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Post-prep analysis – why it’s important

6 Sep

A really important thing about preparing for a competition is analysing what you did afterwards. If you don’t know what you did, how will you be able to make positive changes for the future? While you’re dieting, it’s hard to think objectively about a) what you’re doing and b) how you look. If you leave it too long, you’ll completely forget all the minute details. So, with that in mind, I did my own photo comparisons along with having a look at my diet at each stage. I made the comparisons from 7 weeks out (because prior to that it was quite hard to see anything as I was still carrying a lot of bodyfat).

Always try to take photos in the same light/bikini. This is the hardest thing of all to do. The seasons obviously change, and so lighting at the same point in the day weeks apart can look completely different. You can see below my photos suffer from the ‘lighting’ effect.

2012 comparison Front

As a female, the tell-tale comparison pics are always from the back. This isn’t the same for every woman, but I carry my fat on my butt so if I keep an eye on that, I’ll know if I’m making progress. Also, always try to stand the same! See below for an example of how NOT to do this:

2012 Back comparison

At 7 weeks out, my hips were noticeably wider from the front, and from the back my butt was small, but soft. My back had started to show leanness.
At 5 weeks out my hips were narrower, my Sartorius had started to come through, my hips weren’t quite so pointy and my butt had more shape but was still soft.
At 3 weeks out (I’d had a big slip-up between weeks 5 and 3 to the point where I wanted to pull out of the show), from the front I look softer and smaller, from the back I found some Hamstring but added some size onto my butt (note this could be the slightly different camera angle – we were having lighting problems that day).
At 1 week out I was happier from the front, but the lower carbs and diet slip had taken their toll from the back and my legs and butt were softer.

Looking into the future, if I competed again, I’d go back and look at my diet from the 5 week mark and see what I’d changed and compare this to the photos and decide what to do moving forwards. I learnt a few things from my prep:

  • I have to be really stable in work to be able to prep properly. I was working two jobs this year and doing a lot of travelling locally and I found it really tough.
  • Whilst I stayed high carb throughout my diet, and it allowed me to train more intensely and gave me bags of energy; I was perhaps a little too enthusiastic with this and need to accept that there does come a time where I do need to drop my carbs to make further progress with leanness.
  • Even though I prefer to train first thing in the morning, this isn’t feasible to get enough cardio in. For me, 20mins wasn’t really cutting it and I needed to give myself time to do more.
  • Cheat meals do not work wonders for the metabolism if you have them week in week out. This is the first year I’ve had a weekly cheat, and although it pains me to say it because I like my food, but I’ll never do this again.

I hope some of my thoughts have helped you think about how analysing your prep can help you for the future. There’s one thing about bodybuilding and that’s that it’s always a learning curve!

Play hard, train harder,


Blowing my own trumpet…

23 Aug

It’s not often I give myself a pat on the back, but I achieved something I’m so proud of, after such a long time waiting, I had to share it with you.

I’ve been battling with a 100kg Deadlift for a while now. It used to not be a big deal back in the day, but for the past year, it’s been harder and harder to even get a single rep out at that weight. It was starting to consume me a little bit to the point of obsession!

I recently switched to Sumo Deadlifts. These aren’t great for building a good bodybuilding Back, but as I’m looking to lift the most weight possible for a single repetition, I thought I’d give Sumo a try. A Sumo Deadlift is different because you stand a lot wider, think Sumo wrestler and you’re getting close. The wider stance means less distance for the bar to travel in order to complete a rep. In Powerlifting Sumo is perfectly legal so I thought ‘Why not?’ Easier? Yes possibly, but the number was really starting to get to me and I’d do anything to achieve my goal.

I planned my workout yesterday to end on a 100kg single. I WAS going to do it, I was determined. Lo and behold, I did the following:

40kgs 10 reps (warm up)
60kgs 8 reps (warm up)
80kgs 5 reps
90kgs 3 reps
100kgs 3 reps!!!!

How I managed it I’ll never know, but I can heave a huge sigh of relief and de-load now, ready for my next battle. The even better thing is, I’ve only been working without wraps for 8 weeks, and my grip totally witheld the weight!

What have you achieved this week? What are you proud of? Come get your pat on the back here!

Play hard, train harder,

The patient tree waiteth…

20 Aug

Sometimes there’s no better feeling than getting a new client. In this case I was grinning from ear to ear.

I has a consultation early this year with a couple. One side of the couple I clicked with immediately and we began working together pretty much straight away, and have been ever since. The client in question has dropped bodyfat in that time, and strength has gone through the roof – I’ve been very impressed.

The other side of the couple was a tougher nut to crack. We didn’t necessarily share the same training philosophies and she wasn’t entirely convinced I was the trainer for her. I understood completely – to get the most from your trainer, you need to have 100% belief in them.

I went back last week, and did an update for my client, I also saw my client’s partner, who suddenly said “I’d like to book in a session please” -I was grinning from ear to ear. Through seeing the progress made, she finally believes in me and we’re going to do a session together this Friday! I’m so excited, there aren’t many better feelings that can top that!

I hope you all have a great week, and remember, patience is a virtue.

Play hard, train harder,

The Day I climbed a Mountain Part Two

9 Aug

You may remember my previous blog post when I climbed Mount Snowdon earlier in the year. I always had it in my head I wanted to walk up Kilimanjaro, but my friend Diane wisely said “Why don’t you try Ben Nevis first, it’s a little less distance” (loving the understatement of the century there). So while I was still on a high, I booked the weekend away and that was my plan!

Early Saturday morning, I jetted off to Fort William with my partner in crime. We spent Saturday resting and planned to do the walk on Sunday. Sunday arrived in true Scottish fashion – wet.

We took a walk to the base of the mountain, it took 30minutes and by the time we arrived, I discovered that my walking boots weren’t waterproof after all. Then disappointingly sacked the walk and headed back into town to buy waterproofer.

Soggy Sunday

By Monday the heavens were on our side. We set off at 8am and got to the base at 8.30am. As soon as we stepped foot over the bridge to start the walk we could joke that we’d already gone further than the previous day! The initial walk wasn’t as bad as Snowdon – there was no ridiculously steep base. The terrain however, was very different. A lot more stones to step up onto, as opposed to just steep hills. I thus re-named the mountain “Ben Nevis – Britain’s Largest Neverending Stairmaster”. After an hour we stopped for a break. I was actually really exhausted! I confessed to my walking partner that I didn’t expect to get all the way to the top (I didn’t expect her to get there either, as she’s a smoker) but that I’d go as far as I could. The problem with Nevis is, it’s hard to stop with all the midgies around. Naomi was getting eaten alive by them so everytime I wanted to stop, I felt guilty because she was surrounded by them. Thus I didn’t stop as much as I wanted to/should have.

We battled on for another hour. At the two hour mark, we were over halfway up. I was convinced we’d be up by the three-hour mark and that thought kept me going. By the time we got to three hours I’d lost the will to live. My right knee was throbbing and my feet were burning. I was worried about making it back down again. I said I’d get to Five Finger Gully, near the peak, and assess from there. Getting to there should’ve been a relief, but when we spotted some guys from our hostel on their way back down and asked them how far it was, they indicated half an hour but warned us it was the toughest part of the walk. I literally got about 5-minutes further and lost my will completely. I told Naomi I’d be happy to wait for her to finish the walk and come back down to where I was, but she wouldn’t go it alone so I got annoyed and carried on walking. I wouldn’t let her miss her experience because I couldn’t hack it! So I limped up, slowly, in silence.

After an hour…

We made it!

View from the peak – the cloud cover was so poor you can’t even see the bottom!













I can’t quite believe I made it. I’m so grateful to Naomi for dragging me up that last part – I know I wouldn’t have regretted not making it up, as the views weren’t breath-taking due to the weather. BUT I’m so so pleased that Naomi had the inner strength to stick to her convictions and say we were either both going up or neither. That’s what a true walking partner is all about.

Luckily for us, the weather on the way down improved, and we were able to catch glimpses of the spectacular views.

View over Glen Nevis

So will I now go on to achieve my dream of walking up Mount Kilimanjaro? Well as Ben Nevis is 1,344m high, and Kilimanjaro is approximately 5,892m – in a word? NEVER!

Play hard, train harder,


Guest blog! How to train for a Half Marathon

19 Jul

I thought this guest blog might be a great idea, as remember when I did my own Half Marathon? Well I think there’s some sage advice in this article, and I don’t think my 5km runs are anything to be repeated if you really want to run a marathon.


A half marathon is a great long-distance race to run if you want to challenge yourself but aren’t yet ready for the punishing preparation of a marathon.

Even if the half marathon is not as intense as the full, more training and preparation are required to run it in order to avoid injury. Here are a few things that you can do to ensure that you make it across the finish line of your first half marathon injury-free:

Start from a Good Base

No matter what training plan you choose, you should not decide to run a half marathon if you have not already established a running routine. Before you ever begin training, you should already have a regular running schedule that includes at least 15 to 20 miles. Those miles should include both short runs and a weekly long run.

Once you have a solid history of running this weekly mileage — at least several months, if not a year — the you can begin your training for a half marathon.

Choose a Training Program

Even if you have been an established runner for some time and have logged many long runs, you still need to follow a training program for a long run like a half marathon. A good training program can help you pace yourself so that your body becomes accustomed to the demands of the longer runs but also has time to rest and repair itself to avoid injury.

A good training program will slowly build the distance of long runs while also providing adequate rest time.

Vary Practice Runs

Running long distances everyday on a treadmill won’t help you develop the way you need to for a half marathon. A good running program should include a variety of practice runs that include hill work, tempo work, and pace runs. This variety challenges your muscles and helps your body grow stronger.

Cross Train

Running uses a lot of different stabilizing muscles throughout your body. Engaging in a variety of exercises helps your muscles grow stronger and improves your overall fitness so that you can perform better on race day. Incorporate cross training into your program, including swimming, cycling, hiking, and other activities. You will strengthen your muscles, reducing your chances of injury on race day.

Practice Racing

Your training runs are very different from race-day conditions. Make sure you get your body accustomed to what it will be like to run on race day by signing up for a few practice races. These should not be full half marathons, but rather shorter races such as a 5K or 10K that follow similar courses. Try to select races that are run on the same type of path (asphalt or gravel) or that have some of the same conditions (lots of hills).

Get Adequate Nutrition

Some runners use a half marathon or other long race as an excuse to lose weight rather than to meet their fitness goals. In the process, they may start eating less while also running more. Make sure you are getting adequate nutrition and eating enough food to fuel your runs. You need to eat a balanced diet that is full of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates.

A deficit in your diet could compromise your muscles’ ability to perform optimally and could put unnecessary stress on your body, leading to injury.

Running a half marathon is a great accomplishment. However, proper training and preparation is required to make sure you finish the race as healthy as you started it. Your race t-shirt should be the only souvenir you bring home from the race — not an injured hip or a pulled hamstring.

Have you run a half marathon? How did you train? Did you suffer an injury? Tell us about your experiences in the comments!

Catie Keeler is the primary researcher and writer for Her most recent accomplishments include graduating from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill with a degree in business and communications. Her current focus for the site involves 30 year fixed and mortgage rates calculator.

Play hard, train harder,


Protein pancakes recipe

29 Jun

I’m always looking out for new recipes so when I won a tub of AthletEQ in Berry flavour at the BNBF Southern, I thought I’d see if I could make some lush blueberry pancakes.

This version of AthletEQ is a soya-based protein so great for vegans. It also has freeze-dried berries in it too so is a great source of anti-oxidants!

Flick’s EQ Pancakes (makes 2 servings)

2 scoops AthletEQ protein in Berry flavour
50g oats
3 egg whites
Tbs PB2 Peanut Butter powder (although ordinary peanut butter will work just fine!)
25ml water
Tsp Coconut Oil (for cooking – again, a normal spray oil will also work fine)

Again, nice and easy, blitz all products in a blender (except coconut oil).
Heat frying pan on high heat and add coconut oil. Reduce heat to stop oil burning.
Pour in batter and flip after 1 minute.
Voila! I made 4 pancakes from this mix.

Macronutrients (per serving)
Carbohydrates 19g
Protein 21g
Fat 5.5g

These do come out a funny purple/brown colour, but don’t be deterred, they’re yummy! The blueberry protein really retains its flavour! You could mix some PB2 into a thin paste and then drizzle this over the warm pancakes – let me know if you do!

Play hard, train harder,

Quick recipe

28 Jun

Before I write up my report from the BNBF Southern (I came 2nd by the way); I just wanted to share a quick and great idea.
I LOVE Hummous, but the macros don’t suit my diet (not enough protein). So, I came up with a quick easy way to increase the protein content – add in Natural Whey protein!

Flick’s Hummous recipe (makes 3 servings)
265g chickpeas (drained weight) = 1 tin
3 tsp tahini
3 cloves of garlic
50ml water
3 tbs lemon juice
1/2 scoop natural whey protein

Put everything except water in blender and mix. Add water slowly until desired consistency is reached.

Macronutrients (per serving):
Carbohydrates – 20g
Protein – 10g
Fat 5.5g

You could add in more whey protein to increase protein a little more.

That’s my tip of the day! Watch out of my Vegetarian Blueberry Pancakes next!

Play hard, train harder,