Personal Trainer Collective Conference Review

By Dave 0

So I am just back from a weekend in the UK, where Jason, Sarah and myself attended the 2016 Personal Trainer Collective Conference. What initially piqued my interest in this conference was not only the broad range of topics being discussed but also the calibre of professionals that were delivering the material – James Krieger , Brad Schoenfeld, Bret Contreras and Alan Aragon.


The Personal Trainer Collective Conference


I have been following most of the above guys online, particularly over the last year or so and I was excited to see each of them lecture for the first time in person. All 4 guys have the right mix of academia and time spent in the trenches – a potent mix and one that not too many coaches possess.

The topics being discussed were very relevant to practical coaching and it was information that could be put into practice immediately upon returning to the gym – something that defines quality in a presentation.

The conference lasted two days and on both days the order of speakers was the same. The first thing that struck me was how quickly time passed for each presentation, which is obviously a good sign as a lot of folks will know the pain of sitting through a lecture or talk that drags on for hours and the struggle to stay awake is real. Each speaker was engaging and had the ability to deliver complex information in a clear and humorous way, there were plenty of bro-isms to keep everyone entertained!

This is also my third attempt at writing this review as previous iterations were far too long – a good sign that the weekend was crammed full of valuable information. I will just give a brief overview of the 2 days . Also a little disclaimer though as no doubt I missed a few things (the nuggets of information were being dispensed at breakneck speed) I probably had a bias towards tracking information that is particularly relevant to the gaps in my own personal knowledge and also information that is most pertinent to where I am at in my coaching life cycle right now.

And of course I don’t want to delve into each presentation in meticulous detail and give away too much in respect to the speakers and also the fact that Brad Schoenfeld in particular was sharing some information around studies that are still to be published.

*Although a large amount of content can be found here on the Personal Trainer Collective facebook page.

Some of the main takeaway points for me were…


From James Krieger – http://weightology.net

The importance of NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis) on weight regulation. The contents of this first talk will really have me examining how I will approach my training with certain clients and really look at NEAT – in other words, the calories that we burn (sorry expend!) for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise.

A big eye opener for me was that Lean Body Mass works far less in elevating RMR (resting metabolic rate) than I previously thought AND NEAT can account for up to 15% of daily energy expenditure in very sedentary people and 50% or more (!) in very active people!!


It pays to fidget…


So this certainly underlines the importance of trying to just keep more active and move around – and there were some stats presented to show just how much modern lifestyles are working against us here, comparing the amount of calories burned by the average American in the 1970’s to present day – in some cases it was over 600cals less per day!

It was also mentioned that although RMR does decrease with age, the drop in NEAT is a bigger contributor, as older people just become less active!

For trainers, we should be very much focused not only on what we have our clients do for the hour we train them but also make sure they are staying active for the rest of the day (over time, smashing someone into the ground and then having them unable to do anything for the rest of the day could very well be counter productive over time!)

Our bodies don’t want us to lose weight and society contributes to low NEAT and making conscious efforts to improve NEAT levels can help keep weight off and long term success.

When training for fat loss, minimal reductions are achieved through training alone. The AMOUNT of training predicts fat mass loss better than INTENSITY. But exercise is critical for long term weight management.

I also found out that EPOC only comprises 6-15% of net exercise energy expenditure – far less than I originally thought. The whole ‘afterburn’ thing is way overrated.

Energy deficits reduce muscle protein synthesis but resistance training brings this back to normal.

Interval training may suppress appetite – which contributes to the EPOC effect.


From Brad Schoenfeld – http://www.lookgreatnaked.com/blog/

When it comes to hypertrophy, hitting the muscles from multiple angles is key. Loads of 65% or greater of 1rm are necessary to elicit favourable increases in hypertrophy and 3 minute rest intervals allowed for greater hypertrophy.

Although I use and prescribe tempo training in my programs (and in my own training) it was interesting to hear Brad talk about tempo training – saying that you can’t truly control tempo fully and the only way to control tempo is to not train hard. Again, in terms of hypertrophy training this may be more relevant, where he went on to say that the accumulation of time under tension is really just VOLUME.

Brad also went into more detail with regards to programming, strength cycles, metabolic cycles and hypertrophy cycles – all of which he explains in his new book.


From Bret Contreras – https://bretcontreras.com

I was interested in a lot of the personal observations that Bret Contreras shared with training amongst his own clients and it was in a way, reassuring to have come to a lot of similar conclusions myself and our shared hatred for instagram form police. A huge think he said was that when a person (generally online) critiques someones form and talks in absolutes or black and whites,  you can be almost guaranteed that person has not trained a significant amount of people. Body types require different positions and he talked more about this in relation to the squat.

The ‘American’ deadlift is something I am looking forward to playing around with as due to rehabbing my own knee, I am always keen to discover new ways and different angles to hit the glutes.



‘Penalty free volume’ is something that I will be adding to my group sessions over the next few weeks – ‘not all volume was created equally’.


From Alan Aragon – http://www.alanaragon.com

Alan Aragon is on another level when it comes to presentations, confidence and ability to deliver information. I will attend future talks / seminars for sure.


Obesity is complex and multifactoral


Th anabolic window theory was alanysed in the 2004 book Nutrient Timing – which actually looked at glycogen depletion in an endurance exercise setting (ignore the buff guy on the cover) and, like a lot of studies, the findings were taken as black and white across a broad spectrum of exercise. The problems with this data was that there was a general lack of context and goal setting, there was a reliance upon short term data and a reliance on using overnight fasted subjects put through endurance training protocols – take away point? Never just read the abstract!

Protein distribution is important when it comes to achieving your goals. 4 feedings were deemed superior to 2-8 feedings with the same net protein intake. This had a lot to do with the Leucine threshold.


The anabolic window goes out the window when you take in enough protein throughout the day


Although nutrient timing can be important in hypo-caloric conditions.

When it comes to carb distribution – (as always!!) go with what the client can stick with, adherence is key!!  It is worth noting that once you get enough protein, carbs do not matter post workout.

‘Do not skip breakfast if building muscle is the goal’ Alan Aragon

Beef and fish has a higher insulin response than porridge and pasta (!)

Fat adapted = Carb impaired.


Success leaves clues…


Keto is detrimental to sports performance, high intensity sports and sports that require intermittent efforts.

When writing dietary programs it is important to maximise the amount of carbs that a client can take in while still make progress – you can always go down if you hit a plateau and this gives you some ‘wiggle room’ – something I experienced (and messed up on) with MMA weight cuts in the past.

Alan also gave us some really good formulas on estimating the time to reach a desired weight and body composition level, something that I will use with my clients and it will also be incredible useful in establishing realistic expectations from the start of a program.




That was all a fraction of the notes and pictures I took. Each of the speakers were excellent and the chemistry between all four led to a relaxed but thoroughly informative weekend. The whole conference was extremely well run, the facilities in Bath University were excellent and some R&R in the thermal spa were just what the doctor ordered. The presentations were packed with relevant information and the two days flowed extremely well and a big thank you to the organisers at the Personal Trainer Collective.

As you can see from the above there was a tonne of information (plenty of more that didn’t make this blog cut and that I will have to spend a bit more time absorbing), the amount of notes taken for each presentation has no direct implication towards the quality of content, as I said above, the above information is extremely relevant to where I am at in my learning at this current time, all speakers were excellent!


If it fits your macros…


I will certainly be following all 4 speakers in more detail going forward! All in all a great weekend, and it was great to travel with the Jason and Sarah and no doubt all 3 of us will have taken back some specific stuff that we will be able to put our own spin on and help our own clients and the gym member going forward!


author: Dave