Gain lean muscle blog – Part 10: The final results


One week late so apologies for the delay.  Whoever said things get quieter towards Christmas was lying as I’ve been run off my feet.  All good of course but at the minute no one will be getting any presents from me unless I find a time to sneak down the shops in between clients!  Anyway, here are the results and they make for some interesting reading.

Measurement                Pre-week 1:        End of week 3:        End of week 6:      Difference:

Weight                              73.7kg                              76.2kg                 +2.5kg

Body fat%                          11.5%                     14%                       12%                   +0.5%

Lean body mass                 65kg                     65.2kg                   67.1kg                 +2.1kg

Shoulders                           116cm                   118cm                    118cm                  +2cm

Chest                                 101.5cm                 105cm                    104cm                 +2.5cm

Arms                                   33cm                    35.5cm                   35cm                  +2cm

Upper waist                        77cm                     81.2cm                  79.4cm                +2.4cm

Lower waist                        80cm                    81.8cm                  79.8cm                -0.2cm

Hips                                    94.5cm                   96cm                   96.8cm               +2.3cm

Upper leg                            55.6cm                  57.8cm                  59.5cm                +3.9cm

Thanks again to Ryan from Hogan’s Elite for his time.  Go check out his Facebook here for invaluable nutrition information, training tips and boxing coaching.

So how do I feel? In general really pleased.

Before I get into things though I think it’s important to emphasise that girth measurements take into account body fat (BF) and this should be lept in mind when reviewing results.  If a girth measurement reduces it’s possible that merely fat has been lost and the muscle itself has remained the same.  In a similar vain, if the measurement remains the same, but BF has dropped then potentially the muscle has grown to make up for the loss in girth caused by the loss of fat.  Therefore not all loss is bad loss so don’t assume the worst!

Despite that, it is hard not to get wrapped up in the details especially when laid out like above.  I haven’t included my BF measurements either so there is a lot I could review but at the end of the day we have to look at the bigger picture and what was achieved. Despite the slow start I hit over my target of 3lbs in 6 weeks by an extra 1.6lbs. That is in itself it great but I have also lost size in my waist (my belly basically) so again thats a positive.  Forget I lost size in weeks 3 to 6 because of the shoulder tweak or my body fat has gone up…I am where I am now and I’m happy.  The past is the past, but use what you know to now focus on what you want to achieve over the next 6 weeks.

Taking a closer look at things, I was initially thrown by the large increase in weight.  I simply put this down to the increased effort to eat more after week 3 and I did…perhaps to much at times (I did manage 16 slices of pizza for one of my cheat meals), but maintaining the increase in calories worked a treat as you can see.  Such a difference in lean body mass.

Eating more carbs wasnt the only things I changed however….I was cycling them in the last three weeks.  I associate the lowering in BF with this and, although perhaps slightly more complicated than I wanted to get in this programme, you can see that application of correct ‘proven’ knowledge will always help.  On a side note Im putting together (slowly) a series of blog posts on carbs, one which will look in depth at carb cycling so keep an eye out for that over the next couple of months.

At the mid point of 3 weeks I felt really strong and this kept going right up until the end.  Yes I felt tired but If I put my head down and just man’d up I was storming through workouts once the blood was flowing.  Based on this I’m inclined to keep this going right up until Christmas just to see how far I can actually take it.  Two or so extra weeks will not kill me and when you are in the flow, keep going.  It’s good to adjust training but if you are still gaining and not plateauing then why switch?

For now though that’s where I will leave this blog. Hopefully they have been eye opening, informative and will be a benefit to your training.  It’s now time for you to have a go and what better time of year to begin planning.  Plan it all out over Christmas so in the new year you can come back rested, strong and ready to kick this off.  As a means of motivation I’m offering the plan for free.  All you need to do is click the 5 links below to download PDF versions of each trainign day.  It’s up to you how you factor the 5 day split, I’d recommend trying to give your self a rest though either prior to or after the legs days as they are tough!

Day 01 – Legs (quads)

Day 02 – Back and biceps

Day 03 – Shoulders

Day 04 – Legs (hamstrings / glutes)

Day 05 – Chest and triceps

Take photos and let me know how you get on too by posting your results to my Facebook page!  While you are there,  there is a competition running to win all the supplements I’ve used, a 1 hour training session with me AND a custom programme based on your goals. All you need to do  is like the competition post!

Keep checking the page and also my blog in the new year for exciting opportunities, competitions and loads of blogs :) Till then train hard and have a great Christmas!

Enter Our Competition To Win Over £150′s Worth Of Prizes!

We’ve teamed up with James Owens Personal Trainer to offer you this great competition prize worth over £150!

- 1 tub of Wheymax Hydrolysed Whey Protein Isolate
- 1 tub of Opti-Glutamine Powder
- 1 tub of Creaplus Creatine Monohydrate
- A 1 hour training session with James Owens
- A custom training programme based on your goals

To enter visit our Facebook pages and LIKE the post pinned to the top of the page:

Competition ends 12th December. The winner will be announced shortly after. Good luck!

The winner must be able to attend Fitness First, Shepherds Bush, London in January 2015 to take advantage of the free session. Other T&Cs apply.

Gain lean muscle blog – Part 9: Week 5 update & can rep range influence the type of hypertrophy in a muscle?


So ever heard of the expression, don’t tempt fate?  Let me just quote one of my blogs from a couple of weeks ago……

“Now that I’m comfortable with the program, confident that my knee is okay and in a routine, I can tell I’ve stepped up the training even more.  This is not a bad thing, but it’s worthwhile me keeping myself in check as it’s these times when it’s possible to get a bit cocky, or push just a little too much and end up burning out or worse, getting an injury.”

Well wouldn’t you know but I felt something go this week.  After all the concern though it wasn’t in my knee, but my shoulder.  Being so concerned with my knee health has led me to simply ignore other weak areas, forgetting the important strengthening execrises, and now it’s come back to bite me on the ass.  This is through no other fault but my own.  When building the program I didn’t allow for any re-abilitiation work, something that I always include in typical sessions.  This is so often the case with injuries, when you feel strong you don’t do the basics e.g stretch, warm up, development and stabilising exercises and so on.   Ironically I wasnt even training at the time either.  I was merely rubbing my back first thing after getting up and obviously the joint had just set out of place.  One large crunch later and something was certainly not right.  I can get down about this or I can be thankful it happened then rather than when lifting when the damage could’ve been much worse.  Either way it has meant any push exercise, so primarily shoulder and chest, has been out this week. I could still focus on back and legs, and to make up the other sessions I decided to hit my arms on one and then focus on re-delts, abs and calves on the other.  I have learnt from before that pushing through an injury is not the way to go and I would prefer 1-2 weeks off rather than 6 months.  Having had 7 days off the shoulder it seems pretty much okay but even still I’ll take it easy in the last shoulders and chest sessions just in case.

The overall affect of this change to training will be seen at the end of this week when I do my final measurements.  I’m still hoping to see increases again but maybe not to the same level as the first 3 weeks.  I feel I’m keeping body fat in check a little bit better in this final period.  I wouldn’t say I have lost any but I definitely do feel as though I have put on more.  Only time will tell.

I was thinking about what else I could put in this post when I had a great conversation with another PT at work.  There is a common belief in body building communities (and other sports) that the rep range at which you lift will ultimately determine the type of hypertrophy that occurs within the muscle, and as such dictate your functional ability.  By that are you all aesthetic with ‘all show no go’ or does your physique do no justice to your abilities?  As I have been (attempting) building muscle for the last 5 weeks I thought it would be a good theory to review and give my opinion on the subject.

First we need to understand the physiology of a muscle.  The contractile elements, or that which allows us to generate force are known as myofibrils.  Around these we have a non-contractile (note this does not mean non-functional) fluid known as sarcoplasm.  The theory states that by lifting low reps, high weight, you stimulate predominantly myofibriller hypertrophy (functional hypertrophy) and high reps, low weight stimulates predominately sarcoplasmic hypertrophy  (non functional growth).

Where has this come from?

Think of a body builder with huge muscles, incredible physiques and bulging biceps.  Their main focus is to lift to generate the biggest muscle with strength not being a top goal.  Most use rep range 8-15 even up to 20 and then results are fantastic (if you like that look).  Now look at power lifters, with typically thick and dense muscle.  They lift in rep ranges of 1 -3 and have huge functional strength, but typically don’t have a desired physique.

And really that’s it.  There is very little evidence to actually support this idea. The only bit of evidence is, and I quote, “obscure russian research ‘ from the Russian sports scientists Vladimir Zatsiorsky and many haven’t been able to find it.  So as it stands, this separation of hypertophic results is just not proven, Sturart Phillips PhD from the kinesiology department at McMaster University said this;

“There are no examples of where a muscle fibre hypertrophies with resistance training and the myofibrillar pool doesn’t grow but the sarcoplasm does!”

So although it makes sense when looking at it, it’s potentially a lot of brosience.  Take a step back and think a little more scientifically too and it seems even more unrealistic.

Physiologically sarcoplasm in a healthy muscle constitutes merely 05.-2% of the space.  That means the overall contribution to gross hypertrophy is actually minuscule.  Any noticeable size difference would require a percentage increase in the hundreds, if not thousands, of percent.

Secondly those who excel in a support are predominantly predisposed to that discipline.  What do I mean?  Take for example the swimmer Michael Phelps.  His huge number of gold medals was not just down to hard training.  He had double jointed ankles and elbows enabling more power and thrust through the water.  His arm span was proportional much wider than typical ratio to height, he had exceptionally large hands and feet, he was even shown to create less lactic acid than other swimmers.  This all made him far superior in the pool.  This is the same for power lifting….those who excel are genetic primed for that.  There are plenty of people in the world who train the same as a power lifter but don’t end up a solid mass or similar strength. Quite simply we naturally gravitate to what we are good at, call it sports own very natural selection if you will.

But why are some people so weak for their size?

This is fairly obvious really.  They basically don’t train for it. Power lifting requires specific motor skill adaptations not caused by ‘typical’ body building workouts.  Put a body builder through a power lifting protocol and they simply won’t be able to match up, but that also goes the other way too.  A power lifter will not be able to match the high reps of a body builder.

You can also put some theory on the act that high volume training with extreme fatigue promotes the growth of both Type I and Type II fibres, whereas strength exclusively affects Type II.  What is key is that Type II fibres are better at producing power which in basic terms means Type I are less strong.

Finally body builders will focus energy looking to develop muscles that do not necessarily translate into strength such a delts, arms and chest, rather than  the core muscles, erectors, glutes, hamstrings etc that are constantly hit by power lifters.

At the end of the day we have considered ‘standard’ rep ranges but ultimately what works well for some wont for others, that is just how confusing we are as humans.  The best way, as always is to find what works for you and stick with it.

Until next week, keep training hard.

Gain lean muscle blog – Part 8: Product review


Week 4 is complete and I’m beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  It has been a great programme but as I mentioned last week I’m missing my kettlebell training and I’m dying to try some new movement patterns I’ve seen.  That said,  it’s been a somewhat easier week as I have taken one more day off than usual.  I had a little more tattoo done this week and so it’s meant the last 3 days have been all about recovery.  Not a bad thing of course, I like my rest.  Which day did miss? Well I dropped my quad day.  Why the quads? I have two leg days anyway as you know and if making a comparison it’s my hamstrings that are slightly behind in development.

Up until now there has been one area of the training that I have avoided discussing too much and that is the supplements I am taking.  I’ve done this for a couple of reasons.  First, I didn’t want to put too much emphasis on them and you to think that it’s all about supplements.  I say time and time again that their name gives it away.  They are to supplement a good diet and shouldn’t replace.  Secondly, I wanted to see how I progressed over a few weeks to see if I noticed any substantial differences in using Pharmamuscle’s products.

So throughout the six weeks I taking three supplements, Wheymax hydrolysed whey protein isolate (HWPI), Creaplus and Opti-glutamine.  I’ll start with the protein as I’m typically asked about protein shakes by every client. There are so many proteins on the market it often gets a little confusing and also very expensive.  For me, I have always used a standard whey protein concentrate (WPC) primarily due to cost, so having the opportunity to try HWPI was something not to turn down.  To begin with though what is hydrolysed whey protein isolate apart from a mouthful to say?  The two most common forms for protein supplementation are WPC and whey protein isolate (WPI), the main difference being isolates are more pure with non-protein components removed to “isolate” the whey.  WPI is typically about 90% protein (concentrate is 80 and lower), meaning you get more protein per equivalent dose and comparatively isolate has less calories, less total carbohydrate, lactose, fat and cholesterol so already it’s looking better.

What is the ‘hydrolysed’ though?

In the case of concentrates and isolates they are both intact proteins.  However, both can go through a further process where the protein is ‘broken’ into smaller fragments.  This importantly allows it to be absorbed more rapidly. The thing is, isolates are already fast-digesting, plus all forms of whey protein have great digestibility and amino acid profile.  It therefore begs the question, as a non-athlete will a more expensive product actually be worth it? What I have always been curious of is how much would I actually notice these additional benefits.

Obviously without scientific analysis, and it being nigh on impossible to replicate influencing factors when making comparisons between products,  I have to approach this from a personal point of view, looking more to taste and I how I ‘felt’ when taking it.  For most, these alongside cost will be the determining factor anyway so that is where I will focus.  I never thought I had any intolerance to lactose however I no longer have the bloating I experienced from my normal protein.  In fact I had grown so accustomed to abdominal cramping that not to have it feels strange.  The taste was initially bland but bearing in mind my shakes I had were crammed with artificial sweeteners that is somewhat to be expected.  It was also slightly bitter, a result of the manufacturing process, but this taste difference passed quickly with regular use.  (Note: Adding some post workout carbs also helped with this issue).  Four weeks in I’m now accustomed to it and the sickly, furry teeth syndrome that I used to get with my previous shake is certainly not missed.  At the end of the day, the benefit of low carbs and low fat, but high protein content and fast absorption certainly sets the product above others.  The determining factor though for many will be price and lactose interolence, but I’m a believer that if you have the money you should never skimp on your health.

I have also been using creatine on a daily basis.  I won’t delve into the science, benefits or usage of creatine in this article (you can read more on my blog post here). What I’m literally going to do is review the product.  So Creaplus is a creatine monohydrate, what is considered the best and most cost effective form of creatine.  It is something I have used many times before and is a supplement I always return to.  In comparison between Creaplus and others I have tried, two things stood out.  First, I have not suffered once from bloating or cramps as I have with competitors products, even during the loading stage when I was on 20g a day.  This in itself is great but I also noticed something much less noticeable.  There was next to no excess left in the glass when consuming.  With others, there has always been granular left overs on the sides of the cup or shaker.  Creaplus on the other hand was non existant.  I noticed this primarily during the loading phase when I tried it in just a bit of water.  During this time I also tried what I call the ‘swallow test’.  Simply pour 5 grams onto the tongue, take only a sip of water and swallow.  There was no bad taste and no dry, itchyness on the throat.  Obviously you don’t have to take it like that, I was just for ease but it’s worth noting.  Finally did it do it’s job? Creatine is marketed as a supplement that aids short bursts of high intensity exercise, perfect for weight training.  In turn it helps in the development of size  and strength.  As you know from my mid way assessment I have certainly increased in size.  Strength wise I’m continually progressing as well. Although recovering from a knee injury at the start, I was pushing 220kg leg press, at the end of this week I’m hitting 300kg.  There’s certainly a level of ‘muscle memory’ but that’s an insane increase.  I’ve also noticed increases, though not as large obviously, in my presses (+12.5kg on the military press and +15kg in lat pull down).  Now you can argue that creatine is creatine no matter the manufacturer, but this certainly is the best I have tried and will continue to use from now on.

Finally Opti-glutamine.  I have never supplemented specifically with glutamine so this was the one I was most interested in.  There are a number of benefits associated with it from improved recovery to boosted immune system.  However, as with the protein, I have no way of scientifically proving the said benefits, all I can go from is my own experience. I think for those training hard and training regularly recovery is key.  Finding a way of limiting DOMS and restoring glycogen levels fast will always be beneficial.  Returning to my initial blog on the training, you will know I have done the same program before; it was effective and the reason why i choose it again for comparison when supplementing with Pharmamuscle products.  Now I have been sore throughout, especially legs, but the DOMS are just not as intense.  Anyone who has hit legs hard will know the discomfort that you can get from merely sitting on a seat, and although the muscles have been tender, I just haven’t suffered as much as I thought.  Now this could be a combination of other factors from better integration of rest into the schedule, eating more or simply just training better, but either way I’m not going to say that glutamine did nothing.  Primarily though I have felt strong.  I have woken groggy but feeling like my muscles are ready rather than weak and tired.  I have also been on the edge of a cold, but this never hit.  Could it be the benefits on the immune system? Again, hard to tell unless I could replicate everything exactly the same and not be taking glutamine.  I would say it is definitely worth trying or at least researching.  Is there enough scientific evidence out there that you deem it worthwhile? In the end that is for you to decide but for me, the personal results certainly look promising.

Gain lean muscle blog – Part 7: Week 3 mid way body stats


I have just completed week 3 of my 6 week plan and what better way to check my progress than by re-taking all my body stats and making a comparison.  This week I’ve certainly noticed a change in my body, infact 3 people have commented that I’m looking bigger.  The one noticable thing for me is that I appear ‘softer’ and with less muscle definition.  I will explain why I think this is, for the moment lets review the stats:

Measurement                        Pre-week 1:              End of week 3:             Difference:

Weight                                     73.7kg                        75.9kg                       +2.2kg

Body fat%                                 11.5%                         14%                           +2.5%

Lean body mass                         65kg                         65.2kg                       +0.2kg(0.5lbs)


Shoulders                                 116cm                         118cm                       +2cm

Chest                                      101.5cm                        105cm                       +3.5cm

Arms                                        33cm                          35.5cm                      +2.5cm

Upper waist                              77cm                          81.2cm                      +4.2cm

Lower waist                             80cm                          81.8cm                      +1.8cm

Hips                                        94.5cm                         96cm                        +1.5cm

Upper leg                                 55.6cm                        57.8cm                      +2.2cm

N.B – In “Part 3: Body stats and tracking progress” lower waist was noted as 88cm…this was a typo.

So straight away you can see that my overall weight has increased but so has my body fat percentage.  This is the softness that I noted previously but in the grand schemes of things I’m not massively concerned by the increase.  That is always to be expected…..I just don’t want it to increase any more.  In order to curb any further rise in body fat I will begin to reduce my carbs on days when I don’t train, just by a little, and  intake more to the evening.  This is based very loosely on the idea of carb cycling which I think I will write a blog about in the future.  For the minute I will keep it simple and say “no training = less carbs”.   Note I’m saying “less”  not “no”.

The key measurement however is the lean body mass which has increased by approximately 0.2kg.  Converted to lbs this is about 0.5 so I’m sitting low of my target LBM increase (set in blog 1) of 0.25-0.5lbs per week.  Basically,  I need to work harder and eat with more ‘rules’, but the results are looking promising.  That is highlighted by an increase in all girth measurements.  Obviously added girth to lower waist (belly) is one that I don’t necessarily wish to increase but that will go when I eventually cut and I’m also now aware I will need to be more vigilant with what I eat on rest days.

At the end of the day you could argue that the most important aspect of gaining muscle is size which I am definitely achieving.  For me though, it’s achieving quality muscle with minimum body fat increase.  With that in mind….it will be a strict 3 weeks ahead!  I think it’s important to also state that I’m not demoralised by not reaching my goals.  I’m happy to see progress and merely have more guidelines to work to now.  For me sitting low just helps motivate me that bit more to work harder and eat better.

Other things I noticed this week, I’m far more tired than previous weeks.  I initially thought this could’ve been the fall out from my sisters wedding and just not recovering enough.  However I’m still tired, even despite eating well and sleeping.  I’ve put this down to two things; training even harder and a brewing cold.  Now that I’m comfortable with the program, confident that my knee is okay and in a routine, I can tell I’ve stepped up the training even more.  This is not a bad thing, but it’s worthwhile me keeping myself in check as it’s these times when it’s possible to get a bit cocky, or push just a little too much and end up burning out or worse, getting an injury.  With that in mind for next week’s training I’m deliberately going to drop the weight slightly and add a couple more reps to all the exercises.  It will break up the routine plus shock the body a little.  Also, as mentioned, I think I’m on the verge of a cold so stepping back just a little will lessen the battering on my immune system.

I’m still enjoying the training but I’m also starting to miss circuit training, kettlebells and throwing sand bags around the gym.  The intensity of that is completely different and sometimes feels more rewarding.  I often include the odd session to break up my training and keep my body fat in check, especially after a ‘bad’ weekend, but I also do them because I enjoy them.  I think before moving onto a new program after the 6 weeks I’ll give myself a week of circuit/HIIT training just for a change.  I will have to make sure I don’t lose all the muscle I have put on though!

Gain lean muscle blog – Part 6: Week 2 training and a wedding


It has been an amazing week, well to be more specific ‘weekend’.  As you may know it was my sister’s wedding and it was, without a doubt, one of the best times of my life.  It will be a day I never forget, I even still feel a emotional about the whole thing.  Days like that, and being round family, certainly puts things into perspective and makes you realise what is really important in life.

Obviously the wedding had an impact on my training and diet this week but that’s no problem.  I always knew before beginning the training/blog this would be on Friday 31st but as I continually tell you, it’s not all about the gym.  Yes I had beers, yes I ate cheese and basically that day my macros went out the window but you know what……………..? Who cares. I had the best time and why would I want to not enjoy my sisters wedding day?  Turns our there is even photographic evidence of me collected unwanted chicken and sweet potatoe mash from the top table!

If I wanted to I could have waited till after the wedding before starting my 6 week plan, but I know from experience that in the grand schemes of things 24 hours of poor diet choice will have minimal impact in the overall outcome of a 6 week muscle gain programme.  The main thing is to return to the diet and training straight after so as not to increase the impact of the weekend.  I have woken up today looking a little softer than usual but its not something that worries me.  It will go and it will certainly go by the end of the 6 weeks.  Out of interest I did weigh myself today at the gym.  At the minute I weigh 76.2kg, that’s an increase of 2.5kg in 2 weeks, though in entire body weight rather than lean body mass.  This I assume to be related to an increase in water retention due to increased carb consumption, plus full glycogen stores which will also add to overall body weight.  It could even be some increase body fat but I’ll know for sure when I redo my body measurements at the end of the week.

I have once again made adjustments to my training from last week (this is mentioned in blog 5) so as to ensure I still hit all the body parts I needed to despite the wedding.  In general I don’t feel as tired and the knee/ leg is still holding up even after 290kg leg press so, touch wood, I can go heavier this week again.  For those of you who know my schedule you will be aware that really I should’ve done legs today (day 1) but I’ve made a switch as I had a client again this morning.  I find that I can hit back quicker than legs, partly due to a much longer warm up (thinking of the knee again) so will be doing quads tomorrow instead.  It is also now a regular session with my client so I will be following this new order of back Monday, quads Tuesday till the end of the program.  Again, always allow yourself to be flexible, just make sure you are doing all your training.
And that’s where I am at.   Back is done for the week and it’s now time to follow up with clients, create programs and get some more food in me.  Until next week keep checking my facebook as I will be announcing a competition this week plus I’ll be posting the first of many Movember pictures.
Happy training

Protein Found to Significantly Lower Muscle Fatigue

Whey ProteinA recent study looking into supplement usage during resistance training has found that soluble milk protein – such as whey protein – reduces muscle fatigue significantly in comparison to micellar casein.

The study, published by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (1), saw three study groups each participate in a ten week training programme, with muscle fatigue being measured after 4 weeks and 10 weeks respectively.

Each of the groups received a different supplement to take throughout the study, with one given a placebo, one given soluble milk protein, and one given micellar casein. The decrease in power of those in the soluble milk protein group was found to be significantly lower after both four and ten weeks of the programme.


Pharmamuscle supplies the UK’s highest quality and most pure soluble whey protein supplement. Wheymax Whey Protein is a hydrolysed whey protein isolate, which ensures that the pure whey protein is partially broken down to aid adsorption. It is also the only soluble whey protein supplement to have been approved by the Vegetarian Society in the UK.

Our customers are already contacting us with success stories after purchasing Pharmamuscle Wheymax and we’re pleased that they are seeing the benefits. To read some of our reviews click HERE.

(1) (Published 11th July 2014)

Gain lean muscle blog – Part 5: End of week 1


“The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray”

So week 1 is done and it couldn’t have been a better example to highlight the need to be flexible in terms of planning, and having a program that allows for some flexibility.  Let me explain……

I woke up last Sunday feeling great.  I’d had a dinner the night before with an old school friend who is over from Hong Kong and demanded a reunion of sorts.  I had a fridge full of food ready to be prepped and I was excited at the prospect of starting on this programme.

That’s where things went a little wrong.  We discovered that since the change of weather mould had decided to set up residence in our cupboard.  But it wasn’t just the cupboard… was everywhere.  Having had such a busy week neither my girlfriend or I noticed it, but that was literally all my plans out the window.  We spent the next 7 hours dolled up in marigolds cleaning, washing everything, going to the dry cleaners and trying to dry the house.

Late into the day we’d done as much as possible so it was time to hit the cooking and at least prep as much as I could in the time left.  First thing I needed to do was to remove a plastic tag from a new spoon and, as I was using a knife to cut it away, I thought “If I slip that’s going in my finger”.  5 seconds later my thumb was wrapped up in tissue and cooking wasn’t going to happen.

The obstacles didn’t end there though.  Monday I went in motivated to train quads hard but it just so happened that everyone else in the gym was doing the same. (What ever happened to chest day Monday??) There was no time to hang around for the squat racks so I decided to do back instead, figuring that I’d just do legs on Tuesday.  Then came a message Monday lunch saying I had a suit fitting for my sisters wedding on Tuesday.  Having any kind of pump when getting a tailored suit is pointless so the leg day moved to Wednesday and Tuesday became a rest/stretching day.

From Wednesday on it was all smooth sailing, but nothing that happened could’ve been factored into my planning.  The thing is by having rest days and enough separation between body parts I have the ability to work around issues like these and still get all my training done.  Not having much food prepped has meant I had to buy bits and prep as best as I can at work, but it’s just about been possible to get near my required macros.  I owe my girlfriend big time for helping in the evening though!

On the subject of food, I’m really enjoying the opportunity to eat more than usual but I’m falling a little shy of my carb requirements as mentioned.  I noticed it was even harder on rest days to meet the set amounts as I just didn’t have the hunger generated from training.  It will be interesting to see what is happening with my body stats at the end of week 3.  From this I can ascertain if I need to still eat as many calories on rest days or if I should step back a little.  Until then, I will continue as planned making extra effort to add more carbs into the diet next week.  Better stock up on oats!!!!!

In general my recovery is great and although sore from day to day, I feel full of energy.  The DOMS haven’t been as bad as I thought, but I could put that down to ‘feeling my way’ in terms of what weights I should be pushing as its week 1.  No matter how good my knee feels there is always a little doubt first big session back after an injury of how it will hold up.  I didn’t feel any pain after the quad session so I pushed it a little harder yesterday and still feeling greet.

The last point I want to cover is how my schedule is planned for this week.  As I mentioned I did quads yesterday instead of today.  This is because I have my sisters wedding this Friday and will therefore not be training then or Saturday.  All this means is simply bumping the ‘day 1′ of the programme to Sunday and dropping a rest day.  It will be hard with reduced rest but again, it’s about learning to push through the obstacles, enjoying your life and at the end still hitting your goals.

Until next time, happy training, and if you have any questions or comments please feel free to post below.


The Inside Scoop With Weightlifter Owen Boxall

Athlete Q&A – Weightlifting with Owen Boxall

Q1. Give us a quick mini bio of who you are, for those that don’t know?

My name is Owen Boxall, I am 24 years old. I am an Olympic weightlifter and have been for around seven years. My aim is to compete at a high standard and become an elite athlete competing in competitions such as the Commonwealth Games, the World Championships and the Olympics. So far I have achieved several of my goals; I have competed in the Commonwealth Games Glasgow 2014, putting me into the elite athlete category and I am now in training for the World Championships in November that will be held in Kazacstan.

Q2. How did you get in to weightlifting?

I first found out about weightlifting though the Olympics. I had the desire to improve my strength and the sport suited me. I liked the style of training and the individual competition.

Q3. What has been your career highlight so far?

My career highlight would have to be competing in the Commonwealth Games. It was my first multiple games competition. The competition was amazing with the biggest crowd and the best competitors in the commonwealth.

Q4. And your greatest challenge so far?

My greatest challenge so far was getting over a big injury that lasted around two years. It had me doubting my career, but I managed to overcome the injury and became stronger and more determined.

Q5. What does your weekly training schedule consist of?

My weekly training schedule consists of 6 training sessions a week, working on two techniques (clean and jerk, and snatch) with the goal of becoming stronger and faster.

Q6. Can you give us an idea of what your diet is like?

My diet fluctuates a lot depending on the body weight I need to be at that time. I have a healthy diet that consists of a lot of meat and vegetables, plus supplements before and after workouts.

Q7. What sports supplements do you use and how do they help?

The supplements I use include Pharmamuscle Wheymax Hydrolysed Whey Protein Isolate, Creaplus 100% Creatine and Mega Minerals. The whey protein allows my body to recover faster allowing for a better performance the next day. The creatine helps me to push harder and release more energy throughout the workout, and Mega Minerals helps to keep my body healthy.

Q8. How do you prepare for a big competition?

In preparation for a big competition I have certain rituals I undertake that include a lot of rest and mental preparation. Then two hours before a competition I have a huge intake of water, food and supplements.

Q9. When you take part in a competition, you’re obviously going to encounter some moments of extreme discomfort and pain. How do you push through ‘the wall’?

During a competition if you encounter a difficult situation such as nerves, a simple solution that I use is to take a moment, take a deep breath and close your eyes for a second, this allows you to refocus and prepare for what is to come.

Q10. What’s your recovery routine like?

My recovery routine is pretty simple, it includes a lot of stretching, resting and the use of supplements such as whey protein.

Q11. What advice would you give to amateur weightlifters?

If you’re just starting to weight-lift you are going to find it hard to begin with, but the soreness does wear off and the use of supplements can play a key factor in the recovery process. Weightlifting is one of the most enjoyable sports that I know of and has great personal rewards if your persevere.

Q12. What are your goals for the upcoming year?

My goals this year include the World Championships. I aim to achieve a high place at the Worlds in order to secure a good standing for the Rio 2016 Olympics.