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The team from SW Fitness (image supplied) The team from SW Fitness (image supplied)

Fitness

How to get that beach body for summer

The team from SW Fitness (image supplied)

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I caught up with Steve White of SW Fitness to see if he could get me beach-body beautiful.

If I want to bring my A-game to my gay beach vacation, what role does nutrition play in that? Or should I just focus on bicep curls and ab-crunches?

The key to achieving the beach body is both diet and training — you won’t achieve your goal unless you eat clean and train hard.

Firstly, make sure your diet is low in carbs and high in protein, with a splattering of good fats — your body will change if you eat the correct amount of calories and percentage of macros.

Secondly, when you train, train hard and effectively. It’s okay being in the gym for 1.5 hours, but if you don’t do it properly you won’t make those changes.

If I know I’ve got a big event coming up — like the pool party at Circuit Barcelona — what’s the best way to prepare for that to make sure I’m looking good and feeling confident?

People think that it’s just about training — it’s not, it’s about strengthening the mind and the body will follow. Training is about internal strength and self esteem, the stronger the mind the more focused we become. A trainer can always help you with this — even having a gym buddy will help push you and ensure that you challenge yourself.

The key is to work slightly out of your comfort zone. At first it can be difficult, but over time, pushing harder and going that extra mile will help you achieve a huge amount.

Do last minute emergency diet or fitness measures have any impact?

People think that there are quick fixes to get results — sorry, there isn’t. Unless you’re a genetic freak, it all takes time. Stripping fat takes months of good training and a very controlled diet.

Guys who are very focused generally don’t drink too much — it’s not only bad for you, but it can inhibit your training ability and restrict your progress.

High caffeine intake won’t strip your fat, it will just make you jittery which isn’t a nice feeling, However a strong coffee can help you train a little harder.

If I’m trying to sharpen up my beach body, which are the best exercises to focus on in the gym?

The big compound exercises are the ones you should be focusing on — hit them hard at the start to build the bulk, then move on to isolation exercises that help develop the shape.

Depending on your experience, you can split the body down. I’d recommend back and triceps, chest and biceps, shoulders, and then legs. Throw some spin or HIIT sessions in to the mix to help reduce your fat level.

Dont forget the core and ab work to help make sure the body foundations are strong.

Are protein shakes after a workout a good idea?

It’s very important to get that protein fix within 15 minutes. Protein synthesis uses protein to help repair and grow after your training session.

A combination of protein either from a shake — or even better a natural source — plus some carbs will ensure your that training session wasn’t wasted

What are some of the foods that I should try and avoid or minimise?

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There are two types of carbs, simple and complex. Try to stick to the rule of anything brown — like brown rice and whole-wheat — are good. Anything white and starchy are bad. Big no-nos are white potato, white pasta, and white bread — they are all forbidden.

Complex carbs take longer to breakdown and provide slow release energy, therefore are great for the metabolism.

However the worst carb is sugar — a simple carb. This is the devil carb — you just don’t do it. It’s basically fat. From fruit juice to chocolate, it’s packed with the stuff that we absorb the quickest.

Do I need to also be taking supplements?

If you’re eating a well-balanced, controlled diet, then you should be okay without additional vitamins. However, Glucosamine is good for the joints — especially if you’re stripping fat, as you can deplete your body which can be hard on the system.

I take a pre-workout to give me a little boost before training, and usually drink BCAAs while training — it just helps deliver a little bit more energy.

I generally try not to take too many supplements as they can be too much on my little tummy, and you don’t want that when training heavy.

Any other hints or tips for getting myself beach body ready?

Stay focused on the prize. You should always strive to be your best at everything — especially your health and fitness.

Train hard and train smart. Get guidance from the professionals if needed.

If you feel you’ve pushed as hard as possible, and tried your upmost to achieve your results, then you should stand tall and be proud.

Don’t forget to get a tan before going — burning on the first day is not clever and certainly not cool.

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Fitness

Meet the vegan body-builder

Alexander Kosztowny is building mass without harm.

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Alexander Kosztowny (image supplied)
Alexander Kosztowny (image supplied)

I caught up with aspiring bodybuilder Alexander Kosztowny to talk fitness, food, and life as a vegan body-builder.

Were you into sports at school?

No. Growing up, I was a heavy-set kid, and not very active at all. In school, I was very academic, and focused mainly on my studies rather than athletics. I didn’t dread gym class, and always worked hard and enjoyed certain sports like tennis and volleyball, but the lack of variety of activities in gym class limited my view on the variety of types of activities out there. If I’d tried a weight lifting class, or yoga, or karate, my attitude may have changed earlier in life. My sister was always active, but I come from a family who are not very big on physical activity or sports. Of course, like most, I wish I’d started earlier, but better late than never.

Can you remember what your first experience of a gym was?

I lost a lot of weight in high school with the onset of puberty, and with the gaining knowledge of nutrition, portion control, and cardiovascular activity. When I went to college, I found myself putting a lot of the weight back on, and knew I had to prevent that. I joined a gym, and hired a personal trainer for the first time to help me get back on track.

I absolutely fell in love with pumping iron. I was able to coordinate working out into being a part of my schedule, as opposed to limiting it only to ‘when I have time’ and having a trainer not only motivated me and taught me technique, but also kept me accountable for my actions. He helped me with adding strength while paying attention to form, and meal planning, The excess weight fell off, and I became addicted.

Now I’m in the gym every day, pushing my body and transforming both my health, my appearance, and my outlook.

When did you decide to get serious about your fitness and bodybuilding?

About four years ago. But I’ve only been super-serious for about a year, and I’ve only been extremely strict in terms of diet for about six months. I’m still a beginner.

What’s your aspiration as a bodybuilder?

To get huge. That’s it.

As someone who’s plant-based, I’d also like to show others what’s possible on a non-traditional diet. That there are other forms of nutrition and protein, and you can build muscle, look great, and have tons of energy without harm.

What’s the difference between your body as it is now and the way that you want your body to look?

I’d still call my self thick or chubby-muscular. The interesting thing about bodybuilding is that there never really is an end goal. You just lift and grow bigger and you’re never quite big or strong enough. I’m just trying to push myself as far as I possibly can. It’s exciting to see the changes you can make that way.

What’s your work-out regime like?

I’m in the gym six or seven times a week. This seems excessive to some people, and I know others who only go three or four times a week, and that works for them. For me, the gym is therapeutic and a stress reliever, as well as a hobby.

I usually spend about one hour doing weight lifting — machines and free weights — and then I wrap up with about 35 minutes of cardio. I focus on one body part per day. It’s a traditional bodybuilding split, so muscles have a chance to rest. This routine works for me — I know some people have luck doing high-intensity, full body workouts, but I like the focus of working each muscle group in isolation.

Do you have a work-out buddy?

Not currently, but I’ve always enjoyed it when I do. It really is vital for really heavy spotting, and the dependability is nice if they’re as motivated as you. If anyone is in Los Angeles and wants to train with me, hit me up!

How important is controlling your diet?

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Controlling diet is extremely important. It makes or breaks your progress in the gym. if you lift but don’t eat right, you won’t get anywhere. I’ve seen this happen both for myself and others. When I finally got on the right meal plan, the results happened in no time at all — abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym.

I eat about five times a day, and I’m plant-based, just like Tom Brady. My diet consists of lots of legumes, lentils, tofu, peas, broccoli, peanut butter, protein shakes, and other natural, nutrient-rich foods that contain protein without resorting to animal products.

Besides the ethical and environmental sides of going vegan, I find I have more energy, need less time to recover, and am less sore, as well as having clearer skin. I count my macros — calories, carbs, proteins, and fats — and eat the same foods every day to stay on track. I’ve pretty much eliminated bread, gluten, alcohol, refined sugars, and beverages besides water from my diet, except for special occasions. I’m super-strict, but do let myself enjoy food.

Are your friends and family supportive of your bodybuilding aspirations?

For the most part. They’re always impressed at my progress and dedication, but I need a lot of willpower when I have a family who loves to cook, bake, and tempt me with treats. That’s why having a partner or workout buddy who is on a similar plan is helpful, if you’re lucky enough to find one. It keeps you on track.

Are you competing?

Nope, and no plans to either. But that may change as I grow bigger.

What are some of your priorities for the months ahead?

I’m currently in the best shape I’ve ever been in, so I want to just keep on progressing. It’s a slow process, and takes a lot of time, so you have to be patient.

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