Joe Warner's cover model body blog 10

Joe Warner lying on floor
(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 could use them to clean my pipe.”

“Why are you riding an ostrich?”

“I’ve seen wider legs on a table.”

I’ve heard all the jokes about the size of my legs. Whether it’s a matter of genetics or years spent long-distance running, I’ve never had big legs. They get me from A to B – back in my running days, pretty quickly – but I’ve never had pins to be proud of. It’s lucky I never became the lead singer in an indie band because I’d have struggled to fill out a pair of skinny jeans.

I’ve accepted the fact that I’m never going to have the tree-trunk legs of a rugby player, but I’ve learned that I still need to train them hard with heavy loads to give my cover model mission the best chance of succeeding.

“A lot of men totally neglect training their legs because they are only interested in getting big arms, an impressive chest and a six-pack,” says Nick Mitchell, the founder of Ultimate Performance  and my muscle mentor in my 12-week challenge. “But training your legs is an essential component of any training programme if you want to build upper-body muscle and burn excess body fat.”

That’s because the muscles that make up your lower body – specifically your glutes, quads and hamstrings – are the biggest you have, so working them really hard forces the release of testosterone and other growth hormones into your bloodstream that promote the building of muscle everywhere, not just your legs. These hormones also instruct your body to burn more fat, so the result is a stronger, leaner you.

Squat party

I’ve never been a huge fan of squats, mainly because I’ve never been able to lift heavy. I used to feel like a bit of a fraud taking up squat rack space when I struggled to do even five or six bodyweight squats. Now, after ten weeks of legs sessions with Mitchell, I look back on those ‘easy’ workouts with fond memories. Why? Because this is the legs workout he made me do this week. I did all these in order, without rest. 

Front squat (8 reps) 

Hamstring curl (8 reps)

Dumbbell walking lunge (35 metres) 

Weighted sled drag (35 metres)

Back squat (12 reps) 

Rest for three to minutes then repeat four times.

Sets appeal 

You use the same weight for the front and back squats so there’s no faffing around with weight plates. That’s good if you don’t like faff, but it’s bad if you like having the opportunity to try and get your breath back. Even after the first set my legs and lungs were burning and three minutes is simply not enough time to recuperate, so each set becomes far, far harder. But it’s a great session to fire up your metabolism to burn fat while working the muscles so they grow back bigger.

To be honest, I’m more interested in burning away those last few bits of fat around my stomach than trying to bulk up my ostrich legs. I’m not putting my head in the sand: I know that I need to work my quads, hams and glutes more, but it’s a process that’ll take many months to make a real difference. But I have just two weeks until my ‘after’ photoshoot and the success of OCMB will rest on whether or not I can get this elusive six-pack. So it’s head down, eyes on the prize and no, I’m not going to clean your pipe.

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? QuadriCarb

Why? This powder is the ideal source of post-workout carbs, containing quick-release sugars including maltodextrin, dextrose, fructose and D-Ribose. This will spike insulin levels to push nutrients into your depleted muscle cells and kick-start the recovery process.

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.