Hi everyone and welcome to this podcast/interview. I’m happy to introduce Alex’ interview to this blog and hope it will entertain you and that you can learn something that will help you in your fitness journey as a natural lifter. If you enjoy it, feel free to leave a comment or follow Alex on Instagram, he also has other podcasts on Spotify!
The audio file is available right here and you can also read the whole text below!
Don’t have time to read or listen to the podcast? There is a conclusion with all key points to remember at the bottom of the page!
Alright guys so today I am with Alex sheep, or the anabolic sheep, so he is clipping his toes (lol). It’s gonna be an interesting podcast.
First thing I wanted to say: The anabolic sheep is a natural sheep?
Yeah, he is a natural sheep.
And he is from yorkshire as well.
He is yes, West yorkshire yeah!
Hopefully everyone understands what he says, I do, so there should be no problem!
So before we start the podcast interview I also wanted to ask you, are people leaving weights on the gym floor area allowed to participate/listen to this podcast?
Euuh no, no they absolutely deserve prison time to be honest.
Because basically for those who don’t know Alex, he has got an instagram page and is often raging about people leaving their weights in the gym floor area. I wanted to make that confirmation before 😉
So what’s your story, when have you started lifting?
Originally I was a rugby and football player, rugby union player. I think about 2017, early on, I completely tore my ACL and my right knee.
Everyone gets injured in rugby, don’t they?
Well to be fair, I was playing football when that happened. I was playing by the side and went the complete wrong way. I’ve had more injuries playing football than rugby which is weird. That pretty much took me out of football and rugby for an entire year. And because I have a pretty egotistical drive to be the best at something,
I had to become good at another sport and be productive to feel that gap and get productive again. Ended up getting into fitness, starting lifting at my local leisure centre. I wanted to improve seriously in the world of bodybuilding and fell in love with the process. I got meticulous with it quickly. I didn’t really like partying or going out when I was only 17 or 18 so that’s why I went for bodybuilding.
So wait, did you fall in love with the weights or with the girls, to be honest with us.
Bit of both to be fair, I started to fall in love with the girls first but when I started seeing the veins on my shoulders lifting weights, girls went to the second plan :p.
That makes sense! As in for rugby, I personally know british people who will go back right at it even when they’re injured. I used to be at the University of Leeds, training there at The Edge. I would come across these rugby guys. They want to go back out there even when they’re injured. That’s their mentality, but you did not want to try again?
To be honest with the way my knee was, it could not withstand any further. Even now, I have to be pretty careful. If I need to try and change directions too quickly, it’s too brutal. In football, if I’m in a situation, a challenge where it’s 50/50, 1 to 1, I’ll have to pull out. My knee will not support my weight. Even worse with rugby. My rugby career ended as soon as that happened. I haven’t played since.
So what was the motivation? It definitely came from stopping rugby and being an egotistical driven guy?
Basically at rugby and football I was good and it was satisfying for my ego, I’ll happily admit it. I was one of the best at the time in these categories so when injury happened, it was ego death. Now, all of the sudden, there is nothing I’m better than anyone else at. Where could I be good at and feel that gap? I’m not really academic so I am not going to have the best grades and feel the void there… Where can I feel that gap? I’m not particularly someone who goes out much and will enjoy going to parties. With bodybuilding, I have been meticulous from the get-go so that worked out well.
So in the podcast, we will talk about the ego thing because I know you talk about it a lot on your Instagram page. Talking about our generation, it’s a lot about ego. It will be interesting.
What’s your motivation being kindly posting free stuff on Instagram?
At the start of lockdown, when we became furlough and uni work had been given a huge extension, it meant instagram could become a priority. Before it was more when I had a bit of time to post, I’ll post.
I was also bored so besides training at home, what could I do to fill my time? I prioritised my Instagram because my captions and post are well thought out and I wanted to simplify complicated topics into simple, digestible information.
Evidence backed information. They take a while to formulate. I have to edit the posts and a minute video takes quite some time to make. I started posting regularly, 5 posts a week to 7 posts a week.
Now I only do 3 times a week, my business is now working so that takes priority! When I prioritised posting on Instagram, it brought a direct correlation to my business and coaching service during lockdown, the more followers I have, the more engagement I have, posting free stuff in the end returns dividendes.
Yeah, well, we can actually talk about this business that you set up for yourself, it’s interesting. You’re basically happy to give free stuff for a start, then this builds up momentum and a following then people start asking for your services.
I really wanted to ask you about coaching, since you are into it, what do you think about the coaching industry?I have my little opinion on it. There is a lot of controversy in the fitness industry… There will be a lot of people taking gear for example and lying to their audience selling crap sometimes. The industry is not that good. Because you are a coach you might have an opinion, maybe different than mine I don’t know?
It’s a very unique industry in a sense that there is no regulation whatsoever, the only regulations which exist are the PT certifications, fitness instructor certifications. Having been going through my level 3 and 4 PT certificates and then level 2 fitness instructor. I can say even certificates themselves once you qualify is not sufficient as an assessment for you to be deemed as competent in coaching. My 3 and 4 PT certifications, the actual assessment there, the theory side of it was about the exact same exam for level 3 and 4…And if your questions were wrong, you then see what was right/wrong and can just re-do the exam as many times as you want.
That’s something I did not know. I have been raging for a long time about this just like you do for some things haha… It’s really not fair how that works. You can elaborate a bit more about it and I’ll get back to it.
Basically it’s awful. So for the theory you have certain modules right? Biomechanics, anatomy, respiratory system. Tiny modules on nutrition, exercise selection. There is a bit on A level – biology revisited. The way the assessment was, I’ll be honest, I did not do A level biology, I did not know what the respiratory system was. I did not know anything about biology or anatomy.
I revised for a couple of weeks before the assessment. And when I came to do the assessment, I was ready in my head… but I could have actually got the entire thing wrong online, right the answers, then re-do it in real life. This was the theory side, pretty crap.
The actual practical assessment was in itself: take me through a cardio machine, free weight exercise, take me through this resistance machine exercise, core exercise. Show me how to turn on/off the treadmill, the incline and speed. Let’s go around the gym and show me a bench-press or barbell squat. Show me a seated cable row, use a chest press machine. Tense your glutes, retract your shoulders blades, and for core teaching, show me how to do a crunch. That was it.
Yeah I know, that’s only 5 weeks now, you can be a PT in 5 weeks
Yeah even less than that.
Yeah 4 weeks you just have to pay 1000 quid and it works.
Haha yeah just give a grand. That’s only what you have to pay and it’s quite cheap.
I actually wanted to be a PT back then, but that was going against what I thought, I thought I’d almost unlearn stuff… Some stuff like anatomy is interesting you know but some things like building muscle, they’re just gonna give you very scientific stuff but I’d rather trust big natural bodybuilders with good experience. Sometimes you find things contradicting themselves when it comes to science in bodybuilding…
Yeah it’s a very subjective industry in a sense where you can find evidence supporting your argument regardless of the argument. You can find scientific studies supporting “for or against” any principles within fitness.
Yeah, so literally the fitness PT industry, watch out who you are going to ask advice or services to. Some people take stuff and get results from it blowing up from the “stuff” rather than knowing how to train. And some PTs will be bad and they just know the theory they’ve learnt in the courses in 4 weeks. You look at some people in the gym, they don’t know what they are talking about. They cost a lot as well. People pay so much for them, quite crazy. Happy we could talk about this.
Yeah, the more we talk about it, and the more I’m exposed to the level of these types of PTs out there and the scarier it gets..
It’s getting worse yes
Yes, until there is some sort of regulation it’s pretty scary. And I think today it relies on the fact it’s your responsibility as a client if you are looking for a coach to follow this guy that you want to put on board for a while. Is he getting results? Are current clients of theirs giving results.… I don’t know why I am saying he, sorry it can also be a woman haha.
This is a man’s podcast alright! (lol)
You need to see what results they get, what they talk about, are they contradicting themselves? Are they being called out by a lot of people? You can’t fact check everything they say, but you need to monitor things quite closely.
Yeah, you gotta make sure. There will be these 1% for example who will be on gear and you can actually listen to, maybe they’ve been good naturally etc… But most of them these days are doing the bro pump kind of training.
You see them doing front raises where they turn the plates like a steering wheel , Arnold presses. Another important metric with coaching is that they need to show you evidence of why they do this. If they are gonna post their entire workout for example, back and biceps. Why are they doing 3×10, why they are doing lat pull down, why barbell row, why lat pull downs before barbell rows? You need to know why they are doing this for.
Nowadays you use some people using barbells instead of dumbbells for lateral raises. It looks cool.
Yeeah, the fucking barbell lateral raises, what youuuu doing.
I have been seeing this for a while, 2-3 years, always new things invented because that sells. Because that sells, people don’t wanna hear it’s all about the basics.
Yeah if people say “I’ve never seen that exercise before” – well yeah, amazingly enough it’s because it doesn’t work!
Let’s go in another direction now about training, I saw that you said you didn’t wanna teach people to do some silly elastic gymshark pump workouts and instead teach efficient workouts. How do you teach a natural bodybuilder to train?
I mean, there is a lot of disparity in the fitness industry on how many exercises, sets, volume you should do. There is no definitive answer to that, I don’t wanna say low volume is better than high volume, I don’t wanna say high reps is better than low reps for building muscle.
I would recommend them all. There is no evidence and literature that says 6 reps is better than 30 reps for hypertrophy but we know it falls in between those two metrics, 6 to 30 reps. What I would say, Whatever exercise you’re gonna choose to do (5 or 8 in a session), each set, you do should fall in between 6 and 30 reps.
For a lot of people they’ll do the same sets 3 times for a given exercise. Take a barbell bench, 60kg, 3 sets of 10 reps. Now, with that principle, the first set by default has to be way easier than the last set, which makes no sense. The only thing which should stay consistent in your training is the difficulty, the intensity, that’s the one metric which should stay consistent the whole session. From compound to isolation, first set, last set.
The difficulty needs to stay the same because to stimulate muscle protein breakdown, to create myofiber tears in the muscle, you need to train intensely and train hard. People say I’ll do 70 to 80 %, you can’t do that if you are doing 3×10 at the same weights (the first set will be too easy). For every set pick a rep range and pick a weight which is gonna be 70 to 80 percent.
So what I personally do is take a low volume approach, a top set which is a bit heavier, 6 to 12 reps and then a back off set which will be anywhere from 12-20 reps .That’s for the compound. Then with isolation movements you can easily go over 20 reps. With isolation exercises you should not… Well, it is not really that you should not but going for 6-10 reps in isolation can sacrifice your form. You would not really do 6 reps with lateral raises.
I am a bit of a weird case but that’s what I do. Even incline curls for 2-3 reps.
Actually yeah I did it the other day the strict curls with 24 kg.
You fell into the competitions of strict curls lol
Well to me as long as you progress it’s fine, progressive overload, as long as you get stronger doing enough volume and understand how things work you can go with “any” program.
I think as well with me and you having reasonable training experience, it sounds silly but we know what a contraction feels like. We know how to contract our biceps. Even if we were doing a way which is 2-3 reps on the bicep curl we would still know how to feel our biceps and get maximum contraction. But a beginner might not be able to do this because they are not used to this yet, neurologically. Isolation for beginners on low reps might be damaging. Their form would compromise and wouldn’t get any load to the muscle. Because feeling a contraction is an incredibly hard thing to do.
As well if you are starting, you don’t have the muscles to do it. We can actually talk about the lats. People always complain about not feeling their lats and I was the same.
Lol, I still struggle feeling my lats lol
Haha really, well, what I am saying is that feeling biceps is easier when you are starting than feeling the lats, growing up we have all flexed our biceps as a joke, we’re used to that muscle.
The lats, it’s like what the hell is that muscle. You don’t have it at all at the beginning. When you start going to the gym, you’ll just start building muscle overall and that’s when you build some base for lats and be able to feel it. Also we could talk about seal rows, that’s in my opinion a great exercise because you are stable, I would advise it for beginners.
Coming back to maxes on isolation movements or biceps. I wanted to add that I would actually warm-up a lot before doing those maxes on isolation movements. My warm up would actually be what people consider…
Like a working set.
Yeah cause I would actually take warm-up very seriously when I was training a lot and my warm up would be proportional to how long I train, so like 15 minutes minimum.
I was very ready. I think some people might wanna jump on isolation movements like you said without being ready mentally and physically. If they wanna try the heavy sets they need to be really ready. The warm up is very important. So you must teach your clients that as well?
Yeah, I will do this to all my clients in my coaching templates. I will recommend a certain amount of warm-up. The majority of time unless they are complete beginners I will recommend them to what I refer as feeler sets – start when you feel ready. That’s personal to each. I’ll tell them to start their working sets when they feel ready.
Everyone is different. For bench for example, 1 plate, 10 reps, 2 plates 10 rep, 3 sets, however much…. For me, I only need 2-3 reps for each set. If I am going to the 24s for dumbell curls. I’ll do 16kg for 4 reps each side, then 20s up for 2 -3 reps either side. One thing we see is when people do back squat or deadlift: set 1, 1 plate, 10 reps. Set 2, 2 plates, 10 reps. Set 3, 3 plates, 10 reps.
Just accumulating 1000kg worth of workout volume in your warm-up in your session. Whether or not you feel fucked, you will be. And also you might not feel fatigued but you will be mechanically. You’d get more out of this if you brought down your warm-up volume down to 2-3 reps for each set.
Yeah so what I’d do instead of going for this approach of too many reps, I would for example on the bench go very slowly, 18.104.22.168 (every 10kg) etc but I would just do 2-3 reps. I would not tire myself but I would still give my body to be ready by going 10 by 10 up to my maxes/working sets. Or you can warm up with light sets which won’t tire you much?
The term warming up itself is mobilising the joints and actually getting some blood in the muscle. I actually do some isolation before compounds anyway, on a push day before the bench, I’ll do flies. I’ll do leg curls or extensions before squatting, pull overs before rows, deadlift, rack pulls. The only thing for me for these quote unquote warm up sets for the compound movements is that it’s more for me to develop a neurological connection.
Almost like riding a bike which stabilizes before actually riding a bike if that makes sense. It’s not anything that I need to do physically because I am warm. I have already warmed the muscle in isolation before. It’s more nervous. It’s not anything that I need to do physically, it’s more to just feel comfortable with the exercise and feel comfortable with the movement pattern. Like doing passing drills before a football game, you are already warm but you want to get used to the movement, motor pattern.
Yes, all good! That was interesting.
Wait, are you still clipping your toes?
No I’m done 😉
The session is over haha.
I saw a post as well, one of my favourite exercises ever is lateral raises. I saw you talked about it, why do you also like this exercise so much?
It’s almost like, if you’re looking for this V taper shape and wide lats…well to complete that you need big delts, you need big round 3d wide delts. And that’s kind of the exercise you need. With front delts it’s not the same, if you press 2-3 times on your chest exercises for example and one is vertical press and lifting heavy, front delts don’t need much at all on your shoulder days.
It’s almost like, if you’re looking for this V taper shape and wide lats…well to complete that you need big delts, you need big round 3d wide delts. And that’s kind of the exercise you need. With front delts it’s not the same, if you press 2-3 times on your chest exercises for example and one is vertical press and lifting heavy, front delts don’t need much at all on your shoulder days.
Front delts don’t need much work at all since they’re always used. The medial delts don’t get as much as front delts so It is important to go hard on lateral raises. It’s important to still go with progressive overload on these lateral raises just as much with other exercise, muscle groups. Get strong at lateral raises, some sort of lateral raises machines, at crucifix cables lateral raises for example, whatever.
Yeah that’s the thing, people never try to improve on isolation movements. They stay light forever.
They use the 8s till they feel “the buuurn” man lol
So something I say a lot is that today 15kg lateral raises for someone starting might feel heavy but if they keep improving these 15kg will feel light one day. You should not limit yourself to not improve because it’s an isolation movement. When I started the gym 50kg on the bench was heavy but today I can get a huge amount of reps on it. Don’t limit yourselves.
Sure, although I’d keep standards. I’d say some amateurs might want to go for 15kg lateral raises and not be clean. If I was to go for 15kg I’d go and get 8-10 reps very clean. Dumbell lateral raises I think are the hardest to maintain overload with. You can get pretty fast to 15-20kg lateral dumbbell raises but that can plateau quite quickly.
That’s where cable work can come, or lateral raises machines, tempo work, seated, chest supported, control eccentrics, isometric contractions. There is so much room towards finding ways out to keep improving on these types of movements where going super heavy might be “dangerous” (rotator cuff, etc).
Working on high reps as well, it’s easier to improve going from 18 reps to 20 reps than 3 reps to 4 reps for example.
There are so many ways and intensity techniques to do that. Rest pause, dropsets. Even if you train at home, and have a pair of 7.5. There are ways to go close to failure with your medial delts even with 5kg dumbells.
Who knows, if there is a mega corona virus hitting again ang going back to lockdown… If you have to train at home you can go with intensity techniques, pre-fatigue yourself. Find ways where it’s as hard as if you actually had heavy stuff but with light weights. But try to find heavy stuff at home regardless.
Yeah you can get creative with it.
Yeah I have seen you doing all these things during the lockdown, getting creative with all your stuff. Some gardening shit.
I had all sorts. I managed to create a cable stack using a backpack filled with rocks. I created a seal row because I had a little bench that went across two walls and had the barbell hanging down from there. Because I didn’t have a barbell and as I had a trampoline I pulled out the trampoline’s bar and attached it to Tesco carrier bags for life. Then put the plates in the bags, attached resistant bands to that.
I remember following this and it was even better following that when you commented it with your Yorkshire accent. That made it good.
So right now though…within the training topic still, you’re injured at the moment?
Training isn’t particularly good at the moment, yeah.
What’s been the methods to cope with this situation?
I have had an hernia for a few years now on my l5 left side, two bulging disks on my l3, l4 on my right. Spinal loading, hip hinging… any sort of loaded movement has been very difficult for me to progress on. The main issue comes from spinal compression. Any form of squat variation and weirdly enough, any form of vertical press, dumbbells shoulder press, incline, military plate, or sometimes even a plate loaded shoulder press hurt. Those movements have aggravated.
I am doing intense physio for it but in the meantime my exercises have had to be chest supported. Any sort of posterior work has to be chest supported, sometimes unilateral so I can use the other side of my spine to support it.
It means my lower back is severely underdeveloped. Core strength isn’t great. I have luckily again started back squats, deadlifts, pulling from the floor. I have to go back to the basics.
No chest supported rows or hack squat anymore. back at it.
When you get injured that’s when you start understanding exercise selection a bit more, when you struggle to find things to do.
My training at the moment is not hypertrophy orientated anyway or to grow as much muscle as possible..It’s not an optimal environment to do so at the moment. My objective is just to be mobile and have some functionality in my spine.
If we are talking hypertrophy, my lats, quads, hamstrings, lats… My delts can press over 100kg, my quad hamstring could potentially squat between 150-180kg… but my lower back and core can’t handle two plates. There is a huge difference.
I can’t train for hypertrophy, my spine and core can’t handle the same load as my limbs.
Just back end work and thinking long term then and go back to hypertrophy later.
Hopefully it gets better.
Would there be any other tips for people who are injured? (I guess it’s good to be grateful for being able to train when not injured).
One thing I’ll have to say. However you do train, because everyone trains differently, everyone enjoys things differently: some people like doing HIIT training, aerobic training, high reps, low reps training. Whatever you do, just make sure you are implementing some sort of progressive overload. What that means is everytime you step in the gym, make sure it is better than last time, even if it is just by a rep, by a kilo.
Even if it’s the exact same session but with better form and technique that’s fine it’s progressive overload. Write down things and track records, that’s the only way to monitor things. If you can’t record things you can’t improve. If for example you go for leg extensions one week and can do 8 reps at 40 kg but the next time you go there you remember doing 40kg but won’t remember that you did 6,8 or 10reps that’s an issue.
You can even regress. If you regress you give no adaptation. Your muscles will only grow if you give it a reason to grow, that reason being progressive training, if you are not getting better, getting stronger, you’re not building muscle, you’re just spinning wheels.
Yeah we are coming back to gymshark training, pump training, we don’t want that!
I always mention gymshark to be honest haha.
It’s those silly workouts like shocking the muscle, whatever that means.
If you want to improve, you have to write everything down and know exactly what you are doing. People do it the american way bro style, “just gonna go how I feel”. That’s not how it works.
Leg press with front raise,turn around, touch the ground, 360 no scope whatever.
Bit of lateral raises with barbells.
Easy bar lateral raises. Overhead press while sitting down on the calf machine lol
Haha, yeah ridiculous. So now we are going to go to the nutrition part, you fucking love it on Instagram.
You often go nuts on nutrition and I think there is a first very important question.
What do you think of people comparing 10 gr of protein of steaks to 10 gr of broccolis?
Stupiiiid. A 100kcal of broccoli first isn’t 11 grams of protein. It’s false. Then 100 calories of steaks isn’t 8 grams of protein, also false. Both of these figures were stupid. Imagine tryna eat 100 gr of broccoli in one go. You’d give birth and feel like a cinder block is coming out of you. Just stupid man.
So it’s your anrgy moment against people posting stupid shit on instagram.
If I got angry for every single stupid post on instagram I’d be a miserable guy.
Imagine if you were on steroids and having roids rage, that would not be good. You’d kill some guys talking about broccolis.
I saw as well that you have clients who might not understand everything about macros. Because they don’t want to bother about this, just get results and not really get to understand what all the macros mean. That’s funny because it’s easy to understand but hard at the same time. Some people on fb groups just don’t understand it at all, that calorie deficit thing. It’s so simple and so hard at the same time for some people.
I think the idea of macros itself, the education behind what each macro does, why we eat carbs, protein, fat is not the complicated part. It’s the tediousness of calculating the macros. I think that’s what people aren’t wanting to do. It’s boring and I completely get that.
They’re like “why would I weigh out my cereals before eating them, let me have my bowl and eat them”. When clients tell me I don’t wanna measure macros, I’ll work around them, I don’t want to force them. What I do is that I will try to educate them behind what each macro does.
The protein being the most important macronutrients behind hypertrophy, I will put stress on the fact each meal should have its protein source and give them examples of protein sources. I give them an estimate so they can make their own meal. I give them serving sizes so they can do their own meals.
When you tell people to prioritise protein source in a meal with for example 4 servings a day, hitting from 120 to 260 grams a day depending on the person, naturally the calorie intake will come down because it makes you so full.
Protein stays longer in the digestive system. I tend not to have trouble with people who don’t track macros because the byproduct of eating more protein makes naturally decrease the amount of calories in general a person’s eat.
I kinda understand for not tracking macros as this is what I’ve done most of the time, I’d just eat like a gorilla as much as possible. Kinda like…
Eat big to get big.
Yeah, but I would still have some sort of measuring techniques, tools, like looking at my abs (if I add some fat), scaling myself often. I guess if you’re the “lazy type”, look at your abs, the scale. Track your macros once for all then kinda eat the same thing all the time.
Yeah, I’ve got two clients who I’d say to: take a picture of your breakfast or dinner or meal and send it to me. If I can get them to send me their meals each week I have an idea of what their meals look like. I can work their macros for them. Let’s take a bit of that off, add this here and there…
I have a client this week, who I said to her she could probably work with around 30 grams of cheese, guacamole – an extra fat source around one of her meals. Her weight loss plateaued this week despite bringing a step goal. So for lunch or dinner I told her to pick where she’d want to take these 30grams off again.
She’s taken a half a kilo off since. That’s the type of adjustments we do. She doesn’t need to have an emotional attachment to food. People should try not to. That’s one of the primary reasons why people don’t want to track food. Not only is it tedious work and boring, but a lot of people come from eating disorder backgrounds where the numbers can be really damaging for them. So going this way, it stops any sort of trigger.
Very interesting man, thanks for sharing that.
I wanted to go to the mental health part or locker room talk, whatever!
You sometimes mentioned ego in your posts on Instagram, does talking about ego a way of lessening your ego?
The first part of solving a problem is recognising that it is an issue. I definitely have in the past been wearing stringers to the gym that leave very little to the imagination. Although, I’d never been the guy to not put my weights away, never been stood there shouting and stuff so people look at me but I have…
The smart way of showing off? Haha
Kind of yeah lol, but I have always been competitive and wanted to be the biggest or the strongest guy in the room.
If there was a guy stronger next to me, I’d just need to add more plates to my bar.
Where does it come from?
To be honest with you, I am not too sure, I feel like it is genetics. My father has always been like that and been a very competitive bloke, playing football, hate losing the same way I do. In football I get competitive. In running I have done a lot of long distance running and been competitive there in a lot of aspects. But as I said I am working on it and trying to reduce it. And to be honest the injury, the back injury and training from scratch and having to deadlift only 40kg from the floor has finally taken me to realise no one gives a damn about it. It has taken me to squat less than my girlfriend to realise that it does not matter at all.
No it doesn’t and I guess ego comes from the fact to feel like you’re not as good as someone else?
Ego is finding your validation from someone else. It is external validation which should not be the motive for training.
It’s just it’s a hard thing as a human… but I guess if you reflect on you get better at it. And recognising it as you said is probably the first step. Definitely a hard thing to cope with.
I think it’s even more so difficult to recognise it. I never thought it was a problem until this injury came. I seriously struggled to deadlift only with 10kg aside. A couple of months before I was rowing 3 plates. Making that transition was heartbreaking. The first time I did it, I went to the gym at 9 am, empty gym, so no one would really see me. It took a while to take over.
As humans it’s like the reptilian side of us where we want to be the best, but you have to be able to help your rivalries at the same time and go more for cooperation. I guess it comes back to being the best of yourself, focusing on oneself rather than comparing to others.
Yeah you have to shift your objective from wanting to being the biggest in the room. Last year, I did not want to be shredded to be shredded. I wanted to be shredded so people would look at him thinking a certain way. It’s a complete wrong way of thinking. Exercise should not be to please others and find validation from other people. That’s where I got it wrong. But that’s also the premise of bodybuilding. You are being judged on others and judges. The sport is based on external validation, impressing judges.
You could do it for yourself as your own person but then the mass will always follow the dumb shit. Just gotta surround yourself with those who understand that as well I guess?
Social media rewards the most shredded, biggest, strongest, most impressive. Seeing that and being part of that system contributes to damaging you a hell of a lot.
It’s the goal of Buddhism to enlighten everyone to stop doing this! Let’s go.
One instagram account at a time, we are trying.
That’s quite funny actually cause you talk about ego and stuff because of judgment of others but you are not scared of talking out loud on your Instagram. That’s strange how you’d care about what people think about your physique but not what you say.
Why is there that difference?
That’s a valid question.
Just the physical aspect which bothered you more than anything else?
I think I have been associating the physical aspect, the good physique, with the success I have had so far. I have associated a good physique to being attractive to my girlfriend, having more clients, having instagram engagement. It feels as if, if I lose that, I’ll lose my personality, my identity. I associate my abs with my personality, even though I know that’s not true. It’s hard to dissociate from that mindset that my physique is not everything.
I guess as well it takes time to change if you’ve always been thinking that way.
Yes, it is rewiring.
Yes that’s the thing, a lot of people will associate having a better body to being more confident. So if we talk about the girls, a lot of guys do get more confident thanks to their better bodies and think they get more girls thanks to that, whether girls probably like them because they are more confident.
Yeah exactly, I also think very few people are actually trying to get a physique to that degree. When I went to a music festival in Spain, I presumed having a few more veins or shading a bit more of my waist would be the factor for getting laid or not.
But then because I was the only one with my top off there, it’s almost putting off. It almost went backwards. I was kidding myself. No one cares if I had striations in my delt or not. The only person that might care would be a bodybuilder judge and I was not getting up on stage so…
Yeah classic, also when you go to the nightclub you’ll expect girls and then it’s one bloke, two blokes, three blokes, four blokes, how much you benching?
What do you take bro, what’s your stack bro.
You are on gear, you take protein? Every bloke after training for 2-3 years realize they better do it because they’re passionate man haha
Alright cool so after the ego thing now. Did you have a struggle with bigorexia, body-dysmorphia?
Hum… I suppose yes!
That’s a big thing, I’ve had it, everyone has it, you usually fall for it at some point. I saw one of your posts mentioning this so I thought I’d ask you about it.
Well one thing having been in the bodybuilding scene for a while and following bodybuilding, you are always in this environment of what a physique should “look like”. For example, I like classic physique. The criterias are huge V taper, tiny waist, massive lats. Then with my instagram feed being with Breon, Chris Bumstead, these sorts of people.
All the sudden, your reality of what a physique should look like is really distorted. What human beings should look like.
There are so many impressive physiques then I look at myself: wide hips, under-developped back, it makes you feel “inferior”. But then if I walk around the average joe at Hyde park, I realise I look pretty big, I’ve got pretty big arms, big delts.
So to feel better do you just walk around Hyde park haha
Haha yeah I’ll go for a run top off
Go around people smoking weed and show them what you’ve got.
Yeah to feel better about my physique.
Also, because my social media circle account is so small and niche, everyone is a stage competitor. Most people are on gear as well. My vision is fucked.
The issue is for people starting fitness, mostly right now, when there have never been as many people on gear on Instagram. So many people are being driven to start fitness and see these huge guys. Social media is so correlated to this.
Social media also really rewards this. The bigger, the most gear, the more likes you get. The more potential clients you get… The worst metric to look at to get a PT is look at how they look. As we know, a good physique does not mean good knowledge on training and nutrition.
You can get a good physique by doing virtually nothing but just having good genetics and using a good amount of gear. Social media rewards people who look good. Even me at some point, I have been thinking of anabolic steroids for a long time, it distorts your vision, even if you are aware of what steroids will do, you wonder what life could look like using those.
Yeah, it’s probably the issue right now, despite knowing what steroids could do, some people might still do it. But in 10 years, it will suck.
That’s the thing as well now, you have 2-3 friends from your social circle who go to the gym and you will like their posts and then all of the sudden Instagram algorithms show you all these “naked girls” and guys with huge and good physiques.
I remember you doing a story about that haha
Instagram will just show you these guys on gear. I just wanted to support my friends lol. I think the only guys who you could believe are some good natural bodybuilders. Like you said good physique does not mean good knowledge at all.
Which makes it such a minefield to figure out who you should be speaking to. Because if you can’t judge by the physique. And a level 3 or 4 pt qualification doesn’t make people right. Then you wonder, who can I actually trust?
It’s a difficult question to answer.
Yeah, hopefully after everyone listens to this podcast, of course, it will be ok lol.
So now the fun part of the podcast. I did it last time when I did a podcast. I am trying to guess the favourite muscle part of the person I am talking to.
Well, you’ll have to give me time to think about what that is first haha. It depends, is it training or?
Well because today was about the ego and shit, then let’s talk about the muscle which looks best on you.
Well you can probably guess then.
Delts right, with the veins?
Yeah, delts, I have got the right genetics. The genetic delt vein running in the middle of it. I am lucky to have that because you can’t really train for that.
So when you discovered the veins you thought: that’s my favourite muscle! The shoulder guy.
I am going to try and guess yours. I don’t know, maybe biceps? Potentially lats?
Right yeah, I am a big fan of biceps. Don’t know if that’s the one I prefer as I think triceps is the biggest of my body. I would train biceps four times more than triceps, but triceps would just blow.
Yeah it just naturally grows like that
Yeah I have got big arms, good genetics for that, but I have also trained them like crazy. Not the 15mn type of pump training, I have trained them a long time on them not the classical pump bro stuff. I am glad you did not say legs. I would have been surprised.
Like you said, 4 times more biceps than triceps, that’s why you won’t see me post my own workouts. I don’t advocate training like someone/anyone else. Everyone responds differently to training.
One person might grow dramatically, blow up with two sets of squats at 2 plates, the other person might need to do leg extensions, back squats, leg press, lunges and not grow a 5th of what some people will do. Why copy someone’s workout? There is so much individuality for training.
Yeah I say that a lot, it’s a lot about the basics but it’s also adapting to what you look like. You know, if you have short biceps, be careful how you incline your bench for incline curls. Just adapt it to who you are, you know. It’s important like you said.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years, if you survive corona?
Around hyde park?
Haha, hopefully nowhere in the uk…!
You wanna lose your accent?
No just hope I’ll be abroad somewhere!
Well the coaching business has just gone full time. So I quit my job at xercise4less picking dumbbells up for people. So yeah full time, hopefully I can upscale that. I’d like to continue to educate myself, couple more seminars, lectures, fitness courses, nutrition modules. And then, physique training wise, I’d like to have a strong deadlift, squat a lot of weight, pull a lot of weight. 4 plates on squat, deadlifting more than that. Hopefully things go better for my back.
Surely it will.
For the PT stuff, I was just wondering on Instagram, was it all from organic traffic or word of mouth?
A few clients I already knew them personally from Facebook and Instagram, not hard to advertise to. But then I’ve had people just messaging me from the explore page. I get a lot of external engagement on Instagram.
People share my stuff. And because I portray quite an extroverted personality in my stories, people are like “hey man, really love your content, how much do you charge for coaching?”. Then I just get on a call with them. So it’s 50/50 split between people that I know in real life or online.
Cool that it’s working! Last question, what’s happening with people unfollowing you on instagram??
I dont know what the fuck is going on, I’d love to message them and be like, what the hell are you doing?
There are apps for that!
I was gonna say, I had these apps before but I got banned from instagram for a week. I’d unfollow people from the app. I genuinely don’t know what it is, I have tried everything!
I have tried football content, ab shots, informative content, content about balance, what the heck do you want!
But my turnover is not too bad!
Oh well, still got a lot of people following you too! The real people are staying there 😉
The old Gs!
Key points to remember!
- Don’t leave your weights in the gym floor area 😉
- You can start your coaching business by focusing on Instagram and posting top-notch content. Make sure you have experience and that you’re going to give it a 100% – start by reaching out to your peers and let the organic traffic come to you! You also don’t need a huge amount of followers to start doing so!
- Choose your PT wisely! Nowadays it is very easy to become a personal trainer. A lot of PTs do not have that true experience to teach you the ways! Make sure they’re a good fit for you by asking them questions and the results they give to their clients.
- Sometimes in bodybuilding, it’s better to trust experience over science! Why? Because there will always be scientific articles for/against one theory. Of course science is interesting but bodybuilding really is about the basics, there aren’t as many things as people think there are to learn how to build muscle.
- Don’t do pump trainings. Focus on progressive overload, a structured routine where you write everything down. Without writing things down, you have no landmarks, therefore can’t progress.
- Build the bases, don’t go too heavy when being a complete beginner so you don’t sacrifice your form and let neurological/nervous adaptation to the movements.
- Seals rows can be a great exercise as a beginner to learn how to feel your lats, they can also be done when injured in some cases as they’re chest supported.
- You can warm-up slowly and progressively without burning yourself out by doing low reps. Instead of doing 10 reps + 10 reps + 10 reps you can do 2-3 reps +2-3 reps etc…
- Hammer lateral raises! You won’t regret it to build your medial delts! Oppositely avoid front raises, you already work them a lot on all pressing movements like bench-press.
- Whatever training you do…be it HIIT, aerobic training, high reps or low rep schemes, you have to implement some sort of progressive overload! If you don’t improve your muscles have no reason to grow.
- If you struggle to improve, high reps can help you. Improving on high reps can be easier, if you have to go from 3 hard reps to 4 reps, it will ask you tremendous energy to go from 3 to 4 whether if you have to go from 18 to 20 reps, it’s easier.
- Be creative at home and try to go as heavy as possible compared to what you normally do in the gym.
- Tesco bags for life are the shit 👌
- If your back is injured, you can go for chest supported movements or unilateral work so you can use the other side of your spine to support the movement. You can also do some back-end work (weaknesses, neglected muscle like calves, forearms, rear delts) and mobility work.
- Instagram has a lot of wrong information, make sure you find the right persons to follow
- Recognising a problem is the first part of solving it
- No one really cares how much you lift, feel free to reduce the weights you use if your form is not good
- Bodybuilding is a sport based on the premise of others and social media is pretty pressuring on how you should look, but try and lift for yourself, to feel better for you and not others.
- Don’t compare yourself too much to others on social media not to develop bigorexia. Social media will only show the very best athletes out there and there is a lot of drug use in the industry.
- A good physique does not mean good knowledge, find very few good sources of information in the fitness industry but don’t listen to everyone left and right just because they have a good physique.
- Don’t copy your friend’s program. Stick to the basics and when you’re more intermediate, adapt your program to your body-morphology and new knowledge!