Archive for February, 2008

Fish oil is important to your health and in high doses has been touted as something of a medical miracle.

It can reduce inflammation, improve blood flow and help the brain to function better.

This is all due to the Omega-3 fats contained within fish oil – fats which are essential but that most of us don’t get anywhere near enough of.

How Much Fish Oil Should You Take to Get the Benefits?

Well, according to the “Omega Rx Zone” by Barry Sears, for normal individuals without chronic diseases or inflammation, 2.5 grams per day of Omega-3 fats is enough.

If you have chronic disease however you may need to take as much as 10 grams of Omega-3 per day. To fine tune your dosage, you’re going to to need to gradually increase your dosage to a point where the benefits cease, then decrease your dosage to a point where they return – this will give you your minimum fish oil requirement.

How to Check the Quality of your Fish Oil

The recommendations assume that you are taking pharmaceutical grade fish oil. This is a highly refined product which has had many of the pollutants and impurities removed and has a much higher concentration of Omega-3 fats. They are however very expensive.

You can get away with less refined fish oils. Look for ones where EPA and DHA levels when added together are around 50% of the total amount of oil.

e.g.

Each capsule contains:
Fish Oil 1000mg
which contains:
EPA 300mg
DHA 200mg

300mg + 200mg = 500mg which is half of the 1000mg of total fish oil.

Then you need to put some of the fish oil into the freezer overnight. In the morning cut open the capsules and if the oil hasn’t frozen, then you’re onto a winner. If the oil/liquid is frozen solid – do not use that fish oil!!!

How Many Fish Oil Capsules Should I Take?

Then you need to workout how many capsule to take in a day. To do this add together the EPA and DHA figures (these are the Omega-3 fats) – in the example above this comes to 500mg. As an example, if we wanna be taking 5 grams (5000mg) of Omega-3 per day, then if we’re using the above brand we need to take 10 capsules.

You’ll wanna split this dose. So you could take 4 in the morning, 3 at lunch and 3 in the evening, or if you eat 5 times per day, take 2 with each meal – it’s up to you.

From personal experience, fish oil is magic – but you need to make sure that you take the right doseage and that you take high-enough quality oil.

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Q: What’s brown and sticky?
A: A stick…

Q: What do you call a boomerang that doesn’t come back when you throw it?
A: A stick…

stick

Sticks feature fairly heavily in lame (yet strangely amusing) jokes and yet are often overlooked as a workout tool – we want to change that.

Straight of direction and circular of cross-section – the stick is your new best friend.

You’ll want to get yourself a broom handle – these are the perfect size.

Use the broomstick instead of a barbell to work on your technique in exercises such as the clean, the snatch and the overhead squat – basically any movement where technique and control are critical and using a weighted bar will compromise form.

We recommend doing overhead squats as part of your warm-up and this is the perfect time to break out old sticky – you’ll be able to do more reps with better form, hence giving a better warm-up than if you did fewer reps with a higher weight.

Tea is good for you.  No doubt you’ll have heard people raving about the benefits of green tea and it’s reported cancer fighting properties.

Tea Bag

The point of today’s little post, is not really to explain the benefits of various teas – there are more than enough web pages that already do that – I just wanted to share a way I’ve only recently come across to make it easier to get more servings of tea into your day.

Brewing Your Tea The Easy Way

Most sources seem to recommend multiple cups of tea per day, usually of green or white tea (both are high in anti-oxidants, but white tea has even higher concentrations).  This equates to a lot of kettle boiling and  brewing.

If you can’t be bothered with all this, then try cold brewing your tea in larger batches. 

To cold brew, all you need to do is fill up a jug with cold water (a 1.5 – 2 litre jug should do fine) and throw in 3 or 4 tea bags.  Let it sit until the water turns a nice ‘tea’ color (this can take an hour or more) and then just pour yourself a cup when you fancy it.  I personally do this overnight so that my tea is ready the next day and I drink the tea instead of plain water.

The benefit of this method is that it takes less effort than traditional brewing, less tannins are released (they give tea it’s bitter taste when you brew it too long), tea is better at hydrating you than pure water and you are able to get a steady stream of cancer-fighting anti-oxidants all day long.  Fantastic.

The are many different teas which have a wide range of benefits, so try mixing different tea varieties in one jug to tailor make your own ‘health juice’.  Try a mix of two white tea bags, one green tea bag and one other tea variety of your choice.  Adding a Peppermint Tea bag always seems to go down well.

Experiment for a while and see how you feel.  

I’ve spoken to a number of people recently who are on “diets”.

Now, “diet” is a word I hate to use – it reeks of short-termism.

These people are eating rations of fruit, cereals or bread for breakfast and lunch and then eating a typical meal in the evening.

What they are in effect doing is starving their bodies of protein and fat during the day and instead living on carbohydrates – almost 100% in fact. For one thing, this isn’t good for insulin levels.

Now, they are restricting caloric intake, which will potentially lead to weight loss (assuming the aren’t spking insulin with carb-heavy daytime snacks), but there isn’t a bats chance in hell that they are getting adequate nutrition.

All that will happen is that they may lose weight in the short term, but as soon as they begin to eat “normally”, their bodies will breathe a sigh of relief and store more food as bodyfat should another famine period come around.

What we try to do is look at the long term. We try to educate our clients as to what they should be eating – what kinds of foods, how much and when, so that they can construct balanced, healthy and tasty meals and make the shift from “dieting” to a lifetime of healthy nutrition.

Our program works on the following simple principles:

  1. The body needs a certain level of protein for healthy function.
  2. By controlling carbohydrate intake we can control insulin levels to normalise body-fat %s
  3. Fat is a good thing and is essential to health – you just need to know how much you need.
  4. There are certain foods we are designed to eat as humans and some that we are not.

Ultimately, we utilise Paleo food types and combine these with Zone-style proportions to tell us how much a client should be eating and what types of food they should consume.

The trick with all of this is implementation and this is where it can really help to have someone on hand to guide you each step of the way.

These are the very same principles I follow and I haven’t looked back since I started. I know first-hand that this stuff works.

So, if you need some nutritional guidance, then give us a call at our gym in Totnes– we’d be glad to help.

The key to making gains in the world of conditioning is adaptation. Adaptation is your body’s response to any thing that affects it. If you do something long enough, your body will adapt to it and it will lose its adaptive effect on your body – this applies to anything from exercise to alcohol consumption.

For example, if you try to do 50 push-ups per day, at first it seems difficult but if you keep doing it, it becomes easy. This is adaptation. In order to progress you either need to change the exercise or increase the difficulty of the exercise.

The key message here is: – do as many different things, as many different ways as you can think of in order to keep you body adapting and thus improving. This is what we aim to do and is one of the main reasons why our programs are so much more fun than anything else out there.
Adaptation takes place via two processes, either by increasing the muscle’s efficiency via the nervous system (neuromuscular adaptation) or via a hormonal release (endocrine response) that increases muscle size and strength. Our workouts are designed to maximise these two systems in order to give you the best gains in the minimum time.

The Basics of Neurological and Hormonal Adaptation

As mentioned, your body uses two main types of adaptation – neurological and endocrinal (hormonal).

Neurological adaptation is when the body increases muscular efficiency via the nervous system. An example of this is using strength training to ‘teach’ the muscle to tense harder in order to produce more force.

The endocrine response, when triggered by exercise, is the release of chemicals into the body that will bring about a change or adaptation. Strength training to increase muscle size is an example of this – the athlete uses a heavy weight and in response the body releases hormones (testosterone, Growth Human and Insulin-like Growth Factors) in order to increase muscle size so that the body can cope with the weight better next time.

What Exercises Best Cause An Adaptational Effect?

Both these processes require a large amount of muscular participation and intensity in order to take effect. This is the key reason why traditional gym-based workouts workouts are inefficient – they largely rely on single joint exercises such as the bicep curl or leg extension or at worst use machines.

This is also the reason why squats, deadlifts and sprinting are the more efficient alternatives – they cause a far greater neurological and hormonal change in the body owing to their multi-joint nature i.e. they are more intense because they use more muscle groups.

Examples of Exercises That Have a Potent Adaptational Effect

As said before they are mostly multi-joint exercises and other high intensity activities. Here are a selection of some of them:

Bodyweight and Gymnastics

  • Bodyweight Squats
  • Push-ups
  • Pull-ups
  • Sit-ups
  • Dips
  • Handstand Push-ups
  • L-sits
  • Hanging Leg Raises
  • One-legged Squats
  • Muscle-ups
  • Presses to handstands
  • Handstands

Weightlifting

  • Deadlifts
  • Front, Back and Overhead Squats
  • Bench Press
  • Shoulder press, Push press and Push Jerk
  • Cleans
  • Snatches

“Cardio”

  • Rowing
  • Shadow Sparring
  • Sprinting
  • Heavy-bag work
  • Burpees
  • Jumping Rope

These are the exercises we teach you when you come to us. You may not even have heard of some of them, but thats even more of a reason to come and see us.

So, if you’re stuck in a fitness rut, or you just want get started on a decent program that’s actually going to deliver on it’s promises, then drop us a line and try out our free intro session at our Totnes based gym.

So, being as I own the place, this is where I work-out.

Today I ran through a pure strength workout consisting of Front Squats, Deadlifts and Overhead Presses and during the rest periods I got to thinking how cool my little gym in Totnes turned out.

Deadlift Start

I’ve got all the equipment I want, where I want it.

There’s a truck load of space to move about in (I even did a couple of cartwheels to prove a point!).

And best of all, unlike in other gyms, I get to listen to music I actually like (when you join us, let us know what you’re into and we’ll add it to the playlist!).

I also love the fact that after 5pm, the neighbours go home and then there’s masses of outdoor space right outside our front-door to play with.

All in all, I’m pretty excited with the whole thing!!

Now seemed like a good time to actually give you a little summary of what it is we actually do and how this makes our gym and personal training service in Totnes, Devon so special. So here goes…

The 10 Areas of Fitness
  1. Cardiovascular Endurance
  2. Stamina
  3. Speed
  4. Strength
  5. Power
  6. Flexibility
  7. Coordination
  8. Agility
  9. Balance
  10. Accuracy

Standard Gym-based workouts consisting of Cardio and isolation weight movements i.e. machines only, work 2-3 of these at the most. The movements have been simplified to such a degree that only limited stimulation can be achieved.

Working all of the above elements requires movements and workouts which require “coaching” and guidance. This is where we fit in.

The movements that work most effectively are Functional Exercises i.e. exercises that mimic the movements we use in everyday life such as running, lifting, throwing and climbing. Evolution and survival has programmed us this way.

So, we look at the world of sport where functional movements are trained to elite levels and by looking at which sports produce the strongest, fittest, best coordinated athletes, we find that the training methods of Sprinters, Gymnasts and Weightlifters are the most effective.

We then combine their training exercises and movements into high intensity, exciting workouts. These workouts are then timed or measured to compare future efforts against. The aim is constant improvement.

What then happens is that the reason why you exercise becomes more about performance and achievement and less about how you look – which ironically is when you start to get in shape the fastest and look and feel your best. Awesome.

We also realise that exercise is only part of the fitness puzzle and ultimately, we want to make you a happier, better person and to do this we also look at your nutrition and lifestyle.

We specialise in the implementation of a balanced and effective nutritional program that is proven to improve health and body composition. As with everything we do, we aim to educate you so that you can learn to do this stuff without us.

So, to finish with some buzzwords, what we offer is a Holistic Lifestyle Improvement Service Focusing on Fitness and Nutrition Within a Personal Training Environment!! …Cool.