Weight training

"The real advantage of any system of exercise is that they force you for the duration of the time that you do them to live inside yourself.
You're compelled to relinquish the future, the past and other people.
And you move down inside yourself to establish only the relationship between you and your body." - Quentin Crisp

When I started

With Laurence Shahlaei.
One of the world's strongest men.
I'm the small one.
I was still in primary school when I would go around lifting things. It was in my DNA. I was naturally strong.
I had no idea what I was doing. But I'd lift stones or anything else I could.
By the time I was nine I could lift a thirty-three pound gas cylinder above my head a dozen times.
I started actually lifting weights for real in high school, where I was one of the strongest pupils and stronger than most of the adult male teachers.
I remember when I was thirteen arm wrestling a male teacher who was in the army part-time. He eventually agreed to declared it stalemate.

Bodybuilding. From 17 to 25

In my youth I was seriously into bodybuilding. I was a member of NABBA (National Amateur Bodybuilding Association). I was so ambitious that I took out life membership so I suppose I still am a member.

I started serious bodybuilding training at seventeen. When I started I weighed eleven stone. I was thin and I had a natually high metabolic rate which meant I had to eat enormous quantities of food to put on weight.

This is not a good thing if you want to be a bodybuider.

But I trained hard four to six days a week and ate everything in sight. I'd eat / drink four dozen eggs a day. Drink half a gallon of milk, one or two steaks and a whole chicken every day.

I trained and ate like this for eight years. By then I was seventeen stone with a forty-six inche chest and seventeen inche arms. Cold for those who know what I mean by that. So I had size and strength. I could leg press 1,000 lbs in the gym.

By the time I turned twenty-five I decided to pack it in. I knew I was not going to win anything. The fact is that if you are not willing to take drugs you have no chance!

How often the ambitions of innocent youth are squashed by the harsh light of the real world. Okay I have to admit that I also liked all the eating too much. Pre-contest dieting was HELL! So I put it all behind me. Well the hope of ever lifting a trophy anyway. I continued to train.

I managed to retain a lot of size for several years. When I first met my wife she could only just get her arms around my chest - she had to pick her spot. (She now tells me I'm not the man she married :)

But I did start to loose size. Not having the impetus of an upcoming contest just doesn't give you the drive to train as hard.

Powerlifting. 47 - 52

2014 MAX POWER championships.
All three lifts.
1st place master 2
My medals as of end of 2014.
I've lost some weight since then.
And some facial hair.
My first competitive lift/medal.
1st place master 2 bench press.
Fast forward many years and I am now in my late forties. A new member of staff where I worked told me about how he was a competitive powerlifter. As we talked more about this I started to realise that here was a sport very close to my heart, that I could compete in without the pre-contest dieting.
With his help I joined the NIPF (Nothern Ireland Powerlifting Federation).

Up to then all my training (for the last thirty years) had been bodybuilding, which is usually sets of eight to twelve reps and exercises to hit the muscle from as many different angles as possible.

Powerlifting training is very different. It is lower reps, typically three to five, concentrating on the three lifts with much fewer other exercises (which is powerlifting terms are called 'assistance work'.)

You are training to purely get stronger.
My second competitive lift.
1st plase master 2 deadlift.

So I had to relearn almost everything. A bodybuilding squat is very different from a powerlifting squat. It took me six months to make this change. To retrain my muscles.

I found that I very much enjoyed the training and competing. At the age of fifty I became national champion and record holder in all three lifts, squat, deadlift and bench press.


Bench Press Championships.
22 February 2013
1st place Master 2
Deadlift Championships.
30 March 2013
1st place Master 2
RAW POWER Championships.
All three lifts.
22 November 2013
1st place Master 2
Deadlift Championships.
22 February 2014
1st place Master 2
MAXX POWER Championships.
All three lifts
31 May 2014
1st place Master 2

Instructional videos

I've linked to the below videos because anyone wishing to do weight training / powerlifting can get no better guide than these.
Make Gains in Your
Forties and Beyond
PDF of transcript
How to Squat Right for You
How to Low Bar Squat
How to Bench Press Without
Wrecking Your Shoulders
How to Deadlift
How to Press
Correct use of a weightlifting belt