We recently got the chance to sit down and have a chat with the amazing TMCycles. Some of you might know Tom from his YouTube content or his social media and some of you might know him from coaching and his contests. We had a chance to sit down and talk to TMCycles about everything Fitness, business and also his future plans. So let us dive straight into the TMCycles interview.
Q: How are you today Tom?
I am good thanks, Not to bad! Coping just about with this third lockdown that is happening.
Q: How did you get into Fitness? What made you go to the my for the first time?
It was about the time I started watching the film “Bronson”, the film about Charlie Bronson. In my mind, I was like I have got to replicate the way Tom Hardy looks. I get very attached to different characters and so I took it upon myself to start going to the gym and bulking up, but doing it incorrectly and just eating garbage amounts of food to get bigger. I started to take it seriously when I met Luke Johnson at Lewisham College.
So I did a 12-month apprenticeship at Lewisham College for Gym management and personal training. It was about that time where I had met Luke and it was entering the world of science-based and scientifically backed data and research so it kind of opened up a new realm of bodybuilding in terms of training and nutrition and supplementation. So yeah, it was kind of around 2012 where I started taking it seriously.
Q: So 2012 is where you went into more Bodybuilding and wanted to be a bodybuilder?
Yeah, I think my first show was around 2015 maybe. I entered as a junior. Then I took a year out, then I went and done back to back shows, then I took another year out and then I am competing this year in June.
Q: What made you go for your first show?
It was something I wanted to experience! It’s the sort of dedication needed and I think it was about the time it could have gone two ways. I could have continued to go out on Thursday, Friday and Saturdays and drinking and things like that or let’s buckle up a little bit and start to take things more seriously and see what the bodybuilding side of things can do. Also, see how that can benefit and impact positively on the business. So it was like I had kind of exhausted that kind of 16-17-year-old lifestyle. Let’s look at trying to dedicate into a different path.
Q: Were you coached for your first show?
I was yeah! Luke coached me for my first show, and then he was kind of on and off for the second show, and then I kind of did my own prep, which is not the best idea. I am now under the guidance of Calum, who’s starting prep with me on February the 1st. The offseason just gone has been magnificent so very much looking forwards to having that accountability and guidance throughout a prep!
Q: I have been seeing the photos and your off season has been insane this year!
Yeah! I appreciate it! We are starting about 8kg heavier compared to other off season or prep starts, and managing around 110kg on the scales currently which is unheard of for someone like me.
Q: So when did you make the jump to be enhanced?
Same sort of mindset! When I was around 16-17! I thought, time to stop doing that and time to pump some time and effort into this. It has always been this very interesting field and topic. It is slightly taboo. The things I can’t have I tend to want the most. So I was like let me do some research before jumping on, and by research not the kind of archetypal stance on what you should be doing in terms of dosage and things like that.
It was like, I am going to jump into it and see how it gets on. I am going to document my progress for those that are kind of intrigued and want and understanding of what it is like. From there it kind of snowballed into using that as my kind of unique selling point for being a YouTuber really.
“I feel sorry for the people that live, sleep and breath bodybuilding and their whole life depends on a top 3 or top 2 or a first place.”
Q: You mentioned bodybuilding, 2019 Bodypower you didn’t place, do you feel the judging is weird or wrong at the moment?
Definitely, in a certain federation, there will be a lot of ass licking and brown-nosing by certain competitors by the judges and this constant need to be noticed. Tagging in federations and tagging in judges. There is always going to be that political element to bodybuilding, it is always going to be there. Luckily I am in the position where I don’t need to place high in shows for me to make a living. Mine is more so the enjoyment out of prep.
I feel sorry for the people that live, sleep and breath bodybuilding and their whole life depends on a top 3 or top 2 or a first place. Even the likes of Josh and Joe. Joe being an IFBB Pro, and Josh undoubtedly getting his pro card, 100%.
Even with the way they have set themselves in the industry it isn’t all or nothing if they place or don’t place because the business and brand they have created, aside from bodybuilding, is so strong. So there is always going to be that element, in most sports. You can kind of understand, if you are a brand you want a winner or someone to be associated with that brand who is “squeaky clean” and is a good role model.
Q: What would you say going into this years prep is the biggest thing you learnt and the biggest change you are going to do?
Just mindset! The mindset to train and carry over the intensity. Carrying over that accuracy and carrying over that religious routine, day in and day out. Whereas previous preps I have got in decent condition in the first 8 weeks, and then thought I will just cruise into the show and it is just the completely wrong mindset to have.
The previous two preps have been in the mindset of “I can’t wait to look good in Ibiza”, or “I can’t wait to look good on Holiday”. We are overshooting the point here, You have a show, you shouldn’t be concerned about what you look like on holiday. So the previous two preps have been for totally the wrong reason and different headspace and mindsets. However, I now feel like I have affirmed myself in the industry, the member’s sites doing well, the YouTube is doing well even the Instagram is doing well (All links below). It is very much, I have built the foundations and now I am ready to build apron it.
Q: Would you say that competing is something people need to give a go?
Not necessarily! I think if you are an online coach or you want to step into the world of online coaching then it is a fantastic way to understand the intricacies into manipulating nutrition and training and understanding stress management. But it is not a necessity! There are some brilliant online coaches out there that haven’t competed.
If a part of you is incredibly dedicated and does have that OCD like routine, then sure why not. I think it’s only going to benefit you as an athlete, Benefit you as a person. Especially if your primary concern is getting bigger in the future then using a contest prep to strip back as much fat as possible then ushering it as a “rebound” phases. Then it’s always going to be strong.
Especially as a brand as well. utilising condition and the look you have when competing is huge! You have to, and many of us do, kind of whore ourselves out when competing. You are in good nick and you won’t stay like that all year round but in terms of content creation you are looking at photographs for Instagram, Websites for posts and YouTube content, banners and thumbnails. So, I don’t think it is a necessity but I think it would benefit someone massively.
Q: So going into prep this year, what is your current split and diet looking like?
Just how Coronavirus has effected training, I have had to step away from my split I was doing at Crayford. I don’t have the benefit of the boys around me at the moment, we have kind of split up. Which is a little upsetting because we have had such a good run together. We know that we will meet again at the end of March, the start of April, Hopefully, when Gyms do reopen.
In terms of split currently, we are on a push, pull, legs, rest, upper, lower, rest. So still getting in a nice amount of volume. Still prioritising the legs. over the next couple of weeks, there is no doubt we will have the ability to grow into the show as well. So very much looking forwards to getting prep started February 1st. With that goal of being in the mid to high 80kgs, with glutes in on stage. Which would be a big turn around compared to previous shows.
Q: So what is the goals looking like going forwards? Is a pro card in view? Or focus on Coaching?
The pro card is not something I want to pursue at all. That’s not me saying it like I have the ability to do so either. Genetically, someone with my particular build would require a couple more offseasons to kind of look at even coming close to the size and structure of some of these classic bodybuilders. For me it’s almost like a redemption, It sounds cliche. It’s a chance for me to put some respect on my name as a bodybuilder and not just a YouTuber. It’s kind of collating all previous preps and blasting them out the park. Ensuring that it can be done and I can do it, and give some motivation and hope for those people that may not be genetically gifted, and may not in vision themselves as a prop. Just show that the average body can be done.
Q: You mentioned corona Virus, it’s hard not to mention it, Has it has much of an impact on not only training but also business as well?
Business-wise it has not been too bad. I am very grateful to be in a situation where we can continue as a business. Content creation gets a bit tricky when we don’t have our usual hub (Driving to Crayford or Driving to Muscle Works), but we can work around it. I think it’s important to have your little moan and throw your toys out of the pram for the first week, then jump back on the train and start to get whatever job you are doing down.
Online coaching has been tricky at times. I think more so from the psychological point of view, having to keep your clients motivated. Going from a gym to home, to gym and now back home again, it is frankly ridiculous. In a time where we have collected so much data that suggests that those who are seriously affected by this virus are those who are overweight and obese. Then to go and close outdoor gyms and outdoor exercise centres in general. I can’t put it into word how absurd it is really.
We have worked around it, we are still getting content laid down at Smash Fitness, I got a couple of facilities. So, despite what has happened and what is going on it’s not affecting me, or I won’t let it affect me. I have got a task at hand and that will still be done regardless.
Q: What do you think is something that is over looked with fitness? Something you tend to see people forget about?
Good question! I mean it is usually a handful of things, it’s not just one thing. I would say prioritising recovery is an area that people kind of don’t look into. Stress management! Once we start to increase that deficit, and once we understand that a lack of food will be causing stress problems and sleep problems, then overlooking the importance of managing that is key! You are going to find yourself burnt out and find yourself having to reload more frequently on a cut, which is something we don’t want to do! We want to spend more time in the gym, more time progressing.
I think another area is that people are quite happy to regress. They kind of think “I am in a deficit, food is going down, therefore strength is going to go down, and I am ok with that”. That is not what we want. Every time my clients go into a cut for contest prep we will have a slight manipulation in volume because we are going to have to adapt to our recovery capabilities. Having said that, we never regress, you know? We are starting a contest prep, food is low but it will be a case of still progressively overloading, being from a rep scheme or a load on the bar. People have to understand that it will be smaller!
In an offseason when foods going in and drug usage is high, the ability to progress week by week is there, and we are talking 5-20kg on the bar here. With contest prep or a cut, those progressions are going to be smaller. Don’t be afraid to get the 1.25kg or 2.5kg plate out. If you were to take 1.25kg on the bar for 10 weeks, that’s 25kg over 10 weeks, that is crazy! Double that if it’s 2.5kg! So don’t become too concerned about losing the ability to progress, it’s still going to be there, but it’s not going to be as big. Ensure that we are managing stress and recovery and listening to our body.
The nutritional side of things is very much based on the client-side of things. I have got clients that can provide and prove good results on a slightly more flexible diet, whereas other individuals are very much like “I need this structure Monday to Sunday, I need my rest day food and training day food”. They do very well with that. There is a whole catalogue of things that people can get wrong when they start contest prep, it is very much me being the coach and ironing out those issues to make sure they don’t happen.
“So we can look at it as a negative that we have celebrities that are endorsing these products, but you know full well round the corner they are going to get absolutely obliterated!”
Q: Do you see any issues with the industry at the moment?
There is always going to be issues with the industry, There is always going to be this kind of injection of highly uneducated individuals that are targeting financial gain. Most recently we have seen Danielle Lloyd promoting the ketogenic supplementation side of thing. What is great is when a celebrity or influencer comes out with a product, Instantly you will have another individual in the industry, that is respected, come out and obliterate that. Before we didn’t really have that, We didn’t really have those with a large following that were educated.
Now we have people that are like “Let’s Fucking have it!” if you want to come into our industry, then you are going to get that battering! So we can look at it as a negative that we have celebrities that are endorsing these products, but you know full well round the corner they are going to get absolutely obliterated! The demise of the fitness influencer is occurring. We are seeing more and more respected individuals come up.
I think the biggest concern at the moment for people stepping into the industry is their inability to tap into their own unique selling point. By that I mean, an individual would come into the industry, start on YouTube or start on Instagram and they start to act as their depiction of what works. So they will look at the other big YouTubers and go “Right, in order for me to be successful I have to act like that”. They use the style, the fonts and the thumbnails they do. Then they completely lose their own identity.
So I think that’s another big area that needs to be addressed. People need to realise that it’s going to take time, I’ve been doing this nearly 7-8 years and I’m not at that hundred thousand or two hundreds thousand. With me, the respect is there and the engagement is there because I have stayed true to myself from the very beginning. So I think that’s a very important area! Don’t enter into this industry and start to sell out straight away! Don’t become too excited when a company comes to for promotional work.
Q; Your Earlier YouTuber videos you spoke about Steroids in the News a lot, Do you think that’s still an issue with people blaming Steroids?
Yeah, but you just don’t see it as much because, again, the response they get is just shut down. You see it rarely now because we have access to reams of data and anecdotal evidence and blood tests and things like that. So it’s like, cool, you can present that argument but it’s so futile and ridiculous, not even worth addressing! We have so many individuals in the industry now that have that understanding about all aspects of blood work and that.
It will always come up because media companies scrap the barrel, they are desperate. Like with the London Bridge attack, They overlooked the reason they were doing it and blamed it on Steroids. It’s like really?
It’s not really affecting me if someone does have a problem with that they can speak to me about it. I have had friends and family members speak to me saying “Have you seen that about anabolic”, and in a couple of minutes I have shut that down. It’s always going to be there but will get shut down as does the influencers. So it’s not too much to worry about, to be honest.
Q: Did you watch the Olympia?
I caught up with it! Last year I stayed up and this year I didn’t! I am sort of in a very good routine with sleep and nothing is effecting that. Even watching Bumstead! I did catch up, looked at the pre judging and kind of laid it out.
I think they judged it incredibly well this year! Rightly so for Rammy and Chris too!
“Classic bodybuilders are still taking copious amounts of anabolic, you know! This kind of Open Bodybuilders are rinsing drugs, they are using huge amounts and classic bodybuilders aren’t”
Q: Would you say there is more of a shift to classic from open now? More Attention?
Yeah because what needs to be understood from a Classic bodybuilding point of view is the marketing and advertising and the general kind of process of entering classic as a brand. it’s more relatable! Companies like gym shark and other clothing and supplement companies can reach out to a wider audience because they look at classic.
Let’s not get this wrong, Classic bodybuilders are still taking copious amounts of anabolic, you know! This kind of “Open Bodybuilders are rinsing drugs, they are using huge amounts and classic bodybuilders aren’t”. There are huge amounts of drug usage still going on with classic bodybuilding. it just so happens to be that it favours those who don’t have to push bodyweight that far up, in a sense that they are keeping proportions nice and tight, X Frame, nice lat insertion, shoulders and legs for example. it appeals to a wider audience, which is fantastic for the bodybuilding and fitness industry in general.
A lot more people are recognising the likes of Bumstead and Breyon and people like that because it looks appealing. Post Olympia Chris went to Mexico and just that look alone! Imagine seeing that physique by the pool! He looks like a god! Whereas, if you turned up to Ocean beach and you saw Big Ramy you would think “Oh God, That’s too much”.
So there is definitely a scope or classic bodybuilding, and I definitely think it will take over Open bodybuilding. You are still going to have your die-hard open bodybuilders, Who are bitter. I think if you are an open bodybuilder who has this kind of “disgust” at classic, I think it’s a bit pathetic if I am honest.
Q: As someone who has competed, do you think Tan and lighting could make or break someone win?
Huge yeah! Massively! Even my good friend John Lofthouse, at his most recent show. When you have a line up of say 10 or 15 people and 14 of them on are and dark and tanned and ones light, it makes a huge difference. Lofthouse for Classic has an insane physique, granted the need for size is there but you look at other winners that aren’t “huge” but structurally look phenomenal. Tan and lighting will make a huge different, Even our NABBA shows are hit or miss, because it’s like a theatre, the lighting doesn’t do as well. You can look incredible washed out. Event organisers need to understand that and have multiple tests before shows go ahead.
I want to thank Tom for coming on and having a chat. Was great to chat with him about the more business side of fitness. Also discuss competing from someone who just loves to compete, Nice to speak to someone who doesn’t feel the need to go pro but loves to compete. Was interesting to get his opinion on other things in the industry as well. You can find all of TMCyles links below to his YouTube and Instagram and also his member’s site.
If you want to read more of our interviews you can head over to our blog. We have loads of interviews with various people in the industry. Make sure you also follow us on Instagram to keep up to date with any other interviews we release.
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.