I often get asked many questions regarding fitness, training and nutrition. Here I want to compile some common ones complete with the best answers I can possibly give without being too general....
QUESTION: What 3 pieces of advice would you give a complete beginner to weight training? Their goal is fat loss.
1) Perform full body sessions as frequently as your schedule will allow. Forget body-part splits. Try to minimise variation and keep things as simple as possible. For example, if I have a beginner client who is able to train 5 times per week, I would most likely give them 2 workouts that they would alternate across the week.
Workout 1 might look like: -
A. Goblet Squat 3 x 8
B. Push-Up 3 x 10
C. Unilateral Lying Leg Curl 3 x 10
D. Unilateral Seated Cable Row 3 x 10
E1. DB Lateral Raise 2 x 10
E2. Plank on Elbows 2 x 60 secs
Workout 2 might look like: -
A. DB Romanian Deadlift 3 x 8
B. Single Arm Lat Pull-Down 3 x 10
C. DB Split-Squat 3 x 10
D. Face Pull 3 x10
E1. Single Arm DB Shoulder Press 2 x 10
E2. Pallof Press 2 x 10
2) View weight training as a skill to be learnt. Master the exercises with slow lifting tempos before trying to increase the weight or speed the movements up. I very often see novice gym-goers performing exercises with extremely poor execution and with a complete lack of control. As a result they are risking injury and aren't achieving much beyond swinging some weight around. Pay a coach to show you how to lift properly if necessary.
3) Aim to progressively overload the body over time. Note this doesn't necessarily mean increasing weight. You can also overload by: -
- Increasing the number of sets performed
- Increasing the number of reps performed
- Changing the speed of the lift
- Adding in pauses to a lift
- Reducing the rest periods between sets
Keep a training log to ensure that you are making progress, The first 12-18 months of training should yield the best gains in strength and muscle mass if done correctly.
QUESTION: What 3 pieces of dietary advice would you give a complete beginner who hasn't dieted before? Their goal is fat loss.
1) Increase your water intake. This is one of the simplest first steps I urge all my clients to do. I don't set a specific amount. I just want there urine to run clear. This makes it easy for them to monitor.
2) Increase your protein intake. Almost all clients who first come to see me are eating very little protein. So my goal with all beginners is to get them eating a palm-sized portion of protein at least 3 times per day. The additional protein will come in handy now that you are training regularly as it will aid in repair and recovery from sessions. The protein will also keep you feeling fuller for longer and will naturally reduce the amount of carbohydrate in the diet (which is usually too high for the average person).
3) Increase vegetable intake and minimise any liquid calories. My aim for all beginners is 2 fists of vegetables at least 3 times per day. Minimising liquid calories will allow clients to maximise food calories - and who wouldn't rather eat more?! By liquid calories I am not just referring to alcohol. I am also talking about soft drink, milky coffees, juices and smoothies. Whole foods are much more satiating (keep you feeling fuller for longer) which helps reduce hunger and reduces the risk of bingeing.
QUESTION: You're travelling for business on a regular basis. What would you recommend?
ANSWER (help here from my Client Eric who travels 1/3 of the year and faces this question all the time - see Eric's transformation here):
1) Prepare & know what you're getting into. Look up where your gym is in relation to your hotel. If you don't have one look at the hotel gym and plan your workout accordingly. Nothing is more demoralising than getting to your hotel gym and sitting in a room with a bench and a few dumbbells wondering what you should do. Also prepare for the flight by bringing your own healthy snacks, rather than relying on the "food" they give you (this is particularly pertinent on longer-haul flights).
2) Train harder when you're at home so that you can utilise travel days for rest or lighter cardio/circuit sessions.
3) Eating and drinking is most difficult when on the road. You'll slip up on your diet - so don't aim for perfection. Do your best to eat healthy and don't beat yourself up if not. When drinking, opt for spirits with extra mixer (ask for a tall glass) and drink slow. You only need about 1-2 drinks for social lubrication. Anything additional has less pay-off and can even be detrimental.
4) Keep water at hand at all times. Travelling is tiring and flying is extremely dehydrating. It will aid in recovering from jet lag, will help energy levels and will keep a lid on hunger.