Jun. 29, 2012
Ripped In 14 Weeks! Interview with Dan Osman
1. How long have you been training for and what is your background?
Growing up I wasn’t very sporty or athletic and as a teenager, I was never comfortable with my shirt off and in all honesty carried a little too much puppy fat with the low self-esteem, and confidence that went with it. Somewhere between 16 and 17 I discovered weight training, which brought a new self-confidence, and the rest as they say is history. After a spell of developing a passion for health and fitness I was introduced to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and Muay Thai – I was hooked!
I can proudly say that the old school methods of training are still alive and well today and with reference to BJJ and MMA – Sink or swim! Being constantly paired with, and quite frankly manhandled by stronger, heavier and more experienced guys made me long to be stronger, faster and more powerful to keep up with them, which is where my passion for strength and conditioning evolved. After college I continued to pursue my interests at University. During my time at University I committed to work voluntarily with the senior strength and conditioning coaches there, trying to pick up as much experience and possible whilst working a part-time job as a health and fitness coach and personal trainer.
After the completion of my degree, I originally had an MSc planned but a rare opportunity to work for Saracens Rugby Club came up, working alongside the strength and conditioning team and the senior squad. This was a fantastic experience and I really enjoyed my time there, with all the associated perks you would expect, from GPS fitness testing the team, free kit, exposure to highly qualified sports medicine professionals, match day tickets, etc., to the less than glamorous jobs! Osmolality testing anyone?? To everyone else that’s testing a player’s urine for hydration levels – The running joke would be who could get the most urine ON, not IN, the glass container! If nothing else, in the time I spent at the Saracens’ I grew rhino skin! Anyone associated with the sport rugby, know people who play rugby, will know rugby banter is relentless!
Young, impressionable new guy straight out of University joining the team, I won’t bore you with all the stories, but you could imagine I was an injured seal pup to the swarm of circling great white sharks!
Subsequent to this I was offered a job within the University working with a variety of athletes from a range of sports and programmes such as England Women’s F.A., Norwich City Football Development, Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS), Elite Athlete Support Programme (EASP). Batchwood, and Gosling Tennis High Performance Centers (HPC’s), Badminton England, Mavericks Netball, and England Netball.
After deciding to start my own business I relocated back to Essex and was fortunate to find Excel Health and Performance and an amazing bunch of likeminded individuals and still continue to work with England Netball and the ASA developing their S&C diving programme.
2. Who are your role models and, whom have you learnt from in the fitness industry?
Firstly, I think it would be wrong not to mention all the guys at Excel. I think we’re all very fortunate that although all likeminded individual’s, we are all very different also. Whether its background, skill set, experience or beliefs – It would be impossible not to learn something new everyday!
Regarding others, there are far too many to name in all honesty, but so many for different reasons. Whether it’s their personal influence, out and out knowledge of the human body and physiological responses to exercise, certain international strength coaches, nutritionists, holistic lifestyle coaches and those who I respect from a business perspective, and what they’ve achieved in the industry. I’m bound to miss a few, but in all sincerity I like to think we are all learning and developing everyday. There is always someone out there that knows more than you! Here goes:
Lee Williams, Phil Learney, Martin Rooney, Lyle McDonald, Mike Boyle, Zach Even-Esh, Bill Parisi, Alwyn Cosgrove, Matt Lovell, Eric Cressey, Dax Moy, Todd Durkin, Gray Cook, Charles Poliquin,Joe DeFranco, Sean Croxton But to name a few.
3. How did you get into such great shape in only 14-weeks?
Firstly I set a definitive goal date for the photo-shoot. I knew once I had my mind set right, everything else would follow. Mentally this was much more of a challenge than I ever imagined. I believe mindset is so relevant to the majority of things we strive to achieve. I’m referring to specifically a five-week period where my weight did not change at all! That was extremely challenging to get through without wavering, although the thought did cross my mind!
I like to think I have always been in ‘shape’ – of course we all have our own perceptions of this. But an injury setback and in all honesty overconsumption of the amount of food I could once get away with when I was training more frequently, before I got injured led to a serious reality check and my body-fat levels reaching a level I was unhappy with. Again the ‘what’ I was eating wasn’t so much the issue, just how much.
Eating within certain calorific restraints is something I knew I would have to do, making myself accountable to someone far more experienced, who controls their calories to peak on a specific day is where Lee Williams came in. His approach was a breath of fresh air, and I hope this blog will dispel a few training and nutritional myths out there.
First of all, I don’t believe at any time during the process I was following a ‘diet’. In fact I was probably eating the most I’ve eaten in a long time and more regularly too. I was feeding my body around eight times a day, at the same times everyday, and eating every two hours (in fact approximately 784 meals, 264, 600kcal over the time period to be exact). This consisted of a good balance of proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fats. – Plenty of the best wholefood produce (and where possible organic) I could source, including poultry, meat, fish, eggs, quinoa, sweet potatoes, wholegrain basmati rice, vegetables and plenty of fruit. All processed sugars and sweeteners were eliminated also.The only thing I did have to be mindful of was the quantities ingested and all my food was weighed precisely. Preparation was everything for the duration of the 14 weeks. Generally my day starts at 04:45, first meal is at 05:00 and I training at 06:00 – All before a day’s work. Making sure that I had everything with me when I left the house, meant no real thought or excuse to source food elsewhere when at work or out the following day. Because of this everything I needed for the day had to be prepared the evening before. This was a highly time consuming process to begin with, but is now part of a half hour routine I have when I get in of an evening and very easy.
My training regime consisted of a four-day split focusing on different muscle groups and a different weekly stimulus rotated every three weeks – Different loads, reps, sets, etc., with gradually progressive weights. With regards ‘cardio’ this often consisted of a 20 min power walk after weight training and towards the end of the process I started incorporating the odd 10-20 minute kettlebell/barbell complex, prowler sprint session or tabatta session. Absolutely nothing too extreme as I wanted to hold onto as much lean mass as possible.
No ‘fad’ diet, restrictions on certain food groups, or excessive, aimless cardio sessions, just a common sense approach to eating and training, taking into account calories consumed, relevant nutrient intake at the right times, and absolutely under no circumstances any ‘cheat’ meals’. This may seem shocking to some but my final week before the pictures I actually increased my carbohydrate intake!
Supplement wise, again no ‘fad’ well marketed products, just a good high quality whey protein, BCAA’s, Creatine, L-Glutamine and again a high quality fish oil, probiotic, multi-vitamin and green drink.
I genuinely really enjoy my food and rarely hungry. This, I believe is definitely what has made to process sustainable. Training for me has never been a chore and neither is maintaining a healthy, well-balanced relationship with food. It just very much ‘depends’ on your goals.
Ultimately if I had to ‘sum-up’ all of the above in one word, I would use “consistency”.
4. How did you keep so disciplined?
In all honesty I’ve always been pretty focused (I’m sure some reading this may refer to me as a classic type A personality) and determined once I’ve set my mind on something. For what I wanted to achieve in the time frame, I pretty much had tunnel vision. I like to think I have that approach with most things in life whether that’s around training, business and generally anything else. I’m sure a few will tell you something as simple as once I’ve decided what film I’m watching at the cinema, you’ve got no chance changing my mind!
Additionally, it wasn’t something I hadn’t really mentioned to anyone else apart from my girlfriend, Marc my workout partner and Lee Williams who was advising me on my nutrition. As the weeks went on, I gradually mentioned it to more and more people and all of a sudden I was accountable to more than just a few! Furthermore, I had the added incentive that on the day of the photo-shoot I wouldn’t be in a great deal of clothing. In my place of work. With friends, colleagues, clients and members all present……. I have to say, that certainly helped stoke the motivational fire! As cliché as it sounds, I love my job, and I’m very grateful for that. Few have the privilege of a local job they really enjoy doing. Health, fitness and performance are a huge part of my life and who I am, if I can share that with others as a job it’s an added bonus.
I find helping people get the best out of themselves hugely rewarding and am passionate about what I do. I guess a more appropriate question would be – Why wouldn’t I want to be in best shape I’m capable of and demonstrate to my athletes and clients that I was willing to put myself through exactly what I’ve been asking them to do? I’m sure one person in particular who might read this has often thought when I’ve asked him to cut his food to make weight “You have absolutely no idea what you’re putting me through!” He knows who he is!
5. What is your training philosophy when it comes to training, eating, etc.
Training programmes should be bespoke and stress the body enough to initiate the adaptation required, without overcomplicating the process. That is, your training should be targeted towards specific meaningful goals, so that it will become a priority in your life, and the training in which you partake causes enough physical stress to the body that through appropriate rest, recovery and nutritional strategies, you get the changes and results you want.
My approach is the same towards nutrition. Everything you are consuming should feed the body with all the nutrients you need to cause the hormonal and physiological responses and changes in your body towards the results you’re pursuing. Whether this is health, well-being, performance or goals around body composition. I also believe a common sense/well balanced approach should be adopted. It very much ‘depends’ on what you’re trying to achieve. Yes I enjoy the odd dessert at various occasions! It just very much ‘depends’ on my goals at the time.
In my opinion many people make the mistake of having vague, unrealistic and often conflicting goals, which hinder their gains. I’ll quite happily hold my hands up to this myself, especially in my earlier days of training, and in the past have adopted a ‘more is better’ approach leading to seriously overtraining and not achieving the results I was pursing. If there’s something in your current regime that isn’t taking you one step close towards you goal – Get it out of there! For example, if your goals are around body composition and getting in the best shape of your life, holding onto as much lean muscle as possible AND simultaneously dropping body-fat. Yet, you’re running 10km four times a week to get your PB below 35 minutes and performing High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) twice a week then it is highly unlikely, and at a stretch near on physiologically impossible that you’ll achieve any of your goals!
From experience, if goals surrounding body composition (both male and female) and achieve a more aesthetically pleasing ‘toned’ appearance, then excessive cardio vascular exercise sessions are the number one culprit negatively affecting you ability to achieve your desired look. Ask yourself: Is your ultimate goal a lean, ‘toned’, muscular body? Or to increase your overall fitness?
If your goals are based around aesthetics then 80% of the battle is nutrition and that good old saying “you can’t out train a bad diet” rings no truer than here. I simply cannot stress this enough.If you’re trying to get lean as possible and transform your body I feel that it is deluded to believe you can have cheat meals whether they consist of ‘clean’ or ‘healthier’ ingredients or not. There’s a common misconception that if you make treats with healthy, more natural ingredients they won’t negatively affect your progress. The physiological and hormonal differences in your body’s response to a processed equivalent, is likely to be marginal. Again this very much ‘depends’ on your goals. If getting in ‘THE best’ shape of your life including visible abdominals, a flat stomach, or slim hips is your goal, then it is simply an inane practice.
At the same time, I’m a realist and it again ‘depends’. I understand that for the majority this is not the case and many aspire to have a certain physique, simply lose some weight, enhance their health and well being, etc., and not any of the characters above. This is fine also, there’s no pre judgment and everyone has different values and priorities. Why not enjoy the odd dessert or glass of wine, and relax on holiday, I certainly do and believe its essential mentally if for nothing else, it just very much ‘depends’ on your goals.
I definitely believe in a balance, BUT if you aspire to get your body in the best shape possible within a certain time frame, stop kidding yourself. Ask yourself “Is this going to take me any closer to my goal?” if the answer is ‘no’, then don’t eat it. It’s pretty simple. I guess the point I’m stressing is that you need to have that definitive goal in mind. Getting your mind set right and focused on a meaningful goal in the first instance will hugely influence your ability to succeed in the pursuit of the body you desire.
Great interview from dan. Very honest and lots of good advice. After some persuasion and a push from Lisa at the gym, Dan submitted his photos for an online cover model competition which goes live Sunday. Check out the website here….