Updated: Jan 14, 2020
This post is a dedicated to the 3 most important lessons I learnt during what seemed like the fastest year of my life - 2017. This collection of lessons covers many different areas of exercise and nutrition, each one ending in a short but sweet summary of the take home points. So here goes...
This is the year I did shit I enjoyed. I've tried more different training styles and sports this year than ever before (most of which are listed in the next lesson), simply because I wanted to give them a go. I wasn't concerned with what was popular or what wasn't, it was a case of learning as much as possible about what I was interested in and giving them a go.
But it wasn't my own varied training that I leant a lesson from, it was that of an ex-R5er by the name of Glen.
When I first started working with Glen, I would go as far as saying he despised what I go him to do. Every session seemed to put him one step closer to walking out the door and never coming back - which as a coach was tough, because I know that for longevity of exercise the client has to find enjoyment.
Inevitably however, Glen got fitter and he began to enjoy pushing himself - hoorah! But I still felt like Glen saw exercise as not something he enjoyed doing but something he had to do in order to obtain the physique he wanted and maybe justify the biscuits he had a sweet spot for.
So when I organised a Team R5 colour run Glen didn't exactly jump at the chance, but fair play he said he would come along. The run actually couldn't have gone better - in fact a month later myself and 4 other R5ers signed ourselves up to a Tough Mudder, including GLEN! Again, we all loved it and a month later we did another one. Tough Mudder's have now become an annual thing for the Team R5 crew but for one person it's become a whole lot more.
To my knowledge Glen did 5 Tough Mudders in 2017. He actually did a few of the Solo-Mudder events where people who are running alone race each other. Through this he found a fitness community and I even saw they had a Solo-Mudders xmas do - Legend! Glen also did a handful of other events in 2017 including some rough runners, 10k runs, the Sheffield Half Marathon and has even booked himself onto a 34 mile run next October. This man has no limits!
Lesson learnt: There's enjoyment in exercise for everyone! It will be tough initially, you will want to give up and possibly never return lol! But if you try enough things and endeavour to improve your fitness, you will find a form of exercise you love, enjoy and find fullfilliment from.
I had a holiday this year! Which meant doing what every bro should do - "Get freakin shredded". So my holiday was the last week of August, which meant fat loss proceedings started Monday 29th May 2017. Earlier in the year my training was very cardio heavy. Cycling everywhere. Running twice per week. Conditioning/Crossfit workouts twice per week. Boxing once per week. Looking back I guess you could have named that the 'Jack of all trades, master of none' training program.
However, when beginning the holiday fat loss phase, I had taken 2 weeks off training due to an elbow injury and essentially, well... got fat AF so to speak. So I began from scratch. I started extremely slow lifting weights 5x per week. After 3 weeks I then began adding some cardio. I walked 3x per week for 45 mins. My intention was to steadily increase the intensity of these cardio sessions to 45 minute runs, then add HIIT sessions. But to my surprise, the walking seemed to work!
As the weeks went by I steadily dropped calories from 3,500 to 1,500 (possibly too low imo). But alongside my weight I steadily increased the walking to every day. It became something I looked forward to. Every morning I'd get up at the crack of dawn, walk 45 mins around Norfolk Park, listen to a podcast/audiobook and then get on with my day. There was never a need for any crazy intense cardio sessions, I just consistently walked, lifted weights and monitored calories. It really was that simple. I got down to around 11% body fat doing this method and if it can work for me, it will most definitely work for you.
Lesson learnt: NEVER underestimate walking. Just because you aren't huddled over a bin spewing your guts up, sweating out every big of moisture - doesn't mean it's not effective. Whack on music or an audiobook and enjoy your cardio for a change.
During the last 6 months of 2017 I reverted back to my favourite style of training. Bodybuilding. It's where I began, and seems to be where my heart lies when it comes to training. During my 10+ years of lifting weights I must have tried every imaginable hypertrophy technique in a bid to stress, confuse and ultimately adapt muscle into growth. But last year I cracked, what I feel, is the most important aspect of bodybuilding... building!
I've followed a well known UK bodybuilder by the name of Jordan Peters (@trainedbyjp) for several years now. But this year my good friend Nick Screeton recommend I sign unto his membership site. So I did, and quickly found myself engrossed in his video content. After binge watching weeks worth of video's in 48 hours, I began developing my own training program based around Jordan's core principles for bodybuilding.
My plan consisted of 15 different workouts over 3 weeks, over 130 different exercises, but one main principle... lift progressively heavier, eat progressively more. There aren't any fancy hypertrophy techniques involved - not a dropset, superset or slow eccentric in sight. Just getting super strong through the 10-12 and 15-20 rep ranges... and I can report only good things. I'm currently the heaviest I've ever been whilst maintaining a moderately low level of body fat. Every rep and every calorie has been tacked which has allowed me to steadily progress over a 6 month period.
My goal on the program isn't to breakdown muscle to the point of submission. It's what Jordan calls a power-bodybuilding style of training. Were the goal is to get stronger, but through bodybuilding rep ranges and exercises. I've implemented this approach with several clients too, who have all not only seen big increases in size and strength but also enjoyed the style of training due to the variety and constant tacking and accountability. In 2017 JP made it very clear in my mind what is really important when it comes to building a physique.
Lesson learnt: If you're goal if to get big. Aim to get as strong as possible through bodybuilding exercises and rep ranges. Track lifts and calories. Increase simultaneously to maximum results.