‘Living’ the Challenge, Strength training, Simple Treadmill Program

Hi and welcome to another week,

I had a great week of training last week.  I managed to squeeze in a class every day – getting in four (4) boxing sessions as well as a TANKS session and a Body Work class.  I have been really enjoying getting the chance to train at 5pm on a Tuesday afternoon (I take the boxing sessions all day but only Starting Strength and TANKS at night) and have just been finding it so motivating training with a large group of people.  It is funny – just the change of time-slot from my usual lunch-time training time is a real challenge (both physical and mental) and I have really felt some great benefits from the change in training times!

With the Whole Life Challenge over (more about this in the ‘Gym Update #1) I wanted to reflect a little bit on my own experiences completing the challenge for the third time.  Saying ‘Challenge’ seems strange to me now – and this is primarily because I have basically abstained from grains, starches and dairy since the last challenge ended…so the only real ‘challenge’ was dropping sugar for the month (which for me means dropping ice-cream for the month) and dropping alcohol for the month.  It is funny though – whilst these simple changes should be relatively straightforward, the challenge did make me realise that I had been allowing my once per week ice cream fix to become a two or three time per week ice-cream fix…big mistake!  Big mistake.  Isn’t it amazing how quickly things can get away from us, how quickly little ‘treats’ can become habits we follow every day – and how hard those habits are to break.  Of course, the second the challenge was over I was back to buy more icecream so it will be interesting to see how that goes for me moving forward!

I was thinking about what I would write about my challenge experience – and was really struggling because beyond the icecream I really didn’t have to do much of anything different to ‘stick to it’.  But then I opened up the latest copy of my favourite journal – ‘The Performance Menu’ – which had an article that summarised my experiences almost exactly…but I am talking about my experiences as they relate to trying to follow a WLC-like diet all the time.  The article is called ‘Hacking Paleo with Patrick Vlaskovits’, it was written by Yael Grauer and you can find it starting on page 15 of the November issue of the magazine.

In the article, the author talks with ‘PaleoHacks’ founder Patrick Vlaskovits about maintaining a ‘Paleo-like’ lifestyle in the ‘REAL’ world.  That is, a world where you have committed to some ‘difficult’ eating choices whilst trying to go to work, attend business lunches, deal with kids and their sporting events etc – basically, a world where you will often be surrounded by food options that might be easy but don’t fit in with your own dietary choices.  Patrick makes five (5) key points in the article:

If you know you are going to be somewhere that ‘poor’ food choices will be in abundance – then make sure you eat BEFORE you go out.  In other words, if you know that all that is available from the canteen down at football or netball are pies and hotdogs, then make sure you either eat a tuna salad before you go or simply pack one in a lunch-box.  Sure, it isn’t as easy as handing over $5 for a pie – but it is easy enough if you think ahead and are committed to your health.

Beer is yummy (so yummy) but it isn’t very good for you.  If you are going to drink, try not to drink beer – have a spirit (or even two) mixed with soda water (not something sugary) and try not to drink them too close to bed time.

Pizza tastes great.  So do lots of other fast foods – but before you eat them, remember how lethargic you felt afterwards last time you indulged.  Don’t let the short-term promise of taste over-ride what you know will be a couple of days of feeling tired and down on energy.  The short-term ‘win’ just isn’t worth it.

Live life – if it is a ‘special’ occasion, cheat away.  Everyone has times where they should say ‘what the hell’ and if you are living life on the straight and narrow, occasional indulgences wont do you much (if any) damage.

Most importantly (in my view anyway) it isn’t a religion so don’t preach.  If someone wants to talk about your food choices – great – talk to them about it.  But if everyone is eating sandwiches, don’t kick up a fuss – just have a salad instead.  And if there isn’t a choice, eat the salad from between the bread!  Live and let live – make your choices and allow others to make theirs.

If you are interested in reading the whole article (which I promise is way better than my abridged version) as well as a tonne of other awesome content go to ‘The Performance Menu’ website which you can find here:  http://www.performancemenu.com .

See you at Round 1,

Michael.

Gym Update #1 – Whole Life Challenge – It’s OVER!

Congratulations to everyone who got through the latest WLC.  Once again some tremendous results have been posted – the largest weight loss we have seen is 8.1kg with the average change for those people who finished the challenge and had their measurements taken being slightly ‘up’ on last time @ 4.7kgs (last time was just under 4.6kgs).  In addition, consistent drops in measurements (both tape measure and skinfolds) have been recorded and I am very happy to say that almost every person who was issued a skinfold ‘challenge’ was able to achieve their goal.

To all the participants, I hope you got out of it what you wanted – and I further hope that you remain focussed on your diet and nutrition going forward.  There is no point spending a month dedicated to eating well, training well and recovering through a stretching program if you are simply going to revert to old habits in November.  Stick at it and reap the long-term benefits.

To those people who didn’t ‘challenge’ but are interested in the sort of results I mentioned above – it is easy!  No grains (NONE at all), No Dairy (NONE at all), No Alcohol (NONE at all), No STARCHES (yep, including potato) and NO SWEETENERS of ANY KIND (and this basically means you cant eat or drink anything that has been pre-packaged).  So…what do I eat I hear you ask?  Well, you eat meat and fish, you eat eggs, you eat LOADS of vegetables, a little bit of fruit and a few nuts occasionally.  You stretch every day, you do some exercises a few times a week and get some decent sleep…

Need more help?  Check out this link http://robbwolf.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/thePaleoSolution_QuickStart.pdf or – even better, just buy this book:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Paleo-Solution-Original-Human/dp/0982565844

Gym Update #2 – Starting Strength Progressions

Just a quick note about our Starting Strength classes.  Over the past 3 months or so the participants have learned the basics about how to squat, dead lift, bench press, overhead press and row – as well as a couple of miscellaneous kettlebell manoeuvres!  They have also learned that if you want to get ‘strong’ – carrying around some kettlebells (by your sides or over-head) and pushing the sled up and down the gym are really great ways to do it.

Once you know the basic techniques for the primary barbell movements – the aforementioned squats, dead lifts, bench press etc – it becomes pretty simple to put together a 30minute ‘Get Stronger’ workout.  It looks something like this:

Simple warm-up to start.  Get moving, get mobile.  Use the summit trainer, jump on a rower – just spend 5 minutes ‘moving’.

Warm-up for lifting by either performing some body-weight drills or starting your lift with an empty bar.  For example, if Bench Press is your focus of the day, do 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions (focussing entirely on consistent form) with an empty bar.  If you are focussing on squats, follow the same protocol but (obviously) do squats rather than bench press.

Once all of this is done you should be warm and ready to go.  You will have spent 10-12 minutes ‘getting ready’ and now have 20 minutes of pretty solid effort ahead of you.  The session will look like this:

Start with 5 repetitions of your ‘core’ exercise – squats/deadlifts etc (whatever you have chosen for this day).  Start with approximately 50-60% of your ‘maximum’ weight on the bar for this lift.

Push the sled up and down the gym once.

Perform a kettlebell carry up and down the driveway.

Add some more weight to the barbell – increase the weight by approx. 10-15% each time – and repeat the mini-circuit.  By the time you have done around eight (8) sets, you will be approaching your maximum weight – and you will be approaching the 20 minutes duration that the workout should take.  I would suggest once you exceed 80% of your maximum weight for each lift you should drop your repetitions down from 5 to 3 per set.

If you have a bit more time, you could add something ‘extra’ to the work-out – perhaps perform some box-jumps, maybe some dead ball slams or medicine ball throws – try to make the ‘extra’ exercise something explosive and therefore a bit different.

You don’t need a lot of equipment or even a tonne of time to become fitter and stronger.  What you do need is a little bit of knowledge and to get ‘organised’.  If you need some help with the lifts – some assistance so you can get started on the track to become stronger and more mobile – then maybe ‘Starting Strength’ is the class for you?

Gym Update #3 – New Treadmills are HERE – Quick Treadmill program!

I mentioned last week that our new treadmills are in – along with some new medicine balls and other stuff.  Whilst I am looking forward to getting the new medballs back in the classes NEXT week, I thought I would include a quick 15min treadmill plan in this weeks blog for those people looking to up things ahead of summer:

First – run for 3 minutes at a pretty relaxed pace – maybe at a speed of 8.5 or 9.

Next – up that speed to something a little more challenging for 2-minutes – maybe up to 10.5.

Then we really get started.  Increase the incline up to level 5 and push the speed to a point where it is REALLY uncomfortable – this might be 12.5 for some people, but for others it might be up to 17 or 18!  When you have done this, what you are going to do is complete 10 x TABATA efforts on the treadmill.  This means running for 20 seconds, followed by ‘resting’ for 10 seconds.  When you rest, simply grab hold of the support handles on the side of the treadmill and ‘jump’ your feet off onto the sides.

When you have completed your 10 efforts (5 minutes worth), drop back to an incline of ‘0’ and run steadily for 3 minutes to finish at a speed of around 9.5 or 10.

Have fun!

Gym Update #4 – 6pm Sessions Monday Nights + Gym Use

We are continuing with our change to the Monday night booking system – with no casual bookings being accepted for the 6pm class.  This session is consistently our most popular of the week and as such we have made the decision to limit it to MEMBERS ONLY.  As mentioned last week, this is not a decision we wanted to make – creating an inclusive environment that allows people to train at Round 1 as ‘casual users’ has been a key element of the gym since we opened – but there are still 11 other time-slots on a Monday when non-members can train so we hope it doesn’t inconvenience too many people out there.

One other thing on casual users – we had a policy last summer that access to the ‘gym’ (not classes) would be exclusive to members from 4pm through until 8pm.  This policy will be re-introduced from THIS WEEK.

Facebook Highlights

Some great stuff on our FACEBOOK site last week.  Thanks to everyone for the photos and those little comic things – it has been great seeing everyone having a bit of fun (even if it is mostly at my expense!).  There were also some good links posted and I have included some of these below:

Kettles, bodyweight and a timer – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrEY7B9cSOk

Warm-Up:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTBbRnHjNFU

9 mistakes and how to overcome them:  http://breakingmuscle.com/strength-conditioning/9-strength-training-mistakes-weve-all-made-and-how-to-fix-them

Lift big, Eat big – Mobility: http://www.liftbigeatbig.com/2012/10/mobility-for-sitting-on-your-ass-all-day.html?spref=fb

Support Michael Beatty during MOVEMBER:  http://au.movember.com/mospace/3517961

Sweden’s low-carb decision: http://healthimpactnews.com/2013/sweden-becomes-first-western-nation-to-reject-low-fat-diet-dogma-in-favor-of-low-carb-high-fat-nutrition/

Enjoy!

Link of the week

After quoting some PaleoHacks info in the opening of the blog I figured I should give you an idea of some of the great content available on that site.  This link provides some simple ideas related to keeping sugar out of your diet.

http://blog.paleohacks.com/12-ways-cut-sugar-diet/

See you in the gym!

Michael.