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Spinach. Is it even all that healthy, really?

Forgive the blatant clickbait headline. Of course it is fucking healthy, don't be ridiculous. Got your attention though, didn't I? Probably came in here all expecting to read something that would piss you off, right?

Well, read on it could still happen.

Everyone else? Stay with me because I'm going somewhere here. Somewhere I think is important right now with a lot of the talk we see about diet, nutrition, health and food choices these days.

Spinach, obviously, is good for you. It's a leafy green vegetable, full of vitamins and minerals, provides fiber or roughage if you prefer, and the energy content is so negligible you'd really be hard pressed to eat "too much" of it.

It's about as healthy as it gets. If you're sitting there thinking "well not really, I can think of plenty of more nutritious choices of vegetable" and about to scroll down to the comments box to let me know about it... then good, you're a part of the problem I'm trying to address here. So sit there, shut up, and pay attention.

The other great thing about spinach is that it is quite a non-challenging choice of vegetable, for those who might struggle a little to get enthusiastic about meeting their recommended number of servings. Make something else, serve it on a bed of baby spinach. Boom you just added +1 to your serves of vegetables quota. Easy.

Spinach is good for you. Popeye was correct.

Since spinach is healthy, if you eat spinach does that mean you have a healthy diet? A diet that is suitable to fuel your lifestyle and to produce your goal physical condition as an adaption to training?

Well... not necessarily. Adding 100g of spinach to whatever your usual diet is right now will make it healthier by ensuring you exceed your Vitamin A requirements, and by providing a good amount of Iron and Magnesium amongst other valuable nutritional resources. If you were short on those particular resources before, your diet is now somewhat healthier.

Does the addition of spinach necessarily mean that you have a "healthy and appropriate" diet meeting your total energy and protein requirements though? Absolutely not. As described, it will certainly go a long way towards meeting your micronutritional requirements, but it doesn't automatically ensure that you have met all of those requirements, either. Other than Vitamin A which it knocks out of the park.

So spinach is an excellent, sensible, not terribly challenging and healthy choice that is advantageous in meeting your requirements for a healthy diet. A healthy diet would be one that is neither excessive nor insufficient in total energy intake, providing adequate protein, adequate fiber, and your required intake of vitamins and minerals via your "5 + 2" recommended serves of vegetables and fruit, respectively.

I hope I'm making my point clearly enough. Spinach (or any other vegetable) is an excellent choice that may make up a part of a healthy diet. But just because you eat your spinach like a good chap, it doesn't necessarily mean you have "a healthy and appropriate diet".

Similarly, just because spinach is healthy... you probably wouldn't insist that this means anyone not eating it regularly doesn't have a healthy diet. That'd be illogical, wouldn't it?

If you were wondering if I have a point, well yes I do and here it comes.

What about a less healthy choice though?

Including one isolated healthy choice does not necessarily mean your diet is healthy and appropriate. I mean... it probably does. It probably means you're likely to be in the habit of making sensible and healthy choices, but just adding spinach to an otherwise excessive and unhealthy diet doesn't suddenly mean you have "a healthy diet".

The exact same thing is true in reverse.

So often on the internet, everyone wants to give their opinion on what other people should or should not be eating. It might be bread, or breakfast cereal. At the most infuriating it might even be fruit of all things, that "isn't healthy enough" for some people on the grounds that you can get more vitamins from a vegetable instead. As if... I mean really, do I even have to explain why that is so ridiculous as to actually be offensive to anyone with an ounce of sense? I am going to start slapping people in real life for that sort of talk.

Let's consider something like a can of artificially sweetened soft drink, providing absolutely zero nutritional value. Or the regular kind, providing only "empty calories". People shouldn't drink them, right? Because that would mean their diet is unhealthy, and therefore they'll be unhealthy, right?

Of course not.

Just as including one healthy choice doesn't automatically make a diet healthy and appropriate, including an entirely frivolous choice doesn't necessarily make for an unhealthy diet. Your diet on the whole, your total daily intake is either of appropriate energy, macronutrient and micronutrient intake suitable to good health and results from training, or it is not.

There is no reason to believe, imply or infer that an appropriate total intake cannot be achieved without total avoidance of... well, whatever it is. Bread, cereal, processed foods, more than two pieces of fruit a day, ice cream... whatever. People who are training towards a performance or body condition goal have relatively high energy requirements, and with a little mindfulness they can probably fit some of whatever they fancy into a plan to meet but not exceed those requirements.

Singling out individual food choices outside of the context of your total intake and how that relates to your actual requirements is pointless. Criticising someone else's individual food choices, especially with no reason to assume you know what their requirements are or how that choice fits into their total intake... that just makes you a jerk who needs to shut up.

Ready to learn how to meet your nutritional requirements with your choice of foods, rather than restricting your choices? Drop your email in the box for a free education program.

Precision Style Side Lateral Raises

OK these videos aren't all that great because I just decided to film them on the spur of the moment by leaning my phone against a nearby object and hoping for the best.

Disregard the 40kg dumbbell press, we're going to talk about the side lateral raises that come after.

In my program, side lateral raises are what I consider a PRECISION movement. Of course the program is based on compound exercises for example heavy ass deadlifts, squats, various heavy ass pushing and pulling movements for upper body. These I refer to as POWER movements as it's just about developing that brute strength and encouraging our body to promote and preserve muscle and bone mass at the expense of body fat.

Obvious, right?

With these PRECISION or isolation exercises though, the strategy is a little different. We're not just trying to recruit as much muscle as possible over multiple joints to produce the most powerful contraction and move as much weight as possible as per the POWER section of the program. As the category name would imply, this is more about a precise movement targeting a specific muscle or muscle group. In this example, the lateral deltoid.

So, you'll notice I am sitting down. This means I can't rob myself of the effectiveness of the exercise by bobbing up and down from the knees or however else you might see people generate some momentum to swing some heavier weights up into the air on this exercise. That's not the point. It isn't what we're trying to do. Go lighter if necessary, and perform the movement with precision.

You may notice that I'm trying to perform a strict shoulder abduction movement, without the rotation that a lot of people utilise when performing this exercise. Through experimentation I found that this was the best way to activate and isolate my lateral deltoid as per the aim of this exercise. I would be open to other opinions on this point, but this is how I like to perform and instruct the exercise.

Here's the main point of this post. Watching this back I'm surprised how fast I'm actually performing each rep. What I am trying to do here is raise the dumbbells to shoulder height via shoulder abduction, pause at the top, and then lower slowly.

Note that I do not lower all the way back to the starting position. I want to maintain that muscle activation at all times while performing the exercise. In theory, I pause at the top... and then, I used to say "gradually release the muscle contraction to slowly lower back to the starting position". Really it is more like maintaining that muscle contraction to a level that is just short of what would be required to hold that position at the top of the movement. Then BOOM snap that contraction back on at 100% to raise back up again.

Even with a relatively light weight, targeting a relatively small muscle, this is very demanding and you'll have earned your minute and a half rest after 12 to 18 reps.

Here's a better video from a couple of weeks ago demonstrating the same principle on front raises, targeting the anterior deltoid.


Let me tell you something. Sometimes I get frustrated.

I am not here to tell people whatever lies that they want to hear and charge a fee for it. I'm not even here to tell people the bad news they expect to hear. To confirm their fears or whatever.

A lot of people want that, subconsciously I guess. That sort of "oh, that's what I was afraid of... I can't do that because I'm not good enough" sort of thing. And they'll pay out anyway like as a penance for not being good enough. That's how so many of those nonsense gadgets on the tv get sold all the time. You know, those "fits right under the bed" type of things. Great, I'll put it under the bed and never use it, but at least I paid my 195.95 plus postage and handling to make up for feeling guilty about not being in better shape like I feel like I'm supposed to be.

I am here to do the only thing I know how to do and that is to tell the truth as best as I understand it, as simply and eloquently as I'm able to. The truth about diet and training and exercise isn't even bad news, anyway. Sure, you have to put in some effort, but you don't have to suffer and starve and restrict. In fact, all of those things are counter productive. You need to train effectively, and fuel appropriately.

Pay a little attention and plan in advance to meet appropriate intake targets to support your lifestyle and provide sufficient energy, protein and other nutritional resources to enable the desired outcome. That is, a transition or transformation to a stronger, leaner, more sculpted body condition within a suitable weight range.

There is nothing difficult about this. If you are enthusiastic about pursuing such a goal, it is very easy to get your nutrition right and it will not seem like a chore. If you are less enthusiastic... well, I'm not here to bust your balls about doing anything you're not interested in doing. If it's something you want, do what it takes. If not then don't.

The nutrition side is easy so long as you are training effectively with a suitable program that is appropriate to your goal. For my clients and for myself, I have put together the best program I know how. The most methodical, utilitarian, strategic and efficacious system I could devise, and then I made it as adaptable as I could to suit different people's needs.

You cannot come to me and say "well, I just wanna do this" and expect me to tell you that's just as good. You cannot come to me and ask "well why can't I just do it this way instead?". I don't get to decide what is going to work and produce the result. You have to do what it actually takes to facilitate that physical transition in body condition. My job is to tell you what that is.

I'm not going to tell people "yeah that's just as good, we can do that" for the sake of getting them to sign up and pay their fees and then not get any results because they're doing what they wanted to do rather than what would actually produce that result. There's a million other people who will do that if you want to go looking for one, but not me. Sometimes, I don't even know why not.

Bottom line you are not doing MY program unless you're doing MY program. If you want the sort of results my clients get, you need to follow my system.

There's a whole heap of information right here. Everything you need to know to make an informed and educated decision about signing up, or not. Read it. Do your homework. If you think this might be for you, subscribe to the "pre-program" email series which will deprogram whatever crap other idiots out there are polluting the world with to scare you into buying their stupid bro-science and starvation programs. Once you've unlearned all of that, you will really understand just why you will be successful on my system, just like everyone else has been so far.

Do what it takes to produce the result that you actually want.

Do you usually make a habit of taking advice from idiots?

A show of hands, please. How many people reading this are in the habit of taking advice from idiots?

Random idiots who don't know a thing about you, telling you their opinion on something that is none of their concern. Or known idiots, for that matter. The sort who've got to put their 2 cents in on everything because they know it all... when if it was up to you, you wouldn't even keep them around for the sake of having someone to swear at when you felt like it, because they'd find a way to mess that up too.

Which is not to suggest that everyone out there is completely clueless and hopeless. Certain people you might be able to count on, you might seek their advice on a certain topic that they have knowledge and experience in. In general though, unless they're one of those people and it is one of those topics... you usually don't appreciate random idiots wandering into your life to tell you what you're not doing right. You'd tell 'em to go stick their worthless opinion somewhere uncomfortable, am I right?

Except, for some reason... when it comes to diet and exercise. Everyone thinks they're a nutritionist, all of a sudden.

Vegetarian? Oh you're not getting enough protein.
Trying to lose weight? Oh that's too many carbs.
Already active and in quite good shape? Oh, are you sure you should be eating that? I thought you were the healthy type?

And for some reason we take all these unfounded, uneducated, unwanted opinions to heart. Like maybe they're right, and I really shouldn't have had that one snack because I was hungry. Or like I really should feel guilty because I had a slice of birthday cake along with everyone else, which was fine for them, but not for me for some reason. Or like even though I am an active adult with a busy schedule apparently I don't require energy to do all that and I should be cutting carbs like it's still the 90s or something stupid like that.

NAH UH. What is on your plate is no one else's business. They don't know your requirements. They don't know jack about nutrition other than some nonsense they picked up from some other know nothing know it all on the internet or where ever. Even if they did, how are they going to know how that one choice they're judging you on fits into your total intake and how that compares to your total energy requirements?

Any living organism requires energy and nutrients to be alive. As an active human being, especially one with an interest in producing results from a training program... jesus christ... how... HOW the hell can you possibly expect to achieve anything without proving those nutritional resources? Protein, energy, vitamins and minerals... all are crucial and required. Up to a certain amount, everything you put it WILL be utilised, and that amount is probably a lot higher than you think.

Where you pull those energy and other resources from is irrelevant. Food that is enjoyable still provides energy and other resources that you REQUIRE to be alive and to enable results from training.

Stop listening to random idiots. You wouldn't let them walk into your workplace and start telling you how to do your job there. You wouldn't let random nobodies tell you what TV shows to watch, or what radio station to listen to. But you're going to listen to people trying to tell you what foods to eat? Trying to make you feel like a bad person for eating foods that you like, or just eating at all?

That's ridiculous. 

Why a lot of you are wasting your time and energy with exercise.

Favourite gym selfie from a while back.

It'd probably be real easy to post up a photo of one of my clients... or... no, not even one of my clients. It'd probably be real easy to post up a photo of some pro fitness model I never met before, and tell people "one session a week and this could be you" like a lot of jerk offs do on their facebooks. Or those stupid ads on the TV with some super fit athlete telling you "3 and 3/4 minutes a day on this ab machine that stores right under your bed, get the body of your dreams".

Unfortunately all of that is a load of old bollocks.

You aint going to achieve jack shit doing a few minutes a day, or one PT session every Monday night, or every couple of weeks, or whatever.

Don't shoot the messenger for telling you the truth, though. Cos if I don't do there's not many others out there who will.

If you have a weight loss goal, you need to be more active on a daily basis. Ideally you would adopt a more efficient strategy though rather than simply "increased activity". If you want to end up STRONG AND SCULPTED whether you need to lose weight or not, you need to train productively on a regular basis.

This doesn't mean you never sit still all day, install a treadmill or a spin bike in the office and attach the computer to it or whatever else. I call that "exercise bulimia", if anything. It means SCHEDULING an hour or so, most days, to follow a strategic program to build, sculpt and maintain your goal figure.

Being prepared to actually show up and put in the effort is crucial. I tend to work with people who have been prepared to work harder than just about anyone, but without seeing the results they deserve, because unfortunately like most people they have been following strategies that are DESTRUCTIVE, rather than CONSTRUCTIVE.

Running yourself into the ground through exhaustion in an effort to "burn more calories" is not how it works. That's what you hear almost everywhere else, but it is NOT how it works. Train with the mindset of creating something new of yourself, rather than of destroying what you are now. Train in a manner that creates your goal condition by encouraging your body to become healthier and stronger, rather than to try to force it to find some way to survive being over worked, under fueled and stressed out, as if the logical way to build a healthy and strong body is through subjecting it to the most unhealthy possible circumstances in an attempt to "shock" it into utilising fat stores for energy.

Isn't that exactly what is suggested, almost everywhere else? It is madness. Completely illogical and inefficient.

To create a leaner, stronger, more sculpted body condition, you must train strategically and diligently towards that goal. Perhaps not literally every day, since recovery is also important, but you would train most days, as best as circumstances allow. You would train constructively and productively to prioritise the creation and maintenance of lean muscle and bone tissue at the expense of adipose tissue.

Training regularly is 50% of the equation. If your dietary habits are not appropriate, you will not see consistent progress. If your total energy intake is excessive, you will not see a reduction in adipose (fat) tissue. However, if your total energy intake is insufficient, your body will not have adequate resources available to create and maintain lean mass. This is of crucial importance and cannot be overlooked. You must provide adequate but not excessive nutritional resources, suitable to fuel your lifestyle and to recover and adapt favourably to training.

For this reason, diets that are restrictive in terms of either choice of foods or provision of energy are counter productive.

If you are already putting in the effort to exercise regularly, and are paying some attention to your diet, you deserve to see the results you are working for. If you apply that same, or perhaps not even as much effort but with a more sensible and strategic strategy that is conducive to your goal, success will be inevitable.

Subscribe to my email series to unlearn all of the common myths and misconceptions that are robbing you of the results you so richly deserve.

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