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Well what would I do when I am already exercising and everyone around you has committed to get fit? Try and step it up a little and take myself out of my comfort zone.

After seeing everyone else involved on the commit to get fit month it is only fair that as an instructor I put myself through a little torture and discomfort. I started May through trying my metabolic classes before I unleashed them on the unexpected members. Needless to say I came out of my lunch breaks looking rather red faced and my colleagues stated they had not seen me that way since I tried a gym challenge a while ago and struggled with the good old burpee.

I have since started what is known as German Volume Training to take me out of my comfort zone. I have to admit that having a plan to follow and a specific goal before each session keeps me focused and stops my chit chat with fellow colleagues. The fact a fellow colleague is also following this plan keeps me focused and competitive.

I have switched from buying flapjacks at the shop and made a homemade batch to create a little bit of healthy devilish goodness for myself. I have also stayed away from the chocolate sweets in the vending machine and gone for another piece of fruit in my lunch box.

In my previous blog I mentioned training SMART not stupid. What is meant by this? We use it as an acronym:

Specific - what are you training for? Health benefits or fitness benefits? Clearly define the reason. Set a distance to run, cycle, swim or lift a weight for a certain number of repetitions.

Measurable - are you able to monitor your progress and see the benefits. Looking good and running faster are not measurable, they are subjective. Test yourself to prove it. Time, weight, and distance are all measurable.

Achievable - take into account your previous training history, the type of person you are, time commitments etc. Setting a target of going to the gym 5 times a week may be unrealistic for you, set a target of 2 times a week which due to time constraints is more achievable. It is far better to set a goal which is achievable yet challenging as opposed to wasting time trying to attain a unachievable goal.

Realistic - Now that you have set yourself an achievable goal make sure it is realistic. For example losing half a stone in two weeks it is not realistic (and unhealthy). It is recommended and far more healthier to look to lose 1 lb a week, meaning 6 weeks being realistic to lose half a stone.

Timed - set yourself a time period and evaluate your progress. This then allows you to plan for the next period. You could have a long term goal of running a marathon. Break this down and look at the steps to get you to this stage. A realistic time scale keeps you focused on your goal and allows you to gradually improve.

Until next Time 'Train smart, not stupid'

Fitness Plans and Monitoring



Committing to get fit has continued to take me out of my comfort zone this week. Thank you German Volume Training. On several of the workouts this week I have missed the target repetition range, which means I have to keep the same weight for next week and get a few more repetitions out.  

Which brings me onto recording your gym sessions, whether you use the old fashioned notebook and pen or for the more advanced wizards of you your phone. Recording your sessions has so many benefits. I have trained off and on for many years sometimes writing a programme to follow and recording each session, some times just hitting the gym and picking up a weight and seeing what happens. Well I can honestly say writing and recording each session is when I have got the best improvements. It allows you to see the little improvements each week. For example on my German Volume Training, I have recorded the weight and number of repetitions. This means I now know what I have to reach next time. This also shows my progression. You may not think it but if you see……

Week One -       40 x 10             40 x 10       40 x 8

Week Two -       40 x 10             40 x 10        40 x 9

….you have progressed. In week two you have done more work than week one. Writing down the weights also makes you that little bit more competitive with yourself. Remember in fitness you are only really competing with yourself and how far you can push your own body. Seeing that you got 8 reps out the week before makes your determined not to take it easy this week and stop at 7, you know you have to get to 8 or at least 9 repetitions out.

I will now return to the SMART principles of last week, specifically looking at Measurable. Hopefully you have set your Specific goal, but how do you know you are progressing towards this Specific goal / target?

Measurable should look at finding where you are currently, what level are you currently at? This means performing some sort of assessment, ok…test. There are no pass or fails with these tests, simply a score that you look to improve on the next time you assess (test) yourself. Each test is likely to have a recommended score. There are many different tests which you can perform, the one(s) you select will be dependent on your Specific goal / target. For example, it is pointless to perform a cardiovascular (aerobic) test if your goal is to increase your strength .

Body Composition

Weighing scales – make sure you only weigh yourself at the same time every week. Remember our body weight will fluctuate day to day due to food intake (you will weigh more directly after eating), fluid loss and our bowel movements. Weighing yourself at the same time of day, on the same surface each week will make results more comparable. 

Body Stat Percentage – this uses a bioelectrical impedance machine to send a current around your body to measure your body fat percentage and hydration levels. These machines work as fat free mass contains more water than fat. Meaning fat-free mass has less resistance to the current.

Hydrostatic Weighing – your weight is first measured, then in minimal clothing you sit on a specialised seat overhanging a water tank. You then expire the air in your lungs and are lowered into the tank until you are fully submersed. You then remain motionless underwater while your underwater weight is recorded.

Caliper Testing – This is more invasive than the body stat percentage using a bioelectrical impedance machine. Measurements are taken between 3-9 sites, usually down the right side of the body. The tester pinches the skin at a designated site and callipers are applied. After 2 seconds a reading is taken. All the scores are put together and your body fat percentage is determined. 


VO2max – to monitor and record the aerobic endurance. The test requires you to run on a treadmill, with the speed increasing every minute until the subject cannot run anymore. During the test you breathe into a specific mouthpiece and are not able to use your nose. Expired air is collected and  analysed using a gas analyser to work out your VO2max.

Bleep Test – continuous running between 2 cones 20m apart in time to the beeps. As the test progresses the speed increases. If you arrive at the line before the beep you must wait for the beep to catch you up. If you do not make the line you receive a warning, 2 warnings and you are out.

Cooper Test – usually performed on a running track. You have 12 minutes to run as far as possible. At the end of the 12 minutes your total distance is recorded. Various equations can be performed to work out your VO2max score.

Yo-yo intermittent – this test comes in two either the Intermittent Recovery or Intermittent Endurance. This is similar to the Bleep test, you run between two cones 20m apart, keeping up with the beeps. Upon completing two lengths (40m) you rest for 10s before repeating. Again as the test goes on the speed increases for which you have to cover the 20m distance. The Intermittent Endurance test is exactly the same apart from you get 5 seconds recovery between each 40m run.

2000m Rower – simply row 2000m as fast as you can.


20m Sprints – measures your acceleration, max speed and speed endurance. If you can get hold of timing gates this will make your timing more accurate. Simply time how long it takes you to run 20m (or a set distance).

Agility –  these tests look at your ability to move quickly and change direction.  The agility test you perform will depend on the sport you play. You can make your own agility test up. With any test you have to make sure it is repeatable, valid and reliable. This means in can be replicated. Take measurements of distance between cones, angles between cones and the same surface.


Endurance – perform as many repetitions as you can on a selected weight.

1 Repetition Maximum – perform this test sub maximally. Perform several warm up sets, using a lighter weight that your test weight and perform 5 reps on a weight you could do 20 repetitions on, 5 reps on a weight you could do 16 repetitions on, 3 reps on a weight you could do 12 repetitions on,  3 reps on a weight you can do 10 repetitions on. Then test. Select a weight you can only do 2 – 10 repetitions with. Perform as may repetitions as possible with this weight (hopefully below 10) and work out your 1 repetition maximum. As I am having problems attaching the 1RM table drop me an e-mail and I will forward it to you. (

So if you are going to test yourself find a partner or group of friends and assist each other in recording your results. You are always that little bit more motivated when there is a group of you. Hire a sports hall, astro pitch, get into the gym and measure where you currently are. Then re-test in 4 – 8 weeks and you will then see how well you are progressing towards your specific goal.   


Post Exercise Recovery - Nutrition



This weeks training has continued to progress in the right direction with a few questions being raised within the Sussexsport team regarding the structure of the German Volume Plan. I only completed half of my lifts in my additonal session yesterday, not being hydrated, slight over training and the heat meant that I cut it short and went little jog. This afternoon I hope to be back on track with the GVT and looking to have a de-load week soon to allow the body to recover.


Post Exercise Recovery

When we are at rest, we are reported to be in a respiratory exchange ratio of 0.75 indicating fat as the predominant energy source (Bourgouts and Keizer, 1999). When we start to exercise and increase our speed from walk to run, fuels which provide the body with energy change from fatty acids to mainly glycogen (van Loon et al. 2001). Upon completion of exercise rehydration and re-synthesis of carbohydrates stores (which rebuild the glycogen stores) are the key component of recovery (Williams, 2004). The fast re-synthesis of glycogen stores is important for not only athletes who perform repeated bouts of training the same day or consecutive dates (Parkin et al. 1997) but for people performing everyday tasks, cycling to and from work, playing in the park with your family, walking up the steep hill on your way home. Replenishing these stores is important as they supply us with the energy to perform these tasks.

Various studies have looked at various mixes of two main nutrients , carbohydrates and protein to aid glycogen re-synthesis. Studies have looked at consuming carbohydrates on their own, protein on their own and carbohydrates-protein combinations.

Various replenishment rates and quantities have been reported. Some research has supported carbohydrates alone as the best source to refuel glycogen stores whilst others have support a carbohydrate-protein combo. Protein alone has not scored that well. Having looked through and read various literature sources, it is reported that a ratio of 3g carbohydrates : 1g protein is the best mixture for  a recovery drink / meal. If we look at the studies in the table we see that the carbohydrate-protein mixtures that had a rough ratio of 3:1 (Ivy et al. 2002, Zawadzxi et al. 1992 and van Hall et al. 2000) reported the same glycogen replenishment as carbohydrate alone.

The other consideration before you think it does not matter whether you take carbohydrates alone or a mixture of carbohydrates-protein is that protein has many benefits to the body. Not only is protein essential to help repair our damaged muscles through exercises it is also important in our insulin response. Our insulin response is important in the second phase (post exercise 30-60min) when glycogen becomes insulin dependent. It has been reported by Zawadzki et al. (1992) and Jentjens and Jeukendrup (2003) that insulin keep glycogen transporters active for longer or activates more transporters to be released.

Now you know that you should be consuming 3g carbohydrates : 1g protein it is important that you get the timing right….this is as soon as you have finished exercising. The longer you delay it the less full your glycogen stores become…obvious yes…but the absorption rate slows down and the nutrients can be seen as surplus as opposed to if they are consumed straight after exercise, the nutrients are then utilised.


This is why breakfast is important. We have usually fasted for 12 hours (7-7),  10 hours (9-7) of if you are like me 9 hours (10-7) breakfast is vital. I like my car demonstrations. Imagine you fuel your car up with enough petrol or less petrol than you need to make it from home to work and back. Leave it on the drive for 12-10 hours would you be able to drive it to work the next day? Your body is the same, it needs food to fuel us. When we are at rest our resting metabolic rate will vary depending on your age, muscle mass, genetics, weather, healthy eating plan. Your resting metabolic rate tells us how many calories you need to just function, sitting still and breathing (imagine a hangover day!). Now add movement walking around work, up and down the stairs, standing up sitting down, moving the remote control and even exercising, we have added even more calories to meet our daily need (recommended 2000 calories for females and 2500 for males). Breakfast is the most important meal as it provides us with the fuel for the day ahead.

If you are after weight loss breakfast is still the most vital meal of the day. Studies have shown that healthy eaters who eat breakfast lose more weight and keep it off for longer.

Summarising post workout (sleep) look to consume a meal (meal replacement drink) that has a ratio of 3g carbohydrates : 1g protein immediately post exercise. This will increase your glycogen re-synthesis rate, allowing nutrients to be stored and used for their purpose. You will then have more energy to:

-       Run around in the park with your family

-       Cycle home

-       Walk up your hill home

-       Go for a walk with your partner (brownie points)


Remember ‘train smart, not stupid’

 Example foods:

-       Chocolate Milk Shake (yep you read that correct)

-       Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich (if looking to increase muscle mass)

-       Bowl of granola and low-fat milk

-       Bowl of whole grain cereal and low-fat milk

-       Medium banana and glass low-fat milk


Bourhouts, L. B. and Keizer, H. A. (1999). Exercise and Insulin Sensitivity: A review. International Journal of Sports Medicine. 20, 1-12.

Ivy, J. L., Goforth, H. W., Damon, B. M., McCauley, T. R., Parsons, E. C. and Price, T. B. (2002). Early post exercise muscle glycogen recovery is enhanced with a carbohydrate-protein supplement. Journal of Applied Physiology. 93, 1337-1344.

Jentjens, R. and Jeukendrup, A. E. (2003). Determinants of Post-Exercise Glycogen Synthesis During Short-Term Recovery. Sports Medicine. 33(2), 117-144.

Parkin, J. A. M., Carey,  M. F., Martin, I. K., Stojanovska, L. and Febbraio, M. A. (1997). Muscle glycogen storage following prolonged exercise: effect of timing of ingestion of high glycemic index food. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 29 (2), 220-224.

Van Hall, G., Shirreffs, S. M. and Calbert, J. A. L. (2000). Muscle glycogen resynthesis during recovery from cycle exercise: no effect of additional protein ingestion. Journal of Applied Physiology.88, 1631-1636.

van Loon, L. J. C., Greenhaff, P. L., Constantin-Teodosiu, D. C., Saris, W. H. M. and Wagenmakers, J. M. (2001). The effects of increasing exercise intensity on muscle fuel utilisation in humans. Journal of Physiology. 536 (1), 295-304.

Williams, C. (2004). Carbohydrate intake and recovery from exercise. Science and Sports. 19, 239-244.

Zawadzki, K. M., Yaspelkis III, B. B. and Ivy, J. L. (1992). Carbohydrate-protein complex increases the rate of muscle glycogen storage after exercise. Journal Applied Physiology. 72 (5), 1854-1859.

Tips - 100km Walk



So this week I have taken my GVT seriously, well, kept pushing myself towards the desired number of reps and sets. I have to admit however the cumulative fatigue of the intensity of training and adding some extra bits in when I should have not, has meant I have been a little fatigued this week and will be having a de-load week next week to recharge the batteries ready for a further 3-4 week stint of GVT before I look to try a new training method.

This week as part of the commit to get fit challenge I have met with James, who is taking part in a 100 km walk over the downs with a team of four, Lois who regularly attends circuits at lunchtimes and Jocelyn and her team for a spin session. In this blog I will look to take the question posed to me by James, at is was the first question, I will then answer (a blog will be posted in about a minutes time!) the question of exercises for the Bingo Wings and Muffin Tops.

So James, whilst walking the 100K challenge I would suggest

- Plenty of hydration and fluids, you want to have a mixture of water and sports drinks (carbohydrate based) to help keep energy levels up. Just a 2% decrease in hydration levels can affect our performance, look to consume 500ml of fluid an hour.

Sports drinks – Sports drinks are important to allow absorption of carbohydrates, electrolytes and sodium into the body. Helping supply energy and prevent energy levels dropping. Also look out for the different names:

Hypotonic – carbohydrate electrolyte concentration which is less than body fluids, rapidly absorbed. Best taken before exercise, no real energy boost. Homemade this would be 500ml orange juice, 500ml water, pinch of salt. Good for hydration before a race.

Isotonic – 6-8% carbohydrate electrolyte concentration which is similar to body fluids. Best used later in the recovery process or during exercise, i.e. Powerade and Lucozade drinks. Homemade this would be 750ml orange juice, 250ml water, pinch of salt.

Hypertonic – carbohydrate electrolyte concentration is more than our body fluids. This is best taken for a recovery post exercise. Homemade think of a litre of orange juice and a pinch of salt


 - Have a strategy in place. Walk for a period of time 40 – 60 minutes, take off your rucksack and stretch the calfs, quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes. Then reload, fuel and fluid. Put the bag back on and off you go again. Look to keep these periods short to stop the muscles seizures.


- Fuel. During the walk is not the time to try new foods as these could play havoc with your digestive system, try them on your practice walks. Look to consume:

Bananas, apples, nuts and raisins (get a mixture of protein and carbohydrates in),

Fig rolls (

Jaffa cakes (

Jelly beans, jelly babies,

Flap jack (homemade) (

Energy Gels ( ( I would go with the raspberry flavour or summer fruits)

Sandwiches – on wholemeal / whole grain bread look to use a filling such as jam or peanut butter and jam.


Have fun James. You should write a blog on your training and walks.

Bingo Wings and Muffin Tops



For those of you who do not have a clue what I am talking about, bingo wings are the back of the upper arm and muffin tops are the bits that sit above the side of our trousers on our side. I was going to post some pictures but I could not be cruel enough to copy and paste these from a well known search engine.

Anyhow there are many exercises which look to target the muscles of the back of the upper arm the tricep and side of the stomach, the oblique muscle. However before I continue it is almost impossible to particularly target certain areas of our body for fat loss. We all are made up of different genes (and all fit different genes! (a ha) some people will lose weight in the face first, legs or arms before losing fat on our stomachs.  For more on fat loss look at my previous blog

The following exercises will help you to target a specific muscle group


Bingo Wings

Assisted Dips (31s onwards)

Tricep Dips

Narrow Press Ups

Tricep Kick Backs

Tricep Pulldowns


Muffin Tops

Side Planks

Pallof Press


Dead Bug

Wood Chops


Enjoy your training

Summer Running



Firstly big congratulations to everyone who took part in the Commit to get fit May challenge. Remember it’s the taking part that counts, which is the nice thing with many of the activities put on by Sussexsport, although some do have an element of competing, most activities are about having fun and challenging yourself. Although the challenge has finished I am still available to help with any questions, fitness related, you may have, just send an e-mail to

So summer is fast approaching, meaning many of us will be dusting off our summer runners and hitting the pavements/seafront getting ourselves more active. What can we do to help ourselves make the most of our running and improve our times?

Hydration – not only whilst running but pre and post. OK so we may have had a run before heading to the BBQ, but hold off the alcohol for a drink or two. We want to replace the fluid we have lost, being dehydrated by 2% can lead to decrease in performance, we lose concentration and performing tasks become harder.  Hopefully summer nights will be warm, meaning when we are asleep we will lose fluid. Therefore it is important to replace this lost fluid when we wake up and start the day hydrating.

Running Shoes – make sure they are appropriate to your running style to help prevent injuries. When your foot hits the floor do you over-pronate or under-pronate   

Stretch – to help prevent injuries, aid recovery and maintain your range of movement (stride length, leg lift etc) stretching should be a stable part of any runners routine, whether you are a casual runner or a marathon runner. When stretching you may wish to foam roll prior to stretching that muscle group, these release the knot and allows for a better stretch. When stretching pay particular attention to the quadriceps, hip flexors, IT band, hamstrings and glutes

Strength – to get quicker, maintain running technique and avoid injuries we should look to strengthen the core, glutes and hamstrings. By strengthen I mean you should be looking to do 6-10 repetitions with your selected weight and that’s all you should be able to perform. You should not be holding a weight doing 20 repetitions and stopping even though you could do more. This is not challenging the muscles enough. The strength work should supplement the endurance work your muscles are getting whilst running, just performing endurance work is likely to lead to injuries and not aid performance.

Pace – you should look at several different pace runs. You should have a recovery run pace, this is slower than your race pace. You also have your race pace and another option is your interval pace, this pace is quicker than your race pace. When performing intervals your pace will be determined by the distance of your interval, your pace for 400m will be quicker than your pace for 800m.

Massage – OK we can all do with a massage every now and then and yep it can be expensive to continue to pay for these. So why not supplement your massages for a foam roller. This looks to get into the muscles and relieve the tension

Cross Training – this does not always mean going on that lovely piece of gym equipment. Cross training means variety, look to mix your running up with other activities that help maintain your fitness but prevent overuse injuries. These activities could be biking, swimming, racket sports, circuits, zumba.

Nutrition – plan for your training. Pre exercise meals should be based on providing you with the energy to carry out your planned session and post meals should help replenish stores post session.

Commit to Get Fit - Starters Guide



Starters Guide to the gym

Hello all and great start to the Commit to Get Fit regime. It would appear that all of you are upping activity levels or avoiding those nasty delights.  

The following ramblings are jargon busting explanations for some of those words you here the scary instructor say – do more reps, do more sets – and a little intro into a few weeks training and what you should look to do.

Jargon busting

Repetitions – the number of times you lift a weight. If you do 1 squat this is one repetition. The general population should look to perform 6-15 repetitions, depending on your goals. If you cannot reach 6 repetitions the weigh is too heavy, if you can do more than 15 repetitons the weight is too light.

Set - a completion of series of repetitions. If you complete 10 squats you have completed one set. If you rest for 60s then do another 10 squats, you would have completed 2 sets

Overload – without the stimulus of overload you will not progress and reach your goals – this means increasing the resistance, distance or speed every couple of weeks.

Super Set – performing a set on one exercise then moving straight onto another exercises, completing a set on this before resting. By working out this way, or even a Tri-set or Quad set can save you time in the gym, whilst still getting the results you are after.

Interval  - predetermined intervals of exercises and rest periods, for example, cycling for 60s at 90% your max pace interspersed with 120s at 40% your max pace. Complete the desired number of repetitions. Theoretically, intervals with the appropriate spaced work to rest ratios allow more work to be accomplished at a higher exercise intensity with the same or less fatigue than during a session at the same pace (60% max pace) for 20 minutes.  

Toned – in the gym environment we here this word a lot. Unfortunately you cannot tone a muscle, you can increase it size, decrease the body fat around a muscle or increases in strength to get the look you are after. To get a ‘toned’ muscle you will have to lift a heavy resistance, no more that 15 repetitions each set, if you can continually lift the weight for more repetitions, I would not go as far as saying you are wasting* your time in the gym, due to the positive mental and social benefits of the gym, but with regards to reaching your goals it will take a lot longer.

*Note – this may be suitable for those injured and on rehabilitation programmes, or even sports specific. But with the majority of goals in the gym being increase muscle size and decrease body fat percentage this way of training, performing more than 15 repetitions each set would not be advantageous.

 Prior to every session

Warm up – this involves some basic mobility drills which a link is attached below. Spend around 30s on each drill, this will loosen up the joints and prepare you for the exercises ahead.

Mobility exercise look to improve areas of tightness and increase our range of movement around a join, aiding us in our exercise performance.


Getting Started – three week very rough, very basic guide

 Day One - as this is your first day in the gym look this is all about familiarising yourself with the equipment at the facility you are using, either the Falmer Sports Complex, Sport Centre Gym or a gym of your choice.

Start performing the exercise with a light warm up set, this would be selecting a resistance that allows you to get to your target repetition range comfortably. Keeping adding a little weight the next 1-2 sets, until the weight just about allows you to reach your target repetition range.

The exercises you select should fit into the following movement planes

Knee dominant exercises – squats and deadlifts. There are a variety of squats which can be performed so everyone, no matter of their physical ability can start to perform squats and progress

Hip dominant exercises – hip hinges, leg curls

Vertical Pull – pulldown, pull ups

Vertical push – shoulder press, cable press

Horizontal Pull – seated row, cable row

Horizontal Push – chest press, press up

The following link shows a variety of progression which you can work your way through over the coming weeks/months.

Now before we select and exercises from each group, as we are most likely to be sitting at a desk most of the day, we want to open up the back and prevent our shoulders rounding in. We should make sure that we perform more pulling exercises in a session that pushing exercises, so we do 2 pulling exercises to one pushing exercises.

Secondly we do not want to come in and train the core through crunches, this will only reinforce the bad posture we already have. Again look to perform some of the core exercises progression on the Sussexsport philosophy.

Finish the session with some intervals on a bike, cross trainer, rower or treadmill – lasting 10 -15minutes. The interval length will depend on your fitness level and ability.

Day two – rest, you may feel what is known as DOMs (delayed onset of muscles soreness) this is a good thing, but it may not feel it at the time! This shows that you have overloaded the body, the body is repairing itself ready for the next time, getting stronger, ready for the next session.

Day three- if you are still sore give it another day to recover. If you are feeling fine it’s time to hit the gym again. The body will have adapted. As you cycle through the month listen to your body, if it is sore rest and recover, if you are feeling good hit the gym/another class.

Repeat the exercises you performed on the first day. This time on your first and second sets add a little more weight compared to the first day.

Day Five – repeat. If you feel recovered repeat your second workout again.

Day eight – the start of a new week. Increase the weight you have been lifting by no more than 10%. Look to challenge yourself a little this week- it is ok to fail. If you fail because you can not technically perform a repetition this is the body telling you it has worked hard. That is fine, stop lifting at that repetition and rest.

Day  12 –Things should have moved on a notch this week, you should start to get the hand of the exercise, know the weights you are lifting, are they challenging? Can I lift more? Run faster? Run further?

Day 15 – week three is time to challenge yourself. The third week is all about the power of 2. Using your target repetition range, select a weight that is challenging. The weight should be set so you can either A= reach your target repetition range; B = can only do 2 or less repetitions above your target; C = you are below you repetition target by 2 or less. For example my target is 12 repetitions A= 12; B= <14 C = >10.


Thanks for staying awake and reading this far

Physical Activity - not all about blood, sweat and tears



Great blogs all the Commit to Get Fit people. I enjoy reading them from a professional point of view (instructor at Sussexsport) as they are all showing that physical activity does not have to be about blood, sweat and tears – it is about what you get out of it.


Sussexsport philosophy is Be Better, Move Better, Feel Better, whilst out mission statement includes fitness, sport, well-being with the biggest item being wellbeing, wellbeing is a major factor which I am seeing from the variety of blogs. Physical activity is so much more than blood sweat and tears, it:

  • Controls our weight – if we lead a balanced life style of being active and eating correctly. This does not mean going on a diet for 4 weeks then putting the weight back on, as the diet sets unrealistic targets for the long term. The same with a fitness plan that jumps straight in at the deep end, its unsustainable. Start slow, make small changes, make changes that will fit into YOUR daily routine/life.
  • Reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease – less stress on the heart as we are fitter and healthier through leading a balanced active/healthy lifestyle. You can be overweight and fit, and even a normal weight and unhealthy
  • Reduce the risk of some cancers
  • Reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Strengthen your bones and muscles – less injuries, less breaks as we get older
  • Improve your mental health – as we have read from some inspiring blogs. The body produces its own medication (feel good hormones) through moving a little during the day.
  • Boost of energy – heart and lungs working more efficiently, means you have more energy to go about your daily chores
  • Improves your mood – the body is at it again producing those feel good drugs from within, no need to take any medication when the body produces it itself
  • Exercise helps you sleep – the best way I can describe this is watch a child run around all day being physical active what happens when its bed time? Straight out, the same for us adults. But remember, exercising too close to bedtime can energise you and make your more awake.

Keep blogging and motivating others

Blood Pressure



Blood Pressure

Having a high blood pressure greatly increases your chances of having a heart attack or stroke. Exercise is one way in which we can help lower and control blood pressure. If we are performing resistance exercises it is always important to breathe through each rep, holding our breath can increase our blood pressure. It does not matter when you breath so long as you breathe on each rep. Most people generally breath in when lowering a weight and breath out when lifting the weight. It is reported by the British Heart Foundation that 1/3 people in England and Scotland have high blood pressure.

Blood pressure is the pressure of the blood in our arteries as the heart beats. We have two points during the beating cycle when it relaxes to allow blood to enter/drawn into the arteries (Diastolic), and when the arteries contract (Systolic).

Systolic - is the highest level your blood pressure reaches. This is when your heart contracts and blood is forced through the arteries.

Diastolic - is the lowest level your blood pressure reaches. This is when your heart relaxes between each beat.

Blood pressure is measured as millimetres of mercury and a recommended target is 120 / 80 mmHg. When you have your blood pressure monitored you may have high blood pressure if it is 140 / 90. If you have previously had a stroke or cardiovascular disease the target is below 130 / 80.

Some contributing risk factors to high blood pressure include:

Not doing enough physical activity


Too musch salt in your diet

Being overweight or obese

Family genres – if one or both of your parents have high blood pressure your chances are increased

Low Blood pressure – hypotension – is a reading of 90/60 mmHg. At present there are no major factors associated with low blood pressure, in fact those with low blood pressure, on average, live longer than those with high or even normal blood pressure. Low blood pressure can cause dizziness or fainting. Postural hypotension is when we go from sitting to standing and your blood pressure drops causing dizziness or fainting.

Blood pressure changes through the day with the morning being higher than the evening. Blood pressure can change temporarily through stress, or even ‘white coat syndrome’ where we are nervous of seeing the doctor.

Exercise also changes our blood pressure. With maximal aerobic exercise, systolic pressure can rise to as much as 220 – 260 mmHg. Your diastolic pressure remains the same or decreases slightly.

Heart Rate



Heart Rate

What is our heart rate? It is the number if times our heart beats per minute to pump blood around the body. Veins transport blood back to the heart whilst arteries transport blood pumped from the heart.

An individual’s resting heart rate can be between 60-100 beat per minute. As we start to exercise and become fitter, our resting heart rate should decrease. This is because the heart becomes more efficient at pumping blood around the body, meaning at rest it takes less beats per minute to circulate blood around the body.

Heart rate below 60 beats is known as bradycardia and higher than 100 is trachycardia.

To work out your target heart rate use the following formulae.





Target HR








Target HR


Resting HR


Heart Rate Reserve








60% intensity


Heart Rate Reserve


Resting Heart Rate


Target Heart Rate for 60%









70% intensity


Heart Rate Reserve


Resting Heart Rate


Target Heart Rate for 70%









80% intensity


Heart Rate Reserve


Resting Heart Rate


Target Heart Rate for 80%









90% intensity


Heart Rate Reserve


Resting Heart Rate


Target Heart Rate for 80%








A good recovery rate in a 60s period is 30-39 beats per minute. Your overall recovery rate is how long it takes your exercise heart rate to reach resting levels. The quicker we recover the fitter we are. Measure your fitness against the same session to get a more accurate account of your fitness. Look to take your heart rate every 60s post workout and compare the recovery rate each week.

When cooling down after exercise we should look for the heart rate to drop below 110 beats per minute before we go back to our desks.

Overtraining - monitoring your resting heart rate is a useful tool in measuring whether we have recovered from our previous session or whether we are overtraining. If our resting heart rate is 10 beats or more above its resting rate we should adjust the session that day to something lighter or even take the day off.  

Mr Twits Great Upside Down Monkey Circus - Get Fit Challenge - Week 3



Last week was a different kind of week to most. As part of the CTGF I thought I'd try some of the more gruelling sounding activities. I do Spin and Life Circuits most weeks so I'm used to putting some effort in. I chose Boxercise, H.I.T. (High Intensity Training) and Power Hoop and I thought I'd spread them over the month. Alas with availability of Power Hoop and a group Spin class and some fitness bartering "I'll do H.I.T. with you if you do group Spin?", I ended up deciding to do all 5 chosen activities over 4 days. I missed out Kung Fu because I used to do Shaolin Kung Fu here at Sussex over a decade ago.


I've done a little comparison:-


Intensity: High and low
Cardio: High I think
Sweat Factor: High
Out of breathe: Yes
Fun: Loads
Complicated to follow: No
Technique: It'll come
Recommend: Yes


Intensity: High and low
Cardio: Extreme
Sweat Factor: Extreme
Out of breathe: Yes
Fun: Sometimes (usually music dependent)
Complicated to follow: For new starters and the hard of hearing.
Technique: trainer should introduce the fundamentals. You need to learn your own limits though.
Recommend: Yes - its hard and noisy but rewarding.

At this point I should have been doing my headstand practice but after 2 dodgy night's sleep and 2 gruelling classes I decided sitting was a safer option....


Intensity: High and low
Cardio: Moderate
Sweat Factor: Moderate
Out of breathe: Yes
Fun: No! Ladies No! Squatting (it burns us precious). Aerobics and step, Gangnam Style and LMFAO songs, make your own opinion.
Complicated to follow: No, listen to trainer and watch person in front.
Technique: It hurts too much to care.
Recommend: Yes and no, a really good workout, Ria is an excellent class instructor but this class is not for me.

Slept like a babe on Tuesday night.*

Power Hoop

Intensity:Moderate and low
Cardio: Moderate
Sweat Factor: Moderate
Out of breathe: Yes (due to lack of technique).
Fun: Yes
Complicated to follow: No.
Technique: Critical, if you don't have it its hard work but once you start getting it it's good fun and the breathlessness goes.
Recommend: Yes

Life Circuits

Intensity:You choose
Cardio: Moderate
Sweat Factor: Moderate/You choose
Out of breathe: Sometimes
Fun: Yes, both Mark and Terry work really hard on making these classes different every week.
Complicated to follow: No comment - once you get going its normally fine.
Technique: For safety reasons you should know what you're doing with weights and apparatus. The instructors will show you.
Recommend: Yes

And it's over. I couldn't wait for Friday's Yin Yoga class. It was the reward for a very very hard week. It has to be said that I did over do it during week 3. I was running on empty at H.I.T. and Power Hoop. I had a few aches that I wouldn't normally get, like tight calves.

In reflection I have a balanced exercise regime but I think I'd like to include a bit of walking, a bit of swimming, alternate cycling with rowing [Indoor Rowing Classes Terry?] and I wish I was disciplined enough to use the gym regularly on my own. I will commit to trying out the next 6 week course for Metabolic Training.


Quick Monkey Circus Update

*On Weds I had a go at the headstand. Karen pointed out I was going up in an uncontrolled and rushed way. I think I've improved that. Still haven't got that balance point. But I'm working on getting used to being upside down. I spent two 5 min sessions upside down on Friday and I think I'll go for 10 mins tonight. Then I reckon it's time to leave the wall.


Finally, water consumption is rubbish still but I've only had 5 packets of crisps this month. Walker's are sending a rep round later this week.

Physical Activity – the best drug we need



Now I am not going to set about telling you, you need to meet the physical activity guidelines set out by the government:

Exercising 3-5 times a week for 30 minutes at ….. blah blah blah

Or that a female needs to eat 2000 calories daily or a male needs to eat slightly more at 2500 calories daily, made up of blah blah blah

Somewhere something is going wrong with us as a population; either our calorie intake is set too high for us as we appear to be a sedentary population or we are eating above the needs of our physical activity.



We can see from the graphs above that we are fast becoming an overweight and unhealthy population. As we get older we stop meeting the demands set out by the government.

Research is showing that there are many positives to changing our eating and exercise habits with Michael Mosely reflecting these approaches in recent Horizon programmes highlighting the effects of the 5 : 2 diet (The Power of Intermittent Fasting) and High Intensity Interval Training (The Truth About exercise) – which both have reported benefits on the mind and body. So do we need to meet the guidelines set out by the government to be healthy? When it has been reported that we can get the same health benefits by exercising for less?  

Why is being physically active good for us? Well through being physically active the body releases its own drugs which are productive in helping fight and control many diseases. When we have these diseases or as prevetion tools GPs often turn to prescription drug, when some of these drugs have negative side effects. In today’s climate why are they not prescribing the drug ‘physical activity’. Physical activity helps:


-       Aerobic and resistance training are associated with a decreased  risk of type 2 diabetes. Several studies report reduced incidence of type 2 diabetes among high risk individuals after lifestyle interventions.

-       Aerobic and resistance training are reported to have benefits when controlling type 2 diabetes. Resistance training may have more benefits for glycemic control

-       How does exercise help? Glucose is used to supply the body with energy, when we exercise we use around 20 times more glucose compared to when we were sitting still. Exercise mimics the glucose controlling effects of insulin. *note – if a diabetic keep an eye on your blood glucose levels as prolonged exercise may increase your blood glucose levels. Monitor blood glucose levels before and after training comparing the effects of both resistance and cardiovascular training – be familiar with the effects of both on your blood glucose levels.


-       Reports suggests routine physical activity reduces the incidence of specific cancers such as colon (decreased risk by 30-40% for women and men) and breast cancer (20-30% reduction relative risk for women) at a moderate intensity.

-       How does exercise help? Exercise reduces the level of insulin in the body which is associated with some cancers. Exercise also helps repair T-cells which are damaged during chemotherapy. Exercise also lowers both estrogen and testosterone levels – which when elevated have been linked to some cancers.


-       Exercise, particularly resistance training, has the greatest effect on bone mineral density.  Fracture rates are reportedly lower among people who perform weight bearing exercises compared to sedentary people.


-       Exercise releases endorphins which react with the receptors in your brain, these endorphins also act in a similar way to morphine, it that they provide positive feelings.

-       Endorphins acts as pain buffers, known as analgesics

-       Do activities that are beneficial to you – high intensity bouts of exercise release the feel good hormones/endorphins whilst yoga and pilates can aid relaxation


-       Cholesterol is found in our food and produced in the body. We have good and bad cholesterol, Low density lipoproteins (LDL) which are bad and High Density Lipoproteins (HDL)

-       LDL deposits excess cholesterol on the arteries walls, increasing blood pressure as less space for blood to get through (imagine and hose squeezed at the end)

-       HDL deposits excess cholesterol in the liver

-       Exercise increase the production of HDL, this increases the amount of cholesterol which is transported the to the liver and excreted. Exercise also reduce triglycerides which promote the production of LDL

 Blood Pressure

-       Physical activity makes our heart stronger, this means it can pump more blood with each beat around the body. This reduces the force through your arteries, reducing your blood pressure (see previous blood pressure blog)

-       Less LDL sticking to the walls of our arteries also reduces our blood pressure, less LDL on the artery walls means more space for the same about of blood to pass through at the same time


A good Review paper if you want to read alittle more on this subject is

Health benefits of Physical Activity: the evidence. Warburton et al 2006.

To find it go to Google, Scholar search and type in the article name. It should be the first one that appears.

ITS go wild at Bouldering...



This week members of the IT team went bouldering…

We felt apprehensive as we tried on our climbing shoes, were they supposed to be this tight?  What if we fell off (hmm, turns out - not a problem), What if we couldn’t grip the ‘thingys’ on the wall?


The lovely chaps at Boulder Brighton gave us a warm up – i.e. they got us started on a training wall, everyone managed to make their way across, so we were let loose on the other higher, more difficult, busier walls.  The place was full of very athletic, lithe, enthusiastic people – and us!

Before we knew it, we were getting to grips (literally) with the ‘thingys’, the grippy bits on the walls and hauling ourselves up to the top, hanging there for a second in victory.  Colleagues were clapping and encouraging and calling out where the grippy bits were located.  Teamwork was key!

Time flew by and before we knew it, it was time to go to the pub – to replace all that energy we had expended.  There was still time to be pleasantly surprised by an ad-hoc hooping lesson in the car park by Susi.  We decided there and then that a hooping session this week would be a great idea.

Commit to get fit…by hula hooping our way around Shawcross...