How to convince the world you are weird.

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Defining weird:

Adjective: weird; comparative adjective: weirder; superlative adjective: weirdest

synonyms: uncanny, eerie, unnatural, preternatural, supernatural, unearthly, other-worldly, unreal, ghostly, mysterious, mystifying, strange, abnormal, unusual.

‘I mean, obviously a lot of people look at you…and they think it’s kind of strange, what you’re doing. But those are the people who don’t know much about it. As soon as you find out what the whole thing is about, then it’s just like any other thing. It’s not any stranger as going into a car…and trying to go a quarter mile in five seconds. l mean, that, for me, is strange’.

-Arnold Schwarzenegger. Pumping Iron.

Over the years I have noted and observed the reactions of individuals who are faced with the actions of either myself or others within the fitness industry. When I refer to the industry for the sake of this blog, I am also referring to anyone who trains regularly and makes an effort to life the lifestyle they desire which is often based on their goals, and not just those who work within the industry.

Generally speaking as individuals we don’t always handle change all that positively. We make think we do, but change can sometimes bring about feelings of doubt, uncertainty and a lack of control. When faced with an individual who is doing something different to what we believe is ‘normal’ this can be off-putting because we don’t fully understand. If used positively, the perceived ‘weirdness’ or unfamiliar behaviour of others can lead to some questions being asked that could potentially help your current situation, this is true for most avenues of life but especially with regards to training and nutrition.

When it comes to training/nutrition the reality is that these ‘weird’ habits are only weird because the behaviours are not considered the ‘norm’ to others. This is mainly due to a lack of understanding on their part.

Now don’t get me wrong, if someone is performing an exercise that has been clearly ‘made up’ or a YouTube emulation, there is nothing beneficial to be learnt other than what to avoid doing! What I am referring to is the behaviour of those around you that may be a little different or seem a little weird from which you can learn, and in turn hopefully progress.

I have a theory that (WITHIN REASON) nothing is weird if as individuals we feel comfortable and relaxed. If you don’t believe me try hugging a stranger in the street and you’ll see my point! However hugging a loved one isn’t weird is it? BUT if we where all raised to hug strangers in the street from birth would it still be weird?

The same theory applies to training & nutrition. As education continues to develop and the word is spread maybe this perceived weirdness of others will become less common. I often chat to parents who train about their feelings of responsibility of setting the example to their kids, so the idea of ‘mum and dad go to the gym’ from a young age becomes normal (not weird), the same applies to the eating habits set to the kids as responsible adults. Therefore eating fresh, unprocessed food the majority of the time is again ‘normal’.

If you do ever feel weird, alienated from others, a lack of being understood, get funny looks when you take your supplements, or your friends/family don’t always understand why you are ‘always at the gym’, I invite and encourage you to keep moving forward. We do live in a somewhat judgemental world and we are quick to pass our opinions on others, and everyone is guilty of this at some point. I suggest the ‘weirdos’ understand where the others are coming from, and try to help them understand and the non weirdos try to accept that perception is reality to most of us!

I’ve shared a selection of behaviours/habits I have found which seem to be perceived as weird or strange to others.

So if you want to be a weirdo read on:

1 Drink a protein shake in public. Drink a caffeinated, carbonated can of sugar and that’s fine, drink whey protein and you are a weirdo! If you are female – this is twice as weird!

2 Take BCAA pills during your workouts. Whilst following the 12 week body plan by Nick Mitchell (which is an amazing guide btw) I was taking a considerable amount of BCCA in pill format. I remember a woman telling me ‘you shouldn’t be taking those, it’s bad for you’. I simply replied ‘shouldn’t be taking what’? She in turn responded with ‘those pills, they are bad for you’. I again replied ‘shouldn’t be taking what’? My point being that this lady in question had literally no idea what I was taking (the pills where not in the usual branded tub either) so how can it determined ‘bad for you’.

3 Eat Bacon & Eggs for breakfast in preference over traditional cereal choices. I still get people telling me that their choice of cereal or jam and toast is ‘healthy’ and my choice of bacon/eggs isn’t! Again, I must be a weirdo…..

4 Eat meat and nuts – This combination still blows some people minds.

5 Eat meals out of Tupperware boxes – are you mad?!

6 Eat fat – weirdos believe that fat doesn’t make you fat.

7 If you are female, lift heavy weights – doing this alone will probably cause others to question your sanity. Doing this in favour of hours of endless cardio should be enough to be classed as’ weird’.

8 Modify the menu in cafes & restaurants etc – ask for dressings on the side, order without chips/bread – some places are very accommodating but some places you will find that ordering ANYTHING without ether bread or chips is weird!

9 Record your progress; track your calorie intake – whilst this may not be deemed as fully ‘weird’ it may be perceived as’ obsessive’.

10 Go out socially with friends/family and don’t drink alcohol whilst the majority of group does – yep, weird.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, now go forward and be weird!

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

 

6 ways to muscle……..

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In 2014 you can access literally millions of articles, research and studies on a huge variety of muscle building training methods at the click of a mouse and the tap of a keyboard. The supplement industry is growing massively at a constant and continual rate with many products all offering you the latest edge and advances in muscular gains. There are what seem to be endless and often somewhat contradictory training routines and programs out there all promising to deliver results.

 All of these avenues can be beneficial to explore but can also leave you feeling confused and potentially frustrated. Rather than overcomplicating the matter of building muscle I suggest focusing on the following 6 areas with regards to your training. If you are just starting out then this a great foundation for you and if you have been training a while this is good reminder of some fundamentals which often get overlooked. In my experience many gym users are still not doing these 6 things on consistent basis.

1) Tempo

I have mentioned this before, and ranted about it massively but this is one the biggest areas I see where improvements could be made in my experience. 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/machine.

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).

 2) Volume

Basic Hypertrophy ranges are typically based between 8-12 repetitions. Whilst a period of strength work can definitely be of huge benefit within the application of training, for the most part the range of 8 to 12 will be optimal when looking exclusively at hypertrophy. The key here is to ignore the ego and stick to the required rep range. Anything less than 8 and you are beginning to work towards strength training. In terms of sets you are ideally looking at 3 to 4 sets per exercise.

 3) Weight selection

You need to fail with the 8 to 12 rep range. This will require you to work at a load of anywhere between 70 – 80% of your 1RM. Log all of your reps and weights performed every session and look to increase. If you can comfortably perform 12 reps, look to increase the weight. For example: A challenging set of 8 reps is going to be more beneficial than an easy set of 12 reps.

 4) Rest Time

Time your rest! This gets massively overlooked, but when rest times are recorded and adhered to can lead to increased focus and concentration and can also be a true measure of intensity. Take an average of 30 to 90 seconds between sets. Generally speaking, more volume and more weight will equal more rest.

 5) Frequency

Consistency is king with regards to training and results. Work every area of the body with precision and consistency, hit each muscle group with equal enthusiasm and focus, and do not skip leg day! If you structure your routine efficiently, you can hit everybody more than once per week.

 6) Under recovering

I didn’t label this as ’overtraining’ as for the most part I believe people under recover opposed to overtrain. To recover: drink sufficient water, plan and prepare your meals all focusing on nutrient dense foods, take into account any required pre/intra/post workout supplementation, structure your routine to avoid hitting the same muscle groups on consecutive days, ensure quality of sleep (I emphasise quality not quantity), look at potential for steady state cv to allow fresh blood flow, if appropriate introduce foam rolling flexibility & mobility work, and for some individuals allow between 1to 3 rest days per week(all of these points are very case specific).

If you need any help on how to implement these strategies into your routine on consistent basis or require any further advice, please do not hesitate to contact me, on here or on Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/TristanButtlePersonalTrainer

Regards,

Tristan

Don’t make these mistakes in the gym……..

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 I have put together a quick list of 10 observations of common mistakes I have regularly encountered in gyms from my experience. If any of these points ring true with yourself, please remember these are supposed to be light-hearted observation’s and not designed to offend. Hopefully by reading this blog, it may help you improve your training and potentially make you more efficient with your training time.

 1-Going backwards on the synchro/crosstrainer:

 This is only functional if you wish to start walking backwards everywhere!

 2-Holding on whilst on the treadmill:

 Not ideal for posture or the lower back, leads to rounding of the shoulders and actually burns less calories. Only real exception for this would be anyone who suffers from balance issues or injury/illness.

 3-Wearing a jacket/waterproof whilst performing CV exercise:

 Often done in the hope of extra calorie burn. This is a great idea if dehydration, dizziness and/or potentially fainting is your thing!

 4-Performing the exact same workout upon every visit:

 If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got! Would these same people continue driving down a dead end?

 5-Overcomplicating exercises without mastering the basics first:

 One example: I suggest if you cannot perform a full range, quality standard press up (option relative to yourself), you do not need to add a fitball/wobblecushion/any other piece of equipment to this exercise in the hope of it enhancing your ‘core’. This also doesn’t make it any more ‘functional’ if technique is poor.

 6-Performing hours of steady state cardio:

 Surely this monotony is what gives the gym one of its many stigmas? Unless you are literally training for a marathon, you do not need to be training for hour’s one end, especially continual steady pace cardio. Steady state CV definitely has a place in training but as with all methods do not over do it!

 7-Lifting weights that are too heavy:

 Men and ego, need I say anymore on this one?

 8-Lifting weights that are too light:

 You do not accidentally get big! And contrary to what you may believe, you do not ‘bulk up’ easily.

 9-Copying workouts from magazines that are not applicable to training age or experience:

 Unless you are actually a bodybuilder with years of experience, chances are the latest routine in Flex magazine is not for you!

 10-Spending too long in the gym in terms of total workout duration:

 There is no need for this. You can simply break up your routine rather than doing everything every time you train, Eg perform cardio on separate days to resistance 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

Read this before taking any supplements!

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Supplementation:
What you need to know and consider

As protein shakes and the use of a massive array of different supplements are becoming more rapidly widespread, I feel it is part of my duty to you to inform you of the benefits of taking certain supplements in conjunction to a well balanced nutrition plan. I will also address the false misconceptions of taking supplements over the course of the next few months. It can be confusing, and understanding supplementation can be made increasingly difficult by public perception and branding.

For example, if you were to ask the average person what they think of protein shakes, a typical response could be a grimace coupled with “you don’t know what’s in them; it can’t be ‘good’ for you”. In their mind, you may as well be publicly sticking a needle in yourself! The exact same person probably wouldn’t have the same reaction to the consumption of a ‘sports based’ energy drink, which are extremely widespread and available from just about every shop/supermarket, despite these drinks very often containing high levels of sugar, and many other stimulant based ingredients. Lucozade for example is actually marketed endorsed and supported by athletes, yet is purchased and consumed by a often inactive demographic.

Firstly it is essential that you have a balanced diet containing all the necessary nutrients (macros and micros) before introducing any shake or supplement. It is far more beneficial to get your diet on track first for you to notice tangible results and also for you to make vast improvements in your health. There isn’t a supplement invented that will transform you or help you if the rest of your diet is poor.

Remember that by definition a supplement is ‘Something that completes or enhances something else when added to it’. The use of any supplement is also dependent on your individual goals. I suggest before committing to purchasing any supplements you discuss your goals and current lifestyle with a fitness professional (such as myself!) and do your own research.

I do acknowledge that supplements can play a role within an individual’s routine and can definitely help in terms of reaching goals, and I do personally take a variety of supplements myself. However, the main points to consider with your existing diet & lifestyle before purchasing/committing to any supplements are:

-Are you eating clean/whole food choices, and avoiding processed and refined foods?

-Are you eating sufficient amounts of protein/carbohydrates/good fats to support the level of training you are performing at?

-Are you eating at regular intervals?

-Are you always aware of what your next meal will be?

-Do you plan and prepare your meals?

-Do you drink sufficient water for your bodyweight on a daily basis? (https://tristanbuttle.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/are-you-drinking-enough-water/ – have a read to find out how much).

-Do you feel you get sufficient sleep and recovery? (See my blog https://tristanbuttle.wordpress.com/2014/01/18/the-importance-of-sleep-my-first-quick-blog/ for more info),

-How much stress do you have within your current lifestyle and how do you combat it?

I suggest that you consider addressing all the above points before introducing supplements into your routine.Doing this will not only improve you health massively but also place you on the right path to achieving your goals.

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

If you need any help or further advice, please do not hesitate to contact me, on here or on Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/TristanButtlePersonalTrainer

Regards,

Tristan

10 reasons why you are not building muscle and losing body fat:

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Whether you know it or not, your compositional goal is to lose fat and gain muscle.

Lets put is this way, I have never had anyone come to me and state that they want more fat & less muscle! Whether your goal is to fit into a pair on jeans comfortably, wear a tighter belt buckle or your suit trousers, or step on a competitive physique stage, the goal of fat loss/muscle building is the same; it is the severity of the approach that will change to get to the desired outcome.

With this is mind, I present to you 10 simple reasons why you may not be getting the results you desire:

1) You are simply not eating enough calories from quality nutrient dense foods.

In order to build, grow and repair, your body needs the correct nutrients. You require regular feedings to maintain and promote protein synthesis; this is one of the reasons why every one of your meals should contain a protein source. Calories are by nature a unit of energy, you need energy to perform and to recover in and out of the gym. This topic is massive and I will be doing a far more in depth blog soon covering nutrition. For now, the take away tip is every meal you consume must contain a source of protein.

2) You are trying to emulate a ‘magazine’ workout or another top bodybuilder’s routine.

Chances are you are not Mr. Olympia (if you are welcome to my blog and you can safely ignore the following points!) so why are you trying to do what he does? You need to spend your time in the gym building a solid foundation of strength, body awareness and connection, along with a mastery of nutrition, recovery and many other strategies. Any article you read in a magazine about what these guys are doing should be taken with a pinch of salt and remember this is a representation of what they are doing NOW; and not what they STARTED with. I would advise starting with the basics and for the most part beginning with an upper/lower body split will suffice. Until you have built upon your foundation, you do not need or should you justify an ‘arm’ day as part of your routine. As much as I will probably lose the interest of the average guy reading this at this point, it is the truth.

3) Your form is lacking.

Chances are your form will need modifying. Its not always that what you are doing is wrong is just not potentially what is optimal. Take the time master the techniques of your entire program. Seek professional advice, this will also help to reduce the risk potential injury, Youtube is not the answer when looking at form! Points 4a & 4b will elaborate on the two main areas which will effect your form.

4a) You are lifting too quickly.

TUT (time under tension) is essential for hypertrophy. As a general rule, you will benefit from focusing on a tempo for all of your sets. Understanding and applying tempo will transform your workouts and potentially your results. Speed and acceleration of lifting should be saved exclusively for power & strength training. By placing emphasis all of the 3 main phases of strength with particular focus on the eccentric (negative or lowering phase) of lifting you can create far greater tension on the working muscle. A very simple question to ask yourself is where do you actually feel the exercise? If you cannot feel the muscle in question being stimulated, you may need to lower your weight. Basic tip here is to leave your ego at home!

4b) You are lifting too heavy.

Unless you are training exclusively for pure strength and/or power the weight you lift is irrelevant. Your body has no idea how much weight is on the bar, it responds to stress, stimulation and tension. By utilising tempo as mentioned above and by focusing on the working muscle you can create far greater tension. Hypertrophy repetition ranges are performed typically between 6 & 12; anything less than 6 and you are looking more at strength based goals. Again, ego should play no part in your lifting.

5) You are not tracking your progress

Ever heard the expression if you cant measure it, you can’t manage it? This runs completely true in the gym too. Log your progress; you need to know exactly what you did in every workout. Use a notepad, then type into excel later. How do you know what’s changing/progressing/regressing if you are not recording your results?

6) You are not consistent.

Just like one salad doesn’t make you slim, one workout doesn’t make you muscular! In the world of body composition and training, consistency is king!

7) You are not mastering the basics and/or not including sufficient compound movements.

Focus on: a bench press (IMO not flat, & doesn’t have to exclusively be a bar either, machines for beginners) a pull down movement (leading to potentially a pull up), a squatting movement (not exclusively a barbell squat, leg press can work) an overhead press variation, potentially a dead lift, dips and a plank. All of these large compound moves will give you far more overall muscle stimulation/calorie burn. Think large when looking at exercise selection!

8) You are not training each muscle frequently enough.

If you organise a split routine correctly, you can train each muscle group twice per week.

9) You are not getting sufficient rest/recovery.

Not only do you require sufficient sleep (see my blog https://tristanbuttle.wordpress.com/2014/01/18/the-importance-of-sleep-my-first-quick-blog/ for more info), but you need to allow time for each muscle group to recover. You do not grow in the gym; you grow when you are recovering. Whatever you trained today, rest it tomorrow. Likewise, whatever you trained yesterday, rest it today.

10) You are relying & focusing too much on supplementation over quality food choices.

Supplementation of ANY kind shouldn’t be at the top of anyone’s list of training priorities. If I had to place an order of importance it would look like this:

-Nutrition.

-Hydration.

-Training.

-Recovery.

-Sleep.

-Supplementation.

I am not any way anti-supplements and I do take a variety myself; however it’s not done at the expense of poor training and nutrition. Nail the basics of all the other areas first then if you are going to supplement, start with the basics initially and experiment with what is right for you as an individual. Don’t take too many different supplements during the same period; this will make progress difficult to measure.

There isn’t a supplement invited that will transform you or help you if the rest of your diet is poor. Remember that by definition a supplement is ‘Something that completes or enhances something else when added to it’.

The real challenge is that although these 10 tips are practical and should help you, like anything they mean nothing without practical application. This is my job to help ensure these tips are followed on a consistent basis. I would advise that you focus on at least 4 of the above tips to begin with and then add in more as you nail the required areas.

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

If you need any help or further advice, please do not hesitate to contact me, on here or on Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/TristanButtlePersonalTrainer

Regards,

Tristan