If you follow me on Twitter, you probably know I’m the first to admit my endurance is a little shoddy at the moment. With Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest on the agenda this year, I’m starting to up the ante. I have seven months to boost my lactate threshold and get my fitness level to 10k obstacle course standard, so when pro-athlete trainer and Men’s Health columnist Russell Bateman invited me to join his girls at the Skinny Bitch Collective last Saturday, not only was I up for the challenge, but I knew that ‘challenge’ would be the operative word.
And I wasn’t disappointed.
About half-way through the session, I was on my knees struggling to bash out the girliest of girly push-ups, my jumping lunges were a hot mess and the simple task of holding my arms above my head was an act of sheer determination. “Hitting the decks” for 10 more burpees, knowing that I still had another set to go was a scary place to be. But that’s what makes it a great workout – being forced to push harder than you think you can go. This is something that’s really encouraged by the competitive environment of a group class, especially one full of hotties like the SBC and more-so with Russ yelling at us to woman up and do every rep properly. Ego (and a general fear of shame) tends to push you beyond the limit in a way that training by yourself just isn’t able to.
“For Females Only”
Usually when I hear the term ‘for females only’ in the fitness industry, it’s a head meets wall moment. With training, it generally refers to pink dumbbells, tricep kick-backs and busting a few dance moves. With nutrition, it usually involves halving the protein, doubling the sugar and using a cursive typeface. Whatever the product or method, you can guarantee that the strong, lean fitness model advertising it is NOT using it.
One of the things I really love about the SBC is that Russell and I are very much on the same page when it comes to training females effectively. Here’s what he has to say about ‘toning up’, low fat diets and eating for performance…
There are countless misconceptions when it comes to women’s fitness. Which of these do you consider to be the most offensive and why?
A certain female trainer perpetuated the myth that if you are a woman and you lift weight over 2 kilos you bulk up. This is a damaging and flawed method. I make everyone I train lift as heavy a weight as they can and not only do they get stronger they drop significant body fat. Lifting weights has a host of amazing benefits. Also we need to ban the word ‘toning’.
Other than this key issue you’ve just mentioned, where else do you think most women go wrong when it comes to weight loss?
Eating a low fat diet. Low fat diets are loaded with sugar. In summary: Eat low fat and you will stay fat and struggle to lose it. Eat high fat and get leaner and more cognitive.
Which three foods should we all stock up on to get the best out of our training?
Grass fed Beef (amazing protein)
Macadamia nuts (great healthy fat content)
Quinoa (great carb source)
Aside from good food, would you recommend any additional supplements to those of us who train regularly?
I love green powder from Udo’s, they always kindly send me goody bags. L-carnitine is awesome for fat loss, too. Mix it with a decent fish oil and you are really fighting the flab. Vitamin D is essential for women, too.
A good circuit workout involves more than just stringing a load of exercises together. What’s your top programming tip for circuit training?
Pair lower and upper body exercises in a superset e.g. pull ups to squats or press ups to deadlifts. Your heart will have to work more efficiently, in turn making you fitter and provoking body composition change. Keep the tempo slow on the eccentric movement (lowering phase) and explosive on the way up.
And finally, what’s your number one motivation tip for those of my readers who struggle to stay on track with their nutrition and training?
It’s such a cliché but you really do only get one body. There are so many variables out there to abuse it with, but so many to nourish and cherish it too. We are all too pre occupied with first world problems. Be the best you can be. As long as we are able bodied we should make the most of it and do our upmost to reach our potential.
At the SBC workshops, you can expect an hour of super-high intensity, circuit-style training, based around key functional movements i.e. deep knee bends, pushing, pulling and crawling. This holistic, full-body approach is not only ideal for balanced, functional strength and endurance, but also burns a ton of calories and is thus ideal as part of a fat-loss routine.
Workshops are held at 55 Baker Street on a Saturday, with special sessions at KX Life on a Wednesday. Russell will also be taking his Skinny Bitch methods global with upcoming workshops in New York, LA and Ibiza. Be sure to book well in advance – there are limited spaces and a high demand! To learn more about The Skinny Bitch Collective, visit www.thesbcollective.com or catch Russell on Twitter @thesbcollective.