be complicated.

The nutrients you receive from whole foods far surpass that of even a healthier option from a take away chain.

A big problem is advertising us to death!

These so called healthy options are not as healthy as you think as well. They may contain less than their other options but it still doesn’t mean they’re any good.

Let’s take at a good old fashioned Saturday night Chinese. Heavily fried in copious amounts of oil, I’m going to guess it’s not a healthy fat either.

Where is your meat from? Where and how was it reared?

Do the vegetables contain pesticides? Were they fresh?

You might be tempted into having a starter, deep fried battered prawns anyone? The calorific value soon tots up, and there is not a lot of nutrient value, or at least what there is outweighed by the bad stuff.

Now lets take some ingredients from your local market or farm shop. Let’s have some whole foods on the go. When I say whole foods I mean things that have one ingredient. For example broccoli and chicken are one single ingredient. They have no additives or nasties in them.

The Chinese take away is an example of processed food, which is also your ready-meals we all seem to love.

Avoid processed food at all costs. You have no idea what they contain, at least if you cook yourself from whole foods, you know your fueling yourself correctly.

Cooking can be daunting for some people, but like anything, once you have done it a few times, you get the hang of it.

My advice would be to select three or four of your favorite dishes, and perfect them before you decide to add variety and get more adventurous.

You can find some inspirational ideas inside the ebook.

https://healthexplorerblog.com/2015/08/19/lean-dream-body-system-book/