In the first part of this blog on Batched Workouts we went over why you might want to try these time saving intensity increasing sessions, the reasons were as follows:
Decreased traveling time
Decreased traveling expense (and stress and pollution!)
Decreased time spent warming up
Increased training density (the amount of work in a short time)
Freeing up whole days where no evening is used up or no kit needs to be carried
Allowing longer for recovery periods
Fits between sports activity more easily
Decreased duration needed for steady state cardio
Toady we’ll look a little bit closer at the format and the types of workout
More on the format or Batched workouts
The format for the Batch Workouts are a variation on the following theme
Warm-up (including mobility work)
- Weights One: compound lifts (push pull legs)
- Metabolic conditioning
- Weights Two: Isolation or machines (depending upon needs)
- Steady state cardiovascualr work (dependent upon needs)
- Warm-down (including strength and prehab)
The different movements and drills must be in that order for you to be able to perform them well. The warm-up is obvious but there’s no stretching there just mobilisation drills. Static stretching can impact upon your ability to lift heavy, switching the muscle off. Next the intense heavy compound weights come before the metabolic conditioning for obvious reasons – you will be too fatigued after. However you will notice there’s another weights session. This is the isolation and/or machine only session and for those looking for muscle gains in certain groups one common example is arms or shoulders. They are placed after the met. con. session as if they were before they would compromise your ability to do the compound exercises involved in the different met con drills. Sure you want be able to go as hard on them but the ‘pre fatigue’ of the drills will mean the muscle will be smoked afterwards.
The warm-down is where stretching and prehab movements can be incorporated.
A batched workout example
- Warm-up (including mobility work)
- Weights One: Deadlift, bodybuilder style bench, barbell row 5×5
- Metabolic conditioning: for time superset dumbbell thrusters & pull-ups 20, 15, 10, 5 reps
- Weights Two: Lateral raises, bicpes preacher curles
- Steady state cardiovascular work: 15 minutes bike
- Warm-down: Light stretching etc
Different sessions for different goals
Different people have different goals and needs, below is an examples of how you may change similar sessions to incorporate different goals
Physique: hypertrophy (muscle gain) and conditioning
- Warm-up (including mobility work)
- Weights One 5×5: Deadlift, bodybuilder style bench, barbell row
- Metabolic conditioning: dumbbell thrusters, pull-ups 20, 15, 10, 5
- Weights Two: a1 rear lateral raises, a2 incline flye. b1 biceps preacher curls a2 Close grip bench
- Steady state cardiovascular work: 0 minutes
Physique: fat loss and muscle maintainance
- Warm-up (including mobility work)
- Weights One 5×5: Deadlift, bodybuilder style bench, barbell row
- Metabolic conditioning: dumbbell thrusters, pull-ups 20, 15, 10, 5
- Weights Two: a1 rear lateral raises, a2 bicpes preacher curls
- Steady state cardiovascular work: 15 minutes
- Warm-up (including mobility work)
- Weights One 5×5: Olympic lift, split squats, unilateral heavy upper body work
- Metabolic conditioning: sled pushing
- Weights Two: twisting movements like cable chest press and rows
- Steady state cardiovascular work: 15 minutes (in required)
(this would of course be one of two or three session the other having plyometric drils etc)
If you’re detained or a novice then these types of training sessions are either 1) not for you or 2) going to have to be altered so allow you to get the best out of them, you may even wish to leave out the metabolic conditioning al together:
- Weights: squat, dumbbell bench press, dumbbell row, external rotations
- Difficult but steady state cardiovascular work: 20 mins rowing machine and bike
Nutrition to support this batching
We all know that what you eat can have a great effect on how you perform in the gym, with the slightly long sessions of a batched workout you have to turn your attention to fueling and recovery. There’s a couple of ways to do this (in my preferred order)
- A shake containing higher GI carbs and protein just before during and afterwards.
- A shake containing lower glycmeic index carbs 15 mins before and then another straight afterwards
- A meal of solid protein and low GI carbs 2 hours before then sipping a recovery drink towards the end of the session.
This would sit on top of your normal healthy diet based on lots of fibrous veg, lean meats and fish with nuts, seeds, fruit, whole grains as required.
Get more good, interesting, tasty foods in your life, support good health and great body and cut the mess and stress.
(clock design M&Co. 5 O’Clock, Tibor and Maria Kalman)
Practically speaking, which is what this blog is all about, ‘diet’ is only a small part of the nutrition picture, it is also the lifestyle you lead, the types of cooking you like to do or find easy. These are all things that have a huge influence on what goes into your mouth.
When we looked at Batched Training we discussed the methods you would use to switch up your training focusing more on the things that work and saving yourself a LOT of time in the process. Here we’ll try and cover a few ideas that may work for diet and nutrition meaning less time stress and mess but rather a better more interesting diet, better health and a better body.
Batching for those who don’t know is the process of saving up similar tasks and doing them together to save all the time you spend in preparation. If you’re not convinced I have put more examples in the Batched Training entry. With exercise this would be getting to the gym, getting changed, showering, warming up etc. When talking about diet and nutrition you would think about things such as chopping vegetables, cooking, washing up of filling the machine and so on.
Below are some examples of Batching hacks I use in clinic.
Batch one: Food list and food shopping
Put together a lists of foods that you will go through in the week, put in a ‘core’ of good foods; lean meats, veg, pulses, grains, quality dairy etc. This is make things a lot easier, healthier and save you money. You can even go so far as putting together a menu for the week and buying just those foods.
If you’re leading a busy hectic life you need to do one thing first off: buy at least some of your food on-line.
We would all like to be able to shop locally, buying fresh ingredients on the day and you can when you have time but you have to safeguard your diet, this means buying good choices every week including
- Lean meats (pref organic with lots of game etc)
- Lots of fibrous vegetables
- Nuts & seeds
- Tins of pulses, tomatoes etc
- Frozen vegetables as a back up
With on-line shopping not only do you not have to travel there and back (remember your time is money) and by using the proforma shopping lists from you account to make it an almost one click experience, even more time saved. By using tools like MySpupermarket you can even save money filling your basket and comparing the supermarkets.
So time and money saved.
Batch two: Food preparation
I am a big fan of chopped frozen veg for busy people. If it’s a choice between that and not eating veg then go for it. When your shopping arrives you can take 10 mins to dice up a load of veg and meat , divide into usable portions and freeze for use later in the week. Seems stupid but this will save LOTS of time.
Batch three: Cook up a load of meals all at once
Did you know you can cook more than one meal at once. Obvious I know, but you’d be surprised the amount of people that haven’t though about this. Dedicate 90 mins somewhere in the week to cooking up a load of stews, stir fry soups etc and store them in the fridge and freezer to eat through the week.
You can also use the double dinner trick as well; just cook twice as much as you need and take to work the next day (if office politics allows!), it’s simple, obvious buy most people forget about this. Of course it works better for some dished than others – scrambled eggs would not be a good choice here!
This also works for portion of protein like chicken breasts, salmon etc. Cook them all at once and store for use in other dishes.
The ‘Pret Audit’: batching your lunch fact finding and decisions
Go to the 3 nearest sandwich shops to work, select 4 dishes that comply to your needs for example; maybe you’re carrying a little too much weight and need to cut down on carbs and/or fats and need to up the protein? Write down the choices (that is very important) and keep this list in your desk draw.
When at work with no food from home look at the list make your selection (a 1st and 2snd choice from the same place) then leave to buy it.
Batch five: Supplements
In an earlier blog I discussed the types of Supplements people may use in the context of a busy but healthy lifestyle. Many people use these proteins, vitamins, fish oils, herbs etc but most have trouble remembering to take them every day. By dividing them down into packs using small ziplock bags containing all the pills and capsules for each day you can just grab and go in the morning confident in the knowledge that all you need is there.
This also works for protein powders as well though by simply having a tub at work in the desk draw and one at home there’s little need for this.
The above hacks swing between really obvious, a bit geeky and simply really boring but they do work. I encourage you to give them all a god for just 2 weeks (the second week is where the magic really kicks in) and see how much time this frees up leaving you to enjoy life and not be tied to the cooker
Many of you interested in lifestyle redesign, efficient and effective working techniques and the like will have heard about ‘batching’. In a nutshell it is the process of saving a load of similar tasks up to do at the same time with the aim of decreasing the amount time wasted switching between different tasks. It works incredibly for email, filing, sending post, food shopping (more on this is the ‘Batching your diet’ post) and is a powerful ‘lifehack’, is there any way to employ this trick with health and fitness though?
Recently I have been working with more and more ‘time poor’ people and seeing as it’s so useful elsewhere you have to ask yourself ‘can bathcing work for training and gym time?’
I think it can but you have to think about the structure of your training, how you support this training with diet and also think about how to would change the format dependent upon goals and fitness levels
Now before we go on this is aimed at those go really just go to the gym to train, if you play sports then you can use the fact that you condition yourself whilst competing meaning that you really just need to the fill the gaps with properly structured strength work (supported by good diet!) every 2-4 days, this is what Tim Ferris (author of 4-Hour Workweek or the 4HWW) did with quite spectacular results here
The advantages of Batched Training
Let’s face it, getting to the gym, changing twice, showering and getting back is time consuming, by batching your training you are going to save a lot of time through the week and also free up whole evenings, mornings or lunch hours for other things be it socializing or ‘personal admin’.
Another advantage is it will force you to focus on the really important things that count, meaning you loose the junk exercises, and shake up your training.
- Decreased traveling time
- Decreased traveling expense (and pollution)
- Decreased time spent warming up
- Increased training density (the amount of work in a short time)
- Freeing up whole days where no evening is used up or no kit needs to be carried
- Allowing longer for recovery periods
- Fits between sports activity more easily
- Decreased duration needed for steady state cardio
shall I go on?…..
OK so time saved and better quality training blah blah blah, but there must be a catch?….
Possible problems and pitfalls
OK so we all know that you can’t spend hours in the gym doing quality training, if you’re training hard there simply isn’t the energy so ‘saving up’ workouts and doing them side by side isn’t going going to cut it.
Also you are going to have to accept that these batched training sessions are going to be hard work, however as discussed above this is probably an advantage – the more effort yo put in, even just in short bouts, the better your results will be.
Structures and batching by goals
There are certain types of exercise you want to look at when putting together a structure for these sessions; they are the training methods you will employ to increase fitness and better your physique they are (with components of fitness in breackets)
- weights (strength power etc)
- cardio (cardiovascular health)
- lactatate/metabolic work (metabolic conditioning, strength endurance, also corodination)
- prehab and mobility/flexibility (range of motion, flexibility, muscle and joint health etc)
You have to put all these things in the right order to allow for management of fatigue and to et the most out of each type of exercise, through a lot of experimentation (on myself and others) I have found his to be the following
The basic template
- High intensity weights:25 to 40 mins
- Metabolic training#
- Weights two (if needed)
- Longer duration steady state cardio.
If you compare the average time invested every week for someone looking to get a lean muscular physique it may look like this
- Monday: Weights: 1hour
- Tuesday: Metabolic type conditioning: 25mins
- Wednesday: Weights and steady state cardiovascular training: 40 mins
- Thursday: rest.
- Friday: Weights: 1 hour
- Sunday: Steady state cardiovascular training: 40 mins
Total time invested: 5 hours 50 (including training plus 25 mins changing traveling each time)
Compare this to the batched method
- Monday: Batch one: 1 hour 15mins
- Tuesday: off
- Wednesday: off
- Thursday: Batch two: 1 hour
- Friday: off
- Sunday: off
Total time invested: 3hour 5 mins (including training plus 25 mins changing traveling each time)
Time saved per week 2 hours 45 mins, that’s 143 hours a year or almost 1 week!
In part two I’ll go into the batches used in the above example, how to change the plan up for different goals and we’ll also look at how to fuel these sessions
Why do people wait until they are injured to concentrate on the function of the health and function of the joints and smaller or weaker muscles?!?!
The mind boggles.
‘Prehab’; including certain training into your routine to improve function and safeguard health, can not only help you lift more weight but also save to the pain, time and expense of being injured!
Why don’t people do more of it then? In my experience it’s for one or more of the following reasons:
- Short sighted lack of imagination.
- Not knowing what to do
- Not knowing where to include the movements and drills.
One example of where prehab is useful is the shoulders. Most people who train iwth weights will at some point get a niggle or worse in their shoulders. I have penned a short piece on shoulder prehab and health here: http://www.muscletalk.co.uk/article-smart-shoulders.aspx
For the Q&A thread see the link here: http://www.muscletalk.co.uk/m_2731524/tm.htm
OK a little bit of fun here: to celebrate the release of the new Bond book Devil May Care I have written an article to clear up some of the loose ends on Daniel Craig;s training for his Bond role in Casino Royale which has just been published over at Bond Lifestyle . Topics covered include:
- the Danial Craig Workout (all the variations you’ve read about),
- a proven physique workout for the Bond Body,
- a ‘real James Bond workout’; special ops and swat type training,
- lots of info on conditioning, diet and recovery info and plans and
- a sample James Bond Diet.
It’s a bit of fun, but remember I’m a Registered Nutritionist and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist so there may even be some nuggets of good information in there!
Of course Quantum of solace is on the way so an update may be necessary at some point.
Find the article here: The real James Bond workout
Step into a supplement shop and you are bound to see Spirulina, blue green algae, Chlorella and the like on the shelves. These are all microscopic plants that have been collected and dried and are sold in three main forms, powders and tablets and capsules. They are also very expensive so what do they really do, could there be any harm in taking them and are you being ripped off?
Aquatic plants have been eaten form many thousands of years, most notably seaweed and can be a very positive addition to an individuals diet being relatively high in many vitamins and minerals, but these types of supplement have some quite extraordinary claims made about them.
Its a little bit unfair but lets look at these oft-quoted (by the manufacturers, that is) benefits one by one;
They have nutritional profiles uniquely beneficial for the human body.
How so, and in what context? Does this does mean that they are more beneficial than any other food source?
It is a completely natural whole food
So like fruit, veggies, Meat, Fish, grains, nuts and seeds then?
It is easily absorbed by the body.
As is table sugar
It is low in calories, sodium and cholesterol.
Well, the a usual recommended dosage is 4-10 grams a day!
They contain more calcium than milk, more protein than meat, more iron than spinach and more beta-carotene than carrots
These food stuff mentioned are MUCH cheaper even the highest grade, organic sources!
Other touted benefits include cancer treatment and prevention, detoxification, immune support, memory improvements, beneficial effect upon attention deficit type disorders and on, and on. In truth there is no peer reviewed scientific research that shows that these types of supplement are of more benefit than whole food, whole food being much cheaper…
“Its my money though and Ill spend it on this if I want”
Be my guest
Take a cursory glance a supplement stores and you’ll see prices like £13 for 30g of powder (tablets and capsules usually cost significantly more gram for gram). The supplement industry has come a long way in the last 20 years and is now a huge industry ($18.8 billion in 2002 in the USA alone – and rising) and also a highly competitive one (no company has more than a 10 percent of the market), what this means in practice is that hyperbole, unsubstantiated claims and hard sell are the order of the day. Companies producing these particular products have been forced to retract statements about their health benefits.
“So you’re saying apart from cost though, there’s no problems?”
Understand, if the makers claim fantastic health benefits and the consumer is foolish enough to subscribe to this to the detriment of a healthy diet or delaying seeking medical attention for a health complaint then yes, that it a problem, however there is a much more direct and serious issue….
Of great concern are toxic effects from blue green algae. These types of products are essentially repackaged pond scum. Nothing wrong with that, but what is a problem is that if these ponds are loaded with toxins like heavy metals and microcystins. The algae readily absorb these types of toxin which are concentrated by the drying process. This is such a problem that the US Food and Drug Administration has seen fit to issue a warning to consumers.
The Bottom Line
These types of supplements are a rarely (if ever) recommended by those other than the makers of the product and those from associated companies. In essence they are just another type of food stuff usually preferred by fish and wading birds dried and sold on for huge sums. If you decide to buy these types of supplement find a high quality, uncontaminated product, and be prepared to spend a lot of money to take it home. However be prepared to spend a lot more on high quality, whole food otherwise you have totally missed the point.
University of California at BerkleyBallantine
The trial of the blue-green algae eaters. FDA Consumer 20(6):33-34, 1986.
Supplement Business report 2003. San Diego, CA: Nutrition Business Journal; 2003
Gilroy GJ et al. Assessing potential health risks from microcystin toxins in blue-green algae dietary supplements. Environmental Health Perspectives 108:435-439, 2000.
Want to stay in beautiful places around the world for nothing?
Fancy learning a LOT more about the food and drink you consume and how it’s produced?
Want to me people from different walks of life?
Wwoofing is volunteer farming on organic farms like this one around the globe. They are set in some of the most beautiful places on earth and you can stay from a matter of a few night to many weeks or months. The work is often minimal the food and accommodation either free or very cheap and the options endless…
or… how I learned to build muscle and burn the fat off in 15 mins
I hate gyms.
The techno, the mal-adjusted attitudes of some of the members, the people sitting on cycles reading newspapers wasting their time…. it’s hell. I want to get in and out as quickly as possible but I also want to look good and be healthy.
How do you do this, after all if you read the fitness magazine you’ll see they constantly run these 45 minute workouts?
Ignore them. Train smart, train short.
By choosing exercises that use the large muscle groups and by using relatively high loads you stimulate muscle tissue, by combining them you test the heart and lungs and also put yourself in a fat burning mode stripping off more fat than the person cycling that exercise bike for 30 minutes ever will.
But, if they’re so good what don’t you here more about these types of workout?
The problem is they can be daunting and in a world where gyms and PT’s like to, and in many cases need to work in a conservative fashion, training their clients but not pushing them past their comfort level, they are really neglected.
Why you should do these
1) They take a few minutes, BUT
2) help develop and extremely high level of fitness that carries over into your other training AND
3) Burns the fat away for hours AFTER you leave the gym increasing the amount of fat your body burns for sometime after – even when you’re sitting in front of the TV that night.
Strength endurance and lactate threshold type training boosts the kind of qualities that a mixed martial artist or wrestler may need. In my time working with martial artists an athletes I have used these type of drills to get people performing at high levels for extended periods of time, here’s three examples
With all these watch the loads, you will get tired quickly so be a little conservative.
all done for 4 sets at 16, 14, 12, 10 reps with 45 seconds rest between sets.
10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5 reps of the following movements
dumbell bench press
pull ups (or pull downs)
deadlift or deadlift highpulls
hanging leg raises (hanging from pull-up bar)
shoot through for the best time you can get only stopping when yo absolutely have to
10, 8, 6, 5, 4 reps of the following
bent over rows
Do 10 reps of each, don’t stop, push on through without letting go of the bar. Rest for 1 minute and then repeat with 8 reps, rest one minute and 6 reps and so on.
Pick one of the above and do it today
Always make sure that you’re OK to train at these high intensities by getting checked by the doctor before undertaking physical exercise.
First published March ’08
If you only have tasty ‘good’ foods in your kitchen then you are going to eat well at least some of the time, right? So stop messing around, save time effort and money and but what you need to to get you to your goals of a strong healthy body.
The Capsule Kitchen is an idea I use often in clinic and something that I will expand on in an up-coming book but below is a condensed version of the food choices component. The full version of the Capsule Kitchen also encompasses food bought less often, cookware and utensils as tricks you can use to make buying your food simple, easy and quick and also save money at the same time. However, for not we’ll stick to the shopping list
What is on the shopping list
On top of just listing foods that you should get regularly I find helpful to put in the context of your kitchen at home. As I can’t tailor this plan to each of you just make sure that yo have a good amount of the following always on hand.
What is in the kitchen
Legumes: either tinned or dried including lentils, chickpeas, beans etc
Oils and fats
Virgin or extra virgin olive oil is great for salads and low temperature cooking (roasting vegetables etc). Coconut oil is great for frying (it is a more healthy type of saturated fat) as is butter. NB other healthy fats like flax and fish oils should be kept in the fridge
Green and other similar teas
Tinned fish: mackerel, salmon, tuna, pilchards etc
Lean cuts of meat
Fish: Oily and non oily
Cheese: Both high quality low fat and also strong cheeses
Fruits and berries (some of course can be kept out of the fridge)
Sauces: try to find the low fat and low sugar options, they are out there it us takes a little looking.
In the freezer
Your freezer is your safety net for when you fridge stocks run low.
Meat, poultry an fish
pre chopped by you and in bag bought from the freezer section; it doesn;t matter, just keep a selection.
Every time you cook up stews, chicken breasts, stir-frys, chilli’s etc then cook 2 or 3 times as much as you need and divide into single servings.
What is NOT in the kitchen
There are very few ‘bad foods’ but only ‘bad diets’ but the more of the flowing foods you can leave out of your diet the closer you will reach your goals. ‘If it’s in the house then in the end you are probably going to end up eating it’, if this is a given then you would be well advised to consider binning the following:
Soft drinks and most juices
Fatty dairy products
Processed and/or high fat meat products
Most foods in colourful boxes
Frozen ready meals and similar products
Cheap meat products (grill steaks etc)
Crisps chips and other snack foods
ANY products containing hydrogenated oils
Highly processed baking and baked products
Tinned fruit in syrup
I talk a lot in the gym. It’s where I exchange a lot of ideas and often train with clients, I know a lot of people in assorted gyms which means a lot of ‘hellos’ and quick chats. I also don’t have a lot of time to train.
The answer is brief intense training sessions
On this blog an in upcoming books you’ll find a lot of info on quick workouts that work; building muscle and striping fat whilst increasing your work capacity.
But…. you have to actually do them in the time alloted.
So given that gyms are become more like social clubs and less like place to forge the body how do you achieve this. Ear plugs, ipods and a lowered gaze are the best advice I can give.
Negotiate with the boss for an odd lunch time – I used to go to lunch at 3.00pm (I’ll cover this one in more detail later…)
Change shoes at your desk and jog (slowly at first) to the gym – ½ your warm-up done right there
Get changed and put on your mp3 player
Set up the bars and equipment you need
Put on an obvious stopwatch (if people see you’re against the clock then they’ll be less inclined to stop you
Lower your gaze and look mean (without looking like Ben Stiller giving the Blue Steel) and don’t make eye contact
Storm through your workout
If you are stopped by someone remember that they pay the same membership fee you do and also that the next time you need the bar they may be using it, so be nice keeping in mind that you got there first! Explain if you’re doing clusters etc, that you are against the clock but offer that they can work in if they help change all weights etc.