The Power of 100

Volume Training

Over the last week I’ve been getting some serious DOMS, of which volume training has been the cause.

We all know that to get good results, you need to shock the body. Doing what your body can cope with day in, day out, is not going to get you the gains or the shreds you are looking for. So what do you do? I had been doing quite a lot of interval training in the run up to my Spartan race in a weeks’ time. I have also been doing some heavy lifting so I decided to spend a week trying out volume training.


If you’re like me and love the pain you get after a good workout, then volume training is definitely something you need to try if you’ve not tried it already. When it comes to volume training, I’m not sure how many reps is really a lot. So I picked 100. The power of 100! Most of these I had to do in 4 sets of 25, but where I could, I did it to failure before my first rest.


You obviously don’t want to be using high weights when doing volume training, for obvious reasons. I’d recommend using around a half to a third of the weight you’d use when going heavy. Sometimes you don’t need any weights at all!

My first day was legs. I started off with some jumping squats. Then I did some jumping lunges, followed by some goblet squats with an 8kg kettle bell. That’s pretty much all I had time for, but my goodness, I felt it the next day. Even more the day after!

Yesterday I did abs and started off with crunches. I then mixed it up a bit and did a set of 25 leg raises, followed by 25 standing side crunches holding a 10kg plate. Repeated 4 times to get to 100. That was it. That was literally all I did. Today I’m in agony. Good agony, but I’m scared for tomorrow.

So, volume training. Definitely give it a go!


HIIT Training

I previously spoke about interval training and how it’s great if you’re short of time. Since then I’ve been reading up more and more about it and discovering how it’s awesome at burning fat. I read recently that 25 minutes’ interval training 3 times a week delivers the same (if not better!) results as an hour’s steady cardio 5 days a week. There’s also been lots of research around how it’s really good for maintaining muscle mass when you’re shredding.

I have therefore been incorporating it into my workouts in my bid to drop body fat in time for my Spartan Sprint race in a few weeks’ time.


Lots of people I’ve spoken to have complained of the same thing. That it’s boring. This is because many people view HIIT training solely as using the Speed Interval setting on the treadmill. I was also guilty of this, which is why I’m trying to spread the word about how HIIT training can be done in so many different ways. I’m writing this blog whilst in the middle of some pretty bad arm DOMS from HIIT training yesterday.

HIIT training with weights

tricepYesterday I tried out a method of HIIT training that was new to me. I was using weights (well, cables mainly). Basically I was repping for 20 seconds, and then had a 10 second rest. It’s basically the same principle as when you’re using the Speed Interval setting. I used a very low weight (10kg for tricep pulldowns, versus my 1 rep max of 30kg) which seemed too low at the start, but my goodness was it burning by the end!! In total I did 2 exercises working triceps and 2 exercises working biceps. I was shaking by the end of each of my 8 “sets”, or 4 minutes. At the end I tried to do a pull up. FAIL!

Let me know what exercises you’ve found particularly good when HIIT training.

VAT on Whey

wheyThere’s an e-petition been started to get the UK government to revoke the tax on sports nutrition supplements.

In my view, it’s an utter outrage that pasties and Jaffa cakes can be VAT free, but protein shakes are not. The obesity crisis in this country is getting worse and worse, and this sends out completely the wrong message.

100,000 signatures are needed to get this to parliament.

You can sign the petition here or you can go to the government’s e-petitions website and search for “whey”.

Thank you!

Mark Roe Photoshoot

I recently had the pleasure of attending a photoshoot with the incredibly talented Mark Roe. It was the first shoot I’ve done that wasn’t for my own personal use, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I had already checked out his website and saw that he had done loads of really interesting shots. He had told me that he wanted to try out some effects with smoke so I was very intrigued.

So I drove down to Kent, and these were the results…!!

The first one is definitely my favourite. I’m really looking forward to working with Mark again in the future.





5 Reasons To Read Food Labels

5 Reasons To Read Food Labels

labelMost of us think we know what is good for us and what isn’t. It’s not until we read the label that we truly understand what is good for us, and what isn’t. You also need to understand what it is that you’re looking for in a certain food at the time of consuming it. Do you really want to be eating an egg white before you go out on a long run? Or should you be looking for some complex carbs? Knowing what you are putting into your body is so, so important for so many reasons.

1. Just because it says “Healthy” on the front, doesn’t mean it is

The supermarkets are by far the worst at this, although they’re by no means the only culprits. I’ve seen “Healthy Living” biscuits in Tesco. I’ve seen “Good for you” crisps in Sainsbury’s. It’s strange that I’ve never seen this wording put on packs of apples or on their boxes of eggs. That’s because they know we know what is good for us, but they also know what we crave. So by putting “healthy” on the label helps us to justify buying it.

2. Lots of products hide the salt content

They will try and disguise it by only putting on the “sodium” content. Who knows what that means? How much sodium is salt? I’ve found a great explanation here.salt

3. Do you know how big a serving is?

I saw an episode on The Biggest Loser which highlighted this very well. They basically asked the contestants to guess how big a portion is of each food, as specified on the packet out of which it comes. There was a minature pizza which pretty much anyone could have polished off in one sitting. This contained 6 servings!! Yes, 6!! So the calories and fat listed on the back didn’t seem all that bad…. until you multiplied them by 6.
I’ve seen in supermarkets the tiny packs of nuts (the ones I saw were right next to the chocolate bars, opposite the sandwiches – prime lunch spot) which state that a serving is 25g. But the pack is 40g! Try and figure that one out without some scales.
The best way to figure out what you are putting into your mouth is to check the “per 100g” nutritional info, and then look at how many grams are in the whole packet.

4. Did you buy your food from a “Health Shop”?

You know the kind. The ones that entice you in with promises of “natural” or “wholesome” foods. You know, just because something is natural or organic, doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

Look at the example of yogurt coated raisins and peanuts. A colleague was eating a bag the other day and when I remarked on her rather naughty choice of snack, her response was “it’s not naughty, it’s from Holland and Barrett”. I made a throwaway comment that she might as well have a mars bar. Was I really so far off the mark?

Per 100g, these yogurty treats came in at 479 calories, 29.5g of fat and 50.8g of sugar. mars

Per 100g of mars bar you get 449 calories, 17.1g of fat and 59.7g of sugar.

In addition to this, one mars bar is 51g and unless you’re feeling especially gluttonous, you’ll probably only have one at a time . My colleague ate half her 250g bag of raisins and peanuts. You do the math!


5. Are you following a low carb diet?

low carbMore and more of us are choosing to adopt a low carb diet. I personally am a big fan when I’m in a shredding phase, but it’s always controlled, I always make sure I have a weekly cheat meal, and it’s never for more than around 10 weeks at a time.

Do you know that 100g of apple has around 14g of carbs? Are you aware that to be serious about your low carb diet, you should be consuming around 0.5g of carbs per lb of body weight? That’s about 65g of carbs per day for a 130lb person (me!) and it soon adds up if you’re on the smoothies or big salads.

I’m neither supporting or condoning this diet as a long term thing, but just putting out there that people don’t realize that fruit and veg is a major source of carbohydrates.

Do Friends Help Or Hinder Your Cause?

What do you do when you’re trying to get ninja but all your friends keep telling you to “eat more” and “get some meat on your bones”?
They mean well, of course they do, but they just don’t understand, or cant relate to, the fact that you’re trying to get lean, drop fat and gain muscle.

One of my best friends is around a size 14, and is always starting a diet. Every other month she tells me with great enthusiasm that she’s cutting out all chocolate, crisps and desserts because she wants to lose a few lbs. And it generally works. A couple of weeks later she will proudly exclaim that she’s lost 4lbs and the rest of us will all congratulate her on her achievement. I’m definitely not trying to take anything away from her – losing weight is hard and her success should be recognised, but I know that if I were to make the same announcements to my friends, I’d almost certainly get a response like “oh Yvette, you’re skinny enough already”.

So I’d feel guilty telling her that I’d lost x% body fat, like I was showing off or gloating, and so generally don’t mention it at all. There are a few comments when we’re out for dinner if I choose the grilled salmon with vegetables (leaving the potatoes on the side of the plate) “you’re so healthy, Yvette” and “I couldn’t be as strict as you”, but I’ll normally laugh it off.

Another seems to tell me on a regular basis that not only am I “all skin and bone”, but I should be eating chocolate every day like she does because “a little wont hurt”. Whilst this statement is true to a degree, it’s for that exact reason that she went on the Ducan diet for 4 weeks leading up to her holiday. She lost an amazing 10lbs in those 4 weeks, but no doubt she’ll be back to her old weight in no time and back to square one! She probably wouldn’t have needed to diet at all if she exercised a little refrain day-to-day.

I’m starting to feel like I have an eating disorder when I’m round them – hiding the fact that I eat so few processed carbs, sometimes even having something bad in front of them just so I don’t get comments. I also don’t tend to mention too much to them about how often I go to the gym (around 6 times per week). But I know I don’t have an eating disorder – they just think that a “normal” diet has to consist of bread, pasta, a dessert after every dinner, and a glass of wine every night.

I was thinking about this the other day and it made me wonder. Do people who dislike their own bodies try and convince themselves that a “healthy” diet is somehow abnormal so that they don’t feel guilty when they cant stick to one? Do people (possibly subconsciously) try and sabotage healthy diets to make their own not look so bad?

I’ve seen a few articles on it, like this one which is quite interesting:

So, you might be thinking, “well, ARE you skin and bone? Do your friends have a point?” The answer to that is most definitely NO. I am small, granted – I’m a size 8 and 5’4 but while I have 30% body fat, I also can lift my own body weight (I managed three whole pull ups the other day) So there’s a decent amount of muscle here too. The point of my mission to get ninja is not to be any smaller. That’s not my aim. It might be a by-product of my efforts, but if I stayed a size 8, or even went up to a 10, I wouldn’t be bothered. What I’m trying to achieve is muscle definition and I really want some abs! To get abs, it’s all about diet and cardio so I’m trying to be really strict with myself, but it’s so hard when friends really cannot relate to what you’re trying to do.

I’m very lucky in that I have a super partner who can be happy for me when I finally reach my goal. He’s fit himself and understands what it takes to get a lean physique (he ripped up a few years ago and is joining me in my self-proclaimed challenge). He’s teaching me how to train, which muscles to work and when, what cardio to do, and he’s helping me with my diet and eating plans. We’re doing it all together (the protein shake breakfasts, the stir frys and omelettes for dinner, the gym sessions etc). I genuinely wouldn’t be able to manage this without him because all the comments from my friends would probably make me end up agreeing with them, that I was already “too skinny” and I’d just give up and eat that whole pack of oreos.

I also share my ups and downs on twitter. There are hundreds of you out there who can understand what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. A lot of you have been there and know exactly what I’m going through, and your words of encouragement and shared stories are awesome.

It’s a shame that my friends cant be happy for me, or supportive of what I’m doing, but I understand that they’re not doing it out of jealousy – they just don’t understand what I’m doing or why I’m doing it. In their eyes I already have what they regard to be a good figure. Perhaps I should explain it to them a little more, maybe it’s my own fault. But whenever I try to justify my healthy lifestyle to them, it’s almost as if they don’t want to understand and I find it easier to steer clear of the subject. Maybe they’ll feel differently if they see me in a bikini in a couple of months (in ninja shape, hopefully!!) – they might then appreciate all the effort I’ve put in has had very obvious results. Unless I feel too guilty to show them, of course…