Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Kettlebells for Fat Loss

Kettlebells have been around for a long, long time, but have recently re-gained popularity, showing up in more and more gyms every week.

Although they’re essentially just another weight, the unique shape changes the way they’re used, lending them to large, full-body movements that get your whole body working.

This is beneficial for fat loss since, as I’ve mentioned before, it’s your muscles that burn calories. So the more muscles you use, and the harder you work them, the more calories you’ll burn.

Most people working with weights tend to follow a more body-building type routine, working one muscle group at a time; which is beneficial, but not the most efficient way to use your workout time.

By using large, full body exercises, that recruit most, if not all of your muscles at once, you’ll be working much harder, and burning a LOT more calories (since you now have about 600 muscles burning energy rather than just a few).

So it makes sense that any exercise that recruits more muscles will be a much better way to spend your time in the gym (or at home) than the typical 3 sets of 10 on chest press, 3 sets of 10 shoulder press, 3 sets of 10 leg extension.....

The traditional kettlebell exercises such as swings, cleans, snatches, windmills, Turkish get-ups etc. are all full body movements, using just about every muscle in your body. Since they are predominantly performed from a standing position, all of the muscles in your legs, hips, backside and back are working to support you throughout the entire movement.

This means that you’ll not only be burning more calories, but by working your whole body in one movement you’ll also be improving your co-ordination, balance and stability.

On top of all of that, you’ll also find that you’re getting a great cardio workout to boot, meaning that those long, boring hours on the treadmill/bike/x-trainer are not necessary!

If you’ve got 600 muscles working at once, all requiring oxygen to work, then you’ll soon be out of breath – THIS IS CARDIO! Regardless of what people say, if you’re out of breath, you’re doing cardio. It’s irrelevant if you happen to be lifting weights while you do it or not. The bonus here is, instead of just being out of breath (like traditional “cardio”), you’ll also be working your muscles, making them stronger, more flexible, and also burning more energy (calories). Why would you waste time running when you can get all the benefits and more in less time lifting weights?!

As a side note, if you’re doing traditional cardio (i.e. long sessions of running, cycling, x-training, walking, swimming...) without lifting any weights, You will lose muscle – meaning despite a drop in weight on the scales, you’ll still be holding onto body fat, and you’ll also get weaker! Just look at long distance runners...

So to summarize, Kettlebell training will build strength, burn a lot more calories than traditional gym programs, improve balance, stability and co-ordination, and make boring cardio training redundant.

If you want to learn how to use Kettlebells properly (as with any exercise, if you don’t do it properly you risk injury and impaired results), you can visit my website and sign up for the next Kettlebell Workshop, where you can come and learn 15 of the basic, most effective Kettlebell exercises, and how to put them into a training program that’ll increase your fitness dramatically in a few short weeks.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Who do you want to look like?

There are many different training methods available to anyone that wants to lose weight. But which is best?

The most common option seems to be running. Many people who hate the thought of going to the gym, working out with weights, or attending fitness classes, opt to go running a few times a week in order to lose weight; but is this the best idea.

Bearing in mind that most people want to lose FAT, not WEIGHT, it’s safe to say that running ISN’T the best way to do it. There’s no doubt that it has worked for many people, but if you really want to reach your goals (which you may think are weight loss, but actually, you just want to fit into smaller clothes and look better – unfortunately, people have linked this with weight).

Let’s make it easy to see what’s better for stripping fat and building the muscle that shapes your body.

Take a look at the average marathon runner – for the most part, they look skinny, emaciated, and generally not too healthy. They may weigh very little, but they have no muscle, and no shape to them – not the ideal figure is it?

Now take a look at a sprinter. They’re lean, muscular, with good shape and muscle tone. They look athletic and healthy, and will generally have LESS body fat than the marathoners.

Obviously these are two extremes, but the bottom line is if you want to lose fat, shape and tone your body, and look and feel strong and healthy, you need to ditch the long cardio sessions and start working with high intensity intervals (sprints if running’s your chosen activity) and/or start lifting weights.

If you enjoy jogging, then by all means, go jogging. But unless your goal is to be “skinny fat” (where you weigh very little and look skinny, but still have a high body fat – mainly due to a lack of muscle), then you also need to be doing intervals and weight training.

Another easy way to see what you need to be doing, is to walk into any gym. Are the people who look how you want to look walking on the treadmill for 20 minutes, then moving across to sit on a bike for half hour and watch EastEnders? ... Or are they in the freeweights area lifting weights?

Don’t be fooled by the common misconception that cardio burns more calories. Use your muscles, and lift weights that you struggle to finish your set with i.e. if you’re aiming for 12 lifts (repetitions), you should struggle to finish the last 2 or 3.

Just take a look at British champion weightlifter Evelyn Stevenson:

Not exactly the hulky mass of muscle that people (especially women) are afraid of becoming if they lift a weight!

It should be clear, just by looking at the different athletes, which type of training will produce the best results – if you want to look like a sprinter, train like a sprinter.

This may go against what you thought was the best way to train and what you’ve been told by magazines, friends, even trainers in the gym. But really, it’s pretty obvious.

Be aware also that the same goes for diet. Just because you’ve read it, a friend recommended it, or a trainer has told you to do it, doesn’t mean it’s the right way. Even if it works – there might still be a better way, and it’s usually the most obvious.

If you’d like to know more about how best to eat and train for your goals you can download my nutrition advice by entering your name and e-mail in the box on the right, or contact me for Personal Training.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Taking your measurements

Taking measurements is by far the best way to keep track of your changing shape as you get fit.
Weight on the scales can sometimes show little change, or even go up if you’ve swapped some fat mass for muscle, or taken on more water that particular day – meaning that they really don’t give an accurate reading of how well you’re doing.
Also, it can sometimes take a while for these training effects to take place, so weekly “weigh-ins” can sometimes dishearten many people, and cause them to give up.
By taking measurements and keeping an eye on how your clothes are fitting, you can see exactly how well your efforts are paying off and even where you’re losing the “weight” from.
For accuracy, you must ensure that you’re taking the measurements at exactly the same places each time or you will get mixed and inaccurate readings.
Again though, be aware that everyone’s different. You may see results faster than you expected, or a little slower. Either way, stick to the programme and eventually things will even out.

Below are some tips on how to take your measurements.
Neck – Standing, measure your neck at its largest girth (right over the Adam’s apple for men).

Chest – Men: Standing, measure around your chest at nipple height, with breath out.
Women: Measure under your breasts but as high up as you can go, keeping the tape measure parallel to this line when you reach it around your back (with breath out).

Bust (Women) – Don't squish yourself -- measure all the way around your bust and back right at your nipple line, and make sure the tape measure is not lower.

Waist – Standing, measure at the navel line/belly button.

Hips – Measure at “the biggest part of your bum”, standing with feet together -- even if that is so low that you are almost on the top of your thighs.

Thigh – Standing, measure at the “gluteal fold” (or in English, the crease at the bottom of your backside!).

Calves – Standing, measure where they are the biggest.

Upper Arm – Measure at the largest point above the elbow, with arms relaxed at your sides.

Avoid pulling the tape measure too tight when taking these measurements. It should lie flat against the skin and level all the way around without pinching.

You may also want to take some pictures as these also provide an easy way to gauge your progress (it's difficult to see the changes day by day, but comparing pictures a few weeks apart you'll see exactly what changes are taking place). Wear as little as possible for these, or fitted clothes. Baggy clothes won't show anything!

Underwear or swimwear is the ideal.

Take pictures from the front, sides and back. And stand normally - don't try and pull anything in or puff anything up. Honest pictures work best!

I strongly encourage you to throw away your scales and start using these methods to track your progress.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

10 reasons why the Gymboss is still the best training tool I’ve ever bought

The Gymboss is an interval timer – the same one I use in my Bootcamp classes, with Personal Training clients, and in my own workouts.

Here's why I like it so much: -

1. It makes interval sessions easy.

2. It keeps rest periods strict – no slacking off; which means harder work and better results.

3. You don’t have to keep looking at the clock during interval sessions or circuits– just wait for the beep.

4. You can easily time challenge workouts to the second (i.e. how long it takes to complete a workout) with the stopwatch function.

5. For AMRAP style workouts (as many rounds and reps as possible in a certain time limit), you can just start the timer and get going. No need to check the time, just set the timer to the desired time and it’ll bleep when your time is up.

6. EMOTM (every minute on the minute) workouts. These are tough! Set the timer to a 1 minute interval, to repeat for the desired number of rounds. Then get going.

7. Perfect for fighter training. Set the interval to a 3 (or any other number) minute round, followed by a 1 minute rest period (or any rest period from 2 seconds to 99mins), then repeat for a set number of rounds, or just keep going...

8. Intervals can be set to any time from 2 seconds to 99mins 59secs

9. AMRAP and timed workouts are perfect for tracking your progress and increasing fitness, as well as a great motivator.

10. It’s small, easy to use, water and shock resistant, and you can just clip it to your shirt, trousers or arm band. Plus, you can take it anywhere to get a great workout.

You’ll struggle to find a good interval timer, and the Gymboss is by far the best I’ve found.

Follow the link to get your timer now - Gymboss Interval Timer

Worth every penny. It'll revolutionize your workouts!


Sunday, 12 June 2011

My Breakfast Experiment

Yesterday I decided to do a little experiment. I hadn't been shopping and the cupboards were pretty empty, so breakfast options were limited.

Now I don't really have a particular problem with wheat or dairy, although many people do, but instead of my usual breakfast of eggs or bacon or a super-smoothie, I decided to have Weetabix. A power breakfast, no?

So, 8am, breakfast: 4 weetabix with milk and a small sprinkling of sugar (what most people seem to think of as a healthy breakfast!)

The Result: Well, not only was I hungry again in about half an hour, but by the time I was set to have my workout at about 11.30, I had NO energy. I felt weak, lethargic and had no motivation whatsoever to drag my arse into the gym.

Is this how people feel day in, day out?!

No wonder everyone doses up on sugar-filled junk and caffeine!

If you "don't have the energy to train" or are "too tired" after your day's work, then maybe, just maybe, it's NOT that you've worked hard (let's face it, unless you're a labourer, you don't work hard - sat at a desk all day), but that you've been feeding your body crap and it's telling you it just 'aint good enough!

If you're feeding your body the fuel it needs, you'll have better energy levels throughout the day and have plenty left over for a workout at the end of the day.

All without having to dose up of coffee and sugar at regular intervals.

You may not have made the connection between the s**t you're eating and your apparent lack of energy, but trust me, this is EXACTLY what the problem is.

So tomorrow, instead of having your cereal with milk, and cup of tea or coffee, try having something different; scrambled eggs and a couple of rashers of grilled bacon, maybe with some grilled tomatoes. And at least a pint of water.

Give it a try and see if you feel any different.

Then later on, when (or if) you get hungry, have another glass of water first, then a handful of nuts with a cup of berries.

Try this for a couple of days and if you don't notice the difference...
(then you're probably still pretending you "can't go without your cup of tea in the morning")

Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Barefoot Running

I've just come across this great video.

It shows the basics of barefoot running without too much detail, but a few pointers of how you can get started making the transition.

Give a few of the drills a try and see how you get on.

If you can master these basics, you should begin to find your running more efficient, less effort, smoother, and you'll get less injuries.

But do as he says - ease yourself into it! The muscles in your feet are likely weak and won't be used to working so hard, so build them up slowly.

(As a side note - I personally prefer the Vibram FiveFingers shoes, but the Terra Plana are also great)


Thursday, 17 February 2011

Nutritional Supplements

As I read more and more about diet and nutrition, my beliefs change slightly.

Occasionally, I'll change my mind completely about something (like whey protein supplements - which I used to use, but now don't). But more often, I'll just learn about something new that I'd not learnt much about before, or just give a particular supplement more or less credit than I had previously.

Having read a lot more nutrition books recently, I've come to what is currently my ideal supplement program. These are the supplements I take, and recommend everyone should look into taking.

If you think supplements are too expensive then I urge you to re-evaluate your priorities. If drinking 5 cups of coffee a day, or smoking cigarettes, or buying cakes/sweets/biscuits/alcohol etc is higher in your list of priorities than your health, then I probably can't do much to help you.

But if you think that spending some of your hard-earned money on something that will certainly improve your health is worth it, then read on...

My daily supplements:

Alkaline Water - There are too many benefits to mention. Suffice to say that our bodies can only be healthy in a slightly alkaline state, and our food choices, pollution, stress and other habits cause our bodies to become acidic - turning it into a breeding ground for disease. I drink all my water from an ioniser, which alkalises the water. But for a cheaper option (the ionisers start from about £600), Alkalising Salts are a must!

Omega-3's - These really are "essential" fats, and just about every cell in your body needs them to function properly. DON'T skip these!

Chlorella, Spirulina and Wheatgrass - These are all Algae and they contain chlorophyll, which is a blood builder. They also contain all 8 essential amino acids (the ones you can ONLY get from diet) as well as about 10 other amino acids. They contain vitamins, anti-oxidants, iron, RNA and GLA. And they help eliminate heavy metals, pesticieds, herbicides, and PCB's.

Vitamin D - This is essential to health. It boosts your immune system and helps maintain proper levels of calcium in the blood. And due to our lack of sunny weather in this country - even more important to supplement! Lack of vitamin D has also been linked to depression and other mental illnesses.

Mega Greens - This is a powdered drink that contains 34 different vegetables that'll give you just about every vitamin and mineral going. I never miss this one out!

Super-Supplemental - This is a good quality multi-vitamin. Another important addition to daily nutrition thanks to the lack of nutrients in our food nowdays. But be careful with these - as with all supplements, you get what you pay for. So pay the extra, it's cheaper than buying ones that don't work.

Vitamin C - Another essential vitamins for health that we can only get through diet. I use the dissolvable tablets first thing in the morning - an easy way to get your first 1/2 litre of water in in the morning.

Colloidal Silver - Natural anti-biotic (with NO side effects), fights disease and helps fight bacteria and viruses.

There are a few others that I don't take every day, but try to get in at least 2-3 times per week:

Hemp seeds - These are SUPER-superfoods. Probably the most under-appreciated food in the world! I really should have this one every day. You should too!

Coconut Oil - This breaks down less than any other oil when heated, contains lots of good fats (yes, some fats are good!), and promotes fat-burning and brain function. Use this in place of all other oils.

Royal Jelly - Another superfood that promotes healthy brain function, as well as being a very rich source of vitamin B5 and acetylcholine.

So that's my list of supplements that I never go without.
I'm sure as time goes on and I learn more I'll add more to the list, or find ways to get extra nutrients into my foods (like sprouting alfalfa and other seeds).

If you want to know where to get them, leave a comment below, or contact me through my website.

But you can get many of them (super-supplemental, spirulina, vitamin C, vitamin D, colloidal silver, Omega-3's) from here: www.TopQualitySupplements.com

This may seem like a lot of supplements, but I feel they're all necessary to promote great health and prevent illness and disease.

Remember, prevention is the best cure!

Saturday, 8 January 2011


In the last post I recorded a video with a few books I think everyone should read.

Well... last week I read another one that's made it on to that list.

It's called "Your Body's Many Cries For Water" by Dr. F. Batmanghelidj (don't ask me how to pronounce it - batman will do :-)

We all know we should be drinking more water. But most people tend to confuse "fluids" with "water".

This confusion keeps them dehydrated, which if left unchecked, will lead to all sorts of problems. They may manifest themselves as asthma, hypertension, diabetes, raised cholesterol, headaches, migraines, arthritis, depression and many more.

Just because drinks contain water, doesn't mean they hydrate you (tea, coffee, fizzy drinks, alcohol...). There is no substitute for plain WATER.

Don't think because you drink a glass of water and 8 cups of tea a day that you're getting enough water. Far from it. Caffeine containing drinks like the ones I just mentioned all dehydrate you. The caffeine/alcohol content will take more water OUT of your system, then the water content in them puts in.

Aim to drink 8-10 glasses of water (about 2-2.5litres) EVERY DAY. And if you have to have a cup of tea/coffee etc, drink an extra glass of water to compensate for that.

Yes, you'll have to go to the toilet more - if you're kidneys are working properly, then the more you drink, the more you'll pee. Pretty obvious really.

But I highly recommend this book. Another MUST read...