Wednesday, 18 December 2013


Hi Guys & Girls,

I have been pretty absent from this blog for a few months now, do apologise but rest assured I have not been idol.

Today's post is about Progress.

I'm a firm believer that people should always aim for progression in their lives, especially when it comes to exercise.  Too often people drift through session or training plans with no real focus, not keeping record of how they are performing. If you don't know how you are performing, if you don't get any sort of feedback on what all your effort and hard work is going towards then it is easy to lose motivation and eventually give up.

Your measure of progress can be just about anything that is related to your goals.

Want to get stronger? Ok, pick a few movements that test strength, see how you do for a set number of reps and then write it down.  Test again every month and see how you're going.

Want to look better? Ok, take some picture of yourself in your swimwear, then take the pictures again every week or two.

Want to be fitter? Ok, pick a workout that can be easily measured, test yourself and then re-test every few weeks.

It isn't hard to do, but it is amazing how many people don't do it.

I genuinely believe that there are two big reasons people don't measure their progress when it comes to exercise.  Firstly because they know it will make them accountable, they will have a pressure to perform better and to beat their current bests.
Secondly, because they are afraid to fail.  They are afraid that they might not make progress.


You can't be afraid to try, failure might happen but as long as you don't give up then you haven't really failed, you've just found out what doesn't work and you can reset yourself to try again with a different tactic.
Effort never leads to failure, even if you don't achieve the goal you were aiming for you will have bettered yourself in some way.

So, speaking of progress.

A few post back I talked about Gymnastic Strength training and I posted a video of myself doing some exercises.  If you missed it, that post can be found here.
I promised that I would update you guys and let you know how I was getting on.  Well, it has been 6 months, I have only been able to practice these exercises once a week, but I've tried to stay diligent with them and I'm happy to say that I've made progress.
In pretty much each exercise I am now either holding the positions for longer or using a more challenging variation.

Here is a video of my latest gymnastic strength training session

There are a couple of exercises from the first video that aren't on this one.
I still work with them (I just didn't do them in this session) and they are still progressing too.

I hope this video provides a bit of inspiration. It has taken me 6 months to make this progress, it isn't massive but it is well earned and considering I was only practising them once a week I don't think it's too bad.

I have't put this video up to show off or boast but to show what regular training with a focus on progression can achieve.  While I was in the park practising pistols one day a man passed me and said something along the lines of:
"They look very hard, I couldn't do them"

My response was:
"They look tough but it's the same as anything, you start off simple and build up.  You just happen to be seeing me after a lot of practice.  You haven't seen when I first started and kept falling on my arse."

Achieving progress can feel like a scary and long journey but remember, the time is going to pass anyway, why not be bettering yourself while it does!  Never give up on trying to progress!

I want to leave you with two quotes;

"Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds, cannot change anything" - George Bernard Shaw

"If there is no struggle, there is no progress" - Frederick Douglas

Change your mind, set yourself to progress and watch your life change for the better.
Good luck in your training, whatever it might be.

Train hard, live happy

Friday, 5 July 2013

Women and lifting

Hi Guys & (especially) Girls,

First of all let me say that there are going to be some generalisations in this article, particularly about the way females exercise and some of their misconceptions about resistance / weight training.  I realise that not all women think or act this way. Sorry if it offends, that's not my intention.

One thing I hear a lot from people (especially women) when I talk to them about their routines is
"Well I'm trying to lose weight, so I am just doing cardio.  Weights will make me bulky"

Ok, so the first very important distinction to make here is between losing weight and losing fat, most people will use the terms interchangeably but they are very different.

Losing weight simply refers to a smaller number on the scales.  Most weight loss diets and programs rely on vastly restricting calorie intake and (perhaps) increasing energy expenditure, giving you a massive calorie deficit.  You will lose weight, even quickly, but your body thinks it is starving and so it actually stores more fat (which is energy rich) and starts sacrificing other things such as muscle tissue and even bone density.
This is incredibly bad for you health, please don't do it!  Not to mention that diets are no fun, you should enjoy eating healthy, wholesome food in decent portions.

So now you weigh less but your body is trying to store as much fat as possible, so it burns weight from muscles and other tissues.  This means that proportionally you are now fatter than when you started.  Plus as soon as you come off this weight loss diet (which you will have to eventually or you will die), you will most likely regain more weight than you had before (these are yo-yo diets).

And don't be fooled, when you lose weight this way you might temporarily look slimmer but this is because fat can be stored internally, around organs. Vital organs which then get choked by this fat causing disease and potentially death.

The goal for most people is actually fat loss, which is, unless taken to extremes, a healthy pursuit.

This is where you need to start stepping away from the scales because what you are really trying to do is improve your body composition.  A lighter weight isn't necessarily the aim, a lower level of body fat is. Plus being ruled by a pair of scales is miserable, liberate yourself!

This is where resistance / weight training and lean muscle mass comes into play.

Cardio training is fantastic, I am never going to tell someone that they shouldn't do any cardio training but if you want to lose fat (not weight!) then you have to balance cardio, resistance training and a nutritious diet.

Here's why...

The body has two main sources of fuel: Fats and Carbohydrates.
Fats provide more energy (9Kcal per gram) than Carbs (4Kcal per gram) but the energy from Carbs can be utilised by the body quicker.  Therefore your body changes how much of each fuel source it uses depending on the intensity of the exercise.  There are some interesting points here about how to structure your cardio training to optimism fat loss but that's a topic for another post.

When a person partakes in weight/resistance training they create damage in the muscle tissue and release hormones which tell the body to then rebuild those muscles bigger and stronger.  Over a period of time, with the right training and nutrition the person will develop lean muscle mass.

And here is the central point of this whole article...
Basal Metabolic Rate is proportional to lean mass1 
What that means is that the more lean muscle mass you have on your body the more calories you will burn simply by being alive.  Then when you start actually moving and using those muscles, well, then you burn even more calories!  It is like a beautiful snowball effect.

Also, purely speaking from an aesthetic point of view, lean muscle mass will make everything firmer.  That means tight bum, no bingo wings and perkier...biceps.

Laura Plumley Deadlifting over twice her bodyweight.
So what is the best way to add some lean muscle mass?

Very simply put, resistance / weight training done to an intensity where loss of form is reached within 15 repetitions.  So that doesn't mean grabbing a tiny pair of dumbbells and doing 20+ reps of whatever exercise and still feeling like you could carry on all day.

It means grabbing some serious weights or picking a suitably difficult body-weight exercise and performing it safely and with good form until you lack the strength to maintain good form.  If that loss of form comes after the 15 rep mark then its time to add more weight or pick a harder variation of the exercise.

"Ok I can see that muscle is important but I don't want to be bulky"

'Bulking up' doesn't happen by accident.

So many people, women particularly (sorry, there is one of those generalisations that I said about), seem to think that all you have to do is touch a dumbbell and you will explode into a mass of Hulk-like muscle.
It simply isn't true.

It takes a lot of consistent work to add muscle to the human body and to reach the muscular level of a bodybuilder is pretty much a full time job.
If you don't believe me, watch something like this.

Lifting over 60kg overhead, she doesn't look too 'bulky' to me!
So people (especially women), if you're goal is to lose fat, then include weight / resistance training into your program.  It will help you lose fat, it will help you keep fat off, it will stop you getting thin and saggy, it will make you stronger, healthier and if you play a sport, it will most likely improve your performance in that.  You won't hulk out! And if, by some freak occurrence, you did actually put on too much muscle (not going to happen!) then it is actually quite easy to lose again, far easier than fat.

Oh and one last thing.

Lifting weights is fun!  It feels awesome to be able to bang out 10 pull ups, or lift a bar that weighs the same as you over your head.  Imagine the extra confidence that gives you.

Come on, don't let the boys have all the fun!

Train hard, live happy

1 - Cunningham, J.J. (1980). A reanalysis of the factors influencing basal metabolic rate in normal adults.  Am J Clin Nutr, 33(11), 2372-2374

Monday, 24 June 2013


Hi Guys & Girls,

How do you get ridiculously strong and powerful using minimal kit?


You only have to look at professional gymnastic athletes, male and female to see that they have incredible physiques.  They're amazingly powerful, well conditioned and are quite possibly the strongest pound-for-pound athletes that you can find.

When I first started looking in doing some gymnastic movements I wasn't convinced.  I thought; 'Those gymnasts you see have all been doing it since they were little children, its not very likely I will be able to do those movements.  Plus I don't want to go down to a gymnastics club when I'm not even sure I like it.'

I was also pretty sure that in terms of increasing strength I was better off sticking with heavy weightlifting.
But my curiosity got the better of me and I started mixing some movements into my training.  They were fun, challenging, a nice break from normal training and they didn't take up too much time so I thought, 'it can't hurt'.

A little while later I got Building the Gymnastic Body by Coach Christopher Sommer.
In the beginning of the book he describes how, after retiring from competitive gymnastics he didn't really know what to do to 'keep in shape'.
He had never engaged in any structured weightlifting or running programs, just gymnastics.
He also didn't consider himself a particularly strong gymnast compared to some of his team mates.

However, on entering the gym he found that he could:
- Deadlift 2x his bodyweight,
- Military press with 110% of his bodyweight,
- Perform multiple chin ups while loaded with 50% of his bodywight
- Perform multiple Dips while loaded with 60% of his bodyweight,
- and Run 20 miles on the spur of the moment.

Any lifter in the gym would be pretty happy with these results.
So was Christopher, at first.
But then he began to notice that he was getting sore, stiff, slow and tired.  Worst of all he noticed that his athletic ability stopped improving and began to slip backwards.

He figured that he wasn't training hard enough, so over the course of 10 years he trained his ass off, changing programs and trying various combinations of exercise routines and styles.

Eventually he decided that he had to go back to gymnastics, but there was no way he could replicate the training of his youth, for a start he didn't have 20 hours a week spare!  However after changing his approach to gymnastic training and focusing more on the conditioning aspect rather than the competitive aspects, he realised that he could distill the training down to core components which any fitness enthusiast could utilize in 2-3 hours a week.

Its an interesting argument and he has a lot of evidence and experience behind him.  For a start he is a well respected US gymnastics coach.
Now this doesn't mean that everything, everyone else has been doing in terms of training is now wrong.

No two people are the same and what works for one person will not suit the other.

I love weight training, sprints and interval training, I believe in them and I won't be giving them up anytime soon.  However I also realise that there are massive gains to be had from training gymnastic exercises. So I have been trying some out!

What I have learnt so far is that most of the movements and static holds have regressions that are accessible to most people.

They require minimal kit, in fact I have been heading down to a local 'trim trail' to perform most of my sessions, and they are fun to do.

With consistent work I have already seen myself progress through several stages on many exercises, each bringing its own sense of accomplishment, satisfaction, increased strength and mobility.

I've also introduced some of the exercises to my clients and as well as seeing them progress and get stronger they love the challenge (you know someone is enjoying training when they send you a picture of themselves doing a back lever on a tree branch while they are on holiday know who you are!)

Below is a video of me performing some of the exercises that I have been working with so far.
Most of them don't look very impressive and I am still working on them but maybe try having a go at them yourself and you will soon see that they provide a significant challenge.

If you fancy mixing some basic gymnastic movements and static holds into your training then drop me a line and we can make it happen.

Train hard, Live happy

Saturday, 22 June 2013


Hi Guys & Girls,

Well here I am back in England.  Loving life and training people who want to be the best version of themselves that they can be.

I know I have been sharing a lot of 'inspirational' videos on this blog recently, if they aren't your kind of thing then apologies and I plan to put up some different posts soon.   If however you are like me and the occasional video like the one below put a bit more fire in your belly then enjoy.

This video is all about the Grind.  Forget that a lot of the training images relate to baseball.  The central theme here is a really important one, even if you don't play a sport.  Even if you only train to feel or look better, you still have a goal and that goal is only going to be achieved through grind.

This modern world has everyone fixated on instant results and quick transformations.  Well, they are Bullshit!

Getting healthy, fit, strong or dominating at your sport doesn't happen overnight.  Success can't be bought and taken as a pill.  It doesn't come from 5 minutes of exercise a day.  It comes from consistent grind.

And this is a fantastic leveler because it means that you CAN achieve, you just have to be consistent.
You control your own outcome through every single choice you make, every day!

There will be days when the training feels boring and too hard, when you are sick of eating clean, when everyone else seems to have it easy.  It's in these moments that I remember videos like this one.   They help keep me focused and remind me that I control my performance through every choice I make.

If you want to achieve something, if you want to change yourself, then you can.
And you can start right now, through every choice you make.  Let's get better!

Remember, I am available for personal training - contact me on

"Luck is the last dying wish of those who want to believe that winning can happen by accident,
  Sweat, on the other hand, is for those who know it is a choice."

Train hard, live happy

Monday, 3 June 2013

Back to business soon & some inspiration

Hi Guys & Girls.

First of all I want to apologise for not having posted here for a while.
The winter season in Banff is over and I was busy moving out of my house there and since then I've been travelling around some of the west coast of Canada.

However I've found some time to do a little exercise, not as much as ideal, but you work with what you've got.  Here I am busting out some Back Levers in a park in Vancouver.

Anyway. I will be back in England later this week, back to training hard, updating this blog regularly and offering my PT services to those in the Camberley area (so drop me a line and we can get a date booked in the diary).

In the meantime here is a video that I have watched multiple over the last few years.  It's a commercial but it's message is very simple and valuable.

It's easy to look at those at the top of their game, those who are doing the things that we aspire to be able to do and start making excuses as to why we aren't achieving as much.  The thing that most people don't see is the hours of dedication, sacrifice and work that goes into getting those people to where they are.

It is so easy to give up when it starts getting tough, it's easy to think "Maybe it's just not meant to be!" but don't forget, everyone that has achieved something great, especially when it comes to training and physical fitness, has done so because they KEPT WORKING AT IT!

So don't give up!

Stay focused, stay hungry for it and keep putting in the work.  The rewards will come.

Remember, if you want to achieve those goals it is my job to show you the most efficient ways to do it,
it's my job to help keep you focused and motivated,
and perhaps most importantly, it's my job to make the process more fun!
So drop me a line and we can start getting you to where you want to be, what have you got to lose?!

See you soon guy & girls, until then...

Train hard, live happy

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Do you know Squat?

Hey Guys & Girls,

Hope you have been doing well and training like beasts.

Thought I would share this with you:

The other day I was in the gym, doing my thing, when I see some young guys 'squatting'.
One of these fellas was obviously new to it and was being coached by his friend who wasn't doing the best of jobs.  The new guy had been loaded up with a barbell that was way to heavy and was doing his best to not die under it.  Then his friend took over on the bar, loaded it up to over 100kg and busted out a shoddy set of, well they weren't squats, he was kind of curtsying.  He racked the bar and strutted around looking like the cock he obviously is.

'So...' I hear you say, 'This is another squat article telling us how important squats are and running through boring technique pointers'

Well no smart ass, actually it isn't, yes the Squat is an awesome exercise.  If you are training, whether its for Strength, Fitness, Fat loss, Performance, Re-hab or Aesthetics, Squats are important for you!

A well performed squat with decent weight works much more than just your legs, it is fantastic for your core (some studies have claimed that there is more abdominal muscle activation from heavy squats than from crunches), it puts a spotlight on your upper body posture & strength and it gives your hormonal system the kick it needs to start releasing all the good stuff.

The variation possibilities with squats are almost unlimited, you can use bodyweight, barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, sandbags, your neighbours kids, old tyres or pretty much anything you can hold.

I could write an entire post on Squat technique, but that isn't what this entry is for (Told ya!).
There are tons of strength coaches out there who know more about squatting than most people could imagine, look them up or drop me a comment below and I will provide some links.

What I really what to address in this post are the main 2 main problems I see with most peoples's squats.
Ego and Impatience!
Seriously, it isn't even funny the amount of times I see a situation like I described at the top.

Squatting takes time to master and because, as I mentioned, it engages so much of the body from head to toe, it is crucial that your technique is solid before you start cranking up with weights.

Now don't get me wrong, I don't want to discourage anyone from exercising.
There isn't a whole lot you have to learn before you can start banging out decent bodyweight squats and they are fantastic.  So go for it, get the basic technique down and start bodyweight squatting, its awesome and not enough people do it.

Then when you are bored with that, start trying to really get your posture on form.  This is easier said than done and its where most people skip ahead and start loading themselves up with ridiculous weights and then eventually injure themselves.
I am not getting on my high horse here, I have made this exact mistake, I wanted to be a beast overnight and I rushed into squatting too much, too soon with imperfect technique and yes, I paid the price.
Learn from my mistakes.

'But I want to beast my legs, I can't just be squatting with bodyweight and tiny barbells'

Being a beast doesn't happen overnight, it is the product of training hard and consistently, as I have said before:  Think of each workout as a strand in a rope, it might be the best workout in the world but it is only one strand, however with consistency you can build up enough strands to make that rope unbreakable.

I understand that people want to squat and they want to sometimes punish their legs to the point that it is hard to walk the next day.  Well you can do both.

Start the session with Squat technique  using a light, or no, weight.  Get yourself drilling perfect form and posture into your body and then when it comes time to get those legs shifting some serious weight then pick an exercise that isn't as complex, like split squats or step ups while holding heavy dumbbells.

Don't get impatient and let your ego take over.
The aim isn't to be able to push out 10 Squats at 2x bodyweight today only to herniate a disc next week.
You want to be able to train hard until the day you breathe your last.
Take the time and put in the work; learning technique, improve your mobility and flexibility, develop that squat steadily and it will be solid.

Fancy getting your squat solid? Drop me a line here, on facebook or Twitter.

Train hard, live happy

Monday, 29 April 2013

Strong Will

Hi Guys & Girls,

Hope you are having a good time in life, training hard and enjoying yourself.

Unfortunately shit happens! Life isn't always fair and for anyone who enjoys an active lifestyle and/or competes in a sport, possibly one of the most challenging things to deal with is a major injury.

In my work as a trainer and my time training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu I have seen friends, clients and team mates suffer and fight back from some huge injuries.  Firstly I would like to dedicate this post to them.  Not only have they fought back through the physical pain of injury but also the mental anguish.  Wondering if you will ever get back to where you were, seeing other people enjoying activity and team mates progressing and getting better.

It is hard to deal with and I want to say to those whom I have seen pull through it (or who are still getting through it), you inspire me.  Keep at it!

I am not sure that there is one specific way to get through an injury, I think it is probably unique to each person and their situation.  However one thing that helps is having a strong will.  That desire to carry on because, well, what else are you going to do? Quit!? No!
I know that some people reading this will think:
'I don't know if I have a strong Will, I'm not sure I could get through something like that.'

Well, I don't think you really know what kind of will you have until it is tested.  There are many people out there who have faced these sorts of trails and didn't know if they could make it through, but they did!
One day at a time, drawing on the strength they found around them, they did!
Hardship, like dealing with a major injury, can forge an iron will in anyone.

Below is a video about a guy called Zach Krych, it's a great piece and well worth a watch.  You might not have an injury now, you might never have suffered from one but it could happen in the future, and seeing Zach's strong will might give you the strength you need, if the time comes.

What the video doesn't show (though I am willing to bet they happened) is the times when Zach was furious with anger, frustrated at his situation and desperate to the point of almost giving up.  This happens to people when they are torn away from something they love by injury.  But it isn't an ending, it is only temporary and despite what people around you might recommend or experts might say, if you want to achieve something, keep trying!
That's what Zach did.

'Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labour does the body' - Seneca

Train hard, live happy