How Your Mind Can Build Your Muscles!

We have all heard phrases like “your mind is the most powerful muscle in your body”, or “we only use 10% of our brains capacity”, or in this case the critical one “you have to build the mind-muscle connection”. However, have you ever really thought about what they mean, especially the last one, and also what impact it might have if you could really switch on some of that extra brain capacity, especially in relation to your muscles.

For the purposes of this article I’m only focusing on the brain and your minds ability to enhance your physique and help you build a better body. So if you are a budding Einstein, Mozart or Newton, you’d best look elsewhere, this article is not going to help.

The Mind Muscle Connection:

So what exactly do we mean by the often used phrase “the mind muscle connection”. Well, to be honest, it’s exactly what it says on the tin. It is about finding and using the ability to tune your thoughts and your mind into the specific muscles that you are working at a particular moment. What do i mean by that? Well let me give you some examples.

How many times have you gone to the Gym or done a workout with a specific goal in mind, or even followed a programme for a period of time, and then come away disappointed. You haven’t really felt it the next day, weren’t sore in the areas you expected to be sore, or simply after a period of time, just weren’t getting the results that you expected. It is very possible, even likely that the reason for this is that you weren’t correctly working the muscles you intended to work, and therefore just weren”t getting the results you wanted.

Again I’ll give you some examples. You are working your chest doing some form of press (bench press, dumbbell press, incline press), but instead of getting a good chest pump and soreness the next day your triceps give out first or you feel pain in your shoulder joints. The same may go for shoulder press where you end up using triceps, Lat pull downs where you end up using biceps etc etc.

Another common fault is where people try to use too heavy weights and end up swinging them into position or forcing them up, thus using a whole variety of different muscles and muscle groups, other than the one your are actually trying to work.

In short people are not actually thinking about what they are doing and not focusing their mind on what they want to achieve and how to go about doing it. This is often driven by ego. Lets be honest we have all been guilty of trying to outdo the guy next to us in the Gym, or just throw some extra weight on in the hope that extra weight equals extra muscle.

The solution to this is very simple and there are three or four key elements that if you use correctly and every time, will have a really dramatic impact on the results you achieve.

Key Mind Tips:

These are my key mind tips which if you use will boost your gains and results enormously.

  1. The first is really simple. Concentrate on the specific muscle you want to work while doing the exercise. Feel that actual muscle contracting and extending and whilst doing the concentric part of the movement really try to squeeze the muscle as hard as you can. Do that for each rep, and at the same time, try as much as possible not to engage or use other muscles around it. This is quite hard at first but with a bit of practise it comes naturally.
  2. Concentrate on form and tempo, and lower the weights from what you would normally do. This is vital. To start with lower the weights around 20/25% from what you would normally use. Do each rep slowly and concentrate on squeezing the weight up (or down) and then controlling it slowly on the way back down. Believe me this is really hard and there is no way you will do full sets with the amount of weight you normally use if you do it this way. The eccentric or lowering phase if done really slowly is just as important as the lift or squeeze itself.
  3. Use a full range of motion. Use strict form, don’t swing the weight up which often shortens the lift, and when lowering the weight really feel the stretch of the muscle and open up the joint as much as possible whilst still keeping it under control.
  4. Finally, try to keep the muscle you are using under tension the whole time. What this often means is that you won’t quite lock out at either the top of the bottom of the movement. By doing this you ensure that the muscle being used is constantly under tension, constantly being used and gets no sneaky little rests.

Watch this guys video here. He covers a number of these points and demonstrates what i mean about controlling the reps, really focusing on the specific muscle you are trying to work, and keeping tension in the muscle.

As I already said, if you do this strictly you will find your workouts will change immensely. Number one you’ll be super tired after completing them. Number two, you’ll be very sore the next day (and hopefully in all the right places). Number three, you will absolutely have to use lower weights, but Number Four, don’t worry about that because after a month of doing this you will make monster gains in both your muscle size and strength.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Please give it a try and I’d really welcome your comments and thoughts once you have done it. if you enjoy the article please share, comment, like etc etc blah blah.

Take Care,

John

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How Eggs can help you lose Flab!!

Hi Everyone,

If you’ve read some of my blogs and posts before you will know that generally speaking I am very anti diet. As I explain here , in the long term I just don’t think they work. You can’t live “on a diet” forever  and inevitably at some point you will fall off the wagon. Much better, in my opinion, to change your eating habits for the long term and move to a more sustainable healthy eating plan where you eat well for the most part, but also allow yourself some treats and to misbehave on a regular basis. Read on to lose flab quickly and easily.

However I am now going to show myself up to be a complete hyprocrite and admit….I’m on a diet!! Let me explain. I am currently training really hard, hitting the gym 5 days a week, and trying to build muscle size AND stay lean at the same time (an impossible goal many would argue). However , despite my hard work both in the gym and trying to eat pretty well, I still have some stubborn flab around my lower belly, love handles and lower back. The classic slightly soft mid section of a guy in his late 40’s to be honest. Don’t get me wrong, I am being hyper critical of myself, but then again I am a vain bastard and summer is coming, what can I say.

So I wanted a diet/eating plan that would allow me to maintain my size, contained plenty of protein for ongoing muscle growth AND would hopefully help me shift some flab and fat.

So whilst looking around I stumbled across “The boiled egg diet”. It sounds horrific I know, but it’s not as bad as it sounds. For me it ticked all the boxes. Lots of protein, lots of good fats, very few (if any starchy carbs) but also lots of good carbs and fibre from Vegetables and fruit. Would this help me maintain muscle and lose some flab?

I’m well aware that in some circles eggs have a bad reputation. Too high in fat! Too much Cholesterol! The risk of illness etc!

However, from all the research I have done eggs are an extremely healthy food as they contain lots of protein and numerous nutrients. Eggs provide the necessary vitamins and nutrients for our bodies.

Eggs contain a lot of nutrients, high-quality protein, good fats, minerals and vitamins. One egg is rich in Selenium, vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin B5 and Vitamin B12. They also contain minerals and vitamins such as Folate, vitamin E, potassium, calcium, manganese, zinc and iron.

One large egg contains small amounts of carbohydrates, five grams of fat, six grams of quality protein and 77 calories. It is really important to mention that the white contains all the protein, while all the healthy nutrients are in the yolk.

The plan is to do it for just two weeks. Potentially just lose a few pounds, strip as much fat as possible and still ,as much as I can, maintain muscle size. I’ve been doing it for a week now. The diet is below. Take a look and I’ll give you my impressions of it after that.

The Diet:

Week 1:

Monday: Breakfast: two boiled eggs and fruit Lunch: two slices of meal bread and fruit Dinner: cooked chicken and salad

Tuesday: Breakfast: two boiled eggs and fruit Lunch: cooked chicken and green salad Dinner: orange, salad and two boiled eggs

Wednesday: Breakfast: two boiled eggs and fruit Lunch: one tomato, one slice of meal bread and low fat cheese Dinner: cooked chicken and salad

Thursday: Breakfast: two boiled eggs and fruit Lunch: fruit Dinner: streamed chicken

Friday: Breakfast: two boiled eggs Lunch: two boiled eggs and steamed vegetables Dinner: barbecued fish and salad

Saturday: Breakfast: two boiled eggs Lunch: fruit Dinner: steamed chicken and salad

Sunday: Breakfast: two boiled eggs and fruit Lunch: tomato salad and steamed vegetables with chicken Dinner: streamed vegetables

Week 2:

Monday: Breakfast: two boiled eggs Lunch: salad and chicken Dinner: orange, salad and two boiled eggs

Tuesday: Breakfast: two boiled eggs Lunch: salad and chicken Dinner: orange, salad and two boiled eggs

Wednesday: Breakfast: two boiled eggs and fruit Lunch: cooked chicken and salad Dinner: orange, salad and two boiled eggs

Thursday: Breakfast: two boiled eggs and fruit Lunch: steamed vegetables, two boiled eggs and low fat cheese Dinner: steamed chicken and salad

Friday: Breakfast:  two boiled eggs and fruit Lunch: tuna salad Dinner: two boiled eggs and salad

Saturday: Breakfast: two boiled eggs and fruit Lunch: cooked chicken and salad Dinner: fruits

Sunday: Breakfast: two boiled eggs Lunch and Dinner: steamed vegetables and steamed chicken

So here we are, at the end of week one, and what do I think?  Well firstly, not to state the obvious, I’m sick to bloody death of eggs!! However I can live with that part and there is only another week to go.

In terms of more constructive criticism…here goes. The effect has not been incredible but I’m fairly pleased. Mainly because I seem to be hitting the main goals. I haven’t noticeably lost any muscle size or definition but I HAVE lost about 2 pounds in weight and thankfully that seems to have mostly been in my target area around my midriff and belly. It isn’t dramatic but it is noticeable and strangely, even though I only look slightly slimmer, I really feel different. I just feel leaner, a bit more taught, tighter in the areas I wanted to tighten up. Now that may just be psychological and we will see where we are in another week, but for now it seems to be working.

Other side effects are also positive. The massive cutback on anything sugary and complete cut out of alcohol has me feeling more alert, staying awake later, but sleeping better. I’m also smashing my gym workouts for the last week.

So is there any downside?  Well Yes… I must admit to finding it pretty boring. Eggs, fruit, steamed veg and plain chicken is torture to a man who craves flavour and loves his food. However I’m adding garlic, chilli and ginger to just about everything and that has improved things.

The other definite drawback is that the eggs, whilst not creating the expected eggy fart environment 24/7, are causing some bad breath issues sometimes. The eggs seem to have the effect of drying your mouth out a bit and that creates a sort of sour feeling. I’ve found that if you just drink even more water AND clean your teeth an extra time mid day, it goes away.

So, if like me, you want to still build muscle, cut the flab AND eat healthy then after week 1 I would definitely recommend the boiled egg diet. For me it’s something I may do for 2 weeks every 3 months or so just to strip some unwanted fat.

Having said all that, I am dreaming of next Tuesday when I’ve promised myself a “bad” day and when I sure as hell won’t be boiling any eggs.

Take Care,

John

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Ordinary Guy Products!!! With a Discount

Hi Everybody,

What feels like months ago I promised you the opportunity to start to buy recommended fitness products with discounts from the retail price. Well after a lot more work than I anticipated I am very proud to say that the first product is now available on Amazon.

Please click the following Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01KQAWUU6

All of my readers and subscribers can get a discount on the products by simply entering the discount promotion code OGSALE01 at point of purchase.

The first product for sale is a full set of my own Ordinary Guy Fitness branded Exercise Bands. These are perfect for people who want to work out from home, use in hotel rooms when they travel, take to work or simply don’t want to go to a Gym. They offer a varied range of resistance and can replicate virtually all of the exercises that you can do using normal gym equipment. Below is a short video that I posted previously showing some of their uses and exercises that you can do.

I do have a small favour to ask. In order to continue to offer products at discount I need to sell reasonable volumes and to do that I need some good reviews. So If you use the products and are pleased with them then I’d be extremely grateful if you could leave a positive review on Amazon (This especially applies to my family and friends….i know where you live). Of course if you aren’t happy with them for any reason then please go through the usual return process with Amazon and make sure you let me know so that I can sort the issue out.

In the meantime, I really hope you find them useful and over the coming months there will be more products to follow.

Take Care,

John

PS: If any of the links don’t work or you can’t access the product please let me know asap.

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Go Basic to IGNITE Muscle growth!!

muscle-mass-ignition_logoI was driving to the gym this morning and was just a bit stuck……..what was I going to do today? When you go 4/5 times a week as I do , even for the most committed trainer, there are days when you just fancy a change. It’s very easy to become stuck in a bit of a rut and just do the same things day after day. There are two big problems with this. Firstly, from a physical perspective, there comes a time when the exercises just stop working. Your body is an incredible machine and adapts very quickly. If you do the same workouts week after week then within 2 to 3 months your body will adapt, recognise what’s coming and just stop responding. Growth slows down and you hit what is known as a training plateau.

The second problem is that you become mentally stale. It becomes the same old same old, and when that happens, much as you might try to kid yourself, you just stop working so hard. Less effort, less intensity equals less response, less growth, less fitness.

So as I looked out of the window at the first really wet morning of the Autumn, it came to me. I’m going to do what I haven’t done for far too long and really go back to basics. What do I mean by that?

The Basics:

Well it really is as simple as it sounds. When you first start out in weight training or body building you learn about the main Compound Lifts. These are the big exercises that typically work multiple muscle sets and multiple joints at once. When you are starting out the idea is normally to do something like a full body workout comprising of about 3 to 4 sets of 5 or 6 exercises, and do that 3 times a week. When you do that your body initially responds at an amazing rate. You get stronger and fitter very quickly and you train your muscles, tendons, joints and nerves to cope with lifting heavy weights.

But then what happens?? Well, we all become experts. We believe we have moved beyond all “that basic stuff” and can really start to specialise. We start trying to isolate tiny little muscle groups and to hone our physique, with the net result that by neglecting the basics we unwittingly stall our own progress.

So today I decided to change that. I was going to go back to basics, and not only that but twice a week for at least the next month I’m going to hammer those basic exercises and try to really ignite a fire under my muscle growth AND my strength.

You may be asking WHY these basic exercises work so well and there are a number of reasons. Firstly they are bigger body part exercises which enable you to lift and shift heavier poundages. Heavier weights leads to more muscle, it’s a pretty unavoidable conclusion. Secondly the effort of doing these “all body” type exercises and lifting heavier weights shocks your body into action. It forces the body to react and one of the ways it does this is to release chemicals and endorphins into your body, a couple of which are HGH (Human growth hormone) and Testosterone. I won’t bore you with the science but if you want to become bigger and stronger then both of these are essential ingredients. As you get older your body naturally produces less of these and the best way to stimulate their production is to hit some big compound exercises on a regular basis. More of these in your system combined with eating right WILL grow your muscles.

The final big plus point is that doing this sort of workout not only fires up your muscle growth but it also fires up your metabolism. Hitting a heavy, all body workout, especially if you don’t rest for too long between sets ignites your metabolism and keeps it burning for many hours after you finish training….net result, you burn more calories, lose fat and lose weight. So to capture what I’ve just said in one short paragraph.

Include a full body compound lift routine into your workouts on a regular basis. It will fuel fantastic muscle growth, make you stronger AND help to burn more fat. What’s not to love?

So without further ado here is what I did today.

  • Squats – about 7 sets. Starting with a warm up set of 15 reps with just the 20kg bar. Then a set of 12 with 60kg, set of 10 with 80kg, 2 sets of 6 with 90kg and then finished with 2 more sets of 10 with 60kg
  • Bench Press – 8 sets. Warm up of 15 reps with the 20kg bar. 2 sets of 10 with 60kg, 2 sets of 6 with 70kg, 1 set of 4 with 80kg and back down to 1 set of 10 with 60kg and 1 set of 15 with 40 kg.
  • Deadlifts – I have a knackered lower back so have to be very careful with these, so kept it much lighter than I am able to lift and concentrated on great form. I also incorporated a shrug at the top. Did a simple 6 sets of 8 with 50kg (Yes i know that is baby weights!!)
  • Pull Ups – This is really simple, just aimed to do 50 in as short a time as possible. Didn’t keep too much track of sets but it ended up being something like 10, 8, 8, 6, 6, 6, 4, 2. Sounds easy but I’m not great at these and it killed me.
  • Military Press – Again I’m not great at these as have a weak left shoulder so again concentrated on good form. 5 sets of 10 with 40kg.

That was it, job done. I threw in 3 planks just to do a little Ab work (although these get heavily used for stability during compound lifts) and walked out of the door feeling like a born again caveman!!

untitledNot only that but it was fun (although I’m feeling it already and trying to get up the stairs was more difficult than it should have been). I really enjoyed it and as I said at the top I’m going to throw this in twice a week for a month and see what happens. Try it. It really works. If you are like me and have been training for a long time it is really easy to forget about the basics. Go back to some big heavy compound lifts and a proper full body routine on a regular basis and you will definitely notice great results and great muscle growth.

Take Care

John

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Winter is the time to transform your body!!

summer-winter-bodiesWe all train and try to keep fit for a variety of different reasons: Health, weight loss, sport, to achieve a goal or simply for enjoyment. However one thing I think very few of us would deny is that we all like to look good, or as good as possible. That is especially the case as we move into summer. When the tree’s start to bloom, the sky brightens and the weather gets a bit warmer every lady I know swaps from winter wardrobe to summer wardrobe………often involving hours of deliberation and a great deal of standing in front of mirrors muttering to themselves.

It’s not just the ladies, us guys, or at least the vain ones like me, break out the t-shirts and shirts, and then stand side on to the mirror patting our guts and saying “I really must do something about this beer belly”.

Winter Training:

However what so many people fail to realise is that by then it is almost certainly too late, or is going to take an incredible amount of hard work and self discipline to really make the changes you want in time to hit the beaches in great bikini shape for July/August.

There are a few points I would make here. Firstly so many people see fitness, weight and shape control as exactly what I’ve just described……a summer sport if you like. Something not to be thought about too much when the days are cold and nights are dark. Then panic sets in as soon as spring comes. Well it’s pretty clear that that is the wrong way to approach things. Rather than crash diets and crash fitness plans it’s far better to take a much more year round, lifestyle and holistic approach. In previous articles here and here I talked about why continually going on seasonal or crash diets don’t work and how by being consistent over the long term you can achieve amazing effects AND still lead a fun and treat filled life.

Secondly, by leaving things late you will have to work much harder, physically punish yourself much more and also be much more rigid in your eating plan. If you have any significant weight or fat to lose or intend to build any real noticeable muscle, then trying to do that in 8-12 weeks is so much more difficult than doing it over a 6 month period. By going more slowly you can gradually shed the weight, still eat healthily but also still allow yourself the odd blowout. You can also work more effectively on your fitness regime as you will have more time to build in both cardio and metabolic training to help you shed the pounds or kilo’s, as well as time for muscle building and toning to give your body the shape you want.

winter-weight-trainingFinally, most people have more time in the winter. There are less BBQ’s to attend, holidays to go on, sunny evenings with friends and a bit less temptation to drive you off course. Even as a committed fitness fan I freely admit that when it is a sunny Sunday afternoon in the garden all I really want to do is crack open a couple of beers or get stuck into a nice chilled bottle of white wine, often washed down with some fattening snacks. In winter there is less cause to dress in your finery and go socialising and more chance to dig out the old tracksuits, set yourself some targets and warm yourself up by working hard. Then by Summer you can emerge like a Phoenix from the flames with a brand new set of feathers and looking magnificent (well that’s the plan at least).

So how should you go about this. Firstly you should spend five minutes giving some thought to and ideally writing down your goals. It could be as simple as “I want to fit in those skinny jeans that used to fit me”, or “I want to lose 20 lbs in weight”, or it could be something much more specific like I want to be able to run 5 miles and have built my shoulder, chest and arm muscles up significantly.

Then you simply break that down into workable and mouthful sized pieces. So if you want to lose 20lb in weight, that’s roughly 3.5 lb a month or just under 1lb a week. Believe me with some dietary changes and an increase in your exercise that is achievable for anyone over 6 months but would be far more difficult if not impossible in 8 weeks. Similarly if you hit the weights fairly hard in a structured programme, throw in some cardio and also make some changes in what you eat, then you can really transform your build and musculature over 6 months, much more so than you can do in 8-12 weeks.

The final and fun benefit of training hard in the winter is that it is hidden. Just think how you’ll feel Ladies on that first sunny weekend (about the end of June if you live in England) when you finally shed the heavy jumpers and wear a sleeveless blouse for the first time and all your friends gasp at how you have traded in your batwings for svelte and toned arms…….it can be done. So what you really need to do, as with almost everything I advise is change your mind set. It’s September now, the dark days are coming (if you’re in the northern hemisphere at least). Plan ahead. Picture how you want to look and feel by May/June next year and put your plan into practice now. Summer bodies are built in Winter so this Winter make it count!!

rocky-balboa-winter-training

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Join The Band to Build Muscles & Get Fit!

Don’t panic, we’re not talking music here (I’m tone deaf). We are talking about what i rate as the single best piece of home workout equipment you can buy. Watch the video, read the article and scroll right down to the bottom for some exciting news!!

Resistance Bands:

So what exactly are resistance bands and why do i rate them so highly? They are simply a set of latex tubes that come with handles, feet and door attachment. Usually they come in a set with 5 different colour tubes or bands and each has different resistance levels. By attaching all 5 bands you can really ramp up the weight/resistance to some quite high levels. I wrote in a previous article about these and some other pieces of essential home equipment but to me these are top of the list.

Why? Well because they are just so versatile. You can replicate probably 80% of the exercise’s that you can do in even the most well equipped Gym with just one piece of equipment that fits in a drawer. You can take it on holiday or business trips with you. They work equally effectively for beginners or for pretty serious trainers who are looking to build solid muscle. Resistance bands are also a little more forgiving on muscles, joints and tendons for those that have injuries or those who are perhaps getting on in years slightly. They are also perfect for ladies that either don’t want to go to the Gym or have busy lives with kids etc and want something they can do at home for 20 minutes a day.

They take a little getting used to and certainly a bit of experimentation to find the angles and exercises that work best for you, and that target the muscles that you want to target. However with a little practise you will find that you can work Shoulders, Chest, Biceps, Triceps and your entire back very easily. Working those leg muscles and Abs are a little more complex but still perfectly possibly.

Now i know that there are a load of guys out there shaking their heads and saying “resistance bands?? Really? They are for wimps!”  To a degree I can’t argue with that. If you are an advanced body builder or weight lifter then resistance bands cannot replace going to a gym and just shifting a shedload of heavy weights. If you are really trying to build massive muscles then resistance bands are not going to do it for you. However this blog is called Ordinary Guy Fitness and it aims to cater to the majority of people who want to get fit, lead healthier lifestyles and definitely tone up and build some muscle. For that aim these are perfect.

An additional, and for many people an essential benefit, is also the cost. Gym memberships generally speaking are expensive. Exercise classes are expensive and any sort of personal trainer is definitely expensive. I’m not putting you off of any of those things as I use or have used all of them, but many people are no fortunate enough to have the spare cash and in those cases a one of payment of maybe £20 or $25/27 is a very inexpensive way to buy a piece of equipment that can help you get fit and build some muscle.

If you want some tips on how to use the bands or incorporate them into your existing workout programme then drop me an email or comment and I’ll do my best to respond.

That’s it for this article. I will make it a mission to do my own video showing as many different band exercise’s as possible in the near future.

However at the top I promised you some exciting news. A couple of weeks ago in this blog post I talked about Ordinary Guy Fitness possibly offering some products that will help with your fitness, health and training goals. Well in a couple of weeks the first couple of products will be rolling off the production line and will be available on Amazon with Ordinary Guy Fitness branding and guarantee. Not only that but the very first products available will be Ordinary Guy Fitness Resistance Bands. Not only that but readers and subscribers to this blog , the Facebook page or my Twitter page will be given their very own discount codes that will not be available elsewhere. Make sure you don’t miss out. Go to the home page and subscribe to my email list now to make sure you don’t miss future posts and the release date.

Take Care,

John