Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
We have a gym dog – Atlas the Bullmastiff and I’m engaged to Matt, who has 14 years’ training and powerlifting experience himself.
I’ve been weight training for eight years. Before that, I did a lot of road cycling, swam for a team, gymnastics and various other activities – I’ve always been someone who was game to try lots of things.
I started weight training, not as a replacement for other things, but because I lost my way at uni – shite relationship, lots of pressure, poor living conditions – and put on 3 stone. I’m 5’1”,
My main goals at the moment are to get a muscle up and a heavier deadlift. My deadlift PB is currently 115kg and I’ve got a muscle up on the tiniest resistance band (it only takes 2-5kg of your weight), so nearly there! My training revolves around strength and skills primarily, to be able to step out of your comfort zone and do something you never thought you could.
My biggest achievement is building up this business from nothing. I used to work in corporate insurance, and set up The Warrior Programme four years ago, just as me – a girl who wanted more out of her life than a desk job could offer. I got too busy to handle it myself, made some hires, a couple of fires and now have a fantastic team and our first gym!
Alongside The Warrior Programme, I create art and do some modelling.
Instagram, @thewarriorprogramme - photo by Simon Thomas
Describe a typical day of training
I train four days a week on average. I used to train 5-6, but then got adrenal fatigue, which took me out of pretty much everything for a month. The overall load on my body was too much – training, fat loss, stress of work, moving house and generally modern life! So something had to give to allow me to carry on making progress long term and get to where I want to.
I commute by bike and often ride for fun too, so that’s my cardio. The rest of my training is strength-focused and is specific to my goals.
I don’t have a fixed training programme – life and my body changes day to day so I think it’s important to be flexible and to build a base of intuition, not just bulldoze your body into what is written on a piece of paper.
That way, long-term, you’ll get to where you want to be and not get sick. It’s important, and hard, to learn to listen to your body’s signals – I think we can be very good at blocking them out. So I’ve made it my mission to learn to focus inwards, rather than always outwards.
I train for 60-90 minutes per session and I take with me resistance bands, a Blackroll duoball, chalk, headphones and water with a bamboo filter in it. I either train in The Warrior Gym or at Sweatbox. The former because it’s convenient and mine and the latter because I like the atmosphere and the kit.
More often than not, I train alone – I’m very focused and like to be as efficient as possible with my time. Saying that, I do work with other coaches from time to time and do the odd session with friends.
I have an organic, vegan pre-workout (OSN), which I use for some sessions, but other than that, I don’t take any training specific supplements, and don’t have any real training rituals. I often deadlift to Slipknot, but that’s about it!
I practice yoga most days at home, and go to a dance hall class as much as I can too. For me, movement is a way of life and something to explore in all its facets. Another big goal of mine is to learn to surf.
How do you keep going and push harder?
I believe motivation, as most people understand it, is a fallacy. Most of us aren’t waking up being like, ‘yes I’m so pumped to go to the gym’, so waiting for that feeling can really hold some people back. For me, it’s more of a dedication to myself, because I want what I want, and I recognise that it’s consistency that is going to get me there. Time in the gym, and in recovery and all parts of the process is an investment in myself.
We all make time for the things that are important to us, and this process is incredibly important for me. It’s part of building my identity, developing who I am, and I can’t make many things more important than that!
Despite any setbacks life has thrown at me, I don’t believe that my belief in myself gets shaken truly. I think this because I always show up – sometimes it feels like it’s all you’ve got! Reps in the bank people say, and I really believe that. If you put the work in, you will get something good out of it, there’s no other way.
In the gym, you have to focus on yourself and face things you find hard in order to get to what you want. If you don’t want it enough, you’ll give up. If you do, you have to look your weaknesses in the eye, work on them, ask for help – all things that we can find hard. That’s one of the reasons why it’s so transformative. I think a lot of us spend a great deal of energy avoiding ourselves and making progress in the gym won’t allow that.
I’ve gone through set-backs – a bulging disc from stress over two years ago, a flare up of the same injury a year ago, bicep tendon strains, numerous ankle sprains, lots and lots of things – and at the time it happens, it’s crap.
But later you look back and see it as an enormous blessing. You get the opportunity to learn so much, and then the opportunity to share that with others and fasttrack their journey.
From my back injury, I learned patience, how to change direction and not to give up. Not to take everything on yourself and ask for help. If you truly take responsibility for what goes on in your body, you have such an opportunity to learn.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
I’m doing great, I’m the strongest I’ve ever been – close to my muscle up, new deadlift PB of 120kg for a single and weighted dips PB of 20kg added the other day and a 200kg x5 leg press PB! It’s been a wonderful week of PBs!
I don’t tend to look too far into the future with training, I try to focus more short term and on a few specific goals. I used to be really general with my training and as a result, didn’t get very far!
I’ve just hit my deadlift goal of 120kg, which I’ve been working on for over a year. Just six more kg to go and I’m double bodyweight, which will be very awesome.
I have very ambitious business plans and am always looking far into the future with this, so watch this space!
How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
I used to be crap at it, but I’m a lot better now. Learned the hard way! The first things I would say are:
To get honest and face it – don’t bury your head in the sand and pretend it’s not happening!
Get help – go see an expert who knows more than you do, if you want to accelerate your recovery.
Don’t give up on training altogether – redirect your focus. If I hadn’t had my back injury, I wouldn’t have focused on pull ups and set my goal as a muscle up. So it’s a huge blessing looking back.
Every injury is a chance to see your weaknesses, face them and change them. It’s a huge opportunity. So do all you can to get to that mindset.
Day to day, my recovery includes – daily foam rolling (Blackroll make my favourite rollers), stretching, tonnes of water and supplements. I take two rest days minimum per week too. Could sleep better, but there’s always something to work on. I do a bit of gua sha (scraping) on myself and aim to be good and go for a sports massage minimum once a month.
How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
I’ve been vegetarian for 25 years and am living proof that not eating meat doesn’t affect your ability to grow muscle in any way!
I’ve gone through phases where I track calories, although at the moment I don’t. I’m learning how to run the show without tracking, as long term, that’s sustainable for me. I think tracking is a great tool, but not necessarily something to do forever. Set a purpose for doing it, stay conscious and watch what happens when you try different things.
I’m not tea-total, but I rarely drink and have been drunk once in the last five years, maybe longer. I’m just not that interested, which is really helpful!
I eat a high protein diet, I still eat dairy, and don’t drink caffeine, bar green tea. Mainly because I don’t like the taste of coffee or normal tea!
I take a lot of supplements, depending on where I am at the time – some regulars are vitamin D, magnesium, marine collagen, various probiotics, lysine, CBD and vitamin C.
I believe it’s hard to get what you need from food these days with the decline in soil quality, so I don’t want to be missing out. I used to be really resistant to supplements – I used to feel like it was admitting my body needed help and was failing in some way – but I’ve processed that now!
At the moment, I’m working on reducing the amount of processed sugar I eat, so am trialing some new recipes from Sarah Wilson’s ‘I Quit Sugar For Life’. It’s going well so far, which is great, as it’s something I can find a challenge.
I don’t believe in cheat days or cut and bulk cycles for myself. Totally get that it works for others, and if you’re competing in bodybuilding, then of course. There’s lots of research out there re how dramatic cutting and bulking over a long period of time can affect your metabolism and your fertility, and that’s not something I really want to mess with.
Cheat days, I think, set a negative mental attitude towards food, which I don’t think would be good for me.
What has inspired and motivated you?
Strong women not taking no for an answer in short!! The successes of my team and clients, and Ronda Rousey in particular.
Every time a woman takes a stand for what she wants, or does something outside the norm, that’s a big motivator for me. To be an example to young girls who might be struggling, and to a future daughter of mine.
The Becoming a Supple Leopard book really helped my mobility and what Neghar Fonooni puts out there mindset-wise has been a big influence.
In terms of quotes, something that revolves around my mind is: ‘If you want what you’ve never had, you’ve got to do what you’ve never done’. To be prepared to be brave, to change and to always be evaluating and improving.
Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
My first tip would be to get specific about what you want and then set no more than three goals. Goals like – to get my first pull up by 1st December, not things like ‘get fitter’ or ‘get stronger. We all start there, but it’s really important to break it down and make it specific, so you can stay focused and motivated.
If you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, invest in coaching. Do your research, look at qualifications, look at who that person is and what they’re training towards. If you don’t like and respect them and don’t admire or desire what they’re training for, they’re not for you.
Don’t just pick the person that shouts the loudest on Instagram or has the best bikini pose. Look at your options in the round – do they have what you want? If so, are they able and qualified to coach? There’s a lot of bullshit out there.
Be honest with yourself about what changes you want to see and what compromises you’re willing to make. Don’t expect the earth for nothing, or in no time. Changes take time and they have to be sustainable, in my opinion, to be worth it. A lot of changes take years, but stick to it, and you’ll get there.
Take one small thing at a time – like drinking more water – and nail that. Don’t try to change everything in one fell swoop, it won’t work.
Surround yourself with supportive people. Don’t listen when people try to distract you or pull you out of your changes or goals – it’s about their shit not yours. Stick to your guns and be determined.
Are you taking on clients right now?
I’m taking clients on selectively, both online and in person. It needs to be someone I really connect with and feel really pumped about their wants and goals. That’s how the coaching process works best for everyone.
My team are also taking on face to face clients in Bristol, UK or people have the option to invest in our online programmes too.
We’re an experienced, intuitive team who care A LOT. We’ve got lots of success stories and we hugely invest in any client we take on. Accordingly, the client needs to be ready to be coached and to make changes – we’re not in the game for doing half jobs – it’s soul-destroying!
We’re not your people if you’re not serious about changing, you just want to get a bit fitter, or you want to lose a lot of weight.
We’re your people if you want to get stronger, you have no idea where to start, you’re shy now and you want to be confident. There’s so much you want to do in your life, but right now the way you feel about yourself, your body and your health is holding you back.
The world needs you, sister!
Where can we learn more about you?
Ready to get really fit and inspired?
I’m Mads Phikamphon, founder of Bulk Hackers.
Here on Bulk Hackers we interview bodybuilders, personal trainers and fitness heroes. We ask them to share their stories and all their greatest hacks!
If you liked this interview, join our newsletter below.
Interested in doing an interview? Send me an email.