Quick Muscle Beach day trip…

Filmed last November, when the weather was lousy here, Dan Wynes and I decided to do a quick all-body-part workout together showing some of our favourite exercises for Arms, Back, Chest, Shoulders and Legs – and then crammed them all into a quick four minute video.

And to make you truly jealous of the winter weather, we hopped on a plane and did it outside at sunny Muscle Beach in Los Angeles.

If you want to see these fave exercises, or just like seeing other people doing the work in the sunshine (or even see if my music choice has improved), take a look – its the top left video on www.bitly.com/ChrisVideos

Ideas on building abs

You may have others say that ‘Abs are made in the kitchen – not in the gym’.

Well, that’s not really true. They are actually made in the gym – but they are indeed made visible by what you do in the kitchen. Work in the gym (or on the floor at home) will build those abs, but only getting down to below-average levels of bodyfat will make viewable.

The best abs exercise to show what you’ve built in the gym is without doubt: five sets daily of eating less rubbish!

But you do indeed have to build them – and I’ve written an article about what I’ve found to be the 6 best simple exercises for building the lower abs. On most people, that’s the bit south of the belly button, the lower slabs of your soon-to-be-visible six pack.

The article is in two parts, both on the great Watchfit website – take a look at the articles here:

Exercises 1-3

Exercises 4-6

I hope you find that helps you on the abs building part – now go plan that good nutrition to work on the making-visible part. There’s tips on my website about the nutrition approach you will need, but if you still want ideas, just drop me an email.

And have an ABSolutely fine time doing it, too!

On stage in two days!

There are now less than 48 hours to go until the Pure Elite Fitness Model contest in Margate. I’ll be there on stage, and I’m both looking forward to it and apprehensive in equal measure!

This is the first time I’ve competed in Pure Elite, although I have been on a stage elsewhere in similar contests organised by Miami Pro four times in the past – two categories each time, so in fact I’ve been on the stage for eight separate contests.

So why I am apprehensive? It sounds like I’m an ‘old hand’ at this game! Well, there are a couple of aspects about the Pure Elite that make it all a little bit more of a challenge.

Firstly, there are the age categories. For Miami Pro, I have always entered the over 50’s age group in both the Fitness Model and Muscle Model categories; I’ll be doing the same two category names this Sunday too, but Pure Elite has a different age structure, and I’m in the over 45’s, not over 50’s. This means I’ll be competing against guys who are almost 13 years younger than me – and age is certainly a factor in being able to reach peak physical condition. In my other contests, I was usually the oldest on stage by about 5 years; in this one, I’ll be a week away from my 58th birthday, I suspect I’ll be the oldest again, but will have a much greater age gap to the youngest.

Secondly, I’ve also had another fitness-related focus on my mind. I’ve been raising money for a good cause – a young girl called Esme with an incurable disease. The high point of my fund -raising for her was running a marathon in Dublin on Monday this week (the marathon and cash-raising story is on www.bitly.com/chris4esme). I’m not used to much long-distance running, and I was pretty exhausted at the end of the 26 miles. An article on marathon running I read previously suggested runners need 26 days without training to recover post-run, based on a day’s recovery for every mile ran. I certainly couldn’t afford that time off with the Pure Elite being 6 days after the marathon, so I decided to make that 26 hours off-training rather than 26 days! I hope the marathon hasn’t taken too much out of me for the Pure Elite, and that I haven’t taken my training too far off course as a result.

Apart from the marathon, I think I’ve prepared well for Pure Elite. I have been training alongside Dan Wynes, a young guy to whom I have been acting as fitness mentor for the past six months. Even though I’m the mentor, I know that I have learned as much from Dan as he has from me over these past months, and we have both been determined at pushing each other on. Dan has formally challenged me to be the best of my generation present at Pure Elite, and I issued the same challenge to him.

The most intensive period for us was a week’s dedicated training taken as a trip to Gold’s in Venice Beach, Los Angeles, ending the day before travelling to Dublin. That week in Gold’s was the toughest week’s gym training of my life, and my thanks go to Dan for encouraging me on so much – and also to Rob Riches of True Performance Nutrition (the USA-based company for which I am an ambassador) who joined in the training there and further helped both Dan and me reach new reserves of strength and dedication to achieving the best body we each can.

Coming forward to today, I checked the mirror and scales this morning, and feel happy with what I saw. I’m at the lowest bodyfat for five years, just beating my final number on the Gold’s trip – the bodyfat actually went up significantly in Dublin due to the mega-high carbs fuelling my run on Monday.

Have I done enough to repair the fitness diversion caused by Dublin, and to be a worthy opponent to those competing alongside me on stage? I hope so.

My wife Jenny and Dan’s girlfriend Liz are in the front row of spectators on Sunday, and will be screaming madly for both of us during our separate times on stage. I hope they get to see their chaps have met to the challenges we gave each other with success. We want our ladies to see us achieve results to make them proud of the two of us.

More next week, when Pure Elite will be over – for this year, at least!

Two weeks and counting…

It’s now only just over two weeks to go until the Pure Elite championships. With every passing week, the training and nutrition gets that little more precise. Before I go into details, however, a quick recap…

The Pure Elite fitness modelling contest is on November 2nd in Margate. It’s an event where the competitors are on stage with not much on in the way of clothing, and there is a team of judges to study the physique, presence and presentation of those competing – and a theatre full of spectators, and TV cameras, to catch every move. Fitness modelling is a lot like a bodybuilding contest but, as I’ve said before, with smaller muscles but bigger smiles and bigger swimming trunks!

I’ve done such competitions before – I’ve just counted to realise I’ve actually done eight – yikes! – but this is my first with Pure Elite. It’s also my first in the over 45 age group, as previously I had been in an over 50 age group. I’m also entering the non-age restricted body transformation category, totally new to me, where I hope the fact that I’ve lost over a third of my bodyweight in fat over the past few years will help my chances.

IMG_4809I’ll be there with Dan Wynes, to whom I have been acting as mentor for the past six months with this specific contest in mind. Dan is entering different categories to me – as he’s 21, he doesn’t qualify for the genteel environs on the over-45’s. Genteel? I doubt it!

The overall aim of all the competitors is to increase the amount of muscle, and reduce the amount of fat covering those muscles. All of the exercise and nutrition practices are focussed on delivering those objectives. There’s a few other parts involved in chasing success – for me that’s posing practice, body shave (yuck), spray tan (double yuck) – and I’ll talk about those nearer the event, but here is a flavour of the exercise and nutrition sides from my own viewpoint.

I am pretty good on both exercise and eating correctly all year round – but for the past few weeks I have ‘turned up the dial’ on both these factors. If I had to summarise the approach in one line, it is we are now doing more of the good things, and less of the bad things.

On exercise, I’ve moved my fat-burning cardio from 4 days a week up to 7, and increased it from 40 minutes to 50, all on a cross-trainer. I much prefer the steady state approach to intervals, as I can use the time for emails and the like and don’t have to be focussed on keeping detailed track of time minute-by-minute. I can also get into the rhythm from my music, man. I like to keep the heart rate well in the aerobic zone, at 120bpm plus or minus 5. I do this cardio session first thing at the gym, as the last hour of my overnight fast, before going home for a decent break-fast.

On resistance training, or weights, I have again turned the dial up. I used to train an average of 5 times a week – one each of ABCDE then two days off (ABCDE are Arms, Back, Chest, Delts and Elevators) – Delts is shoulders, and Elevators is the new marketing-friendly word for legs invented for my system! Now I try for six times a week, doing double legs and only one day off: ABECDE – and upping each workout to 8 exercises rather than 7.

On the nutrition side, I’ve cut down on carbs Mon-Fri. I don’t normally keep a detailed record, but I try for around 2500 calories a day with around 250g of protein, 250g of carbs and 50g of fat. That’s all done by estimation and eyeballing amounts, which I’ve become OK at doing. Now, I’m being more precise – keeping the weekends with the numbers as they were before (but with more accurate measuring), but Monday-Friday I’ve now cut the carbs down to 100g while leaving other macronutrients the same – giving around 1900 calories per day. Of those carbs, I see the sugars are the key thing to avoid, and I have those sugars just as fruit, and that only as part of my post-cardio breakfast and post-workout meal. The increased carb amounts at weekends is a carb ‘re-load’ and helps the body not get too accustomed to the low carb routine.

Is it having an effect? Well, the scales say I’m down a few pounds, and the percentages show that specifically the bodyfat percentage is also down – which is the plan. Also, the gym performance is not deteriorating, so I’m still adding some strength along the way. We will know in two weeks time, I guess, although there’s a few more macronutrient manipulations to come.

There are a couple of factors that will influence all of this:

Firstly, Dan and I are off to do a week of concentrated gym and cardio training, plus spot-on nutrition, in Los Angeles, the spiritual home of fitness. It’s a chance to catch up with True Performance Nutrition, the company for which I am an ambassador. That trip should be good for the contest preparation.

Secondly, and less good for the contest, but something I have to do (nay, want to do) is the Dublin Marathon. This is just six days before the Pure Elite. I’m running to raise money for a very poorly little girl who lives near us – please read the story and perhaps offer a few quid on www.bitly.com/chris4esme – I haven’t really worked out the likely effects on my stage presence of expanding my cardio that day into a 26 mile trip, except to say that I think I may give the E workout a miss for a few days after! I definitely think marathon day will be a significant carb re-load day, and I will need to drop lots of carbs in the few days between the run and the contest.

So – two and a bit weeks to show time. Dan and I will be as ready as we can be, we will be cheered on by the manic supporters that are my wife Jenny, and Liz – Dan’s girlfriend – plus others from Dan’s family. We plan to do the best for ourselves, our good ladies and our families. And I want my ninth event to be my best ever!

The countdown has begun…

It’s now seven weeks until my next appearance on the contest stage, and Stage 1 of my pre-event preparation has been under way for a week.   Hang on, I hear you cry (almost), I thought you had retired from competition earlier this year, Chris?  So what’s afoot?

Indeed it’s true that I declared after my contest appearances in April that my on-stage competition days were over.  After all, I had just won the Miami Pro World Championship for my age group (the over 50’s), for both Muscle Model and Fitness Model, so it did rather seem like a good time to retire.  I had achieved one place better than the same event last year, so the progression of runner-up to winner to retirement sounded pretty logical to me.

But then, in May, I met young Dan Wynes and his girlfriend Liz.  Dan knew of my story, and he asked if I would act as his fitness mentor.  I agreed, but only on the condition that he set himself a real and specific target – entering a fitness modelling contest similar to the ones I had done.  The Pure Elite contest was chosen because the date of the event, 2 November, was then about 6 months in advance of that initial meeting between Dan, Liz and me.

Chris meets Dan at BodyPower 2014

Chris meets Dan at BodyPower 2014

It was then Dan’s turn to make a condition – he would only enter Pure Elite if I retired from being retired, and entered the event as well.

The conclusion of these mentor/mentee negotiations was therefore that Dan and I will both compete in the event – although in very different age categories – he is 21, after all.

So, that’s how I come to now be following Stage 1 of the preparation for an event that wasn’t on my radar 7 months ago.

This is, I’m sure, going to be a tougher competition than my last ones – a key reason for this is the age categories.  In my last contests, the category age was 50 and over; in Pure Elite, its 45 and over.  So, as I will be entering the stage just a couple of weeks away from turning 58, I’ll be facing competitors up to 13 years younger than me.  You may think that gives me more years of preparation time, but it doesn’t actually work that way, one reason being that I didn’t do any sport or lift weights seriously in the gym room until well past 50.

All of which means I’m going to have to work extra hard to do well on 2 November.  Which I will indeed do, as I relish a challenge.  And I have the bonus of training up to the date together with Dan – while I am mentoring him for these final few weeks, he is also doing his very best to encourage me too (not that I need much encouragement, the truly un-wonderful smell of the spray tan is beckoning to me already).  So yes, darling Jenny, it’s another round of spray tans, body shaves and grumpy carb-light Chris for you to put up with – one more time.

So what are these preparation stages that I mentioned all about, and what constitutes Stage 1?  I’ll explain all in my blog this time next week.

And if you want to follow Dan’s progress for these final few weeks too, check out and subscribe to his blog Danwynesfitness.wordpress.com

Join me at FitFest!

There’s a full day of fitness fun, presentations and discussions coming up in Chelmsford on Sunday 14 September!

The FitFest event is designed for anybody who wants to improve their fitness levels, reduce their fatness levels or a bit of both – whether you’re a total newcomer to fitness or you already know which bit of a dumbbell to hold!

I’ll be there talking about how I changed ‘From Fat to Fit at Fifty’, my presentation is at 12 but I’ll be there all day helping anyone I can.  There are quite a few people that I’ve helped add years to their lives, and life to their years – and I’ll show you how I do it.

Other presentations by top fitness folk including my fellow Ultra-FIT magazine author Paul Mumford and James St Pierre – its at Unique Results 220-221 Waterhouse Business Centre, CM1 2QE – and the fun starts at 10 and goes on until 4 or later –   I hope to see you there!!

New Approved Personal Trainers

As you may know, I am a Personal Trainer offering my services on exercise, nutrition and lifestyle advice to a range of clients.  I do this in person in South Bucks and Central London, and by Skype consultancy sessions elsewhere.

But I can’t be everywhere and available at all times, so to help meet the demand country-wide, I’ve set up a network of other Personal Trainers that I know and trust to deliver a high-quality, client-centred personal training service.  All on this network have the right qualifications and insurance of course, plus they have shown to me their ability to support clients of the age range that I tend to specialise in – my ‘quintastics’, those over 50 in other words!

Very few of these Fitness Over Fifty Approved Personal Trainers are themselves over 50, but they have all shown to me they can work successfully and built a good rapport with the client even if there is an age difference.  But they all work with clients yet to meet the golden half-century mark as well!

Dan squareThe latest additions to the register of Fitness Over Fifty Approved Personal Trainers are Felicity Day in Southampton (below), and Dan Wynes in Telford (right).  Both of these have existing clients, their own fitness experience and knowledge to make them worthy additions to the list of Approved Personal Trainers.   They also bring new locations served, as there were no previous Approved Personal Trainers living either in Shropshire or South Hampshire.

Felicity APT in FOFIf you are looking for some guidance, motivation or inspiration – whether its just a single piece of advice, a weekly training session, or something in-between, and you live near Dan or Felicity, then I suggest you check out their profile and email contacts on www.FitnessOverFifty.co.uk/APT.

Indeed, you can see the full listing and details of Approved Personal Trainers that cover the country from Aberdeen to Devon (sorry Cornwall – and Northern Ireland –  I’m still looking!) by searching on that page.

I know the skills, enthusiasm and dedication of all the trainers listed, and I recommend each of them.

I hope you have a fit-increasing, fat-reducing sunny weekend – whether using a personal trainer or your own motivation!

Meet Dan…

Life has many good feelings. And one is when you help generate interest in others for something that you are passionate about.

Chris meets Dan at BodyPower 2014

Chris meets Dan at BodyPower 2014

This has just happened to me. I met a young guy at a trade show recently and somehow infected him with my enthusiasm both for fitness generally, and more specifically for standing on stage in a Fitness Modelling competition. I’ve been committed to a fitness-focussed life for six years now, and having collected a few championship wins on the way, I know how great a lifestyle this is.

The chap in question – Dan Wynes – was already keen on fitness. Indeed, before I met him he had developed an interest in the teachings, approaches and training strategies of fitness professional Rob Riches. Dan and I have that in common, as Rob was my original personal trainer and is a guy for whom I continue to have massive respect.

A 15-minute chat with me bolstered Dan’s enthusiasm levels. So much so that he decided at the end of our conversation to committing to step up his fitness activities substantially and progressing sufficiently over the next six months and that he would enter his first Fitness Model contest organised by Pure Elite in November. Dan asked me to help in whatever ways I can, and requested that I mentor him right up to the contest date.

Well, I’ve never been a mentor before, indeed I had to check in the dictionary exactly what was involved. However, the combination of me knowing just a bit about the subject, my keenness to pass this knowledge on, and Dan’s desire to learn and put this information into practice, seems to be the perfect recipe for mentoring success. So I accepted, and as a result I will be doing what I can to help him get into the best shape of his life so far. I say ‘so far’, because at age 21 he has many more ‘best shapes’ to come.

The term ‘journey’ is over-used on the fitness world, but I think it’s appropriate for Dan as he plans for the time up to his first contest. I am relishing being his guide for the trip – and I rather suspect that I will learn much from him too as we work together and he heads towards that appointment with the stage.

I am very honoured to be asked, and I will endeavour to repay the trust and confidence Dan has placed in me. I hope Dan finds me a good mentor – but if he slackens at all (which he won’t) he will find me morphing into a tor-mentor instead!

Dan will be blogging his own progress over those months, and I invite you to read and subscribe to his blog on www.DanWynesFitness.wordpress.com – and we’ll both let you know how we get on!

The top question

Chris at Zone Gym 04I’ve heard many times that it’s impossible to add muscle and burn fat at the same time.  But is this correct?

While I agree this is true for any one instant of time (the body can’t do both at exactly the same micro-second), I don’t think its true over a realistic period – such as a month.  In the past month, I’ve been able to add a little muscle and lose fat through my nutritional and training strategies, heading up to my World Championship bid a couple of weeks ago.  Its a combination of nutrition and exercise, so here are my top 10  recommendations to achieve that magic combo – the key things I did in the two months leading up to the contest:

On the nutrition side:

1. Low calories than most but high protein within it (target 40% of calories from protein)
2. Minimal sugar and other fast carbs
3. Lots of green veg to go with the protein sources of meat, fish and eggs plus some whey shakes to up the protein
4. Low saturated fats
5. As much natural food as possible – avoid processed

On the exercise front:

1. Cardio every morning pre-breakfast but post-black coffee or fat-burner
2. Vary the cardio to be either low-moderate resistance on some days, high/low intensity intervals on the other
3. Spend ten minutes on abs straight after the cardio
4. Daily afternoon resistance training, ideally five days per week, on a bodypart-split basis – ensuring the same bodypart isn’t trained on consecutive days
5. Ensure there’s two days off per week from resistance training – you can do the cardio and abs on those days of course

If you want to go the extra mile, you may want to think about supplementation – I used BCAA’s, Creatine and a morning fat-burner (Ripped) from True Performance Nutrition, the company for whom I am an Ambassador.  That level of detail may not be for everyone, but this next point is – remember that consistency is important; you won’t be able to stick to all of those 10 points every day – but the more days you do, the better and more likely you are to succeed.

Does it work?  I’ve measured the results on myself measured through reducing body-fat percentage measured by my scales, and increasing weights numbers in the gym.  To me, getting results on both of these over two month counts as doing both at the same time, so yes – I’d say it can be done!

Have a great, fat-losing, muscle-building weekend!

I want to tell you a story…

Well, its not any story, its actually my story.

I’ve created a article for a Los Angeles-based web site called MyFitTribe, as they were keen to tell the world about an obscure 57 year old Englishman that they know.

Depending on how well you know me, and how many of those nearly three-score years  I’ve spent in your company, you may already know some of the info in the article.  Whether its all new or not, I hope its of interest.


My thanks, of course, to MyFItTribe for asking me to do this.

Enjoy the article, any questions or comments as always, please, to Chris@FitnessOverFifty.co.uk

I’ll be back with more blogging next Friday (probably…).  And, as usual, have a healthy and fit sunny weekend!