We recently got a chance to sit down with Simon Gooding of 70/30 fitness. We had a chat about all things fitness, bodybuilding and diets. It was a great chat with a great insight into a competitive natural bodybuilder and a full-time coach. If you want to see more about Simon and 70/30 Fitness visit his links below. For now, let us get on with the interview.
Q: Let’s start with your Journey to the gym, How did 70/30 Fitness get into Fitness?
Well, it kind of all started when I was in school, I was quite a skinny kid growing up and I had always wanted to have a bit of a better shape, you know? You grow up watching Disney films, Hercules and films like that. That’s like the original little bits of inspiration. However, I wasn’t allowed to go to the gym until I was 16, because back then they thought it would stunt your growth if you start training to young. Which is a bit stupid really, because you play sports and all that kind of stuff, but apparently lifting weights is something completely different.
I use to collect the milk bottles from my Mums recycling and fill them up with water and then do curls, lateral raises and press and stuff like that. I got myself a pull-up bar and a few bits like that. Then when I was able to join the gym, that was it then, I was there most days. After school with my mates and got into it and fell in love with it.
Q: Was it bodybuilding from the start or did you just go in there to get fitter?
Most of my sessions were just constant supersets of exercises. It would be more of a circuit style training really, maybe a little bit “CrossFity” at the beginning. Since then my training style has changed a lot now, I don’t really do a lot of high-intensity supersets because it isn’t very good for you. So in the beginning, it was mainly circuits. Lots of Ab training, I use to do weighted planks with like 40kg on my back, stupid stuff like that.
Q: How did that lead to your first show? What made you want to compete?
I decided I wanted to compete after I came back from 14 months of travelling. So, I initially finished 6th form and then decided I didn’t want to go to uni so I was like “I will do something before I go into full-time work”. So, I went travelling for 14 months around South-East Asia, on this ship. I remember when I was first joining this ship I remember thinking “Are they going to have a gym on the ship?” “What am I going to do without a gym?”.
Fortunately, they did have a little set, like they had a barbell and a couple of weights and some pull up bars and some random dumbbells. So a lot of the time I was just training there in the evenings. That was might like, first solid year of taking training a little bit more seriously. So I would be training a little bit harder or a little bit longer, stuff like that. So then I came back from that year, with a better physique, not great but definitely better.
“I came second to the world champion. I was like “Oh for f**k sake”. It was pretty close.”
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After I came back from that year I joined the fire service and sort of developed from there. A lot of the guys I was training within the fire service were like “You got a good physique, you should do something with it!” So I did my first photoshoot and got pretty shredded for it, and at that photoshoot, the photographer said: “You should do a show!” That was already a couple of people that had put it into my mind by then, But it had never been something on m mind initially.
Then a guy that use to go to my gym when I was young, who was competing at the time, I asked him a few questions about it, he was assisted, so it was a different kind of federation, but I thought I would give it a go. I would go to a drug tested federation. Did my first UK show, and I came second to the world champion. I was like “Oh for f**k sake”. It was pretty close. So I did it again the following year and took first in the regional show and then took third in the UK and then it just spiralled from there. I caught the bug!
Q: Would you say competing is something people should give a go? or is it for a certain kind of person?
I don’t think it is for everyone! It is a tough process, both mentally and physically, and it isn’t healthy for you. I think most people accept that when you go into a sport at a more kind of extreme level, for example, marathon running, Marathon running batters your body, it isn’t really good for your body. Doing a competition prep is like that, minus the food, plus the training plus the duration (You are doing like a 20-week prep). It takes it toll on your body and I don’t think it is for everybody.
However, if you do have a passion for training and you want to see what your physique looks like completely peeled, it is an intriguing thing. You build up your physique, you build up the foundation and then you kind of want to see what it looks like when it’s got no body fat on it, it’s just interesting you know?
Q: How did that then lead to 70/30 Fitness coaching? Were you coaching before or after your show?
Well, Initially when I was in my first show I wasn’t even doing any personal training. I was just in the fire service. The possibility of me becoming a personal trainer was there from a young age because I would train with my friends. However, it was more of a “Can we come and train with you?” Kind of thing. Rather than asking them to train with my kind of thing. As I was training for the fire service I found I had a little bit of extra time on my hands, I might as well do another course, so I did a personal training course, and that then spiralled into moving away from the fire service and starting my own business.
From there I had a lot of clients but all around the same area, I found that I had a couple of clients that were moving away, they were moving to South Africa and wanted to keep in contact and wanted me managing them. So I thought I would give online coaching a go. I haven’t ever done it before but I would give it a go. That is where it started. I then started doing little YouTube videos and started to pick up a client here and a client there, and started to build the online side of things.
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It started to get to the point where I thought personal training takes a lot of time, you are travelling to the gym, waiting around for your client, you are managing your schedule around other people schedules so you will always be working early morning and late nights. The more people I pushed to the online side of things the more I could manage my time better, so that is where it turned into online coaching. It kind of organically grew more towards online.
Q: So were you coached for your first show?
No, my first show I literally went onto bodybuilding.com and typed in “contest prep meal plan”. That is all I did. I got pretty lean from it, I was obviously in quite a deep deficit. I remember my second show, I was with a girl at the time and we went away to a sort of car festival or car show sort of thing, and we were camping.
So I had taken all my meal prep meals with me, I had bags of oats and bags of rice and some cooked chicken and stuff like that. Cooking chicken on a little camp stove, That was like two weeks out as well. I couldn’t sleep probably on the blow-up mattress or anything. When you are on prep, you are either really ratty or you just wanna sleep. So, sleeping in a tent with someone, when you didn’t even want to be there in the first place is not fun. I can’t imagine she was very happy with that weekend.
Q: Would you say that is a side of competing that people overlook? Your social life?
Yeah definitely! Definitely! I think a lot of people go into it not really expecting it as well as most people go into it thinking “I will be able to manage it”. All my shows since then I said to my family, my friend and everyone around me I have said: “look, the next 20 weeks, if I am a bit of a d**k, just try to understand that I’m not trying to be! I am starving myself!”
Q: I am trying to live on 1500 calories, so might be grumpy!
Exactly! Although I am very fortunate in the number of calories in which my body can take. I have a very high maintenance calorie but even still a deficit is a deficit, you are still dragging yourself through it.
“I think having the gym closed has created some more challenges, however, where there is a will there is a way”
Q: So what is your current split? Considering Coronavirus has skewed things a bit
My training split for the last 3 and a half years has been legs, push, pull, rest. Legs, push, pull, rest. So it is an 8 day training week. Which, in some ways is a little bit annoying but works very well with my schedule because I can change my schedule. So if I am training on a weekend doesn’t really matter. I love Legs, push, pull. I think previously to that I was doing an upper, lower, push, pull and legs, but I think my body could take a little bit extra. So I added in that additional day and I wanted to work on my legs a little bit more.
Q: Looking at your Instagram you have good access to equipment, Do you think lockdown has effected a lot of peoples workouts?
I think it has! Think having the gym closed has created some more challenges, however, where there is a will there is a way. I know it is like cheesy but you can find training equipment, buy or even make training equipment. I have been doing rows and overhead press with those recycling bags you can get, I just fill them with wood and do curls or something with it. Grab some weighted vests online, they’re not expensive. Find some pull-up bars and resistance bands.
Go out and get some calisthenic rings. You know those Olympic Rings, They are super handy. You can get a really good chest and shoulder workout with those. People tend to take the easy route. If there is a small challenge there people will be like “ah, I give up”. No, there levels to this.
Q: What would you say is a forgotten part of bodybuilding? What do people overlook when they get into the sport?
There is kind of like “phases”. So, you first have people getting into training and they will train every day and they eat super clean and then they get to the point where they think “I can’t do this anymore”. Well no S**t, They aren’t creating a sustainable approach! Training every day will result in injury and you are going to be bored. Eating super clean every day? You aren’t going to be able to sustain it because people have lives.
Some people drop off at that stage, but then other people go into the next stage, they understand they need to recover, you need to put in more “fun food”. So they then develop into that. Then some people from that point go into the If it Fits Your Macro’s (IIFYM) vibe and eats chocolate and stuff like that for the majority of their diets.
In my 2017 prep, I kind of did that to kind of prove that you can get ridiculously shredded and eat absolute s**t. I think I ate 120 grams of sugar minimum every single day. Which I wouldn’t advise people doing on competition prep, but it was interesting to see. That is something I do with my preps, I like to spice it up a little bit. Have something to prove as well as the prep, so it’s not just a prep. It is proving a point and experimenting with your body.
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Then from there, people tend to go across and then find a little bit more balance in their life. That is the biggest thing people need to understand. Go into it with a sustainable approach. I had this girl message me on Instagram saying “I am going to start running every day. It’s my New Years resolution”. I was like, hold up! Nobody runs every day if you run every single day you are going to end up injuring yourself. You have to build up to that if you wanted to run every day, eventually, you could. However, you have to think, I am going to train, then I am going to rest, train, rest etc. You build it up otherwise your body will be battered. Your body requires recovery!
“You can achieve your physique eating McDonald’s, but will it be as healthy as eating some rice or some steak?”
Q: You touched on IIFYM, do you think people use it as an excuse to eat rubbish?
Oh Yeah! Definitely! Things like Fibre, Vitamins and minerals are all important, not just Protein, fats and carbs. People start to look at food as just protein, fats and carbs. In a sense, you can achieve your physique by doing this, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you will become healthier doing it. There are healthy fats and there are unhealthy fats. There are also healthy and unhealthy protein sources, but it is all a balance.
I think in the if it fits you macros community they don’t like the “Bad food” sort of label. Which I kind of get, it can create a bit of an unhealthy relationship with food. However, there is also “Healthy food” and also “healthier food” then “unhealthy food”, people have to understand the foods you can eat and the foods you should eat. You can achieve your physique eating McDonald’s, but will it be as healthy as eating some rice or some steak? It is all a balance.
Q: So what is in the pipeline next? For competitions?
Well, I was going to compete last year, but I thought “What’s the point”. With everything going on with COVID I thinking if there will be anyone at the shows, If the turnouts not great you won’t feel like you have achieved a “proper win”. Also, it isn’t very good for your immune system going into a competition prep. So if you are at risk, I know I would be ok, but you are putting yourself more at risk. So I don’t know. I was thinking about competing this year but we will see what happens. Nothing is cemented in the ground yet. if it happens and it is the right then I will, if not I will just keep growing. Nothing wrong with that.
Q: Did you watch the Olympia this year?
I did yeah! It was a phenomenal turn out this year. I thought big Rammy was looking absolutely monstrous. I have never seen a hamstring like that on someone. Chris Bumstead as well absolutely blew the lights out on this show!
Q: The change this show, his back has come on massively!
Honestly, his progress in a year is phenomenal! His back and his biceps are ridiculous! Huge amount of improvement there!
Q: He is his own worst critic isn’t he?
You have to be at this sport, if you want to be the best of the best. You need to be!
Q: I guess the sport makes you vain
That’s a good one, I don’t think it is necessarily true. In some ways being into bodybuilding and being a critic of your physique can kind of separate you from your physique. So you are not looking at it from a vanity point.
Say for example I painted an awesome picture, and I went “Look at this picture”, Is that me being vain? I get where people come from when they say it is vanity, I do. However, it is also an art. Bodybuilding. You are creating and sculpting your physique.
Q: Do you think it gets a bad rep? Steroids and certain people?
I think there are certain people in the industry that give it a really bad rep. For good reason as well! There are people out there that will take your money and give you a cookie-cutter program. They’ve got an inflated ego, they think they are the dogs b******s. However, there are people in every industry that create a bad wrap for it. I think it is up to the individuals that have a bit more respect for the sport and the industry to kind of show that it can also be a positive thing. It isn’t all inflated egos and aggression, that kind of stuff. It all depends on who you are looking at in the industry.
Q: Back to body building, What is your favourite? Open or Classic?
I have always preferred the balance look over just the mass. Like, Frank Zane back in the day. I find the classic physiques a little more intriguing. it’s nicer to look at really, I get open. It is all about mass and adding the size. They have changed it a lot now, in the last few years, The bubble gut has been cut down a lot more. You aren’t having as much of the distension through the abdominals just to try to get the huge amount of mass.
I am more of a classic man. I like the classic posing as well, it is a little bit more like ballet. it’s more “flowy” and looks nicer. I like the vacuum.
Q: Even the physique class has picked up now
Yeah, the Physique class has always been popular, especially in competing. You will see a bodybuilding line up and there are maybe, 20 or 30 people, whereas with the physique there are more of 40-50 people in a show, Depending on the federation obviously. However, it is normally the physique that is the more popular one. As well like, you not in tiny little pants. So people feel al little bit more comfortable doing it in board shorts.
“They just go out every weekend and smash loads of other drugs, but they also inject gear to get themselves to look half decent.”
Q: How do you feel about the whole Natty or Not vibe going round?
I don’t watch that much YouTube fitness anymore. Back in the day when I was coming up, getting into the industry, I would watch a lot of Scott Hern and Matt Ogus and stuff like that, but the natty or not thing is difficult. You never really know. You can never really look at somebody, even looking at their BMI, it is never a sign to say if they are or aren’t on steroids.
The only way would have to do a blood test to actually be able to know. Some people go to my gym that you would look at and think they were natural. They just go out every weekend and smash loads of other drugs, but they also inject gear to get themselves to look half decent. You would look at them and think they aren’t on steroids, because he doesn’t look huge, but he actually is.
So from that side of the perspective, someone might not look like they are but might be on steroids. On the flip side there are some natty’s out there that you would think can’t be natural but he is. Genetics does play a huge part in it. It is spreading a little bit of negativity and hate. It is also spreading that you shouldn’t always assume someone is natural. So it is a balance again, I personally wouldn’t do it. Do you really want to be known as that person who just calls people out? I personally wouldn’t!
Q: I guess the issue also comes when they are lying and making money from people?
Yeah, when they are selling programs saying “you could look like this” that is an issue. There should be a little side of education as well. If anyone is looking at a training program and thinking they are going to go from a skinny dude into a ripped dude in 6 weeks. What are you doing! Your body can’t change that quickly.
Q: What would you say in the last year is the one thing you have changed in your training/Diet?
I am doing a lot more variations in my training, Working with strength profiles. So looking at how a muscle shortens and working with that range of movement. For example, the lat is a lot stronger when it is lengthened and weaker when it is shortened. So picking movements that match that strength profile. Same with the pec. Having movements that give you a bit more of a contraction through the middle and comes off at the furthest point of the movement. I am doing that a lot more with my training.
In terms of my recovery, that is something I have changed a lot recently. Stress management! That is a big one! Coming towards the evening and not working, switching off from work. Making sure I am doing something to wind down. I think that has been a huge benefit for my training and mental health.
I would say I have decent mental health anyway, but for training, recovery and stress management. Those have been next-level things. Things like not watching so much TV, doing more creative things like painting and drawing and stuff like that. Obviously, Covid gives you a little extra time, but it is nice to be able to do extra things to wind down and zen!
In terms of my food, I have been having a lot more liquid food, things like smoothies. Just because it is a lot easier to get in. There have been times I have blended chicken and rice. It turns it into a thick soup. I wouldn’t recommend it but you got to do what you have to do.
Q: Do you feel that recover is overlooked? It tends to be the last thing people look at
Definitely, That is one of the biggest things my clients tend to talk about. I had a message the other day from one of my clients. She was like “I don’t think I would of de-loaded, like even if I hadn’t started with you”. De-loading and structuring your training so that you got some periods where you focus a little bit more on recovery and rest. It allows you to continue to train as you would.
I have been training solidly for like the last 4 and a half years with a structure to everything and I have not had an injury. I haven’t had a point in my training where I have had to not train unless it was for like an illness or something.
It’s all planned in a way. I prefer it that way. Some people like to do it a bit more of a reaction. They start to feel battered or exhausted and then they de-load. however, for me, my training cycle usually lasts for like 6-7 weeks and then I will de-load. I have found that to be my optimal area. If I go much further than that I start to think about double scooping pre-workout.
Q: I agree, I do think Recovery is massively underrated!
There are now more supplements tailored to recover. Like support max, which is a Strom sports supplement, it has Ashwagandha and natural extracts in it which basically, helps brings your central nervous system back into a parasympathetic state. So you are more relaxed. Which is huge for muscle recovery. If your body is relaxed and you are no stressed, then your body will have the energy to add some muscle. If you are uptight and your heart rate is elevated then your body isn’t happy and your body won’t waste energy putting on muscle. Why would it? it’s got bigger priorities.
Q: Thanks for joining, Where can people find 70/30 Fitness?
Instagram and YouTube, I need to up my game again on YouTube. I will get some more videos going up on there again soon. Lockdown has effected my motivations for making YouTube videos.
Thanks to Simon for taking the time to sit down with us to discuss everything about bodybuilding and his 70/30 fitness brand. The chat was very insightful and helpful. We have some more plans with Simon, but we will have to wait till the restrictions ease up before we can proceed with them. As we have said if you want to see more of Simon and 70/30 Fitness, then check out his links below.
70/30 Fitness Links:
We have a few interviews lined up and there will be more and more getting posted. Please follow us over on Instagram to keep up to date!
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.