Tag Archives: knowledge

Why inclusivity is destroying fitness.

Controversial, right?

In a world where everyone is now special, needs a cuddle and has to have everything just as they need it otherwise a safe space, blanket and glass of warm milk are required, we’re truly becoming detached from reality.

Don’t get me wrong, or do, it doesn’t really matter.

Being inclusive and trying to appeal to a wide audience isn’t the devil, however it is leading to people putting feelings above what is perhaps needed or practical.

While feelings matter if we don’t ever learn to deal with the uncomfortable ones we can’t grow as a person.

Too much people now and everything spoon fed to them.

The regression to a childlike attitude in the growing population of adults is frightening because as time goes on and the larger majority become mentally softer it leaves the door wide open for nasty things to happen.

Without hardship you can’t develop a level of toughness required to survive.

You can see it in fitness across the modern world.

Pandering, kid gloves, pointless praise and more.

It’s the adult equivalent to pinning up a child’s picture of a macaroni owl on the fridge and saying – “Wow, this is so GOOD” when in truth you know it’s a piece of shit that looks nothing like an owl and that it was made in the dark using their feet, yet you say it does to protect their feelings.

Yet you teach a child that for something else to go on the fridge it needs to be better than this… ‘owl’…. tough as it might be it helps the child grow and start to appreciate the need for standards, effort and ‘good work’.

Praise is only given when deserved, it shouldn’t be on tap.

If it is then it means nothing.

These days though there can’t be any negativity because negativity (constructive criticism) is the devil!

It’s not you know, it’s a necessary and essentially part of life.

Being all inclusive and trying to cater for everyone (in fitness) is the same as leaving the tap of praise running.

We need structure, we need levels of hierarchy (yes, I said it) because this helps uphold a standard and allows for people and the industry to grow.

Why lie to people and tell them they’re doing well when in reality their standard/quality of fitness/result is akin to that of the macaroni owl.

True enough everyone starts somewhere.

This doesn’t mean that we bring down everyone else level/standard to appease the bottom feeders.

Dragging everyone else down to make others feel better is backwards, this is why inclusivity and catering for everyone is destroying fitness and even overall standards across the broad scale of life, in my opinion anyway because that’s all these ramblings are.

While many won’t agree that people need to find a level or as some say ‘their place’ in the world, without such things in place to sort the wheat from the chaff and provide the protectors and people who will do what is needed, the door will be left wide open for some nasty things to come through it without any resistance.

What do you think?

Please do share your thoughts below.


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Hello life stress, my old friend

On a scale of 1 to ‘for the love of all that is holy, not again’
How stressful is your life?
The other day a video found its way from my phone to the mythical place where dreams are born and also go to die; Instagram.
A classic satire piece about people who claim stress is the cause of al their problems.
Specifically stubborn fat, classically belly fat.
While this may indeed be true in some cases, plus there is some info worth delving in to regarding excessively elevated levels of cortisol, insulin resistance and a whole host of other things such as adrenal fatigue, that amount of excessive and sustained stress isn’t not that common.
Ah, I can hear it all ready – “Well you don’t know me, blah blah blah.”
Okay, I get it, you’re special and your life is far harder than everyone else’s. Now hush and go back to your doughnut.
We tend to take our bodies for granted you know.
Stress, while a tragic an horrible thing to be under, it’s not quite a simple as people think.
I’m sure you’ve heard the terms eustress & distress.
If you haven’t then this is a nice play to start and you can delve further from here:
Here is what they mean in short:
Eustress – positive stress
Distress – negative stress
When people come under fire from life they see it immediately as the negative form, which it might be however it might not, a topic for another day.
So you’re under a lot of stress, thus gaining fat is the result.
Because the stress is making you overeat, which it kinda is and at the same time you’re making the choice to over eat due to how it makes you feel (habit = trigger, response, reward etc).
To combat this you go to the gym and absolutely destroy yourself with all the HIIT (which isn’t really HIIT), multiple classes and 2+ hour sessions as the norm 11 days per week.
Yet you still continue to gain fat.
Stress clearly is the culprit, or is it?
Well yes and no, you see the truth is this; the picture is far bigger than you’re perhaps willing to see and stress is perhaps only one, or maybe three pieces out of a 100 piece puzzle.
Yet given how it’s easy to blame and vilify we will do that instead of seeking the root cause/other factors.
Fun fact; you need stress to survive 🤗
One of the main reasons we are where we are is because of our ability to adapt and overcome multiple stressors.
Pretty neat right?
Right, I’m rambling so I better get to the point.
Stop blaming everything on stress because it’s not the only factor.
Here is a simple 5 step guide to help you become better:
1 – Keep a diary that is 100% honest & true (food, feelings the lot)
2 – Take a good long look at the diary and see what is going on
3 – Find gaps in your life, such as poor sleep, poor food quality etc
4 – Address the gaps with actions, behaviour change and new habit formation (plus old habit degradation)
5 – Repeat steps 1-4 from this day onwards
Above all else you just be willing to help yourself.
Stress is a necessary part of life, you can’t get around that, however how you CHOOSE to deal with it makes all the difference.
React emotionally or respond intelligently, choose wisely.

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Traning vs Testing

Are you training or testing when you’re in the gym?
Hitting the gym is a ‘healthy’ habit of many these days.
While shifting some iron is all good, as is spamming out a 10k, consistently trying to one-up them can soon become problematic.
A common training trap to fall in to is the one of constantly testing your limits rather than building/increasing them.
This happens in part due to the ego we all have.
After all, once you start getting a name for yourself it becomes easy to link your very soul to that thing you do and to drop off some time on a 10k to allow recovery or perhaps run less total distance freaks people out.
Same goes for lifters, they end up using the same weights as they don’t want people looking down on them.
Insecurity really does become exacerbated in the gym.
Taking the time to step back and allow yourself to actually progress can be the hardest lesson to learn.
Cycling training loads, playing with total volume, deliberately programming to allow progress can be the hardest lesson for many to learn.
I’ve spent years trying to reach people in the right way for them.
Some have a lightbulb moment, others dig their heels in.
Most have the attitude of – ‘well a little more won’t hurt’.
Dear friends, when was the last time you made decent progress?
Answer this to yourself honestly.
Cut all the bullshit and excuses that you may dream up and really assess the place you’re in and compare it to say 5 years ago, have you really progressed or not?
If the latter is the answer then that may come from the fact you’ve been testing yourself too much, instead of building.
I speak from experience on this one.
Don’t waste years of your life going nowhere.
You’re not that important, no one cares if you go in and run 5k instead of 10, or press the 30kg dumbbells for sets of 12 instead of the 40’s.
Only your ego cares about such trivial things.
Don’t become a slave to it. Don’t succumb to the allure of constantly testing your body, train it to be better, train it to progress.
By all means plan in a test perhaps once or twice per year, just don’t do it every session.
Any questions please leave them below.

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No pain, no problem… right?

Just because you’re not in pain that doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem.
Being the intelligent bunch you are I’m sure you understand that pain (more often than not) is the end result of the wheels falling off something.
Sadly many wait until this point.
If you are to take a look at your overall structure, movement, muscular balance and performance you’ll probably see gaps and potential for an issue of two to arise.
This is where pre-hab is important.
The whole mantra of ‘prevention is better than cure’ is 100% on point in this context.
I personally have three main considerations you may enjoy taking on board.
1 – Do you have full/minimum-optimal ROM in every joint?
2 – Is your strength balanced on both left/right sides?
3 – How is your balance?
^^ Of course if you compete in a high level of sport then you may have some rather large asymmetries, that is the cost of the sport and eventually your bill will be due, however so long as you’re willing to pay it, then it’s all good.
In the context, we’re looking at those three points it refers to the average person who won’t ever win gold at the Worlds or the Olympics.
Now, as mentioned above you may be pain-free.
This is a good thing, it means your body is either nice and equal or it’s compensating well.
The above tests will highlight the following:
1 – That you can get into the right positions without compensation and if you can’t it can lead you to understand why eg, injury, muscle imbalance, stiff fascia, etc.
2 – Are you producing the same (within reason) levels of force each limb, or do you need to address an imbalance before you get RSI from the strong side picking up the slack of the weaker side.
3 – The feet can give you great insight in to where structural issues are coming from, if your balance is off the body will twist, torque, stiffen (in places it shouldn’t be stiff/loosen in places it shouldn’t be loose)and shift as required to stop you from falling over face first, this isn’t a good thing because as you get older it gets worse, so you may wish to look in to it.
Consider the above a Health MOT.
Giving yourself a check over once a month or so will do you the world of good.
Say you do find an issue or two, then you can add mobility work, muscle/fascial release or unilateral work in to address what needs addressing.
If this knowledge of what to do is beyond you then hire a professional, there is no shame in asking for help.
Give the above some thought.

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I guess that was a Press Up, kinda….

The humble Press Up truly is a skill many don’t have.

It is one of the most butchered movements you’ll seem a great many people perform.

Truly a shame because this simple movement can offer a lot of benefits, not to mention the variations it has can help you build some decent mass and strength in your upper body.
Here is a list of common flaws in the form:
  • No core bracing
  • Underused lats for stability
  • Collapsed shoulders
  • Poor alignment (weak neckline especially)
  • Hips sagging
  • Excessive elbow flare
  • Poor ROM
  • A general look of someone having a fit on the floor
The list could go on, however, you get the idea.
Most people will be quick to jump up and down defending their form, or why they are doing it a certain way, often saying a super-wide arm press-up is a basic form and one where your elbows stay close is more advanced (military style, or as some say – tricep press up).
It’s understandable to feel attacked when your form is poor.
Especially on what many consider a beginners movement.
It’s ironic though, with the number of press-ups people do in classes or group training you’d think that eventually, they’d be able to actually perform them well.
Sadly we are left wanting.
What is the correct form?

^^ This is essentially identical to how I teach the movement so it fits my bias 😂

To teach people this is the progress I personally tend to follow:
1 – PUPP – push up position plank hold
2 – High Incline Press Up (lowered over time)
2a – Suspension Kit if available
3 – Negatives
3a – Negatives with multiple pauses
4 – Full Push Up
There may be some other bits for individuals that need some extra help, however, this is the typical path.
You will notice none performed on the knees and the reason for that is because in my experience it doesn’t yield any real progress in a respectable time frame.
^^ This can also be used to learn a single arm push up.
Ture enough, we have plenty of press-up variations, however, if you can’t do these following arbitrary numbers (below) you’ve got no reason to any other variation until you master the basic one first.
  • Ladies – 10 Strict
  • Gentlemen – 20 strict

    ^^ As a beginner those are reasonable numbers to aim for.

When you’ve nailed down your form and the strict reps are climbing towards 30 for ladies and 50+ for the gents then exploring explosive variations or even extended ROM options become very useful.
You will find a lot of benefit in this movement.
Racking up volume becomes easy because it’s the kind of thing you could do daily, much like Pull Up variations and Pistols, add in some sprints/bounding/jump training and you’d build quite the impressive physique.
How often do you do Earth Downs and what are your thoughts on progressions/regressions and the overall level of the form you see?



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What most PT’s don’t want you to know

I’m going to let you in on a secret held closely by those in the fitness industry.

The majority of us have no real clue what we’re doing.

Honestly, in the early days apart from knowing a few basics on from (even that is questionable) when it comes to putting together training programs we’re woefully underprepared.

This is speaking from experience.

Initially what got given to people was nothing more than copies of what had been found in books or learned in passing by those more experienced.

This wasn’t really programming, it was merely getting people to exercise and expend energy.

Don’t get me wrong, for the larger population of gym-goers all they want is to feel like they’ve done something, they care little for the details or even if what they’re doing is optimal for them.

So long as they enjoy it that’s all they care about.

Do you know what, that’s 100% cool because if it keeps people training then it doesn’t really matter if their coach/trainer doesn’t really know what’s going on, so long as the client is happy that’s the priority.

It took me years to really get a good grasp on programming.

Even then there was still a lot of gaps.

Of course, over time a deeper understanding has been gained and now more can be seen in each successful program/protocol that is out there.

Has this improved my ability to coach/plan?

Yep, without a doubt.

Has it been something I will share with my clients?

Nope, most don’t want to know. They just want to be told what to do, how hard to work and that’s it.

Sadly the only people care about the quality and details in training programs are the coaches (and a few unique clients).

Thus you don’t have to be good at the above to do well in fitness, you just have to give the people what they want, a solid business tactic.

One word of warning though, the approach of giving people methods without understanding will only really work on beginners.

This is why you rarely see a PT/Coach in a gym wh works with anyone at the intermediate level or higher (they lack the depth of knowledge to do so), and do you know what, this is a good thing because it’s almost more hassle than it’s worth.

Being someone who has gone through various stages of learning and coaching I can tell you this much, no one really cares how much you know.

No one cares that a decent program can take several hours to write, in fact, most will be just as happy with something you cut & paste from the internet (cookie cutter stuff).

The only person that will ever know is you.

If you want to delve this deep then these three books are good places to start:

– Super Training by Mel C. Siff and Yuri Verkhoshansky
– Periodisation by Tudor Bompa
– The Transfer of Training in Sport by A.P. Bondarchuk

You can also find a lot of great info online for free.

Another gem of a book is Viking Warrior Conditioning by Kenneth Jay.

The choice is yours, my friends.


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Lingering Logical Loopholes

The experiences, expectations and biases we gain over a lifetime lead us to some rather interesting beliefs.
We end up thinking, feeling that things should always go a certain way and when there is a slight difference we end up potentially rejecting this new happening/process.
Now, this is not to say that what happens is wrong or bad, it’s just different.
Different doesn’t mean pain-free or without discomfort.
After all, learning or accepting how to learn that there are more than a select few ways of getting a result is not always easy, yet it’s often worth it.
The above thought came from a small epiphany I had.
If you’ve followed these ramblings over the years you’ll have noticed the programming element has undergone some drastic growth and a couple of days ago a large piece of the puzzle finally got put in the correct place.
Upon writing down various numbers, in-fact letting it all flow out and just ‘happen’ is the best way to describe it.
What was in front of me made sense, and so did all of the other documents, books and programs I’d read over the years. At last, I didn’t just see the pattern, I understood it.
I will tell you something funny though.
Even in knowing what was now on the paper right in front of me and the reasons why it would work, in the back of my mind this thought cropped up: “It looks too easy.”.
Coming from a background that held the attitude and belief that ‘hard work trumps all’ and ‘do more, do better’, it was apparent this still held some sway, even knowing better.
These days I personally try to follow the tome of “Do less better than more worse.”.
Still, that thought of something looking too easy still cropped up.
Funny, right?
Letting go of outdated beliefs is one of the hardest things we can do, and it will take time yet be 100% worth it in the end.
What old notions (if any) do you find pop up, even if you know better?
Leave your thoughts below.

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The problem with making your passion your purpose/profession.

You see this in fitness all the time.
People start up a fitness business because it is their passion and all they want to do is help people.
While this is all very nobel and altruistic it has a glaring flaw.
If someone is truly passionate that is.
This little shred of wisdom is often forgotten in the passion fuelled haze of progress –
Not everyone shares your passion, nor do they want to share it and as such they don’t want what you have to offer.
^^ Newer people and even some older ones in fitness take this personally when they really shouldn’t.
It’s not personal, it’s just business.
That’s the problem with making your passion your business.
It’s your passion, not everyone else’s and trying to force people to feel the same way you do about XYZ is a surefire way to crash and burn.
Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t care about what you do, however you do need a healthy amount of disconnect from it and to understand that if you do decide to make your business something that surrounds that which makes your heart sing that you might be doing a solo.
This isn’t aimed at shitting on your dreams.
It’s aimed at giving you a dose or reality because I’ve seen so many people fail and it’s not something wanted for you, or anyone embarking down the route of running a fitness business to be fair.
Fail to heed this warning at your own peril.
You’d also do well to remember that this is said from experience because it just so just so happened that this befell me and it took years to understand.
As such I failed my way to success 🤦‍♀️
So if you wish to make it in the endeavour above you must not only make the focus of your work YOUR passion, you must make it appeal to the passion(s) of your target audience/clients/buyers.
It’s less about you and almost always all about THEM.
Keep this in mind and you’ll find your dreams don’t end up in the dumpster like many others have before yours were even dreamt up.
Be passionate, just also remember to be vigilant.

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You don’t need to know this, yet you probably should if you’re a PT

How much thought do you give to your programming?

Like honestly, how much?

Being someone who’s no longer shiny new in this industry I’ve given quite some extensive time and thought to programming over the years.

In doing so I’ve seen some rather interesting patterns.

Today I’d like to touch on a few of them.

All of which I’d seen in literally one of the first books I read.

I know right, it took almost 2 decades before all the pieces began to click in to place and these random (not really random) numbers made sense.

Up until this point most of the programs I’d done were largely copies of what successful protocols cropped up.

While the numbers I’d give people made sense, if I was truly asked why I could probably give at least 60% of the full answer, however the rest was still a little ambiguous.

Anyway, hopefully this info will help you learn faster than I did.

That is if you’re will to learn.

Key Principles:

– Total Volume (weekly/monthly % of total lifts)
– Waviness of Loads
– Same yet Different (exercise transference)

We shall start with the last point as it’s the easiest to grasp.

You pick movements that are similar enough to allow progress yet different enough to avoid overuse injury.

I know, very simple and once you base your training programs on movement patterns (needs) you’ll never be stuck on exercise selection.

If you only program based on exercise then you’ll be stuck in the realm of frustration.

Example: Front Squat > Squat > SBBS > Hack Squat

^^ All the same yet different that allow you to progress, working these in 2-3 week blocks is good. You can do more if you choose however that will differ based on the goal/needs of the client.

Next up Waviness of Loads, also called loading variability or periodisation.

Put simply you use different % of your max to avoid overuse/stagnation. That said there is more to it.

You could keep the load the same and play with the effort of the set based on the RM (repetition max) or vary the relative intensity (% of RM compared to 1RM)

Example: Set effort with static RM.

Say your 10RM is 100kg, meaning that is 100% effort and you’d only be able to do one set at that weight with that amount of reps for the day.

You can take 3 rep ranges and translate these to Heavy-Light-Medium days, like this:

H: 7-9reps, w/10RM loading
L: 1-3reps, w/10RM loading
M: 4-6reps, w/10RM loading

The load stays static, you can plan days with higher effort/intensity levels which might have lower total sets/volume and others that have low reps and all the sets.

While the load is the same the result/stimulus you’d get would be different, yet similar (one you can focus on form and acceleration with low fatigue, the other TUT and mental toughness).

This is one methods of playing with the programs loading, or at least how it feels and how often you can repeat effort with heavier loads.

Second option –

Example: Using 85% of your 5RM (which is 85% 1RM)

Relative intensity ^^ that is what this is.

Most see 5x5x85% 1RM written and this is actually not quite right because if 85% of your 1RM is the weight you can do for 5 reps (5RM) once then you’ll have no chance of doing it for 5 sets.

Instead we take 85% of our 5RM and start there.

If your 5RM, 85% 1RM is 100kg, then you’d take 85% of that which would be 85kg which is about 70% of our fictional 1RM.

This will give you room to progress eat week by adding load, as one option of progress.

In your programs you can use the above to vary the loading in a logical fashion.

(If you like numbers then relative intensity is for you, if not then playing with the effort % of a set in the H-L-M format will be better).

Right, now for the tricky one – Total Volume & weekly/monthly % of total lifts.

This is the real tricky one to grasp.

There are 4 numbers to remember for breaking down your total monthly volume in to weekly needs: 15/22/28/35.

These numbers are % of total volume based on each week.

If we have say 200 total reps you wish to achieve in a specific lift for that month, say the squat, here is how it would look:

Month 1:
* On week 15% of 200 = 30
* On week 2 28% of 200 = 56
* On week 3 35% of 200 = 70
* On week 4 22% of 200 = 44

^^ So now you know how many reps to do each week.

Up next is how many sessions per week – 3 is good.

You breakdown your total weekly volume in to each session like this:

Week 1 % of weekly volume –
* Day #1 is say 33%
* Day #2 can be 25%
* Day #3 on the last day you put the remaining 42%

Week 1 reps per session –
* Day #1 – 10 reps
* Day #2 – 7 reps
* Day #3 – 13 reps
^^ add them up and you get your 30 total reps.

(This is without planning sets/reps/loads, which you can use the above info for your required lift)

After month one you may want to increase the total volume as that might be your focus of progress while keeping the lads the same (say 10RM example from above), if so add 10-20% total volume – it means you need to reestablish the monthly/weekly numbers and also sets/reps etc however that’s programming folks.

There you have it, programming in a rather tough nutshell.

I know, it’s quite a lot to consider and this doesn’t even take in to account accessory work, recovery needs, CV or a great many other things you need to be mindful of.

This is where you’ll find a good program takes time to write, especially if it’s truly a personalised one.

You might have seen I pop up generic programs/protocols for free rather often and while they all work they’ll only really be good for beginners, if you wanted one to consider the above you’d be paying a hefty fee, lol.

Anyway, there you have it, how programming actually works.

If you have a trainer you’d hope that they know the above.

If you are the trainer then I hope you know the above.

Fee free to pop any questions below.


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You don’t need to be the best, just be better.

Handstand press ups*, pull ups, pistols and sprinting.
You could forge a strong, lean, athletic body with those 4 simple movements.
A bouns is that they all can be done away from a gym and without any kit, well less for finding somewhere to hang to do pull ups that is.
*What many see as a handstand push up is actually a headstand push up as the head touches the floor shortening ROM, a true handstand push up would have your head pass the line of you hands (think hands on boxes with a gap for your head).
Given the endless amount of options we have to crave body out of fine marble the big question is this; why do so many struggle?
Well my friends there is one answer possessed by this weary soul.
It’s not the only answer, however for many it’s the right one.
Are your ready for it…..
You simply don’t want ‘it’ enough.
The ‘it’ can be anything to you however the simple truth is that you just don’t want to achieve success the badly.
I know right, what a dick.
You are a literal miracle of creation as are many others and if you take just one minute to look around you you’ll see just how many people have taken this for granted and wasted the gift they were given.
How can you tell?
Poor posture, sloppy movement, obesity, ill health (from lifestyle choice, not unfortunate circumstance or medical issue).
People pissing away their lives is everywhere to be seen.
Yet even in knowing this and instead of taking some responsibility for their own self they make excuses, dillydally and just generally let themselves rot away all under the guise of –
“If only I had XYZ/perfect set of circumstances things would be different.”
No, they wouldn’t be different because you’d not change.
If you haven’t changed yet why would you change now?
Typically two answers become relevant to this ^^
1 – Fear (they got scared in to change)
2 – Th pain they currently live with finally because too much
The truth is that no one likes to be told they’re only folly and yet it’s not that they’re unaware of it’s existence, they just choose to be ignorant and find any/every excuses to justify their weakness and fragility.
Given the above an dhow easy it is to make change to yourself, why don’t you do it?
Remember you don’t need a gym (as shown above).
You can buy some kettlebells, sandbags or even weights for you own home (you don’t need a full kitted out gym, just enough to challenge you) and proceed to do 15-20min daily practice/movement.
15-20min a day, everyone who isn’t an invalid has time for that, what they lack is the desire.
Give the above some consideration.
Reflect on your excuses, then take a look at yourself in the mirror and say these simple words:
“I’m done listening to & believing your bullshit. From now on I’m going to do better. I’m going to be better. I may never be the best, but I will be better tomorrow than I am today.”

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