How Charlie's Added Muscle On His Arms And Chest And Gone Lean

Charlie, 37, GCube

I first met Charlie at the end of January 2017 and what follows is a screenshot of his great 14-week progress. Great especially because he’s been able to quickly switch and adapt to two very different systems – building muscle first and getting lean second. And he’s been having quite some success with it. Now here’s what happened:

Charlie's added 4cm of muscle to his arms, 3cm to his chest in his bulking phase and managed to keep it all once he's got lean.

That’s pretty outstanding. Especially as bulking and getting lean are not only slightly different systems of training and eating but also come with different mindsets. And it takes a strong mindset to be able to perfectly switch between these two. Even more when the programme goes on for 10+ weeks. Now similarly to some of my other clients, Charlie also doesn’t live in London. He commutes every day of the week, he’s got a family and other interests that make his days genuinely packed. Yet he’s managed to stay on top of his training and is step-by-step reaching his fitness and body composition goals as well.

So Let's See How We Did It

Building muscle in upper body first.
The initial consultation with Charlie was interesting as his goals were pulling in two directions. Put on muscle in his upper body and get leaner around his stomach as well. Now to be as effective as possible, this is always done in two phases. The tricky part is that not too many people are willing to do it because it simply takes a little more time and so it requires understanding and patience.

Always adjusting the programme.
Because Charlie’s training is structured in 2 phases with a certain timeline in our minds, the training needs to be effective and so avoiding plateaus is quite high on our list. That’s why the programme changes roughly every 6 weeks so Charlie’s body doesn’t have enough time to get used to it. On top of it, our sessions are always slightly different so his body is shocked into progress.

Goal specific eating.
It always takes up to 2 weeks for a new client to completely immerse in the new diet and play according to its requirements. Some foods are still in the fridge or a cupboard and need to be eaten, the stomach size hasn’t adjusted to adequate quantities of food yet. Charlie managed to shrink this 2-week period into a few days and managed to stay very disciplined, apart from his holidays and some social events.

Using a local gym.
Charlie has been using a gym local to where he lives. The timing and convenience makes it a great option for him and he only goes to gym in London exclusively for his sessions with me where he doesn’t need a separate gym membership. An absolute win win situation.

Using a tracking app.
For all the workouts in his local gym Charlie uses a MyPTHub app with a pre-loaded workout programme so he can simply focus on his workouts, push himself further then last week and be confident that every workout he does is within a structure that is proven to work and is moving him closer to his goals.

Great effort put into training. Systematic approach. Visible change.
Charlie is now on his way to being the leanest he’s ever been, while keeping a good muscle base.

Charlie’s Perspective On Things

Charlie – My story really starts about 10 years ago when I started working in an office and slowly began to put on weight, particularly around my waist, whilst remaining pretty weak and unfit as well.

I’d known for some time, years, that I needed to sort out my ever increasing weight. I was very aware that changing my wardrobe for the next size up every year wasn’t good, nor was the fact that I was out of breath from climbing up the stairs to my office.

Over the years I joined a few gyms, went 2, 3 maybe even 4 times but without knowing what I should be doing, I would just get on the treadmill for 20 minutes, lift a few light weights, get bored and leave, never to return.

Perhaps a better place to start this story is 14 months ago, when I got engaged. I started thinking about how I would look in my wedding photos and  with the wedding date soon set, this was my motivation  to do something about it. I started going back down to the gym again and trying to watch what I was eating and drinking. Truth of the matter is, I was still struggling to find the motivation to actually get up and get on with it, the results weren’t there for me and my time was running out.

I would wake up one day and think ‘Right, this is going to be the last day I eat rubbish’. Then throughout the course of the day I’d be thinking about what take away I would have as a ‘treat’ that evening and as it would be the last take away I would have I’d better make it a good one, washed down with plenty of beer of course!…. This happened pretty much every week for months and months and months.

Until something happened one evening when I was in that ‘tomorrow is the last day I….’ kind of mood I Googled  ‘Personal Trainers City of London’ and this lead me to Vlad, a little over six months ago when I finally bothered to change my life…. and my weight.


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Last month I got married and I see a stronger, leaner, fitter me in the all the photos, so I know I have made significant progress. I couldn’t have done this without Vlad’s help and encouragement. He has helped me to shape my targets, to stay focused and gives me equal amounts of encouragement and grief, depending on what I need most at the time.

I now eat healthier than I ever have and with a much clearer understanding on the benefits and disadvantages that food and drink has on my physique.

I understand what I should be eating, when and what to avoid. I’m doing more exercise that I have ever done, and enjoying it.

After my first session with Vlad I was aching like crazy… but I enjoyed it, enjoying exercise… this was a new experience for me. I decided that if I was going to do this I would not tell anyone in my office. I felt embarrassed about admitting I was unhappy with my body and I also wanted to see if people noticed the difference. After a few weeks my colleagues and some of my friends began commenting that I was looking broader shouldered and with bigger biceps. Whilst this was a little embarrassing it felt good, not only was it clear it was working, it was noticeable so soon… This was just the kick I needed and set me up for the next 16 weeks.

Asking Charlie About His Experience

So Charlie, well done for the progress you’ve made so far. How do you feel right now compared to when we first started training?
I feel more confident, less scared of ‘the gym’ and like I know how to continue to make progress with my quest for a body I am proud of, rather than embarrassed of.

Just for anyone who’s reading this to understand what has your training and progress been in the past?
I didn’t really follow any specific programmes, or have a PT before this. A friend tried to teach me the merits of weightlifting a few times but our schedules didn’t match very well and it just sort of ended. There was a lot of planning to do something but little action. As a result, I didn’t really have much results. My main obstacles in the past were being afraid of the gym, time management and lack of inclination. Now, it’s not exactly easy but I manage to fit in a PT session one day in the week, another workout on a Wednesday when I work from home and then one or two sessions at the weekend. I try to get a game of squash in each week as well.

What was the pivotal moment that made you think ok let’s do this?
Knowing I only had four months before I got married!

What’s the most important factor for you when training?
That’s definitely seeing progress. It’s also really important for me that a PT needs to understand that as a City worker I will have lots of work lunches and dinners, with alcohol a common theme. I needed someone who could help me to work around that.

What about Sets In The City contributed to your achievements? What are your thoughts about training?
The best thing about Sets in the City is that it understands my City lifestyle and helps me work around it. The most important thing I’ve gained from this programme is that my fear of the gym has (mostly) gone. That was a big barrier for me before. I would recommend this to anyone who works in the City, who is tight on time and not in the best shape, but who wants to make a real change to their body shape, fitness and/or strength.
Now, I regularly hit the gym and with purpose. I eat more carefully but I also allow myself time off as well. I used to think that all users of gym weight rooms were meat-headed aggressive types who constantly analyse how much you can, or cannot lift. It turns out that very few are like this and that’s a real relief for me!

What is the greatest value training together has brought to you?
Focus and commitment. Knowing there is always a PT session around the corner helps to keep me motivated.

What are your top 3 pieces of advice/tips for people in a similar position that you were in?
- Don’t keep putting this off – get moving now.
- Have a very clear goal in mind.
- Don’t lie to yourself. You know when you’ve eaten poorly or drunk to much booze. Accept it but do something to balance it out. Namely hit the gym!

In your opinion who is Sets In The City perfect for?
City workers but really anyone who wants to change their body, fitness and/or strength levels.

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Gareth, 37, Volbroker

Training with me for over 2 years, Gareth's originally joined to regain his strength and fitness after a few injuries and has now managed to build himself into one of the strongest guys in the gym. Check what he says about his goals, motivations and experience with us.
Gareth can now do 170kg deadlift and 50kg dumbbell bench press along other things.

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