Shotgun Movements – by Jamie Bolton

It’s 2012. The apocalyptic events predicted by religion and popular media are running riot. The 12 Horsemen, Solar storms, magnetic pole reversals, you name it. It’s happening.What’s worse, a crazed gunman has roamed into the Elite Kinetics Performance Facility and is now holding a shotgun to my temple.

The world may be ending, but worse yet is the EK team held hostage....

“Tell me the secrets. Give me the answers. What movements should I be doing?”

To top it off, it appears he’s got a limited brainspan and can only remember five, yes five, movements in total.

“I want to build a lean, muscular physique, but I won’t use more than five movements.”

I’m usually loathe to pick favourites as everything has its time and its place in a program. Well maybe except bosu-ball dumbbell presses amongst other retarded movements, but you get the picture.

These have no place in any program

But this guy does have a shotgun to my head, so I’m inclined to do what he asks!In the all encompassing field that is strength training, I try to pick movements that are just that. With these 5 movements I am trying to address all the key qualities this guy needs to be developing in order to meet his goals:
1. Strength
2. Power
3. Hypertrophy
4. Conditioning

Finally, we need to address all the key movement patterns and structures in the body, otherwise we are going to end up with some seriously unbalanced development over time. I don’t want our armed friend here to come back and complain!

So this is what I’d prescribe:

1. Complexes

A complex is a series of exercises performed with a barbell back to back without letting go of the bar. I’m slightly cheating here as it is technically more than one exercise, but since it’s continuous, I’m counting them as one! There are many ways of setting these up, but my favorite is the JB Complex.

You can set these up in as many ways you can imagine really. I wrote more here recently on the beauty of complexes if you want to see a bigger list of their benefits.

2. Trap Bar Deadlifts

Possibly the uncrowned king of the lower body exercises.  It gives the benefits of both the squat and conventional deadlift without the drawbacks of both. The squat is a great lower body movement, but since the bar is placed across the upper back, upper body involvement is well, limited. In contrast, the conventional deadlift gets far more upper body involvement, but the weight distribution often leads to temptation for form to weaken and lower backs to round.

From a cost-benefit perspective, we get the best of both worlds using the trap bar deadlift. We get the desirable upper body involvement of the deadlift, but the weight distribution of the squat with the movement firmly through the heels.

3. Power Clean & Press

The Power Clean & Press is a great movement for developing total body explosiveness. It’s impossible to do one slowly. To top it off, it engages and taxes almost every muscle in the body. As a result, this movement will help add slabs of muscle all over your frame. And the increases you’ll see in power and neuro-muscular coordination will make you a faster athlete too. What more could you want?

4. Pull Ups

A full, properly-executed set of pull ups is one of the best movements you’ll see in slapping on precious width and thickness to the back of a body.

The Latissimus Dorsi attach all the way along the spine. In other words, its one HUGE core muscle. And is key in pulling strength, overall trunk stability in pressing, posture and general longevity. Not that the Pull up solely relies on the Lats, the rest of the upper back comes in to play too. Real bang for your buck. Forget the lat pulldowns.

It’s also a 2-for-1 exercise in as much as varying the grip width, and  whether using a pronated or supinated grip, changes the emphasis on varying parts of the back. But thats an article for another day.

Form is crucial, each rep from a dead hang please. No pathetic half reps allowed.

5. Farmers Walks

Great overall body strength & conditioning movement. To reiterate what Ben Coker said here, they’re a great way to build the back, traps, legs, core and grip.

When you include farmers walks in a program, everything else can’t seem to help but go the right way. They’re an awesome, primal movement pattern that needs to be hit. Leave them out at your peril!Programming

Our crazed gunman then returns and demands:

“How do I put all of this together?”

Like this:
A. Complexes 3×8
B. Trap Deads 3-5rm max
C. Power Clean & Press 5×5
D. Pull ups 3x max reps
E. Farmers Walks 4x50m

Complexes are a great way to warm up the entire body for the rest of the session. 3 sets of 8 does nicely here.  With Trap Bar Deadlifts, we want to work up over as many sets as needed to a strong 3-5 rep max. Everytime we get 5 reps, we add weight the next session.

Similarly with the power clean and press, we aim for 5×5, adding weight from set to set until we can’t get 5 reps, plus these should feel light after the heavy deadlift. With Pull ups, we want to cause as much fatigue as possible to maximally stimulate the upper back, so we go to positive failure on each set. Finally, we hit 4 lengths of 50m with the farmers walk to fry what’s left of our shotgun pal.

Try the above for a great total body workout if you are short on time or just want to get back to basics. Perform twice per week and hit some basic conditioning like hill sprints 2 or 3 times per week on top and suddenly you’ve got a pretty decent program.

Wrap Up 

The reality is obviously that we don’t have to limit ourselves like this. But sometimes adding exercises doesn’t necessarily mean added results.As Albert Einstein said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible but no simpler.”

It’s always a useful exercise to go through your training and work out what exercises are really adding value to your program, and what is just there for the sake of it. Getting back to the basic, shotgun movements can be a great way to keep your training simpler and more effective. Sometimes less is more.

How to Approach Dieting Successfully – by Ben Coker

Summer time is here and I’m guessing a lot of you out there are embarking on a diet of some form. Regardless of your goals; ‘loose a bit of excess’ to ‘get shredded’, dieting is often misguided and executed poorly.  What better time therefore  to lay out the framework for a successful diet to help you avoid pitfalls and confusion in your quest for lean!

 

Weight Training

  • Weight training builds muscle and muscle is hungry therefore more muscle raises resting metabolic rate making you burn more calories throughout the day.
  • Resistance training ramps up your metabolism not just during training but for the whole day due to the metabolic and physiological adaptations that it stimulates in the hours after.
  • Nothing changes in how you lift. You don’t want to loose your muscle when dieting – granted, so just as you built muscle mass by lifting heavy weights you must carry on doing the same to maintain that mass when dieting. Nothing changes apart from maybe cutting down the volume of each session a little. This is because you are in a calorie deficit and you don’t want to damage the muscle to such an extent as to not allow recovery that the amount of calories you are consuming allows.
  • Don’t go light on the weights to ‘cut up’ that myth is horse sh*t. Keep your strength up to maintain fullness and thickness in the muscle plus why would you want to just give up and piss away your hard earned strength gains? Keep them up there. If you do then suddenly you get the benefits of a increase in bodyweight to strength ratio too if that’s your thing. Remember heavy weights built your muscle so continuing to lift them will help maintain them! Don’t believe me? Maybe Ronnie can convince you…

 

Nutrition

  • Eat low GI food sources- Low GI carbs – (fruits, vegetables, sweet potatoes, brown rice, oatmeal), healthy fats and lean protein sources. Read here for more info on building a basic diet.
  • Don’t starve yourself – you must eat often.This is the one people can’t grasp and if by the end of this you still don’t grasp it don’t worry, just do what is instructed. You’ll thank me later. As in bulking you eat every 2-3hours so too is true in dieting you just reduce the number of calories per portion. The process of eating, digesting and assimilating nutrients from food requires energy. This is referred to as dietary induced thermogenesis. By eating little amounts often you keep your metabolism ticking over nicely and burning calories.
  • Aim for around a 500kcal deficit at a time. Once progress has stalled then very gradually reduce your calories again. As mentioned in our previous article, ‘Leave Something in the Tool Box’, it is crucial for continued long term fat loss to not crack that nut with a sledgehammer. Use as little is needed at a time and leave the big guns for later.
  • You want to be consuming the majority of your calories especially carbohydrates around your workout (just before and just after). This will help to shuttle most of those nutrients into your muscles and not get stored as fat. The peri workout window is the time when your muscles most need nutrients to fuel your weight training allowing your to maintain high quality workouts and importantly to allow you to recover form them leading to sustained muscle mass!
  • In dieting protein is even more essential. The calorie deficit can lead to increased protein degradation in the body and so I recommend that you have  between 2-3g per kg bodyweight, moving towards the 3g/kg end when calories are really restricted to ensure there is a flood of amino acids for your muscles to use.
  • Re-feeds are needed. Don’t be a diet Nazi and never allow for a re-feed. If you do then I declare you an official diet retard! Cheat meals become of more importance the further into a diet/the lower % bodyfat you are. Re-feeding allows for whatever nutrients your muscles have been missing to be stockpiled up and your muscles can restore themselves. The sudden injection of increased nutrients also ramps up your metabolism. Reduced calorie intakes over time have the effect of down regulating your metabolism making it harder to burn calories and thus fat despite the fact you are in a calorie deficit! It is important not to abuse this tool. I purposefully refer to them as re-feeds and not cheat meals for that very reason. Charles Poliquin notes on the rules of successful re-feeding here.
  • Drink water and lots of it. Water has no calories and is an appetite suppressant, but it also helps the body to metabolize stored fat. When the kidneys do not have enough water, they cannot function properly. The liver steps in as a backup, but doing so hinders its ability to metabolize fat effectively. People who are trying to lose weight but fail to maintain euhydration can’t metabolize the fat adequately! As an extra point try to drink very cold water as the body has to heat it up to body temperature before it can be useful and this burns a few more calories. Every little helps.

 

Cardio

  • Low intensity morning fasted cardio is great for fat oxidation. After fasting whilst being asleep free fatty acids are floating around in the blood as your body’s main fuel source.  If you eat breakfast then you will stimulate a rise in the body’s insulin production and insulin inhibits lipolysis (the breakdown of fat). Performing low/moderate intensity cardio upon waking before breakfast allows you to continue the oxidation of those plasma free fatty acids. Fat oxidation increases up to and peaks at around 60-65% VO2 max (1) so that’s your target point to be exercising at.
  • High intensity isn’t bad for fat loss though. The nature of the energy systems used means that carbohydrate becomes the predominant fuel source. Romijn et al (1995) conclude that at higher intensities (85% VO2 max) the oxidation of fat is lower but there is still substantial contribution. Therefore he argues that high intensity exercise is just as substantial for fat loss as medium intensities (but not low intensity) (2). High intensity exercise will most definitely ramp up your metabolism for the rest of the day too. On a air of caution thought: Due to the fuel systems used in high intensity exercise it will deplete glycogen stores leading to reduced performance in your weights session if done overboard. The combination of too much high intensity exercise and resistance training will leave the muscle depleted of glycogen whilst dieting. These factors are detrimental to muscular strength, size and fullness.

I personally, as do many, feel that if keeping large to extreme  amounts of muscle mass (e.g. bodybuilding) is the goal then avoid high intensity exercise. If your not concerned about the keeping the ‘nth’ degree of mutant muscle mass then high intensity cardio is definitely an option and conveys great conditioning carry overs.

  • Don’t go gun ho on the cardio form day one. Again referencing our previous article, ‘Leave Something in the Tool Box’, start with just tweaking your diet then the next progression would be 20 minutes each morning of cardio, for example. This leaves you room to progress up to say 30 minutes then 40 minutes (amongst dropping calories in and around). You can also add in more cardio after a weights session if needed. Doing cardio after weights and not before (if you opt for two cardio sessions a day) is very important. Just like after sleeping, the effects of heavy resistance training has lead to a temporary depletion of muscle glycogen so when you exercise your body will utilises free fatty acids as an energy source quicker meaning more bang for your buck with the fat loss. It also mean that glycogen is prioritised for the weight training allowing for heavier weights to be lifted essential in keeping up muscle size and fullness.

 

Your mind – Champion it!

  • Dieting can play havoc on your mind. I personally can’t help feel that I’m missing out on even more growth. ‘I could be growing, instead I’m just staying the same’ is a typical thought that can plague you. You have to say goodbye to growing for a little while and learn to appreciate that now you are going to showcase your master piece you’ve spent long hours of lifting and eating to create. After all, this is what its all about right? Being muscular and shredded!
  • Another psychological demon is the belief that your hard earned muscle is wasting away with every meal you have where you don’t pile in a 1000kcal plus! Be a champion of mind. Don’t let dieting plague your thoughts. If you do the aforementioned points in this article your not going to waste away. Your body is robust and will do what you want it to given that you do the right thinks.
  • A final note on being hungry. Deal with it. Learn to champion the emotion of hunger. Your body is fed, just not your fat cells!  Hunger is just in your mind. Every minute of hunger your experience you are getting leaner! This mindset actually helps me to enjoy being hungry! Drinking water is a great help and diet soda effectively curbs hunger BUT and I stress, the later is far from perfect and you should avoid ideally as they contain other ‘miscellaneous’ ingredients that are non conducive to results and health if abused. Having your re-feeds should be enough to get you through. If not you ain’t meant to be in this game.

...the Georgia Dogs way.

 

References

1) Achten J, Jeukendrup AE. Maximal fat oxidation in trained males. Int J Sports Med 2003; 24(8): 603-608

2) Romijn JA, Coyle EF, Sidossis LS, Zhang XJ, Wolfe RR. Relationship between fatty acid delivery and fatty acid oxidation during strenuous exercise. J Appl Physiol. 1995 Dec;79(6):1939-45.

The Forgotten Art of Walking – by Jamie Bolton

Walking. The most natural thing there possibly is for humans. Yet why do so many people do everything they can to avoid it?
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The world is a ridiculous place. I see people spend more time looking for a parking space that’s closest by to the shopping centre, workplace, wherever they’re going, than it would taken to have gone in the first space they’d seen and walked. Why do we do this? Half the time people are doing this after having only driven a minuscule distance anyway. Leave the car and get walking! Most will claim that it ‘saves time’. Really? An extra minute walking is really worth ‘saving’ (assuming you actually did save time)? The large bulge protruding above your belt says otherwise.

This instance below from the USA really just sums up the world gone mad – an escalator to save walking up stairs – to go to the gym? Wow.

So wrong.

Walking is seemingly a long forgotten habit. Yet our ancestors would walk routinely for hours on end, to scour for prey to hunt, to gather food, and to travel, amongst other things.  I realise that we live in a far different world now (at least the western world does), but there is always value in looking at how the human body evolved to function, rather than how we make it function.

To hammer home the point, consider this. Walking at a reasonable pace can burn around 300 calories an hour. A pittance really I bet most of you are thinking? Lets say you add 30minutes of general walking to your daily routine. Walking instead of driving to the shops. Parking a bit further away perhaps. Getting off the bus a couple stops early. Whatever. That’s 150 calories a day extra expended. Or 1050 calories a week. Or 4200 a month. Or 54,600 a year.

To put that into context, a pound of fat is 3500 calories. All other things being equal, that 30minutes of extra daily activity equates to a 15.6lb or 7kg of fat loss over the course of the year. All for very little, barely even noticeable additional activity.

I’m not even going to go explain the active recovery benefits of walking or the benefits it offers to someone looking to put on size and still be able to move without breathing like a fat boy in a bakery, it should be obvious.

The take home message is this- whoever you are, whatever your training or goals, get outside and walk more.

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