10 May 2019

Weight lifting or cardio training first?

weights or cardio first

We get asked this all the time and our answer is the same: it depends on your goals, and here’s why:

If you are a regular gym goer with the aim of general keep fit, staying strong and beating the bulge then it is probable like 99% of other gym goers you will want to incorporate both lifting and cardio training into your workouts.

If you do a cardio session whether it’s a steady state or interval type session you will tire; you will have used up some energy stores. If in the same session you then want to perform some lifts, you may find your strength is depleted and/or your form is poor.

Alternatively, if you started your workout with a weight lifting session your muscles will be exhausted, having been trained to or close to failure and the chances of you pushing out any good cardio training next is unlikely.

So, the overriding answer to the conundrum depends on what you value as important in your own training and you may find it most beneficial to alternate sessions with one starting with cardio and the other weight lifting. In terms of science, recent studies have shown that the most cardio gain is to be had if placed before the strength training component of a mixed workout.

The same does not apply for those with less general goals: If you want to bulk then definitely put the strength before the cardio and perhaps consider interval/HIIT training over steady state cardio when it comes to it (but don’t forget it!). For long distance runners the cardio sessions need to take precedence however it is a good idea to have a couple of dedicated strength sessions pw to add to your long distance running as it is likely you will have run out of time or energy to add anything useful after a session.

9 April 2019

To eat workout calories back or not?

workout caloriesSo you’ve put some effort in calculating your macro nutrient requirement (macros) and you know how much you are burning in your workouts. Chances are you are looking to generate a small daily deficit in order to shift a few pounds, or you are aiming to avoid over eating. If you want help or more advice with this step please call any of our Brighton and Hove personal trainers

Your workouts will give you a few hundred calories per day to hypothetically consume (assuming they were not part of the initial calories in/out calculation). This would hold your calorie deficit at the same level that you calculated…. meaning that you could eat these calories back and still reach your goals in the same period of time.

Reasons that you should eat these calories back:

  • If your calculated macro deficit is close to 500kcals/day. Adding this deficit to the ones lost during your workout multiple times per week could put you at risk of reducing your metabolic rate (when the body senses it does not have sufficient fuel it makes changes to conserve energy such as a reduction in metabolic rate)
  • If you are hungry. All hunger is not the same! But all hunger is generated because your body is warning you its low on fuel. Hunger can be a useful tool to manipulate hormone levels that perceive levels of satiety (a key tool used in intermittent fasting), however assuming you are not fasting you should respond to your hunger signals and eat something.

On the other hand…..you may want to reconsider not eating workout calories back because studies have shown that it is common to overestimate calorie burn and underestimate calorie consumption so your calculated deficit may not be accurate.

It really comes down to what your goal is, how hard and long you are exercising for and how good your macro calculation is.

23 March 2018

Brightonfit personal trainer workouts

Ever wondered what kind of workouts we do? Well the answer is we do all of the workouts we ask you to do! Otherwise how would we know what to ask of you and where the difficult sections were and how to coach you through and design a balanced program?

This Brighton personal training session is designed for intermediates. It should take you about 45mins and some of the exercises use a weight (ball, kettlebell or dumbell), you should be able to perform this at home, in a park or your gym.

The session is split into 3 x 15 minute sections. Each section contains 5 exercises. You should aim to complete each exercise 10 times each side (ie split jacks) or 20 time if using both sides of your body together (ie a box jump). You must not rest between exercises and when you get to the end of the first 5 you rest for up to 60 seconds before repeating 4 more times. That will be the end of the first section and you may rest for up to 3 minutes before repeating the same format for the second and third section.

This is a fast paced session, each exercise must be performed with the focus on form, power and speed with the goal of keeping your heart rate as high as you can for as long as you can whilst maintaining form.

The explosive exercises (tucks, jacks, jumps, squats and thrusts) are very important to make sure you are really jumping/pushing hard and fast in combination. These are the plyometric sections of the workout and improve the power capacity of your muscles in a slightly different way to some of the pure strength based ones.

This workout can be repeated as often as you like. Remember not to train on sore muscles. You will develop lean muscle and burn excess fat very effectively training like this, but remember even as personal trainers doing these sessions we don’t rely on just one type of training and we mix these sessions up with running in Brighton and Hove, pure strength training and training specifically for the sports we play and recommend that you do the same. Watch this blog for more training sessions.

Click on the photo below for a link to a bigger image you can print out if you like.

Let us know how it goes….any questions, get in touch.

brightonfit personal trainer workout

5 March 2018

Make the most of your time in the gym

brighton personal trainers


When the weather is bad it’s a great time to bank some sessions at the gym. But it can be difficult without a goal or program to follow to know where to start. If you’re only hitting the gym 2 or 3 times a week this is what you should be aiming to cover at the end of each week:

  • Try to move all of your joints through all degrees of freedom. This is a fancy way of saying that you should mobilise your joints in all directions. So for example a hip joint is a ball and socket; it moves forwards, backwards, left and right but it can also pivot clockwise and anti clockwise AND you can combine by say moving it left and back and anticlockwise!!
  • As well as mobility training be sure to include Strength, Cardiovascular fitness/explosive training, Flexibility and Speed/agility/coordination work

As Brighton personal trainers we would recommend you aim to train more than 2-3 times each week in which case you could probably start splitting the sessions up quite nicely and still get everything covered each week but if you’re only hitting the gym on the weekend you may need to get everything in on each session.

We like high paced, explosive and weighted circuits to achieve this; you will need to have a think before you dive in and make sure that your exercise selection taxes the body’s musculature in a balanced way. A good way to do this is pick 5 exercise’s and repeat them 8-20 times (depending on the exercise) without stopping, then repeat these 5 exercises in the same order 4 more times. Then take a short break and select 5 more exercises and do the same and repeat this for as many times as you can.

If you are super fit and can keep this going for over an hour you should be able to fit in 5 circuits with at least 2 plyometric exercises in each circuit and a 2 heavy weighted exercises plus one body weight exercise.

If you are a beginner start with one circuit and stick to body weight exercises focusing on getting the techniques correct. You may find a few sessions of personal training in Brighton a help to begin with.

If you know what you are doing and are an intermediate then aim for 45 mins for this keeping your heart rate as high as you can and resting for as little as possible. You should be able to fit 3 or 4 of these in.

The next blog will give you a few examples of these types of circuits

10 July 2017

How to train in hot weather

brightonfit training in hot weather

There are a number of reasons why you might want to train outside in 30+ degree heat. Firstly it being that hot in this country would indicate summer; in other words shorts and t-shirt weather so of course you would want to ensure your bikini body is buffed, honed and ready for the season! For the vast majority of us we try not to let weather, good or bad, affect our training too much. In this country its often motivation we require to get out in the lashing rain, however at the moment its more like sanity we require to get us out in the heat! So how do you best achieve your training goals without overheating or collapsing?!

There are a few methods that work, you can adopt these on hot holidays too, training at the crack of dawn is the one that most consistently delivers a good session without impacting too much on quality or the rest of your day! At the moment (July) sunrise is approximately 5am; if you are an early bird this is the best time to train, however if there is no chance of getting yourself out of bed this early you probably have 3 hours realistically before it heats up to about 25 degrees and is a little too hot to train in the sun for most people. If your session is a circuit or mat based, obviously if you find a shady spot you can probably train at most points throughout a hot day, in particular if you find a breezy spot. But I am really referring to an outdoor running, cycling, rowing or tennis type session. Once the temperature rises beyond 25 degrees your performance in the heat for a sustained period of time is going to be detrimentally affected, even with an adequate level of hydration you will be unlikely to perform optimally.

Evening training sessions also have the advantage of being a cooler part of the day to train in, however you will need to wait until after 8.30pm really for the sun to down and the heat stored in the land to begin to dissipate before you can really push yourself without feeling ill effects of heat. Even then, I find the morning coolness is much easier to train in than the evening coolness.

If these guidelines are not possible to stick to and you find yourself in the heat having to train then DO:

  • Wear a hat ideally with a peak to shed your forehead and eyes
  • Wear sun cream
  • Hydrate with water or an isotonic fluid to replace sweat, drink every 20mins
  • Try to keep your session under 90minutes
  • Wear wicking clothing to take the sweat away from your body
  • Wear as much white clothing as possible to reflect the heat
  • Try and find a breezy location to train so that the sweat can evaporate more quickly and cool the body most effectively
  • Try and keep moving; at the very least the air resistance with allow more sweat to evaporate rather than standing still in an airless spot.

25 February 2016

Keep on rolling

Foam roller

Photo Note: I make no apologies for the carpet, some patterns are timeless… Many fads come and go; I wouldn’t blame you if you have found a way to switch off to them…but not all fads were created equal.

Today I’m here to talk to you about the ‘foam roller’. A cylindrical object, which one lies on and rolls on, to massage the muscle group in question.

Some may see it as a convenient way to ‘faff’ (my name for procrastinating) before warming up in a session, however the more utilitarian amongst you will know that when used properly, it’s true purpose is to make you more supple and a bit richer…. That right, I did said richer.

Richer than having to pay a Physio’s hourly rate when injuries occur, which they will, if you do not pay attention to maintaining your body. Think of if like time spent preventing injury, or perhaps prehab, to avoid the potential rehab; and any injured athlete could tell you that’s time well spent.

How does it work a hear you think; well it’s effectiveness goes some way towards partially doing what a physio tries to do – (To many caveats? Well, I did say this is the cheap way!) – Self-myofascial release/self-massage, aids recovery through mobilising restricted fascia (the soft tissue portion of the connective tissue in the muscle that provides support and protection) back to normal after overuse or inactivity and which can also help improve range of motion.

So let’s get down to the crux of the matter.

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Pick a muscle group: e.g. Glutes
  2. Spend 2 minutes on left side of that area, then another 2 minutes on the other.
  3. Alternate between; applying a wave of pressure across the area – hunt out the tight areas i.e. Painful spots, and; applying direct pressure to those tender areas to work deeper into the muscle tissue.
  4. Move on to target another muscle group.

I know this sounds like a lot of time spent on ‘rolling around on the floor’ (potentially in agony for those less supple creatures) all in the name of prehab, but we all strive for prevention, right?

2 May 2012

Why do I do it?

When I qualified as a personal trainer I had a wealth of scientific knowledge from my Physiology degree, a great understanding of physical training principles that my training to become a personal fitness instructor had taught me, and an understanding of how the body worked under physical exertion from study and personal competitive sporting training and learning.

I was completely unprepared for the monumental amount of counselling and health psychology, behaviour remodelling and lifestyle coaching my role as a personal trainer would involve.

I learnt quickly that you must present a steady strong and calm front to your clients as they talk and  puff through their sessions whilst madly paddling to get it right for them behind this serene façade. And that simply prescribing an exercise session and taking them through it was the easy part, and the trick to getting results from clients performing to the best of their ability ran much deeper.

I learnt the root of personal training was understanding people and that being able to talk to them and motivate them in a way that they understood was key.

All of this takes time and experience (along with plenty of mistakes!)  I have drawn from my academic root and have often heavily relied on my own personal training experiences to get to the finished article, and still 15 years on am always learning.

I will have performed each and every session I deliver hundreds and hundreds of times personally, in different states of mind, at different locations, times of year, alone and in groups. I will have executed the same session with hundreds of clients over the years and learnt a tiny bit from each one to take forward to the next so as to re-mould and perfect the execution time and again.

There is rarely something I cannot resolve; a stubborn bit of body fat, an answer for someone who wont run, an alternative to dessert for a sweet tooth, a lifetime of yo-yo dieting, a solution to back pain, an answer to low self esteem, a rock to lean against whilst pushing through mental barriers or someone to offload to on a long training run after work…..

Q: Why do I do it?

A: For the only reason that counts: I love it, it is all that I know and all that I am, it defines me and I am great at what I do.


24 December 2011

Friend, therapist, lover….Or are you looking for a trainer?

The following is a list of what I consider important credentials when searching for or assessing your current personal trainer. It is by no means exhaustive and in no particular order….

1: Is your trainer qualified to a nationally recognised standard which meets or equates to at least a REPs level 3? And do they belong to a national umbrella type organisation to recognise this for example REPs or the NRPT (national register of personal trainers) And if so, they should hold public liability (and personal indemnity) insurance to cover them for the manner in which they are training you.

2: Before you start (ed) any physical training a good PT will sit you down and run through what can be quite a varied initial assessment but should at least include a health screen to determine any familial health issues, current personal health profile including any medication you may be taking, injuries or mobility limitations, any historical health concerns which may be relevant, your blood pressure and resting heart rate, some kind of body composition analysis, some kind of fitness test, possibly a strength and flexibility test too. You should be asked to complete a PAR-Q form and your trainer should take a note of your details including someone to contact in case of emergency.

3: If your trainer is experienced and established in the fitness community expect them to have strong links with osteopaths and physiotherapists and to know when to say “I dont know the answer to that” and use their support network. Expect them to have good healthy relations with other trainers and know that they meet or talk regularly to share training tips, coaching advice etc… and that building and sharing knowledge is the key to promoting health and fitness as cognitive training not just physical.

4: Your trainer should know that RUN (Blachington road, Hove), The JOG Shop (George st. Kemptown) and SHEACTIVE (North street, Brighton)are really the only places to purchase adequate footwear for first timers for any kind of fitness program. By all means repeat buy from another shop, but for the first time the advice and meticulous attention to detail these guys pay to your footwear selection is unsurpassable.

5: The relationship you build with your trainer is special. Sometimes it can feel like a therapy of sorts; and in fact studies prove that having someone to listen to you and bounce ideas off whilst moving your body aerobically is an extremely effective form of counselling. But be careful with this delicate balance, as although your trainer is aware of these ramifications they are ultimately providing a physical training service to you. And it needs to remain as such to maintain a working healthy effective fully functioning relationship. On the flip side you need to be aware not to balance things out too much, so if you find that your trainer has become more of a friend than a professional to you need to start considering whether it is worth revising your relationship. For the relationship to work optimally it needs to be made clear that your trainer is providing you a service, that there is no option for a cup of tea instead of a session when you are not in the mood, that you dont regularly see your trainer pissed out on the town, that your trainer doesn’t regularly lament on the difficulties in their life/relationship/work etc… Your trainer should be a friendly trustworthy informative motivational coach who listens well and provides empathetic and non judgemental personal support.

6: If your trainer has competed or raced at any level in his or her sport they will have an edge over one who trains for passion alone. That edge is purely and simply a psychological experience that they are able to tap into and translate to you when building programs or helping you prepare yourself mentally for your own fitness goals. This becomes relevant predominantly when you yourself are training for a particular event, so ensure to look for a trainer who has “been there and done that” so they can help you train to gain the psychological edge for that sport which is the main advantage at “show time”

7: Make sure you pick a trainer who is interested in learning. Whether its talking or training with colleagues, going on courses, reading and writing papers, going to talks, seminars, shows, masterclasses etc… they need to keep up with the ever changing advice, methods and equipment on the market. At the moment its all about high intensity short duration blast type workouts; does your trainer know what tabata training is? how to use a kettlebell? what functional strength is all about? can they combine these things with other facets of fitness training and maintain a balance or have they got sucked into a fad?

8: A good trainer should be able to take you into the middle of a flat field with no equipment what so ever, not even a watch, and supply you with a creative fun exhaustive and inspirational session of the top off his/her head. In my opinion 😉

24 December 2011

15 most memorable training sessions


1 = Undercliff path runs before they widened the path meant that when the tide came in, waves would crash against the wall and arc up in the air over the path until they came crashing down. You would run in ankle deep water anyway but trying to avoid being totally annihilated by the wave overhead by timing sprints through the arch of water overhead on thin parts of the path was exhilarating!

2 = The classic Rocky training session that all local fighters know as “Wilson ave steps” The first time i did these was with a club id only been fighting for a little while, as usual was the only female in the club, and i was young…all of which meant i had something to prove. And i did 10 continuous sprints after running up Wilson’s avenue and back down with the other fighters….but it was one of those killer sessions where so much pressure was on the performance i almost lost myself i had to dig so far within!

3 = Kicking practise with Roberto the kid! Rob was a 16yr old black belt karate kid who used to help me with accurate kicking techniques. In this session nearly 10years ago practising a spinning hook kick he accidentally planted (or did i walk into?)his big toe firmly in my eye socket, leaving me with the strangest colour black eye I’ve ever had!

4 = A session conducted by a friend of mine training for the tough guy competition where after 40mins of non stop kettlbell circuits we ran along the stones on the beach 1mile and back through the sea at waist height fully clothed in winter at dusk in the rain with a strong rip tide. Me laughing uncontrollably and hysterically at the cold water and ridiculousness of our session.

5 = In a kickboxing class trying to get one of my most promising and diligent 16 stone Albanian participants to understand the meaning of pulling his punches by sacrificing myself in the ring!

6 = Running, or attempting to, in 98% humidity and 40 degree heat in the monsoon season Darwin. The most extraordinary feeling of drowning in a sauna whilst outside!

7 = Trail running in Kavos, Corfu at dusk alone loosing my way and getting stuck in the hills for hours where the local rumour was that the Albanian Mafia hide out after swimming across. Fear like I’ve never known. Legs cut to smithereens by bramble as i scrabbled in blind panic to eventual freedom!

8 = Performing a weight lifting exercise in a gym before i had any lifting experience moons ago which caused my right shoulder to dislocate. Gym staff tried to pop it back in but finally called an ambulance to take me to the Royal Sussex for gas and expert manipulation.

9 = The very first time i was running up at Hollingbury fort on a crisp sunny day and saw the panoramic view extending from Ovingdean to Worthing and out to the isle of Wight, feeling alive and strong, reminding me of my life spirit.

10 = Repeatedly cycling down King George the VI avenue, known locally as snakey hill as fast as humanly possible trying to set off the speed camera at the bottom (nope….not once, despite breaking the 30mph limit)

11 = The London marathon. New socks id bought myself for race day with extra cushioning around the heel meant my shoe fit 1mm more snugly than it had in any training session, so that by half way a liquid filled blister had formed across the whole sole of my foot making foot placement unsteady as the fluid sloshed around the blister. And by 18miles it had popped, on both feet, so that i was running on raw flesh for the last 8miles….that day i learnt a lot about grit!

12 = Without question running into the sunset “in the zone” along Brighton’s seafront is one of the most amazing feelings in the world. Calm serenity, beautiful nature and the warm late summer sun gently beating down on your back as you carve out step by step the way to your soul.

13 = The day i bench pressed my own body weight for 10 reps was a day and a half! No one was there to share the moment….

14 = The winter of 2008. Evening sessions were taken up by 3 clients back to back all on long distance running programs. The seafront became my enemy as night after night id spend 3 long hours running in sleet and hail with them. When hail hits your face at an angle with ferocity it hurts. When it is combined with spray from lashing seas it becomes hellish.

15 = A sparring night at an old semi contact club in Fareham way back in the day; 4 grown men sitting on the floor wasted from sparring. Me standing in the centre of the dojo asking who was next….oh how we all laughed and laughed, the scene was just so ridiculous.

24 December 2011

Brighton loves you

The main reason I found a place that I could call home in Brighton lies in its unspoken rule of inclusivity. I moved here when i was 21 and potless, I had a few bags of stuff and a Renualt 5 and worked on a farm in West Sussex.
Back in those days the only thing I cared about was being free, and that meant having a motor!She was a banger, I don’t recall what was wrong with her but by the time she made it to Brighton the only way she would start was a rolling start or a jump if she konked out on the flat.
I was strong and powerful in spirit and would never hesitate to charge down hills with the driver door open and my hand on the steering wheel building up enough speed before I hopped in and flipped her into 2nd gear….but when it came to flat starts I often found it hard to build up enough speed to do the same.
To this day I recall the pivotal moment of the start of my love affair with Brighton was in one of those flat starts, early one morning on my way to the farm when some fella stopped his car at the lights I was stranded at and helped push my car with me. My exact thoughts were “How refreshingly unassuming people seem here, it doesn’t seem to matter in this city that I’m some ragamuffin” I just wasn’t used to it, Southampton is quite a different kind of city! Not a big deal you may think but its kept me here for 15years!
And from the farm a side step into the gym; an extension of the love of movement and physical prowess. But most importantly a place where everyone is stripped down to their bare essentials. What I mean by that is that millionaires rub shoulders with musicians, black people with white, gay with straight and men with women. Its a melting pot where the only interest in all the threads of the all inclusive Brightonian demographic is that of fitness. Yet again a place that I can call home, somewhere that I can be myself and grow and learn irrespective of what society sees me as.
I think we all love that, there is a commonality running through our band of merry warriors that unites us all. Yet again its beauty lies in its unassuming unspoken (none of them read this anyway;) acceptance. Portrayed perfectly by an old kickboxing instructor of mine: We were sitting next to each other at a show and I remember saying to him “That blokes shit isn’t he?” to which my instructor said “No he’s great for just getting into the ring”