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Thursday, 26 July 2012

Five Quick Tips To Gain Muscle Mass

Some basic and advanced tips to put your body in a constant anabolic state.

1 - Attention to the negative part of the exercise

Most people only pay attention to the concentric exercise, where you contracted the muscle (lifting the weight), but do negative (when you turn the weight at the initial stage) people usually have a way to drop weight, or because the load is too high or do not know the importance of the negative part of the exercise. What is the main phase to achieve hypertrophy.

2 - Eat more Fish

That's right, fish contains a large amount of good fat, salmon is one example. You've probably heard of Omega-3. This fat causes the muscle to become more sensitive to insulin, in other words, it facilitates the transport of glycogen and amino acids into muscle.

3 - Increase the sodium intake

That's right. Sodium is a mineral important for muscle growth. However, it is known and has a bad reputation as sodium generates water retention, is the fear of every bodybuilder by competition. The good thing is that the sodium intake helps in the absorption of carbohydrates and amino acids and also makes the muscle more sensitive to insulin.

4 - Cut-off all aerobics

Aerobic exercises are a detriment to gain muscle mass. Aerobics interfere with strength gains, recovery while burning our valuable glycogen and branched chain amino acid in our muscles. Make a choice, stay thin or gain muscle mass, it is impossible to do both at the same time.

5 - Rest

Many beginners make the serious mistake to think that in weight training, more training means more muscle gain, but what happens is the opposite, the more training less gains in muscle. What you have to to do is train regulary in order to train the required days and not give up. Gain muscle mass occurs when we are resting and not when we train, as most beginners think. So, no rest, no gains. Simple as that...

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Fire Up Your Day!

Breakfast literally means ‘breaking a fast’ as it’s the longest period between meals. But what did you have this morning? Was it the kind of day where you grab a coffee and race out the door? Or a more leisurely start with tea, toast and eggs?

Breakfast, like fashion, succumbs to trends. The days when we were a nation tucking into a full English every morning have long gone and now we are just as likely to munch our way through a croissant, grab a smoothie to go,  or dive into a bowl of surprisingly fashionable porridge!
Breakfast like a king?The ‘breakfast like a king,’ advice is spoken by mothers the land over. The famous quote is by 1940s nutritionist, Adelle Davis, who wouldn’t leave the house without sipping a milk smoothie made from yeast, oil, eggs fruit and a sprinkling of mineral supplements. Yum. But Ms Davis had a point. After a night’s sleep, your body needs fuel, especially your brain.
Low blood sugar affects concentration, and an empty stomach is distracting so you won’t be at your best. That goes for kids too who sleep longer than adults, and may have have gone ten or eleven hours since eating before dashing out for a long school day. A recent report revealed almost a third of kids skip breakfast entirely. Previous studies have shown that kids who don’t eat a healthy breakfast struggle to do well in school. And they may also be missing out on vital nutrients that form healthy bones and brains.
GI Low How fast and how much sugar is released from a food into the bloodstream is measured by the glycaemic index (GI). Sugary cereals can hit the top of the scale at 100. And whilst granola may look pretty it is packed with sugar. Old friends, porridge and oats have a lower GI of around 50. Instead of an instant high, these foods slowly release their sugars and keep your blood sugar more evenly regulated.
Keep the GI low and don’t be tempted to add sugar to your breakfast cereal without tasting first.  For breakfast phobics, keep a banana handy as a mid morning snack to prevent an energy crash.
Have a Good Morning
  • Size is important, think portion control
  • Keep a handle on the sugar and salt
  • Porridge has low GI, high fibre and stems hunger
  • Eggs and wholemeal toast are filling and nutritious
  • If you can’t face much, have a banana
  • Smoothies are a great way to get fruit and fibre
  • Mix up your menu to prevent boredom

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Measuring Your Personal Fitness Level

Body shape, lifestyle, genes, and cardiovascular ability all help to shape your individual fitness factor.

Evaluating your fitness level is not a one-size-fits-all process. Differences in lifestyle, muscle tissue, genetic makeup, and overall health all help determine your personal fitness level.
"It is an individual measurement that is not always dependent on how much physical activity you do," notes Jim Pivarnik, PhD, president of the American College of Sports Medicine and director of the Center for Physical Activity and Health at Michigan State University in East Lansing .
So how can you tell if your exercise and healthy diet habits are paying off? There are several ways to measure your fitness level.
The Five Components of Fitness
"Measuring fitness is multi-dimensional," explains Pivarnik. "Long-distance runners have excellent cardiovascular health, but if all you are is legs and lungs, you won't have a lot of strength or flexibility. By the same measure, someone who is overweight and aerobically fit is healthier than someone who is in the normal weight range but doesn't exercise.”
Overall physical fitness is said to consist of five different elements:
  1. Aerobic or cardiovascular endurance
  2. Muscular strength
  3. Muscular endurance
  4. Flexibility
  5. Body composition
Thorough fitness evaluations include exercises and activities that specifically measure your ability to participate in aerobic, or cardiovascular, exercise as well as your muscular strength, endurance, and joint flexibility. Special tools are also used to determine your body composition or percentage of total body fat.
Working to optimize each of these five components of fitness is crucial to enhancing your overall fitness and general health.
Fitness: How to Develop an Action Plan
If you have specific health problems, check with your doctor before implementing a routine to boost fitness. Once your doctor gives you the go-ahead, you have no more excuses. To improve your fitness level, take these important steps:
  • Follow U.S. guidelines for the minimum amount of exercise. That means exercising at a moderate intensity level for at least 2.5 hours spread over most days each week. At least twice a week, supplement aerobic exercise with weight-bearing activities that target all major muscles. Avoid inactivity; some exercise at any level of intensity is better than none while you’re building up your endurance.
  • Walking is the easiest way to get started. Get motivated by enlisting a friend to join you and adding variety to your routine. "Walking is simple and manageable for anyone," says Jill Grimes, MD, a family physician in Austin, Texas. "Wear a pedometer from day one. Think of it in three parts: a five-minute warm-up of walking slowly, followed by a fast walk, then a five-minute cool-down of walking slowly."
  • Compete only against yourself. No matter what activity you choose for getting fit, never compare your progress to someone else's. "Do set goals, and if you are out of shape and hate exercise, start low and go slow," recommends Dr. Grimes. "Do not compare yourself with your best friend who weighs 50 pounds less and just finished her 10th triathlon." Pivarnik agrees: "Even if the same group of women walked at the same pace every morning, they would not all show the same fitness measures."
  • Avoid overexertion. One preventive step Pivarnik suggests is checking your resting heart rate before getting out of bed every morning and making a chart so you can see a consistent, but gradual, decrease over time. If your resting heart rate begins to increase, you may be overdoing it. Another indicator of overexertion is muscle soreness that doesn't go away after a couple days. "People generally err on the side of not pushing themselves enough," says Pivarnik. "But the worst offenders are those who think they can jump in where they left off — the bunch of 40-year-old guys who think they are still on the high school football team and start running laps, but end up red in the face."
As you work on improving your fitness, take it slow and steady to avoid injury or burnout. Above all, remember that consistency is key — if you keep at it, your hard work will pay off.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012


When it comes to training the core, it's a good idea to review what actually constitutes this key region of the body.  Often thought of as simply the internal and external obliques and rectus abdominis, the core actually comprises all of the muscles linking the upper and lower extremities, including the muscles of the back (such as erector spinae, quadratus lumborum and paraspinals) psoas major, and even the glutes.



How frequently one should train the core depends on who you ask, but it is my opinion that you should include an element of core training each time you train.  It is important to remember that the body works as one synergistic unit, so you cannot isolate muscle groups anyway, but the key thing is to ensure that you train the appropriate core focused movement patterns for you on a weekly basis.
Obviously the exercises you perform will be dependent on your level of core strength and stability, but whatever stage you are at, you should be thinking about covering the following movement patterns.

When starting a new training regime having been out of training for a while, or if you know your core to be weak, the following patterns should be focused on first:

Anti-Extension/ Stability Exercises
examples of progressions: forward ball rollouts > stiff arm pulldowns > prone stability > front plank

Anti -Rotation Exercises
example of progressions: horse stance vertical > horse stance horizontal > tall kneeling anti-rotation press > half kneeling anti -rotation press > standing anti-rotation press

Lateral Stabilisation Exercises
example of progressions: side plank > T stabilisation > single arm farmers walk > single arm waiter walks > windmills

Once you are able to resist rotation and extension effectively and therefore stabilise and protect your spine, the following patterns can be added to your training program:

Trunk Flexion Exercises
example of progressions: Reverse crunches > Ab pulldown > Turkish Get Up

Trunk Extension Exercises
example of progressions: back extension > Prone cobras > dynamic cobras > prone med ball throws

Trunk Rotation Exercises
example of progressions: tall kneeling high to low woodchops > half kneeling high to low woodchops > standing high to low woodchops

Hip flexion with neutral spine exercises
example of progressions: swiss ball jacknife > hanging knee raises > swiss ball pike > Single leg jacknife

Obviously, it is not necessary to train every single movement pattern every time you train, and it is also important to remember that your core muscles will activate during all of your compound lifts (deadlifts, squats, lunges, bench/ overhead presses etc.).  Pick 2 or 3 core specific exercises to focus on each time you train and monitor your progress before progressing to a harder version.  Moving on too quickly, and before your body is ready, will likely result in compensation from other muscles and negate the purpose of the exercise.

Monday, 16 July 2012


Make the most of your summer wardrobe and get those legs and arms in shape. Designed workout tones and trim your whole body till they’re beach, pool or party ready. Fabulous!

Top three tips for getting your body bikini ready?
  1. Cut down on refined sugar, eat more fibre and drink more water. Almost all of us consume too much sugar and salt when compared to what our bodies actually need meaning that we put on weight and retain more water.
  2. Plan your exercise sessions and do them with friends. Exercising with friends is a great motivator and you can all support and encourage each other. If your mates don't want to go to the gym, join in a class and you'll meet lots of other people there who have similar goals to you.
  3. Exercise 3 times a week and include resistance training in at least 2 of these sessions.
Four key exercises for toning natural curves?
Natural curves are good, learn to love them! They make you womanly and it's much more appealing to have curves rather than to be all skin and bones. But bursting out of your usual jeans is not a good look. So to get rid of those excess fatty bits it's best to do exercises that incorporate the whole of your body. Try these:
  1. Squats or Squat jump (to target your legs and core; stand tall with feet just wider than hip distance apart. Bend your knees and sit back into a squat. Take the majority of your weight back into your heels but remember to keep your chest lifted to avoid leaning forwards too much. Push your heels into the ground as you straighten your legs and return to the start position. To make this harder, add in a jump; from the bottom of your squat, push off the floor and jump as high as you can. Land softly through your feet as you go back into your squat.)
  2. Walking lunges (to target your legs and core; start standing tall, draw your shoulder blades back and down and aim to keep your torso in this good posture throughout. Take a big step forwards with your right leg and bend both knees into a lunge. Aim to make a right angle at both your knee joints at the bottom of your lunge. Take a big step forwards with the left leg into your next lunge and repeat.)
  3. Press ups (to target your chest, shoulders and core; there are lots of options for all levels of fitness. For an easier option, begin on all fours. Progress to a ¾ position or half plank position and for a tough option, start in a full plank balancing on the balls of your feet and hands. Which ever position you start in, aim to keep your back straight in it’s natural curves, avoid your lower back sagging or dipping too much. Take your hands wider than shoulder width and take the weight of your body through your arms and hands. Bend your elbows out to the sides of the room and lower your chest towards the floor so that it is in line with your hands (not behind your hands!). Breathe out and push your self back up to the start position straightening your arms keeping your elbow off lock.
  4. Sky Diver (to target your back; lie on your front with arms outstretched. Squeeze your butt and engage abdominals. Lift both legs, both arms and shoulders off the floor as if you were skydiving, then lower back down).
    For each exercise:
  • Beginners: 12 - 15 reps, 3 sets with 45 second break in between each set.
  • If you’re active already: 8 – 10 reps, 3 sets with a 30 second break in between each set
  • For a challenge: perform the exercise explosively for 20 seconds, take 10 seconds break and repeat 6 – 8 times.
  • Make sure you have warmed up before doing these exercises and stretch at the end of your workout.
No quick wins. You have to earn your beach bod!
How much should you exercise in the run-up to beach season?
New to exercise? Do 3 sessions a week of cardio for 30 minutes and for 2 of the sessions add in 20 minutes of resistance exercises. Always make sure you have at least one rest day a week.
If you are already exercising but have reached a plateau, change your routine and try different types of activity to give your body a new challenge.
Be careful not to go crazy by exercising a lot more than you are used to all in one go as you could risk getting injured or burnt out.

What are the secret fat-busting exercises to combat problem areas like bum and tums fast?  
There are no secret fat busting exercises. The best thing you can do is to change up your exercise selection. Swap the resistance machines for TRX suspension exercises or the ViPR. Replace the treadmill for an Aqua class or swim. Give your body a new challenge. 

Best exercises to boost your summer workout plan?
  1. Cardio Exercises - Cardio exercise is a great way to burn fat and raise metabolism. Cardio intervals involve high-intensity exercises that work the whole body. With a mixture of high and low impact moves, your heart rate will rise, body temperature rises and you will start to burn calories. The harder you push yourself in cardio exercises, the better your results will be. The calories burnt will be a mixture of calories from carbohydrates and fat stored in your body. The harder you work the more calories you will burn overall.
  2. Pilates - Pilates focuses on toning the muscles of the core and in classes, exercises are performed on a mat using your own body weight as resistance to strengthen and tone your body. You are taught body awareness and how to maintain a good posture with exercises that will improve your posture and muscular balance. By creating balance through your body and building your core strength through Pilates, you are generally able to perform other exercises in the gym and in other classes much better making them more effective and giving you better results. 
  3. Kettlebells and TRX -  KT and TRX workouts can be similar to Circuit training but just for 20 or 30 minutes and involve exercises that target your whole body. These classes are high in intensity with small periods of rest in between exercises, this interval training technique will speed up your metabolism and help you to burn more fat as compared to some other lower intensity activities. Many different types of exercises and equipment can be used e.g. Kettlebells, Boxing Pads and TRX that involves speed, agility and quickess drills to give you a great cardio workout as well as body weight exercises and resistance work using weight plates or cords to strengthen and tone all over. Anyone from new exercisers to experienced athletes can take part in these training workout, you push yourself to your own capabilities and Frank Guerra will make sure that you progress each week to get you closer to your fitness goals.
So there you have it. Nobody said it was going to be easy. But with a Personal Trainer and foolproof plan and your hardwork, you'll soon be ready to show off your new beach body!


For years we've assumed chocolate is bad for us - but could there be more than meets the eye to this tasty treat?
Like every other special occasion, celebrating has become synonymous with celebrating one of the world’s favourite indulgences: chocolate.
It just seems so harmless. Wrapped up in cute Santa shapes, decorated with irresistible festive touches and dangling from the Christmas tree amidst sparkling fairy lights - we eagerly gobble it up by the stocking load!
But this isn’t the only time we give into temptation. Although we love a good excuse to tuck into the sweet stuff - most of us actually indulge quite regularly.
Chocolate - life's guilty pleasure?
Find yourself tempted by the sweet stuff?
In fact, a data monitor report suggests that the average Brit consumes over 10kg of chocolate a year. That makes us the biggest chocolate consumers in Europe, with the Irish coming in a close second at around 8.2kg. What’s that equivalent to in the average body weight? A leg? An arm? Now, that’s a lot of chocolate.
So, being one of life’s guilty pleasures, we were curious to find out - how much do we actually have to feel guilty about? Does chocolate have any legitimate health benefits? And does it genuinely have addictive properties so powerful that we are helpless but to act on them…
With insight from Jane Freeman, a Registered Dietician and Nutritionist, we examine the deepest, darkest depths of our relationship with chocolate to understand what it does for us, and how we can enjoy it better this festive season.
Chocolate and your body
The good news is - chocolate does have health benefits! This is thanks to the high content of flavanoids; a plant compound with potent antioxidant properties. So far, scientists have identified more than 4,000 kinds of flavanoids. Those found specifically in cocoa beans are called flavonols, but flavanoids can also be found in red wine, tea, cranberries, peanuts, strawberries, apples and many other fruits and vegetables.
Dark chocolate usually has the highest flavonoids content; whereas milk and white chocolate, cocoa powder and chocolate syrup lose more during the manufacturing process. But what exactly does it do? Flavonols in cocoa prevents fat-like substances in the bloodstream from oxidizing and clogging the arteries, making blood platelets less likely to stick together and cause clots.
Studies suggest that eating dark chocolate, as part of a balanced diet, may support your health. In a 15-person study, a group of Italian researchers found 100g of dark chocolate per day for 15 days lowered blood pressure and improved the body’s ability to metabolise sugar.
Other studies have found another substance in cocoa that helps the body process nitric oxide (NO), which is a compound critical for healthy blood flow and blood pressure. While this is good news for chocoholics, the research conducted is small scale and comes with the caution that chocolate is still high in saturated fat and calories, which may negate the positive effects of antioxidants.
Chocolate and calories
Unfortunately, the price you pay for off-the-scale eating pleasure is off-the-scale calories. Chocolate is very high in fat (blame it on the cocoa butter -that’s what gives it that glorious ‘melt in your mouth’ texture) and sugar. So the calorie hit for a 100g chocolate bar is enormous at around 540 cal, with 31g fat and 58g sugar. The difference between white, dark and milk varieties is minimal – you’ll pile on the pounds if you eat too much of any kind.
Chocolate and cravings
Do you feel powerless against the power of chocolate? Well, let’s look at the science. Chocolate does contain numerous ‘feel-good’ chemicals associated with addictive behaviours, namely phenylethylamine (PEA) and theobromine, which are associated with feelings of being in love, plus caffeine. However, you would need to eat about 1kg per day to absorb the chemical levels needed to feel any effects. Furthermore, controlled studies show that chocolate doesn’t effect the brain the way other addictive substances do, and that any euphoric feeling from eating chocolate may be better explained by the pleasurable taste, feel, and melt in your mouth sensation.
How to make the most out of your chocolate cravings:
  1. Chocolate cravings usually strike when you haven’t eaten enough during the day and you hit a sugar low. That’s why it’s important to fill up on grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein foods to maintain healthy blood sugar levels so you feel fuller for longer.
  2. There are plenty of ways to satisfy your taste for chocolate without actually tucking into a bar. Other alternatives include: good quality dark drinking chocolate mixed with skim milk or soya, low calorie chocolate dairy desserts, or even a drizzle of chocolate sauce over fresh fruit.
  3. If nothing else but chocolate will satisfy, don’t deprive yourself – just limit your intake and savour each bite. It’s a good idea to opt for premium quality chocolate, which often come in smaller portion sizes as this can help you appreciate the indulgence even more.
  4. Don’t keep chocolate in the house where it is readily available to snack on. It’s far too easy to delve in for a handful throughout the day without realising how much you’re actually eating!
  5. If you find yourself incapable of stopping after a few mouthfuls of chocolate goodness, go and brush your teeth to get the taste out of your mouth, or distract yourself by doing something that doesn’t involve eating!