Sunday, July 13, 2014

My Workout Routine

I wanted to go into my workout routine as it should be able to benefit alot of people. It's a simple beginner, full body strength training program. I think a lot of people make the mistake of following routines they see in magazines which are only meant for advanced trainees. If we, as beginners or intermediates, tried to do these routines we would just be spinning our wheels and we would struggle to ever see any meaningul results.

I use the StrongLifts 5x5 routines which is based around the heavy compound movements using 5 sets of 5 reps. The idea as a beginner is just to practice the technique in the key movements, the squat, deadlift and benchpress whilst focusing on progressing every session. It’s really important to train the motor patterns involved in these lifts, as these exercises will be used time and time again. Good technique is crucial so that we don’t get injured and also to allow us to generate the most force possible in an efficient way so that we can lift the most weight.

Progression is in the form of increasing the weight by a little amount, this is known as progressive overload. Progressive overload is the key to being able to see progress in both your overall fitness and muscle/strength gains. Without progressing by either increasing the weight, or increasing the number of reps or sets we will never make any progress and we will still be doing the exact same weight 1 year from now.

We should try to add 2.5kg every single session, which should be a problem for at least a couple of weeks. If you fail at a weight at one session, just stay at that same weight for the next session and then progress on from there.

The routine doesn't really have any isolation movements because as a beginner we need to work on building a sold strength foundation. There is no point in trying to improve your biceps when your whole body is weak. Like Arnold said, you can't sculpt a pebble. Isolation movements are more for intermediate level lifters and above.

Whilst this is a tried and tested routine that will guarantee you get results it’s always important to make sure you are getting enough sleep and your nutrition is on point to maximise your results. If you are trying to gain muscle make sure you are eating in a small calorie surplus.

Are Supplements Necessary?

In my previous post, I mentioned how I use protein powder as a supplement. I know a lot of people, myself included, don't see protein powder as a supplement but rather as just a food source, the same as you would consider chicken or beef for example.

Protein powder doesn't have any magical properties, it's not going to give you an extra performance boost. It's there to help you meet your protein target for the day. You should be aiming for at most 2g of protein per kg of bodyweight each day. Some people recommend a lot more than this but it's not really necessary even though supplement companies might tell you otherwise for obvious reasons.

Since protein powder just gives you a source of protein it's not essential if you are already reaching your targets through your daily diet. Protein powder just gives you convenience. If you don't have time to cook and sit down to eat a full meal, a protein shake provides you with a convenient way of getting a liquid meal in.

Apart from convenience, the other major benefit is that it can actually work out as a cheaper source of protein than whole food. If you compare the price of chicken with the price of protein powder, for each dollar you spend, you are usually going to get more protein from the protein powder than you do from the chicken.

Some people may argue that the quality of protein from whey is higher than what you would find in whole foods due to its higher biological value. But once you take into account their adjusted scores there is really no difference. When you also consider that you will also get your protein from a large variety of sources i.e. a balanced diet then the quality of the protein source will have little to no effect on your overall results.

Most people prefer getting their protein from real foods. The major benefit of doing so is that you will find it more satiating. It’s psychologically better to be able to chew your food as opposed to drinking a liquid. Of course, if you are trying to gain weight and you struggle to eat enough then liquid foods could actually help you to get more calories in.

So, I personally do use protein powder, as I said before, as it does offer me convenience when I am pushed for time, however they certainly are not necessary.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Poker and Fitness

Poker players are a lazy bunch. Let's face it, we don't get too much exercise and most of us don't want to exercise. If you are an online player like me you probably spend most of the day hunched up over your computer screen, mouse in one hand, the other one propping up your head and bashing on the keyboard for when that bad beat hits.

We probably don't eat the healthiest either, deliveries and takeouts being our staple diet. With this unhealthy lifestyle we may tend to develop other bad habits like our sleeping patterns go way off as if we are living in a different time zone. Whenever, I live this way I feel my concentration and energy levels go way down, my tilt control decreases and as a result I start to lose money.

When I start to lose money then I start to pay attention and start to think about the things that I can do to fix this situation. This leads me into fitness. Fitness is a great way to install some discipline back into your life which will lead to better poker results as a consequence.

To make progress in fitness is a lot like any other pursuit in life; it take's time and dedication. But, like everything, anything that is worth having doesn't come for free and takes effort. I like to do some exercise at least 3 days a week, mostly strength training and some aerobic work when I feel up to it. I am not trying to win the olympics, so I don't push myself too hard. Don't get me wrong, I try hard to get the results I want, I'm just not going to kill myself to get there.

In addition to the training I have to make sure my nutrition is on point. I am still going to eat ice cream, chocolate and other high in fat, tasty foods; the difference now is that I am going to control the portion size. I'm also going to make sure I am eating a well balanced diet getting a lot of fruits and vegetables.

I take some supplements too, nothing crazy just the essentials, some protein powder and fish oil tablets, They aren't expensive either I go via a discount code site called and this gives me a great saving on my favourite brand, Bulk Powders. Bulk Powders do some great tasting protein so I really recommend it, don't forget to use the Bulk Powders discount codes to save some money.

The benefit of all this is that when I sit down to play poker and make some money, I am sitting down refreshed and full of energy. My thought patterns are clear and logical instead of slow and fuzzy so I have a better chance of making the correct decision when in the high pressure situation of poker.

I think this will benefit a lot of poker players, go to the gym once in awhile and exercise, your bankroll will thank you.