February 17, 2017In TrainingBy Sean Lerwill11 Minutes

After a long time off from writing for my own blog, I’ve decided to start putting out little articles or “blogs” a few times a week. In reality, I am already doing this almost daily for my Instagram account, but as a friend pointed out, that kind of micro blogging only works if someone has that platform or indeed follows me. A website allows for more accessibility and hence here we are.

This first blog of 2017 is simply on “Honest Training”. What the hell is honest training I hear you cry? Well, what I mean by this is training that fits your HONEST goal. I was discussing this the other day with a fellow MaxiNutrition ambassador, when I was personal training I would ask a would be client a simple (or so you’d think) question in the first 5 minutes of our first meet:

“What is it you want to achieve?”

I’d listen to the answer and attempt to understand whether they had a true goal, whether it was their goal or someone else’s, and whether they were being honest with me/themselves as to what the goal was. To help us, I’d then ask which of these five options most describes them, or perhaps a combination of:

  1. I want to be strong. I don’t care about health or longevity of life. I don’t care about looking good or running/swimming a long distance. I want to be able to deadlift/squat/bench etc as much as I can.
  2. I want to look good. I don’t care about how strong I am, how far I can run or my health or longevity of life. I just want to look in the mirror and love what I see.
  3. I want to live long and prosper. I’m not worried about how much I can lift, what I look like in the mirror or how far or fast I can run/bike/swim/row etc. I want to be as healthy as I can.
  4. I want to complete a sporting event to the best of my ability. Be it a marathon, triathlon, mountain climb etc. I’m not worried about lifting big weights, looking good or really focusing on health. I want to complete my event.
  5. I have a life event to prepare for. Wedding, holiday or the like, that I must look good for. I don’t care about my health or fitness, how much I can lift or longevity of life. I must look good for this event.

I appreciate 2 and 5 are very similar, but for me as a trainer, I found it important to distinguish between those wanting to look good for a specific event and those just wanting to look good full stop. Psychologically it was important for me to separate those goals to enable me to be able to train the individual effectively.

To the point then…

What I found was that, apart from around 10 percent of people, most people wanted to look good. Are you surprised? At first, I was. Perhaps partly due to the fact I had just come out of the Royal Marines and (naively) believed the civilian fitness industry was more about health than aesthetics. Whether it’s a sign of the times, or in fact we have always been this way, looking good was the most important thing for the majority of people.

The interesting thing, is that the large percentage of people didn’t actually say that they wanted to look good.. Almost as if admitting that was embarrassing. Instead, some people would tell me that overall they want to complete a marathon/tough mudder etc. They would then go on to say that in doing so they would obviously look good after (not necessarily the case by the way, and not the case for most) from all the training. Others would say that want to be really strong and bench press their bodyweight and (their assumption was) in doing so would create a physique like Arnie (despite their excess drinking and partying). Again, this is not the case. Others would say that they want to be healthy, or strong, or complete the event and honestly say they have no interest in looking good. This was true for a small percentage, but I found that for many this was untrue. They were hoping that adding swimming or marathon training or CrossFit, or whatever it was, would lead to an aesthetic change.

So I’d ask one more question:

“Are you being honest? If you aren’t we may be training for something that doesn’t really make you happy. If you’re honest, we’re more likely to succeed if you are honest. If you lie, we won’t really hit your goal and you’ll be wasting your time and money”

At this point, many would admit that their overall goal was to look better for the beach, or for dating, or for confidence and the other goal was what they thought would get them there. The problem is, if a trainer knows how to really great you to an honest goal, and you aren’t being honest with the trainer, they won’t get you there. You’ll end up chasing the lie and miss the honest goal altogether.

Why? Because… wait for it, training for a marathon will not make you look like a men’s health cover model or Victoria secrets model. Doing CrossFit will not make you look like Chris Evans or Scarlet Johansen in the Avengers movies. Magazines and gyms may tell you different. They will tell you what they know you want to hear. Why? To sell you their magazines, gym memberships or whatever else they are selling. They won’t sell them if they tell you that the training you want to believe will help, doesn’t. Especially if their closest competitor is telling you they will!

The battle for a PT is managing expectations. Giving the client a little bit of what they enjoy/think will help, while educating and easing them into the right direction. A good PT anyway.


Honest is the key to success


My advice: BE HONEST!

What do you really want to achieve? Is it to complete a triathlon or is it to look good on a beach in the summer. If competing the triathlon will add confidence and look good on the CV, and that’s your goal, go for it. But don’t kid yourself it’ll make you look like a cover model. It won’t. Specific body compositional training coupled with a well structured nutritional plan will. More specific, weight training and less CV training. Hence why I’ve alluded to the fact that triathlon training, marathon training and CrossFit aren’t the best types of training for an aesthetic change. Yes they can make up some of your training, but a small part if your real goal is to look and feel good.

A final word

I have a triathlon manual and running manual out in the shops. I get royalties from my publisher for selling them. I’m not saying the above to encourage people to PT with me, I rarely provide 1:1 PT other than online these days (I can reach and help more people that way). My aim in this post is to help people understand that they have to be honest with their goal, to get results from their training that will make them happy, and that comes down to choosing the right training for that honest goal.


Exercises you should be doing: The Pull-Up. – The pull-up is one of those exercises that unless you are a climber or gymnast from young, you have to work at to be good at. No one who has never tried a pull-up just jumps up and does ten or more. The only way to be good at pull-ups is to do them. – The best thing about pull-ups is not just that it trains the back, biceps and core, but that it’s also a huge confidence booster once nailed. I’ve seen many a young man new to training, unconfident and unsure, completely change once pull-ups have been mastered. – Start low. Sets of 3-5reps are fine. Perform them slow and controlled to build strength and technique and slowly add reps over the weeks. Photo: @simon_snhfoto #train #training #back #lats #biceps #ripped #shredded #lean #cut #aesthetics #calisthenics #pullups #chinups #royalmarines #commando #bemorecommando

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