weight gain

How to Gain size and Build Muscle

How to grow some muscle!

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 So you have a clear goal for your body! you want to build some size, most probably looking to increase some muscle mass! Good having a clear goal is essential! The difficult thing now is going to be sticking to it!

Ok so we have our goal, what next what do we do from now? Well firstly your port of call should be assessing your diet! Ultimately that will determine whether or not you gain or lose weight!

If you’re a male I would encourage looking at making sure 40% of your diet is protein and between 30-40% is carb and the rest good fats, you will also NEED to make sure you are in a calorie surplus! I’d recommend looking at around 5-10% surplus to get started and see how you get on! With a good structure in your diet, and a complimenting workout you should maximise muscle gain while keeping fat gain to a minimum.

THAT being said, there will be SOME fat gain, this is inevitable, you can’t avoid it, you must accept it, it’s a part of the process, and is often the single biggest thing stopping people from gaining.

Try to think of it like this, it’s a curtain at intermission in a stage show, a lot of work is going on behind that curtain, and then when you switch gears to fat burning later to reveal to muscle gain, that is the curtain raise!

This is what all body builders do, athletes do, what most intelligent amateurs do, and it’s what I do.

 

Understanding Energy

 

So now that we have a goal in mind we need to establish, how do we get there?

Well firstly there is a little bit of body science we should become familiar with, as these play a pretty big role in what results you achieve in the gym? What would you say if I told you that the same exercise can achieve vastly different results when done at different intensities and different periods of time? Shocking right! This is due to how we use our bodies energy systems of which there are 3, but they fall into 2 different categories:

·       Anabolic – The category which is more focused on muscle growth

·       Catabolic – the category that is more focused on muscle consumption

The first two energy systems we are going to discuss are primarily focused within the anabolic category, and are focused towards developing muscle mass, and improving conditioning, whereas the latter is focused a lot more towards exercises that are catabolic in nature, these tend to be exercises geared towards more cardiovascular fitness.

Energy systems

So let’s go over these energy systems, what they do and how they work.

1.      ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate) system – This is your bodies first port of call, when it comes to energy. Before your body uses sugar stored in the muscles it will use ATP and creatine phosphate (CP) which the breaks into ATP. This is an energy source that requires no oxygen and is responsible to your initial bang when you train. Your body can only store a very limited supply of this within your muscles at any one time and when you start training it will only take between 8-10 seconds to run out. If you watch Olympic 100m sprinters they are using purely this system alone, and often don’t even look to be out of breath at the end, this is because their bodies have used little to no oxygen during that event. Their training is usually gear more towards leg POWER rather than endurance, so they train primarily for anabolic results as they don’t need to last a long period of time. It is also why their legs in particular their quads look so impressive as that is the area they focus on to be the best at their sport. They need to be fast for a short space of time, so train mostly in a way to enhance their power which in maths and science terms is force x speed = power.  For your body to recover around 90% of its CP stories it will take around 3 minutes.

 

2.      Lactic system – the second primary energy system, after your body has used up the ATP+CP stored in the muscles it will start to break down the sugar (known as glycogen) stored there to produce more, this process requires oxygen to do so. This process is extremely efficient up until around 45 seconds when your body can’t get enough oxygen in, to produce the ATP. At this stage the body can still use the glycogen to produce energy but it will also start producing a product known as lactic acid, at this stage you will begin to feel the “burn” in your muscles, this is the first stage of fatigue.

 

3.      Aerobic system- the final energy system, at this point the body will now begin to break down muscle tissue and fatty acids to provide the body with the energy it requires. It is heavily reliant on an efficient cardio- vascular system so that you can provide enough oxygen to the body in order for it to. This latter energy system tends to be engaged more with longer periods of exercise, that focus on cardio efficiency, such as distance running etc. it is also inherently catabolic in nature (consumes muscle mass). A great example of these differences is comparing a sprinter and a marathon runner, one is focused on short burst speed and power, and the other more on endurance, one needs to reduce their weight as much as possible to improve cardio efficiency over time and the other is about delivering as much power as quickly as possible.

 

The only 2 systems we are bothered at all about right now, will be the first two as they are the ones concerned with muscle growth! The third system is concerned more with endurance development! Think difference between sprinter and marathon runner.

 

How to structure the workout

 

So now we have an understanding of the bodies energy systems, and we understand what our specific goals are, as well as how to structure our nutrition, the question now is how do we apply these to you?

Ok well ideally, there is no getting around this regardless of what your sex is, the best way to develop muscle mass and burn fat, will be in a gym. Now I know that this can cause a lot of anxiety as perhaps you have been to the gym before and failed because you didn’t know what you were doing, but remember this book is all about allowing you to walk into one with confidence, and although there are some fantastic home workouts available, they usually have a limited level of effectiveness as your body adapts to the workout, and progression stalls, unless you have equipment at home, a gym allows for consistent progression as the equipment provided will allow you to push past plateaus, with increased weights etc.

If your goal is specifically burn fat, and or build muscle, the best method of training will be to make use of your bodies Anabolic systems. So ideally weight and resistance training, with some limited cardio.

Now that may make many women apprehensive, as there is often a fear that weights will make women bulky and masculine, allow me to take this opportunity to say that this is extremely unlikely to happen. This is due to a number of fundamental reason, the first and most prominent one, is women have a significantly reduced amount of the male hormone testosterone which is hormone, largely responsible to men’s ability to significantly increase their muscle mass, compared to women. Due to this for a woman to achieve the same amount of muscle mass relative to a male, she would need to eat a significant amount of food, to fuel growth, whilst increasing her bodies testosterone amounts.

Also if the goal is to burn fat, we will be eating in a deficit, so your body will be unable to truly grow significant muscle, as your body will be more concerned with trying to keep what it has, as there isn’t enough fuel to grow, as muscle can only grow in a calorie surplus.

So ladies, do not fear the weights and resistance machines, because they will make you look masculine, they won’t, they will merely allow you to sculpt the figure you desire! Worrying about looking like a bodybuilder, is the same as thinking that running on a treadmill will turn you into an Olympic sprinter! In truth many of the super models, such as Victoria secret angels, and social media models incorporate weight and resistance programmes to look the way they do!

The training for fat loss, and muscle gain are actually very similar, the biggest difference between them, is nutrition! A structured calorie surplus will fuel muscle growth, and a deficit, fat loss. The appropriate training programme will basically determine if you maximise muscle gain and minimise fat gain, or maximise fat loss and minimise muscle loss.

 

How many Reps?

Right now I’m going to provide a simple chart, that represents the best rep ranges to operate in whilst working out to achieve specific effects.


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So what does this chart mean when we look at it? Well the areas in Yellow represent the most prominent effect within those specific rep ranges. So as you can see muscle strength and power are most effective up 6 reps, what this means is that you will be able to lift you biggest weights but only be able to do them over a short period. Continuous training, within these ranges will see your body improve in the maximum weight it can lift, thus increasing your strength and power. When you consider the amount of time it will take for you be able to perform these reps you can reasonably assume that on average you won’t take much longer that 10 seconds to complete them, which is firmly within the ATP system.

From 6 reps up to 12 we see that hypertrophy becomes most effective in this range. Hypertrophy is what we call muscle gain, at this level you will still be able to lift between 80-70% of your maximum ability but you will be able to do it for a little bit longer comparted to strength and power which would be 100-80% of your maximum capacity but for a shorter period. As you can see though in this chart power and strength training can still be achieved in this range, just to a lesser extent. Now if you can imagine the time it takes to perform 12 reps it isn’t much over 30 seconds which again keeps us within the anabolic ranges, but we have now moved into the lactic energy system, and this is where you will begin to feel a burn creep into your muscles and fatigue begins to set in.

The funny thing is here that within the hypertrophic range, this tends to be the best for both fat burn and muscle gain goals. This is because whilst in surplus you are giving your body the fuel to build muscle, whilst in deficit you are trying to make your body build muscle without providing the fuel, so all it will do in essence is maintain the muscle it can as best as it can, and the calories your using will end up coming from the fat as your body is using protein to preserve the muscle.

Muscular endurance comes from around 12 reps onwards, and is usually performed at a lighter weight, often done to eke out the final bits of energy remaining to “finish off” a particular muscle group, or at the beginning of a workout as a warm up and to pump blood into a muscle group. Most fitness classes will work the muscular endurance/ aerobic zone. This isn’t to say you won’t develop muscle and tone, but it is a more catabolic way of training. Classes, if you’re in a calorie deficit will burn fat, there is no doubt, but they aren’t a focused approach to your specific goal.

So you should consult this chart to help you work out how many reps you should be doing per exercise, to achieve the results that you want.

Often when I’m providing a programme for an individual I consult them on their goals and then work on this basis to get them to where they want to be, and it has been without a doubt my most successful approach so far!

So if a client wants to improve the muscle mass, I tend to develop their strength, so they can maximise the weight they can lift, and then move into hypertrophic range so they are getting the very most out of their muscles for development, and cycle between these two to prevent the body adapting, and providing continuous results, with this style to I tend to have them do more sets (a group of reps) with longer rest periods to allow to for as maximum output as possible.

For fat loss, I tend to cycle the client around the 10-12 rep range of hypertrophy, however I will minimise their rest periods (which I will explain shortly) to enhance their fat burning potential, and cause fatigue quicker.

 

Intensity and rest periods

 

Ok so now you know how many reps you should be doing in the gym, the question now is how intense should those reps be? And how long should you rest once you have completed a set of reps.

So with intensity, most personal trainer will work with something known as the RPE or rate of perceived exertion, this is often on a scale of 1-10, 1 being very easy and 10 being most difficult.

When writing a programme for a client I haven’t been in the gym with, I use this scale as it is much safer than telling you a specific weight to lift, as without knowing your capacity this could be extremely dangerous and lead to an injury.

So if your goal is to train for strength and power ideally you should be training between 10-8 on the RPE scale, (remember its maximal output over a short period) and for hypertrophy ideal between 8-7, fat loss I usually would suggest between 7.5-6.5 on the scale.

 

 

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Again this is a very simple breakdown, like everything so far just to allow you to go into the gym feeling confident in knowing what you should be doing. The goal remember is to keep things as simple as possible.

The next thing to consider is our rest periods, and the key to remember here, is that a longer rest will allow for a more maximal output during the reps. So power and strength training require more rest to allow the body to keep training at RPE 10-9 while lower RPE will require less rest, and also keep the heart rate up!

The more we keep the heart rate up, the faster our metabolism is working and therefore the more calories we are burning. This is why in my fat loss programme I would encourage much shorter rest times, than my muscle building/strength and power programmes respectively.

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So you can see here, roughly how long it takes for your body to recover after a set, and why to get the most out of each rep range, we should allow ourselves a specific amount of rest time.

·       Fat loss training – 30 seconds

·       Muscle building (hypertrophy) – between 1-2 minutes

·       Power and strength – 2 minutes +

So now we have the basics down on how to create a structured workout, so for an example if I was wanting to train for fat loss in the gym, firstly I am ensuring I’m eating in a calorie deficit. Then I would make sure that my workouts were ideally between 10-12 reps a set and that I wasn’t having much more than 30 seconds rest between them.

How many exercises per muscle group?

This part I am going to keep very short, as there are many different thoughts on this, and many different style of training, but for the sake of keeping things simple. Try not to go over 3 different exercises per muscle group.

An example being when training the chest:

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 So if your goal is muscle building i would consult the charts above and strucutre your workout accordingly! as well as making sure your in a diet surplus and you should beging to see consitent weight gain! and in particular the development of great muscle tissue!

IF you need any help with regards! to your training goals! helping to put size on or even strip fat! whatever your goal is contact me today! or check out what packages we have available at:

www.route1healthandfitness.com/packages

I'm Intolerrant to your "gluten intolerance"!

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So, how many of you can put your hands up and said you're going gluten free? Really? Why though? Is it because you were told that gluten is bad for you? If so i'm very sorry to inform you that you have been misinformed! Gluten isn’t bad for you, or at least MOST of you and today, we are going to delve into the truth about gluten.

You see the truth is this, gluten is just a storage protein found in grains like wheat. It's there to help with germination (when a seed begins sprout), and gets extracted when we mill the grain into flour. It's vital when baking as it allows the wheat/flour to become doughy, pizza anyone!

Now, gluten does cause problems for those who have Celiac Disease,as they have a strong allergic type reaction to foods that contain it, symptoms of this include, diarrhea, bloating, weight loss, depression and anemia among others, and it makes them very ill after eating it. Essentially their body is fighting against the gluten and causing violent reactions internally, but fortunately it's estimated that true gluten intolerance only affects around 0.5-1% of the population.

There are other conditions such as NCGS (non celiac gluten sensitivity) which are effected by gluten but again the population of this is incredibly small at around 1% and again the symtoms here are usually far more severe than mild bloating and lethargy.

However JUST because you feel bloated after eating bread, or another baked good that makes use of yeast doesn't mean you are a celiac, yeast upon contact with moisture, expands and releases gas. This is what happens when it enters your stomach etc and how many people convince themselves they are “gluten intolerant”

But I felt awful after eating large pizza!?

Of course, you just ate a high calorie, high salt, high fat food. Nothing to do with the fact it has gluten in it.

“Yeah but BUT! eating gluten is making me fat!”

 

Well this is funny, because those who are celiac often have a symptom of losing weight! Whats making you fat is eating too many high calorie food that are putting you into a surplus, in other words you're eating too much and not moving enough!

A study from Harvard School of Public Health in March 2017 found that eating gluten was not significantly associated with weight gain, meaning that gluten is not causing you to gain fat it's also not preventing you from losing it.

“But when i stopped eating gluten i lost weight!”

Of course you did, by eliminating gluten foods you have cut out that pizza, cake at the tea rooms, that subway for lunch, basically you likely ate less calories leading to fat loss, without realising.

Water weight vs Fat loss

Firstly, this is NOT a post telling you to stop eating carbs, but i think some people need to understand something about them. for every gram of carbs you eat, your body will store 3 grams of water...

so 100g carb, = 300g water (net 400g weight increase)

so here's some perspective, if i eat 300g of carbs in a day, my body will then hold 900g of water which means a net gain of 1.2kg or over 2lbs

This is NOT fat, this is short term, and can partly explain the wild fluctuation we experience, daily and even hourly in our weight.

This is short term, and if handled correctly can be reduced fairly quickly. often its this water loss that is responsible for many diets, and shake plans causing you to lose "weight" and feeling less bloated.

so can we stop saying carbs are making us fat? they aren't... they may cause an increase in water retention, but overeating is what makes us fat!

so lets go over all of this in more detail!

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If you search “best diet for weight loss” on the internet recently, you will have probably found something called “the ketogenic diet,”which is essentially a rebranded Atkins diet. After a little bit of digging, your questions start to stack up:

  • How does keto work?

  • Will keto work for me?

  • Is it dangerous?

  • Does it burn fat?

  • Will i keep the results?

To answer these questions, we must first understand our body’s relationship with carbs and in particular glycogen.

Ok, what is glycogen?

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Is glycogen a carbohydrate? Well, sort of. Glucose (a type of sugar) is a carbohydrate that your body uses for fuel and glycogen is stored glucose. essentially when the body gets excess fuel, the glucose (sugar) molecules are linked together in a chain, producing longer units, called glycogen.

When we exercise and perform activity our bodies draw upon the glycogen tucked away in our muscles (i.e. glycogen stores) for fuel, which is why you hear about athletes “carb loading” in the days before a big race or match. They are fueling their bodies for extended periods of activity.

So where is glycogen stored?

Like we said above, some glycogen is stored in the muscles but there are also some glycogen stores in the liver (this is important for the water retention aspect, because as we absorb glucose our body will also retain sodium, which leads into the body holding more water. The glycogen stored in the liver is what keeps the body functions running (i.e., brain, digestive, and cardiovascular function).

Am I losing fat or water weight: Carbs and water retention

It’s common for those new to a low-carb lifestyle to lose a significant amount of weight at the very beginning of their carb restriction. That could mean four, 10 or even 12 pounds in the first two weeks depending on a person’s starting weight. You will often see these dramatic results as part of advertising for various fad diets, weight loss/shake plans. You might ask,”is this rate of weight loss sustainable” and the answer is simply, NO.

It’s all about the glycogen stores and the association between carbs and water retention.  Each gram of glycogen is associated with 3-4 grams of water, which i talked about at the very beginning. So, as your body burns its way through the reduced dietary carbs and into the glycogen stores, the water attached to the glycogen is lost as well resulting in the phenomenon commonly known as “losing water weight.” There’s no fat loss here yet, it’s like the glycogen and accompanying water are squeezed out of your muscles and liver, (any fat loss will come from a negative calorie intake, and will be much slower than water loss).

This also explains why plenty of folks experience an alarming weight loss, in a relative short space of time on diets like keto, or protein shake meal replacement diets, and also the vice versa, why people experience shocking weight gain the day following a “cheat meal.” Even if the ingested carbs are at a moderate level (i.e. consumption of a grilled cheese sandwich, not an entire deep-fried birthday cake), your liver and muscles snatch up as much glucose as they can take, including up to four grams of water to accompany each gram of glycogen. I myself experience a weight gain of over 10lbs in 2 days after consuming carbs after my final physique competition of the year, a result of being extremely carb depleted for and extended period of time. Psychologically for me it was important to remember this was water weight i had gain, and not fat.

Will i keep my results?

Well as i stated in the previous section, any fat loss will be the result of a calorie deficit/negative calorie diet. If you maintain the diet structure and activity level that allowed you to achieve this then YES, you will keep your  results. However, any ‘weight loss’ that is a results of simply a reduction in carbs and not calories, will NOT be fat loss, and as soon as you return to eating carbs, your body will hoover up the glucose and lead to the immediate return of water weight.

It is therefore important to understand the difference between ‘water weight’ and ‘fat loss’ and not to wrongly villianise carbs as evil food source that will make you fat.

Conclusion

  • Glycogen is a way the body stores glucose as energy for later

  • Consuming less than 100 grams of carbs per day will begin to deplete glycogen stores

  • Glycogen binds with water molecules; when the body uses glycogen, it results in a loss of “water weight”

  • Depleted glycogen stores will ultimately lead to a reduction in water weight

  • Water weight and fat are separate

  • Fat loss is a result of calorie deficit, but water loss is results or carb reduction

The Metabolism Myth


Hey - it's James here.Founder of Route 1 health and fitness and today I have an important question I'd like to ask you.


Are you actually contributing to your own setbacks?

It's no secret that many of us are in a continual battle with the potential pitfalls that are regularly knocking, hounding us and trying to trip us up, and it's vital that the actions we make aren't adding to this list.

How many of you due to your past experiences with failure, would rather not try, because potentially stumbling again (even if it is a tiny remote chance) is too psychologically painful. .

One of the most important steps you can take toward achieving success is to address misinformation ( everyone has an opinion, but do you know what is actually accurate or who is just after your money?),



Another is to understand or recognise what are your usual pitfalls, and steer yourself toward habits/behaviours that contribute to weight loss (and keeping it off long-term) and any other health and fitness goal you may have.

It is a commonly known fact that on a basic level to achieve weight loss we must be in a calorie deficit, which we do by restricting calories and following an exercise program, simply put ( eating less and moving more as my sister would tell me). Both are crucial parts of a weight loss plan, but when taken to extremes these can leave you miserable and cause more harm than good, physiologically and emotionally, and lead you to fall off the wagon, binge and feel guilty for doing so. Something “extreme” might by going straight into a 7 day workout plan with weights nearly everyday, and ridiculous amounts of cardio, this is insane if you're just starting, it’s unsustainable and reckless.

If anyone tells you to train like this, they either don't know what they are talking about, or are being irresponsible after all are you training for the olympics?, (even i don't do such huge amounts of cardio everyday).

It’s Not JUST a Calorie Deficit

Yes it is true that weight loss is achieved through caloric deficit (calories consumed < calories used = weight loss), the journey though is rarely as easy this equation makes it out to be.

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Above is my own weight loss over the last year and ass you can see it trends down, but it is not a linear straight line. The was a consistent calorie deficit in this period, but many factors lead to minor raises and spikes here and there. Hormones, stress and water retention are all factors to consider, fat loss was consistent, but weight loss as you can see isn't linear.

When we consider how hard it is to actually achieve weight loss, and then throw in all the misinformation and promises of a quick and easy fix, what we have is the perfect storm for failure.

It has been my experience that many trainers offer nothing outside of the ‘numbers’ giving them just the calories and maybe some more nutritional advice but nothing after that. A coach doesn't just simply give you a plan and send you on you're way, a coach should give you this info and then teach you about it, help you to learn to motivate yourself and arm you with adequate info so that you can go forward and achieve long term results

 

A Bad fat loss plan won’t offer any support outside of nutrition.

It is important NOT to be drastic in caloric restriction, because we don't want to create a toxic relationship with food, there’s a sweet spot that can encourage weight loss, but still avoid possible physiological and emotional damage to the you. Studies show that while exercise is important, weight loss from exercise alone is modest and must be combined with a sensible and structured diet that leaves the client in a deficit, it is true what they say, “it is extremely difficult to out train a bad diet.”

In other words, you need to understand two important things:

  1. You need high levels of physical activity.

  2. But your high levels of activity do not have to be vigorous.

That means you do not need to do hours and hours of slogging away on the treadmill each day. Instead, you would benefit more from moderately intense cardio activity for 30 minutes three times per week, with increased walking throughout the day ( i personally do 30 mins of high incline walking on a treadmill several times a week - and burn around 300 calories!).

Is It Possible to Harm Someone’s Metabolism?

This brings us onto the Big Question, the one that many people use as a convenient excuse for their failure due to all the misinformation out there regarding weight loss programmes. can you damage your metabolism through a calorie deficit?

Maybe you've heard horror stories of people whose metabolism was completely wrecked from following low-calorie diets and programs that involved insane levels of activity.

The simple answer is not exactly, this is because as you're body changes so does it's requirements, if you don't make account for these adjustments then it is only logical that results may stagnate as you're body settles and fully adjusts to its’ new composition

The equation for changes in body composition is:

Changes in body stores = energy in – energy out

Think of it this way, if you're in a calorie deficit, and you're losing weight, your body requires a certain amount of calories just to maintain itself, eventually, you're weightloss will match the calorie deficit, and you're weight loss will slow and stop, as you're body composition now matches the required maintenance calories, so to continue weight loss, you must adjust for you new stores and work out what your new calorie deficit must be and vice versa to gain weight. Remember heavier bodies require more energy to move around, therefore require far more calories than a lighter body, so the lighter you are the less you will need.

The above equation holds true for everyone, but there are a lot of other factors that must be considered as well, such as:

  • Sex hormone levels

  • Macronutrient intake

  • Exercise style

  • Age

  • Medication

  • Genetic predisposition

These things should also be considered as variable as they can affect the above equation making it a bit harder to hone in on goals.

To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with the calorie-in-calorie-out equation.

The aim then of this post, really then was to address that a ‘damaged metabolism’ is really just a myth and created through misinformation or spread by lazy trainers and coaches who aren't doing their job properly. (i'm keeping separate those who have medical issues related to their thyroids etc)

To reach your goals, you should learn to recognise what is happening to your body. As you're body settles into its new composition it is important to adjust the required calories for your goals accordingly, the amount of calories your body will need to alter its composition will alter as you do, to match the new requirements.

Tracking your diet accurately is challenging, but the point I’m really trying to highlight is that attributing a lack of weight loss progress to “metabolic damage” is merely convenient and misleading. The truth is, creating a negative energy balance is the only way an individual will lose weight and vice versa.

So now that we have addressed that myth what we need to look at for you is how to prevent pitfalls in the future so you can continue on safely in the knowledge that you are moving on productively to your goals.

  • If your progress begins to slow, remember it is likely you need to adjust for your current body composition as it will have changed significantly from what it was previously.

  • Avoid going on extreme fitness plans, they are unsustainable to the uninitiated and can be harmful to you psychologically as well as physically

  • Train appropriately - moderately intense cardio (30 mins) and weights 3 times a week is more than enough to  start.

  • Make sure you're caloric deficit is enough to nudge you into weight loss, extreme deficits can be damaging mentally and are more likely to leading to you “falling off the wagon”, and going on a binge.

  • If you are making use of a trainer, make sure they offer more than just the ‘basic number’ when it comes to you're nutrition, you want to learn how to structure your diet, as well as understand why you are doing what you're doing.

I see myself not just as a trainer/coach but also a teacher, my ambition is to ensure you understand why you are doing what you're doing and why it is appropriate for your goals. I do this because if you understand why you're doing it, i find that most people are more likely to proceed and achieve success.

One of the keys to your success is understanding how to adapt to your body, when it has adapted its current situation, when you crack this you will be well on the way to achieving your body goals as long as you are consistent