The Gazette's new columnist, former Gladiator star Panther (Helen O'Reilly), offers her top tips on making your trip to the gym as worthwhile as possible, including the importance of drinking enough water and how you can safely train with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes.

Hi Panther,

I AM a self employed electrician and find it very difficult after breakfast to make myself stop working to have breaks for food; I don't even stop to have a drink most days.

I am a 44-year-old body builder and train four times a week.

I need some advice as I don't seem to be making "gains" like my training partner, who is able to stop for his breaks.

I do take in lots of protein before work and after my workout and again in the evenings. I also take supplements like creatine, fish oils, multi-vitamins and protein powder.

Thanks, Delroy from Twickenham

WELL Delroy, I must say I do understand your predicament because I run my own business and feel the same need to just keep going.

However, I cannot stress to you the importance of stopping for breaks and making sure you get your fluid intake up, especially water!

Top facts about drinking water for body builders:

* Sixty-five to seventy per cent of our bodies are made up of water.

* Water is needed for every single metabolic process including protein synthesis, so if your training is suffering, the easiest thing you can do to assist it is to drink more water.

* Doctors advise six to eight glasses per day, but when you're training as hard as you say you are, you will need to drink at least another four glasses per day.

* Water flushes out toxins. If you're on a high protein diet it is important to remove excess nitrogen and ketones. If you aim to gain muscular weight, then you need even more water to help your kidneys do their work.

* If you don't drink sufficient water the kidneys can't function properly. When this happens the load is transferred to the liver. The liver metabolises stored fat for energy, so if the liver is doing some of the kidney's work, it burns less fat.

* Drinking water half an hour before a meal can actually reduce feelings of hunger. In lots of cases people mistake thirst for hunger

* You can help your water retention by drinking more water! You may have water retention because of too much salt in your diet. The higher the sodium intake, the more the body tries to retain water to dilute its concentration. Either increase water intake or reduce salt.

* Supplements such as Creatine work by pulling water into the muscle cells, creating an anabolic environment needed for growth. Many supplements are water soluble and water unlocks the power of those vitamins.

 * Water helps digestion as well as circulation.

Delroy, it's easy and cheap. Happy drinking. Hope it helps.

Dear Helen

I HAVE recently been diagnosed with diabetes and wonder if I should carry on training, or will this do me more harm?

The doctor said I need to keep my blood sugars down and I wonder whether training will affect me. I love training and would hate to have to give it up.

I hope you can give me some advice.

Franklin, Hounslow

HI Franklin.

Good news!! Yes you can train, it will do you good.

As long as your doctor has advised you on any medication and you keep a check on your blood sugar levels, you will be helping control your diabetes.

All forms of exercise have been shown to reduce the risks and complications with diabetes.

Resistance (weight) training in particular is crucial, as exercising the muscles increases the need to use glucose for energy.

You must also keep a keen eye on your diet, but you can live your life like anyone else, just make sure that you keep checking those blood sugar levels regularly throughout the day.

Keep on training, Franklin, and stay well!