How Not to be the Douchebag Gym Guy

Been going to the gym, or thinking about going, and unsure how to avoid being a douchebag? This is the post for you. Here are simple rules that will prevent you from becoming the type of person that discourages other people from going to the gym.

gym-douche-bags

Don’t take your top off or lift your shirt up.

 Nothing says douchebag quite like taking of your shirt or lifting it up to see that ‘sick, ripped body, bro’. Seriously, I get that people will do weights to look better – or to even compete in a bodybuilding show, but do that at home or even in the change rooms. No one on the gym floor needs to put up with you trying to build up your ego.

 

Don’t leave your weights when you’re done.

 Nothing is more irritating for other gym users, or gym staff, than people leaving their weights around after they finish. If you seriously can’t re-rack them – then you probably should have done one less set so you had the energy (or you could ask someone to help you). It’s a trip hazard, prevents beginners from using equipment, and is just selfish.

 

Don’t drop your weights or throw them.

 I get that heavy weights will make a loud sound when they are put down. That’s normal. But what isn’t normal is just letting them go from a height. It’s just another way for you to get attention that no one wants to give you. It distracts them from their workout, and it ruins the equipment.

 

Talk/Brag to people who don’t care.

 It’s always good from a gym to have a bit of a community – encouraging and supporting each other, helping out with advice, providing a spot, etc. But no one likes someone who just talks to them when they are trying to workout, especially if it’s to brag about how much they lift, who they picked up over the weekend, or what time their bowel movement was. If you can’t tell when it is appropriate to talk to someone (or what about), get out once and a while and learn some social skills.

 

Don’t neglect Hygiene.

 If I can smell you from 5 metres away. You need to shower or have deodorant. If I use equipment after you and need something to swim in, please use a towel and wipe it down. This shouldn’t need to be said, but this problem exists way too much.

 

Realise Dom from BroScienceLife is Parody – Not an Idol.

He’s hilarious – but it’s really making fun of douchebags.

 

Conclusion.

 In summary, just don’t be a self absorbed, egotistical, twat – and you’ll be fine.

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6 Rules to Healthy Living

  1. Eat until you’re satisfied, not until you’re full.

Coming from an Italian family, I know this is much more difficult than said. Eating until your satisfied will ensure you feel better throughout the day, and have a nice constant amount of energy.

  1. Drink lots of water.

Water is the coolant and the oil to the engine that is your body. Every function in your body will function at its most efficient. It will also reduce the feelings as hunger by reducing dehydration (the body will make you feel hungry when dehydrated to get water from food).

  1. Move more (It’s the little things that add up)

Get out and about. If you don’t find time, it’s the small changes that you can make that will help you move more without actually thinking about it. Walk to work if you’re only a couple of kilometres away. Park at the far end of the car park. Take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator. These little things add up.

  1. Find the Healthy Alternative

We all have foods that are our guilty pleasure and indulgence. Chocolate, chicken parmagiana, pizza, pasta, etc. The good news is most foods will have a healthier alternative. Chocolate has dark chocolate with many healthy alternatives. Pizza if homemade can be healthy (wholemeal base, fresh tomato, spinach, veggies, and feta, etc.). There are lower calorie pasta alternatives available. Do a bit of research and make these small changes and they will add up.

  1. Don’t Punish Yourself

We all fail. We won’t move as much as we should. We will over eat or eat poorly. It happens. Rather than punishing yourself (and starving yourself or running yourself flat), just get back into the routine. Just like one day of healthy eating and exercise won’t change much, one day of bad behaviours won’t change much.

  1. Relax/Sleep

We need time to relax our body and our minds. Get enough sleep. Meditate. Just find your way to unwind, relaxing your mind and body. This is essential to your well being.

 

Why Fitness Testing is Important

Fitness testing is a useful tool to monitor your progress over a period of time. Just like weighing yourself, checking blood pressure, and getting regular blood test, fitness testing can give you insight into key health areas.

What is Fitness Testing?

Fitness testing involves completing a number of activities that are used to test different areas of your physical fitness, including cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, muscular strength, power, flexibility, speed, and agility. These exercises should be completed regularly (8-12 weeks is a good guide) in order to monitor progress and improvement in these areas.

Why is it helpful?

By monitoring your results in the fitness tests, it allows you or your trainer to track your improvements and analyse whether your program is effective. For example if your results demonstrate vast improvement in cardiovascular endurance but little to now improvement in muscular strength, the program should be adapted to include more resistance training.

It can also have a strong psychological benefit. It can be disheartening when you are training as hard as you can but you aren’t seeing the numbers drop on the scale. This disappointment can be negated or minimised if your fitness testing results are improving, showing that your overall health is actually improving.

What are examples of fitness tests?

There are number of different tests for the different areas of testing. Below I have listed the fitness tests completed by the Mozfit Fitness Testing sessions.

Cardiovascular Endurance – The Beep Test or Multi Stage Fitness Test

This is a classic (and sometimes dreaded) activity that involves a 20m shuttle run at the sound of the beep that slowly increases in speed. You miss two beeps in a row, you’re finished and the level is recorded (Ranges from 1.1 up to 21.16). To give you an idea, the speed of level 1.1 is 8.5km/h, and the speed at level 21.16 is 18.5km/h.

Flexibility – Sit & Reach

This activity is used to measure the flexibility of the hamstrings. It involves sitting down with the legs straight and feet fixed against a box. The subject is then to reach forward as far as they can go and the measure from the end of their feet measured. If they do not reach their toes, it will be recorded as a minus score (i.e. -4cm). If they reach beyond their toes, it will be measured as a positive score (i.e. 4cm). Depending on the tester, the subject may be given a number of attempts – at Mozfit we give you 3 attempts.

Muscular Endurance – Push Ups in One Minute

This activity is simple – you are given one minute to complete as many full push ups as you can in one minute. The number of push ups your complete is recorded and used to be compared at a later date.

Muscular Strength/Power – Standing Long Jump

This involved jumping as far as you can with both feet in a standing start. This is to measure the strength and power generated by your legs. The distance from the starting point to the rear of the heels is measured and recorded. This test can be supplemented with the standing vertical jump, which measures the height of a jump rather than length.

Speed – 40m Sprint

Nice and simple, the subject runs 40m from a standing start as fast as they can, and the time is recorded.

Mozfit conducts Fitness Testing the first Saturday of every second month starting (and including) January at Bicentennial Park in Glebe, NSW.

Book your place by contacting Mozfit.

Why You Shouldn’t Pay For A Gym Program

Recently, I have written up a couple of weight training programs for a few personal friends of mine. As usual, they offered to pay for this – which I refused. The reasoning may seem a little odd for someone trained to develop programs and train people.

The reason: You should never pay money for a program.

It seems a little odd, especially since a lot of gyms advertised how this will be a special saving you will make when you join – but the truth is, there is little value outside of time spent writing up the program that you should be paying for. Below, I will explain this stance and give you the circumstances of when there is value in paying for ‘Online Personal training’.

Programming is Relatively Simple

Despite looking quite complex, the reality is that virtually all programs are relatively simple. They are all based on principle of increasing the volume (amount of weight or number of reps) gradually over time to effect physical adaptation, as well as regularly perform cardiovascular exercise for heart health and increase over caloric deficit. You will not get anything special or dramatically different if you pay for the program with the exception of minor changes (depending on what they offer).

Programs Available for Free Online

There a plenty of effective programs available online suiting every goal including hypertrophy (muscle building) routines, to fat loss, and strength gains. You can find them in on major sites or forums for free, and many will be more effective than those you will pay for. Key strength and hypertrophy training programs include 5×5, Stronglifts, and Starting Strength.

It is Not Time Consuming

It does not take a ridiculous amount of time to develop a program for a client and is potentially the easiest part of a trainer’s role. The value of the trainer is not their program, but their ability to adapt for your learning/training style, knowledge of the philosophies, and rapport.

How About Online Personal Training?

There is value in Online Personal Training, but I believe that a lot of providers are overselling the value and the pricing is ridiculous. The value in Online Personal Training is not the program that is developed for you (which will be more personalised than one you will find online – but not significantly different), but rather the support that is offered to you during the time when you are using it.

Are they available to address any concerns in a timely manner? Are they providing information that will help you during your session? Do they go through the program with you personally to explain any issues? Are they monitoring your progress on a weekly or regular basis? These are the key questions of value when considering an Online PT.

Summary

Don’t pay for just a program. You can save your money and use it buying better food whilst you use a training program for free online. Online Personal Training can be pricey (sometimes too much so) but can provide an affordable alternative than seeing a personal trainer regularly. The value is in the support they provide you rather than the program supplied.

If you would like to discuss training, having a program developed, or even online training, feel free to contact me at mozfitaus@gmail.com.

Are Artificial Sweeteners Good For You?

soft drink soda diet artificial sweetener

This is potentially one of the more controversial areas of nutrition with strong debating existing within the health and fitness community. Are artificial sweeteners good for you? Well, in summary. They aren’t really ‘good’ for you, but they aren’t bad for you either. Let’s look at some of the key issues and arguments made.

The Cancer Link

Any search online on this question you are undoubtedly able to find a news story about a study linking artificial sweeteners to Cancer. This is true – there are studies. But the actual issues we learn from these studies are misrepresented and exaggerated.

Firstly, most of the studies you will find tend to be animal studies. This is not to disregard all animal studies, because they do provide us some key information, but you cannot make absolute statements about the effect on humans from these studies.

Secondly, the amount of sweeteners used in these studies far exceeds what any person would actually consume. It would be the equivalent of consuming upwards of 10 times the recommended daily intake. Of course you consume 10 times the recommended amount of Vitamin A you’re likely to have some health issues – but you wouldn’t exclaim vitamin A is dangerous or bad for you.

Finally, most of the cancer link studies focus on Aspartme. A sweetener that is rarely used by any food or beverage production company anymore, and thus results of these studies should not be applied to all sweeteners.

Doesn’t it induce an Insulin response?

No. The assumption that suggests the body physiologically the same as when sugar is consumed (excreting insulin) is just plain wrong. If it were the case, insulin would be working to reduce your blood sugar levels below its normal levels and you would experience hypoglycaemia and potentially lose consciousness.

Effect on Hunger and Cravings

An argument used against artificial sweeteners is that it actually will increase your body’s cravings for sweets and make you feel hungry. The research is quite mixed, with most heavily controlled studies demonstrating that artificial sweeteners do not induce an increase in hunger or cravings, or does not fail to satisfy cravings anymore than regular sugars.

The takeaway message

The fear mongering about artificial sweeteners are based on false assumptions and exaggerations of research findings. I would recommend avoiding soft drinks, altogether, but I would definitely recommend diet soft drinks over their regular sugar counterparts. Controlled studies have shown that replacing regular soft drinks with their diet counterparts has resulted in weight loss – simply because there are less calories.

If you can avoid soft drinks altogether, do it. If not, have the diet/sugar free varieties.

Do You Need to Supplement BCAAs?

The simple answer is the same as any other supplement – No. You do not NEED any supplement unless there is an identified gap within your diet. That being said, it is quite unlikely that you would be lacking in BCAAs with a need to supplement them.

BCAA Supplements

Image Source: evitamins.com

What are BCAAs?

Branched Chain Amino Acids are three essential amino acids that are used in the body for various functions. These amino acids and their primary functions are:

  • Leucine – Induces muscle protein synthesis.
  • Isoleucine – Promotes glucose uptake and the usage of glucose during exercise (but not glycogen synthesis)
  • Valine – A mediatory between leucine and isoleucine with very little evidence of effective benefits.

Because of the reported induction of muscle protein synthesis, it is popular amongst resistance trainers, athletes, and bodybuilders as a way to help build muscle.

So what’s the problem?

The issue is that there is very little evidence for their effectiveness except for two groups – those with protein deficient diets, or elderly with reduced capability of protein synthesis.

The reason it isn’t effective for the average person is because these three amino acids are readily available in the vast amount of protein sources – whether through regular food or supplements. Given the vast majority of people get efficient protein through food – and most trainers are well equipped with a protein supplement – BCAA supplements are an additional cost that provide little to no benefit.

What circumstances could a BCAA supplement be useful?

Aside from the two groups listed previously (protein deficiency and elderly with less efficient protein synthesis functions), there are two circumstances where supplementing BCAA could be useful.

  1. Fasted Training

The evidence for fasted training as a way to be more efficient in body fat loss is pretty much nil, and most recent research tends to suggest it could actually be less efficient than training after a meal – but that’s a separate issue.

The BCAAs would be effective prior to fasted training due to its protein synthesis and glucose uptake functions being a great way to prevent any muscle breakdown that could occur during training. You would remain in a fasted state as most BCAAs contain 10 Calories or less. So if you are following intermittent fasting, this would be useful for you.

  1. Extended Training

We know that pre-workout meals are generally more important than post-workout in terms of providing energy for the workout as well as taking advantage of post-workout protein synthesis. This is because the protein consumed will tend to be available for the body an hour or two after consumption.

There is a potential issue if you were to train for 2 hours or more, or if you are competing in a long distance marathon, etc. For this reason, BCAA Supplementation could be useful during the workout to ensure muscles are protect from breakdown similarly to the fasted training scenario. For this reason, many BCAAs are marketed as ‘intra-workout’ supplements – i.e. Scivation’s Extend.

Showing Impossible is Possible – For Everyone!

Sometimes when we set ourselves a goal, we feel like it is an impossible task that cannot be achieved. For those who have a lot of weight to lose, this can seem like all the odds are stacked against you – but they are really not.Simone Pretscherer weight loss goals weightloss

The story of Simone Pretscherer, an Auckland native who lost half of her body weight in a year, seems like the kind of story you read in biographies – you know the ones that detail ‘it’s all hard work’ and ‘your dreams come true, you just need to want it’. But it really isn’t – but I didn’t realise this until I saw her interviewed on Sunrise (a morning breakfast show in Australia for international readers).

On the surface, her weight loss from 169kg to 83.5kg seems like a dream or that she had discovered ‘the secret of weightloss’. However, I was so happy to see when she was asked how she achieved it, she didn’t just say ‘hard work’. Rather she pointed to the importance of setting a series of small goals, rather than one large goal. On top of that, she would set rewards for her reaching those small goals. These include pre-purchasing a pair of pants a smaller size (to wear when she met her goal) or to go skydiving when she reached the 100kg mark.

The big impossible goals look like that at the start of the journey, and any improvement we make can look insignificant to the overall goal. Think about it. If your goal is to lose 40kg, losing 2kg doesn’t seem like that significant of a step. However, if you’ve set yourself smaller goals of every 5kg to 40kg, you’ve made a significant step to your first goal.

Whatever your goals – break it down into a series of smaller goals and reward yourself for reaching those goals along the way. This will maintain your motivation, keep you positive, and allow you to reach your long-term goal. How do I know? I did it with my own 40kg loss. I remember placing importance on getting under 100kg, and then under 90kg – and reaching those goals just made me want to keep going.

I want to thank Simone Pretscherer for reminding us all that what appears to be impossible is actually possible for everyone to achieve. Even as someone who has experienced it, I need the reminder when working towards goals in a different area.

Does Glycemic Index Matter?

sugar glycemic index GIThe Glycaemic Index (GI) is an oft-referenced measure of the effect of foods on blood sugar. Regulating blood sugar is important in energy levels, maintaining satiety, and better managing fat loss. If blood sugar is low, you will feel lethargic and hunger pangs. Too high and your body will excrete insulin which will lower blood sugar by converting excess sugar into fat (it is also highly anabolic which is why bodybuilders tend to abuse it by using exogenous insulin).

The index uses pure glucose as a reference point (scored a 100) and rates foods when measured individually in a fasted state – this is both its benefit and its weakness.

The GI rating of a food is a good indicator of its individual effect on blood sugar. This can give you a good knowledge base to make some well-informed decisions with your food choices.

However useful the GI is, it has a number of significant flaws that limits its reliability (kind of like how the Body Mass Index has its uses but is overall flawed). The GI is influenced by a number of factors including other foods eaten prior, and other foods you’ve eaten at the same time – thus a food with a high GI paired with a low GI food will result in an overall GI that sits in the centre. To put this in perspective, oats and ice cream have approximately the same glycaemic index despite oats being clearly the much better option nutrient wise.

Simply, as long as you are eating a well balanced diet comprised of sufficient protein (ranging from 1g-2g per kilogram of bodyweight), fats and carbohydrates, as well as nutrient dense foods, the glycaemic index holds very little value to you.

Guide to Getting Bigger Arms

Biceps Flexing Bodybuilding Don’t worry, this guide won’t make you look this ridiculous

We all know that curls get the girls, but building bigger arms takes more than just doing some bicep curls whilst looking in the mirror (insert typical vain gym rat who flexes between sets). Like any muscle building, increasing the size in the arms involves appropriate nutrition and training that directly works the targeted muscles. Below, I will discuss some key points to incorporate into your training to work towards getting bigger arms.

Work the Triceps

The vast majority of size in the arms is actually a result from the Triceps, three muscles that work to straighten the arm out (opposite from doing the curls). The triceps account for the majority of the upper arm, whilst the two bicep muscles are limited to the anterior of the upper arm. If you want to add size, build the triceps.

Know the Anatomy and Muscle Function

Simply, biceps bend the elbow and triceps straighten it. However, it would only require two muscles to complete these movements, rather than the five that are in the upper arm. Each muscle has a slightly different role – thus you will need to choose exercises that work each of these different muscles.

The triceps consists of three muscles, the long head, the medial head, and the lateral head. Simply, the long head is better trained with arms overhead (i.e. overhead extensions or skullcrushers), whilst the medial and lateral heads are best trained with arms extending whilst at the side of the body using overhand (lateral head) and underhand grips (medial head).

Train like any other muscle

Many people have a tendency to use a lighter weight with higher rep ranges for the arms. This makes very little sense, and will not be effective as if you were training them like any other muscle group. 3 sets of 8-12 reps is the most time efficient way to train for size.

Recovery – Remember the Compound Lifts

Unless you are an enhanced trainer (i.e. you are taking steroids or any other performance enhancers), recovery is a key to ensuring muscle growth. A lot of people fail to get adequate rest as they forget that arms have a key role in compound lifts like the bench press, rows, shoulder press, etc. This mean programming should ensure that bicep training is not the day after rows, and triceps shouldn’t be the day following bench and shoulder press. For most people, a full body routine, or upper-lower body split will be adequate in addressing this issues.

Eat

Building muscle requires energy and appropriate protein intake to build muscle fibres. The way to ensure this is to up the food intake, however be careful to monitor your body fat to ensure increases are limited and not to dangerous levels. Increasing food intake will increase the anabolic response – a state where the body builds biomolecules (with proper training, this results in muscle tissue).


What do you do to build bigger arms? Comment below.

3 Reasons to Not Believe Nutrition Research

Nutrition ResearchAsk anyone you know about nutrition advice, and undoubtedly you will have the issue of conflicting advice been given. Eggs are usually raised as the primary example – one minute they’re good for you, the next they are bad for you. I’ve actually had someone say to me ‘Researchers don’t know anything’. Although I completely understand this sentiment, I do find it incredibly frustrating to discuss.

There a three key reasons this stance on nutrition science and research exists – a lack of understanding of research methodologies, simplification or sensationalism in the media, and ‘Gurus’. I will break down how each muddies research and defames an entire field.

Understanding Nutrition Research

Firstly, most don’t understand how research is structured and what the findings mean. Laboratory and animal studies, case studies, cohort studies, and randomised trials are but a small range of the type of studies, and the data from these studies can be gathered in various methods as well, from observation, to meta-analysis, and to self reporting.

Ultimately, the conclusion of any valid and reliable research rarely offers a blanket claim or piece of advice. Researchers are aware of their studies limitations and will make conclusions based on very specific circumstances. For example, 6g of CLA intake by experienced athletes over a 3-week period showed an increase in free testosterone following a resistance-training program. The study only shows the effect of a certain dosage of a particular substance to a specific demographic for a specific amount of time.

It is not until there is a significant body of research that any substantial claim can be made with authority. For example, there is ample evidence of the positive effects of protein intake during weight loss, or the health benefits of almonds.

Sensationalised Reports in the Media

Using the example of CLA intake above, it is likely this story would be reported as ‘CLA intake increase Testosterone’. Whilst there is truth in this headline, it is misleading and makes assumptions about how widespread the effect would be. The actual research noted that the increase in testosterone had no effect on muscle mass, and the article would unlikely explain the restrictions of the research.

Recently, a study was reported as red wine having anti-obesity properties. The odd thing is that the study was actually looking at resveratrol, a polyphenol, which is found in significant amounts in blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, grapes and apples. The article took liberty in relating red wine used grapes and contained resveratrol – though at a fraction of the levels found in grapes. Of course they also neglect the effects of alcohol, which contribute to weight gain in the article.

Fitness Gurus

Another key reason nutrition research is misreported, exaggerated, or neglected is the person presenting or proliferating the information – often filtering it to meet their own purposes. The biggest example of the negative impact this can have is Dr. Oz.

Dr. Oz’s ‘not medical’ medical show has seen him present supplements, lifestyles, exercise programs, and other protocols that are ‘well researched’ to improve health. Two key supplements that Dr. Mehmet Oz had pushed included raspberry ketones and garcinia cambogia, both of which demonstrate little to no benefit in terms of weight loss. However, Dr Oz would only detail research that showed benefits (neglecting those that showed no effect) and exaggerated the results of these studies. This resulted in Dr. Oz being grilled by the US Senate – where he then went onto claim ‘The Dr. Oz Show” was not a medical show.

The evidence not the person pushing it should support claims. Do not blindly accept anyone’s claim, including mine, but rather base opinion on a body of research (note: body of research, not just one study).

Recently, Lawrence Krauss lamented the scientific illiteracy of our culture. I firmly believe this has lead to confusion with nutrition research, with a poor understanding of the scientific method leading to people making unjustified assumptions and statements. Avoid the above pitfalls, and your understanding of nutrition science will become clearer and, in my opinion, much more interesting.