So you wake up one morning and you open the curtains and to your surprise there is a large number of zombies heading down the road…they aren’t the fastest things you’ve ever seen but there sure is a lot of them. During that split second of thinking “What the actual fuck is going on?!!!” your body goes into fight or flight mode- in this case its flight mode (fighting them may be one risk too much).

You grab what you can as quick as you can and exit the house out of the back door and head over a number of gardens and away from the danger as fast as you can…but you can see more of them…you’ll just have to keep moving, unfortunately hotwiring a modern car isn’t an option so running it is.

You know a place…a couple of miles away from here that will be high enough and too difficult for them to get to you-you’ll have to climb, jump and haul yourself up there…you hope you’re strong enough- if you are you can plan your next move in relative safety…to be continued….

Above is the most unlikely event you’ll ever face; but it puts a few things into perspective for anyone who is trying to find that functionality in their fitness. We are animals-advanced, civilised, but still animals. We have attributes that evolution has developed for us in order to stay alive and thrive. The problem is that the fitness industry has largely tried to write a lot of this out of fashion in order to make sales on the newest thing.

If you want to be functional then remember how we are built, why we are built and then plan your fitness around it. We can be hunters and prey depending on the scenario. Sometimes the only way to survive is to run and come back fighting another day-if you can’t run fast enough for long enough you might be zombie food. If the only way to escape the zombie is climbing then I hope your equipped to do so.

Get outside and see what your body is capable of…test it out, find it’s shortfalls and then train it to adapt. If you struggle to keep moving then you are going against your genetic make up- the one thing that is responsible for your very existence.

Take away tip from part 1:- develop endurance; learn to walk, run and navigate your environment efficiently for extended periods of time. Don’t favour short and intense over long and slow- both should be at your disposal.

 

Is mind-set something that can be developed or is it something that is a pre-determined part of you as a person? Some would argue that its nature that has the biggest impact, and some would say it was nurture…but does this really matter? The answer is no.

Each person takes on a new fitness challenge or routine in a different way- some seem more accustomed to doing this without any external help such as a personal trainer or supportive partner, but that isn’t to say that you can’t one day be the same.

Our mind-sets have been developed through experiences we may not be totally aware of; as a child you may have had an experience which has made you subconsciously afraid of putting yourself out of your comfort zone; so you hold back or don’t even try to push yourself in the first place. Can this be undone? Yes.

There are lots of ways to change your mind-set and attitude towards your new fitness journey, but one I particularly like is regular self evaluation. This allows you to monitor how far you have come, how much positive change has taken place, and acts as a reference to a time when things weren’t as you wanted them. It will make you accountable to yourself and no-one else. Eventually you’ll become naturally motivated and won’t need the diary any longer.

The strategy:

-start a fitness diary and have a section at the start and end of each week for how motivated you are, and how you feel in general.

-set yourself small weekly goals you could easily achieve e.g. drink 1 litre more water per day or eat breakfast every day.

-at the end of the week evaluate how you feel compared to the start of the week- hold yourself accountable.

-if you didn’t achieve then say why, and this becomes your motivation to improve.

 

 

 

It’s become apparent to me that over the 12-18 months there has been a lot of pictures and videos of me half naked, in my garden(s) training. This isn’t because I have a lack of clothes or because I’ve been thrown outside by my girlfriend (well sometimes anyway), but because I have made a commitment to prove to myself and also the people who follow Iron soldier that to improve fitness and strength doesn’t require an absurd amount of kit.

I sit at 91kg bodyweight quite happily with very little fluctuation. I maintain a healthy level of body fat and don’t really get caught up in the fitness industry’s obsession with everyone having to look like they have been carved out of stone and painted that horrible shiny bronze colour. I can also hold my own when it comes to strength and physical ability.

The reason I’ve mentioned all of the above is because I have done this by using a simple approach to training that other people could look at and then go outside (or inside if they wanted) of their house and with a consistent approach….achieve a better version of themselves.

The fitness industry has become so diluted in the past 10-15 years that people could be fooled into thinking that without a gym or loads of kit your chances of being successful are very slim…This couldn’t be further from the truth. In the past year I have done some of the best workouts of my life whilst working in about a 2 metre square space, and hanging off my front door lintel. The key factor was that I had the intention to work hard, do the basics well, and make myself adapt to what I had…and I have.

To anyone reading this…if you want to hit targets or improve yourself and don’t know where to start, then follow the guidelines below:

1- learn the basics of squats, lunges, press-up variations, pull-up or row variations and core exercises such as planks and dish holds. Start with the easiest variations and get the form right-numbers come with time.

2- Running and sprinting are free, don’t go to a gym and use a treadmill- just go outside. Haven’t got a decent space? Do it on the spot. Do short intervals or longer efforts, but don’t push too hard to start with.

3- Focus on as few things as possible when starting out- strength and form are always my start points. If you have too many targets you won’t see an improvement. You’re after a 1% improvement not turn into an athlete overnight!

4-Use your garden!! It’s outside, it’s your space, and used correctly will become your gym! You can also wear whatever you like- bonus!!

5- Follow Iron soldier fitness training on Facebook or ironsoldierfitness on Instagram for some ideas!

 

You’ve just walked into the gym, hit some squats-maybe some deadlifts…you’ve done some high rep accessory work and then finished with a circuit of some description which has ruined your ability to walk back out of the gym…you then wake up the next day (or the day after the day after) and you find just walking down the stairs is giving you pain and discomfort never experienced by anyone EVER!! We’ve all done it, but when this been happening 5-6 times per week for an extended period of time do you wonder whether you may be caught in the vicious DOMS cycle.

DOMS is short for delayed onset muscle soreness- this is when the body is exposed to a new stimulus or has been pushed through an intensity it isn’t adapted to yet and as a result micro damage to the muscle fibres occurs. The body tries to adapt to this by becoming stronger, however this is where people start to get embroiled in the constant chase for DOMS and the true pursuit of fitness is lost.

This also leads to another point about overtraining…if you’re pushing that hard every session that you physically cannot recover effectively, then you are running the risk of overtraining. Overtraining in the most simple terms is when the body starts to become rundown from activity and performance starts to deteriorate. This can also have health implications due to the immune system becoming overtaxed.

So this is where the catch 22 becomes apparent…you train so hard, so regularly, that your actual ability to function away from the gym is massively impaired…yet to combat this you go to the gym and train hard. Eventually you will be affected by this – usually with injury, illness or your inability to perform at your best (in a sporting arena or work) due to the constant state of stiffness and pain.

To overcome this problem you need to look no further than Olympic athletes!! They periodise their training in order to peak for competition at the right time, and also maintain the longevity of their careers. Having DOMS the week of your event and struggling to even sit on the toilet all week isn’t going to win you any medals.

Ok so we’re not all Olympic athletes, but we can take a leaf out of their book and learn to schedule more recovery time into each week or each month if that seems easier. Below are a few ways to do this, and will not only break the DOMS cycle but also mean that for a good proportion of each week or month you will be reaping the benefits of all of your hard training.

1-have one day per week where you focus on mobility and movement. Try to maximise the movement in your joints and just enjoy the freedom it brings. Yoga, animal flow or just a basic stretching routine all work well here!

2-similar to above apart from you could use just low level cardio type exercises to get the body working and pushing the toxins built up from your other sessions out of the muscles. Swimming, rowing, walking or biking can work to good effect.

3-have a de-load week every 4th-6th week. A de-load week is where the intensity and volume of your workouts are brought down by a decent percentage, and allows the body to adapt to the work you have put in on the previous weeks. Great for serious gym goers!

4-get a massage. This will help to relax you, break up tight muscle tissue and speed recovery!

5-LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! If you feel tired, stiff and ill then rest and recover! If you must do something then active recovery as in 1 and 2 is the way!

Any questions on today’s post then fire them in the form below!

 

 

Endurance is a great thing. When looking at sport or general human functionality as a whole it’s apparent that endurance is involved in some way. It’s not just the pure endurance sports such as marathon that require it, everyone from a Crossfit athlete to a 200 metre track and field athlete utilise it in some form.

Types of endurance: this is critical to understanding where we apply ourselves during our training in order for us to gain the best adaptions for our body. Specifically training in the right way will give you the edge you need.

Aerobic endurance: this is the energy system mostly utilised by the endurance type athletes such as your marathon runners and triathletes, however it also underpins every other type of activity we take part in and is crucial for recovery and sustenance of day to day activities. Oxygen is used to break down fats in the body, to produce a very constant low level supply of energy – depending on conditioning this supply can be almost endless. A good aerobic base is key in most athletic pursuits and prepares the body for higher intensities later on.

An-aerobic endurance: the an-aerobic systems of the body allow us to perform shorter, more intense bouts of activity, but with much greater production of force. A weightlifter may only produce 1-2 seconds worth of force, but that force will be enough to take a phenomenal amount of weight from the floor to above their head in that time – no endurance required. As the intensity comes down (load decreases), and the volume increases (more reps, sets etc.) then there becomes a middle point where power and endurance meet and this is ‘an-aerobic endurance’.

For an-aerobic endurance the body utilises stores of ATP (the body’s energy molecules) and muscle glycogen (energy stored from foods carbs etc.) alongside other contributors to produce the force it needs over a certain (usually shorter) period. Once these stores deplete then the body must rest and recover them to perform again. This system also creates a by product of Lactate, and if we cannot buffer this effectively then it will impair speed- speed wins races, so maintaining it is of the upmost importance.

Improving one using the other: being a better endurance athlete requires the development of some form of speed in order to stay ahead of the pack or to have that ability to accelerate on that last 400 metres to take 1st place. Long runs are crucial, but some people become too comfortable at one pace and as a result they never hit that full potential and struggle to switch up a gear. The way to combat this is to hit some speed endurance workouts. Speed endurance is self explanatory: you’re trying to maintain that speed for as long as possible and condition the body to what it feels like. Below are a few options depending on your goals or sport. Beware that these sessions can be very intense and I would advise using them once per week with at least 24 hours rest afterwards.

Session 1- track star 200 workout:

Run 50m @ 90% effort resting twice as long as it took each time for 4 reps.

Run 100m @ 90% effort resting twice as long as it took each time for 3 reps.

Run 200m @ 100% effort resting three times as long as it took each time for 2 reps.

 

Session 2- middle distance dead legs workout:

5 x 600m @ 85-90% of 800m pace resting 2 minutes between rounds. Stop this workout if there is a massive drop in performance as no further gain will be made from it.

 

Session 3- endurance engine upgrade:

Run 800m @ 80% of 800m pace x 3 resting 1 minute between runs.

Rest for 4 minutes.

Repeat the above 2 more times or until there is massive drop in performance.