Ben Carpenter on Overcoming His Emaciating Chron’s Disease, Twice

“I don’t track my macros either, and loads of people are surprised when they hear that because I talk about it all the time. But if you want to do it via the simplest method possible, why would you track more meticulously than you need to?”

Ben Carpenter is an in-demand and immensely popular UK-based personal trainer. He’s well versed in all the geeky stuff we fitness nerds like to talk about on the internet, but I would argue that his special talent lies in the ways he takes that information and breaks it down to advise the regular folks who walk into his gym. In this interview, we did into that.

We also discuss his incredible physical recovery from losing nearly 50lbs, all his hard-earned muscle mass and more, twice(!) after suffering bouts of Crohn’s disease, and most common mistakes he sees with his clients with advice on how you can avoid making them.

Selected links

Show notes

  • Ben tore his bicep. – Andy first met Ben at the Epic Fitness Summit by tapping Ben’s recently torn bicep. [1:00]
  • Ben is a personal trainer. – His focus is on making training and diet information accessible to the general population, with having 11 years of experience working in commercial gyms. [2:20]
  • The fitness fanatics versus the average person in a commercial gym. – Ben sees a great difference between these two groups of people. He often needs to provide very simple advice for the average person because he will otherwise fail them. [3:00]
  • Andy is re-writing his email course. – Andy will now provide three levels of the course. First will be a foundation course without unnecessary detail, next will be the experience trainee course, and finally the fitness industry pro course. Ben mentions there are pros to the generic nature of meal plans. [5:00]
  • Ben talks about classic clients. – Some are eating things like pie every day, with a focus on pre-packaged junk food. [7:15]
  • Where Ben starts with a classic client. – Ben always meets the client where they are at and uses food recall. He also feels like it is important to establish a relationship so the client does not omit any information. Ben focuses on getting one or two action points, instead of trying to nail too many habits at once. Ben lets the client dictate the pace. [9:30]
  • Ben’s advice to someone who needs to eat more protein. – Ben would go through foods that they like and get them to eat more of those things if they support the end goal. Ben is building buy-in by having the clients propose what they want to do. [13:30]
  • How Ben builds buy-in with clients. – Ben’s first step is always to sit down and talk with them to find out what they want. He finds out if the client’s expectations are realistic within the time frame and commitment. It is important to show your passionate as a trainer. [16:45]
  • Common diet and training mistake Ben sees with clients. – The basics for training do not have a plan at all with no structure. He has seen people jump programs and not see any progress. On the opposite side of the spectrum, they have stuck with the same program for years. From a diet standpoint, it is the basic information as to what foods contain protein instead of giving macros. [21:30]
  • How Ben tracks progress with clients. – In the example of weight loss, Ben will use skinfold tests and not give body fat percentage. Another common tracking method is weight and waist circumference, which allows the client to do it on their own. Sometimes Ben will use an incentive goal, such as fitting into a certain dress. [25:00]
    Andy’s personal example. – Since getting back into more regular training, Andy has seen little change on the scale and has seen a great change in waist circumference. [28:00] 
  • Tracking according to what suits your personality. – Andy discusses using the belt-hole method as an extremely simplified method. Ben mentions he does not personally track macros because why should you put in more effort than is needed if you are getting the results you desire. [30:30]
  • Online versus real-world tracking. Ben does not see the level of tracking with his real-world clients that are prevalent in the online world. [31:15]
  • How Ben tore and rehabbed his bicep. – It tore during preacher curls on the fourth set during the eccentric phase. He fully tore the ligament and had surgery 11 days later. After six months, Ben slowly started to increase his training. He also had to change the way he trained because of the injury. Even to this day, he has not fully recovered. [32:30]
  • How Ben feels today about the injury. – Aesthetically it doesn’t bother him as much, but the decrease in strength does bother him. [36:00]
  • Why Ben thinks the injury happened. – It still haunted Ben that it was on the fourth set and everything seemed to be going well. He now does not do preacher curls and needs to look the other way when others are doing them and struggling. The injury is still a mystery to Ben and it has lead to pushing himself less in the gym. [38:00]
  • What makes Ben so handsome? – Ben waxes his torso and does his best to keep his physique at a 10 out of 10. [42:30]
  • How does Ben train during holidays? – Generally, he tries to keep it the same, but it depends on the equipment that is available. [46:00]
  • Ben talks about his lifting career. – Ben started with deadlifting 500lbs at an early age and didn’t care about his tiny calves. The calves became a weak point. When Ben was 21 he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and lost 50lbs in three months and wasn’t able to deadlift the smallest amount of weight. [47:50]
  • Who Ben would punch in the face. – Dave Asprey because Ben disagrees with some of the things he preaches and hates people being scammed. [54:00]
  • Ben’s wish for the industry. – Ben would like to see the industry become customer interest first and less priority in financial gain. [57:15]
  • Ben reflects on “Why carbs will make you fat”. – Ben wrote an article in the past that he no longer agrees with. He admits that it is easy to write something that sounds scientific without having a true understanding of the full body of evidence. [59:00]
  • Ben on Gary Taubes. – Check out the video. Gary said that he would not change his mind if new evidence comes to light. [1:02:00]

Thanks for listening! Andy and Ben

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