Blog - Health & Fitness
The trends are changing. Actually I think they have changed a long time ago but it’s just now that the mainstream media is finally starting to catch on it. Gone are the days when the likes of Kate Moss and Victoria Beckham were most women’s idols of physique and general appearance. It’s all about curves. They just have to be in the right places. If you look at some women with amazing bodies like Jennifer Nicole Lee, Kelly Rowland and Nicole Scherzinger, do you really think they got fit by spending all their time on treadmill or reading a newspaper on a recumbent bike? Think again.
So why is it then, that when you come to your regular health club, you see all the girls in the cardio area working at low intensity, or barely moving at all – like walking on the treadmill while holding on?? Some are on the mats going through the motions with 1-2 kg dumbbells, or on the resistance machines, but you barely see any in the free weights area. I’m not talking about everyone here, but the general population. All I see is low-intensity cardio and some basic core exercises. Not enough weights and resistance training. Could it be that girls think that they don’t need to work that hard to get results? Is it the perception that lifting weights is a “man thing”? Or maybe they are still traumatised by the images of hardcore female bodybuilders from the 80s and think that they are going to turn out like that?
Personally I think it’s just the natural fear of the unknown. We usually choose things that are familiar to us and we are guided by habits. Also it may be a bit of a “sheep factor”. What ever are the reasons for not taking advantage of free weights and high-intensity cardio, the bottom line is that this kind of training will increase your metabolism due to excess post-exercise calorie consumption (also called afterburn) and increased muscle tone over time. That means you can enjoy more food and you’re still burning a significant amount of calories while enjoying a relaxed evening at home! How great is that?
More and more women are realising it, and this trend is not going anywhere. If you don’t have enough experience with weight training, all it takes is a bit of learning at first, consistency with the programme, and the results will follow shortly. However, you have to take action first. If you need help to get you started, I have personal training or distance coaching programmes available to suit your goals and schedule. Feel free to get in touch!
Committed to your success,
Ru “The Sculptor” Wikmann
Hope you all had a great Bank Holiday weekend! Mine has been quite eventful… I competed at Miami Pro European – one of the biggest physique contests in the UK this year. In Fitness Model category I won my group and took the overall title, coming out on top in a competition of about 30 guys. Totally ecstatic about it!! Even more so because of how long it took me to win my first show – I entered my first contest in September 2010, this was the 3rd time I was competing with Miami Pro, and my 6th contest in total. And it’s been a rocky path from the beginning.
First of all – I was never supposed to be doing these things. I had a bone condition that left me terribly unfit – I couldn’t do a single push-up or pull-up until I started weight training at the age of 17. Tell me – does this kid look like a future champion fitness model?? Not quite sure about that.
Anyway… Fast-forward almost 10 years, and I’m entering my first competition. I saw a poster, got intrigued and decided to take up the challenge. I had no idea what to expect, I just did it for the adventure. And even then bad things were happening – I dropped a weight plate on my foot backstage (the dumbbell fixings were loose!!). I still rocked the stage, and to my surprise placed 3rd. I thought “Wow… That means I can really do it!” so I kept competing acquiring a string of 2nd place finishes. And I couldn’t help but getting upset about it – that feeling when you come so close to achieving your goal many times but it just keeps slipping through your fingers…
I can’t say that quitting never crossed my mind, however, rationality always took over. I just programmed myself to see that 2nd place as an encouragement in order to prevent defeatist attitude. In my mind every time it was just a confirmation that I have what it takes – just had to bring it!! I kept facing adversity – for example, catching a stomach flu a week before my last show and totally losing my condition. But it didn’t matter. I knew there would be a second act very soon. I knew that if I make all the necessary steps the time would come for me to succeed. And so I did.
In order to have this sort of perseverance you must have a healthy self-image. You can’t allow self-limiting beliefs to take over. In most occasions we have a far greater potential than we think. That doesn’t mean that you have to be delusional. The likelihood of you running 100m faster than Usain Bolt is very very small. You even got more of a chance in turning a billionaire. However, if you set rational goals, focus on them, and allow your creative mechanism of success to work its magic, steering and correcting course where necessary – there is nothing that can stop you.
Committed to your success,
Ru “The Sculptor” Wikmann
I had a discussion with someone recently who was completely adamant that all the fitness industry keeps coming up with are news ways how to exercise more and eat less. That this is all there is to fat loss, and if everyone followed this simple rule, there would be no obesity. Funny enough, the person didn’t have a very healthy look, and could do with a serious fat burning regimen. But hey – everyone is an expert of training and nutrition these days, and that’s why there is so much mixed information on these topics. Anyway, lets examine this outlook closer – I can’t agree with this being the universal formula.
Exercise more? For 99% of population this may well be the case. However it is not that simple. You do have to constantly push yourself, and increase intensity, frequency and/or volume to keep progressing and see results. But it’s all about the overall balance. It’s not a “one size fits all” situation. Training needs to be specific to the person’s fitness levels, experience and biomechanics amongst other things. Making an 18 stone person with asymmetric movement dysfunctions run 5 miles daily in tennis shoes, and do squats and push-ups with bad form is definitely not going to do any good, but is likely to cause more biomechanical problems and a string of injuries.
Eat less? Now this is where it usually all goes wrong. People still have this idea that what it takes to achieve a great physique is starving yourself. In fact this couldn’t be further from the truth. Most of my clients, when they start training with me to achieve life changing results, they find it hard to handle the amount of food required by their nutrition plan until their body adapts in a few weeks. People still have this idea that you should have cereal for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, and dinner when they get home after work. Even though all it is – it’s a HABIT. There is a famous quote that states the definition of insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting to achieve different results. So you must be INSANE hoping for changes in your physique if you are sticking to the same eating patterns. What it takes is breaking these habits, and fitting in more meals during the day is a good start.
There are many factors involved in fat loss – they must be balanced to achieve maximum results. Blood sugar and insulin levels need to be controlled, that’s the reason why you need more meals per day. And they are not necessarily “small meals” because each case is individual. Boosting your metabolism is a priority if you want to turn into a fat burning machine. If you don’t have adequate calories and you are undertaking a vigorous exercise regimen, your body will be forced into slowing it’s metabolism down to survive! And you will waste away muscle. It takes more calories to maintain muscle cells that fat cells, hence your body will just give it up as unnecessary burden. Also where your calories come from is absolutely crucial – having sufficient amount of protein with a complete amino acid profile, as well as consuming the right type of carbs and fat, in order to achieve the right balance between all macronutrients, Once again, there are certain rules to follow, but each case is individual.
The bottom line is – it’s not that simple. It’s not about exercising more and eating less. The key is smart training and balanced nutrition.
Study showed that an out-of-balance diet that’s high in omega-6 fatty acids disrupts the balance of pro- and anti-inflammatory agents in the body, promoting chronic inflammation and elevating the risk of health problem such as asthma, allergies, diabetes and arthritis. The worst one of them is arachidonic acid which is readily converted to inflammatory compounds and excess levels has even been associated with reduced anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids.
Here is a list of much healthier alternatives:
Coconut oil has incredible health properties. It fights viruses and boosts the immune system, helps burn body fat, is easy to digest, and is perfect for high-heat cooking. Although coconut contains saturated fat, it helps lower cholesterol. So use it guilt-free and enjoy its benefits all the while.
Grapeseed oil – although it contains omega-6 fats, they do not have the unhealthy ramifications of hydrogenated oils. Instead, grapeseed oil is heroic in its ability to withstand high-heat cooking. Use it for baking or sautéing; it has a light flavor.
Olive oil contains omega-9 fats and oleic acid. Oleic acid helps your body absorb the omega-3s found in fish oil and flaxseeds. They sensitize your cells to insulin, making it easier for sugar to get into your cells, and for you to burn fat. The best way to use olive oil is by splashing it over salads or steamed vegetables. If you like to cook with olive oil, use low to medium heat to ensure the delicate fatty acids don’t degrade. Also under high heat the antioxidants in olive oil are replaced by free radicals and other dangerous molecules.
Butter from grass-fed cows – rich in CLA, which has strong anticancer properties. CLA also helps the body naturally pack on muscle and is a very metabolically active fat, preventing weight gain. Once you use conventional butter from grain-fed cows, these benefits disappear.
To summarize, cook with coconut oil, grapeseed oil, and butter from grass-fed cows for high heat, and olive oil for gentle heat. Avoid ingesting safflower, corn, sunflower, soybean and cottonseed oils – they are poor quality oils with high amounts of pro-inflammatory omega-6 fats. Canola oil is another oil to avoid. Commonly it is genetically modified, goes rancid when heated, and creates a vitamin E deficiency when ingested. Make these changes today, and it will pay you off with better health and physique!
A lot of guys who dream to get big and strong look at bodybuilders or fitness models in magazines and say to themselves: "I want to be huge like that", "I want arms as big as this, "I'd love to be that ripped" etc. Women look at the photos of celebs and think “I’d love to look like this in a tight dress / bikini” etc. Is it really possible? And to what degree? That largely depends on the genetics your mom and dad have passed on to you.
There are so many variables involved. Let's discuss the most important ones.
- Satellite cells
Strong evidence suggests that the results you see in the gym are highly dependent on the efficacy of satellite cell-mediated myonuclear addition. Basically your muscles won't grow unless the satellite cells surrounding your muscle fibers donate their nuclei to your muscles so they can produce more genetic material to signal the cells to grow. Blessed individuals have more satellite cells that surround their muscle fibers, as well as a remarkable ability to expand their satellite cell pool via training.
- Hormonal profile
Testosterone, growth hormone, insulin etc. All of them will affect muscle growth / fat loss in different pathways, so proper function of endocrine system is essential.
Myostatin is a protein produced in skeletal muscle cells that inhibits that inhibits muscle differentiation and growth. It normally restrains muscle growth, ensuring that muscles do not grow too large. Mutations that reduce the production of functional myostatin lead to an overgrowth of muscle tissue. Myostatin-related muscle hypertrophy has a pattern of inheritance known as incomplete autosomal dominance.
What is the ratio of your clavicles (how wide your shoulders are) to your hips? This is very important to enhance that desired V-taper. How tall are you? Tall guys often have a tendency to look a bit lanky, whereas shorter guys can create that impression muscular thickness. How big your joints are? Muscles look fuller and rounder and can be more aesthetic with smaller joints.
- Length of muscle bellies
When the muscle belly is long with shorter tendons, the muscle could have a greater potential for growth, as well as it looks more aesthetically pleasing (think Phil Heath). However a shorter muscle belly could mean more explosive power and better athletic performance. The easiest muscle to measure is biceps. Flex your arm at 90 degrees angle and contract your biceps. The gap between your contracted biceps and your forearm will indicate the length of the muscle – the shorter the gap, the longer the muscle belly.
- Ratio of slow & fast twitch muscle fibres
Those with a higher percentage of fast twitch fibers will gain muscle mass more readily – think sprinters vs distance runners.
These are the main areas were genetics affect your physique. When it comes to fitness and athletic performance, there are other factors largely affected by genetics – strength, explosiveness, agility, balance, coordination etc.
However it should not serve as an excuse. We all have issues with genetics that we have to work around. Some of us are predisposed to carrying excess fat, some of us are lean but have stubborn areas of fat deposition, some struggle building muscle, and some are muscular but have weak body parts. Some of us have all of this combined, and nobody has perfect genetics! My list of genetic curses is endless, and having a bone condition as a kid set me back in a major way, but despite this I've managed to develop a quite respectable physique.
Also I have never had a client who didn't look better after a couple of months of training (or even weeks), assuming they stick with the program. All of them lose fat and gain some muscular shape.
The bottom line is - genetics make a difference, but intelligent training, adequate nutrition, and supplements can help you maximize what your parents gave you, as long as you’re consistent with your efforts.
- I get hyped up
- I make hella noise
- I talk to myself
- I walk around boasy
- I swear in Russian
- I grunt in Jamaican
- I count reps in Latvian
- I indicate sets with my fingers
- I make crazy faces
- I stare back and grin at people who stare at me
Don't judge me - this is what simply works for me. I can't stand uninspired workouts. I'll do anything to keep the energy up. The music in my earphones also makes a big difference. Do what ever YOU need to do to perform at the highest level. Get excited, get angry - what ever you feel like. You are doing this for a purpose.
Train hard, eat well, and be safe.
Committed to your success,
2012 is in full swing, and hopefully all of you have started it with positive mental attitude and some goal setting. I really don’t like to call them New Year’s resolutions, however the importance to have certain goals and a “TO-DO list” for each year is tremendous. In fact that’s exactly what I did on New Year’s Eve, as I didn’t feel like going out, and didn’t have no family around to chill with either. So I did some planning and preparation instead.
What I’d like to talk about are the mental barriers people set for themselves. Too often I hear some of my clients or people in general saying things like “Oh, I will never look like you”, “It’s not realistic to eat this way”, “I’m too tired”, “I just can’t push myself”. And it’s not necessarily fitness related, what about “I don’t have the time”, “I can never afford this”, “What will people say?”. We all got some negativity creeping up at some point, haven’t we?
With any obstacle you face in life, two things can help you overcome any fear and anxiety that you may have - preparation & action. As long as have a plan, and you proceed to execute it – why would you ever be scared of failure? Everything is a step by step process. Once you’ve given it an absolute 100%... Only then you would see how far you can go. Why limit yourself within mental captivity? The glass ceiling you have built does not exist!! You have to break through it and never look back!! One word… FREEDOM.
Cocoa contains a class of antioxidants called flavonoids, which are also found in teas and red wine. Flavonoids may not only have a direct antioxidant effect, but they may also have a sparing effect on other antioxidants such as vitamins C and E. Cocoa has been used since ancient times as a medicinal remedy for preventing chronic diseases. Cocoa does have some pharmacological properties, such as the ability to increase a substance in the blood called nitric oxide, and it also makes blood cells less sticky. That means blood cells are less likely to adhere to the lining of your arteries, hence preventing cardiovascular disease. Nitric oxide causes blood vessels to expand and allows for an increased supply of oxygen-rich blood in the body - a process called vasodilation.
Fish oil is a source of eicosapentaenoic acic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DPA) acid, more commonly known as Omega-3 fatty acids. It might just be the current teacher’s pet of the supplement world. Benefits include reduced inflammation to help muscles recover after workouts, lower blood pressure, improved mood, memory and concentration, anticancerogenic properties and more. Other physique benefits include increased blood flow (the “pump”), storing more glycogen in muscle tissue, reducing the catabolic stress hormone cortisol, boosting strength and fat-burning. All of this is supported by recent research. Plenty of articles on Omega-3 benefits can be found on http://www.dhaomega3.org if you would like to research it in depth.
For somebody who’s trying to get in shape and improve quality of life, and is training regularly, I would recommend taking 2 grams of fish oil 3-4 times per day. Take it with breakfast, last meal of the day, and also with pre- and post-workout meals due to fish oil’s nitric oxide boosting and cortisol reducing capabilities. Also it’s a great idea to take 3 grams of fish oil when having a cheat meal to decrease oxidative stress from high amount of saturated fat. As for cocoa, it adds great flavor to porridge oats, so I take it at breakfast, and also I add 10 grams to protein shakes (preferably chocolate flavored).
The weekend is officially here. We all know how difficult it is sometimes to stay focused and disciplined when you’re out and about having fun. But let’s put the excuses aside. After all we got goals to achieve, don’t we? So here’s a bit of advice for my fitness disciples and any health-conscious individuals:
If you’re going on a night out, there are two things you need to watch out for most – getting hungry & getting drunk. Both these things WILL take you a step back. So if you want progress – don’t do it.
Be prepared! Where are you getting your meals from? Probably you’re not going to tuck a chicken breast and broccoli the pocket of that trendy blazer you’re wearing. However that doesn’t mean you have to get catabolic by neglecting your nutritional needs or leaving things to chance. If you’re dieting you should make an effort to get that lean piece of meat from somewhere. Tesco & Sainsbury’s by 11am? Maybe you can find good old SPAR when you pop out of club during the night? Also some takeaways do grilled chicken – physique friendly and delicious. If you’re gaining or maintaining you could just take a couple of protein bars or protein flapjacks with you – a convenient meal replacement option.
It’s ok having a drink if you’re not on a very strict diet, but leave the sugary stuff alone. No alcopops, no cocktails, no chasers. Forties all the way – the strong stuff – vodka, cognac, rum, whiskey, tequila… Red wine is a great option due to a high amount of antioxidants; the same goes for certain beers.
Obviously it’s all about moderation. Don’t get wasted. First of all it’s not a good look. Second – you will mess up your sleep and impair muscle recovery. And so many more problems it can cause… You get 7 kcal per gram of alcohol. Empty ones – your body can’t use them as energy, they must be metabolized right away. Alcohol has even been proven to inhibit testosterone levels, even though you might feel on top of the world when under the influence. And then you could get into a fight, get injured and be out of training for some time. Enough reasons to not go overboard?
At the end of the day sometimes you need to have fun and let off some steam. No need to turn into a robot. Just be safe and keep your goals in mind :)
It's been a looooong time since my last post... Just letting you guys know that I am alive and well, just keeping myself busy. I had some computer issues, but now it's about to get sorted, so look out for more posts, new videos and gallery updates very soon!!
So what I've been up to? Mostly getting people in shape, and helping them to achieve their health & fitness goals. All of my personal training clients are progressing very consistently, I have to note Ahmed combating his knee pain, Marcia's complete transformation, Kim dropping numerous dress sizes to look good on her wedding day, Jerome getting rid of his back pain and adding a considerable amount of muscle, and Martin finishing his first marathon. Well done to you guys!! Testimonial section on the website is coming soon, I'd really like to show you all that with hard work and dedication anything is possible.
Also I've been training very hard for my second Fitness Model competition - Fame UK that took place in London on 5th of June. It was a great experience, and I'm quite happy I placed 2nd in my category, considering the sheer amount of competition in my class, including some very decent physiques. Definitely doing it again next year, the event has been renamed to Miami Pro, and looks like it will be even bigger and better. Stacks of stuff coming up so stay tuned!! Talk to you next time.