How to step up your training – increase intensity

If you go to the gym on most days and you do the same workouts day in day out, not only you will get bored of it but your body will adapt to it, too. That means you will not see changes from the same workout after a while.

There are different techniques for the advanced athletes to step up their training and shock their bodies.
Go to failure: muscle failure is when you cannot do any more full reps with that weight. Most people don't go to this extent because this is when the going gets tough. When we say you need to do 8 - 12 reps for muscle hypertrophy that means you cannot do more reps than 8 - 12. So if you could do another 3-4 reps with that weight, increase it.
Drop set: that means you do your regular reps with your weight and when you cannot do any more reps (you reach muscle failure) you drop the weights by 20-30% and continue the set until failure. For eg: you are doing bench press with 100 kg, you rep out to failure and when you cannot do any more full reps you strip off 20-30% of the weight (70-80 kg) and continue the set until failure.
Forced reps: you will need a training partner for this, unless you do certain exercises where you can self spot yourself: for eg one arm dumbbell curl. You do your set to muscle failure and when you cannot do any more full reps your training partner helps you with the concentric part of the lift.
Negatives: again, you will need a training partner for this. You only do 3-4 reps with this technique, not the full 10-12 reps. You load the weight heavier than you normally do. For eg: if you do bicep curls with 15 kg dumbbells for 12 reps, then you will use 17 kg or even 20 kg for this exercise. Your training partner helps you with the concentric part of the lift (ie: curling up) and you lower the weight yourself slowly. We are a lot stronger on the eccentric part of the lift, than on the concentric part of the lift, that's why you need a partner to help you with the concentric part.
These are just a few ideas you could try, if you didn't know about them.
For a personalized training plan please contact me:
hello@tamaramakar.me or KIK: tamaramakar
For personal training/coaching/contest prep FOR MEN AND WOMEN: please book an appointment in advance and see me at True Gym Mohandeseen.
#spacefitness #panatta
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Hercules Olympia and England

Had a fabulous weekend in England last weekend. It was all rush and not enough time for anything, but it was nice to stand on stage again and meet some of my friends, even only briefly.

Left Cairo Thursday afternoon, my flight was scheduled at 5.30 pm. On the way to the airport there was a traffic jam on the road - what a surprise! I was getting a bit anxious therefore I tried to check in on my phone so that I don't miss that. When I logged on the application to check in, it told me that I couldn't because the check-in was not available anymore as the flight was at 4.45 pm. It turned out that because the clocks went back a few weeks ago (in the UK, not in Egypt) therefore they changed the time for the flight - although they don't tell this to you to warn you. So I was running really late and I was even checking my other options when I could travel if I'd missed this flight. But fortunately I got there in the very last minute and checked in. Going through security I've met some lovely people, one of them is Ramy who is training in MMA.airportRamy

Finally I got to London Heathrow at around 10 pm and made my way to Colchester on the train. I got to the hotel around 1 am, very exhausted. The next day I got up and went for a walk in the town centre. It is a lovely place, I really liked the atmosphere of the town. There was a market on the high street, and all the shops you can ask for. I realized how much I missed all these commodities and the green countryside. Cairo is very hot most of the year, even wintertime it's only mild, not cold. You see the sun 24/7 almost, and the downside of it is that there's not much rain, therefore there's a lot of dust everywhere. It's lovely to see the sun most of the time, and it truly makes up for most things: your mood is instantly better.

Anyway, so I tried to rest a bit on Friday , put a coat of tan on, had my wine in the evening and was waiting for Saturday to come.

Saturday was one of the longest days in my life. The registration was at 8 am at the venue, then we had a physique check where the judges checked all the ladies' classes if everyone was in the right class, then we had an orientation meeting. This finished aorund 10.30am and the show started at 12pm. A break was planned to be at 4-5 pm, but when 4 pm came the show had not been even halfway through the classes that they planned on judging before the interval. That was a bit disappointing as my class was the second to the last after the interval. I was told the event was supposed to finish around 8 pm, and if there's a delay then maybe around 9 pm. Well, eventually I got on stage at 10 pm, very tired and thirsty. Thankfully one of my friends was there with me and tried to distract me from all this.

There were 2 physique classes, open and masters and I entered the masters class, but because the event was running so late they merged the 2 classes and we ended up competing in the open class. In the open class I came 4th, but a few days later they posted the results for all the classes, so in the masters class I came 2nd. All the ladies looked great, really nice line up!

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After the competition I went to fill up a bit on some food and water. Enjoyed some sweets and a pizza (only one slice, I don't know why I keep buying pizzas after a competition when I don't even eat it ๐Ÿ™‚

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The next morning we went to Harvester to have an all you can eat breakfast - something that I miss here in Egypt ๐Ÿ™‚ the food was fabulous, I really enjoyed the pancakes and toast, although the bacon and sausage was a bit too salty for me after a competition diet.

After breakfast we made our way down towards Heathrow and we stopped in Cheshunt to pay a visit in my favourite gym, Monster Gym. I felt I had to use all those extra calories so I had a wicked back workout there. I was also happy to see that my photos are still on the wall ๐Ÿ™‚

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After training we headed to Langley to meet some friends and have my long awaited steak at the Harvester - yes, I know, it was my favourite place and I really miss it!

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The next day I was flying back to Cairo. I had a lovely weekend there and I'm planning on going back in July or August as I couldn't get to my stuff I left in London, because of the lenght of time and also because my friend who keeps them safe for me was away for work on that weekend.

Back to training now, preparing for the next competition. Watch this space!

Thank you Space Fitness and Panatta for making this trip possible!

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Bye Bye Gold’s

Another year has passed. I arrived to Egypt end of March, started lecturing at Gold's Gym Academy in April and got a job at Gold's Gym Egypt in May. It was a very happy period indeed. I felt loved and appreciated. Then the months passed and things have changed. It is not shocking at all that most people are not what they show themselves to be. With time and age you get used to it and you just move on. In the past few months it has escalated to a level where I started feeling stressed and pushed. It will always be beyond me why certain people feel that they have to do things to try and make others feel less or as miserable as they are, although they haven't got much to show up for themselves. Ignorance? Jealousy? Or just simply bad manners? Not important. It's not worth any more space in my life or on my blog.

The only thing that is important that I have put an end to it yesterday โ€“ and I feel free again. It's like a breath of fresh air, a big relief for me. Finally I can focus on something that I actually like doing: body building and teaching body building/fitness to people who are interested and want to learn.

Finally I am free to do body building seminars anywhere and I can have my private clients as soon as I sort out a gym to train them. I am also available for any guest posing or guest appearance in any gym in Cairo/Egypt. Please get in touch for more details: tamara@tamaramakar.me

Watch this space because big things are going to happen very soon. I have a few competitions lined up for 2015, and I also have my plan B.

Keep people in your life that truly love you, motivate you, encourage you, inspire you, enhance you and make you happy and get rid of the negative shit - job is done, look forward to a happier chapter in my life.

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How much calories do I need?

Constant question from athletes that how much calories they need, especially when they start cutting for a competition.

Usually my first question is: how much are you eating now? Simple question, but not everyone can answer. My experience โ€“ especially here in Egypt โ€“ that people don't know how much they're eating. Food is not measured, it's all just guessing.ย 

First of all you need to know how much you're eating. You should know your macros: how much protein, carbs and fats you're taking on a daily basis. If you're offseason, at least a ballpark number. If you're in contest prep, then it should be more accurate.ย 

During contest prep the main aim is to get rid of the fat while maintaining the muscle. That means your protein intake has to be high enough to keep the muscle and your carb intake low enough to lose the fat.ย 

The caloric intake is different for everyone. It depends on several factors: how much lean mass you have, how much you weight, how often you work out, what lifestyle you live (sedentary or active), even what job you do! Therefore a generic nutrition plan will not work for everyone.ย 

General rule is that if you want to maintain muscle you need to eat 1 gr of protein for every 1 lb of lean mass you have. Meaning: if your competition weight is 70 kg (154 lbs) then you need to eat at least 154 gr of protein a day.ย 

In regards to carbs it depends on the factors I've mentioned above, plus your body type, your insulin sensitivity and therefore your metabolism. If you have high metabolism, chances are you have low insulin sensitivity therefore you need more carbs. If your metabolism is slower, you need less carbs.

How you can increase your metabolism while dieting: eating small portions of food on a regular basis is one way to increase metabolism. The other way is to increase your physical activity by doing cardio. When doing cardio make sure you always have enough protein in your body to prevent fat loss. Supplementation of amino acids and BCAAs is essential when cutting.

The fat intake depends on your carb intake. Generally speaking if you are low on carbs, you need higher fats, if you're relatively high on carbs, you need to be on low fat. Fats should be healthy fats, definitely not trans fats. Healthy fats include: fish, salmon, nuts and seeds to name a few. Transfats come from mostly fried foods and a lot of other 'snacks' from the shelves of a supermarket (crisps, or any junk food really).

So be careful with what and how much you eat when your main aim is to lean out.ย 

Personalized nutrition and training plans and online coaching are available:ย hello@tamaramakar.me

Soon: private coaching is coming in Cairo. Contact me for details!

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Muscle Mania registration

Yesterday I went to Balance Gym Tagamo to help register a friend of mine for Muscle Mania, and met a lot of other great athletes there, too.

Balance gym is a very well equipped gym in 2 locations in Cairo: in Tagamo and Sheraton. The Tagamo branch is the newer one with brand new Cybex equipment. I always liked training around in different gyms and I never mind travelling for a good gym to train certain body parts there. In the UK people always thought I was crazy because I used to travel an hour for a good gym for legs - well, probably you can see why... The results talk for themselves. When it comes to my training, I don't compromise.

Muscle Mania Middle East will be held in Cairo next Friday (3rd April) and I really look forward to meeting all these phenomenal Egyptian athletes. Here are a few photos from yesterday:

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Feel free to come and say hi when you see me there!

The different body types – mesomorphs and endomorphs

When you first start going to the gym, any changes you make to yourself: your nutrition or just working out will show results because you're changing your routine. If you pair your training with a solid nutrition plan or just clean out your diet you will see even better results. In the gym, whether you do resistance training or cardio, start with a steady pace, let you body adjust and recover. Start with 2-3 days a week and gradually work it up to 4-5 days a week. You will see and feel how much time you need to recover. Your recovery time will heavily depend on your nutrition and your rest time though. If you're not eating the right food your recovery will suffer.
The right food could be different for everyone. Something that works for someone might not work for the other. It also depends on your body type โ€“ as I said that in my previous post.
I've talked about the ectomorphs โ€“ the hardgainers โ€“ in my previous post.

Let's see what the characteristics of a mesomorph:
Those are the people who don't have to put much effort into their diets or training, they naturally have an athletic physique. They put on muscle (and fat as well) easily but they lose fat easily, too. They have well defined muscles, round muscle bellies โ€“ the best body type for bodybuilders, but for any athletes really. The best advise for them is to have more discipline. If they paid more attention to what they're doing in the gym or what they eat, they could take their physiques to a completely different level easily.

The endomorphs are the people I talk to most: the people who put on fat very easily and have a hard time losing it. They have slow metabolism, they are soft and round, usually short and stocky. They put on muscle easily though so it's not too bad for an athlete if they have the discipline to eat right. Endomorphs also need cardio all year around to keep in shape. They usually have insulin resistance to an extent therefore they really need to know when, how much and what type of carbs to eat to turn it to their advantage.

Personalized training and nutrition plans are available, contact me for details: hello@tamaramakar.me

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The different body types – ectomorphs

When it comes to training and nutrition, it is very important that you know your body type. The different body types need different nutrition and they respond to training in different ways.

There are 3 different basic body types:
* Ectomorph
* Mesomorph
* Endomorph

Generally people are not just one clear type, but a combination of 2 or sometimes even all 3 body types.
Let's look at these body types one by one:
Ectomorph โ€“ the hardgainer
Characteristics:
* small frame
* small joints
* usually tall with small waist
* very low bodyfat
Ectomorphs usually lose weight very quickly if they skip meals or their caloric intake is too low. They have very fast metabolism, they burn up everything quickly.
Ectomorphs are hyperactive, therefore if they want to put on some muscle they need to slow down, and get some extra sleep/rest. They need to reduce stress โ€“ don't we all? They definitely have to avoid overtraining. They respond best to brief workouts and they have to allow plenty of recovery between training sessions.
Generally they don't need to do much cardio, and they should really keep that to a minimum. They should make an effort to keep their caloric intake high with a moderately high carb intake and never miss a meal. Using additional supplements is highly recommended for ectomorphs to help gain and keep muscle.

Personalized nutrition and training plans are available, plese contact me for details: hello@tamaramakar.me

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About Leptin

Leptin is the 'satiety' hormone produced by fat cells and it helps regulating energy balance by inhibiting hunger and it controls your metabolism. Leptin acts as the 'opposite' of ghrelin hormone (see my previous post).
How much leptin is released from the fat cells depends on how much fat there is: the more fat you have the more leptin is released.
Simply put: When your leptin levelsย increase, your brain sends a signal that you're 'full' and your metabolic rate increases because of this signal. When leptin levels decrease, your brain sends a signal that you're no longer 'full' and your metabolic rate decreases. The longer your body is in calorie deficit (hunger) the lower your leptin levels decrease and your metabolic rate slows down.
If you constantly eat above your maintenance calorie levels, you can become leptin resistant. The more leptin resistant your body becomes, the more fat you will store as your body will not be able to distinguish if your body fat levels are too high and the leptin receptors are desensitized.
How to maintain normal leptin levels:
* try and stay lean,
* don't go on for too long to bulk,
* when you feel your metabolism slowed down, include a cheat meal/day. The excess calories will kickstart your leptin production (but only if you had calorie deficit beforehand for some time).

Personalised nutrition plans are available, contact me for details: hello@tamaramakar.me

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A calorie is NOT a calorie – Part 1

I would like to talk about the calories here, because a lot of people think that all calories are equal.
For example let's look at the difference between glucose and fructose. They're both simple sugars and they both have the same amount of calories, but glucose can be metabolised by all the body's tissues, while fructose can only be metabolised by the liver.
Fructose can be found in fruits and vegetables, but it is also manufactured in a lab.
Glucose is also called grape sugar or blood sugar and can be found in all major carbohydrates like starch or table sugar. They are both good sources of energy but excess glucose can be fatal to diabetic patients and excess fructose can lead to insulin resistance or non alcoholic liver disease.
Most fat gained from excessive glucose is subcutaneous (under the skin) and is not linked to diabetes or heart disease.
Fructose leads to higher ghrelin levels than glucose. Why it is important you may ask? Because ghrelin is the hormone that's responsible for your hunger. Glucose decreases food intake.
High fructose sweeteners, soft drinks and corn syrup cause a rise in obesity. High fructose diet (too much sweeteners) promotes insulin intolerance which will cause abdominal fat gain and increased triglyceride.
So a calorie is NOT a calorie here, there's a difference.

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About fat loss and supplements

Let me spare some thoughts on weight loss and supplements. I've heard this several times: I want to lose weight,I can't take supplements. It depends on what supplements we are talking about. Whey protein? Well I believe that you can get away with not taking whey protein. If your main goal is to lose bodyfat then I would say try and stick to real, clean food. Why? Because the main aim of any whey protein is to get digested and absorbed quickly and easily. You see where I'm going with this? If it is easily digested then the body don't need to put effort into digesting it = it won't use much energy (calories) to digest it. However when you eat clean food โ€“ ie chicken, tuna, turkey etc โ€“ your body will burn more energy by just simply digesting the food. So I would say if you need to lose a lot of weight you can stay away from whey protein. Where will you get your protein from you may ask? First of all from your food โ€“ that should be the main source. Clean food: eggs, chicken, tuna, fish, red meat, turkey etc The second most important source should be amino acids.
Amino acids are the building blocks for protein. There are 20-22 standard amino acids, 8-10 of which are considered essential. That means you need to supplement these because your body cannot synthesize them. There are around 14 non-essential amino acids and a lot of other metabolites that are derived from these 8 essential amino acids.
Amino acids can be used for energy. When they're used for energy, they cannot be used for building tissue and performing their other metabolic functions. Ladies, you don't need to put on too much muscle, but you still need to understand that the more muscles you have the higher your metabolism is, which means you burn more energy even when resting. So some muscles will not only look good on you but will increase your metabolism which also means you will need to eat more, too. Quite handy, isn't it?
During starvation the body releases amino acids from muscle issue to be used for energy. This also occurs during exercise and when the body runs out of carbs fuel from the diet or from glycogen stored in the muscles and liver. Unless proteins are present in the diet aminos are released, even if the body has fat for fuel.
BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) are used by muscles to supply a limited amount of energy during strenuous exercise. These are isoleucine, valine and leucine. Leucine is depleted the most frequently. Trained person's muscles use up some amounts of leucine even at rest. Complete proteins are proteins that contain the essential amino acids in amounts that are sufficient for maintenance. Incomplete proteins are usually deficient in one or more of the essential amino acids.
So my advice: regardless of your aim in training (losing weight or putting on muscle) supplementing with amino acids and BCAAs is essential.

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