So you wanna be a fighter? A how to guide.

I have had a few emails recently that have led me to understand that the path to becoming a competitive mma fighter, competing out of the Griphouse, is not as clear as it should be. One of the more common questions I get is “I want to be an MMA fighter, what classes do I do?”. We have a large timetable, a lot of different coaches, multiple classes going on at the same time and it can be confusing for those trying to decide how to proceed.

With this blog post I hope to cover the path for the athlete looking to compete in MMA representing the Dinky Ninja Fight Team.

The Prerequisites

  • The time to develop

Learning the fundamentals of numerous complicated combat sports takes a while. The bottom line is that if you are not able to commit 10-12hours a week to developing your MMA game. It is unlikely that you will compete representing the DNFT.

That figure is a minimum, our top athletes and those guys who got good really, really fast usually do a lot more.

  • Work Ethic

The volume of training outlined above is tough on the body. There will be times when you want to miss a session, duck the tough spars or loss concentration during a technique class. It becomes easy to make these single occurrences a habit. Not every training session will blow your mind and by around Friday all of our fighters hate anything that involves them moving.

Becoming a fighter must become a part of your identity. You are making a commitment to the future, scarier, more dangerous version of yourself not to slack off.

  • A genuine love of the Sport.

You will only ever persist in improving in an activity that is difficult if you have a genuine passion for it. Novelty and excitement can get you through the first few weeks and months but you really need to enjoy what you are doing in order to keep going when it gets really tough. Joanne Calderwood was the lightest member of the pro team and  once mentioned how much she loves fighting as it means she “gets to win a round of sparring”. It takes a lot of determination to keep going when you are constantly competing against team mates who are larger, more skilled or more experienced. When you start out you tend to be the nail and ball your sparring partners are hammers.

  • An absence of Ego and a desire to improve.

As mentioned in the paragraph above. When you start out it can seem as if everyone else is moving in fast forward. The stuff you are trying to learn your opponent does instinctively. Your team mates have more experience and it will be a long time before you are taking rounds from them. One way to stay sane and avoid falling into a pit of self pity is to concentrate on winning the small battles. You may not win the round but you can stop that single leg takedown a couple of times or land the cross counter on a decent opponent. Each one of these is an indication that you are improving and reinforces solid technical abilities.

The path of the MMA Athlete at the Griphouse

So if you can handle the above prerequisites here’s how you go about becoming a fighter

  • The Foundation

The back bone of your training should be the two MMA fundamentals classes Tuesday 6pm and Sat 1pm. These classes, coached by Dean Reilly and I (Paul Mcveigh), will introduce you to concepts unique to MMA. These are also the guys who will be putting you forward for bouts so let them know you are interested in competing and they will let you know when you are ready.

As well as these two classes, when you become comfortable sparring, the Friday 7pm MMA sparring class is added to the foundation and is now the single most important class in the week. This is the class where you will develop your own style and adapt techniques to work against resisting training partners in a chaotic environment.

Another hour of Muay Thai sparring will be a useful addition when you are experienced enough Mon 7pm or Thurs 11am.

  • Building on the Foundation

If you are a complete beginner it will be a little while before you are fully sparring so you have another 6-8hrs minimum of training to account for. Those with more experience can guide their training towards weaker areas but in general an equal distribution of wrestling, Muay Thai and Jiu jitsu works well. Our full timetable is available here the fundamental classes are geared to those new to the sports so feel free to round out your training week depending on your schedule.

Training week example (no sparring experience)

Monday

8pm Muay Thai fundamentals

Tuesday

6pm MMA Fundamentals

7pm Wrestling

8pm Muay Thai fundamentals

Wednesday

6pm Jiu jitsu fundamentals

Thursday

6pm Wrestling

8pm Muay Thai fundamentals

Saturday

11am Wrestling

12pm Jiu jitsu fundamentals

1pm Mma fundamentals

Training week example (sparring experience)

Monday

6pm Jiu Jitsu fundamentals

7pm Muay Thai sparring

8pm Jiu jitsu sparring

Tuesday

6pm MMA fundamentals

7pm Wrestling

Wednesday

6pm Muay Thai fundamentals

7pm Jiu jitsu sparring

Thursday

6pm Wrestling

7pm  No gi Jiu Jitsu intermediate

Friday

7pm mma sparring

Saturday

11am wrestling

12pm Jiu Jitsu fundamentals

1pm mma fundamentals

Total 13hours per week.

Before your first bout.

Prior to taking your first amateur mma bout we have a number of recommendations. We strongly believe that competition breeds excellent. Nothing can refine your training like competing in front of crowd. Mistakes are highlighted and strengths are noted. By competing in various formats out with the main sport of mma you can experience the stresses of competition but as it is not your main goal you can concentrate on the performance a little more objectively.

  • Compete in grappling tournaments

Grappling tournaments are great for destroying the ego. If there are 8 guys in your division 7 guys are going to lose at some point that day. Learning how to deal with a lose in a positive manner is a vital component to becoming a successful mixed martial artist. A defeat should drive you to be better and plug the holes in your game. Upon making the transition to mma one of our Muay Thai coaches Sean Wright entered many Jiujitsu comps to refine the grappling aspect of his game.

  • Compete in a novice striking bout

Over the course of an MMA career you will be hit a lot. Being comfortable in uncomfortable situations is vital for the mixed martial artist. By competing in a striking discipline you are helping refine offensive and defensive skills that will serve you well in MMA competition.

  • Get 5-10 inter club bouts

Inter clubs offer burgeoning fighters cage experience but in a relatively controlled environment. Opponents are often team mates and there is a crowd of people watching. However contact is controlled, shin guards are worn, submissions do not end the bout and technical proficiency is emphasised.

This is one step removed from competing and is a valuable tool to ensure the fighter is comfortable competing in the unique mma environment.

  • Be an asset for your team mates.

Probably the most important prerequisite. By the time you are ready to compete you will be an asset to the entire team. You will be able to hold pads and spar with the pro team guys. It may just be you in the fight but you have had an entire team of guys who have got you ready for this experience. You can call upon their knowledge and past experience at every turn.

The vast majority of those getting involved in MMA would be better off financially if they put the same hours into a minimum wage job. Many fighters, even successful ones, can come to the end of their careers with a catalogue of debilitating injuries and very little financial security.

If you are interested in MMA as a means to become rich and famous, things probably won’t go your way. Instead if you have a true passion for the sport and that passion is supported by a strong work ethic and the constant focus on gradual improvement you have got everything you need to be a successful competitor.

Blending the Ranges: Wrestling into strikes

Many MMA coaches have long known how effective punching your way into a takedown is for those looking to bring an MMA bout to the mat. Striking an opponent forces them to cover up leaving their hips and legs vulnerable to attack. This is a MMA mainstay and something almost all fighters are proficient with.

Less common is the idea of using wrestling to create striking opportunities. Often a successful takedown is the difference between winning and losing a bout. Fighters have to respect these attempts and defend, often leaving themselves open to strikes as their hands come down and their levels change.

Many great fighters have utilised these principles and it seems to be a hallmark of the new breed of fighters, who have been trained in MMA from the start of their careers. As opposed to the first wave of athletes who were primarily strikers, wrestlers or Jiu jitsu guys. When you have the bigger picture in mind from the start you are less likely to pick up small but detrimental habits that can sometimes come from exclusively training in one of the component arts.

The true Mixed Martial Artist can blend the ranges seamlessly, striking into takedowns, punching into guard passes, attacking submissions to gain striking opportunities etc.

There are a number of athletes who do this well but as I have watched about billion hours of Demetrious Johnson footage and its all on my hard drive we will have a look at how he does it in the video below.

You can check out the other parts of our why we should all love and be more like DJ series in the links here

https://thegriphouse.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/the-frame-clinch-and-other-stuff-i-have-stolen-from-demetrious-johnson/

https://thegriphouse.wordpress.com/2015/01/22/the-stance-switching-magic-johnson-demetrious-that-is/

The Frame Clinch and other stuff I have stolen from Demetrious Johnson.

Wallwork

In MMA the clinch position along the cage is practically another martial art in itself. None of the combat sports which make up MMA address the position as their rule sets do not usually allow athletes to smash each other into chain link fences.

In the eyes of most judges, if an athlete has their back on the cage they are at disadvantage and are therefore losing that part of the round. When a fighter finds themselves in this predicament their fundamental athletic stance is disrupted, they cannot throw strikes with the same effectiveness and they must sprawl differently (wall sprawl vs ehm sprawl sprawl). The constant repummeling, wall sprawling, dragging guys up of your hips and efforts to turn off the cage make this area of the bout incredibly gruelling.

Some of the most interesting developments in mma are happening with athletes working to use this unique environment to their advantage.. One such development comes from Demetrious Johnson who utilises a unique framing clinch along with the more traditional plum clinch to great effect in his bouts.

Strikers clinch Vs Grapplers clinch.

A grappler style clinch would be something like the over under or double under hooks positions. Here you are limiting the opponents ability to strike and gaining a great deal of control over the opponents body. The final aim is to hold the opponent and achieve a takedown.

overunder

The strikers clinch differs from the grappler’s clinch in that there is always some form of barrier creating chest to chest separation. This again allows the athlete to limit the opponents ability to strike but also gives them the ability to effectively strike back. The Thai Plum clinch is a great example of this. Other examples are single collar tie for dirty boxing  and any clinch where head position is used to create chest to chest separation.

plum

The Frame Clinch

Demetrious Johnson is primarily a striker style clincher. He utilises the plum position excellently. He seamlessly enters into the clinch from punches and kicks and batters his opponents with knees to the body and head. Elbows and punches follow when they try to break away clean.

But things get really interesting when you try and pin him against the cage as we saw throughout his bout with Ali Bagutinov. What was really interesting about this fight was DJ’s ability to be the more effective athlete even when his back was pinned to the cage by a much more powerful opponent.

How did he do it? Well lets look at his Frame Clinch position.

This position is characterised by two main features the bicep frame and the lat frame (as in on the latissimus dorsi muscle).

framclinch2 frame clinchpic

The Bicep Frame

The bicep frame is massively important and serves a number of purposes.

  • Creates distance and angles: opponent cannot make true chest to chest contact. The shoulder of the bicep controlled arm is kept out. The space this creates will regularly filled with an onslaught of knees to the body.
  • Prevents opponents hands connecting: its hard to think of a more effective takedown in mma than the double leg against the cage with the hands locked below the hips. The bicep frame prevents the opponent from connecting their hands in double unders or when dropping down to double leg positions. The opponent is forced to commit to the single leg and as we can see in the video at the end of this article DJ is rather good at turning his hip out of those.
  • Opponent cannot use framed arm to strike: by monitoring the bicep you will no longer have to worry as much about strikes from that limb.

The Lat Frame

While the bicep frame is pretty constant the Lat frame is more of a mobile trouble shooter, moving around to create space, defend takedowns and bash the opponent. The latissimus dorsi (side of ribcage/armpit area) tends to be the reset point but it can end up in a variety of positions depending on the aim.

  • Creates space and angles: the hand on the lat helps the athlete to keep the opponents weight of them and allows them to slide the hips out along the cage to create angles, knee or move along the cage.
  • Striking: As the arm is not trapped in an overhook the athlete is free to wing the framing hand over the top to strike the opponents head. This is not a knock out shot but it is annoying and can force the opponent to move.
  • Transitioning to a single collar tie:by angling out with the hips, pulling on the opponents neck and framing on the bicep the athlete will be able to secure a single collar tie and a beneficial angle to strike or move of the wall.
  • Transitioning to the head push knee: by angling the hips towards the lat frame side the athlete can push the opponets head into a knee strike. DJ does this a lot.
  • Moving to an overhook to defend the level change: while the bicep frame prevents the opponent connecting their hands on the double leg the lat frame can transition to an overhook and assist in dragging the opponent upright to where the frame clinch is most effective.

Linking the Frame Clinch with the Plum

Against a powerful clincher like Bagutinov one does not simple turn off the cage. What DJ did was use the frame clinch to create an angle on the cage before latching onto a plum clinch and pummelling Ali with a poo tonne of knee strikes to the body and head.

The plum is a great striking position but is not very effective when your hips are square to the cage. The frame clinch allowed DJ to angle out where the plum became much more effective.

Here is a sequence which covers a tonne of the stuff mentioned above.

Using the Frame clinch and Plum offensively

When you have the Frame, plum or an intermediary version with your opponents back to the cage you are in a great position to cause damage. Not only are your strikes no longer hampered by chain link fence biting at your ankles and messing with your movement you are free to create real separation and land more long ranged attacks at will before crashing into your opponent once more.

Getting this sort of rapid separation from grappler clinches is much more difficult as the opponent has over hooks to lock you to them.

Another cool feature of clinch work that encourage a lot of knee strikes is that it tends to bring an opponents posture up as the try to avoid getting decapitated. Unfortunately for them this puts them in a great position to be double legged.

DJ does a lot of other cool stuff with his clinch work, such as using double under hooks to move off the cage before transitioning to his vicious plum clinch or doing that cool Dekkers inspired jumping elbow thingy on Dodson, but I think we will leave it there.

If you want to check out more have a look at the full video of clinch awesomeness below.

Let me know what you think in the comments section.

Cheers,

The stance switching Magic Johnson….Demetrious that is.

I mean I can only imagine how annoying/dangerous it is to compete against someone like Demetrious Johnson. You have this incredibly fast athlete constantly throwing feints at you while switching stances every few seconds. He also has the ability to take you down at will and if you have the audacity to actually defend the take down he will use your reaction to land strikes as he’s coming up.

He lands his shots at will, rarely takes any damage,has KO power, great take downs, dangerous submissions and has finished 3 of his last 4 opponents in world title bouts. If you were looking for a fighter to model yourself on DJ is a spectacularly sensible choice.

Why change stance?

So why does DJ switch so much? One of the major benefits of doing this is that it changes the rules of engagement. Assuming you are facing an orthodox opponent, as you move from orthodox to southpaw the guy you are competing against becomes more susceptible to your rear side weapons like the left cross and left body kick.

With this frequent stance changing the opponent is constantly forced to reset and address a new scenario. This can leave opponents standing in front of him deeply confused and off balance.

In the video at the end of this article you will see DJ utilise his stance change in a tonne of practical ways. Here are a few examples.

  • To create distance from an advancing opponent.
  • To cover distance towards an opponent often with a step through right hand from orthodox stance.
  • aggressive Orthodox to southpaw switch vs a retreating opponent.
  • To ride out inside low kicks
  • To evade overhand rights but remain in range to counter.
  • When he starts to lose the race to the outside he will stance change to negate the orthodox advantage.

What is southpaw looking for vs an orthodox fighter?

DJ does some of his best work from southpaw. The techniques he utilises are the standard fair for southpaws facing off against orthodox fighters, but what DJ does really well is mask it all behind frequent stance changing.

I think that nearly all boxing coaches agree that the key to the southpaws advantage over orthodox fighters is the maintenance of the lead foot outside the opponents lead food. This allows DJ to line up his left cross through his opponents guard at the same time making it difficult for the same opponent to comeback with counters.

The problem that southpaws have always faced is that the orthodox fighter can do the exact same thing straight back. Fortunately as DJ is excellent in both stances as soon as he feels he is losing the race to the outside a quick stance change resets the game.

Below are some of the common orthodox vs southpaw strategies utilised by DJ.

  • Pawing the lead hand as he edges closer allows DJ to set up the southpaw jab to break up his opponent rhythm and forward pressure.
  • The same pawing of the jab is a fine set up for his go to high damage techniques the left cross, left body/high kick and left knee.
  • By walking the opponent down towards the cage and giving them a single avenue of escape DJ can walk opponents onto the left body kicks they move off.

Setting it all up early with leg kicks

Practically every Demetrious Johnson fight begins in the same manner. A lot of movement, a lot of stance changing and feints punctuated by a large volume of leg kicks. This is a great way to test your opponents reactions and range. DJ minimises the danger of being countered by kicking from both stances and targeting both the inside and outside of his opponents lead leg.

He also tends to pull away from the opponent after the kick lands forcing them to chase him if they wish to counter, never a great idea against a fighter with so many options.

But by and large the coolest aspect of this strategy is his ability to switch stance off the kick. A right leg kick from orthodox lands, the foot is placed back down to the outside of the opponents lead leg and the left leg falls back into position. The opponent has just eaten a leg kick but now has to deal with the potential threat of all those rear side weapons being winged at him.

As the rounds get deeper and opponents fatigue this strategy becomes more apparent and more offensive.

These strategies have lead him to victories over bigger, stronger and more experienced challengers time and time again.

Now you know why the coaches at the Griphouse have been dialing stance switching techniques into our programs over the last few months even at the fundamental levels.

Did I mention DJ also he has some of the best wrestling in the MMA? Check that out in part 2

The Big Griphouse Nutrition Experiment: The Results

So we have reached the end of our nutritional intervention and by and large the results have been rather positive. We have had 25+ guys successfully complete the 4 weeks with a high level of compliance. Here are some of the effects noted.

The Positives

  1. Dudes lost weight.

So mission accomplished then. Everyone involved transformed themselves into sexier versions of their previous selves. The weight loss varied widely among the participants. This was to be expected as the old eating patterns were not controlled for, this is one of the reasons I use the term “experiment” very loosely. The weight loss ranged between 2kg and 8.6kg, that is a pretty decent amount of mass to shake of a frame.

I considered getting some of the before and after pictures up as they are always cool visually. I decided not to in the end as a) its more work for me and screw that and b) they are incredibly easy to mess with.

Check out this dramatic transformation from Jiu Jitsu practioner Daniel Strauss.

Pretty impressive right? That transformation took all of 30minutes.

By doing a quick workout and getting better lighting you can really make a difference to your physique. Their are tonnes of techniques like these that can get you instant results. In the same way that fighters at weigh in look incredibly diesel, the cover models on men’s workout magazines get mega dehydrated before a shoot.

Before and after pictures have their place but I feel they should be a guide for yourself and maybe a few other people that you are close to get the accountability advantage. When you start sharing them on the interwebs its hard not to fix that posture, stick that arse out and not drink anything for 5days.

I find honest anecdotal stuff like this way cooler.

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2. Cooking Veggie food is mega cheap.

Turns out that dropping meat from every meal is great for the wallet. With weekly shops coming in at £15-25 a lot of our participants were pleasantly surprised.

Dietary information and advice can often be confusing, but one thing that nearly everyone in the nutrition industry agrees on is that eating a crap tonne of vegetables is a great idea. Having meals made almost entirely from plants is a good way to facilitate this.

3. More Energy

This is the classic I have stopped eating like a 12year old factor. Going from meals in a box to meals made from whole ingredients is a great way to avoid finding yourself unconscious at a desk around 3pm. The participants felt that they could tackle their workouts with more energy and get more from them as they were not starting in a fatigued state.

4. It was easy to follow.

Cooking in batches and having meals planned in advance was one of the cornerstones of the plan and seemed to work really well. Our guinea pigs rarely had to ask the question “what should I eat now?”. If you ask this question while hungry chances are you will answer “ALL THE FREAKING CAKES!”. Having a fridge full of handy meals in Tupperware prevents this from becoming the diet ruining issue it might otherwise be.

5. The meals tasted great.

This might be the most important factor in lifelong body composition control. If you do not enjoy your food you will eventually find something else more palatable, like a snickers or mcflurry. Track down healthy recipes that are easy to make and that you enjoy and make them staples you can keep coming back too.

6. The Egg Burrito thingy is amazing.

It is.

The Negatives.

  1. Atomic Explosive Bottom Burps.

There is no way round it. Whenever you completely change your food intake your body will tend to kick off a bit. By kick off I mean you will be able to produce room emptying, tear inducing, this really should be weaponised farts. Thank fully this effect usually passes in a couple of days as you get used to the increased fiber content etc.

2. Peeing like a race horse.

When your body is used to a certain level of hydration and you start drinking a lot of fluid, you will tend to pee for a long time and pretty often. Again this will settle down after a few days as you adjust to your new much more hydrated self.

3. It messed with Coggsies 9.30am poo.

And he was raging

4. Dishes and washing up.

Turns out food prep requires more effort than a takeaway.

Thanks to everyone who took part and stuck with it so strictly, I know a lot of people really benefited from the support via the Facebook group.

In the next blog ill be discussing where to go from here and the purpose of these experiments/diets in general.

The next experiment might be a put on as much muscle mass in 4 weeks as you can kinda deal. Any interest in that one?

The Big Griphouse Nutrition Experiment: The Recipes.

Surprise suckers, you thought this was about health and body composition. Wrong this is all about saving the animals, we are going PETA all up in here.

If you take a quick look below you’ll notice that the recipes below are all veggie ones. The reasons for this is quite simple. I rarely eat meat anymore and the guys who tested this out for me are similarly inclined. Do not worry though we will be including some meat based meals but……. well I kinda left those recipes on my laptop and now I’m in Ireland and won’t get back to it till Sunday so uhm sorry.

Feel free to throw some chicken or whatever into the meals below but honestly they don’t really need it. One thing all diets tend to agree on is this “eat a crap tonne of veg”.

In general I eat that egg burrito (meal 1) every day as it’s amazing, for lunch it’s a soup (meal 2) based meal and for dinner it’s a stew, chilli kind of deal (meal 3). Soups and stews are ace as they are filling and don’t have a huge carbohydrate content. Combine that with an ingredient list rich in vegetables and healthy stuff and your onto a winner. They also stay pretty good in the fridge and don’t go weird by day 2 which is nice.

Here ares some recipes that I have stolen from many wonderful places. Including Green Kitchen Stories, Jamie Oliver and big Hugh from River Cottage.

Meal 1

Option 1. Breakfast burrito thingy

Ingredients
3 eggs
Tomatoes, red onion, broccoli, jalapeños, chillis anything else you like the look off.
Tortilla

How to make it.

Cook the vegetables add the eggs and scramble them. Bung them in a tortillaand roll it.

Option 2.Green Mango smoothie

Ingredients
1 cup mango
1/2 cup of parsley
1/2 cup of spinach or kale
1/2 banana
1tbsp lemon juice
1cup of water

Throw everything in a blender for 30sec

Option 3. Chocolate and coffee protein shake

Ingredients
1 scoop choclate protein
Milk or milk substitute
1tbsp of ground coffee
1 Banana

Throw everything in a blender for 30sec

Snacks

1xProtein shake and 1 apple used whenever you get hungry.

Option 4 new

Over night Bircher

SERVES 2
100g oats
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
350ml milk of your choice (I used almond or coconut)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
a dash of all- natural vanilla extract
a little squeeze of lemon juice
2 ripe peaches

SERVE WITH Winter • a couple of handfuls of chopped dried peaches or pears Spring • chopped strawberries Summer • peaches, as recipe Autumn • chopped sweet, ripe pear

The night before, put the oats, chia seeds and pumpkin seeds into a bowl or container, pour over the milk, and add the maple syrup, vanilla and lemon juice. Mix well, then cover and pop into the fridge overnight. In the morning, chop the peaches into little chunks, squeeze over a little more lemon and either layer them up with the oats and seeds in a glass or bowl, or just run out of the door with everything in a little container.

Lunch

Option 1.Pea and herb soup.

Ingredients
15g butter
1 onion
2 small potatoes
800ml vegetable stock
300g frozen peas
400g spinach
12 Mint leaves
Chopped coriander

How to make it.

Fry onion and potato in butter for a few minutes then add the stock. Simmer for 15mins.

Add peas until they are tender then add the spinach and herbs and remove from the heat

Blend the crap out of it.

Add the yoghurt to individual portions after heading as and when you eat it.

Option 2. Provençal vegetable soup with paprika

Ingredients
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 diced red onion
2 garlic cloves chopped
1/2 courgette chopped
1 carrot chopped
2 celery sticks chopped
1 small leek chopped
800ml vegetable stock
400g tin chopped tomatoes
3.5 Tbsp of tomato purée
1/2 Tsp smoked paprika
200g tin mixed beans
A handful of green beans thinly sliced
Some chopped basil and parsley if you could be arsed.

How to make it
Heat the oil and add the onion, garlic, courgette, carrot, celery and leek. Cook on a medium heat for about 5mins

Add the stock, the tomatoes, the green beans and the tomato purée and simmer it all for 15-20mims.

Add the mixed beans, paprika and herbs and heat for about a minute.

Season with salt and pepper and eat the crap out of it.

Option 3. Indian Lentil Soup

Ingredients
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion chopped
3gloves of garlic chopped
1tbsp of fresh ginger chopped
3 potatoes chopped into small pieces
2 carrots diced
1 apple chopped
200g yellow lentils
1L vegetable stock
2 tomatoes diced
2tbsp roast pumpkin seeds

Spices
2tbsp curry powder
1tsp Turmeric
1 small red chilli
3tbsp of chopped coriander

How to make it
Heat olive oil and add the onion, garlic and spices. Cook for 1min.

Add the potato, carrot, apple and lentils. Stir about a bit before adding the stock.

Simmer for 30 minutes

Add the tomatoes and boil for 5-10 minutes

Throw the coriander and toasted pumpkin seeds on the top and eat it.

Option 4 Berry and fennel smoothie

75g frozen blueberries
75g frozen raspberries
1/2 avocado
1/4 fennel bulb
1 orange peeled
1 1/2cm fresh ginger
2tsp acai powder (optional)
250ml milk, coconut milk or other plant milk

Fire it all in a blender and drink it.

Meal 3

Sweet Potato Chilli

Ingredients
2 Sweet potatoes peeled and cut into chunks
Cayenne pepper
Cumin
Cinnamon
Olive oil
1 onion chopped
1red pepper chopped
1 yellow pepper chopped
Fresh coriander. Pull off the leaves and set to one side. Finely chop the stalks.
1 red chilli chopped
1 green chilli chopped
2 cloves of garlic chopped
2 400g tins of beans. Any will do kidney,chickpea, cannellini, not baked.
2 400g tins of chopped tomatoes

How to make it.
1.Fire oven on to 200/gas mark 6

2. Sprinkle the sweet potato with the olive oil (don’t go mental with this) add some of each of the spices and toss to coat everything.

3. Throw them on a tray and cook for 40mins until they are soft and golden.

4. Put a big pan with some olive oil on a medium heat and add the onion garlic and peppers. Cook for 5 minutes.

5. Add the coriander stalks, chillis and 1tsp each of cayenne pepper, cumin and cinnamon. Cook for another 10mins.

6. Chuck the drained beans in along with the tins of tomatoes, bring to the boil then cook on a medium heat for 25-30mins.

7. When they are ready add the sweet potato and stir fry with most of the coriander leaves, saving some as a garnish.

North African squash and chickpea stew

Ingredients
2 tablespoons of olive oil/coconut oil
2 large onions diced
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1 celery stalk chopped
1teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1teaspoon of turmeric
0.5 teaspoon of cinnamon
0.5 teaspoon of ground ginger
100g red lentils
400g tin chickpeas drained
8 saffron strands
500ml passatta
Bunch of parsley chopped
Bunch of coriander chopped
300g butternut squash chopped into chunks
1L veg stock
50g orzo
1 bay leaf

How to make it

Heat the oil and add the garlic and onion. Cook for 2 minutes
Add the celery and all the spices and cook for 2minutes
Now add the lentils, chickpeas, saffron, passatta, parsley and half the coriander. Cook for 15mins
Add the butternut squash, bay leaf and the stock. Cover and simmer for 30 mins
Add the orzo and cook until the pasta is ready. Usually about 7-8mins but keep an eye on it.

Potato and Cauliflower curry

Ingredients
2tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
large piece ginger, grated
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ tsp turmeric
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp curry powder, or to taste
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 cauliflower, cut into florets
2 potatoes, cut into chunks
1 small green chilli, halved lengthways
squeeze lemon juice
handful coriander

How to make it.
1. Heat the oil in a saucepan.
2. Cook the onion for 10 mins until soft, then add the ginger, garlic, turmeric, cumin and curry powder.
3. Cook for 1 min more.
4. Stir in the tomatoes and sugar.
5. Add the cauliflower, potatoes and split chilli, seasoning to taste.
6. Cover with a lid and gently cook for a good 30 mins, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are cooked.
7. When the vegetables are cooked, remove the chilli, if you like, stir in a squeeze of lemon juice and scatter with coriander.

New Dhal with sweet potato

SERVES 4
FOR THE SWEET POTATOES
2 sweet potatoes, skins on, washed and roughly chopped into 1.5cm cubes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon fennel seeds olive oil

FOR THE DHAL
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
a thumb- size piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped
1 red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
200g red lentils
1 × 400ml tin of coconut milk
400ml vegetable stock
2 large handfuls of spinach
a bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped, stalks and all
juice of 1 lemon

FOR THE COCONUT CHUTNEY
50g unsweetened desiccated coconut
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
10 curry leaves
a little vegetable or coconut oil
a 20g piece of fresh ginger, grated
1 red chilli, finely chopped

Preheat your oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas 7.
Pour 150ml of boiling water over the coconut and leave to soak.
Put your sweet potatoes on a roasting tray and add a good pinch of salt and pepper, the cumin and fennel seeds and a drizzle of olive oil. Roast in the oven for 20–25 minutes, until soft and sweet in the middle and crispy brown on the outside.

In a large saucepan, sizzle the garlic, ginger, chilli and red onion in a little oil for about 10 minutes, until soft and sweet. Grind the cumin and coriander seeds in a pestle and mortar, then add to the pan with the other spices and cook for a couple of minutes to toast and release the oils.

Add the lentils, coconut milk and stock to the pan and bring to a simmer, then turn the heat down and bubble away for 25–30 minutes.

While that is cooking make your chutney. Drain the coconut and put it into a bowl.

Fry the mustard seeds and curry leaves in a little oil until they begin to crackle, then pour the mixture over the coconut. Season with salt and pepper, then stir in the ginger and chilli and give it a good mix.

To finish your dhal, take it off the heat, then stir in the spinach and allow it to wilt a little, stirring in half the chopped coriander and the lemon juice too. Pile into bowls and top with the crispy sweet potatoes, spoonfuls of the coconut chutney and the remaining coriander. I serve this with charred chapattis or roti, and if you are really hungry you can have some fluffed brown basmati rice too.

Another Chilli new

SERVES 8–10

FOR THE CHILLI
olive or rapeseed oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
a thumb- size piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 red or green chilli, finely chopped
1 tablespoon good chilli powder
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, bashed
1 tablespoon chipotle paste
3 × 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
300g Puy lentils
100g bulgur wheat
100g quinoa
1 × 400g tin of small beans (haricot, black or black- eyed)
1–2 litres vegetable stock
1 heaped tablespoon good cocoa powder
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

TO SERVE
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 green or red chillies, finely chopped a
small bunch of fresh thyme
natural yoghurt
warmed corn tortillas

First get out your biggest pot and place it on a medium heat.
Add a splash of olive or rapeseed oil and cook the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli for 10 minutes, until soft and sweet.

Now add the chilli powder and cumin seeds and stir around in the pan for a minute or two. Then add all the other chilli ingredients, stirring and mixing as you go – add 1 litre of the stock to start with, and keep the rest on hand to add as needed if the chilli starts to look a bit dry.

Bring to a gentle boil, then turn the heat down to low and leave to simmer and blip away for 30–35 minutes, until the lentils are cooked and the chilli is deep and flavoursome.

Make a thyme oil by mixing the olive oil, chopped chillies and thyme with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Taste your chilli and add a little more salt and pepper if you like. Serve in bowls, topped with a little yoghurt, a drizzle of thyme oil and some warmed corn tortillas for scooping.

The Big Griphouse Nutrition Experiment

At the Griphouse we have a large number of wonderful people who are all interested in health, fitness and the ancient arts of arse kickery. The nutritional side of things is something we haven’t really tackled as a gym. Sure guys have been passing around knowledge and supporting each other but we have never had a large scale Griphouse approved eating plan.

That’s what this experiment is all about. A big pile of us doing a nutritional intervention and seeing what happens.

One of the things I’ve picked up from cutting weight is that accountability makes for serious body composition change. Our fighters routinely lose around 5-10kg in the week leading up to a weigh in. They have a time frame, a date to be a certain weight. If they miss weight you are accountable and your team mates will hold you to it. To that end we have set up this Facebook page, where you can discuss the diet, share results and suggest alternative recipe ideas. Feel free to add yourself here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1555194391370658/

We are interested in fat loss over weight loss though so don’t worry about having to sit in salt baths and saunas for ages. All you need to do is follow the program for a long as you like and reap the rewards.

Program Principles

Eat the same thing everyday

We tend to run into trouble with this question “what do I want to eat?”. By the time we ask it we are usually pretty hungry and cake seems to be the answer. By planning your meals and preparing them in advance this problem is dealt with.

On Sunday decide what you will eat and make a big pile of it. Enough to do the entire week or half of the week as I tend to do. Refrigerate or freeze it to keep it from going weird. Tupperware is your friend here.

If you have your meals prepared any poor food choices are on you.

You do not need variety. Yes it will be boring and by Friday you will hate the taste of it but it’s an easy path to improved body composition. This will involve mostly low carb fare such as soups, stews that sort of thing. More details tomorrow.

2. Drink 5cups of green tea a day

This isn’t because I think green tea has any mystical properties. It’s mainly down to ensuring hydration is maintained and well …..I like green tea. If you are caffeine sensitive any other herbal tea is fine.

When we are dehydrated we get hungry and eat stuff as the body can get a lot of hydration from solid food sources. It is often difficult to distinguish hunger and thirst. All of your systems tend to run sub optimally when in a dehydrated state.

The act of making tea also seems to distract from thoughts of food. That might just be me though.

3. A protein shake used when you start to get hungry and want cakes

Protein is the most satiating of the macronutrients and is a great weapon to stave of hunger. Most protein company’s get their whey protein from the same places so the individual brands sell pretty much the same product. More important get one you like the taste of it should almost be like a treat (sort of, it’s not really as good as a snickers, but chocolate protein with hazelnut milk tastes like Nutella which is pretty boss)

4. An apple of your choice as snacks whenever you want something crappy.

Again these should be with you wherever you go in case you start getting hungry. Apples are nutrient dense and have a sweetness that exceeds their calorie content. Pretty decent if you have a haribo problem.

So if after eating 3 meals, 5 cups of tea, a protein shake and 2 apples you still want doughnuts….well that’s pretty impressive actually.

5. Replace two meals each week with whatever you like.

Two meals a week eat something you want. It can be burgers, pizza , doughnuts whatever. Try not to go absolutely mental and stop when you’ve had enough. Plan it in advance and enjoy it.

And that is pretty much the program.

Tomorrow I’ll post the meal plans and dietary guidelines with the aim of kicking off on Monday 22nd

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