Getting Started in 2015 – My Recommendations

2015 is well underway any many people will have made the resolution to get in shape, lose that weight or get summer body ready.

For those who have never darkened a gym it may seem like an overwhelming task, taking that first step and committing to a new healthier and fitter lifestyle. Many will even be put off by the cattle market that is a gym in January; so for those people I have 3 phenomenal recommendations to help you get started on your fitness journey.

These recommendations have no costly monthly memberships to gyms or health clubs. They are not fad diets or workouts. They are well designed integrated programmes that not only provide great workouts in short times but also nutrition plans. You will find that 70% of your results are nutrition based and the other 30% are exercise based.

So my first recommendation – P90!

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That’s the updated version of the old Power 90, reworked and updated for the latest fitness knowledge and experience. It’s by my favourite trainer Mr Tony Horton. This is not an extreme programme – no pull ups. It’s described as the on switch to fitness. It’s broken down into 3 blocks and there are 2 different roads you can choose Sweat (cardio based) and Sculpt (resistance based). I’d recommend starting at Sweat then once it’s completed move to Sculpt. BeachBody include a resistance band to get started but I’d recommend getting more bands or some dumbbells. Also there’s a modifier in each workout so you don’t have to jump in straight away – modify to stay in the game. I do it there’s no reason not too.

Each road has 3 phases and you only move into to the next phase once you’ve mastered the current one. So potentially that’s 180 days of fitness taken care of. The first phase is only 25mins a day – sweet. Then it ramps up to 30 and 40 in the next 2 phases respectively. So you don’t burn yourself out initially, you stay committed and you see the results after 90 days!

Also there’s a handy nutrition guide setting out of what you need a to eat. The results off this programme have been great and are a super gateway to other more extreme BeachBody programmes.

My next choice is Focus T25.

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This is a 25minute routine for 5-6 days (Friday’s are double but I usually did the second on Saturdays) with a stretch day too. This is a cardio and resistance routine by the King of Cardio- Shaun T.

I loved doing this programme, get in, get it done and there’s no breaks. Again there’s a modifier for every move. The Alpha round starts you off, it becomes familiar as time goes on. You can actually turn up the background music too once you familiarise yourself with the routines. I recommend this as it really spurs you on. The next round is Beta, builds on the Alpha round moves, ups the complexity of moves and adds some weights. BeachBody kindly add in a resistance band to start you off but I’d suggest getting a light dumbbell as you progress – honestly 3-5kgs is more than enough even for strong dudes/galls. My favourite workout is actually ally Speed 2.0 I always turned the volume up on it and got a little bit too into it. Yeah you may find yourself randomly going “up, centre, back, centre, in, out, in, out ” during the day like I did lol.

There is the option for a third Gamma round. Again it builds on the previous round and gives a great workout.

Doing all 3 phases leaves you at 90 days and I got totally ripped doing this.

The key is focusing and engaging in every single move

Again there’s a simple nutrition plan to support the programme.

Finally and my actual number 1 recommendation is – The 21 Day Fix!!!

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This is a programme my a Autumn Calabrese and is the shortest of all programmes. It only lasts 21 days, the workouts are 30 minutes long with a number of different varieties to keep you guessing if you do successive rounds. The big plus to this programme is the Eating Plan and containers. The workouts are intense as any other and have a great modifier built in. But as I said earlier the key to health is nutrition and this is where this plan excels beyond any other.

You initially work out your caloric range based on your goals, this gives you how many of each container you need to eat during a day. Each container has a list of foods and even adds a few treats. You split your containers across the day and base your food intake on this. Simple and effective. I find spreading them out across 3 meals and 3 snacks works perfectly for me. This is a simple solution to people who are confused about their nutrition and what to eat initially. You will not go hungry on this plan either as the food is filling and nutritious.

You can also easily plan out you eating daily and it really becomes second nature, there’s a variety of foods for each container so you won’t get bored it’s not all plain chicken and rice every day.

Once you master the nutrition plan you can migrate this across to many other BeachBody programmes and is a real investment. BeachBody have recognised this and include these containers with their latest programme Insanity Max 30. Insanity Max 30 is not a recommended programme for newbies, pick it up later down the line.

I have attached below a document which transcribes the 21 Day Fix nutrition plan – what foods are in which containers, how many of each container for each calorie range etc.  It will also show to anyone considering that programme what foods are in the plan.  Print it off, keep it in the kitchen and refer to it.

21 Day Fix Nutrition Plan

Irrespective of the programme you choose BeachBody have a money back guarantee so it’s no risk if you don’t like them – you won’t get your gym membership refunded folks! All these programmes can be done in the privacy of your own home and if you need to you can pause – you can’t pause a gym class. Once you have bought the programmes and decided to keep them you can keep on doing and rotating them – it’s a one off cost. Many of these programmes can be done on the go too, if you travel with work you don’t need a hotel gym they can be easily done in your hotel room!

Whatever you decide to do, kudos to you for starting. Regardless of where you start from you will always progress if stay committed. As BeachBody says – decide, commit, succeed!

If you have any questions or comments please drop me message here or by email tonymacfitness@gmail.com

Yours in fitness & health

LLAP

Tony Mac

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Happy Thanksgiving & Cheat Meals

Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends today, I’m thankful for my loving wife and kids who support me everyday.

It’s that time of year in general plenty of eating and drinking going on, not just in America but everywhere.  We have office Christmas parties, reunions, Thanksgivings, religious festivals etc; all big important events with plenty of food and drink.  **Danger Danger Danger Will Robinson** Unfortunately these splurges play havoc with training preparations and your health and we’ve all done it, yup me included, I’ve over done it at these things and we’ve all felt pretty rubbish the next day and the next day and the next day.  You can have more than your daily caloric intake at these meals.  So what are the options, well lets takes exercise first.  On the morning of these big splurges get some high intensity cardio going.  There are loads of options from running, cycling, studio classes or home workouts (I’m glaring at you Shaun T workouts) but its important to get the heart, lungs and legs going and begin a burn off.  Trust me this will be a great way to start your day and feel pumped for the day ahead.  Next is food, about a few hours before the big meal have a smaller meal, eggs and veggies for example.  But hey you are saying you will ruin your appetite for the big meal – exactly the point.  You won’t eat as much turkey, stuffing or creamed potatoes but you will have eaten some good source of protein, carb and fat before hand.  If you happen to be eating out as the server if you could have the veggies without the butter on top, or some brown rice or not to have the greasy option or just go vegan for the meal.  You entice them with a tip at the end.  Additionally you may want to just consume smaller quantities of the food on offer.  I am no fan of these low fat options about, I’d much rather take a quarter serving of the regular full fat option than a full serving of the low fat option.  Why? because the low fat options are typically further processed and have many more unpronounceable words in them including sugar.   Drinking well, I’m no fan of drinking, I used to drink but stopped about 7 years ago as I hated the feeling next day.  Life is short enough without wasting a day or 2 or 3 being hungover.  If you are going to drink please take a 10 ounce glass of water between each drink – you’ll drink less, feel better hydrated and hopefully not have a dire hangover the next day.

All of this brings me on to cheat meals throughout the year.  When I first started bodybuilding and serious training a had a cheat meal once a week – yup Saturday/Sunday night chinese or pizza it was my reward for a tough weeks work.  This was fine at the start with huge gains but as time went on fat started to appear.  Why because the huge caloric and macro nutrient content of the cheat meal was being turned to fat and wrecking my weekly progress.  So I started to eat differently rather than eat religious healthy 100% for 6 days of the week and binge on one day I took an 80-20 and 90-10 rule each day.  For 80% or 90% of the day I eat very clean and the remaining 20% or 10% I have little cheats the odd kit kat, gluten free cookie, 90% cocoa chocolate etc.  My health improved dramatically over time with this rule.  I still do have the odd cheat meal its never weekly or monthly more often every 6-8 weeks, why?  Because we need to fire up our metabolism from time to time, it adds variety and keeps the body guessing.  If you are preparing for a competition it will be different and tailored to your body.  This is only the system that continues to work for me.  You may be much different.  My most recent cheat meal was at Belfast Christmas Market with a yummy venison burger, yeah it was fatty but hey it tasted good and haven’t splurged like that since September.  I didn’t take any waffles, mulled wine, mince pies or treats so I was pretty happy with that.

One of my favourite cheats are Quest Bars.  Yum yum yummy, anyone who has tasted their cookies and cream or choc brownie knows what I am talking about.  In my opinion the cleanest cheat snack around today – they’ve even come up with crisps but I haven’t tried these.  I always keep a box on hand.  Great for out and about on the road, offices etc.  They are expensive but really nothing else comes close.

Finally be careful of binges but also of cutting out cheats, especially sugary ones from your nutrition.  I recently saw a fitness group doing a No Sugar November.  This turns into a Donut December.  The splurge happens in December when you think you can have some sugary foods and you just eat and eat.  Its not good and its something I always go back to – keep everything in moderation.  Have the odd donut a week, not every day, or chocolate bar a week.  I’ve a sweet tooth for chocolate I find a 90% chocolate slice a day keeps this at bay or if you can find it a chocolate protein shake that tastes nice.

But guess what if you don’t heed any of this opinion thats fine to, take it as a learning experience and move on.  If you do binge at an event take it as restart and redouble your efforts the next day, we all fall down and fail at times but we need to move on and not get bogged down in them. Don’t keep beating yourself up everyday about them, problems really appear very quickly if you are binging daily or weekly.

Keep it balanced

Yours in fitness & health

LLAP

Tony Mac

P90X2 Week 1 Results

A week of P90X2 Phase 1 – Complete and accounted for.  To be fair going back to hour workouts has been tough, but a week into it and I’m actually feeling much better than expected.  Weight wise I haven’t gained or lost, but purely on looks my core is significantly more toned and my shoulders are looking leaner.  I have to admit Saturday my legs, particularly my shins where very sore.

This programme has been supplemented with a good diet and adding a new greens juice.  I’ll post a recipe for that later.

Apologies for not posting this yesterday but it was hectic with a day out at the Armagh Planetarium to a Doctor Who Fan Event – Dimensions In Time.  A phenomenal event organised by the Emerald Garrison, our oldest loved the Tardis Console, the Doctors, the aliens and the atmosphere.  The youngest, eh, he wasn’t so fussed but then this is a little guy scared of Santa Claus!

So week one had a total calorie burn of 3,851.  Reviewing this against both P90X and Insanity this is a similar calorie burn but bear in mind there are only 4 intense workouts, one active recovery day (yoga) and 2 stretch/Recovery & Mobility workouts.  Focus T25 was less than half of this although thats to be expected.  One of the biggest complaints I ever heard about P90X2 is lack of calorie burn, one week in and I can’t find that to be true.  I will be keeping a weekly review of this and keeping an eye on it.

This morning was X2 Core again and I can happily say I upped all my numbers from last week in all exercises apart from the last one – one legged med ball burpees.  I just can’t do 12 in the time allowed, so I think next week it will be doing 12 in whatever time it takes. Sorry Tony but…I…will…just…have…to…pause..you, ok I’ll stop that as its annoying to type and equally read.

Looking forward to upping all my numbers this week.

Today I also used the last of my BSN NO Xplode V3 – our youngest was up late and therefore so was I and needed a little kick start this morning.  I’ll also be doing a review on it this week.

Until the next blog, yours in fitness & health

LLAP

Tony Mac

P90X2 Day 6 – X2 Balance & Power

736 calories burned in 63 minutes. That’s the power of this workout, by far the biggest burn this week and what a workout. Again pure core engagement throughout the workout. I struggled with split lunges as the stability ball just would not stay in the right place and the crawly crab press as I just couldn’t get up on the elbow with a 10lb weight so I had to drop the weight.

There were 3 rounds and no repeated moves here finishing up with a bonus round that again saw be struggle with a plank ball crunch.

But again this is the first time I have completed this workout so struggling and finding my place is to be expected.

Tomorrow is back to Recovery & Mobility, I’ll have a good idea of my weekly calorie burn at this stage and hopefully compare it to some of the other programs I have. I’m going to be repeated this week a further 2 times and assessing then whether to complete a recovery week or repeat for another week. Moving on to phase 2 strength requires a good core stability and strength, if it’s not there phase 2 won’t be effective and I will possibly end up injured. The last thing I have ever wanted to do is injure myself especially my back, once it’s gone it can’t be healed.

That brings me on to one of the real strengths of this programme you do up 6 weeks in phases not like the other programmes where it’s 3 weeks and recovery week in each phase. That really disappointed me in P90x3 was some great workouts like The Warrior and incinerator were only done 3 weeks total. I loved those workouts and would love to have seen more of them.

As I mentioned tomorrow is Recovery & mobility, I won’t be doing a post on it just my weekly total calorie burn and some general notes. Next week I’ll be posting about my arsenal of fitness equipment, supplements and nutrition.

Yours in health & fitness

LLAP

Tony Mac

Let’s talk about P90X Yoga & some alternatives

It’s hard if not impossible to have a conversation with anyone who has attempted or completed P90x without complaints arising surrounding Yoga. That’s my experience anyway, it is a behemoth at 90 minutes long and is by far the longest of any workout.

I’ll be honest I have never completed the full 90 minutes, never have and unlikely I ever will. I have completed the 90 minutes; simply I’ve split it into 2 parts. The first 50 minutes is yoga the second part is pure balance poses. So I split the workout like that. I did the yoga in the morning and if I had time I would do the balance poses in the evening. That’s option 1 and probably a very good option for most

The next alternative is Tony Hortons One on One series which has a yoga work out called fountain of youth. This is my go to yoga workout for P90X. It’s got all the good stuff and is a really fun 45 minutes including some great stretching routines at the end. The down side of this is you will need a region unlocked DVD – many codes are available online for free to unlock DVD players.

You may also swap in P90x2 Yoga (67 minutes) or P90x3 yoga (30 minutes) or 21 Day Fix Yoga (30 minutes). However you will need to have bought these programmes and spending extra £’s may now be in everyone’s budget.

For the wrestling fans it’s worth checking out DDP yoga previously know as YRG (Yoga for Regular Guys). This a yoga programme created by former wrestler Diamond Dallas Page (DDP). A number of former and current wrestlers from Jake the Snake Roberts and Chris Jericho follow this programme and have helped with rehabilitation. If you have some free time check out Arthur Boorman’s life changing DDP yoga results ( Arthur Boorman DDP ). This a fun routine with many moves renamed, warrior poses are Road Warrior and crow/crane is Black Crow etc. Routines range from 20 minutes to 50 minutes depending on the routine selected. Again it will mean you need to shell out for another full program.

You could go to a local yoga class – yes this defeats the purpose of working out at home but it’s a great way to ensure your poses are correct and get started in yoga.

Finally there are plenty of online resources from YouTube to apps that teach yoga with varying costs, lengths and abilities. These free resources are a great way to get some yoga moves into your P90x routine without spending any more money.

Yes P90X yoga is a behemoth, it’s the workout Tony always gets a hard time about due to its length. Perhaps running a close second is Kenpo X and Wesley Idols poor poor horse stance. Buts nevertheless the first 50 minutes of yoga are gold and should be the first stop for anyone doing P90x for the first time and it costs nothing. Even alternate weeks between the yoga and balance routine.

Any questions folks, just ask below!

Yours in fitness & health

LLAP

Tony Mac

P90X2 Day 4 – Part 2 – X2 Ab Ripper

That’s a big ole X (or tick) through a completed X2 Ab Ripper and completing Day 4.

I burned 125 calories on this 18 minute routine, that was a core burner if you can stick with it. I struggled on the Phelon Twist and Tornado moves, I had to take a break part way through but only a brief one.

Engage your core and you will feel these, I know I have have. Particularly in my upper core, the effect on my lower core may be more to do with lack of engagement on certain moves. But I’m hoping that will improve with time. No weighted moves like X3. I did notice a counting flaw on the abrinome exercise – 9 instead of 10 but I just did and extra rep as we can’t have lob sided abs.

A good routine, not perhaps as good as the original but a change and that’s good.

Until tomorrow mornings yoga, that may be fun depending on how sore my core is!

Your in fitness & health

LLAP

Tony Mac

P90X2 Day 4 Part 1 – X2 Total Body

The week is flying by, over half way there and I have to day I’m hating it but loving.  Total was Total Body and really the first day of off balance training.  Between boing push ups, med ball push ups and warrior 3 kickbacks I struggled through this.  Again as I watched it last night I was familiar with the routines so I could concentrate on my form and range of motion.  Honestly I went easy on the weights today, thats one thing with X2 you really can’t go heavy, I’m looking at you triceps kickbacks on a stability ball.  My left side is not as strong as my right so I had to take a few short stops to reassert positions etc, but that will come with time.

I actually didn’t use any weight above 7 kg today, it was assessing by tolerance and I certainly don’t want to go too heavy on the first day and do some damage.

Todays workout clocked in at an awesome 1 hour 2 minutes and burned 653 calories, very close to Plyocide burn.  Again you have the 20 minutes of warmup, 8 minute cool down and 34 minute workout.

Equipment wise there was a lot, dumbbells, PowerBlocks, Stability ball, Rumble Roller, Medicine Balls (5kg x 2), mat and pull up station.  The BeachBody Chin Up bar is the superior one here, I could only do 3 positions not 4 on mine, so the BeachBody one made an appearance today.

Post workout I’ve been wondering what am I going to get out of this programme, sadly today I got no pump – I need to go heavier perhaps.  But my core was engaged throughout the entire workout and that’s what I am looking for – I’m building a strong core fitness, I’ve noticed a visible tightening above the hips and abs already.  When I first started in body building I spent the first 6 months focused on core moves and building a core strength to handle the big lifts (deadlifts, squats, bench press etc) and it served me well.  I never damaged or injured myself seriously, yes a few minor niggles but nothing that sidelined me for weeks or months.  Often when I got a niggle I would take that as a sign from my body to take a rest week, some active recovery and stop lifting the heavy weights that week.  It worked and with the inbuilt recovery weeks in the BeachBody programmes this also works.

This afternoon its X2 Ab Ripper, I was a fan of the original and thought the X3 one was fair but nothing like the original.  This one will be interesting.  Yes I don’t do Ab Ripper immediately after my workout, its 2 fold.  Firstly it’s timing, doing both leaves your workout at 80 minutes.  Glycogen levels are depleted and the 62 minute routine is tough enough some rest is required.  Secondly, first thing in the morning I just do not have the time 60 minutes yes, 80 no – with a family to get out Ab Ripper can wait.

I’ll post a very quickly later about the Ab Ripper but tomorrow is my favourite – Yoga.  More posts tomorrow; not just on Yoga but a blog about the alternative yoga routines especially the behemoth P90X Yoga at 90 minutes!!!!!

Yours in fitness & health

LLAP

Tony Mac