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Fit to Kitesurf…Quicker – Review of “Body by Science.”

This month I’ve been reading “Body by Science” by Doug McGuff M.D. and John Little and I want to begin a series where I review the best books I read which I believe can have the biggest benefit for you and your kitesurfing.

Have you ever wondered if it’s possible to achieve peak fitness in less time?

“Body by Science”  could be the answer you’re looking for. Tailored for those who are pressed for time yet committed to fitness, it challenges conventional workout norms and presents a scientifically backed, efficient approach to strength training and overall wellness.

The Core Philosophy: The “Big Five” Workout

At the heart of “Body by Science” lies the “Big Five” workout regimen, a novel approach that synergises compound exercises with the principle of time under tension. 

Scientific Foundations: Efficiency and Effectiveness

The book’s foundation in scientific evidence is compelling. It starts by asking the question could short, intense, strength based workouts be more beneficial than spending lifting weights hours at the gym?

Studies paralleling High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which shares core principles with the “Big Five,” have shown remarkable improvements in metabolic health and exercise capacity in various populations. This is particularly relevant for busy professionals seeking impactful, time-efficient workouts. The book then takes these discoveries and shows how they can be applied to strength training for similar results.

The “Big Five” Workout

Compound Exercises for Comprehensive Engagement

  • The “Big Five” workout consists of compound exercises, involving multiple muscle groups and joint actions. This includes the leg press, pulldown, chest press, overhead press, and seated row​​.
  • These exercises are not only effective but also simple to perform, ensuring that even those new to strength training can execute them properly.

Time Under Tension and Muscle Involvement

  • A key concept in the “Big Five” is the focus on time under tension. This approach maximises muscle fibre recruitment, especially important for stimulating growth and strength in fast-twitch muscle fibres. What this means in practice is that you perform a low number of reps very slowly, until total muscle failure, all within a working window of about 2 minutes. It’s brutal!
  • Each exercise in the “Big Five” is designed to work the muscles in a thorough and balanced manner, ensuring that all fibre types are engaged and fatigued.

Example Exercises:

Overhead Press: Technique and Muscular Recruitment

  • The overhead press, part of the “Big Five,” involves significant triceps, deltoid, and pectoralis muscle engagement. The exercise is designed to recruit these muscles in a systematic manner, ensuring an effective workout without risking shoulder impingement, which can be common with poorly executed overhead movements​​.

Leg Press: Targeting the Lower Body

  • The leg press, another crucial component of the “Big Five,” targets almost every muscle in the lower body, including the hips, buttocks, hamstrings, quadriceps, and even the calf muscles. This exercise ensures a comprehensive lower body workout, essential for overall strength and functional fitness​​.

Efficiency and Safety

  • The “Big Five” workout is not just about what exercises are performed, but also how they are executed. The focus on controlled movements, proper form, and full muscle engagement ensures safety and effectiveness.
  • For busy professionals and kitesurfers, this means a workout which delivers maximum results in minimum time with a low risk of injury (even if you’ve been sedentary all day), aligning perfectly with a hectic schedule and spending more time on the water.

The concept of ‘time under tension’ (TUT) is a fundamental principle underlying the effectiveness of the workout regimen proposed. This approach is different from traditional sets and reps in several key ways, all grounded in scientific understanding of muscle physiology and training efficiency.

Understanding Time Under Tension

  • Continuous Muscle Engagement: Traditional weightlifting often includes brief moments of rest at the beginning or end of each rep, where muscles are not actively engaged. In contrast, time under tension emphasizes continuous muscle engagement throughout the set. This constant tension increases the intensity of the workout, forcing the muscles to work harder and potentially leading to greater strength gains and muscle hypertrophy.
  • Maximising Muscle Fibre Recruitment: Prolonged tension increases the recruitment of muscle fibres, particularly the fast-twitch fibres responsible for strength and power. Traditional workouts might not engage these fibres as effectively unless very heavy weights are used.
  • Enhancing Metabolic Stress: Time under tension creates greater metabolic stress in muscles, which is a key factor in muscle growth and adaptation. This stress leads to various physiological responses, including the release of growth hormones and local muscular endurance improvements.
  • Efficiency: For busy professionals, time under tension offers an efficient way to train. By keeping muscles under continuous work, the total time needed for a workout is reduced without compromising the quality and effectiveness of the exercise.

Why It’s More Effective Than Traditional Sets and Reps

  • Enhanced Muscle Growth and Strength: Studies suggest that muscle growth is more influenced by total time spent under tension rather than the number of reps or the amount of weight lifted. This means that even with lighter weights, if the muscle is kept under tension for a longer duration, it can lead to significant strength and size gains.
  • Improved Muscle Endurance: Continuous tension increases the muscles’ endurance capabilities, which is beneficial for both everyday activities and athletic performance.
  • Reduced Risk of Injury: Time under tension often involves slower, more controlled movements, reducing the risk of injury that can come from lifting heavier weights or performing rapid, explosive movements.
  • Accessibility: This approach can be more accessible for people who may not be able to lift heavier weights due to physical limitations or lack of experience but still want an effective workout.

In summary, the time under tension approach proposed in “Body by Science” works effectively due to its emphasis on continuous muscle engagement, efficient fibre recruitment, enhanced metabolic stress, and overall workout efficiency. It presents a compelling alternative to traditional lifting methods, particularly for those who are short on time but still prioritise strength and fitness.

Key Takeaways for Busy Professionals

  • Efficiency: The “Big Five” offers a full-body workout in a concise format, ideal for those with limited time.
  • Safety and Simplicity: The exercises are simple yet effective, crucially they don’t require you to make lots of very similar motions over and over again, so minimising wear and tear on the joints and reducing the risk of injury and making them suitable for all fitness levels.
  • Comprehensive Muscle Engagement: This workout ensures that all major muscle groups are engaged, leading to balanced strength and fitness.

Body by Science” is about embracing a method which respects your time constraints while delivering profound health benefits. For anyone looking to revolutionise their approach to fitness, especially those caught in the whirlwind of professional and personal demands, this book is a must-read.

More Than Just a Workout, A Lifestyle Shift

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Start Your Kiting Day Right: 🏄‍♂️🌊🪁 My Personal Breakfast Recipe for Sustained Energy!

A common question I get asked is, “What do you eat for breakfast on days when you’re kiting?”

Well, in line with my principle of embracing a diverse diet (to ensure I get as full a spectrum of nutrients as possible), I like to keep things interesting and switch up my meals. However, I do have a few favourites that I regularly return to, and today, I’m excited to share one with you.

kiting nutrition

Why do I love this recipe? It’s not just quick to whip up. It’s also light and easy to digest, packs a punch with polyphenols (your gut will thank you!), and it’s kind to your blood sugar levels. This means no mid-morning crashes, just sustained, clean energy and minimal hunger all the way to lunch.

The Morning Berry Bowl


  • 45 grams of pearl barley (soaked overnight in 150 ml of unsweetened hazelnut milk)
  • 2 tbsp of chia seeds (also soaked overnight with the barley)
  • 300g of organic raspberries (frozen works great), yes that’s a lot of berries!
  • 3 organic cherries
  • A handful of hazelnuts
  • A handful of pistachio nuts
  • A handful of ground flax or linseed
  • 2 Brazil nuts
  • 1 medium greenish banana
  • 2 tsp of organic, flavourless whey protein
  • 100ml of organic, flavourless kefir
  • 1 tsp of organic pomegranate powder
  • 1 tsp of organic sunflower lecithin


Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and devour. If you’re using frozen berries, give it a quick blend for that creamy, ice-cream-like texture. On chilly mornings, I pair it with a warm cup of tea to balance the temperature.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this recipe. And if you’re up for it, why not share your own breakfast favourite? Let’s inspire each other with delicious, healthy starts to our day which can keep us on the water longer!



P.S. If you enjoy these little glimpses into my kitchen, let me know! I’m considering making this a regular share.

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Harnessing the Wind: Transforming Kitesurfing Dreams into Fitness Realities

Imagine yourself on a picturesque beach, feeling the sea breeze and eyeing the waves, your kite ready for action. These aren’t mere fantasies; they’re powerful drivers to boost your fitness journey, tailored for kitesurfing.

The Kitesurfing-Motivation Connection:

In the prime of our professional lives, fitness can sometimes become a side note, overshadowed by career and family. Yet, what if your passion for kitesurfing could reignite your fitness enthusiasm? Imagine the anticipation of conquering the waves, driving you to unlock your full fitness potential.

I recall my health being subpar, with the dream of effortlessly kitesurfing seeming distant. My workout regime was sporadic, often derailed by the ‘too busy’ excuse. Then, a shift happened. I envisioned a kitesurfing adventure that challenged and excited me. The thrill of mastering the waves became my motivation, turning every workout into a step towards achieving this dream.

Practical Steps to Kitesurfing Fitness:

  1. Setting a Kitesurfing Goal:
    • Brainstorm and Choose: List out kitesurfing goals that spark your excitement. It could be perfecting a new trick or preparing for a kitesurfing marathon. Select one that really ignites your passion.
    • Visualize and Commit: Keep your kitesurfing goal in sight. Decorate your space with images or descriptions of kitesurfing to stay motivated.
  2. Creating a Tailored Fitness Plan:
    • Understand Kitesurfing Demands: Focus on the physical requirements of kitesurfing – core strength, agility, and endurance.
    • Professional Guidance: Consult a fitness trainer specializing in kitesurfing preparation. They can tailor a plan to your fitness level and kitesurfing goals.
    • Kitesurfing-Specific Training: Incorporate exercises that mimic kitesurfing movements, like balance training and core strengthening.
    • AI: Personal Trainers everywhere will hate me mentioning this but the world is changing and we have to accept it, the latest versions of many AI platforms (ChatGPT, Google Bard etc) are actually very good at crafting specific workouts as long as give them the right prompt…something like: ”Hey ChatGPT, I would like you to create me a workout. I am a [insert age] year old [insert gender] with a [insert activity level] lifestyle. I currently exercise [x] times a week and would consider myself [insert fitness level] fit. I am planning an adventure in [x] months time where I am going to [insert grand adventure here] could you write me a progressive workout plan which will take me from where I am now to being ready for my grand adventure in the time specified. Thank You!” 

Holistic Fitness for Kitesurfers:

Fitness for kitesurfing isn’t just physical; it’s a complete lifestyle approach. Here’s how to integrate this into your kitesurfing prep:

  • Nutrition: Tailor your diet for kitesurfing. Focus on complex carbs for energy and proteins for recovery.
  • Mental Strength: Use visualization to see yourself mastering kitesurfing. Yoga and meditation can boost mental resilience.
  • Skill Development: Enhance your kitesurfing skills with specific training or advanced classes.

Tracking Progress with Technology:

Leverage apps like Strava or Waterspeed to monitor your kitesurfing progress. Wearables can provide crucial fitness data to fine-tune your training.

Involving Your Kitesurfing Community:

Create a training group with fellow kitesurfers or engage your family in beach workouts. Share your journey on social media or a blog to inspire and stay accountable.

Your kitesurfing journey isn’t just a pastime; it’s a path to a healthier, fitter you. Let your passion for kitesurfing drive your fitness goals, bringing every wave closer to your dreams

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Finding Your Balance in Kitesurfing: The Unsung Hero

Balance in kiting plays a crucial yet often overlooked role. Whether it’s boosting on a twin-tip or slashing a wave strapless, the ability to correctly balance the body is absolutely crucial to our performance and is often something most people ignore in their training, mainly as they have no idea how to improve it.

The Science of Balance:

Balance is about the intricate coordination of muscle strength and joint alignment, involving the entire body. However, there is one part of the body which is more important than all others when it comes to balance…

the foot. 

As the base of our entire body, it forms the foundation upon which all our balance relies. If we go even deeper, then there is one part of the foot which is generally more important still…

The Role of Big Toe in Athletic Performance

Recent research highlighted by ForeverFitScience emphasises the big toe’s strength and flexibility in enhancing athletic performance. It suggests that training the big toe is an underutilised method for performance enhancement.

Toe Muscular Strength in Athletes

A study on PubMed involving seventeen collegiate American-football players found significant correlations between toe-pushing force and the ability to change direction, indicating the big toe’s critical role in agility.

The Big Toe – A Pillar of Stability:

The big toe is foundational to our body’s equilibrium, especially in precision-required kiting.

The problem is that most people’s big toes are terminally weak.

Try this simple experiment…

Stand on your tip-toes and hold it for about 10 seconds.

Did your weight fall outwards onto your little toes?

If so, you likely have weak big toes as the body has been using your little toes for so long, they are now stronger than your big toe and so favoured when it comes to balance. 

This is a classic sign of a weak big toe. 

Why does this happen?

This comes down mainly to one thing… modern footwear. (and I’m really sad to say, flip-flops are perhaps the worst offenders!)

Modern shoes are designed to look good. To achieve this, they taper towards the toe. What this does is push the big toe outwards away from the midline of the body towards the little toes.

This narrows the spread of the toes, means the foot is no longer as wide as it should be and takes away that critical point of balance from what should be the most central part of the foot.

As a result, when you walk in shoes, the foot naturally collapses inwards (pronates) towards the midline of the body.

As a result of this pronation the knee naturally has to cave as the foot rolls (pronates) in due to the bad positioning of the big toe.

Now the brain detects a knee cave… which is an issue as it knows that over time this will lead to problems as cartilage grinds on cartilage and tendons become overworked, so it needs to come up with a solution.

So how can the body straighten the knee despite the fact that the foot is rolling inwards and causing knee cave?

Simple, it shifts the weight in your foot towards the outside of your feet, straightening the knee as a result. 

However, this now means the big toe is floating in mid-air when you walk and so not being used, which leads to it getting weaker and weaker.

The Impact of Weak Big Toes:

A weak big toe doesn’t just affect your foot; it has a cascading effect on the rest of your body. When the big toe fails to function properly, it disrupts the natural alignment and balance, leading to compensatory movements. This misalignment often results in knee, hip, and lower back pain and even problems much higher up…I’ve cured a lot of people’s shoulder pain by working on their big toes!

But more importantly, it means you are missing a lot of performance potential on the water and are much more likely to get injured and suffer aches and pains (especially knee, hip and lower back pain) as a result.

Strengthening for Balance:

To enhance the big toe’s strength, consider these practical exercises:

  • Toe Curls: Sit with your feet flat on the floor. Curl your toes as if you’re trying to grab a pencil with them. Hold for 5 seconds, then release. Repeat 10 times.
  • Marble Pickups: Place 20 marbles on the floor. Using only your toes, pick up one marble at a time and move it into a bowl. Do this until all marbles are moved.
  • Barefoot Balance Exercises: Stand barefoot on one foot. Try to maintain balance for at least 30 seconds, then switch feet. As you improve, try closing your eyes to challenge your balance further.

By incorporating these exercises into your routine, you can work towards strengthening your big toes. This can lead to improved balance and performance next time you’re out.

At the same time you have to ensure you are walking correctly. So when you walk from now on, I want you to concentrate on planting the whole foot evenly so the weight is distributed across the entire sole of the foot.

Now we all know that lower body exercises such as squats, lunges, and plyometrics are crucial for balance but only if you do them right. 

This starts with a firmly, evenly planted big toe… a lot of people, when they really rack the weight up or reach exhaustion, will naturally rock outwards on their feet to compensate… avoid doing this. 

Focus on perfect foot form and you’re one step closer to better balance and are a lot less likely to get injured to boot.

Understanding and improving the big toe’s strength is not just a minor aspect of training; it’s a revolution in how we approach our time on the water. This small but mighty part of our body holds the key to enhanced athletic performance and a more balanced lifestyle.



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Why Getting in Shape is Like Learning to Kitesurf

Imagine if you turned up to your first ever kitesurfing lesson and the instructor handed you the kite, pointed at the water and told you to knock yourself out.

I doubt you’d be that impressed.

But that’s exactly what we do in the health and fitness industry all the time.

You rock up at the gym, have an hour induction and are left to it.

You sign up to a weight loss program, are given a few recipes and are told to get on with it.

No wonder so many people fail.

Exercise and weight loss are SKILLS, and they’re very complex skills. Let’s have a look at just some of the sub skills you have to learn:
* How to exercise correctly so you wont get injured.
* How often you can exercise and how much recovery you need.
* What you should be eating, how much and when.
* How to shop for food effectively.
* Strategies for dealing with social events.
* How to cook

And that’s just the start…there are literally thousands of sub skills you need to learn and like any complex skill they take a long time to master.

As a result there will be learning experiences (ie. failures) along the way, that means at times you will get off course, you will mess up…and you know what?

That’s OK!

Because each failure teaches you something and means you are learning the skill more completely.

True mastery in any skill isn’t something you’re born with, it’s something you learn.