#Fitsagram – Instagram for Fitness

There is no doubt that Instagram has become one of the most significant and active social media to date. The service launched in 2010, as little as five years ago, becoming one of the fastest growing cultural arrivals of the twenty first century with recent figures soaring over 300 million active users by the end of 2014. But what makes Instagram phenomenal is that it has become such an influential platform in marketing and monitoring the game of fitness.


And what do we exactly mean by Instagram? #doyoueveninstagram

To the majority of us, the app requires no introduction however we must acknowledge that Instagram only launched in 2010. Advances in technologies and its impact on culture has us both tech and trend savvy. It’s still important to be open minded that our age and generation plays a huge role in this cultural transition.  Instagram is a photo and video sharing service based online and on mobiles. The app enables members to capture, filter and share photos and videos onto their profiles and across other social media including Facebook and Twitter. But, distinctive features of the app include confining photos similar to Polaroid images but most importantly users are able to digitally enhance their images using filters.


Why is Instagram obsessed with fitness? #fitspiration

Photos speak more than words, in fact, they speak volumes. Instagram is image saturated, the whole concept itself is solely focused around imagery. When words are difficult to communicate, posting images simplify the task especially as other social media is either constrained with character limitations or crammed with too many functions of statuses, albums, videos, etc. An image is visual, artistic, the best and perhaps the only way to share your progression in fitness to whoever and whenever you want. The app allows you to follow whomever you wish, mainly for motivational purposes of cultivating these beautiful, inspirational fitness, health and nutrition accounts to help support and motivate us in our day to day goals. It’s common sense that sharing beautiful images creates a positive, motivating ambience, radiating positive emotions.


It’s more than perving #WOD

Many of us students including myself follow fitness accounts not only on the basis of aesthetic images but we love nutritional recipes, workout plans and exercise tips and tricks – all of which are free (almost! if you’re careful)! But this is the best part, we are extremely lucky to have access to so many sources of information in targeting our fitness goals, bearing in mind that not so long ago these little gems of tips were difficult to access without purchasing the magazines or hiring nutritionists and personal trainers. I’m talking about the days before the technological boom! Yes, there really was a time.

So exactly who are these leading fitness gurus?


#WCW women crush wednesdays


The Superstar Booty: @jenselter



Jen Selter, 20, New York 2,450,000 followers

“I don’t really post a lot of face pictures. I mainly do body selfies,”



The Personal Trainer: @nataliejillfit



Natalie Jill, 42, San Diego 320,000 followers

“There’s a few things that work: the picture needs to be colourful and happy, and people like seeing me do tricks on my rings. The ones that get the most likes are my morning work-outs. I try to teach something, not be all ‘look at me.’’



The yogi: @yoga_girl



Rachel Brathen, 25, Aruba 630,000 followers

“The pictures that get the most traction? The upside-down poses – especially if I’m in a beautiful location – paired with some words of wisdom. People are really hungry for inspiration, not just for tips on how to do poses.”



The celebrity trainer: @mankofit



mankofitMassiel Arias, 25, New Jersey 1,045,000 followers

“A lot of people do ‘shout-for-shouts’, where they ask you to follow their friends. I could have three million followers if I did that. My followers are all word-of -mouth. I want to show people that working out should be fun.”



The ballerina: @balletbeautiful




Mary Bowers, 33, New York 110,000 followers

“The photos of me dancing pregnant were popular because they were so unexpected. No one had seen a ballerina in a leotard doing advanced moves like that. Ninety per cent of the comments were supportive, but it made some people uncomfortable.”



#MCM Man Crush Mondays


The superstar body: @kyleclarke




Kyle Clark, 27,  Los Angeles 67,000 followers

“When you focus on problems, you’ll have more problems. When you focus on possibilities, you’ll have more opportunities”



The personal trainer: @lazar_angelov_official




Lazar Angelov, 31, Bulgaria 1.4m followers

“I want to inspire people, I want someone to look at me and say, because of you I didn’t give up”



The yogi: @carsonclaycalhoun




Carson Calhoun, 35, Arlington 88,900 followers

“One of the most important elements of a well-rounded workout is stretching and no other activity does it better than yoga. Press up handstands and arms balances reveals the importance of flexibility and engaging your core to achieving a flawless practice on and off the mat”



The celebrity trainer: @therock




Dwayne Johnson, 42, California 8.4m followers

“Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work gains success. Greatness will come”


The ballerino: @marcodalia




Marco Dalia, 23, Italy 1483 followers

“Dance everywhere”



My Personal Favourite @kayla_itsines




Kayla Itsines, 23, Adelaide 2.4m followers

“I have been personal training women since 2008. It is my mission to bring incredible confidence and pride to women all around the world. We all deserve to feel great about ourselves. Everyone always says change your life today, but no one ever provides how. My life goal is to provide the how to as many women as possible”


Kayla’s beliefs summarises the reasons as to why she appears on my IG feed. The publishing of her Bikini body workout guide that aims to motivate women into fitness has become a global success. For myself, I need motivation and encouragement to keep going and Kayla provides the perfect balance of tough love and lots of love. This guide is dominating and proves to be working for her hundreds of subscribers and millions of followers. Kayla’s Instagram feed is saturated with motivational images, not only of herself but of the women that have followed her programme.


Interview with Bryan Leong


In seeking a male student’s position on fitness accounts. I’ve kindly sat down with student and powerlifter Bryan Leong to quiz his perspective.


What do you look at for in terms of following a fitness account?

“Twofold.  For powerlifter’s accounts I am looking for advices in technical lifts. For accounts of Youtube’s celebrities, I mainly follow them for their persona.”


Who are your top favourite IG fitness accounts?

@Marksmellybell and @Silentmikke. The more I get into the sport of powerlifting, the more I study ways to maximize progress. One of many ways to achieve this is to dig into powerlifting-specific gym equipment and accessories. Marksmellybell and Silentmikke are the spokespersons of the company ‘How Much Ya’ Bench’, in which their IG accounts focuses mainly on demonstrating and test-driving their latest products. Plus occasional posts of motivations featuring top powerlifters in the US.


What makes them different from other accounts?

The one thing which all of these accounts stands out from the other is, they represent the pinnacle of different aspects and field of ‘fitness’. To be fair, based on the current trend of fitness, the content of every fitness-related accounts share 90% of similarities. But I rather follow those who are at best at what they do to receive the most reliable content.


Any other fitness related accounts you’d like to share with us?
  • @Marksmellybell for powerlifting motivations and advices.
  • @thebodymass for general student fitness activity log.
  • @Stevecook_32  for its unique approach to motivation and the preach to balance different goals and aspects in life.
  • @Dangreenpowerlifter for the ‘animal’ side of powerlifting. helpful in learning the mindset of a champion.
  • @Nikkiblackketter for her persona and physique.


Rumina Awal
Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies student
Cardiff University



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USN Pre-Workout Comparison

Case study user reviews of Hyperdrive NO and BCAA Amino-Gro, based on 2-3 discrete usages at the recommended doses, as well as comparisons between the products and market alternatives. As USN offers a number of pre workouts, this will not be a comprehensive review of their range, so the two products will be considered stand-alone rather than representative of the USN range.

Hyperdrive N.O



Hyperdrive N.O advertises itself as a stimulant based pre-workout powder with zero carbs and uses sensationalist rhetoric familiar to those who’ve shopped for pre-workout supplements before.  The stated benefit is to take your training to the next level through increased focus.  Based on the price and ingredient profile, the product aims to give you a mental boost alongside facilitating a pump at a very reasonable price.

On using this product a number of times, I certainly did notice increased focus and pump from its usage; the caffeine and pump ingredients seemed to do their job.  I can’t say I felt my performance really increased during these workouts, although I would suggest that’s because I am shooting for strength & work capacity rather than getting a pump and maintaining a strong mind-muscle connection, and I’m used to taking some caffeine before workouts.

In the below chart we look at a comparison between USN Hyperdrive N.O, BSN N.O.Explode, MyProtein Pulse V4 and BPI Vortex.


Hyperdrive comparion chart

From looking at the numbers, there are a few stand out points; firstly that this is among the best price you’ll find for a pre-workout and secondly that it has one of the highest average user review scores (although it’s up to you what difference that makes).  The relatively high dosage of Niacin along with the inclusion of D-aspartic acid and citrulline malate helps you achieve a solid pump, despite the latter two ingredients being dosed lower than is typically recommended.  The product states its position as a focus and pump product clearly by not including amino acids, and whilst the caffeine dosage is slightly less than competitors, the difference is inconsequential in my opinion. The product contains creatine at an unknown dosage (3g was estimated based on the proprietary blend weight, ingredient list and their typical doses), which to me is a bit of a pain but not a big deal.  Overall the product doesn’t go all out on the ingredient list but delivers what it promises at a great price.

As someone who typically just has a coffee before workouts (with a similar caffeine dosage to this product) but has dabbled with a wide variety of pre-workouts, I did notice a bit more focus using this product, and I definitely noticed more pump.  Given the low price, ingredients and high opinion others apparently have of it, I’d say this product is perfectly suited for the intermediate student athlete who wants a good workout with a solid pump and manages their recovery/intra-workout nutrition with other products.


BCAA Amino-Gro



USN describes this product as a performance enhancing supplement which uses BCAAs to reduce fatigue and help you get the most out of your workout due to fast nutrient absorption.  The product is available at a low price point and notably contains beta-alanine and glutamine; both typical in ‘performance’ based supplements to increase work capacity and improve recovery respectively.

After taking the supplement on several occasions it did produce a perceived effect similar to its competitors’ equivalent products; I felt able to hit my workouts a bit harder and I would suggest I experienced less DOMS compared to just having coffee before a workout.  Of course, it’s difficult to quantify these points and judging a product intended to improve performance only on how it makes you feel doesn’t make much sense; it would be great to test the effect of this product on a typical CrossFit workout for example, across a number of athletes.

In the below chart we look at a comparison between USN BCAA Amino-Gro, ON Amino Energy, MP Assault, MyProtein Pulse V4 and BSN AminoX.

‘-‘ means 0g, ‘?’ means the ingredient is included but its quantity is not stated (some of these have been estimated)



Amino-gro comparison chart

From looking at the numbers, it’s clear that USN have positioned this product as a predominantly BCAA powder, given the lack of caffeine and creatine, and the amount and ratio of BCAAs is respectable.   The citrulline malate is arguably under dosed, but not critical.  The beta-alanine dose is actually fairly moderate, although it’s more than enough to cause the skin flushing and tingling which the ingredient is known for.  The average user review adds very little to the debate, with fairly consistent scores across the products.  Overall this product seems to be a fairly priced attempt at a peri-workout supplement which uses a few solid ingredients without lots of bells and whistles.

Given my experience with this product and a number of similar products, I would say BCAA Amino Gro delivers what you’d expect at a fair price; it’s not going to blow your mind but could certainly be part of a sound training and nutrition routine.  I’d recommend an intermediate athlete looking to improve their workout a bit and recover quicker to try this product and compare their personal results against other, similar products.  This product is especially useful if you’re avoiding creatine or caffeine, or want to manage those supplements separately.  As a word of caution to those unfamiliar with beta-alanine; start with a low dosage to judge whether it causes uncomfortable skin tingles for you, they’re harmless and subside with continued use but can be very distracting at first.


MASS Athlete reviews

Cari Davies – “I thought flavour was the best I’ve tried and it was an okay pick me up which is what I needed after getting home from work and not really feeling it but it wasn’t a particularly great buzz yet gave me awful itchiness so overall not a big fan”

Theo Morgan – “Pros – good amino acid profile with leucine valine and isoleucine in a 2:1:1 ratio. Glutamine helps a lot with recovery and reducing DOMS. The beta alanine does give you energy helps maintain performance in the gym.

Cons– really high beta alanine content gave me some major itchiness when I had a double serving. Could use some more stimulant content like caffeine to make it better as a preworkout, I would probably go for a more stimulant based pre for a heavy lifting session.

Overall – good recovery and sustained energy and performance in the gym however I would prefer more of a buzz if I was going to use it as a pre workout on its own.”


Shaun Howell
Phd Student
Cardiff Club President, StudyFit ‘Eye on Science’ columnist, CrossFit and Strength Expert

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Interview with shredded student Josh Leader

University: Leeds
Degree title and year of study: MBCHB MEDICINE AND SURGERY (3RD YEAR)
Age: 21
Height: 170cm
Weight: 160lbs


How long have you been weight training?

3.5 years


What got you into weight training?

I was a keen sportsman at school and wanted to improve performance.


How did you get into competing in physique?

I did a fair amount of fitness and underwear modelling when I was 18; one of the photographers suggested I considered competing so I looked into it chose the class that suited me best and the rest is history. Only those who have also competed will truly understand the reason why. The feeling you get after weeks of dieting, intense training and prolonged cardio are all worth it when you have the opportunity to display your physique and the improvements you have made.




What have you gotten out of competing?

First and foremost, competing has allowed me to meet so many amazing people who all share the same passion for bodybuilding and fitness like me. Through competing I met Pat Warner, CNP professional sponsored athlete and 2009 UKBFF British Championship, who I class not only as a mentor, a training partner but most importantly also a very close friend. Competing has given me a lot of discipline and allows me to remain focused. Following a strict routine has actually allowed myself to be more successful at University as my busy regime means that I have to utilize my time very efficiently in order to ensure that everything gets done to my best ability. Competing has also taught me how to present myself with confidence without appearing arrogant.




What are your goals for the future?

In 2015, I have the UK Nationals event on 12th April where I aim to qualify for the European Championships in both the open and junior classes, the British Finals, the Arnold Madrid as well as the Amateur Olympia being held in Liverpool later this year. My goal is to be the youngest ever IFBB Physique Pro from the UK and seeing as I am only 21 years of age, I still have 4 years to make this a reality! I am deeply passionate about the science surrounding bodybuilding/fitness and wish to utilize my status as a qualified doctor to help educate others.


What are some of the difficulties in achieving the ideal physique as a student?

  • Balancing workload with time available to train
  • Restricted budget to afford the correct nutrition, gym membership, supplementation, competition fees, tanning, posing courses etc.
  • Becoming isolated from other students, as those who do not compete do not often understand the reason we go to the lengths we do
  • Furthermore, competition prep can often prevents us from eating/going out socially




How is university conducive to concentrating on your physique?


University is the ideal time to concentrate on my physique as I have total independence of what I do. The structure/routine that is required for competition prep helps me to remain productive and organized whilst on placement too. I tend to find the busier I am, the more I achieve.


What are some of the misconceptions held by students who want to get ripped?

Students often believe you need to do copious amounts of cardio and to do very low carbohydrate diets in order to get ripped. This is not the case at all. There is not a set formula; everyone has different genetics. You just have to find what works best for you. You should remember fitness is a lifestyle and should not feel like a job. It is a continuous process of progression so whatever you chose to do should be maintainable for your circumstances.




Who do you go to for training/nutrition advice?

I have always read about different training/nutrition protocols on the Internet, on websites such as or

As previously mentioned, Pat Warner, is currently mentoring/prepping me for my upcoming competitions this year. We call him ‘The Illusionist’ due to the dramatic changes in the shape and condition he has helped make possible in such a short period of time. Mr. Warner is an extremely smart trainer and no session is ever the same. We hit the muscle with different tensions, from different angles and with different tempos. This way the body never knows what is coming next and has to constantly adapt. I feel this is the secret to stimulating optimal muscle hypertrophy as well as achieving as much detail as possible.


How do you feel about the stereotypes of students leading unhealthy lifestyles?

I feel that stereotyping in general is an extremely negative aspect to society and we should all try not the band certain groups of people together. Everyone is unique and should be treated this way with no labelling or stigma attached. I personally think that due to the emphasis being placed on aesthetics and body image in the social media, that everyone is becoming a lot more body conscious. This is reflected in the increasing number of students who attend the gym and are beginning to implement healthy diets. The poor habits tend to occur in Fresher’s at University but once the novelty has worn off, people soon alter their lifestyle. I also find that medical students tend to have better habits due to the larger load of work, which makes it difficult to go out on a constant basis.


Five foods we would find in your kitchen:

Cod, rice, oats, supplements, broccoli


Josh Leader
Facebook Josh Leader Fitness
YouTube DrJHLeader
Instagram @drjleader
Twitter @joshleader
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Weight Loss through Flexible Dieting – Daniel Olusina

Are you tired of doing endless cardio with no signs of weight loss? Eating the same “clean” meals over and over causing you to cheat regularly? Would you like to learn of a new approach that enables you to treat yourself daily? Then flexible dieting aka if it fits your macros may be just the approach you need.


Name: Daniel Olusina
University: Kent
Course: Actuarial Science
Year of Study: Graduated in 2015


Macro and Micronutrients

  • Macronutrients are nutrients that provide calories and energy. They’re found in all foods and are made up of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
  • Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals required in small amounts that are essential to our health, development and growth. They are widely found in an array of fruit and vegetables.
  • By knowing that all the food that we eat is merely just a certain amount of macro and micro nutrients, we can track them and know precisely how much we are actually eating.




How to Track What You Eat

  • Any food can easily be tracked using the MyFitnessPal app. This app can be downloaded on any of the latest smart phones or can be accessed on the internet.
  • Log each each meal you eat by logging the individual foods used to make up that meal. Doing so you will find out the exact amount of macro and micro nutrients you’ve consumed in that meal.
  • Food on MyFitnessPal can be logged by either weighing out each food using a weigh scale and searching for the food & the amount of if on myfitnesspal or if you’re using the the myfitnesspal app on you’re smart phone then there is a feature where you can scan the barcode which will immediately show you the amount of macronutrients in the food you’ve just scanned.
  • This can be very handy when you’re out looking to treat yourself but are unsure of whether the desired food (poptarts for me) will fit the total amount of macronutrients to be consumed for the day.


Caloric Deficit

  • By tracking our food on MyfitnessPal we are able to find out the total macro and micro nutrients we are consuming and thus the total amount of calories we are consuming
  • Depending on the total amount of calories we are consuming, we may be in a caloric surplus, deficit or maintenance.
  • Caloric surplus is where we are consuming more calories than the energy we’re expending during the day and thus gaining weight (the amount depends on how big the surplus is).
  • Caloric maintenance is where we are consuming the same amount of calories as the energy we’re expending and thus our weight stays the same.
  • Caloric deficit is where we are eating less calories than our caloric maintenance and will therefore lose weight


Flexible Dieting Coming Into Its Own

  • What I advise is to track the amount of food you generally eat over one day.
  • See what the total amount of macronutrients is and keep that the same throughout the entire week.
  • That doesn’t mean eat the same food over and over. Eat a wide variety of food and meals but make sure at the end of the day it all adds up to the same amount of macro and micronutrients which were consumed on day 1.
  • Whilst you’re doing this I also suggest weighing yourself daily. First thing in the morning after using the toilet. This is to track weight progress. At the end of the week add all the weights together and divide them by 7 to see your average weekly weigh in.
  • If you’ve seen that your weight has gone up then you are in a caloric surplus and may need to reduce your macros slightly (either carbs or fats) however if your weight has gone down then you’re in a caloric deficit and just need to keep maintaining the same macronutrients to keep losing weight (if weight loss is your goal).
  • My rule of thumb is whether you were in a caloric surplus or deficit for week 1, if you are looking to lose weight then fats should be around 60g a day for guys and 50g for women to make sure you are still eating an adequate amount of fat to help maintain bodily functions.
  • Protein should be at least 1.2g per pound of bodyweight but this can be more and carbohydrates throughout the diet phase should be kept as high as possible despite this being the macronutrient that you’ll be looking to reduce every so often when reducing calories further.




Average Weight Loss

  • So now we’ve set our macro and micronutrients its time for us to lose some weight!
  • If you’re already losing weight on your current macros then just stick with it and enjoy fitting them small daily treats into those weight loss macros.
  • You should be looking to lose around 0.5-1kg a week on average so a sufficient caloric deficit of around 300 below caloric maintenance may be all that is needed.
  • However fat loss isn’t linear so it could a loss of 0.2kg one week and 1.3kg the next.
  • Try your best to keep fat loss at under 1kg a week as if it is over it may cause a loss in muscle tissue as well, which is not what we want if we want to be looking toned.


Busting weight plateaus

Lower carbs, higher cardio, more intensity in gym
  • If your weight loss has stalled then fear not for there are many ways to combat this.
  • As 1g carbohydrates is equal to 4 calories then by merely reducing the daily amount of carbohydrates by 25g you’ll have reduced the daily calories by 100 calories!
  • This small refinement may make all the difference and allow the weight loss to continue
  • Another way is increasing the amount of calories you are burning through increased cardio. I would suggest HIIT (high intensive interval training) starting with once a week for 15mins (12-15secs flat out, 45sec to 1min rest) and then increasing to twice a week if weight plateaus. HIIT causes the body to experience an afterburn effect that will cause it to burn many calories throughout the day even when you’re at rest.
  • Incorporating Steady State cardio in terms of burning a specific amount of calories is also useful but doing this to burn a large amount of calories many times a week may induce metabolic damage so use it sparingly.
  • Increasing the intensity of your weight training workouts will allow you to burn even more calories and thus be further into a caloric deficit. Supersets, dropsets and less rest periods can all be utilised to make you train even harder and thus burn more calories.


Refeeds vs Cheat Meals

Once a Week
  • We’ve all been there, just lost a kg and we want to reward ourselves with a KFC bargain bucket.
  • Unless that bargain bucket fits your macros (which I doubt it will) then refeeding may be the answer to eating more and potentially losing even more weight
  • Instead of plain cheating and eating food we know is extremely high in fat we can instead eat roughly 150-200% more carbs on a refeed day.
  • On this refeed day our fats should be lower than a normal diet day (around 10g less or so) and protein should be around the same level or a little less.
  • This will cause our leptin level (fat burning hormone) to spike temporarily as it is normally fairly low when we are dieting.
  • Our metabolism will therefore increase and when you go back to your normal food amounts you may notice that you’ve lost even more weight which is what we all want.


So lets all ditch the 6 meals a days of sweet potato, lentils and plain diced chicken and start having a wide array of meals that fit our caloric deficit macro and micronutrients!


Daniel Olusina
Instagram @danielolusina
Twitter @danielolusina
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press up

Push Up, Or Shut Up!

Reinventing the push up into a viable bench press alternative.


You love to bench press. Everyone does. It’s a simple move, you can load up big weights on it, and it trains major muscles you love to see in the mirror. However, the bench press isn’t always the safest option. If you don’t have a spotter, it can be dangerous to overload yourself to a point where you might fail a rep and need the bar lifted off you. Furthermore, excessive bench press in your training can lead to a whole host of shoulder issues. Sometimes, when training your chest and triceps, it can be useful to revert back to the bench presses little brother; the PE teachers favourite; the push up.

You probably left the push up behind as soon as you discovered the bench press. You now probably view it as a warm up exercise, cranking out a few sets of 10 before you start your chest day. However, by a few simple tweaks shown in the exercises below, we can amp up the intensity of push ups so you can get great upper body results without even touching a weight.

Before you try some of the more intense and advanced push up variations, here are some key coaching points to make sure you’ve mastered the ordinary push up.


  • Make sure your hands are placed directly below your shoulders to ensure you’re stressing the correct muscles.
  • Keep your elbows tucked to your sides. Flared elbows are one of the most common mistakes when performing a push up. To help you keep tucked elbows, imagine you are trying to grip a business card in-between your arm pits.
  • Maintain a straight and rigid body. A rigid body during a press up involves straight legs, hips not sagging and a neutral spine position. To help with this, tense your glutes and core as well as pressing your legs and feet tight together before starting to complete your push ups.
  • Get low enough. Lowering yourself to the correct position in a push up ensures you work your muscles through a full range of motion. Lower yourself til your face is 2 to 3 inches off the ground then push away again.


Regular push up - start-finish position

Regular push up – start-finish position

Regular push up - mid position

Regular push up – mid position











Once you can perform a good set of 20-25 push ups following the coaching points above, it’s time to attempt some more advanced versions of the push up. Caution! Huge pecs and massive triceps may result from completion of these exercises.


Staggered push up

Set up: Set yourself up for a normal push up; hands below shoulders, core braced, elbows tucked. Now, take one hand and move it forward until it is below your eye line. Your hands are now in the staggered position.

Execution: Lower yourself as normal, then focus on driving through your hand that is still below your shoulder on the up phase. Use your more forward hand as a support. When you’re done, take a short rest, switch which hand is forward, and repeat.


Staggered push up - start-finish position

Staggered push up – start-finish position

Staggered push up - mid position

Staggered push up – mid position











This move increases the intensity on one pectoral at a time, by increasing the work each side does during one rep. It is a good first move to attempt after mastering the regular push up. Aim for 15 – 20 reps each side before attempting archer push ups.


Archer push up

Set up: Again, set yourself up for a normal push up; hands below shoulders, core braced, elbows tucked. This time take one hand and extend it out to the side of your body. Raise your extended hand off the palm onto just the fingers and make sure that arm is straight. Imagine looking down on your body and you should see an image similar to an archer with his bow. Your extended hand is ‘drawing the arrow’ while the hand still under the shoulder is ‘holding the bow’.

Execution: Similar to the staggered push up, focus on driving through the hand still under your shoulder. Your extended arm should bend slightly as you lower to the bottom point of the push up. Switch sides again and repeat.


Archer push up - mid position

Archer push up – mid position

Archer push up - start-finish position

Archer push up – start-finish position











The archer push up is very similar to the staggered push up in that it isolates the work onto one side of your upper body. However, by moving the non-working arm laterally and further away from the body’s midline, the support is reduced, so the intensity placed on the working arm is further increased. Aim for 10 reps each side before moving on.


Lateral push ups

Set up: Slightly different to the others, you start lateral push ups with both arms extended laterally away from the body. If you looked down on your body, it would resemble a cross. You can keep your fingers facing forwards, or point them out laterally too; whichever is most comfortable for you.

Execution: Lower yourself down towards your left hand. You should be moving diagonally downwards, trying to get your left pec as close as you can too your left hand. Drive back up and away so your body becomes central again. Immediately repeat to your right side.


Lateral push up - mid position

Lateral push up – mid position

Lateral push up - start-finish position

Lateral push up – start-finish position











This exercise provides a more dynamic version of the archer push up, and the different movement pattern makes it a difficult move to master. Aim to hit 16-20 reps before attempting the daddy of all push ups; the one arm push up.



It is hard to let go of the staple upper body exercise of the bench press. Most of us are comfortable and feel at home with a bar above our chest, but you can achieve similar results, in a safer and equally as challenging environment with the push ups shown above. And as if this article hasn’t already done enough to convince you to try some advanced push ups in your next upper body workout, always remember that push ups work your core at the same time as your pecs and triceps.


Mark Harvey
Loughborough University
BSc Sports and Exercise Science


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Insulin – The Muscle Building Hormone

Insulin is a protein that is secreted from the pancreas when a carbohydrate or protein source is ingested into the body. It is transported in the blood in order to regulate blood glucose levels as they must be closely monitored by the body in order to ensure internal conditions in the body remain stable and constant.

Insulin’s Roles in the Muscle Cell

  • Glucose uptake across the cell membrane
  • Glycogenesis (Glycogen synthesis)
  • Amino acid uptake
  • Protein synthesis
  • Gluconeogenesis (the generation of carbohydrate from non carbohydrate sources – ie inhibiting protein degradation)
  • Glycogenolysis (the breakdown of Glycogen to glucose)


The conclusion of all of that is that insulin plays a huge part in muscle building as it allows for better amino acid uptake resulting in greater levels of protein synthesis. Furthermore, it increases glucose uptake into the cell, which results in fuelling muscular contractions. Does that mean we should look to maximize insulin levels throughout the body and we’ll experience great muscle gains with no negative effects, yes?

Not exactly. Insulin also has an anabolic affect in adipose (fat) tissue and it decreases the rate of lipolysis (fat breakdown) thus decreasing fatty acid plasma levels stopping the body from utilizing fats for energy.


In order to avoid insulin’s anabolic affects in the adipose tissue it’s ideal to be as sensitive to insulin as possible, to allow muscle cells to be able to utilize it effectively to fuel contractions and aid in protein synthesis. The more desensitized the insulin receptors become, the lesser ability the muscle cells have in utilizing the insulin and the more insulin is used in lipid formation and fat storage. The leaner an individual is the more sensitive they will be to insulin and thus, that individual may find it far easier to add muscle, as their insulin will be able to transport glucose and amino acids efficiently. This is where the ‘dirty bulk’ theory is shown to be false as leaner individuals are far more anabolic than individuals who carry a large amount of excess body fat.


Insulin Levels and Post Workout


z274Your body is most sensitive to insulin at particular times throughout the day. One of these is after a resistance training workout, so post-workout is a good time to have a source of carbohydrates and protein to spike insulin levels. Post-workout is when your muscles need nutrients urgently as they’ve just been broken down by your training and your body will be in a very catabolic (breaking down) state. Around 30g of fast digesting carbohydrates post workout with a source of easily digestible protein is sufficient to maximize recovery and protein synthesis. Followed by adequate intake of overall calories throughout the day.



7 Ways to Achieve Greater Insulin Sensitivity


  1. Resistance training
  2. Cardiovascular training
  3. Low carbohydrate/ High fat nutrition
  4. Manipulating carbohydrate levels over time e.g. Carbohydrate cycling
  5. Eat plenty of Omega 3 fatty acids (found in oily fish and nuts)
  6. Control blood glucose levels by avoiding massive insulin spikes caused by eating large amounts of fast digesting carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates with sources of protein and fats affect blood glucose levels less, alongside high levels of total daily fibre.
  7. Regular consumption of cinnamon in the diet and supplementing with ALA (alpha lipoic acid) has been linked with increased sensitivity (ALA can be found in the diet in foods such as broccoli, spinach and tomatoes but in smaller amounts than in supplements).


Justin Bland
University of Leeds
BSc (hons) Sport and Exercise Sciences with Physiology
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The 2015 MASS Student Physique Championship qualifiers

Tans radiated, smiles glistened and bodies rocked: How our students battled it out in attempt to qualify for the Mass Student Physique finals in London this April.


This March saw an array of talent in both the Midlands and Southern SPC Regional qualifiers. More than 100 of the best student physiques flocked from across the country to each show, managing to sell out both Leicester’s O2 Academy and Southampton’s Student Union in celebration of the student athlete. Both heels and standards were set sky high, filling our stages with professionalism, sportsmanship, and a positive example for students everywhere to follow.

Posing was in full force, with Manchester’s medic Sam Parsons and Exeter’s Adam James impressing the judges enough to take home awards for best stage presence of the day. The talent displayed in the Women’s bikini categories proved particularly hard to judge; finalist Rosie Williams, Serife Ustuner and Liberty Pullen demonstrated incredible presentation skills in the Southern qualifiers, while Nikita Scholes, Holly Couzens and Sarah Baron shone for our Midlands judges.




Emily Wilson & Feyi Oyebode, Midlands regional overall champions


Bournemouth served to be the South’s hottest Uni, gaining overall best team of the day as well as celebrating Tom Vessey’s victory in the Men’s Athletic category. Other successes included George Morgan, Roehampton’s winner in the Men’s Fresher’s category and Nathan Etherington, Plymouth’s short physique victor.  Daniel Olusina, former self-confessed “stick-thin” physique, was announced proud winner of both the Men’s Tall and overall Men’s Physique of the day. All praises for the healthy lifestyle, Olusina urges anyone to get involved,

“With hard work, dedication and consistency you can build the body you want!”

Other athletes, who are living proof of the latter, included Midlands overall Men’s champ of the day, Feyi Oyebode and both Women’s bikini winners, Hattie Moran of Westminster and 20 year old Emily Wilson of Coventry.

Each student has undergone an incredible individual journey throughout the SPC process, proving the mental discipline required to compete at this high level. Best friends and gym buddies, Duncan Barry and Jake Sales, demonstrated that physique competitions delve far deeper than surface looks

“It’s changed our mentality towards all aspects of life, and it’s great that we can do it side by side”



SPCsouthern      SOUTHERNbikini            Daniel Olusina & Hattie Moran, Southern regional overall champions


Unlike professionals in the industry, the students have had to juggle their rigorous training and nutrition with the hardships of student life. First time competitor, Megan Coldicott, who studies adult nursing at De Montfort University, told us,

“I train twice a day; I start with fasted cardio followed by a weights session later. It’s been hell but so worth it-I’ve never seen my body like this!”

Coventry’s 23 year old Josh Sainsbury-Bow, who gained 2nd place in the Men’s Athletic Category, believes the healthy lifestyle is well worth the time and money

“It can definitely be expensive, but I’ve saved a lot on alcohol!”

When asked to advise other students wanting to compete, Josh Bridgman, winner of the Men’s Physique, insisted,

“Just get out and do it! It’s the best thing you’ll ever do!”




Congratulations to all our inspirational competitors, who proved being a student doesn’t have to mean sleeping all day and drinking all night: we can’t wait to see what you can bring to the championship next year!


By Britta Zeltmann
Cardiff University


Midlands Scoresheet
Southern Scoresheet
Finals Scoresheet
Competition Page



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MASS’s Strongest Man 2015

The first ever MASS strongman competition was held in the ‘larger than life’ Warehouse Gym this March.


Amongst murals of the Kings and Queens of strength and acres of gritty strength machines for people who mean business, athletes from across the country battled it out to be crowned the strongest and hopefully earn points for their university in the MASS games.


strongman Geoff


After some close weigh-ins and an explanation of the events from MASS chairman David Bissell, the day quickly got underway; starting with the farmer’s carry.  From the outset a high standard of competition was evident, amidst an atmosphere of encouragement and good natured competitiveness familiar to those who attended previous MASS events.

From the females, Cari Davies and Catherine Smith were neck and neck for first place alongside a strong performance from Sharon Shergill. Catherine dominated the log press to nudge ahead at the second event but a comeback from Cari’s now legendary deadlift skills left it all up to the last event; Catherine narrowly pipped Cari to pull the overall result back to a draw.  This meant that Catherine won the junior gold medal, Sharon won silver from the juniors and Cari won the senior gold medal.





From the males, Zib Atkins blazed through the events in first place across the board from the 85kg category, including a sub 30s time to load a 50kg stone, 65kg kettlebell and 70kg sandbag at the end of a 15m carry. This landed him squarely with the 1st place senior prize, alongside Jacob Hetherington as first place junior following the quickest time to load up to the 80kg atlas stone.  The 105kg male category was more contested, although a solid senior victory was earned by Geoffrey Kirby, following a spectacular 43 reps at the 180kg car deadlift and RAPID 105kg atlas stone loading.





Finally, the MASS games points were awarded, including 25 points to Loughborough in first place, 20 points to Cardiff in second and 16 points to Nottingham in third.  Overall, the first MASS strongman competition was a great example of the friendly, supportive and competitive student strongman community. And we got to pick up a car, which is pretty cool!


Words by Shaun Howell

Competition Page
Event Photos



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Green Tea – A Natural Fat Burning Supplement

With the number of people in the gym ever increasing, treadmills smoking and the sight of people crunching widespread, the question burning everybody’s’ lips, does that magic supplement exist? A powder or capsule that can torch fat naturally?


Name: Brandon Tiller
University: Southampton
Course: Biochemistry
Year of Study: 2nd Year

There are whispers in the corners of gyms, telling you this and that, those sceptics laughing the idea off, and those who sink down every supplement thrust upon them with the hope it is the one. I’m sure you’ve heard of green tea extract amongst those whispers, but is the cousin of Britain’s famous brew really a heavyweight in the fat burning industry?




The Fundamentals of Fat Loss

Lets begin right at the foundation. Every time we chow down on that man-sized, muscle fuelling, umpteenth meal of the day, desperate to squeeze as much muscle-building potential out of our bodies as possible, excess calories eaten in the form of fats and carbohydrates are no use to the body and are packed together and then stored for a later date as triglycerides, or fatty acids within fat cells, and to some degree liver and muscle cells, a process known simply as lipogenesis.

Being the automated machine it is, our body thinks this is ideal, however, in the eyes of a fitness enthusiast, this is disastrous. These fatty acids have a very high energy yield (9kcal/g) compared to that of carbohydrates (4kcal/g) and are therefore retained and stored with more abundance than glycogen.

The Process of Fat Burning

Fat-burning itself is achievable in one of two ways, increasing the bodies metabolic rate, the breakdown and use of fatty acids as an energy source or raising the activity of enzymes that act on fat cells to maximise the availability of these fatty acids.

In the case of fatty acid breakdown, a process known as β-oxidation occurs, in which the triglycerides are catabolised (broken down) back into fats and carbohydrates to be burnt as energy. Much like shovelling coal into the furnace of a steam train to keep everything moving. Not to worry though, that dreaded C word, synonymous with muscle building, is positive in this case, and completely unrelated to muscle catabolism.

Now this all sounds a little bit tricky, when ideally, all we are concerned with is walking down that beach with a six pack so chiselled you could grate a block of cheddar on it.




The Key to a Sculptured Physique

That is where green tea may potentially be the Holy Grail, the key to a sculptured physique. How is it that a plant can be related to such a complex mechanism though? And does it have a significant effect? Well, once the kettle has boiled and the bag is brewing, catechins (natural chemicals present within the leaves) are extracted into the water and it is these small compounds that can make such a big difference!

The noted catechin in green tea is called Epigallocatechin gallate; we’ll call it EGCG for short to save a mouthful. And studies with this have been conducted to define fat-burning fact with fiction. Different doses of EGCG and a placebo were given to active men to identify whether or not it has the ability to increase β-oxidation of fatty acids and assist in fat-burning.

Across all studies, it was conclusive that supplementing with EGCG did in fact aid fat burning across the board.


Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)

Reasons for this are not yet set in stone, but are proposed to be down to one, or a combination of these three ideas. EGCGs ability to increase fatty acid breakdown, decrease fat cell production or reduce fat absorption in the small intestine, not too bad for something you can sip on and enjoy whilst you relax and read this article.

Surprisingly, lower doses of EGCG (300mg/day) were more beneficial than higher doses (600mg/day), increasing β-oxidation by up to 33%, compared to 20% respectively within two hours of meal consumption.

However, the exact level of EGCG in a single cup of green tea is not definitive, which is why many sports supplement manufacturers have developed their very own ‘Green tea extract powder’, an accurately dosed powder that provides the ideal amount of EGCG as well as high levels of additional antioxidants that have a host of other health benefits!


It must beegcg noted though that the greatest effects were seen whilst the EGCG was supplemented with 200mg of caffeine, a stimulant of the nervous system that controls the release of adrenaline into the blood stream, hormones that act to mobilize fatty acids and, of course, give you crazy levels of drive and intensity whilst busting your guts in the iron clad dungeon.

Increases of up to 50% were reported, so why not combine Green tea extract powder with Caffeine for the best possible benefits.


As it stands, there may be truth behind those whispers after all. Green tea extract alone will not build the lean body of Adonis; intense and smart training coupled with a calorific deficit will be the main factor.


But, like Rome, a ripped body is not built in a day, who’s to say the Romans didn’t use all the help they could get?


Brandon Tiller
Facebook Brandon Tiller Fitness
YouTube Professor Muscle
Instagram @brandontillerfitness
Twitter @btillerfitness




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MASS Powerlifting National Championship Report

Following the growth of MASS Powerlifting and the successful regional championships, 40 student athletes filled Bethnal Green Weightlifting Club along with dozens of spectators and GBPF officials to find the best of the best at the MASS National Student Powerlifting Championship.  A truly ‘down to business’ gym set the perfect tone for a day of serious heavy lifting, and the friendly staff perfectly complemented the supportive and encouraging atmosphere.

The group was split into 2 waves across 9 represented categories from 17 universities, proceeding as usual through Squat, Bench and Deadlift with 3 attempts at each starting with the lightest female and ending with the heaviest male.  The lightest women, at 52kg, put in some strong performances with Becky Montague pipping Alexandra Langberg at 235kg to 232.5kg totals.  The 57kg female group was the most contested with 4 athletes and Catherine Smith coming in top place with a total of 282.5kg thanks to a 140kg deadlift, although Carrie Shearer’s 105kg squat scored her 2nd in the group. Of the 63kg females Cari Davies stole the show with a 302kg total thanks to a 160kg deadlift amidst a roaring crowd, although Elly Bar-Richardson did pip her on the Bench Press with a 50kg press. In the 72kg female category, Kimberley Cowell and Ursula Artjoki tied for highest total with 282.5kg, although Ursula’s slightly higher Wilks earned her 1st place.




From the lightest male category, Amrik Mehta put in a solid performance at 66kg with a 475kg total that would have won him the 74kg category crown too, although that went to Joshua Foo with a 462.5kg total after a big 240kg pull. From the 83kg males, Zib Atkins stormed his way to 1st with a huge 615kg total that also would have won him a crown at the next weight category, in part due to a 230kg squat. The 93kg men’s crown went to Ryan Strother for being slightly lighter than Oliver Sawyers after they both totalled 590kg, although the standout performance from the category was Oliver’s big 270kg deadlift.  From the heaviest men’s category, at 105kg, Marcus Jolly thrived on the support of his friends and managed a big 635kg total following a 275kg deadlift to have the biggest total of the day.




Overall, Zib Atkins achieved the highest male Wilks at 412 followed by Amrik Metha and Marcus Jolly, and Catherine Smith achieved the highest female Wilks at 343, followed by Cari Davies and Carrie Shearer.  The battle for best university was hotly contested but Loughborough achieved the highest Wilks total with 1430, followed by Cardiff at 1294 and Bournemouth at 962.  Finally, MASS games points were awarded, prizes were distributed and plates were put away to mark the event of another brilliant MASS example of competition and community amongst student strength athletes.




A huge thank you goes to the event sponsor USN – Ultimate Sports Nutrition, to Bethnal Green Weightlifting Club for hosting the competition and to all the spotters and plate loaders who made the day possible.

Competition Page
Event Photos


Powerlifting cropped usn_transparent

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Carb Cycling Explained – Justin Bland

Carbohydrate cycling is a method of carbohydrate manipulation that utilizes days of eating both high and low amounts of carbohydrates on a daily basis.

Name: Justin Bland
University: University of Leeds
Course: BSc (hons) Sport and Exercise Sciences with Physiology
Year of Study: Graduated in 2015, Starting an MSc Nutrition.


Why Carb Cycle?

  • Improves insulin sensitivity
  • The low insulin levels from the low carbohydrate days will allow for more efficient fat burning as insulin blunts lipolysis (fat burning)
  • Helps spare lean muscle mass as the high carbohydrate days allow carbohydrates to become the primary energy source so the body wont be converting excess amino acids in the body for energy. Also carbohydrates cause an increase in insulin levels which is a highly anabolic hormone that aids in protein synthesis
  • High carbohydrate days help blunt cortisol levels. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone which is released during times of stress and dieting, so blunting its catabolic effects aid in the maintenance of muscle mass
  • Can be adapted for both fat loss and weight gain by manipulation of overall calorie levels.
  • When looking to increase in muscle mass, carbohydrate cycling is a good way of minimizing excess bodyfat due to the low carbohydrate days blunting the insulin response and the high carbohydrate days which increases the hormone leptin, leptin is one of the best fat burning hormones. Leptin levels decrease when in an extended period of calorie restriction, so high carbohydrate days allow for extra calories to be eaten and enables leptin levels to increase and therefore increases fat burning.





This example is for an individual weighing 180lbs looking to decrease body fat levels on 2000 calories a day (with the individual being a 500kcal maintenance deficit daily). Protein levels stay consistent throughout the whole week but carbohydrate and fats are manipulated daily, hence the name ‘carbohydrate cycling’ ;).

  • Day 1- P-216g C-100g F-82g Calories-2000
  • Day 2- P-216g C-100g F-82g Calories-2000
  • Day 3- P-216g C-100g F-82 Calories-2000
  • Day 4- P-216 C- 250g F-40g Calories-2224
  • Day 5- P-216g C-100g F-82g Calories-2000
  • Day 6- P-216g C-100g F-82g Calories-2000
  • Day 7- P-216 C- 250g F-40g Calories-2224


This is obviously just a theoretical example trying to illustrate the concept. This person is following 3 low carbohydrate days at 100g a day, followed by one high day of 250g. Then the person has 2 more low carbohydrate days at 100g daily and one high day at 250g.

The pattern is; low,low,low,high,low,low,high.

Looking at the weekly picture your calorie intake will average out at a deficit throughout the whole week, which will result in a loss in bodyweight. The manipulation of carbohydrate levels, will allow the benefits of insulin’s anabolic properties and increase in leptin levels on high days and the fat burning benefits on low carbohydrate days, due to the lack of circulating insulin.

Another common method of carb cycling is to match your carb intake with the size of the muscle group your training that day. Leg days being high carb days, upper body being medium carb days and cardio, abs and rest days being low carb days. This can be seen as a more efficient use of the energy source, maximising your carb intake when it’s most needed and making sure your hormones are in the right place for each particular training day.





When results start to slow down you can tweak your plan to help revive progression. Ways to progress carbohydrate cycling…

  1. change the amount and order of low/medium/high days you do
  2. change the amount of carbohydrates you eat on low/medium/high days depending on your goals
  3. increasing calorie expenditure from exercise.

There are a variety of progressions available to you when looking to keep progressing. But as with every diet, remember not to use all your tools at once. Little changes over a long period of time will see greater long term results.


Justin Bland
Facebook Justin Bland Fitness 
YouTube Justin Bland
Instagram @jbland21
Twitter @blandjustin
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MASS Society Awards Winners

The annual society awards dinner went down a treat, literally. No one was holding back as celebrated an amazing year by super-setting meal after meal, noodles with chicken with cheesecake with chocolate fudge to name a few. Many reached failure early on, but determined to reach the end we incorporate rest pause, drop sets and other techniques into the workout to get the last drops of ice cream down the tank.


MASSAwards (2 of 38)

Things got emotional in the awards ceremony as David Bissell pulled out some unrehearsed superstar speeches before he was bicep curled by our female athlete of the year, Cari Davies. Cardiff University took the most prestigious award of society of the year for oustanding achievements that were illustrated in a 7,000 word nomination form. A couple of the Cardiff team (who shall remain unnamed) then proceeded to knock back their beverages and provide the nights entertainment as we hit Leicester town.


MASSAwards (22 of 38)

Thanks to everyone who travelled from far and wide to be at the awards and thanks to all of the awards sponsors for providing £1000 worth of prizes.

We proudly present to you your 2015 MASS Society awards winners…


Society of the year

To recognise the most outstanding society. Sponsored by Log it or Lose it.


  • Loughborough University
  • University of Leicester
  • Cardiff University

Awarded to:

Cardiff University


President of the year

To recognise the most outstanding president. Sponsored by Protein Dynamix

  • Sam White, University of Leicester
  • Shaun Howell, Cardiff University
  • Adam James, Exeter University

Awarded to:

Sam White, University of Leicester


MASS Games University Champions

Awarding the highest scoring University in the MASS Games. Sponsored by Log it or Lose it.

Awarded to:

Loughborough University

Runners up: Cardiff University, Bournemouth University


Male Student Athlete of the Year

Awarding the highest scoring male athlete in the MASS Games. Sponsored by Frontline Fitness.

Awarded to:

Zib Atkins, Northampton University

Runner up: Will Harding


Female Student Athlete of the Year

Awarding the highest scoring female athlete in the MASS Games. Sponsored by Frontline Fitness.

Awarded to:

Cari Davies, Cardiff University

Runner up: Catherine Smith


Committee of the year

To recognise the most outstanding committee. Sponsored by Coconoil.

  • University of Exeter
  • Cardiff University
  • University of Reading

Awarded to:

University of Reading


Event of the year

To recognise the most outstanding society event. Sponsored by Muscle Treats.

  • ‘Stand up for War Children’, Charity event, Cardiff University
  • Max Bench Press Competition, University of Bristol
  • Zyzz Themed social, Loughborough University

Awarded to:

‘Stand up for War Children’, Charity event, Cardiff University


Collaboration of the year

To recognise the most outstanding collaboration between two societies. Sponsored by Nutripak.

  • USN Seminar, Leicester University and DeMontfort University
  • BodyPower Trip, University of Bristol and Oxford Brookes University

Awarded to:

BodyPower Trip, University of Bristol and Oxford Brookes University


Fastest growing society

To recognise the fastest growing society. Sponsored by Shakesphere.

  • University of Reading
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of Bristol

Awarded to:

University of Bristol


StudyFit writer of the year

To recognise the most creative and hard working StudyFit writer. Sponsored by Branded Ego.

  • Emma Pudge, University of Exeter
  • Shaun Howell, Cardiff University
  • Adam James, University of Exeter

Awarded to:

Emma Pudge, University of Exeter


Club member of the year

To recognise the most enthusiastic and inspiring club member.

  • Paul Wilson, University of Leicester
  • Philippe Rodriquez, Loughborough University
  • Nicolo Bertoncello, Cardiff University

Awarded to:

Paul Wilson, University of Leciester


Coach of the year

To recognise the most supportive society coach.

  • Will Harding, Loughborough University
  • David Crole, Cardiff University
  • Chris Langford, Oxford Brookes University

Awarded to:

Will Harding, Loughborough University


Alumni of the year

To award the alumni who has shown the most dedication to helping MASS’s development.

  • Chuk Uzowuru
  • Stephen Olagoke
  • Sarah Catford

Awarded to:

Chuk Uzowuru


Gym of the year

To recognise the most supportive gym or training facility

  • The Warehouse Gym, Leicester
  • Loughborough Powerbase Gym
  • Strength & Conditioning Centre, Cardiff University Sport

Awarded to:

The Warehouse Gym, Leicester


Sponsor of the year

To recognise our most dedicated sponsor/advertiser

  • USN – Ultimate Sponsors Nutrition
  • BodyPower
  • GymShark

Awarded to:

USN – Ultimate Sports Nutrition


Students Union of the year

To recognise the most supportive students union

  • Leicester Union
  • Cardiff Athletic Union
  • UEA Students Union

Awarded to:

Leicester Union


Media Contributor

To recognise the most supportive media outlet

  • LUST – Leicester University Student Television
  • STTV – Sean Thompson Television
  • The Tab

Awarded to:

LUST – Leicester University Student Television


MASS Society Awards 2015

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Soicety Awards £1000 Prize Fund!!!

Yep, you read correctly… the value of all of our awards adds up to a staggering £1000! The MASS Awards ceremony is our end of year highlight to reward the student groups and individuals that have worked the hardest and achieved the most. So it’s only right that we have an AWESOME array of prizes lined up for all the winners, thank you to all of our amazing sponsors who have donated great prizes for the winners and offered student discounts for members.


1. Society of the Year

To recognise the most outstanding society

Sponsored by:


logitorloseit Gym-Front-CoverGym-days


For Distraction free logging of your workout it’s time to go old school and leave your phone out of the gym. Log it or Lose its books don’t ring, buzz or vibrate. You can’t even take a selfie with them. But they are awesome for logging your progress in the gym and helping you stay focussed.



2. MASS Games University Champions

Awarding the highest scoring University in the MASS Games

Sponsored by:





For Distraction free logging of your workout it’s time to go old school and leave your phone out of the gym. Log it or Lose its books don’t ring, buzz or vibrate. You can’t even take a selfie with them. But they are awesome for logging your progress in the gym and helping you stay focussed.



3. President of the Year

To recognise the most outstanding president

Sponsored by:



  • DynaPro Anytime 1.2kg – Contains more protein than any other blend in the UK
  • DynaBar box of 12 bars – Officially voted the UK’s Best tasting protein bar
  • Dynamo – The Most extreme Pre workout to hit the UK
  • All New Protein Dynamix Shaker bottle
  • All New Protein Dynamix Technical T-Shirt

Protein Dynamix are offering you a 20% DISCOUNT on all products using code ‘MASS20’ at WWW.PROTEINDYNAMIX.COM 


4. Male and Female Athletes of the Year

Awarding the highest scoring male and female athletes

Sponsored by:


New Logofrontline03-600x600 elite-leggings-red-600x600


Established in October 2013, Frontline Apparel’s aim is to make those little things count, attention to detail, exceptional customer service and they even offer the option of creating your own Frontline Apparel look with a huge range of garment and print colours to choose from making sure everything fits you and you’re taste.

Frontline are offering you a 10% DISCOUNT on all apparel using code ‘MASS10’ at WWW.FRONTLINEFITNESS.CO.UK


5. Fastest Growing Society

To recognise the fastest growing society

Sponsored by:




The worlds first hemisphere shaker bottle. The ShakeSphere has been specifically designed to provide optimum mixing and supplement delivery in a multi-purpose vessel. Its unique pill shape reduces supplement accumulation and creates a dynamic environment for a superior mix without the need for a ball or a grid. 99.9% of the supplement mix is consumed meaning less waste for the bottle to smell after use.

Shakesphere are offering you a 10% DISCOUNT on all shakers using code ‘MASS10’ at WWW.SHAKESPHEREPRO.COM 


6. Committee of the Year

To recognise the most outstanding committee

Sponsored by:


coconoil_logo (2)coconut oil


Coconoil Virgin Coconut Oil was established in the wake of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami as a new revenue source for the Sri Lankan economy. Their virgin coconut oil is ethically produced from the finest coconuts in Sri Lanka. Using traditional methods of production Coconoil™ contains all of the healthy qualities of this completely natural and unique oil.

Coconoil are offering you a 15% DISCOUNT until July 31st using code ‘MASS15’ at


7. Event of the Year

To reward the best society event

Sponsored by:




Muscle Treats Protein Bites are gorgeous bite size protein bars loaded with over 7.3 grams of protein. With 30 bites individually wrapped, these are perfect snack for when you’re craving that treat, made with 100% natural flavours and healthy ingredients.


8. Collaboration of the Year

Awarding the best collaboration between two societies

Sponsored by:


nutripaknutripak chickennutri pak beef


Nutripak is the perfect workout partner. These ready to eat meals can be munched down hot or cold… When your body needs protein the most. Keep it in your gym locker, desk draw or kitchen cupboard. With a fork inside they’re so convenient for when you’re hungry and need 38g of protein. Nutripak’s are available in three great tasting flavours – pinapple chicken, lean beef chilli and chicken curry.



9. StudyFit Writer of the Year

Awarding our best hardworking and talented writer

Sponsored by:




Branded Ego has an attitude and powerful identity but doesn’t need to be boisterous, shout or in your face to attain this. Our clothing achieves this by reputation, style and desirability. At no stage is substance sacrificed for style and yet style is of paramount consideration throughout the whole design and manufacture process.



10. Member of the Year

To award the member who made the most outstanding achievements

Sponsored by:


MASS LOGO_Script_RED IMG_0566 IMG_1368


MASS Stash is the best in student fitness wear. Allowing you to represent the fasting growing student fitness community and show that your part of the movement, the MASS movement.

We’re offering you a 20% DISCOUNT until  9pm on Sunday 7th to celebrate the MASS Awards. Use code  ‘MASS20’ at WWW.THEBODYMASS.ORG/SHOP


11. Coach of the Year

To award the most supportive society coach

Sponsored by:


MASS LOGO_Script_RED IMG_0566 IMG_1368


MASS Stash is the best in student fitness wear. Allowing you to represent the fasting growing student fitness community and show that your part of the movement, the MASS movement.

We’re offering you a 20% DISCOUNT until  9pm on Sunday 7th to celebrate the MASS Awards. Use code  ‘MASS20’ at WWW.THEBODYMASS.ORG/SHOP


12. Alumni of the Year

To award the alumni who has shown the most dedication to helping MASS’s development.

Sponsored by:

MASS LOGO_Script_RED IMG_0566 IMG_1368


MASS Stash is the best in student fitness wear. Allowing you to represent the fasting growing student fitness community and show that your part of the movement, the MASS movement.

We’re offering you a 20% DISCOUNT until  9pm on Sunday 7th to celebrate the MASS Awards. Use code  ‘MASS20’ at WWW.THEBODYMASS.ORG/SHOP


Other awards which don’t come with prizes but come with a whole lot of respect an gratification are


13. SU of the Year

To award the most supportive Students Union


14. Gym of the Year

To award the most supportive gym or training facility

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Annual General Meeting 07/06/2015 – Agenda

MASS AGM – 07/06/15


11:30-16:00, University of Leicester, Ken Edwards Building LT2.

RSVP your attendance here:

Open to club committee members, studyfit writers, MASS Games competitors and society members only.

This meeting will consist of both a review of the academic year just gone and planning for the next academic year. We’ll look at all the different areas of MASS reviewing the current status and deciding what improvements to make moving forward. Once all areas have been looked at the attendees will decide upon a new academic year structure, objectives for the 2015/16 academic year and a collective mission statement for the organisation.

This our chance to make plans that can help thousands of students improve their health and fitness, that can take our sports to a whole new level and that will unite students nationwide to change the student stereotype. I hope to see you there.

  • General Year Review

We’ll start by giving our open views about how we feel the year has gone in general. Our best achievements and things we could have done better. We’ll take a look at reports of the numbers we’ve achieved in societies, membership, competitors, StudyFit readers and website views and what these numbers mean.

  • Members

This will be a discussion of member’s needs. What do our members want out of joining? Have they received this? What’s the main thing people join for and the action that gets them to take that step? Membership fees. How to recruit members. Member satisfaction and retention. How do we balance paid member events and open events.

  • Committees

Here we’ll examine our committee structure. What committee positions do we have and what are the roles and responsibilities of each of them. Are all the committee positions necessary and do we need to change the structure. Committee meetings, when and what topics are discussed. How do committee members communicate, what are the most effective methods, is delegation received successfully. Clubs own AGM’s and handover system.

  • Managing data, files and emails

We set out the year with a google accounts system, designed to give each society a hub of advice packs and template documents to work from as well as a calendar for events. We’ll take a look at the system, see who’s used it and if it’s been effective. A review of how we’ve managed our database and files. A discussion of ideas for a system for the next academic year.

  • Promotion and communication

A review of the ways we communicate to members and promote events. What has worked and what hasn’t. Are there more effective methods we could be using? How do we welcome and introduce members to the club, are regular updates issued, what channels to we use to announce and promote an event.

  • Training & Events – Weekly and one-offs

This is a chance for everyone to say what training & events they’ve held and discuss what worked and what didn’t. We’ll break it down into weekly and one-off events and discuss when the best times in the academic year for holding such events are.

  • Fitness and Health advice

Here we’ll discuss what advice we’ve given out in the form of advice packs, lectures, seminars and meetings. Answering the following questions. What do members want advice on? What is the average level of knowledge across our members? What should we be advising them on and when? How does the advice given entwine with training & events?

  • The Sports

Bodybuilding, Powerlifting, Olympic Weightlifting, Strongman, CrossFit. What is the ratio of popularity and participation across them? Are we neglecting a particular sport or missing any completely? How should they entwine with society activities? Are we happy with our affiliated federations and should we aim to affiliate any of our unaffiliated sports.

  • Editorial content – Online and StudyFit Magazine

This area of the meeting is a chance to take a complete look at the editorial content we publish – both online and in StudyFit magazine. We’ll also discuss the frequency of StudyFit magazine, the split between print and online versions and a strategy for advancement.

  • MASS Games

Are we happy with our program of competitions? What are the flaws and where can we make improvements? Is the score system an accurate reflection of teams and individuals performance? What structure of regional and national competitions shall we do and what’s the best system of progression (or qualification) from one to the next? When do we want competitions to be next year and which will count towards the MASS Games. We will aim to agree provisional dates for all of the 2015/16 competitions at the AGM.

  • Clothing

Feedback on the clothing from the 2015/16 academic year and discussion of what clothing styles we’d like for the next academic year. A review of our pre-order system and times of year for making orders.

  • Sponsors

A review of our sponsors this year, who have we enjoyed having most and where have we missed out. A discussion of what we’d like from sponsors next year. We’ll take a look at the different levels of sponsorship – national sponsors and local club sponsors and discuss the best strategy for keeping our value as a membership entity high enabling us to get the most out of sponsorship.

  • Gyms and training facilities

A look at the club relationships at gyms and training facilities. Discussing where we’ve been supported and where it’s been hard to get backing. We’ll discuss University gyms in particular to see if there’s a way we can collaborate to increase our membership base and build strong relations.

  • Finances

Managing club funds. What’s everyone’s financial situations been like. What are we spending the most money and where can we save money. A discussion of University funding and where the most success has been had. How best to raise funds and what are the best things to allocate cash to. Should we aim to invest in club equipment.

  • Affiliated clubs

More and more non MASS-branded club start-ups are affiliating with us. There’s clubs for CrossFit specifically, some ‘strength-sports’ clubs and weightlifting and barbell clubs.  Do they have a central approach? Can we help them by offering them affiliation?

  • Feedback Survey

Based on the discussions up to this point in the meeting what questions do we need to put in a member feedback survey to get the feedback required to make sure all our plans match members needs.

  • Competitions

Here we’ll look at the non-sporting competitions. Such as fitness challenges, transformation challenges, cooking competitions and similar things. How can we use these to reward members and attract new members?

  • Reward Schemes

It’s only recently that MASS has established a society tier system with targets to give clubs a guide as to what they can aim for. We’ve also enabled an affiliate system on the website for clothing sales. In this part of the meeting we’ll look at how we can reward clubs and committee members for hitting targets.

  • National and Regional volunteer positions

More positions will become available to contribute to MASS activities on a national scale. Here we’ll look at what positions are needed and the process for recruiting and managing them. Positions may include writers, online content formatters, competition organisers, regional society reps.

  • Website

A review of the current website and suggestions for improvements. What new capabilities will be required to service all that’s been discussed in the meeting up to this point.

  • Limitations for MASS

A quick look at where MASS HQ has struggled running events and facilitating growth. Ideas on how we plan to tackle this moving forward.

  • Our Vision

What do we, collectively, want to achieve in the long run. Where do we see the organisation in 1 year, 3 years and 5 years.

  • The Brand

A review of the MASS brand. The brand name itself and the branding. Is it a good representative of our vision moving forward? Are changes needed or not.

  • Strategies for Growth

A discussion of ways to trigger large scale growth and help more students

  • Year structure

Here we’ll agree on a provisional academic year structure based on discussions in the meeting.

  • Objectives for 2015/16

What are our objectives for 2015/16. What do we need to achieve between now and the national society training meeting in September 2015.

  • Mission Statement

To finish the meeting all attendees will give their input to create a mission statement for the club. Our mission statement will represent our beliefs and form the basis on which all decisions are made.

David Bissell
Founder & Director

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Shopping on a Student Budget

Shopping on a student budget is all about common sense. It’s very simple. The key is organisation and sacrifice. Being smart and thinking before you act. Planning ahead in order to not find yourself with an empty fridge. Don’t give into peer pressure, just because the house is ordering a pizza it doesn’t mean you have to get involved…. Leave them to munch their circle of grease in front of the TV while you snack have a bowl of Greek yoghurt and nuts as you get tomorrow’s assignment done. Prioritise quality food over expensive spirits and ‘procrastination foods’ and you’ll feel a whole lot better about yourself. There is a choice here between buying her a drink at vodka revolution or seducing her with a salmon tagliatelle, for less that £10.


To make shopping more cost-effective, organise your groceries into three categories. Fruit and veg, meat and the rest (whole grains, rice, oils, dried fruit, nuts, dairy)

  • Fruit and veg; Find a local market, where everything is usually ‘‘a pound a bowl’’. You’ll get x3 more bang for your buck at a market than in the supermarket. Markets are also great for bargaining quality fresh herbs such as mint, coriander, thyme, garlic, onion and lemons that are all expensive in the grocery stores. If you use these everyday in your cooking, buying them individually can equate over time. A trick is to go in the last hour of the day where you can definitely bargain for a buck!
  • Meats; If you have a few keen gym buddies or house mates, save money by going to the quality local butcher as a group, you’ll be surprised how much discount the butchers will offer if you buy a large amount of meat. By all chipping into a big order of chicken breast you’ll get that price per kg right down. Even if you buy in bulk on your own 9 times out of 10 it’ll still workout as better value for money than the supermarket. Similarly to meat, your local fishmonger will have great quality and variety of seafood. There are always plenty of offers in the fishmonger. Buying whole fish is cheaper, and the guy wearing the silly hat will always clean and cut the fish for you. Become a regular and take your friends, and watch the loyalty discount appear! Make sure to freeze the excess, as you don’t want to confuse the flatmates with an organised but reeking fridge.
  • The Rest; Aldi is King! It is excellent quality and value for money. If you don’t have an Aldi near you then look for the nearest value supermarket. Buy the supermarkets own brand of dairy and the largest containers you can carry of the stuff that doesn’t go off. Alternatively, Amazon can be a great shout for buying large bulk bags of rice, nuts, dried fruits and the like and as it’s delivered it saves you from a torturous journey home carrying it all on your back!

Nutritious food doesn’t have to taste plain, adding flavour and variety to meals is simple. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the huge selection of fresh herbs and good quality spices that are available. Buy a few healthy carb sources such as basmati rice, wholemeal pasta and couscous in bulk and use them interchangeably. Have meat sources that you use continuously then save room to vary one or two meals week by week.

Other than fresh fruit and veg which should be bought at least once a week, the idea is to bulk bulk bulk and occasionally, treat yourselves to a 13 oz. steak or a pound of king prawns, be it for your own pleasure or to keep your mum happy when she comes to visit. Start taking advantage of the loan drop at the beginning of term to invest bulk, this will A) mean you never run out of chicken, and B) give you a well needed newsflash that you can’t spunk all of your cash on fresher’s week club nights.

Sports Supplements

You should consider a few points before clicking buy in your shopping cart! There is no need for a drastic shelf of supplements if you eat a balanced macro and micro rich diet. Avoid buying the latest mind-busting, vein popping, pump surging pre-workout every month and instead prioritize the core essentials. To help you on your way to making the right choices here’s our top student sports supplements;

  • Milk based proteins (Whey/casein); Good quality milk proteins are rich in essential amino acids (EAAS) and also posses many immune boosting effects. They also contain the greatest density of leucine, which is related to as the protein synthesis trigger. 2-3 g of Leucine is vital for triggering muscle protein synthesis. Whey is the faster digesting out of the two and due to its higher leucine content is a preferred choice for athletes to potently stimulate muscle protein synthesis during rest and post exercise.
  • Caffeine – Caffeine, a naturally occurring timethyxanthine, is the most widely used drug in the world. It is a very effective at stimulating the central nervous system (CNS). Caffeine has been shown to successfully increase performance during endurance, power and strength exercises as well as helping you burn fat cells. Even though studies have shown marginal performance enhancing improvements; the placebo of drinking a strong coffee does work wonders. Now, there is no need to waste money every day on Starbucks! Whether it comes from a good quality instant coffee or those tablets we take before exams, caffeine is a winner!
  • Creatine – One of the most widely studied supplements, creatine is found naturally in red meat and herring. Creatine has been shown to increase energy and speed up recovery and its use can lead to increased strength and lean muscle mass. In terms of it’s loading protocol, loading of 15-20g for the first 5-7 days and then a single 3-7g pulse post workout will be sufficient. Creatine monohydrate is the best form to take and is cheaper than other, ‘’improved formulas’’ that keep appearing on the market. A good tip is to mix it with lukewarm water to increase solubility. There is no reason why you should not be taking creatine, it is not dangerous at all and can add some great spark to your training!
  • Fish oils– EPA and DHA are highly unsaturated, essential fatty acids that stand for eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. Yes that is mouthful! They’re called “essential” because your body can’t produce them on its own. Omega-3s are found in fatty fish, like salmon, sardines, tuna and of course, fish oil supplements. The omega-3 fats have been shown to turn on genes that increase fat loss and decrease fat storage, increase muscle recovery and growth, decrease inflammation, and support brain and bone health. If the thought of oily fish is off putting, then fish oils are a must!
Do men and women need different supplements?

The short answer is no. On a hormonal level, men and women differ greatly and women face some unique challenges, especially when that time of the month dawns! So, yes, if we’re talking women-specific health issues then there are health supplements, vitamins and minerals that may be of more benefit to women. But if we’re talking about general health and fitness then no, all of the supplement that men typically use will also be beneficial for women.

The take home message is that supplements do as they say on the tin, they should supplement the diet not replace it!


Now go forth! And be the most cost effective student shopper the world has ever seen!


Mo Bouaziz
Facebook: Med Nutrition
Twitter @MedNutrition



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What is CrossFit?

It’s the Fitness Craze that’s sweeping the nation!

If you’re already slightly confused, asking yourself… What is CrossFit? Then we’re about to confuse you even more! But keep on reading and I promise that by the end of this feature you’ll be slightly less confused! So, CrossFit is many things… Primarily, it’s a fitness regimen developed by Coach Greg Glassman over several decades. He was the first person in history to define fitness in a meaningful, measurable way. CrossFit itself is defined as that which optimizes fitness. It’s also the community that spontaneously arises when people do these workouts together. In fact, the communal aspect of CrossFit is a key component of why it’s so effective!

MASS met with CrossFit expert and organiser of the Student Throwdown Andy “The Machine” Osborne to get to grips with the sport.

Andy has been in the fitness industry for over 15 years and has a wealth of sports science and fitness certifications and qualifications to his name. He is regarded as one of the leading and most respected personal trainers and fitness instructors in the country, and is Head Coach and affiliate owner of CrossFit Leicester.

What is CrossFit and why is it so effective?

“CrossFit “The Sport of Fitness” is constantly varied, functional exercise done with high-intensity. CrossFit unlike other fitness programmes covers all the elements of fitness: Strength, cardiovascular endurance, speed, power, flexibility, stamina, coordination, accuracy, agility and balance.

The CrossFit Program was developed to enhance an individual’s competency at all physical tasks. Our athletes are trained to perform successfully at multiple, diverse, and randomized physical challenges. This fitness is demanded of military and police personnel, fire-fighters, and many sports requiring total or complete physical prowess.
Aside from the breadth and totality of fitness, our program is distinctive, if not unique, in its focus on maximising neuroendocrine response, developing power, cross-training with multiple training modalities, constant training and practise with functional movements, and the development of successful diet strategies.”



So what sort of stuff would I do in a CrossFit workout?

“A variety of things! We train our athletes in gymnastics from rudimentary to advanced movements; garnering great capacity at controlling the body both dynamically and statically while maximising strength to weight ratio and flexibility. We also place a heavy emphasis on Olympic Weightlifting having seen this sport’s unique ability to develop an athletes’ explosive power, control of external objects, and mastery of critical motor recruitment patterns. Our athletes are trained to bike, run, swim, and row at short, middle, and long distances guaranteeing exposure and competency in each of the three main metabolic pathways. And finally we encourage and assist our athletes to explore a variety of sports as a vehicle to express and apply their fitness.”

How does a CrossFit gym differ to a regular gym or health club?

“A Crossfit gym or “box” as it’s called, has no treadmills or shiny machines, instead they contain barbells dumbbells, kettlebells, rowers, racks, rigs, jump boxes, wall balls, atlas stones, sandbags and the like. They and focus on running, rowing, skipping and bodyweight exercises. Unlike most globo gyms all of our sessions are headed by a coach to guide members through the class. A coach focus’s on good technique, good form and take the member from the basics and build’s them up from there. A good CrossFit box like CrossFit Leicester will teach members the importance of good movement patterns, good posture and being body aware.”

“At CrossFit we work exclusively with compound movements and shorter high intensity cardiovascular sessions. We’ve replaced the lateral raise with push- press, the curl with pull-ups, and the leg extension with squats. For every long distance effort our athletes will do five or six at short distance. Why? Because compound or functional movements and high intensity or anaerobic cardio is radically more effective at eliciting nearly any desired fitness result. Startlingly, this is not a matter of opinion but solid irrefutable scientific fact and yet the marginally effective old ways persist and are nearly universal. Our approach is consistent with what is practised in elite training programs associated with major university athletic teams and professional sports. CrossFit endeavours to bring state-of-the-art coaching techniques to the general public and athlete who haven’t access to current technologies, research, and coaching methods.”



What is a ‘WOD’?

“A CrossFit workout or WOD stands for Workout of the Day and is different every day to ensure randomised varied training. A box will each have their own WOD programming that promotes a well-balanced mix of metabolic conditioning, skill development and strength conditioning. A box will typically post the WOD on their website or Facebook page, including advanced-level (‘RX’d’, meaning as prescribed) weights, reps and rounds for men and women. The coaches show athletes how to scale the WOD down or up according to varying fitness and proficiency levels of those taking the class. Here are a few WOD basics that should help you get a better understanding of what it is and how it works.”

Results Driven

“CrossFit is a results driven community and record all of their workouts so that members can track their progress.  It encourages people to step outside of their comfort zone and challenge themselves to try new things.  You don’t have to be fit to do CrossFit.  CrossFit is for everyone and by taking part it will make you fit!  The workouts are tailored to your fitness level and experience and no matter how old or young you are you will gain the benefits that CrossFit has to offer.”

CrossFit Competitions

“But It doesn’t stop there, once you’re feeling fit and in the groove of things there’s plenty of opportunities to push yourself further.  CrossFit is not only a fitness regime but a sport in its own right.  Every year hold a competition in the United States to find the fittest man and woman on earth, it’s called “The CrossFit Games”, and this year the titles of fittest man and woman went to Rich Froning and Camille LeblancBazinet.  This is a worldwide competition; however you will find local CrossFit competitions run every week/month all over the UK and Europe. The Student Throwdown is the UK’s leading student competition.”


So there you have it, that’s CrossFit! To find your nearest box and get started go to


Andy Osborne
Head Coach and Affiliate Owner CrossFit Leicester and Owner of BOX HQ & Andy Osborne Fitness Personal Training Services /
Facebook: CrossFit Leicester
Twitter: CrossFitLeics


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Student Transformation – Rachael Tordoff

Name: Rachael Tordoff
University: Plymouth University
Course: Computing
Year of Study: 3rd Year

Plymouth University Computing student Rachael Tordoff, 20, transformed her body in 12 months. She took on the challenge of a lifetime when she decided ditch the PlayStation for the gym…. and this is what happened!

“I feel healthy, happy, and positive in every aspect of my life now. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”



“I remember the day, this time last year when I realised I had gone from trying to squeeze into a size 10 to suddenly not being able to fit into my size 14 jeans. When realising I was borderline a size 16. I decided at that point I had to change my entire lifestyle before it got worse.”

“The journey was long and bumpy, it wasn’t just about losing fat, I had to learn about myself and my body. I was never active growing up, I was the typical tv/gamer couch potato snacker and I didn’t even realised that I was doing it!

During my journey I started to enjoy the process, started believing in myself and actually thinking “I’ve got something here”, and so I decided I wanted to start competing to see how far I could push my body and my mind. Mr University was a great experience I want to shout out to the world and say you DON’T have to have a background of fitness to compete!”



Once I achieved my goal of being ‘bikini fitness ready’ I realised it was only the beginning. I am now training for an 85 mile cycling race and plan on doing a triathlon, something I never thought I would do and this is all because I realised how much I could push myself whilst preparing for the MASS Student Physique Championship.”

Rachael got through to the finals of the MASS SPC 2014 placing 4th and also won the highest public vote Award with 1,300 ‘Like’s on her photo.
Rachael Tordoff
Instagram @rachyhtordoff
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Ask The Academic: Martin MacDonald on Fresher Problems

MASS Spoke with Martin MacDonald to get those all important answers to some underlying Fresher Problems.

Martin is a Clinical Performance Nutritionist and founder of the UK’s Leading Consultancy for Nutrition Advice, Martin now works primarily as a the lead nutrition consultant to teams such as Derby County FC and Leicestershire CCC, organisations such as Universal Pictures and Total Greek Yoghurt and many governing bodies, including British Weight Lifting and England Swimming. The rest of Martin’s time is either spent delivering lectures and seminars both nationally and internationally or spent working with the a small number of motivated individual clients whom will benefit from his level expertise and support.


I get wasted 3-4 times a week while I’m out trying to pull fresher’s…. How detrimental is all this drinking and late nights to my health and fitness?


Fortunately the alcohol part of this question can be answered with data from actual research, however it is impossible to quantify just how much of an effect this will have. Very recent research by Parr et al (2014) studied protein synthesis in response to a protein feeding after training with and without alcohol. The amount of alcohol used in the study was enough to get you ‘wasted’ so you can take the results as being pretty valid!

The results showed that protein synthesis was significantly reduced by 24% in the group that consumed the alcohol as opposed to protein alone. The researchers concluded that “alcohol ingestion suppresses the anabolic response in skeletal muscle and may therefore impair recovery and adaptation to training and/or subsequent performance.” Previous in vivo research has also shown that baseline protein synthesis rates can still be impaired up to 24 hours after training therefore if you are binge drinking 4 times per week you could well never be recovering optimally.

Whether ‘late nights’ will have a detrimental effect is any bodies guess and will depend on other factors. Sleep is obviously important in the recovery process however the question is, would late nights be followed by waking up late and therefore getting adequate sleep? Or would the late night be followed by an early start, leading to inadequate sleep, and therefore recovery, and perhaps a substandard performance in the gym? In my opinion, and that is all it is, it is the knock on effects of inadequate sleep that would be more detrimental to progress than any specific physiological responses.


Freshers week left me with a bit of a gut so I’m trying to trim up, I asked my friend in the gym for some advice and he told me no carbs after 6, bro! Are carbs really the enemy?


Carbs are certainly not the enemy for someone who goes to the gym! More specifically, the idea that having carbohydrate after some predetermined hour of the day is more fattening than having them at some other time is a myth that has been firmly blown out of the water. ‘Cutting out carbs’ in many people does lead to a transient decrease in body fat however the reason for this is a reduction in calories, not some unique hormonal or metabolic response to eliminating carbs. Earlier in my career I would often get asked questions about ‘a quick diet for holiday’ by my fellow gym trainers; my response was often ‘stop drinking, cut the carbs’ as I knew, for the two weeks they had before holiday this would work and wouldn’t require a great deal more input. If you want to low your ‘gut’ then your best bet is to combine a decent training program with a consistent diet that manages your hunger to a level where you can eat few enough kcals to lose weight. Generally speaking, get your protein intake adequate at around 2g/kg of your bodyweight, eat plenty of green leafy vegetables at each meal and then manipulate your carb and fat intake depending on the foods you prefer to eat and the way they effect your hunger.


As you might have guessed…. I struggle with consistency! I’ll go hard on my diet for 2 weeks and begin to see results, then put it straight back on in a few days and feel shit about myself. What’s the key to maintaining a healthy diet and achieving long term results?


What a question! It’s not one that I can objectively answer but I can talk from my experiences with clients. The key might be finding a way to change your psyche away from a ‘going hard’ type mentality. If you’re after consistency then you need to make realistic changes that you can sustain OR you need to have a baseline diet that allows you to maintain your progress and then have periods of progression that can be a little more aggressive. Often having a specific goal in mind is a great incentive to keep on track; for instance booking a holiday, a photo shoot or the most motivating of all… entering yourself in a bodybuilding show! Either way, don’t do anything without an exit plan in mind and don’t be insane – expecting to do the same things you’ve done before and expecting different results.

By Martin MacDonald /
Twitter @MartinNutrition
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Training: Back to the Basics with Matt Sallis

The common mistake that beginner, and sometimes even experienced, lifters make is overthinking or overcomplicating their training. For a successful and easily tracked progressive plan it is a simple matter of manipulating the basic variables


Name: Matt Sallis
University: St Mary’s
Course: Strength & Conditioning
Year of Study: 3rd

The Basics

  • Compound exercises – a multi-joint/multi-muscle group exercise
  • Isolation exercises – a single-joint/single-muscle group exercise
  • Sets – a group of reps
  • Concentric – the lifting portion of the exercise
  • Eccentric – the returning/lowering portion of the exercise
  • Intensity – the weight at which the exercise is performed
  • Reps – ‘repetition’, one rep represents one complete movement of the exercise in question. Lower rep ranges, 1-6, tend to produce muscular strength gains. Rep range 6-12 tend to produce hypertrophic (muscular growth) gains, and higher rep ranges 15+ produce muscular endurance gains. Though specific rep ranges target different goals, this is an inter-relationship spectrum.
  • Tempo – the rate/speed in seconds at which the lift is performed. Tempo can be used to differentiate training. Quicker performing reps aim to produce speed and therefore muscular power, whilst slower performing reps are aimed at increasing time-under-tension (TUT) and therefore growth. For example, a tempo of 1-0-4-0 represents the speed in seconds of each part of the lift and can be read as LIFT-NO PAUSE-RETURN-NO PAUSE (in seconds).
  • Rest intervals – the amount of rest time given between sets. Rest periods can vary and is dependent on your goal. When training for strength rest times between 2-5mins are employed to enable the lifter to recover enough to perform again at the same capacity – also the case when Power is the goal. Shorter rest times between sets, 5-90 seconds, are used to induce metabolic fatigue/lactate build up within the muscle and employed when muscle growth is your goal. Though specific rest times are designed for different goals, it is an inter-relationship spectrum.
  • Steady State Cardio – low intensity cardio usually set around <75% MHR (maximum heart rate) and for longer periods of time. It uses predominantly type1 muscle fibres (muscular endurance fibres) and some type2 and tends to be most people’s choice for targeted fat loss.
  • HIIT Cardio – High Intensity Interval Training – short bursts of intense work followed by an active recovery. Performed in shorter periods but at >75% MHR depending on ability, fitness and goal. Employs type 2a and 2x muscle fibres, spares muscle wastage and although isn’t as effective at acutely utilising fat stores for fuel it has a prolonged fat-burning effect thereafter.




There are a number of factors to take into account when planning your training, the key is sticking to the basics and arranging them so that everything plays a part in working towards your goal. To help you on your way to your ideal body it’s imperative to think about these things

Planning your attack

  1. What is your goal?! Do you want to compete!? Or add 20kg onto your bench press?! Be as specific as you can.
  2. How many times a week can you train? From this you can determine your training split, you want to be hitting all muscle groups ATLEAST once a week.
  3. When would you like to achieve your goal by? This will determine the number of phases your overall plan will consist of.
  4. Do you have weak parts you need to work on? Generally you’ll want to hit these with more volume, or with specific exercises.
  5. What is your training environment? Be sure to plan your sessions so that you can actually perform them, go check your gym out first and take note of what equipment it is. This will come in handy when that times come to change things up.
  6. Choose a mixture of exercises. Generally I choose 1-2 compound exercises, and 2-4 isolation exercises for each muscle group. Sessions should start with compound movements and move into isolation work.
  7. Know your numbers! Set rep ranges, numbers of sets and rest times, which will be dependent on your goal.
  8. Plan your attack! Once you have these basics set in stone you can then go as far as to use EXCEL to plan your attack. Use each column as a new week, and the rows as an exercise – from there you can input/plan your progressions over the weeks. Alternatively there are mobile Apps that can do this.

Once and only once you’ve mastered being CONSISTENT with the above then it’s time to look at ways of upping the ante with Intensity ramping, plateau busting methods….. click here for Matt Sallis’ Plateau busting training methods

Matt Sallis
Instagram @mattsallis3
Twitter @matt_sallis
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