Fitness

The Next Chapter of My Fitness Journey

Now that I’m done with bodybuilding competitions… What’s next?

Well as discussed in one of my earlier posts, fitness is made up of several components:

  • Body composition 5compnents
  • Cardiovascular endurance
  • Muscular strength
  • Muscular endurance
  • Flexibility

I have learned a lot about one of them – body composition.

Now it’s time to explore some of the other aspects of of fitness: flexibility and muscular strength.

So over the next weeks, as I go through a little detox from the bodybuilding diet, I will also sign up for yoga and dance classes to improve my flexibility.

Of course, there is always the need for some more explosive action, so in order to improve my muscular strength, I plan to begin crossfit and powerlifting training.

Yep, I am definitely ready to enjoy a more whole-food, plant based diet and a different challenge in the gym.

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But first, I will enjoy another week of rest and all sorts of healthy & unhealthy treats! Everybody deserves a break right?

WW

Fitness

Workout of the Week: Legs

Ah, the joy of training legs! Big muscles, big effort, big pain – yet big satisfaction! No other workout makes me feel better then getting through a leg session.

  1. Superset:
    1. Single leg lying hamstring curl – 4 sets x12 reps each leg; temp: 3secs down, 1sec pause, explode up, 2secs pause (squeeze); rest 10 secs
    2. Lying hamstring curl – 4 sets x12 reps; tempo: 3secs down, 1sec pause, explode up, 2secs pause (squeeze); rest 60 secs
  2. 45 degree leg press (low and close foot placement) – 4 sets x15 reps; tempo: 4secs down, 2secs pause (bottom position), 4secs up; rest 60
  3. Superset:
    1. Glute kickback machine – 3 sets x15 reps; tempo: 3secs up, 2 secs pause (squeeze), 3secs down, 1sec pause; rest 10 secs
    2. Back Extension (Glute/ Hamstring focus) – 3 sets x10 reps; 3secs down, 1sec pause, explode up, 2secs pause (squeeze); rest 60; last set triple drop set till failure
Fitness

Workout of the Week: Triceps & Biceps

Women shouldn’t workout arms? Said who? If you want to be in the best shape ever, you can’t leave a single body part behind!

 

  1. Single Arm Cable Tricep Extension – 3 sets x15 reps each arm; tempo: 3secs up (release), 1sec pause, explosive pull down, 2secs squeeze.
  2. Superset:
    1. Barbell Tricep Press – 4 sets x8-10 reps; tempo: 4secs down, 2secs pause, 4secs up, 1sec pause.
    2. Overhead Tricep Rope Extension – 4 sets x10-12 reps; tempo: 3secs down (release), 3secs pause at the bottom, explosive pull up, 1sec pause.
  3. Standing Rope Pulldown – 3 sets x15-20 reps; tempo: 2secs up (release), 1sec pause, 2secs down, 2secs squeeze.
  4. Machine Preacher Curl (last set is drop set) – 4 sets x15 reps; tempo: 3secs down (release), 1sec pause, explode up, 3secs (squeeze).
  5. Superset:
    1. Standing Hammer Curl – 3 sets x20 reps; tempo: 2secs up, 1sec pause, 2secs down, 1sec pause.
    2. Rope Bicep Curl with External Supination – 3 sets x8-10 reps; tempo: 3secs down (release), 1sec pause, explode up, 3secs squeeze.
Motivation

Beginner’s Guide Part 3: Understanding Individual Strength Differences

 

By Elliott Speed

A gym can be a very daunting place. There are many people that are intimidated by the thought of the gym. Even I, like most others, have been in this position.

The notion of not knowing what exercises to do and how to do them, especially with the new state-of-the-art equipment is enough to prevent people from entering a gym.

Once in a gym it is very difficult to keep your eyes off those around you, and it is very easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others which can very often hinder your results. This also applies to social media.

Today social media is the most popular form of contact for the majority of people. It is also one of the main sources for people to educate themselves and give an insight into their lives.

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In the fitness industry social media is the main source of advertisement for both athletes and companies. This has a very detrimental effect on those looking to start their fitness journey as most of the well known fitness athletes are in incredible shape. This makes many people feel self conscious.

Apart from body shape, strength is one of the main things people compare in a gym. Looking around to see how much others are lifting and comparing that to our own strength abilities is a common thought process and this can make us feel weak and unfit.

Yet, it is important to keep in mind that strength is very dependent on your goals. If you want to be a powerlifter then yes, strength is an important factor for you. But if your goals are building muscle or toning then strength is not so vital.

In the beginning, it is important to teach your body how to contract a muscle throughout each repetition on every exercise. Lifting the weight through a controlled movement for a full range of motion is much more beneficial than picking a weight above your ability and throwing it around with improper form. This is also a good way to injure yourself.

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But there are more reasons why  you should not to compare yourself to others in the gym:

1. The people you are comparing yourself with are usually complete strangers, meaning you do not know their background. These people may have an extensive sporting background, which has allowed them to become stronger and more coordinated over a  period of time.

2. It is impossible to know how they train. They may not have a 9-5 job or a family and kids, meaning they may train numerous times throughout the day.

3. They may have a fitness coach. Training and diet programmes are extremely important for achieving results, meaning a person will progressively become stronger over long periods of time – after all consistency is key!

4. People progress at different rates. Everyone is unique – each individual has their strengths and weaknesses.

In my opinion it is important to acknowledge this last point and the need to work at improving your weaknesses. Many people also fall into the trap of training the body parts they are strongest in and those parts where they have previously got the fastest results from training.

Don’t let it discourage you if you see someone doing your heaviest squat for several reps – it takes time and you must be patient. Work hard at turning your weaknesses into strengths and one day your heaviest weight now will be your warm up!

Do not always compare yourself to others. When it comes to training you must be extremely focused on yourself. Only concentrate on your improvements and never feel inadequate training next to someone else.

Your fitness journey is extremely personal and everyone at one time or another was at the beginning of their journey, exactly the same as you. It is true that some have a natural ability to improve and become stronger at a faster rate, however nothing beats hard work and in time you will become stronger.
Motivation

My Weekly Update – 3 Weeks Out!

Here we are at the end of the 4th week before my comp… 3 more weekends and then it’s show time!

Training

Things have remained largely unchanged from last week. I still do weight training 6 days a week and on the 7th day I do 40 mins steady cardio. My workouts usually involve about 6 exercises with light to medium weights or sometimes even bodyweight. The focus is more on the contraction of the muscles. I see a lot more definition as my body gets more toned – check out my triceps  below!

My weight & body composition have remained more or less stable. Anyways the hour or so in the gym is the easy part! Now let’s talk about food…

Nutrition

There have been no changes to my diet this week. This can be a good and a bad thing. THe good part is that I still do have carbs (rice & sweet potato). The bad part is that I started getting bored with my food. I’m sure anyone on comp prep or a transformation journey can understand – there is only so much chicken and broccoli that you can eat 😀

So this boredom has inspired me to look for alternative ways to spice up my food. Some have been more successful than others. What I would like to share with you this week is my discovery of veggie chips / crisps.

There’s quite a few options out there, but I personally liked the broccoli crisps. I also tried some raw spinach & pumpkin crunchies and dried kale chips. They definitely make veggies more attractive, however do be mindful that some may be high in fat (if fried) or salty flavourings.

 

Lifestyle / The Mind Game

Once again, I’m continued to be blessed with a pretty average week at work. Although the intensity is building up, I’m not working flat out… yet!

Mentally I went through a dip this week. I began to question why I was doing this – so much effort just to be judged on stage for a few minutes by people who did not see me sweat or eat salmon at 6am (when all I wanted was a bowl of muesli 😦 ).

But then again, I am not a quitter. I set this personal goal and I surpassed my expectations during my first comp. It only seemed right to accept this invitation to step on an even bigger stage and face even fiercer competitors.

Of course, having someone to talk to is key. Talking to my coach made me realize that I am not the only one who struggles. So with the right support, I know I can face this challenge head on.

Like they say, you never know your limits unless you push yourself to them…

Fitness, Motivation

Q&A: How Can I Get Leaner Thighs?

It’s Thursday once again and time to answer another one of your questions 🙂

Question from @hana_mkb: How can I reduce the size of my thighs? I do follow a healthy diet + I walk every morning (brisk walking). I lost so much weight but my thighs are stubborn. What is the solution? And will having them for so many years will leave them loose and flabby after losing weight?

And this time the answer will be from Mark Doherty, personal trainer and performance nutritionist:

Hi there,

Thank you for your question. In my 20 years of working in the fitness industry this is one very common area I often get asked about from many females. Having stubborn fat can be very frustrating for anyone and it can be easy to blame genetics or hormones which may not be the case in most instances. It may merely be that the correct training and nutritional protocols are not being applied, and on a consistent basis for a long enough period of time.

So firstly let’s talk about training. The fastest way to change the shape of your body and boost your metabolic rate is to incorporate resistance training into your routine. Yes, that’s right it’s time to hit those weights, and I can promise you, you will not get bulky.

Let’s look at bikini competitors – it’s imperative that these ladies have nicely shaped legs and low body fat levels. They achieve this by training their legs anywhere from 1 to 3 times per week using resistance based movements. Exercises such as squats, leg presses, leg curls, stiff legged deadlift and lunges are crucial to this process.

If you are not currently doing this, it is really important you find a trainer that can take you through these exercises and help design a program catered towards your needs.

Secondly we need to ensure that your nutritional needs are being met to ensure fat loss and also to maintain lean muscle tissue. The most common error females make is dropping their calories way too low and doing way too much cardio.

My top tips for a fat loss diet are:

  • Create a calorie deficit (only a 5 to 10% deficit to start with)
  • Keep your protein consumption at 1gram of protein per pound of lean body mass
  • 90% of your diet should include one-ingredient, wholesome foods
  • Some people prefer carbohydrates and while others prefer fats. Find out what works best for you with the help of a certified nutritionist.
  • Ensure the plan is sustainable and fits into your lifestyle

One final point to take into consideration is that some females, even with the perfect diet and training program, may still struggle with fat loss in their leg/hip region. This may be due to an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone. In the past for these clients I have successfully used the supplement DIM (100mg per day). DIM has potent effects on estrogen metabolism and is able to keep the body’s estrogen levels relatively balanced.

I hope you found the above information helpful. Please feel free to contact us at Pinnacle Performance for a bespoke plan that is individualized to your needs.

Fitness

The Best Exercises to Activate Your Glutes

By Adrianna McDonald

There is a misconception that squats are a girl’s best friend when it comes to booty development. The truth is that squats are a multi-joint exercise and work the whole leg including the glutes but they shouldn’t be your primary glute exercise.

The glutes are a large muscle group and respond well to volume (high rep) training, so it would be wise to train these muscles specifically 2-3 times a week. The key is to add a variety of glute exercises and use body weight variation with progression to heavier weighted exercises.

The most important factor is to be able to contract the muscle and feel the burn in the right place with every repetition. Proper movement is crucial in getting the desired result. Don’t forget about changing the angle and the exercise position i.e horizontal, vertical, prone or supine. Below is the list of specific strengthening exercises, which in my opinion do wonders for glutes development:

  • Hip Thrust & Bridges

This is a far more superior exercise to squats or deadlifts when it comes to the glutes. There are different variations to this exercise and the more you do, the better. You can start with glute bridges if you haven’t tried the hip thrust yet and progress to single leg bridges, and then onto a weighted bridge (band, plate, barbell) and finally to a hip thrust using a step or bench. Some gyms are better equipped than others and you may even find specific hip thrust machine.

  • Kick backs

These are my favorite. In this exercise you can really feel your butt working and completely exclude the legs. The pure glute isolation lets you completely focus on form and quality. It has many variations from bodyweight, ankle weighted to cable and glute machine kickbacks. Make sure you use them all! (not in one workout though ;-))

  • Back extensions

This may be a new thing for you if you only performed this exercise to target your lower back. But trust me, this exercise can set your glutes on fire! It’s a very efficient way to increase metabolic stress and time under tension for the glutes. Just focus on engaging (a.k.a squeezing) the glutes. The load comes from front-to-back and it incorporates the upper glutes in addition to the lower glutes.

  • High step up

To recruit the glutes and hamstrings you have to place the majority of your weight on the to heel of your foot. At first try to master the eccentric (going down) phase of the exercise, taking at least 3 seconds to lower from the top to the bottom of the exercise.

Doing step-ups from a high box with the weight shifted to the heel is going to target your hamstrings and glutes more. The increased range of motion slows you down and provides more strength and stability benefits. But remember, just like with any exercise, you need to apply the principle of variations to your training to prevent plateaus. Start step-ups with your own body weight and increase the height before increasing the weight.

  • Reverse hyperextensions

Even though the reverse hyperextension is a bodyweight exercise, you still have the ability to increase the resistance by using ankle weights, a pendulum machine or holding a dumbbell or medicine ball between your feet. Remember: before you add any resistance, make sure you master your form.

To have a great feel of gluteal contraction this exercise has to be performed without flexing or extending the lumbar spine (your lower back). Reverse hypers have an extreme eccentric component if you perform the exercise correctly and stop the pendulum from pulling your lower back into flexion. With proper technique the glutes will contract very hard at the top of these movements at end-range hip extension.

As one of my favorite coaches says:

“Squats and lunges are the kings of quad exercises; deadlifts and good mornings are the kings of erector spinae exercises; hip thrusts and pendulum quadruped hip extensions are the kings of glute exercises; and weighted back extensions and glute ham raises are the kings of hamstring exercises.” – by Bret Contreras

Fitness

Workout of the Week: Shoulders

“As an IFBB pro bikini athlete, I know the importance of a pair of stacked shoulder caps. They’re the key to any well-rounded physique and can make your shoulders appear wider, your waist smaller, and your hips narrower. Strong shoulders mean balance, symmetry, and proportion.” – IFBB bikini pro athlete Brittany Tacy.

  1. Seated Lateral Raise -2 sets x15-20 reps; tempo: 3secs down, 1sec pause, explode up, 2secs squeeze; 45 secs rest between sets
  2. Seated Front Raise – 2 sets x15-20 reps; tempo: 3secs down, 1sec pause, explode up, 2secs squeeze; 45 secs rest between sets
  3. Smith Machine Press from Dead Stop (Small increase of weight with each set and the final set is drop set) – 5 sets x12-15 reps; tempo: 3secs up, 1sec pause, 3 secs down, 1sec pause, 60secs rest between sets
  4. Reverse Shoulder Press – 3 sets reps till failure (can’t do no more!); tempo: alternating between a slow rep (3secs up and 3 secs down) and a fast rep (explosive movement), 60secs rest between sets
  5. Superset:
    1. Seated Lateral Raise – 3 sets x20-25 reps; tempo: 2secs down, 1sec pause, explode up, 1sec pause; 30 secs rest between exercises
    2. Seated Front Raise –  sets x20-25 reps; tempo: 2secs down, 1sec pause, explode up, 1sec pause; 60secs rest between sets
Fitness

Beginner’s Guide Part 2: Avoid These 5 Mistakes if You are New to the Gym

By Alan Bichara

I was a beginner once at the gym as well and I started knowing very little or at least I thought I knew a lot, but turns out I had the wrong information from friends or the internet.

I will list down the 5 most common mistakes people make when they decide to finally start their fitness journey. I know I’m guilty of most of them, even after I got certified as a fitness professional!

1.Getting too excited

When people decide to finally start their fitness journey, they are more excited than kids going to a candy store, they believe that in the next month or first 10-12 sessions with their personal trainer that they will lose 10kgs and have the biggest transformation of their life, because if they can do it in “The Biggest Loser” TV show, then they can too, right? Big NO!

People don’t realize that the bad lifestyle they have acquired and are accustomed to for the past 3-5 or even 10 years cannot be reversed in just 1 month. You have to accept that this will be a lifestyle change for the better and it will hopefully teach you to live the rest of your life in a better and healthier YOU!

Part of being too excited is overstaying in the gym. Some beginners tend to stay 2 or even 3 hours in the gym and that is just too much to begin with. You will eventually burn-out and get sick of the gym. Keep your time in the gym short and intense and save it for the workout not for socializing, which can be very time-consuming. Get in, get your workout done, and leave, eat and recover, rinse and repeat.

2.Too heavy, too early

There are 2 ways that I know of that people tend to lean towards to when they start. It’s either they go too heavy and eventually get injured or the opposite, they don’t stimulate their body enough and they end up wasting the first 6 months looking like the same person when they first walked in.

I honestly don’t mind the latter of these 2 – like I said it is a lifestyle change and it’s a long process so I would prefer staying on the safe side even with slower results rather than pushing too much and getting injured.

3.Form? What form?

Connected to number 2, the reason people don’t get results or get injured is because they don’t focus on the form or technique. There are proper ways to perform all exercises. In general, the safest way is to start light and go slow (literally). Concentrate on the muscle you are working. This way you can lessen the risk of injuring yourself.

For example, if you are feeling your shoulders when you chest press, then you aren’t doing it right. You are probably pushing your shoulders and not keeping your shoulder blades retracted.

The saying “NO PAIN, NO GAIN” doesn’t apply to joints, but only to muscles. Usually the “pain” should be a slight burn due to lactic acid build-up during the workout or due to DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) 24-48hrs post-workout.

Even fitness professionals sometimes commit mistakes when performing certain exercises and it takes a lot of practice to know how to activate certain muscle groups to perform the exercise correctly. But there are ways to learn without hurting  yourself – remember to keep the weights light and the movement slow and controlled.

4.Not having a Plan

Once you start your fitness journey and go to the gym almost everyday feeling excited, motivated and dedicated to change how you look and feel, you start doing things and pushing as hard as you can. And then you might hit a dead end and ask yourself “Where am I headed?”, and this is a good time and assess what your goal is and make a plan to reach it.

Lose 10kgs in 6 months, right before your 40th bday? Possible, but how will you reach it? By eating whole foods and doing 30-60mins of activity everyday. That is an example of a general plan. You can be more specific as well and maybe list down what those whole foods are and break them down into daily meals, or schedule your activities: is it running at the park, joining a group exercise class, or just lift some weights?

It also helps to have a notepad with you or on your phone to record your activities and diet. It can be hard to remember the exercises, weights, sets and reps after a while so keeping notes on this can help you a lot in measuring your progress.

You don’t want to be fluctuating with your performance. There are certain times during proper program scaling where you can drop the weights to a lower intensity but most of the time you either want the same weights you did last time or heavier.

This also applies for your food. Years of bad eating habits have made people very numb or forgetful. You can easily forget the donut or the muffin they had with their morning coffee for example and still ask why you are not losing weight. Write it down and you can be surprised of what goes in your mouth most of the time. This takes me to the last point – nutrition.

5.Nutrition

The most important part of your fitness journey is nutrition. The reason you are out of shape is because of the bad diet that you got used to through the years, and as much as I don’t want to say it (because telling people what not to do can make them very defensive), for the first 2 months I would really recommend not eating any junk or processed food.

Most probably you will starve at first and realize how dependent you are on processed food. But starving is never the end goal – replace your meals with fresh whole foods, lots of veggies, some protein, some fruits, and a little fat. That is usually my general rule in nutrition. Remember you can never out-train a bad diet, you can’t decide to just go 3hrs in the gym and keep on eating junk.

So there you go, the 5 most common mistakes beginners make. I hope this can help you or your family and friends who want to start a healthier stage in their life.

Motivation

Workout of the week: Back

As we are getting closer to my competition, I’ll be sharing with you the full workouts I do with my trainer.

Let’s start with one of my favourites 🙂 The back workout:

 

  1. Single Arm Cable Lat Pulldown – 3 sets x15 reps each arm; tempo: 3secs down, 1sec pause, 3 secs up, 1 sec pause.
  2. Hammer Low Row – 4 sets x15 reps; tempo: 4secs up (release), 1sec pause, explosive pull, 3secs pause (squeeze).
  3. Seated Cable Row (with rope) – 4 sets x15 reps; tempo: 4secs down (release), 1sec pause, explosive pull, 3secs pause (squeeze).
  4. Hammer Single Arm Supinated Pulldown – 4 sets x15 reps each arm; tempo: 3secs down, 1sec pause, explosive pull, 3secs pause (squeeze).
  5. Precor Machine Seated Row (neutral grip) – 3 sets x30 reps; tempo: 2secs down, 1sec pause, explosive pull, 2secs pause (squeeze).