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Hey guys, how have you been?

In the words of Aaron Lewis “It’s been a While..”

Well, it has on the TBS Blog anyway…

If you’ve been on the TotalBodySculpture Facebook page or over at our Website, you will have seen all the things we’ve been up to, including my nomination as one of the Top 10 Personal Trainers in the World, which led to me being flown out to Barcelona to showcase my skills and knowledge!

A brilliant experience and I can say I met some incredible people during my trip, as well as sampled the great food (and red wine) of Bar-ce-looonaaa -sang in my very best Freddie Mercury voice!!

However, i’ve also managed to throw up some new articles on kettlebells, sand bags and loads of other content!

The best way to stay in the loop is to join a couple of 1000 others and join the TBS Newsletter. In fact, joining now will ensure you get on the list for my brand new daily email, which will be going out on Monday, with access only available until the end of the year, before going to an invitation only newsletter. So head over to the website at http://www.totalbodysculpture.com and ht the sign up page whilst you still can!

Fit-Chef Muscle Burgers w/Spicy Salsa

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Ingredients

Burger Mix

  • 450g Turkey Mince
    2 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped
    50g Mushrooms. finely chopped
    2 Spring Onions, finely chopped
    3 Shallots, finely chopped
    1 Red Chilli, finely chopped
    2 small Gherkins, finely chopped
    1 Egg White
    1/2 cup Wholegrain Oats, finely blended
    1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
    Salt & Pepper to taste
    4 Ice Cubes, crushed into chips

Spicy Salsa

  • 1 Roasted Red Pepper, coarsley chopped
  • 3 Vine Tomatoes, coarsley chopped
  • 3 Small Gherkins, coarsley chopped
  • 1 Hot Red Chilli, coarsley chopped

Method

*Pan fry shallots, mushrooms & garlic for 3-4 minutes
*In a separate bowl, add the turkey, chilli, cayenne pepper, gherkins, egg white, spring onions & the mushroom mixture together with the blended oats
*In a large griddle pan, heat a tablespoon of coconut oil on a medium heat.Image
*Form the mixture into 6 burgers, adding a few ice chips into the middle of each burger.  The ice will ensure that the burgers are moist in the middle
*Cook the burgers for 5 minutes, then turn each burger 90°. This will increase your ‘Fit Chef’ qudos with professional looking crosses.
*Cook for further 4-5 minutes before turning the burgers over, repeating the above.
*Ensure the burgers are cooked through.
*For the salsa, roughly chop all the ingredients & add cracked black pepper.

2013: The Journey Begins

So this year i’ll be competing at the Miami Pro British Championships, as well as trying to qualify for the UKBFF British Finals, both of which are in October.

Depending upon my size & condition leading up to October, i will be competing in either the Fitness Model category, or Muscle Model for the Miami Pro and in the Men’s Physique category in the UKBFF.

I will also be considering my options after these competitions and may compete in the WBFF European Championships in Iceland or Denmark in November.

At the moment i am still in maximal growth mode, eating as much as possible & training with a varying rep range programme. I have taken elements of my EvO:XD training programme and utilise them throughout the week, training each body part twice a week. This may seem like a lot, but the workouts are quite short, always less than an hour and I find the extra volume works for me, particularly for chest, shoulders and legs.

Usually, i like to remain a good level of leanness throughout the year, using carb-cycling to minimise any fat-gains made during a bulking period. However, this time around i have decided to try and add as much mass as possible & see how much of a difference it will make to not only my overall muscle gains, but also my strength. Now this can be a problem for photoshoots & fitness modelling, as there is obviously a lack of definition using this method & the longer term goal has to be kept in mind everytime you look in the mirror and decide you are going to cut up. I’ll come back to this point, but suffice to say it has been hard & i have to look at myself as a powerlifter & not a fitness model at the moment. This is mainly due to a growing desire to compete at a powerlifting competition. Now, i don’t think i’m any kind of world beater & i wouldn’t be looking to win & step up to Worlds Strongest Man anytime in the next 250 years, but if i can hit a few PB’s and do the best that i can, i’ll be ecstatic.

So, with alll the above taken into account, I did a photoshoot on Monday with physique photographer, Brian Selway. Below is a shot from the session, one i particularly like as it shows that the growth face is definitely working, for my traps/back anyway haha!

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Another reason for the photoshoot was this blog. I am going to be doing a photoshoot every month with Brian to record my progress going through to the competitions. This will serve a purpose, not only for my own monitoring purposes, but will also show the different stages throughout a competition preparation. There will also be other photoshoots, images of which i will post here, i’m also looking to try & get behind-the-scenes videos of some of them!

Along with the photoshoots, i’ll also be doing a video blog at the end of the month, basically talking about how i have felt the month has gone, what the coming months will bring etc. I am also looking at filming as many gym sessions as possible, showing typical gym sessions as the year progresses.

So as you can see, it’s going to be a busy year, so focus & determination are key! Here’s to a great 2013!!

Top 10 Nutritional Myths

This article is taken from the ebook “Nutrition: The Basics & Beyond”. For the full ebook, visit the TBS Store.

Don’t drink alcohol. Avoid eating eggs. Eating carbohydrates late at night makes you fat. We’ve all heard these pieces of nutritional advice for years – but just how accurate are they?

10. Eating carbohydrates makes you fat.
Cutting carbs from your diet may have short-term weight loss benefits due to water loss from a decrease in carbohydrate stores, but eating carbs in moderation does not directly lead to weight gain. The body uses carbs for energy, and going too long without them can cause lethargy. The notion of cutting carbs out of your diet exclusively comes from diets such as The South Beach Diet, The Atkins Diet, The Zone Diet and calls for zero carb intake. Many people have lost weight using these diets. The problem is that using fat & proteins as your source of energy for prolonged periods of time is unhealthy and dangerous. Ketones are by products of protein synthesis and have a low pH level. Increasing their presence within the blood stream will cause the blood to become acidic, leading to Ketonic Acidosis. Moderating carbs, cycling carbs & even minimising carbs for short periods of time can be very beneficial and are concepts that Ii regularly utilise for photo-shoots and also for clients, whether they are looking to lose weight for general health or for competition. However, carbohydrates from healthy sources, with a good amount of fibre are not only beneficial in health terms, but will also help with weight control.

9. Eat frequently to maintain your metabolic rate.
In the section Energy Expenditure we talked about the Thermic effect of food (TEF). Each time you eat, metabolic rate increases slightly for a few hours.  It also takes energy to break down and absorb energy. However, the amount of energy expended is directly proportional to the amount of calories and nutrients consumed in the meal[1]. So if you eat a large meal, the amount of energy expended would be large, but would then taper off over time.  If you were to eat the same amount of calories, split up over 2 meals, the energy expended would be exactly the same, except the peak in energy expenditure would be lesser and over a lesser period for each smaller meal.  It is more about total calories and the ratios of macronutrients, than the size of the portions ingested.

8. It is better to eat 5-6 smaller meals to control your hunger.
This statement is something we have often heard & still seems prevalent today.  Yet, despite so many people living by this notion, the amount of research supporting this, is scarce at best.  Of the studies alluding to this theory, many have involved clinically obese subjects [2], & the application to the real world environment is less than appropriate [3]. In fact, recent research suggests that eating 3 larger meals is more beneficial than eating more frequent smaller meals.  Above all, meal frequency is individual and takes into account things such as appetite, lifestyle and daily routine.  Current research with a normal meal pattern and protein intakes that are closer to what can be seen in a typical diet, suggests superior appetite control when eating fewer and larger meals [4].

7. Eating 5-6 smaller meals control blood sugar levels.
We are not so different to our caveman ancestors, granted, the majority of us have a little less body hair, but from a biochemical perspective, little has changed.  Back in caveman times, balancing your blood sugar levels over the day was not exactly high on the priority list, more chucking spears at woolly mammoths  & sabre tooth tigers.  You couldnt just grab a bite to eat from the fridge.  People seem to believe they will suffer severe hunger and mental impairment from not eating every so often, in fact ive heard bodybuilders and fitness models complain Im running on empty, I feel so weak just because they havent had a meal in 2 hours!  Maintaining blood sugar is a priority, as we discussed in the Macro Nutrients section.  However, because of this, the body has developed efficient pathways that will make it happen even under extreme conditions. If you were to fast for 23 hrs and then go for a 90 min run at 70-75% VO2max, your blood sugar after the run would be identical to the same run performed after eating a meal. It takes at least three days or 84 hours [5] of fasting to reach blood sugar levels low enough to affect your mental state and even this is temporary, as your brain adapts to the use of ketones. Studies have shown that during 48 hours of fasting, or severe calorie deprivation, blood sugar is maintained within a normal range no measure of cognitive performance is negatively affected [6].

6. Fasting causes the body to go into starvation mode.
To say that missing a meal here & there can be classed as starvation is not only incorrect from a biological perspective, I actually find it offensive when there are people in developing countries that truly are starving.  If we go back to the caveman ancestors I mentioned above, adaptation was a very important key to survival.  The lowering of our metabolic rate in times of starvation was how we survived.  But this is when the term starvation actually meant just that, not skipping a meal for 24 hours!  Looking at experiments studying the effects of starvation, the earliest responses found from a metabolic sense occurred after 60 hours [7]. That is nearly 3 days!!  Other studies debunk the myth even further, showing that metabolic rate is actually increased in short-term fasting [8,9]. So next time youre stressing because you havent eaten for 3 hours, maybe you are actually doing your body a favour!

5. The body can only absorb 30 grams of protein in one sitting.
Once again, we return to our caveman ancestors to debunk a myth which has somehow invaded the bodybuilding & fitness fraternity and remained for far too long.  Ask yourself the question, if we were only able to absorb 30 g of protein in any one meal, how would our ancestors of tackled the large amounts of protein in mammoth steaks (literally!)? The simple truth is that more protein just takes a longer time to digest and be utilised. Studies have shown that the digestion of a standard meal is still incomplete after five hours, amino acids still being released into the blood stream and the body still anabolic[10]. This common misconception regarding protein intake is based upon a study done by Boirie (1997)[11],  this study found that 30 g of whey protein was ingested in 3-4 hours.  Unfortunately many took this to mean that, to maintain a positive nitrogen balance, 30 g of protein must be ingested every 3-4 hours, which is not what the study demonstrated.  The subjects in this study ingested the protein fasted, meaning there was no delay in the digestion of the protein used in the study.  Also, whey protein was used.  Whey is a fast acting protein (see Macro Nutrient section), being digested faster than any other protein source at 10 g per hour.  When combined with other food stuffs, such as fats, the digestion becomes slower.  Casein protein, the slow acting protein we discussed in the Protein section is digested much slower (in fact in Boiries study, it was still being digested at the end of the experiment, 7 HOURS later!).

4.  Eat protein every 2-3 hours to maintain positive nitrogen balance.
This myth is based upon the same rubbish from the statement above.  As people believed that you were only able to absorb 30 g of protein at any given time, you must take on another 30 g 3-4 hours later, otherwise you would be running on empty.  As I explained earlier, it can be all too easy to take a study and interpret the results incorrectly.  This myth is complete and utter rubbish & the sooner everyone realises it, the better!
Dont be like Batman or The Rock!

3. Skipping breakfast is bad and will make you fat.
This argument has been made popular by many cereal companies (I wonder why??) & one large study is often referred to, to back up such claims [12].  Unfortunately, the only results that particularly study shows, is that people who eat breakfast seem to have better control over their dietary intake and are less likely to eat over their calorific needs overall, than those that skip breakfast and then subsequently pig out on high sugar, high fat foods.  Ministry of the bleedin obvious or what? Another argument that is made for not skipping on breakfast is we are more insulin sensitive in the morning[13], this is true. But then you are always more insulin sensitive after an overnight fast. Or rather, you are always the most insulin sensitive during the first meal of the day!  Insulin sensitivity is increased after glycogen depletion and if you haven’t eaten for 8-10 hours (recommended duration of sleep), liver glycogen is modestly depleted. This is what increases insulin sensitivity – not some magical time period during the morning hours.  This is also the case with resistance training. Insulin sensitivity is increased as long as muscle glycogen stores aren’t full, which is typical after a 1 hour session of PT with me!  It doesn’t disappear if you omit carbs after your workout.

2. If you train on an empty stomach, you’ll lose muscle and have no strength.
This statement is based upon research done on sports performance during fasting periods such as Ramadan, using aerobic exercise [14].  The problem with this type of research is that, when taken out of context, people will be misinformed.  As we discussed in the Water: Importance of Hydration section, dehydration can lead to a serious drop in performance (just 5% dehydration can lead to a 30% drop in fact).  Fluid restriction will cause a drop in performance, as was shown in the study above, this is proven.  However, the majority of us should be taking on enough fluids to compensate for any losses due to exercise, not something that can be done in a study relating to Ramadan!  It is also worth mentioning that those participating in weight training, an anaerobic form of training, are not effected in the same way as the subjects in the Ramadan study [15] .
Studies have also shown that lower intensity exercise and strength training, without fluid restriction are also unaffected, even after 3.5 days of fasting [16]. This is further supported by recent research on fasted training [17].

1. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch a queen, dinner like a pauper.
In a way, this myth is also related to another outrageous belief that eating carbohydrates late in the evening will turn you into a toad.  Ok, not quite that, but if you were to proclaim that you had finished your evening workout and were now off to eat a couple of jacket potatoes, the gasps of shock & disbelief you would be met with would be deafening!  Where the notion of post 6pm carbs = food of the devil is anyones guess, but it probably comes from the idea that any carbs you dont use straight away are stored as fat.  A sound concept, to a point, yet easily debunked nonetheless.  Earlier I mentioned that the total amount of calories you ingest over the day is the most important thing in terms of the TEF.  Well, the same is applicable when it comes to the times you eat.  If you have fasted throughout the day and then eat a meal high in carbs late in the evening, your body is not going to store the calories ingested as fat, whether they are sourced from fat, carbs or protein, unless you are eating above the amount required.  Studies relating to those observing Ramadan have shown favourable changes to body composition when feasting at night after a day of fasting [18]. Also, if maintaining muscle is your goal, you may be interested to learn that a study comparing subjects eating a large breakfast to those eating a large meal late in the evening showed those eating earlier in the day lost more weight than those eating later. However, the loss in weight was due to a drop in lean mass (muscle), with the later eaters maintaining their lean mass [19].

For information regarding references, further chapters mentioned or if you would like further information, please use the contact page on the website.  “Nutrition: The Basics & Beyond” ebook is available on the TBS Store for a special introductory price of £8.99.

EvO-XD: Back & Traps

Over the past few days i’ve unfortunately been snowed under with work & have been unable to get to the gym like i had wanted to.  So today i made the effort to get in & catch up the back workout I had missed out on earlier in the week.  I’m still playing around with small aspects of the training system, however everything is starting to fall in to place & today I really looked forward to trying out some things on 2 of my favourite bodyparts to train, back & traps!

At the moment I am using a simple small pad of paper & pen (old school shall we say!) to keep a track of the weights i am using, intensity levels etc.  However, I am hoping in the future I shall be able to develop an app for both android & iphone handsets, which will do all of that & so, so much more!

The problem I have training my back at my current gym is the lack of variety & accessories available, as well as the quality of them.  I have tried work arounds these small problems, even requested certain things, however they were dismissed. So, to end my small frustrations I went away & bought these things myself.  Now, you will more than likely have things like V-Bar attachments in your gym, however almost all the attachments in my current gym are of nylon material & unfortunately have seen much better days.  As i like to do alot of pullup work when I am training my back, using various angles etc, i felt a few pounds was not much to invest in something which would definitely last.  So, below is an example of what I purchased, along with the dipping belt I also invested in to add resistance to my pull up work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Armed with myequipment, i knew the next 55mins were going to be tough & I wouldn’t of had it any other way.  As I only had an hour to spare, I wanted to be in & out in the that time.  Here is a run down of the exercises I used today.

 

  • Pull Ups (Wide-Grip)
  • Pull Ups (Close Grip w/ V-Attachment)
  • Single Arm Cable Rows
  • Lat Pull Downs
  • Seated Dumbbell Shrugs
  • Behind back Smith Machine Shrugs

Have to say that I really pushed the levels, going beyond failure a couple of times to make up for the fact i’d skipped out on doing this session earlier in the week.  I had half of my postworkout shake literally seconds within finishing the final set, i actually left it 15-20 mins before i finished it off.  There is no real major reason for doing this, some people believe that it by splitting the shake up you will increase the bodys ability to synthesise it, I don’t really believe that.  The body will utilise it regardless of whether you split the shake or not.  My main reason for doing it is that I seem to get a little discomfort in the stomach area after drinking over 50g of dextrose (dextrose is my main source of post-workout carbs). So i prefer to split my shake up.

After I had finished my workout I decided to hit Nandos, as the kitchen is flame grilled & fresh chicken breast meat.  However i passed on the chips, bread rolls & other carbs available, sticking with the XX hot sauce instead.

Tomorrow i’ll be back in the gym. Tonight I want to look over the weeks worth of training records I have & maybe change the order around a little.  Until tomorrow…