Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Yesterdays workout: 8/11/11

An awesome workout yesterday even if there are still certain things I can't do due to a rotator cuff injury on my right shoulder but working around and doing things I have not done for years such as curls and tricep extensions.

I went for supersets of 4 x 8-10 reps with 45secs rest between supersets.

1) Trigger point therapy, mobility, rotator cuff movements.

2) Single arm bottoms up kettlebell press (surprisingly this feels great on my shoulder, the extra grip activation allows for some great stability
throughout arm and shouler). 10reps@20kg
Deadlifts 10reps@170kg

3) Stiff leg Deadlifts 10@140kg
Weighted leg lowers 10@6kg

4) Face pulls with a 3sec negative. 10@50kg
Cable tricep extensions with a 3 sec negative 10@35kg

5) rear cable raises (awesome for my shoulder) with a 3 sec negative 10@5kg (I know little weights but the burn was insane)
Skull crushers with a 3 sec negative 10@50kg

As you can see this is a very different workout plan compared to my usual stuff but hey, you gotta listen to your body and change things up now and again. As I can't do a lot of the bigger lifts such as cleans, jerks and back squats which are high intensity moves I have made up for this with very brief rest periods between supersets, it's tough but gives the workout the intensity I prefer. Body split type training is not really my thing but doing it this way feels pretty dam good.

If you are unsure what some of these exercises may look like please get in touch and I will be happy to help.

Be sure to check out our brand new website for some great blog posts, articles, training ideas and recipes. Be great to know what you think.

Happy training,


Tuesday, 18 October 2011

RKC Vs IKFF, or is there more to it?

As a personal trainer, strength enthusiast and kettlebell instructor who has done both the RKC and IKFF kettlebell certifications I am often asked which one I prefer or which would I suggest for someone looking to gain a kettlebell certification. So in this post I would like to give a little breakdown of each course, the good points, the bad points and my overall honest opinion.

I started using kettlebells for my own training about 4 years ago. I heard about them, googled them, watched some videos, gave it a go...........I was hooked. I loved them.

I showed Keris (my girlfriend and co founder of Fitter London) a thing or two with them and it wasn't long before she was hooked either.

It was here we dicided to look into kettlebell courses in London, we found a 1 day course based In north London and booked onto it. They were both RKC certified trainers so after the research I had done I figured this was a winner. Straight away I realised my technique needed a lot of fine tuning and I enjoyed the feeling of more efficient kettlebell movement.


By the end of the day I felt as though corners had been cut and that 1 day simply was not enough to fully understand kettlebell training. I wanted to learn more.

It was here we looked further into the RKC certification. I was at first shocked at the price, it was not cheap and it did not even include accommodation or flights. The next one in Europe was in Budapest in August (2009) and we thought sod it, lets do it. We wanted kettlebells to be a huge part of our fitness business and our own training regimes and figured what better than to learn from the best. We were passionate about them and were prepared to pay the price.

RKC is fronted by Pavel Tsatsouline.

We were all packed and ready to go, so here is my RKC Pros and cons:

RKC is a 3 day certification and I was slightly anxious at what we had in store for us.


- RKC is a very thorough training system, every movement was broken down into stages to ensure a full understanding, we were constantly being corrected and assessed.

- All instructors were happy to answer questions and were incredibly knowledgable.

- Everything was clear and very easy to understand due to the very well structured nature of the cert.

- Repetition was a big thing but I love this as it really drummed home the techniques.

- They took a personal trainers needs in to consideration as there was a huge focus on breakdown and progressions to teach your clients. There were also plenty of alternatives for people who struggled with certain movements.

- There were plenty of instructors there so you never felt you were on your own unaware if your doing things correctly or not.

- After each day I had aches in all the right places and felt as though I was learning so much every minute.

- Massive attention to detail.


- Before we had even done anything we were asked to perform the snatch test. This test inloves performing 100 snatches in under 5 mins. Men above 60kg used a 24kg kettlebell, men under 60kg used a 20kg, women above 56kg used a 16kg and women below 56kg used 12 kg. I didn't agree with this, I was aware that a lot of preparation before the cert was involved but to perform what I believed was a very technical lift with a predetermined weight without instruction was unsafe and was an injury waiting to happen for some. By the way, someone did get very badly injured and it ended the cert straight away.

- Too military based for my liking. I don't mind a disciplined approach but some of these dudes were just plain arrogant and were dishing out orders like we were in the army. They saw it fit to throw drills at us that were incredibly testing for most and for some unbarable. I love hard work but when my technique is being effected because an instructor loves the sound of his own voice too much it got quite annoying. A bit over the top at times to say the least.

- Practice makes perfect but if someone has not yet developed the strength to perform a certain movement with the suggested weight then its only right they drop weight and perform the movement correctly right? Not here. I believe men should be able to handle atleast 1.5 times there bodyweight on a deadlift but I dont start them on that weight, they practice, they progress and we work up to it. To make someone feel like a failure for good judgement again did not sit well with me.


Aside from the stated cons, RKC was worth every penny for me. It was jam packed with great information and I was buzzing with inspiration, I coudnt wait to show our Fitter London members everything we had learnt. From start to finish it was well structured and incredibly engaging.

It was during our RKC certification that we kept hearing the name Steve Cotter going around. We had not heard much of this guy so we decided to check him out. He used to be part of RKC but decided to go his seperate way and set up the IKFF certification. I watched some of Steve Cotters videos and all I can say is......WOW. I was in awe of this guy, so fit, strong, explosive and insanely mobile. It wasn't long before I was looking to see when he was next in London.

It was Febuary 2010 and we were booked onto his level 1 course. The IKFF course was half the price of RKC which was great :-). It was 2 days long and I couldn't wait to meet the guy who was so inspiring just through his videos.

Before I go in to the pros and cons I want to highlight that Steve Cotters approach to kettlebell lifting is very different to that of the RKC. RKC has more of an explosive, full body tension approach and IKFF is a more fluid approach with a big focus on reducing tension in order to keep fatigue at bay for as long as possible. The style was completely different, from the general movement and breathing to duration and grip technique.

I have to admit at first this was not what I was expecting but it was not long before I was engaged and loving it.


- Completely different style and was really excited and learning what seemed an opposite approach to kettlebell lifting.

- Huge emphasis on warm ups and mobility which was amazing.

- Went over exercises that I had never done before such as overhead squats which are fantastic.

- The lay out was incredibly challenging, varied and fun.

- There was no fitness test or wieght requirment but just a big focus on correct and safe technique which was made clear from the start. This was great and took the pressure off which allowed for a more enjoyable experience.

- Great group of instructors who were incredibly knowledgable and well experienced.


- I felt that there was less attention to detail compared to RKC and at times quite vague.

- There was not the approach to corrective exercises that I was expecting, it was more of a if this doesnt feel right go lighter type of thing but I was looking for more answers here.

- I felt that due to the longer duration style of this training (a long cycle is 10 mins long) that this style would not go down too well with my clients especially as they were used to the RKC style of training.

To be honest that is all I have for this one as I loved this course and I met some great like minded people there too.

So, which one did I prefer?

To be honest, I can't really say. But what I will say is always keep an open mind, broaden your horizons and never stop learning. I use both techniques from the certs and they go down a treat in classes, on PT sessions and as part of my own training regime.

I don't for a second regret doing either of them, they have played a huge role in my journey as the eternal student and I value both of these courses equally, however I will say in my experience, the RKC approach has been more client friendly and they have responded better to this technique.

My biggest bit of advice is whichever course you choose to do dont get sucked in to the whole cult thing. I believe the RKC system is guilty of this and most RKC instructors believe their method is the only way and nothing else matters. Some even go to the extremes of getting tatoos and all wearing the same trousers which is when it gets a little too much for me. This is a very narrow minded approach and I dont agree with it. IKFF was not like this at all and I liked that.

IKFF for me highlighted the importance of longevity which i had not really considered before this. Mobility is now a huge part of my routine and the more fluid approach to kettlebell lifting is a great way to take a little break from all that heavy lifting and body tension that is involved in most training regimes.

Ideally I'd say if you can afford to, do both certs. I would not have one without the other but that's just me.

Since doing these I have worked with many other great coaches and most recently the awesome Mike Mahker when he was in the UK in Feb this year.

Mike Mahler again had a very different take on kettlebell training and there was a big focus on heavy lifting whilst reducing tension and also explosive power. Personally, this is the style of training I have always enjoyed (Im a rugby player so this makes sense) and I loved every minute of this course.

Mike Mahler's approach was incredibly simple yet highly effective, his hormone optimisation lecture alone was worth the money and his style of kettlebell lifting has complemented the training of myself, my classes and my clients very well.

Working with the best in the industry has taught me a hell of allot and each of the above workshops has provided an even deeper knowledge into an industry and style of training I absolutely love. So get yourself out there, don't stick to one so called style. Experiment and find what works for you, have your own take on it and put it out there. Better yet, don't rely solely on kettlebell training, I love kettlebells but they make up a fraction of what training tools I use for my clients and our classes.

I really hope this post has been informative, as I said I simply wanted to put an honest opinion out there and here it is.

I am still learning and have plenty of other great coaches I would like go work with so watch this space.

If anyone has any questions about any of these courses then please get in touch id be happy to help

Listen, learn, practice and improve.

Yours in training,


P.s check out our brand new website which launched last week we are very proud of it and hope you enjoy the content. Honest feedback is always welcome.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Yesterdays workout: 16/9/11

Had a beast of a workout yesterday and feeling on top of the world today and raring for some more training.

1) a thorough warm up and mobility.

2) deep squats 5x5reps (first 2 sets were progressively heavier warm up sets)

Supersetted with:

Single arm dumbbell rows 5x8reps with a 4 sec negative (last set was with 3 drop sets to failure)

3) 3 sets of 5 reps of a charles poliquin variation on squats to hit the VMO (these are brutal and my VMO is feeling it today, in a good way of course)

See it here:

4) stiff leg Deadlifts (explosive reps) 3x12rps (the last 4 reps of every set set the hamstrings and glutes on fire)

Supersetted with:

Dumbell shoulder press 3x8reps with a 4 sec negative.

5) cable tricep extensions 3x10 reps with a 4sec negative

Supersetted with:

Reverse grip ez bar curls 3x10 reps with a 4sec negative (feeling the burn baby)

6) mobility and stretch.

Plastered myself with magnesium oil after my workout which is working wonders for my recovery and reducing DOMS.

Bring on today's workout.

Have a great day folks and happy lifting.

Yours in strength,


Friday, 16 September 2011

What I ate today!

This is one for the ladies! I’m not being sexist but us girls think a lot about what we eat. Don't get me wrong guys are health conscious too but us girls take this to another level. For most women every meal, snack, drink is accompanied by a lightening fast thought process including a detailed biochemical breakdown of its content; calories, fat, protein, carbs......and emotions: guilt, pleasure, need, greed, etc.

Food and bodyfat make up a unique and universal language to us ladies, we can talk for hours about what we eat, but mainly what we don’t eat. We go on about how we have two more kilos to lose, how we feel bloated because we ate bread, how we hate shopping for jeans, gym kit and bikini's as all three make us face our lumpy bits. We use shop windows to see how big our bum looks today. Sometimes we pretend we don’t give a toss about our waistline but secretly spend most of our waking hours formulating a plan to get it smaller! Between clients I often work in coffee shops and witness these conversations all day long:

“This week I’m mainly eating cardboard, it really works for me, you should try it…”

“Really! Any special type of cardboard or will any do? I’ll get some on my way home!”

We have routines and rules when it comes to food, We love reading about diets and detoxes, we look at diet pills and potions in Superdrug and for a split second we’re tempted but common sense prevails, if they really worked there wouldn’t be any fat people in the world!

We like to know what's in a celebrities fridge and what they eat on the weekend, knowing full well there's no way they eat that much crap! We scrutinise shots of Abbey Clancey on the beach, trying to find a hint of cellulite and hope that one day we might just witness a bingo wing wobble on Madonna and breathe a sigh of relief that she’s normal after all. We’re fascinated by what other women are doing and constantly compare ourselves.... how do they get such a tiny waist, such a flat stomach and my own personal envy: slim bloody legs!

Its a sad fact that the majority of the women I know may not have eating disorders but certainly eat disorderly. I have refined my diet so much over the years, the more I learn the more it improves and the better I feel. My weight has pretty much stayed the same but I have seen a nice reduction in my muffin top (I am still scarred from a fellow gym pal once pointing out that I was sporting a "cake top" - at least get the insult right!) My skin is the best its ever been, I no longer wear make up in the day and I have the best energy levels I’ve ever experienced in my life. No cravings, no hunger and no sense of deprivation. I will continue to strategically angle mirrors to see how big my bum really is and ask Matt ten times a day if he thinks my legs look fat but I can confidently say I am 100% happier in myself than years gone by, what I'm eating now works so much better for me.

So here’s what I ate today and why:

Upon waking (5.30am)
Warm water and lemon- Cleanses digestive system and stimulates liver.
Teaspoon of nut butter - Stabilise blood sugar and keeps me going until I get chance to eat.

On the train (6.15am)
Organic black coffee - I still love a good strong coffee to start my day.

Breakfast 7.30am
2 scoops chocolate Sunwarrior protein shake with added L-glutamine and Maca (+ Multi Vits/fish oil).

I have a shake for convenience as breakfast is consumed on the go. Sunwarrior is raw, vegan and unlike whey doesn't inflate my stomach, I add L-glutamine as it's alkalines the body and helps strengthen gut integrity, Maca is an adaptogenic herb renowned for regulating and supporting hormone health.

Mid Morning (11am)
Handful of walnuts and clean greens drink.

Walnuts are great source of omega 3's and protein. Pukka Clean Greens is the only green drink I can get on with most others make me heave, I have 1-2 a day for an anti-oxidant fix.

Lunch (12.30pm)
Large, baked organic chicken breast with organic green salad, topped with roasted red onion, butternut squash, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower (+digestive enzymes)

I always chunk out salad with roasted veg to keep it tasty and steamed veg for a vitamin and mineral fix, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower) are great for reducing excessive estrogen - a must if you store fat around your legs and chest area.

Mid afternoon (3pm)
Small black coffee and pot of brazil nuts + pumpkin seeds.

Brazil nuts are sweet and creamy so lovely mid afternoon with a coffee, they are a good source of selenium and pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc. I always portion control these as nuts and seeds are a what Tim Ferris calls a 'domino' food for me, I can eat and eat and eat .

On train home:
Large green tea

I aim for 3 a day if I can (every time I enter a coffee shop I have a 5 minute coffee/green tea debate!) Green tea has always been renowned for high antioxidant content but green tea is increasingly being recognised for improving glucose metabolism and increasing fat metabolism.

Snack whilst making dinner (7pm)
Roasted squash and handful pumpkin seeds.

I always snack when making dinner, a very bad habit (that I can't seem to break) as sometimes I eat so much I don't even feel like dinner! We had some butternut squash roasted in coconut milk and garlic in the fridge so I snacked on that, it makes a lovely sweet, creamy snack.

Dinner 7.30pm
Cod and mushrooms sauteed in coconut oil and a dash of tamari (gluten free soya sauce) with avocado, watercress, spinach, pine nuts and sundried tomato salad (+digestive enzymes).

This is such a quick supper, I like to eat as soon as I get home so I have few hours to digest dinner and chill out before bed. I have two pieces of fish (lots of lean protein) and a big serving of greens to go with my omega 3's. The sundried tomatoes and pine nuts add flavour. Mushrooms (great with tamari) really are magical when it comes to health; they lower bad cholesterol, have anti-carcinogenic properties, a high anti-oxidant content to boost your immune system and are packed with minerals like copper and potassium. The bitter, peppery taste of watercress makes it a great digestive aid and vitamin A content improves skin health.

Snack 8pm
Teaspoon of nut butter & ginger and lemon steeper.

If you ever get a sweet craving after dinner have a teaspoon of nut butter, the fat will curb the craving and help you feel satiated. Ginger and lemon steepers are lovely, both sweet and spicy, trust me on this one! Ginger also has so many medicinal benefits so get dosed up for winter, I roughly chop big chunks and have with hot water and a squeeze of fresh lemon. I've tried lots of herbal teas but most for me are more of a chore than an enjoyment, but I love ginger steepers. It goes great with some dark chocolate too....only at the weekend of course ;-)

So that's what I ate today, some days I eat more (much more!) some days I eat less but the important thing is that every day I focus on filling my body with good stuff that will keep me happy, healthy and the way don't expect a blog on what Matt eats, it would need to be an EPIC novel!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Mondays workout: 5/9/11

Awesome workout on Monday with Rich which I can still feel the effects of today. Feels great.

1) squats 2 working sets of death sets (20 reps) these were done to the absolute max with 1min rest between sets. WOW.

Superset the following:

2) close grip press ups 10 reps with a 5sec negative and explosive press x 3 sets (harder than they look)
reverse grip barbell rows 10 reps with a 5 sec negative x 3 sets (my lats feel great today)

3) supinated grip wide pull ups 3 sets of 8
Leg extensions 10 reps with 5sec negative x 3 sets

4) cool down and stretch

Again just stuck to the 3 supersets as well as the death sets to ensure focus on reps and go for quality over quantity. I feel great for it and highly recommend everything play around with their rep ranges and tempo of reps for great results.

Have an awesome day.

Yours in strength,

Matt Whitmore

Friday, 2 September 2011

7 Ways To Improve Your Deadlift Immediately

Hey Guys and Girls,

Here is a great video with 7 very simple solutions to improve your deadlift immediately. The list could easily be longer but I would say these are 7 very common problems that I experience with my clients or fellow gym members.

I view the deadlift as one of the most effective exercises you can do whatever your goals are. If you can master this then you're on to good things.

Many seem to believe that the deadlift places a lot of stress on your back and has a high injury risk. That's a load of rubbish as any exercise performed badly has a high risk of injury. If done correctly and effectively, this is a risk free exercise that will simply change the way you train and I'm sure this video will help you to do just that.

7 reasons why you're not getting the results you want from your deadlift.

  1. Going too heavy too soon:
    It's a great feeling ripping a huge amount of weight from the floor in one explosive movement but dont get carried away. Take your time and perfect your tecnique before you start piling the weight on the bar.
    At the moment, I personally work on (example) the 5 sets of 5 reps system with 3 minutes rest between sets. I'm focusing on strength training for the time being. I do 3 progressively heavier warm up sets followed by 2 working sets. I then aim to perform 3 working sets on this poundage. Once I have done so, I increase the weight and again aim for 2 working sets with a view of increasing to 3 etc. I also throw in some 1 rep max lifts or 5 sets of 3 reps to keep my body guessing and hitting heavier poundages. By all means though taiolor the rep and set range to your goals.

  2. Stance:
    This can be a crucial decider in the efficiency of your lift although it often is a matter of personal preference which is why it's important to play around with different stances and discover which works best for you. I persoanlly know some seriously strong dudes that have quite a narrow stance but I also know some guys who lift a crazy weight with what I would say was quite a wide stance, to each to their own. I personally prefer about shoulder width with my toes angled out very slightly.

  3. Your bum is too high:
    Getting my butt down, personally added some serious weight to my lift. Although my back was straight, by keeping my hips so high I was not engaging my legs enough in the lift which meant my poundages were limited. It was fine when I was working to a higher rep range, say 8-10 reps but to lift big you need to get your arse down.

  4. The bar is not close enough to your shins:
    The path of the bar on the deadlift should be as straight as possible and if you start with the bar too far from the shins you have immediately created problems for yourself. In order to maintain a smooth lift, the bar should be touching the shins at the bottom and almost graze the shins and the quads to the top of the movement. I often come away from a deadlift session with bloodied shins which is a sign of just how close I maintain the bar to my legs. You also compromise your lower back when the bar is too far from the shins, as you know this is never a good thing.

  5. Not engaging the lats:
    When at the bottom of the lift, retract the shoulders by engaging the lats to ensure a solid start to the lift. Now I must say that when you start to move some seriously heavy weights, let's use ex world record holder Andy Bolton as an example, it becomes increasingly harder to maintain such a position. However if the muscle's intent is there and the other muscles in the lift are firing as they should it will not cause any problems. If you stay too relaxed in the upper back and lats, this can allow the weight of the bar to round your shoulders forward which often has a knock on effect and causes a curve in the spine.

  6. You're not engaging your midsection:
    Believe me, doing crunches will never improve your deadlift however ensuring you engage your mid section is invaluable to your lift. When in the bottom position, before you show that bar who's boss, take a deep breath as deep as you can into your stomach, this will create the tension required in the midsection to support the spine and remove any softness from the lift. Your breathing alone could make a huge difference.

  7. Too much slack in your arms:
    What I'm referring to here is those who start their lift with bent arms. This is an injury risk and will do nothing for your deadlift. Eliminate slack from the bar and the arms. If the bar can make that rattling sound when in your grip that means their is too much slack. Get rid of it and I assure you will instantly feel the lift so much more in all the right places.
The video goes in to greater detail on these points so please have a look and implement these tips today. I promise you will feel an immediate difference.

I have been performing the deadlift for years and I'm always looking for different techniques and teaching points. As much as I have discovered that different people have different techniques that suit them better, I believe as a rule of thumb the above changes will see nothing but improvement. I personally used to keep my hips way too high and this really prevented me from getting to a substantial weight as I simply was not using my legs enough. As soon as I got my arse down, I added 15kg to my lift straight away, this is no lie.

Now, I'm no deadlift expert and I'm certainly not lifting a super human poundage but I do have experience in this exercise and it's a movement I take very seriously and remain to seek improved techniques, program design and rep range structure in order to take it too the next level. I ensure I always feel it in the right places whether I'm smashing multiple sets of singles or going for 4 sets of 8 reps. Anyone who stands up after a lift clutching their lower back in pain (I'm sure you have all seen it) needs to asses their technique.

So remember this:
  1. Step up to the bar with a shouder width stance, and toes angled out slightly with the bar touching your shins.
  2. Drop the hips down to fully engage the legs and glutes.
  3. Pack the shoulders back by engaging the lats.
  4. Remove every once of slack out the bar and the arms
  5. Take a huge breath in to the stomach to brace the midsection and support the spine.
  6. Then rip that bar from the floor driving through your heels.
  7. Reverse the movement and repeat.
I'm sure you can relate to some if not all of the above points and I hope it can add as much value to your training as it has mine.

Happy lifting,

Matt Whitmore

Today's workout: 2/9/11

Yet another awesome workout today with my training partner Rich. Even if my Deadlifts did not feel as good as previous weeks I didn't let it get to me although was hoping to beat my PB but there is always next week.

Here is how it went down:

1) warm up and mobility work

2) Deadlifts 3 warm up sets followed by 4 working sets of singles (1 rep max) with 3 mins rest between sets

The rest were performed as supersets.

3) front squats 4 working sets of 6 reps
Pull ups 5 reps with a 10 second negative on each (these were brutal and my lats felt huge, infact if jumped off a building I think I could of glided :- ) with 90secs rest

4) cable tricep extension 3 working sets of 12 reps with a 4 sec negative
Hammer curls with fat Gripz 3 working sets of 12 reps with a 4 sec negative with 60secs rest

5) cool down and stretch

Big well done to Rich for smashing his PB on his Deadlifts, awesome stuff.

Feeling good now and looking forward to 2 days of rest and recovery in preparation for another big session on Monday morning.

Bring it on.


Have a great day,