What is “the Pump”?

What causes vascularity or “The Pump”?

When training, muscle contractions cause blood vessels to dilate and also causes blood flow to increase. All that activity in the muscles causes them to expand.

This is why you often feel like your muscles look fuller, bigger and more appealing during/just after your session. Then, the muscles deflate later

Blood pumped into the muscles give them this expanded, fierce look, accompanied by prominent veins.

Now, not having a “Pump” doesn’t mean your not training hard enough and it doesn’t affect your overall progress. It purely depends on the type of training you are doing, what repetitions you are doing etc.

Muscle hypertrophy involves an increase in the size of skeletal muscle through growth in the size of its component cells. There are two different types of hypertrophy training: Myofibrillar and Sarcoplasmic. Myofibrillar refers to increasing the size of your muscle fibers, whereas Sarcoplasmic refers to an increase in the volume of fluid in your muscles. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is what creates this PUMP.

Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy happens as a result of medium/higher rep training.

One supplement I would recommend to help with this would be PUMP HD™. This product contains Liposomal technology along with creatine and energy boosting elements like B12 to give you that extra energy and drive water to your muscles to create that extra PUMP!

Carb Cycling 101

One very popular current diet method for Fat Loss (and one I have used quite often) is Carb Cycling!

Carbohydrates are used as energy by the body; they fuel our workouts, as well as providing ample fuel to be used throughout the day. Ingesting carbs also replenishes our glucose and glycogen stores to prevent fatigue.

Essentially carb cycling is a program where you switch up between higher and lower carbohydrate days in the effort to lose weight or fat without suffering some of the negative consequences of a simple low carbohydrate diet plan.

Some of these adverse side effects of a constant lowering in carbohydrate consumption include a drop in exercise performance, increased hunger levels, lowered metabolic rate, and difficulty focusing and concentrating due to lack of glucose in the bloodstream.

By having those higher carbohydrate days back in there, you offset some of these factors, so generally most people find this approach much more enjoyable to use.

You should be putting your higher days on the days you perform your hardest workout sessions.

For most people, this will mean legs or a latter body part. Having them ready before you carry out the workout will help fuel you in the gym so you can work harder and push more weight, and then having the influx of carbohydrates after the workout session will contribute to saturating the muscles with carbohydrate storage (muscle glycogen) and aid with recovery.

This is also why higher carb days are recommended on if you wish to try and improve or grow while still in a calorie deficit.

When it comes to food selection while performing this style of diet, you want to think glucose. Either simple glucose sources (preferably around the workout period when they are absorbed quickest) or complex that will break down into glucose.

Another important thing to remember is that you should also be decreasing your fat intake on days you go high carb. It is normal for most people to increase their overall daily calories on the high carb day but by lowering the fat intake, you allow more room for those carbohydrates without going really crazy with your calorie level.

Also, your body will not need the higher density energy levels provided in your fat sources in that day as your glucose levels will be higher.

As well as having slightly higher calories on high carb days, your lower carb days will be slightly lower. But it’s all about balance – make sure your weekly intake is where it needs to be and distribute the calories from there based on your set-up preferences.

This is also one of our preferred diet methods as it allows you variety in your diet from your lower and higher carbohydrate and fat intake days, keeping you more satisfied!

Any further questions or nutrition guidance:

Female Hormones and Training

Working with a lot of women (and being Female myself) I know the worst time of the month to train is THE TIME OF THE MONTH.

But how do we work around this??

First of all, it’s good to know a bit about your cycle.
Days 0-14 (straight after your period stops) is called the Follicular phase. During this timeframe, your estrogen increases.

From there you move into the Ovulation phase. Your estrogen levels will peak, and progesterone levels will also rise. You’ll probably feel hotter too, with an estimated period of 15 days.

For a few days before your period, you will hit the Luteal phase.
Then your period comes, and we start it all again (it’s hard being a woman ha).

When it comes to your workouts, it is recommended that he Follicular phase is used for the most progress.
Your body is at its highest pain tolerance during this period and is also prone to utilizing muscle glycogen (carbs) to fuel exercise.

Making Carbs Essential Pre and Post-Workout

During this point in time, you should use higher carbs to fuel your workouts and use your energy to push through more taxing workouts!

During Ovulation, your strength levels will still be high. One study published in the Journal of Physiology noted that ovulating women showed an 11% increase in power!

However, since estrogen is at its highest point during this phase and this can impact collagen metabolism and neuromuscular influence control (meaning you may be prone to injury if you push it TOO much). So push hard during this phase but be mindful of FORM.

Your metabolism will also be raised during this phase. If you are severely hungry all the time, this is the reason why!

During your Luteal phase, your body temperature will be higher than normal, and you will be prone to tiredness. Also, you may hold excess water due to PMS.
During this phase, it is usually wise to drop the intensity back slightly. Still working hard but not aiming for PRs.

Metabolically, your body will be at its peak. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests your metabolism will be around 7.7% higher than normal!

The higher metabolism, along with a drop in serotonin levels, will make you crave carbs. However, your insulin sensitivity is actually at its lowest during this phase. So resist the temptation for a carb feast!

For me, this phase definitely carries on throughout my period. But not all women are the same, so please listen to your body!

Finally, as your period passes, you’ll start to feel more like your usual self. PMS will subside, your temperature will go back to normal, and your water retention will clear. Make it a good time to go back to your more intense workouts during your Follicular phase.

I do often get questions about the TIME OF THE MONTH when it comes to training, and I hope this was helpful!

Please do contact me with any questions

bbrennanfitness@hotmail.com .

10 Reasons your Diet is holding you back!

No matter how well-intentioned we are when we decide to diet in order to lose weight, we often fail! We tell ourselves that we’re doing everything according to the plan but when we reflect, we realise that’s not exactly true. Below, are the most common reasons for why ‘diets’ tend to fail:

1. You think your training will do all the work for you

If your aim is to lose weight or lean down, the amount you actually burn depends on calories in vs calories out. If your calorific intake is too high, compared to your activity levels throughout the day, you will not be in an a calorie deficit, and will not reach your goals. Even if you are trying to build lean muscle, if your calorie surplus is too high, the amount of weight you gain will be predominantly fat gain.


2. You’re scared of carbs

Carbohydrates are essential in your diet for glycogen replenishment, energy and muscle repair. Carbs are also good for the metabolism and thyroid gland, both essential for fat loss. A low carb diet, over a period of time, will down regulate Thyroid function leaving you at risk of lowering your metabolic rate, not good for fat loss. A low carb diet, over a period of time, will down regulate Thyroid function leaving you at risk of lowering your metabolic rate, not good for fat loss.


3. You’re scared of fats

Fats (or lipids) are also a good source of energy and are used within the body to regulate hormones. Omega 3 and Omega 6 (found in unsaturated fats) are on the list of essential because they aid in balancing key hormones such as cortisol and insulin that exert tremendous control over your weight.


4. You’re scared of protein

Protein is used in your body to build new cells, maintain tissues, and synthesize new proteins that make it possible for you to perform basic bodily functions. Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. Lastly, protein is essential for muscle recovery and growth, without the sufficient protein in your diet, your efforts in the gym may be wasted without correct repair afterwards.


5. You don’t cook enough

As fun and tasty as eating out can be, you are never truly sure what you are eating. Even ready-made meals have added salts and unnecessary sugars. Make your own meals, therefore you can make healthy choices with your ingredients and even personalize it to appeal to you and what you love.


6. You’re failing to prepare

“fail to prepare, prepare to fail”

Meal prep is something used very frequently in the fitness industry, for a good reason. We all know plans can change from day to day, you never know exactly what may happen each day. If you are busy, out, at work etc. it can be much easier to “grab something simple” when on the go. Again, this means you do not know exactly what you are consuming and you are more likely to grab something unhealthy. Pre-cook your meals and take it with you using tuppawear, take control of your nutrition.


7. You don’t know what you’re eating

Many people do not track their calories and macronutrients, not even roughly. This is fine, but if you are wanting to start your fitness journey and do not know your starting point, this can be difficult. Before setting your goals, try to calculate a few days just to see where you are now, this will help with finding where you need to be.


8. You’re eating too little

A lot of people do not progress with their health goals because they believe less is best. The key is; do not eat less eat better. As you can see from the previous points, all 3 macronutrients are essential for bodily functions and weight loss. A lack of these nutrients can actually cause the body to go into “starvation mode” where your body actually panics from lack of nutrients. It believes that it is being starved, and anything that is consumed is stored, usually as fat. Levels of cortisol will also be raised as the body will be under stress, which can also cause water retention and fat gain.


9. Your timing

Macronutrient timing can be essential to achieving your goals. Utilizing macronutrients such as carbohydrates and protein around times when energy is needed either for fuel or replenishment can ensure that glycogen levels are high when needed. It is also beneficial to have larger meals/ higher calorie meals around times of activity. For example, a lot of people eat their largest meal on a night when they stop all activity and glycogen levels are not being used. When this calorific input is not needed in the body, this is when it is more likely to be stored. This is not to say avoid carbs later in the day, just do not overeat or splurge on unnecessary amounts.


10. Your snacking choices

Again, preparing healthy snacks throughout the day can be essential. Many of us can get ‘peckish’ between meals. If you do not have anything prepared with you, this is when you will have to again look for alternatives, which are more likely to be unhealthy or ‘quick and easy’. Also, try to differentiate between hunger and boredom. I recommend BPI BEST BAR for on the go delicious snack choices!

What are the Optimal Repetition Ranges?

When it comes to repetition ranges when weight training, it is predominantly believed that; When trying to gain muscle/ muscle size, low reps and heavy weight are needed, and when cutting, high reps low weight are needed. However, all rep ranges work the body differently due to their reactions with muscle fibers, and muscle gain can be caused, all of which can aid in muscle growth and development.

There are two main types of muscle fiber: the red, slow-oxidative type and the white, fast-oxidative type. These are more commonly known as slow and fast-twitch muscle fibers. They are recruited when called on by signals to motor neurons from the brain in different ways. Muscle fibers create motor units which are made up of hundreds of slow and fast-twitch muscle fibers. Both types of fiber are important when it comes to training and exercise. Fast twitch contract quickly for use in short, intense activities of brief duration, whereas, contract slowly and support smoother, lower intensity repetitive contractions, related to endurance-type activities.

Different rep ranges stimulate muscle fibers differently. Low rep ranges are categorized between 1- 5, these are usually performed with heavy weights to a 1 – 5 rep MAX.

It has been claimed that, that low reps will stimulate ALL muscle fibers from slow to intermediate to fast and everything in between. When a load is placed on a muscle, each type of fiber is recruited, firstly the slow twitch. If the slow twitch fibers cannot generate enough force to lift the weight, then the body will call the intermediate fibers into action. Finally, if both of these fibers cannot handle the weight or the intensity, fast twitch will be recruited (this is why fast twitch are usually used for High Intensity and slow twitch for lower, endurance). So this means when you lift a heavy load you will fully stimulate slow and intermediate muscle fibers (Saladin, 2007; Wilson, nd). This is why it can be so tiring on the body when training heavy, but only for 1-5 reps.

This type of rep range is vital for optimal growth as it allows for strength gains and development of progressive overload during a training program. Low repetition/ strength training stimulates Myofibrillar Hypertrophy is an increase of actin and myosin filaments within muscle tissue, which also involves an increase in the contractile tissue (Zatsiorsky, 2006).

Moderate rep ranges are categorized as around 6-12 with a moderate to heavy weight. The reason that this rep range is seen to be so effective for building muscle is that it does a little bit of everything. The heavy loads allow for myofibrillar protein synthesis to take place which, as discussed, will increase the size of the contractile proteins. The increased time under tension will stimulate sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is an increase of the sarcoplasm in muscle tissue which is caused by training lighter weights, volumised reps, which does not improve strength but can create a more muscular look.

This type of rep range is also vital in achieving a muscular ‘pump.’ Studies show that cellular swelling causes both an increase in protein synthesis and a decrease in protein breakdown (Grant et al., 2000; Stoll et al., 1992; Millar et al., 1997).

Low reps with heavy weight are best at stimulating myofibrillar hypertrophy, and high reps with light weight are best at stimulating sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. So, moderate reps seem to strike a balance between inducing significant amounts of both.

High reps are categorized as 15+ and are usually referred to as “volume training.” This rep range is critical for glycogen on protein synthesis. Glycogen is primarily stored carbohydrate within muscle tissue and is used for energy when training. Glycogen is also hydrophilic and causes muscles to swell because, with every gram of glycogen, 2.7 grams of water are also stored (Chan et al. 1982). This added water will increase the size of your muscles; it will also increase protein synthesis as cellular hydration is an extremely strong anabolic trigger. This is also a reason it is important to keep hydrated while training.

High rep training will drastically deplete glycogen stores, causing the body to react by increasing muscular glycogen stores. This will allow cells to stretch and lead to greater overall muscle growth and release of anabolic hormones. This also prevents blood from leaving the area being trained, which can induce growth through increases in growth factor production and also increases muscular “pump”(Vierck et al., 2000).

In conclusion, all rep ranges will increase muscle growth but through different pathways. Therefore all ranges should be utilized, no matter if you are gaining or cutting. High rep ranges should not be used as a form of fat loss. All weight training will stimulate the metabolism and cause calories to burn. No one rep range will cause significant fat loss over another. Diet and cardio should be the primary tools you use to shed fat and get lean. Let the weight build muscle, let your diet cut the fat.

Make sure that when you are training, you are fuelling your body correctly!

My recommendation would be :

BEST BCAA Intra Workout

BEST WHEY Post Workout!

6 Reasons To Pick Up Weights

Fat loss

When you lift weights, you build lean muscle tissue which is more metabolically active than fat. When you increase your muscle, you also increase metabolism which means you’re burning more calories throughout the day. Regular strength training is just as important as cardio exercise for losing fat and getting fit.


Reduces risk of injury

Strength training strengthens everything, not just your muscles and bones. When you lift weights, you also strengthen connective tissue – the ligaments and tendons that keep your body moving well on a regular basis.


It’s good for your health and life span

According to 2014 research from UCLA, those who exercise tend to have a longer life span.

“In other words, the greater your muscle mass, the lower your risk of death,” study co-author Arun Karlamangla, M.D. said in a statement.

“Thus, rather than worrying about weight or body mass index, we should be trying to maximize and maintain muscle mass.” And what better way to maximize those muscles than by lifting weights


It makes you strong

It may seem obvious that lifting weights can make you stronger, but what some people forget is that it doesn’t just make you strong for your workouts, it makes you stronger in other areas of your life as well. When you lift weights on a regular basis, everything else becomes a little easier too – carrying groceries, housework, gardening, carrying the kids, etc. And, don’t forget, it doesn’t just make your muscles stronger, it makes your bones stronger too which can help reduce or even manage osteoporosis.


Physical appearance

When it comes to slimming down, endless hours on cardio machines may not be getting you any closer to the results you desperately seek

“If you’re looking to lose fat, go with strength training,” trainer Nick Tumminello, author of Strength Training for Fat Loss told Business Insider. “Watch your diet to reveal your shape, and strength train to improve that shape.”


It helps your heart

Despite the name, cardio isn’t the only form of exercise with cardiovascular benefits. A resistance training routine has been shown to lower blood pressure, in some cases as effectively as taking medication. The American Heart Association recommends adults aim for at least two strength training sessions a week.


Sugar Addiction?!

In Neuroscience, food is something we call a “natural reward.”

In order for us to survive as a species, things like eating, having sex and nurturing others must be pleasurable to the brain so that these behaviors are reinforced and repeated.

Like other DRUGS, sugar causes the body to release dopamine. Dopamine is defined as :
“a compound present in the body as a neurotransmitter and a precursor of other substances including adrenaline”

This gives us a natural “high” which is why we become addicted to the elements that create this reaction. Over the long term, regular sugar consumption actually changes the gene expression and availability of dopamine receptors.

This means that repeated access to sugar over time leads to prolonged dopamine signalling, greater excitation of the brain’s reward pathways and a need for even more sugar.

The brain becomes tolerant to sugar – and more is needed to attain the same “sugar high.” This is why, often after a “Cheat Meal” with high concentrations of sugars, many feel an even bigger craving for sugars afterwards. Especially if you are “cheating” too often. The less you consume sugar the less you will become addicted.

Another good reason to stick to your diet ? Or, to choose healthier foods that cut your cravings.

My Recommendations would be…

BPI Sports Whey HD – it is sweet, comes in many flavours and also ups your daily protein intake which will make you feel fuller (protein does tend to be the macronutrient many struggle to hit).

BPI Sports Best Protein Bar – Smores and Cookies and Cream are my favourite! But these bars are pretty much one of the best sweet bars I have ever had. Plus their macronutrients are great!

How to make your Diet WORK this time!

Are you sick of Yo Yo Dieting? Tired of giving up? Tried all of the Diets and they just don’t work for you?

Make this the last time!

Remember, take it step by step. Do not jump in at the deep end. Do not go from eating 3,000 calories to 1,500 because this will shock your body. In the same way, do not go from eating whatever you want to expecting to be 100% “clean” as this will shock your mind too much and it will not be sustainable.

Try first making simple exchanges in your diet to “clean it up” in an easier way. This can educate you in healthy choices and being conscious with what you eat. Once this becomes easy, you can then set specific goals.

Work out your calories and macros, either with help from a coach or independently. Think of your goals as a BANK.

For example:

If you have 200g carbs in your plan, and you eat 50g for breakfast, you have 150g left.

You can “spend” your macros with what foods you like (preferably from what is recommended) but then you will have to balance this out with the rest of the day if you want to progress.

Also take into consideration when you find yourself feeling hunger. Do not use all of your allowance in meals 1 and 2 then be hungry all day when you know you are hungriest at night. This will cause you to struggle and cravings will increase!

Try to utilise most of your allowance around your workouts. Again, this will be when your body and mind will be “hungrier” and need more nutrients.

If you still find it hard to hit these goals every day. Do not be disheartened. Maybe arrange your plan to hit your WEEKLY goals.

Once you have worked out these macros for one day, multiply this by 7. This is your weekly goal in each category. Every day track what you have hit in each. If you go over one day (eg you eat 200g carbs over your goal) you still have 6 other days to “make this up” and hit your weekly goal. Just drop some carbs for the next day or over the next few days.

This also makes it easier to plan in social events. If you know you are eating big one night, pre calculate an estimate (always estimate slightly higher for safe measure) and work around your numbers for the rest of the week so that you are still on track.

This way you are will be on top of your numbers and this can lead to lack of guilt!

Another tip for staying on track. Always TRACK – use my fitness pal so that you can move different foods around in your day and still know what you are consuming without being bored.

And meal prep. Once you have decided what you are going to have. Make it and take it with you – to work, to town etc. This way, if you feel peckish you will stick to your plan and will not be swayed by choice or lack of it. This can also help when at home. If you have pre-prepared something you are more likely to eat it then to let it go to waste and not snack on whatever you can.

Finally, forget the guilt. Depending on your goal, this is meant to be a lifestyle choice. And as we know, no one is 100% successful and on

point 100% of the time YOU ARE HUMAN and as long as you keep positive and try your best to utilise all you can. You are doing YOUR BEST. Which is all you can.