Posted on 17 Mar 2014
11 min read
Way back in July 2013, friend of Gymtalk Ray Buckton, who works as a fitness model and is one of London’s most in-demand personal trainers, wrote us a superb article on nutrition.
We were extremely impressed – as were many of you guys – by his wealth of knowledge, so we invited him back for an interview.
Unfortunately for us, Ray was extremely busy at the time, farting around climbing Kilimanjaro and such.
Luckily, we recently managed to collar him to ask a few questions about his training regime, supplements, nutrition, and health fitness in general.
Hi Ray, thanks for speaking with us today.
Can you tell us a little bit more about how you got started in the fitness industry?
Thanks for having me, I am a big fan of the website!
Health and fitness has always been prevalent in my life.
I was pretty much a full time athlete from the age of 9 when I qualified for my first national championships in swimming.
I ended up being selected to swim for The University of Bath where I also studied for a Bsc In Sports Performance.
Unfortunately I suffered a career ending injury when I ruptured my ACL in my second year but training has always been something I loved and I particularly enjoyed the strength and conditioning part of my training regime.
Once I had recovered I started training more for aesthetics as opposed to performance and started doing some work as a fitness model.
I then realised I had a lot of expertise and experience to help others so put it to good use by becoming a trainer.
What is it you enjoy most about being a personal trainer?
There are few jobs as rewarding as being a personal trainer.
A lot of the time you are really helping people make positive changes in their lives and when you see clients progress and reach goals that before seemed like unimaginable dreams, it is a really great feeling.
As cliché as it sounds, it isn’t just physical either, you really see how people grow inside and become more confident in themselves as well and knowing that you have been able to inspire and have such a positive impact on someone’s life is a great feeling.
And what’s the toughest aspect of your job?
Getting clients to kick their bad habits.
It is easy to get a client to work hard for the 1 hour a day that they might see you but the other 23 hours of the day is the real challenge.
You’re sometimes dealing with clients who have years of bad habits ingrained in them and have an ill-informed knowledge base so it can take time to re-program and educate them on how their lifestyles are affecting their health and body composition.
It doesn’t help that there is so much conflicting information fed to society these days regarding what is good for us and what isn’t, different diets, training fads, etc.
That it is a minefield for people trying to make the right choices so I always just try to strip it back and make it as simple as possible.
How do you work with your clients to help them achieve their physique goals?
Everybody is different, different strengths and weaknesses, different goals and different lifestyles, so there is no ‘one-mould-fits-all’.
So after an initial session of looking at the above I write individualised exercise and nutrition programmes for them.
There is always a full body analysis before we start any programme, which helps to devise some realistic and measurable goals that are monitored every 4-6 weeks, at which point the programme is changed where needed in order to keep it fresh and challenging and enable further progression.
Can you tell us a little bit more about your current approach/philosophy to training?
If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.
Progression is the key to becoming a better version of yourself; so I cycle programmes to ensure clients are always moving forward and pushing them outside of their comfort zone.
This is where the magic happens and the results are achieved.
What does a typical week’s routine look like for you in the gym?
I am currently using a 4 day split of Shoulders and Arms, Back, Legs, Chest.
I will usually throw some high intensity interval training, sprints or a high intensity circuit training in there at some point for metabolic conditioning and ensure my cardio-respiratory system is strong.
I loathe steady state cardio so prefer to train at high intensity.
It’s more effective and time efficient which is important for me as I am usually squeezing workouts in between clients so time is not a luxury I usually have a lot of.
Do you incorporate any non-typical exercises?
Outside of the typical ‘bodybuilding’ type exercises, I quite like to incorporate some kettlebell work, which I usually do as part of a high intensity circuit.
Kettlebell swings are a fantastic exercise for improving your posterior chain, core strength and mobility, and for helping your drop body fat if done with high intensity, i.e. high reps and short rest periods.
I also enjoy other functional training exercises such as sledge work and rope swings.
I’m lucky to work in one of the best-equipped Gyms in the country, Gymbox in Farringdon, which has a huge functional training space that is great for revving up some high intensity session plans.
Can you tell us a little bit more about your approach to nutrition? What does a typical day’s diet look like for you?
Firstly I believe in health and eating whole foods, no matter if I’m adding mass or ‘cutting’.
Quality proteins, goods fats, and A LOT of vegetables feature throughout, but when I am bulking I choose oats, sweet potato, or rice as my carb choices.
When dropping body fat, I like to use the ‘slow carb’ method.
This basically eliminates all starch, sugars and processed foods (aside from supplements) from my diet except pre and post workout.
So instead of sweet potato or rice I swap them for pulses like beans or lentils.
I find this to be a very effective and sustainable method which prevents any lapses in energy or anything like that which, when you do a job where you are on your feet all day, is vital.
I also drink an obscene amount of water throughout the day, I am never found without my handy filtered bottle!
I also like to factor in a ‘cheat day’ once every one to two weeks, especially if I am in a cutting phase, where I will eat whatever the hell I like, pizza being my biggest vice.
A typical day would look something like the following if I were in a phase of adding size:
What’s in your supplement cupboard at the moment?
As with food, when it comes to supplements I look for clean and quality products.
If there are a lot of things on the label that are unidentifiable or clearly hugely processed I tend to avoid them purely because these will more than likely cause an unhealthy gut and therefore inhibit my body’s ability to digest and extract the goodness from my food.
My favourite brand and the one I am associated with is Monkey Nutrition and I always have their Primal 26 Whey Isolate and creatine supplements stocked up as well as their GRO supplement which really helps promote the growth and repair of muscle tissue.
The quality of their products is unrivalled!
If I know I will be strapped for time and need to ingest extra calories I also like to use Gaspari Real Mass Probiotic series, which has an added probiotic to help maintain a healthy gut.
I also always ensure I am stocked up on quality fish oils, magnesium and zinc, garlic extract, green tea extract and vitamin D also.
What do you typically prescribe for someone looking to pack on muscle mass?
Firstly, try to get lean.
The leaner you are the more effective your body will be at utilising the effects of your natural insulin and testosterone production, which are the two most important hormones involved in muscle building.
Secondly, get strong!
If you train your body to be capable of lifting a heavy weight on the Squat, Bench and Deadlift, then your accessory lifts which you will use to promote Hypertrophy such as Leg press, Dips and Rows will also increase in weight.
Being able to lift a heavier weight for a longer time-under-tension is the key.
Stick to the big compound lifts for an extra testosterone boost as well, isolated exercises come into play more when trying to show definition.
What are the most common mistakes you see people make in the gym when training for muscle mass?
Lifting with poor tempo and poor range of motion.
I see way to many people rushing reps and trying to get through sets as fast as possible without really trying to find that mind to muscle connection, feeling the muscle working and embracing the burn that comes with really training a muscle hard.
Time under tension is key when forcing hypertrophy of the muscle and if reps are rushed with poor range of motion then not all of your muscle fibres will be recruited appropriately to stimulate maximum potential growth.
You’re about to bust out a last set of gruelling squats.
What do you put on your iPod to psych yourself up?
I’m actually not a huge fan of listening to music whilst I train purely because I don’t like to be distracted from what I’m doing and I guess having come from a sport where my head is underwater for hours on end, I have always been very good at maintaining good focus and am pretty intrinsically motivated.
I prefer to just have easy listening background music, usually electro-house, with a good beat.
However, from time to time a good drop can really help to elevate the senses and get me amped.
The drop on DVBBS & Borgeous tune Tsunami always gets me in a good mindset.
Do you have any advice for readers who may be interested in becoming a trainer or fitness model?
The best advice I can give you is to be really passionate about health and fitness.
Live the lifestyle and enjoy the lifestyle.
The most successful people in the industry are the ones who eat, sleep and breathe it.
If you don’t want to talk about it 24/7 then it probably isn’t for you as you can guarantee 95% of the conversations you have will eventually lead to someone wanting advise on how they can improve their bodies.
Professionalism is also something that can be overlooked as a trainer.
Being organised, punctual and attentive to your clients is hugely important as well as keeping up with the latest research.
The health and fitness industry is forever evolving and new research is being conducted all the time so the learning never stops!
What’s the funniest/most embarrassing thing you’ve seen happen to someone in the gym?
You see quite a lot of funny things actually, from outrageous training gear to general ridiculous gym etiquette.
However, I used to work with a trainer who, to put it politely, was anything but modest.
He would get completely bollock naked in the changing room and flex in front of a mirror as if it was completely normal for the whole changing room to see.
You have to admire anyone with the audacity to do that!
What are your favourite physiques in the industry, past or present?
My favourite physiques and those I aspire towards are those that look aesthetic and functional.
I’m a big fan of Steve Cook, I met him last year and he is a big dude!
I am also a big fan of Ulisses who I would argue is the most aesthetic man on the planet.
I have also had the pleasure of meeting him before and I have never met someone so ripped with such big arms!
Lazar Angelov is also a guy who’s physique I admire and the absolute legend that is Frank Zane is another physique that has always inspired me.
I also have huge respect for the women in the industry.
Michelle Lewin has an incredible body!
What are your goals for 2014 and the future?
I am continuing to grow my business and guide my clients toward reaching their goals.
I am also in the process of writing an e-book and will continue to write plenty of articles for various outlets.
In terms of physical goals, last year I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, competed in my first triathlon, and did Toughmudder, so I am looking for something new again to test myself this year.
I always aim to exit the year in better shape than I entered it so physically I will be aiming to be stronger, fitter and faster.
My aim in my work has always been to inspire people to live healthier lives and with the state of society these days the role of fitness professionals is becoming increasingly important, so I am constantly looking for new outlets to try to reach and enthuse a bigger audience to take up the lifestyle so I’d like to thank you again for inviting me to do this interview!
Well, that just about wraps things up, thanks for talking to us Ray.
If people want more info on you and your services, how can they find you?
It has been a pleasure.
I work out of Gymbox in Farringdon, London but also offer online coaching, personalised exercise and nutrition programmes.