Coaching Sessions: Mon-Fri, 6/7/9am & 5/6/7pm

A big issue with getting into a training regime is beating that mental barrier of actually starting something. 

A perfect example would be New Year's resolutions, where we all start January of every year with those good intentions and by 1st February, 95% of us have already quit. 

Being a parent also places a lot more stress upon us as let's be honest, our needs and wants are way down the list. 

For some of us (not everyone though), no matter how much we would like to, committing to a 5 day a week, 12 week transformation will be unrealistic, so telling yourself you can and will, may only end up setting yourself up for failure. 

What would be better would be to set realistic goals that are achievable and progress from there.

For most people that simply means telling yourself you will do something, once. 

No mental commitment to keep it going. 

You will go for a run, you will attend a class, or you will go to the local gym and lift some weights. 

It could be as simple as doing a 10-15 minute Kettlebell or bodyweight workout in the kitchen or it could be taking the dog out for a brisk paced walk.

Whatever it is you decide to do, just do it with the attitude of, "if I like it, I will do it again, if I don't, I won't."

Be open-minded and willing to try multiple things until you find something that's able to fit into your schedule. 

Once you have found it, keep focusing on the principle of single workouts. 

Tell yourself "if I enjoyed it, I will do it again, if I don’t, I won't BUT... I will ensure I try something else!” 

It is that simple, but you MUST commit to something! You cannot allow your mind to justify running away from what it is you KNOW you need to do!

By only focusing on that one workout, without the added pressure of having to think about completing weeks and weeks of training, you may find that without realising it, you will soon find you have built habits and before you know it, regular training sessions become part of your life. 

Some days it may be an hour, others 10-15 minutes, other days you may not get a session in. 

That's fine, as long as you are doing more than you once were, you will improve.

So try it, commit to one single workout this week and if you like it, commit to another. If you don't, find something else and give it a go. 

Let me know how you get on and when you feel ready to commit to programmed, coached training with an experienced expert, give Primal a shout and you can try us for four weeks for ONLY £77

Ladies, gentlemen, stop everything you are doing and give me five minutes of your time.

Then read on, I may have the answer to your prayers.

The problem with all these classes is the way they are designed. 

This industry literally hundreds of thousands of £££££ on marketing brands. 

They use adverts, celebrities, articles, and models with perfect bodies (who by the way, do not use these classes to get in that shape) to trigger an emotional response and get you to buy into the brand. 

They jazz it up and use those buzz words designed to tug on your emotions and reel you in.

The facts are this. 

Within a matter of a few weeks, you can turn your body into a lean, mean, fat-torching machine!

HOW?

Simple, the kettlebell enables you to do high intensity, ballistic movements, like the swing, clean, and snatch, which create the perfect environment for targeting those troublesome areas while the grind lifts like the Turkish Get Up build unparalleled strength. 

This perfect combination of muscle building and fat burning leads to that lean, toned body that is the envy of everyone.

I know exactly how effective the kettlebell is. 

When I was a professional MMA fighter it was my tool of choice to get me in fighting condition. 

When I turned to coaching both amateur and professional fighters (right up to the UFC), I used a simple combination of kettlebells and bodyweight exercises to produce multiple champion fighters. 

Not only have I over 20 years of experience using and coaching them, but I also tutor many other instructors in the use of kettlebells.

Not to blow my own trumpet, but you will be hard pushed to find a better coach. 

Now you have the chance to experience how effective they can be. 

Our training encompasses all methods of training, barbell, bodyweight, bands, macebells, clubbells, cardio but at Primal we build our programming around the kettlebell. and with my experience, we can ensure that no matter what your level of experience, in a very short space of time you will be competent in using a bell and have the confidence to swing them anywhere 

So if you are looking to transform your body and mind and be safe in the knowledge that the coach teaching you KNOWS what you need and how to show you it, then give Primal a try. Our 4 week unlimited trial is ONLY £77!

One problem the average man/woman has when it comes to their strength/fitness training is not understanding what is required to improve themselves.

What I mean is today, fitness has become more about image than health.

Sex sells so gyms focus on giving people what gets them the attention desired and in today's world of social media obsession, six-packs and butts are what makes Instagram tick.

The problem is that although this body image is sold as a solution, (if you achieve a certain physique, your life will somehow become better,) for the VAST majority, this simply isn’t true

The reality of achieving this look requires much more focus and commitment than the average man or woman is willing to commit to, especially long term where the risk of everyday family life becoming a legitimate block for many, in the short term at least

The key to success in your training is by first analysing your current lifestyle and asking 

A. “What can I do today that will have a positive impact on my life?”

B. “What is realistic for me at this moment?”

Long-term change doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a gradual process and as every person is different, there is no answer that fits everyone.

A man in his 40s who has trained most of his adult life and has a stone to lose will have a different journey and outlook to a guy who hasn’t exercised in 10 years with five stones to shift.

This is why the world of social media and its comparison culture is one of the worst things to happen to anyone trying to get into shape.

I encounter this similar story time and time again...

Someone is doing well then allows their attention to becoming distracted and they start focusing on other peoples progress rather than their own. 

They begin to compare themselves to how others are doing, even though these people are at different stages of their fitness journey and before they know it they are down the rabbit hole of searching for the unfounded secret to fat loss, “ the magic banana” as I call it because it does not exist.

There is no secret, just accepting reality, knuckling down and doing your best while accepting you are human and are going to make mistakes

The key for a coach like me is finding a way to articulate this and help you and those like you, find a way that suits their own lifestyle and show them a path that equates to success 

This is different for every person but there are some simple principles that crossover to everyone and these are what I will be covering in future articles.

In the meantime, if you are wanting to get started, why wait? We have a multitude of options to suit ALL abilities and levels.

Physio and sports massage for those who are struggling with injuries 

Physio led Pilates for people who need to start with core stability

Personal Training for anyone feeling they need 1 to 1 attention

Programmed Group Training for those looking for accountability 

Just fill in the form on the website and we will get back to you.

Ready to Start? Why not take our trial for only £77 for 4 weeks

The problem you have with training is that you view the act of exercise as the problem and not the solution.

When you recognise this, you free yourself of the prison your mind and thoughts hold you in

In your and so many others minds, the fear you have of stepping out of your comfort zone is seen as a bigger problem than the daily problems of how you think, look and feel about yourself

The real problem is in the lack of daily movement

The real problem is the inner dialogue when you see your reflection

The real problem is how you eat and the relationship you have with food

The real problem is your daily, habitual actions that have been built over a number of months and years, that have brought you to this exact point..... reading this article because you already recognise something within yourself isn’t working the way you want.

You, like so many others, fear change

Change means having to look critically at yourself and what you have been doing.

Change means accepting you haven’t been doing what you know you should have.

Change means finding new levels of self-discipline and giving up some of the comforts you have come to rely on on a daily basis

This causes panic in so many of us and leads to us finding justifications not to continue on this path and instead fall back to what is familiar (even though it’s these actions that have brought us to this point in the first place)

But what if we were to swap that around?

What if we were, to be honest, and look at our daily decisions?

Is it true that exercise is the problem?

Is it true that changing how we eat is the problem?

We all know the answer to this, we just don’t want to admit it because if we do, we are left with no other option but to confront our own thoughts and habits and accept that US/WE and how we act, are the REAL problems.

It is fear-based thinking.

We know we have let ourselves go

We know (deep down) that it will require effort 

We know there aren’t any quick fixes (even though 1000’s of gyms promise just that)

It is simply a case of accepting the truth and moving on from there

Sadly that’s where it becomes hard for so many. But like I said at the beginning of this blog, it is only difficult because of how we look upon it.

If I said I will pay you £200,000 if you were to change and train every day, eat how you know you should, would it make the transition easier?

Of course, it would because we are a financially motivated society.

We suddenly see our current habits and wants aren’t as important as the dreams the promise of money offers.

It’s just a shame we don’t put our own health on the same wavelength as money, but what this shows is that it isn’t the food or lack of exercise that’s the problem but how we look upon it, and if this is the only real problem, then it means we are all capable of achieving these goals.

But I also accept it is easier said than done and I understand no one chooses to put on weight and hate their bodies, so how do you start?

Well, the first port of call is to admit you aren’t happy.

You need to acknowledge you have been telling yourself a lie.

Once you do this, it opens up a different conversation, one that starts you looking in a different direction.

Next, it’s accepting you need help. 

Weight loss and building muscle take time, it means making many mistakes, facing doubts, self-criticism, overcoming mental and physical obstacles, which is much harder to achieve alone. It is easy to find a reason to give up if no one is there to challenge you.

For the majority of people, having someone hold them accountable is the game-changer they need. For others, it’s shared suffering. Being around others going through a similar ordeal.

Combine accountability with an environment of like-minded people and an experienced coach, someone who has been where you understand what you need and know how to deliver it, and you have a winning combination. 

You are giving yourself a better chance of success

This is what Primal offers.

Accountability at a level only seen with Personal Training

The highest level of coaching at an affordable price

A group of like-minded and encouraging members

So if your goal is to improve yourself, to become better on a daily basis, in an environment that builds you up rather than puts you down, then why not try Primal? We have a multitude of options to suit ALL abilities and levels.

Physio and sports massage for those who are struggling with injuries 

Physio led Pilates for people who need to start with core stability

Personal Training for anyone feeling they need 1 to 1 attention

Programmed Group Training for those looking for accountability 

Just fill in the form on the website and we will get back to you.

Ready to Start? Why not take our trial for only £77 for 4 weeks

Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog.

I am a strength and movement coach based in Belfast, Ireland. I originally come from a Mixed Martial Arts background and the necessity of needing to know how to condition my fighters steered me towards the field of strength training. I am a StrongFirst Kettlebell and Barbell Instructor and a huge fan of Ido Portal, unfortunately I am nowhere near moving like him (due to the fact I have had a hip replacement and ruined my body from years of training incorrectly, it will be a long time before I am happy with my abilities).

Strength and movement and the understanding of how to improve it, has become my passion and I live and breath it. I love lifting heavy shit and I get a massive kick out of coaching and guiding others towards moving weight that they would never have dreamed of tackling only a few months before hand.

I have my own opinions and my own ways of doing things and I like to voice them. Not everyone agrees with them but thats ok, the world would be a boring place if everyones opinions matched.

Hope you enjoy and learn from my blogs, if you do then please share them and comment below, if you don’t, then feel free to tell me why you disagree with what I say. Everyday is for learning and if you can open my eyes to a new train of thought then it can only improve me.

Pól

Once upon a time, in an age without mobile phones, without the internet, without the knowledge there is now, I began lifting weights, as a clueless 15 year old. I had watched Rambo, Commando, Terminator, Cobra and Predator. I noticed that Arnie and Sly had huge muscles and they always seemed to beat everyone in fights so I wanted those big muscles so I could be a great fighter too. I got my parents to buy me a weights bench and a set of plastic, sand filled weights as well as membership to the local leisure centre and I set upon my journey to get SWOLE!!!

I succeeded…. in building more imbalances than muscle. I concentrated on benching, some biceps, bit of shrugging and more benching. Tried squatting a few times as well but it hurt too much and its Ireland, so no one really sees your legs. (actually I played water polo 5 times a week so everyone seen my legs but at 15 you don’t think straight).

The thing is, even today with all the knowledge at your finger tips young men and a lot of older men, are making the same mistakes over and over again. So as a way of trying to prevent another generation of t-shirt muscle chasers here is the PM Strength & Movement idiots guide to building a better body.

MOBILISE. Yes I accept it’s boring and I understand it won’t get the female attention as much as your bulging pecs in a t-shirt two sizes too small but believe me, in the long run it will benefit you so much more. You will help keep your muscles loose, your range of motion will improve and with that your ability to lift more weight. If I could go back in time and give my 15 year old self some advise, this would be in the top three.

PULL. Benching or pressing a shit load of weight may impress your friends but you need to be making sure you counter it with some retraction exercises. You need to keep muscle balance, so aim to do at least two pulling exercises for every one pushing. As a side note, if you have a look at the really explosive guys in sports like Olympic Lifting, MMA, Rugby you will notice they all have one thing in common, a HUGE posterior (the muscles you will see from behind, traps, lats, glutes, hamstrings, calfs). Never fear the guys with the big chests and rounded shoulders, the most powerful people all have well developed posteriors.

DEADLIFT. Now you know about the posterior chain whats the best way to develop it? The deadlift! As exercises go its one of the best bang for buck movements you can do. There is barely a muscle in your body it doesn’t hit but for back, traps, glutes and hamstrings there isn’t much better. Make it a staple in your exercise menu and reap the rewards.

DON’T SKIP LEG DAY. Squats hurt, there is no denying it. Putting heavy weight on your back and getting your ass to the grass then standing back up again and repeating is hell. In Dan Johns “mass made simple” (a must read if you want to gain serious growth) in six weeks he builds you up to squatting your bodyweight 50 times in one set. I have watched grown men reduced to blubbering wrecks afterwards but I also watched their legs grow and grow. More than one of my clients have ripped a pair or two of trousers sitting down due to the growth. Something else that seems very common is their increased level of fitness. Try this program and watch how you end up breathing through your arse by the end of it.

EAT. You want to grow? You need to eat. Its a simple as that. Well actually its not. You see a calorie is not simply a calorie. In a simplified version you need protein, fats and carbs but you need to earn your carbs. Try and limit their intake to after a training session and that evening. Protein will help in muscle repair and fats help in testosterone production. By the way, battered fish does not count as a serving of fat and protein.

If you want serious gains, choose your foods wisely. Healthy fats and proteins from natural sources, organic veg if possible.  If it comes in a packet or you can’t pronounce the ingredients leave it on the shelf. I would also add take a good quality fish oil into your diet

>DRINK LOTS OF WATER. It’s really self-explanatory.

SLEEP. One of the most underestimated but one of the most crucial components of building a better body. Your body heals itself during this time and when we fall into REM (rapid eye movement) sleep it produces HGH (human growth hormone). REM usually occurs within 40-70 minutes of falling asleep but if we are restless or waking up through the night this REM state doesn’t happen. Among other things it is responsible for keeping muscles from wasting away and helps with fat loss/control. We produce a lot more of this in our adolescent years and unfortunately as we get older the production drops significantly. To increase your chances of productive sleep, use a black out blind, try using magnesium supplements, ditch technology in the bed room and allow yourself to wind down at least 30 minutes before bed so no TV or Xbox.

SET A GOAL. If you want to improve your chances of success, give yourself an achievable goal. It doesn’t have to be crazy, just something that will keep you focused. It could be to fit into a smaller pair of jeans, achieve a muscle up, deadlift twice your bodyweight. As long as its achievable within a reasonable time frame and will motivate you.

KNOW WHAT YOU WANT. Have an idea in your head about what it is you want to achieve. There is no point in starting a spin class if you want to be a bodybuilder (side note, if you want to do spin then why are you reading this?) Likewise  training like a powerlifter when your aim is to achieve a handstand or muscle up isn’t exactly optimal.

KISS. No this isn’t some homoerotic bodybuilding idea, it means Keep ISimple Stupid. Don’t get caught up with 3 x 10 sets of squats followed by a giant set of 12/10/8 back and shoulders followed by a pyramid set of bi’s and tri’s before finishing with a super set of lat raises, front raises. If you are starting out or advanced you will always get the best from keeping everything so simple it shouldn’t work. Hinge, squat, push, pull, carry. Thats all thats needed to build a better body.

STICK TO A PROGRAM. Almost any program [hint, refer to point above for an idea] will get results as long as you keep doing it(as long as its not one your 15 year old best friend dreamed up). If you are a beginner training twice a week will illicit change. If you want to improve on this move up to three times a week, after a while make it four, then five. Once here, try adding two more reps a week, or add a few kg to the bar. These simple small changes are all thats needed.

HAVE PATIENCE. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your body be. Accept that to build strength and muscle requires time, sacrifice and effort. Pulling double your bodyweight in a deadlift 6 weeks after starting weight training for the first time isn’t a smart idea, even if your friends are trying it and think you should. Improving your shape and strength is a journey and should be enjoyed. Its not how fast you get there but making sure you get there safely. Trust me, give it time and use intelligent weight increases and you will get that double body weight deadlift and you will look like a pro doing it.

So there you have it, my idiot proof guide to gaining strength and a building a better body. As you can see it isn’t really rocket science. If you are serious about making a change and have absolutely no idea where to start, seek out a reputable gym/PT studio and pay for a few 1:1 sessions with the best PT you can find as it will pay off massively in the end.

Pól

Here’s the deal, if you want to live a longer, happier life there are only a few things you need to do

It can’t be that easy, can it? Basically, yes, it can!

Eat more colourful veg.  to start off begin with small steps. Simply make sure to include vegetables with each meal. Choose two different coloured vegetables to eat at each meal. After three weeks add one more. Do this once more and within six weeks each of your meals will be fill with nutrient dense foods. Building upon this small habit will lead to other changes over time. You will notice yourself cutting down on the cardboard carbs (processed foods) and your protein intake will probably increase, while the shitty foods will decrease, equating to your waistline shrinking but the key is to simply focus on eating more veg and allow other habits to happen in time.

Drink more water. Probably the easiest change you can make. Aim to be drinking at least two litres of water a day within three weeks. Every morning before breakfast have one pint of ICE COLD water. Do this with every meal. If a pint is too much then start with a half pint but make sure you do it. Staying hydrated is key in helping your body function at an optimal level. Iced water also forces your body to burn more calories in order to maintain its core temperature, resulting in fat loss.

Exercise 30 minutes a day.  Doing this is simpler than you think. If you are worried about going to a gym then start with something you can do without equipment. Make a deal with yourself to walk at least 30 minutes a day. If this is too much then break it up. Take the stairs in work instead of using the lift, walk to the shops instead of driving, just make sure you do it everyday and strive to improve each day.
Once you feel your fitness level increasing set a date to start training. Write it down. Writing something down helps us focus on the goal. Look for a good quality trainer, preferably someone in a private training studio where you can concentrate on the session rather than being worried that you are being watched.

Learn the fundamentals of human movement. Squat, hinge, push, pull and carry. To begin with you might not even need weight. To improve the majority of people all you need is the Kettlebell swing, the goblet squat, a get up movement, a body weight row, press up and some sort of weighted carry. No need to become bogged down with sets and reps just do each exercise as many times as you can with good form for 1 minute each, as you improve, decrease rest times, increase rounds and try to move up a weight every four weeks.

Get eight hours sleep.  The majority of us fail to realise how essential this actually is. I have already covered this in my blog “an idiots guide to gaining strength and building a better body” http://www.strengthandmovement.co.uk/?p=20 but here is a quick summary. Sleep is when your body repairs itself. When you get better quality sleep you will look and feel better. Turn off phones, use blackout blinds and don’t use computers or watch TV an hour before going to bed. Allow your body to wind down. If you need to use more than one pillow to sleep, there is a good chance you have some joint/mobility issues.

Play . This is the greatest way, in my opinion, to get rid of stress and rediscover your youth once more. It honestly doesn’t matter what you do as long as you are being active and having fun. Kick a ball with your children, play tag, race, do handstands, roll, climb, tumble and fall. The choices are endless, all that matters is that you are laughing and learning how good it feels to forget about your problems for a while.
We all were kids at one point so we all know it is like to not have any worries. As children we lived in the moment and those times when you kicked a ball with your dad or had piggyback races with your parents will be memories that will stay with you forever. Try and recapture them, even if it’s only for fifteen minutes. Give yourself permission to laugh and be laughed at and remember what life is really about.

Try these small changes, practice health and happiness by making a rule to introduce them one by one into your daily regimen and watch how you can change your life for the better.

Summer is here (well, thats the rumour anyway) and as the saying goes Suns out guns out. But what if you are carrying a set of glock 9mms instead of a couple of AK47s? What if you can’t afford a gym membership? Or maybe you are the outdoors type? Have no fear all you need is this quick guide, your body, a bar and a set of gymnastic rings to sculpt a body like a Greek God!!We will start from the top and work our way down. If you are not sure of what these exercises are, you will find them all on YouTube. (Over the coming weeks they will be found on my own YouTube channel, Pm Strength and Movement. I’m currently filming content for it)

1. Shoulders: crowstands, cranestands, handstand holds, handstand wall walks, handstand push ups.This list starts from the easiest and works up to the hardest. It doesn’t matter how bad you are when you start, you will find with regular practice, as little as 10 minutes a day, you can progress very quickly.These exercises will help you build strong and healthy shoulders. Also handstands are f**king awesome.

2. Chest & triceps: Plank hold push ups, elevated push up (hands on a bench) floor push up, feet elevated push up, ring push up, single arm push up, dips. When doing push ups make sure you get your chest to the floor each time and keep your body tense throughout. Dips build a great chest and strong arms. Once you have them on the parallel bars try them on rings and experience a game changer.

3. Back & biceps: Inverted row, hanging retractions, protractions, neutral grip chin ups, chin ups, pull ups, muscle ups, single arm pull ups.To build a strong back the pull up is king. If you can’t complete a single rep, begin with inverted rows. You can do all these exercises on both the rings and the bars. It is best to begin with the rings as they allow your body to move through its natural plane of motion. These exercises will also give the biceps a serious going over.

4. Abs: The list is endless but for bang for your buck exercises try a full body tension plank, crawling and hanging knee tucks or leg raises.The secret to a washboard stomach is a clean diet. (You can also use a barbell with a small plate on each end as a make shift ab wheel) Gymnastic ring work. Static holds like front and back levers and planche holds are killers on the abs but would be among the hardest moves to master.

 5. Ass and legs: Glute bridges, hip thrusts, prisoner squats, sprints, split squats, Bulgarian split squats,lunges, walking lunges, pistol squats.Your butt is the most powerful muscle you have, build it!! DO NOT SKIP LEG DAY. For everything from explosive power to fat loss, working your ass gets results faster.

6. Increase complexity: Once you can do a certain number of reps in an exercise, i.e. 20 tempo push up, 12 tempo pull ups, increase the difficulty instead of increasing the reps. There are numerous ways of doing this. Diamond push ups, ring push ups, wide grip pull ups, towel pull ups, they all will challenge your body differently. Each time you progress the exercise, the body has to adapt. As it does this it will make the previous exercise seem easier.

7. Met-cons: Finish your workout with a 5-10 minute met-con. This is a high intensity workout that will help speed your metabolism up. Keep it as simple as possible and try and add level changes into it.Burpees, mountain climbers, speed push ups, air squats, jumping lunges, grasshoppers, sprints. I can go on and on. Set a clock for 30-40 seconds intervals, pick two or three exercises and work at around 85-90% of your max effort for that time. Rest to work ratio should start the same and slowly decrease the rest time as the weeks go by. Air squats to push ups or burpees to grasshoppers are brutal sets because you are always changing levels.

8. Fat loss: Following simple rules for eating will help you burn more fat.Stick to whole food ingredients. If it comes in a packet or has more than four ingredients, don’t eat it.Try to eat vegetables with every meal.Stop drinking calories. The amount of hidden sugars found in carbonated drinks would frighten you. Try and stick to water. (Quick tip. Drinking ice water will drop the bodies temperature forcing it to burn more calories to regulate itself).Earn your carbs. Try and limit your carbs to evenings, ideally after training session. Carbs are not evil like people make out and the body needs them but if you can, focus on eating more fats and proteins in the morning and carbs in the evening.

9. Get more sleep: Most people don’t realise the importance of a good nights sleep.8 hours should be a minimum for everyone.Try taking magnesium before bed or have a bath with Epsom salt.Turn off the TV, phones and computers 30 minutes before bed and allow yourself some light reading to wind down.Sleep in a dark room, use a black out blind and ideally have electronic equipment out of the bedroom.

10. Enjoy it: Don’t become frustrated if things don’t go as fast as you want. Change takes time. The key is to be consistent. There will be days when life gets in the way, that’s ok shit happens. As Dan John says, just turn up. Get down and blast out a few push ups and pull ups. Grab the kids and go out and climb some trees, go for a walk or cycle and leave it at that. Learn to listen to your body. If you are genuinely very sore or sick then allow yourself to recover but don’t allow yourself to find reasons not to train.Follow these simple tips and you will find that getting the body you want is not that difficult at allThanks for reading

Pól

You are 30-50. Kids, mortgage, two cars, 9-5 job, loving partner, debts and little to no time.

I’m pretty much describing the average man or woman in today’s society. Life is stressful for Mr and Mrs Average. Once upon a time they had the time to do what they wanted; train, party, holiday etc but sooner or later there comes a time when you feel you need to grow up. You meet a partner, settle down, have kids and join the rat race. All of a sudden priorities change, kids need fed and bills need paid. Time becomes a precious commodity and when you get a few moments to yourself and you just want to relax!!!

Does this sound like you? If it does there is a good chance your clothes might be feeling a bit tighter than they did a few years ago. Life has got in the way of training, convenience is what dictates the daily menu. On the outside you might still seem like the same person you have always been but deep down inside you know you would like to look better. It wouldn’t have to be a Calvin Klein six pack or a bikini model look but knowing you could lie on the beach on the next family holiday and turn a few heads would feel good but hey, thats in the past, you are too old for all that now,  so its better to put it out of your head and enjoy “just one more slice of pizza.”

Why is it that we allow ourselves to get stuck in this way of thinking? No matter what age you are, no matter what your current state of fitness, there is always time to make a change. It’s never too late. I’m not going to feed you any bullshit, its going to be hard and there will be times when it would be easier to just lie on in bed instead of going to the early morning class and it would be easier to just come home from work, sit down, relax and maybe have a drink but it’s only going to make you happy in the short term. You will still have to look at yourself in the mirror, you will still have to wear those ever tightening clothes.

Walking into a gym for the first time or after a long lay off can be intimidating. Everyone will be looking at you, they will be wondering why you are here, how could you allow yourself to get into the shape you are in. These are real fears for a lot of people, they are also wrong. No ones cares about you being there, everyone is too caught up in their own lives. When you get these fears just look in the mirror, remind yourself why it is you have started this. You need to play the long game here, this will not be an overnight fix. Think six months to a year. A year from today you will be a completely different person. You will be happier, have more confidence and have possibly learnt new skills like handstands or muscle ups and maybe even show your kids up. These are the thoughts you need to hold on to when the temptation to miss the gym “just this once” becomes real. You justify it the first time and the second becomes so much easier.

If I have just described you then make the decision to achieve what you have said you will for the last X amount of years. Forget about past failures, they have no bearing on your future. The only thing that will, is your willingness to change. If you want it bad enough then it can happen. Imagine how it would feel to be proud of how you look, how awesome it would be to show up people half your age.

Thanks for reading.

Pól

In this four part article I am going to look at the problems and solutions, for Those of us who are “youthfully challenged”, attending a gym for the first time. 

Starting any gym can be intimidating but going to a gym for the first time aged 45+ would be terrifying! There are a lot of fit, young people, with great bodies and they all seem to know what they are doing. The key to going to the gym is having an understanding about what you are going to do and keeping it as simple as possible. For middle aged gym users an effective workout trains the body as a whole unit, avoiding isolation exercises and following Janda’s principles.

Strengthen what Janda called the Phasic muscles, ie glutes (butt), deltoid’s (shoulders), triceps and core while mobilising what he refers to as the tonic muscles, ie the hip flexors , hamstrings (back of legs), biceps and pecs (chest).

The reasoning behind this is simple. As we age the Phasics weaken and the tonics tighten, especially in today’s society with modern living. Walking around holding mobile phones and everything involving sitting, our tonics have become extremely tight, effecting our posture. Over time, this can lead to imbalances and pain. Pain is bad!

What exercises to use:

Strengthening

Glutes: Kettlebell swing, deadlift, goblet squat, hip thrusts, hill running (if able). The glutes are the biggest muscle in your body. This is where the power comes from. The strongest, fastest, most explosive athletes always have strong glutes. Work them and work them well.

Deltoid’s: Single arm Kettlebell press is one of the best IMO and everyone no matter what their level should include it in their training. As it is a pressing exercise it will also work the tricep. When doing a pushing movement it is always advisable to add a pulling exercise. This could be a bent over row or a single arm row using a Kettlebell or if available, a suspension trainer like the KO8. Other exercises to include that work your shoulders as well as the retraction element would be T’s, Y’s and I’s. These are also completed using a KO8.

Core: Plank. Learn how to a proper plank. Work up to being able to hole it for 2 minutes. Once this has been achieved begin using the hardstyle plank for up to 20-25 seconds of full body tension.

Mobilising

Hip flexors: A simple half kneeling hip flexor stretch is perfect for most people to start off with and as you progress raising the foot of the kneeling leg will increase the stretch. (You can see these exercises on our YouTube channel)

Hamstrings: I love using the straight legged bear crawl as a hamstring stretch. Another added benefit of it is as it is a four limbed gait based movement you will get a bit of a shoulder workout as well.

Biceps & pecs: Dan john showed me a game changer stretch called the Stoney stretch. It also requires a KO8 and believe me once you start using this on a regular basis you will feel a million times better.

T-spine: This is one other area I would also suggest you focus on. Driving, siting on a computer, holding your mobile phone. All these actions place our backs into an unnatural position, resulting in our Thoracic spine, which is made for mobility, tightening up, leading to shoulder and back pain. One of the simplest and best exercises I know is called six point Zenith. Easy to understand,  carryout and the results are instantly noticeable.

As a warm up, I would recommend the “get back up” workout. A simple, do anywhere warm up. Remember though, simple does not translate to easy. For some people the warm up will end up being the workout. If that is the case then so be it, it is what it is. You know where you are starting out from and you will move forward from here.

The get back up warm up involves going from standing to lying prone, back to standing 20-24 times (depending on time and ability) gradually decreasing the amount of limbs you can use to aid yourself.

The order is always as follows.

Lie on your front…. Get back up

Lie on your back…. Get back up

Lie on your left side…. Get back up

Lie on your right side…. Get back up

Next round requires you to place your left hand on left knee and repeat. After that, it’s right hand on right knee and repeat.

Following this it is left hand on right knee then right hand on left knee

Last round you interlock your fingers behind your head and complete the cycle.

This may not seem like much but it will get a light sweat going and the continuing up and down action will definitely raise the heart rate.

In part two will focus on the strengthening exercises, part three will look at mobility work and part four will go through how to structure the exercises into a workable program that won’t take all day.

Pól

In part two of our four part series we will focus on the strengthening exercises:

For the gluten, three of the four I recommend, focus on a hinge action

The exercises:

Hip thrusts
Deadlifts
Kettlebell swings
In that order, easist to hardest, as far as technical application goes.

The plus and negative of each:

Hip thrusts

Can be done loaded or simply using only Bodyweight
Easiest Hinge movement to master
Doesn’t place as much stress on lower back as other two.
Works less in overall muscles used compared to others.

Deadlifts

Could argue it’s the king of all exercises.
Works nearly every muscle in the body and builds unbelievable strength.
Can be done with a kettlebell.
Requires practice with a light weight until movement is ingrained and demands respect.
Can lead to injuries if not done with proper technique.

Kettlebell swing

Builds power and will burn serious amounts of fat if done right.
Even a light weight can deliver a fantastic workout.
Easily transported
Needs respect. Like the Deadlift, there is proper technique to be mastered and without it, it can and more than likely will, lead to injury.

Goblet squat.

Single arm press:

For the shoulders I believe, that for the majority of us, all that’s needed is the single arm Kettlebell press. The press starts by creating full body tension (more detail about this in the plank section) from the feet and travels up through the body, finishing with the bell in an overhead position.

You set up by tensing the body approximately 80%, this is you getting ready.

Depress the shoulder by pulling the elbow towards the ground, this will activate the lat (big back muscle) and acts the same way stretching an elastic band would, to help the initial drive of the press.

When you actually press, tense the entire body as one unit 100% and drive the bell upwards.

Keep the wrist strong and straight and try and keep the elbow and wrist in line. Don’t flare the elbow out as this will break the structure of the arm and make the press much more difficult.

Word of warning:

Most of you will have some sort of shoulder and T-spine mobility issues and  will struggle to get your arm straight overhead. Try and not break at the abs and lean back, resulting in loading your lower back. While this may not cause much damage with a lighter bell, it will ingrain a bad habit that will result in eventual injury when you move to heavier weights. Instead focus on shoulder and T-spine mobility drills like the Kettlebell armbar and six point Zenith (loads more on our YouTube channel) to help free up the joints.

Core:

Before you do any exercise you need to understand the concept of full body tension. Tension will help make every strength exercise easier and is vital for safe lifting, especially for the spine.

The Full Body Tension plank is the perfect drill to teach this. When done correctly, you will be able to hold it for around 10-15 seconds before you lose full body tension. The idea is not to go to failure but rather to teach the body to recognise what FBT is.

Lie on the ground, belly down.

Place forearms on the ground and make two fists.

Place your feet shoulder width apart, legs straight and locked.

Lift your body off the floor so as only your forearms and toes are in contact with the ground.

Tilt your pelvis so you feel your abs and glutes tighten. This will take any sag out of the back and take pressure off the lower spine area. Add extra juice to the abs and glutes by squeezing them as hard as you can.

While your arms don’t exactly move, I want you to try (without actually allowing them to slide) and pull your arms down towards your feet. This will activate the lats and increase the tension in your body.

Finally breathing. This is crucial, you don’t want to hold your breath, instead you do what’s known as breathing behind the shield.

Your abs are the shield and you will forcefully push air out by clenching your teeth together and pulsing short, sharp breaths out. You should be making a loud hissing sound if doing it correctly. Focus on the out breaths, the in breaths will look after themselves. Just don’t lose tension in the body. Squeeze the glutes, lats, abs, legs and hands as hard as you can.

In Part 3 of our four part series we are going to look at the mobilising exercises of this workout. The general rule of thumb is, to make men look better, increase their mobility, for women, get them stronger. This is especially true the older we get. I’m not saying men don’t need to work on strength or women on mobility but as a species, men are generally stronger and women, more flexible and it is advisable to give a bit more attention to our weaknesses.

Hip flexors: Like I said in part one, our lives involve sitting, we sit to eat, we sit to go to work, in work and on our way home from work. We sit to relax, even our Globo gyms  have so many isolation machines in them that we now sit while exercising.  One of the main problems with all of this sitting is a shortening of our hip flexors. This leads to to us having problems standing in a vertical position. Over time this can lead to imbalances and pain. A simple but effective way to counteract this is to drop to a half kneeling position, one foot and one knee, what I refer to as a 90/90 position (you should be creating a 90 degree bend at the knees). Push the big toe of the front, hard into the ground. At the same time squeeze the glute on the opposite side while making yourself as tall as possible. If you have hight hip flexors you should start to feel a stretch and possibly, mild pain, in the quad of the leg with the knee on the ground. (if you are feeling pain, don’t push any harder, instead just focus on slow breathing and it will ease). If this isn’t working then what you can do is place the foot of the leg that you are kneeling on, on to a raised platform, so that the heel is brought closer to the glute. Remember to keep tall. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5a0i6eWROWQ


Hamstrings: My go to stretch for the hamstrings, is the straight leg bear crawl. Lock your legs out and start pushing your bum back while reaching towards the floor. If you can’t touch the floor then bend your knees slightly until you get there then walk your hands forward until you are in a position to lock them. Lift one hand and step it forward around 6-8 inches in front of you, as soon as it is on the ground, do the same with the opposite leg, from the hip, keep the leg locked. You are trying to get your toes as close to the hand on the same side without the legs bending. Keep this gait pattern going. DO NOT RUSH THROUGH THIS!Instead, keep a purposeful slow, controlled pace. To increase the stretch, all you do is rock back into the hip of the leg you have just stepped forward with before coming back and moving the opposite hand to take the next step. You can hold that extra stretch position a couple of seconds to get maximum benefit. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zo78BBEN1Q0


Pecs and biceps: This stretch is a hidden gem. I use the KO8 suspension & resistance trainer for this stretch as the resistance bands add a new dimension to it but it can be done with any suspension trainer or even a bit of rope if needed. Face away from the KO8, holding the handles. Place your hands above your head and walk out so that the ropes go tight. Keep your pelvis tilted towards you so as your abs are engaged. Step one foot in front then the other foot back and keep this going until you find your back legs, knee, on the ground.  From here, keeping your arms locked, pull your hands towards the ground, drawing a semi circle. Find the position where the stretch is the tightest and hold it there. Don’t allow your head to fall forward. keep upright and focus on your breathing. Remain there for 30 seconds to a minute then come back to standing, swap legs and repeat. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vK9-aEpX63I


T-spine: A lack of T-spine mobility is, without doubt, the reason for so many peoples pains and imbalances. Todays life style of sitting behind wheels and computers and generally not moving has caused this to lock up. The T-spine is built for mobility and lack of mobility through this area is a major cause of lack of shoulder mobility. Perfect example: How many people do you see in the gym doing a barbell shoulder press and they lean back, some, almost to were it is more a standing incline bench than a shoulder press. This is caused by a lack of T-spine mobility and means that you are now loading the Lumbar spine, which isn’t a great idea. A great drill to open the T-spine is the six point Zenith. Get on to all fours so that toes, knees and hands are on the floor, a 90 degree bend at the hips. Take one hand and place it on the small of your back. Close the eye on the same side of this arm. Twist so that the elbow of this arm is pointing towards the ceiling and with the opened eye (at this point it is the one closest to the ground), look as far back as you can. Remember this spot. Once you have found your marker on the ceiling, straighten your arm and reach under your chest, go as far through as you can. When you have pushed through as far as you can, reverse it so as your arm comes up and reaches towards the ceiling, really pulling with the T-spine. Repeat this 10-15 times making sure to PUMP the arms, stretching as far as you can on both the up and down motion. Repeat the test at start of the drill and you should notice you can look further now. Repeat on the other side.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEXSWeCh_rw


This is a simple mobility program that will take no more than 10-15 minutes to complete but by doing so everyday, you will notice a huge difference to your movement

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