Tag Archives: back squat

Is breakfast the most important meal of the day?

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”.

This is touted so often these days it’s become almost Gospel. An unwritten rule of nutrition essentially. Hell I think I’ve probably told many people and clients this same line.

But is there any evidence to back up this claim?

What if it actually came down to personal preference as to whether you ate breakfast or not?

First off let’s look at the arguments for consuming breakfast.

It keeps you full until lunch and thereby reduces over-eating

It is often claimed that by eating breakfast we are more likely to have energy through our morning’s and stay full until lunch.

By missing breakfast we leave ourselves open to snacking on high calorie foods and temptations.

If this happens then we would end up eating more junk food, and consequently more calories.

So in this instance consuming breakfast would be the better option for health and weight management.

Well yes, this can be the case, depending on what we eat for breakfast and how we deal with hunger/temptation before lunch.

If we consume a small, and nutrient lacking breakfast (small bowl of cereal for instance), then actually we may still be hungry only an hour into our day. Before you know it, your hand is in the biscuit tin to go with your mid-morning brew.

If we were to consume a slightly bigger, more balanced breakfast (containing some protein as well), then we would be more likely to be full until lunch and avoid temptation.

In a lot of observational studies, it is shown that those who consume breakfast are associated with better health.

However, this is generally because the breakfast-eaters are generally more ‘health-seeking’ individuals who also exercise regularly and have lots of other healthy habits.

It’s also true that most work places don’t exactly have the healthiest options available for people who need breakfast on the go. Think high calorie breakfast bars, crisps, and other such delights you’d find in a standard office vending machine.

But what if skipping breakfast was part of a plan, and by knowing this plan we then stayed strong until lunch, and didn’t consume calories in that time. Would it still be a negative thing to skip breakfast?

Skipping meals causes the body to go into starvation mode

This is another argument from the pro-breakfast crowd.

Well it can be said with certainty that this is not the case.

For one, there was a study done by Stewart & Fleming in 1973 in which they took a 27-year-old male through a 382-day supervised fast, in which he only had water and vitamins. And the result?

The man lost 125.2kg overall, an average of 0.33kg a day.

I can hear you screaming at the screen now, “But he must have wrecked his metabolism and put it all back on!”

Nope, 5 years later and he weighed 89kg, which was only a few kg above where he finished the fast.

Also, when studies use doubly labelled water to assess total 24-h energy expenditure they find no difference between nibbling and gorging.

Bellisle et al (1997) also concluded that:

There is no evidence that weight loss on hypo energetic regimens is altered by meal frequency”.

Essentially meaning as long as you’re in a calorie deficit (consuming less calories than you burn) you will lose weight even if you skip a meal.

But I thought eating breakfast boosted your metabolism?

This is another myth from the unwritten rules of nutrition.

The research does not support this claim. In one study comparing 3 meals a day to 6 meals a day, Cameron et al. (2010) concluded that:

“increasing meal frequency does not promote greater weight loss”.

So, skipping meals doesn’t lead to starvation mode, and eating more meals doesn’t boost your metabolism, so what really are the benefits to consuming breakfast?

Well, as I alluded to above, eating breakfast can stop you from over-eating in the day if your response to missing breakfast is to binge on snacks.

It can also be a great way to get in extra nutrients for your body, and improve your health.

However, skipping breakfast on purpose, and then eating lunch and dinner as normal, can be a very easy way to lower your calorie intake without having to think about it.

This is therefore a great strategy for those who are looking to drop weight without following a complicated plan or without feeling too deprived.

By skipping breakfast and still eating your normal sized meals for the rest of the day, you’re dropping calories without feeling deprived.

You will also be eating larger, more socially acceptable meals when you are eating. Rather than eating small amounts for each meal (which may be necessary to create a caloric deficit for weight loss).

This last point is what I hammer home often. In order to lose weight, you must be in a caloric deficit, and skipping breakfast can achieve this.

Skipping breakfast may also be a great tool if you’re very busy and don’t have time to prepare anything suitable/healthy.

You’re better off eating nothing than eating crisps and chocolate in the car on your way to work.

Another positive for not consuming breakfast would also be if you weren’t hungry. Eating when not hungry is a fast way to over-consume and therefore put on weight. If you wake up and you’re not hungry, don’t eat!

The Conclusion

The decision to eat breakfast or not is completely up to you and your goals.

You can do either and still be extremely healthy and lead a fulfilling life.

If you like eating breakfast, and this stops you from snacking on high calorie foods and over-eating, then go for it.

However if you’re too busy, always consume food on the go that’s less than ideal, or want an easy way to lower calories, then skip it.

This fits in perfectly with the research by Dhurandar et al. (2014) who concluded:

“A recommendation to eat (or skip) breakfast had no discernible effect on weight loss in free living adults who were attempting to lose weight”.
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So remember; next time someone tries to convince you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you’ll know for sure that it’s not.

For more information on Nutrition Coaching with Jonny, check out this page.


Workout of the Day – CrossFit

A) Strength / Strength Endurance – Back Squat

A1) Build to a heavy single for the day

A2) 2 x 20 reps @ 50% of above

B) 3 x 3 Minute AMRAP : 2 minute rest
15 Toes to bar
Max rep lunges

Workout of the day for Wednesday 10th January – Strongman Day

So these guys are pretty strong…

Why do we incorporate yoke carries into our training? Well, if you have ever got under a heavy yoke you will almost instantly get an idea of the benefits.

Squats and deadlifts are usually the most popular lifts in gym and often it’s because those two movements allow you to lift the most weight, and lifting up heavy stuff makes you feel awesome!

Whilst squats and deadlifts are certainly full-body movements, they don’t quite compare to picking up a heavy yoke and taking it for a walk in terms of head-to-toe muscle recruitment.

Given the fact that you’re putting your body under a much heavier load than it is used to (much heavier than a squat or deadlift!), a heavy yoke walk elicits an awesome physical response in the body. Benefits include strengthening the upper back, glutes, hamstrings, lower back and hips

Given the extreme load placed on the body super heavy carries should be performed occasionally as part of your training routine, even just a couple of times a month can give you great benefits.

In terms of standards to aim for Strength Education recommends 2 x bodyweight as a realistic and achievable weight for men and women who strength train. 2.5 x bodyweight is a marker of good progress, but the next big landmark is 3 x bodyweight, and that’s a pretty advanced standard. For women, 3 x bodyweight is a superb standard…Get yourself to 4 x bodyweight and you are in the top one percent in the world.


Workout of the Day – CrossFit

A) Build to a heavy yoke carry

B) Every 90 seconds for 15 Minutes :

5 Bench press (Heavy)
5/5 Dumbbell rows (Heavy)
AMRAP Row for calories in remaining time

Workout of the Day – Weightlifting Club

A) Snatch pull + Snatch
2 x 1+1 @ 70%
2 x 1+1 @ 72.5%
2 x 1+1 @ 75%
B) Push press
4 x 4 @ 70-75%
C) Back squat
4 x 3 @ 70-75%

Monday 27th November – Testing Week, Day 1

Testing week is finally here, if ever there was time for a ‘GET AFTER IT’, that time is now.

Time to reap the rewards from your consistent training, enjoy the week.


Box Notices

12 Days of CrossFit starts Monday 4th December!
– No MetCon, Structural Strength or Weightlifting Club (Wednesday) during the 12 days
– Christmas Party & Bake Off on Friday 15th


Workout of the Day – CrossFit

A) Back squat: Establish a new 5 rep max

B) Toes To Bar: Max reps, unbroken

C) Double Unders: Max reps, unbroken

Wednesday 22nd November – Workout of the day

Box Notices

– Next week is testing week! Time to see the progress from the strength cycle

– The gym is closed this weekend for a CrossFit Level 1 Seminar, but on Saturday we are going to Flip Out Trampoline! Contact james@crossfitthames.com for more info.

– A reminder that if didn’t fetch your shoes from the shoe rack they are in the cubby hole bag storage. They will remain there for the rest of this week. On Friday the 24th they will be shipped off and donated to a new home!

Workout of the Day – CrossFit

Muscle-Up Skill Development

A) Every minute for 12 minutes, alternate between:
Minute 1: 45 seconds Row / Assault bike (15 Seconds Hard effort , 30 Seconds steady effort)
Minute 2: 5 Muscle up transitions to catch + ring dip
Minute 3: Skill of choice

B) Every minute for 12 minutes, alternate between:
Minute 1: 45 seconds Row / Assault bike (15 Seconds Hard effort , 30 Seconds steady effort)
Minute 2: 3-5 Russian dips
Minute 3: Skill of choice

C) 30 Muscle Ups for time

Choose a scale from above if you are working towards full muscle-ups

Workout of the Day – Weightlifting Club

Testing day – Snatch

A) Build up to a heavy single for the day.

B) Snatch pulls: 5 x 2 @ 100%

C) Back squat: 4 x 2 @ 80-85%

Thursday 16th November – Workout of the Day


Workout of the Day – CrossFit

A) Back squat: 3 x 5, across
*Aim to add 2-5kg from your last squat session

B) Bench Press: 40 reps for time
*Add weight from first time

C) 5 Rounds
5/5 Dumbbell push press
Max rep ring dip / push-up
*When you break on the dips/push-ups head back to the dummbell

Workout of the Day – Structural Strength

A) 4 Supersets of:
10/10 Single arm dumbbell press
30 seconds rest
10/10 Single arm dumbbell rows
30 seconds rest
20 Bent-over dumbbell raises
*60 seconds between rounds

B) 2 sets of:
20 Barbell Bulgarian split squats @ 2010
*Barbell in back rack position with rear foot raised and then
*Perform 20 reps at the tempo – don’t pause at the top or bottom, just constant movement
Rest 60 seconds, then switch legs

C) 8 minute sandbag carry (bear-hug hold) for max distance

Workout of the Day – MetCon

5 Rounds for time of:
800m Run
20 Walking lunge
15 Push ups
*Wear a weight vest if you are feeling like a ninja

Monday 13th November – Workout of the Day

It’s nearly time to re-test our lifts. Hopefully you have been following the prescription and are starting to feel the benefits. By this stage the barbell work will be feeling heavy, but keep on grinding for a litttttllle longer. Nearly there gang!


Workout of the Day – CrossFit

A) Back squat: 3 x 5, accross
*Aim to increase load 2-5kg from your last squat session.

Nearly time to re-test those lifts!

B) Seated dumbbell press: 3 x 3-4
*Aim for same weight as the 2 last week

C) 6 Rounds of:
15 Russian kettlebell swings 32/24kg
30 Double unders
*Hit this hard! This should be short and sharp

Sun Salutation!

The sun salutation (surya namaskar) is a set sequence of about a dozen asanas (yoga postures), performed in the same order and usually at the beginning of a yoga practice. There are different variations, e.g. the classical sun salutation, surya namaskar A & B – you’ll be coming across them all in my classes. Now, let’s look at why you should integrate them into your training regime to complement your programming.

1. It’s super versatile
The sun salutation involves approximately 140 muscles in the body, using nothing but your own bodyweight. How’s that for a well-rounded workout? It makes for a great warm-up, cool-down or a full-on workout in its own right. It all depends on how you pace it, how long you hold the postures for, and how many rounds you complete.

2. It mobilises the spine
The practice of yoga asana aims to move the spine in all directions by means of forward folds, backbends and twists. The sun salutation incorporates a number of poses that repeatedly flex and extend the spine, particularly the lumbar. This promotes spinal disc health as the biochemical process controlling disc hydration is stimulated through on and off pressure. The spinal discs already have very poor blood supply – now add to that gravity from walking upright, lack of movement due to a sedentary lifestyle, natural degeneration through ageing, as well as compression under load from weightlifting and you have…less than ideal conditions for your discs to stay happy and healthy!

3. It keeps your hammies happy
Struggling to keep a neutral spine when deadlifting? Tight hamstrings are a common plight, and not only among athletes. As they attach to the sitbones and the back of the thigh, tightness in these muscles may manifest as a tilt in the pelvis. This, in return, may compromise the integrity of the spine in CrossFit movements such as the deadlift. The standing forward fold (uttanasana) is an effective way to lengthen the hamstrings, particularly since is repeated several times throughout each round.

4. It requires no equipment
The sun salutation is a type of bodyweight exercise you can do anywhere, and with minimal space requirements. Get to it!

This class is also open to non-members of Thames, visitors are welcome to drop in at a cost of £10.


Upcoming Events

November Challenge

After the months and months of our Monthly Challenges we have tested strength, power, speed, endurance…but for a true test of all round fitness we have missed the BEST test.

Get your pre-wod ready…

Bring your knee sleeves, belts and best lifters….

It’s time to take on…THE FISH GAME!

This game is found of the Concept 2 Rower and the the object of this game is to rack up as many points as possible by eating the tasty fish while avoiding the large, toothy beasts that will send your score plummeting!

On the rower monitor, you’re the fish facing the onslaught of fellow ocean-dwellers, both good and not-so-good. Alter your intensity to move your fish up and down the left-hand side of the screen. When an edible “good” fish comes your way, try and gobble it up to get points and avoid the large predators, as they’ll take points off your score.

Each game lasts four minutes, with a play again option at the end.

Whilst this is a game, there is a point to this fishy madness. The Fish Game teaches you how to modulate intensity and it records all your workout information (time, distance, pace per 500 metres, and so on).

Time to go fishin’

Flip Out Trampoline – Saturday 25th November @ 10:00am

It’s like a playground for adults!…

We have organised a 2 hour session at Flip Out Trampoline where there is a ton of fun to be had. Trampolines, climbing, 100M caving experience, 30ft Drop Slide (Slide O’ death), Laser maze and more.

The cost is £15 per person for 2 hours, email james@crossfitthames.com to register your interest. Let’s get bouncy!

We have a CrossFit Level 1 on this weekend, so the gym will be closed on Saturday and Sunday.

12 Days of CrossFit & Christmas Bake-Off

Our annual Christmas WODGANZA is nearly here!

We challenge you to complete 12 days of CrossFit Benchmark workouts, back to back. Day 1 begins on Monday 4th December through to Day 12 Friday 15th December.

The last day is our grand finale and to celebrate in style we are having our Christmas Party with a CrossFit Bake-Off.. Bake your best Christmas goodies and bring it along to our Christmas Party. As members sample the delights they cast their vote for the favourite dish before our Bake of Champion is crowned.

The winner will receive a place on a Cookery and Baking Class at Little Portland Street Cookery School to further hone their skills


Workout of the Day – Friday

A) Back squat: 3 x 5, across
*Aim to add 2.5 to 5kg from the last session

B) Seated DB Press: 3 x 2

C) Cycle through for 10 minutes,for quality:
3 High box jumps
10/10 Bulgarian split squats
200m Run

Workout of the Day – Saturday

Odd object WOD

In a pair, complete for time:
40 Sandbag Clean and Jerks (Heavy!)
1 Mile run (together)
20 Rope climbs
1 Mile run
800m Farmers Carry

Tuesday 7th November – Workout of the day

What the hell is a Zercher Squat?

This odd looking squat variation is named after a Mr Ed Zercher, a All-Around Weightlifter in the 1930’s, best known for this style of squatting.

Ow yeah, he also had a reported deadlift of 3.45x bodyweight. Yes thats 243kg / 536lbs at a bodyweight of 79kg / 156lb!

The Zercher squat’s bar placement (held in the crook of the elbows, see picture above) offers considerable benefits over a front squat or back squat, mainly in the development of upper back and spinal erector strength.

Those who struggle during deadlifts and back/front squats due to spinal and/or upper back rounding can greatly benefit from this exercise.

Whilst a barbell is one tool of choice, odd objects like sandbags (used today) can make this movement even more of a challenge and punishing on the midline.

Remember…Strong People Are Harder To Kill.


Workout of the Day – CrossFit

A) Back Squat: 3 x 5, across

B) Bench Press: 3 x 3, build to a heavy 3

C) 10 down to 1 reps of:
Sandbag zercher squat or double kettlebell front rack squat
Between each set 10 Russian kettlebell swings 32/24kg

Workout of the Day – Structural Strength

2 Supersets
A1) Incline dumbbell flys x 10-15 reps
A2) Bent over dumbbell raise x 10-15 reps

2 Supersets
B1) Weighted ring dips x 10-12
B2) Bent over barbell rows x 10-12

2 Supersets
C1) Front squat x 8-12
C2) Sumo-deadlift x 8-12

*Rest 30 seconds between movements, and 2 minutes between sets
*All movements to be performed with the tempo 31X1 (3 seconds eccentric, 1 second pause, fast concentric, 1 second pause)

D) Midline
3-5 sets, rest as needed
Side plank with rotations x 10 per side
Single arm overhead carry, 50m per side

Workout of the Day – MetCon

For time:
800m Run
15 Sandbag to shoulder
800m Run
15 Sandbag shoulder to overhead
800m Run
15 Sandbag clean & jerks