Day 89 of 90: What I Learned (training)

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As I come closer to finishing my 90 days I thought I’d write a quick blog on some of the most important things I’ve learned about training (I’ll do nutrition tommorow and then do results on day 91)

1. Lifting weights helps you lose weight: Muscle is active tissue which helps speed up your metabolic rate which helps you lose weight and keep it off (it’s unfortunate that most women’s magazine ignore weight training – you’ll only get big if your hitting big weights and consuming a few thousand calories – seriously).

2. Lose fat and not muscle: I wish I would have chucked out the standard scales as all weight loss is not all equal, sometimes your losing muscle and water but you need to be losing fat. So get a scale that tells you or do a health assessment at a gym.

3. It’s better to lift BIG than to lift more: Multiple reps with small weights burn fewer calories and produce fewer muscle gains. So for strength hit 1-5 (reps) heavy, for muscle 8-12 (medium) and for endurance 15-failure (below medium but not light) but make sure you get some burn. DO NOT do a set of a 100 reps on 2kg (your better off hitting 3 sets of 10 with 60kg).

4. Rest is important as training: Now I know I’ve been training every day but Sun is light and I will probably just train 5 to 6 days when I’m finished this challenge. Rest, particularly sleep, helps repair your body, I’ve neglected it sometimes.

5. Slow-state cardio is crap: I love cardio so I still do it on Sundays but if you want the fat loss do it on an empty stomach, do it after other training and/or get some high intensity in. So today I hit chin-ups and tri-dips, 29 mins cardio and then 1min sprinting.

6. You don’t need to do abs to get abs: Now I still do them but the bigger muscle groups are much more important though (back, legs, chest)… Having said that my obliques are just showing and I’ll have to shred more fat to get the abs out but there coming, first time in years.

7. Keep it old school: The classics like the bench press, squat, deadlift and the military press are the bread and butter of training. So although a magazine might say that you can get ripped in 2 days by standing on one leg whilst swinging a cat around you head there probably making it up….Probably.

8. Everyone has to start somewhere: I didn’t have a clue about weights but the truth is the internet is filled with great info and if you speak to enough people you will find that they are helpful and willing to talk. If people keep saying the same things then this might be a clue that it’s a truism, watch out for bro-science though.

9. Everyone makes gains if they work hard: When I started training I could do 2 or 3 chin-ups now I can hit 5 sets of 10 (50) unassisted and 12 sets of 10 (120) assisted (on a machine)… That’s after a training session. Miraculous? Maybe, or just persistence and hard work.

10. It’s worth it: Not only have I enjoyed it but I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, I weigh what I weighed at 18, am sleeping better and eating more.

TODAY’S FOOD LOG

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(Fresh sardines and king prawns with dried chilli, lemon and coriander)

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(I had a good few portions of it with smoked salmon and a avocado salad)

Cutting phase (day 5)

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Day 86 of 90: Slowing Down a Little – Advice whilst Cutting

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I’m one of those, addictive personalities, an all or nothing kind of guy. Having said that my first two days of cutting have been dogged by splitting headaches and therefore, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to ease up a little on the training. I did a bit of research on it and it seems that muscle cannot only be maintained but it can be built during cutting, however, it is essential that I lift heavy, keep the reps down and have a good rest periods between sets. The headaches are probably a result of the lack of glycogen, something that is depleted by training and normally replaced through food – something I’m restricting. If I don’t ease up a little it appears that I will lose muscle. This isn’t at all bad because they are easily rebuilt when the normal food returns because of something called muscle memory but it is something I want to minimise or try to avoid and therefore, I’m going to alter my training a little and see if my body will just adapt to it.

FOOD LOG – CUTTING PHASE (DAY 2) (lose a stone in a week diet link)

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Day 83 of 90: German Volume Training

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When beginning to lift many people can be confused by the amount of reps and sets to be done and whilst it depends on your goals I normally hit 3 sets but I often use Saturday as a bit of an experiment. A day when I can mix it up.

This Saturday I went a lot lighter than I normally would and went for 10 reps and 10 sets of each exercise, something known as German Volume Training. GVT is a way of shocking the muscles and has been known as one of the quickest ways to put on muscle mass and shed body fat do simultaneously. Added to this, is the fact, that GVT saves time moving around the gym or adjusting benches. So why not so some of your own research on it and give it a try?

TODAY’S FOOD LOG – Bulking Phase
Snack: bowl of muesli and a banana
Pre-Workout: pepperoni and chorizo omelette
Post-Workout: all-in-one shake
Breakfast: almond and honey porridge
Snack 1: big bowl of plain popcorn
Snack 2: a plum
Lunch: tin of tuna, 2 boiled eggs, rice, pepperoni and salad with homemade bread followed with a fruit salad.

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Dinner: Korean seafood curry with rice

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Desert: 2 slices of homemade bread with peanut butter and honey
Evening Shake: whey
Snack 1: a bowl of muesli
Snack 2: pepperoni and cheese sandwich with homemade bread
Snack 3: tangerine
Treat: 2 little chocolates (I thought I was bulking so why not a big cut after tommorow)

Day 81 of 90: Bulking Up Before Going Lean

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Since I have been training every day for over 80 days I have decided to go for a phase of bulking before doing a drastic cut for my last 7 days (begins on day 84). This means that today and over the next few days I am going into caloric overload – also on known as bulking.

The reason for this is because the body adapts itself quite quickly to food consumption patterns and training demands resulting in the dreaded plateau. The caloric surplus will also enable me to build muscle and will give me a few extra pounds of weight to see me through the cut, in theory this should enable me to shed body fat and not muscle and stop me looking like Karen Carpenter by the time I’m finished. So here’s what I’m planning to do:

1. Up my Food Intake Considerably: I’ve already begun by having 2 breakfasts (pre and post workout) but while I would normally limit my carbs to a Friday (my carb-loading day) I’ll be having them throughout the bulk (nonetheless, I still endeavour to eat clean’ish but it will not be a major concern).

2. Cut Down on the Cardio: Although, I will still use Sunday (tommorow) as a cardio day I will aim to do no cardio on any of the other days.

3. Increase my Protein Shakes: I’ve gone from 2 to 3 a day, during the cut, I will not be having any shake at all.

4. Sleep More: Sleep is one of the most important things needed to build muscle and therefore, is a must for bulking (I normally get about 6/7 hours). Ever wonder why lions are ripped; loads of protein and loads of sleep (most of the time the lioness even does all the hunting, just saying).

FOOD LOG
Snack: banana
Breakfast: a bowl of muesli and some yogurt, honey, cinnamon and mixed nuts
Morning Shake: whey
Snack 1: spinach and sun-dried tomato omelette
Snack 2: tablespoon of peanut butter and an apple
Snack 3: half a chorizo sausage
Lunch: noodles with spicy Korean chicken and Korean wings (top right of picture)
Snack: dried red dates

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Shake: whey
Post-Workout: all-in-one
Dinner: homemade pepperoni pizza with salad
Smoothie: pineapple and red berry

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Snack 1: a banana
Snack 2: peanut butter

78/79 of 90: Pigs Might Fly – Pork Steaks as a Protein Source

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Per 100g – 190 kcals – 7.8g fat (2.9g saturates) – 30g protein
Per steak – 168 kcals – 6.9g fat (2.5g saturates) – 26.4g protein

High protein diets are needed for muscle building (and can help with weight loss) but the problem is they can become repetitive and therefore, it is advised to have some variation: chicken breast, lean beef, fish and turkey all work well. But today, I fancied a change and decided to have a look at the pork steaks, not only was the nutritional value good but, at £2 per 500g (that’s 0.5 kg if your struggling to do the math 🙂 it is a bargain. A bargain that tastes great and helps keep the protein levels high.

(top 5 non-meat protein sources)

(top 5 meat protein sources)

YESTERDAY’S FOOD LOG
Pre-Workout: yogurt, cinnamon, mixed nuts and honey
Post-Workout: all-in-one shake
Breakfast: oat and sultana bagel (no margarine)
Snack: apple and carrot
Lunch: jacket potato, chilli and salad with 2 pieces of chocolate crunch cake and ice cream (I was away and lunch was provided)
Snack: apple
Dinner: Italian meat balls in a tomato, garlic and low-fat mozzarella sauce with salad (recipe)

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Evening Shake: whey

TODAY’S FOOD LOG
Pre-Workout: low fat mozzarella and sun-dried tomato omelette
Post-Workout: all-in-one
Breakfast: porridge with banana and mixed nuts
Lunch: Italian meat balls in a tomato, garlic and low-fat mozzarella sauce with salad
Snack: a tablespoon of peanut butter and tangerine
Dinner: lean chilli and mixed veg
Evening shake: whey
Snack: 3 pork steaks with onion, tomato, garlic and chilli (I intended to keep one for lunch but hey)

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Day 71 of 90: Free Weights or Machines?

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As a teenager my twin brother and I were given a multi-gym and although I’d love one now (complete with a man cave to store it in that is) back then we used it to hang our jackets on it (teenagers, huh?). Anyway, as I was in the gym today (it’s a new gym, today was my second day), in light of a conversation I had and the fact that this gym has a huge number of machines I thought I would blog about the difference between free weights and machines.

Now, although the purists in either camp would go for an either/or approach I’m more inclined to go for a both/and approach (this does not mean that I don’t have a preference – the bulk of my time is spent on free weights) and here’s why:

1. Machines a great for beginners, there is less risk of injury and beginners can sometimes feel intimidated my the sweaty metal-heads that occupy the weights area (in all honesty like all past-times there is a real fraternity when you get to know others…and people are often keen to give you tips if you ask them).

2. Machines are generally easy to use, isolate certain muscle groups (which are normally shown on the machines) and the adjustable weights means they are useful for time saving.

However:

3. Free weights, may require more balance and coordination (and are more likely to result in injury if used incorrectly), but they are proven not only to provide bigger and quicker strength gains but they are also more versatile (particularly kettle bells) and can be taken with you (a set of multi-weight dumbbells can be stuck in the boot of the car, the shed or the office- try that with a multi gym).

4. Finally free weights have always made up the foundation of body building and strength training because, unlike machines, they are able to not only strengthen major muscles but the smaller stabilising muscle too. This makes them far superior.

Therefore, I would still advocate the use of machines (the chin up assist and tri-pull-down are probably my favourite ones right now) but I would also encourage everyone who is interested in strength training to familiarise themselves with free weights as they are the bread and butter of muscle building.

TODAY’S FOOD
Early Morning Snack: a banana (I couldn’t sleep, I was up at 4am)
Pre-Workout: a tablespoon of peanut butter and a tablespoon of honey (the honey was for energy – it wards of tiredness)
Post-Workout: all-in-one shake
Breakfast: porridge, banana and mixed nuts
Snack: a tangerine
Lunch: chicken breast, mushroom, broccoli, cottage cheese, tomato and celery
Snack: a tablespoon of peanut butter
Dinner: lean beef and vegetable chilli and mixed veg
Snack: a mango
Evening shake: whey
Snack: 2 carrots

Day 57 of 90: A Fruitful Friday – Why you Need to Eat More Fruit

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Now I admit that fruit can be expensive (saying that this lot came to £5 at the local market) but what I cannot accept is this myth, that I sometimes here, that fruit is not good for you. Admittedly, it’s true that you might choke on a tangerine if you eat it in one go but the sugar in fruit and even the carbs is of huge benefit to you not to mention the vitamins and minerals (when I have a carb-free day it is starchy carbs I cut not green carbs like fruit and veg). So here’s some of the things I’d recommend with a couple of the benefits (there’s loads more benefits that I haven’t put):

1. Dried apricot: Thankfully the drying process does not strip apricot’s of their nutrients or any of their flavour. They are great for eye problems, skin diseases, weight loss and even act as a mild laxative. These are a great replacement for sweets btw.

2. Strawberries: Firstly, strawberries are easy to grow and, therefore, there’s no excuse not to stick some in the garden which is good because they can be expensive. Strawberries, again, help stop weight loss, help with memory loss, have anti-aging qualities and are good for bone growth.

3. Mangos: Whilst these are a little exotic they are easy to get a hold of. They prevent cancer, lower cholesterol and are great for the skin. Have I mentioned that there my favourite fruit.

4. Peaches: I will start by saying, let the peaches go ripe, this will give them that sweet taste. These are known to calm upset stomachs, help with your complexion and fight diabetes.

5. Bananas: Finally, bananas help fight depression, contain a natural high, make you more alert and are packed with fibre. Ever heard of the 30-bananas-a-day cleanse? Crazy, right? Well, this girl is internet-famous for it and it worked for her (she’s a vegan too and probably exercises – sorry no short cuts).

(link for the banana girl)

My point is…whether it’s gaining your goals, fighting or preventing illness, get the fruit in and pay no attention to the anti-fruit brigade they’ve all gone bananas.

Today’s Food Log (no food from 7pm till after training – carb-loading day)
Post-Workout: all-in-one shake
Breakfast: porridge, dried apricot and mixed nuts (plus goji berries and mixed seeds)
Snack 1: half a tub of strawberries
Snack 2: a peach and a tablespoon of peanut butter
Lunch 1: half a chicken breast, cottage cheese, brown rice and salad with chilli sauce.
Lunch 2: as above
Snack 1: plain popcorn
Snack 2: apple and some beef cubes
Dinner: seafood bolognese with brown pasta and a tiny bit of Italian cheese.
Snack 1: organic Greek yogurt, strawberries and mixed nuts
Snack 2: plain popcorn
Protein Shake: whey
Snack: pear

Note: I’ve upped my food content because, although my next assessment is on day 60, I’m losing weight to quickly. My aim is to lose body fat and build muscle so the extra food should help slow down weight loss.