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Your health, strength and fitness questions answered.

(77 Posts)
leonferao Tue 13-Aug-13 12:11:54

Hi Guys

I recently became a new parent (23rd of July) and have been reading through the site for the last 10 months or so, which I must say has been very informative and helpful. I have found myself “ghosting” around the site in a bit of a panic attempting to absorb as much information as possible, so that I was as prepared as I could be for the baby coming.

One thing that I found while looking/reading through the forum was that there was a lack of advice and support for health, fitness (strength included) and wellbeing and given that fact, I would like to help out if possible.

At 31 years of age I have been in the health and fitness industry as a personal trainer, kettlebell coach, strength and conditioning coach, as well as running my own gym and Crossfit facility in Newcastle for the last 6 years now. I have been active in the fitness industry for almost the last 14 years now, so if you have any questions you would like to ask, I am happy to help. Whether it be diet, fitness, weight/fat loss, or anything even remotely related, just pop a question up and I will respond appropriately.

Between running my gym, working a day job as a marketing advisor, looking after a new born and fitting in my own training my time is sparse, so it could take a day or two before I manage to reply, but be patient and I will come back to with an answer.

My name is Leon and I hope I can offer you some additional value here on the forum.


leonferao Fri 16-Aug-13 10:41:50

Hi IBlameThePenguins

I think you are on the right track here already, the only thing that you should add to that would be some good fat. You could add in some olive oil, avocado, or seeds to the salad and main meal which will allow you to see continued progress.

Picking a good coach. A good coach will listen to your goals, concerns and any fears and will help to put them at bay. They will devise a progressive plan based around your needs and will review that plan from week to week and adapt as and when they need. They will prioritise movement and mobility and they will base their programming around compound strength movements, while seasoning the regime with conditioning. They will have all of your best interests at heart, yet they will push your boundaries, challenging you both physically and mentally, which in turn will allow you to grow strength in your emotions, as you become more and more confident. The coach and client relationship will be professional, yet fun, and there should be the understanding between both parties that it is a two way street. By that I mean that you will get out of you training what you put in and the coach will see the results that you both desire by planning safely, intelligently and with your goals in mind to form the bulk of your training.

Where do you live? I can take a look online at some of the places locally and recommend some places that I would be happy to visit.


leonferao Fri 16-Aug-13 10:55:42

Hi Daisy Chicken

I’m not a doctor or anything of the likes, but I work with a lady who also has fibromyalgia and also mild depression. Sorry to hear about the SPD, I’ve heard that the pain from that is awful!

How old are you ?

Firstly, you need to take a look at your diet and I would recommend looking at these two links and then doing a bit more research of the diet in relation to your condition.



Once you have consistency in your diet and you are eating a generous portion of each of the macronutrients with each meal, I would then look to start a strength program with a good coach. Personally, I would avoid any high intensity conditioning and would look to see improvements in body composition through gains in strength. In order to do that safely though, you need somebody to teach you the compound lifts and work with you on technique. In the beginning, you will see improvements with little to no weight on the bar…. And as soon as your diet is in check and consistent, you should see vast improvements in energy levels and mood.

Good luck getting back on track, keep me posted!

iloveweetos Fri 16-Aug-13 10:58:33

Hi Leon,

I probably go for a jog once a week and do alot of walking. But since falling pregnant have found the jog alot tougher to do. Feeling alot more breathless and tired. I was going to start couch to 25k but can it be done whilst pregnant?

Thanks for the advice (wish i kept more fit before!)

leonferao Fri 16-Aug-13 12:50:47

Hi Purple2012

I understand your concerns and fears. Make small changes over time and look to get out of the habit of counting calories. When ready, make the switch to eating the healthy foods were are intended to eat and get that body full of the nutrients that it needs. As a general rule of thumb, stick to the outside of the supermarket and away from the isles. A fist sized portion of meat, a plate full of veggies and some oils or seeds to go with it and you're done.

The benefits of doing this are profound. Not only will you achieve you dream weight, but you will also have beautiful skin complexion, super-high energy levels so that you can enjoy life with your kids and partner, as well as much improved sleep, which we can all do with :-)

When you reach your weight and are ready to make changes, let me know, and if you need any help or recipe ideas I can help you with that.


leonferao Fri 16-Aug-13 12:56:05

Hey DrowningInLaundry

Your numbers are really good. With practice, consistency and good coaching, you should squat (high bar and deep) around 110-120, deadlift about 140, snatch 55 and clean 80... No big deal ;) COME TO NEWCASTLE haha

Never ending chippers are extremely counterproductive, yet a lot of people still program them, as it is easy money for the "coach". They just get to sit back, drink coffee, and collect money while everybody else sweats. Which gym do you train at now and where were you before?

Good luck with the L1. You will enjoy the weekend!


leonferao Fri 16-Aug-13 13:03:32

Hi Iloveweetos

"couch to 25k" I would avoid that like the plague.

Walking is great while pregnant. Walking up hill is even better. Walking up hill with a backpack is better yet, but follow a progression and don't go flogging yourself.

Something that you can start out with would be to walk for say 15mins away from your home and then walk back. Do this a few times per week noting the improvement in distance. When you feel you are able to, find a hill to walk up and down and see how many efforts you can manage in 10-15 minutes. walk to the bottom of the hill and rest until your breathing is back in order before you try again.

Right now, training isn't about pushing your body to limits, it is simply about moving so that you and the baby remain healthy, which will help you both, and you especially with regards the actual birth and your recovery.


Greeneyed Fri 16-Aug-13 14:01:14

Hi leon thank you that is interesting. Sadly I am miles from Newcastle! Love your advice on this thread and will keep watching! I am following a paleo diet and would recommend to fellow posters though must admit as a carb addict I felt truly awful for the first couple of weeks. Now I have no cravings though which makes it SO much easier than any low cal diet.

Purple2012 Fri 16-Aug-13 14:48:15

Thanks Leon. I am hoping to get to the top of my healthy weight by the beginning of November at the latest. I will definitely be back to ask for tips then.

leonferao Fri 16-Aug-13 16:42:24

Hi Iloveweetos

Just looking around on the site and I can only see the C25K, I am guessing that you meant a 5k and not a 25k, my bad, sorry!

Yes, 5k could be doable, but to be fair I would personally just base my training off how you feel mostly and look to progress with "baby steps" from day to day.


drowninginlaundry Fri 16-Aug-13 23:02:07

Hey Leon,
I am working on it... I am 42 so technically in the masters. I train in South Devon, there's only one affiliate.

loving your generosity of spirit and time, for sharing your knowledge. Good karma. Ladies, listen. Learn. smile

leonferao Fri 23-Aug-13 09:08:34

Thank you Drowninginlaundry

It isn't a problem at all, I like helping out where I can so feel free to ask whenever you guys need to. Also, if there are any other questions people have relating to health and fitness then I will do my best to answer them.

Thanks again.

martha2013 Fri 23-Aug-13 21:28:48

Hi Leon,

How kind of you to offer your experience and expertise here. I wonder if you can offer me any advice?

I gave birth three months ago and after a very active pregnancy got straight back to running. At my fittest, my 5k pb is around 20 mins but I have very little race experience. I have been offered a place to run the GNR, which is in three weeks. I have done ten miles in 1hr36 this week so think I will get round. My question to you, as I have not done a half marathon before and not had proper preparation time what should I be doing training wise between now and race day? Am I ok to trust my body this soon after giving birth or could it be harmful?

Thank you

wooly31 Sun 25-Aug-13 13:17:22

Hi Leon,
It's really great on you to come on here. Can you help with this?

I'm pretty fit 33 yr old. eg run 7 miles couple of times week, combat classes couple of times a week and strength training or kettle bells couple of times a week. I've bulked up half a stone and really want to lose it for a sleeker, leaner body - like my old running physique. In particular I have thunder thighs- which won't fit into my regular trousers blush ! What's the best combination of diet and exercise to achieve some fat loss and leaner muscles.....

Thanks Leon!

gaggiagirl Tue 27-Aug-13 18:23:04

Hi Leon,

We have kept you busy but we so appreciate this.

Buttocks! I'm toned almost everywhere except the bottom of my bum is wobbly,the top of my bum and lower back area is firm.
Can you recommend any exercises that will get me a less wobbly bot?

Thank you so much for your help.

I'm near Newcastle are you allowed to say the name of your gym on here?

Thanks again.

gaggiagirl Tue 27-Aug-13 21:50:19

Er...the reason my lower back and upper butt is firm.....is because its bone! I've just been shown a picture of a skeleton. Well I feel like a prize twat blush

Anyhoo I'm still keen to tone up my flat and bony bum.

Thanks again Leon.

HotDogWater Tue 27-Aug-13 22:03:35

Wow Leon this thread is great.

I have a weird question. After 6 years after the children I have finally got the body I had at 21, or thereabouts! The only thing is due to all the exercise I do now my legs have become rather more muscular than I like, esp the calf area. I know this is hereditary to an extent but is there anyway I can get a more lean look to my legs, any specific thing you recommend. Would changing my diet help me build less muscle? I am 5,11 size 10 with an athletic muscular build.

leonferao Wed 11-Sep-13 09:01:04

Hi Guys

I've just returned from a couple of weeks away with work, so I am back on hand to answer your questions :-) I will get back to you all today, just as soon as I get my feet back under the table.


leonferao Wed 11-Sep-13 09:27:30

Hi Martha2013

Firstly, WOW! That is a great 5k time and the 10 miler is solid too. As this reply is late and the race is this weekend I can only apologise that I was unable to help sooner.

In 3 weeks there is little that you can do in order to improve your time on a half marathon, but the work that you could do would be to better prepare your ankles, knees and hips for the rigours of the course. This would be simply getting out and doing 3-4 road runs per week, one long slow distance, one pacing session where you would practice running at just above your race pace for about 40 mins, an interval session (3x2 mile with full recovery) and a recovery session where you would just get out and enjoy a light run with friends.

With those types of times I know that your head is strong, as it takes not only physical capacity, but also a strong mind to be able to push at that kind of intensity. Can you get around 12 weeks after birth? Yes, absolutely! Will it be your best effort? No not at all, but clearly you have the strength of mind to get around this extremely challenging course a whole lot faster than most, despite only giving birth 12 weeks ago.

My thoughts? You get around it nice and easy this weekend, take notes afterwards of how it felt, which parts of the course you struggled with etc, and then train to repeat the GNR next year. Compare the two efforts and take pictures of yourself before this weekend and after this weekend and then get your after photos in 12 months’ time. Pretty sure that you will be an inspiration to many of the other mothers here 

How to best train and prepare for the GNR in 12 months is another question, but we can discuss that and I can certainly help with the planning of it.

PLEASE report back with full details of your experience.

Leon Robotham
PS. This is inspiring.

leonferao Wed 11-Sep-13 13:47:44

Hi Wooly31

In my opinion, the best diet/training combination for that would be zone/paleo (meaning that you use Dr. Barry Sears Zone prescriptions with Dr Lauren Cordain’s paleo recommendations), while doing Crossfit 3x per week with 1 crossfit endurance session per week.

Do you have any Crossfit affiliates nearby?


leonferao Wed 11-Sep-13 13:56:30

Hi GaggiaGirl

The two best exercises for the “bot” :0) are the barbell squat and the Romanian deadlift. If you don’t have access to that equipment you can do box squats at home, which I posted about earlier in this thread and you can combine it with lunges/reverse lunges and mule kicks.

I’m not sure whether I am allowed to say on here? But if you email me on ljar@hotmail.co.uk I can provide you with my information.

Re providing the advice, it really isn’t a problem as this site is so informative and helpful so giving back is actually a pleasure.


p.s. don't feel like a twat haha.

leonferao Wed 11-Sep-13 14:34:12


5'11, size 10 with an athletic build....

Seriously, what on earth is there to change about that?

(you could do more long distance style training 1-2 x per week, but that would drop weight overall and you often end up with that skinny-fat type look that long distance runners get. You would need to keep an eye on it and combine distance with compound weight training and crossfit-style workouts)


Havea0 Wed 11-Sep-13 15:14:45

A paleo diet cuts out salt. Do you agree with this?
In the bible, some salt is good.

leonferao Wed 11-Sep-13 15:39:54


This is good Havea0.

Havea0 Wed 11-Sep-13 15:58:57

So he is saying you will get some, and it is enough?

gaggiagirl Wed 11-Sep-13 16:02:38

Leon thank you! Mule kicks I can do I'll try all the other exercises this week.
Thanks again hope you had a nice holiday.

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