Wednesday, 28 October 2009


Most people start physical training to alter their body shape. A few will be looking to gain muscle size, or train for performance, but most people want to reduce body size (or more importantly; body fat). Making changes to our body shape is predominantly down to what we eat and drink, in other words, calorie control. Yet the shocking truth is, exercise is an inefficient form of calorie control. Yes, you can be fit & fat! Exercise does drive our bodies to change, but slowly without quality fuel. You may have a killer training session in the gym, but a (insert dietary no-no here!) later on can easily undo all that hard work, and even put in more calories than you burned. You could have a great gym, a personal trainer and be following the best program in the world, but if you neglect to put effort into changing your diet, you are setting yourself up to fail, or at best, driving with the handbrake on.

Remember, we get healthy to lose weight, we do not lose weight to get healthy.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Different diets

As I am the process of the Excel Body Transformation process, my dietary intake is foremost in my mind. I would like to take this opportunity to let those of you who do not know, that I am a vegetarian. I am often amused at how shocking this news is to some people! You may find it more shocking to find out that there are many world class athletes who follow a vegetarian diet. Bill Pearl is the first who comes to mind – 4 times Mr Universe – proof that huge muscle growth is possible on a vegetarian diet. Mike Mahler, a world class kettlebell strength & conditioning coach is a Vegan. Other examples are Olympic athlete Carl Lewis and tennis player Martina Navratilova. The list goes on...
With proper planning, it is perfectly possible to obtain all your protein requirements from vegetarian sources. Remember, being a vegetarian doesn't mean excluding a food group. Vegetarians do not excluding protein (or more correctly, amino acids), They simply choose to exclude meat.
Some people may argue that being vegetarian is not a healthy choice, but I would strongly disagree. I have followed a vegetarian diet for many years with exceptional results. However... the bottom line is it works for me. I feel stronger and healthier than I ever did before. There are many dietary options out there – find the one that works for you. If you place or have a restrictive diet for any reason, it does not mean you cannot get the results you want. Do not avoid something because it is difficult – find another way to accomplish your goals.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Remember your first day of kettlebell training?

Do you remember you first KB session? The exercises were strange, they seemed to go on forever (2 or 3 minutes!), hard to co-ordinate.. etc? Do you remember how much you ached over the next few days? How tight your hamstrings were? How sore your bum was? That your abs were on fire and the small of your back felt like a rhino had run you over? Then a few weeks later, several sessions later, how you grew accustomed to the new exercises, how you began to love them, and how exhilerated you felt after a good workout? Well it's time to get those feelings back - all of them! I want you to feel like the exercises are alien. I want you to feel aches in places you didn't know you had. I want you to feel like you've been run over by a rhino.

Don't settle for mediocrity. Don't allow yourself to slip comfortably into knowing the basic KB drills and just going through the motions. Next time grab an unusually large KB and go for it! Really push the pace and make yourself work for something worthwhile. Do not fade to grey in the background, grab your KB, rise up and go for it!

Remember, "Challenge Everything - especially yourself."

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

What fizzy drinks do to you...

Here is an article I found on, written by Liz Lewis. Most people seem to drink Coke, or a similar fizzy drink from time to time. Ever wondered what it did to your system? Read the article below, then tell me if you feel like reaching for a can of Coke again!


Have you ever wondered why Coke comes with a smile? It’s because it gets you high. They took the cocaine out almost a hundred years ago. You know why? It was redundant.

  • In The First 10 minutes: 10 teaspoons of sugar hit your system. (100% of your recommended daily intake.) You don’t immediately vomit from the overwhelming sweetness because phosphoric acid cuts the flavor allowing you to keep it down.
  • 20 minutes: Your blood sugar spikes, causing an insulin burst. Your liver responds to this by turning any sugar it can get its hands on into fat. (There’s plenty of that at this particular moment)
  • 40 minutes: Caffeine absorption is complete. Your pupils dilate, your blood pressure rises, as a response your livers dumps more sugar into your bloodstream. The adenosine receptors in your brain are now blocked preventing drowsiness.
  • 45 minutes: Your body ups your dopamine production stimulating the pleasure centers of your brain. This is physically the same way heroin works, by the way.
  • >60 minutes: The phosphoric acid binds calcium, magnesium and zinc in your lower intestine, providing a further boost in metabolism. This is compounded by high doses of sugar and artificial sweeteners also increasing the urinary excretion of calcium.
  • >60 Minutes: The caffeine’s diuretic properties come into play. (It makes you have to pee.) It is now assured that you’ll evacuate the bonded calcium, magnesium and zinc that was headed to your bones as well as sodium, electrolyte and water.
  • >60 minutes: As the rave inside of you dies down you’ll start to have a sugar crash. You may become irritable and/or sluggish. You’ve also now, literally, pissed away all the water that was in the Coke. But not before infusing it with valuable nutrients your body could have used for things like even having the ability to hydrate your system or build strong bones and teeth.

This will all be followed by a caffeine crash in the next few hours. (As little as two if you’re a smoker.) But, hey, have another Coke, it’ll make you feel better.

*FYI: The Coke itself is not the enemy, here. It’s the dynamic combo of massive sugar doses combined with caffeine and phosphoric acid. Things which are found in almost all soda.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

One Rep Max

Firstly, to explain, a “one-rep max” is the maximum amount of weight you can shift, only once and no more, through a particular exercise. There is nothing wrong with this, everybody has a one-rep max, but for the majority of us we will realistically never find out what that is.

Yet so often I see programs designed using the “one-rep max” as a base for calculating the desired weights. The most recent I read was where an instructor was advising people to use a weight that was 50% of their one-rep max for 2 sets of 12 reps. From reading what he had written, the plan was designed for average people just wanting to achieve a all-around general level of health & fitness – non-specific. Performing a one-rep max requires perfect technique, a solid and strong muscular base of not only the desired muscles for the exercise, but also the deeper stabilising muscles. For this demographic of people, their fitness levels are nowhere near high enough to ever perform a one-rep max without a good chance of injury. How is such a person then supposed to calculate the right weight to use, if they need to know their “one-rep max” to start that equation?

Knowing your one-rep max is only useful if you are interested in performing it. A far better way to ascertain the right weight to use is as follows: If you are performing 12 reps, choose a weight that you can perform correctly 12 times. If you can do 14 or 15, the weight is too light. If you can’t manage 12 clean reps, the weight is too heavy.
So forget about your one-rep max, unless you are training specifically to perform such an optimal feat of strength.

How Badly Do You Want It?

Everyday I have people telling me that they either want to, or need to, get fitter and/or lose weight. I have many people who constantly tell me that they are going to join the gym ‘soon’, or that they want personal training ‘soon’. Whilst this is encouraging, to know that people are thinking about improving their health and fitness, it is also disheartening when time passes and they never actually follow through with their plans.

Whilst I do not dispute that people want to lose fat weight and improve strength & fitness, the actual desire to achieve those goals is seriously lacking.
Almost everybody wants to achieve more, whether it is fitness, financial, spiritual or otherwise. But in order to do so effort is required. The greater the goal the more effort is required. To be blunt, most people are lazy and will fail. Sitting on the sofa, watching television, eating a ready meal is far easier than getting down the gym for a serious workout followed by a planned and cooked from scratch healthy meal.

Time to separate the men from the boys. You can either be living a fit, healthy life, or you can be a coach-potato who dreams about it.

If you have the desire and motivation, you will do what it takes to achieve your dreams. You realise that in order to achieve what you desire, you have to get up and work at it. Only then will you turn those dreams into reality.

To achieve what you want, you have to want it badly enough. So the question remains, how baldy do you want it?

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Benefits Of Kettlebell Training

Kettlebells offer a true total-body workout, challenging both the cardiovascular and the muscular systems, so strength & fitness training in one. A specific area of focus for kettlebell movements is the Posterior Chain, which is (primarily) the hamstrings, the glutes and the erector spinae - the muscles most responsible for strength, power & stability. Most people have underdeveloped posterior chains, and as a result can (in the case of an athlete) fail to achieve their potential or (in the case of the average person) suffer from back pain/injuries.

The first kettlebell exercise taught is the Swing. This movement is designed to generate power from the hips, using the posterior chain. Performing kettlebell swings as part of your exercise program will develop a powerful back, engage your core muscles and rapidly increase muscular endurance. You will become stronger, more explosive and fitter than ever before. Performing this one exercise will have enormous benefits to you, and provide a great introduction to the kettlebell, and a new way of thinking about exercise.

How to perform the Swing:

The first thing to remember is to keep your back straight. Rounding out your back will mean a loss of power and potential injury. Next your hips need to move back & down - as in a deadlift. Now pick the kettlebell up, letting it hang from both hands. Allow the kettlebell to swing DIRECTLY underneath your body, NOT down by your knees. Then using your hips, drive the kettlebell upwards in an arc, only to the height of your shoulders. Some arm/shoulder involvement is inevitable, but this is NOT a front raise. All the power comes from the hip thrust. When the kettlebell swings back through your legs, your wrists should touch the upper inside of your thighs - like an American Footballer hiking the ball behind him. Use a weight that challenges you, then perform the swings for 2 minutes - 30 seconds in both hands, 30 seconds in your right hand, 30 in your left hand, and the last 30 seconds hand to hand. When changing hands do so at the top of the swing, where the kettlebell is weightless.


Friday, 13 March 2009

Training For Combat Athletes

How can an athlete best prepare themselves? If you are a wrestler, the best training for you is wrestling. If you are a boxer, the best training is boxing. Make no mistake; nothing can replace actual training in your specific discipline. That being said, if you neglect conditioning training in addition to combat training, you are missing a huge opportunity. If you are going to step into a gladiatorial arena, you had better make sure you are in the best shape of your life. Bruce Lee said that training (fitness conditioning) was one of the most neglected aspects of a fighter’s development.

Many fighters are training though - incorrectly. Too many are still making the mistake of training like bodybuilders. Sure the muscles are impressive, even intimidating, but functional they are not. The physical movements you go through in conditioning training must mimic the actual combat movements you will perform during a fight, preferably under greater resistance and for more time. This is functional training - teaching the body to move in ways that will benefit your sport.

One of the most important aspects of functional training is core training. The core muscles (stomach, back, hip & leg (hamstrings) muscles) are the centre of your body's strength & power. They are the bridge between the upper body and the lower body. Core training is the only way to effectively co-ordinate the upper and lower body muscles. The 'secret' is to training this area is to recruit the muscles together whilst exercising, and not to train them in isolation. This is where kettlebell training comes in...

...more to follow...

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Exercise myths

Number 1:
“The Fat Burning Zone”

This is the one that really drives me crazy, especially when fitness trainers perpetuate it. The myth is born out of fact, but let me explain: When you exercise at a low-intensity, the body burns mostly fat. As the exercise intensity increases, the body will burn a greater percentage of stored carbohydrates and a lesser percentage of fat. This is all true. BUT if you look at the total amount of fat/calories burned during exercise, as your intensity increases, so does the total amount of fat that you are burning – therefore the greater your exercise intensity, the more fat you will burn. Low intensity equals low results, remember that next time you are reading a magazine whilst training!
ANSWER: Increasing the exercise intensity will increase the amount of fat burned.

Number 2:
“Sit ups will give you awesome abs”

Everybody already has abs (If you didn’t, you would have serious problems), they are just hidden underneath a layer of fat. The models on the covers of magazines follow very strict diets in order to reveal the abs they already have. So if want a six-pack, you need to really focus on your diet firstly. Once you have stripped away the fat the abs will be revealed. If you desire more prominent abs or better separation/definition, then hammer the ab exercises!
ANSWER: Focus on your dietary intake to reveal your abs.

Number 3:
“Using resistance machines to lose weight”
Every day I see people following the same, mundane gym programs, moving from one machine to another, in a vain attempt to lose weight. They spend 10 minutes on CV equipment (usually with very little effort), then they hit the resistance equipment, because some instructor has written them this mindless program. Please people, 2 sets of 10 bicep curls will NOT help you lose weight. Exercising muscles in isolation, for a (usually) pitiful 2 or 3 sets of 8 or 10 reps will NOT help. There is nothing wrong with the exercise itself; it is just the wrong exercise prescription for fat loss. Of course, focusing on your diet is the most effective method to alter body dimensions.
ANSWER: Focus more on CV equipment. Get your heart rate up and keep it up. Sweat and get out of breath, and burn some calories!

Number 4:
“Lifting weights will make me bulky”
I have lost count of the number of times I have heard the phrase: "I don't want to get TOO big..." - - - If only it was that easy! Firstly for women – you do not have the levels of testosterone in your body to build the sort of muscle you are worried about, so unless you take artificial enhancers, you needn’t worry. For men – if you do not want to be the next Arnold, don’t worry, unless you are training and eating like he did (very few people can honestly say they are!). Bodybuilding is a serious science that requires so much attention, that the only people who will be successful at it are those who fully intend on bodybuilding from the start. You won’t be Mr Universe by accident…
ANSWER: Bulking up muscle is very difficult, especially for women. Lifting weights will NOT turn you into Arnold. Stop worrying and start training!

Number 5:
“Bigger equals stronger”
Most people think the bigger you are, the stronger you are. Most myths are born out of some level of truth, and this is no different. Bigger people are often stronger, but bigger muscles do not mean more strength. The best example is to look at bodybuilders and Olympic powerlifters. Bodybuilders have huge muscles, but they train for size and symmetry, not strength. The powerlifters are way stronger.
ANSWER: Looks are deceiving. Size does not equal strength.
Remember - Challenge everything! Especially yourself.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Tuesday, 6 January 2009


My training philosophy and concept is quite literally: Simplicity. I do not believe in complicating things for the sake of it, or to keep up with the latest fad. Use the simplest methods to attain the maximum results possible.

The 2nd rule is intensity. Too many people fail in their fitness endeavours due to a lack of intensity. Do not worry about the amount of weight you are lifting or the distance you are running (unless of course they are specific to your goals), worry about the amount of effort you are putting into your workout.

The 3rd rule is diet. If you want your body to change - more muscle, less fat, different size, different shape, etc… you must eat correctly. There is a saying: “Garbage in, garbage out”, and you must remember this when fuelling your body for exercise. If you want to train effectively and have your body respond efficiently, you have to eat the right foods in the right quantities with the right frequency. If you do not, you will set yourself up to fail.

The 4th rule is training correctly. This means doing the correct type of training for your goals, as well as training correctly – ie: form. Too many people do the wrong type of training and that is why they do not see results. Others are too worried about advancing quickly and they let their form suffer, and as a result do not get the full benefit of the exercise (as well as run the risk of injury).

Lastly, but by no means any less important, is rest. Without effective rest we will burn out our bodies and fail in our endeavours. You have to allow the body sufficient time to recover between workouts, as well as a good regular sleeping pattern, and avoiding stresses where possible.

Welcome to 2009

Welcome to BODYQUEST in 2009! I have started this blog to share my views on health & fitness, and I welcome any questions or comments. I hope that I will be able to dispel some of the myths, as well as encourage people to lead healthier lives.

Thank you for visiting!