The Focus Athlete Series

Ed Crossley – the Strongest 16 Year Old in Bordon!

The Focus Athlete Series follows some of the talented members of Athlete Movement as they train and prepare for competition.

The series will follow multiple athletes from a variety of different sporting backgrounds and reveal a lot of what goes on behind the scenes, long before the day of competition.

In our first entry Coach Ben introduces us to Ed Crossley, a seriously strong 16 Year Old who is on course to enjoy a huge 2019.

Focus Athlete: Ed Crossley

Who is Ed?

A very strong 16-year-old! I met Ed when he was 15 and first entering the world of powerlifting, it was clear he had the right attitude for the sport as well as the build for it – he proved himself a little overzealous by forgetting his singlet but the intention was there and that was all he needed to get started in the sport.

Ed’s passion for the sport grew and he recognised that if he was going to fulfil his potential he would need advice and coaching. Ed joined my team of powerlifting athletes and I have had the privilege to coach him towards bigger competitions such as British Junior Nationals in 2018 where he placed 4th in a very competitive sub-junior 105kg category. He now has a few records under his belt and is very close to his next competition revolving around his strongest lift: British Bench Press Championships.

Ed doesn’t take himself too seriously and loves to have a laugh in the gym, as well as consume the entirety of the free fruit bowl and leave things scattered across the gym floor.


What are some of Ed’s secrets to getting strong?

The question we all ask ourselves at Athlete Movement, as we witness this 16 year old blow up hundreds of kilos week after week, is how is he so strong at such a young age?

Ed has a few top tips for strength and size gain that have helped him:

  • Milk – if you can stomach it, milk is a fantastic source of calories, protein and important vitamins and minerals. Ed aims to drink a few pints per day if he’s looking to pack on a bit of size but his personal advice is to time your consumption away from training, for obvious reasons!
  • Mobility and warming up properly – whenever Ed is in the gym, everyone knows he won’t be using the barbell until thoroughly warmed up and ready to go. This is because he knows the importance of injury prevention and readying your body/joints/muscles for the heavy lifting.
  • Sleep – Ed isn’t just a big, sleepy teenager; he knows how vital good quality rest and recovery is for training. Your body repairs itself during the sleep cycle so making sure you get your 8 hours is crucial when training hard and heavy!
  • Enough calories – it isn’t just milk that gives Ed his energy for his 4 hour sessions, he needs to consume enough overall calories to fuel not only the training but also the important recovery period afterwards. Getting a solid mix of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats is the best way to go for the majority of your nutritional intake, but if you are like Ed and sometimes struggle to keep your weight on (and want to keep it on) then calorie dense foods are your friend (a Banana Nut Bulk from the Athlete Movement Smoothie Bar is a perfect option and a favourite of Ed’s).

But what does his training look like to produce this strength and size gain?

It can’t all just be milk, sleep and resistance bands leading to this strength development!

Ed is part of Team Shedside, which is the name of my online coaching team. I primarily coach people for powerlifting orientated goals, whether this be just general strength gain or for a specific competition. Over the past year I have had many of the team compete at National level, with some going to International level which has been amazing to see.

There was also a big showing from us at the Athlete Movement Winter Classic, which was the gym’s first ever competition and was a huge success. The next competition we are holding is, StrengthFest, is on March 3rd and a few more of Team Shedside will be lifting and confident of putting on a show.

Anyway, enough of the background info, what does Ed’s training actually look like?

It’s a simple 4 days per week structure, focusing on two of the main movements each day, which is split up for the appropriate recovery time. For example this might be:

Monday – Squat and Bench Press

Tuesday – Bench Press and Deadlift

Thursday – Squat and Bench Press

Friday – Bench Press and Deadlift

It looks monotonous at face value but throughout these days are different variations of the main movements, a variety of accessories and a blend of heavy and lighter lifting.

Without making things sound too complicated, here are some key bits of information regarding Ed’s training programme:

  • His bench press frequency (how many times the movement is performed) is high because this develops the skill of bench pressing more effectively than say doing it once per week. It allows much more practice and you can complete more overall volume (workload) on the lift.
  • With squats and deadlifts (or any other heavy compound movement), it is wise to have one heavier day and one lighter day whereby you could implement a variation to make lighter weights even more challenging such as pauses, using a tempo or using a different barbell.
  • Accessory movements should be done with a full range of motion, moderate weight and need to emphasize the lengthening and contracting of the muscle group you are using. This way you will get the most out of your muscles; there is no use going overly heavy on accessories when they are there to compliment your main lifts.
  • On the heavier days, this does not mean Ed is maxing out his squat, bench press or deadlift. In fact, it is quite the opposite; he is using around 70-85% of his 1 rep max to develop proper movement patterns and improve his technique. This percentage will increase as he gets closer to competitions because his overall workload will begin to drop but the majority of his training is done using submaximal loads. Quality > quantity.

Keep an eye on Ed as he approaches his next competition on 23rd February and wish him good luck if you see him in the gym! Don’t hesitate to ask him about his training or come and find me if you would like to know some more details.

Remember, we hold Powerlifting Club on Wednesdays from 630-8pm and it is free to members if you want to learn more about developing strength in the squat, bench press and deadlift!