The Myth of Muscle Toning



Personal training is about goal setting…

When I begin working with clients on a 1-2-1 basis, or on my 10 week programme, I ask them to state their individual goals. The most common answer I hear is “I would like to TONE UP…but I do not want to BUILD muscle”.

In this post, I am going to prove the above statement is incorrect. It is a big fat lie sold to you by the media!! It is physically impossible for skeletal muscle to go from soft to hard, or from hard to soft. Nor is it possible for muscle to be converted to fat or vice versa. Muscle is muscle, fat is fat, plain and simple.




First, let’s look at what people really mean when they say their goal is to ”tone up’. From experience, clients generally mean their goal is to develop a lean physique with shape and muscle definition. Sound about right?

In order to achieve this, there has to be an increase in lean mass (muscle hypertrophy) and a decrease in body fat (mainly subcutaneous, under the skin, fat). The above goal can only be achieved by altering body composition (muscle to fat ratio) in favour of lean tissue.




And to achieve this, YOU MUST ENGAGE IN STRENGTH TRAINING. Strength training, supplemented with moderate cardiovascular training is imperative in building a lean muscular physique. Of course, nutrition is paramount, but that is not the purpose of this post.

And by strength training, I don’t mean light weight and high repetitions. YOU MUST OVERLOAD MUSCLES with relatively heavy loads to stimulate fast twitch muscle fibres. This is not the same as body building, which is a totally different discipline.

Strength training will take care of any muscle adaptations and, to an extent, fat loss. Add some cardiovascular conditioning, and you are on course to achieving your goal of a lean healthy physique.

Strength training and cardio don’t have to be exclusive from one another. Science has proven HIIT, metabolic resistance training and circuit training have all been proven to get results fast!

This is the principle my CIRCUIT TRAINING CLASSES and BOOT CAMPS are designed upon and it is the reason my clients continue to achieve their goals and meet targets.


I hope this was of benefit

Alan (May 2018)


Malcolm Mackay

Malcolm Mackay (before & after)

TOTAL WEIGHT LOSS: 2 stone 4 lbs / 32 lbs / 15kg (the equivalent in weight to 7.5 2 litre bottles of coke or a Staffordshire bull Terrier)

ACHIEVED THROUGH: 1-2-1 Personal Training, Nutrition 

“I started 1-2-1 training with Alan towards the end of 2016 (several months after my 60th birthday). I had always lived an active lifestyle, but my weight started to increase in recent years. Somehow, I found myself over 90kg for the first time, and I was miserable! I often felt bloated after meals and I was experiencing lower back. My sleep pattern was poor and I felt out of balance. Given my age, I was sceptical about being able to lose weight and how much I could get my fitness back. Alan made the process very straight forward and he broke the training, and the nutrition, down so that I was clear on what I had to do, and he has been with me every step of the way. With Alan’s help, I’ve learned to respect my body, I feel younger, faster, fitter and happier…and I’ve lost well over 2 stone”

May 2017

Donna Harvie

Donna Harvie (before & after)

TOTAL WEIGHT LOSS: 2 stone 7.5 lbs/ 35.5 lbs / 15.8 kg (the equivalent in weight to 3.5 adult Maltese dogs or 150 Starbucks blueberry muffins)

ACHIEVED THROUGH: Circuit Training, Boot Camp, Nutrition, Spartan 70: 10 Week Boot Camp Transformation Programme

15M MSFT (BEEP TEST): Level 4.6 (May 2016) – 8.6 (November 2017)

“The Spartan experience has been amazing, I have enjoyed every single class & I especially enjoyed the variation covered through the different training disciplines. I am so happy with my results and I feel so much better for it. It’s made me very aware of how bad my eating habits were and it has given me a lot more confidence within myself. All the classes were very well instructed and explained so clearly. As far as I am concerned, I could not have achieved this without the great coaching from Alan – he has so much knowledge. I have signed up for the next Spartan classes in January 2018, which I can’t wait to get back into”

November 2017

Lesley Gallagher

Lesley Gallagher (before & after)

TOTAL WEIGHT LOSS: 1 stone 6 lbs/ 20 lbs / 9.1 kg (the equivalent in weight to 30 tins of soup or 30 human hearts)

ACHIEVED THROUGH: 1-2-1 Personal Training, Circuit Training, Boot Camp, Nutrition, Spartan 70: 10 Week Boot Camp Transformation Programme

15M MSFT (BEEP TEST): Level 5.4 (May 2016) – 8.8 (November 2017)

“As a runner, when I developed knee problems, I thought my days of exercising were over. I started gaining weight and I felt miserable. Thank goodness a friend took me along to Alan’s classes. The sessions were amazing. The group are so welcoming and supportive. I learned good technique and discovered just how important developing core strength is. Over the past two years I’ve now completed Alan’s five week Gladiator programme, I’ve had PT sessions and I’ve just signed up for my second 10 week transformation programme: Spartan 70. Wanting to be as strong as I can be is definitely now part of my life. I love every minute of it and I would encourage anyone to speak to Alan Goodwin today about what you can achieve”

November 2017

Poem: Depression



You feel it all over

From head to toe,

You carry it with you

Wherever you go…

Although in a crowd

You feel very alone,

Is everyone with someone?

And you are on your own?





From time to time

Life loses appeal,

Sadness & pain

Is all you can feel…

You’ve no satisfaction

From your favourite food,

And when you make love

Does it feel as good?


 Your world is in darkness

You’ve no-one to hold,

You feel wholly isolated

Naked & cold…

Would you be missed

If you checked out tonight?

It’s a never ending tunnel

Without any light





Feeling worthless & inferior

And you don’t know why,

You think you have failed

Before you even try…

Are you really so unattractive?

It certainly feels that way,

‘Who would want me’ you ask yourself

And you ask it everyday


If you don’t keep striving

The bastards win the fight,

Pray to God that the dark

Will soon be the light…

Someone once told me

‘You’ve got to have hope’,

If you don’t believe you can beat it

How will you cope?


 What goes around comes around

Karma will prevail,

The good will eventually succeed

And the bad will always fail…

The battle is yours

And it’s yours to win,

Where’s this indomitable spirit

That’s locked deep within?






Alan J. Goodwin 2004


Poem: A day in the Life of M.E.



My hands are so cold

My limbs are so weak

It’s time to be bold

For the future looks bleak


Muscles ache and burn

Words no longer flow

How do I forget

I can feel so low?


The body’s so sluggish

I must scream and shout

It all makes me wonder

What life’s all about?




Glands are so swollen

The throat is so sore

I break down in tears

I can’t bear much more


At night so depressed

Feeling all alone

Awake in the dark

And sick to the bone




The pain’s not forever

The illness will go

But not overnight

As recovery is slow


I’ll not let it beat me

I’ve grown strong and tough

That’s what is needed

When I’ve had enough


Embracing each day

What an awesome task!

At least I’m alive

What more can I ask?




Alan J. Goodwin 2001


Metabolic Resistance Training? What? Why? Where? When?




Whether you want to gain lean mass, trim the body fat, improve sports performance or take a step closer to achieving the toned lean physique you’ve been working towards, resistance training is a must.

And I WOULD LIKE TO OFFER SOME ADVICE to ensure you get the most from your visits to the gym, or more specifically, the weights room…

So, you’ve just finished your first set of pull downs or back squats (or whichever exercise you’re working on). What now? Do you sit on the bench, pull your phone out and catch up on the day’s social media? Do you text your pal to arrange that long overdue trip to the cinema?


Let’s assume you chose the latter

So, you want to maximise the efficiency of your workouts, do you?

What I’m about to tell you will not only increase your gains (or losses), it will also cut your workout time down considerably. I often tell my clients the longest workout is not necessarily the best workout; ‘QUALITY OVER QUANTITY’.

THE ANSWER lies in what IS known as METABOLIC RESISTANCE TRAINING (MRT). MRT, in a nutshell, is a series of exercises performed back to back at high intensity with minimal or no rest between each exercise. MRT is somewhat of an ‘umbrella term’ covering a range of disciplines such as supersets, drop sets and resistance circuit training.




MRT tends to be performed using ‘compound exercises’. Compound exercises are multi-joint exercises that challenge several muscle groups at a time. Examples include squats, deadlifts, lunges, pull downs and chest presses.

The aim of an MRT session is to deplete the body of its natural resources and increase ‘post exercise oxygen consumption’ (EPOC) aka the after-burn effect. This basically means, you make your body work harder so it expends more energy returning to normal. The harder your body works to return to homoeostasis (a state of balance), the more calories it burns and the more fat it continues to melt for hours, even days, after an MRT workout.

The beauty of MRT, other than its simplicity, is it successfully BREAKS DOWN TRADITIONAL BARRIERS BETWEEN CARDIOVASCULAR TRAINING AND WEIGHT TRAINING by increasing muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance.

In addition to this, regularly performing MRT increases production of human growth hormone (HGH); an anti-ageing hormone. Increased production of HGH slows down the ageing the process.




The number of exercises and circuits you perform during an MRT workout ultimately depends on your training goals and fitness level. However, I recommend starting with as little as 2-3 rounds of 3-4 exercises, building up to 4 intense rounds of 8 exercises. Progression can be achieved not just by adding exercises and circuits, but also by increasing weights and attempting more challenging exercises. For the number of repetitions, see my blog post ‘Ideal rep Range’.

Although the goal is to leave the gym exhausted, PERFORMING ALL EXERCISES WITH SAFE AND EFFECTIVE TECHNIQUE IS PARAMOUNT. So, remember folks, work on technique first and build the intensity sensibly. If you are new to resistance training, seek the advice and instruction of a professional with lifting experience.

Give it a try. You will be reaping the benefits in no time!

Benefits of MRT summarised

  • Aerobic AND anaerobic adaptations
  • A Greater calorie deficit achieved than traditional weight training or cardiovascular training
  • Cuts workout time down considerably
  • Fast track method of altering body composition (muscle to fat ratio)
  • Increased production of (HGH) – an anti-ageing hormone
  • Adds variation and fun to gym sessions

Emma Boyle

PicMonkey Image22

TOTAL WEIGHT LOSS: 2 stone 5 lbs/ 33 lbs / 15 kg (the equivalent in weight to 4 human heads + a Guinea pig!)

ACHIEVED THROUGH: Circuit Training, Boot Camp, Boxing Fitness, Nutrition, Spartan 70: 10 Week Boot Camp Transformation Programme

15M MSFT (BEEP TEST): Level 9.2 (August 2016) – 11.7 (July 2017)

“I first started boxing fitness which was great fun, a brilliant work out and everyone in the class was so friendly. This made it so much easier for me and I started the other classes. My fitness has improved so much, I can now achieve things with my body that I never thought I could – such as chin ups!! I love Ord Hill Boot Camp which has been invaluable in improving my running technique and getting me a sub 24 min 5k! Alan’s knowledge of fitness and nutrition is unsurpassed and has helped me achieve so much more than my physical goals”

July 2017

Spartan 70: 10 Week Boot Camp Transformation Programme

Louise Taylor (side) week 1 & week 10
Louise Taylor (front) week 1 & week 10


18 lbs (1 stone 4 lbs) – the equivalent to the average car tyre or a 40″ flat screen TV!!


* week 1: 141/89 (hypertensive)
* week 10: 109/82 (ideal range)

* week 1: 37
* week 10: 34



* week 1: L 3.7
* week 10: L 5.3


Claire Jack (side) Week 1 & 10

Claire Jack (front) Week 1 & 10


17 lbs (1 stone 3 lbs) – the equivalent to 2 gallons of paint or 3 bricks


* week 1: 122/78
* week 10: 111/73


* week 1: 28
* week 10: 25


* week 1: L 5.6
* week 10: L 6.5


Shona Calder (side) Week 1 & Week 10


9 lbs – the equivalent to a large watermelon!!


* week 1: 150/93 (hypertensive)
* week 10: 136/87 (almost ideal range)

* week 1: 29
* week 10: 27



* week 1: L 6.4
* week 10: L 7.8


Donna Harvie (side) Week 1 & Week 10


15.5 lbs (1 stone 1.5 lbs) – the equivalent to a medium sized bowling ball + an average sized table lamp


* week 1: 127/76 (ideal range)
* week 10: 124/68 (ideal range)

* week 1: 25.5
* week 10: 23



* week 1: L 7.4
* week 10: L 8.6


Anika Watkins (side) Week 1 & Week 10


12.5 lbs – the equivalent to 4.5 human brains or 6L of water


* week 1: 129/76
* week 10: 109/70


* week 1: 25
* week 10: 22


* week 1: L 7.1
* week 10: L 8.3

The Hero & The Coward

“I’ll walk right into hell

To face my beast within,

To live my life a coward

Would mean to live in sin”



THROUGHOUT MY CHILDHOOD and adolescence, I was persistently overwhelmed by feelings of fear. I avoided anything that challenged me or caused me to step out of my comfort zone because I was ignorant of my body’s natural response to unfamiliar situations. I feared change, rejection, being alone, intimacy, making wrong choices, public speaking, failure, even success; the list goes on. Most of all I WAS AFRAID OF CONFRONTATION.


These feelings were so intense, I was at times paralysed by them, unable to think or act. My fear led to depression and apathy, and I consistently underachieved in many areas of life. I even allowed people to push me around both mentally and physically. I remember asking my peers on numerous occasions, “don’t you ever get scared”? “NO!” they always replied. How could this be? WAS I THE ONLY ONE WHO FELT THIS WAY?




These feelings were still with me when I reached adulthood and, I believe, were a contributing factor in the breakdown of my physical and mental health. As a young man, with a young man’s ego, I MUST ADMIT TO BEING VERY ASHAMED OF HOW I FELT. Having concluded I was the only person who lived with such intense feelings of weakness, I labelled myself a coward, a failure even. PERHAPS I WAS A SHEEP IN A WORLD OF LIONS?


Several years ago, I decided to talk to a friend about how I was feeling. She recommended a book she thought would benefit me to read. The book was about ‘Fear’ and ‘how to turn fear into confidence and action’. I was somewhat sceptical, but I had nothing to lose so I began reading. PERHAPS ALL MY FEARS MIGHT MAGICALLY DISAPPEAR with my new-found knowledge? Or maybe I would become fearless, even indestructible, in the face of adversity?


Needless to say, I did not become fearless. And if I thought this book, or any other book, was going to make these feeling go away, I was mistaken. Instead, I received an education that was of far greater value. I learned several truths which granted me the power to TURN FEAR INTO MY GREATEST ALLY. In his aptly named book, FEAR: THE FRIEND OF EXCEPTIONAL PEOPLE, Geoff Thompson states “the world is your oyster, it is only you who holds yourself back”.




And so, my journey began. I was about to embark upon an adventure where I would find myself in extreme situations and go far beyond what I once thought possible.


Before I continue, it would be wise to differentiate between the two different types of fear. The first is instinctual and healthy fear, alerting us to real danger that could cause harm or threaten our existence. The second is destructive and imprisoning fear which affects our ability to grow and work towards our dreams. This type of fear is often the result of conditioning and poor education. It is, of course, the second I refer to in this entry.


I learned much from the book my friend recommended, and I have learned much from many books on the same subject since. I have expanded my knowledge through seminars and documentaries and I have learned from experience. However, the 5 TRUTHS ABOUT FEAR was my starting point and I always return to them when I find myself moving back towards the dark cloud of negativity and self-doubt. THESE TRUTHS GAVE ME PERSPECTIVE AND CHANGED THE COURSE OF MY LIFE, and I WISH TO SHARE THEM WITH YOU…




Paradoxically, this realisation provided much needed comfort because I now understood MY GOAL WAS NOT TO RID MYSELF OF FEAR, IT WAS TO ACCEPT IT AS A NECESSARY PART OF LIFE, and I was going to have to change my relationship with it so I no longer lived under its oppression. I had been stagnant for years, waiting for my fears to vanish so I could begin my life. I no longer had to work so hard to free myself of these feelings, because it was not possible. INSTEAD OF TRYING TO RESIST THESE FEELINGS, I WAS GOING TO WELCOME THEM AND VIEW THEM AS OPPORTUNITIES TO GROW. But where to begin?




Dr David Mickel once said “IF YOU’RE AFRAID OF DROWNING FIND WATER AND JUMP IN!” I would begin by finding water. Fear will always be present in new and unfamiliar situations, but it is possible to overcome fear of a certain situation – by confronting it. In the words of Helen Keller “THE ONLY WAY OUT IS THROUGH”. I was going to look at each of my fears individually, then tackle them one at a time. Each time I conquered something that scared me, my comfort zone would expand and I would grow larger. I WAS GOING TO HAVE FUN WITH THIS. So, like the cowardly lion in ‘The Wizard of Oz’, I began my journey on my very own metaphoric yellow brick road. The only difference being, I was no longer searching for courage. Instead, I was going to ‘FEEL THE FEAR AND DO IT ANYWAY’. No confrontation no desensitisation. No pain no growth.






As a personal trainer, people frequently tell me they are going to come along to one of my Boot Camps when they feel better about themselves or they will start my classes when they are ready. I call this tomorrow thinking. I too thought this way for many years. But in truth, there is no tomorrow. THE DOING IT COMES BEFORE THE FEELING BETTER. If you sit at home waiting to feel better, you will be waiting a long time, an eternity perhaps.


When I began experimenting with this concept, I joined a local amateur dramatics group. Given how low my self-confidence was at the time, this was possibly the toughest thing I had ever done. Fear is relative you see. I have since conquered bigger opponents and completed greater quests, but nothing required more courage than it did to make that first step. It was winter and I will never forget the dark, lonely walk to my first rehearsal. I remember thinking I could easily just turn back and tell my friends the rehearsal was cancelled, or they did not have space for me. After all, no one would have known it was a lie – except me, and MY DAYS OF LIVING THIS WAY WERE OVER. FEAR WAS NO LONGER A SIGNAL FOR ME TO RETREAT, IT WAS NOW MY CATALYST TO GREATER THINGS.






The realisation I WAS NOT THE ONLY PERSON FEELING THIS WAY was a welcome one. Of course, I would not like to see anyone crippled by fear the way I was, but knowing FEAR IS PERFECTLY NATURAL brought me great solace. With hindsight, I can see now MY PEERS WERE LYING. They too were afraid, because TO BE HUMAN IS TO BE AFRAID. I can also see now I was NOT weak for feeling this way. But why did they lie about being scared? Perhaps because we are taught fear equates to weakness? “Admitting your fears is the first and foremost step in overcoming them” Geoff Thompson.


“The coward and the hero both feel the same feelings, the only difference between the two is that the hero handles the feelings and the coward does not” – Cus D’amato.  




No matter how scary facing my fears was going to be, it surely could not be worse than feeling helpless all the time.  At least I would no longer be imprisoned by these feelings. And if I was stuck with fear, then it was going to have to come along with me. There was room. In fact, I didn’t mind it watching while I did all the things it once convinced me I could not do. I WOULD BECOME COMFORTABLE WITH DISCOMFORT. I would put myself in situations where I was at risk of experiencing all the things I was afraid of. If I was going to be alone, rejected, a failure, a success or in a situation where I had to adapt to change or confrontation, I WOULD HANDLE IT.


I did just that and I continue to do it. Guess what? I still experience fear every day. In fact, I continue to go in search of situations that provide challenge and cause me discomfort, because that is where the growth lies. A necessary evil if we are to become the fullest expression of ourselves and achieve our potential.


“We can’t escape fear, we can only transform it into a companion that accompanies us on all our exciting adventures” Susan Jeffers


By following these 5 simple truths, I have travelled alone to the far corners of the world. I have acted on stage, skydived from 11000 ft and I have confronted many of the things that held me prisoner for many years. I now run my own personal training business where I am constantly required to talk in front of groups of people. I have been rejected, embraced change, made mistakes, experienced discomfort and I have grown in ways I never thought possible. I never did go all the way to Oz to find my courage. I didn’t have to, turns out I had it in me all along.




I know now, I AM A LION NOT A SHEEP. Do lions experience fear? I’d bet my life on it!





(March 2017)



  • Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway – Susan Jeffers
  • Fear: The Friend of Exceptional People – Geoff Thompson
  • The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
  • Man’s Search for Meaning – Victor E. Frankl
  • The Secret – Rhonda Byrne
  • The Elephant and The Twig – Geoff Thompson