Fit As a Fiddle

Summer is arriving and beach ready bodies for both men and women suddenly spring to mind. We asked personal trainer Ross Gaffney how we can all shift some weight safely and effectively…

Trainer - Ross Gaffney


So many people fail when starting a new journey because they don’t plan properly. I cannot stress how important this step is.

Make S.M.A.R.T goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) and write them down, keeping a diary of your journey to track your progress but even more importantly writing down what you need to do will help you mentally connect with the task at hand. It also will serve as a reminder if you ever forget where you are in your daily routine.

Plan your food intake during a weight loss programme. Doing a weekly food prep Will ensure that you have your food at all times, mistakes happen when you don’t have your healthy food and you end up grabbing anything you can (usually unhealthy).

Plan your workouts and rest days in advance. Get your plan together and stick to it.

Once you set your plans into motion and start your journey most of this becomes second nature, the habits you get into at the start need to be good ones.

What? Five reps is too little. I can’t burn any calories with the set that short.


Let’s not beat around the bush here, your diet will represent around 70% of your results when trying to lose weight. There are a million and one different diets out there some better than others and some that should be thrown in the bin as quickly as possible. Do your research and find one that suits you best, or better yet get the services of a professional to help you plan it out.

The main things to avoid when on a weight loss program are: sugar, salt, dairy products, wheat and any processed foods.

I advise all my clients to eat whole foods and limit carbohydrates to wholegrain such as oats and brown rice or sweet potato and have plenty of green fibrous veggies such as broccoli, asparagus and spinach. Healthy fats should include avocado, almonds and egg yolks, good sources of protein are egg whites, turkey breast, and chicken breast.

Eating these foods in the right amounts and with the right frequency will yield great results.


Compound exercises like the squat, dead lift, and benchpress work at the centre of any weight loss program. Together, they stimulate virtually every muscle in the body, preventing that muscle from being lost when calories are low. Reps don’t need to be any higher than eight on your main lifts, and should often be closer to five.

Picking the form of cardio which is right for you should come down to one simple question how fit are you?

I can hear your screams. “What? Five reps is too little. I can’t burn any calories with the set that short.” That’s true, but you’re not trying to burn calories with weight training as that’s largely a waste of time anyway. Rather, low reps imply heavyweight, and when you’re dieting hard you don’t want to perform long sets with a heavy bar on your back, believe me. Lack of energy leads to a lack of focus, and then accidents happen.


When it comes to cardio there is more than one way to skin a cat. Steady state, high intensity interval training (HIIT), running, and sprints are all very good forms of cardio which can help you massively in a weight loss program. However, it is very important to pick the cardio that will best help you as a person – not all cardio is right for everyone.

Picking the form of cardio which is right for you should come down to one simple question how fit are you? Somebody who is very overweight would have trouble going on a 10 km run or doing sets of box jumps, however walking on a treadmill at a steady state on Incline is for more realistic. Set your incline to about 10 and walk at a high pace for 45 minutes. Walking can actually help enhance your recovery from weight training sessions, making it a multifaceted tool in your overall fat loss program, despite the fact that it doesn’t kick your ass.

If time is an issue, a good form of high intensity interval training (HIIT) is sprinting. Interval sprinting for 20 minutes allows you to burn calories at accelerated rate for days after the workout. They also increase your conditioning, which will help you perform better overall in the gym and then any recreational sports that you may be doing to stay active and fit. While fat loss comes mainly through dietary changes, increasing your overall activity level carries you the rest of the way, and sprinting can play a big part in that.


Heavy training is tiring and stressful to the central nervous system, the control centre of your brain for all your muscle actions. Even when you’ve caught your breath, you often need to wait longer before performing your next set, as your nervous system isn’t recovered enough to recruit all the musculature needed. This can mean rests of up to 2 to 3 minutes between sets, especially when calories on low and recovery ability is compromised.

You should try to take at least 2 to 3 days a week away from the gym for recovery. Outside of the gym sufficient rest is needed in order for your body to recover. Take time for yourself in relaxation, and be sure to get enough sleep because that is when our bodies are recovering the most.

The sleep diet connection is regular fodder for diet books and magazines. Maybe you have even heard about the sleep diet, which suggests you can lose weight will you sleep.

It’s not so much that if you sleep you will lose weight but if you are sleep deprived, meaning that you’re not getting enough minutes of a good quality sleep your metabolism will not function properly.

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