Joe Warner's cover model body blog 6

Joe Warner performing triceps dips
(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. 

As I’m SIX weeks into Operation Cover Model Body (OCMB), now seems the right time to talk about my SIX-pack. See what I did there?

Actually, I can’t really talk about my six-pack because I don’t have one. This is a bit of a problem when you want to look like a Men’s Fitness cover model, because the one thing that sets each of our front-page stars apart from every other man on the street is their well definded stomach.

Until I started this project I didn’t even have a two-pack. And now, after 28 sessions in 42 days, I have something almost resembling a four-pack. If I tense and stand under very favourable lighting.

For me – and most men for that matter – the trouble is that the old abs are perennially hidden under a layer of fat. And it doesn’t matter how many crunches you bang out, nothing will change until you burn away that belly. 

Chewing the fat

Thanks to Nick Mitchell, personal trainer, founder of Ultimate Performance Fitness and the architect of OCMB, I now know what it takes to get lean.

And guess what? It doesn’t involve hour after hour of long, slow cardio. Think of it this way: if running was the best way to burn fat then Forrest Gump would have had the meanest six-pack the world had ever seen, instead of just a gigantic beard.

I wished I’d known sooner, having spent years pounding the pavements thinking the further I ran the more ripped I’d be. 

Be less stressed  

“To build muscle and burn fat you need to work out hard and fast because testosterone – the hormone responsible for positive body composition changes – peaks around 45 to 60 minutes into a workout,” explains Mitchell. “After that it falls away rapidly as cortisol levels rise.”

Cortisol is the stress hormone, and elevated levels not only prevent your body from eating into its fat stores, it instructs your body to store more of the energy you consume as fat, especially around your stomach.

“So to reduce body fat and build muscle you need to train intensely for no more than an hour, keeping rest periods between exercises as short as possible,” says Mitchell. “This approach will break down muscle fibres while also keeping your heart rate high to burn calories during and after your session.”

What you eat is also hugely important. Here are my OCMB food rules.

Half measures

So I’m halfway through this challenge and feeling good about the final six weeks. I’ve already noticed significant changes in the way I look and feel, but I’m still acutely aware that it’s going to get even harder if I’m to shave off those extra bits of fat that are stubbornly sticking to my lower abs. But I’ve invested too much time and effort to think about quitting now. Time to dig deep.

Cover model 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.

What? Ultra HCl 4.0

Why? If your stomach can’t efficiently break down food into the building blocks of muscle, you’re not just wasting money on good food, you’re also wasting your time in the gym. Ultra HCl 4.0 contains compounds that help you extract vitamin B12 and iron from food, both of which are vital for good energy levels, as well as a host of other compounds, including pepsin, herbal bitter and gentian root, all of which fire up your digestive system.

Also add these foods that contain iron to your diet

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.