So you want to get lean — Part 1

You’ve taken a long hard look in the mirror and decided enough is enough. You want the body of your dreams and it’s time to get lean. But where do you start?

If you’ve been following my recent posts, you’ll know that there are two fundamentals to getting lean.

  1. Establishing a negative energy balance
  2. Following a program of resistance training

First, without a negative energy balance, your body will not have to use stored energy to meet its daily energy demands. That’s why it’s critical that you understand your maintenance calories and establish an appropriate deficit.

Second, we’re not here to simply lose weight. If losing weight were the goal, we could sit in a room with minimal food and just wait it out. Trouble is, that approach would burn as much muscle as fat leaving you looking like a chewed-over bone. Our goal is stripping fat and preserving lean mass. Hence, we need a carefully crafted program of resistance training.

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Workout mistakes: Part 3 – You’re not eating to support your goals

In part 2 of this series, I covered the fundamentals of training and physique transformation to help get you focused on the things that matter most. In this post, we explore nutrition and eating to support your training goals.

Eating is an emotive subject, much abused in the industry with terms like “clean eating” and “eating healthily”. They make sense as abstract statements, but they do little to help you translate that into practical advice.

How has something so simple as eating to meet your needs become a veritable minefield and major cause of confusion for so many people?

Bombarded with vague, misleading and sometimes purposefully incorrect information, more and more people are struggling with diet and nutrition.

There always seems to be some new diet or eating protocol to follow, and even the common sense approaches have now been sufficiently debased so as to leave the most pragmatic among us confused.

Well I’m here to help, and with this post I plan to cover:

  • Energy balance
  • Understanding your maintenance calories
  • Food quality
  • The importance of consistency

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Restructure your thinking for success

Many aspects of our physique journey are hard. Long periods of hunger. Fluctuating scale weight. Clothes that no longer fit. Aches and pains. Let me show you how to think differently about these events and see progress and opportunity in everything.

But first, let’s clear something up. When you eat that cookie or skip that workout, you are making a conscious choice. Like it or not, in that moment, you value the gratification more than you value progress.

It doesn’t matter what it is. An evening with friends. That second glass of wine. For whatever reason you made a choice and your workout or diet didn’t win.

Yes, you can say it’s just one cookie or just one workout. But often, it’s not. One cookie often becomes two, or ten. One skipped workout creates a mental model that says it’s ok if you miss a session.

Now I’m not a food nazi, nor so boring or disciplined that I haven’t missed a workout or three. But when I am zoned-in on a goal, pretty much nothing derails me.

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Workout mistakes: Part 2 – You’re focused on the wrong things

In the first of this three part series, we talked in depth about the value of planning your workouts. In this post, I want to cover the fundamentals of training and physique transformation and help get you focused on the things that matter most.

For years I trained hard in the gym. Really hard. But the results just weren’t what I’d hoped for, especially considering the effort going in.

Over time, I came to realize that much of my time training was actually focused on the wrong things. Focusing on the minutiae and details, but not paying enough attention to the things that matter most.

Chances are, you are making many of the same mistakes. I see it all the time in the gyms I train in and in my conversations with people.

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Visualization: Unlock the power of your mind

Have you ever felt you were just going through the motions? Struggling to feel engaged with seemingly mundane aspects of your physique journey? Let me show you the purpose in what we do.

There’s a short story that goes around the corporate innovation and motivational circuits that I find truly inspiring. And told by the right person in the right setting, this story can transform your thinking, elevating your perspective from mundane to momentous.

Moreover, as a bodybuilder, I have found this tale to have deeper meaning in our efforts to transform our physique.

Let’s start with that story.

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Workout mistakes: Part 1 – You don’t have a plan

You’ve resolved to make a positive change in your life, hit the gym and transform your physique. Just don’t make one of these three big mistakes. Otherwise, your progress will likely be very short lived.

I’ve been going to the same gym now for about four years. One of the things that disappoints me the most is seeing the same people coming through the gym, year after year, and not making progress.

More worryingly, when I watch and talk to these people, they are all making one or more of the following three mistakes.

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Take a look in the mirror. What do you see?

Over the coming months, I’m going to give you the information you need to make a positive change in your life. A change rooted in the dramatic improvement of your physique and well-being.

Take a look in the mirror. What do you see?

My guess? At best you see average. At worst, you see someone who is twenty-something pounds overweight. Pot-bellied, soft and sloppy.

You’ll say “That’s judgemental and shallow“. But it’s not.

You’ll say “How I look is not a reflection of who I am“. But it is.

You’ll say “I’ve got my priorities in order“, with work and family taking top slot. But you haven’t.

Millennials are sitting behind desks 8 – 14 hours a day. They don’t sleep well and they don’t eat well. Our bodies are continuously bombarded with all the wrong forms of stress and society pacifies and coddles us into thinking this is all normal.

It’s not.

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Improve core strength with unilateral movements

Struggling to find time for your ab training? Not in love with ab training in general? In this post, I’ll show you how I exploit unilateral movements to improve core strength as part of my regular workout programming.

Frankly, I’ve never been one to do a lot of ab training, and as a result my core is definitely not as robust as I’d like.

I understand good core strength is important, and how that translates to a stable foundation for a whole host of other movements. I just don’t enjoy ab training.

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Workout: Full body, three day split

This week, I’ve been testing a new, full-body program; a simple affair run three days a week. And it tested pretty well.

Of course, it’ll be weeks or months before I can tell what it does, and there’s the real possibility I’ll still make a few small changes. But overall, it’s solid.

Both full body and three day splits are staples of workout programming, with just about every trainer and trainee having built and followed a similar program.

So why full body, and why the simple split?

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I owe you an apology

I just wanted to say sorry, James.

When we talk of diet and exercise, we often joke about bulking and cutting and generally have a bit of a laugh. It’s what we do.

And yet, deep down, we know there’s a more serious part to the conversation; I mean, health matters.

But mostly, we just let of steam, using humor and hyperbole to lighten the conversation and color our daily discretions.

But the other day, I let you down. You. My son. Someone I love more than life itself.

After poking fun at each other as we often do, the conversation changed. You were being sincere about wanting to shed a few pounds, lose some weight, get fit. You started to describe some perfectly reasonable steps as to how you’d do it, and I shot them down.

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