Saturday, 19 February 2011

Training with a new born

My son has just turned 15 months. It has only really been the last few months that he has started to sleep through the night. Before he was born, I was training up to 4 days a week and this routine was working well. I knew I would be in for some sleepless nights but I was unsure on how this would affect my training. What I began to realise was how little sleep you could actually function on, compared to the regular 8 hours you may have had previously. Sleep deprivation will affect your exercise but don't get too dissapointed if you aren't as fired up for your gym sessions like before. You have to accept that some days you will feel good and others not so good. Sleep is also how we recover from a gym session. So if you used to train on consecutive days, or every other, you may need a couple of extra days to aid recovery. Go easy on yourself as well. When training, a general rule of thumb is to improve on your last session. Constant gradual improvement, will enable you to get closer to your goal. If you have had a tough night however, don't worry if you can't match your last session in regards to duration or intensity. The key is to praise yourself for exercising, even if you do less and you will always feel more energetic afterwards!

The next issue becomes time. If you are a full-time mum or dad, or if you both work, time to actually exercise probably becomes more of an issue than sleep. Life will be a juggling act at the best of times, and trying to squeeze a gym session in could be way down your list of priorities. If you are desperate to exercise but don't always have the time to get to the gym or a class, then a short power workout at home is a great way to keep you focused! I invested in a couple of Kettlebells. I fling these around in the bedroom (in a controlled way!), once my son had gone to bed. Although it wasn't the planned session I wanted to do at the gym, I was still getting my muscles working and my heart rate up. This kept my confidence up and didn't let my fitness drop too much before my next visit.

If you don't have dumbells or kit at home, then even body weight exercises are fantastic. Squats, lunges, jumping jacks, pushups, mountain climbers, planks, sprints, etc.

If you are struggling for time, come and see one of our instructors for a home workout. We can build this in to your weekly routine and provide you with some ideas to keep you exercising!

I am told the sleep and time situation about 15 years. Can't wait!


Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Protein for FAT-LOSS

-Here at the sports centre I run a nutritional course called Revive. At Revive, people often join the course to lose weight. Losing weight isn't the term we like to use. Instead we promote 'fat-loss'. If people lose inches, they don't care about the scales. If you maintain your weight and drop body fat, the weight you have maintained will be muscle. Muscle weighs more than fat, and it is important we build muscle for a number of reasons. This is something for a different post. The following are all reasons why you should up your protein intake for fat-loss:

Protein will fill you up.

Protein based foods take more time to break down and they therefore fill you up for longer. If a food is broken down quickly then you will feel hungry sooner. Satisfying your appetite is the key to any fat-loss programme.

Protein keeps your blood sugar levels steady.

Protein will also slow down the rate of digestion of other foods. If you eat certain carbohydrates, you get a rapid rise in blood sugar levels, followed by a dip or the 'sleepy' part of the day. However, combine any form of protein with this and you immediatiely slow down this absorbtion. If you often feel tired after lunch, reduce your carbohydrates and up your protein.

Protein is very low in calories.

Not only does protein fill you up, it is also lower than carbohydrates and fats, in regards to the calories it provides per gram:

Protein = 4
Cartbohydrates = 5
Fats = 9

For fat-loss you need to be reducing your overall calorie intake. If you are doing this without feeling too hungry then you are more likely to maintain your fat-loss goals.

Protein speeds up your metabolism.

A higher metabolism means we burn more calories at rest. Building muscle also raises our metabolism.

Protein promotes the release of the hormone Glucagon.

Glucagon promotes fat-burning. Carbohydrate promotes the release of Insulin, which is a fat-storing hormone. This doesn't mean that carbohydrates are bad for us, but it means you need to get the balance right.

Protein based food include the following:


All fish is a fantastic source of protein. Fresh is best but tinned is great to have in the cupboard to add to meals or as a snack.


Go for unprocessed natural meats. Organic/local produce is even better.


Eggs, cheese, Milk and yoghurt are all good examples. One of my favourites is cottage cheese for a quick and easy source of protein. Eggs are a great way to start the day. Try this simple recipe to combine both and add to a salad or small jacket potato:


2 hard boiled eggs
1/2 tub of cottage cheese
Sea salt
black pepper
(Add a little mustard for extra flavour) 


1. Hard boil eggs and chop.
2. Mix in cottage cheese, mustard and season to taste.
3. You will have a high protein low fat egg salad in no time

   cottage cheese

Vegetarian options:

Dairy again (if not a vegan).

Start increasing your protein intake to your 3 meals a day. If you can also start to incorporate protein based snacks into your day then you will feel even better. Follow this and see how much more energy you will have, simply through controlled blood sugar levels.

I will leave you with some protein based snacks:

· Nuts
· Seeds
· Natural yoghurt
· Cold meats – a fantastic snack for weight maintenance, blood sugar levels and these are low in calories. An example is a chicken drumsticks, slices of ham etc.
· Cottage cheese with oatcakes or rice cakes.
· Protein shake
· Glass of milk
· Celery and peanut butter



Monday, 7 February 2011

Learn Your...

Compound Fundamentals
Essential training regime to increase physical size and strength as well as enhance sporting performance.

Compound lifts utilise multiple large muscle groups and mimic similar ranges of movement to those commonly found in sports. Most professional athletes-particularly those whose disciplines require a particular level of strength or explosive power (i.e rugby players, sprinters) - will perform heavy compound lifts as part of their regime. The exercises shown below are the key foundations to compound lifting and should be perfected before moving on to more elabourate moves later on.


  1. Stand with your feet under the barbell
  2. Bend down without lowering the hips and grip the barbell with your preferred grip outside of either leg.
  3. Bend your kness until your shins are touching the bar.
  4. Lift your head and chest to straighten your spine before lifting.
  5. From this position, continue the movement upwards, lifting with both your hips and knees simultaneously.
  6. Finish in a strong position with shoulders pinned back and hips pushed forwards against the bar.
  7. Return the bar to the floor through the reverse sequence taking care to keep the barbell as close to your body as possible.

Back Squat
  1. Set up the squat rack with the bar racks set at shoulder height and the safety bars set to just above your hips.
  2. Duck under the bar and rest it on your traps at the top of your shoulders, not your neck.
  3. Have your feet slightly wider than hip width at approxiamately the distance apart they would be for performing a standing jump.
  4. The squatting movement should resemble that of sitting on a stool, with the hips 'clearing' (moving backwards) as the knees begin to bend, this will also keep your back straight so try to use this as the catalyst for the whole movement.
Power Upright Row
  1. Lift the bar from the floor as you would during a standard deadlift.
  2. Once at the top, return the bar to approximately knee height maintaining spine angle as shown below.
  3. From this position, complete the remainder of the upwards phase of the deadlift powerfully so that the bar can continue to move past its usual resting point.
  4. Using your shoulders, keep the bar moving upwards, keep your elbows above your hands at all times to utilise your shoulders as much as possible.
  5. Bring the bar as close to your collarbones as possible before allowing it to return to the rest position at the top of the deadlift.
  6. As with all compound exercises, try to keep the weight close to your body throughout to avoid injury.
Push Press
  1. Set the squat rack up as you would do for a squat, with the bar racks at shoulder height. The safety bars may not be required.
  2. Lift the bar from the racks and hold it in a relaxed position across the front of the chest. (Clean hang).
  3. Bend at the hips and knees slightly before each repetition.
  4. As your legs straighten explosively, drive the bar overhead until your arms are straight.
  5. Carefully lower the bar back to shoulder height, once again bending at the hips and knees to 'catch' the weight as it falls.
  6. Repeat, remembering to use your legs throughout the entire set.

What to do....

Each of these exercise uses a key aspect of more advanced, dynamic compound lifts which can be learnt in due course. Establish a solid foundation by perfecting the exercises shown here with particular emphasis on form and fluidity of movement as opposed to weight.

To do this effectively, keep the weight the same for all four exercises-this will help you to improve strength in the areas you are weaker whilst developing  the explosive power and speed of movement required for compound lifting in elements such as the deadlift and squat.

Perform 3-4 sets of 6-8 reps of each exercise.