Week 7/5: Measuring progress – the hard evidence

BACK TO BASICS: Learning to crawl again

I’VE seen it happen again and again on this program. Changes. Physical and mental.

Take Reg – all 25st of him. When he first walked through the door, he moved uneasily. He was carrying a heavy load – a load he had got tired of lugging around and needed to ditch. His movement was laboured.

So where do I often start? I get my clients crawling. Some like it and some do not. But I have them do it, because it’s basic and effective. It resets the body. It boosts the brain. It’s good for co-ordination, core stability etc. That’s why children first learn to crawl before walking and running. It develops their motor skills, strength and balance. 

Seriously, Reg could hardly crawl more than five paces forwards. In reverse, he couldn’t move – at all!

BENCHMARK: Reg is lifting and moving so much better than when he started

But now, at the end of seven weeks on an eight-week version of the Amazing 12 Chichester at Core Results Gym, he can cover 30ft in one go without stopping. It’s a clear, measurable display of progress.

I use the prowler a lot as well. For those unfamiliar with this bit of kit, it’s a type of metal, weighted sled. You push it. It taxes you. You feel it and sometimes hard. But it can work wonders – IF you get the dose right.

So I had Reg cover 10 lengths of the gym with the prowler in the first week, his instructions being to give it his best and not stop. But he did stop…several times. It took him 4 mins 32 seconds. His legs hurt. He was breathing hard, a reminder of how lacking in condition he was. “My God,” he said repeatedly.

Roll on seven weeks and at about 7am with the sun shining. “Let’s do it again, Reg,” I said to him. “I’m curious to see how long it takes.”

FEEL THE FORCE: working hard under the dusk sky

Reg had been moving so much better that I felt he and I both needed to know the difference.

Here’s the outcome: Reg marched that thing up and down. He could probably have gone quicker were he able to run. But he paced it evenly and didn’t stop. His time: 2 mins 51 secs!

The same day, but in the evening, I did the same to Jemma. She was dreading it. It was steamy and, of course, Jemma hates sweating. We’d done a full workout. She said she was feeling tired, that her legs ached as she’d done some sprints that morning. I’ve heard it all before.

THREE PEAKS: coming to the top of the deadlift

I tried to encourage her to believe in herself. Then I walked over to the prowler and uttered those words: “Let’s do it.”

Filled with nervousness, Jemma’s head spiralled into the usual chaos and doubt. Once she realised it was happening, she had to focus. “Just do your best,” I said. “I’m just curious to see how you do.” Then I added, “You know it’s going to be better. You’re fitter, stronger, lighter and faster. Just pace yourself.” She did.

First time she did it, Jemma bombed. She stopped frequently, utterly spent, hands hurting, legs burning, mind racing. You name it, she had it. Her untrained body got it done in 4 mins 16 secs.

GOT IT: Jemma nails her technique with the sledgehammer

So how did she do in the re-run – and bear in mind this was only five weeks later? Her time was 2 mins 30 secs!

Jemma almost burst into tears. She was that delighted and shocked and emotional and surprised and thrilled.

What’s even better is that she could – and will – go faster before we finish the program in another seven weeks.

FINDING HER SPEED: Jemma goes into another gear

In five weeks Jemma has lost a stone in weight, but much more has gone on.

“My muscle tone has improved,” she said. “I feel better in my clothes. I don’t feel hungry hardly at all. I feel less stressed and have had only one anxiety attack since I started [compared to what used to be at least weekly].

“I’m more aware of the choices I am now making and how organised I have been. I feel more cheerful and don’t feel the need to drink alcohol. My mental block on my pain barrier has improved and I’m more able to deal with pushing through for more reps.”

TWIST AND LUNGE: The blonde doctor blazing through the circuits

Like Reg, Catriona is entering the final week. I took her through a tough circuit session this week and thought, at 50 and all bronzed, that she looked like some sports bikini athlete. Catriona didn’t stop.

I asked her later that day what changes she had noticed and, still too tired to elaborate, she texted me, “I have abs.” This was followed by, “not a very deep answer, but I’ve been striving to find them for years!!”

HEATING AND HITTING: Banging the tyre in the sun

Catriona was fit and lean before she started the program. Now she’s fitter, leaner, stronger and has muscles she didn’t know existed.

I gave her the prowler challenge, too. At the finish, as she was lying on the floor, I asked, “how do you think you did?”

“Slower,” came her reply.

GRAND SLAM: Great way to finish the early-morning session

In fact, she’d reduced her best time from 3 mins 30 on day 2 to 2 mins 50 seconds – an improvement of 40 seconds!

Naturally, she was delighted.

Jade, on the other hand, is tougher to please. She’s one of the fittest people I’ve had start the program. Having trained and played sport for years, getting her results was always going to be more challenging.

LITTLE AND LARGE: Jade may be smaller, but packs a punch

She wants to be lean above all else. She’d sacrifice strength gains for being leaner. I notice changes already. It’s obvious to me she is becoming leaner and stronger and fitter. But Jade’s a little fixated with the scales – the scales of doom that send out a false representation of what’s really happening to our bodies and yet we still rely on them as a marker for progress.

“I’ve not seen too much physically yet,” she said. “I haven’t noticed it apart from a few inches off my waist.”

HITTING THE MARK: Jade’s on course to reaching high standards

She said she felt tired and heavy in the legs all the time. On the plus side, she was happy with making more time for herself and enjoying being able to train every day.

“I’ve enjoyed being a bit more selfish in regards to doing things for me, making sure I have time to train and putting myself first more often than I usually do.”

I’m still super-confident Jade will take a different view of her results come the end and that she’ll be doing pull-ups and plenty of them (which is what she also wants). She’s missing her comfort foods, but sticking to the nutrition. If she keeps it up, she’ll get impressive results. She’s just impatient and shining her attention on what she feels is missing without noticing the wonders of what is going on with her body. Sound familiar?

PUMMELLING: the tyre gets a bashing

Her strength is already at a level where few women I’ve coached on the program have reached in 12 weeks. And while she maintains she’s not got much endurance or bothered too greatly about becoming strong, Jade’s working harder now during the longer workouts and keeping up a good pace.

When I had Jade re-take the prowler test, she knew she had to approach it differently and she did. Her time went from 2 mins 28 in week 1 (when she shot off too quickly) to 2 mins 3 seconds at the end of week 5.

And remember, the better the athlete the smaller the changes are likely to be. For Usain Bolt, a difference of 0.01 seconds to his sprint time is as significant as, say, two seconds over the same distance for a sprinter in school.

MIX AND MATCH: Four individuals with different starting points, body types and technical abilities

You can’t argue with the the times and other feats of strength I have logged and will write about later. The ‘after’ photos always reveal the extent of composition changes.

But in terms of satisfaction, regardless of what I say or the evidence I provide or how the photos look, the individual has the choice where to cast their attention. 

The formula for happiness and contentment is fairly straightforward: be grateful for and appreciate what you have rather than yearn for what you do not. By the same token, appreciate what you have achieved more than what you failed to achieve. The decision is yours.

The next wave of the Amazing 12 Chichester will begin at Core Results on September 18, 2017. I’m taking applications. If you want to see results and are committed, drop me a line at Claude@intelligentstrength.co.uk for more information. 



Week 6/4: What exactly is success?

HAMMER TIME: Jade in the hot sun

MOST of us think of success in terms of victory or completion or getting something right or doing well.

That’s totally understandable. That’s how most of us are raised or conditioned to think of success or what we are exposed to seeing. That’s how we tend to use the word.

There isn’t really a right or wrong answer to what it means. Each person has their own definition of success.

John Wooden, the great American basketball coach, coined his own understanding. “Peace of mind attained only through self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to be the best of which you are capable.”

Jemma and Jade, who this week completed week 4 of the Amazing 12 Chichester at Core Results Gym, both said that to them success meant “doing their best”. Jade added that, for her, being successful meant being happy.

And yet sometimes when Jade does her best, she doesn’t feel happy, because she feels she should have achieved more. Catriona, now at the end of week 6 of 8, often feels the same.

DETAILS: Catriona the perfectionist

I would argue that for most of us success is defined more by the outcome than it is the process.

Each week teaching the Amazing 12, I deal with reactions and responses to effort that result in disappointment as well as joy and satisfaction.

Success is just a moment in time.

Professor Sarah Lewis said, “We thrive not when we’ve done it all, but when we still have more to do.”

In simpler terms, the journey is more important and rewarding than the ending.

In the context of the Amazing 12, the goal for some is to just reach the end of the program. For others it is to cherish each stage and moment or to hit certain targets that they have determined to be important, while some, like Reg, will consider the Amazing 12 as a part of a grander objective.

Successes, though, can be big or small. They can come every minute, hour, week, month or year.

SOLID FORM: Jade squatting low, keeping her torso upright

And while we see failure as the opposite of success, can failure actually be a success? Isn’t success and failure only a relative term?

After all, we tend to learn more from our errors than when things run smoothly. I’m not suggesting we try to fail, but if mistakes and struggles have great value, shouldn’t we also celebrate setbacks as successes?

I have heard it said that “the choices we make under pressure define our character.” Character is something we should all endeavour to develop.

Character is what keeps us strong when everything around us is falling apart or chaotic or difficult. Character is what enables us to be resolute in the face of a storm of opposition. Reputation is what you are perceived to be, whereas character is who you really are. You can only reveal your true character by exposing yourself to arduous and testing circumstances.

In terms of the Amazing 12 and strength and fitness training, one’s character will come under examination in order to improve and usually when we are being challenged.

To those who dislike or resist change, understand that there is no progress without change.

FOCUS: Jemma’s in the zone with these lunges

In week one, Jemma, for instance, would get uncomfortable whenever she felt her muscles burn or if a weight felt or looked too heavy. Those were character-testing moments.

But now, four weeks into the program, I can see the changes in her. I notice how she’s got more inner steel when the going gets tough. She grits her teeth instead of panicking. She embraces her strength instead of conceding she is weak.

I got an excited text from her near the end of the week. She’d been running in the morning. I told her to try to complete her course without stopping. When she tried it in the first week she had to stop eight times and found it tiring. But now she’s able to do it non-stop.

“I’m so thrilled,” she wrote.

In the four weeks since she started, Jemma has lost nearly a stone in weight. She’s noticed her body firming up, that she can run better and faster, that her recovery from exercise is improving. “It’s mad how much stronger I have become,” she said.

She hasn’t missed a day of training, though sometimes her mind is elsewhere. Concentration and focus are areas I try to work on with her in every session.

PERSEVERENCE: It took Jemma a while to get the hang of this, but she did

She gets anxious and stressed a lot, but the training always seems to help. “I’d much rather do this [Amazing 12] than just work out in a regular gym,” she said.

Making progress is a success for Jemma. “I would say putting in as much effort as you possibly can and knowing you’ve done your best to achieve results,” is how she defined it. “And if you have a goal, then reaching it is a success, too.”

But how we frame our goals and achievements will make all the difference. For example, Jemma felt as if she had struggled with one movement last week as she didn’t do as well as she had wanted. Then I revealed to her that, in fact, she’d completed more reps and lifted a heavier weight than a few days earlier on the same movement. In the space of one second she went from feeling like a failure to a success just by altering the perspective.

Jemma also expressed how she wanted to get as strong or as lean as some of the other girls who have done the Amazing 12. But then she felt disappointed at the prospect of it not being possible. She decided for herself what success and failure would mean. Most of us do. 

I answered her in the same way I do everyone else: You can only be the best and strongest version of yourself.

HIGH STANDARDS: Jade likes to be pushed

Jade, like Jemma, has been ever-present since week one. She’s now a third of the way through. She found defining success to be a tough question in spite of the fact she’s achieved quite a lot in athletic terms.

“Success is having a goal and completing it,” she said. “I want to be the best I can be.”

But what is being your best?

SET-UP: Jade’s strong in the deadlift

Jade admits she can be lazy. She told me before she started the program that she wants to “better herself” and “more of a push”.

Being ‘our best’ is relative to a given time frame. It could be for one game or a season or over a number of years or a lifetime. It needs to be quantified.

I would suggest that being the best you can be is striving for mastery, because mastery is rarely achieved.

By setting an objective that cannot be achieved it means you keep working and practicing and refining and there is no end game – unless you give up, in which case you definitely won’t succeed.

When there is an end game, it means that you stop. Then what? Who wants to stop when the value is all in the process?

RINGING THE CHANGES: A long, but steady journey ahead for Reg to get back into shape

Reg has understood from the beginning that the solution to losing weight and regaining his fitness isn’t a quick fix.

His aim is to get down to 18st from 25st. At his peak, Reg hit 26st. He stands 6ft 1in. “I may have to do this [Amazing 12] three times!” he said. “I’m looking at about a year [of training and eating well].”

Working out each evening has helped him. “It’s usually a time when I would get hungry and eat,” he said. Instead, Reg is training, building muscle, moving his body and developing his fitness.

Sometimes it is more about introducing more good habits into your lifestyle than it is removing the bad ones.

Reg had to miss one session this week. He hurt his knee playing golf. But the next day, he and Jemma put in a good shift.

POWERHOUSE: you can see why Reg has a strong drive to his golf game

“Once you’ve done a session it feels good,” said Reg as we finished with some sledgehammering on to a tyre.

While Reg’s knee is his problem, Catriona is hindered by an old shoulder injury, leaving one side clearly weaker than the other.

It doesn’t cause her pain, but it is the weakest link in her chain and the Amazing 12 has exposed it to the point that she maybe now realises the importance of addressing it.

In reality, Catriona can only be as strong as that shoulder allows. As the body is all connected, you can’t take the shoulder out of the equation.

Her list of definitions for success included “believing that you can” and “overcoming fear” and “learning something new each day” and “not giving up” and “celebrating small victories” and “understanding you control your own destiny”.   

PROGRESS: At week one Catriona could barely squat with any depth

Those are all positive and valuable. But I want to put it out there that success can be in everything and I mean everything.

I’ve alluded to how we learn the most from when things don’t go according to plan or when we are enduring hardship.

When we switch our attention to how we can benefit from ALL experiences, success is around us continually. You just need to recognise it. 

Winston Churchill captured it best for me. “Success,” he said, “is the ability to move from one failure to another with enthusiasm.”

The next wave of the Amazing 12 will begin in September. This isn’t a program just to improve strength, conditioning, body composition and technique. There is so much more. It will challenge the way you think, prepare, plan and live. If you want to be considered for the program or to find out more, please send me an email at Claude@intelligentstrength.co.uk


Week 5/3: The curse of expectations

ANOTHER ONE IN THE BAG: a tough, but progressive week

IT doesn’t matter what I say or how often I write about and explain it, people will have expectations of what they want to happen and what they can achieve and how quickly.

Impatience and unrealistic expectations almost go hand in hand.

But you have to ask, why are so many of us that way?

William Shakespeare once wrote, “Expectations are the root of all heartache.”

From my experience, not only are these expectations often unreasonable, they are one of the primary causes of disappointment, failure and the decision to quit.

I’ve had it in practically every wave of the Amazing 12 Chichester I have run. And the craziest part of all is that the expectations are self-determined.

Imagine that – you become the source of your own disappointment!

For example, Jemma, who along with Jade has now finished week 3, might say to me, “my scales show I’ve put on weight this week.” I’ll reply, “Are you trying to lose weight or lose inches and fat?”

She’ll say, “Inches and fat.”

I’ll typically respond with, “So why are you paying any attention to the scales?”

It’s the same when it comes to movements or exercises that are difficult or challenging. To master or gain competency in a movement isn’t going to happen overnight. It requires time, patience and practice and more practice. To want – and expect – it to happen any quicker is unrealistic and, most importantly, skipping the best part of any skill development, which is in the process of learning and mastering.

STEADY IMPROVEMENT: in form, fitness and body shape for Jemma and Reg

Reg and Jemma both admitted they’d invested heavily in getting out of shape, which is a process in itself. For years Reg has been drinking almost seven bottles of wine per week, litres of Pepsi Max daily (and before that fruit juices on a large scale), overeating and not moving enough. Jemma said she was drinking up to two bottles of champagne weekly, eating chocolate, drinking wine etc.

It soon adds up, as they eventually realised. And then they reached a point where they wanted and needed to do something about it, but the task seemed huge and kept being delayed. Finally, they each took action and signed up for something like the Amazing 12.

But to think the excess is going to disappear instantly isn’t realistic. And if you’ve neglected the movement of your body for long periods and have a static job, your body is going to need re-training in how to function optimally. It takes time

This week I had a rare bout of stomach illness that knocked me sideways for the best part of six days during which I didn’t train at all and moved little. But it reminded me in a short time – because my body felt awful – how crucial it is to move.

Once I recovered, though, I didn’t go back immediately to what I was eating and lifting before. It was an integrative process.

Similarly, someone who is not fit (aerobically and anaerobically) isn’t going to develop magical fitness in only a few sessions. The best and lasting results come steadily and are hard-earned. 

Progress can be impeded many ways: by rushing or not pushing hard enough or trying too hard all the time or being deflated by successes you deem to be too small or slow. Getting the balance right is key, which is why a coach is useful to those who can’t manage that fine line well by themselves.

Reg and Jemma both admitted they couldn’t (at this stage) do this by themselves. They need guidance.

STRENGTH: Jade’s developing fast

Inevitably, when you get a group training together there will be situations where one or the other excels in a given task. 

But comparing yourself to others is another disaster area.

“Why is she looking lean and I am not?” or “why are they lifting big weights and I’m not?” or “they got all their reps and I didn’t”.

No wonder it is said that “comparison is the thief of joy”.

There are fewer better ways to throw yourself off your game than to become preoccupied with what everyone else is doing.

On the Amazing 12, everyone is on their own, personal journey – or at least they should be. While the program fits everyone, it’s not identical for everyone.

If you’ve had a lifetime of comparing yourself or setting unrealistic expectations, it’s not going to change overnight.

Like a body that’s been allowed to get out of shape, you have to work on your thinking and the patterns of your thinking to get it into shape, too.

I try to make it clear that everyone is unique – and I mean it. Our bodies are all different. Things like long and short limbs are genetic and cannot be changed. While some of us can naturally move fast or are more adept at going steadily for longer or are stronger physically, we can improve our strength, speed and endurance.  

Some of us will lose weight or body fat fast and others will do so slowly. We are all physiologically different, which is why comparisons often don’t serve us well.

The universal objective, though, is to improve towards our intended goal, not to be upset or feel derailed by becoming envious of the progress others are making.

BUSY NIGHT: all four come together

The Amazing 12 program is about making you the best version of yourself – not the best version of someone else or your imagination. And I certainly don’t have the ability to make someone with short legs develop long legs or vice versa.

My current group of four training at Core Results Gym all bring something different – and positive – to the table. Catriona has endurance. She’s focused and doesn’t slacken. She wants to be the best she can be. She even had to whip a few of the others into line this week with a call of “stop complaining!”

Catriona, like Reg at the end of week 5, is happy that she’s shed 4kg and flattened her tummy, something she’s never been able to do from years and bucket-loads of cardio.

NATURAL: Jade’s always been sporty

Jade has natural athletic ability. She’s competitive, got good technique and is dynamic and strong. Jemma is enthusiastic and committed. She’s so into the program. Big Reg is a mood-enhancer. Everything’s so jovial around Reg. He brings laughter to the group. He’s realistic about where he is. He does his absolute best and is strong.

This week had, for the first time, all four training in the same session. Jemma, who’s complained of tiredness a lot this week, was concerned she wouldn’t be able to keep up with Jade and Catriona. But keeping up is not what it’s about. Instead, use others who may be quicker or better to improve your performance, as Jade and Catriona often do. 

GOT TO START SOMEWHERE: Reg’s bulk makes it hard for him to grip any narrower

Reg has had to step up his game since being joined by Jemma and, for one day each week, Jade. But he’s become much fitter for it and everyone has noticed. 

Jemma’s eagerness for change often gets the better of her, though. She’s already made great strides and there’s nothing wrong with wanting improvement, which is why everyone is on the program, but it’s how we go about it that matters.

And, as you can probably tell from most of my previous blogs, it’s what goes on in our heads that gets in the way of what our bodies can deliver. I’m continually reminding the group of what they have achieved rather than what they failed to achieve. So far, in a short time, it’s considerable for them all. 

My advice to anyone training – and especially on the Amazing 12 – is take each day as it comes and use it as a stepping stone. Do your best. Don’t label your sessions as good or bad. Don’t go home and look at yourself in the mirror 10 times every day. Don’t keep stepping on your scales to torture yourself.

Turn up, follow the program, eat the right foods, be patient, experience the journey with all its ups and downs and try to be better than the day before. That’s how the best results occur. 

Remember this: “Peace begins when expectations end.”

My next wave of the Amazing 12 is going to start in September (exact date to be determined). I’m already accepting applications. For more information, please contact me at Claude@intelligentstrength.co.uk










Week 4/2: The MAG-ical pain solution

HITTING IT HARD: sometimes you need to go all out

THE first week on the Amazing 12 Chichester can hurt…sometimes. I won’t pretend otherwise.

Here’s why. Usually when you start the program, you either come from a place of inactivity or being untrained. It’s therefore a shock to the system and muscles and you get what’s called DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).

Even if you do train regularly, the Amazing 12 being different – unfamiliar movements and different programming – can cause a reaction.

But then the muscles get used to it because you’re training five days per week (this is called conditioning) and, generally, that degree of muscle soreness doesn’t reoccur often. 

ALIGNMENT: strength work on deadlift day

I recommended that Jemma at the end of week one of our training at Core Results Gym, when she was telling me about her sore arms, take an Epsom Salt bath. Reg, now at the end of week 4 of an 8-week program, said he’d take one, too, but then admitted he probably wouldn’t be able to fit in his bath!  

Epsom salts, though, contain magnesium and this incredible mineral relaxes and soothes the muscles.

It is MAG-ical stuff and that’s probably an understatement. 

THE BURN: Jemma working her biceps

I’m not sure Jemma took my advice. But she’s at the end of week 2 now, half a stone lighter and still a little sore. 

While Jemma likes to have a moan, she’s repeated umpteen times how “I can’t believe how much stronger I am.” She added, “I don’t think my upper body has every been this strong before and we’re only in week 2!”

Jade, also at the end of week 2, was sore all over during the first week but feels fine now. She’s getting stronger, but still battling her impatience. The Amazing 12 should work well for her because it’s having her do movements and rep schemes she isn’t used to and wouldn’t ordinarily choose for herself. 

NO PUSHOVER: Reg won’t give up on the prowler

As for Reg, he’s still moving much better, improving from day to day and changing shape. He tried on some jeans he purchased from High and Mighty before he started the program and now they are too baggy.

He worked himself hard this week and, possibly as a result, has felt tired – and sore again. On the final day of week 4, he arrived at the gym and said (still smiling) he was aching from head to toe – that he could feel every muscle in his body. But he still brings with him to every session a jolly attitude that spreads throughout the group. 

Catriona, who is at the halfway point of the 8-week program, continues to flourish even though, frustratingly for her, she had to miss one session this week because of a trip to London.

BOX SQUATS: helping Catriona to find her depth

Strength-wise, Catriona’s progressing. It’s a pity she’s doing only eight weeks as she has so much unexplored potential. She’s moved from not being able to squat anywhere near parallel to down to a box. There’s still work to do on her mobility, particularly around the shoulders, but, fitness-wise, she’s like a real energiser bunny. She’s attacked everything I have thrown at her.

This week, though, she, too, was feeling some sore parts.

However, if (unlike Catriona) a lack of energy is an issue or, like some of my previous Amazing 12 graduates, getting quality sleep is a problem, maybe magnesium could hold the key. It is vitally important for our well-being.

Charles Polequin, one of the best-known and respected strength coaches in the world, calls magnesium “probably one of the best anti-ageing minerals”.

Magnesium is an anti-stress mineral and, because our lives are so stressful nowadays, many of us have become deficient.

We’re not just slightly deficient either. For example, it’s estimated that 80-90% of the United States population is low in magnesium. The chances are that in the UK the figure is not far behind.

So why is it so important and what can taking magnesium do?


Magnesium boosts serotonin production. Serotonin is the hormone which helps us to sleep. As serotonin increases, cortisol, the stress hormone, decreases.

Strengthen bones and tendons

Magnesium is essential for strong bones. If our magnesium levels are low, calcium is leached from the bones. Weak bones will lead to osteoporosis.

To help keep our bones healthy, we must not only do some kind of weight-bearing exercise, but also make sure the ratio of calcium to magnesium is balanced.

Enhances healing

Incredibly, magnesium has over 300 unique biological functions (some say even more) in the human body which support our immune system.

Said another way, in the absence of magnesium these 300 enzymatic functions will not take place in the way they were designed to. When we are low on magnesium, we cannot operate optimally.

Magnesium purifies and purges the tissues in our body from acids, toxins, gases and impurities. It is so good at neutralising poisons that it is often used to reduce fever.

Relaxes muscles

Magnesium is the relaxation mineral. It helps with the contraction and relaxation of a muscle. If you get twitches and spasms, it could be that you have low magnesium levels.

Applied topically (to the skin) where we feel aches and pains, it can cause relief, which is how Epsom Salt baths work. Through the skin, our largest organ, is the purest way to absorb magnesium.

I wouldn’t recommend taking it orally, as magnesium has to pass through the kidneys. Unless your kidneys are very strong, this method can cause problems and severe diarrhea.

Regulate blood pressure

Studies have shown that a daily intake of magnesium can help to reduce blood pressure and assist in warding off illnesses like diabetes and obesity as well as reduce fatigue and insulin resistance. This was the finding in one particular study over 15 years using up to 5,000 people!

Nourishes the nervous system

In the same way that magnesium can help relax us when we are stressed, it sooths the nervous system, which comes under attack when we are under too much physical or mental pressure.

Stress quickly uses up our magnesium supplies. The nervous system, like our hearts and brains, depend on magnesium.

However, we live in a time when, if we get tired, we drive ourselves on instead of resting.

If you’re someone who, for example, uses caffeine or energy drinks to boost your system in these circumstances, what you’re doing is effectively adding further stress to the body and, consequently, depleting your magnesium supplies.

Crucial in the role of ATP (energy) production

Magnesium is a fuel supply. In the plant world it is magnesium that helps transform the energy from sunlight into the plant’s living energy. It is what gives plants their green colour and therefore all green foods are good sources of magnesium.

In human beings ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) is our energy which we get from the breakdown of glucose and fat into water and carbon dioxide.

Without getting too scientific, here’s the critical bit of information: ATP must be bound to a magnesium ion in order to be biologically active!

No magnesium, no ATP.

Regulate the menstrual cycle

This one is for the ladies, because it can help to cure menstrual cramping. It does this by assisting the powerful uterine muscles to relax. This also helps relieve PMS and headaches.


DIGGING DEEP: Reg working himself hard

In the context of the Amazing 12, I need my group of four to be able to recover from workout to workout and for them to have the energy to perform optimally in each training session. I want them to sleep well, because it is during sleep that all the body’s reconstruction and growth takes place.  

On the Amazing 12, I encourage everyone to eat as many greens or green vegetables as possible.

There are all sorts of diets out there claiming to do this and that. But the two consistencies I have found amongst all diets is (1) drink water and (2) eat lots of vegetables – and the greener the better.

The are other foods rich in magnesium, like almonds, cashews, buckwheat flour, cocoa powder, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, pecans, cooked beans, garlic, green peas and potato skin.

However, food consumption may not be entirely sufficient if you are training hard or unable to cope well with stress or very anxious.

Agricultural changes over generations to the way food has been harvested and produced has diminished the levels of magnesium in our produce, which is why supplementing is sometimes required.

Which magnesium?

There are different types. In Tim Ferriss’ book Tools of Titans, Poloquin recommends magnesium threonate, which is said to be best for improving sleep. There is also magnesium glycinate, which tends to work best on liver and muscle tissue. Magnesium orotate is said to help the vascular system. The same book features an interview with Dominic D’Agostino, an associate professor in the department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of South Florida. He lists magnesium as one of his go-to supplements and recommends a citrate powder called Natural Calm.

Personally, I use a high concentration Transdermal Magnesium Chloride spray. I’ve also had the brand Magnesium Ease recommended highly.

Taking magnesium isn’t giving yourself an edge, it’s restoring your body to where it needs to be.