A few weeks ago, I went up to Stoke to attend a
seminar led by Phil Learney, PT/trainer/coach who currently works at UP Fitness. The topic of Phil’s two-day seminar was Fat Loss and Performance, and I went along in the interests of personal development and general interest (I think everyone else there was a coach or PT of some sort).
It was a fascinating weekend and I learned so much (and also had my thoughts and ideas on some things clarified or confirmed). I admit it was all quite full-on for my non-PT-brain but I think I more or less kept up Phil is a really great presenter/lecturer and made sure the content was tailored to the group and everyone’s questions were answered.
I thought I’d write a short round-up of the things which really stood out for me, or were new to me, or have particularly stayed with me now it’s been a few weeks since the seminar. It’s going to be a bit of a brain-dump, but I’m happy to try and answer questions in the comments, or you can find Phil on Facebook and Twitter, he’s very good at answering questions. (He also has a very good blog which covers a lot of the points below in greater detail).
The seminar covered body types and assessment (of clients), nutrition, specific protocols including carb cycling, carb backloading and fasting, optimal feeding patterns, hydration, health (from the inside out), training protocols, contest prep and tons more!
Here’s what I took away from it…
- “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing”
- “Only a fool never changes his mind”
- Body type assessment using somatotypes and phenotypes (I think this was kind of “client assessment 101″ for most of the people in the room but it was a fascinating start for me!) (I am totes a mesomorph… of course.. what’s that? You too? )
- “We aren’t what we eat; we’re what we digest” – the importance of food quality, gut health, digestion
- The importance of protein turnover (the balance between protein synthesis and protein breakdown) – the more we break down during training, the more we have to synthesize to maintain an anabolic environment
- Leucine! We should look to take in 3.2g leucine (minimum) per protein serving. Phil then showed a fascinating table, demonstrating how much we’d have to take in of a few different protein sources, in order to get 3.2g leucine. 230g chicken (237 kcals/53g protein), 190g steak (375 kcals/54g pro)… 1070g (yes, more than a kilo!) pork (1223 kcals/224g protein). There’s a reason why bodybuilders eat chicken and steak! And I’m glad I’ve never liked pork…
- The importance of kidney health, what poor kidney health means for the rest of the body/its functions, and how we can boost renal function
- The massive importance of fluids and electrolytes (something I know I’m guilty of ignoring – but not any more – a review of elete electrolyte drops to come on the blog!)
- Endocrine (hormone) manipulation and macronutrient (protein, carbohydrate, fat) intake and why this is so important/beneficial (hugely interesting to me as a natural bodybuilder)
- In fact everything Phil said about the endocrine system, the “master hormone” (insulin), leptin, ghrelin, the thyroid hormones and how they all relate to creating/maintaining anabolic growth was great.
- “We build, or we break” - referring to everything we do in training/nutrition for physique/strength/performance sports being either anabolic (regenerative) or catabolic (degenerative).
- A lightbulb moment was when Phil said something which most attendees probably thought very simple and basic: he pointed out that achieving a lean and muscular physique, particularly for natural females, is more about retaining (and fiercely guarding!) the muscle we have got (especially as we diet down) rather than constantly thinking about building more. He likened it to finances: you could say you want to earn £10K more next year. Why not spend £10K less? Same outcome, different outlook.
- It’s about preservation – decreasing catabolism – as well as growth/anabolism…
- “Why diets can’t work”… a look at why the “calories in vs calories out” model really misses the point, and discussing what happens to key hormones when we restrict calories. “A report in the April 2007 issue of the American Psychologist showed up to 66% of individuals following the caloric model of weight loss end up fatter two years later than they were when they started the diet. Any other model, in any other discipline, with a failure rate this high would have been discarded long ago and labelled as useless.”
- An in-depth look at various nutritional protocols with a view to stabilising insuling for optimal hormone management (and the male and female responses to each)
- A look at advanced nutritional strategies including carb cycling, food rotation, refeeds/”cheat meals” and when/how/why you might employ these
- On training, the discussion about absolute strength and the force equation was really interesting to me (and reinforced what I already know about my woeful lack of power and acceleration!)
- The practical work we did – on glute activation, hip/glute mobility, squat and bench technique and force/acceleration were an eye-opener and have really added a great deal to my own sessions.
If you’d like to hear more about the seminar, why not listen to performance nutritionist Ben Coomber’s podcast (you need episode 19), where he and Ru Anderson (a PT – and fellow competitive natural bodybuilder – who was at Phil’s seminar) talk about the content and what they took away from it. And Ru’s own blog round-up- of the seminar is here on Ru Anderson’s blog.
Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.