Five Questions to Ask When Choosing a New Gym

As we approach January, traditionally the time of year when people kick-start their fitness regimes and try to lose weight, many people will be considering their options when it comes to joining a gym.


There are many things to take into account when choosing the right gym.  Here are five things to think about:


  1. What support is provided by the staff?

If you are new to the gym or you have not been for a long time, it is very important you are given sufficient guidance – for both your safety and confidence.  Find out what the sign-up process involves:

  • Is there an induction?
  • Do you receive a free personal training session?
  • Will you be provided with a bespoke training programme?

In addition to getting the help and advice you need to be confident that the individuals providing it are sufficiently qualified and experienced.  In many gyms these services are provided by young coaches who are carrying out the work as part of their personal training rent to the gym.  In these instances, the individuals are not motivated to help you succeed unless you are going to pay for their coaching services on top of the membership.


  1. Does it have the equipment I need?

Most commercial gyms are designed to enable as many bodies on the gym floor as possible.  The simplest way to achieve this is to line up hundreds of cardiovascular machines.  For many people this is fine because that is the only form of exercise in the gym they feel comfortable performing.  However, for those looking to optimise their training results it is important to look at the strength training equipment provision as well.


Traditionally a commercial gym will have a small free weights area that is typically male-dominated and provides very few work stations in proportion to the number of members.  If you are interested in accelerating your health and body composition results by trying some well-programmed strength training then you should consider how many members the gym has and how many barbells, squat racks, benches etc.


  1. Do I feel safe and confident in the environment?

Some of the things to take into account:

  • Are the staff friendly and professional?
  • Does the gym get very busy?
  • What is the gym’s target demographic?

If you are not overly confident and you arrive to find a gym that is packed with members and staff that are not very attentive then you will likely not last long.


  1. What is the parking and changing situation?

These things are common barriers to attendance.  If you know you will struggle to find a parking space and/or you have to pay to park it will put you off.


If the changing rooms are dirty and busy all the time it may prevent you from training before work and it could be something that stops you from going entirely.


  1. Will I look forward to attending and adhere to my programme?

The biggest motivation is seeing progress.  If you have been provided with an effective training programme that you can execute well each time you attend the gym (because it is not too busy and you have been given all of the guidance you require) then you will quickly start seeing results.


If the staff and members are friendly and welcoming you will look forward to training.  If the facilities are clean and tidy and the changing rooms are pleasant to use you will be less likely to build up mental barriers about getting out of the house and to the gym.


These are just a few considerations when choosing a gym.  Although we are (obviously) biased, we believe we have created a facility in Chichester that ticks all of these boxes.  If you are interested in coming along for a look around then please contact us.

Get the Jump on Muscle Soreness Post Lockdown

When the gyms reopen in April (hopefully!) one of the first issues most people are going to face is DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) – pain to touch, contract or stretch your muscles which gets progressively worse for 24-48 hours post exercise and stays for up to 7 days.  DOMS is generally accepted to be the body’s response to the muscle damage and inflammation present following an unaccustomed bout of eccentric muscular contractions (i.e. your first gym session post lockdown!).  To clarify, eccentric muscular contractions occur when a muscle is lengthening while producing tension (e.g. during the lowering phase of a dumbbell curl or squat).


Why is this a problem?

A severe bout of DOMS will set your progress back by at least a week at a time when you are desperate to hit the ground running – the countdown to summer is already on and most people have just replaced their New Year post-Christmas health kick with a 3-month-long Netflix and takeaways binge!  Not only is exercising in the presence of DOMS uncomfortable, it will lead to significantly poorer workouts and increased injury risk due to the reduction in strength, power and range of motion and altered muscle recruitment patterns and coordination.


Why might you still experience DOMS even if you have been exercising during the lockdown?

There are people out there who managed to maintain a solid exercise regime throughout this lockdown period – congratulations if this is you!  While this regular exercise is fantastic for maintaining your health and preventing lockdown weight gain, it won’t necessarily prevent you from having the serious DOMS setback when you get back in the gym.


Many people have gravitated to different forms of exercise while the gyms have been closed due to a lack of equipment availability.  Exercise that does not include eccentric muscular contractions through a large range of motion with sufficient tension will not serve to prevent muscle soreness when you get back in the gym and under a bar for the first time.  So even if you have been very consistent with your walking, running, rowing, swimming, yoga etc., your muscles will still be unprepared for the way in which they will be challenged in the gym during your squats, deadlifts, bench presses etc.


What common treatments for DOMS are a waste of time?

Most of the ways in which people attempt to prevent or cure their DOMS are totally ineffective:

  • Stretching – The presence of DOMS temporarily reduces your muscles’ range of motion, leaving you feeling tight and immobile. It therefore seems logical that static stretching will help prevent or cure the soreness.  Not only will stretching fail to prevent DOMS after exercise, it can actually contribute to DOMS – the end range of a static stretch is actually an eccentric contraction as your muscle attempts to prevent further lengthening!  So, while static stretching for specific muscle groups at specific times for specific individuals can provide benefits, preventing or curing DOMS is not one of them.
  • Performing a cool down – One theory for the mechanism of DOMS is the presence of lactic acid. If this theory was correct then performing a slow aerobic cooldown to help pump metabolites out of your muscles after a workout would be effective.  However, the lactic acid theory has been disproved: not only do lactic acid levels return to normal much sooner after a workout than the peak onset of DOMS but studies have shown intense (lactic acid-producing) concentric muscle contractions do not produce the same levels of DOMS as similar exercise protocols consisting of eccentric muscle contractions.
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – While the use of NSAIDs has been shown to significantly reduce DOMS, it is not recommended. Primarily because chronic overuse of such drugs is associated with a number of adverse health effects, but also because there is evidence to suggest their use can impair the adaptive response to exercise (reduce gains in muscle size and strength).
  • Cryotherapy – The superficial application of ice and/or immersion in cold water has been shown to have no significant effect on DOMS and is also pretty unpleasant!


So, what should you do?

The only effective and recommended way to prevent/reduce the effects of DOMS from intense eccentric exercise is to perform more eccentric exercise beforehand!  Research has shown that a single bout of submaximal eccentric exercise will significantly reduce markers of muscle damage and DOMS from a maximal bout of eccentric exercise 2 weeks later!   The magnitude of this protective effect is in proportion to the magnitude of the muscle damage induced by the first bout of exercise.  Therefore, the most effective way to minimise the effects of DOMS are obviously to start with shorter lower intensity workouts and build up progressively.


The application of this research and advice to those of you returning to gym-based strength training in April is to perform several bouts of exercise at home to mimic what you will be doing in the gym as closely as possible.  The more muscle damage you can induce in these workouts, the less soreness you will experience when back in the gym.  However even much lower intensity eccentric contractions have been shown to have some effect so it is worth doing what you can even if you have no equipment whatsoever.


Keep things simple: choose three exercises for the lower body that will enable you to challenge your quads, hamstrings and glutes eccentrically (e.g. squats, lunges and Romanian deadlifts) and at least one push and one pull exercise for the upper body (e.g. press ups and inverted rows).  Even if you are an advanced lifter, one bout of 3 x 10 on each of these exercises with bodyweight resistance and a slow and controlled eccentric on every rep will be enough to reduce the DOMS in your first week back in the gym.  More sessions with more volume and/or more resistance will have a greater protective effect still.



Everybody wants to lose body fat at some point in their lives, and it can be incredibly frustrating for people to work so hard, seeming to do all the right things, yet still failing to achieve the lean physique they desire.


Unfortunately, the barrier for entry into the fitness industry is abysmally low and this has led to many so-called professionals touting myths and misconceptions surrounding the subject of fat loss which adds to the confusion.


Here are 7 of the most common myths surrounding the subject of fat loss.


Myth 1: Aim for higher reps when looking to cut body fat.

The problem with this paradigm is that training exclusively with higher reps, as you do in traditional classes and circuits (20+ reps) will provide little stimulus to the body, especially to the type 2 muscle fibres (which possess approximately a 50% greater capacity for growth than type 1).


When training our clients for transformations, we place a strong emphasis on developing muscle mass and strength through weight training by using multi joint compound exercises with greater loads. This includes exercises such as barbell squats and deadlift variations.  For optimal progress we like to train as heavy as form, technique and physical competence will allow whilst performing a wide variety of rep ranges. Simply performing higher reps with baby weights won’t cut it. The muscles will burn and you will get sweaty but little long lasting physiological changes will occur.


By avoiding heavier lifting when training for fat loss, you risk losing lean mass and slowing down your overall metabolic rate, which will reduce the number of calories your body burns in a resting state.


In fact, one of the best variables to track when on a fat loss protocol is strength. If you can maintain or build strength whilst the scales show a drop in weight, we know the diet and training structure is working, and it’s likely that you are maintaining muscle mass, which is essential for giving the body shape and keeping you healthy and your metabolism raring.


If strength takes a sudden hit and training looks lacklustre, we know that something isn’t quite right.  By emphasizing exercises with rep ranges of between 5 and 12 we can maximize the effectiveness of your training whilst keeping things varied and interesting.


Myth 2: Training on an empty stomach is optimal for fat loss.

Research has proven that training on an empty stomach has little to no effect on the amount of fat burned during a training session. From experience, having worked with hundreds of clients I have found that training on an empty stomach is more a matter of preference and is not necessary for optimal fat loss training. I have found that many people prefer fasted training particularly if they are prone to nausea, GI distress or if they are a typical early bird. It is generally more important to have the rest of your nutrition in a good place as irregular blood sugar levels and insulin resistance can lead to a massive dip in energy during sessions, which reduces the quality of training.


Whether you are training early morning or later in the day there are many pre-workout nutrition tips and tricks which can optimize your progress and this is something we tailor to our clients and at the times which best suit their schedule and lifestyle.


Myth 3: Training more frequently is more effective for fat loss.

If training 4 times per week is good for fat loss then training twice per day, every day is better right?


In the hopes of accelerating their results, many people fall into the trap of working themselves into the ground to get the body they want. Training hard every single day, sometimes twice per day can seem attractive if you are looking for fast results but often this can be counterproductive.


What we see so often with the clients we deal with is that if you don’t tailor training frequency, type and volume to a person’s daily life then they often set themselves up for failure.  Our body has a finite capacity to recover and adapt to stress. If we train too much, too often with too little fuel and with added stress such as a busy work schedule and a disturbed sleeping pattern, our bodies will usually tell us in one way or another that we’ve gone too far.


If this sounds like you, you probably need to pull back a little. Inability to sleep, depression, low energy and lack of drive are common signs. A training regime that is too difficult and unsustainable will cause you to revert back to your old ways and lose any progress made. You must enjoy what you do!


The majority of people would do really well to train with solid intensity, structure and progression a total of 4 times per week.  However, it is important to take into account individual circumstances:  some people will do better with less training and some with more.


Myth 4: Perform Cardio before you train with weights.

Many people like to hop on the treadmill or cross trainer before they hit the weights and this can be counterproductive for your fat loss goals


Doing a tonne of cardio before hitting the weights will always negatively affect your ability to lift weights optimally.  Higher levels of lactate and Co2 in the blood stream inhibit your muscles’ ability to contract and produce force and this will lead to an inability to optimize the amount of lean mass you are able to build or maintain


In an ideal world, splitting resistance style training and traditional cardio training would be best. For those constrained by time always get your resistance work in first and try to limit the length of your training to 75 minutes or less. Any longer and I would question the intensity of your training.


Myth 5: Direct ab training will give you a sculpted stomach

This is one of the most perpetual myths out there. It is often exaggerated by the fact many class instructors love to give their customers tonnes of sit ups, planks and crunches as it really feels like you are targeting your abs when working out.  This is unfortunately a mistake and takes a lot of time and focus away from more productive training.


The real truth lies in how effective your diet and nutrition are both in terms of calories and macronutrients but also adapting your diet to reduce bloating and water retention.  It has been proven countless times that direct training to a muscle group will not lead to a spot reduction in fat at that site. It is entirely psychological, which is why we always take time to educate and guide our clients so that they have the knowledge and tools to make good decisions with their training and nutrition.


Myth 6: Longer aerobic cardio is most effective for fat loss.

There seems to be a persistent myth surrounding the idea that shorter duration cardio training is less effective for fat loss. There seems to be this idea that there is a particular magical heart rate zone where you burn more body fat (typically believed to be between 60 and 70% max heart rate). Some studies which appear to support this notion have actually been misinterpreted as your body does in fact burn a greater PERCENTAGE of fat at lower intensities but in fact burns fewer total calories.  Most people would do better to perform more sprint or interval-based training where you are working at higher heart rates but for drastically shorter periods of time.  There is however a limit to how much sprint-based training you can do as it can take longer to recover from so it is generally best to blend a little of the two types of training and gravitate towards what you enjoy the most.


The same can be said for the mode of cardiovascular exercise.  You don’t have to be a slave to the treadmill or bike.  Keeping your training varied and interesting can be very important to adherence.  Without adherence it doesn’t matter how brilliant your training programme is, it won’t work!  This is one reason why we have such a wide range of different kit in the functional training area of our Chichester gym – prowlers, sleds, battle ropes, farmer’s carry handles, kettlebells, power bags etc.


If you would like to work alongside industry leading fitness professionals who can tailor a bespoke and individual programme to suit your fat loss goals then please feel free to email us at [email protected].uk.





Beware the bad coaching and poor programming: Why training is superior to exercise

People who seem to make the most progress in the gym or in their exercise regime always seem to follow a plan or structured routine. Training should always aim to specifically improve your body through overload and progression.  Whether that is improving the ability of your body to handle stress, to resist fatigue, generate more force, build more muscle etc.  After all, that’s how we look and feel better, we improve ourselves!


For those people who seem to always struggle with their weight loss or fitness goals, I’ve generally observed that they fail to follow a plan of any kind and instead rely on a real mix of random exercise. Monday could be a 5km run, Wednesday an “Insanity” class and Friday could be a body pump class with the odd weights session thrown in with a mix of exercises (with varying rep ranges, tempos and recovery times). This is great to burn some extra calories but it is certainly not optimal from a results-driven standpoint.


Most people seem to gauge the effectiveness of a workout by how sweaty or how out of breath they are, but any fool can get you to perform 100 burpees and get you dripping with sweat.  I can say for an absolute fact that 90% of the trainers we see out there show no regard for structural balance, posture, mechanics or appropriate progression in their programming. Most of their exercise routines are made up of what they’ve seen on the internet that week (i.e. what’s different or trending), and they’re constantly changing the exercises in an effort to keep their client entertained.  Personal trainers in conventional commercial gyms also typically choose exercises based upon what equipment is free in their busy gym and what requires minimum set up and fuss, with little forward planning.


The unfortunate goal for many instructors is to make you as tired and exhausted as possible in order to make you feel like you’ve had a good workout.  The absolute worst instructors are the ones who take pride in the fact that they made their client throw up.  They record none of your progress and every single workout or class is completely different. One minute you are performing singles on a deadlift and the next you are clean and jerking 40kg for 100 reps. If your coach is like this, then get rid of him/her and get yourself somebody who actually wants to see you succeed and knows what they are doing.  It should be noted that exercise variety is important to many people to increase adherence to an exercise regime, however too much variation for the sake of variation will significantly decrease your chances of achieving long term improvements and success.


Proper training should always improve your posture, your mechanics, your strength, your endurance etc. all whilst keeping you injury free and working towards your specific goal, be it fat loss, muscle gain or a faster marathon time.  A good training programme should also take into account your lifestyle. For example if you can only train very early in the morning then exercises which directly and heavily load the spine may have to be adjusted to account for increased hydration of your intervertebral discs at that time of day, and if you haven’t been able to eat for hours, an intense metcon session is probably not a good idea.  A good coach should always be able to justify a particular exercise and explain their rationale for what they are making you do.


Although there is much to be said for “in-the-trenches experience”, much of your training should be evidence-based and supported by some level of research.  Deciding that you are going to do tabata burpees (usually involving collapsed knees, awkward lumbar hyperextension, and excessive jarring forces to the wrists, elbows and shoulder) followed by a ton of press ups (with collapsed shoulders and sunken hips) is a common yet poor practise in the world of fitness because it is easy to programme and it feels hard to the client.


When approaching or considering a coach, do not be afraid to ask questions or challenge why they have recommended something to you. If they do not know the answer and are not willing to go and find you an answer then do yourself a favour and find somebody else.


Entry into the fitness industry is incredibly easy.  Qualifications and intellectual requirements are minimal.  Most trainers with these entry-level qualifications last a year or two before changing careers, so look to see the guys who have been doing it for years.  Success always leaves clues and this is one of the reasons we take great pride in our work here at Elitas.  You wouldn’t go to see a dodgy doctor for your health concerns so why should you trust a dodgy trainer with your body?



The Importance of Glute Activation

Strong and properly functioning glutes will serve to improve your performance in any activity involving hip extension (e.g. squatting, deadlifting, running and jumping) and help prevent pain and injury from occurring to the knees and lower back.


The gluteal muscles are made up of three separate muscles that make up your butt!  These muscles are:

  • Gluteus Maximus
  • Gluteus Medius
  • Gluteus Minimus

Physiologically, the gluteus maximus is the strongest muscle in the human body!


The primary functions of the gluteal muscles are to:

  • Abduct the hip
  • Extend the hip
  • Externally rotate the hip

They also play an important role in stabilising the sacroiliac joints.


Why is glute activation typically a problem for people?

Most people spend a huge proportion of their time in a position of hip flexion (sitting down).  An inactive lifestyle is a sure-fire way to create glute dysfunction.  Extended periods of time in this posture over the long term will lead to negative adaptations in the hip flexor muscles.

Shortened hip flexors don’t allow for full hip extension, which is where your glutes are able to contract with the most force.  Additionally, being an antagonistic pair, short and tight hip flexors will actually inhibit your glutes.  The actual physical compression associated with sitting on your gluteus maximus will also impair blood flow and neuromuscular function.

Another reason the gluteus maximus has a tendency to shut down is because this can be easily enabled by the body through compensation patterns.  Most compound lower body movements can be performed by overworking other muscle groups: squats using the spinal erectors and quadriceps, and deadlifts using the spinal erectors and hamstrings.  If you often experience hamstring cramp or lower back discomfort when performing simple glute bridges then this is you!

When we begin working with a new client for the first time, glute function is one of the very first things we address and almost always we find issues.  We have to address the issue of glute activation by utilising specific exercises, stretching out the hip flexors and teaching effective mental cues.


How does a weak gluteus medius cause back pain?

When you are walking or running, as you plant your left foot your left gluteus medius is responsible for controlling the height and stability of the right side of your pelvis.  If this muscle is weak and not functioning correctly, the right side of the pelvis will dip, causing side-bending of the lumbar spine, resulting in compression of the left side facet joints and intervertebral discs.  Over time, many repetitions of this pattern can lead to damage to structures and chronic pain.

In the same scenario, the body can try to compensate for the weak gluteus medius by over-working the quadratus lumborum muscle of the opposite side.  This means when planting the left foot the weak left gluteus medius causes the right quadratus lumborum (muscle to the side of the lower back) to tug upwards on the right side of the pelvis to stabilise the lumbar spine.  This pattern of compensation will eventually lead to shortening of the muscle, resulting in trigger points and pain.


How to address weak and dysfunctional glutes?

It is important for most people to perform hip flexor stretches and glute activation exercises as frequently as possible, especially prior to exercise.

Two important static hip flexor stretches:

  • Half-kneeling hip flexor stretch

Statically contract the glutes on the side that you are stretching

  • “Sofa stretch” for the rectus femoris

Flexion at the knee targets the hip flexor that crosses both joints.  Statically contract the glutes on the side that you are stretching 


Five important glute activation exercises:

  • Double-leg glute bridge

Do not hyperextend the lumbar spine

  • Side lying hip abductions

Do not let the pelvis roll backwards

  • Side lying clams

Do not let the pelvis roll backwards

  • Quadruped bent leg hip extension

Flex and extend from the hip.  Keep the lumbar spine neutral throughout

  • Monster walks

Forwards, backwards and side-to-side walks with a strong glute band around the knees

Adding a strong and high quality glute band to any double-leg lower body compound exercise in your warm up will serve to increase the activation of your gluteus medius.  Here is a link to the product we use with our clients at Elitas.

Two Fitness Myths Which Must Die!

1)      Muscle turns to fat once you get older.


This one really grinds my gears and a little piece of me dies whenever I am confronted by somebody asking me whether I worry that my muscle will turn to fat once I get older.  Muscle turning to fat is akin to plastic turning to diamond, it just can’t happen!


What’s that I hear? “But David, I know many guys who have gained lots of body fat once they got older. They were once muscular and now they are fat. Surely it must be true”?


The most common reason why this occurs is that most muscular athletes such as rugby players, bodybuilders, powerlifters, rowers, track cyclists etc. consume large quantities of calories.  In some cases this can exceed 8,000kcal per day.  If you have been eating that way for many years and train 2-3 times per day and then retire, cut back the training volume and move less, guess what? Those habits you formed consisting of slamming back heaps of meat, potatoes and energy drinks continue into later life and you are subjected to fat gain, just like anybody consuming more calories than they expend.


Muscle is an extremely metabolically demanding tissue, so if you are smart about what you eat, this should actually contribute to fat loss as you age and not fat gain.  One of the biggest reasons for a decline in general health and metabolic health with age is the decline in muscle. The cure? Get lifting some weights!  You will live longer whilst looking sexier!



2)      Women get too bulky if they lift weights.


Aaargh! This is single handedly the worst statement ever to afflict humanity (well nearly…).  Many a time here at Elitas we have held our heads in despair as we listen to female clients telling us how they don’t want legs the size of tree trunks, traps so big they have no neck and biceps twice the size of their husbands’.


Now, before I explain this one there will be may of you saying…

“But my friend Helga, the shot-putting Lithuanian, now looks like a world strongest man competitor after she started going to the gym twice per week”, or “I started squatting and now I can’t fit into a size 2  dress anymore”.




Before I rant on, it is fair to say that women do and will gain a little muscle mass from the correct type of training and nutritional strategies required for hypertrophy. In fact, this increase in muscle mass is incredibly important for health.


A reasonable amount of muscle mass for a woman to gain whist raining 3-4 times per week could be 4-6lbs in the first year, which sounds like a lot, but it is not when you put this into perspective. If you take 6lbs of fillet steak (basically muscle) and were to evenly divide and stretch it out over your entire body you would probably notice very little difference, particularly when you consider that 6lbs of muscle would theoretically burn an extra 300kcal per day (on top of the calories expending actually training those muscles).  It is therefore reasonable to say that the average woman, who gained 6lb of muscle over the course of 6-12 months and had an average amount of body fat, would actually lose weight.


To build muscle you need to achieve some sort of mid to long-term calorie surplus. If your diet reflects that of the average middle aged Instagram yoga mum consisting of hummus, birch water and Special K, and you are dieting in a calorie deficit, you just cannot expect to see any kind of significant muscle gain. If you feel you are getting too big, you are either just eating too many calories or your perception of yourself is skewed or altered by that of another person’s comments or your own perception of how you should look (another post to come on this soon).


Go into any commercial gym and you will find a load of guys training every day, pumping weights and struggling to gain any significant muscle mass.  These guys have literally 10 x as many anabolic hormones as the average woman yet they still struggle to gain muscle mass despite a tremendous amount of work and commitment to their training and nutrition. In fact if men could gain muscle mass as quickly as most women feel they could gain muscle, then all men would be walking around looking like the love child of the Incredible Hulk and Arnold Schwarzenegger!!


For those very few women who legitimately do carry significantly more muscle mass than average, they almost certainly fit one of more of the following criteria:


  • Have high levels of body fat which make them appear even more muscular. This is especially true in sportswomen competing in strength and power events in which excess body mass has no detrimental effect (e.g. throwing events or weightlifting/powerlifting events with no upper bodyweight limit).
  • Are taking anabolic steroids or medications which accelerate muscle mass.
  • Naturally have a larger frame and were always more muscular than usual.  This minority respond really well to resistance training and look fantastic as long as they keep their body fat levels in check!


It is important to remember that the top female strength and power athletes you see on the television are not a valid reflection of the effects of weight training in women.  The ladies you see competing in the Olympics in the shot put are right up in the top percentile of genetic predisposition for being big and strong.  Performing heavy strength training, throwing heavy objects and consuming a large number of calories is also a full time job for them.  Increasing your protein intake while maintaining a healthy daily caloric intake and performing 3 well-balanced weight training sessions each week will not turn you into an Olympic shot putter!


Women who lift regularly:


  • Look amazing
  • Feel great
  • Feel strong and independent
  • Feel healthy and mobile later in life
  • Handle insulin better and have better insulin sensitivity (possibly the most important factor in disease prevention of all kinds)
  • Hold a sense of accomplishment. This idea that Women are helpless and need a man to do all the lifting and heavy work is utter bull crap! We have multiple female athletes and everyday women who can perform 10+ pull ups, deadlift up to 2x their bodyweight and push 150kg Prowlers at bodyweights under 60kg.








Top 20 Things I Wish I Knew When I First Started Training (Part 3)

Volume 11 – 15


11) Stop chasing the rainbow!

“I’ll be happy when…

…I have a six-pack

…I can bench more than my mates

…I am a size 10

…I am skinny.”  The list goes on.


Trust me when I say most people will never be truly happy when it comes to their physique, regardless of the level of their success. The same is often true in business and personal finance.  We always want more, it is in our nature as human beings


Take some of the best physique competitors, athletes or models in the world and ask them to criticise an area of their body and you will always find an answer.  Be the best that you can be, and always regard your health and happiness as your number one priority. Getting strong, feeling great and being happy should always be the goal!  If your goal is to impress others by how you look, then you are doing it for the wrong reasons.  Do it for you and nobody else!


12) Most fitness classes are poorly structured

Unfortunately many instructors design or structure group workouts and classes with theatrics in mind – “what is going to appeal to prospective clients?”.  Chuck a drill sergeant-type instructor into a fitness studio with thumping music and flashing lights with loads of wacky dance moves and explosive jumping and you’ll draw the crowd, but often classes such as body combat, Zumba and circuits are put together with no regard for structural balance, mechanics or to a person’s individual needs and injury limitations.


Although there are certainly good instructors out there, they are few and far between. Forcing immobile office workers with poor posture, mobility and movement quality to jump up and down and perform loads of push ups, box jumps and burpees is excellent for getting them sweaty and out of breath, but not for training longevity.


A smart workout should always address your limitations and weak points whilst addressing your goals and 90% of all exercise classes fail to achieve this.


13) If you follow the: “I will start over on a Monday crowd”, you will almost definitely fail.

In my many years working in the fitness industry I have lost count of the amount of people who have almost broken down in tears, telling me how unhappy they are with their body and their health. They seem at their wits’ end and promise me that they would be willing to travel to the ends of the earth just to achieve their goals. I completely sympathise, as I totally appreciate how hard it is to stay lean and healthy in today’s world of fast food, long working hours and never-ending stress.


It does however completely baffle me that people will have a complete blow-out at the weekend after making such promises, promising themselves that they will start on the Monday; following some misguided misbelief that Monday is a mysteriously magical day.  If it is important and it matters to you, START RIGHT NOW!  You cannot claim to want something really badly and then not be willing to change right now!


If right now does not work for you, start on a Saturday. Having a couple of days off work allows you to train, shop for food and plan. Scrambling about on a Monday morning when you are late for work, searching for your gym gear and having no time to prep for food is just a recipe for failure.


14) Prowler and sled workouts are the absolute granddaddy of fat loss!

Fancy plodding along on a treadmill for an hour everyday? Cross trainer for 90 minutes?  No thank you I would rather bathe in raw sewage!


The solution: Try loading up a prowler or sled with 100kg+ and pushing hard for bouts of around 40-60 seconds. This builds strength whilst putting the least amount of strain on your joints compared to traditional cardio. There is no eccentric loading so you can’t really get sore, and we’ve had individuals with severe hip, back and knee problems get a good workout in whilst working hard with no aggravation.  The prowler in particular builds real world mental toughness, works the often-neglected glutes hard and works your lungs to the point of exhaustion whilst heavily taxing your metabolic systems, which are so crucial for blood glucose management. The minimal time investment of sled/prowler sprints over long-term aerobic exercise is another big win!


15) The deadlift has the greatest total impact on your recovery.

Nothing stalls your strength training progress quicker than absolute maximal deadlifting.   If you train the deadlift more than once per week and then aim for a PB every time, you will stall very quickly in nearly all of your lifts. Due to the huge demands on your central nervous system you will quickly burn out and you risk serious injury. It is best to max out on a 1RM no more than 2-3 times per year as an advanced athlete and never train to failure.  Always leave at least one rep in the tank unless you are performing the odd, infrequent test. Training in the 80-90% 1RM category works well!


On the flip side I don’t like deadlifting for more than 10 reps with any appreciable loads. These Crossfit workouts involving 50 deadlifts in quick succession are a sure-fire way of wearing your intervertebral discs down as fatigue alters your technique.  1-6 reps is the sweet spot!


In my experience, deadlifts can be the very best and very worst exercise for you, so it is important to implement them intelligently. This is where a good coach with a high level of experience is warranted!


If you would like any assistance from us in getting stronger, fitter and leaner then please contact us on [email protected].  We have two gyms in Chichester, West Sussex.  We currently help everyone from professional athletes to individuals in their 70s and above and those with disabilities.


Our clients’ goals range from simple weight loss to ultra-distance marathon training.  Our membership gym is in Oaklands Park and our private personal training gym can be found in the City Business Centre, Basin Road.




Top 20 Things I Wish I Knew When I First Started Training (Part 2)

Volume 6 – 10


6) Don’t aim for a PB each time you train.

Looking to set a new 1RM every workout is a very quick way to burnout. Central nervous system fatigue from a maximal lift (particularly for an advanced trainee) can have some very profound effects. I personally found that after a true 1RM deadlift (particularly once I was lifting significantly above 200kg) would leave me feeling slow, depressed and lethargic for days. I used to scoff at articles suggesting such issues but I certainly learnt the hard way.    You’re strength will diminish after training above 95% for several consecutive sessions anyway so at the very least it is a waste of time.


7) All cheap supermarket supplements are complete crap

Dodgy labelling, poorly absorbed ingredients and questionable contents and dosages make these a complete waste of time. Your money would be better spent sending it to that African prince you hear from who needs £10,000 to release £1 million in bonds and investments to you.


8) Stop taking calcium for your bone health

Unless you have been recommended by a medically trained professional, taking calcium is at best a waste of time. Worst case scenario (particularly so for older men) is an increased risk of heart attack. People are very rarely deficient in calcium unless they have absorption issues. Magnesium, vitamin k2 and vitamin D are far more important for bone health!


9) Carbohydrates should be earnt

Justifying eating an entire pizza and an entire tub of ice cream just because you burnt 600kal in your morning spin class is a joke. 600kcal would equate to around 150g of carbs. Half a bowl of rice would equate to that in itself so stop overestimating your requirements.


10) Stop kidding yourself that women are impressed with your bench press and deadlift PB

We live in a Justin Bieber/ One Direction-loving world so most women couldn’t give a flying monkeys as to how much you lift.  Be it 50kg or 500kg. I’ve lost count of the number of women have seen a topless Eddie Hall or Phil heath and have remarked their disgust.  Stop acting like a numpty in the free weights section with your tank top and low cut muscle vest and just accept the fact that you are lifting to impress the “Bros”. Get strong for yourself and nobody else!


If you would like any assistance from us in getting stronger, fitter and leaner then please contact us on [email protected].  We have two gyms in Chichester, West Sussex.  We currently help everyone from professional athletes to individuals in their 70s and above and those with disabilities.  Our membership gym is in Oaklands Park and our private personal training gym can be found in the City Business Centre, Basin Road (both are walking distance from Chichester city centre).

Top 20 Things I Wish I Knew When I First Started Training (Part 1)

Volume 1 – 5


1)     To gain muscle you need some extra calories but not as much as you think.  A surplus of 250-500kcal is about as much as you will require to optimise muscle gain whilst preventing fat gain. These 8,000kcal a day diets you see in Men’s fitness magazines are for extreme athletes with crazy training volume, genetic super-freaks and/or those taking performance enhancing drugs. Eating endless calories in a bid to get big and strong whilst regarding any increase in scale weight as a good thing is a quick shortcut to getting fat, unfit and sick!


2)     All the best supplements for muscle gain and fat loss are generally not the ones heavily marketed to us.    Vitamin D, Zinc, Magnesium and Omega 3 fall by the way side and instead we hear about “Ripped Freak”, “Grenade”, “Extreme Mass” or any other of the latest and greatest.  The aforementioned staple nutrients are far more beneficial for your long-term goals than 90% of the trash supplements which are sold today and they are solidly backed by science.


3)     Don’t lift to failure on every set.  This is just a sure fire way to injure yourself and impede recovery from every session. Despite what the magazines say, training to muscular failure is not an essential for hypertrophy, particularly for entry-level athletes.


4)     There is no such thing as a fattening food or fat burning food. These are marketing terms used to lure unsuspecting consumers. What matters is your energy balance – caloric surplus or deficit. Yes, certain foods can promote more fat gain but usually it is because you eat too much of those foods for your calorie requirements and/or disregard other food groups as you are filling up on the wrong ones.


5)     Stop worrying about endless isolation exercises at the end of your workouts. Performing a tonne of curls, Pec flyes and triceps pushdowns whilst disregarding the big compound movements are a big mistake. Yes, multiple sets of varying incline curls, Crucifix curls and preacher curls seem sexy and exciting but nothing yields big time results like pull ups, dips, deadlifts and squats.    Stop posing in the mirror and start pushing yourself with the big, hard lifts.


If you would like any assistance from us in getting stronger, fitter and leaner then please contact us on [email protected].  We have two gyms in Chichester, West Sussex.  We currently help everyone from professional athletes to individuals in their 70s and above and those with disabilities.  Our membership gym is in Oaklands Park and our private personal training gym can be found in the City Business Centre, Basin Road.

Why Elitas Fitness Oaklands is the Best Gym in Chichester Part 2

In part 2 of our blog series explaining why Elitas Fitness Oaklands is the best membership gym in Chichester, we are continuing to focus on equipment provision.


As mentioned in part 1, we have a whole host of cable stations and selectorised machines.  They permit a huge degree of versatility in upper body training.  When ordering these machines we specified that every weight stack be equipped with two micro adjusters, each weighing one third the weight of an individual plate.  This means that on every weight stack in our gym there are two increments in between every weight plate, which is particularly useful for progression when performing less mechanically favourable exercises (i.e. exercises requiring only light weights).  For example, if you are performing a cable external shoulder rotation with two plates, in order to increase the load in most gyms you must make a 50% jump in weight to reach the third plate.  However, at Elitas Fitness Oaklands there are two intermediate weights to progress onto before going for the third plate.  Enabling people to progress in this way makes a huge difference to training results.


Our Watson Dumbbells

Our Watson Dumbbells


When choosing our gym equipment, one of the first things on our list was a set of Watson dumbbells.  Not all dumbbells are created equal, and these are the best of the best.  They are the most comfortable dumbbells to use: the knurling on the grip is coarse enough to optimise your performance but not sharp enough to cause damage to your hands.  They are also far smaller than other dumbbells when matched for weight, meaning you will never be limited by the size and awkwardness of your dumbbell.  The smaller size also permits you a much greater range of motion on certain exercises, which can really accelerate muscle growth while improving long term joint health.  These dumbbells are also calibrated to within a gram of their supposed weight.  I have worked in a gym in the past where a “40kg” dumbbell was actually heavier than a “42.5kg” dumbbell!  Due to their design, it is also impossible for Watson dumbbells to become loose or come apart, so you will never be tightening your dumbbells up in between sets or worrying about anything falling on your head while lifting!


Our entire gym floor area is covered with dense 12mm thick rubber matting.  This means you can drop dumbbells, deadlift and even perform Olympic lifts in any available space.  Underneath the dense rubber is a solid concrete floor, which means the surface is all flat and even.  Most gym floors suffer from dents and holes from dropped weights, meaning you can be squatting with one foot lower than the other or trying to deadlift with a bar that keeps rolling away from you.


England Rugby Team

England Rugby Team


We are not solely about weight training.  We also have a conditioning section consisting of Wattbikes and a Concept 2 rowing machine.  These are, in our opinion, the two most effective indoor conditioning tools available.  Wattbikes are the chosen indoor training tool for most of the world’s top cycling federations, as well as the top teams and athletes from other sports, such as the England rugby team.  They are second to none when it comes to the accuracy and reliability of the data they produce; whether you are measuring your peak power output or assessing left leg/right leg discrepancy following an injury.  We have achieved such outstanding fat loss results with clients at our personal training facility that Wattbikes were a must for our Chichester membership gym.


Wattbikes at Elitas

Wattbikes at Elitas


We have also included a number of specialist pieces of equipment and accessories that you will struggle to find anywhere else.  We have 14 separate pull-up stations, each of which provides a number of different grip positions.  A variety of pull-up grips is essential to optimise development of your upper back and elbow flexors.  Five of our pull-up stations are also two inches thick, which is great for developing grip and forearm strength: excellent for grappling sports such as BJJ and rugby.  Our adjustable pull-up handles, which double up as a dip station, also rotate freely.  This allows you to supinate your hands as you pull, enhancing recruitment of the biceps brachii and reducing the chance of developing over-use injuries at the elbow and shoulder.


Pull Up Bars

Pull Up Bars


Adding to the versatility of our gym, we possess the widest range of cable attachments possible: multiple width lat pulldown bars, a number of different cable row attachments, rotating triceps pushdown handles and many more.  We have also purchased multiple of the most popular attachments (ropes and single handles) to minimise the chance you will have to wait for anything in our gym.


Another often overlooked component of any gym is the variety of different bars.  We have two Eleiko Olympic weightlifting bars with perfect grip, oscillation and spin if you are serious about your weightlifting.  We also have two Eleiko powerlifting bars, with a much deeper knurling for a stronger grip.  These will never bend out of shape from heavy lifting!  We know how important variety is so we also have a safety bar and a trap bar from Watson.  These add variety to your squat and deadlift and the safety bar enables you to squat with upper body injuries.  It is also more comfortable to perform certain assistance exercises with, such as good mornings.


Eleiko Barbell

Eleiko Barbell


With all of this fancy gym equipment, it is easy to overlook the absolute basics; however, we know how important these are to your training experience.  We have more than enough barbell collars (along with a mountain of spares!) and every rack has a full set of weight plates, so you will never have to waste time hunting around the gym only to find someone has then stolen your bar!  We have provided weight plates going down into increments as small as 0.5kg, so you can always select the exact weight you need and make tiny jumps.  We also have a good provision of boxes and steps: these seemingly insignificant additions permit endless variations of barbell movements as well as enabling the vertically challenged to reach the chin up bars!


Our Watson Trap Bar

Our Watson Trap Bar


Our gym was set up by experienced strength and conditioning coaches who all happen to be gym rats themselves.  It was not set up by men in suits.  Our insight into what is important and what is normally neglected has enabled us to put together the perfect facility for effective training.


Part 3 is coming soon, where I will continue to show you what makes this the best gym in Chichester.


If you would like to come in for a chat about training then please contact us on [email protected] or 01243 920536.