Category Archives: training

Programming for Powerlifting


Charlie Shotton-Gale, Multiple British Champion, World ranked 6

There have been a lot of programs popularised in the media from a simple linear progressive program to the 5/3/1 (8) and Eastern European programs.

If you are training for your first ever competition, or indeed if you are just entering in to a pure strength training program, you will want to keep it simple and consistent.

Focusing on the ‘big 3’, which includes the back squat, the bench press and the deadlift, is key, as  would be starting light and working on your technique before you begin to add load in the form of weight to the bar.      

Developing a good technique is the most important aspect to a beginners lifting career, and this may take up most of their initial few weeks of training before they can add loads (weights) (1, 2). Working solely with a wooden or plastic technique pole developing movement patterns so that the neuromuscular system can familiarise itself has been shown to have immense amounts of benefits to novice lifters when they start to add load to their movements (1).

Keeping to a simple linear progression can be the most effective manner of allowing the body to adapt successfully when increasing load over time. This can be in the form of a 12 week structured load progression and volume (sets x reps)  reduction, such as 4 weeks of 5 sets of 5 repetitions (REPS) on each exercise, separating the week in to a squat day, bench day and deadlift day. This would be reduced to 3 sets of 3 reps per exercise for 4 weeks and completed by 3 sets of 2/1 for 3 weeks.

linear program

This last 3 weeks is termed ‘tapering’ and is used when loads of near maximum are being lifted to ensure recovery is optimal for the muscles, the neuromuscular system and the central nervous system. (3, 4).

During a tapering phase, you will also start removing any auxiliary, or assistance, work you were doing to enhance the movement and ensure the body receives the recovery it  needs.

Once the tapering phase is complete, a rest period of between 2-5 days is necessary before competing. This will ensure that any small aches and pains receive time to heal, and will allow your body to regenerate in time for maximum effort (4).


Dean Bowring, GB Powerlifting, World Champion 2010

On competition day, a minimum amount of work is required to ensure the balance of muscular readiness is achieved but fatigue levels are not detrimentally increased.

Proficient coaches will ensure their athletes are warmed up thoroughly but not fatiguing, and are physiologically and psychologically ready to perform at their maximum.

Strength athletes that have been training and/or competing for at least 1 year may find they need to start altering their basic progression and begin another effective yet simple program such as the 5/3/1 (8). This program bases its progressions over 4 weeks i.e. 1 week of 3 sets of 5 reps (3×5) on each exercise, followed by 1 week of 3×3 then a week of 1 x 5/3/1. This is followed by a lighter ‘de load’ week of 3×5. The entire program is based on percentages and is easy for intermediate lifters to follow.

This program also finishes with a tapering week before competitions, as do all programs to ensure there is ample rest and recovery before you attempt to lift the maximum your body can.

Eastern European programs have become very popular for elite and long standing lifters because they consist of high volume multi lift structures that train each exercise several times a week. Such programs include Smolov (7), Sheiko (6) and the Bulgarian weightlifting program that has been adapted for powerlifting.

These programs follow an undulating progressive nature, training each exercise every training  session under various loads and volumes often utilising high volume low weight technique work alongside low volume high load force development before the program alters in exercises used after 3-6 weeks, depending on the program.

These programs are only recommended for those who have been regularly training and competing for over 2 years as the strain on the muscles and neuromuscular system is immense.

For lifters who have been training and/or competing for under a year focusing on simple progressive programs that develop good technique is the most recommended protocol. Once a lifter has developed their techniques and ability, moving on to a still simple but more varied program can enhance the progress the lifters achieve in their competition weights.

Finally, for very experienced lifters it is recommended that high volume varied lifting programs are adopted, such as the Eastern European powerlifting programs (6, 7.) or Western European programs such as the Norweigan Powerlifting Program and Synthesised Training System.

If you would like to download this article, please click on the link below:

Programming for Powerlifting


  1. Baechle, T.R., Earle, R.W., & Wathen, D. (2008). Resistance training. In T.R. Baechle & R.W. Earle (Ed.), Essentials of Strength & Conditioning (3rd ed.). (pp. 381412). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
  2. Häkkinen K. Neuromuscular and hormonal adaptations during strength and power training. A review. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 1989 Mar;29(1) 9-26. PubMed PMID: 2671501.
  3. Israetel, M (2014). Peaking for Powerlifting. Found at:
  4. Pyne, D., Mujika, I. & Reilly, T. (2009).  Peaking for optimal performance: Research limitations and future directions. Journal of Sports Sciences.  Volume 27, Issue 3, 2009, pages 195- 202. DOI: 10.1080/02640410802509136
  5. Rippetoe, M., Kilgore, L. & Pendlay, G. (2008). Practical Programming for Strength Training. Found at:
  6. Sheiko, B. (2014). Found at:
  7. Smolov, S.  Found at:
  8. Wendler, J.  (2009).  Found at:

Keep Lifting!

SG Fitness




Why Squat?

The squat exercise has been used by Sports professionals and leisurely athletes for decades and has been shown to be a very effective mechanism for developing muscle strength, size and tone.  But why should you do it? What if you have a bad back, knees or ankles, should you still attempt to squat?  What type of squat should you do?

This short article should help to answer some of those questions.

What is The Squat?

The squat is where a person bends their knees and hips to lower their upper body without bending over – as seen in the video.
You can squat with no weight at all (Body Weight), with a barbell (Barbell Squat), or with weights in your hands such as Kettlebell or Dumbbell squat’s.

The Squat strengthens leg and buttock (Caterisano et al., 2002. Schoenfeld, 2010) muscles and can enhance knee stability and in healthy individuals.  This means that the Squat exercise is using all your leg and bum muscles to work, making them stronger with better tone and shape.  It also means that if you have healthy knees, keeping your squats to a depth of parallel (which is where the hips are lowered to equal height of the knee), the pressure through the knees shouldn’t cause any damage (Escamilla, 2001. Fry, Smith, & Schilling, 2003).

But what if you have had a knee injury? Esamilla (2001) shows that squatting to a knee rang of 50 degree bend can still help to develop the leg muscles without putting pressure on the knee.

This could be a simple act of sitting on a dinning room chair and standing up again, repeatedly over a number of weeks until you are comfortable with the movement through your knees.

How can I learn how to Squat?

The best way to learn to squat is:

  1. Hire a professional to teach you
  2. Watch the videos on this post over and over again, film yourself over and over again until you are happy what you are doing is what you are seeing here!

The second option, granted, is slightly more risky then the first however it is cheaper and you might get a terrible professional who teaches you wrong anyway!

If you are going to learn how to squat make sure you follow these rules:

  1. if you do hire a professional, make sure you get them to show you how they squat and make sure it is like a video you see here.
  2. If you are going to learn alone, don’t just be the only one watching you, get others to watch the videos here and watch you to compare.

What about my back? Isn’t squatting bad for a back?

If you have never squatted before, or are still learning, read this section carefully.
A Rounded back will incur greatest amount of pressure on the lower back due to smaller amounts of back muscles being recruited (Holmes, Damaser, & Lehman, 1992, (Delitto, Rose, & Apts, 1987).  This means that if you do not keep your back muscle ‘tight’ and ‘engaged’ they will not help with the movement, which will cause your back to ‘round’ and increase the amount of forces being sent through your spinal column.  The great news is this is easily fixed and once corrected prevents almost all lower back pressure when squatting for healthy individuals.

A Narrow stance will increase lower back strain due to pelvic movement at deep squats (Chiu, Comfort).  You can see in the picture someone doing a narrow stance (feet hip width apart) and a wide stance (feet wider then hip width).  The narrow stance will increase the strain on the lower back when squatting because the structure of the pelvis is that if the thigh bones are closer together the pelvis struggles to stay still and so has to move backwards, causing strain on the entire lower back.

However, if the feet are wider and the toes are pointing outwards (like your hands when you were taught to drive, at ’10 and 2’) then they thigh bones don’t get in the way of the pelvis allowing it to stay in a neutral alignment with the spine whilst still developing the leg muscles, regardless of stance (Swinton, Chiu, Comfort, Acaw, signorile).

The distribution of forces through the knee and hip depend on how far the knees travel in front of the toes during squat. Knees forward means there are more forces going through the knee (weightlifting style squat).  However, if the knees stay still and hips move back this means more hip and lower back forces are experienced (powerlifting style squat). (Fry, Smith, & Schilling, 2003).


Wretenberg, Feng, & Arborelius (1996) demonstrated this difference by studying weightlifting style ‘high bar’ vs powerlifting style ‘low bar’ squat and showed the the powerlifting squat put more emphasis on the hips, whereas weightlifters had a load distribution that was more even between the hip and knees.
The Squat can also enhance ankle strength, however if you see the knees collapsing together whilst squatting it could be due to poor ankle flexibility (Shaub).  This can be remedied by sitting back in squat (powerlifting style squat) which can also activate the bum muscles (Gluteals) more and reduce need for ankle flexibility by keeping lower leg upright. (Chiu, 2009).



What is the difference between weightlifting and powerlifting squats?

Here is a video, I’m not that great at weightlifting squats however the bar is higher on my shoulders and my body is more upright at the bottom of the squat.  The powerlifting squat means the bar is lower on my back and I lean forward more.

Notice that my spine stays straight throughout and my hips move only minimally.

What sort of squats are there?

2 Foot Squats (Bilateral)

Weightlifting ‘high bar squat’

Powerlifting ‘low bar’ Squat

Front Squat

Overhead Squat

Kettlebell/Dumbell squat

Single leg squats (Unilateral)

Split Squats

Bulgarian Squats/ Rear Foot Elevated Squats


Caterisano, A., Moss, R. E., Pellinger, T. K., Woodruff, K., Lewis, V. C., Booth, W., & Khadra, T. (2002). The Effect of Back Squat Depth on the EMG Activity of 4 Superficial Hip and Thigh Muscles. Journal of Strength, 16(3), 428–432.

Chiu, L. Z. F. (2009). Sitting Back in the Squat. Journal, 31(6), 25–27. doi:10.1519/SSC.0b013e3181bb397c

Comfort, P. Ms., & Kasim, P. (2007). Optimizing Squat Technique. Journal, 29(6), 10–13.

Delitto, R. S., Rose, S. J., & Apts, D. W. (1987). Electromyographic Analysis of Two Techniques for Squat Lifting. Physical Therapy, 67(9), 1329–1334.

Escamilla, R. F. (2001). Knee biomechanics of the dynamic squat exercise. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 33(1), 127–141.

Fry, A. C., Smith, J. C., & Schilling, B. K. (2003). Effect of Knee Position on Hip and Knee Torques During the Barbell Squat. Journal of Strength, 17(4), 629–633.

Full Text PDF. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Holmes, J. A. M., Damaser, M. S. B., & Lehman, S. L. (1992). Erector Spinae Activation and Movement Dynamics About the Lumbar Spine in Lordotic and Kyphotic Squat-Lifting. Spine, 17(3), 327–334.

McCAW, S. T., & Melrose, D. R. (1999). Stance width and bar load effects on leg muscle activity during the parallel squat.  [Miscellaneous Article]. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 31(3), 428–436.

Schaub, P. A., & Worrell, T. W. (1995). EMG activity of six muscles and VMO: VL ratio determination during a maximal squat exercise. J Sport Rehabil, 4, 195-202.)

Schoenfeld, B. J. (2010). Squatting Kinematics and Kinetics and Their Application to Exercise Performance: Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(12), 3497–3506. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181bac2d7

Signorile, J. F., Kwiatkowski, K., Caruso, J. F., & Robertson, B. (1995). Effect of Foot Position on the Electromyographical Activity of the Superficial Quadriceps Muscles During the Parallel Squat and Knee Extension. Journal of Strength, 9(3), 182–187.

Swinton, P. A., Lloyd, R., Keogh, J. W. L., Agouris, I., & Stewart, A. D. (2012). A Biomechanical Comparison of the Traditional Squat, Powerlifting Squat, and Box Squat. Journal of Strength, 26(7), 1805–1816. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182577067

Wretenberg, P., Feng, Y., & Arborelius, U. P. (1996). High- and low-bar squatting techniques during weight-training: Medicine &amp Science in Sports &amp Exercise, 28(2), 218–224. doi:10.1097/00005768-199602000-00010

Keep Lifting!

SG Fitness



Charlie Shotton-Gale half way through a 1RM attempt in a conventional style Deadlift

Deadlift Seminar at Battleground Fitness UK

SG Fitness hosted an introductory seminar on the Deadlift at Battleground Fitness UK.  For those that attended please see reminder notes below to enhance your learning.

For those that did not attend, have a read and make sure you are there next time to make sure you get the best out of your lifting.

What you wanted to focus on:

  • Technique/Types of Deadlift

We covered various deadlift techniques from conventional, sumo and olympic style first pull deadlift.

Olympic Weightlifter completing his First Pull Deadlift

Olympic Weightlifter completing his First Pull Deadlift

Charlie Shotton-Gale half way through a 1RM attempt in a conventional style Deadlift

Charlie Shotton-Gale half way through a 1RM attempt in a conventional style Deadlift

Pat Constantine completing his Sumo Deadlift

Pat Constantine completing his Sumo Deadlift

  • Types of grip

We discussed the double over hand and alternating grip.

Double overhead is usually used for olympic lifting such as cleans and snatches as they require to catch the bar after the pull, the grip used is usually referred to as ‘Hook Grip’.  Whereas higher weight powerlifting style deadlifts tend to use alternating grips that are stronger.

If you are not training for a Powerlifting or Weightlifting competition it is advised to use straps if you experience grip issues.

  • Warm ups

We discussed a routine of

An example of a warm up routine that will ensure you are ready to perform you maximum weight of that day.

An example of a warm up routine that will ensure you are ready to perform you maximum weight of that day.


What issues you have experienced:

  • How to remove lower back pain

If you are experiencing lower back pain it is likely due to one of 2 issues:

  1. you are rounding your back during the lift and so putting pressure on the lower back in a flexed position
  2. you are leaning too far forward during the lift and so using the hamstrings and back too much rather then utilising the front and core as well.
  • Grip issues

Discussed above.

  • Belt usage

Belts are highly recommended to use when training for high strength deadlifts.  This is because of the intra-abdominal pressure that supports the lumbar section of the spine to enhance the stability of the upper body.  An explanatory paper by Dr Frankel covered the research on using a belt whilst weight training.

What did you want to achieve:

  • Bigger 1 rep max – how to achieve this

By altering techniques throughout the seminar there were 6 personal best’s achieved

A display of each person increase on Personal Best lift.

A display of each person increase on Personal Best lift.

  • Endurance deadlift.

We discussed endurance based deadlift as some participants are entering the ‘Super Human’ contest in which they will be continually deadlifting as a team for 20 minutes.

Recommended to adjust foot stance and hand position during training before they find a technique that is most suited to their body and posture that will reduce back pain and ensure leg movements are used for deadlift above back pulling.

Keep Lifting!

SG Fitness




Olympic lifting, Powerlifting and Crossfit combined bring in new Welsh Records for SGF Client Rachael Armstrong

In October, 2014, I met with novice Powerlifter Rachael Armstrong.

She wanted to improve her strength to compete in the British Drug Free Powerlifting Association (BDFPA), reduce her body weight to compete at the 70k weight category and improve her power and cardiovascular fitness to continue with her CrossFit.

10965336_10153246417453243_1637870015_nI started Rachael on an online support program, which involved developing programs, nutrition support and weekly catch up’s via Chat or Skype regarding her development.

I wanted to include as much weightlifting derivatives that would compliment her Powerlifting technique and improve her power development (Garhammer, 1981, Kawamori & Haff, 2004).

“Naively when I first started the programme I was a bit unsettled that I wouldn’t be testing 1RM for a few weeks as before I’d always had at least 1 ‘man test,’ sessions a week at the gym. I really liked the inclusion of Olympic lifts in the programme and they’ve really helped with my explosive power (my max box jump used to be 30″ and now it’s 36”).” Rachael discusses her training with SGF.

10967686_10153246417288243_2131380879_nThroughout the following 12 weeks we worked together to develop her program, which was based on an undulating (Rhea, Ball, Phillips, & Burkett, 2002), and to ensure it complimented her lifestyle as she had been posted to overseas with the RAF and was limited to the foods she could eat and exercises she could choose.  Rachael also suffered with a small wrist injury after a minor incident with a power clean which had to be taken in to account.

Regardless she trained very hard and completed everything that was given to her and more so as she kept up with her CrossFit alongside her Powerlifting training.

Rachael competed at the BDFPA Welsh Powerlifting Championships on January 28th 2015 achieving +7.5k on her squat with a 107.5k, increasing her bench by 2.5k to 62.5k and adding a massive 15k to her deadlift with a final lift of 155k.

“I was absolutely petrified the night before the comp and kept on going over the warm up routines you’d given me. Was slightly put at ease after I’d got into my weight cat with .4kg to spare. After talking through with my trainer, Charlie Shotton-Gale, the Monday before, I decided to not go all out on the squat and save myself for the deadlift.”

This competition was also in the 70k body weight category which is a lower body weight then her previous competition, which means Rachael lost 6k in bodyweight whilst still increasing her individual lifts by a total of 25k.

Rachael completed the competition by winning her weight category and taking the welsh records, an excellent result and a very happy lifter, as well as coach!10872379_10153246417193243_1044209989_n

“One of the best things Charlie told me was to take your time on the set up, that’s improved my squat no end”

Rachael is in maintenance training at present preparing for the Single Lift Championships in February 25th 2015 in which she is aiming to break all the previous personal best’s.



  • Garhammer, J. (1981). Strength Training Modes: Free Weight Equipment for the Development of Athletic strength and power-Part I. Journal, 3(6), 24–26.
  • Kawamori, N., & Haff, G. G. (2004). THE OPTIMAL TRAINING LOAD FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF MUSCULAR POWER.  [Review]. Journal of Strength, 18(3), 675–684.
  • Rhea, M. R., Ball, S. D., Phillips, W. T., & Burkett, L. N. (2002). A Comparison of Linear and Daily Undulating Periodized Programs with Equated Volume and Intensity for Strength. Journal of Strength, 16(2), 250–255.

Keep Lifting!

SG Fitness




Big Is Beautiful VS Small Is Sexy

Little Charlee and Big Charlie showing that #BigIsBeautifulVsSlimIsSexy

Little Charlee and Big Charlie showing that #BigIsBeautifulVsSlimIsSexy Photos:

Recently I was listening to the song, “all about that bass” by Meghan Trainor, in which a line says ‘skinny bitches’.
I have many slim friends and non of them I would term a bitch.

Why should big people hate small people and vice versa just for their size.

You can listen to our message on The Beard Of Zeus Podcast if you can’t read just now!


So I asked friend and fellow Personal Trainer Charlotte Blake to give me her opinion of being small, along with mine of being big.

I was asked by the lovely Charlie Shotton- Gale to write my perspective of size shaming emphasised by the recent song “all about the bass”. The pros, the cons and the perception of society as a small person.

I found it hard. While I consider myself small- I rise to the dizzy heights of 5ft 3 in the morning, and a size 10 on “fat” day. But I consider myself to have more junk in my trunk than the average carboot sale, and bigger “guns” than most guys. So this took a lot of thinking.untitled-100 (1)

  1. Cons of being small
    I need to get a step or a tall friend to help me reach stuff…or learn parkour…
    low bodyfat means I get cold quickly, so while my clothes are smaller, I actually probably spend more on clothes and layering.
  2. Vulnerability, because I’m small I feel vulnerable, in crowds I stand a foot lower than everyone else, don’t dominate as much space as everyone else. In terms of being a female, it would be stupid to deny that the risk of getting into a vulnerable situation is very real whether you are large or small. But I am often aware of how I may be seen as an easy target to pick off the runt of the litter….this may be part of what fuels my passion for fitness!  
  3. Perception: Social perception views smaller women as “dainty” and is synonymous with “feminine”and not in a good way. Hands up, I am guilty of sometimes playing to this. Cant be bothered to cue at a bar? Flutter your eyelashes and job sorted. Cant be bothered to carry your own bags across the train station? No worries “oh gosh, i’m terribly sorry, I don’t suppose you could help me could you?” *flutter flutter flutter* however as a professional I have seen it in many companies, not just to myself, but other small stature individuals, especially in the fitness industry where they have been overlooked because they are perceived to be “just not up to the job”
    In a study in America, taller men were perceived to me more successful than shorter men.

Pros of being small:

Small means power vs bodyweight is greater = you can jump higher more easily!

Small means power vs bodyweight is greater = you can jump higher more easily! Photo’s:

  1. when you do get underestimated as just another “small girl” it opens opportunities that others may not see. Often you get to see the true colours of an individual, and get to see through those who are just blowing smoke up your arse, and those who you would genuinely want to work with you.
  2. Turned 30 in July….still get ID’ed….WINNING!
  3. Childrens section…VAT free.
  4. I am EPIC at hide and seek.

I think we can add to the ‘pro’ list the fact that society sees her as an ‘attractive’ or ‘sexy’ size to be.

My pro/con list.


  1. I am big and STRONG. This body of mine had led me to being 6 time British powerlifting, British and commonwealth record holder along with a ranking of 4th in Europe and 5th in the world.
    This means I can lift what most men cannot. This doesn’t bother me, because I know if those men started training they would soon overtake me. It’s more that my big physique, that I was bullied about at school, has amounted to a huge something as an adult.
    I found my niche with being big, and it feels fantastic!!
Charlie Shotton-Gale half way through a 1RM attempt in a conventional style Deadlift

Charlie Shotton-Gale half way through a 1RM attempt in a conventional style Deadlift

  1. I do not fear life as much as I would imagine I would if I were small and dainty, I feel I have the strength, size and confidence to defend myself.
    This is a personal thing because I know many small ladies who can perfectly well defend themselves!
Being bigger means I am SO strong

Being bigger means I am SO strong Photo’s:

  1. I feel I have the freedom to say ‘I enjoy eating cake’ and people don’t think I’m a secret eater stuffing myself. Equally they don’t look at me and think ‘lucky cow can eat what she likes’. They realise that if I eat this I have to work harder in the gym.
    It’s more like a realisation that you can enjoy food but you’ve gotta be sensible. I’m not lucky, I just work hard.
Bigger often means Strength comes easily


  1. I used to think my size was a downfall as a personal trainer. However, I received more feedback that people enjoyed the fact I looked like a ‘woman then a little girl’.
    Once again, this is not to negate the look of smaller leaner women, it’s just that many people still believed in my ability as a trainer even though I didn’t look fresh out of a magazine.
  2. and although this is my final point it’s the most important – I have found the love of my life who loves me when I am 90k and when I’m 80k. He loves my curves and wobbly bits and wants me to be happy whatever size I am.
    If you don’t truly think your loved one feels that way…. Maybe it’s not truly your love.


  1. I go through jeans like no ones business because of the size of my legs.
    Also, jeans waists are never the right size to my legs so I always have to wear a belt.
  2. if I’m in a group picture with 3 small ladies – I do look weird!!
  3. I can’t wear skin tight fitting clothes. Oh wait, I’m not a chav. So who cares!
Even picking up the smaller people!

Even picking up the smaller people! Photo’s:

We shared this message to others for their opinion and found the following:

  • Jacob Paul Common and caveman attitude: small = weak. When I’ve had verbal abuse in London, I wonder if I was 6ft. how the story would pan out. Perhaps more accurate than small = weak, is “smaller than me = weaker than me”.

a bodybuilding ‘double bicep pose’ highlighting the differences in our bodies

Katie Sandford Sometimes when I tell people I lift, they express shock that someone “of my stature” actually does that. I’m 5’1″. People seem to believe that strength sports are reserved for big men and a small woman is automatically disqualified.  Sometimes I do have to get things off the top shelf in tesco by using other items to knock them off, then catching them. Also I can’t reach the ceiling handholds on the tube so if I can’t grab a pole I can end up falling. Sometimes people lean on the poles while holding the overhead handholds so small people can’t hold onto anything.   Also I can’t buy trousers like a normal person. I always have to take them up. Always. Well… I can always fit on a skateboard withorut considering the weight limit. I know that sounds weird, but I have a big lifter friend who wants a longboard and actually has to check the weight limit. I don’t ever have to think about it. I always have legroom on planes and trains. That’s pretty nice.

  • Sarah Louise Mawby i am a bigger taller woman who has dealt with massive confidence issues due to my size! Over compensate for these insecurities with faked confidence and make up to make myself more attractive to everyone potential friends and partners. Clothes are a massive issue as nothing fits right and feel there is too much shaming in the world for being bigger! However being tall has its advantages in my youth as Charlotte knows. Looking older due to being taller! I could write an essay on this subject!! Lol if you really need me to go into it hun I shall email you lol!! Is this what u had in mind?
We all look silly now!

We all look silly now! Photo’s:

Jess Attree Definitely have trouble getting trousers to fit length wise – same with length of dresses / skirts is always a bit off as well. 
I’ve had to climb supermarket shelves, jump on kitchen counters to get things and have also used the hook by hanger method
Whenever there’s a large cardboard box it seems to be assumed that I should be able to fit into it – same applies to small places in general
Gym wise – have avoided using squat rack on occasion as bar has been left full of weights above a height I’m comfortable getting them from – and only other people in free weights were idiots I didn’t feel I could ask for help. Plus the fun of not being able to reach overhead bars to start with! On the plus side I can happily watch something while on a treadmill whereas my 6’2″ husband has to basically lean over to watch the tv while running!  
I’m pretty happy being short – never really thought of it as a hindrance, easy to hide and blend in if required. I can happily sleep on most forms of transport as don’t have legroom issues! If I want to be taller I can wear massive heels!

  • Christopher Keighley Having longer levers, I find some gymnastics stuff harder to pick up or learn as quick as shorter people. Otherwise my life is awesome.
Becuase I am bigger I will naturally have more muscle mass = stronger.


Terri Newnham I was tallish 5ft 8 .and I have a 5ft sister. men always thought she was little and help less although she is far from it whilst I was the big capable one who didn’t have feelings and could do the donkey work. Now im older 51 people think I must be weak and in capable even though I squat and dead lift and have muscles and im stronger and fitter than I have ever been.

  • Joe Whiteley I bang my head a lot, and little old ladies ask me to reach things for them in supermarkets. Finding skinny jeans with a long enough inside leg used to be an issue in the 80s when I wore them. Being tall and skinny attracts piss taking. If any of this is any use…

Matt Griffiths  If blokes can play too then I am not the smallest chap in stature.  I get comments from time to time, doormen all nod at you, security guards do as well.   It’s not uncommon for people to point and or nudge their friends and talk about you, quite obviously as well.  Silly little things like “Big enough?” get said which is interesting as I am certain similar rebuttals using observational skills such as “Fat enough” wouldn’t be appreciated. 

I forgot about the clothes issue, I can’t often buy off the peg – usually I have to see something I like and search online for a xxxl variant.  Shirts have to be tailored to fit, rarely jeans will fit over my bum or thighs and often even things like flannel shirts etc in a larger size etc I will struggle to get my arm into as they don’t make the girth of the arms any bigger.  On the plus side, people move out of your way, you are always offered leftover food first.   It’s easy to push to the bar in a pub.   Most men and women in general are more respectful of you and has to be said you seem to get a lot more female attention being a big strapping chap.

Us bigger girls are not always so good at the posing!

Us bigger girls are not always so good at the posing! Photo’s:

  • Sarah Frost As a person of the teeny tiny variety I often get an incredulous ‘really’ when asked my height and I tell them 4’11” – almost as if I’m lying or have chosen to stop at that height! I was always very slight weighing between 6 1/2 & 7 stone up to the age of 30ish and had to deal with the ‘your so lucky you can eat anything’ comments ignoring the fact that I exercised regularly and ate well, plus a little helpful genetics thrown in for good measure! However I have discovered over the past 15 years that it’s entirely possible to override all these factors with an increased consumption of cake & chocolate! Nobody says I’m lucky anymore lol!
Katy Lee I find it a lot easier to barge my way through crowds of people (with liberal elbow use) as a small person. Most people will move out of the way after a jab in the kidneys.
  • Laura Porter  I definitely can’t throw my bodyweight around. And buying clothes can a nightmare (“petite” ranges tend to stop before my size).

    anonymous I really really like being the size I am (no complaints here) but I can’t think of any real advantages! Except maybe that I can buy bras in fabulous brands like Curvy Kate and Freya?


Jo Whiteley Disagree with Katy! I reckon being big stops me getting buffeted and knocked around in a crowd. Little people would just bounce off!

  • Sarah Hima I can reach things on supermarket shelves. I don’t feel the need to wear heels. I can see where I’m going in a crowd.

Katy Lee There may be something in the fact that because I am short, I have developed crowd-induced aggression. But I would love to reach things on high shelves

  • Charlie Shotton-Gale well i’ll chuck in my 2p worth….i love being my size and the way i fill clothes, i love the way my hips look in dresses and trousers…although i stay aware from onesies! I also love my big thick legs because I get a lot of attention from them hahaha

Sarah Hima I don’t think I can ever hide in a crowd. I’m over six foot in heels. I would like clothes to fit me better though, they are always too short in the body so the waist is never in the right place.

How little people fly so easily Ill probably never know!

How little people fly so easily Ill probably never know!

  • Rachael Armstrong Very much with you on the big legs Charlie! I LOVE my quads and like wearing short dresses and shorts to show them off. It’s only since I got into lifting that I’ve appreciated them though, before I hated them and hid in baggy jeans. I think it’s the fact I see them as ‘strong’ now rather than how big/small they are x

Daisy Leahy Benefits of being tall: seeing EVERYTHING at gigs being over 6ft in heels has its advantages at a bar too! Disadvantages? Trousers and dresses… Too short every time. Size-wise, I prefer being this shape to a smaller size (nothing to do with clothes ) plus bigger bods should, in theory, lift bigger weights!

  • Charlotte Blake Ha ha ha Daisy Leahy as a short person I used to love gigs until they banned crowd surfing. Now I just listen to the radio! Lol!
Charlee is a Parkour instructor which is a great sport for her small frame

Charlee is a Parkour instructor which is a great sport for her small frame Find her at

Molly Chapman Being 5ft on the dot is good because I fit into age 14 clothes etc which are cheaper but also a huge disadvantage with reaching things and finding appropriate sized men !!xx

  • Kelly Phasey Being shorter and bigger, allowed me to become a very good scrummager
  • Kate Sweatman ^^ what Kelly said.  Our pack was immense.  Also rucking. I love to ruck

Naomi Wekesa I like being small but curvy, I can squeeze through in a crowd. I fit comfortably under my hubby’s arm. I’m very strong and people underestimate me because I’m small. I like my strong powerful legs good for cycling, running and hill walking. Since living in kenya I’ve learned to love my bum and hips which previously I hated. Being pregnant in enjoying all my extra curves.

  • Karon Killick You really need to come and see the excellent razzle dazzle netball team, currently storming up the league, and all with curvaceous booties
If you have a story of how it is great being big or small comment below and spread the love of what you are and who you are.
Many thanks go out to Greg Spalding of ShutterFace for the stunning pictures, and to Nicholas Smith of ‘The Beard of Zeus Podcast‘ for helping to spread our message of happiness and healthiness.
 And of course to Charlotte Blake for writing it with me.  If you would like more information on Parkour, Bodybuilding or other sports that Charlotte has been involved please do get in touch.
Just as a side note, Megan Trainor has now lost loads of weight and is a ‘skinny bitch’ that she claimed to have hated in the first place…

Keep Lifting!

SG Fitness




Exercise Induced Muscle Damage: Implications for performance

Exercise induced muscle damage (EIMD) is the body’s response to changes in movement patterns leading to the regeneration of muscles and adaptation to performance ability.

Responses to EIMD have been categorised in to two areas; Primary and Secondary.  Primary reactions to EIMD focus on the metabolic and mechanical changes.  Metabolic responses have been suggested such as  Hypoxia, which is the reduction of oxygen within the body and therefore the muscles (Ernsting, 1963.  Robergs, Quintana, Parker, & Frankel, 1998).  However, Farr (2006) demonstrated that EIMD was not alleviated through a treatment of hypoxia.  The predominant amount of research on the primary response to EIMD focuses on the mechanical changes that occur from lengthening (eccentric), rather then isometric (static) and shortening (concentric), contractions (video 1) and causes damage to the muscle fibres (MF), which are long tubular structures that make up the length of the muscle, particularly alterations in the length of the individual sarcomeres, which are small structures that make up the length of the MF (Hunter & Faulkner, 1997.  Jones, Newham & Torgan, 1989.  McCully & Faulkner 1985.  Proske & Morgan, 2001).  The velocity (speed) of the movement will induce EIMD (Chapman, Newton, Sacco, & Nosaka, 2006) as will the work load of session (Lieber, Woodburn, & Friden, 1991) and the amount of force required during the bout (García-López et al., 2006).

Secondary responses to EIMD focus on the hours and days post exercise and have been demonstrated by Appell, Soares and Duarte (1992) and Yu, Carlsson and Thornell (2004) that alterations to the MF cause a chain reaction that leads to regeneration, which can occur as little as 2 weeks following (Clarkson & Tremblay, 1988.  Mair et al., 1995).   These responses are mostly seen in fast twitch muscle fibres (Chapman, Newton, Sacco, & Nosaka, 2006.  Lieber, Woodburn, & Friden, 1991) although have been shown in slow twitch fibres recently (Mair et al., 1995) and is caused by either a novel, or first time, bout of exercise (Brown, Child, Day, & Donnelly, 1997) as well as endurance based performances (Mair et al., 1995).

EIMD can have many different effects on performance including delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) (Armstrong, 1984.  Cheung, Hume, & Maxwell, 2003.  Clarkson & Tremblay, 1988.  Mair et al., 1995), reduced strength (García-López et al., 2006.  Proske & Allen, 2005), a smaller range of motion (ROM) (Clarkson & Tremblay, 1988.  Rinard, Clarkson, Smith, & Grossman, 2000), and an increase intra-muscular protein levels such as Creatine Kinase (Clarkson & Tremblay, 1988.  Evans & Cannon, 1991).

Several strategies in countering the effect of EIMD have been studied including supplementation of Antioxidants such as Vitamin C and E, nutritional supplementation in the form of protein and carbohydrate intake, stretching, massage, cryotherapy and the Repeated Bout Effect (RBE).  Vitamin C of 400-3000mg per day for between 4 and 14 days prior to exercise shows some positive effects from EIMD (Bryer & Goldfarb, 2006.  Kaminski & Boal, 1992. Thompson et al., 2001).  However, Vitamin C less then 3 days prior has no effect (Connolly, Lauzon, Agnew, Dunn, & Reed, 2006). Connolly, McHugh, & Padilla-Zakour (2006) showed positive responses to reducing muscle soreness and loss of force production when consuming 0.6 litres of unsweetened cherry juice 4 days prior and post exercise.  This procedure is highly recommended as it is relatively easy to implement and follow for a team.

 Although little research has been performed on nutritional supplementation to prevent EIMD, there is evidence that consuming a ration of 4:1 carbohydrate to protein blended drink before, during and after can attenuate the effects of EIMD from endurance exercise (Saunders, Kane, Todd, 2004) and carbohydrate only supplementation has no effect on reducing EIMD (Nelson, Conlee & Parcell.  2004) leading to a recommendation of a carbohydrate/protein blended drink being consumed before and after heavy training sessions such as fitness based field sessions.

A blend of stretching before exercise and massage after has shown positive effects on muscle force and Range of Movement (ROM) (Rodenburg, Steen been & Schjereck, 1994.)  However, no improvements were seen in DOMS or flexibility.  Pizza, Koh, Mcgregor and Brooks (2001) and Koh, Peterson, Pizza and Brooks (2002) show that passive stretching 2 weeks before exercise can protect the muscle cells by preparing the body to react in a protective manner.  It is recommended that all participants who are not used to exercise are given a stretching program for 2 weeks or more before training commences.  Once participants are established in a training program it is recommended to stretch for at least 10 minutes before exercise and receive 15 minutes of massage after.

The most effective preventive method has been shown in the Repeated Bout Effect (RBE) (Brown, Child, Day, & Donnelly, 1997.  Marginson, Rowlands, Gleeson, & Eston, 2005).   Hough (1902) was the first researcher to show that trained muscle incurred less EIMD then untrained.  Clarkson and Tremblay (1988) showed that exercise, even in small bouts, will produce smaller extents of EIMD after the primary bout and each subsequent bout will result in faster repair of the muscle with the positive effects of RBE lasting 6 to 9 months (Nosaka, Sakamoto, Newton, & Sacco, 2001).  Marginson, Rowlands, Gleeson and Easton (2005) studied RBE on adult and adolescent males and showed that the younger males responded even more to RBE by showing almost no symptoms of EIMD after their second bout of exercise due to the flexibility children have, naturally being more active and having fewer fast twitch muscle fibres that have been highly associated with EIMD.  Further studies show exercise on damaged muscles will not increase the damage seen and will not decrease the rate of recovery, however it will impede muscular adaptation (Nosaka & Clarkson, 1995. Nosaka & Newton, 2002.  Paddon-Jones, Muthalib, & Jenkins, 2000).

It is recommended that participants ensure they consume 0.6 litres of unsweetened cherry juice 4 days before and after exercise bouts, drink a 4:1 carbohydrate/protein drink 2 hours before and immediately after all training sessions,  stretch for 2 weeks before beginning training if they are currently untrained or, if currently active, stretch before each exercise session and ensure they receive massage for 15 mins after intense sessions.  The most important recommendation is for all team members to maintain a high level of exercise sessions per week to ensure the body continuously regenerates itself from exercise damage.



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Keep Lifting!

SG Fitness