Thursday, November 27, 2008

"You put high heels on and change" - Manolo Blahnik

The Sun newspaper reported today that baby's high heels were to go on sale for children up to the age of six months, provoking a lot of controversy.

Read the article here

See what company director Graeme Marsh has to say on the subject:

Phew, where do you start with this one? Is it all a bit of harmless fun, or is it another example of parents who seem loathe to let kids just be like kids and insist on dressing them up like little dolls to show off at friends parties? While I am all for grown women dressing up in their Jimmy Choo's for a night out, we can't seriously be considering putting our toddlers in high heels! This just seems wrong on so many levels that it is hard to know where to begin. It is amazing how little thought seems to have gone into the possible physical repercussions of this, let alone the psychological aspects. Trying on mums shoes is one thing, but buying tiny tots a pair of miniature high heels is another entirely. Is it just me who finds these pictures just a little disturbing?

These shoes aren't actually heels, and are aimed at catching the kids prior to walking, but I wonder if the creators are aware how susceptible to environmental influences kids are at that age. We all recognise how harmful heels can be to grown women, let alone messing around with the feet of growing toddlers. The difference is that grown women can get a choice. Is there a chance these shows could be harmful to a child's development? Maybe so, maybe not, although most experts would agree that it is probably not the best move at such a young age.

At the end of the day it seems like not much more than a light-hearted novelty product, although you wonder if they are popular with the same parents who like to show kids off at child beauty pageants putting make up on 8 year olds?? Why is it that we try to get kids to grow up so quick these days? I am sure if they realised how much of a pain in the arse being a grown up can be then most of them wouldn't be thanking us for it!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

'It ain't what you do its the way that you do it....why intensity is key to burning body fat' - by company director Graeme Marsh

There are often heated arguments between trainers about what the best type of exercise is for losing body fat. However, the simple fact is that results more often than not come down to how HARD you work, rather than WHAT you work or HOW long you work it for. Indeed, it is not uncommon to see internet articles where some form of exercise is being touted as the latest big thing for fat loss. Alternatively, many staples of the average exercise routine have been torn to shreds as a fat loss tool, where more often than not it is the intensity - a legacy from the days of the fat burning myths - that fails to get the mention it should. Why? Because most people would rather hear that they can do gentle exercise and lose weight without breaking a sweat! Sorry, but that only works in fantasy land folks. If you want to get real fat loss results then you need to get working hard and for the doubters, here is a little proof!

I want to share a study with you from the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise that is about to go to print.

Here is the abstract.....

To save you reading it here is the skinny on what happened. Two groups (well three if you include the control group) of middle-aged overweight women, one group exercised 5 days per week at an intensity below their lactate threshold (this is where lactate levels start to rise in the body and is normally associated with a bit of discomfort), the other group did two days at the same level , then 3 days at an intensity just above the lactate threshold. Both groups exercised until they used 400 calories per session and did this for 16 weeks straight.

The end result? Those who exercised at low intensity saw NO significant changes compared to the control group. Those who included higher intensity exercise had significant reductions in abdominal fat - both the fat under the skin (subcutaneous) and around the organs (visceral). The authors of the study concluded that "body composition changes are affected by the intensity of exercise training with HIET more effectively for reducing total abdominal fat, subcutaneous abdominal fat, and AVF in obese women with the metabolic syndrome."

Now, this is a pretty cool study. It matched caloric expenditure, which again goes to prove that there is more to fat loss than simply burning calories. Granted, this is working with a group of untrained, obese, middle-aged women, so we need to be realistic about the applications, but there are many, many women who fit this category who are failing in their fat loss efforts. Are they failing through a lack of time? Is it through the wrong type of exercise? Or is it more to do with the level of intensity they are working at? Well, chances are there are elements of all three, but this study goes to show the impact of simply not training hard enough. For too long now, women have been told that lower-intensity exercise in the 'fat burning zone' is the way to burn bodyfat. The sooner we can dispel this rubbish the better. Steady-state aerobic training has very limited value (although it does have some) as a tool for improving body composition and this study is a classic example of that.

The bottom line here is that if you want to see fat loss for all your fitness efforts then its time to quit with the long sessions of low intensity training. Now, for some this isn't exactly a newsflash, but for many out there it may mean a departure from their current training. The good news is that by training using shorter, more intense workouts (a format we use at Aegis Training for creating effective fat loss routines) you can get more results for less time invested.

In part 2 we will be suggesting some ways that you can alter your training to take this principle into account.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Obama Workout

One of the main reasons people give for not meeting their fitness goals is lack of free time. On the other hand, it was reported that the day after he won the US election, Barack Obama was in the gym at 5am. Now, while I appreciate we all have busy lives, do you really think you're busier than a president?

Training success for busy people comes down to two things - making your health a priority , and using your time efficiently. This is were we can help. At Aegis Training we are used to training people with stressful jobs and very little free time, sometimes as little as two or three half-hour time slots a week. There is no time for pointless exercises or wasted reps, workouts need to be short, sharp and effective. If this sounds like you , here are a few tips for getting the most bang for your buck at every session.

1 - Perform a productive warm-up: In other words don't just plod away on the treadmill for a bit or, even worse, skip the warm-up altogether. See it as an opportunity to improve your posture (making you look slimmer and more confident) and relieve any aches and pains which inevitably come from sitting slouched over a keyboard all day. When under stress we tend to tense up around the shoulders making this situation even worse. Spend 5 minutes foam rolling the outer and inner thigh, stretching the hip flexors and calves and performing some dynamic mobility drills for the hips and shoulders(to be covered in next weeks post). Don't wait till you're too injured to train to take your warm-up seriously! Time allotted - 5minutes

2 - Strength Training: The most productive thing you can do in the gym, training with weights will get you slim and toned far faster than any amount of long, boring cardio. Many of my clients who have had years of frustrating, poor results from endless "fatburning" cardio, have been amazed at the weight loss that results from actually challenging your body with a properly designed weights program.
When stuck for time you need to focus on the most productive exercises and do full body routines. You should include one lower body exercise such as the squat, deadlift or lunge, one upper body push such as the bench press or standing shoulder press , and one upper body pull such as the lat pulldown or cable row. And don't be afraid of heavy weights with lower repetitions, avoid the pink dumbbells and try 3 sets of 4-6 reps with a challenging weight. There's no point being the most powerful person in the world if you're a wimp in the gym, is there?
Three exercises, your whole body trained! time allotted - 15 minutes

3 - Intelligent Cardio: if you've been paying attention you'll know I'm not a fan of long, slow , boring, unproductive aerobic training. If all you've been doing in the gym is jogging for half an hour, it's time to join us in the 21st century and use your time more wisely. The bottom line - work harder for less time. A good example of this is interval training -if you're training at a typical gym, hop on a bike, treadmill or rower and go as fast as you can for one minute, then slow right down and recover for a minute and repeat another 4 times.

This is one method, however an even better option would be to do some form of functional activity such dragging a sled , hitting a tyre with a sledgehammer or swinging a kettlebell (we do plenty of this at the Aegis Training studio). If you really want to test yourself try the tabata method with kettlebell swings. Simply perform as many swings as possible in 20 seconds rest for 10 seconds, and repeat another 7 times. This method, despite lasting only 4 minutes, has been shown to be more effective at improving cardiovascular fitness than an hour of low intensity jogging.

These activities don't lock your body into a fixed movement pattern like typical cardio equipment and so have far more functional carry-over to real life. They are also a great form of stress relief.

Once again, the mantra is keep it hard but brief.
Not only will this get you leaner and fitter faster, it's waaay less boring. Time allotted - 10minutes.

And there you have it. Finish of with a couple of quick stretches for tight areas (usually the pectorals, hip flexors and hamstrings) and you got a 30 minute workout that beats the hell out of what everyone else in the gym is doing. And you still have time to run the country!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Perfect Omelette

As we saw in the last post, eating eggs at breakfast is a great choice. So to get you day off to a great start try our recipe for the perfect omelette:


2 whole large free range eggs
2 free range egg whites
30g mozzarella cheese
1 dessertspoon of finely chopped onion/chives/spring onion
1/2 teaspoon of butter

Here’s How:

• Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites, being careful not to allow any yolk into the whites.
• Place whites in a large clean, dry bowl and beat until light and fluffy.
• In a smaller separate bowl beat the egg yolks with a fork, adding in pepper or any additional seasoning.
• Heat the butter in a medium sized nonstick frying pan and preheat the grill.
• Gently fold the egg yolk into the whites along with the mozzarella cheese.
• Spoon the mixture into the frying pan.
• Allow to cook until the underneath sets, this should take 1-2 minutes.
• Now take the pan from the hot plate and place under the grill until the omelette is cooked but not over done.
• Using a spatula, loosen the omelette carefully, gently folding it and slide onto a serving plate.
• Serve with sliced grilled tomoato and wilted spinach.

Eggs are the Better Breakfast Choice

A study shows that eating two eggs for breakfast as part of a reduced-calorie diet, helps overweight adults lose more weight and feel more energetic than those who eat a bagel breakfast of equal calories. This study supports previous research which showed that people who ate eggs for breakfast felt more satisfied and ate fewer calories at the following meal.

Compared to the subjects who ate a bagel breakfast, men and women who consumed two eggs for breakfast as part of a reduced-calorie diet:

Lost 65 percent more weight
Exhibited a 61 percent greater reduction in BMI
Reported higher energy levels
The egg and bagel breakfasts provided the same number of calories.

Eurekalert August 5, 2008
International Journal of Obesity August 5, 2008 [Epub ahead of print]
Journal of the American College of Nutrition December 2005; 24(6):510-5
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition May 2008; 87(5):1554S-1557S

For the rest of the article please see

Friday, November 07, 2008

4 tips for a better squat by senior trainer Zack Cahill

The squat is one of the most beneficial exercises you can do, when performed correctly. Unfortunately a properly performed squat is a rare sight indeed in most gyms. Here are some of the most common technical flaws and a quick guide on how to fix them.

1- Inadequate depth : To get the most from the squat the thighs should at least reach parallel to the floor, or deeper providing the lower back does not round. Often, people feel as if they will fall backwards if they squat deeply. This can be for a number of reasons but one quick and easy way to help this is to perform a box squat. Simply place a box or bench behind you at the desired height (usually about 14 inches) and sit back onto it keeping the midsection braced. Pause for a moment on the box and then stand up explosively.
Increasing strength in the posterior chain (ie the hamstrings, glutes and lower back) is also helpful in this case. Try performing back extensions or romanian deadlifts to bring this up to par.

2- Knees buckle in or out: Depending on the point when this occurs in the squat movement this can be adhesions in either the adductors (inner thigh) or ITB (outer thigh). Cut out the guess work and perform 5 minutes of foam rolling on both the inner and outer thighs at the start of every workout, concentrating on the most painful sections.

3 - Upper body tips too far forward: This is usually due to tight hip flexors. Aggressively target hip flexor flexibility by stretching them every time you train. Hold the following stretch for 15 seconds and repeat 3 times.

4- feet turn out excessively at the bottom of the squat: This is often due to a tight piriformis, a small muscle which rotates the leg outward. perform the following stretch for 15 seconds at the start of every training session.

Don't settle for poor technique! Try these solutions and start squatting for real.

4 Tips to a better squat from Team Aegis on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

5 good reasons to.......drink green tea - by Aegis Director Graeme Marsh

1. Green tea inhibits the work of an enzyme called Aromatase, which converts testosterone into the very potent estrogen - estradiol. 'So what?' I hear you say. O.k let me explain. A lifetime of exposure to high levels of estradiol puts you at increased risk of breast cancer. In fact it is possibly the single biggest independent risk factor. Guess what guys, that includes you, along with the less publicised but equally nasty prostate cancer that also is sensitve to estrogen levels and that's before I mentioned heart attacks, diabetes, and the dreaded man boobs.

2. Green Tea increases energy expenditure and is probably the most well-proven fat burning beverage that you can consume. Some studies have shown positive effects on as little as two cups a day! So, if you are on a programme to reduce bodyfat you had better start getting a few cups a day down you.

3. Hold on, i'm about to go all boffin like again....Green tea polyphenols (compounds contained in good numbers specifically in green tea) have been shown to slow down the work of a receptor in the body that increases something called Cytochrome CYP1B1. short this particular cytochrome has been seen to be elevated in cancers such as lung cancer and it may explain why there are so many links between green tea consumption and reduced cancer risk. Either way, it has to be worth doing if it can reduce your risk of cancer.

4. Green Tea is an anti-inflammatory. Yup, that means it can help anyone with inflammatory conditions (think arthritis, asthma, IBD etc) It does this by reducing something called NF Kappa B, which basically dictates your immune system response. Now you wouldn't want to get rid of it entirely, because like most things in the body it is there for a reason. However, living in a constant state of inflammation is not good and drinking green tea can help to modulate that.

5. When things go bad, we like to have a cup of tea and there is some science behind it. The L-theanine found in green tea has been shown to promote feelings of relaxation and to help counter the excitement caused by caffeine. Together with the EGCG, the caffeine and theanine are the holy trinity of fat loss behind green tea.

6. O.k I now I said five, but did you know that the polyphenols in green tea have also been shown to be anti-cariogenic. Now, chances are only one of my clients knows what that means, but in short it means that drinking green tea can actually help to prevent tooth decay.

Amazing. in fact I could go on. There is so much clinical research supporting the use of green tea that it amazes me we aren't all drinking it. I was surprised to see however that Cancer Research UK state on their site that there is no real evidence that green tea might help with cancer citing weaknesses in the studies and a host of potential reasons not to get excited. Perhaps this page needs updating as there certainly are encouraging signs that show that green tea may well have a large part to play in reducing risk of many different types of cancer ranging from prostate through to epithelial ovarian cancer. A short search by me found the following statement by Shankar et al (2007) in the Journal for Frontiers in Bioscience. No evidence would seem a slightly conservative statement don't you think?

Multiple lines of evidence, mostly from population-based studies, suggest that green tea consumption is associated with reduced risk of several human malignancies such as cancer and diabetes. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a major polyphenol found in green tea, is a widely studied chemopreventive agent with potential anticancer activity. Green tea polyphenols inhibit angiogenesis and metastasis, and induce growth arrest and apoptosis through regulation of multiple signaling pathways.

In short, drinking green tea is a simple, cheap, and easy way to potentially lower your cancer risk. While there may be issues with the lack of randomised placebo controlled studies on humans, the signs are certainly positive and as it is such a cheap and easy way to possibly lower your risk of several cancers and thats a chance i'm certainly willing to take.

So what are you waiting for? Get the kettle on!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Keep a diary and someday it will keep you.

A new study has shown dieters who keep a food diary can double their chances of losing weight as reported in Marie Claire magazine.

Read the full story HERE: Food Dairy Weight Loss

Aegis Director Graeme Marsh says: Keeping a food diary can be an enlightening process and can certainly make you more aware of what you are eating and its easy to see how they can be a useful tool in weight loss. Just like many successful diet/weight loss programmes, keeping a diary can often help to change behaviours or highlight to clients where they are going wrong with their eating. For some it may trigger emotions of guilt or embarrassment, while for others it can simply seem like a chore, particularly for those who don't have a penchant for writing or recording. However, like any other tool, it is also corruptible and not without faults and it requires a diligent effort to ensure an accurate recollection of everything you eat and drink over the course of a few days.
My top tips for a food diary are to work over a period of 3 days, 5 at the most. This should be plenty to get an idea of your clients dietary habits, while being at the upper limit of what is practical for most to record. Next, be sure to include as much information - this is definitely a case of quality over quality. Just listing food choices gives you limited help, but if timings, amounts, and all beverages/condiments etc are included along with lifestyle issues like sleep and moods, then you can start to build a more accurate picture of everything from calorie intake through to identifying blocks to success in their current programme.

In the next post I'll cover some of the things you should be looking at when looking at your own food diary.

At last....a new blog entry!

You may have noticed that the Aegis Training blog entries have been a bit sparse of late....well that's all about to change! Our new blog will be updated everyday with all the latest health and fitness news, as well as regular updates on what we've all been up to here at Aegis Training.

We've got a lot going on at the moment, which you can find out all about in our new monthly newsletter, so make sure you subscribe now!

If you had any questions or queries or wanted to add something to our newsletter, please get in contact at