I started training when I was told that I was too skinny to play top-level rugby! I was 6ft and weighed around 70kgs (so I guess they were right), but I was quick and skillful so managed to get away with it through the junior grades. I joined a gym to try and bulk up, and ate anything and everything in sight… I blew up really quickly, and fell in love with lifting and the way it can makes you look and feel. In that one off season spent in the gym I put on a good 2 stone, and never really looked back…
I over looked my leg development in a big way! Because I was always running at training, I felt I didn’t need any stiffness or soreness in them as it might slow me down… I think I pretty much just didn’t like training legs, so never did!!!
I also neglected flexibility and rotator cuff work: I think that if I had known then what I know now, my time as an athlete would have been much more successful.
One of my favorite sayings is ‘ I don’t have time to lift, I make time’! This sums it up for me… everyone has 24 hours in the day, and I understand that whilst some people have lots of work and family commitments, it only takes 45-60mins to have a killer session, so find the time, and put more value into that hour… if it means 45mins less sleep, sleep less… if it means 45mins less TV, watch less TV… organize yourself better and put more value on your training time, as it is one of the most important hours of the day!!!
I don’t listen to music while I lift, but I do when I run! In fact, I think running would be almost unbearable without music, but I am not too fussy with what I listen to! A good compilation of R&B/ HIP-Hop or rock music usually carries me through my 5kms, and I try and refresh my playlist every 2 weeks at least!
To be honest, I don’t think about much! I love the feeling of training, and the immediate feedback is the most important thing. I love the pain, I love the burn, I know it is good for me, and I know I need to finish! I tap into what my body is saying, and override it with the need to finish every rep and every set!
Free weights are more primal, they get all the support muscles firing, and provide a lot more flexibility and variation in what you can do… but fixed weights definitely have a place! If I am looking to really isolate a muscle, fixed weights can be perfect, and also if I’m looking to train to failure when I’m on my own, then fixed weights let me do this without getting pinned by a barbell or dropping a dumbbell on my face! Saying this, if forced to choose, it would be free weights every time…
I am proud of my work ethic; I always keep grafting with everything I do, and am never satisfied unless I feel I have tried my best! Whether it is my education and studies at school or university, my dedication to my wife and our marriage, or my training, business, or most recently the competitions I am taking part in, unless I am giving my best, and doing all I can to make a success of it, I won’t stop until I feel I have done all I can.
I don’t go crazy, and stay pretty lean all year round, but definitely shift between periods of calorie deficit and surplus. I also know when to focus with diet, and when to relax, and feel that really helps when prepping for a photo shoot or competition. I like eating healthily and the way it makes me feel, but also love going out for a meal and a drink with my family and friends every now and again. I think my weight fluctuates between 85-90kgs with bodyfat levels ranging from 5-6% to 9-10%, and this is more of a function of how strict I am being, and how much cardio I am doing rather than an explicit bulking/ cutting cycle!
I love to run, and when in contest prep mode, hit fasted 5km runs most mornings. I also ride my bike to work and back which totals about 15kms, and lift my weights with intensity that most people would consider a cardio session… I also play sports at any opportunity I get!
My training is pretty varied and often gets switched around every 4-6weeks… I like to lift between 4-6times per week, and focus on big compound moves at the start of the workout and shift towards more isolation exercises nearer the end. I try and hit legs at least twice a week, and add in either 2 or 4 extra upper body sessions, depending on what split I am following. Here is my workout from today… It’s a modified German volume training session:
A1- Wide Grip Pull-ups 5 x 5 @ 4120 with 20kgs, into
A2- Db Curl 5 x 10 @ 3120 with 50lbs, rest 90s.
B1- Seated Row 4 x 6 @ 4120 with 74kgs, into
B2- Db Hammers 4 x 12 @ 3120 with 50lbs, rest 90s.
C1- Neutral Grip Chins 3 x 8 @ 4120 with BW, into
C2- Reverse EZ Curls 3 x 15 @ 3120 with 20kgs, rest 60s.
D1- Single Arm Row 2 x 10e @ 3120 with 20kgs, into
D2- V.Narrow EZ Concentration Curls 2 x 20 @ 2120 with 20kgs, rest 60s.
When stripping right back to peak condition, I have found that carb cycling has worked really well. I work out a maintenance calorie level, and then keep the carb intake to a bare minimum (<30g/day) for 2-3 days, with proteins and fats comprising my entire diet. I then add back in the carbs on either day 3 or 4 to switch my body back over to an anabolic state, and hold on to as much muscle as possible. Several cycles of this drops bodyfat really quickly, and allows me to maintain a high lean weight!
Athlete wise, I love to watch NFL and see these machines knock nine bails out of each other on a weekly basis. One of my favorite times of year is the NFL draft, when you can see how physically impressive these guys are: I am a big believer that if the NFL disbanded tomorrow, every world record in track & field would fall in the next 4 years!
Bodybuilding wise, you can’t look past the greats of Arnold, Franco, Serge, The Metzners… these guys had classically great physiques and took something that was underground and made it almost mainstream!
In fitness modeling, there are a few guys blazing trials, and making names for themselves: Rob Riches is a big inspiration for me! He is from the same neck of the woods as me in The UK, and has really managed to build a brand around his love of fitness and amazing physique! Greg Plitt is also massive, and has graced more covers than anyone else out there: it’s an acquired taste, but his no non-sense approach and interview style are engrossing, and right now I’d say he is at the top of his game! There are also a lot of great guys putting really good content out there: Joe Donnelly, Phil Learney (interview with Phil Learney), Kelechi Opera, Dan Reardon to name a few… My aim is to keep putting quality content out there, hope people like it and use it, and one day to be mentioned in the same sentences as these great athletes/ writers!
I am really lucky to be well looked after by the guys at thesupplementstore.co.uk and Reflex Nutrition, who provide me with all my supplement needs! If we are talking brands, I solely use Reflex at the moment, and if we are talking products, I use Nexgen Multivits, CLA, Omega3s, L-Carnitine and ZMA, and then Peptide Fusion shakes and Whey Refresh during my workouts!
1. Train Hard!!! It still amazes me how few people actually train hard… it’s not just about training… it’s about killing yourself! You have to force your body to change, and the only way to do it is to beat it into submission!!!
2. Get inspired… read all you can, watch all you can, learn all you can, then go out and try it!!! Have an idea of who you want to be, and where you want to go… and then do what it takes!
3. Get support! Whether it is from a training partner, a social network group, or a personal trainer, surround yourself with people who are of a similar mindset and attitude. You are massively influenced by the people you spend the most time with, so make sure these people are positive and will bring out the best in you!
Shaun Stafford: facebook.com/shaunstaffordfitness
Born: 1983, Comp Weight: 85kgs, Off Season 90kgs, Height: 183cm.