THESE ARE THE common bugbears that you may encounter when taking exercise. Aside from treating niggling ailments such as blisters and abrasions — which can be very painful at the time — do not try to be your own doctor. If you have injured yourself or are feeling unwell as a result of taking exercise, seek proper medical advice.


Blisters are the body’s defence mechanism against very high temperatures. The blisters that you get on your feet during exercise are the result of friction, and their purpose is to cushion that area against further injury. That’s fine, except they bloody hurt! Opinion is divided as to whether you should empty the fluid out of blisters or not. If they are small (smaller than your index finger’s nail, for example), it is probably best to cover them with a padded sticking-plaster and leave them. Larger than that and you should consider bursting them. The danger with this is infection — it is vital that you don’t introduce any germs into the blister when you are fiddling with it and you must be sure to sterilize the surface of the blister and the area around it, your hands and whatever you are going to burst the blister with (a pin is the best bet). This is done by liberally dousing them all with surgical spirit or an antiseptic liquid. When everything is thoroughly sterile, make two holes in the surface of the blister and allow all of the fluid to come out before, again, soaking the area in surgical spirit (which will sting mightily) and covering with sticking-plaster.

You can try to prevent blisters altogether through various means, which include taping blister-prone areas of your feet, smearing petroleum jelly on your feet and between your toes, and even soaking your socks in olive oil.

Black Toenails

Black toenails indicate bleeding and bruising beneath the nail and in extreme cases they can become horribly infected. There are two basic causes: allowing the toenails to grow too long, and exercising in poorly fitting shoes. Cutting your toenails is cheaper so try that first, but if it doesn’t work then you may have to buy a new pair of shoes.

Treat walking boots with dubbin, soap or neat’s-foot oil to soften the leather and wear them around your home and for short walks before you try any long distances in them.

Jogger’s Nipple

Jogger’s nipple is an excruciatingly painful condition caused by the chafing of running vests and shirts against the nipples. As with blisters, you can attempt to prevent this by putting petroleum jelly on the nipples or by taping over them (hairy-chested men beware!).

Groin Chafing

Chafing between the legs at the groin is often suffered by those who run with their legs fairly close together. As with jogger’s nipple, it can be excruciatingly painful although it isn’t particularly serious. The only preventive that I have found to work 100 per cent of the time is to smear copious quantities of petroleum jelly on the afflicted area.

Stress Injuries

People who take a lot of exercise can suffer from a number of different stress injuries, most of which require the same treatment — rest. Some of the most common include:

Shin Splints

Pain and soreness around the shins is known as ‘shin splints’. It can be caused by a number of factors, including inadequate warming-up, running on hard or uneven surfaces and running too fast. The problem will quickly disappear if correctly treated, but when ignored it can lead to stress fractures in the lower leg.

Runner’s Knee

This is characterized by pain around or under the knee and it is caused by improper tracking of the kneecap. A good preventive measure is to build up the strength of your quadriceps muscles by cycling, but otherwise you should avoid too much sprinting and running on hilly ground.

Achilles Tendonitis

Pain in the Achilles tendon (at the back of the heel) is extremely common among runners. It can be caused by pressure from ill-fitting shoes and by excessive stretching when improperly warmed up. A good preventive is to do frequent but gentle Achilles stretches.

Plantar Fascitis

This is a very painful inflammation of the connective tissue on the sole of the foot. It can be prevented by not running on hard surfaces and by performing frequent calf stretches.

A good treatment for easing the pain from all of these injuries is known by the acronym RICE — Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. You need a bag of ice, wrapped in a cloth or tea-towel, and a place where you can sit or lie comfortably for zo minutes with your injured part elevated above your heart. All you have to do is apply the ice, quite firmly, to the injured part while holding it above the level of the heart. The ice should be wrapped in a cloth to prevent ‘ice burns’ on the skin. This simple process eases inflammation dramatically and it can be further improved by taking aspirin or another mild painkiller.

Temperature Extremes

Heat Exhaustion

Exercising in really hot weather can be bad news — it is all too easy to move through dehydration into heat exhaustion, heat stroke and death. Any of these symptoms means trouble: dizziness, headache, disorientation, nausea, decrease in sweating, and cold, clammy skin. If you notice these symptoms in yourself, or in someone you are training with, stop exercising immediately, get into shade, drink water and pour it over yourself, and seek immediate medical attention. The symptoms are normally preceded by profuse sweating and a feeling of weakness and fatigue which should lead most sensible people to abandon exercise immediately.

In this case prevention is far better than cure, so bear a few things in mind. The most important is to avoid exercising in conditions where heat will be a problem. In the tropics, for example, don’t exercise during the middle of the day when the sun is hottest, use the early morning instead. Always ensure that you have plenty of (non-alcoholic) liquid to drink before, during and after any exercise you take in hot conditions, and always acclimatize slowly to heat. It is a matter of common sense — ‘A man’s gotta know his limitations’, as Clint Eastwood once said.


Hypothermia is a condition caused by a drop in the core temperature of the human body which leads to unconsciousness, cardiac and respiratory failure and death. While the condition is not likely to be a problem in most temperate climates (because it is unlikely to get cold enough to fell someone out on a 45-minute run), it is a very real danger if you are training out in the hills, or even just hiking.

Apart from low temperatures, factors which contribute to the onset of hypothermia include high winds (the wind chill factor), wetness and physical exhaustion. The symptoms are, at first, simple coldness and shivering but these then progress towards the following:

Eventually, as the condition worsens, the sufferer slides into coma and then dies. First aid for the early stages should include taking shelter, changing into warm, dry clothing and drinking plenty of hot fluids. But there is a requirement for urgent medical treatment at all stages of hypothermia and the further the sufferer is allowed to slide, the more critical this is.

First-Aid Kit

Whenever you undertake any activity that could involve injuring yourself, you should always carry a first-aid kit with you to tide yourself over until you can get professional help. If you are training or hiking in the hills, when help can be hours or even days away, this becomes doubly important and a first-aid kit is a vital component of your survival equipment.



IT IS TIME to put together all the information and combine it into training programmes. There are three here, all designed for people who don’t currently take much exercise but want to start getting fit.

The Desk Driver’s programme takes up the least time and involves the least effort. It is designed on the principle that any exercise is better than none, but it will have a very noticeable effect on your general fitness. Unless you want to play sport at the weekend, you do not need any special equipment other than the basic training gear, and you don’t need to go to a gym or sports centre (unless you want to!).

The Semi-Pro programme is for people who want to improve their fitness significantly, but who don’t have the time or need to scale the heights of the full MMA Fit programme. To complete the Semi-Pro programme, you need to have access to a swimming pool and, preferably, a sports centre.

The MMA Fit programme will take you to a very high level of physical fitness. It requires determination and dedication to see it through, but by the end you will be ready to conquer the world (well, nearly). To complete the MMA Fit programme, you will need to have access to a gym and a swimming pool and be prepared to visit them several times each week. As the programme takes four months to complete, you should also be prepared to suffer some wear and tear on both your body and your equipment.

How the Programmes Work

The MMA Fit programmes are designed to get you to the level of fitness you want in the shortest possible time, with the least amount of physical stress. They start gently enough and progress in a way that will accustom you to taking a lot of exercise in small, easily manageable doses. They will also accommodate any sporting activity that you normally take part in. If you play soccer, rugby, tennis, squash or any other high-activity sport, you can substitute it for any training session in the programme and then continue as normal the next day. Be warned however: you don’t get fit overnight. No diet or fitness programme works unless you stick with it, and you must discipline yourself. Despite that, the MMA Fit programmes are easy to follow because the high level of activity means that you need to worry much less about your food intake. It won’t matter if you indulge in an occasional blow-out and you can certainly have a few beers every now and again.

What About Interruptions?

Don’t worry if you miss a day now and then — enjoy the rest and console yourself with the thought that your body is being given an unexpected day off. Similarly, if you find the training load becoming too much, take an extra day off to recover — you’ve earned it and you will find it easier to get back into the swing after a rest. But if you get an injury or become ill, or you are forced to stop training for more than five days for some other reason, you will have to drop back at least a week in the programme (and probably more for illness or injury). Don’t get downhearted, though.


If you want a beer or a glass of wine, have one. Treat alcohol as food — lager is about 200 calories per pint, for example. But remember: if you’re getting loaded on a regular basis, you’ve got a problem which you need to get sorted out. A fit person will be able to handle a moderate booze-up occasionally, but you have to be sensible about it. Incidentally, don’t take exercise when you’re very hung-over — the chances are that you will be dehydrated which could lead to serious heat injuries. Stay in bed and promise yourself that you will never, ever do it again.


Inevitably some smokers will try to follow the programmes, and some will be able to handle them with ease Think, as you’re coughing your guts up after the session, how much easier it would be if you didn’t smoke. You may know some smart-arse Mister Fitty who piles down 40 a day and can still run a 4-minute mile, but he’s probably lying. Anyway, think how much faster he could go if he didn’t smoke.

And Finally …

Don’t become a PT hermit. Exercise shouldn’t normally take up more than an hour or so per day, including changing and showering time, so don’t let it stop you from doing other things that you enjoy. After a while, you will find that you have more energy for things like playing with the kids, or even sex, so take advantage of it. Good health and fitness should be a part of your life, but try not to let it rule your life.

STAYING SHARP injuries because, nine times out of ten, you will only make them worse, possibly doing yourself serious and permanent damage in the process. Accept the setback and resolve to fight on — remember, nobody ever said it was going to be easy!

If you have any doubts about your ability to cope with the exercise programmes described here, check first with your doctor.


IT IS ALL TOO EASY to become hung up on fitness and dieting — just look at the number of people who develop eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia. Much of this has been aided by the ‘health’ industry, which continues to advertise spurious dieting aids and fitness books which promise quick fixes. The fact is that they don’t work, but scare tactics are causing more and more people to try them. There is no point in following some trendy new health fad if you’re going to turn into a psychotic weirdo as a result — so here are a few factors to think about before you turn down the second helping of that delicious pudding and reach for the distilled water.


The quantity of exercise you take on the MMA Fit programmes will markedly raise the amount of food that you can eat without getting fat. If someone invites you out for a meal, or you fancy going out yourself, you’re not going to turn into the Michelin man. Provided you aren’t pigging out every other night, the odd big meal will do you no harm at all.

BY NOW YOU will have realized that one of the hardest parts of any fitness programme or diet is actually staying with it.

As the nights draw in and the weather gets bad, it can be all too easy to start skipping training much too often. If you do this, you won’t be able to stick with the programme, you won’t make the gains that you should be making and you may lose the will to continue — it can happen to anyone. So how to avoid this? Quite easily, in fact, and outlined below are some basic techniques which can help you beat the poor-motivation blues.

Goal Setting

The most basic motivating technique is goal setting. The reason that anyone starts a fitness programme or diet is to get fitter or lose weight. Unfortunately, both of these things take time — you cannot go from running an 8-minute mile to running a 4-minute mile overnight, just as you can’t lose 20 lb in a week. The trick is to set yourself intermediate and realistic goals.

Suppose that you are 20 lb overweight at the start of the MMA Fit programme The MMA Fit programme lasts for 16 weeks, during which you are going to take a lot of exercise and eat sensibly (without starving yourself). Sixteen weeks is a long time and, while you know that the weight is falling off you, 20 lb is a fair bit to lose. At times you will be asking yourself ‘Is it worth it?’ because the gains that you are achieving don’t seem too special against the overall target that you’ve set. The answer is to set yourself a realistic weekly target of losing I lb — which is not at all difficult and represents a much more immediate achievement.

When you get up on the first day of the programme, empty your bowels, weigh yourself and make a note of the result. Do the same thing at the same time every week and you will see how much progress you are making. After you’ve been doing this for a month, assess your level of success — you may be able to shift your target to losing 2 lb a week, or you may find that you’re not shedding weight quickly enough and need to think about your food intake. (Unless you’re pigging out on every available goodie, you should be able to lose 2 lb a week with ease.)

You can do much the same thing for running, swimming and lifting weights. Note the time it takes to run or swim a set distance, remember the weight with which you can comfortably perform 12 reps, and set a target to beat each week. It is the same as the old proverb: ‘Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.’ What’s more, it works.

Mental Visualization

The second technique is complementary to the first. All that visualization requires you to do is fantasize. When you are out running, or in the pool, or in the gym, imagine how you are going to look with no excess fat, more muscular definition and the improved posture and body shape that accompanies real fitness — not bad at all, huh? Forget the pain, because when you’ve finished the programme you really are going to look like that! Each time you push a weight in the bench press, think about your pectorals getting larger and stronger; each mile you run, think how your heart and lungs are getting more powerful, more efficient. Look at the people who aren’t training with you and remember how much they are going to want to be like you when you achieve your ultimate goal.

Having completed one or more of the programmes and achieved an improved level of physical fitness, it is essential that you don’t give in to the temptation to rest on your laurels and slide back into your old ways. With your new-found fitness, you will have a great deal more energy and ability to get things done. You will also have accustomed your body to taking a lot of exercise. But there’s no point in getting stale either — chances are that you will become bored with an endless round of gym workouts, running and swimming.

The solution is to look around for alternatives. With the full MMA Fit programme, for example, you will have achieved a level of all-round fitness that will enable you to take up a new sport or activity with ease — ease because you won’t have to worry too much about supplementary fitness training. So look around; you might decide that you’ve always wanted to play squash, or go scuba diving, or windsurfing, or climbing — all are now possible because you are fit.


IF YOU REALLY can’t spare more than half an hour a day, or you haven’t tried to take exercise since you hung up your short trousers for the last time, then this is the programme for you. The aim is to get you taking 20 minutes of exercise every day but imposing the minimum of physical strain. When you have completed the Desk Driver’s programme, you’ll be ready to graduate to the next one, the Semi-Pro.


Jogging is gentle running at a pace that you feel comfortable with. When you first start, don’t even think about going for longer than 20 minutes and try to find a circuit of about 22 miles (3-4 km) that starts and finishes at your home so you will always be within easy walking distance. If you have to stop and walk, don’t worry — it happens to all of us!

The Home Workout

You don’t need any special gear for them and you can do them all in your living-room. Start off with the instructions in the following list, but as you get fitter you should be able to perform more repetitions in each set.


3 minutes. 20 reps then I minute rest. 20 reps then 30 seconds rest. 20 reps then 30 seconds rest. 25 reps then 30 seconds rest. 20 reps then 30 seconds rest. 20 reps then 30 seconds rest. 20 reps then 30 seconds rest. 20 reps then 30 seconds rest. 20 reps then 30 seconds rest (use a sofa to support your hands and a stool or chair to support your feet). 20 reps then 30 seconds rest. 20 reps then 30 seconds rest. 25 reps then stretch off to cool down. 1 Warm-Up 2 Press-Ups 3 Crunches 4 Press-Ups S Leg Raises 6 Press-Ups 7 V-Crunches 8 Press-Ups 9 Hyperextensions 10 Tricep Dips 11 Crossover Crunches 12 Tricep Dips 13 Leg Raises

THE SEMI—PRO PROGRAMME IS designed for the person who is keen to attain a reasonable level of fitness but doesn’t have the time available to follow the full MMA Fit programme. It is a progressive programme which builds up over four weeks to a level at which you will be increasing your cardiovascular fitness and toning your muscles without having to exercise for more than 30 minutes each day (except on sport days). The completion of this programme will set you up nicely for the start of the full MMA Fit programme.


Your best bet with swimming is to start off by simply swimming lengths of the pool at a pace that you feel comfortable with, using either the breast-stroke or front crawl. As your fitness increases, consider using the swimming workouts. Don’t spend too long at the end of the pool ‘resting’ after each length!


After four weeks of the Semi-Pro programme, you will be fit enough to make a good showing in most sports. In fact, if you remember to warm up properly, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t make a balls-out effort every time you play. If you play sport for a team, consider attending a mid-week training session and substitute that for one of the workouts in the programme.

Days Off

Friday is marked as the day off to give you a chance to wind down at the end of the week and relax. If there is a more convenient day to take off, then simply shunt the programme around to accommodate it.


What to Expect

The MMA Fit programme is a 6-week training course for those who are seriously committed to getting fit. It is progressive and begins reasonably gently, so you can choose either to start from scratch or do the Desk Driver’s and Semi-Pro programmes first to get used to taking exercise. Make no mistake, the MMA Fit programme requires a lot of effort, commitment and self-discipline but the benefits for those who stick with it will be enormous. Sports you can play to vary the routine include soccer, rugby, tennis and squash.

The First Month

It is going to take you a while to accustom yourself to the exercise and it may hurt a little, but you know it’s worth it. Your first month on the MMA Fit programme is an introduction to regular physical training, but by the end of the second week you will really notice the difference. The most important thing is to take the exercises gently — an ‘easy run’ means just that. If you are training with a partner, make sure that he or she is either of the same standard as you or doesn’t mind taking it easy until you catch up.

The Second Month

By now the difference in your fitness will be visible to everyone. You will be leaner, and your body will be becoming much more ‘defined’ as you build up muscles in the pool and the gym. The second month sees the start of speed training for your legs, and by the end of the eighth week your running times will have increased enough for you to start looking for longer routes for your runs (you should be running between zo and 25 miles, or 32-4o km, a week by now). The chances are that you will also be needing more sleep — don’t fight this, as you need it to recover from the increased workload. You should also be careful to ensure that you are drinking enough water to avoid dehydration (your urine should be clear — the darker it gets, the more dehydrated you are).

At the start of the third month, we begin to try out two training sessions a day. Take this very easy at first because it may turn out to be too much for you at this stage — and, if possible, spread the exercises so that you do one set in the morning and one in the evening. By now you should be running 25-30 miles (40-48 km) per week.

The fourth month of the MMA Fit programme is designed to bring you to a plateau of all-round fitness which combines a high level of cardio-vascular endurance with a sensible degree of upper-body strength. All of the ‘two exercise’ days should be treated with a certain amount of caution — there will certainly be times when you don’t feel up to a second workout and it may be sensible to back off and leave the second exercise out altogether.


THIS article is about the kinds of food that you should, and shouldn’t, be eating. If you don’t have to cook for yourself – if, for example, you’re married and your partner cooks, you still live with your mum, or you’re a single soldier living in barracks – here is a guide to what sorts of food are good fitness fuel and what aren’t. And if you do cook, there is a complete set of fourteen days’ worth of easy recipes, together with two shopping lists and some suggestions on how to get on with the cooking.

A lot of people still feel that being able to cook properly is pretty wet, that it is a black art taught to little girls at their mother’s knee (or some other low joint) – what a load of old bollocks! There’s a saying in the army that ‘Any idiot can be uncomfortable’, meaning that if you aren’t prepared to look after yourself properly, then you have nobody to blame but yourself. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together can learn to cook some pretty good food – all you have to do is follow a recipe in a cookbook, use the correct ingredients and Bob’s your uncle! But the herehave been devised especially for people with just one brain cell sparking away on its own; they are all very healthy and they don’t take long to prepare – so give them a try.

This is not a calorie-controlled diet. There are only fourteen days’ worth of food here, and you may find yourself getting a little bored if you repeat the recipes week after week. The important thing is that you learn how to choose, prepare and eat the right sorts of food and stop eating the crap.

I have to admit that I didn’t devise any of the recipes myself. I like cooking and following recipes, but I’m not up to creating them. Instead, they were provided for me by

Caroline Mercer, a professional cook whom I’ve known for years. I asked her to come up with meals that are high in carbohydrates and fibre, low in fat, easy to cook, tasty and filling.

For each week there is a complete shopping list which covers everything on the diet for that week for one person; and when I say everything, I mean everything – like Old Mother Hubbard, I’m assuming that the cupboard is completely bare. Check the contents of your fridge and larder against the shopping list because you may well have a lot of the ingredients already. The shopping list is designed so that you will have to make only one visit to a reasonably sized supermarket each week.

There is a selection of breakfasts and lunches for you to choose from, together with instructions on how to make salads and prepare vegetables to go with the evening meals. The evening meals themselves are given after the shopping lists, and I have included an entire suggested menu for each week as a quick reference.

Finally, the equipment that you need is basic. You should easily be able to cook it all on a stove with a couple of rings, a grill and an oven. You will need a small selection of pots and pans, a sharp knife and a wooden spoon or two.

THIS IS A brief introduction to the different types of food that we eat and what their benefits are.


Carbohydrates are the most efficient source of energy for people who take a lot of exercise and the food that you eat should contain lots of them.


Apart from being a source of energy, fat is required by the body for a number of tasks, including the production of tissue and as insulation against heat and cold. Unfortunately, our normal Western diet contains too much fat and it ends up in hideous, wobbling lumps in all the wrong places. Fat should form no more than is per cent of your total food consumption, so in the long run you’re better off avoiding foods which contain concealed fats such as:

We all know what we shouldn’t be eating. There is no harm in the occasional burger and fries, but if that’s all your diet consists of then you are going to turn into a real porker!


Proteins are the basic building materials for our bodies, but like fat they shouldn’t form more than is per cent of your diet. The reason for this is that excess proteins are either eliminated from the body as urine or they are stored as fat. Most diets which include the following will supply more than enough protein for the average person’s requirements:


You should always ensure that you are drinking plenty of fluids, particularly if you are doing a fitness programme. Dehydration markedly reduces your ability to exercise and can be dangerous. The best way to gauge whether you are drinking enough water is by examining your urine. It should be clear and any discoloration could be a sign of dehydration.



One bowl of high-fibre cereal with skimmed milk and a sugar

Choose from brands such as All-Bran, Bran Flakes or Shredded Wheat.


One slice of whole-wheat toast spread with Marmite or Vegemite or a low-sugar jam or marmalade. No butter or margarine to be used. Once a week you may have a small grilled breakfast consisting of:

GUARDHOUSE GRILL 3 rashers of grilled lean back bacon 2 grilled tomatoes

Grilled mushrooms

I boiled or poached egg

I piece of fruit


Choose any of the lunches described below. You can also eat a piece of fruit or a diet yoghurt each lunch-time. Remember — no butter on your bread.

MIDDAY MUNCHES 1 I boiled egg with 2 slices of whole-wheat toast. 2 A whole-wheat sandwich made from 2 slices of bread with 2 slices of lean ham or beef, some lettuce and some low-calorie mayonnaise. 3 Tuna fish salad made with a small can of tuna in brine, drained, with a quarter of a cucumber sliced, 2 tomatoes, shredded lettuce and low-calorie mayonnaise. 4 A whole-wheat sandwich made with 2 slices of bread (dry), half a sliced chicken breast with the fat and skin removed, low-calorie mayonnaise, shredded lettuce and salt and pepper 5 Jacket potato with a) low-fat pineapple cottage cheese and a small salad, or b) I slice of chopped lean ham, I teaspoon of mustard, I teaspoon of low-calorie mayonnaise and a small salad, or c) low-fat grated cheese with a handful of chopped chives and a small salad. 6 6 Ryvitas or similar spread with low-calorie mayonnaise or oil-free dressing, and either 2 slices of lean meat with shredded lettuce and sliced tomato, or half a sliced chicken breast (the fat and skin removed) with shredded lettuce and sliced tomato. 7 1 piece of cold, cooked chicken (the fat and skin removed) with a mixed salad, 8 2 slices of dry whole-wheat toast with I small can of baked beans, warmed through. 9 2 slices of dry whole-wheat toast with I small can of tuna in brine, drained. 10 Mixed vegetable salad made with row broccoli, cauliflower, mixed peppers, cucumber tomato and mushrooms. Use oil-free dressing. 11 An omelette made with chopped vegetables and herbs, not cheese. Use 2 eggs. You should not eat this lunch more than once a week.

Steaming Any combination of vegetables will do, but vary the mixture so that you do not become bored. Peel and chop the vegetables as appropriate and place them in a sieve over a pan of boiling water, or in a steamer. Cover with a lid and boil until they are just tender but not soft. Keep an eye on the pan to ensure that it does not boil dry.


Cooking Methods


This is not recommended, as Dioralyte is a medicine and should only be used under trained medical supervision.

In a lot of health food and specialist sports stores, you will see shelves weighed down with various types of food supplements, drinks and pills aimed at sportsmen and women, body-builders and so on. Most of these promise some vague improvement in performance to the person who is prepared to shell out the high prices that are demanded of them. With a few exceptions, these claims are bogus or nearly so, because you can obtain exactly the same benefits by eating foods containing the same substances at ,a much lower cost and with much better taste.

Food and fluid supplements are useful in certain circumstances, however, as follows: Fluid Replacement Drinks

There are an increasing number of special drinks on the market that are designed to help replace the water and minerals that you lose during exercise. Among the better known brands are Gatorade, Isostar, Lucozade Sport and Dexters. These taste pretty good and, if they do actually replace fluid more quickly than drinking straight water, may be of some benefit. Even so, they are expensive and the benefits are marginal — I only drink them because I like the taste! Some people drink Dioralyte, which is a preparation designed for patients suffering dehydration as a consequence of diarrhoea.

Even if supplements do work, they will only do so in conjunction with exercise. Many people have abused anabolic steroids in the mistaken belief that they will build muscles without effort, but this is not the case — and the same is true for ‘legal supplements. If food supplements work at all, it is simply by giving a slight edge over those who are training as hard but without the supplement

Vitamin Supplements

You can buy all kinds of vitamin supplements from pharmacies, health-food stores and supermarkets, but if you eat a properly balanced diet there is no need to. I would consider taking some multivitamin pills if I was going to be away from home for a while, and thus not sure whether I would be eating properly, but not otherwise. The quantities of vitamins that your body needs are fairly small and you will get all of them from the diet described here. Excess vitamins are, generally speaking, excreted in your urine — almost literally pouring your money down the drain!

Protein Supplements

You are not likely to require protein supplements for the same reason that you don’t need vitamin supplements — you will get more than enough from a healthy, balanced diet. Excess protein goes the same way that excess vitamins do — down the drain. It is possible that protein supplements help body-builders (though not as much as a couple of years in psychoanalysis would), but even they should be able to get all they need from protein-rich foods.


INTERVAL TRAINING is a method of gaining speed and leg strength without having to use weight-training equipment. A proper interval workout will leave you a quivering, sweat-soaked mess, but the gains that you make are quite extraordinary. All you need to wear is your normal running kit and the only other requirement is somewhere to run.

The principle behind interval training is that you exercise hard, then recover just enough to repeat the exercise, over and over again during a relatively short period. To get the best results, the distance that you run should remain consistent and, consequently, athletes generally do interval sessions on a proper running track. This is by no means essential, because you can get equally good results running around the outside of a football or rugby pitch, or along a path where trees or lamp-posts are evenly spaced.

The First Interval Session

For your first interval session, try running 8 x too metres. This means that you will be sprinting for too metres exactly 8 times, with a measured rest period between each sprint. If you are using a running track it will be divided into four quarters of too metres each; if you are using a football pitch it will be about zoo metres long; while on a path or road select two objects that are too metres apart. All you have to do is this: once you have warmed up, go to the start of your first too-metre stretch and sprint, at too per cent effort, to the end of the leg. Now jog the next too metres, taking not more than 6o seconds, sprint the next ‘co and so on, until you have completed 8 sprints and 8 jogs. It sounds easy, but by the end of the session you will be wishing that you’d taken up knitting instead.

Building Up

As your fitness improves, you will be able to handle a much greater workload during interval sessions and you can experiment with much greater distances. For example, middle-and long-distance runners will often run intervals sets of a mile or more, repeated perhaps ten times as part of their training. While this is unnecessary for most people, a session of 8 x 400 metres is certainly worth a try.


Interval running is usually done at 100 per cent, but this doesn’t mean that you have to sprint at the same speed for 400 metres as you would over ioo metres. Use a speed appropriate for the distance that you’ve got to travel, but remember that you’ll be able to go faster and faster as the weeks go by.


Interval training helps you make large improvements to your fitness, but it takes a lot out of you. Don’t try to do more than one interval session a week at first and never do more than two unless you are training for something very speed-specific.

Speed WorkOuts take much more out of you th4n:normal running. If you find that you aren’t recOviaring from them quickly enough, shift your speed workout day so that it falls before a day off training. As you become stronger you wilt be more able to cope with kin the midst of your normal training.


FARTLEK IS A SWEDISH word meaning ‘speed play’, but fartlek running is a training technique that sits in between interval training and normal running as a means of building up leg strength. Once again, it requires no special equipment other than normal running gear and a place to run.

Fartlek Technique

A fartlek workout is normally done over your usual running routes. The technique consists of little more than constant changes of pace, combined, if possible, with running up and down a few hills. Typically, you might run the first mile at a fairly easy pace before moving up to 8o per cent of full effort for two minutes, then a jog for a minute, then Rio per cent effort for a minute, then 30 seconds of walking and so on. In this way, an aerobic run is combined with a strength session.

Messing Around

You need to make a plan before you start a fartlek session because it’s very easy to end up doing 90 per cent of the session at a gentle jog with a couple of sprints thrown in. Either exercise some self-discipline or run with a partner or in a small group — probably the most enjoyable way to do a

You an simplify fartlek workout by imposing some rules on yourself Finct’an undulating course and after you’ve joxed-for lC rnlnt.ites or so to warm up, run at normal pace on the flat, at 80 per cent effort on long hills, effort on short hills and jog the downhill stretches’. You should find-that this balinces itself out and removes the requirement for all that ompltated thinking. , fartlek session anyway. The best location for fartlek running is the countryside, or in a park or golf-course (if you can get permission), where you have a variety of different surfaces to run on, together with hills, trees, fresh air and all the rest of it. Lovely!


MULTIGYM, UNIVERSAL, NAUTILUS and all the other fitness machines have proved, by and large, to be a great help to those in search of fitness. A lot of the effort involved in shifting dumb-bells and bar-bells around is expended in balancing and controlling them. This may contribute to muscle growth for body-builders and the like, but the downside is that free weights are considerably more dangerous than a machine. If you get into trouble bench-pressing on a fitness machine, the weight is unlikely to fall on you – whereas with a free weight that could just happen.

Using Machines

It is not possible to give a detailed workout programme because fitness machines vary so much, but using a machine is the same as doing any other kind of weights exercise. The gains that you make are governed entirely by the number of repetitions that you do, the amount of weight that you shift on each repetition and the number of sets that you manage.

Designing a Circuit

There are, essentially, two types of fitness machine: integrated multi-exercise machines of the multigym kind, and specialized single-exercise machines. On a multigym, you can perform one exercise or more at each ‘station’, and the machines are generally designed so that you can start anywhere and then go to every station in turn, performing as many reps as you need. This also means that more than one person can use the machine at the same time. You can train like that, and many people do, but you may not get the best results. It is now quite widely accepted that you will achieve the best results by training each part of your body in turn, doing several different exercises for each part. Multi-exercise machines don’t really encourage you to do this. To get the maximum effect from them, don’t be fooled into doing a straight circuit – pick and choose from the menu of exercises on offer.

The sequence for a weight-training circuit is Chest, Shoulders, Back, Arms, Legs, Abdominals.

Exercise Number of Reps The Aim Nobody does super circuits for building muscle bulk, but what you should expect to achieve is an increase in both local muscular and cardio-vascular endurance. Consequently, the weights that you lift should be lighter than you would normally go for and you should try to do far more repetitions. You are normally helped in this by the fact that the sessions are done to music and divided up into sections about a minute long. You alternate between using a weight and bouncing about doing some aerobic exercise, trying to pack as many reps as possible into a minute.


A word of warning about group super circuits. Anyone can go to them! This can mean that some terrifying-looking people dressed up in lurex will be wobbling around. Don’t fall into this trap yourself – if you’re a bit overweight, wear a bulky T-shirt and a pair of shorts. You’ll look a lot better and you will be a whole lot more comfortable.


You will find ‘super circuits’ in one form or another at most sports centres and gyms. Super circuits are, normally, an organized group session which combines the best aspects of aerobics with weight exercises in a fun format with some loud music thrown in. All the super circuits that I’ve been to have included a good warm-up at the start and, just as importantly, an organized warm down afterwards. Even better news is that some sports centres have bars where you can have a beer or two after the session, safe in the knowledge that it isn’t going to go straight to your waistline.



An alternative to running, which also uses the big leg muscles, is cycling. Its main benefit in comparison to running is that, like swimming, it is largely impact-free. This helps reduce your chances of getting injured. On the other hand, cycling does very little for the muscles of the upper body, can be dangerous (you can’t easily fall off a swimming pool) and requires you to lash out a lot of dosh on a decent bike. As with all aerobic exercises, you need to get your heart rate into the training range for at least half an hour to make it worthwhile. Thiscan be difficult in a town because of traffic. Ideally, your cycle route should consist of a country road or park with plenty of hills to help build up leg strength — or you can go to a gym and use an exercise bike with variable resistance.

Cycling Rhythm

The rhythm that you should aim to achieve while cycling is about 8o turns of the pedal per minute. If your bike has gears, this will probably mean that you can’t use your top gears except when going down hills (using the top gear on flat stirfaces increases strain on the knee joints by a considerable amount and can cause injury). The best way of judging if you are at the right speed or not is as follows: if your legs become tired before you get out of breath, you are in too high a gear and are using your leg muscles too much, whereas if you get out of breath but your legs remain strong, your gears are too low.


The only difference between walking a distance and running it, I have been told, is the time it takes you to do it. In terms of energy used and muscle strength gained, this may well be so, though I doubt if there is a direct comparison in cardiovascular improvement. If you are training for SAS selection, you are going to have to get used to a lot of walking, over hills and carrying a rucksack, but that is different from the exercise walking advocated by a number of gurus nowadays. Personally, I find it hard to take seriously the sight of grown men and women striding round my local park wearing lurex tights and determined expressions. There is no doubt that walking improves your fitness, but by nothing like the factor that you will achieve by running, swimming or cycling.


Like walking, aerobics — of the kind practised at lunch-time classes — undoubtedly makes you feel better. As a form of exercise, however, it is going to leave you a long way off the standards you’ll reach on a MMA Fit programme. Don’t neglect it altogether, though, as the most enjoyable aerobic exercise of all is good old bonking. It would be extremely difficult to get your heart rate into the training range for a full 30 minutes, but you can have a lot of fun trying. I would suggest using the more athletic positions, possibly in a hammock, to give yourself the best shot at it (warning: don’t let your partner catch you measuring your heart rate during sex as this may seriously damage your health).


THE GREAT ADVANTAGE of swimming over most other forms of aerobic exercise is that it places demands on all parts of the body, not just on the heart and lungs. Not only does swimming increase your endurance, it also acts as a superb conditioner for the upper body. At the same time, because water supports your body, there is very little stress on your bones and joints which means that injuries are rare. If you are looking to do P-Company, the Commando course or SAS selection, you should consider swimming as a supplement to running because you won’t pass the courses without the leg strength that running provides. On the other hand, if you are simply trying to improve your fitness and you don’t like running, swimming can be substituted minute for minute.

Swimming Equipment

All you need for swimming is a costume and a pool. If your eyes are sensitive or you wear contact lenses, you should consider investing in a pair of goggles. I haven’t got any great preferences for swimming cossies, though I imagine that those which are specially made for swimming races are probably pretty good — they certainly show off your package if you like that sort of thing.

The Basics

If you can’t swim, you will have real difficulty learning from a book. Your best course of action will be to head off to your local pool and book yourself some lessons — I’ve yet to visit a pool where there isn’t an instructor — which will enable you to start with some confidence. The two strokes that you will need to know are the front crawl and breast-stroke; other strokes are useful but they are only the icing on the cake. Once you learn how to swim, you never forget — it’s like knowing how to walk.

How Far and How Fast?

My own swimming workouts tend to be fairly unimaginative, because I use swimming as a supplementary exercise to running and gym work. Normally I just swim continuously up and down the pool for 30 minutes or so, usually doing breast-stroke, sometimes alternating breast-stroke with front crawl. If you have similar limited aims in mind, and can stand the boredom, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do the same — it’s a perfectly good way of exercising. There are some far more interesting swimming workouts, however, and these are outlined below. A point to note is that your training heart rate is likely to be about 15 to 20 beats per minute slower than when taking other forms of exercise, because, being horizontal, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard getting the blood around your body.

Pyramid Swimming

An excellent way of building up endurance is by swimming ‘pyramids’. An example of this might be a ‘5’ in which you swim I length, followed by a set rest period (say, 20 seconds), then 2 lengths with the same rest period and so on up to 5, then down again to r. In total this comes to 25 lengths which in a 25-metre pool is 625 metres, a bit more than a third of a mile. Swimming an ‘8’ in a 25-metre pool (I—z-3-4-5-67 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 I) adds up to 1,600 metres, about a mile. An advantage of this workout is that the short rest periods help you to maintain your speed without letting your heart rate drop out of the training range.

Interval Swims

Interval swimming not only builds endurance but helps with speed as well. Interval training comprises a timed swim alternated with a timed rest. Once you have gained confidence as a swimmer, start to time yourself to see how quickly you can do certain distances. You may find that you can do too metres in 4 minutes; if so, try intervals of 4 minutes 30 seconds — this means that you give yourself four and a half minutes to swim too metres and take a rest before doing the next too metres. Put the intervals into sets of 4 (4 x too metres) and build up the number of sets that you can do, awarding yourself a couple of minutes’ rest between each set. As the weeks go by, your times will start to improve, giving you more rest between each interval; when this happens, shorten your time allowance — remember, you don’t want your heart rate to drop out of the training range.

Eating and Drinking

When I was a kid I was told that if I ate before I went swimming I would get stomach cramps and drown. This has been tested scientifically and is a load of old bollocks. Having said that, it isn’t ever comfortable to exercise on a full stomach, so avoid eating much for an hour or two before swimming. However, it is worth drinking some water both before and after swimming — the reason being that you sweat just as much as when you are taking other forms of exercise, only you don’t notice it. A glass or two of water, or some other soft drink, will prevent dehydration.


THERE ARE NO two ways about it, anyone who wants to join the SAS or Paras is going to end up running many miles, both in training and on the courses themselves. And since the mid-197os, when the fitness boom began, running has become the premier activity for aspiring fitties everywhere.

The reasons are simple: running is a very efficient way of getting fit, it’s easy and cheap, and it’s flexible.

The Pluses

Running is a straightforward aerobic exercise. As you pound along you raise your heart rate, increase your oxygen intake and heighten the flow of blood to the parts of your body being used, with all the benefits that this creates. You also increase the rate at which you use the energy which is stored in your body and start to draw upon your reserves of fat (which is why you lose weight). Finally, running strengthens the muscles of your legs and back, and it helps to build up your joints.

The Minuses

Disadvantages to running are few. If you are in good health, the only difficulty that you are likely to encounter is the normal wear and tear that running imposes on your body. This can include blisters, muscle strains and slightly more serious conditions like shin splints, stress fractures and joint damage. In fairness, these are more often than not caused by poor running form, obesity, and trying to do too much too soon.

Running Style and Form

The human body is designed for running and anyone in normal health can do it. Unfortunately, though, it is easy to get into bad habits and these can cause problems. So, if you are taking up running after years of inactivity, or just want to make a fresh start, here are some pointers on style and form.


Your posture when you run should be upright but relaxed, perhaps leaning slightly forwards. If you lean too far forward, you have to work harder to stay upright; lean too far back, on the other hand, and you exert a braking effect on your movements.

Arm Action

What you do with your arms when you run is nearly as important as how you use your legs. Look at a sprinter like Linford Christie; he has massively developed arms and shoulders which he uses to help propel himself forward. When you run, you should try to ensure that your arms are relaxed; they should stay between your waistline and your chest. If you let them swing around too loosely, the rest of your upper body will follow and you will lose forward momentum — and the same thing will happen if you hold your arms too rigidly.


There is a lot of debate among runners about footstrike, mainly because some of the best long-distance athletes use the ‘wrong’ sort. The most comfortable and efficient foot-strike that the average runner can adopt is to go ‘heel-ball’. This means that you hit the ground with the outside edge of your heel, pivot through your foot and take off for the next step from the ball of your foot. Some people seem to slap along on their feet, making a hell of a racket, and in my experience these are the ones who get joint and bone injuries. If you find that you’re running too heavily, you will have to make a very conscious effort to correct yourself.


How far should you run in a session and how fast? Very good questions, because it is all too easy to settle into a groove of doing too little, or even too much, and so miss the full benefit of the training time and the commitment that you are making. So much depends on your level of fitness, build and innumerable other factors. The clever answer is that you should be running hard enough to get your heart rate into the aerobic training range (between 65 and 75 per cent of your maximum) for at least 30 minutes, at least three times per week — which is fine if you’re just looking for a steady improvement in aerobic fitness over the long term. However, by varying the sort of running that you do, the distances that you cover and the intensity at which you run them, you can improve far more quickly than by grinding out the same distances in the same times day after day.

The MMA Fit Runs

For the MMA Fit programmes we will be using three different types of run: a short, faster session, a medium-distance ‘basic’ run and a long, slow endurance-builder. How far and how fast you should go depends on how fit you are, so the following are guidelines only. Once you start training in earnest, you will gain a feel for exactly how much value you get from each workout and thus be able to judge the intensity at which you should run.

Running for Time

It always annoys me to hear some racing-snake yammering on about how he’s just completed a 12-miler, or about the 6o miles he did last week — I will never be a great long-distance runner and I find it disheartening to be compared to someone who is. The answer is to measure your runs in terms of time, not distance. There are two advantages in this: first, you won’t become hung up about mileages (which can push you into over-training) and, secondly, you maintain a consistency of quality because as you become fitter and faster, thus covering particular distances more quickly, you are nonetheless running for the same time and so will go farther. If you restrict yourself to covering set distances, it is all too easy to succumb to the temptation of staying with a particular route for too long, so that a 6-mile run which started off taking you, say, 45 minutes can easily end up lasting only 38, thereby knocking 7 minutes of quality training out of your programme.

The Short Fast Run

The shortest basic run you will do in the MMA Fit programmes is for 30 minutes. You would do a maximum of two of these per week, on a day when you might be taking some other form of exercise. The pace should be fast: if you run this workout with a partner, you shouldn’t be able to talk to him (or her), but nor should you be sprinting. For me, the pace of a run like this is about 6 minutes per mile — but you may well want to go faster or slower. Don’t get up to full pace until you’ve been running for about 5 or 6 minutes or you will go into oxygen debt and ‘tie up’.

The Basic Run

The standard run lasts for 45 minutes at a comfortable, steady pace. Running with a friend, you should be able to talk to each other, but only just — don’t expect to be able to hold a symposium on Aristotelian metaphysics during this workout. My average pace for this run is about 7 minutes per mile on a good day, but you can slow things down slightly and take on a few gentle hills if you have any available.

The Endurance Builder

The last of the three basic runs is the Endurance Builder. This is 90 minutes of slow, gentle jogging at a pace where you could hold a comfortable conversation with a running partner. You might well only do this run once a fortnight, moving to once a week as you get fitter, because, although it is slow, you will certainly feel it afterwards.



Roll your shoulders forwards as if shrugging, then do the same thing backwards. Hold your arms out to your sides at shoulder height, and then gently ease your elbows back as far as they will go, as if you were trying to make them touch behind your back.

BEFORE YOU START taking exercise of any sort, it is absolutely vital that you .warm yourself up properly, stretching off the major muscles that you’re going to use and raising your heart rate. If you don’t, the chances are that you will end up with cramps, pulled or torn muscles and even stress fractures. Similarly, you should always warm down after each session, which allows your muscles to contract more gently. The following routine will get you ready for any of the exercises or workouts described in MMA Fit. Always do it at the start of your workouts and at the end. And even after you’ve warmed up, always start exercising gently and build up gradually to full pace. Remember: if you get injured, you won’t be able to train at all.

Head and Neck –

Start your warm-up by gently rotating your head from side to side then nod backwards and forwards — build up the movement until you are gently stretching as far as you can go.


With your arms held out to your sides at shoulder height, rotate your entire upper body to the left and then to the right, as far as you can comfortably go. Put your hands on your hips and rotate your entire pelvic area to the left and right, as if making an obscene gesture.


Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Without locking your knees, now try to touch the ground in front of, between and behind your feet with your fingertips. Don’t force yourself if you can’t quite manage it. Next, stand on one leg, grasp the opposite ankle in your hand and try to pull it up behind you so that your heel pushes into your buttock, then swop over and repeat the exercise with the other leg. … And Finally

Gently jog around for a couple of minutes, stretching any muscles that feel stiff or tight. Remember to start exercising at an easy pace and, if any muscles feel sore, back off and stretch before trying to work them again.

THE FOLLOWING show you the basic strength exercises that you will be using for the MMA Fit programmes. Half of them require no special equipment, but the rest require the use of weights or a `multigyrn’ which automatically introduces an element of risk. Don’t start the exercises until you know what you are doing! If you are not already familiar with weight-training equipment, then get someone who is to show you what to do.

Getting Started

Some of the exercises which follow don’t require any extra. Gear, but others do. If you want to go the whole hog and become super fighting fit, you’re inevitably going to have to use a gym, but in fact all you really need is a rnultigym machine or similar — anything else is a bonus. The army, not surprisingly, have a lot of weight-training gear and I’ve never yet been to an army base which didn’t have, at least, a multigym. If you don’t have access to a gym in this way, there may well be a sports centre near you with a gym or ‘conditioning room’ where you can use good-quality equipment wider professional supervision.

Grunting Poseurs

The downside of using gyms is that they are often filled with obscenely over-developed body-builders, grunting, sweating and mooching around in hideously revealing clothes, admiring themselves in the mirrors. Although these sad, ‘sideshow freaks think that they own any gym they spend more than ten minutes in, they are normally quite harmless and spend most of their time thinking about the next deliciously nutritious glass of raw egg and carrot purée.

Gear for Weight Training

A T-shirt, shorts and running shoes are perfectly adequate clothing for weight training. You may find that a pair of weight-training gloves helps to prevent callouses and blisters on your hands, and some people use a wide belt to support their back during workouts. That’s all you need — but just read through any fitness magazine to see how the bullshit piles up to neck height when someone is trying to sell you workout clothes.

Alternative Weights

If you don’t have weights at home, or access to a multigym, there are a number of alternatives that you can experiment with. Instead of dumb-bells you could try using books, baked bean tins or house bricks; as an alternative to a bar-bell try a suitably weighted sports bag, or even a strong broomstick with weighted containers attached to the ends. If you do use alternative weights, you must ensure that all of the components are very securely attached to prevent them from falling on you and that the weights are not going to shift about inside their containers as you use them, which might throw you off balance. 1 Press-Ups

Anyone can do these. At home, in the office, in the bus queue — you can do press-ups anywhere and there are few better ways of improving the chest and arms. Lie face down on the ground, put the palms of your hands flat on the ground underneath your shoulders, stiffen your back and legs, and raise your body up, pivoting on your toes. Keep your back straight throughout the exercise and do it slowly and deliberately. 2 Bench Press

You need a multigym or a bar-bell, loaded with a weight that you can comfortably bench-press 12 times, and a bench to lie on. Lie on your back on the bench with your shoulders directly underneath the weights, ensuring that your back remains flat on the bench by lifting your feet off the ground and crossing your legs. Grip the bar (or handles on a multigym) with your hands shoulder-width apart and push it slowly and deliberately to the furthest extent of your arms, then slowly lower it back again. Do it 20 times (yes, I said 2o).


You need two parallel bars about 2 ft (60 cm) apart and about 4 ft (1.2 m) off the ground, though the backs of two sturdy chairs would do just as well. Stand between the bars, grip one with each hand and lift yourself off the ground until your arms lock straight. Cross your legs and raise your feet to keep them out of the way. Now, lower yourself until your upper arms are parallel with the bars, then raise yourself up and lock your arms straight again — try to do 20 of these (they are very difficult at first). 4 Lateral Raise

Lie flat on a bench holding two equally weighted dumbbells, one in each hand, together above your chest. With your elbows slightly bent, lower them to your sides, then raise them again to the starting position. Use a weight that allows you to do about 20 repetitions (reps). 5 Pullovers

You can do these with either a bar-bell or two equally weighted dumb-bells. Lie on a narrow, flat bench holding the weight at arm’s length above your chest, then, keeping your arms straight, lower the weight(s) behind your head while breathing in. Finally, bring the weight back to the starting position as you exhale. Use a weight which allows you to do 12 reps comfortably — but do 20.


You need a bar to hang from about 6 ft 6 in (2 m) off the ground. Grip the bar with your hands slightly more than shoulder-width apart, and hang from it with your legs crossed and your feet tucked behind you. Slowly and deliberately raise yourself until you can touch the bar with the bridge of your nose, then slowly lower yourself down again. Build up to being able to do this in sets of 12 reps (like dips, these are very difficult at first). 8 Bent Over Rowing

You need either a bar-bell or two equally weighted dumbbells for this. With your feet shoulder-width apart, bend over and grip the weight(s). Stay bent over while pulling the weight to your waist, then lower back to the ground. Use a weight that allows you to do sets of 12. 7 Hyperextensions

Lie face down on the floor with your hands behind your head, then raise your chest and shoulders as far as you can off the floor and lower them again — you should be able to do sets of at least 30 of these. Avoid hooking your feet under any stationary object as you will end up training your legs more than your back. 9 The Good Morning Exercise

God knows why it’s called this. Hold a bar-bell across your shoulders while standing up straight, then bend forward from the waist until your body is parallel to the floor Finish by straightening again, using the muscles in the small of your back. Use a weight that allows you to do sets of 12.

SHOULDERS 10 Shoulder Press

This exercise is best done on a multigym in the seated position with your back supported, but it can just as easily be performed standing with a bar-bell. Hold the weight-bar in position at the back of the neck with your hands slightly more than shoulder-width apart, then slowly and deliberately push the bar directly upwards before lowering it again. Do sets of 12 reps. 12 Side Lateral Raise

Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding an equally weighted dumb-bell in each hand at your waist. Keeping your arms straight, simultaneously raise the dumbbells away from your body to shoulder height, then lower. Do sets of i2. 13 Bent Lateral Raise

This is the same as the last exercise, the side lateral raise, except that you bend forwards and lift the weights from a position below you rather than at your sides. Do sets of I2.

Dumb-Bell Press

Stand with your back straight and your feet shoulder-width apart, holding an equally weighted dumb-bell at each shoulder. Alternately raise each one above your head. Do IS in each set. Easy, isn’t it?

ARMS 14 Curls

Hold a bar-bell, or the curling bar from a multigym, at your waist, with your elbows locked in to your sides. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and your back straight, then ‘curl’ the bar up to your shoulders and back again. Do 20 reps in a set. 15 Tricep Dips

You need two stable benches about 4 ft (1.2 m) apart. Adopt a sitting position with your feet on one bench and your bum on the other. Take your weight on your hands and slide your body forward so that your bottom is clear to drop below the level of the bench. Lower yourself until your upper arms are parallel to the ground, then straighten them. Do this in sets of 20. 16 Concentration Curls

Sit on a bench with .a single dumb-bell clutched in one hand.

Rest your elbow on your leg, keeping the other arm out of the way, and slowly curl the dumb-bell to your shoulder, then slowly lower it. Do this in sets of 12. 17 Press Downs

These can only easily be done on a multigym or similar machine which has a bar for pulling down. Stand in front of the machine with the bar clasped in both hands in front of your chest and your elbows locked, as far as possible, into your sides. Press the bar down, using only your arm muscles, until your arms are straight in front of you, then allow the bar to rise to its starting position. Do 15 reps in each set.


Note: When doing exercises for the abs you should always avoid locking your feet under anything. Doing this makes the exercise easier, but your legs do all the work and you put normal crunches, but bring your knees up as well and touch unnecessary strain on the lower back. Your knees to your elbows. Do sets of 25. 18 Crunches

Lie on your back with your legs bent, your feet flat on the floor and your hands behind your head. Raise your upper body as if trying to touch your knees with your elbows. When you have ‘crunched’ up as far as you can, pause before lowering your body down. The movement is not as large as for a traditional ‘sit-up’ but it is far better for you. 19 Leg Raises

Lie flat on your back with your hands under your bum. Keeping your legs straight and pointing your toes daintily, raise your feet 6 in (15 cm) off the ground. This is the start position. Now raise your feet from 6 to about 18 in (45 cm) off the ground, then back to 6 again. Keep your feet off the ground throughout the exercise and do 30 in a set. 20 V-Crunches

Lie on your back with your hands behind your head and your knees slightly bent. Crunch your upper body as for 21 Seated Leg Push

Ideally you should be sitting on the edge of a bench, but you can do these on the floor as well. Sit upright with your hands, supporting you next to your bottom. To perform the exercise, bring your knees to your chest then straighten your legs out, but without allowing your feet to touch the ground throughout the set. Try to do 35-40 in a set. 22 Crossover Crunches

These are performed as for V-Crunches, but alternately touching your right elbow to your left knee and vice versa. Do them in sets of 20.


The 22 exercises described here are basic but highly beneficial. If you are unsure how to do any of them, ask an instructor at your gym to show you. If you feel severe pain at any stage while doing them, stop immediately — you may have pulled a muscle or worse. In any event, don’t try any of them until you are sure you know what you are doing.


Concentrating only on cardio-vascular exercise would probably leave you thin and very wiry; in other words, fit and healthy but not in a position to take on the rigours of SAS selection or P-Company where you have to carry heavy weights about.

THE EXERCISES DESCRIBED in MMA Fit fall into two groups. Cardio-vascular exercises — the first group — build endurance by making your heart, lungs and circulation more efficient and adaptable. The second group, power exercises, build strength in individual muscles and muscle groups

Aerobic and Anaerobic

You build up endurance by using aerobic cardiovascular exercises. Aerobic means ‘with air’ — you exercise using the air you are taking in through your lungs. ‘Anaerobic’ exercises, on the other hand, like sprinting, only use the small amount of oxygen that is stored in your muscles. Typical aerobic exercises include running, swimming, cycling, walking, rowing and cross-country skiing; the sort of ‘aerobics’ practised at sports centres and gyms has only a nodding acquaintance with fitness training, though undoubtedly it makes you feel better.

The aim of aerobic exercises is to raise your heart rate into the training range where the ‘overload principle’ comes into effect. If you can maintain your heart at that rate for about 30 minutes, your body will ‘realize’ that your heart has been overloaded and it will compensate by building extra muscle in the heart and improving your circulatory system to allow you to do it again. The next time you take that form of exercise, you should find it marginally easier, because your body will have adapted towards being able to do it.

Power Training

The missing ingredient is power training. Cardiovascular work will improve your heart and lungs, but only power training builds the sheer strength and physical toughness that goes with being truly fit.

Arnie Schwal7enegger is an excellent example of the results of an enormous amount of power training (and, alas, some steroid abuse when he was younger). His incredible physique has been developed to the upper limits by the careful use of weight-training routines designed to maximize muscle bulk (and therefore strength), combined with a diet formulated to assist the process. Not that Schwarzenegger would be likely to pass SAS selection; watch him try to run in any of his films, and you will soon see that his physique hampers the movement of his legs. Having trained his body for strength and bulk, Schwarzenegger is not built for endurance — although I imagine that he would be very fast over short distances because of his immense muscle power.

Achieving a Balance

A soldier who turned up for SAS selection or P-Company without having achieved the right balance between power and endurance would be in for a lot of heartache. Without the cardio-vascular endurance to run for io miles or march for 40, he’s. Not going to make it; but without the strength in his back and shoulders, he’s not going to be able to carry the loads. In normal life as well, sticking to one form of exercise is unsatisfactory. You will always get more benefit from a balanced, all-round programme if you wish to achieve a better level of health and fitness.

Ideal Training Gear At Minimal Cost

ONE OF THE GREAT JOYS of real fitness-training is that it needn’t cost very much money; in fact, you’ve probably already got most, if not all, the kit that you need. If what you have is too clapped out, and you want to stock up, this is what you will need:


A good pair of running shoes is essential in order to prevent blisters, callouses, bunions and other more serious injuries to your feet and legs. The best shoes will keep your feet stable as’you run, provide enough cushioning for even the heaviest runner and have gripping soles which will prevent you from falling on most surfaces. I have used shoes by Nike, New Balance and Hi-Tec which are all excellent, but many other makes are equally as good. The best place to buy running shoes is in a specialist running store rather than a general sports or shoe store, as the sales staff will usually know more about what they are selling.


The best sort of socks are made from loop-stitched wool/nylon mix: These feel a little like towelling and are very comfortable on the feet. You can get them just about anywhere where socks are sold.


An ideal running top should keep you warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s warm and not interfere with your move- ment at all. Unfortunately a top like this has yet to be invented, so make do with a T-shirt or vest instead and a sweatshirt for when the weather is cold. Among the SAS and Paras, Helly-Hansen Ufa’ thermal vests have become very popular and they do stay quite warm when wet.


At present, running shorts can be found in two distinct styles: traditional shorts or the skin-tight ‘cyclist’ type. I prefer the traditional shorts because I don’t much like the idea of innocent passers-by being able to count every wrinkle on my package as I jog towards them. Even so, cycling shorts do help to prevent chafing on your thighs which can be eyewateringly painful.

Sports Bra

I’m reliably informed that sports bras make life considerably more comfortable for women taking exercise. The ‘Minimal Bounce’ brand is highly recommended. Who am I to argue? Basic Extras

There are a few little extras which don’t cost much but can be useful. A jar of petroleum jelly is essential to help prevent chafing, blisters on toes and ‘jogger’s nipple’. If you’ve got long hair then wear a headband to keep it out of your eyes, and sweatbands on your wrists are also useful.

Finally, if you’ve got enough money, consider investing in a sports Walkman. These are water-resistant, they can play while you’re running and they are great for staving off boredom — whether you listen to the B-52s, Bach or a teachyourself-Burmese tape.