BBQ Special


July often signifies the start to summer, the sun comes out, the kids have time off school and there is the temptation of BBQs, Buffets and Booze.

It’s not a case of locking yourself in your house for the whole summer; it’s more a case of being sensible on what you eat. We have provided a list of Bread rolls and their calories so you can enjoy a guilt free burger plus a look at what is the best alcohol to drink at a BBQ. Remember you can have a treat, it is about a lifestyle not a diet and we want you to enjoy yourselves. However, be aware that these calories will go towards your daily target and you don’t want to go over too many times. To help with this we have provided a selection of seasonal tasty treats and meals that will leave you full, nourished and on track for a slimmer summer.


Chicken Tikka Skewers

 What you need (serves 4)


  • 150g natural yogurt
  • 2 tbsp hot curry paste
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 250g pack cherry tomatoes
  • 4 wholemeal chapatis, warmed, to serve

For the cucumber salad

  • ½ cucumber, halved lengthways, deseeded and sliced
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • handful chopped coriander leaves
  • juice 1 lemon
  • 50g pack lamb’s lettuces or pea shoots


How to make it


  1. Put 8 wooden skewers in a bowl of water to soak. Mix the yogurt and curry paste together in a bowl, then add the chicken (if you have time, marinate for an hr or so). In a large bowl, toss together the cucumber, red onion, coriander and lemon juice. Chill until ready to serve.
  2. Shake off any excess marinade, then thread the chicken pieces and cherry tomatoes onto the pre-soaked skewers. Cook under a medium grill for 15-20 mins, turning from time to time, until cooked through and nicely browned.
  3. Stir the lettuce or pea shoots into the salad, then divide between 4 plates. Top each serving with 2 chicken tikka skewers and serve with the warm chapatis

214 calories per serving,

Protein 37g, carbs 8g, fat 4g, saturates 1g, fibre 1g, sugar 7g, salt 0.61g,


Thai Burgers

What you need (serves 2 – can easily be doubled to serve 4)

  • 2 sweet potatoes, cut into wedges
  • olive oil
  • 400g minced pork
  • 1 tbsp Thai red curry paste
  • 1 red onion, ½ grated, ½ finely diced
  • small bunch coriander, chopped
  • 1 mango, diced
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • ½ lime, juiced
  • Little Gem lettuce, to serve


How to make it

  1. Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Toss the potato wedges with 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Put on a baking tray and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 20-25 minutes until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, mix together the pork, curry paste, grated onion and half the coriander. Season and form into 4 burgers. Brush the burgers with a little oil then grill or griddle for 5-6 minutes each side until they are cooked through.
  3. For the mango salsa, mix the mango, chilli and the rest of the coriander with the lime juice. To serve, put a burger on top of some little gem leaves and spoon over some salsa. Serve with the sweet potato wedges.

242 Calories per serving, Protein 23.6g, carbs 27.9g, fat 4.8g, saturates 1.6g, fibre 4g,


Halloumi Wrapped in Red Pepper


What you need (serves 4)

  • 4 red peppers
  • 200g block halloumi cheese, sliced into 4
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • oregano chopped to make 2 tsp or 1 tsp dried
  • 4 black or green olives, cut into slivers
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice

How to make it

  1. Grill or roast the red peppers whole until they begin to soften (if you like them skinned, keep going until you can skin them). You need them soft enough to wrap the cheese but not too soft or you won’t be able to cook them again.
  2. Open out each red pepper by making a cut down one side and trim the tops and bottoms off so you end up with a strip. Put a slice of halloumi in the center of each strip. Sprinkle over some lemon zest and juice, divide the chilli, oregano and olive between them, then roll the red pepper around the halloumi. It doesn’t matter if the cheese sticks out at each end. Tie the rolls with some kitchen string that you have soaked in water (or secure with a cocktail stick) and press down with the palm of your hand so they flatten slightly.
  3. Heat the barbecue. Barbecue the red peppers on both sides for 5 minutes or until they are starting to char and the cheese is softening and browning at the ends (keep an eye on the string as it could burn off).

206 Calories per serving, protein 11.6g, carbs 10.3g, fat 13.4g, saturates 7.5g, fibre 2.5g,


BBQ Chicken Burgers

What you need (serves 4)

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 4 rashers bacon (optional)
  • 4 large burger buns, sliced in half
  • lettuce, tomato and red onion, to serve

For the sauce and marinade

  • 4 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 4 tbsp brown sauce
  • splash chilli sauce (optional)
  • 2 tsp clear honey
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed


How to make it

  1. Make the sauce and marinade by mixing everything together in a large bowl, then put a few spoonfuls aside. Slice halfway into the thickest part of each breast and open it up like a book. Flatten down slightly with your hand, then toss in the bowlful of marinade to coat. Chill for as little, or as long, as you have time to.
  2. Barbecue the chicken for about 10 mins until completely cooked through, turning so it doesn’t burn but is nicely charred and sticky. Cook the bacon at the same time until crisp, if using, and toast the buns. Assemble the burgers with lettuce, slices of tomato, onion and the reserved sauce on the side for dolloping on top.


406 Calories per serving, Protein 43g, carbs 48g, fat 6g, saturates 2g, fibre 2g


Jerk pork & pineapple skewers with black beans & rice

What you need (serves 4)

  • 400g pork fillets, cut into 4cm chunks
  • 2 tbsp jerk or Creole seasoning
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tbsp hot chilli sauce, plus extra to serve (optional)
  • 3 limes, zest and juice 1, other 2 cut into wedges to serve
  • ½ small pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into 4cm chunks
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 200g basmati rice
  • 400g can black beans, drained and rinsed

How to make it

  1. Mix together the pork, jerk seasoning, allspice, chilli sauce, if using, lime zest and juice, and some seasoning. Thread the pork and pineapple onto metal skewers (or pre-soaked wooden skewers) and brush with the oil.
  2. Cook rice following pack instructions. Drain well, then put back in the saucepan with the beans, stir and keep warm.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a griddle pan until very hot. Cook the skewers for 3 mins on each side until nicely charred and the pork is cooked through. Serve skewers with the beans and rice, extra chilli sauce, if you like, and lime wedges for squeezing over.

451 Calories per serving, Protein 30g, carbs 57g, fat 10g, saturates 3g, fibre 6g,


Spicy Yogurt Chicken

What you need (serves 4)

  • 8 skinless chicken drumsticks
  • 142ml pot natural yogurt
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric

How to make it

  1. With a sharp knife, make a few slashes in each drumstick. Mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl, season to taste. Add the drumsticks, rubbing the mixture well into the meat. If you have time, cover and chill for 30 mins.
  2. Remove the drumsticks from the marinade, shaking off the excess. Cook them on the barbecue for 20-25 mins, turning occasionally, until cooked through.

229 Calories per serving, Protein 37g, carbs 6g, fat 7g, saturates 2g, fibre 0g


New potato & tamarind salad

  • 1½ tbsp tamarind pulp or paste
  • 50g golden muscovado sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • thumb-sized piece ginger, chopped
  • 1.2kg new potatoes
  • 3 tbsp natural low-fat yogurt
  • 4 tbsp chopped coriander

How to make it

  1. To make the dressing, put the tamarind pulp in a small pan, pour over 75ml boiling water and add the sugar, cumin and ginger. Simmer, without a lid, until the dressing thickens and becomes syrupy, about 10-15 mins. It should have a pleasant tang – add extra sugar if needed.
  2. While the tamarind is cooking, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the potatoes. Return to the boil and cook for 15 mins until tender. Drain, then cool slightly before halving them. Transfer to a big mixing bowl and spoon over the dressing, gently stirring to make sure the potatoes are well coated. Drizzle over the yogurt, scatter over the coriander, and serve warm or at room temperature.

196 Calories per serving, protein 5g, carbs 42g, fat 1g, saturates 0g, fibre 3g,



The bread rolls –


Calories Per Roll

Protein (g)

Carbohydrate (g)

Fat (g)

Asda large Brown Roll





Kingsmill White rolls





M&S Crusty Roll





Tesco Large White Bap





Tesco White soft Roll





When eating Burgers or Hot Dogs at a BBQ be aware the bread roll is often more calories than the burger itself! Chose carefully or leave the bread alone altogether.


Alcohol at BBQs

If you are going to drink at a BBQ which is the best drink to have?

Drink Amount Calories
Magners / Bulmers 1 Pint 233
Carlsberg 1 Pint 182
Becks 1 Pint 233
San Miguel 1 Pint 256
Stella 1 Pint 193
Guiness 1 Pint 210
John Smiths 1 Pint 153
Tetley Smoothflow 1 Pint 187
Dry White 250ml 180
Med White 250ml 190
Sweet White 250ml 240
Rose 250ml 180
Red 250ml 180
Cava (Dry) 250ml 190
Cava (Med) 250ml 200
Cava (Sweet) 250ml 240
Lambrini 250ml 80
Moet et Chandon 250ml 190
Jacobs Creek Sparkling 250ml 190
WKD 1 Bottle 184
Smirnoff Ice 1 Bottle 157
Barcardi Breezer 1 Bottle 154
Corona 1 Bottle 139

How to drink less and save calories

  • Alternate a glass of wine with water or low-calorie soft drink, or try adding soda water to a glass of wine to make a long refreshing spritzer – lots of ice too!
  • Go for a small glass of wine (125ml), rather than a medium (175ml) or large (250ml) glass and steer clear of special offers like ‘buy two large glasses and get the bottle of wine free’ – a saving for your purse as well as your hips/bum/tum!
  • If you are drinking wine at home always use a small glass (125ml) and keep the bottle in the kitchen so you have to get up to have another. This might give you enough time to decide not to have a refill. Add lemonade to make the drink longer!
  • Cut down the alcohol in wine by swapping your usual strength of wine for a lower strength. Some wines can have an ABV (Alcohol by Volume) as high as 14% or 15%. Low-alcohol wines have ABVs of 9% and lower.
  • Bottles of beer have less in them and is a good way to reduce the calories, Carona for example has just 139cals in a bottle compared to nearly 200cals in a pint of lager.

FAD Diets

FAD Diets

There are many different diets available. New Life Training has researched many of the most popular schemes. Then using the science behind weight loss and real peoples feedback we have devised a weight loss program that is safe, effective and that can provide a long term solution to weight management and a healthy lifestyle.

Some of the most commonly used diets are shown here, though you may come across other variations of these. It is important to understand these diets and what they can do to you both long term and short term. With New Life Training you may not get the quick results some of these diets provide, but we are sure we will create a lifestyle that will keep you thinner and healthier for longer.


Theory – high protein (low carbohydrate) diets suppresses the appetite through the bodies reliance on fat metabolism, i.e. If the body isn’t given carbohydrates it will inefficiently burn fat instead.

Short term – people tend to consume less food as only the protein parts of meals are consumed, the reduction in calories results in weight loss

Long term – can lead to a reduction in energy levels, head-aches, bad breath and gastrointestinal problems. This diet can produce excessive strain on the liver and kidneys and is likely to cause dehydration. This diet is also often high in saturated fat from the animal fats which are in the protein foods.


Theory – based on severe calorie restriction

Short term – this diet is really easy to prepare are has immediate results which makes it very attractive to people

Long term – does not encourage lifestyle change. The significant reduction in calories will have a negative effect on your metabolism as the body breaks down the lean body mass to fuel the body. The food is often bland and boring and makes any sort of social life difficult.


Theory – stops you mixing carbohydrates and proteins in the same meal. This is based on the theory that the enzymes used to break down each food group will work more efficiently if no other food group is present in the stomach at the time.

Short term – It speeds up the passage of food through the digestive system. Adequate fibre intake has numerous benefits, and most people don’t consume enough fibre.

Long term – can lead to abdominal pain and flatulence. Often the taste and the need to drink a lot of water put people off.


Theory – that a specific menu plan developed by a company will guarantee effective weight loss

Short term – Benefits based around quite sound principles. A of group like-minded people will provide support and encouragement, specific meeting times will encourage adherence to the programme.

Long term – tactics used are sometimes not psychologically beneficial, guilt-trips, sin foods and dependence on scales. These can be expensive long term and often lifestyle changes are not adopted before individuals give up the programme.


Theory – That severe calorific restriction will ensure a negative energy balance very quickly. This diet is only recommended for people with severe obesity with body fat totaling 40 -50% and above. This diet should only be conducted under medical supervision.

Short-term – Large weight loss in a very short time span

Long-Term – Large loss of muscle tissue that may not return thus decreasing lean body mass levels and metabolism. This diet has been known to affect the critical organs such as the heart. These diets have poor success rate.


This is when an individual diets for short periods of time followed by periods of normal or binge eating. Usually the diet is very low calorie.

It is now known that repetitive dieting has a detrimental effect on the bodies resting Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), the rate at which the body uses calories at rest. In cases of severe caloric restriction the BMR can be reduced by up to 45% with the depression of BMR enhanced with each subsequent attempt to diet. When this happens dieters often find their diet to be ineffective, they become depressed and return to normal eating habits. Studies have shown that weight gain occurs quicker with repeated cycles of body mass loss. Research has also shown that continuous yo-yo dieting is associated with a higher risk to health than no dieting at all. You can increase your BMR through eating the right foods and through exercise, thus burning more calories at rest.

At New Life Training we will approach nutrition on an individual basis, analysing what you currently consume and adapt it to encourage a long term success in which you can still enjoy your food and lifestyle. For more information contact Mark on 07771 985015 to discuss how we can help you lose weight without crash dieting and effecting your long term health and metabolism.

Tabata Training


The buzz around HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is poised to dramatically intensify with the launch of the official ‘Tabata™ Protocol’, a new workout system based on HIIT principles which is set to become the UK’s latest hot fitness craze. New Life Training have delivered similar HIIT classes for several years but now we have moved up a gear!!

The ‘Tabata™ Protocol’ is science–based and has been developed over many years by renowned Japanese sport and health science guru Professor Izumi Tabata. The workouts within the ‘Tabata™ Protocol’ consist of 20 seconds of intense exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated eight times. This amounts to just 4 minutes in total. It’s the perfect fitness solution for busy, time poor fitness seekers, and what’s more the routine has been scientifically proven be the best way to burn fat and get fit fast. In control tests the ‘Tabata™ Protocol’ increased VO2max (a universal measurement of fitness levels) in elite athletes’ by 13% in just six weeks.

The Tabata classes delivered by New Life Training are geared for me and you and not elite athletes. They will still leave you fitter, healthier and hopefully slimmer. The link below explains more about Tabata, but if you are interested in having a go, contact Mark on 07771 985015.

Training Lactate Threshold and OBLA

For many, running further or faster, or being fitter and healthier is a common goal. We often measure our fitness by the way we feel. However there is a more scientific measurement to determine fitness levels. Maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max) is the maximum capacity of an individual’s body to transport and use oxygen during exercise. It is widely accepted as the single best measure of cardiovascular fitness.
The average untrained healthy male will have a VO2 max of approximately 35-40 ml/kg/min. The average untrained healthy female will score a VO2 max of approximately 27-31 ml/kg/min. Therefore absolute values of VO2 max are typically 40-60% higher in men than in women. A persons VO2 max will often decrease with age without training, though the degree of train-ability also varies very widely: conditioning may double VO2 max in some individuals, and will marginally improve it in others.

In sports where endurance is an important component in performance, such as running, rowing and cycling world class athletes typically have high VO2 max. With some elite male runners consuming up to 85 ml/kg/min, and female elite runners can consume about 77 ml/kg/min. The highest values in absolute terms are often found in rowers, as their much greater bulk makes up for a slightly lower VO2 max per kg.

VO2 max is effected by lactate threshold (LT). This is the point at which lactate (more specifically, lactic acid) starts to accumulate in the blood stream during exercise. This happens when lactate is produced faster than it can be removed in the muscle and signifies a significant shift from predominantly aerobic metabolism to predominantly anaerobic metabolism as the body begins to favour anaerobic energy systems. As the exercise intensity increases the lactate level in the blood reaches the ‘anaerobic threshold’ (AT), or the onset of blood lactate accumulation (OBLA).

The lactate threshold is a useful measure for deciding exercise intensity for training in endurance sports (e.g. long distance running, cycling, rowing and swimming), but varies between individuals and can be increased with training. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) takes advantage of the body being able to temporarily exceed the lactate threshold, and then recover (reduce blood-lactate) while operating below the threshold and while still doing physical activity.

Accurately measuring the lactate threshold involves taking blood samples (normally a pinprick to the finger, earlobe or thumb). While not many people have the ability to measure their own actual lactate threshold, there are tests that provide estimates. One simple way to estimate your lactate threshold is to perform a 30-minute time trial at a high, sustained pace. This test is suited to experienced athletes and should not be attempted by anyone who is not in top shape. The goal of this test is to exercise for 30 minutes at the highest effort that can be sustained and monitor your heart rate throughout the test. Your average heart rate during the final 20 minutes should correspond to your LT.
30-Minute Time Trial for Estimating LT
• You can perform this test by running, cycling, swimming or doing another endurance sport that can be sustained for 30 minutes
• You will need a heart rate monitor and a way to capture splits
• Warm up for 15 minutes
• Begin exercise and work up to the your peak, sustained intensity within the first 10 minutes
• Record your heart rate each minute for the last 20 minutes
• Calculate your average heart rate over the last 20 minutes
• This figure is your estimated heart rate at your lactate threshold

Those PT clients that have undertaken a running session with me will know we produce a heart rate figure at which you can sustain a high running pace, this would be your estimated LT heart rate!
In theory an individual could exercise at any intensity up to their VO2 max indefinitely. As exercise intensity draws closer to VO2 max however a sharp increase in blood lactate accumulation and subsequent fatigue occurs as the lactate threshold is broken.


Generally, in two people with the same VO2 max, the one with the higher lactate threshold will perform better in continuous-type endurance events, such as running, see graph left. Although both Athlete 1 and Athlete 2 reach VO2 max at a similar running speed, Athlete 1 has a lactate threshold at 70% and Athlete 2 has a lactate threshold at 60%. Theoretically, Athlete 1 can maintain a pace of about 7.5mph compared to Athletes 2s pace of about 6.5mph.

With training, lactate threshold as a percentage of VO2 max can be increased. Even if there are no improvements in maximal oxygen uptake increasing the relative intensity or speed at which lactate threshold occurs will improve performance. In effect, proper training can shift the lactate curve to the right! (see graph below) Training at or slightly above lactate threshold can increase the relative intensity at which it occurs.

Before and After LT training

If you would like to know more about Lactate Threshold or to improve your performance please contact Mark on 07771 985015

Heart Rate Training Zones

Establishing your Heart Rate Training Zones

So you have been going to the gym 3 times a week forever but nothing seems to be changing! Sound familiar? Have you ever thought that you might be wasting your time? Well if you are working at the right intensities you are guaranteed to get the benefit. But I wonder how many people really understand what is the right intensity for them and how do they find it. In this article, I discuss the concept and procedure for you to determine your own training zones to maximise your time spent exercising. Working smart not hard will get you results.

What is a Training Zone

A heart rate training zone is a range that defines the upper and lower limits of a training intensity . The values are expressed as a percentage of maximum heart rate (for example, 70% of HRmax), and the range is based on (1) the metabolic systems in your body that fuel your muscles during exercise, and (2) how hard you want to train. There are different schools of thought on how many zones there are. We will work on the principle that there are 5 –

Fitness Training Zone 1(50 – 60% of MHR) – The lowest level you can exercise in and still increase your fitness levels. This is ideal for beginners or people who have not exercised for a long period of time. This Fitness Training Zone can be for just improving your overall health or it can also be used as a recovery fitness zone for people who are over-training and need to take a break. This mode is very aerobic so is good for people who want to lose weight as the main source of fuel used by the body is fat stores.

Fitness Training Zone 2 (60 – 70% of MHR) – This is the zone where the heart begins to benefit. The heart will be over worked and therefore grow back bigger and stronger becoming more efficient and improving the hearts ability to pump blood and improve the muscle cells ability to utilize oxygen. In this zone stored body fat is the primary source of energy utilized hence this zone is referred to as the “weight management zone” or “fat burning zone”. This is a good Fitness Training Zone for long slow distance exercise as the body becomes more efficient at feeding the working muscles with fat as the main fuel source.

Fitness Training Zone 3 (70 – 80% of MHR) – This Fitness Training Zone is the most effective for overall cardiovascular fitness and is often called the “aerobic zone” or “target heart rate zone”. This is the optimal fitness training zone to workout in to increase your cardio-respiratory capacity or the body’s ability to transport oxygenated blood to the muscle cells and carbon dioxide away from the cells. After a while you will be able to cover more distance during workouts in less time. Your body will burn less glucose and more stored fat as fuel thereby working more efficiently. This Fitness Training Zone is also effective for increasing overall muscle strength.

Fitness Training Zone 4 (80 – 90% of MHR)(85-90%= Anaerobic Threshold) – This level is where you cross over from aerobic training to anaerobic training which is called the anaerobic threshold or AT. This is the point where the body cannot effectively remove lactic acid from the working muscles quickly enough. Lactic Acid is a by product of glycogen consumption by the working muscles. e.g. The body is predominantly using carbohydrates as its fuel source.
This Fitness Training Zone is primarily for people who want to increase their performance levels. You would characterise this zone as hard. During this Fitness Training Zone your muscles become tired, your breathing becomes heavy and you will become fatigued. The benefit of training in this zone is you can increase your body’s ability to tolerate and deal with lactic acid for a longer period of time as the enzymes in your muscles responsible for anaerobic metabolism are increased. For competitors it is good to know your anaerobic threshold as many fit athletes can compete at or about their anaerobic threshold.

Fitness Training Zone 5(90 – 100% of MHR)(VO2 Max) – You will only be able to train in this Fitness Zone for short periods of time. You should not train at this level unless you are very fit. In this zone lactic acid develops very quickly as you are operating with oxygen debt to the muscles. Training in this zone increases your fast twitch muscle fibres which ultimately will help increase speed. You will not be able to stay at this level very long and should be used primarily in interval training.

As stated above the primary fuel during aerobic and anaerobic training is fat and carbohydrate, respectively, but it is very important to understand that both fuels are burned simultaneously at virtually all levels of exercise; it is not just one fuel or the other, except at the very highest intensities (close to 100% of HRmax). Resistance exercise and sprinting are examples of anaerobic training, whereas walking and jogging are typically considered aerobic, although you could walk or jog fast enough to make it anaerobic. It’s likely that you are working anaerobically (above 85%) if you’re out of breath during a workout and working aerobically (less than 85%) if you’re only slightly out of breath.

What Range Should I Train At?

Most people train within an aerobic exercise training zone (40% to 85% of HRmax). Aerobic capacity (endurance) will improve faster if you train closer to 85% than if you train at 65%, but some individuals don’t have the capacity to start training at 85%, or they simply prefer to start training at lower values and gradually increase the intensity over the time. Some individuals may even need to start at levels as low as 40% or 50%, depending on their age, level of fitness, or body weight. But the level that you start at isn’t all that relevant. What matters most is that you get started, and then over time, as your endurance improves, you can gradually increase the intensity.

The body accommodates to both low and high-intensity workouts by increasing the activity of respiratory enzymes and other biochemical reactions in the muscles. Anaerobic training-like intervals, fartlek and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) are helpful if you want to improve your time or perform optimally in an event like a 10K run or a 50-mile bike ride because the training prepares your body for the specific anaerobic demands of the event (like when you have to sprint or climb a hill). This type of training, called “specificity of training,” is effective because it mimics the type of exertion experienced during the event.

On the other hand, if health and general levels of fitness are the goal, and not performance in a road race, then there’s no need to train anaerobically unless you like to push. Instead, substantial gains in health and fitness can be accrued by aerobic training between 40% and 85% of HRmax. Volumes of research prove this.

A traditional method of aerobic training is to start at the low end of the aerobic training range, say 50% or 60%, and as training continues and the heart and muscles adapt to the challenge, the intensity is progressively increased. For example, a sedentary individual might start at 60% of HRmax and remain at that level for four weeks, and then during the fifth week increase the intensity to 65% (increases of 10% of intensity and/or duration is the standard recommendation). Again, the body accommodates to the work over time, and when higher levels of fitness are desired, the intensity needs to be increased. Training heart rate zones offer a quantifiable method of guiding workouts and determining exercise intensity.

Fat Burning vs. Cardio Mode?

Perhaps no other training “technique” is more gimmicky and misleading than the “fat burning” and “cardio” modes on the control panels of exercise equipment. They are based on the biology that at lower levels of exertion a higher percentage of fat is burned compared to carbohydrate. That’s because:

1. Fat is denser fuel than carbohydrate (9 calories per gram vs. 4 calories).

2. It takes more oxygen to burn fat than carbohydrate because fat is denser.

3. At lower levels of exertion, you presumably breathe in and deliver more oxygen to the muscles to burn fat.

All of the above may be true given the right circumstances, but there are problems with it when it comes to real world exercise scenarios. First off, lots of fat is burned at all intensities within the aerobic training zone. Secondly, the terminology “fat burning” and “cardio” can confuse individuals into thinking that fat is burned only during exercise in “fat burning” mode and that no fat is burned in “cardio” mode. The fact is that you burn fat during both modes. But the major problem is that the fat-burning mode is typically too slow a workout for many people to maximize benefits. In fact, at the end of a fat-burning workout, you could end up burning fewer calories and less total fat than during a cardio-mode workout. Here’s an example of what I mean.

Suppose a 150 lb moderately fit man walks on the treadmill for 60 minutes at 3.0 mph in his “fat burning zone” that’s 300 calories for a 150-pound man (a 150-pound man burns approximate 100 calories per mile when he walks). Since this man is moderately fit, he will burn approximately 60% of the calories from fat (180 calories) and 40% from carbohydrate (120 calories).

Now let’s say the same 150-pound man walks on the treadmill for 60 minutes at 4.0 mph in his “cardio zone”. That’s 400 calories burned, with approximately 50% of the calories from fat (200 calories) and 50% from carbohydrate (200 calories). The percent of fat burned may be less at 4.0 mph than 3.0 mph because the exertion is higher and so theoretically less oxygen is delivered to the muscles.

If you examine the example carefully, you will notice that at the slower fat-burning mode the man does indeed burn a higher percentage of fat compared to cardio mode (60% v. 50%), but in cardio mode, he burns more total calories (400 v. 300) and more total fat (200 calories v. 180 calories). My suggestion is to ignore the fat burning zone (unless you want a less intense workout). You’re not going to burn more fat in this zone than in cardio zone, and it could end up being an inefficient use of your time. I suggest training as hard as you comfortably can without risking injury so that you maximize the calorie and fat burn and gain the overall cardiorespiratory training effect.

Calculating a Target Heart Rate Zone

Most Heart Rate Zone predictions use complex maths and equations to calculate your zones. The maths is often centred on a predicted maximum heart rate. To actually find your maximum heart rate you would need to train to maximum exertion, i.e. to you physically couldn’t go any further or harder often causing collapsing and vomiting. We wouldn’t recommend you attempt this but also wouldn’t recommend relying on a predicted maximal heart rate that is focused on your age. We all know that everyone is different and no two 40 year olds will have the same heart, so why use age as a measure for your maximal heart rate?

You will see people predicting your maximal heart rate as 220 – age, or

FOR FIT WOMEN (in beats per minute): MAX HR = 211 – (YOUR AGE/2)
FOR FIT MEN: (in beats per minute) MAX HR = 205 – (YOUR AGE/2)

There are even more complicated versions and equations out there. The truth is you don’t need to know your maximal heart rate to calculate your zones.

Errors in Predicting Maximum Heart Rate

Calculating target ranges in individuals over age 40 can be inaccurate because of errors in estimating HRmax due to considerable heart rate variability in older adults. This means that the popular equation to estimate HRmax, “220-age”, may not be accurate in individuals older than 40 years. The error is probably due to the origin of the equation which was derived from volunteers who were most likely not representative of the general population.

In an important study published in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology in 2001, researchers examined data from 351 studies (18,712 subjects) and determined that the “220-age” equation underestimates maximum heart rate in older adults (the older the individual the more the error).


However, everyone is different and it is important to understand your own heart and what it can do. To establish you own zones, it is recommended you purchase a heart rate monitor; alternatively most gyms will have cardio equipment that can measure your heart rate through touching sensors on the handles of a bike or cross-trainer. This method is not 100% accurate however it will allow you to calculate a zone to give you benefit, especially if you use the same equipment periodically.

Heart rate monitors are devices that measure heart rate in real time. They have grown wildly in popularity over the past 10 years partly due to the miniaturisation and accuracy of computer chips. Many athletes use heart rate monitors during their workouts to determine if they are in the proper training zone. But heart rate monitors aren’t just for elite athletes. I recommend a heart rate monitor if you like gadgets or think you might like the heart rate data and real-time feedback from your body that these devices provide. The standard design is a strap with a transmitter that you wear around your chest and a wristwatch with a receiver. The chest transmitter detects your heart rate during exercise and wirelessly sends the signal to the wristwatch display for you to see. You can purchase all the bells and whistles with functions like downloading the entire workout to your computer or alarms that let you know when you go too high or too low in your training zone, or you can go minimalist and purchase the basic model that just reads your heart rate. Nike, Polar, and Garmin are just three reputable companies that manufacture heart rate monitors. You can find recommended heart rate monitors at

Perceived Exertion

Heart rate monitoring and training zones aren’t for everyone. But don’t worry, you can still get a great workout and gain all the benefits of exercise. All you need to do is listen to your body. You’re working out if you feel your heart pumping and you’re slightly out of breath. You can also use the Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion (RPE) to measure intensity. Simply select the number from below that best describes your level of exertion.

6 No exertion at all
7.5 Extremely light
9 Very light
11 Light
13 Somewhat hard
15 Hard (heavy)
17 Very hard
19 Extremely hard
20 Maximal exertion

An exertion level from 13-14 will get you to the middle of your aerobic training zone.

Using a combination of your Heart rate and RPE it is possible to calculate your heart rate zones very accurately without the use of assumptive equations. Establishing your heart rate zones this way can also be fun and let you understand your body a lot more.

Accurately calculate your Heart Rate Training Zones

Firstly select a piece of exercise apparatus, e.g. a bike or cross-trainer. You will need to work through a range of exercise intensities so be prepared to work yourself hard. There are many variables on a piece of equipment – speed, incline, resistance, etc. You will need to keep them all constant through the test except one. It is recommended that you keep the speed constant, so RPM on a bike or cross-trainer needs to be set at a comfortable level to start then maintained throughout. You can then use resistance to vary the workout intensity. Undertake a 6-8 gradual progressive warm up, starting very easy increase the resistance slowly at 2 minute intervals. At the end of the workout you should feel about a 12 on the scale of perceived exertion. From here you will need to record your heart rate at a range of different resistances that give you different perceived exertions. If possible have a friend or Personal Trainer record your heart rates while you are exercising. Record the resistance, RPE and your heart rate at 2 minute intervals (use the example table below) Remember to keep the level the same for 2 minute intervals to ensure your heart rate plateaus against the resistance then record your heart rate and you level of perceived exertion.

You can then plot your heart rates against the RPE scale to give you your actual zones.  See the working example below.

Joe is 40, his maximal heart rate would traditionally be calculated as 220-40=180. However in reality it may be a lot higher or lower. His zones would be calculated as






90 – 108



108 – 126



126 – 144



144 – 162



162 – 180


When undertaking his own tests Joe uses a bike and records his exercise below –




Heart Rate







































Notice that Joe doesn’t work in Zone 5, this is really only for serious athletes in specific training. Exercising at this intensity can be dangerous if not supervised.

Joe then plots his results against the RPE in the table below producing his accurate heart rate training zones









90 – 108





108 – 126





126 – 144





144 – 162





162 – 180


* based on 220-age as the maximum heart rate

Joe’s heart rate zones are therefore higher than predicted. Had Joe not completed this method of establishing his heart rate zones he would have been exercising at too low an intensity and missed out on several key benefits to exercise. Arguably it would take him a lot longer to reach his goals as well.


Heart rate training zones and heart rate monitoring is:

1. helpful for individuals who want to maximise the benefit from their exercise. Working efficiently to achieve your goals

2. real-time feedback for individuals who like to know how their body responds to exercise, and

3. Important data for athletes who want to get their intervals right.

But even if you never get hooked on the idea of a training zone, you can still get a great workout by listening to your body or using a scale like the RPE. The important point is to get out there and move no matter how you monitor your workout,

New Life Training typically uses High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) with their workouts to ensure maximum benefit from your Personal Training sessions. We use Heart Rate Monitors provided to each Personal Training client to ensure you maximise the benefit from your workouts and don’t waste your time when your train!

If you would like to establish your own heart rate training zones or would like to know more about how to train at the right intensity for you please call New Life Training on 07771 985015.

Non-Exercise Activity Thermogensis (NEAT)

Most people have tried some sort of diet in January to help lose the christmas weight, you may have cut out alcohol, reduced calories significantly, or fasted for days!! But what effect has it had on your body long term??

When people start to diet they reduce the calorie intake often too much to give long term benefits. This often leads to a decrease in Lean Body Mass and therefore a reduction in metabolism. It is now thought that this decrease in metabolism comes from adaptive thermogenesis. This is a bit like turning the lights down in your house –  The lights are still on but they are using less energy! – You still function but you are burning fewer and fewer calories doing the normal day to day activities.

A person will typically burn energy through the following ways –
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) – 60-75%
Physical Activity – 17-32%
Thermal effect from eating food – 8%

BMR is the amount of energy you will burn from the bodys normal function at rest. Within the BMR is NEAT, Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. This is the body shaking, twitching, muscle re-building etc that often goes unnoticed but is constant throughout your normal day. As people lose weight their metabolism decreases often through a decrease in NEAT. The body feels it is starving so becomes more efficient, spending less energy in its daily function! The problem comes as the body over compensates to the point where up to 500calories a day are removed from your BMR!!!  As the body becomes more and more efficient it focuses on burning a higher percentage of fat but a lot less calories overall. Therefore as soon as you return to normal eating habits after a diet your body no longer requires the calories as before and any excess calories are stored as fat in preperation for the next food shortage and the next efficiency drive on the bodies resources. NEAT does not return to normal just because you start eating properly again, infact it will stay reduced forever unless it is fired back up!! Repeated dieting has been seen to reduce peoples BMR by up to 80%, when this happens it is extremely difficult to return to normal and people tend to just get bigger!

The solution is not to crash diet, do things in control and ideally under supervision. Increasing your metabolism with the right type of exercise is essential. If you feel your metabolism has already been effected through previous diets you will have to undertake structured, supervised exercise to re-start (or fire up) your metabolism again!! Increasing your protein intake will also help but it is the structured exercise as NEAT decreases in your body that will help keep the weight off and the metabolism high! There has been a lot of press in the last few weeks with High Intensity Training (HIT!), New Life Training have been using a form of this training for the last 3 years in order to boost peoples metabolism and it works, just look at our testimonials for proof! New Life Training use High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) as a variation to the HIT seen on TV and in the press this month.  This form of exercise has been proven to regenerate your metabolism through increasing NEAT. Our classes all focus on HIIT, so you may look to attend a Bootcamp, Box Circuits or a P.H.I.I.T. class or undertake Personal Training to help this process. Give Mark a call to discuss where your metabolism may be and what solutions there may be for you, 07771 985015.

If you think your metabolism could do with a boost or you would like to lose weight under a safe supervised environment then New Life Training is able to help. We will assess your BMR, Body Fat %, weight and muscle % every 6-10 weeks as a personal training client. Why not find out how we can help you, Call 07771 985015 now to book a free consultation.

Joining a Health Club in the New Year

Did you know that roughly one million people join their local gym in the New Year?

And while it is great that they recognise the need to stay in shape, the harsh reality is that within 6 weeks 70% of them will have stopped going.

Many people seem to think that their gym membership will miraculously help them to lose weight or improve their fitness, but when it actually comes to putting in the effort, all they are doing is spending around £50 a month on something they never use. Worse still “The international Health and Fitness association (IDEA) released a statistic that found that 75% of people that do exercise are not achieving the results they want. But of the 25% who are getting the results they want, 90% of them are working with a personal trainer.”

When you consider how soulless most modern gyms are, these statistics are hardly surprising. Thankfully, you do not need a gym to stay slim, gorgeous and healthy.

Here is our list of ways to get fit without blowing cash on an unused gym pass.

The New Year fitness trap that snares most people is the misconception that a gym membership is the answer to all their prayers. Have a good think about why you feel you need to join a gym in the first place, and chances are you will realise that it is your overall lifestyle that needs to change.

Are you overweight because you over indulged too much on alcohol and do not pay attention to the level of fat in your diet over Christmas? The average person will put on 8lbs of FAT (not weight) over Christmas, are you Mr or Mrs Average? or are you worse? Do you drive everywhere when you could easily walk or take the bus? These small steps soon add up to a big improvement to your fitness.

‘It’s too cold to train outside; I think I’ll join the gym.’ We have all been there, but after three weeks of staring at the same spot on the wall while you pound the treadmill, you will soon find yourself longing for the great outdoors.

Exercise is supposed to be fun, so why do so many gym-goers sport that ‘anywhere but here’ look? Instead of wasting money on a redundant gym membership, make the most of your local park and enjoy breathing in fresh air while you work out, rather than other people’s sweat.

Why put yourself through hell in the gym when you can walk your way to fitness? Walking may not feel like the most intense exercise in the world, but just one hour of brisk walking can relieve you of an impressive 400 calories (compared to around 600-700 running).

A pound of fat is equal to 3500 calories, so build an hour of walking into your daily routine and it won’t be long before you notice your waistline going in the right direction.

For some people it is the solitude of going to the gym rather than the monotony that is the chief reason they stop going. But it does not have to be this way.

Only when you start training with other people do you realise what you have been missing; the sessions seem to go faster and there is always someone there to help motivate, encourage and keep you smiling.

It will still cost you, but we guarantee that your money will be much better spent and you stand a greater chance of finely tuning your fitness if you sign up for boot camp sessions rather than enrolling at your local gym.

Personal trainers across the country have realised that, because of the recession, they have to offer their customers an affordable alternative to one-on-one sessions. As a result there are suddenly boot camps everywhere. You’ll be forced to get down and dirty, but you will GET FIT! LOSE WEIGHT! HAVE FUN!! Check out for more information on our BOOTCAMPS!

It may sound ridiculous, but if joining a gym is the equivalent of pouring your money down a very large drain, then investing in a humble skipping rope has to be one of the most effective ways to get in shape – for your fitness and your bank balance.

Skipping is a high intensity exercise (there is a reason why lean boxers and followers of martial arts make it such an integral part of their training) and will provide you with top-to-toe fat burning. It’s particularly good at shaping your legs, abdominals, arms and shoulders, but your entire body will feel the benefit. Plus you do not have to stray from your home to do it – just start doing a few minutes three or four times a week and, when you are good enough, step it up to 30 minutes, which will help you burn through around 250 calories.

What could be better than a fitness regime that does not even involve leaving your house? As long as you have the right strategy, getting fit at home is much easier than you think. As with any exercise programme, you need to know what you are doing otherwise you might not see the desired results and could end up doing yourself a mischief.

We now have 4 highly qualified personal trainers at New Life Training who will be happy to design a programme for you or train you a few times to ensure what you are doing is safe, effective and fun! Running on the spot, skipping, press ups, squats – the exercises are the same, you just don’t have to put up with overcrowding in the showers when you are done.

Gym memberships can cost as much as £800 a year – that is a lot of money for negligible results. With Personal Training you are guaranteed results as they look after all areas that affect your weight; nutrition, metabolism, exercise and calorie burning as well as the psychological elements involved in this process. As stated before; of those people achieving their goals through exercising 90% are using a Personal Trainer now that has to be a good investment! You can find out what a Personal Trainer can do for you through a free 45 minutes consultation by registering your interest at

There are cheaper alternatives though. Why shell out when all you need to get in shape is a pair of trainers and some running gear? Start the New Year by joining the NLT Running Club, you could drop a massive hint and encourage your partner to buy you some new trainers for Christmas!

After just a few sessions you will soon begin to feel yourself getting fitter and will enjoy the mental health benefits. Research has shown that running can help fight depression and snooker player Ronnie O’Sullivan credits it with turning his life around.

Who knows, your first marathon could be just around the corner. check out  for more details.



Exercise and Shiftwork

Anyone who has travelled around the world will know the problems the different time zones will have on their training regimes.  Sleeping all-day and waking up during the night is not conducive to a successful training programme.  Shift workers are continuously faced with this problem.  Changing work patterns from day to night shifts can cause difficulties with sleep, appetite, energy levels, body temperature, metabolic rate and hormonal functions.  Overcoming these changes takes time and planning.  So when are the best times to train? and what diet can help you stay fresh and awake when your body clock doesn’t even know what day it is?  To make the most of any training routine you need to feel full of energy and have high levels of concentration.  For most people energy levels and strength are highest in the afternoon.  This would be time spent sleeping for those on night shifts.  For shift-workers training can be difficult, mainly due to most health and fitness centres not opening 24 hours (Inconsiderate bunch!).  An early morning training session can be very difficult especially after a hard nightshift, with the lack of energy usually the biggest problem.  However, studies have shown the highest levels of the hormone testosterone can be found first thing in the morning.  This is thought to promote muscle hypertrophy, giving the biggest benefits to those aiming to tone or build muscle.  Good nutrition can also assist with the apparent lack of energy after a long shift.  The general advice is similar to those people who work and exercise during the day; consume 4-6 small to medium sized meals a day.  This will increase your metabolic rate and keep blood sugar levels elevated thus fending off fatigue and stabilising appetite.  The important meal, “Breakfast”, should be taken on awakening, this will kick start your metabolism.  A simple piece of toast or a banana will suffice.  What you eat will greatly influence your energy levels and affect your recuperation abilities.  During shift time follow a balanced diet, i.e. 60-70% carbohydrates, 15-20% Protein and 20-25% fat.  Supplements are advisable, as they are easy to prepare and can elevate energy levels.  Before you break from work and head for the gym a protein-dense meal can help increase your concentration and alertness.  This should be taken around two hours before exercise to increase your workout performance.  The protein meal along with the carbohydrate consumed earlier in the shift will give you that added energy.

Immediately following your training a carbohydrate meal will assist in recuperation.  It will leave you feeling full and relaxed, preventing you feeling hungry throughout the day.  This can assist with sleeping which is essential to both your work and training.  Always avoid things like alcohol and caffeine, especially before sleep, as they will reduce your levels of recuperation.  You should always take naps whenever possible, “40 winks” can be very refreshing allowing for Rapid Eye Movement (REM) which is essential to the recuperative benefits of sleep.

For the training itself it is important to cycle programmes according to your energy reserves, be sensible.  Short intense workouts are recommended.  These will stimulate your metabolic rate, and can be brief to allow for sufficient rest before your next shift.  Overall body workouts are recommended, so not to over fatigue any one area.  Circuit training would be the ideal form of training while energy and time are limited.

Finding the motivation to train following a nightshift is a very tall order.  Go straight to the gym following work, this can help keep your levels of alertness and concentration elevated. While training concentrate solely on the exercise you are undertaking. This can assist in taking your mind off work and its associated pressures, as well as increasing the benefits from the exercise.  Maximising the nutrition, training and recuperative techniques mentioned here can also assist greatly with your enthusiasm.  The positive feelings often experienced post-exercise should make you feel it’s all worth while, and leave you to sleep comfortably through the day ready for the next nightshift.

The Effects of De-training

You have just mortgaged your house to join the local health club. Your aim is to lose a few pounds after over indulging at Christmas. The target is to fit in to last year’s summer beachwear before the holiday season. But once summer is here will you continue exercise? Or will you lapse until next January?

Many people start exercising following Christmas in preparation for the summer sun. Very few people, less than 50%, continue exercising throughout the whole year. So what happens to people when they stop exercising? Everyone knows the benefits from starting exercise but detraining is an area of exercise science very few people think about. Detraining affects the body in many ways. The obvious and initial adaptations effect fitness levels. The rate your fitness deteriorates depends very much on your condition before detraining. Fitness levels, universally measured by V02 max, will eventually return to sedentary levels. This will cause breathlessness with slight exertion (e.g. climbing stairs). Highly trained individuals suffer a more rapid decrease in V02 max in the initial stages of detraining; although some a level of fitness is retained. Those people who have low to moderate fitness levels initially incur slower decreases in fitness levels over the first few weeks but V02 max scores decrease to untrained levels in additional weeks.

General health is also seen to deteriorate after ceasing exercise. The heart typically becomes smaller as the muscle wall atrophies. This occurs as the heart muscle without overload or sufficient usage reduces its size to become more efficient for the work it has to carry out. The reduced size of the heart results in decreasing stroke volume, the amount of blood pumped with each heartbeat. As much as a 10% decrease in stroke volume during the first two weeks following training cessation can occur. The decrease in stroke volume causes increases in resting heart rates – the heart has to pump more often due to the decrease in amount of blood transported per beat. During any activity the heart rate will be elevated due to the heart having to work harder when physical activity is undertaken again. As much as 10 beats per minute can be added to maximal heart rates in de-conditioned athletes, thus putting a lot of strain on the organ. The bodies other muscles will also decrease in size rapidly. This decrease in Lean Body Mass will directly affect the bodies Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), i.e. the amount of fuel (calories) the body utilises at rest. Without decreasing your food intake in line with the BMR the result is often increase in body fat stores.

For serious athletes, such as runners, performance can be affected by as much as 25% over the first 3 weeks of de-training. For those who take up exercise again following a period of detraining this can result in a lot of pain and stiffness, especially if you try to start where you left off. It is important to re-start exercise slowly and progress gradually back to previous levels

Generally, detraining will result in almost all your recent acquired fitness benefits being lost after just one or two months. As age and gravity start taking effect, you will find starting exercise again harder. Typically you will be in a worse position than you were the previous year. Goals to lose weight will become more difficult to attain as BMR is affected considerably by detraining. Rates of resting metabolism also decrease with age, making it harder to shift the Christmas binge, especially following a break in exercise.

If you are planning or experience a period of detraining due to holidays, illness or just through sheer laziness it is advisable to participate in a different or less taxing exercise on your return. This can reduce the detraining effect considerably. Ask you fitness consultant or personal trainer to design a maintenance programme for you during the summer months or when you know you would much rather be strutting your stuff on the beach rather than sweating it out in the gym.
Remember that it is a complete break from exercise and physical activity for more than 2-3 weeks that tends to be most detrimental. A break from your regular workout for this duration will require you to exercise caution when you return to class or the gym. You could end up missing more exercise through injury. Take care and keep exercising!
Mark Mayes, BSc

Avoiding Muscle Soreness

Avoiding Muscle Soreness

In the seventies and eighties exercise proverbs such as “no pain, no gain”, and the famous “Feel the Burn” were used in relation to exercise intensities.  Famous personalities promoted these sayings, resulting in the general public feeling that if they didn’t hurt then they weren’t working hard enough.  The thought of having to go through pain to reap benefit from exercise naturally discouraged many people to participate in exercise activities.  So why do you hurt when you train hard, is it necessary and what can you do to reduce the pain?

There are several different theories on why people ache following exercise.  The problem generally occurs following an extensive layoff from exercise or from an abnormally hard workout.  A temporary soreness may persist for several hours, whereas a residual soreness may last for 3 or 4 days.  It has been found that eccentric muscle contraction (the muscle lengthens while under tension), and to some extent isometric contractions (the muscle is under tension but no significant movement is produced), generally causes the greatest discomfort.  This can been seen especially in running – As any runner will know, aches and pains generally occur more from downhill running than uphill running.  This shows it is the type of contraction rather than workout intensity as running uphill is more metabolically demanding.

The initial pain generally occurs immediately following exercise.  This is due to Lactic Acid accumulation.  A worse pain can actually occurs between 48 – 72 hours following exercise; this is known as Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness (DOMS) and is often the result of minute tears in the muscle.

Immediate muscle soreness is directly related to the build-up of Lactic acid (and other waste products) in the muscle.  These products actually leak out of the muscle cells and stimulate sensitive nerve endings nearby.  Excess Lactic acid is generally removed after exercise within 30-60 minutes.  Therefore the pain felt from lactic acid accumulation is often immediate but not prolonged.  The lactic acid is produced when energy demands by the muscles exceed the oxygen supply or its rate of utilisation, i.e. Lactic acid is a by-product of anaerobic metabolism.  Lactic acid itself is a good source of energy and can be regenerated once exercise is slowed and sufficient oxygen is once again available.  There are several methods of overcoming Lactic acid build-up.  Unfortunately the best form of overcoming the build up is a genetic endowment. The type of muscle fibres in the muscle has a significant effect on lactic acid accumulation.  Slow twitch muscle fibres can actually utilise the lactic acid produced by fast twitch fibres, therefore people with higher levels of slow twitch muscle fibres can reduce the effects of lactic acid build up.

There is several training responses that can reduce the pain felt through Lactic Acid build up. Firstly, frequent specific high intensity anaerobic training can produce a more rapid rate of removal of Lactic Acid but this will only reduce the pain long-term. It has been previously recommended that lactic acid can be reduced by post-exercise massage, hot baths and stretching.  These methods have not been significantly proven to assist with Lactic acid removal.  A mild bike ride has a much better removal rate.  This is due to the aerobic nature of the exercise allowing increased amounts of oxygen to enter the muscles.  Increased blood flow caused by the light exercise can also assist with the removal of lactic acid to the Liver and Kidneys.

Muscle soreness can also be caused by minor tears in the muscle or connective tissue.  In this case the pain should not be ignored.  Resting the muscles for a few days often allows the tissues to repair themselves adequately.  Stretching the muscles under this condition can have a disadvantageous effect.  Once again a light cool-down walk or cycle will help.  The reason for delayed soreness is a complicated one.  Excessive exercise can cause tearing of the sarcolemma, the substance that covers and protects the muscle fibres.  This tearing causes an influx of extracellular calcium into the muscle cells.  Proteolytic and phospholipolytic pathways are induced causing degradation of contractile proteins and membrane phospholipids.  In layman’s terms the extra calcium that leaks into the muscle cells tears up proteins and lipids.  Inflammation of the muscle fibres results as cells repair and remove the necrotic tissue (debris).  The pain is a result of stored chemicals repairing and regenerating the muscle fibres.  The slow release of these chemicals is the reason for the delay in pain.

As mentioned, DOMS are often caused by the eccentric component of an exercise.  In order to reduce DOMS it would be advisable to avoid eccentric muscle contractions.  This is not practical, unless you have a very understanding training partner.  The most successful method to avoid DOMS is to start training at a light intensity and slowly build-up.  The first bout of exercise will have a significant prophylactic effect on the development of muscle soreness in subsequent exercise sessions.  This effect has been seen to last for up to 6 weeks.  This supports the thought of commencing exercise with light bouts.  This will protect against severe muscle soreness initially. Although this method doesn’t guarantee complete protection from subsequent soreness this adaptive process produces a more resistant muscle to damage from similar exercise intensities.

Of course when discussing muscle soreness it is necessary to mention cramp.  This is probably the worst of all muscular pains.  It is a sustained spasm of an entire muscle that can last for just a few seconds up to several hours.  Although cramp is associated with exercise it is not the primary cause.  Cramp actually reflects low blood sugar levels, electrolyte depletion, dehydration, or irritability of the spinal cord neurones.  All of which can be a subsidiary of exercise.  Simultaneously squeezing and stretching the cramped muscle may help.  To reduce the possibility of experiencing cramp it is recommended you maintain good energy and hydration levels before exercise.

Remember, exercise is supposed to be an enjoyable activity designed to provide health and fitness benefits.  Exercising should not hurt.

Mark Mayes, BSc.