Friday, 6 July 2012

Need to get back to blogging!

Soooo..... Long time, no chat!

I've really been pretty damn poor when it comes to maintaining this here blog. Not really got a good excuse, just been busy at the gym, trying to build a client base and keeping on top of everything that needs doing!

But here I am, back again. Ive been working hard to try to block my time better and build better structure into my days. The better I am at doing this, the more time I can free up to do what I'd like to be doing. Not always easy, but worth putting the effort in for!

I thought I'd put down a few thoughts and get the ball rolling on this again.

1. While most people in the gym are looking for fatloss, most are going about it entirely the wrong way. Endless hours on cardio, then the girls go half heartedly lifting teeny tiny weights for endless reps so they dont get bulky and guys do endless bicep curls.


If its fat loss you are chasing, you need to lift something heavy enough to challenge you for around 8 - 12 reps, for 10 to 12 total sets, then finish with some kind of interval training. You'll create a fat burning sh!t storm that will last for hours after you finish your training session.

And for the love of all that is holy, tidy up your diet!

2. Mirrors should be banned from the gym floor. If I see another semi-ripped dude lift his shirt to check to see if his ripped abz are still there, I'm gonna hit him with something...

3. Lots of people don't really understand what Personal Trainers actually do. No we don't stand over you shouting at you to do 1 more rep! with some random exercise selection thatll get you nowhere while we pocket your hard earned cash.
We motivate, encourage, guide, congratulate and help you correct all the imbalances you have whilst creating a better, stronger, leaner and generally more awesome version of you!

Not so good, its this type of thing that give us a bad name...

4. Time management is important, regardless of what you do. The more planning you do for your days, the more time you will free up. Sounds odd but its absolutely true! Plan your day, stick to it and enjoy the freedom it'll create. I would highly recommend Craig Ballantines' Time Management ebook. Some great tips in there and I have no issue recommending it highly!

5. I've been stalling on some of my lifts, deadlifts have plateaued at 175kg, squats are brutal, bench is stalled at 100kg for 4 and my military press is shameful. What to do? Jim Wendlers 5, 3, 1. Thats what. 1 week in and all is going well so far. That said, I'm only 1 week in...we'll see where it leads but its forcing me to evaluate my weeknesses and start attacking them.

6. When it comes to fat loss, 2 factors matter more than anything:

Intensity over duration...every single time!

and, Nutrition

And thats it. For now....I am gonna try to be better at posting to here.

In the meanwhile,

Stay Healthy.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

If you are struggling to drop body fat, or find you have reached a sticking point consider the following...

You are eating carbs at the wrong time...

For most people any time is the wrong time. I would recommend lots of veggies and some post workout rice, pasta or potatoes. And  once per week on your cheat day.

Otherwise limit carb consumption to post workout and night time. You don’t want to load up on starchy carbs during the day to avoid the post carb crash and stay alert throught the day. Save for them for your evening meal so you can improve serotonin production and enhance your bodys ability to recover.

You’re Not Eating Enough Protein

Generally women are more guilty of this but guys can make this mistake as well.
Most resources would recommend around 100 grams of protein per day, if not a gram per pound, so for a 9 stone woman for example, that would be 126g protein per day.

People who eat a sufficient amount of protein usually end up having an easier time getting lean than those who don’t.

Your liver is over worked

 Everything that goes into your body has to be processed by the liver.
That means piece of chicken, tomato, biscuit, pringle, alcoholic drink, juice or glass of water that enters the body puts a stress on the liver.   If you are constantly eating and drinking less than optimally and overstressing the liver, fat loss will become that bit more difficult. Reduce or cut out alcohol, eat more organic, grass fed (as opposed to grain fed) meats, and try periods of intermittent fasting to reduce the stress on your liver and fat loss should become easier. For a guide to Intermittent Fasting, check out this awesome link.

You’re eating too much fruit and/ or nuts.

Huh? What about my 5 a day?? Fruit is great, I love it, but fruit is sugar, and while its great in limited amounts, fructose (a sugar found in fruit) is sugar and excess amounts can lead to fat gain.
Fructose can only be processed by the liver and once liver glycogen stores are full the excess gets converted to triglycerides and stored as body-fat. If you want to get lean cut fruit out for a while or limit it to one or two servings per day. Make sure you maintain your 5 a day habit (5 is really a bare minimum, I personally would aim for double figures, its easier than you think!) by increasing your veggie intake to ensure you get all the necessary nutrients these provide.

You are doing too much cardio...

Typical cardio training sessions are pretty much useless for fat loss.
Excessive amounts of cardio (anything above about 15 mins of steady state cardio) leads to an increase of cortisol which in turn leads to more abdominal fat.
 And no-one should ever find themselves on an cross trainer. Ever.

Best use of a cross trainer ever...

You’re not getting enough sleep.

When you’re short on sleep your insulin sensitivity decreases and your cortisol goes up. Both things lead to less than optimal fat loss.
You also miss out on the critically important Growth Hormone boost that comes each night during deep sleep. If you want to lose more fat you have to get more sleep. Most people ignore this factor when it comes to fat loss, unfortunately this just might be the most important factor of all of the above.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

What I've learned from my time in the happy land that is retail...

So, one of my dreams is about to come true. I'm gonna be able to do what I love full time! 

A bit of background...I fell into the world of retail by chance. I'd lost my job and bumped into an old friend who was a department manager in store in Edinburgh and he got me a temporary contract. I thought it would be a way to tide me over for a while so I took it. To cut the story short, I got kept on and fell into the retail trap. One thing led to another and got into a couple of luxury stores and BAM! 8 years later, my soul was gradually being sucked out.

So I took the chance to try and make my passion into my career. Throughout my while time working in retail, my hobby of training and fitness developed into my passion. I went andstudied for the qualifications over an 18 month period, and started to formalise my learning. The more I learned, the more I loved it and the more I realised I was on the right track. That the decision to follow my dream was the right one! Surprise surprise huh?!

So, after starting out with a few clients on my own, I'm about to start in a commercial gym full time as a Personal Trainer. I cannot wait!

Seriously, I've not been this excited in a loooooooooong time!

But  my time in retail hasn't been wasted completely. I've made some good friends, learnt a lot and improved my communication skills and selling abilities. Not to mention I've gotten a few really nice suits... :)

So, a few things I've learned from selling rich folks expensive clothing that will be of use in the future...
  • Customer service is really really important. You may well have the best product on the market, but if you treat your customers like crap, they will go elsewhere.
  • While the customer is always right, more often than not don't know what the hell they are talking about or looking for. 
  • You have to know your product in order to be able to sell it to the right person. 
  • The further up the management tree you look, the less in touch with reality the people you find are.
  • If you go the extra mile for a client, they will always come back to you.
  • You have to listen to the client, then use your smarts to figure out what exactly it is they want. They usually have no clear idea what that actually is.
  • You can't judge a book by its cover. A cliche I know, but talk to everyone the same way and you get a better reaction and build a better relationship than if you try to judge before you choose who to speak to.
I feel all the above points will help me in the personal training career I'm about to embark on,  I would love to say I've enjoyed life in retail, but I would be lying. I can't wait to take my learning to another level, and put my knowledge and skills into practice. I can't wait to see where this will take me!
I'm glad I've found a way to make my dream a reality. Wish everyone could be so lucky!

Stay healthy.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Which body type are you?

If you are dutifully plodding along to the gym, doing a cookie cutter program from a magazine or website, eating well, you might be overlooking a factor that will have a pretty big effect on your success in the gym - your body type. Thats right, your body's basic shape and traits will have pros and cons when it comes to bulking up and slimming down.

This overview will give you an idea of how to tailor your training, nutrition and supplements to maximise results.

There are 3 body types:

  •  ectomorph - the skinny guy, the hard gainer.
  •  endomorph - the chunky guy, the hard loser.
  • mesomorph - The lucky guy, hard luck to the rest of us
Here's a look at the pros and cons of each...



An ectomorph is a typical skinny guy, this is the guy who can eat all day and their super fast metabolism burns through it all like wildfire. Generally ectos have a smaller build with small joints and lean muscle.Usually they will be long limbed with narrow shoulders. Think Will Smith or Angelina Jolie ( although in my opinion she has gone way too skinny recently...)









Pros of being a hard gainer:

Fast metabolism
Can lose fat very quickly

Cons of said hard gainer:

Hard gainer
Narrower shoulders
Hard to gain weight
Smaller bone structure
Fast metabolism (thats right, I put it in both, gift and a curse!)

Ectomorphs find it very hard to gain weight. They have a fast metabolism which burns up calories very quickly meaning we need a huge amount of calories in order to gain weight. Workouts should be short and intense focusing on big muscle groups. Cardio can be cut back as gaining weight is difficult enough.
I would definitely recommend supplements.  Generally, ectomorphs can lose fat very easily which makes cutting back to lean muscle easier for them.


A mesomorph has a large bone structure, large muscles and a naturally athletic physique. Mesomorphs make for great body builders, their natural shape and ability to put on muscle is a great place to start! They find it quite easy to gain and lose weight. They tend to be naturally strong which is the perfect base for building muscle.

Think Daniel Craig or Gabrielle Reece.

Pros of being a mesomorph:
Naturally athletic in shape
Gain muscle easily

Cons of being a mesomorph:
Gains fat easily
Need to watch their calorie intake 

The mesomorph body type responds the best to weight training with gains usually seen very quickly, especially for beginners. The downside to mesomorphs is they gain fat more easily than ectomorphs. This means they must watch their calorie intake. Usually a combination of weight training and cardio works best for mesomorphs.


The endomorph body type is stockier and generally soft. Endomorphs gain fat easily and are usually of a shorter build with thick arms and legs. Generally they are strong, especially the upper legs, usually are naturally strong in leg exercises like the squat.

Think  Russell Crowe or Dita Von Teese

Pros of being an Endomorph:

Usually naturally strong
Gain muscle easily

Cons of being an endomorph:
Gains fat easily
Shorter limbs
Harder to drop fat
Slow metabolism
    When it comes to training endomorphs find it very easy to gain weight. Unfortunately, a large portion of this weight is fat not muscle. To keep fat gain to a minimum, endomorphs should watch their calorie intake and train cardio as well as weights. Supplements may not be needed as long as the person has a high protein intake in their diet.

    There it is, a basic look at body types.These are general guides to somatotypes and you may find that you are a mix of two. But if you are aware of your body type and know what the pros and cons are then you know how to tailor your training and nutrition to maximise your results.

    And remember that regardless of your body type, your genetics won't hold you back from an awesome body if you take care of your nutrition and train hard!

    Stay healthy.

    Thursday, 15 March 2012

    A little common sense

    Sometimes things are too good to be true. And generally if something sounds too good to be true, it is.

    A pill that will strip all that fat. Nope.
    30 sec abz. Not gonna happen.
    Getting bitten by a radioactive spider that gives you superpowers. Erm... 

    Unfortunately, if you are out of shape, got a body fat percentage double what it should be and the eating habits of Homer Simpson, the only "magic" solution is consistent, directed hard work, both nutritionally and with your training.

    Sorry, but thats all that is gonna get the job done. You can certainly mix things up a little and some fun with it,  but you have to be willing to put in some effort to get what you want!

    What you need is a solid training plan. Then you need to follow it. All the way through. Program jumping is only gonna leave you frustrated and no further forward than where you started.

    You need a good nutrition plan. And guess what? You need to stick to it.

    You need to set your goals. Then get about ticking them off.

    So, your mission is this -
    • pick a program from a coach you know gets results, or
    • start working with a trainer with a reputation for getting great results.
    • See the program through to the end
    • find a solid nutrition plan which isn't gimmick based, and stick to it!
    • get great results!

    And you know what? The results will come. Work hard and stay dedicated past the novelty stage and they could come quicker than you thought possible.

    But if you rely on the quick fix, the magic bullet or something suspiciously too good to be true, then you'll be spinning your wheels and throwing good money after bad.

    So, next time you think of trying super abz 3001 or super phat burn3r magic pill. Ask yourself if it sounds too good to be true.

    It probably is...

    Stay healthy

    Monday, 12 March 2012

    The Linkz 12th March 2012

    I suck.
    This was supposed to go out on Friday of last week and I get a little good news and BAM! my brain goes and forgets to do stuff!
    Since you ask, I got a job with Virgin at one of their gyms here in Edinburgh, not only do I get to build more experience training folks, but I get to go to work in trainers and get access to a shit ton of continuing education! Win-win if you ask me.

    So, a couple of days late but here are the best of the linkz from last week (with a couple of bonuses from the weekend to make up for the lateness!)

    First off Harold Gibbons on front squats and SLDLs

    Tony Gentilcore has a couple of the things that bother him about the fitness industry

    Zach Moore with a great interview with Rick Kaselj, and zach has moved over to

    Scott Hansen guests on Dean Somersets blog, 3 simple fixes for common problems

    Chad Waterbury with an awesome interview with Dr McGill on T-Nation

    Ben Bruno is a strong strong dude, despite supposedly suspect genetics.

    Elite FTS comes with an awesome 3 parter on techniques for advanced lifters, part 1, part 2 and part 3.

    John Romaniello has a knack for coming up with clever article titles...

    Jason Ferruggia hits you with 50 renegade nutrition tips

    Nia Shanks follows up Lift like a girl with Lift like a girl part 2.

    Molly Galbraith and the art of the deload

    Neghar Fonooni apparently is a nut butter nut... 

    Marianne Kane gets motivated

    Precision Nutrition asks why are you still using a microwave? 

    Tony Gentilcore with miscellaneous Monday.

    John Meadows brings chains and bands from powerlifting to bodybuilding

    And since you are reading all this (and you are reading this stuff right??) Mark Young has some advice on what you read on the Personal Training Development Centre

    Read, enjoy and use some of this stuff!

    Stay healthy.

    Wednesday, 7 March 2012

    Top 5 supplements

    I love to eat. I really do, and I eat a lot!
    But its often necessary to add to what you eat by using supplements. Here are my top 5...

    Whey protein

    Our bodies need proteins and their component amino acids to produce the enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, and antibodies that alllow our bodies to function optimally. Without an adequate protein intake, our bodies just can’t function well. Protein helps replace worn out cells, assists in transporting various substances throughout the body, and importantly for us gym junkies, aids in growth and repair.

    How much protein you ask? Well it, like so many other things, depends, mostly on your activity level.
    The minimum recommendation for protein intake is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight for untrained, generally healthy adults.  This amount will only prevent protein deficiency however. For those of us who train regularly and hard, the optimal amount is higher. For people doing high intensity training, protein needs might go up to about 1.4-2.0 g/kg of body weight. To use me as an example, at 94kgs, I take in between 131 and 188g of protein each day.

    This is the one I use, the vanilla is great!


    First a quick science lesson...
    For quick and powerful movements lasting fewer than 10 seconds, such as a sprint, the energy demands are met by the phosphate energy system. This system uses ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which provides energy to the working cells. Muscles have an existing amount of ATP ready for action, but only enough for a few seconds work. ATP is broken down by removing a phosphate, which turns it into adenosine diphosphate (two phosphates). The energy released during this reaction is what fuels the muscle contractions.  To make more ATP, the muscles need to get the missing third phosphate from somewhere. Creatine, or more exactly creatine phosphate, is that somewhere.
    It gives up its phosphate so that ADP can once again become ATP again, ready for the cycle to begin again and allow you to continue with the sprint etc

    This is the pack I use.

    Fish oil

    It’s rich in two groups of omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EHA), also found in things like flax and walnuts.
    Omega-3s are very important for health, including
    • cardiovascular function
    • nervous system function and brain development
    • immune health
    • cell membranes
    • DHA and EPA, can increase metabolism.

    Since we can't make omega 3 (or 6) fatty acids in our bodies, they need to come from our diet. Omega 6 is the easy one...plant oils,  corn fed animals and vegetable oils which are in almost all processed foods mean that our omega 6 levels are often close to 20 times the levels of omega 3, when we should have a 1:1 ratio of omega 3:omega 6.

    I use this one.

    Vitamin D

    Studies show that low vitamin D levels are associated with:
    • Increased loss of muscle strength and mass as we age
    • Increased risk of cancers
    • Lower levels of immunity
    • Higher blood pressure
    • The development of neurological disorders
    • The development of diabetes 
    First of all, you should know that vitamin D isn't really a vitamin, we don't need food to get it. Sunlight allows the body to create vitamin D. Sunshine will give most of it, (glass and sun cream will block most of it) and since we are not in the sunniest climate we need an alternative source...1000 - 2000 IU per day is recommended.

    I use this one.


    Ah caffeine. Love it!
    Its the worlds most commonly used drug and its effects are well known. After about 30 mins of consumption, alertness and awareness are improved peaking about 60 mins after consumption. Around 3 mg/kg of body weight are recommended, so for me at 94kgs, 282mg is the dosage to achieve performance effects (around 3 cups of instant coffee at 95 mg/cup) although 3 cups of coffee before a workout is only gonna end in a puddle on the floor... A caffeine tablet or energy drink would work too.

    More than 400mg/day is considered too much, as it'll start to give you the shakes and lead to anxiety and irritability.

    Try to only use it when you need it as consistent use will cause you to become less effected by it and you lose the potential benefits.


    I always try to over deliver (or under promise...) so here is number 6 on the list!

    Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)

    The BCAAs  (leucine, isoleucine, and valine0 are, which are the only amino acids not degraded in the liver. All other amino acids are regulated by the intestine and the liver before distributin to elsewhere in the body. BCAAs are burned for energy during exercise,making them an important source of fuel during exercise and are key to the synthesis of protein.

    To encourage protein synthesis and therefore muscle growth, you need to have an adequate source of BCAAs in your bloodstream (particularly leucine) in your system during and/or after your workout.
    A carb, protein and bcaa drink during and after your training session is hugely important if you want to not head down the slippery slope of catabolism!You can add BCAAs into your post workout shake at around 5g /hour of training.

    I use these

    I would just like to say that I don't receive a penny from my recommendations of any of the above products, but if anyone from reads this...I wouldn't complain if some supps were to find themselves coming my way...

    Stay healthy.