Joe Warner's cover model body blog 9

Joe Warner working out
(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.

I’m nine weeks into my challenge to try and build a body worthy of gracing Men’s Fitness magazine. That means I’ve already written eight blogs on my progress so far. And I’ll be honest: this week I was struggling to think of something new and interesting to write about. So I asked my followers on Twitter what they wanted to know about OCMB.

The overwhelming response was for more details on my diet. I’m not surprised. Making a big change to the way you look with your clothes off is mainly about what you eat. You can exercise like a beast but the old adage stays true: you can’t out-train a bad diet.

So here is what I ate yesterday. Brace yourselves, it’s pretty wild.

Breakfast: Roast beef slices with broccoli

Pre-workout drink: NOxtreme Extreme Workout (45g with 400ml water)

Workout snack: Water with BCAA (three capsules after every set)

Post-workout snack: Protein shake (40g whey protein, creatine, 75g carbs)

Lunch: Turkey slices with mixed vegetables

Dinner: White fish with mixed vegetables

Pre-bed snack: Small bowl of porridge with cinnamon

Mental mindset

Eating meat and vegetables for breakfast takes time not only to get your head around, but also to prepare. But if you want to kick-start a fitness mission – whether that’s to lose fat, build muscle or both – I highly recommend that you give this breakfast a go for at least a week. I know it’s not as convenient or tasty as a bowl of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, but this sums up the mindset you need to adopt when seeking significant changes to your body shape: you are now eating for your muscles, not your taste buds. It’s hard to give up the foods you love, but big changes require certain sacrifices.

Peri good

Peri-workout nutrition – which refers to the food you consume before, during and after your session – is hugely influential in promoting the right conditions to make maximum changes. That’s why I have a pre-workout drink that contains caffeine and beta-alanine, a type of amino acid. I find that it really helps me focus on the session and also provides a nice muscle pump. It also makes your face and hands tingle a bit, a sensation that sometimes extends as far south as my testicles, which I consider an unadvertised bonus. 

Branching out

After every single set I pop three BCAA capsules. These are three types of essential amino acids that help prevent muscle breakdown while promoting protein synthesis. The upshot is bigger, stronger muscles, so necking 40 pills per workout is well worth the trouble. I’ve been detailing the rest of the supplements I’ve been taking each week in the black box on the right of this page – this week it’s Holy Basil Supreme.

A post-workout shake is essential for repairing your muscles as efficiently as possible. At first Nick Mitchell, the founder of Ultimate Performance and the man mountain in charge of making me ripped, didn’t give me any post-workout carbs because I had too much body fat. Now I have ‘leaned out’ he has started introducing carbs into the shake to help promote muscle mass growth.

Keep it lean

The rest of the day is built around lean protein and vegetables to give me just enough energy to keep building muscle without any excess that will be stored as fat. I am also allowed a small bowl of porridge with cinnamon before bed. I think this is to prevent any muscle being broken down overnight, but it may just be Mitchell seeing how far he can push me before I crack. I hate porridge. 

So there we have it. It’s pretty boring and not very tasty, but it’s a diet plan I need to stick to if I am going to get anywhere close to cover model shape. 

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? Holy Basil Supreme

Why? These capsules are designed to limit your cortisol response when you’re faced with those daily disturbances that can make your blood boil. Having high levels of the stress hormone rampaging through your system is very damaging and can result in your body storing more fat around your belly. This supplement will also protect the body from the effects of both physical and chemical stress and will boost morning and afternoon energy.

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.