Gym and Diet

About 2 years ago I noticed that I'd started putting on weight. I've always been pretty skinny, reasonably healthy and never gained weight. I'm writing this at age 31 (yes, yes, yes, I know I look about 12 :wink:) and I remember being aged around 15ish and people pre-warning me that when I got to around 30ish that things would change. They were right.

This post is a brief account of my past, what I'm doing now, now that for the first time I've noticed weight gain and I aim that it will be something I can look back on, refer to and update in the future.


Thinking of the first things that come to my head; I remember running around doing paper rounds about age 11, my parents took me to gym classes where I enjoyed jumping up and down on trampolines, about age 14-16 I did Muay Thai with Ronnie Green and was a member of the completing the Kyrpton Factor Assault Course.

Then things changed, I concentrated on studying and completed a BA(Hons) Degree in Graphic Design, I spent much more time sat down in front of a computer with little exercise and my diet mainly consisted of coffee, sugar, syrups and turkey waffles and beans. After finishing my degree I went on to teach at Salford University, work for JD Williams and The Hut Group. All the while spending more and more time sat at a computer. The only exercise I really got was jumping around playing my guitar with / (sadly, no longer online).

The Turning Point

I've always been a fan of Bruce Lee.

About 2 years ago after a serious Christmas binge of eating and drinking lots, I noticed myself in the mirror. I thought back to the way I looked when I was doing Muay Thai, skinny but defined muscles and I felt good. I looked at myself again and thought what's happened here… How did this happen? Looking back it's pretty easy to establish this. My friends were right, I don't know all the science and the exact terminology behind it, I think there's now a Twitter hashtag for it now: #youregettingoldereatingdrinkingloadsandnotdoinganyexercise

Thinking About Things

I love doing stuff. I have many interests and have a lot going on. I have a full time job mon-fri 9-5.30. I organise and run a monthly meetup in Manchester @Mcr_FRED, this year I'm helping run a conference @UpFrontConf, I try to help out friends with their sites, take on freelance work where I can, guest post on sites, attend a number of meetups around Manchester, attend conferences and work on various open source projects.

I feel lucky that I enjoy all the above that I guess is someway 'work' related. Aside from all this I have many other things I enjoy. Spending time with friends, walking (another thing I organise is @digiHike with my mate Bobby), music, food and drink, gaming, playing about with new tech, art, cars, nfl, reading, to name a few.

I'm guessing that if you're reading this, it's because you're a developer, or work with developers or involved with the "tech scene" in some way or another. As such I'm also guessing that you have pressing deadlines, the want to learn everything and probably find that you have little time to do so.

I remember having an interesting conversation with Ross Boardman who I had the pleasure of working with at JD Williams and The Hut Group. We were discussing life goals and after a few nice whiskys courtesy of Garry Finch things were getting pretty interesting. One particular thing stuck with me from that conversation that Ross highlighted. At no point had I mentioned my personal health or wellbeing. As a young, keen developer it's easy to get engrossed in all the fascinating work that's going on and at an incredibly fast pace. Burn out is something that I've wrote about in the past and it's an extremely important factor to consider.

After all we're only human.


So, with the previous said, if you're anything like me, trying to fit everything into one day can seem a struggle. I'm lucky in the fact that a colleague of mine was also feeling a similar way to me and wanted to take action. This helped A LOT. We're also lucky that we had a gym pretty close to where we worked. So about 6 months ago now we started going to the gym. We'd both done various things before, but didn't really know what we were doing. I began to read and listen to podcasts and quickly found out there's a lot to learn and also that some of the information was contradictory and some seemed geared up just to sell products.

A the start of the year, we got lucky again, in that a bigger gym opened, closer and cheaper to where we work. It took a good few months, but now I'm no longer in the mind set of 'oh no, not the gym again' and instead 'yay, gym, awesome'.


I tried various things to begin with, thanks to @ominous_ibex for pointing me towards The app helped me in that I wrote things down. I don't check back over or try to out-do myself, it was just nice I felt to have a set routine planned. I could quickly open the app and look at what I'd previously found ok and get on with it. I remember reading somewhere, something along the lines of:

"You go to the gym and you think 'I don't want to go to the gym, it's hard', you get to the gym and think 'This is hard', but then after you think 'Wow, that was hard, but now I feel good'.

I think that this helped me. It's that feeling I got right at the end, the reward that makes it easier to keep this up. I know this is hard, but it's worth it, so keep doing it.


This year we've started doing the 5x5 routine. So far I like it. Something I never used to do was legs. I always used to concentrate on my upper body. This is a super noobie mistake. After a bit of reading up, I learnt that in order to burn fat you really need to workout your entire body.

The routine consists of a 2 week cycle that then repeats, the things marked + are extras I've thrown in if I have time:

Week 1


Squat / Bench Press / Barbell

+ Shoulder cross / Lat pull down / Ab Pull Down




Squat / Overhead Press / Deadlift (only 1 set)

+ Front Long barbell raises / Side Flies / Tricep Dip bodyweight


5k jog


Squat / Bench Press / Barbell Row

+ Bicep Curl Rounds / Ab Pull Down

Week 2


Squat / Overhead Press / Deadlift (only 1 set)

+ Shoulder cross / Lat pull down / Ab Pull Down




Squat / Bench Press / Barbell Row

+ Front Long barbell raises / Side Flies / Tricep Dip bodyweight


5k jog


Squat / Overhead Press / Deadlift (only 1 set)

+ Bicep Curl Rounds / Ab Pull Down

Example Cardio Set

Shoulder dumbbells, Spiderman Push-ups, Ab raises, Lunges, Bicycle kicks, Demolition Burpees. 30s each, 10 second rest. 3 sets 1 minute rest between sets.

When I'm in the gym I have my phone with me and my routine already planned out, I then write down the weights I used and if I found it easy, medium or hard. If last time I did an exercise and it was easy I up the weight by 2.5kg, if it's medium 1.25kg, if it's hard I leave it the same until I can do it.

On Mon, Wed, Fri I really concentrate on the first 3 exercises, the ones after I sometimes change if equipment isn't available. At this stage I'm also still trying to find out what works best for me and enjoy trying new things out.

=- 2015 03 14 edit / START -=

As the weights I'm doing now are heavier, it's taking longer to get through the sets, so sometimes I don't have time to do the extra exercises. Andrew Betts also mentioned to me something he does, jogging at a low speed for 1 minute then a fast speed for 1 minute. I've also started doing this on a Tuesday for 15 minutes.

=- 2018 07 18 edit / END -=


My diet has always been generally healthy, I don't snack on crisps. I used to have egg and spinach for breakfast but currently I don't have a breakfast, I'm guessing this isn't great, but for me so far it seems ok. I have a protein shake around 11am before the gym, then one when I get back, then some chicken and veg for lunch.

Every weekend I get a big bag of chicken and mix it together with a curry sauce. I then put these in tupperware boxes and throw in some frozen veg and I'm set for the week. For evening meals sometimes I'll have a steak and salad or a stir-fry, generally some sort of meat with either a salad or veg with a low fat sauce. Each evening meal I make I do in bulk, so the sauce goes a long way and then I'm set for the next few days as well.

I've always enjoyed a good beer, but during the week I now stick to either a small gin and zero cal tonic water, or a glass of wine. At the weekend I have what I want, but I don't make a deliberate attempt to eat or drink to excess.

Prep and Thinking Ahead

I find that preparing everything for the week at the weekend helps a lot. I have all my food ready to go in tupperware boxes and I also lay out all my gym clothes and 5 towels. So then during the week each night before I go to bed I'll put my clothes in my bag ready for the next day, then I'll get up and put my food in my bag and I'm away.

In the morning, I like to get up and go! Having everything prepared the previous night means I avoid any frustration if I can't find something in the morning, last thing I want to do is go searching around the house for things.

Progress Chart

All weights are added either side plus a 20kg Olympic Bar. E.g. 10kg, is 10kg either side plus 20kg for the bar so the total is 40kg.

A * denotes an injury.

*1 = Hurt my shoulder putting the bar back to the rack.

*2 = Noticed a bruise on the back of my thigh, on the last rep I really had to push hard to get the final squat back up.

| Exercise |  Weight | Effort | Exercise |  Weight | Effort | Exercise |  Weight | Effort |
| Week 01 | | | | | | | | |
| Squat | 10kg | easy | Bench | 10kg | easy | Row | 20kg | hard |
| Squat | 12.5kg | med | Overhead | 5kg | med | Deadlift | 15kg | easy |
| Squat | 13.75kg | med | Bench | 12.5kg | easy | Row | 10kg | easy |
| Week 02 | | | | | | | | |
| Squat | 15kg | med | Bench | 15kg | med | Deadlift | 20kg | med |
| Squat | 16.25kg | med | Bench | 16.25kg | hard | Row | 15kg | med |
| Squat | 17.5kg | med | Overhead | 6.25kg | hard | Deadlift | 22.5kg | easy |
| Week 03 | | | | | | | | |
| Squat | 20kg | med | Bench | 16.25kg | med | Row | 16.25kg | med |
| Squat | 21.25kg | med | Overhead | 6.25kg | med | Deadlift | 25kg | med |
| Week 04 | | | | | | | | |
| Squat | 22.5kg | med | Overhead | 7.5kg | hard | Deadlift | 27.5kg | med |
| Squat | 23.75kg | med | Bench | 17.5kg | hard | Row | 15kg | med |
| Week 05 | | | | | | | | |
| Squat | 25kg | med | Bench | 17.5kg | med | Row | 16.25kg | hard |
| Squat | 26.25kg | med | Overhead | 7.5kg | hard | Deadlift | 32.5kg | med |
| Week 06 | | | | | | | | |
| Squat | 27.5kg | med | Bench | 18.75kg | hard | Row | 15kg | hard |
| Squat | 28.75kg | med | Overhead | 7.5kg | hard | Deadlift | 35kg | med |
| Week 07 | | | | | | | | |
| Squat | 30kg | med | Bench | 18.75kg | hard* | Row | 15kg | med |
| Squat | 30kg | med | Overhead | 6.25kg | med | Deadlift | 37.5kg | med |
| Week 08 | | | | | | | | |
| Squat | 31.25kg | med | Bench | 15kg | med | Row | 15kg | med |
| Squat | 32.5kg | med | Overhead | 6.25kg | med | Deadlift | 40kg | med |
| Squat | 32.5kg | med | Bench | 17.5kg | med | Row | 16.25kg | hard |
| Week 09 | | | | | | | | |
| Squat | 33.75kg | med | Overhead | 7.5kg | med | Deadlift | 42.5kg | med |
| Week 10 | | | | | | | | |
| Squat | 33.75kg | med | Bench | 16.25kg | med | Row | 15kg | med |
| Squat | 35kg | hard* | Overhead | 8.75kg | hard | Deadlift | 45kg | med |
| Squat | 30kg | med | Bench | 17.5kg | med | Row | 16.25kg | med |
| Week 11 | | | | | | | | |
| Rest week, volunteering at Smashing Conference |

=- 2018 07 18 edit / START -=

Some extra data I found


Dumbbell shoulder press 18kg x10 20kg x10 20kg x6

Seated smiths machine 5 on each side 5 x4

Side lat raises 8kg x8 8kg x10 8kg x12

Military press front / back 15 x12 17.5 x12 20 x10 then 4


25kg squats 15kg bench press 20kg military press 10kg, 15kg, 15kg curls

25kg squats 15kg bench press 15kg curls

27.5kg squats 15kg 8, 20kg 6, 22.5kg 6 spot bench press 15kg curls

27.5kg squats up it! 17.5kg press keep same careful of wrist 10kg Incline Dumbbell Row up it! Punch sets 6kg

30kg up it!! 17.5kg same 4kg, 6kg, 8kg Back flies 3sets x10 17.5kg curls up it!!! Stretch!

31.25kg up it! 17.5kg up it / put to gap before lift 4,6,8kg back flies incline 20kg curls 3x6 go for 3x8 next Stretch

32.5kg same 18.25kg same 4,6,8 x10 same 20kg 1x6, 17.5kg 2x10

27.5kg 17.5kg 4,6,8kg back files incline 20kg 1x10, 17.5kg 2x10

25kg among for continued reps ok 17.5kg - shoulder felt weird so dropped to 15 and did 5x6 4,6,8,10 x10 standing flies 20kg 1, 17.5kg 2 didn’t do as did cardio punches

25kg 15 3x8 Curls 15kg x10

Back again! 10kg 15kg 25kg 15kg squats ok, do 3x 15kg

10kg bench, keep same 3x 10kg

6,8,10,12.5,15 x10 curls, 3x 12.5kg

15kg 10kg 12.5kg x12

20kg 10kg up Long bar, down, up, back, up 10kg, 15kg, 20kg


Squat 55kg (Bar + 17.5kg each end) sets of 5 reps, aim for 3-5 sets, rest 2-3mins between each set

  • 17.5kg 5x3 hard last set (did weights in reverse order, deadlift, bench, squats)
  • 15kg 5x1, 17.5kg 5x1, 20kg x1 (squats, bench, dead lift) just ok / hard

Barbell Bench Press 45kg (Bar + 12.5kg each side) sets of 5 reps, aim for 3-5 sets, rest 2-3mins between each set

  • 10kg 5x3 just ok at end
  • 12.5kg 5x2, 5kg 5x2 ok

Deadlift 50-60kg (Bar + 15-20kg each side) sets of 5 reps, aim for 3-5 sets, rest 2-3mins between each set

  • 15kg 5x5 ok
  • 20kg

Core work

Crunch x 10, Crunch + twist x 10, crunch with feet up x10

Leg extension – double x 8, scissors movement (alt legs) x 8 each side, crossover (side to side) x 10

Mountain climbers – straight forward x 10, side to side x 10, single leg monkey (foot outside hand) x 10, double monkey x 10

Plank – forward on toes

Side Plank – forearm and feet, arm up in air (each side) Repeat x 2 or 3 if you can = Ouch!! Abs and ham strings!


Weights: Squat, feet slightly facing away, don’t move knees, control though thighs, push up through heels

Bench press, down on chest, hand position equal distance

Deadlift, squeeze back, bar close to legs, explosive push up, breathe

Cardio: On back Hands across chest, knees bent, lift shoulders up, look up at ceiling

Lift shoulders up, twist left, to centre, down up right

Feet up, elbows to knees, keep knees in place don’t move them

Hands at side, palms face up, bring up legs, slow release down

Hands at side, palms face up, scissor legs large / long

Hands at side, palms face up, 45deg small / fast

On to front: Plank on hands, shoulders in front of hands Legs forward / back

Legs sideways / touch elbows

Foot to palm, one at a time

Both feet to palms

Plank, step feet forward, roll on toes

Plank side, reach up, turn left and go under body

Repeat on other side

Drink plenty of water


mon: Squats (smiths, right down) 15kg x5 25kg x5 30kg x5 35kg x5 40kg x3 40kg x3

Lunges 16kg x16, x3

Tbar 20kg x12 40kg x12 50kg x12 50kg x12 50kg x12

Abs 5/5/5 x10

Side cross lats 10x 3

tue: 6/6/6 pull ups

Dumb bells biceps 12kg x10 15kg long bar x8

12kg x8 15kg long bar x8

14kg x8 15kg long bar x8

16kg one arm on back of bench x6 15kg long bar x10

18kg one arm 15kg long bar x12

12kg sat again

Abs 5/5/5 x10

Lat t-bar 30kg 12 55kg x10 55kg x10

wed: another week Squats (free weights, right down) 20kg x5 30kg x5 25kg x5 35kg x3 35kg x3

Lunges 22kg x16, x3

Tbar 20kg x12 40kg x12 50kg x12 50kg x12 50kg x12

Abs 5/5/5 x10

thu: Smiths machine chest 15 x10 37.5 x3 35 x3 32.5 x3 25 x5 15 x5 5 x22 10 x10

Dumbbell biceps sat down 14kg x8 abs 5/5/5 x3 14kg x10 Abs 5/5/5 x3 14kg x10 Abs 5/5/5 x3 14kg x8

Cross trainer Bottom Middle 5.7 x14 Top

mon: Squats free, all the way down, faster 2.5kg x5 15 x5 20 x5 25 x5 30 x5

24kg lunges x16 x3

T-bar 20kg x12 40kg x12 50kg x12 40kg x12 felt better not straining and going all the way down and up

Mon: Squats (free weights, right down) 15kg x5 30kg x5 30kg x5 30kg x5 30kg x5

Lunges 26kg x16, x3

Tbar 15kg x12 30kg x12 45kg x12 45kg x12 60kg x12

Abs 5/5/5 x10

Fri: Chest 20kg x8 35kg x3 30kg x5 25kg x5 20kg x5 15kg x7 10kg x10 10kg x10

Triceps / abs

Tue: Squats 20 x5 35 x5 not quite right down 35 x5 not quite right down 30 x5 right down 30 x5 right down

Lunges 28 x16 x3

T-bar 25kg x12 35kg x12 45kg x12 60kg x12 70kg x12

Tue busy! Lunges 24 8x3

Dead lift 10 x8 30 x6 40 x5 40 x5 40 x6

T-bar 15kg x12 30kg x12 45kg x12 60kg x12 70kg x12

=- 2018 07 18 edit / END -=

So far I'm happy with the progress made. As you can see from the above I've not managed to get the full 3 days weight training in every week and towards the start I got a bit mixed up with my routine. I've also had consistent progress in some areas but varied in others.

Above all I'm going to the gym to be healthy, I'm not going to beat myself up if I'm not upping the weight every week. With the Row for example I've upped it to 16.25kg and brought it back down to 15kg a few times. This is because I made a note that I was pushing up with my feet.

I'd rather go for a lower weight and do the exercise properly rather than have a higher weight and cheat.

Further Reading

Reading is partly due to why my post exists. I feel people may be embarrassed and shy about posting personal information such as this (especially photos!) and laying it out there on the web for all to see. Personally I think it's great that people do so.

These posts have been of great help to me. I saw posts regarding this subject with the infamous before / after shots, but when it's from someone you actually know and trust it makes much more of an impact. I know it's real and true and not some scam to try and make me buy a product or click some ads.

Further to the original post, Remy also recently posted more on his diet as well

I've also noticed Andrew Clarke making steady progress at the gym from%3AMalarkey&src=typd. Congrats Andrew :smile:.

Andrew also did a fantastic job with here's some more information on what it is and how it came about

After spending extended periods of time at a computer writing code and working out solutions to problems my brain begins to feel knotted. Having an hour away from the computer my brain then feels unknotted and when I get back I feel a lot more productive. That may sound kind of weird, but it makes sense to me at least.

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