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Personal Fitness Trainers in Reading, Thatcham, Tadley, Wokingham, Fleet, Yateley, Sandhurst, Bracknell, Henley, Wallingford, Didcot, Newbury and Basingstoke. Personal Fitness Trainer Ryan Phillips provides one to one Personal Fitness Training, free fitness program, exercise program and workouts routines, free consultation, group fitness training in Reading, healthy eating, weight management and nutritional advice to help lose weight, tone up, get fit, build muscle, sports specific training in Reading, Tilehurst, Berkshire.

Ryan Phillips               Phil Chalmers       

   Ryan Phillips              Phil Chalmers          

This page is dedicated to answering your health & fitness related questions. Please click here to submit your question.

Darren says:

hey i intend on joining the army but not to sure about my fitness i currently need to build my stamina up as i get out of breathe pretty quick but also need to build my upper body strengh up. What type of fitness do u advise me to use?

Ryan says:

Darren, 1st off, congrats for deciding to join the forces and taking an interest in your health and fitness! 

A great place to start would be to do some cardio interval training i.e. running for a few mins then walking for 30-60 secs and repeat these intervals for up to 60mins, starting with a 5-10mins warm up then about 20 mins of intervals then a 5 min cool down, then work up to 40 mins of intervals over the weeks/months to come. The fitter you get the longer you'll be able to run for before having to have a walk. If you increase your "run interval" time each week by about 5-10% then this will greatly improve your stamina.

For your upper body strength, you need to combine body weight exercises like pull ups, chin ups, dips and press ups with some weights exercises like bench press, shoulder press and bent over rows. This will build great strength in your upper body. Don't forget to train your legs though!! It's no good having a big, strong upper body if what carries it around is weak. You'll not only look out of proportion but when you've got your 80lb burgen on your back you'll be an ACL injury waiting to happen! So use some squats, deadlifts and lunges in your routine to keep a good balance between your upper and lower body.

Good luck,



Dan says:

I'm looking to build up the calf muscle. For some reason my calfs NEVER seem to grow. All my other muscles - from my quads to my traps - develop quickly ... but not my calf. This gives my physique is misbalanced look. Can anyone help?

Ryan says:

Calf muscles are difficult to build due to their unique physiological composition, which prevents them from responding well to traditional bodybuilding and strength training programs. The main difference in the calf muscle is that approx 75% of the muscle fibres are of the slow twitch variety (only 25% fast twitch). Due to them having a higher proportion of capillaries than other muscles they are able to regenerate ATP/CP (Adenosine Triphosphate/Ceatine Phosphate) stores more quickly. Therefore rest intervals between sets must be no longer than 30-45 secs to inhibit full restoration of ATP/CP. This will force the body to increase the CP content within the cells and activate protein metabolism. Hypertrophy of the calves is therefore better stimulated leading to significant increases in muscle size. Try seated calf raises to build width and develop deep cuts in the outside edges of your calves (Soleus). Standing calf raises are great for developing the main belly of your calves (Gastrocnemius).

Ben from Weston,FL says:

Are these exercises safe for an 80 year old to do?

Ryan says:

If it is you Ben that is 80 years old then I applaud you for taking an interest and want to assure you that it's never too late to start exercising and improving your health and well-being! I'm assuming that you are referring to the "Stiff Leg Deadlift" and the "Lying Triceps Extension" as mentioned below so providing that you don't have any bone or joint problems that may be adversely affected by them then its absolutely fine for and 80yr old to do! Having said that, as I am unsure of your medical history and current state of health, I would recommend that you get checked out by your GP before starting up and exercise program. Also, I would recommend having a session or two with fitness professional to check your techniques. Good luck!

Simon says:

I perform stiff legged deadlifts. The problem I find though is that my grip gives way before I have fully exhausted my hamstrings.

Do you have any tips on how to get past this problem?

Ryan says:

Hey Simon, many people struggle with grip strength, its quite common! What you could do to strengthen your grip is try squeezing a squash ball or use a barbell collar for a about 5 minutes per day. You can do this exercise anywhere, at work, at home whist watching tv etc.

You could also try some wrist curls with a dumbbell in each hand (try 4kg to start with), rest the back of your wrists on your knees in a seated position. Roll the weight down so that your hands open and the weight ends up on your fingers then slowly make a fist by rolling the weight back up and curl your wrist up as far as you comfortably can. You can perform the exercise with your hands the other way round (reverse wrist curl) but keep your hands in a fist this time.

It might also be worth having a fitness professional check your technique. I'm sure its fine but even the slightest of adjustments can make all the difference and really put the emphasis on the hamstrings. Here's a few pointer for you to check:
1) Make sure you have a neutral spine throughout the whole range of movement (don't round your back)!
2) Brace your abs to switch on your core muscles
3) Slide the bar down your thighs as you bend at the hips tipping your bum back
4) Slight bend in the knees to take the load off your lower back
5) Keep your chin up and look forward, not down at the floor (this will help to keep your back straight)
6) Go as low as you comfortably can; stop a fraction before you reach maximum range of movement in your hamstrings or you start to lose posture, whichever comes first
7) Stand back up by actively thinking of contracting your hamstrings and co-contract your glutes, driving your hips forward standing tall

If after trying all that you still find that your grip is failing then you must be lifting very heavy weights and you might want to consider using wrist straps!

Let me know how you get on...

Simon says:

I'm keen to develop my triceps. My biceps have always been big and well defined but I feel my triceps lag behind.

I hear 2/3 of the upper arm size is made up by your triceps so kick starting their development will really improve the appearance of my arms.

Which tricep exercises should I be performing?
How many times a week?

Thanks Si

Ryan says:

You're right Simon, your triceps make up 2/3 of your upper arm!

One of the best triceps exercises in my opinion is the Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extension. You may know it but if not here's some coaching points:

1) Start by taking two 5kg dumbbells and lie down on a flat bench with both arms straight above your shoulders perpendicular to the floor
2) Slowly lower the dumbbells to your ears without tipping your elbows out or moving them back or forward
3) Slowly extend your arms back up to the starting position, locking your elbows out all the way and giving your triceps a good squeeze at the final position

Go for 3 x per wk (towards the end of your workout, i.e. after you have done your chest & shoulders), 3 sets of 12 with a 1min RI (Rest Interval)

Let me know how it goes...

Shazza says:

I have a friend who insists that losing weight after overeating in Xmas is easy - she simply eats only fruit for a few weeks and the weight just drops off. However, I've tried such 'diets' before, but for me they didn't work.

Ryan says:

The "2 week fruit diet" your friend does is just basically a crash diet, (unless she was eating about 10 bananas and 15 apples every day!) i.e. a very low calorie diet that will get instant results but with no real long term benefit.

The instant weight loss affect a crash diet will have on your body will be a combination of water loss, muscle loss, glycogen loss, loss of substance in the colon and a small amount of fat loss. When you resume your usual eating habits your total body water will increase, substance in the colon and gastrointestinal tract will increase, glycogen stores will replenish and you will generally find yourself back to the weight you started off at!

The only problem now is that the small amount of muscle you have lost will not replenish straight away (and never will unless you perform regular resistance training exercises) so your body will be burning less energy per day to tick over (for every 1lb of muscle you lose you will reduce your resting metabolic rate by about 50 Kcal per day). Because you have slowed down your metabolism (your body needs less calories to survive now) you might find that you gain weight even quicker than before! So then you'd go on a diet again and the same thing would happen. This whole process is known as "crash dieting" or "yoyo dieting"

Over the years and with the natural slowing down of your metabolism every year as you age (you lose approx 1/2lb of muscle and gain about 1-2lb of fat every year if inactive) your body fat as a percentage will be rising!

If you just followed a healthy balanced eating pattern controlling your calorie intake and reducing or preferably removing refined carbs such as sugar, wheat based pasta and bread and cut out the caffeine and alcohol, eat lots and lots of fresh veg and small to moderate amounts of sweet potatoes and brown rice with plenty of fresh lean meats and oily fish then you'd not only lose the Xmas pounds but would have a long term eating strategy to maintain a healthy body fat level indefinitely.

Gillian says:

Exactly why is breakfast so important? I prefer to eat something at 11 ish rather than at 7.30 when I get up. I find I'm simply not hungry as soon as I wake up. So if I'm not hungry what is the point of force feeding myself?

Ryan says: 

Breakfast is so important for several reasons, the main one being that your body has gone for 9 or more hours without any nutrient intake. It's important to break this "fast" (hence breakfast) to kickstart your body with the nutrients it needs to keep your metabolism from slowing down.


You should ideally eat within the first 30mins of waking up to avoid these catabolic affects. A slowing down of the metabolism can result in lean tissue (muscle) loss and an increase in body fat, this coupled with the natural loss of lean tissue and increase in body fat as we age (approx 1/2lb muscle lost and 1-2lb of fat gained each year causing a 3-5% reduction in basal metabolic rate) over a prolonged period of time your body fat percentage increases leading to an unhealthy level.


Not many people feel like eating as soon as they wake up, you don't need to sit down to a huge fry up every morning! If you can manage an apple with a small handful of sunflower seeds and a few walnuts that would do the trick! A veggie omelette would be ideal.


If you are concerned about maintaining a healthy body composition please avoid the "high carb camp" of breakfast cereals, jam on toast and instant porridge as these will create rapid raises in blood sugar causing huge insulin release which will lead to overeating throughout the day, mid afternoon fatigue and fat gain. See research on this at:

Shellie from Durham says:

I'm going on holiday in five weeks and i have excess weight on my hips and stomach, i've started going to the gym everyday for half an hour i prefer to workout on the treadmill, would this make a difference to these areas. I eat regularl meals and snack on fruit but nothing seems to be working. What else can i do

Ryan says: 

Over the next 5 weeks try the following:


Interval training on the treadmill every other day; Warm up for 5 mins starting with a brisk walk (6-6.5kph) for the 1st minute then jogging towards the end of the 5 mins (approx 7.5-8kph), then follow this:

5 mins warmup

1 min 8.5 kph

1 min 9 kph

1 min 10 kph

1 min 11 kph

1 min 6 kph

1 min 8 kph

1 min 10 kph

1 min 11 kph

repeat the last 4 mins another 2 times and finish off with a 5 mins cool down.


These speeds are just a suggestion as I don't know your current fitness levels and abilities so you can adjust them accordingly. You should feel like a 9 out of 10 general exertion on the 4th minute of every set and about a 6 out of 10 on the 1st minute (10 being MAXIMUM effort). All should be done with at least a 1% incline on the treadmill to engage more of your leg muscles. This would be the most effective way to burn fat on the treadmill in 30 mins.


You should also try some resistance or weight training for 20-30 mins every other day which will also help tone your thighs and mid section. If you haven't done any resistance training before then ask your instructor or an experienced personal trainer at your gym to help you with the exercises and techniques. You can also get some exercise ideas and techniques for free from my 12 week workout program by following


As for your diet, try to reduce your carbohydrate intake to a minimum by reducing things like bread, pasta and rice. Keep up with the fruit and perhaps add some sunflower seeds and walnuts and eat plenty of protein rich foods such as fresh salmon fillets 3 times a week which contain lots of the essential fats which help you burn body fat. Another great source of protein is chicken breasts. Eat plenty of fresh veg with every meal too, this will help fill you up without too many calories and also give your body the nutrients it needs to help recover from the hard training. Aim for 2 lts of water every day to keep hydrated, improve your metabolism and help flush out toxins. Keep eating regular meals, every 3 hrs, try for 6 a day; meal, fruit, meal, fruit, meal, fruit.


5 weeks isn't a very long time but if you follow these guidelines I'm sure you will see great progress and be looking and feeling fantastic for your holiday!


Good luck!

Dean from Chesterfield says:


Phil says: 

Your drinking pattern may be contributing to the abdominal fat.

The mid-region tends to be the area where excess calories are most likely to be stored. "Binge drinking" (as with 9 pints in a night) has been seen to increase the likelihood of developing abdominal fat, moreso than regular (moderate) drinking.

As each pint of beer can be about 200 calories, you would be consuming an "extra" 1800 calories a night at the weekend. Your body will store any unnecessary calories as fat. So the first way to help rid you of the excess middle fat is to reduce the quantity in any one "sitting".

You didn't mention your dietary habits. However, this may also be contributing to your abdominal fat. A well balanced diet, eating regularly and controlling portion sizes will help achieve your ideal body shape.

Not sure either what exercise you do each week. A sensible plan will be to incorporate a programme that includes cardiovascular and resistance (weights) training. This will help burn excess calories and improve your body tone & posture. Abdominal exercises will not get rid of the fat but should help improve your posture (which may lessen the impact of the abdominal fat) & help develop that 6-pack that will appear when the fat has been "burned off"

A reputable Personal Trainer will be able to set your dietary needs & training programme to help you achieve your goals.

Suzanne from County Durham says:

"i have had a gastric bypass and i am now down to 12st from 22st and i want to tone up but not lose anymore weight i have all the gym equipment in my garage runner, mulit weight gym, walker, things to use to do sit ups but what should i do just to tone not to lose anymore weight please can you help me"

 Ryan says:

"Well done with your weight loss! It is mainly the weight training with your multi-gym that will tone your muscles rather than the cardio-vascular exercises such as jogging although it all contributes. If your body is already conditioned to such training and you have been shown the correct techniques by a qualified instructor, then try to gradually increase the amount of weight that you are lifting. It might be wise to check with your GP that it is safe for you to lift heavy weights after undergoing such surgery. Also have your blood pressure checked.

Aim for 3 sets of 15 repetitions, the last 2-3 repetitions should feel extremely hard. Your muscles may well feel sore the next day, this is known as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). This is caused from microscopic tearing of the muscle fibre which will repair over a couple of days and consequently become stronger. Leave at least 48 hours before exerercising the same body part again.

Be realistic about how much you are able to achieve after losing so much weight. Unfortunately the stretched skin is unlikely to become completely taught again despite intense exercise.

It is also important to increase your core strength (the deep abdominal muscles and the muscles of the spine) This will provide you with a strong base to build on and help prevent injury, it may also improve your posture. A quality stability ball is a very useful piece of equipment for core stability exercises. Ensure you receive proper instruction with this.

Although you do not want to lose any more weight, it is very important to continue with the cardio-vascular exercises such as your runner as this will exercise your heart, lungs and cardio-vascular system. This will help maintain your weight and also helps with prevention of many health problems such as heart disease, stoke, diabetes and some cancers. As long as you keep the calorie expenditure (exercise) the same as the intake (food), your weight will stay about the same."

Shaun from Sheffield says:

"Hi. I have started to do assisted pullups at my local gym , to increase my srength/power endurance for rock climbing.Trouble is I don't know which is the best way to train.When doing pyramids which would be more benificial ,increasing the resistance(For each set) and working to failure or decreasing the resistance and working to failure?Please help"

Ryan says:

"You have mentioned two different methods of training here; 1) pyramids and 2) drop sets. With pyramids you increase the weight while reducing the reps then vice versa, i.e. 12 reps, 10 reps, 8 reps, 6 reps, 8 reps, 10 reps, 12 reps. With drop sets you start with a higher weight (say your 12 rep max) and reduce the weight each set (by about 25%) trying to do as many reps as you can, say over 6 sets. Both methods are good for increasing your climbing strength/endurance, however, they are very intense methods of training and should only be done once a week. I would suggest trying the following for 6 weeks: 2 weeks of high reps (15-20) with low weight for endurance (30-60 secs rest between sets) then 2 weeks of 8-12 reps for strength (60-90 secs rest between sets) then 2 weeks of 4-6 reps for power (2-3 mins rest between sets). Doing 4-6 sets each session. You need to be reaching failure by the end of the last set in weeks 1-4 and by the end of every set in weeks 5 & 6."

Kimberley from Pembroke says:

"Im a gym owner and fitness instructor, im real bored of the exercises that im giving my clients, some have been training with me since ive been open which is 8yrs, so im looking for programs that would bring my clients out of the gym and into the studio for there programs, would your package be benificial to me."

Ryan says:

"It sounds like the Advanced Exercise Program is exactly what you need to inject some interest back into your clients training. They'll love you for it, as these new exercises will give them something really challenging to work toward mastering. You'll have access to 40 fantastic exercises which will definitely alleviate your bordom I guarantee!! Click here to get access to the Advanced Exercise 4 week Program"

Louanne from Maryport says:


Ryan says:

 "Click here for some great body toning exercises or here for the ULTIMATE 12 week workout program. If you are an advanced exerciser click here"


Julie from Reading says:

"I am on medication for high blood pressure, is it ok for me to exercise?"

Ryan says: 

"Medical clearance must be sought from a GP for individuals on medication for high blood pressure, even if the blood pressure is well controlled. Once this has been done it is safe to commence a low/moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise programme. It is also possible to embark on a weight training programme as long as the chosen weights are not too heavy as this has a tendency to encourage breath holding which will increase blood pressure."


David from Newbury says:

"My blood pressure is 145/92, is this considered to be high?"

Ryan says:

"According to the blood pressure association, consistent readings over 140/90 is considered as hypertensive (high blood pressure). A doctor is unlikely to put a patient on medication after just one reading of 145/92. Each case however is individual and other risk factors for heart disease such as age, weight, smoking and cholesterol levels need to be considered before a decision is made."

This page is dedicated to answering your health & fitness related questions. Please click here to submit your question.