Online coaching is still very nuanced….at least, it would be quite hard to describe to your gran.
The common retort when an online coach is proposed is that someone needs in person contact, they need one on one personal training to ensure they make progress.
The obvious problem with this model is that in order to access the accountability an in person trainers offers….you have to be accountable to make sure you’ll turn up!
For PTs amongst our readership, I’m sure you’ve had your fair share of cancelled sessions and no shows. There is simply nothing forcing someone to leave the confines of their warm, comfortable home and meet you to engage in an hour of pure discomfort, both socially and physically.
As online coaches, we’re able to access the space that most people spend a large portion of their time already – their phone, their laptop, their email.
We’ve found, through our online coaching model, we’ve been able to create some drastic changes for clients and some impressive transformations have emerged from both past and present clients.
However, results are two a penny these days….Weightwatchers, Herbalife, Shake Weight….they all have results.
Results don’t mean anything anymore.
What we like to think we offer over and above an in person PT or the aforementioned sins, is personal development.
We don’t lie to our clients and pretend we hold the magic recipe. As part of working with us, clients typically develop a robust understanding of how to lead a flexible, effective existence.
How to TRULY manage their appearance, diet and performance….in the REAL WORLD.
Yusef has been working with Paul since May 2015. In that time Paul has lost 13kg of fat while (contrary to what many PTs would have you believe) added significant strength (112kg to his Powerlifts in total).
What we were more interested in however, is what Paul has learned in this time. What has changed in his mindset and outlook pre and post PropaneFitness.
Well, only he can tell you that..
Over to Paul….
Weight Before Coaching (left pic): 83kg
Current Weight: 70kg (right pic)
Bench: 100kg -> 117.5kg
Deadlift: 100kg -> 170kg
Squat: 90kg -> 115kg
(Note from Yusef: don’t worry, I’ve been relentlessly taking the piss out of him for benching more than he squats. Comes as standard with our coaching packages)
The right pic is a recent photo taken at 70kg BW. The approach Yusef from Propane has implemented, get lean and then reverse the calories back up, gaining muscle at a slow rate whilst not putting fat on.
We estimate another 4-6kg before I’m properly lean and ready for the reversal.
Lesson 1: You Don’t Need to Eat 6 Meals per Day
Before coaching with Propane, I had the standard gym mentality. Eat 6 meals a day to keep my metabolism ‘running.’ I even received advice to “eat cereal bars every hour to ensure enough fuel to grow” or to have a minimum of “5 shakes per day to give me enough protein.”
I adopted this advice without question because the people giving it were noticeably bigger than me. Who was I to question someone swinging 40’s about in beast mode? That was my first mistake. My second mistake was misunderstanding calories. Eating 5 meals per day on a dirty bulk packed on fat at a rate that far exceeded natural muscle growth.
A very slight increase in calories is enough to grow muscle
Now, I’ll be lean before I increase my calories for muscle growth. It’s simple; a very slight increase in calories is enough to grow muscle without packing on lard at the same time. Get lean….then get big.
Lesson 2: Beast Mode and Super-duper Drop Triangular Doggcrap Sets Are Not Necessary
I was all about killing myself in the gym. I would do all sorts of stupid sets and training templates. I was again advised to “do super sets on all exercises to tear the most muscle” and to ensure I “couldn’t lift my arms after a shoulder workout.” In my attempt to get the boulder shoulders everybody desires, I started to read up on forums, copy what the big lads did in the gym and hammer Jack3d.
If I’m training correctly, I should progress in SOME way during the monthly cycle
Again, a huge mistake. My problem was that I didn’t realise the one major thing that was required, progressive overload. I think of it in this way, if I’m training correctly I should progress in some way during the monthly training cycle. This could be increasing weight, volume or rest between sets. Rather than killing myself with different exercises or stupid drop sets week on week with no progressive overload, I advance whilst getting lean.
Lesson 3: Eating ‘Clean’ vs Calories
In the dirty bulk picture above, I ate clean, very clean. I remember eating chicken breast with rice and dark green veg for most meals. I would throw in the occasional piece of salmon or turkey. I wouldn’t touch anything which the media had hyped up to be unhealthy or fattening.
The problem was, I had absolutely no idea of my calorie intake. I was consuming far over 3000kcal of clean and expensive food at a very approximate maintenance of 2500kcal. The result, fat and lots of it. I had no objective opinion on the approach and stupidity of my actions, as I now do with Yusef from Propane, that I simply carried on with it.
I had no objective opinion on the approach and stupidity of my actions
My approach now is to count macros and eat anything I want at any time, within my macro allowance. I rarely eat what would be considered healthy. For example I don’t eat breakfast for reasons of convenience and if I need to top my carbs up, I won’t cook rice, I’ll have skittles or jelly babies. Shocking. However, if I weigh them out, the carbs will be the same when it comes to macros. My current macros are low, to shed the final fat before a calorie reversal, 155grams of protein, 160 grams of carbs and 55 grams of fat.
Lesson 4: Don’t Make the Gym Your Only Focus!
I made what I consider to be the worst mistake of all before Propane Coaching, becoming obsessed. I would constantly think of the gym, refuse to go out for meals with friends and miss social occasions for a gym session. Missing a gym session would very rarely happen, except if it was closed. Even then, I would plan how to do a mad session to make up for it. Now….I think of training and diet across a week or even a month. If I miss a session I’ll make up the main lifts and assistance movements with another session or the next week, hitting the same volume across the whole month.
I used to never miss a session, now I think of my training and diet across a week or month
I had to navigate my brother’s wedding recently, an obvious day of not training and eating food with no nutritional information. After a chat with Yusef, I ate what I wanted and very slightly dropped my carbs for a few days following the wedding. Across the whole week, after indulging in chocolate cake and all sorts of fried stuff, I had eaten the same calories as if I had not gone to the wedding…simple.
Lesson 5: Who to Take Advice from?
There used to be only one qualification required for me to lap up gym and fitness advice, physical size. I would quite easily change my programme or nutrition based on a random tip from someone who looked half decent in the gym, on a forum or in a supplement shop.
Now there are more qualifications required, I think of what I actually want. The main consideration is what their advice is based on and their own fitness journey. For example, I would be considering if this person is properly lean and has ever been lean whilst maintaining their size, before taking advice on how to drop my last bit of body fat before a reversal. If I was to take advice on a sumo deadlift stance or bench press arch, I would expect that person to be a competitive power lifter with years of experience in the field. For example, I sent a bench press video to Yusef as part of a weekly update.
If I was to take advice (on a sumo deadlift)…I would expect years of experience
He gave a thorough critique on each aspect, commenting on the arch I was adopting, the IPF competition rules and my exact grip position. I was told to move my grip exactly 2cm out to ensure the most power transfer to the bar. It worked; bench has increased from about 90kg (at a BW of 83kg) to about 117.5kg (at a BW of 70kg).
I’m by no means in shape, but I won’t do back to the dirty bulking days.