Ultra Lean Upper Body Circuit Training

12 Feb

Time to turn the heat up on those triceps, biceps, back and shoulder muscles.  And not forgetting your core!

I completed 5 rounds of this body weight circuit after a 4.5km up hill run.  Legs were exhausted, so it only seemed fair to finish off the upper body too!  Now it’s your turn!  No equipment necessary except for a bench, step or chair.  Give it your best shot and let me know how you get on.

 

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Strike a pose? Vogue!

11 Feb

I’m 8 weeks out – which in non-body sculpting speak means I have 8 weeks til my first competition!!  So I can’t delay the inevitable anymore, posing practise must begin!

I won’t lie this is the bit I’ve been dreading most.  I will happily train my ass off, eat clean, hell I’ll eat broccoli and sprouts all day, every day and nothing else if I had to, but when it comes to actually having to stand on a stage in a micro bikini, heels and copious amounts of fake tan, I am filled with fear!  I know how daft that sounds, I mean why do a Bikini contest if the idea terrifies you so much?  I guess that’s just part of the challenge, over coming my nerves and insecurities, building confidence and seeing what I can do when I’m out of my comfort zone.

As yet, I haven’t really come up with a strategy to over come this fear…  So for now I’ve decided my best option is to just… practise?  So today I begun.  Firstly let me explain the environment I’m in:  it’s a Muay Thai camp where 90% of those training are men and the only place for me to practise with suitable flooring and mirrors is in the middle of a very open training area.  As you can probably imagine, it’s not a very private experience and apparently what I’m doing is in fact a spectator sport!!  Still, it’s all good practise for the real thing, right?

Anyway, in the spirit of full disclosure I present to you my first posing video.  Whilst I’m still struggling not to cringe when looking at it, maybe it’ll provide you with some good laughs, just as it did my own mother!  Let’s hope I improve a lot….

 

Long Lean Legs? Chiseled Chest? Yes Please!

10 Feb

I’ve been hitting the weights pretty hard lately with my trainer in Phuket, Peter “The Thai Hulk”.  It’s been great learning from him and tapping into his years of experience competing in body sculpting competitions.  He’s been working me hard and encouraging me to push beyond what I probably would achieve on my own, and in doing so I’m starting to see great results.  I have a lot of gratitude and thanks owed to Peter.

This is one reason why I think working out with someone, whether it be a trainer, a gym buddy or in a group class is such a valuable experience.  It’s a great opportunity to try new techniques or moves you may not have considered before.  Plus, by exercising with someone else you make yourself accountable, you’ll probably end up working that bit harder because you don’t want to let them down (or you don’t want to embarrass yourself!!)

I’m sure I’m not the only trainer out there to think this, but whilst I always feel confident and adept at pushing the people I work with that extra mile, getting them through those last few reps and designing challenging and effective workouts for them, sometimes it’s a struggle to move out of my own fitness comfort zone.  Sometimes we all need a kick in the butt, right?!  That’s why I love to workout with other trainers whenever I get the chance to travel.  They inspire me, usually push me to my limits and remind me why I love doing what I do as a trainer.  Trying out new things also gives me a whole new appreciation for what my body is capable of.  And lets not forget about the welcome sensations of muscle soreness that only a brand new workout can deliver!

Here are a couple of tweaks that Peter showed me to some traditional weight training moves you may already be doing – standing ‘triangle’ cable flye and staggered Smith machine backwards lunge.  I challenge you to squeeze in 2-3 sets of 15 reps of each move into your next workout, I promise you’ll be ‘feeling it’ the next day 🙂

 

 

Only 10 Minutes to Train?

28 Jan

It’s Monday morning, your alarm went off late, the weather’s rubbish, you have a cold, you had a busy weekend, you over indulged, you have a hangover, you’re tired, you can’t find your gym shoes, you don’t have time, you just can’t be bothered!!  Whatever the excuse, how about binning it just this once?  Suck it up, find those gym shoes, (hint – they’re at the end of your bed!!) put on your favourite music and press play.  This workout will be over in 10 mins flat and you’ll feel great.  Happy Monday folks 🙂

Weight Loss for a Worthy Cause

27 Jan

Training for my fourth coming body sculpting competition is going great despite having a couple of sickness set backs – in the last three weeks I’ve suffered a virus that put me out of action for almost three days, as well as a nasty cold that meant giving 100% was a bit of a struggle.  Still, we can all make excuses right?!  But the good news is I’m starting to see and feel noticeable differences.  My fitness is improving – I’ve skimmed a massive 3 mins off my Big Buddha Challenge time – and in the last 3 weeks I’ve lost 5cm off my belly, 3cm off my hips and dropped 0.5% body fat!  All good!

Getting great results is really motivating and for the large part is what always spurs me on to reach my fitness goals.  But have you ever really, REALLY struggled to complete a workout (or even find the motivation to get to the gym in the first place?!)  We’ve all been there.  You’re half way through that massive set of burpees, you’re desperately  trying to go through your memory bank of reasons to push through to the end, whilst your body is screaming out in pain to stop.  It’s not easy and this is why having specific goals is so important to give you that crucial focus just at that point of failure.  At the moment, every time the lazy little devil in my head starts tempting me to cheat my workout or take it easy, I just think about hitting the competition stage in April and how amazing I’m going to feel knowing all the hard work I’ve put in.  There’s just no way I’m going to let myself down, nor anyone else that has even a little shred of faith in me.  I will be doing no deals with the devil!

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Alan and his Weight Loss Challenge

But I’ll take all the motivation I can get and that’s why I’ve added another goal to help keep me focused.  I’m currently just over half way through a two week charity weight loss challenge.  Alan, my good friend here in Thailand, proposed to lose 10kg in 2 weeks to help raise funds for a very worthy cause – Child Watch Phuket.  Well, I couldn’t let him do it on his own, but likewise I can’t really afford to lose 10kg, skeletal is not the look I’m going for!  So my target is 2kg, and so far so good, with some consistent training and a clean diet over the next 4-5 days the scales should be showing the right numbers.

The best thing about getting involved in this challenge has been going to visit and play with some of the children who will benefit from the money we raise (our total target is 100,000 baht).  Last week I felt a whole host of emotions as we hung out with the kids at The Baan Lung Pitak Prison Program.  Sadly, Phuket has a bit of a reputation with too many children being abused, ending up becoming cheap labour, sex workers or beggars.   At the centre, the boys and girls are all between the ages of 2-5 years and most of them have parents in the prison which is located literally right next door.  I’m sure you’ve heard it, but they say that Thailand is the land of smiles, well now I know why, I have never seen such beautiful beaming faces before.  The kids seemed so happy as they played, sang, danced and jumped all over us!  Despite the basic structure of the centre – it has no air conditioning, no proper shower and the kids sleep on blankets on the floor – this is a safe, happy haven for them.  So next time  I’m in the midst of that last set of burpees and my body is saying ‘not today love’, I’ll just think of those smiles, and bang, the workouts done!

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Pure, simple happiness

14 Minutes of Sweat for a Super Hot Body!

14 Jan

It’s Monday morning, let’s not mess about, just get straight to the point – it’s time to kick some serious workout butt!

Here’s a real-time workout for you.  Just grab your equipment, make sure it’s all to hand, line up your favourite workout music mix, turn up the volume and hit play on the YouTube video below.  You ready?  Go get sweaty!

Equipment needed:

  • one set of dumb bells
  • chin up bar and bench/chair – or you can use a door frame or the Smith machine set at chest height for an inverted row
  • skipping rope
  • tire

If you want to take a print out of the workout to the gym, head over to the RAW Fitness website where you’ll find the PDF file.

For more workout videos and updates, please ‘like’ and subscribe to the GetRAWFitness YouTube channel and RAW Fitness Blog.

Be(an) Happy Brownie Recipe

12 Jan
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Be(an) Happy Brownies

“Forget love – I’d rather fall in chocolate.”

Who doesn’t like chocolate?  Exactly.  The dark stuff not only tastes good, but it’s one of those foods that can have a real emotional impact on us.  It has the power to make us feel o so happy – sometimes chocolate is the only answer to complete satisfaction, right?  But, on the flip side, there’s the all too familiar guilt associated with our favourite sweet treat, especially when we’ve over indulged.

Most of us know it may not necessarily be the healthiest food option.  This is true in many respects, your average chocolate bar, cake, cookie or snack is going to be laden with sugar or other undesirable artificial sweeteners and trans or saturated fats.  But there are numerous health benefits to including good quality, dark chocolate – at least 70% cocoa solids – into your diet.  Dark chocolate is packed with the minerals magnesium, potassium, iron and copper, all necessary for good health, as well as containing flavonoids, which are plant compounds that have antioxidant properties and have shown may help to lower blood pressure, improve vascular function and lower bad LDL cholesterol.  And there’s likely a chemical reason for why chocolate gives you that feel good feeling too.  In one 2009 study, a group of ‘highly stressed’ people were asked to consume dark chocolate daily for a couple of weeks.  At the end of the test period they were all found to have considerably lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as the ‘fight or flight’ hormone catecholamines.  So grab some chocolate and chill out!

In my attempt to make a ‘healthy’ brownie that would pack in plenty of protein to support my training, as well as satisfy my chocolate craving, I got ‘experimenting’ in the kitchen.  Early attempts produced what I can only describe as chocolate cardboard….  But after some research I read that surprisingly the magic missing ingredient could possibly be…. beans!  Yup, that’s right.  Sounds a bit strange I know (disgusting even?!), but they help to keep the brownies nice and moist, whilst another added bonus is the extra fibre they provide.  So give these a go and feel good without the guilt.  Be(an) Happy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1/2 cup of peanut butter – see my peanut butter recipe!
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup
  • 1/2 a mashed banana (if it’s a small banana, use the whole thing!  And if you don’t like bananas, use 1/2 cup apple sauce)
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 3 x 20g scoops of protein powder – the whey protein I like to use is Pulsin’s 100% Natural Flavour.  Or a good vegan (non-dairy) alternative is Sun Warrior Natural Brown Rice Protein.  For this recipe I prefer to use a flavorless protein, but the choice is yours!
  • 1/2 cup of Green & Blacks 70% cocoa powder or another ‘dark’, good quality cocoa
  • 1/4 cup of soaked goji berries – I soak mine over night in water and cinnamon to make them soft and plump
  • 1/4 cup of raisins
  • 1.5 cups of oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • If you want a REAL big chocolate kick, roughly break up some chunks of 70% dark chocolate – about half a large bar will do!

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 180ºC/350ºF.  Grease a 9 x 9 inch baking pan with a little coconut oil or other oil.
  • Into a food processor, add the beans, peanut butter, maple syrup, mashed banana, cinnamon and salt.  Blend until the mixture is smooth.
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Beans, peanut butter, maple syrup, mashed banana, cinnamon and salt.

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Protein powder, cocoa and oats added to the mixture.

  • Add the protein powder, cocoa and oats and hit the pulse button a few times until the mixture has combined nicely.
  • Stir in the goji berries and raisins – and chocolate chunks if you’re being decadent!  The consistency of the mixture should be spreadable and not too dry.  If it does seem a bit dry, add a little water, if it seems too runny add some more oats to the mixture.
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Mix in the gojis and raisins

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Spread into greased baking pan.

  • Spread the mixture in the pan and bake for 15-18 mins.  Keep an eye on the brownies, don’t let them ‘over cook’ as the added protein can tend to make them go hard and cardboard like if they are cooked for too long.
  • Let them cool a bit – if you’re not too impatient! – cut into 16 squares and enjoy 🙂  They should keep for a few days in refrigerated.