As we mentioned last week, we’re all training for our annual photo shoot in six weeks time. We thought it would be fun to share some of our trainers’ training diaries, so you can see how PTs get themselves in shape. Last weeks entry big Tim Digan is here, This week it’s the turn of Lee Bennett.
The Return of The King
One year ago I called my fellow Evolve trainers Haks and Max into the consultation room ‘for a laugh’ to take my before pictures… and many laughs were had. I had, for lack of a better phrase, “let myself go” and was sitting at a rather plump 32% body-fat. How the mighty had fallen, the day I held aloft my British bodybuilding title was but a whisper. Once upon a time, I was king.
I wasn’t training regularly, I was using excuses regarding injuries and my diet, well, let’s just say I was a “do as I say, not as I do” kinda guy at the time, I was basically ‘Mickey’ from ‘Rocky’ but fat and drunk, not old and deaf. Pretty much just eating whatever I wanted and drinking enough to rival Oliver Reed. These before photos will be released when I have returned to my former glory at this year’s photoshoot for you all to enjoy.
Which brings us to now, why am I doing this? I managed to stabilize my body weight at something a little more respectable for a personal trainer over the summer despite still enjoying the odd (daily) drink. I had an opportunity come up with my acting career and landed a role in ‘Vikings’. I trained more and cleaned up my diet, as I should considering I’m marketed as an ‘action actor. I flew to Ireland for the job over a period of 6 weeks, and true to form I managed to actually put weight on over the shoot on accounts of being in Ireland and my love for Guiness (and food) On my return and on reflection of my time on ‘Vikings’ it was time to stop fucking about and start taking myself and my career seriously.
So here we are, 6 weeks out from the shoot, 6 weeks out from my promise of being in better shape than the last shoot 2 years ago. Im sat at 19% body-fat, training hard (around my injuries) eating well and still have a fuck load of work to do before I’m considered ‘shoot ready’ but then this is my house, this is my game and this is what I do.
I have been doing this for over 15 years. I’m also as many people are, a busy person with an ever changing diary and schedule, so my training approach is largely dictated by my weekly schedule, and how I feel.
My basic rule is training each muscle group once per week with a hypertrophy rep range of 8-12 to muscular failure. That being said I am dealing with some injuries and having to incorporate a rehab program into my training at the start of every session which can also make training to muscular failure quite difficult, so I adapt where necessary to a higher rep range with a lighter weight. Current issues are as follows:
Right shoulder impingement due to rotator cuff
Left elbow stiffness and pain due to forearm in-flexibility
Left knee issues due to tight IT band and hip flexor
Right foot pain due to over compensation from above knee issue and ligament damage
All of these issues are stemming from a weakness in my lower back from years ago when I split a disc in my lower back, all sounds very dramatic right! Well it’s all fixable with the correct core training and rehab program, and as much as it bores the shit out of me, I have to do it. What’s my point? Don’t use injuries as an excuse, work smarter, not harder.
A typical weights split for me at the moment is as follows:
Monday – Rehab – Chest and Biceps and forearms – Cardio (If not exhausted)
Tuesday – Rehab – Back and Triceps – Cardio (If not exhausted)
Wednesday – Cardio (Train if not too busy)
Thursday – Rehab – Quads, hamstrings, calves and Shoulders – Cardio (If not exhausted)
Friday – Rehab – Tidy up any bits I may have missed or didn’t feel I hit hard enough – maybe cardio
Saturday – Tidy up any bits I may have missed or didn’t feel I hit hard enough (Probably chest and arms again) maybe cardio
Sunday – Rest day – Or saturdays workout if I missed it.
I know this seems a little vague but I work around my schedule and how my body feels, sometimes I get 5 workouts in, sometimes I go 3 days without getting time so back load the week with training, I’m basically getting in what I can, when I can.
Cardio and other activity:
For cardio my usual preference would be to try to get 3-4 sessions in a week utilizing resistance cardio or ‘Metcon’ as the kids call it today, circuit training for the old school among you. Basically opposing weights movements incorporating the whole body with a lighter weight and higher rep range to get my heart rate up, 5 rounds of 5 exercises 5 times through back to back usually does the trick. Clean and press, crawl and press, med ball slams, lengths on the prowler and other exercises of the like.
Due to time constraints and largely my injuries, this time around I am having to stick to static cardio. I have a stationary bike at home so when I get home from work, I set the timer on my oven while my chicken for the following day cooks to 25 mins. During this time I will do interval sprints or steady state depending on how knackered I am from work and what day of the week it is regarding energy levels from my nutrition. I try to do this 3-4 times a week and will reassess this the closer I get to the shoot.
I also like to incorporate rock climbing when I get chance, this movement based physical problem solving is one of my favourite forms of training to do without it feeling like I’m training. Great for whole body movement, joints, grip, core and the mind. Another one of my favourite things to do is MMA or boxing, but again unfortunately, injuries and time constraints means I have to sit this one out this time around. Finally, posing practice, I’m and old school classical bodybuilder at heart, and posing practice is not only a great way to master your craft of showing off your physique to its best, but also you get one hell of a sweat on, more mastery over muscular contractions which helps with your training and hardens the muscle, so when you see me flexing in the mirror, I’m not just being narcissistic (Well, maybe a little) but I am training, practicing and assessing progression.
I never prescribe a diet I haven’t tried. But with 6 weeks to go, there is no time to mess about, so no experimenting, trying out some new shit, I’m sticking to old faithful I have competed on many many times, Carbohydrate manipulation.
High protein, a moderate amount of good fats and decreasing carb cycle over a 7 day period. This approach will see me from a calorie surplus to a deficit over the week and a spike day every saturday where I basically eat whatever I want to carb load, and yes that does include a beer or two.
For the textbook trainers trying to tell me I can’t put muscle on in a calorie deficit, well you may want to grab a notepad and write this down because uncle Bennett is going to prove that you can, again, or the N’th time. I’ve done it myself and with clients. “Surely you can’t drink beer on a diet” I hear you cry! Well yes, yes you can. When you know how and when to incorporate it. How dare I diet and still enjoy myself!
As a rule I like 1.5-2g protein per lb of LEAN body weight (not actual body weight) I aim for roughly 40g protein per meal and about six feeds over the day. Again, I’ve been doing this for many, many years so I weigh by eye and make changes by what I see happening in the mirror. Protein is the base of every meal, I throw fats in based on a base line of 0.7g per lb of LEAN bodyweight and carbs go from 35-40g per meal over 3-4 meals at the start of the week steadily decreasing to 0g by Thursday/Friday. Then Saturday is my carb load day where I eat all of the carbs! Here is an example of my food:
4 Weetabix with almond milk 2 scoops chocolate whey protein powder handful of cashew nuts – On a moderate or low carb day
1 pack of Smoked salmon 3 whole eggs and half an avocado – On a zero carb day
1 pack of prawns 1 tin of Mackerel and 125g Basmati rice (Half pre-steamed pack)
*No rice on a zero carb day
1 chicken breast 125g Basmati rice half an avocado and green beans
*No rice on a zero carb day
Post workout – 2 scoops Whey Protein shake (One scoop instant oats on a carb day) move this to wherever I train morning or afternoon.
Meat – usually fattier choice, steak or lamb, sometimes salmon, with mixed veg, very rarely any carbs unless its early week and I’m particularly tired. *Protein choice may change to smoked haddock or eggs the closer I get depending on how I look.
2 scoops Casein protein before bed (If I remember or haven’t already passed out)
I keep supplements relatively simple.
BCAA’s – morning, pre and post workout, bedtime.
Whey Protein – Breakfast and post workout.
Casein Protein – Bedtime.
ZMA – Bedtime, gives me weird dream.
Multivitamin – Morning.
Vitamin D – Because I’m a little mole man who works underground all day.
Becks Blue Non Alcoholic beer – When I really want a beer, only 39kcals.
Sleep – As much as I can.
Coffee – To wake me up, pre-training and any time I need a kick up the arse.
And there you have it! I have various socials planned over the six weeks as well that I have to navigate which I will take as they come, but no excuses, six weeks will go fast! This is the bones of my plan, and the plan is integral, don’t just piss in the wind, make a plan, stick to it but adapt as you go, the mirror will tell you everything you need to know.
Consistency, intent, focus, motivation, persistence, repetition and intensity are all tools in my arsenal. Is it going to be hard, yes. Am I always going to want to do it, almost certainly not. Ask yourself why are you doing this? How bad do you want it? Well in six weeks we will find out.
Personally I have something to prove, not to anyone else, but to myself. This is my kingdom, this is my realm, the King has returned, long live the King.
To coincide with our big photo shoot push, we are offering 10% off our Six Week Body Transformation program, provided you sign up before December. So if you want to be in the shape of your life by Christmas, click the button below and get in touch!