Category Archives: Blog

Tips for Training Through the Winter

As we all know, training in the winter months is hard. Typically its cold, wet and just miserable out most of the time. The gym just does not look as appealing as sitting in front of a warm fire does! We’ve all been there!But here are my top tips for battling through the horrible weather and getting you back on track with your goals! 

SMART Goals

I’m sure you have all heard of the acronym SMART before now. But if you haven’t it stands for the following:

Specific

Specific goals are vital to success with your journey. There’s absolutely no point in just going to your coach and saying “I want to lose weight”. or “I want to squat more weight”. Why not be more specific than that? let the person know how much you want to lose or how much you want to squat. The more specific you can make the goal, the better the chance you have of staying focused on that goal. 

Measurable

Is this goal measurable? Can it be completed within a time frame? Again, give yourself a timeframe or some sort of measure to achieve this goal by. 

Agreed upon / Achievable

Does this goal sound achievable for you? If needed, have you and your coach agreed the goal at hand and both believe its achievable?  There is no point in saying you plan to break the squat world record in 6 weeks time if you can’t even squat with no weight perfectly! 

Relevant

It’s important to set goals for yourself and not for others.  Remember why you started this journey and not why others have their own journey. If your friend has a goal of losing 10kg does not mean you need the same goal. Focus on yourself and yourself only. 

“Real change will come when you focus on yourself.”

Ritu GhatoureyTime

Put a end date on your goal. Give yourself a realistic timeframe for this.

SMART Goals have been around for a pretty long time now. There is nothing new or fancy about them But they do work. 

Sit down and have a think for yourself about a goal you have. Put it through the SMART process and reflect on it. If you are doubting yourself, don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend or even your trainer about this goal. They will be more than happy to help you stay on track! 

Another way that can help you staying active is by achieving your daily step goals! If you are a relatively inactive person, start small. Aim for a daily step goal of 5,000 per day and build from there. Don’t beat yourself up if you do not achieve this target everyday as some days you might go over it, some days you might not. Look at your weekly average of steps.

These are just a few of the tips I use during the cold and miserable winter months to help me stay on track!

The Hang

Are you struggling with your grip strength in the deadlift or other grip exercises? Performing a hang can improve your grip strength and cause a great stretch in your latissimus dorsi while also improving your shoulder mobility. This exercise is such an easy one to add into your routine, it takes little time to set up and its a good way to recover in-between sets. All you need is a a chin up bar or a set of rings to complete the hang.

There are a variety of hangs to complete but I would start off with the Passive Hang.

Once you can complete this for over a minute without your grip going, then try a more advanced hang.

The other hanging exercises I would attempt are an Active Hang and Active Hang Reps. These two exercises work on scapula movement which is an added bonus!

 

 

Social Influencers: The Leading Cause of False Information

It seems that if you’re on instagram these days you’re just a click away from someone selling their souls or willing to promote anything to do with a supplement company or a clothing company for a ‘discount code’.

Unfortunately this leads to a huge amount of wrong information being put out there for people to read and try.  It’s quiet upsetting to see being honest. People out there trying ridiculous diets and workouts that are more than likely causing more damage than anything because they saw this guy say its what got him his washboard abs in 48 hours, or that girl that built her butt to perfection in 3 weeks by doing this glute focused workout.

Here’s a little secret for ye building a physique or getting strong takes time. Time is the best thing to give yourself if you want to achieve these goals. Unfortunately we live in a world where we expect everything to happen straight away, almost at a click of the fingers. If only we all had that big blue genie like Aladdin eh?!

Just today I saw a girl go on about protein benefits on a post and she said before getting her protein right and to produce hormones she did not have a period for two years. TWO YEARS! Now a quick google search will tell you that eating protein (which is consuming Amino-Acids) is used up to produce specific hormones in the body, such as insulin, Female sex hormones are not on this list. (Oestrogen and Progesterone).

To a complete newbie into the realm of health and fitness they might believe that her problem of not having a period is actually nothing and can be solved by increasing her protein intake. The truth is, amenorrhea (missing one or more periods) can be a serious thing that needs medical attention. Not an overnight personal trainer stating she solved all her problems by taking her wonderful pornstar martini flavoured protein shake. (Yes, thats a thing now). Whatever about taking shakes to increase your protein intake, but imagine all the other crap thats inside that shake! Absolute madness.

Continuing on with her spiel, she used all of this scaremongering to advertise for a “nutrition” company. I myself have never heard of this company but they seem to be a female focused supplement company selling absolute muck to people.

I don’t get how these people can get away with calling themselves personal trainers but yet put out the wrong information out there constantly. Then because they have this big following on all the platforms people think that these people are the bees knees, these are the people to follow. Putting out wrong information the whole time, misleading hundreds if not thousands of people out there just so that they can feed their own ego with this massive following of theirs.

I cannot stress how important it is for you to consult the right people when in doubt with your own training or nutrition. Someone who cares for your steady progress, not a quick fix fad diet or whatever. Look for a coach that has credibility within the industry. This does not always mean the person with the biggest following or the flashiest of abs. Some of the best coaches out there have a very small following. This is due to the fact that they are devoting all of their time and effort into their athletes, the ones who actually matter.

 

Tips to Stay on Track With Your Fitness Journey

Setting new goals in your health and fitness journey is a exciting process. It keeps you motivated and it makes sure you have something to work towards. A reward so to speak. New Years Resolutions are usually a time where you will see a lot of people set goals to improve ones self image or to run a marathon etc. Setting these expectations are good for yourself but you need to set smaller goals to help you stay on track in the short term.

Set a Long-Term goal and smaller goals

Goal setting is key to staying on track and achieving your goals. Ideally you should set maybe 3 long term goals. (Over the space of 6-12 months). This might be to lose a certain amount of weight, run a marathon, cycle Malin to Mizen. These are just a few off the top of my head! But they should be the end goal.

These goals should be something that excites you. This way you will be motivated a lot more to achieve this goal. Make sure that these goals are realistic. I would also give myself a time frame to achieve this goal by.

Don’t Restrict Yourself

Restricting yourself too hard when it comes to nutrition and eating is a recipe for disaster. Unless you have a goal of competing in a bodybuilding competition then there is absolutely no need to restrict yourself to boiled chicken, rice and kale. Fad diets work in the short run but they are not sustainable. Nutrition is an easy thing made to look difficult by companies so that you will buy their “Weight Loss” products… It’s pretty simple. Eat like an adult. 

Find a Workout Partner/Group

If you have trouble working out alone then having a workout buddy is a good way to help keep you motivated. Share your goals with one another, workout together all of these things will help you stay on track with your goals.

If your goal is more running / outdoor activity based, there are plenty of running/ cycling/ walking groups out there that are always welcoming new members who want to take up running to keep fit and healthy.

Work with a Coach

Working with a coach is another good way to kickstart your journey. This is vital if you are new to going to the gym and lifting weights. A good coach will work with you with your goals in mind. They will show you how to complete the exercises correctly with good form and make sure that you will progress in a linear fashion.

Enjoy the Process

The most important thing is that you completely enjoy the process. There is absolutely no point in doing something if it feels more like a chore than anything else! As I’ve said already, pick goals that excite and motivate you. Get up, get moving and enjoy life!

How I Improved my Core Strength

Over the last couple of months I’ve seen massive improvements in my core strength. It has something that I lacked strength and control in for years due to my lack of using it.

Since I began training in ACLAÍ I’ve been introduced into the wonderful world of Gymnastic Strength Training (GST). There is a massive focus on core strength in this program and I’ve taken bits that are within my ranges and applied them into my own training.

Since then, my core strength has come on leaps and bounds. I still have a long way to go but for now this is what I am currently doing.

  • Straight Arm Front Plank

  • Hollow Body Hold

  • Back Bodyline Drill

  • Bird Dog
  • Pallof Hold

  • L-Sits

I will program these exercises in with my main lifts at least twice a week. With a hold of 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Building up my core strength has massive vast differences in every other area of my training and sports performance.

The Kettlebell Swing

If there was one movement out there that burns fat, opens up and loosens the hips and that will give you that perky bum you’ve always dreamed of, it is the Kettlebell Swing (KBS).

If done correctly the swing is key to fat loss and building your glutes and hamstrings. It definitely provides the best bang for your buck. Done correctly is the key point here, usually the KBS is taught so horrifically that they should hand out business cards for a back specialist after every class.

It is a simple move in theory but can be difficult to learn.

Kettlebell Swings are the top of the pyramid when it comes to hinge movements, they are the most under appreciated movement in the gym, sport and even life!

So how do we complete The Swing?

Here’s a little video demonstrations the Swing in action.

So the key coaching points here:

  • Make sure your back is nice and flat at the top of the movement, arching back is wrong and dangerous for your back
  • Hinge at the hips so that the Kettlebell lowers, then thrust forward gaining all the power from your glutes and your hamstrings. The Swing is an explosive movement not a passive one!
  • Let the Kettlebell drag you down, at the bottom of the movement should have the Kettlebell between your legs, below the bottom. The arms should be locked and the hips behind your centre line of the body, the knees slightly bent with a neutral spine.
  • This position is impossible to achieve if you fall down with the Kettlebell instead of letting it drag you down.
  • The height of the Kettlebell completely depends on the explosiveness of your hips. Ideally it should reach parallel to the ground but not higher. Again, this all depends on how explosive the hips are.

A key thing to remember here is that the Kettlebell Swing is in fact a hinge movement and not a squat.

If you as a coach hear the saying “Oh Kettlebell Swings hurt my back” must realise  that there is a form issue here, Kettlebell Swings do not hurt your back.  More often than not the issue is that the knees are bent too much.

Hinging at the hips means maximal hip movement, minimal knee movement.

Squatting means maximal hip movement and maximal knee movement.

The hip hinge and the KBS are a good as it gets for human performance. If there is one thing that you learn to do correctly, let it be the hinge pattern.

A good target to reach for is 75-200 swings a workout. I know this seems a lot but if you break it down you realise its not that much. The KBS can be used as a warm up, condition work and a strength work.

You can break this up numerous ways such as : 25 X 3, 15 X 5, etc.

Myth Busting: Muscle Confusion

Muscle confusion is a buzz word that’s thrown around by magazines and on Social Media these days. Essentially they say that it is vital to keep changing your exercises to “keep the muscle thinking” and that it will grow this way.

If you think that this is the truth when it comes to muscle building, then maybe you too are confused about muscle confusion.
While a variety of exercises is always a good thing in your training, consistency is also necessary for optimal results. You 100% shouldn’t always aim to “confuse” the muscle. There are lifts/ exercises that should be completed week in and week out for your whole training life! In my opinion the back squat is one.
How do you “confuse ” a muscle to make it grow?
There is a much better way to gain strength and muscle size. It’s pretty simple, prioritise your main lifts (squat, Deadlift, bench press) for 4-6 weeks at a time. Make sure you hit these lifts first in your session and plan with progressive overload.
You could plan as follows for the back squat:

Day 1: 6 X 4
Day 2: 3 X 4
Day 3: 8 X 4

Lets say you focus on this as your main lift for 4 weeks using the above rep schemes. You can then test and see what strength gains you have made.
After the main lifts are done in the workout, you can then use the variety of different exercises we spoke about. This is to hit the other muscle groups of the body. Use exercises here that feel appropriate and will assist the big lifts. It is key to include compound lift varieties that will work the entire body. Try to stay away from isolation exercises as much as possible. While these are good, they are not what we are after at the moment.
If you set PR after PR while still consistently activating all the muscle groups to a high the degree, then your muscles will, over time, grow. Gaining strength and size is much easier when you sit down and plan out your program with a periodised approach. Making sure to have progressive overload in there. This way is much better than just going into the gym and winging it by doing something different each time you step foot in the gym.
Consistency is key when it comes to building size, do not over complicate it. Keep It Simple, Stupid. The KISS method has shown time and time again to be a massive secret to success for many people.