Q+A with Luke Worthington x Ancient + Brave

Q+A with Luke Worthington x Ancient + Brave

Luke Worthington holds an impressive array of titles;  One of the most sought after Personal Trainers in the world, a qualified sports scientist, nutritionist and strength and conditioning specialist with over 20 years experience in the health and fitness industry. Above all this is an expert who honours the holistic nature of the human body.  Luke takes a unique and precise approach to the muscolo-skeletal system which is why we were excited to sit down with him for the launch of our new Noble Collagen capsule… 

Luke, as you know here at A+B we are all about whole body health, and it is evident that you share this holistic approach too. Your approach extends beyond traditional coaching to enhance aspects like muscular strength and body composition. You prioritise integrating functional movement, improving mobility, and injury prevention/rehabilitation into your practice. What motivates this commitment to addressing these functional areas beyond traditional ‘fitness’ - how important is the detail?

My approach to health and fitness is it consists of five measurable ‘pillars’:

  • Strength
  • Work capacity
  • Mobility / motor control
  • Body composition
  • Emotional wellbeing

All of these things are positively affected by our activity and lifestyle choices, and all of us should be looking to address all five. Whilst we may choose to prioritise one or more of these at different times depending on current goals, we shouldn’t ever neglect any of them.

When I first started working in the industry (25 years ago now!) we always talked of the Health and Fitness industry. In recent years with the boom in competitive fitness we seem to have forgotten about the health part. In years gone by if people wanted to compete in something - they would take up a sport, and if they wanted to improve their health - they joined a gym. Now competitive fitness events have emerged as new sports in their own right.


Whilst the emergence of these new sports is a wonderful thing – their booming popularity (particularly on social media) has led more and more gyms, studios and trainers to amend their offering to cater for only this. Meaning that intentional exercise programs are more and more focused on being faster, higher, stronger, which in itself isn’t a bad thing – but if it comes at a detriment to some of the other pillars of health then it can be… My approach is to help my clients achieve their goals - but never at the detriment of their all round health. And this is the case whether training for a physical challenge, or an aesthetic transformation.

I feel this is an important message to convey – particularly given the niche of my private client base in the entertainment industry - which has often had to deal with the suggestion that the body shapes seen on screen are obtained in an unhealthy way. The clients that I work with get into incredible shape for their on screen roles, but we take our time to achieve this, and do it in a way that is considerate of their lifestyles, wants and needs, and never at the detriment of any of the five pillars of health.

We love the message you convey about viewing the body as an interconnected system of mini-systems. Can you tell us more about the daily maintenance techniques such as breathing exercises you use to complement your training plans? What kind of effects have you seen when your clients start to incorporate these small yet impactful techniques into their regime?

I would actually go a little further and say that yes, we can consider the body as many mini systems. Muscular system, skeletal system, nervous system, respiratory system, digestive system etc. indeed when you study physiology in any form this is how things are taught, and you may have a textbook for each of them. However, to really understand the body is to not just study the connections between these systems, but to understand that they are all in fact one and the same. When you consider we all were at one point just one cell that continually divided this becomes a little easier to comprehend.

An example is to take a breath: we have a primary muscle for this – the diaphragm, however, like any other muscle the action of the diaphragm is dependent on the position of the bones it is attached to. If they are in a ‘neutral’ position, the diaphragm works to draw in air. However, if those bones (lower ribs and lumbar spine) are in any other position (an arched lower back for example) then the muscle will still contract – but it will have a different action and start to move parts of the skeleton. However – the body still needs to draw in air to survive so will start to use other muscles to do so, which in turn will start to move other parts of the skeleton, particularly the upper spine, when we consider a portion of the grey matter of our brain extends down the upper spine (including the parts that activate the fight or flight sympathetic nervous system) then moving these bones will directly stimulate these ganglia. This is a very small example of how taking a breath in (something we do 40,000 times per day) involves not only the respiratory system, but also the muscular, skeletal and nervous systems. It also directly affects motility within the digestive tract but that would probably require a whole other interview!

When we address alignment with clients we are actually looking to bring all of the bodies systems into balance. This is something I do with clients during every session.

The human body is inherently built for movement. At A+B, we draw inspiration from ancestral wisdom. Our predecessors engaged in a variety of physical activities daily, such as climbing, crawling, running, swimming, digging, squatting, and throwing, as a means of survival. However, in the modern world, many of us spend the majority of our time sitting. What recommendations would you offer to future proof our body when our lifestyles are sedentary?

Not only are our bodies built for movement, they actually require it on a cellular level. Reciprocal (alternating) movement of our bodies works as a mechanical pump driving airflow into all four quarters of the chest cavity, improves digestive motility, venous return of blood, drainage of lymphatic fluid, stimulates osteoblast (bone cell) activity, improves hormonal profile, and if we are moving outside (and with our heads up rather than in a phone!), then we will experience a phenomena called optical flow as objects come in and out of our field of vision – this has been shown to boost serotonin, stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, and improve creative thought.


My recommendations are to include different types of movement in different planes of motion, ideally with some of it outdoors, and definitely being sure that some of it includes moving against incremental resistance. 

For individuals who are already active, what is your top recommendation to help them preserve optimal mobility and prevent any potential joint issues or injuries?

Moving through the fullest range of motion as possible is beneficial for joint health, and also that including some aspects of randomness in movement is helpful rather than just repeating the same patterns over and over. So some aspect of ‘play’ is ideal for this - whether it’s a field sport, dance or a martial art.

When designing gym based activities being sure that multiple planes of motion are being addressed - so not just squats and lunges or a stationary bike!

Having been in the industry for a long time, and having worked with a diverse range of clients, what are the most common factors contributing to joint and mobility issues and how can people overcome this?

The biggest problem is not moving at all – 60% of the UK population do no intentional exercise. The second biggest problem is those who do move have a tendency to repeat the same two dimensional movement patterns over and again. Whether that’s on a bike on a reformer or a squat rack. The third - if we are being very picky – and getting down to being truly optimal, and that is exercising with a suboptimal skeletal alignment, when things aren’t balanced some joints will be taking more load than others. To truly optimise joint health we should be sharing forces evenly between both sides of our body. 

We deeply believe in the power of daily rituals and consider them essential for maintaining overall well-being. What daily rituals do you prioritise to ensure you remain healthy and agile in your busy life?

I address alignment and balance daily for myself and my clients, and work with some small interventions that can bring things back in line very quickly. Making these things part of a daily routine is the key to seeing improvements - little and often! I call these little interventions ‘movement hygiene’ for clients and tell them they should be as much a part of their day as brushing their teeth.

In the world of well-being, trends often come and go, but our message remains on simplicity and consistency. Have you noticed challenges among your clients in maintaining consistency? What guidance would you offer for keeping consistent with healthy habits?

The interesting part about the trends that come and go is really lots of them are just the same thing with different names! Circuit training has been around forever - but - in the naughties it was called bootcamp, and more recently gyms started calling it HIIT. Strength and conditioning was rebranded as cross training with the crossfit boom, and now is being called Hybrid Training - but it's still the same combination of lifting weights and working on cardiovascular fitness!


As the industry has boomed and particularly with the rise in social media its become a noisy crowded landscape - so one way people try to make themselves heard is to come up with new names for things! My advice is to look past the names and acronyms and look at what you’re actually doing in your intentional exercise - then do your best to try to match that to the five pillars of health. Looking at multiple planes of movement, providing incremental resistance and ideally some aspect of randomness or play. 

However, perhaps the most important piece of advice is to find activities you enjoy - that way you have much more of a chance of being consistent with them. Remember - if you love your old school aerobics class in your local leisure centre – that’s the exact same activity as the ‘dance cardio’ classes that are all over Tiktok!

Do you have a favourite A+B product?

Can I choose two!? My favourite for functionality and versatility is True Collagen, I can add it to literally anything, coffee, smoothies, even yoghurts!

We are all so excited about our latest product launch - Noble Collagen - a unique formula designed specifically for superior joint care and mobility support. 

What aspect of Noble excites you the most?

I like the fact so much thought has gone into optimising collagen use for joint health. This is the exact reason I started taking collagen in the first instance (to help recovery from a cartilage injury) - so it's great to see that coming to the fore. I also like the convenience of capsule form - as much as it's great adding the powdered collagen to drinks and desserts – sometimes I might not have one or want to have one - but it's quick and easy just to take in capsule form.

I’m also looking forward to being able to keep practising Jiu Jitsu for many years to come without getting sore fingers!

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