Where has my muscle gone!?

Ok so I have had a pretty hectic couple of months with my personal life. There has been a family death on my side and another on my partners side. This has meant travelling 200 miles south west and back again, then 200 miles north and back again. Teaming this with 2 weeks of trapped nerves in my neck and a car that’s been out of action, it’s lead to me being out of the gym for almost 2 months… and damn am I feeling it!

Here’s a couple of action shots!

I went back to the gym for a week 2 weeks ago, and then I was off again. From today I haven’t got any plans to go anywhere so I am back to training. I’m booking in for a sports massage and getting my strength back up. Today I had a go at snatching and boy has my strength dropped. Only managing a mere 40kg sadly.

But I’m stocked up on protein, chicken and vegetables. I’ve got myself a new half gallon water jug (hopefully my boyfriend won’t throw this one out) and I plan on being 100% badass and back on the game from this week on wards.

Missing the gym isn’t just detrimental for my valuable gains, but it’s also pretty bad for my mental health and my sanity. My whole self worth goes downhill, I feel a mess and a retreat into my little shell, my mojo goes, my motivation goes and so does my love for life.

So here’s to gains, a healthy mind and finding my motivation again. Let’s get it.

‘But I don’t wanna get big’

Ladies… Do not fear the weights room! I promise you, that strength training WILL NOT make you big.

Copy of _DSC3890eewithoutIron

Let’s look at what it takes in order to build substantial amounts of muscle.

  1. An intense strength programme.
    Unless you are training 6/7 days a week, having 2 hour, hard sessions twice a day and hammering the weights HARD every session, with little to no cardio (or the right kind of cardio) then building muscle is going to be a very slow process. As a female myself, I have been trying to ‘get big’ for years. I strength train 5 days a week mostly, and the majority of the time to failure… I’m yet to ‘get big’

    2. FOOD!
    You would not even believe the amount you would have to consume in order to sustain that level of training. Let alone the amount of protein intake you would need to repair the muscle and recover from your training. I’m not talking eating a little bit more chicken and adding a bit more protein and carbs to your diet. I am talking hitting 4000 calories or more PER DAY. You can not build muscle unless you are consuming a surplus in calories. Most women, in order to build muscle will need around 2500-2800 calories a day out of that you would need to eat 30% at least in protein in order to repair and recover. Let me put this into perspective for you. 30% of 2500 is 750 calories from protein, Which is just over SIX CHICKEN BREASTS, and that’s PER DAY! Without the necessary food intake for your training you will not be able to build a substantial amount of muscle. (This goes for men too)

    3. Testosterone
    To look like a man,, you have to be built like a man, and ladies… We are most definitely not. You can not build muscle without testosterone. FACT. Men with lower levels of testosterone will find it much more difficult to build muscle, so imagine how much harder it is for us. Again, here’s a little perspective for you to highlight the extreme differences in the levels of testosterone male and females have.

    Total testosterone (amount floating around at the time of a testosterone test)

    An average healthy adult male will have between 270-1070 nanograms per deciliter of blood.

    An average healthy adult fertile women will have between 15-70 nanograms per deciliter of blood.
    This is such a huge difference in testosterone levels that it literally makes it impossible for women to build muscle like men can, unless of course, you are using the supplements or steroids. You may see many female bodybuilders who look manly, have that thick neck and chiseled jaw line, (and deeper voice) this is the results of steroids, NOT picking up some dumbbells a couple of times a week.

    4. Metabolism
    Weight training increases metabolism. Going back to point number 2 and food intake. The reason you will need to be consuming all those calories is because weight training will burn more calories, therefore you need to eat more. Your body will look to your muscles for energy before anything else, as this is a more efficient way for your body to convert energy stores. So actually you can strength train and your body will be taking those gains right back from you unless your eating right.

Weight training will actually enhance your figure, add curves, help you reduce and keep off that extra fat, it will increase bone density and reduce risk of developing osteoporosis later in life, it will help reduce cholesterol, help to keep type 2 diabetes under control, increase moto nurone recruitment which will help balance and coordination, it’s a great antidepressant -releases endorphines which help boost your mood, helps you sleep better, gives you more energy and of course… makes you stronger!

Fasted cardio. Good or bad?

Do you do fasted cardio? Does fasted cardio work? What is the evidence that fasted cardio is better than non fasted cardio?


Some people bang on about fasted cardio and how it helps you burn more fat. The reason behind this is that your body will use energy from fat stores rather than energy from the food you have just eaten. While there is SOME truth in this, there is absolutely NO scientific evidence to back this up.

Fasted cardio being better than non fasted cardio is made up based on assumption, taking into account 2 scientific facts.

1) You burn more fat when your insulin levels are low.

2) Your insulin level is low when you wake up due to the fact you havent eaten through the night and have ‘fasted’.

Therefore the assumption is that when you wake up, after having not eaten all night your insulin levels are lower therefore you can burn fat better. That is the part that is true.

The whole truth is that if you have a zero carb breakfast, high in fats and protein, your insulin levels will be low and your body will burn fat just as well as if you were fasted.

There is only evidence that low insulin levels helps you burn fat faster, and no evidence what so ever that not eating at all is any more beneficial.

So what’s the answer? IF you don’t like to eat before cardio for whatever reason then fine, if you do like to eat before hand but want the maximum efficiency for fat loss, eat something very low or zero carb such as chicken and eggs. There’s no need to go hungry, if you’re hungry then eat.

Personally I eat before a workout, but usually something light like eggs so it’s not sat heavy in my stomach for the session, but I don’t really do much cardio apart from maybe a quick HIIT session. Even then as I always do my cardio after my strength training I usually need the food to give me enough energy to push my sessions as hard as I can.

Who am I?

5 years ago I was overweight and in denial. Sure, I had joined gyms in the past, the college leavers giving me an induction.

“You want fat loss? Ok, use the cross trainer for 20 minutes then use this machine and that machine, these cables and those cables and then warm down on the treadmill and you’re done”

I HATED it. I had no idea what I was doing 10 years ago anyway so I figured the professionals who had the qualifications knew that that was the way to get to me to my goal. So like most people I’d go a few times a week for about a month and then it would fizzle out, and eventually I’d be paying £30 a month for a gym membership that I never used like a lot of other people who start off with good intentions.

5 years ago I joined a gym (again), I was single, I was a bit strapped for money and I figured if I spent £30 a month on gym membership I could have a place to go every single day and it would never cost me any more than the gym membership.

In my new venture I decided I couldn’t lose weight because I hated the type of workouts I needed to do to in order to achieve it, so I thought I’d try something a little different. Maybe I could build some muscle instead, I’d always liked the idea of being strong, I was so over the skinny, bikini clad models you see shoved in your face every day, I wanted a more muscular physique so maybe I’ll try that instead.

I got 2 free personal training sessions when I signed up so of course I put them to use. Looking back I am fully aware that they usually hand out the free sessions from the newest PT’s in order to help them build their client base. And boy was it my lucky day, the new guy wasn’t like any other PT I had come across before. The first thing he asked me as we walked across the gym floor was “What do you want to achieve? Tone up, get fitter?”

“No” I replied, “I want to build muscle”

I am pretty sure it was music to his ears, and looking at me I’m sure he saw me as a challenge. I wonder if deep down he thought to himself she’ll never stick at it’ After all I was pretty big, a size 18 I think, so definitely needed to lose a few pounds, and certainly not a lot of signs of muscle.

That first session it was straight in to deadlifts and overhead press’. He killed me, as soon as the session was over I had to run outside to get some oxygen because I was so light-headed, physically exhausted and could have quite happily curled up in a ball and not moved for the rest of my life. BUT… It was literally the most amazing gym session I had ever had in my entire life, despite the fact I was nearly dead it was so invigorating, I was so surprised what I was capable of doing, never in my life did I think I was able to deadlift (had never heard of the term before!) 40kg perfectly over and over again and 10kg over head press’s over and over again. This first session was the most important session of my life. This first session is what sparked something in me to really want to do this. This guy took my request seriously and didn’t fob me off with a cross trainer for 20 minutes. I wondered what else I could do. It became a competition with myself to better myself from one week to the next.

The second session gave me much the same feeling, this time it was learning to squat, first getting my depth right, then starting to add weight. Once my form was on point the weight went up and up and up, and I revelled in the delight of every single kg of progress.

I turned into a regular gym goer, although I couldn’t afford much in the way of personal training sessions I actually did continue with my personal trainer in a way I could afford, I paid upfront for a few half an hour sessions and just half an hour every 4 weeks, I knew it wasn’t ideal but it was all I could afford and I was pretty good at pushing myself and motivated myself so it’s not like I needed that extra push to get to the gym in the first place.

I don’t even remember stepping on a scale for months and when I did I was shocked, I had lost loads, and I had of course, taken photos, I sent some progress pics to my PT who always congratulated me, he always made me feel so good about my efforts and it really is all thanks to him that I am where I am today.

Since that first session I researched, I read, I learnt and I expanded my knowledge on this type of training. Nutrition was a new thing for me too, i stopped smoking, I gave up alcohol, I stopped eating crap food completely and I just felt amazing, I actually started going to the gym twice a day some days. Weight training in the morning and cardio in the evening. Gym was literally my life.

Another huge inspiration for my career change was another PT who did classes, one of which I went to once a week. The energy this guy had was insane, he was funny, the classes were enjoyable and there was a real social aspect with them, including post drinks after the sessions sometimes. The enthusiasm This guy had was so admirable and the dedication to his job great. He had a real way of talking to you, and advising you, never once did he make you feel silly because you couldn’t quite get the right form, his instruction was clear and helpful and he was just such a nice guy.

These are in all honestly the two most influential people in my life. It is because of them I decided to embark on a career in personal training. I admired these two guys so much, they loved their job, they did their job so well and are both everything I hoped to bring to my own clients.

So here I am now, a fully qualified personal trainer specialising in weight training, building muscle and using weight training to sculpt and define the body, with nutritional guidance and supplement advice to go with it.

A huge thanks to Martin Utterly and Rich James for being such huge influences that lead to my career change and a much healthier and bad ass way of life.