Masterclass with Scott and Alberto

meandalbertomeandscott

Wednesday 1st May and the venue is the Field Training Lifestyle Centre, Marylebone, London. I was privileged enough to attend a master class with two awesome trainers who understand movement and practise what they preach. They have a system of training that is unique and innovative, yet still makes sense. A system that is always developing and just gets more and more interesting.

Number one was Scott Sonnon martial arts expert, fitness coach, and wellness speaker. He has worked with movie stars as well as Ultimate Fighting Championship mixed martial arts fighters. Scott Sonnon was voted one of “The 6 Most Influential Martial Artists of the 21st Century” by Black Belt Magazine in 201o and was named one of “Top 25 Fitness Trainers in the World” by “Men’s Fitness Magazine” in 2011. His fitness system, Circular Strength Training, has been adopted by members of the United States military and law enforcement community. He is also a published author, a public speaker, and an advocate in the fight against childhood obesity.

And number 2 is Alberto Galazzi, who recently featured in Men’s Health Italy. Alberto is an ESI approved protection agent, and head of the European wing of Circular Strength Training.

Learning from these guys is always an amazing experience and what gave me immense satisfaction is how much more I understand from Scott and Alberto compared to 18 months ago when I last saw them. Where other fitness related courses teach us how to perform conventional exercises or learn how to use the latest gimmick, sessions with these guys involve learning and refining the art of movement. We learn how movement is the manifestation of life. When movement is good, the quality of life is good. Perfecting movement does more for anti-ageing then any magic cream or pill. During the masterclass we covered three key areas of the body where movement becomes impaired; shoulders, hips and core. Remember, when our movement fails us in these areas we compensate by overusing other parts of the body.

Shoulders

When getting shoulder problems people turn to this nonsense to rectify it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EY2tNBOmvGs

These cable or band rotations are unbelievably stupid. Shoulder problems are invariably a result of poor shoulder mobility so strengthening is the last thing we need. The dynamic duo taught us some amazing mobility exercises to encourage more rotation at the shoulder joint making sure that all four joints of the shoulder complex get the right amount of attention. Some basic examples of rehab exercises are in the following video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tri0MtGdbvs

Hips

When we have knee problems we turn to this

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5BDi8Oj5eM

Strengthening your VMO the tear drop muscle again is a bad move as this is the thing usually pulling on the patella in the first place. The knee is slave to the hip and ankle so restriction in hip mobility, in particular internal and external rotation plays a big factor in both knee and back problems. The solutions to encourage more mobility in this area are quite simple and begin with the Russian shinbox.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wYBZ6Sn55c

 

Core

As for when we have back problems that are blamed on weak pelvic wall muscles we are told to do leg raises.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ix5h6zAUTNs

I love Pilates but this is where it well and truly loses my vote. The pelvic wall is inactive in many of us that have an anterior pelvic tilt (where the ass sticks out) so the solution is to work on this position.

hollow

Scott and Alberto showed us some innovative exercises incorporating this ‘Power Chamber Workout’. The basics of it are detailed in the following article:

http://www.rmaxinternational.com/flowcoach/?p=827

It was an amazing day and my clients are already enjoying the new instructions they are getting from me. I look forward to learning more from these guys.

Advertisements

Fat Gripz for getting bigger arms

imageimage

I’ve known about this product for over a year but only ordered it with two clients in mind.  Now I’m surprised that so many people aren’t using them.  This is the difference in just two weeks.  The forearm on Jonathan is now much more beefy on the right.  The bicep itself is one quarter of an inch bigger with two half-hour bicep sessions a week.

FatGripz have been named ‘Training Tool of the Decade’, probably because it gives your training a whole new dynamic without changing your routine that much.  It’s not just about building your forearm muscle and enhancing your grip.  The nervous system plays a part by not allowing you to progress in lifting weights until the forearm catches up.  Once you challenge the forearm the rest of the body follows and plateaus are broken.

My advice however, is to go back to the basics first and focus on the big lifts, relying predominantly on your chest and back workouts to build your arms.  Once you start getting and seeing that shape you crave then start thinking about breaking those plateaus with training tools like FatGripz and supplements like creatine.

Secondly, a lot of guys are missing the point on their arm workouts, picking up huge dumbells and relying on momentum to shift the weight.  There are no bicep curling competitions, getting big guns is the goal from targetting the biceps so keeping the tension in the bicep throughout the movement will stand a better chance of yielding results.

Back to the FatGripz then below are two resources to refer to when looking more into their benefits.

http://www.fatgripz.co.uk/?gclid=CK_Zz6XiwrUCFYfJtAod1hEAOA

And you have a video where Charles Poliquin discusses the product.  Get this, he’s even found that thicker implements even correct imbalances between right and left… AMAZING HUH!!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o22UUAmCa3s&feature=player_embedded

Order yours now.

Fancy Coffee Chain or Builder’s Cafe

20130215-175141.jpg
This for me is a hugely relevant subject amidst the ever-growing keep-fit culture submerged in a sea of misconception. Queue upon queue of people outside Starbs, Pret and Costa divided into two categories of people:
1. Those in a rush that suffice with the equivalent of tea and toast or in the fancy world, coffee and croissant. A breakfast so deprived of nutrition unlikely to keep you alert during the day and definitely not conducive to a healthy lifestyle.
2. Those deceived by the notion that porridge is the healthiest breakfast. Sorry guys but this is not true. Porridge means carbohydrates and still likely to raise blood sugar levels. A breakfast should be protein rich and that means eggs for breakfast. So where do you go for your healthy breakfast instead? The builders cafe of course where you can have as many eggs as you wish in any form you wish. True you’ll have to sit next to a bunch of big fat hairy guys in fluorescence and hard hats but try it, they’ re actually very entertaining.

The moral is not to get deceived by the marketing slogans and try to get advice from proper pros. We have two gyms side by side in Islington, London and you will always see us in the old school cafes unless of course now when I am in need of a wifi connection lol.

Forget Rep Ranges And Just Work To Your Mood

There’s a lot of obsession with rep ranges when it comes to weightlifting and bodybuilding.  At PT school we are always taught this idea of doing 12-15 reps for toning (or getting ripped), 8-10 reps for building mass and 5-7 reps for gaining strength.  Something like this anyway and frankly I don’t really care because it is just bullshit I think.  I happen to think that as long as you get the movement right you will see the results.  Those that don’t get the movement right will probably only see their arms grow a bit.  Those with good genes will see results quick even with bad form.  In other words a lot of the books and programs you find online or in magazines are practically worthless.

Or are they?  Perhaps we do need some sort of program we need to stick to in order to remain motivated and keep some sort of structure and discipline within our training.  However, what if we are sticking to sets of 10 and we realised we feel strong enough to go up a weight?  in this situation, I say we leave the programme and we work to our fullest potential.  Keep going up on the weights, work through the entire dumbell rack until we reach breaking point.  In this case, when training clients I will wright down on their record ‘AFAFA’ (As Far As Form Allows).  This means we have capitalised on every available ounce of strength.  Maybe we will not be able to lift the same amount the next week which is where we return back to the programme.

So work to your mood, not the rep range but just remember two things:

1.  Stick as much as you can to good solid powerful lifts.  Bench press and dumbell press for your chest, maybe throw in the smith machine press.  On each you have a variety of angles so keep the presses going for at least 5 different exercises.  A few flyes and pec decs you leave till the end.  Like I said in my article and accompanying video on the big four we focus on shifting weight in the forward-backward, up-down direction.  On your back training, it’s pull-ups and deadlifts, bent-over barbell rows (wide and narrow), single arm rows (dumbell) and leave lat-pulldowns and low pulleys until the end.  Go for solid moves only.

2. Solid moves are those that guarantee solid form.  Form is crucial.  A lot of people compromise form for intensity just to see the higher numbers on those plates and dumbells.  we should aim to build performance on top of effective and fluid movement.  I’m not denying you can bicep curl huge amounts of weight but how much of that movement has been with momentum and against little resistance.  Do you think this is going to bulk up your bicep??  Every move should be up-down, down-up, forward-backward.  Reach your full potential like this then once you plateau you can start getting fancy with bands, chains and 1.5 reps etc.

The moral of this article is then that you work to your mood so that you exercise your full potential and don’t miss any opportunity to discover your awesomeness.

Fitness Resolutions: Turn wishes into reality

movbolt

And as we slowly drift out of our slumber, recover from our pulsating headaches and realise it’s the 1st of january the aim of many is to get into shape.  Perfect time for wannabee writers like myself to impart their words of wisdom on the subject.  If I had to give one unique tip, it would be this:

Get the fitness routine in place and ignore the diet

Yep, I said it.  Don’t throw away the Chrimbo treats just yet.  It’s a gradual process but improving your wellness and wellbeing through fitness is a marathon not a sprint.  Fitness resolutions are mere wishes and only become reality through realism.  The January surge in gym attendance characterises this mindset and the subsequent lull and decline exposes the lack of willpower in fullfulling this wish.  So we need a plan in place that we are capable of following.  If Usain Bolt dreamed of becoming a double long distance gold medallist he would have failed after a few training sessions because the target was unrealistic.

buddy

The goal: Find the fittest version of ourselves

Forget all that ‘get buns of steel’ and ‘lose the manboob’ bullshit.  A simple generic goal for all of us that we can guarantee through our training is to find the fittest versions of ourselves.  Therefore, intially diet doesn’t really matter because we are just trying to get fit.  Hell, we can eat chocolate and still get fit and we can feel less guilty about a chocolate bar after a spin class.  So put the plan in place; look at your class timetable and see what appeals to you and what fits in with your work schedule.  Make sure one of those classes is a pilates or yoga class, invest in a session with a trainer.  We (at least I am anyway) are more than happy to see some clients once a fortnight where we learn new routines for them to use in their own time, thus maintaining that consistency  and guaranteeing an upward curve of progress.

055

This notion of ‘finding the fittest versions of ourselves’ is something I have embraced through our unique training system of Circular Strength Training (CST).  I met Mattia (above) in a CST seminar in Florence (sorry Firenze) and realised how with the right dedication and subsequent effort as well as the proper guidance we can do things  that were never possible before.  With CST we cover all angles and take the best elements from a multitude of disciplines including Pilates and Yoga.  Just look at Mattia in action here

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89-xEHmf9iE

The result : Fitness becomes part of our enduring culture

You get gym addicts that train hard but don’t necessarily train smart.  They forget about the enjoyment, the connection with one’s inner core and breathing and the need to remain injury-free.  The result is a series of compensations through one-dimensional training methods which they just work around with the help of analgesics.  Few can sustain this especially when conventional training does not teach you the most efficient joint-sparing movement patterns demonstrated by CST head coach Scott Sonnon here

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdWUUVTkQ-E

True the moves are advanced but the application here is for special opps; we can perform simpler versions of these moves with the application being to simply navigate around the workplace or kitchen where a lot of back-pain is experienced.  Had a great time teaching my little pregnant sister how to move around the kitchen of her new home in a more efficient manner to spare her all that pain.

2012-12-14 17.51.00

So as usual I have rambled on in order to open your eyes on what fitness is to me but it all begins with that first step of putting a plan in action.  Have a happy 2013.

Healthy regards

Saaj

Weight Training Basics – The Big Four

Saaj talking

Back again after a prolonged absence with this insight into the basics of weight training.  Thanks to my fitness manager Phil Young, videographer and photographer extraordinaire, we got this video done where I explain the importance of the big four lifts.  This is the foundation of any weights programme and everything else is supplementary.  So let us get into them one by one:

Big Lift Number 1 – BENCH PRESS

Let a teenager loose in the weights area and they just look at the bench press not quite knowing what to do.  Still eager to pop that bench press cherry they will have a go or better still get one of their buddies to show them.  The actual move is quite simple but most people find a way to bench which they find comfortable within thier own mobility constraints.  Hence it is useful to know the optimum position for each and every limb.  I explain where the arms should be and what to focus on, namely the path of the elbows;

– At the bottom of the move the elbows are still pointing downwards.

– For this the forearms must remain vertical

– Therefore your starting hand position is not too narrow or too wide, so pinky roughly on that little marked line on the bar.

Powerlifters tend to widen the hand position in order to complete the move quickly but we want to enforce that limb-to-core-connection which my coach Scott Sonnon calls Shoulder Pack.  So the elbow is never in line with the shoulder but slightly lower.

BP wrongBP correct

The left shows the wide hand position and the right photo (not perfect to my liking) is where I try and emphasise the correct alignment.  The video is a lot clearer.

Big Lift 2 – Overhead Press (OHP)

A very underemphasised move but if we forget muscle groups and think big moves it makes perfect sense to perform an exercise that works the triceps, shoulders, upper-chest, even our core and back-stabilisers.  Of course this is when done properly.  Once again, elbows stab down with forearms vertical.  We limit any lean back and press right above our head.  This helps take the lats to full length and helps us avoid that typical bodybuilder look where the arms are suspended from a compressed shoulder-joint, elbows are permanently fixed a good 30 cm from the body and arms internally rotated.

OHP wrongOHP correct

So the left shows an incorrect lean back while on the right I press right above my head and hold a natural arch which only looks excessive because my lats are quite well-developed.

Big Lift 3 – Deadlift

There are so many versions of this, to the extent that top coaches differ on technique.  I see Poles and Czechs debating the subject.  I just work on technique that recruits the strongest parts of our body in the safest and most efficient manner possible.  There are of course common mistakes which I have been guilty of and there are often mobility constraints.  In fact, 80% of the men deadlifting shouldn’t be without raising the bar on to blocks if you follow the prinicples of leading back expert Stuart McGill because most of you have really bad flexibility.  Plenty of yoga then.  In a nutshell, back needs to be straight throughout.  Heels into the ground, head up to the sky as fast as possible whilst maintaining a straight back.  What’s your maximum? Who gives a shit as long as that form is correct. Ramble over and breath.

DL wrongDL correct

No need to explain the difference but notice that I even look down in order to maintain a straight line from crown-to-tail bone.  Every magazine and demo has head up.  It looks so uncool and constipated!!

BIG LIFT 4 – SQUAT

The one that most of us hate but we have to do it.  It’s not the best leg-exercise in my opinion (for me it is the step-up) but it is by far the best weight-training move as it activates more muscles than any other weights exercise.  However, most people are reliant on their quadricep muscles and this is bad, bad, bad.  Think of abseiling; you have to lower yourself with control.  You’re now controlling the equivalent of your bodyweight so you have to use the extensors in your back and of course your upper hamstrings and glutes.  Likewise you have to get maximum power out of those two muscles in conjunction with the quads on the upward phase.  Distribtuting the weight around the body is the aim here in order to maintain the position of the squat as the ultimate move.

Squat wrongSquat correct

So this is a quick 101 on the big four.  We are always learning.  I myself am travelling to Dublin in 2013 for another workshop on the subject so look out for more on this subject.

So I’ll leave you with the full video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfTJoYsoVwM