The “Calorie Counting” Trap

Most cardio equipment will have a calorie counter to tell you how many you have burned. I’ve seen people swimming in sweat, literally a pool of it surrounding their bike, after what must have been a huge grind session and all this with 850 calories expended. That’s right, 850. Most people will not get anywhere near that unless they’re flat out for 50-60 minutes and the average “cals” burned would be 500-600.

Check out how many cals a medium cappuccino and bagel with cream cheese puts into your system. Then you may start to realise counting cals may not actually be the thing you thought it was.

Do you know how they measure how many calories are in a food? Do you think someone actually eating food comes into the equation? Nope. They burn the food and measure the temperature change, a one degree Celsius change is 1 calorie, a basic explanation from McGill University in Canada is here.

A calorie is a measure of energy, which kind of makes sense as it relates to human power. Whether burning the food bears any resemblance to how mitochondria utilises nutrients in human cells to produce energy is, in my mind, highly debatable. I would go as far as to say it’s almost ridiculous.

So how then do people lose weight when they “count” calories? Well, they usually end up eating much less than they ordinarily would so they’re restricting the amount of food and therefore reverse the increasing weight gain paradigm so many of the population finds themselves in.

As I have written about previously, the human population has become subjected to manufactured foods that are highly processed and largely nutrient-deficient. For a lot of the western world this has resulted in an epidemic of obesity, as described by the WHO. Almost 40% of the world’s adult population is overweight and 13% technically obese.

After spending a significant amount of time researching the subject and attempting to understand the primary causes without the pressure of financial interests dictating outcomes, it is clear to me a primary cause is the food we eat. After all, more people suffer from too much food than not enough as is evidenced by the previously linked website.

So exactly what is the issue with counting calories? Here are the problems –

  • there’s a tenuous relationship between the true energy contribution of food and what values are attached to them by the term calorie
  • focussing on numbers distracts people from the quality of the foods they’re consuming
  • focussing on numbers can mean other highly relevant concepts are not considered such as intermittent fasting (IF)
  • focussing on numbers takes away from understanding the origins of food

We should be focussing on IF and food quality, primarily nutrient density and choosing whole foods. These concepts are the ones most people should be building their nutrition plan around and especially that of their children. A focus that is purely on numbers is simple to do but not beneficial and it is based on flimsy science – it’s not the only flimsy science seen in the fitness industry, think 220-your age as a maximal heart rate for training purposes – bunk!

I survey the fitness and health scene frequently and am always questioning what people are doing. Way too many times I see a reliance on calorie counting as a means for determining food selection – this is a big error. Change you ways people!

Using the treadmill? Injury coming!

I have built 2 gyms, am building one now and was involved in building several others. And I have never bought a single treadmill. A newspaper in Singapore headlined a story about my business as “the gym without a treadmill”. I really do not like them and have always had a strong dislike. Why?

In the old days I just couldn’t understand why someone would drive a car to a gym to run on one and then drive the car home again. I thought being outside running the streets was really fun, beating times and setting personal bests, sprinting and walking alternative power poles, sprinting hills – I loved it.

There was a reason for this running and the variations. I played at a decent level of football back in New Zealand and represented my area on many occasions. The work I did on the roads was prescribed by a variety of coaches and one in particular, Jim Henderson who’s name and face I will never forget had a profound effect on my sports fitness in general. I think he was years ahead of his time when it came to fitness. He had us doing repeat sprints at a protocol of 1 to 1 before anyone was talking about work:rest cardio. And it definitely helped because we won the New Zealand national championship with Jim coaching when I was 16 years old.

So years later seeing fitness and gyms becoming more mainstream it literally blew me away to see what fitness meant to some people and the driving to a treadmill was a big one. It’s not limited to just the treadmill of course. There’s SO MUCH hahaha! Regular readers will know what I mean.

From a physiological standpoint there’s a big issue with regular treadmill use.

There are 7 human basic movement patterns of which a curiously named movement called “gait” is one. Gait means walking, jogging, running and sprinting and from a biomechanical standpoint essentially means hip internal rotation that creates locomotion being forward movement. The key words here are hip internal rotation.

Anyone experienced piriformis syndrome? Psoas syndrome or inactivity or sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction? I am very sure a lot of the issues we face in the hip/glute complex including issues in the lumbar, hamstrings and quads are tied up with treadmill use. Why?

Well locomotion when running requires hip internal rotation. When on a treadmill there’s no locomotion, you don’t move, the tread on the mill moves and as a result peripheral muscles must do their job. These muscles such as quads, hamstrings and calves work as normal but their relationship with the hips and glutes is different because there’s no hip rotation. As a result the muscles in these locations do not work properly, if at all. There’s a serious problem at the interface of these muscle groups and the joints associated with them.

Frequent long term misuse of the human musculoskeletal system results in chronic injury. In this instance it is clearly overuse of treadmills. Ask your physio if you’re experiencing piriformis or psoas syndromes or an inactive SI joint why you are experiencing it and they usually have to guess. There’s never really a standout reason.

I am beginning to think it’s very obvious! Get off the treadmill and get outside.

Testosterone replacement therapy, anyone?

Modern medicine concerns me on a number of levels. The introduction of synthetic chemicals to the human body on the face of it should be problematic. Big pharma goes to the lengths it has to, to provide safety data but the methods it uses are highly questionable. Don’t believe me check out articles here, here and here.

Ancient medicines, such as Traditional Chinese, Korean, African, European, Iranian and Indian Ayurvedic among others, all had and some continue to have huge amounts of detail around treatments of ailments that for the large part are not only ignored, maligned and dismissed by modern medical professionals but also organisations like the American Medical Association (AMA) prosecute practitioners and their patients for using them. It’s actually unbelieveable that the AMA and other similar organisations in other countries can do this under the guise they are saving people from injury and yet willingly allow doctors to inject chemicals into newborn babies – I am a little on the fence with some of this practice, ok a LOT on the fence.

Why are modern medical professionals ignoring the advice of Hippocrates the “Father of Medicine” who uttered that famous sentence, “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”? I honestly do not understand why we have gone so very wrong with medical practices. Are you aware that medical “errors” are usually in the top 2 or 3 causes of death in most developed nations? In the US it is the third leading killer at 250,000 per year – I am serious here is an article.

Don’t get me wrong I am a big supporter of our medical system as it relates to helping people in emergencies. Life saving equipment and systems that help medical people save lives are literally modern miracles. Where I draw the line is “pharmaceutical healthcare” – to me it’s an oxymoron. Health and drugs are not compatible concepts.

Health is about fitness, nutrition, rejuvenation, rest and sleep and a positive, open-minded attitude, one that cultivates good things in your life.

High levels of communication with the people that are important to you, taking time for yourself and spending time with those around you and not taking things too seriously thereby managing stress, are all basics in our lives.

And all of them contribute to high levels of health.

Pills and injections don’t make you healthy. They are temporary measures that suppress symptoms when you are sick – the body then heals itself, the human body is always regenerating itself and when aided by healthy nutritional practices and rest, these illnesses are healed.

Foundational activities in building great health therefore require attention to nutrition and herein lies a big issue. Too much processed food is consumed by too many people and much of this food is of quite frankly, appalling quality. It seems the manufacturers of these foods and that word “manufacturer” should concern most people if they’re eating a lot of this type of food, rank importance of things like colour, taste and shelf life ahead of nutritional value.

Nutritional value is all that counts with food. I’m dead serious. Of course most restaurants especially the expensive ones, cafes and of course fast food outlets place zero importance on nutritional value. Trust me, they don’t. Their important considerations are getting a high price and getting you to come back next week – nutritional value usually doesn’t even come into the equation.

If you eat out a lot and/or get food delivered a lot my message to you is beware. Hippocrates had it right when he uttered those immortal words. Too much food of highly questionable nutritional value will make you sick. A lot of food of high nutritional value will help you heal. This is a great book that highlights exactly what I am talking about.

One of the key functions digested food plays is in hormone creation. A high nutritional value diet based on whole foods with high quality water and reduced contaminants will build a highly functioning human organism. In the opposite environment issues will crop up quickly.

As men especially age, maintaining adequate testosterone production is a big issue. Women need testosterone but have more estrogen. Both men and women need both hormones but at way different levels of each. These are the sex hormones but their role extends past simply libido and includes bone health, cognitive performance and even the quality of brain tissue. We know that testosterone is key to energy and vitality and many men suffer terribly with low levels.

Doctors generally will immediately prescribe testosterone replacement therapy. More chemicals.

So why do we prosecute those that are trying to administer true healthcare in the form of food as stated by the “Father of Medicine”?

You can be your own healer, you can take control of your personal healthcare by simply paying attention to what you eat and drink. Your performance as a man or woman will increase in many areas – you won’t need a doctor asking you to inject chemicals into your body. You will sleep better, you will wake up better, you wll concentrate better, you will have more energy and drive, you will be a better father, mother, husband, wife, partner.

Trust me there’s a LOT to take away when you start improving your relationship with food!

Going backwards on weekends

A lot of people with jobs they’re not completely in love with or lives that aren’t fulfilling them enough act out over weekends when they’re able to switch off a bit. This is not abnormal behaviour and I would think it’s more frequently the case with people than infrequently the case.

I spent most of my twenties living in Sydney doing a job I kind of liked, never really loved and on weekends letting rip with alcohol a mainstay of the tear-it-up approach to Saturdays and Sundays when not having a job to go to and not having a schedule to follow.

I arrived in Jakarta as a 32 year old with a well paying job on an expat package living in a city that swamped me with its size, vibe and downright craziness.

I’m in Jakarta and I’m living large. Weekends were my opportunity to play up and I did it, big time. Most weekends went like they did back in Sydney, I slogged it through until Friday afternoon and then it was, “what’s on tonight?!” And then suddenly my alarm is going off and it’s Monday morning again and I’m lying in bed wondering where my precious weekend disappeared to?

I did that for close to 15 years. What a waste, oh it was fun but wow, I learned and learned quickly that if I was to continue down the path I was on it would lead to disaster. I woke up one Sunday morning, a raging hangover and surveyed the scene of my body in the bathroom mirror. It was not pretty. A large protruding belly being the piece-de-resistance of my past years “work” there in the Indonesian capital.

I made a decision then and there that changed my life – if it sounds like a cliche so be it but that’s exactly how it happened.

I knew that weekends were ruining me, I was binge drinking on Friday and Saturday nights interspersed with the odd Wednesday or Thursday session. I decided I would enforce a alcohol limit for every 7 days and it was 6 beers. I made that commitment to myself that morning in the mirror. One fine Sunday a few months later and a few kilo’s lighter I sat down to watch my footy team play on TV. I decided to grab a beer and began doing a mental calculation of how many I could drink being the last day of the 7 and to my astonishment it dawned on me that I had not had a drink all week – that Sunday was the beginning of a 2 year tee-total period. I got 2 weeks in, then 2 months, then a year and I decided I was fine without drinking. It did change of course and I did start drinking again and I actually love an ice-cold beer. But it can stop at 1 these days which it couldn’t back then.

I look back on the last 20 years and there are some awesome takeaways when it comes to my fitness and health, becoming a personal trainer, building a highly successful fitness business, shareholders, landlords, employees, market developments, Govt regulations etc etc. As a result of all of this and among the variety of things I do I am developing a personal trainers coaching course and am using the first iteration of it with some people that I will be employing.

In my opinion one of the key elements is understanding that we can measure fitness and we can measure sickness but that word, that description that sits in between sickness and fitness, “wellness”, we can’t measure. Medical people can help us not be sick and therefore by default we are “well” but what does this mean? The founder of CrossFit, Greg Glassman asked this question and still does. It’s not measurable and therefore a grey area whereas fitness, that can be measured and generally the fitter we are, the healthier we are, health being something we can also measure.

I work with clients very closely on a variety of their lifestyle habits, all of which are based on the 4 pillars I have previously written about here. When we discuss habits it is no surprise to me that most struggle over weekends maintaining discipline around food and alcohol. Late nights with parties and catch-ups also derail the best laid plans. There is definitely a western societal predisposition to Friday and Saturday nights being ones to play up a bit, drink a little more, eat a little more, stay up later and it has a really tough outcome come Monday morning and noses back to the grindstone.

In the business I built in Singapore, my management team had a Monday morning meeting at a fairly leisurely 9am kickoff. One member of the group missed the meeting constantly because he just couldn’t get out of bed on a Monday morning. In another business in Thailand my head coach struggled to get out of bed for a 7am class on Monday’s, every other day he was fine. The rock band Boomtown Rats sang “I don’t like Mondays” and I think this resonates with many people.

I have clients now that have their great work through a previous week completely undone by weekend habits. Does it happen to me as well? Sure it does but on Monday I know how bad the damage is because as regular readers will know I weigh myself every day. It’s a habit, I do it because I want to know if my other habits are contributing to a healthy Darren or otherwise. A weekend of some indulgence needs to be acknowledged and dealt with. Afterall increasing weight is closely linked to increasingly bad health so why wouldn’t I be checking it?

My advice to everyone reading this is weigh yourself frequently. Check out the numbers on Fridays and Mondays over say a month or 6 weeks. Is there a trend? Where is the trend heading, up or down? Examine your behaviours over the weekends. If you’re deviating significantly from “normal” and it’s contributing to weight gain, how do you better manage this behaviour? You may not want to and that is fine but there are 2 things here.

  1. don’t be surprised to find yourself increasingly frequently visiting the doctor
  2. don’t also be surprised finding your energy, concentration and moods deteriorating

I hate to sign off on a negative note but only you can fix stuff that’s broken. Acknowledgement of a problem is the first step, identifying how to solve it and then an action plan follow.

Just Do It!

Is running ruining your fitness?

An intentionally thought provoking title and actually a title that has a lot of substance. Generally most people get running for fitness gains completely wrong.

The only exception to this statement is for people that run because they compete in running races. Otherwise you’re probably actually derailing your real fitness goals by engaging in too much running. This also applies to excessive bouts of cardio in gyms on ellipticals, bikes, treadmills, rowers, ski ergs and stairmasters (yes, they still make them!)

Skinny-fat, anyone? And no this isn’t a new Starbucks type of coffee. It’s what a lot of people that engage in excessive cardio are described as and a very uncomplimentary description it is.

Even well regarded resources such as Healthline have weighed into the debate on “skinny fat” and its article here talks about the condition.

But here’s the problem and Healthline’s article manages to reveal it very accurately. Moving from a state of skinny-fat to lean and strong can be achieved “with exercise” but like most advice around this subject it doesn’t go into to any detail what exercise(s) should be done.

This is very common in my understanding of where we are at right now in the fitness industry. A large group of people working but lacking a lot of the basic education around the keys to client success. And a larger group regular people wanting to “get fit” with even less understanding of what it takes.

It’s obvious that there are many new people in the fitness industry being one of the key industries of growth in the new millennium. Prior to the year 2000 I read an article suggesting fitness would be a boom industry after the clock ticked into the 2000’s, as long as the Y2k bug didn’t destroy the planet first!

Running seems to be a natural thing for us to do as humans and it is, gait is one is the 7 basic movement patterns so walking, jogging, running and sprinting are natural movements.

The issue is that coupled with the movement pattern we also have an energy demand and a hormonal response. So there are a number of factors at play when we run. Plus there’s also the issue of the human musculoskeletal system that is surprisingly fragile when we undertake movement patterns frequently over time. Sitting is a big issue because sitting is not a natural position for us. Commercial drivers of taxi’s, trucks etc have added issues. These positions produce chronic joint issues over time.

So does running. Even though we’re moving, we’re moving in a set pattern and if that pattern is being influenced by joints and/or muscles that aren’t working efficiently then we are on a collision course with a chronic/overuse injury.

We’re also having a deleterious effect on our hormonal balance, I’ve shared these 2 pics several times in posts previously, both world champions, one is skinny and is always fighting with a compromised immune system and the other is strong, lean and healthy. And all of these symptoms and results are directly related to the way in which they each train. Yes they both run but there the similarities end.

Bolt V Kipchoge, muscular, lean and healthy V skinny, not as lean as you would expect and not real healthy

Bolt does fast intervals over short distances, lifts heavy weights and weight gain to him just means more power which means another world record or medal.

Kipchoge runs miles and miles at a continuous, steady state, likely doesn’t lift weights because he probably doesn’t have the time and weight gain is bad because it slows him down and means he’ll miss a medal.

Why do these 2 scenarios occur? One training style creates a growth hormone dominant profile and the other, a cortisol dominant one. It really is that simple.

Which picture do you want?

My advice is cut down your running and general cardio and do high intensity intervals for fitness and body composition gains, the science and real-world results prove this is the right approach!

The Ultimate Weapon in Fitness

There is always an ultimate weapon, no matter what you are doing.

Fitness is no different.

For many years in the fitness game I was a proponent of the 3 pillars of a healthy lifestyle, nutrition, exercise and rest. I gave talks, wrote articles and constantly banged on about the 3 pillars. I firmly believed these are the keys.

And then a few years ago and after many others had discovered this, it dawned on me that I was wrong. Firstly I did a course in neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and the power of the unconscious (or sometimes referred to the subconscious) mind and how it influences behaviour, our biases, our vocabulary and actually, a significant chunk of our lives.

It is what we think it is, we are who we think we are, things happened the way we thought they did – even if they didn’t. There are loads and loads of examples of situations that occurred that people witnessed DIFFERENTLY. Scenes of accidents are the most commonly misinterpreted events recorded (who recorded them?) because the trauma that occurred shaped perceptions and the subsequent recollections of events in those that witnessed them. The worse the event the more variation in the witness accounts. Quite likely because the brain decides to filter extremely traumatic events so we don’t have too many bad memories. True story.

The minds that men and women have are incredibly rich in storage capacity and creativity. When you consider the accomplishments of so many people over many thousands of years it’s clear that we are blessed with powers that I believe many have no idea how to activate – and I include myself in that category. The only thing about that that I wish to point out is this.

I built a fitness business worth multimillions of dollars (when I sold my shareholding) with only $10,000 of my own money and yeah I made a more than 100x return on that 10k plus I also helped a number of others (shareholders that exited) make a lot of money too.

I firmly believed that if I built a business with certain attributes it would be an unqualified success. In my mind there was no limit to what I could achieve because I was passionate about it, I was skilled in the area, I had business experience both as a senior employee and in running my own business and I was determined, very, very determined.

Crucially (it now transpires) I had also imagined what I wanted the business to look like. I had daydreamed my way to a vision of it in many facets of the business from who my employees would be, to how the business would be run and even on how I could successfully exit the business. These details were firmly etched in my minds eye and were coupled with passion and experience that I just knew would bring me and the team success.

The plan came together very nicely and after just over 7 years I left the business and moved country. Then the fun really began. I threw myself into learning. I didn’t ever really enjoy school, I thought it was boring and didn’t see a point to it. I did tertiary level studies for an engineering certificate which was a little more interesting and then a Masters in nutrition and exercise science which was much better in terms of knowledge gathering and interested me greatly.

And then I did the NLP studies and wow, did that open my eyes. The power of our minds is in fact limitless, it sounds like a catchphrase and probably corny too but it is so very true. What we believe to be our reality, is in fact just that and the way we can change a situation is firstly understanding we can change it and then secondly, going about affecting change.

Next time when you are in a sticky situation or one that doesn’t seem to have a path out, say to yourself, “imagine for a moment this situation has ended. How did it end, what happened to end it?” Let your mind run free with options!

This leads me to why be in a box, why attach a description to yourself, why act like you’re supposed to? How much of your life is lived because that’s the way you’ve been taught to live it? We have been conditioned from birth to believe certain truths that with closer examination do not pass even basic scrutiny. Our brains and minds are plastic and highly malleable!

Where am I going with this? Ok, our minds are very powerful tools, “whether you think we can or you think you can’t, you are right”. I find it remarkable that when seeing interviews of people that have completed some of the most incredible feats in business, human endeavour and sports achievements, these people almost seem to dismiss what they’ve done as not necessarily easy but almost like it was just another day at the office. They are in the position of stating that they were just doing what they do, what comes naturally. Look at Tiger Woods, I remember seeing him as a 3 year old on the American TV show, “That’s Incredible” with his Dad hitting golf shots and being so really good at a very young age. I think all of us have talents, not necessarily sports it could be music, acting, maths, writing, whatever. Woods’ Dad could have tried a bunch of things before they finally picked up a golf club. Look at Andre Agassi his father built him into a tennis player and Andre hated the sport but his father insisted. They created Andre maybe how Tiger was created. In the field of business, wealthy business owners groom sons and daughters for roles in businesses all the time and I am sure similar things happen in all walks of life.

All of us have much power and it is locked in our minds. We have to open the door to this power.

If kids can do it with guidance from parents, can adults do it with external guidance and internal fortitude? What’s the key component?

Belief. What drives this? A mind that can see an outcome? One that has an unbending desire and fierce determination to achieve their dream?

Therefore I decided there are actually 4 pillars, nutrition, exercise, rest and our mind game, our mental fitness. This last one, the newest addition, it’s more important than the other 3, period. It literally underpins the entire pyramid.

The gold level of our health is how we approach it mentally. The word hypochondriac describes exactly the opposite to what I am talking about, someone that spends an inordinate amount of time thinking they’re ill or sick. As much as this individual uses his mind to be sick we can flip this and use it to be in a mindset of great health. What about the placebo effect? Time and again in medicine we hear of people using their minds for beneficial medical outcomes.

Previously I have shared research proving that a test group during a strength training intervention did nothing but visualise doing the training and ended up with a significant increase in strength. In another study, researchers at the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, US found that by simply imagining doing bicep curls over a period of weeks, strength in the arm increased by 13.5%. Mental imagery of successful lifting of weights has also proven to be highly beneficial in a research setting.

Our minds are immensely powerful and I believe most people only scratch the surface of their capabilities. Over many years I tried meditation with mixed success. I now use breathwork very effectively and this also works well with my visualisation that I have used frequently in my life. I encourage all my clients to use breathwork as I believe it unlocks a lot of possibilities for us.

Whether you believe you can or you believe you can’t – you are right.

The glass is always half full, begin using your innate power and it will underpin significant success in your life!

James Bond training sessions

Imagine for a moment you are James Bond and you have to be super fit to do the amazing shit you do. Plus it’s an urgent job this time and you have like 2 weeks to shed some pounds and get stronger. Recently, unlike the old dude that had a kid that he didn’t know about and that was happy spear fishing on a Carribbean island driving a Jeep around, you have been out playing poker in the biggest casino’s in the world while chasing unimaginably beautiful women around dodgy night clubs in Hong Kong – and have the paunch above your belt to prove it. Q can provide you with what you need to get in the best shape you can in 2 weeks because Tomorrow Never Dies and you don’t want to Die Another Day. Sorry. Kind of.

Sadly whatever incredible equipment Q could have dreamed up for you does not materialise and all you have is a rack of dumbbells.

What does Q suggest?

Firstly he doesn’t have you sitting down on a recumbent bike doing dumbbell whatevers while watching tv, mainly because you can’t use a bike and certainly not one with a tv attached to it and secondly because this is just plain silly –

Q created workout – not.

Q knows that the single best thing he can do in a short period of time is tap into your hormones and let them go to work. You can see immediate weight loss and greater strength by doing this.

Q prescribes the following –


  • Dumbbell floor presses, 5-6 reps followed by dumbbell renegade rows, same reps. You want the bells to be heavy enough so that you are struggling to get that 5th/6th rep. 5 sets with at least a 2 minute rest between sets.
  • 10 minute EMOM – min 1, as many burpees as possible in 30 seconds and rest 30, min 2, push up supermans for 30 seconds, rest 30 and min 3, go back to burpees and continue for 5 rounds of each. Supermans are demonstrated here, go to 30 secs and do the variation that callenges you most!

Tuesday – run. If you are a regular runner, run 1 km at a faster pace than you would usually run and then rest. However long that takes you to run, rest the same period, so if it takes you 5 minutes 30, rest for 5 minutes 30 and then do it again and do at least 3 rounds. If you can’t run, power walk and if you cannot do this either then you risk facing the wrath of Q!


  • Dumbbell front rack lunge walks, 10 reps followed by dumbbell standing woodchops, 5 each side. Same thoughts on the dumbbell selection for these exercises as per Monday. 5 sets of both with at least a 2 minute rest between sets. If you don’t know what a wood chop looks like check out this guy, he goes a bit too fast so slow them down but otherwise, he demonstrates pretty good form.
  • EMOM 10 minute (work for 1 minute, rest for 1 minute for 5 rounds). 30 seconds of mountain climbers (as fast as possible) then straight into 30 seconds of squat jumps, rest 1 minute and keep repeating for 4 more rounds. Count your total mountain climbers and squat jumps and maintain your numbers!


  • Same as the Tuesday run


  • Dumbbell deadlift (2 arms) straight into dumbbell bentover row, down to deadlift and back to row, keep repeating for 5 of each, THIS is a pretty good video explaining the movement with a barbell (you will be using dumbbells because Q told you too, of course!) Do 5 rounds of this with a minimum 2 minutes rest and again with heavy-ish dumbbells.
  • EMOM 15 minutes (work for 30 seconds on and off for 3 exercises, 5 rounds). Minute 1 do 30 seconds of dumbbell thrusters, minute 2, 30 seconds of switchunders (go to 1.05 minute and use these side kick throughs he calls them) and minute 3, 30 seconds push up T rotations.

Do this workout, 007, for 2 weeks! BOOM! It’s For Your Eyes Only so no sharing and make sure you get the wole program done, 100%, because it’s No Time to Die.

Enjoy because even if you’re not James Bond this workout will work wonders and thrash The Living Daylights out of you.

Burning calories v. your health

There’s good news and bad news when it comes to getting on a treadmill to burn off those weekend drinks or that huge meal you ate last night. Or that chocolate bar after it.

The bad news is, it actually doesn’t really work like that but the good news is, at least you’re willing to do something about your bad habits. And yes, excessive food and alcohol intake are bad habits that left unchecked will literally be the downfall of your health.

The problem is you can’t balance out bad habits with good ones. Again, it doesn’t work like that. What we must do is work on the bad habits, this is essential for better health.

I am 56 years old, 12% bodyfat at 84kgs, can easily rep 120kgs on deadlifts, can sprint (well, not right now – see my last post on that) and play a decent game of tennis. Am I fit? Am I healthy? I eat minimally and have very little processed food in my diet, don’t eat meat, intermittent fast, get 8 hours of sleep every night and don’t drink much (alcohol, that is).

My health status is very good and I rarely even get the flu. My fitness is therefore having a direct, positive effect on my health.

You will note I said I eat minimally with very little processed food. I eat like this because I have determined that as a species we have completely lost the plot with food. Completely.

We look for foods we like to eat, which usually means they’re bad for us. We eat too much of these foods as we eat too much food, period. We eat based on what advertising and promotional materials tell us are healthy options and through history this has simply not worked. The “low” or “no fat” movement that happened in the 1990’s is a great example of a terrible piece of advice that got gobbled up (sorry) by the masses, much to their detriment. But there’s been plenty more even the good old, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” and “eat 3 square meals a day”, both fallacies that create issues for us.

We’re always wanting to try the new restaurant, the new cafe, cocktail or we line up for some new fish-tasting crisps (you have to be in Asia for that one) hoping to find something new and unusual for our taste buds.

And as long as these things are treats not staples it’s all good. But quite often they’re not. As we’ve become more affluent, we’ve become lazy and prefer to eat out or have food delivered, having zero control over the origins of the food or it’s preparation and the general quality of it.

As I’ve often written, food is literally the building blocks of our human tissue regeneration. Our bodies are always regenerating and just like a building, if these blocks are of poor quality it will crumble and collapse and our bodies are exactly the same.

Feed your body haphazardly with little attention to quality and pay the price.

So eating (or drinking) badly and excessively thinking you can “burn it off” is almost infantile thinking and as I said, won’t work.

I’ve discussed the concept of the fat burn zone in previous posts and while the premise is somewhat accurate the issue is most people are eating too frequently to actually ever be able to burn fat this way. If you eat every few hours you are constantly processing food and therefore your body constantly has energy available to it. So thinking you can burn stored fat in this environment is simply not going to happen.

Your focus must be on food quality –

  • Eat nutrient dense foods such as nuts, seeds, eggs, green leafy vegetables, berries and some oils (olive, coconut being 2).
  • Buy as locally and as fresh as possible.
  • Try to limit cooking, many foods do not need cooking to eat and cooking rarely enhances the quality of any food.
  • Avoid cheap foods, it’s usually the case that cheap means low quality, sad but true and this is especially the case for bottled water.

In focussing on food quality you will not store excessive amounts of fat. And by deploying a good intermittent fasting strategy, you will use fat as a fuel for large parts of your day.

Finally, burning calories is the wrong mindset. The correct mindset is turning your body into a fat burning machine by training the right way and eliciting the hormonal response that benefits you best. I wrote about this in this post here.

This will result in you becoming leaner, stronger, fitter – I am prepared to guarantee it!

Getting a good injury

Is there such a thing as a good injury? In most opinions I think people would say no but as most of you will know by now, I don’t usually have opinions most could agree with. Am I a contrarian? I guess I am as discussing something with someone that shares the same opinion is boring, right? Let’s find a subject we can disagree on and chat about that.

Sadly the popular stand being taken on many fronts right now is a collective one. We’re all in this together, let’s all stay home, shut down businesses and social distance to “save the healthcare system”. Collectively done this will result in a success, right? What about the economy, other undetected and untreated illnesses, education, social interaction and family bonds? Nah, stuff all them, we’re collectively saving the healthcare system, you know that one that works so well in the US, UK, Europe etc. So collectively we’re ruining lives but collectively saving systems that didn’t work very well originally anyway – makes sense to this contrarian. Not.

I don’t want to always argue a different opinion it just seems the one that makes sense to me always puts me in the minority.

So you can imagine the surprise of my friends the other day when I pulled up due to a hamstring spasm during a sprint and that I now say this was a good injury. Ok so I didn’t suffer a major tear, in fact I would say it’s a very light sprain almost to the point where 72 hours later I am not feeling it while walking.

With several friends I do an interval fast run/sprint session on Saturday mornings. Gait is a human movement pattern and a basic human function so running is a prerequisite for normal function and something we must practice. You may also think walking is in this category and you are right but we walk all the time so usually there’s no need to practice it. But isn’t it remarkable how good you feel after doing a purposeful walk, especially if done with your dog, or a friend or your partner. There’s really something bond-like going on with us hormonally combining walking with spending time with your favourite animal or human!

Last Saturday we were doing a favourite routine, 3 sets of 5 by 1 minute sprints with 1 minute rest and a 5 minute break between the 3 sets. The first round of 5 we did there and back over 230 metres, the second round there and back over 270 metres and the last round of 5 sprints over 300 metres. The last round getting back in a minute was tough and personally I was right on the limit and the 4th run as we arrived back at the start my hammy spasmed and I stopped in my tracks.

Two athletic men carrying their injured friend during marathon and helping him to finish the race.

I went home immediately and iced it and after 10 minutes I did a gentle stretch before icing again. Through the day I used a compression bandage that I also wore overnight. Sunday I had a busy day and no time to do anything except compression through the night again.

Why did I ice and stretch? Some time ago I met a very interesting physiotherapist that suggested I do this with minor strains. His argument was minor tears/strains bunched up a small area of fibres that if allowed to remain bunched up would result in scar tissue forming around it (in a knot). This knot would take a longer time to rehabilitate than if we were to straighten them out while they were still soft and pliable in the immediate period post-injury/trauma. This will be the third or fourth time I have treated a soft tissue injury like this myself and I have a 100% record in doing it this way.

Why then is this a good injury?

Well if I am training and I injure myself I can easily usually determine what went wrong and take learnings from it. Saturday I was simply running too hard and my body failed. I am 56 and am as fit as a butchers dog (true story) and I was pushing myself to the absolute max and my body said, “hold up dude!” Conversely if I was playing tennis, soccer, touch footy or golf and did the same thing I would regard it as a bad injury – my training is designed to keep me operating optimally in my sports and I know my limits there and have learned to not push these boundaries too much. I am no help to my game or my team mates if I get injured at sport.

Through all my training there is a point to it. I never do anything without good reason. I think we all should train this way whether for attaining your ideal weight, all-round health and fitness or simply maximising your quality of lifestyle.

If you want to take control of your health and fitness, get in touch!

5 tips for quicker workouts

I love the gym and I love the energy that regular gym-goers bring. There’s something about walking into your favourite gym and seeing the familiar faces all doing their thing, running, pushing, lifting, jumping and more. I always get a buzz and as soon as my headphones are in I can switch that accumulated energy into focussing on what I am there to do.

I know my plan well in advance of arrival at the gym – I rarely make stuff up on the fly, the exception is when someone is using the piece of equipment I need. And this rarely occurs as I can always switch stuff around.

My time outside of the gym is valuable, I am guessing just like yours so I really don’t want to waste it with poor planning or execution. I love to catch up with people and I factor in a bit of this to my timing but otherwise I try to be strict on my schedule.

The interesting thing is I do watch and see what others are doing and sadly, I see a lot of time-wasting. It’s cool if you’re in the situation that you have 2 or more hours for your daily session but many aren’t in that position or don’t want to be in that position.

So here are 5 tips for you to better manage your fitness time –

  1. Schedule your training for early morning or late afternoon. Lunchtime sessions can be easily derailed by colleagues, customers, family, errands or laziness! The very best time to train is first thing in the morning. Not only is it a lot harder for it to be disrupted at this time by the things that disrupt the lunchtime session, for instance but by training early you will also give yourself more energy for the day ahead. Personally I always preferred afternoon/evening training and I always got it done but other commitments meant I had to switch to mornings – and I soon realised what I had been missing out on! Gym and general exercising in the a.m. is the bomb! If morning really doesn’t work (and I am sceptical why that should be) then after work will have to be it.
  2. Have a goal for why you are training (weight loss, a race or competition, health reasons – there’s a variety of markers you can use and many are becoming more readily accessible with “at home” test kits) and plan sessions around this goal. I do my strength and mobility training on Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday’s and do outdoor strength and cardio sessions on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s and finally I do an interval running session on Saturdays (I also play tennis twice a week). My goals are all around my athleticism as it relates to tennis primarily but not only for that. Within athleticisim I put speed, agility, strength, cardio endurance, joint resilience, power and dynamism. All of us have basic physical function we need to maintain, the next level is basic athleticism and then fine-tuning for any sports or physical pursuits we engage in – there must be a PURPOSE to what you are doing and it must progress. Random does not cut it.
  3. Put a time limit on your sessions. My Saturday session will be 30-45 minutes dependent upon the work-rest protocol for that day. And that is determined by the macro-cycle I am in. My gym sessions are 60 minutes. The Tuesday and Thursday sessions are 45 minutes. I can pare back all sessions if required by eliminating optional warm up protocols and decreasing rest times (I run a clock on all my weight lifting and outdoor sessions).
  4. Ditch the time-wasting exercises. What are these? Anything that doesn’t challenge you! 25 reps of anything will give you a “burn” but I can assure you physiologically you are wasting your time. Same with ambling on a treadmill or watching tv on a bike. You get nothing out of either (unless you’re watching a decent documentary and you may have learned something). Add to that “crunches” of anything, pec-dec stuff, leg extension stuff, bicep curl machine stuff – there’s probably too much to mention. Don’t do this stuff, do exercises and protocols that work, do it time-efficiently and move on!
  5. Plan your sessions or at least have bullet-pointed notes on what you are doing that day. I am AMAZED at the number of professional people I know that are extremely well organised in every part of their lives except their fitness and health. And yes fitness relates directly to health and like health markers, fitness is measurable, unlike the term and concept of “wellness”. What exactly does being “well” mean, anyway?

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