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General Questions

  • I'm doing a 12 week challenge and when I have a rest day my mind goes into melt-down mode. I really feel that I've stuffed up my program by having a day off. Please help!!

    I can completely relate to you and I know exactly where you're coming from.  Whenever I took a day off the gym I thought that fat would accumulate and undo my previous weeks work.  Wouldn't life be grand if our bodies didn't require rest?  We could exercise all day and all night long, reaching our goals practically in a matter of days!  Well, our bodies don't operate like that unfortunately.

    Every time you exercise to any significant degree, you will put a strain on your system.  The harder you exercise, the greater the strain.  A very common theme on this website is that you need to exercise intensely enough as to put enough strain on your system to allow your body to adapt.  It will adapt by becoming more efficient, for example becoming fitter or stronger.  An example here is a typical natural bodybuilder - if you are going to build up a muscle group, you need to allow that muscle to recover before hitting it again.

    Let's say you perform cardiovascular exercise over a week and place a significant strain on your system.  But rather than taking a day off to allow your body to recuperate, you continue to strain your system.  This will ultimately work against you - your body can no longer adapt to the physical demands, it is now simply trying to return to a satisfactory state of health.  This is when you over-train - you become sick, your hormones jump all over the place, you can't sleep correctly and you become injury prone.

    I'll be the first to say that even by knowing all of this information, this still doesn't stop those mind games inside your head when you are sitting down relaxing and recovering on your rest day.  What you need is a plan of attack.  Something that sets out exactly what you need to do in order to reach your goals.  For example:

    MON: Cardio
    TUE: Weights
    WED: Cardio
    THU: Weights
    FRI: Cardio
    SAT: Weights
    SUN: Rest

    If you write that down for the week, then it's there in black and white.  You cannot change your mind or 'feel' like doing something else.  Generally speaking, if it's not on the plan then you don't do it - simple.

    Honestly a similar approach to this got me through my 12 weeks.  I had everything written down.  By doing this, there was no subjectivity left to my training - it was straight forward and I just did what had to be done.  Rest HAS to be done - there is no question about it.  It is just as important as your training and your diet.

  • I am in my last week of my 12-week challenge and I can't help but be disappointed in myself for not doing better. I lead a busy lifestyle and have only managed to lose 6.5kg. I also feel too large in the lower body and am reluctant to submit my after photos.

    Why are you so dissapointed??  That 6.5kg is GONE - COMPLETELY DISAPPEARED. Look at where you are now compared to 12 weeks ago - compare your photos and be proud of this big achievement. Aren't you glad you're where you are now and not where you were 12 weeks ago? 

    I'm all for for demanding more from yourself, but don't be discouraged by what you haven't achieved. Be encouraged by what you HAVE achieved and what you will CONTINUE to achieve.

    I also think you deserve a lot of credit, leading a very busy lifestyle yet still managing to lose over an average of half a kilo a week on a regular basis! Appreciate the fact that you haven't used this busy lifestyle as an excuse and have been very proactive in your quest to a better body.

  • What are the best exercises to tone up the back of your arms?

    Toning is a confusing term.  In regards to your physique, you can do the following main things:

    1) Increase or decrease muscle size

    2) Increase or decrease body fat

    Toning, as vauge as the word is, is a combination of the two.  If you are overweight you are not going to have good "tone" because the fat will cover your muscles, no matter how large they are.  Conversely, you may be skinny and have very small muscles - as a result you won't have enough muscle mass to produce a nice "toned" effect.

    So, now that's settled, if you want to have a "toned" look around your tricep area it's quite simple really:

    1) If you have poor tricep development, effectively train your triceps to increase the muscle size.  At the same time however, ensure you perform resistance training on your entire body - you want a nice, even physique without muscular imbalances.

    2) Decrease your body fat.  You cannot spot reduce, so performing tricep exercises is NOT going to effectively reduce the body fat from beneath your upper arm.  Jump on a bike, go for a run - perform some cardiovascular exercise.  Personally I'm a very strong beleiver in high intensity cardio - you will maximise your results this way.  However you must also consider your training experience and medical considerations before training this intensely.

    Also bare in mind that when I refer to "increasing muscle size" - I don't mean building significant amounts of muscle that it looks like you're a bodybuilder.  You need to build muscle, but this is a very slow process - you're not going to wake up the next morning and have 18" arms!

  • I started a 12 week challenge and after 2 great weeks I ate one bad thing and I gave up. I have no idea why I do this, because after 2 weeks I was feeling great and already getting comments on my progress. Now, I'm eating badly and not exercising - I can't see the point if I can't stick to it. I really want this to be a lifestyle change.

    You're not alone Shae - a lot of people seem to do this sort of thing.

    The thing is, you need to figure out why. There will be a reason or reasons. Ask your self some questions and give it a bit of time to come up with the answer:

    • Do you REALLY want to do the challenge?
    • WHY do you want to do the challenge?
    • Do you honestly believe that you CAN transform yourself?
    • Also, what obstacles are you likely to come up against, and how can you get around those?

    All this sort of stuff is important to understand - sit down with a pen and paper, and write down your reasons for taking this on, and come up with some goals to strive for - make them realistic, but challenging.

    Once you have this sorted out (and it may take you some time - several days even), you need to make sure that you're ready to start. This means meticulous planning, so that everything is in place to make it easier for you to stick with it. All the practical stuff like food shopping, planning workouts, preparing some meals in advance, etc.

    Make sure that your plans for both food and exercise include things that you enjoy, or you'll never stick with it. Who wants to spend 12 weeks feeling miserable?

    And as you say, it needs to be a lifestyle change - so make your program and diet a base that you can build on, something that only needs a little adaptatation to become the way you live your life.

  • Jay, I was wondering if you have a diet and exercise log for your winning BodyBlitz challenge?

    I have it all here on the computer.  I'm just formatting it ready to publish online and it will be available soon!  Every member of this website will have first priority at taking a look at all the gorey details of my 12 week challenge - so if you haven't signed up already do it now!

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