To visit the Vegan Bodybuilding website click here

Sunday, 30 October 2011

West Midlands Vegan Festival 2011

I've done a full write-up of our day on the VBB website so simply click here to read about the full adventure!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

REVIEW: B-extreme DVD

This video had a lot of moves on it, it showed versions of many dips, pull-ups, flag variations & other bodyweight exercises all performed out doors in a park playground.  It did stop & show you a few moves.  Four moves to be precise; the push-up, the pull-up, the dip & the incredible (a form of muscle-up).  The DVD also gave you a taster of the warm-up they do before they start training, but most of the DVD was clips of moves.
To be honest this was not the sort of video I like.  When there are fancy moves I want to see progressions, how did the person get from a basic dip to a fancy swinging round the bar with a flip style of dip.  Obviously they didn't just master the basic dip, then rush off & do the fancier moves, they progressed slowly from one move to the next, & it is this progression that actually interests me most.  I'm sure people already into this 'playground training' idea will find some useful additions on this video, some ideas to try out & experiment  with, but for a beginners I can see problems as they have no way of moving from level one to master, they don't supply a plan of attack.

The DVD had a lot going for it.  The camera usage & the way it was edited was good, it really gave a 'street' feel to the production, I also did think the music worked ok (although I'm more a metal head myself), but I think what it did lack was a decent progressive system.  Maybe that was not what the video was aimed at providing, it was more a motivational piece, but in this era of youtube you get find motivation easily, but decent instruction is still a rare thing & something I hunt for everyday.
So, if you're after a motivational video with some quite fancy bodyweight moves being done on everyday playground equipment, then this will be a great buy, but if you're looking for progressive training on how to achieve those fancy moves, then this may not be the place to look.

To get hold of B-extreme Click here

Training as play

Here's an important point that many, many trainees & trainers miss.  For the short term anything goes, if you have to drop a dress size in the next four weeks for a special day, then yes working at things you may not like is fine.  However, if your goal is long term training, with long term results (& it should be), then what you're doing must be fun for you!

Look into the average gym & what do you see?  You see lines of cardio machines with TVs or other things to distract you from what you are doing, why?  Let's be honest trotting along on a treadmill is boring, we nearly all hate it (obviously women like Robyn Flores are the exception here as she chooses to do 24 hour treadmill runs!). 

For long term gains you need to find something you like doing & are actually willing to program into your life.  There are so many options, from Olympic to power lifting, from bodyweight callisthenics (which can be very challenging), through to swimming, biking or jogging.  You can have the best exercise in the world, but if you aren't enjoying doing it, then you simply will not stick to it, so find something that fits you.

Here's an example of what I mean.  Think of something you did as a child that was hard, it could have been learning a handstand, riding a bike, learning to whistle with your fingers.  There must have been something that you found really hard & so decided to shut the door, or go into the garden (whatever) & stick at it until you mastered the skill?  Maybe it took you a few days work, maybe a month?  Even if it took just a few hours, what you did was hard work, just because you wanted to get that was FUN to do, even though it was hard to do.  Training should be like that, often it's pretty simple, but it shouldn't be easy.  That's a pair of terms that confuse people.  'Simple' & 'easy'.  No, you can't get the body of a Greek god(ess) with 5 minutes on the latest infomercial piece of junk, no it won't be easy to lose your fat, no it won't be easy to add that muscle.  What it can be is simple, but to stick at it, then you have to find something you actually like doing.

Hence I think workouts should be play.  Look at a bunch of guys powerlifting, sure they are loud, rude & kind of competitive, but you will soon see they are are actually having fun!  The same can be said with many athletes, making the workout fun is a vital attribute to achieving compliance from a trainee.  If a type of training, no matter how good, bores a trainee, then they will find every way under the sun to avoid doing it, but if you can find something a trainee finds fun, then you've got a consistently training person & so they will be much more likely to achieve their goals.

So, my advice is to find a type of training you enjoy to do & find a challenge.  This is not an excuse to go easy on yourself, it should actually be a way to make you work harder, as reaching new heights in your chosen training arena should become the challenge.

Keep training fun & you should keep coming back for more!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

REVIEW: Staley/Pavel Strength seminar

This is a seminar from 2006, but I only got the chance to see it recently. It's a pretty expensive buy from the US, but a friend found a cheap copy in Oz & so I finally had a chance to see this 2 DVD set.

If you've got any interest in training & are vegan or veggie you may not like Charles Staley's nutritional view. When he was with Iron radio he was a member of PETA (Please Eat The Animals, not the other one) & some of his more controversial out bursts may have tainted your view on him. That being said, I'd suggest you open your mind his training views.  His 'big idea' EDT (escalating density training) is a very useful way to train many clients (or yourself) if you are looking for physique changes. The basic premise is pretty simple, so as an example lets take a kettlebell snatch (as that was used in the seminar), you do sets of 5 for fifteen minutes, once you can no longer do sets of 5, drop to sets of 4, then set of 3 when you can no longer do 4, down to sets of 1 rep if you have to. You rest as much as you need between sets, but stop at 15 minutes. The idea is to do more reps each time you repeat that 15 minute workout over the weeks. Obviously there's a lot more to it than that, but that is the framework. You must keep the form tight, but that's really it, doing more in a set time frame. He also teaches Olympic lifting (I will be reviewing another Staley seminar, this time on Olympic lifting quite soon). Staley is a clear speaker & has quite a few training ideas you might find useful...I just wouldn't ask him any nutritional advice or he might annoy you a bit!

Pavel Tsatsouline (generally just called Pavel) is someone who knows movement. He's best known for kettlebells, but he's worked with powerlifters, sports people, fighters etc., basically everyone out there. He does have 'his style' which is stories about Russia & thankfully doesn't use the whole 'comrade' term as much as he used to (I find it a little off-putting). He has some very insightful thoughts on training & fixing training issues (I wish I was as fast, for me I often have to sit down & think about things before an answer comes to me). Some of the ideas like "Same but different", that is instead of doing a whole pile of different exercises find a few & try variation. So, using deadlift as an example, you could do conventional deadlift, sumo, rack pulls, standing on blocks, using bands or chains, using a trap bar, using a Jefferson lift or hack deadlift (I didn't even think of the last 2 myself & I've thought about deadlift a little!) can improve your lift, as they work the same motor pathways, but are different, so SAME motor patheways, DIFFERENT exact movement, so you will continue to improve, without risking overuse & not risk boredom either, the important point is not to pick just any movement, but one that works a weak point in your lift. Even hand position (for example a snatch grip), or foot position (sumo, conventional, close stance) also can be used just to make things a little different & so you can reap rewards.

There was a lot in this seminar. I will be watching it again I suspect as it was an information dense product. I enjoyed it quite a lot & learnt quite a few things I can put into practice in the near future.

You can get hold of the seminar at Dragon door (or you can do like mate & search about for a cheaper copy as they are out there).

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

REVIEW: The Naked Warrior by Pavel Tsatsouline

I read this book in a day! That’s not because it’s especially short, but it was a compulsive read! I’ll start with the one annoying feature. Pavel’s sales pitch is being ‘the Russian’, so selling to the American market, he uses words like ‘Comrade’, & has phases like ‘the Party line’, a play on the old USSR communist ideology (which was actually about as communist as ex-British Prime Minister Margret Thatcher!), but I digress. Yes, he does do a lot of that ‘commi-talk’ which I don’t enjoy really & actually made me take him less seriously than I should have for a long time.

With that said on with the book. The idea sounds almost overly simple. Take 2 bodyweight exercises & focus on those to build strength. In this case he uses the one arm push-up & the pistol (a pistol is a one leg squat with the non-working leg stuck out in front – you kind of look like a pistol, hence the name). This doesn’t sound like it would be a very long book, nor would that many find that interesting (unless you want to do those specific moves), but it’s actually not about those moves as such! What it’s actually about is how to display strength using various techniques of breathing, body tension & movement cues. This is why this book will work for many athletes, whether they are weightlifters, powerlifters, athletes or fighters. Yes, you are learning 2 movements in this book, but you can apply this knowledge to ANY lift & many athletic endeavours (any that require strength). It is a technique book, not an exercise book & so the rules found in here can be applied to a whole range of strength-related activities.

I read convict conditioning only the other day & this is another bodyweight book – in this case whereas Paul Wade was against the use of external load at all, Pavel has the view that you can & probably should mix both weights & bodyweight to get the best of both. I think I agree with this idea. Also Pavel is focussed upon building strength for the word go with low rep work, Wade starts with more high rep & works towards strength, a view that Pavel thinks is incorrect ‘you can’t build strength from muscular endurance exercises’ sums up Pavel’s view of training. I do tend to side more with Pavel than Wade on this, but that is purely my personal preference rather than absolute knowledge. I know that harder low rep stuff is more exciting to me than pumping out 50 reps of something, so accept I am biased & I do know some people who can do both high reps & high strength moves (like many push-ups & some strict one arm push-ups), but did one build the other or did they learn one, then learn the other? I’m not sure?

So, if what you are after is learning a one arm push-up (or you could even try the one arm/one leg push-up) & the pistol (with bodyweight or weighted both are covered) then this book will be for you. If you want to learn some of the tricks that allow you to display maximum strength in your sport then this will be the book for you.

The book is called the ‘Naked Warrior’, so it is saying you can do it anywhere, anytime & need no equipment, but given the choice I would have added the one arm chin-up to the mix. I know that ruins the whole ‘no equipment’ rule as you need something to chin from, but then you’d have a more rounded out program in my view. That is the ‘big 3’ of the bodyweight world, yes, there are harder exercises, but everyone understands that a one arm chin is hard, a one arm push-up is hard & a pistol is hard, if you can do them with good form then you have got to be considered ‘strong’ by any honest standard of strength. Hence I think you are missing something without the hard pull that a one arm chin-up gives you. That is my only gripe really, I’d have included that as well.

I did enjoy the book (barring the whole ‘comrade’ stuff I mentioned at first), as I said I read it in one day & found it a clear guide to some techniques we can all include into our training whatever our field.

That’s about it, it’s a good read, it’s useful & you will probably learn a trick or 2 that will increase your strength if you add them in to your training.

If you're interested in the book you can pop over to dragondoor & get yourself a copy.