The Trainer: Kelly Dessington

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CLIENT: Elan Lohmann, 36

Self-employed founder of Sleek Geek – helping 
people to achieve healthy goals and make sustainable lifestyle changes.


  • Very limited range of motion
  • Unable to perform 
a shoulder press due to poor mobility
  • Unable to dead lift (hex bar) due to poor flexibility
  • Two chin-ups


  • Able to perform dumbbell shoulder press for multiple sets of 10-12 reps using 10kg dumbell
  • Can perform dead lifts (hex bar) (Six reps at 106kg)
  • Six chin-ups

COACH: Kelly Dessington, 32 | GYM: Progressive Edge Performance, Green Point, Cape Town

PICP (Poliquin International Certification Program) Level 1 (Regional) and Level 2 (State) Strength and Conditioning Coach | Precision Nutrition Certification in Exercise and Sports Nutrition (currently studying) | 3 x South African records for drug free powerlifting (2013) | 1st Place Body Beautiful Ms. Figure (2012) | 1st Place NABBA Toned Figure Western Province (2012)

SPECIALITY: Strength and conditioning, but she works predominantly with body transformation clients (both fat loss and muscle gain). How to lift like a girl.

Client’s bio: Elan has already 
tried group programmes and while they’ve played an instrumental role in his lifestyle changes, he’s struggled with mobility and flexibility issues. These have held back his progress in both his goals as well as his CrossFit training.

WEIGHT LOSS WISDOM (from the client)
The foundation of all 
good results? Nutrition.
Educating yourself about food is important and rewarding. Make your goal to lead a healthy lifestyle, not weight loss. Anyone can lose weight and get into shape, but to maintain and keep improving takes lifelong commitment. Eating healthy food in the right portions at the right times, together with training regularly will get you there.

FAVOURITE EXERCISE (from the coach)
Chin-ups (sternum)
It’s like the dead lift of the upper body, working more than just the lats (latissimus dorsi) but also creates an overload on the scapula retractors, while working the middle back (rhomboids and teres major). Start from a dead hang off a pull-up bar with straight elbows. Keeping your chest up and your shoulders back, lean your body away from the bar and arch your back. Pull yourself up so that your chest touches the bar. Lower yourself in a controlled manner and repeat.

WINNING ADVICE (from the coach)
What are the three biggest
 mistakes beginners make?
1. Don’t expect changes overnight. There’s no shortcut to strength and dense muscle. Set realistic goals, 
be consistent, work hard, eat well.
2. Ignoring strength as the primary 
goal. This should be the foundation 
of all training because everything else; power, endurance, conditioning, hypertrophy, is built on top of strength.
3. Spending a fortune on supplements with the expectation that these will make up for everything else they’re doing wrong. You can’t out-train a bad diet and you can’t out-supplement 
mediocre training.

FAVOURITE EQUIPMENT (from the coach)
Cutting edge is for commercials
I believe in systematic, sound training progression. Picking up something heavier this week than last week is still the most cutting edge way to achieve your goals.

These factors can all lead to issues such as imbalances and injuries:
1. Not learning correct techniques
2. Ego lifting (going too heavy too soon!) in an attempt to keep up with the guy next to you
3. Not training 
in a full range 
of motion

Dessington studied Charles Poliquin’s training methods 
and philosophies. Here are her three favourite lessons from him:
1. The use of exercise order to achieve success by taking advantage of the neurological system. Working from the most complex movements to the simplest on each training day.
2 . Tempo. By controlling the rhythm of your workout, you 
have more control over the goals 
that you set per session. You can have success without it and I don’t count the tempo of every rep but it is a variable that is often overlooked.
3. The protein-driven meat and nut breakfast 
to help set up the brain and the body for the day. When 
I do eat carbs they never happen 
at breakfast.