Ask Thomas Hefferman: Best Workouts, Intermittent Fasting And More
Fitness - Guest Post

Ask A Trainer: Thomas Heffernan On Two-A-Day Workouts, Intermittent Fasting And More

Oct 17, 2017 //

As owner and head trainer at Leslieville’s Primal Movement and and Primal MMA Academy, Thomas Heffernan knows a thing or two about how to make you sweat. Case in point: His open-air gym was voted an east-end favourite by blogTO. The 8,000-sq. ft. freestyle and functional strength and conditioning facility, which focuses on small class sizes and diversity training, offers everything from martial arts to yoga to one-on-one and team sessions. As a former elite track athlete himself, Heffernan values a holistic approach in his own routine too. From twice-a-day workouts to the pump-up playlist, here’s how he keeps his fitness regime fresh.

Best time to workout…

“Running, swimming, fight training and cardio at noon. Strength training at 7 pm. There are a number of studies that support earlier-in-the-day cardio and late-day strength, and in my experience I peak in these areas at these times as well.”

Hardest time to hit the gym…

“Early morning. In theory I love the early morning but find my body is like a race car and needs some time for my engine to warm up. I psychologically feel awesome after an early morning workout but performance and strength is always subpar in my experience. If I am doing an early morning workout loud motivational music and a good pre-workout are my go-tos.”

Least/most favourite workouts…

Least/most favourite workouts

“Favourite workouts: Strength training, circuit training, Jiu Jitsu, boxing, kickboxing, swimming, obstacle running and various sports (basketball, tennis, soccer). Obviously, I like a lot of variety. Least favourite: Spinning. It’s too one dimensional.”

Post-workout feels…

“I feel accomplished, powerful, capable and positive immediately afterwards. Long term, there’s increased confidence. You become more resilient in all aspects of life and establish greater discipline and work ethic.”

On the menu…

on the menu

“Nothing before a workout. I eat on an eight-hour window, with 16-hour intermittent fasting between 1 pm and 9 pm. I have coffee in the morning and ensure I’m well hydrated. Post-workout, I have a whey shake and some vegetables, meat and healthy fats combo, whether that be a chicken salad with avocado or salmon and veggies. My go-to cheat meal is a greasy spoon brunch on a Sunday after Power Yoga.”

Playlist power ups…

“Music is crucial. I think certain types of music fit certain types of workouts. I like to box and kick-box to old school hip hop. Jiu Jitsu and running and other cardio to house music. Gangster rap and hard rock when I lift and strength train. I never train with headphones though; I always need it on the system. (The perks to training in your own gym!)”

The schedule (and sticking to it)…

The schedule (and sticking to it)

“I work out 10 to 12 times a week. Two a day on weekdays, once Saturday and once Sunday. I never make excuses for being tired or unmotivated, only when events or social obligations conflict. Making excuses based on how you feel is a slippery slope. Show up. If you’re low on energy you can always work on mobility. If you’re injured you can always work on a different part of your body or modify.”

Solo or social…

“I do strength training on my own. Fight training, circuit training and sports are obviously in a group. I don’t want to be fighting my shadow or playing tennis with an imaginary friend.”

The uniform…

 the uniform

“As little as possible. By that I mean I’m a minimalist with training gear. I love Vibram toe shoes or barefoot when possible. Very flexible shorts and a tank top. My body needs to feel as unrestricted as possible.”

The sleep cycle…

“I find the sweet spot to be seven hours, or eight-and-a-half when I’m particularly exhausted. The key is waking up in light sleep coming out of a REM cycle. Using the Sleep Cycle Alarm to track movement helps that and prevents me from waking up groggy. I’ve worked very long days for the past six years as a serial entrepreneur and made many sacrifices in doing so, but the one thing I haven’t sacrificed is my sleep. It’s essential to my training, motivation and overall mental health.”

Who’s on the inspiration board…?

“Myself in five years! Kidding (but not kidding). Envisioning my success and future achievements would definitely be on there. Although I do value aesthetics, most of the people who I look up to are athletes, especially those who are well-rounded, humble and resilient both mentally and physically. There are athletes in many sports I’d put up on that board but there are some fighters who definitely come to mind, all with a specific reason for being there. The unbridled self-confidence of Conor McGregor, the work ethic of GSP, the toughness of the Diaz brothers, just to name a few.”

Madeline Cravit

Madeline Cravit is a freelance writer and editor from Toronto. Her work has appeared in Chatelaine, Flare, Holts and Today's Parent. Most mornings you can find her in a coffee shop; most evenings you'll find her on the soccer pitch.

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