Post-Lockdown Training

Whilst the re-opening of gyms could still be a little way off, there has been some chatter and it’s worth thinking about how you’re going to tackle returning to training.

It’s a very real possibility that when gyms reopen we’ll see people flying in at 100% effort only to swiftly divert to A&E with various injuries. I know what a younger me would have done; I’d have spent the whole of lockdown worrying about how much strength I was losing, then the first thing I’d want to do on re-opening day would be to test where I was. Here’s why that would be a terrible idea…

During lockdown, unless you’ve secured some equipment and consistently trained smart, you’ve likely experienced a de-training effect. This means less muscle mass, less robust connective tissue/joints & impaired movement patterns. If you jump in where you left off in terms of load and volume, then, something might give.

Function of your immune system could also take a hit if you go too hard. As well as chronic overtraining (training too hard over a long period of time) being an established concept with it’s own negative physiological responses, acute (short term) bouts of overly-intense exercise have been seen to be accompanied by increased incidence of infection.

“An acute bout of physical activity is accompanied by physiological responses that are remarkably similar in many respects to those induced by infection, sepsis or trauma”

- Michael Gleeson 2005

Perhaps a particularly bad idea in the current environment, then. Basically, if you hit the gym at 100 miles an hour after doing very little intense exercise for 3 months, it could get ugly.

It’s far wiser to go in with a plan - set yourself achievable (even EASY) sessions to begin with and get on a slow progression back to normality. Stick to around 50-70% of perceived effort in week 1, then you can increase exertion week-by-week.

Past strength levels will return quickly, I promise, but a lot slower if you rupture a patella tendon!

Hope this keeps you on the straight and narrow path to strength and fitness!

As ever, shoot me any and all questions.


Mobility, Stability, Strength

Mobility is becoming a popular topic of late - everyone and their mother’s goat seems to want to become more “mobile”.

I’m not sure that most people understand WHY mobility is important, but my conversations in and around the gym usually result in me asking, “so what are you working on at the moment?”, or something along those lines, with the response more and more frequently coming back, “I just need to improve my mobility, you know?”.

I do know. It is a good idea to train your mobility, though, and there are good reasons having good mobility is so “in” right now.

Mobility and stability are precursors to strength - most people who train want to be strong. To generate force around a joint in a given position, first you actually have to get into that starting position. Second, you need to be able to limit unwanted movement (create stability) in order to direct any force produced. Only then will weights start to move…


It’s important to draw a line between mobility and flexibility. Flexibility is the passive ability of a muscle to lengthen, whereas mobility is our ability to actively move our joint though a range of motion (ROM).

Another important difference to note is that between active and passive ROM. Active ROM is the range in which you can move a joint on your own under full muscular control. Passive ROM is the range in which a joint can move when an external force is applied.

There is always more passive ROM available at a given joint than active. Take Hip Flexion - you’re standing upright, and raise one knee as high as you can whilst keeping your pelvis neutral. With no other input, this is active ROM. If you grab your knee and pull it up towards your chest, you’ve achieved more range of motion, but it is passive. We can consider than the space between these different ROMs is range where you have little-to-no control. If we want to improve our mobility, we can look to narrow the gap between active and passive ROMs, gaining control in as much range at a given joint as possible.

So, how do you go about improving mobility?

Stretching? Forget it.

Foam rolling? Pretty useless on it’s own, but it could be potentially useful…

Here are my favourite mobility improving methods:

1. Lifting Weights! Yeah, that’s right. The best way to improve your mobility is to lift weights with fine form across full ROM and to repeat the exposure frequently. You can consider this “loaded stretching” and it is effective because you are building strength at end ranges (even in new ranges).

2. Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF). Basically assisted stretching, PNF positions the target muscle (or muscle group) in its lengthened position under tension. The muscle is then contracted (fairly gently) against an immovable object (usually a partner) for around 5 seconds. The muscle is then relaxed and a stretch is applied for 20-30 seconds. PNF can be used when the cause of limited mobility is a short or tight muscle/muscle group.

3. Foam Rolling. Well, not on its own. Foam rolling can release right muscles (if done correctly), which can open up new ROM for a given joint, but if you don’t move, strengthen and stables in this new range then guess what - things will quickly go back to normal! Try rolling tight muscles, then lift in the new range. A nice example for shoulder mobility:

Foam roll the lats > Butchers Block Stretch > 3-5 second negative Pull-Ups (grip supinated - palms facing you).

4. Band Assisted Stretching. A lot like PNF, above, bands are a great way to add load/resistance to increase the effectiveness of the essentially useless static stretch. Under this category we can put Banded Distraction, too, which I really like and is well worth a Google search!

5. Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs). With mobility, it tends to be “use it or lose it” - CARs are end range rotational movements at a given joint; you basically draw a big circle, e.g. with your arm using the shoulder joint or leg using the hip. Whilst CARs are unlikely to gift you new ROM, they will maintain what you do have as you age (or as you sit on the sofa waiting until you can go outside again). They are super healthy for the joint capsule too. You can do these before a workout to get joints moving, afterwards during a cool-down, or in a separate session altogether.

There they are - five of my faves, hope they help!

As a side note, the longer more static stretches (PNF + Band Assisted) should be performed after or separate from training, rather than before.

Questions? WhatsApp me with who you are and what you want!

07805 410 479


Exercise Isn't About Burning Calories...

If you get this wrong you’ll end up making decisions like, “running seems like it burns a lot of calories, it must be the best exercise, I’ll do that”.

Lack of understanding is a big issue in the fitness space because people tend to start training for a specific reason (get fit, get stronger, lose weight, build muscle, escape pain, etc.), yet there’s usually a big gulf between what they NEED to do to achieve their goal and what they ARE doing. Running or HIIT isn’t going to fix your back pain and it isn’t the best route to weight loss either (although it can complement strength training and I wholeheartedly recommend it as part of a rounded programme).

People seem to flock to HIIT workouts and steady state cardio because they think that sort of training will burn more calories. I’m not even going to argue that it doesn’t, because it might, but it doesn’t matter as much as you think.

I think the reason people get attracted to things like HIIT is because of how it makes you feel. It’s HARD and largely unenjoyable, therefore it must be effective, right? Wrong. Although sweating is one (minor) mechanism by which the body rids itself of fat, sweating more absolutely does not equal more fat loss. Perspiration occurs when your body’s internal temperature increases in order to regulate your temperature. That’s it. HIIT makes you hot, so you sweat. And no, heat doesn’t burn fat.

Some will argue that HIIT makes you feel good afterwards, which is fine. If your goal is to feel good after your exercise, then HIIT is a great choice! However, if you want to change your body’s composition and you’re saying “but HIIT makes me feel good” then that doesn’t really add up. This good feeling is actually a reduction in anxiety which, as it turns out, is associated with the body cooling after an exercise induced temperature spike (and it actually seems to be more about the brain heating then cooling rather than the body). This is ‘the Thermogenic Hypothesis of exercise’ if you want to look up more on that. Similar reductions in anxiety have been observed in walking, meditation and simply resting, so the “feel good” could actually be down to a break from daily stressors, rather than 900 star jumps (the Distraction Hypothesis).

Every exercise modality has an intended response and the whole point of the types of exercise that get your heart + breathing rate up (that tend to make you sweat buckets) is to improve cardiovascular function. If that is your goal, do those things, if not, don’t do them. What if you enjoy those things? That’s fine! But set your expectations - you won’t achieve anything other than snazzy lungs. As a side note to that, know that if you run the same distances at the same pace day-in-day-out then nothing will change.

If you want to change your body composition long term, the best thing you can do from an exercise perspective is change your body’s ability to use calories, not just to manipulate your day-to-day exercise-specific calorie expenditure. How? You need to increase your muscle mass.

If you’re untrained (without a long history of weight training) you can do that now, under lockdown conditions, with zero-to-minimal equipment - you don’t need to wait for gyms to reopen. If you need help or advice, please ask.

2020 Incoming... Are you ready??

Do You Want To Do Better/More Of In 2020?

With 2020 coming up fast it's a good time to reflect on the year and decide what you want to get better at in the New Year....

I'm not a huge fan of New Years Resolutions - I always think, "why wait until January?". Surely knowing you need to improve on something but putting it off defeats the object!

Having said that, I am a huge fan of improvement, and the space between 31st of December 2019 / 1st January 2020 seems like a nice place to draw a line in the sand on a few things...

What 3 things will you be working on next year?

I will be....

Reading more. I'll be setting time aside each day to get more productive reading done - even if it's just 10 minutes, it all adds up!

Making More Time for Training. My training has been ticking along just fine, but it's been a busy end to 2019 for me and I haven't achieved as much as I wanted to.

Generating More Health & Fitness Content. Emails, blogs, social media posts etc... I want to push quality info (i.e. not a load of bullsh*t) to the maximum amount of people. As much as I dislike social media, the best way for me to do that is through the power of the internet!

Shoot me an email/text/DM and let me know what 2020 holds for you :)

All the best,


Why Christmas Won't Make You Fat

Merry Christmas! [still too early?)

This is why you shouldn't panic about your fitness goals going pear shaped over the Christmas period!

Think about it - how many meals are BIG ones this month?

Christmas Eve / Day = 4 meals?

Parties - NYE + a works do = 2 meals?

Throw in another party because why not it's Christmas = 1 meal...

That's 7 "bad" ones out of a possible 91 meals in December [7.5%!]

You won't be doing that much damage, I promise.

Enjoy yourself. Keep a handle on needless snacks. Keep plugging away at your fitness/health goals inside/outside the gym. Make good decisions the other 92.5% of the time. Importantly, ask if you have any questions!

Have an amazing December.