Saturday, 10 August 2013

Buying The Cow

Wedding season in South Africa is upon us, which means the rest of us who have not quite made it down the isle, are surrounded by brides and grooms to-be, who are breathing fire and spitting venom in every last effort not to tap out on their big day.

High up on their list of 'wedding wants' is the chassis to pull off that bridal gown and tailor made tux.  Before I continue I must throw it out there, that if you are in fact only now turning your attention to getting in shape, you deserve to have buttons popping on your big day.

Health, strength, fitness and nutrition should have been a part of your life long before you decided to take the plunge.  However, topping up your already thriving physique pre-wedding with some extra sessions in the gym and adding a sprinkle of caution to your time in the kitchen is critical.

Firstly there are three things I base my opinion of health on: sleep, sex and appetite. All three go hand in hand with a successful wedding day.  If any of these areas are not working at optimal levels there is reason for concern.  Your big day is around the corner, there are a million things to do but don't fall short on getting a solid 8 hours sleep at night, eating nutrient dense food and making time to refuel, re energize, and stay on top of your game.

Nobody wants a tired newlywed with no libido.  Honeymoon fail of epic proportions.

Your nutrition is the key to the physique you desire.  Rather choose a banging body as the focal point of your day over the linen you drape it with.  Adjusting your eating styles and cutting the crap, will make the world of difference.  If your food comes in a wrapper it should be going nowhere near your body, remove the processed foods, bin the grains and white refined carbohydrates and eliminate the sugars.  These minor alterations are what is going to get you a good nights sleep, an improved appetite and pound shedding like an X-15 rocket powered aircraft.

When it comes to putting in the hours at the gym, try to focus more on not losing the "weight" but targeting your body fat.  Lifting hard and combining this with some solid conditioning is going to lose you more fat and inches than weight, gaining muscle mass is the key to burning off calories and a mix of weights and cardio is going to send your body in the right direction for those pre-wedding fittings.

Try and get yourself at least 7 hours sleep at night because HGH and testosterone thrive during your sleep cycles, all the healthy eating, exercise and supplementation in the world is not going to help if you do not sleep and control your stress levels.

Shifting your habits pre wedding will not only favor your nuptial apparel but boost your cupidity and reinforce your desire to be fit, healthy and strong, everyday not just on your wedding day.

Sunday, 04 August 2013

Tea with Jenna Limerick

When the name Jenna Limerick springs to mind, we think sexy fitness model, pin-up, athlete, cover girl, and competitor.  Who is this girl who has captivated so many people with her striking beauty and athletic ability?

Jenna came to me in October 2012 eager to develop her strength, rehabilitate her injuries and make some crucial changes both physically and mentally.

Training Jenna allowed me the opportunity to get to know this esteemed model on a personal level, her weaknesses, her strengths and her vibrant personality.  This fiery girl next door has achieved her titles and her long list of physical accomplishments through brutal hard work, determination and her relentless attitude to reaching her goals.  Training Jenna also meant delving into her past to uncover where she had come from, what she had experienced and how to move forward with her physical potential and attitude that is set forth today.

This awe inspiring girl made time for tea, to give us some insight into what the world of modelling and fitness training truly meant for her and how she has battled some of the biggest hurdles of her life.

Fitness has always been a part of Jenna's world in some way or another.  Having started dancing at the age of 4 and successfully playing most sports at a provincial level she knew that the world of sport and fitness was her calling.  Starting out as a personal trainer at Virgin Active at 19 years old she was immediately surrounded by professionals in the field of training, where she was recognized for her perfect symmetry, muscle balance and natural beauty.  Jenna was approached by Chris Scott, one of our countries most respected bodybuilding experts and with this came an offer from one of our biggest muscle building authorities 'Muscle Science'.

After just a few short months under Chris's guidance, Jenna was asked to hit the stage.  Not knowing anything about the modelling world and what it entailed, having never even seen a show, she dove into it head first.  After the customary first spray tan and a couple borrowed bikini's later, she stood back stage about to face something she had yet to even witness.  Cherie Loomes (Ex Miss Universe) gave her a quick 'how to' backstage and Jenna walked on and faced the light.

Jen a complete amateur, at only 19 years old, with no previous experience, knowledge and a couple months training was completely elated when they called her name as winner of NABBA Miss Bikini South Africa.  An indescribable feeling she says, that moment had changed her life course completely. Utterly in love with the feeling of triumph and achievement.

Gracing the pages of FHM, Fitness mag, Shape, Woman's Health and Muscle Evolution, seeing the rise to fame so unexpectedly meant that this 'new' world was so much bigger than she ever expected and was instantaneously hooked on her new found career and passion in life.

With the fame came the recognition internationally from people from all walks of life, Jenna was inspiring girls who like the majority of society today, believed that skinny is beautiful. Jenna changed that image for many young people and used her epitome to help those with eating disorders and self esteem issues.  This impacted her in a huge way and made this her calling in life.

It goes without saying that with the highs, came the lows.  Devoting her every last minute to her training and diet meant missing out on the 'life of a 20 year old' many friends had drifted as Jen isolated her life.  Those close to her not being able to understand her devoutness quickly left.  In this, she learnt that if those who were not supportive of her passion then, were just not worth keeping around, as this was her life, this was her ecstasy.

2010 bought some dark times as she struggled with her diet, and her bodies reaction to the amount of stress from training was prevalent.  Jen followed the ketogenic diet, however along with some bad advice her approach to the diet only aided her in destroying her body.  Living on hake, egg whites, broccoli and the occasional nut lead to her demise.  She had reached a point where she began to struggle with memory loss, lack of energy and weight maintenance.  Every show was a nightmare and with the return to a normal diet, Jenna's weight was on the increase, and escalated by 16kgs quickly.  However with each mistake came a new beginning, these lessons have enabled her to better herself, after a year of self discouragement and lack of ownership of her body, Jenna rose again.

Winning NABBA Miss Bikini SA 2011 and then placing 6th at World Champs Jen was back on track.

However no sooner was she back on stage, did her past came back to haunt her. Spending 6 hours a day in the gym under heavy load took a toll on her legs, pushing through the agony, like the soldier she is, she slowly put herself at greater risk. Experiencing excruciating pain from her knees down for months on end, still she kept on. Jen later learnt she had developed compartment syndrome in both her legs meaning that the muscle in her calves had grown too much for the fascia surrounding it, cutting off circulation from her feet, in the fear of losing her limbs she finally went under the knife.

Spending months in a wheelchair and having to eventually learn to walk again put her under immense mental strain.  Going from world stage to bed bound can be disheartening to say the least, with her evident fall from stage due to surgery came weight gain and then came the judgement from the industry itself, the lack of belief in her recovery and return to the stage grew, so much so that leaving the house without criticism of her weight and scarring was brutal.  Jen is an incredibly strong girl emotionally, and watching her rise again, witnessing her channel her negative energy into her rediscovery was inspiring, everyday she faught her demons.

Jen came to me shortly after she began her rehabilitation, where we focused her training on ligament and joint strength development through body weight training.  Together we literally started from scratch and began to rebuild her body. With each day came set backs and with each set back came a call for a bigger come back.

Today 18 months later, Jenna proudly says she is currently in the best place in her life.  Following a balanced diet, spending 5 days a week under my watchful eye and making strength gains she once only dreamt of. Now 24 years old, with still so much to offer the industry and the stage, along with her international sponsor OLIMP (a lifelong dream) she is ready to step up again.

I quote "When I step on stage again, I will have a totally changed physique, changed for the better, close to show time I will hone in on my nutrition, I am still so young and still have so much left inside me, I am more determined than ever.  I am back"

Watch this space.

I am fortunate enough to call Jenna my client and extremely lucky to have her under my wing, hearing her say
that my training has changed her life, whilst humbled by her heroic nature, is a compliment of great measure.

Jenna's story proves that failure can lead to your greatest conquests have you the will and determination to rise after you fall.

Jenna Limerick

NABBA Miss Bikini SA 2009
NABBA Miss Bikini SA 2011
6th Place World Champs 2011

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Interview with Valery Fedorenko

There is this excitement churning inside me as I patiently await the arrival of one of the worlds great kettlebell athletes.  August this year we have the honor of learning from Valery Fedorenko of the WKC.  Valery is from the former USSR and is a champion kettlebell lifter, still holding records after more than 20 years. Valery no longer competes today but remains in impeccable condition using his training through kettlebells and now dedicates his life to bringing that information to teachers and athletes around the world promoting health, strength and longevity.  He was an early subject of Soviet Sports science and was the first athlete to bring his kettlebell expertise and methodologies to the public.

I was fortunate enough to have him make time for some insight into his training, his teachings and his ideologies surrounding kettlebell lifting.

This is what Valery had to share:

Valery you are the ambassador to kettlebell lifting, having come from such humble beginnings to global status, how did this journey all begin for you and who was it that influenced the growth of a world renown record holder?

Before I even came to the US I was drawn to kettlebell lifting at a young age, and I took up kettlebell training when I was 12 years old.  I cant say that it was one person in particular that influenced me, but I was greatly affected by attending a competition when I was still a boy.

Kettlebell lifting generally does not require huge muscles but huge reps, and it was this that shocked me when I first saw a skinny guy lift the bells in a competition and yet he still managed some 40-50 reps.  That was when I learnt you can be skinny and still surprise people.  I didn't want to worry about getting huge muscles,  I was more interested in the results, how many reps I could get with the 32kg bells.  Even now, I always like it when people have low expectations, and the athlete surprises people with their achievements.  Big guys such as body builders, with their impressive bodies, will always attract huge expectations from the public.  People expect results from such big muscles.  I was never a heavyweight, just 75kgs when I was competing.

Breaking and setting a new world record in the 80kgs men's jerk/snatch before you had reached adulthood shines brightly on your discipline and dedication as a young man, what advice could you give the youth of today to follow in your footsteps of pro-athleticism?

People are always asking me how old should a youth be when they start lifting.  You can start very young, as long as you use an appropriate bell weight.  Kettlebell lifting is about reps, just as the whole of everyday life is focused on reps.  Doesn't matter if bell is heavy or light, because everyone has different genetics, it only matters that you work to the best of your capacity.  I achieved MS (Master of Sport) at 17 years old, but some lifters maybe achieved it at 15 even.  If you go into the military at 18 you are already considered a man, and able to fight.  So I never saw 19-20 year old as so young for a world record, you're a man already.

This simple advice I always offer:  Don't be afraid, start early, get your results early.  I got WCMS (World class master of sport) at the age of 19.  If you start at 10-12 years old to train seriously, then as you turn 15-16 you will already be strong mentally, and as your body is growing, you will see results.  By 18-19 your body is almost full grown.  At 17 I weighted 69kg and was 183cm tall.  At 19 I wasn't any taller, just weighed 5kg heavier, my growing was all done.
The second piece of advice is to be stable.  When you are maybe 16-18 you are often more interested in clubs, dancing, drinking etc.  I would say get a focus, and enjoy your results rather than the nightclub.

Not only are you an inspiring kettlebell lifter but you also have remarkable results in the world of powerlifting, particularly the deadlift, considering your focus lies in girevoy sport.  How does the strength and conditioning of lifting kettlebells carry over to other aspects of lifting?

When I achieved deadlift of 200kg, and MS in powerlifting, also MS in squat 200kg, I didn't really train specifically for these, just in kettlebell swing, snatch and jerk.  To get stronger you just need to go for high speed with lighter kettlebll.  Kettlebell lifting is both strength and endurance, not just one.  This means that kettlebell lifters can work with weights well, but we can run marathons too, we can go for absolute strength or absolute endurance.  Typically our work capacity is much greater, compared to other types of lifting, and kettlebell lifters are more equipped for everyday life.

Kettlebell lifting offers plenty of different challenges, and the requirement to execute many reps.  Its not about 5 or 10 sets of 10, its 1 set of 100, that's the principle.  With any exercise, we try to handle kettlebells for 10, 20, or 30 minutes and aim for longer sets.

As a lifter, a teacher and an influential coach what do you believe it takes to be a great kettlebell instructor?

Over the last few years I have instructed many trainers to become coaches, but sadly not all of them became good instructors.  I teach them what matters, but not so many work at it, and study further.  A great coach needs to demonstrate a good level of lifting, they don't necessarily need to achieve a high level and rank, but excellent technique with a light bell.  They need the skill to be a good motivator, demonstrate good technique and deliver information and principles.

A bad instructor wants to listen to many different lifters then make own opinion, but without a strong background of learning and being corrected he will make mistakes, and will send his own students in a wrong direction, or indeed hold them back.  A good coach has first been an attentive student.

People around the world have turned to kettlebell lifting to improve their levels of athleticism, both professional athletes from all degrees of sport to the average grey man in the street looking for strength and conditioning.  What would you say makes them different from other resistance training methods?

Principles are what make us unique.  Not so many other methods of training look to do 100s or 1000s of reps.  This high number of reps makes for a different level of conditioning.  Other training methods ask the student to just do 20 reps, or maybe as few as 2-3 reps, but conditioned kettlebell lifter can do 10 000 reps.

Your work now lies in education for trainers and lifters around the world, will we be seeing you competing again at all in the future?

I think it is better If I keep coaching people because if I compete again, people get nothing, it would just be "look at me how good I am" and that has already been done, there is no need to repeat that, but also to compete there has to be a fire inside, it requires intense and difficult training, 12 times per week, its a serious deal, which would stop me coaching and pursuing my business with the WKC.  This wouldn't help my students.  I don't have so much fire inside now, no need to prove anything.  I'm not too old yet, and I reckon I could do it if I wanted to, but you have to want to do that.

Thank you for your insight into the world of kettlebell lifting, I look forward to learning from your expertise.

Valery Fedorenko will be hosting a workshop and a one day coaches certification at Flux Motion on the 11th August 2013.

Please get in touch with Sean Temple for details at 

Monday, 15 July 2013

Lord of the thighs

Ladies, lets take a minute to separate the bullshit from the actuality. Nine out of ten woman are unhappy with their physiques, more importantly we are dismal about the current state of our legs.

As a trainer, day in and day out, I am confronted with the challenge of "shape shifting the shanks" our limbs are either too big, too bulky, too shapeless or just too damn skinny.

The men will agree with me here, woman are hard to please.  Try tell a woman that in order to make a positive physical change, they need to at least fondle the idea of lifting weights.

The majority of us will admit that shapely, strong legs are the way forward, the quest for the enticing ITC (Inner thigh clearance) is ongoing with the female of the species.  To the woman who conflict this idea, to those who choose that shapeless, soft, asymmetrical, nebulous thighs are your calling then this blog is not for you.

The mutual element amongst South African woman is bulky legs, for some reason this seems to be a common factor.  This article is not about nutrition which will account for 80% of your change, this is about how to make the switch in your training.  Hefty legs are a result of numerous things, genetics, diet and estrogen retention.  These influences may be the cause, but that does not mean we cannot adjust the outcomes.

80% of the woman I have worked with lack leg development, where we need to acknowledge that lower body training can have a dramatic effect on our overall physiques.  Power is driven from the ground up.

Its time to step off the elliptical and test our bodies if we want to see a difference. Awaken the biggest muscle groups in your body, shape them, build them and embrace them.  Your progress will only lie in overcoming the hard times.  Hard times involve compound exercises, that recruit big muscles, in order to make big changes.

Running on the treadmill for 40 minutes and coupling that with a some step ups, high kicks and the formidable yes-no machine is going to get you that ITC like a glass of sand will get you hydrated.

Big exercises give big results.

Girls do not be intimidated by barbell squats, deadlifts and heavy lunges.  These bad boys of the gym room are what will get your legs screaming for a pair of hot pants. Including these big lifts into your training, and adding some high intensity conditioning in the form of hill sprints, stair sprints or sled pushing will not only build lean muscle but strip fat faster than you can say "lifting big makes me bulky"

In no way I am suggesting you load up that barbell and attack it with reckless abandon, start small, find yourself a legitimate coach and test your limits safely.  Deadlifting heavy kettlebells in a low rep range is a great start, as is with your squats, lunges and their assistance exercises, build up and advance with guidance. Your progress lies in improved capacity for intensity, your neural drive and nervous system adaptation and of course the increased workload.

Replace your fear of the unknown with curiosity and get in touch with some of these great trainers who will get you ladies ravishing, statuesque, and lifting:

Cape Town:

David Cross of Evo Fitness
Kelly Dessington of Progressive Edge


Scott MacIntosh of The Yard Athletic


Yours truly, drop me a mail on
Terence Mitchell of Mitchell Strength on

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Chew The Fat

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend Professor Tim Noake's seminar in Durban.  As much as we have read, researched and heard about the Prof's philosophies it was a privilege to hear him speak.  Now I think we are all in agreement with the fact that his findings have caused some major controversy in the nutritional world.

How could high fat and high protein possibly render fat loss?

Those of you who know me and my way of thinking with regards to kicking the food pyramid out the window, know that my philosophies surrounding nutrition correspond in many areas.  Tim Noakes has highlighted countless flaws in today's beliefs and I think there is something for everyone to take from it.

We are all very different and no cookie cutter advice can be applied to us all successfully, however there are demons lying amongst our favorite foods that should be eliminated from our diets whether we are prone to weight gain or not.

The Prof prescribes and endorses a grain free, fruit free, protein and high fat diet for weight loss based on his findings. Research it you will be gobsmacked.  There are many alternate doctrines out there and they are all based on some good knowledge, it is up to you to decide where to apply it.

In my opinion any professional who disagrees with the basics and encourages a diet of fruit and low fat eating should be smacked in the face with a pineapple. Unfortunately I have seen too many of my friends and clients bring home expensive eating plans built by "diet professionals" littered with processed food recommendations.  Professionals who charge real cash money for their "educated" advice.

The likes of "fat free" "low fat" dairy, or processed carbohydrates in the forms of cereals or "muesli" should be eliminated from everyones diets not just those struggling with weight management.  The toxic chemicals added to foods to make them "free" or "low" are detrimental to us all.  Sugar is in no way a healthy element to our diets in whatever size, shape or form.  Replacing your sugar with sweetener is not moderating the addiction, and replacing your chocolate afternoon snack with a fruit salad is no wiser.  Fruit contains fructose (natures sugar) still spiking your insulin levels, still causing the same disability to weight gain that the chocolate bar was.

Another phenomenon of today's "experts" is the insistence to encourage grains, whole grains, wheat filled wraps and breads, and every other form of insulin spiking mediocrity that should never be put near the human body.  Natures hellions provoke imbalances in our hormones and taxing of the digestive system, alongside a string of carcinogenic chemical properties these crops thrive on.  Grains should be eliminated based on this alone.

I say eliminate grains, eliminate sugar, and bin the white and processed carbohydrates.  Thrive on protein and tasty healthy fats for optimal living.

Take what you can from the professionals, eat from the earth and live vigorously through the foods that fuel you.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Taking back control

Every day the proverbial "I cant" rushes to our lips based on some notion that something else is more important than our health.  One hundred daily tasks make it to the top of our "to do" lists, over taking care of ourselves, quickly forgetting that without our health the trivials become obsolete.

We seem to bound ourselves to impossibilities, restrictions and diminutive burdens leaving us settling for average.  We are quick to accept mediocre as part of our lives.  Fitness, strength and athleticism may not be the first priority for everyone, but surely health, vitality and well-being are right up front.  In this case you cannot have one without the other.  

Overweight? tired? weak? unfit? Everybody wants to be in shape, but nobody is willing to work for it, nobody is willing to act.  Wake up, man up, and take back your life.

Nobody cares where you want to be if you not willing to commit to getting there.  In this modern day world everybody seems to be "too busy" to take the time out to exercise, "too busy" to whip up a healthy meal, and "too busy" to commit to anything, but never "too busy" to watch the next episode of Greys Anatomy, or "too busy" to stop at the drive thru window and pick up their 2000 calorie heart attack.

Not only have you settled for less but you have embraced it.  Why is it so prevalent in our society to see a goal but not attack it, we give up before we have even started and without even acknowledging the limits we place on ourselves.

The only thing standing in your way of achieving your goals is you.  Not your busy schedule, 2.5 children or old high school injury.  These excuses are created and controlled by only you,  you allow these rationalizations to justify your unfit, out of shape self.

Do not be affected by the world around you, you need to strive to effect the world, your world.  

Here is my advice.  Take back control of your life.

Own your shortfalls, there is no moving forward without accepting what has set you back.  Do not pass blame, do not point fingers and do not allow excuses to control your journey.  Take responsibility, your body is the one thing you will always have, the one thing that is owned and piloted exclusively by you.  Take care of it. 

Healthy eating is not rocket science.  What you put in, is what you get out.  I cant say I have met anyone who wants and chooses to be an oily, fatty, hyperactive alcoholic.  Doing one million ab crunches, and grunting like a troll for two hours on the pec dec is not going to out train your burger buns and sloppy joes.

Train and eat like your life depends on it,  because it does.

Muhammad Ali hated every minute of training but he said "Don't quit, suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion"

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Building Men on Jungle Gyms

I recently read an article on whether or not bodyweight training is effective for building muscle.  I have heard this time and time again, I have been hammered, battled and disputed on this very subject.

Besides science proving that it does, besides the hundreds of Internet based blogs and millions of books by some of the top strength coaches in the world recommending it, besides the genuine blatant truth of it. I have tried and tested it.

I have been a contender of the bar for a few years now and have turned boys into men using their bodies as their gyms.  Facing the ground with nothing but your own weight is perceived by many as child's play, until they thrown into challenging push ups and pull ups like its day one at military base.

Bodyweight training is an effective muscle builder, if you know what you doing, or your coach knows what they doing.  A fly by night trainer dishing out ugly pull ups and thousands of push ups with no knowledge of programming and progression is just going to waste your training time and money.

I don't care if you can do 40 chin ups and 100 push ups, if you want to hit those muscle fibres with the most growth potential and gain size and strength you need the correct loading and tension.

Military push ups become easy, your body adapts to the stress and you are no longer challenging your body - you are no longer gaining in strength or size.  You need to present a new challenge. What most don't realize is that bodyweight training is tough and demanding as hell.  It is much easier to walk into a gym and move from a 40kg dumbbell to a 45kg weight to progress those rows than it is to go from a push up, to a pike to a handstand push up.  These methodologies require patience and discipline.

Strength training whether under the barbell or hanging from the bar demands intelligent training, it requires programming based on rep manipulation, resistance, force, progressive loading etc, not a coach barking orders for random reps and obscure exercise combinations.

Do not be afraid to put the weight down and challenge the bars in fear of losing hard gained muscle, this method of training will keep you strong and add significant mass to your size with correct training and guidance.  Do not be afraid of only using this style of training to reach your physical goals - the gains speak for themselves

Bodyweight training builds strong lean muscle, it is healthy on the joints, it allows for a full range of motion and can be performed everyday.

I have clients that have spent their lives weight lifting and are tending the bars with lifting induced injuries, with every rep and every set, their ligament, tendon and joint strength has improved and that carry over to the weight room has been remarkable.

Bodyweight training is personally my preferred method of building strength, endurance and size. Don't get me wrong, I love the pathos of lifting a heavy weighted barbell, there is possibly nothing more empowering than the feeling of moving something over twice your bodyweight off the ground, but the challenge of bodyweight training stimulates your mind.  That feeling of achieving a movement that has taken months to perfect, facing a fear and developing the strength to get you there.  That moment, that feeling, that achievement is momentous and pivotal.

At the end of the day combining the two methodologies for building muscle and size is in my views thee most effective.

Does bodyweight training build muscle?  Hell yes