Scott Bird

Scott Bird is a writer and fitness enthusiast based in sunny Sydney, Australia. When not wandering around second-hand book stores, he can usually be found over at his strength-training site, Straight to the Bar.

Getting Fit: 10 Things to Consider When Starting Out

getting fit

When I started working out I was lucky enough to put in place several things that have held me in good stead up until now (as well as a number that didn’t, but I’ll just quietly ignore those). Here are 10 things that helped enormously :

1. Set goals

Think about your reasons for exercising, and set goals that seem reasonable to you (you can always adjust these later as necessary). These goals will help enormously when it comes to keeping you on track; regardless of your motivation. Whether you want to be freakishly strong, shed a few excess pounds or simply have beach-worthy abs; goal-setting will help you on your way.

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Change Your Thinking, Change Your Fitness

Roger Bannister

In 1952 a young English runner named Roger Gilbert Bannister found himself in the 1500m final. The race was to prove one of the most dramatic in Olympic history, and the outcome was not decided until the final metres. Bannister finished a disappointing fourth. Over the next two months Bannister considered a number of dramatic changes to his training; and even the idea of giving up running altogether. To say he was frustrated is an understatement. Ultimately, he decided on a new goal – he would run a mile in less than four minutes. At that time, nobody had ever achieved this. In fact, this was several seconds faster than the world record. Over the next couple of years he gradually took slices off his times. By the start of 1954 he was running a mile in just over 4min2secs. The day that was to change his life came in May 1954, during a meet in Oxford. In front of 3,000 incredulous spectators, Bannister ran the mile in 3min 59.4sec. He had finally done it.

A new way of thinking

The astonishing part is not just Bannister’s achievement (although that’s a big thing in itself); it’s how quickly other runners were breaking the same barrier. Just 46 days later – in a meet in Turku, Finland – Australian John Landy broke the record with a 3m57.9s . Others soon followed. This to me outlines the power of a mental barrier to limit goals; particularly when it comes to fitness. The fact that something hasn’t been done certainly doesn’t mean it can’t be done. It also highlights the importance of putting hard numbers in the goal. Whenever I’ve tried to ‘lose a few kilos’, ‘increase my overall strength’, ‘run without gasping for breath’ I’ve seen slight improvements at best. Aiming to ‘lose 10kg’, ‘deadlift 200kg’ etc has proven far more effective.

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Kitchen Success: How to Plan for Body Transformation

plan for body transformation

If you’ve ever tried a bit of body transformation (losing weight, gaining weight, redistributing it), you know what it’s like. It can be a frustrating, disheartening process. Still, it doesn’t have to be that way. As with anything, a bit of preparation makes all the difference. No matter what your body transformation goals are, here are the components of kitchen success.

Clean out the cupboard

You know what it’s like. You’ve been sticking to the plan for a while now, eating healthy meals and steering clear of the bad stuff. One day you notice a lonely packet of potato chips in the back of the cupboard, and it’s game on. Before you know it you’re scouring the room for the simplest, tastiest ready-made snack you can find. Solution : clean out the cupboards before you start, and remove anything which doesn’t fit in with your intended eating plan. No need to go overboard here, just get rid of the obvious ‘shouldn’t have’ items. NB : if you’re sharing the kitchen with others, just put your food – as much as possible – in a separate place.

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The Art of Working Out Alone

working out alone

After a nine year break, I began lifting weights again about four years ago. This absence had not done me any favors; and I was slow, weak and a little on the heavy side. Having eventually made the decision to begin doing something (and believe me – after 9 years, this didn’t exactly come easily), I was faced with an all-too-common dilemma. Where?

Gyms can be intimidating places at the best of times. As an outsider, it seemed as though all the members were in pretty good shape to start with. I’d stick out like a sore thumb. Instead, I decided to set up a home gym. Get myself into a reasonable condition before I went anywhere near the commercial options. And then I discovered it – the art of working out alone.

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7 Lifestyle Changes that Will Help the Environment

help the environment

Over the past few years, most people I’ve spoken to have become (or already were) environmentally conscious to some degree. What often begins simply as saving money – such as reducing the amount of electricity you use – turns out to have quite a positive impact. If, however, you want to do even more; there are several things you can do. Here are just 7 lifestyle changes which will help the environment.

1. Use the car less. This is perhaps the simplest change in this list – reduce the time you spend behind the wheel. In addition to the environmental benefits of doing this, you’ll probably find that you become slightly fitter; and have more money in your pocket at the end of the week. In short, there’s no downside. How do you do this? Here are a few suggestions.

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