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Brunswick Vegetarians, this is for you!

Brunswick and the surrounding areas are the home of a variety of vegetarian or vegan specialist stores, restaurants, and NOW there's Brunswick Vegetarian Health and Fitness too.

Click through for all the details!

Add one kilogram of lean muscle mass per month

Here's how I added 6kg of muscle in 6 months this year. I thought you might like to know!

How scientific should your approach to nutrition be?

Here's an article I wrote a while back which seems to have vanished from the site I submitted it to. Whatever, screw those guys I'll just post it here instead!

I'm a recent convert to the IIFYM aka "If It Fits Your Macros" theory on nutrition, which basically says you can eat whatever you want and still lose weight, as long as you end up at the appropriate amount of calories from proteins, fats and carbohydrates. With that being said, here's the article... starting... NOW.

Depending on your goals, you may or may not require a very thorough and scientific approach to nutrition and calorie counting.

Nutrition plays a big part in any fitness program, whether you are trying to burn some fat and get into a healthy weight range, or trying to gain weight and lean muscle mass. How complicated it has to be depends a lot on how specific your goal is, and what sort of time frame or deadline you have set in which to reach it.

For people who simply want to get into better shape, be more lean and become healthier, you can expect some results just by cutting out junk food, drinking water instead of soda and starting a basic exercise program with walking and perhaps some bodyweight resistance exercises. For people with more specific or more ambitious goals, a more thorough approach will be required.

As an example, if you want to look like a bikini model you need to eat like a bikini model, and if you want to look like a competitive bodybuilder you will need to eat (and train!) like a competitive bodybuilder.

As a personal trainer I often tell my clients; if you want to look better than average, you need better than average nutrition. If you want to look like a fitness model, you need virtually flawless nutrition. For many people who have more ordinary goals, it's sufficient to have just "good" nutritional habits from day to day, with the occasional treat or cheat meal when they really feel like it. Combined with an effective training program and some patience this is enough for most people to progress towards their goal of improved health and fitness.

So before we continue I'll just reinforce the previous point, it is not always necessary for the average person to have highly strict and restrictive eating habits in order to achieve some results from a fitness program. However, those with more lofty ambitions or those who have reached a plateau where results seem to have become fewer and further between may need to look closer at their nutrition and develop a plan specific to their goal.

Whenever I am asked for advice from someone who feels like their progress has stalled, one of the first questions I ask will be "what is your daily calorie intake?". More often than not, they will not be able to answer this question, or even know what their daily target of calories should be. Most people feel that because they are working so hard in the gym or on the track they have earned the results that they desire, but without knowing your current intake of calories and being able to compare it to your required amounts, how can you really have any strong expectation of the specific results you should achieve? When you have a specific goal and time frame in mind, nutrition really is just as important, if not more important than exercise alone.

For these people it is not enough just to train hard - they need to take a very scientific and mathematical approach to nutrition. It is necessary to know the required amount of calories, and make sure their actual intake of calories is correct. This can be determined by calculating a maintenance level of calories and adding or subtracting depending on your goal (ie weight loss or weight gain). It's important to keep in mind, if the daily calorie intake is too low the body will attempt to store and conserve as much energy as possible, which makes it very difficult to achieve any fat loss regardless of how hard you might be training.

Having determined our maintenance and target levels of daily calories, we also need to ensure that the ratio of calories from protein, carbohydrates and fats is correct as well. Further to this, we should be concerned with the ratio of saturated to unsaturated fats, sugars to other carbohydrates, and the amount of dietary fibre consumed daily.

Every person is a unique individual and will achieve their best results from a different ratio, but taking 40% of calories from protein and 30% each from carbohydrates and fats is a good place to start. If necessary, each individual can experiment with slightly higher or lower carbs than fats and decide on which ratio works best for them.

There are numerous calorie and macronutrient counters available online, including many free resources.

Why you are not reaching your goal weight.

I made a post on my TUMBLR because there seems to be so many people doing it all wrong with starvation diets and so forth. Hopefully a couple of 'em will read this and get the right idea!

IIFYM: If It Fits Your Macros

This “If It Fits Your Macros” or IIFYM approach to eating seems to be really growing in popularity so I am going to go over the facts as I see them for educational purposes.

First off, for those of you who just don’t know, “macros” is short for “macronutrients” and refers to the ratio of calories sourced from protein, carbohydrates or fats within your total daily intake. Unless you’re one of those fortunate people who seems to be able to just get it right by intuition, if you have a specific body composition goal (for example; reduce body fat, increase muscle mass) in mind, you are going to need to consume the right amount of calories each day, with the right balance of macronutrients.
In short, “if it fits your macros” has become the default answer for a lot of people to any question along the lines of “can I eat [insert type of food] and still lose weight?” In other words “eat whatever you want, as long as you end up hitting your nutritional targets”.

Generally speaking, I like this approach. But lets look at the pros and cons to see how it really works out.

The Good.

Obviously the best part is that you get to eat whatever the hell you want, rather than following some restrictive, boring “diet plan” some clown marketing person has come up with. Bottom line, if you’re not enjoying what you’re eating, you’re going to struggle to keep to the plan. So by eating the foods that you enjoy and even the odd treat thrown in, you’re far more likely to stick to the plan long term.

Now as far as the science goes… here’s the theory in rather simple terms; on a daily basis, you’re either eating (a) enough food to gain weight, (b) enough food to lose weight, or (c) precisely the right amount of food to maintain your current weight. Pretty simple right? Regardless of the amount or frequency of meals, high or low GI, etc etc, you are either getting the correct amount of calories to achieve your goal, or you are not. Simple!  Of course, as the body uses different types of calories for different purposes, you need to get the balance of macronutrients right as well. Not necessarily down to the last percentage point, but somewhere in the vicinity.

The Bad.

This of course means that you have to do your homework, and actually learn about your calorific and macronutrient requirements, as well as the breakdown of calories in the foods that you eat regularly. I really think you should be doing this anyway though, if you really want to be in control of your destiny in as far as reaching your fitness / body composition goals.

Of course nothing in life is as simple as “just eat whatever you want”. You CAN eat whatever you want, but of course the more empty calories (aka junk food) you consume, the harder it is to end up arriving at your nutritional targets. So, with careful planning you might be able to sneak in that treat in the mid afternoon, but you’ll need to compensate at other times of the day with meal choices that are higher in protein and lower in fats and or sugars.

The ugly.

So the bottom line is, hit your correct amount of total calories, with the correct balance of protein, fats and carbohydrates. All three of these macronutrients are important, and a surplus or lack of any one of them will hamper your efforts in achieving your goals.

This next part seems to often be overlooked by proponents of the IIFYM philosophy; it’s easy to say “meal times, glycemic index and so forth are not important as long as you hit your macros”, BUT you also want to make it through the day without feeling like you’re starving, right? So it is often best (depending on your targets and your goals, of course) to choose foods that will keep you feeling full for longer, and contain less calories in a larger serving size. Junk food is called junk food because it tends to be the opposite, aka large amount of calories in a small serving, but even “junk food” won’t make you fat if your total energy intake is not inappropriate.

So there you have it, people. Actually, I would have said “make it fit your macros” is probably a better choice of phrase, because if you want to indulge in some treats, you do have to make allowances for it.

Want more?

This is quite an old entry and who would have known when I wrote it that I’d go on to become a well known IIFYM or (as we now call it) Flexible Dieting specialist. If you’d like a lot more information in line with current best practices, head on over to the Online Coaching page and drop your details in the box.

Get my new NEXT LEVEL Training Program for FREE

Yep, you heard me - I said for FREE!

No conditions or catches, you don't even have to sign up for anything. It's all available on my website under Personal Training in Melbourne. This is a really short, editted version of the video blog I shot talking about this program... just giving you the basic idea of the program and explaining that it's suitable for pretty much everyone, anywhere, with whatever equipment you have available.

Sounds good, right? Are you intrigued? Good then!

If you want the details and specifics of this FREE Resistance Training Program, all you have to do is click.

So pretty much everything in the world is a scam now, right?

I'm becoming a cynical old bastard in my late 30s and ... well wait, don't get me wrong - I'm a pretty happy guy and I happen to be fortunate enough to work for myself doing something I enjoy. But DAMN, what is with all the blatant SCAMS out there, and are people really falling for this crap?

This is the latest one someone showed me the other day. Guys & girls, this is no joke! It's an actual product and (I assume?) people out there are buying it!

Seriously, does this take the cake, or what?

I checked out the website and apparently you are going to get lean, toned and muscular in 5 to 10 minutes a day BY PULLING A PIECE OF STRING WITH A LITTLE PIECE OF METAL ON IT!!!!????

Good god, man. Are these people for real?

If you actually want to achieve something, you've gotta work for it. Does this look like enough work to change the composition of your body? Really? Hell I used to make these when I was a kid, because the internet and video games where not invented yet. Sure it was fun but it did not give me the set of triceps I have now!

If you want to get into shape, lift some heavy weights and count your calories. It's SIMPLE, people!

What bugs me is that there's so many scams in the fitness industry, and I'm trying to run an ethical business without bullshitting anyone, selling fitness products and services that actually work. This crap makes us all look bad.

Home exercise programs and online personal training

For some useful tips on how to get great results from an Online Personal Training or Home Exercise Program, have a look at this article I published recently: Tips on getting the most out of online personal training.


Summer training program vs winter training program, aka periodisation

So now that Summer is official over (although isn't it nice and sunny out there today?) it's time to start thinking about how to modify your training program for the Autumn & Winter period. If you've followed my blogs for a while you'll know I cut back as far as possible on calories, did more cardio and switched to a Metabolic Resistance type of training program for the Spring, and stayed on relatively low calories through the Summer while beginning my Progressive Power program.

It's pretty much standard practice to cut back in the warmer months for obvious reasons. You want to be nice and lean for hitting the beach or the pool. In the cooler months though it's time to up the calories and try to put on some muscle. Of course that's followed once again by cutting back to strip off any extra fat you've gained in the process, but the end result being that you're still lean and mean + a bit bigger next summer.

So as of today I am on a 3000 calorie vegetarian body building diet, in fact the exact same diet as is included in my Progressive Power For Vegetarians package on my website. I'll be sticking with the Progressive Power program for rest of March at the least, to really maximise my strength gains before moving on to a new program in April looking at maximum muscle hypertrophy.

This summer I was definitely in the best, most lean shape of my adult life... and this year I want to be my biggest AND also most lean.

Online Personal Training & Exercise Instruction By Video

So, this is something people have been asking me for for a while now, so over the past month or so I've been putting together my Online Personal Training Packages for all the good people out there who want to train with me but can't due to living far far away from Brunswick.

What I've come up with is my Hardcore Holistic Home Program which includes;

  • Home exercise program using resistance bands, exercise balls and bodyweight.
  • Video exercise instruction and demonstration.
  • Vegetarian or non-vegetarian weight loss meal plan.
  • Motivation, education and support.
The whole thing comes in the form of a 10 page e-book, along with a spreadsheet for tracking your calories, and a program card for recording your progress at training. I love this program (and so far so do my online clients who are following it) because to the best of my knowledge it is the only weight loss program that gives you pancakes for breakfast. Yep, pancakes! Much better than starvation diets, innit?

Of course being a holistic plan we look at all lifestyle choices that impact our health and happiness, as well as the nutritious meal planning and hardcore training you would expect from me by now.

As well as this I have my Progressive Power Program, which is my strength and size program for aspiring body builders. This e-book is a massive 17 pages of quality information, plus an extra 3 pages in the vegetarian version. Both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian editions of this program include a high protein, mass building nutrition plan.

You guys know by now that I am all about the stuff that works, that's also fun... and also I'm all about great results and great value for money. If you check out either of these programs you'll be very happy that you did.

Long term weight loss tips

There's all sorts of approaches to losing weight, some that work, some that don't. Some work at first but eventually the weight comes back with a vengeance.

The burning question is "how to lose weight, and manage your weight for the rest of your life" and to answer that question I've created a one week email course of weight loss and nutrition tips.  You can sign up by clicking that link, and learn how to manage your weight with your choice of foods, rather than following some unpleasant over-restrictive diet.

If you want to learn the one action that most dieters fail to take, which is the real difference between success or failure in weight loss and weight management, you'll want to sign up for this free newsletter right now!

10 days until the grand opening and....

we're already looking for a bigger place!

yep, we're getting lots of interest and also decided there's lots more we want to do... so we'll need a bigger and better space.

Watch the blog for more information!

Brunswick is getting busy

The leg room at Doherty's Gym in Brunswick.
It's a little ironic; I've been focussing on promoting the new Oakleigh Personal Training studio that I've neglected the Brunswick side of my business a little bit. For some reason things have kicked up a notch in Brunswick anyway and I've added quite a few more sessions with new clients already this year.

It looks like I'll be spending my mornings in Oakleigh and mid afternoon through to evenings in Brunswick now, and there's still a few sessions left Monday - Thursday. So if you're looking for Personal Training in the Brunswick area, now's the time to get in while the getting is good!

Video demonstration: Overhead lateral raise

Here's a little video I made demonstrating one of my new favourite exercises for shoulders. Usually the side lateral raise is used to target the middle deltoid muscle, but this variation adds some emphasis to the rear delt and trapezius muscles, which happen to be two muscle groups I am trying my best to develop at the moment.

Give this one a try, it's a nice one!

What's the deal with aerobic steps?

I've been looking in to getting some aerobic steps for my Oakleigh Personal Training studio and wow, how expensive are these things? Expensive isn't really an issue, if you need something you need something and it costs what it costs... BUT... is it just me or all these things not high enough to be of any use?

Mainly I intend to use these for step - ups and also for teaching people how to correctly perform a squat. For those who don't know already, the correct form for a squat is a lot like putting your butt out behind you as if you're going to sit down on something... it's not supposed to be coming forward at the knees as if to kneel down in front, or bending too much forward at the hips as if to do a deadlift. Along with doing squats with an exercise ball against a wall, I find getting people to sit on a low bench or a high step, then stand up, then sit down again is a good way to learn good squatting form.

The problem is that unless you buy stackable steps and put one on top of the other, they don't seem to be high enough to be used for this purpose. And they're overpriced in the first place, even without doubling up on them!

So I think I am going to take a leaf out of the crossfit people's book in custom building my own damn steps to meet my requirements, as well as some plyometric boxes for the new studio. Actually that's a half-truth, I want to be sure these things are safe(!), so I'll be asking a friend who's a bodybuilder and also a carpenter to make some up for me and then test them out against his weight. If they can hold him, they can hold most people!

By the way we are still on track to open at the end of January, so if you want to book in for Personal Training or Group Fitness in February, just shoot me a message. Anyone who joins in February will get a LOT of special bonuses as a foundation member, so get in while the getting is good!

My "home workout workshop" & grand opening of the new studio.

You know I'm always thinking a few steps a head because I've only taken one look at the new location, haven't even got the power turned on yet much less started moving equipment in, and I've already started inviting people to the grand opening!

It's that time of year where people are making new year's resolutions (well, I guess it goes without saying that this is the time of year that happens!) to get into shape, so a few people have been asking me what sort of home workout equipment they should be looking into. So to give all my friends a look at the new place as well as to answer this question, I'll be holding a "home workout workshop" teaching people how to train at home using some of my favourite low cost options, namely resistance bands, stability balls and body weight exercises.

I have big plans for the Oakleigh Personal Training studio in the new year and this seems like the perfect way to start it off with a nice fun group training session with some of my friends. You can be sure I'll take some photos and perhaps some videos too and post them up here afterwards.

Double Two Day Split Program

What do you guys think is worse? A personal trainer who thinks he/she knows EVERYTHING just because they have a certificate, or a trainer who's aware of how many different approaches there are to training and nutrition, and is still trying to learn? I spend a lot of time networking with other trainers, bodybuilders and so forth and I ask a lot of questions and take a lot of stuff on board. Sometimes I wonder if people are thinking "this guy is a trainer, why is he asking questions? He should know this stuff!" but my attitude is "I know some things, but I'm still trying to learn more". I think that's better than just arrogantly insisting that you know it all already and anything you don't know is not worth learning, wouldn't you agree?

Here's one of my favourite quotes:

"What is wisdom? It has little to do with beliefs. These change year by year from person to person. Only one who does not dare give up beliefs because he has no wisdom will insist that others believe as he does.Cleverness learns something, but wisdom gives up some certainty every day."

So anyway I was thinking a lot about my own training and reading a bit and discussing things with other guys and girls, and I've decided to change my approach a little. As you might know, I like to train a different body part each day in what's known as a "five day split", which means I can do a hell of a lot of exercises on each body part and then give them a full week to recover. I mix it up a bit with some other approaches from time to time but the 5 day split is what I always come back to.

Well, I was thinking about this and how certain body parts seem to be responding & progressing better than others. For example I think my arms and shoulders (front delts at least) are doing pretty well, but I'm a little frustrated that chest and legs aren't really keeping up with them. So why would that be? I apply pretty much the same approach to each body part with most of my programs.

I'll tell you what I decided. In actual fact I am training arms TWICE a week and everything else once a week. If you understand exercise and physiology to some extent you'll be aware that when training chest, the tricep also contributes, and when training back, the biceps contribute. So for example I would really be training triceps on Monday, biceps on Tuesday, and then biceps and triceps together on Friday. It's no wonder my arms are showing better results than any other body part, they get worked twice as often!

So I'm changing my approach and starting out with what I call a "double two day split". How it works is that on day one I am doing all PUSHing exercises such as for chest, triceps, quadriceps and calves, and on day two it's all PULLing exercises such as for back, biceps and hamstrings. There's a rest day after this, and then I start over again but with some different exercises for each day. This way I will be hitting every muscle group twice every week, just like I've always been doing with my arms.

I'm sticking with more or less the same exercises and rep ranges as I utilised in my previous 5 day split program, but just spread out over the whole week instead of one day at a time. I made good progress overall with this program last month, so with this new strategy I'm sure to get even greater results.

Happy new year everyone! Make this a great year by training hard, eating right, and being good to yourself and the people you care about!

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