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Luke Matthews

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One of my best training techniques, I use to get the best results is by implementing supersets. I apply supersets to every muscle group I train. They keep constant tension on the muscle group targeted to get the most out of every fibre for maximum results. Supersets can be used for one muscle group or as an agonist and antagonist split such as biceps and triceps. They are also very time effective and keep your workout moving.

I often get the question: “How long do I wait until I go into the next set?” My answer to that is no longer than 15 seconds. I tell clients to start the next set right before they are “ready.”

Supersets have a design to keep us accountable by nature.

This technique is doing several things: 

  1. You will shock the muscle which is also explained as muscle confusion. This is an excellent way for hypertrophy and growth for muscle fibres.  The body is very smart and adaptable, so going right into the next reps before the muscles recover from the last set will force them to grow and strengthen to handle the load.
  2. The muscle stays under tension for a long period of time. After the 15-second time frame, the impact of the muscle is under tension diminishes. If you can start that next set before the 15 seconds is up you will continue to work the muscle optimally forcing it to grow.

When working for the same muscle group, I suggest using different angles and resistance.  For example: after doing dumbbell tricep kickbacks go right into skull crushers.  Changing the angle of the arm works the muscle differently causing the best results. I love changing angles with all my lifts because it’s using every part of the muscle. One of my favourite supersets is prone machine hamstring curls and then going right into swiss ball hamstring curls while on your back. These will ignite every muscle fibre, trust me you will feel the burn! I also really love barbell squats and then transition into squat jumps.  This throws in that plyometric aspect into the superset. These kinds of training sequences are a game-changer for your physique.

I use supersets every time I train.  It’s too easy to glance at our phones or talk too long with our training partner. We can all become complacent at times.  Supersets have a design to keep us accountable by nature.  After the first set, you are obligated to go right into the next one. Give some of the examples I mentioned a try this week in your workouts. I promise they will not disappoint.

Maintaining your diet while traveling is easier said than done. The airport can be a huge obstacle if you are not prepared to battle the high prices and lack of options that fit your particular diet. I have a few specific tips to consider when traveling to avoid slip-ups and will support your fitness and healthy lifestyle.

Plan ahead
Pack healthy protein-dense snacks that will keep you full and help you reach your macros for the day. Before I travel I arrange what snacks to bring so I can avoid lackluster airport and gas station nutrition options on the road. Some of my favorites are jerky, nuts, protein bars, Starkiss Tuna packs, and peanut butter on veggies. I’ll also bring a small cooler if I’m on the road with grilled chicken and steamed veggies if it’s just a day trip. The key is to plan ahead and have everything ready beforehand.

The strategy is to plan ahead and remember who you are as a healthy person inside and out

Continue to adhere to your workout plan
Hotel gyms can sometimes be pretty bare, but it’s important to continue with your workout regiment to stay motivated with your diet. It’s too easy to blow your diet when you work out aren’t keeping you focused. There is nothing better than getting in a good workout to keep you motivated to clean eating. Being accountable to yourself is the backbone of discipline which leads to empowering behavior.

Remember this is your lifestyle
Health and fitness are continual, there is no end goal when it is your lifestyle. Eating healthy with an active and fit lifestyle is who you are! You never know who you inspire as you eat your tuna packet at the airport. It has nothing to do with shaming or casting judgment on what so many people aspire to have, Own it, you could be changing as spectators’ life to strive for more.

Give yourself a break when special events such as a wedding or birthday coming up. We only have one life and we deserve to celebrate with coconut cake or pizza from time to time.

Discipline beats motivation, in the long run, every time. I love this topic because there is so much confusion about what it takes to get that desired physique or stick to eating healthy. A lot of people purely rely on motivation to drive their hunger for results. People often ask me what it takes to obtain the fitness and health goals they desire. Everyone’s goals are a little different, but there are two things I consider to be the secret to earn those envisioned goals.

Most importantly, the inner confidence you carry and see in yourself is so rewarding.

Discipline combined with consistency is the key. It doesn’t matter if it’s with school, your career, or your fitness and health goals, discipline and consistency will unlock your potential to the next level and beyond. Motivation is all fine and good, but it will only take you so far. We all need motivation from time to time. There are those days when you just aren’t feeling like going to the gym, so you throw on your favourite song to get pumped up reminding yourself of your goals. However, I view motivation as a tool rather than a means of sticking with a fit and healthy lifestyle. Motivation is so fleeting. It’s tough to find motivation day in and day out when life hits you with unexpected obstacles.

Discipline on the other hand is synchronized much better with the everyday healthy lifestyle. Are you a disciplined person? There is so much self-respect and personal pride in knowing you carry out a disciplined lifestyle. People can see it beaming from the way you carry yourself, and when you apply it to your fitness and diet, people can see the physical and positive emotional results. Most importantly, the inner confidence you carry and see in yourself is so rewarding. If it was easy everyone would be disciplined. You have to take a good look at yourself from the inside out. Ask yourself: “Who am I and what do I want for myself? What do I deserve?!”

Discipline combined with consistency is a powerful combination for life-changing results. The lifestyle you live will provide you with self-respect and the respect of others. Think of motivation as a tool to throw into the mix to help. Motivation is all great but remember it’s not the driving force for striving towards your goals day after day. Use it as an instrument to add to your success. You have what it takes!

Photo By: Rosemary Wright

When it comes to reaching your goals, it’s all about having a plan and maintaining a big-picture perspective. It’s too easy to fall off the wagon if you have a bad day, miss another workout or fall victim to bad food cravings. With the perspective of winning the week, it gives you a mental tool to see 7 days as a whole.

If you can make progress each week and keep it as your lifestyle, that’s when you know you are on the right track to making it life-changing.

This mindset gives you time. If you mess up a day or two you have 5 or 6 other days to make up for what threw you off. This can also prepare you for a big birthday or holiday dinner. Garlic knots and pizza can be planned and managed in the week leading up to that meal. By adjusting your workouts and diet, you can fit in foods you enjoy pretty easily. I like to think of this strategy like it’s a bank account. Money spent is calories eaten. You get so many calories a week to eat. It’s your choice how and when you eat them. A deposit can be made using your workouts during the week to help out with your budget.

I personally used this mentality during my week to stay on track while still being able to enjoy some of my favourite foods. Remember, it’s all about balance and maintaining a healthy lifestyle both physically and mentally. If you can make progress each week and keep it as your lifestyle, that’s when you know you are on the right track to making it life-changing. Consistency is key, one week at a time.

Heading into the winter it’s easy to lose sight of next summer and your fitness goals. For me personally, I like to be in my top physical condition by the beginning of June. I’ve learned to not get too far behind over the winter months, as the journey back to the top condition can be torturous. Maintain your focus and remember your vision for next summer so you don’t dig yourself into a hole.

A lot of people like to start a “bulk” during the winter months. Depending on your goals that can be a good idea, however, I never recommend a “dirty” bulk. Bulking while overeating can be an easy way to gain unwanted weight. The surplus of calories can help you build some muscle, but once you start to shred down a lot of that muscle can be lost.

I recommend doing a “clean” bulk. What does that look like? A surplus in calories between 500 and 1000 daily while still tracking your macros and eating clean food. Dirty bulks often give people the sense that they can eat whatever they want. Again, I don’t recommend this because you can gain too much-unwanted weight. Keep your macros balanced and managed as well, it can be easy to lose track making them unbalanced. You want to keep your ratios somewhat the same with maybe a higher level of protein. Your clean bulk must be accompanied by a solid workout routine that focuses on strength and hypertrophy.

I like to do a slight clean bulk, adding about 500 calories to my diet. Calories are still managed and measured so I know what my macros look like and the extra 500 calories aren’t out of thin air. Strategic placement of macros is in mind as I increase protein to aid in my training that’s focused on building muscle.

If you are not interested in bulking this winter, remember to keep up with your cardio and balanced diet. The cold weather can discourage cardio outside which can neglect your cardio training altogether. Stay disciplined and hit the treadmill, stair master, or whatever keeps you consistent. I always try to keep in mind those spring months and get a head start with maintaining my plan through the winter months. Your body and mind with thank you for it.

Photo By: Black Sails Photography

Are you having a hard time getting the results you want from the gym? Does it seem like your “hard work” isn’t paying off? These are just a couple of questions we have asked ourselves at times over the years when goals are taking longer than expected.  I want to challenge you to look in the mirror and really ask yourself, am I really “All In?”

Going all in doesn’t mean you have to eat chicken and broccoli for the rest of your life. It means you take those small steps that turn into consistent habits that forge the body and lifestyle you want. The most successful people make small changes over time. Small good habits lead to big change. One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is expecting changes to happen overnight. Maybe this can happen for a while, but big changes usually don’t last long. It’s the little changes that snowball into more and more good habits that break into a lifestyle.

It’s pretty straightforward what habits should be at the forefront of your lifestyle. Meal prepping with the right foods and a consistent workout plan that includes resistance training should be automatic. However, the key to all of this is to make it consistent. Good things take time, time and consistency.

I encourage you to take those first steps by taking a vow to yourself that you will see it through and make it your lifestyle. Work hard and focus on your vision and keep pushing it forward.  You will always have a time that you stumble, but it’s when you get up and right back at it that separates you from the rest.

Photo by: Taylor Cifuentes

Whether your goal is to become lean or you are already where you want to be, the habits that got you there will also keep you there. The concepts that paved that path to become the shredded need to be dialled in as daily habits in order to maintain your hard work and focus. I’ve listed 4 lean habits below that will help remind you of what needs to take place during your day and weekly planning to stay on track.

  • SLEEP
    Sleep and rest hours dictate the way your body burns calories. Whether those calories are coming from body fat or elsewhere. If you are not getting enough sleep, your body will not recover properly. I feel like sleep is underrated. Sleep helps keep your hormones balanced and intact, which aids in recovery and promotes results in the gym.
  • PLANNING MEALS
    Meal prepping for the week is one of the biggest “secrets” to staying on track. It really doesn’t take that much effort each week to prepare a good amount of meals for the week. In the end, it actually saves time because you get it all done in one shot and don’t have to cook or clean up each meal throughout the week. You are also in charge of what you put into your meals. It takes the power away from last-minute drive-through slip-ups or quick options that aren’t standard for your macros.
  • EATING AT HOME
    As stated above, eating meals away from home decreases awareness of the calories and ingredients in the meal. The more in control of your food environment, the better. You never know what kinds of oils, butter, or similar ingredients a restaurant puts on your food.
  • CALORIES
    Understanding or having a background in how to track macros and what is essential for your body is key for keeping your weight and body metrics where you want them long term. Without his baseline, it’s hard to know intuitively where you should be in compliance with your goals.

Hitting the gym for most people is the easiest part of the fitness journey. It’s what you do the other 23 hours in the day for weeks, months, and years consistently that makes the biggest changes. Make lean habits a part of your everyday life, and you are well on your way to getting lean and maintaining it for life.

Photo By: Herzberg Photography

It’s important to know how many calories you need to eat each day.  Once you dial that in you can choose the best low-calorie diet plan. Your daily calories will depend on your goals, size, sex, and activity level. Weight loss does not occur without a caloric deficit. This means you need to burn more calories than you consume.

Getting started on a new diet can become overwhelming, especially when you are trying to plug everything you eat into MyFitnessPal to count all your calories. Instead, I suggest monitoring portion sizes to moderate what you are eating. This takes a lot of pressure off feeling the need to be “perfect.” Now, you can focus on the concepts of managing your caloric intake rather than being so fixed on the exact numbers. If you are eating a certain portion size currently and maintaining your weight, remove a little from each of your regular portions to reduce calories. Get a mental picture of what your portion sizes currently look like and then decrease from there. If this does not lead to weight loss, remove a little more. Be patient and not everything has to be cut to the extreme.

Remember, it is extremely important to consume enough calories with a focus on nutrient-dense foods so that you can fuel your daily activities and perform at your best in the gym. A slow and steady rate of weight loss is easier psychologically as well as physically and is simpler to maintain.

I know I used the word “diet” in this article which can be misunderstood. Think of this slowly lowering of calories as your lifestyle until you reach your desired weight. Then, maintain that caloric intake and activity level as your lifestyle. You can always increase calories for holidays and vacations to enjoy. However, keep the balance of calories as a week-long timeline to keep everything managed and regulated. When it comes to weight loss there is never a shortcut. Give yourself plenty of time and stay consistent.

Photo By: Bry Cox

Putting nutrition over trying to burn calories should be your top priority.  It’s so much easier to eat your calories than to burn them. That’s why I say you cannot outwork a bad diet. Nutrition is king! I’d advise anyone trying to lose weight, or even build muscle for that matter to invest their money into a nutritionist or legit nutrition program before hiring a personal trainer. I’m sure other trainers out there will be upset with me for saying that, but if you want real results in the gym, the nutrition has got to come first. I won’t take on a client until they can honestly tell me they have stuck to their nutrition plan for at least two weeks. Honestly, I should probably stretch that out to a month because nutrition is just too important. You will see results in the mirror faster if your focus is on nutrition. Think of your workouts and training as the “extra credit” you put in.  This is especially the case when the goal is to lose weight.

It’s so much easier to just drop certain food additions so you don’t have to put in extra time at the gym.

For perspective, you can cut 250 calories from your diet by swapping your morning coffee drink for black coffee. Whatever cream and sugar or coffee enhancements you are adding could be killing your hard work in the gym. In order to burn 250 calories, you need to jog for about 30 to 40 minutes depending on your weight just to make up for that added coffee reinforcement. It’s so much easier to just drop certain food additions so you don’t have to put in extra time at the gym.

Your body adapts. It takes 1-2 weeks to adapt to the cardio and endurance training you put your body through. It will always want to become more efficient. With something like weight training, your body can take up to 4-6 weeks to adapt. Not only is weight training more efficient in burning calories over time, but it will be more beneficial for your body in burning energy.

Focus on things like calorie consumption and the ratio of macronutrients. This will help speed up your metabolic process and impact the way that your body burns energy. Look at something like a total daily expenditure table. This will give you some knowledge about how much your body needs to burn throughout the day and how many calories you can eat. Get your nutrition right first and then get your workout routine established. Your results will come faster than you think.

Photo By: Love Thyself

Our diets can get off track every once in a while, but how does that happen? I like to call it “diet drifting.” It’s when weekly or even daily habits change without us even recognizing it. It can seem subtle, but that eventually drifts into bad habits that set us back. You might think you are doing everything you did when you were shredded, yet those little choices can get away from us. Remember, you can’t out-train a bad diet or even a drifting diet. That stubborn fat will slowly creep up on you without realizing it.

Last summer my diet and training were on point. Sitting at 5% body fat I was cruising. “Suddenly” I realized my body fat was up to 8% and was noticing some stubborn fat around the midsection. It made no sense to me as I thought I was doing the same diet and workout routine consistently without any changes. I kept a log of my daily routine for a week to see if I could figure this thing out. I was 5 days in when I caught the culprit. Every Friday, I would reward my hard work with a chicken sandwich from the drive-through. The thing that changed was the added waffle fries from out of nowhere that became a weekly habit. I traced it back to mid-summer when I was so consistent at 5% body fat I felt like I had some room to extend my little pleasure with added fries. That didn’t cease to stop over the next 7 weeks. Looking back it still doesn’t seem like much, but never underestimate the power of calories, especially bad calories.

Diet drifting is something that can happen to anyone. Make sure to track your calories every once in a while to ensure you are hitting your numbers. It’s so easy to get complacent when things are going well. If your body fat percentage goes up or you are gaining unwanted weight you can go back and look at your logs to find the cause. You can also keep a diet journal for a week and see if something pops out at you.

Going into this summer I’m going to watch out for those waffle fries and any other small habit that begins to pick up steam.  Catch it early and you’re right back in the game!

Photo by: Mina Arroyo