Forged in Fire

My current TV obsession is the show “forged in fire.” It’s unreal, 4 blacksmiths put into a forge, given shitty materials and told that they have 3 hours to turn it into a workable, functional blade.

Aside from watching dudes with glorious beards hammer away, using incredible skill, shaping steel into something functional, beautiful and deadly, my favourite part of the show is seeing how the smiths adapt to unexpected problems.

The blade comes out of heat treatment with a slight bend? No bother, I’ll heat that mother***er back up and try again. The handle fits a little loose? Ok, let’s adapt, change the plan slightly and make sure it fits well before testing.

The smiths that win these challenges aren’t necessarily the best bladesmiths, they’re not necessarily the ones with the prettiest working technique, they’re not even always the ones with the most glorious beards (most of the time they are though) they’re the ones that adapt to problems, don’t let it derail them and keep working.

Patience, work ethic and ability to adapt are the name of the game.

And that, my friend, is the point of this post. With any fitness goal, whether that be strength, weight loss, gaining muscle, whatever, you will hit road bumps, you will come derailed, you will get frustrated, things won’t turn out the way you wanted, but does that mean you just pack it in and give up? I hope not, because if that’s how you approach the problems you’ll face in the gym then you won’t last very long.

Some of us in the gym have shitty materials to work with: bad genetics, out of shape from years of abuse, injuries that have to be worked around etc. But it’s not down to the material you have. It’s down to how you work with it. Are you willing to put in the work to turn that rough material you started out with into something wonderful?

There are few things more frustrating than as a coach than somebody letting a small setback throw them out of the groove and watching them undo all the work that they’ve done when a few small adjustments to the plan would get them to the point that they want.

Some people don’t know how to make those adjustments or even what needs to be adjusted. And you know what? That’s perfectly fine, no blacksmith starts out as an expert. That’s where a good coach comes in. A good coach can look at what’s happening, analyse what went wrong and adjust, adapt and persevere to get the end results that you want.

You can do it on your own, of course you can, it isn’t rocket science. But being around those that know what they’re talking about, having someone able to guide you will stop (or at least mitigate) the majority of frustrations that you’ll encounter along the way.

Oh, and having a glorious beard almost always helps.

Ben “forged in fire” Harrison


Posted in Bench press, bodybuilding, conditioning, diet, fat loss, Fitness, food, gym, Health, mobility, motivation, muscle, nutrition, olympic weightlifting, pain, powerlifting, protein, reason, rehab, satire, snatch, Squats, Strength, stretching, weight loss, weightlifting | Comments Off on Forged in Fire

Should you be a personal trainer?

I’ve been asked a few times lately by teenagers doing their leaving cert how to get into personal training. In my opinion they’re asking the wrong question. What they should be asking is “Should I get into personal training?” Here’s some advice for those just starting out.

  • Just because you like training doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy being a trainer.

People say all the time “God I’d love if my job was training people in a gym, you must get to workout yourself so much.”

Firstly, when I’m working I don’t get to train at all. Whether you like it or not, when working, your job should be about the clients that you have booked in or that are in the gym. I actually know trainers who have just made their clients join in on their session because they wouldn’t have time to train themselves otherwise…just a tad unprofessional. Sure I get a few hours a week where I’m free to train but not as much as most people seem to imagine. I know for a fact that most personal trainers struggle to get four sessions in a week themselves. Now, this is for a number of reasons.

  • When you’re trying to train you will be constantly interrupted by people asking you questions. You work there, it’s not their fault.
  • If, like us, you’re usually the only member of staff in the gym and you’re trying to do some conditioning work but a prospective client walks in with questions about membership, group training, personal training etc. You have to stop your own session to answer those questions.
  • The phone might not ring all day, as soon as you unrack a heavy squat, I can guarantee that it will.
  • The hours suck

“Become a PT, feel free to book whatever hours you want with clients.” That’s the tagline you hear all the time right? Well yeah it’s somewhat true but what it should read is “Become a PT, feel free to book whatever hours you want with clients, but remember that most people can only train early in the morning or late in the evening or on weekends because they have jobs too.”

So, now book as many clients in as you want. But be aware that you’re going to have to work some unsociable hours. There are no days where I leave my house after 5.30am. There are also no days where I’m home before 9.30pm. Even if you get some hours off during the day everybody has jobs so there’s nobody around to do anything with.

You want to book a full roster of clients? That’s awesome, but be prepared to put in some long ass split shifts, at least when you’re first making a name for yourself.

  • People will treat you like a phsyciatrist/physiotherapist/doctor

This is just part of the job. You may want to only coach people to squat, bench and deadlift. But that’s not realistic. For most of your clients you’re going to know more about the human body than most of the people they interact with. So if they have a niggly pain in their neck, they’re going to ask you to fix it. They’ve had a shitty day at the office? Get ready to hear all about it in between sets.

  • Remember, at its core, it’s a customer service job.

You might be the single best strength coach in the history of the world, doesn’t mean shit if everybody hates you. For those of us who are a bit more introverted and prefer their own company to the company of other people this can be a real struggle.

The most successful trainers I know aren’t necessarily the best trainers I know, their clients don’t necessarily get the best results…but they sure as hell know how to build relationships.

Client retention is an absolutely huge part of having a large client base. If you want people to come back, then you better be someone they actually like.

  • You’ve got to have a genuine interest in helping people and be able to communicate well.

If you get into this industry because you like training yourself then you won’t last. This job is all about helping other people. There are times when you’re going to be exhausted, you’ll be on your 12th hour of coaching in a day and your client just isn’t responding, or they’re moaning…you’ll reach a point one day and want to blow a fuse. That’s when you have to remember why you got into this job in the first place.

Your motivation for doing this job has to be bigger than “I like training and I want to make money” If that’s why you’re in this game you won’t last. You HAVE to have a genuine desire to help people.

  • The clients results often have nothing to do with you.

Sure, we all like to claim that the clients’ results are down to our hard work…when they’re good results. What about when the client who wants to lose weight actually puts on weight and then complains? Don’t think that happens? You better believe that happens every goddamn day. You can have the most perfect plans in the world, backed up by research and studies…doesn’t mean anything if your client goes and stops in McDonald’s every night on the way home from work. Or doesn’t stick to the plan you have for them. People are people and when they don’t get the results they think they deserve then you better be ready for backlash.

I’m painting this in a bad light so far aren’t I? Truth is, that no matter how many things I can complain about, this is the single best job in the world and I would never trade it for being a desk monkey again. Sure the hours suck, the pay’s not great and it’s frustrating as hell sometimes…but genuinely making a difference in someone’s life is worth more than all of that.

Some of my greatest moments as a coach are things that I’ll honestly never forget. The client who was barely able to walk when he first came in due to previously having broken his back and being bed ridden for months hitting his first squat to depth. The powerlifter who cried to me after his first meet when he hit a squat goal he’d set himself over a year beforehand. The people who actually like how they look and feel for the first time in years. The extra confidence a woman has after being able to wear a size 10 pair of jeans again for the first time since having a baby. THESE are the moments that make this job worthwhile, they are the reasons you should want to get into this profession.

Plus…getting to wear trackies to work is pretty awesome.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Should you be a personal trainer?

Why being an instahun is wrecking your lower back (and your gains)

…ok, so the title MIGHT be a little bit misleading but hear me out. It’s not that instagram is evil. Far from it (I’m a big fan on Insta; here’s ours) or even that posing for photos is wrecking your lower back.  It’s THAT pose. You know the one I’m talking about right? Hip cocked to one side, lower back excessively arched to make it look like you actually have an arse, unfortunately the peace sign and duck face don’t wreck your back…just your credibility as an intelligent life force.

You know that big curve in your lower back when you do that pose? It’s called an anterior pelvic tilt…and nothing good comes from an anterior pelvic tilt.

Let’s not get too geeky about this but I’m going to try make sense of what anterior pelvic tilt (ATP) is. Imagine your pelvis is a bowl of water filled right to the brim, in a “normal” posture the water in that bowl should remain flat and balanced. With ATP the bowl is tilted forward and water’s spilling out the front. Make sense? Cool.

Now, why is ATP wrecking your back? Well there’s a couple reasons. If you live permanently in ATP then a few things happen, your glutes can’t contract in that position, meaning your glutes aren’t driving hip extension, so all the work to extend your hips comes from your hamstrings and (you guessed it) your lower back. So you’re in a position where the biggest muscle in your body (your butt muscle) can’t do it’s job, and the much, much smaller spinal erectors (ha) have to take over their work load.

This is bad. Firstly it’s going to lead to lower back pain, so instead of your hips moving and doing work, your lower back does it all. Secondly, your glutes aren’t doing any work. So, ladies (and guys) if you want to build a jaw dropping ass it’s goddamn hard unless you sort this out. A joint or muscle typically gets sore or strained when it’s asked to do more work than it’s capable of doing. So there’s a couple ways to fix that, make the area do less work and then make it stronger. In the case of ATP you make your lower back do less work by fixing the reasons ATP is happening in the first place.

So what do you need to do? Well ATP happens because your hip flexors are too tight, your abs are weak, your glute medias is too tight and your glute maximus is a lazy bastard. Stretch your hip flexors, stretch your glute medias, focus on keeping your pelvis neutral while you exercise and do some glute and ab activation drills (glute activation is not a workout in of itself despite what the vapid, brainless fitfammers would like you to believe). Make sure you do some work to strengthen your lower back too, I like back extensions on the GHR and reverse hypers.

Don’t let being an insta-hun ruin your gains and wreck your back.

Train smart, train hard, make progress.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Why being an instahun is wrecking your lower back (and your gains)

How to “tone” your body.

This is one for the ladies. Almost every woman that has ever come through the doors of Kaos has, at some stage, said they want to be more “toned.” Usually I’ve erupted into a self serving rant about how “toning isn’t a thing, it’s just gaining muscle and losing fat,” which was basically me being an asshole. Yes, “toning” isn’t really a thing, but yes, I know what you mean.

The comment about “toning,” is usually followed straight away by “so I don’t want to lift huge weights and get really bulky, so maybe some light weights and lots of cardio.” Ok…see this is the point where I’m going to return to the condescending arsehole that I was in that first paragraph. Women don’t get too bulky from lifting…they just don’t. I’ve only ever coached maybe 2 girls who were unhappy that they’d put on so much muscle. In short, women don’t have enough testosterone to build “bulky” muscles, what happens instead is that lifting weights accentuates your natural curves. Women put on muscle around the bum, hips and thighs easier than men (who tend to build shoulder, arm and back muscles easier).

“Women don’t have enough testosterone to build “bulky” muscles, what happens instead is that lifting weights accentuates your natural curves”

So, why do we lift heavy weights to tone?

Firstly, if you want to look toned your priority shouldn’t be about how much weight you can lose. It should be “how much muscle can I hold on to while losing fat?” See, your body doesn’t want to have muscle. You body has to work hard to maintain muscle, it’s metabolically demanding, meaning that it’s expensive for your body to have muscle (requires more calories etc). So you need to give your body a reason to hold on to muscle! Muscle is heavy, it’s demanding, if you’re starving yourself the first thing to go will be muscle mass…and you’ll end up looking like a smaller but still equally as chubby version of yourself.

This is almost a “flight or fight” response from your body. If you don’t stress the muscles the body sees no need to hold on to it, it’s not essential for survival to have muscle once you start starving yourself (essentially what your body thinks is happening when you diet) so you need to give your body a reason for it to feel like it NEEDS that muscle. That’s where lifting heavy weight comes in. Your body thinks it won’t survive if you can’t lift weights, so it will hold on to muscle. (for all your scientists out there, yes, I realise this isn’t actually why you hold on to muscle, but it’s a nice analogy that illustrates my point).

Why your body won’t build “big muscles” if your diet is in check.

If you are eating in a caloric deficit (which you should be if you’re trying to lose weight) it’s almost impossible to build muscle after the initial stages of training. Remember secondary school physics and Newton’s second law of thermodynamics? “energy cannot be created or destroyed but only transferred from one form to another.” Well this is universally true. Mass cannot be created from nothing. To build muscle you need to eat more food than your body needs. If you’re dieting, the most you can hope for is to hold on to the muscle you already have…which is “toning.”

So we lift weights when dieting so that you can hold on to muscle you already have. That’s it. It’s no more complicated than that. You lose fat, you keep muscle, you get toned. You lose weight and muscle and you look smaller and just as chubby…which is not toned. Doing endless hours of cardio won’t “tone” your body, your body doesn’t need to maintain muscle to do 20 minutes on a elliptical. It does need muscle to get through a heavy deadlift session.

“Your body doesn’t need to maintain muscle to do 20 minutes on a elliptical. It does need muscle to get through a heavy deadlift session.”

How do we put this all together.

Well first thing is first is you need to change how you think about exercise. Stop using exercise to lose weight, the amount that exercise plays in the energy balance for losing weight probably isn’t that huge. Use your diet to focus on losing weight. Eat in a calorie deficit. This will insure that your body loses some sort of tissue (either fat or muscle) then the type of exercise you do will determine whether that weight loss comes from fat or muscle. Lift weights and your body prefers to lose fat, do endless cardio and your body prefers to lose muscle.

So when we train clients to look “toned” we focus on big, compound movements, that hit the most amount of muscle at one time, think squats, deadlifts, heavy presses, rows, lunges etc. We also tend to superset exercises, one upper body with one lower body exercise, so that while your lower body recovers your upper body is working and vice versa.

“Lift weights and your body prefers to lose fat, do endless cardio and your body prefers to lose muscle.”

How does that look?

Here’s a typical training session plan for this.

  1. Barbell Lower body movement (work up to top set of 5)
  2. Barbell upper body movement (work up to top set of 8)

Complete each of the following supersets 4 times.

C1. Lower body knee dominant movement x10 reps

C2. Upper body horizontal press x 10 reps

D1. Lower body hip dominant movement x 10 reps

D2. Upper body horizontal pull x 10 reps

  1. high rep ab work
  2. 10-15 minutes of hard conditioning.


The specific exercises that you use aren’t necessarily that important, they should be exercises that you’re comfortable with and that suit your specific goals.

If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this article it’s that lifting weights or using some sort of resistance is key to achieving that toned look that women so desperately want. Cardio should be used, but should absolutely not be the only exercise (or even be the majority of your exercise) instead it should be used to help create the caloric deficit, then you use weights to encourage your body to keep the muscle that you do have.

Posted in Bench press, bodybuilding, conditioning, diet, fat loss, fitchick, Fitness, food, gym, Health, instagram, mobility, motivation, muscle, nutrition, pain, powerlifting, protein, reason, rehab, snatch, Squats, Strength, stretching, weight loss | Comments Off on How to “tone” your body.

The top 5 secrets to getting stronger

Sorry for the clickbaity style headline and while I wouldn’t consider any of these things “secrets” by any stretch of the imagination but the stupid shit I see people doing on a daily basis leads me to believe that they are actually secrets.

“You wanna know the secret to getting strong?

Squat heavy, every week for 10 years, you’ll get there.”

-Matt Vincent

Firstly, I want to point out that this isn’t just for powerlifters, although these things certainly work for powerlifters too.

There’s a great quote from Eric Cressey (mostly coaches baseball players in the states through his awesome facilities Cressey Sports Performance)

“If you aren’t getting stronger you need to examine your program

If you’re not trying to get stronger you need to examine your head”

Strength is absolutely paramount for any physique/sporting goals that you might have. It’s funny that the biggest, most jacked guys or the girls in the best shape are often really strong too isn’t it?

So here’s my secrets:

1. Add more weight to the bar.

This might sound obvious at first but how many times do you see people training or doing programs where they lift the same weights, for the same amount of sets and reps that they always have?

I don’t care how fancy your program’s periodisation is, at some stage to get stronger you need to lift more than you have before.

2. Make technique a priority

This one is so criminally underrated by most people. We have some really strong people in the gym here, but every day every set/rep is analysed and scrutinised to find ways to improve technique. If you have question marks over your technique then go find someone that can fix that for you. Or go find a trainer that knows what they’re talking about. There’s enough good information online that you should be able to learn good technique. Record your sets if you train alone so that you can see what’s going wrong.

3. Attack your weak points

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Where in the strength curve of a lift are you weakest? Does your deadlift stick at the knee? Do you collapse half way up when you squat? Can you not break a bench press off your chest? Use special exercises to fix them weakness. Deficit deadlifts, paused squats, wide grip bench with a 3 count pause on your chest are just some ways to fix them problems. Then make sure you hammer the weaker muscles with accessory exercises.

4. Get around people that drive you to be stronger.

With the internet these days that doesn’t even have to be in the gym. There are communities of people online pushing each other every day to get better. Obviously having a group of people around you pushing you is going to help. Reliable, consistent training partners are one of the most valuable tools you can have. People that won’t let you get away with bitching out, or will give you serious grief if you do are going to drive you to get better and better.

5. Find a program you like, stick to it, run with it.

This is perhaps the most important thing you can do. Find a program that resonates with you for some reason, don’t think you know more than the person who designed the program and make a million changes to it (if you do that you’re not following the program) and work your bollocks off.

Almost any program will work (I ran 5/3/1 for nearly 2 years) 5/3/1, starting strength, 5th set, 5×5, whatever. Just find a plan, be consistent and do the work.


These are the only “secrets” to getting stronger. Be consistent, be aggressive in your pursuit of strength and don’t be a bitch.

Posted in Bench press, bodybuilding, conditioning, diet, fat loss, fitchick, Fitness, gym, Health, mobility, motivation, muscle, nutrition, olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, protein, snatch, Squats, Strength, weightlifting | Comments Off on The top 5 secrets to getting stronger

The real reason to wear a lifting belt


Sometimes the things I’ve heard people say in relation to lifting weights are amongst the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard (and I recently joined a flat earth group on facebook).

Amongst the ridiculous things I’ve heard in person about wearing a belt are

  • You shouldn’t wear a belt, they make your abs lazy
  • I wear a belt for every exercise so I don’t hurt my back
  • If I wear a belt will it make my waist smaller? ( I wish that one was a joke)
  • Is that just a waist trainer for when you lift weights (again…unfortunately not a joke)


These questions and statements just come from a complete lack of understanding about what a belt is actually used for. So I’m about to drop some education bombs on y’all.

So what does a belt actually do?

In short, a belt is a tool that is used to increase the amount of intra abdominal pressure you can create during a lift, stabilising your trunk and allowing a more solid base when you’re lifting heavy loads.

So if you didn’t understand any of that…the belt is there for you to push your stomach out against so that you’re abs go tight and keep your torso rigid. This lets you stay in better positions once weight gets heavy.

The belt is used to brace into, you take a big breath into your gut and push your stomach out against the belt, this increases internal pressure and stops the bar bending you over and having a crack at you with no lube.

Think of a can of coke, before you pop that top open I’m gonna put money on it that you couldn’t crush that can with your hands. Now, pop the cap, let that internal pressure out, now you can dent, or even crush that can. The unpopped can is you when you’ve braced hard against a belt. The popped can is you with no bracing and no belt…you’re gonna get crushed eventually.

The belt is not passive

Lifting equipment can be split into two categories. Passive and active.

Passive equipment is supportive equipment that’s you wear but you don’t really have to do anything with, they just sit there and give you some support (like a mum at an underage football game). Think wristwraps and knee sleeves.

Active equipment is something that you need to use properly to get any benefit from (think of your girlfriend when she’s in a bad mood, treat her properly and you’ll get some benefits from her, otherwise she’s just gonna sit there all moody and you’ll get nothing from her). Belts are ACTIVE. This means that just putting the belt on isn’t enough to get anything out of it. You have to actively force your stomach out against the belt in order for it to do anything. (don’t try just forcing your belly out against your grumpy girlfriend. She’ll more than likely not appreciate that.)

Why use a belt?

Belts have a very specific use and using it for anything else is both stupid and unnecessary. Belts should be used in lifting when there are compressive forces acting on your spine and you need to brace your “core” (god i hate that term) as hard as possible.

Heavy squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, cleans, snatches etc. Some people wear one when they’re benching, others don’t, no biggie.

If you wear your belt for EVERYTHING (I’ve seen people wear them for lat pull downs and bicep curls) then you completely misunderstand the point of a belt and you’d be better off spending your money on something else.

Belts help you protect your back…but not in the way you think.   

People throw belts on and suddenly think their back is indestructible because the belt will support it. The belt on it’s on supports f**k all.

Your belt will help protect your back by allowing you to brace your abs hard, the role of your abs is to minimise spinal movement (not to attract members of the opposite sex, that’s just a happy by product). So the belt protects your back by allowing you to use your abs more effectively.

It won’t make your abs lazy…anybody that says it does just doesn’t understand what a belt actually does.

There’s no point using a belt if you don’t know how to properly brace your abs first. So before dropping €200 on an expensive belt take the time and learn how to brace properly first.

Posted in Bench press, bodybuilding, conditioning, diet, fat loss, Fitness, gym, Health, muscle, olympic weightlifting, pain, powerlifting, satire, Squats, weightlifting | Comments Off on The real reason to wear a lifting belt

Stupid Conditioning

Fitness can be defined by whatever you’re trying to be fit for. For example, being fit for rugby is different to being fit for powerlifting. Conditioning is the process by which you become fit for whatever task you’re trying to be fit for.

What most people mean by “conditioning” is essentially cardio, done in a HIIT style (high intensity, low rest periods, heart pounding, legs shaky but cardio none the less).

Everybody that’s done a conditioning class or finished a training session with conditioning knows that feeling right? The one I just described above, you’re struggling for breath, you’re doubled over, your legs are numb, your mouth is dry, your heart is pounding. So why, when feeling like that, do some coaches decide that’s a perfect time to do some high skilled exercise for way more reps than it should ever be done for?

Because of the drastic, gut busting nature of most conditioning sessions the movements used should be simple. They should be things you can do in your sleep, things with a very low risk of injury, things that you can just shut up and work hard at without thinking of a million different cues.

I’ll give you an example. I don’t want to name the global franchise of gyms that is most popular for using high skilled movements for conditioning sessions” In a typical Workout of the Day, one of the conditioning sessions in this particular franchise, could involve things like touch and go snatch for time, power cleans for reps, box jumps for reps etc.

Now, go back to that feeling I described earlier of being in the middle of a conditioning session, you’re out of breath, your heart is pounding, your legs are going numb…does that sound like a good time to be throwing a barbell above your head for reps? Unless you have the technical proficiency of a top level weightlifter you shouldn’t be doing snatches or clean and jerks under them conditions…and top level weightlifters wouldn’t do that anyway because it’s stupid. Same with box jumps, in a movement that should be used to develop power output and RFD (rate of force development) there’s a risk of injury, you could misjudge the box and end up slamming your shins into it, fall over and crack something…Sounds like a great idea for something to do when you’re fatigued.


Look at the most successful athletes in the world. Those who are the most conditioned. Look at how they train. Sure they all do snatches and power cleans and box jumps, but they do them early in the session when they’re fresh and able to get the desired purpose out of those movements. They certainly don’t do them at the end of a conditioning session when they’re already fatigued. And do you know why? Because their livelihood depends on them not getting injured.

Conditioning movements should be something that can be done without thinking, things that don’t require high levels of skill or technical competency. The most advanced movement we’d use in a conditioning session is a kettlebell swing.

Your best bet for conditioning movements are things that you literally cannot fuck up. Push a prowler, slam some battle ropes, swing a kettlebell, do some bear crawls, sprint on a bike, row on a rower. Low skill, big bang for your buck. Leave the high rep Olympic lifts for those that don’t mind the thoughts of dropping a bar on their head or smashing their shins into a box and snapping an ankle on the landing.

Posted in Bench press, bodybuilding, conditioning, diet, fat loss, Fitness, gym, Health, instagram, mobility, motivation, muscle, nutrition, olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, protein, rehab, satire, snatch, Squats, Strength, stretching, weight loss, weightlifting, WOD | Comments Off on Stupid Conditioning

Goal Setting and finding your why.

With training and diet people that have goals to reach will always be more successful than those who don’t. Goals keep you honest, give you direction, keep your focus when motivation wanders and keep you on the right path.

I’ve said it before and I’ll no doubt say it again, my ideal client is a woman getting in shape for her wedding. That’s a goal that drives women to the point of doing WHATEVER it takes. Nobody will train as hard and be as strict with their nutrition as a woman who needs to drop two dress sizes to fit into a dress on the biggest day of her life.

The goal for a wedding has it all.

  • It’s specific – “I need to be a size 6 to fit into my dress.”
  • It’s measurable – “I’m a size 10 now, i need to drop two dress sizes.”
  • It’s attainable – a woman will never order a dress she hasn’t a hope of fitting into
  • It’s realistic – two dress sizes isn’t the end of the world
  • It’s time bound – there is a definite deadline by which the goal has to be reached

So when setting goals they need to be SMART

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time bound


I’ll give another example. This January, I was entered into the IPF Leinster open powerlifting championships in the 105kg class…in mid December I weighed 117.5kg. By one week away from the competition I weighed 111kg. One day before I had to weigh in I was 108.4kg. Now bearing in mind I had to be under 105kg to be able to lift in my weight class. I weighed in at 104.8kg on the day. Now, by no means am I advocating that what I did was smart, or that it worked (most people know that I completely bombed on the day from a combination of dehydration, exhaustion and cramping. But I set a goal, I stuck to the plan and I made it…regardless of how stupid that may have been.

During that last week of that cut it was brutal. I was constantly hungry, dehydrated, sleeping while wrapped in clingfilm, spending an hour solid in a sauna, having 8 piping hot Epsom salt baths a night…it was not a pleasant experience to say the least…but I got through.

“Most people that walk into the gym just want to get in “better” shape. Usually the first thing I ask them is to define what that means to them and when they want to be that way”

I had set a specific goal that I knew was achievable and had an end date. With that you can stick to a plan.

Most people that walk into the gym just want to get in “better” shape. Usually the first thing I ask them is to define what that means to them and when they want to be that way. Whether that’s losing a stone in a month or gaining 2 stone in 3 months. You need to be specific about your goals.

How strong is your why?


What’s your reason for doing this? What’s your motivation? Why are you looking to achieve this goal?

If you don’t have a why, you’d better figure out what it is. My “why” when I first lost weight was two fold. My mother told me I was the fattest player on the rugby pitch and a girl I was seeing giggled at the way my belly moved when I took off my top…that’s a pretty solid why right there.

“Your why has to be stronger than your excuses”

Now everybody spouts this “love yourself regardless of anything,” stuff these days and that’s all well and good. But anger, and bitterness are very, very powerful motivating tools.

When your motivation wavers a strong “why” will keep you going.

Motivation is always short lived and fleeting. Your why has to be stronger than your excuses to get you through. On cold horrible, rainy mornings when you want nothing more than to stay in bed a “why” that resonates with you will get you out of bed and keep you encouraged to kick the day in the dick (thanks Matt Vincent for that quote).

When motivation wavers, the deadline is looming and you want nothing more than to give up, remember why you started. Remember your “why.”

A strong WHY and a SMART goal will take you further than you thought you could go when times get hard.

Once one goal has been smashed, make another. Don’t rest and look back and be proud of what you’ve done. Be ruthless, be determined, find another challenge and let it consume you. Find another “Why.”


Posted in bodybuilding, diet, fat ;pss, fat loss, fitchick, Fitness, food, gym, Health, mobility, motivation, muscle, nutrition, pain, reason, weight loss | Comments Off on Goal Setting and finding your why.

Let’s talk food.


Let’s talk about food baby, let’s talk about you and me, let’s talk about all the ways in which you’re the same as everybody else and you don’t need a special snowflake plan.


If I hear one more time “I tried tracking my macros and it didn’t work for me,” I’ll probably write another passive aggressive facebook post and hope the person I’m angry at sees it and realises the error of their ways.

How can it “not work for you”? Are you somehow exempt from the laws of thermodynamics? Are you the first person in the history of the world to not be bound by the laws of physics??

At its absolute core every diet is the same and follows the same basic underlying principle. “Manipulate food intake in some way so that you eat less calories than your body needs to maintain its current weight.” EVERY diet does that. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.

Now some people will argue that calories don’t matter. Them people and the anti-vaccers should be dropped off on an island to populate amongst themselves while the logical amongst us will live blissful lives, away from the mind numbing arguments that they regularly spout.



That’s not to say that you have to track your calories. For the most part you probably don’t. For the most part you just need to not eat like a child who has become aware of gummy bears for the first time in their life and you’ll be fine.

If you don’t want to track your calories you could probably get away with just eating foods that are naturally low in calories ie. Lean meats, vegetables, fruits, non starchy carbohydrates and you’ll be grand. Fat loss doesn’t need to be complicated.

If that doesn’t work then here’s where tracking what you’re eating is going to help. Track your calories using one of the roughly 17,000 apps that can help you do that for a whole week, don’t lie to the app, the app knows the truth. Find your average calories for that week. Did you put on weight, lose weight or maintain weight in that week? If you put on or maintained weight then next week make sure your average calorie consumption is lower. If you lost weight, then good job you’re doing great.


Alright, so now that the scales is moving the right way, let’s see if we can make you look better too.

Protein, it builds muscle, helps you recover quicker from training, is delicious and makes your fats capable of clearing most buildings.

For protein consumption let’s aim for 2 grams of protein, per kg of bodyweight per day. If you weigh 60kg then eat 120grams of protein a day.

That coupled with keeping your calories in check will get most people further than they ever thought they possible could.


Don't be this guy

Don’t be this guy

You need carbs for energy, they’re not bad for you, they’re really important. Eat them. Again, keep it to within your total daily calories and you’re going to be grand lads.


Eat them, keep then within your daily calorie limit. Job oxo.

So there you go. Can you follow 4 rules? If it means you don’t have to cut out all the foods you look or eat zero carbs forever? 4 rules. Stick to them.


Posted in Bench press, bodybuilding, diet, fat loss, fitchick, Fitness, food, gym, Health, instagram, mobility, muscle, nutrition, pain, powerlifting, protein, rehab, satire, Squats, Strength, stretching, weight loss | 1 Comment

Learn from my mistakes



It seems that at least once a week I have a conversation with one of our members that goes something like this

Member: God the teenagers that train here don’t know how lucky they have it.

Me: Why do you say that?

Member: Because If I had been taught how to do everything right from the age of 16 I’d be way stronger than I am now.

Me: Yeah, imagine if we hadn’t wasted the first few years of our training lives doing stupid shit that got us nowhere.

Like most people who go to the gym most of the guys that train here spent between the years of 17-early 20’s following some bodypart split that they found on or just copying other guys in the gym.

Our teenagers don’t get to make them mistakes. From the first time they step through the doors they’re taught proper form (and we’re pretty goddamn strict with them), they’re put on a proper program, they’re given mobility drills, nutritional advice, recovery advice, access to decades of training knowledge and learn from our mistakes as to what to avoid.


I can’t take full credit for this, all of our members will stop mid set to help each other if it’s needed. That’s the attitude we’ve tried to create in the gym. A place where everybody coaches everybody and nobody is better than anybody else.

There’s two kids I want to talk about with this to show you what I mean.

First up is Rourke.


Most of you that follow our social media will have heard of Rourke before. He’s the youngest member of our powerlifting team at 16 years old and is a week away from competing in his second IPF powerlifting meet. Rourke came to us about 18 months ago as a gangly, uncoordinated 6 foot 3 rugby player. And we trained him as such. Strength and power development, hypertrophy training and sports specific conditioning.

After maybe 8 months of training it became pretty obvious that Rourke was getting as strong as hell and a few months after that he decided he wanted to give up rugby to pursue powerlifting (something which I argued with him about for months before eventually relenting).

Since then Rourke has been training as a powerlifter, to be as strong as possible in the squat, bench press and deadlift, while maintaining decent levels of hypertrophy and mobility.

Now bearing in mind that Rourke is 16 years old and weighs about 90kg. His best lifts are a 155kg squat, a 107.5kg bench press and a 200kg deadlift. At 16 and after only been training 18 months!! I remember attempting my first 200kg deadlift at 23 years old. That’s the advantage of training correctly from the beginning!

Next up is Kevin.


Kevin is also 16 and first touched a weight last July during one of our Teenage summer camps.

In less than a year Kev has gone from never having touched a weight before to (at 70ish kg) squatting 145kg, benching 75kg and deadlifting 170kg. You won’t find many 16 year olds that squat double their bodyweight and deadlift over double bodyweight and Kev did it in less than a year. Again, testament to learning to lift properly from the very beginning and not having the chance to fuck around with bad programming and bad technique.

I could go on. I could talk about Ross, the 17 year old soccer player who deadlifted 150, regularly smashes 48 inch boxjumps and can squat 120kg. Or Emily, the 12 year old who squats 50kg for reps and deadlifts 60kg for reps. Oh or I could talk about Paul the 16 year old IDFPA world champion powerlifter who deadlifts 210 faster than I do.


The point is this. If you train correctly from the beginning you set yourself up to be in a far more advantageous position years down the line.

So yea, our members are right. Our teenagers in KAOS are lucky. But luck doesn’t do it on its own. They all buy in to the plan, stick to it and work damn hard.

Posted in Bench press, bodybuilding, Fitness, gym, Health, mobility, muscle, pain, powerlifting, rehab, Squats, Strength | Comments Off on Learn from my mistakes