No better time than January to get yourself in gear and to start preparing that summer body for 'Marbs', 'Beefa' or 'Sants'! ;)
You've got the new gym membership sorted, so why not look the part this year too? BoohooMAN are excited to be launchng their first ever Activewear Collection and I'm really impressed with the range!
Each piece from the extensive range of Hoodies, Tees, tracksuits and shorts are designed to be both sustainable and durable. The fuctional materials are combined with modern design details including waterproof zips, breathable fabrics and technical fits. The range is delivered in a cool monochrome colour pallette made up of grey, blacks and whites with hints of acid yellow adding the occasional pop of colour.
Here I'm wearing the 'Skinny Fit Active Hooded Gym Tracksuit', available for £40.00. Check out the full range on the website now www.boohooman.com/mens/activewear
I'd like to thank you all so much for all your questions and general interest regarding all things fitness, my training schedule, nutritional advise and if I stick to any specific diet plans etc - I have tried to reply to as many of you individually as I can, but it's getting more and more difficult - so I'm going to try and put a few things you've asked about in this blog.
I'd like to state at this point that I do not consider myself a 'Fitness' or 'Personal. Training' expert as such- I'm just trying to share some of the things that have worked for me in response to your questions. My degree is in Sports Science and I do have my PT qualifications, but still - I don't feel I have ever really studied the latest innovations in training, so I repeat - these are just a couple of things that have worked for me. PT's feel free to jump in with any feedback!
At the start of the year I decided to mix a few things up in regards to my training. Im 36 years old now (how's that happened?), and if I'm honest with myself I could feel a few niggling injuries beginning to set in, lets face it, if I'd been a professional athlete, or a footballer, I'd be way past my best now, and more than likely a retired one. I had mild tendonitis in both of my forearms, and a really sore impingement of my rotator cuff in my left shoulder. Both of these injuries were aggravated whenever I tried to lift heavier weights, to the point that it was really beginning to affect any enjoyment I was getting from training. I had physio to try to counter the pain and although it helped initially, I found that after a heavy session or two I was quickly back to square one. I felt like I was slightly 'top heavy' particularly bearing in mind some of the more commercial photographic jobs I'd missed out on last year, and I wanted to feel more functionally fit, less 'slugish' and lighter on my feet.
The major thing I changed up in regards to training this year was to massively reduce the weight I was lifting, instead deciding to focus on the 'muscle time under tension' of each exercise I performed. After some research I found that this way of training can help to massively reduce the stress on ligaments, tendons and joints alike. I practically halved the weight I was lifting and instead performed an extremely slow 'negative' movement (when the target muscles are contracting eccentrically), followed by a slow half repetition, followed by a more explosive 'positive' movement (when the target muscles move concentrically). Put much more simply - when performing a simple Bench Press - when lowering the bar toward your chest do so in an overly controlled, slow mannor, dragging the movement out to about 8-10 seconds, followed by a slow half rep, before returning the bar more explosively to the starting position. Trust me, if you keep your technique as tight as possible, this is not easy - you will hit failure after 6-8 reps! I have kept this technique up across the majority of exercises I do in the gym be it Dead lifts, Squats, Lateral Pull Down's or Shoulder Presses. Try it and let me know what you think!
I always try to keep my gym sessions short and intense, in almost a HIIT format (High Intensity Interval Training) with limited recovery time. My sessions typically last no more than 45 mins to an hour, but I always feel like I've trained hard. In my opinion, if you are in the gym for two hours or more - you're doing something wrong.
I found that by starting to train this way my injuries have really started to ease, and I feel a lot more functionally fit. My heart rate is raised sufficiently during every session and I find it much more enjoyable than pounding a treadmill or bike.
The second biggest thing I've changed up this year was after venturing outside of my comfort zone and trying Yoga practices for the first time. I can honestly say I absolutely LOVE IT and look forward to every session. I do hot studio yoga two to three times per week, which is basically in a 35-40 degree heated studio, and I've found it has been amazing for my flexibility (which is an area of fitness most of us are guilty of neglecting), easing my injuries further, and it is improving my core strength massively. I challenge you to find your nearest studio and take on a 'Dynamic Vinyasa' class.... believe me, by the end you'll probably be totally re-assesing just how fit you thought you were! Its also fantastic for the mind and has helped me hugely in dealing with lifes everyday stresses.
Finally, in regards to nutrition it really is, for me, a case of 20% what you do in the gym, 80% what you do in the kitchen! I don't follow a diet plan as such or 'calorie count', however I am careful particularly at my age not to over eat complex carbohydrates - pasta, rice, cereal etc. I do think a lot of it is to do with genetics, but these things generally leave me feeling bloated and sluggish. Try substituting Noodles for 'Butternut squash Boodles', or spaghetti for 'Courgetti' just a couple of the 'low carb' alternatives I've found recently in all the supermarkets! (pictured). Ive also found Ive dropped some pounds in the last few weeks just by swapping a large bowl of porridge for a Nutra-bullet style shake every morning, which usually includes; spinach, broccoli, half an avocado, a handful of almonds, a spoonful of peanut butter, coconut water, cinnamon, and a scoop of protein powder - Nutramino obviously!
Like I wanted to state clearly at the beginning of the blog, these are just a couple of things I've changed this year that have worked for me. I'd love to hear your feedback and any areas you've tweaked or changed in your training or diet this year. Please comment below or on the instagram comments as usual.
Fantastic to see my sponsors Nutramino as one of the main sponsors of this years Spartan Race - the Worlds leading obstacle race! Everything kicks off this weekend (8th April) at the South East Sprint Event! Im going to be there with the Nutramino team at every event, so I look forward to seeing you all there - make sure you come and say hello!
As part of the build up I have been asked to provide some nutritional preparation tips to ensure best performance and more importantly, that you enjoy the day, so I wanted to share this with you below;
Whether your an experienced competitor or whether this is your first ever race, your nutritional preparation before, during and afterwards can play a vital part in your overall enjoyment of the event.
The evening before the race, make sure your meal is made up mainly of complex carbohydrates ie. Pasta, rice or potatoes. A good protein source like chicken breast is advised in addition also, you can supplement this with a good lean protein shake such as Nutramino Lean Protein – 25g of protein and low in calories. Do not overeat or 'carb load' at this point as this is only likely to sit heavy and make you feel sluggish on the day. Ensure your body is well hydrated – avoid alcohol as this will only deplete muscle glycogen and de-hydrate the body.
On the day itself enjoy your breakfast at least 3 hours before the race start time. This should be made up again of carbohydrates, slow burning ones are ideal, such as Porridge with honey, whole wheat toast with jam, or fruit and yogurt. These will help to keep the levels of glycogen in your muscles high essentially allowing you to reach your maximum energy levels during the race - you can look forward to that full English the day after!
From when you wake on the morning aim to drink at least 500ml of sodium and electrolyte rich fluids – these will be retained more effectively by the body.
In the final half hour or so before the race a caffeine boost can be effective way of channeling your focus and giving your energy levels a final boost. Nutramino +PRO PRE-WORKOUT shots are in a readily diluted, concentrated form, provide a 200mg caffeine kick and can assist in reducing tiredness and exhaustion and can assist in your energy metabolism. Nutramino HEAT Functional energy is slightly less intense than the shot, put can still provide a great pick-me-up and focus pre-race. It's packed with active ingredients and provides 103mg of caffeine.
Post race make sure you reach for a good recovery supplement! Nutramino Protein XL shakes are designed specifically for post exercise recovery and provide a huge 50g of protein and 50g of carbs per serve. This will play a key role in muscle recovery and in your bodies recovery.
I'm often asked about my diet and the truth is, for me, I love food and its not very often that I'll deprive myself of what I want to eat. Ive always been more 'savoury' than 'sweet' and Ive never really craved chocolate or sweets so I'm not particularly someone that will order a Rocky Road dessert when eating out- I'll be much more likely to reach for another piece of bread to go with that last bite of lasagne! Anyway... occasionally if I'm looking to lean up for a job or a holiday I'll have a week or two of eating 'clean', which basically means cutting out the bread and preparing some simple low carb meals that can be on hand for before or after training.
Heres a really easy, simple meal prep plan for you to try.
I suggest you start with just one pre-prepped meal a day. If your working a 9-5 i suggest you prep your lunches as its the one that you have the most control over. Going out to lunch everyday can also be expensive so you might find that doing this can leave a few extra quid in your pocket by the end of the week. During a particularly stressful day at the office, your also much more likely to reach for something bad - having your meal prepped is likely to help you to say no to this too.
1) Chicken - I used thighs for this example, but feel free to use any type of 2.5lbs of meat.
2) 2 bags of mixed vegetables - (16oz) I used the broccoli, cauliflower and carrot mix.
3) 3-4 Sweet Potatoes
4) Salt and pepper, herbs.
1 )Large Pot (or two smaller ones!)
2) Cutting Board
3) Baking tray
7) None stick spray
8) Tupperware - 5 individual trays.
Wash and prepare your sweet potatoes, then cut into small cubes.
Put both bags of mixed veg and the Sweet potato in your pot and add water until the veggies are covered. Set your stove to medium high heat. Turn your oven on and pre-heat to 350 degrees.
Cover the Baking Tray with foil and spray it with the none stick spray. Place your chicken thighs on the tray and season with salt, pepper and herbs. Put them in the oven (set at 350 degrees) and leave in for 25-30 minutes.
By now your veggies should be done so strain them using the colander. Set out your tupperware containers and divide the veggies equally between them.
Check on your chicken thighs at this point. When the internal temperature is at 165 degrees they should be done. Cut one open and physically check if you don't have a thermometer. If they are done, let them cool for a few minutes then portion them out (approximately 1.5 thighs a portion) and your DONE!
Your meals will last for 5 days, but if your worried feel free to throw a couple in the freezer and get them out to de-frost the night before.
If I've missed anything out or you'd like me to answer any questions feel free to post me a comment below and I'll get back to you! Don't forget to let me know how you get on!
I'm really happy and excited to have been asked to be a Nutramino Ambassador for 2017, and I'm looking forward to a great relationship and a proud association with such a respected brand!
Nutramino are already the number one Fitness Nutrition Brand in Scandinavia so expect big things throughout the next few months! Im going to look to review a range of different products as they are made available throughout the year, starting today with a couple of my favourites - the energy and focus-boosting '+PRO Pre-workout Shot' and 'Heat - Functional Energy'.
First up the '+PRO Pre-workout shot'. Described as 'The Extreme Rush' and designed to be enjoyed 30 minutes before your workout. The shot is in a concentrated form and has been developed to give you a big energy boost allowing you to improve focus and maximise the intensity of your workout. The Pre-workout is a ready-to-drink product, no diluting or mixing needed and contains some carefully selected ingredients. You get your amino acids - l-arginine AKG, beta-alanine (for that naughty face tingle!), Vitamins B6 + B12 and a high 200mg caffeine kick. Vitamins B6 + B12 assist in reduce tiredness and exhaustion and contribute to a normal energy metabolism. I found the shot to really kick in to give me an extra gear, particularly before any evening HIIT sessions - and great if I've had a long day at work!
'Heat Functional Energy' is great for a general pick-me-up, without the intensity of the 'Pre-workout'. Its packed with 13 active ingredients including Ginger and Green Tea, 103mg of caffeine and 8 vitamins. It comes in a ready-to-drink 330ml can so is perfect to throw in the gym bag. I find this a great product to drink mid morning or to help to ease you into your day, with no 'caffeine comedown' to worry about.
Each serving contains:
Total Calories: 13 Kcal
Salt: 270 mg
Vitamin E: 5.9 mg
Vitamin C: 40 mg
Riboflavin: 0.69 mg
Niacin: 7.9 mg
Vitamin B6: 0.69 mg
Vitamin B12: 1.3 ug
Biotin: 25 ug
Pantothenic acid: 3.0 mg
Taurine: 1000 mg
Glucuronolactone: 419 mg
Green tea extract: 149 mg
Ginger extract: 20 ug
Nuramino products are available in gyms such as;
The Gym Group
...and also coming very soon to Boots and Holland & Barrett Stores nationwide.
Any questions please feel free to ask me below!
Over the last few weeks I've been really wanting to focus my training to a more 'functional' goal. By this I mean I actually wanted to feel physically fitter, improve my cardio fitness, and actually enhance my performance while reducing recovery time in high intensity training situations - and not just training for aesthetic reasons! In an attempt to keep my HIIT sessions more intense I enlisted the help of MioGlobal, and their FUSE Heart Rate, Sleep and Activity Tracker.
The Mio FUSE tracks the distance you've travelled and the steps you've taken throughout the day, the calories you've burned and of course your heart rate, notably all through its wrist based technology, alleviating the need for an uncomfortable chest strap as with some other competitors' devices. In fact it's extremely comfortable to wear, and the durable silicone won't slide around or cause irritation during any seriously sweaty sessions!
The first thing you'll notice is the pleasingly large LCD display, and its very 'easy to use' scrolling system, making navigation round the device a pleasant and largely stress free experience perfect for outdoor and indoor sessions. Discreetly placed buttons either side allow you to move through the different metrics and one at the top enables easy access to the heart rate monitor mode. The design of the strap allows one size to fit every wrist.
Metrics tracked include average heart rate, pace, speed, steps, distance, calories burned and active minutes, as well as the recent addition of the sleep tracker, which was something I'd never really looked into before, but being able to monitor my 'quality sleeping' hours I found really interesting. In addition to being able to see most bits of information on the LCD, you can view a much more detailed report of your stats when you link your FUSE up to the Mio Global App, which syncs your data quickly and easily via Bluetooth allowing real time access.
I found the Mio FUSE particularly useful during my High Intensity Interval sessions as you can set the heart rate monitor to vibrate when your heart rate drops outside of the fat burning zone, which psychologically stopped me from having an extra minute or two recovery time as I ended up almost challenging myself not to let the watch vibrate!
It is available in four different colours for the more gym-wear fashion conscious amongst us, and it is water resistant for up to 30 metres (great choice for you swimmers!). I found the battery life to be decent too - around 5-6 days of continuous use, possibly a bit less if you have the heart rate monitor working away constantly.
For any further information and to view the range of other heart rate monitoring devices Mio Global specialise in visit the website now; www.mioglobal.com.
Overall I found the Mio FUSE to be a great addition to my training kit and is certainly an 'all in one' watch when it comes to tracking your workouts. Oh, and it also tells the time too....on that note - gotta go, places to be, people to see and all that! ;)
waterproof: 30 m
I often get asked about my favourite core exercises and which ones are the best to make your Abdominal muscles pop... Give these ones a try and let me know how you get on!
REMEMBER: Ab/core exercises are all about QUALITY and not QUANTITY!! If you are doing 2000 crunches in 30 seconds all you are likely to do is put your back out. Think 'Gymnast' when performing each of the following exercises - slow and controlled.
BARBELL HIP THRUST
While this exercise doesn't target your abs, per se, it does target other core muscles like the glutes and hips. This move -- a favorite of Bret Contreras, CSCS, aka “The Glute Guy” -- is one of the best exercises for challenging and strengthening your backside. HOW TO DO IT: Start seated on the ground with a bench behind you and a loaded barbell over your hips. Your upper back and shoulders should be on the bench. Drive through your feet and extend your hips by contracting your glutes, raising the bar until your body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees. Return to the starting position and repeat.
BARBELL FLOOR WIPER
Grab a barbell loaded with one 45-pound plate on each side. Get on your back and hold the bar directly over your chest with straight arms. Keep your feet together and legs straight as you bring both feet up to the left plate then return them to the floor. Next, bring your legs up to the right plate and return them to the floor.
Holding a plank -- especially on your forearms -- is probably a piece of cake by now. Instead of hanging out statically for five minutes, change the length of the lever to challenge your core. HOW TO DO IT: Assume a forearm-plank position on a slick floor with a towel or slides under your toes. Slide your body forward and back slightly by hinging at your elbows and shoulders, maintaining a rigid body line from head to heels throughout the move.
CROSS-CLIMBER WITH FEET ON SWISS BALL
Keeping your hips stable and body aligned gets a whole lot tougher when the ground can roll. Throw in a ball and you add even more instability -- that’s the idea behind many of the moves on this list, including this one. HOW TO DO IT: Start in push-up position, but with your shins on a Swiss ball. Your body should form a straight line from ankles to head. Without rounding your lower back, lift your left leg off the ball and bring that knee toward your right elbow. Return to start, then bring your right knee up to your left elbow.
HOW TO DO IT: Lie faceup on a bench and grab the bench next to your ears so that your elbows are bent and your upper arms are next to your head. Your hands are there simply for support -- don’t pull with them or you’ll wrench your neck. Use your core to roll up onto your shoulders until your body is straight and perpendicular to the ground --basically, you’re stacked on top of your shoulders. From here, slowly lower your body using your core, maintaining a straight body line. Work toward bringing your body down until it’s hovering just above the bench. Then bring it back up to the start and lower slowly again.
Planks too easy? Try them suspended upside down. The front lever isn’t just incredibly impressive-looking, it’s even harder than it looks and will challenge your core, back and motivation as you train to perfect it. Good luck! HOW TO DO IT: Grab a pull-up bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip. From the hanging position, use your shoulders, back and core to pull your body -- totally straight -- from the perpendicular position up to a position parallel to the floor. If you can reach this position, hold it for as long as you can. To work your way up to this position, start with your knees tucked in: You’re hanging from the bar, arms straight, but with your body tucked in a ball and your back parallel to the floor.
HANGING LEG RAISE
Lots of people crank out leg raises, but they’re not getting the full benefit. By concentrating on keeping your torso perpendicular to the floor, you’ll add difficulty to this move and reap greater benefits. HOW TO DO IT: Hang from a pull-up bar with an overhand grip, hands wider than shoulder-width apart. Keep your torso perpendicular to the ground and don’t lean back as you pull your knees toward your chest by bending your hips. To make it more difficult, keep your legs straight as you raise them and work toward raising your straight legs all the way up to the bar.
INCLINE REVERSE CRUNCH
HOW TO DO IT: Lie face up on an incline bench with your hips lower than your head, your body forming a straight line from head to heels. Grab the bar behind your head for support or grasp the sides of the bench. Lift your knees toward your chest. Slowly lower your feet toward the floor and repeat.
You probably won’t be able to pull off a triple flip, the iron cross or all those pommel horse spin moves anytime soon, so the L-sit is the closest you’re probably going to get to an Olympic gymnastics move. It won’t be easy though. HOW TO DO IT: Set two benches parallel to one another a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Get between the benches and hold yourself up with your arms so that your body forms an L shape. Your torso should be perpendicular to the floor, your arms straight at your sides and your legs out in front of you, parallel to the floor. Hold this position.
L-sits too easy? Change the length of the lever by performing pull-ups from a hanging L-sit position for a move that combines isometrics (you’re holding those legs up) with a constantly shifting stability challenge (from the pull-ups). HOW TO DO IT: Hang from a pull-up bar with an overhand grip, hands wider than shoulder-width apart. Keep your torso perpendicular to the ground and don’t lean back as you lift your legs up without bending your knees until they’re parallel to the floor. Your body will form an L shape. While holding this position, perform pull-ups, pulling your chest up to the bar while pulling your shoulders back and down. Return to the bottom of the pull-up, but keep your legs in the L shape.
Even though this exercise has it's roots in yoga, don't let that fool you as to it's intensity. You’ll be taxing your core throughout by holding a weight plate in front of your chest. HOW TO DO IT: Get a 10- or 25-pound weight plate and hold it in front of your chest as you come to the top of a modified boat pose -- seated, leaning back, legs in a tabletop, weight in front of your chest. Hold this position as you breathe in and out through your nose, keeping your abs contracted and preventing your lower back from curving. Take a break for 30 seconds and catch your breath. Repeat.
Concentrate on pressing your lower back into the floor at the beginning of each rep by pinning your navel to your spine. This will engage your pelvic floor throughout the exercise. HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your back with your legs straight. Hold your arms straight above your head, gripping a medicine ball so your elbows are by your ears. Without bending your elbows or knees, contract your abdominal muscles, fold your body up by lifting your arms and legs off the floor and stretch your arms toward your toes. Keep your back straight. Pause, then return to the starting position.
Squats tax your core already. Moving the weight over your head makes maintaining your proper squat form even more difficult. The weight is further away, so it’s harder to control. What keeps that form correct? Your core! HOW TO DO IT: Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, toes turned out slightly. Grab a barbell with an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart, and raise it overhead so your shoulders are roughly in line with your heels. Keep your arms straight and directly overhead as you push your hips back to squat down until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor. Press back up to standing.
Awesome name for a double-duty move. Keeping your hips level as you row each dumbbell to your shoulder will tax your core while you train your lats. HOW TO DO IT: Assume a push-up position while holding a dumbbell in each hand directly below your shoulders. Your body should form a straight line from head to heels. Maintaining this body line, bend your elbows until your chest is between the dumbbells. Press back to start, then bend one elbow to row the weight up next to your rib cage. Return it to the floor, do another push up and repeat.
SIDE PLANK AND CABLE ROW
As with the renegade row, this move engages your lats while you stabilize your core. HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your left side in a side-plank position facing a low cable pulley. Prop yourself up on your left elbow with feet stacked and body forming a straight line from head to heels. Row the handle of the cable machine with your right arm until your hand is in line with your torso. Return the cable to start and repeat. Then switch sides and repeat.
Let me know how you get on with these in the comments, and don't forget to follow me on Instagram - @mrlukeboyden
Ab-off with 'The Haye-Maker' David Haye!