Personal Training – Session 1

It is a little intimidating having a former top 10 Mr Olympia as your trainer, but if you want to be the best you need to get someone with expertise and experience guiding you.

Lee Powell is a former IFBB Pro and owner of Severside Gym (my second home) and so when I was thinking of who I needed to coach me, Lee was the obvious choice. I knew I needed his expertise to learn how to be better. I also knew I needed someone to look at me objectively and give me some honest feedback on the areas I needed to develop.

I asked Lee for help in 3 specific areas, at least initially. As I get closer to my first competition we will change focus, but I knew there were some areas I need to work on in advance of stepping onto the stage.

Physique Critique

20 years in posing trunks will teach you something about what judges are looking for in a physique. The only perspective I have had of my body is the mirror and the dodgy selfie pics I have tried to take, and so I knew I needed a different, more critical viewpoint.

Overall, Lee’s feedback for my condition was positive, and he even hinted I could also look at classic bodybuilding as well as physique class when it comes to competition time. This was good to hear when I feel smaller than I have been in years after dieting for months. I’ve got pretty decent symmetry (I was worried my right side was out of proportion after 20+ years of throwing footballs), my legs aren’t too bad (I still think my quads are a bit skinny so will be working on those in my bulking phase next year) and overall in decent shape for physique competition. Apparently my skin is pretty good for someone over 40 as well which is nice to hear.

Posing Technique

The session focused on posing, so imagine 1 hour of continual muscle flexing, in the mirror making sure every muscle on show is as tight as possible. This was a workout on its own, so the back workout I did beforehand was probably a little ambitious.

The technique and focus involved in even the most basic of poses is immense and I felt like a complete beginner. Lee had to tell me everything – where to put my feet, which way my thumb’s should be pointing… even reminding me to smile (I wasn’t very good at remembering that part as you will see!).

Full disclosure – the pics above were from the following day after practicing posing and smiling at the same time. Scroll down a bit to see the completely raw and uncut pictures from the day!

Turns out there is so much more to posing than just walking up and flexing your muscles. Body angles and frame shape, transitions into and out of poses that allow you to show off more of your physique, and remembering to tense every muscle, starting from the floor and working your way up. Luckily the gym has a posing room with mirrors so I don’t have an excuse not to practice. I have a long way to go to even become semi-proficient, but good to have a challenge to work on.


Arnold Schwarzenegger famously cut the ends off all his trousers so he was constantly reminded of his need to develop his calves. I’ve posted pics of my weakest poses below in that same spirit, and looking forward to a future before and after comparison once I’ve done the required work.

Develop your weaknesses so that they don’t hold you back, and to focus on amplifying your strengths so you have something that sets you apart.

My approach to strengths and weaknesses in general is to develop your weaknesses so that they don’t hold you back, and to focus on amplifying your strengths so you have something that sets you apart. On stage I’m not going to be able to hide anything, so let’s see if I can get my weaknesses up to the level of the strengths of my competition (sounds a little arrogant, but starting to get into a competitive mood!).

At the end of my session, I asked Lee the question “so, where do you think I am in terms of my physique?” and he gave me an answer I wasn’t quite expecting.

“The only way you will know is if you step on stage!”

Bodybuilding is a competitive sport, and even if you are at your best, sometimes you will win and sometimes you will lose. Lee said the only way to find out is to enter a competition and be judged against everyone else. This is the difference between being happy with my physique and being a competitor. Right now I am happier than I have ever been with my body, but also excited for the next level of development.

Looking forward to another session in the new year after some practice and reaching my target weight where we step it up another and get into comp prep mode.