Bionic Commandos week 3

The sets and reps for Snatch, Squat, Clean & Jerk / Push Press and Dead-Lift are as follows:

Warm up 1-2 sets 50% 1rm x 8

75% x 5, 85% x 3, 95% x 1


  • Snatch – see above
  • Squat – see above
  • Pull-Ups – Do 50% of your current max reps then rest 45. Repeat until a total of 30 reps is reached.


  • Clean & Jerk / Push Press – see above
  • Dead-Lift – see above
  • Dips – Do 50% of your current max reps then rest 45s. Repeat until a total of 50 reps is reached.

Go to the Program Summary page to see the whole program with links to video demonstrations of the exercises.

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5 Paleo Recipes for Beginners

Going primal needn’t be as wacky or as arduous as you might at first think. Working on the principles of eating low carbs with plenty of good fats and protein it is easy to tweak existing favourite recipes to make them Paleo. I’ve known many people lose 6 or 7 lbs of fat in their first 2 weeks on a Paleo diet. In a previous post I covered how a Paleo meal plan might look. To try it out for a for a 2 week period you only need a handful of recipes. Here are 5 easy Primal takes on classic recipes to get you started.


Soups, stews and casseroles are ideal Paleo food. What’s more they can be ‘batch’ cooked and kept in the fridge or freezer to save you cooking time later.

‘Bone broths’ where meat is cooked on the bone in stock provide an excellent source of minerals.

Middle Eastern Chicken and Apricot Stew

Paleo Morrocan Chicken

Paleo Morrocan Chicken

  • olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp root ginger, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 6 chicken pieces, thighs and or drumsticks
  • 2 tsp baharat or ras-el-hanout spice blend (look for Bart spices in the supermarket)
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 medium courgettes, chopped
  • 10 ready-to-eat apricots, finely chopped
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 750ml chicken stock
  • a handful of mint or coriander (or both), chopped
  • a handful of pomegranate seeds (optional)


  1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan.
  2. Add the onion, ginger and garlic, and season and cook for 8 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the spice blend and apricots and stir briefly.
  5. Add in 750ml of stock and the sweet potato. Bring to a boil then turn down and simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Add the courgettes and cook gently for a further 5 minutes. Stir in the herbs, lemon juice and pomegranate seeds, if using.


Roast dinners are ideal Paleo food and a good size joint of meat will provide meals for a couple of days. yhey are easy to prepare and versatile. Just use whatever vegetables are in season to accompany your choice of meat.

Honey Roast Gammon

  • gammon joint, smoked or un-smoked
  • seasonal root vegetables e.g. parsnips carrots, squash, sweet potatoes
  • seasonal green vegetables e.g. leeks, broccoli, cabbage, kale
  • cloves
  • honey
  • olive oil or butter


  1. Place the gammon joint in a roasting pan. Press a dozen or so cloves into the gammon and spoon on some honey.
  2. Cover and place in the oven on 175c until cooked through (at least 45 minutes) depending on the size of the joint.
  3. Peel and slice the root vegetables. Brush with oil or butter and season. Place in another roasting dish in the oven, turning occasionally. These will cook a little quicker than the gammon.
  4. Chop and steam the green vegetables.
  5. Serve with a good quality gravy or the liquid from the gammon roasting pan.


Stir fry meals or Thai style curries can be easy to prepare and a great way to enjoy plenty of fresh vegetables. Just replace noodles with courgette zoodles or rice with shredded cauliflower.

Thai red curry with zoodles

This is a versatile dish and vegetables or meats can be substituted to suit. Using vegetables like aubergine or sweet potato give the meal a more stew like feel suitable for a main meal, without it is more like a soup ideal for a light lunch.

  • 200g jar red curry paste
  • 1 400g tin coconut milk or 200g block of creamed coconut dissolved in 400ml warm water
  • 500g chicken or white fish
  • 1 bunch spring onion, thinly sliced
  • 150g peas
  • 1 medium aubergine, quartered lengthways and thinly sliced
  • 3 medium courgettes (zucchini)


  1. Gently heat the curry paste in a large saucepan with a little water until it begins to boil.
  2. When the paste is hot add the chicken or fish and cook for 5 minutes turning frequently.
  3. Add the aubergine and coconut milk. Season and cook until aubergine begins to soften.
  4. Add the spring onion and peas and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, ‘zoodle’ or thinly slice the courgettes lengthways. Steam or stir-fry until cooked but still a little firm.
  6. Serve the curry on top of the zoodles.


Cauliflower mash can be used as a lower carb and lower GI replacement for mashed white potato in many meals. Think cottage pie, shepherds pie, bangers and mash…

Cottage Pie

paleo cottage pie

paleo cottage pie

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 500g (approx) mince beef or turkey mince
  • 400g can tomatoes
  • 300ml beef stock
  • Fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 large cauliflower
  • butter


  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion and carrot and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes until soft.
  3. Add the minced beef and cook for 3 minutes to brown.
  4. Add the tomatoes, purée, beef stock, bay leaf and thyme.
  5. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, then season.
  6. Meanwhile, to make the topping, boil the cauliflower in water until soft. Drain and mash with the butter using a potato masher or hand blender and season.
  7. Spoon the meat into an ovenproof dish. Top with the mash and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.


Primal eating typically involves meat, fish or eggs with almost every meal. If you want a change and will tolerate a little cheese in your cave-person life style, try this roast squash and feta recipe.

Roast Butternut Squash & Feta Cheese

  • 3 small butternut squash , about 600g each
  • olive oil
  • 1 large aubergine (eggplant) chopped into chunks
  • 3 onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1½ tsp sweet paprika
  • a pinch cayenne pepper
  • 225g feta cheese, crumbled
  • 60g pine nuts
  • 3 tbsp chopped mint
  • 3 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • seeds from ½ pomegranate


  1. Wash the butternut squash and carefully cut it in half length-ways. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and fibrous centre and discard. Put the squash halves on a baking tray cut- side up, drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil, season and roast at 200C for approx 35 minutes or until the flesh is tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
  2. When the squash is cool enough to handle scoop out some flesh, leaving a border of 1cm, then roughly chop the flesh and put it in a bowl. (This can be done in advance).
  3. Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan, add the onions and garlic and cook until beginning to caramelise, about 10 minutes. Add the spices and cook for two minutes more. Add the aubergine and 300ml of hot water and simmer for until the aubergine begins to soften (most of the water should be absorbed).
  4. Add the reserved squash until it is warmed through.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir through the feta, pine nuts, herbs and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Again the filling could be made ahead of time and the squash re-heated as required).
  6. Spoon the mixture equally between squash halves and cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Serve sprinkled with pomegranate seeds.


Remember, breakfast is just another meal. Nothing special, don’t get hung up on it…

Eggs in their many forms are an ideal Paleo breakfast. Whether its omelettes, scrambled or boiled, combine with a few veggies and breakfast can be thrown together in a few minutes. That said, personally I can’t be eating eggs everyday and still have a social life. My number one choice therefore is grilled kippers and mushrooms. Kippers are inexpensive and a good source of omega 3 fats. The boil in the bag variety work fine grilled.

Grilled Kippers

  • kippers
  • mushrooms
  • avocado
  • butter


  1. Place kippers under a medium grill with some chopped mushrooms. Add a little butter if desired to the kippers.
  2. Turn the mushrooms to ensure they cook evenly.
  3. Remove from the grill once cooked (less than 10 minutes).
  4. Serve with a couple of slices of avocado.

Okay, this should have got you started. For more inspiration do a quick internet search on ‘Paleo / Primal recipes’ or check two of my favourite recipe sites:

Health Bent

Mark’s Daily Apple

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Bionic Commandos week 2

The sets and reps for Snatch, Squat, Clean & Jerk / Push Press and Dead-Lift are as follows:

Warm up 1-2 sets 50% 1rm x 8

80% x 3, 85% x 3, 90% x 3


  • Snatch – see above
  • Squat – see above
  • Pull-Ups –

Do 50% of your current max reps then rest 60s. Repeat until a total of 30 reps is reached


  • Clean & Jerk / Push Press – see above
  • Dead-Lift – see above
  • Dips –

Do 50% of your current max reps then rest 60s. Repeat until a total of 50 reps is reached.

Go to the Program Summary page to see the whole program with links to video demonstrations of the exercises.

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Paleo Low-Carb Grain Replacements

Switch grains for vegetables

If you make the decision to remove grains from your diet you may find yourself looking at the empty third of your dinner plate and wondering what should take up the space where the rice, pasta, couscous or bread used to be.

Grains can add texture to a meal but mostly they are a cost effective way of filling yourself up and providing energy. Not only can grains have negative effects on nutrition they will generally provide more calories and carbs with less nutrients than many vegetables when consumed in an equal volumes. For example:

  • 100g cauliflower, cooked 23kcal, carbohydrate 4g
  • 100g brown rice, cooked, 111kcal, carbohydrate 23g

The simplest answer is to try to replace grains with vegetables, so here are some ideas:

Replace noodles with zoodles!

Use a mandolin slicer to quickly turn courgettes (zucchini) into a noodle like substitute that can be steamed or stir-friend in minutes. Mandolin slicers and spiral vegetable slicers are available on amazon for under £20, and can turn vegetables into noodle and pasta like shapes quickly and easily.

primal low-carb grain replacements zoodles


Replace rice with cauliflower, or root vegetables

Primal risotto can be made with grated or shredded root vegetables like turnip or parsnip. What’s more is it quicker to cook and doesn’t require the constant stirring that rice based risotto does. Vegetables can be ‘riced’ with a hand grater or by using the shred setting on a food processor. Try this primal risotto recipe or invent your own variation.

Missing your mom’s rice pudding after Sunday dinner? This is an excellent recipe for Paleo ‘rice’ pudding using the trusty cauliflower.

Replace spaghetti with spaghetti squash

Amazing, a squash that contains ready made vegetable spaghetti on the inside! These are pretty hard to find inUKsupermarkets but they are available from specialist growers online. Urban farming collectives are increasing in popularity and often cater to very specific local user needs. Alternatively, buy some seeds and start the spaghetti squash revolution!

Primal porridge

One of the most common objections I hear to giving up grains goes something like this: ‘I couldn’t live without my porridge in the morning. Aren’t whole grains good for me all of a sudden?’

Whatever your breakfast of choice, it is often a form of comfort food that eases you into the day especially on cold winter mornings. Few have the time for elaborate meal preparation before work, hence the popularity of those cleverly marketed convenience foods; breakfast cereals. Many people eat the same breakfast day in, day out, often wholegrain based. Imagine eating the same lunch or dinner every day. Any wonder food intolerances are on the rise? So vary it up and think of breakfast as a meal like any other.

There’s a tonne of Paleo porridge ideas available online proving that it’s a common dilemma. I’ve tried a few; the ones involving ground nuts are generally a bit more time consuming to make and über- calorie dense. Again look to replace grains with vegetables or even fruit where possible. Here are two of the best ones I have found:

Squash porridge

Fruit & nut porridge

primal low-carb cauliflower mash

cauliflower puree

Don’t forget the cauliflower mash

Not a grain I know, but white potatoes are a poor dietary choice despite their widespread use since Walter Raleigh helpfully introduced them to European diets after discovering them in North America in 1587. (Although they were first eaten by pre-Columbian people up to 7000 years ago.)  White potatoes are high on the glycaemic index, meaning they cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels, and contain 69 kcal and 17g of carbohydrate per 100g, compared to cauliflower’s 23kal and 4g of carbohydrate. So boil up those caulis, add some butter and get mashing.

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Bionic Commandos week 1

The sets and reps for Snatch, Squat, Clean & Jerk / Push Press and Dead-Lift are as follows:

Warm up 1-2 sets 50% 1rm x 8

75% x 5, 80% x 5, 85% x 5

Strength 1

  • Snatch – as above
  • Squat – as above
  • Pull-Ups – 3 sets of max reps

Strength 2

  • Clean & Jerk / Push Press – as above
  • Dead Lift – as above
  • Dips – 3 sets of max reps

Go to the Program Summary page to see the whole program with links to video demonstrations of the exercises.

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Bionic Commandos


Bench Marks

Aim to be able to complete The Christmas Pudding Test with correct form for the set number of reps of all exercises. When you can complete the test properly, the next goal is to be able to complete it in under 10 minutes.

Re-test your 1 rep max for squat, dead-lift, and chosen overhead lifts at the end of every four week period.

There are only three circuits this month to be completed in rotation 2 to 3 times per week. You can time these to monitor progress.

Aim to be able to hold a plank for 2 minutes and side planks for 90s before progressing to the other core exercises.


Continue to use the Wendler 5,3,1 rep system for 4 weeks. I will post up the reps each week with some pull-up and dip variations.

Session 1

Session 2


Complete 2 to 3 circuits per week. Keep rotating through the three circuits over the 4 week program. Each circuit can be completed in 10 to 20 minutes. Aim to complete each circuit in your best time.

Circuit 1 – Pick your poison

Use 60% 1 rep max on weighted exercises. Use either; barbell, dbs or kbs.

  • Clean x 5
  • Front Squat x 5
  • Push Press x 5
  • Pull Ups x 10
  • Repeat x 3

Circuit 2 – King of the swingers

  • Kettlebell Swings (heavy)
  • Press Ups
  • Lateral Box Jumps
  • Repeat x 3
  • 30 / 50 / 20 reps of each per set

Circuit 3 – Jumping Jaffar

Use a weight with which you can perform 10 overhead squats correctly.

  • Barbell Overhead Squat x 10
  • Barbell Clean & Press into Press Up x 10
  • Squat-Thrust into Jump Pull-Up x 10
  • Burpee Box-Jump x 10
  • Repeat x 4


Core exercises should be performed after a strength session or circuit. Practice planks 2 to 3 times per week until the following times are achieved.

Plank (2 minutes)

Side-Planks (1.5 minutes)

Once planks can be performed as above choose from the following exercises once per week whilst continuing with the planks once per week. Choose one hip flexion movement and one rotation movement. Complete 3 sets of 10 of each exercise, adding resistance if necessary.




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It’s re-test week. The Christmas man-belly and the cheese baby have hopefully been chased away now. Simply complete the pre-program fitness test. For a reminder of the exercises click here: The Christmas Pudding Test. Also retest your 1 rep max for dead-lift, squat and overhead lift of choice. Progress is the name of the game.

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