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Expert interview on how to reach your fitness goals

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Dec 2, 2015 11:21:16 AM

Expert interview on how to reach your fitness goals

John Lark sphere fitness

Having been in the position to be overweight to the point of having nosebleed based on high blood pressure i might know a thing or two about weight loss. However I only know my personal story and therefore asked John Lark who runs Sphere Fitness in the greater Dublin area and has been around a while in the fitness industry what works for him and his clients. Let me know your thoughts in the comments. I am a client of his and you see John's answers below.

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What are the things that actually work for weight loss ?

If you are talking 'weight loss' (loss of scale weight) as opposed to 'fat loss' (loss of fat tissue) then I would say above all else:

1) Consistency - in what you do long enough to see results.
2) Daily movement rituals - working against our environment which is conducive to sitting down and being sedentary
3) A cleaner approach to eating - consuming foods which are there to help us thrive as opposed to making us sick and tired. For most this would be fewer refined carbohydrates, moderate fat and moderate protein intake with tonnes of vegetables.
4) Emotional stability - if you have love in your life you have results. Both with yourself and who is around you.
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I would second especially number 1) and 4) of John's answers. When I trained for half a year for my first marathon consistency and "long enough" were key to losing 15kg in the same timeframe. On 2) and 3) I am not the best example in the world, but I am positive it would have helped me to reach my goals faster.  

What are the things which you have seen to work for endurance athletes ?

Addressing all elements of athleticism. Endurance athletes typically work with huge amounts of volume. I would argue that whilst this is important there is a better approach by focusing more on the other end of the spectrum and include some strength work too. This balances out the repetitive nature of endurance training and also makes the movement economy more efficient. More strength = more force produced per stride/stroke. Then there is nutrition which endurance athletes are brutal with. This is individual varying from fat adapted atheletes with 75% of calories from good fat to carb fuellers and timing windows.
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The point that John makes about volume and the repetitive nature of endurance work were some major drivers for me to focus on lifting for now. After running three marathons without improving my personal best I could not face the long runs on Saturdays / Sundays anymore which took up 2 - 3 hours of my weekend. Therefore I drifted more and more towards lifting. Once I've reached my goals there I'll sit down with John to think about how we can make use of that extra power in my legs towards a sub 3 marathon time. I am looking forward to that day.
 

What are the things you have seen to work for athletes focused on strength ? 

 
There is nothing magical about strength training. You have to train with intensity and purpose and then recover as hard as you train.
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It's a numbers game and it works. Check out the Jim Wendler Caculator and Topset Calculator if you have problems to figure this one out or my review on Stronglifts 5x5.

Which are trends, in your personal opinion, people should definitely stay away from in most cases ? 

 
It depends..I used to be an all or nothing kind of guy but then experience teaches you that results are all that matters. You have to be willing as a coach to meet people where they are at and guide them. I find anything that accelerates the learning curve of a beginner to health and fitness is asking for trouble though. 
 

What are the people like you have seen who are most likely to reach their goals ? 

 
 They place their health and fitness high on their value list. Their behaviors and daily habits are lined up with this. If you value going out with your mates and getting pissed every friday and saturday over hitting the gym then that is fine but you have to be realistic about wanting to be in cover body shape in 12 weeks.

What are the most common pitfalls people who do not reach their goals fall into ? 

 
As previous, they think that they want the goal but it is not high enough on their values list or they don't have the emotional bandwidth to deal with the lofty goal they have set themselves. I would much rather folks park their goal and then work on the process every day that either takes them closer or further away from their goals.

What is the funniest / least smart thing you have seen in the fitness industry so far ?

 
High rep olympic lifts. Just dumb. Fitness model instagram accounts with blatant eating disorders. High intensity interval training for de-conditioned trainees. That is trouble waiting to happen.

What is the smartest / most impressive thing you have experienced in your career ?

 
All of my mentors and colleagues over the years. I love being the dumbest guy in the room. 

What would your advise to parents with teenagers be ?

 
I would leave them to it but create an environment where you can't help but be healthy and fit. That means leading by example. There are enough sporting choices out there to involve them in. Encourage them to learn how to cook right and get them to knock up family meals. 

Conclusion

Common sense and getting your priorities right will get you to your goals in your time. Do not trust people who want to artificially fast track you on this learning curve and make a profit on your broken back. John runs sphere fitness and makes a living out of getting results for people. He did this for marathon runners and rugby players alike.

Why I trust John from a personal view is because he picks up the vacuum cleaner himself in his gym & puts away the weights for me even though I would do it myself.

From a professional point of view he kept my development in check from a distance as he saw that was the right approach for my personality, kept track of my progress and was there with impactful advice at the right time. His restructuring of my Jim Wendler 5/3/1 experiment will fast track me towards my goals without burning me out. I have not been paid or asked by John to write this post and approached him whether he was interested to appear on my blog for an interview and he agreed.

Further reading

On the deadlift

On the squat


On the bench press

 

 

Topics: Jim Wendler 5/3/1