Health and fitness questions from the pub… We know how to party, us lot...
What do I need to do to get bigger arms?
The short answer: squat and eat more.
The long version: the human body will only allow a certain amount of asymmetry. What this means is if you devote your entire time to training arms, they will grow initially, but you will soon reach a point of total stagnation because you neglected everything else… And let's face it, if this wasn't the case, you'd just look freaky looking...
A good rule of thumb is this: to gain an inch onto your arms you will need to gain around 15 lbs of equally distributed body mass… The best way to do that is to the pick the most “bang for your buck” exercises - squats, dips, chin ups, etc - use the appropriate loading parameters and eat loads...
Is it ok to go to the pub after training?
I love a drink, so I’m all for it… That said, there a couple of things you should keep in the back of your mind.
1. Alcohol inhibits enzymes involved in energy production, decreasing your ability to sustain high intensity training sessions. 2. Alcohol will disrupt your sleep - in fact, partying on Friday night can disrupt your sleep patterns until Tuesday… And you need sleep for recovery. 3. Alcohol will decrease your testosterone production.
In my opinion, gents, life is short: enjoy your training and enjoy your social life... Honestly, unless being 4% body fat gets you paid, why would you deny yourself a few drinks with your friends? If you are classed as overweight but you’re happy - you like the way you look and feel - then you are far healthier than some shredded dude who can’t have a beer without crying and running 6 miles...
How can you increase testosterone?
Eat red meat, get 8 hours of sleep and take regular deload weeks.
In fact, if you never take a deload week, take one; by Wednesday you’ll feel like you could tear the head off a lion with your bare hands…
As an added bonus, you could take some Ashwaghanda (it’s a herb). Male athletes taking it for the first time all show signs of increased testosterone production, improved mood and sleep, increased facial hair and elevated libido.
Who knows, after taking it you may even finally be able to grow that mustache...
What about steroids? [for testosterone]
I don’t know. Look, men aren’t supposed to have testosterone issues… If you have them and you’re under 60, you are likely doing something very wrong. Fix that first.
**I could have gone off on one about the differences in metabolic rate of connective tissue and muscle but I didn't want the party to get too f***ing crazy...**
Some weeks, my bench press max is significantly lower than the last week - do you know what could cause this?
Could be any number of things, but before I tell you what the most likely cause is, I need to tell you that you shouldn’t test your 1 rep max bench press every week… That’s just terrible training.
It’s likely your hydration levels... A drop of 1.5% in your hydration levels translates as a 10% drop in your maximal strength… And the leaner you are, the worse the drop…
Try to drink 0.6 to 0.7 ounces of water per pound of bodyweight. Easier still, drink until you pass lots of clear urine. **Drink water - I feel the clarification is necessary, here...**
What supplements do you take?
First, supplements are meant to add to the benefits of a good diet, not replace food… Make sure your nutrition is on point before you start buying stuff...
But since you asked, I take: - Fermented cod liver oil and butter oil blend (this does everything) - Probiotic (this does lots of stuff) - Collagen (this looks after my connective tissue)
Then, depending on what I’m doing and whether it’s tax or flu season, maybe I'll take one / some of these: - Creatine (more muscle contractions) - Ashwaghanda (chills me out - improved mood and better sleep) - Kyolic garlic (antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, just anti bad stuff, basically…)
That’s about it, really…
Note: I didn’t think it was much until I saw it all written down…
No protein powders?
Nope, I eat food instead, but I completely understand why people use them - it’s convenient nutrition you can choke down before you leave the gym.
By the way, for supplements, you typically get what you pay for… Cheap protein powder is a mistake you’ll only make once.
What is a good routine to follow?
One that produces the desired results.
Look, getting sore and sweaty isn’t an indicator of progress. Progress is an indicator of progress. Read reviews, ratings, success stories and testimonials before you jump into anything.
What are your thoughts on vibration plate training?
Pointless, unless you like the vibrations, you kinky little so-and-so...
** I have since read up a lot more on vibration plate training and have changed my opinion ever so slightly: a recent study has found some benefit for certain populations because "the vibration stimulus can provide additional overload to the muscles that is appropriate for people with fairly serious dysfunction" **
At my age, (59) can I really expect to see big changes in my physique?
I’ve seen a man your age gain 18 lbs of lean body mass (over a stone of muscle!) in just under a year. This was accompanied by significant fat loss... AND, I know of a couple of guys in their 70's working Iron Cross progressions over in the USA…
Assuming there are no underlying health issues, there is no reason why you can’t do the same.
What advice would you give to the general exercising population?
Change requires time and effort, and a faster change requires intelligent application of effort.
This applies not only to fitness, but to nutrition as well. Small, smart, consistent changes add up to huge, long term changes... 6 week promises and yoyo diets will set you up for long term failure.
Any Iron Cross tips?
Similar to what we just covered.
Nile Wilson (Team GB, and my favourite...) started training the Iron Cross at 13 and says he didn’t master it "until now” (Jan 2016) when he was 20 years old… And he trains gymnastics 6 days a week with access to incredible coaches, progressions and equipment…
Treat things with the respect they deserve. The approach of hopping up on the rings and hoping for the best is not an intelligent application of effort, and the lack of respect for this advanced movement will in all likelihood result in a blown elbow and a year out of training.
What you need to do before you attempt any skill is build the right tool for the job. The job is the skill, the tool is your body. Follow some well thought out progressions and you will get the Iron Cross. As for when, it will depend on your starting point and your commitment.
What actually is Crossfit, then?
It’s a general strength and conditioning program based around what works in real life.
Basically, it is used to build the right tool for the job - our more experienced athletes have no problems with muscle ups, squats and sandbag carries. This general strength and fitness allows them to go out into the world and use what they’ve learned and acquired. Our members all report finding physical and mental tasks easier: they don’t get tired during hockey practice, and they routinely hit new personal bests in the swimming pool; they fly up Mount Snowdon with ease and they have enough energy left over after work to play with the kids and even take the dog for a run... To top it off, these guys look awesome year round - not just for holiday snaps…
What kind of diet would you recommend?
I can't give a specific one, I’m afraid… We’re all different: we have different goals, different start points, different intolerances...
If I had to give a rough outline, I’d say you can’t go too far wrong with a 75% paleo diet. The remaining 25% should come from dairy (you need some calcium…) rice and oats (you need some enjoyable starch), supplements (cavemen didn’t have convenient pills), the occasional cheat meal and most definitely an enjoyable beverage or two... But like I said, this is all goal dependent and based on preferences and so on and so forth...
What would be the healthiest alcoholic drink?
You don’t really drink alcohol to be healthy - no one has ever done a tequila slammer for the vitamin C content of the lemon wedge... And if someone out there has, I do not want to go to their party...
Accept and embrace your vices.
The alternative is drinking something you probably won’t enjoy that has limited, if any, healthy benefits... **** it, man, order what you want.
This is pretty much where the health and fitness questions stopped; we went on to talk about robbing a bank, driving to the ocean, faking our deaths and lording it up in Mexico...