We recently got the chance to ask VIP Trainer Neil Russell some of the most common health and fitness questions, but before we get to what we had to say here is a little brief about Neil and his work;
"Neil Russell is one of the most highly qualified, experienced and sought after trainers in Sydney, he has trained Hollywood celebrities, models, top athletes, high profile corporate and widely recognized brand names. Celebrity Clients Include: Russell Crowe, Courtney Eaton, Jules Lund, Laura Dundovic, Maz Compton & Roxy Jacenko"
We asked Neil a few questions and here is what he had to say....
What is your fitness philosophy?
My fitness philosophy is based upon understanding the goals of my clients and why they are looking to achieve that goal, then setting out to actualise them. Using their goals I examine what the science has proven to work and create programs accordingly. I don’t restrict myself to one school of thought on how you “should” or “shouldn’t” exercise or train, but rather gather exercise techniques from a wide variety training modalities (be it Pilates style exercise rehabilitation exercise right through to power and olympic lifting) to optimise my clients well being, body shape and performance. It is all about what is appropriate for their goals, fitness levels, health, posture, muscle activation, injuries and personality. I believe limiting yourself to one modality of training above all others reduces the opportunity to achieve success for the most important person, the client! As a trainer ego needs to be removed from training, it’s not about you, you are merely there to help guide your clients on their journey to reach their goals.
The best healthy go to snack that doesn’t break the rules…
I’m not huge on snacks, mainly because I think it’s unfortunately where a lot of people go wrong with their nutrition, they create a habit and then go for that high sugar option that they don’t really need based on the habit of snacking. Unless you are performing large volumes of training your 3 (maybe 4) main meals should get you through the day, provided that are rich in the foods your body needs. However most people like to snack, so if you are going to snack home made protein balls, there’s a ton of different ways you can make them with no added sugar and rich in the nutrients that the body needs.
The exercise that you think is most effective…
Different exercises will achieve different results i.e. if you want to develop your running, then running is the most effective exercise, especially when compared to say bench press which doesn’t help running performance at all. For general conditioning however, I’d have to say the Squat and Press is a great exercise to utilise, nothing drives metabolism like full body multi-joint exercises and a persons ability to perform a squat and press with good technique is a great measure of posture, stability and range of motion. Also it can be used in any workout ranging from body shaping and general fitness to elite sports performance. In general, the most effective exercise is the one that achieve the specific results that you are after.
Your top 3 can’t live without’ health foods ?
Berries - high in antioxidants, and packaged in a form that your body can utilise. Meats - I’m talking fish, chicken, beef, pork…you should eat them for health and performance! Meat has been a part of the human diet since we came into being. Tea - you can choose different tea’s for different reasons; they can help you sleep, wake up, calm down, concentrate and some are suggested to enhance metabolic response (but only minimally). Choose wisely.
It goes without saying that veggies are super important too, I just wanted to throw a couple of different ones in there.
The best way to stay motivated
Have a goal that you really want to achieve, know what you have to do to achieve it and most importantly know why you want it so bad. That’s what will make you show up when you don’t feel like it and what makes you push that little bit harder when you feel like you have nothing left. The end result/new, will motivate you and hopefully you will begin to enjoy the journey.
There is a lot of expensive equipment out there, what is your favourite training apparatus (whether small or large) and why?
If you are looking for the basic set up, you cant go wrong with Dumbbells, yep good old dumbbells. With dumbbells you can target every muscle group, add weight to body weight exercises, they can replace almost any kettle bell or barbell exercise, they force you to stabilise and recruit evenly and for a basic set they are reasonably cheap. For a really basic home set up that does it all get some dumbbells, an exercise ball and some resistance bands(also great for travel), then you are set for pretty much every exercise that is available.
The TRX suspension training system is a great piece of equipment too.
3 weight loss exercise myths
1. The fat burning zone- Tell me no one still utilises this in their training, it is completely antiquated, if you are looking to lose weight your exercise should consist of high intensity interval training(HIIT), high intensity training and resistance training. The reason that this myth exists is that the body uses a higher percentage of fat at lower intensity exercises, but to put it simply 100% of 200 calories is much less than 50% of 600 calories, plus throw in the metabolic recovery and adaptations from HIIT and resistance training and suddenly you will realise that low intensity training is a waste of time if reducing body fat is the goal. If you are completely unfit or have a medical condition, then start safely with low to moderate intensity exercise and basic resistance training and then build it up slowly. The focus should remain on optimising diet for most people when it comes to weight loss.
2. “Do what I do /a celebrity does and you will look like me / them” - Instagram is full of people posing or posts of celebrities who have amazing bodies, which is great for them. However, we all have different body shapes and types, so we may never look like the person(or “muse”) who is pictured. We should look to do the best with the body type that we have, get strong, fit and healthy, whilst reducing body fat percentage to the healthy range.
3. All the other ones- research the science based literature, you should want to know what is best for you, take the time to empower yourself. Basically, if it is a crazy shortcut then it’s probably a myth, if it is based around what just one person does it is probably a myth, if the results are amazingly unrealistic there is a low chance that you will see them yourself and if you do it could be at the detriment of your health. If you are going to get help, seek the best advice from people who are well educated and know how to research for themselves, I would strongly recommend a university qualified exercise professional who understands the process of reviewing relevant literature and deciphering what is specific to your needs, rather than accepting the first thing that is presented to them.
The importance of a healthy, balanced and nutritional diet...
It’s the be all and end all really, our body constantly renews itself at a cellular level. To do this without a reduction in the quality of the cells reproduced we need the full spectrum of nutrients and fuels that the body uses for this, or ultimately our health and condition fades. If you are following an “insert any diet name here” diet, then you are probably doing yourself a disservice. You will notice that most diets are restricted (especially food group restrictive), this will leave you with an inadequate intake of things that the body needs to maintain good health. Focus should be placed upon eating a wide variety of “whole-foods” to ensure that you don’t miss out on key macro and micro nutrients, whilst reducing the intake of refined sugars. Combine this with portion control and you pretty much have it covered. Ask yourself “what is my body potentially missing out on?” next time you examine your nutritional intake.