Toning series, pt. 1: the keys to looking toned | PATRICK HAMMES

Toning series, pt. 1: the keys to looking toned | PATRICK HAMMES
Oct 15, 2018
by ASP Admin

Toning series, pt. 1: the keys to looking toned

Summer’s around the corner and many of you (mainly the ladies, but this applies to guys too) have been asking about getting the often-sought-after ‘toned’ look. Now, before we begin it’s important to understand what ‘toned’ or ‘toning’ means, because it’s one of those vague words that gets thrown around a lot but has no real meaning. Ask most people what they mean by ‘getting toned’ and the general response is “errr, like… you know? Shoulders… with… the shape of shoulders? And… legs and stuff? And… two ‘V’ lines on the side of the stomach, whatever that is. And… all the abs and a firm butt!” 

Luckily, we know what people mean when they say “I want to get toned”. Generally, it means having shapely arms and legs, sculpted shoulders, a tight tummy and a peachy booty! For many, it’s that ‘beach body’ look. It can also encompass having a body that looks fit and physically capable. 

So, how is this look achieved? Well, two things:

  1. Having adequate muscle to provide shape (this is VERY important, and no, you won’t look bulky), and
  2. having low enough body fat to show off the shape of the muscle.

Let’s unpack these two points. Firstly, you can be slim and skinny and have very low muscle mass. This is what many call ‘skinny fat’. It’s hard to achieve a toned look if muscle mass is low. The reason for this is because muscle provides the shape and curves and stays in place; it creates that ‘fit’ and ‘tight’ look. Fat, on the other hand, tends to hang where it’s placed and is dictated by movement and gravity. Long story short, muscle is key.

This brings us to the second point: getting body fat low enough to show off the shape of the muscle. If body fat is up, then all those toned muscles will be hiding away. The (other) key is to get leaner (reduce body fat). On the plus side, the more muscle you have, the easier it is to achieve and maintain long term fat loss because more muscle means you burn more calories throughout the day from doing nothing at all. Double win!

Now you might be thinking “if I put on muscle, won’t I get bulky?”. Short answer: no. This belief has held back countless women from achieving their physical goals in an effective manner, if at all. To put things in perspective, it is very difficult for males to put on sizeable muscle to look jacked and beefy; it often takes years and years of hard work, dedication and, most importantly, consistency. It’s even harder for females because of having significantly less testosterone levels, which is a major hormone in muscle development. When we train our females for bikini or fitness model competitions we train them with weights… heavy weights. And they turn out slim and toned, not bulky. I will, however, have another post up about some of the factors that create a ‘bulky’ body, for those who are curious.   

So, there you have it, the two things required to look toned. Muscle is your friend, so don’t be afraid of it! In the next segment of this toning series we’ll be looking at what sort of training is most effective for achieving that look!

Patrick H


Mar 20, 2018
by ASP Admin

Anyone who’s tried this lunge variation will probably attest to the deep burn in the VMOs that accumulates through the set … and I love it!

The duck lunge, appropriately named, is a one of my go-to lunge movements because this exercise emphasises several training attributes other lunge variations may not:

1) Having to keep my torso upright through the movement means reinforcing ankle, calf and hip flexors flexibility as well as mobility strength. This builds me up for a safe and strong deep squatting position.

2) The close stance in my movement also emphasises lumbo-pelvic stability and rhythm. While this should be innate, given how babies develop their walking and running patterns, our hip movements nowadays often tend to be disrupted and made faulty due to poor habits from our current activities (or rather lack of current activity).

3) The emphasis on just the deep bottom ranges of the lunge is crucial in the development of the muscles and tendons that stabilise the knee, especially the lower fibres of the VMO.

This is a more advanced exercise. If you’re thinking of giving this a go today, begin just with bodyweight, keeping upright posture and focusing on a smooth motion through the exercise.

Benjamin Siong
Founder & Strength Coach

Contact us today at or call (03) 9038 8008 to book a consult with one of our trainers!

Hip Hinge: The Fundamental Movement | GEORGE MENELAOU

Hip Hinge: The Fundamental Movement | GEORGE MENELAOU
Mar 13, 2018
by ASP Admin

7 MAIN MOVEMENTS required per week to round out your program in ALL the fundamental movements of life.
1. Hinge
2. Squat
3. Lunge
4. Push
5. Pull
6. Carry
7. Gait

The Hip Hinge or Hinge Movement is a fundamental movement pattern involved in flexion and extension of the hip, this involves what we call the “Posterior Chain” muscles to act in unison in order to extend the hip. The muscles that are involved in a Hip Hinge, though not limited to this, are the erector spinae, lattissimus dorsi, trapezius muscles, quadratus lomborum, glute muscles, hamstring muscles, calves, rear deltoids, and rotator cuff. 

– Clean Grip BB Deadlift
– Snatch Grip BB Deadlift
– Sumo BB Deadlift
– Romanian Barbell Deadlift
– Deficit Deadlifts
– Rack Pulls
– Block Deadlifts
– Chain Deadlifts
– Resistance Band Deadlifts

– Deadlift Isometrics
– Sumo Stance Romanian Barbell Deadlift
– Romanian Dumbbell Deadlift
– Hex Bar Deadlifts
– Good Mornings
– Back Extensions
– Reverse Hypers
– Snatch Variations
– Clean Variations
– Kettlebell Swings

Just look at all of these exercises variations! These can all be easily manipulated with things like tempo, pauses, range adjustments, and 1 and 1/2 or 1 and 1/4 reps. A Bodybuilding Deadlift is very different to a Weightlifting Deadlift and THAT is also very different to a Powerlifting Deadlift.

The position for the first 3 deadlifts varies depending on a person’s goal, program, size, and levers. This will dictate start, mid and end position. How these exercises are used in programs is dependent on the client and their needs. Are they hypertrophy based, performance based or strength based?

a) It taxes the nervous system more than any other movement
b) It is normally done poorly due to weakness usually through hamstring muscles
c) Unlocking your hip flexors, activating your glutes and mobilising your spine will improve your lifts

Get to work!

Is going all in stopping your results? | PATRICK HAMMES

Is going all in stopping your results? | PATRICK HAMMES
Mar 4, 2018
by ASP Admin

When it comes to striving for a health, fitness or lifestyle goal, there’s one type of mindset that consistently stops people from achieving what they want: the all or nothing mindset. As the name suggests, you have two options: 1) you go all out and do everything you’re supposed to do, or 2) you don’t do any of it. There’s no grey area. Before I continue I want to say that sometimes, an all or nothing mindset can be beneficial. For example, if you’re an athlete or fitness competitor preparing for a competition you may need to go all out for a short period of time. Or, you may have an event (e.g. reunion, wedding, Stereosonic) and being stricter on your goals is necessary. But for the person looking for long term, sustainable health, and being happy with their body, then all or nothing thinking can keep you stuck where you don’t want to be.

All or nothing thinkers tend to pile on their to-do list and go 100% all out and remain 100% perfect for the entire duration. They will overhaul their entire diets, their routine, hit the gym X number of days a week, and make sure that this plan is executed to a T.

But what happens if an all or nothing thinker slips up? Well, for an all or nothing thinker, one slip up usually means game over. For the next few meals, day, or even days, it’s a free for all of pizza, chocolate, crisps, cake and some beverage that’s pretty good at cleaning coins. The thinking behind it is generally “well, I already messed up, so what’s the point?”

For some the thinking gets a little more extreme. I’ve come across individuals who refused to make ANY lifestyle changes (no matter how small) until their life circumstances (work, home life, etc.) allowed them to go all out. Of course, this never happens.

As you can probably imagine, all or nothing thinking has a pretty high failure rate, but only because it sets you up for failure from the start. Firstly, by tackling too many changes, it opens up a lot of room for error. If there’s one thing we know about habits, it’s that they can be extremely difficult to change. One habit alone can be a monumental task that requires long term diligence to break or recreate. Secondly, because all or nothing thinking demands perfection, and because no one can be perfect all the time, eventually you will slip up somewhere. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when, and when it happens it’s usually wrought with feelings of guilt, stress and self-criticism.

In my experience, the people who succeed in the long term are people who understand that it’s not about doing everything perfectly, it’s about doing better. Better doesn’t mean better in a big way (at least not right away); it can mean being better by even the smallest step. For some people, the first step might be ‘get to the gym X number of times a week’. Forget about nutrition at this stage, it’s too much to handle right now. Once they achieve getting to the gym regularly then they can focus on something new. Maybe preparing home cooked dinners 3 times a week, instead of having takeaway. Once they master that, they could step it up to 5 or more nights a week. The point here is that the changes can be small and happen one at a time. There is no change that is too small as long the change is for the better. It is also much easier to succeed with a habit change when the change is small and easily achievable… and it’s empowering when you master the change and move on to a new one.

Probably the most important thing to remember for anyone looking to form healthy nutrition and lifestyle habits is that if you stray from the path once in a while, it’s okay! Focus on getting back on track as quickly as possible. However, if you do find yourself going off track too frequently, then maybe it’s time to re-evaluate the change. Perhaps choose another change or dumb down the current one (e.g. instead of “I will stretch every day” change it to “I will stretch 3 times a week). You’d be surprised, some changes will require other changes along the way. For example, doing more meal prepping may mean having to plan more grocery runs. That’s TWO changes in one!

If you think you’re an all or nothing thinker, it’s important to catch yourself out when you’re doing it. Changing a mindset is not always easy but being aware of how you think and the steps your mind takes can be half the battle won. At the end of the day, the main thing to remember is that perfection doesn’t exist, and trying to strive for it only breeds stress, anxiety and, in some cases, depression. As long as you are striving to do better—step by step—you will always know that you are heading in the right direction.

Patrick Hammes
ASP Coach

Contact us today at or call (03) 9038 8008 to book a consult with one of our trainers!

Top 4 supplements for getting lean | MITCH MCKENZIE

Top 4 supplements for getting lean | MITCH MCKENZIE
Feb 27, 2018
by ASP Admin

One common question I get asked time and time again from friends and clients is which supplement is most important for fat loss and do I really need to supplement if I eat a healthy diet full of protein, fruits and vegetables?

Firstly, it must be understood that supplements are named so due to that fact that they are designed to ‘supplement’ not replace a nutritious diet. This means that you cannot expect a supplement to work effectively if you have not first managed factors such as total calorie intake and macronutrients (i.e you definitely cannot out-supplement a poor diet).

Although the following supplements will assist most of the general population to improve their body composition, the focus should always be primarily on structured eating and a well-designed fat loss training program.

Do you really need to supplement if you follow a healthy diet?

In today’s society, even with a diet full of whole foods, there are still nutrients that we probably lack. This is due to commercial farming methods of animals, fruits, and veg, increased pollution, and poor soil quality which in turn reduces the levels of vitamins and minerals in our food.


Magnesium is a mineral that affects over 300 processes in the body and a deficiency can lead to an array of problems such as poor sleep, metabolic problems and stress.

  • Magnesium reduces the effects of cortisol by boosting the hormone DHEA
  • Magnesium reduces inflammation by boosting the immune system
  • Magnesium has a calming effect on the nervous system. If taken before bed, can improve sleep quality which will enhance recovery
  • Magnesium increases insulin sensitivity which is the key hormone involved in fat loss


Fish oil is an extremely anabolic supplement and is used by the body for many different health benefits. Since this article is strictly focused on fat loss, we will focus on those.

  • High intake of Omega 3s has been studied to show improvements in body composition by turning on fat burning genes in the body and turning off fat storing ones.
  • Omega 3s work to increase testosterone-cortisol ratio in the body which helps fight stress
  • Fish oil has potent anti-inflammatory effects on the body as inflammation is associated with fat gain and obesity.


Research shows that if you have low vitamin D, you will be more likely to be overweight and have less muscle mass.

  • Low Vitamin D levels lead to fat storage and increased inflammation in the body
  • Low Vitamin D levels influence insulin sensitivity in the body which increases risk of not only gaining weight but also risk of diabetes.
  • Research shows that men with adequate levels of vitamin D have higher levels of testosterone


  • Zinc is critical for optimal hormone production, increasing healthy levels of testosterone and growth hormone, which help promote the development of muscle mass
  • Zinc also helps increase the muscle sensitivity to insulin
  • Zinc has super antioxidant effects, protecting the body against free radical damage which causes inflammation

Mitch McKenzie
ASP Coach

Contact us today at or call (03) 9038 8008 to book a consult with one of our trainers!

Why you should never stop learning | KATHERINE GOFF

Why you should never stop learning | KATHERINE GOFF
Feb 22, 2018
by ASP Admin

University and tertiary education is no longer the be all and end all when it comes to being an industry leader. A qualification does not guarantee expertise, and experience is becoming much more valuable across all sectors.

Perhaps you are a personal trainer. You completed the basic courses to become certified and now you take short courses to keep your certification.

Constant learning is key, but more importantly, it’s important to understand who you are learning from, and whether they are teaching you quality content that has seen proven results. Why would you want to learn from a personal trainer or educator who does not walk the walk or has no experience? There are many courses available that are certified, but are you getting your money’s worth? At the end of the day, finding a quality company or educator with a wealth of knowledge and experience is worth the extra research, when you consider the impact on your own training, your business, and your client’s wellbeing.

Perhaps you are a client. You never knew that your personal trainer spends thousands of dollars every year to remain qualified and keep up with current research to ensure your progress and success.

Invest in a personal trainer who will invest in themselves. A winning bodybuilding competitor is not always going to know more or know how to apply knowledge more. Having said that, it is important to find someone who has applied and understands their own training methods. When finding someone who you trust with your health and fitness goals, you should be confident that they have had results with their clients and want the same for you. It may also be worthwhile educating yourself so that you have a solid foundation to keep you on track. There are plenty of courses available for the general population, and may even give you a foot in the door of the fitness industry…

Entry level personal training courses teach basic fitness instruction. If you want to go beyond and have a deeper understanding, studying exercise, nutrition, psychology, health, and business from industry leaders is key. If you are looking for courses in 2018, Australian Strength Performance has released the dates for the next few months of courses worldwide, and we are excited to be speaking at many conferences this year. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram for updates!

Katherine Goff
Marketing & Content Manager

Contact us today at or call us at (03) 9038 8008 to book a consult with one of our trainers!

5 Healthy Eating Guidelines For Beginners | SHARON LEE

5 Healthy Eating Guidelines For Beginners | SHARON LEE

Feb 11, 2018
by ASP Admin



When it comes to getting optimal results for yourself or for clients, specificity to training and nutrition always breeds the best results. That is, training and nutrition should always be specific to the person. But with everyone being their own individual person with individual needs it can be confusing to know what will work for one person and not another person. How many carbs can you have? Do you carb cycle? Will intermittent fasting work for you or will it mess up your hormones? What about if it fits your macros (IIFYM)? What macro portions should you have? Will taking fish oil help you lose fat like it did for person X?

You can ask a hundred questions and depending on what your goals are, there can be a hundred questions that you could look at. A professional athlete or a physique competitor will often need an expert to give them nutrition and lifestyle advice, but for most people, nutrition doesn’t need to be overly complicated. At the end of the day, nutrition is often quite simple for most people; it’s the daily habits and routines that complicate things.

Having said that, I do understand that not everyone aims to compete in a physique competition or join a sporting event. Some of you may have just decided to start your healthy lifestyle and are simply looking to hit the gym and clean up your food.

If you are a beginner just hopping on the fitness wagon and aren’t too sure where to start your nutrition, here are 5 healthy eating guidelines you can follow to make sure all your hard work in the gym pays off.

1. Don’t get caught up in what worked for someone else.

The first thing you should understand when it comes to healthy eating, is that no one diet is going to work for everyone. The diet that the fitness model on Instagram model raved about for months may not work for you. Track your diet and then make changes based on what works and what doesn’t work. Track and experiment until you find something that works for YOU.

2. Eat whole, natural foods.

Whether or not you believe in eating meat, dairy or grains, your diet needs to revolve around whole, natural foods. The more local and organically produced you eat, the better (but not completely necessary, cost can be a factor). Cut out processed food and foods with a hundred different ingredients that you can’t even pronounce. Cook as much as you can with whole foods.

3. Don’t fall for labels.

Just because something says “All-Natural,” “Low Fat,” or “Gluten-Free,” doesn’t mean it is healthy or good for you. Do not fall for labels that are just meant to sell you a product. Stick with whole, natural foods as much as you can and read the ingredient list to determine for yourself if something is healthy.

4. Keep it simple!

All too often we overcomplicate our diets. We get stuck on tons of small details when we don’t even have the main pillars of our diet set. Start with the basics. Then worry about the details. When we get bogged down in the details, we get overwhelmed and generally give up on our diet. Pick out a few healthy foods you enjoy and build your diet around them. Pick out recipes around these foods. Try to pick recipes that require many of the same ingredients so your grocery list is short and simple. Keep it simple but also learn to add in a little variety every once in a while to prevent you from falling into a rut with your diet.

5. Preparation is key.

When we aren’t prepared, we give ourselves an excuse to deviate from what we know we SHOULD be doing. Meal prep and planning are extremely important especially when starting a new healthy diet. The easiest way to be prepared is to cook meals that make more than one serving so that you have leftovers for later that week. Preparation is also key for when you travel and even plan to eat out. Decide ahead of time how you are going to eat. Are you going to “cheat?” Or are you going to stick to your diet? If you make up your mind ahead of time, you will have an easier time not deviating from your plan. A great way to prep for trips or meals out with friends is to look at the menus or at least know what your basic healthy options are when you dine out. The more you can prepare yourself for different situations, the better off you will be. Being happy with your decision is also key even if you aren’t completely prepared. If you do end up cheating, don’t regret it. Enjoy and get right back on track the next meal!


Sharon Lee
Operations Manager


Contact us today at or call us at (03) 9038 8008 to book in a consult with one of our trainers!

Grip: Pinch Grip Reverse Curls | BEN SIONG

Grip: Pinch Grip Reverse Curls | BEN SIONG

Feb 5 , 2018 
by ASP Admin


I love my grip toys. For one, grip strength is one of the most underrated factors in elbow and shoulder stability and strength, and is often what limits our pressing and pulling progress. Secondly, a set of well-developed guns can only be built on the foundation of strong forearms.

So, to cap off a session, I squeezed a few of these pinch grip reverse curls into my routine. The focus here was on keeping an isometric contraction in wrist pronation while taxing the brachioradialis in a reverse curl.

The majority of the exercises focusing on bicep growth stresses the supinated position – of course, given that the biceps brachii is a strong supinator. However, a lack of wrist loading in the pronated position will lead to muscular imbalances, weakness and eventual pain in the elbow joint, that may radiate to the shoulders and neck.

This simple exercise is a great way to balance out the forearms and promote bicep growth. By utilising a pinch grip on a dumbbell in a reverse curl, I’m also overloading the weakest point on strength curve of the biceps and exposing my nervous system to a different stimulus – doubling as a plateau breaker. Win-win!

Benjamin Siong
Founder and Master Strength Coach



Contact us today at or call us at (03) 90388008 to book in a consult with one of our trainers!



Aug 15 , 2017 
by ASP Admin



Director Ben recently competed in the WBFF Australia Sydney 2017 show and we are extremely proud of his journey! Here’s two videos to highlight part of his journey pre comp and post comp! Enjoy! 🙂



Contact us today at or call us at (03) 90388008 to book in a consult with one of our trainers!

5 Winter Essentials to Stacking on Lean Mass | BEN SIONG

5 Winter Essentials to Stacking on Lean Mass | BEN SIONG

July 19 , 2017 
by ASP Admin



5 Winter Essentials to Stacking on Lean Mass

It’s that time of the year again where gym warriors start their annual ritual of ‘bulking up’.  With little opportunity to display the lean, chiseled six-pack forged over summer, winter has become a popular season for stacking on mass, building strength and a seemingly good excuse to be more relaxed with the diet. However, this ideal is often plagued with multiple challenges. Statistics have shown that the colder, gloomy months also promote a loss of workout motivation, an over-indulgence in carbohydrates, alcohol and comfort foods, as well as an increased likelihood of falling sick.

As such, keeping on top of your game over winter is crucial. Often, this can mean more than just working out and increasing your overall macronutrient intake. Because of the way foods are grown, manufactured and packaged nowadays, there is a loss of vital micronutrients, like vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, that play a pivotal role in our muscular development and optimal health. The lack of these dietary essentials can stagnate your muscle-building efforts in the gym and set-you back for the upcoming summer.

So, if you are looking to avoid muscle-building plateaus and maximize your gains in the coming months, you will need to ensure that your diet continues to include a good balance of essential nutrients. Here are 5 key essentials that are guaranteed to help you build lean mass, optimize fat burn and keep you motivated in the weight room.



Vitamin D

This vitamin has been identified to have receptor sites within all of the body’s cells, making it crucial for life itself. In addition, research has also shown that supplementing your diet with vitamin D can help increase the size and strength of type 2 muscle fibers (these are fast-twitched muscle fibers most prone to growth), boost testosterone levels in men and maximize the body’s ability to build lean muscle mass. Vitamin D additionally helps in the elevation of mood, which is why we feel so much more motivated to train when it’s nice and sunny outside.

As Vitamin D is produced by the body’s response to direct sunlight, it’s more than likely that we will not produce enough of this vitamin throughout the winter moths. Ensure your levels are topped up and maintained by consuming a vitamin D supplement, two to three times per week and in larger doses.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant, and has been shown to boost immune health, a factor that is directly correlated to one’s ability to build muscle. What’s more, by adding a minimum of 2 grams of vitamin C to your post workout shake, you can effectively reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) and aid muscle recovery. Numerous studies have also linked supplementation of vitamin C to increased levels of testosterone production, making it not just an anti-catabolic, but also an anabolic agent.


It is estimated that about 70% of our neurotransmitters are manufactured within our gut. From Serotonin, which regulates our mood, appetite and sexual function, to Neuropeptide Y, which influences our food choices and overall motivation, our gut is central to our thoughts, feelings and behaviours. By maintaining optimal gut function with a good, resistant probiotic, we are able to facilitate effective absorption of nutrients for muscle growth, as well as maintain a high level of motivation for training.


Many of us do not consume enough zinc, especially from our diets. Zinc has a pivotal role to play in effective digestion and nutrient absorption. It also greatly influences the production of testosterone, a primary muscle-building hormone. Furthermore, zinc also acts as a primary aromatase agent, preventing free testosterone from converting into estrogen, a female hormone, within the body.


Carnitine is responsible for transporting fat into the cell to be used by the mitochondria (energy producing centres of the cell) in the production of energy. The increase of muscle carnitine levels has been shown to decrease visceral belly fat, improve performance by clearing lactate levels and maximize the body’s anabolic processes. It also helps with the body’s ability to handle sugar, and can thus acts as a buffer to the sugar spikes caused by those heavy carb meals over winter.

Acetyl-L carnitine, among other forms of carnitine, is the only form of carnitine to cross the blood-brain barrier and is best used as a brain energiser and mood elevator.

A carnitine supplement is best consumed pre-workout, and works best when it contains at least two different forms of carnitine so as to ensure optimal absorption and utilization by the body. Additionally, if you are aiming to fat burn, take in equal proportions of carnitine with an omega-3 oil, like a high quality fish oil.


Written by

Benjamin Siong

Founder and Master Strength Coach

Australian Strength Performance


Contact us today at or call us at (03) 90388008 to book in a consult with one of our trainers!


Sissy Squats | BEN SIONG

Sissy Squats | BEN SIONG

July 19 , 2017 
by ASP Admin





The sissy squat is a great tool to zone in on VMO development, aka, the tear drop muscle that serves as a critical stabiliser for knee extension, overall knee capsule stability and speed development.

Here Director Ben is using the sissy squat as a finisher to his leg routine. Trust us, at the end of the session, just body weight itself is more than enough!

To ensure you exhaust all your fibres maximally, start by leaning your torso backwards to increase the loading on the eccentric movement. Once exhausted, immediately follow that with a ‘drop-set’ with more reps, now with your body closer to the pivot point, thus making the exercise easier.
This mechanical advantage technique effectively allows you to use your body position to change the loading without having to change the actual weight used 👌🏼💪🏻.

Contact us today at or call us at (03) 90388008 to book in a consult with one of our trainers!


Paused Deadlifts | SHERYL LEE

Paused Deadlifts | SHERYL LEE

July 19 , 2017 
by ASP Admin






Paused Deadlifts – 120kg x 3.


Few things in life are more distressing than a long insufferable strength plateau. These Paused Deadlifts are currently one of Coach Sheryl favourite deadlift assistance exercises.\

She performed these in a descending rep scheme – 7 7 5 5 3 3. Sheryl was a bit more conservative with the weights here. The focus, instead, was on maintaining perfect positioning in the pause – hard quasi-isometric lat contraction and a nice neutral spine. What was meant to be a full 1-sec pause was more a 0.6 – time goes a lot quicker in our head sometimes.

Effectively, this increases the time under tension at your weakest point in the lift, and hence forces you to stay tight to control the weight.

Give these a go! You’ll find that once you slap the weight back on the bar, your technique on regular deadlifts will feel much crisper 👌


Contact us today at or call us at (03) 90388008 to book in a consult with one of our trainers!

Tips to Improve Your Sleep | BRAYDON CADD

Tips to Improve Your Sleep | BRAYDON CADD

July 19 , 2017 
by ASP Admin



Tips to Improve Your Sleep





Feeling  stressed?

How’s your sleep?

Do you even relax bro?

Your priorities are wrong.


If you have limited money/time/effort supplements, put invest in your recovery.
Training hard and performing day in and day out is easy when you feel good.


Here’s a few of my favs in constant rotation:


– Magnesium, fixes everything. Fact. I personally take  Bioceuticals Muscleze and GABAmag from Trilogy Nutrition.

– Melatonin; darkness signaler in the body, also helps to reset/force adaptations in body clock. Has been shown to have some links to depression in people who are deficient in it.

– Inositol: a carb which functions as a powerful adaptogen, meaning it’s very effective and returning the body to baseline. Whether that mean turning down arousal or helping bump up energy! Also, some studies have shown Inositol to be as good, or better than both placebos and even as anti-depressants!

-Bonus points: As always, pro and pre biotics, because gut health is everything!

Also, try downloading flux on you laptop, or turning on the night mode on your phone before bed. It’s not as good as no electronic devices, but everything helps!

Remember, sleep is everything everyone!



Contact us today at or call us at (03) 90388008 to book in a consult with one of our trainers!

Your choices, your mistakes, your lessons- Your Growth | SHARON LEE

Your choices, Your mistakes, Your lessons- Your Growth | SHARON LEE

July 10 , 2017 
by ASP Admin



Your choices, Your mistakes, Your lessons- Your Growth



Have you ever woken up in the morning questioning yourself and your capabilities? Why do you what you do? Are you good enough? Do you have what it takes to achieve your goals?


You made a mistake or you tripped up in work, life, or love. You’ve said the wrong thing, or didn’t come through with your end of the bargain.


You think, how did I let that happen? I can’t believe I did that, again. If only I could turn back time and undo them.



These aren’t the greatest feelings, it’s true. However, we live our lives in irony. Though we dislike how we feel having just tripped up, we continue to beat ourselves up way after the fact.


We cause our own suffering. Furthermore, we seem to forget that when we make mistakes, we grow. An atmosphere of growth is integral to happiness. So create happiness by seeing mistakes as true growth opportunities.


Although we have been told to live in the moment, I say we are not just living the present moment.


We are very much our past experiences and choices as well. Every choices we made leads us to who we are today and we must learn to use our past mistakes to yield a shiny new perspective and, in turn, create a new outcome. If we allow them, our mistakes can fuel our awareness. In helping us decide how to act and react in a fresh and fruitful way, they can bring us closer to happiness and further away from causing our own suffering.


If you are struggling today and you feel like made a mistake in life just remember, you are wiser today than yesterday. Though you might feel bad because you’re encountering the same or similar problem, this time it’s with a different view and varied perspective.


Accept where you are. You will immediately suffer less. Remember this is merely one moment in time. It only defines you and your worth if you choose to make it a defining moment.

Ask yourself, how can I respond from this higher place instead of causing myself pain? What can I do differently to grow from this? Remind yourself as many times as needed that you have a view. You hold wisdom. You have the power to turn your life around and make your dreams a reality.


Think it. Say it. Act on it. Let it create your new character.


Best regards,

Sharon Lee

Contact us today at or call us at (03) 90388008 to book in a consult with one of our trainers!


July 7 , 2017 
by ASP Admin





Study by Dr. Rhonda Patrick on heat conditioning from the sauna to gain muscle.




Endurance Enhancements

1. Increase blood flow to muscles

2. Increase blood flow to the heart

3. Allows body to regulate heat and stay cooler through sweat

4. Improve Endurance

5. Increase in Plasma Volume and increase in RBC count.


Increase Muscle Mass through 3 factors


1.Induction of Heat Shock Proteins

– Repair Damaged Proteins

– Present Oxidative Stress

– Increase Glutathione Production

– Prevent degradation of Proteins

– Increase net Protein Synthesis

– Decrease in Muscle Atrophy

2. Induction of Growth Hormone

– 2 x 20mins Sauna sessions at (176°F) boosts GH levels by 2-Fold

– 2 x 1hr Sauna session over 3 days (176°F) boosts GH levels by 16-Fold

Improving Insulin Sensitivity

– Decrease in Insulin Levels

– Improve Insulin Sensitivity

– Increase in Glucose (Glut-4) transporters in skeletal muscle.



– Increase Norepinephrine, which improves attention and focus

– Increases Prolactin, which caused the brain to function faster

– Increases Brain Drive Neutropic Factor (BDNF) increase neurogenesis (growing new brain cells) and enhances learning/memory.

Contact us today at or call us at (03) 90388008 to book in a consult with one of our trainers!


Jun 21, 2017 
by ASP Admin



Squatting and Lunges with knees past toes?

If your trainer tells you not to let your knees travel past your toes when squatting or lunging ask them why… Common answers being it is ‘bad for the knees’.


  • The highest compressive force on the knee is actually at 90 degree of flexion when squatting to parallel.


  • When you keep the knees behind toes, the greater the flexion at the hip leading to more stress at the low back (ie bending foward)


  • The knee travels foward past the toe every time you walk up/down stairs.


  • In Australia we sit down all day at work all day and sit down to 💩rather than squatting like in most asian countries which limits our normal Range of movement or ability to squat all the way down


  • Olympic weightlifters push their knees over their toe in every lift and have one of the lowest rate of knee injuries. * With the exception of some injuires and variations of powerlifting style squatting.

(This video shows a 1 1/4 style walking lunge in where the knee travel forward each rep & the hamstring contacts the calf placing more stress on the Vastus Medialis)

Contact us today at or call us at (03) 90388008 to book in a consult with one of our trainers!


Jun 21, 2014
by ASP Admin

In my book progress is progress no matter how big or small. Chris a father of two, we embarked on a decision that being super shredded was not a priority, getting healthier, looking and feeling better and getter stronger was No. 1 on the list but most of all keeping up with his kids after a long day of work as a Carpenter.


So what we did:

1) Improve Gut Health by introducing Kefir, Super Greens, removing Milk, removing high Insulin Loading Carbs

2) Introduce more whole protein sources, eggs, chicken, fish, Kangaroo, fish like Salmon, barramundi, rockling.

3) Upper Fibrous carbs such as Broccoli, Spinach, Kale, Cauliflower

4) Reduce Starchy carbs such as Pasta, white rice, breads

5) Introduce more Fats such as butter, Olive Oil, nuts, fish

6) Create a better understanding of sleep and its benefits and improve from 5-6 hours to 6-7 hours of sleep

All this is aimed at improving on a lifestyle that is already overly stressed by making small changes on a weekly basis.

Training for Conditioning and Strength was a key factor to training.

Phase 1 we improve muscular imbalances

Phase 2 aim for Fat Loss and Hypertrophy

Phase 3 was a base introduction into stricter Hypertrophy

Phase 4 aim was Functional Hypertrophy to get stronger

Something that is quite common is parents not having the energy to keep up with their young and energetic children. At @trainasp we aim to improve somebody’s quality of life in some way whether it’s sleep, gut health, nutrition, strength, fat loss, gaining muscle, all geared to improving someone’s lifestyle.

A minimum of 2 but a maximum of 3 training sessions were performed every week over this period. Strength went up tremendously, the ability to consciously activate muscles improved, and Chris got leaner as well. By the end he deadlifted over 100kgs as well. Fantastic work mate!



April 24, 2014
by ASP Admin

What are the key factors we look at during training and program writing when looking at Muscle Hypertrophy (what causes muscle to grow)?

As always with these topics they are likely to generate questions and queries, so please feel free to Contact Us or post your questions, feedback, and experiences on our Facebook Page.

1. Mechanical Tension

It is unclear at what percentage of your 1RM you should work with in order to maximise muscle growth but it is best to work with different loads, as an example 85% of 1RM, or 70% of 1RM. It can vary and should always change every month. Time under tension also comes into this factor as you want to stimulate different fast and slow twitch muscle fibres for maximal growth.

2. Metabolic Stress

Is the cause of Metabolite build up normally due to mid to high rep exercises as your body gets into the breakdown of glucose for fuel. Metabolic stress can drive Hypertrophy and drives great Fibre recruitment and cell swelling.

3.Muscle Tear/Damage

Micro tears caused by muscle damage due to the stretch position and full range of motion.

These are factors of training, mechanical tension and TUT determines rep ranges, outside of training we can look to Nutrition and sleep for muscle growth.

Strength such as Powerlifting, speed strength such as Weightlifting and Functional Hypertrophy training are great ways of strengthening your body to give you the ability to put on muscle when getting back to Hypertrophy ranges.


November 11, 2015
by ASP Admin

Olympic weightlifting is both a dynamic and explosive sport. Many athletes perform Olympic weightlifting movements to become better in their respective profession. One of the limiting factors in completing one of the two lifts comprising of the snatch and the clean and jerk is upper body strength. If the bar is dropping behind you or you fail to lock out your arms working on your overhead presses would benefit you greatly and remove any faults in your technique. Here are 4 lifts to improve your shoulders, triceps, and stabilising muscles such as the rotator cuff, traps and the lats in order to lock out these enormous weights day in and day out.



This is a basic exercise and a must for programming when getting started in Olympic weightlifting.Stand with the barbell in your front squat position or jerk position (usually outside shoulder width). Press the bar straight up using only your arms, once it passes your head lock your arms out and reach full extension to resemble the end of the jerk position before lowering the bar for the next rep. Note that your head should push back at the start of the lift and then push forward at the end of the lift in order to press the bar in a straight line.

Perform this exercise using a 4-0-1-0 tempo and focus on your lockout, increasing strength and control of this exercise will yield greater lockout strength when trying to complete the Jerk. This exercise can also be done behind the neck, ensure you have mobility in the shoulder before perform the exercise this way.


This is a basic exercise for strengthening your overhead position in the snatch.Stand with the barbell behind your neck as it would be in a back squat, holding it with a snatch-width grip, the same position you would hold the bar in a snatch deadlift position. Press the bar straight up into the proper snatch overhead position, locking your arms out tightly before lowering the bar for the next rep.

Perform this exercise using a 4-0-1-0 tempo. This exercise works effectively on stabilising the shoulders, traps, lats and rotator cuff muscles. This exercise will help reduce the rate at which your arm bends when catching the weight in the squat snatch position. It is also a fantastic rear delt builder.


The push press is an effective Olympic weightlifting movement used to overload the triceps during lockout. It is also a great way to effectively overload the eccentric part of the overhead press.

Stand with the barbell in your front squat position or jerk position (this movement can also be performed in a snatch grip position). Using some help from the legs by performing a bend in the knees then launch the bar upwards with speed and press the bar up at the same time. Ensure you have locked your arms out and then control the weight back to your starting position in order to begin the next rep.

This exercise is performed in a much more explosive manner so use a 4-0-X-0 tempo. X meaning fast drive from the legs and a quick press overhead. After creating a base of strength with Overhead presses and Snatch Presses add this to your programming in order to overload your Jerk or Snatch lockout.


Normally performed in an overhead snatch squat position however it can be done in an overhead squat position provided you have good mobility in the shoulders and squat. I would give a beginner a snatch grip overhead squat to determine how much mobility work is required in order to get them started in performing squat snatches.

A strict press or push press movement is performed to gain an overhead snatch position. As the arms are pressed out a partial range or full range squat is performed with the bar remaining locked out in the overhead position. You then rise with the weight remaining overhead in order to begin the next rep.

Perform this exercise with a 4-0-1-0 tempo in order to become more comfortable in a squat snatch position. This is a squat with an Isometric hold so maintain tightness in the arms and the trunk. If you cannot perform a full squat then work on your overhead, shoulder mobility and perform power snatches before getting into full snatches.

5 Tips To Get You Squatting Deeper

April 24, 2014
by ASP Admin

Following our recent post discussing the benefits of squatting squat ‘arse to grass’ we have here a much-needed follow up post providing five tips for HOW you can perform such an essential, but somewhat difficult exercise, and safely. As always with these topics they are likely to generate questions and queries, so please feel free to Contact Us or post your questions, feedback, and experiences on our Facebook Page.

1. Stretch Your Calves

Often the main reason you may not able to go deeper in your squats is tight calves. Try loosening up your calves using an isometric stretch on a leg press – holding each stretch at the lowest position for a minimum of 20 seconds and changing the position of your feet from pointing inwards, neutral and outwards.

2. Elevate Your Heels

By elevating your heels on a platform, you shorten the calf muscles and push the knees forward. This allows your body to be kept more upright as you move deeper into the squat, and also has the added advantage of making the squat a more quad dominant exercise.

3. Stretch Your Lower Back

A tight lower back can often cause your back to round as you descend into the squat, putting unnecessary stain on the lumbar erectors. Performing supine windmills beforehand can help loosen the back muscles, facilitating a deeper and more effective squat.w to get a better night’s sleep! In the meantime, sleep tight!

4. Widen Your Stance

Place your feet slightly wider than your hips, and turn your feet slightly (10-15 degrees) outwards. This creates a greater degree of movement for the femur (thigh bone), at the hip joint, allowing you to squat past a ‘parallel thigh’ position. Anatomically, this position tends to be more ‘natural’ and further activates the strong gluteal muscles, enabling you to lift a heavier load with increased stability.

5. Squat With Chains

Using training aids like chains are useful not only in overloading the squat at the top, but also assisting in deepening the range of movement at the bottom of the exercise.

Squatting Arse To Grass– Why Should We Do It?

April 7, 2014
by ASP Admin

All too often we are taught to limit our squatting to just below parallel rather than perform full ‘arse to grass’ squats, because it is a ‘safer alternative’. The main argument being that a full squat places a lot more stress on our knees and ligaments.

While from a static anatomical standpoint, this argument is seemingly true, our body actually behaves different in a dynamic movement under load. For example, supporting structures like cartilage and ligaments work to dissipate the intensification of stress on joints. On sensing the increased load, stretch receptor cells in the joint alert the brain to increase the muscular and ligamentous stability in and around the joint capsule, thus preventing injury.

There are circumstances a full squat would not be initially advised, such as for individuals with disintegrated or damaged knee cartilage, post knee operation patients, or individuals with disc bulges or spinal issues. In the majority of clients with knee issues though, it is ironically their years of half squatting, poor technique and the lack of full squatting that forms the root of their problem.

The Benefits

So, if a full Range Of Motion (ROM) squat is not bad for us, what exactly are the advantages of performing such an exercise?

  • Recent research has shown that full ROM squats help to strengthen the ligaments around the knees, and maintain the capsule integrity.
  • Squatting through a full range of motion helps to minimise imbalances of the quadriceps muscles by forcing the muscles to work through the lower half of its movement capacity, as well as reduce imbalances between the quadriceps and hamstrings.
  • It encourages optimal muscle recruitment and activation over a larger range of motion, leading to better quadriceps development.
  • Deep squatting helps to activate the lower fibers of the Vastus Medialis Oblique (VMO), which serve a critical purpose of stabilizing the knee during movements like running and jumping.
  • Full squatting is an instinctive movement pattern of the body, like walking or breathing. For example, perfect squatting techniques are best observed in children, who perform the exercise with ease and without instruction.
  • It can help to eliminate knee pain caused by patella-femoral tracking syndrome which ironically can be caused by muscular imbalances and tight iliotibial band as a result of partial squatting.

Trainer Challenge : A Lot Can Happen In Two Weeks!

September 15, 2013
by ASP Admin

Here at ASP we have recently had the privilege of transforming three trainers from varied training backgrounds into the best shape of their lives. As part of the expansion of the ASP Service offering, we are looking to accommodate the many requests we get from our clients, fans and supporters for a body transformation ‘quick fix’. Whether it be for a rapidly approaching event, milestone or time in our lives, we all want significant, visible results, and fast!

So, what better way to test our condensed and intensified program, designed only for those are serious about achieving their goals of looking and feeling their absolute best, than trying it out on already gym-seasoned trainers?!

The three personal trainer ‘guinea pigs’, only one of whom is from Melbourne and therefore had any previous exposure to ASP underwent an accelerated two week phase including BioSignature Modulation and condense ASP Evolution program. Click any of the Success Story thumbnails below to see their transformations in detail, the results speak for themselves!




After his two week phase, personal trainer Brian has even taken to writing about his ASP training experience on his, and our blog! Check out his experience here

My Aaustralian Strength Performance Experience

August 15, 2013
by ASP Admin

Today’s post is a guest post by the newest member to the ASP Team – Brian Zaugg. Brian is a Bachelor of Physical Education (BPhEd) graduate from New Zealand with a double major in Exercise Science and Prescription, and has been training with ASP for some time now. For more information or posts of Brian’s check out his brand new blog at

After travelling and working around the United States for over a year, my journey brought to Melbourne, Australia where I was in search for some work. After a few weeks of searching, I landed a job at Fitness First Melbourne Central, one of the cities most popular gyms. While spending some time there I was fortunate enough to meet a trainer by the name of Ben Siong. A few talks later and we soon found each other appreciating the same training methods and principles. It was then that I was introduced to his company – Australian Strength Performance. Ben and his elite team of trainers take a scientific approach to achieve results for clientele, which include but are not limited to optimal body composition, body transformations, sport specific training, and strength work. Ben, one of Australia’s leading body composition experts founded the operation after experiencing years in the fitness industry and countless certifications in an effort to keep progressing and expanding his knowledge. He follows the methods and teachings of expert lifestyle, strength and conditioning coaches, including world-renowned Charles Poliquin.

While I could list all of Ben’s credentials, it is more important to specify that Ben’s Bachelor of Science and Psychology Honours, PICP Level 4 (theory qualified), and BioSignature certification speak for themselves. It is this knowledge that has drawn me to ASP allowing me to be fortunate enough to work with them as a consultant and now, fitness writer on their website!

Well, enough of the formalities! I’m sure you are all curious to know whether I train with them and the answer is YES. Along with my own personalised program and nutritional/supplemental biosignature program, we all do a team workout once a week together that is devised by Ben. Every Thursday theASP Team and myself hesitantly prepare ourselves for what is about to be revealed. None of us know what the program will look like until it gets handed out to us at the briefing prior to the session. This is Ben’s idea of “being in the trenches” style learning with a hard lesson in session planning, training protocol (rep ranges, sets, and tempos), as well as exercise selection and technique all occurring the week prior to the session.

Now, I will start off by saying I’m not a novice by any standard of my training age, I’ve been doing this for a few years now for myself and as a profession, and this training style is not for the faint hearted. There’s none of this bodybuilding style, set, rest, mirror flex, set, rest, and bang out as much weight (even if your technique is dangerously terrible) as possible stuff. All of it is a precisely calculated programming with each aspect having a specific purpose. I can’t give away too many secrets but I can say that there were definitely times where I thought I was going to throw up, pass out, curl up in a foetal position and cry as it broke me. Don’t even get me started on the rigor mortis feeling of delayed onset muscle soreness the next day when you try to get out of bed! But there is something very humbling when you complete such a session; you feel a sense of achievement as well as mental growth. I have never been one of those trainers who just read sources and prescribes. How could I, being in an industry that is based on physical activity? With such an attitude, how would I know what it is like to truly go through the pain and commitment of a client for the resulting effect?

Speaking of such an effect, I am currently working with Ben through a 12-week transformation challenge. The abovementioned year of travelling brought all of its challenges such as lack of gym access (at $30US a workout 5 times a week, you do the math), less then ideal nutrition, and the ever-present peer pressure of late night socialising. I realise many of you reading this will think that a serious trainer would have found a way but honestly, that would have taken away from my entire globetrotting experience. Now that I have got that out of my system, I’m itching to get back and surpass how I once was. I am roughly halfway through the transformation process and will be posting final results in a ‘Part 2′ of this article. So stay tuned for progress pictures, stats, thoughts, and some more insight about what ASP has to offer. But if you can’t wait that long, contact either myself, or Ben through the website and go through it yourself!


Above is a sneak peak of Brian’s progress in his ASP Evolution Transformation. Along with his 12 week program mentioned above, Brian was also part of a ‘two week trainer challenge’ where ASP had the privilege of transforming three trainers from varied backgrounds into the best shape of their lives, in less than fourteen days! Incredible changes already Brian, and only two of twelve weeks down!

For full details and images of the two week trainer transformations, head to our Trainer Challenge: A Lot Can Happen In Two Weeks! blog post.


April 3, 2013
by ASP Admin

We recently interviewed one of our long time ASP clients, Geoff Higham!

At 62 years old, Geoff has been exercising for over 40 years! He has spent countless hours in gyms in all his time training, but instead of tiring he is still training strong and maintaining a physique enviable of most 20 year olds!

Below we discuss Geoff’s experience with ASP compared to the many other fitness professionals and services he’s been exposed to over the years, as well as his secrets to remaining in such great shape!

When did you start training with ASP and how has ASP helped you?

“I started training with Ben over four years ago, before ASP was even created. Since then I’ve kept coming back to Ben and his team of ASP coaches to train and transform my body and lifestyle, they’ve completely changed my life!”

How is ASP different to other trainers, coaches and fitness services?

“Over the many years I’ve been exercising I’ve trained with a lot of different people, even before gyms and personal training especially became as popular as it is now. I’ve trained with trainers and coaches who know their technique and service they provide like the back of their hand, and some that don’t. But I can safely say that ASP is the best of the lot! I feel the burn and the effectiveness of every exercise during every session. I can then feel the changes to my body, and of course see them too. ASP trains me with completely different methods than any that I’ve worked with before. Ben’s also helped me to make my training, nutrition and motivation regime a lifestyle that I live now, instead of a fad fix that I try out for a while. I’m not ready to slow down, I’m the healthiest I’ve been! ASP has even inspired me to complete the course to become a PT myself, at 62

What’s included in your daily nutrition these days?

“Most of my meals will now include red meat or chicken, and vegetables, with nuts as snacks. Sometimes I’ll have juices or whole fruits too, but that’s only when I’m feeling lean – thanks ASP for that tip! I basically eat clean every meal, I’ll have some cheat meals on rare occasions but these “

Out of the supplements you take to support your training lifestyle, do you have a favourite?

“BCAAs! I take BCAAs (Branched-Chain Amino Acids) with every workout I do now, they help with my body’s response to training, make me stronger and not as sore after each session. They’re great!”

What other supplements are you taking?

“I take a multivitamin, and a post-workout BCAA/Amino complex to keep me lean, no carbs there! I also take ten omega-3 fish oil capsules a day, 5 in the morning, 5 at night. I love my supplements! “

Finally Geoff, what does ‘fitness’ now mean to you?

“ASP has definitely changed the way I think of fitness. I see fitness as a lifestyle now, not just exercise. Me being fit now means I sleep better, eat better, generally feel better. Fitness is not all about exercise!”

Geoff began his training journey with Australian Strength Performance at 67kg, reached a post-ASP transformation weight of 77-78kg, and now maintains a steady, lean and strong physique at 71kg.



by ASP Admin

When it comes to weights training, the bench press has gained unrivalled popularity amongst other upper body exercises. For many, the pectoral muscle group remains the most, or sadly for some, only focused-on muscle group. However, despite our obsession with the bench press, many of us quickly hit plateaus in strength and pectoral development and are never able to reach that next level. Below are 5 powerful tips to help bust through your plateau and unleash your full benching potential.


What muscles you say? The rotator cuff muscles constitute four intricate stabilising muscles in the shoulder girdle. These muscles play a pivotal role in optimal shoulder movement and strength, but are often neglected at the expense of prioritising the much larger, and more visible deltoid muscles.

In most cases, the resulting imbalance is created by weak external rotators and disproportionately stronger deltoids and pectorals. This can lead to constant clicking in the shoulders, acute pains, impingement syndromes and muscle weakness, especially while performing a major pressing movement like the Bench press.

External rotation exercises like Cuban presses, cable external rotation exercises and Powell raises can effectively help to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles and increase your benching strength.

Performing these simple exercises at the end of your chest workout over the next four weeks will be sure to see you bump up the number of plates on that barbell.


Introducing a back-focused exercise between each of your bench press sets, such as a bent-over row, lat pull down or a chin-up can actually help to increase your bench-pressing strength. Research has shown that the antagonist pairing of exercises as such is not only a more time effective way of training but also a great way to boost your results. By working the antagonist muscles, we encourage optimal fiber recruitment of the stabilisers utilised within the exercise, and prime the primary muscles to lift more.

Simply speaking, training the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids and rear deltoids (the antagonist muscles) between sets of bench presses effectively increases the overall stability and strength of the pectorals and anterior deltoids (the primary/agonist muscles) for the proceeding set, thus allowing you to lift heavier in the bench press.


It’s important to regularly rotate between using dumbbells and barbells for several reasons. For one, dumbbells are a great way of evening out imbalances between both sides of the body. They also allow for a greater range of motion on the pectorals and anterior deltoids, hence increasing the recruitment of muscle fibers involved in the pressing motion.

By focusing solely on barbell work for an extended period, you will quickly hit a plateau as the body adapts to the same repetitive motion. Changing it up with dumbbells creates a new and different neurological stimulus for the brain, forcing it to see the exercise as a different movement pattern, and effectively breaking the existing plateau.

This process of readapting forces the muscles involved to recruit different and an increased number of muscle fibers for the task. Regular rotations between barbell and dumbbell work can thus help you to continually increase your benching strength.


You are only as strong as your weakest link. It is common to see people perform ‘half-presses’ in the gym, where a heavy weight is moved through an easier and shortened top range of motion. Yet, they fail to press the same weight once it gets to the bottom position nearing the chest. This is a result of the lack of muscle recruitment at that given range.

Muscle activation techniques can increase intra-muscular contraction of muscle fibers within that position. Techniques such as holding a one or two second pause at the bottom position of the bench press or performing quarter reps with a lighter weight before pressing it up. In the long run, this translates to increased strength in the weakened range, and hence more overall strength in the bench press.


The lack of adequate rest on a muscle group often leads to incomplete repair and the loss of strength. After a big session focusing on the pectorals and triceps, individuals often continue to train ‘other’ muscles like the deltoids in the following days.

What many of these people fail to realise is that these smaller muscle groups are also involved in the bench press, and must be given adequate recovery before they hit the bench again.

It is therefore important to plan your exercise splits carefully to prevent too much overlap of muscle groups. Adequate rest on the muscles used in the bench press will definitely see your bench improve by the next session. So from warming the bench to stacking the plates, be sure to follow these sure fire tips and watch your bench press strength increase like never before!


November 16, 2012
by ASP Admin

Not seeing results? Hit a plateau? Wondering why your workouts haven’t worked for you? It’s always frustrating when you’ve invested your precious time, effort and not to mention money into your workouts, only to find out that your weight, physique, strength or fitness has simply hit a plateau. If you’re stuck in this rut then you already know that something you’re doing just isn’t working. Perhaps it’s time to start looking at some of your workout habits and see if they are really beneficial for you or counterproductive instead.

Get ready for a reality check.

Here we debunk some common workout myths to help you unleash the real hercules (or aphrodite) inside of you!


Surely you have come across the gym member who swears by having a banana or protein bar before, or during a workout, because that allows them to push harder, as the sugar converts into energy. In my opinion, that’s all in their mind – a placebo so to speak.

Truth is, for sugars to be converted into energy, sufficient time must be allowed for digestion of the food before it can be transported by the blood to the mitochondria (energy centers of the cell) to be used as fuel. In an average individual, digestion alone can take as long as 4 hours, depending on the efficiency of his/her digestive system. Moreover, while you’re working out, blood will be instinctively directed to the muscles to help with contraction and nutrient supply. The digestive system then becomes a secondary priority, and the food consumed tends to sit in the gut partially digested.

Large intake of sugar pre-workout also brings about an associated increase in insulin (the storage hormone) and a drop in cortisol (the stress hormone). While this may be seen as a positive response, cortisol actually plays an important part in the workout. It acts as an adrenaline to give us the “oomph” we need to push harder. In reality, the introduction of carbs pre-workout will only suppress our ability to train to our limits.


There is no doubt that with convenience and pretty packaging on the top of their priority list, people rush to buy pre-made shakes sold at health food counters – all at the price of feeding their bodies with a low grade protein. Protein oxidises and denatures within an hour of being emulsified in water or milk.Due to protein’s unstable nature, manufacturers often add sodium based stabilisers (like sodium benzoate) to prolong the protein’s stability. Such stabilisers have been linked to health problems such as disruptions in mitochondrial functioning (simply speaking, this makes you fat!), gut sensitivities as well as liver and DNA damage. If the protein shake is milk based (this constitutes 90% of premade shakes on the shelf), then more problems arise. Milk can often cause bloating to those who are lactose intolerant, and furthermore, cannot be digested quickly enough to facilitate the window of opportunity straight after a workout.

My suggestion is to use a high quality whey isolate powder, preferably from organic grass-fed cows or New Zealand cows. Mix the powder with water only and consume it immediately after workout to maximise the protein’s properties and the body’s post-workout anabolic window.


Caffeine is a great pre-workout stimulant used to raise cortisol and adrenaline levels during a workout. It also increases the body’s pain threshold and maximal strength, thus allowing the person to work harder for longer.

The main post-workout objective however, should be aimed at reducing cortisol for an anti-catabolic (preventing muscle breakdown) response as well as increasing testosterone and insulin for an anabolic (muscle building) response. This maximises the body’s ability to build muscle. By having a coffee straight after the workout, stress levels will continue to be elevated for extended periods. This encourages muscle breakdown and increases fat storage around the abdominal region. So if you’re wondering why that six pack is still in hiding, post-workout caffeine might just be your answer.


This statement would represent some of the most regular gym goers, and you probably see them more often than you would the trainers. I call them gym socialites, as you’ll see them chatting and resting more than they actually train!

Workouts exceeding an hour per session can be highly counterproductive to your efforts. It’s best to keep your training to no more than an hour (excluding warm-up). Here’s why – after 45 minutes into your workout, physiologically your body’s testosterone levels will start to decrease and there’s a corresponding increase in cortisol.

This unfavourable shift in the testosterone-cortisol ratio has a two-fold negative effect on the body:


  • is catabolic, converting the protein in muscle into glucose and glycogen (these products tend to be stored as fat around the gut)
  • is anti-anabolic, discouraging the body from using amino acids to form protein in muscle cells.


  • is the hormone that regulates muscle growth in the body, and its decrease means the body’s ability to build muscle also decreases accordingly.

Furthermore, with too much resting time in-between sets, you WILL lose both concentration and strength for the proceeding sets, as well as the desired training effect the overall workout is aimed at.


Here’s one that goes through every woman’s mind. It is a common misconception that any form of weights or resistance training will lead to an overnight explosion of muscle growth, leaving you with chunky thighs and hulk-like arms.

The good news, ladies, is that muscle simply isn’t that easy to gain unless you’re taking additional steroids or testosterone boosters. In reality, most women have up to 15 times less testosterone than men, making it much harder for a female to build muscle.

It is also important to understand that when you lift weights, your body undergoes additional physical stress. This causes micro tears in the muscle tissue, bringing about an inflammatory response. As a result, the specific area that has been worked tends to swell – this is only temporary ladies! Reparation of the muscle in the next few days will cause the inflammation to dissipate, and produce a tighter, toner muscle.

In addition, most women also tend to experience fluid retention (particularly in the lower half) in the first 4 to 6 weeks of doing weights regularly. This is a natural child-bearing mechanism that the female body undergoes – not that you have suddenly put on muscle or weight!. For women training past that initial period, you will find that this does not occur anymore. In fact, following the initial period, the fluid tends to drain away almost instantaneously overnight, leaving you feeling leaner and more defined.


Continuous jogging for 30 to 45 minutes, 3 to 5 times a week, is commonly perceived as the best way to increase athletic endurance and stamina. However, any athletic or fitness benefits associated with the same continuous aerobic exercise has been shown to plateau after just 6 weeks!

Additionally, continuous aerobic workouts have been found to impair athletic performance. For example, if you are an athlete who competes in a sport requiring speed and explosiveness, then continuous aerobic training can detrain your system, reducing both strength and power. Studies have shown that continuous lower body aerobic work decreases vertical leap and sprint times, thus making you slower and less dynamic. Furthermore, on a hormonal level, such aerobic training reduces the body’s testosterone/cortisol ratio, effectively decreasing your ability to gain lean muscle (see myth 4 on workout duration for more information about excess cortisol and its adverse effects).


Why is it that the most advertised fitness equipment always target your abs? You don’t see bicep or calf machines flying off the shelf, yet thousands of ab-swings, ab-kings and other ab-things are sold via infomercials all guaranteeing that 10 minutes of crunches a day will give you a lean six-pack. The reason is that abs are often the hardest muscle to achieve real success in, especially if you aren’t genetically gifted and born naturally lean and ripped.

What you have to understand firstly is that performing a specific exercise for a certain targeted area or muscle group does not make fat in that area simply vanish. As you burn more calories (doesn’t matter doing what, it can be doing crunches, weights or running) fat stores slowly burn up. However, you don’t have control over which fat stores are used up first. Adipose tissue (fatty tissue) distribution around the body is dependent on one’s genes and hormonal predisposition, so in order to reduce fat specifically (that’s right, Spot Reduce), you need to target the source – hormones. I use a technique called BioSignature Modulation which can specifically target fat loss in desired areas just by addressing the associated hormone(s) in question. Find out more about Biosignature in our Services section).

Secondly, the abdominals are fast-twitched muscles and grow with heavy loading through a full range of motion, so countless reps (or should I say half reps for those that do crunches) of ab work will increase only lactic build-up, but not contribute much to muscle growth.


A lot of people feel like they are working out more during an aerobic session, because their heart rate is kept high and sweat is continually produced. As such, aerobics often makes the workout feel more healthy and effective. However, it is a fact that continuous aerobic activity increases oxidation within the body, often leading to an excessive build-up of free radicals (especially if you are not consuming sufficient anti-oxidants). This leads to metabolic changes that have been found to accelerate aging! So really, by increasing your aerobic activity, you are forcing your body to get older.

If you are looking to increase your cardiovascular fitness, maintain your muscle and yet lose the fat, then stick with interval training. Interval training has been proven to increase the intensity of your workout, the calorie burning capacity of your body even after the workout ceases and improve both aerobic and anaerobic fitness. This means that you retain lean muscle whilst getting fit.


To prove this misconception, answer this question: Who typically has less body fat – a marathon runner or a 100m sprinter? If you picked marathon runner on the basis that they simply do more aerobic exercise, then you are mistaken. Sprinters, who hardly do any continuous aerobic exercises, on average have less body fat because of their high-intensity training which has been found to increase metabolism and calorie expenditure for as long as 24 to 48 hours after their workout!

Additionally, excessive aerobic exercise highly stresses and fatigues your adrenal glands, leading to symptoms such as tiredness, arthritis, depression and reduced concentration. Crucially, adrenal fatigue and stress also leads to hormonal imbalances, not only making it difficult for effective weight loss to occur, but could in fact increase body fat. This explains why you may be exercising regularly, yet unable to see much weight loss results!


October 24, 2012
by ASP Admin

Have you been slogging it out in the gym with little or no results? We are often led to believe that the amount of work and sweat we put in equates to the results we achieve. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily the case. Maximum effort alone with little or no variety in our workout routines can still lead to frustrating training plateaus that can be hard to break out of. Here are six tips that can get you out of that rut and achieving your goals more quickly:


The word ‘Period-ise’ simply means to group your training into distinct periods or phases. Each new phase can be dedicated to a particular training goal such as strength, hypertrophy (muscle-building) or fat-loss.

Generally speaking, it is best to change your training goals often, as that not only adds variety to your training but also encourages the recruitment of different types of muscle fibers. Research has shown that 70% of the population will adapt to a given training program with about six to eight repetitions of the same program. This usually equates to keeping your program for a maximum of 3 to 5 week periods before changing it up.


Varying the types of equipment used within training is important for both neuromuscular (the coordination between the brain and muscle) and muscular development. When we use the same type of grip, handle, bench angle or equipment over and over again, we are restricting our muscles to the same stimuli. While this leads to training plateaus and boredom, it is also a common cause of overuse injury, where the joint is strained through an overly repeated motion. By exposing our muscles to different types of equipment, we encourage the recruitment of a different proportion of fibers, as well as the creation of new patterns for movement and stability.


Tempo refers to the speed of the movement when performing a repetition. This is not a new concept and may be familiar those who already make an effort to perform their exercises at a well-controlled pace.

When executing a given exercise, we are putting load on the muscles involved until we finish the set. The tension created on those muscles is known

as ‘Time under Tension’ or T.U.T for short. By varying the T.U.T, we are able to produce a specific desired training effect such as muscular endurance, hypertrophy or power.

Compare a person who completes 10 bicep curls within 30 seconds and another who completes the same in 60 seconds. Where all other factors are constant, the length of time the bicep muscles is under tension is effectively doubled in the latter example.

With an increased T.U.T, the body is able to recruit more muscle fibers and cause more micro damage within the muscle, hence giving the body more opportunity for growth and recovery. What this means is, if you are not already monitoring the timing of your reps and sets, this could be an effective strategy for you to gain better results almost instantly.


These days, many people place more importance on the weight lifted or the number of repetitions performed than on actually performing a full range of motion with correct technique.

Moving through a full range of motion with each repetition ensures that a large proportion of muscular fibers are being utilised, contributing to better development of overall strength and muscular development of that muscle.

By performing an exercise over a limited range, the muscles targeted are only effective within that given range. Short ranges of motion contribute to an imbalance within the muscle, but also between the joint and the muscle itself, often leading to nerve impingements, muscular tightness and overuse injury. While there are specific types of training that encourage shorter ranges of motion, they are used for rehabilitation purposes or for specific periods of time.


This is such an important concept that is taken too lightly by so many. How many individuals do you know who are impacted by work stress and/or family stressors and yet still opt to channel what little energy they have left into long bouts of vigorous training?

While the gym can sometimes be used quite effectively as a source of stress relief, overtraining is in itself a major physical stress on the body. Overtrained individuals often find themselves getting weaker, losing weight, sustaining more injuries and experiencing fluctuations in appetite. Unfortunately when it comes to stress, the body’s response is simply to increase its release of cortisol (the stress hormone). On an ongoing basis (i.e, where the stressors are continuous) this especially leave. This leads to the breakdown of muscle and encourages fat storage around the front of the belly .

The key here is to train smart, keeping training times to no longer than 45 minutes after warm-up, and taking at least a week off after 12 weeks of consistent training.

Resting can sometimes mean staying away from a particular exercise, especially if you have been excessively using it. Renowned Strength Coach and regular visitor to us in Melbourne, Charles Poliquin, suggests a ‘Jachère’ style of training can be crucial for growth.

For example, if you have been continuously performing bench presses for the last 6 months in every chest workout, try staying off the bench for up to 12 weeks. This does not mean staying off chest workouts, but substituting your bench presses for a dumbbell chest workout. When you return to the bench 3 months later, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with your increase in strength.


For the individual that has a little more time on their hands, sometimes training twice a day can really help boost results. For example, performing a more demanding strength training at the start of the day and a lighter circuit session in the evening. While such a training regime is a great plateau buster, it must be monitored carefully to prevent overtraining and fatigue, as that can be counterproductive to your gains. The main considerations when training twice a day are optimal nutrition and sufficient recovery, ensuring a minimum of 6 hours of rest between workouts.

Remember – Training hard is good, but training smart is better! Enjoy!