Monthly Archives: June 2021

“1-percenters” for big fitness gains

A few years ago I read Legacy by James Kerr, the story of the New Zealand national rugby team known as the All Blacks, the single most successful team in all professional sport. With a win rate of 77.4 percent in 580 games over a period of more than 100 years you may be surprised to hear that this team has not always had it their own way.

In the late 1990’s soon after rugby union became a professional sport there were still many “hangovers” from the amateur days, the days when the players didn’t rely entirely on their rugby income to sustain themselves and their families. These hangovers were usually literally that, players notoriously used alcohol within team cultures for many purposes.

Team “bonding” where players would got rip-roaring drunk together with all inhibitions therefore removed, club allegiances and grievances were aired (and dealt with) and where new friendships quickly blossomed. Post match activities also usually involved copious amounts of alcohol in the “court sessions” where the elected players (a judge and his various court officers) would dispense fines for a variety of misdemeanours that could range from scoring too many points in a game to being dressed badly to making an error in training, whatever it was the recipient was charged, had a right of reply (the smartest kept their mouths firmly shut as to not incur further wrath) and received their fine from the “Fine Master” – most often a scull of beer, a shot or 2 of a spirit and sometimes included, on top of the drinking, an activity designed to further increase the effects of the alcohol.

Of course these type of behaviours robbed teams of their fitness and degraded team values so in the pro era teams that reigned in these traditional activities found greater success and began rising up the rankings.

I guess it’s no different in business organisations. Those that promote excessive alcohol use or turn a blind eye to it are ones that in the long term suffer – individual and team performance decreases.

The All Blacks after one particularly disastrous series of games drew a line in the sand. The drinking culture had to stop but what would they do to replace these team bonding activities? Furthermore what other areas could professional teams explore to increase performance?

One man, Wayne Smith a previously very short-lived All Blacks coach, outlined his ideas to the new coach Graham Henry. Henry had appointed Smith knowing he had qualities that despite perhaps not suiting head coaching would hugely benefit the team.

And they did, Smith outlined a series of small 1 percent improvements that had to be implemented by Henry otherwise Smith would resign. Henry knew Smith was serious with his ultimatum, allowed Smith to proceed with his initiative and there’s a very good argument that the resulting back to back World Championship wins could be traced back to Smith and his 1-percenters.

In my work with clients we are always working on the 1 percenters too. If you find 10 areas you can improve 1 percent in that 10 percent improvement could result in significant gain. And even if you only get a 1 percent in 5 areas it’s still significant enough to make a big difference.

A key consideration is how will you measure them? Sometimes the list you use is the list because they’re actually measurable. It may be awesome to attempt to increase 40 metre sprint times or jump power but without timing gates and force plates, generally unaffordable for most fitness coaches there’s no point trying to use these tests.

Here’s a list of ten 1 percenters you can implement to affect change in your fitness and health –

  • Increase your sleep by 30 minutes every night
  • Turn off your WiFi at night to decrease EMF in your living environment and increase the quality of your sleep
  • Decrease caffeine by 1 cup a day
  • Decrease alcohol intake by 25%, so if you drink on average 10 a week make it 7 or if it’s 6 make it 4 etc
  • Decrease the amount of food you eat daily, experiment by starting with half portions of everything you eat for a week – start with food journalling what you eat over 1 week to help with this exercise
  • Drink more water and less of other stuff (juice, soda etc)
  • Change your exercise from steady-state to intervals. If you do intervals already, try this protocol – any exercise you like, treadmill, bike, burpees, jumping jacks, sprints, 30 seconds FLAT OUT, 30 seconds rest for 5 minutes. Do it – FEEL IT! You’re welcome.
  • Decrease your reps on lifts in the gym to a maximum of 5 and lift heavier
  • Buy a foam roller and use it at least twice a week
  • The tenth 1-percenter is download my FREE eBook and read it, it will take you a couple of hours to read and it will level up your lifestyle – I GUARANTEE IT. Go to this link and answer a couple of questions and get my eBook, did I mention it is FREE!

Pick out 5 from the above list and implement them, do all 10 if you can, I think you will be amazed at the difference!!

Want bigger arms? Stop doing bicep curls!

I know a guy that walks into the gym I train at and immediately grabs dumbbells or a barbell and begins doing bicep curls. He often does them in his sandals, dressed like he’s going to go straight from the gym to having a coffee or lunch. I have even seen him in a short-sleeve dress shirt doing them. I actually don’t think he can go anywhere without first jacking his arms. The really worst thing is his son comes in with him sometimes and he has him doing them too. You know, like it’s a normal thing to be doing and teaching his offspring good early habits….

Back in the day I was living in Sydney and me and my mate, let’s call him Dr Evil would hit the gym 3 times a week and spent most of the time working the beach/mirror muscles. These are the ones we figured we needed to look good on the beach and the ones you see in the mirror. Did it work? No. Lessons learned? None. Were we naive? Obviously!

And in that gym in Sydney on Friday evenings there were the usual suspects doing what the aforementioned dude was doing, cranking out bicep curls in their jeans and tee shirts before hitting the strip of bars along the Manly seafront. Standard!

I know a lot of guys want to have better looking arms, ok, bigger arms and don’t argue, you know I speak the truth!

So the question is of all the fitness disciplines that you can engage in which produces the biggest arms?

Bodybuilders? CrossFit? Powerlifting or weightlifting? Millions of bicep curls? None of these in fact the fitness activity that builds the biggest arms is Strongman (this is a gender specific title that will no doubt fall foul of the woke crowd at some point, despite the fact the women do not compete in this class of sport). The Wiki link in the previous sentence tells us that the origins of strongman are the early Olympic Games plus also more recently the Scottish Highland Games where men lift, carry and throw stuff like the Farmer’s Carry, Atlas stones and (for a funny video explaining it click on the link) the caber toss.

What’s my point? Look at the arms of these strongman competitors –

Do you think these guys ever waste their time in training doing bicep curls? No. I will ask another question, in competition do they ever test how much these guys can curl? No they don’t. Here is a list of what a Strongman does in competition –

  • Farmer’s Walk – competitors race along a course while carrying a heavy weight in each hand. A variation is the Giant Farmer’s Walk, with a much heavier weight carried over a shorter distance.
  • Hercules Hold or Pillars of Hercules – contestants stand between two pillars, pivoted to fall outwards. The competitor must simply hold them up for as long as possible.
  • Vehicle Pull – competitors pull a vehicle from a stationary start for a prescribed distance – fastest over the course wins. Trucks are commonly used, but larger spectacles employ trains, boats, and airplanes.
  • Atlas Stones – a lifting stone event whereby five spherical concrete stones of increasing weight are placed on top of podia of varying height, beginning with the lightest stone lifted to approximately a normal person’s head height. Alternatively, the stone is lifted over a bar for reps.
  • Stone Carry – in Iceland, the original stone carry was performed with the Húsafell Stone, that was to be carried for a stretch to achieve the title fullsterkur (full-strong). This stone was not round but irregular, increasing the difficulty.
  • Refrigerator Carry – a staple of earlier WSM events that has made a comeback in recent years. The competitors carry two refrigerators, attached to an iron bar they hold on their shoulders, and walk it across the finish line as fast as they can.
  • Carry and Drag – an object (usually a heavy anchor) is run across half of the course. The competitors then must attach it to a chain of almost equal weight and pull it across the rest of the course.
  • Fingal’s Fingers – under a timer, lift and flip a series of progressively heavier, hinged poles from a horizontal starting position.

These guys get big strong arms by lifting, pushing and carrying heavy objects. That’s it. There’s a couple of things going on here.

Firstly and as I have mentioned many times previously, packing on muscle is about hormone manipulation. And this involves much more than lifting weights and includes your dietary behaviours and sleep patterns – you don’t have to eat and sleep like a monk but you do need to know why poor and not enough sleep disrupts your hormones plus how different foods do the same.

Secondly getting stronger is about teaching your body to lift heavy weight. Is this progressive overload? No. This is a misunderstood and poorly articulated concept that used incorrectly (90% of the time that I have observed) will actually weaken you. Training plateaus, anyone? By lifting heavy weight your arms will grow and then actually remain big. Unlike many who seem to look pumped one week and then look flat for 2 or 3, cycling between looking good and looking not good which is like a yo-yo diet but worse.

Has the chap I’ve been watching in my gym gotten bigger arms over the past 4-5 months? You now know the answer to that.

Get the basics onboard and reap the rewards!

The no strain fitness game!

I remember the first time I walked into a gym. I was 17 and had no idea what to expect. I was there because a friend of mine had told me that another mutual friend who was a runner, had built up his physique considerably over the summer and was running so much faster as a result. My buddy and I were sprinters plus both played rugby for the school so we figured we should see if the gym could help us too.

As I walked in, alone (my buddy had decided to not rock up as agreed) I was fascinated to see 2 very different types of people. There were mainly guys, this was in the early 80’s and at that time in New Zealand fitness was generally men going to the gym and women in community centres doing aerobics, the new “thing” from the US. I actually did an aerobics session once, invited by my Mum and Auntie, my brother and I thought we were super fit and would find it really easy….. Yeah, that didn’t happen! We got destroyed, I remember the abs stuff was ridiculously tough!

So here I was, in the gym that was owned by Les Mills the now very famous global fitness brand and there were 2 very distinctive types of people. Those that were sweating and those that weren’t.

Fast forward to Jakarta 15 years later. Here I was after a year being an expat in Indonesia, fat for the first time in my life and deciding action was required. So I bought a membership in a gym in one of the gleaming new commercial towers that had been built under the watchful eye of President Soeharto.

Walking into that gym in Jakarta that afternoon brought me back to my first day at Les Mills back in New Zealand. The big difference was there was only one type of person in the Jakarta gym and they were definitely not sweating.

It was something I would witness time and again in the subsequent 25 years of life in Asia in and out of gyms all over the continent.

Back in New Zealand gym-goers were either non sweaters or sweaters which at the time I didn’t know meant they were either in the gym as a way to get fitter for sport (like me) or to build muscle to get bigger in a bid to basically look better which is the “bodybuilder” mindset.

A bodybuilder mindset is all about how your body looks, everything they do training-wise is designed to make them look better. This is because traditionally that’s what a bodybuilder does, he or she stands on a stage and is judged on the shape of their body, is it in proportion, is it lean and muscular, how well does the person pose…’s true, that’s what happens.

As a result the bodybuilder isn’t always sweating it out in the gym. Except when they do “cardio” which seems to involve walking endless hours on a treadmill and they do sweat then.

So what is the no strain fitness game? Well the short answer is there isn’t one, if we remember one of life’s most important lessons, “we only get out of something what we put in” (unless it’s Bitcoin, lol…..joking of course!!).

Is my post title a little misleading, maybe it is but here’s the thing. If you want to do something to help yourself isn’t it about time you started doing it? And doing it properly?

If this past year has taught me only 1 thing, which it hasn’t it’s actually taught me a lot but if I had to peel back everything and find that one gem it’s this… No pill or potion is ever going to help me create lifelong health. The only way is to behave like we’re designed to using our body as the gym, moving using our limbs, pushing, pulling, rotating, running, squatting and lunging. It’s not about adopting some murderously tough, “Train like the Navy Seals” thing but similarly doing yoga for 3 months isn’t going to cut it either.

It’s about moving correctly, engaging the right muscles and joints the right way, engaging your energy systems across the full spectrum of aerobic and anaerobic capability and eating and resting in a complimentary fashion. And lastly it’s about your internal dialogue and keeping this language positive, not necessarily motivational just positive and using breath to focus your energy.

So there’s no gain without a little strain! Just make sure you strain with a purpose.

Want to be a lean, mean thinking machine?

Physical strength and conditioning is not about personal record lifts, maxing out push ups or pull ups, jump heights or distances or run/row times. It’s not about keeping healthy sleep patterns, eating well and using intermittent fasting plus deploying a robust mind game.

It’s ALL of this and more.

True strength and conditioning is across multiple types of exercise using a range of equipment including bodyweight, testing yourself anaerobically and aerobically, loaded and unloaded. Plus before you even get that far, are you proficient in the 7 basic movement patterns?

Choosing good foods and the right water, minimising disruptors, sleeping on a regular schedule, intermittent fasting, breathwork and meditation all play vital roles too.

Once you have covered all these bases something remarkable has started to happen and will continue to happen. You think clearer, you feel less tired and more energised, you are less distracted, overall your productivity increases and down time becomes far more enjoyable.

Why? You are optimising your functions. Truly optimised human function across the various spectrums of human physiology can only result in 1 outcome.

This outcome is a lean, mean thinking machine!

Many studies (including this review) have revealed that physical exercise has enormous cognitive function benefit. Brains actually get bigger (it’s true) and we increase our ability to problem solve, we have better memory and have increased concentration as well. Children that engage in physical activity DO BETTER AT TESTS!

Most people know that exercise will help in many areas of their lives and yet many people will find a bunch of reasons not to do it. And if they do do it, they’re dissatisfied with the results. They can’t keep a regular schedule, they get hurt, they’re sore all the time and it basically all gets too hard.


In a nutshell because they’re doing it wrong. You can’t simply buy a gym membership and roll up there 3 times a week, circle the gym randomly doing different stuff and expect something to miraculously happen. “Oh look, I’ve now got abs!” Likewise you can’t pay a few bucks a month for a random app spitting out random workouts and expect that to work either. Oh sure you may get tired at the time and feel sore the next day but is THAT what you want to achieve? Then there’s the big issue of trainers – hiring one that actually knows his/her business is no way as easy as you think. Most actually do not know what they’re doing as I explain HERE.

I know we are always looking for the quick fix and believe me when I tell you that I KNOW the fastest way for most people to a lean, mean thinking machine. There are no corners to cut, no magic pills or himalayan, deep sea minerals to gobble down but there are precise, effective measures that move people quickly to an excellent result.

You just need to know how.

I have so many clients over so many years vouching for my success, ones that actually have tangible weight losses, increased muscle mass and are fitter, leaner and stronger! They sleep better, make their way through life easier and importantly, have achieved greater cognitive function! Do I specialise in building lean, mean thinking machines? Yes, I do!

The best time management hack I’ve ever used!

I know you’re busy, you wouldn’t have clicked on this link if you weren’t. So I will make it short and to the point.

Many people are in a rush. As soon as the alarm wakes them the rush starts and the day careens off along the manic pathway you mostly without realising it are creating for yourself. Your schedule is tight, it moves quickly and you are productive. Most of the time……..some of the time? Ever?

By planning for a busy day you will create one – is this truly serving you?

I coach a lot of client’s that are just like you. Super, super busy. Busy = stress and stress = cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that will not let you build muscle and it will keep you fat.

What we really should be wanting is creating an internal environment of growth hormone (GH) abundance. With this you will shed fat and build lean muscle. Men and women.

In our 20’s and early 30’s our bodies reward us with an abundance of GH. Sadly this lifestyle Utopia is shortlived and into our later 30’s, 40’s and 50’s the tap is slowly turned off and 60’s and 70’s GH is almost non-existent. Quite why this happens can only be speculated on and usually falls into the category of the “aging process”, medical jargon for “we don’t know why”.

Fortunately for my clients, primarily men and women in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, I can help them with this challenge. I have studied this issue in depth because being mid-fifties myself I NEED TO KNOW!

How does this relate to time management?

Well unless you are willing to manage your time better you will remain in a “rush” mental state and will always be feeding your system cortisol. This will not help your fitness and health goals.

I have developed a daily hack which takes literally 15-30 minutes every day and truly works. Combined with daily data collection my clients complete in 5-10 minutes we can move your state from that of “rushed” to one of calm and flow. Being present and highly efficient with great urgency to complete tasks are all within your grasp by using this hack. Your day will flow.

So here it is.

Wake, drink water, find a quiet spot and sit, on a chair, on the floor you can even stand. Close your eyes and breathe, I recommend a protocol from a master of breathwork Wim Hof, this is it HERE. By following this breathwork your day will commence with a calm state. Once you have completed the 15 minutes of breathing you focus on your day, picking out the key components of your schedule and visualise great success with each. You can do this with your schedule in front of you or simply in your minds eye. This takes 5-10 minutes.

You must believe in your success. All of us in our DNA know we can get done what we need to do to gain success. Focus, immersion – JUMP! Everything will then flow.

What I will guarantee you is taking this type of action, following this mornng routine and combining the calming effect of the breathwork and affirming your success beliefs in each of your tasks for the day, you will achieve greater success.

Once this action is taken your next step is to make room in your schedule for investment into yourself – the 4 parts of a healthy life, sleep, exercise, food and your mental fitness – ALL of this becomes so much easier to combine once optimal state is achieved every morning and your day is guaranteed to be successful!

You schedule exercise, you know what and when you will be eating and you know your fasting schedule. Everything becomes flow. And the amazing thing is your state changes positively and your hormonal balance begins to switch from one that cortisol dominates to one that is dominated by GH. The benefits to your physical body will be huge especially when you train, eat and rest in a beneficial fashion because your body is primed for optimisation!

With the right training/exercise protocol you will thrive! Try it now and if you need a little more motivation and/or accountability, reach out to me and lets talk!