Clicking Joints: What Is The Real Reason Your Bones Moan And Groan?


I’m sure you've experienced clicking joints at some point in your life... Whether it's a daily occurrence as you get out of bed and take a walk to the bathroom, or from your knuckles - that you enjoy cracking maybe a little too much!

Why do clicking joints happen? And more importantly, is it an indication of something more serious? It's another question that I get asked a lot and I thought I'd take the time to give you the low down on clicking joints, what actually causes this, and when it could be dangerous. Read on...

What Makes A Joint

Fit woman stretching
Stretching is great for your joints!


The bones are arranged in a way that means under normal circumstances they don't touch. The ends of each bone are covered in cartilage which is a resilient and smooth elastic tissue with rubber-like padding that covers and protects the end of bones at the joints. A joint is basically two bones coming together, bound by some tendons, ligaments, and muscles. More importantly, though, each joint has a capsule and contained inside this capsule is a tiny amount of synovial fluid that reduces friction between the joints.

How Synovial Fluid Causes Your Knuckles To Crack


When you pull the joint capsule ends either with normal movement or forceful actions like knuckle cracking, you essentially make the joint capsule bigger.

The amount of fluid within the joint does not change but some of the gases dissolved inside are released. "Air" bubbles form very quickly to fill the empty space. The process of these bubbles forming is called cavitation and because the release of gas happens so fast, a sound is produced and that sound is the infamous crack.

Why Cracking Your Knuckles (Or Any Other Joint) Could Be Bad For You

Clicking joints are not usually a cause for concern. They click because of the gas and this is a completely natural process. If you crack your joints often, though, the change of pressure will inevitably affect the ligaments. In fact, micro-injuries can happen with every single click. That is why I encourage my clients to slowly stretch before and after exercise. My rule of thumb here is to focus on active (yet still gentle) stretching and mobility exercises before the workout session and on slower passive stretches afterwards.

When Clicking Joints Are A Cause For Concern

Although clicking joints are usually nothing to worry about, there are some cases where an underlying condition is causing them. These usually fall in one of two categories: inflammation or injury. The difference is in the timing. It would be days, weeks, or even months before an inflamed tissue around the joint cause’s pain. If there was injury, though, you would know right away, especially if you tore a thick tendon.

Injuries That Could Cause Clicking Joints

At the extreme level one of the loudest sounds your body can make is if your Achilles tendon snaps. This is the thick cord that connects your ankle to the back of your lower leg and if it ruptures the sound is similar to a gun being fired!

A tear is more subtle and if it didn't happen at the moment of high tension on the tendon, the tearing of your heel cord could resemble a joint cracking. If you hear your ankles clicking and you suspect there could be some injury, observe yourself in the next few hours. Is there any pain or swelling? If so, chances are you could have damaged the tendon and it would be a good idea to have it checked out by a doctor.

Another common injury is twisting your knee. This type of injury usually happens to football players but with a bit of bad luck, you could even injure your knee running on the treadmill. The clicking sound, in this case, often means you may have damaged the cartilage as well. Once again, talk to a doctor and try to put as little pressure on the joint as possible.

Clicking and pain in your feet or toes could be the unexpected consequence of wearing uncomfortable shoes. I have seen it happen to a few of my female clients that were particularly fond of high heels. As hard as it might be, try to switch to flats and the problem usually subsides.

Clicking Joints And Inflammation

Arthritis is the generic term used to describe inflammation of the joints. As scary as it may sound, joint inflammation happens to a lot more (and more diverse) group of people than you might expect. It’s not just reserved for the elderly, I have met girls as young as 17-18 suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Although there are over a hundred types of arthritis the two most common are:

  • Osteoarthritis that comes with age and it affects virtually all joints in your arms and legs
  • Rheumatoid arthritis which is an autoimmune disorder, essentially your own immune system turning against your joints.

Sometimes clicking joints and pain can mean a serious underlying issue

Although arthritis patients require complex therapy (that this article won’t do justice), there are a couple of tell-tale signs that your clicking joints could be arthritis:

  • Trouble moving the joint
  • Pain and stiffness, especially in the morning
  • Muscle aches around the joint
  • Secondary effects on your entire system - weight loss, poor sleep, fatigue, loss of muscle flexibility or even function. Make sure you watch out for these and seek medical advice if you notice any of them.
Sometimes clicking joints and pain can mean a serious underlying issue


More Reasons For Clicking Joints And How To Improve Them

Sometimes the problem just can't be explained. An old injury that didn't heal properly, an incorrect alignment of your joint, over-exercising, all of these could cause clicking joints. Here are a few tips to minimise the cracking:

  • Stretch properly before exercise. It improves joint mobility and it also increases the flexibility of the tendons. This way, you are less likely to suffer an injury.
  • Have at least one rest day per week. Less can sometimes be more! Especially if you are a beginner. Overdoing it could cause injury.
  • Make sure you have enough nutritious food in your diet and you’re properly hydrated. A few of my favourite, joint-friendly foods are nuts and berries(loaded with healthy antioxidants that fight inflammation), oily fish like salmon (for the joint, and brain, healthy omega-3's), and the occasional steak (that contains all important amino acids for your joint fluid).

To help you get started on your way to healthier joints, here is my favourite pre-workout active stretching routine:

  • Push-ups with a twist - a regular push-up except you extend an arm when you come up. I usually do at least ten. If you can't do a standard push-up yet, going on your knees is perfectly fine as well.
  • Stretch walking lunges - I have my clients do a few laps around the gym, alternating legs on each step. Just make sure your knees never pass your toes.
  • High knees with a knee to chest - Essentially, you do three to five high knee jumps and then you hold your knee to your chest for five seconds. Spend at least five minutes on this and your knees will thank you.
  • Inward and outward foot rolls - The most basic of exercises but it makes the world of a difference, especially in clients with feet issues or pain.

So in closing are your clicking joints anything to worry about? Well, if you don’t experience any pain, then NO. But if the joints are painful, swollen or restricted in anyway it could be the signs of something more sinister and you need to visit your GP to find out exactly what is going on.



What helps your clicking joints? Do you have any tips or questions for me? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!


Compression Socks: Get Your Facts Right

Your grandma wears them on long flights and now apparently nurses, waiters, and even those with a 9-5 office job are testing them out.

What is this trend about anyway?

Are compression socks any good?

And are there any performance enhancing benefits for runners or are they yet another over-hyped product?

Let's separate fact from fiction once and for all!

What Are Compression Socks?

Compression socks (or compression stockings) are designed to make your veins drain faster and more efficiently. By doing that, they can prevent blood clots from forming in your limbs, travelling all the way to your heart or lungs and causing an embolism.

Do Your Veins Need The Extra Help?

While arteries have a thick muscle layer that contracts or expands in response to changes in the blood pressure, veins don't have anywhere near enough muscle to do that. Instead, they have valves that keep the blood flowing one way only. The valves are pretty efficient in a healthy adult. However, as you age or if you are inactive, they begin to suffer damage.

When the valves are damaged, blood can flow in both directions and it often flows backwards. It can pool and that pooling is what causes varicose veins.

What Could Go Wrong With Your Veins?

Long flights can hurt your veins

Your body is a smart machine but not everything goes to plan all the time. There is plenty that could go wrong with your vein function. Starting with the obvious, inflammation.

Virtually all tissues in your body can become inflamed and the veins are no exception. Phlebitis is the term used to describe inflammation of the veins. It could happen after an IV line is removed, as a result of trauma, or in people with conditions like lupus, and certain types of cancer. It can damage the lining of your veins and cause blood clots to form. Having varicose veins puts you at a higher risk for phlebitis.

Speaking of varicose veins, they happen when a valve is damaged or destroyed. Spider veins is the equivalent of varicose veins for your smallest blood vessels. Both are a result of a sedentary lifestyle, as well as a certain predisposition some people have.

Blood clots might form even if your veins are intact. Deep-vein thrombosis is a life-threatening condition in which clots form in the deep veins of your leg (or more rarely, your arm). That blood clot might travel to your lung or heart where it causes an embolism. Plenty of factors put you at risk for developping deep-vein thrombosis:

  • A decreased blood flow in veins - spending long hours without moving (i.e. during a flight, while you are working, or if you are on bed rest) often causes that.
  • Changes to the blood vessel wall - inflammation and high cholesterol are two things that damage the lining of your vein.
  • Increased clotting tendency - this could be congenital or related to a disease (lupus, cancer, hormone imbalances, including the ones related to pregnancy)

So How Do I Look After My Veins?

Relax. I know virtually everything you do on a normal day is a risk factor for deep-vein thrombosis. While you can't entirely prevent it from happening, there are easy steps to take for prevention. Here is where the compression socks come in.

Doctors usually tell all patients with venous disease to use compression socks. They are cheap, have virtually zero side effects, and they help a lot. But before I tell you why here is a little reminder. I get clients and people who follow me online constantly asking me about the next great 'health hack'. These can range from supplements to compression socks, to new massage techniques or fancy treatments.

I hate to break your bubble, but you can't 'out-health' an unhealthy diet and exercise programme. If you want healthy veins, healthy circulation, a healthy heart, a healthy you, it starts with cleaner eating and a little more movement.

This reduces inflammation in your body, keeps your muscles happy and doing their job as best as they can, and helps you maintain a healthy weight. So before you jump onto the compression socks bandwagon, try to simply stand up a little more while you are working. Take a bathroom break, go talk to a co-worker, or take a stroll to the water cooler.

It is that simple.

How Compression Socks Can Help Your Veins

Unlike your normal socks and stockings, compression socks use a very strong elastic material to put pressure on your leg. By compressing the muscles together you get an effect similar to that of the skeletal-muscle pump. The socks are tightest around your ankles and they get less constrictive around your knee and thighs. This is the direction in which blood should normally flow.

By constricting the veins of your lower leg more than the ones in the upper part, compression socks increase the pressure and encourage blood to flow to your heart. It is as though your muscles were doing it. Since they imitate the skeletal-muscle pump, compression socks are good for people who sit a lot, as well as for those who stand too much. Either way, they increase blood flow and improve vein drainage. That is how they prevent deep-vein thrombosis and how they could potentially save your life.

Compression Socks: The Verdict

Although they will not make your veins instantly healthier, compression socks live up to their reputation by assisting with any circulation issues. I'd recommend you grab a pair and wear them on your next long flight. Or your next 8-hour sitting day.

Looking at it from a performance perspective, will they make you run faster?

Put simply, No.

They've become a big fashion accessory, particularly in the running and crossfit communities and many athletes swear by them, but in my opinion you won't see any performance enhancing benefits by wearing them.

Of course there may be some kind of placebo effect and if you really believe in them or just really like running in stockings then Who am I to stop you!

I guess they'll keep your legs warm on those cold winter mornings, but they are not going to turn you into a world beater over-night, my advice would be to give them to your granny for her next holiday flight!

Do you have any questions or any other health trends you would like me to share your opinion on? I would love to hear from you in the comments!



My Favourite Home Exercise Bike and My Ideas for the Best Home Workout

Having a blog is an amazing thing for me because I can now reach more people than I have ever dreamed of. Connecting with you has pushed me to be more flexible and creative with my fitness advice. After all, you guys come from all walks of life (and so many different places), so what works for my personal clients isn't always a viable solution for my readers. Even going to the gym is not an option for many so in this article, I am giving you my top tips for building one in the comfort of your home. Read on to find why you need a home gym, how to choose the space, and what equipment to get(including a recommendation for my all-time favourite home exercise bike)!

Everybody Needs A Home Gym

Home workout equipment can be pricey and complicated but building your own home gym doesn't have to be. In fact, most of the time all you need is some space for bodyweight exercises. When busy clients ask me about incorporating exercise into their schedule, I tell them it doesn't take more than an empty corner (whether it's in their living room or in a hotel that they are staying in) and 20 minutes. You can get an awesome workout with basic exercises like squats, push-ups, lunges, and planks.

If you can only buy one thing for your home gym make it a thick, high-quality yoga mat. This gives you the grip and support to perform so many different floor exercises. Besides, you can replace weights with random objects but nothing can prevent the dreaded crunch-induced friction burn.

How About Cardio?

Great question. You can't fit many cardio machines in a small home gym space. You could do bodyweight interval training but people often aim at a higher intensity than that. If you have been following me for a while, you know how much I love high-intensity interval training. Here are just a few of its benefits:

  • It's quick and efficient. 15 minutes of HIIT, three times a week give you better results than an hour on the treadmill every day. I have personally witnessed it plus there is science to back it.
  • A HIIT workout burns more calories both during and after the session. For the 24 hours after you have done HIIT cardio, your metabolism speeds up and the fat melts off.
  • It can reduce heart rate and blood pressure, even in people who already struggle with cardiovascular problems. In other words, HIIT not only prevents future problems but it actually makes your heart healthier.
  • HIIT exercise reduces insulin resistance. Insulin resistance happens when your cells don't respond to the insulin telling them to use up blood sugar. It's a risk factor for type 2 diabetes plus it makes losing weight essentially impossible (you can't burn fat when insulin is up).

In the gym, I love putting clients on the rowing machine and on the bikes for some HIIT cardio. Then there comes the air bike, which essentially combines the two. It is efficient, it doesn't take much space, and it gives you a five-star HIIT workout. My personal favourite home exercise bike is the Schwinn Airdyne AD8 because it's easy to set up, sturdy, and it gives you a lot of options to monitor your workout.

But What Makes A Home Exercise Bike Great, Anyway?

I get asked a lot about the best cardio machines to have at home and my usual response is which one do you think your laundry will look best hanging on?! As sadly this is what usually happens to so many home gyms. If however you are serious about setting up a training space at home then read on... There are so many different stationary bikes available on the market that choosing one gets quite confusing, even for gym rats like me. The basic difference between the various types is simply the resistance. Exercise bikes use either friction, weights, magnets, or a fan to give you resistance.

On most bikes, you set up a certain resistance much like you would set up a treadmill to a certain speed. On my particular favourite, the air bike, has a fan in the front (where a wheel would usually be) and the faster you spin, the more friction between the fan and the air. Essentially, the harder you pedal, the harder it gets, which allows bikes like the Schwinn Airdyne to have infinite resistance levels.

Another major pro of the air bike is that it engages both arms and legs. It's a full-body exercise machine that adjusts to your level and in turn gives you a higher calorie burn. Plus, this form of cardio removes the impact of hitting the ground (or the treadmill) so your joints and ligaments get a break. A home exercise bike is probably the safest and most effective form of cardio you can do by yourself.

The Perfect Home Gym Workout

Over the years I have seen so many people with good intentions of improving their fitness levels but sadly with no plan whatsoever to actually make this happen. As a result they see no changes and usually quit within a few weeks.

If you want to see change, you can't just spend 20 minutes doing random exercises and call it a day. You need a program that fits your level and fitness goals. This is where I come in to help build and adjust a program. There is a lot that goes into it, but here are my basic tips for building a home gym workout that will give you actual results:

  • Figure out your goals and be honest about them. 'I want to be healthier.' will not get you out of bed if a flat stomach and a toned backside are what you are really after!
  • Don't fear weights. For every workout, aim to spend at least 70% of the time doing strength training exercises. Squats, lunges, push-ups pull-ups and twists should be a part of every training programme.
  • Don't just stick to the standard 3 sets of 10. As you've read in previous blog posts I'm a big fan of Time Under Tension Training. Slow things down and aim to push yourself to the limit. I would suggest that you pick 5-6 body weight moves (that you know how to do properly) and perform each of them slowly for time or until failure.
  • You can choose your own intervals during HIIT cardio. My favourite is 30 seconds on, 15 seconds off. During the on time, you need to go all out and earn your rest period! The air bike is great for that because you can really push yourself and there is no limit. Then during the rest period, you just bike at whatever speed is comfortable. Don't stop but don't worry about the speed or rpm.
  • Avoid doing HIIT on consecutive days. Three times per enough, if you are really pushing yourself.

Finally, I thought I would share how my own home gym looks like!

I would love to hear your questions and thoughts in the comments down below! And if you have a home gym space that you are proud of, share a pic on Instagram and don't forget to tag me @davidosgathorp.

Let's get inspired together!


My Five Absolute Favourite Exercises

As a personal trainer, I often get asked what my favourite exercises are. Truth be told, that is a bit like asking a doctor what his favourite medications would be. I will never get tired of saying that fitness is a very individual thing.

Without taking you through an individual assessment I'm unable to determine exactly what type of training programme is right for you. Some of the exercises I love might hurt you if you have certain issues or there could be better options for your particular needs.

The bottom line here is that you should work with a trainer to find what the best exercises for you are. But still, to answer the question, here is my personal top five. These are all moves that I use myself, performed correctly, I am sure they will benefit you a lot!

The Overhead Squat

Woman doing ovehead squat

This is a slightly intimidating version of the traditional squat but trust me, it truly is for everyone. More than a simple leg exercise, this one is perfect for mobility training. It's a great exercise for your legs, but more importantly, the overhead squat trains stability and mobility in the core and shoulders.

It is one of my favourite exercises to use as an assesment tool. When a new client comes into my studios the overhead squat is one of the first things I have them do. Simply performing this movement will show me any tension or restrictions that exist in the hips, shoulders, and back.
Hunched back, rounded shoulders, rigid spine, and weak core are just some of the issues that you can notice. The overhead squat can also help you correct them.

Here is what I love to do. Start without any weight and simply extend your arms over your head. Watch yourself in the mirror while you perform the squat. Be mindful of any tension or pain you feel in your body. Do ten slow and controlled reps and notice what feels uncomfortable.
Is it difficult to keep your arms extended?
Does it create tension in your upper back? Are the fronts of your shoulders feeling really tight?
Or is your lower back taking too much stress?
How is your balance?
Are you able to perform a deep squat or does the tension in your hips, knees or ankles prevent this?
Is your right side tighter than your left in any of your joints?

Everyone will be different. Use this movement to find out more about your own body. Work on the overhead squat focusing on that weak link. Once this has been addressed you can gradually progress things by adding a small amount of weight each time. This way you can improve any issues you have with your posture, prevent back pain, and strengthen your core and lower body all at the same time.

The Deadlift

How do you build lean legs, a sculpted butt plus some solid core? Deadlift. It belongs in everyone´s list of favourite exercises. The deadlift builds upper and lower body strength like no other exercise. It is the quintessential compund exercise. One thing I particularly love about deadlifts is they build strength around ligaments and tendons. Over time this will really protect you from injury.

The flipside here is that technique is crucial. Here are a few tricks to perfecting your deadlift (a.k.a. not wrecking your back):

Keep your back strong and flat, learn to flex forwards from the hips don't round your back. If you can't help but round it then you need to lower the weight.

Push, don't pull. Yes, your upper body will be engaged in the movement but don't think about lifting with your arms, your glutes and hamstrings should be doing most of the work.
Your feet should always stay flat on the floor, find a position where they are as stable as possible.

Move in time. Make sure your shoulders and hamstrings ascend together. If either lags it means you are using your lower back.


Going fancy on equipment is not always the way to go. I believe bodyweight exercises are the true measure of strength. The pull-up in particular is a great benchmark for overall athletic ability.

Learning to use your body is truly empowering. The pull-up is challenging, yes, but it is also very rewarding. Most clients I work with hate it, I admit. At least they hate it at first because it seems impossible. But in fact anyone can progress to a pull-up. Here are the steps that have helped even complete beginners to achieve it:

Start with a row.
Move on to bodyweight row (in an upside down pushup position).
Go for band-assisted pull-ups.
Attempt the real deal.
Progress your training by working with a partner have them assist you to top of the movement and lower yourself down. This eccentric development will turbocharged your pull-up goals!
The Plank

Yet another bodyweight move. The plank belongs in my all-time favourite exerices as the king of abdominal work. Much like the deadlift, the plank is compound, it builds strength to protect you from injury, and it improves your posture big time.

There are studies that show planks to be the single best exercise for abs. They provide 100% activation of your abdominal muscles. Crunches only give you around 60% depending on your technique and the type of crunch.

I recommend planking every day and you will see a serious boost in fitness level in no time.

My secret tip for holding a plank longer is to relax the upper body, draw your belly button in and really focus on the core. When you tighten your abs your entire body becomes more stable. Less shaking means you can stay in the plank for longer. Of course, you have got to start small. 30 seconds to a minute is a good bench mark for a first timer but try to increase that by 10 seconds every other day. You will be surprised at the difference this makes! The goal of a serious "planker" is to achieve a 3 minute hold.

The Kettle Bell Swing

You can`t have a full list of my favourite exercises without mentioning Kettlebells. There are so many options, infinite modifications, ways to target every single muscle on your body. In my opinion, though, nothing can beat the simple, well-executed Kettlebell swing. It is a full-body workout in a single exercise.

What makes the Kettlebell better than other weights? The design. With the handle on top and the weight concentrated in the bottom, the center of gravity is significantly lower. You are forced to use muscles which builds strength and mobility.

The swing is mostly a hip movement, not a shoulder exercise so my biggest advice for you is to loosen up your upper body. If you grip too tight you put unnecessary tension in the back and shoulders. Hold the Kettlebell as you hold the remote control. Strong enough not to drop it but no additional clenching. Focus on the rhythm and really activating your glutes with every swing.

Do you have any favourite exercises of your own? Which of these do you think everybody should include in their workout routine? I would love to hear from you in the comments!



Body Fat Percentage Calculator

It's well established that being fat is terrible for you. It's bad for pretty much every biological system in your body, it places unnecessary stress on your vital organs (including your heart) and makes you look less than your best. But. What can be measured can be changed. And that's why I recommend that all my clients trying to lose fat get their hands on a body fat percentage calculator.

This is what 5lb of fat looks like - disgusting isn't it? - this is at at the lower end of what you can expect to lose on my Can Do Chef diet (below).

The bottom line is it's well worth it and it's best to have your own at home so you can keep the time and conditions consistent each and every week so that you get an accurate, reliable reading.

The body fat percentage calculator scales I recommend are these ones


These ones are wireless and connect to bluetooth and are low profile for ease of storage.

I'm sure you've seen them around. They look like regular scales but do so much more and link up to your phone so you can track your progress.

If you're still using simple scales to weigh yourself week in week out, you're missing out on key indicators regarding your body composition that your overall bodyweight alone will not reveal.

For instance, if you are trying to lose weight by following a weight training regime, you could have lost fat and gained muscle but still be the same overall bodyweight on traditional scales.

A good fat loss calculator, on the other hand, will give you a full panel of data that explains the numbers.

Traditional scales are almost certainly giving you imprecise results

What does a body fat percentage calculator tell you and how should you interpret the results?

Getting down to the nitty gritty of the data, a body fat percentage calculator can tell you a lot about your overall health. I'm going to pick out the key indicators I use with my clients:

One of my female clients kindly agreed to share a screenshot of her doing well on the Can Do Chef!

  • Weight - a body fat percentage calculator will give you an accurate and exact total body weight which it will use in combination with your height to give you your BMI.
  • Your BMI - your body mass index, the universal measure used by doctors to determine if you are underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese.
  • Body fat percentage - useful for measuring actual progress in fat loss and excludes water weight and changes in muscle volume density - unlike traditional scales.
  • Body water percentage - how well hydrated are you, this number is usually around the 50% -65% mark  if it is much less than 50% then you probably need to recover better with proper hydration.
  • Visceral fat - this is the nastier kind of fat that hangs around around your vital organs and has a higher likelihood of causing conditions such as diabetes. Avoid.
  • Muscle mass - increased muscle mass starts a positive feedback loop for fat loss, the more muscle you have, the more fat you will burn. Weight training is shown in countless studies to be excellent for your physical and psychological well being.

One of my male clients agreed to share his overall health indicators before starting the Can Do Chef

Things to remember when buying a body fat percentage calculator

  • Don't mess around trying to write things down on paper to record them, you'll lose/forget your details.
  • For this reason, you'll want one that has bluetooth and connects to your phone.
  • Always be consistent and weigh yourself under the same conditions in the morning before breakfast.
  • Don't weigh yourself more than once a week, it'll create an emotional rollercoaster. If you keep the time of your weigh-in consistent it's something to work towards. I like to recommend my clients use their body fat percentage calculator on Monday morning first thing.
  • It should go without saying you shouldn't be wearing much other than underwear when you weigh yourself!
  • Use an app so that it instantly sends the results to your phone. That way you can always have easy access to a list of your results and the full data to track your progress in your phone.
  • Get scales that allow multiple family members to use the device during the same period where individual data is stored for each person.

I find the 1byone  interface to be the most user-friendly for tracking progress



P.s. the body fat percentage calculator scales I recommend are linked below ...


Lose Fat By Following the Can Do Chef

To get the most out of body fat percentage calculator scales you need to use them in conjunction with a tried and tested diet regime (you get fit in the gym but you lose weight in the kitchen).

Earlier this month I put together the 'Can Do Chef' a very specific diet programme I now insist all of my clients in London follow when they begin working with me. It's designed with the general population in mind (rather than endurance athletes and power lifters). I've since made it available for free online (below).

The thing that works about the Can Do Chef is that it is an exact programme. Nothing is left to chance. There are no cheat days. That's the only requirement is that you stick to the full 30 day programme. During that time most people will lose 5lbs - 8lbs of body fat (depending on your starting point).

The point is you can't just leave things to chance by eating salad and 'health foods' and expecting the scales to move in your favour. You have to be exact (at least at first) and then get the specific data by using a body fat percentage calculator in order to track progress and move forward.


Get the Can Do Chef - 30 day elimination programme

**  This content uses referral links. Read my disclosure policy for more info**

The Overlooked Benefits Of Stretching - You Will Be Amazed When You Try It

Let's face it – stretching is the least glamorous and the most overlooked part of your workout. You probably hear mixed messages around stretching and whether it's all a bit outdated now. Some professionals prioritise so called mobility techniques and using foam rollers, but I’m still a big fan of stretching and in this article I’m going to discuss the amazing health benefits of stretching!

Improve your flexibility, optimise your health


This might seem obvious but a well-designed stretching routine is the best way to improve flexibility. Because most of my clients work desk jobs, they tend to have problems with muscle stiffness, back pain, and headaches that can all be tracked down to poor flexibility. Having a sedentary lifestyle means that over the years you will see your flexibility decrease much more than it naturally would for an active person.

Low flexibility means a smaller range of motion, less effective workouts, and a higher risk of injury. The stiffness in your neck muscles can lead to a poor circulation to your brain which then translates into excruciating headaches. Finally, as you get older, you are more likely to experience postural problems which is why I always encourage my clients to do plenty of stretches to free up their lower back and hips as they can effectively prevent lower back pain with the correct approach.

Improved Blood Flow

When you perform dynamic stretches before a workout, you increase the blood flow to your muscles. This improves performance significantly and it also reduces the soreness afterwards. The benefits of improved circulation go even beyond that. It also promotes cell growth, function, and recovery in your muscles even post-workout. Not to mention that an increased blood flow is great for your brain and it will boost mood and productivity throughout your day.

Decreased Stress

Stretching can be a powerful way to decompress. I usually tell my clients to always stretch after a long day, even if they don't do any other workout. Stretching helps you tune back into what your body is telling you. When you are busy, you can often get too worked up about all the things you need to achieve. A nice stretch once you are back from work allows you to unwind and notice those tight spots in your body that have developed throughout the day and to work on releasing that tension.

Stretching helps you stand taller and straighter, and makes you look leaner!

Better Posture

Stretching lengthens your muscles and soothes the tension buildup. When your muscles are more flexible, they are less likely to pull you into unnatural positions. An example I like to give for this are the muscles in your shoulder region. The ones responsible for rolling the shoulder inward are much stronger than those that roll it back. In some athletes, the muscle imbalance causes a visible change in posture.

Even if you are far from that point, chances are you still have your shoulders more hunched than they should be. This can be helped quite easily with a few stretching and lengthening exercises. An improved posture can prevent so many health issues and it will even make you feel more confident and productive.

How to Build a Stretching Routine?

Not all stretching exercises were created equal. There are numerous different stretches you can incorporate into your routine. When I work with clients, I always customise their stretching routines to their particular needs and goals. However, even if you are not working with a professional trainer, you can build a basic set of stretches that works for you. Here are the main types of stretches to include:

Static Stretching

Static stretching is your most basic sort of a stretch. You extend the muscles as much as you can and maintain the position for at least 30 seconds. If you are using an outside force to help with the stretch, then this is passive static stretching. This outside force could be anything from gravity, to an elastic strap, or even a partner. Active static stretching is when you are contracting the muscles that do the opposite movement to the ones you want to stretch. For instance, if you contract your triceps, your bicep will stretch.

Static stretching is perfect as a cool-down exercise. After a workout, your muscles are warm and very elastic. If you continuously challenge yourself with stretches after a workout, over time you will see a very impressive increase in your flexibility as well as overall performance.

Incorporate dynamic movement into your stretching routine

Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretching is geared around sports specific training and all about controlled movement through an exercise that mimics what you will do during the rest of your workout. I tell my clients to focus on control rather than speed when they are doing these stretches. The point here is to condition your muscles to maintain proper form as well as to improve range of motion, circulation, and mobility.

Some of my favourite dynamic stretches before a workout are twisted lunges, inchworms, and variations on the sun salutation. On rest days, I recommend doing relaxing yoga flows as they provide great full-body dynamic stretching.

When Should You Stretch?

Whenever you feel that you need it. Stretching comes naturally to animals and humans alike. Stretch right after waking up, when you start to feel stiff at your desk, and definitely before and after your training sessions. Stretching in some way will always make you feel better and if anything makes you happy do more of it!

If you have any questions about stretching please leave them in the comments below.




Are you doing it wrong? For quick results, slow things down

Here is the harsh truth: you could be working out for one hour every day, watching your diet like a hawk and yet getting little to virtually no results.

How many people have you met or seen at the gym who always seem to be there, week in week out, year after year but don't actually ever seem to change? There's a lot of them.

There are many, complex reasons for this but a big piece of the puzzle is a lack of focus on 'time under tension' training (my preferred method of generating maximum results in as little time as possible).

First, watch this video:

Fortunately, science allow us to understand what actually happens during a workout and crucially, what makes actually makes a difference and what is simply a waste of your time and accomplishing very little.

The Conventional Workout Wisdom

First let's take a look at where most conventional workouts are going wrong. For most people, going to the gym typically involves one of two things:

  1. an aerobics class such as Zumba, Spinning or something similar;
  2. 30-60 boring minutes of low intensity treadmill work plus some wasted time on the resistance machines.

While neither of those are inherently bad, and moving your body around is better than not moving your body around, people quickly become discouraged with the lack of results on the scales and in the mirror.

Being physically present in a gym or a fitness studio does not, in an of itself, produce any results whatsoever.

Pounding out hours of steady state cardio on the treadmill or the spinning bike tend not to produce a positive adaptive response

I know people that go to the gym seven times a week, eat clean and still aren't getting the result they really want.

In fact, contrary to what might be instinctive, more time in the gym or placing your body under a lot of stress from exercise day in day out can in fact harm your results, not improve them.

Focus on quality, not quantity or duration. But how?

Time Under Tension Training to The Rescue

Time under tension is the opposite of conventional exercise regimens which tend to focus on low intensity, steady state workouts. It is about slowing things down, maintaining correct (perfect) form, and triggering as much change in your muscles as possible. Most people have twigged that weight training is good for you by now (even if you're a woman).

BUT most people are doing it wrong for various reasons. The main reason? People are going too fast and not spending enough time under tension to generate a positive change.

Time under tension workouts can be performed using a swiss ball

So if you've already converted to weight/resistance training over workout DVDs, the following might apply to you:

  • As weight/resistance workouts become more challenging, people tend to speed up the set as it progresses and 'bang out those last few reps to get it done'. This is a false economy and you are in fact cheating yourself. Your body does not know the number of repetitions, only the amount of stress you place it under;
  • While this is a natural response, quick reps are actually easier. This is because you are cheating by using momentum. I'd rather see one of my clients perform a movement at a slow controlled pace for one minute with a light weight than perform 10 fast repetitions of a heavy weight.
  • Let's take an example: If you do a set of 10 repetitions in 20 seconds you have probably only properly fatigued the muscle for a very short amount of time. In other words, you haven't used up all the fuel in the muscle.
  • Compare that to slowing things down and doing a single rep in around 15 seconds - with a slow speed (cadence) of raising and lowering whatever weight you are moving.

The Do's and Don't of Time Under Tension Training


  • You do prefer compound movements instead of isolation exercises.
  • You do focus on 'time under tension' (around 90 seconds is an optimal point to reach failure).
  • You do focus on failure, not repetitions;
  • You do focus on the negative part of the movement rather than neglect it (the part where you are working with gravity in moving the weight in a controlled manner).


  • You don't stop with your arms or legs locked out at the top or bottom of the movement;
  • You don't 'swing' the bar or the weight;
  • You don't cheat by using other muscle groups to get the weight up and down;
  • You don't perform the moment so quickly that you're relying on momentum;
  • You don't 'bounce' at the bottom of a movement.
Compound movements are far superior to isolation exercises to produce maximum results

For more guidance on this, see the Can DO Plan.

It can be difficult to understand what proper time under tension training looks like, so see this video to see a proper time under tension set and how hard it can be.

If you're honest with yourself - you know when you are 'cheating' and you know how you could physically make the exercise more difficult - you need to be honest, make it hard for yourself to get results. Training with your ego doesn't work.

By placing the greatest possible demand on the muscle, we trigger the optimal amount of positive change. What is more, we reduce our risk of injury because the movement is controlled and the form is good.

Time under tension is not about counting reps, it is about making every rep count. By 'in-roading' your muscles as deeply as possible, you achieve results faster than ever.

Crossfit and other recent exercise fads are not consistent with time under tension training principles

Why Cross fit sucks

This is also why things like Crossfit (whilst better than sitting at home eating pizza) are not particularly good for you. They focus on quick reps with poor form and often weird, uncontrolled movements. Stay away from the fad diet/exercise regimes. Your body is an ancient machine that likes conventional, familiar movement, not complex 'innovations'.

Pressing the failure button

Once you've hit the 'failure' button once, there is no point pressing it over and over again. By this I mean, once  you have completed one proper time under tension set in which you have reached failure, there is no need to keep pressing the button with more sets - your body got the message the first time.

You've damaged your muscles sufficiently for them to respond and repair and for you to come back next time even better and stronger (and leaner!).

It's a bit like pressing the button to call the lift - once you've pressed it once, there's no need to keep pressing it. You'll generate more muscle mass through using this approach and that's great because more muscle mass = greater fat loss and a stronger leaner physique.

If you've reached true failure once, your body will adapt - performing multiple sets of the same exercise doesn't get you any further along the road to change

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments.

If you want to check out the full science behind the above approach, read Body by Science: A Research Based Program to Get the Results You Want in 12 Minutes a Week (NTC Sports/Fitness)







The Power Of A Workout Partner - Accountability = Results

The Power of Having a Workout Partner

In my opinion, most people don't hire a personal trainer for his or her knowledge and experience, at least not at first.

They have often tried numerous times to get fit on their own, had multiple gym memberships (that have rarely been used!) and obsessed over online diet plans, training programmes and social media "gurus" but little has changed. They just can't stay focused on their goals and sadly, never achieve their dream body.

It's not that they don't have the resources to succeed, it's all too often, the persistence that they tend to lack.

Those that have personal trainers know that they serve the key role of increasing PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY - which I believe is the key ingredient in the success of your health and fitness goals.

If you don't have access to a Personal Trainer at present, there is a very simple thing that you can do right now to increase the likelihood that you will not fall back into your bad habits and quit after two workouts... Find yourself a workout partner!

You Become The Person You Spend The Most Time With

It's catching

Harvard University researchers found that obesity can be contagious. If you spend time with people who don't treat their bodies right, you are more likely to overlook your own diet and fitness. The reverse is also true. By surrounding yourself with happy, healthy people you will see your own habits start to change.

Sometimes it's difficult to cut out friends and family who lead an unhealthy lifestyle but you can always add new ones that will encourage you to make a positive change.

Your chosen workout partner should be somebody that is actively working toward the same goals as you are. Seeing their dedication is often enough to make you more persistent. This sort of positive peer pressure comes in incredibly handy when you are first starting out and you need all of the momentum you can get.

Working out with friends is a great way to increase accountability

Accountability and Motivation

I often tell my clients to treat their gym session as they would an important work appointment. While this change of mindset can be incredibly beneficial, you are still more likely to cancel a workout session than a business meeting. It is much easier to cancel when nobody else is involved.

When you have a workout partner, your plans immediately become more difficult to cancel. Not only do you let yourself down, you let them down too.

Whats more, even if you choose to have a remote workout partner or a remote PT,  psychologically knowing that you have an agreement and you would be letting them down if you don't put in the time doing the work (nutrition or exercise) is a powerful motivator.

In terms of accountability, I have never seen a tool quite as effective as having another human to "answer to". There are so many progress tracking systems --- mobile or desktop apps, keeping a journal, ticking off days where you work out and trying to keep a streak etc. These are all much easier to lie to than a  person.

Simply having a living breathing person to check in on you makes you much more responsible in doing what you said you would do.

Finding a workout partner 


In an ideal world, we would all have a loyal friend willing to embark on a body transformation journey with us. Friends work well if your ambitions are aligned and you are roughly on a similar level in terms of fitness and motivation. Avoid a big mismatch in ability or fitness levels because it will just leave one of you demoralised and the other under-challenged. The great thing about working out with friends is you are less likely to ditch them or somehow escape when the going gets tough!

The gym class hero

Gym-organised workout or yoga classes can be a great way of meeting potential workout partners

We all have different routines and chances are that your current goals are different than those of your friends and family. Maybe you want to try proper weight lifting but all of your friends are stuck on doing hours of low intensity cardio.

Well, an simple way to get a fitness buddy is to simply start a conversation with someone at your gym. This tends to feel less awkward if you are taking a class together.

So perhaps at your next yoga or spinning class you might want to suggest buddying up with someone to spot you for the *really* effective stuff of weight training.

Training with a trainer

Personal trainers provide an excellent source of motivation, accountability and friendship

As I alluded to above, training with a personal trainer can be beneficial for a great number of reasons. They can help you define a proper training and nutrition  programme and increase your personal sense of accountability.

And if you are already working with a personal trainer, you could ask them to recommend a workout partner. Considering they know your personal fitness goals and interests better than anyone else, personal trainers are the perfect workout buddy matchmakers!

If you're a personal trainer yourself (or want to know what to expect from an excellent personal trainer) check out my book.

Trusted online programmes

Most of what is online and on YouTube is wishful thinking and designed by its very nature to get clicks. It's really tough to know exactly who you can trust online.

With that being said, home coaching products with accountability built in to the system itself can be highly effective. That's why my own online training programme is for those who want to get a head start but also seek credible advice from someone with realistic claims that is not just trying to make a quick buck online!

Free copy of the Can DO Plan

With all of the above in mind, I am looking for women to get an advanced free trial of my online video trainer, the Can DO Plan. There are currently four spots left so please do get in touch. This will feature not only hours of video content that comes in the Can DO Plan but a free hour phone consultation with me at the outset of the programme to make sure you get the most out of it and regular 'accountability calls' with me to see how things are going - just email me on with a short note on your fitness goals and we'll be in touch with the winners of the free places.



10 lies women's health and fitness magazines tell you

Women’s magazines are lying to you!

In the run up to Christmas every year, health and fitness magazines go into overdrive with ridiculous headlines such as:

'How to lose two stone in two weeks'

'Get your 21 yr old body back'


'Get little black dress ready in a week'

Obviously these headlines are there to grab your attention to sell magazines. Let me be honest with you: some things just won't be achievable in a narrow time frame as these magazines would have you believe.

If you feel as though you’re not in great shape for Christmas party season, then please don’t fall for the stories in the glossy, photoshopped pages of health magazines.

These articles are not only false advertising but they can actually be quite damaging to your long-term health and body shape.

Ten lies the health and fitness magazine industry tells you

If it looks too good to be true, it's probably airbrushed!


Take a look at the front cover of any of health and fitness magazine and inside artwork next time you're at the news stand. They are without fail, decorated with a man or woman in perfect, almost impossible, physical shape. It shouldn't come as a surprise to you that people don't actually look like that when the photograph is taken! These photos have been Photoshopped and the magazines are duping you into believing people actually look that good. It creates a false reality, don't be fooled. Even on Instagram, it's possible to nip and tuck with a finger swipe - so don't be fooled by flawless Instagram girls either.

One size fits all

The thing that frustrates me about these magazines is they offer 'one size fits all' solutions. Take a look back at the headlines I’ve written above. All of them are ludicrous as it is but they don't make any allowance for people being DIFFERENT. Just as we all look different on the outside, we all function differently on the inside. Just because Jennifer Aniston looks amazing on the cabbage soup diet, doesn’t mean that you will too!

Quick Fix

Let's assume 'Lose two stone in two weeks' really does work. What then? I’ll admit it is possible to lose a significant amount of weight in such a short period of time BUT there is a HUGE difference between weight loss and fat loss. Losing this much weight in such a short period of time often means losing a lot of body water and muscle mass. For a woman, losing muscle mass may sound like a good thing, but the reality is you need this muscle mass to give you shape and keep your metabolism high, without it you’re actually setting your body up to store more fat.

This is the reason why diets fail, you follow a massively restrictive diet for two weeks, and in doing so you put your body in a worse place, because your body is now less efficient at burning fat because you have less muscle mass as soon as you return to your normal eating pattern you’ll quickly put all of this weight back on and often a little bit more!

You need at least 30 days to make a lasting change. Don't settle for quick fixes - go for long term sustainability.

Long, steady state, low intensity cardio is the biggest lie you've been sold over the last 20 years - it doesn't work!

Cardio training

There are so many mixed messages out there about cardio training. My belief is that it can be good for you but only if performed correctly. The majority of health magazines will recommend 'steady state' cardio in which you perform the relevant exercise for long periods at a very low intensity. Put simply, this type of training doesn't work and who really has 90 minutes per day to find time to exercise?! It's best to go high intensity with your cardio for intervals, or, even better, try weights.

Spot training

Spot training is targeting very specific areas of your body. Sports scientists are in basic agreement that there is no such thing as spot fat reduction. And yet, these magazines continue to promote training protocols that offer to 'shed to belly fat' 'lose your bingo wings' or 'lose your flabby butt'.  Whilst you can strengthen and tone the underlying muscles, your body has a pre-determined order in which it loses body fat, and sadly, you can't play god. A long term plan with full body training and a continued healthy eating plan will always achieve the results that this type of training simply can’t.

Calorie restriction diets will just make you grumpy 

Calorie restriction diet 

Far too many diets in magazines are focussed on 'calorie restriction' rather than focussing on reducing inflammation and increasing 'good calories' such as quality proteins carbohydrates and fats. Obviously, you can't just consume as many good calories as you want. But strict, calorie counting, diets have been done to death. They'll leave you feeling tired and worn out and you'll eventually give in to cravings. Eat a diet of real clean food that energises you and follow a progressive training programme in order to change your body shape.


A lot of these magazines suggest their programmes are 'easy': such as 'try these 3 simple steps', 'learn the big secret to losing belly fat'. Nothing is 'easy' if it's worth having. It doesn't have to be crushingly difficult but let’s be honest, if you really want to make a change, it will not be easy.

'Fad' diets

The reason that magazines advertise fad diets is because they sell well. Usually, it's the same old diet with a few simple tweaks here and there - rebranded, perhaps with a celebrity endorsement to gain a few extra sales! Don’t believe the hype of a new fad diet.


Be careful when these magazines talk about any kind of quote 'expert', sure: they're called a 'health and fitness expert' but what has this person actually done to get that title? Usually nothing, they just like the idea of getting their name in a magazine! Only trust people that can back up their claims with qualifications and give their real name.

With incremental, sustainable progress you'll get there.

No motivation to continue

A classic problem is starting a diet in a bubble of motivation and enthusiasm and then the bubble bursts, leaving the individual depleted and feeling like a failure. Most people think that motivation leads to action but it's the other way round. Do one thing first, get motivated by your own mini successes and pretty soon you'll have great momentum towards your goals.

I don't believe in the promises of health and fitness magazines, what I do believe in is steady progress towards your dream physique. If you want to discover a nutrition programme that guarantees results and works for your specific needs in a safe and effective manner whilst really looking after your body - check out the Can DO Plan.

If you want to find out more, you can contact me directly here.

Running Advice and Red Bull Wings For Life Run

On Sunday, 7 May I am running alongside my colleagues and friends in the 'Wings For Life World Run' an incredibly innovative charity event sponsored by Red Bull (where I currently serve as Human Performance Coach to the Formula One Racing Team). The run is unique in the sense that every participant will finish the race. Why? Because there is no finish line! Oh, and there's also a car that chases all participants down to decide the winner.

I have to say, I'm excited because in previous years everyone has pushed themselves to the max and it's always great fun running alongside a couple of famous faces! The event is ideally aligned with my overall training philosophy: everyone comes to exercise from different starting points and it's about taking action and doing what is achievable for you.

I've been gearing up for this event for some time with my friends and co-workers and I thought I'd share a message I sent to Red Bull employees on Monday to prep them for race day.

If you're taking part good luck!

Here's the email I sent on Monday, enjoy and leave any questions in the comments below:

Wings For Life Run

It’s less than a week to go until race day and typically in the build up to a big event there is a huge amount of confusion over what to do or not to do. So before you head out for that one last big run, (again!) or load up on bowl after bowl of pasta, or simply wrap yourself in cotton wool and wait for Sunday to arrive, here are my top tips to get you through this week and really enjoy the race on Sunday…

Don’t Worry!

The biggest problem I see with so many runners, no matter how experienced they are is a fear of not finishing. The good news is this doesn’t apply with the wings for life event as there is no finish line and with it being such a positive charity event that so many of you from the factory have signed up to (125 and counting!) it’s an opportunity to just get out and enjoy a great event with so many great people. So put those fears aside and have fun.

Eat what works for you.

Please don’t start googling “pre run event meal suggestions” to try out new carb loading meals this week. We are all very different athletes and therefore what works for one may have a very bad effect on someone else. Loading up on very high carbohydrate based meals this week will give some of you a bit of a boost but may upset the stomachs of others! Just stick to whatever has worked for you in the past.

I would also recommend that rather than devouring a gigantic bowl of pasta the night before the race, which will probably sit very heavily on your and upset your digestion, try eating carbs in small increments throughout the day before the race.

With regards to your pre-race preparation, I would again advise that you don’t eat anything too heavy within two hours of the race. Have a good early morning breakfast and then my pre-race choice would be a smoothie containing fruit and yogurt as it gives a good balance of carbs and protein but not too much fibre.

Get ready the night before.

Make the whole day an enjoyable experience, don’t be stressing at the last minute. Make sure you lay out all of your race kit the night before and aim to get as close to eight hours of sleep as possible.

Don’t do anything new

The week of a race, or even race day itself isn’t the time to be trying out new trainers! Likewise with compression tights or any other fancy new training gear. No matter how cool you make look at the start line if you haven’t tried these things out in several previous runs, don’t try it on Sunday. Just stick to the routine that works for you.

Guarantee success

Remember this is a great charity event and therefore you want to make sure you have a positive experience. So I would advise that you set at least two goals for race day. Set one goal for a perfect race and another as a back-up, in case the weather has a big impact, you pick up an unexpected injury or it’s simply not your day.

Having spoken to a few of the guys that ran last year on what turned out to be the hottest day of the year, all of them fell short of their distance goal and as a result they left the event feeling a bit disappointed. If something makes your first goal impossible halfway through the race, you’ll need another goal to motivate you to finish strong.

Start slow, and stay even. 

One final piece of advice, I would strongly advise that if you’re relatively new to big race events then you should run the first 10 percent of the race a fraction slower than you normally would, with the idea that you’ll finish strong.

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the event and pace yourself alongside other runners that head off a lot faster than your normal race pace. If you do this, you risk burning out early. Try to keep an even pace throughout the race, and save your extra energy for later on in the race.

I hope these little tips will allow you to relax, look after yourself this week and thoroughly enjoy yourself on Sunday.

I’ll follow up on Monday with some post-race tips to reduce any of those aches and pains and ensure you have a speedy recovery!