Virtual Challenge Event 3 Results

Virtual Challenge Event 3 Results
25 Jul

Results for Event 3 are now available here, sorry for the delay. Congratulations to all those who took part, including Strava Segment winners Elaina Gard and Adam Stokes and fastest lady Hannah Steeds.

Don’t forget, event 4 closes tomorrow night and there will be a recce tomorrow morning, sign up for the recce on the club’s Facebook page.

AGM 2020 Election Results

18 Jul

On Wednesday the Club held its first ever virtual AGM, which saw possibly the largest turnout in the club’s history both for the meeting itself and in voting for the election of club officers.  It was not possible to give a final result in the elections on the night due to the need to ratify the results, this has now been done and after the removal of a few duplicate and ineligible votes we are pleased to announce the Club’s new management committee and club officers are as follows.

Management Committee

  • Chair – Maria Townsend
  • Vice Chair – Mike Down
  • Honorary General Secretary – Vacant
  • Honorary Treasurer – Vacant
  • Membership Secretary – Betti Farkas
  • Publicity and Marketing Officer – Callum Jones
  • Officials Secretary – Betti Farkas
  • Development Adviser – Paul Filer
  • Young Athlete Development Adviser – Dean Garrett
  • Minuting Secretary – Ben Westhenry
  • Facilities Manager – Roger Brocklesby
  • Committee Members without Portfolio – Nick Harris, Joshua Moody, Kurt Taylor

Club Officers

  • Safeguarding & Welfare – Emma Withers & Paul Jefferson
  • Coaching Coordinator – Paul Filer
  • Records and Statistics – Mike Strange
  • Social Secretary – Vacant
  • Promotions Officer – Vacant

The vote for the ammended club constitution was carried almost unanimously.

In many cases the voting was very close, the club wishes to thank everyone who has volunteered to help and also everyone who participated in the AGM, it was great to see such a large turnout.  The club is always in need of more volunteers and we look forward to working with those who volunteered their time but were unsuccessful in the recent elections and all other volunteers to make a difference and improve our club for all.

Sports Performance Part 2: Maximising Recovery and Adaptation

11 Jul


The following article will explain the importance of both specific and general adaptations and how they impact performance. Outline methods of recovery and how to address and prioritise each one to maximise the effects of training and reduce the risks associated with over training.

Over training is very common amongst athletes in all age groups and the hardest job for a coach is to design and deliver a training programme that delivers the optimal amount of work load/ volume and intensities.

When working with smaller groups managing these variables becomes easier and adapting the training programme based off feedback is crucial for the athletes success.I regularly stress  to my athletes to record their sessions, their times, the weather and how they feel so I can use their feedback going forward.
This is particularly important for individuals in larger groups as athletes can easily slip through the cracks.

The primary goal to training is adaptation and this occurs between sessions and athletes must be able to tolerate and handle the intensities and volumes if they are expected to adapt. If these variables are too high, it can easily lead to over training.

Identifying Over Training

An effective training programme requires a balance between intense training sessions and periods of rest/recovery. Too much overload and/or not enough recovery can result in both physiological and psychological symptoms that limit performance or attendance.

Identifying over training can be difficult as the scope for measuring over training is very wide. More than 125 signs and symptoms have been identified in published literature which makes a definitive diagnosis very challenging.
However you notice

1. Decreased performance 

2. Increased perceived effort during workouts.

3. Lack of motivation

4. Chronic or nagging injuries

5. Irritability or high temperament

Progressive Overload and Recovery

The legendary Olympic Wrestler, Milo of Croton, was recorded to have carried a new born calf on his shoulders everyday.
Each day he became stronger as the calf grew. Initially people laughed at him but through through this process of progressive overload, he became the strongest wrestler in Ancient Greece.
His process may have seemed very simple but it worked and he avoided over training and allowed his body to adapt to a consistent method with small increments in intensity, which allowed him to regularly load the body until the Ox became too big.


Train like Milo

Without sufficient recovery we cannot adapt to the demands of training.

    • Listen to your body and take extra recovery time if needed.
    • Follow a well structured periodised training programme with varying periods of intense/high-volume training with extended periods of rest/recovery.
    • Recovery/rest between intense workouts is critical because this is when muscle tissue repair and growth occur; usually 24 to 72 hours depending on the intensity and volume of the session.

As a coach I take responsibility for my athletes training programmes and when necessary I adapt the sessions to fit their needs but what the athletes do between their sessions is their responsibility.

Prioritising Methods of Recovery.

The updated recovery pyramid created by Nick Grantham.

I am particularly fond of this as it prioritises the methods of recovery and covers almost every method to assist recovery between sessions.
If you’re not addressing level 1 by not consistently getting enough sleep, consuming nutritious food with the caloric demands of your event and needs or addressing proper body management, all the benefits gained from the levels above will negligible.
Today I will cover Level 1.

Sleep for Performance and Minimising Injury Rates

Speaking from experience, the more mature and goal driven the athlete, the more they value the importance of their sleep. There are many distractions and factors that can interrupt or delay sleep which is why it is really important to create and stick to a schedule.

Milewski et al. 2014 found athletes who slept on average less than 8 hours per night were 1.7 times more likely to have had an injury compared with athletes who slept for more than 8 hours.

A lack of sleep has not only significantly increases your risk of injury but also reduces accuracy and sprint times in basketball players.
Very few athletes will stay up late the day before a competition but wouldn’t think twice about doing it before the night before a training day. If your goal is to run fast, you need to be in a physical and mental state to do so for training, not just competition.


A healthy, balanced, nutritiously dense diet can vary depending on each person metabolic and caloric demands but it is very important serious athletes consume adequate amounts of protein, carbohydrates and fats to offset energy expenditure.

Research over the last decade has indicated that athletes engaged in intense training need to ingest about two times the usual recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein in their diet to maintain protein balance.An insufficient amount of protein in the diet leads to the negative nitrogen balance, which can increase protein catabolism and can slow post-workout recovery. This may lead to muscle wasting, training intolerance and, certainly, over training.

By consuming carbohydrates with your protein, your body releases insulin. Elevated insulin levels help your muscles absorb amino acids/ Protein.

As exercise increases, muscle glycogen (where we store carbohydrates) becomes used up, which causes a higher need for carbohydrates. For children and teens involved in high intensity athletic activities, eating the right amount of carbohydrates before, during, and after an event is very important! Often teenagers are fooled into thinking low-carb and high protein diets will help them gain significant muscle mass. This is NOT true. A diet low in carbs will not only decrease muscle potential, it will also worsen overall athletic performance.

Recommended Amounts

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada and the American College of Sports Medicine recommend 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day for athletes, depending on training. Protein intake should be spaced throughout the day and after workouts.

Burke et al. Suggest Carbohydrate ranges of 5 to 7 g/kg/day for general training needs and 7 to 10 g/kg/day for the increased needs of endurance athletes.

It is recommended that athletes consume a moderate amount of fat (approximately 30% of their daily caloric intake). Higher-fat diets appear to maintain circulating testosterone concentrations better than low-fat diets.

Adequate consumption of essential fatty acids, especially polyunsaturated fatty acids, are of great importance among athletes. The best sources of essential fatty acids are “fatty” fishes (salmon, tuna, mackerel), some seeds (flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts) and olive oils, ideally unheated.

Body Management & Tools for Recovery

Can be either passive or active recovery, active recovery implies parting effort to directly assist your body’s mobility, flexibility or muscle tension and can inc. yoga, meditation, prehab/rehab or using tools for myofascial release or receiving a massage.
Passive recovery can be something as simple as enjoying your downtime by going for a walk in nature, or listening to music of relaxing with friends.

Below are a list of tools I recommend my athletes buy to assist their active recovery. If used correctly they can save you a lot of money on Massages or Physiotherapists.

1. Rumble Roller

I’ve used foam rollers for the best part of 15 years when the first ones to reach the market were basic foam. By far my favourite foam rollers are the Rumble Rollers.
The best results from foam rolling come from compression of muscle tissue that carries tension, this could be via knots or calcification and compressing and restricting blood flow to that area and overloading the pressure senses in the neurological system cause a greater relief in tension than the act of physically rolling.T
This method is often referred to as trigger point therapy.

2. The Peanut

I first made my peanut back in 2013 after reading Becoming a Supple Leopard by Kelly Starrett. Since then the Peanut can now be bought without taping two hockey or lacrosse balls together.
This tool is especially great for releasing any tension you may carry either side of the spine as the shape fits around the vertebrae nicely.

PROTONE double lacrosse ball for trigger point massage - peanut roller tool for deep muscle massage

3. Lacrosse ball

Brilliant for the glutes as the small surface area can find the spots that a foam roller can’t.

Captain-Lax Lacrosse Ball red -

5. The Massage Stick

The massage stick can be useful as a substitute for a foam roller if the foam roller is too large, I personally use the stick to roll the outside of the quads. You can also use the handles either side to work up and down the muscle but I’ve never been able to apply enough force to get a good result. This tool is also great for rolling your feet.

 PhysioRoom Trigger Point Massage Stick - Portable Flexible Self Massage Roller - Pre & Post Sport

6. Massage gun 

When the massage guns first hit the market they were incredibly expensive for what they were.
Eventually China started building budget options. I purchased a cheap knock off version about 8 months ago for less than £40.
When I compared my gun to my clients G3 Pro Theragun, pictured below. The matched up fairly well and I didn’t think the £300 price difference was worth it. The Theragun was more powerful, had a longer battery life and looked and felt better but the downside was that it was pretty loud and the cheaper option with the link below was much quieter and still leaves you feeling good afterwards.

With the percussive/ vibrating tools I came across World Strongest Man warming up for his Ski Erg world record using a car buffer and back in 2018, before the cheaper alternatives hit the market I would use the same. Video shown below.

Cheap alternative.


Top of the range Theragun.

Practical Applications

It’s one thing to know the information that helps us but to put it into practice is what really matters, below are a few methods I share with my athletes to help them create a structure to help them recover as best as possible between training sessions.


  • Get a minimum 7-8 hours of sleep per night
  • Minimise screen time before bed
  • Have a bed time routine
  • Nap between sessions or in the afternoon if you’re behind on sleep.
  • Use a red light filter on your computer or phone to reduce stimulation
  • Wear a night mask, especially if you have a very light room with light curtains.


  • Eat enough calories and macro nutrients
  • Consume nutrient dense foods
  • Cut down on processed foods & refined sugars
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Nutrition is highly personal and dependant on the demands of the individual

Body Management

  • Passively rest
    – Listen to music
    – Meet with friends
  • Actively rest
    – Massage, foam rolling
    – Go for a walk in the countryside
    – Flexibility & mobility training

Periodisation & Monitoring

  • Plan rest days & recovery sessions
  • Change your training based on performance and fatigue levels
  • Monitor physical and mental readiness by recording in your training diary
  • Avoid over-training

Connell Macquisten

Virtual Challenge Event 4

Virtual Challenge Event 4
07 Jul

Details of the series finale at Stoke Park are now available and results are starting to come in from Event 3, there is still time to enter both events.  Full details are available on the series web page here.

Virtual Challenge Event 2: Whitchurch

Virtual Challenge Event 2: Whitchurch
05 Jul

Results available here and on OpenTrack, 16 people participated including a couple of socially distanced group efforts and handicap style events.  Congratulations to Elaina Gard and Owain Jones our fastest finishers who also took the Strava segment challenge.  Details of all the prizewinners are available on the results link and prizewinners will be contacted shortly about their prizes.

Some results have already come in for Event 3 which is currently underway, it isn’t too late to enter!


Pomphrey Virtual 5k June results, inc Mob Match

05 Jul
The 2019-20 Pomphrey 5k Series Concludes in the Virtual World.
Race director Steve Grant reports:
The last three Pomphrey 5k races were all run in the virtual world and concluded last Tuesday including a Mob Match. Hannah Steeds recorded her second consecutive win in the women’s race and Tariq Kurd did the vets proud by finishing first man.  Bristol & West athletes won all bar two age categories with members of Staple Hill Runners claiming the others.
The mob match was a straight shoot out between Staple Hill Runners and Bristol & West.  At the weekend it looked like Staple Hill Runners were going to take the win with a far greater number of athletes.  However, virtual races allow times to be entered up to the closing minute and a late surge of Bristol & West entries brought the competition much closer with 17 runners from Staple Hill and 15 from Bristol & West.
In the end Bristol & West took first place in the Overall competition but continuing with the theme introduced last year, Staple Hill Runners took the Non-EA club title.
Thanks to everyone who helped with the actual and the virtual Pomphrey 5k series from last September.  We hope to be back for some version of the 2020-21 series once we are allowed and confident we can provide a safe environment for all runners and volunteers.
Full results are available here and on the Pomphrey 5k page.

Sports Performance Part 1 – Blood Flow Restriction Training

01 Jul


I first discovered Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) Training back in 2013 when I was at University and was researching possible methods to increase the stimulation of Type 2b muscle fibres.  However back then I didn’t really know what I was doing and it was very much trial and error and though they have great benefits, which I will discuss in this article, using them alone and without really having a structure I very quickly discarded them and forgot about them until I suffered a very serious knee injury in 2017.
I couldn’t walk and after an MRI scan, I had a bucket handle tear in my meniscus and rather than opt for surgery, I wanted to rehab the injury myself, as research now suggests it’s better in the long run to avoid a meniscectomy as the removal of the cartilage can cause degeneration in the joint and an early onset of osteoarthritis.
In the early stages of the injury I couldn’t bear load but I didn’t want to have to deal with significant muscle wastage so I did bike intervals with BFR bands around my upper thigh. Finally there are three zones to the meniscus, a white zone, with no blood flow, a red white zone with very little blood supply and a red zone which has access to blood, meaning this zone heals the fastest and most efficiently. I have no evidence but my theory was,  if I could occlude the blood in my leg, this may influence the repair deeper in the meniscus and I was going to use the BFR bands to maintain as much muscle mass and fitness anyhow.

I believe it worked, the injury to a long time to repair because I kept doing sports that place a lot of stress on the knees but I maintained a decent amount of muscle mass through the first few stages and it was then I started researching the use of Blood Flow Restriction training and began using them with my athletes and that season had some of their best results and the 2 hamstring injuries that came about had a very fast turn around time.

Introduction and History

Blood Flow Restriction training is becoming more and more popular thanks to social media but this method  was invented in Japan in 1966 and perfected through the 1970’s by Japanese Professor Dr. Yoshiaki Sato. BFR and the KAATSU method is the result of his life work and has had 100’s of studies published around his method

KAATSU is a Japanese word and trademarked term where KA (加) means “additional” and ATSU (圧) means “pressure”and uses the moderation of blood flow in the arms and legs in order to exercise effectively and efficiently. Limb blood flow is restricted via the occlusion cuff throughout the contraction cycle and rest period. This results in partial restriction of arterial inflow to muscle, but, most significantly restricts venous outflow from the muscle.

Dr. Yoshiaki Sato first discovered the idea of blood flow moderation training in a Buddhist ceremony  where his legs went numb whilst kneeling on the floor. He could barely stand the pain any longer with his legs bent underneath him. Out of desperation, he began to massage his calves in an attempt to relieve the discomfort during the long ceremony. He realised that his blood circulation was blocked in his calves as he was sitting directly on his feet.
Over the next 7 years he tried and tested various methods and tools to restrict the blood flow to the limbs and by the age of 25, Sato developed the details of Kaatsu as it is currently practiced. At that time, he was a ski trip and fractured his ankle and damaged the ligaments around his knee. The injuries were diagnosed and the doctors told Sato that it would take 6 months to heal. With a plaster cast on, Sato rehabilitated himself with Kaatsu Bands applied to his upper leg.
He repeatedly applied Kaatsu pressure on and off while doing isometric exercises for 30 seconds on and a few seconds off three times per day. The results of his regimen shocked his doctor when his muscles did not atrophy and he fully recovered within 6 weeks.

Physiological Functions & Adaptations

During occlusion training the Type 1 and 2a fibres are starved of oxygen decreasing their work capacity. This increases a neural stimulation to other fibres of the same type that may be inactive and increases motor recruitment. That is to say when we actively contract the muscle we only every activate a percentage of it’s contained fibres. The percentage activated will vary from person to person but will never reach 100% of the muscle without external intervention from devices such as a Compex Muscle Stimulator which uses electrical impulses to stimulate 100% of motor units and in turn muscle fibres. By activating more fibers through occlusion training we are better able to train more of the muscle to the demands of our sports than we would likely be able to through standardized training alone. Once the Type 1 and 2a fibres are depleted and fatigued we recruit Type 2b fibres to continue the exercise in the absence of oxygen.

Muscle contractions under these conditions of restricted and impeded blood flow and congested vascular space, uses up intracellular phosphates energy stores and oxygen at a rate greater than the circulation can replenish them. Metabolic waste products accumulate. Homeostasis in the active muscle is lost. Consequently, as the tissue becomes more hypoxic and energy stores depleted, anaerobic glycolysis attempts to compensate by increasing its rate, which produces some ATP, but also produces a marked disturbance in muscle homeostasis, ultimately raising intracellular, interstitial and blood lactic acid concentrations. Hypoxia, acidosis, lactate ion per se, inorganic phosphate, AMP and many other local factors have been shown to turn on transcription and thus, protein synthesis in muscle cells. This is the so-called “local effect” of KAATSU that results in stimulation of muscle, tendon and vascular growth.

Health Benefits

The majority of the exposure around BFR training has been in the ‘fitness’ / bodybuilding world due to it’s ability to increase muscle mass but these benefits can also crossover to the older population.
One study found that Muscle size and arterial stiffness after blood flow-restricted low-intensity resistance training in older adults as  significant gains were found in a group of healthy adults 61-84 years old.

Researchers observed an 8% increase in MRI cross-sectional area, a 34% increase in leg press strength (1-RM),  an 18% improvement in squat volume exercise, and it has been widely documented that leg and grip strength are great indicators for longevity.

One study from 2000, explored what was happening as a result of KAATSU/ BFR training and found that muscle cross-sectional area and isokinetic strength increased with the experimental group while doing KAATSU and working only with light weights.

But, what really got the attention of researchers was how plasma lactate concentrations were higher in the KAATSU group working with light weights (higher than the KAATSU group working with heavier weights at 80% 1-RM.) Take a look at figure-4 from the study: ‘I would assume this would be due to length of the sets and total time under tension being greater in the lighter load’.

This implies that not only can you increase hormonal responses to metabolic stress with KAATSU, but you may see more of an effect using very light weights versus the heavier weights/resistance. This study really kick-started the global KAATSU movement.

Performance Benefits – Anaerobic Running & 100m Sprint

This study was actually made aware to me by one of old ex athletes (credit to Will Kennedy), we had just been doing a block of high volume BFR step ups in the gym and he had found that these bands could be used for our aerobic tempo sessions, our submaximal conditioning sessions to not only improve the athletes ability to recover between reps and improve contact stiffness but coupled with the BFR bands, we could directly influence 100m sprint times.

Behringer et al. 2016 found that Low-Intensity Sprint Training With Blood Flow Restriction Improves 100-m Dash. The results showed a greater increase of the rectus femoris muscle thickness (a muscle well developed in elite sprinters) and a higher rate of force development and a significant reduction 100m times in the BFR group.

If you’re interested in reading this study in more detail please follow this link.

Performance Benefits – Aerobic Running and VO2 Max

As for aerobic running and VO2 Max improvements, which is not my area of expertise, I did come across a study with BFR training VO2 Max and 1.5 mile performance times and I appreciate to many endurance athletes, that isn’t very far.
Interestingly this was measured after participants (well trained males) performed BFR walking and the results showed significant improvements in VO2Max, decreased 1.5mile run times and increases in muscle mass in the thigh.
Having walked up mountains with BFR bands in the past, I can confirm it makes it a lot harder and do believe regular work with the bands could see the benefits for endurance athletes.
You can find the study and abstract below.

Click to access 38.%20The%20Effects%20of%20Blood%20Flow%20Restriction%20Training%20on%20VO2max%20and%201.5%20Mile%20Run%20Performance%20(Air%20Force).pdf

In fact research from (Abe et al., 2006)  on BFR and (AE) Aerobic Exercise that has shown the training effects to take place within 6 weeks of training and that the intensities used during BFR-AE are generally low in nature (45% heart rate reserve or 40% VO2 max).

Safety and Concerns

Wrapping the limbs and performing exercises can seem alarming to many who haven’t looked into the research and for many years I’ve had to support the safety of using tourniquets for exercise and I appreciate seeing veins bulging from the muscles might looking worrying, however I always evaluate the risk to reward ratio and following KAATSU protocol there is a near perfect safety record in patients that were arguable some of the most vulnerable patients in the hospital.

If you still have any doubts, please see the following 32 studies.

  1. Kaatsu Training: Application to Metabolic Syndrome
  2. Effects of Exercise and Anti-Aging
  3. Effect of KAATSU training on a patient with benign fasciculation syndrome
  4. A case of dementia presenting remarkable improvement in activities of daily living through KAATSU training
  5. Effects of low-intensity, elastic band resistance exercise combined with blood flow restriction on muscle activation
  6. Muscle hypertrophy following blood flow-restricted low force isometric electrical stimulation in rat tibialis anterior: Role for muscle hypoxia
  7. Hemodynamic and autonomic nervous responses to the restriction of femoral blood flow by KAATSU
  8. Can KAATSU be used for an orthostatic stress in astronauts?: A case study
  9. Repetitive Restriction of Muscle Blood Flow Enhances mTOR Signaling Pathways in a Rat Model
  10. Resistance exercise combined with KAATSU during simulated weightlessness
  11. Effects of Low-Load, Elastic Band Resistance Training Combined With Blood Flow Restriction on Muscle Size and Arterial Stiffness in Older Adults
  12. Key considerations when conducting KAATSU training
  13. Pentraxin3 and high-sensitive C-reactive protein are independent inflammatory markers released during high-intensity exercise
  14. KAATSU training as a new effective exercise therapy in a case of femoral medial condyle osteonecrosis
  15. Ischemic Circulatory Physiology, Kaatsu Training
  16. Use and safety of KAATSU training: Results of a national survey in 2016
  17. Effects of Low-Intensity KAATSU Resistance Training on Skeletal Muscle Size and Muscle Strength/Endurance Capacity in Patients with Ischemic Heart Diseases
  18. Low-intensity KAATSU resistance exercises using an elastic band enhance muscle activation in patients with cardiovascular diseases
  19. Increases in Thigh Muscle Volume and Strength by Walk Training With Leg Blood Flow Reduction in Older Participants
  20. Effect of knee extension exercise with KAATSU on forehead cutaneous blood flow in healthy young and middle-aged women
  21. Electromyographic responses of arm and chest muscle during bench press exercise with and without KAATSU
  22. Effects of KAATSU training on haemostasis in healthy subjects
  23. Effects of Walking With Blood Flow Restriction on Limb Venous Compliance in Elderly Subjects
  24. KAATSU training® in a case of patients with periventricular leukomalacia(PVL)
  25. Hemodynamic responses to simulated weightlessness of 24-h head-down bed rest and KAATSU blood flow restriction
  26. Effect of Low-Load Resistance Exercise With and Without Blood Flow Restriction to Volitional Fatigue on Muscle Swelling
  27. Hemodynamic and Hormonal Responses to a Short-Term Low-Intensity Resistance Exercise With the Reduction of Muscle Blood Flow
  28. Effect of KAATSU training on thigh muscle size and safety for a patient with knee meniscectomy over 3 years
  29. The effects of low-intensity KAATSU resistance exercise on intracellular neutrophil PTX3 and MPO
  30. Hemodynamic and neurohumoral responses to the restriction of femoral blood flow by KAATSU in healthy subjects
  31. Combination of KAATSU training® and BCAA intake for a patient after aortic valve replacement surgery: A case study
  32. Electromyographic responses of arm and chest muscle during bench press exercise with and without KAATSU

KAATSU training has even been shown to help those suffered with heart attacks and strokes as it can help with high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome. : Kaatsu Application to Metabolic Syndrome.


This is positive, however, evidence from Patterson et al. (2017) suggests that practitioners are unclear on how to use and apply BFR in line with current research informed standards.
Inflatable cuffs are commonly used in studies to precisely control the applied pressure for BFR. However, the high costs and limited accessibility, as in case of the original equipment (KAATSU Master; Sato Sports Plaza Ltd., Tokyo, Japan) , provides a significant access barrier to athletes interested in this type of training. Fortunately, recently published studies reported that elastic knee wraps provide a practical alternative for using BFR outside of laboratory settings and these wraps enable a venous pooling without an arterial occlusion.

With the growth of BFR bands in the Strength & Conditioning industry, it is very easy to find wide BFR tourniquets on Amazon at an affordable price.
When applying the bands, the most common measurement for applying pressure is for the athlete to tighten them to a perceived scale of discomfort of  7/10. 10 being uncomfortable and too tight.
I always follow the method from the studies I am wishing to recreate the desired effects from and for more guidelines on how to use BFR I recommend the KAATSU user manual.

What is recommended :

  • KAATSU Clients should never exceed a 15-minute maximum KAATSU session on arms and a 20-minute maximum KAATSU session on legs
  • There should never be any occlusion; KAATSU Clients should always have pink or beefy red palms on arms and flushedlegs.
  • Do KAATSU 3-4 times per week for Injured Individuals
  • Do not lift heavy weights when doing KAATSU (Recommended 30-40% maximum)
  • Release the KAATSU Bands if you feel something is not right. If you feel lightheaded or if you have an unusual pain on one side or the other, stop and continue on another day
  • Do 3-5 different exercises during KAATSU Training (e.g., hand grips, arm curls, tricep extensions). Each exercise should comprise 3 sets of 20-30 repetitions (or until you reach failure), with 20 seconds rest between sets.

If you follow these guidelines and match your training to the methods in the study you wish to recreate in your training you will safely reap the rewards of the BFR / KAATSU training methods.

Connell Macquisten.

National Road Relays + T&F rankings update

National Road Relays + T&F rankings update
27 Jun

Club Statistician Mike Strange continues to work his way through all the club rankings bringing them up to date, the latest batch (here) includes:

  • Women’s Discus
  • Women’s Steeplechase
  • Women’s Half Marathon

Additionally historical records of club participation and some photos of past successes in a number of Regional and National events are now available for all age groups here, including:

  • National Road Relays (Spring and Autumn)
  • Midland Road Relays (Spring and Autumn)
  • National Cross Country Championships
  • Midland Cross Country Championships

Sports Nutrition Part 1 – Supplements, for Health and Performance

25 Jun


The following article will attempt to clarify any concerns or doubts surrounding the effectiveness of supplements for performance in sport or health.

  • Highlight how supplements can be used as a great addition to a balanced nutritious diet
  • The plausible reasons as to why the demands of modern day farming might impact the quality and content of vitamins and minerals found in our foods today.
  • List and detail the differences between water and fat soluble vitamins, macro and micro minerals
  • Supplements for performance 
  • How to identify ‘good/ safe’ brands to avoid contamination
  • How elite athletes are tested for banned substances.

My view on supplements has changed a lot over the last 10  years. At one point I was obsessed, then from one extreme to the other, I didn’t take anything and now I take a handful of products for both health and performance that I also recommend to my athletes.

The bottom line is supplements for health can make a big difference if someone has a very poor diet, likewise for performance, I believe supplements can help both motivate athletes and depending on the product, give them a better result from training through physiological benefits, however very few supplements have shown true effectiveness.
There are also stimulants to help intensity which can be useful before a competition. With all this being said, supplements will not make up for poor training, poor diet or poor sleep habit.

Modern Day Farming and Soil Depletion

When stating a claim I like to weigh up both sides and make a decision for myself.
A few studies have shown that due to an increased demand of farming to meet with the demands of an ever growing society, with more frequently farmed patches of land, new fertilisers, the quality of soil becomes less and less nutrient dense overtime and because of soil depletion, crops grown decades ago were much richer in vitamins and minerals than the varieties most of us get today and efforts to breed new varieties of crops that provide greater yield, pest resistance and climate adaptability have allowed crops to grow bigger and more rapidly, but their ability to manufacture or uptake nutrients has not kept pace with their rapid growth.

A Kushi Institute analysis of nutrient data from 1975 to 1997 found that average calcium levels in 12 fresh vegetables dropped 27 percent; iron levels 37 percent; vitamin A levels 21 percent, and vitamin C levels 30 percent. A similar study of British nutrient data from 1930 to 1980, published in the British Food Journal,found that in 20 vegetables the average calcium content had declined 19 percent; iron 22 percent; and potassium 14 percent. Yet another study concluded that one would have to eat eight oranges today to derive the same amount of Vitamin A as our grandparents would have gotten from one.

These were conclusions from and they reason that well-conducted comparisons have shown that consistent trends of decrease in content of certain nutrients are mostly seen only when crops are lumped into broad groups of vegetables, fruits, and grains and statistical significance is lost when trying to see historical changes by comparing varieties of a single crop due to a high degree of variability.

The study authors who found statistically significant decreases in the content of particular mineral nutrients per dry weight of fruits, vegetables, or grains all agreed that these changes were not likely to have any significant impact on the nutritional health of consumers, a fact glossed over in some popular press reports citing these studies.

So unless we grow our own crops or move to a rural country (where fruit and veg almost always taste better and are more likely to have nutrient contents) if you are concerned you may not be getting enough from your diet, the next best thing would be to take a supplement.

Water Soluble Vitamins

There are two types of vitamins, water soluble and fat soluble. Most vitamins are water-soluble, meaning they dissolve in water. These include eight B vitamins and vitamin C. Water-soluble vitamins are easy to get from a balanced diet.

However, vitamin B12 is only found in substantial amounts in animal-sourced foods. As a result, vegans are at a high risk of deficiency and will need to take supplements or get regular injections.

It is also important to note that the body generally doesn’t store water-soluble vitamins, except for vitamin B12. Meaning, you should aim to get them from your diet every day.

Every vitamin and mineral has a function within the body. Vitamin C for example is a powerful antioxidant and has an essential role in connective tissue healing, has the potential to accelerate bone healing after a fracture, increase type I collagen synthesis.

Fat Soluble Vitamins

In contrast,  fat-soluble vitamins are similar to oil and do not dissolve in water.  These are vitamin A, D, E and K.

Vitamin A is necessary for cell growth , body growth, hair growth, fetal development and vision and is found in animal-sourced foods. The main natural food sources are liver, fish liver oil and butter.

Vitamin D, Nicknamed the sunshine vitamin, is produced by your skin when it’s exposed to sunlight. It is best known for its beneficial effects on bone health, and deficiency makes you highly susceptible to bone fractures. Vitamin D is really important because it’s role is regulates so many functions in the body inc hormones, low levels of Vitamin D correlate with low levels of testosterone, which is crucial for performance and recovery.

Vitamin E is a a powerful antioxidant protects your cells against premature aging and damage by free radicals

Vitamin K plays a key role in blood clotting. Without it, you would run the risk of bleeding to death. “koagulation,” the Danish word for coagulation, which means clotting.

With the exception of Vitamin D, most of these fat soluble vitamins are easy to get from a diverse diet, especially if you eat plenty of nuts, seeds, vegetables, fish and eggs.

Macro Minerals/ Trace Minerals 

The body needs many minerals; these are called essential minerals. Essential minerals are sometimes divided up into macro minerals and trace minerals.
These two groups of minerals are equally important, but trace minerals are needed in smaller amounts than major minerals. The amounts needed in the body are not an indication of their importance.

A balanced diet usually provides all of the essential minerals, you can also get a decent boost of these minerals from a high quality multi-vitamin if you wish.

Rather than list each mineral extensively, if you would like to learn more about these minerals and what they do, this website has a brilliant graph that explains it all in detail.

Zinc Depletion from Endurance Running and Testosterone

Before I move on, I’m a big fan of taking a Zinc supplement and I believe on top of a nutrient dense diet, many athletes could benefit from taking Zinc and in fact Magnesium too but it has been shown that long term endurance training has been shown to significantly decrease resting serum zinc levels in both male and female athletes compared to sedentary controls.

It has also been found that men who received 30 milligrams of zinc per day showed increased levels of free testosterone in their bodies. Because your body can’t store zinc, you need to take it in every day.

Supplements for Performance

Aside from a balanced, nutritious diet and taking Zinc and Magnesium to assist recovery, there are plenty of supplements on the market that claim to improve performance and I highly recommend checking out for an extensive database on almost every supplement with a study to back it’s claim.

Personally I only recommend what I take myself, one of which is a good quality Whey Protein supplement. There is no denying that, if you want to increase your protein intake, a powder can make your life easier. If daily protein targets are achieved through dietary protein alone, supplementation is unnecessary but for many power/ strength athletes I believe they under eat their daily protein requirements.

Secondly, I recommend taking Creatine, especially for power oriented sports. Creatine has been shown time and time again that it has the ability to rapidly increase strength and power output from training compared to placebo alternatives. It has also been shown to increase muscular endurance and VO2 max in a number of studies, an unwanted side effect could be the retention of water in the muscle cells which can lead to an increase in body weight. So some athletes may wish to come off Creatine before their competition season.

Finding a ‘Good/ Reliable’ brand 

Before I returned to athletics in 2016 I was very much involved in the ‘fitness’ industry, I had attended seminars across the U.K hosted by supplement companies and had presented at national trade show, which was heavily orientated towards selling ‘sports supplements’ and I even had very short term contract with a supplement company, where I had the good fortune of visiting their manufacturing labs to see how their supplements were made and how they  tested their their product for quality.

This is where I learnt first hand that many brands will package a product with really low quality ingredients or under dosing what is recommended by studies showing the effectiveness of the supplement, meaning you’re paying for a product that will likely not do anything.
This happens a lot in proprietary blends, where a product has multiple ingredients and it’s really common for them to under dose.

As for lower quality ingredients, there are usually multiple forms in which minerals can be delivered into the body and generally the more expensive the product the higher the bio availability, or the easier it is for your body to absorb the mineral.
Generally the cheaper the cost, the less available form is within the supplement.
As I only take Zinc and Magnesium as my minerals, I look to try and get these in either citrate, picolinate or oratate as these have been shown have better absorption rates in healthy adults and there is little to no absorption to Zinc oxide which is often also under dosed in my supplements.

If you’re interested in reading more about the differences between Zinc oxide and citrate, check out this study.

General rule of thumb, any product using an oxide would be considered cheap and lower quality and I would look for more well established brands in the sports and health industry rather than the fitness and bodybuilding industry.

Cross Contamination

Tainted supplements are very rare and extremely unlikely to occur if the company provides batch testing and you can even check when their last batch test occurred, this is where they randomly select their product and test them for their ingredients purity. Some companies, such as MyProtein offer batch tested products but not all of their products are batch tested, they have a range of products that generally cost more to off set the cost of testing and for the products to be made in a specific location separate to their other products to avoid cross contamination.

Cross contamination is a grey area and it’s still the athletes fault if they fail a drugs test and this can happen in two ways, either through companies sharing factories which mean the machines used in one product can leave residue for another or if a company deceives their customer base by adding an ingredient that is ‘banned’ in elite sport but wont disclose the ingredient. This is more common in the United States or China.

You might be asking why they would do that. Generally these companies won’t be looking to market to elite athletes but rather the bodybuilding or fitness industry, this industry has no testing protocol and companies want to create a product that produces a better result than their competitors

Though it’s unlikely cross contamination will occur, it’s not unheard of and in some exceptional circumstances WADA or USADA will buy in bulk the product they claim to have taken and do their own testing to see if their claim is legitimate and confirm whether or not they will serve their full ban, in some rare cases they have overruled bans. The only reason this will happen is if the product contains a banned substance not listed in the ingredients.

These are the ones everyone should look out for and in my experience they usually have the most extreme names or images on the packaging and before reading the ingredients you look at it questioning if its safe to take and it is always the responsibility of the athlete to check what they take and if a coach suggests you take something that is banned, you should definitely find another coach!

If you’re unsure about a product and here are the two most important websites to check out to see if your product has them in.

Elite Athletes & Drug Testing 

To clear up any misunderstanding, there are two occasions in which an athlete can be ‘drug’ tested, in competition and outside competition. Technically there is a time frame in which someone is classed to be in competition but for this case I will just use post race testing.
Both cases are reserved for exceptional athletes and in my time as a coach, I have only ever had one athlete get tested and that was post race after he ran an incredibly quick time as an under 20.

As for random, out of competition testing.  I have athletes as clients who are ranked within the top 5 in the UK, have competed internationally for Great Britain as a Senior tha are not on the ADAMs/ Whereabouts register.
ADAMS is the Anti-Doping Administration Management System (ADAMS) managed by WADA.

Credit to Dave Taylor-Green as he informed that you also do not have to be on the Whereabouts register to have random drug testers come by and that you do not have to win a medal at Championships to warrant a post race drugs tests and if you are asked, you are allowed a representative (coach or friend) near by if you please.

If you’re curious to learn more about their whereabouts system here is a link

You may have read the recent article in Athletics Weekly on Christian Coleman as he has missed three tests (again) and knowing the testing protocol secondhand as I lived with someone who had random drug testers come to the flat, there is absolutely no reason to miss two tests, let alone three, unless of course, you don’t want to be tested.

Athletes are required to submit their whereabouts for one hour every day, plus overnight accommodation and training information, in case they are needed for out-of-competition testing.

The last quarter of their article summaries it up, and I highly recommend reading it.

Many athletes have reacted to the latest news, with 2011 world 1500m silver medallist Hannah England, who is chair of the UK Athletics Athlete Commission, writing on Twitter: “Whereabouts can feel invasive and be stressful – particularly with travel. But it is ONE HOUR A DAY, not all day every day. An inconvenience that is worth it to protect clean sport. Going shopping during your slot when you are on two missed test is taking a huge risk with your career.”

Britain’s European and Commonwealth long jump medallist Jazmin Sawyers wrote: “As athletes we have few genuine responsibilities. The one biggie we do have is to give the drug testers one hour a day when we’re going to be at an address, and then to be there for that hour. It’s annoying but not difficult. One hour. Choose 6-7 am and make life easy for yourself.”

While Olympic and world medallist Eilidh Doyle wrote: “Even when I was in hospital for three days, having my baby, my first thought was I better update my whereabouts. It’s just what has to be done to ensure credibility within our sport.”


To summarise, I do believe high quality supplements alongside a nutritious diet is the best way forward for both health and performance. I wouldn’t recommend spending anymore than what you can afford as supplements can get expensive. It’s important to find a reputable brand that is well establish in either the health or sports world and if you’re concerned about any cross contamination or if a product looks suspect, check to see if the ingredients are on the banned substances list.It’s always safer to find a company that does batch testing or has the informed sport logo and if you’re pushing your body to the limits regularly you may notice the benefits of taking supplements more so than the average person.

Connell Macquisten.