As you may know by now I like to verge on the side of skepticism when choosing new workout equipment and apparel- there’s a lot of rubbish out there and I only like to use the best of what there is.
My old trainers and Oly shoes have had there day, so I’ve decided to throw caution to the wind and purchase The Reebok Realflex training shoe.They have been billed as crossfit trainers and as some of you may know i’m not crossfit’s biggest fan, but because I don’t agree with their training methodology doesn’t mean that the show in principle will be wrong and this time I was pleasantly surprised.
As you can see in the video below the shoe looks good and feels pretty durable. The uppers feel solid and around the toe area where I find shoes split through Olympic lifts there is plenty of material.
However my major concern initially was the lack of stability within the shoe. After putting the shoe on the first thing that was apparent was the spongy nature of the nodules under the shoe. They felt springier than a conventional Nike air Max! Kind of like a sea under your feet! So how did this stack up when using the shoe for Olympic and kettlebell lifts? Actually surprisingly well. Although not firm like a conventional Oly shoe a more natural line can be felt when lifting in them- I think after some weeks these may stack up to be my favorite lifting shoes! For kettlebell lifts they felt excellent- pretty much akin to going barefoot which I like to do when training. During powerlifts like the squat and deadlift they didn’t feel as good as my flat converse TBH as felt I couldn’t drive heels through into the ground enough however this may improve with subsequent weeks. I’ve taken them out for a short 5k jog and i’ve got to say they performed really well. After years of being told I had fallen arches and needed specialist Brooks with inserts to correct this my feet ended up pretty weak- I’m big into foot strength now and these are fairly minimilist so I think will serve me well working on my supporting arch strength.
I recently reviewed the Sean Sherk training mask. Sean Sherk for those who don’t know is a leading MMA fighter in the UFC and is known for his superior conditioning. He attributes much of this conditioning to his new product ‘the elevation training mask’. Training at altitude is known to produce fantastic benefits improving oxygen transport within the blood stream so when the athlete returns to ground level the haemoglobin can carry more oxygen and so the athletes cardiovascular capacity and conditioning is greatly improved. So Sean Sherk invented the Altitude Training Mask as a cost effective way of trying to get the same effect from day to day training- every day. The mask basically is worn during training and restricts the amount of air breathed in, forcing the user to use powerful inhalations and exhalations to draw air through the mask. I was dubious as to some of the claims they make about the mask- as training at altitude reduces the density of oxygen within the air inhaled whilst the mask just reduces the volume of air not the oxygen balance. Wether or not this adds up to the same effect within the blood i’m unsure, anyway take a look at the video- its fairly amusing!
Hey just thought i’d knock some free content out for you all as its always nice to be nice! Anyway its a six week fat loss workout program using nothing but your own bodyweight. It will really hit your body from all angles and will take the unfit to super fit -ZERO – HERO!
Anyway i’ll be posting up subsequent weeks as we go along so feel free to comment on YouTube and let me know how you’re getting on with it! Below is the first workout to complete in week 1. Remember to always seek your doctors approval before starting any exercise program!
As you know I really advocate sandbag training as an addition to any well rounded program- its a great compliment on an alternate day to an olympic lifting routine, bodybuilding regime or as part of a good rounded cardiovascular circuit and one of the best moves is the manmaker! If your a lady don’t let them name put you off it won’t have you sprouting chest hair- but its a move that does sort the men from the boys so to speak. Technique with this lift is crucial- especially as you get tired what you don’t want is to find the clean portion of the lift getting sloppy- so remember to keep a wide leg position and really drive your hips up and through when cleaning the bag up.Anyway without further delay here it is
You may have heard some of murmurings in the press at the moment do with the 3-minute exercise protocol? If you haven’t it all revolves around the program BBC Horizon: The Truth About Exercise. It was presented by Dr. Michael Mosley and all in all was a pretty good rounded view.
The research basically proved that taking yourself to the absolute maximum exertion for a total of 1 minute in 20 second bursts three times per week had nearly all the health benefits (not the ascetic I hasten to add) and more so than completing 4 hours steady state cardiovascular training per week- the benefits were- glucose release from the muscle stores, and increasing insulin sensitivity by an average of 24%. Vo2 Max (the bench mark of cardiovascular performance) was also increased in around 15% of participants.
The other basic tenant was that genetically people are very different- there are some that respond extremely well to any training stimulus. They grouped people into responders and non-responders. Responders being those who’s Vo2 max was markedly increased by the high intensity interval training HIIT. This was the above 15% percentile. And non-responders who saw little or no increase.
So what does this all mean for your average Jo? Does this mean they can all pack up their training kit, chuck in their sweat towel and head home to the couch- thankfully not. Lets look at it in a bit more detail.
First up the idea that HIIT training is far better for you than long steady state training is not new. Well at least not amongst more informed trainers and trainees! I’ve never advocated long steady state running or any type of long steady state CV. Not only does it wear your joints away- just check out my dad- he was a competitive triathlete and marathon runner- now nearly every joint in his body is being replaced through wear, long steady state training also raises cortisol- the stress hormone within the body.
When left to rage unabated cortisol not only is bad for health but also causes fat storage especially around the abdomen- how many fat runners have you seen- I’ve seen lots. Cortisol also is responsible for muscle and strength deterioration. I’ve always advised my clients to work on HIIT principles for improving VO2 Max- either in sprints, heavy kettlebell work and full body plyometrics and other savagely taxing means.
What the study also doesn’t do is look at the right amount of HIIT. All the study does do is prove that HIIT is far better than long steady state training.
I can guarantee that yes the responder group increased their VO2 max by performing the HIIT on the given protocol (the 3 minutes) and there was a marked improvement against the other responder group in the long steady state training group, but what the study doesn’t look at significantly is what if you actually increase the amount of HIIT the individual is performing and not just perform the minimum. I can assure you that if the responder group performed 6-8 rounds of the HIIT protocol so 8 minutes of all out hit 3 times per week their increase in VO2 max would have been massive. Also I can assure them that if they had made the non responder group treble their level of HIIT in the week they would have seen a good improvement in this test group too- yes not as much as the responder group but still a marked improvement.
I’ve trained so called non responders- in fact 50% of my clients could fall into this group- I’ve taken people who are in no way genetically gifted and pushed their Vo2 max to levels that would put most people to shame. But it does take more HIIT training than 3 minutes per week. Sometimes it takes a lot more. But improvements are always made with hard work. Of course there will be those who excel on even the tiniest stimulus- we can all envy them but for the rest of us it takes more work. This is where I feel this study is slightly dangerous and misleading. It gives people the chance to lump themselves in with the non -responders and so feel more HIIT exercise isn’t beneficial. Luckily this isn’t the case you just have to do the right exercise- in this case more HIIT and not long steady training training. Not only that but more HIIT would increase muscular strength, endurance, power and bring about muscular growth if the right exercises were chosen so why wouldn’t you do more when you would achieve all these benefits along with the VO2 max increases- why would you just settle for increased insulin sensitivity and glucose response??
I also had one last comment about the program. The trouble is with true HIIT is that it is painful. Very painful. More painful than most people can bear- and there’s the rub. Most people- your average man or woman will in no way be able to take themselves to the level that is needed in that 20 seconds to be a true HIIT interval. Some will but most won’t. This is where my job as a trainer comes in to take people beyond that threshold, to enter in where your brain wants to shut off and shut the body down. When your brain is saying no, I say yes, and keep you working- few people have the ability alone to take themselves to the limit that is needed to be a true HIIT interval to do so you have to like pain and be really used to it- yes your brain does adapt to deal with the pain of training- but that takes a lot of time and most people never reach it unless they have been pushed their regularly by someone else or born in a with strange masochistic nature- myself included!
As some of you may know I have an upcoming photo shoot at the end of March and have been dieting down from a bulky 16 stone to a leaner 14 stone at present, with a good 7 pounds left to lose to get to ‘photo shoot’ fit.
I’ve approached dieting a little differently this time around as I’ve had not only a longer time to lean up, but I also wanted to try a different approach that wouldn’t leave my lifting performance dwindling.
I’ve carb cycled before to good effect – it’s a great way to lean up but also retain muscle and performance whilst dieting. I’ve had so many questions about exactly how I am cycling the diet I’ve decided to lay it all down in black and white so you can see exactly how I’m doing it.
Remember though carb cycling should be a very individual approach. What may work for one may not work for another. Every individuals BMR (basal metabolic rate)- the amount of calories that must be consumed on a daily basis to remain the same weight will differ massively and so it follows, so too will the carb allowances for each day, and in fact how many high carb days that are actually added within the program.
I’ve included all the different supplements I’m using too- these help keep my health on track and I know from experience add that extra 5% loss in fat that can make all the difference.
Low Carb Day
Breakfast- Pro-peptide Shake/Mug of Green Tea/Cod Liver Oil/Vit D3/
Dinner- 350 grams salmon or chicken, 60 grams of brown rice, fresh steamed green veg
Before Bed- Pro-Peptide
Monday- Low Carb
Wednesday- Low Carb
All my lifts have maintained their levels and my energy levels are great. I choose Tuesday and Thursday as high carb days as due to my commitments I am up until late on these days and up very early. I’m still having a pro-recover after training but in the last two weeks before the shoot I’ll switch this to Pro-Peptide to reduce the Carbs even further.
After the shoot to maintain leaness until the following video shoot I’ll be using the same diet as above but with the inclusion of a semi cheat day on the Sunday where I’ll eat pretty much what I want.
Carb cycling can really enhance fat loss and with a bit of thought can easily be implemented into a lifestyle change that can be maintained in the long term to keep you looking lean and full of energy.
As you may know one of my favourite outdoor training tools apart from the kettlebell is the sandbag. If you haven’t heard or seen the benefits of sandbag training you’re missing out! Sandbag training is a great way not only to lean up but develop some really good functional strength gains. Much like the Bulgarian bag the sandbag can be used for a massive variety of moves and of course the weight can be altered with different filler bags so you really can design a comprehensive routine with this one bit of kit. I’ve had so many people come to me for sandbag advice i’ve made an instant download that will play on your pc, mac or idevice to cover the fundemental lifts and training techniques with the sandbag- and then I lead you on a great strength building cardio busting circuit to put all the techniques to good use- check it out now by clicking here
The Side press and kettlebell side press is one of the best core stability moves around. It is one of those lifts that unfortunately has been lost in the vaults of time- however its time to bring it back to the forefront of training and reap the many benefits that the kettlebell side press can bring about.
The Side press is very similar to the kettlebell windmill in regards to both the set up and half of the execution. Unlike the windmill the arm does not remain straight throughout the lift. During the fall phase of the side press as you reach down with the opposing hand to the floor and rotate slightly forwards the bell is pressed from the side so that the fall and the press become one fluid motion. The kettlebell should almost remain stationary mid air and the body simply falls away from it with the participant flaring the lat to provide stability of the shoulder.
This is different to the kettlebell bent press in which the bell is press out and returned to the side in the bottom position. The kettlebell side press works the obliques more so than any other core exercise in existence and really brings out the sweep of the obliques. It is essential though you use the 3 stage learning breakdown of the side press to enable you to practice the lift safely and avoid any spinal problems.
If you would like to learn the side press and kettlebell windmills, kettlebell figure of 8, kettlebell crunch, Turkish get up and many more plus a great follow along core workout click here
Kettlebell abs is now available both as DVD hardcopy and also instant digital download! Samuel leads you through some of the best core shaping, ab crafting kettlebell moves then leads you on a complete follow along workout that you can complete 2-3 times per week. This is Samuel’s personal kettlebell abs routine so don’t miss out on this chance to train with one of the best. Kettlebell work can really craft out great abs and leave your core strong and resistant to injury let Samuel show you the best exercises and the best groupings. To pick up your copy of kettlebell abs either in instant download or DVD hardcopy click here- Kettlebell Abs
Ok the first monthly challenge is underway! Move a Ton of weight using the Snatch! Use what ever size kettlebell you like to get the job done thats 25 snatches with a 40kg, 32reps with32kg, 42 reps with a 24kg, 63 reps with a 16kg, 84 reps with a 12kg and 100 reps with a 10kg. Don’t forget to reshare the video to anyone who you think would fancy a go and post up your completion time in the comments! I opted for the 32kg and completed the reps in 1.10 mins not a personal best but still felt tough! Stay Strong and good luck!