Want to start losing fat and get ripped?

One of the questions we’re asked time and time again is how to achieve that cover-model look.  You know the one – ripped, popping abs and single digit body fat.  For the lucky few amongst us, achieving that sort of physique comes after hours and hours of training and a nutrition that is spot on.  For the rest of us, that look is simply unrealistic as the demands for achieving such a look are incompatible with the modern busy lifestyle.  Now, this is no reason for not looking your best, toning up, getting leaner or putting on muscle growth, so the new series of blog articles we will write will address just that. 

The current focus of the next few blog pieces will be on metabolic resistence training (“MRT”) – a term used to cover exercises involving high-intensity, CV and strength training.  Think of it as a combination of weight training and CV – together!  Not only is MRT functional, exciting and versatile, you don’t need to be in the gym slaving away for hours upon hours.  MRT, when done correctly, will also give you that post-exercise burn where your body continues to burn calories even when you’ve left a gym.  Very few other methods of training provide such a feat, so MRT is not to be sniffed at – even for the most seasoned of gym veterans.  If you’re looking to google the reason why, searc hfor Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption, which will dramatically increase due to MRT.  MRT is also ideal for pre-work or lunch-time training – 45-60 minutes is perfect and you need go no further.  In fact, you probably won’t feel like if you get the intensity correct.

With MRT, you will see rapid results over a period of 4-6 weeks.  You’ll be working your entire body including the biggest muscles, i.e. your legs, so you’ll not only build muscle, but you’ll strip excess body fat (especially around the face, abdominal area and lower back) as well as gaining strength.  You will also increase your lactate threshold, the point at which lactic acid accumulates in the muscles and gives you that burn that makes you want to stop and put those dumbbells down.  By increasing this threshold, you’ll enhance muscle growth and start to notice an increased level of endurance and intensity in your weight lifting.   What we have done is provide a sample of a perfect MRT workout.  We will provide more over the coming weeks, but here’s one to get you started.  First though, we thought it would be useful to provide some further information on MRT so you know what you’re getting yourself in for – it’s all good : )

1) Higher intensity and more reps.  You will be working to 15-20 reps per set (or alternatively, 30-45 seconds at a time).  Ideally, there should be minimal rest between sets.  This is not easy, but the key to success.  Don’t wait until your heart rate has fallen back down to a resting rate – training at a high intensity will “feel” different and your heart will be beating faster throughout your workout as you peak it during exercise and let it fall sufficiently during recovery. 

2) You’re going to lift lighter, but not too light.  Experiment, but try to lift around 50-60% of your one rep max.  If you’re easily getting to 15-20 reps without breaking a sweat, it’s too easy.  But if you are failing in your first or second sets, drop the weight.  A good guide is to get close to failure each time, with the last set being hard to accomplish.

3) Total body exercises are key.  You’ll want to work the major muscles in each session, since the metabolic cost of an exercise is a function of the muscles worked.  Use multi-body part exercises since they use up more energy and are more taxing.  Big compound moves such as clean and presses, squats, deadlifts, press ups, lunges, pull ups, dips are perfect.  Isolation exercises such as dumbbell curls, tricep kickbacks are not (although they do have their place, just not in this type of workout).   4) Slow down the reps.  Use a moderately high tempo, but don’t go too slow or too fast.  You want to feel the contraction/resistence when you perform your routine, but you want the exercises to be controlled.  Especially as many of the exercises work your core hard, for the first few times you try these exercises, you may feel wobbly as your core struggles to stabilise.  This is normal and most likely to be encountered in an exercise such as barbell lunges or something similar where you will encounter your body has one side better than the other!

Sample exercise.  Try this for starters and let us know how you get on.   Warm-up – 0.5-1km row, followed by 20 body weight squats with arms extended to loosen your legs off.

Perform 3-4 sets of each of these exercises, with minimal rest:

Exercise number 1: Clean and press / press-up combination

15-20 clean and press with a barbell followed by 15 press-ups.  Rest for 1 minute and repeat 3 times.

Exercise number 2: Lunges (barbell behind shoulder or dumbbells in hand)

15 lunges on each side

Exercise number 3: Plank (we like to call this one active recovery)

1 minute plank followed by 5-10 press-ups, repeated 3 times

Exercise number 4: Box jumps

Set your step box up to a comfortable height, then jump onto the box (in a squat-like position) and back off – 15-20 times.  Rest 1 minute and repeat 3 times.  By the end your thighs will be burning, but think of the results : )

Exercise number 5: Standing barbell shoulder press

15-20 bar bell presses above your shoulders.  Again, 15-20 should be difficult, but pick a weight that gets you there.  Repeat 3 times after sufficient rest but keep it to a minimum.

Exercise number 6: Burpees

15 burpees, followed by 1 minute rest, and then 3 more times and you’re done.

Well done if you got this far in your workout.  It’s challenging, hard work but effective.  For the first few times, get used to how your body feeds back the effort you are putting in.  This won’t be easy, but will get progressively easier.  Make sure you replenish glycogen stores immediately after – we recommend Athletes Fuel Whey Pro: Recovery which is a fast acting 2:1 carb protein ratio recovery supplement.

Check back soon for more workout guides, but in the meantime, let us know how you get on by emailing us at info@athletes-fuel.com or sending us a message through Facebook or Twitter.

Good luck and enjoy : )


Guys – want to get good calf muscles?

The question we’re asked time and time again from people (especially guys) is how do they create a nice, defined and full calf muscle? It’s something that for many people, comes naturally, especially runners doing a lot of outdoor hill work. But for your typical gym-goer who spends most of their time in the gym working upper body, hitting your calves in such a way as to build decent size is not an easy task. To that end, we’ve come up with a simple calf workout that you should be able to introduce into your routine (it literally takes 10 minutes) and allow you to start building up those calves that you want to show up in a pair of shorts. We should add, not only is this training routine ideal for guys, but also bodybuilders, women or anyone else looking to develop their calves.

When you first start the routine, you’re likely to feel pain for the first few days after. Stay with it and do it at least twice a week. The calves are muscles you can train pretty hard on a regular basis – once you’ve started to get used to it! However, make sure you do proper stretches after, otherwise, it’s a recipe for days of pain or, worse still, the onset of an injury!

We’d also never recommend you do much less than 15 reps to a set. The calves respond well to high reps, so unlike a lot of exercises, the more you can squeeze out per set, the better. Also important, and often overlooked, is toe position.

Toes pointed straight ahead – will hit the entire muscle
Toes pointed out – will hit the inner part of the muscle giving the calf a wider, fuller look.
Toes pointed in – this will hit the outer part of the muscle

OK, let’s give this a try – find your place based on experience and do as much as possible, with minimal rest between sets. You’ll get great pump in your calves and will know when it’s time to stop! Trust us on that one.

1. Standing Calf Raises – perform the rep with as heavy a dumbbell as you can, slowly on the way up, a pause at the top, then slow on the way down. Aim to get your heels as high as possible off the ground as the higher you can, the more you will work the entire muscle.

2. Seated Calf Raises – want the wide look? The seated calf waise helps both the inner and outer head of the calves, giving you that fullness. Go for as heavy as possible then once you’ve exhausted your calves, drop the weight down to a level you can push 50 out at.

3. One leg standing calf raise – the same as at step 1, except just hold one dumbbell and working one leg at a time. For left calf, hold the dumbbell in your left hand, with opposite for your right leg. And repeat. Again, try this with as heavy a weight as you can manage, but make sure the movement is as controlled, slow and has as much range of movement as possible.

4. Calf raises on the leg press – put just the balls of your foot on the feet plate and do as many as you can at a moderate weight level.

5. Got anything left? If so, do standing calf raises (50 on each leg) with no weight. That’s your finisher and guaranteed to start to make you feel a little unsteady on your feet : )

Give it a go – start slow and build up progressively in weight, reps, duration, number of exercises and number of sets. Let us know how you get on, we’d love to hear from you at info@athletes-fuel.com and if you’re looking for something to help train that little bit harder, get yourself over to http://www.athletes-fuel.com and take a look at what we have in stock.

Thanks a lot, AF : )

Ego vs. Form

Ego vs. Form

Hi, my name is Nathan Brearley. I’m 21 years old, a qualified personal trainer, nutritionist and owner of my business Brio Fitness & Nutrition. My goal is to provide readers with correct, non biased information about different topics of the fitness lifestyle. This can be anything from the food you eat to the different ways to get pumped up before and during your session.

Of course, if anyone has any questions they would like answered about anything fitness related then you can contact me at Nathan.brearley@hotmail.co.uk or via Athletes Fuel. If there are any constructive comments that you feel would help my articles then feel free to email me via the same address, including the article title in the ‘Subject’ box and leaving your name at the end of the email. If you feel the need to post anything offensive then do not expect a reply : )

Now that’s done, time for my first article!

Whenever I’ve entered a big gym it’s always been the same scenario; the gym has been split into 4 sections; Cardio, machine weights, free weight and an abs section. These areas also have their own split or sub-category of people.

Today I’ll be focussing on the free weights area and its various individuals that enter each day. Before you’ve even approached this dungeon of iron, you will be able to hear the distinct roar of this beast over any 1000lb barbell smashing down on the ground. That’s right I’m talking about The Screamer, this is the one that no matter what weight or amount of strain he’s under there will always be a grunt for each rep of each set. The one where turning your headphones up to 11 will still be a mere whisper to the loud cry of this being.

Of course there are the guys that stick their headphones in and get on with what they came to do, not striking conversation with anyone and if one is started by someone, it’s made clear that his entire workout and possibly his day has been ruined. Hmmm, when I think about it… That’s me!

There are plenty of different types of guys that use the free weights area but for now I’ll be focussing on The EGO Heavy or Go Home-ers. Now this article isn’t to have a pop or to make fun of these guys. This is a constructive blog that will hopefully help all these guys out there that know they lift way too much weight for their own good, but can’t face taking a plate or seven off that bar! I know that it makes you feel good to lift more than the guy next to you, no matter his size, but I am begging you from first-hand experience that it’s not worth it! If you’re one of these guys you’re probably thinking “But if I can lift it, pull it or press it then why shouldn’t I do it… to the MAX?!” I’m not telling you to not push yourself for each workout; in fact I encourage you to. But if you’re doing a certain exercise correctly you will still have to push yourself as much, if not more with half the weight than doing it the way you’re doing it now.

I know that a lot of people go into the gym thinking that the way to get big is to grab the heaviest weight they can lift and press it above their head or lift it off the floor as much as possible. But lifting weights is a very scientific method of movement that takes years of practice to perfect. So anyone that is new to lifting should definitely not be embarrassed to ask someone with more experience if their form is correct or if they could show them the correct way to perform a certain exercise.

There are many ways to find out if you’re performing exercises with correct form, i.e. breathing correctly, having proper posture, keeping your core tight, feet facing a certain way, the list goes on! The way I improved my technique was from the help of a variety of resources; my first insight of proper form was reading muscle magazines, looking through each article and photographic demonstration and memorising each phase of that specific exercise. This was a great way to start me off with a visualisation in my head of how it should look. After that I would look in the mirror, comparing the arch in my back with the model’s in the magazine. But I knew that there were clearer explanations. This is where the internet came in. The internet provides thousands of videos demonstrating exercises, step by step, sometimes with a famous bodybuilder or fitness model performing them for you. Beyond that, you can go into a gym and personally ask someone. Although you may feel embarrassed at first, this is a completely appropriate question to ask as it shows that you are someone who cares about their health and doesn’t want to sacrifice their future to impress their friends or satisfy their ego. Going against my previous statement that I’m extremely anti-social in the gym, I welcome questions from anyone in the gym about exercises, nutrition and general fitness as I know how complex each element is. The best way I’ve found to get a real in depth description, demonstration and to be given a complete breakdown of what muscles it works, why and anything else that you might need answering, is to get a personal trainer. Even if it is for a few sessions to help you get a full understanding of exercises and to start you off with correct form, instead of most definitely incurring an injury 6-12 months in that could potentially damage not only your lifting for years to come but your day to day life in general.

So before you go into the gym next, get into the mindset that the weight on the bar isn’t everything. Please take the time to analyse yourself, check your form in the mirror, look through videos and ask for advice. I encourage you to do whatever it takes to have a long, enjoyable, injury-free life inside the gym and outside of it.

Stay Safe


Welcome to the Athletes Fuel (athletes-fuel.com) official blog

Hello and welcome to the official blog of Athletes Fuel – http://www.athletes-fuel.com

We will shortly move the blog over to our web site at http://www.athletes-fuel.com but for the time being, the Athletes Fuel official blog is here.  Enjoy : )

The blog will feature a variety of information to help you on your training goals.  From diet and nutrition, training guides, workout plans, supplementation guides, bodybuilding competition preparation hints and tips, you’ll find a whole host of informative articles and guides regularly updated by the Athletes Fuel staff, special guest bloggers, nutritonists, bodybuilders and personal trainers.  If there are any articles or subjects you would like covered, please contact us at info@athletes-fuel.com  We’d love to hear from you : )

You can also stay in touch with us via our Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/athfuel) and Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/athletes_fuel) pages, so please be social and get in touch.

Thanks for reading and we hope you’ll enjoy the material we’ll soon be posting!

Athletes Fuel