GET PHOTO SHOOT READY
My Journey to getting photo shoot ready by JDP Top Trainer Clifford.
It was at the start of May 2018, when I made a decision to ditch the Yum Yums, cut back on the Mcdonalds and get my body lean and athletic, the thought of doing a photo shoot at that point wasn’t even in mind. Sitting at around 20-22% body fat, approximately the average for a UK man, I wasn’t too concerned as I’m someone who prioritises being super strong over being aesthetic. However, summer was already here and with a few holidays planned, I wanted to look my best, afterall I do want to promote a good physique as a fitness expert.
Being a pragmatic and consistent individual by nature, I decided to start making small adjustments without sacrificing too much with the aim of maintaining my strength. And after 5 months of consistent and focused training and nutritional adjustments, I decided that with all this effort it was worth imortalising in a photograph, mainly as evidence so that one day I’ll be that pensioner bragging about my past glories, annoying anyone who’d listen and show off my pictures.
Standing at 6’1, I went from 98kg (215lbs) to a lean and ripped at 89kg (193lbs) with 10% body-fat.
I’ve had several friends ask me what I did and what they could do to get in shape so I decided to let you in on my simple no-nonsense approach in this article. I hope after reading this you’ll feel inspired and possibly take away a few things to help you on your own journey.
What I did for Nutrition
Losing fat, staying fit and keeping healthy are factors largely determined by what you eat. Sorry to burst your bubble, but doing endless high-intensity cardio sessions, trying out a groovy circuit you saw on Instagram plus a thousand crunches isn’t going to cut it! Losing fat without addressing nutrition is like playing Russian Roulette, plain stupid.
My 2 Tenets to Fat Loss and Body-Recomposition:
- Caloric Deficit — To lose fat, I began by being in a caloric deficit. Basically, I ate slightly less than what my Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) was. By being in a caloric deficit my body can ideally tap into that stored fat for the extra energy it needs. Since I was looking to preserve as much of my hard earnt muscle and keep most of my strength, I aimed to slowly lose around 0.5-0.8kg a week. Anything over that rate would have probably resulted in losing muscle. The goal is never to look skeletal at the end of it.
- Protein — I maintained a high protein intake. This was to ensure my body had enough to preserve existing muscle and also prevent muscle breakdown for energy while in a caloric deficit. I stuck to around 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. For me, this came around to 200–220gms of protein a day.
Wait…what about the carbs and fat?
When it came to fats and carbs, it doesn’t really matter. As pointed out earlier, as long as you’re in a consistent caloric deficit, you’ll lose weight, it’s that simple. I’ll have days when my fat intake was higher or days where my carbs intake was higher. Overall I kept my calories in check.
So how did I implement the BIG 2 in my busy schedule and ensure I was getting lean?
- I ensured I had 5 high-protein meals/shakes split evenly throughout the day to total 200-220g which was about 1g per pound of bodyweight. Side note: People with extremely high levels of body fat may need to used lean body weight to calculate from.
- Restricted to having ONLY those 5 high-protein meals/shakes with NO SNACKING in between, even liquid calories counted as a SNACK!
- Replaced foods for the leaner alternative version. I switched to egg whites. Used lemon juice for salad dressing instead of olive oil. Chose Pepsi Max instead of Regular Pepsi. Yes, Pepsi is better than Coke, sorry. Replace full-fat milk with skimmed milk for my shakes.
- Chose leaner cooking methods — Instead of frying, (fried food is super dense with calories) I chose to grill, bake, steam and boil using dried herbs and spices for flavour.
- Portion Control- When I say I ate everything, with nothing off the menu, I really do mean that. The only difference was how much of it I had.
- Daily Morning Weigh-In – This is by far one of the most important aspects of losing fat and getting lean. By measuring your body weight on a daily basis and taking a weekly average you’ll know if you’re on track. Without it, it’s just subjective guesswork. It isn’t ideal if you’re weighing yourself once a week as it leaves you open to random fluctuations in weight caused by a long list of possibilities which may not only mess with your mind but your strategy. I had moments where I’ve weighed in 5lb heavier within a given day. I checked my overall average weight which was still on track so I didn’t have to panic. These fluctuations are mainly due to due to, water and glycogen, due to a change in carb intake. Water, due to hydration status. Water, due to a change in salt intake. Water, due to stress or for women the menstrual cycle. A rolling 5-7day average will tend to flatten out any fluctuations and give you a true picture. With this information, I’d adjusted my nutritional intake. Maybe replace the skimmed milk with water, maybe choose healthy alternatives when I went out to eat. Reduced my portion of rice from 3 scoops to 2, include some extra steps in my daily activities.
What I did for Training
I trained 4 times a week with the goal of maintaining my strength and muscle. That required me to hit each body part at least twice per week with enough volume and intensity to ensure my muscles were continually stimulated to prevent muscle breakdown, as the saying goes what you don’t use your lose. I kept the sessions challenging, as I aimed to increase volume, intensity, weight or a combination of those 3. This is the only way to potential building lean muscle and prevents muscle breakdown as someone natural and while on a caloric deficit.
I followed a split-based resistance training routine spread over 7 days
- Monday — Upper
- Tuesday — Lower Body
- Wednesday — Rest
- Thursday — Upper
- Friday — Lower
- Saturday— Rest
- Sunday — Rest
For cardio, believe it or not, all I did was my mandatory 10-15,000 steps daily. Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t a leisurely stroll, it was fairly vigours with pace. I walked and kept moving with every opportunity. Waiting for the train on the platform? I walked up and down, I’m sure people thought something was wrong with me. Why take the lift when you can use the stairs. Ditch the car and walk to the shops instead, that was me. By being on my feet non-stop, it kept me from having to do boring cardio. That’s a win in my eyes.
However, I must admit, towards the end, about 4 weeks out I had to include a 20-30min cardio session twice a week. As I didn’t want to lower my calorie intake, love food too much, this was a way I could still enjoy some treats to keep my mind from losing it.
The week of the photoshoot
In my final week, ‘peak week’ leading up to the photoshoot I kept everything the same. I continued to train and adjusted my diet, to ensure my average body weight and how I looked in the mirror was what I wanted. It wasn’t until the last 3 days where I switched things up. I’m not really into bodybuilding, so for me trying to manipulate things like sodium and water was a little too much. The only thing I did was eat a ton of carbs as at that point my body was depleted of glycogen. Doing so made me store higher than normal amounts of glycogen. This caused my muscles now fully loaded with glycogen to be very big and full, making my skin to be very tight around the muscle. This made me appear both bigger and leaner at the same time. Winning!!
Want to know how I got on during my shoot? See for yourself!