January 21, 2018

Exercise v Training – Whats the difference?

If you REALLY want to hit your fitness and body shape goals in 2018 then you need to stop exercising and start training!

Stats suggest that more people than ever have gym memberships yet stats also suggest that more people than ever are overweight or obese. Then there are also people that try as they might just
aren’t achieving what they want. Screen Shot 2017-12-30 at 17.44.06

So whats my beef with EXERCISE? Im a Personal Trainer surely Im supposed to be promoting this?

Well here it is ….. Exercise tends to be activity just for the sake of it!

It’s usually undertaken by someone that has no specific goals or certainly not very clear ones.

Exercise is interchangeable so it doesn’t really matter if you go to Spin Class, Body Combat, a jog or Zumba you’ve exercised and do you know what, thats a million times better than sitting on the couch doing nothing.

However there was a phrase I heard years ago on a business course that said “If you don’t know where you are going any road will take you there”.

If you want to get better at Sport, at a specific activity or achieve a specific outcome you need more than just exercise you need a training program. This is the primary reason I don’t do pay as you go classes, its virtually impossible to get someone to a goal if you don’t know when they are showing up or you can’t progress the group because for half of them it could be their first session.

It’s also the reason I get really frustrated with goals like “tone up a bit” or “lose a bit of weight”.

Action Point 1.  Set a specific target and find a training program that will take you closer to that target

To the casual gym goer Exercise and Training may look the same but they are not. A training program will take that Target you set in action point 1 and break it down in to smaller goals. For example if you came to me and wanted to squat 100kg we wouldn’t put you straight in the rack with weight on the bar. We would teach you how to squat, look at how you moved and then build you up gradually to that goal.

If you’ve been doing the same thing week in week out with no increase in volume (number of reps), or change to routine , increase in speed or distance or time and theres no specific smaller goals working towards a bigger goal then what you are doing is exercise not training.

You may see some progress from this but it won’t be as quick as you would like it to be and it will be by luck rather than plan.

One thing that I see a lot in the industry at the moment (and that I hate)  is PTs and Instructors “smashing” clients with tough workouts. Im all for dishing out tough workouts but there has to be a purpose to it. If not its just random exercise!

Action Point 2. Identify smaller goals that will take you towards you Specific target set in Action point 1

Coming from a sports background one thing that I have always been told by coaches is “become excellent at the basics” get the fundamentals right before trying advanced strategies.

Have you noticed that all professional athletes have coaches. Can Mo Farahs coach beat him in a Marathon? No ! So why have a coach?

A. The coach has knowledge, experience on how to hit specific targets
B. The coach can get an athlete to do things he or she wouldn’t do working on their own.

Coaches will also get you to work on your weaknesses, lets be honest we all have our favourite exercises that we would do every session if we were left to our own devices. mt2

Action Point 3. Find a coach that has a track record of achieving results like the kind you want

Most people I work with are busy. They may have stressful jobs kids to deal with so we need to have a plan to make the most efficient use of their time. If Mrs Jones who sits in an office most of the day and a car the rest wants to “tone up and lose weight” sitting her on a spin bike (tightening her hips up and only really working her lower body) is a really poor use of her time.

While Im on the subject of pointless things , whats with Boot Camps sending people off to “run a lap” as warm up?? How does that prepare you for doing press ups, Im getting side tracked.

Action Point 4. Decide how much time you have to devote to your goal and make sure you use it efficiently.

When you “exercise” success is often gauged on how sweaty, sore, tired you are after a workout. We’ve all seen the cringey facebook statuses haven’t we!?

When you are training success is gauged by actual stats, how many reps, rounds, kms, Kgs you worked with.

Action Point 5. Keep stats, track and monitor progress even if its only for your own use



Are Calories Important when it comes to weight loss?

Its nearly the New Year and its that time when everyone becomes a Fitness Expert. Reality TV stars are flogging workout DVDs and diet plans and it basically makes it even more confusing for the general public that want to try and lose some weight.

One of the most talked about topics amongst my fitness friends this week has been Joe Wickes one of the most popular Fitness and Diet Gurus in the UK stating on twitter that he doesn’t believe in calorie counting.bodycoach

Before going on to talk about Joes post lets have a look at some of the most popular diets and why they “work” to some degree.

Paleo Diet – You eat only the foods our hunter gatherer ancestors ate, by doing this you exclude high calorie processed foods so you therefore eat less calories.

Intermittent Fasting – You eat only between a certain period of time often between 1pm-8pm so effectively you eat less calories.

Weightwatchers – Points values are allocated to foods based around their calories so if you do it right … you eat less calories.

Slimming World – syns and free foods based around low fat, low calories food so in general if SW works for you its because you are eating less calories. The caveat to this is if its not working for you its because bizarrely SW have free foods that include pasta and potatoes, someone with a good appetite or a bit of a carb monster can easily eat TOO MANY CALORIES this way.

Back to Joes social media post……

So the Body Coach doesn’t believe in Calorie Counting and this for me is a fundamental reason why people doing his program will experience mixed results.

I actually like a lot of what Joe does, I have all his books as you can never have too many meal ideas.

I like the fact that he promotes people eating real foods, quick and easy to make and not fearing fat.


Here is the problem, if you crunch the ingredients from some of his recipes into a calorie tracker a single serving has more calories in than an XL KFC meal, sure the nutrition will most likely be better in the Body Coach recipe but if you only need to consume say 1600 cals a day and you are mislead in to thinking you can have two “healthy meals” at 900 calories each plus a breakfast and snacks you could easily be over shooting your calories by 400-600 per day. Thats enough to gain 1lb a week!

“Calories count but they don’t need counting”

So whats my take on this? Well I think Calories count but don’t necessarily need counting. I work with the majority of my clients using their hand to measure out portion sizes based on different macro nutrients, Protein, Carbohydrates and Fat. This system works well enough for most people to keep their calories in check. Your hand is usually in relation to the size of your body and you have it every where you go so its a simple system to follow.

Of course if I was preparing someone for a photo shoot or fitness modelling competition (which isnt my scene) then I would probably need to track calories more accurately. If someone had hit a plateaux with their progress I may also look at logging calories more carefully but for most people just starting out gaining a good understanding of what bad habits have caused them to be in a place they don’t want to be and a basic understanding of how their plate should look with Proteins, Fats and Carbohydrates gives them some flexibility.


Why you should ditch the scales in 2018

From an early age, we’ve been trained to obsess with the scales as a measure of health and fitness progress.

I’m sure you relate to some of the following?new year

Being told, “You’ve gained weight…”
The growing trend in fat loss groups whose sole focus is weight loss on the scales.
Magazine and newspaper headlines stating how much a certain celebrity has lost.
Endless diet programs and books promoting weight loss.
TV shows revolving around the biggest weight lost.
Testimonials about a certain product helping someone lose ‘X’ lbs.

Think about it.

Everything is focused on bodyweight – no wonder so many of us worship the scales.

Are they really that important?

Scales and body weight are a monitoring tool, they tell you how much you weigh. They don’t tell you how much bodyfat you have gained or lost. They are not indicators of your success or failure.

For those STILL obsessed purely with the scales consider this:-

Water makes up about 60% of total body mass. Normal fluctuations in the body’s water content can send scale-watchers into meltdown if they don’t understand what’s happening. Two factors influencing water retention are water consumption and salt intake. Strange as it sounds, the less water you drink, the more of it your body retains. If you are even slightly dehydrated your body will hang onto it’s water supplies with a vengeance, possibly causing the number on the scale to notch upward. The solution is to drink plenty of water.

Excess salt (sodium) can also play a big role in water retention.

Women may also retain several pounds of water prior to menstruation. This is very common and the weight will likely disappear as quickly as it arrives. Pre-menstrual water-weight gain can be minimized by drinking plenty of water, maintaining an exercise program, and keeping high-sodium processed foods to a minimum.

Another factor that can influence the scale is glycogen. Think of glycogen as a fuel tank full of stored carbohydrate. Some glycogen is stored in the liver and some is stored the muscles themselves. This energy reserve weighs more than a pound and it’s packaged with 3-4 pounds of water when it’s stored. Your glycogen supply will shrink during the day if you fail to take in enough carbohydrates. As the glycogen supply shrinks you will experience a small imperceptible increase in appetite and your body will restore this fuel reserve along with it’s associated water. It’s normal to experience glycogen and water weight shifts of up to 2 pounds per day even with no changes in your calorie intake or activity level. These fluctuations have nothing to do with fat loss, although they can make for some unnecessarily dramatic weigh-ins if you’re prone to obsessing over the number on the scale.

Otherwise rational people also tend to forget about the actual weight of the food they eat. For this reason, if you must weigh yourself it’s wise to weigh yourself first thing in the morning before you’ve had anything to eat or drink. Eating a big meal before you step on the scales is no different than putting a bunch of rocks in your pocket. The 5 pounds that you gain right after a huge dinner is not fat. It’s the actual weight of everything you’ve had to eat and drink. The added weight of the meal will be gone several hours later when you’ve finished digesting it.