Everything You've Ever Wanted to Ask a Personal Trainer
My fitness journey is a long and complicated one. I've learned a lot of what I know from personal trainers past and present and having one essentially on speed dial has been a major resource. I've read all kinds of men's fitness magazines from cover to cover but hearing it from an actual educated source that can speak to my specific needs has helped me in more ways than reading about fitness ever could.
I've compiled the top fitness related questions I get on IG and had them answered by certified Personal Trainer, Damon Bell. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Damon is now stateside and quickly gaining a following thanks to his own social media presence. With four years of experience in a country with some of the highest personal training certification standards in the world coupled with his own personal fitness journey, Damon is able to truly speak to unique and individual needs. Now let's get to the questions!
Most men seem to fall into two different body categories, those of us who struggle with fat loss and are naturally big and the other, men who are naturally lean and smaller. What's your general advice for both?
There’s actually three different body types every man will fall into. Ectomorph who are lean and long can have difficulty building muscle, Endomorph who are big and can have a higher tendency to store body fat and Mesomorph who are muscular with good responsive muscle cells and generally will display a high metabolism.
Individualised training is something I try to stress to people as there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach for every guy however, a common thread I’ve found with people of each body type are Ectomorph males are more likely to benefit from strength and conditioning training, while Endomorph guys tend to benefit from high volume and cardio based sessions.
To break that down even more simply: if you struggle to put on weight and muscle, try to initially limit the cardio based exercises and focus on strength training and a high calorie intake, and if you struggle with excess storage of body fat, higher reps with slightly lower weights and cardio based sessions, which can be HIIT training or extended cardio sessions (1 hour on the treadmill) with a lower calorie intake.
I have a personal long history with gym anxiety. What's your advice for men that struggle with getting over their anxiety of going to the gym?
Gym anxiety can stop you from even walking in the door, and if you suffer from it and you make it through the door, commend yourself for that! It’s not easy and you’ve started crushing it already. When something is overwhelming, try to focus on removing the thing that is overwhelming you. If you find the noise in a gym too excessive, put headphones in and focus on zoning yourself into your own space.
If it’s intimidating to you being within the environment, I recommend a Personal Trainer or a gym buddy. I used to suffer from the same anxiety, and I got myself a trainer who taught me ‘the ways’ of the gym.
Just remember, it’s not as scary as it can seem! If you’re going to tackle it on your own, remember, no one is looking at you. Most people are in the same head space as you, or are focusing on their own training. So don’t feel pressure to take your weights too heavy or do exercises you ‘think’ you need to do.
A lot of men get their fitness advice from social media influencers and stars that don't have a background in fitness. Where and who are some reliable resources for fitness advice and knowledge?
If a fitness brand contacts an influencer who is fit to try to sell something, there’s your answer right there. They’re selling you something. They aren’t offering advice, they’re offering a product. I understand some of the more ‘serious’ fitness pages aren’t as pretty to look at, but they’re the ones you should look to for advice on training or supplements.
Some of the best pages I personally look to are:
@smith.julian - Bodybuilding advice, programs, videos, everything is on point and I’m jealous af of this dudes quads
@dr.jacob.harden - One of the best prehab/rehab pages I’ve found. His advice is spot on
@howtocountcalories - An interesting page to look at food calorie comparisons. It’s easy to read and help with light bulb moments when it comes to buying food
@syattfitness - One of my favourite pages on Instagram. This guy is hilarious, practical and one of the smartest guys offering advice for free online
There’s also a great website I refer to which is BreakingMuscle. If you like reading, there’s basically every type of article for all different types of training, from all different types of trainers and experts. A great resource and one I generally always find reliable.
Supplements seem to play a major role in many fitness journeys. What are your top three must have's?
- Protein Powder - Sometimes it’s difficult to get all of our protein needs through food alone. This is a great, easy, and in most cases, nice tasting way to ensure you’re fueling your body with enough protein. It can also be a good way to drink your calories if you’re finding it difficult getting your calories from meals during the day. I’m sure most of you have heard of whey or casein, which is a dairy byproduct (so avoid if you have aversion or reactions to dairy). Casein is a slower release protein that is good to take in times where you’re able to keep yourself fueled for extended periods and/or at night. It can sometimes take up to 8 hours for it to release into your system and be used by your body. My current fave is Cellucor's COR-PERFORMANCE WHEY in Molten Chocolate.
- Creatine - is naturally occurring, however we don’t produce enough of it ourselves. In times of anaerobic exercise, it’s important to keep the body ATP levels replenished to ensure faster recovery, so you can train harder and recover faster. It’s one of the most studied supplements available and has no known negative side affects. If you experience bloating taking creatine and prefer a more vascular look, I’d suggest not taking it. It’s important to keep yourself hydrated as few people have some symptoms of cramping. Sticking with a dosage of 5g per day is recommended. I suggest one scoop 20 mins before training and one scoop directly after.
- Glutamine - again a naturally occurring amnio acid. We get glutamine from the breakdown of the proteins in foods we eat. It helps to rebuild and repair tissue and helps reduce cortisol levels. It is so important for healing and repair that it is given to people with severe illness or burns.
Do you have any tips for those of us that struggle with carrying a little extra weight around the middle?
This is a common issue in both men and women and there are a number of reasons. High stress, lack of sleep, poor nutrition are all factors. The stress hormone, cortisol, which glutamine can help reduce, can sometimes be directly responsible for that mid section that just won’t tone up. If you work in a high stress job, or do not get enough sleep, your first priority is to find ways to work with that. Meditation, a bubble bath, designated nights in on the sofa can all be things added to your life to help lower your stress levels, which in turn will lower your cortisol levels and help with weight loss. Lack of sleep is also a big factor. When you're sleeping is when your body is repairing, and if you’re depriving your body of that process, there are extra stresses placed on your bodily systems that can lead to dysfunction.
People say ‘I know I need to eat better and I’ll have abs’… well, yes. Of course if you’re not eating a balanced diet, your body isn’t going to look it’s best. Remember, once it’s in your mouth and your body is beginning to digest, it doesn’t know it’s pizza. Your body is looking for the nutrients from the food that it can use. If it’s high in saturated fats, your body has no use for that and will therefore store it as fat. Cleaning up the diet is one of the biggest factors in losing that mid section weight.
Core weakness… Now think of your core. Most people will assume it’s just abs. If you have a weak back, in-active glutes (your booty muscles), tight hip flexors or weak, overactive hamstrings, you’ll more than likely find you’re struggling to develop abs and lose the mid section weight. Your body is a full system and if it’s weak in some areas, others will over compensate to get the job done. Focus on developing strength throughout your entire core and you’ll start noticing your body developing as a unit. There’s no point laying on the floor doing crunches if you have weak glutes or tight hips, you’ll probably just start finding your straining your neck and hurting your lower back.
From the I'Gram!
I'll be posting a video on the channel with a live Q&A featuring Damon soon, keep an eye for it! In the meantime go check out his IG for more fitness related posts and tips and send me any of your questions you want included in the Q&A!