Friday, 29 July 2011


Hi all,

Since i wrote last i have been keeping it busy... writing for fitnorama (Learning from the pro's -Part 2: Martin Rooney). I you dont know is an online fitness E-zine with articles from 'in-the-trenches' PTs and coaches on all contemporary gym stuff. My learning from the pros series (in my opinon) is a really great way to see how the top coaches train people, the cliff notes for their brains if you will. Check it out if you want an alternative fitness read direct to your Iphone.

My blog today is short-ish and sweet-ish. Its about 'experts'. When and how can people call themselves experts? I have a theory i will share later.

Real-life situations:

Newbie trainee is looking to put some mass on and wants someone to train with, he looks around and sees the biggest guy in the gym and asks his advice, he assumes that he is the 'muscle building' expert, right?

Client walks into the gym and wants to get in amazing shape, he seeks out the leanest, best looking trainer and assumes they are the 'fat-loss' expert, correct? (thats a tougher call)

What are you thoughts on that?

"You must complete 10,000 hours of anything to become an expert" Mike Boyle

Very rarely do i disgaree with the great man but that would mean we were all eating experts by now? And im pretty sure there are guys still performing crap gym sessions year-after-year which are far from 'expert'.

Anyway, my theory about being an expert is about 'transformation' and going against genetics, hear me out.

Take Vince DelMonte:

Self named "Skinny Vinny"

Now, IFBB pro physique competitor

Take Eric Cressey:

The worlds thinnest man (and picture!)

Result = Muscle Building expert

Turned into a World record holding powerlifter

Result = Strength training expert

There are many more examples im sure but these are 2 of my favourites because its 2 guys in the industry who have turned themselves into world class 'experts' of their respective fields by personally transforming.


The leanest guys in the gym may be born like that - (i see enough ripped dudes doing crappy workouts to suggest that this is real!), the biggest guy in the gym may be taking steroids (or may just be naturally big people). Therefore these guys/girls are not 'experts' they are just fortunate to naturally possess the gifts that you want.

Find out what people have done and how they got to where they are today - it will give you a much better opinion of whether they are an 'expert' at something or just lucky that they picked the right parents!

Friday, 15 July 2011

Mens health/fitness magazines are a waste of money!

Hi all,

I have been thinking of a new approach for the blog. Im trying to post as many original ideas as i can. A short while back i read Mens Health and couldn't help but feel like i'd wasted money because i had read all the same articles before.

- Eat quinoa for better carbs
- The best chest workout ever
- How to get Abs this summer

And so on... It never changes. So firstly i will plug the E-zine i write for as i genuinely believe its as good a fitness read as you'll find today. Simply, because its 'in the trenches' PTs writing about contemporary gym issues. We all know by now that quinoa is good for us!

Anyway the real blog title is 'Man in the mirror'.

Heee Heee! Shamon mutha-fucka!

But its (unfortunately) nothing to do with Leigh Francis' amazing "Bo Selecta" MJ puppet! Its about training goals.

What are you training for?

Not really sure, General fitness, Weight gain, Fat loss.

All standard answers but how do you decide on this? How do you genuinely know. Im gonna introduce a new way of goal setting called 'man in the mirror'. (told you i was making up new shit didn't I?)

Now if you have answered the above question with:

"Im only training for performance, i dont care what i look like"

I would say thats great, but i would also not believe you. Everyone (to some degree) would love to look at themselves and see a great physique. Everyone.

If you disagree, make a comment. But before you do, ask yourself this - If you don't get paid to compete/perform... what the hell are you spending that much time training/dieting for? Dont answer 'my health' because i don't believe that one either!

Its just my opinion but i think 99% people train to look good, the other 1% are professional competitors or taking the moral high road for no apparent reason - just admit it. Personal confession 1:

I started training when i was 14 (in my garage) to get girls attention...

Thats right Monkey man, deal with that.

But I digress...

Man in the mirror exercise

Step 1: Stand in front of a full length mirror with just underwear on. Obviously, at home and not in Debenhams! They dont like that too much.

Step 2: Be brutally honest with what you like/dont like.

- This can be a great way to choose a goal for all sorts of people from Bodybuilders, Women, Overweight, underweight, etc.

If you cant be brutally honest, then get a friend/*spouse who will have an impartial opinion.

*Spouse opinions do carry a severe health warning, probably best a friend does it!

"I meant your ass looks 'nice' and big"

What to expect/What to do?

Think your too thin? Have a look at adding 500-1500 calories of quality food to your daily menu.

Think your too fat? Add in extra cardio sessions and/or change your training to a more metabolic nature

Legs too small? Construct a training program that emphasises lower body.

Upper body too small? Construct a training program the emphasises upper body.

Look like shit? analyse your diet/work/sleep/lifestyle patterns. Make changes for improved health

You can be as specific as you want, only YOU truly know what you want to look like. Identify it and train accordingly.

Personal confession 2: Last week i tried this out and my honest assessment on myself was:

(Ultimate training goal: to get back to single digit BF% and stay there).

Mirror exercise showed:

1) Legs are good size possibly too big for the rest of the body, need to lean out if anything

Include seated bike in training program

2) Bodyfat ok but needs to go down again - *Major Goal*

Add in metabolic/cardio sessions, also 'wind-in' the diet to more strict - little or no alcohol for next month.

3) Shoulders need more work

Include some direct shoulder work

4) Triceps dominate biceps

More direct bicep work, less tricep work - possibly stay away from presses for next month, include flyes for chest?

5) Calves too small against upper legs

Include calf work into each session - heavy/low rep & light/high rep

6) Looking pale! (seriously)

Need to get in sunbathing time on day off!

Step 3: Make your own list and include solutions in a training plan

From my list, you can tell im training for summer - but thats where my head is at right now. My training plan will look different but its what i've identified as being my current visual weaknesses. My current training program has metabolic circuits with core & biceps included. I have calf/shoulder supersets in every session and perform some form of cardio before and after. All around some staple lifts (Push, pull, Lunge) to create some pretty good training sessions.

Performance has been put aside as im not really hitting big calories (see fat loss) so i have no real set numbers in terms of rowing/bike/run/skip sessions - just RPE scale on how im feeling that day.

What are you training for?

Does your current training plan focus on your specific goals? if not - change it today :)

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Assessing client condition: How gym sessions should begin

Hi all,

Just a quick one here while i'm in between sessions.

Recently i have been noticing a drop in performance in some of my clients, due to a number of different factors:

- work stress
- lack of sleep
- partying too much
- in need a holiday

The list goes on...

Read people as they walk into the gym

How do i know this? 

I spend the first 3-5 minutes of every session chatting to them as they go through a light CV build up. For the most part i try to get everyone to complete 700-1000m on the concept 2 @ 60-70% effort. For my low-level guys/girls its the X-trainer.
Whether you agree in 3-5 minutes steady state exercise to start sessions or not, it allows me to assess the physical and mental condition my client is in before i continue with the day's training plan. If i see/hear something that is off, i immediately change/adjust the session accordingly.

How can you adjust?

- Prolonged warm up.

I have had sessions start with mobility and stay right there on the warm up mat for an hour. Sometimes you just need to lay off your clients when they are not feeling great.

Usually my sessions involve a group of flexible cheerleaders

- Use alternative exercises.

Last week i had a 1000m trial row scheduled in for my client JD. He said to me early that he wasn't feeling too good before we started the session, so i changed the finisher to maximum set of inverted rows and max push ups. Still challenging but a lot less likey to make him throw up!

- Re-schedule the session

Hopefully, your clients are gonna be with you for the long haul and you should care about their day-to-day health enough to call it off when its not right. Just today (friday), My client SL text me 'can we do earlier, im so tired... i can drag myself there now but not later' i replied 'see you monday'.

Hopefully, she knows i have her best interests at heart.

How do you start your sessions? I seen someone open up their session with a heavy set of bench press this week, classic :)

Friday, 1 July 2011

My influences

Hi all,

Im quite excited to write this next blog as it involves some of my favourite people in the world, people who have influenced different parts of my training life and also people who i am (apparently) mentoring and inspiring! but as always, i have a quick rant...

...The blogs just wouldn't be the same would they?

Here is a bit of 'Functional training 101' for you.

STEP 1: Take a client through a basic movement pattern, lets say the (bodyweight) Squat.
STEP 2: Assess if they can perform this basic movement correctly.

If they can, move to STEP 3.
If they cant, move to STEP 4.
If you haven't got a 'Scooby f*cking Doo' what your doing, move to STEP 5.

STEP 3: Program in this movement into a balanced training plan, with some relevant exercise/progressions in line that person's ability. For example, Dumbell Squat.

STEP 4: Have a look whats going wrong. Have they got tight hips? Do their heels rise? Is it a strength issue? Find this out and regress the movement. This is called corrective exercise.

Uncle Scoobs just loves to write shit exercise programs.

STEP 5: Grab your encyclopedia of pointless exercises and randomly choose an exercise that is *more difficult than a basic squat.

*This is important, as you want your client to look really stupid and potentially injure them

STEP 6: Grab a BOSU ball... wait let's grab 2 BOSU balls (thats real training!) and get your client to jump between them. Use whatever sets, technique and rep scheme you like... because lets face it, you have made it up so far so why stop?

STEP 7: Be sure to make some useless observation like 'Ooooh yeah, your ankle propreception looks a little off on the right side... the knee looks weak too"

NO F*CKING SHIT, SHERLOCK!!! They are balancing between 2 plastic fucking balls!!! Arrrggghhh.

Seriously, use the swiss ball and BOSU as tools for progressions for clients who can perform the basics correctly. You may aswell call jumping between 2 BOSU's a 'Twat jump'. Because that's what the people who do them look like.

Ok i'm done. If anyone disagrees with that rant, i really would love to hear your opinion on it?

Brian thought balancing on a BOSU would get him all the hot chicks... Wrong!

Hahahaha....Onto todays blog. All through my life i have been influenced by people. Im going to specifically mention those who have shaped my physical career other wise we could be here all day.

In chronological order...

Gavin Williams

My brother is not a fitness guru (like I) but he did regularly kick my ass in most things. Before you call childline and get them to investigate him, i think its a massive advantage to have a big brother to chase around, try to impress and eventually try to beat. My dad would tell us not to fight in the house... and instead go kick shit out of each other in the garden, he even bought us boxing gloves to do the job (what a guy!). I still remember knocking him (Gavin, not my dad) out over the armchair with a straight left - i think its the only time he was down in his career? (thats my story anyway)


Looking back at things, He-Man was obviously on the gear!

Come to think of it....

So was skeletor!!!

My early memories involved getting up extra early to watch various 80s cartoons (perhaps a future blog?). He-Man was one of my top picks. Yes he had a dodgy haircut but he walked around at about 210lbs & 6% bodyfat year-round,  carryied a massive sword and rode on a wild cat - what's not to love? What a guy! At the time, he was undoubtedly the hardest guy in the universe and im convinced he was my earliest influence in the muscle and fitness world.

Carl Weathers

Everyone loved Rocky, i loved Apollo Creed. I still look back on those early films and i must have been influenced by Carl Weathers' physique. He looked like the perfect athlete. Also in Predator with Arnie, he was still bang in shape... definately one of my teenage influences in terms of what a physique should look like.

"Dillon... You son of a bitch!"

Gary Lucitt

My old friend and sometimes training buddy. We nicknamed him 'Dr Death' which im not sure he likes. Gary was an awesome training partner who would never allow you to beat him... even when you actually beat him. I remember him claiming to be faster than me, we raced, i won comfortably and he still claimed that he was faster than me! You cant teach that self-belief. I also remember coming home from some time away in the Royal Navy and GL had mysteriously gained phenomenal size and strength? Such was the intensity of our competiton, i proceeded to try and match him on leg press with what seemed like an impossible weight... i ended up with my knees past my ears! and nearly got crushed, that would have indeed been a warriors death. Best not mention anymore. Haha!!

Patrick Dale

I was incredibly lucky to have an amazing group of instructors at Premier training in Cyprus in 2006. I can't say enough how much these guys influenced and started my career. I left Cyprus full of it! I knew more than i ever did, i read everyday and was eager to learn more - i haven't really stopped. Patrick Dale stood out for me as the best speaker i had ever listened to, plus he would hang around us lunch-times/after class to train and get involved in the crazy session me and my new fitness clique were developing (Matt Szwinto, Alex Manos, Richie Luxemburg). He introduced me to T-Nation (which is still a pivotal moment for me) and years later has got me my first writing gigs ( & Fitnorama). Im now proud to say we are colleagues and good friends.

A mentor that truly 'walks the walk'

Eric Cressey

I had shoulder pain for about 3 years, people would ask what was wrong, my own admission was often "my shoulder is f*cked, i need surgery". Enter Eric Cressey. I emailed Eric about my shoulder and became an online client, he explained what was wrong with my shoulder and wrote some smart programs that gave me some pain relief and performance, I still use the Cressey Performance system to this day. In 2010 i visited the guys at Cressey performance and learned how they did things. What a week! my hands and forearms hurt like hell! but i did win a pull up competition with 19 reps. That about the only thing i came out top in that week, the guys there are machines.

If you ever fancy walking into a gym and instantly become the weakest guy who trains there, Check out Cressey Performance in Hudson, MA.

Martin Rooney

Martin Rooney is probably harder than you.

After being completely impressed with Martin's seminars in Rhode island in 2010. I learned that he had wrestling background, had trained extensively in Muay Thai for over a decade, was a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and also a black belt in Judo. Any of you MMA fans out there will know that those skills are pretty kick-ass at any level.

I have adopted a lot of Martin's bodyweight conditioning since last year and my clients love the variation and combinations with traditional resistance stuff. After the seminar, i hung around like a crazy stalker and talked to him about 'how much PT is enough for a day' he signed my "Training for Warriors" book and spoke to me for about and hour - what a top bloke. I heard someone say of him recently "he makes everyone feel like you're his best friend" - i know the feeling.

The next 2 have influenced my writing style

Tony Gentilcore

If you want to read some top quality fitness information and have a laugh at the same time, read Tony G's blog I definately read some of his stuff about 2 years ago and thought that this was the style i wanted to bring to my own blog. Direct, Ballsy, funny and effective. When i met him at Cressey Performance - he was over the moon...

"Great, you guys are from ENG-ER-LAND.. now i can use the word WANKERS all week"

Oh yeah, and Tony can lift some heavy shit!

John Romaniello

Roman admits this shot is all about the lighting!!!

What can you say? The guy is in top shape, writes funny blogs and is more than happy to have a cheat day in the name of the hormone leptin! Thats enough about me...

John Romaniello is in top shape, writes funny blogs and is more than happy to have a cheat day in the name of the hormone leptin!

Check out you wont be dissapointed.

Influences that missed the cut...

Hulk Hogan, Lion-O (Thundercats), Optimus Prime (Transformer), Arnold Schwarzenneger, Sylvester Stallone, Andre Agassi, Robin Smith (cricketer), Mr Motivator (GMTV), Bill Phillips, The Ultimate Warrior.

My Proteges

Leigh Withers

Leigh has been a close friend for the past 20 years and has been a PT for approximately the last 5 years. Leigh ended up replacing me at Fitness First in Bahrain and still works there with around 30+ training clients of all ages and backgrounds. I guess from his own reading and career path, he has a very simliar style to me. Which obviously i am a fan of. I wasn't actually aware that i was a mentor until he told me via email about 2 months ago. Brilliant. Check out his fitness page for 'almost' daily updates on everything health and fitness.

Lullu Murali

Lullu (Charlie) Murali was putting away weights as a "red-shirt" in Fitness First about 2-3 years ago but had an unbelievable self-belief that he could one day be a top trainer. Today, He is the Head Trainer at The Royal Golf Club in Bahrain with over 25 clients.

How? Turning up every day to a job and getting noticed. When i was looking for a right hand man to join me at the golf club, Leigh Withers (above) said "this is your man" and he hasn't looked back. I had nothing but positive praise from clients and staff about Lullu during my time as manager In Bahrain.

Rebecca Scott-Martin

More recently, my girlfriend and relative newbie PT Rebecca has claimed to be influenced by me! She loves the job and if you can believe this... will sometimes bore me with fitness chat at home!! (not really) all i can say is that it took me about 5 years to acquire all the tools i use now, she has learned all that in her first 6 months - to add to a certification from Premier Training UK.

Its great to see her religiously train through Eric Cressey's "Maximum Strength" program at the gym. Bench press, Deadlifts, Squats, etc. She will start at Pure's new facility in November as one of the top trainers and could 'possibly' out lift most of the guys on Deadlift and Squat. That's hot!

Sorry for the long one guys, im taking (maybe) a whole month off my blog to concentrate all my spare writing time on my book i have been working on, not sure how it will pan out but im committed to getting a version finished asap!

Share with FB friends and enemies :)

See ya soon