We recently had the chance to catch up and have a chat with Colin Campbell. Colin works a full-time job while running a Fitness Instagram on the side and also maintaining his fitness and physique. We had a chance to catch up with him and find out more about his day to day life, Tips for fitting in training around work and also some of his biggest pet peeves. So let us get right into it with our first question.
Colin Campbell's Background and Work
Q: What is your full time Job?
A: I work for the biggest insurance broker in the world, We deal primarily with corporate businesses with high turnovers. What we do is give them risk management advice, We help them understand how much of their risk they should manage, how much they should pay for an insurance policy to cover them and how much of it they can retain themselves and accept that maybe some small losses will happen which they can pay for from their funds. So it is all about Risk management. Rather than just saying how much is your building worth we will insure it for X, its a wider piece.
How did the Fitness Journey Start
Q: So how did Colin Campbell get into fitness? How did it all start?
A: I have always been sporty as a kid and that was a mixture of things, Mostly Rugby from about the age of 9 or 10. My dad played rugby so it was the natural pathway. I played football but wasn’t good at all. My Grampa was a very famous footballer for Rangers but the talent did not work its way down to me at all, so I was primarily into rugby, played a little bit of tennis, but golf and rugby were my main sports in my teenage years. Rugby was the pathway into the gym because as you get older, everyone is growing at different rates due to puberty and whatnot, as you get to 15-16 you need to work towards being able to physically play against men. Some of your counterparts are men by the age of 17-18.
What about Bodybuilding?
In terms of the side of fitness I am into now, Purely Atheistic and lifting weight, That probably started as I finished my first year at University, I was still playing rugby for my club that I played for as a junior, but now playing for the men’s team. I was continually getting issues with my shoulder, I was getting several issues, injuries and a lot of pain. I was still lifting weights maybe three days a week. Playing rugby on a Saturday but training on a Tuesday and Thursday. I was going to see the physio at the club, We were lucky to have that physicality, and she was saying to me that it is funny because I was making my shoulder worse with some of the stuff I was doing in the gym.
This is a broad statement but some physio’s don’t get it and tell you to stop training or take a break, this physio was a lot better and gave me some corrective exercises. The issue was that I had an incredibly strong chest and could bench press a lot. At 17 I was benching around 80kg for 6-7 Reps and weighed like 65kg at the time. So I was strong for my weight.
Where was the issue?
The program at the club they gave us was decent but there wasn’t a lot of work on the external rotation of the shoulder. There was pull up and chin-ups so you got a bit of work on your back, but there wasn’t any work on your rear delts or your rotor cuff and warming up. So I effectively created an imbalance between the front of my body and the back of my body, and my shoulder was rebelling big time, and with Rugby being a contact sport, it was only making things worse. I would wake up and my shoulder would be so painful.
The physio gave me some corrective exercises, and some warm-up exercises and tips to stretch and loosen the shoulder out throughout the day and with the advice, I should train back more. Which was a massive lesson at that time and one I try to share with Instagram now.
In terms of the side of fitness I am into now, Purely Atheistic and lifting weight, That probably started as I finished my first year at University, I was still playing rugby for my club that I played for as a junior, but now playing for the men’s team. I was continually getting issues with my shoulder, I was getting several issues, injuries and a lot of pain. I was still lifting weights maybe three days a week.
Playing rugby on a Saturday but training on a Tuesday and Thursday. I was going to see the physio at the club, We were lucky to have that physicality, and she was saying to me that it is funny because I was making my shoulder worse with some of the stuff I was doing in the gym. This is a broad statement but some physio’s don’t get it and tell you to stop training or take a break, this physio was a lot better and gave me some corrective exercises.
The issue was that I had an incredibly strong chest and could bench press a lot. At 17 I was benching around 80kg for 6-7 Reps and weighed like 65kg at the time. So I was strong for my weight. The program at the club they gave us was decent but there wasn’t a lot of work on the external rotation of the shoulder, There was pull up and chin-ups so you got a bit of work on your back, but there wasn’t any work on your rear delts or your rotor cuff and warming up.
So I effectively created an imbalance between the front of my body and the back of my body, and my shoulder was rebelling big time, and with Rugby being a contact sport, it was only making things worse. I would wake up and my shoulder would be so painful. The physio gave me some corrective exercises, and some warm-up exercises and tips to stretch and loosen the shoulder out throughout the day and with the advice, I should train back more. Which was a massive lesson at that time and one I try to share with Instagram now.
How did the Fitness Journey Start Continue……
Q: Would you say that your training with your rugby carried through to your training now? Do you try to “keep fit” or more bodybuilding based?
A: Good question! For the last, 7 or 8 years it has been very much focused on bodybuilding and atheistic. I can still move quite well when I am in that space but not as well as someone who specialises in that space. I’m not an athlete and is something I am looking to address at the stage that I am at now.
I don’t have that compassion for competing, however, my training has been geared towards atheistic’s for several years now. Although I’m healthy, I am not particularly fit, I am lean and efficient but not fit so to say. I do a lot of work in the higher rep range (20+) which is not the case for a lot of the people who train bodybuilding style but I like that and helps a bit with an aerobic perspective, but not as much as it I was a runner.
Current Fitness Goals - Maybe competing?
Q: Do you have any current fitness goals? Are you looking to compete in the future?
A: That is a very good question because I am at a stage where a lot of people, due to my Instagram, think I want to be competitive, I certainly got learn enough, or close to lean enough before, and I certainly have enough muscle mass to compete in a natural category (So on Non-Steroid Use men physic) and for me, it’s never been a huge passion to go up on the stage, I like to compete against myself a lot.
If I was to do a show I think it would be a significant investment on making sure I could present my physique in regard with posing and the stage routine, And I can’t say I have ever been that passionate about that and it’s not been a focus for my time. Dieting side of things, because I have dieted so many times to get lean, I don’t think it would be a challenge outside of those last couple of week, I have gotten very lean for holidays before, The last couple of weeks would be very tough, but I have a lot of habits and routines that would make me “good” at dieting., but no passion for doing shows, I am competitive but not competing.
At this stage, I am considering looking at other forms of fitness as well. So I many be transition some of my training towards a more functional CrossFit style, Not saying I will be a pure CrossFit athlete from now on but in the future, I will be looking at including some more functional movements and moving away from a pure bodybuilding training routine. I am at a stage now where I have got a lot from bodybuilding and that style of training and I might want to try something else. I believe I have the right to do that after 8 years or so it’s not a decision I have taken lightly.
Trying new Things - CrossFit?
Q: Do you think that is a natural progression of people at the gym? Begin the gym, go into Bodybuilding then end up trying other things
A: I have spoken about this with many friends and on our podcast, where we have spoken about this concept of “Fitness Menopause”. You have been into bodybuilding, seen that initial gain in muscle, learnt a lot about how your body responds to bulking, cutting and dieting and how that works. The entry-level to bodybuilding is fairly low in regards to the movements. People moving over to a more CrossFit or Functional side is probably to challenge us more in the movements and skills. So yeah, I think it is a natural progression unless you get a real passion for competing or somebody that doesn’t get bored easily! I could rinse and repeat bodybuilding and not get bored!
Q: I am polar opposite, I get bored after like 3-4 weeks
A: Really? I could rinse and repeat for ages! There has been periods trying and blocks with the same movements and the same program for about a year. Which is very good for bodybuilding because you can drain all progression out of a certain movement or program.
I built my entire physique on Bodybuilding so if someone was to see me in a years time and I was doing CrossFit, people might assume that CrossFit got me there. Which is unlikely we will have to wait and see. The top-level CrossFit guys are in fantastic shape, but the bodybuilding foundations set the foundations that I have got, which I am pleased with.
Thoughts On CrossFit
Q: Do you think CrossFit gets a bad name
A: It definitely does! I think it’s because of the gym fail videos and also because some of the principles are flawed. Where you got some high level and technical movements for time, it can bring an injury element into it. If you have a coach that knows you and what your body is capable of then the injury prevention should be there. I do think CrossFit is a great time-efficient way to work in. You can get to the gym, do the workout of the day and get out. This is all coming from a very, very small experience with it so I am not an authority on it. But it does get a bad rep.
How Colin Campbell Balances Work and Fitness
Q: How do you find a balance with your work and Fitness? Hours and Schedule?
A: My hours are 9-5 but to do my job fully, sometimes I need to be in a bit earlier. So I do go in early. My job can be stressful, Meetings, Hours and Commute and add up, but fitting training in is a challenge with anyone that works 9-5 and beyond that. But once you make it a priority, you can defiantly find an hour or 45 minutes to train within your working day.
One of the considerations I will say, Is convenience. So when I’m fitting in the workout or training sessions, I think about how convenient the gym is as well. You need to remember that the time travelling and commuting to and from the gym for your house or work (Wherever it might be) adds up as well. You could be a member of the absolute best gym, with the best equipment, but if it takes you 40 minutes from work to get there and another 20 minutes to go from gym to home, you have added another hour to your day. So what about the gym that’s 5 minutes from your work or home. You have then straight away reduced your commute.
I have changed gym due to my job and I have flexible membership due to a resource called Hustle online, which has helped me get into different when travelling. convenience is king. If you don’t make easy to get to the gym then when you have a busy day and time is tight, you will miss the gym if it isn’t easy to get there.
What is his diet and Meal timings like?
Q: Diets! What is your diet like? 3, 4, 5 Meals?
A: So, working in an office, it is easy to have set meals time, if you enforce them! I have done things like intermitting fasting, where I had an open window from around 12 mid-day till around 8 o clock at night. That can be a good way to manage a diet for workers who are busy in the morning.
My approach now, I am a big fan of waking and drinking some water. I get into the office at around 8:15-8:30 am and I will have a Protein base meal (Protein Shake) with some fruit or dark chocolate. That would be “Breakfast”. I aim for a good protein source and daily low carb. All depends on your goal and calories. That will be me through until 12-12:30 pm, when I will have some lunch, Again, I will always bring that in with me because failing to prepare, is preparing to fail! 1. it is cheaper than going out and buying lunch, and 2. it is more convenient to have your lunch there.
My lunch will be a protein with veg, So chicken with a vegetable or some kind, Green beans or carrot. I will also have some fruit again with that, Maybe some raisins or sultans, apple for Kiwi. A good way to get your protein up, but also fill you up. This is different for everyone, but as I tend to train in the evening this is my approach. I always make time around 3-3:30 pm to have a meal and treat it as my pre-workout meal.
People that eat their lunch at 12-1 pm then train at 5 and don’t have anything in between are selling themselves short in terms of performance, energy levels and also you are setting yourself up to binge when you get home from work. You are going to be starving. So that 3-3:30 pm meal will be where the carbohydrate will start to come in to fuel my training. So it might be some oats and protein, Might be cereal or a protein bar. With this meal, some kind of protein source and a good portion of carbs to fuel my workout. That’s the main approach for meals when I’m at work.
I have three meals when I’m in the office, and don’t tend to get too hungry as I am eating a lot of those meals to make sure I’m not snacking on any of the other snacks in the office, like the doughnuts Sharon has brought in for her birthday. I would typically train after work, head to the gym, train and on the way home have a protein bar and a form of carb. Then when I get home, I have my dinner. That evening meal will be again, a protein source with a carb source and some veg. Veg is important to bulk out the volume and fill you up.
Q: Do you aim to hit your macros or aim for a ball park? Do you track Sauces and extras?
A: I am rather strict with my calories and macros, it helps me stay in shape all year round. My current goals are to gain some weight and size. I do these phases slow and steady, it is hard for me to point on lean muscle at this point. Over the years my metabolism has gone up as well as my activity level, I am pretty active through training and walking and moving a lot. So my calories at the moment are around 3800-4000 a day. Which I will times by 7 and say that is my weekly Goal.
How Much Protein?
There are times when you are busy and won’t eat as much or times when your boss wants to take you out for lunch and you have to swap some calories around. I have a daily calorie goal and a daily protein goal, I aim to hit at least 1g of protein per pound of body weight. So I eat around 170-200g of protein a day. It tends to end up higher when I’m this number of calories as you get a lot of excess protein from things like bagels and pasta. My carbs tend to be a lot higher than my fats but that is just a preference of taste but also I feel my body respond better to Carbs than fats.
Q: Sounds like you have got it all planned out! As you have said, Tried and tested
A: I believe that anyone that has a fitness goal would benefit from a period of strict tracking! I could go through a period of not tracking and know that I could lose weight because I know what is in most of the food I typically eat, and I know what a meal for me should look like. So, weighing your food and tracking for a period I would recommend to everyone, for a period anyway. The knowledge you gain from that is extremely useful.
What is Colin Campbell's current training Split?
Q: So, what is your training split looking like at the moment?
A: I would normally train 5-6 days a week and it would normally be a push/pull/legs split. So push is Chest, shoulder and Tri’s, Pull being the back and Biceps and legs being overall legs. I aim to hit each muscle twice a week and on the weeks I only train 5 times, I tend to only have one leg day as my legs are the strength of my physique. Previously that wouldn’t have been the case, I would have done Legs, Push, Pull, Legs and then I would have done an Upper. So I was making sure I was hitting legs twice.
Q: What is your favourite training day?
A: I would have to say pull. I’m not a massive fan of training Chest due to my injuries in the past. Pull is great because you are moving a lot of load because your back is a very strong muscle, I’m also pretty good at pull Up’s which makes it a fun muscle group to train. Also in terms of look and big, strong, thick and wide back is a nice asset to have. Weirdly I do like training legs as most people don’t train them hard, so when you do train them hard you set yourself apart by having more developed quads and hamstring as other guys.
Colin’s Gym and Fitness Peeves?
Q: What is your biggest gym peeve?
A: I have a few, so we shall go through them. Number one! I go to a lot of gyms due to work and Instagram, and when I see personal trainers taking a session with a client and they are on their phone it winds me up. It is not expectable. In my opinion, if you are on your phone while you are with your client, and you are not filming them to show form etc, That’s not helping anyone and is unacceptable! If you were paying for a service and you were sat on your phone during a meeting, that wouldn’t fly, it would be unacceptable.
Another pet peeve is in a busy gym and you are training with a partner, Say you and I were training a push session in a gym and the first movement was Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press. Logic would dictate that you and I would share a bench, and I would do my set, then while I rested you done your set. Sometimes you see in a busy gym people training together and using two benches next to each other, or both using a set of 24 kg dumbbells, it is a really inefficient way of using the gym and its equipment. Both of my peeves come down to etiquette and manners, might be an insight into my mind!
Would he go full time into Fitness
Q: Is fitness something you would want to get into full time?
A: At the moment no. I am still passionate about the industry I am in. I still get a buzz from booking a meeting with a client who I have never felt with. At the moment fitness isn’t the same for me. I have never really done Coaching or PT so I wouldn’t want to take a step back from the career I am in now unless there was an offer I couldn’t refuse or my mind shifted entirely. I like it as a side hustle at the moment.
What would Colin tell younger Colin Campbell?
Q: What is something you would tell younger Colin Campbell now about fitness?
A: From an injury perspective, I would tell him to focus more on his entire body rather than just the muscle you could see in the mirror, as that caused me some injuries. From a nutrition perspective, I would tell him about the power tracking calories has! I saw the most change in my body when I started tracking calories. You can train as hard as you want, but without the right nutrition, you Aren’t going to get anywhere.
Was great to catch up with Colin Campbell and have a good chat! We will have to organise a workout session with him soon! If you want to see or hear more of Colin Campbell you can check out his Instagram and Fitness Podcast using the links below.
Written by Kieran Blacker
Kieran is the CEO and Founder of Sets & Reps. He decided to make an application that helped people get a gym workout when not at the gym. He designed, Coded and built the application himself.