Alec South: Meeting Motivation By Maxing Out
Alec lives in Cambridge, England; a city notorious for its nobel University and gargantuan Gothic chapels. Alec and his family fit the picturesque architecture: growing tall, big, and strong bodies.
After persistent attempts to achieve well-being, Alec’s weight still towered above average. He struggled to find the right fitness to keep himself motivated. The routine repetitions of strength training simply did not suit his style.
Alec struggled most of his life to find something that kept him healthy and adapted to his body structure. With the influence of Fitbod and influential people in his life, he finally found something he enjoys so much that he taught himself how to do it!
Hear how his path was paved by a passion for powerlifting.
Battle Of The Bulge
As a youngin’, Alec remembers being put on “permanent diets”, almost as if it was a familial tradition. He got plenty of activity by playing rugby for 12 years of his youth, but the extra weight wouldn’t budge and lingered long into his adult years.
His 6 foot 4 (195 cm) frame would lighten up briefly during the family fad diet phases, but would return with a vengeance at what felt like a moment’s notice.
After years of playing the yo-yo diet game, he decided that after his second child was born, it was time to get serious. His motivation was to be healthy and have high levels of energy for his partner, and their 6 year old and 2 year old kids.
Using diets with a low-carb focus lost about 50 pounds (23kg) then plateaued at 260 pounds (118 kg). He stayed stagnant at this weight, full of frustration, until he used it to drive him to make a real change. He knew it was time to do something new.
Productive And Powerful Workouts
Alec had been in gyms before but found himself completely bored with repeated reps. The monotony of slowly working towards higher weight and repetition numbers made him want to stay in bed and hit snooze instead of hitting his 6am workout. The cardio machines didn’t seem to be cutting it for him either.
Alec went to the wonderful world of the internet and found Fitbod on the app store. He tried other fitness apps but found them boring and not at all user friendly.
He discovered and downloaded Fitbod because he was drawn to the positive reviews and personalized approach.
He started using Fitbod three years ago as an initial way to guide his workouts, making sure he targeted the right muscle groups and used the correct form.
He loves the ability to adapt it to his evolving workouts. This includes being able to have a powerlifting plan and the ever updating exercises such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
The Path To Powerlifting
Alec was always interested in powerlifting. He remembers watching the Strongman shows as a kid. Sitting with his family and watching it together on holidays. He remembers being in awe of what they could achieve!
After years of struggling to find a sense of motivation for the repetitive reps, he discovered powerlifting. It made perfect sense: less reps made for less dulling duplication. After dabbling in it, he discovered he had a natural knack.
With the help of strongmen routines and Fitbod, Alec began lifting heavier.
“I felt like the app was putting all of the workout theory into practice and I didn’t need to think about whether I was doing something wrong or not” -Alex Dacks
How To Start Powerlifting
Powerlifting is a competitive sport in which athletes lift the max amount of weight they can in squat, bench, and deadlift.
Any fitness program should have phases in which you emphasize development, progress, and proper form.
The first phase should be a preparatory phase in which the emphasis is placed on increasing capacity, adapting good technique, and building muscle.
The second phase is the strength phase in which strength is built but not necessarily expressed. This may be the time leading up to a competition.
The third phase is the competition phase, in which the ability to express strength is developed. This is usually done during the last few weeks before a competition.
For Alec, he used Fitbod to work his way up to current splits in his training sessions: chest and arm days, back and shoulder days, and a heavy session on Sundays.
Since he naturally recovers well, he doesn’t need much time in between workouts. However, most powerlifting programs, especially if you’re new to it, should include rest and recovery time.
Fitbod measures the impact of specific exercises and takes into account the need for adequate restoration. For each muscle group, it examines the total of all exercises that target the group and assign a muscle recovery percentage, allowing muscles to fully recover on an ongoing basis.
Interested in powerlifting? Check this out: How to Create a Powerlifting & Olympic Weightlifting Program
Motivation To Continue towards Competition
Alec has interest in competing and is currently working his way up to this goal. He reached a deadlift high of 530 pounds (240 kg). His goal this year was to get to 550 pounds (250kg) but due to the pandemic and related gym shut down, he hasn’t been able to reach this yet.
Not to say that it made Alec give up!
With recent gym opening hour restrictions, he was considering using the weights he has in his shed. But the effort of bringing the plated weights and setting up a station in his house was enough to deter him. So instead he doesn’t give himself the option not to go to the gym. He simply wakes up and goes.
Another factor that keeps Alec going is a community of like-minded early fitness risers. He also has an accountability-buddy for almost 20 years. His brother-in-law lives in Liverpool, but this doesn’t stop them from motivating one another. They go through the same process together and make it happen.
Alec also has a partner who encourages him to do and be his best. As Alec explained, she will call him out on being grumpy, saying it’s time for him to go to the gym. She herself is also working full-time so they find ways to best support one another in being successful workers, parents, and healthy individuals.
Lastly, Alec leans into the support and motivation provided by the Fitbod Facebook group.
Fasted Lifts: Nutrition For Powerlifting
Since Alec likes to workout first thing, he doesn’t eat before he lifts. Everybody is different and responds differently to eating or not before a workout. For some people, not eating before a workout can result in feeling tired and drained. But for Alec, it works for him!
Some research shows that lifting when fasting will use more stored muscle glycogen than fat. Meaning that it’s possible it can result in decreased performance and endurance but also burn fat. Another study showed that when fasting resistance trained men were compared with those not fasting, there was a decrease in fat mass.
The research is still inconclusive when it comes to whether extra calorie and fat burn happens when doing easy to moderate levels of fasted cardio, however for endurance athletes, it’s best to eat a bit before intense exercise such as HIIT.
What’s most important is to eat after the workout. The International Society of Sport Nutrition recommends to focus on a healthy source of protein and carbohydrate after a fasted session. If you’re trying to build muscle, it’s important to eat protein and carbohydrates directly after the workout.
One of Alec’s favorite meals is an omelette with just a smidge of chorizo for flavor. Add some whole grain toast and voila! You’re building some serious post workout session muscle.
WHAT ABOUT FASTED CARDIO?
Although it has become a trend, there is no benefit to doing fasted cardio when bulking. Performing cardio in either a fed or fasted state will not change the resulting gains or losses. So it all comes down to personal preference.
HIIT-ing It Harder
Alec intuitively knows that in order to continue seeing results, especially when it comes to weight loss, requires changing up his routine. This is called the F.I.T.T. principle. It stands for frequency, intensity, time, and type. Meaning that in order to see results and prevent a plateau, it’s a must to switch up your routine every few months.
- Frequency: How often you exercise
Intensity: How hard you workout
Time: How long you’re active
Type: The kind of exercise you do
Fitbod has been helpful in this because he recently started getting into high-intensity interval training (HIIT). He doesn’t like to do cardio so he found a way to incorporate it by doing HIIT with weights.
HOW TO HIIT WITH WEIGHTS?
Just how Alec likes his workouts to be quick and powerful, HIIT acts in the same way. It’s a highly effective workout that can be done in a limited time. HIIT is done at a high intensity and strength for brief periods of time, followed by a period of rest or easy recovery.
The intense portion lasts from 15 second to a minute with 20-30 second rest periods. It typically goes for about 5-8 rounds. During the quick bursts, you go as hard as you can, at your 100% effort. This kicks your body into an anaerobic state and makes it rely on alternative energy such as stored glucose and fat.
HIIT can be done with weights, which can help train your body for powerlifting, by doing strength training with cardio in between, doing compound exercise (multiple muscles at a time), or lifting heavier weights.
Read more here! Can HIIT Be Done With Weights? (Yes, There Are 4 Rules)
Fitbod offers newly added HIIT-inspired workout programs! These can be done with your own body weight or with small equipment you may have. The timed interval feature does the counting and guiding for you, to get you a quick, effective workout that will help you burn calories and increase aerobic fitness while preserving muscle mass.
All you’ll need to do is turn on Timed Intervals in your current gym profile, and get sweaty!
Need a workout program? Get 3 free workouts on Fitbod right now.
The Big Picture: Finding Your Favorite Fitness
Alec shares that some days are good and some not so good. Even after mastering the art of powerlifting, Alec struggles from time to time. He explained that just this morning he was struggling to push.
Rather than getting frustrated, he was realistic with himself. He realized that he pushed really hard over the weekend and didn’t deload since his body recovers well. He reminded himself of the importance of listening to his body.
Alec offers advice to anyone new to fitness or searching for something that motivates them:
“If you find something you enjoy, go for it!” He continues half jokingly, “but if you get into powerlifting beware of rough hands for your partner.”