May 21

Why I don’t do ‘functional fitness’ anymore.

I’ve been thinking about my own fitness and weight loss journey lately and wondering whether it may be helpful to you all to read some more of what I have been through.


I don’t want to do too much talking about myself, but as with all of us, where I am now is formed by my past.


My past is what has made me so passionate about helping people with the struggles that are so common place when trying to lose body fat and/or become fitter and stronger.


So I hope that by sharing a bit more about my own journey, I can help you in yours.


It is safe to say, when I was in the last year of school, I got massively into this new exercise craze just taking off.


I was a keen rugby player but I was a chunky prop rather than a nifty back.


This new craze, that incorporated a lot of work with weights really appealed to me.


I became a total convert. I could bore people to tears talking about it. I believed it was the way to build muscle, to become lean and ‘jacked’.


I went away to university in Cardiff in 2012/13 and got completely involved in the local box. I loved it!


I loved the social side of it of course, but I was completely hooked. I was obsessed with ‘eating clean’ and trained twice a day.


The snag with clean eating for me, as a food lover, was the idea of ‘cheat days’!


I would stick religiously to the plan for a few days, maybe Monday to Thursday, then have a ‘cheat day’ on a Friday.


I could probably eat 2 or 3 days’ worth of calories on a Friday!


I would then wake up on a Saturday feeling dreadful, an awful failure and try to be ridiculously strict to make up for some of it.


I would usually fall off the wagon at some point over the weekend and a Sunday would probably be a write off as well.


Then on a Monday I would ‘start again’


It is my own experience that has made me so anti overly restrictive diets!


I achieved the level one qualification and then the level 2. I moved to London and became head coach at Thames.


I would follow ‘competition plans’, jumping from plan to plan to try and maximise my results.


I also discovered macro tracking and quickly converted to this. I did get into the best shape of my life!


Unfortunately, a lot of the time, I was either getting burnt out or injured. I often felt I was getting nowhere.


I know now of course, that when you are trying to improve in so many areas, you must periodise your training.


Not, throw shit at the wall and hope that something sticks!


The people at the top of this sport have their whole lives geared up to being the best. It is their career.


They are not trying to also hold down full time jobs, they can sleep as much as they like, eat as much of the food prepared for them as they like


Everything for them is geared to success.


I became frustrated and disheartened. I was putting in the work but not getting the results I wanted.


After moving to Leeds and spending some time working for Form, I met a coach from Manchester.


Craig Massey introduced me to Opex, I then became an Opex convert!! I am now somewhere in the middle.


What Opex taught me though, was fundamental.


I learned about the importance of having a program specifically for you, looking at your weaknesses, your liabilities.


I learned of the dangers of trying to ‘fastrack’ fitness.


If you have tried to skip the basics, maybe there were some things along the way that you were a bit crap at?


Then you need to go back. It’s not sexy but it is important.


I hit my 100kg snatch in 2014! It was 2017 before I hit 105kg! I did then quickly hit 110kg, once I had been back to the basics and sorted out my technique.


If you can’t do strict pulling movements then you should not be kipping.


If you can’t squat properly then you have no business trying Olympic lifting.


If you can’t press overhead then you should not be trying Olympic lifting.


I fell out of love with ‘functional fitness’.


You actually do not need to be smashing yourself in the face with intensity all the time.


Not everything needs to be a ‘metcon’, not every exercise needs to be ‘for time’.


Some good training at a decent tempo, concentrating on the basics and getting the movements nailed is sufficient.


There is then no need to follow up by endless intervals on a rower or a bike.


Obviously some of this depends on your goals, but even if your goal is to improve within this sport, you should still take a look at your training.


Training should be in seasons and blocks. You can not improve in all areas at once.


You will have to take time when you focus purely on your lifting and you bring everything else down to maintenance level.


Then you will have time when you focus on your aerobic base, your long, slow engine, in fact more of you should focus here rather than on the intensity spectrum.


Intensity should be 1 to 2 times a week maximum and only for times when you are peaking and preparing for a competition.


The rest of the time should be weight training and long, slow aerobic work with plenty of rest days.


The reason that I stopped doing functional fitness is because I was sick of burning out but also because I didn’t want to train twice a day anymore.


I didn’t want to be trying to compete all the time and have my whole life revolving around that.


I fell in love with lifting weights again. I fell in love with progressing strict gymnastics, without adding any increase in heart rate to it.


I understand the importance of aerobic conditioning and I still do plenty of that as well.


I do plenty of walking, plenty of cycling, plenty of long and slow.


I don’t need to get my heart rate up to intensity levels because it is not my goal to thrive in that situation.


I would rather be stronger, move better, look good naked, be healthy and injury free.


If those are your goals then you should consider if it is the right sport for you.


Maybe it is time to consider a program just for you. A program that addresses why you struggle to press overhead.


A program that will help you achieve lifts and perfect movements that you are struggling with.


To help you address the problems in a periodised plan.


If this has resonated with you then please do contact me, I’d love to talk to you further.






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