3 Common Mistakes Guys Make when they start training

3 Common Mistakes Guys Make when they start training

Going too hard too soon or competing against your mates

Something happens to guys when they step into a gym. It’s like they turn into The Rock and think they are invincible. ‘I reckon I could bench press that’ is the usual thought. Sometimes we let our ego get in the way of getting quality work done. Less is more on most occasions, but it's easy to get way too excited about hitting a new PB or 'seeing what you can do'. We’ve all been there, myself included. 

Try to put the ego aside for an hour and focus on doing what you can with quality. Rome wasn’t built in a day. You’re unlikely to create the body you want off the back of one session that will put you into the hurt locker for three days. 

Not following a plan.

Fail to plan; then you plan to fail. And I’m not talking about ‘I do back and tri’s on Monday, Chest and biceps Tuesday etc.’. I'm talking about a plan with sets and reps, weights tracking, appropriate movements and proper progressions so you, well, progress. 

Get a plan together, or get someone to do one for you. 

Going it alone/not seeking help

We’re a proud bunch. We don’t like asking for help even if we have NFI what to do. It’s a trait that’s been generally passed down to us from our fathers and their fathers. Going it alone rarely leads to the best outcome or the goal completed in the allocated time. Need to put that desk together? Sure, no worries. Never done it before but she’ll be right. 4hrs of frustration later, DONE! 

The same goes for training. We are the worst possible person to do our own programming, even if you know what you’re doing. And if you don’t know what you’re doing, well you’re pushing sh!t uphill every time you step into the gym. 

Ask for help. Seek guidance. My experience has been it will save you a lot of time, money and effort in the long run. 

8 Keys to maintaining momentum after a challenge.

8 Keys to maintaining momentum after a challenge.

Getting results on a challenge is one thing. Keeping it going afterwards is another.

Once the challenge finishes, you will have gained a lot of new skills, confidence, and habits. So how do you keep them up?

From a science perspective, Momentum = Mass x Speed x Direction. The challenge has given you a lot of speed and direction, but not much mass. We need to build consistency and resilience so when the speed drops off we maintain momentum.

So what can you do?

1.       You still need to work. It's the beginning of a lifetime of progress. Four weeks is only about 7% of your year. Imagine what things would be like if you did it for 90%? Build Mass.

2.       Be prepared to face setbacks. Life is a rollercoaster, and so are results.

Sick family member? Hectic time at work? Injury? Weight loss plateaus? These things can throw us right off the horse.

Your job is to minimize these complete stops. Your progress won’t be linear.

Talk to your coach and identify the most critical pieces of your program to keep you heading on an upward trend.

3.       Environment. Find a training partner or group of people you enjoy training with to pick you up and push you forward when you lose momentum.

4.       Discipline outranks motivation. Motivation will come and go. Discipline and dedication to the end goal will help better guide your choices. Track your progress and choose wisely.

5.       Find ways to fit training around your day. Train in the morning before work. Get in a quick lunchtime session. Go straight to the gym after work. MAKE AN APPOINTMENT. Book a PT, or book into class. Make it a non-negotiable.

6.       Find a new challenge or train for an event. Talk with your trainer about a new goal or a challenge you would like to complete. Get a speed injection.

7.       Build the habits. Every workout counts.  Every decision to choose warrior food over slave food counts. Training once a week is FAR better than not at all. One warrior meal every day is WAY better than none. Ten push-ups a day is much better than none. Make a 20min walk part of your day.

8.       You always have a choice. Own it. If you self-sabotage something, you don’t truly value it. Be firm in your decisions. Ensure YOU value what you want, not what you think will make someone else or society happy.

Once you breakdown momentum to:

  • Building mass (habits and consistency),
  • Speed (finding new challenges and the right environment), and
  • Direction (the right support and goals);

maintaining it gets a whole lot easier.

100 Club Board.jpg

100 Club

Build consistency. Track progress. Get results.

What's this FASTING business about. Some SIMPLE answers.

What's this FASTING business about. Some SIMPLE answers.

There are many different styles of fasting out there. They have different purposes and suit different people. We wanted to touch on what we have been doing and seeing excellent results. We are here to help achieve the optimal result, so please speak with a professional to see if it might be for you. 

Fasting is a term describing restricting food consumption to a specific time window, then resume regular eating patterns. A popular intermittent fasting strategy is fasting for 14-18 hours and eating during the 6-10 hour window left. You can extend to what some of us did recently being a 24, 36 and 42hr fast.

Let's say I ate my last meal at 7 pm last night and I ate nothing else after that. To complete an intermittent fast, restrict eating until around 12 pm the next afternoon. Yes, sleeping time counts as fasting time. To do this every day, only eat between 12 pm and 7 pm and fast for the rest of the day.

A popular practice is Alternate Day Fasting (or 5:2 diet popularised by the likes of Michael Mosley). Someone eats a low-calorie diet on “fast” days, but normally on other days.   

Another complication is the fact that fasting impacts populations differently. Men and women respond differently. More restrictive fasting protocols may be harmful for women. But moderate options like eating in a 10-12-hour window may have an anti-stress effect. 

We advocate fasting for most people, but the number one thing you need to know is that there’s no simple answer. What works for you might be a nightmare for someone else. The key is to do your research, and if you decide to give fasting a try, don’t be afraid to experiment.

Fasting has been traced back to our ancestors who could eat only when food was available. 

We WOULD NOT encourage someone who is sick to start fasting as you may become even sicker. This is because fasting promotes the body to liberate fatty acids. Fat stores are where the body shuttles toxins that can’t be excreted via the normal pathways such as:

  1. Sweat
  2. Urination
  3. Breath
  4. Stool – poo

Many people are not ready to start fasting. For the liver to break down toxins, it needs to be packed with nutrients. Toxins deplete nutrients in the liver, so they need to be replenished by high-quality food.

Periods of low food intake make sense for the body to cleanse. But continually under-eating is a BAD idea. Feasting in the time around your fast is a good idea. Having a high nutrient intake at times when your body requires it are as important. Nourishing the bodies cells means life. Provide what’s needed for the cellular reactions that keep cells alive. Occasionally stop eating.

Fasting has been shown to improve:

1. Fat Loss & Metabolic Flexibility. Fasting allows you to become metabolically flexible. Your body can burn body fat because it reduces hunger and food cravings while improving metabolism and brain function. By reducing our dependence on food and timings, we can make better choices.

2. Metabolic Health - Restore Insulin Sensitivity & Lower Cholesterol. Fasting can restore insulin sensitivity, lower glucose, and reducing belly fat. 

This combination is fantastic for health and diabetes prevention. When your cells are resistant to insulin; your body is much more likely to store the food you eat as fat. Insulin resistance also produces inflammation, causing the most destructive health problems.  

Nutrients that will help support fasting protocols include:

  • Water, tea & coffee - Avoiding water for extended periods of time can be dangerous. Your body needs water to stay hydrated unless you are well accustomed to water fasts.  Tea, black coffee or water from boiled vegetables are good options. 
  • ACV and lime.
  • Bone Broth. It contains many minerals and vitamins and is quite ‘filling’ to reduce hunger pains. The other benefit is that you can add a good amount of sea salt to it. 
  • Have a collagen drink.
  • If hungry, have a ‘fat tea’ – butter/ghee + coconut oil + MCT + collagen + herbal tea, blend and enjoy.
  • BCAA’s, Glutamine and Glycine can be used along with a B-vitamin or multi-vitamin.

Summary,

Eating healthy foods during your eating window is crucial. It won't work if you eat lots of junk food or excessive amounts of calories.

I find this to be the most "natural" way to do intermittent fasting. I eat this way myself and find it to be 100% effortless.

Many clients get back control, make better choices and shred fat using fasting.

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Dropped 2.7kg in 2 days

Feasting after a fast is just as important. 

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Winter Wake Up – How to get up on these cold winter mornings

Winter Wake Up – How to get up on these cold winter mornings

Its 5 am, 13deg outside, but a cozy 23deg under your doona and your alarm goes off.

You hit snooze. Just another 5min.

You think ‘Just another few minutes and I’ll get up’, and then ‘do I really need to do this today, I didn’t have the best sleep’ and then ‘why am I even doing this’?

Let me tell you, you are not alone.

Winter can be the toughest time to stay motivated to train on those early mornings because for many, that’s the only time you get 5min to yourself.

So how do you stay consistent through the cold months?

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1. You generally need to have a deeper reason for training. Your why. Just wanting a better body doesn’t cut it. You have to NEED the results you are getting from training.

The way it energises you for the rest of the day.

The mental clarity and reduced stress because you are under a lot of pressure.

The weight loss because you want to feel sexy for your partner and be confident in your own skin.

The strength and mobility to play with your kids all day.

Whatever it is, it needs to be rock solid. There must be a vision in your mind. Write it up somewhere you will see it every day. 

2. Remove the excuses and make it easy. Be prepared.

Set your clothes out the night before. I have a weeks’ worth of clothes stacked ready to go.

Get you and the kids breakfast prepped the night before.

Ensure you have a plan for yourself and your partner so you are both on the same wavelength.

3. Do something you enjoy. We’ve done our fair share of bootcamps, and we take our hats off to those who can get down on the cold dewy ground at 6 am when its 13deg. If you like lifting weights. Do that. If you like yoga. Do that. The list goes on. Just ensure it’s balanced with strength, mobility and conditioning.

In addition, if you have to walk into a place with no community or vibe to PB your 5km of the treadmill or hit a random weights program, we also wish you the best of luck.

Having a community helps keep you accountable and makes getting sweaty a whole lot more enjoyable.

4. Your health is EVERYTHING! If you don’t prioritise your health each an every day, no one else will. No matter how hard the session was, everyone always says, ‘It was hard to get up this morning, but I’m so glad I did’. 

In summary, 

  • Find your reason for doing it
  • Remove the excuses
  • Do something you enjoy
  • Just make the choice to prioritise your health.

Are you training enough or too much?

Are you training enough or too much?

A common question we get asked, how much should I be ‘training’? Without trying to sound like most professionals, it depends on a couple of different factors including intensity, volume, time, recovery and history. We will say however, that most of us can handle more load than what we think.

"We have not journeyed all this way across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies, because we are made of sugar candy."- Winston Churchill

Go to hard, and injury is almost a certainty, but doing too little will yield minimal results, repeating the same old cycles and increasing the risk of injury when you do decide to ‘test yourself out’.

This is where seeking out the right help is critical. We design our programs to push you hard enough to get big improvements out of your body - not only in terms of body image, strength and fitness, but also resilience.  At the same time it won’t push you over the line so that you end up breaking things.

A key element is not trying to ‘make up for lost time’ or ‘missed sessions’ by going extra hard on the next. It will lead to additional unwanted soreness and increased risk of overuse as it will not align with your normal recovery practices.

Priorities play an important role here. If training takes away time to read your kids a bedtime story, that your choice. Its all about balance, but training is a big part of ensuring you’re around to not only read your kids a bedtime story, but to see them graduate, marry, have kids and enjoy all those moments in good health. We would also question your priorities if you couldn’t training 3x a week because you were working 60hr week.

A couple of key pieces of advice are:

  • 1hr of moderate exercise seem to eliminate the increased risk of mortality risks associated with 8hrs of inactivity
  • Sleep – Athletes who sleep less than 8hrs per night are 1.7x greater risk of injury than those who sleep greater than 8hrs
  • If you train >4x per week and feel you need a day off, you probably do. As an alternative, just have a ‘low volume’ day.
  • 15min of recovery per 1hr of training. That’s stretching, foam rolling, water therapy etc. As you get older (>35yrs old), double the recovery time.
  • Stick to the program and try not to miss sessions as you begin to lose the resilience that makes you that little bit more bulletproof the next time you load up. We’ve had our best results on the back of consistent training, and we know it will work for you.
  • We classify skill work as training. Find a daily minimum that is super easy to hit and is low impact (100 sec of handstands, 100 juggling throws, 10 pull-ups).
  • If you do happen to get injured, seek out professional help asap. We couldn’t tell you the number of people who have done something and just let it sit there hoping it would get better. It often wont, your body just works around it, which causes problems in itself.

In summary, train in various forms daily, build your resilience, ensure you’re doing the appropriate levels of recovery and seek guidance from a professional from the start

Depressed Office Professional to Living

Depressed Office Professional to Living

Tired. Lethargic. Weak. Depressed. Pretty much living in the office. That was my life as an Engineer before I broke. These are the top 3 things I now do to make sure I don’t get to that place again.

I was living the dream. High paying job as an engineer. Working on great projects. Bought a house in a great city. But under the surface I wasn’t operating at the level I wanted to.

Being a ‘professional’ isn’t all its cracked up to be. The big company culture and lifestyle is one which can leave you incredibly overworked with a below average lifestyle and poor health.

You see, you don’t really have a perception of what is normal. It’s kind of like being in a casino you cant escape as you’re confined to your cubical.

Take out for lunch. 3-4 coffees a day. Raiding the biscuit jar. Beers after work.

This is the norm.

I sat in a meeting with a lot of senior employees, listening to them talk about their lives. The company had been laying off people. Funding was tight. Staff development was non-existent. Moral at an all time low.

Sitting there, taking it all in, I realised, THIS IS MY FUTURE.

It was in that moment I decided, I don’t want to be the middle aged overweight guy, stressed to the max, living for the weekend, not enjoying time with his family, just turning up to collect a pay-check, slowly dying, not contributing to anything worth-while besides making shareholders richer.

This is what has helped me find the balance.  

1.       Training & Community

I found a great community and place to train.

I played team sport all my life, and joining a gym with a great community was a huge piece of the puzzle. With limitless benefits, exercising and lifting weights in this environment gave me purpose and made me feel really good. It gave me a reason to not just go and sit at home and watch TV.

I got strong, I was fit, I had to BREATH and I made a bunch of friends.

2.       Nutrition

To be perfectly honest, the SAD (Standard Australian Diet) is a big part of the reason I was feeling how I was. Heavy, bloated, tired, fuzzy – pretty standard for majority of people these days. This is average but IS NOT NORMAL. They are different.

It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. Jiddu Krishnamurti

I changed up my nutrition. I’ve tried a lot of different things over the journey (still trying), but I try to keep things pretty simple.

  • Low carb style diet with >90% wholefoods,
  • As many veggies and greens as possible,
  • Good protein,
  • Lots of good fats.
  • Intermittent fasting,
  • Avoid processed foods/liquids,
  • Minimal alcohol (just the occasional red wine, port or rum) and;
  • Occasionally spoil myself with a Buinning’s sanga or Ice cream.

I just try to make good choices and challenge my own willpower. You are what you eat has never been truer.

3.       Standing Still

I used to ride to work a bit. One afternoon on a ride home, I actually pulled over and just sat to watch the sunset for 15min. Now I’m pretty competitive, so I used to race home and try and beat my time.

Thinking metaphorically about it, I never looked back to see the beauty that was passing me by each day. With relationships, experiences, life. I was always looking far ahead, planning in advance, trying to WIN.

I now realise its part of my personality, but being more aware of always trying to live for tomorrow has helped me be more present, to appreciate what I have, maybe even grateful, because what we have now is all we have, and we are exactly where we need to be.

I still need to be constantly reminded of this by my amazing wife, who just about only lives in the present, but it has also helped me find more joy in life.

So if you’re an engineer, accountant, teacher, lawyer, whatever, you get these 3 things right, you will be on the right track to living the life you want.

  • Join a healthy community
  • Train & Breath
  • Eat well, not the SAD
  • Be still and find gratitude.

EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL ON TRAINING & PERFORMANCE

EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL ON TRAINING & PERFORMANCE

If you’re anything like I used to be, a bunch of beers followed by quite a few spirits on the weekend was a regular occurrence. Did it affect my performance as an athlete? It was hard to tell sometimes. I once won a grand final still hungover from 2 nights before (not my finest hour or smartest thing I’ve ever done). I also played my best game of social touch footy after a few pints… which however did not end that well afterward.

I will preface this by saying I don’t drink a great deal these days, mostly because it is toxic for your body and I enjoy a lot of other things a lot more than a hangover. Last week I listened to an interesting podcast from the guys at Barbell Shrugged on the effects of alcohol and training. Check it out HERE. So how bad is it exactly?

Well, the key points were:

  • It doesn’t necessarily reduce strength or performance initially, but it will increase recovery time and you won’t recover as well. Meaning you can’t train as much or as hard afterward which is not ideal for any athlete.
  • Chronic consumption leads to less androgen receptors. For the men out there, these regulate genes, contribute to skeletal maintenance and very importantly, directly effects testosterone. Less testosterone = less gains and less sex.
  • Training after alcohol will lead to absorption of less than optimal nutrients into the muscle fibres. Absence of exercise however prolongs hangovers. Therefore, probably best to get out and do something, but nothing too strenuous or damaging.
  • Mixed drinks and beer are marginally better due to the sugars and antioxidants
  • Darker spirits tend to have more methanol in them generally cause harder hangovers. Methanol has a quick and profound effect on the body. The body transforms methanol into formaldehyde and formic acid, which does serious damage to your central nervous system. (I might stay away from the Rum & Coke from now on)
  • If you’re going to have a drink, make sure you eat with it, specifically some protein as its better at controlling the blood alcohol level. 

So next time your dad or pop says ‘back in my day, we used to just drink beers after games and it didn’t affect us’, you know he’s talking rubbish.

Key points

For the everyday Joe hitting the gym 3-5x per week, the 3 beers or wines you have after work or with dinner are minimising your gains, not to mention toxifying your body plus adding unwanted poor quality calories to the daily intake.

If you’re a professional athlete, its pretty obvious you should be steering clear as much as possible. It isn’t serving you and it is hindering your ability to make a living. As for the weekend punter, a couple of beers after the game probably isn’t the defining reason for poor performance. And for the young guys out on the drink every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday nights, you’re pretty much destroying your ability to do anything to the best of your ability.

At the end of the day, its the choices you make which define who you are. If that's having a few drinks every now and then, that's fine, just make sure you understand the effects it is having, then your decision will be the right one for you at the time.  

Fundamental Strength Training for Field Athletes

Fundamental Strength Training for Field Athletes

The #1 thing athletes, particularly young athletes ask me about is ‘How do I get stronger?’. When I was 15, I wanted to do the same thing (not much has changed). It’s quiet an interesting thing because whether you are a coach, player or parent, most say that strength is an extremely important aspect of their game, however unfortunately almost none seek the right programs, facilities and guidance or make the investment to achieve it. The 2nd thing people ask is about speed. Even my mother knew that I got faster when my legs got stronger. So the 2 are very strongly related.

So what’s required to get stronger? Well let me tell you, the occasional plank circuit after training will NOT cut the mustard. Especially the way 90% of athletes do them. I can almost guarantee if you are 17 or older, you have been going to your local gym for at least 12 months with your mates hitting the bench press, leg press, dumbbell shoulder press, assisted pull-ups, preacher bicep curls, tricep extensions and whatever other random movements the PT gave you in your ‘body building’ program or you see the other ripped dudes at the gym doing.. You then smash your ‘Mass Bulk’ protein shake you got from your local supplement store, head home and pray the gains are coming. That’s what I did on and off for almost a decade, and it pretty much got me no-where. Unfortunately this is still the norm.

One thing you need to realise is you are an athlete, not a body builder. Your biceps wont matter if your glutes are marshmallows. The right movements, with the right load, completed at the right volume, tempo and intensity are all critical elements. Your nutrition is probably even more important, but you still crush your cereal/toast for breaky, sandwhich for lunch, biscuits/chips/muesli bars and whatever mum serves up for dinner and believe you are eating ‘pretty’ healthy.

If any of this sounds familiar, the good news is, I know how you feel, I know you’re trying really hard, and you aren’t beyond help. I’m not saying all this to try and look smart or make you feel crap. I’m saying this because I know there are so many of you out there, the same as what I was, and I want to genuinely help you get better and not waste years of your life at the gym getting nowhere.

The purpose of this blog is really to give you some basic information about what you need to do, but unfortunately its all in the implementation and execution. I’m going to take you from bottom to top of what you need to be doing to get stronger. It’s a long process, so don’t be fooled, but you can also make significant gains in a short space of time with the right tools and execution.

 
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Firstly, the focus needs to be around competence. Creating good movement patterns, body awareness, activation and control are the foundations for all training, and should be the primary focus mostly through body weight movements. Once they can complete all movements and have shown the body awareness, body control, skill and understanding of themselves, they are able to start increasing one or all elements such as loads, complexity of movement, volume, or intensity. This is where we really start building the base to create strong, mobile and powerful movers.

 
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Feet – Your feet are a huge component in everything you do as an athlete. They are what connects you to the ground, so they need to be looked after. Hands up if you have ever rolled your ankle badly (or worse) or had planter fasciitis, severs or osgood schlatters? Your feet are the starting point.

What to do? Massage them with a hard ball.. A LOT. This releases facia, musculature and tension throughout the system. The Chinese were onto something with focusing on feet. Be barefoot as much as possible and hit barefoot calf raises twice a week. Wearing shoes all the time is like putting a cast on your arm. Let them be free and rebuild the strength and muscular in them.

Calves and Shins – This is where we run into problems around growing pains. Essentially your bones are growing faster than your soft tissues can keep up with in a lot of cases. Tall, skinny and no calves. Sound familiar?

What to do – Do the same thing you did for your feet. Smash the hell out of those calves & soleus, and even on the front either side of the shin.. Build the strength with the barefoot calf raises and plyometrics (start light with skipping and build up to more complex jumping).

Quads – Most athletes don’t know how to use their glutes and hamstrings, which places more emphasis on the quads. This is generally the most developed part due to the amount of running and jumping they do. Strong quads are great, but we can be under-developed in our VMO which significantly contributes to knee stability.

What to do – Step ups and single leg squats are your friends here not to mention squatting (both 2-feet and single leg variations). Foam rolling and stretching particularly the hip flexors will make sure those quads are strong and supple.

 
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Hamstrings – How often do you stretch your hamstring? Ever made any gains with it? The stretching you are probably doing now is a complete waste of time. It makes you feel a little bit better, but doesn’t really achieve anything. Want to be able to get further than touching your shoe laces without having to strain and start shaking like a leaf? Two things you need to do are spend more time down there, and do HEAPS more weighted and ballistic stretching. Most of what you experience is a neurological response because you don’t use them, these methods help overcome that. Like everything, if you don’t use it, it gets weak, and most young athletes have weak hamstrings which then leads to strains/tears, not to mention being slow.

What to do – USE THEM MORE! Nordics, harop curls, hamstrings curls etc are essential for injury prevention and building strength for speed. Work on eccentrics, concentrics and isometrics here. Weighted stretching and ballistic stretching are also essential.

Glutes – Ever seen a sprinter with a small ass? The glutes are our powerhouse, and unfortunately most don’t even know to activate them let alone use them. Weak glutes are also a primary cause for back, hamstring and knee problems, so should be a HUGE part of your program.

What to do – Get them fired up with mini-bands and various bridges, then hit the hinging movements such as a deadlift, RDL and any other movement you can think of that uses the glutes. Don’t forget about the lateral and rotational plains. We play multi-directional sports so we need to train that way as well. Keep them supple using trigger balls.

Trunk – This comprises every part of your mid section, not just the front. It is there to stabilise and protect the spine and everything inside. The 6 pack is for the beach, not the field (although body comp etc plays a big role in being an athlete, but that’s a story for another day). Again, the trunk needs to work in all planes. That’s flexion, extension, rotation, anti-rotation and stabilisation under load.

What to do - You are doing core work if you lift, carry or hold just any load, particularly heavy load, so squatting, deadlifting, pressing all fall under this. Add in some rotational and anti-rotation work (bands/cables/balls) with a bit of flexion & extension work (sit-ups/leg raises and supermans) and you will be ticking most of the boxes.

Upper body – This is both front and back. I grouped it together because it all works together and I don’t like training really isolated movements. Upper body is really important for any athlete because there is an element in contact in most sports and you want to be a complete athlete (unless you’re a cyclist) to cope with the demands of the game. It also plays a big role in being able to physically dominate your opponent, but more importantly, feel confident. Why are bicep curls important for a soccer player? Because they make you look good, and if you look good then you feel bloody good, and if you feel good you’re going to go out there with more confidence to perform.

What to do – I don’t really like focusing on one body part once a week. Its about accumulation of volume across the week for me. Think push, pull and rotate in all different planes. Keep your shoulders healthy with banded work, hit the big lifts (bench, press, pull-up, row) and make sure like always, your form is on point. Always balance your pushing and pulling work and make sure you include single arm work as well.

Head – Get your head in the game. This is a big part of becoming an athlete, particularly in the modern game. Don’t neglect it. Do the work and the rewards (injury prevention + performance) will be waiting for you. Most guys once they start a good program love strength training. The chemical release is phenomenal so what it can do for your psychology is just as important as the physical.

Recovery & Nutrition – This is in all honestly probably your biggest limiting factor. Too many simple carbs, not enough complex carbs and vegetables, not enough protein and next to no fat are the common things we see. Poor sleep, poorly hydrated and poor breathing practices are also big limiters.

What to do - If you’re skinny as a rake like I was, you need to eat like its your job and be prepared. Feed your body with foods with high nutritional value (veggies, complex carbs, good fat, quality protein, herbs etc). You need to eat more than you use (energy balance) and ensure you are hydration. Hydration helps cells regeneration and keeps the body functioning optimally. Sleep gives the body a chance to restore from training. If your getting <7hrs as an adult, and <8hrs as a kid, you aren’t getting enough sleep to properly recover from training and you’re wasting all the work you are doing. As for breathing, breath deeply more often and nose breath as much as possible. This is a BIG part of recovery and stress (training is a stressor) management. Check out the research.

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Conclusion

I didn’t appreciate the difference becoming stronger would have on my game until after it was too late. If I would have just spent a couple of years following a good program, I would have been 5yrs ahead of where I was physically, which would have changed the game for me. And that's what I want for you. 

If you’re interested in finding out more about strength training for athletes, I will be holding a workshop in WEEK 1 of 2018. During this time, we will go through all things related to strength, movement patterns, mobility, nutrition and becoming a better athlete. This is what I love, and would love to be able to share it more with you. CLICK HERE or below for details. 



Muscle recovery after a tough morning session

Muscle recovery after a tough morning session

After a punishing strength workout the day before, do you wake up with stiff and sore muscles? Micro tears are created in the muscle during tough workouts, and it will need time (general guide is 48 hours) to recover. Here are our muscle recovery tips to follow so you can return to the gym better than ever!

1. Rest - Get some sleep. Having at least 7+ hours of quality sleep repairs our muscles, as growth hormone (HGH) is released helping our muscles regenerate and recover from strain. Not only does sleep help your muscles grow, it recharges your brain. When you wake up rested, you wake up with a positive mindset - ready for the day. Light exercise can also drive blood flow to your muscles to help with the recovery process, try a brisk walk, jogging or swimming.

2. Nutrition -  It goes without saying that consuming adequate amounts of protein is needed to help your muscles recover. Keep your fluids up: drink water to flush out those toxins. If you want to know which supplements can help your body recover,

  • Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil to reduce inflammation),
  • Magnesium and Zinc (these nutrients are expelled from muscles during exercise and are essential minerals for normal muscle function, and play a central role in the conversion of carbohydrates to energy), and
  • Vitamin B6 – aids the absorption of Magnesium and Zinc.

3. Massage & Foam Rolling - Massage from a trained therapist can be beneficial and speed up recovery. A cost effective option would be to use a foam roller, to help loosen some knots in your muscles and help with increasing blood flow to the targeted muscles. Who doesn’t love a good massage? Ask the Cornerstone team for help on how to roll!

4. Yoga -  Many Yoga poses will help stretch your limbs, decrease your muscle pain and improve your flexibility for your next workout. Get your zen on by taking a Yoga class, or taking time on your rest day to stretch it out.

Muscular fatigue and pain can be a huge demotivator in your lifestyle journey but do not be discouraged. When you experience muscle aches post workout, this means you are building muscle! You are doing great!

Breaking Bad Habits

Breaking Bad Habits

“The difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do.” - Charles Duhigg.

Everyone has a few habits they would like to change, but often the usual reminders just don’t work! Anyone who struggles with eating unhealthy foods, or maintaining regular sessions at the gym will be able to relate.

In “The Power of Habit”, award winning reporter Charles Duhigg writes about how some people struggle to achieve their goals, and how others are able to overcome hurdles to become a success. Duhigg examines how habits work, how we create new habits, and why some of us are able to transform our lives. This article breaks down the key takeaways for you!

Habit cycle.jpg

How do our habits work? Every habit can be broken down into a loop, that is made up of a cue, routine and reward. Here’s a snazzy illustration of the habit loops.

Here is a classic example.

Mary’s cue every Monday afternoon is the clock striking 3.30pm after her weekly meeting with her difficult manager Steve. The routine can be as simple as making a cup of tea and having a slice of chocolate cake baked by Judy from Marketing for afternoon tea. Look, we all know how delicious good chocolate cake can be so the reward is a no brainer. Mary sits down with Judy to eat cake, drink a restorative cup of tea and talk about her meeting.

When the brain craves the reward of chocolate cake, the habit of having a slice becomes automatic. It is difficult to break a bad habit because the brain can’t figure out which is a bad or good habit!

Want to learn how to banish a bad habit?

Step 1 - Identify your cue. This can be a certain time (hello three-thirtyitis), place (work), mental state (frustrated), people (Judy) and anything you were doing beforehand (meeting with Steve). Identify these key cues and you will know what sets the stage for your bad habit.

Step 2 - What is the routine you need to change? This should be easy as it is the bad behaviour and habit you wish to change. Ask yourself why it is important to make that change.

Step 3 - Change your rewards! Instead of that sweet chocolate cake, how about a reward that will satisfy the real craving? After Mary’s meeting, perhaps the real reward was to have a supportive conversation with a colleague. Mary could also change the snack to a healthy one, try a piece of fruit instead!

Step 4 - Create a plan. Identify your plan and write it down. Mary can say, “If I feel the urge to eat chocolate cake, then I’ll go for a walk around the block with Judy”. This simple change can circumvent your usual routine and stop you from maintaining your bad habit by starting a new, healthier habit. This way, Mary can still have her catch up with Judy without the cake.

Of course changing habits take some real work. Don’t be discouraged if you forget your new routine and go back to your old habits. Keep changing your routine, be aware of your habit loop and soon you won’t even have to think about it.

Nutrition for Athletes - My Top 6.

Nutrition for Athletes - My Top 6.

Nutrition plays a huge roll in performance no matter your sport. I hope that’s pretty obvious to you. Unfortunately for most, it tends to take a back seat. My guess is that this is because of two reasons. 1. Most young athletes have crazy fast metabolisms as they try to grow and churn out energy for you to burn so you can pretty much eat what you want without thinking it’s affecting performance; and 2. There is so much information out there, its really hard to know what to eat so we just do what we think.

The overarching principle needs to be, did it fly, run, swim, grow on a tree, grow in the ground or have eyes? If not, there is probably a better option out there.

My diet used to consist of cereal sometimes twice a day, chicken salad roll for lunch, piece of fruit, some type of frozen mini-pizzas in the afternoon, muesli bars and meat with some veg + potato for dinner. Sound familiar?

Essentially everyone is different and no one method is exactly right for everyone, and its different for different goals. I believe in a balanced, sustainable approach that is enjoyable. In saying that it might not be too enjoyable at the start as you try to develop better habits, but once you do realise how good you can feel, it will be an easy decision to eat better.

1. YOU HAVE TO NEED IT

Wanting a better body or performance doesn’t cut it. You have to need it. It has to be a part of your plan and vision otherwise it’s not going to happen. Energy balance is key here. Our bodies like homeostasis. We want to stay the same so staying the same is easy. Change is hard so if you want change you’re going to have to work for it. You must earn the body you want to live in. Habits are hard to start, but easy to keep.

2. HYDRATION & SALT.

Our bodies are made mostly of water so it would make sense to make sure we are hydrating and replenishing these stores, particularly on training or game days. Salt plays a HUGE role in keeping our bodies going, particularly for athletes when you sweat a lot. Restricting salt could be disastrous if you are an athlete who sweats a lot. If you don’t get enough salt, your performance could be severely hindered because sodium plays a primary role in heart function and hydration. 

If you cramp a lot or lack energy even if you have eaten enough, there is a good chance you could be low in salt. You lose salts when you sweat, but don’t be fooled by how much you sweat. Your body needs sodium and other electrolytes for your body to retain the water you drink. A pinch of Himalayan Sea Salt in your water can be as effective if not more than any sports drink. 

Each day should start with hydration - 2 big glasses of water. Use warm lemon water or 1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar in the mornings if you can. Sounds disgusting, but is legit. You’ll also likely want to eat less and get more nutritional value from food. Formulate a plan to make sure you’re drinking around 30mL x Body Weight (ie 70kg = 2100 mL) per day and even more if you’re active. This could be any calorie free liquids such as herbal teas, filtered water, infused water (cucumber, lemon etc.) particularly for weight loss unless you are actively trying to replace other nutrients.

3. MEAL TIMING AND GAME DAY NUTRITION

In summary, for athletes, eating really well throughout the entire week will yield the best results. We like to follow a higher fat diet to help sustain energy for longer without having to eat every 2hrs.

In general - Get a really good balanced diet throughout the day for training. For us, increasing healthy fat consumption (avocado, nuts, coconut oil etc) is critical, as well as probably protein consumption for a lot of young athletes. Eggs are your friend. If you do this, you will be less likely to need 4 slices of bread and honey pre-training to ‘perform’ well.  Fuel your body with nutrients that help your body in multiple ways, not just fast acting simple carbs for energy.

>2hrs Pre-Game – Eat 2-3 hours before training/game to have amino acids in the blood during your session/game. Eating a really well-balanced meal with healthy fats, high quality protein and complex carbs >2hrs out is ideal. Some of the best complex carbs include colourful veggies, leafy greens, sweet potato and quinoa. There aren’t any rules saying you can’t have turkey, veggies and avo for breakfast.

1-3hrs Pre-Game – A banana plus maybe a protein shake ~1-3hrs out from the game should set you up well. Play a little with your diet though and see what works well for you. Lollies and sports drinks are definitely NOT the best option here.

Post-game – This importance of this window depends on a number of things, but it’s very important to get a good meal within about 90min of finishing to help your body recover faster. Get some quality carbs and protein into you asap. A protein shake with no added sugar is a good option if you can’t get a food protein source.

4. PREPARATION is EVERYTHING!

“If you fail to plan, you plan to FAIL”. Spending an hour preparing lunches on a Sunday will save you 3-4hrs through the week, AND you will eat a lot healthier. (STOP LETTING MUM MAKE YOUR SANDWICHES). Every weekend, head to the shops to stock up cook/make it all. We guarantee it’s worth it.

5. SUPPLEMENTS.

We have been programmed to think we need a tonne of different supplements to get the most out of ourselves. We encourage you to get all your nutritional requirements from food and depending on your level or sport, the cost of many supplements is not likely to provide you the rewards you are looking for. If you can eat around your training and get your protein and carb requirements from food, then perfect, but if not, a protein powder might be a good option. Just eat well and you generally won’t have to worry. Some of the best supplements out there are those you can find at the supermarket. They include almonds, beetroot (not caned) and blueberries.

If you have an actual deficiency, take a whole-food, natural, and organic nutrition-supplement-type product. Things like multi-vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, collagen, MCT oil and exercise recovery products (magnesium) can be very beneficial. Magnesium, zinc, selenium, vitamin D and B12 are common deficiencies but anything can become deficient if it’s being constantly depleted or not being ingested or absorbed.

A varied nutrient dense diet can help avoid most imbalances, but if you do feel like you need something, its best to consult experienced nutritionist and naturopaths, not your local supplement store guy.

6. ALCOHOL

We know its a massive part of our culture, but alcohol is toxic to the body and is prioritised for processing and excretion compared to protein and fat. Your body will therefore try to store any other nutrients during this time as fat. Alcohol is proven to impair muscle strength and power, decreasing your training intensity and overall ability to build lean muscle mass. So going out on student night and after games is not helping you be the best you can be.

Alcohol dehydrates the body, increasing the recovery time and risk of injury and directly lowers your metabolic rate. Reduce or eliminate if you are serious about getting the best results. Low carb beer is an minor improvement, but it’s still toxic.

We hope this has helped in some way to giving you the knowledge on how to improve performance through nutrition. All our athletes get nutrition guidance and coaching, so if this is an area you need help with, get in contact with us today. 

Top 5 ways to get faster

Top 5 ways to get faster

So you want to get faster? I guess that is why you clicked on this.

It might seem like a simple question, and it is depending on how you look at it, but it can also be a little complex. Lets first establish what speed is and what part of it you actually want to become better at.

Do you want to be able to run 100m in a straight line faster? Run 20m in a straight line faster? 5m faster? Do you want faster reaction time? Do you want to change direction faster? Do you want to be able to accelerate to top speed faster? Do you want to increase your top speed? As you can see, its not exactly a simple question.

I will assume you will probably say ‘all of the above’, so I’ll do my best to cover all bases.

Firstly, I’m going to get a bit sciencey on you, and try to define exactly what speed is. I’ll try not to go too deep.

Speed is the rate at which an object covers a distance. So essentially the distance divided by the time it takes to get there. Speed is independent of direction though. So are you saying you want to be directionless? If you are a field sport athlete, I’m guessing no.

Now if you add direction to the equation, you get velocity.. ie Velocity = Speed in a defined Direction.

Now acceleration is something we definitely need to talk about. Acceleration (or deceleration) is the change in velocity. Acceleration = (final velocity – initial velocity) divided by (final time – initial time). Are you still with me? Essentially it is your ability to change ‘velocity’ quickly. Hopefully that makes sense.

Now just to throw a spanner in the works, I want to briefly talk about Force, because force is a critical component in all of this. Force = Mass x Acceleration. This means an object with a larger mass (essentially your weight) needs a stronger force to be moved along at the same acceleration as an object with a small mass. This is Newton's Second Law of Motion for you nerds out there.

You have probably heard of people being ‘powerful’ athletes. Well power is another piece of the puzzle worth mentioning. Power = Force X Velocity. So essentially your ability to deliver force quickly in a specific direction.. Hopefully this picture is starting to build in your mind.

Can you see how these are all interlinked, and that in most part ‘Force’ underpins most of what we are talking about? Do you know what you want to improve yet? If I were to guess what you want, its probably to become more powerful. So now that we have established some ‘basics’, we can talk about how to improve a few things.

1. FORCE

To get faster, you essentially need to be able to deliver a larger force in the opposite direction to which you want to go. When you run, that’s essentially at an angle into the ground. Sam goes for sideways, backwards and upwards (jumping).

So how do you improve your ability to deliver force? Well essentially you need to improve the structures which deliver that force, and by structures I predominately mean soft tissue (muscles, ligaments and tendons). The major contributors to force production are the obvious ones, glutes, hamstrings, calves, achilles, hip flexors and quads; however the lower back is one which actually significantly contributes to force production. It often gets overlooked, but if you speak with any elite running or strength coach, they will tell you lower back is key.

How do you improve that soft tissue, well you increase the ability of the tissue to contract, increase the ability of the tissue to stretch (within reason) and increase the number of fibres within that group.

Hinging and squatting are the two stables of any good program, and all the different variations, in particular single leg work. But don’t forget the different planes of motion. Up/down, sideways and rotational. The upper body also plays an important role (how often to you see a world class sprinter with a small chest or arms?) so the big strength movements should form part of the program (bench, overhead press, pull-up, row). You can’t forget the core as well. If you have nothing linking the upper and lower body to keep everything strong and stable, you’re no chance.

A key component to all this is tempo. The concentric phase of every rep needs to be attacked with speed (or if I’m getting technical, velocity). Slow reps might get you strong, but you could be using those reps to better effect by performing them faster. Get a good strength program and follow it. This will generally be a good balance between ‘strength’ (1-5 reps) and ‘hypertrophy’ (8-20 reps) work. It can also be done with things like resisted sprints (weighted, hill sprints sleds etc).

Force Targets

If you want to be an athlete who can deliver a lot of force, having a 1.5x BW squat, 2xBW deadlift, 1.2xBW bench and a 0.75xBW Military press will either be a solid base from which to work, or be adequate to take you to a high level depending on your sport.

2. Deliver force FASTER – POWER

I spoke a little about delivering force faster above throughout strength movements. What I want to talk about here is being explosive. Fast guys are explosive. They have a unique ability to deliver force quickly, ie POWER.

To do this, you need to practice thinking, and being explosive. Lightly resisted movements are great to develop this such as ball throws and jumps, as are more complex movements like cleans and snatching. Weightlifting are among the most explosive and powerful athletes in the world. For a 75kg guy to get 170kg+ over his head, he needs to be fast, very fast.

Plyometrics play an important role in this as well. The ability to accelerate and decelerate is something I haven’t touched much on yet, but it is absolutely critical for any field sport athletes. If you ever watched mighty ducks, you will remember the guy who was extremely fast, but he was no use as he couldn’t stop. Then in the last game, he stopped for the first time and essentially won them the game. You can only accelerate as fast as you can decelerate. This is your ability to change direction. You will see guys who are poor at this all the time. Its like watching a Mack truck turning because they can’t slow down.

Plyometrics improve the fast twitch fibres, but can also overload the soft tissue and joints upon landing, and thus help build the strength in the tissue to absorb (stretch) and then contract again to ‘accelerate’ and deliver force. Skipping is a great place to start, and working into different jumping variations will have you on your way. Ladder work also falls a bit into this category, but its certainly not top of the list.

Power Targets

As a measure, we consider having a 30 Inch vertical jump or 1.4xheight standing long jump to put you in the game in terms of explosiveness.

3. Efficiency and Technique 

When we say efficiency, I’m talking about efficiency of movement. This includes foot placement and body position. LADDERS DO NOT MAKE YOU FASTER, but what they can do is help you develop patterns and positioning. Everyone wants to do ladder work and ‘fast feet’, but 99% of people don’t do it well. Yes we want to move our feet faster, but for me, I want to move them more efficiently. Ladder help direct your foot placement and develop movement patters which can lead to you taking shorter strides when accelerating or decelerating. Building these patterns into the sub-conscious are the key, and there are heaps of drills out there which can be used to develop this.

Michael Johnson was one of the greatest athletes of all time, and man was he efficient. He was the king of the filthiest race, the 400m. His style to me looked a bit odd, but it was so dam efficient. One of the best things I did before I ran my marathon was to get a running assessment, and I would recommend sprint or running training to anyone. I have learnt some great things over the years and can teach a few basics, but professional help is great. This will help you move with more efficiency and with better form which helps tremendously with improving speed as well as injury prevention.

4. Reaction time, vision and ability to read the game.

Just because you can run fast, doesn’t necessarily mean that will translate to game situations. Being a student of the game is the first step. Play more, watch more, assess more and try more. Confronting a variety of situations will help develop this.

Vision gets spoken about a lot when it comes to particularly playmakers or creative guys. They just see things others don’t see. This comes from an ability to do a task (ie dribble, run, talk) while scanning the field. A big part of this is peripheral vision. (Quick rant – if you spend a lot of time on your phone, computers etc, this is making things worse, but even worse is if you are letting you kids do this. Its killing their eyes and their vision, and probably making them crap at any sport our activity requiring the body and skill). Activities such as juggling can improve this significantly. Vision is also critical for defenders. Ability to watch a player make runs and where other attackers are going to play the ball (as well as doing lazy midfielders jobs).

But the ability for any player to adjust their position in response to an attackers movement or faint, or the ability to an attacker to adjust to incoming defenders. This in the initial stages comes down to reaction time, and secondly builds on point 3, efficiency and body position. Combining any sort of ‘agility’ drill, ladder work, or just about any game or drill with a reaction component will continue to build the players ability to ‘multi-task’ or react to a changing situation. This is a learned skill, and it takes practice, so practice. It can be as simple as jogging on the spot and someone saying left or right and you having to move that direction.

5. PRACTICE.

Run faster more often. Seems pretty straight forward. Running fast is a skill in a lot of respects, so you need to practice doing just that. Short sprints, overspeed training, flying sprints and sharp drills involving reaction and change of direction are all going to help you run ‘faster’. Make it a race and you will get the result you want.

Conclusion

Hopefully you made it all the way through and you realise things are simple but complex at the same time. By now, hopefully you know what you want to be specifically, not just ‘faster’ and have an understanding behind the why and how.

The what to do can be highly variable depending on who you talk to, but from my perspective, if you tick off each of these 5 points, you’re not only going to be ‘faster’, but chances are you are going to be a significantly better athlete. It sure helped me, and I know it can help you. Seek out quality professionals who know what they are talking about.

How my brain convinces me to eat crap, even when I know I shouldn't

Very real post from one of our clients about his 'battle' against rubbish food. This guy is an inspiration to us and his family and just PB'd his squat by 20% and doubled his pull-ups in 4 weeks. 

As a guy who is always a little softer around the middle than your standard spartan warrior, I have eaten a lot of crap in my day. And this is despite learning plenty about nutrition. ie. I completely understand that kale is good and snickers are bad.

 I am very qualified to write this.

But if you’re anything like me, even though I know what to eat, my brain seems to be able to come up with a hundred excuses to ignore my better judgement. It’s like an internal argument between my inner fight-club-era-ripped-to-shreds-brad-pitt and my very persuasive ordinary fat self.
 
Here are the 7 top excuses I tell myself to justify eating crap that I shouldn’t, and what my inner Brad Pitt (ie my better judgement) has to say about it. Your top 7 might be completely different, but try being mindful of the recurring situations when you go sideways on your nutrition and I bet there’s some consistent patterns. 
Here are mine.
 

1.       I’m on a bulking phase. I’ll cut later. 
Brad: Yeah good one champ. How many times has that worked for you. That’s right ZERO.
 
2.       But this is my favorite / very rare food! 
Brad: Newsflash Dean. This is not your only lifetime opportunity to eat a snickers. You’re an adult living in a 1st world country. Tomorrow you can buy 10 buckets of KFC zinger pieces, dip them in butter chicken sauce and eat them in one 24 hour Walking Dead binge-watching session if you want to.
 
Whatever it is, today is not your only opportunity to eat it.
 
3.      But I need protein. 
Brad: Yeah, a piece of chicken breast as big as your palm champ. Not a full rack of sweet chilli lamb ribs with chips.
 
4.       But this is a special occasion! 
Brad: Sure, have a piece of cake on your birthday. But is every single time a friend, family member, colleague or neighbor has a birthday (ie. about twice a week) special enough for a slab of cheesecake?
 
5.       But I’m obliged to eat this. 
Brad: You’re not Matt Preston. Nobody else actually cares what you eat Dean.
 
If your 87 year old Grandma flies over from Bulgaria and spends 9 hours in the kitchen cooking up the most amazing chocolate brownie recipe that was passed on to her from your great-grandmother . . . then sure, your obliged.
 
If Joe from accounting who you don’t even like gets shitty, cheap doughnuts for the office on a Tuesday afternoon . . . not obliged. Comprehende?

 
6.       But I can’t waste it!
Brad: Once you’ve selected, paid for, carried home and cooked food that you don’t actually need . . . you’ve already wasted it. Using that wasted food to then make yourself fat doesn’t make it better.
And despite what your parents told you when you were four . . . eating all of the shepherds pie on your plate doesn’t help any starving children anywhere. 

7.       But it’s gluten free / dairy free / sugar free / high protein / raw-food / an ancient superfood! 
Brad: Shut up. Just. Shut. Up.

What I learnt too late about becoming an athlete.

What I learnt too late about becoming an athlete.

This is my story about how a skinny, weak football player became a strong, confident athlete.

I have never been a big guy and certainly was not when I was younger. But when I made my first grade debut at the age of 17 for Weston in the NPL,  the physicality of playing as a centre back against powerful strikers was a huge hurdle. Through the early years I managed, but I was also lucky to be in a young developing team. These days most young guys aren’t that lucky with the new format of the competition. At the age of 22-23 I finally started to find a niche, and was selected in a couple of representative teams.

When I was young I was told you need to be faster, stronger and fitter, but no one showed me what I had to do to improve. Many people meant well and were quick to give their opinion, but when it came down to it, they had no idea how to help. In my experience, this is an issue with football in Newcastle. I mean no disrespect, but there are not enough people involved in Newcastle football that can actually help a player get to the next level.

I always used the off-season to hit the gym and try to add some muscle, but if I’m honest, the programs I got from personal trainers were rubbish for an athlete. I really had no idea what I was doing and effectively wasted the better part of 10 years.

When I finally started to follow a structured program and eating right at 28, everything improved. I was significantly stronger, faster and way more confident. When I started playing football again at 29, I could not believe how good I felt. I went from being middle of the pack in sprints to the front and I was smashing beep tests with less cardio training than during my peak fitness.

I was never the guy to make big tackles or physically dominate other players, but now I was so much stronger in challenges and dominating on the field. But it was all too late. 

It is really now upon reflection, that had I followed a quality programme for 2 years when I was 16, I would have been where I was physically at 23 when I would have been 18, and would have been physically where I was at 30 when I was 21.

What does that mean? Well, if I was training properly, and selected in a representative team when I was 19, maybe someone could have seen my potential to give me an opportunity in Sydney or the A-League. And maybe instead of now thinking about what could have been, I would finish a professional football career and spent 10 years doing what I dreamt of as a young kid.

Don’t mistake this as me regretting anything I have done because I love my life. It is however a note to any young aspiring players out there, that if you really want to be a professional, you have to find high quality mentors. People who both want to truly help you reach your potential and actually know what they are talking about to make that happen.

Don’t think you know better. Don’t think it will just happen in time. Don’t think it just takes more road runs, or juggles. And definitely don’t think it takes running yourself into the ground. It is about training smarter and using the tools you have to get to where you want to be.

CA17 is a fantastic off-season athlete development program developed by a footballer, for footballers. With CA17, you can be part of an elite squad of quality athletes all working towards a goal of becoming the athlete you want to be. What you have done up until now has gotten you to where you are, but I guarantee it won’t take you to the next level, or the level after that. Take things into your own hands. Seek support from those who can actually help. If you are serious about taking your performance and athletic development to the next level, click on this link to register for CA17: http://www.cornerstonenewcastle.com.au/ca17

Be more than average - The Cornerstone Journey

Be more than average - The Cornerstone Journey

Some of you know how we came to our facility in Adamstown. Back in 2012, Sam and I were working in very different industries. I had a career as a Geotechnical Engineer and Sam worked in the hospitality industry in Newcastle. Sam moved to Alice Springs to work for Crowne Plaza and we eventually joined up in Perth. My life at the time revolved around soccer, work and not much else. Sam was working as a Night Manager at a hotel, and led an unhealthy lifestyle. Soon, Sam made a decision to overhaul her lifestyle and found the Crossfit box. I couldn’t let Sam have all the fun, so I joined the Crossfit box as well! We were both loving our new healthy lifestyles, and were hooked.

Sam started coaching at a local Crossfit box, and eventually started personal training, teaching Crossfit boot camps in Perth. I started training clients as well while maintaining my career as an engineer. Ultimately, we had well paid jobs and a comfortable life. But we wanted more. We wanted to live lives that we were proud of, to make a positive impact. When we have kids one day, we don’t want to look them in the eyes and tell them to follow their dreams when we didn’t try to do the same.

We were in Vietnam on holiday when we heard of a friend who was selling up his gym in Newcastle. Sam and I made the huge decision to pursue our dreams, by taking the leap to move back home to Newcastle, to be closer to our families and open our first gym.

In January 2016, we opened Cornerstone in our first facility in Adamstown.  Our belief is that health is more than exercise or nutrition. Cornerstone combines small group, one on one strength and conditioning, functional movement training sessions with quality nutrition, and mindset coaching. With this unique offering and varied programming, we were able to improve our clients’ health and athletic performance.

 
 

It wasn’t long until we had to expand and move to a facility that fits with our long term vision for Cornerstone. The move has been a long and gradual one. Over several months, we worked tirelessly to bring our new and improved  600m2 indoor outdoor training space. This space is expertly set up with high quality equipment to cater to our clients, from individuals to professional sports teams. The custom facility and its exciting outdoor gymnasium caters to our workouts and gives our clients the option to train outdoors or escape the weather indoors. It’s the best of both worlds.  There is no other facility in Australia offering this type of space and level of service.

We have had so much help from our clients, friends and family to get the facility ready for the Grand Opening. Here are some photos to show you the blank canvas we had to work with and our latest photo, taken two weeks ago! It is amazing to see the changes.

The past 18 months have been filled with hard work, but we have been so fortunate to have amazing clients who have been on the journey with us. There have been some incredible moments, seeing clients that have totally changed their lives while training with us, clients that come week after week to slog it out to build strong and healthy bodies, and clients that have learned to change their negative mindset to a positive one.  We have had shy clients who come in with low confidence, and with regular training and encouragement found the confidence to pursue their dreams, quitting their unhappy jobs to find careers that they totally love. We are so inspired by our clients, and hope we can help guide you towards your goals of health and happiness.

4 Pics overview.jpg

We want to thank our clients for believing in us and our vision. We would not opening a new facility without the support of our clients, family and friends. We want to make sure that we keep inspiring you and pushing the boundaries. We will continue to learn and develop new techniques on our intensives, and bring them back to Cornerstone!

Don’t be content with being average. Be inspired to make a change. We are living proof that if you want to be happy, you have to take action and make changes in your life to become the best you can be.

 

With healthy regards,

Mick & Sam

To change your body, you must first change your mind

This might be a tough pill to swallow, despite the fact this cycle is almost the norm in our society, but we repeat, Diets don’t work! It’s a bandaid, a quick fix to a deeper problem that lies within our mental and emotional state. You’re looking in all the wrong places. It’s not until you can look in the mirror and see yourself for WHO you truly are, WHY you do the things you do, and WHAT you truly desire, will you CHANGE your life.

So what’s the fix? What do I need to do to get what I want?

Awareness and tending to our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual gardens.

We would love to tell you there’s an easy fix, but research has showed the most important factor influencing any type of success, whether that be weight loss success, nutrition, family, work, life, is your attitude (what you think), discipline and commitment. Whatever you think about all the time, you will attract in life; You will never develop anything of any consequence if you are not disciplined; and commitment means being bound or having an obligation to something, no one ever became successful by accident or without committing to it. 

What we try to do is help our clients shift their focus.

1. Focus on the why.

Why, Purpose and Commitment – because quite frankly, without a purpose, direction, understanding why this is important to you and a commitment to yourself and those around you to achieve that, then are you living intentionally or by accident? Are you living fully, or just existing? Are you working on your life or just in it? Are you satisfied? Are you happy? And more importantly, what sort of role model are you being for your children and what legacy do you want to leave? Not until you recognise what’s at the core of your actions will you be able to move forward.

2. Changing habits

Habits are like skills, once you have them, you don’t lose them. Habits are formed from repetitive actions, and cannot be undone. Only by creating new habits to replace old ones will the old habits be ‘forgotten’.

Unfortunately this take time. A minimum of between 25-30 days is the general consensus, but its also proportional for how long the habit has been ingrained and the commitment to resist old habits. One of the most important habits is a strong morning routine. We hear you say “I’m not a morning person”.. This is the most overused BS. If the most successful people in the world can do it and note this as one of the keys to their success, you also have the capability, you aren’t special.

3. Positive self talk

You are the sum total of your thoughts which become cemented in your subconscious mind. We had read this a lot before and always thought it was a little woo-woo. But it was not until it was explained to us how the brain actually processes information did we understand how affirmations, positive self talk etc can help transform your ideal to your reality. Whether or not you believe in your sub-conscious mind that you can make the changes you need to make is critical. Similarly, negative thoughts and worlds do nothing but fuel a negative subconscious and mindset. You are strong enough, you are worthy, you are in exactly the right place from which to launch into the person you want to be.

Keep an eye out for negative messages or thoughts, understand where they are coming from, and then turn it around by creating a positive or constructive version of events. If you don’t believe you can, you never will.

4. Food is information

Your body and mind need good information. You also can think about food a fuel or medicine because if you aren’t feeding your body good food, then you can’t expect your mind and body to do the things you want it to do. You wouldn’t expect a car to run on orange juice, so why would you do it to your body?

Asking yourself do you really want to eat what’s in front of you becomes a prompt to make a conscious choice, and if you have worked through 1 and 2 above, your subconscious will do the work for you. At the end of the day, for most people nutrition is around 70% of the cause and solution to weight loss, so it requires the appropriate amount of attention.

5. Community

Social isolation is proven to be one of the highest causes of death around the world. How often do you hear of a person passing away when their spouse passes? It has also been shown in the longest running study in the world’s history that the happiest people were not the richest, not the fittest, not the smartest, but the people who are the best connected with their family, friends and community. We think this is pretty important.

Surround yourself with amazing humans who support your journey but also challenge you. Who can you rely on? Who supports you, who’s a detractor and who doesn’t share the same vision/values? You ARE a reflection of the people you hang around the most. Surround yourself with people who have what you want and build a great ‘team’ around you full of strong relationships.

These are just 5 aspects of our lives to help improve our health and reach our actual goals. Humans are complex creatures, and these show why simple diets don’t work. Make your own wellbeing and health your first and highest priority. When you feel great, you’ll be great too.

6. Moving

Movement is life. It’s like standing vs stagnant water. The body and the mind and interconnected and feed each other. Improving your mental health will improve your physical, and vice versa. The only way to improve your physical condition is to move. Go for a walk, play with the kids or if you are sitting in an office chair, slumped at your desk most of the week, why not try some exercises and stretches that can be done at your desk, help improve your posture, reduce back pain and give you an energy boost. Move for 5min every 25min if you are sedentary and continually if you have the opportunity.  

With all of these combined, you can be sure you are ticking some of the boxes to realising the body and mind you desire.

Being healthy and feeling great is the goal, but what about that stubborn fat?

Being healthy and feeling great is the goal, but what about that stubborn fat?

When we ask people what their goals are, it's great to see more and more people, particularly women just saying I want to be healthy and happy. Unfortunately, for a lot of people, that happiness is strongly tied to their weight/body shape. And that's totally understandable. It really shouldn't be your entire world, but like many other things in all of our lives, it can be something we want to work on. 

At the end of the day, our bodies actually WANT to store fat. It's ingrained in our DNA to store fat for the times when food would not be as plentiful as it is these days. The research is also out there, it is harder for women to lose fat in the belly area than men due to metabolic differences. 

Now just because our body wants to store it, and it can be hard to lose, doesn't mean we shouldn't try, and there are a few key actions that can help speed up the process. 

1. Cut out as much sugar and processed rubbish as possible, particularly those unhealthy carbs.

Carbs are not the devil. They are very important. After all vegetables are carbohydrates. But eliminating those refined simple carbohydrates will make the world of difference to not only reducing fat, but also just feeling good. What it does is restores your insulin sensitivity, meaning it will start using other sources (protein and fat) to fuel your body.

If heavily restricting carbs, your body can actually enter whats called Ketosis, where your body uses fat for fuel. There are some really big benefits to being in Ketosis, but it isn't for everyone. Research is very promising though. 

TIP: It isn't rocket science, eliminate the sugar and process foods, and eat more complex carbohydrates such as vegetables, beans, some grains and a bit of fruit. Try to incorporate as much plant based foods as possible. These are often have a very low calorie content, will fill you up and provide lots of amazing nutrients your body needs. 

 

2. SLEEP

This is an absolute given, but is so widely neglected it's scary. Sleep is one thing that can improve your life dramatically. Now apparently none of us have enough time for sleep, but we would ask you, where does it sit on your priority list? 

There is a strong association between lack of sleep and fat, particularly belly fat. Similar to stress, it causes elevated levels of cortisol, which as stated above, can contribute significantly to how much fat your body stores. 

Studies have shown we all, with the exception of a minuscule number of people, need at least 7-8hrs of sleep. YOU ARE NOT DIFFERENT. 

TIP: Set evening alarms to ensure you set a routine to wind down and create a strong morning routine. Avoid technology before bed and prioritise your sleep. It most likely will add years to your life, and they will definitely be happier. 

 

3. Doing intervals, particularly sprints (row/bike/run/skip etc). 

Because of the intensity, your body actually releases growth hormones which are at the core of the problem. These are the main fat burning compounds and help burn fat stores not only during the exercise period, but also for hours after your workouts. 

TIP: Doing 15-20min of HARD sprints will hurt A LOT, but the benefits of this compared to spending an hour running or cycling are huge. We work with work:rest intervals of 1:3-5 for beginners, and as you are able to cope with more, this can be reduced down to 1:1 or even less depending on the goal of the session. 

 

4. Eat Antioxidant-Rich Foods and improve Vitamin intake

Eating antioxidant rich fruit and vegetables make your cells more insulin sensitive, but it also lowers your blood sugar response when you do eat those higher carb foods. For instance adding blueberries to oatmeal will help your body digest the carbs in the oatmeal more slowly, therefore not spiking your insulin wildly, all while your body continues to spend its time burning fat, not to mention feeling more full for longer.

Some other very important benefits include less inflammation as well ashealthier skin and eyesight. 

This type of foods are generally the most colourful. The more colour the better. The more processed a food is (if you can call them that) the less nutritional benefit it will have. Stick to the leafy greens and dark-coloured vegetables such as blueberries, plums, beets, capsicum, eggplant (we have an amazing recipe for this) and cabbage. 

TIP: Your plate should be an array of colour in as many meals as possible. Vegetable aren't just for dinner.  

 

5. Eat quality protein. 

Meat and animal products aren't bad as many people like to tell you. Should you eat large quantities of them. Definitely not. In fact there is a lot of research out there telling us the less the better, and that most of our protein should come from plant based foods such as seafood, beans, lentils and eggs

Essential amino acids are a key indicator in determining high-quality protein. It is defined as containing a “threshold” amount of 10 grams of essential amino acids. It also reduces hunger allowing you to eat less and preserve the lean muscle mass to help you sustain your metabolic rate. 

TIP: We recommend between 1.4-1.8g/kg of protein per day depending on your goals. This may vary but its a good place to start. 

 

6. Reduce or eliminate alcohol and other drinks high in sugar (sports drinks, soft drinks, fruit juices)

The research around this is overwhelming. People who drinks this stuff have significantly more belly fat. One of the reasons, apart from the obvious, is that the brain doesn't register the liquids (or other foods which are easy to eat) as well as solid food you have to chew. It’s easier to consume 1L of milk than a liter of Greek yogurt.

Although many still think fruit drinks are healthy, they also contain a high amount of fructose (why eating lots a fruit is also not a great idea) which can only be metabolized by the liver. This can then overload the liver, leaving 'energy' to be stored as fat in the abdominal area. 

Alcohol is toxic to the body and is prioritised for processing and excretion compared to protein and fat. Your body will therefore try to store any other nutrients during this time as fat. Alcohol is also proven to impair muscle strength and power, decreasing your training intensity and overall ability to build lean muscle mass. 

Alcohol dehydrates the body, increasing the recovery time and risk of injury and directly lowers your metabolic rate, which is the opposite of what we want.

TIP: Reduce or eliminate if you are serious about getting the best results. 

 

7. Incorporate weight training

Many people, particularly women, still have a fear that doing weights will make you big and bulky. If you lift heavy weights just about every day for few years, and eat to gain weight like its your job, you might get there. MIGHT. If you work with a quality coach, you will increase your lean muscle mass, which will keep your resting metabolic rate high and burning more fat. Fat also produces inflammation which degrade muscle, so its important to continue to work on it. 

Movement is key, but the main priority should be to perform as many multi-joint functional movements with resistance as possible to activate larger muscle groups. The more often you can perform a full body strength session the better, but training the lower body will give you the most bang for your buck due to the size of the muscles. The bigger the muscle group the more energy required to fuel the exercise and repair of the muscle after training and therefore the more calories burned. 

One thing to note, when you start strength training, don't follow the scales. Muscle weighs a lot more than fat, so if you even put on a little bit of muscle, this can equalise fat losses on the scales. Look more to measurements or body fat %. 

TIP: Try to lift heavy at least once a week, and incorporate other resistance training a least one other day. This should focus on multi-joint movements (ie squats). You also need to find a good coach to ensure your technique is solid to reduce risk of injury and accelerate your improvements. 

 

8. Don't stress. Breath. 

Stress plays a huge role in our lives and is something we help our clients with a lot. Anxiety about anything, in particular your body, or how many calories you've eaten today can increase the level of cortisol which tells the body to store fat around your organs so they can easily source it for fuel in times of stress.

If you eat something you shouldn’t, just own it and be better tomorrow. Exercise has an amazing de-stressing effect with lots more added benefits. It's the most under-prescribed medicine in the world for both physical and mental health. We aren't sure why because it burns calories while lowering stress.

Although we don't want you to obsess over it, if you are serious about getting results and becoming the person you want to be, this requires you to make strong decisions about who you are, how you spend your time and what you put in your mouth. Its about consistency and accountability, showing up each day willing to be better than you were yesterday, and then putting things in place to ensure your success. 

TIP: Be accountable, stress less, breath and exercise. The last 2 definitely go hand in hand, but taking time to breath can be hugely beneficial. Breathing is one of the body’s best ways to remove toxins. Nose breathing in particular is connected to the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system which is responsible for slowing the heart rate, calming the body, and helps it relax.  

6 proven things stressed and time poor beer drinkers aren't doing to feel better.

We get it, you don't have much time for yourself; you're stressed about work, family, and not having enough time to do either let along both; and you aren't in the shape you want (or actually need) to be in to operate at 100% so you really aren't living your life, you're just existing. Here's out top 6 ways to get the mind and body you NEED to fulfill whats missing in your life, all while dropping the kgs and enjoying a beer.  

1.       Strength training – movement is key, but the main priority should be to perform as many multi-joint functional movements with resistance as possible to activate larger muscle groups. The bigger the muscle group the more energy required to fuel the exercise and repair of the muscle after training and therefore the more calories burned. In addition, the more muscle mass we have, the more calories we continue to burn throughout the day, so we need to add lean muscle mass through strength training.

2.       Interval/Sprint Training – although running or riding for long distances does burn a lot of calories, its inefficient and you’re a person with limited time (probably a few injuries from years of pounding the pavement). Activities such as intervals, sprints, or other short bouts of high intensity work can burn the same if not more calories over a much shorter period of time.

3.       Move – Take a few options which keep you moving. Go for a walk at lunch rather than eat at your desk, take the stairs rather than the lift, walk the dog, play with the kids rather than watch, and have some fun moving on the weekends like playing wall tennis.

4.       Eat better foods including more healthy fat – Quite frankly, you know generally what’s rubbish and what’s good for you. There's some finer details like eating more protein and fat, and less processed carbs, but we also like to keep it simple. If its packaged, how many ingredients do you recognise and what’s added? What’s the sugar content? Added sugar; you may as well throw it in the bin. Is it colourful? More colourful foods are generally better for you – ie White is generally highly processed so nutrients are stripped out. Eat more veggies, particularly the green ones. You have a fair idea about what to eat, so form some better habits to stop eating so much rubbish.

Fat has been given a bad wrap for years, but the tide has turned. Fatty acids like Omega 3 are essential as your body can't make them, so these need to be included in our diet. Fish, avocado, nuts, seeds and coconut or olive oil are great sources of good fat and play a huge role in maintaining our metabolism which reduces our cravings.

5.       Don’t stress – Stress plays a huge role in our lives and is something we help our clients with a lot. Don’t stress if you eat something you shouldn’t, just own it and be better tomorrow. Although beer is a depressant, and we would encourage you to avoid it as might as possible, in moderation, it can be helpful to de-stress. Exercise has a very similar de-stressing effect with lots more added benefits, but sometimes a beer just hits the spot. Just don’t make it 10.

6.       Preparation - You're probably an organised person at work, so why not in taking care of your own health? This includes having a morning routine and eating breakfast. Wake up at the same time, drink a glass of water, splash cold water on your face, exercise to earn that morning shower (only has to be 10 min), do some personal development (ie 10 min reading a book), eat breakfast and listen to your favorite 3 songs. The first ritual you do during the day is the most powerful ritual by far. It sets your mind, body and the context for the rest of you day. 

At the end of the day, a house must be built on strong foundations and so should the body. Without them, it’s only a matter of time before cracks appear.