Sci-MX fitness challenge: Sport360 writers take on eight-week training programme

Two men, with very different goals, backed by two of the best trainers in the business - how will they fare?

Sport360 Writers 2018/05/22

Sport360° duo Alex Rea and Dan Owen are not only colleagues, but training partners. They’ve now teamed up with Sci-MX Nutrition to embark on an eight-week fitness challenge, working alongside industry

experts to achieve two very different goals. Track their progress each week and see everything from training to nutrition and the lifestyle changes they will be making in search of success.

Dan Owen – @myproplife

When it comes to training, my regime has been pretty regular – lift heavy, lift often, avoid cardio.

I have been a five-day-a-week man when it comes to the gym – training bodyparts on separate days with a mix of heavy compound exercises and some lighter accessory work.

And to be fair, it worked. I’m strong. But on the flip side, slow, and have zero cardio.

All this became abundantly clear when, earlier this year, I returned to playing rugby after a twelvemonth hiatus. As a prop, my jobs are pretty simple – scrummage well, lift in the lineout, and work around the field hitting rucks and carrying a little in attack, and plenty of defensive involvement. It’s tough work, and even tougher when you’re fatigued.

When I joined Dubai Eagles in March I found myself able to scrummage pretty well with the strength built on a year of powerlifting and strongman-style training – but lacking in the ability to sustain the power and continue at a decent level for the duration of a game.

At 35, I am not getting any younger and want to be able to maximise my playing days – if I could get a couple of seasons playing at the top level in the UAE I’d be a happy man.

The key for me in the next eight weeks is firstly to greatly improve the cardio capacity, and my overall explosiveness – I have strength, we need to add speed of movement to that.

With an increase in cardio training, there is a risk I could lose a few pounds. Previously I would have been terrified at this thought but I’m now comfortable with that as long as the strength stays in tact – bulk is important in my position but if I can become a better athlete, a few pounds is neither here nor there.

This is an opportunity to get in the sort of pre-season shape I have wanted to for years – now it’s time to get it done.

Alex Rea @AlexReaFitness

Training has almost exclusively been a route to two main and rudimentary goals for me – to be strong and to look good.

Indeed, among the many who take up an athletic endeavour, the formative thoughts pointed to a very narrow-minded ambition but it is within the last 12 months training has begun to evolve.

Entering the final phase of my 20s, the ego has taken a back seat with learning and development the driving forces.

Now, the obvious problem is that there are a plethora of preachers, influencers and voices across the internet so plotting the right course is predictably difficult, especially when you’re balancing the pressures of a professional lifestyle.

As a result, the structure to training has been routine and pretty rigid, five days a week, minimal cardio aside from 11-a-side football with gym sessions mirroring Mr Owen in the form of training individual bodyparts on separate days.

Compound lifts form the fulcrum of training with accessory work complimenting but my approaches to both have been relatively counterproductive.

The more bodybuilding-focused movements are relatively short on tempo and rep-range while the lack of structure to deadlifts, bench press and squats has resulted in far too much ‘ego-lifting’.

Naturally, that’s led to severe injuries with a torn hamstring dogging much of 2018 and if there are three pillars of development I’m looking for during this eight-week challenge, it’s injury prevention, nutritional guidance and structure.

From a technique perspective, my lifts and movements are sound, but diet is typically poor, an offshoot of limited knowledge and simply not knowing what fuel my body requires to remain lean.

For me, this challenge is more about the process than it is the end result. Learning more about training and nutrition is crucial mentally, coming down to a low body-fat percentage while retaining muscle is the physical goal – I hope the combination of the two amounts to a more rounded version of myself.

Meet The Coaches

Aaron Agnew – @aaronagnew_dubaifitness

Sci-MX athlete Aaron Agnew is a WBFF pro body builder, a CSCS strength coach, and Dubai-based PT. The Canadian, also plays ice hockey, and is a lifetime-natural athlete. He will be working with Alex for the eight-week period

The key principles will be:

Tempo: Keeping reps high and rest periods low will mean the intensity of weight sessions is pushed to the max. Alex already has a strong physique so one of the keys will be keeping lean muscle mass while dieting and this will certainly help that.

Shocking the system: The way Alex’s program is laid out will mean he can train every body part twice per week, this will enable us to attack muscles from different angles and in different methods in order to get the lean, defined look we want.

Diet: The eight weeks will be about getting lean and allowing Alex’s muscle mass to really show through. This will be done through a strict diet that will see the calories drop as we progress. There will be lots of protein, lots of vegetables and salad, and relatively low carbs.

John Britton

Sci-MX athlete John Britton is Head Coach/Manager at F45 Training Motor City – a high intensity functional training facility that is aimed at anyone looking to get in shape, move better, and improve their overall

condition. Like Aaron, he too is Canadian, and a hockey player and is a national-level weightlifter. He will be working with Dan on his goals.

The key principles will be:

Conditioning: We are going to be working on those things that really make you breathe heavily. This will be working on maintaining output over a period of time, and being able to maintain power.

Power: We have a strong base to work from so we are going to be adding in some explosive movements to work on power. Eight weeks is a short time in terms of strength building but there will be elements of week-on-week progression.

Get leaner: With the goals being based around sport we are not necessarily looking to lose weight – but doing so is not a problem. With added conditioning and a diet of eating good, natural foods there is the opportunity to get a touch leaner.

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