Monday, 13 July 2015

Milestone Method Update

When I wrote workout programs (and more specifically diet plans) for clients professionally, the quickest way to tell that I had hit the nail on the head was if I got very little feedback. A client simply following a diet, with no major need for adjustments, no complaints that they need some higher calorie days, no grumbles that they feel restricted, are all signs that the plan fits their lifestyle well, and I stand firmly by the adage that 'the I only diet that works, is the one you can stick to'. When I contacted Milestone about help with my meal planning, I almost wanted someone to force me down a more disciplined, rigid pathway, but truth be told- the meal timings that Layne has figured out for me, keep me satisfied and fuelled 24/7, I'm feeling full, strong and vascular, which has actually made it pretty easy to make sensible food choices. Whereas before I would take advantage of my enormous energy requirements and load up on crappy carbs when I was hungry, now I find myself reaching for a piece of fruit and veg with every meal. Das is good. 

Oh, the important bit? I dropped another 2kg last week.

All that being said, I have been playing around with various carb/ protein sources and thought I'd share a few experiences with you before laying out what I'm going into this week...

I went heavy on the cottage cheese last week, it's actually an amazing food, if you get the fat/salt free version you can add sweeteners and you've pretty much got a delicious, very high protein pudding that will keep you full for a while. Unfortunately, too much casein can really mess me up and I got extremely bloated and nasal, felt pretty crappy and sluggish and ultimately, had to drop it out. If you don't suffer from any lactose issues though, I highly recommend you include cottage cheese in your diet.

My lunches last week consisted mainly of white fish fillets, sweet potato chunks, broccoli and carrot, I don't usually go in for traditional 'bodybuilding' meals like this, but to be honest this was really enjoyable and with a bit of seasoning, really palatable. I was home most nights so prepping meals like this was pretty easy, it all went in the microwave bar the sweet potato so knocking a lunch up at 10/11pm wasn't too much of a chore. Would definitely recommend.

Here's what an average day looked like last week for anyone who's interested...

0415- thermos (I use grenade)
0530- Coffee or monster zero
1000- 300g fat free cottage cheese
1300- 200g white fish fillets, sweet potato, broccoli, carrot
1800- Grenade
1900- bagel and sliced turkey
2000(ish, sometimes later)- Peri-workout shake, whey and sugars
PWO- Whey and bananas
DINNER- Varied so I could eat with my girlfriend, a protein source and low GI carbs ie. Smoked salmon and eggs with wholemeal toast and a leafy salad.
BEFORE BED- 300g cottage cheese

It's quite a lot of food, but I have a high daily energy expenditure, so it's all fuel for the furnace. If you've got your own macros figured out you could just play with the portion sizes if you want to do something similar.

A dedication to the oats.

I'm away working for the next two weeks, so meal prep is going to have to go nomad once again. As beautiful as it is, the site I'm on has zero facilities, not even running water. I thought I'd take this opportunity to try switching to oats as my primary carb source, as I know I get on well with them, I've got a 12v kettle for work and stocked up on large 'just add hot water' porridge pots.  I'll be adding fruit and veg at every meal still to get my micronutrients in but to honest, if I'm ever feeling run down in the winter, the first thing I reach for is a big bowl of porridge, powerful stuff. Must be the Celtic blood in these veins.

So moving forward, here's what this week (possibly two) has in store-

0500- thermos
0700- coffee or monster zero
1000- 70g oats, whey, fruit
1300- 70g oats, whey, fruit
Preworkout- 70g oats, fruit
During/ Post workout- Whey and simple carb shake (mixed to about 1litre, will sip throughout workout then finish after).
Dinner- (will vary) Tuna, wholemeal pitta, salad, avocado.
Before bed- 20g casein

Obviously in print, it looks pretty boring but to be honest, I'm going to be so busy it won't bother me. If I was home I would adjust it a touch to include a social lunch or breakfast, but I'm making lemonade out of lemons here being away for a few weeks.

Head over to IG if you've got any questions/ feedback and be sure to hit up Milestone for your own meal plan, couldn't possibly recommend them any more.



Sunday, 5 July 2015


Another week, another fat loss and conditioning workout for you to add to your nomad toolbox. Like previous posts, this can be used as a dicey finisher to polish off your usual weights workout and ramp up the calorie burn, or it can be used as a standalone session to illicit a fat torching, lung burning, oxygen consuming effect.

The premise

I occasionally enjoy a medium distance run, I think everyone should have the capability to run a 20minute-ish 5k, it's a good standard to strive for and the carryover benefits of getting your body to this level of fitness will be huge.

However... Getting good at anything implies an amount of efficiency, and with efficiency comes reduced energy requirements, not really what we want when it comes to training for fat-loss/ aesthetics, in this case we want to be expending as much energy as possible to create a calorie deficit (without having to live on lettuce leaves and child sized portions). 

So how can we make ourselves less 'efficient' and induce the kind of energy output from our run that we're after? How does any journey get more difficult? We encounter obstacles...

Any one who's ever run a Tough Mudder or the likes will tell you, the constant stop/start nature of an obstacle race makes it very difficult to hit and maintain a pace, you accelerate into challenges, you're constantly trying to catch your breath coming out of them, your body struggles to adapt to the demand for different energy systems, having to shift quickly from a slow cardiovascular jog, to an all out effort of climbing, jumping, sprinting or heaving your body through space. In short, it's an energy sapping battle, that demands an astronomical calorie contribution. Exactly what we're looking for when training for body composition...

Fear not though, you don't have to find a weekly novelty race or sign up to The Royal Marines to take advantage of your body's disinclination to adapt to using multiple energy systems on the fly, we can recreate the effect in any setting; because that's what this blog is all about.

The first thing you need to do is look to the first rule of The Nomad Way; 'survey your environment', we're looking for something that you can pick up from the floor and press above your head around 5-8 times before you have to bomb it, a barbell, dumbells, kettlebells, a log, a keg, a barrel, a bag filled with sand, a rock, the possibilities are only limited by your imagination (and level of discomfort you're willing to endure to get results). 

Get yourself into a large open space where you've got at very least 50-100m of room to run in, a football pitch works well as you've got markers to ensure your distance is staying consistent as you start to tire. Set your 'weight' down, pace out 100 yards and place an item of clothing on the floor to keep yourself honest (if you are on a football pitch just start at one goal and use the opposite goal as your distance). After a light warm-up, jump straight into the following protocol.

1) Run 100m away from your weight (don't go hell for leather, but don't go easy on yourself either, around 30-40s initially should do)

2) At the 100m mark perform one burpee, keep the form solid but as soon as you're back on your feet you need to be moving again. This is just enough to break your tempo.

3) Run back to your weight at the same pace.

4) Now you're weight is going to act as an 'obstacle', breaking your pace, jacking up your heart rate, flooding your muscles with delicious lactic acid and generally giving you hell. 

You've got three 'obstacles' to get through, perform 5-10 reps of each before repeating steps 1-3. (ie perform obstacle A, run 100m, one burpee, run 100m, perform obstacle B, run 100m, one burpee, run 100m, perform obstacle C etc. Until you've performed all of the 'obstacles' three times over).

The obstacles

A) Ground to overhead- pick up your object from the floor, to your chest and press it overhead. The specifics will vary depending on your weight, just get the thing in the air.

B) Press-ups over weight- Aim for 10-15 of these, perform 1 press up with no hands on your weight, place one hand on for the next rep and both for the third, reverse then repeat this until you hit your target reps.

C) Squat- Pick your weight up and squat it, ass-to-grass for 5-10 reps, keep your form tight and don't rush these.

Get through each of these three times with the short runs in-between and the calorie burn will be huge versus the same amount of time spent running at a steady pace. Throw this in weekly, bi-weekly or even three times and it will make a serious dent in your calorie expenditure, which ultimately is the main goal of any fat-burning protocol.

Get over to Instagram and drop me a comment with any questions or just to let me know how you get on, as always; all feedback is appreciated!

Good luck!


[photo courtesy of Charles Moriarty]

Monday, 29 June 2015

Milestone Method- Week 2

Not going to be a super long one here as there's not a great deal to report, other than to say I'm losing weight hand over fist and still feeling incredible in my training and worklife.

A quick word on the psychology of dieting that I've been mulling over before I go into any specifics...

I wrote meal and training plans everyday for years when I was a trainer and it's certainly something I would consider going back into in the future, it's great because you're exposed to a lot of variables that the average  trainee isn't, you learn to overcome and adapt to more circumstances as you encounter the different lifestyle issues of your clients. However, you can begin to suffer from information overload and it can start to become difficult to remain objective when it comes to programming your own diet. That's why I sought out Milestone for help in really taking myself to the next level this summer, I wanted honest, impartial advice on what I should be doing, feeling that I would be biased towards what I want to be doing and back it up with science, ultimately not pushing myself hard enough.

One major thing I've learned about myself already, is that when I'm dieting I let myself fear carb consumption, which basically leads me to lacklustre workouts, major lethargy at work and eventually telling myself I need to 'refeed' and binging on high carb, high fat foods every 3-4 days. This has always worked for me in the past, but with the strategic carb type/timing that Layne programmed for me I've felt great all day, been feeling incredibly energetic and focussed in the gym and still losing body fat just as fast. Winning.

On the subject of energy (despite the fact I've started a new paragraph tut tut), I started wearing a Fitbit last week, on what I would call an average workday (or an easy one actually as we only erected smaller, lighter structures) I burned nearly 4000 calories. Without training. Obviously the accuracy is debatable but it's probably not far off, you can really start to put together a picture of why I need to keep my calorie consumption so high, in fact, if I worked a sedentary office job, at my current stats the calories I'm on would be bulking calories. This is why it's so important to be honest with yourself about your energy levels and program your eating accordingly. Walking your dog once a day and climbing a few flights of stairs at work does not make you 'extremely active', be realistic. 

I'm still eating according to roughly the same plan I laid out last week, although I am juggling my dinners around as I made it home most nights last week and wanted to eat good food with my girlfriend (the macros of the meal haven't changed though, unless I've missed some carbs throughout the day, then I'll catch up here). I'll post up a full day of eating here with pictures during the week as I know it's something I find incredibly interesting, it's one thing to see the macronutrient layout, but seeing it applied (for me at least) is much more useful.

Oh, importantly I'm down another 2kg this week.

Get over to my Instagram if you have any questions and make sure you check out Milestone if you want your own carefully crafted meal plan.



Snakes and Ladders.

Here we go, another super quick fat-loss/ conditioning workout that requires nothing more than the willingness to put in the work and something you can press above your head, you ready?

Take any object that you can press above your head (Dumbells, barbell, weight plate, sandbag, rock... You get the idea) around twenty times. Place it on the floor and start a stopwatch, here's the specifics...

1) Perform a burpee with your hands on the object, concentrate on your form, the bottom end should look like a neat, controlled press up, not a WWE body slam or a six year old belly flopping into a swimming pool.

2) Stand up, and use some leg and hip drive to lift the object onto your chest (if it's a barbell or dumbells it should look like a straight power clean).

3) Press the weight above head under control but explosively. Return the object to the floor, this is one rep.

On the first minute (or zero on the stopwatch) perform one. This is it, rest for the remainder of the minute, as soon as the watch hits a new minute, perform TWO reps and rest for the remainder of the minute. 

Repeat this all the way up the ladder, adding one more rep every minute until you can't get them all in within 60secs.
15 minutes worth is a good aim. 

If you're feeling particularly fit or borderline suicidal, try skipping for the remainder of the minute, I've personally hit twenty minutes like this and I had to go to a very special headspace to maintain that intensity, ultimately though, it's always worth it.

Massively simple, but incredibly difficult. 
The calorie burn and post exercise oxygen consumption on this one is huge, if you aim to get to the next rung of the ladder every time you perform this, it's a sure fire indicator that your conditioning and fitness is improving.

Throw this in as a finisher three-four times weekly to have a big impact on your calorie burn for the week, or just as a standalone that you can perform any where, for a bit of a cardiovascular hit.

Give this a try and let me know how you get on, I'll get a video up ASAP! 

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Pay The Piper

If and when I do make it to the gym, it's usually at the back end of a fiercely long day, I've probably driven a hundred miles to get there (I'm not being figurative), and I probably still have a dozen things to do before I even think about having dinner and passing out for the night. Time is the one commodity that even the best of us can't manufacture more of, that's why one of the basic tenets of The Nomad Way is that workouts have to be swift and efficient. There's often a physical cost to this, but if you pay the toll in sweat, you'll find the knock on effects worth it, so much so that some of these 'time saving' routines and techniques are worth employing even when you have hours to waste.

Here's a back workout for you to add to your toolbox. It won't take long, the warmup is built in and it's as basic as it is comprehensive. What it is however, is hard. If it doesn't kick your arse, you did it wrong. Pay the freight on this one though, the dividends are worth it.

Proper Preparation.

You'll need an Olympic bar (or equivalent) and enough weights on hand to get you to your deadlift 5 rep max, depending on your strength levels you'll either be going up in increments of 10kg or 5kg (to help illustrate, I set up the bar in a power rack with 3 x 20kg plates, 1 x 10kg and 1 x 5kg either side of the bar, prepped for a quick change). You'll also need somewhere close to do pull ups, this is why a squat/ power rack works best, if it's too far away from where you're deadlifting you'll really struggle later, choose wisely. Lastly, you'll need a timer. A watch works, just remember to keep your eyes on it, setting the stopwatch on your iPhone and placing it in front of the rack works best, just prepare to hate your phone after this. You might even develop a nervous twitch when you see those numbers ticking by.

The Protocol

Disarmingly simple. Starting with an empty bar you're going to hit start on the stopwatch and perform 5 deadlifts with good explosive form, immediately you put the bar down, perform 5 pull-ups with impeccable form, from a dead hang, until your chest touches the bar, with a slight pause at the top and bottom to ensure integrity. As soon as your feet it the ground, add 5kg per side to the bar and stand tall in the centre of the rack. Fill your lungs and watch the clock, as soon as it hits a new minute, go again. Repeat this process, every minute at the top of the minute, until you can't pull 5 reps with good form any more, if you have to drop off the bar a few times during the pull-ups then so be it, just keep the form tight and be acutely aware that as soon as that new minute rolls around you need to have more weight on the bar, because it's go time. 
If you hit your max before twenty mins, start working your way back down, if you don't max out, then you're a beast and you might want to get tested for actual bear DNA.

By the time that twentieth minute rolls around you would (should) have completed 100 deads and 100 pull-ups, I know people who don't do that much actual, legitimate graft in a month. Congratulations, you're a warrior.

This serves as a rapid fire standalone back/ pulling workout, but if you have time throw in a few assistance moves after this crucible (if you can muster up the strength). 

Yes your heart rate should be jacked up, yes you should be sweating, yes you should be struggling to grip the bar on the pull-ups, yes you might be doing them in sets of two or three just to make it through, yes you'll be grunting and people might be staring. It's called paying the price, the people that stare wish they had the balls to put in the work you're putting in, because ultimately, nothing comes for free; pay in sweat or pay I regret.

Good luck


All photos courtesy of Top Of The World London // Alex Lukita, available here and on ASOS Marketplace. 

Monday, 22 June 2015

Carved From Wood

Jason Statham is on record as saying-
'Your body's like a stick of dynamite; you can tap it with a pencil all day and you'll never make it explode. You hit it once with a hammer, BANG! 
Get serious, do forty hard minutes, not an hour and a half of nonsense.'
Now, as an actor the guy might be a bit of an arse, and I'm beginning to think his knowledge of how explosives work isn't exactly fully comprehensive... But he is definitely on to something here.

Time is about the only thing in life you don't get back once it's gone and I don't think any of us are going to look back and say 'I'm glad I plodded along on that treadmill for an hour like a Dre beats sporting hamster.'
So what I'm going to do now, is show you how to absolute smash bodyfat, build muscle and increase your fitness in less time than it takes most people to lace up their nikes.

Enter Professor Izumi Tabata, Japanese fitness wizard.
In the 90's Tabata crunched the numbers with a group of Olympic figure skaters and developed a protocol that gave his team the same results as a separate group that trained for an hour five times per week, only training four days a week... For four minutes. I'm listening...

Tabata had discovered the sweet spot was working at a super high intensity for twenty seconds then resting for ten. Repeat this eight times for a total of four minutes, peel yourself off of the floor, and know that you've just achieved in a handful of minutes more than most vest toting gym rats do in an hour. 

While this is golden alone, with a few modifications we can take it from better to best, to paraphrase Fight Club's Tyler Durden- when you start tabata club you're arse might be a wad of cookie dough, after few weeks... You'll be carved out of wood.

The Nitty Gritty.

Let's get down to business so we can get to the business of getting down. Perform these circuits several times a week to reap maximum benefits, but you'll start to see improvements in your fitness just tossing it in the mix once or twice. If you're already an established trainee and want to turn your beast mode dial all the way up to eleven, try throwing this in as finisher to your normal workouts.

Sequence one- The Gym Bod

20 seconds- push up with row (get into a press up position holding a pair of light to moderate dumbells. Complete a press up ensuring your chest touches the floor at the bottom of the rep, once you've returned to the top, row one of the dumbells up until it almost touches your body, lower and repeat the push-up/row combo with your other arm.)

10 seconds- REST, keep and eye on your watch or timer, be ready to go on the buzzer and come out swinging...

20 second- Squat and press- Take a weight and hold it across your chest (dumbells, a bar or a weight plate; anything you can squat with comfortably) squat down as far as you can (arse to grass is what we're aiming for here) and explode back up once your fully upright, use your shoulders and the momentum from your squat to press the weight over head. This is one rep, aim for 12-15. Don't hate me.

10 seconds rest- This is one round, repeat this for a total of four or eight minutes depending on your time constraints/ goals and you'll be 'acutely aware' of your lungs, heart and most probably... The location of your last meal.

Sequence Two- Home Schooled

Even if you can't make it to the gym you can still make a serious dent in your fitness goals by trying this sequence a few times a week.

20 seconds- squat with tuck jump- squat down as far as you can and explode back up into a jump, once you've got air, bring your knees up towards your chest into a 'tuck jump' position. All those trampoline lessons in school are finally paying off.

10 seconds- REST. Eyes on the timer, think 'coiled spring' 

20 second- Press up with chest tap- don't sacrifice quality for quantity, your chest should touch the floor on every rep and your arms fully extended at the top. At the top of each rep left one arm off the floor and give your chest a light slap, alternate arms on each rep. Aim for 10-15.

10 seconds- REST

Repeat for eight minutes for some serious homemade fitness gains.

Is it tough? Yes. If it's not, you did it wrong. It's a definite case of risk versus reward. If you're willing to risk losing your lunch by going balls to the wall, the reward will be a leaner, faster, fitter physique in less than the run time of Bohemian Rhapsody.
If you can channel your inner spartan, dig in and leave nothing in the tank... Then a 300-esque physique is only 8 minutes away.

Peace out


Milestone Method- Week 1 update

Three things to report, possibly more but I seriously doubt I'll come back and change this intro, so I guess we're in this together right now folks...

1) I'm a week through my Milestone Method diet, I didn't weigh myself throughout the
week and I suffered from a serious lack of dietary willpower on Sunday, long story short; I wasn't expecting miracles when I weighed in this morning. One week isn't a long time to be in a small/ moderate calorie deficit, if you're being sensible about your weight loss and giving yourself enough calories to still function optimally, you should only be looking at dropping 1-2lb per week (unless you're going down a low carb route, where you may initially shift quite a bit of weight as you drop excess water, the flip side of this being you can expect reciprocal weight gain if you over indulge on carbs at any point and 'fill up'). As you can imagine, I was pretty surprised this morning when I stepped on the scales to see I was 3kg (!) lighter than this time last week. Aesthetically, although not massive, the changes are noticeable.

This got me thinking, you can carefully and closely track your food and calorie intake. You can know precisely what macronutrients you consume throughout the day, but it really is difficult to peg down just how many calories you're expending. My work is insanely physical, I workout with a pretty good intensity most days and I tend not to sit still from dawn until I eventually drop into bed in the evening, so maybe it's just that my energy requirements are super high? 

Maybe it's because I tend not to eat my first solid meal until around one o'clock, this is around 6 hrs hours into my work day and I've probably covered around 5-6 miles (under load) on foot by this point? Perhaps it's this level of essentially fasted, steady state cardio that causes quick weight loss? I don't know for sure, but I'm quite comfortable with the amount of calories I'm consuming, so until I start feeling excessively fatigued or my work/ workouts start suffering, I'll stick to this calorie range until advised otherwise by Layne.

2. I'm going to adjust my meal plan slightly this week (whilst sticking to the same macro count), by the time I was done cooking and prepping last week whilst away, it was gone midnight, this is pretty normal for me and I generally get by on 4-5 hours sleep, but it would be nice (and probably do wonders for my health) to get a bit more shut eye. My meal breakdown is going to look something like this-

10am- 20g casein, 5-10 EFA's 
1pm- Tuna, rice cakes, apple
6-7pm- 1-2 wholegrain bagels, Apple
During workout- 30g whey, 70g simple carbs (probably lucoazde/ glucose)
Post workout-20g whey, 2 bananas
Dinner- Tuna (or turkey), rice cakes (or brown rice), salad vegetables.
Before bed- 20g casein, 10g almond butter.

Obviously this is pretty heavy on the supps, something I'm usually keen to avoid but it's a case of cramming the right amount of nutrients into some very small windows. (It's still three solid meals that being said).

3. I'm adding some brisk conditioning sessions throughout the day at work. Firstly and foremost, these aren't going to be super structured, just a case of ramping my heart rate right up and sweating it out for 15-20mins. Mainly I just want to be able to focus on my strength during my main training, ensuring I'm still making progress whilst dieting, sometimes I feel if I try to make my actual weight training a bit too 'breathy', I'll sacrifice weight. I'll still be training like a whipped horse, just prioritising progression in my 'main' training session and going for broke in the ancillary workouts. I'll let you all know exactly what I get up to, mainly over on IG.

So, turns out there was only 3 things (unless I forget the fourth in the course of writing the other three), either way, we're done here... 

Here's some progress/ comparison pictures for you to get your peepers on, and here's a link to get your own personalised training program from Milestone.
Unless that hair band was really, really heavy of course.
Pout gainz

Peace out!