Training A Paralympian

Personal Trainer and fitness model, Mitch Lawrence spends two PT sessions a week working with Paralympian Dan Bramall (read our interview with Dan here). 

Dan, who has cerebral palsy, only began wheelchair racing five years ago but last summer he became a member of the Great Britain team competing at the Rio Paralympics.

3XSport decided to catch up with Mitch, who has nine years of experience in the health and fitness industry, to find out what it was like training with such an inspirational athlete. 

How did you start working with Dan?

I first met Dan as a member of the gym where I worked as a personal trainer. We initially developed a friendship, and, in the lead up to the 2016 Paralympic games in Rio, Dan approached me with regards to training him for his gym-based strength sessions.

I felt honoured to be given the opportunity, knowing what he had already achieved and that he would soon be competing at the Paralympic games. We have worked closely together ever since, training twice a week.

What do your training sessions consist of?

They typically consist of a 10-minute warm-up, using the arm cranking cardio machine and some dynamic stretching to help loosen the joints and aid mobility.

After this we’ll go into the main section of the workout. This is mostly strength and power based, using an array of fixed weight machines, free weights and functional training equipment such as medicine balls, battle ropes and various cable machine exercises.

The rep range in which we work on is generally based on strength protocols geared towards Dan’s event being the 100m, which requires a lot of explosive power and muscular strength. 

Does he need to be careful with his diet?

For the 100m Wheelchair sprint it is counterproductive to be carrying excess weight, so it is vital that Dan remains as lean as possible whilst maintaining a high level of power and muscular strength.

With Dan being on the World Class Performance Programme, he receives specialist nutrition guidance and advice from a Team GB dietician.

How important is a trainer’s relationship with an athlete?

It is very important to have a healthy and trusting relationship so that there is mutual respect between both parties.

From my experience, this tends to result in a greater understanding of the needs and requirements of the athlete, so that all training plans devised are with the athlete’s training goal in mind.

Is it a fulfilling experience training with Dan?

It is a very rewarding experience as he is an elite athlete representing his country and competing at the very top level of his sport.

I find Dan’s work ethic and drive very inspirational, particularly considering that his achievements have been over such a short period of time. He only started wheelchair racing in 2012, and within four years competed at the highest level of his sport, representing his country and being paid as a full time athlete. He narrowly missed out on the medal places at his first Paralympic Games, which was an incredible achievement in itself.

The most gratifying part of my job as a personal trainer is knowing the positive impact I’ve had on a client’s lifestyle, and seeing the results that they achieve. The fact that this has been accomplished through my knowledge and guidance makes it even more satisfying.


Written by Harriet Mallinson on behalf of 3xsport. For the full article visit