21 Oct A Deep Dive Interview With RNT Coach, Ben Mulamehic
We’re in a lucky position at RNT to have assembled a growing team of ‘all-star’ coaches to help our clients achieve the best results possible.
Over the many years of coaching, we’ve all learnt from a wide array of sources all over the world, and have applied our learnings across a wide variety of clientele to understand what truly works and what doesn’t in the real world.
At RNT, our focus is on delivering outstanding results online for everyday busy people who want to be in the shape of their lives, and take their physiques to the next level. By default, this eliminates many of the ‘theory based’, super advanced education courses that seem to be rife in today’s fitness industry. Instead, it’s been interesting to notice that my own personal continual professional development comes primarily from within RNT itself.
Every week on our team calls, we discuss what’s working and what’s not working with our clients, and how to best maximise the process in delivering transformation in an online capacity. This is live data, where we’re gaining real, applicable and invaluable insights to boost our abilities as coaches, and continue to set the benchmark in what we do.
One of these ‘all-star’ coaches is Ben Mulamehic. When the chance to bring Ben onto the team arose at the start of 2018, we had to pounce. We knew the level of experience, knowledge and expertise he was bringing, and automatically knew it was going to force us all to up our game as coaches.
In this ‘deep dive’ with Ben, we discuss how Ben got into the industry, what his own physique struggles were, and what ultimately drives him in his work.
AV: Tell us about the early days…
BM: So I was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia, but I grew up in London following the civil war in the early 90s. I only started lifting when I was 18 years old while pursuing my degree in sport science at the University of Bath. My initial passion was in coaching team sports, specifically football, but once I saw how the coaching programmes would be delivered, I switched courses and completed my personal training qualifications alongside it.
AV: It’s interesting how you never lifted weights before studying sport science at university. I used to think the two came hand in hand, but realised too when I was at university how few people actually lifted. Considering how many of their paths led to the sports coaching routes, it’s a little worrying how far behind many sports still are with strength and conditioning methodologies. So why did you decide to start training at university?
BM:I initially trained because my friends did. Between the three of us we were known as the ‘gym rats’ at university. We were in the gym 6 days a week trying to get better and better, and we were all hooked.
The camaraderie between us during this time fuelled some epic training sessions as we basically tested everything on ourselves. Some ‘experiments’ went well, and others like my ‘dirty bulking’ resulted in a lot of lessons learned.
AV: Sounds very similar. During my university days there was three of us too who would try everything and anything in the gym, and push ourselves like never before. We did a lot of things which now make no sense, but I’m convinced those early days are what’s defined my insights and philosophies as a coach now.
BM: For sure. While it would have been great to have someone guide me early on and show me the ‘right way’, it would have meant missing out on all the lessons I ultimately learned. As a coach, this is a vital, because it’s allowed me to fast track my clients, who have no interest in wasting any time.
AV: 100% agree. Tell us more about this ‘dirty bulking’ experiment…
BM: Ha, sure. So we’d go to the gym with no real structure. It was the typical ‘bro split’ of chest Monday, back Tuesday, but it could change at any time, depending on what we felt like doing. Once we finished up, I’d come home and get the cheapest whey protein I could find, blend it with ice cream, honey, and anything that was sweet. The whey was such bad quality I needed to somehow mask the taste! At the same time, I’d cook a pizza up in the oven, while polishing a bag of skittles while it was being made. To wash it all down, I’d have a bottle of Lucozade, just to make sure I had enough carbs…
I’d then sit in a food coma till I could eat again. The meal was about 2000 calories in total, probably more. But bear in mind I weighed 63kg at over 6 foot, so this was a lot of food in one sitting!
This ‘experiment’ was essentially seeing how much I could overeat on a daily basis.
AV: Crazy. Did it work?
BM: Well, I gained weight of course. I put on about 10kg in the first 6 months and thought it was going great! But then my skin started breaking out badly and I realised most of weight I gained was body fat. I didn’t look good, nor feel good.
AV: Did you learn from this?
BM: Well, with this experiment, I thought the problem was that my sugar intake was too high. So during my next aggressive ‘bulk’, I switched tact. I went high fat, and thought if I strategically consume half a jar of Sunpat peanut butter with oats and whey in my post workout window, I’d blow up.
And blow up I did. I reached my peak bodyweight of 94kg after being on essentially 5000 calories for months on end. This time I felt even worse, and everything in ‘life’ became a struggle. Tying up my shoe laces, picking things up, even walking.
I dieted down for a competition that year, and never made that mistake again!
AV:While we may laugh at the stories, the truth is we’ve all been there. I know I have, and I really do think this period teaches you so much that no textbook, course or seminar could do. It’s real world experience that does wonders for your coaching practice, and instils an element of both relatability and empathy with your clients.
Which segues nicely into asking how you actually got into the industry itself after you started training at university, and got your personal training certifications?
BM: After completing my personal training certifications, I began working for a company called TotalFit, who specialised in a gym design for corporate and residential sites. I grew within the company as a gym instructor, then personal trainer and eventually as the gym manager. The problem was, my results weren’t up to scratch, so I needed to step my game up.
I then moved to Nottingham where I interned and later worked at M10 Fitness for a year. During my time there I picked up a wealth of knowledge and a ton of motivation to become the best coach I could be for my clients.
As a result, I moved back to London and began working for Ultimate Performance, where I solidified what I’d learnt, and really started excelling in the art of body transformations. After some time spent there, I moved out to Toronto, which is where I started online coaching in conjunction with my PT work.
Call it fluke, or trial and error, but I essentially got the bug for being good at body transformations, and then wanted to share my new skills with anyone who was ready to listen and change.
AV: What this highlights to me more than anything is your relentless desire to step out of your comfort zone, learn, and constantly strive for improvement.
We touched on your bulking experiments earlier. While you made a lot of mistakes, you also did many things right, and have built a ton of muscle on a previously skinny frame. What are your top tips for skinny guys trying to build muscle?
BM: I wish someone told me these over 10 years ago, but here goes:
1. Get lean first. Don’t do what I did and just constantly get fat. You’re not going to build muscle effectively with a gut hanging out. So if you’re a guy, get as close to 10% body fat as you can, and then assess your physique and see what you want to work on. Guys are often surprised at how small they feel when they get leaner, but the fact of the matter is, they don’t carry nearly as much muscle as they think they do. This is a huge reality check and serves as a great motivator to build true muscle mass.
2. Track your workouts. If you’re not progressing your lifts, and you can’t compare what you did this week compared to last week, month or year, you’re going to struggle. You wouldn’t do this with your finances, so why leave your gym progress to chance?
3. Track your food intake. Every skinny guy claims to ‘eat all the time’, but when you actually get them to record their intake, it’s always a lot lower than they expected. The same way people under report when they diet is the same why skinny guys over report when they want to build muscle. Get ready to eat a lot of food if you want to build muscle (just maybe not quite like what I did!)
4. Be patient. Muscle building takes time. Way more than fat loss. Be prepared to graft for a minimum of 6 months up to a couple of years to see it really appear on your physique. This is always a surprise for people to hear, but it’s the harsh reality of building muscle. It takes time, consistency and constant focus. It can be all too easy to take your eye off the ball when the process is so long, but it’s critical to progress. Also, the more advanced you get, the less you get in return. So make your early progress count!
AV: Couldn’t agree more on each of those. On the flip side, what have you personally found hardest when dieting?
BM: The hardest part for me personally, like a lot of people, is the hunger aspect. My best practical tip is to increase your food volume in each meal by using more veggies, and keep your quality of food high. That said, at a certain stage your mind will just keep telling you you’re hungry. That’s when having a good enough reason to keep going is key.
AV: Very true. At some point you just need to use the driving force behind your transformation to push you through. It’s why it’s so critical to establish your why and perhaps more importantly, attach a value to your transformation. This is where real change happens. For anyone who’s starting out on a transformation, what are your best three bits of advice?
BM: Here’s my top three:
1. Plan, plan, plan.You may have spotted a trend here now! The more you plan, the less you leave to chance. Those who want results will do whatever is required and those who do not will make excuses.
2. Clear your kitchen.The hardest part for most people is nutrition, so clear your kitchen of anything that might tempt you. That means fizzy drinks, chocolate, alcohol, the lot. It’s much easier to diet when your set up is conducive to your goals.
3. Support network.You want to create as much accountability and social support as possible when transforming your body. Tell your family and friends what you’re doing so you’ve got people on side and helping you, rather than giving you negative energy. It goes a long way when you’re in the nitty gritty of dieting.
AV: Great. I’m always intrigued into what drives people everyday with their work. What is it in your case?
BM: It’s helping people achieve better and faster results than they would ever imagine on their own. I know what it’s like to lack direction and clarity with where I’m going, so if I can provide that for someone else, I’m happy.
I love seeing the faces and reactions of people when they complete a transformation. We are one of the lucky few professions who are able to help people live more fulfilled, longer and happier lives.
AV: And what are your current physique goals now?
BM: My goals now are to remain healthy and continue slowly building muscle mass while maintaining a healthy body fat level. I also want to focus more on keeping all my health markers in the most optimal place possible.
I’ve previously done a physique competition and multiple photoshoots, so my focus now is purely on enjoyment from training, maintaining body composition, and improving my health and well-being. I’m sure at some point I’ll dabble with another photoshoot or training style, but for now that’s where I’m at.
AV: Awesome. Thanks for sharing your story. I know many of the readers, your clients in particular, will find this very interesting!
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