Clean Eating – Is It Really Improving Your Life?

If there’s one thing I’m tired of reading about in the fitness and health industry, it’s the term “clean eating.”

It’s getting thrown around in every Facebook post or blog by educated people, and people who have no idea what they’re talking about.

‘Eat clean, train mean’ is the war cry of many a personal trainer or fitness fanatic.

In my opinion, the whole clean eating fad is a recipe that creates eating disorders.

Labelling food types as good or bad puts so much stress on people and makes them feel guilty if they happen to eat some of these so called “bad” things. It completely removes the idea of balance and perspective.

Food should be looked at as something to love not fear.

There are foods you should eat a lot of (fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, whole grains) and foods you eat a little bit of if you want to (chocolate, chips etc).

If you want to eat a chocolate biscuit everyday, eat one. If you die tomorrow, I’m pretty sure you’re not going to regret that Tim Tam, unless of course choking on it is the cause of death.

Put food into perspective. If you eat a packet of biscuits everyday, you’re health will suffer, but if you eat one, it will make no difference.

I think as trainers we have a responsibility to create not just physically healthy humans, but also contribute to them becoming mentally healthy too. This can’t be done when the world is making them feel guilty about wanting to indulge in a bit of food.

3 Ways To Break Through A Training Plateau

So you’ve been training for a while and you have had some good results to date. You’re feeling stronger, moving better, maybe lost some excess kilograms, life is essentially better. You are officially in the exercise honeymoon period. As wonderful as this time is, it will always come to an end. Results will become far less frequent and progress will slow. The zest for getting out and training will dim and it will become more of a chore. This is a cycle that every exerciser will go through at one stage or another. Fear not though as there are a few highly successful ways to continue on your path without as many slow periods.

1. Progressive Overload

No matter your style of training, if you’re not increasing the load or intensity, your body will adapt to that level of effort and will no longer be forced to change to keep up. If you are regularly making your body work harder in small increments, it doesn’t have time to plateau as it’s always trying to improve so it can handle the rigours of your next workout.

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2. Periodised Training

So many people give 110% everyday of every week for really long periods of time. While some people get away with it, most people will find they become lethargic and more often than not, injured. Putting timelines on your training can be highly effective. A simple example would be to train incredibly hard for 6 weeks then have 1 week of a lighter load. You don’t need to have an entire week of rest, just a week of lower intensity training.

3. Variation in Training

In the same way that progressively overloading your muscles works, varying what they are doing will shock your muscles and force them to try and adapt. It doesn’t have to be massive changes either. If you always run sprints of 100 metres, try lengthening them out to 150 metres for a while. Trick your body by changing things up regularly. If you always do the same thing you’ll never get a change.

Try any of these options if you feel you’ve hit a bit of a plateau and I’m sure they’ll go along way to getting you back in the direction you’re after.

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The Simplest Guide to Weight Training for Beginners

Starting out at a gym or beginning a new exercise routine can be a daunting task for a lot of people. Some questions I’m frequently asked are:

  1. Where do I begin?
  2. What exercises should I be doing?
  3. How much weight should I be lifting?

These questions, plus a heap more, are very hard to answer for most people.

So let’s try and clear that up a little.

Where Do I Start As A Beginner To Weight Training?

First and foremost, the question you need to ask yourself is, “what do I want to get out of training?”

Are you looking to improve health? Increase strength? Lose weight?

These objectives will have an influence on what you need to be doing as you progress.

The other part of this stage is accessing what exercises your body/mobility will allow you to do. This is where a training session can be a good first step, as they can run you through some screening. Ultimately, this assists training to suit your body type and achieve results in a shorter period of time.

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If you don’t go down the route of getting a trainer, it’s important to extensively research training techniques, and also to listen to what your body is telling you when you try an exercise.

Which Weight Exercises Should Beginners Do?

Assuming you’ve found you mobility to be extensive, the number one thing all beginners (and long term users, for that matter) to resistance training should be doing are compound movements. A compound movement is an exercise that recruits multiple muscle groups. Squats, overhead presses and bent over rows are examples of these.

Movements like these will give you far more bang for your buck than isolation exercises such as bicep curls, as you’re training more muscles in a shorter period of time. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to throw some isolation exercises in at the end of a workout, but the main focus should be compound movements.

The other thing to remember is to train what is hard, don’t avoid it. People tend to find an exercise they’re good at, and overtrain that muscle it as a result. This lets other areas slip behind. Train everything regularly.

How Much Weight Should Beginners Lift?

This is something that is completely different for everyone. Pay no attention to how much someone else can lift, because lifting too much too early can cause injury.

They best way to find your weight is to start light and work your way up.

I use the following steps when I’m working with people who are new to weight training:

  1. Start with a weight you can do an easy 15 reps on
  2. Next set, increase the weight and do 12, which should be a bit tougher.
  3. Then, go up slightly and aim for 10-12 reps with the last 4 being fairly intense.

Just remember, you DON’T have to be the strongest person in the gym on your first session. Start light and work your way up.

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The Truth About Food

The world has gone mad with stress and disagreement over what foods you should be eating and what foods should be avoided.
Social media is filled with so called gurus who insist you should be eliminating certain nutrients as they poison you, and you should be following their specific diet plan that is the magic recipe to health and enlightenment.
When did intelligent people lose common sense? Why is it that people with high IQ’s and a good understanding of how the human body works can still get dragged into fad diets and the promise of fast weight loss?
I really wish I could answer these questions. It would save people plenty of money and time, but more importantly, it would have avoided the dangerous yo yo cycle of weight loss that so many people are on.

In over 11 years in the fitness industry I’ve witnessed people try pretty much every diet known to man. Some have had amazing results, some have had no effect whatsoever, but the one thing that stood out is the fact that when someone ate in a manner of completely cutting out an entire food group or macro nutrient, they have eventually put the weight back on. In a lot of cases they’ve got heavier than they were before they started. Of course there are exceptions to this but it certainly isn’t close to the majority.

More often than not these people have gone on the diets from the recommendations of friends or family who have told them wonderful stories of drastic weight loss or improvement in health. As much as these friends and family may have your best interests at heart, they are not professionals in nutrition and have had these wonderful stories of success passed on to them from other people with little knowledge of health.

The best pieces of advice I could give anyone wanting to lose weight would be as follows,

-Take in less energy than is being expelled. This is weight loss in it’s simplest form.
-Eat whole foods most of the time but allow yourself the flexibility to eat some foods that you thoroughly enjoy.

-Focus on health and strength instead of weight loss, losing kg’s will be a bi product of this.

-Don’t take your nutrition advice from memes on Facebook or Instagram. They are rarely factual.

-Seek out a trained expert in nutrition if you need guidance, these people spend their time studying the science that truly works for weight loss.

-Most importantly, don’t stress about food. Enjoy it for the blessing that it is.