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Monday, 30 November 2009

Joslyn's Blog Spot - A little forward planning...

Hi All,

That's it, all travel done for 2009, it's just the Christmas countdown exciting!! I still get excited about Christmas at 31, as I did as a child, mildly embarrassing, but I feel no shame in it!

Anyway, as we approach the Christmas countdown, it's easy just to caste our regular routines aside and fling ourselves headfirst into the party season. The problem with such a social frenzy is the we enter January feeling rather sorry for ourselves with a list of fitness goals that seem impossible to achieve.

Sooooooo, I thought it might be an idea to take our January blues into account in December try and reduce the Christmas damage!

So here are a few tips to hopefully set you on the road to a happy January:

1. Plan around your parties - If you have loads of events in a week, pre-plan a food diary for that week...a big do in the evening, might mean keeping it light at breakfast and lunch.

2. Similarly get your non-exercise physical activity up (NEPA)- you know the usual, take the stairs, get off a stop early etc. every little bit helps!!

3. Champagne and a vodka lime and soda are the least damaging drinks to the waistline, so choose your beverages wisely

4. Have a think about your January goals now...what do you want to achieve?? Discuss them with your trainer so that you can start chipping way at them.

5. Let your hair down - we know that a lot of you have very stressful jobs, and too much stress can lead to bad health and weight gain. So give yourself a break and chill out a little (clearly not in your sessions, you shall still be thrashed then!!)

Have a great week everyone!!

(Image: Idyllopus - Flickr)

Friday, 27 November 2009

Croissant and coffee...

Good morning all :)

Thank you for joining us last night and shame on you for those who didn't make it! It was a great night of fun and banter. Lots of bubbly, chit chatting and playing wii games (YES I beat the mighty Jamie in bowling, woo hooo!). I think we often forget how important it is to actually let our hair down and forget all the commitments we have every day. As important as it is to keep on top of everything and stick to your training resolutions to get the results you want it is equally as important to treat yourself every now and again. I am sure you all had fun last night meeting other clients and talking about how brutal we are to you when you're here training. But I am sure you also noticed how human we were having fun with you last night and forgetting all the 'eat this', 'do that', 'don't drink this' mantras we keep repeating every day. Therefore I do not feel guilty for having a strong coffee and a cheese and ham croissant for breakfast (I know, I know I've been preaching to some of you how bad caffeine is but hey ... one coffee a week won't kill me).

Remember, your body and mind need a break to be able to regenerate and rest from all the hustle and bustle of our every day lives.

It's a quick one today, lots of cleaning to do as the studio still looks like a bomb site. Have a wonderful and relaxing weekend and I will see you all next week.

Marta :)

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Food myth no. 2

Today is a short one kids - so much decorating to do for tonight!!! But all the same I had another food myth I was interested in checking out so here is it: Sweet corn.

Well this is one vegetable which I always believed was quite high in sugars and starches, and provided not much else in the way of nutrients, pretty much making it a waste of space on the plate. So what's the truth?

Sweet corn does have a high carbohydrate content, and the bulk of this does come in starchy form. It does contain some protein and fat (but not enough to consider it a source of either) and trace elements of many other vitamins and minerals.

What sweet corn can be considered good for is fibre and folate. You get a healthy dose of both of these from a serving of sweet corn and therefore sweet corn could be added to a balanced diet, provided you don't have too many other types of high carbohydrate source in a meal to keep things balanced.

So there you go - short and sweet. Sweet corn is high in starchy carbohydrates, but is is also full of folate and fibre, so in a balanced diet - definitely something to keep in.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Not enough time... let's be serious!

"There's never enough time to exercise!". I hear this often. "I would like to be fitter or train more, but I just don't have the time." Blah, blah, blah....

I understand that none of us really have the time to train like professional athletes and who really wants to flog themselves for 8 hours a day? Not me! But there is plenty you can do even with a little bit of time.

How much or maybe I should say how little do you need to do to make a difference? Well if there are days where you are currently doing nothing at all, then anything is going to be more than doing nothing isn't it? This is what the idea of NEPA getting you fit and helping you lose weight is all about.

What is NEPA you ask? NEPA is Non Exercise Physical Activity and it's walking more, taking the stairs and just being generally more active without partaking in an organised exercise session. NEPA is great and it will help you to be a little fitter and healthier, but it won't get you fit or whip you into shape or build you a six pack on it's own. It should be what you do everyday anyway.

Now outside of NEPA and your 2-3 structured exercise sessions each week. What else can you do with your time and how little can you get away with? Intensity plays an important role here, basically the shorter amount of time that you spend training the harder you should do it. This is what 'Tabata's' or as some of you like to call them 'Ciabatta's' are.

If you haven't been subjected to what Tabata's are this is a brief run down: Prof. Tabata is a Japanese scientist who wanted to find out what the shortest amount of time to train both aerobic and anaerobic power was. What Prof. Tabata came up with was that if you trained with maximum intensity you could get maximal results from training for as little as 4minutes. The idea is that you perform 8 sets of 20 seconds of work at maximal intensity exercise with 10seconds rest, then you go to sleep!

The Tabata protocol has been used as an interval method and is currently hugely popular mainly because of it's effectiveness and efficiency. Tabata's are efficient as they get a high amount of work done in a short period of time. Tabata's are only one means of incorporating intervals. But what you probably need to work out is how long can you spend or commit to.

If you can spare 5-10minutes in the morning and 5-10minutes in the evening, and let's be honest most of us can, then you will be well on the way to getting your butt in shape. Now this doesn't have to be every morning and every night, but getting something done whenever you can on top of your 2-3 sessions per week really will make a difference.

What can you do in 5-10minutes? I knew you'd ask, so I'm going to tell you. Press ups, lunges, squat thrusts, 'burpees', supermen, prone cobras, star jumps, squats and more all can be performed without any equipment and very little space. You can perform either repetitions of exercises or perform exercise for time, either way you just move for between 5 and 10minutes.

Here are a couple of examples:

Perform 3 sets of 10 each of the following in circuit style:
Press ups
Prone cobras

Perform 2 sets of 30 seconds each of the following in circuit style:
Press ups
Star Jumps
Sit ups

There you go. There's a couple of options for you to try straight away. As mentioned above if you add these to your regular training they will help you get in great shape fast in as little as 5minutes each.


Monday, 23 November 2009

Exercise of the Week

One legged squats

A great way to improve your strength, flexibility and co-ordination is to add one legged squats, also known as pistols to your program. It’s a top exercise that really targets the glutes, hips and thighs and also carries over to everyday life and best of all you need little to no equipment.

The best way to build yourself up to be able to perform a one legged squat is to first sit down then stand up on a bench on one leg.

When you can perform 5-6 reps comfortably then start to come down until your bum is just off the bench then stand. Gradually lower the bench and repeat this process until the bench is 5-6 inches off the ground.

Once you have achieved this you a ready to perform a proper one legged squat. Start with straight arms in front of you or by your side. Stand on one leg with the other leg straight and slowly yourself lower until your calf and hamstring come into contact. From there straighten you leg and return the top. Make sure keep your upper body erect and your ankle, knee and hip are inline.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Tackle the monster!

A couple of days late but finally made it! As you know Jos and BJ have been away this week and it's been absolutely crazy busy for all of us. On Friday I did a talk on cholesterol and that's what I am going to babble on about today. I can not get more frustrated hearing about yet another victim of the great cholesterol con ... simply unbelievable! It's high time to tackle the monster and face the truth. Cholesterol IS NOT bad for you and I will take it even further, it's one of the most essential chemicals that your body simply needs to function properly.

So what actually is cholesterol then? It is a large lipid molecule, which cannot be used by body as energy; therefore has no calories. It is extensively used throughout the tissues for both structure and various other functions and is essential to life.

Why is it essential? Here you go, some of the functions of cholesterol:

- brain synapses, connections between nerve cells in the brain and elsewhere are made of cholesterol
- vitamin D synthesis (action of sunlight on our skin)
- cell membranes (without cholesterol they would disintegrate as it provides structural integrity)
- building block for sex hormones and all other steroidal hormones i.e. serotonin
- brain development in infants
- cholesterol is a powerful antioxidant
- key component of bile
- healing process (cholesterol is transported to tissues as part of an anti inflammatory response to help repair damage, therefore lowering its levels will do nothing to improve the underlying cause)

If cholesterol takes part in healing rather than damaging the tissues, what's causing the damage in the first place? A few examples:

- smoking
- trans fats
- free radical damage
- diet high in sugar

Another really important thing in the whole cholesterol shebang is that our livers produce 75-80% of the body's requirements anyway, therefore dietary cholesterol plays a really minor role in how much we have of it in the system. If we eat more cholesterol, the liver will simply produce less. There are several complex feedback loops in order to control it. Why would our own body do it if it was so bad for us?

Let me hit you with something you definitely do not expect ... There's no such thing like good or bad cholesterol and you cannot actually have a cholesterol level in the blood!

What we're being told is good or bad cholesterol - HDL or LDL are little cholesterol transporters that help distribute it around the body. As cholesterol is a lipid it does not dissolve in water. Blood plasma is mainly made up of water; therefore in order to transport cholesterol and fat the body has developed protein based carriers - lipoproteins. There are several different types of lipoproteins and that's what HDL and LDL are. The others are Chylomicron, VLDL and IDL. So there is really no such thing like cholesterol level, we can only have a lipoprotein levels. Did you really believe that it could have possibly been that simple, one good the other bad, get rid of the bad and you will live forever? That's only a tip of the iceberg ...

So why, oh why are we being told that cholesterol is a deadly substance and a silent killer? Why would an egg yolk be full of cholesterol ... well because it takes a lot of cholesterol to create a healthy chicken! Ah, and also ... saturated fat has got nothing to do with cholesterol. The only possible link between the two may be the fact that they usually come from same food sources such as meat, poultry, eggs or dairy. Also their chemical structure is completely different so how on earth can one be created from the other?

The nastiest thing is that cholesterol lowering medications are one massive money making machine and generate around $26 billion sales each year! Major consumer groups have found that 8 out of 9 'experts' who recommend them are on payroll of the major pharmaceutical companies ... can you see how this can actually influence recommendations?

There is research available on the internet, screaming out loud how bad and dangerous lowering cholesterol is and how terrible the side effects of cholesterol lowering medications can be. One particular one - Cerivastatin, was withdrawn after killing too many people through muscle disintegration! Other side effects may include heart failure (the heart is a muscle after all), cancer, nerve damage and amnesia. All studies on rodents have caused cancer after they have been given cholesterol lowering medications. Digging deeper you can find out that lowering so called cholesterol levels below 4mmol/l (current recommendations) results in a massive increase in total mortality for whatever reason. And lowering it by 1mmol/l increases death risk by over 400% ... Just google SLOS - a rare genetic condition in which there is a defect in cholesterol synthesis; therefore resulting in cholesterol deficiency in the body and look at what it does to you ... are multi-organ system failure, hearing or visual loss, genital and facial malformations drastic enough for you to realise how important cholesterol is?

If you would like to have a proper read about get yourself a copy of 'The Great Cholesterol Con' by dr Malcolm Kendrick or come and speak to me when you are in the studio.

Marta :)

Thursday, 19 November 2009

There's method in the madness

Would you like to work less hard and see more results?

Sounds like some awful ad from the home shopping channel doesn't it, but the reality is I've been trying to reiterate to my clients the importance of their body's alignment, and why it is we spend so much time focusing on their bottoms and backs. And it comes down to this: good alignment means your muscles can all work more effectively, more often and at the same time. By default your body with naturally burn more energy and you therefore have to work less hard to see more results!

For example if your pelvis sits in its optimal position, your glutes will fire more efficiently when you walk, sit down, stand up, bend over etc, your abs will be turned slightly on all the time (especially if you sit upright at your desk), your back muscles all the way up will be slightly on as they stop you from collapsing forward - and well the list goes on. Further more other areas are effected. Your stomach and digestive system aren't squashed under your slumped form meaning they can process your food more efficiently and you are less likely to suffer from acid and other problems with digestion.

However if your pelvis is rotated too far forward your abs don't work - because they are stretched out of place, your glutes probably don't engage as they too are stretched out of place, your lower back is locked into a fierce 'on' position to try and hold you up (a major cause of lower back ache), your upper back will also be stretched out and switched off as you slump forward trying to reach your keyboard, neck muscles correspondingly tighten up, headaches may occur...and again the list goes on.

So make things easy on yourself! concentrate on getting that good alignment during our training sessions - incorporate what you know into your desk position and work posture, use your glutes when you get up from the tube and stride up the stairs - in other words WORK LESS HARD AND GET BETTER RESULTS. I promise, there is method in our madness :)

Picture courtesy (

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Thoughtful Tuesday - 16

Okay so this weekend saw Manny Pacquiao take on Miguel Cotto in some style. The smaller faster Philipino had to move up another weight class to take on Cotto and I haven't seen the fight yet but from what I've heard it was stunning. Both of them were going at eachother hard for pretty much the whole fight but Pacquiao just would not stop coming and punching. Seemingly Cotto (the bigger of the two) would land good punches that everyone thought Pacquiao wouldn't be able to take. The little Philipino just kept coming and coming and would not stop. The fitness of that man is ridiculous! You have to have respect for someone who can constantly punch and take punches for 12 straight rounds. Don't forget you only have a minutes rest between the rounds.

You know what that is? That's interval training my friends. In the most extreme! I'm not saying you have to go for 3 minutes of hard work and rest for a minute but the prinipal is sound. Taking an exercise like the burpee and do as many as you can in say 30s and then rest for a minute and go again. There are many different splits you can take with the work times and rests. It might be something that you can play around with. Just make sure that the work sets are of quality work and good form. You can go for a total of 5 minutes, 1o minutes. See what you can build up to!

Now there is talk of Pacquiao vs Mayweather Jnr. That is one fight I would pay for!

Friday, 13 November 2009

Train in or take away? - training on the go

Firday 13th ... doo da doo doooooo (that was Jamie's spooky voice of course). So far it's been a really good day for me and the fact it actually is Friday and the weekend's nearly here can only make it better! Well apart from the nasty weather out there ...

My friends could not believe me when I told them so I decided to share it with you too. It was only last week when I was talking to Rach and realised that for the past 27 years I did not know how to walk up the stairs properly. And then when the mystery of proper stair climbing was finally unveiled I engaged myself with some people watching and scrutinised all escalator and tube stairs climbers only to find out that it was not only me but the majority of the nation not being able to do it how it should be done ... If they were though, there would be much less lower back pain and overactive quads problems and on top of that (listen up ladies!) our bums would be much more toned and able to work properly. So how do we do it then, u will ask? Simple ... put the whole foot on the step each time you walk up the stairs and push of the heel instead of only using toes or balls of your feet. You should feel this at the back of your thighs and of course your lovely bottom. (Thank you Rach!)
Great mini workout and number one exercise on the go - done!

There is so much more we can do just making sure we sit, walk or do whatever we do not being in the gym or studio training to actually improve not only our posture and the way our muscles work but also the way we feel too. Example ... another long day in the office. Staring at your PC screen hoping for the day to end so you can just go home and relax. And then ... when you finally get there it hits you like a train, a massive headache out of nowhere. Sounds familiar? Tension headache is its name. Most of the times people installing our PCs have no clue of how it should be done apart from plugging in the right cables, hence most of us sitting all day in a really unnatural position putting a constant strain on the neck muscles. Once they get tired and overworked here it comes, the nasty tension headache. I was absolutely shocked when I found out that with every degree that your head goes forward, the tension on your neck muscles is 10 times higher than usual. With an average human head weighing around 7kg (15.4lbs) only one degree makes it 70kg for your neck muscles to deal with!!! Scary! Make sure you have quick, regular breaks from the screen (not only for your eyes' sake), stretch off, walk around the office. And when you actually sit down, don't slouch! Push your chest out, shoulders back and down ... how many times have you heard that one in the studio?
Exercise on the go number 2 - done!

Another great one for our bum can be done wherever you are, either waiting for the tube home, queuing up to the check out while shopping, literally anywhere. Keep your heels together, turn your toes out slightly (so you feel like a little ballerina) and you should immediately feel your bottom muscles contracting. Here we go then...
Exercise on the go number 3 - done!

Happy on the go training and of course have a fab weekend.
Till next Friday.

Marta :)

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Food myths - busted (or not...)

Hey guys,

so thought I would change direction with my blog this week and take some time to look at the truth behind some food myths - you know those little bits of wisdom you spout and then go, "mmm is that really true or am I just helping to perpetuate some urban myth?".

So today's food myth is lettuce. Now I have for the longest time believed that lettuce has virtually no nutritional quality. I knew it was mostly water, and that it could have a soporific effect on you but that was about it. However most of the salad base in ready made salads from our local shops is lettuce, whenever I'm at dinner at my in-laws a big bowl of 'salad' is placed on the table containing nothing but lettuce leaves, and so I wondered...

what nutritional quality does lettuce have?

Well it does have some. But not a lot. Lettuce is (and I was right here - surprise, surprise ;-P) basically water with some dietary fibre thrown in. It does also have a vitamin and mineral content including; vitamins A, B6, C, K, thiamin, potassium, manganese, riboflavin, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and copper! Phew! That said these are all in very small quantities, and not likely to make much of a dent in your daily requirements. What's the solution - eat like a rabbit? Well different lettuces do have different nutritional qualities, but if you're looking for a relatively neutral salad base that just puts these others in the shade then look no further than spinach, or baby spinach. Spinach just blows lettuce out of the water in terms of the nutritional value and while it does have slightly more flavour (I prefer it personally), it can still make for that nice neutral(ish) base.

So here's to spinach and out with lettuce (unless you're thirsty). Eat smart and make your food count. And for ease's sake here's a nice little comparison table, courtesy of:

A Comparison of the Nutrient Content of Spinach and Lettuce Types

SpinachLettuce, icebergLettuce, looseleafLettuce, romaineLettuce, butterhead
NutrientUnitsValue per 100 grams of edible portion
Total lipid (fat)g0.3500.1900.3000.2000.220
Carbohydrates, by differenceg3.5002.0903.5002.3702.320
Fiber, total dietaryg2.7001.4001.9001.7001.000
Calcium, Camg99.00019.00068.00036.00032.000
Iron, Femg2.7100.5001.4001.1000.300
Magnesium, Mgmg79.0009.00011.0006.00013.000
Phosphorus, Pmg49.00020.00025.00045.00023.000
Potassium, Kmg558.000158.000264.000290.000257.000
Sodium, Namg79.0009.0009.0008.0005.000
Zinc, Znmg0.5300.2200.2900.2500.170
Copper, Cumg0.1300.0280.0440.0370.023
Manganese, Mnmg0.8970.1510.7500.6360.133
Selenium, Semg1.0000.2000.2000.2000.200
Vitamin C, ascorbic acidmg28.1003.90018.00024.0008.000
Pantothenic acidmg0.0650.0460.2000.1700.180
Vitamin B-6mg0.1950.0400.0550.0470.050
Vitamin B-12mcg0.0000.0000.0000.0000.000
Vitamin A, IUIU6715.000330.0001900.0002600.000970.000
Vitamin A, REmcg_RE672.00033.000190.000260.00097.000
Vitamin Emg_ATE1.8900.2800.4400.4400.440

Enjoy your salads!!

Picture courtesy of:

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Thoughtful Tuesday - 15

Hi there guys so good to report I took my own advice this weekend and managed to go hangover free this weekend. I feel so much better that I have actually managed to get a full weekend in!

Anyway, moving on. Thought I'd talk about some stuff I got up to last week. Basically I was showing the guys some balancing drills on Wednesday. This is mainly because I want to be able to do press ups with my feet off the floor, well, just because it looks cool! Anyway so we were doing a load of stuff and I got a bit of a bug for it. A friend of BJ's and Jos's came down to the studio on Friday, Keish, and he knows a lot more about that stuff than I do so he took me and Mike through a load of stuff. I was only going ot hang around for a little bit but by the time we had finished 2hrs had passed. I was absolutely knackered, so neurally drained afterwards it was untrue. The other thing that was amazing was that it just flew past, 2hrs in no time. I never train for 2hrs! I think the thing I found the most difficult was being able to switch all the different muscles on in such a strange position (either hoizontal or upside down, or both!) it took a lot of concentration and was very challenging.

Then, oh my god, talk about some deep deep ab pain. I haven't felt like that in ages, and it lasted until yesterday. This is a good thing as they now don't hurt so I can train again! The most important thing about all this is that I found it fun and challenging. Hence me being able to go at it for 2 straight hours! Then on Saturday, I was out at a park and saw this tree, I then had a sudden urge to climb it. So I did. It was a bit hard, I haven't climbed a tree in years which then made me think. I used to climb all the time when I was a kid and it was easy. I knew what to do, where to place myself and my limbs, now, well lets just say it wasn't the most graceful dismount in the world! It was massive amounts of fun though! Instantly put a smile on my face. I think that is the point really. Training shouldn't only be about sets, reps, specific exercises and movement paterns all the time (although it does help). Going outside (I appreciate it is getting colder!) and messing around, whether that's with friends, kids or the homeless guy in the park. Get out there and have some fun and then your exercise will take care of itself and you.

Jos has already blogged about the benefits of training outside so why not go a do it at the weekend or in the evening. It doesn't have to be boring, go climb and roll about!

Joslyn's Blog Spot - Aaaaggghhh big sigh of relief!!

This weekend was the end of what has been a VERY BUSY 2008 and 2009!!! I have just finished exams in a rehabilitation course that I was doing and knew I would feel some relief at the finish, but was surprised at just how relieved I was when I actually did finish!! I have thoroughly enjoyed the course for the last two years and many of my clients and the team have enjoyed some of the new things I have learned (in large doses of pain infliction!...erm no pain, no gain). As I say though the relief I felt was astounding!! I guess I am a little shocked as clearly the travel to and from the course as well as just generally keeping on top of my study and course work, really had taken a toll, without my realising it, until it was all over!! It's a really good little lesson in how we have silent stressors that do not present themselves as so. As I am a big believer in stress being one of the biggest causes of disease and ill-health, it made me aware that your typical stressors e.g. poor diet, lack of exercise, lack of sleep, bad relationships at home or at work, or work stress are really just the tip of the iceberg. 2010 is presenting itself as a calmer year, and I have promised myself that I am not taking on any new projects!!!! Maybe doing less will get me a little more in tune with the stress below the surface which I am sure is lurking with intent!!

Friday, 6 November 2009

David vs Goliath ... motivation, self belief and confidence.

It has been nudging me for the past couple of weeks, however I was so worked up with all my nutrition and food stuff I have been writing about that it was constantly being pushed to the side waiting for a better moment ... I was again going to talk about food today and present you with the Meatrix 2 1/2 but the urge to chat about something else took over and here I am in awe of amazing abilities, motivation and confidence.

David Haye is just about to fight the Russian giant Nikolay Valuev tomorrow night. Reading an interview with David in a Friday freebee Sport on my journey to the studio this morning I could not believe how confident he is that he actually is going to knock him out! Being a foot shorter and nearly 8 stone lighter ... now, that is a challenge!!! Whether he's going to get where he wants to be in this case is probably a bit more than just confidence and self belief, but good luck to him ... I am definitely going to watch this fight! It will be spectacular!

This week I have been speaking to some of you about your aims and goals for the next few weeks and the main obstacle seemed to be breaking a long term habit. As hard as it seems to start with, it's never too late and it is entirely up to us how and what we do about it. We've all talked about it before ... take Rachael's intention of training blog from not long ago. How many of you actually took some time off (even 5 minutes) to have a think about where you're heading with your training/career/food/rest and recovery ... you name it. We're only using a tiny percentage of our potential as human beings and what would be if we all performed at our best seems scary ... (in a positive way though!). It's a journey and hard work! It took me over 23 years to face some of my habits and then 2 years (and still going) to work on them but trust me, the sense of achievement is priceless. The past few weeks I've also been struggling to keep up with my training. Switching to waking up at 5am 4 days a week is a massive struggle for someone like me, who's for most of their life been most productive in the evening and at night. But I am slowly coming out at the other end, stronger and better, managed to train 3 times this week, while last week my body simply refused to cooperate and I had to stop half way through the session. Will I get back to my previous shape and form? Well it's my choice and I am already on my way there ...

I came across this video when looking for some training ideas for one of my clients who does acrobatic yoga and thought what the hell ... Jamie gasped and had his mouth open like a little boy all the way through when we watched it together. Amazing example of determination and breaking the barriers. And again ... it's their choice to do what they do and get to the level they're at!

The weekend's just around the corner now with the last few hours of work ahead of us, take some time to think about what you want to achieve with your training over the next few weeks or months, talk to us about it next week and you know what? We'll get you there in no time providing it's your choice not ours! So, resist that coffee urge, sleep a bit longer, have your breakfast ... your body will thank you.

Happy Friday.

Marta :)

Thursday, 5 November 2009

BJ's Top Ten

Red dumbbell
I wrote this for another blog, but was so pleased with my choices I decided to sure it here!

I've decided to compile a list. Organised I know. The list is of my all time top ten exercises, there are barbell exercises, kettlebell exercises, exercises on rings and body weight exercises.

It wasn't intentional but all the exercises are compound, multi-joint exercises (mind you I don't really use much else) and they all recruit a hell of a lot of muscle, as well as fire up the nervous system and burn a heap of fat at the same time.

Well enough chat! Without much further ado here they are, my top ten:
1. Clean and Jerk
2. Front Squat
3. Snatch
4. Kettlebell Jerk
5. Kettlebell Snatch
6. Pull ups/ Chin ups
7. Ring Dips
8. Standing Press
9. "Fat Boys" on Rings
10. Burpees

1. The Clean & Jerk
This is a great one for this list as it's really two exercises: the clean and the jerk. In fact on closer inspection it's closer to 3 or 4 exercises in one. The Clean alone is basically a pull from the floor, a jump and a front squat, that's all before you even attempted the Jerk. The clean and it's variants are the lifts that are used by athletes all over the world and for good reason, the triple extension that is trained and developed in this exercise is valuable to everybody from runners and jumpers, to throwers and sprinters, boxers and mixed discipline athletes.

2. Front Squat
A squat of some description was always going to be on any list of my top exercises. The Front Squat gets a start over it's close kin the back squat mainly because of it's athletic transfer. The torso remains a lot more erect and it is virtually impossible to lean over too far at the hip- mainly because you'll spill the weight. The start and finish position are also 'truer' as the hip has to fully extend.

3. Snatch
There is something almost primal about picking a weight up off the floor and lifting above your head in one uninterrupted movement. This ladies and gentlemen is the snatch and in order to perform this exercise correctly and to a full range of movement requires strength, speed, stability, coordination and range of motion across every joint in your body.

4. Kettlebell Jerk
Jerking a weight above our head mimmick's the motor pattern that we use in most athletic movements when we stand. Whether we are punching, hitting, throwing, using a racket or our hands what we are doing is applying force into the floor, transferring this force through our hips and trunks and projecting that force out via our upper limbs. This is what happens in the Jerk and therefore why the Jerk is in this list.

5. Kettlebell Snatch
This is another exercise that is performed standing up. It's another exercise that develops hip drive and power. It is also brilliant for strengthening the shoulder retractors and stabilisers. Due to the shape and design of kettlebells this exercise is performed for high repetitions and gets your conditioning up to speed real quick.

6. Pull ups/ Chin ups
Not only are these two exercises brilliant exercises but they are also brilliant tests or assessments of a persons relative strength and ability to lift their own body weight. This is a reason that they are favoured by military all over the world, this is the strength you need to get yourself up and over a wall.

7. Dips on Rings
Dips probably would have made this list anyway due to their 'functionality' or ability to lift your own body weight just the pulls and chins above. Dips performed on rings take this exercise to a new level. The stability and control required make this exercise a fantastic upper body strength builder.

8. Overhead Press
Standing press, overhead press or military press- they are all the same exercise just under different names- are close to the best upper body strength builders you can come across. Standing on your own two feet and pressing a weight above your head requires total body stabilisation and control. Performed correctly these exercises can work to increase shoulder range of movement, strength and stabilisation, they are also fantastic exercises for "functionally working on the core" (I feel sick!) without a swiss ball or wobble ball in sight.

9. "Fat Boys" on Rings
A "fat boy" is an inverted horizontal row. I first came across this name for it on the T-Nation website where it was described as an exercise for those too overweight to perform chin ups or pull ups, so they performed "fat boys" instead. This term and explanation doesn't really do the exercise justice. They are a hell of a lot more than just a poor man's or a fat boy's modified chin up or pull up. An inverted row works the larger muscles of the back as well as the retractors of the scapula.

10. Burpees
An old favourite and often despised exercise. In a burpee or squat, thrust and jump, you perform two hip flexions and two hip extensions, plus a whole lot of trunk and torso, flexion, extension and stabilisation. Due to the dynamic nature of this exercise and the action of moving from the ground to a jump the burpee is a brilliant exercise for any athlete who needs to get up and down off the ground, it is also an excellent conditioning drill which burns a lot of calories. Time to revisit the burpee people!

There you go people my all time top ten. There are some noticeable admissions but what you have is a cross section of power and speed exercises (Snatch and C&J), lower body and upper body strength exercises (front squat and overhead squat), relative strength and stability exercises(chins/pulls and ring pushes and pulls) plus strength and power endurance exercises (kettlebell jerks and snatches) and not to forget good old burpees!

There you go peeps if you haven't tried any of these in a while or if you have never done some of them, well what have you got to lose? Except for getting stronger, more powerful and as quick as lightning that is.

Missing the Sun

Having made some allusions to the link between Vitamin D and your ability to fight off the dreaded swine flu among other things in a previous blog, I thought I might illuminate you as to what I was referring, and what it has to do with missing the sun (illuminate - get it?)...ok sorry for that.

Vitamin D is one of the 3 nutrients we are most commonly deficient in, but what does it do?

Vitamin D is important to help your body regulate its calcium levels, which in turn has a dramatic effect on your bone's health (rickets in children, osteomalacis in adults and osteoporosis in older adults are all commonly linked to Vitamin D deficiency). It also plays a significant role in regulating your immune system and preventing excess inflammation when you do fall ill.

There is more than one type of Vitamin D - but the body is most happy producing its own, through sun exposure. This type of vitamin D (D3) is much more effective than other types and is self regulated by the body so there is less danger of toxic levels building up. That said, if you live anywhere above 42 degrees north latitude you are unlikely to get enough sun through November to February. (London is 52 degrees north).

So what can you do? Well the first objective is to get outside as much as you can during the winter months. Yes daylight is limited, and the weather isn't necessarily conducive to being outside - but on those days that are nice, get out as much as you can. If need be moving some of your training outdoors (see Joslyn's greenspace training blog) is a good solution. In addition fish - salmon, mackerel and tuna all have Vitamin D3 in the flesh - so up your intake, or if need be a good dose of cod liver oil (no more than 1-2 teaspoons a day) is another solution. Avoid if you can general supplements which include vitamin D - as they are usually vitamin D2, which isn't as effective as D3 and has more potential to send you into toxic levels as your body can't regulate it as well.

Of course what I'd love to tell you all to do is take a good long winter holiday but...

and so to make up for that:

(picture courtesy of:

x x Rach


Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Thoughtful Tuesday - 14

Hey guys, it's that time of the week again. I know you couldn't wait and you are salivating in anticipation! Okay, so not really but tough cos I'm gonna write this anyway! I possibly had one of the worst hang overs of my life this weekend and not for any good reason, or that's what I'm telling myself anyways!

I was actually quite upset with myself this weekend because it not only completely eradicated my Sunday it also knocked me out for my workout yesterday. This was increasingly annoying as my training has been going well of late and missing a session through indulgence just isn't on really. I suppose it's on me to just say no to more booze when I get to that point of merriment. Now seeing as I'm not in a cutting phase (fat loss) this hasn't done too much damage to my current goals (apart from me missing a workout), although it would have certainly have had a negative effect on my physique.

I have since been contemplating whether it is actually worth drinking at all, yeah it's fun at the time but it has to be the most waste of money for a thrill ride ever. If the amp is taken to 11 then all you have to show for it is a serious headache, loss of memory, an aversion to light and what I like to call "the fear". You know that feeling that you have probably done something terribly wrong to someone but you can't for the life of you remember what that was! On another note I know that what I did was a massive binge drinking session which would have played havoc with my internal organs, I swear I could feel them screaming out at me and punching me from the inside on Sunday! Plus there is all the extra stuff that has been going on in the news with some scientists saying that alcohol is worse than most hardcore drugs, which I don't find hard to believe to be honest. There is a lot to think about.

Sufficed to say, I won't be taking it to 11 anytime soon, although I'm sure that as I get older and wiser I shall inevitably go through it all over again, that is, as long as it isn't going to effect my goals. Like I said earlier, during a fat loss stage there is no way I would take it to 11, I'd be lucky to even take it to a 1. Alcohol seriously impairs your body to burn fat, not only that it provides an excellent base for your body to store fat. Now I know not everyone is going to be as strict as me when it comes to this but you have to consider what you want. If you want to lose that weight as soon as you can, then you have to consider that alcohol is not the best way to go about things. Not only will it slow your progress, chances are it will halt it in it's tracks and smash them back a couple. I have written a full article about this here so feel free to read it or refresh your memory if you've already given it a gander.

Joslyn's Blog Spot - Running out of time

I was up in Yorkshire at the weekend and chatting to a friend about training etc...she asked, I wasn't lecturing FYI! Anyway, she mentioned that the other day she had planned to go for a forty minute run, but time escaped her and she was left with just twenty minutes, too short a time she felt, to bother training.

However she could have squeezed in a twenty minute session that would have been in fact more beneficial to her than the steady state forty minutes she was going to do. Of course the twenty minute session would have to be done with a little more oomph than the previously planned forty minute run, but the end result of the twenty minute run would give greater reward in terms of time-saving, and cardiovascular improvement.

So how to halve the time of a session and get double the benefit?

Work hard! This can be done either by doing intervals e.g. 2-3 minutes, steady state followed by a 1 minute, a repeat until time has elapsed. Or finding yourself some nice hills to sprint up, then walk or jog back down. Moving your body through varying work intensities means it doesn't know what's coming next and has less chance of reaching plateau as is the case with long slow steady state jogs.

So next time you run out of time for your workout, up the intensity, and get the job done.

Have a good week all!


Monday, 2 November 2009

Exercise of the Week


Burpees can be a top exercise to include in your program if you're serious about getting results -fast. They are great for burning fat, building endurance and explosive power. They can be very handy to include in your workout if time is against you. But be warned, burpees are not for the weak! As with any fast results producing exercise you need to put in the hard work!!

1. Begin in a standing position, place you hands on the floor shoulder width apart in front of your feet.

2. Moving all your body weight on to your hands, kick both feet back until your body is straight.

3. Pushing off the balls of your feet bring you them back to the starting position.

4. Stand up and jump.

Start with 30 seconds sets and build up to 2 minutes.


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