Whats in the loo: The Bristol Stool chart

Effective training means you’ll grab hold of as many indicators as you can. Actual work performed, weights lifted, distances run at what time, heart rates, blood pressure, HRV, and food eaten. But why not review what comes out of the  other end?

Today its time to self-assess your poo. I say self-assess as I’m not going to do it for you.

You poo, you look, you judge. The Bristol Stool chart, believe it or not, sorts poo into 7 types.


Thanks to Wikipedia for the picture

So, what does this mean?

Gut sense suggests this

“types 1, 2 and 3 = hard or impacted stools. Type 4 and 5 = normal or optimal. Type 6 = loose stool, subnormal, or suboptimal, and type 7 = diarrhea.”

The Express suggests these  possible causes

Type 1: Separate hard lumps like nuts which are hard to pass. Experts said this type of pool could be an indicator of constipation. It might mean a patient is not eating enough fibre, such as fruit, vegetables and cereals.

Type 2: Sausage-shaped but lumpy. This is also an indicator a person could be slightly constipated.

Type 3: Like a sausage but with cracks on its surface. This is considered to be a healthy stool.

Type 4: Like a sausage or snake and smooth and soft.  This is also considered to be a healthy stool by medical professionals.

Type 5: Soft blobs with clear cut edges  and usually passed easily. This could also be an indicator people are lacking fibre in their diet.

Type 6: Fluffy pieces with ragged edges, mushy stool. This category on the Bristol Stool Chart could indicate inflammation of the bowel.

Type 7: Water, no solid pieces and entirely liquid. This is also a sign a person is unwell, which could be caused by a virus, bacteria or a parasite.


thanks to Wikipedia

pain and dysfunction

I see a lot of people in muscular pain. I treat and help lots of people with muscular pain .

The reality is that there are lots of things you can do to ease pain and promote recovery or at the least , stop it getting worse .

What I have noticed is that people who take an active role in their recovery , get better soon .

Here are some questions for you

1) Have you gently moved the painful part . Years ago painful wrists and ankles were plastered up . Today, you need to get it moving . So , get it moving . Wiggle that toe. cautiously circle your wrist .

2) Have you rubbed it ? Rubbing , massaging kneading sore muscles helps . Try it

3) Have you gently stretched it . It helps . A lot ,

4) Heat and ice . Painful parts respond very well to ice ( in a plastic bag or a kool pack ) and heat ( normally by a wheat sack ) .

5) BLG: or basic lifestyle guidelines ! Are you eating well , do you get some sleep , are you avoiding alcohol are you moderating stress ? It all helps

6) Positive attitude . Recovery very much depends on your positive attitude . Get a positive attitude !

Exercise and Asthma (PAAP)

Whilst a written asthma plan,  hasn’t had the life-changing results it was hoped for, spending some time reflecting on your asthma, or in my case, the asthma of my clients’, seems sort of sensible.

A key aim of asthma care is to empower each person to take control of his or her own condition. A personalised asthma action plan (PAAP), also known as a written action plan, an individualised action plan, or a self‐management action plan, contributes to this endeavour. A PAAP includes individualised self‐management instructions devised collaboratively with the patient to help maintain asthma control and regain control in the event of an exacerbation. A PAAP includes baseline characteristics (such as lung function), maintenance medication and instructions on how to respond to increasing symptoms and when to seek medical help”.

Here is a link to help you create your own Asthma plan


I’ve decided to share as much of my programming as possible, where possible. as I write for clients, I’ll post outlines here. Obviously, this won’t be the total programme as that will include warm-up ideas, mobility,  cardio, mental work, but, I thought, its good to share, even if it’s just a bit. Many of my City of London clients will go on to a 20-minute boxing session, for cardio, stress relief,  but also mental training under pressure.

This programme is basically a good spread of functional, compound movements for the legs, with upper back work for posture, and arm stuff, well, for Saturday night!

I’ll cycle between 5, 10, 15 reps, but be open to the mood and workload of my clients

Day 1

A) lunge plus Bulgarian split squat

B) Pull up 5 sets: some of these are wide grip for back development

Day 2
A) Deadlift:
B)  upper body is bench, bar/dumbbell
C) floor flaps for upper back
D) Dragon flag
 Day 3
A) Squat;
B) upper body building moves ( bicep/tri/shoulders)
C) upper back D/B rows
D) Burpees : ideally, build up to  4 minutes of burpees
So start every minute on the minute, start at say 3-5 a minute for 4 minutes. build week by week

Run 400m, then rest, then go again!

This doesn’t seem that difficult a task.

400m, is, after all, 400m, but there are several interesting questions: what race are you actually training for, and what energy system do you want to train.

Let’s talk about energy systems

Whoever invented the human body was a bit of a ‘worry puss’– they felt that one energy system just wasn’t safe enough. Rather like the householder who has a real fire place, electric storage heaters and gas central heating. Some would call that greedy, but a cautious person would call it prudent..

The human body has three energy systems.

One for fast reactive movement (diving under a car to save your three-year-old toddler),

A slower, more extended, but still, a pretty snappy system (for running 350 metres, then diving under a car to save your three-year-old toddler).

Finally, there is the long-term ‘trickle’ energy system (the one you use while shoe shopping, running 5k, miles away from any toddlers)

For people who have little experience of toddlers, these ‘metabolic engines’ are known as the:


Phosphagen pathway,

Glycolytic pathway,

Oxidative pathway.

■ The first, the phosphagen, dominates the highest-powered activities (100-metre sprint), those that last less than about ten seconds.
■ The second pathway, the glycolytic, dominates moderate-powered activities, those that last up to several minutes (400-800 metre run).
■ The third pathway, the oxidative, dominates low-powered activities, those that last in excess of several minutes (5k run, walking, shopping).

They all use slightly different energy producing mechanisms, which isn’t the subject of this article.  The subject is, how long do you need to leave it between goes?

Think of 100m, you can run that “balls to the wall” or you could jog it.



Here is the question. How soon could you do it again at the same pace?

So let’s say you run 100m (flat out, the fastest you’ve ever done) in 20 seconds* and collapse in a hysterical sobbing heap as you hyperventilate, and drool. If I make you go straight back, you’ll possibly stagger back in 30/40 seconds, while whining annoyingly!


So if you used the phosphagen pathway, I suspect you’ll need  11 times your time to recover. If you run 100m in 20 seconds, you probably need 220 seconds to recover to attempt the same pace again.

A simple principle is this, the slower you go, the less recovery you need, so, if you were to run 400m in 2 minutes, you probably want a 1-2-1 work rest period, so run 400m in 2 mins, rest 2 mins.

This helps you monitor consistency, otherwise, so some argue, you are not training or developing pace and capacity.  If you run 400m in 1.40, mini/erratic rest 1.50, mini/erratic rest,  2.00 mini/erratic rest 2.10 the argument is that you are simply surviving, not training.

So 2 take-home points

  1. Training needs non-emotional work and consistency to be successful
  2. It’s always the distance, plus the time it took you, plus the effective rest periods


( *for the sports pedants among you, if you run 100m in 20 seconds it’s not really phosphagen is probably a mix of what some call Anaerobic Alactic Endurance/ capacity, but the principle will hold for now)



How to break your concept 2 rower

As part of the management team of a CrossFit facility in the UK, I always struggled to understand how anyone could break the front stand of a concept 2.

However, I have now discovered a very clever way of incurring hundreds of extra pounds worth of repair bills and putting your concept 2 rowers out of service for days, sometimes weeks on end.

Here is how


To break* your concept 2 ,  put your foot on the front foot and hold it down. If you are fussy about where you put your foot, try heavy sandbags, or maybe even weights.

This will really screw it up.

I sent the above picture to  Concept 2 to be sure.

Here is their response

“Hello, in short the legs are meant to be moved freely, by putting bags on, standing on etc… you’re putting excess pressure on bolts/joints, allowing the machine to move slightly is okay.  If the machine is moving a lot it is likely technique that needs improving.  Rolling them around constantly or storing on end can also do a lot of wear and tear.”

Consider yourself told.

*This was not my 1st choice of words

My name is Andrew Stemler and I’m probably the East London personal trainer you have been looking for. Email me Andrew@crossfitlondon uk.com




Teeth Grinding

If you grind your teeth, you are probably pretty screwed.

Once you work through people trying to sell you shit stuff and quacks offering naturalistic   potions, blessed by saints,  you probably need to read “ current treatments of Bruxism” by Guaitia and Hogl.  Read it here https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4761372/

Here is the conclusion

“In the absence of a causal treatment, the management of bruxism focuses to prevent progression of dental wear, reduce teeth grinding sounds, and improve muscle discomfort and mandibular dysfunction in the most severe cases.

Counselling and behavioral strategies, splint therapy, medications, and contingent electrical stimulation have shown heterogeneous results in resolving the EMG events associated with sleep bruxism, and most of the RCT did not evaluate the effects on other symptoms such as pain or tooth wear progression. Long-term studies with a wide severity spectrum of sleep bruxism patients, and comparing the effect of different treatments should be performed to elucidate the importance of each intervention in the resolution of the signs and symptoms commonly referred by the patients. The choice of not treating bruxism must also be further explored, at least in asymptomatic patients with only mild dental wear. Even more must be done to successfully treat awake bruxism, in which RCTs are still lacking”

Or read  my executive summary.


However, as it says , its  “still reasonable to recommend good sleep hygiene in clinical practice, especially considering that alcohol, tobacco, and coffee consumption are risk factors for sleep bruxism  and that sensitivity to stress is commonly reported by the patients”

The good news is there is a Bruxism Association. They  basically, want to shove stuff in your mouth


I think it exists more to support dentists, but it could be rallying support to promote further research

More good news could be that the Bruxism association supports  feel good happy solutions.  “ General relaxation techniques including meditation are supposed to produce a sense of self-esteem and control over one’s body”. The draw back , however, for anyone with even the vaguest grip on reality is  “there is no current literature regarding the efficacy of this holistic approach to the management of bruxism”

That said  I suspect I have to join in and say, cut down the drugs, try and de-stress and meditate a bit . And yes, I  can taste sick in my mouth for saying that.


BTW: my name is Andrew Stemler and I’m an East London personal trainer and massage therapist. You can book me by emailing me  Andrew@crossfitlondonuk.com