What Is ‘Toning’?

The term ‘Toning’ is thrown around a lot. Many people think that there’s some special style of training that is going to increase their ‘muscle tone’ without having to build muscle or lose body fat…

Sadly this is not the case, when we say muscle tone we are simply referring to our ability to see our muscles through our skin, this is the result of a healthy muscle to fat ratio & our muscles being in a state of partial contraction.

There are only 3 reasons why you may not be able to see your muscles through your skin:
1) They Are Too Small
2) They Are Covered In Too Much Fat
3) You Are Not Using The Muscles In Question Enough

If we take a moment to revisit our secondary school biology lessons we’ll remember that the structure of the body from out to in is as follows:Capture

1) Skin
2) Subcutaneous Fat (just below the skin)
3) Muscle
4) Bone

Therefore, if I wanted to increase the definition & visibility of my Abs..The first thing I would do is asses the volume of fat covering them, I would then consider how often I actually use them beyond normal daily tasks.

I could be training my abs hard 3 time a week and have solid slabs of muscle but if my body fat % is too high I won’t be able to see them very well if at all. On the other hand: my body fat % could be very low but I don’t engage my abs frequently enough and whilst I may be able to see them they are small, flat and lack any real shape.

The image below shows the difference that your body fat % makes to what we often perceive as ‘being toned’. (keep scrolling down)
body-fat-photos-1
TOP TIPS:
– Identify what physique you would like based on body fat % examples
– Identify your current body fat % (Skin Fold Calipers)
– If you need to drop Fat set a goal & a plan
– Regularly work your muscles to elicit partial contraction
– Training your muscles regularly will help them grow and poke through your skin
– Ensure you have a sufficient rest-training pattern
– Ensure your diet reflects your goals
– Avoid ‘Bulking & Cutting’
– Be patient, it takes time to see changes in your physique
– if you’re lost, get help from a trainer

We hope that this help.

Happy Health,
Tom’s

 

I Don’t have Time!

Time is something that we all share equally but how we use it is very different….

TIME..is undoubtedly the #1 reason we hear for people not looking after themselves, what makes us good at our job though is that we refuse to accept this EXCUSE…

Effective time management is a powerful tool and today we’re sharing some time efficient tips to help maximise your health & fitness…

time-management-tips-min

Starting Point
Where is your time going?

Completing a time diary/audit may surprise you, Eg. how many minutes/day are you on Social Media or watching TV?

  • Turn off social media notifications
  • if you sleep 8 hours/night this leaves you 16 hours/day
  • an hour workout is 4% of your day, 3 workouts/week is plenty
  • the UK government recommend 300 minutes exercise/week, this can be done in as little as 10 minutes chunks when heart rate >60% max
  • Plan your week & time ahead, factor in time for food prep & workouts
  • cook in bulk and freeze for busy days
  • exercise in your lunch break
  • prepare your gym kit for lunchtime or a workout on your way home
  • active commuting: walk to work or park half way and walk the rest
  • Set daily and/or weekly goals
  • Be flexible & willing to adapt/change your plans
  • have a back up plan
  • take the stairs – always!
  • Set golden rules – eg. I MUST workout 3x/week, I will only have 2 takeaways/month
  • Find sources of inspiration: quotes, videos or idols
  • Choose a mantra eg. I’ll feel better if I exercise & eat well

We could continue for a while, but that wouldn’t be time efficient 😉

We’ll leave you by referring to our previous article that looks at setting your priorities, the key point being that your output in life is only increased by prioritising the foundation of everything you do, this being your health.
CLICK HERE

Happy Health,
Tom

Choosing Equipment

The market is absolutely flooded with workout equipment, gizmos & gadgets…The truth is that you don’t need most of them…

Choosing a select few of the right pieces will save you time, space & money…

As an example, today we placed our 1st equipment order for our new studio..we’re consciously trying to minimise clutter & leave space for floor work, classes and movement drills…After some thought we decided that the following 3 items were the most essential to any gym, reasons to follow…

  1. adjustable workout bench
  2. squat rack with adjustable spotter bars
  3. 150kg Olympic Barbell Set

This combination will allow us to work every muscle group and perform all of the major compound lifts that form the foundations of all resistance plans.

Choosing the right squat rack has solved our storage concerns too as the bench, bar & plates are all housed within the squat rack…We can’t wait to show you once it’s installed.

By all means this is far from all of the equipment we have planned, the point is though that this simple set up (cheaper than you think) alone would allow us to get great results from our clients…

When looking at equipment there is always a simple question that we ask ourselves: “how many uses does this have & is there a more cost effective alternative?”

Fruit & Nut Flapjacks

Try these tasty Fruit & Nut Flapjacks for a healthy, balanced snack with no added sugar

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10-14 minutes

Ingredients:
– 1 cup porridge oats
– 1/4 cup raisens
– 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
– ground cinamon
– 2 bananas (mashed)

1. Nonstick cooking spray
2. Preheat oven to 350° F or 170°d
3. Lightly coat large baking sheet with spray. Set aside.
4. Combine oats, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl; mix well.
5. Add bananas, raisins, and walnuts; mix well.
6. Drop mix onto baking tray.
7. flatten cookies with a spatula.
8. Bake for 14 to 15 minutes or until firm.
9. let cool, slice & enjoy

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION
(per serving):
Calories: 104
Total Fat: 3 g
Saturated Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 73 mg
Carbohydrates: 18 g
Fibre: 3 g
Sugars: 6 g
Protein: 2 g

Metabolic Overload Training

Metabolic Overload or Metabolic Stress training is 1 of 3 key ways in which you can train to gain (muscles)…

What Is It?

Essentially Metabolic Stress training is the process of training for ‘the burn’ & ‘muscle pump’ which relies on the constant pumping of blood into the working muscle, the blood fills the muscle resulting in micro tears of the muscle fibres and the accumulation of metabolites which are thought to then trigger anabolic signaling (trigger to grow).

How Do I Do It?

Metabolic stress training relies on the muscle remaining under tension throughout the entire set, the following points summarise this technique:

  • 10-20 reps/exercise
  • 3-4 sets/exercise
  • No rest at the top or bottom of the lift
  • avoid locking out at the top of lifts
  • constant tempo eg. 2020
  • <60 seconds rest between sets
  • rep to momentary failure

Applying It To Your Routine:

As we’ve said before all professional lifters and athletes alike will us a system of Periodization when planning their training, once again we recommend using a structure plan that periodically transitions through each of the 3 Hypertropthy systems offering well rounded and progressive results.

We hope that you find this information useful.

Happy Health,
Tom’s

Anterior & Posterior Chains

Chains are definitely lesser discussed than other anatomical functions.
Understanding your Anterior & Posterior chains though will undoubtedly help your fitness, progression & performance whilst reducing your risk of injury and skeletal imbalance.

What are they?

The Anterior Chain:
This refers to the muscles on the front side of the body including:
– Pecs
– Quads
– Core
The anterior chain plays a vital role in controlling forward movement, an essential in nearly all sports especially where direction changes are needed. Further to this your core muscles provide the foundation of all movement and power, an undeveloped or weak core will prevent you from training/progressing beyond a certain point as well as increasing the risk of falls.

The Posterior Chain:
This comprises of the muscles on the rear of the body, including:
– Hamstrings
– Glutes
– Lats
– Traps
– Rotator Cuff & Scapula Retractors
The Posterior Chain is responsible for holding us upright, without it we would flop forwards. Additionally they allow us to generate backwards force such as rowing and pulling.

compound exercises

How Can I Train My Chains:

Anterior Chain Exercises:
– 
Bench Press & Push Ups
– Planks, Sit Ups, Leg Raises
– Leg Extensions, Squats & Lunges

Posterior Chain Exercises:
– 
Cable Pull Throughs
– Hamstring Curls
– Rows, Lat Pull Down & Pull Ups
– Deadlift

Training For Balance:

Whatever your goals are it remains important that you have a balanced training plan unless you are training to address an existing imbalance, eg. a front chain dominant physique.

We recommend for every Anterior exercise or workout you do that you then do a Posterior exercise or workout… You could split this in many ways, an easy way to do so is to simply have 2 workout days, #1 Anterior & #2 Posterior…you could then use a 3rd session to address any muscles missed (delts & calfs etc) or run a hybrid workout that contains key lifts from each chain.

Using large, compound movements as detailed above will also aid you in recruiting the most muscle fibres and secondary muscles such as the Biceps & Triceps.

A balanced training plan and physique will not only provide the best platform for fitness, progress & performance but will also minimise your risk of developing structural issues such as pelvic tilt & shoulder instability.

We hope that this is helpful, we’re happy to help you apply this if you simply give us a shout.

Happy Healthy,
Tom’s

Fit You, In Feb Too (Top Tips)

If you hadn’t guessed from the title today’s post is about keeping motivated beyond January, we’ve got some top tips to help ensure that the ‘new you’ lasts longer than just January…

  • establish a routine – diary/calendar & planners are essential
  • key to success = adaptable approach – be flexible to ensure you hit your meal plan & exercise targets
  • set goals – click for more info
  • set targets eg. 3x 1 hour workouts per week, these can fit in around your schedule
  • review & adapt goals
  • take regular measurements – be accountable to yourself
  • look for/try to find activities that you enjoy
  • buddy up – get a friend on board, training buddies are great
  • manage your expectations: this is a long term lifestyle
  • accidents happen – recover, don’t stress
  • try new things: both food & exercise options are endless
  • Relax! take time to de-stress & get plenty of sleep
  • join an exercise class or get a Personal Trainer to help you out
  • don’t worry about what everybody else is doing
  • only take from advice from someone qualified

We hope this helps you to keep smashing your goals, you know you can do it!!

Happy Health,

Tom’s

 

Smash Your Plateau

Have you ever followed a particular training plan and noticed that it’s great at first but your results seem to slow and plateau after a while?  Perhaps you’re stuck in a rut right now!

This is extremely common and perfectly normal albeit rather frustrating…plateaus can come in many forms and are not exclusive to slowed strength & size gains…

Why Do We Plateau?

Unfortunately the very reason you may chose a certain training plan is the same reason that you’ll eventually plateau, essentially your body will learn and adapt to the demands that you’re regularly placing on it. This results in less effort or stress from the same workload, less stress = less adaptation.

For example, early on in a strength cycle you may comfortably add 5kg/week to your squats, as your body begins to adapt to this style of training its very likely this progression will slow down.

Avoiding Plateaus 

The key to success whether your goal is simply to be fitter, stronger or slimmer is having (& committing to) a structured and varied approach.

Using Body Building as an example: the foundation of any professional’s training will be ‘Periodisation’… simply a process of structuring training into 6-12 week phases that place different stresses on the body & muscles…

Additionally, professional athletes alike will use this system in line with their on & off season schedules to ensure they are at their physical peak when it really matters, off season they can afford to be less restrictive with their diet and actually train harder.

Non athletes such as you & I will still benefit hugely from regularly changing our training variables. We too can tailor this around our calendar, for example you may want to pay extra attention to toning & physique for the 3 months before your beach holiday, alternatively you may want to use the winter to focus on getting stronger or improving your cardio…

What Factors Can I Change?

  • Rep Range
  • Rep Tempo
  • Rest Interval
  • Intenstity
  • Exercise Types
  • Protocols (super-sets, compounds, pyramids. HIIT & Fartlek etc)
  • Workout Duration
  • Body Part Split: switch up what you do in which workout
  • Try Whole Body Workouts
  • Try Exercise Classes
  • HIIT: work vs rest ratio
  • Try A New Exercise or Sport
  • Rest Days Between Workouts
  • Your Diet Remains A High Priority!!!

Remember: true health is a balance between several factors, therefore a complete plan should incorporate all of the following:

  • Strength
  • Muscular Endurance
  • Cardio
  • Flexibility
  • Agility & Coordination

This is only a brief introduction to the topic and hopefully a helpful nudge to mix up your training. Hopefully you get the idea of just how much we can vary our training and manipulate it around our goals and schedule…it would take pages & pages for us to give you more, the reality is your periodised plan should be personal to you & your goals, therefore if you’re really struggling to understand or apply this get in touch with us.

Happy Health,

Tom’s

Winter Vegetable Soup

Warm up with this simple & nutritious Winter Vegetable Soup…

Serves: 4
Prep: 10 Minutes
Cook: 45 Minutes

Ingredients:
Carrot 330g
Swede 250g
Potato 350g
1 leek
1 onion
200g turnip
50g cabbage
1.5ltr veg stock
1 Garlic clove
Thyme
25g butter

  • Chop all the vegetables into small pieces or slice in a food processor
  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan and fry the onions on a low heat until softened
  • Add the leaks and crushed garlic clove and cook for a few more minutes until cooked down
  • Add all the remaining vegetables and stir so coated in the butter
  • Cook for 5 more minutes
  • Add the vegetable stock and thyme. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30-40 mins or until vegetables are soft.
Allow to cool and blend.
Serve & Enjoy