IT’S ALL A GAME…

The horrible truth is that all of this fitness business really starts with a promise.

A promise to expect more from yourself than you currently do.

To hold yourself to a higher standard than you currently do.

To unapologetically and without a shred of compromise live the rest of your life as the strongest version of yourself.

I say this is a horrible truth because promises are scary. That’s why we have such a hard time keeping them with other people, but more importantly with ourselves.

This seemly gargantuan promise of committing to a better life isn’t actually one promise but a series of promises that you hold yourself accountable to each and every day.

And with that in mind, lets take a look at what I have come to refer to as the ‘Game of Promises’.

So, yes. It is a massive Game of Thrones rip off… but hey – I said I was passionate, not inventive.

And at the risk of belabouring the point, the ‘Game of Promises’ is also played for keeps.

Promises, if nothing else, are simply an oath of accountability. I have mentioned time and time again, accountability is the foundation of compliance. And compliance is the foundation of success.

No one ever got the body they wanted by accident.

But no one ever got the life they wanted by accident either.

In older and some might say wiser times, an oath meant everything. To break an oath to ones brothers, family, kinsman, or lord, would result in shame, banishment, and sometimes even death.

But the presence of a life built around oaths created an opportunity for amazing feats of strength and loyalty.

In Japan there is a story of forty seven samurai who upon the murder of their master, took ritual vengeance in his name, declared themselves to be Ronin (masterless samurai) and took their own lives in Seppuku. Rather than be dishonoured, and forced to serve another masters.

“The story tells of a group of samurai who were left leaderless (becoming rōnin) after their daimyō (feudal lord) Asano Naganori was compelled to perform seppuku (ritual suicide) for assaulting a court official named Kira Yoshinaka, whose title was Kōzuke no suke. After waiting and planning for a year, the rōnin avenged their master’s honor by killing Kira. In turn, they were themselves obliged to commit seppuku for committing the crime of murder. This true story was popularized in Japanese culture as emblematic of the loyalty, sacrifice, persistence, and honor that people should preserve in their daily lives. The popularity of the tale grew during the Meiji era, in which Japan underwent rapid modernization, and the legend became entrenched within discourses of national heritage and identity.”Kanadehon, Columbia University

Now, while I am not expecting you to have a death and dishonour moment each time you reach into the cookie jar for a boredom snack, lets get one thing straight.

You have not evolved far beyond these forty seven men, who were so committed to the promises that they made in life, they were wiling to fulfil those promises even in death. That’s powerful.

Their commitment to extreme ownership of their promises and accountability to their code of conduct was so strong, that people from all of japan, and indeed the world, travel to the grave site of the forty seven Ronin to pay homage to their sense of honour and duty.

It fundamentally comes down to sticking to all the little promises and expectations that you set for yourself on the daily basis.

Don’t accept less from yourself than you do from the people around you.

Want to start losing that body fat? Commit to the promise that you will eat well and move more.

Want to feel strong for the first time in your life? Get out there and do something that challenges you to be strong. And promise you wont quit when the going gets tough.

Want to be the best partner that you can be to your significant other? Then promise that you will work on tearing down the walls that you put up so many years ago that stop you from truly connecting with another individual on a truly open and vulnerable level.

Everyone wants to make the big change. Everyone wants to turn their lives upside down with the next fad. The next craze. The next hip thing thats sweeping the nation and day time television. But the truth is this – that’s not how it works.

It starts by committing to your promises.Laying a foundation of success that bleeds into your life not just in a macro sense, but also in a micro sense.

You have to throw yourself into the ‘Game’ daily, and choose to win. Because if you break those promises that you made to yourself, and lose a day of living as the best version of you – you chose that.

For my final words I want you the reader to meditate on a final thought.

“Virtuosity is not the art of mastering the uncommon. Virtuosity is the art of uncommon mastery of common things.”

Go forth and become virtuosos of the ‘Game’ in your own lives.

Live with love, strength, and passion.

Train Strong.

Live Strong.

Be Strong.

I’VE BEEN THINKING…

It’s been a while.

I’m sorry it’s been so long since we last talked.

It’s not because I haven’t had anything to say. And, it’s not because you’ve done anything wrong. It’s just… I’ve been distracted.

I’ve been trying to figure out my place in this whole training / coaching space. And, let me tell you, in an industry of millionaire charlatans. That’s not an easy mirror to look in to.

I think it was Nietzche who said that one should always be wary of looking in to the abyss. Because whether you like it or not, the abyss will stare right back at you. Well… I looked. And sure enough it stared right back at me. Leaving me with more questions than answers.

Now, with the added clarity many months of self reflection, meditation, and becoming intimately acquainted with Holly Hindsight (What a bitch!). I have come to a series of conclusions regarding my goals in the fitness industry – and they concern you.

So over the next few weeks, I am going to reveal to you some of my thoughts and meditations on the fitness industry, and where I see the priorities of Rebellion Strength taking us all in this crazy, mixed up journey.

  1. Education First –

Something that I have found astounding is that the more I look into the actual nature of coaches in the fitness industry, the more I realise that we are simply teachers.

For those of you who have suddenly begun the lengthy process of rolling your eyes at this seemingly grandiose statement… bore off.

For the rest of you, bear with me.

I’m going somewhere with this.

The reality is that while many of our academic cohorts will chortle under their breath about how “those that can’t do coach”. The fact of the matter is that whether we care to view ourselves this way or not. We as coaches are teachers to our clients. Who, for all intensive purposes, are our wards.

We are responsible for them and their development. And, if was are going to accept that role and responsibility. Then we also need to accept that, as with all teacher student relationships. There is going to come an inevitable end point to our time together.

This means that once your client takes their first steps into this new stage of life. The kind of person they are in this new chapter of their journey is a direct reflection of the impact that you have had on their growth as a human being.

So if you turn out a grown ass adult that has an adults bank account, but the nutritional self control of a five year old who’s been under dosing their ritalin… you my friend fucked up.

I don’t want to be part of an industry that puts the destination before the journey.

I don’t want to be part of an industry that’s happy to starve someone down to their desired bodyweight. But let them loose back into the dietary wilds with no tangible knowledge on how to actively keep themselves healthy.

I don’t want to be part of an industry that doesn’t take the responsibility of educating their clients towards becoming healthier people for life seriously.

So with that in mind – I’m not going to be.

I am going to stand apart from the crowd and actively put the education of my clients first and foremost. If that means that they reach a point that they don’t “need” me any more. Then I know, hand on heart, that I have done a good job. And more importantly, done right by them. Laying the foundations for them to move forward with a healthier relationship with exercise, food, and themselves.

It might not be good business to create a system in which your clients out grow you. But your students can’t stay in school forever.

I truly believe that if you keep growing and developing the value and service that you bring to your clients. They themselves will grow to the point where, while they no longer need you, they will still “want” you. Because you bring so much more to their lives than simply tracking their macros or counting their reps.

You provide for them a connection to something that makes them better people. Both inside and outside of the gym.

And that my friends, is something that is priceless.

Train Strong.

Live Strong.

Be Strong.

 

Real World Strength

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We all know ‘those’ people. Those people who have strength that denies expectation.

Whether its the house wife that can move a fridge by herself, but doesn’t believe she can pick up a barbell. Or the labourer who has never been to the gym in his life, but has a grip like a boa constrictor – we all know ‘those’ people.

But where does this strength come from? And how can you go about getting real world strength?

Well the Gods honest truth of it is that some people are just born stronger than others. Some people are born with above average levels of muscle, strength, and nervous system potential than others. Sorry… life’s unfair like that. The good news however is that ther are some simple steps that you can take to do something about it and super charge your strength both in and out of the gym.

1. Use Total Body Lifts –

Now, while I do categorise movements based on muscular biase i.e. Pull ups are an upper body movement and squats are a lower body movement. The simple fact is that if you are doing any of the big lifts right, you are using every ounce of muscle fibre that you have in order to stay stable, strong, and solid throughout a full range of motion. I remember the first time I deadlifted 200kg my feet where what hurt the most once I was done. My feet… think about that. My entire body was working so hard the soles of my feet hurt from the intensity of my training.

If you are doing it right, pretty much any lift can be a total body lift. So make these lifts the base of your training.

2. Be Strong Frequently –

No one ever got strong doing something once in a while. The only way tot get strong is via repeated effort over a long period of time. I once worked with a guy who could move an entire king size mattress up stairs by himself. If that doesn’t sound impressive to you, you clearly haven’t tried gripping on to a king size mattress.

When I asked him how he did it he just said, “practice”.

Frequency of exposure drives adaptation. So get out there and move weights frequently and you will get stronger!

3. Be Functional –

No, I don’t mean do it on a bosu ball. What I mean is train using real world practical movements that transfer outside of the gym.

Weighted carries, compound lifts, and sled work should make up the bulk of your training. Training biceps might seem like a great idea, but chin ups and sand bag carries are a better alternative.

If you are only concerned with gym based strength then you have gotten away from what really matters. Developing fitness and strength that you can apply in everyday life.

Don’t live and die for a deadlift PR if you cant do a chin up.

 

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Fundamentals of Choosing the Right Program!

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Starting your fitness journey on the right footing is probably the single most important thing that you can do to set yourself up for success in terms of both physical and mental health.

But how the hell are you meant to know what to do?!

Seriously!?

The internet is filled with more bad programs than good. Everyone has a conflicting opinion. And, while you have instantaneous access to some of the greatest minds in strength and conditioning, you probably have absolutely no business  attempting to run their programming.

So how do you go about choosing the right program for you as a beginner? Well, I believe there are three main points to consider:

  1. Movement capacity:

Be honest and truthful about what limitations you have physically. If you can’t squat, let alone squat pain free, then you have no business jumping into a squat dominant powerlifting cycle.

Your number one priority should be looking for a program thats going to focus on developing your movement capacity by working you towards achieving full range of motion in the fundamental movement patterns i.e. the deadlift, squat, lunge, vertical press, and horizontal pull.

*I recommend looking for a program that runs a unilateral phase, followed by a bilateral phase.

Always remember that greater ranges of motion mean more muscles recruited for a longer period of time. This will always result in fuller strength and muscle gains!

2. Is it progressive :

No matter what physical attribute you are trying to achieve, never forget that your body is an evolutionary machine that is designed to learn how to do more with less. The body constantly adapts to the stimulus that you give it. So to force the body to constantly adapt in regards to either strength, muscularity, or fat loss, you need to make sure you are increasing the demands placed on your body week by week.

Practically put, if you swing a 16kg kettlebell for 5 x 20 in week one of your programme, then the following week you would be looking to swing a heavier kettlebell in order to drive continuous adaptation.

You can progressively overload the body in a number of ways but my favourite ways are –

i. Increasing weight lifted per exercise

ii. Increasing total number of sets done per week

iii. Increasing time under tension per rep

Obviously there is an element of ‘going by feel’ when you first begin training. But the more advanced you get, the more dialled in your overload parameters become. Right now, I would suggest just focusing on increasing the weight moved per exercise, and when then plateaus then starting worrying about increasing total volume.

3. Is it fun? :

If you love constantly varied, high intensity workouts, then Crossfit is for you. If you love linear progression and picking up heavy stuff, then powerlifting is for you. If either of the above don’t sound like your jam… then pick literally anything else!

There is no ‘one way’ to be fit. But there are plenty of ways to sabotage your own success by doing something you hate, just because you think its expected. If you love running, then get a ‘couch to 5k ‘program. If you just want to dance the night away, join a zumba or salsa class. I promise you you will get far better results doing something you enjoy rather than trying to stick out something you hate.


 

If you want more help in starting your fitness journey, and putting together a progressive plan bespoke to you please fill out the form below.

Please respect that I value your commitment, so please value my time. This is not a form for time wasters, or individuals who lack commitment. Only if you are serious about change, should you fill out this form.

 

Surprising Benefits of Exercise! 

– IT’S INVIGORTING

Elevated testosterone is one of the first and, in my opinion, most beneficial aspects of working out. Building muscle, getting strong, and eating more food to bolster this new found level of activity helps to up-regulate testosterone production to help the body recover, rebuild, and reinvigorate.

Invigorate what you might ask? Your sex drive, confidence, wardrobe (because its not socially acceptable to publicly show off your gains whilst naked).

All in all, having a higher testosterone level improves every aspect of your life. Except when you have to buy new jeans to accommodate your sweet pair of quads…. swings and roundabouts.

– YOU CAN EAT MORE!

Ok, so while I wouldn’t start eating more straight out of the gate; but eventually you are going to experience a dramatic increase in your appetite – this is a good thing!

What’s essentially going on is that your body is raising your metabolic rate in response to not just your increased activity level, but also the fact that you’re walking around with more muscle.

As the most calorie demanding tissue in the body, muscle tissue requires 50kcal per Lb in order to maintain its size. As such your body, in all its infinite wisdom, raises the total amount of calories it requires in order to:
1- Maintain optimal production of hormones and other basic bodily functions
2- Allow you to keep building muscle
Fill these bouts of hunger with plenty of meat, fish, fruits and veggies and watch your body change.

*You are what you eat, so don’t eat like and asshole.

– IT’S CHEAPER THAN A THERAPIST

The fact is that life gets on top of your sometimes, and with the nights getting longer, days getting colder, and the most stressful time of year just around the corner, its little wonder that people drop their activity levels right down and prefer to stay inside because they, “just don’t feel up to it”.

Well, this is the exact opposite of what you should be doing! The fact is that getting back to the gym and keeping your fitness a priority is just a symbol of you actively prioritising your own well being.

Exercise increases production of serotonin and dopamine within the body. This leads to an elevation in mood, improved sleep pattern, and generally a greater sense of wellness and control over ones mental state.

It may seem like such a small thing, but I have yet to find a single person who’s life has not improved by adding in 45-60 minutes of exercise 4-6 times a week.

To book in a free programming consultation and get yourself on track to becoming the strongest you, fill in the form below!
Train Strong.
Live Strong.
Be Stronger.

Let’s Talk Magnitude…

Look, let’s be honest here for a second. You are a busy individual. You have a job, a life, a family, or a sport that takes up a great deal of your time. And regardless of whether you are an office based gym warrior, or an athlete looking to maximise your performance, you’re both interested in getting the most bang for your buck during your dedicated gym time.

But how!?

Training magnitude is a representation of the direct relationship between the exercises performed during a training session, and the impact of that training session on the bodies adaptation.

Short story long, if you attempt to get the maximal training magnitude from your session, you will get the greatest results.  This all starts with exercise selection. Are you choosing the exercises that are going to get you towards your goal as quickly as possible, or are you just faffing?

The truest test of whether or not you are selecting appropriate exercises for your goal is to first understand what your goal is.

Fat loss? Awesome!

Improving power and strength? Sweet!

Want a set of nice arms? Who doesn’t?!

Once you know your goal you need to make sure you are following a few simple rules when selecting your exercises, and putting them into a sensible order:

  1. Big exercises come first –

Exercises that require the most effort, cross the greatest distance, and move the most joints come first. Simple as. If you are putting your deadlifts, squats, presses and chin ups at the end of your programme rather than at the beginning, then you are missing out on making the most out of your session.

2. Isolation exercises come second –

This basically follows on from point one. After the most important exercises are finished, make sure the following exercises are going to help improve those movements i.e. lat pull downs after pull ups. This will make sure that you are bolstering your ability to increase your performance in your primary movements every week. Remember, your chasing progression, not just a sweaty back and a sick pump.

3. Due diligence comes third –

This is the point in your training session where you need to take the time to focus on corrective exercises to prevent muscular imbalances, or to really focus in on dedicated mobility time to increase training performance and prevent injury. Either way, the point of this moment in the session is to make sure that you are working on the aspects of your performance that will allow you to stay safe, and keep improving week by week.

Going hard in your programme is all well and good, but the fact is that coming in and smashing yourself isn’t always smart, and it sure as hell isn’t always conducive to improving performance in the gym.

Remember that anyone can put together a hard programme. But a good programme takes planning, consideration of multiple factors, and proper execution.

To booking in a free programming consultation and get yourself on track to becoming the strongest you, fill in the form below!

Train Strong.

Live Strong.

Be Stronger.

 

 

 

 

 

Why your Squat Sucks…

If you’ve been paying attention, I think squats are kind of a big deal…

As far as I am concerned the squat is the king of lifts! It requires mobility, stability, strength, and courage to master the squat, and if you don’t think that squats are that big of a deal… well then you know where the door is.

We have all gone through the struggles of trying to build a respectable squat. So to that end here are a few reasons why your squat may, or may not suck.

  1. Not squatting to depth –

The fact is that everyone in the history of squatting has asked the question “was my squat deep enough?”

You swiftly learn that if you have to ask the question, then you already know the answer.

Not squatting to full range, while it allows you to move more weight, is actually the worst thing you can do for not just the development of your squat, but also your overall leg development.

The only way to recruit the most amount of muscle possible is to go through as full of a range of motion as possible. That means no half reps, no quarter reps, no doubt what so ever. Go arse to grass or go home.

To develop greater depth and comfort either the back squat or front squat, use pause squats of anything from 1-5 seconds at the bottom of the squat.

The pause will also help you develop power out of the bottom of the squat, i.e. the weakest part of the movement.

       2. Not squatting frequently enough –

Following the typical ‘Bro Split’ of doing legs once a week is pissing away time that could be spent squatting. Some how, this myth has emerged whereby people think that training a muscle once per week is enough to incite growth. Well, maybe for someone in their first year of lifting, but for anyone who has invested some serious iron time once a week is simply not enough.

The muscle building cycle actually only lasts a day or three, depending on the size of the muscle. So that means you can train your squat multiple times per week without any negative impact on your muscular development, or risk of overtraining (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7b5hOWfwdc).

Try to squat two to three times a week as part of a five session split at varying rep ranges, with your heaviest session at the beginning of the week to get some mega growth potential in your legs and your squat numbers.

Session 1: 4 x 6-8

Session 3: 4 x 8-10

Session 5: 4 x 10-12

       3. Not thinking long term –

This essentially ties in with the above point, but its worth coming at from another angle. Everything has a point of diminishing returns, and squatting is no exception. The more you repeat an exercise, the better you get at it. This is why most newbies see some incredible gains in the first few months to a year of training. But as the months and years tick on it gets harder to progress because your body quite simply needs more stimulus to force an adaption. This is why a proper phasic program is needed to see progress in any aspect of the gym, but particularly in squatting.

A really simple rep range scheme to use is as follows

       4. Improper exercise selection –

If you want to build a big squat, then stop worrying about leg extensions and calf raises. These exercises have their place, but the truth is that you need to seriously think about what is letting you down in the squat and build those weaknesses. Doing leg extensions for the sake of doing leg extensions is not going to help you squat more weight, so don’t waste your time on exercises that aren’t going to build your squat

Here is a cheat sheet for some basic issues –

  1. Rounding over: Weakness in the upper back and abs. Do a lot, and I do mean a lot of rows and ab work in addition to sub-maximal squats / pause squats.
  2. Getting stuck in at the bottom: Weakness in the glutes and hamstrings. Dedicate time to glue bridges, hip extensions, and romanian deadlifts to build that booty!

To book in a free programming consultation and get yourself on track to becoming the strongest you, fill in the form below!

Train Strong.
Live Strong.
Be Stronger.

Progressing Your Fitness Career

Great article from friend of the company, and FHQ Ltd co-founder Richard Jones – 

Choosing the right fitness course for you…

 

The fitness industry has grown exponentially over recent years and there are now a number of training providers and colleges offering a wide range of personal training qualifications. Developing a career in fitness can be hard work, long hours and sometimes rather challenging. However, a career in fitness is also extremely rewarding, fun, no day is ever the same and the sense of satisfaction when clients reach their goals is second to none. I can’t recommend a career in fitness or health strongly enough.

 

Having said this, one of the foundations to a successful career in fitness is education. As I mentioned earlier there are a number of organisations who now deliver personal trainer courses, weightlifting qualifications and nutrition courses. My main issue here is their experience. The majority of training organisations which I’ve come in to contact with remind me of the old saying ‘if you can’t do it, teach it’. So, the purpose of this short article is to highlight 5 key points which I suggest you look for when choosing where to complete your fitness qualification:

 

1. Testimonials – always check out their testimonials and reviews on their website.

2. Experience – I would always suggest that you research their history and experience doing the job. If your provider delivers personal training qualifications yet has never had a successful career as a personal trainer, can they really help you develop the career you want?! I don’t think so!

3. Approved – are their qualifications approved by an awarding organisation like YMCA Awards? Approved courses are crucial as they are quality assured and are recognised by insurance companies.

4. Blogs – I would always check out their blog section of the website as this will give you an idea of what they preach and whether or not they are up to date with their research. It also gives you an idea of their training ethos and beliefs.

5. Cost – with education, the cheapest is not always the best.

 

As I mentioned earlier there are a number of training organisations which deliver personal training qualifications, however I strongly recommend Fitness HQ for both their personal trainer courses and British Weightlifting qualifications which are available in Cardiff and throughout the UK. They are an organisation which was founded by a successful personal trainer and are approved by a number of nationally and internationally recognised awarding bodies. Not only do these guys deliver some of the best courses available but they also practice what they preach. For more information check them out at www.fitness-hq.co.uk