Joe Warner's cover model body blog 1

Joe Warner
(Image credit: Glen Burrows)

Joe Warner is the deputy editor of Men’s Fitness magazine. His mission is simple: to see how close he can get to being in cover model shape in just 12 weeks. 

I’ve never had much success in building muscle and burning fat. And working for the UK’s best-selling fitness magazine, that’s always been a bit of a bugbear for me. Each month we explain the simple steps to packing on lean muscle tissue and blitzing body fat, but I’ve never given it a really good crack. Until now.

I decided I wanted have a proper go at getting into great shape by following a serious training and nutrition plan to the letter. I’ve also recently turned 30, but I’m sure this is purely coincidental.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not expecting a miracle. But if anyone can turn a skinny-fat (too much body fat but still with weedy limbs) former vegetarian into someone that vaguely resembles the models that grace the cover of Men’s Fitness magazine each month, it’s personal trainerNick Mitchell, founder of Ultimate Performance Fitness, which has gyms in Mayfair and the City of London.

I’ve known Nick for a couple of years and regularly pick his brains on the hot fitness topics we cover in the mag. And I’m going to get to know him an awful lot better over the next 12 weeks because he is overseeing OCMB (Operation Cover Model Body), in charge of my training and nutrition, including supplements.

Nick’s a former bodybuilder and his neck is almost as wide as my waist. He walks the walk as well as talking the talk. I’ve actually trained under him before: he put me through a fat-loss workout a couple of times at the end of last year. He made me vomit on both occasions. I certainly weighed less at the end of the workouts but it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.

Fighting fat

My first week with Nick begins with him measuring my body fat levels through a process called BioSignature Modulation. Using callipers, he works out where my body favours storing fat and this knowledge informs him of which supplements I should take to help restore hormone levels to a level where I start burning lard rather than hoarding it. The results aren’t pretty. At 1.8m, I’m 72.3kg at about 15% body fat. Most of this chub is stored around my chest (a sign of too much oestrogen, the female sex hormone that can be elevated in men through too much booze), and my stomach, which indicates I have too much cortisol, or stress hormone, in my system.

I could have told him that. I do get stressed: it’s why I drink.

To combat the fat while adding muscle, Nick gives me a simple nutrition plan for the first two weeks. Here it is, cut and paste from his email.

Joe, here's what you will be eating:
 - 2g protein per lb (0.45kg) bodyweight, ideally over six meals.

- Green veg every meal.

- Whole eggs, red meat and oily fish for fats.

- Red meat EVERY breakfast with a handful of nuts.

The rest of the day you can have any animal protein source you wish, plus greens. Portion size is simple - a normal-sized plate must be half filled with greens, and half with protein. NOTHING ELSE.

You can have one protein shake per day, no more. This can be whey or a blend of proteins and you must take omega 3s with it.

If you skip a meal you are skipping a workout, so you are wasting your own time and, even worse, you are wasting mine. Eating is more important than training right now.

 Well, as I’m a nice guy, on a Saturday night you can have one medium-sized glass of red wine. ONE.

As for training, Nick will be training me four times per week, alternating between upper- and lower-body sessions. Check out next week’s blog for an update on my first week of OCMB.

Joe Warner
Former editor of Men’s Fitness UK

Joe Warner is a highly experienced journalist and editor who began working in fitness media in 2008. He has featured on the cover of Men’s Fitness UK twice and has co-authored Amazon best-sellers including 12-Week Body Plan. He was the editor of Men’s Fitness UK magazine between 2016 and 2019, when that title shared a website with Coach.