Alwyn Cosgrove Interview

Alwyn Cosgrove is regarded as the Worlds Leading authority on fat loss and athletic conditioning and has kindly agreed to give me an interview on how he achieves rapid results with his clients.

MK: Hi Alwyn, I really appreciate you taking out some time for this interview.

AC: Cheers Marc, always happy to help out.

MK: Could you start by telling the readers a little about your current coaching commitments?

AC: Right now it’s a mixed bag Marc. Most of my time is actually spent coaching BUSINESS for personal trainers and studio owners. The newest arm of our business is ResultsFitnessBiz.com which puts on educational events and provides business development coaching for exercise professionals.

We also still operate a VERY busy gym – Results Fitness, here in Santa Clarita, California, with a full load of clients and of course, I’m on the road quite a bit. My commitments range from actual training sessions, staff training to more of a consulting role. I helped Felicia Oh (World submission grappling champion) and Juila Cross (World Taekwondo champion) with their physical preparation for their last events – purely as a consultant.

MK: Can you tell the reader a little about your educational background?

AC: It’s not really a background Marc – it’s an ongoing journey!

To answer your question though –formally I have a degree from the University of Liverpool (Chester College) and also completed a course of study at West Lothian College in Scotland.

I have had every certification in the book at one point, and to be honest have let most of them lapse. The education was great, but I didn’t see much point in maintaining them all (as to be honest the “maintaining” tended to involve just attending more seminars – which I do anyway – and then sending someone some money!)

But the real answer is – we have 300 clients at our facility. We monitor their results all the time and test and tweak our programming accordingly.

I try to read a book a week at minimum. Today, it’s more business and professional development books as opposed to training – but you can imagine the difference that reading 52 books a year can make.

And I attend seminars. I suggest my staff attend one every 90 days as a minimum. We bring in people to train our staff at least 2-3 times per year, and we run our own in-house training.

My suggestion for most reading this would be to attend at least 4 seminars per year. I’m blessed in that I present around 15-20 times per year, so I’m also able to attend the other speakers presentations. It makes for a lot of education.

MK: In your books Afterburn and Afterburn 2 you do not recommend any steady state cardio. A lot of people reading this will be of the opinion that steady state cardio in the “fat burning zone” is the best way to lose fat. Can you give me your opinion on why traditional cardio doesn’t work and what you think of the fat burning zone?

AC: It’s quite simple. There are no studies that show any significant fat loss effect to low intensity steady state cardio. There are tons that show higher intensity work, resistance training and interval training to work very well. It’s not rocket science. Harder work will yield more results.

The fat burning zone is correct. There is a heart rate zone where your body will burn more energy from fat as a percentage than it will from other fuel sources. However it’s been misinterpreted – the “as a percentage” line gets missed by most people. It’s irrelevant. You burn the most fat as a percentage with low intensity work (and at rest). Does anyone really think that the international obesity epidemic is as result of people working too hard in their exercise programs?

MK: In my training programs I never use any of the traditional “machine” exercises as I believe they cause long term joint injuries. Would you share your opinions of the machines that you would find in a typical gym?

AC: You’re asking the wrong guy. I haven’t been in a typical machine gym in ten years or so. I have no idea what they have in there, sorry 🙂

Basically though – all machines were ever designed to do was to mimic free weight movement and isolate muscle groups. Why we would need a more expensive “alternative” and a need to isolate anything never made any sense to me.

MK: Your training philosophy is not too dissimilar to mine in that you use supersets, tri-sets and circuits to get rapid fat loss results. Could you tell the reader why you chose this method instead of traditional weight training where you do one set of an exercise, rest before repeating the exercise?

AC: We don’t’ always use that method. Different programs require different approaches. For metabolic conditioning we use that method as it allows us to keep overall work high while minimizing local muscular fatigue. I break down the science here: Tweaking Your Workout

MK: Thanks Alwyn.  Now for some of the ladies reading this they might be reluctant to try your program due to the weight training. What would you say to a female client who was worried about “bulking up” due to lifting weights?

AC: We have 300+ clients – about 70% or more are female. They all get leaner and smaller. I think today’s female knows that weight training can be a great tool for them. Most females were leanest when they were in their early 20’s – typically when they had the most muscle mass. If any ladies out there are still unsure of the benefits of resistance training – then check out Rachel’s book – “The Female Body Breakthrough”

MK: Thanks for clearing that up. Moving on to nutrition, with regards to fat loss, what should the readers be doing to get incredible results?

AC: I think we have got carried away with nutrition. A good goal would be to eat every 3 hours, a serving of lean protein, with a serving or two of fruits and vegetables. Follow that plan 80-90% of the time and you’ll be making great progress.

MK: What would you say to someone who was training hard but still not seeing the results you would expect from the effort they were putting in at the gym?

AC: There are so many variables. It could be bad form, actually not working hard enough (perception vs reality), or not working smart enough. Busting your arse on a bench press program when your goal is weight loss won’t work – so sometimes it’s a programming issue. I’d need to see training diaries, video, and do a consultation to know for sure.

MK: With regards to calories, obviously eating too much is going to hinder fat loss, would you say eating too little will have an adverse effect on results? Could you explain why?

AC: It can but that’s rarely a problem until you look longer term. Any time you don’t eat enough you slow down. Forget metabolic rate etc for now – if you eat far too little food – you just won’t have the energy to train, work or even live. Basically you’ll move less and be tired more. Therefore you’ll close any numerical caloric deficit that you think you’ve created.

The other issue is that, as my friend Valerie Waters says – strategy will trump willpower all the time. At some point, after eating way too little, you’re going to snap and eat too much. So we have a double whammy – you’re moving less and over the course of the week, or month, you end up overeating anyway – so now we are burning less calories and still eating too much.

MK: What are your opinions on these diets that say “drink two shakes & one meal per day” or the cereal based diets?

AC: I haven’t heard of the cereal based ones – must be a UK thing. It’s a short term approach for inevitable failure. How are the result one year or more after coming off those plans? I’ve never seen anyone who can live like that for long periods of time, and I’ve never seen anyone make meaningful change when they come off those plans.

MK: I believe that supplements should be just that. They should be an addition to a healthy balanced nutrition plan make up of whole foods and not replace them. Would you agree?

AC: Yes.

MK: Before we close Alwyn, what would be your 5 top things to do regarding training and nutrition to help the readers to cut body fat

AC:

1.       Perform metabolic circuits or pairings 3 times per week

2.       Drink enough water – it’s hard to do anything in a dehydrated state

3.       Eat real food, multiple times per day

4.       Increase the amount of vegetables and fruits you consume while limiting starch and processed foods

5.       Weight train 1-2 times per week

Obviously we can create hybrid routines of #1 and #5 but most people still need to train at both ends of the continuum

MK: This has been an awesome interview Alwyn, I’ve learned a lot from you today and I hope the readers have too. Where can the readers go to find out more about you and your training programs?

AC: For trainers wanting to learn about business – check out www.resultsfitnessbiz.com. For those of you wanting to learn about training – my gym website is www.results-fitness.com and I have a blog over at www.alwyncosgrove.com

MK: Thanks again Alwyn

About Alwyn: For nearly two decades Alwyn Cosgrove has been committed to achieving excellence in the field of fitness training and athletic preparation.  Specializing in performance enhancement, Alwyn has helped countless individuals and athletes reach their goals through sound scientific training.  Alwyn has an honors degree in Sports Science from the University of Liverpool, is certified as a strength & conditioning specialist with the National Strength and Conditioning Association and has been recognized as a Master of Sports Sciences with the International Sports Sciences Association.

Alwyn is also recognized by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, the American College of Sports Medicine, the British Association of Sports and Exercise Sciences, Kingsports International Australia, the Society for Weight Training Injury Specialists, USA Weightlifting and the Chek

Institute of Corrective High Performance Exercise Kinesiology. A former Taekwon-do international champion, Alwyn has utilized his personal experience as an athlete and combined it with the advanced theories of European Sports Science and the principles of modern strength and conditioning systems.

Through the years in this field Alwyn has been recognized as a specialist in Athletic Preparation by The United States, the United Kingdom and Australia and has studied extensively each country’s approach to athletic preparation. During his career as a strength and conditioning coach, Alwyn has worked with a wide variety of clientele, including several Olympic and national level athletes, five World Champions and professionals in a multitude of sports including boxing, martial arts, soccer, ice skating, football, fencing, triathlon,  rugby, bodybuilding, dance and fitness competition

Alwyn recently had two books published, The New Rules of Lifting and The New Rules of Lifting for Women. A sought after ‘expert’ for several of the country’s leading publications including Men’s Health magazine, Alwyn works closely with our program design department developing all the training programs carried out in the gym, and oversees the elite staff in their implementation of each workout.