My Personal 10 Commandments for a Healthy Life

  1. Aim to hit a 20% calorie deficit across the week. Find a system for doing this and stick to it- don’t be swayed by new fads. My system is to eat to Paleo principles (not strict Paleo) 4 days a week and then allow myself three days where I can enjoy treats (read cake).
  2. Start your calorie week on a Friday. You are more likely to have a calorie surpluss at the weekend – this allows you Monday to Thursday to pull back and still hit that 20% weekly calorie deficit if that does happen and stops you feeeling like you are being overly restricted.
  3. Eat at least 2g protein per kg body weight every day (for me 160g). This will make you feel full, help your body recover from training and means Carbs and Fat will look after themselves.
  4. Drink 3.5 litres water a day (this is based on based on 30ml water per kg of body weight plus 500 ml for every hour of exercise – I just average out based on my normal training week).
  5. Drink a max of 3 coffees per day.
  6. Take a multi vitamin and fish oil supplement every day.
  7. Have a little bit of dark chocolate each day when on your period if you suffer with cramps (magnesium can help relax muscles reducing cramps, and sugar can boost your serotonin levels which can drop – hence feeling like you want to cry). I believe Kale can also help reduce cramping but for some reason doesn’t hold the same appeal as chocolate!
  8. Train in a way that suits your life and your week. I don’t lift as heavy as many and my sessions are shorter than most people I know – but they fit into my working life allowing me to stay consistent enough to see results. If it’s going to be tough one week to fit in your training – adjust your plans to feel successful.
  9. Stretch every day.
  10. Get up 30 minutes early and develop a morning routine that helps set you up for the day. I like to get some day light, drink a large glass of water and read a chapter of a book (as I don’t get much ‘me’ time during the rest of he day).

Credit – Ricky Long, who bullied me into most of these things – but they work!

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What (I think) you need to know before you do your ETM / First IMT

I don’t mean how the course is structured, what it will cover or what you need to do to pass.

This isn’t what you need to know.

I mean the important things – the things no one tells you – the things I wish I’d have known the first time I went on each of these!

ETM

  • You will spend approx 6 weeks grapevining. Constantly.
  • To bad music.
  • And by bad music – I mean the type of music I love- I loved the sound track for my ETM. I believe I am in a minority of one on this.
  • You will get DOMS – specifically in your calf’s (blame the above grapevining).
  • On day one you will realise that moving to the beat is one thing. Talking at the same time? Different matter.
  • It’s ok though because on day 2 you’ll start to get the hang of this.
  • You will start putting together your assessment class and decide a knee repeater is the best move ever and design your whole routine around it. It’s going to b the most creative ETM routine EVER. A masterpiece.
  • Then you’ll realise how hard it is to find five progressions for a repeater knee and pick another move. Any move.  Probably the box step.
  • In fact you will have a grapevine and box step in your routine – I’m willing to put money on it.
  • The practical days are long.
  • On day one you will take a packed lunch of spinach and carrot juice. Because fitness instructors are healthy.  And role models.
  • On day two you will take bread and Haribo. Because bread and Haribos will ensure your survival.
  • You will start to consider injecting coffee into your eyeballs as the weeks progress.
  • You will bribe friends into letting you practice on them.
  • They will tell you how amazing you are doing. Even though you’re still shit at this stage.
  • You will cry. At least once.
  • And by once I mean probably at least once a day.
  • On the assessment day you will do your assessment plus take part in several others. Everyone there will be slightly shell shocked with how hard 3 hours of old school aerobics actually is.  I return to your calf’s.  You will probably cry.

IMT (Les Mills)

  • You will spend more time learning your allocated track than you ever spend learning entire releases going forward.
  • You will write a script that Shakespeare would be in awe of ahead of your first presentation.
  • During the first morning you will realise you need to say completely different things to what you’ve scripted and have to start again.
  • You are going to have to introduce yourself and your mind will go completely blank when you try to recall an interesting fact about yourself. Everyone else will do the same and you will think you are the most boring group of people in existence.
  • You will remember the magic powers of Haribo (pic n mix also works well as do Jelly Babies) from ETM and will have come prepared this time.
  • Remember coffee? Yep still vital.
  • You probably signed up to do this course because you thought you were OK at the class right? Wrong – the technique session will convince you otherwise.
  • You will second guess any answer you go to give to any question – What is a layer 1 coaching cue for a squat? What would you say in a class introduction for Body Combat? What is your name? No idea mate.
  • You will feel like you are about to fall asleep around about 3 pm both days – hello Haribos.
  • You want to be perfect. You will panic because you aren’t – you will probably not pass because you definitely don’t move like Lisa O or Rachel.  You do not need to panic about this.  I mean you don’t move like them but you don’t need to.
  • There is an exam on Les Mills on day 2 (kind of)!
  • You are going to have to get used to group selfies. Because these are part of instructor life and if you don’t have a selfie at the end of a course they don’t update your result on the portal so

DVD Submission (Les Mills)

  • Passing the IMT will definitely be the hardest part right? Erm sorry mate but no.
  • Nobody likes filming for certification – but there’s no way round it, not even bribery, I’ve tried!
  • You will practice and script this release to the point you will be able to teach it off the cuff for the rest of your natural life- and probably for several years after you die.
  • Then as soon as the camera is on you will mess up the first rep of the warm up. Even though you can teach this in your sleep.
  • You will film on average 276 times before you are happy with it to submit for your first programme. This number reduces dramatically as the number of programmes you teach grows.
  • Someone will walk in half way through the warm up. They will probably position themselves in front of the camera.
  • It is the law to wear full on Reebok for these filmings. If you wear Combat gear for a Pump DVD or vice versa you will be put on a special watch list and may not pass.
  • The camera will probably stop recording half way through the class- this will be the class that is perfect and you would have definitely submitted on.
  • It may take you several weeks to get a filming you are happy with. It will then take you six months to upload it onto the portal.
  • During this time you will come across Jon from the office. We like Jon.
  • When you pass if you don’t post your certificate on Facebook with an Oscar Style thank you speech they withdraw certification (perhaps).

*Please note some of this “may”be a bit tounge in cheek

Today’s Workout

Just because it was a good one…

Bent Over Rows

9/7/5/3/5/7/9 with 30/35/40/45/45/40/40kg

Chest Press

9/7/5/3/5/7/9 with 30/35/40/45/45/40/40kg

Pull Ups (assisted) followed by Thrusters

21/15/9 with (30kg up to 35kg for 9)

5 Front Squats / 10 Thrusters / 20 Back Squats

x 5 with 30kg

Thank you to @rickylong42 for the workout. You can get ideas for workouts in his Facebook Training Room https://www.facebook.com/groups/243767835762478/

What I did for Lunch Today

Well obviously I went to the gym.  This blog is about the gym so I was hardly likely to be writing about anything else!

I like using my lunch times for a workout.  I’m lucky to have a basic gym onsite at work so I can do some form of training instead of just sitting on my bum and eating cake.  Sometimes I’ll go for a run instead, and today I was tempted because we are having the first nice weather in months but in the end I decided to train inside.

This was largely as I’ve had a tough week mentally.  Work has been stressful, learning new Les Mills stuff has drained me and time wise I’ve been limited and so I have got to Thursday without having done a single workout (I’ve taught 8 classes but no actual ‘me’ training to speak of) so I felt I needed to do a decent weights based session to avoid falling into a slump and went in with just the intention of getting myself moving again.

I had 45 minutes – this is what I did:

Alt Lunges 10/8/6/4/2/15/15- two 12kg dumbbells.

I hate lunges – I suspect I have at some point in the past broken my left toe and so the range of movement in it is poor and I struggle with range on that side.

Then

12 Cleans

9 Rows

6 Cleans

3 Push Press

X 10  sets with 60 seconds rest between sets – 25kg bar

This was a forearm killer.  Although it wasn’t a heavy bar the sheer number of reps (180 cleans, 90 rows and 30 push press) took me to the point of fatigue and by the end of the session I was sweating without doing a single second of cardio.   

Now I’ve got a proper workout in this week I feel so much better.  It’s made me want to eat better today compared to the last couple of days and coupled with the weather I feel so much more brighter an positive.

Life lesson- if you are feeling a bit rubbish getting moving (and by moving I mean whatever type of activity you enjoy and will make you feel good) and eating some decent food is a great way to start making yourself feel better.

*Workout designed by Ricky Long @rickylong42

HIIT: What, Why, How

 

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been big in gym land for a while now.  Most people who train will have probably tried to incorporate some form of HIIT training into their programm

The main selling point to HIIT is it can provide maximum benefits in a relatively short time period.  It consists of short maximum effort bursts of work repeated with even shorter periods of rest in between.  Generally, a HIIT session would take no longer than 20 – 40 minutes and you can do almost any type of exercise depending on what your focus is that session.

Pros to HIIT training include:

  • Increased fitness – stamina, strength, endurance, agility etc.
  • Promotion of muscle growth due to the increased production of testosterone
  • Increased fat burn
  • Calorie burn not only during the workout but also for several hours after

With the rise of HIIT training within the gym it is natural that HIIT based classes have also become popular and are a great place to try this type of training out, so if you are thinking of trying a class here’s some pointers on what’s out there and what to expect:

  • The number of different options is huge! You could try Les Mills Grit Series, Beachbody’s Insanity, Mettafit, Virgin’s Twentyfour to name a few.  Most gyms will also have freestyle HIIT classes on their timetable (under the name of HIIT or Extreme Intervals or similar)
  • Many HIIT classes will be based around body weight exercises but not all will (Les Mills do a GRIT Plyo and GRIT Strength which used benches and barbells), I do HIIT Group Cycle classes.
  • They are designed to be hard and push you to your limit. People worry about going to classes that look ‘hard’ because they fear they will look unfit.  The truth is as you get fitter you should be pusher harder so the class should always feel ‘hard’.
  • Another truth is that nobody will be looking at you. It’s human nature to be a bit nervous about the potential embarrassment of doing something we might not be very good at but to be honest most people are too wrapped up in what they are doing to notice the person next to them!  I’ve seen someone slip (not badly, it’s ok!) as they were going for it during a class and not one person surrounding them so much as stopped what they were doing or looked over to them – they were concentrating on their workout- so you’d be surprised how unintimidating the classes are once you’ve got passed the initial walking into the room stage!
  • A final truth is that to get better at things you aren’t great at you have to actually do them. So no, you might not be able to nail every move the first time you try a class (and we are talking any class here) but you have to start somewhere to improve.
  • The classes are designed to push you to your edge – but they will be inclusive. When you start out a squat burpee tuck jump may not be attainable and body weight squats might be enough to push you to your limit.  With time and persistence, you will progress and whilst that progression happens the instructor will be able to provide you with options to push you.  Working to your limits is the aim – don’t compare yourself to anyone else.
  • Technique is key. Listen to the instructor and focus on execution of moves over speed – speed will come with time.  Results will come from doing moves well.

A final word of warning – Don’t over do it.  Studies have shown that HIIT has great benefits – however it also puts a reasonable amount of stress on your body so you ideally want to be aiming for no more than three HIIT sessions a week for maximum results.

  • If you take part in HIIT sessions four or more times a week your body will not have sufficient recovery time and you will start to negate the benefits
  • Excessive HIIT training can actually result in muscle loss and create hormonal imbalance – when the Central Nervous System gets stressed the production of testosterone can decrease and your body can start to store fat rather than loose it.
  • HIIT is hard so naturally there is a small increase in the risk of Injury the more you take part
  • Quick bursts of work can help improve stamina but if it is all you ever do it won’t help improve endurance much. A well balanced training plan with a variety of training methods will yield greater results.
  • Online coach Ricky Long (check him out on Instagram @rickylong42) suggests using HIIT a couple of times a week as part of your programme for 6-10 weeks followed by a couple of weeks away from HIIT, sticking to more steady state training to allow the body to replenish.

So ultimately- try HIIT but like everything in life don’t over do it and be sensible!

What I do in the gym …

Sometimes you look at a workout on paper and know it will hurt. For instance here’s a little example of an average training session provided by Ricky Long of RickFitNI…

1km row … (ok I think to myself)…

Followed by ‘ light Grace’ (30 clean and presses with 20kg) … (fair enough i think).

THREE TIMES.

THREE TIMES!!!!

INSERT SWEAR WORD HERE (now i am slightly less looking forward to this)!!!

Now i’m not a huge fan of rowing but it was doable, lifting the bar straight after however hurt! By the last set my shoulders were in bits!

But i was not done…

21/15/9 of dumbbell rows and dumbbell push press.

This sounds ok except, when you’ve just rowed 3km and done 90 clean and presses, a tin of beans would feel heavy.

I used 2 10kg dumbbells.

They felt heavy!

To finish this monster of an upperbody workout i did a 15 minute AMRAP:

200m row

20 push ups

20 clean and presses with 15kg

I got 3 rounds and a 99m row in.Not great. Best i could do though.

I wanted to cry.

But at the end of it i felt good. LOTS of upperbody work, lots of conditioning.

I do 4 sessions like this a week and my fitness has improved dramatically as a result (as has my body composition!). No body part splits just lots and lots of big moves that work lots of muscles each session.

Tip – For free workout ideas check out RickFit Training Room on Facebook (and sign up for the daily emails too!)