Issue 52:
Summers on its way, get ready to hit the beach!

Does the weather affect our mood?
Personally when the suns shining and the sky is clear my training gets an extra injection of vigour and a radical boost in intensity, my sleeping patterns become more regular and waking up in a morning becomes less taxing, but is there any science behind it?

In October 2008 a group of German scientists examined how six variables, wind, temperature, sunlight, precipitation, air pressure and length of the day could effect mood on more than 1200 participants.

The results concludes that the effect of good weather on participants mood was relatively minor, however windy dark and cold days in many cases negatively effected the mindset of the participants. Its been a long hard winter in Leeds this year, if you have felt the impact of the gloomy winter, make sure you utilise the full potential of the upcoming season being constructive with the months to achieve your maximum potential.

What factors do you consider when choosing a gym?
Price? Convenience? Facilities? Pool/sauna? location? All these are very important, however after working and training in many gyms around the country, I can conclusively say the environment should be the deciding factor on choosing your gym, if you wish to get the most out of your training.

Do any of you feel that the gym you currently train at is incredibly clinical and empty of character?
Gyms are springing up left right and centre with their primary focus to make money. If you go to view a gym, ask yourself this question, "has this gym been created with the user in mind or simply to make wads of cash?"
Being a personal trainer I have used more gyms than the average bear. Some of these gyms were fortunate enough never to have a visit from the health inspector, as I'm confident they would have been instantly condemned. Despite them being tired and a little dirty, something kept drawing me back. Workouts are always a pleasure with the atmosphere filled with everyone chasing that ideal physique and an abundance of experienced trainees there to offer help and guidance.

These are often the establishments situated in more obscure parts of the city, in locations you would never expect to find a gym, these are the hidden gems. So get yourself on a treasure hunt and I guarantee it will supercharge your training.

Thank you for reading,

"To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often."
Winston Churchill

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Issue 50:
My Valentines Muscle Massacre

I'm writing this after receiving a rather different experience of body torture, not my usual extreme workout but my regular hard sports massage followed totally new aspect to me, if you have looked at the photos before reading the article you may be thinking I have participated in a wild fetish, covering me in enormous perfectly spherical bruises. In actual fact I tried the ancient art of Chinese cupping, this uses the combination of a burning cotton ball and a glass jar to create a vacuum of air on the skin.

This treatment has been used for cold and flu symptoms, removing toxins and eliminating some muscular problems. The bruising will subside after a few days however if you personally have a hot date on the cards I personally would give this a miss unless your desperate for a conversation starter. In this issue I wanted to inspire some new ideas, and give some brand new exercises to incorporate into a routine.

Bosu split squat
This is an amazing leg and core exercise providing exceptional stability around the knee and hips, the majority of gyms have bosu balls at their disposal, however if you don't have access to a bosu, you can elevate your back foot on a step (its a more stable surface and reduces the muscle activation but still works the legs hard). Place your back foot on the bosu ball, keeping your chest upright and lowering yourself in a controlled manner, as low as you can without allowing your hips to move out of alignment, start with bodyweight working to 20 reps then add weight to the movement such as the use of a kettlebell in my photos.

Single leg deadlift to row
This is another great stability exercise working many muscles groups simultaneously and recruits your motor skills for balance, the core and posterior chain are the main muscle groups used, and special attention is required as balance is key to this exercise. My clients who have tried this exercise all agree it takes a few attempts to feel comfortable but the rewards are great. Execution of the single leg deadlift is keep your back straight throughout the movement, dropping the glutes back while raising your back leg to counterbalance the dumbbell, this should give a great stretch through the hamstring, when your body is parallel to the floor pull the dumbbell or kettlebell back to the ribcage, lower the weight and stand back up erect.

Kettlebell swings
Kettlebell swings have a positive impact on not only the muscles but also the cardiovascular system and definitely should leave you feeling the burn not only in your glutes but your lungs too. To perform this exercise start light, an 8kg or 12kg should do the trick. A common misconception for this exercise is the force is generated from the shoulders, actually the majority of drive is from the hips. Your back should remain straight (muscles tight and chest up) if your posture looks like you should be ringing bells in Nottradamm something is going horribly horribly wrong. Bend your knees similar to a squat and explode your hips through to generate the momentum to carry your arms up, then in a controlled manner you will return to the start position, without loosing the velocity of the swing. Repeat the movement for 30 seconds to a minute.

TRX trainer
You may have never seen a TRX trainer as they have only been commercially available for a few years. Suspension training offers so many benefits away from conventional resistance training as it uses only bodyweight and gravity. The TRX is an extremely versatile piece of equipment as it can be simply attached behind the door frame using the anchor that is provided or to a tree in the garden. With a huge list of exercises enabling people on the move to have a mobile gym in their suitcase the TRX is definitely a magnificent piece of equipment. Suspension trainer triceps extension. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, arms fully extended, feet back and lean to about 20 degrees, the more advanced and strength you get the greater the angle will need to be, bend your elbows and bring the handles to the temples and return to the start position.

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Issue 49:

Picture yourself
The clocks chimed 12 and Auld Lang Syne has been recited, seriously who knows the words? After all the fun and games, what will your new years resolution be? Ditch the fags, cut down on the moonshine or even get the body of your dreams. Whatever it is, get a photo of what you most desire and pin it to the fridge. This will give positive reinforcement you need to keep you on the right tracks.

Little pebbles
The best way to achieve a large goal is to break it up into bitesize chunks, its easier to move a mountain a few pebbles at a time. If losing weight is the goal set manageable targets. I like to use the SMART goals technique.

  • Specific – To lose 14lbs and gain some lean muscle mass by training 4 times a week and eating super clean.

  • Measurable – This can be done weekly on the scales Monday morning before eating or drinking and keeping a log of your progress

  • Attainable – The goal should be inspiring enough that it motivates you to success.

  • Realistic - Make sure its realistic and a goal you personally have set, friends have said they would like to lose 20lbs in 2 weeks, my reply was "have you ever considered amputation?" Brutal but true, aim for around 2lbs a week and you should be onto a winner.

  • Time based – Choose a time scale, losing 14lbs in 7 weeks is a goal but breaking it up as I mentioned before will help progress, so 2lbs a week makes it feel less daunting.

Above the picture you have stuck on the fridge write down your goal, and every time you are about to reach for anything that could damage your progress you will be reminded about your planned trip to ab town.

Try a new supplement
Supplements are a fantastic way to give you that little boost with your training, if my training needs an enthusiasm injection I try a new supplement. Many supplements can be very glamorised and damaging to the wallet so its best to stick to the tried and tested supplements such as:

  • Whey protein – Boost up nitrogen levels and amino acids to boost muscle regeneration.

  • Fish oils – Compromising of essential fatty acids which can help lower body fat, help joints and hormone secretion within the body and for the ladies will strengthen hair and nails better than many of the products on the market today, aiming for two 1000mg capsules with every meal.

I would like to thank Extreme Nutrition as recently they have been kind enough to sponsor me for my aims to compete again next year, they provide a great service and products with scientific evidence, for products and information check out

Thank you for reading and lets together to start a great new year!!

"Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever."
Lance Armstrong

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Issue 48:

Let's all look lean and sexy for Santa this year with my 5 top tips

Keep a diary
When I write out a diet plan for my clients the first stage is always getting them to write a journal over the past 7 days, I've found this a very effective first step to acknowledging there maybe some aspects that need changing, the usual reaction is "WOW I never thought my diet is this poor". Binges late at night of chocolate or Ben and Jerry's might only seem a little but could really rack up some big numbers over a week. if you were to consume 500 calories less per day that's a whole pound of fat gone in a week, imagine if you got in that routine, potentially you could lose a stone in about 3 months, and it would be more likely to stay of as it's a habitual change.

Fitted Wardrobe?
You lose weight, treat yourself to a new wardrobe to cater for you new leaner measurements. This is definitely a great way to look and feel better about yourself and gives a great sense of accomplishment that you will be reminded of every time you open the wardrobe doors. Then give your previous clothes to the charity shop, after all it is the season of good will. As well as you helping towards some very commendable causes, regression is less appealing because the thought of buying yet another wardrobe of bigger clothes is enough to keep anyone on the right track.

Sex me up Scotty
Sex can be a great way to increase vitality in life providing a huge surge of endorphins during orgasm, which can help to strengthen the immune system and contribute to fighting off runny noses this winter with the added benefits that they are the brains feel good chemical. It's also been proven to burn up to a massive 300 calories per hour which compared to 30 minutes on the x trainer it's a close call. Now don't go throwing cardio sessions out the window just yet in exchange for encounters under the sheets, but both have the benefits of helping towards that overall goal.

Sleep yourself Thinner?
With sleep deprivation cortisol (the stress hormone that breaks down muscle tissue for energy) increases, decreasing metabolic rate making weight loss and muscle gain more difficult. Lack of sleep also reduces the bodies insulin levels. A recent study showed that after 3 nights of sleep deprivation insulin sensitivity in the test subjects was as if the participants gained 30lbs. This reduction in sensitivity means carbohydrates couldn't be processed as efficiently increasing the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. So getting to bed that bit earlier could help preserve more muscle and burn carbohydrates faster and more efficiently.

Try some new veggies.
I was walking through the supermarket the other day and I was astonished at the selection of amazing vegetables they had in such vibrant colours, shapes and sizes. I bought more veg than normal, one being a purple cauliflower. I investigated before dropping it in the basket, after all it's not often you eat anything the same colour as grandmas bedroom, but after a sneaky look on my mobiles internet I found it was an antioxidant that caused the violet colour. A bit of diversity in our lives even if it's on our plates can keep life that little bit more interesting, you may find something you love.

'Success is a science; if you have the conditions, you get the result.'
Oscar Wilde

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Issue 47:

The darker nights are heading our way but here are 5 tips to brighten up this autumn

Didn't your mum always say "eat your greens?" Barley grass and wheat grass are the cornerstones of good supplementation. Now supplements are never a dietary excuse to eat badly, they simply give additional nourishment in areas we may need a little boost. Wheat grasses mineral content includes calcium, sodium, iron, magnesium and potassium, as well as some trace minerals. Barley grass is very high in organic sodium, calcium, iron and some B vitamins so on top of all those veggies and fruit you're eating, you will be on to a winner.
I personally buy 250gm of each, mix it up and have as required, taking smaller doses at first as its quite a powerful detox. Starting with a quarter of a teaspoon twice a day and slowly building up to half a teaspoon twice a day, will help make you feel good inside and out.

Eat Breakfast
This is often neglected and I hear it time and time again, missing breakfast can have a devastating effect on weight loss. This is because when we are asleep our metabolic rates slow down and kick start when we eat.
I always like to use the analogy of the body is like a fire, if we throw on small twigs on a regular basis the fire burns brighter, however if a log is thrown onto the fire it has to take time to start the blaze again.
The body responds exactly the same to large portions, so eating little and often is the key to staying trim and keeps that internal fire ablaze.

Tighten up that waistline with pilates
Ok, so you probably won't shed those pounds overnight with Pilates as its fairly low intensity. However, it does have its benefits.When you learn to contract your pelvic floor while doing exercise it helps to control and draw in your lower abdomen, giving the impression of a smaller waist and a tighter stomach. It will also help any big lifters out as having a stronger core is like having your own internal weights belt wrapped around you 24/7, protecting you against injury. Last time I checked, hernias and slipped discs are pretty low on the gym goers agenda.

Laughter is the best medicine.
Try and laugh as many times a day as you can without looking like a gibbering idiot. This relieves tension and decreases the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn boosts the immune system and relaxes the muscles for up to 45 minutes. According to a study, adults laugh on average 15 times per day while children laugh around 400 times a day, let's see if we can kick start the giggles and find the child within.

It sounds vain, but if you look around the gym at some of the physiques, why is it the guys with some of the most definition are the ones who pose between sets? This first became apparent to me when I was practicing for my first show and my right side started to get much better muscle separation. Just look at the gymnasts holding isometric contractions (without movement) the results speak volumes after only a few weeks. I'm not saying it has to be obvious, but between leg exercises for example, I get my clients to tense their quads as hard as they can for 30 seconds, forcing more blood into the muscle and flushing out waste products, then straight back into squats. This also helps to increase the mind and muscle connection allowing much better contractions during weight training.

"I hated every minute of training, but I said, "Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion."
Muhammad Ali

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Issue 46:

The Summer of Love is upon us but there's still time to shape up with weights.

Through training my clients and extensive reading the single best ways to shed that unwanted stubborn body fat and shape up for that looming holiday or just to feel good in less clothes this summer.

Lets cut to the chase, weights for women are great!! Unfortunately many women either choose to ignore weights or use the equivalent to bean tins which don't give the body a reason to change or adapt, my philosophy is if you don't feel the muscle groups are fatigued after a set its likely the weight is too light or more reps were possible.

Its been proven that losing fat from one specific area isn't possible if it is lost it must be from all over the body, despite what the likes of 6 second abs would have you believe. The fact is, the bigger exercise the more calories burnt, such as step-ups and lunges.

My girlfriend is often my training partner. Like many women she was intimidated by weights at first, but after a chat about women having a harder time than men getting "BIG" due to lack of testosterone, She was comforted. She has since noticed a dramatic change in her body through weights. Together we perform the same workouts, however for women I recommend slightly higher reps such as sets of 15.

Please don't be afraid to ever up your weights on the previous week, and when you feel like you could do another 5 reps just go for it, if its safe to do so.

My challenge to you is see how many bodyweight split squats you can do consecutively with your back foot on a bosu ball and email me the results.

As a male whatever the physique you desire, if its Brad Pitt fight club (I hear this one a lot) to Arnold Schwarzenegger (NOT SO MUCH). One common factor is they all weight trained with big compound movements this being a multi joint exercise such as:

Lower body: Squats, lunges, deadlifts, step ups, leg press (single leg is best in my opinion)

Upper body : Barbell rows, pull-ups or pull downs, dumbbell press, shoulder press, upright rows.

These all provide the basic outline of a solid physique then with some isolation movements thrown in for good measure to bring out some detail and target lagging muscles, don't neglect legs it provides such a huge surge in growth boosting and bodyfat lowering hormones in your body its vital to train them.

From my experience in competing and with my clients, the best way to perform these movements to lean up are in upper and lower splits, with 4-5 working sets per muscle, so make those sets count guys if you cant be in and out within an hour your working too slow and to torch even more fat superset opposite muscle groups.

I try to keep things fresh for my clients and me, so no two workouts are the same. As Albert Einstein once said "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results"

Some of the above movements are tricky to master so the guidance of a recommended Trainer to put you on the right track is a good way to get started.

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