Archives For Movement

I have been published in Oxygen Magazine Australia discussing the annual yo-yo that so many people fall victim to. Allowing yourself to fall off the wagon when the weather cools down, only to blow out then panic when summer starts to approach is not only damaging to your physical health (stressful on your body which can lead to metabolic damage) but is also an extremely negative angle to approach your care for your self from. To only eat and train properly when others can see your body is to negate a love for the true self, which can lead to many more negative spirals of thought. Consuming the nutrients that your body requires and ensuring that you are not at risk of any of the modern diseases associated with inactivity, obesity and an unhealthy diet should be important to you for reasons much deeper than what others will think. To choose to prioritise your health because you care about your physical and mental well-being instead sets off a positive domino effect of thought patterns, choices and further action.

Here you can see a sneak peek of the article.

To subscribe to the magazine, go to the Oxygen Magazine Australia website HERE or to follow their updates, check out their Facebook page HERE

 

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I have been published in Oxygen Magazine Australia providing a very honest and open account of what can go wrong with Body Building competitions. With the growing interest to compete in fitness modelling and body building I felt the need to share what I have experienced. I am by no means trying to deter anybody from competing, but rather I present challenges that are common, and some which presented themselves to me. I provide some advice on how to avoid some of these issues, and hope to help some who may be competing or considering competing for the first time.

Here you can see a sneak peek of the article.

To subscribe to the magazine, go to the Oxygen Magazine Australia website HERE or to follow their updates, check out their Facebook page HERE

 

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Losing unwanted body fat can prove exceedingly difficult, depending on our genetic propensity for storing fat, access to proper nutrition, and ability to train without injury or any other limiting factor. But, as is more often the case, many the difficulties we face when carving the excess are of our own making. Often we become so fixated on blasting our fat stores that we neglect the fundamental prerequisites that are of greater importance when burning adipose than are the endless bouts of cardio which often comprise our fat loss plans; namely, resistance training and optimal nutrition.

By trundling away on treadmills to nowhere for extended periods of time we deplete energy reserves that would be better devoted to building lean muscle tissue. By employing lengthy cardio sessions on a daily basis we also dig into our muscle protein reserves, provided sufficient energy from either carbohydrates or fats is not readily available (though all cardio activity utilises a combination of fats, carbs and proteins, muscle is degraded to provide energy when cardio is overdone, making it far from anabolic compared to weight training protocols, which stimulate muscle regeneration). Although cardio is an important muscle building and fat burning component, to truly become leaner than ever we must emphasise lean mass gains over the direct targeting of stored body fat.

Muscling up to lean out

Cutting the cals, reducing the resistance and upping the cardio will almost always stifle the fat burning process. The fewer clean calories we consume and the more cardio we do, the less energy we are left with to train hard and heavy and the lower the anabolic response post training (without enough protein sparing carbs and fats circulating in our systems, the protein synthesis process is likely to be shortchanged). In other words, whenever we overdo dieting and cardio we sacrifice lean muscle tissue and may create metabolic damage which is closely connected to adrenal fatigue and weight loss resistance. Muscle depletion is counterintuitive to weight loss. Rather than steadily decreasing calories to where we our body is placed in a caloric deficit, begin by cleaning up your diet, and slightly reducing your overall nutrient intake. Add more lean proteins (which must be maintained at 1-2 grams per pound of bodyweight per day at all times) and starchy, complex carbs, including many of the fibrous kind. Eliminate simple sugars (with the possible exception of those taken directly post training) and include around 20% fat calories per day (essential fatty acids primarily, but also some saturated for optimal hormonal functioning). Muscle, as opposed to fat, is active and its development and maintenance requires sufficient daily calories. Given extra recovery time, a higher caloric intake, and a surplus of protein to repair and rebuild we become more muscular and greater muscularity means faster fat loss and a more pleasing shape.

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Photo:The Fit Housewife

Instead of performing cardio each day, as many trainees, in their quest for fat loss, do (many are also turning to twice-daily aerobic activity to strip excess fat) it is important to keep cardio consistent at 4-5 daily sessions per week, max (for no more than 45 minutes per session of steady state and no more than 25 minutes of HIIT). By replacing those additional cardio sessions with an extra bout or two with the iron, we are better able to address weaker muscle groups, and build more muscle overall. Given the extra recovery time we have and, with the higher caloric intake, a surplus of protein to repair and rebuild we become more muscular and greater muscularity means faster fat loss and a more pleasing shape.

Because muscle is the most metabolically active tissue we have, the more of it we can build, the faster and more effectively we may blitz stored body fat. Building muscle also feels good and is motivating. A major barrier to fat loss success is our unwillingness to stay the course; that lack of motivation to continue doing all that is necessary to fulfill our mission. Slaving away on the treadmill and eating the same boring foods day after day, aside from being ineffective ways to achieve long-term weight loss success, can also negatively impact our motivation to continue. Being creatures of pleasure, most of us will either take the path of least resistance to achieve our goals or do whatever is most pleasurable regardless of the consequences. Such strategies often place us back where we began. This two-steps-forward, two-steps-back approach may help to explain why optimal fat loss is considered by many to be an impossible task. By properly balancing weight training with cardio, to where cardio does not take precedence over the iron, and by eating a wide range of foods to stave off hunger and allow for full recovery (harder and more frequent weight training sessions allow us to consume more calories), we begin to enjoy the fat loss process. We also have more energy, which can be applied to further fat loss efforts.

Become a fat burning machine

Many people feel that to optimally burn fat they must prioritize cardio training. Change this thinking now! Take a look at the average long distance runner. Such competitors have cardio schedules which, by comparison, make the average fitness trainee look positively sedentary. They also have a scrawny, flabby look characterized by much protruding bone, making them, at least in appearance, undesirable representatives of the fitness lifestyle. Though the average fitness enthusiast does not overdo their cardio to the same extent, we can learn a valuable lesson from the examples set by such athletes: cardio alone does not create a positive physical transformation. Unfortunately for many, cardio is over performed to such a degree that excessive protein is depleted, workout intensity is diluted, and recovery time is minimised. This is clearly not conducive to achieving one’s dream physique. So back off the cardio, increase the weights, up the (clean) calories and watch as your transformation unfolds.

 

 

This post was written by David Robson in conjunction with Gym and Fitness Australia. David is a specialist health and fitness writer who has written professionally for such publications as Muscle & Fitness magazine, FLEX, bodybuilding.com, New Zealand Fitness, Inside Fitness, ALLMAX Nutrition, and Status Fitness magazine. As Founder and Managing Director of the New Zealand Wheelchair Body Building Federation (NZWBBF), Fit Futures Charitable Trust (both not for profit organisations set up to provide sporting and exercise options for people with physical disabilities), and Advanced Personal Training, David also doubles as a trainer, health and fitness educator and mentor to both established elite athletes and novice trainees alike. A competitive bodybuilder, David believes in leading by example.

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The Movement Guide was created as a business to encourage happiness and health through body movement. This is one great influence on why I like to spend a bit of time on my hands hanging out upside down whenever I am able to. Founder Sean Smith started the Movement Guide in Sydney, Australia but has since taken it back to Dubai, UAE, and is about to launch the brand to a whole new level of adventure and knowledge.

 

How would you describe what you do?

I am a researcher, a teacher but also always remain a student. I study movement, research new methods of these movements, then teach my findings to others. My ‘system’ is a personal expression of my definition of movement; my method is built using physical development tools and techniques from gymnastics, circus, ballet, martial arts, and weight-lifting. I combine Eastern principles of longevity, flexibility and body care with Western methods of periodisation and programming. I help others to move better, and guide them to learn how to teach themselves.

 

This isn’t how you have always trained though – you have a very diverse range of experience in fitness. How did this evolve and change?

Growing up I went through many sports and physical outlets ranging from archery, horse riding and swimming all the way to free climbing, but my main focus as a teenager and early 20s was rugby. I began playing low level when I was 14 and made my first international cap when I was 16 for the under 19’s AGRFU. At the age of 19 I began playing for the Men’s AGRFU international team in the Asian world cup qualifiers. I then found myself in Australia playing 1st grade Shute Shield and heading toward bigger things when the injuries started to interfere on a large scale. When I eventually retired from playing rugby, I considered entering into the Australian army and was introduced to Crossfit as a result. Crossfit in many ways was and is a wonderful tool, but if used poorly it can be disastrous for the practitioner. I found the sacrifice of form, control and safety for the sake of completing a WOD (workout of the day) with alarming frequency and came to the conclusion that a firmer foundation and patience was needed. I began to study movement in assessment and corrective work, tutoring under specialists and trainers focused on the body’ natural movement patterns. I then researched heavily into gymnastics strength work, but also started training with some circus performers in Sydney. Together that journey lay the foundation for where I am now, studying and working full time as a movement trainer and performer.
Why do you think it’s so important for people to train in movement art?

Movement is our way of life, and our form of expression whether we know it or not. It is a complex process that boils down to a simple combination of tension and relaxation, flexion and extension. I have found that the more athletes I meet, the more my understanding of imbalance and weakness increases; I am meeting people who have spent their lives moving in one set of predictable patterns – they tend to favour certain actions, muscular capabilities and body awareness abilities. There is no one sport or training method that provides all of the stimuli for a truly rounded ability. However, by addressing our first function of movement to a higher degree, we can balance our body’s patterns and capabilities more, and become smoother, stronger and freer.

 

Can you please tell readers about the projects that you are currently working on?

I will be leaving for China on the 27th of June with my partner to study Tai Chi and Wudang Kung Fu full time for two months to study under one of the most respected masters. We will be studying martial arts, internal healing and longevity arts, meditation, scripture and language and of course Chinese traditional medicine. We will be documenting the entire trip, creating records and tutorials, and I look forward to incorporating what we learn into our current system

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We are also currently working with a charity called Harmony House, located just outside Delhi, in India. They help to educate, feed and provide a more comfortable life for underprivileged children in India, and also offers an educational program for creating yoga masters. We are currently running a series of fund-raising workshops to help raise money for Harmony House. We will be travelling to India at the end of the year to teach and share some of the theory and practice that we learn in China. If you would like to find out more, or help Harmony House, check out their website: www.harmonyhouseindia.org

I have officially now launched my online coaching for everyone who is interested and driven to improve their physical abilities and mental toughness. Coaching is uniquely tailored for your personal goals and provides regular feedback and a fully comprehensive and detailed program, which is emailed at the start of each training block. Places are limited though so please drop me an email on seansmithsydney@gmail.com to find out more, with the subject line ‘Online Coaching’. For all members that sign up, 10% of our earnings go to Harmony House.

 

What is your favourite exercise and why?

Rope climb – It is such a versatile tool, and provides an incredibly demanding stimulus to the body. In one movement we are using the shoulders to pull and balance, the rotator cuff muscles to stabilise the shoulders, there is a back and abdominal contraction almost constantly, there is hip and leg tension to maintain lift and height… you get the idea! The other awesome thing about rope climbs is the variety and intensity that can be achieved. Changes in leg height, the distance between hands during the climb, the speed and hand grip all can dramatically change the effects obtained. Get up there!

 

You train hard and a lot – what is your diet like?

I eat a relaxed form of Paleo, so I do eat some foods that strict Paleo does not allow such as rice. I avoid processed foods, refined sugar and dairy, and I limit my fruit intake, as it contains quite high amounts of sugar. I also carb cycle, so some days I will limit my carb intake, and then increase carbs again the following day. This keeps me lean, fuelled and healthy, and I always make sure to stay well hydrated. I keep my supplementation quite minimal, and avoid pre workouts (I much prefer an espresso). I take a multivitamin and mineral complex, BCAAs (branch chain amino acids), Zinc, vitamin C and magnesium. This keeps me working hard, progressing weekly and enjoying life. Oh and if I want a slice of cake, I will eat that too. It’s all about having a balance.

 

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If you would like to follow the progress and development of the Movement Guide staff and clients, track the experience through China and access all the free tutorials and articles then please follow on:

FB: www.facebook.com/themovementguide

YT: www.youtube.com/themovementguide

W: www.the-movement-guide.com (site under redevelopment, stay tuned for a relaunch in September 2014)

 

Stop the SabotageI really think that if anybody else said some of the horrible things that I’ve said to myself at times I would probably punch them in the teeth. I know that I am not alone here either – so often do we question our own worth, and sometimes even outright tell ourselves that we are not good enough. The horrible thing is that we then listen to this and act accordingly. This may result in not really trying our best because we don’t really believe we can achieve something, and sometimes not even trying in the first place.

Self-doubt is the destroyer of dreams.

This little voice loves to be particularly mean whenever we want to look and feel our best. We are all constantly bombarded with super fit and super thin and hyper sexualised images of men and women in the media that simply are not achievable (especially given that even the models don’t even look like that – thanks Photoshop). This leads to desiring bodies that aren’t even human shaped sometimes, and definitely are not healthy. Match that up with all of this information about how you too can get ripped abs in just 30 minutes, and really what you’re left with is a feeling of serious disempowerment.

We are shown an extreme and told how easy it should be and then reality does not match. We are also then told a whole heap of conflicting information and sold every restrictive diet under the sun. This makes weight loss a particularly popular target for that mean little voice. It might tell you that you’re never going to make it, and it might tell you to just give up. It also has the capacity to really help mess with our relationships with food.

I am very happy to announce that yesterday I was published in a glossy fitness magazine for the first time! My article is about self sabotaging behaviours that can mess with our healthy eating goals and lists a few strategies to help overcome the common issues that arise. In there I challenge a few common things that will help make that voice shut right up.

Grab a copy of the latest edition of Oxygen Magazine to read more!

To subscribe to the magazine, go to the Oxygen Magazine Australia website HERE or to follow their updates, check out their Facebook page HERE

Once upon a time I ripped a hole in myself and underwent a horrible experience getting stitched back up. As part of the process I discovered that my body does not take well to general anaesthetic nor to morphine (fun!), and in the process I experienced months of unhappiness, issues managing my body fat, mood, and had not invested in such a wonderful support network as I have nowadays (you live and you learn). The end result was that I had some rubbish months recovering from that situation. Nowadays it’s just a scar, and every now and then the carbon fibre gauze in my left hand lower abdomen has the layers of tissue healed through it rip apart. For a few days thereafter, depending upon how big this is, any twisting motion results in the sensation of being stabbed.

While you may think that such an injury might not in any way relate to you, I would like to point out that my first hernia happened outside of a gym. I had in fact never set foot in a gym yet. I just had a weak core and pushed a table in the wrong way and BAM. That was is. Our cores keep us upright, stable and our insides on our insides properly. A weak core can lead to all manner of health issues from back pain through poor posture, through to similar injuries such as mine that can lead to the operating table.

My second hernia was a gym related incident, and I will admit that it was in a time when I had less awareness of safety and on the vulnerability of the body at all times when care is not taken to push to your limits and to question those limits, but to also always listen to that firm voice in your head that says “This is a stupid idea – you are not ready for this. You will hurt yourself”. I was much less experienced and was preparing for a power lifting competition (which I never got to do) and I was pushing too hard too fast. I had become physically capable of holding and moving around weights that my core was not strong enough to support. So I went for some ridiculous lifts on a day when I wasn’t feeling completely on top of my game and BAM – AGAIN!

Needless to say, my second hernia left me pretty unwilling to revisit the operating table. Luckily, I had an option. While I was told that I probably would need surgery, it was a direct inguinal hernia that came from a spot of weakness in the core. It was a long shot, but with adequate rest, rehab and gradual and sensible introduction of exercise and core strengthening I might not need surgery. Here is where I discovered body-weight training and my beloved rings. Here is also where I discovered GMB Fitness, who make some really nifty plans for people who are keen to learn about gymnastic training but making it accessible to people who may not have a gymnastics background.

So I learned a lot from them, and you can read a bit more about the experience of my recovery from my injury HERE. Nowadays I am once again able to lift heavy and never needed surgery, but I train my core religiously and more than anything else, have learned to listen to that little voice that talks sense to me when I’m tempted to do something silly.

Enjoy and I hope that you find this helpful.

I have had an article of mine featured on Ultimate You Magazine. Here I cover all of the boxes that you should be ticking to ensure that you are keeping yourself safe while maximising results if you are training heavy. To read the article click HERE

I am very happy to have another guest post up today – this time on Nardia Norman’s website. My post is on goal setting and on checking that your goals are aligned with your true self. You can read the post by clicking HERE.

Another great read that went up today which goes hand in hand with this is a piece written by Nardia herself on what values are, which can be found HERE.

Enjoy!

S

When was the last time that you challenged yourself?

A challenge can be taken on in any area of your life including an area that is not a part of your usual routine. It can be trying something new for the first time, or pushing to the next level in something that you already do. I believe that challenges are not only healthy, but an absolute necessity for anybody to lead a fulfilling life.

We all have a routine – some weeks might have a unique social event or be busier at work or have other minor fluctuations, but generally, we have a pretty good idea of what every week is going to be like. If you never push beyond this then that is what will always continue to happen. We may slowly increase our skills in the things that we do all of the time, such as our jobs, but this is a gradual and predictable process. This means that without a challenge, you can pretty much predict what your life is going to be like 6 months from now, even 12 months and further down the track.

While a certain level of stability is desirable in order to be able to know that we will have roofs over our heads, and enough money to survive and prosper, complete predictability and monotony can lead to boredom and in some cases even depression. We are creatures that seek meaning in our lives, and this is something that we are responsible for the creation of. Novelty is exciting, and mastery is incredibly rewarding, but it is not an easy process.

 

Challenge Rule 1: It should feel like crap.

The name “challenge” implies that it should be a struggle. If it is not a stretch for you to achieve it, then it is not a challenge, it’s just an activity. For example, rock climbing is an activity, but for me it is a challenge every time because I am TERRIFIED of heights. I get more out of it than somebody who is not afraid of heights because AS WELL AS obtaining the training benefits of carrying out the activity as well as the social element of rock climbing and the fun of figuring out and completing climbs, I am constantly battling with my mind to overcome a fear and to be able to function in that fearful state every time my feet leave the ground.

So why is that uncomfortable state the end goal? Well if we only ever did what we are comfortable with, we would never get very far. Once upon a time when you were a child it was a challenge to learn to read. Had you never overcome that challenge, well you definitely wouldn’t be where you are. Obtaining the ability to walk, literacy, cooking, driving and other common activities that so many of us make use of constantly were originally challenges. Completing challenges broadens our skill set and improves upon the skills that we already have. This leads to new hobbies, new jobs, new friendships, and new possibility. But the struggle must come first.

 

Challenge Rule 2: You may need to put some other things you want on hold.

No one can do everything all at once, and if you are thinking of taking on a challenge that is going to push you beyond your usual limits then it is an unrealistic expectation to think that you will still be able to make all of the other commitments that you usually do. You may have less time, and you will definitely have less energy. Challenges drain you mentally and emotionally. Again, if they’re not a struggle then you will not grow. If you take something on and then still want to keep up all of your other extracurricular and social commitments then chances are that you will burn out, especially if you are attempting a challenge that takes a few weeks to complete.

So here I’m going to share with you what I have been working on, and why. I am a few hours away from completing the T Nation 10000 Kettlebell Swing Challenge. I have two reasons for this – one, is that I will be running a seminar at my gym in a few weeks’ time on challenging yourself and personal growth (which will extend on what is covered here) so I wanted to push myself to be in the right headspace for talking about this. Secondly, it had been a while since I had pushed and done something that I believed I might not be capable of completing. I still haven’t done it, but in a few hours from now it will be done. I’ll definitely be announcing it to the whole world on HERE the moment it’s done and can honestly say it has been a rough ride.

 

Challenge Rule 3: Even physical challenges are mostly mental training.

So my challenge is a physical one, but only on the surface. Yes it happens in the gym and yes I am completing a certain amount of repetitions of an exercise, but I am also battling my mind every day for the duration. The first week was DOMS week – that’s delayed onset muscle soreness for anybody who might not be familiar with the acronym. I was sore CONSTANTLY for nine days, and I had to train through that entire time. After that it eased off as my body became more accustomed to the high repetitions in the workouts (500 repetitions per workout, 5 workouts a week, 4 weeks). Then there was a week where it actually did not feel too bad, so I was merrily plodding along, ticking off a few thousand more repetitions, but knowing what was coming.

Eventually the enormity of the task caught up with my body and everything started to fall apart a bit. First my grip started to go in workouts. Then I started to get anxious in the lead-up to workouts, and then the tears started. Every workout has been incredibly difficult, don’t get me wrong. I sweat like crazy, my heart races and getting through the repetitions aches like crazy, but I have a lot of experience with difficult and high intensity training. The real problem started when the psychological fatigue started to kick in.

Eventually the daily onslaught became harder to cope with and I would suddenly find that I was in tears mid workout. Nothing is wrong emotionally in my life, I’m not injured or in more pain than I was a few weeks before – in fact I’m probably in less because my body has adapted. I am just exhausted and really ready for the end of this. So why have I pushed on? Because of the mental training that has been necessary to get me through.

Whenever we challenge ourselves and it is something truly difficult we do think about giving up, and this is normal. Resilience and having the ability to not give up is just a skill though, and therefore improves with practice; the more that you become used to not giving up when you want to, then the better that you will become at just pushing on. I didn’t need to complete this challenge, but I have now become more prepared for when I am next met with a challenge in my life.

 

At this point I would like to invite you to get connected up with my social media (look to the right) to stay up to date with the information on my upcoming seminar. If you are Sydney based then please organise to attend the seminar, which is scheduled for Monday June 23rd at 6pm. This will be free for all Fitness First members, and will be free after entry to all non-members.

This week I have been posted up as a guest blogger on Sydney based health and well-being blog Move Eat Heal. I have written a short article on the negative effects of extreme dieting, and why they ultimately are bad for you and do not provide long-lasting results.

To read the blog post click HERE