Tracy Anderson’s New Infomercial

You’ve read those Men’s magazines, tried the workouts and experimented with the recipes but at the end of the day, the pot of meat and veg bubbling over on the stove and your muscles sore, you’ve decided that it just isn’t for you.

There’s nothing worse than growing big, bulky, unsightly muscles that force you to tailor every single piece of clothing that you buy.

And the eating! Nobody can be bothered eating that much- chicken and broccoli diets are just so 20th century.

But don’t think I’ve forgotten about you women. We all know that exercising will make you big and bulky; there are even stories of women growing Adams apples as they APPROACH the Squat rack.

You, however, want to be so slim that when you turn sideways, you disappear, along with your womanly curves, so that you can fit into your thirteen-year-old daughter’s clothes!

If any of this sounds like you, and I bet you it does, then do I have the workout for you!

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The conversation has to be had… ice cream>a six pack any day

We are under attack from a bombardement of images depicting the female fitness douche bag, sweaty  with her abs on full display post-workout, photographed underneath the perfect light of the gym as she basks in the affection of those ‘creepers’ on Instagram, hash tagging her pictures with  #everybodylookatmeplease and #lookatmyeatingdisorder, and her male counterpart, the ripped guy at the gym who spends 45 minutes of a 70 minute workout posing and posting images to Instagram with tags such as #ihaveabsbutnopersonality and #whoneedsbrainswhenihavebiceps.

As a society, the world has an obsession with the fit, and with it, the fanatical. Through social media we are consistently bombarded either with the images described above or with others telling us how fat we are.

Civilisation seems to have lost the middle ground, but it is this middle ground that is the most awesomest place to be in.

What it really means to have six pack abs in todays world and why it isn’t worth it

The fitness industry is a place of extremes, and obtaining, and maintaining, the elusive six pack is no different.

We perceive those whose abs can be used to grate cheese as an embodiment of the most positive aspects of the human race: dedication, perseverance, commitment, grit, and toughness. These are the people we aspire to be, strive towards and hope to one day, if we are lucky, emulate.

Women drool over men with the mythical ‘V’ tapered torse, and men pant when they see the curved outlines of a woman’s contoured belly.

But what we, as innocent and naive onlookers, don’t see is the self-sacrifice, the health issues, the almost obsessive obsession, the self-flagellation and pressure, both intrinsic and social, that having a ripped midsection brings.

Forgetting the chosen few who seem to be able to eat nothing but donuts and pizza yet still have a swole stomach, obtaining and maintaining a six pack of drool-worthy abdominals requires you to meticulously count calories and operate within a calorie deficit.

Women boast about their intense, strenuous cardio and weight sessions, talking about how they’ve eaten nothing but chicken breasts and green vegetables in pursuit of their #makethehatersjealousevenifitkillsme bodies.

However, performing such strenuous bouts of exercise in a calorie deficit can lead to serious health implications for women, such as: disruption of menstrual cycle, osteopenia, osteoporosis, and most harrowing, infertility(1).

Yes, some women are putting their quest for abs above their ability to one day give birth and be a parent.

Just let that sink in for a bit.

They are choosing to have abs over children.

And what of those women who make a living out of having abs, and stepping on stage in a sequin bikini and stripper heels, enough fake tan slathered on their body to make Snooki look pale?

The vast majority of them ravage their metabolism in pursuit of the perfect body, leading to metabolic damage and ‘rebounding’, sometimes adding up to 10-15 kilos of fat within a week post-competition.

Us men do not get off so easily either. Whilst it is true, men can survive with less body fat than women, those who strive to maintain single digit body fat year round can suffer from erectile dysfunction, osteoporosis, and low testosterone levels, leading to an inhibited sex drive.

All this says nothing of the psychological effects leanness causes.

From turning down dinner invitations with friends because you can’t find something on the menu that is ‘clean’ or that can be plugged into a calorie counter, to the self-deprecating abuse and post-consumption depression some people feel after consuming a ‘cheat’ meal or accidentally eating too many calories one day, none of this is normal, yet, because of our obsession with abdominal muscles, it is accepted as being ‘hardcore’ and a way to ‘love yourself’.

My four pack abs, tubs of Ben ‘n’ Jerry’s and ability to eat a family size pizza in one sitting make me happy… and that’s all that matters.

Admittedly, there was a time when I brought into the hype, thinking that, because everyone knew I was into health and fitness, having a six pack was naturally expected of me.

However, over time I’ve discovered three things:

1) I hate cardio. Seriously, it sucks.
2) I love ice cream, and not just eating it once a week because I’m rewarding myself for eating nothing but chicken breasts and broccoli for 6 days straight, 92 weeks in a row but eating it because it tastes damned awesome and I want it.
3) Food is awesome, and there’s too much great stuff out there to operate in a calorie deficit.

Unfortunately for me, these three confounding factors have conspired against me and, over time, I’ve come to accept that I probably won’t ever have that elusive six pack that we are told is the holy grail of dedication and health.

It’s ok though because, even though I count calories and plan my meals on the weekend, I still eat whatever the hell I want when I’m out with friends, I don’t stress over blowing my caloric intake one day, I don’t engage with negative self-talk over my lack of a ‘perfect’ body, and, most importantly, I eat ice cream and I’m still healthy.

For most of my adult life, I’ve sat somewhere between 12-14% body fat, which is well within the healthy range for a 20-29 year old male.

In fact, men should aim to maintain somewhere between 15-20% body fat over the course of their lifetime for optimal health, with 3% of this being essential fats used for maintenance of life and reproductive systems, and women should aspire to between 20-25% body fat over the course of their lifetime with 13% of this being essential fats (2).

And you know all those super fit and healthy people we see on Facebook, Instagram and on the media, well, there is little evidence of any health benefits when women drop below 14% body fat and men below 8%, further fuelling the fire that these bodies are more the embodiment of our societal obsession with leanness equalling health than actual embodiments of healthy individuals.

Final thoughts and a message to all the people who might respond with a “well, he’s just pissed he doesn’t look like us, hater!” 

Sit back and consider this: life is awesome.

It is filled with countless new adventures, foods to try, and conversations to have that have nothing to do with fitness, exercise or abs and, whilst men should stay below 25% body fat, and women below 30%, to decrease their risk of obesity related illness(3), life is really too short to spend time obsessing over something nobody really cares about anyway.

Unfortunately, the fitness douche has made it seem #hardcore and normal to pursue a devot lifestyle, where one lives almost like a Tibetan monk, not in pursuit of inner peace and tranquility, but instead enduring self-flagellation and harsh dietary restrictions in pursuit of a vain commodity that is fleeting in it’s appearance but crippling in its pursuit of.

So yes, some of you can call me a ‘hater’, but if I can keep my four pack and still eat tubs of Ben ‘n’ Jerry’s without having to wear a cilice to atone for my dietary sins, have dinner with friends and not pull out my calorie counter app and have a child someday (seriously, why people would still want to be super lean after learning that I still have no idea!), then you can keep your six pack abs, brittle bones and impaired hormonal functions, Limpy.

(Okay, that was harsh. I apologise.)

(1) The effects of intense exercise on the female reproductive system. M.P Warren & N.E Perlroth. Journal of Endocrinology, 2001. July; 170(1):3-11
(3) Implications of high body fat percentage on cardiometabolic risk in middle-aged, healthy, normal-weight adults. JY Kim, SH Han, BM Yang. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2013 Aug;21(8):1571-7. doi: 10.1002/oby.20020. Epub 2013 Apr 9.

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Since when was ‘pain’ an acceptable outcome in the fitness (Crossfit) industry

You aren’t ‘going to war’, or entering ‘beast mode’. You don’t need to ‘suck it up now’, you can eat junk food every now and then, if people are calling you obsessed then you may just be and if ‘you’re already in pain’ then you should probably just stop.

As the fitness industry continues to evolve into a sprawling online community, the culture of ‘pain’ is becoming more and more prevalent.

Whereas logic would dictate that, once injured you stop exercising, we are consistently being bombarded with people telling us that we should persevere and push through the pain in order to reap the life affirming results.

And what for?

We all act like professional athletes, without salaries, fans, agents, insurance policies or anything that matters.

The dirty little secret every one seems to forget is that nobody cares if you hoisted more weight for more reps, or completed a WOD in less time than expected.

You may get a high five, or a moment of internet stardom as the video of you painstakingly completing  ‘Fran’ with a torn rotator cuff canvasses the internet, but the next day you’ll still need to wake up and get dressed, which may be hard with that torn rotator cuff, and go to work where they won’t give a damn if you hurt yourself exercising if you can’t get those reports on Johnson’s desk by 10am.

(Yes, every boss in the history of business is called Johnson… deal with it.)

When LeBron James played in the Capital Classic All-Star game in 2003, as a High School student, he was insured for $10 million dollars.

Even if his knee exploded, forcing him to become a dentist instead of a future Hall of Fame NBA player, he would still have $10 million dollars sitting in the bank.

If you blew out your knee completing Cindy, or Elizabeth, your gym wouldn’t give you a dime. Work would tolerate your absence for a time, but once your sick leave dissipates you’ll either need to limp back into work, or suffer unemployment.

They won’t care that you did it completing an epic Chelsea, smashing your PB before realising your tibia was protruding from your shin.

A recent study(1) of 132 people showed that Crossfitters are actually no more prone to injury than Olympic weight lifters, Power Lifters and Gymnastics, with an injury occurring in approximately 74% of participants, 7% of those requiring surgical intervention.

I would expect that if this study was extrapolated, accounting for those Crossfitters who train, headphones blaring, in their own commercial gym, the rate of injury would increase due to the culture of train through the pain that the fitness movement perpetuates.

Kevin Oger now finds himself in the most awful of predicaments.

As a Crossfit coach and an amateur competitor, he faces medical bills that may reach up into the hundreds of thousands, the likely loss of his career, his livelihood and his passion, Crossfit, yet all that pales when we consider that he may never walk again.

And what for?

A better finishing time than the person next to him? A pseudo-macho display of his testicular fortitude? Because he didn’t want to ‘let down’ those people cheering him on? So that he could smash his chest at the end and declare himself the best in an event that nobody really cares about? Did he want the privilege of having his name inscribed on a board, only to be erased months later when his time was beaten? Or the right to boast about it on social media so a few people could ‘like’ his post?

You aren’t a pro athlete, so stop acting like it

Richard Froning could perform a handstand pushup, whilst sculling a beer, beating you in a game of darts and doing a leg press all at the same time.

If he retired tomorrow, due to injury or disinterest, he could also live comfortably for the remainder of his life thanks to sponsorship deals, prize winnings and a coaching career that would no doubt be booming.

LeBron James could blow out his knee tomorrow and have all the athleticism of Charles Barkley when he gets schooled by those kids in Space Jam when the Monstars steal his basketball skillz, and still his children’s children would never have to work again.

At the end of March, Kevin Ware, a basketball player at the University of Louisville, suffered what may be the most horrific injury in college basketball history as his shin bone broke the skin, forcing paramedics to cover it with a blanket and players, coaches and spectators started throwing up at the sight of the injury.

He was uninsured, as was Kevin Oger, and millions of other ‘athletes’ who are enduring injuries for the sake of ‘their sport’, and now will need to live with the realisation that his pro career will never happen.

A final thought

You’re standing in your backyard, your young child/nephew/niece/grandchild/god child/cousin/random kid from next door that sneaks into your yard to eat the apricots off your tree is looking up at you, all big and doe eyed, wanting to play ‘rocket ship’- you know, that game where you toss them up into the air, then catch them on the way down…

…but you can’t, because you just finished Angie and, midway through, you felt something tear in your lower back but kept going anyway because you didn’t want to let down those people on social media who don’t really care anyway…

…so now you need to look at the kid’s innocent face, and say no…

… all because you needed to ‘go beast mode on that workout’ and ‘suck it up, so you could benefit later’.


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The Conversation That Has To Be Had About Crossfit

For years, the wider fitness industry has warned people of the dangers of Crossfit, and now an injury nobody would wish on anyone has occurred.

Kevin Ogar, a Crossfit trainer in Englewood, Colorado, was performing a 3 Rep Max Snatch when he lost control of the bar overhead.

He was unable to get out of way in time, resulting in the bar damaging his T11 and T12 vertebrae, and severing his spinal cord.

Kevin currently has no feeling below his waist.

Weightlifting is dangerous. Whether it is Power lifting, Bodybuilding or Olympic lifting is irrelevant. There have been life-changing injuries in all of these sports, as well as deaths.

Crossfit is no different. One trainer even publicly came out, stating that clients should expect to get injured… it’s Crossfit.

How does Crossfit differ from all other types of lifting?

Kevin was competing in a competition that consisted of nine workouts over the course of a weekend.

According to the OC Throwdown webpage, the nine WOD’s the athletes were to compete in over the course of the day included:

WOD 1: The NFL combine
WOD 2: Squat Cleans and Handstand Push ups with Handstand Walks
WOD 3: 3 Mile Run
WOD 4: Touch and Go Snatch, 3 Position Clean and Jerk, Back squat
WOD 5: Overhead Squat, Muscle Ups, Wall Balls, Double Unders, Deadlift, Power Snatch

WOD 4 is where Kevin’s traumatic and awful injury occurred.

When a Olympic Lifter competes, they perform six lifts, three snatches and three clean and jerks, resting plenty between each set and, whilst it would be foolish for me to say they never have accidents, these athletes are rested enough to notice when they are going to miss a lift, allowing them to get out of the way of the falling barbell.

The Strength Bracket WOD, where Kevin injured himself, is an example of poor, dangerous and stupid programming.

The Snatch, Clean and Jerk, and Back squat are all hip dominant movements that require a significant amount of gluteal activity, hip extension/flexion, and thoracic spine mobility and tax the posterior chain.

Combining these three movements with a heavy load, the Snatch was being performed at a 3 Rep Max, will not build, or test, strength as the name of the WOD would imply, instead testing muscular endurance and sheer will power and mental fortitude.

To test strength, one would have to allow the muscle to completely repair itself between lifts, ala Olympic or Power lifting.

The Internet, in particular the Crossfit community, are calling this a ‘freak accident’ and yet, when he look at the idiotic programming of the OC Throwdown, we can see that it was more an accident waiting to happen.

What can we learn from the accident? And where do we go, as a fitness community, from here?

As I nonchalantly scrolled through Facebook, a number of posts regarding the injury to Kevin Oger caught my attention and, whilst there does seem to be some Crossfit members who are using this as a reason to finally question the programming and intensity of Crossfit, most are closing their eyes to the dangers they have just witnessed, instead talking about how people should focus more on the dangers of sitting on your arse, or focusing on how the community has banded together to raise funds for Kevin, who was uninsured at the time of the accident.

Whilst I don’t want to discredit the community for the amazing fundraising efforts they have undertaken, I do hope that, if nothing else, this opens up an avenue for further discussion and criticism of Crossfit, it’s model and its intensity expectations.

Because, if it doesn’t, millions more people will continue to be duped into believing that this inane workout regime is a shortcut, and the holy grail, to six pack abs, a tight butt and a ripped physique without realising the real danger they are putting themselves in.

And no, saying that “injuries happen in every sport” is not an excuse for injuries happening in yours!

For more of my writing about nutrition, exercise and life in general, please head over to

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Surprisingly enough, building an awesome booty (for a guy or a girl) has very little to do with squats… FITSPO LIED!

Sara and I sat in a dark park, basked in the street lamps gloom, enveloped by the unseasonably cold November night. We have a tradition that, like many other traditions, came about through repetition.

Every Tuesday night for the past few months, we have eaten tacos. We call it Taco Tuesday. And I have what’s called the Taco dance that NATURALLY accompanies the event.

On this particular night, we decided to hunt down the Taco Truck and, as we sat in the park, me eating my four chicken tacos, and Sara her fish ones, I couldn’t help but notice the five guys that were loitering around, waiting impatiently for their dinner.

Whilst there was nothing out of the ordinary, five simply guys who were inconspicuously getting dinner on a Tuesday night, there was one thing that I couldn’t ignore- their arses were almost concave; their jeans hung loosely where their arses should be.

A trainer friend of mine says that the first thing he notices about a person, man or woman, is their gluteal development… aka their butt, and with good reason.

People with big butts are not only incapable of lying but they also have less lower back pain, better hip drive, and increased pulling power to pair with athletic endeavours such as strength training and sprinting, among others.

But then, how do you get a well developed gluteal maximus that will not only fill out your jeans, but also help you in the gym?

Building a ‘Sir Mix-a-lot booty’ that will help you lift more, reduce lower back pain and stop traffic

I’ll preface this by saying this is not a quad builder. If you desire is to become a Quadziller, terrorising small Japanese fishing towns with your ginormous quadriceps of doom then this isn’t for you. A program like that would require a larger emphasis on creating metabolic damage in the quads, as opposed to in the hamstrings and glutes.

Subsequently, this is a particularly good routine for a woman as it will ensure that the curves grow where you want them, instead of building quads that bust the seams of your jeans.

Barbell Glute Bridge        4×10                    60 seconds
DB Single Leg RDL         1×10, 1×15, 1×20  60 seconds
(If you can’t stand on one-leg, use a staggered stance, one foot behind the other for balance)
DB Reverse Lunge          3×12 (per leg)       60 seconds
Barbell Hip Thrusts       3×15                       45 seconds
KB Swings                       2×25                       30 seconds

The DB Reverse Lunges are the only quadricep movement in the program, but the step-back movement shifts the focus from the quadriceps to the hamstrings and glutes.

One word of warning, the goal, especially when you get to the Hip Thrusts, is to cause a glute cramp. If you’ve never experienced one of these before, be prepared, they are awful.

Try it for a month, once a week, and watch your curves grow.

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10 More Rules for Gym Goers

After the popularity of the last list, I couldn’t help but add another 10 ways you can get the best out of your gym experience.

Really, this is a great public service I’m providing.

Someone should give me a medal, or something.

1. Train in packs 

Animals hunt in packs or risk dying of starvation. Worst-case scenario, they become prey for another animal smart enough to hunt in a pack.

Are you stupid? Do you want your muscles to die?

Imagine how intimidating it is when four fifteen-year-old boys all approach a jacked bro and ask him, “how many more sets?”.

Don’t be left out in the cold, allowing your muscles to die a cold, shivering death; train in packs.

2. Use your mobile phone

It’s catabolic not to consistently update your Facebook status as you workout. Not Instagraming your pump is just stupid, I mean, why else would you workout if not to show people in real time?

And those phone calls that just have to be taken now? Take them and make other’s wait. If they wanted the machine you’re on, they should’ve beaten you to it.

3. Wear a jumper with the hood pulled on.

Wearing a hoodie confuses your muscles.

It’s a well-known fact that muscle confusion is the holy grail of growth. Therefore, wearing a hoodie means you’ll stimulate more muscle growth.

4. Eat during your workout.

Peanut butter should be your food of choice and consume 1 tablespoon between each set. This will not only hold off catabolism but also leave a really nice taste in your mouth.

5. Vomit in the squat rack.

As soon as you get to the gym, sprint for the squat rack.

Once there, proceed to vomit all over it. Similar to the way a dog urinates on a tree, claiming it as his own, this shows the rest of the gym that (a) the Squat Rack is now yours and (b) that you train hard.

After all, if you aren’t vomiting you aren’t training hard enough- so what’s more hard-core than throwing up BEFORE your workout?

N.B. Even if you don’t use the Squat Rack, I’d recommend still doing this to ensure the other gym members know whose boss.

6. Perform walking exercises in your gyms main walkway.

Performing Farmers Walks, Walking Lunges or any other walking exercise in your gyms main corridor.

Referring back to reason three, having to dodge everyone who is using the corridor for it’s main purpose- walking to and from the weights room- confuses your muscles, stimulating extra growth.

7. Hit on every female in the gym.

Gyms are like the wild and you’re the alpha primate.

When you exercise you become drenched in sweat. Sweat creates pheromones. Pheromones attract women.

Women will love you interrupting their workout to offer to ‘spot’ them or correct their ‘form’ and it isn’t uncommon for them to take you right there and then.

If they don’t, try offering them some of your peanut butter.

8. Exercise uncomfortably close to other people.

Some people advocate standing an arm’s length away from the next person.


Stand no more than half an arms length away from the complete stranger performing a max effort exercise.

This will intimidate him, or her, and you’ll instantly start emitting more pheromones, helping you to pick up the ladies.

9. Get a pump or your workout is a waste of time.

What? You don’t have chest pump at this very moment?

What are you doing then? Drop and do 100 push-ups!

10. If wearing Skins, never wear anything over them.

Not only will this help with #7, hitting on the ladies, but it will also ensure that people know you train your legs.

This is one other way to actually avoid training legs, whilst making it look like you do.

Wearing shorts over your skins will hid the precious muscle definition you’re trying to squeeze out with those tight lycra leggings.

There we have it, 10 more ways for you to get the best out of every workout. Now, where’s my damn medal?

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10 Rules for Gym Goers

Walking into a gym for the first time can be as nerve wracking and disgusting as walking into the Red Wedding midway through and asking Walder Frey for another cup of ale, only to realise what’s actually going on.

Whether it’s the grunting gorillas or the dolled up divas, finding your place in the iron colosseum can dissuade many a person from even starting.

Fear not though, I have compiled ten sure fire way to fit in to any gym. All you need do is follow these to the tee and you’ll be pirouetting your way through the gym in no time.

1. Never drink any water.

You’re trying to turn into a vascular beast whose arms could be mistaken for road maps on the way to Shredsville.

Water  bloats you and makes your body look soft and weak. Water is the enemy! Stay away from it at all costs.

2. Find the biggest, strongest guy and follow him around.

Walk straight up to that big, burly 150-kilogram guy about to Squat more weight than you move in an entire week and ask him what muscle that works.

He’ll immediately stop what he’s doing to help you.

The gym is all about caring and sharing, he’ll relish the opportunity to pass on his wisdom, even if it means he needs to stop his workout.

3. Always curl in front of the dumbbell rack.

How else are those biceps going to grow? Curling in front of the mirror ensures you’re working the right muscles. If you were standing, say, three feet back, how would you be able to see yourself exercising…

… You may as well just stay home.

Also, don’t forget to swing that back and tense the quads whilst curling- this turns the humble bicep curl into a quad builder as well.

*Useful note* When performing Shoulder exercises as well, the same rule applies.

4. Occupy more than one machine at a time.

So what if it’s peak hour and you don’t really NEED those two squat racks and the pair of 30kg dumbbells.

You may use them at some point of your forty-five minute workout. Keep them just in case; you don’t want to miss out on the possibility of a pump.

5. Never re-rack your weights.

Re-racking your weights takes approximately 2-5 minutes. That’s 2-5 minutes you could spend pumping more iron.

This one’s a no-brainer!

6. Wear tracksuit pants, regardless of weather.

 Monday should be chest and triceps. Tuesday is back and biceps. Thursday is shoulders and abs. Saturday is chest day again.

Wearing tracksuit pants to gym ensures you’ll never have to do legs ever again, which means you can spend more time working the muscles that matter- the upper body ones.

7. Carry Tupperware EVERYWHERE, even on the gym floor.

Not eating is catabolic.

Working out is catabolic.

Therefore, eating whilst working out is anabolic.

If you aren’t eating a 1kg tub of peanut butter, or two chicken breasts and a sweet potato, every work out, between sets, you’re doing something wrong.

8. Before attempting a lift, always screen out ‘lightweight’ or ‘ain’t nothing but a peanut’.

It worked for Ronnie Coleman, it’ll work for you.

9. Drop your weights.

Scientifically speaking, dropping weights, regardless of the weight, makes the exercise 200% more anabolic.

But never put them away. Refer to rule 5.

10. Tell everyone you’re on the juice, even though you aren’t.

Perception is the most important thing in the gym. You may not BE big, but, by telling people you’re juicing, they’ll at least THINK you’re big.

And what people think is infinitely more important.

Starting to exercise is difficult, and finding your place in the gym is even harder but, if you follow these ten quick tips you’ll rule the roost sooner than you know!


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