Eat Yourself Fit – How to Avoid Everyday Exercising Errors

If the Commonwealth Games coverage has inspired you to get on your bike, put on your running shoes or actually use the gym membership that you pay a fortune for, then it’s important that your efforts don’t go to waste. Whether you’re going to the effort of exercising regularly or are undertaking an intense training programme for a specific event, how and when you eat is hugely important. Sports nutrition is a complex (and highly individual) area and with so much contradictory information out there, it’s hard to know exactly which approach to take to maximise your performance and results. Here are three key areas where people commonly go wrong:

Exercising on Empty

It’s not unusual for people to exercise first thing in the morning or after work, when it can be hours since their last meal. The problem here is that blood sugar will be low which results in the release of the stress hormone cortisol. Excess levels of cortisol will impact your training and may encourage the body to burn muscle instead of fat. If you exercise regularly without achieving the results you're seeking, this might be the problem.

While nutrient timing is especially important for endurance or speed training, just maintaining steady blood sugar levels throughout the day can make all the difference for the average gym-goer. You can do this by ensuring a blend of protein and fibre with every meal and snack, avoiding long gaps between meals and limiting your intake of sugary foods and refined carbohydrate. If your last meal was several hours earlier, a small balanced snack about an hour before your workout could make it immensely more effective.

If you’re undertaking serious training in preparation for a specific event such as a triathlon or a marathon, your nutrient timing needs to be far more precise if you want to enhance performance and reduce the risk of injury. A carb-rich pre-training meal roughly 2 hours before you start will make sure that you’re not running on empty, and making the most of the 45-minute recovery window after intense training is crucial. This is when your muscles are the most susceptible and will benefit most from the nutrients. A balanced protein-carb drink such as chocolate milk or ground hemp seed mixed into fruit juice will do the trick – there’s no need to spend a fortune on branded products. This can be followed by a recovery meal within 2 hours of training.

The right levels of protein and carbs at the right time can make all the difference for both the serious and the occasional athlete.

Using Sports Drinks, Powders and Other Concoctions to Enhance Performance

Sports products can be relevant if you’re exercising for hours at a time at an extremely intense level, but you really don’t need them if you’re working out for about an hour. Gels and sports drinks are full of sugar, with good reason, as they can be very helpful for endurance athletes who need that level of glucose. Not so good though if your weekly workout is designed to keep you in good shape, as excess sugar will go straight to your waistline, defeating the purpose of all that effort. At best you’ll just burn off what you ingest, which leaves you exactly where you started before the workout.

A note of caution: a number of these products also contain a range of additives, stabilisers and sweeteners, which may actually end up slowing down your performance, as these will go straight to the liver for processing, diverting its attention from energy metabolism at a crucial time. Make sure you know exactly what you’re putting into your body and why, how or if it might help

Insufficient hydration

Just 5% dehydration can result in 15-20% loss of energy. That’s a significant amount if you’re undertaking intense training and have a specific performance goal in mind. The best way to assess how much water you should be drinking during intense and lengthy training sessions is to weigh yourself naked before and after a typical session. For each pound (0.45kg) of weight loss through heavy sweating, you need to be taking in about 450ml of water.

For example, if you drank 200ml of water during the session and lost 2lb (0.90kg), you would need to factor in an extra 900ml of water, spread across the session, to ensure proper hydration.

More standard exercise such as basic gym work or classes doesn’t require such a technical approach. Once simple way to monitor hydration levels is to keep an eye on the colour of your urine: you should be aiming for a pale straw colour most of the time. If it’s too dark, then that indicates dehydration. Completely clear suggests you may be over hydrating, which can affect mineral balance in the body.

While sports nutrition has some basic guidelines that will work in many cases, it is increasingly recognised that a personalised approach is the most effective way to get the balance right, which is why so many athletes seek specialist nutrition support. If you’re struggling to achieve the desired results from your training, you may benefit from a private consultation.

For more details click here or email

High Intensity Bodyweight Interval Circuit Blast & High Protein Breakfast

I moved to BodyWorksWest as a trainer three months ago today so thought it only right to mark the day with the launch of a brand new to BWW High Intensity Bodyweight Circuit class. This style of training is very much suited to my specialist way of training and conditioning clients.

During the class, members of BWW really got to challenge themselves and push their limits using a variety of different exercises and working at a very high intensity with short rest periods. This benefits members by keeping their heart rate increased which enables body fat burning for up to 48hrs after the class and helping increase speed while strengthening all the major muscle groups giving members that 'toned look'.

The feedback from all the members of the class was excellent as they really felt they had physically challenged themselves and knew they had been involved in a "proper workout" So it was only right that I laid on a high protein breakfast (including baked Turkey, egg whites, spinach and cheese muffins and a chocolate & fudge protein brownie for dessert) for members to devour straight after the class to aid with muscle repair and recovery.

If you require any further information or would like to train with me, please get in touch with the club. And don't leave it too late to book with reception for next Wednesdays class as spaces are very limited and you never know what surprise is on the menu for next week... wink

Have a great bank holiday and see you soon. Raheem

Here are some sneak peaks at what's on offer in Raheem's HIIT class!!


Raheem Dauda - BWW Personal Trainer

To find out more about Raheem or his HIIT class which runs every Wednesday at the club from 8.00am, please contact Lewis at

Six Pack Abs Vs Core

“Look at that guy with the great abs... he must have amazing core strength!"

Have you ever heard that? I know I have as a trainer. That same guy couldn’t hold a plank let alone do any core exercise correctly. This is because of an amazing diet, possibly combined with great genetics. But mostly the diet part.

Your rectus abdominus, or “six pack” pretty much looks like that without doing much work. The muscle has the appearance of six segments in order to allow proper motor function during flexion of the spine. yet to see this shaped muscle, takes a very clean diet along with proper exercise programming. I know this is going to be a surprise for most of you because until the day I am not able to PT any more, we will always be fed TV commercials and endless magazine articles on fancy equipment and Ab exercise routines. DON'T WASTE YOU'RE TIME AND MONEY! The appearance of the six pack is only there with the disappearance of the fatty tissue around it.

Good news!! Your six pack abs are there, it’s just hiding under a layer of fat!

So why bother training you're core? 

 As an experienced trainer I know one thing to be certain; You want those six pack abs? You gotta move more and eat better.

'You're output should be greater then you're input'

Developing a strong core will allow you to have the best body to work with. This means we should be more concerned about longevity in the gym and make our body as solid and injury resistant as possible. This will allow us to stay on that road to goal achievement as safe as possible and as long as needed.

There are so many ways to activate the core that go well beyond the crunch and sit-up. And for your information those crunches are probably making you look fatter… Seriously! go stand sideways in a mirror. Look at the mirror, now stick your butt out and belly out at the same time. Looks funny? Well Ab crunches in general, are going to make you look more like that than the nice flat look you were going for. I promise!

Core conditioning improves posture, which contributes to a trimmer appearance increasing our confidence and may even grow us an extra inch or two. Developing core muscle strength will also boost the effectiveness of workouts and reduce the risk of injuries that sideline our efforts to stay in shape.

'Imagine your body like a strong oak tree' You're head as the bush, you're arms as the branches and legs as the roots.'

If you have ever had physical therapy to treat low back pain, you’re probably familiar with the concept of strengthening the core — the muscles in the abdomen, lower back, and pelvis that lie roughly between the rib cage and the hips 'Think of a ladies corset'. The strength and coordination of these muscles is important not only for sports and fitness routines but also for daily life — for example, reaching up to a cupboard, lifting a child, or putting a seat belt on.

Our problem is we've become LAZY! Don't get angry.. Not always intentionally! but also because of work commitments,driving and comfy sofas etc.

When we work our core muscles this stabilises the spine and will help create a firm base of support for almost every movement.

In my fitness experience I have trained with some big guys, most of them with a massive set of legs. But when they put that loaded bar on their back and try to squat a ridiculous amount of weight you can actually see their lower back wanting to snap! This causes them to lean too far forward likely hurting themselves and potentially causing permanent damage.

'You cannot fire a cannonball from a canoe'

Exercises that strengthen abdominal and other core muscles should be part of an overall fitness plan at least three to five times a week.

To be safe and effective, core muscle strengthening exercises require proper alignment and progression from one type of exercise to another — adjusted to your body and fitness level. So you may want to ask my self or one of the other fitness professionals for help in planning a program for you.

Start by learning how to “draw in”. Here’s what you do:

Sitting, standing, or lying on your back, gently but firmly tighten the abdominal muscles, drawing the navel in toward the small of the back. The tailbone should be slightly tucked. (BRACE) the muscles, as if you were preparing to take a punch in the stomach. Practice holding this position for 10 seconds at a time while breathing normally. Once you get the hang of drawing in, start doing some core exercises.

Below are just a few exercises that can help strengthen core muscles. Concentrate on performing the exercises correctly, not on the number of repetitions or how quickly you can do them. And don’t forget to breathe!


Lie stomach-down on a mat, resting on your forearms. Tighten your abdominal muscles, and press up so you’re balanced on your toes and elbows. Don’t let your hips sag or stick up: your body should be in a straight line from head to heels. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds; then lower and repeat a few more times. Work up to holding the plank position for 60 seconds.


Lie flat on the floor on your back. Place your fingertips at the back of your head. Tighten your abdominal muscles, bring your knees up to a 45-degree angle, and lift your shoulder blades off the ground. Turn your upper body to the left, bringing the right elbow toward the left knee and extending your right leg. Switch sides, bringing the left elbow toward the right knee. Continue this pedalling motion, slowly, for a total of 12 to 16 repetitions. Rest and repeat. Avoid pulling on the neck.

Stability ball - Arm and leg raise on the ball

Because the ball is intrinsically unstable, core muscle activity is greater when you perform certain exercises on it than when you perform the same exercises on a stable surface.

Lie over the ball stomach down, so that your hips are on top of it and your legs are straight. Toes and fingers should comfortably reach the floor. Tighten your stomach muscles, then lift your right arm and left leg. Hold for five seconds; rest a moment; then repeat with the left arm and right leg. Do eight to 12 repetitions.

Implementing even these basic exercises into your training schedule on a routine basis, will go some way to helping prevent injury, increasing full body strength, and as mentioned, helping you attain that much desired 6 pack!!

Look out for more articles on core training where we'll take you through more advanced coe Workouts for those who have already mastered the basic moves.

Michael Fireman - Personal Trainer at BodyWorksWest

If you would like more info with regards to Michael, or the Personal Training service we offer at BodyWorksWest, please contact Lewis at

The mindful personal trainer part 1 (postural analysis of kyphosis)

Being a Personal Trainer is not just about prescribing any exercise you can think of, throwing them into a workout just because they are of great difficulty and trying to exhaust your client. There is far more to it than that. I believe that every training plan should have a purpose, therefore every training session should have a purpose and as a result, every exercise in every session should have a purpose. Especially when you have been unfortunate enough to have picked up an injury. Being a Personal Trainer is not just a job for me, it is a profession and one which I am greatly passionate about. When I see a new member or client for the first time I perform a general health screening and consultation as standard, I listen to their goals, analyse their mobility, their posture and then set targets. A mindful trainer should be a master at conducting training schedules that will not only achieve their client’s personal goals but also give them what they need. As a Personal Trainer I am constantly analysing clients' progress, in particular posture and mobility. These are two markers of health are extremely important to monitor as bad posture and poor mobility almost always result in incorrect technique, which inevitably will amount to an injury of some degree. We'll take a look at some of the most common postural imbalances that occur in the spine and that both Physiotherapist and Personal Trainers regularly encounter. As you can see from the image above there are three common postural imbalances in the spine with the image furthest left being the anatomically correct position for the human spinal column. For the purpose of this article, we will solely be focusing on Kyphosis, often referred to as (hunch back) this postural imbalance is amongst the most common and one of the easiest to spot. You will notice:
  •  Hunched upper back
  •  Head tilted forward and down towards the ground
  •  Internally rotated shoulders
  • General forward tilt when walking
  • Slouch when seated (not through choice)


Kyphosis occurs in the Thoracic region of the spine or mid section of the spine. The Spine has four sections and with it, four natural curves; The Cervical, Thoracic, Lumbar and Sacrum. The second section, the Thoracic region of the spinal column, is the largest of the four and consists of 12 vertebrae. An excessive curvature of this section of the spine is the condition referred to as Thoracic Kyphosis, with the general public often calling it a hunched back.
kyphosis kyphosiskyphosis  kyphosis
This condition for most people is very easy to spot, however here is a quick and easy method that I have often used to actively measure an individuals' degree of Kyphosis. It’s a method I use to visually and statistically highlight improvements in posture. I call it the legs up test. You will need;
  • A clear matted area
  • A wall clear of plug sockets and other obstacles
  • A Tape measure or ruler
  • And if possible a camera to take a picture.
  • Last but most importantly you will need a friend to take two measurements

Fig 3- The Legs up test

  • Lay on your back with your bottom as close to the wall as possible
  • Straighten your legs all the while keeping your bottom and back on the floor
  • Keeping your legs straight, place both palms face down and relaxed on your belly button
  • From here ask your friend to measure the distance from the floor to the top outside of both left and right shoulders.
  • If possible take a picture for visual reference (date each image so you can notice difference)
Please be sure to make a note of the shoulder measurements so that you can refer to them at a later time.

Breakfast; The most important meal of the day?

You often hear said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But is this true? Being the good skeptic that I am I never take anything as being fact unless there is good evidence and a recent study provides us with some in relation to the breakfast question.  

The  study in question looked at 467 teenagers who were asked to fill out a food frequency questionnaire and keep a 7-day food journal. Both  were verified by the parents and registered dietitians for accuracy. Body mass index was calculated for each subject and percentage body fat was measured.  About 16% of subjects were overweight and 7% obese. Interestingly it was observed that the overweight and obese subjects tended to eat a smaller proportion of daily calories at breakfast and also reported being hungrier.

It was also observed that those who ate a "full" breakfast had an average daily intake of 350 fewer calories per day than those who did not. A "full" breakfast was deemed as providing 25 percent of the day's total calories and consisting of at least four food groups.

The researchers further found the subjects who typically ate a "full" breakfast consumed more healthy monounsaturated fats and fiber and less saturated fats and cholesterol each day than those who did not eat a "full" breakfast

So there you have it, it may indeed be a good idea to breakfast like a king. You will tend to eat healthier through out the rest of the day and in the long run it shouldn't have an impact on your weight.


Breakfast quality and its relationship to the prevalence of overweight and obesity in adolescents. Nutricon Hospitalaria, 2011, 26 (5) 

Sunday 19th Jan 10AM: Olympic and World Champs group cycling session

Get your cycling shorts on and take this opportunity to relive the British Cycling Glory of 2011 & 2012 and have a great workout at the same time.

Ride with our cycling gold medalists in a unique 60 minute audio visual experience that's not to be missed.

On the track you’ll take part in the elimination race, the sprints, the keirin and the team pursuits with GB gold medalists.

To finish you’ll ride the last 5km of the 2011 cycling World Championship Road Race and follow Mark Cavendish to a glorious victory on the line.

Dont miss out!

New Class – Athletic Conditioning

Athletic conditioning is a new class specially designed  to enhance athletic performance. Classes will focus on:

Speed Agility Explosive power Plyometrics Coordination & Reaction training Olympic style weight lifting and many other sports specific training methods.

Whether you play Sunday league football, the odd tennis game, or would just like to add something different to your routine this class is for anyone that’s willing to try.

Maximum 6 people per class, please  register at reception.