Nutrition: 17 things you already know but are not doing.

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Nutrition: 17 things you already know probably but are not doing.

The world of nutrition with regards to weight loss, or more specifically fat loss, can get very misleading and can leave you feeling confused. Information and advice is readily available at the click of a mouse and your friend gary google will happily give you 137,000,000 results for fat loss, however in this age of information & technology we seem to be forgetting the basic principals and potentially losing sight of what and why we eat certain foods.

This quick blog is to summarise what I believe you already know, but are potentially not doing with your current eating pattern and lifestyle. I am not going to blow your mind with any radical new approaches to healthy eating, likewise there are no secrets or exclusive tips contained in this blog, just a recap and refresh of what you probably already know but are also probably not doing on a consistent basis.

 So here we go………

1) If you can grow it, chances are you should eat it.

2) If you can pick it, chances are you should eat it.

3) If you can kill it, chances are you should eat it.

4) Eggs are the ‘eggception’ (see what I did there?) to the above rules, eggs are your friend, don’t worry about cholesterol unless you are already an extremely overweight, sofa ridden, chain smoking, heavy drinker, with a longstanding history of family heart disease/problems. Eggs are a truly fantastic source of protein. An egg has an extremely high biological value, meaning that it provides a great supply of complete proteins. It’s not that the protein content is super high in an egg (average of 6 to 8 grams per egg) it’s the value and the quality of the protein that makes it a wise choice.

5) Microwave meals should not ever be a reality in your life, ever, fullstop.

6) If the food you are about to eat has a TV commercial, then it is perhaps not the most optimal choice in terms of nutrient density!

7) If the food you are about to eat is represented/advertised by a cartoon character, this also isn’t perhaps not the most optimal choice in terms of nutrient density!

8) Low fat products are not the answer to losing fat.

9) Your plate should always contain vegetables. (Ideally a third/quarter of a normal sized plate).

10) Supplements should only be introduced after you have established a consistent and regular eating pattern and shouldn’t be relied as a meal replacement opposed to real food. The main exception to this rule being post workout for CERTAIN individuals.

11) Banish fizzy drinks from your household; cast them out into the cold world.

12) Drink more water. See my previous blog simply titled ‘Are you drinking enough water’? https://tristanbuttle.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/are-you-drinking-enough-water/

13) Don’t overeat on fruit. Fruit is not your enemy but does contain sugar, so overeating can jack up your daily intake. Be sensible and be moderate with your fruit.

14) Nuts can be a great snack, and a tremendous source of good fats & protein. However, do not overeat on nuts (I have tendency to this, bring a full bag of nuts to work, 30 mins late, smashed them all in!) as they are calorific and easy to binge on. Control your intake and take a measure for the day. This also applies to nut butters and oils.

15) Do NOT fear carbohydrate! Think about the timings of when you eat your carbs instead of completely cutting them out. I personally advise timing your carb intake around your workout, and potentially lowering your carb intake on non training days. This is obviously case specific.

16) If you work in an office environment you don’t need to eat donuts/cakes/mounds of sugar simply because it’s ‘Friday’. Don’t be bullied into fitting in and bowing down to pier pressure, stay strong to your goals. If your colleagues truly understand, eventually they will support your goals. If not, that is their problem, not yours.

17) Get creative; there is no need to simply live on chicken and broccoli 4 times a day! Learn how to cook in different styles, try new things, embrace change in the kitchen, get social and involve your friends/partner/husband/wife and kids in the creative process.

Most importantly, how you eat should be a direct correlation on how you perform and how you feel. We are all programmed differently and uniquely and what works for one person, is not guaranteed to work for you. Your nutritional plan should always be specific to you as an individual.

How many of the above 17 pointers do you adhere to on a consistent basis?

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, if you found it useful please like and share with others.

Any questions, give me a shout on here or on Facebook.

 https://www.facebook.com/TristanButtlePersonalTrainer

 Regards,

Tristan

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Don’t sweat about sweating.

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I encounter many people who I feel are scared or embarrassed to sweat when exercising. This is totally understandable, as sweating is an involuntary action controlled by the autonomic nervous system, which is basically the part of our nervous system over which we have no control. We don’t consciously think to ourselves ‘this is tough I think I’ll start sweating now’ and therefore as we have no control over it, it can be a unique experience to some, especially if an individual is new to exercise.

We also live in a somewhat materialistic world where judgement of others can easily be made, and VERY incorrect correlations between sweat and so called ‘fitness levels’ are made by the educated and often opinionated population. Very often when dealing with individuals new to training there can be a reluctance to continue training once they have began to sweat, however this is actually the point where the body is beginning to adapt to the training.

Sweating, or perspiration as a more technical terminology, is basically what gives your body the ability to regulate its temperature. During exercise, your core body temperature obviously increases and this fires a signal in your brain (in the hypothalamus) to start a cooling mechanism within the skin (in the sweat glands), hence sweating begins.

Sweat is almost entirely made of water, with the inclusion of small amounts of other chemicals such as urea, ammonia, along with salts & sugars. Sweat leaves your body through the pores in your skin. When the sweat hits the air, it causes evaporation. As the sweat evaporates off your skin, you will in turn begin to cool down. Therefore you can begin to see that sweating provides an efficient, automatic cooling system and is completely natural and normal.

It is a myth that an individual who sweats excessively whilst exercising is unfit; the reality is in fact quite the opposite. An individual who is in tune with their body, who trains regularly and has adaptation to the regulation of their core body temperature, will very often begin to sweat in the early stages of their training as their body prepares for the task in hand.  The cooling system of an active individual will be more effective/efficient than that of a sedentary individual.

The actual amount an individual sweats is dependent on many factors. These include: gender, the number of sweat glands you have (more glands often equals more sweat, on average anywhere between 2 & 4 million glands per person), the environmental temperature, and of course  how intensity of the training being performed. There are also a number of emotional factors that can affect the level of perspiration including anxiety levels, stress, nerves, anger, embarrassment and even fear.

Before, during and after training hydration is obviously vital to performance and recovery, no matter what your goal is. Check out one of my previous blog’s simply titled ‘Are you drinking enough water’ for more info on how much water you should be drinking. With excessively intense sessions, electrolyte replacements can be an option, as stated earlier, sweat isn’t simply just water and replacement of sugars/salts can be beneficial for increased recovery.

If you take away just one thing from this blog is should be that:

Sweating is COMPLETELY NORMAL, and you shouldn’t ever feel self conscious about experiencing sweat during your training.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, if you found it useful please like and share with others.

Any questions, give me a shout on here or on Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/TristanButtlePersonalTrainer

Tristan

Chest Training: Your guide to doing what is optimal.

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Chest Training: Opening your treasure chest!

Why you aren’t seeing your true potential and how to do what’s optimal.

From the ages of 15 to 25, I was a stereotypical guy in the gym. I LOVED training chest and arms, and chest and arms, arms and chest, chest and chest, arms and arm etc, you get the picture!

Don’t get me wrong I have always trained other muscle groups, but when I was younger (I am 36 this year) I always found myself desiring two major areas of development: chest and arms or the t shirt muscles! To this day, the average male client I deal with will very often also cite these areas as key components of their training.

When it comes to chest training, Ive tried a truly massive variety of approaches: High Volume/Low Volume (Dorian Yates style) /Tri sets/Giant Sets/ 500 rep workouts (simply awful!)/body weight only & every barbell/dumbbell angle possible. Over the years through continually educating myself both with practical application and scientific research I feel now is an appropriate stage for me to share some of this valuable knowledge with you to help you with your own chest development. You may also see why you are NOT getting the results you wish for and/or you are not using the most optimal methods you can for this development.

Please note that this blog is centred purely around compositional/hypertrophy goals, whilst there are some crossovers to the application for power/pure strength the tempos and contractions detailed would not apply.

Pressing Movements:

Step 1: Chest Bouncing & Mind Muscle connection:

Step 1 begins BEFORE you even pick a single weight. What I want you to do right now is attempt to bounce/flex your pectoral muscles. Literally try to bounce your pectorals as you are reading. Flex and physically move your pecs. My reason for this strange request is that you NEED to learn how to connect with the muscle in question so you can flex against resistance when you are lifting. Once you have learnt how to contract/bounce/flex your pectorals you need to then apply this when you are pressing, more of this later in terms of how and when to move. For now, start bouncing your chest.

Step 2: The Bench Set Up.

Whether you are using a barbell or dumbbells the set up/body position you adapt is essential to getting the most beneficial pathway of movement. You need to adopt your usual bench position( feet to the floor, back flat) HOWEVER you must shove your weight down into the bench, place your weight through your heels, and through your back. Avoid placing your feet on the bench. Before you commence you must also drop your shoulders down away from your ears. If you are starting any press with your shoulders forward (internally rotated) you are not only limiting your range of movement (R.O.M.) but you are also taking focus out of the pectoral and into the anterior (front) deltoid. EXTRA TIP: if you have shorter legs, and struggle to place your feet on the floor, use a step for support, and drive your weight through the step.

Step 3: Execution 

To encourage a full ROM, take a slightly wider than shoulder grip and aim to flare the elbows out as the weight lowers towards the chest. Aim for the centre of the chest, but do not touch the body with the bar/dumbbells, then continue to press the weight back up through the chest, keeping the elbows soft at the top of the press, never fully locking out. Throughout the entire movement, keep your body shoved towards the floor, and as you press the weight focus on squeezing the hands/elbows in to squeeze and contract hard at the top.

Step 4:Tempo

It is essential you create time under tension (TUT) and place as much stress/emphasis on the working muscle as possible. To extend TUT you must work on your tempo (speed) with particular focus on how you the lower the bar/dumbbells.

The lowering phase of the bar/dumbbells MUST always be SLOWER than the lifting phase. My golden rule /mantra is ‘ALWAYS LOWER SLOWER’!

Sadly I see the complete opposite of this on a pretty much daily basis. A slow lifting of a weight (that’s often too heavy) no pause or contraction, followed by the weight crashing back down in a fast uncontrolled manner.

My recommended Tempo for hypertrophy based goals is 3121, which in terms of practical application translates as:

-Lower the weight for 3 seconds.

-PAUSE at the bottom phase of the movement for 1 second.

-PRESS the weight over 2 seconds.

-SQUEEZE at contraction (top of movement) for 1 second.

Doing this would give an average TUT of 40-60 seconds per set of work (based on performing 8-12 reps).

So far, so good? Hopefully. So what does chest bouncing/pec flexing have to do with all of this?

The contraction at the top of the move is where you need to connect with your pectorals. If you can bounce your pecs you are on the way to creating a strong mind-muscle connection, therefore when you flex against resistance you will create far more muscular tension in the correct areas. I would suggest that by following all of the above pointers, you may need to lower your usual weight selection. Technique, tempo and stimulation should all come before weights selection in terms of priority of importance and reflection on your results. Your ego may take a battering but it will be worth it. I invite you to take this opportunity to try a new approach, think about the actual muscle in question and focus less on the actual weight used.

Resistance Training for composition should NEVER be about simply moving a weight from ‘a to b’. It should ALWAYS be about moving the weight with as much tension (difficulty) as possible.

Choice of exercises for optimal chest development:
In order to adhere to the above guidelines and to encourage you to learn how to fully contract your pectorals I strongly suggest introducing the following exercise into your chest routine/pressing program:

Incline dumbbell neutral grip bench press.

If you can master this exercise you will begin to create a strong mind to muscle connection with your pectorals. Using all of the above pointers, if you focus on driving your elbows in towards each other at the top of the press and fully contracting your pectorals you will literally transform your dumbbell pressing work. Keep your wrists strong and drive through the centre of the chest through every repetition. Do not confuse this with a close grip dumbbell press; it’s a totally different exercise!

I would always look to and encourage you to vary the angles in which you target/stimulate your chest. However, remember that when performing any incline work (bar or dumbbells) the steeper the angle the greater potential there is for you anterior deltoid to take over. Logically thinking you will know that if the bench angle continues to increase, a bench press eventually becomes a shoulder press. I would advise no higher than a 1 or 2 notch incline bench for chest focus.

One of my favoured pieces of reference work is from the great Tudor Bompa. Tudor conducted massive research using Electromyographical (EMG) to measure the actual muscle fiber stimulation utilised in a variety of exercises. This is where science meets practical application. If you imagine 100 represents maximum potential stimulation and 0 is nothing at all, his results for chest based exercises where as follows:

Pectoralis Major (Chest)
Decline dumbbell bench press —————-93%
Decline bench press, Olympic bar(OB)———89
Push-ups between benches ——————–88
Flat dumbbell bench press ——————-87
Flat bench press (OB) ———————–85
Flat dumbbell flyes ————————–84

Pectoralis Minor (Chest)
Incline dumbbell bench press —————-91%
Incline bench press (OB) ——————–85
Incline dumbbell flyes ———————–83
Incline bench press (smith machine) ———81

Tudor’s research reinforces my own practical experience and experimentation and as result I rarely advocate a flat barbell press into a routine. I would urge you to utilise both decline and incline pressing into your training routines.

If you are not currently utilising free weights of any kind into your routine, do not worry, you can still apply everything I have detailed above to a standard chest press machine. If the machine you are using has the option of a neutral grip, try it and focus on applying the contraction outlined above at the top of the press.

When performing any form of Fly movement the same outlines above also still apply. The bench set up and the tempo would be performed exactly as outlined above. I always describe fly movements as ‘hugging’ motions. Your elbows must always be slightly flexed and the resistance should travel through the centre of the chest, this is basic stuff but often I see a fly movement becoming more into a press, which in my mind is the equivalent of doing two things inadequately opposed to doing one thing optimally.

It you take only one thing away from reading this I would like it to be that you apply more focus, energy, connection, intention, and concentration into all of your chest workouts and less attention to simply how much total weight you can move.

I guarantee that with less weight, using all of the above principals, you will develop and make far greater gains and progress than before.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, if you found it useful please like and share with others.

Any questions, give me a shout on here or on facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/TristanButtlePersonalTrainer

Tristan