The Foodie Fitness Freak Christmas Gift Guide

I LOVE Christmas but sometimes it can be so hard trying to figure out what to buy for your friends and family. I’ve put together a list of items (most of which I own so I can recommend) in different price ranges which I believe would make good presents for the ‘foodie fitness freak’. Some are tailored more towards powerlifting and the gym, others towards blogging and so on!

 

Under £5under5

  1. Grenade Carb Killa Protein Bar (my favourite flavours are White Chocolate Cookie and Caramel Chaos) – £2.50 from Grenade

  2. Heart Shaped Bowl – £3.00 from Wilko
  3. Pip and Nut Coconut Almond Butter – £4.59 from Holland and Barrett

 

Under £15under15

  1. Hard Spiky Massage Ball – £7.00 from 66fit

  2. Eat Well Every Day – Clean Eating Alice – £9.00 from Amazon (pre-order)
  3. The Goddess Revolution by Mel Wells – £10.68 from Amazon

  4. STRONG by Zanna Van Dijk – £11.04 from Amazon (pre-order)

 

Under £25

  1. Chilly’s Bottle – 500ml £20 from Chilly’sunder25

  2. Tobisha FlashAir WiFi SD Card (basically allows you to get photos straight from your camera to your phone) – 16GB – £23.99 from Amazon

 

 

Under £50under50

  1. JM Posner Waffle Maker – £26.95 from Amazon

  2. Strength Shop Fractional Plates – £39.99 from Strength Shop

 

More Expensive Giftsexpensive

  1. Lululemon Leggings – £88-£108 depending on style
    (I like the Align Pant II and the Wunder Under Hi-Rise styles) from Lululemon

  2. Inzer Lever Powerlifting Belt – £100 for 10mm, £124 for 13mm(excluding shipping) from Inzer

  3. Apple Watch  – £269 for series 1, £369 for series 2 from Apple

  4. Olympus PEN E-PL7 Camera – £399 from John Lewis

 

 

Why Do Powerlifters Bench with an Arched Back?

“You’re going to break your back benching like that”, “look at her back” and “why is she doing that?”  and so on, all the comments that every powerlifter rolls their eyes at when they post a video on social media. So I guess I’ll get straight to the point, why do powerlifters bench with an arched back?

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  1. Decrease the range of motion (ROM)
    In competitions, you get a ‘start’ command which is when you should start the bench press movement. Once the bar is stationary and paused on your chest, you get given a ‘press’ command where you finish the movement and press the bar up from your chest. A large arch and wide grip significantly reduces the distance that the bar has to move to the chest, making it easier to press a heavier load. This is the same as the fact that you can squat more weight if you do a quarter squat compared a squat that is below parallel.
  2. Allows you to recruit more leg drive
    The powerlifting-style bench press is not just a chest exercise but a whole body exercise. An arched back allows you to use more leg drive. When benching in the powerlifting style, your bum is not sat on the bench but merely resting on the bench and your feet are flat on the floor. This means that the movement is coming from drive of your feet and legs pushing against the floor, not just from isolating the chest muscle. Why do you want to do this?! Which is stronger, your whole body or your chest? This in turn again allows you to shift a heavier load.
  3. Potentially safer for your shoulders
    As discussed in point 1, an arched back decreases the ROM of the bench press movement which allows for a closer touch point to the shoulders. A closer touch point means that there is less shoulder rotation. If there is too much shoulder rotation during the movement, it may lead to shoulder impingement.

I think the key point to remember is that a powerlifting style bench press is a whole body exercise, whereas a bodybuilding style bench press is a chest isolating exercise. They are performed differently as they are essentially different exercises which share a name.

4 Tips for Progressing Your Pull-Ups

    1. Assisted pull-ups
      Assisted pull-up machine
      If your gym has an assisted pull-up machine then use that to help with your progression. Try and decrease the amount of assistance or increase the number of reps if you keep the assistance the same each week – for example, if you did 3×6 last week, then try and do 3×7 or 3×8 using the same weight this week.

      Assisted pull-ups with a resistance band
      If your gym does not have an assisted pull-up machine then do not worry! You can buy resistance bands from eBay or Amazon which are relatively cheap to help you. I would recommend getting a set of bands because as you get stronger, you will need to use a weaker band. You can start off with green or purple, depending on your ability and then move on to the red band before you remove it altogether! So how do I use a resistance band you’re probably thinking…

      1. Loop the band through the bar
      2. Put your knee in the resistance band
      3. Pull-up, up and away
      4. Try not to whack yourself in the face with the band getting down

    2. Negative pull-ups
      This is when you start at the top of the pull-up movement and lower yourself down. How?!

      1. Jump up on to the bar or alternatively use a box to the side of your bar
      2. Hold the top position of the pull-up
      3. Slowly control yourself down, doing it the count of 5 seconds
      4. Repeat

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    3. Back-cessory
      Quite simply – you need to build your back muscles to increase your strength over your bodyweight. My favourite back exercises are- Standing T-bar rows
      – Single arm dumbbell rows
      – Seated cable rows
      – Lat pull downs
      – Single arm lat pull downs

      Barbell rows are also good as you can change your grip – wide grip, narrow grip and reverse grip to target different areas of your back. I personally hate doing wide grip barbell rows so I don’t do them! I tend to rotate these exercises when I get a new plan so I don’t get bored and I’ll do one of these exercises twice a week.

    4. AMRAP sets
      AM-what?! AMRAP stands for ‘as many reps as possible’. I personally find that AMRAP sets for pull-ups have really helped me progress. In my training I will do 3 sets of AMRAP with a long rest in between each set (2-3 mins). Try and get an extra rep each week!

Tips for the Beginner Powerlifter

I wrote an article on ‘How Can I Start Powerlifting?’ ages ago but I still feel it is very relevant with the exception that the GBPF (Great British Powerlifting) has now change their name to British Powerlifting.

I thought an article with some tips for people who are just starting powerlifting would be helpful as I’ve seen that many of my Instagram friends are coming over to the dark side 😈.

  1. Find yourself a knowledgable person
    I don’t mean some random Professor of Physics (although powerlifting is basically physics) but someone with knowledge of the sport. This could be a powerlifting specific coach, a powerlifting club or simply your friend in the gym who has trained/competed in powerlifting. I personally would recommend finding a powerlifting coach but I know this isn’t a feasible option for everyone e.g. students. If you look back at my first article linked above, it gives instructions on how to find British Powerlifting affiliated clubs and joining the British Powerlifting group on Facebook is good way to find others who train locally to you.

  2. Start thinking about a plan to follow
    If you find a coach, it is likely that you will be given a plan tailored to you and your weaknesses but if not, I recommend Powerlifting To Win as your starting point. There are reviews of many powerlifting programs as well as free Excel spreadsheets which you can download, put in your 1 rep max for each lift and it will generate numbers for you. It is very important to have a structure so that you don’t end up doing the same weight, sets and reps each week so you can progress. If you are converting from a bodybuilding style program, be aware that these programs may look very different to what you’re used to.

  3. Test your one rep max
    One what huh? Your one rep max is the maximum weight you can lift for one rep for each lift. It’s a good idea to know what your numbers are to start with so that you can measure your progress and as I said in tip 2, these numbers can be used for your program. You could just estimate these numbers but I personally think it is best just to test before you start your program so you know at what level to gage your training.

  4. Be prepared to make a lot of technical changes to your lifts
    Even after 2 years of powerlifting training, I am still changing my technique on my lifts. No one has perfect technique and there are always parts which can be improved. As a beginner, you will likely have to make a lot of technical changes. Simple examples of this are squatting to depth and adding in a pause on bench which are not commonly done outside of powerlifting training. Don’t get bogged down by all the new cues, you will do them on autopilot before you know it!

  5. Don’t cut weight for your first meet
    Okay, so you may think I’m getting ahead of the game here talking about meets/competitions already but don’t forget this one. If/when you come to compete, you will have enough to worry about on the day without worrying about making weight. Wherever your weight sits naturally (NO CUTTING), compete in that weight class – even if you weigh 64kg, for your first meet there is no point cutting 1kg. Your first meet should be an enjoyable experience without that added worry. One thing that social media doesn’t tell you about powerlifting is that SO many rebound and binge after competitions, just like bodybuilding, due to restriction from making weight. Yes, I was one of them and I have my wonderful coach to thank for helping me beat the viscous circle of restriction and binging that I forced upon myself.

  6. Embrace the singlet
    Tight on your quads, baggy at the crotch and leaves nothing to the imagination – we all have to wear the lovely singlet. There is no getting past it, a singlet is a singlet but embrace the singlet is all I can say.

  7. Listen to your body
    Powerlifting training is intense. You will be working at much higher weights compared to other types of training and the risk of injury increases with that. If something doesn’t feel right, then stop. There is nothing more soul-destroying than being injured for months on end. Remember, it is a marathon not a sprint.

I hope you found this useful and enjoy what powerlifting has to offer!

 

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