Nowadays there is as much pressure on men as there is on women to look good but is obtaining the physique of a fitness model 1) achievable? 2) maintainable? 3) Important?
Like most people I have felt this pressure! Before our wedding I took up the keto diet and continued training so that I could get as lean as possible (see before and after pictures below). I wanted to be in the best shape I could be for my wife on our wedding day. Ashamedly, I also wanted to look good in my stag pictures!
I achieved this look in 6 weeks. I know I am no beast nor will I make the cover of Men’s Health! It did the trick though. However, this lifestyle/diet was not sustainable or fun for me!
Above are two friends of mine. On the left is Jason (@coach.jj), a bodybuilder, and on the right is Craig (@craig_stephen_31), a professional fitness model. Jason has always seemed to have good genetics whilst Craig, will admit himself, has not always been in this shape and it has been much harder for him to achieve. With hard work and discipline they have both achieved incredible physiques and are ideally placed to help me answer the questions I posed to you…
Is obtaining the physique of fitness model 1)achievable? 2) maintainable? and 3) actually important?
Evidently it is achievable! We see images like these in the media every day, people going from overweight to the hulk in 10 weeks! But how long does it last and is it really that important?
After speaking to Craig and Jason it was clear just how much discipline it takes to achieve such an aesthetic look. They both weight train 5-6 x a week for 60-90 minutes and stringently plan and track 5-6 meals a day, every day. Craig also performs hours of cardio every week and his diet is ridiculously stringent. He rarely eats carbs, never eats sugar, and says that his diet can be extremely monotonous. The pictures of them are them at their absolute peak. Jason explained that at competition (in the picture) he is at around 5% body fat. At such low body fat percentage gym performance is significantly impaired and hormone levels are not healthy. Jason found it caused his blood sugar levels to become erratic and he could not concentrate. Craig explained that he often dehydrates for at least 24 hours prior to a photoshoot/competition. Therefore, this is not what they look like every day. In fact most of the time they are around 10-12% body fat. I spoke to them separately but they both agreed that achieving this look is not constantly sustainable. Craig and Jason also told me how the majority of people in their industries are taking steroids and using various performance enhancers to 1) achieve these physiques and 2) maintain them.
Ask yourself again, is looking like a fitness model maintainable for 99% of the population?
*I have included some more details from the conversations, including tips, daily training and dietary intake at the bottom of this blog post*
This is another friend of mine, Ivan, @littlebigshimmy. He is not fat or overweight but he doesn’t have the stereotypical physique that the average person aspires to. Yet he impresses and inspires me just as much as Craig and Jason. He and other CrossFitters I train with have made me question whether having an idyllic body is important. They have made me realise that what I can do with my body is far more important than what it looks like. Ivan, for example, can perform a 1 handed handstand, bust out muscle ups for fun, and perform overhead squats with his hands together (trust me you need great strength and mobility to do this). He does not want nor need to follow a stringent diet and I got the impression from Craig that he is starting to find the grind of being a fitness model laborious and has even suggested he is considering entering the realm of CrossFit himself! He wants to improve his flexibility and face more physical challenges. It was also interesting to hear that Jason suffered a sciatic injury and since then has placed a large emphasis on mobility within his training. In fact Jason states ”I would certainly pick mobility over aesthetics, if I could choose one.’’
So ask yourself is looking aesthetic important?
Jason and Craig look great but it’s important to note that they are not as their pictures show every day of the week and a lot goes into some of the pictures you see in the media (tanning, waxing, make-up, dehydration, photoshop! Etc). Of course I would be happy to have a physique like these guys BUT it is no longer something I worry about. As with the normal average man I work, and sometimes long hours and weekends. It is not realistic for me to be able train for hours and prep 5-6 meals every day. I have also found out that I am going to be a dad so my mentality and goals have shifted. I want to have a good level of physical fitness; 1) to be a role model to my child, and 2) to be able to play and be physically active with them. As with most peoples goals in life these do not require me to have a chiselled body. However, they do require a level of functional fitness and mobility. The movements I perform at CrossFit will ensure this and will also allow me to face physical challenges and push myself. By doing this my physique should improve BUT that is not my primary focus or what I care about.
Now ask yourself those 3 questions again;
Is obtaining the physique of a fitness model 1) achievable? 2) Maintainable? 3) Important?
In my opinion 1) yes, but it requires discipline, time, and hardwork. 2) No! 3) Not really, unless it is how you earn a living. Don’t put pressure on yourself or allow social media to. Evaluate what is truly important to you. Having the body of a fitness model or a celebrity is not important unless that is your profession and how you obtain an income. However, being physically active, mobile, and trying to be healthy IS important. It reduces your risk of many chronic diseases and will lead to a longer life.
*if you like his blog then please like and or leave a comment at the bottom*
Mobility TIP from Jason
He said many powerlifters, CrossFitters, and body builders he has encountered do not consider mobility and although they look great in pics and videos you do not see how hard they struggle some days. In order to keep training, make progress, and avoid injuries mobility is key. Jason’s biggest TIP is to multitask! For example stretch whilst watching TV, use a golf ball to roll the bottom of your feet whilst your sat down, avoid being in one position (sat or stood) for any prolonged periods. Bottom line, he said, KEEP MOVING!
For those still interested in achieving an aesthetic look like Craig he shared with me an example of one of his average daily workout routines and what he would eat:
Diet: 180g white fish with veg 3 x a day and 180g of chicken with veg 3 x the same day! That’s it! Exciting ay?!
Training that day:
7am – cardio/HIIT session
9am – DT training 110lbs; 12 x DL, 9 x power clean, 6 x jerk press (5 sets)
OH KB lunges
10 press ups (3 sets)
10 x OH front plate raises, 10 x bench press @90kg (4 sets)
12 x rope tricep pulldown, 12 x dumbbell bicep curls (4 sets)
5pm – 20 lengths in the pool, 30 mins run, 60 mins cycle
Jason and Craig are both great guys with a wealth knowledge that share inspirational posts so if you aren’t already, go follow them on Instagram; @coach.jj, and @craig_stephen_31. Also, go check out Jason’s blog www.mygainz.co.uk