TLA wants each client to achieve the best of combo’s: results, feeling good day in day out+ leading an athletic lifestyle. Often this feel good factor can start with the types of food we eat. Though this post is long I would go as far as to say it is an essential read. Included is a couple of very recent studies to any client or would be TLA client interested in creating an athletic lifestyle and feeling fantastic.

Study 1

People who would like to become physically stronger should start with weight training and add protein to their diets, according to a comprehensive scientific review of research.

The review finds that eating more protein, well past the amounts currently recommended, can significantly augment the effects of lifting weights, especially for people past the age of 40. But there is an upper limit to the benefits of protein, the review cautions.

On the other hand, any form of protein is likely to be effective, it concludes, not merely high-protein shakes and supplements. Beef, chicken, yogurt and even protein from peas or quinoa could help us to build larger and stronger muscles.

It makes intuitive sense that protein in our diets should aid in bulking up muscles in our bodies, since muscles consist mostly of protein. When we lift weights, we stress the muscles and cause minute damage to muscle tissue, which then makes new proteins to heal. But muscles also will readily turn to and slurp up any bonus proteins floating around in the bloodstream.

Knowing this, bodybuilders have long swallowed large amounts of gloppy, protein-rich shakes after workouts in the expectation of adding greater bulk to their muscles than the lifting alone.

But the advantages of added dietary protein for the rest of us have been less clear. Past studies have indicated that, in general, people will gain more strength and muscle mass while weight training if they up their intake of protein than if they do not. But many of those studies have been relatively small or short-term and often have focused on only one kind of person, such as young men or older adults, or one kind of protein, such as whey shakes or soy.

Whether everyone, including women, benefits similarly from consuming added protein while weight training and just how much protein is ideal, as well as what that protein should consist of and when it should be eaten, are all open questions.

So for the review, which was published in the British Journal of Sport Medicine researchers from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and other institutions decided to aggregate the results from the best past studies of weight training and protein.

Using databases of published research, they looked for experiments that had lasted at least six weeks, included a control group and carefully tracked participants’ protein intake as well as the eventual impacts on their muscle size and strength.

They wound up with 49 high-quality past experiments that had studied a total of 1,863 people, including men and women, young and old, and experienced weight trainers as well as novices. The sources of the protein in the different studies had varied, as had the amounts and the times of day when people had downed them.

To answer the simplest question of whether taking in more protein during weight training led to larger increases in muscle size and strength, the researchers added all of the results together.

And the answer was a resounding yes. Men and women who ate more protein while weight training did develop larger, stronger muscles than those who did not.

The impacts of this extra protein were not enormous. Almost everyone who started or continued weight training became stronger in these studies, whether they ate more protein or not.

But those who did ramp up their protein gained an extra 10 percent or so in strength and about 25 percent in muscle mass compared to the control groups.

The researchers also looked for the sweet spot for protein intake, which turned out to be about 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. In practical terms, that would amount to about 130 grams of protein a day for a 175-pound man. (A chicken breast has about 45 grams of protein.)

Beyond that point, more protein did not result in more muscle benefits.

That number is considerably higher, however, than the protein levels called for in the current federal recommendations, which suggest about 56 grams of protein a day for men and 46 grams a day for women.

“We think that, for the purposes of maximizing muscular strength and mass with resistance training, most people need more protein” than is advised in the recommendations, says Rob Morton, a doctoral student at McMaster who led the study.

That advice holds especially true for middle-aged and older weight trainers, he says, almost none of whom were getting the ideal amount of protein in these studies and who, presumably in consequence, tended to show much smaller gains in strength and muscle size than younger people.

On the other hand and conveniently, any type of and time for protein was fine. The gains were similar if people downed their protein immediately after a workout or in the hours earlier or later, and it made no difference if the protein was solid or liquid, soy, beef, vegan or any other.

“We obviously need more studies,” Mr. Morton says.

Source: NY Times/ Gretchen Reynolds/ Lift weights, eat more protein/ Feb 7 2018


Study 2 (for those hitting middle age and beyond)

You might be relieved to hear that the creeping weight gain of middle age – a pound or two (0.5 to 1 kilogram) a year starting in your 20s, on average – eventually grinds to a halt. By the time middle age hits, specifically around age 50 you’ll typically start slowly shedding weight.

Don’t celebrate yet, though. There’s a good chance that the weight you’re losing is muscleprecisely what you need to hang onto to stay metabolically healthy and independent. The scientific term for this age-related loss of muscle, strength and physical function is “sarcopenia,” a condition that’s often overshadowed by the more urgent battle against obesity – and that oversight, according to a new review paper by Canadian researchers, has potentially serious consequences.

The causes of sarcopenia are complex and multifactorial, but one key factor is that muscle cells in older adults no longer respond as strongly to the muscle-building signals triggered by exercise and protein intake, a phenomenon known as anabolic resistance. That means protein guidelines optimized for middle-aged adults may not be adequate as you get older.

In a forthcoming issue of the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, Oliveira and her colleague Carla Prado, along with Isabelle Dionne of the University of Sherbrooke, argue that current Canadian nutrition and exercise guidelines are inadequate for preventing sarcopenia and don’t reflect the latest research on the topic. Guidelines for protein intake were last updated in 2005, while physical-activity guidelines date from 2011.

Current guidelines call for a daily intake of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram for adults. Most Canadians hit that threshold with ease; for example, a Quebec study of older adults called Nutrition as a Determinant of Successful Aging (NuAge) found an average intake of 1.0 g/kg/day. But even that may not be enough, Oliveira says: In another similar study found that older adults eating 1.2 g/kg/day of protein lost 40 per cent less muscle over a three-year period than those eating the recommended 0.8 g/kg/day.

It’s not just how much you eat. There’s some evidence that spreading your protein across three meals triggers more muscle growth than just downing a massive steak at dinner. And protein quality matters too, with certain amino acids such as leucine playing an outsized role in muscle growth. That means animal proteins such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy tend to pack a bigger punch than plant proteins, although Oliveira emphasizes that variety is also important.

So what should revised guidelines recommend for older adults? Estimates in recent studies range from about 1.0 to 1.5 g/kg/day, but more research is needed to provide a reliable estimate, Oliveira and her colleagues argue. Crucially, any new guidelines should tailor advice for different groups: Older women, for example, lose muscle more rapidly after menopause and may have higher protein requirements than older men.

For physical activity, current guidelines for older adults focus on a goal of 150 minutes of moderate or vigorous aerobic activity every week, with a vague suggestion to do “muscle- and bone-strengthening activities” at least twice a week. Since resistance training plays such a crucial role in muscle maintenance, the researchers argue that guidelines should give more prominence to advice about exactly how much and what type of resistance training is needed.

The overall picture from existing research is that full-body resistance training with loads that get progressively harder over time, two to three times a week, is optimal for older adults. One study published in 2017 found that two harder workouts plus one easier one produced the best results, perhaps because older strength-trainers simply couldn’t recover quickly enough to do three hard workouts each week.

Source: Globe & Mail/ Alex Hutchinson “we need better guidelines to deal with age related muscle loss.” October 8 2018.

.Quick story.

The scenario: I went to my hometown of Port Glasgow in Scotland for a month. Within a throwing distance was a fish & chip shop, pubs, cake and pastry shops, butchers that sold pies containing more fat than a ducks bum and dessert shops that sold double thick cream. I was buying so much Double Thick Cream I started to ask for it by DTC. DTC would go perfectly with meringues,  ice cream topped with chocolate + caramel sauce, even my morning cereal. Oh yeah, on top of that there was the weekly scotch festivities and nightly drinks with the happy word of slainte being toasted every evening.

Wasn’t it Oscar Wilde who said “I can resist everything except temptation.” Decadent was in full force for that month and I did not hold back one bit when tempted.

When I came back, admittedly I was very happy, but in the process of all this happiness gained a lardy one pack and made even a simple venture like going upstairs making me out of breath.

This was not good: I was a trainer and needed to get back into shape more pronto than fast. A plan that made sense without sending my body and brain into shock had to implemented.

So the plan went something like this.

The first two weeks/

I would workout 1x per week and exercise 2-6 x per week. Please note, and the point of this whole post is there is a difference between working out and exercising. Working out is like the first slider in our web page or image below. Working out changes your body composition quickly and creates a stress response that needs recovering from. Exercising on the other hand is really not that hard and is actually quite kind to the body. Exercise might be a simple bike ride to work, a long walk, a mini circuit involving bodyweight exercises, even a swim. In other words things you feel you can do every day as they add only limited stress to the body while establishing new good habits.

Even though I am a self admitted lightweight I also cut alcoholic intake to weekends instead of my Scottish habit which was every day starting at lunch time.

Week 3

Added another workout day, cut an exercise day and started to dial in breakfasts(making them healthier.) I have a fondness for simple breakfasts including fruit, toast, and Greek yogurt.

Week 4

During this week added a third workout day and removed another exercise day.  I cut weekend alcohol exclusively to scotch as my beverage of choice (tough life, eh). Also – even though it felt like I was back at school – created a routine where every day would make my own lunch that always included a very large salad. No exceptions. My dinners are usually always pretty light so didn’t need much adjustments. However, snacks had to change. Gone were treats replaced with apples and a daily protein shake.

By the end of the month

I was exercising 3x per week + working out out 3x per week, enjoying a great breakfast, lunches were sorted and eating a decent dinner became normal.. As a result, I was feeling smashing and well on the way to athleticism TLA style. The entire process was the opposite of a crash diet. Instead progress was gradual, sustainable and except for daily lunch making, didn’t feel too much of a struggle.

Remember, we are all athletes. When you have been out the exercise game and want to get back (regardless of your level) it just takes a plan of action to get there that does not involve a mentality of sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice and pain, pain, more pain.

Instead coaching, consistent workouts and exercise with a plan of gradual stress are key.

Fancying becoming a TLA client. Let me know.

Slainte Mhath! (cheers and to good health)




TLA client Jenny E. had an athletic photo shoot in prep for an online training business where she is going to train clients in her new place of residency: India.

Looking super fit wee Jenny.

Here is some physical standards to shoot for to create this look.

9-10 chin ups @ an X-1-3 Tempo
Trap Bar Deadlift 165 for 5 reps
50 lbs for one arm row for 6 reps.
 Push-ups: 20 @ an X-1-3 Tempo
Dumbbell BP  40 lb dumbbells for 5 reps



noun1. the playful and friendly exchange of teasing, kidding and ribbing remarks. Being a recipient of banter is a sign of affection and attention.

I am from a place called Paisley: a short train ride away from the City of Glasgow where the funniest and most down to earth characters who exchange-without even a hint of doubt-the best banter in the world.  No one compares. Not Londoners, not New Yorkers. Glaswegians are the best. If I was to rate my banter on a scale of 1-10 with Weedgies  I would rank about a two.

However, my enjoyment in listening to Glasgow banter is a full 10.  Remember this line: Good banter makes me return to Glasgow almost every year.

How does banter relate with working out? Everything.

I admire folk who can enter a training facility, have laser focus-train hard, and then bolt out. If you want to get results or succeed this behaviour needs to happen. However, we are talking training.

Training can be uncomfortable.
Training is not most peoples idea of bliss.
With the preparation involved such as changing, proper eating, showering etc training is a time drain.

Therefore, maintaining laser focus behaviour for-e-v-e-r would be a challenge.  I reckon if you did maintain laser focus for an extended period of time your persona would change and as a result would become too serious, too analytical, less playful. The cache: If you became too serious you wouldn’t get  optimum results as your belly would be catapulting cortisol into your belly. This is not conducive with training as added cortisol equates to increased anxiety, slower reactions, and those awful three words extra body fat.  Case in point. Have you ever been the recipient of GPS training. If not, I will tell you what happens. At first it’s really interesting and intriguing as every step and heart beat is measured. This analysis becomes old fast as you start to feel more and more like a robot. As I recall there is really only two robots with pizazz: C-3PO and R2-D2. The rest are like stormtroopers and whenever we go to the movies we like to see the stormtroopers dead.

In my coaching experience optimum results requires the ability to relax and be playful as athletes need to feel loose to break through. In the end athletes want optimum results. Optimum results is achieved with a mixture of playful creativity with laser focus.

Enter Banter. 

If Soul Cycle uses positive lift the spirits to the sky banter Train like an Athlete tries as best as we can to use Glasgow Banter. We like to have a laugh and keep it real by paying attention to the wee things. When you walk in we (of course) know your name and (of course) always say hello!  Bonus: If we are in the banter mood may even comment on your bright socks or during the session less than exquisite form. In the end we like to think that the best things in life are really about paying attention, espressos, scotch, great uplifting occasionally sweary music, naps, making a connection, having a laugh, kidding on, eating great 80% of the time and the other 20%- well you know…… stretching, enjoying, training hard, resting for results, looking and feeling really good, guiding topics away from the deep to the superficial as quickly as we can and having training sessions that make you feel brilliant.

TLA is definitely not for everyone.

For instance we will never-ever- ever- train stormtroopers.




Every few weeks I hit a local gym to see what’s happening. Today, I hit a beautiful community centre overlooking the park. The equipment was state. Newest of the new. Best of the best. I had not been there in over six months, but I did notice the same people. Not much had changed. As with every visit the best bodies were lifting intensively at the free weight section, the Ok bodies were lifting semi intensively at the cable and machine section, and the worst bodies were slowly grinding on the treadmills.

If I was an exerciser who worked out at the gym this would tell me one thing: for best results you need to be pushed toward strength. In other words: strong is the new skinny. Strength is a form of athletic performance which, when coupled with a solid nutrition plan, leads to a great physique faster than most forms of training.

But how do you get strong? After all if it was easy, everyone would lift like Louis Cyr.

Step 1. The first thing is realizing what exercises make you strongest fastest. The list is not extensive. Suggestions: Squat. Yes. Deadlift & hip thrusts. Absolutely. Chin ups & Presses. Yep. One Arm Rows. Sure. Weighted push ups. Short sprints. Definitely.

Step 2. The next component is varied low to mid rep ranges combined with mixed tempos. Despite what Gwynth Paltrow preaches, over the long term, high rep, up & down rep ranges don’t necessarily cut it. Sure it’s  great to add high light reps sporadically or with select lifts.  However, over the bulk of training sessions we want big, high tension, or fast & explosive lifts. Large efforts, just by their very nature require lower reps. If you can do 15+ reps without much bother this is far too low. Instead I  would shoot for 9-12, 7-9, 4-6 & on occasion 1-3 reps. Another option is having fun with pain by adding tempos. For instance, as opposed to just the usual lift up, lift down (which is a bit too missionary for my liking) complete a rep in four, six, or even ten seconds.

Step 3. After a lift you should require a rest period. This is a big one. The rest period might be 45 seconds, 90 seconds, three minutes or after a particular taxing set: five minutes. Regardless, if you are not taking rest periods this is a good indication the intensity is not high enough. After a set you should have been working hard enough that your body needs brief rejuvenation before continuing onto the next exercise. When you go for a sprint moving as fast as you can you need a rest because the intensity was high. This same rule applies to lifting: after every set you should be somewhat spent/not too dissimilar to the feeling of just completing a short 40 m sprint.

*When a client roars from one exercise to the other I rarely think they are pushing hard. Instead, I think because they can roar from one exercise to the other the workout is too easy.

Step 4. Application of effort. When seeking strength, continuous effort is key. On a scale of 1-10 this effort should be a consistent 7/10 to a full 8/10,9/10 or 10/10 effort on almost every set. Throughout the workout these 7-10 efforts would need to take place in repeated bouts for up to an hour. Multiply this by the few weekly workouts needed every week to achieve strength & it starts to become clear why most people gravitate toward the cardio machines and easier exercises.

Step 5. Eat quality carbs. If you are going to lift for strength you need glycogen. Glycogen comes from carbs. One of the worst mistakes is going low carb if you want to get strong. Going too low on carbohydrates limits glucose in the body, which in turn, will mean the exerciser (despite their high performing intention) will not have the energy to raise the necessary intensity.

TLA has several clients who consistently hit high numbers, take rests, always puts 7-10 efforts in most exercises and enjoy an enviable level of carbs throughout the day. As a result, they look pretty amazing. This is not a magic pill. Instead, build up gradually, and as you build up follow these 5 simple steps. The results radar will travel from flatline to through the roof justifying your claim to be part of the new skinny.



Some clever geek hacked the TLA Facebook page. The hacker sent clients dietary recommendations on how to lose body fat in “two weeks or less.” The recommendations were presented in such a way that it came across as being from the TLA. Luckily, clients who know me know I would never recommend supplements.

Rightly or wrongly I don’t even take a Tylenol when I have a headache. Therefore, there is no chance in recommending pills for fat loss.

I am a food guy. Always have been. Only when clients get the food bit right do we start contemplating supplements. However,food is always first. The reason I stand by this philosophy is because it’s worked pretty good so far.

As mentioned in a previous post I was watching a video of a trainer demonstrate the supplement protocol he recommends athletes take during a workout. You would think he was training junkies. At least 40 pills every workout. Each to their own! However, it just ain’t my thing.

Instead, I believe we need to keep it real. This includes balancing protein with carbohydrates, eating the right amount of calories that matches our expenditure, and not being afraid of things like bread, fruit, and the occasional sweet.

I am going to show you what a trainer eats. I will also show what a typical day cycle looks like, so one matches the other.

Continue reading What a trainer eats