Find out what motivates and matters to IronMac, in this no bullshit Q&A

What makes the IronMac attitude to training so successful?

I will only train when I can get the maximum out of the session. If I can’t, I will focus on more recovery, then return and attack my session with the intensity it deserves.

Do you enjoy training with extreme intensity?

Quite simply, that is what training demands, unless you’re working on active recovery, mobility or flexibility. When you strip away all the bullshit and stick to four or five key exercises, then all you need is to apply the hammer and hit it hard.

What’s unique about your coaching methods?

Working on strengths is easy. I specialise in coaching athletes through their weaknesses. For example, rather than continuing to do what an athlete wants to do, I will program in what they ‘have to’ do in order to fulfill potential in their sport. If that means no more power cleans, but more low pulls and front squats until the movement is right then so be it. I live by a mantra of eradicate weakness and maximize strength for the best results imaginable.

How do you eradicate weakness in your clients?

Most trainers look at what to add, to entertain their clients, whereas I look at what to take away to get the best results. That’s because basic things, done correctly and consistently, work – and I know what works. Simply observing how a person moves in their warm up will tell me all I need to know and more importantly where the session needs to go.

What’s the difference between training athletes and ordinary people?

With my athletes, I am always looking at the last few percent on performance and continually fine tuning diet and training variables, which can sometimes be daily depending on the cycle of training and competition. The ordinary person requires a lot of work initially to nail the basics both in diet and exercise. There is a greater need for building up work capacity and having a graduated approach with each exercise to ensure they move and feel better after every session. Trust me, if I have a client throw up then I have not done my job. Although reducing them to a puddle of sweat is sometimes required (never be late for a session).

How can people with normal lives get motivated to train that hard?

Training hard takes time and both the mind and body must be respected during the process. The key is to build physical training capacity first. Training hard from the offset will break you mentally as well as physically. The goal is to move better beyond each session- the tough times have to be earned with due diligence and a strong – I AM – mindset.

How does the I AM mindset work in practice?

I’ll give you an example. If you have two people doing an exercise and one of them stops, if the other person is weak in character, or they’re looking for a way out, they’ll stop soon after too. So are you the kind of person who stops two reps after the other person, or do you stop when ‘you’ really have to stop? For me, that’s the difference between someone who is mentally strong or mentally weak. If you can carry on until you have to stop, you will gain a stronger mindset and build up a catalogue of success, which, in the long term, makes you more resilient. If you don’t take responsibility then you’re always going to look for the easy way out and fail!

What do you think training tells you about life?

That people are always on the look out for the next big thing, for complicated theories and shiny toys, with the thought that this will get more done in less time. Inevitably they spend even more time looking for complicated; when simplicity combined with consistency will guarantee them the results they seek.

Where do you get your training ideas?

I have a network of some of the best coaches in the world and when I want to expand my knowledge, I will always seek out the best in the field and spend time with them. I like to read the training books from the strongmen of old and feel quite fortunate to have some of the first editions from Eugen Sandow and the Great Russian wrestler, George Hackenschmidt. They lived with simplicity, trained with ferocity and intent.
I also spend my working day in the gym, coaching clients and observing movement from all walks of life. I love being exposed to new thoughts and theories everyday. I learn, apply, fail, re-learn, re-apply and continue until I find the way.

Who has inspired you the most?

Tough question but it has to be my old kickboxing coach – a guy called Frankie King. He taught me how to kickbox when I was 12. Whenever I was with him, I felt that I could do anything. I felt like nothing was beyond me, which is a sign of great coaching. He was doing something that he loved, with real passion, in every single session. I have no doubt that the three years I spent training with him gave me something very special and I would like to think that when I am immersed with my clients, that they get to see a little bit of Frankie through me.