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Digest Away Your Body Fat

Digest Away Your Body Fat

The internal health of your gut has a huge impact on its external appearance. Research in Nature Communications found your intestinal immune system controls how you metabolize energy, which affects your body fat. Use these foods to make sure your...
Cut and jacked

Cut and jacked

Olympic-level nutritional strategies for adding muscle while burning fat and using nutrition to get the competitive edge.
Why You Can't Stop

Why You Can't Stop

Some foods are difficult to put down, but this might not be entirely your fault. There are subtle factors that can cause you to overeat. These are the warning signs to look out for BLUE LIGHT Blue light is everywhere in a world of smartphones and...
3 reasons to eat kiwifuit

3 reasons to eat kiwifuit

These fuzzy fruits are powerhouses of antioxidants and fiber with the nutrients essential for recovery and making the most of the time you spend training.
Enayat Nazhat - Skinny to Swole

Enayat Nazhat - Skinny to Swole

Name: Enayat Nazhat Before: 145lb/66kg (November 2013) After: 165lb/75kg (January 2015) I started working out in November 2013. I worked out non-stop seven days a week, all year long. I probably only missed a day a week on the rare occasion that...
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Edge

Edge
May 15th 2015

Digest Away Your Body Fat

The internal health of your gut has a huge impact on its external appearance. Research in Nature Communications found your intestinal immune system controls how you metabolize energy, which affects...
Article

The internal health of your gut has a huge impact on its external appearance. Research in Nature Communications found your intestinal immune system controls how you metabolize energy, which affects your body fat. Use these foods to make sure your innards contribute to your outer abs.

Chia Seeds

Research in the British Journal of Nutrition found that these seeds are rich in alpha-linolenic acid, which can reduce gut inflammation and help you burn more fat. They’re also rich in fiber and omega-3 fats. Spoon generous handfuls into your next smoothie. 

Plain yogurts

Avoid the fat-free versions and go for the plain unflavored options for your probiotic fix. Research in the British Medical Journal found that the probiotic lactobacillus cuts the rate and length of respiratory illness in long-distance runners. If you don’t like dairy then try a probiotic supplement.

Coconut oils

This oil is made of medium chain triglycerides, which help your body absorb fat. Remember, you need fat to absorb several vitamins and minerals and research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found these fats helped people lose weight. 

Soft cheeses

These have all the benefits of yogurt thanks to their high probiotic quantities. Research in FEMS Immunology & Medical Microbiology found that eating a little each day helped keep your immune system strong well into old age.  

Fermented foods

We used to eat fermented foods because it was a way of keeping them fresh. Today these specialty items are a tasty way to get vitamins and probiotics into your diet to improve your digestive health. Try foods like tempeh, sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha tea.

April 30th 2015

Why You Can't Stop

Some foods are difficult to put down, but this might not be entirely your fault. There are subtle factors that can cause you to overeat. These are the warning signs to look out for BLUE LIGHT Blue...
Article

Some foods are difficult to put down, but this might not be entirely your fault. There are subtle factors that can cause you to overeat. These are the warning signs to look out for

BLUE LIGHT

Blue light is everywhere in a world of smartphones and TV screens. Research by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that blue-light exposure before and during your evening meal can increase hunger and alter your metabolism for the worse. Switch off the screens and you’ll be leaner. 

PLATE SIZE

Shelling out for a new, smaller crockery set might be worth the cost. Research in the International Journal of Obesity  found that 92% of people eat whatever is on their plate until it’s completely clean. Smaller plates mean smaller servings and less body fat. 

DISTRACTION

Keep your mind on your meal and you’ll eat less. Research in PLOS ONE  found that people who were distracted while eating ate significantly more. Switch off Modern Family and engage with your real family to fight the fat. 

BEING IN A RUSH 

A to-do list that reads like a phone book is no excuse for wolfing down your lunch. Research in the British Medical Journal found eating quickly until you’re full triples your risk of being overweight. The tortoise wins the weight-loss race. 

FORK SIZE

Small cutlery might supersize your waistline. In a restaurant setting people who used large forks ate less than those with small ones, according to research in the Journal of Consumer Research. Bigger bites make you feel full faster. 

August 11th 2014

Hitting Your Peak

As a celebrity trainer I learned early in my career that Hollywood doesn’t have ‘body seasons’. The phone rings for a movie role and you simply need to be ready.  It was on account of this that I...
Article

As a celebrity trainer I learned early in my career that Hollywood doesn’t have ‘body seasons’. The phone rings for a movie role and you simply need to be ready. 

It was on account of this that I found success early on in my career as a top Hollywood transformation expert. While most programmes take eight to 12 weeks to garner results, the entire methodology of my Clutch Programme is about quick and lasting transformation.

‘How?’ you may ask. Well, it’s one part crazy workouts that ramp up testosterone and growth hormone (GH), helping the body burn fat and build muscle simultaneously. Plus, it’s one part fat-burning and muscle-building nutrition that removes items from the diet that slow the body down. The magic is really in this principle.

Think about a Ferrari for a moment. If you filled it with high-powered fuel but also placed a few pebbles of sand in the tank, what would happen? It would break the Ferrari. I equate this to people that load up on stimulants, dairy and tonnes of gluten-based carbohydrates.

Stimulants can fluctuate cortisol, dairy can be filled with all sorts of disgusting by-products such as hormones due to our modern farming practices. And gluten, whether you are intolerant or not, causes inflammation in the body, which leads to slower recovery times. 

So let’s address the question burning a hole in your mind right now: ‘How can  people who are shredded claim to eat all of these foods?’

Well, in the spirit of total honesty, the answer is either great genetics or drugs. ‘Wait, fitness models take drugs to look like that? But they said they were all-natural.’

Unfortunately, it’s true. There is rampant use of steroids and GH in the fitness industry. I for one would like to see mandatory drug-testing of all models and competitors so people know who’s natural and who isn’t, so they can choose whose diet and workout plan they want to follow.

The truth is, when the body is on these sorts of drugs it can process just about anything, which means that if you’re drug-free then you must take things like dairy, gluten and excessive stimulants into account. 

So having said all of that, what’s the fastest way to get shredded for summer? Two words. Clutch. Cut. Three more words: Free on Bodybuilding.com. Clutch Cut is a three-week circuit-training programme designed to help you lose 10–15lb fat and define lean muscle.

But if you’re not looking to start an entirely new programme, here are my five top tips for shredding fat.

 

FASTED CARDIO IN THE AM

Twenty-five minutes fasted cardio in the morning will help your body incinerate fat. Do this five days a week for two weeks. If you are going to lift directly following, make sure you have a protein shake containing at least 25g carbohydrates before starting resistance training. Also, take BCAAs before and after your cardio.

 

WORK OUT IN THE MORNING

This allows you to structure the most optimal meal plan, which is to front load the majority of calories and carbohydrates before 3pm. This ensures your body burns through its glycogen prior to bedtime.

 

DRINK COCONUT WATER POST-WORKOUT

The fast-digesting carbs in coconut water will ensure you are replacing the glycogen you just burned, helping to spare muscle and trigger insulin to spike.

 

NO COMPLEX CARBS AFTER 3PM

Same idea as above. After 3pm, all carbs should come only from vegetables, but not from the root variety.

 

GAME-CHANGER FOOD CHANGES:

• Replace gluten with whole-grain carbohydrates like rolled oats, quinoa and sweet potato

• Replace dairy with unsweetened almond milk

• Eat only organic chicken.

• Limit red meat to twice a month and make sure it’s organic and grass-fed.

• Stick to fast-digesting proteins, such  as white fish or organic egg whites, at dinner.

August 8th 2014

Getting a Grip

Don’t save your fist-clenching for traffic jams, here’s how it can give you a sporting advantage  LEFT FIST Need to settle your nerves before a crucial point? Make a fist with your left...
Article

Don’t save your fist-clenching for traffic jams, here’s how it can give you a sporting advantage 


LEFT FIST

Need to settle your nerves before a crucial point? Make a fist with your left hand.

Research in the Journal of Experimental Biology found that right-handed athletes who made a fist or squeezed a ball with their left hand before competing were less likely to choke under pressure than right-handed players who made a fist in their right hand.

This performance-improving method was found to work best on sports that require accuracy and complex body movements. 

 

RIGHT FIST

Want to remember your opponent’s weakness? Clenching your right hand can help you form a stronger memory of an event or action, found research done by the Public Library of Science. Just make sure you don’t do it after a defeat; some memories can be painful.

July 11th 2014

Fast or Farce

Performance nutritionist, coach, author and public speaker, Ben Coomber looks at whether abstaining from food could just be starving you of training gains...
Article

Performance nutritionist, coach, author and public speaker, Ben Coomber looks at whether abstaining from food could just be starving you of training gains                                                                                                               

Performance nutritionist, coach, author and public speaker, Ben Coomber looks at whether abstaining from food could just be starving you of training gains

Fasting: ever done it? Maybe you’ve skipped a meal. Maybe you’ve forgone breakfast in a rush. This is essentially what fasting is: abstaining from food or skipping a meal, which is usually breakfast in the fitness world. In the pursuit of being lean and mean, people are always looking for easier ways to strip body fat.

Enter, fasting, or in it’s most popular form, intermittent fasting, aka ‘IF’.

People are successfully using IF as a way to ‘shred up’ in the health and fitness community. Such names as Martin Berkham, Brad Pilon and Robb Wolf have done a great job raising the awareness of fasting, which is a wonderful weapon to have in your nutrition arsenal.

Benefits include upping your regulation of fat burning from stored fat tissue, greater detoxification effects and better mental clarity. But while fasting has its place in some populations, does it have a place in sport or training?

Because fasting is relatively new to the fitness world people are always keen to know more, and how it can be applied to them, if at all. I often get questions from enthusiasts such as, ‘Ben, I want to get leaner but I’m struggling to lose body fat, so should I try this intermittent fasting protocol?’ Now this seems like a reasonable question, right? Wrong.

In short, this is my advice: if you play sport or train a lot, don’t do intermittent fasting. If you are an athlete, or train like an athlete, meaning anything above five to six hours a week, don’t fast. In my opinion, people are turning to fasting to lean out because they are lazy and just want an easy way out, working on a simple semi-starvation model which is what IF is at its roots. Women have been doing that for years, yo-yo dieting, and look where that leaves most of them.

One of the beauties of fasting, and a key reason it works, is a process called hormesis, whereby the human body adapts to a stress. So if a body is healthy, sleeps well, trains well and eats well, then fasting is seen as a positive stress and adaptation occurs in a favorable way. If someone is stressed, has a high training volume, can have bouts of poor sleep or inadequate sleep and is emotionally troubled, then this ‘hormetic’ stress just compounds the issue.

We don’t want stress; it is bad for fat loss, for health and for body composition.

In the context of the dedicated trainer the key stress we battle to overcome is training. Be it weights, field conditioning, pad work, cardio, HIIT, complexes or whatever, they are all stressors that need optimal recovery strategies. Throw too many stressors into the mix and you encounter the over-training dilemma.

I love training and get a kick from it but when you get carried away with it and don’t allow your body enough time to recover, over-training hits. This is due to you not recovering properly and you can’t do that when a third of the day is spent fasting.

And this under-recovery often comes from inadequate calories, macronutrients or micronutrients, which fasting will make worse. Optimal recovery comes from consistent feedings; fast for periods of the day and you’re not recovering optimally.

It’s about managing the variables and making performance and recovery optimal. When working with clients I might use fasting as a tool in the box, but not if they have a high training load. Five to six hours a week is my cut-off point for someone to incorporate fasting into their regime. So if you train more than five hours a week, fasting is not for you. You’ll likely feel great for two weeks, but it won’t continue. Enter into the third, fourth and fifth week and recovery slows down, your sleep suffers, your joints feel sore and then everything suffers.

So what’s the biggest flaw I see with most athletes’ or tough trainers’ diets? Well, it’s the over consumption of carbohydrates and not enough good fats. Learn to cycle your fats and carbohydrates in and out of your diet at the right time. This benefits weight, sleep, hormonal function and performance. Fasting isn’t the hidden answer to fat loss, it’s your current diet that needs work.

July 11th 2014

You Don't Need Gyms

Boston. Fall of 2009. There I was in the penthouse suite of the Ritz Carlton being held hostage by paparazzi along with my A-list celebrity client who was at the center of a breaking news...
Article

Boston. Fall of 2009. There I was in the penthouse suite of the Ritz Carlton being held hostage by paparazzi along with my A-list celebrity client who was at the center of a breaking news story – and we had just two weeks to transform her body for her latest movie role.

Want to hear a little secret? You can both burn fat and build muscle using just your own bodyweight. Let Ashley show you how...

Boston. Fall of 2009. There I was in the penthouse suite of the Ritz Carlton being held hostage by paparazzi along with my A-list celebrity client who was at the center of a breaking news story – and we had just two weeks to transform her body for her latest movie role.

“I guess we can’t work out today,” she said hopefully. I smirked and said: “I’ll be right back.”

When I returned, I had a single resistance band and a wry smile on my face. What happened next was one of the most epic workouts I’ve ever put a client through. Within the first two minutes she was drenched in sweat and gasping for air.

I’d managed to turn every square inch of that suite into a brutal exercise station. We did dips on the bath-tub, plyometric jumps onto the bed, army crawls across the carpeted floors and more burpees than any human could even think about. The result? And I quote: “Ash, that was the hardest s**t I’ve ever done.”

Which begs the question: when did we start believing we need an expensive gym membership and fancy equipment to get the body we want?

Now, don’t get me wrong: I love lifting weights. Lifting weights transformed my body when I was in high school and launched my lifelong obsession with the human body. What I don’t love, is the misconception that if you don’t have access to a gym and two hours to work out, there is no point in training. Or, walking into a gym and seeing people stroll through a workout and then saying: “I don’t understand why I’m not getting results?”

One of the greatest advantages of bodyweight training is that there’s never an excuse not to work out. Whether you’re in a hotel room, a park, or at home, bodyweight training turns any environment into your own personal gym.

Here are some of my other top reasons for bodyweight workouts:

  • Due to its compound movement patterns, just 20 minutes of bodyweight training can burn as many calories as a 90-minute machine or dumbbell-based workout.
  • Because bodyweight training combines cardio and strength training, the workouts are extremely high-intensity, which means you burn a lot of calories in a short period of time. Plus, these types of comprehensive workouts switch on fat-burning and hormones responsible for building lean muscle.
  • Simple bodyweight movements require the core to fire because most engage all the large muscles of the body. Not only does this improve core strength, it can also re-define the shape of your core because it’s being worked from all angles.
  • The biggest excuse for not working out is usually lack of time to get to the gym. Well, with bodyweight training you don’t even have to even leave the house to get a great workout.

Results: Bodyweight workouts involve compound exercises (numerous muscle groups are involved per exercise). Exercises like burpees, push-ups and plyometrics have been proven to increase lean muscle, and improve sports performance by increasing strength gains throughout the body.

Now you understand why you should be bodyweight training, here’s how to get the most out of it. Below is how I structured the workout that day with my client. It works great with male clients who are used to doing straight-up muscle-building or bodybuilding workouts, because it’s a fantastic way to shock the body into burning more fat and building muscle.

THE CLUTCH HOTEL ROOM SHAKEDOWN

Time per exercise: 20 seconds
Equipment necessary: Dumbbells, pull-up bar
Circuit Instructions: For a full workout, repeat full sequence four to six times. For an extreme time-saver workout, repeat twice

  1. Burpee
  2. Plyometric push-up
  3. Jumping jack
  4. Dip
  5. Lunge
  6. Plank
  7. Running on the spot
  8. Pull-up
  9. Star jump
  10. Superman
  11. Army crawl
  12. Plyo jumps onto bed, box or bench
  13. Shadowboxing
  14. Dumbbell deadlift
  15. Decline push-up off bath-tub
  16. Step and shoot (replicate basketball jump-shot)
  17. MMA sprawl
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Transform

Transform
May 11th 2015

Enayat Nazhat - Skinny to Swole

Name: Enayat Nazhat Before: 145lb/66kg (November 2013) After: 165lb/75kg (January 2015) I started working out in November 2013. I worked out non-stop seven days a week, all year long. I probably...
Article

Name: Enayat Nazhat

Before: 145lb/66kg (November 2013)

After: 165lb/75kg (January 2015)

I started working out in November 2013. I worked out non-stop seven days a week, all year long. I probably only missed a day a week on the rare occasion that I didn’t feel well. I give a tremendous amount of credit to Greg Plitt (RIP) who was my trainer and motivation. I used all of his Youtube training videos to achieve my goal, it was my main source of training. I trained exactly the way his videos show with the same attitude and mentality. The guy was a genius. I probably wouldn’t have gained the physique I have now, if it wasn’t for the training tips and motivation that I got from him.

The simple formula I have is to work out intensely from the get-go, this makes my muscles wake up and get to work. I do not like to waste my time chatting or taking long breaks in the gym. My longest break between sets are 45 seconds to a minute. I always include running in my weekly workouts, at least two miles a week.

At the beginning it went unnoticed, but by August 2014 people started to ask about the changes in my physique. Guys in the gym began to ask me for nutrition and workout tips. I'm always happy to give tips to those who ask questions. I believe it's important to have a pleasant attitude in the gym, I always try to encourage others.

My meals consisted of boiled eggs, oatmeal, pancakes, chicken breast, beans and peas, casadillas, and sometimes almonds and dates. I also included salads in between my meals and some fruits such as apples, strawberries, and bananas. I have recently added boiled potatoes, brown rice and homemade beef burgers in my meals. My cheat meals are pizzas.

I used Optimum Nutrition's Serious Mass post workout.

Pre-workout, I would vary between MusclePharm's Assault and GAT's Nitraflex drinks.

My goal is to become a fitness model for big clothing companies. My biggest dream is to appear on the cover of magazines and provide information on how I work out and what I do to maintain my physique.


 Want to have your Transformation featured on our website? Simply email your story, along with your before and after images to info@train-mag.com to apply.

December 17th 2013

Edwin Velez - Body fat fried

Name: Edwin Velez Location: Albertville, Alabama Before: Age: 26 Weight: 310lb Body Fat: 48% After: Age: 27 Weight: 160lb Body Fat: 9.4% Why I decided to transform: "After going...
Article

Name: Edwin Velez

Location: Albertville, Alabama

Before:

  • Age: 26
  • Weight: 310lb
  • Body Fat: 48%

After:

  • Age: 27
  • Weight: 160lb
  • Body Fat: 9.4%

Why I decided to transform:

"After going on a cruise with friends and looking at pictures, I noticed my weight was out of control and something needed to be done. I challenged myself to lose weight and began my journey in December 2011. I know firsthand what being overweight does to you physically, mentally, and emotionally. I know how it feels to be unable to tie your shoes without holding your breath or being told you have to sit in a special seat on a roller coaster.My life is much different now, but I'm still adapting to the new me. I still catch myself looking for the wrong sizes when I shop and still do double takes in the mirror."

How I accomplished my goals:

"Single at age 26, I set a goal to drop 100 pounds between my return from the Bahamas in November 2011 and the next trip in March 2012. I had four months to reach my goal. I started walking 45 minutes per day until I could jog for the entire time.

"I started a high-protein, low-carb diet. Fish and chicken combined with fruits and vegetables became my best friends during the process. Coming from a Latin household, the food changes were extremely difficult to maintain, but I was determined. Going from eating rice and beans with fried chicken and fried plantains on a daily basis to grilled chicken and broccoli was extremely hard. I put away all sweets and soft drinks, which were my two favorites. I recall eating 10 mini chocolate bars during a work day.

"I didn't completely eliminate carbs because they're a major source of energy. I used the "little rule." If it was originally white in color, I removed it from my diet. These foods consisted of rice, pastas, breads, crackers, and tortillas. For carbs, I ate vegetables, fruit, and whole grain cereal. When I ate out, I ordered a salad completely dry. I stayed away from ketchup and mayonnaise. I completely removed sodas, juices, and anything that wasn't water.

"I permitted one cheat meal per week. When I went out to dinner with friends, I ate whatever I wanted, but stuck to water as my beverage."

 

For Edwin's full workout and diet, check out his full feature at Bodybuilding.com.

May 22nd 2014

SUPERTRAINER: Mark Twight

THE PEDIGREE He might not be a household name (yet) or grace the front cover of magazines, but Mark Twight might just be the most important man in health and fitness. US military special operations...
Article

THE PEDIGREE

He might not be a household name (yet) or grace the front cover of magazines, but Mark Twight might just be the most important man in health and fitness. US military special operations have used his expertise to train troops, making him a valuable asset to national security, but this is often overshadowed by his crafting of the superhero Hollywood physiques such as Antje Traue, Eva Green, Russell Crowe, Henry Cavill and the cast of the 300 movies.

With the client-list to end all client-lists you’d imagine he gives some pupils special treatment: wrong. Regardless of your pay check everyone has to put in the hard yards. This is especially true when you’re training an entire cast, like he did most recently for 300: Rise of an Empire.

“The training was customized to the extent possible with such a large group (40 trainees total), but the guidelines for all of them were similar,” explains Twight. “We set a target for each actor and said, ‘OK, this is where we need to arrive – what do we need to do get to that point?’ We adapted to the individuals and adjusted the training along the way while always keeping in mind the ultimate objective.”

That’s an example of excellent forward planning that everyone should apply to their training.

 

THE WINNING ATTITUDE

Mark is no nonsense about what needs to be done to get fit, so actors and athletes are told they better come prepared to commit.

“Our training philosophy is simple,” says Twight. “It all comes down to: find the problem, fix the problem. We train a bunch of endurance athletes, and we’ve got several NFL players who work with us in the off-season. And those are two different problems.”

It seems nobody is immune to his fiercely results-based training mantra because clients need to be committed to see results. “I need someone to pay attention 24/7,” he says. “I need them to be honest with us so we can fine tune on a daily basis what needs to be done according to the stress from work and what’s going on: the fact they live in a hotel and that once shooting starts they work 12–16 hour days.

“We have to fit the training into that while also dealing with the guy who needs to blow off steam and says, ‘Hey, I’m going to go drink a bottle of vodka.’ To that I say, ‘OK, well we’ll train tomorrow at two.’”

It’s that kind of adaptive response from Twight that solidifies his reputation for being the best at what he does: motivating, inspiring and delivering physical results. So you can expect to see more big things from him because the real hero is the man behind the muscle.

June 9th 2014

Take Your Training To New Heights

If you can’t get to the mountain then bring the mountain to you, and that’s how hypoxic training works – altitude training done at sea level. The higher you train above sea level, the less oxygen...
Article

If you can’t get to the mountain then bring the mountain to you, and that’s how hypoxic training works – altitude training done at sea level.

The higher you train above sea level, the less oxygen there is. It works because when your kidneys sense there isn’t enough oxygen in the blood to fuel your exercise they release a hormone that prompts the body to make more red blood cells. They begin to carry the small amounts of oxygen that you’re getting from your lungs into your muscles.

After a few sessions this does lead to performance improvements, especially when you train at sea level because you’ll have more red blood cells floating in your blood. And they carry additional energy-yielding oxygen to your muscles.

But is this the exclusive pursuit of endurance aficionados or can everyone benefit? 

Read on to find out everything you need to get a chokehold on improving your performance. 

 

How long does it last? 

Training with your head in the clouds doesn’t give never-ending endurance because the advantage only lasts for 10 to 15 days, found research in Journal of Applied Physiology. That’s because your body will eventually have to return to normal. This is why endurance athletes often live in high altitudes and compete at sea level. 

The difference between hypoxic and altitude training

Hypoxic is altitude training at sea level, but living at high altitudes means there is no escape to normal levels of O2. Which is better?

Well, research in High Altitude Medicine and Biology compared altitude and hypoxic training and found that living in high altitudes rather than training at low altitudes improves VO2max by 13% (a benchmark for aerobic fitness) and can boost long to medium distance running times (events lasting more than 20 minutes).

Not everyone has a mountain-top gym so just make the best of what you have available. 

 

Will it improve strength athletes? 

This type of training is a well-known plaything of endurance athletes but it can also improve the size of your guns.

Research in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance found that it actually boosts anaerobic performance and might help you build more muscle and strength than training in normal environments.

There is some controversy to this because each person is likely to respond differently, so trial and error might be the best approach to see if it works for you. 

 

Burn more calories

Doing your fat burning in a hypoxic chamber might deliver a leaner stomach. 

Construction workers who worked at high altitudes reduced their body fat by 10.2% within one month of moving from a sea level site, found a study at the Research Center for High Altitude Medicine.

It’s thought this happens because high altitudes reduce your appetite while your body begins to rely more on stored carbs and fats for energy rather than just the food you eat.

June 1st 2014

Rise and Shine

Perhaps more than any other meal, breakfast is at the mercy of our daily routine — or lack thereof. Even those of us (which is probably all of us) who have heard that it’s ‘the most important meal...
Article

Perhaps more than any other meal, breakfast is at the mercy of our daily routine — or lack thereof. Even those of us (which is probably all of us) who have heard that it’s ‘the most important meal of the day’ can sometimes be found skipping it while we we’re rushing to get out the door.

Or we’ll dip donuts into coffee and assume it’s better than nothing. Or we’ll pack in large servings of whole-grains in the hope they’ll give us ‘long-lasting energy throughout the day.’

 

BREAKFAST CAN STRATEGICALLY ASSIST YOUR GOALS

Well, I’m here to tell you that the aura surrounding breakfast is well deserved, and that skipping it is bad news. Studies have found that people who don’t eat breakfast tend to overeat during the rest of the day and have more body fat overall.

In addition, research has shown that what you eat at breakfast determines how well your metabolism functions for the remainder of the day – for better and worse.

As you might expect, then, breakfast can also be geared strategically to your goals. Since your goals include losing fat, building muscle and achieving a healthy body composition, let’s dig into the perfect macros for the morning.

 

PROTEIN: GET ENOUGH!

As you might expect, anabolism (protein synthesis) is at its lowest and catabolism (muscle breakdown) is greatest after an overnight fast. This is significant, because Americans typically consume most of their protein at lunch and dinner, with only insignificant amounts at breakfast.

Research has found a threshold amount of protein, 30–40g, that must be consumed to trigger muscle protein synthesis. This amount is far above what you’ll get from a typical Western breakfast of a bagel, cream cheese and orange juice. Eat like that and you set yourself up to remain in a catabolic state.

Aside from the anabolic benefits of protein, research has shown that consuming higher-protein breakfasts makes individuals feel fuller throughout the day, all while burning more fat than with lower amounts of protein. Accordingly, I recommend 30–40g of high-quality protein at the first meal of the day.

 

CARBOHYDRATES: SPEED KILLS

The quality of the carbs you eat at breakfast seems to matter as much, or perhaps more than the quantity, within reason. Your choices? Fast-digesting carbs in the form of sugars, starches and flours, or slow-digesting fibrous carbs like oatmeal.

In a study conducted by a Dr EJ Stevenson, subjects who ate a slow-digesting breakfast three hours before performing exercise appeared to burn fat two to three times faster than those who were given a fast-digesting morning meal.

In addition, high-fiber, low-glycemic breakfasts can contribute to satiety over the course of the day. Fast-digesting carbs, as their name implies, tend to leave you hankering for more of the same junk food far too soon.

 

DON’T FORGET THE FAT

Do you think cutting back on trashy carbs in the morning means you skimp on fat too? Well, let me tell you now, it doesn’t.

Researchers from the University of Alabama in Birmingham performed a series of experiments where subjects were fed either a high-fat breakfast (45:35:20 fat, carbs and protein), or a high-carb, low-fat breakfast (10:70:20). The high-fat breakfast was followed by eight hours of high-carb eating (10:70:20) while the high-carb breakfast was followed by eight hours of high-fat eating (45:35:20). This continued for 12 weeks.

Astoundingly, even though the total macros were similar between groups, subjects who ate a high-fat breakfast burned more fat throughout the day, and they were leaner than the high-carb breakfast eaters!

The takeaway is that breakfast programs your metabolism for the rest of the day. A high-carb breakfast will cause you to rely primarily on carbohydrates for energy the rest of the day, whereas a higher-fat, lower-carbohydrate breakfast will program your metabolism to run on fat.

June 25th 2014

Murph the Mighty

On June 28, 2005, Michael Murphy was deployed in Afghanistan to look for the commander of insurgents known as the Mountain Tigers. But it was in the remote mountains of Kunar provinve that he and...
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On June 28, 2005, Michael Murphy was deployed in Afghanistan to look for the commander of insurgents known as the Mountain Tigers. But it was in the remote mountains of Kunar provinve that he and three of his fellow SEALs became drastically outnumbered by the Taliban.

After several hours of battle and with his radio out of commission, he left his position of cover to make his way with a satellite phone to a clearing so he could get a reception and call for reinforcements while bullets rained down around him.

Sadly, he took a fatal hit, but showed immense bravery and courage by still making the call for reinforcements and continuing to fight for his team.

He put his life directly in harm’s way to save his comrades and protect his country with pride. It’s for this reason that his legend resonates so powerfully and spawned a Hollywood recreation in his honor.

 

A HERO FROM EARLY ON

This wasn’t an isolated heroic incident because he earned his nickname ‘The Protector’ after getting suspended in school for fighting bullies who were picking on a special needs child, and then for intervening when people were picking on a homeless man.

He also wasn’t someone without options because he graduated from Pennsylvania State University with honors and dual degrees in political science and psychology, but wanted to serve his country and so enlisted with the Navy.

After his death he was awarded the Medal of Honor, America’s highest military decoration, for his actions on that day and became the first member of the Navy to receive that award since the Vietnam War.

The workout below was named as a homage to ‘Murph’ in recognition of the courage and grit he showed during battle and throughout his life. Do this session with pride and you’ll pay Murphy and your physique a fitting tribute. 

 

Complete this WOD named in honor of Navy SEAL lieutenant Michael Murphy as fast as you can

 

Step 1: One-mile run

 

Step 2: Pull-up

Muscles: Back, biceps, abs, forearms 

A) Grab the pull-up bar with an overhand grip that’s shoulder width apart. If you’re advanced then attach a lifting belt around your waist and hang weights off it, or use a weighted vest. 

Hang at arm’s length so your elbows are completely extended. 

B) Bend your elbows to pull yourself up until your chin crosses the plane of the bar. Pause then slowly lower yourself to the starting position without allowing your body to sway.

 

Step 3: Push-up

Muscles: Shoulders, chest, triceps, abs

A) Lie face-down on the ground. Support your body with the balls of your feet and place your hands shoulder width apart. Keep your arms straight but not locked. 

B) Bend your elbows, keeping them tucked to your sides, to lower yourself to the floor. When your chest touches the floor straighten your elbows to push back up the start.

 

Step 4: Bodyweight squat

Muscles: Glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves, abs

A) Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. 

B) Bend your hips and knees simultaneously to lower yourself toward the ground. Stop when the bottoms of your thighs become parallel to the floor but go deeper if this feels comfortable. Keep your back straight and knees in line with your feet. Rise to the start position along the same path by straightening your knees. 

 

Step 5: One-mile run

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Power

Power
May 26th 2015

Ronda Rousey discusses her training, diet and more

The world champion mixed martial artist walks you through what it takes to be a top athlete and forge a career as an action-movie star.
Article

The world champion mixed martial artist walks you through what it takes to be a top athlete and forge a career as an action-movie star.

May 26th 2015

Fitness Q&A: Robert Downey Jr.

Hollywood’s highest-paid actor weighs-in with his fitness and nutritional regimes that earn him multi-million dollar paychecks.
Article

Hollywood’s highest-paid actor weighs-in with his fitness and nutritional regimes that earn him multi-million dollar paychecks.

May 18th 2015

Learning to Lose Big

The start of your summer lean-out shouldn't be a haphazard affair where you hope for the best. Here’s how to plan for success so you overshoot your expectations.
Article

The start of your summer lean-out shouldn't be a haphazard affair where you hope for the best. Here’s how to plan for success so you overshoot your expectations.

December 17th 2013

Slapshot your cardio

If you were asked to name the top 10 sports in which athletes need killer cardio levels, you probably wouldn't have placed ice hockey near the top. But you'd be mistaken! Just think about it: ice...
Article

If you were asked to name the top 10 sports in which athletes need killer cardio levels, you probably wouldn't have placed ice hockey near the top. But you'd be mistaken!

Just think about it: ice hockey stars, like the Boston Bruins' captain Zdeno Chara, are constantly involved in high-intensity plays that last on average between 45 and 90 seconds! That doesn't sound like much, until you compare it to the NFL where plays last on average just eight seconds.

And if you're still not convinced, think about this: Chara regularly takes his bicycle on vacation so he can complete some of the toughest mountain stages of  the 3,000-mile Tour de France course – just for kicks!

 

Bodbuilding.com athlete Preston Noble's four cardio-centric warm-up exercises

If you've got your heart, body and mind set on completing a killer cardio session then you have to warm up properly beforehand.

And the reason is: 75 to 80% of your body is water, and it's the water in your bloodstream that delivers all those vital nutrients to your muscles, so not getting the heart pumped up can lead to strains. Plus, you'll avoid those niggling knee and shoulder injuries because completing a good warm-up will lubricate your joints.

So just try out this simple program, which includes four simple movements that will target your hamstrings, glutes and hip flexors. All four are done on the treadmill. But don't put it on an incline and don't take the speed above 2mph.

  1. ALTERNATING ONE-LEGGED HURDLE

Simply walk on the treadmill and lift one leg at a time as though you were stepping over a hurdle. This is to warm up the hip flexors.

  1. ALTERNATING ONE-LEGGED BUTT KICK BACKS

This motion has lots of names you can generally see women doing it on the stair stepper. Basically, all you are doing is kicking your leg back and curling it, which squeezes the glutes.

  1. ALTERNATING LUNGES

This is a really simple one. Just do a lunge as you would on the ground, but this time, of course, the floor is moving under you. Make sure you have the treadmill on a very slow speed.

  1. ALTERNATING KNEE-UPS

Simply walk along on the treadmill, as with the three other exercises, and give your abs a good squeeze while lifting up your knee to your chest. This is a great warm-up exercise for your core.

Do one warm-up exercise for 30 seconds and then walk for another 30 seconds before moving on to the next movement. Generally, between five and 10 minutes should be sufficient to get the blood pumping enough.

April 16th 2014

Athletes, Assemble!

Following the worldwide success of 2012’s The Avengers, Chris Evans took his physique to a whole new level for his third outing as Marvel comic-book hero Captain America in highly-anticipated...
Article

Following the worldwide success of 2012’s The Avengers, Chris Evans took his physique to a whole new level for his third outing as Marvel comic-book hero Captain America in highly-anticipated blockbuster The Winter Soldier. In an exclusive interview with TRAIN he reveals how you too can transform your body into that of a super warrior – and without using that top-secret serum.

In a universe where Norse gods can summon thunder from the clouds, and men can turn into hulking green monsters that have the ability to decimate entire buildings with one punch, how does a normal human being manage to stand out?

It was the million-dollar question facing 32-year-old actor Chris Evans as he began preparing for his latest outing as one of the most iconic superheroes of all, Captain America.

And for Evans the answer was simple: months of hard graft in the gym and a strict high-protein diet were required to pile on the 30lb of muscle he felt was needed to realistically play a character who is forever being compared to his fellow Avengers – Thor, Hulk and Iron Man.

He recalls: “For this film it was about three months of training, and I wasn’t looking forward to it. I’ve always liked going to the gym, but these weren’t normal gym sessions. I was puking at these gym sessions, they were brutal, absolutely brutal.”

SUPERSIZING A SUPERHERO
Bulking up to play Captain America wasn’t something new for Evans. That’s because when filming began for Captain America: The Winter Soldier it was the third time he’d donned the famous red, white and blue suit.

To get the look he desired for the role, the naturally slim Evans spent many arduous months adding size to his frame using a variety of different exercises to make sure he was not just muscular, but also agile and fast.

Evans explains: “The preparation for Captain America was really about me bulking up looks wise, so it was a lot of weight training so I could get big. The training regime was based on heavy- weight/low-rep sets of the classic compound lifts. I did stuff like squats, deadlifts, shoulder press, incline bench presses, weighted dips, chin-ups, etc.

“And then we’d do very functional exercises, so there was a lot of variety and movement. Sometimes I’d wear a weighted jacket to simulate Cap’s suit, and we’d do kettlebell stuff too.

“The physicality of Captain America and his alter-ego Steve Rogers is such a big part of the preparation for this character and these fi lms. There’s the training, there was gymnastics on this one, fi ght training, motorcycle training. It’s basically a recipe for a lot of bumps and bruises.

“However, the idea was to make Cap look strong, big and lean. But then at the same time he has to look realistic, functional and in proportion.”

According to Evans, to get the physique of Captain America, a man whose body was transformed by using a government produced ‘super soldier serum,’ Evans would work on two muscle groups throughout each vigorous session.

“It’s a very balanced workout, hitting every single muscle – I think even my toes got bigger,” Evans says with a laugh. “We would take two muscle groups, whether it was chest and back or biceps and triceps, and we would just destroy those muscles, literally, destroy them for just over two hours. Then we’d cool down with core and abs.

“I’d also work with a lot of diff erent angles and grips. For example, for chest I’d do close-grip incline press, incline bench fl yes, incline press-ups. And then I’d do kneeling shoulder-press sometimes, to incorporate more abs.”

He adds: “Monday to Friday we’d hit the diff erent parts of the body. On Saturday, it would be my rest day and then on Sunday, if there was something that needed extra work or wasn’t feeling particularly fatigued, I’d hit that too.

“We’d also mix up the free-weight stuff with bodyweight stuff . I’d do lots of diff erent weighted pull-ups, weighted dips, press-ups with a plate on my back. Simple but eff ective exercises, basically the classic bodyweight and bodybuilding stuff .”

However, Evans wasn’t willing to keep his training all that simple as he even added gymnastics to his workouts. Throw a bunch of pylometric exercises into the mix too and you’ve got one very explosive superhero on your hands.

“I did some gymnastic classes, which were a lot of fun. I got to use acrobatics more so he’s flipping off things and spinning and jumping and using his environment. I also did some pylometrics, stuff like squat to-box-jumps. The aim was to keep my heart rate high throughout the workouts, and that helped with my general fitness and especially during filming when we had long days and were running around or doing fight scenes."

CAPTAIN NO CARDIO

When you think of action movies, most people would presume there’s a lot of fighting, a lot of explosions and a lot of running away from things. It’s simply part and parcel.  So it was a shock to hear Evans stayed away from too many cardio-specific workouts, as it would take away from all the hard work he’d done in terms of building his body up.

Instead, he replaced the cardio exercises with circuits. He explains: “Honestly, for Captain America I don’t do a lot of cardio because I’m not trying to lose weight; it’s all about putting on the muscle. It’s big weights and training to put on the muscle. I mean, we might do a few sprints just to make sure I’m loose and conditioned, but that’s about it, to be honest. We’d warm up and do some intervals for 10 to 15 minutes.

“Really though, the cardio training comes from doing the circuits, which are much more effective because you’re working at a much higher heart rate. But you just leave the gym unable to move; it’s really intense.

“Ultimately it is about the performance rather than just looking good and having big muscles. In the film I have to sprint a lot, throw the shield, jump over things. But the circuits cover a lot of that. There was no jogging, no rowing, no stationary bike – nothing. If I do cardio I’ll disappear,” he chuckles

FEEDING FRENZY    
Anybody who knows anything about putting on size knows that lifting heavy objects and spending hour after hour in the gym is only half the battle. There’s a lot more to it than just beating your personal best on the bench press. The truth is that you need to put food inside your body to help build lean muscle; and it can’t be any type of food, it has to be the right kind for you to reap the rewards you’re working for. So to add to his back-breaking workouts, Evans also increased the amount of protein he consumed substantially to aid him in his bulking mission.

“I had lost weight in between filming The Avengers and this, so it was really about bulking up as clean as possible, so I had a high-protein diet nutrition to play Captain America. The equation is around 2g protein per 1kg of bodyweight and that’s achieved with a bunch of chicken,” he laughs. “But then I’d also consume other sources of lean protein and some protein shakes through the day. But the eating is the thing I like the least, because I’d feel full all the time.

“I’d eat porridge, walnuts, raisins, low-fat Greek yogurt, a scoop of protein and maybe sliced banana for breakfast, which is generally an hour or two before I work out. Then through the day I’d eat a lot of things with a good protein source, lots of fish and meat.

He adds: “Then I’d eat salad with the protein source, lots and lots of salad. Lots of dark green, leafy vegetables, and then also a handful of almonds here and there. It was basically a high-protein diet, but then balanced with vegetables and fruits and some complex carbs, things like brown rice and porridge.”

In terms of supplements to complement his workout, Evans used a diverse range to make sure he was not only building muscle, but also so his body was able to fully recover from the intense gym sessions he would put himself through.

“Supplement wise I used a bit of glutamine, whey protein shakes, branched-chain amino acids, then 500mg supplements of omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 every single meal to make sure that my joints were functioning well – I needed it because the working out was so intensive, especially with things like the gymnastics.

“The branched-chain amino acids were basically there to fill the chain of repair of protein. The glutamine was used to stop me going catabolic or burning muscle tissue as energy, and was also good for my immune system.

“I think the protein shakes during the day would be normal whey-based shakes containing around 30g protein. But then before going to bed I would gulp down a protein shake that was primarily casein, for slow-release protein overnight.”

SUPERHERO SCRAPPING
Months and months of hard work in the gym and sticking to a strict, clean diet all culminated in Evans eventually becoming a lean, mean fighting machine, able to do the type of things his character pulled off on screen without too much help from the CGI department. And Evans believes without the intense training he went through he simply wouldn’t have been able to do the things he does on camera in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

“As Captain America, I’ve stepped it up a notch. He moves so fast and he kicks ass in this film and it makes sense because this isn’t just the guy who’s been given the ability of speed and power, he’s been training, he’s been training hard.

“Captain America’s got the frame of mind to absorb this information, so you can only assume with training and his ability, the guy should really be dangerous – and he puts that to use in this movie.”

He adds: “We really wanted to show his ability in this one, it wasn’t just, ‘Make him like Jason Bourne,’ you know? If Jason Bourne can do it, Cap should just be eating up these things. So we had a bit of fun turning up his power, turning up his speed, cranking those things up a notch. So in this movie the fights are a lot more grisly and impactful, and in my opinion, way cooler.”

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Overhaul

Overhaul
November 20th 2013

Knee-jerk reaction

KNEE-JERK REACTIONAlthough most fighters will fit in several cardio based sessions per week as well as their gruelling training regime, injuries, thankfully, are a rarity. That aside, the yearly...
Article

KNEE-JERK REACTION

Although most fighters will fit in several cardio based sessions per week as well as their gruelling training regime, injuries, thankfully, are a rarity. That aside, the yearly incidence rate for injuries suffered by recreational runners while pounding the pavements or treadmill is between 37 and 56%.

The highest percentage of those occurs at the knee, a joint that’s prone to damage due to its relative instability, either by misalignment or muscular imbalance. Too much, too fast, too quick, poor exercise selection or execution makes the joint vulnerable to overtraining.

The knee gives support to the body and allows propulsion during the gait cycle. Propulsion can be either moving the body in walking/running or acceleration of the movement of the foot rapidly as in kicking.

The stability of the knee joint is due to an array of ligaments connecting the tibia (lower limb) and femur (upper limb). The strong muscles surrounding the joint are activated in response to tensions within the muscles. The two main ligaments are the ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) which stops unwanted twisting between the two adjoining bones and prevents a forward glide of the tibia on the femur. The other ligament is the PCL (Posterior Cruciate Ligament) which sits behind the knee and also prevents twisting motion and any backwards glide of the tibia upon the femur.

ANTERIOR CRUCIATE LIGAMENT AND MENISCUS TEAR

The two menisci in the knee rest between the thigh bone (femur) and shin bone (tibia) both medially and laterally. The main function of the meniscus is to distribute weight evenly in the leg to prevent damage to the knee joint.

Most common traumatic meniscus tears occur when the knee joint is bent (flexed position) and the knee is then twisted. It is not uncommon for the meniscus tear to coincide with anterior and medial cruciate ligament damage.

Signs to look for include pain along the joint line, locking sensation, generalised ache in the knee or feeling of weakness and insecurity around the knee (a feeling like it will give way). You can expect minimal swelling and a full range of movement with pain only at the end of range.
The ACL can be injured by twisting the knee or because of an impact to the side of the knee, often the outside.

Amazingly a recent study showed 76% of ACL injuries are missed by a primary physician, so it’s important you keep a careful history of any problems you have. Any twisting,  cracking, popping, immediate pain, swelling within four hours (usually immediate) and a situation in which you have to stop the initial activity would suggest a cruciate tear until proven otherwise -- and recognising the injury can save a career. The extent of the injury is determined by the degree of damage to the ligament.  If the ligament has been stretched and not torn there will be a minimal amount of swelling. In order to diagnose correctly there are questions that need to be addressed:

1. What was the activity? Has activity changed or increased?
2. What was the force? Was it due to a fall or a takedown?
3. What happened to the knee? If it was twisted then either of the cruciate ligaments or the meniscus will most likely have been affected.
4. Was the knee hyperextended or flexed? If it was then it’s more often a muscular issue, although occasionally it could have affected the ACL.
5. Did it swell? When? A watershed of four hours divides cruciate injury from meniscus and ligament injury which normally takes four hours or more.
6. Did you have to stop immediately? If so, this could be the result of a cruciate Injury or occasionally a fracture of the tibia.
7. Did you hear anything such as the pops and cracks that are common in cruciate injury?
8. Was there pain? When? Within four hours divides cruciate injury from meniscus and ligament injury which normally takes four hours or more.

PATELLOFEMORAL PAIN – RUNNER’S KNEE

Damage to the knee accounts for more than half of all sports injuries and is often the result of individual quadricep muscle weakness, tightness of other related muscle groups, imbalances around the knee and quite often poor footwear choices.

Other causes include a weakness in the VMO (vastus medialis obliquus), a muscle that plays a key role in stabilising the patella, and allows the quads to work effectively. Weakness in this muscle can lead to maltracking which can cause anterior knee pain and tension in the iliotibial band as a result of an imbalance, and this can go as high as the gluteus medius/minimus.

Exercise, excessive bending, pain when contracting the quadriceps and pain during weight bearing are all signs of patellofemoral pain.

Knee injuries can be split into acute or overuse injuries. Acute can be caused by trauma and normally involves an improper balance between strength and mobility of muscles’ components, ligament strength and the forces put through them.

Overuse injuries are caused by repetitive movements and triggered biomechanical factors tend to be the underlying problem. Acute injuries, in which the foot is fixed during a fall or when excessive force is applied during a twist, can cause structures of the knee to become severely damaged.
Immediate treatment for all of the above injuries is recommended by initially following the procedure below, which is aptly labelled P.R.I.C.E.

P - Protect
Protect yourself from any further damage to the area by stopping the activity. If the injury isn't too severe, it may only require taping.

R - Rest
The first 48 hours following an occurrence is when severe swelling and bleeding around the Injury is at its maximum. Seek alternative activities and/or take complete rest to reduce any further pain. Depending on the severity of the injury immobilisation is not usually necessary, and can be potentially harmful to the repair process and outcome.

I - Ice                                                                                                 
The application of ice cools the damaged tissue by contracting the blood vessels. This will prevent any further swelling and bleeding, allowing the healing process to start. The applications should be frequent, but each application should be for no more than 15 minutes at a time.
Once any swelling has subsided – usually 48-72 hours after the initial occurrence - heat is then generally applied to chronic injuries that have no inflammation as it increases circulation and raises skin temperature. Sore, stiff, nagging muscle or joint pain is ideal for the use of heat therapy.

C- Compression
Apply compression to the affected area, no matter how gentle, as it will prevent and control the extent of swelling.

E- Elevation

By elevating the affected area above heart level, swelling should drain away. This is crucial within the initial 48 hours.

December 18th 2013

The death of the treadmill

Variety. It’s what you want in life. From what you eat, and how you work out, to what you do in the bedroom, variety is key to keeping you interested and enthused. Importantly, it’s also what gets...
Article

Variety. It’s what you want in life. From what you eat, and how you work out, to what you do in the bedroom, variety is key to keeping you interested and enthused. Importantly, it’s also what gets you better results sooner. It’s not so surprising, then, that the treadmill has become one of the most vilified pieces of gym equipment – gym-goers are ditching the human hamster wheel in favor of other, more engaging forms of cardio exercise. And for good reason too.

The treadmill is ineffective. Running 100 meters on one uses 36% less oxygen than cantering at the same speed on nature’s treadmill, terra firma, according to a study in Medicine and Science and Sports and Exercise. So the going is far easier on a treadmill compared to good old-fashioned grass.

We’ve all seen that guy or girl in the gym, slogging it out on the treadmill day-in day-out and making absolutely no progress – and that’s because it’s all too easy to go light on yourself on the gym staple. Run on rough terrain and your muscles are pushed in new ways with every step. The same just isn’t true of the treadmill.

“Jumping, climbing, swinging and rolling are activities that almost everyone has done as a child and it was simply called ‘playing,’” says Michael Conley, gym manager at Tempest Freerunning Academy in Los Angeles, USA (tempestacademy.com). “These elementary movements have been standardized and expanded upon thus creating the arts known as ‘parkour’ and ‘free running.’ People come to our facility because it’s different and actually looks fun.”

It’s not only new types of cardio workouts that are appealing to those seeking treadmill alternatives. Martial arts and martial-arts-based activities, for example, have grown in popularity, too. “We find that more and more people are coming to us as a change from ‘normal’ gyms saying that they are ‘bored,’” says Stuart Grant, of Westside Martial Arts in Melbourne, Australia (westsidemartialarts.com.au). “We have treadmills at our gym but they are used for people to warm up for their training or for the purpose of cutting weight for competition.”

And by far the most effective alternative to treadmill work is circuit training. “The popularity of circuit training workouts that incorporate more functional pieces of equipment like stability balls, sand weights, weighted vests and battle ropes has exploded in recent years,” says Ponn. “This type of fitness delivers maximum results, as you’re not only burning calories but also sculpting lean muscle that will in turn increase your metabolism and help your body burn more fat.”

So in 10 years time, will we look back at treadmills in the way we now view manual typewriters and video tapes? Get issue 1 of TRAIN magazine to find out, and for more of this feature.

December 18th 2013

Why do athletes lose confidence?

The biggest mistake we can make in life is worrying too much about making a mistake. In many ways our blunders define us. They teach us important life lessons, show us how to forgive, how to live...
Article

The biggest mistake we can make in life is worrying too much about making a mistake. In many ways our blunders define us. They teach us important life lessons, show us how to forgive, how to live without regrets, help us to grow as people, and teach us to let go of our fears.

And nowhere is that last point more important than in a sporting arena, because competing while consumed by fear is the ultimate inhibitor. By putting too much pressure on attaining the perfect performance we restrict ourselves from true success.

Performing cautiously has its time and place, but to push on and achieve sporting greatness, we must throw caution to the wind and get rid of what sports psychologists call the ‘fear-driven mindset.’ If a golfer thinks too much about his swing because he's afraid of driving into a water hazard, if a baseball player refuses to let loose with his bat for fear of striking out, if a skater avoids a difficult jump fearing she may fall, or if a tennis player holds back on a serve in case he double-faults, then all is already lost.

Highly committed athletes, including perfectionists, hurt their confidence with a harsh attitude about the way they performed. When reviewing their performance, perfectionists:

  • Focus only on their mistakes.
  • Are self-critical of their overall performance.
  • Can't remember the good plays or shots.
  • Disqualify any positives about their performance.

They can't feel satisfied with a good performance because they:

  • Never feel as if they performed up to their own expectations.
  • Make false assumptions that others are disappointed with their performance.
  • Want to perform perfectly and view less than perfect as a failure.

Reversing these negative actions will help to reverse your sporting fortunes.

 

For more information on this and how you can conquer the fear of failure, check out issue 1 of TRAIN magazine.

December 19th 2013

5 tips for sporting success

Sam Kotadia is a sports psychologist who has worked with elite athletes including professional soccer players. Here are his top five tips for getting in the right frame of mind to improve your...
Article

Sam Kotadia is a sports psychologist who has worked with elite athletes including professional soccer players. Here are his top five tips for getting in the right frame of mind to improve your chances of achieving success in competition:

1. GREAT GROUNDING - Grounding is a powerful exercise to strengthen your sense of the physical space you occupy and to bring your mind and body into balance. Close your eyes and take three deep breaths to relax your mind and body. Direct your focus to the contact points of your external environment. For example, this could be the sensation of your feet on the touching the cage floor. Keep your focus there when you open your eyes to encourage a composed mindset that can create effortless performances.

2. BACK TO BASICS - Directly after making a mistake, try something simpler. You're more likely to succeed at a basic task, and this small success will prevent the initial mistake from damaging your confidence. Once this simple task is completed, push beyond your comfort zone and try something more challenging. When you are in the cage and retaliate uncontrollably it is unlikely that you will regain your composure. Take small steps to regain your momentum.

3. SUPER STATES - One of the biggest predictors of confident behaviour stems from your ability to generate a resourceful state. Get yourself feeling good by creating positive internal visions, maintaining an encouraging internal voice and adopting positive body language. Thinking about loved ones, special memories, and some of your best performances are some ideas. Feeling good is the source of all inspired performances, especially in intimidating environments.

4. TIMELY TRIGGERS - The brain often learns through association, by paring two experiences together. Close your eyes and recreate in your mind the last time you performed at your best in the cage. Generate the images, feelings and sounds that you experienced and pair that image with a physical action such as squeezing your thumb and finger together. Open your eyes and repeat this process several times. Your brain will learn to feel inspired whenever you repeat the action. Use this whenever you are finding it hard to perform at your best in the sporting arena.

5. GET A GRIP - One cause of failing to find your best performances is believing that everything is out of control. This is common in high-performance settings where there is constant pressure to achieve desirable outcomes. To overcome this, focus on the controllable elements of your environment. Ignore events beyond your own influence and direct your attention towards actions and processes that you have control over. Positive results will follow.

December 19th 2013

It's cool to be hip

A hip joint may be a cool place to hang out on a Saturday night, but what isn't so cool is that research in The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery suggests hip replacement procedures are set to...
Article

A hip joint may be a cool place to hang out on a Saturday night, but what isn't so cool is that research in The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery suggests hip replacement procedures are set to soar in the US by 174% to 572,000 within the next 17 years.

And when you compare that figure to a forecasted population increase of just 16% within the same time frame, it's a real cause for concern.

As the pace of life becomes ever more frenetic in a 24-hour society, and our bodies become more and more susceptible to wear and tear, it is vital to maintain our joint mobility at an optimum level.

Hip mobility and stability movements:

1. CLAMSHELL – Lie on your side, with your hips and knees bent approximately 45 degrees. Keep your feet together and raise your top knee as high as you can without moving your pelvis. Return to the starting position and repeat 10-15 times. Repeat with other leg. You can increase the resistance by placing an exercise band around your leg while you open the clam.

2. LYING PIRIFORMIS STRETCH – While lying on your back, cross your left leg over the right, with the left ankle resting on the right knee. Slowly move your right thigh up toward your chest and gently apply pressure to the inside of the left knee. This stretch should be felt in your glutes (buttock) and hip. Hold for 15-30 and repeat with the other leg. You can also perform this stretch while seated.

3. COSSACK SQUAT – Take a wide stance like a sumo wrestler and point your toes out slightly. Start to squat down and shift your weight to one side. Keep your knee over your toes and make sure the foot on the side doing a squat stays flat on the floor. The opposite leg should be straight out. Lift your toes off the floor and point them toward the ceiling while the heel remains in contact with the floor. Repeat this stretch 2-3 times per side and hold a few seconds.

 

For more expert tips on how to improve your mobility and prevent injuries, check out TRAIN magazine, in stores now!

December 19th 2013

5 tips for mastering mental toughness

Being fit for competition is one thing, but being mentally capable of performing when it matters is a chain of sports psychology that’s red hot in the sphere of professional sports. Everyone who’s...
Article

Being fit for competition is one thing, but being mentally capable of performing when it matters is a chain of sports psychology that’s red hot in the sphere of professional sports. Everyone who’s ever been a member of a club has known an athlete who excels in training, yet blows it when it truly matters. Some people are able to deal with the pressure of competition, while others should stick to staying fit and perhaps coaching.

According to Dr Jim Loehr, author of The New Toughness Training for Sports and chairman of the Human Performance Institute in Orlando, Florida, mental toughness is, "the ability to consistently perform towards the upper range of your talent and skill regardless of competitive circumstances."

Here are TRAIN's top five tips for helping you face and conquer the mental challenges posed by tough competition, thus allowing you to compete at your very best:

1. FLEXIBILITY - So, things are not going your way. You lost a player from a tackle or your opponent got switched at the last minute. One of the keys to staying mentally strong is the ability to adapt and remain relaxed, without going all defensive. Also, stay open to growth and development: remember, every champion is also a student.

2. STRENGTH - Even when the chips are down finding the inner strength to come through adversity and fight to the end is essential in professional sports. As NFL Hall of Famer Vince Lombardi once said: "Winners never quit, and quitters never win."

3. PREPARATION - Cutting corners is nothing but a fast track to failure. Hours in the gym and honesty in competition are the key to a healthy mind, body and spirit. When you prepare right then you can compete with a clear conscious and 100% confidence.

4. RESILIENCE - Winners lose. It’s how athletes bounce back from any setback that truly makes them a champion. Being able to learn from mistakes, and push forward from a defeat is what separates the good from the great. Likewise, it’s human nature to make a mistake once in a while. Developing thick skin is the prerequisite of any pro athlete.

5. SPORTSMANSHIP - Becoming a cheerleader for your team, or simply masking a heavy blow from an opponent are all forms of sportsmanship that must be mastered to succeed. Never let an opponent know they have you down, it will only lift their performance. Instead smile at any challenge and always support your team.


For more expert tips and full-length articles on how to physically and psychologically strengthen yourself, check out TRAIN magazine, in stores now!

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May 26th 2015

Cut and jacked

Olympic-level nutritional strategies for adding muscle while burning fat and using nutrition to get the competitive edge.
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Olympic-level nutritional strategies for adding muscle while burning fat and using nutrition to get the competitive edge.

May 26th 2015

3 reasons to eat kiwifuit

These fuzzy fruits are powerhouses of antioxidants and fiber with the nutrients essential for recovery and making the most of the time you spend training.
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These fuzzy fruits are powerhouses of antioxidants and fiber with the nutrients essential for recovery and making the most of the time you spend training.

November 20th 2013

Drinking diet sodas may trigger sugar cravings

Think you’re saving yourself extra calories by going the artificial sweetener route? New research published in The Journal of Physiology suggests you might be barking up the wrong tree.Researchers...
Article

Think you’re saving yourself extra calories by going the artificial sweetener route? New research published in The Journal of Physiology suggests you might be barking up the wrong tree.

Researchers at Yale University's School of Medicine found that drinking fizzy diet sodas that are filled with artificial sweeteners may actually sabotage efforts to reduce calorie intake, by leading people to reach for higher calorie alternatives later on – because the brain can't be fooled.

That’s because in their animal research, scientists observed that a specific physiological signal that regulates dopamine levels — the feel-good chemical that works with the reward centre in the brain — only arose when sugar was broken down into a form that could be used as fuel and energy for the body.

“According to the data, when we apply substances that interfere with a critical step of the ‘sugar-to-energy pathway’, the interest of the animals in consuming artificial sweetener decreases significantly, along with important reductions in brain dopamine levels,” explained lead author Ivan de Araujo.

“The consumption of high-calorie beverages is a major contributor to weight gain and obesity, even after the introduction of artificial sweeteners to the market. We believe that the discovery is important because it shows how physiological states may impact on our choices between sugars and sweeteners.”

April 29th 2014

Guide to Picking the Right Pre-Workout Powder

It can be difficult to get to the gym when you’re feeling weak and sluggish. That’s where a pre-workout supplement comes to great use! Most pre-workout supplements exist as a powder you mix with...
Article

It can be difficult to get to the gym when you’re feeling weak and sluggish. That’s where a pre-workout supplement comes to great use! Most pre-workout supplements exist as a powder you mix with water and consume about 20-30 minutes prior to your workout to give you a performance boost. But with so many options on the market, it’s tough to figure out which one is best for you.

When picking your next jug of pre-workout performance powder, look for a blend of the following ingredients:

Arginine - a widely popular ingredient for pre-workout products because of its ability to convert to nitric oxide (NO) in the body. Arginine (an amino acid) also improves recovery time and reduces healing time of injuries.

Beta-Alanine - an amino acid that occurs naturally in the body, research shows that beta-alanine in supplement form is beneficial because it has the ability to delay fatigue, improve endurance performance, increase time to exhaustion, boost strength, and reduce heart rate response to exercise - i.e. you can train better, harder and longer.

Citrulline Malate - a combination of two amino acids, L-citrulline and malic acid, citrulline malate increases energy (ATP) by removing lactic acid and ammonia from the body, resulting in reduced fatigue and improved recovery.

Agmatine Sulfate - a bi-product of Arginine, Agmatine Sulfate is a naturally occurring compound in the body. Its benefits include nitric oxide (NO) synthesis, improved insulin production and response, improved performance, strength and speed, cortisol control, improved endurance, and a reduction in body fat.

Glutamine - an amino acid that improves recovery post-workout.

Taurine - an amino acid that improves strength and performance while also reducing stress, recovery time, better sleep and brain function. In the application of a pre-workout product, taurine enhances NO production increasing blood flow and drawing water into the muscles, giving you a bigger and better pump.

Creatine Monohydrate - one of the most well researched compounds in the sports nutrition industry, creatine monohydrate delays fatigue, improves muscle strength and power, increases training volume, reduces body fat, provides cell hydration, enhances recovery and is a pH buffer.

Dimethylglycine Hydrochloride - a derivative of the amino acid glycine, dimethylgycine enhances oxygen uptake by opening blood cells to improve the body’s use of oxygen during workouts. The result is accelerated energy levels, more muscle mass, reduced fatigue and improved recovery time.

Caffeine - a powerful stimulant that reduces fatigue and restores alertness when drowsiness occurs.

May 25th 2014

Spray-On Supplements

Nicotine patches have paved the way for a healthier life, in more ways than one because the latest trend in sports supplements is the delivery of performance-enhancing nutrients through your...
Article

Nicotine patches have paved the way for a healthier life, in more ways than one because the latest trend in sports supplements is the delivery of performance-enhancing nutrients through your skin.

The concept is simple: spray on your supplements and off you go. It doesn’t have the sting that hypodermic needles inflict, nor does it need a glass of water to hand like oral supplements.

This technology has accelerated at such a rate that research in the journal Nature Biotechnology found that it now has applications to deliver vaccines, insulin, hormones and influenza inoculations. So you can expect to see many more of your favorite supplements using this new delivery system.

 

HOW DOES IT WORK? 

The skin was once thought of as an airtight barrier, but now we know better because it is a porous layer through which chemicals can pass directly into your body. To understand how it works, check out below how the biggest part of you looks close up. 

Your medication is applied via a patch or a cream, which is mixed with substances that increase the permeability of your skin so that it can be absorbed by your body.

Sadly, your skin is maybe a little too trusting so it often absorbs things it probably shouldn’t, like artificial fragrances. That’s because it allows certain molecules to pass into the epidermal layer and thus into your blood stream where they get to work.

But if there are hiccups like this why would we risk going down this route? 

 

WHY IT WORKS

The traditional approach is to throw a few tablets down your throat and wait 30 to 60 minutes for them to kick in.

While there is nothing wrong with that approach, this can require some planning and if you’ve strategized poorly then your

pre-workout energizing drink can kick in just as you’re finishing up your workout.

This is not the case with transdermal supplements, which can spring into action in five to 10 minutes. So if you’re having a ‘meh’ workout then you can take action immediately, apply your supplement and feel ready to take it up a gear.

What’s more, research in the Oxford Journals found that people are more likely to stick to supplements and medication taken in this way. That’s probably because it’s easier to remember to rub in some cream or give yourself a spray rather than going to the trouble of taking a tablet.

And if you’re a ‘serial-supplementer’ then you’ll appreciate how difficult it is to remember to take your pills, so anything that breaks the monotony is going to be a welcome change.

However, we might have to draw the line at taking our protein shakes through our biceps though. 

May 18th 2014

The Myth of Concentrates

If you pay attention to pre-workout supplements you’ll notice the current trend is to make them with smaller and smaller serving sizes. Some pre-workouts currently on the market use amounts as small...
Article

If you pay attention to pre-workout supplements you’ll notice the current trend is to make them with smaller and smaller serving sizes. Some pre-workouts currently on the market use amounts as small as 3g or even lower.

Anyone who knows anything about science would immediately recognize that as a red flag. Yet, supplement manufacturers see the lack of science know-how most consumers have as an opportunity to sell them less for more.

They do this by claiming these tiny serving sizes are possible because the products have been ‘concentrated’. It’s the dirtiest trick in the book. Read this article to ensure that you are no longer the fool.

 

THE SCIENCE OF CONCENTRATES

It is actually possible to concentrate certain supplements, but this pertains mainly to herbs and other plant-based ingredients. Take green tea as an example. The main active ingredient in green tea is EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate).

When you drink green tea, you are consuming the whole plant, which provides very little EGCG.

Green tea extract, however, is concentrated to provide a certain percentage of EGCG. This involves an extraction process using a solvent that has a strong affinity for the EGCG. Most green tea extracts are standardized to provide anywhere from 25–50% EGCG.

But one concentrated form of a herb can also be more concentrated than another. For example, if you had 200mg of green tea extract standardized to provide 25% EGCG, that would provide 50mg of EGCG. So if you had an extract that was standardized to 50% EGCG, you would only need 100mg to provide that 50mg.

So the green tea extract providing 50% EGCG is more concentrated than the extract providing 25%, therefore you could take less of the more concentrated green tea extract to get the same amount. This is one example where the concentrated claim holds up.   

 

FUZZY SCIENCE

Ingredients, such as isolated amino acids, which would be branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), beta-alanine, citrulline, glutamine, taurine, or tyrosine, as well as amino-acid-derived ingredients, like creatine and carnitine, cannot be concentrated like herbs.

These ingredients already exist in an isolated form, which is as concentrated as you can get. For example, 1g beta-alanine is 1g beta-alanine.

Pre-workout supplements focus on, or at least should do, providing amino acids, such as BCAAs, beta-alanine, arginine and/or citrulline, taurine, tyrosine, and creatine. The pre-workout category also happens to be the one where you’ll find the term ‘concentrate’ and ‘concentrated’ most used – or abused, I should say. This is a complete fallacy as these types of ingredients cannot be concentrated.

Let’s consider a pre-workout supplement that has a 5g serving size. The product lists creatine monohydrate, beta-alanine, citrulline and arginine on the label, along with caffeine and a few other ingredients you’ve probably never heard of. Reading that ingredient list, this seems to be a pretty good pre-workout. It has the creatine and beta-alanine you need for more strength and energy. It also has citrulline and arginine for a better pump. And, of course, there’s the caffeine and other stimulants to ramp you up. But how can they cram all of those ingredients into a tiny 5g serving? That’s a very good question. 

We know you need a bare minimum of 3g creatine monohydrate to be an effective dose. You also need a minimum dose from beta-alanine of 1.5g. And you need minimum doses of 3g each for citrulline and for arginine. When you add up what those ingredients alone should tally, you get 10.5g. And that doesn’t include the caffeine and other ingredients. 

So is that 5g dose just as effective as the required 10.5g dose of those ingredients? No! It’s half as effective at best. So how do they get away with this? It all comes down to the word ‘feel.’ 

 

BUZZ WORTHY

Most people aren’t supplement savvy enough to know what ingredients they need before workouts, let alone the proper doses they need of those ingredients. So many supplement firms under-dose on the critical ingredients and claim they’re ‘concentrated.’

What they don’t skimp on is the caffeine and other stimulants. But luckily you only need 200–300mg caffeine, along with anywhere from 10mcg (micrograms) to a couple hundred milligrams of some other stimulants to give quite a wallop. So with less than 500mg you can create a pre-workout that ‘feels’ like it works, even though the lack of proper doses of critical ingredients means it doesn’t.

This is one of the problems with the pre-workout category. Most products have done away with providing the critical nutrients essential for more strength and endurance in the gym, and focus solely on providing a ‘high.’

The pre-workout category has sadly become a stimulant war between companies to see who can create the most intense-feeling pre-workout on the market. The uneducated consumers’ demand for these over-stimulated products has allowed these firms to rake it in with cheap pre-workout products they claim are ‘concentrates.’ 

So don’t fall for the scam. For a pre-workout product to provide you everything you need, it should be well over 10g per serving, if not 20g.

A quality pre-workout product should also have the dose of each ingredient listed on the ‘Supplement Facts’ panel on the label. And be sure the doses listed are at the proper amounts shown to be effective. If you’re uncertain about the proper dose of an ingredient, you can get more info at Bodybuilding.com. Take the time to educate yourself on supplements. The more you know, the bigger you can grow.