#TeamTrifocus Athlete: Olaf Birkner

Olaf Birkner is a South African athlete, online coach and a #TeamTrifocus brand ambassador. We catch up with him to find out how Trifocus Fitness Academy has helped him in his fitness career. Olaf was handpicked by Trifocus Fitness Academy when they spotted him in the SA Arnolds Model Fitness Competition in 2016. Since then, he has been a loyal brand ambassador for the fitness college.

#TeamTrifocus’ Olaf: basic stats:

Age: 41
Height: 1.87m
Weight: 105kg
Occupation/Profession: Athlete, Online Coach and Real Estate Agent

Tell us more about your background in the industry and your journey so far

I have been gyming since the age of 16. My biggest motivation and inspiration is Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was only two years ago that I started competing. Since then I haven’t looked back. I placed third and fourth at the Arnold Classics Africa (ACA) in 2016 and 2017. I placed first at the Millennium Gold Plate in 2016.

Tell us more about why you love competing

I love competing because I love the challenge and the discipline needed to prepare for the event. I also am passionate about proving to myself that I can achieve anything I put my mind to.

How has #TeamTrifocus advanced your fitness career?

#TeamTrifocus has advanced my career through the gaining of knowledge. The college has also done this through events where we, as brand ambassadors, get together. Being associated with them on social media has also helped to advance and promote my image.

Which Trifocus Fitness Academy courses did you do?

I qualified as a personal trainer with the Personal Training Certification. In addition, I did their specialised nutrition course. I’m waiting to start the life coaching qualification.

What is your favourite exercise and why?

I dont really have only one favorite exercise. However, I had to narrow I would say that I love training my deltoids. My preferred exercise is the lateral side raise as it focuses on the side deltoids. I incorporate drop sets and supersets.

What is your favourite body part to train?

Being quite tall and having a narrow frame to start with, shoulders are a very important bodypart for me to focus on as this helps me to balance out my frame. Good, developed hamstrings are important to have as these make my legs symetrical.

What is your prefered type of exercise/training?

I have done all sorts of different training, for example wrestling, boxing and soccer. However, I’ve always come back to resistance training. I change my routine up all the time between high-volume training and heavy weight training.

How do you stay in shape?

I am very meticulous about prepping what I eat on a daily basis! I make sure that I eat enough of the correct nutrients to achieve my fitness goals. Even when I don’t compete I eat as cleanly as possible.

When it comes to training, I usually go to gym twice a day. I split my workouts and do  fasted cardio in the morning and weights in the afternoon. I’m a very active individual and love training this way! If I’m not preparing for a competition, I usually go to the gym five days a week.

Do you have any advice for aspiring fitness models or someone thinking of competing?

My advice is that you need to have a plan. Trust this plan and – most importantly – stick to it! If you don’t know where to start, contact a personal trainer.

What is the most valuable knowledge you have gained from your Trifocus Fitness Academy courses?

For me the most valuable thing I learned is the detailed explanation of human anatomy. This allowed me to fully understand how each muscle and joint works in our bodies. The gaining of this knowledge has helped me tremendously in understanding exercise and how everything is linked and works together!

Which course/courses would you recommend to others, and why?

As mentioned above,  I have done the prsonal taining and secialisd ntrition courses so far. I must say that I unashamedly recommend both of them:

  • The personal training because of the way the whole fitness course was structured and the content that was covered. The facilitator is very skilled and knowledgable.
  • I loved the specialised nutrition as it fleshed out the basic information I learned during the personal training qualification. It really helped me to customise and understand my clients’ diets in detail. Whether you are an athlete or not I suggest this course for anyone that is interested in nourishing their bodies correctly and healthy.

 What advice do you have for newbies/people just embarking on their journey in the fitness industry?

The only advice I have for beginners is that they need to have a plan with or without a coach. Most importantly, they need to stick to this plan and trust the process. As Rome wasn’t built in a day so too will your perfect body not be built overnight. Gain as much knowledge about nutrition as possible – you are what you eat!

Olaf – together with some of his other #TeamTrifocus members – demonstrated some suspension training exercises for us. Here he is doing the chest press with rotation. Watch how he does it.

Here’s how to perform this exercise next time you’re at the gym.

Set-up of the chest press with rotation

  • Stand facing away from the anchor point.
  • Ensure that your feet are shoulder-width apart.
  • Grab the handles using an overhand grip.
  • Extend your arms in front of you at shoulder height.

Movement of the chest press with rotation

  • Lean forward so that your body is at a slight diagonal.
  • As you extend your left arm, ensure that you pull your right arm back. Follow your right hand with your eyes.
  • Reverse the movement and keep your feet facing forward.
  • To make the exercise more difficult, rotate your feet with the movement.

Safety points for the chest press with rotation

  • Keep the tension constant in the straps.
  • Enure your body remains in a straight line.
  • The strap must not rub against you throughout the movement


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