Archive for May, 2010

4 Things You Need to Know

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

1.      Glycemic Index (GI)
Refers to the different effects carbohydrates have on blood glucose levels. Foods that are labelled high GI will spike insulin and blood glucose levels. Sounds like a bad thing? Yes it can be detrimental to health if blood glucose levels are consistently high; however, spiking insulin levels after intense exercise (when the muscles need replenished) will help the recovery process. Further, GI levels will vary depending on factors such as what foods are mixed together and if food has been frozen or not.

2.      When to Train
The simple fact is anytime is a good time to train. There are arguments that training in the morning on an empty stomach will burn more fat than training later in the day because in the morning the body has limited carbohydrate stores and quickly turns to fat as a fuel source. Whether or not the body utilizes fat as a fuel source more rapidly in the morning is debatable because intensity dictates what muscle fibres and fuel source the body uses, but what is most notable is that a fasted body will not perform as optimally as a non fasted body. A viewpoint that suggests only training later in the day is argued because the spine compresses as the day goes on, therefore placing heavy loads on the spine in the early morning (when it has decompressed in your sleep) could put your back at risk.  Each argument makes sense, but it’s something only bodybuilders (who need to maintain every ounce of muscle) and power-lifters (who place extreme loads on the spine) should worry about. Bottom line: train when you can.

3.      The Best Thing for Fat Loss Is…
…Knowing that there is not a best thing. All too often people look for a secret to success; a new gadget, a new diet or what the celebs are doing. What we should do is try to apply a bit more common sense and perhaps a little physiology. What’s best for burning fat; a bike, treadmill or kettlebell?The truth is it comes down to what intensity you apply on the machine, not what machine you use. So you’ve got anterior knee pain? Maybe it’s time to stop the running, rehab the overactive Illiotibia Band and utilize kettlebells as a means of fat loss as using them correctly will burn up the calories and help strengthen all parts of the body. Remember there are three key things you need to address for long term fat loss success; nutrition, resistance training and cardiovascular training.

4.      Plan Progress
This is absolutely essential for success. You’ve decided it’s time to build muscle. Great! So how are you going to go about it? Think about it: one day if you decided you wanted to travel to London would you leave the house and see what happens? Or would you decide if you were going to fly, drive or take the train (choose equipment)?  Then you’d find out travels times and map out the times/route (set goals and choose methods) in your head -step by step. It’s the same with training, each and every session should have a goal because this will increase motivation to complete sessions and allow you to see performance improvements. If you are progressively increasing loadings do you think that will help prompt your body to change?

The Age of the Hunchback

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

In 2009 I posted an article titled ‘Walk Tall’.  The Article is all about the ‘hunchback’ and how to aviod the medical condition known as Kyphosis.

I can’t stress how important it is to train the shoulders properly. Far too often it is the case that guys are performing hundreds of reps per week with an internally rotated humerus and tightening up muscles (such as the pecs, lats and upper traps) that pull the humerus forward and ‘wing’ the scapula. This can all lead to Kyphosis:

1. Normal Spine 2. Spine with kyphosis


At least the guys that are training their way to an excessively curved spine can, perhaps, claim that they didn’t know they should balance their regime with in/ex rotation in joints. People that  are constantly in the hunched position must surely be aware that it will lead to problems, right?

Human – business evolution

For corrective exercises on how to fight against thoracic flexion checkout my ‘Walk Tall’ Article.

Here is three essential tips you must be doing when you perform your usual routine:

  1. Keep your chest out and chin tucked.
  2. Analyse your program: how many total reps is there with your humerus internally rotated and how many externally rotated?
  3. Blitz the lower traps (scap push ups, prone trap raises, seated low row etc).

Do all of the above and you’ll be on the right path to fixing your shoulders and building a bigger stronger frame!

Of course, if you do everything and then spend hours studying at a computer like the guy below then it’s all for nothing. 


I should mention that the above photo was taken by my trusty BlackBerry of a friend and fellow rugby player. Of course his permission was obtained before posting this article, but the point is: this guy is a regional age grade rugby player and highly sought after by some top amateur clubs in Scotland, yet his weak upper back could be his limiting factor. In fact, last season he picked up a shoulder niggle (common where an imbalance exists)…Bottom line, until he builds up strength in external rotation and the upper back he won’t be maximizing his potential.

Don’t let everyday life or an imbalanced training program drag you down (literally). Check through my 2009 article for corrective exercises and apply the three steps in this post to help you avoid the age of the hunchback.

Train Smart,


Bounce Week Time Saver Part 3

Friday, May 14th, 2010

As you know by now this week is an unscheduled and non programmed bounceweek in my training (which is a rare occurrence). Today was more of a ‘cardio’ day and I decided to head up to St Andrews and bust out a body weight conditioning session. Admittedly I had more time to train today; however, I was still set on doing a short, sharp and effective workout.

Here is what went on today:

Press ups x 10
Mountain Climbers x 10 each side
Single Leg Squats x 5 each side
Burpees x 10
Press ups x 10
V ups x 10
X band Walks x 10 each side

I completed this 6 times taking 30 seconds rest in between circuits. Then I moved on to 6Om temp runs using a variation of the ‘TABATA PROTOCOL’.
To do the temp runs simply find a 6Om space and get from the start to the finish in 10secs. Then wait 10secs and go again until you have completed four minutes.
Sound easy? Remember the aim is to consistently cover the 6Om in 10seconds or less…


Train Hard,


Bounce Week Time Saver Part 2

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Today I am half way through a bounce week and it’s almost time to go to war on the lower body.

At the moment I am nursing a back ‘niggle’ (a marking of a completed rugby season) that is partially due to my overactive piriformis muscle (a muscle that is buried deep in the glutes):

This basically means that my warm ups are long and the big lifts are out. That’s right, no deadlifting or squating! Only single leg work and…calf work. (When needs must.)

Here is the bounce session I will do today:

1. BB Split Squats  4 sets of 12,10,8,6

2a. SB leg Curls (single leg eccentric) 5×10 e/side
2b. Calf Raise 100reps with 100kg (as many sets as I need)

3a. Chest height cable wood-chops 3×10 e/side
3b. Reverse Crunch                            3 x 10

That’s it. Not what I’d normally do but that’s what bounce sessions (and carrying a slight injury) is all about.

Train Hard,


Bounce Week Time Saver Sessions

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

This training week represents a bit of a bounce week for me. You see, normally each block, month and week is planned with all the different training variables accounted for. (If you didn’t know already – I’m a big fan of planning progress.)

This week I found myself at the end of a loading week and I had planned a deload week before I start my hypertrophy block; however, I had (and still have) so much energy and well…flat out aggression, that I decided to add in a bounce loading week.

Basically the plan is to absolutely demolish the weights, sprints and everything in-between over the next six days.

This is good for you because it means I’ll be posting some cool workouts that:

  1. Are aimed at glycogen depletion.
  2. Give you HUGE pumps which put you in an anabolic state.
  3. Save you lots of time so that you can get on with your life!

Here is what I did today:

1a. Narrow Bench Press    3 x 6
1b. Dips                                    3 x 8

2a. Chin Ups            3 x 6
2b. Incline Curls   3 x 8

3a. Lateral Raise   3 x 12
3b. Reverse Fly     3 x 12

As it is a bounce week for me I do not follow any specific rest guidelines or tempos – I simply feel out the training. Meaning, if I feel I can get the reps in then I stop resting.

Lookout for some more time saving supersets on the lower body tomorrow.

Until then,


May: Exercise of the Month

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

The Chin Up

No other subject would be better for my first blog post than the dominator of upper back development.

Last month featured an extremely basic upper body exercise that most people need to do more often and this month is no different. May is all about developing another staple in the FMT training system: the Chin Up.

The Chin Up is the ultimate relative strength move because it involves negotiating the full weight of the body. With the Chin Up there is less wiggle room for error than in the press up. For example, you could go into a gym right now and ask ten different people to perform a standard press up. Out of those ten people you would probably see anywhere between 5-10 different techniques of performing the press up. Some guys would have their hips too high, others their elbows would flare out and some people would be doing half press ups! In a Chin Up, your strength is more transparent. You can either bring your chin over the bar or you can’t.

This exercise is not just a good indicator of relative strength; it is also a great muscle builder and shoulder stabilizer movement. It is often the case that I use the Chin Up to help activate a client’s lower traps (which help stabilize the scapula). To do this simply perform a Chin Up, and at the top push your chest out while squeezing your shoulder blades down and in. In this scenario I prescribe an isometric hold at the top of the movement for three seconds before descending. (You’ll notice in the video my first two reps are with a hold at the top).

The reason the Chin Up is such a good muscle building exercise is because it’s a compound movement and a substantial amount of strength is a prerequisite if you apply the traditional submaximal method of 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps (otherwise known as hypertrophy training). Of course, the Chin Up can be utilized in other reps ranges too.

It is worth mentioning that some people confuse the Chin Up (performed with shoulder width grip and hands in a supine, or turned in, position) with a Pull Up. In a Pull Up the hands are placed 1.5 of shoulder width and are in a pronated, or palms out, position which puts the shoulder under more strain. The Pull Up has its place, but that’s another article for another time.

FMT Variations for Beginners:

  • Lateral pull-downs.
  • Single arm lateral pull-downs.
  • Full eccentrics, building up the seconds each week.
  • Assisted Chin Up (using a band, a partner, or a machine).

FMT Variations for Intermediates:

  • Chin Up.
  • Chin Up with iso-hold at top.
  • Weighted Chin Up.

FMT Variations for Advanced Trainees:


  • One handed Chin Up.

For beginners I like to use eccentric chins because it gets people use to handling their body weight. Regardless of whether you are an intermediate or advanced lifter I would keep this as a main movement exercise on an upper body day (or back day depending on your training split).