The term ''expert'' is used FAR too often in the fitness industry - there are personal trainers who sport a 6 pack and carry that as their license to such a status, not the case! An expert is somebody who has been able to help people time and time again get results, a great example would be our guest today - Kevin Walker. As you know, I am avid fan of the likes of Nick Mitchell, Charles Poliquin, Neil Hill, Kris Gethin and in his own right I regard Kevin within the same realms. When somebody is able to present to you well over 100 ''6 pack'' transformations the proof is there, what he says must be heard - these are small diamond nuggets of pure genius. Today, exclusively Kevin will open up to our FitMag readers and discuss his journey, his protocols and why he has always managed to be one of the best!
Kevin, thank you so much for taking your time to join us mate - it is an absolute pleasure! To kick off can you give us some background information on yourself?
My absolute pleasure Adam, thank you!
I have always been heavily into fitness from a young age, focusing on football where I had trials as an England schoolboy at U19 level. I played for Leeds, Newcastle and Sunderland during my youth and was selected for a scholarship to Penn State in America to play ‘soccer’ over there. Tragically before I had the chance to actually progress, I suffered a freak ankle injury while playing football, which shattered any dreams of that happening. I was always ‘super skinny’ at school as I was also a heavy cross-country runner, on the cricket team, and was a northern national swimmer from the age of 11.
I simply did too much and obviously being a youth athlete, had no knowledge or guidance on what fuelling your body was all about. I had broken several bones during my school years through sports injuries and it wasn’t until my severe ankle injury at the age of 18 that my doctor told me that it was essential to put some ‘meat on my bones’ if I wanted to pursue any sporting career. So it was at the age of 18 where my strength-coaching journey started.
Several years later and having learnt from several of the very best mentors in the industry, I own several fitness business franchises and I am the author of my own recipe book. My company specialises in fat loss transformations, focusing on achieving six pack abs with any client no matter where they are starting. We have taken clients from as high as 26% body fat to a mere sub 5% in as little as 18weeks.
We have over 100 fat loss photo transformations on our website. Our new website which launches in October 2012, will have over 150photos, more than any other fitness website so I have been told. I am very proud of this considering my age.
How did you make the transition from regular PT to an ''expert'' who now has more transformations on your site than any other?
It simply comes down to investment in really learning your trade from a cellular level. I am someone who finds it very easy to ask someone to teach me something. I find people in our industry very shy and withdrawn considering we are one of the most passionate industries around. A lot of trainers seem to hold their cards close to their chest and feel that learning from someone is a sign of weakness.
I learn from anyone who is making head waves in the industry. If someone is successful at what they specialise in then I want to know and learn from them.
I particularly look up to top strength coaches such as Charles Poliquin, Phil Richards, Phil Learney and Nick Mitchell. These guys live for high standards and I love the certifications they provide for improving trainers as a whole. It comes as no shock that the bodybuilding greats such as Arnold, Mentzer, Tom Platz, and Reg Park to name but a few have influenced my training philosophies considerably.
Can you give us a little information on your company, ModelHealth? I hear you have worked with VIPs. . . .
I started Modelhealth off with a focus devoted to improving body composition through improving the ratio between fat accumulation and lean muscle development. I wanted to aspire to be up there with other top coaches in the UK. This is where I really began looking and searching for that inspirational modern day coach who already had a track record for this, and I found him in the form of a Canadian who had a reputation for ‘shoving’ his athletes ten feet across the room for getting in his face. Being at a high level in sports from a young age, I have always had coaches being hard on me and not accepting anything less than 100%. So someone with this fiery attitude to being a winner tends to be what I respond to best. It was Charles Poliquin that I chose and he led me down the route of how important hormones played on fat loss, lean muscle mass, mood, sleep and so much more.
After attending his BioSignature course for the first time (I have now done 4 of these), I have read and bought everything he has done and then read them twice more. I met Nick Mitchell at my first course, and as he was literally a walking advert for everything Charles had discussed. It really changed my focus on learning and developing my own physique.
After integrating all this learning and accompanying it with the art of bodybuilding practices, the degree of speed in our transformations really made head waves in the North East and after local magazines and newspapers began spreading the news, the business literally exploded. I now train trainers to produce the same standard of results as I do. We now have over a dozen trainers across the country. We have actually just hired a trainer as far as London to work within our business. He is an ex Newcastle Falcons player and within weeks of taking it to the big smoke, he exploded in his chosen area of London which was incredible for us.
Because of my background in sport, I have many old friends still playing their trade in football and I often consult for some of them. Although I am too busy to travel at present I still prescribe their nutrition programs as I feel football is way behind the times with nutrition. For the money in football, you would think they would have caught on by now that what they eat directly reflects their energy and performance in the sport.
Our latest celebrity client was actually James Tindale from Geordie Shore. Although I live in Newcastle people are surprised to hear that I have never watched the show but had heard a lot about what they get up to and when the producers approached me I really wasn’t sure. But I agreed to meet him and I couldn’t believe what a down to earth guy he was. We had 25 days till the series began and he lived up to my high expectations. I have now been approached to train three others in the show, but I have a lot on at the moment with other projects. I hope I will be able to find time for that venture, as James was a star pupil.
We have trained James for series 4, which will be on our TV screens mid October, so you will be able to see how it went.
For on-looking PTs, what would your main piece of advice be in relation to improving your results with clients?
There’s only one bit of advice I would stress to any Personal Trainer wanting to be successful in the industry, invest in knowledge. You must learn from those who are the top of their game. Don’t look for your weekly workout on YouTube, you should be in workshops and seminars and courses learning the practical essence of what the best in the industry can teach you. You can only grow if you invest. I have spent ten’s of thousands on courses and won’t ever stop as long as I am in the industry. You can never know enough.
Moving on, in relation to nutrition - how important is it to achieve an impressive transformation?
Nutrition is absolutely critical. It is a well-documented fact you cannot create an exceptional physique without ideal nutrition for your body. I say this in regard to low body fat and ample lean mass as I know many out there may consider different physiques to look more appealing than others. Athletes, Bodybuilders and sports professionals require different macro and micronutrient intake depending on their sport. Not one particular food program can replicate an ideal balance of nutrients for everyone. I find this fascinating and have had many discussions with different athletes and how they apply this into their sport.
Food plays a major role in the manipulation of hormones, and because hormones play a major role in body composition in specific areas of the body, ModelHealth place a huge importance on it with every single one of our clients.
What is your approach to nutrition with clients?
It depends on the client I am working with. I first assess my client using BioSignature Modulation, which tells me what is going on hormonally. If they have high body fat levels then we will look at helping the client improve INSULIN sensitivity. Omega 3 fish oils will be an immediate benefit for them, as it helps make you more anabolic and helps switch your fat storing genes off, and turn your fat burning genes on. Also, the abundant evidence that taking a good quality fish oil has been shown to be beneficial in the prevention of pretty much any disease known to man makes it an obvious first step to improving their health.
We tend to find most clients are scared to death of consuming ANY TYPE OF FATS in their diet. The obvious trans fats etc should be avoided at all costs but mainstream media has caused a scarcity to any fat at all. I feel sorry for the general public in this case as it is so very confusing. A low fat diet leads to an imbalance of nutrient intake, as healthy fats are hugely important for overall health. Those on a low fat diet always tend to have INSULIN issues. Why? Well most low fat foods are laden with sugars (high glycaemic ones at that), and this creates a build up of resistance over time to INSULIN response.
The media love this because they demonise fats and make cheaper alternatives purely for profit. But this is the reason the UK is getting fatter. Sweet foods are also more addictive and this is why the large food companies really hammer home their marketing values in this way. Sugar is a drug that is slowly (actually quickly) killing people, remember this if you value you health.
We take a different approach to many trainers and nutritionists. Cholesterol is said to be the major cause for heart disease but in my opinion it is inflammation. Food agriculture has changed dramatically and this leads to highly inflamed bodies at a cellular level.
Strength coach Phil Richards really helped me understand how the heart, blood, circulatory system and hormones really work closely together to decide whether your body was healthy or sick. He said, ‘If you concentrate on making your clients healthy, then fat loss, sports conditioning, and energy will take care of itself. I have never heard a truer set of words spoken.
What are the most common misconceptions/mistakes you come across with clients and their diet?
I have already mentioned about Low fat foods so I won’t repeat that part. For me, low protein in a clients diet is always an issue when I first work with them. When a client comes to see me they are required to write down a 3-7day plan of what they have been eating leading up to the consultation.
I find the first time they eat a well-balanced meal is not until after 1pm in the day. This leads to a host of issues long term including mood swings, poor sleeping patterns, bad food choices and overeating. The fact the first 30grams of protein you consume in a day goes towards repairing and maintenance of the immune system tells its own story.
The meat and nuts breakfast is what I always have for breakfast. If I am on a bulking plan I would add some low glycaemic carbohydrates here but the principle behind this breakfast is to sustain steady blood sugar levels, instead of the spike in INSULIN people tend to get from their bagels, McDonalds drive thru breakfasts and heaven forbid, ready made cereals. I despise these foods and can honestly say I haven’t eaten these types of foods since I was a kid. I would always feel like death after 20minutes of eating them.
An easy way of measuring whether a particular food is good for you or not is simply to measure your energy levels from a scale of 1-10 just before eating it. Then 20minutes later assess your energy levels again, then do so again after an hour. If your energy dips within the hour after eating it, then its most likely a food source that your body currently has a food sensitivity issue with. I have found foods such as pasta and bread wreak havoc on my energy levels and therefore I tend to stay clear of these foods.
How important are fats for effective fat loss?
Fats are crucial for many reasons. They slow down the response for INSULIN and therefore make fat loss more effective. They are extremely important for the transport the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, ensuring they can do there job in the body. Many fatty food contain other important nutrients such as zinc, magnesium iron and calcium.
Without fat in the diet, our bodies WILL become extremely poor to INSULIN sensitivity, meaning we will only become fatter. This is because fat is used to build the outer lipid layer of every cell in the body. When this is hampered, our sensitivity to INSULIN diminishes.
In fact, a Swedish study published in the Journal of Diabetologia showed that a high fat, high protein nutrition program significantly improved insulin sensitivity during the 6month period, compared to the low-fat group. This was further supported after a two year follow on study which showed INSULIN sensitivity was still significantly improved compared to the low-fat diet.
Cholesterol that comes from saturated fat actually helps to build hormones in the body. This is essential for long term health.
With 8% body fat yourself (all year round - and all ModelHealth trainers are sub 10%) what is a typical day's eating for yourself?
This would depend on my goal, but in terms of staying single digit body fat all year round I tend to have a balanced form of nutrients. My diet comes from meat, fish, poultry, eggs, vegetables, and low glycaemic carbohydrates. I don’t eat too many fruits but do have the occasional fruits (1-2 fruits in a day about 3-4 times weekly).
I have approached various forms of eating and for me nothing works better than to have several feedings per day. I can relate a lot to those out there who struggle to add lean mass to their body. But it does often come down to the fact they are not consistent with eating the required amount of protein, fat and carbohydrates with their meals.
I tried fasting when it was all the rage as I feel its only right to guinea pig trial anything before applying it to others. I found my body would literally eat itself up. It was weird but I actually felt my muscles churning up my hard earned muscle for nourishment. It is definitely not for me. But I am not saying it doesn’t work for others.
Some form of meat and nuts. I tend to vary my meats. 1-2xweekly I may have eggs and fish but I really feel good after morning meat. My energy levels are sustained throughout the morning.
I tend to train mid morning so I have a balanced and nutrient dense lunch at this point. Again I make sure I have an abundance of protein, vegetables and a low glycaemic carb such as sweet potato or quinoa. I find these best to keep me low body fat. If I have worked out mid morning I may change to some brown rice to accompany my protein and vegetables. I cook with either Extra Virgin Olive Oil or coconut oil.
Similar format to Lunchtime, sometimes just vegetables without the low glycaemic carbohydrates and before bed I always take magnesium, a green powder shake, a tablespoon of nut butter, some vitamin C and 1 teaspoon fish oil.
Nuts, berries, Dried fruits (my body responds well to this fuelling and I do it in small amounts several time per day). It keeps me from overeating or getting cravings as I feel it stabilizes my blood sugar well.
I like Almond, Cashew, Hazelnut Nut Butter with celery, carrot, cucumber, or peppers. Gluten free rice cakes with cottage cheese are another favorite of mine although I limit this to only resistance days.
Moving on to training, what is your overall approach to training with clients?
When it comes to fat loss, we have to again go back to the fact hormones play a role in targeted fat loss on the body. The best way to improve overall body composition is to maintain or increase lean mass while decreasing overall body fat. To do this in the quickest possible time you need to improve androgens and growth hormone release. Strength training and Interval training combined have been shown to be the most effective method for this.
I have shown my top 8 training strategies, which I combine to create the fastest fat loss protocol around. I apply all of them in one program so that science and real world training works hand in hand together. Here’s my list of do’s for fat loss and training for faster fat loss:
1. Use the biggest bang for your buck exercises – Squats, Deadlift, Bench Press, Shoulder press, Dips, Pullups, Bent-over rows.
2. Make the time under tension (TUT) for each set last for between 40-60seconds – TUT of 40-60seconds has been shown to increase growth hormone and androgen response, making muscle maintenance/increasing size more efficient.
3. Use very short rest periods between sets – This philosophy promotes blood lactate, meaning you will again be ramping up growth hormone levels which in turn will promote the use of fat as a fuel. This spares lean muscle in the process meaning improved body composition.
4. Slow down your reps – I see this in the gym a lot. Going to quick with your reps will only hinder your goals because the eccentric phase is hugely important in the breakdown of muscle tissue. If you want to see gains, and if your working under a 40-60second TUT then I suggest making your reps go to a 4010 count. This means a 1 second contraction or drive phase followed by a much slower release phase of 4 seconds. Changing and playing with this system alone can really ramp up your results over a period of time. Don’t stick to one form of rep pace.
5. For fastest results use a Hypertrophy rep range of between 8-12reps - Using tip 3 and 4 you will see that a 5 seconds rep pace alongside a 40-60seconds TUT will create a rep range of 8-12 reps.
6. Use weights that are around 70-85% of your 1RM – Reaching 40-60seconds is useless if you could have gone longer. You must aim to max out by 60seconds otherwise you are not lifting heavy enough, meaning you won’t create the required anabolic response. Work out your 1RM on each exercise and then go from there.
7. Combine your bang for your buck exercises in a circuit based format. If you want to glow, ramp up your body’s temperature, and literally feel the fat melting then combining the above tips into a circuit based format will push blood around your body, again increasing blood lactate and heart capacity. Be aware that increasing blood lactate can cause nausea so start with something you can cope with and improve your weights from there.
8. Give yourself 10-60seconds rest between each exercise in your circuit. This will boost growth hormone response dramatically.
If you follow this system for fat loss and couple it with high intensity training and smart nutrition, fat loss will happen.
How important is resistant training for optimised fat loss, for both women and men in your opinion?
Whether you are a male or female it is imperative that one of your training tools is based on strength training. Both males and females will do wonders for their fat loss goals by following my training tips above. Females often worry and have a misguided view that weight training will causes them to bulk. Women have 15-20 times less testosterone than males. Therefore the response to testosterone post workout simply cannot create the same increase in muscle mass that males can get when training correctly.
What does happen when females do weight training however is that they ramp up their growth hormone (GH) levels. This is awesome when it comes to fat loss as GH is responsible for creating a more toned body, forces fat to be used as an energy fuel, and helps bring down your stressor hormones (cortisol). Stomach fat in particular is enhanced and therefore ALL women should do weight training if they want a healthier body. We really make all our female clients understand this before we embark on a training program together. It also helps that we have so many female photo transformations to prove our theories which means our female clients immediately have confidence in what they are doing will only benefit their body.
What about cardio, SSCC or HIIT and why?
With my clients I tend to keep them away from steady state cardio, especially if they have lower body fat issues or high cortisol readings (umbilical/stomach). Steady state cardio has been shown to produce free radicals, which can make your body age quicker.
Unlike many coaches, I am not actually demonizing steady state cardio. But if your someone who has been using it for a while now and not getting the results you want I would definitely take some time out to concentrate on weight training and High Intensity Interval training (HIIT). I believe every training modality has a place and sporadic steady state cardio sessions do have benefit for fat loss. For example bodybuilders have been using it for years. At certain times it is definitely a benefit. HIIT however has become the mainstream tool for faster fat loss of late and I’m not surprised. When done correctly, you can literally blowtorch fat from your body and by combining it with resistance training, it is
What would be a typical week's training for a client, what would be the noticeable differences between men/women if any?
My initial six week phase for fat loss clients revolves around the training principles I mentioned earlier. The exercises may change depending on what my initial structural balance assessment tells me. But the actual principles work in the same way because it works every time.
I would work with a circuit based training format 3 times weekly. All three sessions would incorporate all the major muscle groups but they would vary slightly using grip distance, angle of movement, grip position, rotation etc. For example I may use flat dumbbell chest press in workout 1, incline dumbbell chest press in workout 2, and close grip bench press in workout 3. The same for squats, deadlifts, dips, and other exercises, the movements will simply vary slightly to maximize muscle performance.
On top of this I would have them perform 2 HIIT interval training routines per week. Every 4th interval cardio training program I would have them work on a 40-60minute steady state training routine just to trick the body. Too much interval training can cause serious overtraining on the body, leading to a halt in fat loss and decrease in energy production.
In regards to supplementation, how important is it in your opinion?
Now this is the question I get emailed the most, that magic pill that will create an epic torso. Obviously this a fairytale story and unless you fuel correctly for fat loss with nutrition through food, supplements are useless. However, with that being said, I think supplementation is essential in modern agriculture providing you are already eating a healthy food plan. The nutrient density of our foods have diminished greatly over the years as modern food agriculture has placed more value on profits rather than health. It is sad to see but that is the kind of world we live in.
I try to go organic wherever possible and I would only ever eat wild or grass fed animal meat/fish. Never buy meat from your supermarket unless it is grass fed.
What supplements can help with is accelerating the deficiencies found through improper nutrition. By making sure you have the right balance of essential nutrients it can make all the difference between results and frustration.
What kind of supplements do you feel work best for fat loss?
Here’s my recommended starter pack for faster fat loss:
1. High quality Fish Oil
2. Green detoxification powder (Udos Ever Greens)
3. Whey Protein Isolates (post workout nutrition)
To get all of your supplements head to www.monstersupplements.com and get FREE next day delivery!
To sum it up, why should people begin a transformation TODAY!
You only have one body, so you should look to take care of it. Your health is so important and a healthy body will always give a side effect of fat loss.
How can people contact you?
My website is www.Modelhealth.co.uk where you can send a message to our team and we will be happy to help in any way we can. Our online fat loss program is available at www.LetsGetShredded.com and this allows us to work with you anywhere in the world. This is a LIVE program where you can work with me and receive 24hour support on our system.
Kevin, once again thank you so much - this has been a real pleasure!
Any time, thank you!!