Tag Archives: diet

Lawson’s recipe for sporting success

“Nutrition is the fastest growing area, that is why more players are paying for their own care, because it’s that important,” says sports nutritionist and Uefa-qualified football coach Matt Lawson. 

Michelin-starred chef Jonny Marsh works with a number of Premier League footballers as their personal chef

With the rise of sportspeople having their own personal chefs, meal plans and specifically tailored diets, Lawson is much in demand.

“Dietetics was not something I started out in, I was mainly interested in the human body, what happens to us day to day,” he explains.

“Through biology at school I found nutrition and that led to becoming a Registered Dietitian at the University of Nottingham. It is the gold standard of diet and nutrition service.”

Patriotic pride with Team GB

In what has been an established career in football already, Lawson has worked with Team GB, Notts County’s first team, Notts County Ladies and Doncaster Rovers.

“Working with Team GB is the highlight of my career without a doubt,” he says.

“People represent their country, for me to be involved —  wow! I felt undeserving really. This is a special country and I love it deeply. Being a dietitian and helping people, being involved is what makes it worthwhile.”

‘Working with Team GB is the highlight of my career’

Lawson was also part of his boyhood club Notts County’s 22 match away-game unbeaten streak, an all-time club record, under manager Keith Curle.

“On top of that, winning Coach of the Year in 2016, for the Notts County Ladies team doing the cup and league double whilst taking my UEFA badges, it was something I was very lucky to be involved in. Really the players did it for me,” he says.

Measuring success

Following the release of his new book Recipes for Success Lawson believes sports nutrition is more important than ever.

“My book is all about working to simple recipes that we know help people in day-to-day life,” he explains. “Nutrition and the way we look at training is the main thing that drives performance.”

“The greatest change recently is the move towards technology. Now we measure urine, blood, sweat, diet, as well as weight, body fat and distance. More methods come around and we need to utilise them,” emphasises Lawson.

No more parties

Gone are the days of top-level athletes and sports people eating and drinking what they like, with Lawson claiming nutrition can be the vital factor to sporting success.

‘My book is all about working to simple recipes that we know help people, in day to day life’

“Footballers have changed, only very few get away with the party life. Most of them will get injured, football is paid well and there are sacrifices,” he states.

“Overall, I want the athlete to care about it, that is the main thing. We need to work with players to make them the best, continually improving. Nutrition impacts genetic and metabolic function, it is this that affects the very small margins between winning and losing.”

The future looks exciting for Lawson, who is aiming to expand his horizons both off the pitch in nutrition and on the pitch with coaching.

“I am developing my own football academy, nutrition consultancy and charity that can help people find a pathway into football,” he explains.

“We need more pitches for young people, especially women, and more joining the battle against diet-related ill health in our country.”

You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattLawson7 and find out more on his new book Recipes for Success on his website.


Addicted to the Ironhouse

Rory Vanhorn trains at the ‘Ironhouse’, otherwise known as the gym, seven days a week in pursuit of a career as a physique model and bodybuilder.

Rory tries never to miss a session – even if the gym is closed on Christmas he has to do an intense workout at home.

He trains each body part once a week but makes it his priority to work on his legs twice as he feels that’s what he needs to focus on.

My gym fanatic friend Rory is 24 years old, stands at 5ft 9ins and weighs 13 stone, with less than 10% body fat.Post Workout

He has been training at the gym for five years, and in that time has developed a heavily muscled physique.

He plans to compete at the 2017 Miami Pro physiques competition and his main goal is to look as ripped as he can, to catch the sponsors’ eye and get signed up for a career as a physique model.

Physique models get signed to advertise gym wear, equipment and supplements.

Rory has previously competed in men’s physique and bodybuilding competitions in the UK and hopes to receive his IFBB (International Federation of Bodybuilders) pro card in the long term.

This would allow him access to enter competitions such as Mr Olympia and Arnold Amateur which reward  bigger prizes.


Arriving at the Bodyworks gym in Tottenham, what first struck me was the testosterone-fuelled atmosphere at the venue where Rory trains to make his ‘gains’ – gym jargon for muscle growth.

The continuous grunts and heavily muscular physiques all around can make a newcomer feel very small and intimidated, but the giants of the gym were more than happy to help out a newbie, and offer tips on how to achieve the physique I was after.

My first day in the gym was ‘international chest day’ which is a gym in-joke as coincidentally in many gyms on a Mondays most people training are seen working out their chests.

Exercises included flat bench chest press, upper chest press and pectoral flies. Each exercise followed the same regime four sets and 10-12 reps on all exercises.

Fortunately I’d done a bit of this before as it’s the sort of activity I like to do whenever I visit any gym, but I didn’t manage to keep up with Rory, as he managed to squeeze 10 reps of 140kg on the flat bench.


My max was 10 reps on 80kg which is only half of what Rory lifts. I wouldn’t dare put that weight over my chest for one simple reason; I don’t want to be crushed.

We rounded off the session with a whey protein shake and I made sure I gave myself enough rest for the following day.

Rory’s diet includes chicken breasts and Caesar salads, vegetable soup and smoked salmon with boiled eggs which are all part of a plan he has been following over the last six months.No Carbs

I woke up on Day Two with slight pectoral muscle soreness but nothing serious enough to stop me training.

Today’s agenda was working on the back muscles, including exercises such as dead lifts, seated rows and lat pull downs.

Following Monday’s regime of 10-12 reps and four sets, we continued our intense training sessions.

What blew me away was Rory dead-lifting 200kg which is nearly triple his bodyweight as he weighs 82kg. I managed to squeeze a rep out of 110kg which isn’t even close but I guess not too bad.

I actually attempted Rory’s lift but the most I could do is push and roll the bar forwards and backwards as trying to lift it was a complete fail.


Due to the intensity of the back workout I had woken up with a stiff lower back and slight muscle soreness around my bicep, but I wanted to keep on training so I could have more of an insight into Rory’s regime.

Day Three was leg day – and for me, this was the most difficult one of the three as those are probably my least-trained muscles.

Never failing to impress, Rory managed to rep out three deep squats out of 160kg which is basically double his body weight.

My squat max was two assisted reps out of 90kg, and after the session I struggled to get home due to the muscle fatigue which makes you lose balance.

No need to fear as after a month of continuous exercise the muscle soreness and aches no longer appear as frequent because your muscles start to get use to the pain.

Social media

One of the common things you see in the gym world is people training their upper body at the expense of their legs. They are often labelled as ‘Johnny Bravo’ as they replicate the cartoon character’s top-heavy image.

Making sure every muscle is in proportion is why bodybuilders like Rory have a day for each muscle group, and even after just three days, I could see several muscles starting to bulge slightly on my own physique, and improvements made strength-wise by particular exercises.

Currently Rory looks up to bodybuilders such as Simeon Panda and Ulisses Jr who are very popular on social media with millions of Instagram followers.Back Day

They are known for their low body-fat, defined and bulky physique.

They also post motivational gym videos regularly on YouTube and footage from their training sessions at the gym.

What I learned from my sessions with Rory is that it’s all about consistency and hard work.

I seen more muscle growth over the few days training with him than when I trained by myself in my previous gym, which shows the intensity of the training he does on a day-to-day basis.

My sessions with Rory have been really inspiring especially when he shown me what he looked like when he started his gym work. It was very motivational and shows anything is possible once you put your all into it.

Q&A with Damian Wyszomierski

Elephant Sports spoke to Damian Wyszomierski, an aspiring MMA fighter and personal trainer from Poland about his life in Britain and using sport, fitness and diet to help him find his path in life.

At what age did you start to play sports?
I played football since I was 10 years old, that lasted for six years. After that I decided to swap the ball for weights and the gym, as well as getting into mixed martial arts.

You’re a person that has experience in the fight game and strength training. What is the main difference between these two and can you implement them together?
Stand-up practices in sports such as kickboxing, Muay Thai and karate are about polishing your technique, speed and agility. Let’s not forget about the aspect of strength that also plays a major role. The name ‘strength training’ says it all. Fortunately, you can link martial arts and strength training together and that’s how it works out for me.

What is the difference between sports such as football and full contact sports?
In such sports, a team is responsible for everything that occurs on the field. On the other hand, in contact sports you’re the person that has control over everything. It’s only you and the opponent in front of you.

Tell me more about your adventure with the craft of martial arts and gym training? When did you actually become serious about it?
I was 16 years old. There was simply a moment when I came to the conclusion I need something else than football. Honestly, it didn’t give me as much happiness anymore. I decided to try a different sport and that’s how I found myself in the place I am today. The seriousness towards giving it a 100% in martial arts and strength training made me quit football once for all.

What impact did your move to the UK have on you?
To be honest I never had a problem with communication and adaptation. I’m a person that acclimates and gets on with people, so I can’t say I had to worry about this.

Is it hard to overcome the language barrier?
When I first came to England I didn’t understand a single word. Literately nothing. Nevertheless, I still managed to train normally and participate like I did back home. So no, I don’t think it’s a problem. At least for me.

Have you ever had any trouble because of misunderstanding what the people are saying to you?
No, never. I tend to laugh if such a situation occurs.

Tell me about your role as a personal trainer
I’m here to help people that are having all kinds of problems. Whether it’s being overweight or wanting to gaining pure muscle, I’m here for them. Often I encounter people searching for a trainer that will help them with a training routine in order to become simply a fitter person. Others need the training to put them in a better frame of mind.

Diet or training? Which aspect is more important?
Both aspects are really important. Although when it comes to our physique the diet takes the podium, as 75% of what we look like comes from a well-balanced diet and the 25% is hard work done in practice. On the other hand, if you’re concentrating mainly on pure ability, speed or efficiency, then training takes over.

So a well-balanced diet is key?
I believe a well-balanced diet linked with the proper training programme, as well as sufficient cardio routines is the true key to success. Hard work and dedication.

Diets, training routines and personal consultations – are you a one-man band?
Ha ha, that’s my role! I’m using my knowledge to help people reach their desired physique or any other goals they have.

How long does your client have to wait for a plan?
I always tell the interested individual that it usually takes three days until I send the diet. Although, when I have time it takes no longer than 24 hours. It depends whether I have a lot to do at work or any other responsibilities. Trust me, it’s time-consuming.

Many people believe the effects of training should be immediate? What do you have to say to those people?
On the internet we can read a number of false statements such as “I lost 10kg in 30 days. You can do it too!” Ads like this are practically everywhere, however it’s simply a fraud. Let me repeat one more time: a balanced diet, along with disciplined training will give you the desired effect. The level of metabolism varies, that’s the reason for some people it takes longer to reach their goal. It might see a difference within a month, whereas you’re training partner will by the end of the week. Just train hard and be patient.

Hard day of workout along with crisps in the evening? How does it sound?
From time to time everyone should allow themselves to have something different to eat. There’s nothing wrong with that. We’re all humans and we’ll have a moment of weakness. When I’m working with a client I implement so called ‘cheat meals’. Instead of having a healthy meal an individual can eat whatever they want.

You’re a realist and I guess you know how hard it is turn what you do into a real success…
Sure, I know how hard it is. Hopefully all the hard work pays off one day and I’ll be able to say because of this I’m making the money I need in order to have a normal life. Although at the moment just like everyone else at the beginning of their road I have a full-time job and the money I earn from being a personal trainer is just a little bonus.

The popularity of training is huge at the moment, and summer is just around the corner. Would you say the buzz will slowly fade away?
Honestly, there are a lot of seasonal gym goers that train just because they’re going on vacation and want to show off on the beach. These are the people that often end up leaving before they even started. On the other hand, there are many people are passionate about strength training and other sports. In my opinion, there will always be people that treat the sport differently. At the end of the day it’s their decision in what category they fall into.