New Spinning Feature: Choosing your footwear


Anyway, I need to mention that I am not anti-cardio because there are trainers who have a dogmatic anti-cardio stance and state that it creates oxidative stress, leads to ageing, even fat-gain!!!  Check out this article

Now don’t get me wrong, I am almost a Poliquin worshipper and this is a great research-based article.  However, bodytypes play a big part and yes for certain people these points ring true.  Truth is, I have seen people who have done nothing all their lives but cardio and endurance training and they look fantastic for thier age.

So I have started this feature on spinnning as its popularity continues to grow and so it should.  Even the big musclemen are getting involved.  What better way is there to do cardio?

So will start by giving my take on what footwear to use.  Obviously you have your supa-dupa cycling shoes which are very specialist, can be awkward and bloody expensive but probably a good investment.  Here’s a rundown on cycling shoes by a ‘pro’

Most of us however want something a little more conventional and that is fine as all spin bikes have clips on the pedals.  However, the trainers that most of you will have picked up from Niketown or Sports direct probably aren’t the best choice for spin.  In cycling you want to maximise the use of the ball of your foot so like with the spin shoes select a pair of trainers with a pointy toe.  This is what I went for

Yes, I do have good taste 😉 A pointy toe allows one to concentrate the force in the forefoot area.  The second thing I looked for was a thin sole; I felt that a thick sole from regular sneakers just doesn’t give me that feeling of contact with the pedals.  There is also the theory that a thick sole allows energy to get lost and dissipated which may lead to early fatigue (it’s just a theory).

Finally I looked for something light and these are superlight and light means breathable feet.  However, light means flimsy and this is where a debate arises.  I actually prefer flimsy so that my toes can still curl up.  Cycling shoes are rigid on the premise that this will give better support to the foot.  I had a little debate on this issue with my colleague Tom Joka and felt funny about trying to go toe-to-toe against someone with a phD, who recently cycled from Poland to London!!  Still, I teach 5 classes a week and with an intense collection of sprints and climbs I believe that if my feet are kept too rigid for so long and so often my lower legs will not like it and could result in calf strains or ankle sprains (again my opinion).  I have the tightest calfs in the world yet no problems thus far, touch wood, and I always go for flimsy and floppy.  In any case, it is hard to find light and rigid unless it is a proper cycling shoe.

Best thing though, I can wear these trainers casually too so there’s a lighter gym bag, hooray.

Look out for more posts about spinning but if you haven’t already, join the spin revolution.


Read my next post ‘Choosing the wrong footwear in spinning’ where I explain how choosing the pumas was totally the wrong choice.  Rigid footwear is what we want not flimsy.


Dean Johnson Personal Trainer from UKFitnessPlus

My Photo

A great post by my friend Dean Johnson regarding the nigh-on useless nature of treadmill addiction.  Your body can only change by making adaptations and adaptations are only made to new stimuli.  Hence the need to vary the training in order to avoid diminishing returns from your workout.  Enjoy the post and follow my buddy on Twitter


Why RUNNING truly does ‘suck’ & your SECRET to your Fitness Success?

As a Personal Trainer and Health Coach, I am usually in the gym every day. The one thing I constantly see is men and women running on the treadmills, aka the ‘Hamster Wheel’ and if they’re not running their lives away on that, then they’re on cross trainers or steppers. Those of you who work out in a commercial gym or train in one on a regular basis will know exactly what I’m talking about; we all see it, day in day out.
Now, I’m not suggesting this is a bad thing but as any one actually stopped and asked them the question “Why are you running?” Strange isn’t it??  Should we however, ask the question and the answer came back as “I’m warming up” or “I’m to trying to improve my 5k run” or simply “I just enjoy running” then on some level I can in some way understand their reasons. Although, if they were to reply “I want to lose weight around my stomach” or “I want to lose a few pounds” then running is something you really DO NOT want to do and it’s the last thing you want to do PERIOD!!!
Most people are aware of the difference between a Sprinter and a Marathon runner. Sprinters have a lean ‘toned’ muscular frame and their type of training involves short, sharp high intense bursts of exercise; whereas the majority of Marathon runners have a generally skinny-fat physique and completely avoid weights or any type of strength training and stick to low intensity for longer durations.

Experienced gym users know this yet, still run on the treadmill for endless amounts of time and continue doing so, in hope they will lose fat or ‘drop weight’ thus becoming a lean mean machine or fitness model.
The reality is that running for endless amounts of time will NOT make you ‘lose weight’ or ‘tone’ or ‘trim’ the body. In fact, surprisingly enough people who run or do steady state cardio for long periods of time can actually end up putting on weight, (‘Yes, that’s right’) you will put on weight and I do tell my clients; you need to activate the body in order for it to change, when you run on the treadmill you are sleeping! How can you expect your body to change when you don’t wake it up or activate it? In order for the body to change you need to ‘fire it up’. Now here is the scientific explanation behind it:
If you do steady state cardio for a long duration (15-30minutes) your body releases a hormone known as Cortisol. Cortisol is the stress hormone and activates the ‘fight or flight’ responses within our bodies; during long periods of exercise it uses glucose as a fuel to force the breakdown of our muscle tissue, therefore we can actually lose any muscle which we have. If you suffer from stress on a regular basis and are a regular gym user your body could be in a catabolic state which means a slow metabolic rate and an increase in appetitie. By being in this state of mind your bodies burn less calories, therefore we are wanting more and more food, especially those CARBS, therefore this will lead to even higher stress levels. If all this is going on, the effects of natural hormone production are not able to function properly and this will lead to increased fat, particularly around the stomach area.
Both Men and Women need to do some sort of strength training, whether this is general weight training, Kettlebells or even bodyweight exercises. It should be the main source of your training, not cardio. Strength training does raise your Cortisol levels, however whilst doing so it also raises your Testosterone (hormone responsible for building muscle/burning fat) which counteract the buildup of Cortisol (Remember what I said about activating the bodyJ). The end result is Protein synthesis, increased metabolism and eventually lean muscle gain; with a substantial nutritional support.
Okay, so you have probably heard it all by now I’m sure, all the types of interval training you can do, planks rather than sit ups, squats rather than the leg press machine. I’m here to introduce to you all a new type training known as ‘Cardio Conditioning’. This type of training specifically works on boosting metabolism and releasing your lipolytic hormones (a hormone which helps remove fat).  See below for a sample workout:
Deadlift: 8-10 Repetitions ___kg Ice Skaters: 30 seconds Plank: 30 seconds Sprint: 10 seconds
Repeat x 3
KB Swing: 30 seconds 12kg or 16kg Step Ups: 30 seconds Standing Dumbell Rows: 10R ___kg Leg Changes: 10 seconds
Repeat x 3
Shoulder Press: 10R ___kg Explosive Box Jumps: 10R Sliding Knee Rises: 20 seconds Tuck Jumps: 5R
Repeat x 3
The reason why this type of training works so effectively is simply because it works your entire body, and holds the same benefits you receive from normal Strength Training and Metabolic Resistance Training.  The rest periods are kept to a minimum of 30 seconds and a maximum of 45 seconds and all exercises are executed with high bursts of short, sharp periods. This type of training can be practiced just 3 times a week for no longer than 45 minutes and the remarkable thing about this type of training is after you stop exercising your body can keep burning calories up to 72hours, depending how hard you pushed yourself. This workout is NOT for the weak; if you are serious about losing fat this is the workout for you!

And let me now add the link to his first You Tube video, also demonstrating a typical workout that is more conducive to enhancing fitness, strengthening and toning
Keep up the good work Deano!

New Supplements Feature: Red Pill or Blue Pill?

Starting what I think is an important feature.  With a Holland and Barret store on every high street and new products appearing on our screens all the time I aim to collect information from people, forums and oher sources to give you a clearer idea on what you should be taking so that you don’t spend hours online deliberating on what to buy before you purchase the whole flamin lot (or nothing at all).

I am relying primarily on my own findings from things I am taking or have taken in the past.  If you follow my twitter you will see that I am currently testing a form of creatine called Krealkalyn from Shear Fitness.  This is buffered creatine so it is already at a desired pH for it to act fast and there is no loading phase.  Hence, it can work out cheaper than creatine.  More info in this article:
So read up on this and if you’re in the UK let me know if you wish to purchase this product.  My intial feelings are that my performance is definitely enhanced by its use but need more time to see if it is helping me look more defined or bulked up.  Of course, I need to give my two-pence on taking creatine because there is so much conflicting information out there.

In addition look out for my post on the golden rules to observe when taking supps (yes there is an abbreviation).

In the mean time choose your products carefully and give me a shout if you are currently in a predicament about what to take.

The Myth of quick-fix transformations

Bit of a contradiction in that this is a two-month photo comparison for one of my clients.  Truth is, he started with me in January and took some time before really seeing the aesthetic benefits of his training.  We see bilboards and other  adverts talking about this 60-day body transformation and my belief is that this is all a load of nonsense.  When we search for aesthetic benefits to our training we look at celebrities and athletes, people who are naturally beautiful and fit who back it up with hard-work.  Please tell me one person with an amazing body or an amazing level fitness who hasn’t been training for years.  That is what it takes peeps. years yes years.

Of course, those who have been training since a young age and have the good genetics, they can get back into training and see quick results.  These people hold a position on the opposite side of the spectrum.  They can see results in weeks, yes weeks.

Luckily, people are now realising this and don’t get fooled by such ads because they know all about photoshop, instagram and bullshit advertising.  I just want it to be known that ‘get results fast’ will not be a motto of mine.  As part of CST I will try and uphhold more profound mantras like, longevity, ageless mobility and pain-free health with the promise that aesthetics will come as a bonus.  I will not make people dependent on a personal trainer but keep my position as someone standing in the backgorund, monitoring your progress, keeping you interested through using varied methods of training.

I have been working in this one gym for over a year now and have seen three types of people.

1. The usual amazing looking regulars who keep coming to do the same old boring thing in fear of losing what they have.  The only progress they monitor is, if anything, how much they are lifitng.  There is no variety in what they do and any improvements in strength are likely to be just neuromuscular which is great if you are entering a powerlifitng competition.

2. Those that come for a few weeks then stop.  Probably because they don’t see results.  Then they see their bank balance and realise that they are still paying for their gym membership so quickly pick up their gym kit.

3.  They keep coming and try to do the same as the first group but get nowhere, absolutely fuckin nowhere.  They can’t accept that they don’t have the right genetics so need to train more intelligently.  Worse still they just lift heavier and heavier each time but still look no better.

So for group 1 keep at it but don’t spend so long training.  You have good genes, so shorten your sessions and go out and enjoy yourselves.  However, as you get older you must think of an alternative way to train.

For the other two groups, read my motivations tips and start monitoring your progress and when you don’t see changes get a professional opinion.  Maybe find a way to train which isn’t so boring.  Join a Crossfit box or something.

Above all you need to make fitness for life.  That could mean being a gym-rat but for me a holistic approach to fitness is better.  In our CST training programme we have a tri-ring approach to fitness explained in the following page

Hence, there is always something to do.  There is a way of working-in as well as working-out.  This way we can take a break from weights now and then and work on our mobility.  We can switch to circuit work or even adopting a sport or other outdoor pursuit, maybe even just walk the dog.

Raheem Sterling: Superstar

Had a great day today as I was sat with my sports massage friend from ERGOBLISS to watch our beloved Liverpool at the ARC.  We witnessed a potential new star being born in 17-year old Raheem Sterling making his first start against the best team in the country in Manchester City.

Such talent, speed, skill and above all confidence we have someone to get really excited about.  Even Carlos Tevez insisted on swapping shirts with him at the end.  A great example of a young determined individual ready to seize his opportunity when he played against Hearts in midweek.

But my one worry and this is why I am writing about him in my fitness blog.  We have seen a lot of youngsters coming through and failing to deliver.  I do not think this is just a coincidence.  I really believe there is something fundamentally flawed with conventional Strength and Conditioning methods in this country.  We look at Theo Walcott, Micah Richards and the injury-ridden Jack Wilshere.  Traditional S and C revolves around typical Arnie exercises like the fuckin bench press.  How is the bench press functional to football?????!!!!!!!  Explosive press-ups maybe as explosive strength may allow one to palm people away.  Squats also will just limit moblity around the hip complex.  Therefore, pistols will build leg strength and preserve the mobility a footballer needs to exercise speed and acceleration.

What I’m saying may sound controversial and one may think I have no authority to speak in such a manner but I love my football club and I don’t want the career of this starlet to be ruined like that of others.  Any football fan knows what I’m talking about with respect to Walcott and Richards.  The fact is sports science teaching in universities is flawed and too institutionlised and this will become more and more exposed over the next few years as complimentary and traditional approaches to fitness become more popular.

Advanced Bodyweight Circuit

Continuing with the bodyweight feature, I decided to make the most of the London sunshine (yes London) and my newly waxed chest by performing a bodyweight workout for the more advanced.  Workouts like this kind of prove a few things:

  • There is never any excuse not to train.  Even you bodybuilding freaks can build serious muscle and insane core strength with these exercises.
  • There is a bodyweight workout for everyone.  If you look at the basic workout performed by my client in the following Youtube video there really is no limit.  Even on a really basic level you have things like the flowfit and intuflow which form some of the core drills in Circular Strength Training.
  • Those of you into your yoga the half-crow exercise is the marker for you to see if your strength has been compensated by excessive yoga practice.  At some stage the strength developed through yoga needs to be taken to the next level and this is a really good exercise to help you with that.

So here are the four exercises

  1. 1.       One legged squat

Just stand on one-leg and squat as low as you can.  Use a tree-stump or pole for support if you’re not there yet

  1. 2.       Half Crow

Assume the down-dog position then take one knee to the corresponding elbow.  Keep the elbow tight then go into a quasi-handstand

  1. 3.       Rocking eagle

Starting in a forearm balance position go straight into a headstand.  Come out of it into the forearm balance and repeat.  Admittedly I cheated a bit by not coming out of the headstand properly but I was under pressure to do one take.

  1. 4.       One-handed push-up

Get on one hand and push up, simple.  Nick Tuminello gives a great tutorial on this.

So excuse the poor quality and enjoy the video

Top 5 Home-Workout Systems: #1 Bodyweight

I have previously mentioned how while the desire to keep fit has increased people have fallen out of love with gyms.  This is mainly because of the whole issue of binding contracts.  As a personal trainer in such a gym I kind of know how you feel.  You arrive at the door enquiring about membership, ‘Just tell me the friggin price!’.  If Mama Maria can have a menu up outside their cafe why can’t you just put up a price-list!  It is partly down to people’s lack of motivation to continue attending the gym.  I’ve said this before, those that are ever-present are the ones that got their results (mainly because of their good genetics) then they were scared to lose their results so they kept coming.

Another good way around this is to train at home.  Now let me be honest, this is very hard and requires a tremendous amount of discipline but it is important to know what you can use to train at home.  You open an Argos catalogue and you will be inundated with home exercise equipment and end up thinking that you need all of this.  Worse still, the person demonstrating the Ab-toner, chest-expander or wibbly-wobbly board will have an immaculate figure or physique.  So it is important you know which bit of kit is actually going to benefit you.  Hence, I will go into pieces of equipment that are available out there which I believe you can really get a good workout from.

And the number one bit of kit is nothing but yourself.  I wrote about the merits of bodyweight-training in an earlier post and got over 1200 views! So this seems to be a popular topic.

The hot girl up there is Zuzanna and she has a lot of bodyweight workouts on You Tube under the name  She also has a lot of other material online which is rather pleasant to watch 😉

Bodyweight training has no limits and works for every level.  If you’re looking for a really basic workout then go to this post and the corresponding video

Mo Farah Versus Usain Bolt. Who wins in your eyes?

Usain Bolt became the first man to defend an Olympic 100m and 200m sprint double.  With legendary status already seemingly secured as well as global staredom, Bolt overcame the pressure and delivered despite his setback last year in Daegu.

Meanwhile, Mo Farah had been trying for years to reach the world class standard in distance running, constantly falling short and unable to challenge the established Africans.  Finally he broke through in 2011 becoming a world champion, so the pressure was on in London 2012.  Like a true star he delivered and tonight became only the seventh man to execute such a superhuman double.  The stadium erupted as well as the nation following this great achievement.

Whose acheivement tops your list?

Train for a reason, Train with reason

My good friend John Bass from Bass Planet TV produced a lovely little video for me so thought I’d post a link to it in my blog.

Also feel the need to explain the reason behind preparing such a video without it looking like I’m showing off 😉

For a start we have the one-handed push-up.  Here’s a great tutorial by Nick Tumminello, one of my favourite coaches, on this exercise

Now, on my video you’ll see me struggling a lot more on my left.  This is partly becuase of me being right-handed but that is not the full story.  My shoulder stability is a lot weaker on my left.  I find it harder to squeeze that shoulder down and create a firm and stable foundation.  Hence, the one-handed push-up is about combining strength and mobility which is why I call this training with reason.  Now I can wait until I get an injury and pay a fortune on physio or I can address this now which is why I perform those shoulder mobility exercises at the beginning of the video.  I can even find an exercise that will help improve my shoulder stability and work my core at the same time.  Enter the hammer swing as pictured below

This basically involves swinging the club in a clockwork motion round and round.  An amazing core exercise that tests your cardio and trains you to maintain the connection between your shoulders and torso.

I also demonstrate a pistol or one-legged squat; the photo shows how my thigh is touching my chest in the bottom position

Again a good balance of strength and mobility is required.  If my lower lats, or more specifically, my thoracolumbar fascia, are holding on to my pelvis too tight this position would be more diffcult.  Likwise if my glutes  and IT band were tight or I had a lot of capsular tightness in the acetablum where the thigh meets the pelvis.  Getting very technical now but in a nutshell, a one-legged squat isn’t all about mere leg strength.

Even the muscle-up combines strength with mobility as I have to go through quick, smooth transitions from pulling-up to pushing off.  If I were obsessed with weights and tightened up all the muscles and tendons (rotator cuffs) crossing the shoulder joint the muscle-up would become about brute strength which is not what you want for long-term health.

I hope readers can appreciate the value of this vision on fitness afterwhich I can only attribute it to one man in Scott Sonnon and his great team of coaches at RMAX international.

So here’s the video and I hope a more dignified reason has emerged for putting it up.

Jessica Ennis Workout, 2

So my bessy mate from MWM was good enough to perform what I dubbed the Jessica Ennis Workout.  Of course, Jessy would never do this workout but all the exercises in this little circuit will contribute towards acquiring a similar figure.  In addition, a lot of the exercises that form her workout schedule would be far too advanced for us mortals.  Honestly, some people need to read the descriptions more.

Anyway, ramble over, here is the advanced version

Exercise 1, Plyometric step-up

So this is also a step-up but with a little hop and leg-drive which just allows for a bit more glute-activation.  That drive off the front foot is key.

Exercise 2, staggered-position push-up

Adopting the staggered position and using the stepper is a great way of enabling girls to perform their push-ups.  The staggered position just allows for more stability around the shoulder girdle so that pressing becomes a little easier.

Exercise 3, Squat -and-press

Athletes like Ennis tend to perform clean-and-press. An example of an advanced exercise for which we find an easier alternative.  Hence we have the squat-and-press.  Something anyone can perform pretty much.

Exercise 4, Weighted crunch

So now we add weight to the crunch to make it harder in order to get those ripped abs like Jessica.  We’re also partially observing something called the ‘power chamber’ which is now becoming central to the way we at Circular Strength Training work our abdominals whereby we make subtle internal changes to develop immense core strength.  Follow this link to learn more

So there you have it.  Now you can view the whole video and check the relevant post to see how you can perform this workout in different ways.