A lot of people spend years training hard in the gym without any real results but if you follow a well-structured programme and nutrition plan, you can expect to get an impressively ripped physique in as little as two months. To demonstrate this, I’ve enlisted one of London's leading personal training and fat loss experts, Dave Fletcher, and top nutritionist Sharmain Davis.
Over the next eight weeks I (Nick Hutchings) am going to follow Fletcher's innovative function fitness programme designed to strip fat and improve power, strength and agility, as well as Davis's muscle-boosting eating tips.
This isn't going to be the kind of transformation that ends up with me looking like a Men’s Fitness cover model. I'm hoping to come away from this with the kind of lean, muscular frame you'd see on a UFC middleweight or light heavyweight fighter, and a similar level of athleticism.
How the programme works
'Having assessed your body, it's clear that you're a mesomorph [has a large bone structure, large muscles and a naturally athletic physique] so I've tailored the reps, sets, rest periods and weight vs cardio element of the workouts to suit your body shape as well as your goals,’ Fletcher tells me in the assessment before our first workout.
'This eight-week programme has been split into two phases of four weeks. The first phase is volume-based, so it’s all about lots of sets and reps and minimal rest to help shift body fat. The second phase will be focused on intensity, which means the weights will be heavier but there will be fewer reps and sets and the rest periods will be longer. The focus here will be on strength and power while maintaining the endurance gains and leanness achieved in phase one.’
'All the routines chosen have been designed not only to improve your body composition, ie reduce body fat levels and increase lean muscle mass, but also to help you make significant gains in functional strength and endurance. This means you’ll end up a stronger, leaner, fitter, more supple athlete.'
Dave’s description left me keen to get started, which we did with a full-on chest workout (which you can see in the video above). Every week during this challenge, I'm going to post a video of one of my workouts so you can follow it and come on this fitness journey with me. I hope at the end of all this we'll look great and work like well-oiled machines.
Weeks 1-4 workouts
In each superset, do six reps of the first move, then 12 of the next. Repeat this three times with no rest, then rest for two minutes before repeating.
Move on to the next superset until you've got through the workout. If the move requires you to work each side independently, do half the reps on one side and half on the other.
Tempo - 3010 (the eccentric contractions should take three seconds so they recruit more fast twitch muscle fibres)
Day 1 - Chest and back
Barbell bench press, gym ball press-up push
Jumping chin-up knee raise, dumbbell lateral shoulder raise
Power press-up, dumbbell explosive turn and press
Dumbbell press-up row, inverted row
Day 2 - Interval training
10x10sec hill sprints (10sec rest between sets)
5x30sec runs (60sec rest between sets)
3x60sec runs (90sec rest between sets)
Day 3 - Rest day
Day 4 - legs and abs
Barbell deadlift, explosive lunge chop
Bodyweight roll-out, explosive oblique twist (band)
One-leg assisted squat jump, dumbbell lunge jump
Hanging straight leg raise, gym ball forearm roll-out
Day 5 - kickboxing*
2x3min rounds (90sec rest between sets)
3x2 minute rounds (60sec rest between sets)
4x1 minute rounds (30sec rest between sets)
5x30sec rounds (15sec rest between sets)
6x15sec rounds (10sec rest between sets)
*If you can't do this for whatever reason do treadmill or rowing intervals
Treadmill - adjust the incline to 5˚
3min run, 1min walk
2min run, 1min walk
1min run, 1min walk
Rest for 3 minutes and then repeat
10x50m sprint, aiming to complete each in under 10sec, with a 20sec rest between sprints.
Day 6 - Rest day
Day 7 - Legs and arms
Barbell stiff-leg deadlift, gym ball hamstring curl
Explosive dip, dumbbell biceps curl
Dumbbell lateral lunge jump, box jump
Dumbbell shoulder turn and press, dyna-band biceps curl
What I’ll be eating
After after asking me a barrage of questions about what I usually eat, Davis came up with a perfectly structured eating plan for this programme. Here, she explains how it works.
‘Your nutritional intake should mirror your training programme over the eight-week period, so it will change from phase one to phase two. In the first four weeks the dietary goal will be to meet the energy demands of the volume sessions, while providing a calorie surplus to facilitate muscle mass gain. Your diet should be high protein (2g per kg of bodyweight), high-carb (complex, low to medium-GI) and low-to-moderate-fat.
'It was great to see that you were already having regular meals and snacks each day, eating every two to three hours with plenty of protein, fruit and veg, although carbohydrates were less consistent in your meals. Some of your meals, such as pie and chorizo, are too high in fat. Due to the explosive nature of your training, you’d be better off taking in more of your calories from healthy complex carbs, so add them to as many meals and snacks as possible.’
'I'd also suggest some supplements. Have a Maximuscle Progain or Cyclone bar mid-morning as a high-protein, high-energy snack. The Cyclone bar also contains creatine to help improve explosive/fast energy regeneration and HMB (a metabolite of leucine) to help reduce the muscle catabolism effects of intense training. A Cyclone shake should be taken immediately after training and in mid-afternoon on non -training days.
'Take Maxipower 20-30 minutes before training. This all-in-one pre-workout drink provides beta-alanine to increase muscle carnosine, which is responsible for buffering the acidic effects of exercise, caffeine to provide an extra focus and boost to your nervous system, and alpha-ketogluterate, which can help increase blood flow to the small capillaries within muscle, optimising nutrient delivery when you need it most.'
For more on Sharmain Davis, go to maxitone.com/asktheexperts
For more on Dave Fletcher, go to theodysseyway.co.uk
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Nick Hutchings worked for Men’s Fitness UK, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Nick worked as digital editor from 2008 to 2011, head of content until 2014, and finally editor-in-chief until 2015.