5 Stress Management Strategies for Improved Fat Loss

5 Stress Management Strategies for Improved Fat Loss

 

5 Stress Management Strategies for Improved Fat Loss

 

There’s no denying how prevalent stress is in today’s society. In fact, according to the World Health Organisation, stress has been classified as the health epidemic of the 21st century. Whether it’s work-related stress, financial struggles, relationship troubles, or even physical stress placed on our body during an intense workout, it’s no secret that stress can present itself in many different forms!

 

Yet, contrary to popular belief, stress is not entirely bad. Stress is technically our most important survival mechanism… after all, it’s what helped keep our hunter-gatherer ancestors alive thousands of years ago. Likewise, in today’s day and age, stress is also extremely beneficial for helping us meet those work deadlines, train harder and lift heavier, and check the road before crossing for any potential threats. So, what’s the downside? In today’s society, most of us are struggling to find the ‘off button’ for stress, which is having a detrimental impact on our physical and mental health…and in many cases, our ability to lose weight!

 

First things first, how on earth does stress impact weight? During periods of heightened tension, the stress hormone, cortisol, rises. As a result of this, increased cortisol may also cause higher insulin levels and drop blood sugar, causing you to crave sugary and fatty foods. The result? Well, when we’re stressed, we’ll often eat the wrong types of food in excess!

 

With that in mind, here are our top five tips for stress management:

 

Tip 1: Exercise
Exercise is one of the most effective ways to combat stress, while simultaneously working on your physical health. As ironic as it might sound, putting physical stress on your body, by way of exercise, can relieve mental stress.

 

Did you know that people who exercise regularly are less likely to experience anxiety, as opposed to those who don’t exercise? And here’s why:

  • Sleep – Exercising regularly can help to improve the quality of your sleep, due to the way it physically exhausts your body. As stress and anxiety are known to negatively impact sleep quality, this can help to alleviate the symptoms.
  • Endorphins – Did you know that exercise helps to release endorphins, which are chemicals that improve your mood and act as natural painkillers? Additionally, exercise is also suggested to lower the body’s stress hormones over a prolonged period, including cortisol.
  • Confidence – Who doesn’t feel better after breaking a sweat? When you exercise regularly, you’re likely to feel more confident and comfortable in your skin, which ultimately enhances mental wellbeing and reduces stress.

 

Whether you’re new to exercise or a gym veteran, the best way to find a sustainable and enjoyable exercise routine is to base it around something you love. Love to run? Start your day with a morning jog. Love feeling refreshed? Try hitting the pool for a few laps. Not much into traditional sports? Why not join your local yoga or pilates class. Love strength training? Head to Dukes Gym!

 

 

Tip 2: Get your sleep right

When you’re experiencing stress, you’re more likely to lay awake at night restless and unable to get a good night’s sleep. However, the lack of sleep also causes stress, which means it’s a never-ending cycle. The cherry on top? When we lack sleep, we crave a quick source of energy, such as sugary treats, which often leads us further away from our health and fitness goals. Not to mention, a lack of sleep may also interfere with key appetite hormones, ghrelin and leptin.

 

So, how can you improve your stress by improving your sleep cycle?

  • Two to four hours before bed – Avoid any intense exercise that will make you alert and buzzing. Also, avoid large meals that will keep you up at night while your body works hard to digest everything.
  • One hour before bed – Reduce the amount of artificial light surrounding you by dimming your lights or putting a lamp on. Also, switch your screens to night mode. This will help to increase melatonin, which helps to get you into a sleepy state.
  • 30 minutes before bed – Switch off all electronic devices and screens. If you need your phone alarm for the morning, simply switch your phone to aeroplane mode to minimise any distractions that may disrupt your sleep!

 

 

Tip 3: Take time out for yourself

Do you often get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life and forget to take time out for yourself? Whether it’s the mental stresses associated with work deadlines and pressure, the physical stress of exercise, or the mental and physical stress of raising little ones, there are many reasons why we just sometimes don’t find the time to put ourselves first. However, the downside is, without our ‘me time’, our happiness, motivation, and potential for success greatly diminish.

 

When you subject yourself to extreme pressure and stress day-after-day, without taking time out to recuperate, you are not only preventing yourself from performing at your highest level, you’re also exposing yourself to a greater risk of illness and disease. Truth be told – your body will not perform or look the way we want it to if you’re constantly subjecting yourself to physical and mental stress. Not long after the mental symptoms kick in, the physical symptoms will start to show!

Try incorporating the following ‘me time’ tips into your weekly schedule:

  • Recovery time – Dedicate one day a week or a month to ‘recovery time’. This should be time spent relaxing and unwinding. For instance – Get a massage, go to the movies alone, read a book, listen to a podcast… whatever it is you love doing to unwind, make it a staple in your routine!
  • Learn new skills – We spend so much time bettering our skill set to progress in our careers, but how much time do we really spend improving our skills to better ourselves as people? For most of us, the answer will be: never. So, we urge you to find a skill you’d like to learn – whether it be photography, drawing, running, a language – and commit to it for six months. Never underestimate how important learning is and how much it can influence our mental health!
  • Change up your routine – It’s easy to become stagnant in your routine and your attitude when you do the same things at the same time every day. Whether it’s your workouts or your downtime, try switching things up to keep your routine fresh and exciting.

 

Tip 4: Run your own race

There’s no denying that social media is an extremely effective and beneficial tool for helping us to connect with new and old friends, discover new places to eat, and unwind while laughing at the never-ending stream of memes. However, in today’s society, the downside of social media is starting to outweigh the positives: It’s starting to replace one-on-one human interaction. I mean, let’s be real – receiving a like on Facebook or Instagram just isn’t the same as catching up with friends in real life. The enjoyment is fleeting!

 

Believe it or not, stress can present itself in several ways, and it’s not always just work, finance or relationship-related. More often than not, it stems from confidence and self-worth. As such, comparing your progress to what others post on social media can be very damaging. With the advent of Photoshop, FaceTune and Instagram filters, social media gives us an unrealistic expectation of how our lives should be, or, how underwhelming our gym progress might appear to be in comparison to your social media buddies.

 

However, in actual fact – seeing the progress of others should inspire you, not demotivate or irritate you. If social media is having a negative effect on you, switch off and focus on your own progress…after all, everyone is running their own race and it’s probably time you did the same. Better still, those 30 minutes you spent scrolling aimlessly through your feed could’ve been much better spent working towards your goals, meditating, reading or just simply unwinding.

 

 

 Tip 5: Incorporate supplements

Do you feel like you’ve tried just about everything and are still unable to reduce the stress from your life? Perhaps it’s time to call on the help of a friend. Yep, we’re talking about supplementation!

 

If you’re looking for the right solution to enhance energy, improve wellness and reduce stress, it’s important to find one that won’t leave you feeling scattered and run down once it wears off. So, what do we recommend? * drum roll * Project U Vitality!

 

Just like all things in life, maintaining optimal vitality requires ongoing maintenance of your internal health. Thanks to Project U Vitality, ensuring your body has all the goodness required to boost your brain functionality and overall health, just got that much easier.

 

So, what can you expect from this formula?

Simply put, Vitality is designed to stimulate brain function, support gut health, boost energy, enhance mood and lower cortisol!

 

Project U Vitality contains Apple Cider Vinegar to aid digestion, support gut health and act as a natural antibacterial and antioxidant. As well as Lemon Balm to also support digestive health and to help increase GABA in the body, which may have a calming effect strong enough to help lower cortisol levels and reduce anxiety. Additionally, Moringa Leaf Powder is rich in antioxidant properties and natural anti-inflammatory benefits, and Reishi Mushrooms boast powerful immune-boosting and mood-enhancing properties.

 

This impressive formula doesn’t stop there. To supercharge Vitality, a combination of powerful nootropic and brain-boosting ingredients have been added. Huperzine A has been added to help boost memory and neuro function, Cognizin Citicoline to reduce age-related memory impairment and boost attention, and Tyrosine to improve alertness and mental performance. Lastly, the key ingredient, Lion’s Mane, has been added to help relieve symptoms of anxiety, boost immune health, reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, and to help speed up recovery from nervous system damage.

Everything you need to know to get up to speed on weight loss: Cardio vs Weights

Everything you need to know to get up to speed on weight loss: Cardio vs Weights

The topic of weights vs cardio has been an age-old debate with the common misconception that lifting weights will make you bulky and big and a lot of cardio will cause you to strip high amounts of fat. However, nutrition plays a pivotal role in fat loss, using exercise as a tool will assist fat loss further and there are both pros and cons of choosing either cardio or weights.

Staying on top of your nutrition is essential as it is a vital aspect of your fitness journey. Food provides you with energy and also calories. In order to achieve fat loss, it is advised that an individual should be in a caloric deficit meaning they should consume less food than they burn. This is considered a negative energy balance. An alternative to being in a caloric deficit is to calculate your maintenance calories which is the amount you need to consume per day in order to maintain your weight after doing physical activities whether sport, occupational or leisure.  Here is a link that will assist you with calculating your calories (https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/macronutcal.htm). To avoid dropping your calories and constantly being hungry, you can utilise weights or cardio as a tool to increase your energy expenditure. This will also result in weight loss, as you will exert more energy than you consume, without starving yourself.

So why should you choose cardio? Cardio exercises are great as it is an easy way to burn calories in a single session, you can do then anywhere without needing any equipment and it is also proven to improve your cardiovascular system. On average, you will be able to burn up to 250 calories in a single session. However, there are many factors that contribute to how much you will actually burn. These factors include; age – as the older you are the fewer calories you can expect to burn, workout intensity – the higher the intensity, the faster your heart rate and the more calories you will expect to burn, overall daily activity – the more sedentary you are, the fewer calories you will burn. You will not need any specific equipment in order to do most cardiovascular exercises. Such examples are running, jogging or bodyweight circuits. These are great to do at the park, the beach and even better if you have a dog to go on runs with. The main benefit of doing cardio exercises is that they will improve your cardiovascular health. You will improve your cardiac output – the amount of blood pumped around your body per beat, which is the product of your stroke volume and heart rate. Having a greater cardiac output will result in a higher amount of oxygenated blood available to your working muscles and thus greater potential output.

Although there many benefits in doing cardio, there are also negatives. Cardio exercises will not help in building or retaining muscle mass. Long durations will put a lot of strain on your joints and ligaments, especially in your legs and most steady state activities usually require the lower body thus you will be neglecting your upper half. Due to the nature of most of the exercises, you will not be putting direct load or stress on the muscles, which will not stimulate them to grow as effective as lifting weights will. Steady state cardiovascular exercises will put your body in a catabolic state, which means the loss of your hard-earned muscles. Long durations of cardio will strain and put stress on the joints and ligaments. Take running for example, it requires the understanding of biomechanics and correct running motion, in order to ensure you can run effectively and efficiently. The most common injury is knee pain which can set you back for a long period of time. In addition, most steady state activities require the use of the lower body, which means you will be neglecting your upper body. This is not ideal as it your body will be disproportioned and therefore a lack of upper body strength, which can affect everyday life tasks.

Weights on the other hand is the best option if you are looking to maintain/build muscle mass as you can actively target specific muscles and there is much more scope to add variations to your routine. Due to the nature of lifting weights, you can directly put load on and target specific muscles selectively for them to grow. Lifting weights stimulates the muscle fibres, causing them to tear during your workout and then rebuild bigger and stronger during your recovery due to a cellular process to form new muscle protein strands. This process will allow you to recruit more motor units and lift heavier over time. You will also improve your posture as you will be able to activate muscle such as your erector spinae and upper back to be more upright. One major benefit of weight training, especially with the older population is to maintain their bone density. Due to the risk of arthritis, it is important to ensure that your joints, ligaments and bones are strong and healthy for as long as possible. Weight training will develop and strengthen them which will be very beneficial in the long run. With a heap of exercises to choose from, you can add many variations to your routine, which will ensure you’ll enjoy your training. Unlike cardio exercises which is limited to only a few options. You can also do circuits or HIIT training with weights to improve your cardiovascular system.

As we are a gym that is strength/weight focused, it is inevitable that we will be biased towards lifting weights. However, if we had to pick some drawbacks, it would be investing time to learn the right form and technique and correct programming will be vital to ensure maximum gains. Learning the right technique will take some time as it is crucial to ensure you prevent injury. Similar to running, understanding the movement pattern and biomechanics of the exercises is important as you will be able to hit the correct muscles or lift the most amount of weight efficiently.

The take home message is that fat loss only comes from a caloric deficit and this can be achieved with the help of steady state exercise and weights. Cardio will help burn a substantial number of calories in a single session, but you will look like you don’t train. Weights on the other hand may take longer to achieve fat loss, but if you want to get a lean and toned physique, this is definitely the more effective option, and you will look like you go to the gym.

Happy training!

How To Bring Up Lagging Body Parts

How To Bring Up Lagging Body Parts

Bringing up your lagging body parts is something everyone will work towards when in the gym. Whether you want to get your arms and shoulders bigger for summer, you need a wider, stronger back for your athletic pursuit, or you’re after rounder, fuller glutes and thighs, there needs to be a plan put in place to achieve these goals.

We can pin this down to a few main factors, that cause majority of these weaknesses to stay that way and unless these are addressed, you’ll be left spinning your wheels. So let’s dig a bit deeper into 5 pillars, crucial for progress;

1. Perfecting Technique – It’s been touted a thousand times, but if you can’t feel a muscle contract, you’re not going to be getting the most out of it in any given movement pattern. If necessary, cut the weights back to begin with, nail in your execution of lifts so you can really get everything out of the movement and muscle. From here, with each and every rep, apply both intent and focus, as you gradually get stronger. Challenging yourself every time you come back around to that muscle and movement pattern

2.  Frequency – Stimulus is what we’re really looking at here. We want to stimulate a muscle, cause some micro tears in the tissue, signalling to the body to recover and repair, making it stronger for the next training bout. The more often we can do this the better, and given the protein synthetic rate of musculature, we’ve got a 48-72 hour recovery time before we can hit it again.
With this in mind we’ve got the opportunity and potential to train a muscle 2-3 x per week, that over the course of a year is 104 – 156 possible sessions to grow your glutes or chest.
Working this into your training week we can go with 2 lower body sessions per week, Monday and Thursday, then adding in an additional couple of sets for glutes on Saturday where we also hit say shoulders and back. This quite easily increases how often we’re signalling to the body “Hey, I’m using the muscle quite a lot, we need to make this bigger and stronger”

3. Volume – Think of volume as how many hard sets you’re doing per week. If you’re currently hitting a full “chest day” once per week, you do 5 exercises, 4 sets on each, that’s 20 work sets. In this session you’re annihilating the muscle, but only hitting it once then leaving it for 144 hours before the next chest day rolls around.Keeping those 20 work sets you’re doing, we can space it out, increasing the frequency and dropping the individual session volume;e.g. 8 sets on Monday & Thursday, then 4 on Saturday.

By dropping the amount of work you’re doing on one single day, you’re not completely demolishing the muscle but stimulating it enough to cause an adaptation. You’re also then in a better place to push your strength as you’re not accruing more and more fatigue which only leaves you “feeling” like you’ve done a lot of work.
This leads on well to the next point of….

4. Strength – Now it’s all well and good to feel the muscle, then hit it often, but if strength is not progressing, your muscle won’t adapt. We need to push hard, log booking your sessions, ensuring week in, week out we’re testing new grounds and moving forwards, challenging the muscle and forcing the adaptations we require. That can be via a bit more weight, an additional couple of reps or taking on one more set, but we need to challenge the body to cause the adaptation we’re after. Strength is a key driver of growth; a stronger muscle will be a bigger muscle. If we take your Barbell Hip Thrust from 90kg for 6 reps, up to 180kg for 6 reps, I guarantee you your glutes and hamstrings will be bigger as they’ve gotten significantly stronger. It’s a basic physiological adaptation, but this requires you to be diligent and work hard!

5. Calories – With the previously mentioned factors we’ll be in a place where we’re pushing hard and training frequently, we need the calories there to recover, signal surplus to the body to continue strength progressions and increase the potential for new tissue to be gradually be gained. If you really want to progress you can’t be scared of the calorie, if you are, then that’s something we’ll need to address if you really want to push ahead in your progress. See the performance progressions you are making and the potential for you to keep going, you need to fuel the body to get the most out of it. If you train like you mean it, don’t sit on your phone all sessions, challenge yourself and keep pushing progress, the calories are well deserved and aiding that recovery process (if you need to work out intake see my previous blog posts)

There are many moving parts when it comes to training and bringing up weaknesses, but it is really quite simple; Train well, train hard, push ourselves often and eat to support our goals. It takes time, commitment and continual effort. It always comes back to consistency and your ability to do the necessary today, to move ahead tomorrow to turn your weaknesses into strengths.

If you want help with building muscle, losing body fat or just improving your overall health and fitness get in touch

Brady Curtin

A | 99 Murphy St RICHMOND

P | 0458 957 686

E | bradycurtinfitness@gmail.com

 

Everything you need to know about Oestrogen

Everything you need to know about Oestrogen

When it comes to the body and hormones it is unfortunate, but very common, that oestrogen is seen as the devil and by no means is it that. It’s important to find the sweet spot of balance to have everything in the body running efficiently.

To get a good idea of what the hormone is, let’s start with the basics; oestrogens are a group of steroidal hormones that are found in both men and women and we have a number of different types, or groups. There are three big ones that we will focus most upon;

Oestrone (E1) – The weakest of the 3, E1 can be converted and serves mainly as the precursor to Oestradiol(E2). It is a minor female sex hormone, synthesized from cholesterol and secreted mainly from the gonads, as all oestrogens are.

Oestradiol (E2) – Broadly, when we speak of Oestrogens, this is the one we are referring to. It’s the major female sex hormone, regulates menstrual/reproductive cycle and development of reproductive tissues. E2 is produced in the follicles of the ovaries in women, testicles in men and adrenal glands, fat tissue, liver, breasts and the brain in both.

Oestriol (E3) – Often seen as a urinary metabolite that is measured. Close to undetectable in women unless pregnant, it is synthesized in very high quantities in the placenta. For both men and women E3, like E1, has a far weaker activity in the body.

When it comes to the importance of oestrogen in the body, both men and women have their own levels required for optimum function and they have different roles for each sex.

We obviously think mainly about its role in women, the reproductive processes, libido, and regulation of menstrual cycle along with bone health, mood, brain activity and other things like that.

Whereas in men, oestrogen still has a role when it comes to the reproductive system, just not to the same extent, as the testosterone steroidal hormone governs/regulates it’s input. Oestrogen helps with how well and strong a man’s sperm can swim, the stronger the swimmers, the better the fertility rate. It also helps modulate immunity and has an effect on the cardiovascular system.

So they have similar roles in both sexes, but different interactions with other hormones which facilitate different impacts on the body.

The many ratios in which we see the metabolites of oestrogen, some of the metabolites are considered more protective and good for you, while others, not so beneficial. So, if some of the metabolites are far too high, that’s where you can run in to some health issues. To regulate these potential negative effects of oestrogen it runs through the liver where it goes through a detoxification process to try and get the right ratios in check, suited to your physiology.

If someone is very poor at this detoxification process, both men and women, are likely to notice symptoms of memory loss, lack of libido, decreased mood, greater levels of body fat, decreased recovery and impaired gut function can become impaired to name a few. It’s a hard one to pick apart, but these above symptoms can suggest something is not going quite right.

Now to combat these issues, the best one, in most cases, is a reduction of body fat, this is because of an enzyme called aromatase. Aromatase is what converts testosterone into oestrogen, the more body fat you have, the more aromatase you will have and the more aromatase you have, the more oestrogen you will be likely to produce and/or convert.

To reduce negative oestrogens, we can reduce our exposure to environmental oestrogens; these are very similar to in genetic make-up to the oestrogen receptors we have in our body. These xeno-oestrogens are the “bad” oestrogens that bind to our natural oestrogen and can throw the body’s ratios insanely out of whack over extended periods of exposure.

To reduce this, be mindful and watch out for:
– Plastics,
– BPA,
– Parabens found in cosmetic products and unnatural body lotions,
– Petrochemicals,
– High Oestrogen foods (soy, wheat, corn, conventional dairy & meat)
– Excessive alcohol consumption
– Hormonal contraception’s
– Insecticides

Don’t stress, it’s not the end of the world if you use these things, but it is an accumulative thing. Over time they will catch up on you and begin causing negative health effects.

It can be fixed though, not all hope is lost, it comes down to some simple things:
– Manage reasonable body fat levels, no higher than 15-20% in males and 20-25% in women
– Exercise regularly, the resulting hormonal output will improve the oestrogen ratios in your favour
– Eat a balanced diet inclusive of beans, cruciferous vegetables, leafy greens, varied nuts, pumpkin, artichokes, avocados, berries, chia seeds, coconut based products, lentils, peas and quinoa
– Limit your exposure to environmental oestrogens. Use glass containers, natural products etc
– Maintain healthyfFibre intake to keep your gut in check so oestrogen doesn’t hop back in the blood stream
– Manage inflammation, don’t stress too much, balance the yin and yang in your life

So those are all the key things to really balance out your oestrogen levels in your body. Don’t go crazy on supplements to remove it entirely, it is important. Do the above, get your bloods tested, train hard, eat well, manage your recovery and look after yourself.

Help balance your body.
– Brady

 

If you want help with building muscle, losing body fat or just improving your overall health and fitness get in touch

Brady Curtin

A | 99 Murphy St RICHMOND

P | 0458 957 686

E | bradycurtinfitness@gmail.com

 

The guide every beginner needs to read before commencing their weightlifting journey!

The guide every beginner needs to read before commencing their weightlifting journey!

Congratulations, you’ve decided to start hitting the gym and craft that perfect physique to gain some self-confidence or even impress that girl in your class. Whatever your motivation, there are a few tips to keep in mind when first stepping foot in the gym.

Before we start, it is crucial to mention that most of your gains will occur during your first year of lifting (AKA noobie gains). Thus, it is imperative that you implement these tips to ensure you maximise your progress in the gym.

Firstly, become informed. This is by no means an all-inclusive guide for first timers. There are many sources to expand your training knowledge. Hiring a fitness coach, watching YouTube videos and browsing the web are all great methods to provide you with a level of guidance in the gym. You can use these sources to learn about how to perfect your form, choose the right workout split or what exercises to perform. It may seem overwhelming once you start learning, but I can assure you that armed with this information, you are at a significant advantage to your peers who failed to conduct their due diligence. This is because you’ll make smarter decisions in the gym optimising your muscle development and preventing your risk of injury.

Secondly, frequency is king. Since you are a beginner, it is pivotal you get your body used to performing the exercise and feeling the stress on the muscle. You may see a plethora of opinions online, however, we recommend a full body workout three times a week. This may seem like a lot, but since you are training your entire body, the amount of volume per muscle group would be much less compared to training a single muscle group per workout. As much as us gym bros like to think that we can go hardcore in the gym every day, rest is paramount for optimal muscle growth and recovery. Thus, we propose one or two rest days in between your full body workouts. This higher frequency will allow you to adapt quicker to the movement and acquire what’s called neurological efficiency or muscle memory, a form of procedural memory that creates maximum efficiency within the motor and memory systems and improves your muscle retention abilities. Once you feel comfortable performing the exercises and the movement pattern has been ingrained, you can scale back the frequency to once or twice a week and bump up the volume.

Lastly, like doing anything for the first time, it is critical to take it easy and slow. Loading the bar with preposterous amounts of weight and training to utter failure, is the fastest way to get yourself injured. Use a weight that you can handle comfortably and perform 8 – 12 reps, leaving a few reps left in the tank. Once you have introduced it to the movement with low to moderate intensity and familiarised yourself with the motion, you can slowly increase the weight as well as the intensity as your body is constantly adapting.

Whatever your motivation for hitting the gym for the first time, abiding by these three guidelines will ensure you develop a strong foundation and maximise your muscle growth. By becoming more informed, hitting the gym frequently and performing exercises steadily with perfect form, you place yourself in a position where you can train smarter and more consistently, allowing you to start packing on crazy amounts of mass in no time.

Loaded Stretches – How Only 30 Seconds of Added Work can Skyrocket Your Gains!

Loaded Stretches – How Only 30 Seconds of Added Work can Skyrocket Your Gains!

Loaded Stretch Article

 

It has been vouched time and time again that static stretching is terrible when it comes to both hypertrophy and athletic performance.
“It will make you weaker”
“It puts the muscle at an increased risk of injury”
While these are both true statements, it really depends on both the application, execution and timing of stretching.

 

By no means is static or passive stretching bad, but in a performance based setting there are number of cons we quickly approach.

 

Negatives of Static Stretching:
– Perceived improvement of flexibility as opposed to mobility
– Static stretching improves your body’s ability to sit into that given stretch, not improve whole bodily movement

– Stretching can temporarily decrease the strength, endurance and force potential of given muscle.

 

With this being said, these negatives only really arise when passive stretching is all pre-training. Save those static stretches for post workout to calm yourself, drop the heart rate and bring you in to that para-sympathetic state.

 

Now seeing how detrimental passive stretching can be on our performance, here is where loaded stretching really takes the cake. Once applied, I guarantee you’ll be left asking yourself why you haven’t been doing this all along!

 

The premise behind loaded stretching is that our muscle is constricted by fascia, if that fascia is not gliding well over the muscle, movement will be restricted, optimal mobility is harder to achieve and we cannot optimize given muscles’ performance potential.  Loaded stretching itself aims to loosen the grip fascia has, allowing the muscle more room to glide, lengthen and contract forcefully.

 

But why does this work in making us bigger, stronger and more mobile?

 

Benefits of Loaded Stretching:
Occlusion Effect:

When muscles are contracted blood is restricted within, the same thing occurs when the muscle is stretched out in the fully lengthened position. So, during a loaded stretch, you are contracting as hard as you can, in the fully stretched position, you’re trapping all the blood inside the muscle and causing 2 incredibly positive outcomes.

 

1) It prevents the clearance and disposal of metabolites in lactate and hydrogen ions,

2) Deprives the muscle of oxygen.

Both conditions lead to the release of local growth factors (IGF-1), which can increase potential for local muscle hypertrophy.

Increased Recovery:

Due to the blood flow restriction nature of loaded stretches, once we release the stretch, the muscle is supplied, very quickly, with a fresh source of blood, delivering nutrients directly to the muscle as the body works to clear the build up of metabolites.

Increase Muscle Size:
When in that fully lengthened position and we are contracting incredibly hard, the body is recruiting all potential muscle fibers it has in that local area, hitting both fast and slow twitch muscle fibers (Type I & Type II), with the potential of increasing both density and size of given muscle

 

The method of Loaded Stretching has been tried and test by many coaches originating with Chuck Sipes hanging from a bar to grow his lats in the 60’s, Bodybuilding programing “DC Training” from Dante Trudel and Hypertrophy experts like Dr. Scott Stevenson and Jordan Peters being major advocates of loaded stretching for maximal results.

 

Personally, seen in myself and clients, loaded stretching rapidly improves recovery and mobility. In a matter of a single training cycle you will begin to notice significant improvements with how your body can move in lifts as well as building your neural connection (mind-muscle) to areas you apply these techniques. Then applied across the course of 3,6 and 12 months of solid, progressive training and we see the growth benefits.

 

It’s all well and good having this knowledge but now the application.

 

What we want to do is focus on isolating a single muscle group, getting it into it’s fully lengthened position, under load ,in a safe manner and both stretch and contract simultaniously. We want to think, where is the origin and insertion of the muscle and how do I put them as far apart as possible and squeeze it like it owes me money!

 

Chest (Pectoralis Major/Minor)

My preferred go to is a cable stretch on these. Strap up to a D-Handle, walk out and brace against something, from here, pull your shoulder blades back and down allowing your humerus to pull away from sternum

 

Front Shoulder (Anterior head of Deltoid)

Set a barbell up at chest height in a rack, spin around and place both hands as close together as you’re able to WITHOUT PAIN. Don’t over-crank this one as you walk your feet forward

 

Side Shoulder (Lateral head of Deltoid)
Put a cable down to the bottom attachment, grab it so the cable is running behind you and walk out slightly. Maintain the shoulder blades back and shunted down

 

Vertical Back (Latissimus Dorsi)
Grab a single D-Grip handle and attach that to the lat-pulldown machine. We want to slightly supinate, as the lat is an internal rotator, tuck the pelvis underneath you and reach up, leaning back slightly. Think reaching and contracting.

 

Horizontal Back (Rhomboids, Posterior Delts)
Prop a bench up on a 45º and we’re going chest supported by the bench. Grab a dumbbell in either hand, internally rotate and allow the dumbbells to “spread out” your back

Glutes (Gluteus Maximus/Medius/Minimus)
If you don’t have access to a 45º extension you can hang over the edge of a bench, but we want to think about dragging the heels down and pushing your ass to the roof the whole time

 

Hamstrings (Biceps Femoris/Semitendinosis/Semimembranosus)
Knees locked and come down by shifting your weight back as you come into the bottom position. Your foot placement will dictate where about in your hamstrings you feel this most, so play around with it based on your needs/wants

 

Quads (Vastus Lateralis/Medialis/Intermedius & Rectus Femoris)
Best bet is doing these in a smith machine setting the bar at hip height, walk your feet slightly forwards and swing your hips under. Focus on trying to keep the hips extended. These are nasty.

 

Calves (Gastrocnemius & Soleus)
Hopefully you are training your calves properly, if you are doing so, bodyweight will suffice for these. Elevate the feet on something lean over like we’re in a Donkey Raise position and then drive the heels down while pulling the toes up.

 

We want to hit these stretches when we’re done training that group while there’s lots of blood within the muscle and we can “feel” the area.
1-3 Sets, 30-60seconds – Accruing a total time of 2-3minutes in that loaded stretch position. Overload the movement by small increments in time or weight. By nailing these stretches once finished training a muscle group, we’re in a primed state to reap all the benefits surrounding loaded stretches.

 

From here, work these into your sessions next time you train and make them a staple in your programming, the potential benefits you will be awarded with far outweigh the brief period of discomforted that arises from the loaded stretch.

 

I look forward to seeing your progress!
– Brady

If you want help with building muscle, losing body fat or just improving your overall health and fitness get in touch

Brady Curtin

A | 99 Murphy St RICHMOND

P | 0458 957 686

E | bradycurtinfitness@gmail.com

 

Red Frog Raspberry Protein Crepes – the ultimate fitness breakfast!

Red Frog Raspberry Protein Crepes – the ultimate fitness breakfast!

Delicious Red Frog Raspberry Protein Crepes Recipe

 

Looking for a tasty breakfast staple to help you start your day right? Look no further than Raimee Leigh’s  nutritious and delicious take on Protein Crepes. Introducing: Red Frog Raspberry Protein Crepes!

 

Loaded with Evolve Whey Protein Isolate , frozen berries, a drizzle of peanut butter, a pinch of coconut flakes, and a little chocolate, this quick and easy recipe is the perfect way to pack more nutrients, flavour and satisfaction into your diet. But don’t just take our word for it; try the Red Frog Raspberry Protein Crepes at home for yourself!

 

Ingredients

  • 60g of buckwheat flour
  • 25g of Evolve Red Frog Raspberry WPI
  • 2 egg whites
  • 30g of crushed frozen raspberries
  • 150ml of water (if making pancakes, only add water to desired consistency)

Method

  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl and place crepe pan on low-heat.
  2. Scoop the mixture using a 1/4 cup for each crepe. Tilt the pan with a circular motion so that the mixture coats the surface evenly.
  3. Cook the crepes for about 2 minutes until bottom is slightly brown, loosen with spatula, turn and cook the other side.
  4. Roll all the crepes and cut into halves, place them into a bowl with all your favourite sides and toppings.
  5. They go perfectly with yoghurt, fruit and, of course, peanut butter.

 

What is Evolve WPI?

 

Loaded with over 35g of isolate protein per serve and as little as 1.8g of carbohydrates and under 1g of sugar and fat, Evolve WPI is among the purest and highest value protein powders on the market, that will supply more of what your body needs to repair and grow.  Better still, Evolve WPI contains no additives or filler ingredients and is complete with easily digested amino acids and low lactose.

Quick Tips for Big Results – what your training and nutrition might be missing!

Quick Tips for Big Results – what your training and nutrition might be missing!

Low Hanging Fruit Article

 

So, coaching out of a gym and even online, I get talking with a lot of people. Often when I speak with others, both guys and girls, we get onto the topic of what they’re trying to achieve and discuss what they’re doing to get there.

 

They want to be bigger, fitter and stronger

They want their ass to look like (insert instagram fitspo’s) ass

They’re prepping for a comp, event or holiday

Or they want to progress themselves because they loving pushing themselves, gain fulfilment through the health and fitness life-style and it makes them a better person.

 

These are all awesome, achievable and common goals that I’m sure you reading this can relate somewhat to.

 

We want our goals badly, often those I speak to vouch that they’re doing “everything they can to get results”. They’re training incredibly “hard” 6-7 days per week, getting their cardio in, eating all the “right” foods, eating 1 “cheat meal” per week. But the results are not coming quite as quickly as they’d like.

Dig a little bit deeper, in only a couple of questions, and it turns out they’re really missing a lot of the very low hanging fruit that pay off massively when tracked, monitored and then progressed!

Training Sessions & Log Booking:

Are you progressing week to week across your lifts, adding load, gaining reps. If yes, keep going, if not why? Something isn’t working, so it may be time to rotate an exercise out, drop or increase volume, change your weekly set-up, look at your exercise execution, push bodyweight up, if dieting introduce a refeed and the list goes on.

If we are not measuring this, via a logbook, each session you train you don’t really know if you are progressing from the session prior.

You’ll be standing at the rack thinking, “oh I hit the 30’s last week, or was it the 32’s. Not sure but my warm-ups felt hard, I’ll go with the 30’s”.

We want to eliminate that doubt and go in with a plan of attack to push forwards from the last time, as the body needs that stimulus to grow.

Yes, you’ll look at your book and think “fuck last week was hard, how am I meant to beat that” but you can. You push and you challenge your body to respond!

 

Programming:

Many either do one of two things, they go in and go by “feel” or they run the same session they’ve always done that they learnt from a magazine, an intro session from a gym attendant or what they did at football training.

 

Think of this; they don’t build Lamborghini’s by just throwing the pieces together, they have a plan and execute upon that. So how can we expect the build our greatest body without a direction to go.

 

This is where programming comes in. This is our blueprint to ensure you progress, we start where you are now and progress over time to where you want/need to be, it takes us from A to B then right through to Z and then onwards to every other potential.

Following a plan and progressing it will also show us how you’re responding and then adjustments can be made accordingly so you continue to progress.

 

Exercise Execution & Technique:

If we’re not performing a movement pattern properly, we’re not going to reap the benefits the exercise is meant to give. If some reps we sling the weight up, others we control and some we just go through the motions, how can we be for certain, that we are progress? We can’t, plain and simple.

 

We want and need precision in every single set and with every single rep so we know, with 100% conviction that we’re gaining what we’re after from a given movement.

It then becomes a simple matter of gradually adding weight to the bar over time.

 

Intensity:
The aforementioned Programming and Exercise Execution are absolutely nothing, without intensity. If you want really, really good results, and I’ll assume you do because you’re here, we need to really get after it within our sessions. It’s all well and good to check “train” off the to do list but to progress yourself forwards and get to where you want to be you must apply yourself.
Imagine you were only able to do one rep for a movement and then weren’t allowed to do anything else until the next session, one single rep…

How much effort would you put into that?

You would contract as hard as you can, squeeze it senseless and lower, resisting against it with all your might to make sure you made it count.

Now do that.

Do that for every single rep of every set, for every movement, for every training session. That is how you get stronger and that is how you get results. Don’t come in and half ass your sets and then put your hand out and complain.

Earn it.

Nutrition:

Whether you’re working to gain muscle, lose fat or improve performance, going by feel and eating intuitively doesn’t really cut it if you’re looking to really improve. Start by logging everything you eat in a food tracker app over the next 7 days. Now we have a baseline and from this point we can make adjustments up or down, backwards or forwards based upon what you really need, if you’re at your perceived maintenance. It’s quite a simple formula to work this out based on you Bodyweight (BW):

BW x 30 to 35 – This is your total calories
BW x 1.8g to 2.5g – This is your protein intake, multiply by 4 for calories

BW x 0.5g to 1g – This is your fat intake, multiply by 9 for calories
Take your total calories minus protein calories minus fat calories and divide that number by 4 and you have your carbohydrate intake

 

e.g – 100kg Male

100kg x 32 – 3,200 calories
100kg x 2.2 – 220g protein, 880 calories

100kg x 1 – 100g fat, 900 calories

3,200 – 880 – 900 = 1,420 calories divide by 4, 355g carbohydrate

 

There is your intake sorted so we have targets to hit. From here we want to get protein in from a variety of sources, same thing with fats and the same with carbohydrates. Avoid things that upset your digestion or do not sit with you, eat whole foods, eat your fruits and vegetables and drink your water.
That’s quite a simple breakdown, but using that information you can get yourself quite far, especially now that we have some numbers to work from.

Sleep, Recovery & Stress Management:

Now this one is a massive one, many monitor their training and nutrition but falter here. This is where we grow, get lean and restore our body to attack the sessions, along with our daily life ahead.

 

If your sleep and recovery isn’t at the forefront of your mind and being pushed to progress, just as hard as you push in the gym, you’ll find yourself spinning your wheels.

Sleep – With your sleep we want to aim for an average of 8 hours per night high quality sleep and there are a few things we can do to ensure we’re getting that.
Get your bedroom to a cool temperature 16º C or below and get it as dark in there as possible.
Turn your Wi-Fi off and mobile phone to flight mode so we’re not exposing ourselves to the Electro-Magnetic Fields (EMF) that they emit, which have adverse effects on our health.

Finally, the hour before you go to bed, spend time winding down in low light, reading, meditating, playing with your dog or watching a TV show.

Whatever it is you do, do so in a way that soothes your whole body and is preparing it for a restful sleep

Recovery – This is a broad brush that’s going to cover several things, but we want to think of stress management as our main factor here. We have so many stressors already going on in our life, then we add training on top of that, we must balance that out.
Going for walks with your dog, spending time with loved ones, favourite TV shows or comics, meditating, massage, float tanks and the rest, all these things benefit our recovery.
You don’t miss your gym sessions and you put effort into those, so do the same with the things that are going to improve your life and recovery!

These are all things that are very do-able and really make a world of difference. Put a bit more effort into tracking, progressing/regressing training, ensuring your sleep and recovery and you’ll start to notice incredible improvements, not just in your training pursuits but wholly your life experience.

I can’t wait to see your improvements!

– Brady

If you want help with building muscle, losing body fat or just improving your overall health and fitness get in touch

Brady Curtin

A | 99 Murphy St RICHMOND

P | 0458 957 686

E | bradycurtinfitness@gmail.com

 

Everything you need to know about Creatine

Everything you need to know about Creatine

If you’re heavily, or even moderately, into fitness, the chances are, you’ve likely heard the word ‘creatine’ floating around the gym, right? Yet, like many people, you probably steer clear of using it because you don’t quite know what on earth it does, who should use it, how to take it, or why it even exists?!

 

Don’t worry, you’re certainly not alone. But, what if I told you that adding creatine to your daily supplement regime could make a world of difference to your performance, endurance, strength, muscle mass and general health? Sounds too good to be true, but luckily for you, it’s not. As the world’s most widely researched and clinically studied supplement, creatine is among the most effective, and severely underrated, supplements for enhancing all areas of your performance, and contrary to popular belief, you don’t even have to be a strength or power athlete to reap the benefits of it. Curious to find out more? Let’s get started!

 

First things first, what is Creatine?

Creatine is an amino acid located predominantly in your muscles in the form of phosphocreatine (95%), as well as your brain, kidneys and liver (5%). Creatine’s core responsibility is to help increase your stores of phosphocreatine, which is a form of stored energy in your cells that subsequently helps you to increase the production of a high-energy molecule known as Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP).  In simpler terms – Creatine plays an important role in providing the body with the essential fuel it needs to function at full capacity.

 

What’s ATP and why do I need it? Simply put, ATP is stored energy. For your muscles and every other cell in your body, ATP is the primary energy carrier in all living organisms and is the source of energy that essentially keeps everything functioning. Without ATP, cells would not be able to transfer energy from one location to another, subsequently prohibiting the growth and reproduction of organisms.

 

How can Creatine assist my training?

Whether you choose to increase your creatine levels by consuming protein-rich foods, such as chicken, steak and fish, or opt for the easier and more convenient option of adding a creatine supplement to your daily regime, the outcome will still be the same – it will increase your muscles’ phosphocreatine stores. Phosphocreatine assists in the formation of new ATP, and let’s not forget, more ATP equals more energy.

 

During a workout, ATP breaks down to produce energy, which is used for muscular contraction. As a result of the ATP being broken down into ADP (Adenosine Diphosphate), the amount of energy available to your muscle cells is limited due to the rate at which your body can effectively re-synthesise or reproduce ATP.

 

To quickly recap – The higher the levels of creatine in the body, the higher the levels of phosphocreatine stores in the muscle cells. Therefore, the higher your phosphocreatine store levels are in the muscle, the more energy you have readily available for your muscle cells. When you have higher levels of energy available to the cells, you are more likely to experience better workouts, strong muscle contraction, and reduced fatigue while training. Who wouldn’t want these benefits while training?

 

To put this into the context of exercise, here’s how you can benefit from creatine in the gym:

  • Promotes enhanced strength & performance – Creatine is suggested to help improve your overall strength and performance due to your body’s increased capacity to produce ATP. Generally, ATP is depleted after approximately 8-10 seconds of high-intensity exercise. However, by supplementing with creatine, your body can effectively produce more ATP, allowing you to train at peak performance for a few additional seconds.
  • Supports muscle growth – As creatine plays an important role in helping you to train harder and for longer, the long-term result of this benefit is generally muscle growth as your body is primed to push harder.
  • Helps increase Bone Mineral Density – Strength training has long been recommended for increasing bone mineral density and preventing osteoporosis. However, if you’re already lifting weights but haven’t added creatine to your daily routine, your bones are likely not reaching their full potential. An increase in bone mineral content is suggested to be related to an increase in muscle mass. As such, an increase in muscle puts a strain on your bones, which in turn provides the ideal stimulus for your bones to strengthen. While bone health may not be at the top of your list right now, you’ll thank yourself for it later!
  • Enhances brain performance – Anyone who is into fitness knows that results are based 50% on your physical output and 50% on your mindset and cognitive performance. In the same way creatine affects your muscles, it also improves your brain performance. Your brain uses creatine phosphate as a source of energy, and if not replenished, these stores will decrease during intense activity. Just as your muscles begin to fatigue after a certain number of reps, so too does your brain fatigue during intense mental activity. As such, a creatine supplement will not only improve your workout capacity but also your brain capacity!

 

Who would benefit from supplementing creatine?

If exercise is an important part of your daily routine and you’re serious about your results, you’ll certainly benefit from creatine supplementation. Let’s break it down:

  • Bodybuilders – Creatine plays an important role in improving the size and shape of your muscles, which ultimately impacts your entire physique. As such, if you’re a bodybuilder trying to increase muscle mass, creatine may be just what you need to up the ante on your results.
  • Fitness enthusiasts – As creatine is suggested to enhance muscular energy and decrease fatigue, it will be highly beneficial for regular fitness enthusiasts who are wanting to train harder and get more from their workouts.
  • Athletes – Much like fitness enthusiasts, athletes who are training for a competition can also greatly benefit from creatine supplementation as it may increase energy and decrease fatigue, allowing athletes to train harder and for longer before exhaustion sets in.
  • Vegans and vegetarians – If you’re serious about your fitness and results but don’t want to compromise your dietary requirements or preferences, creatine might be a great addition to your supplement stack. Since it’s considerably hard to source creatine from a vegan/vegetarian diet, a creatine supplement will ensure your body has adequate levels of the amino acid required to increase muscle mass, without bulking you up.

 

So, what’s the point of taking creatine supplementation when I can source it from food?

The short answer: You will receive a higher dosage in a more convenient and efficient manner with supplementation.

 

Eating a large volume of food doesn’t necessarily mean you’re eating the right food in the right quantity to get the levels of creatine that a supplement would deliver. Without adequate creatine levels, you will not be able to effectively maximise the benefits. While you can certainly source your creatine from your food if you’re committed to eating large volumes of the right food, creatine supplementation simply offers a faster and more convenient route to achieving the same results.

 

The average creatine supplement would generally supply 5g of creatine per serve. Let’s compare this to a few high-creatine food sources:

  • Steak – 5g of creatine per kg of uncooked beef
  • Chicken – 3.4g of creatine per kg
  • Rabbit – 3.4g of creatine per kg

 

Note: These figures generally differ between sources.

 

For vegetarians and vegans, it’s extremely difficult to source enough creatine from your diet alone. Cranberries are suggested to contain a generous source of creatine, however, you would be required to consume a large, and somewhat unrealistic, portion of cranberries to experience the same benefits you would from a creatine supplement.

 

So, how do I choose the right creatine supplement?

When it comes to choosing the right creatine supplement, it’s important to consider form, flavour and combination. The most recommended form of creatine is creatine monohydrate, which has been the focus of thousands of studies over time and is proven to be safe and effective. The next most important component is taste. Many athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike recommend opting for an unflavoured creatine product as it has no taste and can be easily added to your favourite drink – whether that be water, juice, your BCAAs or protein shake!

 

Our go-to creatine supplement is Evolve Creatine Monohydrate. As the name suggests, this

product contains 99.9% pure pharmaceutical-grade, micronised creatine monohydrate in an unflavoured powder form to promote fast absorption and utilisation, as well as the option to pair it with your favourite flavour. Not to mention, Evolve Creatine Monohydrate contains no artificial sweeteners, artificial flavours or colours!

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