CONSISTENCY (WARNING: this word or a variation of it will be used a lot ?) . Being consistent is, in my opinion, key. Not just when it comes to training but with life in general. Here are a couple of reasons why it’s important.
1? Until you have done something for an extended period of time, in a consistent way, how will you know if it’s effective or not? Keeping things, in terms of training, consistent, allows you to figure out if what you’re doing is working. Only when you have been consistent and not had results, should you consider changing things up.
2? It will help you get into and keep in a routine. Getting up early to hit the gym isn’t always easy but the more you do it, the more CONSISTENT you are, the easier it becomes or even going to the gym straight from work after a long day can be tough but again, the more you do it, the more CONSISTENT you are, the easier it will become. Having a well established ‘life routine’, so the times you train and eat etc keeps you accountable.
As soon as consistency is consistently practiced I can guarantee the results will quickly follow. I have consistently trained and ate right for a consistent period and I believe this is the reason why I consistently surpass the goals I set and I believe YOU can do exactly the same!

Should you train to failure? by Mark Cosgrove, Master Trainer @

Training to failure is exactly what you think it means. Training a muscle to failure. Training it untill it can no longer perform what you’re ‘telling’ it to do. There is nothing left in the tank. You can’t finish the last rep, no matter how hard you’re pushing or how much your brain is saying ”moooove”, it’s just not happening. It’s painful, it burns, but, it feels so good! However, just because it feels good doesn’t actually mean it is good. Especially if it isn’t used correctly. There’s a time and a place to train a muscle to failure and hopefully I am going to help you understand how and when to implement it into a routine.There are benefits of doing so if you do use it correctly, however, there are also negatives, like anything, if not used correctly. Training to failure is miss used, over used or simply not used correctly by so many people. Some people think they have reached failure when in fact they have not. They have not reached momentary muscular failure. Most will use it daily and in some cases, on almost every exercise they perform. This is not optimal at all and can be very detrimental to your goals and progression towards them. If you are performing a certain exercise to failure on your very first set how are you supposed to perform another set??



So why should you train a muscle to failure?

Strength Gains
Lifting a heavy weight until you can no longer complete a full repetition for one, maybe two sets will generate a positive stimulus for gaining strength optimally and therefore producing the biggest muscle gain. Having a stronger muscle and lifting heavy weights will only lead to that muscle developing greater.

Training Frequency
Performing 1-2 exercises for a muscle group to failure is adequate. Your muscles will only benefit from a certain amount of stimulation. Once they reach that point anything else is just wasted energy. There is no need to perform another 4-5 exercises (when training to failure). Some people will train a muscle to failure then proceed to train that same muscle with 3-4 other exercises, for the same muscle group. This is not optimal and will only result in you requiring longer to recover.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that performing a couple of exercises to failure will take less time than performing lots of exercises. This can be beneficial because of the extra time you have outside the gym. Muscles are not gained in the gym. The stimulus is placed upon them there, the time away from the gym spent eating and recovering is where muscles are made. More time recovering is a win in my book!

Injury Prevention
This may seem like an odd one. You’re forcing your body to lift heavy weights to absolute failure, how can it prevent injury? Well it may not prevent injury because performing any movement over and over will lead to the joints and tendons becoming worn but it certainly reduces the risk. Lets look at the two people. One who performs 1-2 exercises and that’s it, and then the other who performs an additional 4-5. The volume of the latter is obviously greater, meaning more repetitions, more wear and tear on the joints resulting in a higher risk of injury.

You need to be both focused and mentally tough when pushing yourself to muscular failure, it’s not pleasant nor is it easy. It brings discomfort and pain. However, when you expose your muscles to this kind of torture it can be beneficial. Working a certain muscle group to failure will stress that muscle group to its max. Therefore it will bring about optimal development and growth. All of this of course if used correctly!

Training a muscle to failure… The negatives!

For all the positives of using this method there are also negatives of doing so. It can lead to a negative impact on performance with later sets of an exercise and other exercises there after in a session. It can also limit the ability of you recovering between sessions, another direct opposite to using it correctly. This is because it can be extremely taxing on your body. Not just to the specific muscle or muscle group you are training, but the whole body. Your central nervous system takes a battering and can lead to all kinds of problems. The negative effects on the central nervous system are not due to training to failure, but rather, under recovering. The microtrauma caused by training leads to an inflammatory response. If the body is not given enough recovery time between workouts, chronic inflammation results, and cytokines involved in inflammation start to act on the central nervous system causing the various symptoms associated with overtraining (under recovering).

In addition, there’s also the issue of safety. Going to failure on an exercise like tricep pushdowns or leg extensions is fairly safe, but failing (especially without a spotter) during a set of squats, barbell bench presses, or something similar is not a fun place to be as I am sure you can imagine. This could result in some serious injuries.

When to optimise training to failure –

There are a number of ways to incorporate training a muscle or muscle group to failure into your workout.

I use training to failure on my hypertrophy specific workouts. I try to go to failure on my last set of a given exercise. Here’s a quick example, if you have performed 3 sets of 10 squats, attempt as many repetitions as you can safely perform on your 4th set, I always do this with a spotter present, as I mentioned above, doing so without one could lead to some serious issues. It’s also worth pointing out that I would not train another exercise to failure thereafter in the same workout. I would carry on with the other moves as normal or as my program dictates. I also usually like to keep the weight the same through out all my sets, even with my last one if I am going to failure. However you could lower the weight slightly if needed. For example:

If you performed 2 sets of 8 on the barbell bench press at 80KG, decrease the weight by 10KGs and go to failure from there on your last set.

Choose only ONE exercise per workout to apply this method. It is not necessary to use training to failure on multiple exercises. It won’t do you any good. So for a leg workout you could use this method on Squats (if a spotter is present), if not, I would use it on the final set of leg press or even leg curls/extensions. It’s much safer. Remember, Squats, Bench Presses even Military Presses should only be performed to failure if a spotter is there. If not, chose a different exercise and use that.


Mark Cosgrove


1? Skipping meals will make you gain weight.
This isn’t true. What generally happens, when you skip a meal, is your eating pattern changes and you tend to overeat for that day which will cause you to gain weight. It’s not that your body goes into ‘starvation mode’, because of the skipped meal, that you gain weight. It’s because of the extra calories you will most likely consume because of that meal missed. We are creatures of habit and if we’re taken out of that habit it can lead to us doing things we wouldn’t normally do, i.e. Eating differently to the norm. I would suggest, if you skip a meal or miss one to just get back on track when you then get the time.
2? If you don’t train, your muscle turns to fat.
Muscle mass is created by putting your body in situations where it needs to grow to handle the stress put on it.  When you no longer train, the environment for your muscles changes and the need for them to ‘hang around’ will go away. You yourself wouldn’t hold on to something you no longer need! Without the constant stimulus, your muscle mass will decrease causing you to burn less calories. But, with all this happening your appetite will most likely stay the same. Your body won’t need the same amount of calories as before because it won’t need them. Thus causing you to gain fat whilst loosing your muscle. Muscle and fat are two totally different things!
3? Low intense exercise will help burn fat.
You may have heard of the “fat burning zone”. This is usually believed to take place when performing low-intensity workouts, however, studies have questioned whether this is the most optimal way to lose fat. Key word here is optimal. Basically it’s calories burned and eaten through the day that determines whether you lose body fat or not. If your goal is fat loss, it’s better to focus on how many calories you eat and burn, not on how you burn them. Having said that, if you are training, make sure it’s at a higher intensity, it will help you lose fat quicker than longer, low-intensity workouts. Your body experiences an ‘after burn’ effect. (I’ll be posting about this soon). This means that your body will be burning more calories after the workout than what it would normally.
4? Eating after 8pm, or, late at night will make you gain weight!
Eating late at night will not cause you to gain weight. Weight gain occurs when you consume more calories than you burn in a given day, whether that occurs in the middle of the day, the morning, or at night. The main reason people suggest to not eat at night is because it is more than likely you would be at home at this time and would have access to more calorie-dense foods and food in quantity, which can cause weight gain. So as long as you’re eating your calories with in your limits it does not matter if these are consumed at 3am, 11am or 9pm! Some people actually ‘carb load’. ,earning they will consume most of their daily carbs before they go to sleep. (Look out for my post on this!).
5? Avoid fats to lose fat.
Fats are essential! They play a crucial role in our diets. We need to consume them in order for us to maintain healthy hormone levels and make use of vitamins. Fat in our diet is necessary, without it, you’ll create a less than ideal environment for muscle growth and/or fat loss! A carbohydrate dominant and protein rich-only diet can make a fat-loss or gaining muscle goal almost impossible! Do not avoid! Make sure your diet is varied with fats. Nuts, coconut oil, oily fish! That kind of thing!




I frequently get asked the same question over and over again. What’s your body fat? or How much body fat do you have? I always reply with the same answer. I don’t know and more importantly, I don’t actually care. The fact of the matter is, I judge myself on how I look and feel. Each of us are different, we all carry body fat differently, my 7% body fat will look completely different to your 7% body fat. It really is just a number, just like the scale. ITS JUST A NUMBER.

Having said that, I would strongly recommend keeping track of both body fat and weight amongst other measurements. To answer the question, measurements ARE IMPORTANT. One measurement alone is not.

The reason is, data! Having all the data we can measure is a huge advantage when it comes to hitting goals. It allows us to track the TREND, the trend in our body fat or weight, the trend in our leg or arm measurements for example. This trend, over time, will allow you to accurately track your progress or lack of and help you make a better placed judgement when it comes to changing things. It’s another fantastic tool you should be using to ensure you’re on the right track.

So, stop obsessing over one measurement or one number alone and start looking at the bigger picture. There’s nothing wrong with being committed and dedicated to your goals but do it in a smart way.

PHAT? What it is and the benefits – MARK COSGROVE, MASTER TRAINER

PHAT stands for, Peripheral Heart Action Training. It was developed by Dr Arthur Steinhaus in the 1940’s. It is based around working muscle groups of different extremities in order to avoid the build up of lactic acid and allow the blood to constantly circulate to each muscle group through out the entire workout. This will allow you to train harder because your blood will be pumped to extreme ends of your body meaning the build up in one particular muscle group and ‘the burn’ not developing.
It’s usually done in a circuit format, 5-6 exercises, back to back, with usually around 4-5 rounds. You would alternate between muscle groups, so for example, Chest into Back into Shoulders into Legs. Here’s a little sample, I’ll post a FULL workout soon!
• Standing Shoulder Press
• Barbell Squat
• Pull Up
• Bench Press
• Stiff Leg Deadlift
• Ab Exercise
I would recommend doing 12-14 reps per exercise but you can do more if you want. You should perform one exercise then move on to the next straight away. When you have completed all exercises in this way you should take a rest before beginning the circuit again. Perform the whole circuit for 4-5 rounds.
Here are some of the benefits of this style of training:
1? Your heart rate will be constantly elevated through out the session meaning you will increase general cardio vascular health and improve fitness whilst also improving your strength because of the resistance exercises. It’s a perfect strength and conditioning workout!
2? Burn tons of fat! The nature of this workout will mean your body will be working super hard the entire time. This is exactly what you want if your looking to get leaner!
3? Less time in the gym whilst still getting the work done! Perfect!
I would definitely recommend at least trying this once and it would be great to add it into your routine once a week! Let me know what you think!
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Our Master Trainer Mark gives beginners some tips… subscribe to his feed on for exclusive content
It can be quite daunting when you first take the leap into the unknown of ‘fitness and training’. You must remember though, every experienced lifter or trainer was once in the exact shoes you’re in now. We all had that feeling of not being quite sure of what you’re doing, whether you’re doing it right and generally feeling a little lost. But, that’s why I’m here, to hopefully settle those initial fears and feelings.
The amazing thing about lifting weights and training in general is- there’s always room to learn and room to improve knowledge. I would never claim to know it all and I constantly promise myself to never become complacent, but, having said that, I know I know enough to help others achieve their goals and my own. Here are a few tips if you’re just starting out on your journey, or, even if you’ve been training a while, some of these tips may be useful to you too!
1. Keep it simple. Both with your training and nutrition. Stick to a basic program for at least 6-8 weeks and try keep your nutrition habits basic, DO NOT OVER COMPLICATE with meal timings etc, it’s really not that serious, personally I like to eat when I’m hungry, I make sure I hit my numbers for the day but I would never eat by the clock (I’ll explain my nutrition in a few weeks). Most of us know how to eat ‘healthy’ the hard part is consistently doing so.
2. Don’t over do it. It’s easy to get carried away and feel like you want to unleash all this positivity in the first day or so, but, that’s not the way. You’ll hit a wall faster than you think. Taking your time and slowly easing yourself into it will be worth it in the long run.
3. Schedule yourself rest days and stick to them. This goes hand in hand with not over doing it. It’s definitely relevant to some experienced lifters. More is not always better. Your body will not be able to put out 100% day in day out. Why would you want to train sub 100%? Take that rest and re charge!
4. Get into the habit of tracking everything you do! That’s why Bodireel is a fantastic tool. It has everything you need to do this. How will you ever know you’re progressing or moving forward if you’re not keeping a record of what you’re doing? It’s great to look back 12,14,16 weeks from when you started and actually being able to see your progress, it’s a massive motivation!
5. Ask for help! Especially whilst you’re using the app. Use me, take the guess work out of it and ask me. I’ve been in the position you’re in and I’ve tried and failed so you don’t have to. You can contact via the app or by email Alternatively you can visit my page to subscribe to my feed and receive exclusive content and extras!

3 Simple Steps To A Leaner You – Dan Haralambous (Personal Trainer)

1) Drink more water


Our bodies are made up of around 60% so simply put the more hydrated you are the better you work! In terms of fat burning it’s our liver which metabolises fats for energy and like other bodily functions, if it’s dehydrated it isn’t working as efficiently as it could be!

But take caution and don’t drown yourself to meet your quota! Sip continuously throughout the day stopping an hour or 2 before bed so as not to disturb your sleep. If you are very active also consider electrolytes as it takes more than water to replenish the lost electrolytes in your body following exercise.

2) Eat more vegetables


Very calorie sparse, very filling, very good for you.. Simple! If you struggle to count calories, increasing your vegetable intake can drastically reduce your calorie input and better yet it will still keep you satiated to help reduce bouts of hunger.

But take caution and be selective of which vegetables you eat, whilst for a healthy diet you may be recommended a rainbow of vegetables, certain root vegetables such as parsnips, potatoes and swedes rank very highly on the glycemic index READ HERE. Instead stick to dark leafy green vegetables such as broccoli, Kale, spinach etc.

3) Up your protein


Protein has the highest thermogenic effects of all the macro nutrients READ HERE. Simply put, the higher the proportion of protein in your diet, the higher your calorie output.

But take caution and don’t overdo it. Your protein intake should be relative to your activity level, muscle mass and type, if any, of exercise. The more active the individual, the more muscular the physique, the more damaging the exercise the higher the protein requirements. Aim for between 1-3 grams per KG of body weight. Also you will only burn more calories if the proportion of protein is higher rather than the total amount. Adding extra protein to your diet won’t change your calorie in- calorie out balance, but replacing other macro nutrients with protein will!

Dan Haralambous

Fully qualified Manchester based Personal Trainer with CYQ Level 2 Gym instructor and CYQ Level 3 Personal trainer qualifications

Original Post HERE

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Healthy Snack Options – Ode2fitmas 6 – by Rachel


If you are throwing a Christmas party or having friends round, keep the Calories down and the flavour up with these alternative snack options.

Shop Bought

Metcalfes Skinny Popcorn. One of my favourite snacks, light and super tasty, everyone loves popcorn right.  Suitable for film nights or party snacks it is a great alternative to traditional calorie laden crisps.  They have some great flavours, my favourites being sweet and salty, or cinnamon sweet.  A great one for Christmas.  They are stocked in most supermarkets so grab them now.

Pop Chips – Pop Chips are amazing, they were my go to snack on the morning of my wedding.  Nowhere near as greasy as other crisps they are not deep fried so contain around half the fat but are so tasty.  Healthier and lighter, you can eat the whole bag.  So when you want to put some crisps out go for Pop Chips!

Unsalted Cashews or Almonds – Nuts are a great snack to have available and these unsalted versions have some added nutritional value. Both Cashews and Almonds are great choices.  Cashews have a lower fat content than most nuts, whilst Almonds are one of the healthiest nuts options. Both are full of healthy fats and protein, perfect for a Christmas party spread.


Vegetable Crudités and Dips (Avoid Cream Based Dips, go Mexican with Salsa and Gucamole).  Simple and straightforward this is a great addition to a party buffet.  Choose your favourite vegetables, mine are peppers, celery and carrots, cut into sticks and serve.

Homemade Nachos – I love nachos but packet versions are loaded with artificial additives and flavouring which ideally we want to avoid. This homemade simple recipe offers a great alternative.  Grab some tortilla wraps (each tortilla should make 8 nachos) and and spray with a couple of sprays of olive oil spray.  Cut the tortillas into quarters, and then each quarter in half to get 8 triangles.   Lay over a baking tray and sprinkle with your preferred spices. Paprika or chilli are my favourites.  Bake in a preheated oven around 180 degrees C for around 7 minutes.  They should be crisp and golden. Enjoy on their own or with dips.

Kale Crisps – Kale has more nutrients per calorie than anything, so is super good for you.  Whilst these crisp alternatives may never replace Kettle Chips they are a great crunchy, salty snack.  It doesn’t really matter which Kale variety you use but you definitely need to get rid of the stems.  Wash the Kale and make sure you dry the leaves well.  Add the kale to a bowl, add a tablespoon of oil and then add your seasoning.  Keep it simple with salt and chilli flakes or mix it up and try your own combination.  Spread out on a large baking tray and bake for around 30 minutes on a low heat.  (Around 120 degrees Celsius). Turn the oven off and use a spatula to remove them from the tray.  Check the seasoning and add a little more if needed. Serve them and enjoy!

I would love to know if you try any of these snacks or recipes. Comment below or tag me on social media @ode2fitness or using the hashtag #ode2fitmas

The importance of protein – by Matt Roberts

The importance of protein - Matt Roberts

I’ve been helping people with their exercise and nutrition for over 20 years now and one thing I always set a precedent on is helping them find ways of keeping their diet varied and nutritious with a wide range of healthy foods. Sticking to the basics is always something I like to stress and one key principle to any good diet is to find ways to meet your protein needs.

If you didn’t know already, protein is a crucial part of a number of key processes in the body. For example, it helps synthesize important hormones, including ones that make us happy and relaxed, it supports our immune system and boosts our metabolism which helps us lose fat and stay lean for life. And perhaps most importantly it helps to build and repair almost every tissue in our body.

Depending on your goals, the amount of protein a person needs to consume can vary from anything upward of 60 grams per day with some athletes needing well over 100 grams. For the everyday person this equates to roughly 15-20grams of protein per meal (based on 3-4 meals a day) which in food terms amounts to one average sized chicken breast.

The way our body works means its best to try and eat a portion of protein with every meal and sometimes as snacks throughout the day rather than in one big portion. There are plenty of good whole food options available to us in order to meet our daily needs (think lean meats, fish and eggs). However, for my clients that follow a plant based diet it can sometimes be a struggle to meet their daily requirements as their food options will have significantly less protein than that provided by lean meats and fish. This is where I like to suggest the use of a vegetable based protein powder like Naturya’s Hemp protein. This is a great product that can deliver as much as 20% of a person’s daily protein requirements per serving. In addition to this it’s also a great source of magnesium and iron which can help my clients feel more energized and mentally alert.

As I mentioned before, ideally I want all my clients to be eating protein with every meal but even for the meat eaters this can initially be a struggle and no meal time stands out more in this regard than breakfast. Helping my clients find ways to address this is often a focus for me as this is one of the most beneficial times of the day to have a solid serving of protein (protein consumption at breakfast will help to regulate appetite for the rest of the day).

In theory there’s no reason why a healthy breakfast should look any different from a healthy lunch or dinner where we build a meal around a protein source. In reality, however, many people struggle with this, both from a mindset viewpoint (eating certain foods in the morning can feel too alien) and from a time perspective (most people need something quick and easy). This often means they turn to breakfast choices which end up having very little protein content i.e. toast, cereal and porridge.

This is where a product like Naturya’s Hemp protein fits in perfectly (both for meat eaters and non-meat eaters) as it can be easily added to other ingredients to create a healthy, nutritious and protein providing breakfast smoothie or shake. Naturya’s Hemp is cold pressed and gently milled to provide a fine, protein dense powder with a natural earthy flavor and mixes really well when creating smoothies like the recipe I’ve provided below.

I also like to encourage my clients to experiment with recipes like this and inspire them to use other great products from Naturya’s range that will help to provide even more key nutrients to their diet. For example, by adding Naturya Organic Chia Seeds they can boost their intake of calcium and fibre or they might use Naturya’s Fairtrade and organic Cacao powder for a more indulgent flavor that is full of zinc, magnesium and copper.

Starting with, and building upon the basics will mean you have a great foundation to healthy way of life. Having a good source of protein with every meal is an essential part of this foundation so why not start today and make a nutritious protein providing shake for your breakfast.

Naturya Breakfast Protein Shake

1 x serving (15g) Naturya Hemp Protein Powder

1 x half of an avocado

2 x tablespoons of yogurt (Greek, Coconut or Plant)

1 x banana

1 x cup almond milk

2 x Medjool dates

1 x heaped teaspoon of almond butter

Sprinkle Natuyra Chia Seeds & Goji Berries on top & enjoy!


Original Article HERE

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Can a daily teaspoon of turmeric help prevent cancer? by Laura @ Tilt Nutrition

For thousands of years turmeric has been used in Indian and Ayurvedic medicine to treat cuts, sprains and swelling. 32155740 - turmeric and turmeric powder on white background

Around the 1940’s, scientists worked out that the anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial benefits were down to curcumin – the pigment in turmeric responsible for it’s bright golden hue. So far so good.

Turmeric or curcumin?

The problem however, is harnessing the anti-inflammatory power of curcumin. By weight, turmeric is only 2-3% curcumin, and curcumin is very poorly absorbed.

This means that you’d need to consume around 20-30 teaspoons of turmeric to get what scientists believe is an effective anti-inflammatory dose of curcumin – some 200-500 mg two to four times daily.

Ultimately this means taking a curcumin supplement containing the concentrated dose, leaving powdered turmeric out in the cold. Or at least to one side.

As a dietitian, I’m all for the power of natural foods, including spices, but for anti-inflammatory benefits at least, curcumin supplements have been the smart choice.

New backing for turmeric

That doesn’t mean there’s no point in adding turmeric to your food though. An exciting new study, led by University College, London for the BBC series Trust Me I’m A Doctor found that a teaspoon of turmeric daily changed the expression of genes involved in predicting cancer risk.

In the study, 100 volunteers from North East England were split into three groups. One group was given a capsule containing 3.2 grams of turmeric (abut a teaspoon). A second group took a dummy capsule and the third group was asked to add a teaspoon of turmeric to their food every day.

After 6 weeks, they found that the group adding turmeric to their food had significant changes in the expression of genes linked with cancer, allergies and depression. What was interesting though is that these changes weren’t seen in the turmeric capsule group.

It’s not clear why, but the researchers think it might be to do with the way turmeric is absorbed when it’s heated, or mixed other foods or nutrients. The volunteers weren’t instructed on how to use the spice, so some added to drinks, others used in curries or sprinkled onto food. For example we know that it’s better absorbed when eaten with fatty foods like olive oil, avocado or fish.

We need more research, but it’s exciting to see evidence that simple adding turmeric to meals can have a positive effect. And this isn’t the first of its kind – in a 1990’s study of smokers; half a teaspoon of turmeric given daily for 30 days reduced the number of chemicals excreted in their urine.

Turmeric in the kitchen

Although it’s not conclusive, this research is good reason to add more turmeric to your diet.

The spice goes well with cinnamon and ginger and is great as a marinade for chicken, fish or pulses. You can also easily add to soups, stews and curries. Another favourite is  ‘golden milk’ – a popular traditional Indian drink. Mix half a teaspoon of turmeric with a cup of hot milk, a pinch of cinnamon and a small squeeze of honey.

Laura (Tilt Nutrition)


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