Question (Adam): Paul, can you give us a brief background of yourself, your competitive history, accolades to date, and where you are at this point in your fitness career?
Paul: From a young age I was heavily into sport and I represented my town at both football and cricket. I was also a good rugby player but ended up concentrating on athletics which is what I did for 4-5 years throughout my school years. I was offered an apprenticeship as an athlete but I developed exercise induced asthma and in all honesty I had become bored with the training and competing so I turned the offer down.
As I was very skinny (running 30-40 miles per week tends to have that effect) I decided to take up weight training at around 15-16 years of age; 5 years later competed in my first natural bodybuilding contest where I came second in my class to a much bigger guy. I was, even then in my first contest, one of the best conditioned on stage which was something I had to do throughout my competitive years when competing against guys who where much bigger and more genetically gifted than myself. I then competed again 5 years later and won the middleweight BNBF northern championship and then followed that by winning the overall title at the NPA Heart of England championship – this was possibly my best win as I competed against some top quality competitors such as Rob Riches (middleweight), Sam Bond (Now on the tv show gladiators) and a few other guys who had won and would go on to win British championships.
A few years after that I competed in and won my class and the overall title in the NPA south east champs and then I competed in the British champs which is basically the very best natural bodybuilders competing against each other - I did not place in the top five but had a lot of people coming up to me afterwards saying they thought I should of placed in the top five. Either way I felt that I had taken it as far as I could with the physique I had and in reality the top 3 guys would have been almost impossible for me to beat with my body structure. At around this time I started to read more literature on powerlifting and how athletes train and I can recall printing off loads of stuff from Louie Simmons and guys like Joe Defranco. I changed the way I trained and started to implement new ideas and methods that I picked up from this material - I would say that I learned more about training during this period than the previous 5 years!
At the present moment I am lucky enough to be training people in my own little gym and I am utilising the strength and conditioning techniques that I have learned and practiced during the years. I am still developing and learning new ideas / techniques and it’s one of the reasons I love doing what I do as you keep picking things up as you go along. From reading information from top strength and conditioning guys like Joe Defranco, Martin Rooney, Dan John etc. I realise how much more I need to learn as these guys are on a different level and are truly leaders in their field of expertise.
Question: What would you say personally has been your greatest achievement throughout that career?
Paul: That’s a tough one to answer as I still feel like I am starting out in some ways but I would say that the fact I have made improvements to every person that I have trained so far is my own personal achievement. It’s easy to improve a person who has never trained before but to improve a guy who has trained hard for years is a different ball game. I have one guy who when he came to me around 16 months ago, could do 5 pull ups and had more injuries than sense - at this present day he can knock out 20 bodyweight pull ups and can do reps with 35kg attached to him . He has packed on pounds of lean muscle and gets asked frequently what he is taking even though he is 100% drug free! Another guy I trained went from deadlifting 4 plates a side to 5 plates and a 15kg a side in under 12 months of training. One of my most rewarding clients is a young 16 year old lad who slipped a disc in his back a while ago – he had to stop training as he was a talented boxer before the injury and ended up piling on a lot of weight due to inactivity. I have been training him 2 months now and he is already stronger than before his injury and he is getting stronger and fitter every week; he is also a much more confident individual than before. I take a lot of pride in the fact that the guys/girls I train are not just strong they are also fit and athletic – to me there is never an excuse to be strong but unfit!
Question: I believe that's very true myself Paul although I'm sure others beg to differ. I think that sort of thing comes with experience though and emphasis in goals.
Moving on: In your opinion, why do so many people fail in regards to their goals within the fitness sector? Is there simply too much misinformation flying around that confuses people rather than giving them purpose and direction, or is it simply lazy, habitual traits and the fact that we're not all cut from the same cloth?
Paul: Good question Adam – I feel it’s probably a bit of both. I think information is getting better now and feel that the internet has helped a lot with that… all though you still have to be careful what you read as reading the wrong information can be even worse.
The bodybuilding magazines to me give out really crappy information for 90% of the population and people blindly followed whatever was put in them as they believed it was the right information.
Paul has graced the mainstream magazine covers himself
Question: Couldn't agree more! With that being said, what's the best, simplest information you could give to a newbie regarding all the necessary factors they need to succeed?
Paul: First of all learn the basics: for a beginner I would recommend using bodyweight movements at least for the first few months of training, push ups, inverted rows , single leg squats, goblet squats, etc. then after they have learned the proper movement patterns you can add in dbell and barbell exercises such as squats , deadlifts etc. At this point they should make sure that they follow a good programme and a good programme should always have a thorough warm-up before exercise and also allow the person to progress slowly every week. I would also advise newbies to train with weights no more than 3-4 max per week; I have had great success with training people twice per week and the great thing is the less you train the more you can recover and also it means you have to filter out bullshit exercises as you have no room to waste exercises in a 2 day a week programme. I would also add that a healthy diet is critical to making the most of your efforts in the gym. It is better to get your eating sorted straight away as it will further enhance your training and recovery. You also need to have some dedication and a decent work ethic some thing that is missing these days amongst alot of people.
Question: You've been a PT for over a decade now Paul. What's the weirdest / funniest thing you've ever seen in the gym to date?!
Paul: I've seen plenty of weird and wonderful things in the gym , here are a few that spring to mind:
I once spent 30 minutes explaining and showing 2 Irish guys how to perform exercises correctly; the next day I was walking through the gym and the same Irish guys was performing lat pulldowns down to his toes – kind of like a lat pulldown pushdown to feet hybrid movement – after the disbelief and laughing had stopped I had to show them again the correct technique.
I once witnessed a girl jumping on a treadmill – at first I thought she may have been a hurdler but it soon became apparent that she was just a bit special and it was like a nervous twitch. Either way she impressed the hell out of me as she never fell once and she was going pretty dam fast.
Finally, I have to mention a story about a legend who trains at total fitness – he is part-man, part-machine: some people know him as Crazy Dave - either way he is a training machine who trains every day for around 9 hours a time. I once made the mistake in asking him if I could jump on a piece of equipment he was using - I got a blunt reply saying “I'll let you know when I am finished" ………anyway, 3 hours passed and then he walks over to me as I am now working in the gym having finished training 2 hours ago - he coldly looks at me and tells me he is finished now if I want to use the piece of equipment. "Cheers!" I reply in total disbelief.
Question: I can attest to the insanity of this man having previously trained at this gym. Thankfully, I never use the machines he operates on so am spared by his evil.
Obviously, this sport is all about continually learning and finding new, innovative ways to achieve better results. What's been the biggest eye-opener for you in your career?
Paul: I think the biggest eye opener for me is that you always like to think that things are really complicated and that all these top strength and conditioning coaches use elaborate programmes for their athletes to achieve great results . The reality is that they use really simple programmes and exercises but they scrutinise all the little things. I attended a course hosted by Martin Rooney and he analyzed every little thing that we did. His comment of “if we can’t master the little things what chance have we got with the big things~, still rings in my ears . The fastest way to improve at anything is to really scrutinise and master techniques and work on weak points, coupled with a good training programme you can not go wrong.
Question: You now own your own training facility: 'The Training Lab'. Tell us a bit about that and what stage it's at.
Paul: Yeah I have had my own little training facility for just over 6 months now and it is going well. It’s always been my goal to have a place where I can train people in a motivated environment with no distractions and with proper strength and conditioning equipment to hand and I feel I now have this. It is nice to train in a place where you can put on your music full-belt and really focus on your training. You are nothing without the people you train and I have some good hard working individuals down here now. The people I train are my best advertising as I have got pretty much all my clients from word of mouth or from people who have saw the good results that people who train here have achieved.
I am constantly adding new equipment to my facility and have now got most things that I need . I currently have sledgehammers , 2 tractor tyres , 2 olympic bars , power rack , trap bar, gymnastic rings , plyometric boxes , kettlebells , dbells , treadmill , aerodyme bike , ropes , medicine balls , boxing heavy bag , sandbags , prowler , sled , kegs and many other items.
The Training Lab is an elite facility that also possesses an outdoor intensity area!
The Lab has been Paul's vision for a long time now.
Question: If somebody wants to train at The Lab, how should they go about contacting you?
I am based in
I want to sincerely thank Paul for his time. He is a very good friend of mine and a very busy man so I'm sure our followers are very appreciative of his insightful posts. I can also personally attest to his skill as a trainer and credentials - passion runs through him and he is well worth investing in if you're a serious athlete committed to raising your performance. I wholeheartedly recommend Paul.
Remember, if you have a question for Paul, ask here on the forum!