Loughborough president Laurence Holt shares words of encouragement for all 2017 MASS Championship hopefuls as we talk about what it was like to win the title.
Name: Laurence Holt
Course: International Business
Year of Study: second
Congratulations! How does it feel to be crowned the MASS Championship University Champions?
Unremarkable! How did we come from a team of just 12 members in 2008 to Mass University champions? I guess we have our competitors to thank.
After eyeing up our main rivals ( Cardiff ) we honestly thought all hope was lost, however over the series of the MASS Championship our members brought the fire and helped secure the title.
Amazing achievement by all the students who competed and we look forward to showing off the trophy.
Which competitions did the team compete in, and how did they get on in each of them?
Across the year MASS brought a series of events, ranging from Physique to powerlifting. Fortunately for Loughborough, our members competed in 4 out of 5 sports covering a diverse range of results. Both the Powerlifting and Weightlifting proved to be most successful with coupling PB’s and total Wilks/Sinclair scores.
Which is your favourite competition and why?
Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Powerlifting as it was filled with new competitors and put a refreshing twist on competing in MASS championships.
Was it hard to get members interested in competing?
Luckily for us, Loughborough already attracts athletes looking to excel in a variety of sports. Therefore with a little advertising and word of mouth, word quickly spread.
Give us the low-down on what it’s like to run a society?
Brilliant! I have had the pleasure of meeting and inspiring new members to the fitness world and attend some pretty cool lectures. With the backing of an enthusiastic committee a simple idea can turn into a extraordinary event.
Although it’s been a roller-coaster of ups and downs, I will be sad to be stepping down.
Does the work-load vary between term-time and holidays?
Running a society is simply what you make of it and the effort you put in. Work- loads and deadlines will come and go but a 1 hour meeting a week can make all the difference.
What’s the team’s training like in preparation for a competition?
This is a hard question. Some members prefer to train alone and focus on personal goals whilst others prefer to meet up and carry out joint training sessions. Irrespective of training routines all members however are keen to motivate and provide a helping hand before the big day.
Do other committee members help out with the competitions?
Yes, all competitions are seen as a responsibility by committee members to ensure athletes attend events to deliver a ground breaking performance.
In the end, is it all worth it?
YES, what’s the worst that could happen? You loose all your gains and look like Jeff Seid
What advice would you give to 2017 MASS Championship hopefuls?
What have you got to loose. If you don’t know have a go.
What’s next for you?
Hit the gym and get bigger than Dave Bissell himself. It’s always good to aim high Laurence 😉
Where can our readers follow your society?
Easy. Simply type in Loughborough Fitness and Wellbeing society on Facebook and await approval.
The MASS Team caught up with University of Wales Trinity St David student and male athlete of the year Jake Doan to find out what it’s like, and what it takes, to be the national champ!
Name: Jake Doan
University: University of Wales Trinity Saint David
Course: BSc Personal Training- Health & Exercise
Year of Study: 3rd
Congratulations! How does it feel to be crowned the MASS Male athlete of the year?
I am very grateful to be able to receive this award. A lot of training and time went into being able to compete in each event and it has been extremely rewarding year. Just having the ability to compete against the calibre of athletes and in an organization like MASS alone has been gratifying but to receive such a prestigious reward at the end of the year is just incredible and I never would have thought I would be in this situation at this time in my life.
Which competitions did you compete in, and how did you get on in each of them?
National Strongman Championship University Team Award
SPC Men’s Physique Tall 2nd Place Award
Battle of the Student 3rd Place Award
What was your favourite competition and why?
This is a tough question because all the events were extremely enjoyable. I’d have to say the SPC was my favourite because it was the most rewarding event. Although I didn’t place as high as I did in some of my other events I wasn’t concerned at all because of my feelings toward the other athletes and the how great of a final product all the guys in my category brought to the competition that day. The majority of my training and year revolved around this event and I was very pleased with the final result and how I represented myself on stage. The preparation that went into competing was extremely rewarding I learned a lot about myself and how my body reacts to specific types of training methods. To be honest by the end of it I would have been happy just having the courage to step on stage but to go home with a medal that day was amazing. I do have to say that the most fun day overall was the Strongman Championships because both times I competed with fellow team-mates from my university making that event even more enjoyable and rewarding because I got to share those moments with friends.
Did you have a lot of support from your family and peers?
As an international student this was a bit difficult at times as a majority of my friends and family are 5500 km away in Sault Ste Marie Ontario. (Shout out to the Hometown crowd) I am extremely fortunate to have the support system I do back home because you couldn’t ask for more supportive influences than I have; my parents, brother, cousins, old teachers, work friends, my social groups all were there for me along the way and I always knew they had my back. Here in the UK I have the best flat mates, I hit the lotto with this bunch and they know that I appreciate them for all their support.
Give us the low-down on a typical training week for you?
Typically I train every day of the week, the gym is one of the only places I truly feel in my comfort zone. Right now I am a bit worn down so I have implemented one rest day a week at the end of my split(see below) As a strength and conditioning coach I am a huge fan of periodization and having a set template of my week but will adjust it accordingly to weakness time to time. So it does vary with importance of developing specific muscle groups such as my lacking traps, upper chest, and calves. A huge part of my week is recovery, and I include nutrition and meal preparation in this category as I only eat to replenish and grow. I don’t eat just for the sake of eating, I believe food is fuel that’s it. Nutrition is the largest part of the whole recovery spectrum. I think that people focus more on the foam roller and lacrosse ball side of recovery but don’t meet many of the basic nutritional needs that their bodies and their specific training methods require. That being said I focus on recovery in many of those same manners; I always have my tiger tail with me and spend a lot of my down time rolling out while I watch my favourite TV shows; Suits, and basically anything Marvel or DC. The key thing with me is I listen to my body. I am very focused on recovery and ensuring I don’t get injured. I use what I call the therapies of my training; naps, nutrition, massage, and sleep. As for training I have always been a multi-sport athlete and therefore I like a variety of training methods from Crossfit (don’t hate) to Strongman and obviously bodybuilding methods. I train daily at 5:30 in the evening so that I have the day to fuel up for my lift and currently I am doing fasted cardio at 7:30 in the morning in anticipation for a photoshoot at the end of May. I will provide a training template of what I am currently doing below that way if you want to follow my plan for a week you can.
Does your training vary between term time and holidays?
This is very dependent on my goals at the time of the holiday. For example this Christmas I was weeks into my cut for the SPC so I couldn’t and didn’t miss a single day of training or adjust my meal plan. I had a number of scheduled refeeds over that “break” one of which was Christmas morning when I smashed some Nutella French Toast, it’s my favourite refeed meal. I’ll include a link to the instruction on how to make it below so you can indulge too. The only training variations that occurred over this time period was the time of day I would train. As I said before I like to train at 5:30 pm daily but over the holidays our school gym hours were changed to 10am to 1 pm slightly limiting me to training during that time period, but the gym was kind enough to open up over the holidays that they had the building closed because they understood the importance of me getting each workout in. The staff at the Sports Centre in Carmarthen have been amazing with helping me in that area, letting me stay late on some evenings even. I was extremely fortunate in that area.
How drastically did you have to alter the way you train between prepping for the different competitions?
This may take a while… The first event I trained for was the Southern powerlifting event, although my training typically consists of all three of the lifts in powerlifting I only had 4 weeks to specifically train for the MASS Southern Regional event. This consisted of ensuring technique met the requirements for the competition of a lift in all three lifts. For example when I barbell bench press I tended to lower the bar to my chest level but never would I touch and pause at the bottom of the lift because I never wanted to lose momentum throughout the lift. So I started to train with pause reps in my training for the bench press to ensure I was going to be able to press the same amount of weight I traditionally lift with the new standard for bench. That was my main change in training for that event, looking back I wish I had more time to work on my sumo deadlift instead of my tradition deadlift because I can pull much more now with my sumo but that’s hind sight for you. Next up was the Southern Regional Strongman, and I changed up my training big time for this event. I actually travelled to Bridge End and was instructed in all the traditional strongman movements by Wales Strongest Man Mark Jeanes. Which I was extremely fortunate for because Mark and his fellow strongmen were extremely helpful throughout my preparation for this event as I had never lifted an atlas stone or even a yoke before training with them. By the end of the day I had lifted a 135kg atlas stone and 190kg yoke walk with ease so I owe them a huge thanks for that day of training. Learning from the best put me on a path to success in these events. Not to be forgotten my strongman Captain Evan Stanton worked me through log press form and methods of a number of other movements such as the keg toss, farmers walks and circus dumbbells, movements that I had never would have even considered implementing in my training before. The SPC was a huge shift in training and is very similar to the way I am training right now again because I have a photoshoot at the end of May. So you will get to see a bit of that training method in the program I will provide. After the SPC I decided to compete in the Battle of the Students. I have always enjoyed a good Crossfit style workout every once and a while I would perform one of the girls to reassure my progress. I am CF-L1 certified so I started to implement a lot of the standard movements of Crossfit, with Crossfit you have to be so well rounded to perform with the elites of the sport. In reality I trained for Crossfit all year, strongman, powerlifting, even some bodybuilding movement are incorporated in Crossfit but most people aren’t thinking that the three would be related but Crossfit literally is the best of it all. I did incorporate higher rep ranges and more callisthenic movements to my workouts throughout that training period because I tend to not do a lot of that during my typical training.
What’s your current training split?
Day 1- Back and Biceps
Single Arm Bench Row
Bodyweight Inverted Row
Back Extension on Swiss ball Superset with Oblique Crunch
Incline Biceps Curl
Day 2 – Chest and Triceps
Dumbbell Bench Press
Incline Cable Fly
4 Spot Pushup Superset with Triceps Dip
Cable Single Arm Extension
Swiss ball Jackknife
Day 3- leg day
Assisted Pistol Squat
Dumbbell Walking Lunge
Dumbbell Step up (24 inch)
Day 4 – Arms and shoulders
Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Cable Lateral Raise
Standing Dumbbell Curl
Triceps Cable Extension
Cable Lateral Raise
Barbell Shoulder Press/ Plate Front Raise
Barbell Wrist Extension/Flex
Cable Rear Deltoid
Rest – If needed.
How do you structure your nutrition?
Typically I am a Fitness Pal fanatic but since my SPC show I have just been slowly increasing my caloric intake back to a normal range. When I am not cutting or trying to get lean I would eat around 600 calories with a macronutrient break down of 30/30/40 (30 % fat, 30% protein, 40%carbs) I have tried a number of other ranges lowering and higher each macro to see what is best for me dependent on my goals, this range seems best for me and muscle gains without gaining any additional fat in the process. Keep in mind everyone is different, I am 6’2 almost 6’3 and weigh 112 kg normally so no one will ever be the same as me or you likewise. Currently I have simplified my diet to the basics food to conserve money and time as well, food prep for the contest wore me down.
I scale all my food and eat this meal plan below it’s not the most efficient meal plan for me even, its I just financially what I can bare right now as a student studying aboard. (Canadian dollar isn’t looking so good right now)
Is it hard to maintain such a training and nutrition regime as a student, and on a student budget?
I don’t think it was hard at all, obviously there was times of struggle with both training and nutrition but overall I would say it is much more manageable than most student’s diets, eating habits and the training just kept me focused throughout the year. I feel that budgeting myself to specific foods and supplements was simplified by companies like Musclefood <3 which we don’t have in Canada, you don’t know how fortunate you are.
In the end, is it all worth it?
Absolutely every second of the year was worth it. I have had such a great experience with MASS and everyone I met along the way. To be able to come all the way from Canada to have an experience like this with so many people involved is positively overwhelming. I am extremely grateful for the memories made and experience I have gained.
What advice would you give to 2017 MASS Championship hopefuls?
Set yourself small goals that will lead to big achievements and don’t be afraid to fail at anything it’s not about winning it’s about learning and growing as a person.
What’s next for you?
I return to Canada at the end of May and will hopefully be continuing my education as a master’s student at the University of Guelph studying Nutrition, Exercise and Metabolism in September. I believe I may step on stage again someday soon but I am not 100% sure when that will happen.
Where can our readers follow you?
My website will be going live at the end of June which is: showmusclegomuscle.com
The MASS Team caught up with University of Reading student and female athlete of the year Rosie Howard to find out what it’s like, and what it takes, to be the national champ!
Name: Rosie Howard
University: University of Reading
Course: BSc Archaeology
Year of Study: 2
Congratulations! How does it feel to be crowned the MASS Male/Female athlete of the year?
It feels amazing, I only started competing in powerlifting last year at the MASS London Regional Competition and have improved so much since then! I’ve really enjoyed this year of competing with MASS and I look forward to trying to retain female athlete of the year next year!
Which competitions did you compete in, and how did you get on in each of them?
I competed in the MASS Powerlifting London Regional and MASS Southern Strongman Championship, I managed to win both of these competitions overall. At the MASS Powerlifting competition Team Reading also got the win.
What was your favourite competition and why?
I would have to say the strongman competition, because it was something completely new for me and I had great fun competing with the other girls. The powerlifting comp brought back memories of my first ever competition last year with MASS, having Team Reading around definitely spurred me and all the other competitors on.
Did you have a lot of support from your family and peers?
Powerlifting and strongman are individual sports, but the people you surround yourself with can have a huge impact on your performance in and out of competition. Having that support from friends and family really encourages and motivates me to keep on improving and making gains.
A photo posted by Rosie Howard (@rosiemayevelyn) on
Give us the low-down on a typical training week for you?
I normally train 4 times per week, sometime I do strongman events training as an extra session.
Does your training vary between term time and holidays?
No not really.
How drastically did you have to alter the way you train between prepping for the different competitions?
Not drastically, they are both strength sports so the general principles of training are the same. For the strongwoman competition I changed one of my Bench Press days to a Log Press day and incorporated more events training in.
A photo posted by Rosie Howard (@rosiemayevelyn) on
How do you structure your nutrition?
I take an IIFYM approach to my diet, eating fairly clean most of the time but not being too restrictive. I compete in the u72kg class with GBPF and u75kg with GPC-GB and sit at about 70kg therefore don’t need to worry about cutting weight for my competitions.
Can we see your current diet plan?
My macro split is 235/78/176 (40/30/30)
Breakfast 8:00 – at the moment I have 3 eggs and 2 rashers of bacon to start the day
1st Lunch 11:30 – protein shake 50g Protein Dynamix Vanilla Ice Cream flavour
2nd Lunch 14:00 – 150g of chicken & lots of vegetables with 100g rice or pasta
Pre-Workout Meal 18:00 – 100g oats, 25g protein dynamix Vanilla Ice Cream flavour, 20g golden syrup. I make this up with water in the morning so the oats have absorbed the water.
Post-Workout Meal 21:30 – this varies a lot, I tend to make meals like; shepherd’s pie, lasagne, spaghetti bolognaise, chicken strips and chips, pork chops and mash.
Snacks – I have a really sweet tooth, so any leftover macros go on reeses pieces, kinder Buenos, cadbury’s and krispy cremes!
Is it hard to maintain such a training and nutrition regime as a student, and on a student budget?
It’s not that hard at all! I’m quite often working towards a competition and this drives me to keep consistent with training. Nutrition just takes a little bit of thought and planning, I am fairly flexible so can fit in the odd takeaway if I want one. I think if you shop sensibly it’s not hard to achieve on a student budget, I do most of my shopping at Aldi and spend roughly £25 per week on food.
A photo posted by Rosie Howard (@rosiemayevelyn) on
In the end, is it all worth it?
100% I love competing!!
What advice would you give to 2017 MASS Championship hopefuls?
Enter and give it a go regardless of how much experience you feel you have. All the MASS competitions are well run by David and provide a really supportive atmosphere for lifting and competing in!
What’s next for you?
I am competing in GBPF South Midlands Qualifier on May 22nd then at the GPC-GB No Dumbelles competition on the 16th of July. I recently competed in Englands Strongest Woman Southern Qualifier and will be competing in strongwoman again this year. In the autumn I aim to compete in the GBPF and GPC-GB National Competitions. In the next year or so I hope to compete internationally in powerlifting!
After receiving many inspiring applications for the February member of the month award we had a super tough task on our hands to decide the winner. Long debates and discussions later we’ve very pleased to award Matt Molyneux with the member of the month award, congratulations Matt!
University and degree program: University of Lincoln, 3rd year BSc Biomedical Science
The call to action…
After giving up 14 years of competitive swimming to focus on my A Level studies, I quickly became restless and needed a new fitness objective to keep me sane. I had the cardiovascular endurance of marathon runner and the body to match: 5’11 – 135lbs. Inspired in a way that most young males can identify with, my sights were set on the physique of a superhero; Captain America (Chris Evans), to be exact.
A fitness and financial investment…
I started my journey with a £20 dumbbell set from Argos, hitting bicep curls from every angle, every night. Improvements were made but my interest faded with the limited number of exercises available to me and so I invested further in a £50 barbell set, again from Argos. I drove home after collecting the set, bar half sticking out of the window, and immediately loaded it with the full 50kg.
The path to progress…
Deadlifts were first and I managed a few sets of 3 before collapsing on to the bed feeling like Bane had just snapped my back in half. I kept with it, just me and the barbell, every day improvising to create new and different ways to work my muscles. Cushion supported floor press, wrist snapping power-clean/ front squat combos and swing guided barbell curls in all their infinite glory. I kept this up for around 2 years before moving to university and joining what seemed like Gold’s Gym, Venice Beach at the time .. the uni gym. My training advanced but without a squat rack I could only get so far and so I worked hard on gaining muscle as well as adding pounds to my deadlift and my bench, watching the numbers fly up month by month.
A summer of setbacks…
During the summer between second and third year I took myself to my local gym where I managed to contract medial epicondylitis (tendonitis of the inner elbow) attempting overhead barbell tricep extensions. Eight months with no deadlifting and very minimal heavy training, I returned for third year to a new (and cheaper) gym, closer to my house than the university gym.
The 175lbs of hard-earned man that I had built myself into traded loyalties and my new gym obsession took over: powerlifting. Just over 6 months in the new gym, weighing in at approximately 185lbs, I have managed a 147.5kg squat, a 100kg bench and a 182.5kg deadlift without breaking 12% body fat. I’m still undecided about pursuing bodybuilding or powerlifting, but for now it’s a bit of both, and a much smarter approach to my training.
Thank you to all of the applicants, please apply again next month!
Edited by Emma Pudge
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Office hours are 9am – 5pm Monday-Friday
Thanks for taking part!
The online fitness community is ever-expanding, and as consumers we are faced with masses of information on a daily basis.
Whilst this information sharing opens up incredible opportunities for learning, it simultaneously forces us to confront the issue of who is worth listening to, and who is best cast aside.
A topic guaranteed to get people talking and split opinion is meal timing.
Traditionally, gym goers might preach that meal timing is everything… Calling on you to neck a protein shake before your feet hit the floor in the morning, then follow up with an alarm for your subsequent 30g protein dose every 2.5 hours. All whilst nailing your pre and post workout nutrition, and of course avoiding carbs at night like they are going out of fashion.
But then as of late we have seen a different end of the spectrum rise in popularity. With countless spins put on ‘intermittent fasting’ and even competitive physique athletes taking a more flexible approach to their diet – so that weekly totals and overall food intake are all that seems to matter.
With the speculation and rumors aside, let’s make sense of the scientific research on meal timing. What has actually been shown in real, human studies? And what does that mean for you?
#1) Overall Daily Calorie Intake is King
Despite the countless details we could explore with meal timing, your actual calorie intake remains the overbearing factor.
If your body maintains weight at 2500 calories and you take in 3000 daily, you WILL gain weight. Whether those calories are from one Man Vs Food-style showdown, or they sneak under the radar disguised as 8 sporadic snacks.
Studies show that once daily intake is equally matched – almost all otherwise noteworthy factors become accounted for.
Meaning it makes up the biggest part of the picture and provides a foundation for the rest of your diet.
Take Home Message #1
Know your intake and focus on controlling that before you entertain anything else. Understanding your body’s response to a certain amount of calories is valuable information and will provide you with a base of knowledge going forward.
Focus on eating the right amount of calories for your goals, above the precise timing of different nutrients.
#2) Eating More Frequently Will NOT ‘Speed Your Metabolism’
The ‘Thermic Effect of Food’ (TEF) is the amount of calories your body burns in order to digest food.
TEF is dependent upon the calorie content of a meal, not the frequency of meals.
Studies have shown no change in TEF with meal patterns ranging from 2-7 meals per day. However, a reduced TEF has been observed in sedentary people that follow a sporadic weekly feeding schedule.
Take Home Message #2
Find a moderate, daily feeding schedule that best fits your lifestyle. Stay within the 2-7 meal range and your metabolism will be operating like a well oiled machine.
#3) Spacing Out Protein Intake May Benefit Your Muscle Mass
Net muscle protein synthesis moves in waves throughout the day. As you eat protein – it temporarily increases and peaks, followed by a steady decrease until your next meal. So fasting for extended periods increases your body’s time spent in a state of breakdown.
But pause the search for a protein-infused IV just yet. As studies have shown that once muscle protein synthesis is maximized – there is a refractory period, that requires waiting until your body is ready to maximize it again. Making you wait to reap the benefits of a high protein meal once more.
Take Home Message #3
Research has shown the sweet-spot to be a serving of high quality protein every 4-6 hours. To really ensure you maximize the muscles’ response to what you are eating – opt for sources high in the amino acid Leucine. Such as chicken, beef, eggs, whey, turkey and fish.
#4) There is NOT a One Hour ‘Anabolic Window’ Surrounding Your Workout
The notion that there is a single hour after your workout to capitalize on food intake actually originated from research done in the 1980s. But luckily, scientists did not call it a day there and then. As evidence has since surfaced to disprove that you need protein and ‘fast acting’ carbohydrates within an hour of your session.
In fact, a recent analysis has suggested a far more practical 4‐6 hour time slot surrounding your workout.
Protein and carbohydrates consumed in this time may work synergistically with the positive impact training has on your body.
Take Home Message #4
Intuitively, it makes sense to consume protein and carbohydrates to help fuel your weight lifting performance and recover effectively.
But you are most likely safe eating a couple of hours before your workout, then heading home to cook and enjoy a meal leisurely afterwards. Just ensure a good protein and carbohydrate dose with each meal.
The one caveat is if you train twice in a single day. At which point quickly replenishing your glycogen with carbohydrates becomes important to your performance.
First and foremost, focus on your daily calorie intake. Before finding a meal schedule that best fits your lifestyle, ideally between two and seven meals a day. Spread your protein intake out over those meals if you want to maximize muscle gain. Then, to fuel your performance and recover well – aim to eat protein and carbohydrates in the 4-6 hour interval around your workout.
It is repeated efforts, sustained over a long period of time that yield results. I get it, that is not new and sexy. It does not promise 30-day abs nor guarantee less work and more results. But, creating your ideal physique involves playing the long game. By choosing sustainability and enjoyment over short term extreme measures, you can appreciate the journey all the more. Ensuring that the process is just as gratifying as the end goal.
By Jack Lenton
Exercise Science Student
Follow @JackLenton7 on Twitter for thousands of more training and nutrition tips!
In MASS’s member of the month competition we’re awarding one lucky member with huge prizes for an inspiring achievement.
Have you defied the odds and achieved something truly spectacular? Have you made a transformation? Have you taken on a new lifestyle? Or maybe you’ve overcome a serious injury or illness? Whatever your story, we want to hear it!
Submission deadline has been extended to Sunday 28th February.
4th Year psychology student, Cardiff University
I used to be fat, now I am less fat. When I was fat, there were lots of times when I was happy with the way I looked, now there are times when I am not happy with the way I look. Despite what the media says, being leaner does not guarantee happiness. This being said, I have changed a lot as a person in the time between these two photos, and that’s because I’ve met a load of new people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. Gym people are often seen as narcissistic bellends, but most people are usually using it as a way of working through something that they’ve got going on, whether it’s self-esteem, mental health, stress, trying to become stronger for a sport that they love etc. This is why I think that the key to being happier is not about looking skinnier, it’s about eating foods that keep you healthy and going and doing something new with people who build others up, rather than knocking them down. P.s. I still want to get leaner, but that’s more to do with hitting weight categories that’ll help me compete :).
June 2014 – January 2016
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Name: Josh Bridgman
University: Loughborough University
Degree programme and year: Masters: International Business. Just Graduated.
In brief, walk us through journey from SPC to UKBFF National Finals?
From the SPC, I decided to try my luck at a UKBFF Qualifier in Cumbria in June! Fortunately I came second and gained qualification into the British Finals this coming Saturday (3rd October). Between June and October I went travelling around America, but still trained twice a day and added some size! Now its the final week after cutting down my body fat again for the last 8-9 weeks.
Tell us a bit about the UKBFF National Finals – what’s it all about?
UKBFF National finals are an accumulation of the UK’s best physique/bodybuilding and Bikini athletes. The top 2 or 3 who have competed in one of the many qualifiers around the country then qualify for the final.
What was your motivation for entering the UKBFF scene?
It was natural progression, coming to an end at University, the next competition for me to do was UKBFF. It is the most recognised federation in the country so I thought I would try it out!
How did MASS SPC prepare you for the world of professional bodybuilding?
MASS SPC is a fantastic stepping stone for professional bodybuilding. It gives you Vital experience and the classes David puts on have helped me so much with my stage presence and confidence. Moreover, the friends gained in the process are for life and that’s something I will value forever!
What is it about stepping on stage that keeps you coming back for more?
The adrenaline rush, the fans shouting and screaming, the fact that all the people on stage with you have worked months if not years just for 5-10mins on stage. It’s every ounce of effort you have that has been put into this moment all coming true. Relishing in it is one of the best feelings I’ve ever had! It’s a bug!
What was the main thing you took away from your experience at the SPC?
The SPC was the start of my journey. I will never be so thankful for David to pushing me into doing this event! It has really kickstarted my passion for fitness and bodybuilding and now my career.
How has your prep evolved throughout this journey?
Prep has changed so much each time! I now take a more calculated approach which allows me to relax a lot more and not stress about getting lean enough, because when the plan is in motion, nothing will stop you! I’m using lower carbs this time around, as well as lower fats and higher protein has really helped me keep my size and continually lose bodyfat. It’s all a learning curve and I will most likely change things the next time around as that’s the best way to learn!
How would you summarize your approach to training?
Pretty Brutal if I’m honest. I like to warm up very well, get blood into the muscle I’m working, and then go for an all out assault on that muscle. Taking to failure through the positive part of the motion and then failure through the negative part of the motion. Complete failure to force the muscle to grow!
How does your training leading up to a show vary from the off-season?
Leading up to a show volume will go up, training intensity will go up, rest time will go down. Generally aiming to burn more calories and fully fatigue the muscle! Also introduce cardio when I need to. Anywhere from 10-30 mins 2-5 times a week.!
How do you personally determine what constitutes a ‘good workout’?
A good workout to me is when you can’t give anymore, because if you come out the workout and you could of given that extra rep or set, then why not? Someone else is probably doing that so why shouldn’t you?
How has your strength been affected by cutting?
Strength always takes a big hit, but for me it’s no problem as I leave my ego at the door. Bodybuilding is not about moving the most amount of weight possible, it’s about sculpting and perfecting your physique – sometimes it needs a more calculated approach rather than blunt force trauma!
What will you be doing back stage to pump up on Saturday?
Back stage I will have some dumbbells and just go through an all out circuit for upper body, getting blood into my muscles and generally getting my heart rate bit higher. I won’t over do it though; you don’t want to get fatigued before you go on and have to pose – keeping your abs tight while breathing heavy is not fun!!
Do you think that training or nutrition plays the greater role in achieving a stage-ready physique?
Both. People say its 70/30 or 60/40 or honestly for me its 50/50 If you don’t put everything into both then there’s no point in the other. 100% diet and 100% training. If you don’t train well, your diet becomes useless, other than making you a healthier person etc. And vice versa.
Do you subscribe to a certain way of eating?
I do IIFYM, but I remain lactose and dairy free (personal choice) Generally my diet is based around whole grains and lean meats – I don’t have pizza, burgers and other foods which are considered unhealthy (unless it’s a cheat day!). I do this for wealth of life and making my self as healthy internally as externally. So lots of vegetables bit of fruit and a balanced diet.
Does this approach vary in the off-season?
Not really no – I will just increase the amount of food I eat compared to on season. Maybe a few more cheat days and if I want something I will generally have it.
How have you tried to counteract hunger whilst cutting?
Taking my mind off it! Going for a walk or generally remaining busy takes my mind away from food. If you’re bored, or if I’m bored at least, I head straight to the fridge!
Have you had any slip-ups along the way where you have deviated from your diet?
Nope. I have implemented days where I can be more relaxed on my diet; this allows me to focus on keeping to the plan during the days where they are scheduled. Generally my cravings and hunger problems are contained by these relaxed days! Though I’ve been close to caving in!
How have you handled social eating or meals out during your competition journey?
I have my scheduled days where I can go out with friends for food and generally relax more. This keeps my sanity level stable! But throughout the week I do not eat out.
How have your primed your nutrition during peak week?
I have done absolutely nothing! I calculated it perfectly this time around, allowing me to cruise into the final week, not having to change anything as I feel I am lean enough and ready for action!
Have you planned a post-show indulgence?
Cheesecake. I am a fiend for cheesecake. I cannot wait!!
What is your post-show nutritional strategy going to look like?
I’m going to have to reverse diet, and slowly taper off my cardio. Ended up on relatively low calories this time around with quite a lot of cardio. If I just stop and start eating with no cardio… Ill definitely gain a lot of unwanted fat. I’m thinking it will take around 4 weeks for this to end and for me to get into a full bulk, which I intend to stay in for a long time! Time to put on some muscle as I’ve been dieting most of the year.
An inside on what it’s really like to be a bodybuilding competitor
What are some of the sacrifices you have had to make to reach your goals?
I don’t see my friends too much as they go out and eat a lot. I train twice a day most days so I have had to put people on hold for a long time. Generally putting myself before others, it’s a selfish sport at the end of the day. But I am excited for catching up with everyone and getting my relationships back with some people! hahaha
What has been the hardest part of prepping for the finals?
Honestly, this is my 5th prep this year, my body is telling me no more! The diet is really getting to my head, I get mood swings and if I’m hungry, I’m generally Hangry (hungry and angry).
Who has motivated or inspired you through the tough days of contest prep?
My Mum has done so, so much for me this prep. She tells me to keep going everyday, positive motivation from someone like your mum is so valuable when putting your body and mind through contest prep!
Can you share with us some of your top ‘hacks’ for surviving contest prep?
Drink lots of water… Eat wholegrains to stay fuller for longer. But essentially there are no quick-fixes or hacks, ultimately, you either want it or you don’t.
Can you confess to trying out any whacky strategies in pursuit of the dream physique?
Haha! Let me think… I have tried stupid workouts… lots of food… Old school techniques. But nothing works better than hard work and putting the basics into action!
Tell us a bit more about your Youtube channel:
Originally, I started my Youtube channel just to document my movement through the fitness industry. Now, it’s more of a passion. I want to make my channel everyone’s channel. If I post a video on, let’s, say ‘carbohydrates’, then I want anyone who can add to what I’ve said to comment so that when people arrive at my channel, theu will get more than just my personal perspective (I’m so far from knowing everything. Also I just love editing and making videos!
What are some of the stereotypes about bodybuilding you want to shake off?
We are not all meatheads. We are more approachable than your average human. We love what we do so don’t challenge us as to why we do it; it’s the same reason you play golf or football or anything like that. We do not (well, I do not!) eat chicken rice and broccoli everyday haha! It can be fun.
Where do you see yourself going from here?
I want to grow my YouTube channel, along with my physique and hope to compete in the USA eventually and the Olympia if possible. But until then I will just keep grinding!
If you had one piece of advice for a student thinking of competing in bodybuilding, what would it be?
Do it. Just Do it. If you don’t like it then you don’t need to do it again. But I guarantee if you’re interested in bodybuilding, you will love it!
There is no doubt that Instagram has become one of the most significant and active social media to date. The service launched in 2010, as little as five years ago, becoming one of the fastest growing cultural arrivals of the twenty first century with recent figures soaring over 300 million active users by the end of 2014. But what makes Instagram phenomenal is that it has become such an influential platform in marketing and monitoring the game of fitness.
And what do we exactly mean by Instagram? #doyoueveninstagram
To the majority of us, the app requires no introduction however we must acknowledge that Instagram only launched in 2010. Advances in technologies and its impact on culture has us both tech and trend savvy. It’s still important to be open minded that our age and generation plays a huge role in this cultural transition. Instagram is a photo and video sharing service based online and on mobiles. The app enables members to capture, filter and share photos and videos onto their profiles and across other social media including Facebook and Twitter. But, distinctive features of the app include confining photos similar to Polaroid images but most importantly users are able to digitally enhance their images using filters.
Why is Instagram obsessed with fitness? #fitspiration
Photos speak more than words, in fact, they speak volumes. Instagram is image saturated, the whole concept itself is solely focused around imagery. When words are difficult to communicate, posting images simplify the task especially as other social media is either constrained with character limitations or crammed with too many functions of statuses, albums, videos, etc. An image is visual, artistic, the best and perhaps the only way to share your progression in fitness to whoever and whenever you want. The app allows you to follow whomever you wish, mainly for motivational purposes of cultivating these beautiful, inspirational fitness, health and nutrition accounts to help support and motivate us in our day to day goals. It’s common sense that sharing beautiful images creates a positive, motivating ambience, radiating positive emotions.
It’s more than perving #WOD
Many of us students including myself follow fitness accounts not only on the basis of aesthetic images but we love nutritional recipes, workout plans and exercise tips and tricks – all of which are free (almost! if you’re careful)! But this is the best part, we are extremely lucky to have access to so many sources of information in targeting our fitness goals, bearing in mind that not so long ago these little gems of tips were difficult to access without purchasing the magazines or hiring nutritionists and personal trainers. I’m talking about the days before the technological boom! Yes, there really was a time.
“There’s a few things that work: the picture needs to be colourful and happy, and people like seeing me do tricks on my rings. The ones that get the most likes are my morning work-outs. I try to teach something, not be all ‘look at me.’’
“The pictures that get the most traction? The upside-down poses – especially if I’m in a beautiful location – paired with some words of wisdom. People are really hungry for inspiration, not just for tips on how to do poses.”
“A lot of people do ‘shout-for-shouts’, where they ask you to follow their friends. I could have three million followers if I did that. My followers are all word-of -mouth. I want to show people that working out should be fun.”
“The photos of me dancing pregnant were popular because they were so unexpected. No one had seen a ballerina in a leotard doing advanced moves like that. Ninety per cent of the comments were supportive, but it made some people uncomfortable.”
“One of the most important elements of a well-rounded workout is stretching and no other activity does it better than yoga. Press up handstands and arms balances reveals the importance of flexibility and engaging your core to achieving a flawless practice on and off the mat”
“I have been personal training women since 2008. It is my mission to bring incredible confidence and pride to women all around the world. We all deserve to feel great about ourselves. Everyone always says change your life today, but no one ever provides how. My life goal is to provide the how to as many women as possible”
Kayla’s beliefs summarises the reasons as to why she appears on my IG feed. The publishing of her Bikini body workout guide that aims to motivate women into fitness has become a global success. For myself, I need motivation and encouragement to keep going and Kayla provides the perfect balance of tough love and lots of love. This guide is dominating and proves to be working for her hundreds of subscribers and millions of followers. Kayla’s Instagram feed is saturated with motivational images, not only of herself but of the women that have followed her programme.
Interview with Bryan Leong
In seeking a male student’s position on fitness accounts. I’ve kindly sat down with student and powerlifter Bryan Leong to quiz his perspective.
What do you look at for in terms of following a fitness account?
“Twofold. For powerlifter’s accounts I am looking for advices in technical lifts. For accounts of Youtube’s celebrities, I mainly follow them for their persona.”
Who are your top favourite IG fitness accounts?
@Marksmellybell and @Silentmikke. The more I get into the sport of powerlifting, the more I study ways to maximize progress. One of many ways to achieve this is to dig into powerlifting-specific gym equipment and accessories. Marksmellybell and Silentmikke are the spokespersons of the company ‘How Much Ya’ Bench’, in which their IG accounts focuses mainly on demonstrating and test-driving their latest products. Plus occasional posts of motivations featuring top powerlifters in the US.
What makes them different from other accounts?
The one thing which all of these accounts stands out from the other is, they represent the pinnacle of different aspects and field of ‘fitness’. To be fair, based on the current trend of fitness, the content of every fitness-related accounts share 90% of similarities. But I rather follow those who are at best at what they do to receive the most reliable content.
Any other fitness related accounts you’d like to share with us?
Case study user reviews of Hyperdrive NO and BCAA Amino-Gro, based on 2-3 discrete usages at the recommended doses, as well as comparisons between the products and market alternatives. As USN offers a number of pre workouts, this will not be a comprehensive review of their range, so the two products will be considered stand-alone rather than representative of the USN range.
Hyperdrive N.O advertises itself as a stimulant based pre-workout powder with zero carbs and uses sensationalist rhetoric familiar to those who’ve shopped for pre-workout supplements before. The stated benefit is to take your training to the next level through increased focus. Based on the price and ingredient profile, the product aims to give you a mental boost alongside facilitating a pump at a very reasonable price.
On using this product a number of times, I certainly did notice increased focus and pump from its usage; the caffeine and pump ingredients seemed to do their job. I can’t say I felt my performance really increased during these workouts, although I would suggest that’s because I am shooting for strength & work capacity rather than getting a pump and maintaining a strong mind-muscle connection, and I’m used to taking some caffeine before workouts.
From looking at the numbers, there are a few stand out points; firstly that this is among the best price you’ll find for a pre-workout and secondly that it has one of the highest average user review scores (although it’s up to you what difference that makes). The relatively high dosage of Niacin along with the inclusion of D-aspartic acid and citrulline malate helps you achieve a solid pump, despite the latter two ingredients being dosed lower than is typically recommended. The product states its position as a focus and pump product clearly by not including amino acids, and whilst the caffeine dosage is slightly less than competitors, the difference is inconsequential in my opinion. The product contains creatine at an unknown dosage (3g was estimated based on the proprietary blend weight, ingredient list and their typical doses), which to me is a bit of a pain but not a big deal. Overall the product doesn’t go all out on the ingredient list but delivers what it promises at a great price.
As someone who typically just has a coffee before workouts (with a similar caffeine dosage to this product) but has dabbled with a wide variety of pre-workouts, I did notice a bit more focus using this product, and I definitely noticed more pump. Given the low price, ingredients and high opinion others apparently have of it, I’d say this product is perfectly suited for the intermediate student athlete who wants a good workout with a solid pump and manages their recovery/intra-workout nutrition with other products.
USN describes this product as a performance enhancing supplement which uses BCAAs to reduce fatigue and help you get the most out of your workout due to fast nutrient absorption. The product is available at a low price point and notably contains beta-alanine and glutamine; both typical in ‘performance’ based supplements to increase work capacity and improve recovery respectively.
After taking the supplement on several occasions it did produce a perceived effect similar to its competitors’ equivalent products; I felt able to hit my workouts a bit harder and I would suggest I experienced less DOMS compared to just having coffee before a workout. Of course, it’s difficult to quantify these points and judging a product intended to improve performance only on how it makes you feel doesn’t make much sense; it would be great to test the effect of this product on a typical CrossFit workout for example, across a number of athletes.
‘-‘ means 0g, ‘?’ means the ingredient is included but its quantity is not stated (some of these have been estimated)
From looking at the numbers, it’s clear that USN have positioned this product as a predominantly BCAA powder, given the lack of caffeine and creatine, and the amount and ratio of BCAAs is respectable. The citrulline malate is arguably under dosed, but not critical. The beta-alanine dose is actually fairly moderate, although it’s more than enough to cause the skin flushing and tingling which the ingredient is known for. The average user review adds very little to the debate, with fairly consistent scores across the products. Overall this product seems to be a fairly priced attempt at a peri-workout supplement which uses a few solid ingredients without lots of bells and whistles.
Given my experience with this product and a number of similar products, I would say BCAA Amino Gro delivers what you’d expect at a fair price; it’s not going to blow your mind but could certainly be part of a sound training and nutrition routine. I’d recommend an intermediate athlete looking to improve their workout a bit and recover quicker to try this product and compare their personal results against other, similar products. This product is especially useful if you’re avoiding creatine or caffeine, or want to manage those supplements separately. As a word of caution to those unfamiliar with beta-alanine; start with a low dosage to judge whether it causes uncomfortable skin tingles for you, they’re harmless and subside with continued use but can be very distracting at first.
MASS Athlete reviews
Cari Davies – “I thought flavour was the best I’ve tried and it was an okay pick me up which is what I needed after getting home from work and not really feeling it but it wasn’t a particularly great buzz yet gave me awful itchiness so overall not a big fan”
Theo Morgan – “Pros – good amino acid profile with leucine valine and isoleucine in a 2:1:1 ratio. Glutamine helps a lot with recovery and reducing DOMS. The beta alanine does give you energy helps maintain performance in the gym.
Cons– really high beta alanine content gave me some major itchiness when I had a double serving. Could use some more stimulant content like caffeine to make it better as a preworkout, I would probably go for a more stimulant based pre for a heavy lifting session.
Overall – good recovery and sustained energy and performance in the gym however I would prefer more of a buzz if I was going to use it as a pre workout on its own.”
Cardiff Club President, StudyFit ‘Eye on Science’ columnist, CrossFit and Strength Expert
University: Leeds Degree title and year of study: MBCHB MEDICINE AND SURGERY (3RD YEAR)
BSc CLINICAL SCIENCES (CARDIOVASCULAR MEDICINE) 2014 Age: 21 Height: 170cm Weight: 160lbs
How long have you been weight training?
What got you into weight training?
I was a keen sportsman at school and wanted to improve performance.
How did you get into competing in physique?
I did a fair amount of fitness and underwear modelling when I was 18; one of the photographers suggested I considered competing so I looked into it chose the class that suited me best and the rest is history. Only those who have also competed will truly understand the reason why. The feeling you get after weeks of dieting, intense training and prolonged cardio are all worth it when you have the opportunity to display your physique and the improvements you have made.
What have you gotten out of competing?
First and foremost, competing has allowed me to meet so many amazing people who all share the same passion for bodybuilding and fitness like me. Through competing I met Pat Warner, CNP professional sponsored athlete and 2009 UKBFF British Championship, who I class not only as a mentor, a training partner but most importantly also a very close friend. Competing has given me a lot of discipline and allows me to remain focused. Following a strict routine has actually allowed myself to be more successful at University as my busy regime means that I have to utilize my time very efficiently in order to ensure that everything gets done to my best ability. Competing has also taught me how to present myself with confidence without appearing arrogant.
What are your goals for the future?
In 2015, I have the UK Nationals event on 12th April where I aim to qualify for the European Championships in both the open and junior classes, the British Finals, the Arnold Madrid as well as the Amateur Olympia being held in Liverpool later this year. My goal is to be the youngest ever IFBB Physique Pro from the UK and seeing as I am only 21 years of age, I still have 4 years to make this a reality! I am deeply passionate about the science surrounding bodybuilding/fitness and wish to utilize my status as a qualified doctor to help educate others.
What are some of the difficulties in achieving the ideal physique as a student?
Balancing workload with time available to train
Restricted budget to afford the correct nutrition, gym membership, supplementation, competition fees, tanning, posing courses etc.
Becoming isolated from other students, as those who do not compete do not often understand the reason we go to the lengths we do
Furthermore, competition prep can often prevents us from eating/going out socially
How is university conducive to concentrating on your physique?
University is the ideal time to concentrate on my physique as I have total independence of what I do. The structure/routine that is required for competition prep helps me to remain productive and organized whilst on placement too. I tend to find the busier I am, the more I achieve.
What are some of the misconceptions held by students who want to get ripped?
Students often believe you need to do copious amounts of cardio and to do very low carbohydrate diets in order to get ripped. This is not the case at all. There is not a set formula; everyone has different genetics. You just have to find what works best for you. You should remember fitness is a lifestyle and should not feel like a job. It is a continuous process of progression so whatever you chose to do should be maintainable for your circumstances.
Who do you go to for training/nutrition advice?
I have always read about different training/nutrition protocols on the Internet, on websites such as bodybuilding.com or musculardevelopment.com.
As previously mentioned, Pat Warner, is currently mentoring/prepping me for my upcoming competitions this year. We call him ‘The Illusionist’ due to the dramatic changes in the shape and condition he has helped make possible in such a short period of time. Mr. Warner is an extremely smart trainer and no session is ever the same. We hit the muscle with different tensions, from different angles and with different tempos. This way the body never knows what is coming next and has to constantly adapt. I feel this is the secret to stimulating optimal muscle hypertrophy as well as achieving as much detail as possible.
How do you feel about the stereotypes of students leading unhealthy lifestyles?
I feel that stereotyping in general is an extremely negative aspect to society and we should all try not the band certain groups of people together. Everyone is unique and should be treated this way with no labelling or stigma attached. I personally think that due to the emphasis being placed on aesthetics and body image in the social media, that everyone is becoming a lot more body conscious. This is reflected in the increasing number of students who attend the gym and are beginning to implement healthy diets. The poor habits tend to occur in Fresher’s at University but once the novelty has worn off, people soon alter their lifestyle. I also find that medical students tend to have better habits due to the larger load of work, which makes it difficult to go out on a constant basis.
Are you tired of doing endless cardio with no signs of weight loss? Eating the same “clean” meals over and over causing you to cheat regularly? Would you like to learn of a new approach that enables you to treat yourself daily? Then flexible dieting aka if it fits your macros may be just the approach you need.
Name: Daniel Olusina University: Kent Course: Actuarial Science Year of Study: Graduated in 2015
Macro and Micronutrients
Macronutrients are nutrients that provide calories and energy. They’re found in all foods and are made up of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals required in small amounts that are essential to our health, development and growth. They are widely found in an array of fruit and vegetables.
By knowing that all the food that we eat is merely just a certain amount of macro and micro nutrients, we can track them and know precisely how much we are actually eating.
How to Track What You Eat
Any food can easily be tracked using the MyFitnessPal app. This app can be downloaded on any of the latest smart phones or can be accessed on the internet.
Log each each meal you eat by logging the individual foods used to make up that meal. Doing so you will find out the exact amount of macro and micro nutrients you’ve consumed in that meal.
Food on MyFitnessPal can be logged by either weighing out each food using a weigh scale and searching for the food & the amount of if on myfitnesspal or if you’re using the the myfitnesspal app on you’re smart phone then there is a feature where you can scan the barcode which will immediately show you the amount of macronutrients in the food you’ve just scanned.
This can be very handy when you’re out looking to treat yourself but are unsure of whether the desired food (poptarts for me) will fit the total amount of macronutrients to be consumed for the day.
By tracking our food on MyfitnessPal we are able to find out the total macro and micro nutrients we are consuming and thus the total amount of calories we are consuming
Depending on the total amount of calories we are consuming, we may be in a caloric surplus, deficit or maintenance.
Caloric surplus is where we are consuming more calories than the energy we’re expending during the day and thus gaining weight (the amount depends on how big the surplus is).
Caloric maintenance is where we are consuming the same amount of calories as the energy we’re expending and thus our weight stays the same.
Caloric deficit is where we are eating less calories than our caloric maintenance and will therefore lose weight
Flexible Dieting Coming Into Its Own
What I advise is to track the amount of food you generally eat over one day.
See what the total amount of macronutrients is and keep that the same throughout the entire week.
That doesn’t mean eat the same food over and over. Eat a wide variety of food and meals but make sure at the end of the day it all adds up to the same amount of macro and micronutrients which were consumed on day 1.
Whilst you’re doing this I also suggest weighing yourself daily. First thing in the morning after using the toilet. This is to track weight progress. At the end of the week add all the weights together and divide them by 7 to see your average weekly weigh in.
If you’ve seen that your weight has gone up then you are in a caloric surplus and may need to reduce your macros slightly (either carbs or fats) however if your weight has gone down then you’re in a caloric deficit and just need to keep maintaining the same macronutrients to keep losing weight (if weight loss is your goal).
My rule of thumb is whether you were in a caloric surplus or deficit for week 1, if you are looking to lose weight then fats should be around 60g a day for guys and 50g for women to make sure you are still eating an adequate amount of fat to help maintain bodily functions.
Protein should be at least 1.2g per pound of bodyweight but this can be more and carbohydrates throughout the diet phase should be kept as high as possible despite this being the macronutrient that you’ll be looking to reduce every so often when reducing calories further.
Average Weight Loss
So now we’ve set our macro and micronutrients its time for us to lose some weight!
If you’re already losing weight on your current macros then just stick with it and enjoy fitting them small daily treats into those weight loss macros.
You should be looking to lose around 0.5-1kg a week on average so a sufficient caloric deficit of around 300 below caloric maintenance may be all that is needed.
However fat loss isn’t linear so it could a loss of 0.2kg one week and 1.3kg the next.
Try your best to keep fat loss at under 1kg a week as if it is over it may cause a loss in muscle tissue as well, which is not what we want if we want to be looking toned.
Busting weight plateaus
Lower carbs, higher cardio, more intensity in gym
If your weight loss has stalled then fear not for there are many ways to combat this.
As 1g carbohydrates is equal to 4 calories then by merely reducing the daily amount of carbohydrates by 25g you’ll have reduced the daily calories by 100 calories!
This small refinement may make all the difference and allow the weight loss to continue
Another way is increasing the amount of calories you are burning through increased cardio. I would suggest HIIT (high intensive interval training) starting with once a week for 15mins (12-15secs flat out, 45sec to 1min rest) and then increasing to twice a week if weight plateaus. HIIT causes the body to experience an afterburn effect that will cause it to burn many calories throughout the day even when you’re at rest.
Incorporating Steady State cardio in terms of burning a specific amount of calories is also useful but doing this to burn a large amount of calories many times a week may induce metabolic damage so use it sparingly.
Increasing the intensity of your weight training workouts will allow you to burn even more calories and thus be further into a caloric deficit. Supersets, dropsets and less rest periods can all be utilised to make you train even harder and thus burn more calories.
Refeeds vs Cheat Meals
Once a Week
We’ve all been there, just lost a kg and we want to reward ourselves with a KFC bargain bucket.
STOP RIGHT THERE!
Unless that bargain bucket fits your macros (which I doubt it will) then refeeding may be the answer to eating more and potentially losing even more weight
Instead of plain cheating and eating food we know is extremely high in fat we can instead eat roughly 150-200% more carbs on a refeed day.
On this refeed day our fats should be lower than a normal diet day (around 10g less or so) and protein should be around the same level or a little less.
This will cause our leptin level (fat burning hormone) to spike temporarily as it is normally fairly low when we are dieting.
Our metabolism will therefore increase and when you go back to your normal food amounts you may notice that you’ve lost even more weight which is what we all want.
So lets all ditch the 6 meals a days of sweet potato, lentils and plain diced chicken and start having a wide array of meals that fit our caloric deficit macro and micronutrients!
Insulin is a protein that is secreted from the pancreas when a carbohydrate or protein source is ingested into the body. It is transported in the blood in order to regulate blood glucose levels as they must be closely monitored by the body in order to ensure internal conditions in the body remain stable and constant.
Insulin’s Roles in the Muscle Cell
Glucose uptake across the cell membrane
Glycogenesis (Glycogen synthesis)
Amino acid uptake
Gluconeogenesis (the generation of carbohydrate from non carbohydrate sources – ie inhibiting protein degradation)
Glycogenolysis (the breakdown of Glycogen to glucose)
The conclusion of all of that is that insulin plays a huge part in muscle building as it allows for better amino acid uptake resulting in greater levels of protein synthesis. Furthermore, it increases glucose uptake into the cell, which results in fuelling muscular contractions. Does that mean we should look to maximize insulin levels throughout the body and we’ll experience great muscle gains with no negative effects, yes?
Not exactly. Insulin also has an anabolic affect in adipose (fat) tissue and it decreases the rate of lipolysis (fat breakdown) thus decreasing fatty acid plasma levels stopping the body from utilizing fats for energy.
In order to avoid insulin’s anabolic affects in the adipose tissue it’s ideal to be as sensitive to insulin as possible, to allow muscle cells to be able to utilize it effectively to fuel contractions and aid in protein synthesis. The more desensitized the insulin receptors become, the lesser ability the muscle cells have in utilizing the insulin and the more insulin is used in lipid formation and fat storage. The leaner an individual is the more sensitive they will be to insulin and thus, that individual may find it far easier to add muscle, as their insulin will be able to transport glucose and amino acids efficiently. This is where the ‘dirty bulk’ theory is shown to be false as leaner individuals are far more anabolic than individuals who carry a large amount of excess body fat.
Insulin Levels and Post Workout
Your body is most sensitive to insulin at particular times throughout the day. One of these is after a resistance training workout, so post-workout is a good time to have a source of carbohydrates and protein to spike insulin levels. Post-workout is when your muscles need nutrients urgently as they’ve just been broken down by your training and your body will be in a very catabolic (breaking down) state. Around 30g of fast digesting carbohydrates post workout with a source of easily digestible protein is sufficient to maximize recovery and protein synthesis. Followed by adequate intake of overall calories throughout the day.
Eat plenty of Omega 3 fatty acids (found in oily fish and nuts)
Control blood glucose levels by avoiding massive insulin spikes caused by eating large amounts of fast digesting carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates with sources of protein and fats affect blood glucose levels less, alongside high levels of total daily fibre.
Regular consumption of cinnamon in the diet and supplementing with ALA (alpha lipoic acid) has been linked with increased sensitivity (ALA can be found in the diet in foods such as broccoli, spinach and tomatoes but in smaller amounts than in supplements).
University of Leeds
BSc (hons) Sport and Exercise Sciences with Physiology
Tans radiated, smiles glistened and bodies rocked: How our students battled it out in attempt to qualify for the Mass Student Physique finals in London this April.
This March saw an array of talent in both the Midlands and Southern SPC Regional qualifiers. More than 100 of the best student physiques flocked from across the country to each show, managing to sell out both Leicester’s O2 Academy and Southampton’s Student Union in celebration of the student athlete. Both heels and standards were set sky high, filling our stages with professionalism, sportsmanship, and a positive example for students everywhere to follow.
Posing was in full force, with Manchester’s medic Sam Parsons and Exeter’s Adam James impressing the judges enough to take home awards for best stage presence of the day. The talent displayed in the Women’s bikini categories proved particularly hard to judge; finalist Rosie Williams, Serife Ustuner and Liberty Pullen demonstrated incredible presentation skills in the Southern qualifiers, while Nikita Scholes, Holly Couzens and Sarah Baron shone for our Midlands judges.
Emily Wilson & Feyi Oyebode, Midlands regional overall champions
Bournemouth served to be the South’s hottest Uni, gaining overall best team of the day as well as celebrating Tom Vessey’s victory in the Men’s Athletic category. Other successes included George Morgan, Roehampton’s winner in the Men’s Fresher’s category and Nathan Etherington, Plymouth’s short physique victor. Daniel Olusina, former self-confessed “stick-thin” physique, was announced proud winner of both the Men’s Tall and overall Men’s Physique of the day. All praises for the healthy lifestyle, Olusina urges anyone to get involved,
“With hard work, dedication and consistency you can build the body you want!”
Other athletes, who are living proof of the latter, included Midlands overall Men’s champ of the day, Feyi Oyebode and both Women’s bikini winners, Hattie Moran of Westminster and 20 year old Emily Wilson of Coventry.
Each student has undergone an incredible individual journey throughout the SPC process, proving the mental discipline required to compete at this high level. Best friends and gym buddies, Duncan Barry and Jake Sales, demonstrated that physique competitions delve far deeper than surface looks
“It’s changed our mentality towards all aspects of life, and it’s great that we can do it side by side”
Daniel Olusina & Hattie Moran, Southern regional overall champions
Unlike professionals in the industry, the students have had to juggle their rigorous training and nutrition with the hardships of student life. First time competitor, Megan Coldicott, who studies adult nursing at De Montfort University, told us,
“I train twice a day; I start with fasted cardio followed by a weights session later. It’s been hell but so worth it-I’ve never seen my body like this!”
Coventry’s 23 year old Josh Sainsbury-Bow, who gained 2nd place in the Men’s Athletic Category, believes the healthy lifestyle is well worth the time and money
“It can definitely be expensive, but I’ve saved a lot on alcohol!”
When asked to advise other students wanting to compete, Josh Bridgman, winner of the Men’s Physique, insisted,
“Just get out and do it! It’s the best thing you’ll ever do!”
Congratulations to all our inspirational competitors, who proved being a student doesn’t have to mean sleeping all day and drinking all night: we can’t wait to see what you can bring to the championship next year!
The first ever MASS strongman competition was held in the ‘larger than life’ Warehouse Gym this March.
Amongst murals of the Kings and Queens of strength and acres of gritty strength machines for people who mean business, athletes from across the country battled it out to be crowned the strongest and hopefully earn points for their university in the MASS games.
After some close weigh-ins and an explanation of the events from MASS chairman David Bissell, the day quickly got underway; starting with the farmer’s carry. From the outset a high standard of competition was evident, amidst an atmosphere of encouragement and good natured competitiveness familiar to those who attended previous MASS events.
From the females, Cari Davies and Catherine Smith were neck and neck for first place alongside a strong performance from Sharon Shergill. Catherine dominated the log press to nudge ahead at the second event but a comeback from Cari’s now legendary deadlift skills left it all up to the last event; Catherine narrowly pipped Cari to pull the overall result back to a draw. This meant that Catherine won the junior gold medal, Sharon won silver from the juniors and Cari won the senior gold medal.
From the males, Zib Atkinsblazed through the events in first place across the board from the 85kg category, including a sub 30s time to load a 50kg stone, 65kg kettlebell and 70kg sandbag at the end of a 15m carry. This landed him squarely with the 1st place senior prize, alongside Jacob Hetherington as first place junior following the quickest time to load up to the 80kg atlas stone. The 105kg male category was more contested, although a solid senior victory was earned by Geoffrey Kirby, following a spectacular 43 reps at the 180kg car deadlift and RAPID 105kg atlas stone loading.
Finally, the MASS games points were awarded, including 25 points to Loughborough in first place, 20 points to Cardiff in second and 16 points to Nottingham in third. Overall, the first MASS strongman competition was a great example of the friendly, supportive and competitive student strongman community. And we got to pick up a car, which is pretty cool!
With the number of people in the gym ever increasing, treadmills smoking and the sight of people crunching widespread, the question burning everybody’s’ lips, does that magic supplement exist? A powder or capsule that can torch fat naturally?
Name: Brandon Tiller University: Southampton Course: Biochemistry Year of Study: 2nd Year
There are whispers in the corners of gyms, telling you this and that, those sceptics laughing the idea off, and those who sink down every supplement thrust upon them with the hope it is the one. I’m sure you’ve heard of green tea extract amongst those whispers, but is the cousin of Britain’s famous brew really a heavyweight in the fat burning industry?
The Fundamentals of Fat Loss
Lets begin right at the foundation. Every time we chow down on that man-sized, muscle fuelling, umpteenth meal of the day, desperate to squeeze as much muscle-building potential out of our bodies as possible, excess calories eaten in the form of fats and carbohydrates are no use to the body and are packed together and then stored for a later date as triglycerides, or fatty acids within fat cells, and to some degree liver and muscle cells, a process known simply as lipogenesis.
Being the automated machine it is, our body thinks this is ideal, however, in the eyes of a fitness enthusiast, this is disastrous. These fatty acids have a very high energy yield (9kcal/g) compared to that of carbohydrates (4kcal/g) and are therefore retained and stored with more abundance than glycogen.
The Process of Fat Burning
Fat-burning itself is achievable in one of two ways, increasing the bodies metabolic rate, the breakdown and use of fatty acids as an energy source or raising the activity of enzymes that act on fat cells to maximise the availability of these fatty acids.
In the case of fatty acid breakdown, a process known as β-oxidation occurs, in which the triglycerides are catabolised (broken down) back into fats and carbohydrates to be burnt as energy. Much like shovelling coal into the furnace of a steam train to keep everything moving. Not to worry though, that dreaded C word, synonymous with muscle building, is positive in this case, and completely unrelated to muscle catabolism.
Now this all sounds a little bit tricky, when ideally, all we are concerned with is walking down that beach with a six pack so chiselled you could grate a block of cheddar on it.
The Key to a Sculptured Physique
That is where green tea may potentially be the Holy Grail, the key to a sculptured physique. How is it that a plant can be related to such a complex mechanism though? And does it have a significant effect? Well, once the kettle has boiled and the bag is brewing, catechins (natural chemicals present within the leaves) are extracted into the water and it is these small compounds that can make such a big difference!
The noted catechin in green tea is called Epigallocatechin gallate; we’ll call it EGCG for short to save a mouthful. And studies with this have been conducted to define fat-burning fact with fiction. Different doses of EGCG and a placebo were given to active men to identify whether or not it has the ability to increase β-oxidation of fatty acids and assist in fat-burning.
Across all studies, it was conclusive that supplementing with EGCG did in fact aid fat burning across the board.
Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)
Reasons for this are not yet set in stone, but are proposed to be down to one, or a combination of these three ideas. EGCGs ability to increase fatty acid breakdown, decrease fat cell production or reduce fat absorption in the small intestine, not too bad for something you can sip on and enjoy whilst you relax and read this article.
Surprisingly, lower doses of EGCG (300mg/day) were more beneficial than higher doses (600mg/day), increasing β-oxidation by up to 33%, compared to 20% respectively within two hours of meal consumption.
However, the exact level of EGCG in a single cup of green tea is not definitive, which is why many sports supplement manufacturers have developed their very own ‘Green tea extract powder’, an accurately dosed powder that provides the ideal amount of EGCG as well as high levels of additional antioxidants that have a host of other health benefits!
It must be noted though that the greatest effects were seen whilst the EGCG was supplemented with 200mg of caffeine, a stimulant of the nervous system that controls the release of adrenaline into the blood stream, hormones that act to mobilize fatty acids and, of course, give you crazy levels of drive and intensity whilst busting your guts in the iron clad dungeon.
Increases of up to 50% were reported, so why not combine Green tea extract powder with Caffeine for the best possible benefits.
As it stands, there may be truth behind those whispers after all. Green tea extract alone will not build the lean body of Adonis; intense and smart training coupled with a calorific deficit will be the main factor.
But, like Rome, a ripped body is not built in a day, who’s to say the Romans didn’t use all the help they could get?
Following the growth of MASS Powerlifting and the successful regional championships, 40 student athletes filled Bethnal Green Weightlifting Club along with dozens of spectators and GBPF officials to find the best of the best at the MASS National Student Powerlifting Championship. A truly ‘down to business’ gym set the perfect tone for a day of serious heavy lifting, and the friendly staff perfectly complemented the supportive and encouraging atmosphere.
The group was split into 2 waves across 9 represented categories from 17 universities, proceeding as usual through Squat, Bench and Deadlift with 3 attempts at each starting with the lightest female and ending with the heaviest male. The lightest women, at 52kg, put in some strong performances with Becky Montague pipping Alexandra Langberg at 235kg to 232.5kg totals. The 57kg female group was the most contested with 4 athletes and Catherine Smith coming in top place with a total of 282.5kg thanks to a 140kg deadlift, although Carrie Shearer’s 105kg squat scored her 2nd in the group. Of the 63kg females Cari Davies stole the show with a 302kg total thanks to a 160kg deadlift amidst a roaring crowd, although Elly Bar-Richardson did pip her on the Bench Press with a 50kg press. In the 72kg female category, Kimberley Cowell and Ursula Artjoki tied for highest total with 282.5kg, although Ursula’s slightly higher Wilks earned her 1st place.
From the lightest male category, Amrik Mehta put in a solid performance at 66kg with a 475kg total that would have won him the 74kg category crown too, although that went to Joshua Foo with a 462.5kg total after a big 240kgpull. From the 83kg males, Zib Atkins stormed his way to 1st with a huge 615kg total that also would have won him a crown at the next weight category, in part due to a 230kg squat. The 93kg men’s crown went to Ryan Strother for being slightly lighter than Oliver Sawyers after they both totalled 590kg, although the standout performance from the category was Oliver’s big 270kg deadlift. From the heaviest men’s category, at 105kg, Marcus Jolly thrived on the support of his friends and managed a big 635kg total following a 275kg deadlift to have the biggest total of the day.
Overall, Zib Atkins achieved the highest male Wilks at 412 followed by Amrik Metha and Marcus Jolly, and Catherine Smith achieved the highest female Wilks at 343, followed by Cari Davies and Carrie Shearer. The battle for best university was hotly contested but Loughborough achieved the highest Wilks total with 1430, followed by Cardiff at 1294 and Bournemouth at 962. Finally, MASS games points were awarded, prizes were distributed and plates were put away to mark the event of another brilliant MASS example of competition and community amongst student strength athletes.
A huge thank you goes to the event sponsor USN – Ultimate Sports Nutrition, to Bethnal Green Weightlifting Club for hosting the competition and to all the spotters and plate loaders who made the day possible.
Carbohydrate cycling is a method of carbohydrate manipulation that utilizes days of eating both high and low amounts of carbohydrates on a daily basis.
Name: Justin Bland University: University of Leeds Course: BSc (hons) Sport and Exercise Sciences with Physiology Year of Study: Graduated in 2015, Starting an MSc Nutrition.
Why Carb Cycle?
Improves insulin sensitivity
The low insulin levels from the low carbohydrate days will allow for more efficient fat burning as insulin blunts lipolysis (fat burning)
Helps spare lean muscle mass as the high carbohydrate days allow carbohydrates to become the primary energy source so the body wont be converting excess amino acids in the body for energy. Also carbohydrates cause an increase in insulin levels which is a highly anabolic hormone that aids in protein synthesis
High carbohydrate days help blunt cortisol levels. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone which is released during times of stress and dieting, so blunting its catabolic effects aid in the maintenance of muscle mass
Can be adapted for both fat loss and weight gain by manipulation of overall calorie levels.
When looking to increase in muscle mass, carbohydrate cycling is a good way of minimizing excess bodyfat due to the low carbohydrate days blunting the insulin response and the high carbohydrate days which increases the hormone leptin, leptin is one of the best fat burning hormones. Leptin levels decrease when in an extended period of calorie restriction, so high carbohydrate days allow for extra calories to be eaten and enables leptin levels to increase and therefore increases fat burning.
This example is for an individual weighing 180lbs looking to decrease body fat levels on 2000 calories a day (with the individual being a 500kcal maintenance deficit daily). Protein levels stay consistent throughout the whole week but carbohydrate and fats are manipulated daily, hence the name ‘carbohydrate cycling’ ;).
Day 1- P-216g C-100g F-82g Calories-2000
Day 2- P-216g C-100g F-82g Calories-2000
Day 3- P-216g C-100g F-82 Calories-2000
Day 4- P-216 C- 250g F-40g Calories-2224
Day 5- P-216g C-100g F-82g Calories-2000
Day 6- P-216g C-100g F-82g Calories-2000
Day 7- P-216 C- 250g F-40g Calories-2224
This is obviously just a theoretical example trying to illustrate the concept. This person is following 3 low carbohydrate days at 100g a day, followed by one high day of 250g. Then the person has 2 more low carbohydrate days at 100g daily and one high day at 250g.
The pattern is; low,low,low,high,low,low,high.
Looking at the weekly picture your calorie intake will average out at a deficit throughout the whole week, which will result in a loss in bodyweight. The manipulation of carbohydrate levels, will allow the benefits of insulin’s anabolic properties and increase in leptin levels on high days and the fat burning benefits on low carbohydrate days, due to the lack of circulating insulin.
Another common method of carb cycling is to match your carb intake with the size of the muscle group your training that day. Leg days being high carb days, upper body being medium carb days and cardio, abs and rest days being low carb days. This can be seen as a more efficient use of the energy source, maximising your carb intake when it’s most needed and making sure your hormones are in the right place for each particular training day.
When results start to slow down you can tweak your plan to help revive progression. Ways to progress carbohydrate cycling…
change the amount and order of low/medium/high days you do
change the amount of carbohydrates you eat on low/medium/high days depending on your goals
increasing calorie expenditure from exercise.
There are a variety of progressions available to you when looking to keep progressing. But as with every diet, remember not to use all your tools at once. Little changes over a long period of time will see greater long term results.
Brunel University held off strong competition to come out on top of the British Student Weightlifting Championships with an impressive overall score of 222 points.
Brunel’s result was followed by an overall point score of 205 from Middlesex University and a third place finish from competition hosts St Mary’s University, who achieved a score of 197.
At the centre of Brunel’s team was a first place finish from Kristian Mcphee in the men’s 77kg category, followed by a closely fought battle in the men’s 85kg category where Lewis Ridett edged Imperial College London’s Liem Bui-Le by 3kg, lifting 118kg in the snatch, 150kg in the clean and jerk, achieving a total of 268kg.
Kristian and Lewis’ success was followed by second place finishes from Rachael Radman in the women’s 58kg category and Ryan Hambidge in the men’s 62kg category, as well as a third place finish for Patrick Maris in the men’s 105kg category.
The competition also hosted Olympic Development athlete Noorin Gulam who entered the Championships off the back of a gold medal result at the English Weightlifting Championships in February. Noorin continued her current run of form with a first place finish in the women’s 53kg competition, achieving 65kg in the snatch and 80kg in the clean and jerk, equalling a total of 145kg.
Brunel University Weighlifting Team
Participants also had the opportunity to receive some words of advice and meet double Olympic Champion Ilya Ilyin, who attended the Championships as British Weight Lifting’s special guest.
Commenting on the competition, Ashley Metcalfe, British Weight Lifting CEO, said: “It was brilliant to have so many young athletes competing over the weekend and to see such talent emerging at this level. Competitions like this one are really important for the growth of the sport and the closely fought battles and performances on display signify real promise amongst our student athletes.
“We were honoured to have Ilya Ilyin attend the Championships as our special guest and we would also like to say thanks to St Mary’s University for being excellent hosts and to all the officials and volunteers who played a huge role in the organisation of the competition.”
Shopping on a student budget is all about common sense. It’s very simple. The key is organisation and sacrifice. Being smart and thinking before you act. Planning ahead in order to not find yourself with an empty fridge. Don’t give into peer pressure, just because the house is ordering a pizza it doesn’t mean you have to get involved…. Leave them to munch their circle of grease in front of the TV while you snack have a bowl of Greek yoghurt and nuts as you get tomorrow’s assignment done. Prioritise quality food over expensive spirits and ‘procrastination foods’ and you’ll feel a whole lot better about yourself. There is a choice here between buying her a drink at vodka revolution or seducing her with a salmon tagliatelle, for less that £10.
To make shopping more cost-effective, organise your groceries into three categories. Fruit and veg, meat and the rest (whole grains, rice, oils, dried fruit, nuts, dairy)
Fruit and veg; Find a local market, where everything is usually ‘‘a pound a bowl’’. You’ll get x3 more bang for your buck at a market than in the supermarket. Markets are also great for bargaining quality fresh herbs such as mint, coriander, thyme, garlic, onion and lemons that are all expensive in the grocery stores. If you use these everyday in your cooking, buying them individually can equate over time. A trick is to go in the last hour of the day where you can definitely bargain for a buck!
Meats; If you have a few keen gym buddies or house mates, save money by going to the quality local butcher as a group, you’ll be surprised how much discount the butchers will offer if you buy a large amount of meat. By all chipping into a big order of chicken breast you’ll get that price per kg right down. Even if you buy in bulk on your own 9 times out of 10 it’ll still workout as better value for money than the supermarket. Similarly to meat, your local fishmonger will have great quality and variety of seafood. There are always plenty of offers in the fishmonger. Buying whole fish is cheaper, and the guy wearing the silly hat will always clean and cut the fish for you. Become a regular and take your friends, and watch the loyalty discount appear! Make sure to freeze the excess, as you don’t want to confuse the flatmates with an organised but reeking fridge.
The Rest; Aldi is King! It is excellent quality and value for money. If you don’t have an Aldi near you then look for the nearest value supermarket. Buy the supermarkets own brand of dairy and the largest containers you can carry of the stuff that doesn’t go off. Alternatively, Amazon can be a great shout for buying large bulk bags of rice, nuts, dried fruits and the like and as it’s delivered it saves you from a torturous journey home carrying it all on your back!
Nutritious food doesn’t have to taste plain, adding flavour and variety to meals is simple. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the huge selection of fresh herbs and good quality spices that are available. Buy a few healthy carb sources such as basmati rice, wholemeal pasta and couscous in bulk and use them interchangeably. Have meat sources that you use continuously then save room to vary one or two meals week by week.
Other than fresh fruit and veg which should be bought at least once a week, the idea is to bulk bulk bulk and occasionally, treat yourselves to a 13 oz. steak or a pound of king prawns, be it for your own pleasure or to keep your mum happy when she comes to visit. Start taking advantage of the loan drop at the beginning of term to invest bulk, this will A) mean you never run out of chicken, and B) give you a well needed newsflash that you can’t spunk all of your cash on fresher’s week club nights.
You should consider a few points before clicking buy in your shopping cart! There is no need for a drastic shelf of supplements if you eat a balanced macro and micro rich diet. Avoid buying the latest mind-busting, vein popping, pump surging pre-workout every month and instead prioritize the core essentials. To help you on your way to making the right choices here’s our top student sports supplements;
Milk based proteins (Whey/casein); Good quality milk proteins are rich in essential amino acids (EAAS) and also posses many immune boosting effects. They also contain the greatest density of leucine, which is related to as the protein synthesis trigger. 2-3 g of Leucine is vital for triggering muscle protein synthesis. Whey is the faster digesting out of the two and due to its higher leucine content is a preferred choice for athletes to potently stimulate muscle protein synthesis during rest and post exercise.
Caffeine – Caffeine, a naturally occurring timethyxanthine, is the most widely used drug in the world. It is a very effective at stimulating the central nervous system (CNS). Caffeine has been shown to successfully increase performance during endurance, power and strength exercises as well as helping you burn fat cells. Even though studies have shown marginal performance enhancing improvements; the placebo of drinking a strong coffee does work wonders. Now, there is no need to waste money every day on Starbucks! Whether it comes from a good quality instant coffee or those tablets we take before exams, caffeine is a winner!
Creatine – One of the most widely studied supplements, creatine is found naturally in red meat and herring. Creatine has been shown to increase energy and speed up recovery and its use can lead to increased strength and lean muscle mass. In terms of it’s loading protocol, loading of 15-20g for the first 5-7 days and then a single 3-7g pulse post workout will be sufficient. Creatine monohydrate is the best form to take and is cheaper than other, ‘’improved formulas’’ that keep appearing on the market. A good tip is to mix it with lukewarm water to increase solubility. There is no reason why you should not be taking creatine, it is not dangerous at all and can add some great spark to your training!
Fish oils– EPA and DHA are highly unsaturated, essential fatty acids that stand for eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. Yes that is mouthful! They’re called “essential” because your body can’t produce them on its own. Omega-3s are found in fatty fish, like salmon, sardines, tuna and of course, fish oil supplements. The omega-3 fats have been shown to turn on genes that increase fat loss and decrease fat storage, increase muscle recovery and growth, decrease inflammation, and support brain and bone health. If the thought of oily fish is off putting, then fish oils are a must!
Do men and women need different supplements?
The short answer is no. On a hormonal level, men and women differ greatly and women face some unique challenges, especially when that time of the month dawns! So, yes, if we’re talking women-specific health issues then there are health supplements, vitamins and minerals that may be of more benefit to women. But if we’re talking about general health and fitness then no, all of the supplement that men typically use will also be beneficial for women.
The take home message is that supplements do as they say on the tin, they should supplement the diet not replace it!
Now go forth! And be the most cost effective student shopper the world has ever seen!
It’s the Fitness Craze that’s sweeping the nation!
If you’re already slightly confused, asking yourself… What is CrossFit? Then we’re about to confuse you even more! But keep on reading and I promise that by the end of this feature you’ll be slightly less confused! So, CrossFit is many things… Primarily, it’s a fitness regimen developed by Coach Greg Glassman over several decades. He was the first person in history to define fitness in a meaningful, measurable way. CrossFit itself is defined as that which optimizes fitness. It’s also the community that spontaneously arises when people do these workouts together. In fact, the communal aspect of CrossFit is a key component of why it’s so effective!
MASS met with CrossFit expert and organiser of the Student Throwdown Andy “The Machine” Osborne to get to grips with the sport.
Andy has been in the fitness industry for over 15 years and has a wealth of sports science and fitness certifications and qualifications to his name. He is regarded as one of the leading and most respected personal trainers and fitness instructors in the country, and is Head Coach and affiliate owner of CrossFit Leicester.
What is CrossFit and why is it so effective?
“CrossFit “The Sport of Fitness” is constantly varied, functional exercise done with high-intensity. CrossFit unlike other fitness programmes covers all the elements of fitness: Strength, cardiovascular endurance, speed, power, flexibility, stamina, coordination, accuracy, agility and balance.
The CrossFit Program was developed to enhance an individual’s competency at all physical tasks. Our athletes are trained to perform successfully at multiple, diverse, and randomized physical challenges. This fitness is demanded of military and police personnel, fire-fighters, and many sports requiring total or complete physical prowess.
Aside from the breadth and totality of fitness, our program is distinctive, if not unique, in its focus on maximising neuroendocrine response, developing power, cross-training with multiple training modalities, constant training and practise with functional movements, and the development of successful diet strategies.”
So what sort of stuff would I do in a CrossFit workout?
“A variety of things! We train our athletes in gymnastics from rudimentary to advanced movements; garnering great capacity at controlling the body both dynamically and statically while maximising strength to weight ratio and flexibility. We also place a heavy emphasis on Olympic Weightlifting having seen this sport’s unique ability to develop an athletes’ explosive power, control of external objects, and mastery of critical motor recruitment patterns. Our athletes are trained to bike, run, swim, and row at short, middle, and long distances guaranteeing exposure and competency in each of the three main metabolic pathways. And finally we encourage and assist our athletes to explore a variety of sports as a vehicle to express and apply their fitness.”
How does a CrossFit gym differ to a regular gym or health club?
“A Crossfit gym or “box” as it’s called, has no treadmills or shiny machines, instead they contain barbells dumbbells, kettlebells, rowers, racks, rigs, jump boxes, wall balls, atlas stones, sandbags and the like. They and focus on running, rowing, skipping and bodyweight exercises. Unlike most globo gyms all of our sessions are headed by a coach to guide members through the class. A coach focus’s on good technique, good form and take the member from the basics and build’s them up from there. A good CrossFit box like CrossFit Leicester will teach members the importance of good movement patterns, good posture and being body aware.”
“At CrossFit we work exclusively with compound movements and shorter high intensity cardiovascular sessions. We’ve replaced the lateral raise with push- press, the curl with pull-ups, and the leg extension with squats. For every long distance effort our athletes will do five or six at short distance. Why? Because compound or functional movements and high intensity or anaerobic cardio is radically more effective at eliciting nearly any desired fitness result. Startlingly, this is not a matter of opinion but solid irrefutable scientific fact and yet the marginally effective old ways persist and are nearly universal. Our approach is consistent with what is practised in elite training programs associated with major university athletic teams and professional sports. CrossFit endeavours to bring state-of-the-art coaching techniques to the general public and athlete who haven’t access to current technologies, research, and coaching methods.”
What is a ‘WOD’?
“A CrossFit workout or WOD stands for Workout of the Day and is different every day to ensure randomised varied training. A box will each have their own WOD programming that promotes a well-balanced mix of metabolic conditioning, skill development and strength conditioning. A box will typically post the WOD on their website or Facebook page, including advanced-level (‘RX’d’, meaning as prescribed) weights, reps and rounds for men and women. The coaches show athletes how to scale the WOD down or up according to varying fitness and proficiency levels of those taking the class. Here are a few WOD basics that should help you get a better understanding of what it is and how it works.”
“CrossFit is a results driven community and record all of their workouts so that members can track their progress. It encourages people to step outside of their comfort zone and challenge themselves to try new things. You don’t have to be fit to do CrossFit. CrossFit is for everyone and by taking part it will make you fit! The workouts are tailored to your fitness level and experience and no matter how old or young you are you will gain the benefits that CrossFit has to offer.”
“But It doesn’t stop there, once you’re feeling fit and in the groove of things there’s plenty of opportunities to push yourself further. CrossFit is not only a fitness regime but a sport in its own right. Every year CrossFit.com hold a competition in the United States to find the fittest man and woman on earth, it’s called “The CrossFit Games”, and this year the titles of fittest man and woman went to Rich Froning and Camille Leblanc–Bazinet. This is a worldwide competition; however you will find local CrossFit competitions run every week/month all over the UK and Europe. The Student Throwdown is the UK’s leading student competition.”
So there you have it, that’s CrossFit! To find your nearest box and get started go to map.crossfit.com
Every year a CrossFit Throwdown is held to find the fittest male and female CrossFit Student in the UK. CrossFit Leicester and MASS host “The Student Throwdown” and Bethany Lord blasted her way to victory at the 2014 competition.
Name: Bethany Lord University: University of Leicester Course: Physiotherapy Year of Study: Graduated in 2014
Bethany Lord is an all-round athlete to say the least, only one week before powering her way to victory at The Student Throwdown Beth competed in Ms University, a sport which requires a completely different style of training altogether! Beth’s numerous appearances in The MASS Games earned her the title of Student Athlete of the Year. StudyFit caught up with the Women’s champ, Bethany Lord, a 22 year Physiotherapy student from the University of Leicester to find out exactly how she does it all…
How did you get into CrossFit and what do you love about it?
“I’ve always enjoyed keeping fit, and so when a friend said to me that she had just been to the craziest workout ever I had to see what it was all about! Instantly, I knew this was a new door opening for me and after my week induction at CrossFit Nottingham, I was addicted! The reason i love CrossFit is that it incorporates powerlifting, Olympic lifts, gymnastics, bodyweight exercises and cardio which means that it is constantly varied and every WOD is a challenge. The adrenalin rush you get is insane and also the CrossFit community is fantastic and it welcomes all abilities!”
How do you manage training with University life?
“Training is something that I look forward to doing, where I can clear my head and blow off some steam after a stressful day studying. I’m not saying it is easy, but dedication is key; I found that being able to motivate myself was very important.”
What motivates you to train?
“I love the buzz you get from training , whether it’s in the gym or at a CrossFit box. I just tell myself if I don’t train then I’m going to get out of shape, my fitness levels will drop and I know that I will be disappointed in myself. I love looking back at where I started and seeing how far I’ve come, I become more and more motivated each time I look at my progress – whether that is an increase in weights, technique improvement or learning a new movement.”
What advice would you give to students interested in starting CrossFit?
“Just pop into a free taster session at a box in your chosen city and give it a go! Remember that it’s for all abilities and everyone was a beginner once! Don’t worry about not knowing what to do – there’s always an induction to make sure you are applying the correct technique during a WOD.”
What are your top fitness tips?
“Train hard, eat clean and when times get tough stay passionate and think of those results you strive for, no matter what others may say.”
Beth’s favourite WOD
*For as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes
What do you like to do when you’re not WODing?
“I enjoy spending time with my family, eating good food and going travelling. I recently went travelling in South East Asia.”
What are your future plans?
“I have graduated from University now and so I plan to continue training around full-time work and incorporate it with my preparation for competing in Toned Figure, women’s body building. After competing in MASS Student Physique Championship that is another passion I have recently adopted!”
Check us out The Student Throwdown Facebook and Twitter to see what happened this year. Then get down to your local box to prepare for The Student Throwdown 2015!
Facebook: Student Throwdown
Name: Rachael Tordoff University: Plymouth University Course: Computing Year of Study: 3rd Year
Plymouth University Computing student Rachael Tordoff, 20, transformed her body in 12 months. She took on the challenge of a lifetime when she decided ditch the PlayStation for the gym…. and this is what happened!
“I feel healthy, happy, and positive in every aspect of my life now. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”
“I remember the day, this time last year when I realised I had gone from trying to squeeze into a size 10 to suddenly not being able to fit into my size 14 jeans. When realising I was borderline a size 16. I decided at that point I had to change my entire lifestyle before it got worse.”
“The journey was long and bumpy, it wasn’t just about losing fat, I had to learn about myself and my body. I was never active growing up, I was the typical tv/gamer couch potato snacker and I didn’t even realised that I was doing it!
During my journey I started to enjoy the process, started believing in myself and actually thinking “I’ve got something here”, and so I decided I wanted to start competing to see how far I could push my body and my mind. Mr University was a great experience I want to shout out to the world and say you DON’T have to have a background of fitness to compete!”
Once I achieved my goal of being ‘bikini fitness ready’ I realised it was only the beginning. I am now training for an 85 mile cycling race and plan on doing a triathlon, something I never thought I would do and this is all because I realised how much I could push myself whilst preparing for the MASS Student Physique Championship.”
Rachael got through to the finals of the MASS SPC 2014 placing 4th and also won the highest public vote Award with 1,300 ‘Like’s on her photo.
Celebrating the end of exams just found whole new meaning, recent Bournemouth University graduate Owen Hubbard left the partying to the rest of us as he flew out to South Africa to set the Junior World Record in the Bench Press! Just 1 hour after the final exam of his entire degree Owen boarded a plane to the IPF World Classics where at only 21 years of age and 83kg in bodyweight he bench pressed a staggering 190.5 kilograms…. That’s like three times the weight of Mo Farah holding a watermelon! As well as ginormous bench Owen can Squat 257.5kg and Deadlift 265kg giving him a combined powerlifting total of 705kg…… lightweight baby?! StudyFit caught up with the student power lifter, originally from Merthyr Tydfil, to find out more about him, how he built such strength while at University and what his future plans are. Naturally, there was only one question to open with.
You’re one of the UK’s strongest students! What’s that like?
“It’s not really something I think about too much, but it’s nice to be reminded from time to time! The great thing about powerlifting is that you can always get stronger, so I haven’t finished achieving yet.”
How and why did you start Powerlifting? How long has it taken you to build your strength?
“I started Powerlifting at quite a young age, around 15. As a younger child I was a bit of a fat kid sitting at 11 stone, aged 11. So to combat this I joined the local gym which was a real chalk, meat heads and rusty bars type gym. This environment introduced me to weight training pretty early on and through this style of training I ended up losing quite a bit of weight and getting down to around 8% body fat. Then I did what quite a lot of gym goers do, and became complacent. Luckily there were a few guys in the gym, who competed in powerlifting. I’d seen them gym shifting these massive weight and thought yeah, I wanna be able to do that! So I jumped in at the deep end, and 2 months later I was in my first comp totalling around 360kg in the 75kg class. From there I caught the bug and never looked back.”
Where do you train and do you train by yourself or with others?
“Throughout my time at Bournemouth University I’ve been fortunate enough to train with a powersports club, Bournemouth Barbell. This is run by a terrific coach, Paul Rees, who has helped me since my first year of University. It’s safe to say that without him I wouldn’t be where I am now. He creates a good lifting environment with other likeminded lifters which, I believe, is paramount to success.”
How have you learned what works for you and what doesn’t?
“It’s a lot of trial and error. I train with my coach, Paul, 3 times a week but the rest of the week I train on my own due to work commitments. Over the years I have picked up a lot of things that I know works for me in both my nutrition and training. After every training cycle I review and adapt to what suits my needs at that particular moment in time. By doing this you can work on weaknesses and build on strengths!”
Which body parts do you find toughest to work on?
“I wouldn’t say there was a body part that I find toughest to work but there is an exercise for sure….. I HATE deadlifts! Probably because they are my weakest lift by far. But all I can do is keep working at it as much as possible until it gets better. I blame my short arms…” Weakest lift? You lift 265kg! Make the rest of us feel small why don’t you Owen.
What type of diet do you follow?
“This is an aspect of my training that I’ve done a lot of experimenting with in the past and I’ve finally got to a point where I can keep my performance up as well as maintaining my body weight around 83kg. This is very important for a power lifter who has to stay at a particular weight for his or her category. I usually train each day at around 5pm. Before I training my meals are mostly high fat, high protein (around a 50:50 ratio) with no carbs. Post workout this is where I introduce carbohydrates into my diet, around 150/200g altogether… depending on how hard the session has been! Over the years I’ve found I don’t really hit the higher rep ranges enough to warrant a ridiculously high carbohydrate intake throughout the day. Carbs just tend to make me sluggish for lifting more than anything. This is what works for me!”
What is the IPF and what was it like competing in the IPF so close to your final exams?
“The IPF is the International Powerlifting Federation and is the largest drug tested federation in the sport of Powerlifting. I was fortunate enough to compete in their World Classic Powerlifting Championships in South Africa in June this year. Competing there was pretty stressful considering my last Uni exam was the same day as my flight out to South Africa! My social life suffered a little leading up to the competition as I spent early mornings in the library so that I had enough time to train in the evenings. I’m glad I had the opportunity to lift out there and it was definitely worth the stress leading up to the competition!”
How do you motivate yourself to train and eat clean?
“For me this is easy. I want to be the best and I know if don’t do it, someone else will. I have the ambition to become a World Champion and I know that’s not going to happen unless I’m training as hard as I can all the time.”
What tips have you for others who want to take up Powerlifting?
“The Great Britain Powerlifting Federation (GBPF) website is a good place to start or see if your University have a club, learn the rules and compete! Powerlifting is such a welcoming sport and that’s what got me hooked in the first place. I was a 15 year old boy with no idea what I was doing in my first competition and I was welcomed and supported by the other guys at my gym who had been lifting for years!”
What would you say is the key to managing training and diet as a student?
“Diet is preparation for sure. For the last few months of my degree I lived out of Tupperware in the library shovelling mackerel salad down my throat. I was probably the last person you would want to sit next to but it’s got to be done!
Training is similar and you get out of your training what you put into it. If I wasn’t too far away from a competition I would socialise and go on nights out without a problem, but I would do it strategically. Basically never go out the night before a heavy squat session as that hangover is just going to make it a write off! Bench on the other hand, your lying down so it’s not too bad!”
What do you like to do when you’re not lifting?
“Obviously the occasional night out never hurt anyone. Also I’m a bit of a secret nerd inside too so I love my gaming and anything do to with superheroes. Sad I know… “
What are your future plans?
“I’ve graduated from Bournemouth University now with a 2:1 in nutrition and am personal training out of 180 degrees gym in Sandbanks. It’s a nice place to be, training people on the beach!
Competition wise I have a bit of a break now until the British Classics in October held in Dover, so I’m training for some big numbers there.”
Owen’s Training Regime
Training can vary depending on how far away from a competition I am. The closer to a competition I am the heavier the weights and my session become more intense and focused on the main three lifts; squat, bench and deadlift. On the other hand, the further away from a competition I incorporate more variance, assistance and repetitions.
Typically leading up to competition my training consists of the following;
Monday – Squats
Squats – 8 sets x 6 reps (preceded by at least 2 warm up sets)
Weighted sit ups (on a decline bench) – 3 sets x 10 reps
Finish with foam rolling and mobility work
Wednesday – Deadlifts
Deadlifts – 10 sets x 2 reps (building the weight up)
Deficit or block pull deadlifts – 6 sets x 3 reps
Weighted chin ups – 5 sets x 5 reps
Weighted side bends – 5 sets x 5 reps
Thursday – Bench
Bench Press – 8 sets of 6 reps (preceded by at least 2 warm up sets)
‘Board’ or ‘chains’ Bench Press – 5 sets x 3 reps
Friday – Assistance work/active recovery
Bent-over rows – 3 sets x 10 reps (concentrating on technique and squeezing the scapula together)
Wide grip chin ups – 3 sets x 10 reps superset with Lateral raise – 3 sets x 10 reps
Barbell curls – 100 reps in as little amount of sets as possible
Abdominal roll outs – 3 sets x 12 reps
Weighted sit ups (on a decline bench) – 3 sets x 10 reps
Finish with 20/30 minutes of foam rolling
Saturday – Deadlifts and squats
Deadlifts – 5 x 5’s
Deficits speed deadlifts – 3 x 5’s
Squats – 5 x 5’s
Heavy bent over rows – 3 x 5’s
Weighted sit ups – 3 x 20’s
Glute ham raise – 2 x 20’s
Back raises – 2 x 20’s
Sunday – Bench
Similar session to Thursday’s but usually a little lighter and stricter. This means incorporating paused bench into the session. Paused bench involved a 1 second pause at the bottom of the rep before pressing the bar; this is how the bench press is performed in powerlifting. When training I usually pause the first and last repetition.
Commonwealth Champion 2010
British Classic Champion 2013
British Equipped Champion 2014
Junior World Record Holder in the Bench Press @ 83kg (190.5kg)
British classic record holder for both the junior and senior
MASS Spoke with Martin MacDonald to get those all important answers to some underlying Fresher Problems.
Martin is a Clinical Performance Nutritionist and founder of the UK’s Leading Consultancy for Nutrition Advice, www.Mac-Nutrition.com. Martin now works primarily as a the lead nutrition consultant to teams such as Derby County FC and Leicestershire CCC, organisations such as Universal Pictures and Total Greek Yoghurt and many governing bodies, including British Weight Lifting and England Swimming. The rest of Martin’s time is either spent delivering lectures and seminars both nationally and internationally or spent working with the a small number of motivated individual clients whom will benefit from his level expertise and support.
I get wasted 3-4 times a week while I’m out trying to pull fresher’s…. How detrimental is all this drinking and late nights to my health and fitness?
Fortunately the alcohol part of this question can be answered with data from actual research, however it is impossible to quantify just how much of an effect this will have. Very recent research by Parr et al (2014) studied protein synthesis in response to a protein feeding after training with and without alcohol. The amount of alcohol used in the study was enough to get you ‘wasted’ so you can take the results as being pretty valid!
The results showed that protein synthesis was significantly reduced by 24% in the group that consumed the alcohol as opposed to protein alone. The researchers concluded that “alcohol ingestion suppresses the anabolic response in skeletal muscle and may therefore impair recovery and adaptation to training and/or subsequent performance.” Previous in vivo research has also shown that baseline protein synthesis rates can still be impaired up to 24 hours after training therefore if you are binge drinking 4 times per week you could well never be recovering optimally.
Whether ‘late nights’ will have a detrimental effect is any bodies guess and will depend on other factors. Sleep is obviously important in the recovery process however the question is, would late nights be followed by waking up late and therefore getting adequate sleep? Or would the late night be followed by an early start, leading to inadequate sleep, and therefore recovery, and perhaps a substandard performance in the gym? In my opinion, and that is all it is, it is the knock on effects of inadequate sleep that would be more detrimental to progress than any specific physiological responses.
Freshers week left me with a bit of a gut so I’m trying to trim up, I asked my friend in the gym for some advice and he told me no carbs after 6, bro! Are carbs really the enemy?
Carbs are certainly not the enemy for someone who goes to the gym! More specifically, the idea that having carbohydrate after some predetermined hour of the day is more fattening than having them at some other time is a myth that has been firmly blown out of the water. ‘Cutting out carbs’ in many people does lead to a transient decrease in body fat however the reason for this is a reduction in calories, not some unique hormonal or metabolic response to eliminating carbs. Earlier in my career I would often get asked questions about ‘a quick diet for holiday’ by my fellow gym trainers; my response was often ‘stop drinking, cut the carbs’ as I knew, for the two weeks they had before holiday this would work and wouldn’t require a great deal more input. If you want to low your ‘gut’ then your best bet is to combine a decent training program with a consistent diet that manages your hunger to a level where you can eat few enough kcals to lose weight. Generally speaking, get your protein intake adequate at around 2g/kg of your bodyweight, eat plenty of green leafy vegetables at each meal and then manipulate your carb and fat intake depending on the foods you prefer to eat and the way they effect your hunger.
As you might have guessed…. I struggle with consistency! I’ll go hard on my diet for 2 weeks and begin to see results, then put it straight back on in a few days and feel shit about myself. What’s the key to maintaining a healthy diet and achieving long term results?
What a question! It’s not one that I can objectively answer but I can talk from my experiences with clients. The key might be finding a way to change your psyche away from a ‘going hard’ type mentality. If you’re after consistency then you need to make realistic changes that you can sustain OR you need to have a baseline diet that allows you to maintain your progress and then have periods of progression that can be a little more aggressive. Often having a specific goal in mind is a great incentive to keep on track; for instance booking a holiday, a photo shoot or the most motivating of all… entering yourself in a bodybuilding show! Either way, don’t do anything without an exit plan in mind and don’t be insane – expecting to do the same things you’ve done before and expecting different results.
The common mistake that beginner, and sometimes even experienced, lifters make is overthinking or overcomplicating their training. For a successful and easily tracked progressive plan it is a simple matter of manipulating the basic variables
Name: Matt Sallis University: St Mary’s Course: Strength & Conditioning Year of Study: 3rd
Compound exercises – a multi-joint/multi-muscle group exercise
Isolation exercises – a single-joint/single-muscle group exercise
Sets – a group of reps
Concentric – the lifting portion of the exercise
Eccentric – the returning/lowering portion of the exercise
Intensity – the weight at which the exercise is performed
Reps – ‘repetition’, one rep represents one complete movement of the exercise in question. Lower rep ranges, 1-6, tend to produce muscular strength gains. Rep range 6-12 tend to produce hypertrophic (muscular growth) gains, and higher rep ranges 15+ produce muscular endurance gains. Though specific rep ranges target different goals, this is an inter-relationship spectrum.
Tempo – the rate/speed in seconds at which the lift is performed. Tempo can be used to differentiate training. Quicker performing reps aim to produce speed and therefore muscular power, whilst slower performing reps are aimed at increasing time-under-tension (TUT) and therefore growth. For example, a tempo of 1-0-4-0 represents the speed in seconds of each part of the lift and can be read as LIFT-NO PAUSE-RETURN-NO PAUSE (in seconds).
Rest intervals – the amount of rest time given between sets. Rest periods can vary and is dependent on your goal. When training for strength rest times between 2-5mins are employed to enable the lifter to recover enough to perform again at the same capacity – also the case when Power is the goal. Shorter rest times between sets, 5-90 seconds, are used to induce metabolic fatigue/lactate build up within the muscle and employed when muscle growth is your goal. Though specific rest times are designed for different goals, it is an inter-relationship spectrum.
Steady State Cardio – low intensity cardio usually set around <75% MHR (maximum heart rate) and for longer periods of time. It uses predominantly type1 muscle fibres (muscular endurance fibres) and some type2 and tends to be most people’s choice for targeted fat loss.
HIIT Cardio – High Intensity Interval Training – short bursts of intense work followed by an active recovery. Performed in shorter periods but at >75% MHR depending on ability, fitness and goal. Employs type 2a and 2x muscle fibres, spares muscle wastage and although isn’t as effective at acutely utilising fat stores for fuel it has a prolonged fat-burning effect thereafter.
There are a number of factors to take into account when planning your training, the key is sticking to the basics and arranging them so that everything plays a part in working towards your goal. To help you on your way to your ideal body it’s imperative to think about these things
Planning your attack
What is your goal?! Do you want to compete!? Or add 20kg onto your bench press?! Be as specific as you can.
How many times a week can you train? From this you can determine your training split, you want to be hitting all muscle groups ATLEAST once a week.
When would you like to achieve your goal by? This will determine the number of phases your overall plan will consist of.
Do you have weak parts you need to work on? Generally you’ll want to hit these with more volume, or with specific exercises.
What is your training environment? Be sure to plan your sessions so that you can actually perform them, go check your gym out first and take note of what equipment it is. This will come in handy when that times come to change things up.
Choose a mixture of exercises. Generally I choose 1-2 compound exercises, and 2-4 isolation exercises for each muscle group. Sessions should start with compound movements and move into isolation work.
Know your numbers! Set rep ranges, numbers of sets and rest times, which will be dependent on your goal.
Plan your attack! Once you have these basics set in stone you can then go as far as to use EXCEL to plan your attack. Use each column as a new week, and the rows as an exercise – from there you can input/plan your progressions over the weeks. Alternatively there are mobile Apps that can do this.
Once and only once you’ve mastered being CONSISTENT with the above then it’s time to look at ways of upping the ante with Intensity ramping, plateau busting methods….. click here for Matt Sallis’ Plateau busting training methods
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