It’s almost time for the panic. The realisation that summer starts next week and you forgot to diet and had really wanted to fit in that favourite bikini. Oh well there’s always next year. OR… still have time so let’s stop talking and start doing!

This month there are a few points and common misconceptions I’d like to touch on that will help you get started on the right foot and achieve that dream body in time for summer.

Let’s start by tweaking a small phrase that really gets under my skin when talking about body composition and making a transformation. That phrase is “Weight Loss”. Anyone can under eat to lose weight and reduce the scales earning gold stars in the slimming club but that is simply not an optimal or healthy attitude if we are imagining having and maintaining the body of our dreams. Let’s forever change our goal to “Fat Loss.”

Secondly,  you might have heard the term “Muscle weighs more than Fat” well it kinda’ doesn’t make sense in that form but when we talk of per volume then yes the same size and shape of muscle weighs a hell of a lot more than fat. So for this reason we’re going to ditch the bad habit of “Scale watching” because it just isn’t an accurate account of what’s happening with your body. If we are successfully building muscle and losing fat then the scales are likely to even go up. Especially in those who are new to resistance training. IMAGINE THE PANIC. A much better way to track our progress is visually so let’s start by taking pictures once a week in the same place with the same light. We call this a “Visual Diary”. Further to this, with my clients I will take 2 measurements using Fat Callipers, measuring the mm’s on the front and side of the belly.

Marbella Rocks Bikini Ready Fitness Advice


Callipers are very easy to use, easy to read and are readily available online priced from anywhere between

€4 and €35. By measuring with callipers it gives us a close idea of fat loss rather than just weight loss. I will measure only 2 points (front/side belly) as we can’t actually “Spot remove” fat. Fat loss is relative to the whole body so IMO a full body fat percentage is not needed in this instance. We want to see the scales stay around the same and the calliper millimetres to go down – JOB DONE.  We will also see the changes in our visual diary.


A stumbling block for a lot of people aside from the waves of misinformation on the net, is ASSUMPTION. Most of the time we assume that a certain method, product or produce should “be healthy” or “burn fat” or “not fattening” and other popular generic phrases. But then when actually we get down to the bare bones science of things (boring I know) it tends to be quite the opposite. One example of this is CARDIO.

Now we all know for fat loss that Cardio is our friend. But then there’s an old saying “too much of a good thing is bad”. Aside from endurance and stamina training (long distance running, combat training etc) Cardio or an incorrect application of, tends to be just that. One of the main things that I will tend to have to adjust when starting work with a new client, aside from making them eat more is to drastically reduce their cardio regime. Let me try and explain a few of my views on the subject.


Something I’ve regularly touched on in the past is the notion of our body being blind to our goals. What I mean by that is that the body and the Central Nervous System in particular doesn’t actually know that we are just trying to drop a size or 2 to look good for our trip to Ibiza in 3 months, 4 days, 12 hours and 17 mins. It makes decisions and reactions based purely on patterns. And in the same way it will raise an eyebrow when all of a sudden there are signs of a sudden shortage of food out there in the world (Crash Diet), it will also start to be concerned about a sudden dramatic rise in energy output and exercise activity. It will assume that you’ are either fleeing from predators or foraging long distances for food (Famine Mode) or BOTH.

Both of these scenarios can put a lot of pressure on your Central Nervous System (CNS) which is our bodies main supercomputer let’s say. In a biological way it is the job of the CNS to make decisions to KEEP YOU ALIVE. Decreased calories and increased energy output are really going to pose a lot of questions here and the body, aside from detrimental hormonal issues caused by this overload, the body is going to react accordingly. In short if your food is running out (Diet) your body is already going to want to store energy (Fat) for emergency and now your energy output is higher it further implements the need to store MORE. So let’s be sensible with our approach to these two, often misused elements of body composition and find the right balance.

Marbella Rocks woman in the gym


Another factor especially when we want to have a “toned” look, is to protect gain and protect muscle mass. Firstly the word muscle can often sound scary to a woman but pure and simply “it’s a thing that you already have!” It isn’t just men that have muscle it is a perfectly normal and common thing and without muscle mass the “toned” look is impossible. I just want to add that I am regularly met with the phrase “I don’t want to look manly” and my answer every single time is “you won’t”. If a female client was to come to me with a picture of a bodybuilder or muscled fitness girl and asked me to help her look like this, we would have to sit and really etch out a plan of specific training and nutrition to work hell for leather to achieve it. It ain’t gonna happen by accident TRUST ME!
So, now we are not afraid to lift heavy, train hard as hell and build some muscle we can talk about the actual fat loss benefits of pumping iron.
Aside from your usual cardio we can actually burn through a hell of a lot of calories by the way we apply ourselves in the weights room and now we are basing our fat loss and body composition around nutrition and weight training, we should start to see results using our visual diary and calliper measurements. We’re aiming to build muscle whilst burning fat so remember we don’t necessarily want to see the scales go down as the same volume of muscle weighs more than the same volume as fat.
So in many instances when we achieve this the scales actually go up, in a good way. If the results are starting to show then now we have our cardio as an extra option if fat loss stalls or we plateau.
So let’s say it’s time to add in some cardio exercises. We now need to decide which method is best. Let’s discuss 3 types of volume. Low Intensity Steady State (LISS), Mid Intensity Steady State (MISS) and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Before we move on let’s remember the analogy of running from predators and foraging for food from earlier. The CNS will base its choices on the time it has to make them.


For me “Jogging” away for an hour is enough to elevate the heart rate to a point that stimulates a reaction from the main computer. It now has a decision of how to correctly fuel the process and time to make it. In this instance it will lean towards using the fuel we have ingested (Carbs/Fats) or break down the muscle back into Amino Acids to use. The last resort is for it to decide to use the emergency stores.


So by implementing HIIT training, this rapidly and intensely stimulates the body to have to make a quick decision to fuel. Now remember you could be running from a Tiger so it doesn’t have time to call a board meeting to discuss with the bodies and other heads of department so it has to act fast by activating the emergency stores. A great way to shift those stubborn pounds.


By working to a very low intensity by keeping the heart rate low, we are still in a situation where we are expending calories at very little demand and cost to the CNS. It’s far less likely to promote a situation that will force the body to react and therefore feel it needs to start storing. Let’s say for a male walking on an incline at 6kmph it would take perhaps 35 to 40 minutes to expend the same calories as a 15min HIIT session but splitting your cardio this way can give your joints and CNS a well needed break. For LISS I really like to keep it very low at a brisk walk.
*The above is an opinionated analogy of how we react to these situations. For a more scientific approach to the benefits to muscle hypertrophy and muscle preservation look up Dr Jacob Wilson PHD’s work in the field. SOURCE Wilson JM, Marin PJ, Rhea MR, Wilson SM, Loenneke JP, Anderson JC.  Concurrent training: A Meta-Analysis examining interference of aerobic and resistance exercises.  J Strength Cond Res. 2011 (in press).


One question I have been getting a lot on my live Q&A is “How do I calculate my calorie target” to do so we would use an equation based on your Age, Weight and Height to give us a figure we call BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) which is your calorie expenditure at complete rest. We then make a mathematical estimate of this number based on your activity levels which leaves us your DCR (Daily Caloric Recommendation) minusing a desired percentage from this amount will leave you with your calorie intake target to be in a caloric deficit. That’s as technical as I want to get here but there are lots of calculators on line using the “Harris Benedict” equation and failing that head to my Facebook page and hit contact. I have designed a unisex Excel calculator I will happily email to you. Myfitnesspal can also calculate these numbers for you.


Although over marketed, overhyped and mostly overpriced, there is a place for useful supplementation. Of course the free stuff first WATER and without getting too technical (I wrote a whole piece on the stuff in a past issue) drink lots and lots of it. VITAMINS are important for fat loss and my recommendation is a Multivitamin but most importantly a C,B and D. OMEGA 3 is an essential fatty acid that should perhaps be no 1 on this list so be sure to add in if you’re a little shy on fatty fish or grass-fed meats. There are 2 others that I would suggest and one is Diindolylmethane or DIM (Found in Broccoli, Sprouts, Cabbages and Kale) can be a useful anti-estrogen supp and IODINE (White fish, Seaweed etc) can help to produce Thyroid boosting hormones and support cells and your metabolism.


There is no substitute for scientific evidence. The fundamentals of “FAT loss” must be included in any regime. FAD diets, Juice and Herbal Products, Detoxes and other flash nonsense generally don’t incorporate any elements of what your body actually feels comfortable to continuously maintain. So while perhaps some of these trends can help you lose “weight” and quick, it’s a question of maintaining this now for potentially the rest of your life. A change of thinking and a shift in lifestyle in the right direction can go a long way to creating a “new you” and for GOOD!
Remember to head over to my Facebook and Instagram pages to join in my weekly LIVE Q&A sessions.


Marbella Rocks woman-running

Peet Rothwell
Peet Rothwell has lived on the coast for 8 years and is a professional singer by night. His passion is fitness and wellness and along with coaching and personal training, Peet also competes in men´s physique bodybuilding. As RocksMag’s resident fitness expert, each issue he covers all walks of fitness life, from sports and wellness right through to competition bodybuilding. Peet's monthly weight loss and diet tips coupled with regular gym and healthy food reviews should make for an exciting and up to date read for the healthy minded.