My Training & Nutrition Program
I am not a big sharer.
Reading that from someone who has written over 100 articles opining on training and nutrition, you may have re-read that sentence a few times.
To be more specific, I am not a great sharer about my own training, body composition and lifestyle.
On the most part, I do not think it is relevant. The client base I work with is very different to me, making most of what I do irrelevant to them. They also do not care about my physique, how good my Instagram account looks and what I lifted last week. Most of my clients do not have time to log in, and one of them thought Snapchat was a Pokemon.
Whilst there is no intention of changing this anytime soon, I do think there are a couple of things I could share more of that could be of benefit to people who follow this content, who are not necessarily clients. For example, some people are interested in the training and nutrition regime I use and the principles behind it.
My program is a mix of the coaching I have received (nutrition and training), experience and my own thoughts. I do like to test some new strategies out every now and then, but I would not go as far to say I ‘test things for my clients’ because we have completely different goals.
All of this information below is not advice, this is simply the method I have developed in conjunction with a range of strength and nutrition coaches I have used and my own experience. This routine has been tailored for my goal, experience and lifestyle. You can put it in place tomorrow, but it is not tailored for you.
This program is a reflection of a point in time. I am sure that in two years time, my methodologies will have changed slightly from what they are now. If they have not, that does not mean that everything is perfect now, it simply means I have not learnt anything new.
Consider the explanations and principles to see what can be applied to you.
Current goal is to decrease body fat, maintain muscle mass whilst rebuilding strength.
I recently sacrificed some strength and muscle while training for the City2Surf, which I was happy to do so to increase my fitness as needed for the event. Unfortunately, then strained my knee and could not train, ended up withdrawing from the event and subsequently lost most of the fitness I had built.
The end result of training from May-September was a decrease in muscle mass and strength, alongside a moderate increase in fitness. That equates to about a -1000% return-on-investment, but we learn (that running sucks) and move on.
Previous training and sport experience are important pieces of information for designing a program.
I am lucky to have five years of resistance training along with an extensive background in sport. In training terms, I am pretty much good-to-go.
From Defence to Attack
The more you know about training experience – the better. One of the best decisions a client came to, was to re-engage playing touch football. The client was middle aged, worked 60-70 hours a week, and struggled to find time to exercise.
We tried implementing a training program via online coaching – I was not conducting personal training at the time - but it was never fully adhered to. Needing a change, he thought of putting together a touch football team with his ex-rugby mates.
Now he had something to work towards and began to enjoy the programmed gym training. These session were no longer to improve body composition, but to increase strength and fitness for touch football. Adherence improved, weight dropped and training became enjoyable.
In the next three months, he dropped 13kg, increased strength and fitness, improved diet and cut coffee intake from 5-6 per day to 1-2 per day.
All from just one little switch!
Note: not a single hamstring was torn during this program.
- Earlier-riser (4:40am) – important for meal timing
- Drinks very rarely – important consideration for lifestyle/training management. Alcohol needs to be considered as a nutrient (8kcal/g)
- Likes routine – likely to respond well to a set program. Those who don’t like structure may do better with general guidelines.
I currently train five days in the gym each week (four weights, one conditioning).
Each session lasts for about one-hour, including a 10-minute warm up.
Resistance training is currently based around moderate reps (8-12) and short rest periods (45-90 seconds). Sessions are split into upper body and lower body, each trained twice per week. I find this mix to be ideal for improving body composition.
The highlight – actually a lowlight - is the A series of each workout which is 5x10 on squats/bench/OHP. If the weight is right, you get into the third set and want to go home. Reps 6-10 are tough – but manageable – and leave some metabolic by-product accumulated in the muscles.
The leg session is the hardest - 5x10 squats is brutal - and will change your life, not necessarily for the better.
I am pretty good at sticking to the plan, but I have learned that I need to have one. If I walk into the gym without a plan, I inevitably leave 20 minutes later without doing something.
I know that, of all people, I should be able to put something together in my head, but I can convince myself not to, quite easily. Therefore I will always go into the gym with a written plan with exercises, sets, reps and sometimes weights.
I did something similar yesterday (leg day). I forgot my shoes and knee sleeves, but told my self I would get it done, anyway. Squats felt off with the wrong footwear and I was off my game. Three sets in, I called it a day and went for an easy stroll before some stretching.
I will make up for that session later in the week, but it does go to show I could build a little more resolve when things are off!
I train Monday - Saturday, with a rest day in there somewhere. Sunday is always a rest day.
Sometimes I will mix up the schedule depending on work/travel but usually I can manage to get a session - or substitute session in. In this case, I would train five days straight and then take the weekend off. This works for me for a couple of weeks, but is not a long term strategy that suits me, as eventually all the training begins to blur into one.
I will attach the training program below:
Upper Body One
- OHP/snatch-grip high pull – 5 x 8/8 (drop set) with 90s rest
- Lateral raise - 4 x 10/10 (drop set) with 75s rest
- Arnold press - 3 x 12 with 45s rest
- Chin up/close-grip push up - 4 x 6/15 with 60s rest
- Hammer curl/tricep push down – 3 x 10/10 with 75s rest
Lower Body One
- Squats - 5 x 10 with 90s rest
- Dumbbell Romanian deadlift/leg curl – 4 x 10/10 with 60s rest
- Leg press/terminal knee extension (band) – 4 x 20/20 with 60s rest
- Bulgarian split squat – 3 x 10 with 75s rest
- Seated calf raise* – 5 x 20 with 45s rest
*my opinion on calves: moderate-high reps, low rest, full range of movement for resistance training, and hit them with heavy conditioning too (ie. sled). Calves will grow when you train them correctly. The 5 x 20 I use will not cause much growth, but it will maintain them.
- 15 push ups/30 inverted ring rows/30s rope slam/40m sled push (4 times through)
- 15 min row (2 min w/u; 10x10s sprint/50s steady; 3 mins c/d)
I am scheduled to foam roll after this session, but with the volume of sweat/tears lost during, I rarely do.
Upper Body Two
- Bench press - 5 x 10 with 90s rest
- Neutral grip chin-up – first set: max reps; then a set every 75s until hit <50% of reps from first set
- Incline dumbbell flye/lying incline dumbbell flye – 4 x 10/10 with 60s
- Lat pulldown/band pull apart – 3 x 10/10 with 60s
- Pec dec – 4 x 10
- Deadlift - varies
- Front squat - varies
- Lunge –varies
- RKC plank/med-ball slam
I vary this session depending on training from the rest of the week. The exercises stay the same, but sets and reps will be mixed up depending on soreness, fatigue and other factors.
I stick to a simple diet with a reasonably high protein intake combined with a moderate carbohydrate and fat intake. I won't go into specific energy intake and macronutrients - they are very specific to an individual – but you can probably work them out from the food.
To categorise my diet I would say there are elements of carbohydrate backloading and carbohydrate cycling. I keep carbohydrate intake relatively low in the morning up until training (10:45am). Until this point, I am on my feet whilst training clients, but carbohydrates are not really required. I then train and consume a majority of carbohydrates post-workout.
There is no reason for that, I simply find that it works well and suits my lifestyle. I also enjoy eating the larger amounts of carbohydrates OR fats in one meal, and find it easier to balance across a whole day
Tradies: Working 7-4, Training 5-7
The carbohydrate timing above approach that I am currently using has also been very effective with physically active clients, in particular tradies who are working throughout the day (physically active: low-moderate intensity) and then training in the evening.
Several Tradies - who are also semi-professional Australian Rules, Softball and Rugby players -have been able to maintain their strength and performance whilst decreasing body fat, using this system.
Typical Food Intake
5:00am - 3 whole eggs, 1 cup spinach
10:00am - 200g mince with onion, capsicum, cumber, probably spinach, sometimes avocado
12:00pm - 35g whey protein hydrolysate
12:45pm - 200g Chobani yoghurt, 40g oats, banana, maple syrup, 2 pieces of toast with vegemite
3:30-4:00pm - 2 tins of tuna, 150g steamed vegetables, maybe apple.
7:00pm - dinner: usually some variety of meat/fish, salad/veggies and rice/sweet potato/etc
My actual intake is pretty similar on a daily basis and rarely changes from breakfast to post-workout. When it does, it changes significantly (new meat/grain/vegetable sources). I try to cycle foods every 3-4 weeks to avoid getting bored with them.
I do not schedule cheat meals as such, but I do utilise the freedom that comes from sticking to a good diet. By sticking to the plan most of the time, I can go off track when needed or desired.
Usually this happens at dinner time, since my morning meals stay very similar.
Foods I may go-to are burgers, schnitzel, steaks, kievs, etc. More often than not, I would rather eat a larger size of good quality foods, such as a roast or something along those lines.
What about chocolate?
I get asked a lot about chocolate and yes, I will eat it. Luckily for me I don't crave it, so I also find it relatively easy to avoid purchasing in the first place.
Daily: 2x coffee, 1x tea, 2-3L water
I drink tea in the morning, on the way to the gym 5:15am
One coffee before gym and one before starting afternoon work. I think of caffeine as a performance aid, so I will time them around training and work that requires energy.
I am drinking water all day...
My throat get dry in the gym while training people, which makes me drink water often.
I sweat a lot when I train, which makes me drink water often.
As a result, I go to the bathroom a lot during the day.
I currently use two nutritional supplements - whey protein hydrolysate and casein protein powder.
Whey protein hydrolysate is rapidly absorbed into the digestive system and I find this noticeably different to the whey protein isolate from the same brand. The biggest benefit for me is that I don’t feel full, meaning I can eat my next meal sooner.
Therefore, if I consume a shake around 12pm, I can eat another meal around 12:45pm. This means that I can be working from 1pm without any issues.
Previously, I would not be hungry so I chose to delay that meal, which then interrupted my afternoon work schedule.
First world problems, I know, but these are exactly the important considerations for personalising a nutrition program to an individual. If I wasn't hungry, maybe I don't eat for another five hours or turn to some quick snacks that will not disrupt work.
Another supplement I have used with success is creatine. When loaded correctly, adhered to and matched with a suitable diet, I think this is an excellent supplement.
Creatine is an excellent supplement for females. The first article I ever wrote for a magazine was about supplements and was published in Oxygen, where I suggested creatine to be an underrated supplement for females. Since then I have received emails and taken on new online clients who read that article and implemented that information.
I sleep 6-7 hour per night. Getting up early (4:40am) makes hitting 8 hours challenging. I find that I function well on 6-7 hours, provided I am up at the same time every day.
I am not an expert in sleep, but it is an important component of lifestyle management – particularly the client base I deal with who are time-poor.
One of the most successful strategies we implement for sleep is getting up at the same time every day. No matter what time you go to bed, setting the alarm for the same time every morning can help develop a better sleep pattern.
I won’t try to explain the physiology - because I don't understand it well enough - but if you Google ‘circadian rhythms’ and ‘cortisol and sleep’ you will be able to find more information about why that might be the case.
Here is a picture of the $70 alarm clocked I got shipped in from overseas just over two years ago. I am yet to use it, but it looks good.
That is about it: 2000 words of talking about myself and learning how to share.
If you take one thing away from this, understand the need to personalise a training and nutrition program to your lifestyle, not change your lifestyle to fit a training and nutrition program.
Again, this program is tailored to my needs, so be very wary of using it to meet yours!
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