Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Funday Part 3

Continuing our tradition of "no rules" training sessions on a Friday, this week we took advantage of the good weather and the innate funnyness of freaking out the office workers who overlook our carpark by taking it outside.

Today's session went like this:
Tyre westling - 30 second bouts, short rest then move to
Tyre Pass- 30 second bouts - repeat these two exercises 3times.
Then move on to this circuit
A1 - Tyre flip- 30 seconds, as many as possible
A2- Sledgehammer swings - 30 secs, as many as possible
A3- Medicine ball overhead swing- 30 seconds

rest as long as it takes for your turn to come round again then repeat another few times.

Total training time 20 minutes

As you can see Jenny has still managed to remain conspicuosly un-bulky which is strange, I'm sure that tyre weighs more than 3lbs!

Check out the video of our London Personal Trainer Team

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Don't try this at home...

Today we let enthusiasm for training overtake good common sense. Let this be a lesson for you all.

Our first mistake was warming up using the infamous 'Cahill Warm-Up' technique. This technique involves large incremental jumps in weight - accelerating you to your working weight in double quick time. While this saves time, it is probably not optimal for workout performance.

So, lesson 1. High intensity lifting often requires a good amount of quality warm ups to raise neural system levels.

Next, we picked an exercise that really is not at all suitable for rest/pause training. Rack Deadlifts.

Lesson 2. Choose the right exercise for the chosen rep/set method....

Next we worked up to our respective 3 rep maximums.

Then, without any regard for our spinal health, we proceeded to do one all out set of 20 reps, resting where necessary, which often meant doing singles followed by a short period spent horizontal on the floor cursing our own stupidity and the alacrity at which we had responded to this idea at the start of the workout.

Lesson 3. High intensity + rack deadlifts + high reps = horrible form. Sometimes you just need to 'ugly' the weight up as Zack says.

We then followed this with an upper back circuit. One set of 10-12 of the following

A1 Pronated Grip chins
A2 Supinated Chins
A3 Chest Supported Rows
A4 Pulldowns
A5 Kneeling Rear Delt Flys
A6 Barbell Curls

Then, we left the gym, shaking our heads in a state of disbelief but at the same time wondering if this bizarre little protocol had any place in the world of weight training.

The answer? Probably not, but we wanted to share it with you anyway!

Lesson 4. A lot of exercise dogma isn't true. But some is, effective warm ups involve limiting fatigue while raising sympathetic nervous system activity to an appropriate level for the work sets for example. Pick the right type of exercise for the chosen protocol is another. Finally, as the song says, sometimes you got to go there to get back - don't be afraid to experiment with different approaches and exercise protocols. Variety is a key ingredient to progression.

Till next time!

Team Aegis

Eggs really are good for the heart...

It is well-known amongst my clients and colleagues what a strong advocate of eggs I am. I happen to think that eggs are one of the most nutritionally amazing food sources naturally available.

So, with that in mind I just wanted to share with you another piece of positive evidence (as if there wasn't enough already) as to why you should be including this nutritional powerhouse into your diet on a regular basis. Rather surprisingly this latest paper to reveal positive health benefits actually showed the strongest results to come from fried eggs!

Scientists found that fried eggs had high potential for inhibiting the production of something called Angiotensin Converting Enzyme. Now, unless you are currently on medication for high blood pressure, or are in the medical profession, you may well be thinking 'great, so what?'. Well, in short, this is good news as this little enzyme is responsible for changing the 'not very biologically active' Angiotensin 1 into the rather more active Angiotensin 2.

Eggs - bloody brilliant....

Angiotensin 2 is a bit like a bigger, rather more problematic brother of 1 and has a direct effect on the blood vessels, causing them to constrict and to raise blood pressure. Angiotensin 2 also is prothrombotic, which means that it encourages the formation of blood clots - another reason to want to keep levels of it down. As if that wasn't bad enough, it ALSO causes the release of aldosterone, which causes the kidneys to retain sodium and lose potassium.

This is the reason that one of the most popular drugs of choice for treating hypertension is designed to inhibit the enzymes that convert the non-active form of Angiotensin into its active relative. These are simply known as ACE Inhibitors.

You can check out the abstract to this latest study HERE from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Medicine.

I will be posting more in the next few days on eggs, including the latest research that can hopefully put to bed the concerns about cholesterol and egg intake. In the meantime, check out an article I have put together all about eggs to be posted on our website very soon!


Team Aegis

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Fun Part 2

Welcome to this weeks installment of our friday fun workouts where there are no rules and no particular targets. All we aim to do on a friday is get the heart rate up, get the blood flowing and try to put together a general conditioning workout to round out the week.

Time was particularly short this week, which matched our energy levels, so we went for a short routine with a lower body, one upper body, and one whole body movement. Here is this weeks friday fun workout.

A1 Squats with Chains 4 - 6 reps

A2 Curl to Arnold Press Dumbbell Combination 6 - 8 reps

A3 Forward Sled Drag 2 Lengths of the gym

As many circuits as possible in 20 minutes. Simple.

check the video of our london personal trainers on You Tube here:

Give it a try and don't forget to post some comments on how you get on! Remember to check out our Youtube page HERE for all of our training videos.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Green Tea, Fat Loss and more...

When it comes to weight loss there are endless articles and ‘revelations’ in the media about the latest and greatest fat loss supplements and secrets. Many of these are given with a fair amount of hyperbole and imagery that alludes to marvellous effects. The reality is that many of the recommended supplements really lack compelling evidence for use, while others are shrouded in mystery or uncertainty over their safety or efficacy. However, there are other dietary interventions that are easily achievable, relatively low cost, clinically safe, and proven at being an effective part of a weight loss programme. Probably leading the field in this market is Green Tea, which is one of the first things to go onto any client shopping list when discussing weight loss, or health improvement in general....

To read the rest of this article on the benefits of Green Tea from London Personal Trainers click HERE

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Workouts...

Friday is fun day here at Aegis, well in fact every day is fun here, but friday is a fun day for training. It is a bit of a 'no rules' day for us when one of us will put together a fairly arbitrary circuit and we will go out in the gym and smash it up for a bit.

Today we thought we would share that workout with those of you diligent (or bored) enough to read our blog! We will post this to our Facebook page as well, along with a video of the boys in action actually doing it.

Training Focus: Power Endurance - Performing explosive movements in circuit format with an emphasis on speed of execution.

To do this we selected two upper body movements and two lower-body movements and simply performed them as a circuit with minimal rest between each and then rest as needed between circuits. Here is the circuit.

A1 Heavy Kettlebell Single Arm Swings 6 Reps
A2 Explosive Bench Press with Chains 6 reps (we like the chains as they change the strength curve to be more beneficial for explosive work - plus they look cool!)
A3 Power Cleans from the Hang 6 Reps (you can't really use a genuine 6 rep max for this due to fatigue, so drop your usual 6RM down and go for speed and groove).
A4 Inverted Rope Rows 8 Reps

Note: We don't generally support using higher reps for complex movements, in fact to be fair we don't really use high reps for very much at all, except for specific endurance or metabolic conditioning for anaerobic lactic acid fitness. We have found that technique soon gets bent way out of shape on cleans and snatches once fatigue sets in, adding an additional risk to the exercises that we don't feel is matched by the benefits.

Finisher: Team sled drag relays backwards and forwards, alternate between pulls.

Any extra time you have, if you still want more, try some grip work to finish such as sledgehammer work, no thumb curls and reverse curls, hammer curls etc etc. Or of course, like us you could throw in some passover curls, just for a bit of a laugh at the end.

Keep your eyes posted for this workout video, which will be up on our you tube page VERY soon. See it here: Personal Fitness Trainer London

Have a great weekend - and come on England!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Fitness Myths - Long, Lean, muscles and heavy weights

Now, we promise there is more to come on this topic and in greater depth. However, we here at Aegis are having such a giggle over some of the mountebanks who proliferate in the fitness industry that we had to put a post up about it. In particular we found great amusement over recent advice in a national newspaper that women shouldn't lift over 3lbs in weight in the gym. This particular 'expert' who name drops to gain credibility is one of the prime culprits of this sort of nefarious storytelling. Another of their classics is that they only work the small muscles, and in doing so, this helps to lengthen the longer bigger muscles, which according to her, you shouldn't work in the gym or you'll swell up and become bulky and masculine. This is their 'unique' system, and apparently everyone else is getting it wrong...?

Unfortunately for the general public, there will always be those people who market their 'systems' as being unique based on some spurious claims that often are the antithesis of well-established physiological principles. Another of these is the classic comment that activities like Pilates can give you 'long lean muscles', which thankfully is a myth only talked about by a few, but again enough to make it an often-repeated phrase. Check out THIS article by the late Mel Siff, who provides ample excellent rebuttals of many of these common myths.

Check out this video below of Pilates in action...

Let me give you a quick lesson in basic physiology. ANY activity involves a shortening AND a lengthening of muscles. Adding resistance can cause the hypertrophy, or growth, of muscles. For women, this potential is greatly reduced due to their hormonal system not favouring size gains (amongst other reasons). If muscles are getting smaller from training then that is called catabolism or atrophy and is NOT desirable folks! Does it mean that the more you do the longer your muscles get? Hopefully not as if so then all your joints will become unstable and you won't be able to move....You can reduce levels of bodyfat through training of course, but not through 1000 pelvic tilts. Secondly, muscles are the length that they are - and although there may be reductions in sarcomere (the microscopic 'units' of muscle) amounts through chronic postural shortness - any activity that works the muscle through the full range of movement will help maintain or restore flexibility. It is a MYTH that weight training makes you inflexible - if you don't believe me, just check out this video

These guys lift weights ALL THE TIME and HEAVY ones too! But they also have amazing flexibility....and it isn't just them - many other athletes manage to develop outstanding strength and flexibility (ever seen the physiques on top gymnasts??). It is an outdated concept, based on stereotypical impressions of muscular bodybuilders, that strength or weight training equates to poor flexibility. In just about all cases, the opposite is true.

Finally, the notion that weight training with more than 3lbs is detrimental to women is so wrong it verges almost irresponsible in terms of advice. Even more dangerous is giving this advice to 'real' women based on the training programme of a Hollywood A-lister with a private chef and questionable dietary habits - not to mention someone who is genetically tall, slender, and never really had an issue with her weight in the first place?

Jamie Eason (left) is well known for being a strong girl who regularly lifts weights (yes, heavy ones that weigh more than 3lbs), yet you'd be hard pressed to say she looks either bulky or lacks femininity.

When you consider that research has CLEARLY shown that a loss of muscle mass is the primary reason women gain weight as they age, it really makes no sense to suggest they use such small weights. A new-born baby weighs more than 3lbs, not to mention bikes, shopping, pushchairs, or in fact ANY job - police, fire service, military, whatever, will involve a need for strength. In fact, I have in the past highlighted countless studies, including a fascinating study on occupational fitness carried out in the U.S, that clearly showed the importance of high-intensity strength training in developing all-round fitness. Check out THIS study if you want to see the real EVIDENCE as opposed to the myths and hype.

Hold on, I have to go as Jenny from our team is deadlifting in the gym and its more than 3lbs.....we better stop her!!!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Obesity in the Genes? Not so fast....

A short while ago you can probably remember the news making a big deal of the discovery of an 'obesity' gene that pretty much means (if you listened to their usual style of sensationalising stuff like this) that it doesn't matter what you do, if you are genetically meant to be obese then you are pretty much stuck with it. Now, this wasn't the first or only paper that has looked at genetic links to obesity, but it is probably the most high profile and given that the average UK waistline is currently expanding faster than Gordon Brown's overdraft - it's certainly hot news....

"Honestly, it's's nothing to do with nutrition or exercise...."

Well, at Aegis Training as personal fitness trainers, we greeted this kind of research with the kind of enthusiasm normally reserved for opening a credit card bill or listening to one of Leigh Brandon's jokes. We didn't quite believe things to be as simple as this, could it really be possible that no matter what you did, if you were genetically cursed then that was it? Well, we didn't buy that, and neither did a lot of other scientists.

Now, I should warn you, this whole genetics thing can get a bit complicated and is best left to those who spend their days toiling over bunsen burners and injecting small animals with various potions. However, I will attempt a brief explanation.

One of the main studies on this actually came from the U.K and looked at something called the FTO gene. They found that variations of this gene were related to weight gain, and increased risk of diabetes. Having several variants of the gene puts you at risk of even greater weight gain. The FTO gene acts on enzymes and they found it to be particularly active in the Hypothalamus, which amongst other functions, controls hunger and thirst - uh can see why this might be a problem....(apparently over half of us here in the UK have variants of this gene).

Now of course, this is hardly as simple as it may, or may not sound. The body is a complex bit of kit and there are many hormones within the body and many enzyme driven processes that can be altered through diet and exercise. However, the Hypothalamus is often central to the secretion of these and can be thought of a bit like the conductor of the hormonal orchestra that drives how we eat and store fat.

O.k back to the story. Now, research out of the U.S has given us some hope. While scientists are now looking at how to modulate the FTO gene as a treatment for obesity, the latest research to be published suggests that high levels of physical activity may negate the effects of this troublesome gene. Researchers at the University of Maryland looked at just over 700 folks from the Armish community (the Armish make good research subjects as they are genetically homogenous)and found that they too showed similar patterns of increased weight gain in those with the FTO gene. However, and here is the important part so listen carefully, they also found that high levels of physical activity (many of the Armish have physical jobs such as farming or building) actually modulated the effects of the FTO gene in men and women. The researchers stated that - "This provides evidence that the negative effects of the FTO variants on increasing body weight can be moderated by physical activity". Powerful stuff, and also solid evidence that even if genetically you aren't blessed, you can still 'beat your genetics' with the addition of regular physical activity.

As a side note to this, which we will be looking at in future articles - they also found that the Armish had lower rates of diabetes and more favourable cholesterol levels than the average - despite a high fat and high cholesterol diet, adding further fuel to our philosophy on nutrition currently used here at Aegis Training.

If you would like to check out the original study, you can find the abstract HERE .

Saturday, February 07, 2009

'Hockey' - next big thing?

Every once in a while we like to go a bit off-base with our posts, and today is definitely one of those occasions.

When we are not busy creating new workout routines, or coming up with slightly bizarre systems of nomenclature for them, we like to check out some of the new bands and new music coming onto the scene. Yes, it's true, and despite the fact that the 80's are alive and well in our little corner of Shoreditch, we also like to listen to new sounds as well.

Here is a new band to Europe and the UK that we really like the sound of, and we think that they may well become very popular here. They're from Oregon and have a sound that could fit very well with the UK crowds - you can catch them at Cargo, just down the road from the Aegis studio on Monday 23rd February.....check out their tune below called "Too Fake" - Enjoy!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Aegis Training on Facebook...

Well we would hardly consider ourselves to be luddites here at Aegis. In fact, armed with our Macbooks, Iphones, and various other pieces of modern technology we are far from it. However, when it comes to social networking we have been a little behind the eight ball.

However, this is no longer the case. We now have a very active Facebook page where you can get the latest updates on articles, videos, and events from Aegis. You can also use it as a forum to post questions, comments, or feedback on all things connected with fitness, nutrition, supplements, etc.

You can find our FACEBOOK PAGE HERE

We are also now filming a library of brief exercise videos and routines, which we will soon be expanding to nutritional videos that will cover shopping, eating out, and a whole range of other topics. Please do send us suggestions on what you would like to see so we can continue to build a great free resource for our clients and friends...


We will also be posting longer articles on a page on the website, you can find our two latest articles below:



Remember, we rely on referrals to build our business, so if you know of someone who might benefit from this information or from training with us, please do send them our details....

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

It's Payback Time! Fat loss and strength gains in 2 days? It is possible with "Blain"

Continuing with our series of programmes inspired by the films of Arnold Schwarzenegger
we bring you a workout named after a man who typified intensity, and was probably no stranger to these methods himself- Blaine. We feel this programme is ideal for Blaine as not only did he not have time to bleed, he didn't have time to train either. well, maybe two sessions a week, which is what this programme involves.

Who was Blaine? Blaine was played by the former Governor of Minnesota and
professional wrestler, Jesse ' The Body' Ventura -
real name James George Janos. On screen Blaine was an uncompromising
character, a man of few words with a penchant for chewing tobacco and
large calibre rapid firing automatic weaponry - known in the movie as
'Ol Painless'. His iconic line was 'I ain't got time to bleed', which
later became the subtitle for one of his several books. 'The Body'
appeared alongside Arnie in a couple of other movies - notably in The
Running Man, where he is clearly someway off the capable killing
machine seen in Predator. This workout is most like Blaine, it is
tough, uncompromising, and if you lose it, you'll be in a world of hurt!

N.B: Chewing tobacco not essential for the successful completion of
this routine.

First we need to introduce you to 3 high intensity training methods. We have abbreviated them to RIP, which seems appropriate.
R is for Rest pause. Popularised by Mike MEntzer and Dorian Yates among others,
this method is also sometimes known as extended sets. Simply put, you work to failure, rest the bar, pause for either time or a number of breaths, then continue the set. you may repeat this process a number of times to reach the desired reps.

I is for Isometrics - We use isometrics in some format with all levels of trainee. Isometrics involve contraction of the muscle without any visible joint movement. This might mean exerting maximal force against a fixed bar or holding a position during a point in the movement . for this routine you will be employing mid range isometric holds. For example, on the bench press, after the final rep, lower the bar halfway and hold for ten seconds. Be sure to use a spotter for this technique.

P is for Partials and assisted - A great way to squeeze some extra work out of a muscle once it is too exhausted for full range of motion movement, this is a classic bodybuilding technique. Taking the bicep curl as an example, perform as many reps as humanly possible with a given weight and then knock out a few more reps lifting the bar ony halfway up. The assisted version would involve a spotter helping you lift the bar for a few extra reps while allowing you to lower by yourself. This is sometimes called negative reps but RIN isn't as cool sounding an acronym.

You will only perform 1 set of each exercise here, but don't let that fool you; in order for it to be effective this set MUST be taken to total muscular failure and performed with slow tempos, lowering the weight for a count of 5. Get as many reps as you can with each exercise and be aware that trainees often quit when they have a couple more reps in the tank. Don't do it. Push through the pain barrier and keep going till you reach true failure. At this point you will employ the techniques listed above to extend the set beyond failure . The end result? less time in the gym, more time to enjoy being a "sexual tyrannosaurus", just like Blaine.

Day 1

A-Back Squat - 1 set of 20 - perform these in a rest-pause fashion. If you can get 20 reps with no rest the weight was way too light. Tempo 5020 (5 seconds down, no pause, 2 seconds up, no pause)
B-Decline Bench Press - (use a competent spotter or perform these in the rack unless you fancy a crushed oesophagus) 1 x 10-12, then reduce the weight and squeeze out an extra 6-8 reps with some help from a spotter.Tempo 5020
C-Straight Leg Deadlift- 1 set of 20 - take a 10 rep max and perform 20 reps in a rest-pause fashion on a 5020 fashion.
D - Lat Pulldown - 1 x 10-12, then some partials and finish with an isometric hold in the middle of the movement for 10 seconds.
E - 1 Arm Concentration Curls - 1 x 10-12, you get the idea by now ; curl the weight till you can't lift your arm, then curl it again. Use partials and isometrics . Tempo 5020
F - Tricep pressdown - 1 x 10-12 Tempo 5020
G - Lateral Raises - 1 x 10-12, then reduce the weight and perform 8-10 more, finish with a 10 second isometric at the top of the movement.

Day 2 - Note- Don't use any of the intensity techniques on this day, just straight sets to failure

A-Front Squat 1 x 8-10
B-Pull Through 1 x 10-12
C-Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 1 x 10-12
D-Chest Supported Row 1 x 10-12
E-EZ Bar Standing Curls 1x10-12
F-Lying Tricep EZ Bar Extensions 1x10-12
G-Reverse Crunches 1x10-12
H-Knee Supported External Rotations 1x10-12

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

How to be a bit more like Arnold Schwarzenegger in 3 easy workouts - (maybe not easy)!!

Recently, some of us at the Aegis Personal Training Studios in London have developed a bit of an obsession (much to the annoyance of the rest of the staff , I'm sure) with the the films Commando and Predator. These, as you know, are the two greatest Arnold Schwarzenegger movies of all time (and therefore the greatest movies of all time, period). This obsession began innocently enough with randomly quoting memorable lines and promptly developed into conducting entire conversations in a cod Austrian accent and refusing to answer a question unless it is phrased as a line from an Arnie movie. Recently however, it has extended to naming our training programmes after characters from these films.
That's right, here at Aegis there's no longer such thing as an "accumulation phase" or a "strength focused mesocycle", there is only "Bennett", "Blain" and "Dillon".
These workouts are current favourites around here so I thought I would share them with you in a 3 part blog post.
Starting us off is the "Bennett" programme. Bennett is , of course, the greatest movie villain of all time bar none. With his Australian accent, too-tight chainmale vest and Freddie-Mercury-on-steroids moustache, he fluctuates between moments of extreme psychosis and outrageous high camp. Indeed, his clear obsession with John Matrix (the schwarzenegger character) can be read as one of the screens greatest tales of unrequited love.

The programme, like the man, is all business. No effort is wasted on girly-man exercises like tricep kickbacks or cardio. Instead we have the cornerstones of strength training; squats and deadlifts. Still the best,they always will be, just like Bennett. Here's the programme:

The programme involves 3 days training a week. It includes a mix of good old fashioned strength training and some excellent fat loss strategies using functional strongman exercises.

Day 1
A1 - Rack Deadlift (bar is set at just below the knees)
A2 - Standing Dumbbell Curls
Set a timer for 15 minutes and complete as many sets of these exercises as possible . Perform sets of 3 on the deadlift and 5 on the curls in an alternating fashion. The weight for the deadlift should be about a 5 rep max. The goal each week is to beat last weeks record, so if you got 4 sets of 3 and 1 set of 2 last time for deadlifts, aim to get at least 5 sets of 3.

B1 - Bottom-up Bench Press (performed in a power rack, bar is resting on the pins about an inch from the chest and pressed up from the bottom. This eliminates any bouncing or elastic response from the muscle and ensures that your chest, shoulders and triceps are doing all the work)
B2 - Reverse EZ Bar Curl
Again set a timer for 15 minutes and perform these as described earlier, sets of 3 for bench press and 5 for reverse curl.

C1 - Face Pull 2-3 x 10-12 (see a video clip here: London Personal Trainer )
C2- Straight Arm Pulldown 2-3 x 10-12 (see a video clip here: London Personal Trainer )

Day 2

A1 - Back Squat
A2 - Lying Dumbbell Tricep Extensions (perform these lying on the floor, allow the dumbbells to touch the floor and rest on for 1 second between between reps)
Again, 15 minutes, sets of 3 for squats and 5 for tricep extensions.

B1 - Weighted Chin-Ups (use a weighted belt or hold a dumbbell between your feet, go heavy)
B2 - Overhead cable tricep extension
15 minutes. 3 reps for chins, 5 for triceps.

C1 - Prone Y raises 3 x 10-12 (see a video clip here: London Personal Trainer )
C2 - Serratus Crunch 3 x 10 -12 (see a video clip here: London Personal Trainer )

Day 3
Strongman / Fat Loss Circuit
Choose 3-4 strongman execises from the list and do as many sets as possible in a 20 minutes timeframe. Obviously you will be limited here by the equipment available to you. Here's a list of our favourites.
Tyre flip
Sled drag
Farmers walk
trap bar walk
Keg clean and press

If you train at a gym with limited equipment you can replace this day with a fat burning barbell circuit. Take a barbell and perform the following exercises back to back without dropping the bar
Romanian Deadlift
Barbell Rows
Push press
Front Squat
Back Squat

Do 6 reps of each and perform as many rounds as possible in 20 minutes.

That's it, don't miss the next installment - Blain "payback time"!!

Zack Cahill,
Senior Trainer