Interview with British Pro MMA fighter, Jamaal Lake.

With a 7-0 amateur record to his name, Jamaal Lake came onto the pro curcuit with style. Now 3 fights into his pro career with a record of 2-1, we catch up with the beast named ‘godzilla’.

EK: Hi Jamaal, firstly, many thanks for taking the time to speak to us, it’s a pleasure to have the opportunity for delve into the world of a mixed martial artist and shed valuable info to our viewers.

JL: No problem, it’s great to be part of such an awesome site!!

EK: Okay, let’s get things started. How and when did you get involved in MMA and tell us a little about your career thus far?

JL: Well, I was always into sport! But not long after leaving school I spent years eating junk food and lazing around until I found myself as a 22 stone lazy security guard eating pizza watching MMA, thinking “those guys are crazy!!” One day a friend said I should try it and I haven’t looked back since! I had my first semi pro fight in November 2008 and stormed through 7 fights, all finished in less than two minutes. I made my professional debut in June of this year beating Deivydas Banaitis (10-5-1) via submission in less than two minutes on Adrenalinfc. The following October I beat the fellow undefeated Scotsman, Rab Truesdale, via submission (again in under two minutes) on cage warriors, which was aired live on premier sports.

With so much success I made the fatal mistake of becoming complacent, so when I had a shot at the vacant Bushido European heavyweight title my preparation was minimal, and after a grueling 15 minute war with a very tough and strong polish heavyweight, I lost by a unanimous decision. I gassed majorly trying to finish the fight as quickly as possible and he coasted his way to what some call an unfair decision but I make no excuses he did what he had to. It will NEVER happen again!

EK: Sounds like a great start to a career, even with some tough lessons learnt early on! You have made my next question a bit redundant but ill ask it anyway…Who has been your toughest opponent so far?

JL: Yea definitely Daniel Omielanczuk, the polish guy I lost to. I honestly believe my skill set was better than his but he just had a little more in the tank than I did that night and he’s the only guy to ever take me to a decision !! (Despite surviving the beating I gave him in the first round!!)

EK: Fair play to him for surviving the beating, I know from even when you were a youngster you packed a punch! Anyway, following on the discussion about opponents, are there any other fighters out there in particular that you would like to have a match up with?

JL: I’ll fight whoever they put in front of me to be honest. The U.K. heavyweight pool is pretty shallow at the moment. Even at the semi pro level I was smashing pros.

EK: Ha ha nice! Let’s get down to training. Strength/power, conditioning, mobility and pre-hab work are all essential to athletes. How do you find the optimal blend of all these components in your training programme?

JL: It’s very difficult to be honest. I have a young family and was unfortunately made redundant earlier this year. I decided to make the leap and begin training full time. But as you can imagine as a pro just starting it’s very difficult to cover the bills… the punch bag doesn’t pay you! Since the loss I aim to do my metabolic conditioning three mornings a week, strength training twice a week and use all other slots for technique drills and sparring. That said, if the odd couple days of work comes I have to take it. At times keeping on top of my daughter’s nursery bills are a killer!!

EK: Wow some heavy commitments but just as much drive to overcome and succeed it seems! Keep on your grind and soon these tough days will be a memory to chuckle about! Following on, outline for us what your current training schedule looks like.

JL: Monday – AM metabolic conditioning PM – mma/grappling.

Tuesday – AM at home PM – combo training or BJJ

Wed – metabolic conditioning & combos PM – wrestling & cage control

Thurs – combo & strength work PM – MMA/grappling.

Fri – rest.

Sat – metabolic conditioning PM – strength or BJJ.

Sun – rest

EK: When it comes to preparing for a fight, how does your training tailor to enable you to peak at the right time?

JL: This is a new aspect as before I just trained and fought but now I’m taking it a lot more seriously. My metabolic conditioning consists of 5x5minute rounds with one minute rest. Every week 15 seconds is knocked off the rest time until shortly before the fight I’m doing 25 minutes work with no rest. When I have this level of conditioning surviving 15 minutes with 3 minutes rest in the ring is a breeze! In terms of resistance training, about a month before the fight the focus is heavily on power over strength, but the sessions are finished with heavy sled pulls and rope work as not to loose my muscular endurance.

EK: Well it certainly appears that the strength training is in order judging by this video you have supplied us with!

EK: Okay, on to nutrition. What would the average day look like in terms of food for ‘Godzilla’?

JL: I was given a strict diet for my pro debut. Breakfasts were porridge with protein or lean omelets with a wholemeal bagel. Lunches were chicken with brown rice or sweet potato. Dinners were chicken or turkey with vegetables, red meat once a week and oily fish twice a week with a high calorie meal replacement and fruit in between meals. I felt a bit too light for that fight so since then I’ve been adding a few more carbs in the evenings and that was when I brought the weight training into the picture.

That said, I don’t usually have to cut weight per say. I decide what sort of weight I wish to fight at based on how I feel at that weight and what my opponent weighs in at.

EK: Recovery, as with all sports, is a massive part of MMA, both from the demands of the exercise and the physical wounds from combat. What does your recovery protocol look like in the immediate aftermath of a fight, in order to get you ready to hit training again as soon as possible?

JL: It depends on my mentality, as I said, I rarely got out of two minutes so more often than not I would just take a week off for some junk food and family time or get straight back to it. After my last fight I had a few bumps but I put my body through total exhaustion so when I went back to the gym on the Monday it was a bit soon but I’m back in the swing of things now. I know for next time that if I go the distances to simply take a few extra days off and start back in the gym with nothing to extreme.

EK: At Elite Kinetics we are big on inspiration. Who was and or is your biggest inspiration?

JL: I think watching Fedor  Emelianenko inspired me the most but now I’m a student of the game, every fight I watch, I am inspired by and learn from.

EK: High level sport and training is taxing and often involves the athlete to endure a certain level of pain. As an MMA fighter you regularly have to deal with facing pain and intimidation from opponents. What practices do you adopt to mentally prepare for a combat scenario?

JL: I think the best thing to do is focus on what you are about to do to your opponent instead of what he can do to you. That way you don’t have any intimidating thoughts in your head. The anxiety of what can happen to you is what causes the adrenalin dump. Usually I handle it well but in my last fight I felt like a weak old man when that bell rang!

EK: Selective attention and optimal cue utilisation is key to the success in all sports. During a fight what goes through your head and how do you focus on only the relevant bits of information needed to beat you opponent and not get overwhelmed?

JL: If I’m totally honest I couldn’t tell you what I’m thinking it’s literally as simple as action and reaction until someone’s action finishes the fight! I can’t tell you any thoughts that I have had really during a fight. The training just kicks in and its autopilot until the fight ends.

EK: Right, let’s look to the future. Outline for us your future goals, thinking both short term and long term.

JL: I want to get to the top of the sport and beat both the best domestic and international fighters until I’m holding every recognized title around. That’s it in my opinion there is no point competing if you don’t plan to conquer it all, and I will.

EK: Nice! Very true words. For any of our readers out there who are interested in starting MMA or maybe just those who wish to stay up to date with MMA in the UK, are there any particular websites/forums/online communities that are useful?

JL: Well, the ‘cage warriors’ forum is very current and is the best website around for exclusives, interviews and information. ‘Born to be fitness’ is an online magazine similar to Men’s Health but specific to MMA.

EK: Well, you gave us some awesome stuff there! Once again, thank you for taking the time to speak with us and we wish you the best of luck in the future. We look forward to following your progress in MMA, and hopefully we will see you on the big screen soon! Before you go please feel free to give any shout outs that you may have!

JL: Thanks having me I’m a great fan of your work! I’d like to thank everyone at the Combat Sports Academy and everyone who has showed me support and had faith in me, In particular, my coaches Lee Johnstone and Lee page as well as all my training partners.

A mention of my sponsors:

Solo Supplements offer great quality and affordable supplements as well as nutrition advice. The Better Body Shop is an awesome strength and conditioning facility who have written out some of my training programmes. The Injury Therapist is a fantastic Sports Physio Therapist and Sweet Sweat offer great tools for weight cutting or warming up muscles.


Interview with John Hamson, Junior British Powerlifting Record Holder

John Hamson is a superb rising talent in the powerlifting community. Aged only 20, he is still a Junior yet boasts lifts than many seniors aspire to! Recently crowned the holder of 3 Junior British records in powerlifting, John still has 2 and a half years as a Junior to go to further this immense feat!

EK: John, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Firstly, congratulations on your recent performance in the South Yorkshire Open. Now, I know the readers are dying to know already so why don’t you put them out of their despair and tell us what your lifts were on the day and what records you set.

JH: Hello, no worries and thanks. My lifts were 330kg on the squat which was a British record, 230kg on the bench which was a British record and 292.5kg on the deadlift which took the total record which is now 852.5kg.

EK: Very Impressive to say the least. Ok, let’s rewind a few years. Tell us when it all began. When was it that you first became interested in lifting weights?

JH: It all began at the age of 12. My brother had a weight set with a bench in the garage and I started experimenting with various lifts, when I got to 14/15 I had out grown the equipment that was in the garage so we updated the equipment and bought a rack and a Olympic bar along with plates.

EK: Did you decide early on that you wanted to power lift or did you rather stumble across it along your  route of progression in the weight room?

JH: I stumbled across it when I started training my goals were to simply get stronger and bigger, I was always an active individual; did cross country running, played football, rugby, swimming, boxing and also did my own training so you could say my GPP was high!

EK: There are a lot of readers out there who are thinking about competing at a meet for the first time. Tell us about your first meet; how did you find out about entering and indeed preparing for it?

JH: My first meet was terrible I had not long turned 16 and I was keen to impress but my openers were too high I didn’t know the commands properly, but fortunately I didn’t bomb – I totalled 510kg. I researched the different federations and decide that the GBPF was the best for myself.

EK: What advice would you give to a new lifter entering his/her first meet in light of your experience?

JH: Do your research, know what the rules/commands are before you enter and train the way your gonna compete. Don’t be sloppy with your technique in the gym as it will fall apart when you get on the platform. I have been to many comps where people fail their first lift and then come back into the warm up room saying I did that for 5reps in the gym no one cares! Check your ego at your first comp get your first lifts on the board and get in the game. Your not in the comp until you pull your first deadlift.

EK: Are there any forums out there that you use or know off that you would recommend to both new and experienced lifters, looking to further their knowledge and experience in powerlifting?

JH: I use the GBPF forum and the sugden barbell forum, both have some good info on. I also log my training on both sites so check it out!

EK: A lot of powerlifters dabble in strongman competitions and visa versa. Is this something you have considered or have indeed done?

JH: Yeah I have competed in one strongman comp this year it was the midland U105 qualifier. The reason I did this was because it was held at the same gym were I train. I will be doing the same qualifier in 2012 as its something different from the norm but I will actually train for it this time.

EK: So, powerlifting or strongman, which one do you prefer?

JH: Easy question – Powerlifting

EK: OK, let’s talk training. How do you like to split up your training?

JH: I train 3-4 times a week, I squat three to four times a week, bench three times a week & deadlift twice a week & perform assistance movements when needed. Pretty much all my squatting is to a box – I use three different heights 15.5”, 13.5” and 12”. At the minute I am dabbling with heavy band tension.

EK: Maxing out too often is a major failing in many lifters training, yet we know that to be pushing those numbers up you need to test new water at some point. Where do you feel the balance lies?

JH: Good question! There’s nothing wrong with failing a lift, as long you know why you have failed it, whether it’s your teckers or simply your not strong enough yet. When I was prepping for the South Yorkshire’s I failed three lifts in my 12 week prep I think that’s pretty good going.

EK: What is your prefered way of periodizing your training to keep those numbers going up?

JH: The majority of my training is based on linear progression. I set my myself goals of what I want to lift in a comp and I work towards that, I take each week as it comes and evaluate how the week went then base my next training week on that. I have found that this works best for my self. If there are any technique issues they can be ironed out quickly and easily. Also this allows me to mix my exercise selection up, as what I have found, is that if I create a 12week prep with numbers for every week by the time I get to the last two – three weeks and I generally pick up a injury. Resultantly I have learned to back off abit and listen to body more. I like to have freedom in my programming! 

EK: On to nutrition. Powerlifters can be a little more lenient in their diets over say, bodybuilders.  What are your ‘staples’ of nutrition as it were and give us an idea of what your diet looks like on an average training day?

JH: Average day, oats with milk and fruit smoothie, chicken & rice, then more chicken & rice, 2 pints of milk, lasagne, cereal with milk & couple of yoghurts.

Some days I will have a couple of shakes consisting of whey protein and oats.

To be honest I just try and eat as much as I can, I rarely eat fast food, sweets, chocolate etc.. I wouldn’t say my diet is great but it suits my needs.

EK: Being only 20, you are incredibly young and have an entire lifting career in front of you. Whats the big vision for John Hamson? What are you goals and ambitions?

JH: My short term goals are to win the British Juniors next year [2012] and to get selected for GBPF squads. The long term goal is to total 1000kg+.

EK: Goals that I’m sure you will achieve judging on your progress so far!

John, thank you once again for taking the time to speak with us. I feel a lot of readers out there will have benefited from hearing the words of someone who is truly climbing the ladder in the world of powerlifting. Best of luck in the future, hopefully we will see you on the world stage in the years to come!

The Jungle Gym – Interview with Ben Coker & Jamie Bolton

EK: Boys, welcome back from the Jungle Gym. From the video footage you’ve already posted we can see it was quite an experience. To kick off our interview today can you tell us – what was the most challenging aspect for each of you whilst in the ‘Jungle Gym’?
Jamie: Thanks it’s great to be back, the Jungle Gym was quite a trip to say the least! For me, the most challenging aspect was learning to forget the ‘norms’ of at home, and to have to really think outside the box. Of course, this led to its own problem and in trying to create more options very quickly I ended up with ‘paralysis by analysis’, i.e. too many options in exercise selection, from the tools I created.

So the old simple message of ‘keep it simple, stupid’, suddenly became my mantra for the trip. I honed in on the most effective movements, whatever they happened to be in each scenario, and then I hammered away at them. Why make it more complicated than it needs to be!

Ben: Food. From my experiences in the Jungle gym I found that my rough maintenance level is and or was about 3500 – 4000kcal! I say was because the heat out there will have increased my basal metabolic rate. Regardless I require a relatively large amount of kcal to keep my level of muscle mass. Give me a bar and I can keep my back growing or at the very least maintained by hitting various grip chins for volume. But without the level of nutrition…trust me its hard to keep hold of energy hungry muscle mass!

EK: Certainly, we all know how important nutrition is in this game. How was it that you actually managed to keep up some form of decent nutrition and some continuity whilst travelling?

Ben: For me I went straight to my old friend. Milk. For those of you who know me I put away milk by the litre, commonly consuming 4L of organic full fat a day. The same was true for travelling. I don’t care about what people say about dairy/ full fat milk being the devil and linked to all sorts from heart disease to diabetes…its bull. There is plenty of unbiased research out there backing me up, plus the fact I consumed 4L a day for pretty much a year and every time I get a check up I’m passed as very fit and healthy, but that’s not for today’s discussion!

No matter where you are, there is a good chance you can get milk. Its packed with vitamins & minerals and has a near perfect blend of macronutrients…and it’s cheap. So for me I sourced out milk and kept tanked up on it. Now despite what anchor man said, milk is actually  good choice at hydrating you too, and so I regularly sipped on milk as we were out and about. Feeding and coping with the heat. Win win.

Of course I didn’t just drink milk. I ate lots too. Again, for those of you who know me, I am easily pleased in the food department. ‘Boring’ foods suit me to the ground and whats even better is that they make me grow. Eggs like milk can be found in most places, are cheap and pack good macros, nutrients and kcal. Picking up eggs be they scrambled, fried or even in omelets was relatively easy and i relied on them whenever we had a chance. Oh I’m forgetting a tiny point – the cholesterol in eggs helps in your body’s testosterone production.

Jamie: One thing in particular is trying to eat like the locals do. Why? Because they can’t afford any expensive, processed food. Instead they’re eating locally grown, natural produce; and what’s more, it’s going to be incredibly full of nutrients compared to anything at home.

It’s also worth adding that if you know you’re going to be really remote like I was in Uganda, and that meat may well be extra scarce / expensive, then it might be worth taking a whey protein supplement with you, like I did with MP’s Whey Impact Blend . If you can, even bump your protein up so it’s getting close to even just 0.75g/lb it’ll make a world of difference.

EK: Jamie, you were staying in an extremely rural location whilst in Africa. Can you briefly describe the location and shed some light on your methods of training whilst there?

Jamie: I was in a place called Kanungu, in rural south-west Uganda. We’re talking dirt roads, long-drop toilets, and power for a couple hours per day (if you’re lucky). Real basics. But incredibly refreshing in looking at what you really need to live with.

As far as training went, the TRX was a great tool to bring along with me, but knowing I was in the same location for 6 weeks, I didn’t stop there. I had a local carpenter knock up a log press and 2 farmers handles, at about £9 a log. And I made a ‘Jerry Bar’ out of four 20litre jerry cans, some wood and rope.

It's amazing what you can construct very quickly in the jungle gym

The biggest adjustment was to using fixed loading, be it bodyweight or the logs. In other words, no ramping up. This lack of loading was a problem, at first. Then I adapted and worked around it. Bodybuilding techniques like pre and post-exhaust made an appearance, and working in a circuit fashion worked very well too. Most of all, I really attacked my conditioning, the one thing that can always be improved.

EK: Give us an example of the most improvised bit of training equipment used in the ‘Jungle Gym’

Ben: Whilst in Cambodia we travelled to Sihanoukville and there we found a nice secluded beach. That being great in itself (as we could avoid the street sellers) we actually stumbled across a piece of drift wood in the form of a log/branch. Being the opportunists and training fanatics we instantly interpreted this object of a sled! Out came the TRX straps and so the training began. An improvised yet extremely easy way to get a workout done. Below is a compilation we made of various exercises we performed with this drift wood sled…

EK: What factors in your improvised training do you feel were important in enabling you to keep your strength levels so high and even improve in some cases?

Jamie: For me, it was all about drilling my conditioning, when my conditioning steps up, good things really seem to happen. On top of that, I followed Ben’s advice and zoned in on accumulating some volume in my training to make up for the lack of loading, and this seemed to make a world of difference.

Ben: My goals were more geared to keeping good shape and muscle mass as opposed to my strength levels. I knew from experience that what strength I may lose, I would gain back quickly when I got regular access to a gym back home. That aside I did employ a few tactics into my training that I feel helped keep my strength levels so high.

Firstly, If I found a gym with adequate poundage, I made a point of making the first compound of either my upper push, upper pull or leg day, heavy. Make the most of the heavy weights if you find them and pile on the volume after.

Secondly, I lifted explosively on every rep. This is something I do regardless but I feel its effectiveness came to light whilst I was away. By trying to explode through the lift you serve to keep your CNS firing and not let it get sluggish and lazy. I even incorporated heavy rock shot puts In Sihanoukville as a method of keeping my pressing movement patterns firing.

EK: You mentioned making the most of any gyms you could whilst travelling. What type of access to gyms did you actually have?

Jamie: In Africa, none. It was all about what I was able to create from the local environment, or use my bodyweight to accomplish. Africa was hard work in that respect, but being pushed to think outside of the box, it really made me think about what was ‘necessary’ and what was more ‘nice to have’ but not ‘need to have’. It got better in Asia, just about.

Ben: In Thailand (bangkok) there were a few of the big ‘health spa’ gyms about so whenever we passed through Bangkok (twice minus the day we left) we hit one of them and made the most.

In Laos, Cambodia and the rest of Thailand we found a few gyms, all pretty spartan, some better than others though. It became all about going back to basics and trying to get the best out of the bad gyms and making the most of the gyms that were, well, actually gyms!

EK: How did you make the most of, lets say, one of the better gyms, in the instances you happened to stumble across one?

Jamie: In short, we nailed it. We both did some pretty sadistic levels of volume and pushed ourselves to the brink. But hey, we never knew when the next ‘good’ gym would turn up. You make the most of those days to put some extra work ‘in the bank’ to make up for when you can’t.

Ben: As Jamie said volume is crucial and I harked on to him a fair bit about it. When travelling around you don’t necessarily know the next time you going to have any opportunity to train. For me this lead to one sensible solution…beat the hell out of the muscles your training in each session. Forget stimulating and not annihilating…I obliterated the muscles and gave myself the luxury of needing a whole week to recover! It simply means you have to train less often.

Being relatively unaccustomed to volume training, Jamie actually put on body mass by adopting this principle into parts of his training. I think he secretly thanks me for it but he won’t admit it.

EK: Conversely, when posed with a ‘sub standard’ gym should we say, how did you make the most of what was their to ensure an adequate training effect?

Jamie: By not using any of it! Unless you’re giving me a rack, or even just a barbells and some plates, I may as well make the most of my bodyweight and the TRX instead. There’s no point in using something sub-standard when you’ve already got a very versatile piece of kit with you at all times – yourself.

Ben: In Hue we found a ‘gym’ that looked like something pre pumping iron. A barely functioning relic of the past. Despite visiting that place all I used in there was the pull down frame to perform 20 sets of 10 pull ups…I told you It’s all about the simple things that work and the volume! Here is a clip of that infamous place…


EK: Jamie, you managed to actually put on muscle mass whilst away. Could you attribute this to any particular aspect of your training whilst away?

Jamie: Sure. For a start, I really had to dabble into high rep ranges. I can’t remember the last time I went above 8 reps before I left, apart from the odd widowmaker squat. Suddenly, 15 reps became low. That and keeping the diet in check and bam, I grew. Simple really!

EK: Ben, coming from a bodybuilding background and being a ‘big guy’, did your approach to training in the Jungle Gym differ from Jamie’s in anyway?

Ben: The biggest difference was in the food. I needed more. I train following a bodybuilders approach though and Jamie that of pure strength. Resultantly my volume was higher still than Jamie’s. Its the way I like to train and I am accustomed to it. Being at a relatively high level of development I find that I require that extra volume to keep such muscle mass and fullness. I also hit isolation or accessory movements a lot more after my main lifts. Again its a volume issue but also aesthetics. For example, with shoulders, I put a lot more side lateral, upright row and reverse fly movements into my workouts what ever way I could whereas Jamie was pretty much content on the main pressing and pulling movements. I went out my way to get extra work done and resultantly my workouts were longer.

EK: From your experience what pitfalls do you feel potentially await any future travellers?

Jamie: Expecting to do too much. I set out with this glorified idea of doing nearly daily bodyweight activity. Didn’t last for long. You have to remember that you’re away travelling and there to enjoy it. So it’s important to be minimalist in both your expectations and your approach. By the end I was training just 2 days per week. And I got on just fine.

Ben: I agree with Jamie and we spoke of this matter frequently when out there. Stressing out will only serve to reduce your Testosterone levels and ramp up your cortisol levels. The mechanics are to long winded to delve into here but essentially your body only has a finite ability to make testosterone or cortisol (via the conversion of cholesterol and in turn pregnenolone). As one goes up the other goes down. Keep the cortisol (stress) down by getting the weight of not leading the perfect training life off your back. Every little helps. Plus as Jamie said, you are here to life live and experience the world. After all what’s 6 weeks out of your whole life?

EK: In hindsight, could you have better prepared yourself for a length time away? Or put another way, are there any things a traveller could do in the build up to going away that would help them on the road?

Jamie: I’m not sure I could have prepared any better, as part of the experience is that it’s a vast unknown quantity. The one thing I’d say that is important though, is to start thinking about it in advance and how you’ll approach it. In other words, if you’ve got minimal training time, what are your real bang for buck, go-to exercises. And what do you do if the equipment isn’t there. What’s your back up plan? With that in mind, it might be worth investing some time into reading up on advanced bodyweight movements, as you might need them a lot.

Ben: One tactic that I use often before going away is purposefully ‘overreaching’ as its technically known. I up my training volume and intensity the couple of weeks prior to going away, reaching a point of mild over training. This means that when I go away, I can actually not train for a week to two weeks and still be supercompensating (diet dependant). In the case here that equates to a third of my time away!

I would also like to address the issue of flexibility and being able to let the mind broaden to different training practices, as when your on the road you ARE going to have to do things that aren’t in your normal training. If you are not mentally prepared this can be stressful. Knowing you will have to adapt and then thinking about how you can do that before hand lessens the blow when your presented with less than ideal conditions. It also means that you can get training done instead of being left scratching your head or worse, giving up and not training!

EK: As a final take home for our readers, If you could ‘coin’ the principles of how to train whilst on the road or away from mainstream training, how would you do so in as few words as possible?

Jamie: Think outside the box, use the local environment to your advantage, and most of all – enjoy it!

Ben: In true Coker style…Basics. Volume. Milk.

The Way of The Rhino – by Ben Coker

Whilst watching South Africa play in the Rugby World Cup over the weekend, I was once again in awe of the strength of the Bok pack in the contact areas. These boys love the ‘bosch’. Indeed It appears they are indoctrinated into that way of playing.

With this in mind, I was reminded of an epic story a good friend of mine told me a few years back about the time he, as an aspiring school boy, met ex Springbok prop and World Cup winner, Barlie Swart.

In today’s post I though I’d share the story with you (as told by my friend) and reveal Swart’s philosophy on winning and the South African approach to rugby…

It was a scorching summer afternoon in Durban, South Africa at The Natal Sharks academy. Aged 16, height 6 foot, weight 95kg. It was my first day at the camp and I had been called in for an introduction meeting with Barlie Swart (6 foot 5, 155kg ex springbok prop and world cup winner in 1995). He came out of his office to introduce himself to me in the foyer. I had never seen a bigger individual in the flesh. Almost had to see the pysio after the hand shake. 

We sat down and after a few minutes It was clear to me that Barlie was an extremely passionate gentleman. Hungry for success, in everything he did, a very proud man. We spoke for well over an hour about every aspect of rugby, my past, my strengths, weakness and dreams. 

The moment that will stick with me forever was having him look at me in the eye just before leaving his office, almost in tears through the sheer emotion and feelings he had for the subject, he said: ‘ Listen bru, life… like rugby is a battle. Rhino on the savannah fight for supremacy. The bigger, the stronger always emerges on top. Now if you are bigger and stronger than your opposite, you too will come out on top.’ He then looked me up and down and said ‘eh, how many plates can you bench? I said tentatively ‘maybe 100kg for 1. He replied, ‘ China, come to me when you can do 200 for 5…..who’s is going to turn and run?.

Who will turn and run?

Train hard. Train smart. BE STRONG.

The Economics Of Sports Nutrition – Editorial from our Nutrition Partners,




In this harsh economic climate, it seems it’s not the latest fat loss pill or miracle muscle building powder that customers are concerned with but rather the economics of sports nutrition, or put more simply ‘price’ and ‘quality.’ Looking at the rising cost of global raw materials, higher transportation costs and dramatic economic growth in India and China, we explore the various economic factors and more importantly their effect on you, your wallet and your sports supplements.    

Firstly, and generally speaking, all food is now more expensive, looking specifically at wheat and corn as an example ,both food staples have been hit hard for the past two years and experts believe it’s due to a combination of climate change, natural disasters and crop disease. ‘Eastern Europe has experienced severe drought for the past two years and has stopped exporting wheat altogether to ensure enough of a domestic supply. A disease called wheat rust UG99 has wiped out crops across Africa and is spreading to other wheat-producing countries at a rapid pace.’ (Investopedia US, 2011) Furthermore, corn is now being used to make ethanol, possibly a form of sustainable fuel, with acres of corn fields now being grown specifically to power your car and not fill your belly. This then has a knock on effect, since almost all industrialized meats are fed on corn, mainly because it is the cheapest feed available and so as the price of corn rises, so does the price of meat because of the higher input price.

Against this tough backdrop, the cost of sports supplements has also spiralled in the past two years, notably whey protein (the ingredient used in most sports protein drinks) not only because of the macro economic factors mentioned, but also due to the increasing demand from the booming sports nutrition sector which looks set to continue for years to come.

So what are customers saying? In a recent survey, asked 4,554 customers what the most important factor was when buying sports nutrition, topping the list was ‘price’ with 49% of people stating this is mainly what they look for when buying sports supplements, that’s close to 1 in 2 people. This was slightly more than the 30% of people who stated ‘high quality products,’ 3 times more than the 15% who believed ‘taste’ was the main factor and more than 6 times the 8% of people who wanted ‘easy shopping online.’

Marketing Director at Mark Coxhead says, ‘it seems the economic down turn has shifted peoples’ purchasing priorities. Now, more than ever, a far greater value is placed on true quality and value for money. Our company philosophy is to continually work with suppliers to reduce costs whilst using only the very finest quality ingredients. The fact that we are certified to ISO9001 by SGS, a UKAS accredited company, gives additional quality assurance for consumers”.

So is there light at the end of the tunnel? It seems there is, and it comes in the form of As the largest branded manufacturer of protein powders in the UK and with the added muscle of online retail giant The Hut Group (who they recently acquired they have gone against the ‘commercial grain’. They have used their bulk buying capabilities to demand even larger discounts from suppliers and sacrificed profit margins to bring the price down on their extensive range of sports supplements. All this at a time when the rest of the industry are increasing their prices. As of the 6th September, they’ve implemented price reductions across over a hundred products including some of their best-selling products like Impact Whey Isolate, Creatine Monohydrate and L Glutamine. What is more, the reductions are for exactly the same products, using the same premium grade ingredients.

For more information visit




About is Europe’s leading online sports nutrition brand and forms part of the UK’s leading multi-product, multi-website online retailer The Hut Group. Established in 2004 by Oliver Cookson, has expanded at an incredible rate, and was recently ranked 21st in the Sunday Times Fast-Track 100 list. Winning multiple awards, including the CBI Growing Business of the Year and National Business Awards Regional Winner, has firmly established itself as a market leader in the world of sports nutrition.

Buying in bulk, manufacturing in-house and selling direct online to consumers allows to offer the lowest prices in Europe guaranteed.  Using only the finest quality ingredients and the latest production processes (certified to ISO9001:2008 by SGS, a UKAS accredited company), ensures the finest product quality is maintained.

Contact details

For further information or for images call PR Manager Ross Edgley on 0161 947 2777/ 07841 749 167 or email

Coker’s Mass Shakes – by Ben Coker

After my previous articles ‘Belly up Mr Hardgainer’ and ‘Bulking on a £3 Budget’ and numerous other big eating emphasises in other posts, I have received a lot of questions regarding options for other protein shake recipes that I use.

Therefore today I though I would share a few more of my blended shake recipes that I use when bulking. Nothing ground breaking here but I understand sometimes people just like to see  something in writing. Remember options are endless based on your tastes, metabolism and goals!



Shake 1

2 scoops MP impact whey protein
100g oats
500ml full fat organic milk
banana (av. 120g)
Rasberries (123g)

Total kcal 1079

Shake 2

1 scoop MP impact whey protein
1 cup Greek yoghurt
500ml full fat organic milk
50g oats
1 banana (av. 120g)
dried apricot 50g

(add water to vary thickness)

Total kcal 1000

Post post workout

I use a basic whey and dextrose shake immediate after workout to increase gastirc emptying and maximise the nutrient uptake immediately after exercise. Use this shake within the next hour window.

Shake 1

2 scoops MP impact whey protein
200g oats
80g dextrose
500ml chocolate milk

Total kcal 1549

Shake 2
2 scoops MP impact whey protein
200g oats
2 bananas (240g)
500ml skimmed milk

Total kcal 1329


Shake 1

2 scoops MP impact whey protein
50g peanut butter
20ml extra virgin olive oil
500ml full fat organic milk

Total kcal 1042

Shake 2

1 scoop MP impact whey protein
1 cup Greek yoghurt
500ml full fat organic milk
25g oats
50g cashews

(add water to vary thickness)

Total kcal 1116

Hopefully after seeing these recipes you will be instantly formulating some of your own liquid mass gainer ideas.  Get in the kitchen and experiment!

Inspiration 10/04/11

It’s Sunday again, so it’s time for your weekly dose of inspiration. Enjoy.
How does Kai Greene keep pushing himself? Where does his energy come from? The answer lies in the power of rage
George St. Pierre gives us another insight: the Battle of Champions
Lance Armstrong shows us what it really means to be ‘Driven’.
And finally – The moment you’ve been waiting for
 Train Hard. Train Smart. Stay Strong.
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