One of the brains behind Body Fit Training, Cameron Falloon, wants you to work out like the AFL elite he used to prepare for matchday. While this won’t be easy, your payoff – total fitness – will make the effort worthwhile.
READY FOR ANYTHING
A training program that has you smugly finetuning your strengths isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. Time to make yourself the complete package.
In what must feel to him like a previous life, Cameron Falloon used to work in high performance at the Port Adelaide Football Club, where one day a veteran showed him the mindset of the proud, don’t-go-quietly athlete.
“Towards the end of his career, Chad Cornes approached me in the pre-season and said, ‘Look, I know I’m on the outer, I know I’m almost done, so I want you to push me harder than I’ve ever been pushed and if I break down, I break down’,” Falloon recalls.
It didn’t take long for Cornes to get his wish.
It was a Saturday morning and Port’s fresh-faced draftees were watching on as Falloon put Cornes through a series of 400-m sprints. “At the end of the third one, he threw up. Then he starts yelling [abuse] at me,” he says.
Falloon blew his whistle for the next repeat and soon it was his turn to start hollering because Cornes was running too slowly. The stalwart lost more of his breakfast at the end of that sprint, before heaving again after his fifth and final effort.
“So, he’s completely exhausted,” says Falloon, “and these poor draftees have got their jaws on the ground thinking, Oh, my God, is this what life is going to be like? As I was talking to them about what was coming up, Chad walked over, gave me a pat on the bum and said, ‘Thanks, Cam – that was awesome’.”
Falloon is reliving that episode while talking to Men’s Health from Los Angeles, where as a cofounder of group-workout phenomenon Body Fit Training (BFT) he’s just wrapped a mega-deal with Xponential, the American fitness giant that will now lead expansion of the BFT brand in the US and Canada. Falloon and his co-founder, Richard Burnet, retain the rights to BFT everywhere else, including Australia, where some 120 studios have sprung up since 2017.
Central to BFT is the notion that the training methods of certain elite athletes are something that you and I – everyday fitness fiends who also hold down day jobs – can borrow and prosper from. No one’s saying you should be pushing the limits as Cornes did that morning; only that you’d probably benefit from going a little harder than you are now.
Chances are, despite your best intentions, you’ve slipped into a training rut. You’re going through the motions. That’s a pity, because to improve – whether that means performing better in your next 5K or filling out your Tee more snugly – your training needs to be progressive. Compared with other group-workout models, BFT’s point of difference is that you’re expected regularly to up the ante during training blocks in which your intensity and technique are monitored by technology and sharp-eyed coaches respectively. More than just huffing and puffing with some vague expectation of getting fitter, you’re targeting discernible, measurable gains.
“Very few people in a gym setting tap into their physical capacity – and that’s the difference between us mere mortals and the elite,” says Falloon. “The elite have an ability to work through the pain barrier to the point where the challenge becomes mental. Some of them have that real want to get into the hurt locker and stay there, because they know that’s where the competitive advantage lies.”
Those years between 2005-12 when Falloon had stints at three AFL clubs – Geelong, the Western Bulldogs and Port – were the making of him. “BFT’s methodology is based off how AFL players train,” he says. “Every week, you can hit your aerobic system, anaerobic system, fast-twitch muscle fibres for power, slow-twitch fibres for hypertrophy, plus we get you moving in numerous different planes.”
The AFL player, Falloon continues, is the classic “hybrid athlete”: he does everything well. He can sprint; he has a mighty engine for the long haul; he has the strength, balance and control to change direction on a 10-cent piece; and he has sufficient armour (muscle) to withstand the hits while staying supple enough to avoid needless injuries. All up, it’s a solid template for any guy.
Lucrative deals aside, Falloon has been doing it tough of late. Six weeks prior to our chat, he underwent a dual operation in Melbourne that removed an inflamed appendix and repaired an umbilical hernia. This morning, he’d managed a light, solo workout at BFT’s Santa Monica studio, but his post-op training has consisted almost entirely of walking. “I’ve been dying to do something strenuous,” he says.
His need for vigorous exercise is both physical and psychological. Now 48, he says he lifts weights to offset the effects of old injuries and everyday aches and pains. At those times when circumstances get in the way of working out, it will tend to show in his moods. “My wife will often say to me, ‘I think you need to go to the gym’.”
For Falloon, born and raised in Melbourne, before there was any interest in training there was a love of footy. He was a promising junior midfielder eyeing the summit until a debilitating back injury knocked him on his butt. Doctors told him he would never play top-level footy and to start thinking about Plan B.
To this day, he is grateful to a renowned spinal surgeon who could have reached for his scalpel but instead told Falloon to go away and learn how to make himself strong.
Falloon did just that, enrolling in an anatomy and physiology course at Monash University. “What I learnt in that period was how little I knew,” he says. From there, he attained a fitness certificate before heading abroad for a few years to work as a PT in London and Malta. At the same time, he fixed his own body but decided against rolling the dice by lacing up his boots again.
Back in Australia, he met a former National Soccer League player who helped him land a job at Derby County FC, where he trained elite juniors aged six to 16. That was the forerunner to his work in the AFL, initially with Geelong, where his ideas about optimum training for the everyman crystallised.
While you might think borrowing the training methods of professional footballers seems ambitious, even foolhardy, Falloon says not all these guys are Supermen. “To give you an example, Travis Varcoe, who played for Geelong in multiple premiership sides, couldn’t do one chin-up when he was drafted. It takes 5 to 7 years on a program to get them robust enough for the week-to-week battles they go through on the l field.”
ALL BASES COVERED
Fitness is about choices. You can choose to pound the pavement five times a week, or to load up a barbell every day and shift it. You can be a Pilates guy. Or a yoga guy. You can do whatever you want. But all Falloon’s experience tells him that your best course is a balanced program.
“The weekend warrior wants to be generally fit and injury-free,” he says. “And when you tend to train one way, in one modality, you are at a higher risk of getting injured because you’re stressing the same joints and same structures via the same movement patterns. So, for example, we talk about swimmer’s shoulder: they’re doing the same movement all the time and it stresses the shoulder joint.
“If you want complete fitness – which might be the ability to do a fun run, play a game of soccer with friends on the weekend or do anything strenuous around your home – you have to train for it.”
You’ll be amazed, says Falloon, how committing to a more well-rounded fitness program will improve your performance in a favoured pursuit that you had previously trained for with absolute specifity. Runners have told him they’re recording faster times in 10K events because of BFT, even though they’re now running less. The explanation is simple, Falloon says: their bodies are working better now. “Their glutes, quads and hammies are all coordinated, stable and strong, and as a result you run more efficiently and it feels less like hard work.”
Chasing more brawn? A progressive approach is central to building muscle, but don’t think the only way to progress is to keep adding plates to the bar. “There are so many alternatives to that,” says Falloon. “Try increasing the range of movement so that now you’re controlling the same weight through a better range. That’s a great progression.”
Too few guys understand the difference between training for strength and training for power, he adds. For power, back off on load and perform the concentric (or upward) phase faster – indeed, explosively. It’s gains in power that translate better to most sports, he says.
You wonder whether there’s a ceiling when it comes to building strength and power. Now in his late 40s, Falloon would have peaked a while back, wouldn’t he?
Think again. There’s a tendency to view these attributes through too narrow a lens, he says. “Strength isn’t just about the weight you’re lifting. About a decade ago, I got serious about kettlebell training. And one of the first things someone said to me was, ‘Just understand that you will never ever do the perfect KB swing’. At the time, it was a hard concept for me to grasp, but now I get it. Because every time you do a swing there are 12 different things you could be focusing on, and it’s very hard to get all those things perfect.”
Once his midsection is healed, Falloon plans on throwing himself into the cycling challenge of Everesting, where you pick a hill and do nonstop repeats of it until you’ve climbed the equivalent of Mt Everest – 8,848m. It’s going to test the entrepreneur because at 86 kilograms he’s a solid unit who looks more like an NRL centre than someone you could imagine in a yellow jersey.
“It will go beyond the physical,” he says, “and that fascinates me. I want to explore how far I can push myself. You want to learn to trust your body. You’ll find out it’s far more capable than you think it is.”
Allow 45 minutes for this doozy, loosely based on BFT’s popular but challenging “Shred” workout. It’s four blocks of AMRAP covering off total-body strength and cardio. Recover for one minute between blocks. For each resistance move, choose a weight that’s challenging but allows you to complete all reps with good form.
• Medicine Ball Slam x 20
• Star Jump x 40
• Bear Crawl 5m forwards, 5m backwards x 5
• Dumbbell Bench Press x 10
• Renegade Row x 10 (each side)
• Military Press x 10
• Crunch x 20
• Repeat Block 1
• Kettlebell Squat x 15
• Barbell Lunge (weight held overhead) x 10 (per leg)
• Prisoner Good Morning x 15