Fitness - Q and A's

Fitness - Q and A's


So I'm looking to make some real changes in my life in terms of my health and fitness. I recently gave up on playing rugby because I was out of shape and was unable to keep up with play. I've also been blessed with a baby girl recently which although is amazing is seriously impacting my diet! I've been wondering if you had any training and nutrition plans that would help me get into shape with the ultimate goal of playing some more rugby. I could do this as a video blog for your website/YouTube channel. About me: James Pounder, 28, Married, Works Full Time, 5' 11", 18st (ish).

James Pounder

Thank you for the email. We have the perfect thing for you. A 12 week muscle building program “The Lean Gains Bodybuilding guide” It comes with all the training and nutrition advice you need. You can also go a step further and have the food delivered to your door from a company called Fresh Fitness Foods.

Here is the link.

Let me know your thoughts


How much creatine do you load with and how often (daily)? You're a big guy so was wondering if the add more? Cheers James

Ben Searle

I don't use a lot of supplements. I use my Hades (pre trainer) fish oils,  When I am on England duty I take 10mg of creatine every day, as it's provided. When I am with wasps I don't take it as much. It all depends what you are using it for. I never load with it. I just take it for a prolonged period, then come off it for a period, then go back onto it.


Morning Hask!! Great fan of your work! Any tips on good fat burning Wattbike sessions? Been on it quite a lot but getting bored quite quickly. Also, any thoughts on smith machines? Cheers

Peter Robbins

We have loads of fitness sessions and idea on our youtube channel I have also written a new ebook that covers of fat loss and HIIT training. Its on my website In my opinion watt bike is boring as hell if you just do that. Try doing 20 seconds sprint, hop off, do 10 press ups and 10 bodyweight squats and then jump back on.


Any chance you could make a video on just speed? As Sir Clive says Speed is what you need to be successful these days.

Question from YouTube

Sir clive has been saying a lot of things lately. I will try to get Christian wade in the mix to do a speed video for my youtube channel. What you need to be successful these days, is good skills, agressions, and fitness. If you want to know about all this then check out my ebook. It covers everything you need to be successful at rugby.


Hiya James I know this is a long shot but I'm a huge fan of yourself and a love playing rugby. I would like to know what would be the best way of stripping weight down

s Dakin

If you want to know about diet and training then my new ebook that I wrote, has all the answers you need. It gives you sessions, advice, when and what to train, as well as what to eat. Check it out on my website


How did you get such a fit girlfriend? Ahaha, real question is what can I do to help me work towards handstand push ups? 


Ha ha I have no idea on the girlfriend side. Handstand push ups are hard to do, the simplest way would be to develop your up body. Shoulder press, military press, behind the head and in front of the head press. You can then start slowly practicing against a wall. If you go to a crossfit gym they should have a cage with heavy bands that you can use to support you.


What is your diet, what is your daily routine. 


If you want to know how I train and what I do then you need to check out my training eBook I have written. It covers when I train, what I train and how I train. We explain everything with videos and information.


Do you do P/T session #askhask doubtful with how demanding your life is. 


I have done stuff for people before, but only very rarely. If you want to enquire about a session then email


What exercises are there to help improve your max number of pull ups #askhask 


You can do things like Lat pull down, band assisted pull-up with heavy bands. Nothing beats doing actual pull up though. Try over grip, under grip and neutral grip.


Dear James

My 15 year old son, Freddie McKibbin, who is passionate about rugby and plays for saints junior academy, has just had surgery to remove the bursa in his right knee. I have just read an article about your recent op and wondered whether you'd be able to offer him any tips/encouragement/advice. He was operated on two weeks ago but unfortunately was re admitted with an infection this weekend and is now home bound with his leg in a brace until the swelling subsides and the infection is gone. He's pretty fed up and the prospect of playing rugby again seems quite a long way ahead. With GCSEs this year and the thought of not playing rugby it's hard to keep him upbeat.  I'm sure you're always badgered for advice and hope you don't mind me writing but any advice/encouragement from such an inspirational rugby player as yourself would boost his morale no end.

With thanks and all the best

Sophie McKibbin

Hi Sophie,

I am sorry to hear that your son Freddie has been struggling with his knee and now with infection post op. I had exactly the same operation and faced the same risks. The best advice that I could give him is to see this as a great opportunity to come back stronger, fitter and with some good exam results. Its sounds cheesy but whenever we get knocked back, it can make us stronger.

I knew that post op I had a big risk of infection so made sure that I really didn't do anything that I wasn't supposed to until the wound had healed properly. That is the key with this sort of operation I am led to believe. I avoided any inflammatory foods in my diet to help the healing process, so went on a very strict diet of plain food. For example chicken, sweet potatoes and lots of green veg. I didn't eat any junk food, drink alcohol, eat dairy, sugar etc. I found that the discipline of eating well, preparing the food etc made me more organised and productive.

I also spend a lot of time not thinking about rugby and everything else that life has to offer. I knew that if I worked hard and was happy then the road to recovery would be better. Try and get Freddie to focus on other things, and not worry too much. He needs to focus on his exams, having fun and getting that knee right.

Wish him the best of luck from me. 



Hi James

I can't thank you enough for your email. It has given Fred such a boost and having such sound advice from you is far better than hearing it from mum!  We really appreciate it and I think you're so right, trying not to focus on the rugby too much but being healthy, getting the knee better and working towards his GCSEs is the best thing. Thank you so much once again, I appreciate you taking the time to write you are such a huge inspiration.  

With all the very best for your rugby and career. 
Best wishes
Sophie Mckibbin


Any tips on creatine and usage if possible?

Jody Carvell via Twitter

I use Creatine pre training in the morning. It DOES NOT build muscle, but provides your muscles with the capacity to derive more energy in short bursts. This will allow you to work out at a higher intensity for longer, giving you the potential to stimulate more protein synthesis.


How often do you gym though? (Q in response to this quote: Remember that the best rugby players weren't made in the gym, they were made on the training field.)

@stephenkirlew via Instagram

Two times a week, 3 times max. These are really focussed sessions and are not body building workouts.

James Haskell


I'm trying to redress my body comp, as I'm very bottom heavy/leg strong but it makes it really hard to do chin ups, any help?

@MikeStrelley via Twitter

You need to do things like Lat pull down to start with. Then look to use heavy bands to support your weight while you do chin ups. Try doing neutral grip pull ups. Being bottom heavy has nothing to do with it, you just need to get a strong upper body.

James Haskell


At what age did you start working out James? Love your videos by the way.

Ben Hall via YouTube

I started when I was 15 years old at school.

James Haskell


I am already using hades but looking to put in some hiit sessions around my current weights program how can I do this effectively?

@maxjbrady via Twitter

You can do your HIIT sessions first thing in the morning at home. You don't need a gym. Or you can do a circuit once you have finished your weight sessions. 

James Haskell


Can I ask you a question. There are mixed opinions about optimal fat burning heart rates, some experts say it a myth and some say it's truly does work! What's your opinion? @sartorialyeti via Instagram

Hi, I am not really sure, to be honest I have often heard it recommended. If I need to shift weight I would try it, but remember everybody’s heart rate is different. So what is optimal for you will not be optimal for me.

James Haskell


Do you have any killer leg-day exercises?

@PTBenSwanton7 - Twitter

Hi Ben,

Yes, Squats, deadlift, Bulgarian split squat and single leg pistol squats.

 James Haskell


Do you have a recommendation as to what weight training to do, as I can feasibly only train doing weights 2 (really pushing it at 3) days a week with rugby training and matches.
Adam Stephenson

Hi Adam,

It all depends on what you are trying to achieve! Until I know that I cant really help. If you are looking to get bigger then do three full body sessions per week, or one full body and one upper body. Working on different areas. Using a rep range of 8-12 reps.

James Haskell


Coming back from a bad chest infection, was really rough need to get back into training. Any advice on the best course of action?

@Hughsie86 - Twitter

Hi Hugh,

Take things really slowly, start with some simple stuff like walking and jogging, maybe some off feet conditiong i.e. bike or rower - and then build up some weight circuits.

James Haskell


Any tips for a shoulder session at the gym?


Yes, curl to press, lat raise, upright row, shoulder press, military press.

James Haskell


Can you remember what your bench, squat, deadlift numbers were when you were 18?


Hi Oscar,

Yes I can. Bench 150, squat 220, deadlift 180.

James Haskell



I watch and enjoy a lot of your fitness and nutrition videos and have always tried to stay as healthy and fit as I can. But the most difficult aspect for me is trying to balance this with my diabetes - I've had type 1 since I was 3 years old.

There's always a lot of talk about carbs and how they can affect your performance and weight balance, and it's frustrating for me because eating carbs is crucial for me to balance my blood glucose levels. It’s also not as easy for me to pick and choose when I consume them, as sometimes I just have to. Can you give any advice on the issue of carbs and exercise? I also wondered if your product, Hella, is suitable for type 1 diabetics?

Hella being full of only natural ingredients with no additives is absolutely fine for diabetics to take. However as with all things it is always safest to consult your GP to ask for their opinion, if you have any doubts.

On the basis they give you the go ahead. I would do the performance/intense workouts after a lunch containing protein, fats and low GI carbohydrate. From there you can try out the sessions while monitoring your blood glucose.

Regarding weight management I would focus more on weight training, sleep and steady state cardio over low carb HIIT.


@jhbodyfire HIIT vs. Steady cardio in regards to fat loss without muscle loss please.

HIIT will reduce fat quicker while still maintaining muscle mass, but only if you re-feed appropriately after HIIT, Also it only lasts a total of 20-30 minutes, but is hard work. Keep bcaa intake higher pre/during HIIT. Steady state has it place and you can often combine the two in sessions.


@jameshaskell @jhbodyfire any good workout tips to keep upper body in check while recovering from broken ankle?

Most certainly. The world of the upper body is your oyster, irrespective of mobility. You can do anything you like seated. If you want to maintain some size then all you have to do is sit on a bench and perform things like:

  • Curl to press
  • Shoulder press
  • Lateral raise
  • Bent over rows
  • Up right row

You can also lay back on the bench and carefully do dumbbell press. Then lay the other way on your front and do bench pull.

These would all be hypertrophy exercises i.e. muscle building - looking at 10/15 reps each. You can of course focus on strength. When I am injured I always like to target some areas of improvement and focus on this. Use this time to become better.

Conditioning is also something which you can do, providing you are careful. Use a  seated versa climber, rope pull machine or a hand bike. You can do seated battle ropes, as well as things like dumbbell clean to press.

In fact your training should not really change because of your ankle. The guys in the Wasp’s team would expect to work just as hard with a broken ankle. You just need to be extra careful you don't actually put weight on it or bang it. Aside from this everything as normal!


@jhbodyfire tips for running for beginners and women's weightless tips.

There is nothing simpler than running. But here are some key things you need to get in place before you start.

Make sure you have a good pair of proper supportive trainers plus always  remember to foam roll or warm-up properly before you set off.

Don't just go out and pound the pavement. Try and run on a variety of different surfaces such as grass  to give your joints a chance!

You can join running clubs or just find a friend to run with as it can be quite a lonely experience.

I only run for short distance but I like to throw in a selection of bodyweight exercise as I go along, just to make it  a bit more interesting and challenging - like some body weight squats for instance.

Fat loss is the same for men and women. You need to get your diet right. Remember you can’t “out train a bad diet”!! If you want to loose weight you can try some fasted cardio in the morning (i.e. without eating anything.)

I personally have a black coffee with some coconut oil before I do this.

The kind of stuff I would focus on would be HIIT work. It’s short high intensity work that really pushes you but then allows you to recover.

Try this - 60 seconds gentle walk, then 15 seconds flat out sprinting. Repeat this till you have done 12 minutes. Then perform some steady state cardio for 20 minutes. Try this for a couple of weeks and let me know how you get on.


@jhbodyfire how to tone upper abs, pretty please.

The key to toning abs is to clearly understand they are “made” in the kitchen. If you don't have your diet right, you can do all the abs exercises you want but they are going to stay hidden!

In terms of exercises to hit this area, there are quite a few options but I would focus on the following two.

 Kneeling cable crunches - use a cable machine. Kneel down and hold the rope attachment with both hands around your head or just in front of you. Lower your body down onto both knees. Stick your butt out and set your hips back. Tighten your abs, and slowly — trying not to move your hips — crunch your abs down towards the floor. Squeeze tight then slowly come back up.

The second sprinter crunches, these are a killer. Put your hands behind your head, elbows pointing forward. Raise your torso in a normal crunch but this time - right arm and left leg; your elbow and knee should reach the same height so that they’re directly across from one another. Return to the ground and immediately repeat for the opposite side. Its elbow to opposite knee as fast as your can, while cycling your legs. 30 reps should do it, 3 times


I go to three or four gym classes a week, doing everything from Pilates to power plate classes, but could mixing these up reduce the benefits? Could doing high-intensity cardio and then much more controlled exercises such as Pilates be cancelling out the other, and should I stick to just one or two class types? 

There is no danger in doing this. For overall fitness and toning, variety is crucial so that the body keeps getting the challenges it needs in order to get results. Like anything that we do in our lives, familiarity makes the process easier.

When you first started driving a car, the chances are that you were tense and had to work really hard. However, as you get more experienced, your body and mind adapt. Exercise can be the same. Repeating the same routine in the same way every time produces diminished returns. By utilising a variety of approaches, such as high-intensity aerobic classes and the stability training that Pilates provides, you will ensure that the body can cope with anything physically and the constant demands of adaptation mean that you will be burning more calories.

There are circumstances in which combinations of exercises can be counter-productive for a goal. If you’re looking to gain muscle mass, you’ll make life harder if you keep doing high levels of cardiovascular endurance training.


I am a 67-year-old woman who is trying to avoid age-related height loss and curvature of the back. Can you suggest any exercises to help minimise this? 

Poor posture affects most people in some way or another, but it is one of the most easily rectifiable and preventable ‘symptoms’ of ageing. By strengthening the muscles and increasing the flexibility of the back, shoulders and chest, we can help you win the battle to keep upright. Here are some exercises you should do four times a week.

1. The Bridge: Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet on a chair. Raise your body and bottom off the ground, pushing your pelvis towards the ceiling as high as you can and then lower until you are almost touching the floor again. Repeat 15 to 30 times (reps) in three to four sets.

2. Reverse Fly: Hold a light weight in each hand – a kilo bag of sugar will do but think about investing in some small 2kg or 3kg dumbbells, which you can get for a couple of pounds. Bend forward from the hips and let your arms drop forward naturally. Now raise your arms sideways so that you move into a bent-over crucifix position. Perform 12to 20 reps in three to four sets.

3. Shoulder Press: Hold light weights in each hand and stand against a wall with your arms above your head. Bend your arms and lower the weight until you reach 90 degrees at the elbow, with the weights still above shoulder height. Push back up to the extended highest position, keeping your arms in contact with the wall throughout. Perform 15 to 20 reps in three to four sets.

4. Stretch: Reach above your head and cross your thumbs together. Press your arms back as far as you can behind you (keep your arms straight) and feel the stretch in the chest and front of the shoulder. Next, put your arms into a crucifix position and press the arms back behind you as far as you can, feeling a stretch in your chest. Keep pressing back for ten to 12 seconds and repeat two to three times. Finally, laying down on your stomach, push yourself up off the floor, keeping your hips down to stretch through your abdomen and to stretch the muscles around your spine in a gentle extension. Hold for four to five seconds and repeat six to eight times.


I struggle to build traps and calves. What's the best way to do these?


Hi Olli 

Well the first thing is don't try and do them together. I find that shrugs, lateral raise and military press are best for the traps.

Calves are always very hard to train. Calf raises – both single and double. Skipping and weighted calf bridges will help.


I can't decide whether to purchase Hades or Creatine as a pre-workout? Any chance you could help with your expert opinion? Cheers.

Lewis Sharp1_sharp

Hi Lewis

You can take them both together as I do. Creatine will not give you energy burst or any noticeable change in your motivation.

Hades will boost your training, help you focus and prolong the time spent training.

You will notice a buzz, which will help drive you on. They are really too different products doing completely different things, so as said above there is room for both.


What is the lizard crawl good for?


Hi Sabina

Its great for conditioning, if you do it for 25 seconds you will get a real sweat on. It’s also awesome for upper body strength, shoulder strength and mobility. It works your abdominals and leg muscles as well.

James Haskell

– Entry was posted on September 4th, 2015 by James Haskell
© 2018 JHH&F - James Haskell Health and Fitness Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
All Rights Reserved