Hypertrophy and muscle mass

Strongman programming and coaching

Dan Thomas Commando Temple

I have been a strength coach for 8 years, but my training goes back much further.

As a kid, I was chubby. I still played outside and was on a local football team, but I was always a lot bigger than my friends. At school I would get bullied for being fat and it made my life miserable, I often didn’t want to go in, this all changed when I was 14 as I got a weight bench, barbell and plates for Christmas so that I could start training. I set the bench up in my room, bought Flex magazine with my pocket money and ordered my first protein powder. I would spend every night lifting weights, copying the routines I read. After a year or so, I started to get bigger and the bullying stopped (funny how bullies don’t pick on the kid who can fight back).

I kept training through my teens and into my early twenties where I hit a road block at the age of 23. I was working in a bar where I injured my back. The diagnosis was a herniated disk which had me off work for 14 months, I was in constant pain and could barely move. Sneezing would set off spasms that would have me doubled over in pain. Pain killers barely helped so my only other option was alcohol.

This led to a downward spiral of depression and anxiety which was very difficult to overcome. Eventually, after an operation, I was able to get back to what I loved doing, which was training. The damage had been done though and I had ballooned from a lean 93kg to a very out of shape 118kg. My only way to beat this was to go cold turkey, I quit drinking for 6 months, cleaned up my diet and trained 5 times a week. This became my way to deal with depression and anxiety and to some extent, it still is, although now, I have learned to talk to the people I love, and they help me just as much as a barbell does.

In 2006 I wanted to try something new, this was when I found armwrestling. I’d always been good at it in school and bars, but the guys I trained with were on a whole different level, it was like pub football vs premier league. I trained with the team in Milton Keynes for 3 years under the tuition of a multiple British champion and others who would eventually become my team mates when I represented Britain at two World championships.

During this time period, I had changed careers and started working as a personal trainer, using the 20 plus years of experience that I had to good effect and in 2016, I moved from the commercial gym where I started into a new facility where I took out a business loan to set up a company called Cambridge Barbell, I used the money to buy strongman equipment, I had Atlas stones, logs, a yoke, farmers handles, sandbags, plates, kegs and some big tractor tyres. I used this equipment daily and found that I was pretty good at moving events, in particular, farmers walk as a decade of armwrestling tends to give you a very strong grip.

I started to compete with a win in my first competition and then five top three places following that. In 2017 I entered my first under 105kg competition and qualified for England’s strongest, but a shoulder injury picked up in the first event of the qualifier forced me to pull out (another road block!)

In August of 2017 circumstances meant that I could no longer continue running Cambridge Barbell from the facility I was based in, but as luck would have it, Rob at the Commando Temple was looking for a new coach to come on board so I contacted him to ask if I could come down for a chat and the rest is history.

Apart from a few of my clients who are either coaches or athletes who compete at national and international level, the majority of the people I now train are professionals in their 40’s or older and this is a demographic I am really interested in working with as I too am in my 40’s. I love strength training and firmly believe that it’s the fountain of youth and there’s never a more important time to pick up a barbell than when you hit your fourth decade.

Now I’m guessing that If you’ve got this far, you have already decided that you want to hire a coach, so please get in touch and let’s get the ball rolling.

Dan Thomas

Temple Truck Pull

“I wouldn’t have anyone else planning for me! Working with Dan has progressed me quicker and healthier than anything else I’ve done”

Dan Benson
Strength coach and u90kg Strongman athlete


For the beginner, we will work together to ensure you learn correct technique and progress at a steady and safe pace. You don’t need to be strong to start, but you do need to start to be strong.

If you have been training for a while but have hit a sticking point, I can show you how to bust through that plateau and re-ignite your progress.

For the athlete, you’ve come this far, now it’s time to take it to the next level, from advancing your technical knowledge to competition specific programming, I can help you gain that crucial edge on your competition

Strength training for beginners

Learn how to utilise your bodyweight, incorporate resistance training and eat correctly to improve your confidence, change your body composition and strengthen your joints and muscles. This ties in perfectly with the Barbell basics.

Work with me 2-3 times a week, you will get the most from your training and then, once you have built the confidence, you can drop to one coached session per week whilst completing the planned self-sessions on your own.

You will never make a better investment than the one you make in yourself.

Master the Barbell

It all starts with an empty bar, from here you will learn the 4 foundational lifts of strength training.

The squat, the overhead press, the deadlift and the bench press. As well as these, I will teach you variations on each lift to help you develop strength and build the confidence to eventually train on your own.

Stronger at 40

As men reach their 30’s our testosterone levels start to drop by 1% each year and we can experience a few of the following symptoms:

  • decreased libido or sexual activity
  • infertility
  • rapid hair loss
  • reduced muscle mass
  • increased body fat
  • enlarged breasts
  • sleep disturbances
  • persistent fatigue
  • brain fog
  • depression

A lot of this can be delayed or slowed by starting strength training, the benefits are well documented and include:

  • increased muscle mass
  • increased bone density
  • delayed reduction of testosterone levels
  • better sleep
  • reduced bodyfat (when combined with an appropriate diet)

Improvements in all symptoms listed above Temple Portrait 3

If you’re in your 40’s or older there is no better time to pick up a barbell and learn how to master your body, rebuild your strength and change your life. Of course, this is not just limited to men in their 40’s or older, if you’re in your 30’s, it’s also a great time to start strength training. In fact, the sooner the better.

Strongman training

I’m loath to use the word functional when describing any form of lifting, but strongman training for me is the one method you can use that has the greatest carry over to real life. With strongman, you learn how to lift, press, flip, carry and load odd shaped objects. It builds tremendous total body strength, you move through all 3 planes of motion and your cardiovascular conditioning will improve hugely too. The best thing about strongman, is that everyone can try it. At the Commando Temple, we have equipment that can be used by people of all strength levels, so even if you aren’t 6’5 and 160kg, you can still learn how to load Atlas stones and pick up cars, and if we’re honest, what’s cooler than lifting a car?

Competition and off-season programming for athletes

For the strongman or woman who wants to move up a level, or just wants someone to program for them and give them accountability, I offer two types of planning.

  • The first is the off-season work where the focus is on building a foundation of strength and fine-tuning technique with a rotating list of events to ensure you are prepared for any competition that comes around.
  • The second is the competition specific programming. With this, we look at the events, weights and timings that are coming up in your next competition and I write you a plan that peaks you specifically for it.

Advanced technique training

This is aimed at the lifter who has been training for some time but has reached a sticking point or is continually getting injured. A lot of the time, when I see someone struggle to progress, it’s usually due to their technique not being quite right, so what I’ll do is watch your lifts, break down where they are going wrong and show you how to fix it.

A single session of either 60 minutes or 90 minutes is usually all I need for a single lift; however, you may want more as it could mean that we are trying to fix years of lifting in a certain way.



This is perfect for technical tune ups as a one off if you are having trouble with a lift.

  • 60-minute technique tune up
  • £90

    per sesson

  • 90-minute technique tune up
  • £135

    per sesson


Perfect for the client who only needs coaching once a week and is happy to train alone the rest of the time.

  • 1 x 60-minute sessions per week
  • £300
  • 1 x 90-minute sessions per week
  • £460


This is a great option for clients who need that extra bit of coaching, perfect for beginners.


Maximise your results with 3 coached sessions each week, you will never have to worry if you’re doing it right as I will be there every step of the way.

*I want the best results possible for you and as such, my contracts are offered as a minimum commitment of 3 months.