Best Exercise Equipment for under £30


Lots of my clients often ask what are the most useful training tools / equipment to buy for their health and fitness goals. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to spend a fortune on such items. So I’ve decided to list my 10 best training tools for under £30 for home and gym use. As there is a huge variety of options when buying these items I have left a link for my personal preference – these are items I own and can vouch for; they are not the cheapest option, but still under £30. So here’s my list of the best exercise equipment for under £30:


1. Kettlebell

The kettlebell comes in at number 1 because of it is in my opinion the best piece of strength and cardio equipment around. It works the entire body but specifically the posterior kinectic chain; these include: erector spinae, gluteus maximus and hamstrings. kettlebell exercises give you the ‘best bang for your buck’ when it comes to burning calories and strength at the same time.

We R Sports Kettlebells With Rubber Sleeve 4kg to 40kg Home Gym Fitness Exercise Kettlebell Training Workout Strength Training 4kg, 6kg, 8kg, 10kg, 12kg, 14kg, 16kg, 18kg, 20kg, 22kg, 26kg, 28kg, 30kg, 32kg, 34kg, 36kg, 38kg, 40kg


2. Stability ball

The stability ball is simple, cheap and effective. It helps with both core and strength exercises when used as substitute for a bench. It’s simple to use and everyone should try and incorporate some stability work in their training.

Reebok Elements Gymball – Blue, 65 cm


3. Gymboss

This simple but effective piece of equipment saves time and keeps your workouts effective especially when using HIIT or circuit training. It’s a small light weight beeper which you can clip onto your clothing and it will beep or vibrate when a set time has elapsed.

Gymboss Interval Timer and Stopwatch – BLACK / BLUE SOFTCOAT


4. Skipping rope

Probably the oldest and cheapest piece of CV equipment there is anywhere in the world. The humble skipping rope is definitely something anyone into health and fitness should own.

Skipping Rope – Fast Speed Cable for Mastering Double Unders – Includes *FREE* Workout Ebook, Carry Case & Spare Screw Allen Key Set – Best For Cross Fitness Training, WOD’s, Boxing, MMA, Exercise and Fitness – 100% Lifetime Better Than Money Back Guarantee


5. Dumbell

Simple and probably the most versatile piece of strength equipment there is. You can do every exercise there is with a pair of dumbells.

Hardcastle 30KG Gym Dumbbell Free Weights Set


6. Roller (abs)

The abdominal roller engages you core more than any other exercise. Forgot doing hundreds of crunches, do 5 good roll outs and you’ll get better results.

66fit Abdominal Roller Wheel With Knee Pad


7. Resistance bands

These light bands can be taken anywhere and offer a wide range of exercises for both the upper and lower body. Perfect for the busy business traveller who needs to exercise when living out of a suitcase.

Bodylastics 12 pcs Resistance Bands *MAX TENSION Set (96 lbs.) with 5 anti-snap exercise tubes, Heavy Duty components, carrying case, and 3×4 ft wall chart with over 100 exercises


8. Barbell

The barbell is a second to the dumbell. However, it’s a must for certain lifts such as cleans, clean and jerk, deadlifts, etc. These lifts incorporate the major muscles meaning that you’ll burn more calories.

York 6ft (182cm) Spinlock Bar


9. Foam roller

It’s not a gimmick, it actually works. Foam rolling otherwise known as self-myofascial release helps in muscle recovery by braking up muscle ‘knots’ allowing normal blood flow to that area.

Foam Yoga roller the grid beast roller for massage workout and fitness Pilates All Colours (Black)


10. Chin-up bar

Simple and easy to install and take on holiday with you. There’s no better functional upper back exercise than a chin-up. They take up minimal space and can be put up into any door frame.


Hate Exercise?

imagesN49PZT2ZThis blog will be directed to all those people who hate exercise in all its forms, people who have stressful sedentary desk jobs. If that’s you, and you want to add some form of indirect exercise into your life with some nutritional advice, then read on…

It’s unavoidable, we get older and the foods we once ate without guilt are now showing visibly on our waistlines. The fact is, our basal metabolic rate (BMR) is dependent on two main factors; age and physical activity level. We can’t change the former, so let’s try and tackle the later in small baby steps.



Walking is a great low intensity exercise that most people can do on a daily basis. Getting off the bus or tube a stop early and walking that extra 10-20 minutes to work everyday will make a huge difference if done day in day out. Don’t just stand on the escalator, walk up the stairs. Going for a brisk walk in your lunch hour rather than sitting at your desk surfing the web with a sandwich has been proved to not only shift the lard but also help brain function and release mood enhancing endorphins. Take the stairs for that 11am meeting on the 4th floor rather than the lift and you’ll burn many more calories and stoke that fat burning flame long after you’ve got there. Volunteer to get the coffees and teas in, it’ll make you more popular while keeping you on the move. Instead of calling or emailing your colleagues, meet face-to-face and have a real conversation. To keep up the momentum, get yourself an expensive pedometer and monitor your daily steps and calories burned.



There’s no point getting the extra exercise in and then eating a Krispy Kreme. You need to keep a check on what you put into your mouth and keep a balance. Start the day with breakfast. Studies have shown that people who eat breakfast in the morning eat fewer calories throughout the day than their non-eating breakfast counterparts. Bad food choices are due to being hungry, the brain will crave high sugar foods once you get to this place and you’ll lose the willpower and give in to that biscuit. Wake up and eat a balanced nutritional breakfast, for example, scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast, porridge with chopped nuts and berries, etc. The breakfast will kick start your metabolism and keep you away from that mid-morning craving for that jam doughnut or those custard crèmes. Keep hydrated by drinking lots of fluids; preferably water and teas and coffees without sugar. If you’ve can’t bear your tea or coffee without sweetener try using stevia (a natural sweetener found in plant extract). The extra fluids won’t have you peeing like a race horse, but you’ll be making more visits to the toilet, again, getting you moving. Bring in your lunch and snacks and save yourself hundreds of pounds a year at the same time. When you prepare your own lunch, you’ll know exactly what goes into it as you’re in charge.


These are all great ways into getting your mind-set and body into good habits, giving you the momentum to maybe heaven forbid join a gym…who knows. It all starts with baby steps…

Why Diets Make You Fatter

In this blog, I’m going to talk about diets and why most dieters are actually making themselves fatter and not slimmer…to put simply ‘why diets make you fatter’…

When people go on a diet, they usually starve themselves from the food they love by using willpower. Sooner or later, the dieter will give into temptation and fall off the wagon. During the time on diet, they might have lost weight. In most cases, the weight which is lost is a combination of water, muscle and fat. Losing muscle is the worst thing as it brings down their basal metabolic rate (BMR). BMR is the number of calories a person needs to maintain current weight and function, including breathing, cell repair and a host of other functions we take for granted – the autonomic nervous system. When the dieter concedes to temptation and starts eating the foods that were forbidden they put the weight back plus a few extra pounds. The double whammy here is that the weight gained is almost always fat, which means the dieter has changed their body composition for the worse.

An example, Wendy weighs in at 12 stone (76kg); her body fat is 35% or 26.6kg fat. She decides to go on the latest fad diet and initially loses 4kg of which half is muscle (2kg). After a couple of weeks she gives into to temptation and puts all the weight back plus 1kg. She now weighs in at 77kg (28.6kg being fat) but her body fat percentage has increased from 35% to 37%. If Wendy repeats this cycle of failed yo yo diets she will get fatter and fatter, losing muscle at each cycle and making her likely to suffer from a number of diseases including type 2 diabetes and obesity.

The right way to lose weight (fat)

To lose weight, you have to create a calorie deficit. I have spoken on how to work out your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) and how to lose fat – create an energy deficit. When losing weight, some of the weight will be muscle – this is unavoidable. However, you can minimise the muscle loss and target the fat loss when losing weight by incorporating the following:

1. Keep up the protein intake and drop the calories through carbohydrates and fats

2. Exercise, preferably resistance training

3. Keep hydrated

4. Don’t reduce calories by too much*

*If you restrict calories by too much the body will go into starvation mode and resist using its fat stores for energy. Studies have shown that keeping your calorie deficit under 500 a day will not prompt this unwanted reaction.

Glycaemic Index

The glycaemic index (GI) is a ranking of foods between 0 and 100 according to the extent to which they raise blood sugar levels after being eaten. It should be noted that the glycaemic load of a food should also be taken into consideration when determining the effect on blood sugar levels after ingesting carbohydrates. In this blog, I’ll discuss low and high glycaemic (GI) meals and when it’s appropriate to eat them.


Pre-exercise meal

It has often been quoted that a pre exercise meal is best chosen from low GI foods. The rationale for this belief is that, if a high GI carbohydrate (CHO) meal is taken before training or competing, the relatively rapid rise in blood glucose will cause a corresponding release of insulin.

The feared effects of high GI CHO were:

  • an increased rate of early glucose oxidation
  • a ‘rebound hypoglycaemia’ effect where the increased insulin causes a rapid fall in glucose levels possibly even before the session has begun

Research has shown that cyclists given a low GI meal consisting of lentils eaten one hour before intensive exercise, performed for longer before fatiguing, when compared to those fed on a high GI meal. The research suggested that glycogen sparing may have occurred with the low glycaemic trial, thus promoting better performance. However, post training glycogen levels were never measured, and subsequent studies have failed to prove any clear benefit from pre-feeding on a low glycaemic meal.

The majority of studies show that there may be slightly more favourable metabolic conditions with regards to insulin levels during exercise associated with low GI foods than with high GI alternatives; these differences are small and short lived. The conclusion is that athletes probably perform the same on both pre-race meals.

The real difference in performance appears to be related to carbohydrate feeding during exercise, which seems to override any metabolic or performance effects arising from the type of pre-event meal. Athletes should consume adequate amounts of carbohydrate drinks during endurance exercise, and may feel free to choose their pre-exercise meal according to their personal preferences.


Carbohydrates taken during exercise

Ingesting carbohydrates is acceptable if:

  • the session is longer than an hour
  • the match or race is longer than 90 minutes
  • if pre-exercise meal is not possible (early morning intensive training)

The consumption of isotonic drinks during exercise has been shown to delay the onset of fatigue and improve performance in endurance athletes. Many athletes find it difficult to consume even a light meal before exercise with causing discomfort, or they simply may not have time before their planned training session. Ingesting an isotonic drink during endurance training is as effective as the pre-training carbohydrate meal. The replacement of fluid provided by the isotonic drink is also a direct advantage.


Post-exercise meal

After intensive exercise, the muscles are more sensitive to the effects of insulin thus enabling more efficient replacement of lost glycogen. This process is particularly evident during the first two hours following the training session. The rapid synthesis of muscle glycogen stores is aided by the immediate intake of high GI carbohydrate. Studies have shown that the first intake of carbohydrate should be taken within 15 minutes of the workout.



We are not all athletes, but the guidelines mentioned above seem to work for the general gym goer. I would suggest that eating a balanced low GI meal 2 hours before training, followed by a high GI snack like a banana with a protein shake within the 15 minute post-exercise, followed by a suitable balanced meal within 2-3 hours of exercise. The reason for the high GI fuel within 15 minutes of exercise is to get your body out of the catabolism (using your muscle for fuel) and getting it back as quickly as possible into anabolism (building muscle).

The Best Kettlebell Exercises

on-the-lineIn this blog I’m going to list my 7 best kettlebell exercises. I’ve been a great fan of kettlebells when few people had heard of them.

Here are my top 7 kettlebell exercises, the muscles they work, teaching points, alternative options, common mistakes, corrections and a quick youtube clip on how they should be performed.



1. Kettlebell Front Squat

The kettlebell front squat exercise has all the benefits of a traditional front squat and is a good introductory exercise to kettlebells. Holding a kettlebell as compared to a barbell keeps the weight closer to the body making it easier to perform.

Primary Muscles: quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteal muscles, calves and core

Teaching Points:

  • hold the kettlebell in a double handed ‘racked’ position
  • feet shoulder width apart
  • brace the abdominal and back muscles
  • initiate the squat by flexing from the knees and hips
  • lower slowly to a comfortable position (thighs parallel to the floor)
  • from the bottom position push the ground away keeping the chest lifted throughout to maintain a neutral spine
  • keep knees in line with toes and heels down throughout
  • return to the standing position and concentrate on getting the hips forward and squeezing the glutes

Alternative Options:

  1. Single arm racked position
  2. Double kettlebell front squat
  3. Single or double kettlebell lunges
  4. Single leg front squat (pistol squat)

Common Problems & Solutions

Error: spinal alignment falling into flexion (curving the back)

Correction: keep chest lifted and kettlebell tight to the body

Youtube clip:



2. Kettlebell Swing

This is the fundamental kettlebell exercise. It strengthens the posterior muscle chain within a dynamic exercise that includes both acceleration and deceleration phases. The swing has a massive carry over to general activity and sports due to the powerful snapping hip extension involved. It is also a great exercise for mastering techniques, positions and postures for other exercises. The swing must be completed with competence before progressing to exercises such as kettlebell cleans, high pulls and the snatch.

Primary Muscles: quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteal muscles, erector spinae and the core

Teaching points:

  • start position – grasp the handles of the kettlebell with feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart
  • in a standing tall position switch on the glutes but keep the spine neutral. While keeping the arms long and shoulders relaxed, look forwards with the chest open
  • lowering phase – start the swing by lowering the kettlebell between the legs
  • push the hips back, while also flexing the knees. Continuing to flex at the hip – ultimately hiking the kettlebell towards the buttocks
  • upward phase – drive through the heels whilst moving the hips forwards dynamically
  • as a result of the powerful dynamic hip thrust the kettlebell will arc upwards
  • keep the arms relaxed as the kettlebell arc height is a consequence of the hip thrust – at the top of the arc there will be some ‘hang time’
  • make sure the glutes are squeezed and the core braced
  • begin the downward phase by letting the kettlebell naturally drop between the legs
  • push the hips back letting the kettlebell swing between the legs, keep the chest open

Alternative Options:

  1. Single hand swing
  2. Single hand alternating swing
  3. Double kettlebell swing
  4. Travelling swing – forward walk, side walk, 90 degree rotating

Common Problems & Solutions

Error: allowing too much knee bend and performing a ‘squatting’ action

Correction: focus on keeping the knees still and pushing the hips back during the lowering phase of the swing. You should have a similar pulling sensation as a hamstring stretch.

Youtube clip:


 3. Kettlebell Clean 

Advancement from the single hand swing incorporating the upper body to develop upper body strength and power. It is important that clients understand the top ‘racked’ position of the kettlebell – a pre-requisite for overhead kettlebell exercises.

Primary Muscles: quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteal muscles, upper back, deltoids, trapezius and biceps

Teaching Points:

  • begin as when attempting a kettlebell swing
  • rather than arching the kettlebell, clean it up to a racked position by bringing the kettlebell up vertically close to the body using the power generated from the hips as the arm stays loose
  • lead with the elbow to do this then dynamically whip the elbow underneath the kettlebell to gain a vertical forearm (keep the wrist strong). Allow the kettlebell to wrap around the forearm
  • the kettlebell should be close to the body in the ‘racked’ position on the outside of the forearm
  • in this position do not relax or let the kettlebell drop away to the side
  • to reverse the action let the kettlebell drop in towards the midline of the body while simultaneously brining the elbow out and high

Alternative Options:

  1. Clean and press
  2. Clean and split press
  3. Double kettlebell clean
  4. Double kettlebell clean and press

Common Problems & Solutions

Error: generating too much power from the hips causing the the kettlebell to move too fast over the hand and hitting the back of the wrist

Correction: reduce the drive from the hips and ensure the kettlebell moves around the outside of the hand (rather than over the top) to rest gently on the wrist. Keep the shoulder and elbow tight to the body.

Youtube clip:


 4. Kettlebell One-Arm Shoulder Press

A very effective upper body strengthening exercise that works the shoulder through a good range of motion and increases shoulder stability

Primary Muscles: deltoids, triceps, upper trapezius, latissimus dorsi and core

Teaching Points:

  • start with the kettlebell in a strong ‘racked’ position with the feet well grounded
  • press the kettlebell up vertically, keeping the forearm vertical and the wrist fixed throughout
  • straighten the arm with the palm of the hand facing forwards
  • stabilise the shoulder and contract the triceps so the arm is straight
  • lower the kettlebell under control and pull it back into the ‘racked’ position

Alternative Options:

  1. Double kettlebell shoulder press
  2. Alternating kettlebell shoulder press
  3. Front squat to shoulder press

Common Problems & Solutions

Error: locking the hips into full extension of hyperextension whilst allowing the kettlebell to drift behind or out the side of the body

Correction: keep the hips soft in small amount of flexion with the chest lifted to ensure the core muscles are activated. Ensure the kettlebell is stabilised directly above the shoulder joint.

Youtube clip:


5. Kettlebell One-Arm High Pull  

An excellent exercise for helping teach the kettlebell snatch. Working the upper back muscles dynamically for endurance, strength and power. Useful for throwing sports and martial arts. To avoid shoulder injuries it is important not to perform this exercise in the same way as an upright row – the movement instead comes from the lower body.

Primary Muscles: quadriceps, gluteal muscles, trapezius, biceps, deltoids, hamstrings, rhomboids and latissimus dorsi

Teaching Points:

  • the pull is an extension of the kettlebell swing but at the top of the arc on the swing you pull the kettlebell towards the outside of the shoulder
  • as the kettlebell reaches chest height dynamically retract the shoulder girdle and in a fluid movement pull the kettlebell towards and to the outside of the shoulder
  • keep shoulders relaxed, the forearm straight, the wrist fixed and body strong
  • keep the movement going by punching the kettlebell forwards and reversing the action while dropping into a stable kettlebell swing

Alternative Options:

  1. Split stance high pull
  2. Double kettlebell high pull

Common Problems & Solutions

Error: creating too much upward drive and leading with a high elbow as though a typical dumbbell high pull

Correction: ensure the exercise begins with a good single arm swing, arcing the kettlebell out in front. The pull and shoulder girdle retraction is quickly performed when the kettlebell is momentarily weightless at shoulder height.

Youtube clip:


6. Kettlebell One-Arm Snatch

The ultimate whole body kettlebell exercise that is technically very demanding. A continuation of the kettlebell swing and high pull. Often used as a test of kettlebell competence and strength.

Primary Muscles: quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteal muscles, rhomboids, trapezius, latissimus dorsi, biceps, deltoids, pectorals and triceps

Teaching Points:

  • begin the snatch by performing a one-arm swing
  • utilise the ‘hip-snap’ to get the arc of the kettlebell high but at the top of the arc continue to the move the kettlebell up to a vertical arm position
  • use an almost high pull action by bending the arm followed by a fast vertical punch upwards to fully straighten the arm
  • use a fast, smooth action to catch the bell at the top and prevent it from banging the forearm
  • pause, looking forwards with the arm straight next to the ear and the shoulder stable
  • fluidly lower the kettlebell so it drops down between the legs

Alternative Options:

  1. Alternating one arm snatch
  2. Double kettlebell snatch

Common Problems & Solutions

Error: squatting to start the movement. Allowing the kettlebell to swing/float over the top of the hand impacting with the back of the wrist.

Correction: ensure a correct swing initiates the movement with a powerful hip drive. At the top of the movement pull and punch upwards in a small rapid movement to bring the kettlebell more gently onto the back of the wrist.

Youtube clip:


 7.Turkish Get Up (TGU)  

An all over functional body conditioning exercise. Targets most muscles of the body but particularly good for developing the core as well as shoulder strength, stability and range.

Primary Muscles: all over body / core

Teaching Points:

  • start in supine position (lying on your back) with one hand on the kettlebell handle
  • drive the arm with the kettlebell up above the chest into a straight arm position. The other arm should move out to the side
  • look at the kettlebell the whole time
  • flex the knee on the same side as the kettlebell with the foot planted
  • sit up keeping the kettlebell arm vertical until the other arm is straight to the side of the body grounded
  • lift the hips and move the straight  leg underneath the body into a lunge position, again keeping the kettlebell arm vertical and looking at the kettlebell
  • when in a lunge position look forwards and push up to a standing position
  • reverse the actions under control to the start position

Alternative Options:

  1. Breakdown TGU into separate sections / exercises
  2. Kettlebell windmills

Common Problems & Solutions

As this exercise has so many different parts it difficult to address them all. Make sure that you are constantly looking at the kettlebell throughout the whole exercise.

Youtube clip:

For more kettlebell exercises (111 to be exact), please click on the link below:

111 Best Kettlebell Exercises for Men and Women

How to lose fat – create an energy deficit

bodycompoToday, I’m writing about ‘how to lose fat – create an energy deficit’. It’s quite simple really, if you burn more calories than you ingest, you’ll lose weight / fat – period.

To do this you first need to find out your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE), refer to my previous blog “How to work out your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)”

Once you’ve worked this out, you’re good to go…

A common approach to reducing body fat is to establish a negative energy balance. Research indicates that if the energy deficit is too great then body fat is more likely to return, possibly to an even greater level.

A priority for an effective weight management programme is to lose body fat, whilst retaining as much lean mass (muscle) as possible thereby minimising the fall in metabolic rate. Many studies on this subject have all concluded that a weight loss of 1 lb per week (ideally from body fat) is recommended.

Create a 500 kcal deficit per day = 3500 kcal in a week = approximately 1 lb of fat

This reduction in body weight may be achieved through several different strategies:

  • diet restriction alone
  • exercise intervention alone
  • exercise and dietary restriction combined – most effective approach*

* The combination of exercise coupled with a modest dietary restriction has been proved from numerous studies to be the most effective method for achieving the desired negative energy balance whilst minimising a fall in metabolic rate.

To work out the number of calories in foods / meals, you could use a number of free android apps. My favourite app is “MyFitnessPal”, which helps you keep track of your eating habits and the amount of calories in each meal.



Reduce calories by a combination of exercise and diet to the sum of 500 a day from your TDEE. Try to be honest with your calorie consumption, use an app like “MyFitnessPal” to track your meals and snacks.


Trans Fats – The Deadly Killer


Today’s blog will be about trans fats – the deadly killer. Trans fats are found in lots of pre-packaged foods and margarines without the general public knowing about them and their effects. To say that these fats are harmful to our bodies would be a gross understatement. Read below and educate yourselves on how they are created and why they are on par with smoking…


Hydrogenation and trans fats

This refers to a process used within the food industry where quantities of unsaturated vegetable oils are manufactured into more solid fats like margarine.

The heating, catalysing and pumping of hydrogen into unsaturated oils results in the formation of saturated fatty acids, as the original double bonds are broken and replaced with single bonds once again full of hydrogen. The amount of hydrogen added during this process will determine the amount of saturated fatty acids in the end product. The consistency of the final product will also be determined by the degree of hydrogenation. Fully hydrogenated vegetable oil would result in a very hard waxy substance. Most hydrogenation is partial, leaving varying amounts of vegetable oil still containing unsaturated double bonds. Many of these double bonds however, will have been converted into trans fatty acids due to the actions of this intense and prolonged process. Trans fatty acids are detrimental to our health and warrant some explanation.

Consumption of hydrogenated fats is associated with a host of serious diseases, not only cancer but also diabetes, obesity, immune system dysfunction, low-birth-weight babies, birth defects, decreased visual acuity, sterility, difficulty in lactation and problems with bones and tendons.

Metabolic studies have shown that dietary trans fatty acids have adverse effects on blood lipid levels, promoting an increase in LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol, and a decrease in healthier HDL cholesterol, and that this effect is double that produced from the ingestion of saturated fat.

Based on available metabolic studies, one report estimated that approximately 30,000 premature coronary heart disease deaths annually could be attributed to the consumption of trans fatty acids.


Common foods which contain trans fats

  • many margarines
  • biscuits, cakes
  • crackers
  • take away foods
  • pies, pastries
  • pre-prepared foods
  • many ‘low fat’ processed foods.



Stay away from trans fats, they really are killers.

Whey Protein Shakes


Today I’m going to discuss protein shakes, how they are made and if we really need them.

Protein shakes have become popular training supplement in the last 20 years, partially due to the increased profile of bodybuilding, but also because of the significant investment in advertising in men’s health magazines and the internet. The appeal is a quick, easy to use supplement that enables individuals seeking hypertrophy (bodybuilding) to achieve their increased protein needs. Much of the advertising implies that their supplement is the ‘answer’ and is a ‘highly advanced’ or ‘precision engineered’ muscle building formula. So how much is marketing and how much is truth?

Whey protein is found in milk, which averages about 6.5% protein, of which about 20% is whey protein. In its natural state it has the highest biological value to the body of any protein, due to its high concentration of essential and branched chain amino acids. This makes it useful to the body in many ways, one of which is in the repair and growth of muscle tissues. However, by the time a tub of whey protein powder is purchased it is often vastly different from the original product. Consider the following points:

  • Whey is a by-product from cheese manufacture. Traditionally it was disposed of by farmers into animal feed
  • Often dried at high temperatures for speed of manufacture – above 60C these proteins become denatured, which destroys their ability to function
  • Manufacturers use sugars, sweeteners, colours and flavours to improve taste
  • Often very low in fat – proteins need fat for proper metabolism and use.
  • Often backed up by self-funded research, if any
  • Prices are now highly inflated due to market demand generated by clever advertising

It is important to remember that whey protein shakes were only intended to supplement, not replace good quality protein through food. The body is designed to absorb and metabolise real, untainted food and protein sources. If a supplement is required then consider the following three points before purchase:

  1. Seek cold pressed protein powders, manufactured below 50C
  2. No added sugars, sweeteners, colours or flavours
  3. Mix with whole milk, as fats are necessary for protein metabolism



In a perfect world, people would be eating real food, but for some who fit their training in the morning before work, for example, this just isn’t an option. In these cases, a good whey protein shake taken straight after training (within the 15 minute window) is a good compromise. It should also be mentioned that the amount of protein required for an individual depends on several factors, including their goal, age, gender, age, height and weight. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for, but if you keep to the 3 points mentioned above when purchasing your whey protein shake you should be fine.

How to work out your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)

As a personal trainer, I’m often asked how many calories my clients should be eating every day to lose fat. To do this, we must first work out how many calories an individual requires to maintain their current weight. The Harris Bendict Formula, is the most accurate to date in my opinion.


Harris Benedict Formula

This is a calorie formula using the factors of height, weight, age, and sex to determine basal metabolic rate (BMR). This makes it more accurate than determining calorie needs based on total bodyweight alone. The only variable it does not take into consideration is the amount of lean body mass (muscle). Therefore, it will be very accurate in all but the extremely muscular (it will underestimate caloric needs) and the extremely over fat (it will overestimate caloric needs).

Men: BMR = 66 + (13.7 * weight in kg) + (5 * height in cm) – (6.8 * age)

Women: BMR = 655 + (9.6 * weight in kg) + (1.8 * height in cm) – (4.7 * age)

Note:   1 inch = 2.54 cm

1 kg = 2.2 lbs

1 stone = 14 lbs

For example, Tom is 41 years old, he’s 6’2” tall and weighs 14 stone and 6 lbs. Tom works as a painter and decorator but doesn’t go to the gym (we’ll see why his occupation and exercise regime is relevant soon).

Tom’s BMR = 655 + (13.7 * 91.6kg) + (5 * 188cm) – (6.8 * 41) = 2571

Now that we know Tom’s BMR, we can calculate Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) by multiplying the BMR by the activity multiplier below:


Activity Multiplier

Sedentary        BMR * 1.2       (little or no exercise, desk job)

Light active     BMR * 1.375   (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week)

Mod. active     BMR * 1.55     (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week)

Very active      BMR * 1.725   (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days/week)

Extra active     BMR * 1.9       (hard daily exercise/sports physical job)

As Tom works as a painter and decorator but isn’t a gym goer, I’m going to decide he’ll go into the moderate active group (activity factor 1.55).

Tom’s TDEE =  BMR * Activity Multiplier

2571 * 1.55 = 3985 calories/day


Another example, this time using a woman:

Jane is 27 years old, she’s 5’5” tall and weighs 8 stone and 8 lbs. Jane works as a sectary and goes to the gym 3 times a week.

Jane’s BMR = 655 + (9.6 * 54.4kg) + (1.8 * 165 cm) – (4.7 * 27) = 1347

I’m going to decide that Jane’s goes into the light active group (activity factor 1.375)

Jane’s TDEE =  BMR * Activity Multiplier

1347 * 1.375 = 1852 calories/day


The 3 Energy Systems

In this blog, I’ll try and describe the 3 energy systems and when they are used by our bodies. I did make a reference to the energy systems in my kettlebells blog.

Before we begin on the three energy systems, we need to understand what Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) is and where it comes from. ATP is our source of energy and it is produced with the energy provided by the macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats and proteins) we eat. ATP is stored within our own muscles.


Creatine phosphate system: immediate energy

For high intensity, low duration activities, such as sprinting, long jump, or shot putting, energy for muscular contraction is required quickly. This primarily supplied by intramuscular (within the muscle) stores (ATP) and creatine phosphate (CP). ATP stores are extremely limited and may only last for the first few seconds of exercise. Once these have been depleted, they can be almost immediately regenerated by the breakdown of creatine phosphate. This compound, like ATP, has a high energy bond, which when broken down will release enough energy to yield an ATP molecule. This chemical reaction is very rapid and like the ATP stores, CP stores are also very limited, thus exercise will only last for a very short period of time, approximately 5 – 8 seconds. In fact, it is noted that during a 100m sprint, lasting approximately 10 seconds, runners are usually slowing down in the final few seconds; unless he’s a freak like Usain Bolt!

As this system is derived exclusively from chemical energy stored within the muscles, the process requires no oxygen (anaerobic) and places no immediate demands on fat or carbohydrate stores. Depending on the intensity and duration of activity, the recovery period for this system ranges from 30 seconds to 4 minutes.


Lactate system

The lactate system can essentially bridge the gap between the aerobic and CP systems. It allows rapid ATP production to continue beyond the few seconds of the CP system, and at a rate significantly greater than the aerobic system can achieve. It can sustain exercise activity for between 60 – 180 seconds e.g. 400m on the track or 100m in the pool.

At some point, the build-up of fatiguing waste products associated with the lactate system reaches levels sufficient to bring about the familiar decline in performance and burning sensations associated with this type of intensity. Recovery from this type of activity can vary from 20 minutes to 2 hours depending on intensity and duration.


Aerobic system

Aerobic simply means ‘with oxygen’, and refers to the energy system that produces ATP from the complete breakdown of carbohydrate (CHO) and fat, in the presence of oxygen. The aerobic energy system is dominant during lower intensity activities when ATP demands are low and oxygen is relatively plentiful.

The aerobic system produces carbon dioxide, water and heat as by-products of the breakdown of CHO and fat. With an abundance of these nutrients in the body, there are almost no limits on the amounts of ATP that can be produced. There are, however, limits on the rate of aerobic ATP production. The individuals aerobic fitness now comes into play; the ability to take in, transport and utilise oxygen.

Assuming the absence of any overuse injury, the recovery time from this type of exercise will be the time taken to eat, drink and replenish fuel stores.

At rest or during very low intensity activity most aerobic energy is supplied by fat. As exercise demands increase and ATP is required more quickly, CHO will begin to contribute more to the activity.



Hopefully, this helps us understand why marathon runners or ultra-triathletes can keep going for hours on end but 100m sprinters can only last 10 seconds. I hope this blog wasn’t too bogged down with scientific terminology and the basic points about the three energy systems came through.