Posts Tagged ‘sport’

2011 thus far…

9 months in to the year I think it’s about time I took a step back and thought about some of the great successes that my clients have achieved so far.  We all know that January is the busiest month of the year when people start their new years resolutions with regards to their health and wellbeing.  Most fall short of their goals for one reason or another.  Below is the list of successes that my clients (some of which I have trained since January, some since long before) have achieved in the previous 9 months and are the ones who didn’t give up during the quiet times of the year and who have consistently worked hard from session number one!

In 2011 so far have helped clients lose a combined fat loss of over 11 stone, or 154 lbs if you’d rather look at it that way.  My clients have added a total combined strength increase of over 700kgs   (1543 lbs) across all lifts so far since January.  What does this strength increase mean? It means lean muscle gain. And for the ladies out there who worry that weight training will get you big, then let me tell you that that is a myth! Some of my strongest, leanest female clients are under 5’3″ and are size 8-10 with a lifting capacity of at least 1.5x their body weight. Every single week since January 1st, one or more clients of mine have beaten their personal bests in one lift or another.  Some people spend months trying to increase their ability in something, my clients have proven that with hard work, correct programming and nutrition that they can excel upon previous bests week upon week.

I have worked with competing athletes, weekend warriors, mums, dads, housewives, househusbands, the elderly and the young.

I have helped clients who have suffered with weight troubles their entire lives, make drastic changes and drop kilos of body fat and inches upon inches off their body.  I have helped them gain vast increases in self confidence, had the fortune (or misfortune for their wallets) of making these changes result in completely new wardrobes. 

I have helped older less mobile clients with hip replacements become more mobile and pain free. I have helped triathletes and marathon runners shave time off of their previous personal bests. I have helped them train consistently  pain free all year, allowing them to remain on top of their game no matter the season. I have helped football players become drastically more explosive than previous seasons.  

I have helped clients who have suffered with IBS their entire lives eradicate such problems for good. Even after doctors had told them that it is a condition they will suffer for life due to ‘stress’.  I have helped clients with mild to serious intestinal inflammation live a healthier inflammation free lifestyle. 

My clients have enjoyed energy levels higher than they have ever experienced and enjoyed the best nights sleep of their lives, some after suffering with sleeping problems for decades. I have helped clients with low thyroid function increase their bodies natural thyroid ability and even helped them lose body fat whilst not on medication. Much to the surprise of their doctors! 

I have helped clients who have suffered with back pain for years, move and sit pain free. I have helped clients who have come off the back of serious injuries rehabilitate their bodies so that they are able to get on with their daily lives in much more comfort than before. I have helped to create transformations so great that because clients have taken complete ownership of their health and wellbeing that they have gone on to make other drastic changes in their lives and have helped to inspire similar changes on their surrounding friends and family. 

These changes are why I became a personal trainer. I don’t list these things above due to some arrogant need to show off, I list things as a testament to the hard work and success of my clients. So that they might read this and see themselves in these words. I am only as successful as they are. I don’t ask for any thanks or praise as their success is all the thanks I need. Seeing my clients drop more body fat, seeing their surprised and proud faces after lifting 10kgs more on their box squat than they thought they would be able to, or having a client email me saying that they produced a new personal record in a triathlon or half marathon; these are what fuel my passion towards helping them reach their goals!

This is only a list of personal successes in the previous 9 months. Just think of the list of successes I will be able to sing from the hill tops about in another 9 months!? 

If you have personal goals relating to your health, weight or fitness then let me help you so that I can list your success story in my next update. The only thing I ask for is hard work and some self belief that what you want is achievable. Just ask my current clients, they’ll tell you that your dreams aren’t really that far off.

To your continued success!

Joff brown


This evening I had a conversation with one of my clients about his reasons for deciding to undertake exercise at the begining of the year. His initial reasons were of course aesthetic ones regarding size and shape of muscles etc. But I pointed out something to him that I believe to be something that we should all be asking ourselves before we get old.

When we get older and when in our 70’s/80’s we are unable to move quite as well as we did when we were younger, is a man who looks back on his life and see’s how lazy he was in his 20’s, 30’s & 40’s going to be content with that average lifestyle? Or is he more likely to wish that when he’d had the chance, he’d joined a gym or started a sport or just went out for a run, just because he could. These are the things that become increasingly difficult with age and when your time to be able to be highly active or at the top of your game has passed, there is no turning back the clocks. The point i’m getting to is this:

If you are able to work hard on your diet, exercise regime and mental well being and reap the rewards of increased energy, self esteem and a potential longer life, then why the hell don’t you!? Anybody with with the right coach, trainer or guide is genuinely only 12 weeks away from being in the best shape of their life. If you can then you should, because if you don’t you will regret it. You owe it to yourself to be the best version of yourself so you can look back with pride on your achievements. If not now then when?

‘Anyone who ever gave their best never regretted it’

This is a true fact (and one of my favourite quotes), win or lose, reach your goal or not. If you gave everything you had then you won’t regret it because you didn’t leave anything behind. Any sense of doubt that you could have been more or done more at that specific point in time should be non existant. Self worth is achieved through giving your best. This applies to more than just the weight room, but for many people its a great place to start.

Its all well and good to turn up every day and bust your ass in the weight room, track or field but if you don’t recover well enough between sessions then you will eventually fall victim to a bad case of accumulative fatigue. Niggly injuries plague most people undertaking exercise and their ability to get over these minor injuries can sometimes come down to a few daily changes in their routine or eating habits.

Its the holy grail for trainers and coaches the world wide; to have their clients and athletes continually progressing without injury or pain. Some fall short of this whilst others manage this with ease thanks to understanding the best techniques to aid with recovery.

Here are a few of the most important things that will make a difference on your recovery time in between training sessions:

Eating well (pre and post exercise nutrition plays a huge part in the recovery process)
Sleeping Well
Foam Rolling
Correct programming and de-loading
Sports Massage
Cold Water Immersion (CWI)

Some of the above will apply to everyone, others to the more advanced lifter/athlete. But in essence, the better you react to how your body reacts to exercise, the more efficiently you will recover.

Food and drink! These are the first and most important things you should be thinking about when planning exercise. Pre and Post exercise nutrition is one of the most overlooked area’s of exercise. If you don’t fuel your body before exercise, your training sessions will be average. If you don’t correctly refuel after exercise then the body’s recovery process is stunted dramatically.

Some of my clients ask me what is more important, eating directly before or after exercise and my answer is always – post exercise. If you only have enough protein for one shake then save it for after you have trained. The reason for this? Exercise causes micro fascial tears within muscles and in order to repair them we need the correct nutrients. Protein is the big boy here. The first 20-60 minutes after a training session are crucial in the recovery process. Nicknamed ‘the golden hour’ by many in the profession, this brief time after you have worked out is the best time to ingest protein. At least 20-50g of the stuff directly after your workout is the standard. Depending on your training type and physique goals then some non sugary carbs (as low on the GI index as poss to prevent high insulin spikes) somewhere between 40-60g mixed in with your shake is also very useful in helping the body uptake protein more efficiently. For triathletes and other endurance athletes I would always recommend a carb/protein mix alongside a drink high in electrolytes to replenish those lost during a long hard workout.

This initial uptake of nutrients is most easily found in the form of protein shakes. For those people maybe new to exercise that think that drinking protein shakes will turn you into some massive steroid taking looking beast then stop! Unfortunately branding of protein shakes showing huge muscley men has caused people not in the know to associate them with steroid type effects. If this were the case, then surely no one would need to take steroids? Protein powders are made from all sources of proteins so can be fitted into all diets, even vegans.

Ensuring that you eat well long after a training session is what separates those that recover quickly and those that don’t. Make food a priority and don’t just eat crap after a workout because you think you’ve ‘earnt it’. Foods and supplements particularly useful to help with recovery are:

Green tea (or green tea extract)
Dark choc (at least 70% choc solids, don’t eat a whole load tho)
Acai berries
BCAA’s (Branch chain amino acids)
Flax seed
Omega Oil’s

A combination of the above with the core nutrients protein, good fats, carbohydrates (so long as they aren’t sugary) and the all important vitamins and minerals is a sure fire way to give your body a nice helping hand to remove free radicals floating around in your body, mend fascial tears and ultimately recover super fast!

Sleep! It’s simple really, rest is the best cure for recovery. If you get plenty of rest and good sleep your body can concentrate on recovering from a hardcore bout of exercise rather than being awake.

Foam Rolling and Sports Massage. Don’t ever underestimate the importance of foam rolling and sports massage on helping with the speed and ease of recovery. Another side effect of exercise is the muscle tightness. Foam rolling and other forms of deep tissue massage are wonderful at releasing the muscle tension so commonly found in lifters and athletes the world over. My advice: Buy a foam roller and use it at least 3 times a week, before and after exercise, rolling out the major muscles in your body. For a fuller massage, find a good sports massage therapist and see them regularly. If you are a competitive athlete, endurance athlete or advanced weight lifter then regular massage will do wonders for your recovery time.

Cold Water Immersion (CWI). Or better known as ‘ice baths’, CWI are a method of helping to reduce inflammation of muscles and joints after a particularly hard workout. Immersion can be anything from 3-15 minutes depending on the severity of the workout and an individual’s needs for a fast recovery. CWI is an extreme method to aid recovery and as such is only something I recommend to my advanced lifters or triathletes/endurance athletes. Studies in CWI have also been found to increase an individual’s hunger after a workout, therefore aiding with the recovery process. Another study also found that the micro shivers that your muscles undertake whilst submerged aid with our body’s ability to breakdown body fat ultimately aiding with helping to get you lean.

Correct programming and de-loading. This is often the most overlooked tool when aiming to combat recovery in an individual. Smart training programming will help to prevent any injuries from the offset. One of the reasons that so many professional athletes and weekend warriors these days get injured isn’t down to their nutrition, poor technique (this should be taught correct from the off) sleep patterns or even genetics. It’s from lousy coaching. Proportionate loading through different phases of work depending on goals, time frames and client/athlete abilities is what will effect how well someone recovers or not. Training very hard and heavy every single session is going to lead to extreme accumulative fatigue and chronic and acute bouts of injury. This is what separates a good trainer/coach from a bad one.

If you follow most or all of the steps above then you will find that your recovery time will decrease and you will adapt to working hard quicker than the less than average guy who finishes his workout and heads straight out for a curry.

Work Hard
Eat Well
Sleep Well

Cardio vs Weight Training for fat loss

It’s a debate that has gone on for years in the fitness industry and beyond; what really is better for fat loss, cardio or weight training?

Now before I go on,, this article isn’t about what is better for you or what is the best training on the planet, it’s about what is the most efficient form of training to help with fat loss.

So January comes each year and millions of people the world over make New Years Resolutions to make the upcoming year their most productive yet. They want to get that nice flat tummy, toned legs or even just aim to lose a few pounds. Now I ask those people here that are members of a gym to think of their gym and then think about what area is the busiest at this time of year? The answer will 9 times out of 10 be ‘the cardio area’ where all the treadmills, bikes and cross trainers are housed. So naturally we now all assume that the usual steady state cardiovascular exercise is clearly the most efficient form of exercise to help lose that extra winter fat that we’ve accumulated over Christmas because everyone seems to be doing it???

Well they are in fact wrong. I’m sorry to all of those people that may be reading this and have, or are planning to hit the gym 3 times a week every week and undertake 45 mins of steady state cardio work on a variety of machines with the goal of losing weight, because you are unfortunately wasting a lot of your time.

I’m afraid the winner when it comes to efficient training for fat loss is in fact WEIGHT TRAINING. Now before people start slating me for saying this, I’ll now go through what happens to your body when you do both cardio and weight training in relation to fat loss, then I’ll explain that despite weight training being the most efficient, having a blend of both is also in fact absolutely fine.

What happens to your body when you undertake steady state cardio

– The levels of the stress hormone Cortisol raise inhibiting fat burning
– Calories expended ceases after you stop exercising
– Your body adapts extremely quickly to this style of running
– Loss of muscle mass increases due to lack of overload on type II muscle fibres
– Aerobic capacity increases helping to keep your heart and lungs healthy and strong
– Steady state cardio is boring!

What happens to your body when you undertake Weight Training

– Levels of the stress hormone Cortisol actually DECREASE, resulting in further fat loss.
– The numbers of calories expended by the body by weight training continues long after your workout due to increased metabolism and the energy required for cell repair.
– Joint stability increases
– Bone density increases
– The amount of lean muscle mass in your body increases. Muscle is up to 3 times more metabolically active than any other cell tissue and thus burns more calories.
– Increase in muscle mass results in a firmer more toned body
– Your aerobic capacity still increases (not to the same level of cardio training)
– Weight training is dynamic and fun! A diverse training session is so much more fun that running at a steady pace for 40 minutes!

Weight training really is a superior style of training for fat loss. This is not to say that I don’t recommend steady state cardio at all. I think that having a brisk paced thirty minute walk on rest days in between weight training is a fantastic way to loosen tight muscles (especially in the hips) whilst still maintaining an increase in resting metabolism. Body builders of old have used this method of using walking to help keep body fat levels low for decades.

If you do want to include cardio as part of your fat loss (something I’d encourage) then the ultimate form of cardio training for fat loss does not include any steady state work at all! Sprinting or high intensity interval training (HIIT) is a phenomenal way to push your body to the max whilst burning a large number of calories. Studies have shown that sprinting near to your anaerobic threshold is the range best suited for fat loss utilisation.

To really show you what I mean, think of 2 athletes. One is a marathon runner, the other is a sprinter. Now what body types come to mind?

The marathon runner is going to be very slim with little obvious muscle. The sprinter is going to be extremely lean, with well defined muscles. This ultimately comes down to the muscle types that those athletes train, but in essence if you are planning on losing weight why start to travel down the long distance runner route? If you want to train to run then run but don’t run specifically with the sole intention of losing body fat.

Training for fat loss is completely different to training to run. I train runners and triathletes. They need to run a certain number of miles a week in order to be able compete in marathons etc but even they need to complete sprint training and weight training to be the most efficient runners they can be. If you don’t believe me, please get in touch and I’ll explain in more detail.

So what’s your excuse for not dropping the cardio and hitting the weights?

Oh and one last thing, if you’re a woman and you are scared of weight training for fear of getting ‘big’ like the men then you need not worry! The reason men grow large muscles is because the levels of testosterone in our bodies is significantly higher. Women have such low levels of testosterone that growth of muscle size is on a much smaller scale!

Any further questions please get in touch:

The Christmas holidays for many are the hardest time of year to keep on track with their fitness goals. Cold, long, dark nights set in and people start suffering from SAD (seasonal affectionate disorder). We start to feel less inspired to work out or progress towards their goals and more inspired to stay at home where it’s warm, sat in front of the tv. So how do you keep on top of things over the next month before the January rush? Here are my top tips for you this December!

1. Set yourself new realistic goals

Keeping yourself interested over the holidays is very important! Set yourself a new short term target to reach by the end of December. Be a trail blazer, go against the grain and aim to achieve something before the customary goal setting date of January 1st. Have it written down in big bold writing and put it somewhere prominent in the house. Imagine seeing this every time you went to open the fridge!


2. Keep your workouts varied!

If you find yourself in a bit of a winter lull already, my advice is to shake things up a little! Why not try something new, change your current programme in order to spice things up. Starting a new programme will keep you interested throughout the Christmas period, helping you to banish those pre workout thoughts of doubt that appear when finishing work on a wintery evening!

3. Don’t over indulge beyond the two days of Christmas

One or two days of over indulgence a year will in most cases bear no reflection on your long term goals. So relax if you are on a diet, enjoy the day for what it is and choose the healthy options where possible. Where a lot of people go wrong is that the over eating and drinking of Christmas extends way beyond the 2 days that make up Christmas and Boxing Day. If you have extra holiday booked off work this winter, bear this in mind. You don’t need to treat every day over the Christmas holidays as if it were December 25th!

4. New to exercise? Join the gym now, not January!

For those people thinking about joining the gym for the first time in January I’d advise you join this month instead. January is the busiest month of the year for the fitness industry. For many the gym can be a very intimidating place if visiting for the first time and can in some instance scare people off. So many people go into the gym and feel intimidated by others around them who appear to know what they are doing. This can be a very de-motivating factor. Joining the gym in December will give you a chance to become comfortable with your surroundings and set your goals early so that you hit the ground running come January. Get to know the trainers and staff at your local club, they can help you achieve your goals 

5. Work Hard!

In the words of one of my favourite coaches in America, Robert Dos Remdios ( ‘DO WORK!’ When in the gym, make good use of the time that you spend there. Work hard, have some fun and you’ll get where you want to be.

So those are my top tips for this December. If you keep that fire burning inside of you even when it is cold and snowy outside and don’t let off from your training schedule, I promise you that come January time you will be ready to set yourself even bigger goals!

Today’s blog is all about injury prevention. Nobody likes to be injured. Being sat on the sidelines watching team mates play whilst your sat there wishing your knee didn’t hurt so damn much can be a real de-motivating issue for a lot of athletes and gym rats out there. This is why it is especially important to prepare yourselves for injury, to prevent it occurring the best that you can.

Prehabilitation should be a word that everyone undertaking sport should know and understand. Prehabilitation refers to exercises that are undertaken in order to prevent an injury. Where as Rehab is the process of re-training and building the body following an injury, Prehab is the work completed by an athlete with the single goal of injury prevention. It should be a part of every sportsman & woman’s training programme the world over. Far too often, clubs in various sports at all levels ignore the importance of work to prevent injury. Their main focus is on drawn on success in the sport. This commonly results in a wave of injuries across the team due to fatigue or over training of players that were not fully fit at the start of the season. Just look at some of the Premier League football teams injury lists at the moment if you don’t believe me.

So why is Prehab training so important to an athlete’s performance? It’s fairly simple really; if you take any given sport and look at the list of most common injuries, there will be a trend of some sort. For example, tennis players tend to suffer from the aptly named tennis elbow, swimmers; shoulder tendonitis and skiers and basketball players generally encounter ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) damage. Integrating Prehabilitation training into that athlete’s programme will in a lot of cases reduce the risk of sports related injury.

Most of the common injuries that athletes face can be split into a few different causes;

Firstly over training an athlete is a sure fire way to incur an injury through the sheer volume of work that their muscles, tendons and ligaments are put through.

Secondly poor technique is very likely to increase the risk of injury. When an athlete undertakes a movement or exercise with poor technique, extra strain is placed upon the musculature around the area where the movement takes place. For example poor technique of a tennis serve places far more strain and pressure on the tendons of the elbow and as such results in inflammation and soreness of the lateral epicondyle.

Thirdly an injury caused through a tackle or hit if playing a contact sport is very common.

All of the above points mention reasons behind the cause of some injuries. Prehabilitation work can in most cases reduce this risk. For example, if training in the on-season is going to be very hard, it is extremely important that an athlete finds a trainer or coach who can help them prepare for such a hard season ahead. Another way to reduce the risk of injury in this circumstance is through smarter periodisation of training from the coaches. Too many times coaches seeing their teams play badly decide to double the training sessions with the thought process that more will result in better performances on the field/pitch/ice etc. When in reality they are placing their players under far more physical stress and reducing their rest times in between games.

In the instance of poor technique; whilst a technical sports coach helps train the individual to correct their form, a strength and conditioning coach or Personal Trainer can help to strengthen the areas that are placed under more stress through this bad technique to prevent any niggly pains getting any worse.

Instances where an injury is caused through a tackle or hit are obviously impossible to avoid at some point in a players career if they are playing hockey or football (not soccer) etc. However through smart prehabilitation work in the gym, coaches and trainers can help players drastically reduce this risk by strengthening all the major muscles and joints in the body.

In my experience the area that most sportsmen and women ignore the most that would help to reduce injury is lack of training the core. Any sport that requires motion in any of the planes of movement also requires good core stability. A lack of core stability can result in spinal injuries, misalignment of the hips and general lack of balance which is key to many sports. Increased training of the core can be implemented into any program with ease.

One of my favourite tools for prehab work that works the core whilst helping to target specific area’s to improve upon is the TRX suspension trainer. I love to use this with clients for a few reasons. Firstly the TRX requires you to maintain a strong core throughout each and every movement that you undertake. If you do not fire your core through most of the movements, you will fail to maintain good form. Secondly, the TRX requires the client to use their own bodyweight as resistance and as such enables them to adjust this resistance as they feel the need to. These types of resistance exercise ensures that muscles, tendons and ligaments that need to be strengthened are worked without any additional pressure compromising the stability of the joints of the body that you would find in a free weight scenario.

If you are an athlete at any level that are currently or have for many years encountered recurring injuries I would suggest you speak to your coach/trainer or contact one to discuss how you can work on firstly fixing any problems you have then to prevent it ever occurring again!

I read an interesting tweet from @fituniverse yesterday that posed the question;

‘If you could pick only 3 exercises to do, what would they be?’

This got me thinking about the almost endless list of moves out there that can be performed. Firstly I asked myself what would I want the exercises to do for me? Would I just choose 3 exercises based on their ability to help with my aesthetic look, or would I decide on 3 more functional exercises that would help with the sports that I undertake?

So before I tell you what I decided on, ask yourself those very same questions? Would you choose some functional TRX movements to cover you for all eternity, would you go oldschool and rely on the classic bodybuilding exercises or would you throw in a couple of wild cards simply because you find them the most enjoyable?

So here are mine!

– Clean and Jerk
– Pull-ups
– Bench Press

Now the reasons for these! My first choices were originally, Barbell Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press or the big 3 as they are better known as! My reason for changing from these classic lifts (which a fair amount of @fitnuniverse’s followers on facebook chose) became fairly simple for me. In answer to my questions earlier, I think I wanted the best of both. As an amateur sportsman I always strive to get better and better at my chosen sports (in the most part inline hockey and football or soccer for my non European friends) whilst maintaining a good physique. So this is why I included the clean and jerk. This movement really is one of the finest exercises to grace the gym floor! It is a fantastic exercise to produce fast gains in strength, power and size. Hitting the legs, back, abs, arms, shoulders and traps in one movement, the clean and jerk is the big daddy of Olympic lifts and as such is number one in my list of top exercises!

The pull-up is included in my list for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Pull-Ups are one of the hardest exercises to do well for more than about 15 reps for most people. I have only ever seen one guy go into a gym and do multiple sets of massive numbers of repetitions! As such he was aptly nicknamed the ‘Pull-Up man.’ The Pull-Up is one of the finest exercises that showcase strength to bodyweight ratio. It’s also an exercise that requires nothing but a bar, ledge, tree trunk etc and yourself! If you want to achieve that magical V taper that most men look for then pull-ups should be a staple part of your workout! If you don’t already have this as part of your weekly workout then I suggest you include it from….today!

Finally the Bench Press. I would be surprised if I didn’t see 9 out of 10 guys choose this as part of their ‘magic 3’. The Bench Press is a phenomenal upper body strength builder. Working predominantly the pec major and minor, followed by the triceps and anterior deltoids, this exercise is what generates a lot of our upper body pushing force. It produces great pectoral muscles (which if most guys were being honest are what they want to firm up in order to impress the ladies) whilst despite not appearing so from the outset, is a very functional exercise for many sports and daily activities.

Another added bonus to all of the above exercises is that they all work the core or can be adapted to further work our core. Some guys might choose ab crunches as one of their favourite exercises to do, when in reality you can obtain great abs without ever doing an abdominal crunch!

So these are my top 3, what would you choose if you could only pick 3??