Sunday 3 March 2013

“This is going straight to my thighs”

A common (and annoying) phrase you’ll hear from many women, and metrosexual men. But is there any truth behind this? Is it possible that different people store fat in different places and if so, why? While cutting weight last year I began taking skin fold measurements using a body fat caliper and noticed that while we were both losing weight mine and Goats (my S&C coach Andy’s) fat ratios from different points on our body were very different. After a month or so it was clear that I held proportionally larger amounts of fat on my back and he held more on his triceps. I found this interesting and decided to do a bit of research, and the results were interesting. 

Turns out that allegedly (I say this because fitness and nutrition information changes more often than Larry King's wives) there is a correlation between hormone imbalances and where exactly your body stores fat. This information can be extremely useful to see where your fat is and take from that the exact things you need to do in your diet or training to rebalance your hormone levels. Some people can usually tell where they hold more fat then elsewhere, but if you want to do it accurately then you can use some calipers. You can pick up a pair for about a fiver at So lets go through each area and see what means what and what you can do to combat it. 

Calibration point - Quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes

Fat on - Thighs and arse

Caused by - High oestrogen levels

Combat it with - This is the common one for women, seeing as they have naturally higher levels of oestrogen than men there is a higher chance of having an excess amount, however high oestrogen in men can have very negative effects, especially on athletic performance. To lower oestrogen levels: 

  • - Eat more organic foods. There are a variety of pesticides that produce oestrogen like effect on the body, buy organic to avoid this. 
  • - Stay away from dairy milk. There are some studies that suggest cows milk could be the cause of up to 80%  of oestrogen consumed. This is just one of the many reasons why you should not be drinking dairy based products. 
  • - Increase fibre intake. Fibre binds to and promotes the excretion of bile from the intestine, which binds to oestrogen. So increase intake of both soluble and insoluble fibre (high fibre veg and whole grains).

Calibration point - Umbilical

Fat on - Stomach

Caused by - High cortisol levels

Combat it with - Cortisol as most people will know is the stress hormone which is the enemy not only for fat loss but for athletic performance (and health) in general. To reduce cortisol levels:

  • - Chill out!! People who live stressful lives or get stressed easily have far higher levels of cortisol in their body. If you’re feeling stressed, do whatever you need to do to chill out; take a bath, watch a film, meditate, whatever! 
  • - Sleep well. This is another massive contributor to cortisol levels. Try and get a full night of high quality sleep (8+ hours).
  • - Lay of the booze. No shit that alcohol is bad. This is just one more thing it does. Also your an athlete and shouldn't be drinking anyway...
  • - Some foods are meant to reduce cortisol levels such as; salmon, omega 3, coconut oil, dark chocolate (whoop!), vitamin c (so citric fruit) to name a few. 

Calibration point - Suprailiac and subscapular

Fat on - Lower external obliques (love handles) and upper back

Caused by - High insulin levels (insulin resistance)

Combat it with - This is my biggest problem. The best thing for this is simple, lay of the sugar and stick to a low carb diet. If your trying to lose weight carbs only after training. 

Calibration point - Pectorals and triceps

Fat on - Chest and back of arms

Caused by - Low testosterone levels/androgen receptors

Combat it with - This is why women store more fat in their triceps than men (apparently if a women has sub 6mm skin fold caliper reading on their triceps its a pretty good indicator that they are on steroids. Interesting huh. *men start pinching their girlfriends arms*). Also more common for older dudes as test drops more and more as you reach middle age and above. This is a really important one for us athletes, no one really cares about having a bit of fat on their triceps, but we need testosterone! It's vital for strength, muscle growth and recovery. So how to raise it (naturally *before steroids*):

  • Lift heavy shit. Lifting weights boosts your testosterone. I'm not sure on the science about this but my theory that lifting weights is manly as shit and the god of testosterone sees this and rewards you with more of the magic hormone. 
  • Sprinting. Much like lifting weights its pretty manly (more manly than jogging like a pansy for 40 mins). The god of testosterone sees this, and he is pleased. 
  • Catch some rays. Vitamin D has proven to have a positive correlation on testosterone levels. (Spray tans don’t count.) 
  • - Chill out! Cortisol's back again and this time its fucking with yo test levels. How to reduce cortisol can be seen above (if you’ve all ready forgotten....).
  • - Lay of the booze. Booze kills ya test. Another reason to stay away. 

Calibration point - Knee and calf

Fat on - Everywhere

Caused by - Low growth hormone levels

Combat it with - Growth hormone is another one that is vital for us athletes and another one that decreases with age. Luckily the god of growth hormone is brothers with the god of test so: 

  • Lift heavy shit. Squats and deads are king.  
  • Sprint like a mofo. 
  • Get your sleep! And good sleep at that. The majority of our natural growth hormone is secreted while you sleep so erratic or shorter sleep is going to affect levels. 

Just to reiterate, this information is about holding disproportionate amounts of fat on some areas and the correlation that has to hormone imbalance. This does not mean you’re fat because your hormones are out of whack. If you’re a fatty then eat less food and exercises more. Fatty. 

Ape out

Thursday 7 February 2013

Gear review: Grip trainers - Origin vs Scramble

Today I shall be reviewing two similar products by two different companies. The Origin "OrangaHangs" (sweet name) and the Scramble grip trainer (Come on guys you can do better than that). Firstly I would like to say that this in an unbiased review. Yes I was sponsored by Scramble in the  past but that shall have no baring on this review, favourably or unfavourably. Also neither company has asked me to review these. I just am.

So to begin. Both are these products are of very simple concept. They are pieces of gi like material that can be attached to a number of different pieces of equipment (barbells, pull up bars, kettle bells, cable, etc). They are used to work your grip, specifically your hand and finger strength as to strengthen it for when you next grab someones lapel or sleeve. The concept has been around for a while (I saw some primitive versions of these from a company that I cant remember back in 2006). As far as i'm aware I would say that the Orangahangs are probably the most popular and well known having been around a while before the scramble ones, but while the concept is the same the actual design of the two are very different. The differences between the two -


The OrangaHangs are comprised or a two piece design; the body of the gripper, where you hold on to in various way, and a loop that attaches the body to a thick metal ring. You can either feed the loop through its self around a bar or simply use the metal ring and attach that to a clip (or tie shit on it, or whatever you can come up with). The Scramble trainers on the other hand are constructed of a single piece of material comprising of the body and a hole on top that you use to feed the body through to attach it to stuff. I feel that in terms of versatility the OrangaHangs take this. The metal ring allows almost endless attachment possibilites that can be very quickly and easy changed. The scramble trainers need to be put on something with some length to it (barbell, kettlebell, pull up bar) whereas the OrangaHangs can be clipped onto loading pins, chain, bands, etc, etc which just the addition of a carabiner clip.


Scramble grip trainers


The Orangahangs are made of a significantly thicker material than the Scramble trainers. This has both positives and negatives. I've trained with both and found the scramble ones a lot better for using a sleeve grip (grabbing the bottom and curling it around the tip of your fingers) and pistol grips, I found this slightly less practical with the OrangaHangs considering the thickness of the material. However I found the OrangaHands far better for rolling into a tube and holding like a wrist as the thickness meant when rolled up they had a lot more mass to them than the Scrambles. They were equal when it came to holding the sides in a lapel style grip. Id probably give the edge in feel to the Scrambles as pistol grips and sleeve grips are both pretty useful things to train.


Who gives a shit how they look?


Without shipping, a pair of Orangahangs cost $49 (£31) and a pair of the Scramble trainers cost £20 ($31) (Crazy coincidence..). So the Scramble ones are a bit cheaper.

The most important one - STRENGTH

Ok. Time for a bit of a story. I first got the OrangaHang trainers a few years ago. I loved them, im a huge fan of grip strength and love any grip related toys. I excited got them out, did some pull ups, played around etc etc. I finished my workout by doing an exercise where we attached the pair together and I held one side and the Goat held the other, we pulled until someone let go (kinda a tug-of-war). It got competitive. We pulled and I herd a small tear, I got excited (I like to break shit). So I pulled harder and bam we tore them. I took a pic and put it on facebook. The owner of Origin found it and contacted me. In all fairness, the service was excellent, I didnt even have him on facebook so I dont know how he found me (come to think of it, its actaully quite worrying... anyway..) and organised for a replacement pair to be sent. I was appreciative as I did like them, I received the replacement pair and I kinda forgot about them. Fast forward a bit and my sponsors at the time scramble release their own grip trainer and I get sent a pair. I play with them, I like them. Fast forward a bit more (im not longer sponsored by scramble at this point) and im at home working out and I remember I have the Orangahangs, I wanna train some grip so I open the packet (hadn't been used since I got the replacements) and I hang them on some hooks in my garage to do some pull ups on, I grab each side with a lapel grip, lift myself up and *chhhhhh* I hear a bit of a tear. Im confused, I tug hard on one and bam the thing rips straight off. Confused at the ease at which them came off I grab the other one. Boom, its off as well.

That night I took the one remaining OrganaHang I had to the academy (was the unripped one from the first pair I had) and proceeded to make the following video.

As I mention in the video I believe that there are a new model of the OrangaHangs, if so then I would be more than happy to test them and see if they are stronger. 
When I first looked at the Scramble trainers I thought they they were very thing and would easily break, compared to the ruggedness of the OrangaHangs. As you can see when looped through correctly they were shockingly strong (the hard you pull the stronger they get). I thought that if I wanted to break them then pulling apart the center loop would rip them easy as shit. And I was blown away by how strong they were in that regard. 

In conclusion, if I was offered either of these I would take the Scrambles. I can't have shit breaking on me. 

Ape out. 

Friday 1 February 2013

What do I put in my post workout shake?

To begin with, in my personal opinion, nearly all big brand protein/recovery blends are sub par. They generally contain cheap protein, cheap carbs and loads of other crap that you don’t need. I feel the best thing to do is get exactly what you need in the pure ingredient form and create your own blends, allowing for cheaper, better quality shakes (I get mine from It also allows you to tailor your shakes to suit your current goals. I will use a different blend in the run up to a competition than I will when I'm trying to put on weight. So let's break it down:


We'll start with this because it's the most obvious and there is a massive number to choose from.  Let's start with the basics:

Whey - Whey is the most commonly used protein you will come across. Whey protein is extracted from the cheese making process, it's then filtered to create what we call whey protein. Depending on how much it's filtered leaves you with varying degrees of quality. Going from whey concentrate to whey isolate to hydrolysed whey isolate.

Concentrate - This is the least filtered, cheapest form of protein. Because of the low quality it can take 3 hours to fully digest (which if you read part one you will know is no good for after a workout to meet your anabolic window).

Isolate - This is highly purified and will therefore fully digest in within 20 - 30 mins. Which will meet your anabolic window for after a training session. This is what I use. 

Hydrolysed isolate - This is the most expensive most, filtered form of whey and will digest incredibly fast, in around 10 mins. This is therefore great for post workout and is the optimum protein to take. Sometimes digestive enzymes are added in the production process that can reduce the digestion rate to basically instant. Predigested hydrolysed isolate protein in the highest quality protein you can buy. You may be wondering why I don’t take that if it's so good? Because, to put it politely, it tastes like shit. 

WARNING - If you ever pick up a brand name protein powder or all in one you may read something along the lines of “New protein blend”, “Revolutionary protein matrix” or “Whey isolate blend”. What this normally means is that they fill the majority of the powder with whey concentrate and chuck in a tiny spoonful of the more expensive isolate, allowing them to use the term Isolate but not spend too much money. Always check the ingredients, and this is why its best to make your own from the ingredients. 

Casein - This is protein produced through ultra-filtering milk. This is by far the slowest digesting protein around. This can be good for putting on weight, having protein sustaining for long periods of time (when bulking casein is great for before you go to bed) however a terrible choice for a post-workout drink. 

I would talk about alternative/vegan/vegetarian protein but I don’t believe in vegetarians or vegans...


As mentioned in part one, carbs are just as important as protein, if anything more important. There are 2 main types of carbs:

Dextrose and Maltodextrin - These are the most common carbohydrates found in most “all-in-one” powders and are basically a building block of sugar. They have a very high glycemic index and therefore create a big insulin spike when ingested. This is good for getting the big post workout insulin boost that you’re looking for during your anabolic window to carry the nutrients to your muscles. Although there are some differences in the molecular structure of the two, what they actually do in your body is pretty much the same. 

Vitargo - This is a higher quality carbohydrate made from starch in a very specific way to give it a particular molecular structure. Vitargo, while still stimulating an insulin response (possibly a even larger one than Dextrose), actually contains no sugar. It also digests far far quicker than glucose derivatives (Dextrose and Maltodextrin). This makes it a lot more efficient at replenishing glycogen supplies and transporting nutrients to the muscles, also causing less bloat and possible stomach discomfort. It costs a bit more than Dextrose but I use this 99% of the time and believe this to be the best post workout carb on the market. 

There are many other things that you can put in a post workout shake but these are the basics and I may go into the other stuff another time. Once you’ve decided what you're taking, you must figure out the amount: 20-40 grams of protein and around double that of carbs. 

So, what I take after every training session (BJJ, weights, conditioning, cardio, some particularly vigorous nights out) is a post workout shake containing around 40g of whey isolate and around 70 grams of vitargo pure. I've done this for the last couple of years and this is what I recommend to most people who ask.

Ape out

Thursday 31 January 2013

Post workout shakes

Post workout shakes

What to (and whether to) take after a workout/training session is one of the most common brought up subjects when discussing training. There are 3 different people: People who don’t believe in/feel they need to take a post workout drink, those who do but don’t take the right stuff and those who do take the right stuff. So:

Should you take a post workout shake? 

If you train BJJ once or twice a week and do nothing else physically the rest of the time then you can stop reading now. This is not relevant to you. The majority of people who are training BJJ seriously will be looking at 4 plus sessions a week, training some consecutive days, for serious BJJ competitors this can be 6-7 days a week, twice a day some days and strength and conditioning thrown in on top of that. For both those categories of people (especially the latter) I believe it is imperative to take post workout nutrition into consideration. 


Post workout shakes take advantage of the state you put your body in by intense training. Just after a workout you body has used up its glycogen supplies and is thirsty to replenish them. Also you have created tiny micro-tears in your  muscles that need amino acids (the building blocks of protein) to fill in and heal (grow and strengthen). Failure to properly get these nutrients in your body will result in a lack of muscular growth, leave you with muscular aching and more importantly for a BJJ athlete; leave you feeling fatigued and tired for another session that day. 

Commonly asked question: Why does it need to be a shake?

Many people don’t wanna take a shake because it’s basically cheating, right?
They just wanna go home and have some chicken and rice. Thing is, it’s about timing. Immediately after a workout, for around 20-30 mins, your body is in what is called an “anabolic state”. This is where it’s begging to get the nutrients its lost (including water) back in it. Think Sauron and the ring. Now lets assume that you’ve got your full meal ready to go as soon as training is over (realistically your looking at 15-30 mins to get home, 15+ mins to cook a meal), but let’s assume you’re ready to eat straight away. You’re looking at 30 mins for the blood from your body to return to your digestive system (while working out your body knows it doesn’t need to digest and instead needs to be STRONG so redirects blood away from your digestive system and into your muscles.) So after your body is able to properly break down food you need to be getting that carbs and protein in you quickly, but solid food takes time to be broken down into nutrients and send through the body to the muscles, effectively missing your anabolic window. Now, protein shake: It’s there immediately with nearly no preparation time, you can engineer it to contain whatever you need depending on your current goals. And importantly because it’s in liquid form it requires very little breaking down in your stomach so can be digested and the nutrients utilised far quicker. 

What do I put in my shake?

One of the biggest mistakes people make is the idea that they have to take a “protein shake”, this is actually inaccurate of what a post workout shake should be comprised of. Carbohydrates are as important if not more important to take than protein. Many people fear the carb, carbs make you fat don't they? Yes, in excess carbs will help or make you put on weight, however as mentioned above when you train you use up your bodies glycogen supply. Without glycogen replenishment your body cannot properly utilise the protein for recovery and your lack of glycogen will leave you fatigued for another session, or the rest of the day. 

So, now you’re all super excited to start taking post workout supplements there is one final question. What exactly do I take? Coming in part 2.

Monday 28 January 2013


Hello, people who have nothing better to do. 

After threatening to for a long while, I am restarting my blog up and shall be attempting to post somewhat interesting content on a semi regular basis. 

For those who don’t know who I am (how you’ve found this blog I do not know), I am a 22 year old bjj brown belt under Roger Gracie, training and teaching in north London at Mill Hill BJJ under Nick Brooks. Im an active competitor having fought across the world, tending to do slightly better without a gi on. 

Im starting this blog because I have too much free time  to help spread love and knowledge to my fellow BJJers. Also so I have a forum to rant and abuse people on (this is more the reason). I hope to be posting some short articles about my training, BJJ, strength and conditioning, nutrition, teaching etc. Perhaps some reviews on various training equipment and gear, maybe some technique videos. Who knows?

I have some ideas for articles but if anyone has any questions or ideas drop them on my Raspberry Ape page wall. Chances are il completely ignore you, but theres a possibility it may inspire a post. 

In the next few days I shall try and post an article regarding one of the most frequently asked questions I get. “wot shud i poot in ma proteen shaek ?”. If you havnt already, like my facebook page for regular updates (or boost my ego. Which ever you wish to believe.)

And finally I leave you with some motivation to start the week with. If this doesnt light a fire under you sorry arse then nothing will. 

Ape out

Monday 19 September 2011

More Titans.

So, you may or may not of realised that I haven't posted anything all week. This is basicly due to nothing of any interest occurring and me not wanting to bore people/ cant be arsed to write. A quick update of the last week: Ive been doing lots of conditioning focusing mainly on power and power endurance, making up for a bit of physicality I lost while only doing BJJ in NY. Has to be done but leaves a poor man feeling quite sore most the time. Around that ive been getting plenty of sparring in with guys at Mill Hill, treatment on my knee and a massage here and there for my aching back. Come down with a bit of a cold the past week, which often happens to me around comp time as your immune system drops when training intensity increases (or im just really unlucky all the time). Im over it now, and keep reminding myself that its very lucky I got it now and not next week.

So today my coach Nick Brooks had managed to sort out some sparring for me. So with a very early start (8.30!!!) I went down to the Roger Gracie Academy in Ladbroke Grove and await for my lift. He arrives, of course, on "Brazilian time" where the clock run just a bit slower ;). Roger Gracie was bringing me to Birmingham with him while he help Braulio train for the ADCC. Also in the car was RGA brown belt Juniao and Rogers cousin Kyra Gracie, who is of course over for the ADCC's. We head down to b'ham, we get lost, which turns out to be my fault as I suggested one area on the satnav over another (I did say "Dont take my word for it" though!!!). Eventually we get there and amazingly were not even the last ones there. The session that was meant to start at 12 ends up starting around 2 hahaha. As everyone gets changed and jumps on the mat, im taken back by the line up. I thought there were some pretty good names in the sessions in New York but this bested all of them. Roger Gracie, Braulio Estima. Victor Estima, Lucio Lagarto, Kyra Gracie, Pablo Popvitch, Roberto Cybrog. Unbelievable, on the mat were a large portion of the top 10 grapplers in the world! So training begins, pretty much everyone there was fighting this weekend at the ADCC so not an all out session, more of grab a partner and roll, like an open mat. First off was rolling with Kyra, obviously shes significantly lighter than me, we just had a light roll to warm up but it was nice rolling with such a legend and someone who had been a black belt since I was a blue belt. I sat down to rest a bit and got called over by the man himself, current under 77kg ADCC champ, moving up to 88kg now, Pablo Popovitch. The first thing I ask him is "How the hell did you ever weigh the same as me". The guy looks like a freckin' super hero, seriously massive. I roll with Popovitch for most of the session, incredibly strong and with a not stop relentless attacking game. Very much a wrestlers sort of game (which is one of his strongest bases), the never stopping domination. But we had a good roll. Seeing as he is the current champ of my division it was nice to see, and more importantly feel, what the level is like. After sparring is over everyone spends a while drilling and sharing techniques, just to be on the mat watching the number of world champions there training together was awesome. Kyra ask me to help her do a bit of technique drilling, then Pablo asked to use me to practice some wrestling. Popovitches wrestling is insane, I would not like to stand with anyone with the sort of movement, power and speed he posses (did anyone say jumpguard ?). Finally im used as a dummy while Pablo helps Kyra with her takedowns. And after having Pablos extremely square chin pressed in my leg repetitively it seems slightly more tender than before. After training its off for the customary post training Nandos, where I realise I really need to learn Portuguese, as I sit there throughout the meal as the only English guy; not understanding a word of whats going on.

After the meal its the drive back to RGA, drive from RGA to Mill Hill to do my last little conditioning workout before the comp, consisting of plenty of burpees, Kettle bell swings and pull ups. Then its home eat and bed. Up tomorrow early for last real BJJ session.

Ape Out.

Thursday 15 September 2011

Post NY Blogback.

So i’ve decided that due to popular demand I shall continue my blog on up to the ADCCs and possibly a post fight analysis. Since returning to the UK I have continued trianing but being wary of my knee. Im able to train and spar relatively hard without much pain or discomfort but I am at all times careful and assure I minimalise the movements of the knee that may exacerbate the injury. I’ve also been having some physio work on it, courtesy of one of the students at Mill Hill, Mark Warren, of the Active Chiropractic Healthcare Clinic. It seems that the area is still tender, but ok, and will be 100% come fight time. I’ve also got back into my regular schedule regarding sparring and conditioning. I will be stuffing a large amount of strength and conditioning into the next week to make up for the lack of it in NY.

Yesterday I did my first maximal strength workout with the Kettle Goat (my S&C coach Andrew Marshall) since being back. Its somewhat disheartening to be lifting less weight than you have before, but sometimes this happens. But this heavy compound lift workout will serve to work my nervous system and upon recovering shall be much stronger. If you have to get back strength fast; lift something very heavy a few times. I taught the class later in the evening and by then was knackered, so sparred quite relaxed, working more on technique. Its important to sometimes roll using as little strength as possible and focusing on technique, while its equally important to sometimes roll balls to the wall out muscling your opponent when ever possible. You must train everything; always spar hard and your technical abilities will suffer, always spar light and you’ll never learn to have a killer instinct; possibly one of the most important attributes when it comes to competition.

Today I was suffering from yesterdays training. A single session today just to get the blood pumping around my body to assist with recovery. A sparring session with Mr Dave Onuma. I’ve been working with Dave (BJJ black belt and head of Combined Fighting Systems) for a long while now, going round to his garden dojo (very cool) for weekly sparring sessions. Daves a very knowledgable man and because of this he plays an important part in forumlating my strategy and tactics.

More importantly I have ordered my attire for the post ADCC night out. This is of the upmost importance as im sure you will all agree, and I hope that any of you coming to the ADCC shall be joining my on spoken of night out. A short to the point comeback post. Stay tuned for tomorrow where we ask who would win in a fight a Gorilla or a Lion? Your thoughts ?

Ape out.