Testosterone before and after

Dead or Alive: Rodger’s Incredible Story

In this article I interviewed Rodger Padgett. Rodger’s is a story of a man who wrestled with addiction and battled significant health problems. These things alone would have defeated lesser men. 

Rodger beat them all and completely turned life around – thanks in no small part to optimal testosterone levels and a great lifestyle to go with it! What’s more, he’s in his mid-60s and has the kind of physique men half his age would kill for it.

Rodger, please tell us a little bit about you and your background?

I was born on December 7th, 1951 in Eugene, Oregon. I was the youngest of twins and one of six boys in my family!  Growing up, I wasn’t athletic. I also wasn’t an athlete in school. And in the last year of high school I developed a drug dependency.

This continued for some years after, and I became dependent on methamphetamines and hallucinogens. Most of that stopped when I joined the U.S. Army in 1972 – except for the meth.  

Solider military

After getting assigned to my first duty station in Fort Hood, Texas, my meth habit came to an abrupt end. But not in the way I intended – I came down with hepatitis B and spent 30 days in ward “W” (a drug and alcohol recovery ward.) 

While I was there, one of my roommates was visited by a friend. It later turned out that this was actually a drug delivery. After his friend left, my roommate went into the toilet and was later found dead.

He had overdosed on heroin.

The visit was unlucky for him, but a major wake up call for me. I was 23 and decided I wanted to live to be 60. If I kept going like that I knew I wouldn’t make it to 24.

I spent the next year in drug and alcohol rehabilitation counseling. During my time in rehab, I learned to substitute healthy habits (running) for bad habits that had been plaguing me (drugs). 

I developed a newfound love for running and tackled it with the same enthusiasm I have with other things in my life. I trained for and ran 5, 10 and 15 km road races. I’ve also run 15 marathons, and clocked 14 of them in under three hours! 

I applied myself with renewed enthusiasm to the physical life in the army. Most soldiers would usually look to get by and meet the minimum physical standards – not me! I could do 100 push ups in 2 minutes, 100 sit-ups in 2 minutes and 1-mile run in less than 7 minutes. In July 2004 I retired after 32 years in the Army and stayed active until 2008. That’s when I began to have health issues.

You are in exceptional shape for your age. What drives you to maintain this level of health & fitness, at an age when most men have given up?

In October 2008 I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I had been suffering from frequent migraines and developed several autoimmune conditions. The worst of which was psoriasis ( a skin condition) over a significant portion of my body.  

The neurologist I was seeing sent me for a CAT scan of my neck to investigate. This resulted in a diagnosis of arthritis in my cervical spine, which explained the migraines. 

They also discovered lumps in my thyroid believed to be cancerous. The doctors moved quickly and I had my thyroid removed on December 23rd, 2008. 

That December marked my slow descent into the physical condition I had ever been in. After surgery energy levels were at an all-time low. I was overeating carbohydrates and quickly became overweight. Over the next four years I put on a whopping of 75 lbs (34 kg).

In October 2011 I was notified that my two oldest brothers went into the same hospital for the same thing, i.e. congestive heart failure, on the same day. A family affair you could say. One of them was overweight and sedentary, the other still had a drug problem. 

At the time I was a sloopy 245 lbs (111 kg) and on a similar path to my brothers. And I knew that if I didn’t do something about it I would share the same fate as them.

Nowadays people try to make health more complicated than it is. They obsess over complex macronutrient calculations and read countless books. At some point though you simply have to take action!

Sometimes, all it takes is a resolve to change and determination to do whatever it takes to see it through. 

Testosterone before and after

Before and after: How Rodger looks today

I began by totally revamping my nutrition and following a low-carb diet. I knew enough to appreciate that insulin resistance is associated with virtually every chronic disease. The idea of the new diet was to address my insulin resistance, balance my blood sugar, and above all lose weight! 

I also started taking metformin, which helps increase insulin sensitivity. Studies also demonstrate that testosterone increases your insulin sensitivity. If there’s one thing you can do for a longer, healthier life, it’s increase your insulin sensitivity!

In other words, the less circulating insulin you have in your bloodstream, the less toxicity you have in your body. 

In addition, I underwent a regular exercise program at the gym that was mostly functional and movement based. I did get to do multiple, multi-hour cardio sessions that year. 

 Over the next seven months I continued to drop body fat and gain lean muscle mass! The more muscle I gained, the better I felt. 

I hired a fitness coach to help me with my goals and it was the best decision I ever made! I would probably be six feet under by the time I figured it out myself. 

Working with a coach eliminated the confusion about what, when and why of nutrition and exercise to achieve the kind of health and body I always desired. 

I learned a lot more than “bro” science. I learned to challenge my muscles rather than lift weights. I also learned more can be accomplished with less damage to tendons and connective tissue. Whereas many people assume you have to beat your body into submission to get results!

What drives me to maintain my fitness now? A few things. First, it would have been a terrible waste of effort to fall back on bad habits. Second, I feel so much better mentally and physically with this lifestyle. Finally, I want to live my best life in the best body I ever had!

Why do you think that most men your age let their health deteriorate?

I think it’s a combination of factors. They’ve accepted they’re getting older and their physical condition has changed. Their responsibilities pile up; family, kids, work, etc, and they become ‘too busy’ to workout. Although in truth, being busy is usually a code word for ‘it’s not a priority.’

Many simply become complacent. They don’t realize they have hormonal issues and it’s wreaking havoc with their health. Instead, put it down to ‘age.’ Why does this happen? Because the never have their hormones checked!

Apart from this, some men are just plain lazy! Workout? That’s too hard! But I get it – the gym is not for everyone. You can achieve a lot simply by changing your diet and walking at a good pace for 30-45 minutes a day!

Can you tell us a little bit about your current lifestyle, training, nutrition and supplementation?

 In August 2018 my total (serum) testosterone plummeted to 45 ng/dL (1.6 nmol/L) – basically non-existent. My estrogen (E2) was even higher at 65 pg/mL. In October of the same year, after wrestling with depression and the myriad symptoms related to low T, I found a local doctor who prescribed me testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). 

It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and I haven’t looked back since! My health transformation didn’t stop there. I also cleaned up my diet. Big time. 

I want to stress that if you do take testosterone, it’s no magic bullet. You still need a solid nutrition plan and lifestyle if you want to live a Fully Optimized Life

Over the past 12 months I’ve experimented with a few different dietary approaches. This included the keto diet and I even went full carnivore for 12 weeks. 

I feel many men over 50. They don’t take up new hobbies or try new things and they lose their zest for life. One day morphs into the next and everything becomes a blur.

Henry David Thoreau summed up best this condition with his famous quote:

"Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and die with their song still inside them."

I think a lot of this malaise and indifference in older age stems from low testosterone.

It’s no secret that men’s testosterone levels drop as they age. After the age of 30, testosterone levels decline by as much as 1% per year!

At 67 I’m as energetic and as driven as I’ve ever been! 

And I know that much of it has to do with hormonal balance and the lifestyle I lead.

I’ve learned over the past few years that like everything else in life, change is what I respond to best. My training routine changes every six to eight weeks based on what my stimulus was the last period and what I think I need next.

What would you say to men in their 50s and 60s who look at you now and want to achieve something similar?

 Most older men are defeated before they start. They have limiting beliefs and think their age means they can’t have great health and a top-notch physique. Nonsense! I am proof positive of this. 

As I said, most people use ‘age’ as an excuse. In truth, they’re scared of the work it takes to get results! 

Getting into great shape, at any age, requires discipline, hard work and sacrifice – it’s nowhere near as much as people are led to believe. 

There seems to be this notion today that success in both health and life are mutually exclusive. That is, if you are going to have great health then you must give up everything else to focus on it. 

I’m here to tell you: 

You can have it all – a successful great, wonderful relationship AND incredible health. 

It simply requires an intelligent approach, much like my own story. 

If you put in the effort into your health – regardless of your age – you will be rewarded with a stronger body (invaluable to me while in recovery) and a longer life!

Final Thoughts

Rodger’s story is incredibly inspiring – not only to his peers but men of any age. It just goes to show, if you want the health and body of your dreams bad enough, then you’ll put in the work to make it happen. 

Now, if you’re an older man and you’re looking to get an edge in life do you need to take testosterone replacement therapy? Not necessarily, most men would do well to fix their poor nutrition and lifestyle habits first. Rather than expect testosterone to fix everything for them.

But if you’re a man over 50 who’s got his health and lifestyle otherwise dialed in? Then it can be a very positive adjunct to your life. However, in my experience these types of men are few and far between. 

The best testosterone booster is a great diet. I hope Rodger’s story inspired you to take action in your life. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

My Shocking Discovery About My Body

You can often look back on your life and trace dramatic changes to a pivotal moment that shook you out of your stupor.

Maybe it was the day your child was born, and you realized you had work to do if you want to become the kind of role model you aspire to be. 

Maybe it was when your girlfriend broke up with you out of the blue. Eventually, you realized that the signs were three for a long time and you simply ignored them.

We all have these lightbulb moments. Mine happened over seven years ago when I asked a friend to take a shirtless progress photo for me. And I got the shock of my life...

At the time I felt like I was in a place. I had a flourishing career in finance in London. I wasn’t exactly the Wolf of Fleet Street, but things were going well.

I was in a loving relationship with the woman of my dreams. She was drop dead gorgeous and I was very happy. So far, so good...

My progress in the gym was modest, but I was content with it. I could deadlift 450 lbs for multiple reps and my squat and bench were decent. 

I trained balls to the wall for years. I didn’t consider it a “workout” unless I was completely wiped, drenched in sweat,  sucking in oxygen through my tired lungs, and close to puking.

(Some bodybuilders would consider that a light workout.)

in hindsight it was perhaps not the most sustainable way to train. Alas, in my mind, the stronger I became, the better I would look. 

And the better I looked, the more confident and attractive I’d feel.

Then, I reasoned, all my problems like anxiety, lack of focus and motivation would disappear. 

At least that’s what I reasoned...

The Bombshell

I had seen my physique in the mirror every day and thought I looked pretty good.

Nevertheless, I hadn’t seen a picture of myself shirtless a while, so I was keen to see how I looked objectively, because as they say – the camera never lies.

On the day of the picture I was buoyant. I’d been training my ass off for months and was excited to see how I looked.

But I wasn’t prepared for this level of honesty...

I had big shoulders and a broad chest, but they were covered by body fat. It’s like big boobs on a fat chick or abs on a skinny kid: They don’t count for much.

Needless to say, my abs were non-existent. I was going for the lean and built look –

The kind of physique that makes it apparent that you lift weights whether you wear a slim fit tee or New York Giants jersey, but, isn’t so much that you look like a caricature of a Marvel character. 

Instead, I had a kind of “Ugg the Caveman” look going on. Years of bench pressing and poor training practices left me with rounded shoulders any self-respecting caveman would be proud of. 

It kinda looked like I lifted. When in reality, I spent four to five days a week pounding the weights. It was a little disheartening to say the least.  They say the camera never lies

So how about the look on my face? That told more than any other part of my anatomy:

I looked unconfident, anxious and almost embarrassed. Although it didn’t dawn on me that I felt that way until I saw the picture. 

In short, I was nowhere near the athletic, confident, go-getter I had imagined myself to be. This photo, which was meant to measure my progress, turned out to be a watershed moment in my life.

Not only did I see I was not in the kind of shape I aspired to. But I also realized but there were other areas of my life that I was glossing over

Once the initial shock wore off, I reflected on my life. I was actually anxious A LOT – almost every day in fact – but I had ignored it because it was so frequent. 

Anxiety had become my new normal. And if I'm totally honest, I felt insecure about myself and the way I looked.

Yet I had stuffed it down and chose to ignore it. Looking back, I realize this had dramatically impacted my personal life. 

I was anxious and reclusive in social gatherings, especially in situations where I didn’t know people.  I was in a stable relationship at the time, but due to my rockbottom confidence, I secretly worried if my girlfriend was looking at other men. 

When I first began lifting in my teens, I assumed that hitting big numbers in the gym would increase my confidence. 

I was reasonably strong, yet I still didn’t feel confident about taking my shirt off while on vacation.

And my libido? I couldn’t remember the last time I had a morning wood. Sex felt more like a chore than the intimate, enjoyable experience it’s supposed to be.

While it depressed me to see how mediocre I looked and felt, it was also a blessing in disguise. It was a wake up call that made me rethink my entire life. 

 A verdict of low testosterone…

The following day I performed a life audit. It was clear that several things needed to change. I completely overhauled my nutrition, training and cut back drastically on drinking. 

So much so, that I gave up drinking for two years altogether (but that’s another story).

I added more vegetables, protein and good fats to my diet – such as olive oil and avocado – and tracked everything that went into my mouth.

And instead of training like a powerlifter, only concerned with how much weight I could lift, I focused on hypertrophy (i.e. building muscle) with higher reps and more volume.

I did a lot of research and it appeared that my anxiety, low confidence and excess body fat all had one thing in common – 

Imbalanced biochemistry.

In other words, my hormones (and probably a host of other biomarkers) were out of whack. I took a blood test and found out it was true...

It revealed I had the testosterone level of an 80 year old man!  I was basically running on empty.

It took more than a year of trial and error to figure out what worked in terms of diet and training, not only to support my fitness goals, but to get my hormones balanced again!

Low carb, no carb, high fat, low fat, booze, no booze, working out two days a week or five…

Trust me, I’ve done it all. 

I felt like a new man

The biggest challenge was figuring out how to balance it all with a demanding and stressful job that required me to work long hours.

While it was difficult figuring out what nutrition, training and lifestyle hacks worked, I’m glad I went through it. 

I battle tested pretty much every diet and training program out there. 

I worked relentlessly to improve my sleep, lower my stress, and essentially, declutter almost every aspect of my life.

Within a few months, I began to feel much more mental clarity. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had quite a bit of brain fog that meant I couldn’t focus. Which meant that my performance at work was mediocre at best.

I had been seeing a therapist for my anxiety. This did help to some extent, but I felt like it was always there in the background, like an elephant in the room. 

But once my body started to feel more balanced, the anxiety began to subside.

For months, my progress in the gym had trickled along at a snail’s pace and I had almost given up hope. Now, my strength went through the roof and I was gaining muscle once more.

The changes in my body composition made me feel much more confident about taking my shirt off. In fact, I even looked for situations where I could do it! 

My sex life, which had virtually dried up, now came roaring back into life and I enjoyed physical intimacy with my girlfriend again – something that was sorely lacking in my life. 

Today, over seven years later, I can say with hand on heart that I feel happy with my health, the way I look, and in particular, how I feel about myself. 

Below is a picture of how I look now most of the year: 

Now, I don’t show this picture to boast or to make you feel bad. It’s simply to show you what’s possible for you, too.

Final Thoughts

I didn't get this way due to good genetics (definitely don’t have those), drugs or anything else – it’s down to that foundational work I did all those years ago.  

So how did I get there?

Truth be told, it's a combination of multiple things:

  • Consistent training – I've not taken time off from the gym EVER
  • Prioritizing sleep – if you don't recover you don't grow, simples!
  • I took my diet seriously – before I used to half-ass my diet and it showed

However, if I could boil it down to one thing I’d say it was down to hormone optimization. 

You see, if you have no testosterone in your tank, you’re not going to get very far. And despite my best efforts, I was going nowhere, all because I had low testosterone.

My progress in the gym had ground to a halt – not because I had maxed out my genetic potential, but because I had zero testosterone to build muscle. 

The anxiety, low libido, and depression weren't personal issues, but were more a consequence of low testosterone. 

Ultimately, this led to me undergoing testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), which helped in many ways. But in hindsight, I realized it was a big, fat mistake.

The exuberance of youth perhaps?

I became a health optimization coach because I realize there's a TON you can do to raise your T levels naturally. Without ever resorting to testosterone. 

That's exactly what I teach my clients to do – through simple lifestyle changes. Click here if to find out more about my coaching and how I help men like you 10X their energy, get deep, restorative sleep and rekindle their love life!

Daniel Kelly bench press

120 Days to Fully Optimized? Yes Please

Over the past few years I’ve coached dozens of men through fatigue, low testosterone, broken sleep, brain fog, weight loss, muscle gain, and even helped one guy discover he had cancer before it could become life-threatening. 

So when it comes to optimizing men’s health, there aren’t many things I haven’t come across. Which is great news for you!

Recently, several guys have asked me what actually happens behind the scenes with my coaching.  

So I decided to share he process I use to take men who struggle to get out of bed in the morning, can’t think straight because of crippling brain fog, and can’t remember the last time they had morning wood to jumping of bed every day, razor sharp mental clarity and tearing their wife’s clothes off.

In the article I'm going to show you exactly how my 120 day Fully Optimized coaching system works. So are you ready to find out what it takes to get Fully Optimized?

“Why 120 days? Doesn’t it take YEARS to get results?”

When I say that I need 120 days to teach you everything you need to know, it often elicits skepticism. And I get it; in fact, that’s what many of my clients used to think.

Yet, they’re shocked to see how quickly they can lose weight (on average 5-7 lbs a month), while destroying limiting beliefs and crushing their workouts.

I help clients achieve mental and physical transformation in two key ways:

- The first is through constant feedback coaching that helps clients rapidly see results in all areas including nutrition, training and their lifestyle. 

- The second is through a comprehensive blood panel that tests over 80 different markers. This allows us to be surgically precise with any nutrition or lifestyle recommendations I make.

Here’s what happens the moment you become a client:

Day 1-14 Immediate results

First off, we’ll perform what I call an “optimization audit.” I’ll ask you to fill out a detailed lifestyle questionnaire so I have a good understanding of your medical history, supplementation and sleep patterns.

I’ll also ask you to keep a food log prior to our on-boarding call, which means I can identify the holes in your diet. This gives me a good idea of your current relationship with food, as well as what habits and behaviors we need to work on. From there, we can formulate a strategy to plug the gaps. 

For most people, diet is the biggest confusion. And at the same time, it’s the most important area of fitness and nutrition – accounting for up to 90% of the results.

Results vs excuses

If you only come away with one thing from my program, it should be a solid grasp of nutrition, and above all, how it relates to you. 

And here's where my approach differs from other coaches. You see, most trainers out there are focused on calorie-counting and workouts. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, these things can work. But in my experience, they still leave money on the table; because they don’t actually know what’s going on inside your body.

For example, doing blood work may help us identify you have an autoimmune thyroid condition (where the body attacks the thyroid gland), meaning we have to make very specific changes to your diet to minimize the condition. 

What’s more, I don’t want you to rely on me forever – I aim to teach my clients. That means instead of ordering you around like a drill sergeant, leaving you confused about what works, you’ll learn how to do it yourself.

Because let’s face it, the internet is a mind fuck when it comes to diet. Carbs or no carbs, broccoli or not, eggs or not, red meat or not, alcohol or no alcohol. The list goes on…

As a busy guy who’s already stressed from work and family matters, you have little time to figure this stuff out, let alone put it into practice! So how do I teach this to clients you ask?

Metabolic Flexibility

I teach nutrition to my clients using a concept known as ‘metabolic flexibility.’ 

Metabolic flexibility can be defined as allowing your body to utilize the best fuel source available (preferably from solid, whole foods) to fuel its energy demand. This is a concept Jay Campbell and I discuss in depth in our book, Living a Fully Optimized Life.

Understand, there is no such thing as the “best diet”, there are only foods that work for you. Period.  Blanket statements about paleo, keto, intermittent fasting or other such nonsense being the best diet don’t take into account your unique biochemistry.

For example, if you’re a busy entrepreneur who works until 10PM every night and you’re stressed out most of the time, then intermittent fasting is probably not the right choice for you. 

Fasting stresses the body (due to calorie restriction), therefore, adding more to someone who is already stressed will be detrimental to their health and performance. 

Metabolic flexibility means I provide clients with a framework within which they can eat, e.g. a specific macro target or certain types of foods based on their requirements, allergies, etc. 

That means if they can only eat two meals a day, we’ll make it work. Or let’s say they’ve had a stressful day at work and have no meals prepared (life happens), I teach them how to make good food choices even when options are limited. 

Essentially, I help them cut through all the confusion and bullshit out there. A good understanding of nutrition, and specifically how it relates to you, is the primary factor behind our success. Subsequently, clients tend to see results within the first few weeks of working together.

Day 14-30: Tweak and optimize

As part of our “optimization audit”, all Fully Optimized clients take a comprehensive blood panel that tests over 80 different health markers.

The main difference between the test I do and a normal lab test is that it has five “functional” ranges that distinguish between optimal and suboptimal. 

Functional blood test overview

This is the kind of detailed information you won’t get from your doctor.

A normal testosterone test

A typical lab report that gives you a reference range of 264-916 ng/dl, but doesn’t tell you anymore than that.

Functional testosterone range

The functional test that my clients take gives you a lot more clarity on your health.

A normal lab test lumps you into one reference range and tells you you’re “normal” – even when you feel anything but.  Testing your blood using a functional lab test is an amazing tool to know exactly what is going on at a cellular level. 

If we have that information, we can be much more specific when designing our nutrition plan. Now, we can still produce top notch bespoke plans without the panel, but it takes some trial and error to get things right.

Whereas testing cuts straight to the chase and shows us any particular health issues that may need support from the nutrition side of things, which we may not see without it.

Blood testing also means we can get people results much quicker because we know exactly what you need from day one.  We’ll continue to tune your nutrition as we go, so you’re able to do all the things you shouldn't’ and still progress…

A glass of wine after a hard day’s work? → Check

Pizza with the family? → Check

Isn’t this bad you ask? Not when you understand the power of Metabolic Flexibility and how to use it.

Day 30-60: Optimized Mindset

We’ll spend an entire month developing your mindset. Your mindset can be defined as your current set of assumptions, thought patterns and beliefs.

Your current thoughts and beliefs are what got you to where you are now. So, it stands to reason that if you want a better outcome, i.e. improved energy and vitality, increased libido, weight loss, etc, then you’ll need to modify many of your existing beliefs.

Staying in top notch shape year round has as much to do with your mindset as it does with how many calories you eat. I’ll show you how to make sure that you stick with your training and diet even when the bullets start flying. 

That means if you have to pull an all nighter at work, spend the weekend with your kids, or it’s your aunt's birthday, you can still have a piece of cake, drink a beer and enjoy yourself WITHOUT sabotaging your results.

And the way you achieve this is through an Optimized Mindset. This will give you an unprecedented level of freedom that will not only help you to make better food choices, but means you’ll always feel confident taking your shirt off, in bed, at the beach, at your-in-laws (OK maybe not..) or whatever.

Day 60-90: Optimized Evening Slumber

You know the feeling you get when you’re well rested and you wake up the next day feeling like a king? That’s what I aim to help my clients achieve every single day.

Many clients have long-standing sleep issues before they come to me, such as difficulty falling asleep (it shouldn’t take you longer than 10 minutes), waking up multiple times a night or feeling groggy in the morning. 

Often, they’ve spent thousands of dollars with “specialists” who can’t find anything wrong. Our bodies know exactly what’s best for us. 

My goal is to help you tap into this innate intelligence and balance your natural circadian rhythm, so that you no longer struggle to fall asleep, wake up every night or feel groggy when you get up each morning. 

We achieve this WITHOUT the need for medication and through sustainable lifestyle changes. 

Day 90-120: Stress less

Pretty much all my clients have one thing in common: A ton of stress. Often because they’re busy professional men who have to juggle their career and family responsibilities, which comes at the expense of their health.

I equip my clients with the tools they need to deal effectively with stress. This may involve teaching them how to meditate properly, journal or simply allocate more time for themselves each day. 

These are simply examples and they may or may not apply to you. This is an individual process, which is why we work together to figure out what’s best for you. 

That means whether you get into an argument over bonuses at work or with your spouse, you can handle it and it doesn’t derail your day, week or month. 

Daniel Kelly de-stressed

I am thoroughly de-stressed in this photo!

Roll with the punches

The framework of my Fully Optimized coaching system is extremely flexible. Which means while everyone has different needs, I’m still able to accommodate them, because the principles of proper nutrition, sleep, and stress management are universal to everyone –

The art form is knowing how to get them to work for you.  And because we’ve done all the heavy lifting upfront with the blood test and optimization audit, we know exactly how to do that for you. 

If you’ve been struggling with low energy, lack of libido and shitty sleep for some time, I imagine you’ve already done some investigation.

You’ve been told you’re “normal” or you’ve been told: “Here take these pills”, which you’re reluctant to do. 

I’m here to tell you that energy and vitality is your birthright and that your age or history don’t have to determine how you feel tomorrow.

Not with any gimmicks or hacks, mind you, but with real food, smart supplementation and subtle tweaks to your lifestyle. 

If any of this resonated with you, you can claim your free 30 minute Health Audit with me. On the call, I’ll share the results my clients have had, diagnose your issues a bit more, and get clear and certain on what it is that you’re stuck with.

Then, I can give you some feedback on how you can actually get to where you want to go.

And if you want to stay up to date with the best health optimization information anywhere on the web, join my Optimized Inner Circle newsletter

Lifting at the gym

4 Fundamental Principles of Resistance Training

These days, people make resistance training far more complicated than it is. They obsess over reps, sets and most of the time spend far too long in the gym.

As a result, the progress of the average trainee is mediocre, so they become frustrated and inconsistent with their training. And sometimes, they give it up altogether. 

But as long as you understand some of the most fundamental principles of resistance training, you will always make progress.

In this article we'll look at four of these principles and how you can apply them to your training. This article is an excerpt taken from a chapter in mine and Jay Campbell's book, Living a Fully Optimized Life.

Principle #1: Training is relative to your age and goals.

This one is very simple. If you’re older than 50, your body will not be able to withstand tissue trauma (from training) the same way a 20 year old can.

Yet so many older men train classic bodybuilding style, four to five days per week, not recognizing their bodies and recovery ability have changed.  

Your recovery is very much dependent on your age. By and large, younger trainees will recover faster than older ones.

If you are an older trainee, you won't to focus on training smart instead of busting your balls every time you go to the gym. I wrote an article on this subject: 16 Weight Training Tips For Men Over 50.

As an older trainee, you should also ensure your cardiovascular efficiency (CE) and heart rate variability (HRV) are consistently being measured over time.

Daniel Kelly weight training

Principle #2:  You MUST maximally contract your muscle fibers while simultaneously removing ego and momentum from every aspect of your training.

This is arguably the most important principle out of the three, so pay close attention!If there is only one thing you take away from this book and apply to your training, let it be this principle

In your pursuit of an amazing physique, what others do in the gym is MEANINGLESS.  Removing EGO from your training will massively benefit you as you age.  You’ll also avoid injury from lifting too much weight to keep up with the Jones’ in the gym.

Never forget: The only REAL reason you should go to a gym is to grow muscle and look better naked.  And, if you don’t know how to properly contract muscle fibers while also training to positive muscular failure (PMF), you’re wasting your time.


Because you’ll never grow muscle and look the same as 90% of the people who go to gyms for 30-40 years and never change the way they look . I can’t be more serious... 

If you don’t know how to maximally contract your muscle fibers by blasting the targeted muscle to complete and total exhaustion, you will NEVER BUILD MUSCLE and ultimately change your physique.

Blasting a muscle to total and complete exhaustion is what we call “positive muscular failure” (PMF).  Better defined, PMF is training a muscle or body part to a point where you cannot lift another rep without help from a spotter or some form of machine assistance.

If anything, training to positive muscle failure teaches you the training intensity required to get real results. We can talk about the best workout program all day long. But the truth is that most people simply do not train hard enough to see results in the gym.

They live a life of comfort, devoid of pain. They have no concept of the brutal intensity and focus necessary to build muscle.

Another thing people tend to overlook when they learn how to contract their muscle fibers is “time under tension” (TUT). TUT is defined as the amount of time under which your muscles are maximally contracting. 

Increased TT adds to the overall volume (work performed) of the workout, ultimately leading to greater training adaptations and results.  Logically speaking, then, wouldn’t you want your muscles to be under as much tension for as long as it took to fully fatigue them?

Of course you would. But most people have no idea what no idea what time under tension is, let alone think about applying it in their training.

Rather than take the time to brutally contract their muscle fibers, they rush through every rep and set in the hope of being able to lift heavier weight through the force of momentum.

The greatest enemy to your progress in the gym is allowing momentum to dictate the flow and speed of your intended muscular contractions.

Think of it this way: If you do not maximally recruit muscle fibers, you are not working the muscle to its fullest extent.  In other words, you are not developing your physique to its maximum capacity. 

And this is precisely what happens when you train with ego and use momentum to jerk the weight around.

One interesting study, “Does Tempo of Resistance Exercise Impact Training Volume”, examined how merely changing the “rhythm” or tempo of each rep (i.e. fast, medium, slow) dramatically impacted how many reps subjects were able to perform, AND the total time spent under tension:

“The results of the study indicated that even a small (few seconds) modification in terms of tempo or cadence of particular movement phases can impact maximal number of performed repetitions, time under tension and, importantly, exercise volume in a set and in the whole training session. 

Movement tempo impacts training volume and, consequently, the level of post-exercise fatigue and adaptation patterns”

Long story short:

Maximal muscle fiber contraction via perfectly controlled reps executed with perfect technique is the secret to building a physique worthy of showing off. 

If you learn how to consistently train in this fashion, you can train the targeted muscle for two sets to complete and total exhaustion. That’s right: When you know what you’re doing, two sets is all you need.

What about novice trainees, though? A novice trainee has minimal neurological efficiency (i.e nervous system adaptation) and minimal muscle mass. By neurological efficiency, we refer to a fully functional central nervous system which has adapted to intense training over time. 

The best way to picture or understand this is when you see a young lifter violently shaking to execute a rep or specific training technique.

Lifting at the gym

If you are a newbie, you must train for at least a year to reach a point where you’ve built an appreciable level of muscle mass and neuromuscular efficiency.

Once a minimum of neuromuscular efficiency is achieved, there’s never a reason to stay in the gym for too long because you already understand how to stimulate maximum fiber recruitment and force production. 

If you follow the instructions in this book, you will be training intensely and maximally contracting your muscle fibers. 

Due to training in this manner, you will have a limited amount of natural growth hormone and muscle glycogen at your disposal to get you through more than 45 minutes (if training alone).

That means no more marathon workouts. They are unnecessary and counterproductive.

If you are truly serious about building a world-class physique and mastering your training, everything we’ve just told you won’t be enough. There are no shortcuts to success. You will need to consistently apply these principles for YEARS, and often decades.

Due to the influence of social media and living in an instant gratification world, many are deluded and believe they can acquire their dream physique in 12 weeks. These expectations are not grounded in reality. 

Philosopher Manly Hall said it best: 

“An unhealthy mind, even in a healthy body, will ultimately destroy health."

In addition, watching training videos online will not get you the body of your dreams. At some point you must get out there and train. Hone and master your craft. Learn from guys who are more experienced than you and work on refining your technique. 

There's a rhythm to all of this, and learning how to train with weights properly is a lot like learning how to dance.  (As an interesting aside, learning how to dance, or playing sports for that matter, is a great way to develop neurological coordination)

For your physique to work as a fully functional unit, you must be neurologically coordinated. The easiest way to summarize all we’ve just said is that you have to seek out a master and learn at their feet. 

Even if it's for a week, or a few days, it is an absolute must. Indeed, I can attest to this. I spent significant time in the past training with Jay Campbell, which dramatically improved his knowledge and shortened his learning curve with regard to training.

Jay himself learned from masters (i.e. pro bodybuilders) like Jim Brown and Markus Reinhardt.

Incidentally, I am a huge fan of Jim Brown's (another mentor of mine) Forged training program. If you're looking to learn how to brutally contract your muscle fibers and train to positive muscle failure, then Forged will show you how. I wrote an article about my experience training the Forged way here

Principle #3: You MUST engage in regular resistance training to build skeletal muscle mass.

Muscle is the single greatest deterrent to the diseases of aging.  Sadly, 95% of people who go to the gym have absolutely no idea how to build muscle. 

They have no real awareness of why they are there to begin with, because they are so focused on following an exact amount of sets and reps for a specific set of exercises. 

Muscle is a lot more than a storage depot for glycogen and an enhancer of bodily aesthetics.

Look at all the amazing things skeletal muscle mass does:

  • Increases insulin sensitivity via lowering blood sugar
  • Anti-inflammatory, strengthening your immune system
  • Significantly improves your odds of survival for dangerous surgeries 
  • Protects against sarcopenia, i.e. muscle wasting that comes with old age
  • Gives you a greater chance of survival against accidents
  • Protects against osteopenia (bone loss) by improving bone mineral density

You must lift weights if you want to live long and prosper. In the same way being lean is essential for far more than vanity, building muscle does far more for your health outside of looking good in the mirror...

Building muscle helps you live a fully optimized life that allows you to age gracefully, while keeping your mind and your body dialed in. It’s important to understand that people who become frail as they get older don’t do so because of age. 

It's because they haven't looked after their body by performing resistance training to maintain muscle mass and bone mineral density (BMD), both of which confer protection against age-related disease. 

Principle #4: You MUST Do Cardiovascular Exercise

Regardless whether you are hormonally optimized or not, you cannot afford to skip cardiovascular training. This is essential for training your organs to process and breakdown the food you eat. 

Regular and consistent cardiovascular training will also help scavenge free radicals found in your body that lead to inflammation and age-related disease. 

Cardiovascular training allows your body to effectively dispose of waste products that build up in your body and metabolize the nutrients you consume. 

Some people process food and macronutrients differently, but regardless of your unique biochemistry, your metabolism will change and slow down as you age. 

By performing regular cardiovascular training, you can offset - to a great degree - the slowdown in metabolism that comes from aging. Cardiovascular training becomes doubly important if you are on injectable therapeutic testosterone. 

As discussed in mine and Jay Campbell's books, injectable testosterone is heavily oxygenated.  Subsequently, your blood often becomes thicker (via a process called erythrocytosis), sometimes resulting in higher hemoglobin and higher hematocrit levels. 

This is a common occurrence, although contrary to what physicians used to believe, therapeutic phlebotomy is not required in most cases.  

The reason why cardio training is so important when you’re on injectable testosterone is because it helps push out the thicker blood and the metabolic and cellular waste produced by training with weights at high intensity. 

If you don’t perform regular cardio training, you’ll likely find yourself feeling winded and tired more often. 

Despite what the bros say on the Internet, weight training alone is NOT a sufficient form of cardiovascular training. So make sure you’re doing cardio on a regular basis! 

Final Thoughts

Your training must be designed relative to your age and goals. Older trainees will not recover at the same rate as younger trainees do from resistance training and cardio.

Learning how to maximally contract your muscle fibers while removing ego and momentum from your training is CRITICAL to forging an amazing physique. As you age, it is also imperative you understand how to manipulate time under tension (TUT).

If you are uncoordinated, unathletic, or devoid of any sport background, it is IMPERATIVE you hire a master teacher to coach you on how to utilize proper form and technique when training with weights. Watching videos on the Internet won’t cut it.

Your primary goal as you age is building muscle to resist the diseases of aging. The more muscle you possess, the better your insulin sensitivity, mitochondrial function, and an improved basal metabolic rate (BMR) while at rest.

Cardiovascular training allows your body to effectively dispose of waste products that build up in your body and metabolize the nutrients you consume. It becomes doubly important if you are on injectable therapeutic testosterone. 

If you enjoyed this chapter excerpt from mine and Jay Campbell's book, Living a Fully Optimized Life, you can get your copy here. 

The Devastating Impact of Obesity

The Devastating Impact of Obesity

One of the biggest disease epidemics facing us today is obesity. And the fact is, it’s only going to get worse. Indeed, the UK government puts the overall cost to society as a whole at £27 billion. 

They project that obesity will cost the NHS (the UK’s National Health Service) an estimated £9.7 billion by 2050. And in America, it’s predicted 51% of the population will be obese by 2030. 

That’s staggering. 

But far more important than the monetary value is the cost of obesity to your health. Obesity negatively impacts your health in a number of ways – 

It’s associated with type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, chronic back pain and multiple strains of cancer. It’s estimated that this leads to more three million deaths annually worldwide [1]. 

Many people, particularly in the fitness industry, tend to take a simplistic view of obesity, so they conclude people are obese because they’re lazy. But things are not so cut and dry.

In this article we’ll explore some of the causes of obesity, it’s impact on your health and ultimately what you can do about it. 

the impact of obesity uk

The Main Causes of Obesity

Before we address some of the health implications of obesity, I think it’s helpful to understand the main causes of it. 

As mentioned, obesity cannot be written off simply as laziness, though it would be wrong to suggest that this isn’t a factor in some cases. It’s in our nature as human beings to take the path of least resistance, and it’s all too easy to deceive ourselves with hogwash such as: “Diet starts Monday!” or “I’ll go to the gym tomorrow!”

A leading cause of the obesity epidemic today is the consumption of processed food - primarily from simple sugars. It’s cheap, convenient and it’s everywhere. In fact, it’s an inescapable fact of modern life. 

If you want to avoid processed food altogether, you need to be diligent in both food shopping and meal preparation. This requires planning and forethought – something most people simply aren’t willing to do. That said, it’s no mean feat given most people are up to their eyeballs in social, family and work obligations. 

Another leading cause of obesity today is sedentary lifestyle, simply because we move much less than we used to. 

Our predecessors worked manual labor jobs, however, modern life means that our bodies are at a near standstill. We drive to work in a car or sit on the train, then we spend all day sat at a desk.

man waistline obesity

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that moving about burns more calories than sitting down. This ultimately leads to less fat accumulation because more energy is expended, instead of being stored as fat. A simplistic explanation? Perhaps, but I suspect if people moved more in their day to day lives, e.g. walking, there would be a lot less obesity. 

A further overlooked aspect that can lead to obesity is the effect of modern life on our emotional and spiritual well-being. While modern living has made our lives more comfortable and convenient, arguably, we’re more stressed and unhappy than ever. 

Research indicates that there is a strong link between obesity and depression [2]. Moreover, when there is no outlet for our emotions, this can lead to emotional (comfort) eating. And the end result here is obesity. One interesting research paper notes the link between spiritual well-being and obesity: 

“Exploratory evaluation on the relationship between emotional eating and spiritual well-being showed that lower levels of spiritual well-being is correlated with higher levels of emotional eating, especially in women. There is some evidence that, emotional eating contributes to impaired nutritional behaviors such as higher caloric intake, binge eating, and bulimic eating desires.” [3]

It comes as no surprise, then, that we have so much depression and obesity in our consumerist society which is almost devoid of spirituality, 

This should give you some idea of the main causes of obesity. Now we’ve examined them, let’s take a look at the impact of obesity on your health. 

Obesity leads to insulin resistance 

One of the greatest health risks posed by obesity is insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas and plays a key role in metabolism. This is often discussed in health and fitness circles; and for good reason – it’s one of the most anabolic hormones in the body. But it’s also a double-edged sword – too much of it can be toxic and harmful to your health. 

After you eat a meal containing carbohydrates, your pancreas releases insulin into the bloodstream. The release of insulin leads to the uptake of glucose from your bloodstream into the cells in your body. 

Insulin resistance occurs when the pancreas secretes more and more insulin to combat high blood glucose levels (typically caused by eating high amounts of sugar). Eventually, your body’s cells become resistant to the effects of insulin and glucose uptake is impaired, and often the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to keep up with the demand. 

Insulin resistance is a big deal because it’s the genesis for many other disease states. Excessive levels of glucose and insulin in the bloodstream alone are toxic to the endothelium (cells that line the interior surface of blood vessels) [4]. As such, it’s an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Moreover, insulin resistance is associated with a string of other conditions, including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and certain strains of cancer [5]. 

Obesity kills your mood

Obesity can have a huge impact on your mental health. Multiple studies demonstrate the link between obesity and depression [6,7]. Though, of course, we don’t need a study to point out that if you don’t like the way your body looks, then you’re going to feel depressed. 

One study reviewed nine separate studies that included over 170,000 participants to investigate the link between obesity and depression. 

The analysis had specific selection criteria and each study was evaluated for methodological quality and risk of bias. The researchers concluded that overweight and obese individuals were 32% more likely to have depression compared to non-obese individuals [8].

The mechanism by which obesity lowers mood and leads to depression is not fully understood, although there are a few points to consider. 

Many of the body’s feel-good chemicals or neurotransmitters, i.e. serotonin and dopamine, are made in the gut. If you eat a diet high in processed food, also known as a “western diet,” this upsets the delicate balance of gut flora (friendly bacteria). This is important because many of the “friendly” bacteria in your stomach help produce serotonin and dopamine [9]. 

Obese individuals may feel more depressed, subsequently they may experience carbohydrate cravings to self-medicate and feel better. These foods deplete the production of serotonin in the stomach, due to the imbalance of gut flora. Serotonin also plays a role in appetite-suppression [10]. Therefore, eating this type of diet constitutes a type of vicious circle for obesity. 

In addition, dopamine plays an important role in what’s known as the brain reward circuit. Pathological overeating is motivated by pleasure and compulsion, and rewarded by dopamine. This is in a similar manner to drug addiction. Indeed, obese individuals show a depletion of dopamine levels similar to those of drug addicts. Although, it’s not entirely clear whether obesity is driven by a dopamine deficiency, or whether this results from compulsive overeating [11]. 

man low mood depressed

Obesity lowers testosterone

Another little understood aspect to obesity is the fact that it lowers testosterone levels in men. Low testosterone is associated with increased fat tissue and reduced lean body mass in men [12] .

Testosterone key to cardiovascular, immune and cognition. It’s also key to sexual desire and feelings of well-being. But not only that, optimal testosterone levels are key to your results in the gym. Testosterone increases strength, lean muscle mass and upregulates muscle protein synthesis [13]. 

Essentially, obesity results in high estrogen levels (estrogen dominance). Estrogen is important for male health, but at high levels it can cause health problems. This is because the aromatase enzyme - responsible for the conversion of testosterone to estrogen - is abundant in adipose (fat) tissue. Therefore, at higher levels of body fat, more testosterone gets converted into estrogen.

High estrogen levels can directly lower testosterone production. So, if you have a high level of body fat, it can have a huge negative impact on testosterone production. High estrogen lowers testosterone through the suppression of gonadotropin hormones - luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). 

These are hormones sent by the brain to the testes that signal it to produce testosterone. Without this signal, the testes will not produce sufficient quantities of testosterone.

Excessive circulating estrogen can damage testicular tissue, thereby lowering testosterone production [14].

As low testosterone is also associated with a reduction in lean muscle mass, this also makes it harder for obese individuals to lose body fat. Similarly, inflammatory hormones from fat tissue reduces muscle function. A reduction in testosterone may also have an effect on your motivation to exercise. 

In addition to the problems that arise from low testosterone and obesity, such as sleep apnea and elevated stress level has led some researchers to call low testosterone and obesity a “self-perpetuating cycle.” [15

If you want to find out to optimize your testosterone levels and get in the shape of your life, check out my book Optimized Under 35.

testosterone and obesity

Source: Mark Ng Tang Fui, Philippe Dupuis, and Mathis Grossmann. “Lowered testosterone in male obesity: mechanisms, morbidity and management.” Asian J Androl. 2014 Mar-Apr; 16(2): 223–231. Doi: 10.4103/1008-682X.122365

Obesity destroys your immune system

At the time of writing, the world is enveloped in the coronavirus crisis. People are frantically searching the Internet for ways they can protect themselves against the virus.

Vitamin C, D and zinc are flying off the shelves, and while these supplements are great additions to fight off infection, they amount to a drop in the ocean if your immune function is compromised through poor health.

Approximately 70% of your immune system is located in your gut. That means maintaining your gut health is essential in your quest for optimal health and well-being. 

Modern life trashes your gut health from process choices, and the damage is further amplified by high sugar and alcohol intake. And excess body fat suppresses your immune system through the release of pro-inflammatory hormones. [16]

What we're seeing right now is not simply a COVID-19 crisis. We're witnessing the effect of chronic stress, lack of sleep and particularly poor diet at scale. 

This makes people much more vulnerable to infection than they otherwise would be.

If you want to reduce your risk of getting an infection, coronavirus or not, you must first look at your gut health, and the most effective way to do that is by cleaning up your diet. 

You can follow a mainstream diet like paleo or the ketogenic diet, or you can follow the principle of 'metabolic flexibility' to figure out the best approach for you. Jay Campbell and I discuss this concept in depth in our book Living a Fully Optimized Life.

Eating real, whole foods from natural sources should be your top priority – not just stocking up your medicine cabinet with vitamins. 

Nutrition is by far and away the most important factor in body composition, nonetheless, you should also be lifting weights if health and longevity are long-term goals. 

Final thoughts

The point of this article is not to make you feel bad, rather, to highlight the impact obesity has on your health. However, if it prompts you to take action, then I’ve done my job properly.

You cannot be complacent about being overweight. It’s a ticking time bomb that will eventually go off, and like a real bomb, the results are devastating. 

I didn’t write any tips or tactics on how to fight obesity and lose weight, because the internet is full of such articles. A quick search on this site will give you plenty to go at. 

Nonetheless, one key aspect to fighting obesity that many overlook is hormonal balance. As mentioned, metabolic syndrome and obesity lower testosterone levels and elevate estrogen.

This means that no matter how much you exercise or diet, you can struggle to lose weight. And you feel like you’re spinning your wheels. 

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of hormonal balance, especially testosterone, in your quest to lose weight. 

Hormonal balance means more energy, motivation and drive to get into shape and pursue your health goals – especially if they’ve taken a back seat for a long time. 

Rome was not built in a day and so it is with your body.

If you've spent years eating badly, you can't simply unfuck yourself in 4 weeks. It won’t take forever, but you must be patient.

That’s why I work with most of my clients for a minimum of six months, because it takes time for your body to catch up with your behavior. 

From here on out you have two options... 

You can go on your next vacation to the Dominican Republic or Costa Rica, feel self-conscious about taking your shirt off on the beach, gain 10 lbs from the trip, and spend the next few months gaining yet more weight and struggle to ever get it off.

Alternatively, you can learn the underlying principles that I teach, which will allow you to strut shirtless around the hotel pool like you own the place, go on vacations and enjoy your time away without worrying about food, and have your wife grabbing your arms and wanting to jump all over you.

If the second option sounds like you, click the button below to find out more about my coaching and schedule a free consultation call with me to see if it might be right for you:

secret to optimal health

The Secret to Optimal Health Pt.2

If you want to know how to go from stressed out of your brain, brain fog and fractured sleep to feeling of calm, boundless mental clarity and deep, refreshing sleep, then read on...

This is the second of a two part series where I reveal my coaching secrets. I'm giving you the inside track on what it takes to optimize someone's health from the inside out. 

You can read the first part here, but to briefly recap:

- My client Nick had been leading a life of sex, drugs and rock and roll as a way of managing the stress of building multiple businesses. So he reached out to me for help

- This lifestyle eventually caught up with him (as it always does) and he reached out to me for help.

- Prior to coaching we did a blood test to identify exactly what his health challenges were.

- The blood test results revealed a host of challenges, including digestive inflammation, liver issues and a possible parasite infection.

In this article I'm going show you exactly what Nick and I worked on to transform his health.

Why I do blood testing before any coaching

tell me why

We both know you like the Backstreet Boys.

Most men can dramatically improve the way they look and feel with nutritional and lifestyle changes, but without a blood test it can be difficult to know what these changes need to be.

Testing a client’s blood is an amazing tool to know exactly what is going on at a cellular level. If we have that information,  we can be much more specific when designing the most appropriate nutrition plan.

It also helps us identify  underlying problems that we may not have otherwise discovered. This is why most of my clients take a blood test before we do any coaching. 

Now, back to Nick's test...

You are what you absorb

Your gut is the gateway to the rest of your body, and it’s where all food must pass through. The gut is the foundation of your health and typically the first issue I address with my clients.

Your microbiome, also known as gut flora, is key to your digestive health. It is the combined genetic material of microorganisms lining your stomach and intestinal walls. The microbiome found in our stomach is delicately balanced and is vital to optimal health.

The gut microbiome is needed to maintain hormonal balance, digestive and central nervous system function. It is only when there is an overgrowth of the microorganisms – or a particular strain that is pathogenic – that problems occur.

Processed food, high sugar consumption, chronic stress and excessive alcohol intake can all lead to microorganism overgrowth and digestive inflammation. 

I imagine you’re familiar with the term, “You are what you eat.” Well, there’s a saying in nutrition that goes, “You are what you absorb.”

That means you can have the best diet in the world, but if your digestive system is inflamed, then you’re unlikely to to break down and absorb nutrients from it. 

For instance, digestive inflammation can lead to low stomach acid. Stomach acid is critical in the breakdown and absorption of food. 

Low stomach acid can also reduce your immunity, making you more susceptible to infections. This is because stomach acid is critical for killing pathogens.

This may also explain why Nick had a parasitic infection.  So, how do you know if your gut is inflamed?

You get stinky farts, brain fog, bloating, gas and trips to the bathroom that result in watery stools/diarrhea. 

To improve his gut health, I encouraged Nick to focus on two main areas:

1. Chewing his food

2. Changing his diet

One of the first questions I ask new clients is: “How do you chew your food?” Often, they tell me they chew quickly. 

Chewing your food properly is critical. Wolfing food down activates the sympathetic nervous system, i.e. 'fight or flight’ response, which leads to poor digestion and absorption of food.

All signs – both from his blood test and how he felt – pointed to Nick being in a highly inflamed state, not only in his digestive tract, but his body as a whole.

Thus one of my main goals in healing his gut was to bring down this systemic inflammation. 

Inflammation and chronic illness

Why is it important to reduce inflammation? Systemic inflammation is the underpinning of virtually all disease states.

That’s why being obese is terrible for your health, as it promotes massive systemic inflammation. 

Typical symptoms of inflammation include waking up in the middle of the night, sore joints, brain fog, fatigue and depression.

The simplest and most effective way to reduce inflammation is through your diet. As the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, famously said:

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

In Nick’s case, this meant focusing primarily on whole foods and eliminating takeout food, soda drinks and sweeteners. 

For example, greasy takeout foods are typically cooked in vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower and grapeseed oil. These oils are full of omega-6 fatty acids, which can result in chronic inflammation and lowered sperm motility.

Soda drinks are sky-high in sugar that can trigger chronic, low-grade inflammation. 

You’re not out of the woods with diet sodas either, as the sweeteners they contain, such as aspartame, are neurotoxins (i.e. harmful to the brain). Your immune system recognizes these artificial sweeteners as foreign invaders and attacks them, resulting in an inflammatory response.

It was also important for Nick to avoid gluten because he showed signs of leaky gut. 

Through a protein known as zonulin, gluten can damage the intestinal lining and open up tiny spaces in it, allowing space for undigested food and bacteria to enter the bloodstream.

the effect of zonulin

Leaky gut can lead to autoimmune conditions such as inflammatory bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease and thyroid Hashimoto’s (a condition where your immune system attacks the thyroid) – as was the case with Nick. 

Holding you accountable

Despite multiple health challenges, the first months of our work together concentrated primarily on diet. 

There’s no point in introducing exotic supplements and lifestyle hacks if you can’t master the basics of nutrition.

This is why people who go on fad diets often gain the weight back. Why? Because they didn’t grasp a basic understanding of calorie intake, food choices, 

If you’re serious about increasing your energy, getting refreshing sleep and boosting your sex drive, I can’t stress how vital it is to be held accountable for your food choices.

Changing your diet is a big deal and can involve a lot of upheaval and stress. Not to mention all the energy you need to expend cultivating new habits and behaviors.

Nick logged his food choices in My Fitness Pal (a food diary app) and I encouraged him to be as honest as possible. This way I could hold him accountable.

Whenever he didn’t make the right choices, it was my job not to scold him, but to help him understand what he could do better next time. That’s how we create sustainable change.

This may involve opting for a salad at a restaurant instead of fries, or preparing more meals in advance.

I don’t expect clients to turn on a dime and change their diet overnight. What we do aim for, though, is small, incremental improvements each week.

The way I achieve this is by encouraging my clients to focus on what they did well, as opposed to the one time they ‘fucked up.’

When you reframe your mistakes as opportunities for growth, instead of beating yourself up, you cultivate a positive mindset. This approach not only helps you make better food choices, but also transfers over to all other areas of your life.

Focusing on the few occasions you messed up can derail you for weeks on end, because you make yet more poor food choices to cope with the guilt and anxiety.

Changing your perspective is as close to magic as it gets –

You see, the more you focus on what you did well, especially when it comes to nutrition, the better you feel about things and the better choices you make.

It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Parasite cleanse

Once I felt confident Nick was sticking to his diet, we tackled his parasite issue. 

White blood cells are the backbone of the immune system and fight off foreeign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. Most people don’t realize, however, that there are different types of white blood cells, each serving a separate purpose. 

Nick had two white blood cell markers – basophils and eosinophils – that were elevated well outside the normal range, indicating a chronic infection/intestinal parasite. 

elevated white blood cells

Parasite infections are more common than you think. If left untreated, they can lead to fatigue, joint pain, brain fog and depression. 

Research also suggests that parasite can affect sex hormone production (i.e., lower testosterone) and dramatically affect sexual behavior. 

And what do parasites do? They feed off their host. 

I’ve had clients who never felt satiated and would eat thousands of calories in one sitting – because something else was stealing the nutrients. But thankfully, after a parasite cleanse, they could eat a meal normally and feel full again.

It’s often important to identify exactly what type of parasite is present. This is because many parasites are extremely resilient and are resistant to specific drugs or treatment protocols.

Thus for Nick we did a stool test, known as a gastrointestinal map, to identify the parasite. Once we figured out what it was, we were able to come up with a specific treatment protocol to get rid of it.

Some people – albeit rarely – have chronic viral infections such as Epstein Barr (glandular fever) and Lyme disease that require a different approach.

But based on Nick’s symptoms and the rest of his blood test, I didn't suspect a viral infection was present.

Mindset matters

It’s hard to convey everything Nick and I worked on together over six months. In fact, it would take me several articles to do so.

Nonetheless, a core component of our coaching was working on Nick’s mindset.

In the first part of this series, I described Nick’s hard-charging, guns blazing personality. This meant that he would go balls to the wall, training five days a week, or go keto and cut out all carbs.

These extremes never resulted in lasting change. In most cases they were counterproductive, because they left him feeling mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted.

Part of my job was to help Nick change his perspective and take a more moderate approach to things.

When driven, hard-charging guys hear the word ‘moderate’, they want to run for the hills. This is because they often think that doing less work is somehow weak or lazy.

Not so.

Doing as little as possible to get the result you want is optimal. If you’re always charging forward and never take time to rest, you will eventually crash and burn – as was the case with Nick.For example, he got annoyed with himself at the start of January because, like everyone else in the holiday season, he ate a lot of sugary treats.

Up until that point, though, he had been extremely consistent and diligent with his diet. Therefore, I encouraged him to relax and not be so hard on himself.

You can’t enjoy the fruits of your labor if you’re always at war with yourself. And after all, a week of holiday food isn’t going to undo months of good work. 

Another thing that I worked on with Nick was helping him simply to relax. You see, when you’re a driven and ambitious person, everything is goal-oriented.

Nick became so preoccupied with the end goal that he’d forgotten to do things for the sake of it. Therefore, I recommended Nick do things without any specific goal in mind. 

Now that doesn’t mean you wander off aimlessly into the wilderness, never to come back. It simply means doing activities without fretting over the outcome.

He went for walks in nature without his phone, took time to read books while savoring barista-style coffee, 

It was hard for him at first to relax and do these things, but after consistently doing them for several weeks, Nick felt much more balanced and relaxed. 

Which is what most of us are searching for anyway, right?

On the surface, these things may not appear to have much to do with ‘health optimization.’ You can have a perfect sleep schedule, ideal diet and world-class exercise routine, but if you’re constantly stressed, then it won’t count for much.

Before and after

After six months of coaching we do a second blood test to compare results.  I was extremely pleased to see Nick’s second set of test results.

To recap, the screenshot here is his first test that shows the main health concerns. 

Nick's blood test results

The report calculates the likelihood of a health concern using an algorithm that considers multiple biomarkers. For instance, it determined that Nick had a 100% probability of intestinal permeability (i.e. leaky gut) due to two separate markers.

leaky gut

The screenshot below are the health concerns from his second test: 

Nick blood test 2

As you can see, the health concerns this time around are dramatically reduced. He still has some gut issues to work on, which we’ll most likely address with supplementation. 

It also looks as though his kidneys are not working in the way that they should be. This is despite the fact he drinks a lot of water (hydration is vital to kidney function), so we need to investigate why this is. 

There’s nothing that truly concerns me in comparison to his previous test, although, his kidneys are still not functioning optimally. 

This is despite drinking plenty of water – which helps flush waste products from the body and support kidney function.

The kidneys perform multiple functions, including filtering out waste products and toxins from the blood, as well as helping maintain blood pressure.  

Therefore, we need to do everything we can to support his kidney function, both with supplementation and lifestyle adjustments.  As I said before, you’re not going to fix all of your health problems overnight. 

The neat thing about these reports is that it allows you to compare your results side by side. So here we have a comparison of Nick’s biomarker from the current and previous blood test.

blood test comparisons

Context is everything and there are  more markers in the optimal range, which means that the trend where we want it, i.e. upward.

Nick has seen the positive effects of coaching, both in personal life and in concrete numbers from the blood test, so he’s decided to work with me for another 12 months, and I'm super excited about it!

Want to find out more about my coaching? Then click the button below to learn more and schedule your FREE coaching consultation with me today.

The secret to optimal health

The Secret to Optimal Health Pt.1

In this blog I'm going to do something I haven't done before. 

I’m going to lift the lid and reveal the exact coaching process I've used to help over 100 clients overcome their debilitating daily fatigue, tanked energy levels, crippling back pain, and the silent killer... sky-high stress levels.

I’ll explain how I helped my client Nick (I’ve changed his name due to the story’s personal nature) overcome digestive issues, parasitic infection, and dangerous liver stress that led to brain fog, wretched sleep and 

Nick reached out to me in July last year. He said he was ready to take the next step in his journey toward optimal health.

Extremely driven, focused and ambitious; Nick freely admits he’s the classic type-A guy. That means he’s highly strung and never does things by halves.

That means five punishing CrossFit workouts a week until his body breaks. It means pulling 80 hour weeks to push his business forward. 

And that also means drug and alcohol-fueled benders for days on end. 

Nick’s innate drive had made him immensely successful. He owns multiple successful businesses, has plenty of cash and has a house in the hills in a scenic part of Texas.

On the brink

The hard-charging nature that made him successful was also a double-edged sword. You see, Nick only ever had one gear in life: Forward. He had no reverse and certainly no neutral. 

Nick had his fair share of stress over the years, and his coping strategies revolved around drugs, alcohol and food. Years of work hard, play harder had taken its toll on Nick’s body and his health was now nothing short of a train wreck. 

stressed man

He knew he had to change his ways or wind up six feet under earlier than anticipated. It’s vital that you learn how to manage stress properly, else you’ll end up paying dearly for it –

Whether it's medication, doctor’s fees, your sense of inner peace, or even your life.

Nick had experimented with elimination diets (i.e. getting rid of specific foods). However, he soon discovered he was out of his depth and that his expertise was in building businesses, not health optimization – hence contacting me.

Given his history of drinking and taking drugs, as well as Hashimoto's diagnosis – an autoimmune disease that is often triggered by poor lifestyle – I recommended a blood panel to see where his health was at. 

Adjusting your expectations

Nick had abandoned his old ways a few months before we spoke. Nevertheless, I explained it could take a year or more to undo the effects of the previous 30 years.

Let’s be real:

Years of booze-heavy nights out 4x per week, late-night pizzas, chronic sleep deprivation, skipping workouts for literally anything else, and unmanaged stress from family and career will wreak havoc with your body. 

I’m all for the occasional beer and pizza. But when these things become defining pillars of your lifestyle, your body and mind starts to become a product of these choices.

Fixing that is not an overnight job; both in terms of healing your body and developing the right habits and behaviors to prevent it happening again. I cannot ethically or honestly say you’ll turn things around in the next few weeks. It simply doesn’t work like that. 

I don’t want you to feel hopeless though. What’s important to understand is while it may have taken you 10-20 years to end up where you are now, it WON’T take you 10-20 years to get to where you want.

In fact, I’d say the average “turnaround time” for my clients is around six months.  With anything like this it’s vital that your expectations are grounded in reality. But, if you’re patient and committed, you will see the results you’re hoping for.

Normal vs optimal

Out of 101 markers of Nick’s test blood test, 55 were optimal. 

Nick's blood test optimal range

Nobody is going to be 100% optimal, especially in today’s world of toxins and pollution, but typically I’d like to see around 70/100 optimal markers.

A normal doctor’s test doesn’t distinguish between normal and optimal.  Which is why people visit the doctor with symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog and depression, only to get the results back and be told everything’s ‘normal.’

A classic example is the testosterone reference range. The ‘normal’ reference range for most testosterone tests is between 300-1000 ng/dL. Yet the difference between how you feel at 300 and 1000 is night and day. 

You can be 40 years old and have 301 ng/dL of total testosterone and feel like shit, but as far as medicine is concerned, you’re ‘normal!' This is precisely why the functional blood tests that I offer my clients have much narrower ranges:

testosterone reference range

His test results...

The first thing that jumped out from his blood test was his poor glucose metabolism. Despite fasting for over 12 hours, his blood sugar and insulin levels were still high. 

Insulin is a hormone secreted by your pancreas and regulates blood sugar levels in your body. If it’s still high after an overnight fast, that means your body is struggling to deal with the sugar.

Elevated blood sugar is not a good look.

Picture what happens when you throw a lit match on a pool of gasoline – it ignites and eventually results in a blazing inferno.

In this case, elevated blood sugar is the matchstick and chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease are gasoline. Consequently, blood sugar is one of the first areas I address when working with clients.

Another concern was his liver. Despite giving up alcohol months prior, he showed early signs of fatty liver disease; a condition where fat builds up in the liver.

A primary function of the liver is to filter toxins from your bloodstream. Harmful substances build up in your body if the liver can’t do its job.

If your liver doesn’t work, you’re basically signing your own death warrant.  Below is an image that explains the role of the liver.

liver detoxification pathways

You may not care about yourself, but if you continue to avoid your health challenges, then it’s your wife and children who ultimately pay the price.  They won’t have a father to support them while they grow up and your spouse will have to bring them up alone.

Back to Nick... 

His test also showed signs of leaky gut and digestive inflammation.

Leaky gut syndrome means that food gets through the lining of the gut (which is normally sealed), leading to infections and all sorts of nasty problems.

Incidentally, having a leaky gut makes you much more prone to infection, as your immune system is already busy fighting off bacteria that gets through the tiny holes in your small intestine. This is vital to understand, especially during the coronavirus crisis – your gut health plays a crucial role in your immune function.

Inflammation in the gut can come from a number of things, but in most people these stem from poor diet, alcohol and stress.  This is where context is important and we'll get to this in a moment.

Earlier, I mentioned that Nick had thyroid Hashimoto's – an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the thyroid, resulting in low thyroid function. 

 Nick was already taking medication to manage his thyroid. However, the report indicated that his thyroid antibodies, also known as thyroid peroxidase, (a marker your doctor will probably not test for) were still extremely high.

This meant that his diet and lifestyle were contributing to poor thyroid function, despite being on medication.

thyroid antibodies

If you're curious to understand what Hashimoto's (i.e. an under active thyroid or hypothyroidism) looks like, then take a look at the chart below.

Hashimoto's autoimmune

Hashimoto's or hypothyroidism is surprisingly common. If you feel sluggish throughout the day and everything feels like a struggle, it may be worth investigating your thyroid function.

Although it must be noted, as I'll discuss in this article, that nothing happens in isolation. In other words, a poorly functioning thyroid doesn't happen by itself. It's often the result of poor gut health,  leading to malabsorption and lack of nutrients, which has a downstream negative impact on thyroid function.

For example, I see zinc deficiency an awful lot in my clients' blood tests. This either because they're not getting enough in their diet or they're simply not absorbing it because their gut health is compromised – maybe both.

Context is king

A blood test alone won’t tell you jack unless you understand someone’s lifestyle and medical history. 

It’s like evaluating a business from its profit and loss statement alone – without knowing anything about the business; it’s management, operations, marketing strategy, etc.

I knew Nick had given up alcohol, thus I could rule this out and our coaching would focus mainly on nutrition and stress management. 

The report also indicated a potential parasite infection.  People can get parasite infections in a number of ways – from food poisoning, to drinking contaminated water, to insect bites while on vacation. 

If you don’t deal with a parasite, it can linger, leading to brain fog, water stools / diarrhea, fatigue and even anxiety.

Final thoughts

There were a number of things we needed to work on. Nonetheless, as a coach it’s imperative to prioritize. 

Imagine you’ve been tasked with turning around a failing business that’s hemorrhaging money. After careful analysis you realize there’s much work to do.

You identify that the management has become complacent, and many of them are stuck in their ways. So you decide to hire hungry managers to get the business back on track.

Still, you recognize the business won’t stop losing money overnight. It will take time for the new management to get up speed and do their jobs effectively.

It’s exactly the same when making lifestyle changes that will improve your health.

Now, I’m the first to admit that not everything works straight away, such as changes in diet or specific supplements. So, part of my job as a coach is to adapt and change tact when things don’t always work. And I wouldn't be able to do it with a guns blazing approach.

This is why the minimum turnaround time for my clients is six months, as it takes time to improve crucial health markers such as liver, hormone and kidneys, as well as ingrained habits and behaviors.

The immediate priorities for Nick were a) his diet and b) improving his gut health. 

Getting these fixed will potentially add decades to his life by taking stress off his vital organs. So, if you're looking for a good anti-aging strategy, then your first port of call should be lifestyle change.

Below is a screenshot from the report so you get an idea of the work needed. The report gives us an idea of the main health concerns that you face. 

Anything above 50% is something we need to look at. As you can see from this screenshot, Nick has a lot of issues going on. In the next part in this series, we'll compare his first and second test side by side.

Nick's blood test results

Check out the second part of this series where  I reveal the coaching strategy we used. I’ll also share the results of his blood panel after six months of working together.

If you can relate to Nick's story and are keen to find out how my coaching might be able to help you, then click the button below to schedule your FREE "Fountain of Youth" coaching call.

abdominal pain test

A Simple Test Could Save Your Life

Close your eyes and imagine your doctor entering the room with a grim look. That’s what happened when Daren got a cancer diagnosis last year.

A construction manager in his mid-50s, Daren had been struggling short-term memory loss, brain fog, lack of focus and stomach cramps. 

Daren had recently had a long vacation in Cyprus, which gave plenty of time to reflect. He decided he finally wanted to do something about his health that had dogged him for years.

At his wits end

The brain fog, lack of focus and poor memory were negatively impacting Daren’s life. No matter how much he tried, he couldn’t concentrate on tasks for more than 10 minutes at a time.

Whenever he had a conversation it was like his mind was in a distant land far away. And now his boss was breathing down his neck at work.

In addition, his stomach cramps meant he sometimes couldn’t eat for days on end. He became increasingly anxious about eating in case his body rejected the food, leaving him in agony. 

Eating big meals, especially ones with carbohydrates, were an ordeal for him. After eating a meal with potatoes or rice he would feel puffy, bloated and wanted to take a nap.

His stools were watery and bowel movements were erratic, often resulting in multiple trips a day to the bathroom. 

The combination of bowel issues and poor reaction to carbohydrates led me to suspect a parasite infection.

I had even more reason to believe this was the case when he said he hadn’t “felt right” ever since a trip to Cambodia two years ago. Traveling to exotic locations increases the likelihood of developing an infection.

Daren had exhausted every avenue prior to contacting me. His doctors told him, despite his obvious symptoms, that everything was ‘normal’ according to his blood tests. 

This is because nowadays doctors treat patients on lab numbers, rather than taking their symptoms into account – which is the most important factor after all. 

Stressed man

What’s happening inside your body?

I suggested that we run a blood test before we talked about coaching.

Now for most people, a blood test is something your doctor orders when he suspects something’s wrong. 

But, blood testing is not something you only do when things go wrong. In fact, it’s an incredible preventative tool that helps us identify things before they become serious problems. 

Taking a test is not for everyone and there's a lot you can do with lifestyle and nutritional changes alone. 

Nevertheless, blood tests provide much more data to work with so we can be very precise in the nutrition and lifestyle changes that we do make.

Blood testing is also an incredible tool that identifies problems before they become serious.

I’m a big believer in the old adage: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Now Daren had taken blood tests in the past, however, I explained to him that typical lab tests are very basic. Each marker they test (e.g. testosterone) has only one reference range that doesn't distinguish between ‘normal’ and ‘optimal.’

The “Normal Range” is found through purely statistical means; it has absolutely nothing to do with health and happiness. —Dr. John Crisler

The blood test my clients do is not any old test, mind you. It’s an 80 page report that tests over 100 biomarkers and gives us a staggering amount of information on your health. 

And instead of one reference range, like run of the mill lab tests, there’s five reference ranges. This way you have a much more accurate picture of your overall health. 

We got Daren’s results back and it was clear there was significant work to do.

Blood test cancer overview

His hormones were imbalanced and his adrenals were shot to pieces, which came as no surprise given his job was stressful.

Adrenal fatigue can contribute to brain fog, low energy and mood swings, and Daren was struggling with all of these.

He was also exercising too much, especially for a man in his 50s, which contributed to his adrenal fatigue. 

If you’re a man in his 50s, I recommend ditching the marathon workouts. 

Many older men train classic bodybuilding style, four to five days per week, not recognizing their bodies and recovery ability have changed.  

Most training these days plans are designed for guys in their 20s. In your 50s your recovery ability has slowed down a fair bit, so training less is more productive for you.

(I’ve put together a list of weight training tips for men in their 50s here)

As suspected, the report also indicated a high probability of parasitic infection. This gave me the green light to come up with a protocol to get rid of it. 

The report also indicated that Daren had a high likelihood of prostate dysfunction (i.e.  benign prostate hypertrophy or BPH). Therefore, I recommended he visit his local GP to get his prostate checked. This is something you should do every year if you’re over 40.

Not the result he expected

Daren went to visit his GP for a prostate check. Basically, this is where they poke a finger up your backside to check the health of your prostate.

The doctor examined his prostate and discovered that it was hard and enlarged, as opposed to small and soft. 

The doctor was worried, so he ordered further tests, which included an MRI scan. It took a few weeks for the test results to arrive and they revealed shocking news:

Daren had stage 2A rectal cancer – specifically, squamous cell cancer.

When he got the result he was in a state of disbelief and it took him several days to process it.

He is currently undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment. According to the oncologist, the treatment plan has an 80% success rate. 

The downside, of course, is that chemotherapy and radiation therapy is extremely taxing on the body. 

The focus of our work together went from optimizing his health, to supporting his cancer treatment. 

In the video below Daren talks about his experience working with me and how it saved his life, and how he's actually better than before the diagnosis.

Final thoughts

You may have a hunch about what’s causing your brain fog, fatigue and low sex drive, but you won’t know until you take a blood test.

What you’ll find in most cases won’t be life-threatening. However, the chances of something being life-threatening are greater if you’re under-nourished, fatigued and stressed out.

And just because it’s not cancer doesn’t mean it’s not life-threatening. For example, obesity and diabetes won’t kill you straight away, but they’re just as deadly.

A blood test allows us to create a coaching plan with laser precision, because we have a clear idea of exactly what you need. 

And not only that, it can save your life. 

I hate to imagine what would have happened if Daren didn’t take the test. By the time his symptoms became obvious, it may have already been too late. 

If you're ready to escape the quagmire of perpetual exhaustion, head-steaming stress levels, a sex drive running on fumes, and potentially add decades to your life, a blood test may be right for you.

Find out more about blood testing:

Click here to schedule your FREE “Fountain of Youth” Kickstarter call with me


5 Things Nobody Told You About Weight Training

Most people who go to the gym simply have no idea what they’re doing. They are half-hearted in their efforts, and they train aimlessly without any real purpose.

I think the main reason this happens is due to lack of education. 

They’ve never taken the time to truly understand weight training and how to actually get results from their time in the gym.

In truth, long-term success in the health and fitness game comes from sticking to tried and tested principles. Now, in over a decade of training consistently, I can tell you that there’s a lot more to it than this article.

However, what I’m going to share with you are five principles that are going to stand you in good stead. And if you apply what you learn here, you will be way ahead of 99% of people who train.

1. Focus on muscle fiber contractions

When you go to the average gym and take a look around, most guys are focused entirely on moving weights from A to B.

This is fine if you want to be a powerlifter and simply get numbers on the bar. However, if you want to build quality muscle mass you need to focus on muscle contractions.

Muscle contraction means squeezing the muscle in every exercise.

For example, at the bottom portion of a lat pulldown, you would pause and really aim to squeeze your lats. As opposed to mindlessly lifting the weight up and down as most do.

In addition to squeezing at the top of every contraction, you want to slow down the eccentric (negative) portion of the lift. This is the lowering part of the lift.

Aim to lower the weight for 2-3 seconds on every lift and watch the difference it makes to your physique. Indeed, research shows that the negative part of the lift is the one that leads to the most gains.

Jay Campbell and I elaborate much further on this topic in our new book: Living a Fully Optimized Life.

Living a Fully Optimized Life

2. You need to build a strength base

Another thing that came up in our conversation was the importance of building a base.

That means building a solid foundation of strength. In the beginning, the best way to do this is through big compound movements like squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, bench press, military press and bent over rows.

These movements serve a few purposes. They help you develop neuromuscular co-ordination – which is key to the mind-muscle connection. They also give you the best bang for your buck and help you pack on plenty of size and strength.

Rookie trainees have no business doing isolation exercises, or should at least do them in small doses.

Don’t go chasing numbers that you read about on the Internet. Your strength is relative to your own bodyweight.

But in terms of simple numbers, the following numbers a good benchmark for building a strength base:

– 1.5 x bodyweight squat
– 2 x bodyweight deadlift
– 1 x bodyweight bench press
– 0.75 x bodyweight military press

Now, do you have to achieve all these? Not necessarily. It may hurt your knees or back to squat, and if this is the case you should follow the tried and tested maxim:

If it hurts, don’t do it. 

However, where possible you should aim to at least achieve these numbers in three areas.

Hitting these numbers will give you a solid strength foundation that you can take into a muscle building phase. The ability to lift more weight for a greater number of repetitions is ultimately going to translate to improved muscularity. 

It might take a while to build this base. But it’s worth it and will dramatically improve your body composition.

Daniel Kelly Bench Press

3. Machines are your friend

I used to scorn machines thinking they were for pussies and free weights were for the ‘real men.’ That was until one day I had a lightbulb moment after watching a video of a professional bodybuilder.

He said that you would be laughed out of the gym if you told him machines were for pussies.

My original training philosophy was simple:

Lift free weights, do compound exercises and you’re guaranteed a great physique!  In reality, building a physique to be proud of takes a lot more thought.

Machines allow you to maintain constant time under tension.

For example, when you do regular chest flys, the tension is removed at the top of the movement. Whereas machine flys keep your pecs under constant tension throughout the range of motion.

Ultimately, more time under tension results in more overall volume and workload, leading to greater adaptations. 

Machines allow you to target muscles from multiple angles. As a result, you can develop your muscles in a way that is simply not possible with free weights.

What’s more, and this is often overlooked, they are also kind on your joints and reduce the possibility of injury. This is especially true if you’re a man in his 40s or 50s.

Machines are extremely safe and dramatically lower the risk of injury. This is huge. How many people do you know who get injured using free weights? Many I suspect, but by comparison, relatively few injure themselves with machines.

Now this not necessarily an argument to say one form is better than the other. It’s simply to point out there are benefits of using both machines and free weights in your routine.

4. You can’t out train a bad diet

This one had stood the test of time:

You can’t out train a bad diet.

If you want maximum results in the gym, it’s in your best interests to eat like it. Indeed, I would go as far to say that nutrition is up to 80% of the game. 

The food you put in your body determines your energy levels, your performance in the gym and the way you look. 

I used to think I could train my balls off and get great results. I did get stronger and bigger. But in all honesty, I didn’t look all that good – I looked soft. 

One day I looked in the mirror and decided that I wanted more from all my hard work and effort. Why train balls to the wall only to look OK?

I knew I had to take my nutrition seriously. Ever since then, my results in the gym have taken off. 

You can train all you want, but if you don’t have the diet to support it, you’re leaving money on the table.

Why waste your precious time and energy?

Healthy meal

5. Most guys who juice have it the wrong way around

In my book, Optimized Under 35, I have an entire chapter on anabolic steroid abuse in men.

Suffice to say, it’s full-blown epidemic, and yet hardly anyone recognizes it.

Men are taking steroids in their droves; often in massive quantities. All in the pursuit of muscle gain. But this comes at an extraordinary cost to their health.

However, many of them don’t seem to care.

I don’t know exactly what convinces men that they need to resort to gear to make progress in the gym. I suspect it’s a combination of social media and misguided expectations.

But truth be told, with a solid work ethic, proper nutrition and a testosterone-friendly lifestyle, you can build a QUALITY physique.

Totally natural. No gear required.

If you’re an older trainee, testosterone replacement therapy may be necessary to restore your hormones to an optimal level. But even then, most men would do well simply to improve their nutrition and lifestyle habits.

This is what my 1-on-1 coaching specializes in. 

Anabolic steroids aren’t going somehow shortcut their success, despite what the bros say on the Internet. If you don’t already have the proper foundation of work ethic, nutrition and lifestyle in place, taking steroids will do nothing for you.


3 Pillars of Fitness & Nutrition For Optimal Body Composition

It SUCKS when you put so much effort into a calorie-restricted diet, training multiple days a week, and educating yourself.

But in the end, you only lose a pound of two, then pile the weight back because the diet was completely unsustainable and made you miserable. 

For the lucky guys out there, fitness and nutrition is a piece of cake (pardon the pun). Hell, they don’t even need to diet – they seem to be able to eat anything they want and stay lean.

That was never the case for me. I was not blessed with ‘top tier’ genetics, and if you’re reading this I suspect this may be the case for you, too. All the changes I’ve ever made to my fitness have been earned through good old-fashioned hard work.

For the majority of men, many traditional weight loss strategies simply don’t work:

  • Crash-diets
  • Cutting entire food groups out (i.e. bread, dairy, etc.)
  • Training multiple days a week in an attempt to lose weight quickly
  • Buying tons of supplements

You feel miserable because you’re trying to starve yourself into submission. You end up binge eating because you’re hungry all the time. Then you beat yourself up due to your inability to lose weight, despite trying your hardest. It’s a vicious cycle and doomed from the start. 

The Problem With Calorie Counting and Restrictive Diets

Massively restricting your calories might seem like a good way to lose body fat. After all, eat less calories you’ll burn fat right Wrong.  If anything, you don’t eat enough. This is especially true if you train hard. Don’t forget, nutrition is vital for recovery!

This is a huge mistake that so many guys make. 

The biggest problem with slashing your calorie intake is this. When you lower your calories too much you create monstrous cravings, which you can only stave off for so long.  Guess what happens next. BINGING!

The cravings become insatiable too, so you resort to binging just to feel normal again, because you’re sick of feeling tired and depressed all the time. The transient high from the junk food gives you your dopamine fix. However, the processed foods lead to an insulin surge, which crashes your blood sugar and leads to an inevitable energy slump. So you binge once again to feel good. 

It’s possible to gain 2 to 3 pounds of fat from just one day of binge eating. Dramatic crash-diets may help you lose weight in the short-term. But in the end, you always put the weight back on

All of these things are common in men trying to lose weight, but they’re not the right way to go about fighting that stubborn fat.

The Internet can be confusing place and it’s hard to know what to believe with so many conflicting opinions. In a moment, I’ll share with you my three pillars of fitness & nutrition that will help you cut through the confusion. They will finally help you lose that stubborn body fat, drop weight, and get into the shape of your life.

Now, my methods might a bit different. But I promise you, they’re backed by science. It’s just that they don’t make the mainstream as they’re not designed to make you part with any cash. And best of all, they can all be done completely FREE. Plus, you can take action on them as soon as you finish reading this article.

1. Eat Plenty of Protein

In my experience, men who try to lose weight and get their dream body don’t eat anywhere near enough protein. As a general rule, you want to eat 1g of protein per pound of lean body mass.

For example, let’s say you weigh 230 lbs at roughly 25% body fat. From here, you subtract your body fat percentage, i.e. 25% (34lbs) from your total weight – 230lbs (230-34). So this gives you a lean body mass of around 196lbs. The aim to get this amount of protein in every day. Although, I would aim to overshoot it a little, say 200-210g of daily protein, to ensure you hit it. 

The is because not all proteins are made equal. 

NOTE: If you’ve never measured your body fat before, I recommend getting a DEXA scan or bod pod done. These are the most reliable and accurate ways to measure it.

It’s easy to lie to yourself about how you look in the mirror, but it’s not strictly necessary. You can get a good idea if you compare your body with the pictures below. 

male body fat

Your body requires protein to build and repair tissue. It’s the building block of bones, muscle, skin and blood. It also helps boost your metabolism, lower your appetite and activate key weight-regulating hormones.

Therefore, its importance in the context of losing weight and gaining muscle cannot be understated. Science backs this up. One randomized controlled study compared the effect of a high protein diet versus a standard protein diet on 105 adults with an average age of 47. [1]

Participants underwent a calorie-restricted diet of 500 cals under maintenance, and had a protein intake of either 1.34g/kg bodyweight or 0.8g/kg bodyweight for 6 months. Participants in the high protein group lost significantly more weight than those in the standard protein group.

2. Resistance Training

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of resistance training to your fat loss and physique goals. I say ‘resistance training,’ because ultimately you can build a muscular physique whether you lift weights or only use your bodyweight. Muscle has a higher metabolic rate than fat, so having more muscle increases your resting metabolic rate (energy expenditure) compared to having more body fat. 

Effectively, this means you burn more calories at rest. Sounds like a good deal to me. Not convinced? Take a look at the dramatic different in physique between endurance runners and sprinters. I know who I’d rather look like…

runner vs sprinter

Now, you may be thinking, “I don’t want to look like sprinter or a bodybuilder!!” Look. if simply lifting weights made you look like this, everyone would look like a bodybuilder. The fact is, most guys who go to the gym DO NOT look like this. So clearly, there’s a more to it.  

The bottom line is this:

Better fitness = a better life. And more muscle mass will make you look and feel better, and burn more calories at rest. Nevertheless, there is one point I want to stress. When you lift weights you must train with INTENSITY. That means you need to have a plan when you go to the gym and execute it. 

Most people simply go through the motions when they go to the gym. They make up their workout on the spot, drift aimlessly from one exercise to the next, and train with the same intensity as a slug in a puddle. Then they wonder why they don’t lose weight and look the same year after year. 

Another point to note here is that you can have the best training program in the world. However, if you don’t have the right nutrition to support your goals, you will be spinning your wheels. Indeed, I say to my clients that nutrition is 90% of the game. Understand that your efforts in the gym will be wasted until you make your nutrition a priority. 

3. Hormonal Balance

Hormones are the backbone of your health. As a man, testosterone is the most important of all. Testosterone supports muscle mass, fat loss, cognition, libido and well-being. In addition, it contributes to proper immune system and cardiovascular health.

testosterone male body
In contrast, low testosterone leads to a number of debilitating symptoms, including brain fog, increased fat gain, low energy and low libido.

The mental fog and depression from low testosterone alone is crushing. But equally as important is that low testosterone will wreck your results in the gym. As mentioned, testosterone supports lean muscle mass and fat loss. Subsequently, if you have low testosterone, much of your effort in the gym will be in vain. 

I discovered this for myself a few years ago. I was training hard in the gym. In fact, I was squatting and deadlifting up to three times a week! But I never got any results. That was until I took a blood test; only to find out I had the testosterone level of an 80 YEAR OLD MAN! No wonder I wasn’t getting any results from my blood, sweat and tears in the gym…

Ultimately, this involved getting further blood tests and undergoing testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). But you don’t necessarily need to go on TRT to boost testosterone.

Indeed, I recommend that most men invest their time improving their lifestyle and nutrition to improve their hormonal profile. As opposed to looking at TRT as some kind of quick fix. Nonetheless, there is a chance you could have low testosterone, and not even realize it – as was the case with me. 

If you’re overweight, your chances are even higher. Excess estrogen from high levels of body fat (adipose tissue) results in the degeneration of testicular tissue, which lowers testosterone production. The subsequent low testosterone leads to loss of lean muscle mass. This makes it harder to exercise and saps your motivation! 

It’s like a double whammy to your testosterone. No wonder you feel drained and don’t want to get off the couch!

One study of over 1500 American men aged 45 – 79 years measured testosterone levels from 1987-2004. The researchers found that on average, testosterone levels declined by 1% a year. This means that testosterone levels have by 20% over the past few decades. [2] This has dramatic ramifications for men’s health and society as a whole. 

This study was a few years ago now. We can only imagine how low men’s testosterone levels are now…And I’ve elaborated on this in detail in my book, Optimized Under 35. Suffice to say, the combination of toxic endocrine disrupting chemicals in our environment, combined with poor dietary habits have created the perfect storm for hormonal imbalance.

So what leads to low testosteroneThere are many things that lead to low testosterone. In addition to the aspects mentioned above, sleep deprivation and chronic stress also have a major influence. Indeed, modern life is characterized by lack of sleep and stress.

Nowadays, most people don’t sleep anywhere near enough. Chronic sleep deprivation is associated with low testosterone and obesity.  If you can improve your sleep quality, you can dramatically boost your testosterone and drop fat in the process! No supplement on earth can match a good night’s sleep!

Once I started using these simple, but massively overlooked methods with my own life, the results were staggering. When I suffered with low testosterone, I felt like a shadow of a man. I was anxious, depressed, had low self-esteem and constantly battled with low energy. But after undergoing testosterone replacement therapy, I felt like I had finally gotten my life back.

I felt stronger and more energetic. My efforts in the gym were finally rewarded, and I gained over 10 lbs of lean muscle mass within a year! Which goes to show what happens when your hormones are balanced. And not only was my sex drive vastly improved, but I felt much more confident and driven to succeed. Talk about a turn around! 

Final Thoughts

It’s sad that so many men give up on their health & fitness goals because they conclude that dieting doesn’t work. Or they slave away for hours on end at the gym. Only to get no results from it. This is both demoralizing and would be enough to dishearten anyway. Nevertheless, I hope that after reading this article you understand that to achieve your fitness goals, you need to have the right approach. That is, you need to incorporate these fundamental pillars of fitness & nutrition.

One takeaway I want you to get from this article is this.

Leading an enjoyable life and being in supreme physical condition are not mutually exclusive. Yet so many people believe this dogma. They think that being in shape requires living an extreme monk-like lifestyle.

That means you can’t go out to eat with friends, go to barbecues, have a casual drink with your partner, or celebrate birthdays. Sounds like a boring life. The whole purpose of living a healthy lifestyle is to lead a high quality life – it shouldn’t detract from your life.

If this is the case, you’re doing it wrong. 

By following these pillars of fitness & nutrition that I’ve laid out in this article, you will see dramatic results. This alone should give you enough to get going. But if you feel like you need something more personalized to you, you can find out more about my online coaching below: