90/90 Hip lift and balloon fun: the beginning

Most hardcore breathing athletes do “Balloon Breathing”  hanging off a pull up bar. As a matter of history, here is the original 90/90 hip lift breathing drill that’s discussed by Boyle et al ( 2010)

  1. Lie on your back,  feet flat on the wall, knees and hips bent at a 90- degree angle.
  2. Place a 4-6 inch ball between your knees. I’m tough so I use a nice cushion.
  3. Place your right arm above your head and a balloon in your left hand.
  4. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, performing a pelvic tilt so that your tailbone is raised slightly off the mat. Keep your back flat on the mat. Do not press your feet flat into the wall instead dig down with your heels. You should feel your hamstrings “engage”
  5. Breath in through your nose and slowly blow out into the balloon.
  6. Pause three seconds with your tongue on the roof of your mouth .
  7. Without pinching the neck of the balloon and keeping your tongue on the roof of your mouth, take another breath in through your nose. ( the first few times you do this is slightly tricky)
  8. Slowly blow out  into the balloon again.
  9. Do not strain your neck or cheeks .
  10. The original instructions say “After the fourth breath in, pinch the balloon neck and remove it from your mouth.Let the air out of the balloon”. Frankly, i just open my mouth and let it fly around the room ( I have a pile of balloons to hand so I don’t have to move to get another one. My girlfriend says this is  annoying.
  11. Relax and repeat the sequence 4 more times.


You can checkout more materials at the Postural Rehabilitation Organisation


90/90 breathing was designed to optimise breathing and enhance posture and core stability. The idea being this would improve improve function and/or decrease pain (Boyle et al., 2010, ).

The 90/90 rests on a concept  called the zone of apposition (ZOA) of the diaphragm, which is the part of the muscle shaped like a dome.  In simple terms “MORE DOME GOOD”

If the ZOA is decreased the ability of the diaphragm to inhale sufficient air in a correct way is diminished.  This affects the diaphragms ability to build up  intra abdominal pressure.  If the ZOA is decreased The transversus abdominis activation also decreases with a smaller ZOA (Boyle et al, 2010), which again affects lumbar stabilisation ability .

The set up of 90/90  aligns the pelvic floor and diaphragm in parallel. This combats any upper and lower cross syndromes, and lumbar extension. This results in  the core muscles being fired which increases the ZOA and adds to core stability. As an exercise in the obvious,  dysfunctional breathing and physical activity  takes up the main breathing muscles and throws the load on to smaller muscles and makes life harder. However, according to Lukas  (2018) there is little evidence in terms of studies to support this, although it sounds like a reasonable assumption. However,  the Lukas  study does seem to caste doubt on 90/90 as core stabilisation method

“Taken together, the 90/90 breathing seems rather ineffective as a general core activation for a normal workout.” (Lukas , 2018 page 35). but checkout these drills by Buteyko and these other breathing drills

I think some attention to basic breathing drills is probably useful, but its more relevant if you obviously have a breathing disfunction .

Why not practice on the tube  (not with the balloon ,obviously)



Alverdes, Lukas  (2018) .Short-term effects of 90/90 breathing with ball and balloon on core stability. Halmstad University


Boyle, K. L., Olinick, J., & Lewis, C. (2010). The value of blowing up a balloon. North American journal of sports physical therapy: NAJSPT, 5(3), 179.


Rest periods

I keep on meaning to create a post with this timing  information in:

These are estimates of how long a set of reps takes, followed by the ideal rest periods between sets.

The chances are that 1-5 reps  takes  0-20 seconds , with 1-2 reps needing 300 to 240 seconds rest  and 3-5 reps needing 240-180 seconds to recover

If you are doing 6-8 reps, the chances are it takes 20-40 seconds and you need rest of 180-120 seconds between sets.

If you are doing 9-12 reps the chances are it takes 40-70 seconds and you need to leave 120-90 seconds

If you do 13-20+ reps, chances are it takes 50-120 seconds and your rest period could be 90-10 seconds.

Rest periods can really support or screw your training

Workplace related violence

Whilst lots of people claim to understand workplace violence, its as well to get your head around the basic statistical picture.

Here is is, from the horses mouth

The HSE report on workplace violence

Violence is rarely out of the blue. It often has a clear pathway of development.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

Edmund Burke

For help with your London  security and self defence needs, drop me an email


Breath holding C02 and stuff

The problem , or joy, of fitness is that it often can, or should, take you back to those basic physics, chemistry and biology lessons you had at school.

When discussing aerobic and anaerobic fitness, these days, you’ll quickly come across the bohr effect, whether or not  you actually remember it. And you should.

The Bohr effect, according to wikipedia

increases the efficiency of oxygen transportation through the blood. After hemoglobin binds to oxygen in the lungs due to the high oxygen concentrations, the Bohr effect facilitates its release in the tissues, particularly those tissues in most need of oxygen. When a tissue’s metabolic rate increases, so does its carbon dioxide waste production. When released into the bloodstream, carbon dioxide forms bicarbonate and protons through the following reaction:

{\displaystyle {\ce {CO2 + H2O <=> H2CO3 <=> H+ + HCO3^-}}}{\displaystyle {\ce {CO2 + H2O <=> H2CO3 <=> H+ + HCO3^-}}}

Although this reaction usually proceeds very slowly, the enzyme carbonic anhydrase (which is present in red blood cells) drastically speeds up the conversion to bicarbonate and protons.[2] This causes the pH of the blood to decrease, which promotes the dissociation of oxygen from haemoglobin, and allows the surrounding tissues to obtain enough oxygen to meet their demands. In areas where oxygen concentration is high, such as the lungs, binding of oxygen causes haemoglobin to release protons, which recombine with bicarbonate to eliminate carbon dioxide during exhalation. These opposing protonation and deprotonation reactions occur at an equal rate, resulting in little overall change in blood pH.

The Bohr effect enables the body to adapt to changing conditions and makes it possible to supply extra oxygen to tissues that need it the most. For example, when muscles are undergoing strenuous activity, they require large amounts of oxygen to conduct cellular respiration, which generates CO2 (and therefore HCO3 and H+) as byproducts. These waste products lower the pH of the blood, which increases oxygen delivery to the active muscles. Carbon dioxide is not the only molecule that can trigger the Bohr effect. If muscle cells aren’t receiving enough oxygen for cellular respiration, they resort to lactic acid fermentation, which releases lactic acid as a byproduct. This increases the acidity of the blood far more than CO2 alone, which reflects the cells’ even greater need for oxygen. In fact, under anaerobic conditions, muscles generate lactic acid so quickly that pH of the blood passing through the muscles will drop to around 7.2, which causes haemoglobin to begin releasing roughly 10% more oxygen.[2]

The net result of this is an increasing interest in the management and training of Co2 tolerance.  as according to Conscious breathing.com CO2  has many important functions

  • AntibacterialA study at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden showed that the growth of staphylococci was 1,000 times higher when the bacteria were exposed to normal air for 24 hours, compared with exposure to air saturated with 100 percent CO2.
  • Increased oxygenation. Carbon dioxide forces the oxygen to leave the blood so it can enter into our muscles and organs and be of use. This is called the Bohr effect, ( you see, it was worth reading that paragraph)
  • Widens smooth muscles. CO2 has a widening and relaxing effect on our smooth muscles. These muscles are found in our blood vessels, stomach, intestines, bladder, and womb can’t be controlled by our will.

Naturally the alternative health market claims loads of extra things: increased CO2 tolerance cleans the skin, cures cancer, boosts digestion, cures/prevents dementia, builds your bones, blah, blah, so  this  accounts for the focus on breathing in witchcraft , various religions and yoga,

However, wild claims aside, Who knew. the hippies were right.

So to start you off, here is an interesting totally safe way to start, its called  4 count breathing. Simply inhale to a count of four, hold for a count of four, exhale for a count of four, and hold with empty lungs for a count of four. and build up the time you do this. Free diving had introduced many more periodisation types of  breathing exercises but you need to be cautious when doing them especially if you are competitive and inclined to try and hold you breath for 3 minutes out of the blue,  ” cause i heard that was a good figure”

Obviously, I’ll guide you through  effective  breathing and  help you build up your C02 tolerance


contact Andrew@crossfitlondonuk.com

Milk: all trainers should have a position!

It seems that for some, milk is the spunk of the devil.

For me, as an old trainer ( 58) milk is what Margaret Thatcher took away from us primary children ( and with it, my early role as class milk monitor)

But, all my life I’ve been told that milk is good for you.  Its a core component of nutrition. But it’s so often attacked, I thought I’d do this research.

I looked up

Milk and dairy products: good or bad for human health? An assessment of the totality of scientific evidence.

See abstract here

It basically concluded that “The totality of available scientific evidence supports that intake of milk and dairy products contribute to meet nutrient recommendations and may protect against the most prevalent chronic diseases, whereas very few adverse effects have been reported”

Obviously, if you are allergic to milk, or don’t like it,  don’t have it. But don’t bitch about it, or make shit up about it. Sure some cows are pumped full of hormones.

but, according to nutrition advice.com

  • “A food safety review demonstrated that recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbGH) is not biologically active in humans. Furthermore, the concentration of the hormone insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) found in hormone-treated cow’s milk is no more than that of breast milk (10).
  • Levels of IGF-1 in the human digestive tract are many hundreds of times larger than the concentrations found in hormone-treated milk. Additionally, oral consumption of IGF-1 appears to have no biological activity (11).

In other words, even if people do get traces of hormones through consuming milk, it will likely have no effect.”

However, the protein is complete, its full of vitamins and minerals has fat and carb, so an all-round great snack.

So, it’s still a free society. If you don’t like it, go and drink something else.


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