Ben Marshall

Hey everyone,

Sorry I have been gone for so long but the past 3 months have been a bit of a whirlwind. Moving to the literal other side of the world (The UK to Australia) and then driving across it from east to west (Perth to Sydney) has taken most of my time.It’s been incredible and now being based on the east coast I still have a lot more travelling to do. However throughout all this health and fitness has not been far from my mind.

Travelling can really take it out of you both mentally and physically. This can be detrimental to your physical fitness goals; if you’re physically tired then you won’t want to exercise. If you’re mentally tired you might not make such great choices on your diet. From experience, I can tell you that planning a balanced meal out and then trying to cook it on a gas stove isn’t the most appealing thing when everyone else has take away. So I wanted to list out the ways I try and stay on top of my diet and exercise when travelling.

My top tips for staying in shape when travelling are:

Plan ahead:

Know roughly how long you are away for, what resources you will access to and when and also what your diet is most likely to be.

For me this was easy, I know I will be travelling for about 3 months, I know that I will have gym access whenever I am in a city environment, so I purchased a 24 access card for one of the most popular gyms in Australia. So no matter when I have some free time I can access the gym rather than letting its opening times dictate my trip.

As for food, I am in complete control of my diet due to travelling via car and therefore carrying and cooking all my own food. I do know that the foods I carry are mostly going to be longer life items such as canned goods such as beans and then dried foods such as pasta and rice.

Take the most of any opportunity:

If you know you have an hour spare in the morning before anything is planned, get up early and workout. It doesn’t have to be in a gym, a beach will do (actually beach workouts are so much harder than a gym workout- just try one).

Take any small victory you can:

In these situations, you might not feel like waking up from a tent or from sleeping in your car and exercising but I can guarantee that you will feel amazing after you do. You don’t have to set records or even work out as you normally would. But by doing something you will set yourself up in the right mind frame to stay on track to your goals.

Relax:

Some days you won’t be able to go to the gym, sometimes there will be a few days in a row in which you won’t be able to work out. That’s ok! It can do you good to have time away from it. As long as you are conscious of your activity level and energy intake (and by that I mean keep in balance your food intake to your energy expenditure) then you will be fine.

I actually went 8 days without using the gym, this not only gave my body a break but also meant that as soon as I got back into a situation where I could workout I had more motivation than ever to get back to it.

Just remember health is a balance of physical and mental happiness, sometimes to really benefit mentally such as from experiences you have to be a little lenient in your physical happiness. It’s not the end of the world to lose some definition in your body, and I don’t mean give up and forget about your goals, stay on track as much as you can but you decided to travel for the experiences of a lifetime, don’t let anything get in the way of that, especially not yourself.

Ben

 

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Going Veggie?

 

Benjamin Marshall

So Recently I decided to go vegetarian

For those who know me this was quite a big shock. I am probably the last person people would expect to give up meat. I love meat, the taste the texture, the nutritional profile (because I’m a nerd). I have done eating challenges of wings, steak, burgers and would have safely said meat was an integral part of my diet especially when eating out.

When eating out I would rely on it as a convenient and easy way to ensure I get my protein intake in, especially chicken and beef. I would be the first person you would think of when it came time to eat steak (not because I am a Meat Head).

But yet I’ve decided to give it up… why?

I’m not going to go into a moral debate on here as to my reasoning behind it. There are so many arguments over this subject and this is not what I want to get into on this post. The only relevant reason to this post as to why I gave it up is:

 because I can!

You do not require “meat” to stay healthy or to build muscle. What you require is protein, and yes meat is a great source of complete protein but there are also many other sources of protein which can more than adequately fulfil my requirements.

Where will I get my Protein from?

Lentils, chickpeas, cannellini beans, rice, peas, kidney beans, broccoli, eggs, milk, yoghurt, pasta, wheat, soy, peanuts, cashews, almonds the list goes on and on.

Meat is not the only source of protein and you will be surprised at how much of your own protein intake is gathered from none meat sources.

How will I make sure I am getting my protein requirements?

Due to the fact I track my Macros (that is that I count the protein, carbs and fats in everything I eat) I will have a very accurate understanding of my nutritional balance, exactly the same as I would if I were still eating meat, I am just choosing to get my protein from a different source.

 The major consideration here is that if I choose to get my protein from beans and pulses, I have to account for the fact I am getting my protein alongside my carbohydrates. Lean meats are a source of protein only and other meats contain fats, now I have to anticipate my carbohydrate intake will be coupled with my protein intake in whole foods.

Of course, this can be fixed by using refined sources such as soy protein or dairy but just something to consider.

I have wanted to do this for a while and finally ran out of excuses….so here we go a new chapter in my life.

This post is just a little update and I will go into much more detail in upcoming blogs.

Stay tuned,

Ben

 

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I was recently sent out a number of items of clothing from the brand WearWolf to shoot with so I thought I would do a short review on the clothing.

I would like to clarify that I am not sponsored by this company, they were extremely generous and sent me a bunch of stuff and this is my honest opinion of their clothing.

 

Ben Marshall

Stringers

The stringers come in a number of colours and I have to say all are visually stunning. The material is soft but slightly elasticated due to the spandex in the weave allowing a soft but versatile top.

I really liked the material however the only fault I can find is the fit. I wouldn’t say it is really a “stringer” style, the cut is more of a vest, being much tighter fitting and less baggy than I had been expecting. I am 6’3 and received an XL, this fits me but it is a shame they do not make a XXL as I think I would choose to go up in one size.

Ben Marshall

Shorts

These shorts are amazing, they come with a compression inner legging which means they fit incredibly well, I would normally choose a 32” waist which would be a Medium, however I received a Large size and they fit incredibly well. A nice length that comes up just above the knee, with a back cycling style zip pocket for keys or an ipod. These are fantastic and I would highly recommend them if you are looking for some new athletic shorts.

IMG_4105 (3)

T-shirts

The t-shirts by WearWolf are on par with some of the best athletic to lifestyle cross over t-shirts I have seen. Light and comfortable whilst also stylish the AirTech T-shirt really combines everything you need in a top. A super fit the shirt hugs your body it in a very comfortable way without being restrictive. I would honestly say these are some of the nicest sports/ lifestyle t-shirts I have come across, they have a long fit and feel incredible on your back. I would happy wear this for exercise as well as day to day lifestyle.

Ben Marshall

Jumper

Sadly for me the jumper does not follow the success of the t-shirts as it comes in a much wider fit than it is long. The material is really nice but the actual fit is boxy. I received an XL which would be my normal size in most jumpers but for me I would choose to have either a Large or a Medium giving me a tight but better fit. There was a lot of loose material at the back as the size obviously caters for wearers looking at the XL size to be wider than tall. It is a real shame as this could be a lovely top but sadly I do not see myself wearing it very much due to the fit.

Conclusion

As with any clothing products size is always tough when ordering on line but my suggestion would maybe aim for a size bigger than you normally would. When talking about the actual products themselves WearWolf have some of the nicest products out there with extremely high quality. Whether looking for casual clothes or something to wear in the gym I would recommend WearWolf products.

Ben

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 Benjamin J Marshall

 

Why cardio isn’t as effective as weight training for losing fat

If you are newish to fitness and want to lose some weight the go to answer is start running yes?

NO! Let me talk you through why cardio will not help you lose weight.

Cardio burns more calories?

So there is an idea that cardio burns more calories than weight training however this is not the case. The theory is that LISS (low intensity steady state) training such as going for a run for an hour will burn a constant amount of calories for that hour, whereas weight training is broken down into sets where rest is included between each set, therefore in a hour spent in the gym weight training around half of it will actually not be lifting weights. Therefore you burn more calories doing cardio? …..No not so.

Think about the energy required when taking 20 paces jogging, and then compare that to the energy needed to do 20 squats with resistance weight. The squats will require a lot more energy to be used and you will find that you can easily match your energy output over the hour even including the rests. Another point is that cardio burns calories only whilst you are doing it where as weight training requires your body to use energy to repair and grow the muscles that you have broken down which continues after you finish your exercise.

Ben Marshall

Running or Cycling are the same as working out your legs

No sadly they are not and there are three reasons for this:

Firstly: the range of motion and targeted muscles- when running your range of motion is actually very small, you are not performing a lunge every step. So the muscles do not have to engage as much as they are not working through a whole range of motion. When a muscle is put through a whole range of motion the entire muscle is stretched and then contracted requiring a lot more energy, when a muscle is not required to perform an entire range of motion the contraction is not as great and less energy is required.

Secondly: Targeted muscles used- You are doing the same motion over and over and over again when performing cardio, think about an elliptical or sep machine where you literally cannot change your range of motion. This means that some muscles are not being worked in the same way as other muscles, cycling is far more inclusive as the range of motion is bigger but you cannot change which muscle group you are targeting. This can lead to muscle imbalance in the legs and is not effective as a whole leg workout even if you really “feel” it.

Thirdly: the muscle fibres engaged – with cardio work you are targeting your slow twitch muscle fibres as they are responsible for muscle endurance. And you then neglect the fast twitch muscle fibres which are used for resistance explosive training and are also bigger.

The exception here is sprinting which uses your fast twitch muscle fibres but although that might fall underneath the umbrella term of “running or cycling” sprint training is actually not cardio and is actually more plyometric and explosive resistance training,

“You can target your fat in a Fat Burning Zone in cardio ….”

This is an out dated term which has been exploited and blown way out of proportion. The theory behind it is that lower intensity exercise burns a higher percentage of calories from your fat stores rather than you glycogen stores. This however does not mean you burn more calories!

Yes you might burn a larger percentage of fat calories but your overall calorific burn will be much, much lower. You may burn 200 calories and 60% coming from fat in a “fat burning zone”, but you will burn 400 calories with only 40% coming from fat outside of this so called “zone”. The ideal is that you burn glycogen calories when working out because it is stored locally in the muscle and is used as energy when that muscle is use. People get confused thinking that they only want to burn calories from fat when working out. However don’t worry about this. Focus on your total energy balance for the day and as long as you are in a deficit you will lose weight.  It is much better to use your glycogen as energy when you are exercising and your fat stores for the rest of the day, because that is what they are designed to do, slow release energy!

But you can count how many calories you burn doing cardio?  

No quite, you can measure an output which can be consistent for you as an individual but this does not actually equate to calories necessarily.

In a number of studies by the University of California it was concluded that cardio machines over-estimate calorific expenditure, and sometimes it is by a lot! Treadmills can give you up to 42% extra calories burnt, even those that take into account your weight can only give you an average covering the distance over time and does not take into account the actual effort.

So you can not equate burning 800 calories an hour on a treadmill to put you into an 800 calorie deficit.

Now this doesn’t mean they are useless, but you have to take it as a non value measurement. For example if a someone burns what the treadmill says is 400 calories it does not actually matter what this represents , but as long as the they continue to hit this number they will continue to burn this same unknown calorie number.

If they want to increase weight lose they just need to increase this number so if the treadmill now reads 800 calories although they might not be actually burning 800 calories as they have doubled this unknown number therefore doubling calories burnt.

And the final nail in the coffin…Comparison 

Consider two people one of whom loses 10 pounds via cardio and the other loses 10lb via weight training, you think that they will look the same? No they won’t. The person only using only cardio will lose 10lbs of body fat as well as muscle. The person using weight training will actually lose considerably more body fat as although their weight will have dropped 10lbs they will have also gained muscle which adds weight so to lose 10lb they will potentially lose more like 15lbs of body fat as well as building a more athletic body.

Conclusion 

I am not saying you shouldn’t do cardio, it definitely has its place in a healthy lifestyle but what I am saying is please do not jump into the idea that cardio is the only way forward in losing weight. Too many people fall into this trap and are then disappointed and disheartened with their results. If you want to look like a long distance runner then train like one, however if this isn’t your goal then this isn’t how you should be focusing on training.

Take your goal and find the best way to achieve it and in the case of fat loss this is not by doing endless hours of cardio.

Ben

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5 Ways to be More Successful

Here are my top 5 tips for being more successful in everything you do. I use these everyday and it helps me get the most out of every single day.

Wake up early

Waking up early is the most productive thing you can do, and when I say early I do not mean 7am. I mean 5am or earlier. Yes this might make you groan but if you can drag yourself out of your bed and get started on your day you will have gained two more hours than almost everyone else and trust me when I say you feel fantastic doing it.

When you wake up… as long as you stay awake and actually get up, your body should be fully rested and ready to go. Your brain should be working at full capacity, able to make use of this time when there are no distractions and it is quiet allowing you to get on with what really matters.

As the days are getting longer and longer you will feel more awake for longer periods of time, studies have shown that our bodies adapt to the natural light cycle, sleeping more in the winter and needing less in the summer. After a few days of getting up early you won’t even notice it.

Exercise in the morning

The perfect way to wake you up, and achieve something before the day begins. This goes hand in hand with waking up early.

This is especially true if you want to be successful in reaching a fitness goal or whether you want to be successful in other areas of your life, exercise is king for making you feel good, productive and energetic.

After a long day at work most people will not want to go to an overcrowded gym to try and get a workout in. So they don’t, they make an excuse to themselves and go home creating a day of lethargy.

If fitness is the area you want to be successful in then be aware there is no secret benefit to weight loss or muscle gain by exercising in the morning, the big secret is that it gives you time to exercise. In terms of fitness goals it means you can complete your work out and stay on track.

If fitness isn’t your direct goal you shouldn’t neglect this little trick, exercise is a effort and reward complex which in turn sets up your day to be positive from the start. The chemistry behind this is the endorphin hit you will get from the exercise will set you up in a great mood to face the day.

Listen to music

Music has an emotional engagement which can stimulate many functions in the brain. Listening to the correct music for a chosen activity can dramatically improve your output. This has been shown in sport and also study. Do not choose to listen to the radio with mindless chatter, and I would advise trying to work without lyrical music playing behind you. Your brain ends up focusing on the words of the music distracting your thought process. Choose instrumental music, calm or progressive can be used. Although be aware that if you are tired calm music may not help your concentration… whereas others may find this centres their minds, you’ll have to find out yourself. Personally I like to listen to calm but progressive music, not classical (although this works brilliantly for some people).

Eat correctly

Making sure your diet is in check will help you no end when it comes to being productive, if your body is correctly fuelled you won’t be distracted by hunger or thoughts of food. Similarly if you are eating an unbalanced diet then you will probably feel lethargic, unenthusiastic and probably not the most positive about yourself.

Carbs – please get over this horrible lie that carbs are bad for you. They are not! They are energy!! Your body needs this to function and more importantly your brain needs this to function. If you’re having trouble concentrating have a banana or some cereal and you will feel much better.

Fats  – fats control our hormones, if your hormones are messed up there is no way you’re going to feel good in yourself or be able to be productive.

Protein – if you’re trying to be fit protein is a must to retain muscle and to help nitrogen balance in the body. If you’re trying to be successful outside of fitness protein is still essential to prioritise in your diet as not only does it fill you up longer, keeping hunger away, but it is extremely satisfying stopping cravings, keeping you focused.

Also included in this little section is drinking enough liquid. Now liquid intake does not have to be 8 glasses a day, water intake is very individual, some people need a lot more than this others need less. However having water next to us not only encourages us to drink more which is good, but also most of the time when we are dehydrated we have headaches or we confuse this for hunger when actually it’s just thirst. Having water on hand can prevent both these from occurring.

 Be proactively productive

This may sound obvious if you’re trying to be productive but stick with me.

What I mean by proactively productive is by making sure you have a clear plan of what you want to achieve and then ensuring that your preparation for that is in line with this plan.

Too many people when faced with a task will become incredibly productive in all different areas, cleaning, organising or sorting everything out, this is just a distraction technique stopping you from actually progressing with what you need to. Yes the actions might be “productive” but they are not proactively aiming you towards achieving your goal. These are procrastination!

Consider what you need to do and focus on this and this alone.

If you find yourself with spare moments think about what you can do next to help you achieve your goal.

Those are my top 5 tips to being more successful generally in life, these apply to working or study, training or anything goal related. I am far from perfect and sometimes it is hard to keep these in mind, especially being proactively productive; I am a huge one for procrastination. But just try to be mindful of these and you can see the difference it will make to your work ethic.

Ben

 

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Here are my 5 best ways to focus your mind to allow you to achieve your goals 

Many people really struggle to focus on a project. Either they will put it off or procrastinate with almost anything else possible. Sadly most of our lives now revolve around paperwork be it physical or online, this is true for studies, applications, work or even filling out tax forms. These tend to be tedious and therefore hard to focus on. However these techniques work for more than just paper so embrace them into any area where you want to concentrate.

Outcome / reward

Really ask yourself why you are doing this? What is the outcome? Focusing on the outcome of a particular activity can make you realise the value in it. The actual activity might not be interesting or exciting but the reward might be extremely valuable to you. Think about studying for a university test. The study might not be particularly engaging however getting your degree is priceless to most people.

So ask yourself is this really important to you… The answer should be yes otherwise you really need to think about why are you spending your time doing it? So let us take it that, Yes this is important. If it is important to you then you are the only one losing out by not completing it.

Time frame

The realisation that there is a timeframe on something is a huge way to boost motivation and stay focused.

If you have a project that needs to be done in a week then the realisation that right this very second is the longest time till its due is a powerful way of making use your time efficiently.

You will never have more time than you do right now.

No one likes the idea of wasting time and normally if you sit down and put your mind to something you can complete it in a much shorter amount of time and in a more effective way. Otherwise you spend the day on what should have been an hour job.

I don’t have time to waste like this so for me time frame is the biggest motivator.

Music

If you are really finding it hard to stay focused on something without the outside world distracting you then use music to direct your attention. Choose something instrumental, so that you don’t get distracted by the lyrics and then either have something peaceful to drown out the external noise or use something motivational to keep your attention. YouTube is full of compilations of music. Have a search and you will find some brilliant things. (Instrumental Motivation, most inspiring instrumental music)

…coffee ?

Does this one even need explaining?

I don’t like the idea of reliance on stimulants or products to achieve however when you have been concentrating for a long time sometimes a little caffeine hit can help out.

If you drink coffee a lot then one cup probably doesn’t affect you too much. I would advise you to try and limit your coffee intake as much as possible so that when you do “need “ a coffee it is more effective.

So those are my 5 best ways to focus. They work really well for me so give them try and let me know how you stay focused. Do you set rewards for accomplishments or just leave everything till the last minute and panic.

Ben

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Take notice of your breathing.

  • This is one thing that almost no one does. Take notice of your breathing. Breathe deeply through your nose, feel the air hit the back of your mouth and fill your lungs. It’s an amazing feeling.
  • Because breathing is a subconscious action, many of us take it for granted; we are not aware we are doing it. Just for one minute, marvel at the physiology and biology which encompasses the simple act of breathing.
  • By doing this, you are not only in control of your body, you are also control of your mind as well. Focusing on breathing allows you time to calm your mind and think about what you are doing.

Drink more water.

  • I guarantee that right now you are thirsty. Think about it. Your mouth feeling thick and it is ever so hard to swallow, you have a slight tightness in the head and you’re feeling hungry? You are not drinking enough water.
  • Drinking more water will improve your mood by relieving dehydration symptoms, head ache, hunger.
  • By incorporating more water in your daily routine, your skin will improve and your muscles will be fuller as it aids with the intake and expulsion of salts and minerals.

Proper posture.

  • If you are sat at a desk now, consider your posture at this moment. Hunched over, shoulders rounded forward, head hanging down?
  • Stop, sit up and into your seat till your bum touches the back. Lean backwards till your upper back hits your chair and then pull your shoulders back. If your chair is too far back, lean forward till you are vertical with your spine. Finally, feel the crown of your head lift up as though someone was pulling you up by a string attached to your crown.
  • Not only will you feel more awake, but you will suffer less from aches and pains brought on from the over stretching of a muscle as it struggles to hold you in a unnatural place.
  • Over time, this will become more natural and your supporting muscles will strengthen.

Smile more.

  • Take notice of your face right now. It will feel heavy with a drag over your eyes. Simply reset your face to a smile. You will feel your eyes widen, allowing more light into them, tension in your forehead will be released, your mouth will be pulled up at the corners and you will instantly be happier.
  • Seeing someone smile tends to make us smile, so by smiling more you will also effect others and how others see you. When people smile and receive a smile back, the basic human need for satisfaction through acceptance is justified, thus relaxing you and causing your mood to improve.
  • What else can I say – smiling makes you happy!

 

Benjamin J Marshall

Look up at the world.

  • Many people become absorbed by the mundane chores of everyday life they fail to realise the world around them. Instead of walking along looking down at the ground or your phone, look at the scenery and surroundings.
  • When you are walking stand tall and look around, take in what is around you. Feel your place in the world and view how busy life is. Appreciate the weather. If it is raining, consider the rain drops the cloud formations or how the wind moves the environment around you.
  • The world is incredible and we are only a small part of it. So look around and realise where you are.

These are my 5 top tips which we can do every day to instantly to feel more self aware, improve our behaviour, productivity and as a result, allow us to appreciate life.

I hope they help you as much as they help me.

Ben

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I have been asked a lot recently about different gym routines or training splits.

This is something that has to be discovered over time and developed to suit the individual. But the important thing is it has to be tailored to suit your own lifestyle and individual goals. While you can’t just read an exercise routine from a magazine and expect it to work for you, it can be a good way to get a starting idea. There are a number of things to consider when designing your training routine:

What are your goals?

There is no point wanting to look like a fitness model and then jumping on the treadmill for an hour every day. Your training has to match your goals.

What is your time availability?

How many times a week are you going to be able to work out? 3 times? 5 times? 7 times ? If you can only get to the gym 3 times a week then your training schedule will be very different to someone who can go 6-7 times.

You may have to double up body parts and focus more on the basic compound movements rather than isolation and extra exercises – this is fine if this is the case but these are all things you need to figure out.

For the majority of people who are committed to getting into shape, a 5 day split works very well and is very easy to manage in terms of time, but also breaking down body parts.

Below is an example of a 5 day body part split:

  •  Legs
  • Chest
  • Back
  • Shoulders
  • Arms

You can then put 2 rest days in where best suits you. Some people will want to work out straight through the week and take the weekend off. Others may want to have two days working out, a rest day, then 3 days working out and then a second rest day.

These workouts focus on the big compound movements to start with and then isolation movements to follow.

I am not saying this is the best split for you, I’m not saying these are the only exercises you should do for those work outs. This is just a basic idea of what you could break your body parts down into if you are training 5 times a week.

Have a look and take what you want from this and adapt it to suit you.

Enjoy.

Ben

Day 1 – Legs

Squats – heavy 2 warm up sets 10 reps, 5 working sets. (At least 5 reps more than 8 then up the weight.)

Deadlifts 1 warm up set 5reps,  5 sets of 3-5 heavy 1 drop set of 10 reps

Legs extension 4 sets 10-12 reps

Hamstring curl 4 sets 10 – 12

Calf  raises 5 sets of 20 / failure.

Day 2 – chest

Chest press bench or db 2 warm up sets. 5 sets (upping the weight) 1 drop sets.

Db incline fly 6 sets of 8-12

Dips 5 sets of 12

Cable fly 5 sets of 8-12

Push ups failure

Day 3 – back

Pull up 5 sets of body weight to failure

Row (bent over or db) 4 sets of 8-12

Shrugs Db drop set or barbell 4 sets – 15, last set drop weight 10 reps

Pull down machine 4 sets 10-12 reps

Row machine 4 sets 10 -12

Back fly 4 sets 15

Day 4 – Shoulders

Shoulder press (bar or db) 2 warm up sets 10 reps, 4 working sets 5-10

Lateral raise 4 sets 12- 15 reps strict form

Upright row (bar or smith machine) 4 sets 10 reps

Rear felt raise / rear felt fly (cable or db) 4 sets 10-15 reps / 10- 15 reps

Arnold press 4 sets  12-15 reps

Day 5 – Arms

Triceps skull crushers bar or db 4 sets 5-8

Db Biceps curl seated 4 sets 8-10

Triceps kick back db 4 sets 10-15

Biceps bar curl 4 sets 8-12

Triceps cable push down 4 sets 12-15

Biceps cable curl 4 sets 12-15

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