My reply to the post 3 Ways to Develop Explosiveness for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Hi everyone,

Spotted a post on my Facebook from some fellow Nova Forca warriors and the video compelled me to reply immediately.

You can check out the original post here:

The article itself is basic and poses no issue, but the video at the bottom of the page that they have embedded meant I needed to write a reply.

Here is the video embedded below:

And my (rather lengthly) reply:

This article and video really caught my eye… Thanks Ben Loki-two + Jose Mata. Sorry that this is a long post, but fundamentally some of the things being talked about in the video aren’t quite correct, and as I’m geeky with this it interested me to talk about it.

The problem with considering stuff like the video for BJJ is that it’s never as simple as saying ‘yes do this’ – everyone is different and everyone has different strengths (and previous training) which will affect where are how you should work.

It’s very important to think carefully about what you are trying to improve, and consider the speed – strength continuum. (Widely accepted to be along the lines of
Absolute Strength – Strength-Speed – Speed-Strength – Absolute Speed.)

Of course, this will vary for every athlete. A powerlifter will do almost all of his work at the Absolute Strength end, but also work with weights at say 50-70% of his 1 rep max to develop his ‘explosiveness’, in this case, strength-speed. (Moving a still heavy weight as quickly as possible.) They would rarely work in the absolute speed end however.

On the other end of the scale (absolute speed) you’d consider a sprinter that will do most of his work in the absolute speed end, which would be (surprise) sprinting. A sprinter however will work in the strength end, lifting weights, heavy squatting and deadlifting to build up muscles which will power their sprinting. They would also do tempo runs, which are slightly longer ‘sprints’ at 70-85% to build stamina – therefore moving slightly away from the absolute speed end of the continuum.

Which brings us to a BJJ fighter (the part you’ve been waiting for) – a bjj practitioner falls very much in the middle but towards the strength-speed end. They are dealing with opponents of a substantial weight, and often their movements will be opposing the force of their opponent. (Think bumping your opponent with your hips.) For the top game, often you will be switching between speed-strength and absolute speed. (Passing the guard [more force], then transitioning from side control to north south [not as much force]).

Pushups - James Schofield - Nova Forca

This means that (in working on the strength-speed or speed-strength parts of the continuum) resistance is required when training (the only thing they show with resistance is the med ball jump squat and the sprawl). Moving a light weight as explosively as you can will create greater force than using your bodyweight (all the featured box drills.) Especially important in a sport where you are dealing with your opponents force. Unfortunately, the jumps they show are pretty worthless. The athletes aren’t creating maximum force with each jump, they’re just jumping repeatedly, with no pause or reset. They aren’t training for an improvement in their jump, they are training how to jump continuously with no break – eg. conditioning.

The problem with the box drills that they show is that they don’t really accomplish anything – they are again, too high rep and are basically conditioning. They work quick feet, there is no progression. Doing endless small jumps back and forth onto a minimal height will only improve your conditioning, it won’t make you jump higher or be more agile. You’ll just become better at jumping on and off boxes. So yes, it is a training skill which can be implemented in your bjj training, but it’s not going to increase your explosiveness much if at all. If you wanted to do this you’d need to change some things:

Firstly, you need to work in lower reps than the 10 they give for all the exercises here. (They may have lower reps in the olympic lifts section, but I switched it off by then.) 5-8 reps would be a much better number – the more advanced the athlete, the less reps are required. If you are better at producing maximum force with each jump, you won’t require as many before you fatigute. Any jumps you do when you are fatigued means that technique is not perfect, which essentially means you are training bad motor control, and consequently becoming worse at jumping. Quality is important.

Another thing that the video misses is that it features only lower body and then upper body (excluding the sprawl med ball drill and the olympic lifts.) Medicine ball work is much more effective for fighters because it uses the whole body and includes power transfer between these parts of the body. Sidenote: A study done (I think at Michegan University) measured force production and the result was that weighted jump squats were just as useful for creating power as olympic lifts were.

They seem to have overlooked medicine ball throws totally which are probably the best way of creating power. Throws are great because you’re working your body as hard as you can, technique isn’t that important (in that you can still do well without doing it perfectly every time.) but explosiveness is.

Nova Forca

For more on the plyometric side check out Dr Yessis, who is pretty much the most knowledgable person on plyometric training there is. If you read that link you’ll notice his demand for quality when performing reps and the strict avoidance of fatigue.…/some-thoughts-regarding…/

Finally, there is the minimal amount of rest on offer in the video. Short rests keep your heart rate elevated and keep you working hard, eg. conditioning. Sprinters and olympic lifters will rest for minutes between sets – why – so that their central nervous systems, as well as their muscle fibres, recover fully. The video has some great exercises, but unfortunately they are more for general strength and conditioning rather than improving your athletic output like producing more force and jumping higher or being faster. Too often coaches get conditioning mixed up with power + explosiveness.

So the title “3 ways to develop your explosiveness for bjj” is a bit of a misnomer. Hope that’s of some vague interest to you guys. No matter if not, I enjoyed writing it. Any questions, comments or ideas please get at me. Thanks very much for reading.

Building Muscle and Getting Ripped…In a month.. With limited equipment

Hi everyone,

I got this message from a good friend of mine who is going away on holiday in a month. After speaking with him further he said he could train 4x a week. As this isn’t a traditional type of question I thought I’d write a full response for the website, as it is possible to build muscle without any access to ‘real’ weights or minimal resistance.

“Schoffs, I’ve got a month till I hit a beach holiday. I have limited equipment in my flat (i.e. none) and just want to build muscle doing exercises at home. Any ideas?
I do have access to this outdoor gym:”

Firstly, let’s consider the equipment at the outdoor gym… There’s a leg press, lat pulldown, bench, pull up / dip station and chest press. All the machines (As far as I can tell, I’ve never been) involve using your bodyweight as the resistance of the machine, for example the chest press said you’d use about 30% of your bodyweight as resistance.

Because of this, I’m not sure it’s going to be too useful for my friend’s needs, but I suggest going along and trying it out and seeing how the resistance stacks up.

Pushups - James Schofield

With just 4 weeks to go, the most important thing to focus on will be consistent resistance training, coupled with hard HIIT circuits. (Build muscle / burn fat).

I would prescribe training Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. You want to focus on workouts that develop the maximum amount of muscle in the quickest time possible, but with a preference to certain motions to allow optimum performance the following days. Research has shown in trained individuals, skeletal protein synthesis is elevated for up to 36 hours after a session. (48 hours in those untrained.) In simple terms, giving yourself the whole weekend off is too long.


  • Day 1 – Push
    Day 2 – Pull
    Day 3 – Push & Core
    Day 4 – Legs

Before you all go crazy, yes there are two push days. His focus is to look good, which all things being equal means chest, shoulders and abs.

3*10 = 3 sets of 10 reps. All rest is 1 minute.
// = superset, perform both exercises immediately before resting

Monday -

Explosive Push Up: 3* to failure.
Slow eccentric Chest Press: 3*12 Explosive concentric (pushing), 5 second negative. (I assume the weight will be too easy but there’s not a lot we can do about that, shoot for 10 second negatives if it’s too easy)
Slow eccentric push up: 3*10 5 second lowering portion on every rep
Tricep dips using the bench: 3* to failure / 1 minute rest

Sprints (Maximum Effort) 10 * 7-9 second sprints / 45 seconds rest per sprint

Tuesday –

Pull Up 3* to failure // Chin Up 3* to failure. 1 min 30 rest.
Slow eccentric Lat Pulldown 3*12 (pull down fast, release the weight up slowly) 5 second release portion on every rep.
Negative Chin up – (only the lowering portion of a chin up, jump and catch the bar to start high.) 3*5 reps 10 second lowering portion on each rep.

HIIT: Maximum effort -

3* 30 seconds of mountain climbers / 30 seconds rest
3* 10 burpees with full pushup. / 1 minute rest

Thursday –

Chest Press 3*10 // Dips 3* to failure
Slow eccentric push up 3*10 5 second lowering portion on every rep
Core Circuit 2 sets total: V Sit 10 // Side Plank L 45 seconds // Side Plank R 45 seconds
Burpees with full push up 3*10 / 1 minute rest

Sprints (Maximum Effort) 10 * 7-9 second sprints / 45 seconds rest per sprint

Saturday -

Leg Press 3*10 // Squat Jumps 3*10 / 1 minute rest
Bodyweight Squats 3*12 with 5 second lowering portion / 1 minute rest
Bulgarian Split Squats using bench 3*20x leg / 1 minute rest
Standing Long Jump 3*10 / 1 minute rest

3* 30 seconds of mountain climbers / 30 seconds rest
3* 10 burpees with full pushup. / 1 minute rest

So there you have it. If you have any questions, give me a shout on the James Schofield Training Facebook Group

Don’t forget to hit up the Twitter @JSchofTraining

Happy New Year + The Idle Man

Welcome to 2015 everyone!

I apologise for the lack of recent updates. For those that don’t know, I am out in Kuwait right now and my focus has been on a few things, but unfortunately writing articles hasn’t been at the top of that list. More news to follow, but recently I have been concentrating updates on the – James Schofield Training Facebook Group which focuses on my choice picks in training, health, and supplementation from around the web and is growing all the time.

I have also been working on a new website for my personal training, which will be finished soon! As you know, I do love to write so I am pleased to say I have been asked to appear as a guest blogger on fashion website The Idle Man, where I will be contributing blogposts frequently. Check it out, it’s a great resource of fashion items, deals and guides to help you look your best whatever you’re be doing!

Are you Wasting Your TIME with Ineffective Cardio?

People all across the UK are now (or have been) hitting the gym as it’s (sort of; still) the New Year. I commend these people for making the effort and taking that plunge into fitness. However, if they don’t see results, they won’t stick with it. Cardiovascular exercise (otherwise known as cardio) is much more complex than just ‘running on a treadmill’.

‘Steady State’ Cardio is Not Enough

Doing traditional aerobic steady state cardio exercise as we know it has almost zero effect on fat loss. (1) You know, the kind where you jog on a treadmill for 20-45 minutes at a reasonable pace, all the time feeling smug and reminding ourselves how good this is for us. We’ve all done it. Whilst it is true that all exercise burns calories, unfortunately exercising this way will not get you the body you want. This is due to adaptation, and, quite simply, how amazing your body is.

Consider this example: If you run for 20 minutes every day you will undoubtedly see your cardiovascular fitness going up. Unfortunately, all that happens is that your body adapts and becomes more efficient at running. You will become fitter, and better – but only at running. Think about construction workers that do heavy manual labour for 8 hours a day. For the first few days and even weeks they are sore as heck and their muscles ‘hate’ them, but as the weeks pass, their soreness decreases, until it is almost non-existent. Are they all huge ripped muscular beasts? Generally speaking, no they aren’t. (Note: This is not a slight at construction workers in any way shape or form.) Your body is an amazing thing and it adapts to doing what you consistently do. Therefore it is essential to train in intervals and progressively increase your workrate to avoid stagnation.

Takeaway: Doing cardio exercise in the traditional ‘fat burning zone’ (55%-65% of your maximum heart rate) does almost nothing for you in terms of fat burning!

Muay Thai provides great interval training - @JSchofTraining muay thai with Fawaz Bader

Muay Thai provides great interval training

You Need Interval Training!

Interval training involves periods of higher intensity, and ultimately harder work and periods of easier, lighter intensity work. This gives us the holy grail of fat loss – Excess Postexercise Oxygen Consumption, or EPOC effect.

The EPOC effect means that you burn calories even after you have stopped training. If you do the aforementioned steady state cardio, your calorie burn stops the minute you leave the gym. If you do interval training, your fat burning can continue for many hours afterwards therefore maximising the results of your efforts.

A study conducted by the University of Western Ontario showed just how effective interval training is: They had 10 men and 10 women training 3x a week, one group running 30 second sprints and resting for around 4-6 minutes between efforts. The other group did 30-60 minutes of exercise on a treadmill at 65% of their maximum heart rate (the top end of the traditional fat burning zone).

After 6 weeks of training, the group doing interval training had lost far more fat than the group doing plain old cardio. (12.4% compared to just 5.8%). That’s a pretty astonishing difference, and might be alarming for those of you spending an hour on a treadmill! (2).

Scientists don’t know the exact reasons for such huge differences in fat loss, but it’s thought that more fat is burnt due to (at the very least):

The EPOC effect and increased resting metabolic rate for up to 24 hours after training (1)
Targeting abdominal fat more than other variations of cardiovascular exercise (3)
Improved insulin sensitivity in the muscles (1, 4)
Spikes in growth hormone (1, 3)

Health Club Treadmill - running

Takeaway: Do high intensity interval training if you want more comprehensive and longer lasting results. Anything else cardio wise is simply a waste of time. Interval training takes more effort yes, but the results are substantially better. (The fact that it takes more effort should be a major clue in why your time is better used this way.)

How Should I Structure my Interval Training Sessions?

The simplest way to structure an interval session is to start with a certain time ‘on’, where you will be going hard (e.g. sprinting), and then spending as long as is necessary recovering. On a treadmill or running outside a good start is twenty seconds of sprinting followed by two minutes walking or light jogging to recover. Then you can change your rest periods as your fitness improves, and try and match your time, every time, for however many sets you want to do.


Sprint 20 seconds. Recover (walk or slowly jog) for 2 minutes. Repeat 5x times.

As this becomes easier, start to decrease the rest times by 15-30 seconds.

Sprint 20 seconds. Recover for 1 minute 30 seconds.

The optimum intensity to work towards would depend on the individual but we like to get our clients working on a 1:1 ratio as quickly as possible – this means 20 seconds of maximum effort followed by 20 seconds of recovery.

If you are putting a lot of effort into your training (as you should be doing) it simply isn’t sustainable to do 10x or 15x sets of this type of training. If you can, your ‘on’ efforts are lacklustre!

Final Thoughts

Cardio can be a great way to improve your general fitness and heart health, but it’s important that you do it right in order to get the maximum benefit from the hard work you put in. We have used sprinting as an example, but to make it easier, pick a cardio exercise that you enjoy – it could be anything – running, cycling, the elliptical machine, or even sports that have naturally occuring breaks or time constraints like boxing, squash, or basketball.

What cardio activities do you enjoy?! Or do you prefer to lift weights? Comment below and tell us what you think! Share your best circuits or interval ideas and encourage others to do the same. Thanks for reading!


James Schofield - Fitness Professional @JSchofTraining

James Schofield is a fully qualified personal trainer and athlete working as an athletic performance coach at Kuwait’s premier training facilty, SPARK.

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1. J Obes. 2011;2011:868305. doi: 10.1155/2011/868305. Epub 2010 Nov 24. High-intensity intermittent exercise and fat loss.Boutcher SH.
2. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011 Jan;43(1):115-22. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181e5eacd. Run sprint interval training improves aerobic performance but not maximal cardiac output. Macpherson RE, Hazell TJ, Olver TD, Paterson DH, Lemon PW.
3. Trapp EG, Chisholm DJ, Freund J, Boutcher SH. The effects of high-intensity intermittent exercise training on fat loss and fasting insulin levels of young women. International Journal of Obesity. 2008;32(4):684–691. [PubMed]
4. From: J Obes. 2011; 2011: 868305. Published online 2010 November 24. doi: 10.1155/2011/868305

The Hanging Leg Raise – How to and Demonstration Video

Summary: This is an essential core exercise for athletes, those looking to improve their physique and those who want a serious core workout. You need to be both strong and aware of your body to perform these properly with a minimum of momentum. The hanging leg raise involves hanging from an overhead bar or using hanging straps (shown in video) and raising straight legs up to your hands or the bar. It’s basically an ab workout all on it’s own!

Hanging Leg Raise - @Jschoftraining

Hanging Leg Raise – @JSchofTraining

How To: Hang from an overhead bar, chin up grips, or use hanging straps, and with as straight legs as possible, raise your legs up high to your head / to the bar. Tilt your pelvis and engage your core as hard as possible to lift your lower body skywards. Once at the top, lower your legs again in a controlled manner until your torso is straight again before repeating. Control the movement as much as possible to minimise swinging. Momentum should be limited as much as possible as if the abdominals aren’t effectively engaged it is possible to hyperextend the spine. Many people perform leg raises and bring their legs to parallel or 90 degrees, which is ineffective in fully engaging the lower body musculature, but is of course much easier. Bringing your legs up high to your hands engages the posterior chain more completely and provides a much tougher core workout. The straighter your legs, the harder the exercise.


Regression: If a partial hanging leg raise is too difficult to perform, then the best variation is the seated leg raise with a closed knee joint (bent knee). If this is too easy, you can try hanging and raising your legs with bent knees.


Seated Leg Raise (Bent Knee)

Muscles worked: Rectus and Transverse Abdominus (abdominals), complete posterior chain stabilisers – illiapsoas (hip flexors), tensor fascia lata, sartorius.

Secondary muscles worked: Upper body (to support and hold the torso!) but especially shoulders, arms and back. Quadriceps femoris must be tense to keep your legs stable as you raise them.


Thanks for reading, for more exercise and training ideas and videos make sure you hit CTRL+D and bookmark us, hit up the Facebook group (James Schofield Fitness Training) and check out the Youtube channel.


Twitter: @JSchofTraining
Instagram: JSchofTraining
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James Schofield Fitness Training Facebook Group

Unfortunately this site has clearly been neglected a little, as I now live in Kuwait in the Middle East, and work is busy and time-consuming! I have been posting to my Facebook group as it is easy to update, and thought now would be a great time to pass some of this information onto you -

James Schofield Fitness Training

Check it out and see my latest deadlift video (206.8 kgs at a bodyweight of 93.5kgs), stuff on metabolic conditioning and how to use this to get the absolute best benefit out of your workouts, and also how and why you should perform a supremely underutilised exercise, the humble back extension. Loads of information seconds away at your fingertips!

james-schofield-fitness-training / @jschoftraining

Aside from James Schofield Fitness Training on Facebook, we’re also gaining momentum on Instagram and Twitter – check out -

@JSchofTraining now and read about my lifting, nutrition and workouts, and all the best of what’s going on in my world of iron!


My Take on Metabolic Conditioning, or Metabolic Resistance Training

I posted this to my Facebook group (James Schofield Fitness Training on Facebook) and did a little write up after reading this article about Metabolic Resistance Training.

Read the article and collect your thoughts, then consider what I have to say below – which I think is a much more effective, safer way to achieve the same goals.

>>> I thought this was a very good article, it’s effectively how I train 100% of the time now (in my own way) – however – I don’t do it like they do here in circuit form, in fact I don’t think I ever would because I like to focus on my lifts and my movements. The KEY paragraph is this:

‘MRT covers many combinations of CV and muscular training involving many techniques to increase intensity such as circuits, supersets, speed work, compound movements and low rest. It bridges the gap between aerobic and anaerobic activity and as such could be the perfect thing to get you away from the hours on the treadmill.’

If I am not having an out and out ‘strength’ day, every exercise I do will be supersetted with some sort of Metabolic Training. For example, after I have done my heavy squats, I’ll do some legs assistance work. This could be as simple as doing single leg leg presses. I superset this exercise with box jumps, squat jumps, or high bench jumping steps (like having one foot on a bench and one on the floor, and jumping and switching your feet for 20 reps). This ‘extra’ exercise turns the overload UP and the heart rate sky high as it is a challenging exercise for the heart whilst providing a tough challenge for the muscles themselves.


Battle Ropes - Fantastic Metabolic Resistance!

Battle Ropes – Fantastic Metabolic Resistance!

Some examples:

Prime leg exercise superset with jump squats or box jumps
Prime leg exercise superset with single leg jumps or hops
Bench Press superset with push ups or knee raise push ups
Chin ups or Pull Ups superset with core work or hip raises

thanks to Nick A Titley

Squat Jump!

Obviously it’s much easier to do effective metabolic work with leg dominant or whole body activities. how many push ups can you do? 20? Doing bench press then a set of push ups would achieve the same – you are workign for between 20-30 seconds which as you should know is the ideal time for a short interval of work. As long as you get between 20 and 40 seconds of good work in, you’ll be feeling it!

It’s that simple – pick your exercise, pick another that is related and more taxing on the heart but still utilises resistance, and go nuts. You literally don’t need to do conventional ‘cardio’ ever again. Thanks!

The No Excuses 20 Minute Bodyweight Home Workout

Once again Happy 2013 to everyone reading this – those of you living in the UK will know that SNOW has been upon us these last couple of weeks…

January, the month when everyone decides that they’ve eaten too much over Christmas and cunningly sets a new year’s resolution to ‘go to the gym!’ Such a paradox, everyone knows that trekking to the gym in this weather is horrible, as well as potentially dangerous, but oh you want to get fit and want to tone up and want to gain muscle and want to be fit… Yet by February the gyms are empty again, except now the fatcats are busy counting their money from 6 or 12 month memberships.

If you can’t / won’t get out to the gym, or even out of the house, here’s a solution for you. Try this 20 minute home workout. It’ll get your heart rate going crazy, start to build strength, increase your fitness levels and of course burn some calories; what’s better is that you have NO EXCUSES. Also, the 20 minute includes a warm up and also some light stretching afterwards, so it’s not a case of cutting it short and not getting the maximum benefit! You have to be strict with yourself! Work this into your current training schedule and it’ll ramp up your performance without requiring a huge chunk of your day!

Prisoner Squat - hands up behind your head, stay tall with your chest up and out

Prisoner Squat – hands up behind your head, stay tall with your chest up and out

Welcome to part 1 of the No Excuses home workout: To complete this workout you just need a room, and a timer. As long as there’s space for you to jump up and down and lie prone to do a pushup, you’re in business! If you have any sort of heavy equipment, be it heavy bag (boxing punch bag), kettlebell, dumbbells, medicine ball, sandbags or powerbag, wait for part 2, where we will increase the resistance – in part 1, you can simply use bodyweight exercises to ensure you still get a great workout!

Do each exercise for 3 sets, resting only 30 seconds between sets. When you’ve done all 3 sets of an exercise, rest for a minute and move onto the next exercise! If a rep range is listed, aim for the top of the rep range!!! Also keep a bottle of water nearby so you stay hydrated but try and stick to the rest periods!

No Excuses: Part 1: 20 Minute Beginner workout – no equipment

2 minute warm up -
Star Jumps (jumping jacks) 30 seconds
Running on the spot whilst rotating your arms in an arc 30 seconds
Star jumps again
Running on the spot again

Jump Squat – 3 sets of 5-7
Prisoner Squat – 3 sets of 20
Push Ups – 3 sets of 5-7
Lying Back Extension with arms by sides and feet flat 3 sets of 10 (The first time you do this workout, do only 1 set. Then build to 2 sets, and finally, 3)
Mountain climbers – 3 sets of 30 seconds on, rest for 45 seconds, repeat. (Do as many mountain climbers as you can in 30 seconds. Rest for 45 seconds then go again. Do 3 times)

Back extension - raise your head just a few inches off the floor

Back extension – raise your head just a few inches off the floor

Now spend a few minutes stretching and enjoy the endorphin release of completing a tough workout!

Stretches – hold each stretch for 20 seconds.

Hamstrings, quads, glutes, chest

No Excuses: Part 1: 20 Minute Advanced workout – no equipment

2 minute warm up -
Star Jumps (jumping jacks) 30 seconds
Running on the spot whilst rotating your arms in an arc 30 seconds
Star jumps again
Running on the spot again

Jump Squat – 3 sets of 10-12
Prisoner Squat – 3 sets of 20
Clap Push Ups – 3 sets of 8-10 (If you can’t complete the required reps, take 10 seconds rest after you reach failure, and do normal pushups to complete the set)
Lying Back Extension + Extended arms + Feet raise 3 sets of 10
Burpees – 3 sets of 30 seconds on, rest for 30 seconds, repeat.

Stretching to finish, and a shower!

Stretches – hold each stretch for 20 seconds.

Hamstrings, quads, glutes, chest.

This workout will get you puffing I assure you, and is exactly what you need to kickstart your workout regime for 2013. Those of you wanting to burn fat should consider a greens supplement such as (my favourite) Light Force Greens which is a 100% organic superfood supplement, containing more healthy vitamin goodness than you could ever eat in a day! Check out the link for more info. I’ll add part two soon which will be beginner and advanced workouts for those with a piece of equipment or two! For those of you wanting to make progress, I’d recommend doing this twice a week alongside a proper weight training session, or do it once a week + a proper weight training session + a sprint session. Slacking won’t get you anywhere but this is how easy it can be to start!

Everlast Boxing Gloves

Everlast Boxing Gloves

I’m also available now for Personal Training in the London area, so if you want to lose weight + tone up using boxing or thai boxing, drop me a note!

Watch this space for part 2… Thanks!

Females – Fighting Your Underarm Fat

Women, do you need help fighting your upper arm fat or dreaded ‘bingo wings’? I have had many questions regarding the upper arms and most recently a question came in on my Facebook group (James Schofield Fitness Training) so I thought a proper post would apply to many!

(Paraphrased) Question:



“I’m on a bit of a health kick and exercise regime but my arms just aren’t changing quickly enough. I have some muscle but they’re still ‘flabby’ underneath and make me look fat! I don’t want to have to go all-in-muscle-woman to sort them out, what can I do?”

The endless issue for many women -  get ‘toned’ yes, don’t look like Madonna. With some hard work and good eating you can make progress, but you WON’T PUT ON MUSCLE. (You don’t have the testosterone to do so). I’ll outline some of the techniques I’ve used, also note the women weren’t at all ‘fat’, they were a bit pudgy but not ‘fat’ by any means. Recently they’ve come back from holidays with their friends saying how good they look and asking who they’ve been training with.



Anatomy of the Triceps Muscle

Anatomy of the Triceps Muscle

The Muscles Involved

Your upper arm is made up of the biceps and triceps. The important ones for you here are the long head (read top and a bit down the side) and the lateral head (the side) of the triceps. The biceps is less important, most upper arm size is triceps related so focusing on burning fat and building muscle here will yield greater changes to appearance.

Fat and Goals

Burn bodyfat (via circuit and intense cardio work) and strengthen the target muscles (resistance exercise). You will improve the look of the arm by increasing muscle mass and removing excess fat. A common misconception is that you can ‘spot reduce’ fat from a particular area, be it thighs, arms, upper back and so forth. Fat is fat, where you are predisposed to storing it is something that you can’t change, it’s controlled by your DNA and your hormones. Your body may burn fat in certain areas first, such is life, everyone is different. This is a great workout to add into your training alongside another cardio session.




The normal woman – not seriously large or overweight, not super slim or athletic either. If you’re a girl that can do 1-5 half decent pushups, this is you. The women I trained were all working out at home with limited equipment.  Though obviously unadvisable, it can be performed with some safety without help because you can always just drop the dumbbells if you run into problems.

The Upper Arm Plan of Attack:

Complete the exercises below as a circuit – Notation: SETS*REPS. (eg 3*12 = 3 sets of 12 reps.) The 10th-12th reps should be pretty hard! If they aren’t, up the weight.

If no sets and reps are listed, perform each exercise for 30 seconds nonstop, before moving to the next exercise. When all exercises are complete, rest for a minute and a half to two minutes and get going again! Do it 3 times and see how you feel – aim for the same number of reps per circuit on the timed exercises. Make sure you are striving to get better numbers as the weeks progress!

Warm Up:

Make sure you warm up for at least 4/5 minutes by getting your body moving, start off walking and rotating your shoulders and arms, jog lightly, skip a little bit, reach up for the sky, do some bodyweight squats and get ready to train hard.


  • Increase the timed exercises to 45 seconds a time after 3 weeks
  • Increase the weight by 1kg to each dumbbell every 2 weeks

The Exercises:

Exercise: Goblet Dumbbell Squat – 3*12. Start with 6-8 kgs.

Kettlebell Goblet Squat - James Schofield and James Sinclair -

Kettlebell Goblet Squat

Why? You should squat. Just trust me.

How? Perform a full squat. Keep your weight on your heels, sit back at the hips (sticking your ass out) and lowering down as far as is comfortable, with your glutes activated and your stomach pulled in, imagine you’re sitting down onto a chair. Keep all your weight on your heels and drive back up to standing, keeping your abdominals braced the whole time. Don’t round your back over and hunch around the weight, stand strong… See later part of article on squatting, but hold the dumbbell vertically between your hands and pulled into your chest / under your chin, whilst keeping your upper back tight and back straight. Watch me Goblet Squat with a kettlebell on the Youtube channel.

Things to avoid? Smashing yourself in the face with the dumbbell. Also don’t hunch your back over, keep straight and stand tall.




Exercise: Push-Up (for time)

Why? The king of bodyweight upper body exercises.

Female Performing a full push up

Female Performing a full push up

How? With your hands extended and shoulder width apart put your hands on a bench in front of you and lower your body in a line to the floor so that your chest is almost touching the floor. Keep your abs and glutes tight so your body stays rigid, drive back up through the arms and chest to the top position.

Things to avoid: Head bobbing. Many people move their heads down as if bobbing for apples, creating the illusion of being closer to the floor. Get someone to watch you, or simply put a pillow on the floor, close your eyes, then lower yourself for the push up.

Regression: If you can’t do a push-up, learn by starting higher: Do push-ups on a bench for example (incline push up) to raise your upper body higher and they will be easier. A good strategy is to use the adjustable steps or even some stairs (don’t hit your head)- start with the step as high as it can go, and when you can perform 12-15 good push ups in a set, lower the step to the next level down, which will make the exercise harder.

Proression: When you can perform push-ups on the floor to a decent level, either raise your feet slightly (on a step for example) or move your hands slightly closer together to emphasise the triceps if you want to feel it more in your arms.

Exercise: Dumbell Squat, Bicep Curl, and Overhead Press. All three movements = 1 rep (for time). Start with 5kg dumbells.

Why? A huge training effect from a large multi joint compound movement will raise your heart rate and burn fat. Triceps are heavily involved in the overhead press and biceps with the bicep curl (as the name suggests).

How? Holding the dumbbells by your sides with a neutral grip (palms facing inwards towards you)), perform a full squat by sitting back at the hips with your weight on your heels and lowering down as far as is comfortable, keeping your glutes and abs tight. Drive through your heels to standing and then immediately bicep curl the dumbells so your palms are facing towards you, before rotating your wrists away from you and pressing them overhead.

Things to Avoid: Leaning too far forward when you squat. Try and keep your chest up and head forward. A  female personal trainer explained it to me as “show the mirror your boobs” – which in essence is the thing to do, that, and remember to sit BACK into the squat (use a chair if you don’t get it).

Regression: Use lighter weights. You will fail on the overhead press first, so be careful when you get tired and slow down a little bit.

Dumbbell Bench Press – 3*15. Start with 6-8 kgs and adjust accordingly.

Flat Dumbbell Bench diagram

Flat Dumbbell Bench diagram

Why? Bench pressing works the chest and triceps, and stabilisers in the chest and upper back such as the serratus anterior and traps.

How? Lie down on a bench, and get secure by planting your feet. Tighten your abs and glutes and try to ‘lock’ yourself into the bench. With your arms extended, lower the dumbells to touch your chest by bending at the elbows. When your elbows reach a 90 degree angle, push the dumbbells back up above you.

Things to avoid? Moving your feet around or lifting them up, and not lowering the dumbbells down a decent distance. The range of movement is important.

Regression: Use lighter weights.


Exercise: Lateral Raise (for time)

Why? It’s hard work for the shoulders and triceps, and also gets your upper back involved using the traps and stabiliser muscles.

How? Start with 3kgs, and let the dumbbells hang by your sides with a neutral grip. Move your arms in an arc up to shoulder height, keeping them extended but not with locked elbows. Focus on squeezing hard at the top of the movement, before lowering with control. This gets hard very quickly.

Things to avoid: Swinging the dumbbells violently. Use a controlled movement. Also try and keep your arms quite straight, with only a very slight bend in the elbows. As you become tired there will be a tendency to bend the elbows more to make the movement easier.

Regression: Use lighter weights.

So remember, repeat this 3x and then it’s time for a bit of cardio…

Cardio Finisher:

Cardio finishers are great when the resistance part of the workout is complete.

Set a stopwatch to 30 seconds and do as many mountain climbers as you can in that time. Rest for 45 seconds to 1 minute, you want to have your breath back.

Then do the same for burpees.

Repeat x3. Stretch, cool down, and enjoy the endorphin release.

Alongside your other strength and cardio training, this will help you really get at what you want to target.

If you have any questions or comments or anything at all post at the very bottom of the page or join the discussion on the James Schofield Training Facebook.

Thanks very much, Happy Christmas :)

James. / Twitter/Instagram: @JSchofTraining

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Kids Cagefighting in the UK and the Associated Media Uproar

The subject of children’s cage fighting has exploded into the UK’s mainstream media today: I first saw this a few hours ago via friend at Twitterland, but refrained from commenting due to the nature and volatility of the potential responses. I have to weigh in a little, as what appeared in most of the UK press today is in short, crazy scaremongering. This ‘kids cagefighting’ story has been featured everywhere, including the Mirror, Telegraph, and the Mail.

Now, I have no problem at all with the debate, and wouldn’t say I sit on a particular side of the fence regarding the issue, obviously respecting the dangers involved. It’s definitely a good thing that MMA has proliferated and is becoming more well known and respected, but unfortunately the smouldering stream of mis-information and ill informed journalists shows no signs of calming. This information is repeated or taken as gospel by many, leaving even the slightly informed totally clueless.”

If you’re going to write about something, at least have some kind of clue as to what you’re blabbering on about.

Cage Fighting Children

Cage Fighting Children

I know nothing about the REPs fight promotion, but could tell from the short 10 minute video (which appears to have now been removed from every available source) that it was basically a submission wrestling match. No punches, no kicks, no slaps, no strikes of any kind, just lots of transitions, joint submissions, and in this case, leg locks. I’ll say that again for those of you that might need it. NO STRIKES OF ANY KIND. Therefore, an unfortunate but obvious slur on all the journalists writing on the topic is that unfortunately they’ve pandered to the hounds of the masses. In their heads alarm bells were ringing. “Oh, outrage, kids cagefighting, blah blah, how wrong, blah blah, must write a damning article!”. I’m sure many average citizens would respond in exactly the same way. But that begs the question – if you know nothing of the topic, why are you writing about it? Or why not research it first? Or god forbid, actually watch the video in question maybe? The point of being a journalist is to provide creditable information and reporting? Ranting aside, it does allow us to name and shame as we’ve been given some fabulous gems!

Step forward the Telegraph’s Josie Ensor, who aside from the kids cagefighting article, has a stable of articles about politics, taxes, and the Lib Dem conference. She obviously is an expert on her latest article topic, proclaiming “In one of the last bouts the smaller looking boy is repeatedly kicked in the head while his arm is twisted by the other young competitor.”

Aside from being a total and utter lie, she talks about it as if it is a full blown MMA match, even after input from the man behind the promotion: “The kids are not getting hit or anything at all when they are under age. We do not let them strike – punch and kick – until the age of 14 or 15.” – Why then is she calling it an MMA fight with ”Contestants are allowed to punch, kick and elbow each other into submission”. Mr. Jackson of Warriors Gym, apparently ”questioned the lack of protective gear.” Perhaps if Josie Ensor had told him that it wasn’t in fact an ‘MMA fight’ between two kids then that question wouldn’t have been posed.

Frankly, how did that article even pass the sub-editor stage? What is more disgusting is that she’d have been paid for writing it.

The article in the Daily Mirror, whose author didn’t note their name, gave a less damning account, but brazenly states ”showing the two youngsters grappling does not make for easy viewing” under the banner of ‘cage fighting’. It didn’t make for easy viewing for me either, partly because the skills on show were so interesting to watch. With an understanding of grappling, it all becomes clear. They’ve enlisted help for the ‘disgusted’ side in the form of the British Medical Assocation (BMA) who lambast REPS ”for not ensuring the children were wearing any protective padding or head gear.” Which again, would be no help, and could even bring about more chance of injury to these competitors. (They train and learn without padding, so why introduce it if nothing impactful is occuring? It has been tested with boxers wearing head guards that the incident rate of knockout can actually be higher with headguards due to them giving the head a larger surface area, therefore if they catch a punch the acceleratory forces on the brain can be higher.)

Childrens Cagefighting - Why have the Mirror blurred just one face

Childrens Cagefighting - Why have the Mirror blurred just one face

From how it appears, the only truly dangerous aspect that definitely needs to be looked at is the fact that joints and bones are still developing through to adulthood, and alarm bells were ringing as the boys spun for endless leg lock attempts. Traditionally leglocks aren’t allowed in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competition until blue belt, whereby practitioners will have learned better control and knowledge in both their application and escapes, as a leglock or hold can quickly cause serious damage and potentially career ending injuries very quickly.

Another issue well worth considering is the youth of the competitors, and the prospect that they may easily damage themselves for the long term without knowing or realising it at the time. At that age one does not know their own limits or how much punishment the body can take, but these are all risks that are minimised with training, organisation and parenting. If joint locks were removed, the children would have literally been taking part in a wrestling match, a sport that is both popular (with children) and revered in America, whilst providing a minimal amount of danger. (No protective gear is worn in America aside from sometimes ear protectors.) However, the connotations between ‘children’ and ‘cage fighting’ are tenuous at best.

Let’s work to inform about our sport, not dissuade people from it!

AverageJoesBlog – Children MMA Fights
Mirror – Cage Fighting Kids
Mail – Children as young as 8 filmed taking part in cage fighting – and it’s legal

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