Friday, 19 February 2010

Bring on the MSc in Strength and Conditioning

I found out today that I got onto the MSc Strength and Conditioning up at St Mary's University, London. It is a conditional offer on the result of me becoming a NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). I have just booked onto the exam and will be taking that in June this year.

I think a few drinks are on the cards

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Why I lift

I was reading an article on and Dave Tate, founder of asked the question, why?

Why do I lift?

I set foot into the gym and it is like entering another world. A world where nothing else matters. Time and time again it has got me through the rough times, times when I have been able to leave the problems behind and relax my mind, even though my body is screaming and aching in pain.

I do it for me and me only. I don't do it to impress anyone. The only person I want to impress is me. At the moment I am not that impressed. When I smash my PR's in March i'll be impressed for a while, before I become unimpressed with them and push on and aim for the next goal.

The main reason why though is I love pushing myself physically and love the mental game of standing under a heavy loaded bar and squatting it below parallel. I like to think it takes balls to go those extra few inches lower and drop my hips below my knees.

Check out the original article here:

A quote to leave you with

'The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told you're a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But 200 pounds is always 200 pounds.'
Henry Rollins

Let me know why you lift in the comment section below

Flexibility and Range of Motion

Flexibility in the body can be determined by range of motion (ROM), which occurs at the joint. This can be affected by a number of issues, including connective tissue structure, activity, age and gender. The range of motion is specific to each of the body’s joints anatomy.

Range of motion can be measured through flexibility, which has two components: static and dynamic. Static flexibility is the amount of movement a joint and its surrounding muscles have during a passive movement e.g. a calf stretch (1,2). You can perform static stretches using a partner, an external force or a machine as they don’t need any voluntary muscle action from the individual.

Dynamic flexibility requires voluntary muscle action and is the available range of motion during active movements e.g. leg swings. The range of motion of a joint is generally greater in dynamic movements than with static positions (3).

Factors Affecting Flexibility

There are certain factors that will affect flexibility. There are anatomical factors, such as joint structure, age and gender, which cannot be altered significantly through training. Then there are activities, related to exercise, such as activity level, resistance exercises, stretching exercises, which can improve flexibility.

Joint Structure

The structure of the joint determines range of movement (4). There are different joints in the body e.g. ball and socket (shoulder) and hinge (knee). The type of joint, the joints’ articulating surfaces and soft tissues (muscles, tendons and ligaments) surrounding the joint, all affect range of motion.

Age and Gender

Young people tend to be more flexible than older people (8) and females more flexible than males (5). The difference in flexibility in young men and women could be down to the structural and anatomical differences and the type of activity that is performed and to what extent. Fibrosis is the thickening and scarring of connective tissue and is a process that happens when people get older. This could be down to lack of physical activity, injury and the tendency to use less of the available range of motion during movement.

Connective Tissue

Tendons, ligaments, fascial sheaths, joint capsules and skin may limit range of motion (2). Elasticity is the when the muscle can return to its original length after a passive stretch. Plasticity is when the muscle can gain new and greater length after passive stretches (7). Elasticity and plasticity of the connective tissue are other factors, which can affect/determine flexibility (7). Performing stretching exercises can take advantage of the plastic potential of the connective tissues.

Resistance Training with Limited Range of Motion

Resistance training may increase flexibility if it done correctly and with proper technique (6). Using heavy resistance and a limited range of motion may decrease range of motion at that particular joint (2). So that range of motion does not get lost, exercises should be done with a full range of motion of all joints involved, maintaining correct technique (9).

Muscle Bulk

Large amounts of muscle may affect range of motion by decreasing joint movement. Someone with large biceps (front of upper arm) and shoulders, may experience difficulty when stretching the triceps (back of upper arm) (2).

Activity Level

Active people tend to be more flexible than inactive people (5). This can be true if a person performs activities such as resistance training using a full range of motion, functional activities and flexibility exercises, both static and dynamic. Activity alone will not improve flexibility; static and dynamic exercises must be implemented if flexibility at a joint is to be maintained or improved.


  1. Beachle, T.R., and Earle, R.W. Essentials of Strength and Conditioning, 3rd ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. 2008
  2. Church, J.B., Wiggins, M.S., Woode, F.M., and Crist, R. Effect of Warm-Up and Flexibility Treatments on Vertcal Jump Performance, J Strength and Cond Res, 15(3): 332-336. 2001
  3. Cornelius, W.J., and Hinson, M.M. The Relationship Between Isometric Contractions of Hip Extensors and Subsequent Flexibility in Males, Sports Med Phys Fitness, 20: 75-80. 1980
  4. DeVries, H.A., Housh, T.J., and Weir, L.L. Physiology of Exercise for Physical Education, Athletes and Exercise Science, 5th ed. Dubuque, IA: Brown. 1995
  5. Getchell, B. Physical Fitness: A Way of Life. In: Essentials of Strength and Conditioning, 3rd ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. 2008
  6. Leighton, J.R. A Study of the Effect of Progressive Weight Training on Flexibility. J Assoc Phys Ment Rehabil 18: 101. 1964
  7. Marshell, J.L., Johanson, N., Wickiewicz, T.L., Tishler, H.M., Koslin, B.L., Zeno, S., and Myers, A. A Function of the Person and the Joint, Med Sci Sports Exerc, 12: 189-194. 1980
  8. Wilmore, J.H., Parr, R.B., Girandola, R.N., Ward, P., Vodak, P.A., Barstow, T.J., Pipes, T.V., Romero, G.T., and Leslie, P. Physiological alterations consequent to circuit weight training. In: Essentials of Strength and Conditioning, 3rd ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. 2008
  9. Winters, M.V., Blake, C.G., Trost, J.S., Marcell-Brinker, T.B., Lowe, L.M., Garber, M.B., and Wainner, R.S. Passive Versus Active Stretching of the Hip Flexor Muscles in Subjects with Limited Hip Extension: A Random Clinical Trial. Physical Therapy, 84(9): 800-807. 2004

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Excess bodyfat? Try this, it might make you feel better too

As a nutritional advisor, I have read, heard and tried many different ways to help me lose body fat. I am a former competitive natural bodybuilder. This required me to become very lean, getting my body fat down in the region of 3%.

There is a lot of information available on the theory of fat loss. There is some very good information and some very out dated and bad information. It has taken me a while to write this article, as I wanted to really research this area and give you the best information from the best trainers, coaches, nutritionists and doctors in the industry.

As you can see, I am talking about fat loss, not weight loss. Weight has always been the norm to see results when exercising and dieting. I would rather you do circumference measurements and look at clothes size, as these are better indicators of fat loss.

This way of eating is not just a way of losing bodyfat, it is a way to becoming healthier at the same time. It can help reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular health problems, cancers and diabetes, along with many other degenerative diseases. This is not a quick fix diet; it requires a change in mentality that you are going to eat like this for life. I want you to lose excess body fat and keep it off and in the process become healthier.

The healthy for life eating programme

Eat five to six times a day

The nutrition plan is based on eating 5-6 times a day. Nutritionists have implemented this for a while now. Mike Roussell has this as one of his 6 Pillars of Nutrition. By eating 5-6 smaller meals a day, you will fuel the body with only what it requires over the next few hours, supplying your body with a constant supply of high quality nutrients. By having multiple meals throughout the day, you are able to control insulin and blood sugar levels, which is really important for fat loss and overall health. By doing this, you are able to keep your body sensitive to insulin, which can lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Cut down on sugary foods

When trying to lose bodyfat, you really want to try and cut out sugary and processed foods. Processed foods, such as cereals, crisps, biscuits etc tend to be high in sugars, unhealthy fats and also have large amounts of salt in them.

By cutting these foods out, not only will they help in the process of fat loss, you will also become healthier. Foods like these push up your blood sugar levels and can make you become insulin resistant over time, which can then develop into type 2 diabetes. By cutting these types of foods out, you will have to eat more fruit and vegetables.

Eat more fruit and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables should make up the cornerstone of our diet. Fruits and vegetables are packed with higher amounts of nutrients, such as antioxidants, vitamins and minerals (1). Fruits and vegetables are greater in volume, which have a fulfilling effect, yet they are relatively low in calories. We have stretch receptors in our stomach, which sends signals to the brain and tells us we are full up. Match this to other foods, such as a pizza; you would have to eat a massive amount of fruit and vegetables in one sitting to match the same calorie intake as that of the pizza, and yet it is quite easy to eat a large pizza to ones self. So you can actually eat a higher volume of food and still lose body fat.

Fruit and vegetables are also lower on the glycemic index and they have less impact on your blood sugar levels compared to foods such as starches, grains, potatoes and rice’s. How much should we aim for? Aim for 9-13 portions a day. Too much? Make smoothies and soups, these are great ways to get your fruit and vegetable quota for the day.

Drink plenty of water

Water can really help in the process of losing body fat. Water helps transport toxins out of the bodies cells and supply the body with fresh nutrients, minerals etc (1). Drinking water can have a fulfilling effect on the body. When people feel hungry, they can mistake it for being thirsty. Drinking water can alleviate this.

People tend to reach though for a sugary drink, high in calories when they are thirsty. This is such an easy, but bad way of consuming calories and can have a massive effect on increasing total fat mass. Really try and prevent drinking calories. If you have beverages such as tea and coffee, refrain from adding in sugar, milk and cream. This can boost total calories and negate the benefits these drinks can have.

Fill up on protein based foods

The next most important food to be eating is lean protein throughout the day. You can get this from foods like chicken, lean beef and fish. Try and replace carbohydrates with protein-based foods.

By increasing your protein intake, you will lower your insulin response, which in turn helps you keep body fat off (2). Protein is harder to breakdown in the body than both carbohydrates and fats (2). This means that our body has to work harder, which requires more energy, and we get this energy from stored body fat (4).

Leave starchy carbohydrates to the morning

Really try and keep starchy carbohydrates, such as oats and rice to breakfast or earlier in the day. In the morning the body’s liver and muscle sugar levels are lower and the body is better at handling starchy carbohydrates as it has improved insulin sensitivity earlier in the day. As the day goes on, reduce the amount of starchy foods and eat more protein based foods, fruits, vegetables and food that have healthy fats in them.

Fat can be healthy and beneficial too

Like carbohydrates, there are also different types of fats, unhealthy, such as trans fatty acids, which can be found in processed foods and healthy fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in nuts, seeds and fish. Healthy fats are a great benefit to the body (1). Try and steer clear of fats that are solid at room temperature e.g. butter and lard. Margarine is not a good alternative to these either as it is full of trans fatty acids to help it stay solid at room temperature.

Omega 3, which can be found in oily fish, linseeds and walnuts, has been clinically proven to help reduce the risk of developing heart disease and also improves brain function. A Monounsaturated fat, such as olive oil has been shown to help the body breakdown stored body fat. Fat is a very important aspect of a healthy lifestyle and helping reduce body fat.


The information above is no magic pill that will help lose body fat in an instance. By following the guidelines above not only will you lose body fat, you will also feel healthier and have a lot more energy. This is no special diet, this is just healthy eating and the benefits you can get from following an eating pattern of 5-6 meals a day full of fruits, vegetables, lean cuts of meat, fish and avoiding starchy carbohydrates later in the day will leave you looking better and feeling better.


1. Beachle, T.R., and Earle, R.W. Essentials of Strength and Conditioning, 3rd ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. 2008

2. High Protein Intake Enhances Protein Synthesis During Low-Carbohydrate Diets: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 90: 5175-5181. 2005

3. MacWilliam, L. Nutrisearch Comparative Guide to Nutritional Supplements. 4th ed. Northern Dimensions. 2007

4. Moderate Protein Diet Helps Sustain Weight Loss: Journal of Nutrition. 139: 514-521. 2009