Core Strength: A Routine for Stamina

Stand-up if you do the shopping for the family from time-to-time, you get props from me and if you’ll walk the bags home you get double – it doesn’t matter your age. The local Supermarket is a great place to pass through especially if you know a bit about food groups. With knowledge of what you and your family need nutritionally, you can mix and match foods in order to ensure your nutritional balance is sorted, but this post is about exercise and how to make those long walks home with the shopping easier.

Functional Training has many faces and meanings depending on who you’re talking to. To me, the main idea behind Functional Training I hold is to be able to execute the tasks of daily living with ultimate ease. A core component (pun not intended) of any style of training is Core Exercise which is your midsection also known as the ‘Trunk’ which also includes your Spinal Column. Your core muscles stabilise your body so increasing strength in this area will help you when walking and carrying heavy loads as well as balance.

This core burning workout is just what you need to strengthen your core and put the ‘F’ into Functional Training. Doing this workout once or twice a week will help you to increase muscle endurance and strength so give it a try, don’t forget to stretch before and after your workout.

Warm-Up:

High Knees: 5 sets – 30 seconds (per set) – 15 sec Rest.

Planks: 3 sets – 30 seconds (per set) – 30 sec Rest.

Main Session:

Squats: 3 sets – 8 to 10 reps – 2 min Rest.

Static Squat (body Weight):  5 sets – 30 seconds (per set) – 2 min Rest.

Farmers Walk: 3 to 5 circuits – 1 min Rest.

Walking Lunge: 3 circuits – 2 min Rest.

Barbell Roll-out: 3 sets – 8 to 10 reps – 2 min Rest.

Chin-Ups: 3 sets – 8 – 10 reps – 30 sec/1 min Rest.

Reaching Your Goals: The Importance of Support

Without the help of those closest to you, without their understanding and cooperation, you may find yourself moving in slow motion if not going round in circles when it comes to making diet changes and increasing your levels of exercise.

A client I was working with, with much enthusiasm to reach his goals, to begin with, found himself in such a predicament. Family members weren’t as supportive as he had hoped even though this time around he sought the aid of a Fitness and Nutritional Adviser (myself). He told me his siblings were busy with their lives and the support from his elders wasn’t as he’d hoped (maybe you can relate). When family see you making an effort at something that you have given give up on in the past due to ‘a pain in my arm’ or ‘I plan to, once the rain stops maybe,’ they can get tired quick until you show and prove with persistence and perseverance.

Making any change in life has its hard beginnings and Allah (glorified be He) says in the Qur’an that with every hardship there is ease, twice over in fact (See Surah 94: Al-Inshirah of the Qur’an). No man is perfect but we can all seek to be and do better than what we did the day before.

Fitness Advisors can do so much, motivating you and providing the tools to help you reach that goal but you need to want the change more than you want to stay the same. If you’re ready for change you need to get the network on your side or look for those that will support you. My clients always have my support whether I have to make an unexpected check-in, phone calls, email and social, I’m not ‘EE’ but I keep it moving.

Part of preparing for a weight-loss journey is a conversation with yourself and also conversations with those around you, so you know what kind of an impact your new journey and lifestyle would mean to you, them, what they can do to make your life easier and what not to do around you such as eating crepes, crisps and chocolate while you’re preparing a yoghurt bowl and drinking water. Saying that you need to find enjoyment in the new you because eating healthy isn’t a chore once you embrace your change.

It’s important for myself and client to set SMART goals that can be regularly monitored and altered throughout the 8 weeks of the programme ‘The Old Medicine’. Setting goals brings you one step closer to achieving them once you believe you can actually do it. And in reality, even if you had the whole world saying ‘Nah, he’s not gonna do it’ but you were persistent, patient and prepared for the hardship you’ve won.

Get in contact [Here] to join our 8 Week Weight-loss Programme that will teach you all you need to know about your body as it relates to weight-loss.

Channel Negative Energy with Exercise

I like to think I’m a cool guy, calm and chilled more than not. That may be ‘rubbish’ if you asked my family but I maintain the notion that I’m ‘chilli and calm’. But, I know I have anger for injustice and manipulation, deception and trickery, shirk (associating partners with Allah subhanu wa ta’ala) and all evil of the shayateen (Iblees and his party).

This, I believe, is how it should be. However, sometimes people have attitude and anger for the littlest thing. Dogs bark and Lions spray scent! But if you’re finding it hard to control your anger and it’s ‘getting on-top’ as it were, here are a couple of things you could do to channel your anger via physical activity.

Squats and Deadlifts (Gym Training) – You’ll feel the effort/work you’re doing through your whole body. Focus, breath and lift! Channel your anger into the bar, into the movements with good form. Take your time and get into the zone, you’ll soon feel calm (God willing).

A 3D render of an old worn vintage leather punching bag in a room lit by an ethereal highlighting window light

Heavy Bag Training – Don’t go at anyone’s head, rather, try jogging on the spot while you hit the bag for 2/3 minutes before a 1-minute break, then back on, go for 3 to 5 rounds. You can progress from there, working on your combinations, just be courteous to the people around you because you share the space with them.

Running – Not as easy as it looks when you’ve been driving around for so long but the fresh air and watching the world go by as you rack up the miles gives you a great sense of achievement and will give you time to reflect and calm down. All you need is good trainers and the knowledge of how to get home plus you don’t need to wait for the gym’s to reopen post-Covid19…get running!

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ‘rolling’ is great self defence skill and system that will humble you and calm the storm inside due to the likelihood that you’ll get submitted time and again. Great for the heart and limbs, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a fun and rewarding way to keep cool. 

Muay Thai 

‘You like kicking people ha?’ Just go easy on your training partner, they came to chill or maybe get their anger out too; It could turn nasty if you don’t know when enough is enough. Great as a whole body workout and sure to take the anger away.

Swimming 

A whole body workout including your heart. Swimming is a Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Great for sculpting your body and losing weight, this is a high recommendation for brothers that can find a pool with privacy. When you’re in the zone you will be too tired to be angry inshaAllah/God willing.

Archery – For the man that can seriously channel his energy and focus, get the target out. A recommendation of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) archery takes patience and practice. Walking between targets, picking up your bows, you’ll soon forget why you were angry and raise your mood as you get better inshaAllah. 

As you can see, these are just a few of my top picks for turning negative energy into positive. As men, we will get angry from time to time be it due to family issues, work or our feelings toward the situation of our society and community but it’s important to find a focus in something of benefit, something that increases you in knowledge, wisdom and skill, rather than eating the anger away, smoking, drinking or engaging in illegal or destructive pursuits. It’s easy to say but when you find what you enjoy of exercise and physical activity your body will thank you in years to come and you’ll build bridges rather than break them.

Finally, taking a walk with your family and friends is the best of things you can do to quell the anger. Talk, share and don’t be alone.

Further reading:

https://www.bakkah.net/articles/strongbeliever.htm

https://www.bakkah.net/articles/wrestling.htm

Is Strength Training for you?

Old gym interior with equipment

Were you born in the early 1960s or earlier? Do you do much exercise throughout the week? Have you ever tried strength training?

When most people think of strength training they think of Arnold Schwarzenegger in his early bodybuilding days, playing Conan or the Terminator. Hench guys standing in front of mirrors (watching his form) hitting set after set and rep after rep, making the gym equipment sweaty will often come to mind but strength training has a place in all of our lives.

That “gym beast” is onto something that could really benefit you if you’re an older person and will surely benefit you while you’re in your youth growing up and here’s how. Strength training helps a person to maintain and increase muscle mass, so how does this help you in old age? This will help you to hold your own weight getting up from a seated position, walk from the market with your shopping, pick up your grandchildren and raise them up into the sky, all things that show you and the world around you that you still have a level of independence.

As we age our muscle mass reduces which is known as sarcopenia. Strength Training with a personally prescribed gym plan will help you reduce if not halt the effects of this and even increase muscle mass. The gym is not a place for the youth alone and once the gyms open again, post-covid, I hope to see more elderly people getting after those weights.

If you would benefit from our personally designed gym programme, designed to help you maintain muscle mass as you age, leave me a message [Here].

Dates: Workout food with added benefits

Dates are a source of glucose from the date-palm tree found in hotter climates and in the Islamic world abundantly. There are many varieties of dates with Medjool dates being from the most widely known and tasted of the varieties. As a Revert Muslim, I’ve found myself adapting my palate to new foods with Dates being one of them. Being an athlete, it only makes sense to open your palate to new foods that will help you in your training and performance goals. So in this article, I suggest you include dates in your pre- and/or post-workout meals. 

Medjool Dates

Pre- and Intra-workout

When we’re training or engaged in exercise our bodies use different energy systems depending on the type and duration of our exercise. When training with weights the preferred energy system is the Anaerobic Glycolytic System which uses carbohydrates in the form of muscle glycogen as fuel. The amount of glycogen that can be stored in our bodies is limited to around 100 – 120g in your Liver and 400g in Skeletal muscle (for a person weighing 70kg) so keeping this fuel source topped up with a food such as dates would help do this. 

Post-workout

On the glycemic index, Dates came in around 46 – 55 which makes them low Gi (below 55 is low gi). This means that eating dates will release glucose in a way that won’t spike insulin thus avoiding a crash. They also help you to feel fuller since they also contain fibre. After your workout, eat a few dates until you can have a full meal post-workout.

 100g serving provides the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 277
  • Carbs: 75 grams
  • Fibre: 7 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Potassium: 20% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 14% of the RDI
  • Copper: 18% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 15% of the RDI
  • Iron: 5% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B6: 12% of the RDI

The Added Benefits:

Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Al-’Ajwah is from Paradise and it contains a cure for poison. Truffles are a form of manna, and its liquid is a cure for the eye.”

(Graded Hasan – Jami at-Tirmidhi – Hadith no. 2066 – chapter 22).

Eating for performance doesn’t mean you have to resort to processed, chemically engineered foods. Rather, our creator has provided everything we need to do what we have been created for. Training, performing on competition day and coming home a winner can be done with a balanced and naturally sound diet. Pre-workout, Dates will provide a steady stream of glucose while you train and after your workout, Dates provide that fast source of glucose that will help you stay energised until you have a full meal. If you’d like some help to take your training to the next level [Email Here].

Other Resources:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-dates#section1

http://www.healthymuslim.com/articles/qsswx-ibn-al-qayyim-dates-are-a-nourishing-fruit.cfm

Benefits of Ginger

Ginger in the Qur’an

Ginger or Zanjabil in Arabic, belongs to the Zingiberaceae botanical family which also includes Cardamom and Turmeric. It is a culinary and medicinal spice that Allaah (subhanu wa ta’ala) makes mention of in Surah al-Insan, verse 17.

“And they will be given to drink there of a cup (of wine) mixed with Zanjabil (ginger).” (76:17)

Ibn Qayyim and ‘Medicine of the Prophet’

Ibn Qayyim in his book ‘Medicine of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam)’ states that it heats the body, aids the digestive process, softens the stomach mildly, helps open a clogged liver and strengthens sexual power, among other benefits. It can be used fresh, dried, powdered, as an oil or juice and can also be processed in food and cosmetics (used as kohl).​​

Modern Discovery

The main bioactive compound in ginger is Gingerol which is an anti-inflammatory (aiding the bodies defence against injury, viruses, bacteria) and antioxidant (inhibiting oxidation).

If you’re a regular exercise you may want to introduce ginger into your diet as a study found ginger to be an effective reliever to exercise-induced muscle pain. It was found that consuming 2 grams per day for 11 days significantly reduced muscle pain in people performing elbow exercises.

Consuming Ginger

Ginger is great in food or as shots (drinks), great for that pre-gym wake-up, taken just before you start your session. Such a drink will have you ready to put in effort in a natural way rather than using pre-workouts.

You could look into a juicing machine which is a great investment. Using raw ginger adding apple, cucumber and dark green vegetables will benefit your health and taste great.

For assistance and advice on your current nutritional diet and fitness levels, get in contact with Abu Hafs Hanif [Email].

Sources:

Healing with the Medicine of the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) by Ibn Qayyim, published by Darussalam, Translated by Jalal Abual Rub, Revised edition July 2010, Supervised by Abdul Malik Mujahid.

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/ingredient-focus-ginger

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-benefits-of-ginger#section7

https://www.pret.co.uk/en-gb/679-cold-drinks-ginger-shot.aspx

To Workout or to Stay Inactive

hex dumbell in gym

To stay healthy, to improve your health and to keep your body in running order it’s important to eat with a balanced nutritional regime. But aside from food its also important for you to do a good amount of exercise each day if possible.

If you’re aged between 19 and 64 years of age, the U.K. health recommendation’s (Public Health England) are to do at least 150 minutes of moderate activity such as brisk walking each week and at least two days of strength training to preserve muscles, flexibility and agility each week. This strength training should include all of your major muscles.

Inactivity in the U.K. cost the NHS £455m (2013-14) or £8.17 per person. In real terms this means less time playing with your children, more days off work which decreases your work productivity culminating in your wife being upset and less able to raise your children because now she’s also looking after you!

If you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, and you’re ready to lift some weight and walk some miles then I can help you. With tailor-made gym plans and nutritional advice that will guide you to balanced nutrition and positive eating habits, advice that will help you become more informed on your own health and maintenance Abu Hafs is here to help. [Email Me Now] or via our social networks.

What to Drink Post-workout

Exercise is taxing on your body as you’re aware. When we exercise our bodies generate a lot of heat and this heat needs to find its way out of us. Our skin is the main way out as sweat. Some Men sweat more than others and this can be due to our overall size (shorter Men are likely to sweat less), our surroundings, humidity and how hard we are actually working out. 

As a foundation, it’s recommended to drink 1 litre for every 1kg of weight loss through exercise. 

When we exercise without adequate hydration blood volume will decrease and your body temperature rises which can affect your heart, lungs and circulatory system. Your heart will have to work harder to pump blood around your body and all this will make the exercise harder. 

Make sure you’re well-hydrated before and during your exercise and once you finish you’ll want to replace lost water and sodium. However, don’t fall into drinking large amounts in one sitting because this can bring on a lot of urination and the risk of hyponatraemia (see my Ramadan Health Guide for more). 

Sports drinks with sodium are also an option other than water. Take Isotonic drinks over hypotonic because they have been shown to benefit performance during moderate to high-intensity events lasting longer than an hour. 

Pre-workouts and the Alternatives

Pre-workout supplements are very popular with gym-going monsters chasing the next pump, the next gym session muscle murder, the next muscle growth spurt. Getting your monies worth out of your gym membership is a must and so purchasing pre-workout supplements makes sense when growing muscle is the goal but are there alternatives that will get you the same amped-up feeling?

Yes, there are alternatives to the supplement ingredient combinations found in most pre-workouts. The natural way is in my view the best way to go, long term, although I will sometimes employ pre-workouts to get the blood flowing and to get into the zone during a workout session because sometimes you need more kick.

So what Pre-workouts and what are and the core ingredients found within them? Pre-workouts are a combination of ingredients that when combined help to boost performance and alertness while exercising, helping you to better previous personal achievements, reduce feelings of perceived exertion, increase muscle endurance and increase training volume. As the name suggests, they are usually taken before the exercise session (30 – 45 mins before in most cases) added to water or a juice, they usually come in powder form.

From the key ingredients found in pre-workouts are Creatine, Beta-alanine, Caffeine which all have research backing up their benefits to performance when training. However, using such supplements too often could be harmful since overusing caffeine, for example, will increase the tolerance the body has towards it, this would mean you’d need to consume more to get the same level of effect over time so in this case, taking a week off of the pre-workout may be a good decision.

The processes used in production, the combination of the ingredient formula and your bodily reaction to the pre-workout are all factors that should be taken into consideration when buying and using pre-workouts. It’s important to know that they can increase your heart rate and affect your quality of sleep (rest is important for muscle growth).

Some of the natural pre-workouts I’d suggest you try to avoid or reduce your use of formula made pre-workouts includes:

Ginger juice shots taste great and warm you up to the point you’ll be fired up for your exercise session. It also reduces pain, nausea, improves digestion and reduces inflammation.

Beetroot juice shots increase body’s nitric oxide levels and improve cardiovascular performance. Increasing blood flow around the body reduces stress on your heart.

Coffee (espresso, americano, cold brew) – helpful in Fat loss, improved focus, increased performance, antioxidant properties and decreased muscle pain coffee and caffeine, in particular, are well known to aid fitness. Coffee is from the most consumed drinks around the world and its ability to bring alertness to a person is well known, helping to ensure a great workout session.

I love a pre-workout whether it be a formula or natural juice or coffee. they set the stage for the work about to be done. I don’t recommend formula pre-workouts to beginner exercisers or those with preexisting health issues, these supplements can be dangerous so before you consume them to seek the advice of your GP.

The Essentials of a Good Diet

To live we need to eat and drink, if you’re planning to lose weight you may be tempted to cut food out and just drink. Maybe a friend told you about a diet that he knows will work if you just ‘’trust the process.’’ In reality, you’ll find it very hard not to lose weight on any of the diets out there because the deciding factor comes down to how much energy you use up. The less food you eat and the more active you do the more weight you’ll lose. Another important thing to remember is that reducing your food shouldn’t mean totally avoiding food groups (Carbs, Protein & Fats) since they all have a role to play in our bodies. So here are the essentials of a good, nutritionally balanced diet. 

Carbohydrates are the keys to keeping your energy levels up. They supply glucose (which Carbohydrates are broken down into) to the central nervous system and brain. If the brain doesn’t get its supply it will not function properly leading to further issues.

The Carbs you eat should be those that suit your body in order to manage your blood sugar and insulin levels, prevent constipation and digestive problems.

Try: Brown Rice, Sweet Potato, Apples, Kidney Beans, Almonds, Pumpkin Seeds, Pure Oats.

DRVs – 50 – 55%

Fat

‘’Fat makes you fat, don’t eat that you’ll get fat!’’ Old talk you need to throw to the wall. Fat and fatty acids are essential to the body functioning as it should. They provide energy (9kcals per gram as opposed to 4kcals/g for carbs and protein), can be stored in the body ready to be used as energy which is ideal if you get lost in a desert (you’ll still need water – one less problem), provide insulation on those cold morning runs or when the boilers broke, they transport vitamins and much more.  

Try: Organic Milk, Cheese and Eggs, Nuts and Seeds, Fish and Lean Meats.

DRVs – 30 – 35%

Protein

Don’t believe the whispers telling you all you need to do is drink a protein shake and you’ll turn incredible hulk real fast. Protein is needed to increase muscle size but you also need the right conditions (ie. balanced diet and exercise that causes the micro muscle tears for regrowth). Proteins do much more than building muscle; they help form our skin and hair, they carry oxygen around the body via our blood, regulate blood sugar levels and more.

Protein can be found in animals as well as plants animals eat so the choice is yours as to where you get the main of your protein from. However, plant proteins are known as ‘’Incomplete’’ because the amino acid content in an animal is ‘complete’ whereas plants do not contain all the essential amino acids or contain low amounts of what our bodies need for making protein.

Try: Red Meat, Chicken, Fish, Dairy and Eggs – Animal Proteins

Try: Fruits and Vegetables, Nuts, Seeds, Beans and Pulses – Plant Proteins

DRVs – 10 – 15%

Vitamins & Minerals

These are micronutrients because the body needs them in small amounts as opposed to macronutrients (Crabs, Protein and Fats) needed in larger amounts. To go through all of the various needs the body has for these micronutrients would take a proper sit down so here are a few to note:

Building red blood cells, growing and maintaining our nails, skin and hair, maintaining our teeth and ensuring our nerve responses are working, among many other functions.

Vitamins occur naturally in most foods and many chemical reactions that take place in the body are due to them being in place. They don’t hold an energy value but without them, energy cannot be released for the body to use.

Minerals can be found in plants and animals and they hold an important role as co-enzymes (molecules needed for a specific enzyme to function properly), they combine with other chemicals (eg. calcium phosphate found in our bones) and they can also be single elements like sodium within our bodily fluids. 

Try: Milk, Yoghurt, Spinach, Broccoli, Beef, Fish, Eggs, Banana, Kale, Carrots, Sweet Potato and Asparagus.

Fibre

A plant-based carbohydrate that cannot be digested in the small intestine but reaches the large intestine. Fibre helps the digestive system stay strong and healthy, preventing constipation and research points to a fibre rich diet helping to increase good gut bacteria.

Try: Wholegrain cereal, wholewheat pasta, Peas, Nuts and Seeds, Fruit and Berries, Broccoli, Carrots, Potatoes with skin.

So, you’re on your fitness journey, remember to eat with a balance. I hope you’ve come to realise just how important the food you eat is to your body and you’ll take your next meal as sustenance that will help you grow and recharge as well as feed your hunger pain.

If you have any questions regarding this post or want to get in touch feel free. [Shout Me Here].

Further Reading:

Department of Health Report 41

https://www.nutrition.org.uk/healthyliving/basics/fibre.html