Monthly Archives: October 2014

Train log week of 31th Oct

Tuesday /10/14

Squats warmup 8  x bar, 60,100

Felt good on these today, total volume was up from 1880kg to 1900kg

RDL  4×8@140, 150, 155, 155

Bentover barbell row 3×8@70kg

Triple set:

Countdown leg ext, 10-1 @65kg

Goblet squat 1-10 @24

Walking lunge 8 per side


Thurs 30/10/14

Short on time today

Bench press warm up at 20, 60, 100×3

Working sets 4×2@110kg, 1×2@120 felt much stronger this week

DB bench 60 total reps @ 28kg, 20, 15, 10, 8,4, 3

Double drop set cable flyes

6@20kg, 12@10, 25 @6.25 twice through

Light db presses alt between wide and neutral, 2x50totalreps at 8kg


Fri 31/10/14
warmup 20, 60, 100, 140, 180
dropped back to 200 but it wouldnt budge so dropped to 180 for the last set and wanted to finish strong, 10 reps
Chest sup row 3×12 @34kg
Supersetted with chest sup reverse flyes 10kg with extreme fat grips 3×10
Double KB racked squat with 16kg 2×15
Front loaded good morning 2×12 @30kg
100 total reps of cable crunches at 50KG
Have an awesome week

Sets and reps – getting the best out of them

Traditional thoughts on sets and reps says do 3 sets of 10 or 4 sets of 6 but there are more interesting ways to think about how to get the volume in your training that you need.

Typically you will see 3×10 or 4×8 for your sets and rep schemes, but there are occasions where you don’t hit the required number or the jump to the next load is too big, so what can you do?

I usually use rep ranges to allow for some growth and increased volume at one load before increasing the load and building a little more strength.

For example:

DB press 3 x 8-12 reps. Say you start at 20kg and can get 3 sets of 8 reps but thats about the limit. Great, you are in the range required but there is room for improvement. Next time you hit 10, 8, 8. A 2 rep improvement, the next week you go for 12, 10, 8, another 4 rep improvement (6 reps up on the first week). So on until you hit 3 sets of 12 and its time to up the load and the process repeats giving you gradual increases every week.

If the first 2 sets fly up easy, then you increase the load for the a=last set and see where you are with it, but if you don’t hit the minimum number in the first set then you need to drop the load a little and build up.


The same idea works for strength sets where you are working for much lower reps but at higher loads. I really like 5 x 5 but sometimes, you won;t hit 5 full sets of 5 reps, but if you hit 5,4,4,3,3 on your working sets then next time you shoot for say, 5,5,5,4,4 and you have an increase in total volume and you’re that little bit stronger. Progress again.


The other way to think about your reps is by looking at total reps done, for example you have 3 sets of 12 to do, thats 36 total reps, but you may not be able to get 3 sets of 12 reps out at the required load. So break it down into smaller pieces, each no bigger than 12 but as small as needed to get the reps done. For example you may get 12, 12, 8, 4. That’s 36 total reps. Once you get to 3x 12 then up the load and go again.

There are rules with this one though,

1 – there has to be an upper limit on each set, usually around 12, 10 or 8 for your mid rep sets and total volume would be 30-40 reps typically

2 – the upper limit for strength should be 6 with a total volume of around 10 (5×2) to 25 (5×5)

3 – rest times need to be appropriate. sets should be as quick as possible with enough time for adequate rest. Strength sets need around 2-3 mins max and the rest should be around a minutes rest.


Any questions on this or any topic, just get in touch!

Stay strong



To track or not track…

When it comes to changes in body shape and composition it ultimately comes down to calories in versus calories out. Sure, there are a whole host of factors that tie into this equation and will all affect where your baseline calorie number sits, but ultimately the number calories in  (and their ratios) versus calories out is the deciding factor.

I believe that tracking your food intake is vital to your success in fatloss, muscle gain, performance and health. It doesn’t have to be done forever, but you have to do it. For a while anyway…

Let’s get this out of the way first, it’s boring, can be time consuming at first, and just a little bit dull. That said it gives a lot back:

  • better calorie awareness. You can see where your calories are coming from and you might be surprised at some the extra cals sneaking in
  • better macronutrient awareness. You see where your calories are coming from, protein, fat or carbs.
  • improved nutrient awareness. You can see what foods are giving you a good range of essential nutrients such as  vitamins and minerals
  • greater ability to maximise your calories allowances and potentially eat more food!

In my experience, the first 2 points are the big ones, calorie and macro awareness are huge, and a lot of folks are surprised at just how off track (pardon the pun) they are. Thinking you are eating well and tracking to see if you actually are are often miles apart in terms of your accuracy.

Here are a few guidelines to help you out and get oyu on your way and help maximise the trackers ability to help you. I use MyFitnessPal as I’ve found it to be the most reliable and consistent.

  1. find your start point
  2. be consistent,
  3. be accurate
  4. assess and adjust as needed

1 – Starting point – ladies, multiply your weight in pounds (kg x 2.2) by 11 to 14 to get a calorie range, pick a starting point in the range. Gents, multiply by 15-18 and pick somewhere in the middle.

Start there. For your macros, this is a good guide to finding your starting macros.

2 – Consistency. You need to consistently track in order to see how close to your target you are. Now, don’t expect to be perfect straight off the bat, it takes time to get into the habit and you will slip up now and again. Don’t worry and get back to it asap.  One bad meal doesn’t ruin your efforts.

one bad meal

3 – This is important, you need to weigh your foods, at least initially to get an idea of just how much you are eating, its really easy to over/ under estimate your intake here.

4 – once you have consistently tracked for around 2 weeks, there will be one of 3 possible outcomes:

– You stay the same. Drop 200 kcals off your target cals and continue at the lower level. Assess and      adjust in another 2 weeks.

– You gain weight. This suggests your target cals are too high, don’t worry, you can adjust down by        2-300kcals and continue. (I’m assuming here that your metabolism is good and there are no issues      there.)

– You lose a little weight. This is ideal, you’re in a small calorie deficit and assuming you are hitting     your protein and fat numbers, and strength training, you are losing fat and not precious muscle.           Continue with these numbers until things slow and adjust down as needed.

You don’t need to track forever, just until you get a handle on how much you need and have a reasonably good awareness of the calorie and macronutrient content of your foods is. It can be a little tedious, it can be a little time consuming, but once it’s done you are on track to you success!

Any questions on this or any other topic, please get in touch and I’ll be happy to answer!


Stay healthy


Train log week of 20th Oct


Monday 20/10/14

Squats warmup 8  x bar, 60,100

Switch to 5×2 on squats felt good, strong last set!

Wide grip deadlift ( held on to the plates)  3×8@110

This forced me to get flatter but holding the plates meant i could stay neutral through my back

 Double KB racked squats 60 total reps with 2x16kg. Went light with these as its been a while. glad i did… 20 reps, 15, 15,10
100 total reps of reverse crunch, keeping it tight.

Thurs 23/10/14

Short on time today

Deadlift warmup 10x bar, 8x 60, 100, 5×140, 180

2@200, 205, 210, 215, 220,

Felt strong and since I was short on time I kept going…

2@227.5, 2 @230kg.

First time over 500lbs!!!

Increase of 5kg in about 6 weeks

Sat 25/10/14
Bench press – warmup 10x bar, 8×60
2 reps at 100, 105, 105, 110, 115
Then 1 decent rep at 120 and a second spotted rep. needed help on this one!
DB bench 4×10, 3s ecc @30kg
Pec flye 4×12, 3s ecc and con at 30kg
Incline DB bench 4×10 at 24kg
Kneeling hi-lo cable flyes 4×12 at 7.5kg
Not heavy loads but my chest and arms were beat after what already had been done
Cable resisted pushups – 3 sets to failure
The doms from this is gonna be a bitch…
Have an awesome week

Pull up progressions

Catchy title huh? I really need to work on some better titles for these things…


Anyways, when I get a new client in, I have a challenge for them – to get a good pull up done. It’s a great marker of strength to weight ratio and it looks pretty bad ass too 🙂

Now let’s be clear, I’m not talking about the kipping pullup or the flail around and try to kick your way up option you often see. I mean a full bodyweight, deadhang, chin over the bar pull up that everyone can recognise as awesome.

Not this…

My own thoughts on progressions were to use the assisted pull up station to provide a way to gain the strength to lift more and more of your bodyweight until you got close enough to be able to work on some eccentric (lowering only ) variations and BOOM!! pull ups were just around the corner.

Alas, I was sadly mistaken.

I came to realise that the help that the assisted pull ups gave was too uniform i.e. it gave the same help at all the way through the movement, where in fact more help is needed towards the top of the movement. Bands don’t help as they give all the help at the bottom, precisely where you don’t need it. So, what to do…?

Trx progressions are the missing link between assisted and full pull ups. They allow you to get the assistance you need (at the top, remember?) and start to “feel” what a pull up really feel like.

The set up on this is straightforward, shorten the TRX straps as much as needed to allow you to sit or kneel below the anchor point holding the handles with your arms fully extended above you.  Now, pull. That’s it, all the way till your chin passes your hands and your elbows are neatly tucked in at your sides. Then control the lowering phase till you reach full extension again. Repeat.

Simple right?

The great thing about this option is it gives you the ability to use your feet to help as they are still on the ground and you can push as much as needed with them to get you to the top, as you get stronger, you need the assistance less and less and the transition to full pull ups is not far away.


  • Start with TRX rows, aiming to get to inverted rows. Once you hit a really good 2 or 3 reps, you can transition to TRX pull ups
  • Option 1 is in a seated position with your feet out in front. Pushing your heels into the floor helps and you can lean back into it a little.
  • Option 2 is seated with your feet up on a box. Makes the pull harder, and the assistance is less.
  • Option 3 is on your knees, this keeps you from leaning back and makes the pull up vertical.
  • Think about pulling your elbows down to your sides and not about pulling you up. This helps get the lats doing the work as they should be and not trying to focus on the biceps.

From here full weight eccentric (lowering only) holds come round. Jump up to the bar and hold the top position for 2-3 seconds before lowering yourself slowly to the bottom. Repeat for 4-5 reps.

From here, with a bit of practice, a full range pull up and lower is right around the corner.

Once you have 1 good rep, this simple finisher will help build the volume without the need for high reps.

Push up x8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1,

Pull up x 1-3

KB swing x 10

Rest as needed.

It would look like this, 8 push up, 1-3 pull ups (as you are able), 10 KB swings, 7 push ups, 1-3 pull ups, 10 swings, etc etc etc


Have fun, stay strong.



Train log week of 6th Oct

Thought I’d start logging my training and thoughts on it on here too 🙂

Monday 6/10/14

Squats warmup 5  x bar, 60,100
2×5@100 3 sec pause

Squats were feeling great this week, after last weeks struggles (finished on 2 sets of 4 at 145kg, it felt terrible) these were feeling strong.

RDL 3×8@140

Bodyweight circuit – 3 rounds
Single leg Squat to 40cm box x5/side
Standing long jump x15
Walking lunge x20/side

This was my colleague Shaynes idea…

Leg ext 65kg x10,9,8,7…3,2,1
Goblet Squat 22kg x1,2,3…7,8,9,10

Wed 8/10/14
Bench press warmup x8 @bar, 60

Felt ok through the first 3 sets, last 2 not so much…
Dips  3×15
Db press 3×20@20kg
Playing around with some higher rep stuff

Seated row 3×6@70kg
Double drop set 6@70,12@50,25@30kg

chest sup DB row 3×12-15 @30kg
Chest sup Rev fly 3×10@12

Core circuit  x2
Rev crunch x15
Leg lowers x10 slow
Dragon flag x5

Sat 11/10/14
warmup bar x12, 60×8, 100×6, 140×6, 180×5
2×5@200, 5@205, 5@210, 5@200
Felt good throughout these, slight increase on 5 sets of 5 at 200kg last week.
Bentover row 3×10 @60
First time on this in a while, felt solid throughout, weight can increase next time
Front squat 4×8@60 with pause at full depth
Feeling out my ROM on these, felt strong throughout
Seated row 3×7@70 – looking to build to 4×8 before increasing the load.
1 arm cable reverse fly, 3×15 @3.75
Capt chair leg raises 10, 9, 8, 7…3,2,1 starting the set at the top of the first minute, then resting till 30secs, then set 2 starts and rest till the top of the next minute.
This was good, challenging but effective!

Which should I choose?

How do you know which are the best exercise for you? Last time I checked there were approximately 540,832* different exercise options out there, so which do you go for? Lets see if I can help guide your choice a little…

1. Is it relevant to your goals?

2. Do you sufficient strength/ mobility/ stability to perform the exercise option well?

3. Do you have the equipment needed?

4. Does it challenge you enough?

* this number mayor may not be made up…

beauty in simplicity

Let’s not over complicate matters, keep it simple and add in some variety as needed, but let’s look at the points above.

1. Is it relevant. If your goal is fat loss, then may I suggest that loads of isolation work is unnecessary at first. Sure, everyone likes blasting a body part everynow and again, but your goal dictates that you should use big movements that involve lots of muscle groups and work movements not individual muscles. Think deadlift and squat variations.

With the squat for example, I would usually go with goblet squats until you can handle a 24 or 26kg for comfortable sets of 10, then progress to the front squat and finally, if appropriate, the back squat.

And in all honesty, regardless of your goal, you really need to be squatting!

2. This is the big one, can you move well enough, stabilise well enough and are you strong enough for the exercise you want to do? Take the Rear foot elevated split squat (a.k.a. the bulgarian split squat) as an example. Great exercise for the legs, hips and core but if you can’t get into position or aren’t stable enough once you get there to work through a decent range of movement, then you need to regress until you find a suitable option. Keeping your back foot on the floor in a static lunge, or holding on to a support will help assuming no bigger issues are present.

Once you gain confidence at one option on an exercise then you can challenge yourself with higher loads or a less stable position as progressions.

3. This really should be an obvious one, but sometimes I wonder…

If you pick a training plan that calls for a range of equipment that you don’t have, then you aren’t going to be sticking with the plan all that long. Sure, there are alternatives to most exercises but guess what? If you swap out an exercise, not talking regressing to find your level, I’m talking full swap, then you aren’t doing the training plan anymore! When picking exercises, think not only of the equipment you have, but also where in the gym the equipment is situated. Don’t superset 2 exercises that are diagonally opposite each other in far flung corners of the gym, you’ll piss off the rest of us in the gym and take up time crisscrossing the gym between sets!

4. Push ups are great. I really like them as an exercise but there are limitations. If you do them well.

Once the push up is mastered, then you have to challenge yourself, add a weight vest for an external load, raise your feet off the floor, destabilise your support to challenge yourself and continue to make progress. eventually though, if you want to continue to progress you have to move on to a dumbbell press or bench press option. Not that you would give up on the push up entirely, everyone , regardless of ability level, can benefit from pushups in there program, but as a primary exercise you will eventually move on.


With those thoughts in mind, hopefully your exercise choices have become a little clearer!

Stay strong,