THE FOOLPROOF WAY TO PREVENT TRAINING INJURIES

Train cool, not like a fool.

What do fractions and fitness have in common?

Answer: With fractions what you do to the top (numerator) you have to do to the bottom (Denominator). Similarly, with training the attention dedicated to the upper body should also be applied to the lower half, and what you do to your front you should do in equal measure to the back.

Thus today’s post will cover some key preventative measures to reduce the likelihood of sustaining a major training related injury. (To keep things sweet and simple this article will mainly focus on upper body injuries, commonly associated with the shoulders. Lower body issues will be elaborated upon more thoroughly in future).

1) Make structural integrity a training priority

Note: This step alone will increase the longevity of your training years and if implemented early will save you a great deal of pain down the road.

When it comes to training the vast majority of typical bodybuilding and strength-training routines overlook (or worse, downright ignore) the critical importance of maintaining structural integrity and harmony between muscle groups throughout the body.

What is structural integrity?

Simply put, it’s the strength balance between the anterior (front chain) and posterior (back chain) muscles.

To avoid needles injuries, muscle imbalances and problems with posture, it’s imperative that there isn’t a significant variance in strength level between the muscle groups of the front and the back.

Muscle imbalances are incredibly common among seasoned lifters and gym rats alike, often the result of too much chest and arm (front work) focus and not enough back, rear delts and rotator cuff attention.

Over time, this unbalanced, one sided training approach will inevitably lead to an imbalance and is the big reason why many shoulder injuries, rotator cuff tears and strains are so prevalent amongst lifters.

What winds up happening is the chest and front delts end up becoming significantly stronger than the muscles of the back and in effect overpower them. This creates a muscle imbalance, and is the primary reason that the hunched shoulder look is prevalent.

Overtime due to lack of stimulation the muscles of the rear delts and rotator cuff weaken further and SLAP, BANG… Injuries, in the form of a rotator cuff tear or shoulder impingement etc.

On the contrary, don’t think this is merely relegated to those of us who regularly engage in the practice of blessing iron. Oh no.

It pertains greatly to everybody, whether you train or not. Due to the fact that as human beings the vast majority of the activities we engage in happen directly in front of us. (Don’t get it? hold your horses and all will be revealed).

See, think about this, you look down at your phone, computers. You pick up your knife and fork to shove grub down the ole pie hole, pick up a book or magazine to read etc. You get the general idea. All these activities take place in front of your torso.

If you’re like the majority of people they’re usually looking down at their phones, laptops etc. for extended periods of time, ultimately resulting in posture issues (the dreaded hunched shoulders) down the road, and potential shoulder/rotator cuff injuries aforementioned earlier.

So how’d you avoid this unpleasantness?

How do you best avoid this scenario and greatly reduce the likelihood of experiencing such an injury? (definitely not fun).

Great questions, that brings us to point numero deux.

2) Include a posterior chain exercise in every workout

I’ve adopted the practice of making the first exercise of every upper body workout a pulling motion to effectively target the back, which as I’ve mentioned before is often neglected at least in comparison to the more favorable “show muscles” of the front.

I routinely begin each session with 2-3 sets of face-pulls as a preventative measure.

So, taking into consideration everything mentioned earlier in this post, the following simple exercise list will give you an idea of some of the counter measures you can take to combat “deltoid destruction” and “back blowout.”

Exercises to throw into your training mix:

  • Face pulls
  • Rear delt flyes w/ dumbells or on pec dec machine
  • Pull up/chin up variations
  • Any bent over rowing motion
  • Deadlifts/ Back bridges/ hyper-extensions 

Include the following pulling movements in your training to ensure you hit the muscles of the posterior chain. These’ll act as a counter balance to all the pressing/pushing motions and work you do to your front.

In my opinion, the pulling to pushing ratio of movements in your routine should be about 70/30. (Obviously favouring pulling motions).

Remember, you’ve got to compensate for the fact that you spend a lot of your day involved in tasks that take place at the front of your body, let alone the exercises you do to pump up your “show muscles.”

3) Understand the purpose of assistance movements in injury prevention

Though compound movements (bench press, pull ups, overhead press, squats etc) are great for stimulating overall muscle growth and strength development, they cannot engage all aspects of a muscle.

Relying solely on compound lifts will also lead to muscle imbalances as weaker muscle groups will give way to stronger ones when performing a certain lift.

That’s where assistance or isolation movements come into play. They’re great as a means of specifically targeting, stimulating and strengthening the weaker muscle groups.

I view the assistance exercises as not just a means of isolating certain parts of a given muscle, but also a way of ensuring you strengthen and engage weaker or less developed areas of your physique, thus maintaining a good strength ratio between the various muscle groups.

THERE YOU HAVE IT.

3 simple steps to maintain order, harmony and balance throughout your body and greatly reduce the instance of injury.

If you enjoyed this post, found the content useful and want more info like it, there’s 2 simple thing you can do effective immediately:

That’s all for now folks…. TTFN.

3 PILLARS FOR A KILLER PHYSIQUE

3 pillars for a killer physique

“Simplicity is the greatest form of complexity.” As the saying goes and it seems to hold weight. The fitness industry (like many industries) loves over complicating, hyping and peddling half-truths etc… yada, yada… you get the picture.

Anyways, that’s a whole other chapter in and of itself.

Outlined in this article are three key points that have certainly benefited me, and I’m certain that, should you choose to adopt them into your training arsenal, (if you haven’t already) they’ll bring significant and dramatic effects to your physique.

The three points listed combine together to produce an outcome I’ve dubbed the “TRIPLE D’S

Density, Definition & Detail!!

 If you structure your training and nutrition in a way that enables you to direct your attention to these areas, I’m certain you’ll relish the result.

Enough chatter. You ready to get down to it?

1) Strength (Relative) : To increase density and carve out detail

Strength takes top priority, because developing strength is the cornerstone in creating a base or laying the foundations for a solid, dense physique. In fact, if you were to focus on honing your strength level and getting incredibly lean, you’d carve out a pretty damn impressive physique.

Now let’s take it a step further and say that relative strength is more impressive and will do way more for your physique than total strength. Think about it logically, if you can bench press 315lbs at a bodyweight 175lbs and 8% body fat compared to some other guy that can press the same weight at 230lbs and 20% body fat, who’s stronger? (I leave you to decide).

Improving your relative strength is simple in nature, but far from easy in practice. Why you ask?

Because you need to progressively increase poundage and get stronger whilst maintaining a lean body. (We’ll talk more about body fat a little later).

Lift and progress to lifting heavier weights or adding reps with the same weight each workout. Make it your aim to improve on a weekly basis either by adding an additional rep or increasing poundage through a technique called micro loading. (For those who don’t know micro loading involves strapping on a pair of fractional plates i.e 0.5lbs-2.5lbs to the ends of the bar to continue incrementally progressing).

This is a highly effective strategy, since it’s not always an option to slap on 5-10lbs to the bar and rep out every workout.

Remember, the key pointer here is, that muscles are adaptive tissues that respond to stress and tension. (Without getting too scientific) They grow and adapt to handle stresses so that your body is ready and prepared to deal with a similar challenge in the foreseeable future. (The challenge in this case, the stimulus from weight training).

Muscle is therefore created in an attempt to make the body more efficient at dealing with the physical stress of lifting weights, thus making it imperative that you increase the stimulus overtime, to avoid stagnation.

On a side note, lifting heavy weights is only one form of progression, there’re other ways to challenge your body, as it’s not always feasible to continue upping the poundage. Eventually there comes a point when you just can’t possibly get any stronger. (To put it in perspective, if the human body was capable of continuing to lift heavier with no upper limit, everybody would be lifting 3,000lbs).

That said however, the majority of people are a way off from maxing their strength potential.

So back to the point, lifting heavy has two major advantages over lighter “pump” workouts.  The benefit being an increase in muscle density and (obviously) overall physical strength. This added density gives the muscles a hard, angular look or what I refer to as “marble flesh.”

Personally, I employ a rep range of around 4-8 reps. I use a method known as RPT (reverse pyramid training) meaning my first set is the heaviest. I usually hit the first set for 4 followed by a set of 6 and finally a third set of 8 reps.

2) Low body fat: To boost definition and bring out detail

abs

A lean individual, showcases chiseled, dense musculature. Cuts, separation and definition all become more prominent as adipose is stripped away. The idea is to look like you’re carved out granite. A damn solid sculpture.

Being lean in the 7-10% (the more you tend towards to lower end of the spectrum, the more pronounced the effect) body fat range will make you look more angular and in certain eyes this is more attractive. (If you catch my drift).

Having a low body fat isn’t just an asset when it comes to pure cosmetics either. No, no, no. Being lean will have positive effects on endocrine functioning and hormonal profile. A leaner body has an “easier” time utilising nutrients and directing them towards muscle growth and cell repair than a fatter individual.

Just like anything you can run into issues or too much of a good thing. Eventually the leaner you get the body begins to run certain issues i.e. decline in testosterone declines, mood issues, muscle loss and a dive in sex drive. (None of these are desirable).

These problems usually arise in individuals maintaining sub 5% body fat for extended periods of time. (Which isn’t the vast majority of folk, I might add).

Getting down around 7-10% body fat range will not result in those damned pesky issues and you’ll still look fantastic.

The trick to getting lean and staying there, is to find a suitable way to eat less, while getting in essential nutrients to nourish your body. I personally like intermittent fasting, but you don’t have to fast to get lean.

Find a way of eating that allows to you to:

  • Eat at a calorie deficit
  • Fits your schedule/lifestyle

If you can stick to it, that’s worth it’s weight in gold.

 Proportion

Pecs too big for the arms? delts dwarfed? Having the right balance and keeping muscle groups proportionate with each other is key in looking good (let’s face it, we all want to look good on some level).

Unless you want to look like Johnny Bravo, (nothing against you) you need proportion to maintain balance and symmetry of your physique.

From a purely aesthetic standpoint it’s a good idea to attempt to bring and model your physique on the classical V shape.

Broad, masculine shoulders, wide, flaring cobra like lats that sit atop a taut, slender waistline housing a diamond cut midsection.

Focus on sculpting your shoulders, upper back and lats to make your waist appear smaller. Bring your legs on par with your upper body. Build your upper chest to give your pecs an armor plated appearance.

If you need a little inspiration, take a look at images of the Roman and Greek sculptures, hell go visit a museum or art gallery and get a firsthand view.

So, in a nutshell

  • Get Strong
  • Get Lean
  • Get Proportionate

 From now on make your mantra

“Density, Definition & Detail.” 

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HOW TO GET & STAY LEAN ON AN ERRATIC SCHEDULE

Meals

Ah… it’s nearing that time of year again. Out go the sweat pants and jumpers, in come the shorts and tank tops. Beach season, pool parties and barbeques. Yep, summer’s nearly underway.

Over the past three months, I’ve been busy filming a short film. (Unrelated subject matter). Without going into too much detail, It consumed virtually all my time. There’s a lot of work that goes into it, especially when you’re the writer, director, director of photography (camera and lighting) and editor all rolled in one, and on a tight schedule.

Much as it pains me to type this… training just wasn’t top priority. Unfortunately it had to take a backseat.

Many will shudder at the thought of reducing their training frequency and volume, fearing the loss of their gains.

A drop frequency and volume, alone won’t necessarily result in massive drops and losses, providing adequate stimulus and intensity is maintained.

I was literally training 1-2 (that’s 2 hours a week) times a week hitting heavy, basic movements. My primary objective as always, to progressively increase strength. And you can still get stronger while training only 1-2 times a week.

Since I regularly adhere to a 3 day a week lifting regime, it wasn’t mentally problematic.

As we’re all aware, nutrition is the other part of the equation. I used the same strategy I implemented during my time in Spain at the end of 2014. I was busy traveling, sightseeing and exploring and also rarely saw the inside of a gym.

I was pretty active on a daily basis. I’d actually kick each day off with varying degrees of calisthenics movements and due to the nature of my trip, I ended up walking places an awful lot. (I even found a nice steep hill and set of steps to run up and down like a maniac).

Now, I’ve been implementing some form of intermittent fasting daily over the last 4 years. So I’m pretty accustomed to going without food for stretches of time. So this made staying lean more manageable.

My approach is as follows:

Meal 1: 1-3pm

Protein, fats & greens (Small meal)

Example: Chicken breast & broccoli w/ coconut oil

Meal 2: 5-7pm

Protein, fats & greens (moderate meal)

Example: Salmon, green beans & salad w/ ½ avocado

Meal 3: 10-11pm

Protein, carbs & fats (Largest meal)

Example: Turkey & potatoes + (optional Sweet treat)

I didn’t always adhere to the schedule allotted above and I didn’t always eat 3 meals. I rotated the food choices frequently in accordance with personal preference and availability.

The one thing I did consistently was eat in a manner that enabled me to maintain sufficient nutrient uptake and simply tweaked and adjusted meals based on feeling and look. If I felt really light, I’d eat a little more, usually in the form of carbs. If I felt stuffed and uncomfortable, I’d cut back and reduce the total food volume. The idea is to find what works for your body.

The most important consideration when dieting to maintain or trim down is identifying a satisfying way to eat. Hunger is the bane of fat loss, because most don’t have the ability to tolerate it. If you fill up on foods that satisfy you and keep you tied over, that’ll alleviate the unpleasantness that usually accompanies hunger. (Why make things unnecessarily hard on yourself?).

Now, diet is specific. It varies from individual to individual. You can’t take one approach and deem it appropriate for everybody.

Nothing was or is set in stone. The arrangement and layout is merely a sample, to demonstrate the manner of eating I used. (In fact I’m still eating this way today, because I enjoy it and it works for me).

The key is to experiment with different foods and ways of eating to find what works for your unique structure, metabolism and biochemistry.

That’s the art and science behind it. What works for you won’t necessarily work for me and vice versa.

This eating arrangement affords itself well to fat loss, due to the simple fact that it’s not heavily packed, calorically speaking. In fact it’s damn light.

But that’s not the point.

The real takeaway from the above is:

1) Whole foods take priority.

Real, solid, nutrient dense foods should comprise the bulk of you’re diet. Sure you can eat as much processed crap as you want and still “lose weight” if you’re eating below your body’s requirements. However, I’m willing to bet you want to preserve your health so you can keep on rocking the good life. If the majority of your nutrition comes from whole foods, you’ll be supplying your body with all the necessary macro and micronutrients, which in turn enable it to function and perform optimally.

I’m not against eating a little junk now and then, but junk tends to be less filling than nutritionally complete foods. As a result of this when the hunger demon strikes, you’re more likely to cave in and gobble all those goodies, setting yourself up for a perpetual nightmare. By all means have your cake and eat it, just be selective and mindful when you do it.

2) Eating modest earlier & larger later in the day

This ties in, and works well alongside fasting. I often break the fast with a lighter meal, gradually increasing the calorie intake as the day wages on.

During late evening or night I switch gears and consume the bulk of my calories. I prefer eating this way. It helps keep me satisfied and aids sleep at night. From a hormonal standpoint it makes sense. Eating carbs releases serotonin (feel good factor) in the brain, which in turn helps you wind down. From an anecdotal perspective, this method helps me stay on track and avoid over eating. I notice when I eat carb dense meals earlier in the day, I tend to get hungry much sooner than intended.

3) Intermittent fasting is just a tool

Fasting isn’t magic. It’s an effective way of eating, that when correctly implemented should allow you greater liberty in dropping fat & building muscle. It should free up your time and day. People make the mistake of getting too caught up with the little details, like sticking to an eating window. If they happen to go over that window by a few minutes or couldn’t eat at a specified time they freak out and stress over it.  That completely defeats the purpose. You don’t have to be so damn rigid about eating all your food in some arbitrary 8hr window.

These days I don’t cling rigidly to an “eating window.” I just like pushing my first meal further into the day and allowing roughly 3.5 – 4hrs gaps in-between for digestion. The main thing is to eat appropriately for your goals. Always keep your goals in mind.

The info presented here is merely in place to act as an example. It’s my method and it works for me.

I’ve come to realise training and eating are unique processes, and therefore needs be taken on an individual basis. Sure, you can learn the basic principles, but self-experimentation and implementation is what it really boils down to.

EXPERIMENT, IMPLEMENT & ENJOY…FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU!!

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