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.

Demystifying the Deadlift

The deadlift is one of the most fundamental movement patterns in training to get stronger. I would love to tell you all the science behind why the deadlift is such a great movement, but the truth is that there are many articles on the internet that do this far better than I can. The real reason that I love the deadlift and work to get all my clients to the stage that they can deadlift properly is due to the fact that we live in a time where men and women are throwing their backs out picking up their kids or keys.

The deadlift, when performed correctly of course, is the most efficient way to pick something up off the ground. As such I tell all my clients that the movement patterns that they learn in the gym should apply to all of the movement they do outside of it. There is no difference in how I pick up my keys after dropping them and how I pick up 200kg. One is just substantially slower than the other.

So, the aim of this article is to highlight some of my pet hates in the deadlift and see if we can get your deadlift looking as sexy as it possibly can!

It’s and deadlift, not a squat! – 

During the eternal search for a braced and neutral spine, the most common fault that I see is people dropping their hips so low that they in essence drop in a squat whilst holding on to the bar. While your back may be flat, and yes you may be holding on tot he bar to deadlift. the fact is that you my friend are not doing anything that resembles a deadlift. The deadlift is a hinge movement, the squat is a squat. So many people seem get lost when I explain to them that they need to think of the deadlift as a hinge movement rather than a squat, which is understandable considering that both movements are very hip dominant in their mechanics. However, what I try to convey to my clients that the whereas the squat is an up and down movement, the deadlift is a push into the floor with the feet and a pull backwards with the upper back. The hips are just the hinge.

Start the deadlift in about a half-squat position with your shoulder blades over the barbell. If you start too low, the barbell will end up too far in front of your body, which causes you to literally hang out on the meat of your lower back,compromising your leverage. Thus leaving you in a much weaker position.

On the left we have a squat. On the right we have a deadlift.

On the left we have a squat start. On the right we have a deadlift start – Know the difference

Not fixing your base! – 

Foot position and stance is the most important part of the deadlift. As with building a house, you need to start with a firm foundation. The deadlift is no different.

Unless you are pulling sumo then start with a hip width stance and adjust as required. Very rarely do I see anyone whose stance is too narrow, but more often than not I see a base that is too wide. Not taking time to set your stance will affect not just the quality of your pull but also the positioning of your levers, putting you at a mechanical disadvantage.

Check yourself before you wreck yourself

Check yourself before you wreck yourself

Shruggin’ and Tuggin’ – 

Ok, so while I have referred to the deadlift as a pull through pretty much the entirety of this blog, that doesn’t mean that you doing anything with your arms other than holding the bar in place. Too many people engage the arms and their traps while pulling, and this leads to a really messed up pull.

The reason for this is that for muscles to engage and move, other muscles have to shut off. By shrugging the weight you are simply decreasing the positional stability and tightness of your entire body, which can lead to really bad injuries. Bear in mine that the most common major injury associated with the deadlift is a bicep tear. Don’t be the guy or girl who tries to shrug and curl 140kg. It will end badly.

Don't be the guy on the left

Don’t be the guy on the left

Too fast. Too furious – 

Ok, this one is well and truly my biggest pet hates. Don’t jerk the bar off the floor! Attempting to rip the weight off the floor is more often than not is a recipe for disaster, and the last thing I want is for you to feel the ‘aster’.

Now, there are special individuals who can, and do, rip the weight off the floor at incredible speed, but these guys and girls are freaks, and chances are you cant do it. Honestly though, don’t worry cause neither can I. Check out Dan Green putting the ‘rip’ in ripping weight off the floor.

You need to think of the initial pull like going through the gears on a car. No one would jump straight from first to fifth gear, and the deadlift is no different. Try pulling all the slack out of the bar by building power from the floor and prioritising position. Dan Green is one of the most dynamic pullers in the game, but what he does is so far removed from what most normal humans can do that to try and copy him is pointless. Yes be fast, but only as fast as you can maintain position.

If you have read this and recognised any of these as mistakes that you are making, then scale back, take your time and remember – deadlifting right can save your life!

If you feel your deadlift needs a little more hands on attention then get in touch via the link below to book your free deadlift clinic >>>>>>>>>

http://bit.ly/1rvbFHQ

Train Strong.

Live Strong.

Be Stronger

Hand care for athletes!

The truth is that the state of your hands says a great deal about you as a person. It is common knowledge that if you take part in the strength game that you are going to end up dealing with callused hands, torn skin, and being a little rough around the edges. However, this doesn’t need to lead to you having a sandpaper handshake for the rest of your life.

Chalk can only get you so far!

Chalk can only get you so far!

So what exactly is a callus, and what causes them? Well calluses are very similar to blisters i the way that they are simply a separation of skin layers due to friction, with a subsequent fluid build up underneath them. Once they have dried and hardened then they become full blown calluses. They are caused by friction against the skin by another surface. Calluses are common for workmen, rock climbers and strength athletes given the amount of resistance activity they have to undertake with their hands.

Short of a world record, nothing is worth this.

Short of a world record, nothing is worth this.

The fact is that skin trauma to the hands is an inevitable part of strength training, but while many like to view their calluses as marks of pride, the truth is that there is nothing beneficial about having hands like a cliff side. If calluses tear, they are actually pretty messy and can cause you to develop some mega rips in your hands. Tears to hands are some of the most common and most easily avoided injuries in lifting, and Rebellion Strength is going to teach you the secret of having strong, yet healthy hands.

1.Wear Gloves –

HA! Just kidding! Sort of…

If overly manly man says it, it must be true!

If overly manly man says it, it must be true!

2. Train your grip –

The truth is that the movement of the bar against the skin that causes a shift in the hand that leads to skin being stretched. The harder you squeeze the bar the harder it is going to be for the bar to move around in the centre of your grip. The fact is that a great number of lifters that I have seen in my time as a PT simply don’t understand how much force is actually needed to have a strong grip. More often than not I find myself having to use the cue, “choke the bar” to actually get my clients to engage their grip fully. Add more time under tension by adding in pause reps to help develop your grip and above all else – squeeze the bar!

3.Use Straps –

Ok, this time I am not joking. While straps get a bad rap as an easy way out of lifting big weights ‘correctly’, just like anything else if they are used appropriately then they can save your hands a great deal of stress in your workouts. I like to cycle the use of straps in and out of my workouts in order to give my hands a chance to recover while still getting in enough work to develop my lifts. People tell you that straps are cheating, but as far as I am concerned they are just a tool to help you get towards your goals faster and with healthier hands.

4. Actually take care of your hands –

Ladies are pretty good at this. So chaps, stand up and take note! There is nothing sexy about hands that can snag a pair of your best gals tights, so sort it out. Sack up and go into boots and buy a pumice stone. Then go into Lush and get a hand moisturiser than will absorb into the skin and help your skin stay strong. Bad moisturiser sits on the first layer of skin and isn’t absorbed into the other deeper layers of skin, these are what you wan to avoid, so go in and ask the Lush ladies if they can help you. Once you have these essential items get home soak your hands in water and use the pumice stone to smooth out your calluses. From there wash of what ever lose skin has been worn away and then moisturise your hands to make sure that the skin heals cleanly and smoothly. If the site where the callus was is jagged its just going to tear again.

The final form of a person’s character lies in their own hands.” – Anne Frank

Train Strong.

Live Strong.

Be Stronger.

Streamlining your business, your life, and your fitness!

I have been having a number of client engagements of late that have left me both baffled and inspired, and ultimately have lead to some what of a theme in my latest stream of content. Maybe its me and my lack of pop culture knowledge and general societal awareness- but when did we start making life so complicated?

The last time I checked as a culture we were all about ergonomics, streamlining and convenience, and yet all I see is that in our day to day thinking we are over complicating what are very simple issues. It is almost as if we are suffering from paralysis by analysis on a global scale. We have so many options, how are we meant to pick what is the right one? The fitness community is no different than anyone else in regards to being trapped in this cycle of ‘to choose or not to choose.’ As I have stated in one of my newsletters, which I invite to you subscribe to, I go into some depth regarding the shift in the role of fitness professionals, and how we have gone from being the keepers of fitness and health related knowledge, to being the distillers of publicly available information and, in short, are tasked with separating the wheat from the chaff in regards to applicable training advice.

This mass of publicly available information has left scores of people left dumbfounded as to what they actually need to do in order to lose weight, get strong, and generally live a longer, healthier life. Should you go low carb? HIIT training or Strength training? Do raspberry ketones actually work?

Ultimately we can keep complicating the act of getting healthy much as we want, but if you don’t get to the places that you want to be, then what is the point? I like to think of myself as somewhat of a training minimalist – I am all about getting the most results from the minimal amount of work. Ultimately I am a business owner and I am the other half a long distance relationship. I am a writer, and a socialite. I am a councillor and lifter. I am more than just a gym bunny and I have a life to live outside of the gym. For a long time I struggled with managing my business life, my personal life and my training. It wasn’t till I was introduced to two principals and what is known as 10X thinking by Tim Ferriss that I realised that the problem wasn’t my lifestyle it was me. I was overcomplicating things and not stream lining my lifestyle around my goals.

Ultimately I have three main goals:

1. Make my fortune helping others to become empowered through strength and knowledge.

2. Become the strongest version of myself.

3. To have a family that I can provide for without sacrificing my time with them.

If these are my goals, then I know that I have my end points, but the real question is, how do you get there? 10X thinking is essentially looking at your goal and asking yourself what is stopping you getting a ten times return on your investment. Or in my case, how can I take my  athletic and business 10 year plan and turn it into your one year plan, and a big part of that is focusing on these two rules:

i – Pick the low hanging fruit!

With fitness and business it is easy to get bogged down with the million and one seemly important tasks upon which you believe your business is founded, but the truth is that when you take a long hard look in the cold light of day, you begin to realise that the vast majority of these tasks actually lead very little by way of a return. In regards to business, how many of you go out there and start actively trying to change your life by adding more to it? Checking emails every hour on the hour, or trying to hand write all of your emails to give them a ‘personal feel’? I know I did, and the truth is that if you want to grow your business then you need to accept the fact that it is going to grow to the point where you either need to streamline the way in which your business run and accept simplicity and automation, or hire people and outsource these tasks to them. Both are valid options, but essentially allows you to free up more time to work on the what Stephen Covey calls the ‘essential’ and ‘important’ aspects of running your business.

The world of fitness is no different. How many of you have wanted to lose weight and get in shape after one too many years of abusing your body? I imagine its a fair number. So you go about adding in the stress of counting calories, the stress of having to prep your hundred and one fat burning supplements and juice cleanse shakes, rather than just taking a simple look at what you are doing and realising that rather than adding in more complications to your life, you should be looking to reduce the complexity of your situation.

Start but just taking the processed junk out of your diet. Then start exercising more, even if you decided to just cycle to work instead of taking the car. These two simple factors will give you far more sustainable results than any fad diet or supplement ever will.

Once I understood this concept fully I just looked at what was going to get me towards my goals the most effectively and simply. Streamlining my own training allowed me to spend the same time training, but get far more quality out of my investment in time allowing me to get do an all time deadlift PR of 220kg in my last powerlifting meet.

Some highlights from me and my clients

ii – The 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 rule was created by an economist from Italy named Vilifredo Pareto, and it states that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. What this means in regards to your business is that roughly 80% of your profits will come from roughly 20% of your clientele. Pareto’s law of the vital few forces us to look at ways to maximise our time and minimise our stress by focusing on the 20% that bring you the most amount of profit, and seeking to replicate this select clientele throughout the rest of the business. Seek to find those who will value your product at a higher price point and seek to over deliver in terms of the delivery value. In Tim Ferriss’ seminar ‘Opening the Kimono’ he charged $10,000 dollars per seat. He also made his clientele fill out a large questionnaire to assess whether or not they where appropriate attendants for his seminar, and only accepted payment in the form of wire transfers, thus eliminating any from of debt accruement for his wannabe attendees. He filled out his two hundred seat seminar without anymore advertising than a seven hundred and fifty word blog post on www.fourhourworkweek.com. This if nothing else shows you the value of appreciating the impact of the 20%.

Tim Ferriss - Master of effective efficiency and potentially the most interesting man alive!

Tim Ferriss – NYTimes best selling author, master of effective efficiency and potentially the most interesting man alive!

Pareto’s law applies to your fitness goals as well. Focus on the 20% of your activities that are getting your the closest to your goals. This of course comes back to what you know the be the most effective in regards to you and your own personal training. I simply focus on getting my clients to clean up their diets in regards to eating whole foods with little to no sugar, and getting them to exercise more. We can complicate things further by adding in macronutrient ratios and macronutrient cycling, but the truth is that the whole journey starts with just getting moving and eating better. These two things give you the greatest return on your investment.

This has played out in my own training as well. I am currently committing to an olympic weightlifting focus in my training and as such I am doing what I need to do to get good at the olympic lifts, i.e the lifts themselves, squats, and deadlifts. I have gone from doing 5-8 exercises per session to doing 3-4. Sure, a few accessory exercises are thrown in here and there for good measure, but for the most part my training is just that simple.

I hope that you have enjoyed this blog and as always, please share the blog, please positive comments, and above all else, subscribe to my newsletter and follow me on all forms of social media.

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P.S –  I want to offer you guys a chance to change your training and change your life. Click on the link below to book in your complimentary personal training session and nutritional consultation:

http://bit.ly/1rvbFHQ

Train Strong.

Live Strong.

Be Strong.

Rogan Allport – Personal Trainer

The Daily Rebel – Jerks and Back squats

Well, it’s been a while. With starting the business and taking the time away from blogging to free up time to generate more leads and clients, I feel that it is time that I came back to the blogosphere and touch base with my Rebels on a more regular basis.

To that end, I am glad to say that the Daily Rebel is now back in full swing, but with a twist. You will still get the great workouts, the great tips and content, but it will only be on the days that I am training from now on. So dont get worried if there is a day or two in the week where you dont get a workout from me, I am just recovering and putting more time back into the business.

So, whats on the docket today? Me hitting the 100 club!

This was a huge milestone for me as my jerk has been probably the thing that I have struggled with the most in regards to my overhead strength. This is largely due to the fact that in the jerk one is moving from a position from high stability, to a low stability transition position, and then back to a position of high stability – provided you can find it.

So, to that end, here was my workout for the day:

A1) Jerk – 1 x 1@100% / 3 x 1@ 80-90%

B1) Back Squat: Work up to a heavy triple beltless*

* I had competed over the weekend so I just wanted to grease the groove and get back into heavyish squatting.

C1) Pull ups: 4 x max

C2) Seated row: 4 x 8-12 @60kg

D1) Lateral raise: 4 x 15

E2) Dips: 3 x max

F) Resistance band face pulls: 100 reps in as few sets as possible

If you are like me and struggle getting overhead, here are my top tips to getting stronger when pressing overhead:

1. Have strong triceps – Have you ever seen a good presser with small triceps? Didn’t think so. Besides filling out your tshirt and giving you a sick pair of pipes, having strong triceps is going to strengthen the stability of your elbow and increase your ability to press with more power.

2. Work on your shoulders and upper back – These muscles are your prime stabilisers when getting overhead, so make sure that they are big and strong so they can handle a greater load.

3. Spend more time over head – Just try and spend more time pressing overhead for as much of your shoulder/pressing work as possible. The fact is that while the standing shoulder press and the seated shoulder press are both shoulder dominant exercises, the total body demands of simply being upright and standing will transfer over far greater to your overall strength than simply sitting down.

I hope this helps you get stronger overhead, and if you have anymore questions, just get in touch via the contact us page.

Train Strong.

Live Strong.

Be Strong.

Rogan Allport

The coach’s responsibility

I feel like I need to get something out in the open, I am sick of hearing about ‘movement mechanics training’ or ‘sports specific training’ when it comes to athletes because more often than not, these terms are misunderstood and misused by strength coaches at large. Sports Mechanics is a very unique field and should be left to specialists. The simple fact is that while I am very much in support of making each and every athlete better at their sport, that is not the job of the strength coach. That is the job of their sports coach, so do your job and make them better athletes!

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We are in the business of making athletes strong!

Too many of us in the coaching field are trying to be more than we are by attempting to move our knowledge in to fields that we are not qualified to speak on. If I take on a rugby player as a client, I am not going to start putting them into sports specific positional drills. Those muscles are already being worked in training and I sure as hell can’t teach them better than a qualified rugby coach. All your doing is exacerbating the issue at hand and not fulfilling your job description. Sure, your working towards making sure that the player snaps the ball marginally faster, but can they run faster, jump higher and change direction quicker? If not, then no one is going to care how fast he or she can offload the ball because the monster at the other end of the field is already closing in on them with a torpedo like pace.

TAKE THAT!

TAKE THAT!

We need to look at each individual sports requirements and make sure that we are tailoring what ever strength and conditioning that we are putting our athletes through directly corresponds to the demands of that sports. If your sport requires rotational force such as golf, make sure you stabilize the midline and work on the capability of the body to generate rotational force. If you’re a thrower, take it ones step further than work on the ability of the body to rotate and extend during the production of power.

Does your sport require agility and power, great! Lets work on the physical attributes that allow you to have agility and power, but lets make sure that we are doing this in a well thought out and methodical way. The aforementioned issue that I have with the way in which some strength coaches are training their athletes is that it is inappropriate not just in terms of the coaches primary function, namely as a strength coach, but also because its working on the top end of the ‘athletes pyramid’ model that I have discussed in previous works before.

To recap, if we think about ultimate athletic potential as a pyramid, we want to build the tallest, broadest pyramid possible and to do that we need to bare in mind that a pyramid can only be as tall as its base is wide. If we break down the pyramid into three sections we have general physical preparedness (GPP), special physical preparedness (SPP), and sports specific physical preparedness (SSPP).

General physical preparedness would be maximal strength, conditioning and bodily composition of the athlete. Special physical preparedness would be applying the athletes GPP within the context of either the time demands of the sport, the context of a movement pattern, or a set physical attribute that the sport requires. For example, max back squat for a wrestler would be GPP. Zercher squats, sand bag carries, or farmers walks would be SPP. Finally, the act of wrestling would be the SSPP, and this relies on the expertise of the wrestling coach, not you.

Zach Even-Esh has made a career taking kids who know how to wrestle, and making them wrestlers!

Zach Even-Esh has made a career taking kids who know how to wrestle, and making them wrestlers!

The long and short of this article is that you need to remember what your priority is when dealing with athletes. It is your job to make sure that your athletes become harder, better, faster, stronger, not to make them better at there specific sports skills. If you are doing your job right then everyone of their physical attributes that you develop will carry over to their abilities within their actual sports. Don’t try and teach a rugby player how to tackle, make them tackle harder. Don’t teach a runner how to run, make sure that they can physically withstand the mileage of their endurance training.

We as coaches have a duty of care, by not fulfilling our job description we are not just endangering our athletes but our reputations.

To find out how you can get strong and realise your inner athlete just click the link below.

http://bit.ly/1rvbFHQ

Train Strong.

Live Strong.

Be Strong.

5 Easy tips for getting leaner!

The fact is, weight loss is easy. Getting lean and in shape, now that is a different game entirely.

Eat less, do more, and you will burn off weight. It really is as simple as that. However, as any good lifter knows, losing weight is not the same as getting lean. The act of weight loss is simply defined as mass being taken from your body and broken down into energy, but this is not always a good thing.

They are lean, not skinny. Know the difference.

They are lean, not skinny. Know the difference.

The common thought is that we need calories to live and function. If we do not get enough of them we starve. If we eat to many of them, we get fat. Seems simple doesn’t it? While this thought is largely correct, as with all things, if it seems to too good or too easy to be true, then it probably is. Losing weight is the unbiased break down of mass, and that includes muscle tissue. This is the last thing that we want, and here’s why.

Muscle is the most metabolically active tissue in the body with a caloric demand of 50Kcal per Lb, and that is just at maintenance level. We want your body to be as metabolically active as possible and to have as much active functional muscle as possible to make sure that your metabolism is as high as possible. The moment you start losing muscle, you are literally losing cylinders from your metabolic engine and this is why fat loss tends to stall when you simply reduce calories.

Now, by contrast the act of getting leaner is the reduction in the level of the bodies adipose (skin level) fat cells. This is done via proper fuelling of the body, dependant on its activity level and the gentle decrease of calories. This is far more maintainable from the standpoint of you and I as average people but does require the insight of a fitness professional, or more research into how to properly fuel your body. Alternatively you can click here to receive a free nutritional e-book.

To make life a little easier, I have put together a few top tips that I think will help you get leaner, rather than just lose weight.

1 – Train for hypertrophy!

As we said, muscle is the most metabolically demanding tissue in the body and as such having as much of it up and working is what we ultimately need in order to raise your base metabolic rate. This means that you are going to be burning more calories at rest, leading to a greater number of calories burnt daily, month, and annually. To do this, make use of traditional hypertrophy training programs such as 3 x 10, 5 x 8 etc. This greater volume when matched with proper nutrition on your training and non training days will lead to an increase in muscle and number of calories burnt per session.

nickauger

The greater the muscle, the greater the calories burnt.

2 – Increase your protein intake

Protein is the building block of life. It provides 4kcal of energy per gram. Protein is stored in the body as muscle and is only used for energy production when carb stores are deleted. Proteins need to be broken down into amino acids and converted into glucose by the liver if they are to be used for energy production. This process is known as gluconeogenesis.

Protein is synthesised into your body in order to begin the repair or development of your cells. As such your protein intake is one of the primary factors in your bodily development, and should be included to one degree or another in every meal. Protein is also highly thermogenic regarding its nutritional density. It takes calories to digest food to get more calories. Protein has a huge caloric requirement for breakdown relative to its size and if you are working out the majority of the broken down amino acids will be put to work building more muscle. To start make sure you are taking in 1.2 – 1.5g of protein per lb of lean bodyweight and adjust as necessary.

3 – Address food quality before calories

Jumping straight into calorie counting is one of the worst ways to get yourself into trouble when trying to lose weight as it is highly inaccurate, and mentally draining. This is not to say that calories are not important, because they are. However, addressing issues of food quality are the first port of call when looking to get people losing weight. Educating yourself on what it means to eat according to your goals is going to to create a long lasting understanding of good nutrition, and good nutrition is for life. Diets are not.

4 – Don’t dive bomb your calories

Dropping your calories should be the last thing that you address when you are going down the garden path of weight loss. Managing your calories is something that should be done in relation to your macronutrient needs, and once that is addressed then we can start thinking about dropping calories. However, this should be done at a slow rate. As with prescription medication, we want the maximal response from the minimum dosage. Dropping your calories substantially will lead to a point of plateau from which your metabolism will start to take a dive, and in response your body, being the survival machine that it is, will start to take break down the surplus muscle tissue and the metabolic demand that goes along with them. Keep your calories as high as possible, for as long as possible, so long as you are still meeting your goals.

To look like a healthy athlete, you have to eat like a healthy athlete

To look like a healthy athlete, you have to eat like a healthy athlete

5 – Don’t go it alone!

This is the most important aspect of the whole journey. Make sure that you have a support network. Getting lean is a long process and can be stressful if you go it alone. The reason why weight watchers and other programs of that nature are so successful is that they bring you into a community that creates a sense of society and accountability. Get a group of friends, a page on facebook, or hire a trainer, because the more support your have, the more accountability you have to those around you and as such you are more likely to stick to game plan rather than go native with a box of Reese’s Pieces.

These are some tips that I hope will make things easier for you on your journey to a leaner, sexier you!

If you passed up on the e-book at the start of this article and would like to rectify that, click here.

To find out how you can get strong and realise your inner athlete just click the link below.

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Good luck and, remember:

Train Strong.

Live strong.

Be Strong.

Simple Speed – Everything you ever wanted to know about getting fast!

Speed kills!

This is a simple fact in the world of sports, the wilds of the Savanna, and in your training. Speed is the key to athletic success, or to be more precise, power is. However, those of you who paid attention in school understand that force, or power is the sum of speed and mass. Simply speaking what this means is that the greater the weight we can move at the most maximal speed possible, the greater the total power output of the body. Now, this has a number of considerations. First, total power output is relative to the source of the force, i.e. the body. It is a well-known fact that the relative strength (total strength in relation to mass) of an organism decreases as the size of the organism continues. This means that if we take a bar loaded up to 150kg and we get two lifters to squat it, with lifter A weighing 100kg and lifter B weighing 60kg, the total power output of lifter B would be greater as 1) his relative strength is greater due to his lesser body weight and 2) because a greater amount of force production is required to move the weight, regardless of the fact that the bar path would move slower due to the requirement of a maximal effort to move the weight.

I know that this has gotten confusing, but bear with me, it will all make sense soon enough. I know I said that speed kills, and as I said, lifter B would have to move slower to move the 150kg squat that lifter A, so lifter A would be moving faster yes? Well yes, true at that weight the larger lifter would move the weight faster but that does not mean that there is a full recruitment of all the bodies’ musculature. What we need to bare in mind is that while a maximal effort lift is moving slowly, it is moving as fast as humanly possible given the parameters of the lifters strength and percentage of neuromuscular recruitment. If the lifter couldn’t generate maximal force in the most minimal amount of time he would fail the lift. Told you speed was important.

Speed... it's kind of a big deal.

Speed… it’s kind of a big deal.

Now, speed obviously has greater implications than just your ability to lift bigger weights. We as a species rely on our speed to think faster, evolve faster and generally be faster than our adversary in order to survive. While Paleolithic man could not have out run many of the predators of the primal wilderness, he could change direction faster, think faster and climb faster, all of which has lead to me being here writing this article for you now. Even now athletes of every kind are trying to get faster. Faster in their ability to get to the end zone, try line, goal, ball etc. first and developing this killing speed there needs to be a three-fold focus on speed development.

First there needs to be a focus on the physics of strength. I know that we have been over the physics behind it, but let me put this into practical terms. Picture a box. Now jump on it. Then jump on it as fast as you can. Then picture a taller box, a box that you can’t jump on to. Now while you can jump up to this box with lesser speed and greater speed, the fact is that if you don’t have the strength to propel yourself onto that box, the truth is that you are just not going to get up there no matter how hard you try.

The fact is that without strength it doesn’t matter how fast you are, you simply don’t have the base on which to build power. Now, building strength, while not easy, is relatively simple and there are 1001 programs out there on the net that will help you get strong. I would recommend anything that is based on full compound lifts and is very squat focused. From there just keep getting stronger!

This doesn't happen without speed. Speed doesn't happen without strength.

This doesn’t happen without speed. Speed doesn’t happen without strength.

Ok, so lets move further down the line. You have been training hard and getting strong for a few months now and in the process you have gotten faster. Your lifts have shot up and as such your total strength output has increased and as such your ability to ability to produce force is greater. What this has lead to is a greater ability to propel your self forward, upward and any other which way you want to go, but, with that being said, speed has not been your primary focus. While every rep of every lift should be as fast as you can humanly make it, the fact is that you cannot move 98% of your 1RM as fast as you can move 50%.

Louie Simmons, head coach/owner of Westside Barbell, arguably the strongest gym in the world focuses a great deal of his Conjugate training method towards speed and force development by the incorporation of specific speed sessions where 40-70% of a lifters max squat, bench or deadlift, depending on the focus of the day, will be taken for no more than 2 reps over 10-20 sets with very short rest periods varying from 30seconds to a minute in length. The whole point of these short rep ranges is to work the fast twitch fibers of the bodies’ musculature.

The muscles of the body consist of three different muscle fiber types. Type 1 fibers that are slow twitch oxidative. Type 2A with fast twitch oxidative, and Type 2X that are fast twitch glycolytic. These fast twitch fibers are exactly what they sound like, fast! As such, when we want to be fast we need to focus on the development of pure, unadulterated speed that can only be developed under loads that are sub-maximal. As such we need to focus on the activation of these fibers using a load that will cause a development of potential force generation. This force development is due to increased neuromuscular connectivity and firing rate. This leads to an athlete being able to engage their strength at a greater speed. This in turn relates to a greater expression of total power and as such speed.

This leads us on to the last section of speed development, practical application. This is where you train the application of speed within the context of your sport. Common examples of this are 40 yard dashes, change of direction drills, target sprints diamond runs etc. the list goes on, but the point is that you need to look at what the demands of your sport, or playing position, have on your speed. In regards to sports like Rugby or American Football heavier players such as forwards or linemen need the speed to get off the starting line fast and make contact first, where as players such as running backs or wingers need the speed to move in-between opposition players and make sure that they can change direction quickly. As such the practical speed training for each player would have to be unique and targeted towards his or her personal needs in regards to their position.

Matthew Stafford

Different size athletes, all moving with as much speed as possible.

This ladies and gents is a brief overview on how one can approach the subject of speed training. My disclaimer on this is that there are many ways to skin a cat and that this is by no means the only way to approach speed training, however it is a concept which has worked well for me in the past and has worked well for others as well. If you have any questions you would like to ask on the subject of speed training, or anything else regarding training for that matter, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

To find out how you can get strong and realise your inner athlete just click the link below.

http://bit.ly/1rvbFHQ

TRAIN STRONG.

LIVE STRONG.

BE STRONG.

Training Vs. Practice

Take a look at any sport. Whether it is performance, individual, or team based, they all have one thing in common, they have a very unique understanding of the difference between training and practice. True, with sports which are skill orientated rather than purely performance based, i.e football vs. the 100m dash, there is an even greater distinction between ‘training’, and ‘practice’ due to the differentiation between the time spent ‘practicing’ the skill of their sports, and the time spent developing the physical aspects during the Strength and Conditioning ‘training’.

Technique and movement quality have to come first.

Technique and movement quality have to come first.

However, within the world of physical and athletic development the current paradigm presents us with a problem. We don’t teach our athletes to view their gym time as a time of skill acquisition and ‘practice’. Anyone who has spent time surfing the interwebs looking at training videos – you know who you are! – has probably seen some incredible feats of strength and endurance from athletes that have some horrendous technique, but they are still great athletes, but the real question is this, how long can they keep themselves that way, and how can we make them better?

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This guy is a probably a great athlete, but this is not a great power clean.

Whenever the weightlifting teams at California Strength and MDUSA finish their sessions, their coaches say, ‘Good practice everyone!’. This speaks volumes to me as, while the sport of weightlifting is a special case due to its nature as a performance based sport, they are focused on making sure that the time they spend getting stronger is time spent attempting to become as technically proficient as possible the allow for the greatest carry over to their performance as athletes.

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You need good technique in order to support this kind load!

While I am aware that using these elite weightlifters as an example may not speak to the everyday athletes out there, we as coaches must seek to break that barrier. If a training methodology does not scale both up and down, from the greatest athletes to the worst, then it is a broken system and needs to be updated or repaired. Skill acquisition must be placed first. It is the foundation upon which all other physical attributes are formed. Strength is useless without the ability to move efficiently and apply that strength.

So, what we need to do as coaches is implement a shift in the way in which we teach our athletes and clients to think of the time they spend training with us, as well as the way in which they perceive their own progress. Training or practice is measured in progress, but a big bug bear of mine is the fact that we only seem to teach people progress in terms of weight on the bar, not in terms of speed, efficiency, or movement quality. While I am all for people shooting for the moon and getting as strong as they can be, this ‘balls to the wall’ style of training is not maintainable for the vast majority of everyday athletes or for that matter a smart way to go about things. It breeds the mentality that record hunting is the only way that we can measure progress and this leads to a competition mentality that causes people to sacrifice movement quality for the sake of a new PR.

The stronger you are, the greater the buffer between you and injury, but this only applies so far before you hit a point of diminishing returns. The risk vs. reward aspect of advancing before you are technically ready is always risky, and will only work for so long before injury or structural breakdown. There is a time and place for pushing your boundaries, but this must be done in the safest possible way to make sure that the buffer against injury is at its greatest.

Being a great athlete is what allows Brian Cushings to keep playing one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. This applies to you just as much as it does to anyone else.

Being a great athlete is what allows Brian Cushings to keep playing one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. This applies to you just as much as it does to anyone else.

Push for strength, push for improvement, but measure improvement as more than just load on the bar. Widen your horizons and understand that there is more to progress than the current paradigm of gym culture tells you there is.

To find out how you can get strong and realise your inner athlete just click the link below.

http://bit.ly/1rvbFHQ

Train Strong.

Live Strong.

Be Strong.

The Daily Rebel!

5/12/14 – How to set goals and achieve them

So, no workout from me today guys. I was having too good of a time with my beautiful and talented journalist girlfriend. However, I do have a little something I want to talk about, namely, goal setting and how hindsight is the biggest bitch of them all.

Let me tell you something that you already know; getting what you want from life is hard. There are so many things in this life that we want but are unwilling to make the sacrifices it takes to get the things that we say we want more than anything. And yeah, sure, there are those guys and gals who are gifted, who don’t have to work as hard, who can just toss their hat into the ring and wind up in the winners circle, but I will let you into a dirty little secret, they are not you, and chances are you are not like them. You are going to have to work towards what you want. You will have to scrap, and claw and fight for the things that you want in this life, and you will do it because it’s worth it. We all look back at our failures in life and we talk about all the things that we could have done and should have done. Well, the fact is that until you will make those ‘should do’s’ into ‘have to’s’ your goals will forever elude you.

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Do you have it?

I try to live my life by two maxims, and while I am not a fan of sweeping generalizations, I do find that these two sayings ring so true its like a crystal bell going off in my mind.

  1. Fail to prepare and you have prepared to fail
  1. Hindsight’s a bitch

Now, I feel that the first one speaks volumes, and in fact is what inspired this article. You need to plan not only the means by which you are going to achieve your goals, but the goal in and of its self. You need to ask yourself whether or not this is the right goal for you, and if so why. The hard truth is that many of us don’t have a good answer for why we want something, and just saying, “cause I want it” I’m afraid, just won’t cut it. Because if all you have to turn back to when the times get hard and the end could not look further from your reach is “cause I want it”, your going to find that this once great and supportive answer really isn’t all that supportive anymore.

The second statement is something that I feel requires little explanation. Hindsight is, and always will be, a bitch, but she is a bitch because we made her that way. We use hindsight to look back at all the things we could have done better, and instead of using this as a valuable lesson, we just get pissed off and throw the proverbial teddy out of the proverbial pram. Don’t make hindsight into a bitch, both she and you are better than that.

Lets just take a moment to focus on something here; there are no bad goals, so long as your goals do not negatively impact another person. What there are however, are reasons for choosing a goal – see how I am making this all link up? Genius I know! “But Rogan,” I hear you say, “what are good reasons for choosing a goal?” Well that is a damn fine question. In my opinion, a goal should be a means to an end rather than an end in and of itself. So, in my case I wanted to get strong, and some would argue that I have done that, others would say I haven’t, but none can argue that in three years I have taken my PR Deadlift from 110kg to 200kg. Now, this is not me bragging, a 200kg Deadlift is not something to write home about, at least not in Powerlifting circles, but becoming strong was a goal that served as a means of developing myself as an athlete. I wanted to get strong, not to become a Powerlifter, but to be stronger in the broader sense of my athletic development. Entering the world of Powerlifting has been a fantastic added bonus, but it was not the original goal I had set for myself.

So, if you take nothing else away from this first section, take away that you need to have a good reason for picking a goal, and that the reward of working towards the goal should not be the goal in and of itself, it should be everything you have gained leading up to, and blasting past that goal.

So now lets say you have picked your goal. You have meditated, philosophized and conversed with all the Buddha’s (yes there have been many) and you have come to a single conclusion of what it is you want. GREAT!!! Now how the hell are you going to get there? When planning your route to your goal you should remember to always think about if your goal is SMART.

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Achievable

R – Realistic

T – Time framed

The first part is easy, heck, it’s your goal! You should know specifically what it is, if you don’t, its back to the drawing board for you my friend. The second thing to think about is whether or not this goal is measurable. This basically means, can you quantify your goal in regards to something tangible – can you track your progress? If not, then you are just going to be chasing smoke. Find a progressive system that allows you to mark out and record your progress in what ever it is you are doing. I have previously been trying to gain weight at a slow pace in order to become bigger and stronger while building up my aerobic engine, so how have I measured my progress? I have weighed myself every morning and put it into an excel spreadsheet and made a graph. Extreme? No, not really, it takes a minute out of my morning, and on some days I was too heavy, and others I was too light but always the trend, the constant, is moving slowly forward. When weight gain was my goal, I was gaining roughly 1kg a month, and that’s just fine by me.

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Here is an example of my weight gain graph. Always follow the trend! 

Asking your self if the goal is achievable is a tough one. We all like to think that with enough hard work and planning we can get anything, and to an extent this is true but I am not going to turn into Phil Heath, regardless of how much time and effort I might put into that goal, if indeed that was my goal, which is most certainly is not.

You have to bite the bullet at some point and say to yourself the hard truth of, I cant do this and its not realistic – see what I did there. Or, at least not within the framework of the constrictions I have given myself. You see, if I wanted to take 2 seconds off my 100m time, I could do it. If I wanted to do it in two weeks, while I also train for a marathon, chances are I am going to fail, hard! So make sure that the goal you have is achievable within the context of your life and planning.

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Matt Chan balances having a family, owning an affiliate, being on the CFHQ coaching staff, and having an active lifestyle outside of all of this. Goal management is the key!

A useful technique is to break your main goal down into a series of way points, markers if you will, which will be the points by which you measure your progress on the path towards your main goal. We do this within our Strength and Conditioning programming, and it works, so why not do it in life? Applying periodization to your life may just be the thing that you need in order to break your goal down into manageable pieces, which in the end will fit together and allow you to find yourself at the end of your journey with your goal in hand.

So remember, plan, prepare, and prevail! If you do these things, then you will be able to conquer your goals!

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Train Strong.

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Be Strong.