We talked with Joel Simmons in December, 2019.
Joel Simmons' Stats When We Talked with Him 💪
👋 Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
My name is Joel Simmons, I am 30 years old from Newcastle, Australia.
I come from a background in 3D animation but after a career change in 2014, I now work full time in club management.
I’ve been training seriously for the past five years. After being very tall and skinny for most of my life (140 at 6’4), I started to see the benefits of strength training through friends. Once I stepped into the weight room, I instantly fell in love with the feeling of self accomplishment.
When I am not working or training, I enjoy spending time with my wife and dog at the beach and riding motorcycles.
Whilst training has never been a source of income for me, I love learning more and more about nutrition and exercise science, the biggest influence for me has been Greg Kuckols and Eric Helms content.
⏱ Describe a typical day of training
Like most of us, over the years I have tried body part splits, full body splits, upper lower splits, etc. With my work schedule and recovery limits, I have settled on push pull style programs, four days a week in the gym with active recovery on days off.
I’m a strong believer in choosing the training split that you enjoy and will stick to as opposed to following the current trends. Consistency and effort won’t be applied in something that you don’t enjoy.
Programs like 531 and other variants have been the staple of my training for the past few years. A typical training session will last 1.5 hours and consists of mostly compound movements.
The benefit of trying so many different programs and training styles is discovering new things, and in result finding what works for you as an individual.
I have always enjoyed the structure of linear periodization as opposed to other methods, and so far have had great results from it. This training structure remains the same for me regardless of if I am in a caloric deficit, maintenance, or a surplus.
I train on my own at a commercial 24-hour gym. Due to my work hours, I am often training at odd hours such as 3 a.m.. Training without a partner has never been an issue for me as I have kept myself accountable, hence the importance of a scheduled program.
Most of my programming revolves around primary movers and variations of them. Squats, front squats, romanian deadlifts, conventional deadlifts, bench press, dips, chin ups and overhead press. The best ‘bang for your buck’ movements are what i focus 90% of my training around.
Tracking and learning from mistakes is something I think is vital to progression. I track training through a spreadsheet and my (rough) caloric intake through the My Fitness Pal app. From here I add and eliminate variables to see what works for me. Volume, intensity, exercise variation,etc.
👊 How do you keep going and push harder?
I’ve always been consistent at the gym, beyond a de-load the longest I have taken off is a week (in five years).
However, I can’t exactly say this is a good thing and a lot of it comes down to the fear of ‘losing gains’ and the mental perception of that.
Researching the topic and coming to the realization that a week off now and then shows very little change to progress in most cases.
To anyone reading this, do not take this as an excuse to skip the gym, consistency is one of the most vital factors to progression. There’s extremes on either side of this coin….
Despite being so consistent with training, I have fallen into the pitfall of ‘going through the motions’ many times.
Showing up, putting in average effort then heading home just to tick the box is what I am referring to.
Often this is done without even realizing. So… how do we combat this? Small but tangible goals.
Putting yourself on a program that forces you to challenge yourself is one way to do so. This has been by far my biggest challenge since i started training.
🏆 How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
I’m currently finishing off a block of 531 (boring but big variant), from here I want to focus more, more power lifting specific training in hopes of competing in a year or so.
In the next few years, my wife and I will be selling our unit and purchasing a house, something more family orientated. This will give me the opportunity to build my own home gym and open access to new training styles.
🤕 How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
Active recovery has always been something that I value and enjoy. Swimming at the lake and walking my dog daily not only assist in recovery but help relieve stress through intense weeks at work.
I have been fortunate enough to only have a few minor niggles in my training life so far such as patella tendinitis, bicep tendinitis, and a minor hamstring tear. Recovery from these injuries was simply a case has of avoiding any movement that aggravates the injury and swapping it for a variation for a while.
Examples include moving from low bar squats to front squats for bicep tendinitis, lowering quad volume and moving to leg press for quad tendinitis, etc. This approach has been successful for me in each case.
I generally strive to get eight hours sleep for optimal recovery however working odd hours can impact this from time to time. If i encounter a few days where I work back to backs and am unable to sleep as much, I will do my best to gain the slot hours back on days off buy sleeping in.
I have never been fond of supplements or equipment for recovery, trying my best to eat, sleep and promote recovery through light activity has worked the best for me over the years.
🍎 How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
For ethical reasons, I chose to remove animal products from my diet three years ago. Through a lot of research and time spent crunching numbers into the My Fitness Pal app, I had a solid understanding of what bases I needed to cover. This was to ensure I was hitting the same macro nutrient and micro nutrient percentages as I had before.
My maintenance calories are approximately 3700. I will generally eat slightly above this in attempt to slowly gain muscle over time. I stopped the extreme bulk/cut approach after a few years due to it not working well for me.
The staples in my diet are rice, beans, nuts, vegetables, tofu, fruit, oats and who doesn’t love a peanut butter sandwich?
As far as supplements go, I take a multivitamin in the morning (with b12) and use a rice/pea protein powder in my oats. I generally hit 200 grams of protein a day.
Nutrient timing isn’t something I have really put much thought into over the years, the one meal that is timed is the one before I train to ensure I have enough energy. Other than that, it depends on my day and schedule, meal total is generally four meals a day.
If I am craving a pack of Pringles or Oreos I’ll get them, I don’t restrict myself to those limits. And if I do, i will just consider it while eating for the rest of the day by dialing calories back slightly for my other meals.
👍 What has inspired and motivated you?
Years ago, my friend gave me a copy of Arnold’s encyclopedia of bodybuilding, this is what really motivated me to start training. From here, I caught the bug and have loved training ever since.
Since I removed animal products from my diet, another motivation has been to break the stereotype you see among the general population, and show people that you can (quite easily) gain strength and size without meat.
As far as motivation for an individual training session? I’ll put my headphones in to blast some Hatebreed and Madball to get me going.
✏️ Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
Look at the big picture, be consistent, enjoy your training and push yourself.
Things I have done in the past that i’d advise against:
- Copying elite power lifters or bodybuilders routine
- Extreme bulking and cutting
- Becoming complacent
- Judging others
- Comparing yourself to other
Do what works for you. You don’t have the same leverages, genetics, lifestyle and ‘supplements’ as some of these people. As a natural lifer this can be a massive pitfall.
Eating in an extreme surplus is going to net you any more muscle than a moderate surplus, you will have to diet harder to lose the excess fat and in return possibly lose muscle in the process.
Don’t show up and go through the motions, have a goal and do everything you can to reach it. If you’re squatting the same weight for six months and don’t ever fear a set you possibly need to reevaluate your training and mindset.
See that guy in the corner doing a weird exercise everyone is looking at? He may have an injury, this exercise may work well for him, he may just not know any better. The point here is that you don’t know someone else’s situation. Be humble, be helpful.
The only race here is between you and the person you were before, don’t get caught up comparing yourself to the biggest guy in the gym or the plethora of edited photos on Instagram.
🤝 Are you taking on clients right now?
I don’t work in the fitness industry, however I am always happy to point people in the direction of the right information. If anyone wants more information of anything listed above don’t hesitate to contact me.
📝 Where can we learn more about you?
I currently do not use social media however I am active on Reddit, Username: u/_Powertrip_. I use reddit to give/seek advice from other lifters, I’ve found it much more productive than social media platforms as people generally get involved in constructive conversations.
I will however be making an Instagram soon that will be about cheap and lazy cooking for plant-based lifers. The account is active however content will not be up for a few weeks. _jsimmons_ is where you can find it.