The Full Time Worker's Guide to a Good Physique

The Full Time Worker's Guide to a Good Physique
How to keep fit despite a hectic lifestyle.

Dom Thorpe

Dom Thorpe
Managing Director and Principal Trainer

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

What a summer! Yes, it rained but not much and the long sunny periods have meant that I’ve spent many an evening sitting in my garden with a bottle of wine when perhaps I should have been training. So now’s the time to make up for it. Get back on track before we reach the Christmas season, when let’s face it, nobody trains effectively, if at all. If it’s not “I can’t train tonight because I’ve got a work Christmas do” it’s “I can’t train in the morning because I’ll be hung over”. Either way, you’re only making it harder for yourselves. With that in mind I find it best to make sure I’m in great shape leading up to the Christmas season which makes the New Year’s fitness regime a much less daunting task. So we need to think about our regime now, as the evenings draw in and the temperature drops. Realistically, the social side of your life will start picking up mid-November so you’ll want to set that as your target date for greatness.

Incidentally, my birthday is the 13th November which means I’ll probably be having some kind of fancy dress party which involves me getting half naked as part of my costume:

Cupid at my 28th Birthday

How about you get in shape and join me? 

So that gives us just shy of 10 weeks in which to become Greek Gods/Goddesses. The method? Put simply, train a bit, stop drinking so much and eat more healthily for a while.

Decide which areas of your body need the most work and create an exercise programme accordingly. Forget the treats where possible, cut out mid week drinking and if you can switch your glasses of wine or pints of beer for lower calorie options such as Vodka & Diet Coke or Gin & Slimline Tonic you’ll be on your way to Hotsville.

Regarding your diet, here’s something to think about. Collette Pryer, a former colleague and current friend of mine writes about the benefit of cutting out all forms of sugar out of your diet, from sweet treats to starchy carbohydrates; and the results speak for themselves. I post this because I agree wholeheartedly with what she’s saying, and that’s based on me seeing results on other people, and seeing it on myself too. Visual proof to follow. 

So, to follow on from that I want to let you into a secret which I’ve learnt over the years. In June I went on a trip to Crete and this time I actually made a bit of effort to get in shape beforehand. In order to improve my physique I ate a diet which adheres to the rules suggested by Collette above and trained fairly hard around 2-3 times per week. Weights mainly with a bit of Sunday 5-aside football to get the ol’ ticker beating.

Below is a before and after of me in Dec 2011 (Gran Canaria) and June 2013 (pre-Crete). 

Left: Gran Canaria at 31. Right: Pre-Crete at 32.

That's a year and a half between the two images which isn't particularly impressive in terms of rapid results but that's not the message here. There are two messages, the first being that a "naturally skinny" person like myself can get fat if their lifestyle dictates it. I'm not actually naturally skinny but many people would suggest that because it appears that I don’t put on weight (as you can see from the early photo, I do put on weight). The second being that at 32 years old I'm was in the best shape of my life which highlights the fact that age doesn't make you fat, but your lifestyle does.

Now some of you might be thinking "but you're not that fat in the early picture". And you'd be right. But's that's me after a couple of months of eating badly and not training particularly hard. The real overweight people in this world have been behaving like that for YEARS which is why they are overweight.

To summarise:Nobody is naturally fat.
Being old doesn't make you fat.

I’m still 32 but after a few months of letting things slide I’m somewhere between the two images at present. But as I mentioned earlier, it’s time to reign it in and get back on the wagon before I over-indulge throughout December. So I’ll be eating mainly meat and veg for the next month at least, and cutting out the fun stuff like pastries and my biggest vice, DR Pepper. That alone will save me around 800 calories each day which is like doing a 10k every day in terms of weight loss.

And if you need some help on your way, you know who to call. And to make it easier for you I'm doing an Autumn promotion:

12 sessions for £480! Saving you £120!!

Just quote "Autumn Blogspot" when you enquire to benefit from this awesome discount.

Until next time people.

p.s. I appreciate that there are lots of images of me half naked but I promise that it's purely for your education and nothing to do with the fact that I like the attention ;) 

Dom Thorpe
DT Training LTD

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Why am I so fat?

Why am I so fat?

Ever wondered why you struggle to control your weight? Here are a few pointers about weight gain/loss that you may not know.

The myths:

  • You’re fat because you have a slow metabolism
  • You’re fat because you’re old
  • You’re fat because you put on baby weight
  • You’re naturally that shape
  • You’re just big boned

The truths:

  • You don’t have a slow metabolism. If you burn fewer calories than others it’s because you’re either short, or you have less muscle mass. If that’s the case you should not be eating as much as people who are taller than you or more muscular. Does a Chiwawa eat as much as a Labrador? No, but if it did it would be very fat indeed. Your calorie consumption should be proportional to the cube of your height. If a 6 foot person and a 5 foot person both eat 2000cal per day, the 5 foot person will have a significant amount more body fat. That explains why your friend who’s “really tall and thin” but “eats loads of food” is the shape they are.
  • You’re not fat because you’re old. We don’t suddenly start putting on weight when we get to the age of 30 like many people believe. You suddenly put on weight when you start coming home in the evening and having half a bottle of wine every night. You start putting on weight when you work in an office where they frequently offer snacks and cakes around to boost team morale. You start putting on weight because your job requires you to work more hours so you end up buying takeway for its convenience factor. You start putting on weight because you think that 3 hours of exercise per week is sufficient ,though when you were younger you were probably doing 3 hours of exercise per day.
  • You’re not fat because you put on baby weight. If this was the case you would have lost the weight when you bore the child. Having a living creature growing inside you does require more fuel which comes from the food you eat. Approximately an extra 300 calories per day. However if this extra fuel was being used to aid the growth of the baby, it wouldn’t be building up in the form of body fat underneath your skin. If you put on a significant amount of body fat during pregnancy it’s because you ate more than you and your baby required.
  • You’re not naturally that shape. Have you ever looked at cows in a field and thought “Crikey, that cow is naturally fat”. Probably not because cows only eat what they need to survive. As do lions, tigers, fish and most other things in the wild. They don’t eat cookies and cake because it tastes nice, and they can’t simply order food online whenever they feel hungry. As a result, they are all more or less the same shape. They certainly don’t store excess body fat, unless they’re an animal which hibernates, in which case they are purposefully putting on weight in order to survive for several months without eating a single thing.
  • You’re not big boned. Bone density has nothing to do with the amount of body fat which surrounds your muscles. If you are storing fat around your body, it’s because you’re eating more than you need. If you’ve always been fat, it means you ate too much when you were young. Whether or not you eat too much now is a different matter. If you eat the right amount, your bodyweight doesn’t change so maybe you did the damage when you were young and now you’re maintaining a state of “overweightness” by eating an amount which appears to be “normal”. Remember, to lose weight you need to eat “less than enough” for a period of time.


  • Inactive people should eat less than active people
  • Short people should eat less than tall people
  • If you want little indulgences you should be prepared to gain weight or work out more
  • Snacking represents a disproportionately large amount of our daily calorie intake

An afterthought:

I’m not “Naturally Skinny”. My weight fluctuates like anybody else’s. Over Christmas I regularly gain half a stone/3-4kg. In January I lose it again through hard work. I train my muscles to remain strong and functional which also means I burn more fuel on a daily basis. This allows me to eat more than someone who simply does cardio or doesn’t train at all. I also do cardiovascular exercise in order to keep my heart, lungs and circulatory system in good shape.

At the age of 16 I was more or less fully developed at 83kg. Ever since then my weight has fluctuated between 83kg and 85kg with the exception of certain periods during which weight has gone as high as 90kg. This extra 7kg can be gained in a couple of months. If I didn’t change my habits at that point I would simply continue gaining weight and within two years I’d be at least 20kg (3 stone) heavier but I always nip it in the bud before it gets beyond my control. Last year, at the age of 30 I dropped to 76kg whilst training for an event. I had not been that light since the age of 13. The fact that I am now 31 hasn’t had any effect on my ability to control my weight because I try to maintain a lifestyle which doesn’t encourage weight gain. I do drink lots and eats lots at the weekend but I also spend the weekend playing sport. I do enjoy a beer or glass of wine at home in the evening but I don’t let it become habitual.

I’m a normal person whose body functions the same way as yours.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Dom Thorpe’s Top 10 tips to get in shape in 2012

1. Set yourself a goal

Don’t try and go into to the New Year exercising blind. Take 5 minutes to sit down and work out exactly what you want to achieve. “Get Fit” isn’t a good goal. Neither is “Lose Weight”. Be more specific about what you want to achieve, so that you can monitor it effectively. Try targets such as “Increase my bicep measurement from 15 inches to 16 inches” or “Shorten my 5k time buy 2 minutes”. If weight-loss is your goal, suggest a realistic weight with a realistic deadline. A good goal would be based on losing 1lb per week. So to lose a stone you’d be looking at setting your target date of 8th April. That way you can check progress on a weekly basis and see if you need to work harder, or if you can slack off a bit. Use S.M.A.R.T Goals. They should be Specific, Measurable, Action Orientated, Realistic and Timelined. For more info on setting effective fitness goals read my previous article here.

2. Book regular exercise sessions into your diary

Without planning your exercise regime it’s very easy to find yourself at the end of the week thinking “Oh dear, I didn’t go to the gym this week”. And if you keep doing that there’s no way you’ll reach your goal. Set specific training days and times so that you know when you are meant to be working out. If, for whatever reason, you can’t make a session, reschedule it for later in the week-but ensure that you fit your specified number of training sessions into your week. Don’t go too hard if you’re just starting out. Three times per week should be sufficient. It also provides room for error. If for example your programme says Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6.30am, but you oversleep on Monday, you can shift the whole thing back a day and go Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Alternatively reschedule your session for later in the day. Whatever you do, make sure you stick to your target number of sessions.

3. Introduce the phrases “I’ll be a bit late as I’m going for a workout first” and “I can’t tonight, I’m working out” in to your vocabulary.

To meet your goals you need to prioritize exercise. No doubt you’ll receive invitations to do other activities which won’t help you get in shape, but try to not let these replace your workouts. The two can go together easily. One method, which works for some, is the Friday evening workout before the pub. If you’re planning to train after work but your boss requests that you stay late and you don’t think that “I need to hit the gym” is a suitable excuse perhaps you can try the phrase “I’ve got a meeting with my trainer and he’ll charge me if I cancel at short notice”.

4. Find an exercise companion

If you can’t afford a personal trainer who’ll charge you if you cancel, then find a friend who shares a similar goal and try to motivate each other. It’s far easier to motivate yourself to get up and exercise if you’re meeting someone else for a workout. It may even add a little competitive edge to the process-which will have a positive effect on both of you. If you don’t have any friends who are interested in sharing your fitness goals then try a training buddy site such as You can specify your location and sporting interests but remember, it’s for training buddies not bedtime-buddies!

5. Kick start your regime with a “Dry January”

One way to seriously reduce your calorie intake is to cut out alcohol. If a “Dry January” is too much of a challenge for you then perhaps you can try to abstain during the week and only drink alcohol on Friday and Saturday. Not only will this lower your calorie intake but more importantly, it’s far easier to motivate yourself to exercise if you aren’t suffering from hangover, and have had a decent night’s sleep. I probably don’t need to highlight how many days have been written off due to a stinking hangover, and when that happens, the exercise often goes out the window too.

6. Cut out sweets and snacks during January.

Another quick way to massively reduce your calorie intake is to cut down on your sweets and snacks. For many of us, these make up a high percentage of our daily calorie intake. Try to knock your routine trips to the vending machine on the head by bringing some fruit into work with you. I often have a cup of tea with one sugar when I have a craving for something sweet as a teaspoon of sugar contains around 20 calories which is far better than my preferred option-a 500ml Dr Pepper with a Cadbury’s Double Decker (485 calories!). Alternatively try a diet drink. They contain no calories and should help satisfy a craving for something sweet.

7. For early morning workouts, try putting your exercise clothes out ready beside your bed.

January is one of the coldest months of the year and if you plan to get up before work to exercise it can be extremely challenging to get out of the nice warm bed when it’s super chilly in your room. Take 5 minutes before you go to bed to get your exercise clothes out and keep them beside the bed. That will remove one barrier in the morning. If the thought of getting into cold clothes puts you off, then pull them under the covers and snooze for ten minutes. By the time your next alarm goes off the clothes will be at body temperature which will make getting out of bed a whole lot easier. Also, setting the timer on your heating accordingly makes a huge difference. If the room is warm when your alarm goes off, getting out of bed shouldn’t be a problem.

8. Go to bed earlier

Don’t try and be a super hero. If you’re getting up to train before work, you need to adjust your bedtimes accordingly. As a Personal Trainer I get up at 5.20am most days. If I don’t get to bed by 10:20pm this early morning wake up becomes a huge struggle. I work on a 7 hours sleep basis but for some, eight hours is preferable. Whatever your perfect number of sleep hours is, work backwards and make sure you get into bed with enough time to get a good night’s sleep.

9. Don’t over-train.

One thing which can put a stop to your training regime is an injury. Injuries are very likely if you start your regime with too much intensity or at too high a frequency. A very common problem is associated with running because typically you feel like you can do it every day. Your cardiovascular system and your muscular system can tolerate a daily run however your bones and joints can’t. Bones, ligaments and tendons take longer than muscle to grow stronger and can break down if too much stress is put on them. Always have a rest day between workouts unless you’re following a well designed split programme in which case you may train two days in a row. Go too hard and you’re leaving yourself open to injuries such as shin splints, tendonitis or even stress fractures, and once you’ve been caught by one of these, your fitness regime will break down.

10. Use an electronic food diary to monitor your calorie intake

Often we think we are eating healthily yet we rarely factor in the quantity of food, which can often be much higher than it should be. It’s not as simple as “women need 2000 calories and guys need 2500” because it is all related to our height. Short people should consume significantly less calories than tall people. As a 6’1” male I’d need to have a net calorie intake of around 1950 calories to lose 1lb per week, where my net total is my intake of food and drink minus the calories I burn through physical activity. A 5’2” male however, would need to consume a net total of around 1400 calories to achieve the same goal. Keep track of your daily intake by using tools such as in order to gain a realistic hold on what you’re putting in vs. what you’re putting out. It will work out what you should be eating and tell you when you are above or below that figure. You can use this as an app for your smart phone or online through their website and I guarantee it’ll reveal some surprising data about what you’re eating. I found that after a few weeks of using this tool I had a much better idea of what I needed to consume on a daily basis and didn’t even need the diary any more.

Hopefully these 10 ideas will help you on your way to a healthier and fitter lifestyle for 2012 however if you think you need extra help why not try a free taster session with a Personal Trainer from DT Training? We’ll send a mobile trainer to you at whatever location is most convenient, where they’ll deliver a full consultation and take you through an hour of one to one fitness training. Thereafter session prices start from as little as £42 per hour for a fully qualified trainer to help you achieve the body you want.

If that’s out of your budget you may be interested in our new company Personal Trainers in Training where we offer a similar service with fitness instructors who are working towards their level 3 personal trainer qualifications. You still benefit from a trainer who comes to you however, sessions start from as little as £25 per hour.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

I'm exercising more but I'm gaining weight. What gives?

So, recently a newspaper published an article discussing the fact that exercise makes you put on weight because after people exercise they consume large amounts of high carb food. Lord help me!

There are two big reasons why we exercise. To increase fitness or to lose weight- sometimes both. Some of us exercise for fun, but that's another story. However, the first two reasons which I've mentioned shouldn't be confused. The following rules apply:

  • If you are trying to lose weight, don't increase your daily calorie intake by consuming excess calories such as energy drinks, recovery meals, or carb loading. This will only prevent weight loss.
  • If you are training for performance and aren't concerned with weight loss, you need to supplement your diet in order to fuel the extra work you are doing and maintain concentration/performance during your chosen activity.

Marathon runners consume energy drinks and energy gels during races to keep themselves fully fuelled so that their performance doesn't deteriorate during the race. The same principle applies during their training season. Footballers drink energy drinks during their game for the same reason-but they're not trying to lose weight. Athletes tend not to have body fat so they can’t survive without supplementing their diets. If you do have body fat you don't need to supplement your diet. The fat around your body provides the extra energy you need to survive, the same way a polar bear survives hibernation throughout the winter. It doesn't eat anything but it lives off of its body fat for months at a time. Humans are capable of the same mechanism. It's this process which results in weight loss.

To lose weight through exercise you must either keep your diet exactly the same or lower your calorie intake which will result in even quicker weight loss. Don't take an energy drink with you on your runs as this defies the logic of the activity. Don't drink a recovery drink after your workout otherwise this will also prevent weight loss. Weight loss is about creating an energy deficit so that your body collects the energy that it needs to survive from the fat which is stored around your body-not the food you eat. You must be consuming fewer calories than your body requires to survive on a daily basis so that the only place you can get the extra calories to make up the difference is your fat resources.

When you commence a new fitness regime, if weight loss is your goal, don't start eating porridge or muesli because you think they're the healthy option. They are high calorie options for people who are going to be performing a great deal of activity throughout the day. You're likely to consume 3 times as many calories through eating these cereals as you would have if you had stuck to your cocopops or cornflakes (see my previous article on cereals). You're probably only going to be sitting at your desk all day so eat a light breakfast and avoid snacking until lunchtime. If you must snack, eat some low calorie options to tide you over such as crunchy vegetables or a low calorie fruit like an apple.

Weight and fitness are two different things which are not to be confused. Here's a simple rule:

  • If you're overweight-you eat/drink too much.
  • If you're unfit-you don't do enough exercise.

Don't fool yourself by saying that you're overweight because you don't do enough exercise and don't pretend that you're unfit because your diet is bad. It's quite possible to be very fit and overweight. It's also quite possible to be underweight and very unfit. Your diet should be related to your lifestyle. If you don't do any exercise, you shouldn't eat very much. Gains in body fat mean you are eating/drinking* more than you need.

When you consume more fuel than you need it's stored as body fat. If you consume fewer calories than you need, these calories are taken from your body fat. It makes no difference if you run a marathon every day or not. It's about how many calories you expend vs. how many calories you consume.

Below is an example of a weight loss day:

Calories in - Calories out = Change in weight

2500 calories consumed - 3000 calories burned (2500 to survive plus 500 for exercise) = -500 calories

There are 9 calories in a gram of fat so 500/9 = 55.5 grams of fat lost in the above example. 20 days of this will result in over 1kg of weight loss.

So if weight loss is your goal, instill some discipline in yourself and forgo the extra "treats" that you've earned through exercise.

*in my experience many overweight people who believe they are eating the right amount aren't considering their alcohol intake which in some cases can be as much as 1000 calories most nights of the week.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Body Mass Index Simplified

Our body mass index is a way to compare our weight to our height. The theory is that there is a “healthy” weight target range for any given height. It is worked out by dividing our weight by our height squared. The government suggests that a healthy BMI should be somewhere ranging from 18.5 up to 24.9. Below 18.5 and we are considered underweight, above 24.9 and we are considered overweight. If our BMI is 30 or higher we are considered obese. Below are my current measurements applied to the BMI formula to show you how we calculate it:


My BMI = 79KG / 1.85 x 1.85

My BMI = 79 / 3.42

My BMI = 23.1

Good news for me! I’m within the “healthy” range. But do I need to keep performing this calculation every time I want to check when my weight changes? When will I know if I’m overweight? What if I forget how the equation works? What if I can’t remember what the “healthy” zone is? All good questions which is why I’ve created the table below to simplify the whole process by eliminating the BMI from the equation and tell me my maximum and minimum weights if I want to remain “healthy”. All you need to do is remember your maximum and minimum “healthy” weights. Find your height and cast your eyes across the table to see what your recommended range is.


LBS (lower limit)

LBS (upper limit)

Stone (lower limit)

Stone (upper limit)




6st 10lbs

9st 1lbs





9st 6lbs




7st 3 lbs

9st 9lbs




7st 7 lbs





7st 10lbs

10st 6lbs




7st 13lbs

10st 10 lbs




8st 3lbs

11st 1lbs




8st 6lbs

11st 5lbs




8st 10lbs

11st 10lbs




8st 13lbs





9st 3lbs

12st 6lbs




9st 6lbs

12st 10lbs




9st 11lbs

13st 2lbs





13st 7lbs




10st 3lbs

13st 10lbs




10st 7lbs

14st 12lbs




10st 12lbs

14st 8lbs




11st 3lbs

15st 1lbs

By using the above table we can use our height as a reference to gain an idea of what our maximum or minimum weight should be without the need to perform any equations. Bear in mind that the closer you are to the upper figure, the closer you are to being overweight and vice versa for the lower limit. Ideally we should be somewhere in the middle of those figures.

There are exceptions to this rule and many people have been incorrectly classed as overweight or even obese due to large amounts of muscle mass. If we look at an extreme example like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his top form he would weigh in at 235lbs and at a height of 6 feet 2 inches or 30.2 on the BMI scale-so technically obese but he clearly wasn’t overweight in the sense that we use the term. Having said that, we could debate over whether or not he was in a state of good health given the amount of strain put on his heart which would have had to work overtime in order to fuel those huge slabs of meat.

So to clarify, the BMI scale is only really an effective way to gauge weight for inactive individuals. However if you can remember your boundary weights and try to stick within them you should be at lower risk of bad health than you would be otherwise.