As the saying goes ‘’behind every great man there is a great woman’’ – well I would like to expand on that. In our world of bodybuilding and athletics ‘’behind every great athlete there is a great trainer.’’ Our guest today, Neil Hill is that man who has helped so many professional bodybuilders realise their potential when others couldn’t! Over the last couple of years Neil’s reputation has blown up with his global status as one of the very best trainers and nutritionists’ money can buy. Y3T, Neil’s training system has been adopted by many world class athletes from various backgrounds and they have all enjoyed great success having used it! Many of you will know it was Neil who coached my through my 12 week transformation, so when I say he is the ‘’best’’ I am talking from experience! Today we are lucky enough to speak with Neil and get his opinions on all of the popular topics related to our sport, and we also have a surprise for you guys in store! Read on to find out exactly what it is!
As always Neil, it is a great honour to hear your opinions – thank you very much for joining us! To start off, would you mind giving us a little bit of history about yourself?
No problem. As a youngster I was always playing various sports whether it was rugby, football, swimming, surfing or BMX biking. In every sport I managed to excel, I swam for my country as an example. At the age of about 19 I met a friend who was training in the gym and he invited me along, from there I was hooked!
I competed in several shows as a junior where I won show titles and to cut a long story short I won my IFBB Pro card in 2002. Unfortunately, an ongoing knee injury forced me to retire because I didn’t feel I was able to train at the required intensity to do myself justice as a pro bodybuilder.
Fortunately I am still able to be heavily involved in the sport which I love, where I help various professional athletes such as Flex Lewis, Brandon Curry, Kenny Jackson and Hidetada Yamgishi for example. Currently I do also have a lot of top amateur athletes who I am working with. My role with my athletes is to workout a Y3T training program which will work them individually and to do the same with their diet and supplementation program. I am also the official Gaspari Nutrition trainer and nutritionist which is a huge honour.
Great! So going back to your training days as a competitive bodybuilder, how did you train and how does that compare to today?
As a beginner you could say I trained quite heavy, where we might do 9-12 working sets with a repetition range of 6-12 for instance. Week after week we would train like this and I would always pick up small niggles here and there. One week it might be my shoulder joint, another it may be my elbows and then it could be knee. (This wasn’t why my knee deteriated to the point where I had to retire; it was a genetic fault which progressed over time.)
As I gained more experience I began to try out new angles with my training where I felt certain muscles were working, yet my attachment points were not under so much stress. The repetition range I used would also increase, but at the time high rep training wasn’t something I had tried before. As time went on I realised my joints felt better for it, I wasn’t picking up injuries all the time and my physique was developing better than ever because my training was more 3 dimensional!
In regards to injuries, if you consider with higher repetitions you are forced to use far less weight. In my opinion I think this takes a great deal of stress away from the connective tissues in the joint, yet the muscle you are trying to stimulate is working extremely hard. To me this creates a win-win situation for the athlete.
This is how my Y3T training principles were born and this is what all of my athletes use today. We work on a 3 week training cycle.
Week 1 – heavy compound movements with a repetition range of 6-10
Week 2 – compound and isolation movements with a repetition range of 12-15
Week 3 – Total annihilation – for upper body the repetition range can be up to 30 per set, for legs we can go as high as 100 per set!
There is a lot to understand about Y3T, this is just a very basic insight to what it is based upon. I truly believe this is the most effective way to build lean muscle, improve overall physical conditioning and limit the risk of injuries.
I can certainly vouch for Y3T; it has helped me make my best gains to date whilst avoiding common injuries! Neil what would you say are the most common mistakes beginners make in the gym?
There are a few common mistakes which you will see beginners make on a regular basis. Over training is very common where you will see people doing way too many sets and spending way too long in the gym! In my opinion if you can train for say 90 minutes there is no way your intensity is where it should be.
Lifting too heavy is another very common mistake. Y3T is based around a complete muscle contraction and when you lift too heavy, far too much of the weight transfer goes through the joint opposed to the target muscle. To build muscle effectively you need to cause the muscle to contract properly.
Bad form is something else I see many beginners do. This is relevant to the second point, because if your form is bad there is no way you can achieve a proper muscle contraction.
Great! So what would be your main piece of advice to beginners in relation to their training?
First of all you need to learn how to perform exercises correctly, and then follow a proper training split. Remember that it doesn’t matter what weight you are using to start with, it is all about building a solid foundation and using correct form.
What would be a good training split for beginners to follow?
Monday – back & biceps
Tuesday – chest & triceps
Wednesday – 0ff
Thursday – shoulders
Friday – legs & calves
Saturday – off
Sunday – off
Moving on to nutrition, you are renowned globally for your ability to put together effective and healthy diets. What are your key principles of nutrition?
First and foremost I like to make sure my athletes are healthy, so I give them a diet which I believe gives them a cross-section of vital vitamins, minerals, trace elements and nutrients. I am a big believer in following a diet which uses a big range of foods. My athletes will have several different sources of protein, complex carbohydrates, fibrous carbohydrates and healthy fats on a daily basis. In my opinion, if you get your nutrients from a range of foods your body is going to be more receptive to those nutrients.
I do also advocate cheat meals on the basis that I believe it helps keep my athletes focussed long term. By having an occasional cheat meal you are more likely to commit to something long term, but I do insist that the meal is nutritious and has enough protein.
What are the most common mistakes you see beginners make with their diet?
A lot of people fail to eat enough of the right foods, they miss meals and their diet lacks diversity.
How much protein should somebody looking to build muscle eat?
It can range depending on the individuals genetics but I would recommend 1.5g of protein per pound of body weight!
Fantastic! Obviously you are the official Gaspari nutritionist who are perhaps the most recognised supplement brand in the world now. In your opinion just how important are supplements to athletes?
During my 23 years experience within this industry I have really grown to believe that supplements are about 20% of the equation. Today, supplements are so advanced that they really do make a significant difference. Gaspari are a very dedicated brand who only want to deliver the very best products. We are constantly making better versions of already great supplements which to me proves that we only want the best for our customers.
What are your top 5 supplements for beginners looking to gain lean muscle mass?
There are certain supplements which I feel can benefit all athletes, particularly those looking to gain muscle. My top 5 would be –
Multi-blend timed release protein
OK that's awesome – moving on Neil what does the future hold for you?
The future is very exciting for me; at the beginning of 2012 my new Y3T website will go live. This means everyone can contact me directly with a view to having me as their trainer and nutritionist.
In February I am really excited because MonsterSupplements.com are running a competition where the winner gets to have me transform them over a 12 week period. This means I will give them a training and diet program to follow, and I will alter it as we go along to make sure you achieve a great transformation!
Neil we are extremely excited to run this competition with you as well, I know our readers will love it! Thank you so much for joining us mate; it really has been a pleasure! At Team Monster we will be counting down the days to our exclusive Neil Hill Y3T competition!
It has been a pleasure, thanks a lot for having me and I am also really looking forward to the competition in February!
That concludes our interview, and I really hope you guys take away as much knowledge from Neil as possible. When it comes to wisdom this guy is at the top of the tree, there is nobody in my opinion who surpasses Neil’s knowledge and understanding of training and nutrition. With that said, you would do well to follow his advice!