Collective Fitness Wisdom

Collective Fitness Wisdom from people I have trained with who are in great shape naturally!

Father and Son

Scott Ableman

This list of bullet points is compiled from tips and advice I have picked up over the years from people I have met at gym’s or while training who were in great shape without being obsessed with their training. It was a mind opening experience digging these up from my memory, hope you find a few things you can put to use.

-All the people I know who are in great shape, with athletic and muscular physiques do not pay much attention to eating regularly. They eat when they are hungry and usually have about 3 meals a day. Most even skip breakfast.

-They all do  heavy compound exercises like Squats, Bench Presses, and Military Presses

-Most go running or jogging

-Body weight exercises like dips, chins and pushups are staples of their training regimes

-Eating wholefoods is important to them. They may not know much about nutrition, but they know enough to stay away from McDonalds and other junk.

-Most don’t use any supplements except for a Multi-Vitamin and the occasional scoop of Whey

Coffee is pre-workout and morning fuel

-Bananas are good in their opinion, and most seemed to eat lots

-Nearly all participated in a sport regularly whether it be soccer, tennis or martial arts

-All the bigger guys did body part splits and demolished each body part once or twice a week

-The guys is the best shape trained for 4-5 hours a week in total

-None were vegetarians but most did not care about their intake of protein

-The bigger guys were all fairly strong but nothing extraordinary

-They all lived life with training thrown in, not training with life thrown in

-Most go out and drink/eat socially a few times a week

-At least 5 people have told me their best fat loss has come from jogging on an empty stomach with going to bed slightly hungry

While I know some people who look great may have good genetics to thank but I think they all have value worth taking out of what they do. Remeber this site has officially moved to:


Rockstar Ab Training

As you may already know I have moved my site over to so all my new articles will be running over there. The Newest is a Guide to Rockstar Abs which in spite of the cheesy name has some great functional ab tips which will build yur entire body while strengthening your abs chekc it out over here:

Simple Guide to Rockstar Abs at Zen to Fitness

Getting Started: Vitality Habits for Newbies








Getting Started is Easy

It shocks me how so many people do absolutely no exercise and pay no attention to their diet eating whatever they want whenever they want. One thing all these people have in common is a desire to be healthy, which is natural as is exercising and eating well.

Changing habits can be very daunting, I know many people who want to start a new healthier life but have no idea where/when or how to start. This article aims to be a guide on becoming a new healthier you without giving up the things you love.


this is in some senses the easiest and most satisfying part of becoming healthy. Our bodies are primed to eat certain foods that we have evolved to eat over thousands of years, this involves fresh real food. Head to the Supermarket and pickup a few days supplies of the following foods;

  • Lean cuts of Steak/Lamb, Poultry and Fish (turkey, chicken, cod, tuna, shrimps etc) and Eggs
  • Salad and Vegetables of your choice (no tubers like potatoes)
  • Fruits (Stick to fruits from your own country and in season if possible)
  • Nuts, Seeds and some good quality Olive Oil
  • Apple Cider Vinegar and condiments.
  • Organic Yoghurt
This is all you need to eat well, avoid the bread isle, and all the other sugars and learn to enjoy real wholesome food. Its amazing how good a tray of seasoned, roasted vegetables with a good steak tastes….. feel free to enjoy with a light beer or glass of wine. When was the last time you had an omelette and some fruit for breakfast?
Save all other foods for special occasions like dining at a restaurant with friends or visiting a relatives house for dinner. At these times feel free to have some pizza, a slice of cake or over indulge in anything that you desire. Just make sure you get back on track eating real wholesome foods once your done.

Listen to your hunger

Eat when your body is calling for food. If you feel like something crunchy and juicy grab an apple, if your not hungry at lunch time don’t eat just because its 1PM doesn’t mean you have to eat. Get on with your day and do what you have to do, eating wholesome foods when your body asks for them.
You will be amazed how quickly your body and taste buds adapt to this style of eating. We have beautiful fruits like blueberries and figs why are we eating muffins and croissants for breakfast.

Exercise Plan of Action

Sometimes you just gotta hit the road. I am a firm believer that those of us who have not done any fitness work in years should start by just going for a run. Put on some shorts/trainers and a t-shirt and hit the road even if you struggle after 5 minutes just slow down to a walk (try to do some pushups) and then run again when your ready, just make your goal to break a sweat. You don’t need anyone or any approval to do this workout just your own desire.
You will be shocked at how quickly your body adapts and in no time I am confident you will be running for 20 minutes plus within a few weeks. Once you have attained a basic level of fitness you should start looking into buying a basic dumbbell set or learning how to do body weight exercises like push-ups, squats, lunges, dips and pushups allowing you to start effective circuit type training in order to boost your metabolism. Once your fitness level is adequete consider:
  • Go to a gym and learn for yourself basic resistance training movements like bench press/squats/ dead-lifts knowing what to do in a gym is a great skill to have even if you don’t plan to become a gym rat.
  • Look into a local Crossfit affiliate to workout a few times a week.
  • Start Trail Running
  • Start playing more sports
  • Do Bodyweight circuits
I hope this can serve as a plan of action or starting point for those who are daunted by an exercise and nutrition. It really comes down to doing what we have evolved to do which is eat good real food and move around. Simple 😉

5 reasons to take your Coffee black









Black as the devil, hot as hell, pure as an angel, sweet as love.

Charles Maurice de Talleyrand 

Its a rare sight to see someone drinking their coffee black these days especially with all the Starbucks on every corner people tend to lean towards cappa and frappa cino’s!

Here are five reasons to drink your coffee black

1. Learn the taste of real coffee.

When you have a milk based coffee it is hard to appreciate and recognize the notes of the actual coffee bean all that can be tasted is the slight bitterness of the coffee. Drinking coffee black allows you to pickup of the subtle differences from bean to bean and different roasts. You will be surprised how diverse the flavors can be from fruity and chocolate to oaky and floral.

It is a nice thing to be able to appreciate coffee for what it really. You will find that once you enjoy drinking black coffee you will take pleasure in picking and choosing your own blends in supermarkets or specialist coffee shops.

2. Do it for your health;

Black coffee is calorie and sugar free, it contains fiber and we know that regular consumption of coffee decreases the risk of type II diabetes:

Scientists tracked 41,934 men from 1986 to 1998 and 84,276 women from 1980 to 1998. These were free of diabetes, cancer, or cardiovascular disease at baseline. Coffee consumption was assessed every 2 to 4 years through validated questionnaires. What did they find?

These investigators documented 1333 new cases of type 2 diabetes in men and 4085 new cases in women. The authors found an inverse association between coffee intake and type 2 diabetes after adjustment for age, body mass index, and other risk factors. In other words, those who drank the most coffee tended to have the least risk of diabetes. Even more intriguing, total caffeine intake from coffee and other sources was associated with a statistically significantly lower risk for diabetes in both men and women; meaning that decaffeinated coffee may not be as good for you as the caffeine-filled. The author’s concluded that the “data suggest that long-term coffee consumption is associated with a statistically significantly lower risk for type 2 diabetes.”

What more could you ask for? when drinking your coffee black you get all this with no excess calories.

3. Mental and Physical Energy

By drinking Americano’s, Expresso’s and other black coffee you will get the energizing effect and mental clarity far quicker as there is no milk/cream/soy in the coffee to slow its absorption and dull down the effects. This makes Black coffee before exercise work as a great performance enhancer as has been proven in several studies.

Caffeine is the most versatile and effective ergogenic aid (i.e. something that enhances exercise performance). A prominent exercise physiologist, David Costill, Ph.D., performed the ground-breaking study on caffeine and exercise 26 years ago! He took nine competitive cyclists (two females and seven males) and had them bike until exhaustion at 80% of V02 max. (Note: V02 max, also known as maximal oxygen uptake, is a measure of how well you cardiopulmonary system functions).

Each subject consumed coffee containing 330 mg of caffeine 60 min before the exercise or a placebo (decaffeinated coffee). Following the ingestion of caffeine, the subjects were able to perform an average of 90 minutes of cycling as compared to an average of 76 minutes in the placebo trial. This reflects an 18% increase! They also found that subjects burned more fat (aka lipolysis) as shown by measurements of plasma free fatty acids, glycerol and respiratory exchange ratios. In fact, fat oxidation or burning was significantly higher (107% greater) during the caffeine trial (118 g or 1.31 g/min) than in the placebo trial (57 g or 0.75 g/min). Also, the perception of effort was much less in subjects after consuming subjects indicating that exercise felt easier.

4. Its Easy to Make

All you need is some ground coffee and a french press or a stovetop percolator and you are good to go, leaving you flexible to brew up a great coffee before a workout or during your mid afternoon slump.

Great post on using a French Press

How to brew with a StoveTop Expresso Maker

Or if your feeling adventurous and want a strong coffee look into brewing Turkish Coffee.

You will soon find that brewing your own coffee is a very relaxing and rewarding experience and look forward to brewing up a fresh coffee for breakfast or before a workout.

5. Its CHEAP

Ever had a look at what the cheapest coffee at Starbucks is, you guessed it Black Coffee. This is the case at any coffee shop. As well as this brewing a good cup of straight coffee will be your cheapest option at home so you will save money in all walks of life. I can get a small bag of freshly ground beans at my local wholefoods for around $2-3 which will last me about 8 coffee’s in a french press thats about 3 coffee’s for $1 and that’s 3 of the best!

So to stay in great shape learn to appreciate your coffee the way we are meant to, start drinking black coffee.

Should we be doing Gym Workouts fasted?










I am a huge fan of short intense body weight and aerobic work on an empty stomach in the morning prolonging the fast for about an hour after the session is finished. I feel these sessions burn body fat and they are a great start to the day. The sessions I am talking about are either short runs or body weight based met-con circuits like I mentioned in my previous blog post.

As well as this working out first thing in the morning is the best time to get workouts out of the way leaving the day free to live our lives.

What about longer resistance gym based weights sessions?

Maybe I am odd but I have tried to do heavy lifting first thing in the morning fasted on several occasions and have found that I feel very lethargic and weak, my lifts on compounds do not get near to the maximum weight I could lift. As well as this the workouts seem to affect my mood for days to come especially if I push too hard doing a Power Law Based training session.

From reading around I have come to the conclusion most people feel the same and to me it comes down to a few things;

  1. firstly our bodies are in a detox mode in the morning and more geared towards the ridding of toxins and therefore primed for aerobic activity which would include trail running, walking and high rep body weight work.
  2. If you have already fasted from say 6PM the previous evening and had a dinner based on wholefoods (Meat, Vegetables, Good Fat and Fruit) it is likely your muscle glycogen is very low which will stop you performing at your maximum level by the time you get to your workout at 8-9AM.
  3. Resistance work fasted hits your CNS harder potentially effecting your mood for days to come. Especially when done at High Intensity.
Martin Berkhan from has a great insight on workouts when Intermittent Fasting:
Morning workouts and IF      

I’ve been getting a lot of questions on how to structure meals in combination with morning workouts, without deviating from the plan; being that an 8 hour feeding phase is one of the fundamentals of the diet, morning workouts would have one starting the fast quite early, which for most people may feel a bit harder than fasting throughout the morning/lunch hours. Here’s what I’ve responded to a recent post, adressing my opinion on the subject matter:

Anyway, I am interested in your take on working out in the morning and how to fit that in w/ IF. I have been doing IF and feeling great but can only work out in the morning and, so take my post workout meal at that time. Is this ok, or what do you recommend?

“…for morning workouts, I usually recommend compromising a bit. The way I set this up, is to place a certain % of total calorie intake in an 8 hr feeding window pre-and post WO, and then “taper” calories towards the evening (high protein/low carb) in order to make a transition into the fasted phase (as low carb mimicks the effects from fasting to a certain degree). Thus, the feeding phase will be slightly longer than 8 hrs on workout days, but I consider this a good compromise in order to get proper PWO nutrition. Of course, one could go about this by initiating the fast in the afternoon/evening, but many consider this a bit daunting (and anecdtoally, fasting in the morning/lunch hours seems easier).”

What to do if you don’t feel your best working out with weights fasted?
If you must do your primary heavy resistance training first thing in the morning and yu are someone who does not tolerate fasted workouts well I can offer the following tips:
  • Have a piece of fruit before hand like a banana seems to do an amazing job at keeping our bodies in a negative energy balance whilst allowing you to perform well in the morning and burn fat. I have been experimenting with a banana and a shot of expresso pre workout (30 mins before) and it has been great, I suspect my insulin levels are kept low enough to encourage fat burning during the workout.
  • Try and do more light running/pushups/Pullups and squats first thing in the morning and fit in your gym based work in the evenings.
  • Experiment with Branched Chain Amino acids. I am not a huge fan of supplements like these but they will give you energy to get through workouts whilst keeping your body in a fasted state, 5-10 grams will do.
  • Eat dinner later at night. This is a tricky one as we want to go to bed with a somewhat empty stomach as to maximize growth Hormone release so be careful with this one, the main premise is to make the fast before the workout shorter but still be in a fasted state.
  • I will sometimes do fasted resistance work on mornings after cheat meals/dinners as I have normally eaten loads of high carb foods leaving me with plenty of muscle glycogen allowing me to steam roll through workouts, in spite of having fasted for several hours.
The take out point here is that everyone is different I know some people perform fine first thing in the morning whilst others suffer. If you are someone who does not fare well doing heavy resistance work while fasted then I suggest you experiment with some of the tips above and see what works for you or try and schedule your workouts to times you have some fuel in the system.

Practicing what I preach: How I stayed fit on Holiday








After my recent blog post on staying fit while traveling or working I had to put it to good use on a holiday to the south of France in which I indulged in wine, expresso’s and the french Riviera lifestyle, whilst keeping/improving my physical shape.


I decided the best plan of action was to do a short fasted (Check out my post on fasted workouts) workout most mornings, the views in the cote d’azur were stunning so jogging was a must but I worked in some crossfit style WOD’s to improve time efficiency and keep my muscles toned. The mornings were the best time to workout as it was still relatively cool and gave me the whole day to do as I pleased. Some examples of my workouts;

  • 10 minute run- Stopped by the sea did pushups/lifted rocks and went for a swim (10 minutes) – 10 minute run back to the hotel.
  • Warm-up run 5-10 minutes – Circuit of Pushups/ Pullups (on a tree branch)/ jumping squats – Cool down walk back to hotel (10 minutes)
  • Run 400m/15 Burpees and 15 Dips (on handrails) repeat 3 times
These were all done fasted with an expresso before hand. On days when my legs were feeling tired I would do the less running based workouts and days I indulged too much the night before I would go for more slow paced running workouts to sweat it out. They also allowed me to take in the beautiful scenery and inhale the fresh sea air, I managed to work out most mornings but on occasions I listened to my body and took a day off.
I also managed to keep active at the beach by playing volley ball, swimming and walking a lot, this definitely helped me keep burning fat and pushed my energy flux up while having fun at the beach.
I’ll admit it some morning the last thing I wanted to do was exercise, but sometimes you just got to hit the road, trust me you will always feel better after your done. Here are some great resources for inspiration and motivation to workout:
Sticking to a good wholesome diet was not hard in the south of France, in fact if you enjoy good food its pretty simple there was abundance of fresh fruit from the region including amazing local apricots/figs and plums. The diet in France is similar to that of Italy with less of an influence on pasta and pizza.
  • Most mornings I would break my fast with provincial fruit and a small piece of local cheese with coffee. This was a perfect breakfast as it kept me light but allowed me to enjoy the local fresh food offerings.
  • Lunch would usually be a salad from the region usually a Nicoise which is full of good stuff like olives, anchovies, eggs and tuna. This would be complimented with a glass or two of wine and washed down with an expresso.
  • Dinner was when I would usually indulge as I was usually in a social environment and also wanted to enjoy what the restaurants had to offer, this included anything from excellent pizza’s some nights to superb grilled meat and roasted vegetables other nights. Other nights I would enjoy the local/fresh  baguette with a selection of cheese’s and charcuterie with wine which has various benefits or a few beers.
  • Snacks would usually be an apple or few apricots.
Dining on holiday should never be a time to deprive yourself, just make good choices enjoy what the culture has to offer and eat well.
This was pretty simple I packed some good multi-vitamins and some magnesium citrate and took them daily. Although I didn’t take fish oil I tried to eat oily fish daily which seemed to keep me supple. I also used Vitamin C and Rhodiola Rosea for times I had been out late and drunk a few too many glasses of wine and woke up feeling tired.
Oh and some sun screen!
In a Nut Shell
Doing these simple things allowed me to keep in great shape throughout my holiday while having an awesome time socializing with friends and family, don’t forget this is the most important thing about holidays and it can easily be merged with your lifestyle without depriving yourself of what your surroundings have to offer. In fact I found my healthy habits allowed me to experience and get the most out of the local culture.

Earn that dinner

When having a big dinner I feel it is our nature to over eat and indulge especially in social environments. Therefore its important that we do not deprive ourselves of feasts of food and alcohol, of course they should be kept in moderation but there is a key to working them into your life.

When we work out our body adapts in several different ways firstly your insulin sensitivity increases this basically means that your body will shuttle energy (food) into your muscles for recovery rather than into fat cells. This improved sensitivity lasts for up to 15 hours so rest assured your morning workout will still be having an effect come dinner time.

If you do resistance work (training with weights) your body will have a reason to put those extra calories to good use. An intense resistance session like that seen in a circuit style weights workout will break down muscle making it want to grow back bigger and stronger making it even more likely your food will go to good use.

So what can we learn from this?

If your going to go and have a huge meal or socialize with friends and family don’t be the dude who sits their and turns down the pasta in favor of a chicken salad, don’t be they guy who doesn’t want that extra bud light. Just earn it! I am not talking about bingeing every-night but when I do I earn my food/drink and I indulge.

You can go about this is two different ways firstly my favorite way is to-do a hardcore workout before dinner. This will usually happen around 4-5 in the evening if I am scheduled to have dinner at 7-8PM. This workout can be done anywhere all you need is a pair of running shoes and some time; 

  • Get a good mix or playlist pumping on your iPod and hit the road and run for 30-40 minutes
  • In this time aim for 100-200 reps depending on fitness level of a mix of a mix of Push-ups/Squats/Dips/Pull-ups/Lunges/Sprints (Count 100m sprints as 5 reps)
  • Enjoy it play around and get endorphins pumping keep telling yourself to earn that dinner!
  • Have a cold shower eat some fruit/nuts if hungry and head out to socialize and have fun.
  • I will usually do some fasted cardio or prolong a IF session the next morning if I have time which is nice to cleanse the system.

Doing this will not only allow you to burn up your food it will also release feel good hormones making your more sociable.

If you aren’t lucky enough to have the time to exercise before the dinner make sure you have done an intense workout within the last 15 hours, ideally have your muscles slightly sore so you know the food is going to good use.

I am not advocating a bad diet, but I realize we have lives to live and from time to time feel like eating whatever we want, just kicking back and forgetting about eating like a caveman. You will probably find that after your splurge you have more dedication to eat well anyway so it will benefit you in the long run, as well keeping you sane.


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