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CONFIDENT WHEN IT MATTERS
Blast your gut
One kettlebell is all you need
to carve yourself a six-pack
Gym membership p161
179 ways to improve
Six-packs are built in the kitchen.
These 27 foods are your tools
Supersize your bench
p109 Abs snacks
Torch fat, look amazing, kick date night
up a notch – it couldn’t be simpler
Use verbal cues to improve instantly
p149 Middle management
Still doing sit-ups? Update your
routine with these essentials
p137 Hard core
Every good six-pack needs support.
Carve your whole midsection into flawless
shape with these four simple moves
Our Trainer section is chock-full of advice
and tips to get you in supreme shape
Strength, not stress
Calm down, beef up
p42 One man, 22 medals
Michael Phelps talks exclusively
to MF about his plans for the future
SUBSCRIBE TO MEN’S FITNESS
Model Richard Pearce@WAthletic
Photography Glen Burrows
Grooming Danielle Ogilvie using Kiehl’s products
And get 5 issues of the print or digital edition
plus BioSynergy Thermogen fat-burners free
For more details see p74 or go to
15 Fit List
Swing your way to awesome cardio
+ The world’s best abs move +
Fat-burning aphrodisiacs + Must-have
smartphones + The perfect punch +
Rory McIlroy on learning from defeat
Build your biceps like Charles Poliquin
+ Training tips from Jessica Ennis’s coach
+ Tim Ferriss on how to master anything
Michael Phelps talks golf and golds
+ 31 days to ultimate fitness + Why
everything you ‘know’ about fitness
is wrong + Are you in the gym elite?
77 Out There
MF jumps off a cliff
+ Gearing up with the best road running
shoes for any budget + Downhill mountain
biking - the ultimate adrenaline sport
95 Eat Fit
Metabolism boosters to help you get lean
+ The only cooking oils your kitchen
needs + Slow-carb lamb + Perfect
eggs - any style + 27 six-pack snacks
Fast-track your fat loss
Footwear for pressing success
+ Four core-carving moves + Two
dumbbells, one workout + Keeping
your fitness resolutions on track
+ Snowboarding stretches
Going downhill fast
Quick muscle soup
Ones for the road
Food of love
There are two big reasons why
your New Year fitness plans
might falter. The first is making
the effort but following bad
advice. You might, for example,
think that if your goal is to sculpt
a six-pack, you need to eat
less fat and do more crunches.
If that’s your view, you’re misguided,
and we explain why – and what you
should be doing – in ‘Everything You
Know About Fitness Is Wrong’ (p68).
The other big pitfall is suddenly
adopting a training regime that would
make an Olympian shudder and a
diet that would make a supermodel’s
stomach rumble. The smart thing to do
is to make small changes gradually, like
the ones suggested in ‘31 Days To Your
Fittest Year Ever’ (p52). Your first task
is to drink more water. If that seems
like an insurmountable challenge, you
may want to try a different magazine.
Jon Lipsey, Editor
The staﬀ of Men’s Fitness are always in the thick of the action
Subscribe to MF and get
five issues of the magazine
for £5 plus free BioSynergy
JOE, deputy editor
What I’ve been up to Getting in front
of the camera to demonstrate all the
exercises I did to get in shape for the
cover of the September issue of Men’s
Fitness. This wasn’t just to satisfy my
own vanity – the shots will appear in
our brand new MagBook, 12 Week Body
Plan. It contains the complete training
programme, nutrition and supplement plan
I followed – for more details, see below.
JOEL, features editor
What I’ve been up to Visiting Brazil for a
holiday, although I still managed to get
some training in thanks to the excellent
outdoor gym on Rio’s Arpoador beach.
It’s all concrete weights, pull-up bars, and
benches with wooden uprights, and the
sea’s much better than a shower. I also
took the opportunity to do some Brazilian
jiu jitsu at the city’s renowned Checkmat
academy, and got my arse kicked.
JAMES, feature writer
What I’ve been up to Pelting down a French
glacier in the Mountain of Hell downhill
mountain bike race. I was nervous on arrival
because it’s been years since I’ve been on
a mountain bike but a day’s practice, a few
bracing crashes and a broken bike later, I
dredged up something that could pass for
decent cycling form. Discovering the balls
to hit 2m-high drop-offs proved somewhat
harder. Read the full story on p87.
BEN, staff writer
What I’ve been up to Attending a jeet
kune do class at Elements Martial Arts
in Brighton (elementsmartialarts.co.uk).
JKD was devised by martial arts legend
Bruce Lee as a hybrid of traditional martial
arts and direct, practical movements that
would be effective in real-life combat.
The combination of aerobic/anaerobic
exercise with ballistic movements
makes it a great workout too.
Two great new MF books
Call 0844 844 0081 or
go to mensfitness.co.uk/
For overseas subscriptions
information call +44 (0) 1795 592916
Already a subscriber? Renew
your subscription or change
your details at subsinfo.co.uk
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reproduced in the UK or Republic of Ireland without the permission of Dennis Publishing Ltd.
Men’s Fitness is published in the UK and Republic of Ireland by Dennis Publishing Ltd and is sold subject to the
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cover and that it shall not be lent, resold or hired out in a mutilated condition or in any unauthorised cover by way
of Tra or affixed to or as part of any publication or advertising, literary or pictorial matter whatsoever.
The paper used for this
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manufactured by mills with
a valid chain of custody.
Words John doe Photography Jane doe
Keen to get your hands on every bit of training info
you can? Try these new Men’s Fitness MagBooks.
Workout Manual is full of the best routines and
expert advice from the pages of MF to help you get
fitter, stronger and better at sport, while 12 Week
Body Plan demonstrates how Joe Warner built a
cover model body in three months – and shows you
how to do the same. Buy them from magbooks.com.
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Liveby the board
When the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series
came to the UK for the first time, MF was
there. Our man Warren Pole may not
have emulated Ukrainian diver Anatoliy
Shabotenko (pictured) with a twisting,
dizzying, death-defying 27-metre leap into
the Blue Lagoon in Pembrokeshire, but he
wasn’t going to miss out on the adrenalinepumping action. Turn to p77 to find out how
Warren’s attempts at cliff diving went.
Words John doe Photography Jane doe
Photography Red Bull
YOUR COUNTDOWN TO A FITTER LIFE
Hit the streets with
our top running tips
and shoes p16
To get the perfect
abs you need to
roll with it p18
those wanting to
lose weight p21
How talking can
help you improve
your lifts p24
We round up
the very latest
Short, high-rep kettlebell sessions
will inflate your lung capacity
Do a high-rep kettlebell workout and you
will improve your cardio fitness as well
as boosting your strength endurance,
according to new US research. When
subjects did as many swings as possible
in 12 minutes, clocking up an average of
265 reps with a 16kg weight, the training
effect led researchers to conclude that the
exercise ‘can impart a metabolic challenge
of sufficient intensity to increase VO2 max’,
the body’s ability to use oxygen. They
also said that ‘kettlebells provide a useful
tool with which coaches may improve the
cardiorespiratory fitness of their athletes’.
Words Jon Lipsey Illustration Peter Crowther@Debut Art
Get off the treadmill and forget pounding the
pavement. These running techniques are
much more fun – and will burn loads of fat
running is a great
alternative to city
to navigate uneven
a tough physical
workout that burns
more fat than running
on even ground and
avoids the damaging
jarring effect of
repetitions of highintensity exercise
intervals,’ says trainer
Pete Geracimo of
KX Gym (kxlife.co.uk).
'This improves your
and your body’s fatburning ability. High
intensity means near
while low should
be around 50%.’
1min easy jog
Repeat for 15-20
feet style of
Discover your inner
Usain Bolt or Mo
Farah. ‘Find your
local 400m track
and join in group
track sessions,’ says
with others is a
great way to keep
you motivated and
others will spur you
on to improve. You’ll
still be burning lots of
calories long after you
take off your spikes.’
Xodus 3.0 GTX
the achilles, calf and
The shoe digs
into the ground to
durability is stripped
away to reduce weight.
The midsole mimics
the natural stability
of bare feet.
No extra support. Many
runners find they help
reduce injury and
If you’re a beginner,
have your running gait
analysed to ensure you
get the right support.
If the surface is soft
enough that you can dig
your sole into it, use a
trail shoe such as this.
It will help improve your
running times – try it if
you’re aiming for a sub2hr 45min marathon.
Teaches you to run on
your forefoot as a bridge
shoes and barefoot.
Don’t just switch over –
integrate them slowly
into your training.
Words Sam Rider Photography Danny Bird, Hugh Threlfall
running you choose,
pick the right shoe
with tips from Jamie
of the Sweatshop
store in Reading
Wor ld Time
10 Bar Water R esistance
From the Nairobi Collec tion PV4005X1
Add barbell rollouts to your
regime for rock-hard abs
Be aware of
5Get on your knees with your arms
extended and your hands holding a barbell
with a shoulder-width grip. Slowly roll the
barbell away from your body, keeping your
core braced throughout.
5Once you have extended
until your torso is parallel to the
ground, contract your abs to
pull the bar back towards your
body to the start position.
If you focus on how your
core muscles move during
abs exercises, they will
grow back bigger and
stronger. Research has
shown that being aware
of your muscles as they
work improves the
allowing you to work them
harder for greater results.
Words Joe Warner Photography Tom Miles
Model David Peters@MOT
f you thought barbells were only good for big strength
lifts such as squats, deadlifts and bench presses,
it’s time to think again. The barbell rollout is one
of the hardest – and consequently most effective
– abs moves for building a rock-solid six-pack.
The key to making this move as effective as it
can be is to keep tension on your entire core during
every rep, forcing these muscles to work overtime to
stabilise your torso. This means you won’t be doing
high-rep sets because the focus should be on slow,
high-quality reps to reap the maximum results.
tension on the
go fully upright
at the end of
is the best
way to build
his myth has been around as long as
men have coveted an impressively
defined core. However, sit-ups don’t
directly target the abs muscles, making
them ineffective at crafting a six-pack.
Instead they work small, stabilising
muscles within the hip joint. Great for
hip strength, rubbish for abs. Instead
of wasting hours on sit-ups, focus on
barbell rollouts, crunches and leg raises.
For more abs exercises go to mensfitness.co.uk/links/absmoves
Available at selected Boots
Shop online at boots.com
Shop online at boots.com
Subject to availability
Subject to availability
Turn her on
Want inspiration to lose weight? Look no further
Every woman wants her man to look fit and
healthy but, according to a survey, almost
one in five goes further and admits that
seeing their other half trying to lose weight
is a turn-on. You’d think that was inspiration
enough to ditch your gut, yet only 6% of
men admit to dieting to get more action.
The foods below will help – and also serve
as aphrodisiacs, so treat yourself and your
partner to get fit and invigorate your sex life.
Capsaicin, found in
fiery peppers, increases
blood circulation and
stimulates nerve endings
while firing up your body’s
Oily fish is packed with
omega 3 fatty acids, which
have been found to boost
the pleasure hormone
Pumpkin seeds are rich
in zinc and vitamin E,
which raise levels of
the sex hormone
testosterone, as well as
omega 3 fats.
In fine style Make sure your hair has the right stuff
Choose the best styling
product for your barnet
with these expert tips
from Michael Douglas,
style director of
Head & Shoulders
Silky but sticky feel.
Harder and stiffer
Similar to gel,
Thick and firmer
than gel and wax.
Silky and light.
Provides strong hold
with added volume.
Gives hair the ‘just
got out of bed’ look.
Adds volume to hair.
Gives hair a
Provides moisture for
a continuous wet look.
…creating big quiffs
and extreme styles.
…all hair types
…thin or limp hair.
…giving lots of texture
to short hair styles.
Blow-dry it in your
hair for a natural hold
without a sticky look.
Use a hard wax for
short hair and a soft
wax for longer styles.
Apply to damp hair
Only use in long hair if
it’s soft to the touch.
It doesn’t tend to dry
out, so use sparingly.
Words Sam Rider Photography Shutterstock
Sources LighterLife, One Poll, WHFoods
Get loads of goodness in one dish with this quick soup
Words Ben Ince Photography packshotfactory.co.uk Food styling Karol Gladki
Few dishes do as good a job of keeping you warm in winter as
soup. This comforting broccoli and stilton soup is packed with
nutrient-rich vegetables, takes minutes to prepare and is
guaranteed to give you a boost when the going gets cold.
1tbsp olive oil / ½ onion,
diced / 1 garlic clove,
crushed / 250g broccoli,
cut into florets / Handful
of spinach / 150ml vegetable
stock / 1tbsp stilton, crumbled
/ 1tbsp toasted almonds /
Salt and pepper to season
● Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat.
● Add the onion and garlic and cook until
the onion is softened.
● Add the broccoli, spinach and stock,
and bring to the boil.
● Remove the mixture from the pan and
blend until smooth.
● Serve with the crumbled stilton and
toasted almonds on top.
is high in chromium,
which the body needs to
build muscle, reduce body
fat and produce energy.
can help to lower
cholesterol and protect
blood vessels from
For more healthy meals that are ready in minutes go to mensfitness.co.uk/links/tenminute
Stats show that high
levels of stress prevent
your body from building
muscle and losing fat.
Here’s how to reduce it.
Use verbal encouragement to bench press more weight
Getting verbal encouragement while
you’re bench pressing can increase
muscle activation in the pec major – the
key muscle in the move – by 22%, a study
published in the Journal Of Strength
And Conditioning Research shows.
When subjects were told to focus on
the chest muscles during a lift weighing
50% of their one-repetition maximum, this
prompted them to switch on. This is useful
because there’s a correlation between
muscle activity and how much weight you
can shift. Make the instruction about the
muscle – shouting ‘it’s all you’ or ‘one more
rep, big man’ while your partner is on the
bench will just annoy your fellow gym-goers.
of people who exercised
on a work day reported
more successful time
management in a study at
the University of Bristol.
minutes of reading is
enough to reduce stress
by two-thirds, according
to a University of Sussex
study that measured
resting heart rate and
Words Jon Lipsey, Mark Bailey Photography Tom Miles
beats per minute is the
desirable tempo of music
to reduce stress levels
at work. Oasis’s ‘Don’t
Look Back In Anger’
is a suitable choice.
BENCH MORE RIGHT NOW
Three ways to improve your bench press instantly, from MF ’s muscle expert Charles Poliquin
Ensure you have a shoulder-width grip
on the bar. Too wide and you’ll place
too much strain on your shoulders,
too narrow and you’ll be working
the triceps more than the chest.
Pretend you are trying to pull the
bar apart (rip it in the middle) as
you press. This has been shown to
increase the activity of your triceps
so you can lift more weight.
When the weight feels heavy,
drive the back of your head into
the bench. This activates an innate
reflex that will allow you to lift
as much as 5% more weight.
minutes of moderateintensity exercise helps
maintain low anxiety
levels, says a study
published in Medicine
And Science In Sports
For more bench press tips from Charles Poliquin go to mensfitness.co.uk/links/poliquinpress
(av. 40% fruit)
Jam-packed with fruits and
cereal in a tasty yogurt-coating
Wild Berry, Apricot
100% fruit, one of your 5-a-day;
low in calories, fat free & no
added sugar Strawberry,
Blueberry, Mango, Cherry,
Where can Yu! find them?
Find the perfect healthy snack for Yu! in the healthy snacks and home
baking aisles (with the dried fruit) at Tesco & Sainsbury’s stores
nationwide now. The Bars can also be found in Waitrose.
For more information, head to www.yuhealthysnacks.co.uk
(for a chance to WIN an action-packed holiday worth £1,500)
or call us on 01344 707363
This new boot is ideal for speedy strikers
Puma EvoSpeed £150
Being able to change direction at speed is
a crucial skill for any forward, regardless of
whether they’re playing Sunday league or
Premier League football. That’s why Puma
has equipped the EvoSpeed with a Pebax
outsole and a mid-foot stability insert,
both of which help to provide optimal
flexibility, allowing you to alter your course
without losing your balance. Its lightweight
design helps to ensure you can play at top
speed – it’s worn by the likes of fleetfooted Manchester City star Sergio Agüero
– while its anatomically shaped K-Leather
upper offers maximum sensitivity for
precise penalty box finishing.
Words Ben Ince, Sam Rider Photography Danny Bird
Nick Levett is National Development Manager of Football at the FA’s St George’s Park
Give me five
The speed and constant
adjustments required by
five-a-side football make it a
great way to keep fit. It also
works as a challenging highintensity interval session,
according to research published
in the Journal Of Strength And
Conditioning Research. Use
these tips from FA coach Nick
Levett to hone your game
while you boost your fitness
Use dummy runs to
shake off your marker.
Fake to go one way
then quickly change
direction to find space.
That extra metre of
space can be vital.
Before you receive the Disguise your pass to When you shoot, use Tell your team-mates
ball, get your head up
fool the opposition.
the inside of your foot if they have space to
to recognise where the Change the angle of
for accuracy. If you
turn or an opponent is
space is. Then when
your foot at the last
have a chance but the
near (‘man on’). This
you get the ball you
second or try to look angle is tight, look for a helps them make a
can exploit that space away from the player
quick decision, giving
to start an attack.
you’re passing to.
your team the edge.
For more of the best football boots around go to mensfitness.co.uk/links/bootroom
Your Best ride starts at
a speCialized ConCept store.
Whatever you need, our highly trained staff have the knowledge and experience to
match you to the bike you want, in the size you need. That’s why we’re Specialized.
london Covent garden
Why it pays to have sodium bicarbonate in your corner
Master this fundamental
punch in three simple steps
If you want to sting like a bee when you throw a punch, try taking a
pre-fight dose of sodium bicarbonate – also known as baking soda.
When study subjects were monitored over four three-minute rounds,
the group who had taken sodium bicarbonate experienced ‘a significant
increase in punches landed’ compared with fighters in a control group,
according to the Journal Of Strength And Conditioning Research. The
theory is that it helped to control blood acidity levels and delay fatigue.
To make your shots even more effective, follow our expert tips.
‘Your feet need to be wider than your
hips, with your lead foot – the
opposite to your strongest hand – in
front,’ says striking coach Kenny
Moyston. ‘Keep your hands high and
elbows tucked in for a guard.’
‘Step forward with your lead foot
and rotate your whole body, from
your feet, up through your hips and
shoulders to generate power.’
Words Jon Lipsey, Ben Ince Photography Tom Miles
Kenny Moyston (kenshiro.co.uk) is head striking coach at ZT Fight Skool in Brighton
‘Use the power to snap your lead
hand out straight at your target,
keeping your other hand up. Return
to your guard position, tucking
your elbows back in to your ribs.’
BAG TO BASICS Improve your striking skills with our user’s guide to punchbags
Ideal for… practising
most strikes – it’s
substantial enough to
absorb power shots.
Coach’s tip ‘Try to
work the bag for three
minutes without losing
form,’ says Moyston.
‘Pace yourself – if
you throw 20-punch
flurries you’ll burn
out in 30 seconds.’
Ideal for… building
hand speed and
Coach’s tip ‘Start
slowly and build up
your speed. If you
try to hit it too
hard from the outset,
it’ll be impossible
to generate a
Ideal for… throwing
strikes at upward
angles such as
Coach’s tip ‘Don’t stand
still – you’ll get more
out of your sessions
if you move around
the bag and work on
your footwork while
Floor to ceiling ball
Ideal for… working on
your speed, timing
and head movement.
Coach’s tip ‘Make
sure you only hit
this ball with light
shots. If you throw
a strike with real
power it will just
bounce back and hit
you in the face.’
For more boxing tips and workouts go to mensfitness.co.uk/links/boxingfit
Get the lowdown on the latest smartphones
from Paul Briden of knowyourmobile.com
Apple iPhone 5
Words Sam Rider, Saajan Raja Photography Hugh Threlfall
Platform iOS 6
Even with its enlarged
102mm retina touchscreen
and robust aluminium
unibody, the iPhone 5 is
lighter and thinner than
previous models while
offering the same crystalclear visuals. There’s a
processor upgrade and the
camera has been tweaked
to allow for HD video calls.
Why buy it Its familiar
software makes it easy
to use, and it’s faster than
ever with enhanced apps
functionality thanks to a
redesigned App Store.
Motorola RAZR i
Platform Android 4.0
Although a mere 8.3mm
thick, the RAZR i is
hard-wearing due to its
aluminium and Kevlar
body. It’s also treated
with a splash-resistant
coating inside and out
so a spot of moisture
won't kill it. An Intel 2GHz
processor helps it run at
an impressive speed.
Why buy it It’s longlasting in every sense
– both physically durable
and, with a massive
2000mAh battery, able
to stay charged for ages.
Here’s how to make the
perfect post-workout shake
The benefits of a rigorous workout can
be undone if you don’t take on the right
nutrition after training. Consuming the
optimal blend of nutrients straight away
is the most beneficial way to ensure
muscle synthesis, according to research
published in the American Journal Of
Clinical Nutrition. Here’s what you need.
Nokia Lumia 920
The display is huge and
extremely sharp, giving
the iPhone a run for
its money. Films and
games look particularly
good, even in direct
sunlight. It also has 4G
data capability and the
camera uses advanced
Why buy it It delivers
the best-quality pictures
and video of any
£20 with EE contract
Samsung Galaxy S III HTC 8X
4.1 Jelly Bean
The picture quality is
top-notch thanks to the
large 122mm display and,
alongside the 1.4GHz quad
core processor, this makes
it a great device for gaming
and films. The Jelly Bean
OS is Android’s best yet
and provides a remarkably
Why buy it It’s now easily
the equal of Apple for
both ease of use and
apps, with 700,000 in
the Google Play store.
Free with Vodafone
A 110mm Super LCD2
display provides excellent
visual clarity, while its
matte-finish body is also
available in red, yellow
or blue. The 8X also
has Dr Dre Beats Audio
for improved audio.
Why buy it It does the
important things well –
messaging and social
network integration – and
is the lightest Windows
8 phone at just 130g.
Milk or water
Milk contains muscle-building protein, calcium to strengthen
your bones and iodine to help regulate your metabolism. The
other option you can use is water, which will rehydrate you after
a punishing workout.
This contains fast-release carbs that cause an insulin spike,
driving nutrients to your muscle cells to speed up recovery.
Naturally produced by the body from amino acids, creatine
helps to supply energy to your muscles, helping you train
harder. Exercise depletes your stores, so you should replenish
them as soon as possible.
Whey protein 30-45g
This is the most quickly digested form of protein and has a
100% bioavailability, meaning nothing is wasted – it’s all used
to rebuild your muscles.
Golfer Rory McIlroy turned early disappointment into world
dominance and he’s not going to loosen his grip on greatness
I’m an athlete, not just a golfer.
The way golf has evolved means
you need to be an athlete now
more than ever. The gym is a
big part of my training regime,
as well as getting my diet right.
Words Thomas Unsworth Photography Getty
I worked hard to build muscle
and now it’s important to make
sure I keep it. I lift weights a lot
and have also started doing a
lot of single-leg work to help
balance both sides of my body.
I do enjoy running and will use
the treadmill a bit, but I’m careful
not to do too much running.
I wasn’t ready to win the US
Masters in 2011 [McIlroy led
by four shots going into the
final round but hit a round of
80 to finish joint 15th]. I wasn’t
ready to win any major. The
experience showed me there
were parts of my game I needed
to analyse and that I also
needed to improve mentally.
I went away and did that.
Winning my first major was a
result of the mental changes I
made. I went into [the Masters]
wanting to win but not really
believing I could. But I went into
the US Open a couple of months
later knowing I could do it. I felt
ready to win and I didn’t want
to just turn up and compete
[he won by eight shots].
Everyone has bad days at the
office and you need to get your
head around that, no matter
what you do. But you can’t
dwell on it. You need to move
on, learning from your defeats
and disappointment. That’s a
big part of being a top athlete.
Relaxing when away from
sport is the key to dealing
with the stress of the big
tournaments. My parents and
Caroline [Wozniacki, professional
tennis player and McIlroy’s
girlfriend] help me switch off.
You need to unwind when play
has finished. Having the right
people around you makes
the world of difference.
Nothing feels as incredible
as winning as part of a team.
Winning a major was amazing,
but the 2012 Ryder Cup victory
is my career highlight to date.
It’s always special to win
the Ryder Cup but the way
in which we did it [after a
dramatic final-day comeback]
made it extra special.
Winning is addictive and I want
to keep on playing and winning.
I now enter every tournament
expecting to win it. In reality that
is never going to happen so I’m
not going to put pressure on
myself by setting a target. I’ve
won two majors [his second was
the 2012 US PGA] and I’m only
just getting started, so I hope
there’s a lot more to come, but
I’m not going to say I can match
Tiger [Woods, 14-time major
winner] or Jack [Nicklaus, 18-time
major winner]. You never know
– in reality I might even be able
to surpass them.
I want to compete in Rio in
2016. I’d love to go to the
next Olympics and I don’t
think there was anybody who
wasn’t inspired by the events
in London. I hope making golf
an Olympic sport encourages
more people to take it up.
‘Everyone has bad days at the office but
you can’t dwell on it. You need to move
on, learning from your disappointment’
Follow McIlroy’s tips
for a huge tee shot
Train your torso
Bulking up my upper body has
helped me so much. It isn’t that I’m
hitting the ball any further but it
takes less effort and my swing is
much smoother. The more strength
I have, the less effort I need to put
in and the more control I have.
…and your legs
You need to work on your lowerbody strength too because you
need to be able to support your
torso. Balance is everything in
golf and strong legs will support
your torso when going for power.
There’s no better way to perfect
your swing than to take yourself
down to the driving range and hit
balls for hours. You need to take
care of your shoulder if you’re doing
this often, and make sure you get
massage work when needed.
The best advice from the biggest names in ﬁtness
Jess was too small
to succeed. But we
made sure she
focused on herself and
didn’t get distracted,
and that helped
GUEST EXPERT p38
OLYMPICS EXPERT p40
WHY YOU SHOULD
LISTEN TO HIM
He is the world’s
on strength and
WHY YOU SHOULD
LISTEN TO HIM
He’s a bestselling
perfected the art of
fro languages to
sports, in a short
space of time.
WHY YOU SHOULD
LISTEN TO HIM
He coached Jessica
Ennis to Olympic
heptathlon gold in
London and was
nam coach of the
yea 2012 by
Spo Coach UK.
Words John doe Photography Jane doe
MUSCLE EXPERT p36
Bored of doing the same old biceps exercises over and over again? Here are
five must-do moves to get sleeve-busting arms from Charles Poliquin
There are dozens of biceps
exercises. The trouble is,
unless you’re involved in
this business full-time, you tend to adopt
a few exercises and do them over and
over again to the exclusion of all others.
This is simply a list of five of my
favourites. Obviously, many of them will
be familiar to you. However, you may want
to read the descriptions anyway because
you might discover a new way to do that
particular movement or you might find
that you’ve been doing it incorrectly.
L One-arm dumbbell preacher curl
Most biceps exercises require some
assistance and stabilisation work by
other muscle groups, but the preacher
bench was designed to isolate the biceps.
Most gyms have standing and sitting
preacher benches. I prefer the seated
version because it minimises cheating.
Sit on the bench with one arm fully
extended. Use your free hand to lock your
triceps in position. As you curl the weight,
keep your neck aligned by looking straight
ahead. You want to keep tension on the
muscle throughout each rep, so don’t curl
the weight up until your forearm touches
your biceps, but make sure you do lower
the weight all the way back to the start.
‘Most biceps exercises require some assistance and
stabilisation work by other muscle groups, but the
preacher bench was designed to isolate the biceps’
L Incline dumbbell curl
This is a simple, common exercise
and the most effective for isolating
the long head of the biceps, but I see
it done incorrectly time and again.
Recline on an incline bench with a
dumbbell in each hand and your arms
fully stretched out. Curl the dumbbells up
together while keeping your elbows still, at
least through the first 90˚. Keep your palms
facing up at all times so your elbow flexors
are well stretched. Here’s a tip: if your head
comes off the bench no matter how hard
you try to keep it down, roll up a towel and
place it between your neck and the bench.
You’ll find it increases your strength.
I recommend the incline dumbbell curl
as a staple of your arm workouts, especially
if you want to do specialised work for the
long head of the biceps. Just make sure you
change the angle of the bench every six
workouts so your muscles don’t adapt.
L Dumbbell concentration curl
The concentration curl can be performed in a
standing or a sitting position but I prefer the
latter. When you’re standing, your nervous
system has other responsibilities such as
maintaining balance, but if you sit down it
has its full attention on the movement.
Sit on a bench, lean over and grab your
dumbbell. Sit back and rest your triceps
against your inner thigh. Keep a slight arch in
your back while leaning over the dumbbell.
Make sure to curl the dumbbell slowly and
deliberately until full range is completed –
the dumbbell should be near your pectoral
muscle. It’s crucial that you lower the
dumbbell until your arm is fully extended.
L Close-grip chin-up
If your arms haven’t grown for a while, you
might want to consider doing this move more
often. It’s a surefire mass builder. Grasp the
chin-up bar with a close grip. The palms
of your hands should be facing you about
8-12cm apart. Pull yourself up until your
chin clears the bar. Do this very slowly – it
should take about 15 seconds or so. Then,
slowly lower yourself to the start position.
You won’t get many reps in the bag,
but that doesn’t matter because you want
to expose your muscles to the maximum
amount of tension. And don’t shortchange yourself by not coming all the
way down. Range of motion is critical.
L Seated Zottman curl
This is one of the best upper-arm builders. It
feels uncomfortable at first, so it may take a
few workouts to get used to this movement.
Grasp two dumbbells and sit on a flat
bench. Fully extend your arms downward
and keep your palms facing forward. Begin
curling the weight, but keep your palms
extended away from your body – the
tendency is to curl the wrist upwards, but I’m
asking you to extend the hand backwards.
Once you reach the top, rotate your hands
so your palms are now facing downwards
and straighten the wrists so, in effect,
you’re ready to do the eccentric portion of
a reverse dumbbell curl. Slowly lower the
dumbbells, keeping your elbows glued to
your sides throughout the entire exercise.
Get advice, find a course and buy
supplements at charlespoliquin.com
For more muscle-building advice from Charles Poliquin go to mensfitness.co.uk/links/poliquin
Being good at something needn’t require a lifetime of practice. You just need
to upgrade your approach to learning, says bestselling author Tim Ferriss
Tim Ferriss is the author of the
New York Times bestsellers
The 4-Hour Work Week and
The 4-Hour Body. His new book, The 4-Hour
Chef, focuses on meta-learning, a concept
that allows you to cut down the learning
time required to develop world-class skills
in many fields, including cookery, sports
and languages, by over 50%. Ferriss bases
this on a system he calls by the acronym
DiSSS, and he explains how to use it here.
The first stage involves taking a large,
intimidating skill and deconstructing it by
breaking it down into its minimal learnable
units. I wanted to learn how to swim at
the age of 35, so I started by breaking it
down into units such as arm motion, leg
motion, rotation and kicking. To help me
deconstruct it, I sought out triathletes
locally in San Francisco who weren’t built
physically for swimming and examined
how they trained, as it helps to listen to
people with very different training ideas.
With the skill deconstructed, you need
to select which 20% of the units you
need to focus on for 80% or more of the
outcome you want. The decision will be
based on the research you carried out
during the deconstruction process.
For instance, if you want to learn a
language such as Spanish in the space of 12
weeks, you need to first identify the words
that are used with the highest frequency –
you only need to learn about 1,200 words
to be considered functionally fluent – and
start learning them using flash cards.
Alternatively, you could start by learning a
‘The first stage involves taking a large, intimidating
skill and breaking it down into its minimal learnable
units. That’s how I learned to swim at the age of 35’
handful of verbs and use them to unlock
the rest rather than conjugating them.
Having established which units you need to
learn, the next step is to work out the order
Done with DiSSS? Hit the CaFE
Ferriss’s secondary acronym offers up more principles of efficient learning
If you can compress the most
important 20% of the units into an
easily graspable form, you’re less
likely to get overwhelmed when
you hit a learning plateau. I created
a poster containing 1,945 Japanese
characters and made it my ritual
to learn at least 20 a day. You can
apply this to almost anything.
Determine how frequently you
should practise your chosen
skill - your brain doesn’t
have unlimited quantities of
whether you should you cram,
what teething troubles you can
predict and what the minimum
effective dose is for volume.
This involves making difficult
material easy to grasp by
anchoring it to something
simpler, such as using
mnemonics and acronyms.
More sophisticated methods of
encoding, such as converting
numbers into images, allow you
to remember almost anything.
in which you need to learn them. A good
example of the importance of sequencing is
learning how to swing a golf club. When most
golfers ask experts or coaches for advice,
the problems usually lie in their sequencing
rather than their form – they’re performing
the right moves but doing so in the wrong
order. This applies to just about anything.
With your learning programme in place,
you need to set up stakes to create real
consequences to help to guarantee that
you follow it – essentially creating a carrot
and a stick. One year I made a New Year’s
resolution that I would be able to deadlift
225kg – and made it public, which meant I
had lots of people to hold me accountable
for it! That definitely helped me achieve it.
The 4-Hour Chef by Tim Ferriss is published
by Amazon Publishing and priced £21.99.
For more visit fourhourchef.com
Toni Minichiello explains the training philosophy he used when
coaching Jessica Ennis to Olympic gold – and how it can help anyone
I’ve coached Jessica Ennis since she
was 11. Along the way to the Olympics
she’s finished third at the 2006
Commonwealth Games, won and lost the world
championships, come back from several injury setbacks
and slowly convinced the world of her remarkable
talent. Yet success in London was far from guaranteed.
We knew some aspects of her ability were not up to the
required standard but we followed a plan to ensure
they’d get better. And the key lessons we learned on
the journey can be applied to anyone’s training.
L Focus on yourself
Don’t compare yourself with others. Before Jess started
winning medals people thought she was too small to
succeed – she’s 165cm. Every time she has stood on
a podium the women next to her have been tall and
robust. But Jess has always had a terrific work ethic,
and we made sure she focused on herself and didn’t
get distracted by anybody else. That’s helped her learn
and improve. Test yourself regularly. If you’re improving,
that’s all that matters. You’ll gain confidence from that.
L Intervals make you fit
Once a week I’ll do Fartlek training with my athletes
– this means working at intervals of fast, slow
and medium intensity. It’s a great way to burn
calories and get you seriously fit. They do circuits of
exercises but a good drill is to run using lampposts
as markers. Jog for three, then sprint for three and
so on. Those bursts will help you get fitter quicker.
Jessica Ennis to defy the
doubters and win gold
L Keep your body guessing
Week to week your sessions should change. If they
don’t you’ll stagnate. Your body responds to confusion,
it likes that each session is different. Look for ways
to keep developing but also make sure your different
sessions complement each other. If you’re doing
endurance work in the park but strength and power
work in the gym, you’ll become sore and risk injury.
L Watch your carbs
One big nutrition misconception is that sports drinks
are needed for carbohydrate replacement. People
will guzzle down two sports drinks after a session but
they won’t have burned that amount of energy during
exercise. Take on most of your carbs at breakfast
and some at lunch but not too many at night or your
Take it on the chin
Less than a year before the
Olympics Ennis was defeated
at the world championships.
Here’s how Minichiello
helped her bounce back
going to be
Don’t worry about being upset.
It’s part of the healing process
and it’s natural to have an
emotional response to a stressful
situation. Go through it.
body will store loads that it’s not going to use. That’s
how sumo wrestlers gain so much weight. Unless
sumo wrestling is your sport, avoid this practice.
L You never stop learning
You’re never going to be the finished product. A large
chunk of talent is natural ability but it’s important to use
the people around you to help you improve continually.
Two books I’d recommend anyone to read are Sports
Training Principles by Frank Dick and Periodisation
by Tudor Bompa and Gregory Haff. They will help
you make your training vastly more effective.
The UK Coaching Awards and the Gillette 2012
‘Great Starts’ campaign reward coaches and
offer support to inspire the next generation.
See it as an opportunity to reflect.
Identify what should have happened,
what did happen and what made the
difference. Analyse your success as
much as you analyse your defeats.
Defeat is only temporary but
giving up is permanent. Dwell
on it, learn from it, but then
move on. That’s what makes
you a stronger person.
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‘Coming into the Olympics I knew
what I was capable of and was
looking forward to finishing how
I wanted to, on my own terms’
Years of dedicated training brought him a record-breaking
Olympic haul – but now it’s all over. Michael Phelps talks
exclusively to MF about what’s next for him
Words Nick Hutchings, Joel Snape
Photography Glen Burrows
or most sportsmen, the
question of what to do
when it’s all over is one of
the toughest they’ll ever
face. Settle into the cosy
circuit of endorsements
and motivational speaking? Marry a
former soap star? Maybe reverse the
retirement and take one last run at glory?
It’s a difficult decision, made even
more so by the fact that they’ll never get
to do the thing they’re best at – certainly
the thing they’ve spent the most time
on, and maybe the thing they love the
most – at a competitive level again.
For Michael Phelps, who has spent
more than 20 hours a week in the pool
ever since he was in his teens, who’s been
to four Olympic Games and netted more
medals than anyone in history – 22 overall,
18 of them gold – it’s equally tough, but
for different reasons. After retiring at the
peak of his powers and the pinnacle of his
sport, the world at his feet, the question
isn’t what to do now – it’s what to do first.
‘We always joked about me getting superhuge and jacked,’ says Phelps, relaxing
between shots in the private swimming pool
where he has agreed to do a rare photoshoot
with MF. ‘At the moment I’m doing some
squats and weighted pull-ups, but I’m going
to try to do some more bench pressing.
‘I’ve done more in the last few weeks
than I’ve ever done after an Olympics.
After 2004 I took a month or two off,
after 2008 I worked out five times in six
P90X], to see what that hype’s about. My
trainer Keenan Robinson’s done that.’
If it seems odd to hear one of the most
successful athletes in history talk about
wanting to stay in shape, even talking
about trying an infomercial-based
fitness DVD, it really shouldn’t. Thanks
to taking up swimming at seven, making
the Olympic squad at 15 and breaking his
first world record eight months later (in
the 200m butterfly, three months shy
of his 16th birthday), Phelps has never
had to worry about putting on a bit of
extra weight. Take his infamous 12,000
calorie-a-day diet, which supposedly
sandwiches for breakfast. Surely even an
Olympian needs to watch what he eats?
‘When I was swimming, no. Now that I’m
retired, yes. I was burning so much that it
didn’t matter what you ate, how much you
ate.’ He trained, he says, for roughly five
hours a day in the pool, usually totalling
24 hours over a week, with another three
hours in the weights room and three doing
core or bodyweight exercises. ‘It might
get old staring at the black line but it’s
part of life,’ he says. ‘It’s something that
we all love and that’s why we do it.’
Of course, that doesn’t mean Phelps
and his US team-mates didn’t try to liven
things up occasionally. And the abolition of
the streamlined swimsuits that saw dozens
of world records fall in Beijing led to one
interesting addition to the hours in the water.
‘I did a lot of boxing,’ says Phelps. ‘Leading
‘I always enjoy new things when I
start doing them, then I get sick of
them. I used to love lifting, then I
hated it. Now I’m just, “Ehh”’
months. After London I worked out five
times in two weeks. There’s a spot that I
want to hit and stay at.’
And pushing up his bench numbers
isn’t the only addition to his workout
regime. ‘I’m running a lot more. Being
outside is really something I enjoy, just
putting on headphones and choosing
where you want to go and running at
your own pace. Since London it’s been
varying between two and eight miles,
anywhere from 12 minutes to an hour.’
The obvious question: does he have any
ambitions about racing? He’d be a monster in
a sprint-distance triathlon. ‘Ha! No,’ he says.
‘I want to try some of the other Insanitytype workouts [a DVD workout released by
the makers of ‘muscle-confusion’ workout
up to the last Olympics we did so much
training that we did different routines just
to keep things interesting. And since the
sport changed into what it is now, where
we’re not allowed the suits, you have to
have a stronger core. Boxing helps you put
everything together and work that core.’
Does he still do it? Not so much. ‘I always
enjoy new things when I start doing
them, and then I get sick of them,’ he
says. ‘So I used to love lifting and then
I hated lifting and now I’m just, “Ehh”. I
don’t mind it but it’s not my top choice.
‘I used to love boxing but then I was
over it by the end. So I started pushing a
weighted sled down a beach, this makeshift
Phelps has trained in the
pool for five hours a day
since his early teens
shopping-cart-turned-sled thing. I was
doing a lot of training in a sort of oldschool, Rocky-esque gym. Nothing flashy,
but we went in and got the job done.’
Another man trying to get the job done was
Phelps’s team-mate and rival Ryan Lochte,
who came to London looking to add to
his two golds from Beijing. The US media
seemed keen to stoke up the rivalry between
the two men and, in some ways, the fratboyish Lochte – who has his own signature
sneaker line, a workout DVD called HardCORE and post-retirement ambitions to be
a fashion designer – is Phelps’s opposite,
but the two are apparently good friends.
So did Phelps find the rivalry motivating?
You get the sense that he’s tired of being
asked the question. ‘It’s always great to have
somebody to race, somebody to compete
with,’ he says. ‘But at the end of the day,
I’m preparing for the goals that I want to
achieve and I can only control myself. So I
can only try to achieve those goals and if
I manage them, I’m happy. I’m satisfied.’
Another thing he’s looking forward to is
acting as a mentor for the younger members
of the US team. ‘We’ve seen a lot of people
grow up on the national swim team. They’re
coming in to replace some of the guys
that are retiring. We’re gonna lose a lot of
great people over the next couple of years
and we’ve got some great people coming
through who can continue our national
success. I’ve been on the team for 12 years
and we always seem to come out on top.
It’s been great to see the rookies grow up.’
One thing he’s adamant about, however,
is that he won’t be taking on any kind of
coaching role. In fact, he laughs at the
question. ‘I could not coach. I don’t have
the patience,’ he says. ‘I can help people
along the way, but I could not see myself
doing what Bob [Bowman, who has
coached Phelps since he was a teen] does.
I could not see myself coping with some
of the frustrations I’ve put Bob through.’
There are other projects too, of course.
After Beijing, Phelps used his $1 million
(£627,000) bonus cheque from Speedo
– awarded for beating Mark Spitz’s
single-Olympics gold medal tally – to
set up the Michael Phelps Foundation,
Phelps aged 14 at the 2000
US National Championships
At the 2012 London
won four gold medals
‘I could not coach. I don’t have the
patience. I could not see myself
coping with the frustrations I’ve
put my coach through’
‘It might get old staring
at the black line, but it’s
part of life,’ says Phelps
HARRY WILTSHIRE FIRST OUT THE WATER
MORE TIMES THAN ANY OTHER ATHLETE 2012
SUIT: ARCHIMEDES 3:5
1ST OUT COURSE RECORD
SWEDISH MIDDLE DISTANCE CHAMPS
1ST OUT COURSE RECORD
Phelps has continued
to work out since the
The highs and even-highers
of the most successful Olympic
run in history
Qualifies for the US Olympic swimming
team at the age of 15, becoming the
youngest athlete to do so in 68 years.
He doesn’t win a medal in Sydney but
finishes fifth in the 200m butterfly.
Becomes the youngest man to set a
swimming world record – in the 200m
butterfly at the World Aquatics
Championships – taking the title from Ian
Thorpe. Breaks his own 200m butterfly
record just months later to take his first
world championship in Fukuoka, Japan.
Wins six gold medals and a pair of
bronzes in Athens, the second-most
successful single performance at the
Olympics since Mark Spitz’s seven
gold medals in 1972.
Drops his speciality events – the
400m medley and 200m butterfly
– to experiment with entering the
400m and 100m freestyle at the
world championships. Inevitably,
takes gold in both.
Wins eight gold medals in Beijing,
setting seven world records in the
process – the greatest Olympic
performance of all time. Edges out
Serbian Milorad Čavić by 0.01sec in
the final of the 100m butterfly.
‘Golf is the most frustrating thing
I’ve ever done. It’s going to be an
exciting career but I don’t see myself
being professional, just competitive’
an organisation dedicated to promoting
swimming and healthier lifestyles among
teens. Then there’s his involvement in the
Caps For A Cause charity and his swim
schools, plus the foundation’s biggest annual
fundraiser, the Michael Phelps Golf Classic
– something that meshes particularly neatly
with another of Phelps’s serious interests.
‘Now I’m retired and done, I’ve started
picking up golf,’ he says. ‘And I think I’m more
comfortable standing on a starting block in
Speedos in front of millions of people than
I am standing on the first tee at a pro-am
golf event. It’s so different. On the block I’m
in my own zone. At that point you just get
up and do what you have to do, it’s such a
part of your nature.’ However, the breaker
of 39 world swimming records has already
transferred his record-setting ways to the
green on one occasion, at the Dunhill Links
Championship at Kingsbarns in Scotland.
‘I holed a 53-yard putt – supposedly it
was the longest televised putt in history,’ he
says, before immediately downplaying any
notions that he’s going to be competing in the
Ryder Cup any time soon. ‘Golf is the most
frustrating thing I’ve ever done. It’s going to be
an exciting career, but I don’t see myself being
professional, I just see being competitive.
‘Right now I’ve just been travelling around.
I’m filming a golf reality show with Hank
Haney, Tiger Woods’s old coach. Golf is a sport
Takes silver in the 200m freestyle at
the world championships, losing to
Germany’s Paul Biedermann. Phelps’s
coach Bob Bowman complains about
Biedermann’s polyurethane swimsuit
giving him an unfair advantage, but
Phelps is unruffled.
Takes silver in the 200m freestyle at the
world championships, losing to his US
team-mate Ryan Lochte, leading to
rumours that Phelps might try to qualify
for shorter races in 2012.
Qualifies for his favourite eight events
in London. Comes fourth in the 400m
medley – the first time he’s failed to
win a medal in an Olympic final since
2000 – but rallies to scoop four golds
and a brace of silvers. Wins his 18th
career gold to cement his place as
the most successful Olympian ever.
Golf, charity work and the Michael Phelps
Foundation beckon. Life is golden.
On his way to gold in the
200m butterfly at the 2011
I’ve been interested in for a long time,
but I’ve been too busy to get involved.’
On a break
Finally, there’s the stuff Phelps simply
couldn’t do before, for fear of jeopardising
his sponsorship deals, medals and place
in history. Lochte has infamously fractured
an ankle riding his scooter, gone through
knee surgery after a breakdancing incident
and hurt his shoulder falling out of a tree.
Phelps has been more careful – until now.
‘There are a lot of things on my bucket
list now,’ he says. ‘Skiing and snowboarding
are at the top of the list. Waterskiing is
something I’d definitely like to do. There’s
a lot of stuff I want to do now that I’m
not potentially going to ruin a career.’
Retirement is obviously an exciting
time for the man who’s arguably the most
successful athlete ever. Anything is possible
and, for the first time, everything is allowed.
For the moment, everything’s also incredibly
busy – but you get the sense that’s just fine.
‘I’ve just come from St Andrews,’ says
Phelps. ‘Tomorrow I fly back to the States.
I’m there for three days, then I’m heading to
China for a pro-am golf tournament, then to
Brazil. I’m seeing new places and spending
more time with my foundation. It’s a lot of
travelling, a lot of suitcases, but not too many
pools.’ He pauses. ‘That’s a good thing.’
‘There’s a lot of stuff I want to
do now that I’m not potentially
going to ruin a career. Skiing and
snowboarding are top of the list’
It's not all work and no
play… Phelps kicking off
the 2011 pool season
Phelps and his 4x200m
freestyle relay teammates, including Lochte
(second from right)
Since retiring, Phelps
has played on the
pro-am golf circuit
HIS LAID BACK
‘I’ve been motivated for
everything. I’ve had goals
every step of the way. So
coming into the London
Olympics I was been more
relaxed than I ever was. I
knew what I was capable of
and I was looking forward to
finishing how I wanted to, on
my own terms. I can say that
I’ve done everything I’ve ever
wanted, and that’s fine. I
never have to worry about
what if I did this or that.’
‘I have to mention the 400m
medley from 2004, my first
Olympic medal. But the 200m
freestyle from Beijing was
one of my best ever races
and it’s hard to not put the
100m butterfly in there, or
the 400m relay. There are
a lot of memorable races,
but the 400m in Athens and
that 200m free in ’08 are
probably my favourites.’
‘Before a big race there’s
not much you can do. All the
work and everything that
you do is in the preparation.
So really I’d spent years
leading up to London. Once
you get to that point you
can’t change how you’ve
prepared, you can’t change
your strokes, everything
you’ve done is going to come
out during the meet. So at
that point you just try to have
as much fun as possible.’
‘I look at music like the
soundtrack of my life. There’s
a song for everything I’ve
done in my career. There are
songs that remind me of my
mother, remind me of my
sister. It’s mostly hip-hop.
The beats let me focus on
my own zone. I’m more of a
Biggie Smalls than a Tupac
guy. I have Ready To Die,
Biggie’s album, on at least
two or three times a week.’
To watch footage of MF’s shoot with Michael Phelps go to mensfitness.co.uk/links/phelps
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XXXXXXXXX BY FEB
TO YOUR FITTEST
Make one change a day – and see your
body transform in a month
Words Joel Snape Photography Danny Bird
Fitness isn’t an all-out war, it’s a series of small skirmishes. By taking tiny steps and
changing your life one day at a time you’ll be more likely to stick with the
changes you make – and they’ll mount up to improve your life. This plan
runs for one calendar month, with some tasks designed for the
working week and some that are easier to tackle at the
weekend. Stick to it and within weeks you’ll
be fitter than ever.
SAT Drink more water
Good news – the best nutritional supplement is already
pumped conveniently into your house. Studies have shown
that low hydration levels affect everything from physical
performance to mood – and the remedy couldn’t be simpler.
‘Aiming for half a pint of water per hour will see that you’re well
hydrated throughout the day,’ says trainer Stephen Hoyles. ‘Just
stop at least an hour before bed so your sleep isn’t disrupted.’
SUN Push, pull, lunge
Want to get lean
while adding muscle? Strength
and conditioning expert Chad
Waterbury’s ultra-simple ‘push,
pull, lunge’ programme is the
solution: do pull-ups, lunges and
press-ups every day for the next
30 days. If you can already do
ten pull-ups, start with ten reps
of each exercise. If you can’t,
start with one. Add one rep every
day for the rest of the month.
‘The first week should feel
like nothing,’ says Waterbury.
‘But small additions each day
make a big difference over the
long haul.’ Do it first thing in the
morning so it won’t interfere
with your other workouts
– apart from providing an
easy boost to your fat loss,
muscle and endurance.
Fix your breakfast
It’s easiest to eat cereal on
workday mornings, right?
Wrong. ‘Eating cereal for
breakfast will give you low
blood sugar by mid-morning
and make you hungrier in the
long run,’ says Dr John Briffa,
author of Escape The Diet Trap.
‘You don’t need to eat a lot to
fuel the body throughout the
morning but you should have
something low-carb that’s
nutritionally sustainable, such
as plain full-fat yoghurt with
berries and nuts, scrambled
eggs or hard-boiled eggs with
smoked salmon or ham that
you don’t even have to cook.’
Rethink your commute
According to a 2011 study
on Swedish office workers,
commuting by car or public
transport – as opposed to on
foot or by bike – has links to
depression, exhaustion and
stress. If switching isn’t an
option, get off a stop earlier so
you get a walk or take the stairs
when you get to the office.
Upgrade your lunch
‘If you’re suffering from mid-afternoon tiredness, reduce your
carb intake at lunch,’ says Hoyles. ‘Opt for high-protein, low-carb
meals such as chicken salad to stabilise your blood sugar and
prevent afternoon energy dips.’ Use olive oil as a dressing for a
boost in healthy fat.
Streamline your inbox
Every ‘ping’ from your email
produces a tiny spike in your
levels of the stress hormone
cortisol, which promotes fat
storage. Cut back with Gmail’s
‘filter’ option: create a NonEssential folder and filter
Amazon shipment updates,
newsletters and the like
directly into it. And switch
off the notification noise.
Hit the bar
Unless you’ve decided to quit
booze (it wouldn’t hurt), switch
your Friday night pints for a
‘paleo margarita’, invented
by The Paleo Solution author
Robb Wolf – agave tequila with
soda water and plenty of lime.
The tequila doesn’t give much
of a blood sugar hit and the
lime blunts it even further. The
bubbles just make it taste nice.
SAT Get outside
Words John doe Photography Jane doe
Go for a walk. A study
in the Journal Of Environmental
Science linked outdoor
workouts with increased energy
as well as lower levels of
tension, confusion, anger and
depression. A brisk walk will
also boost your fat loss without
elevating harmful cortisol levels.
Use the officechair stretch
If you’ve got a desk job, your
glutes and hip flexors are
dormant for most of the day.
Wake them up with this stretch
from mobility coach Kelly
‘Sit resting your right foot on
your left thigh. Keeping your
back straight, bend forward
at the hip. For more support,
hook your crossed knee on
a desk or table.’
specialist Chris Kemp.
‘Experiment to see if it works
for you.’ The spray version is the
easiest to use – try it before bed.
The easiest, most effective
change to your eating habits
is to keep your drinks simple.
‘The sugar or fructose in soft
drinks – and even orange
juice – is unnecessary and
leads to weight gain,’ says
personal trainer Max Manlay.
‘Stick to coffee, especially in
the morning – caffeine is a mild
fat-burning agent.’ As a bonus,
studies say it will also help
you work harder in the gym.
‘Replace grains with greens to
improve your body composition
and load up on crucial nutrients,’
says Hoyles. ‘If you don’t like
greens, blend them into a
smoothie to avoid the taste
but enjoy the benefits. Spinach
in a shake sounds awful but
you’ll barely notice it.’
Ditch the cola
‘Magnesium has been linked to
fighting depression, regulating
blood pressure and improving
sleep quality,’ says strength
coach and biosignature
Eat your greens
Enhance your sleep
It’s Friday again and time to do
something about your recovery.
To get the best night’s sleep
you can, make your bedroom
as dark as possible: blinking
lights, such as alarm clocks and
standby LEDs, will affect your
body’s melatonin levels and
decrease your quality of sleep.
SUN Soundtrack your gym sessions
Several studies suggest that music in the
120-140 beats per minute range will help you work
harder during your workout. Create a playlist on your
MP3 player and use the free Nike+ app to assign your
favoured tune to the easily accessed ‘power song’ slot.
FIT BY FEB
SAT Automate your shop
Use an automated service such
as Amazon’s Subscribe & Save to keep
a steady flow of your non-perishable
recipe choices, and the Grocery IQ
app to organise your meat and veg
needs. With a firm plan, you’re less
likely to stray down the cake aisle.
SUN Batch cook
Do a big cook at the
weekend and you won’t need
to rely on your local eateries
during the week, ensuring you
eat healthy meals. ‘Instead of
going to the gym on Sunday, use
the hour to chop and bag veg,
boil eggs or otherwise prepare
meals,’ says strength coach
Dan John. ‘It will pay bigger
dividends.’ Need inspiration?
Try this muscle-building recipe.
500g lean beef mince / 1 red
onion, roughly chopped /
3 cloves garlic / 1 can chopped
tomatoes / 1 medium carrot,
grated / 1 medium courgette,
grated / 1 tube tomato purée /
½-1 organic beef stock cube /
1tsp honey / Dried chilli flakes
to taste / Chilli powder,
hot paprika, sweet paprika,
cinnamon powder (all to
taste) / 1tbsp olive oil
b Heat the oil and sauté the onion
with the chilli flakes until the
onions start to caramelise.
b Add the garlic and spices, and
cook for a couple of minutes
before adding the mince.
b Fry the mince until thoroughly cooked
then add the rest of the ingredients.
b Stir thoroughly, reduce the
heat and leave to simmer in
a covered pan for at least
40 minutes, or longer
if you have time.
FIT BY FEB
Train your handshake
‘Whatever you do in the gym, your hands are the last link
in the chain,’ says Kemp. ‘Use thick-handled weights
in your workout to make sure they aren’t holding you
back.’ Or get a pair of super-strength hand-grippers (see
strengthshop.co.uk) and use them at your desk.
Switch one of your daily
cups of builder’s tea for the
green variety. It has mild
thermogenic effects, which
means it’s a fat-burner, and
antioxidant properties to reduce
cell damage. Add a slice of
lemon for a hit of vitamin C.
Catch some Z
‘Low zinc levels exacerbate the
effects of stress and ageing
on the body,’ says Kemp.
‘Poor immunity, inability to
focus and a poor memory
are signs of a deficiency.’ An
easy way to get some is to
cook with garlic, which is also
high in vitamins B and C.
Rethink the sofa
Commercial break? Instead
of lying motionless on the
couch, use it as a stretching
aid. ‘Face away from the sofa
and put one knee on the seat
with your instep against the
back and your other foot on
the floor,’ says Starrett.
‘Squeeze your glutes and
drive your hips forward
to feel the stretch in your
quads and hip flexors.’
SAT Have sex
It’s the weekend, so
spend some time with your
significant other – and get
in the mood for romance by
mentioning that regular sex has
been linked to improved heart
health, stress levels and sleep.
It also burns up to 144 calories
in half an hour – just right for
working off a glass of red wine.
SUN Fix your
The band pull-apart is a versatile
move that can give you extra
upper-back definition, make
your shoulders stronger and
prevent damage from bench
presses or press-ups. It will also
improve your posture. Hold a
band with your hands shoulderwidth apart, then stretch it
across your chest. Get in 100
reps while you’re watching TV.
‘Vitamin D improves immunity,
organ function, mental health
and joint mobility, and helps
metabolise fats,’ says Hoyles.
In winter, you don’t get enough
from the sun, so supplement
with at least 1,000IU a day.
Words John doe Photography Jane doe
‘The human foot has more than 100
muscles and tendons,’ says NFL
performance coach Joe DeFranco.
‘Wearing cushioned shoes is like
wearing a cast all day – the muscles
and tendons become weaker over time,
which increases your chances of ankle,
knee, hip and back injury.’ Fix it by
training barefoot or by wearing minimal
shoes such as Vibram FiveFingers.
FIT BY FEB
Try fish oil
‘Fish oil has been shown to increase
fat metabolism, improve mood,
prevent cravings for unhealthy foods
and improve your joint health,’ says
Hoyles. Eat more salmon or keep a
fish oil supplement in the fridge.
Superpower your shake
Still drinking just protein and water? You
can do better. Upgrade it with a handful of
berries (blueberries are best), some chia
seeds (for the omega 3 fatty acids) and a
splash of almond or coconut milk (if you’re
trying to put on muscle). A meal in a glass.
Start a journal
It’s only for three days and don’t worry,
you don’t have to tell it your feelings. Use a
food-tracking app such as MyNetDiary to
track everything you eat over a three-day
period. The chances are you’re going over
or under your calorie/protein/fat/carb
requirements and don’t even realise it.
Do a protein audit
‘You should be getting a minimum of
1.5g protein per kilo of lean body mass
per day,’ says Manlay. So if you weigh
80kg and have 10% body fat, aim for
108g a day. If you’re not getting that,
make today the day to fix it. It’s the
easiest way to fuel your muscle needs.
SAT Eat more fat
Words John doe Photography Jane doe
Here’s your new rule of thumb
for fats: unsaturated fat (found in avocado,
coconut, olive oil and fish) is good,
saturated fat (in red meat and butter) is OK
in moderation and trans fat (in processed
food) should be avoided at all costs. Use
today to familiarise yourself with them.
SUN Test yourself
Turn to our feature ‘Join The Gym
Elite’ on p60 and choose three tests. Note
your scores and commit to improving them.
‘Having measurable goals is the easiest way
to make progress – they will keep you more
than motivated looking in the mirror ever
will,’ says strength coach Zach Even-Esh
Take your reward
Have you changed your habits over
the rest of the month? Did you do your
full complement of pull-ups, lunges
and press-ups yesterday? Take the
day off – and don’t worry about it.
‘Don’t think of it as a cheat day,’ says
nerdfitness.com founder Steve Kamb.
‘That implies you’re doing something
wrong. Instead, apply the 80/20 rule
– eating great 80% of the time and
having whatever you’re in the mood
for the other 20% allows you to look
great, feel great and enjoy your life.’
Tomorrow, start again.
For some great pull-up variations go to mensfitness.co.uk/links/pullups
Want to make 2013 your fittest year ever? Take MF’s seven tests
to find out how fit you are and what you need to do to improve
Words Joel Snape Photography Pete Webb
o you think you’re fit? Or maybe
you don’t. Either way, the best way
to improve your performance in the
gym is to take a close look at your
strengths and weaknesses so you see what
needs to be addressed and plan accordingly.
That’s where this fitness checkup comes
in. We’ve put together a battery of tests that
will allow you to analyse every aspect of your
fitness, helping you to identify those areas
that need improvement so you can get fitter
than ever before.
HOW IT WORKS
You can do any of these tests whenever
you’d like. If you’re going to do the lot,
though, we’d suggest splitting them over
two or three days so you aren’t worn out.
Once you’ve established where you are on
the Beginner-to-Elite spectrum, our experts
have given the advice you need to get to the
next level. And remember, if you’re looking
for well-rounded fitness, it’s better to be
Advanced at everything than Elite on the
bench and a Beginner everywhere else.
TEST YOUR FITNESS
The test One-rep max
The form No bounce-it-off-your-chest bravado here,
just one quality rep with as much weight as you can
manage. It’s essential to get a spotter, but after he helps
you unrack the bar he can’t touch it again until your arms
are locked out at the top. Not comfortable with going as
heavy as possible? Go for your three- or five-rep max
and use the calculator at strstd.com to predict your max.
Why it’s important The bench lets you shift more weight
than any other upper-body move, so it will help you
prepare for athletic events as well as building an
impressive chest. And everyone’s going to ask what you
bench anyway, so you might as well have an answer.
Beginner Less than bodyweight
‘If you aren’t benching your bodyweight,
you can increase quickly,’ says personal trainer
Adam Gethin. ‘Do three sets of five reps with a
weight that you can handle comfortably and push
it up by 2.5kg a week. The lower you start, the
longer you can go without hitting a plateau.’
Intermediate 1-1.25x bodyweight
‘You should be able to get to 1.25 of your
bodyweight with the plan above. If you can’t, lock
your technique in. Try to make sure your forearms
are vertical when you push, tuck your elbows in and
experiment with grip width to see what allows you
to handle the most weight.’
Advanced 1.25-1.5x bodyweight
‘Here’s where you need to start adding
assistance moves. Two of the best are the closegrip incline press [hands around 30cm apart] and
the dumbbell row, which will strengthen your back
and give you a more stable platform to press from,
as well as keeping your shoulders healthy.’
Elite Over 1.5x bodyweight
‘This is pretty impressive. To hit the magic 1.5, make
your warm-up flawless by doing two sets of ten reps
with just the bar to groove the move, and doing low reps
for your other warm-up sets. You could also try some
clap press-ups to get your fast-twitch fibres firing.’
The test 500m as fast as you can
The form A strong pull and recovery will knock seconds
off your time, but it’s also crucial to set the ‘damper’ on
your rower properly. Notching it up to ten is like hitting
your lowest gear on a bike, while setting it to one won’t
provide enough resistance to let you move fast. Seven
or eight works best for most moderately trained men.
Why it’s important Rowers refer to 500m chunks of
effort as ‘pieces’ and they’re a good indication of how
things will go over the more gruelling 2km Olympic
distance. It’s a cardio challenge that brings in your
upper body as well as testing your heart.
‘First aim to complete 500m without stopping,’
says strength coach Chet Morjaria. ‘Once you can do
that, increase the distance you can row without
stopping. Work up to 2,000m, keeping a 500m “split”
time that isn’t too far above what you’re aiming for.’
Intermediate 1min 45sec-2min
‘To take your rowing to the next level, look at
your technique. A rowing stroke is similar to a clean
or deadlift and should be a powerful movement. In
the drive phase, your legs initiate the power and your
arms remain straight. Then your hip flexors and torso
muscles maintain this power through the leg and hip
drive. Your arms finish the stroke with an accelerating
pull toward your torso that completes the transition of
power from lower body through torso to upper body.’
Advanced 1min 30sec-1min 45sec
‘Rowing 500m over and over isn’t necessarily
the best way to improve your time. Work shorter
intervals to increase your capacity. An all-out 250m
followed by a couple of minutes’ light rowing,
repeated four to six times, is a good place to start.’
Elite Under 1min 30sec
‘Determined to shave an extra second from your
time? Think in terms of power per stroke rather than
rate. Slow it down: juice the drive part of the stroke for
power, and slow your recovery. Once you’ve mastered
this, increase your stroke rate and improve your time.’
The test A static hold for as
long as possible
The form A proper plank is simple: toes,
elbows and forearms on the floor, hands
clasped together, body in a straight line.
Once your hips sag, the test is over.
Why it’s important The plank is the best
all-around test of your core strength and it
won’t ruin your back like sit-ups. Once you
can manage two minutes, adding a weight
vest or plate will let you build abs of iron.
‘If you’re struggling to hold the
plank at all, you should try some
progressions,’ says Morjaria. ‘Hold each
stage for 30sec. Once you can do that,
progress to the next stage. Stage one is
starting on your knees with arms fully
extended. Hold that position, keeping
your core tight. Stage two is progressing
to straightening your legs out but keep
your arms fully extended, still maintaining
a solid core. Stage three is dropping
down on your elbows into a full plank.’
‘To work your way up to 1min 15sec in one
go, build up to a total of 90sec of plank in
as few sets as possible. Aim to bring this
number down until you can complete 1min
15sec in one set.
TEST YOUR FITNESS
The test 1 mile (1.6km)
as fast as possible
The form It’s up to you.
Free trackers, such as the
Runkeeper app, will time
you over a mile on the road,
but alternatively you can
hit the treadmill. If you pick
the latter, set the incline to
1% to mimic more closely
what your road-running
brethren are going through.
Why it’s important The
mile has been the gold
standard of middle-distance
running since before Roger
Bannister laced up his shoes.
It’s fast enough to test
your pace and far enough
to scorch your lungs.
Beginner Over 9min
‘Run farther to improve
your endurance and get your
body used to the mechanics
of running,’ says strength
coach and ex-army PT Andy
McKenzie. ‘Try two to three
sessions per week with an
increase of 800m each week
over a period of four weeks.’
helps to improve the aerobic
system. Breaking the
distance into 100m, 200m
and 400m segments and
then focusing on speed will
bring your times down.’
1min 15sec-2min 30sec
‘Once you’re doing a couple of minutes at once,
try barbell rollouts to further strengthen your
core. Start with your knees on the ground and
place your hands on a barbell in front of you.
Slowly roll the barbell away from you, keeping
your core tight. Roll out until your torso and arms
are full extended. Hold for a second then
squeeze the abs and reverse the process,
bringing the barbell back to your knees.’
Elite Over 2min 30sec
‘Squat, press and deadlift! Performing these
core-intensive compound lifts on a regular basis
with heavy weights will tax and strengthen your
core. You can also try plank variations to add
additional instability and rotational demands on
your body. From a standard plank position lift
one leg up and hold, lift one arm up and hold or
lift one leg and one arm up at once.’
‘Get stronger in the gym.
Increasing leg strength and
power will improve stride
length. Do cleans, singleleg squats and barbell hip
drives to keep it specific
to running. These will also
protect you against injury.’
Elite Under 5min
‘Hill running with your
hands on your head will help
improve leg strength and,
more importantly, hip flexors.
Concentrate on a powerful
knee drive and press your
elbows to the rear. It’s great
for core muscles as well.’
TEST YOUR FITNESS
The test As many as possible
The form There are many ways to
do pull-ups, but for this test you’ll be
tackling them Russian special forcesstyle: palms facing away, straight
arms at the bottom, chin over the
bar at the top and absolutely no legswinging. Simply do as many as you
can without dropping off the bar.
Why it’s important As well as
building your grip, back, shoulders
and core, pull-ups are a great test
of how strong you are relative to
your bodyweight, and pushing your
numbers up means keeping your body
fat down. Nobody who can manage
20 will have a gut – guaranteed.
Can’t do a single pull-up? Don’t
give up and turn to the lat pulldown just yet. ‘Focus on negative
reps,’ says Gethin. ‘Do two to four
sets of two or three reps, jumping
to the top position with your
chin over the bar, then lowering
yourself as slowly as possible.’
Improve your numbers by
‘greasing the groove’, a favourite
move of Russian strength coach
Pavel Tsatsouline. Put a pullup bar somewhere easy to
reach and do lots of easy sets
throughout your day or evening.
As you break the dozen, try
strength and conditioning expert
Chad Waterbury’s high-frequency
pull-up plan: one set of max reps
in the morning, another in the
evening, a day off, then repeat.
Elite Over 16
‘It’s time to start adding
weight,’ says Gethin. ‘Try six reps
with 30% of your bodyweight
hanging around your waist. Once
you can do this, keep increasing
the number of reps on this until you
reach 12. By now, your bodyweight
effort should be pushing 20.’
TEST YOUR FITNESS
The test As many as possible with
your own bodyweight on a barbell
The form Stand up straight at the top and
make sure your thighs are parallel to the
ground at the bottom of the move. It’s fine to
take a few deep breaths in the ‘up’ position.
Why it’s important Every man should be
able to squat his own bodyweight: it will
make you better at sport, life and getting off
the toilet unassisted in old age. It will also
release growth hormone and testosterone,
helping the rest of your body to grow.
‘Just getting stronger will have the
greatest impact,’ says McKenzie. ‘Measure
your one-rep max [in the same way you did
for the bench] and then work on a routine of
three to five sets of three to five reps above
80% of your test results.’ Add 2.5-5kg a week.
‘Work on the mobility of your ankles, hips
and upper back. You want to move with the
body, not against it. Set aside ten minutes of
each session to work on weak areas.’
‘Introduce 3-5sec isometric holds at
various points of the lift as you perform each
repetition. The increased time under tension
and added benefits of isometric strength will
provide a different and much-needed stimulus.’
Elite Over 30
‘Do breathing squats. Go for a weight you
should only be able to manage for ten reps and
aim for 20, taking three deep breaths between
each rep for the first five reps, four breaths from
reps six to 12 and five breaths from 13-20 reps.
Do this with a partner – or a bar-catcher.’
The test As many as possible
in two minutes
The form You’ll be doing these in
the style of an army physical fitness
test: straight body, arms locked at
the top, chest touching the floor at
the bottom. You can rest, as long
as no part of your body except your
hands and feet touches the floor.
Why it’s important Hitting a
half-century of press-ups will
put size on your arms, blitz your
core and allow you to stay in
shape anywhere you go.
‘If you’re under
14 reps, don’t be
your score by doing
half the amount of
reps you managed in
the test, resting for
90sec and repeating
for three to five sets.
Do that two or three
times per week and
you’ll bust into the
in under a month.’
‘Get more reps
done by altering the
effects of gravity on
the body with the
use of suspension
straps. As you start
to fatigue, simply
increase the angle of
your body to the floor
and keep going.’
‘Split your routine
into a strengthbased session using
a weighted vest or
plate, working on
three to five sets of
five to eight reps.
The second session
should focus on
increasing reps using
ladders: start with
one press-up, then
two, then three, all
the way to ten.’
‘Get explosive on
the first two to four
reps of every set
by performing clap
your core as you push
hard off the floor to
in your spine.’
Looking to get in shape for the first time? Make
sure you aren’t starting out with the wrong ideas.
MF dissects the most common fitness mistakes
Words Joel Snape
Illustrations Peter Crowther@Debut Art,
Patrick George@Debut Art
is what you
When it comes to your
body, the bathroom
scales aren’t as important
as the mirror
It’s natural to look for proof of progress
when you start a new fitness regime, but
leaping on the scales every morning is the
wrong way to approach it. For starters, the
body mass index (BMI) system – used by
the NHS – becomes a poor indicator of
health once you start putting on muscle.
It makes no distinction between fat and
muscle, so a 170cm-tall man who weighs
77kg will be diagnosed as overweight
whether he has 8% or 18% body fat. A better
indication is the mirror – it doesn’t lie.
‘Building as much lean
tissue as possible should
always be the aim, because
it also creates the perfect
environment for your body to lose weight
effectively and keep it off. To do so, reduce
your carbs and cardio, increase your intake
of protein and healthy fats – especially at
breakfast – and eat plenty of green veg.
Finally, lift weights. A well-structured
weights programme, including plenty of big
lower-body work, will help to build muscle
and create the leaner look you’re after.’