Monthly Archives: December 2014

Christmas fat loss – 5 tips to help you avoid adding the festive 5kg!

Christmas is just around the corner and that usually means festive weight gain for a lot of folks. With all the food available on the day as well as nights out, having friends round for present swaps, Christmas markets and all the other opportunities to indulge in a little ( or a lot of) packing your face with so many tasty things, how do you remain on track with your goals and enjoy yourself?


1. On Christmas day, with all that delicious and amazing food on offer, I have one piece of advice – Go for it. Seriously. Just go for it. Call it the cheat meal of the year and eat whatever the hell you want. It’s Christmas for crying out loud, enjoy it.

2. Christmas calories are still calories, so still be aware of what you are eating and try to load up on protein and veggies, all those roasted, mashed, and however else you have them will be calling your name and have them to round out your meal, not make up the bulk of it.

3. I forget where I saw this one, but the first bite rule is great. If you don’t nearly pass out with joy at the first bite of something at a buffet or snack table, don’t have more. Stick to the best, most tastiest foods and don’t just eat it because it’s there. Eat slowly, no one is gonna steal the food from your plate, enjoy it, savour it and take your time.

4. Remember you are an adult, eat like one. If you are gonna have snacks and chocolate and whatnot, make it the good stuff.

5. Remember,it’s Christmas day, not Christmas month! Sure there will be a couple of extra days of leftovers and festive lunches/ dinners/ nights out but remember to keep your goal in mind and don’t undo all the hard work you’ve done to this point.

6. If you heading for a night out, eat before you go. You will be less tempted to snack or grab something deep fried on the way home! Eating is definitely not cheating.

7. Everyone like a good beer or 3 and at this time of the year the opportunities to partake are more common than at most other times of the year. Remember that alcohol is usually calorific and it’s very easy to get a couple of extra thousand cals in over the course of a week or so that will really hamper your ability to maintain the progress you have made. As with point 3 above, keep to the good stuff, enjoy it and think quality over quantity.


Remember that this time of year isn’t the time for losing weight, it should be a time to relax a little and focus on maintaining the progress you have made and it can be a lot easier than you think.

Remember, quality over quantity.




Movements over muscles

Let’s face it, eeeeverybody loves to throw in some bicep curls or some leg extensions at the end of a workout or 2 just for the hell of it and to get a little bit of a pump in the muscles, but that’s not what the basis of your workout should be.

Think about your daily life, when do you ever use a single muscle group in isolation? Very rarely if ever, so why train in isolation? (We’ll come to this in a second…) Everything you do is a combination of a variety of muscle groups working together to create the movement you want and training should in many ways reflect that.

There are 5 basic groups that all movements can be broken down into:



Hip dominant/ “hinge” movements

Knee dominant/ squat movements

Loaded carries

Everything is either a pure version of one of these or a combination of 2.

Some direct work is good but to supplement your main training and help remove weaknesses from any of your bigger compound lifts such as deadlifts, squats etc. Like nutritional supplements, you should be only using them as needed, to supplement your training and not to replace the main training you do.

 Options options options

If you can’t do an exercise for any reason, space or equipment, then think about the movement you are training and here is a list (not comprehensive at all but it’ll help you out) of exercises that you can swap in as an alternative as needed. The best option at the top of the list, working down progressively easier alternative.


Hip Dominant

Deadlift options


Romanian deadlift

Kettlebell deadlift (allows you to keep your shoulders back and work through a full range of movement)


Front loaded Good morning


Hip thrust options

Single leg barbell hip thrust (shoulders elevated glute bridge)

Barbell hip thrust

Barbell glute bridge (shoulders on floor – smaller range of movement)

Single leg bodyweight hip thrust

Single leg bodyweight glute bridge

Glute bridge


Knee Dominant

Barbell back squat

Barbell front squat

Double kettelbell racked squat

Single KB racked squat

Goblet squat

Bodyweight squat


Horizontal Push

Bench press

Kettlebell bench press

Dumbbell press

Single arm DB/KB press (The KB options change the loading by putting the load outside of the line of force from your elbow to your wrist)

DB floor press

Feet elevated push up


Incline pushup


Vertical Push

Strict barbell shoulder press (no or very little leg drive to assist)

High incline seated barbell shoulder press

Barbell push press

High incline seated DB/KB shoulder press

DB/KB shoulder press

Landmine press (Tall kneeling, half kneeling, standing in descending order of difficulty)


Horizontal Pull

Bentover barbell row

Bentover DB/KB row

Seated cable row

TRX row


Vertical Pull

Wide grip pull up

Close grip pull up

Neutral grip pull up

TRX pull up from knees (allows some assistance from the feet at the top end of the range of movement)

Pull down


Loaded carry

Overhead Carry

Single arm overhead carry

1 hand farmers carry

2 handed farmers carry


While this is not an exhaustive list, there are many more options and variations that could be added, it is enough to give you plenty of alternatives if needed!

Hope these help and if you have any questions , please ask.

Stay strong


You should calorie count. (at least for a while…)

Calorie counting sucks. It’s boring, can be time consuming and quite often inaccurate.

But I believe you should do it, for a little while anyway. And here are 5 reasons why:

1. Most people don’t know where their calories come from. Yes, smartass, they come from food, but most folks don’t appreciate how they can “eat healthy” and still gain weight. Weight gain is simply a matter of more cals in than out, the excess is stored as fat. The issue is that even with some of the “healthier” options out there contain a lot more calories than you would think and tracking allows you to highlight this.

Fruit juice smoothies are a prime example, bright, fruit (juice) filled, tasty, these have to be great for you, right? Well yes they are, kinda. But if your goal is fat loss, some of the options I’ve looked at work out at around 600kcals and 90-100g sugar. A bottle of coke on the other hand has around 40g of sugar. Without the fibre you would get if you eat the fruit instead of squeezing the juice out and discarding the rest, your body breaks it down and treats it the same as the sugar from the coke.

2. If you track your food intake, it will automatically make you think about what you are eating. If you do it consistently, it will also make you adjust your portion sizes. Eating well is great, over eating good, nutritious food is still taking in too many cals though and the outcome is the same.

3. It helps you find both good and bad habits in your nutrition habits. Too much sugar, not enough protein, not enough fibre or fat are typical issues I see in food logs, on their own, each has associated issues but as most people have at least 3 of these at one time and there are plenty issues to tackle. Tracking allows you to highlight these and begin adjusting accordingly.

On the positive side, tracking allows you to see what you are already doing well with and maintain it whilst fixing the other issues.

4. You don’t need to do it forever. Once you get a handle on correct portion control, gain some insight into where your calories are coming from and start building some better nutritional habits, you can cut down how often you track and use it as a check-in to monitor progress and adjust as necessary. I “check in” using myfitnesspal every 2 or 3 weeks, or if I feel I’m slipping a little.

5. It will allow you to find what ratio of macronutrients are good for you. Depending on body type, activity level, body composition and a host of other factors, your body reacts to different ratios of protein, carbs and fat more positively than others. Ectomorphs with very high activity levels can handle up to 50% carbs and a lower fat %, whilst a sedentary endomorph may only need 25% carbs and up to 35-40% fat intake. Tracking allows you to adjust your intake as needed.

If you are having trouble dropping or increasing your weight (I’m looking at you “hard gainers” here), try tracking for a short while and see how you could adjust your eating habits to get more success.


Stay healthy