Think you need weights to add muscle and burn fat to transform your body? Think again. The experts at Coach’s sister brand Men’s Fitness spoke to celebrity trainer Lonan O’Herlihy, aka The Posh PT, about building a better body by embracing bodyweight training.
Lonan O’Herlihy has built the perfect body. But it hasn’t been easy
That’s because O’Herlihy, better known to his legion of online followers as The Posh PT, has suffered more injuries over the past five years than most professional stuntmen suffer in a career. Shoulders, elbows, hips, knees: you name a joint and he’s almost certainly injured it. It’s enough to keep a physio in full-time employment – and if you follow him on Instagram you’ll know that, luckily, he dates one. But instead of throwing in the towel and giving the gym a wide berth, he’s squared up to the challenge and found a better way to train that not only keeps him injury-free, but has also built that classic V-shaped torso of wide shoulders, big chest and arms and narrow waist that every man in the queue for the bench press covets. And he’s done it by embracing bodyweight moves, focusing on great form and movement patterns to move his body in a functional and fruitful way to build muscle mass while stripping away body fat. Here O’Herlihy explains more about his approaches to training, nutrition and injury prevention. Over the following pages, he reveals the bodyweight circuits he uses to torch fat and sculpt lean, hard abs.
Photography: Glen Burrows
What first inspired your love of all things health and fitness?
Growing up I was a very keen sportsman – if there was a sport offered at school, I would play it! My problem was constant injury, which meant most of the time I had to hold back and I wasn’t able to fully commit myself. But with regular rehabilitation I saw a dramatic difference in my ability to keep playing. This was followed by an interest in rehab and how my body was reacting and improving gradually. At 20 I started gym training on top of a rigorous rowing schedule at university and saw muscle developments I hadn’t before. I started out very lean – 68kg at 6ft 3in [1.90m] – and by the end of the first year I’d pushed my weight to 77kg with a correct diet and consistent training.
How do you stay in good shape all year round?
Injury prevention is something I am always conscious of when training. I will never push myself at an uncomfortable weight, and I spend most of the year using a 12-to-18 rep range on most exercises. Because I follow a good diet I can normally be “shoot ready” within a fortnight. I’ve built a body I like, and I haven’t been swayed by social media into trying to build a physique that I don’t want to have. My aim is to stay lean year-round, and pay attention to my nutrition whether it’s summer or winter.
What’s your preferred approach to building a better body?
I’m a strong believer in functional training and I try to push myself with calisthenics and new bodyweight exercises regularly. I like to feel as though I’m strong within my own body and in proportion, not relying on heavy isolation exercises to build strength in muscles that can only perform on that exercise and not improve my day-to-day life.
What do most people not realise when trying to build a better body?
A main issue we face in today’s society is lack of knowledge about good and nutritious food and the ease with which we can find it. When our bodies were evolving we couldn’t just walk a hundred metres and pick up a pizza and chocolate bar off a tree then sit down for the rest of the day! With so many processed items and food packed with sugar in supermarkets, it makes life very difficult for those who don’t have knowledge on what makes good nutrition. For me diet is by far the most important factor, and the biggest obstacle to overcome, when wanting to build a better body.
You’ve struggled with injury – how do you manage your issues?
I rely mostly on trial and error – I try new workouts and if I believe they could cause an issue, I make sure I change them. Because I’ve always struggled with injury, my knowledge of injury prevention is extensive now and I know what to limit and when to push! I regularly have physiotherapy and massage therapy, which is also a great addition for staying injury-free and feeling great. Self-diagnosis can be a problem for many, so having someone qualified looking after you is always recommended – you never know what underlying issue could be causing you pain or what you may have missed.