Stop Fit Shamers From Sabotaging Your Client’s Fitness Goals – Lori Calloway.

How Long is a Training Session? – Alwyn Cosgrove.

Your Optimal Training Frequency for the Glutes Part I: Exercise Type – Bret Contreras.

An Introduction to Dieting Part 1 – Lyle MacDonald.

An Introduction to Dieting Part 2 -Lyle MacDonald.

How to Run Without Pain – Chad Waterbury.

Are we really working hard? – Alwyn Cosgrove.

Individual Differences: The Most Important Consideration for Your Fitness Results that Science Doesn’t Tell You – Bret Contreras and James Krieger.

Doctors Do Not Know Much About Obesity Because They Are Not Expected To – Dr Sharma.

Canadian Human Rights Petitions Against Sizeism -Dr Sharma.

Weight Bias Awareness Is Still Not Being Taught To Health Professionals -Dr Sharma.

Random Thoughts on Long-Term Fitness Industry Success – Installment 5 – Eric Cressey.

How long should you rest when training with lighter loads? – Brad Schonefeld.

What is the Best Rep Range for Muscle Strength and Size? -Brad Schoenfeld.

What Are Macros? — What To Know About Macronutrients – JC Deen.

Alcohol And Weight Loss — The 4D Fat Loss Guide For Losing Body Fat And Having A Social Life

Fine Tune Your Frequency -Blaine Summer

3 Tips for Successful Dieting – Nick Shaw.

Sleeping Positions: A Disucussion of Pros and Cons – Quinn Henoch.

The Best Program for You -Thomas Lilley.

More from the Mailbag – Lyle McDonald.

Training the Obese Beginner – Lyle McDonald.

3 Amazing Back Training Routines – Smitty

Less Sickness For Better Results – Eric Cressey.

Why People Store Fat In Different Parts Of The Body -Kevin Richardson.

Questions on GMOs -Steven Novella.

Curcumin Hype vs Reality – Steven Novella.

The Strength Training Guide for Women Over 40 -Nia Shanks.

10 Overlooked Reasons Why Every Woman Should Strength Train -Nia Shanks.

Strength Training Made Simple – The 5 Principles For Pencil Pushers –Charles Poliquin.

Rise of the (Weight) Machines: Why Exercise Equipment is Not As Bad You’ve Been Told – K. Aleisha Fetters.

Losing Weight and Your Sanity: Why the Scale Lies (And How to Make Sense of Your Weight) – Brian Sabin.

Lady Gaga, The Super Bowl, And Half-Assed Body Positivity – Ragen Chastain.

Maybe I’m just not fit enough to be a trainer. 6 ways to overcome this common anxiety and build a great career. – Lindsey Heiserman.

How To Lose Belly Fat And Keep It Off In 7 Effective Steps -JC Deen.

3 Simple Squat Depth Solutions -Dean Somerset.

Are You Ready To Do Stuff? A Post On Mobility – Dean Somerset.

For the previous posts check out here and here.

Wk 2.

First thing to note this week is a slight, but persistent quad tendon strain I’ve been experiencing in both legs. Enough so that after my squat session on Monday I’ve given them the week off then I’ll re-assess squat volume after that. As my deadlift is proportionally weaker at the moment I may focus my volume there and drop back to two squatting days per week for the foreseeable future. Below is my Day one workout of Week two, you may not notice it but the set of squats shown (nevermind Sieraya’s sweet, sweet ass in the background) was pretty painful through the quads (oddly the next day they actually felt a bit better):

I’ve decided I’m going to reduce squat and bench volume as I’m also getting some teres minor/rotator cuff pain and want to make sure I’m in the best position to start my heavy phase (which starts week 4), I’ll spend the next two weeks rolling the shit out of my quads and shoulder. Below are the core lifts from my day 2 workout:

The only other core lift for Wk2 which I’ll do is the Romanian deadlift, which was at a ridiculously light weight (shown below).

At the end of Wk2 my knees were feeling better, shoulder is still a little niggly. I’m going to add my knee sleeves for wk3 to see if that helps them.


I’ve changed up my program to reflect my volume tolerances, and it seems to be going good, feeling stronger, and a little less sore (aside froms DOMS of course). Training this week was good, I’ve gone back through and increased my weights to reflect what (a) I think might be more realistic and (b) what I want to get for the comp. I don’t think they’re unrealistic numbers from a strength perspective, but I really need to stay on top of my rolling and stretching. Lets go with the lifts. I’ve put only the core lifts in from each day. Knees felt good on the squat, the sleeves helped, either  psychologically or not. Deads are feeling really good (I know, they’re all baby weights) which helps with confidence for the future. To be honest I think I could probably get away with one squat day per week, and I’ll look at that if I don’t like how my quad tendons are feeling.

I’ve raised calories up, body comp be damned as I wasn’t recovering as fast as I’d like, and also, I only need to stay under 105kg, now isn’t the time to try and be a cowboy and try and be aesthetic. I can do that in the offseason.

Program changes look like this. I’m in first week of this so you can see my projected targets for the next 3 weeks. Things are going to start getting real soon.


The girls are doing great, if anything their weights are too light, probably around 55-65% (initial) 1RM. I’ve readjusted them, I really want them strong for the peaking phase, in which we’ll add top singles at, around, or even above their beginning 1RM’s. We’ve got 3 more weeks before peaking begins in which we’ll get them up to about 72kg for squats, 47kg for benches and 90-100kg for deads at 3×6 before we start red lining them for the finish line. Here’s a sample of their training this week:



Anyone who trains with me knows I favor resistance training as a staple, but why is that? Let’s look today at some of the benefits of resistance training. Today I’ll be taking notes from the book “Strength Training” edited by Lee E. Brown. This book is a collection of essays from various authors, some of the biggest names in the strength and conditioning field, so let us allow them to tackle this issue for us:

In addition to increasing muscle size, resistance training improves muscle strength and bone health, and it can improve athletic performance. The benefits of resistance training are important for both men and women to help them stay healthy and to offset the natural aging process, which can lead to loss of muscle mass (sarcopenia) and bone mass (osteoporosis) and subsequent disability. (Kramer & Spiering, 2007, p. 29-30)

The authors state that the act of growing muscle mass is protective too and that many people, women in particular fail to utilize the benefits of such, usually because they’re afraid it will make them too big. (p. 30) I would state too that the gym, and gym culture can have a pack or tribal mentality, which can make newcomers feel very unwelcome.

There are two essential principles if one is to put on muscle mass, (1): muscle must be stimulated to increase size, and (2): growing muscles need energy to grow. Regarding (1) the stimulus required comes from a progressive and well designed resistance training program, and (2) comes from a well balanced diet that provides adequate calories. The authors note that if either of these principles are ignored muscle can not adapt. The authors provide an example of the importance of the factors related to muscle increase below. (p. 31)


(Kramer & Spiering, 2007, p. 31)

One thing to note that isn’t in the above is the importance for recovery and rest for the growth of new muscle, yes nutrition provides the building blocks for new growth to occur but proper sleep contributes to the effectiveness of the growth.

In line with (1) above, the authors note that generally speaking moderate to heavy loads are optimal (70 -85% of 1RM) as well as a high enough volume (8-12 repetitions for 3-4 sets). (p. 32) Moreover the authors note that rest periods also affect the muscle’s response to resistance exercise:

Short rest periods (one to two minutes) used in accordance with moderate to high intensity and volume elicit greater acute responses of anabolic hormones than programs using very heavy loads and longer rest periods (three minutes). Shorter rest periods are associated with greater metabolic stress (e.g higher levels of lactic acid in the blood), and metabolic stress is a stimulus for hormone release. The hormonal response is important because naturally occurring anabolic hormones stimulate muscle protein synthesis and increased muscle size. Therefore relatively short (one-to two-minute) rest periods are recommended for optimizing long terms gains in muscle. (Kramer & Spiering, 2007, p. 32)

Now, this is basically what the literature will say in most textbooks that you read, but it should be noted, for the more well- read readers that the current research is, well, illuminating on this issue. For those who are interested in reading more on rest periods, metabolic stress and lighter loads for muscle growth I suggest you read anything by Brad Schoenfeld (his books The MAX Muscle Plan and The Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy are the best I’ve seen on this issue). For now you can check out some of his research on his blog here, here and here.

Regarding (2) the authors note that resistanc training helps increase muscle protein synthesis, which in scientific terms means:

Upon the completion of resistance exercise, the acute increase in anabolic hormones within a muscle stimulates the myonuclei to increase protein synthesis. More specifically, the nuclei increase production of the contractile proteins actin and myosin within the existing sarcomere. Increased contractile proteins means two things:
1: An increase in the size of the muscle
2: An increase in the force-generating capacity of the muscle. (Kramer & Spiering, 2007, p. 40)

Basically, increasing protein synthesis makes muscles bigger and stronger. This comes into play when we think about calorie partioning too. When you resistance train, the calories you use are partitioned to help you remodel and rebuild, thus increasing protein synthesis can help your diet work for you to build more muscle. That is why it is so important to eat adequate protein (and carbs too) around your training times.


Kramer, W.J., Spiering, B.A. (2007). Strength Training (edited by Lee Brown). Champaign, IL. Human Kinetics.

So, last week I shared with you my training blog for the base phase I just finished (see here). Now lets look at my ongoing weekly trials and tribulations as I prep toward my comp.

Here’ a look at my training week:


I’ll be following a pretty simple linear progression with my program, with the skeleton of the workout coming from Robert Wilks’ designs. I’ve altered it slightly to remove the speed days to put in a slightly lighter core lift day, with a highly specific assistance day and general assistance day on the last day. I’ve also put in a heap of core work to assist in my anterior pelvic tilt/generally weak core.  Weight progressions will be starting really low, around 55% of 1RM and working up to mid 60% by the end of the first training block. From there things move up, I’ll be around 65-75/80% for the next block then 80-100% for the last block. I’ll be putting in heavy singles in the last/peaking phase, for the girls (Dion and Sieraya) too. To be honest I’m sick of this high rep stuff, I put too much upper body, particularly bench assistance in so I’ve removed it (whee the Single Leg Deadlift is) and will focus instead on my deadlift, although I utilised the KB Single LDL, I’m actually going to use the Glute/Ham Raise. I toyed with putting in an opposite deadlift (in this case that would be a sumo stance) but deadlifting x4 days/week seems extraneous. The GHR should provide me with a bit more conditioning to my weak posterior chain (any thoughts on this would be appreciated).

This week’s training has been ok, on workout 1/day 1 I felt pretty tight in my quad tendons, probably from my strength testing on the weekend:

And more than this I’ve been trying to sort my back issues out too, I think I’ve been jamming my thoracic into extension before each rep which is putting stress on my low back, as you can see below I’m trying to maintain a neutral spine (which actually feels, proprioceptively to me as a posterior tilt)

Days 2 and 3 (below) were pretty easy, very low RPE’s, so I kind of saw this week as a functional deload, the next two intro weeks should be fairly easy, so I can go into some higher loads pretty recovered:

As you can see body comp isn’t getting much better. I’ve been juggling low calorie when I can to try and recomp, unfortunately due to the low metabolic activity of powerlifting style routines I don’t get my heart rate up as much or as often to burn a significant number of calories. I could probably do the lighter weeks sets EMOM (every minute on the minute), but I’ve been a little distracted in the gym helping Sieraya out. And with my binges here and there it probably wouldn’t matter if I did. But continue I shall as the weeks progress. I also don’t want performance to be affected but I can probably fix that by partitioning calories around workouts (say carb heavy meals 1-4 hours before, protein heavy ones after). But honestly? As long as I stay under 105kg it doesn’t really matter, I’m just vain, I have lost 2kg though, so that’s something.

Here we are again, prep for a powerlifting comp (for more on this, see here, here and here). I’ve been on holidays in Europe for 5 weeks, which only left me 4 weeks to acclimatize myself to training before beginning prep for the Onyx True Raw Competition on May 5th. As such I’ll be cataloguing my already completed 4 weeks of base work, that is general physical preparedness/general adaptation training, which will prepare me for a higher intensity style of training. I start proper prep next week.

My base work has been high variation, moderate sets/moderate load/varying volume, that is the core exercises (squat, bench deadlift) have been variants of the main lifts (wide stance or paused squats/sumo deadlifts and close grip benches for example), the sets have started low and followed a linear increase week to week. I’ve taken something of the “powerbuilder” approach to things with this program in that once I’ve finished my core lifts I focused on higher rep/volume/hypertrophy style training for my “assistance” exercises. Some examples of base work are here:

The program was pretty easy, in the sense that RPE was low, particularly as I got to the lower rep/peaking weeks. I can generally tolerate higher loads at low reps; to measure intensity I use reps in reserve for lower rep sets, for higher reps and moderate load (usually for sets over 10-12) I use a “feeling” based RPE.


I did some very conservative strength testing on the weekend, I’ll include vids below, I aimed for a 4RM with one or two left in the tank to calculate a 1RM from a 5-6RM (using a one rep max calculator, I generally use this one). I did surprisingly well considering I haven’t lifted anything over 130kg more than once or twice in the past few years (obviously with lots more work to increase these humble baselines to come). I ended up with 160kg on squat by 3 reps (with one left in the tank):

A 130kg bench by 3 reps (with one left in the tank):

And a 160kg deadlift by 1 with about 3 left in the tank:

My body felt pretty good, other than the fact that I need to foam roll and stretch way more than I do, and that I have quite a few movement/mobility restrictions (tight ankles, hips, back, pecs, traps, you name it). My body composition after the holiday is really bad (you’ll see it below), I’ve been trying to correct it but to be honest its only in the past week that I’ve gotten serious, so I’ll include a pic of my current appearance. I will try and recomp during prep, but will be doing that by tidying up the diet, and still focusing on performance (cals will be around 2-2500 generally with protein at about 2g/kg/bw/day, carbs about 35% of total cals and fats about 25-30%)

Look, this is a particularly flattering pic, and I don’t look that good, so you can imagine what I look like in real life. No excuse or reason for it really other than being, as I like to say, “fat and happy”. Bodyfat percentage is about 25% conservatively and weight about 104kg (but fluctuates up to 107kg after high calorie weekends).fullsizerender-3

Keep an eye on here in the weeks to come and I’ll include my progress.

Client Results: Westy.

IMG_5252Before @ 105kg and After @ 94kg

Westy, what can I say about the guy? He’s a terminator. He has been working his butt off for a long time, to not only change his body composition, but also maintain those results for an extended period of time. While it’s true these aren’t 12 week results, they have taken time, he has changed his lifestyle, changed unhealthy habits to more positive ones, and has kept the weight off. That is significant. He is no bodybuilder, he doesn’t live, sweat and breathe the fitness industry. He has a wife and kids, and a life outside the gym. That is; he has a myriad of concerns other than health and well-being, but he comes to his sessions, ready to do whatever is asked, he texts me his food, his macros everyday, and is involved in his dietary and health goals. That is all anyone can ask.

Westy works a stressful job, sits at a desk all day, and to be honest, even until recently, his dietary habits have been based off habit, comfort and stress. But we have been working together, over time, to make improvements, to find what is based on science and works for him. We have tried low carb/high protein diets, intermittent fasting, which have worked to varying degrees (IF in particular Westy found to be useful), what we have found that has helped him retain the most muscle mass while losing bodyfat has been in a high protein/moderate carb/low-fat/sugar diet. I have been trying to push his protein up to about 2+g/kg/bw/day with his fat at about 25% of total cals with the remaining cals to be made up of nutritious and fibrous carbs. Coupled with this is a total deficit of 3,500 cals/week (how he chooses to get that within the parameters above is up to him). We set it up at about -500cals/day with a high and low day in there, but hey, sometimes life gets in the way. We have been measuring his weight and hes getting to below 90kg now which is starting to get us to a good bodyweight, so we may play around with bringing up his calories to -100-200 below maintenance/day so as to maintain as much muscle as we can and slowly drip the bodyfat off.

Now for some numbers, the first assessment I have for Westy is on 19/9/14:

  • Has his weight at 101.5 kg
  • Bodyfat Percentage at 31%

And of his latest assessment on 1/7/15:

  • Had his weight at 89kg
  • Bodyfat Percentage at 23%

More than this, his changes haven’t simply been physique related, as you can see below he has also make incredible improvements to his strength:

I’m incredibly proud of this guy, who is a client, but has also become a dear friend and a trusted confidant. I’m thankful that he has stuck with me on his journey and I hope that I continue to help him for a long time to come with his goals.

Now that we’ve looked at how to set calories and macronutrients (see here), lets now take a look at how you can search for ingredients to make meals which can be saved for easy plug-in later on. This will save a huge amount of time, and over time you will accumulate all your favorite meals which makes going to restaurants and such easier to program.

Firstly from the main screen select “more” (highlighted in red), this will take you to this screen where you will then select “Meals, Recipes & Foods” (highlighted in black)  img_6291There you will end up at this screen, where you will select the little “plus” icon in the top right hand corner (highlighted in red) which will bring up the menu highlighted in black, select the area marked to manually enter your meal.

img_6292From here you will go to this screen where you will add the title of your meal and how many serves it produces, as you can see I’m using the example of spaghetti (bolognaise). To make this meal I personally use 2kg of extra lean mince from Coles, x4 jars of Ragulleto sauce, and a heap of brown rice. I then divide all this up into about 8 meals which are then frozen, what I am calculating today is the rough amount of calories each meal will have. There will be variation and that is hard for some to live with (I’ve heard upwards of 20% of total cal intake), but this is a better system than simply guessing what is going into your mouth. img_6294Once you’ve added your details select the arrow highlighted in black to go to this screen:

img_6295Here you will simply select “add ingredients” (highlighted in black)  which will take you to this screen:

img_6296From here you will now go through the hard part of estimating how much the food you’re eating weighs and which is the best source to choose from. Usually typing in the name and brand of the ingredient will bring up the best results, you can also scan the bar code, I tend not to do it that way, however it is an option. You will come to this screen:

img_6298As you can see I’ve written what the ingredient is (highlighted in black), and after looking at all the options and comparing which have the most amount of macros listed (some will only have protein or fat, you want the one with the most) I’ve selected what I will use. (Note: often the one you want will have a green tick next to it, but still compare). From here you’ll come to this screen:

img_6299  img_6300img_6301

I selected the serving size (highlighted in black in the first image) and kept it at 100g, you may like to choose whichever weight which allows you to most easily calculate your total. I reasoned that as I was cooking 2kg up and make roughly 8 containers worth this is on average around how much meat I would get per serve. You can simply multiply the weight (using servings) to make the total amount you’ve eaten. Once you’ve done that select the arrow (highlighted in black on the image on the right), and you’ll end up at this screen:

img_6302From here you would merely repeat the process for all of your ingredients.

I hope this helps you navigate the complexities of your diet. If there is anything you don’t grasp fully, don’t hesitate to contact me.

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