Matthew Jenkin has dreams of looking like a superhero as he swaps slimming for building muscle for his Olympic body challenge
‘Whose body would you like to have in six weeks time?’ asked Gym Box personal trainer Will Pike. ‘Captain America,’ I quickly replied, salivating at the memory of hunky actor Chris Evans’ turn as the muscle-bound comic book hero.
I am just over halfway through my three month challenge to look and feel like an Olympian before the London 2012 games and after weeks of hard graft in the gym, combined with a healthy, low calorie diet and Maximuscle protein shake and supplements, I have noticeably slimmed down and toned up.
But while I may have dropped a jeans size or two, I’m not quite ready to rock the spandex superhero look.
Currently resembling a Peperami in a condom rather than a rock solid, rippling beef steak, the next part of the challenge is, therefore, to bulk up and build muscle.
In terms of diet, that means protein, protein and more protein with every meal.
Maximuscle Nutritionist Gareth Nicholas said: ‘Now as you go into the building stage, you’ll be in a positive net balance of protein, which means that you need to constantly be trying to get a little bit of extra protein in or protein synthesis going on. If you don’t do that, you won’t build.’
Following Nicholas’s advice, I’ve stocked my office desk draw with plenty of nuts for a high protein snack and included lean meat and fish with every meal, while keeping the amount of refined carbs to a minimum most days.
I am also using Maximuscle’s Cyclone range for high performance training, drinking two protein shakes a day, one in the morning and one immediately after exercise, as well as eating snack bars for an extra protein kick when I’m feeling peckish.
Of course, chomping on a bloody steak every two hours isn’t going to give me the body of a God, so it’s important to balance the diet with the right fitness program.
According to Will Pike – a personal trainer in London who advocates a more holistic approach to exercise – if you want to build muscle, train with heavier weights and increase intensity so you are failing on your last rep.
He says as long as you are pushing your body every session, that’s what counts.
He said: ‘New research says, as long as you are doing three sets, nearing failure on the last set, you’ll achieve results.’
From leg presses to chin ups and bench press to body rows, the new program drawn up for me is, unsurprisingly, an exhausting list of circuits, alternating between pushing and pulling exercises each session.
And to achieve that all important six-pack, a set of stomach crunching abs exercises have been prescribed every day.
While my partner has had to arm himself with a bundle of josticks and a box of matches due to the stinky bodily emissions I have been guilty of as a result of the high protein diet, he’s delighted to have noticed the first signs of a six-pack.
But is there any danger of losing that lean body by piling on the calories needed to build more muscle?
According to Will, if you bulk up, you’ll lean down as well.
‘It’s about changing your body composition,’ he said.
‘We all have our lean mass, which is our working organs and muscles, and around that we have a layer of body fat.
‘Body fat doesn’t require any calories, it’s just hanging on. But lean mass is living tissue, so requires calories. So the more lean mass muscle you have, the more calories you will be burning.
‘The more muscle you have in your system, the more fat you will be burning.’
If you’re not in London but would also like to benefit from Will’s work-out wisdom, he is launching an online coaching service soon.
Will offers people also wanting to take a more holistic approach to fitness a six to 12 week 360 Degree Change package, which includes healing, lifecoaching, personal training and nutrition advice.
In April he co-founded The Velvet Journey to offer events and services which empower gay men to feel better about themselves, and to lead happier, more fulfilled and balanced lives.
The first two-day workshop will start on June 30 in London’s Hilton West End hotel and will include talks led by life coach Tony Selimi, group discussions and a variety of innovative coaching exercises, supported by Will.
Follow my Olympic body challenge progress on Twitter @matthewjenkin