GymBug

I've caught it. Fortunately, it's not treatable.

Archive for the tag “strength”

MyProtein Discount!

Hi there!

After an amazing and indulgent weekend I’m back! My sister has (unfortunately) gone home and I’ve now got 3 weeks to kill before my next visitors to Madrid! I got a supply of protein delivered to me (good flavours, cheaper delivery to the UK) but miscalculated how many scoops I will need between now and my return home in May. So I looked to MyProtein to help me out! I managed to get £26.56 worth of protein related goodies for £12.52 today, including delivery!

MyProtein is absolutely brilliant for quality protein in great flavours for great prices. My sister and I both use it, my sister finds it is the only protein that doesn’t upset her stomach! I usually buy Chocolate Smooth but have gone for Unflavoured this time because it’s cheaper and I don’t mind the unflavoured version at all, so I might as well save a bit!

So, my order consisted of ;

1kg Unflavoured Whey Protein
9 x Pro Milk Zero Chocolate
MyProtein Blender Bottle

I then applied the following code;

20% entire order when you order certain “Goodies” (in this case it was the Pro Milk Zero -£2.63)
Automatic discount of the Pro Milk Zero (-£12.99)

Then just add £1.99 standard delivery and I had an amazing deal on protein!

I really recommend MyProtein!

Gym Bug

Note; this was no way sponsored by MyProtein, these voucher codes are accesible by anyone!

Macros

Hi there!

Discovered a brilliant image today on Facebook from The SFN Expo Facebook page. Macros are essentally your daily calori requirements, broken down into detailed calorie requirements for protein, fat and carbohydrates. Some people don’t like calculating macronutrients as they don’t feel it helps attain their fitness goals. However, if you’re interested in calculating your macronutrient requirements, you can do so following the steps below;

  1. Calculate your Total Daily Energy Expenditure
    (Weight in kilograms x 2.2) x (Number training hours per week + 9-12*)
    *you must select your intensity rate here for training, 9 being low intensity and 12 being high intensity)
  2. Calculate your protein requirements (in grams)
    Weight in kilograms x 2 grams (you can adjust this but try stay within 1.4-3.0)
    Multiply this by 4 to get calorie requirements from protein.
  3. Calculate your fat requirements (in grams)
    Weight in kilograms x 1 gram (adjustable but try keep this above 0.7)
    Multiply this by 9 to get calorie requirements from fat.
  4. Calculate your carbohydrate requirements (in grams)
    Total Daily Energy Expenditure- (Calories from protein + Calories from fat)
                                                          4
    Do not divide by 4 to determine your calorie needs from carbohydrates.
  5. Calculate your fibre intake (in grams)
    Total Daily Energy Expenditure
                      100
    It is advised to keep it at around 15g

I was curious about why you would consider calcuating your macros and found a great article on BodyBuilding. They give reasons to macro and reasons not to. I recommend reading the whole article on their website but the reasons are as follows;

Reasons to Macro;

1) You’re lean but you want to be leaner
2) You have no concept of what “enough protein” means
3) Your body signals are out of whack
4) You have a deadline to meet

Reason not to Macro;

1) Your neurosis gets you nowhere
2) You’re a macronutrient veteran
3) You just got your feet wet
4) You want to be healthy, not freaky shredded

There you have it! Macros all summed up. I calculated mine out of interest and my Total Daily Energy Expenditure is apparently around 1604 calories per day with workout intensity of 10, I do a lot of HIIT however, so when I shifted it to 12 (out of curiosity) it said I needed 1814 calories. I wrote a post recently about calorie calculators if you’re interested in seeing how different online calculators calculated my needs differently!

Have a great weekend!

Gym Bug

Alternative sources of protein

Hi there!

I drink protein shakes after any weight lifting sessions to help muscle repair and recovery. However, not everyone wants to do this or can (they aren’t great for people with sensitive stomachs, my stomach doesn’t always agree). So I thought to look for different sources of protein! I got these from Health online, which has recipes for each of these vegan/vegetarian alternatives.

  • Green peas; 7.9 grams of protein per cup.
  • Quinoa; 8 grams of protein per cup.
  • Nuts and nut butters; watch here, 1 ounce of almonds, cashews and pistachios (examples) have 160 calories BUT do contain 5-6 grams of protein.
  • Beans; these pack a fair protein punch, for example, there’s about 13 grams of protein per cup of kidney beans.
  • Chickpeas; 14.6 grams of protein per cup.
  • Tofu; 40 grams of protein per cup (you don’t need that much, go for half a cup).
  • Edamame; 16.8 grams of protein per cup.
  • Leafy greens; spinach, brocoli etc. 1 cup brocoli has 8.1 grams of protein per cup.
  • Chia seeds; these pack 4.7 gram of protein per ounce (about 2 tablespoons).
  • Sesame, sunflower and poppy seeds; sunflower seeds have 29.2 grams of protein per cup, sesame and poppy seeds have 21.6 grams of protein per cup.
  • Non-dairy milk; soy milk has most at 8 grams of protein per cup, almond, rice and hemp milk have around 1 gram of protein per cup.
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder; 1 gram of protein per tablespoon.

And there we have it! Some great alternatives to protein shakes for those who don’t like them, want them or can take them! A typical 25g scoop of protein with water yields about 100 calories and 25g of protein (some have more, I use MyProtein, GoNutrition or TheProteinWorks).

Do you have any great alternatives?

Gym Bug

I’m trying something new!

Hi there!

So I’ve decided to mix up my gym routine completely in an attempt to tone up more and put on more muscle mass. I’ve decided to now have “body part days” in the following format;

Day 1; leg and bum day
Day 2; arm, back and shoulder day
Day 3; cardio

I will then repeat this process again to maintain my usual 6 days a week at the gym!

I decided it was time to change up my routine and doing 3 days of cardio was seeing me not gain enough muscle mass (I was losing weight, didn’t want that). Mixing up also means more motivation as I’m not stuck doing the same again.

I shall keep any readers updated on how I think it’s going! First time I focus so much on my weight lifting!

Gym Bug

12 Days of Christmas

Hi there!

So Christmas is almost upon us! Which means chocolate, cake, alcohol/soft drinks and an incredibly indulgent Christmas dinner! Cannot wait! However, you don’t want to un-do heaps of hard work in a few weeks so here’s a little Christmas challenge! It’s the 12 Days of Christmas.

12 Days of Christmas will start on the 26th December. It’s the day after you’ve eaten until you literally can’t eat anymore. Presents have all been opened, merriment was had, games were played and everything. One thing? Time to get back to business. It’s not a difficult challenge at all. It’s just a way to keep motivated and do a little something each day to keep in the swing of exercise.

It’s very straightforward, there are 12 exercises listed below. Each day choose a different one and do 100 repetitions of it through the day. I plan on doing 10sets of 10 repetitions throughout the day sporadically. I’m not going to set an order because I think being told exactly what to do makes it so much easier to convince yourself not to do it.

The Moves

  • Push ups (modified or normal)
  • Tricep dips
  • Superman (Total of 10 minutes throughout the day)
  • Plank (Total of 10 minutes throughout the day)
  • Squats #
  • Calf raises
  • Kick-backs (100 each leg)
  • Bicycle crunches
  • Lunges (100 each leg)
  • Bridge
  • V-sits *
  • Side plank pulses (100 each side)- this is where you are in the side plank position, then pulse upwards 10 times each side. *

That’s it! 100 repetitions for 12 days! Not so hard right!? If you’re feeling adventurous, exercises with a * can be made harder with dumbbells and exercises with # can be made harder with a kettlebell.

Merry Christmas everyone and have a fabulous New Year! Posts will become more sporadic from now until after Christmas because I have exams and then I’m off home! I promise to try be as active (in more ways than one) as I can though.

Gym Bug

Slow or Fast; who wins this weights race?

Hi there!

Another weight training session today and I tried a slightly different technique based on some research I’d done. I got curious as to whether it was best to do fast repetitions or slow ones, so I researched it and tried out a slower routine today than normal.

Women’s Health Mag has discussed that both can have great benefits for the body. The key is the point in your training you’re at. If you’re a beginner, going fast will likely lead to injury. Going slow is also great if you’re looking to build strength. What you want to do is really focus on slowing down on the “release” stage of the lift. For example, doing a bicep curl, really focus on slowing the rate on the way down rather than on the way up.  By going too fast, too soon you risk injury to muscles and joints, especially if your technique isn’t quite on form. However, when performing the repetitions it’s best that you slow it down on the ‘release’ phase. I tried it today and I could definitely feel more of a burn, particularly with my abs. By doing the repetitions slower (for example, with a bicycle crunch) I could really feel my abs working hard.

Men’s Fitness also discuss this and state that lifting slow will see you develop more muscle mass. Again, it’s all about going slow on the ‘release’ phase of the repetition, this way you’re really working the muscles hard and developing more strength. Don’t worry ladies though, going slow won’t mean walking out the gym one day a bodybuilder, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it takes more than just lifting to get those types of muscles. Females lack testosterone, which is what’s needed to give you those bulging muscles. Always remember female bodybuilders or very muscular females are probably taking supplements to enable that type of muscle growth!

But does that mean fast isn’t beneficial? Not at all, however, it’s only wise to use faster repetitions when you’ve got the overall technique nailed down. This will help prevent injury. It’s also pertinent you’ve got muscle strength to maintain a safe technique whilst going through the more intense workout. By going faster you improve power and burn more calories but you need to be physically capable of maintaining a proper technique when more fatigued. By forcing the weight to move faster you’re using more energy, so you will notice you’re more tired, sweaty and out of breath by following this technique.  Be careful though!  Jerky, poor controlled movements will cause injury. You must remain in control of the weights to reap the rewards!

Here are a couple of exercises you can do both fast and slow;

  • Kettlebell Swings
  • Bicep Curls
  • Squats (maybe not too fast if you’re using a bar)
  • Push Ups
  • Bicycle Crunches
  • Tricep Dips

I’m going to do a session of 10 slow repetitions of different exercises, then next session try 15 repetitions in the same time frame for the same exercises. This way I’ll get to experience both! Hopefully it’s a new way to mix up my workouts. You should give it a try too!

Almost Friday. Keep going!

Gym Bug

Tough Mudder; Challenge Yourself

Hi there!

Today’s post is about Tough Mudder. I’ve already done one for Spartan Race as I have signed up to take on the challenge in 2015.
From experience I can tell you this is brutal and satisfying at the same time. You get to the first obstacle and fly through but by obstacle 5 and mile 6 fatigue is setting in. Your fellow competitors don’t run past aiming to cross the line before you, no, they stop and help. It’s not about the finish line, it’s about the race. A race you take on with your fellow runners, you help your fellow Mudder. This is not a marathon, you do not care about your time. You care about the journey.

The best, most exhilarating and challenging sporting event I have ever done. I completed it in 201 and 2014. It’s a 12-mile long obstacle course designed by the Special Forces. It challenges everything from team work to physical and mental strength.

Past participation has me convinced the worst obstacle is Arctic Enema. Literally, jump into an ice bath, go under a barrier and then back out. Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong. Your muscles start to seize up when you hit the water and the air goes out your lungs, but it’s fantastic, because it’s all about proving that you can do it. Don’t panic though, there’s loads of people there to help you through and drag you out if it’s too much.

It’s a brilliant day and it raises money for Help For Heroes! You’ll meet loads of like-minded fitness fanatics as well as the people just “giving it a go”. I can’t express how much fun it is and the orange head band and delicious, ice-cold pint at the end is a perfect ending to a long, tough, muddy run.

The best part is, is that it gives you a goal for training! It requires cardio fitness and full body strength to do well, so get going and get motivated! Your entry fee includes a Tough Mudder headband, special t-shirt, pint at the end, fuel during the run and the post run party! Also, if you have completed more than one of these events, you start collecting “Legionnaire” headbands, different colours represent the number of times you’ve tackled a Tough Mudder. I’ve got a green one since I’ve done it twice.

Think you’ve got it? Think you can earn your headband? Sign up!

They’ve got competitions in the UK, US, Australia and numerous other countries across Europe!

You’ll be sore the next day but you’ll wake up feeling awesome because you’re officially part of Mudder Nation.

It’s time to get Muddered!

Gym Bug

The importance of a well-earned rest

Hi there!

Sunday is my scheduled rest day and I thought it was an opportune time to do a post about why these rest days are so important for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I take one rest day a week (on average) but recommended exercise is between 3-6, so you can take more depending on your schedule, goals and other variables.

The type of recovery I’m discussing here is long-term recovery. Which refers to the scheduled planning of rest days throughout the exercise schedule. This will be the focus of the post.
Short-term recovery refers to the recovery immediately after your work-out and includes active recovery. Active recovery is doing low-intensity exercise to help the body recover immediately after intense exercise and also the days after.

So what makes them so important?

Professional athletes take rest days too. They appreciate the importance in allowing the body (and the mind) to recover, repair and strengthen. For those who do not complete on a professional level, it’ also a great way to maintain  a better balance amongst leisure, work and family life.
Recovery and rest is when the real training happens. Your body is able to adapt to the stress of exercise, replenish energy stores and repair damaged tissues (for example, the breakdown of muscle).

Not allowing for adequate recovery opens a very wide door for injury, fatigue and illness. Lack of recovery leads to overtraining. Continuous training can actually hinder your performance. Overtraining results in depression, lack of energy, feeling drained, muscle and/or joint pain, insomnia, headaches, decreased immunity, injury, loss of appetite amongst other things. Overall, rest days are critical if you want avoid overtraining. By going too hard, you risk taking yourself completely out of exercise for an extended period of time, which is exactly what you don’t want.
I can give a personal example of this when I engaged in solid rowing training for 7 days a week for weeks on end. By the time January rang around I was struggling to walk without considerable pain in my right leg. Two doctors appointments and a physio visit later, I was diagnosed with a Grade 2 Groin Strain. 8 physio sessions and weeks off of cardio had me feeling annoyed, frustrated and disappointed. Trust me, it’s not worth it.

Rest days are also good for you mentally. I can’t imagine anything worse than having to get to the gym every single day. Whilst I love the post-exercise feeling I do value being able to lie-in and relax a bit more on my rest days. It keeps the gy from being repetitive, monotonous and downright dull.

How should I incorporate it into my schedule?

There are different methods for incorporating rest days. You can do what I do and select a specific day to have off, changing it as required by your commitments. You can also just pick and choose week by week depending on your mood (I’d be wary of this, as you may end up taking more than planned).

Men’s Fitness have a great article about rest days and recovery for weight training. Whilst this is a male fitness magazine I think the principles are applicable to both genders in their weight training schedule. To sum the article up, they suggest having “deload weeks” every 4-6 weeks, where you reduce the intensity to allow the body to recover. They also recommend incorporating stretching, core exercises and bodyweight movements into these weeks.
They also suggest taking 1-2 weeks a year for “rest weeks”. Here they emphasise a focus on doing things you enjoy, not exercise. Go walking, hiking, leisurely cycle, socialise, etc. These are really for after very intense sessions such as a marathon. However, I think it’s a great addition to any workout calendar. You get to escape the gym!

Women’s Health Magazine (keeping the balance) also recommend rest days. They state that strength does not come from training, it comes from the body rebuilding itself after the training. Their recommendations for rest and recovery include 1-2 rest days a week, alternating between intensities (e.g HIIT one day a week, endurance another), nourish your muscles (sleep right, eat right, stretch).

Again, rest days are needed, being a “gym rat” will not see you lose weight faster. It’s possible you may even retain more weight. Exercise releases the stress hormone cortisol which encourages fat storage. If you put your body under intense stress 7 days a week, you’re increasing the levels of cortisol in the body, encouraging your body to hold onto precious fat as a survival instinct.

Active recovery is a good way to allowing your body to recover too. On your rest day you could go for a walk as a way to get out the house, get some fresh air etc. You can also engage in low-intensity classes such as pilates and yoga. This way you are allowing recovery without any need to feel guilty. However, having a rest day is  NECESSITY so guilt shouldn’t really come into it (but I get that it can). Personally, especially when I’m home, I do some form of active recovery because I own a dog, so I walk him.

So, evidence has proven you do not need to confine yourself to a gym 7 days a week! Rejoice!

Hope everyone is having a great weekend and preparing to crack open their advent calendars tomorrow!

Gym Bug

Sources;

http://sportsmedicine.about.com/cs/overtraining/a/aa062499a.htm

http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/sampleworkouts/a/RestandRecovery.htm

http://www.builtlean.com/2012/06/05/overtraining/

 

 

 

Recovery Foods

Hi there!

Hard, intense workouts of the cardio or strength training variety should leave you feeling pretty drained and eventually hungry. If you’re like me, you’re not hungry immediately after a workout, but give it 20-30minutes and the hunger kicks in and it’s intense! It’s necessary to fuel your body up 1-2 hours after working out in order to help muscles repair and your body to maintain function. It’s best to get a good mix of protein, carbs and healthy fats.

After most of my workouts I’ll eat a bowl of porridge (I prefer exercising first thing in the morning) and on occassion I’ll have a salad packed with rommaine lettuce, white beans/lentils, cucumber and olives. I also have MyProtein Chocolate Smooth Whey Protein after strength training days. However, this isn’t foreveryone, so below I’ve listed some great recovery foods to have after the gym.

  • Chocolate milk (especially handy for people on the go) with a banana
  • Cottage cheese on rye bread (cottage cheese is good for protein)
  • Scrambled eggs (protein, protein, protein) pair it with some wholemeal bread or rye bread!
  • Peanut butter on wholemeal toast or rye bread
  • Coconut water and a banana (great for restoring electrolytes)
  • Avocado stuffed with cottage cheese and tomato
  • Avocado on wholemeal toast/rye bread
  • Spinach salad with chicken
  • Sliced apple with peanut butter and raisins
  • Tuna salad or sandwich
  • Smoothie with oats and greek yoghurt
  • Greek yoghurt, chopped banana, topped with some nuts

These are just a couple of great ideas that combine carbs, fats and proteins to help your body recover and make sure you’re ready to tackle the next workout! Remember to try keep carbs as wholegrains and DRINK PLENTY OF WATER. Rehydrating is vital and consistently drinking water through the day is an excellent habit to develop. Always try keep a water bottle to hand.

Hope you had a great weekend!

Gym Bug

Weights in a workout

Hi there!

So, about 1 year ago I went to the gym with my older sister (who will be doing a special post about Cross Fit soon). It was Christmas holidays at the time and I had returned a little bit on the lighter side. I had just started rowing and the competition was intense, and it saw many weekly weigh ins and “weight adjusted times”, essentially my worst nightmare. I watched my weight plummet from a healthy 64kg to 54kg in a shocking space of time. I was in trouble from my family. I wasn’t “underweight” but I wasn’t a healthy weight either. The speed of the weight loss was also a negative factor. I didn’t look good; I had no curves, was a bit drawn, pale, tired, boney, etc. It wasn’t good, I turned it around it though when my sister introduced to me to weight lifting.
Now, initially I thought “But I don’t want to get super muscly”, I can’t even believe I’d thought it, it was a silly thought. My sister promptly put me right as well.
The issue is that I will not be the only one who thought that and people will still think it today. Something everyone should understand is weight lifting will NOT make you look like a body builder unless you force it to. Body builders take things to induce that kind of muscle definition.

Studies have shown that by just introducing 2 weight lifting sessions into your workout can vastly improve metabolic rate. Why? Because muscle burns more calories than fat! You can get toned, lean muscles with burns more calories than fat, so you get increased metabolism and a healthier physique.

Now, when I say weight lifting, I don’t necessarily mean pumping iron with the big boys who are huffing and puffing with their giant olympic bars. You can use the controlled weights (which I do). You also don’t need to lift excessively heavy. Here’s one of my weight lifting sessions as an example;
Note; 3 sets 12 x 20kg = 3 sets of 12 repetitions at 20kg)

  • Seated Cable Row (Upper back); 3 sets of 12 x 20kg
  • Leg Press (Thighs, glutes, calves); 3 sets 10 x 100kg
  • Easy Delts Pull Ups (Centre back, biceps, shoulders); 3 sets 12 x 30kg
    (It’s an assisted pull ups machine, you select a ‘supporting’ weight, so I’m supported by 25kg, so I’m pulling 35kg of my own body weight)
  • Calf Rotations (Calves); 3 sets 15 x 40kg
  • Easy Delts Tricep Dips (Triceps, chest); 3 sets 12 x 35kg
    (Here I use the same machine as pull ups but I’m going down, in a tricep dip motion)
  • Lower back (Lower back); 3 sets 15 x 1kg
  • Shoulder press (Shoulders(; 3 sets 15 x 15kg
  • Plank (Core); 3 sets 15 seconds
  • Bicep curls; 3 sets 12 x 20kg
  • Oblique crunch with kettlebell (Obliques); 6 sets 15 x 16kg (3 sets each side)
  • Arm extension (Triceps); 3 sets 12 x 40kg
  • Reverse crunch (Lower abdominals); 3 sets 15 reps
  • Chest press (Chest, shoulders, triceps); 3 sets 12 x 20kg
  • Bicycle crunches (Abdominals); 3 sets 15 reps
  • Lat Machine (Lats, or the muscle around your ribs, back); 3 sets 10 x 35kg

This kind of workout takes me roughly 45 minutes to 1 hour. Make sure to stretch after!

Now, I used lift free weights; squatting, deadlifting, bent over rows, cable flys etc but I stopped once I got injured and have found that I save time by using the controlled weights. Time I need to save to fit in studying and things, but body weight or free weights are great ways of developing strong, lean muscles too. A key thing to be aware of with controlled weights however is that you don’t plateau. You’ve got to move out your comfort zone and increase the weights to see a difference and improve toning!

As always though, if you’re unsure about anything ask instructors and trainers. It can be very dangerous if you start lifting without proper technique, even using the controlled weights. If it’s your first time, don’t go for what you think you can lift, go a couple of kilos below that, make sure you’ve nailed the technique, then focus on lifting more. Practice makes perfect.

If you become super serious about weight training and do it often, also make sure you’re packing the protein to maintain muscles and aid recovery. I currently use My Protein Chocolate Smooth Impact Whey. It comes in a fantastic range of flavours and students get 10% if they go through My Student Beans and have an active University account.

So that’s it! Weights are a great way to mix up a workout as well. I alternate between a cardio day and a weights day to keeps things interesting. Tomorrow will be a weights day for example. It breaks up the monotony of cardio, and since doing solid cardio got me in trouble last year it has helped me put on weight. However, I’ll admit I’ve lost too much again, but I’m working on sorting that. Packing my protein and healthy fats!

I’ll make sure to do a post about body weight exercises soo for those who don’t use a gym.

Have a great week everyone!

Gym Bug

P.S Any machines names you didn’t know, check out Technogyms list of products to see photos, my gym (and many, many others) stock their products, so it’s likely you’ll have access to similar machines at your gym.

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