Fitness, Motivation

On Stage

 

Last week I won my first ever bikini fitness competition.

Wow! I still can’t believe it!

Being on stage was a surreal experience & a mix of emotions.

First, all the girls in my category had to line up at the front of the stage and we had to do the quarter turns. I was so nervous (and thirsty!) that I could feel my heart beating in my chest and my legs soft like jelly.

 

Yet I managed to do most of the things I had practised to do – smile, keep my belly in and hold all the poses correctly. I made sure to look at the judges too. One thing I struggled with was keeping my shoulders down (yep, you can hear my coach screaming in the video below).

Then we were called in groups of 4 for comparisons. I misheard my number the second time and went out twice 😀 ooops!

After this we were all back in a line at the front for one last round of comparisons. By this point I could feel my body shaking and keeping the poses (especially the side twist) was really becoming a challenge.

Once this phase of the comparisons was done, we were all given medals for participation and asked to go backstage.

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And then things started moving fast! The top 3 athletes were immediately called back to perform their individual T-walk, followed by more comparisons and winner announcement.

As we were waiting on the stage, I was happy to have placed in the top 3 and pretty much expected to get 3rd place. But then they called one of the other girls…. So I thought I would get second place… And then they called the girl next to me and I just couldn’t believe it!

I had to laugh out loud. “You must be joking,” I thought.

Yet here I was, a winner, despite the nervousness and the little mistakes on stage!

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Fitness, Motivation

Last Workout Before the Big Day!

262 workouts.

1.16 million kg lifted, pushed & dragged.

9% body fat dropped.

 

On April 19th 2015 I embarked on a long journey. I entered the world of weight lifting and bodybuilding.

The first 6 months involved building muscle and lifting technique.

The last 6 months focused on fine tuning my nutrition and shaping my body.

I have been lucky to start with a really good base, since I was involved in sport & fitness since a young age and stayed consistently active.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BD7b4Yassco/?taken-by=adrianna_pinnacledxb

 

Although the journey was an uphill struggle, I am glad I did not have to take any extreme measures some other athletes have had to take to get in top shape.

Now it’s time to rest and shine on stage! But what I am really looking forward to is all the yummy things I will eat the day after 😀

See you on the other side! xo

WW

 

 

 

Fitness

Exercise of the week: Battle Ropes

Battle ropes are great part of Strongman training and a great conditioning exercise. I love using them as an addition to a weight training programme especially closer to competition date. Here is why:

Conditioning:
* prepares you for battle and fires up metabolism
* makes you lean and hard.
* gives you great body
* makes you better at any physical activity.
* is testosterone stimulating
* relieves anxiety,
* boosts all-day energy
* Fires up brain function

Here’s how:

Conditioning is about short, hard intervals.
* Choose a conditioning exercise. Go hard for 15 to 30 seconds
* Rest minimum 30-45sec or go straight to another exercise
* Repeat.

Fitness

Exercise of the week: Reverse Lunge Step-up

The reverse lunge step-up is a functional, unilateral, multi-joint movement that has a high carry-over to many activities of daily living and sport. This combination enables bigger range of motion at the hip and the balance required in the high step-up calls more muscles into play, producing fuller, shapelier development.

Go high, go deep and power up:

  • Grab kettle bell or dumbbell and hold it on your chest.
  • Place one leg completely on the step so that the whole heel is on the step.
  • Maintain a neutral spine and keep the weight primarily on the standing leg. Drive the heel into the step keeping the leg is straight and the glutes tight.
  • From the top, step backwards into a reverse lunge, keeping the foot in line with your hip.Do not try to create a straight line between your feet; maintain your normal stance width.
  • Keeping the torso upright (a slight forward lean is OK), descend slowly with control until your knee slightly touches the ground.
  • From this position, drive through the heel of the standing foot and step up.
Nutrition

Adrianna on: Macronutrients vs Calories

By Adrianna McDonald

You may wonder is a calorie just calorie? Do I eat whatever I want as long I’m in a calorie deficit? Well, lets make it clear


Calories are indeed a measure of energy and weight, change depends on the balance between: energy in vs energy out.

Energy out can be:

  • physical activity
  • energy to keep you alive at rest BMR (basal metabolic rate)
  • energy added to the body like amino acids to muscle, and fat to fat tissues
  • energy lost in waste (bathroom stuff)
  • energy used to digest the food you eat

Energy in can be:

  • How many calories were in the food you ate

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However, energy in is just as complex as energy out, because of the energy cost of digesting food. For example, some food (celery, cucumber) is considered negative calories as it takes more energy to break down and absorb it. It needs the calories to chew, swallow, make the acid in the stomach, make the enzymes for peristalsis (rhythmic muscular contractions) that drives the food through.

Around 10% goes to daily energy expenditure digesting and absorbing food, but this percentage changes depending on the type of food you eat.

Protein takes the most energy to digest followed by carbohydrates and then fats.

Some research advocates that eating whole food takes more energy to digest than processed food!

Processed food takes less energy to digest and absorb compared to whole foods, so 100 calories of processed food ends up being more net calories than 100 calories of whole food.

If you’re trying to lose weight and stay healthy be wise and eat whole foods.

So yes you can eat “junk” and loose weight (at least at the beginning).

Bottom line is – if you just eat for calories and predominantly “junk food” you most probably will be missing out on micronutrients.

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When you’re missing key vitamins and minerals, as well as phytochemicals, your body doesn’t work properly. You feel terrible (mod, appearance, energy). Immunity goes down. And you get sick!

Human bodies are dynamic, complex, organic, and sensitive systems.

What we eat isn’t necessarily what we absorb as all food isn’t created equal. There are many factors impacting our digestion, and use of the food we eat.

This means that the fuel, or calorie, value of food outside the body isn’t going to have the same value inside the body.

We are all “unique” and we have an individual gut flora called the “microbiome”, just like our unique fingerprint. Changing our gut flora changes our digestion and absorption, and hence our body composition and health.

Every food choice is an opportunity to direct, shape, and remake our health. Our body composition. Our performance. Our well-being.

Nutrition

Adrianna on: The Truth About Salt

By Adrianna McDonald

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Previously in the bodybuilding industry, and still in many world organisations, salt is seen as bad but there is a major difference between processed table salt and real sea salt.

Sodium (in salt) is an essential electrolyte which carries out vital functions in the body, from maintaining fluid balance and regulating blood volume to nervous system activity ensuring healthy heart function and muscle contraction.

Depleted through sweat while exercising, it needs to be replaced for healthy electrolyte balance. If not replaced it can cause sodium levels to drop dramatically, leading to symptoms of weakness, dizziness, vomiting, headache and fatigue.

Sodium isn’t produced by our body. In severe cases, the consequences of sodium deficiency can be fatal. We should obtain it from our diet to function optimally.

There are different types of salt and this is why there is confusion.

White table salt undergoes heavy processing and contains added chemicals which are also widely used in the majority of processed “junk food”. During this extreme process, the chemical composition of salt is completely altered and all of the nutritional benefits are destroyed. This type of processed salt will cause your body to retain fluids and is so toxic that your body will operate in a fight-or-flight response to protect itself from damage when you eat it.

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Natural salts like sea salt, Celtic sea salt and Himalayan crystal salt are unrefined with minimal processing and no additives. Due to natural drying techniques, they retain their rich mineral content, including important electrolytes such as potassium, magnesium and calcium.

Himalayan crystal salt is pink and contains all of the 84 elements found in your body.

Benefits can go as far as:

  • Regulating the water content throughout your body
  • Promoting healthy pH balance in your cells (particularly your brain cells)
  • Promoting blood sugar health and can help reduce the signs of ageing
  • Assisting in the generation of hydroelectric energy in cells in your body
  • Absorbing food particles through your intestinal tract
  • Supporting respiratory health
  • Promoting sinus health
  • Preventing of muscle cramps
  • Promoting bone strength
  • Regulating your sleep
  • Supporting your libido
  • Promoting vascular health
  • Regulating your blood pressure with sufficient water and potassium intake.

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Celtic Sea Salt is comparable to Himalayan crystal salt in its composition and health benefits. It is naturally harvested in Brittany (France) near the Celtic Sea using a 2,000-year old Celtic method that is crucial to preserving its life-giving nutrition profile.

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Benefits include:

  • Alkalising the body
  • Balancing blood sugars
  • Eliminating mucus build-up
  • Building immunity
  • Improving brain function
  • Increasing energy
  • Providing electrolyte balance
  • Promoting restful sleep
  • Preventing muscle cramps
  • Regulating heartbeat and blood pressure

 

Most of the types of salt are similar, consisting of sodium chloride and various amounts of minerals. However, choosing more natural types of salt helps you avoid toxic additives and anti-caking agents that are often added to regular table salt.

Fitness

Exercise of the week: Cable straight arm pulldown

 

 

This is standing variation of the pulldown, the angle is different so the weight needs to be lighter than standard lat pull. It’s a great exercise for lat isolation.

The way Miranda does it allows you for bigger ROM (range of motion). It is one of the best ways to optimally shorten the lat muscle when done correctly.

How to do it?

  • Face  the high pulley and grab the bar shoulder-width apart. Bend slightly forward with your arms above the head.
  • Use your palms to push bar down with slightly bent elbows rotating at the shoulders only.
  • Contract the lats and stand straight back up bringing the bar close to the thighs.
  • Keep your chest high through out the range of motion and back flat or slightly arched.

Some more tips from muscleandfitness.com:

  • For a great pump, use the straight-arm pulldown as a pre-exhaust move before compound exercises such as rows, or as a finishing move at the end of your back routine.
  • Concentrate on making your lats do the work. Don’t allow your elbows to bend, which would elicit greater involvement of the triceps to assist in the move.
  • Make sure you don’t use momentum to go into the next rep. Doing so will decrease the tension on your lats and could result in injury, particularly when using heavier loads.
Nutrition

How and What to Eat Pre-Intra-Post Workout

By Adrianna McDonald

As I stated before in the article about Nutrition Timing what and when you eat depends on your health and fitness goals. You are unique and what will be right for you, may not be right for someone else.

An endurance athlete will eat differently to a bodybuilder who wants to put on size or a bodybuilder getting ready for a competition and finally, very different to an average gym goer or non exerciser.

As an endurance athlete, your carbohydrate intake and calorie needs will be much higher because of the long distance and duration of your training.

As a bodybuilder protein and calorie needs would be higher to promote the muscle growth.

Pre & Post Workout Quote

If you are getting ready for a fitness competition like Miranda, where dropping the body fat percentage is required, your protein and fat intake can be higher but carbohydrates should be lower.

Here nutrition is essential if you want to change your body composition. Depending on the person (remember you are unique), training intensity, and the stage at which they are prior to a competition I will use different approach.

Mostly, the pre-workout meal will stay high protein and fats. For intra-workout nutrition (during exercise) I like to use BCAAs (Branched-chain Amino Acids). These are very important as lifting weights puts enormous amount of stress on the body and the BCAAs will support the immune system, help to cope with this stress and prevent muscle loss. Your body cannot produce BCAAs so they must be consumed.

And for post-workout I would use Vitargo which is a fast-absorbing carbohydrate and
protein isolate which is also the type of protein that is absorbed the fastest by the body. Repairing and refuelling the depleted muscles immediately after training is crucial for muscle repair so protein itself or a combination of both, protein and carbs, would be required.

As to post-workout meals, in my opinion these should be eaten an hour after training and should consist of foods high in protein and starchy carbohydrates.

Pre & Post Workout Quote 2

Fitness

Exercise of the week: Underhand Grip Lat Pulldown

There’s pretty much no workout without a lat pull down variation. You can change your grip and angle and there are many bars you can choose from.

In the video below,  Miranda is doing the supinated ( underhand grip) straight bar variation, which allows her to involve more of the biceps. Usually it’s performed with a close grip but I find it easier on the wrists with a wider grip.

Your form & technique are essential to be able to isolate the muscle you are trying to work on and to properly stimulate it. Use the wrong technique and you will end up using your traps, rhomboids or lower back See-no-evil monkey

The results of this exercise may vary from person to person – it may give your back a wider look or add thickness to your muscles.

A key aspect for this lift is to go for a slightly lower weight and ensure a fully contracted lat muscle by using a controlled movement.

A few points to keep in mind when performing this exercise:
* Adjust the seat to fit under the pad
* Sit up straight
* Grab the bar palms down wider than shoulder width and engage your lats
* Traps and and shoulders down and blades together
* Chest slightly lifted
* Drive the elbows down pulling the weight slowly towards your clavicle
* Squeeze the lats harder at the bottom end of the movement
* And release slowly (keeping tension in the lats)
* Breathe out on exertion (pull down) and in on release ( way up)

Nutrition

Adrianna on: Meal Timing

Meal or nutrient timing refers to eating nutrients (protein or carbs) in specific amount at specific times (before, during, or after exercise).

In terms of sports nutrition, different meals should be eaten at different times of the day:

  • Post workout meals should be higher in carbs, especially faster-digesting starchy carbs (such as potatoes or rice) or sweeter carbs (such as fruit).
  • All other meals should be lower in carbs, lean protein plus healthy fats and fibrous vegetables.

This placement of carbs could help people with their performance in the gym while getting leaner, stronger, and healthier. But for the average person who exercises occasionally or not at all and is trying to just look or feel better, nutrient timing is not as important as overall daily calorie intake.

Nutrient-timing-table
Post-workout “anabolic window of opportunity”
Brian St Pierre at Precision Nutrition states that nutrient timing can play a key role in fitness as proven by various research studies which found something we call the post-workout “anabolic window of opportunity.”

Heavy resistance training sensitizes muscle tissues to carbohydrates. After a heavy weight training session, your muscle cells are scrambling to soak up carbs to promote recovery. That means the higher your daily workout volume, the better you’ll be sensitized to carbs. – St Pierre, Precision Nutrition

Weight training or sprint intervals make our body a nutrient-processing powerhouse. During this time our muscles need glucose, either oxidizing it as fuel or more readily storing it as glycogen (instead of fat). And post-workout protein consumption cranks up protein synthesis.
Recent studies indicate that the “anabolic window of opportunity” is actually a whole lot bigger than we used to believe, you probably have one or two hours on both sides of your training to get these benefits.

Nevertheless we ought to remember that  we’re all unique. There’s no one-size-fits all rule. Just like when you exercise, what’s most important is that you make high-quality choices, consistently, whenever it works for you.

Meal Timing quote

Meal frequency
For years dietitians and nutritionists thought that the best approach to splitting up your daily food intake was to eat small meals frequently throughout the day. From early research it was assumed that eating often would speed up the metabolism, help control the hormones insulin and cortisol, and manage the appetite.
However, a recent review in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, and other lines of evidence, suggest otherwise:

As long as we eat the right foods in the right amounts, meal frequency seems to be a matter of personal preference. You can eat lots of small meals each day (i.e. every few hours). Or you can eat a few big meals each day (i.e. with bigger time gaps between them). And there’s almost no physiological difference. – St Pierre, Precision Nutrition

However, there could be psychological differences, mind you. Which is why you should listen to your own body. If you’re covering all your other bases and your current meal frequency isn’t working, try switching it up. Experiment with fewer meals if you eat more frequently. And more meals if you eat less frequently. Because either approach is physiologically valid, you’re free to find the lifestyle approach that works best for you.

When nutrient timing still matters
Nutrient timing is a complex subject and there are legitimate uses of nutrient timing for certain people.
If you’re a bodybuilder or an endurance athlete, the meaning of nutrient timing is much different than if you’re an sedentary office worker just getting into exercise and trying to improve your nutrition.
Some people are already very lean, compete at an elite level of physique or athletics. For bodybuilders, physique competitors, and/or weight class athletes an extra half-percent of body fat can mean the difference between winning and losing.

Yet, there is one thing that trumps all of the above:
“The best nutrient timing in the world won’t compensate for poor-quality, mindless, and/or inconsistent food intake”

*This post was based on Brian St Pierre’s article “Is Nutrient Timing Dead?” for precisionnutrion.com