New Year. New Me. Update: Week 15

A further update on my New Year. New Me. campaign.

I’ll be honest, it hasn’t been a great week for my 2017 fitness campaign. Full disclosure – I haven’t been to the gym once.

I’ve got lots of excuses. I’ll try not to bore you with them.

Monday 10 April 2017

  • Today’s question: What do you do if you’re wanting to really make your abs pop?
  • It’s often a fine balance — you want to stay lean but retain muscle, but no matter how hard you work in the gym you can’t seem to get that ripped and cut look that screams “washboard stomach”.
  • The starting point is probably to be a bit realistic. Some people are genetically blessed to be able to achieve this look without much effort — they’re freaks. When you’re looking at fitness models on the cover of Men’s Health, these are professionals who have been working towards achieving a certain look for that photo shoot — it’s not something that they’re going to be able to maintain once the photo shoot is done. Of course there’s also people juiced up on a cocktail of steroids — you should not be attracted to the short term gains that these people are making, remember the long-term damage that they are doing to their bodies.
  • So you need to set goals that are realistic for you. Measure yourself against these personal and realistic goals — not a digitally enhanced photo of a model that you’ve seen in a magazine.
  • If you’re wanting to change the way that your abs look, the obvious place to start is the gym. Don’t waste your time doing sit-ups. Sit-ups are effective for showing everyone how amazing your abs are — they won’t actually help you get amazing abs. Any general weight-based resistance training programme will be sufficiently working your core strength in order to ensure that your abs are sufficiently developed. Add in some interval or circuit-based training and you’ll be providing your body with a sufficient cardio workout to help drop any excess weight (you need to be lean in order for your abs to be prominently visible).
  • Diet is really the key — if having ripped abs is your goal then you need to find a diet that works for you, but it has to help you to get and stay lean. In general, a high protein/low carb diet seems to be the most effective way to do this (when combined with the right resistance training programme). Small meals 4–5 times per day, throw in a cheat meal (ie. rice or rice noodles) every now and then to shock your body to better results. Avoid processed carbohydrates or anything high in gluten. Also avoid sugars or anything that’s going to spike your insulin (like Milk, Yoghurt or Fruit Juice). If you want to eat fruit go for berries post-training (good anti-oxidants and post-training your body will welcome the sugar rush).
  • The other thing that can potentially play apart is Cortisol levels. High levels of Cortisol has been shown to contribute to the body bloating around the stomach. The general view is that stress and artificial stimulants are likely to spike your Cortisol levels. So avoiding coffee can help here.
  • If you get your diet and exercise regime right you’ll ensure that you have a solid base to achieve your goals. However if you’re preparing for a photo shoot, a big party or a romantic mini-break with someone your keen to impress, then you could also add in some supplements to make sure that you make the best impression possible.
  • A combination that I’ve found effective is a rotation (1 week on each) of the following troika:
  • - Yohimbine (thermogenic to help get lean)
    - Holy Basil (helps manage Cortisol levels)
    - Tribulus (thermogenic to help get lean)
  • Looking for some high protein snacks to keep you going between meals? Try the following: Protein Shake; Bounce Almond Protein Ball; Handful of Nuts; Chicken salad (that you’ve made at home); Hummus with veg.
  • Having ripped, defined abs is a difficult look to achieve but even more difficult to maintain. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, but it’s nice to know that you can do it if you want to.


Tuesday 11 April 2017

  • Why is Quinoa a big deal?
  • Quinoa (pronounced “keenwa” not “kwinoa” — so embarrassed when that was pointed out to me…) is a grain-like seed but as opposed to being a cereal it’s more closely related to spinach.
  • What’s good about it? It contains amino acids such as lysine as well as calcium, phosphorus and iron.
  • The good news is that in cooking you can use it as a substitute for rice or couscous.
  • You won’t often hear me say this, but quinoa is effectively a “good carb”. Why? high in essential nutrients, good fibre content and helps regulate insulin.
  • As a complex carbohydrate, quinoa can help stabilise glucose levels and minimise spikes (or sustained elevation) in the release of insulin.
  • Google will deliver you a whole heap of recipes if you fancy cooking it, alternatively Pod offer a great quinoa superfood pot with either blackberries or mango.
  • Delicious!


Wednesday 12 April 2017

  • Okay, there’s no denying it — we are fast approaching summer.
  • Is this the time to bulk up? Carb-load and build size in the vain hope that when the warmer weather comes you’ll magically “shred” the excess to reveal a lean and strong physique for summer?
  • Not really, that’s kind of old-school thinking.
  • While it’s certainly sensible to cycle your routines and regularly shock the body into adapting to changes in diet or training, strict “primal” rules (“it’s winter therefore man is genetically designed to eat lard and hybernate”) is a bit of a fallacy.
  • If you want to try something new, then try mixing up your diet with some seasonal goodness — venison is readily available as are many of the game birds. Why not try a pheasant for your sunday roast? The other day I ate a live shrimp… now that’s primal!

Aspiration versus reality

Thursday 13 April 2017

  • Easter can be a bit of challenging time diet-wise (everyone loves a Lindt bunny…), but things can easily get out of hand.
  • For me the last few weeks seem to have been a booze-fuelled frenzy of weddings and bad food: Chocolate for breakfast? Why not! Fried rice for lunch? Delicious! Five slices of cake? It would be rude not to!
  • The key thing is not to panic or beat yourself up too much — you’re allowed a treat everyone now and then.
  • Enjoy the holiday season and then use a post-Easter focus to get back on to the regime, set yourself some goals and get stuck in.
  • Mine are:
  • Eat more vegetables
  • Eat less cheese
  • Drink more water
  • Eat out less
  • Stop buying cucumbers and then throwing them away (I need to accept that I just don’t like them)
  • Drink less coffee
  • Drink less alcohol
  • Avoid dodgy tan lines


Friday 14 April 2017

  • If you are looking to change the shape of your body, and become lean and strong then The Water Polo Workout is for you.
  • After years of clinical research and extensive field trials, it’s clear that by simply joining a gay water polo team you will soon achieve your aims.
  • The key features of The Gay Water Polo Workout:
  1. Interval training: Water polo requires a lot of swimming, but it’s not endless laps of the pool — it’s short sprints with quick recovery, classic interval training that has been widely recognised as an effective fat-burning exercise;
  2. Legs: One of the core techniques learnt in water polo is the egg-beater kick, and water polo training generally involves working the leg muscles intensely. As the largest muscle group in the body, by working your legs hard you will boost your testosterone and natural growth hormones — stimulating your body’s growth and development;
  3. Diet: To perform at your peak you need to be eating the right foods at the right times. Diet regimes will be regular conversation topics with your team-mates, and having to get naked in front of a changing room full of gay men twice a week is a pretty good incentive to sharpen up your diet;
  4. Man-scaping: Water polo trunks do not leave much to the imagination. You are going to want to give yourself a clean work-surface — get your razor ready.

The Gay Water Polo Workout. What are you waiting for?

Read more from Gareth Johnson