Debunking Popular Health & Fitness Myths – Part 2

By Adrianna McDonald


This is a big misconception amongst the ladies. I say it over and over again: lifting weights to build muscles is a long, hard journey, which requires lots of discipline. Weight training is by far the best way to increase lean muscle mass, speed up your metabolism, lower your body fat, and most importantly improve overall health.  Women do not produce enough testosterone to suddenly turn into HULK! At least, not naturally.

Trust me, I’ve been lifting, for more than 10 years, regularly! Women on average have about one tenth the testosterone of men, the level of testosterone varies greatly and influences women’s strength development more than is typical in men. What’s more magical about lifting iron is that it improves confidence, self-esteem and increases libido. So, step off the treadmill or stepper and start lifting! Stop being “afraid” and embrace weights to build and sculpt the body you want.



Even though you’ve worked out and raised your metabolic rate, the caloric deficit may not be enough (and in most cases never is) to be able to eat whatever you want. You can’t out train a bad diet! It’s still calories in vs calories out. This is most likely why you are not seeing any progress in the gym. Be smart!


Believe it or not this type of training on its own will only increase your muscle endurance. It for sure has it’s place in a weight training program and in bodybuilding it has its purpose at the very end of the comp prep. However, the definition and shape of your muscles is defined by a mix of muscle mass and body fat. The bigger the muscle and the less fat, the better the definition (genetics do help as well).

Photo 7-13-16, 4 47 32 PM


Muscle soreness (DOMS) becomes evident six-to- eight hours following activity, peaking around 24 to 48 hours post-training and it simply is an ‘inflammation’. DOMS is most pronounced when you introduce a new activity, increased intensity or volume or if you are a total beginner to physical activity. Your body is making adaptations to better prepare your muscles to do that activity again.

You may not get soreness all the time since your body will be able to withstand a bit more after every training session, especially if you are working out regularly. But stop for a week or more and you will get sore again. The strength and size gains will still happen providing you target the muscles with the right stimulus.


As stated above, truth is that you will feel less sore as your body adapts to your workouts and learns to distribute the workload across your muscle fibers more effectively. That is why you should regularly change your workout routine (2-3 weeks). But genetics play a major role to how sensitive we are to pain and soreness. People have different pain-threshold (i.e. no-responders, low-responders or high-responders to soreness). If you’re a high-responder, you will experience DOMS more acutely than someone who is a no- or low-responder when given the same training load.


Exercise of the week: Cable Reverse Flyes

The rear delts function like a back muscle – they help you pull your arms downwards and/or backwards.

They get quite involved in your back training but it’s important to add in at least one isolation exercise in your shoulder program to strengthen them.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Facing the pulley machine bend over until you are parallel to the floor.
  2. Hold each cable with the opposite hand.
  3. Create tension as you slightly pull your arms away from your side – about 30-45 degrees.
  4. Pause on the top and slowly bring your arms down to starting position.

Key points to remember:

  • Avoid retracting your shoulder blades so that you isolate the rear delt.
  • Make sure the pinky (outer palm) side of your hand is leading the way.
  • Keep elbows up high to avoid using your back muscles.

Exercise of the week: Front to Lateral Raise Combo

The Front to Lateral Raise Combo is a great shoulder exercise. This combination can recruit and develop the anterior and lateral deltoid muscles. It’s great as a part of a warm up or superset.



Here’s how to do it:

  • Stand straight holding dumbbells or small weight plates in each hand.
  • Keeping your elbows slightly bent, raise the weights directly in front of you to shoulder height, avoiding any swinging.
  • Pause before moving the weights laterally to your sides.
  • Slowly lower them down to your thighs.
Fitness, lifestyle, Nutrition

Debunking Popular Health & Fitness Myths – Part 1

By Adrianna McDonald


Sit ups are definitely great for strengthening your abdominal muscles and lower back, but they won’t melt the body fat from your abdominal area even if you do 100 a day. If your waist is a problem look into your diet as the truth is “Abs are made in the kitchen” combined with a great workout routine. The less body fat you have the more visible your abs will be. The magic lays in between the energy in and the energy out.



If your daily calories meet the requirements for the day, and your diet throughout the day is balanced, it won’t matter much when you eat them. Your resting metabolic rate doesn’t change much when you are asleep. Weight training during the day can increase your sleeping metabolic rate, resulting in greater fat oxidation while you are dreaming of a perfect beach body. Focus more on quality of carbs and the daily intake of both calories and carbs.


A lot of products labelled fat-free, sugar-free, diet, low sodium and low carb are selling very fast these days! People blindly believe that these products are healthy and can be eaten without limits. The truth is often these products which are “free” of something are full of other replacement ingredients: artificial sweeteners, salt, MSG, artificial flavors and crazy additives. These highly processed foods create increased hunger, less satisfaction from eating and consistent cravings thus making you eat more.


Egg yolks are seen as the bad boys in eggs and are often removed from most dieters’ menus. I still see people asking for egg-white omelets. The poor youlkies got a bad rep for increasing cholesterol levels, promoting heart disease, and wreaking havoc on your waistline. But you should know that they come with nutritional benefits and taste better. One whole egg contains around 7 grams of complete protein, and it is a great source of heart-healthy omega-3s, B vitamins, and choline. Unless you are eating 20 eggs a day there is no need to remove the yolk.


This is still by far the most popular myth amongst many women who are scared to lift some weights as they don’t want to turn into “HULK”. Unfortunately cardio on it’s own burns away fat and muscle, leaving you with a “floppy “ body. Combining strength training with a healthy diet will give you better results. Weight training builds lean muscle mass, which increases your metabolism and burns more fat in shorter time, and continues to burn fat while you are resting.



Exercise of the week: Face Pull

Face pulls are one of the most underrated upper body exercises. We seem to forget that they not only lead to size gains but also strengthen your rhomboids, traps, and external rotators.

This exercise also acts as a corrective movement to fix issues caused by “bad benching” (bench pressing) and bad posture due to the long hours spent working seated at a desk.



Face Pull With a Pause (variation):

Holding the peak contraction will “teach” the low and mid-trap fibers to stabilize the scapula (shoulder blades). Pull to the forehead to target a slightly different area of your upper back (compared to pulling to the neck).

You can perform this exercise seated or standing. You can also change grip to overhand grip or neutral grip.

In the video Miranda is performing high face pull to the neck:

  1. Stand facing the cable machine and grab the rope with an overhand grip
  2. Pull through the elbows, moving the middle of the rope in a straight line towards the neck.
  3. Make sure you fully retract the shoulder blades at the midpoint, squeeze, and then return to the starting position

The Pros and Cons of Cardio

By Laura Smith

Love it or hate it, why do we do it? We hate it, moan about it, cut it short or even avoid it. Which begs the question, why?

Firstly, let’s look at the benefits of cardio, and there is no better place to start than the heart. One of the first adaptations to occur is a reduction in resting heart rate, which enables the heart to pump more blood with each single beat, allowing more oxygenated blood to reach your brain and muscles with less effort. What it really means is more oxygen is available and more calories can be burnt.

Leading on to fat burning… Firstly, you get an increase in fat burning enzymes, then there is an increase in blood flow to muscles, allowing them to use stored fat for energy and lastly, you make your body more sensitive to hormones that increase fat burning.

Let’s look at a some more benefits of cardio.

# Pros

For the love of it

Truth is some people really love it, it’s that simple. You know the people, the ones that go for a 10k run to relax. Why for me, it’s not my preferred way to relax, however I get it, I truly do. In this crazy, non-stop world that we live in, people love to use cardio to de-stress and wind down.

Sociable butterfly

How many times have you been in a gym and seen a group on the treadmill incline walking, or sat on a bike talking? Let’s be honest, it’s highly likely they aren’t putting the world to rights, but more likely to be discussing a new diet, training program or the latest cinema release. It is during these times that “gym buddy” friendships strike up. Therefore making you more sociable, improving your mood. However, make sure you still get the work done, don’t stop exercising.

Walk it off

Steady state cardio gets the blood pumping again, driving oxygen around the body as well as nutrients. We have all heard the phrase, “walk it out”, well this literally means that. Walking after intense bouts of weight training has been shown to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness.

But there are some disadvantages too…


Gains Gone

Some people think that all exercise, no matter what the form it takes, will increase lean mass. I am sorry to burst the bubble but this is sadly not the case. Over a long period of time, if cardio is your sole form of exercise, lean muscle mass will be depleted and used for energy. This loss of muscle mass therefore reduces the amount of calories burned by the body which can lead to an increase in body fat percentage, as well as conditions such as diabetes.

Makes you Fat

Ok ok, this is not directly true, but an increase in appetite has been known to happen after cardio, this is due to a trigger caused by cardio that increases hormones that make you hungry. So if you are running all day long to lose weight, but making yourself more and more hungry, the purpose has been defeated, resulting in no results, sadly. So, not only can individuals become hungry after cardio, they can also become disheartened.


Well, we are funny creatures after all, and the truth is, we like to reward ourselves. So, we run 5k, which equals the reward of 1 chocolate bar. Not only does this result in no body fat reduction but more often than not, an increase in body fat.


So what is my advice and take home message on cardio? Yes include it, fasted steady state cardio, or even high intensity intervals, but use it as an additional tool for fat loss and body composition changes alongside weight training. Prioritize diet, weight lifting, and stress management for fat loss. Added cardio will help, but don’t rely solely on cardio to achieve the body you want.


Exercise of the week: Neutral Grip Lat Pulldown

By Adrianna McDonald

Looking to spice up your workout? You can stimulate (and surprise) your muscles in various ways simply by changing your grip for an exercise in the gym. With this you will also reap the benefits of  growth, power or strength gains.

All grip widths on the pulldown bar will hit your lats, but you can use a medium-width underhand (supinated) grip to target the biceps more.



I suggest to play around and find a width that feels most comfortable to you as there is no incorrect width.

A common belief is that a wider grip on the pulldown bar can develop wider lats more than a narrow one. In my opinion when utilizing the back muscles optimally, the wider grip does reduce the shortening process of the exercise which restricts the development overall.



Personally I don’t like sacrificing a whole day to training arms so I use different grips in other exercises to help them grow as well as using compound lifts with specific grips.

If your objective is to add in some extra biceps work while doing lat pulldowns, a medium-grip, triangle or supinated grip is just what I do.



You can mix up grip widths to add subtle variety to your lat pulldowns without feeling as if you’re missing out on the “special” lat building benefit of using a wide grip.

In the video Miranda demonstrates a lat pulldown variation holding a triangle bar which allows you for neutral grip (and is easier on the wrists).


Working Out with Weights: Tension Vs Load

By Kelvin Garner

Most people that meet me say: “Wow you must be strong!” simply due to having a little extra muscle then the common male in the gym. I have to say my days of being strong are gone in a way, since that is not what I plan my workouts around. In my days of being a bodybuilder the one key thing which has been extremely hard is to get the numbers out of my head.

Weight training can be done in various ways and two that I will explain today is Tension Vs Load. I have been able to produce amazing results in both aspects and have had totally different outcomes.

Tension or Time under tension is a commonly used term by many coaches and gym members. I can honestly say 9 times out of 10 most people I come across either can’t maintain tension for the whole set or don’t actually understand what it is. Now don’t get me wrong I have had my days of not understanding it as well but the main aspect of it is practice and also understanding how to be comfortable when you’re uncomfortable eg in PAIN!

My personal tip for understanding tension is to be able to create it without weight and do a similar movement without weights. When you have mastered this you will be able to mimic the same movement under a type of load (dumbbell, barbell, machine).

Tension, when done right, will create a tight painful contraction and stretching of the muscle. With each rep the contraction generally gets more painful but also gives you the understanding that you still have tension and you have not relaxed your muscles.

If you do relax we move into the load aspect (i.e. using weights). Now I am not saying this is wrong but in relation to bodybuilding or generally changing body composition the load aspect doesn’t work as you would hope.

Yes it will make your stronger.

Yes it will break down muscle fibers.

Yes your muscles will still be under load for 40-90 seconds.

Yes it will still burn.

But it won’t optimally create the change your looking for in my opinion.

You can use various ways to incorporate Load and Tension in a superset type workout. For example you can use the 6-12-25 or 8-15-30 rep breakdown (it doesn’t matter if your numbers are slightly different) as per the below:

6 reps of heavy tension, for example: Bench Press, Front Squat, Deadlift, Standing Shoulder press, BB Curl

12 reps of constant tension, e.g.: Incline DB press, Back Squat, Upright row, Preacher Curl

25 reps under load, e.g.: Machine chest fly, Leg Extension, DB Lateral raise, DB Hammer curls

Remember to be focused and aware of your body during each rep – are you squeezing your muscles? Are you keeping proper form? Numbers don’t matter unless you do it right.


Holiday Tips Part 1 – The No Gym Workout

On holiday? Don’t have access to a gym? Don’t worry, here’s what you can do (apart from the good ol’ body weight exercises!):

All you need is a few resistance bands (providing a resistance of 5-30 kg):

And an anchor… Literally!

Of course the sun & sea will give you an extra boost of motivation…

Yup, it’s time to throw all your excuses out!

Enjoy your holiday sun and burn some calories – why not?!


Exercise of the week: Vertical Leg Press

The Vertical Leg Press provides an impressive platform for obtaining huge muscle gains through isolated lower body workouts. It allows for stance variations to target different muscle groups at greater intensity.

Vertical leg presses have the potential to really work the gluteal muscles. There is significantly more leg and hip flexion on the vertical leg press machine versus a standard squat.

A wider stance (like in the video) will put more emphasis on the inner thigh muscles and your VMO’s will be screaming!

Greater depth or flexion create greater activation of the glutes.

To get all the advantages of a vertical leg press machine, you have to be able to perform it correctly.

Here’s how:

  1. Begin by lying on the back pad with your hips positioned beneath the weights (on the curvy bit)
  2. Place your feet on the platform (a wide stance in the video)
  3. Push up to lift the weights and disengage the lock then grasp the handles
  4. Engage your abdominal muscles then bend your knees to slowly lower the weights until your knees are near full flexion (with back glued to the pad)
  5. Push through your heels to extend your legs and press the weights back up to the starting position