Strong arms and a firm grip are essential for all sorts of sports and activities. To improve your grip, try the following:

  • Grip a ball (such as a water polo ball) in one hand — raise slowly above your head and then back down. Five times with each hand;
  • Using a pull-up bar, hold yourself at the top of the bar and then slowly (ie. counting to five) lower yourself to a full extension — repeat 10 times
  • Do three sets of 20 “close grip” push ups — ie. place your hands beneath your chest instead of in line with your shoulders
  • Do three sets of 10 “jump and clap” push ups — both hands and feet must be off the ground when you clap
  • When you finish your coffee in the morning, crush the cup in your first (while grunting)

Body Body

No matter what your body type or shape, with the right exercise regime and diet you can build muscle tone and improve your definition.

  • Resistance Training is key — two 45 minute sessions in the gym per week, working the major muscle groups will build muscle tissue.
  • Add in some interval training to help stay lean.
  • Eat balanced meals regularly (ie. every 3 hours) to help avoid spikes in your blood sugar levels.
  • Wear something tight

Alcohol

While studies have shown that the occasional glass of red wine can have positive health benefits, long-term use of alcohol in excessive quantities is capable of damaging nearly every organ and system in the body, and sometimes it’s hard to draw the line between the “occasional glass of red” and “excessive quantities”.
Try keeping a journal, note down how many drinks you have each day or set yourself a goal for how many alcohol free days you have in a month (my record is about seven which clearly isn’t setting the world on fire).


BCAAs

  • Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) sound a bit more complicated than they really are and definitely worth giving a go if you’re looking to take your training to the next level.
  • BCAAs are among the nine essential amino acids for humans, accounting for 35% of the essential amino acids in muscle proteins and 40% of the preformed amino acids required by mammals.
  • BCAAs have been used clinically to aid in the recovery of burn victims and the research suggests that if you are following a resistance-based training programme, then incorporating BCAAs into your diet will help your muscles recover and grow.
  • Sure, if your diet was absolutely perfect and you knew that you were getting exactly the right balance of proteins and vitamins then you probably wouldn’t need to take extra BCAAs, but let’s not kid ourselves.
  • The best way to take them is as a powder — mix with water and drink during your work out. You can add a flavouring (as the taste isn’t that brilliant) but you should generally try and avoid artificial sweeteners.
  • Add about 4 tablespoons to your shaker and fill with water and drink during your work-out.

Abs

  • What do you do if you’re wanting to really make your abs pop?
  • It’s often a fine balance — you want to stay lean but retain muscle, but no matter how hard you work in the gym you can’t seem to get that ripped and cut look that screams “washboard stomach”.
  • The starting point is probably to be a bit realistic. Some people are genetically blessed to be able to achieve this look without much effort — they’re freaks. When you’re looking at fitness models on the cover of Men’s Health, these are professionals who have been working towards achieving a certain look for that photo shoot — it’s not something that they’re going to be able to maintain once the photo shoot is done. Of course there’s also people juiced up on a cocktail of steroids — you should not be attracted to the short term gains that these people are making, remember the long-term damage that they are doing to their bodies.
  • So you need to set goals that are realistic for you. Measure yourself against these personal and realistic goals — not a digitally enhanced photo of a model that you’ve seen in a magazine.
  • If you’re wanting to change the way that your abs look, the obvious place to start is the gym. Don’t waste your time doing sit-ups. Sit-ups are effective for showing everyone how amazing your abs are — they won’t actually help you get amazing abs. Any general weight-based resistance training programme will be sufficiently working your core strength in order to ensure that your abs are sufficiently developed. Add in some interval or circuit-based training and you’ll be providing your body with a sufficient cardio workout to help drop any excess weight (you need to be lean in order for your abs to be prominently visible).
  • Diet is really the key — if having ripped abs is your goal then you need to find a diet that works for you, but it has to help you to get and stay lean. In general, a high protein/low carb diet seems to be the most effective way to do this (when combined with the right resistance training programme). Small meals 4–5 times per day, throw in a cheat meal (ie. rice or rice noodles) every now and then to shock your body to better results. Avoid processed carbohydrates or anything high in gluten. Also avoid sugars or anything that’s going to spike your insulin (like Milk, Yoghurt or Fruit Juice). If you want to eat fruit go for berries post-training (good anti-oxidants and post-training your body will welcome the sugar rush).
  • The other thing that can potentially play apart is Cortisol levels. High levels of Cortisol has been shown to contribute to the body bloating around the stomach. The general view is that stress and artificial stimulants are likely to spike your Cortisol levels. So avoiding coffee can help here.
  • If you get your diet and exercise regime right you’ll ensure that you have a solid base to achieve your goals. However if you’re preparing for a photo shoot, a big party or a romantic mini-break with someone your keen to impress, then you could also add in some supplements to make sure that you make the best impression possible.
  • A combination that I’ve found effective is a rotation (1 week on each) of the following troika:
    - Yohimbine (thermogenic to help get lean)
    - Holy Basil (helps manage Cortisol levels)
    - Tribulus (thermogenic to help get lean)
  • Looking for some high protein snacks to keep you going between meals? Try the following:
    - Protein Shake
    - Bounce Almond Protein Ball
    - Handful of Nuts
    - Chicken salad (that you’ve made at home)
    - Hummus with veg
  • Having ripped, defined abs is a difficult look to achieve but even more difficult to maintain. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, but it’s nice to know that you can do it if you want to.