Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Dom's HIIT Examples

HIIT - High Intensity Interval Training - Has been reported to have shitloads of benefits for so many people and athletes.  Providing Shorter workouts which have Greater effect in Less Time.  Awesome!

15 minutes of interval training could have more benefits than an hour of regular cardio.

There are a bunch of different methods all of which should be tailored to your current level of fitness and strength. It will also be beneficial if you make it sport specific, i.e. doing HIIT on the rowing machine may not have a huge effect on your sprinting ability.  However if you are not a sportsman and just looking for a better all round fitness and body composition then do a variety of exercises

One very popular method is the Tabata Workout/protocol.
Choose your exercise - running, rowing, cycling, swimming - and go at it Hell for leather /  balls to the wall for 10seconds, then rest for 20seconds.
10 on, 20 off
Do that 8 times (or more) - (8 is not a magical number that must be adheared to but does give a rough estimate of a minimum 4 minute workout)

If you are super fit and not totally exhausted after those 8, then keep going, however remember, that if you are not going balls to the wall then you are not getting the benefits.  The aim should be to have yourself massively fatigued, unable to recover, wanting to cry, falling off the machine by even just the 4th set never mind the 8th!
If you are not an incredibly fit and highly trained individual, and you get to 8 sets and think you can do more...... you clearly need to look up "balls to the wall" and try harder!
It should be to the point that when someone asks you 'what would you rather do - jog for an hour in the rain and snow, OR do a 4 minute Tabata workout' - your immediate first though should be a jog will be so much nicer.

Here are a couple of my Protocols I use.

Rowing. Extra Rep Per Minute.

This one is easy and a good challenge.
Set the rowing machine to max resistance and change the display settings to Watts
Row for the first minute at a relaxed pace (~70wpm)
At the start of the second minute do 1 super hard pull.  and note how high the Watts measurement goes up to (usually over 200wpm)
Bring your rowing power back down to 70wpm rest of that minute.
At the start of the next minute do 2 Reps as hard as possible. (again note how high the Watts goes up 350wpm?)
Again drop your rowing power down to your comfortable range 70wpm for the remaining part of that minute. At the start of the next minute do 3 reps balls to the wall)
Continue this process of adding one more extra rep per minute.
There will come a point when no matter how many extra reps you have you can't increase your wattage
However try to beat it 3 times.
In total this for me is an around a 9 minute mark.  Usually I cant get any more increased power after 6 reps and the drop in rest time between sets (due to rowing for longer) means I am not able to get any more recovered.

The plan is that I both increase my WPM in each of the reps and managed to do more minutes.

Rowing Tabata style:
if the above protocol is too confusing then just to the bog standard
10 seconds balls to the wall (that will be around 5-6 reps) then 20 seconds recover (stop if you have to).
Repeat 8 times+

Adjust that protocol for your level of fitness but at the same time I suggest a good warm up before hand (which my protocol has already integrated in itself) both in terms of getting your heart rate up and also preparing your back and legs for the sudden increases in force in the 10 seconds ON.

Treadmill Sprints + Hills.
Sprinting is awesome, no doubt about that.  Very few people do it, and also there may be a bit of danger to doing it in the gym where you could loose your footing and faceplant into the spinning track under your feet. Which wont look cool.

Here is the basic idea.
First minute  Speed 4 - Incline 0
Minute 2     Speed 20 - Incline 15
Minute 3 + 4 Rest

So far this is not what happens.
What actually happens is that just after the first minute I hold the speed button up until it reads 20kph, then I press the Gradient button up until it reaches 15%. By the time I have taken my finger off both of the buttons I have done 35 seconds (of increasing difficulty) But the treadmill is still increaseing its gradient as it is slower to change its actual angle compared to its digital readout angle.
And i just sprint for as long as i can.
so far I have only managed to get to 50s within the minute before i have to slam down the stop button.
When I hit the stop button I bring my runing down and then press restart/resume and get settings down to Speed4 and incline 0 and then walk for 2 minutes to get my heart rate back down before trying again.

The plan is to be able to run for longer (and subsequently a higher angle) and get my heart rate to drop faster between sets.
Todays example My heart rate went up to 175BPM, then in the 2 minutes rest it dropped to 135pbm
The fitter i am in the future, the quicker my heart rate may drop between sets, indication a greater replenishment of energy and a greater ability do do more sets.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

How much Weight Can I lose in 2 Days?

Here are the food diaries for what i ate while i was trying to loose as much weight as possible.

I could have just stopped eating for 3 days but every time I have done that my digestive system also shuts down and i end up not doing a poo for the whole time, so here I still ate a good amount of food to keep me "regular"

Day 1, when I weighed myself at 88.8kg I burnt off 525Kcal with some gardening


Day 1 was really this day, this is when i pretty well controlled what I was eating but also destroyed it on the cross trainer and other machines, burning over 1000kcal

The second day... this may look odd, but the weigh in time was just before lunch, and by that time I had already sweated out and exercised out 700Kcal that morning and weighed myself,

the second part of that where you see how i ate a shit ton of food.  thats part 2 of this experiment, how much weight can i put back on in a day?!

Friday, 21 June 2013

Self Diagnostic before workout

Here is the list in relation to the video here

A)What you have eaten
b) when you ate it
c) what you drank
d)Supplements you have taken and their timing
e) Muscle soreness and fatigue
f) time of day you are working out at
g) temperature and weather
h) warm up, all day or none
i) clothing you are wearing
j) Sleep you have had
k) Gym buddy you are with
l) music you are listening to

Friday, 24 May 2013

Pros and Cons of Morning Workouts: Best time to train

No doubt I am a big fan of my morning workouts before work.  Last year when I was trying to drop weight a college in my office put the idea of going to the gym before work.  I thought it rediculous and far too difficult to keep up. I did it once.

When I walked into work that day I had an all over feeling of righteousness!  I was coming into work fully away, refreshed, and already done more exercise than anyone else in the office.

But could I keep on doing it?  and is there any additional benefits of it?

Well so far I have been doing it for over a year now.  My daily time line is like this

Wake up at 6am
Check youtube and facebook till 6.40am
Drive to the gym and park by 7am
workout till 8.30am
shower and drive to work 9am.
9-5.30 in office working.
5.30 drive home (or go for second workout with Kim)
9pm, head to bed
10pm try and be asleep
10.30, deffo asleep

Ok so what are the Pros/benefits of a Morning workout

1) Gym is quieter

  • Easier to get to equipment
  • music (crappy gym music) usually quieter, so my own music is better
  • No distracting gym douchbags/peacocking meatheads
  • Not likely to skip the gym cos something during the day got in the way
  • Drive to the gym is quieter (faster, less fuel, less frustration with traffic)
  • Changing rooms are quieter, less locker hunting and less lockerroom fancyboys (ie the guys who sit around in the changingrooms longer than they really should)
  • Parking can be cheaper or free (if parking on the street befroe 8.30 - in Edinburgh anyway)
2) Fight Catabolism with some anabolic workout
  • The morning time your body is pumping out a lot of catabolic hormones (break down hormones), to counter this you can either A) Eat - thus spiking insulin and additionally giving the body fuel in an easy form, rather than having to try and get it from stores, ie fat)  B) by doing a heavy workout, high intensity or what not, you produce anabolic hormones and work the muscles so more likely that any negative effects of the catabolic hormones will not affect your precious muscle.
3) Boost Catabolism and burn loads of fat.
  • In the morning you are in a fasted state. If you decide to not eat before you go the the gym you can increase your catabolic hormones which will be hunting your body for energy stores... which usually is in the form of fat.  And combined with the anabolic hormones produced as mentioned above then you can have a double effect of fat burning and muscle saving workout 
4) Boosts metabolism.
  • That is kinda already mentioned above
  • but also
  • Turbo charges your body first thing in the morning, raising your blood pressure, heart rate, and help you squeeze out a poo first thing in the morning can potentially make your body stay in a more elevated physiological state throughout the day.
    Imagine a car having the accelerator slammed at the start of a quarter mile.  It goes up to 100mph then the car coasts to the finish where it then puts on the breaks as it passes the line
    Imagine a second car. at the start line the owner puts it in first and tries to nudge the car off the start line just by working the clutch with the engine at an idol turn over and he slowly reaches 20 miles an-hour then in the last 50 meters of the track he then slams the accelerator and reaches 100mph but then crosses the finish line and slams on the break (the finish line is you going to sleep)

5) Fasted workout is easy.
  • We all like a coffee in the morning, so down one of these then destroy the gym  very little time to be thinking about food or hunger for that matter so doing a good fat burning workout is far less mentally challenging
  • having your digestive system (parasympathetic) in a rest mode - its done all its digesting through the night, means that there will be less energy being used in your stomach when you are working out so that you can force more effort to the skeletal muscles.
  • No intestinal discomfort from having eaten something during the day that may be tough on your tummy.  
6) Really makes you want to go to bed early
  • Studies have shown that 8 hours of sleep is not the same as 8hours of sleep.
    What has been shown is that going to sleep at 12 and waking up at 8am is not as beneficial to your body as going to bed nice and early 9-10 and waking up at 6am.  The greatest burst of Growth hormone is in the first wave of REM and this is shown to be greatly boosted when people sleep earlier than going to bed late.
    A lie-in has far less benefit (physiologically) than an early nights sleep.
  • Additionally, pre workout supplements before an evening gym session could still have large quantities of caffeine floating around your body 4 hours later.  so trying to get to sleep at 10pm after going to the gym at 7 could be difficult.
7) Less Pollution + Less hot
  •  If you are doing any cardio outside, then a morning workout will have far less airborne pollution as generally during the night there are less cars, trucks etc.  Getting fresh air in an evening walk could be far less good for you than previously thought due to the amount of pollution you may be sucking into your lungs.  Running in parks, in the morning, in the wind, in the rain, are better options and especially if you suffer from asthma. 
  • Our body produces a lot of heat when it is working out, working out in hot climates or even just a hot day that you are not used to is far more taxing than in a cooler day (i am not talking cold!)  The morning of a sunny day may be the time when you are able to do your most productive cardio as the temperature will be low compared to the potential sweltering heat of an evening.
8) Superior feeling
  • You feel a bit morally superior, a bit more intelligent, a bit more awesome when you go into work and all the other staff are there shuffling around trying to wake up and you come striding in chugging some ice cold water.
  • It also means that you have done your workout while others are still waking up, and in the evening you can spend your time more constructively either at work or with family and friends and not be a social outcast that insists they cant go to that party cos they cant miss a gym session.
9) Appetite regulation?
  • debatable concept here, that by working out in the morning you somehow can have more control over your appetite during the day.  I am unconvinced that the timing of the workout will have as much control or effect over your hunger and food choices throughout the day as does the type of exercise you are doing.  For example when I was doing the '24 day squat challenge' where i worked up to a max lift every day. very low reps, but heavy weights.  my hunger went through the roof!  but if i do a morning jog or high intensity cardio, I can happily not eat for the rest of the day and be strict with my fast till 5pm.  This may be something which is proven by research but has little real effect in real life situations.

But are there any cons?
Lets look at this.

1) The whole day warm up is missed.
  • If I am going for a Personal best, or a monster session I want to be on top of my game. I mentally start to prepare a full 24hours before hand. This may sound overkill, but if I know I am aiming for a deadlift tomorrow, then today I would start visualising it today. I would also start paying attention closely to how my body feels and which muscles may benefit from an extra bit of foam rolling (or rolling pinning) the night before.  Then on the day I do simple movements that will mimic the exercise later on. Some bodyweight squats (just a couple at a time) if doing squats or deadlifts, or some pressups (no more than 5 at a time) if doing bench etc.  The idea is not to tire-out or fatigue, but just to warm up the movement patterns in my brain and CNS, as well as just get the body use to the stretch i may feel in certain muscles that i will be using.

2) Fasted training
  • If your not used to it then it is going to seem far more difficult, however you can always just scoff a banana or 2 while you are on your way to the gym.
  • If you cant workout without eating, then it may be the case that you would have to wake up earlier, eat as soon as you wake up, so that you have at least an hour and a half for that food to be digested out of the stomach before you go and blast the weights.  This would require getting up even earlier and being very prepared with food.
3) Spinal loading early in the morning
  • This one I need to research some more on as at the moment it is just gym bro advice.
    Seemingly during the night your spine 'hydrates' ie there is a lot of water that is soaked up in the spine as you lie flat on your back.  This seemingly makes it a bit squishy and not so good if doing heavy spinal weight lifting exercise such as, deadlift, OHP, squat etc
    I do know that in the morning you are meant to be a bit taller than you are in the evening, and this extention of the body may make things harder.  Need to find scholarly articles confirming this though.

4) Time restricted

  • You have to go to work.  And work always starts at a certain time.  If you are 10 mins late getting out of the house, or the traffic is busier than usual, or your alarm goes off late, then there is usually no extra time for you to do an extra bit of work in the gym.
5) Low gym energy
  • Sometimes the best workouts are ones when there is a lot of peacocking, a lot of gym douchbags and a lot of loud music blasting everywhere, ie when it is busy in the evening.  Sometimes the fact that you have to wait for a machine or bench builds up your frustration and makes you want to just destroy the reps and sets.
6) Winter mornings suck ass. Warmups not optimal
  • Getting up in the pitch dark, getting out of your bed into a cold room, going out to your car while it is freezing cold, driving along to the gym in the dark…. is not easy
  • There is some research indicating that after waking there is an optimal time zone for strength (usually around 3hours after waking) there are a bunch of ideas behind this. Neural activation, circadian rhythms, hormonal fluctuations and even just the general warm up of your synovial fluid in your joints… guess this is kinda the same as the spinal dehydration thing mentioned earlier.  However that is research science which may have little reflection to real world purposes and have negligible effects compared to the time actually spent warming up (ie treadmill, skipping and foam rolling) and sheer motivation.

7) Shattered for the rest of the day
  • Contentious arguement here, some people feel buzzed after a workout, others want to puke and go to sleep. depending on what kind of workout you are doing you could be either skipping into work or faceplanting into your keyboard at 10.30

In the end, The timing of when you exercise is not as important as the amount of effort, intensity and consistency you put into your training.
Morning training may seem daunting to the un-initiated but like all gym go'ers know, the gym is a habit.  Once you start going in the morning you can develop that habit so that it is not as difficult as you first thought.  Once in the routine, of a morning workout and early to bed, then you can wake up and destroy the gym just as well as you could have done during an evening workout.
My only advice would be to give it a try. If you have never done it before, don't poo-poo it until you have given it a go.  Pack your gym bag the night before, have your coffee and supplements laid out in the kitchen the night before and set your alarm early and put it in another room so you have to get up to turn it off. Go to bed early and get ready for a good workout.  A positive mental attitude will do far more than a sluggish half-ass attempt at anything.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Never Stretch before Running!

Measures of Health

How do we measure health?
Its actually more difficult than you may think.  We can easily measure ill health, disease, viruses, inability to work, pain, etc  but Health is far more than just the lack of ill health.

Here is a quick list of Some Markers of "Health"
2) BMI
3) body fat percentage
4) Cholesterol
5) Blood Pressure
6) Resting Heart rate
7) Energy levels
 Relaxing Sleep (quality not quantity)
9) Aerobic performance (vo2max and lactate thresholds)
10) Digestive function (good pooing ability)
11) Reduction of illness and pain.
12) Sweat v Body oder
13) T-cell count
14) Blood sugar stability
15) mood
16) hair, skin and nails condition
17) Cognitive ability - concentration
18) Appetite
19) Positive Mental attitude
20) Social interaction

Health involves both physical, psycological and sociological factors, of which the the importance of each change with different times and developments in our lives.

Good link

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

A Shitload of Sets?

I am not one to fear the squat, nor am I a fearer of high frequency training.
I do however have a distinct hatred for the pain that comes with high rep high intensity training low rest that is accustom to 'bodybuilding' routines.  And anyway all i want to do is get stronger, not bigger. being bigger just makes running/jogging more difficult.

Previously I have done a squat challenge where I challenged myself to Squat EVERYDAY for 24 days, and although on the first 15 days my performance dropped and I was very close to giving up thinking this is a waste of time, by day 19 I was making some new Personal Bests and by the results day 4 days after finishing, I managed to squat a full 10kg more than I had at the start of the month!

Since then in the last 2 months my squats have stayed pretty much the same but I have managed to get a tiny bit of an increase bringing my current max up to 134kg.

My thoughts just now are that I could go and re-do that challenge, but there was a major issue with that training programme.
My appetite went through the roof, and I lost almost all control over my diet.  There is something about High intensity but  low volume (and low exersion relatively) that spikes my appetite and makes me crave food like nothing else!  so for the last 2 months I have not only been trying to keep the strength and increase it but also get my weight, eating pattern and diet back on track.

So new idea,  sprung to my head after seeing a thing for the Russian squat programme found here
This looked like fun and had an emphasis on strength rather than size.
On day 1 I tested out what 6 sets of 2 reps on 80% max feels like.  I ended up doing 82%max as I just rounded the weight to 110kg and got to 6 sets.
That was easy.
so I did a couple more
then i did a couple where i was really doing pause squats,
then i did one without a belt
then i did another 2
and then i though... cant leave on 13 so did another one and the left.

So a total of 14 sets of 2 reps @ 82%max
To be honest, it wasnt all that difficult, and that was after attempting a max lift on deadlift beforehand.
I then went and did some killer Glute Ham Raises.
and the next day my legs are not really that bothered.

So here is the plan for the next Month

Squat 3 days a week
1) 15 sets x 2 reps x 80%max (110)
2) 10 sets x 3 reps x 86% max (115)
3) 15 sets x 1 rep x 90% max (120) (that should be a killer!)

Then the next week all the same again but with an extra 2.5kg

A total of 40 sets and only 75 reps (not including warm up sets) 
This should be interesting.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Strength Level 1 and 2

Strength Level 1 is not about what total weight you can lift nor how many years you have been working out for.  Its a combination of Strength to bodyweight and also fitness.

Level 1 is being able to do all of these within 1 month

Deadlift         2 x bodyweight
Squat             1.5x bodyweight
Bench            1.25xbodyweight
Push Press     1.25x bodyweight
Pull up           Bodyweight x10

and RUN/JOG 5k in under 30mins

Level 2 could take a year or 2 to get up to after reaching level 1

Deadlift      2.5 x bodyweight
Squat          2 x bodyweight
Bench         1.5x bodyweight
Pushpress   1.5 x bodyweight
Pullup         bodyweight x 20

Run /jog 5k in under 25mins

Monday, 4 February 2013

Gym Plan February 2013

Currently My bodyweight is 85kg (13.4stone or 187lbs)
My Height is 181cm (Just under 6foot)
My age is 29
My current maxes are
48kg dumbbells incline bench
80kg military press
100kg push press
130kg squat
176kg deadlift

Over the last month I have been doing a challenge where I do squats everyday in an attempt to improve my squat performance, and for me it very much worked, however there were some negative sides to it.
1) total amount of calories burnt during a workout went down
2) appatite went through the roof
3) failed to keep strict on my 18-6 fasting-fed
4) failed to stay away from chocolate and crisps
5) neglect of other exercises such as deadlift, bench, and shoulder press,
6) massive neglect of Cardio - even though I covered around 100k in the month from walking and jogging, in general cardio was right down.

The result of which was an awesome gain of 10kg in Squat performance BUT also the disappearance of my abs, the emergence of Back-acne and a bit of a weight gain up to 86kg (starting weight was 84 and that was post xmas and newyear food and booze)

My lowest I'v ever got down to was  78.9kg but that only lasted a day as cravings for pizza and chocolate were almost/actually unbearable. So I want to loose some weight but at least keep the strength gains that I have at the moment.

Aim is to get to 'a stable' 81kg (12.7stone /178lbs)  and still have same PBs on the main lifts (DL, Squat, PushPress, Military Press, Benchpress,)
The important part of that statement above is the term STABLE, ie Not just 81kg for a day, or even 2 days but 81kg for a fortnight/month without suffering from huge cravings and dreaming of chocolate covered pizzas on a crisp base.

The Programme

I am a big fan of the Wendler 531 programme and its numbers it uses, it also just promotes the 4 main lifts and gives basic advise for auxiliary exercises, but generally leaves that up to you to factor in. Some times it could be another 5 sets of10 reps  60% of the max you just lifted, other it can be a drop everything and go home and sleep.

For me I can get to the gym every day of the week (providing life doesnt get in the way) So I am going to factor the 4 main lifts into having their own seperate day. Thus giving me another 3 days a week to either relax or do some Cardio.

As my aim is to loose some flab I will definitely be using those extra days to really bump up the cardio and fitness levels to really get burning some calories and promoting cardiovascular adaptations.

Basic Programme is this

Following the guidelines of Wendler 531 for reps and sets

Saturday (Lunch time)

Sunday (Afternoon - after eating)

Monday (Morning)
Low intensity cardio
Cross trainer/AMT machine 60mins level 20 burn around 800kcal then sauna

Tuesday (Morning)
Incline Dumbell Bench press 

Wednesday (Morning)
HIIT Cardio
tredmill hill sprints 100m runat  5degrees up to 15 degrees (speed 10 to speed 15) (gradient increasing by 2 degrees each time, speed increasing by 1kph (interspersed with 100m walk at 3k and 3 degrees) 1k =9minutes 20seconds plus 260elevation)

Thursday (Morning)
Push-press - Military press
work up to a max on push press and then wendler 531 on seated barbell military press.

Friday (Morning)
Cardio + Plyometrics
Corebag throws, medicine ball throws, UFB-2s, muscle ups, clap press-ups/muscle overs, Rowing 1 minute challenge. 


If for some reason I revist the gym in the evening during the week, which might happen if my girlfriend wants to go and do a workout, I shall do cardio on the cross trainer and sub90% squat training.

Video examples of workouts are below

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Things to Buy To Help You With Weightlifting

I do like lists. top tens, charts, analytics all that kind of stuff.
and I like finding things that have easy links if I am advised to go buy stuff.

So this page is really for myself for the future for when I need to remember to buy things for my Gym training.  The store is below, but below that is my reasoning for each item.

Weightlifting shoes

Just about to start using these, definitly squats will drop at the start, maybe the first couple of weeks but hope to have my squats increasing very fast after I get used to the new heel position.

Click more  for ... more.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

24 Day Squat Challenge

I can't ever claim to be someone that is afraid of too much volume nor that I fear the dreaded "OVER TRAINING"  I have managed to go to the gym up to 10 times a week for weeks on end without ever reaching this so called limit of over training.
I especially like this quote
Overtraining is real, but it is very misunderstood and grossly overstated by most people. 99% of people will never experience overtraining, and maybe only 5-10% of athletes.

However I have, over the past year, separated my workouts day to day, by following the Wendler 531 programme which focuses on 4 main exercises (deadlift, squat, shoulder press and bench press) I have rarely ever done the same exercise back to back.  Well maybe a couple of times doing benchpress but that is easy.

Just before Christmas I managed an Ass-to-Grass 120kg (265lbs) Squat and a 105kg Front Squat, which I was most happy about - see here

And although I am very happy with that, and with my bodyweight at the time being around 84kg (185lbs) it is a happy 143%bodyweight squat.


I kinda think that that still sucks, and sucks real bad especially after i saw this video of this lady doing front squats with 120kg for 4!