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Troubleshooting February 2014

on Monday, 03 February 2014.

Ingrid if you had a build a strong, functional and aesthcially pleasing, balanced physique using only 15 exercises which one’s would you use and why?

Challenging question but a good one. So below I have come up with my choices in order working backwards from 15 – 1 that are chosen to address strength, balance and symmetry.

15. Toe Raises. My only direct 'abs' exercise as if you perform my numbers 1,2,3 and 4 exercises you are going to have damned strong abs. If you can do 4 sets of 15 perfectly executed toe raises you are one strong fella. Try one next time you hit the gym – I challenge you. BUT make sure it is slow and controlled...no swingie mc swing!!!

14. Goodmornings. The good morning is not simply a "low back" movement. Done properly, the good morning works the entire length of the erector spinae:

It loads the deep core muscles of the lower back. It trains proper hinging and requires proper firing of the gluteus maximus and glute-hamstring tie-in. It trains the lifter to keep his lumbar spine in a controlled posterior tilt as he extends his hips back and brings them forward.

A brilliant exercise to help accelerate poundage increases in both the squat and the deadlift. A most misunderstood exercise!!!

13. The Leg Press. One of, if not the single best way to overload the quads in terms of weight lifted. Such a great leg strengthening exercise. Not much more to be said.

12. Single DB Bench Press – This one may be a surprise. But given that I have a choice of 15 exercises I have opted to use 1 unilateral exercise for chest for all the obvious benefits of uni-lateral training. Will help to improve the lift of my Number 3 choice!!

11. Dumbbell side raises. Well I couldn't resist. If you are training for aestehics wide, big delts are a must to heighten the appearance of the x frame. (or Y frame depending on what camp you sit in). Shoulders do two things for a physique – improve the look of the glutes, and give the appearance of a tapered waist. Such a great exercise for the medial head of the delt.

10. Split Squats. Yeah yeah no-one much likes them but wow, what a fabulous, fabulous exercise! This exercise works your legs/glutes in a manner that other exercises simply cannot. You want amazing glutes and strong inner thighs to enhance your squats.....do this. But, as in my exercise prescription you should usually only ever do 2-3 working sets as long as they are performed properly (and most peeps I see don't do them well). A split squat will add enormous strength and unilateral motor drive that transfers to distinct performance benefits in ANY other sport also.....

9. Seated DB Curl – A little bit grudgingly admitted into my top 15, only because every other body part has a direct exercise related to it. Only one of three isolation exercises. I choose this one as EMG analysis shows that you recruit more biceps brachii whilst doing a curl in a seated position so I am running with this as my choice.

8. Standing Calf Raise – my choice for calves. You are only as strong as your weakest limb. You wanna improve your quad and hamstring lifts – you had better be training your calves with equal tenacity! The calf muscles act to stabilise your ankles and feet. When your calves are strong, they are better able to provide this service and can help prevent rolling or excessive pronation or supination. All trainee’s benefit from strong lower leg muscles that keep the mechanics of the lower leg in line.

The gastrocnemius muscle, in particular, is involved in generating power. Shapely calves create an aesthetic look.


7 Dips – I am choosing exercises with the most scope for progressive overload because after all this is the basic premise of our sport. So out of the three compound exercises possible for triceps (close-grip bench press and close hand push up being the other two) I am going with the dip as an effective mass builder. No isolation exercise for triceps even comes close aka a kickback, or a pressdown ect.

6. Stiff-Leg Deadlift. There actually is a potential benefit to keeping the legs straight. You see, the hamstrings are a biarticular muscle, meaning they span two joints: the hip and the knee. By keeping the knees straight, the hamstrings remain in a fully lengthened position. Why is this important? Well, studies show that muscle force is optimized when a two-joint muscle is stretched at one end while acted upon at the other. If your goal is to maximise hamstrings development, the straight-legged version will tend to heighten activity in this musculature. As an aside, there is reason why you generally shouldn't lock the knees during performance of multi-joint lower body exercises like the squat as this diminishes constant muscular tension, but this is a topic for a different day. I believe this exercise is brilliantly effective at whacking on maximum hamstring muscle.


5. Chins –A massive back builder that hits so many muscles around the lats, rear delts, traps, rhomboids. I love this exercise

4. Military Press. Single best shoulder exercise in my opinion. Pinnacle exercise that overloads the body with more weight than you can handle with dB’s. Requires a lot more whole body strength and has more sports specific applications.

3. Bench Press – Pinnacle Exercise. Say no more!

2. Deadlift - Pinnacle Exercise. Say no more!

1. Squat - Pinnacle Exercise. Say no more!

(Why a squat over a deadlift?) More sports specific application and if you get stronger in the squat you will improve upon your deadlift. The reverse is not true.


I know that you are a big fan of flaxseeds and flaxseed oil. Which is better? The oil can get quite expensive.

Flaxseeds are the richest source of lignans – molecules with anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti- cancer properties. Flaxseeds also possess the richest known source of mucilage – a special kind of fibre that acts as a natural laxative and directly protects against bowel cancer. Mucilage also helps stabilise blood glucose levels. Flaxseeds are a quality source of potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, silicon, nickel, cobalt, iron and chromium. Flaxseeds also contain the fat-soluble vitamins E and carotene and the energy-activating B group vitamins. Of the two essential fatty acids, flax is an excellent source of alpha linolenic acid. This is the essential fat responsible for enhancing insulin sensitivity within muscle cells, and the compound most people are deficient in.

It appears that most of these nutrients are contained within the seed and only a fraction is passed onto the oil. Make sure that the flaxseeds are crushed or the body won’t be able to obtain the nutrients. 100 grams of flaxseeds will provide about 35 grams of oil.



What exactly is the purpose of the post-workout shake. I notice that almost everyone in my gym drinks a shake after they finish training.

Consuming a post workout shake dramatically stimulates muscle growth and repair.. Researchers at Vanderbilt University did a study whereby one group of athletes were given a placebo drink (no proteins, carbs or fats), a carb drink (8 grams) or a drink containing protein (10 grams) and carbohydrates immediately following an intense leg session. Compared to the placebo group the carbohydrate drink did not alter whole body protein synthesis during the recovery period. In contrast, the protein plus carbohydrate drink increased protein synthesis 6 fold and whole-body protein synthesis by 15%. Based on the data from this research, it appears the availability of amino acids (protein) is even more important thatn the availability of carbohydrates for stimulation of protein synthesis, muscle tissue growth and repair. However, in this study, the small serving of protein and carbohydrates did not improve whole body protein synthesis to a great extent. To gain lean mass, larger serves of protein and carbohydrates is likely to be required.

Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 34:828-837, 2002