This week’s fitspiration is Don, CEO and Master Trainer of The BodyForge – Gozo’s Biggest Fitness Facility . I’ve known Don for quite some time now and he is my go to guy for tough love training advice!
Why gym and weight lifting Don?
That’s easy – my goal is building as much muscle and burning off as much fat as I possibly can. The best way to do that is with a weight training regimen.
I have been involved in sports in some shape or another all my life, as far back as I remember. My father is a consummate sportsman and I inherited his love for most sports, starting off with football, then moving off into several other different sports.Weight training and bodybuilding has always been my major and lifelong love, however.This will actually be my 22nd year of serious training. Time flies when you are having fun.I have actually been helping others lose weight and improve their lives for almost 20 years now.The funny thing is I am still jumping out of bed raring to go, just as much as I did when I first started out. Time has not quenched the fire. The love I have for my own training and teaching others to do the same and to take control of their lives is immense. I would say it has no equal but I know that would be a pretty lofty statement. But I can definitely say you will not find anyone anywhere with a bigger love for what I do.Equal, maybe. Bigger? NEVER!!
What is your best personal achievement in the body building industry?
I think I need to point out that when I started this, it was a fringe sport. Back in the late 70s and the early 80’s, when I first fell in love with fitness, there were no real gyms on my island. No real equipment, no place to train properly and certainly no one to teach you how to do it properly. I had to learn it (as my three year old son would say it) “all by myself”. My first pieces of equipment were car parts and cans of Milo (who remembers Milo, the “tonic food drink” from Nestle?) and Hempel paint filled with cements and pieces of loose scrap iron. It took me several long intensive years to learn what I know today. It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears. I have literally dedicated more than half my life (and counting) to learning all that I can about my game. It took endless self experimentation, coupled with decades of studying to learn the finer intricacies of my craft. It took undying enthusiasm at trying things out, and the incessant thrill of discovery by putting theories to practice. I would need to add that it was all peppered with amazing discoveries and pretty nasty injuries along the way, some of them which still linger and niggle me to this day. But it was a solid learning process that built solid foundations. That said, when I decided to compete, I was seen as a madman. It was impossible to compete at the National level for a Gozitan. We didn’t have the equipment, the knowledge or the ability to do it. I was told a thousand times to give it up. I, however did what I always do in these cases – I did it my way. I’ve always had a clear vision of what I can or cannot do and when I set my mind to something, I accomplish it. So, in my first show, I won Best Novice, Best Junior, nabbed the Best Posing Routine award, won my class and placed third overall, beating some seriously good competition in the Malta Nationals against people way more experience and better prepared than I was. It confirmed that I was doing some things right, despite all the naysayings. I have since always placed in the top three in every national show I competed in, plus I have gone on to represent Malta internationally in The Mr. World, Mr. Europe and Mr Universe.
What is your training schedule like in a typical week?
Before I tell you my training program, readers should keep in mind that I train at quite a high level so my schedule will be completely unrelated to what someone looking for simply good health and fitness is looking for. Unless you are preparing for a National or International level show, you should NOT be training like I do.
When you are an advanced athlete, the body’s neuronal adaptation pathways are very rapid, so you need to change your workouts around frequently. This will help prevent plateauing. Workouts last around 2 hours (perhaps 3 hours on a particularly strong day). I know a lot of people preach the shorter more intense workout, but it is a very individual thing. I just find my body responds better to higher training volumes.Most of my clients thrive on a 45-60 min workout. I hit each body part with a variety of exercises, going as heavy as I can on each exercise, while maintaining proper form and using correct technique. I am a stickler on correct technique as it is the basis upon which to prevent injury and work in some seriously good lifts. Unfortunately, technique is something 90% of gym devotees do not spend enough time learning. I also like to do isolation work and cable work at the end of workouts, which helps me iron out any kinks and bring up lagging body parts.
I think I must have tried every diet under the sun. There are lots of fads out there – some good, some bad, others patently ridiculous. I just love testing things out to see what works best for me. The best results I have had are when I eat every two hours, or three hours at the most. I structure my feedings using a moderate carb, high protein, low fat macronutrient ratio. Again this is what works best for me personally. Everyone will be different. However, just about everyone should avoid high GI carbs, fried foods, bread, and other dietary poisons. Sadly, most people eat a lot of calories which have no nutritional value at all. We are just eating pseudo-food products, items which are not really foods, but bad substitutes at best.
I try to drink at least 5L of water a day. A lot of people are actually dehydrated but fail to realize it because a blunted awareness of dehydration levels is a very common problem. You can’t progress if you are not drinking enough water.
What is your lifestyle outside the gym?
My sport is a major part of my life so just about everything I do is fitness related in some way. However, I am an AC/DC die hard fan, a horror movie buff, the scourge of all-you-can-eat buffets everywhere and an incorrigible practical joker. And I just love spending time with my kids – it’s the best time of my day.
As a fitness professional and gym owner, I’m sure that you meet a heap of men/women who are looking for the quick solution to the perfect body, if you could give these people 5 tips to follow what would you advise them:
Sure. Firing them up, in no particular order: