Joe Warner's cover model body blog 4

Joe Warner slumped over a gym machine
(Image credit: Glen Burrows)

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

So far my progress in trying to transform my body from scrawny to brawny in just 12 weeks has been pretty successful. After three weeks I have more lean muscle tissue and less body fat and I’m noticing little new muscles where none used to be before. 

I was feeling strong, energised, and confident that I could nail Operation Cover Model Body. I could see a light at the end of the tunnel. It turns out that light was a train thundering down the tracks towards me.

Mind games

Undertaking any big challenge is, of course, physically knackering, but it’s also mentally draining. You need to be in the right frame of mind – positive, focused and confident - before and during your session. Afterwards doesn’t matter as much because, if you’ve trained right, all your brain should be worrying about is keeping your lunch in your stomach. If your head’s not in the right place then you’re never going to push yourself to the level you need to reach to get fitter, stronger, leaner – in a word, better. This week my head wasn’t in the right place and I found out the hard way that your mind can quit longer before your muscles do.

Ultimate Performance Fitness founder Nick Mitchell, the personal trainer who is overseeing this project, isn’t one for pussyfooting around whinging journalists. 

As soon as my form suffers, my head drops or I start complaining he’s shouting at me, telling me to dig deeper and reminding me of what we’re here to do. He repeats some of the negative comments that have been posted online about my challenge and asks how badly do I want to prove the doubters wrong. 

He’s also a big fan of slapping me pretty hard between the shoulder blades to fire me up before each hard set. Apparently it helps activate my muscles. I’d be more likely to believe him if he didn’t do it with a massive smile across his face. But making me angry is exactly what I need to get me back in the zone. 

If you don’t believe me, try this: before your next heavy set go at the bar like it’s just run over your dog then slept with your missus. Squeeze it hard for a few seconds, release your grip, then go for it. You’ll be amazed by the difference it makes to your performance.

Lessons learned

This week has been the hardest so far because my brain hasn’t been on the same page as my body. I need to learn my lesson quickly because as soon as you’ve had a bad session it’s harder to stay super-strict on your diet and before you know it the wheels have come off and the whole project has been derailed. Time for me to get back on track.

Cover model body supplements

As part of my cover model transformation challenge Nick Mitchell is making me take an assortment of supplements. I’ll be explaining the reasons behind a different one each week.

Topical Mag

What? A cream that is applied to the skin, typically behind the knees before bed, to restore optimal magnesium levels.

Why? Magnesium is the fourth-most abundant mineral in the body and involved in 300 essential biochemical reactions in the body, ranging from energy production in your cells to protein synthesis, making it vital for optimal athletic performance. Many people are deficient in magnesium and this cream can up your levels.

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.