Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Q & A: Replenishing Glycogen

Originally posted on

Q: My lecturer at Uni said the most important thing to do after training is to restore glucose, he recommended a sports drink, is he right?

Replenishing glycogen post-workout is important, although I don’t recommend using a sports drink to get the job done. Whether or not it is the most important thing would be up for debate. For me personally I like to use a mix of protein and carbs after training to replenish glycogen stores. To do this quickly I like to use powders. Depending on the athlete this shake would be anywhere from 30-50g of protein mixed with 50-220g of carb powder. With the carb powder I like to use a mixture of fast and slow carbs.

By consuming a protein/carb drink immediately post-workout it has been shown to increase protein synthesis by 38% more than a protein shake alone. The carbs stimulate insulin which is an important regulator of protein synthesis post-workout.

Another reason why you want to consume carbs post-workout and replenish glycogen stores is for hormonal balance. When you train you increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This is a good thing while you train as it gives you energy. Post-workout cortisol isn’t your friend though, it breaks down muscle tissue, and while cortisol is high testosterone is low. It is what people refer to as the testosterone/cortisol ratio. By consuming a protein/carb shake you can lower cortisol levels, improve the testosterone/cortisol ratio, reduce muscle protein breakdown, and increase protein synthesis as mentioned above. By doing this you decrease the catabolic state and increase the anabolic, the building of new muscle tissue.  

Post workout you want to have carb sources that have a high glycemic index, a high insulin index, and are low in fructose. You have to spike your insulin stores if you want to replenish glycogen post workout. If you are fat then you don’t need carbs post workout. You have to deserve them as Charles Poliquin always makes very clear. You also have to be sure you add in some fast acting proteins like whey.

Here is a video that gives you some options for your post workout carb choices and some to avoid

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Gluten and Performance

Originally posted at

This image was on the Monday. On the Friday, we performed the same workout. In this Friday workout Marcus performed 12 reps at 30kg and the bar path was much better. You can see this with the alignment of the bar in this next picture. 

If you come from the "it fits my calories camp" and you don't care about the quality of food you consume, then you could be leaving a lot of performance gains on the table. 

We train for performance.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Christian Thibaudeau Hypertrophy Seminar

Originally posted on

Over the past weekend I had the pleasure of attending a seminar hosted by Christian Thibaudeau on the topic of hypertrophy. I have been following Christian’s work for many years now, probably since about 2009/2010 and have his books, so I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to learn from him in person, especially with it being his first time to Australia.

The reason why I like Christian Thibaudeau’s methods and approach towards training is because he likes to train for performance. Even if he is training for hypertrophy he still uses explosive movements, big compound movements, and combines some more typical type bodybuilding work into his programs. This is the same approach that I take with my athletes. There is no point getting them bigger if they don’t increase size or power whilst doing so. The goal of the added size is to increase performance on the field. Christian comes from an Olympic lifting background so this is why he likes this type of approach.

Over the two days spent learning from him I picked up many great tips. Some I knew already but hadn’t really been implementing as much as I probably should have, others were knew to me, and the rest was a deeper understanding of exactly why and how a certain method works. This really helped me understand who, and in what cases I could use certain methods for and gave me many new ideas that I will use in my programs.

Christian Thibaudeau is a very smart many who can explain the science behind how the body responds to training in great detail but the best part is he can explain complex things in relatively simple terms. He also has a pretty basic approach to programming and doesn’t get too complex with it. He focuses on the detail of each and every rep and makes sure it is all quality work you are performing.
I appreciate every Christian taught us over the weekend. Like all of the great coaches I have learnt from over the years, Christian is a great bloke, who to me, seems to have remained humble even after all of his success as a coach and is willing to give his time before, during, and after his seminar to help everyone out.    

Monday, 21 November 2016

THP - Junior Development Progress Update

Originally posted on

It makes me happy to see the progress of the young athletes that have been training hard of a morning. They are all good kids and listen to everything I speak to them about in the gym.

This is Bryce Shaw hitting 135 kg for 2 on the deadlift. We still have a lot of technical issues to fix up but the progress from day 1 to this point is crazy. He has a lot more strength potential but we just have to address some weak points and cues to stay tighter throughout the lift. The good thing is this lift was far from maximal but gave me a good indication of what we need to work on. 

If you are training younger athletes don't let your ego or excitement get in the way of their long term progress. We will regress from this point to fix up issues and the hopefully Bryce can hit 135 kg with perfect technique next time. You don't have to chase weight to progress.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Gluten and Your Gut

Originally posted on

A core element of any nutrition plan or 'diet' in my opinion is to address any issues with the gut. If the gut is inflamed, your ability to reach your goals will be hindered. Sure you will still get lean even though you eat gluten or other inflammatory products like dairy, but how long will this last? When you're 50 and you can't squat because your knees creak and hurt so much maybe you'll think twice about the next bit of bread you eat. 
Gluten gets a pretty bad wrap in the media and for go reason - personally, I've seen a fair few issues when eating gluten:

  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • IBS
  • IBD
  • Depression and mood disorders
  • Joint pain
  • Neurological issues
  • Fatigue
Gluten is found primarily in gains including wheat, rye, barely and oats. Typically, with every meal individuals will consume some form of gluten:
Breakfast – cereal, oats or toast
Lunch – sandwich, bread roll or crackers
Dinner – pasta, crumbed protein or sauces

So if you eliminate all forms of foods that contain gluten, you're left with a lot of holes in your diet (but not in your gut which is the whole point of this article). If you have no idea what to replace the gluten with then read the Healthy Eating Guide

Gluten is now being found in more than just food though. Individuals that are gluten sensitive or allergic to gluten find that they still have symptoms even though they’ve removed offending foods. Some items that contain gluten you may not be aware of include:
  • Lip stick
  • Foundation
  • Toothpaste
  • Mouth wash
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Body was
  • Body lotions
  • Dog food (you inhale it when you feed them)

My personal take on gluten

Avoid it at all costs. I have seen neurological disorders present themselves for 3 days after a high intake of gluten, joint pain where there was previously none, mood disorders and depression, and chronic nausea to the point of hospitalisation. I don't care too much about what the calorie value of the food is or what the macro content is - the first thing I always look for is the presence of gluten or wheat - once I've established what's in it, then I'll look at the calories and the macro breakdown downs.

Health is always number one - take care of your gut and you will get lean, you will build lean mass and you will feel a million times better. 

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Bench Press - Arch, or No Arch?

Originally posted on

The bench press is performed by almost everyone who lifts weights. Whether it’s the average bloke who goes to the gym, an athlete, or a competitive powerlifter, everyone is interested in benching the most weight possible. To lift the most weight possible you see all sorts of crazy things, mostly by the general population trying to emulate elite powerlifters who have been training hard building a foundation and dialling in their technique for many years.

When it comes to arching in the performance of the bench press I feel it is best saved for the competitive powerlifters and even then it should be saved for final stages before competition to get the set up and groove right. The way I look at is that there is a massive difference between building strength and displaying strength, I heard this from Charles Poliquin in a seminar and it continues to spring into my mind every time I write a program or see someone ego lifting. These people will always do the easiest lift with the loosest technique possible because they are too embarrassed to lift a lighter load and build a foundation of strength that can be displayed at a later time. For example, they will choose the steepest decline on the bench and use the widest grip possible, often using a smith machine just so they can look good in front of their mate. These people will never be truly strong.

What I prefer to do is use disadvantage leverages in the early phases of training and save the strongest for times when competition is nearing or when you truly want to display your strength.

The same goes for arching. I prefer athletes to bench with their butt on the bench and keep a relative flat back. It is not completely flat as I do believe you should keep your sternum high, squeezing your shoulder blades back. This position is healthier for the shoulders and gives you a solid foundation to press from. It also places far less stress on the lower back and lengthens the range of motion in comparison to benching with an arch. For athletes the main focus is to build strength in the gym not display it. The time for them to display their strength is on the field, in the ring, or on the athletic track. 

When arching to perform the bench press you have a lot of stress that is applied to the lower back and it feels quite uncomfortable. It is something that you must practice and ensure you have the proper set up before performing with heavy loads. It does decrease the range of motion a fair bit and increases leverages, so you are generally able to lift heavier loads. You also have to know how to use leg drive properly to perform this type of bench press and where to place your feet. Some lifters will go right up on their toes and have their feet directly under their hips whereas others will keep their feet flat on the ground and only slightly back towards the hips. This will also be dependent upon the federation they lift in and the rules used.

I like the advice Ed Coan gives about benching, he says to do whatever is right for you. He has benched with an arch and without an arch. It is about finding what works best for you. He said he used to dig his feet hard into the ground to stabilize himself, he arched his back, and kept his butt in contact with the bench at all times. This was when he was doing his competitive lift. In the offseason he would put his feet up on the bench and perform his benches in this style as it was harder because he had less stability.

Whether you perform the bench arched or not the big cue is to squeeze the shoulder blades back and keep the sternum up. This seems pretty universal. It is a better position for the shoulder joint, minimizes the risk of injury, and allows you to lift good amounts of weight even without an arch. 

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Sunday, 13 November 2016

Bruno Alves Abu Dhabi World Champion

Originally posted on 

It is great to see Bruno Alves get some exposure for his win at the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu Jitsu Championship earlier this year. Not only did Bruno win gold at the event, he also coached his cousin and fellow THP athlete Igor Almeida to bronze and two of his other students to gold as well. His success at this event also gave us our first world champion, something that I have been studying so hard for, and working so hard for since my career as an athlete was ended. I cannot thank this great man enough for all his hard work and how much faith he puts in our programs and plans for such important competitions. See the write up in Blitz mag here.  

Preparation for Abu Dhabi went extremely well and I was so happy for the boys to see all their hard work and dedication pay off. (You can read more about it here). Their whole life revolves around Jiu Jitsu and leading into this comp they sacrificed a lot to get in peak physical condition. What many people don't understand is that Bruno doesn't have many other black belts here in Australia to train with in preparation for these big tournaments, he trains with his students, and he still coaches a lot of the classes at his gym, for me this makes his wins this year even more impressive. It also shows how important his students like Igor Almeida and Aaron Smith are to his personal success and the success of their gym. The have a great team and I would recommend anyone wanting to start or improve their Jiu Jitsu go and see them at Sydney Jiu Jitsu Academy . 

Friday, 11 November 2016

Remembrance Day - Greatest Respect

Originally posted on

Having just paused for a minute silence for Remembrance Day it always makes me so grateful for the life I have and for those that sacrificed and risk their lives for us to be able to live the life we do. I have the ultimate respect for the people who went to war and continue to go to war and protect our way of life. They don't get nearly enough recognition for what they do. They do it because they have a greater purpose then most of us, it isn't about fame or money like most things are about these days. You couldn't go through what they do if that was your only reason for doing it, no amount of money is worth what they see and do. It changes your entire life, sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad. 

I don't think I'd be able to do the things soldiers do or handle what they see. People sit back and say "oh yeah I could do this or that" but it's not the movies, you actually have to perform those acts of courage. You're not just sitting in your armchair. You also have to do things that most humans are unable to and would never consider doing. I once heard a saying that said "there are no extraordinary men, just extraordinary circumstances that ordinary men are forced to deal with". In that case I am very thankful for the ordinary men that took on these extraordinary circumstances. I also feel we have an obligation to uphold the culture and values that these soldiers sacrificed their lives for. These days people sell out way too easily and we can take many lessons from the actions of our soldiers.

Thinking about war and how horrible it must have been to live through those tough times makes me realise that a lot of the things we feel are important in today's world really aren't at all. Work , money, etc. would mean nothing to you if you were in their situation. While work and money are definitely a necessity I just feel we let them control our lives far too much. I am sure they were thinking more about their loved ones, their family and their friends, the human emotional connections, not material things. Its very easy to get caught up being "busy" in today's world but we have to think about what we really want in life and prioritise time for it. This is a big problem for myself lately that I am really beginning to address again. No-one, at the end of their life, ever says "if I only worked more hours". 

We live in a great period of time with many comforts and more opportunities then we have ever had in history. If we take some core values from the soldiers I think we can use them to help us achieve our goals and get through any struggles that we may feel are overbearing, and can do it with humility and respect.

No amount of words will ever be thanks enough, but thank you. You will not be forgotten. 

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

THP Junior Development Update

originally posted on

The young athletes who are training of a morning are progressing well and their hard work is beginning to pay off. When we began the program no one could full squat and now all athletes are able to hit rock bottom in the squat and are beginning to lift some good solid weight.

Here is Alfie trying to squat after about 4 weeks of generally preparation work:

This is Alfie squatting now, 6 weeks after the above video was taken, hitting a 105 kg paused squat for a double. I know he has heels elevated in this video so I'm not comparing apples to apples, I still feel it is a great effort and I will show you a video of his normal back squat in coming weeks as this is the only footage I have taken in a while.

Monday, 7 November 2016

How to Prevent Cramps

Originally posted @

Many athletes suffer from cramps. Cramps will prevent you from competing or training pretty much immediately. Once you get a cramp there isn’t much you can do about it, no amount of stretching or massage will get you back to 100% to be able to compete or train at your best. Even if you do manage to play on, your chances of serious injury are increased, so unless it is an important competition there is no real point of pushing through the pain. Your best bet then is preventing cramps in the first place.

There are different types of cramps you may suffer. You may have a prolonged type of cramp or one where the muscle spasms. They can occur while you train or after training or competition while you are lying around trying to recover.
Dehydration is a major cause of cramps. So the most common advice for preventing cramps is to stay well hydrated. It is too late to try and catch up once you begin training or competing so it is important to sip on water throughout the day. See this article for more details

It is also important to ensure you are getting enough electrolytes. Electrolytes help muscles contract so if you are deficient in them your muscles aren’t able to contract properly. The reason why you want to add or drink fluids with electrolytes in them is that plain water actually dilutes the electrolytes in your tissues. To restore electrolyte balance, your body will try to get rid of the water, so you will start to urinate a lot and this carries the electrolytes out with it.

Now, when people think of electrolytes they immediately think of commercial sports drinks. These are not the best option to replenish electrolyte levels. They are basically sugar water. They also contain high levels of sodium which prevents the water from being able to enter the cells. Instead of sports drinks we use coconut water. It works out cheaper and is much more effective. You could also buy an electrolyte powder and add that to your water but they tend to be a bit more expensive and you have to buy a quality brand.

Another thing to consider when trying to prevent cramps is magnesium levels. Many people will take a magnesium capsule before a game but I feel this is pointless and ineffective. Magnesium has to be taken regularly so that it can reach high concentration levels in the tissues. Taking one cap here or there will do nothing. Magnesium is the most common deficiency in athletes so it is one of the most important supplements they can take. It should be taken along with other supplements such as vitamin D3 and you have to ensure the athlete has good gut function so they are able to absorb their nutrients properly.  Adding in some potassium is also beneficial for preventing muscle cramps and because it is an alkalizing mineral it can also help increase your work capacity.

One last thing to consider when it comes to cramping is how physically prepared you are as an athlete. If you haven’t trained hard enough to prepare yourself for the demands of your sport then you are more likely to suffer from cramps. Cramps occur when the muscular demand is higher than the level the muscle has been trained for. That is why you often see players go down with cramps in very hard games or at the start of the pre-season when they are under done physically. It is important then to make sure you maintain a general level of fitness and progressively increase your training throughout the offseason to make sure you are ready for the highest levels of competition. If you are a 20 minute player then prepare as if you are going to play 40 minutes so that you know you have enough in reserve. 

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Kids Competition Team Sponsorship

Originally posted

We are very fortunate to be able to help out Sydney Jiu Jitsu Academy with their sponsorship program for their young athletes.

We have had the opportunity to work with Bruno, Igor and Aaron already with great results so we are more than happy to be able to give back to them and their athletes.

We will be providing nutrition, strength training, and rehab/pre-hab to these athletes. 

Already working with young rugby league players in our junior development program and having great results with them has been a lot of fun and we cannot wait to work with another young group of athletes and watch them develop as our boys have.

It will be exciting to see how many world champions can be produced and follow in the foot steps of their professor Bruno Alves.