Monthly Archives: March 2021

Use some very simple science in your fitness!

I am always looking at what people are doing in the realm of increasing performance as it relates to fitness and health.

When it comes to naturally occurring botanical substances I am of the opinion we have a large body of ancient knowledge that we don’t use effectively enough when talking about remedying illnesses. I always refer to TCM (traditional chinese medicine) and Ayurvedic Medicine (traditional Indian medicine) but there are many others including traditional African, Korean, Arabic and Persian. Even further back in history the Sumerians were using herbs and this plant-based medical approach is a constant through all of these practises.

So we have a lot of knowledge that got usurped in the mid to late 1800’s by the establishment in the US of the American Medical Association. The AMA quickly worked to marginalise and then demonise the use of botanicals as treatments. A good example is the use of medical marijuana. For decades people have been imprisoned for using it and now it can be prescribed by a doctor. Craziness.

And there’s caffeine that has been proven to be a safe and effective cognitive stimulant. It also provides significant performance enhancement in cardiovascular and strength work. Of course WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) figured it was a seriously dangerous substance and banned it for a while.

Now new research from 2019 indicates caffeine will help burn fat as well. Ok so it is a small sample size and only men so the research does have its limitations but from my experience and knowledge working with clients for many years, I would suggest the research is correct.

And you don’t have to drink coffee of course, you can drink tea or a drink that contains caffeine. I would always attempt to drink the most natural form though in this case black coffee/tea.

Any advantage we can get naturally is something we all should consider as we journey towards better function, improved fitness and all the health benefits that flow from this.

Are you trying to out-train your (bad) diet?

There’s an old adage trainer’s say about food – you can’t out-train a bad diet!

Ok in your 20’s you can get away with a lot of things including eating badly and if you’re training frequently, you can sometimes keep in shape with the sweat and tears alone. This is due to the abundance of growth hormone (GH) we produce in our 20’s.

A word of warning however – the older we get, the much less this applies. Science tells us the older we get the less GH we release and as you will know from previous posts, hormones are the key influencer in the fitter, leaner and stronger conundrum.

I would respectfully suggest that as you get older your attention to what you eat and drink and WHEN you do this will become more important than your actual training. I have clients that actually lose more weight when they tidy up their diets as compared to focussing on their training.

Training smart and by doing so eliciting the correct hormonal response will build lean muscle but not necessarily shed fat. Again I would use an old trainer’s saying, this one being – “arms are built in the gym, abs are created in the kitchen”. So in effect without attention to our diets we will never get to the leanness most of us desire.

I have a client right now that is using intermittent fasting (IF) very successfully. I write comprehensively on the subject of IF HERE. Bottom line is we must give our body a break from storing fat and a chance to use stored fat as a fuel – this really can only be achieved with IF. Trainers that take a bodybuilding approach to instructing clients will normally tell them to eat 5-6 smaller meals a day. I would argue and this is backed up by science from among others the US National Institute on Aging, Harvard and Johns Hopkins that this approach is NOT similarly supported. There really is no science of any note supporting 5-6 small meals a day and in fact this is likely why people actually do not lose weight. The constant work of the pancreas releasing insulin to process carbohydrate means the individual is always in fat-storage mode!

The science is unequivocal, use IF as a tool to lose fat.

There’s more you can do.

When you eat your goal should be to minimise processed foods. Breads, pasta, white rice, noodles, breakfast cereals all convert quickly to glucose aka sugar. As mentioned above this conversion of carbohydrates to glucose via insulin means we are storing this sugar as fat (in the absence of working muscle or a glycogen deficit). I know there will be some that cannot believe I have white rice on this list but I do and for good reason.

By the way, natural rice is NOT white. In fact the best rice you can eat is wild rice and this is what it looks like –

Why would it look like this? Because it is jam packed with nutrients giving it this very distinctive dark brown almost black colour. In fact white rice does have a light brown colouring in its natural state but the manufacturers bleach it out. You read that right, they BLEACH it! You may read in places that manufacturers insist they don’t but many actually do and in fact they have patented the process, check that out here.

When it comes to white rice they even polish it, the reason being white and shiny gives it more consumer appeal. Bleached and polished foods do not sit highly on my list of things I want to eat so I always pass on white rice. Wild rice I will eat, for sure.

There’s more foods you should consider eating less of. Meats including fish are highly contaminated, farmed fish can be outright bad for you especially if originating from countries with poor regulatory oversight. And it’s the same with meat, we mess around so much with how we manage animal well-being in areas like feed (pesticide levels in grains) and health (antibiotics used as a defence with no symptoms in most of the herd, steroids and growth hormone injections). A milking cow takes 2 years to begin producing milk, farm practices have reduced this to 3 months!

All of these chemicals end up in milk, meat and other products from cow’s, pigs, chickens, sheep etc and consuming them just then increases our chances of them contaminating our systems. And you will note I haven’t even discussed the issue of animal treatment when it comes to slaughtering them.

Lastly food that has a lengthy storage life is also worth avoiding. Preservatives and modified foods with extended shelf lives is usually a sign that the food is unhealthy, even if early in its “life”.

It’s true that all foods even fresh fruit and vegetable produce has it’s issues but eliminating as many contimanants as possible in deciding what to eat is a good starting point.

Finally changing anything in your life is never easy – we’re creatures of habit! And food is a constant in terms of habit for a lot of people. Like most change it’s amazing that once it’s done, how good it feels and how simple the change really was. It just takes doing it!

IF is a simple, easy to use system and selecting better food choices is simply that, a choice!

Embrace change and reap the rewards!

Are YOU getting fitter? Do you know??

How long should a fitness test take? What should be tested? What equipment is needed?

WHY do we need a fitness test?

Whatever fitness program you are doing you only really know if it’s being successful IF you are testing! Ok so if your end goal is looking better, then before and after pics will help but that’s not really very scientific.

What if I can show you a quick, no-equipment test that you can do at home and it tests strength, cardiovascular fitness and joint mobility, 3 very important indicators of REAL fitness.

There are loads of different tests you can do, the beep/bleep test was one and is still used in some situations especially soccer, the yo-yo test was favoured by rugby teams and there’s jump height, touching your toes, 1 rep/3 rep max strength tests, sprint speed tests, there are literally dozens and dozens.

Over the years I have thought a lot about this conundrum – we really need something that can be done with minimum fuss that tests key fitness indicators.

So I developed my own, the 3TRUTHS Fitness Test, check out the video below –

This test is a true test of what are key components of our physical physiological make up as humans. And as I have written about in the past, these components are the ones that most help us create a positive impact on our hormones and therefore, our ability to shed fat and add lean muscle.

So if you are making progress on this test you are sure to be making progress in turning yourself into a fitter, leaner and stronger version of you!

Max your training, minimise your time!

Expert guidelines suggest anything from 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate intensity exercise per week or 1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous intensity exercise. This is from the US Dept of Health and Human Services –

For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Preferably, aerobic activity should be spread throughout the week.ƒ

Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond the equivalent of 300 minutes (5 hours) of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.ƒ

Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity and that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits

It’s great that around the world many government health departments are recommending that last paragraph – Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity and that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.

It is awesome that these guidelines are now being written with the understanding that the higher the intensity the less time needs to be invested. Understanding that intensity forces your body to recruit more of everything (calories, muscle tissue, joints, neural connections, hormones) and in doing so, creates the most change physiologically is key! Read more about intensity in this previous post. The key takeaway here is higher intensity is better for us and takes less time!!

The other significant mention in the recommendations is strength training. Finally it seems the SECRET that all good trainer’s know is becoming mainstream.

Training with heavy weights is crucial to building lean muscle and burning fat. When we do this and we bring INTENSITY, we are sure-fire going to be successful!

There are 3 key components for all of you strapped for time – and actually these apply to ANY training program but the list below is for a 30-40 minute session.

  • always do ankle, hip, thoracic and shoulder mobility drills first, this only has to be 5 minutes or so. You can add a couple of core/primal movements to these maybe stretching the time out to 10 minutes.
  • next up you need to do a heavy lift, squat, bench, overhead press, deadlift and it could also be a row or cleans. Do warm up set of 5 reps at a lower weight and then 4 or 5 sets of 5 reps at 80% of your 1 rep max.
  • finally either a flat out HIIT cardio over 5 or 10 minutes or a strength cardio over 10 or 15 minutes. The work to rest timings are 30/30 seconds or 60/60 seconds. There are a variety of strength movements that you can do including thrusters, ground to above head/snatches, push ups/bench, squats and lunges (weighted) and more plus power movements like burpees, jumps, wall balls etc.

This structure above is very easy to program and will TORCH fat and build muscle.

Now is the big part! To maintain the intensity you need for this training to be successful you must follow a timing protocol. Obviously the HIIT component is essentially an EMOM (every minute on the minute), a video explanation is HERE. Also at that video location in the notes are details of how to set up the timer plus the links to GooglePlay and the Apple version.

So the HIIT/EMOM is dictated by the timer and also the lifting component is too. This is every 3 minutes, so either 3 minutes plus 12 or 15 depending whether you do 4 or 5 sets. This part is therefore 15 or 18 minutes.

You can get an awesome workout done, with appropriate intensity in 5-10 minutes (mobility/core) + 15-18 (strength) + 10-15 (HIIT/EMOM) = 30 to 43 minutes.

Fitness hacks that work!

The “non-negotiables” of fitness are my list of the things you should always be doing in your fitness regime.

Remember there are 7 movement patterns and 3 planes of movement PLUS the various components that actually comprise the definition of fitness –

  • strength
  • cardiovascular endurance/stamina
  • joint mobility
  • power
  • balance and agility
  • speed

For you to tick the right boxes and by doing so upgrade your general fitness, here are my tips –

Stop stretching and start doing mobility drills.

There is no evidence stretching before training has any benefit and post-training stretching can actually blunt the gains you have just worked so hard to get! What on earth am I going on about? Our muscles are highly elastic and the work they do is dynamic. The relationship between the brain, nervous system and muscles is highly symbiotic and when training for strength, power, speed balance and agility, high quality training results in this relationship is continually improving over time. Stretching as I said really plays no part in a high quality training program.

Stop doing power movements at the end or in the middle of sessions.

We MUST use all available energy for power development PLUS do it when our nervous system is most ready to work maximally. Fatiguing your body in any way prior to doing power work will result in low quality output and this results in low quality outcomes.

You can add doing cardio before strength work to this hack - a waste of time. You actually think "burning" fat is better than developing muscle, think about that for a moment! 

Power work first, then strength work, finally cardio!

Change your “cardio” routine to HIIT

I still see so many people walking or slow jogging on treadmills or on a bike and watching something on their phone while (it seems aimlessly) pedalling. Change does not occur without effort. Effort = getting breathless and sweaty. It doesn't and shouldn't necessarily be fast-paced and continuous, even 30 secs of all out effort on the treadmill, rower or air bike with 30 secs rest for 5 rounds (so 4.5 minutes total) will elicit the hormonal response your body needs to adapt!

Strength work should be heavy, have a rep range of 4-6 and be with tempo, form (technique) and control. Cardio work as HIIT above should be all out and won’t last long as a consequence.

If you can "lift" a weight 10-15 times in a set and do another set a minute later, you're not doing strength work, you're essentially doing conditioning training. You may get a "pump" (go Arnie!) and some hypertrophy gains but you won't get stronger and you won't lean up much either. Why? Because you are not manipulating your hormones in a positive way. Guys and girls that spend endless hours in the gym day after day and never get stronger or leaner end up doing what way too many others do, they juice - hit the roids. Their reality is they must use chemicals because internally their natural balances are askew and synthetics are their only way out. 
On this subject I see so many Insta and social media "coaches" that honestly have no clue about the physiology that should be first base on providing first class advice and instruction to clients. It is such a serious issue in the fitness industry I actually don't believe there is enough physiotherapists being trained to deal with all the broken clients that will become of plague proportions in the not to distant future! Add to that the number of backyard PT's that end up in gyms doing the most bizarre and frankly dangerous exercises with clients - it is truly scary.  

If you are in need to engaging a professional with many years of experience (and a Masters degree in exercise science), please feel free to email me

Is THIS part of your training?

Having some purpose around your fitness training should be a prerequisite. Just going to the gym, going for a run, doing some push ups, playing tennis or squash or soccer or some other random fitness activity will not get you anything other than tired…..sure it should be fun but is it getting you any results?

Googling something like, “what are the components of fitness training” will get a number of hits for things like speed, agility, balance, strength, power, endurance, body composition, coordination and more.

Typically a recreational gym-goer or fitness fan will follow a program from an app, from a magazine article, from someone they know that wrote a program for them, by following what others do in the gym or one of a number of other things – is this you?

If so are you ticking any of the boxes in the first paragraph? What about from this list –

  • squat
  • rotation
  • lunge
  • push
  • pull
  • gait
  • hinge

Most often people tell me they don’t really know what to do when training. They have had some success with doing different things but there’s a lot of randomness to their approach and as they get older, success becomes becomes harder. A LOT harder.

And this is when people are actually tracking their success.

In my professional approach to helping people succeed I address a number of components including parts of what I have mentioned above but also

  • specificity – what is the reason for the training, injury rehab/prehab, weightloss, sports performance, general wellbeing?
  • variability – maintaining a fresh approach, keeping the enthusiasm and stickability
  • duration – how long do we need to be doing this for, how long is a session, how long does a “program” need to last?
  • equipment availability, location – some people are gym-averse (totally understandable for many reasons) and don’t have any equipment available

All of these factors must be addressed but the real key for success no matter what the situation you find yourself in is intensity.

At some point in your training you MUST get uncomfortable, sweat and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Too often I see steady-state cardio, gizillion rep pec-decs (waste of time exercise anyway), shoulder presses, leg extensions (dangerous exercise), leg presses and more and don’t get me started on bicep curls. I would advise you, in all seriousness that if your trainer is regularly including bicep curls in your sessions, you have the wrong trainer.

A lack of intensity is what I see missing most of in the average approach in training styles – sometimes I see too much intensity but often this is just misplaced enthusiasm. Someone charging around a gym from machine to machine, rarely pausing, rushing (usually partial) reps, getting annoyed with others that aren’t rushing like them and generally wasting their time.

Intensity doesn’t mean rushing! Intensity doesn’t necessarily mean supersets or tri-sets with little rest. It doesn’t mean a 30 minute run at 14-15kmh on the treadmill.

Intensity means focussing on the task, application to the session plan and squeezing out every rep at the right weight in your strength component and ripping hard in the conditioning component. And yes there are times when you don’t even sweat in a session and this is because we must also have deload weeks when intensity is dropped (and rest weeks when there is no intensity!). Cycling training is done to avoid burnout and training “plateau’s”.

Properly managed intensity means sessions can be as short as 30 minutes and usually 45 and include planty of recovery through the session. This results in the neuroendocrinal response we are looking for!

If you would like more information and want to know if my online programs would work for you, drop me an email at –

THIS is what is missing in your fitness program!

As a personal trainer, fitness coach, body transformational coach, S&C coach or whatever title the professional gives him or herself, I can bet you they will often describe the human body/anatomy as a series of bones, muscles, joints and connective tissues working as a single homogenous unit. There could also be mention of the central and peripheral nervous systems and how they work with the rest of the anatomy to create function.

However before all of this there is another system that in all my years in the fitness industry has led me to believe is far more important to optimal function.

To function in an optimal fashion humans need to be true (as possible) to our roots, our evolutionary pathway. So many things are now a part of human culture that completely sabotage standard function nevermind optimal! Processed food, blue light and EMF’s, poor sleep patterns, increased stress from work including long periods sitting, poor diet choices, deadlines, relationships with co-workers and at home, relationship pressures, children issues, all of these and more add up to sabotaging our health and human function.

We all want to be at our ideal weights, have increased all-round health and fitness and a maximised quality of lifestyle and we task fitness professionals with the role of helping us achieve these goals.

So it really is imperative your coach/trainer knows more than just how to count to 10. Or be the reason why you actually make to the gym (because you know it will cost you a session if you cancel). Your go-to for all things fitness should actually know a little bit about this particular subject!

The role of hormones. Our neuroendocrine system produces a plethora of different human chemicals that dictate our moods, sleep cycles, digestion, cognitive function and other things such as do we lose fat and put on muscle or vice-versa!

From Wikipedia – “hormones are responsible for the regulation of many physiological processes and behavioral activities such as digestion, metabolism, respiration, sensory perception, sleep, excretion, lactation, stress induction, growth and development, movement, reproduction, and mood manipulation”.

I hope you will agree that is a long list of highly important function, directly related to hormones.

The actual creation of hormones starts at the food you eat and the liquids you drink. Too much of something (alcohol, as an example) and/or too little of something else (good quality water, as an example) and you will not produce high quality hormones.

A lot of things that are very important to optimal human function start with food, interesting right?! The old adage, shit in=shit out or it’s something like that!

I’m not saying don’t eat fast food. Well, ok I am. But I know a lot of you only eat it because your child wants to go there, right (and you let him/her)? Life lessons eh? Am I preaching, trying not to but “come on man”!

It’s like drinking soda/soft drinks – really bad. It’s like smoking, like watching TV for 8 hours a day or going to gym and only running on the treadmill.

Have I told you how bad the treadmill is for your running gait, posture and general movement patterns? Not good, basically. Bad choice the treadmill for a number of reasons.

Fast food and other foods in excessive amounts, alcohol, nicotine, inhalation of smoke, physical inactivity, too much blue screen, too much EMF exposure and more can all contribute to poor hormone quality production.

The result of this is poor function. And poor function leads to illness and ultimately disease.

Positively influencing hormonal production and quality is a great starting point for decision-making around food choices, exercise regimes, sleeping/resting habits and our “Brain Game”.

Get to it!

YOU! Ver 2.0

Being the first of the month it gives me the opportunity to recap February and have a good look at March.

In Feb I reactivated my blog and began posting again and got some traction. I have a lot of important information and experience in living and helping others live a healthy life, these being categorised into rest/sleep, exercise, eating/IF and the Brain Game!

A recent post I published gave a bunch of hacks that can be easily implemented and that will give great results around weight loss! If you didn’t see it check it out here.

I think I have a small audience that I certainly would like to grow so if you have enjoyed my first few posts please do share them! As I do have a small audience please also comment on what subjects within the 4 categories you would like me to post about and I will do my best to answer!

I am a coach that takes a very wholistic approach to my profession. Just like isolating muscles with a machine that will only train that muscle and in some ways only address that part of your body, I prefer to take an approach that views the human body as a single, homogenous unit.

We know that if we restrict, by injury or some other type of incapacitation a limb or joint our body will adapt to the restriction (or “compensate”) by loading in other areas. We see this play out in sport frequently when a player comes back from an injury too soon and gets reinjured in another area compensating for the lack of contribution by the still injured/unrehabilitated part of the body. Hamstrings and calfs are usually most susceptible, one is weakened by injury and not healed or working at full capacity yet, the other has to provide additional support and is overloaded and as a result, it fails too.

When addressing growth, when wanting to make life gains in fitness and health, we need a global approach. One that incorporates all previously mentioned categories because in doing so we get a well-rounded response from our single, homogenous unit being the human body – YOUR human body!

In a prior post I talked about our hormonal system, the neuroendocrinology of humans and the vital part of the picture it plays in keeping us alive, functioning and optimal. Like everything in the human body, food plays the key role in reproducing quality components, the quality of our food and water is directly proportional to the quality of hormones we produce. And of course contaminants whether water or food based will always interfere in quality production.

From Wikipedia – the neuroendocrine system is the mechanism by which the hypothalamus maintains homeostasis, regulating reproduction, metabolism, eating and drinking behaviour, energy utilization, osmolarity and blood pressure.

So neuroendocrinology is responsible for a lot of function, reproduction, stress mitigation, human development being 3 and lastly, “food intake and homeostasis”.

Without a quality hormonal environment we can forget sleeping well, processing food optimally and reducing fat storage.

This is why organic food is so important and why finding and drinking water with a pH of 7-7.5 is vital.

So what are food contaminants and how do we eliminate foods with the greatest amount of these – I have to say it, meats are the single most contaminated food you will find. Animals are biological experiments, all sorts of chemicals from phosphates in grain feed, injections of hormones and steroids and drugs in feed (for “health” reasons) means meat is highly contaminated. Obviously if you find an organically farmed animal or one farmed in a traditional sense minus the chemicals (I would say not easy to do) then that is ok.

But screwing with your hormones with a large amount of contaminants is a bad idea, a very bad idea. So is eating poorly in the first place.

So many questions and so many topics, over to you!