When it comes to fitness we’re often so focused on the end result that we can’t wait to get off the starting blocks. But fully assessing our body’s capability before starting a new training plan can help reach goals quicker and prevent injury.
That’s the message of Luke Worthington, personal trainer, qualified sports scientist and Head of Trainer Education at Third Space, who says: “You have a far greater chance of finding point B if you know where point A is.”
Worthington is at the forefront of Postural Restoration science in the UK, which considers the connection between biomechanics, neurology, psychology and emotional wellbeing.
He specialises in strength, conditioning and bio-mechanical assessment, as well as rehabilitation from musculoskeletal injury to prevent re-injury. Worthington describes himself as “bridging the gap between rehab and performance”.
A former international athlete and world record holder, the 37-year-old has elite sporting experience both on and off the pitch, having worked alongside some of the world’s leading coaches, medical professionals and athletes.
It’s no wonder he is strongly against going to the gym for aesthetics alone.
Speaking to HuffPost UK for our latest Fit Fix instalment, he said: “If you’re simply training to ‘look better’, then when are you ever really going to be satisfied? If the goal is getting stronger then you’re adding more weight to the bar and the results are real and more manageable. Not only that but your body will change as an added bonus.”
“Typically I strength train four times per week and have one conditioning or energy system (aka cardio) day.
“As a personal trainer, I spend my days working with clients on the gym floor. I’m on my feet, up and down stairs, and loading and unloading weights for clients – I never really stand still. So demands for additional cardio training are pretty low.
“My strength training days alternate between upper and lower body, and are a combination of barbell work and plyometrics.
“My conditioning or cardio is currently less structured, so I’ll typically choose an activity that’s fun: a martial arts or boxing class, or go surfing at the weekend.”
What’s your favourite type of workout and why?
“I love strength training. I believe this is the cornerstone to all other fitness spaces. If you want to jump higher or run faster, these all require being able to produce more force.
“If you’re training for aesthetics or just want to shift a few pounds, then this ultimately requires you to move more. If you want to move more and not get hurt, then you need to get stronger. Simple.
“Strength training allows you to set more tangible goals to track your progress. If you’re simply training to ‘look better’, then when are you ever really going to be satisfied? If the goal is getting stronger then you’re adding more weight to the bar and the results are real and more manageable. Not only that but your body will change as an added bonus.”
What’s your favourite way to spend your rest day?
“I’ve never trained on Sundays. This comes right back to my days as a rugby player when the day after match day would be spent recovering – and eating!
“These days my Sundays aren’t too different and my favourite way to spend them is going out for breakfast, then long and lazy roast dinner, the Sunday papers and catching up on the week’s sport.”
“Given I have an active job, a consistent training schedule and I’m a big guy – I need to eat a lot. I’m not overly attentive to counting macros but I do know that I roughly consume a 40-30-30 split of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats.
“Sundays are the day off training and the day off really paying attention to food – if I want that chocolate brownie with ice cream after my roast dinner, then I’m having it.”
What are your pre and post-workout snacks?
“Pre-workout – a black Americano and a blueberry muffin from Starbucks in soho. A nice caffeine kick and some simple carbs and much better for me than an artificial pre-workout supplement consisting of much the same thing.
“Post-workout – I do plan a little here and have a smoothie made from cashew milk, mixed berries, peanut butter, and Optimum Nutrition platinum whey powder. I make this in a Nutribullet the night before and bring it in to work with me.”
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about food?
“Don’t deprive yourself of things that you want. I’m a big believer in flexible dieting. This means you can eat what you like, but you must understand where it fits into the overall picture of your week’s intake.
“Depriving yourself of things you love tends to make people resentful of their eating plan, develop a poor relationship with food and ultimately be much more likely too fall off the wagon!”
Do you have a motivational mantra that keeps you going?
“Never maximal, always optimal.
“You don’t need to go all out in every session of every week. There are times when life gets in the way, that’s OK. Take a bigger picture view, and one or two blips or backward steps are perfectly acceptable as long as the overall trend is moving towards your goal.”
Do you always have fitness/body goals you are aiming for? Why/why not?
“At the moment I’m trying to get as strong and as athletic as possible. So, I am measuring my jumping and calisthenic ability as well as the weight on the bar.
“Looking like Wolverine wouldn’t be a bad body goal however.”
What’s your ultimate workout track and why?
“’Rosemary’ by the Deftones, because it’s badass.”
Third Space’s ‘Out / Set’ program is a two-part body and movement analysis, to create a personalised, scientific program that identifies strengths and weaknesses to help reach specific fitness goals. Out / Set is available to all new and existing members.