Matthew Knight @elite_physique

6 pack mistake!

Crunches, sit-ups, Swiss ball, ab bench, roman chair, ab roller, hanging leg raises…. The list of abdominal exercises is endless but which exercises are best and what will a bad abdominal programme do to your physique? One of my personal pet peeves is watching a personal trainer getting their client to do crunches or sit-ups whilst they hold on to their feet!!! (Drives me mad!) Let’s take a closer look at the function of the abdominals and the hip flexor muscles. The abdominal muscles are a sheet of muscle divided by lines of fascia originating from the lower portion of the rib cage and inserting on the front of the pelvis. This alone indicates that the function of the abdominal muscles contract to bring the chest towards your pelvis by flexing of the spine and rounding the back. The hip flexor muscles originate on the inside back wall of the pelvis and insert on the front of the femur (upper leg bone), therefore their function is to bring the upper body towards the legs. So…….. When your feet are held down by a trainers hands or stuck under something to prevent their movement this will automatically cause you to pull against the resistance applied & activate the hip flexors to be the prime movers. The abs will then become the synergist muscle, supporting & stabilising the spine during the movement of lifting the torso. But you don’t want the hip flexors to be the prime mover when doing an abs workout, you want your abs to be! So…… Do not hook your feet under anything (especially your trainers hands) your feet should be comfortably placed on the floor and you should curve your spine, rounding your back bringing your shoulders off the floor. According to ECG results the exercise that stimulates the most amount of muscle fibre is leg raises in a hanging position. BUT you need a certain amount of abdominal strength to do this. If you’re new to ab training I would recommend you start from the floor and work your way up.

How to lose fat, your choices.

Ok so you want to burn some fat and you have already sensibly cleaned up your diet, ditched the junk for more intelligent choices & have been exercising for a few weeks. Now that fat loss has stalled what next?

Well if you are doing all of the above consistently and not lying to yourself you have a few choices to make:

Reduce calories

Eliminate carbs

Switch fuels (take carbs out your diet & replace with protein and fat)

Start or increase cardio

Start or increase the frequency of workouts

Increase the length of your workouts

Take fat burners

Hire a specialist

I will go into a little bit of detail on these choices bellow but after saying, DO ONE THING AT A TIME. Everything you can do to burn fat is a tool, if you use all the tools in your box at one time what are you left with if you plateau? Endless cardio sessions? Even less food?? Pick one thing, stick with it then make a sensible choice on the next step.

Reduce calories

Reducing calories would be a good place to start if you are already eating ‘clean,’ consistently and exercising at least 4 times a week, but don’t go overboard, a small drop of 100-200 calories from your daily intake would be a great place to start, see what happens than make further adjustments.

Eliminate carbs

Never ever ever eeeeeeever eliminate carbs without replacing at least some of the deficit with other macronutrients (fats & proteins) for more than 3 days. Yes you can spend time depleting the body of carbohydrates which can take around 3 days (body size dependant) forcing the body to use fat but you will need to follow that with a period of over eating to replenish your stores. This can actually be a fantastic way of dropping body fat fast but I would suggest you get some guidance on carb and calorie cycling from a specialist before you begin this method.

Switch fuels (take carbs out your diet & replace with protein and fat)

An awesome way of ensuring fat is the fuel source you use day to day is by eliminating carbs from your diet (restricting you intake just to fibrous green veg) and replacing the deficit in calories with more fat and protein. Using fat and protein as fuel is a good way to utilise your own stores of body fat (belly and bingo wings) but this energy conversion system isn’t efficient and will require you to ingest carbohydrates at some point. The leaner you are the more frequently you can handle carbs. If you can’t see your abs start off with 7-14 days zero carbs. If you have never seen your abs and they are very well hidden under body fat you can probably spend longer without carbs.

Start or increase cardio

Increasing the body’s fuel usage is another awesome way to use some more calories and working at a low intensity will ensure that your body is utilising fat as its main fuel source. When doing low intensity steady state cardio you should aim to get a good sweat and be able to hold a conversation but be slightly breathless. Start with one session a week of 30minutes, see what happens, increase the session to 40-50 minutes then think about doing more than one session a week. These increases in work should be slow and I would recommend you do your cardio separately to you weights sessions.

Start or increase the frequency of workouts

Training more often can be a great way to burn even more calories as your body fat gets lower and lower. Even going up to twice a day training is something usually utilised by someone trying to get to single digit body fat percentages (photo shoot or physique show). But caution must be adhered as the more often you train, the more calories you will require and the closer eye you will need to keep on your recovery. More training equals more stress and if you are already displaying signs of stress or over training (disrupted sleeping patterns, altered mood, drop in libido etc.) it would be advised that you back off and rest more or fat loss with be reversed.

Increase the length of your workouts

60 minutes is the limit. You may think longer workouts equate to more fat burn, but there is a trade-off. If you train longer than an hour cortisol production goes up and up and starts breaking down more and more muscle. Get a high intensity hour done with limited rest periods.

Take fat burners

Drinking a black coffee pre workout can have the same effect as investing in expensive fat burners and pre-workout powders. All a fat burner does is accelerate your metabolism so you burn calories slightly quicker, but what about the trade off? You will experience a crash from synthetic forms of caffeine and the amount of stress they put on your adrenals can leave you burnt out and do more harm than good long term. I would only ever use these as a last resort when you have completely exhausted all other options (not yourself).

Hire a physique specialist

Someone that specialises in getting fast results in changing someone’s body shape would be a great choice if you are seriously committed to transforming your own physique. Pick someone with a proven track record of results & a wealth of knowledge and experience is a sure fire way to take the confusion out of dieting. You can trial my services here for free…

What is toning up?

From conducting thousands of consultations for a massive range of clientele over the years there is one statement that has been and will continue to be a staple of ‘a lot’ of people’s goals, that is ‘I want to tone up.’ If I had a pound for every time I heard this statement I would be a richer man. Another phrase I hear is ‘I want to tone up but I don’t want to lose weight’..?? So there seems to be some confusion as to what toning up & muscle tone is.

A muscle fibre is made up of two main parts; sarcoplasm & myofibrils.

Simplified; Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy occurs when the sarcoplasm (the fluid between the fibres) increases, therefore increasing the overall size of the muscle. Think bodybuilder when you think of this type of physique.

Myofibril hypertrophy occurs when you multiply the number of myofibrils within the muscle fibre.

Myofibril hypertrophy will increase the density of the muscle with minimal increase in actual muscle size. This will make the muscle harder and improve muscle tone. Now you will only see this muscle tone if you are lean. So in order to ‘get toned’ you will need to strength train within a rep range between 6-8 which will lead to myofibril hypertrophy, also known as functional hypertrophy (getting stronger from the inside), increasing muscle density and reduce your body fat so that you can see your newly toned muscles.

So if you think you don’t want to lose weight to get toned this may be true, you want to shed body fat to make the muscle more visible & you want to increase the density of the muscle so in actual fact the numbers on the bathroom scales may not move at all but I guarantee your body shape will!

Don’t be afraid to train heavy! Behind every shapely contour of the body there is a strong muscle & you will look better in or out of your clothes.