featured image RBANDS

How to use resistance bands for squatting

I’m always on the lookout for different bits of gear I can use to help me out in my workouts, and one of the best bits of equipment which are often overlooked are resistance bands.

 

I use resistance bands in both upper and lower body workouts, I use them to warm up, to help with my form and to add a bit of extra resistance in some exercises. You can get resistance bands in different lengths and levels of resistance. In this article I’ve used the lightest form of resistance bands (2-16kg), you can get these from almost anywhere and they are pretty inexpensive. Depending on what you want to use the band for will help you decide what kind of band to get. Before I bought my own resistance bands, I would use the free ones that were hanging around my gym, usually they’re just a bit of latex tubing but if I tied one to make a loop they would still do the job.

 

Warming Up

 

 

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When I perform resistance band bodyweight squats I wrap the resistance band around my calves, usually twice, and squat as I normally would. This added resistance helps to activate your hip extensor muscles and increase overall lower body stability – helping to rectify a common squat form problem; caving knees. The smaller resistance bands would be good to use for this warm up because you can wrap it around your thighs, just above your knee. A popular tool for this would be the Slingshot Hip Circle, which is great for lower body exercises where the glutes are required but often underutilised.

 

I also like to perform lateral side steps with a resistance band. This exercise is great for activating the hip abductor muscles. This is especially useful for me as I have had a hip flexor injury in the past and anything which aids in glute activation means there’s less strain placed on my hip flexors. Again, you can use a resistance band around your calves or just above your knee to perform this.

 

Resistance bands aren’t just good for lower body warm ups, but for upper body too. Before every single upper body workout, I use my resistance band looped around the squat rack or the TRX frame to perform face pulls. This warm up is great for activating your rear delts and the external rotators of the shoulder. Warming up the rotator cuffs is essential if you want to avoid upper body injuries and face pulls themselves can strengthen your bench dramatically if they are currently underdeveloped.

 

Help Activate Muscles

 

You can also use resistance bands to add resistance to some less exciting exercises, like the leg press. Using a resistance band wrapped above your knees can help make sure you’re performing the leg press correctly by forcing you to apply external rotation of the hip joint, resulting in the knees maintaining an outward tracking plane of movement. Again, this is going to assist in overall leg development and ensure adequate recruitment of the hamstrings & glutes, as opposed to the quads overcompensating due to poor knee/hip alignment.

 

Improve Form

 

 

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I’ve recently started using resistance bands to improve my form with my main lifts too. A reoccurring problem for me when I’m squatting is the issue of my knees caving inwards when the weight gets heavy. I discovered the trick of using resistance bands attached to the squat rack and wrapped around the top of my knees a few weeks ago and it’s already fixed my problem.

 

 

 

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It may look confusing but all it does is remind me to keep the resistance band taut by making sure my knees are pointed outwards during the entire lift.

 

These are some of my favourite ways to use resistance bands in my workouts but there’s lots of other ways to get them to benefit yours too. For example, heavier resistance bands are extremely useful when wanting to improve your pull ups by providing assistance and for applying accommodating resistance to exercises such as the bench press (for greater tricep development/engagement). There’s lots of information out there on how to use resistance bands to reach your goals, all it takes is some researching.

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HOT TOPIC – VEGAN BODYBUILDING

Often, when people think of strength training and nutrition, your mind wanders to one word in particular – protein. And what’s typically known as the most effective way to get your protein in? meat. But there’s a growing lifestyle choice which is growing in popularity by the day, vegan bodybuilding.

 

We live in a world that is more health conscious and ethically correct than ever before, so it’s no surprise that more and more people are becoming vegan and loving it. But, for people that strength train, like bodybuilders and powerlifters, there’s a common misconception that you won’t get bigger or stronger without consuming animal products. Despite the fact meat may be the easiest way to hit your protein, it’s possible to get enough protein on a plant based diet, and therefore make some seriously successful gains.

 

Philip Lorimer, the president of MASS for the University of Kent, has been vegan for nearly two years and doesn’t regret his lifestyle change at all, “I’ve been lifting for about 5 years now but only became vegan in April 2015. I wish I turned vegan far sooner though. I watched a few documentaries regarding animal agriculture, and decided I didn’t want to contribute anymore. I then did more research into the health side of it and realised it was just the better option for me.”

 

 

phil lorimer vegan veganism bodybuilding

There’s a lot of information on the animal product industry now thanks to documentaries on Netflix spreading awareness and people can agree that they don’t want to contribute to animal suffering. But one of the reasons people are reluctant to give veganism a go is the idea that the diet will be difficult to stick to and restricting. Philip admits that he didn’t find it difficult to begin with and he got used to it after the first week or so, “In the beginning it wasn’t as hard as I originally has anticipated it to be, it’s a challenge like any change is, like choosing to change from being inactive to regularly is. I approached it with open arms and tried to ditch the preconceptions. Dietary wise, there’s far more to choose from than I originally thought.”

 

But the main question on any lifters mind is, ‘if you’re not eating animal products, how do you get your protein?’ Philip is confident that animal products are in no way essential to having a high protein diet, “The whole ‘you can’t get enough protein on a plant based diet’ is often thrown out by people that haven’t tried it. There’s protein in everything, I get it from potatoes, beans, legumes, greens, the lot. I collectively get 110-160g a day with ease, and this is with a calorically restricted diet whilst prepping for the SPC. If you get enough calories in you’ll hit your protein RDA (recommended daily allowance) easy.”

 

 

phil lorimer vegan bodybuilding

Philip competes in the fitness model category usually, having competed twice before, but is hoping to compete in the men’s physique category in the future. He’s currently prepping for the MASS SPC in April and shared with us some of his favourite vegan meals while on prep, “I just keep it simple when eating while on prep. But, I do make the best vegan chocolate pumpkin brownies, it’s easy, quick and tastes good – macro friendly too! I think I’m going to make chocolate chip cookies tomorrow as a refeed day is due. I’ve also had cravings for jacket potatoes so I might make sweet potato jacket potatoes with beans, lentils and sautéed veggies.”

 

From an outsider’s point of view, it’s clear to see why people overthink the process of turning vegan, especially in the fitness industry when getting enough protein is the golden rule to making progress. But, it’s clear that animal products aren’t necessary to have a great, balanced diet and lift weights. Philip hopes more people give veganism a try in future, particularly people that lift that are too scared to in case they stop making progress in the gym, “Put the misconceptions aside and approach it with open arms, do research as you go along and ask people who are vegan for advice regarding recipes etc. It’s a changed after 2 years I certainly don’t regret, it’s better for your health, the environment and the animals. You’ll never know until you give it an honest try.”

 

We wish Philip the best of luck in the upcoming MASS SPC in April.

Interview by Ellie Mason.

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Loughborough

Laurence Holt on Loughborough’s win – MASS Championship

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
University: Loughborough
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.

 

 

loughborough university

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.

 

 

loughborough

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.

 

 

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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.

 

Interview by David Bissell
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Powerlifting Meet Introductory Guide

Preparing for a powerlifting meet without having had quite a few under your belt can be a daunting experience. This will especially be the case if the meet is your first. With that in mind, this article elaborates on some of the more important things to keep in mind in two articles, both as you prepare for the meet in your training, and how to conduct yourself on game day.

Firstly, let’s look at each of the lifts in turn: squat, bench and deadlift, after a brief intro to the MASS powerlifting rules. Then we’ll look at some of the other aspects of the day such as logistics, mental and nutritional prep, and finally we’ll cover the details of choosing how much weight to attempt for each lift.

 

Introduction to lift rules

MASS will be conducting their meets under GBPF rules. As an affiliate of the IPF, the GBPF has strict book rules, but there may be slight variation due to encountering different referees, human error from the same referees, and as an introductory event, some relaxation relative to high level meets (for example, the pause on the bench command may be somewhat shorter, or more benefit of doubt may be given to squats with borderline depth, compared to say, the GBPF Nationals).

This should be no cause for panic, as long as you understand the standards required of your lifts and practice them in training to that standard. While this will be covered in the rules briefing at the meet, which you should attend anyway, the process and commands of each lift as well as common issues will be covered here.

 

The Squat

 

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The squat has 2 commands. ‘Squat’ and ‘Rack’. After you are called to the platform, you will set up under the bar and walk it out. When you are standing upright with hips and knees locked, you will then be told to squat.

After receiving that command, understand that you are not under time pressure to squat. The command merely signals that you will be allowed to start at any time after that. It’s usually after the command that you will take in your breath for the rep. Making eye contact with, nodding at or otherwise acknowledging the main referee up front may reduce the wait.

After finishing the squat, you will have to stand still momentarily to demonstrate control of the bar, only after which you will be commanded to rack. This is a common cause for failing a lift; practice this call with a training partner leading up to the meet.

When in training, always ensure that you squat to depth. This is one of the most common causes of judges failing squats. You must ensure that the hip joint at the top of the leg (which is more or less at the crease of the hip) drops below the top of your knee.

Taking videos from a direct side-on view with the video camera at between knee and hip height is the best way to evaluate your depth. Good lighting and brightly coloured clothes will help you to perceive the hip crease more easily.

 

The Bench Press

 

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The bench press has 3 commands. ‘Start’, ‘Press’ and ‘Rack’. After setting up under the bar, you will unrack the weight (or it will be lifted off for you by spotters) and hold it with elbows locked until you are given the Start command. You will bring the bar down until it touches your torso and hold steady until told to Press. After finishing the rep, you will hold the weight with elbows locked out until told to Rack.

In training, ensure you practice holding the weight at full lockout before starting and after finishing. Practice with a considerable pause. Pause length may vary slightly depending on the judge and lifter’s style of benching, but the more quickly you bring the bar to a complete halt on your chest, the shorter you can expect to wait. The IPF has a few other subtle technicalities in the bench set up you have to contend with as well, namely that your whole foot must be flat on the ground and that your head must be in contact with the bench at all times after the first command has been given. Keep that in mind when training.

 

The Deadlift

 

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The deadlift is very simple in comparison to the other two lifts. It only has the ‘Down’ command. You will approach the platform, grip the bar and stand up with the weight. The down command will be received when you have locked the weight out fully. You will then return the weight to the ground without letting the bar leave your hands.

Keep in mind that hitches (resting the bar on your thighs) and any downward motion after you start pulling in the deadlift will earn red lights. When returning the weight to the ground, you may let the weight fall freely, but the bar must clearly remain in your hands until it hits the ground.

For additional references, you may consult pages 16, 17, 18, 19 of the IPF rulebook

It may also be helpful to watch videos of lifters in the IPF and their affiliates to understand the technique and standards required. The GBPF Classic Nationals and USAPL Raw Nationals are great places to start, simply plug the comp names into YouTube…

 

Keeping your head on Game Day

Depending on the available space and the total number of lifters and spectators, the venue may be crammed and a bit chaotic, with varying finish times from late afternoon to the mid-evening or later. You may spend 6 hours or more at the meet venue, so prepare accordingly.

Handlers and Groups

Go in a group, or with at least one person who can accompany and ‘handle’ you. Ideally, you’d bring along a friend who has lifted in a meet before and knows the flow well enough to keep you out of trouble.

Even if the person is inexperienced, you stand to benefit from their assistance. They can keep an eye on your belongings, keep you updated regarding the schedule and flow of the meet (more on that later) as well as film your lifts. If they’re new, they will need to be carefully and clearly briefed beforehand (by you) to know what their responsibilities are. They will have to be adaptable, alert and perhaps more than anything, have an interest in seeing you succeed at the meet.

Schedule and Timing

There is a good reason to know the meet schedule. This is to ensure you can time your warm ups well so you begin your attempts so that you’re primed to lift with minimal fatigue, and can time other things like stopping heavy food intake.

Knowing your flight (lifting group) start time will tell you when to start warming up and stop eating heavy. You’ll want to begin your warm up at least 25-30 minutes in advance, especially on the squat. Err on a longer warm up time if you’re uncertain. It is after all, easier to slow down than speed up a warm up. Don’t be afraid to take a warm up weight more than once if you’re way ahead of schedule.

There are 2 parts to this, with the first being the flight you belong to and the next, your position within the flight. Flights are just a way of grouping lifters to keep waiting time manageable. For example, a meet with 20 lifters may be split up into 2 flights of 10 each, so we don’t wind up waiting for 20 lifts between attempts. In other cases, one may have flights in two groups (or more), with a break between the groups. [e.g. Group 1: Flight A,B – break for 2 hours Group 2: Flight B,C]

Let’s consider the meet set up at different ‘zoom’ levels.

Using myself as an example (my name is Dan Chin), let’s consider that I know I’m 4th to squat in Flight B and I have the following ROUGH information (don’t take these as exact examples, in reality we may have 3 flights in a group or larger flights to give a longer break between each different lift).

  • Group 1 (Flights A,B): 1300 start
  • Break for 2 hours
  • Group 2 (Flights C,D): 1800 start
  • Flight A: 1300 start
  • Flight B: 1330 start

Meet sequence (Time-Flight):

  • 1300-Flight A squat
  • 1330-Flight B squat
  • 1400-Flight A bench
  • 1430-Flight B bench
  • 1500-Flight A deadlift
  • 1530-Flight B deadlift

The first thing I’ll do is to stop heavy eating by about 1200. From there, only snacking and drinking. I’ll also start to warm up by 1250-1300 to secure a place in the warm up room as well as allow for extra time when working between others’ warm ups.

Next, I take a look at the schedule for the individual lifters.

 

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You can see here the schedule of each individual lifter in his flight. I’m 4th to lift in Flight B, which begins squatting after Flight A finishes. Since I’ll prefer to have between 7-10 minutes rest between my last warm up and my opener, I work by counting the names that come before mine, starting with Patrick Fixler. I hit the 9th name when I count Maxwell Ha. With about 1 minute for a lifter to finish, I plan to hit my last warm up single when Maxwell takes his 3rd attempt squat (in reality, getting it in roughly when Flight A is about halfway done with their 3rd attempts will be good enough). If I work further backward, I know that my penultimate warm up should be done as Flight A rounds up their 2nd attempts.

As you can tell, it does seem like a lot to take care of. However, if you have help, it becomes much less difficult to keep track of what stage the meet has reached at any point. In some cases, the progress of the meet is tracked on a large LCD screen or a projector. You can watch the spreadsheet changes to see where things are at.

If you are the first flight in the group, things will usually start on time and will not be subject to the variation that comes with waiting for the previous flight. Just count the number of lifters the will lift before you in your flight, keep an eye on the clock and hit the last warm up when you want it.

 

Food and Supplements

 

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Come equipped with food. Make sure it’s familiar, ideally something you can eat before a normal training session without any issues. Whether it’s whole food or candy doesn’t matter, but it must keep you fuelled without causing gastrointestinal distress. Supplementing with protein and carbohydrate powders may be a great idea, especially if you’re hungry right before a lift or eating food right after.

While you should take advantage of ergogenic aids like pre-workouts or stimulants, I will warn against going all out on stimulants until the deadlifts. If you burn out an hour before it’s time to pull because you got hopped up on 4 scoops for your first squat 4 hours before your deadlifts, you’re going to have a bad time finishing up. Scale back slightly the consumption of anything like stims and sugar that may cause a crash in energy levels if this applies to you until the deadlifts begin. A non-stim pre-workout may be very helpful here.

For good reason, this section does not discuss anything related to glycogen or water levels carb depletion or water cutting to make a weight class. As a novice, this should not be under consideration.

Introduction to Matt Gary’s attempt selection process

 

Matt Gary

The approach I recommend on attempt selection is based on Matt Gary’s approach. As a consequence, the following closely paraphrases articles that he has written, which you may look up on the net to verify.

Matt Gary is the owner of SSPT, a USAPL Platinum training facility in Rockville, Maryland. He has trained numerous lifters, including those who have reached USAPL Nationals and IPF Worlds meets. Matt is, however, perhaps even more well-known for his platform coaching and handling skills, which means that he often is involved in handling the US national team at IPF international meets. He employs this very system of attempt selection in the field, to great success. However, in addition to having a good system backing him up, Matt’s skill and experience often enables him to call in 3rd attempts that leave less than 2.5kg left in the tank when he needs to.

To get right down into the nuts and bolts, attempt selection should be something that’s well thought out advance and based on reliable and recent data. Good attempt selection will prioritize ensuring that you don’t bomb out, or take what you have on the day before even considering PR’s.

You should aim to hit a minimum of 6 lifts in the meet. Keep that in mind and be prudent in picking the first 2 attempts, taking reasonable risks on the 3rd.

 

The First Attempt

Your 1st attempt, the opener, will be very important, especially in the squat. It sets the tone for the rest of the attempts and perhaps for the rest of the day. Open reasonably, but lighter if in doubt. The weight should be roughly 90-92% of your projected max, or 100% of your best triple with solid form.

You should be certain of getting this. It should be a weight you can take for a single under even very poor conditions within reason. Treat it like a final warm up. If you have to get psyched for this, it’s probably too heavy. Drop the weight. Likewise if you’re feeling unusually beat up. That shouldn’t happen on game day, but sometimes it does. Make a course correction.

There are few things that will bum you out more than missing an opener, and Matt Gary’s data has shown that those who miss a first attempt are likely to miss subsequent lifts. Dominate this lift and let things snowball as you build your confidence.

The Second Attempt

The 2nd attempt should be considered a springboard more than anything else. As such, it’s generally not the place to take a PR. Still, if results from training have been unusually good and your projected maxes have far surpassed old bests, then taking a PR is not out of the question. That’s something I’ve done several times without issue.

This is usually 95-98% of your projected max. I like to take a bit more than my best double. Use this to build toward the 3rd attempt, which will be the best place to take a PR. Conversely, if the first attempt felt a bit slower than expected, you should adjust expectations and scale back by aiming slightly lower, perhaps 93-96% (taking 100% of your best double is a fairly safe bet here).

The Third Attempt

The 3rd attempt will be the place to take a PR. While generally no percentage is assigned here, if everything is on track, it will be at roughly 100% of your projected max. It is often prudent to take a small increment, such as 2.5kg over your best, especially if you’re an advanced lifter and progress comes slowly, but if you’re feeling good, being aggressive is fine.

Generally, you would not want the jump from the 2nd to 3rd attempt to be larger than the 1st to 2nd attempt. On top of that, if a PR does not feel like it’s in the books, there’s certainly nothing wrong with taking a smaller jump without a PR, to add to your total. The total ultimately matters more and a PR total is still a PR.

So, in short, be reasonable in selecting your weights. Prioritize not bombing out, and building up to a larger 3rd attempt rather than going too heavy too early and losing out on building a total.

 

Applying the Maths; Course Corrections

I offer two different approaches to building your attempts. You can begin with a goal weight, or your opener. If you begin with an opener/your best triple, add 10% to get a 3rd attempt, then split the difference between 1st and 3rd, then add 1-2% to get your 2nd attempt. Conversely, if you begin with a goal weight, subtract about 10% to get the 1st, then split the difference and add 1-2% to get your 2nd.

Whichever way you start, if you suppose that you have a best triple of 190kg OR a goal weight of 210kg (using an opener of 190kg yields a goal weight of 210kg and vice-versa, so they’re equivalent), a sensible approach to writing out attempts along with a Plan B in case things feel bad, may look like the following:

  • A1: ~90% = 190kg – A2: ~96% = 202.5kg – A3: ~100% = 210kg
  • B1: ~90% = 190kg – B2: ~94% = 197.5kg – B3: ~96% = A3: 202.5kg

You can see that the absolute values correspond well to the suggested percentages from the text.

It would be a good idea to write things out on a piece of paper so you can refer when deciding between continuing aggressively and dialling back if things don’t feel right.

In order to make a good decision on modifying your opener or deciding between Plan A and B, it’s important not to overestimate how heavy the weight feels. The best indicator of how much you have in the tank is how fast the bar moves. Therefore, if time allows, you should run over to quickly peek at footage of your lift before submitting 2nd and 3rd attempts. This must be done quickly though, as you’re often asked to submit within a minute of finishing the last lift. If not, a trusted friend with lifting experience could be asked to rate the lift and give you another opinion.

As an important final note, it is almost never a good idea to increase the weight after failing an attempt for any reason. Find out why you failed and rectify it when you repeat the weight. If it’s for lack of strength, you must be nuts to think that you’re suddenly come back and kill a heavier weight after failing something lighter. For issues of technique, increasing the weight generally only makes it harder to correct an issue. As a novice lifter, it is hard to imagine a scenario where you would fail a weight and then make a heavier weight.

 

Written by Dan Chin
Edited by Shaun Howell
About the author:

Dan Chin has been training for nearly 4 years, with the last 3 years dedicated to improving the powerlifts. He is a recent addition to Reactive Training Systems’ coachee roster and holds a wilks of 350, with a meet total of 520kg and a gym total of 547.5kg in the U93kg class. He values knowledge as a tool to get more results from one’s efforts.

 

Want to get involved in MASS Powerlifting?
Click the picture below…

 

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josh bridgeman post ukbff final

Shredding light on how MASS athlete Josh Bridgman earned 2nd place at the UKBFF Finals

 

What you’re getting:

  • A sneak peek at how show day runs
  • An uncut interview with the man himself
  • The naked truth about who rubbed oil on who… (Josh bares all for our readers)
  • Exclusive access to the macros and meal plans from the start of prep to the final grind
  • Exclusive workout routines that will get you pumped to take away try

Last week, we caught up with MASS athlete Josh Bridgman just days before he stepped on stage at the UKBFF Finals. (Click here to read about his journey). With the finals under his belt and a 2nd place trophy in hand, we decided to dig a bit deeper and find out everything you want to know about what it’s really like to be a top-level competitor…

 

Show day

6am: Wake up and check body (I was too bloated from overeating and very, very soft)

6:15am: Shower and scrub body one last time.

6:30am: Start drinking lots and lots of water to remove the bloating I had.

7am: Leave Loughborough to get to Nottingham for my tan at 8:30am.

7:45am: Arrive in Nottingham, Still drinking lots and lots of water.

8am: Registration for UKBFF Finals.

8:30am: Tanning appointment.

9am: Walk up and down stairs 10 times to keep heart rate up and try and flush the water and salt out of my body (still drinking lots of water)

10am: Show starts, still panicking about being bloated, still drinking water and haven’t eaten.

10:30am: Stop drinking and realise what’s done is done.

11am: Put my Shorts on I will be wearing on stage.

11:30am: Go down to the pump up area, plan through how I will pose one more time and my t-walk.

12am: Start pumping up.

12:15-12:20pm: On stage for the competitors to be cut down to the top 15. (call outs)

12:45pm: Final 15 Announced and back on stage for quarter turns and more call outs

1pm: Final 15 cut down to top 6.

1:30pm: Top 6 do T-walks and have comparisons

1:45pm: Top 6 are given the position they came.

2pm: Junior physique completed and all done!

 

 

ukbff junior physique finals 2015 josh bridgeman

How did you feel the day before the finals?

I was nervous, but very excited to eat my carbs and fill my muscles out the night before show day!!

What was your peak week strategy and how did it affect the package your brought to the stage?

I actually changed nothing, I felt I was lean enough already and only needed to fill out with a nice meal the night before, so no changes in water, food or salt anything like that!

Tell us a bit about your grooming and tanning routine…

Well 5 days out, I started scrubbing down, keeping my skin as smooth as possible to make sure the tan sticks well to me and it didn’t end up uneven. 2 Days out I completely shaved my body down (yes everything, haha) And then the night before just went over any bits of hair I missed or anything that had grown back. I woke up nice and early on game day and had my tan at 8:30am on the day of the competition!

Who came with you to the competition?

I was so so lucky to have a few people there, most importantly, my mum and girlfriend were there. I also had a lot of friends from University there! 2 people flying over from the middle east to watch and friends coming up from London and Stroud to come and watch! Couldn’t believe the support!

What was the atmosphere like backstage?

Tense, everyone was nervous and we could all feel it, everyone sizing each other up and pretending like we weren’t doing that!! But we all got on well and i definitely made some new friends.

How did it feel to be up on stage?

Incredible. The screaming crowd, Seeing my friends and family shouting my name and having all the hard work come to reality at that moment. Adrenaline was pumping, heart rate was flying. But what a feeling!!

 

 

ukbff junior physique finals 2015 josh bridgeman

Did your posing go to plan?

I feel my posing could of been better, but I nailed my T-walk in my opinion. Just need to sort my quarter turns out and overall presence on stage.

At what point did you realize you would be among the top placings?

When they called the top 6, I already could not believe it!! I went there for top 5, so when they called 6th out and it wasn’t me, my smile got bigger, and bigger, and bigger with each placing they announced. I really could not believe I got 2nd in the end! Especially with all the talent on show.

3 words to describe your feelings at coming 2nd in the finals:

Surprised, happy and overwhelmed, in that order.

What did you indulge in after the show?

I went to TGIS with my family and friends. It was more about the company than the food, but when the server asked if I was hungry when I ordered the biggest burger, he knew from the look I gave him that I was ready to put it down! Also my mum made a Nutella, Oreo and hazelnut cheesecake which went down very quickly that night!

Have the post-show blues hit in or are you still on an absolute high?

I am still flying high! Though a little bloated from the food, excited to bring a better package to the Amateur Olympia I qualified for on the 31st of October!

 

10 things we really want to know but have always been too polite to ask, about what really goes on backstage…

 

1. Most outrageous thing you saw someone eat backstage:

I saw people drinking honey, heaps of peanut butter and the smell of vodka was in the air!!

2. Amount of time spent thinking about the bikini girls:

Zero, because I have a girlfriend and she is the only girl I think about! hahaha

3. Percentage of guys who brought their Mums along:

Definitely over 90% – I saw a lot of guys running in their mums arms afterwards, then again so did I!

4. Biggest ego award goes to…

I wouldn’t want to point one person out, but I definitely got knocked out the way by a few big heads!

5. Average number of selfies per competitor:

At least 5 per competitor, check instagram!

6. Do people share their cheat food?

Yes!!! I couldn’t believe the amount of people that offered a lot of their own food!

7. Anyone shed a tear as they came off stage?

A few of the bikini girls who didn’t do well, and also some who did very well!

8. Is there a risk of smudging your tan with toilet paper? (You know what we’re getting at…)

Yes. That is all.

9. Who rubs oil onto who?

Tanning ladies onto everyone! Although a few guys made some new friendships through oiling each other haha…

10. How many more Facebook/Instagram/Twitter followers did you acquire?

I had around 50 or so I think! Mainly on my Youtube channel which was great! (Josh Bridgman Fitness)

Josh’s Diet

Week 1 2820kcal Final week 2250kcals
Breakfast: 629Kcals

3 Rashers of bacon – 174kcals

Oranic multigrain bread – 220kcals

160g eggs: 235kcals

 

 

Lunch: 711

300g chicken breast – 306kcals

90g basmati rice: 316kcals

10g Coconut oil: 89kcals

 

 

Dinner: 1470kcals:

10g Coconut oil – 89kcals

3 Healthy living wraps – 546Kcals

350g 15% fat mince – 658Kcals

100g Greek Yoghurt – 57kcals

30g Cheddar cheese – 120kcals

 

Breakfast: 555Kcals

50g oats – 195kcals

203g eggs – 298Kcals

200ml Almond milk – 29 kcal

10g Honey – 33kcals

 

 

Lunch: 588Kcals

300g Sweet pot – 258kcals

200g Chicken – 204kcals

100g green beans – 29kcals

8g coconut oil – 72kcals

 

 

Dinner: 613Kcals

200g 10% Fat mince – 412kcals

50g white rice – 176kcals

100g asparagus – 32kcals

 

 

Snacks: 611kcals

3 kalo low fat rice cakes – 87kcals

30g peanut butter – 188kcals

120g Banana – 126kcals

100g Greek yoghurt -96kcals

5g Honey – 18Kcals

 

 

 Josh’s Training Plan

Upper body workout

Bench press – 5 sets 8 reps

superset with

Bent over row – 5 sets 12 reps

Incline flies – 5 sets 15 reps

superset with

Lat pulldowns 5 sets 8 reps

DB Shoulder press – 5 sets 12 reps

super set with

Lateral Raises – 5 sets 10 reps

Rope pull downs – 5 sets 10 reps

Super set

Straight bar curls 5 sets 10 reps

30-60 Seconds rest between sets, very intense and good volume work.

 

Lower body workout

Squats – 5 sets 5 reps

Hack squat – 4 sets 12 reps

Extensions- 5 sets 10 reps

superset with

Leg curls – 5 sets 10 reps

Leg press – 4 sets 20 reps

21’s wide/narrow/normal stance squat – 3 sets of 7/7/7

30-60 second rest on each of these.

Final 2 reps a spotter is used, so failure nearly every set.

 

Josh Bridgeman
MASS SPC 2015 Champion
Facebook Josh Bridgeman Fitness
Instagram @joshbridgman
Twitter @Joshbridgman2
YouTube Josh Bridgeman Fitness

 Interview by Emma Pudge

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Zanna interview

Girl Gains with Zanna Van Dijk – Sheffield University Graduate

Zanna Van Dijk is a Personal Trainer, PhD Nutrition and Bodypower Expo sponsored athlete, author of two ‘guilt-free treats’ ebooks, fitness model, blogger and creator of #girlgains, a social media revolution inspiring girls to become fitter, healthier and happier. But with a first class degree under her belt, Zanna is as accomplished in the classroom as she is in the weights room. We catch up with Zanna to find out her secrets to success at university, in the gym and out in the industry…

 

Tell us a bit about yourself…

Okey dokey. Hey, I am Zanna. I am a 22 year old (almost 23, eek!) personal trainer, fitness model and blogger. I live in London but I am originally from `Yorkshire. I went to the university of Sheffield and studied speech science, and graduated with a first class degree. I was a fully qualified speech and language therapist ready to enter the working world. Then I went travelling, realised that I needed to follow my passion, and moved into fitness. I did my PT course, moved to London and the rest is history really!

 

Where did your journey into health and fitness begin?

It began while I was at university. My degree was four years long and two years into it I decided to make changes to benefit my health. I was what I describe as “skinny fat” meaning I was slim but unhealthy – I ate poorly and didn’t exercise. I started to slowly move more and eat more nutritious foods. It was a gradual change over the course of months and years but it turned into a hobby, and then a passion.

 

How did your university experience shape the way you approach fitness in your own life or with clients?

It taught me the importance of balance. University is a very social time in your life. You’re surrounding by friends and going out a lot for meals, drinks and sometimes a cheeky party or two. As a result I encourage my clients (and myself) to maintain a balance in life. I use the 80/20 rule – I eat healthy and train hard 80% of the time and I indulge and relax 20% of the time. I also make sure that I am flexible in my approach to eating so I can enjoy meals out and social occasions with friends.

 

Zanna van Dijk

What do you see as some of the biggest obstacles to healthy living at university, and how do you think students can overcome them?

The biggest one is peer pressure. At uni it is often deemed as “cool” to go out, get drunk and eat takeaways. When I personally made changes to my lifestyle, I got a fair amount of criticism. However, just stick to your guns and realise that you’re doing this for you, not for anyone else or their approval. Another issue is budget but I found that ordering my meat online in bulk (I used musclefood) helped reduce my outgoings, and so did buying fresh veggies from the local greengrocer rather than a supermarket. In the end you have to prioritise health – you would happily spend £30 on a night out so why not spend that on a bunch of nutritious veggies and fruit for the week?

 

We know that you’re a proponent of IIFYM – do you feel this strategy is well suited to university or would you recommend a different dietary strategy for students?

I personally use IIFYM but I will never prescribe this or any specific dietary approach to everyone/students as a whole. You need to find what works for you. Sure IIFYM works for me but I have a few friends who I know hate tracking macros, so it wouldn’t work for them. Educate yourself on various approaches. Test them out and use trial and error. It is a learning curve.

 

Do you think you need a background in sports science / dietetics etc to be successful in the fitness industry?

Nope. Obviously it is going benefit you greatly and mean that you have the knowledge to be an incredible person in the fitness industry. Education is highly valuable and by having a degree in a relevant field you will already be leaps and bounds ahead of many people in the industry. However, it is not 100% necessary. For example personal trainers can do an independent course and then continue on to do  further education through more courses. These are often separate from university and they do not require a degree. Also -the fitness industry relies heavily on personality, charisma and enthusiasm which are things you cannot learn from a degree. Knowledge is power, but knowledge is useless unless you can apply it and make it relevant and accessible to your clients.

 

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Where do you see the fitness industry heading?

I think that it is really hard to tell where the industry is going to go. It is always developing and changing. I definitely see even more of a lean towards digital and technology based fitness like apps and online coaching. However, I don’t think that good old face to face personal training will ever die as it is so effective, personal and fun.

 

We’ve heard fantastic things about the Girl Gains movement – can you tell us more about this?

I recently wrote a whole blogpost about what #girlgains is (see here) but I can describe it in a nutshell. It is a movement started by myself and my two best friends. We are all personal trainers but all come from very different academic and fitness backgrounds. We have different stories to share and advice to give. We created a community called #girlgains which started as a hashtag and expanded into events which bring together hundreds of girls, as well as products like leggings and smoothies, The sole purpose of #girlgains is to unite women from all over the world and to inspire them to become fitter, healthier and happier.

 

Girl Gains puts a major emphasis on boosting self esteem and self acceptance – do you think the fitness industry holds unhealthy or unattainable standards?

Yes and No. In the fitness industry there are people who are open, honest, unfiltered and relatable. There are also those who are edited, perfected and unrealistic. The problem comes when people compare themselves to these individuals. Social media in the fitness industry NEEDS to be taken with a pinch of salt. Everyone chooses the most flattering picture, everyone posts the prettiest healthiest food. We all try to look our best as it is in our nature, but we all need to realise that everyone else is doing the same. The best thing is to “stop comparing your behind the scenes to everyone else highlight reel”. You do you.

 

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With more and more health and fitness professionals offering their services, it can be difficult to find the right person to work with. What are the characteristics of a great coach or personal trainer?

There are two key components to a great coach: knowledge and personality. Look for someone who has qualifications and continues to learn through further study. If you have specific goals e.g. strength gains or running a marathon, then find a coach who specialises in this area. However, knowledge is not everything. A trainer needs to have a bubbly and infectious personality. They need to be able to motivate and inspire you. They need to make you feel comfortable.

The best thing to do is to book in a one off session with a trainer to try them out and get a feel for them before you move forward and book more sessions. You will either click with them or not.

 

What kind of clients do you work with?

Everyone! I work with middle aged men with mobility issues, young girls looking to learn the basics, busy business women and everything in-between. By far my biggest client group is women aged 18-35 who are looking to get fitter and stronger. I specialise in introducing girls to lifting weights in an unintimidating way and pushing them to make #girlgains of their own.

 

If you were now able to give one piece of advice to your university-self, what would that be?

Relax!!! I was so stressed at uni as I set such high academic expectations of myself. I thought that I had to work 12 hours a day to get a first. In reality, in my final year of uni when I started to get out more, study less and find a balance of work and social life- that’s when I got my highest marks. Uni is for studying but also for socialising. It is for enjoyment not just work.

 

Zanna van Dijk
Instagram @zannavandijk
Facebook Zanna van Dijk
Twitter @zannavandijk
www.zannavandijk.co.uk

 

Interview by Emma Pudge

 

 

My favourite body part is my back I don’t think that there is anything wrong with being proud of your body I have made huge progress with it recently – especially since I started doing lots and lots of pull ups thanks to my strength coach @awillis1515. The width of my back has massively improved – to the point where I don’t fit into old t shirts and tops Pull ups are my ultimate favourite exercise. Ever. Seriously. (The guys at @thelomaxway always comment on how ridiculously often I do them!). I get all my clients working on their pull ups as they’re an amazing upper body and core exercise. If you want me to train you and help you work towards doing your first pull up then drop me an email: zannavandijk@gmail.com Wearing @activeinstyle top and @heyjolondon leggings #girlgains

A photo posted by Zanna van Dijk (@zannavandijk) on

Untensed vs tensed Women think that lifting weights will make them look manly. Well, I've been lifting for a couple of years now and sometimes I look in the mirror and think "do I even lift?" When I'm not tensing I just look like an average girl and I certainly don't look "bulky". Girls – please don't be afraid to pick up some challenging weights. It's the best way to sculpt your body and "tone up" (I dislike that term!). Plus you'll feel like a total badass as you get stronger If you're London based want me to train you and show you how to lift weights, then drop me an email: zannavandijk@gmail.com P.s. Excuse the undies as these were progress pictures just meant for my coach and my bra is from @activeinstyle #girlgains

A photo posted by Zanna van Dijk (@zannavandijk) on

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instagramforfitness

#Fitsagram – Instagram for Fitness

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.

So exactly who are these leading fitness gurus?

 

#WCW women crush wednesdays

 

The Superstar Booty: @jenselter

 

 

Jen Selter, 20, New York 2,450,000 followers

“I don’t really post a lot of face pictures. I mainly do body selfies,”

 

 

The Personal Trainer: @nataliejillfit

 

 

Natalie Jill, 42, San Diego 320,000 followers

“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 yogi: @yoga_girl

 

 

Rachel Brathen, 25, Aruba 630,000 followers

“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.”

 

 

The celebrity trainer: @mankofit

 

 

mankofitMassiel Arias, 25, New Jersey 1,045,000 followers

“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 ballerina: @balletbeautiful

 

 

ballerina

Mary Bowers, 33, New York 110,000 followers

“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.”

 

 

#MCM Man Crush Mondays

 

The superstar body: @kyleclarke

 

 

kyleclark

Kyle Clark, 27,  Los Angeles 67,000 followers

“When you focus on problems, you’ll have more problems. When you focus on possibilities, you’ll have more opportunities”

 

 

The personal trainer: @lazar_angelov_official

 

 

lazar

Lazar Angelov, 31, Bulgaria 1.4m followers

“I want to inspire people, I want someone to look at me and say, because of you I didn’t give up”

 

 

The yogi: @carsonclaycalhoun

 

 

carson

Carson Calhoun, 35, Arlington 88,900 followers

“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”

 

 

The celebrity trainer: @therock

 

 

therock

Dwayne Johnson, 42, California 8.4m followers

“Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work gains success. Greatness will come”

 

The ballerino: @marcodalia

 

 

ballerino

Marco Dalia, 23, Italy 1483 followers

“Dance everywhere”

 

 

My Personal Favourite @kayla_itsines

 

 

kayla

Kayla Itsines, 23, Adelaide 2.4m followers

“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?
  • @Marksmellybell for powerlifting motivations and advices.
  • @thebodymass for general student fitness activity log.
  • @Stevecook_32  for its unique approach to motivation and the preach to balance different goals and aspects in life.
  • @Dangreenpowerlifter for the ‘animal’ side of powerlifting. helpful in learning the mindset of a champion.
  • @Nikkiblackketter for her persona and physique.

 

Rumina Awal
Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies student
Cardiff University

 

 

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usnhyperdrive

USN Pre-Workout Comparison

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

 

usnhyperdrive

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.

In the below chart we look at a comparison between USN Hyperdrive N.O, BSN N.O.Explode, MyProtein Pulse V4 and BPI Vortex.

 

Hyperdrive comparion chart

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.

 

BCAA Amino-Gro

 

BCAA AMINO-GRO_306g_FRUIT FUSION_new

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.

In the below chart we look at a comparison between USN BCAA Amino-Gro, ON Amino Energy, MP Assault, MyProtein Pulse V4 and BSN AminoX.

‘-‘ means 0g, ‘?’ means the ingredient is included but its quantity is not stated (some of these have been estimated)

 

 

Amino-gro comparison chart

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.”

 

Shaun Howell
Phd Student
Cardiff Club President, StudyFit ‘Eye on Science’ columnist, CrossFit and Strength Expert

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joshleader

Interview with shredded student Josh Leader

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?

3.5 years

 

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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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

 

 

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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.

 

 

back

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.

 

Five foods we would find in your kitchen:

Cod, rice, oats, supplements, broccoli

 

Josh Leader
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flexibledieting

Weight Loss through Flexible Dieting – Daniel Olusina

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.

 

 

danielolusina

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.

 

Caloric Deficit

  • 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.

 

 

danielolusina1

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!

 

Daniel Olusina
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press up

Push Up, Or Shut Up!

Reinventing the push up into a viable bench press alternative.

 

You love to bench press. Everyone does. It’s a simple move, you can load up big weights on it, and it trains major muscles you love to see in the mirror. However, the bench press isn’t always the safest option. If you don’t have a spotter, it can be dangerous to overload yourself to a point where you might fail a rep and need the bar lifted off you. Furthermore, excessive bench press in your training can lead to a whole host of shoulder issues. Sometimes, when training your chest and triceps, it can be useful to revert back to the bench presses little brother; the PE teachers favourite; the push up.

You probably left the push up behind as soon as you discovered the bench press. You now probably view it as a warm up exercise, cranking out a few sets of 10 before you start your chest day. However, by a few simple tweaks shown in the exercises below, we can amp up the intensity of push ups so you can get great upper body results without even touching a weight.

Before you try some of the more intense and advanced push up variations, here are some key coaching points to make sure you’ve mastered the ordinary push up.

 

  • Make sure your hands are placed directly below your shoulders to ensure you’re stressing the correct muscles.
  • Keep your elbows tucked to your sides. Flared elbows are one of the most common mistakes when performing a push up. To help you keep tucked elbows, imagine you are trying to grip a business card in-between your arm pits.
  • Maintain a straight and rigid body. A rigid body during a press up involves straight legs, hips not sagging and a neutral spine position. To help with this, tense your glutes and core as well as pressing your legs and feet tight together before starting to complete your push ups.
  • Get low enough. Lowering yourself to the correct position in a push up ensures you work your muscles through a full range of motion. Lower yourself til your face is 2 to 3 inches off the ground then push away again.

 

Regular push up - start-finish position

Regular push up – start-finish position

Regular push up - mid position

Regular push up – mid position

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you can perform a good set of 20-25 push ups following the coaching points above, it’s time to attempt some more advanced versions of the push up. Caution! Huge pecs and massive triceps may result from completion of these exercises.

 

Staggered push up

Set up: Set yourself up for a normal push up; hands below shoulders, core braced, elbows tucked. Now, take one hand and move it forward until it is below your eye line. Your hands are now in the staggered position.

Execution: Lower yourself as normal, then focus on driving through your hand that is still below your shoulder on the up phase. Use your more forward hand as a support. When you’re done, take a short rest, switch which hand is forward, and repeat.

 

Staggered push up - start-finish position

Staggered push up – start-finish position

Staggered push up - mid position

Staggered push up – mid position

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This move increases the intensity on one pectoral at a time, by increasing the work each side does during one rep. It is a good first move to attempt after mastering the regular push up. Aim for 15 – 20 reps each side before attempting archer push ups.

 

Archer push up

Set up: Again, set yourself up for a normal push up; hands below shoulders, core braced, elbows tucked. This time take one hand and extend it out to the side of your body. Raise your extended hand off the palm onto just the fingers and make sure that arm is straight. Imagine looking down on your body and you should see an image similar to an archer with his bow. Your extended hand is ‘drawing the arrow’ while the hand still under the shoulder is ‘holding the bow’.

Execution: Similar to the staggered push up, focus on driving through the hand still under your shoulder. Your extended arm should bend slightly as you lower to the bottom point of the push up. Switch sides again and repeat.

 

Archer push up - mid position

Archer push up – mid position

Archer push up - start-finish position

Archer push up – start-finish position

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The archer push up is very similar to the staggered push up in that it isolates the work onto one side of your upper body. However, by moving the non-working arm laterally and further away from the body’s midline, the support is reduced, so the intensity placed on the working arm is further increased. Aim for 10 reps each side before moving on.

 

Lateral push ups

Set up: Slightly different to the others, you start lateral push ups with both arms extended laterally away from the body. If you looked down on your body, it would resemble a cross. You can keep your fingers facing forwards, or point them out laterally too; whichever is most comfortable for you.

Execution: Lower yourself down towards your left hand. You should be moving diagonally downwards, trying to get your left pec as close as you can too your left hand. Drive back up and away so your body becomes central again. Immediately repeat to your right side.

 

Lateral push up - mid position

Lateral push up – mid position

Lateral push up - start-finish position

Lateral push up – start-finish position

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This exercise provides a more dynamic version of the archer push up, and the different movement pattern makes it a difficult move to master. Aim to hit 16-20 reps before attempting the daddy of all push ups; the one arm push up.

 

Conculsion

It is hard to let go of the staple upper body exercise of the bench press. Most of us are comfortable and feel at home with a bar above our chest, but you can achieve similar results, in a safer and equally as challenging environment with the push ups shown above. And as if this article hasn’t already done enough to convince you to try some advanced push ups in your next upper body workout, always remember that push ups work your core at the same time as your pecs and triceps.

 

Mark Harvey
Loughborough University
BSc Sports and Exercise Science

 

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Insulin – The Muscle Building Hormone

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

Promotes
  • Glucose uptake across the cell membrane
  • Glycogenesis (Glycogen synthesis)
  • Amino acid uptake
  • Protein synthesis
Inhibits
  • 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

 

z274Your 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.

 

 

7 Ways to Achieve Greater Insulin Sensitivity

 

  1. Resistance training
  2. Cardiovascular training
  3. Low carbohydrate/ High fat nutrition
  4. Manipulating carbohydrate levels over time e.g. Carbohydrate cycling
  5. Eat plenty of Omega 3 fatty acids (found in oily fish and nuts)
  6. 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.
  7. 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).

 

Justin Bland
University of Leeds
BSc (hons) Sport and Exercise Sciences with Physiology
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spcqualifiers

The 2015 MASS Student Physique Championship qualifiers

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.

 

 

LEICESTERemily      LEICESTERfeyi

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”

 

 

SPCsouthern      SOUTHERNbikini            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!”

 

 

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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!

 

By Britta Zeltmann
Cardiff University

 

Links
Midlands Scoresheet
Southern Scoresheet
Finals Scoresheet
Competition Page

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strongman

MASS’s Strongest Man 2015

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.

 

strongman Geoff

 

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.

 

 

catherine

 

From the males, Zib Atkins blazed 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.

 

 

strongmanjazeer

 

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!

 

Words by Shaun Howell

Links
Scoresheet
Competition Page
Event Photos

 

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Green Tea – A Natural Fat Burning Supplement

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?

 

greentea

 

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.

 

 

David_bissell_bike_4_low_res

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 beegcg 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?

 

Brandon Tiller
Facebook Brandon Tiller Fitness
YouTube Professor Muscle
Instagram @brandontillerfitness
Twitter @btillerfitness

 

 

 

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powerliftingmax

MASS Powerlifting National Championship Report

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.

 

 

NATIONALSsquat NATIONALSbench

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 240kg pull. 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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

PL

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.

Links
Scoresheet
Competition Page
Event Photos

 

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Carb Cycling Explained – Justin Bland

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.

 

 

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Examples

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.

 

 

Justinbland

Progression

When results start to slow down you can tweak your plan to help revive progression. Ways to progress carbohydrate cycling…

  1. change the amount and order of low/medium/high days you do
  2. change the amount of carbohydrates you eat on low/medium/high days depending on your goals
  3. 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.

 

Justin Bland
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Student Throwdown Champion – Bethany Lord

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!”

 

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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.”

 

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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

Cindy
  • 5 Pull-ups
  • 10 Push-ups
  • 15 Squats

*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.”

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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!”

Bethany Lord
Twitter @BethanyLord
Instagram @BethanyLord_

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
Twitter: @ST2K15

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Student Transformation – Rachael Tordoff

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.”

 

MASS_RachelTordoff

“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!”

 

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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.
Rachael Tordoff
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owenhubbard

Bench Press World Record Holder – Owen Hubbard

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.”

 

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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!”

 

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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.”

 

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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)
  • Tuesday – Assistance Bench
  • Barbell floor press – 5 sets x 5 reps
  • Overhead press – 5 sets x 5 reps
  • Weighted dips – 5 sets x 5 reps
  • Bench press (speed work) – 10 sets x 3 reps (explosive)
  • Abdominal roll outs – 3 sets x 10 reps
  • 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.

Owen’s titles
  • 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
Owen Hubbard
www.owenhubbardfitness.com
Twitter – @Hubbardfitness
Facebook – Owen Hubbard Strength and Fitness
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Ask The Academic: Martin MacDonald on Fresher Problems

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.

Question:

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?

Answer:

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.

Question:

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?

Answer:

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.

Question:

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?

Answer:

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.

By Martin MacDonald
www.martin-macdonald.com / www.mac-nutrition.com
Twitter @MartinNutrition
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