Do you really want to lose weight?

Or do you:

  • Want to feel good?
  • Want to feel stronger? 
  • Want more confidence?
  • Want to lose some unneeded body fat?
  • Want to be happier looking at yourself in the mirror?
  • Want to be capable of more physical tasks?
  • Want to choose better eating habits? 
  • Want to set a healthy example to your family, your children, your friends? 
  • Or do you just want to lose weight?

Just a short post for now, but I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to tell me what you want below.


Celebrate the smallest of wins for long term success

‘What’s the smallest act of change you consider reasonable?’

I’ll ask a fat loss client to list the things that need to change, as they see it, in order to start losing unwanted body fat. (Yes, it’s called fat loss, not weight loss). We look a which of these changes score high on a resistance scale and score them out. By resistance I mean items on the list that raise some doubts of changing. Even the smallest of resistance will halt progress at some point. That low resistance item – that’s what we’ll work on first but, reducing it further into the most reasonable small act of change.

Whether the conversation is about eating fewer processed foods or taking up a new exercise habit, it starts best with the most reasonable small act of change.

Want to start walking but not sure if a 5km walk is going to be actionable? Start by putting your shoes on and walking outside. If you continue, success. If you come back in again, still a success. Next time, try a few more steps out the drive way, up the street, round the block. You can see how it can grow.  

You change best by feeling good

Success ‘is’ every single positive step forward, no matter how small. Each and every step forward deserves a celebration, because it feels good, not to show off and seek social media likes! That celebration can be a ‘YES’ inside your head, a smile, or a fist pump – it all feels good. Feeling good feels good.

Celebrate every single success no matter how small. It feels good and feeling good feels good. 

You change best by feeling good

40 Day Program

Training programs are like trees in a forest… really, hear me out. Some are flimsy and get blown over with the slightest breeze. Others are old, woody, evergreens, firmly rooted and never change and don’t do much. Others however, look oddly simple for most of the time until they bare their fruit. See what I’ve done there… sigh, I know, my writing skills need a bit of attention!

What I’m getting at is that some programs are weak and aimless, some are steeped in traditional program modelling with a strong following of trainees busting a gut but getting no where quickly or safely. However, some other training programs are simple to look at, don’t conjure up much outcome expectation but then, whammy, after a couple of weeks following it you realise you’ve stumbled upon a forbidden fruit. Bam!

mango tree

KISS principles (keep it simple stupid) along with Paretos 80:20 law suggests taking away the activities that provide very little bang for their buck or low returns for the energy investment you put in. They suggest you spend your time on the activities that offer the biggest return. In the case of the 40 Day Program these happen to be fundamental human movements, for 5 days a week, for 40 sessions.

  • A hip dominant movement that could be a deadlift or squat pattern
  • A push variation
  • A pulling variation
  • A ballistic exercise such as the Kettlebell swing
  • and an abdominal bracing exercise.

The 40 Day Program subtly gives consideration to mastery of skill in its high frequency training model and not over stressing the central nervous system. In the program you never max out, never push to the point of missing a lift. You work to a comfortably moderate limit where you may leave 1 or 2 reps in the tank per set. This program is a good example of what to strive for over the vast majority of the year between trying out other higher stress programs or peaking for events.

Many programs have shown that accumulating between 200-280 reps of any big lift at an average level, is optimal over the course of a month. Take a look at most standard programs that suggest 2 exercises per ‘body part’ or movement with a 3×10 structure – this accumulates 240 over 4 weeks. However, these tend to require very infrequent training, maybe once a week and don’t allow a trainee to really spend time getting to know the exercise aka mastering the skill the movement. They smash out their 60 reps and don’t do the exercise again for another 5-7 days!

The 40 Day Program has benefitted many trainees around the world, both beginners and very experienced lifters. Many report great strength improvements without ever really stressing. Many report losing body fat without ever getting really out of breath or reaching for the puke bucket. Many report gaining muscle despite never maxing out, drop setting, pumping out.

Mmmmm… Yes, there are many methods and training models outside of the standard bodybuilding models.

How does the program work? 

Paul McIlroy of Centaur in Belfast recently talked about this approach of training and gradually increasing our training limits by working throughout the ranges of our comfort zone at intensities between 60% ish to 85% ish.The podcast where he talks about it is here.

My simple thoughts: By increasing the range of our comfort zones we push up the limits of our strength. By more frequently and moderately stressing our muscles we invite hypertrophy. By training at submaximal levels we are allowed to train frequently and burn off more calories.

How I modified the program to suit my needs

A combination of factors lead me to choose my 5 exercises.

  1. A recent hip irritation and glute / hamstring imbalance lead me to take on the single leg deadlift.
  2. A target of mine for the near future is to front squat double 40kg kettlebells. I’m using the 40 sessions to develop a strong base to push forward toward this goal.
  3. Bottom Up (BU) Press. Shoulder pains have bothered me for a few years now (read, many years, “sigh”) so I thought I’d commit this time to developing rock solid shoulder stability with the BU Press. You press a kettlebell upside down, that is, holding onto the handle with the bells base pointing up. Check out the video below.
  4. Single arm kettlebell row. An old classic but one I’ve skimped on, so why not.
  5. The 40 day program suggests the Ab Wheel. I have had a fear of god type regard towards this one for years after hurting my back doing it poorly, yeeeaaaars ago. Much learned I have since then! Let’s give it a go…

Now, the program does call for a reasonably set out plan, but here’s the thing. There’s always a thing and here’s my thing.

Life is varied game of ups and downs, high energy days and conversely low, low energy days. Days packed full with personal training and looking after my wonderful 8 year old. Living in Australia and running this program in the later stages of summer in an outdoor setting presents a new additional element to the game… lots of heat, humidity, rain and storms. Not excuses, just stuff that happens. With this in mind, I took an auto-regulated structure to my daily efforts.

I did commit to the 10 reps daily made up of any combination I felt appropriate to me. 2×5, 3×3, 5/3/2, 2/3/5, just a set of 10, 10 x1.  I let the day direct me. I let the weights just drift up. Being a kettlebell kind of guy I did commit to using the same weight per exercise per session. No mixing it up. Just getting sh$t done.

Below are the videos from sessions around number 18 and 19. In a later post I will clearly layout the progression of my 40 Day Program.

Single Leg Deadlift

Double Kettlebell Front Squat

Kettlebell Row

Bottom Up Press

Ab Wheel 

Stay tuned for further updates.

Peace and strength my friends.


Strong is the new Happy

For those of us who exercise, workout or train, it would be general consensus that we do so for a reason.

Now, I’m not going to get into details or semantics about working out and training in this post (there is a difference you know!) but, we exercisers all do what we do with a general end goal in mind. Oh, and if you don’t have a goal, you really should set one or more to keep you moving steadily onwards and upwards.

However, only recently was it pointed out to me by the business guru genius, happy-grumpy Paddi Lund, that what most people actually want is ‘happiness’!

Think about that… Simple, hey?

One end goal masked behind a facade of, ‘I want to lose weight’, ‘I want to get faster’, ‘I want to get stronger’, and oh so many other common goals is to feel satisfied and happy with the successful outcome of our efforts. These goals are of course intended to meet some kind of intrinsic need and want. Getting these results will, by our own assumption and or assertion, make us happy, happier or on a path to happiness.

Is you is, or is you ain’t very happy?

Goal setting is clearly about setting a clear and realistic path from A to B. Assuming you know where A is, planning the route to B is relatively simple. Coaches can help sweep up the path of debris to help you get there of course… hint hint.

But, what if you plan from B to A?  Now you have to know what B is, where it is and then you can see a bit more clearly how you may arrive at it. This is realistic goal setting at its simplest but often overlooked.

So many people want to get to somewhere not knowing if it is ‘their’ point B or in fact someone else’s point B, an expected point B or just something plucked out of Men’s Pumpin’ Weekly!

What I would like to suggest and play with in goal setting, planning and first of all, ‘understanding’, is this.

WHY? Then WHY, then WHY again. Yep, 3 whys!

Let’s keep this simple – You want to lose weight, why?

Perhaps to fit into clothes you used to wear, to look better at the beach or look better naked! Don’t laugh at that last one, i’m pretty sure most people who want to lose weight would agree with that last point.

So again, Why?

“Hmmm, I want to look better at the beach to feel more confident with myself.”

And once more, why?

“_________.” What do think the answer could be? Might it be that feeling more confident would help you feel more at ease, less stressed, more able to enjoy yourself without hiding flabby bits under layers of clothes, happier with yourself, happy in general.

A bit like the six degrees of separation, consider this the ‘3 Whys to happiness’. It wont take us there in an instant, but it might help identify what the key intrinsic motivating factors are to achieving the end goal, the ultimate goal, one goal.

These 3 whys could actually be drawn out into more, especially if the answer is based on someone else’s desires!

Clearly the next step to getting onto the happy train is working backwards through those discoveries. As with any objective, being strategic and specific will make life easier. You have to measure what it is you want to change and go about changing those numbers and understanding how that happens. In this case, to lose body fat it should be widely excepted and understood at this point that we must get more metabolic through the use of planned resistance training. We have to adjust our diet and look at our value systems attached to the foods that may be sabotaging our efforts. We should be aware of our downfalls and potential downfalls via stress and have a set plan for how to deal with them rather than resorting to do what we have always done.

First and foremost when making a plan to get to point B that we understand and accept is that we are actually ready to make the changes we’ve identified. It’s all great and dandy to have a plan, to understand where we are and where we want to go, the steps to get there, what we’re measuring, BUT, you have to want to change.

There are tons of books and resources online for goal setting and understanding how to plan. I just wanted to raise an issue I come up against frequently when questioning goals. START WITH WHY has lots of details on this kind of stuff.

Regarding making changes to diet or lifestyle, I like to focus on making ONE change at a time and a tangible change, mastering it and owning it before moving onto the next. Rather than focusing on not doing something to elicit the change, focus on the positive side of the change.

Rather than saying, “I’m going to be less lazy this week”, say, “I’m going to go for a walk in the morning”.

Instead of saying, “I’m not having any carbs today”, have a go at, “I’m going to save my carbs today until after I train”.

Regardless of what methods you adapt to help make change, try any, experiment with the sensible ones, just do something. To achieve the results what will make us feel happier we have to change, be STRONG with your decisions and commit.

Be STRONG in the Kitchen

Be STRONG in the gym

Be STRONG in your head

Over and out,




Fat Loss Truths

Diet and exercise is commonly espoused as the go to method of losing body fat rather than just one over the other.

The claims that exercise is all you need to help control, prevent and lose body fat is a modern age fitness industry fallacy…. Sorry folks, but exercise alone will not lose fat very effectively!

The energy deficit from exercise is rather insignificant compared to a ham and cheese sandwich!

Two slices of bread alone are worth roughly 150 calories or 15 minutes running  or 20 minutes weightlifting or 45 minutes of walking.  That’s a lot of activity for just two slices of bread!

Why exercise at all then you may wonder, if it yields such little return?

EPOC for a start and no, that’s not a new wonder drug. Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) is an increased uptake of oxygen after exercise to help recovery, energy substrate replenishment, hormone rebalancing and generally a return to a normal resting state. This process of recovery uses more fat lipids in the presence of the increased oxygen uptake.

Depending on the exercise type and specifically the level of exertion, the affects of the excess oxygen uptake varies considerably. Low levels of exercise such as steady state (easily sustainable) exercise requires the least amount of recovery despite its hourly ‘burn’ of around 200 calories. At the opposite end of the exertion spectrum, the HIIT (high intensity interval training) and exertive resistance training requires the greatest amount of post exercise oxygen consumption despite using an average of 450 calories over an hour although this kind of training session normally lasts 20-30minutes in reality.

Many studies have demonstrated that HIIT type training does increase the metabolic rate to varying degrees post exercise compared to steady state exercise but overall, the HIIT training comes out on top.

The exception to the rule in regards to low levels exercise and successful fat loss is seen in those individuals who are able to commit to longer training sessions, sessions lasting in the region of 90-120 mins a few times a week! How many of us actually have the time for that however? The downside to this is a general lack of functional, practical strength training… do you actually want to be weak and skinny or leaner and stronger?

If you answered yes to the first question, please do not bother to ask to train with me.

Getting back to the matter of significant fat loss, food and what food we are eating is the largest influencing factor. If you didn’t know that then please excuse me for calling you an idiot!

People sit too much, fail to move as much, stay up too late, depend on emotion kicks and energy kicks and just plain eat way too much… We know that of course, if we are to be totally honest with ourselves.

Most of us know we should consume a balanced diet of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. The ratio of each does get hazy and confusing especially in light of all the media attention ‘extreme’ diet fads receive.

Essentially, the key to healthy eating for normal living and  weight control requires us to consume natural foods with as little human meddling as possible; that is to say, with as little added chemicals, hormones or factory processes.

We should fill our daily diet with meats, vegetables and a few naturally occurring carbohydrates.

These do not include bread, pasta, biscuits, cakes and such… you know that of course, don’t you?

Carbohydrates are not the enemy but we should realise that carbs are just fuels. Sitting around on our backsides doesn’t elicit much of a calorie demand and does not justify the consumption of carbs more than 50 grams a day to be honest. Exercise activities burn fuel and require fuel for recovery so we therefore need carbs post exercise.

Look for your carb intake from this list:

  • Whole vegetables
  • Whole fruits
  • Legumes and beans (non GM)
  • Nuts and seeds (non GM)

A professional dietician can suggest all of this in a nice little package of detailed meal plans, but it really isn’t hard.

Eat veg, eat meat and fuel sensibly.

Control your portions, and on that note, here are the two best, most effective and sustainable exercises for fat control.

Yeah, I know, I’m taking the micky in the video, but in reality, ‘pushing away the plate’ when you know you are not hungry any more and ‘closing the dam fridge door’ are two sure ways to control what goes into your mouth.

Stay healthy, keep sensible, always be a student.