These ‘challenge’ articles were originally run on our sister site FitnessBeans, but have been ported over into our new fitness section as I believe they offer real, no holds barred advice for men who really want to make a change to their body shape.
The images you will see throughout the series are all real, with no touch-ups, photoshopping etc. although the majority of them were taken a couple of months ago now.
A mini-series consisting of six articles, we are going to be running them all back-to-back between Wednesday and Friday this week, so you can see the entire transformation I made throughout the 12 week project, over the next three days.
For those of you who don’t currently know me, my name is Ben and I am the founder and editor-in-chief of FashionBeans. I was approached recently by supplement giants Maximuscle to see whether one of the members of our team would be willing to take part in a ‘Maximuscle Blogger Challenge’. The idea behind the project was for Maximuscle to get in touch with prominent voices within the men’s fashion/fitness/lifestyle community, to see if they could help the individual in question hit their health and fitness goals over a 12 week period.
You may have seen similar ‘celebrity’ challenges completed on well known/respected publications such as Men’s Health. The idea is similar; over 12 weeks the Maximuscle team help tailor your diet, and provide you with necessary supplements and training advice to see if you can achieve that aspirational fitness goal you have always been working towards (or at least trying to).
However, this is where the project differs – the guys chosen by Maximuscle are real men, with real jobs and outside commitments, who don’t have the luxury of being able to take days off work or pay a celebrity personal trainer to knock them into shape. The only thing we have in common is that we have a current voice within the men’s lifestyle and/or fitness blogosphere.
Needless to say, opportunities like this don’t come around often. I have always had an interest in health and fitness – this website is dedicated to fashion after all, and it is plays such a huge part in looking good in your clothing on a daily basis – so I thought I would lead by example and dedicate the next 12 weeks trying to get into the best shape of my life. I didn’t want to delegate or shy away from the responsibility, because I wanted to take the project seriously. And if you can’t rely on yourself, then who can you rely on?
So what was my challenge? What would constitute the ‘best shape of my life’? After careful consideration, I decided to go for what most young males would choose: lean, muscular and ‘cut’. This isn’t just about having ‘ripped abs’ or the vanity that comes with it, I wanted to see whether it was possible for the everyday male to get into what I would describe as ‘cover model shape’ – a target that is both aspirational but (hopefully) achievable for those with little free time.
I am not one to harp on about myself so I will keep this short and sweet – but it will play a part in the success of the overall project. I am a 29 year old male, who owns his own online publishing company that currently consists of FitnessBeans (currently undergoing a change to a supplements price comparison website) and FashionBeans. I am solely responsible for the majority of the daily running of both sites and, because they are literally my pride and joy, I often find myself working 10+ hour days, 6 days a week. It is a labour of love, of course, but it means that I have less free time than the majority of people I know.
However, I make room for 4 gym sessions a week without fail, as it is important for me to stay in half decent shape. By nature I am somewhere between an ectomorph and mesomorph, so my weight has never really been an issue since I was about 17 and had a nice growth spurt that ‘leaned me up’.
Within those 4 sessions I only focus on lifting weights in a 4 day split, so this means no cardio. However, I used to play basketball very regularly up until the end of last year (when my ankles told me enough), which obviously provided cardio naturally.
Before we started the project, my dedicated Maximuscle nutritionist, Gareth, told me it would be good to have a collection of base measurements to judge the progress I make. Not only that, they should also help to keep me motivated if I can see myself progressing each week.
These were pretty standard and consisted of: girth measurements, body fat percentage, weight, height and (gasp) a photograph of my body. As you can imagine, this type of thing is quite personal but I wanted this project to be as relatable to the audience as possible. So without further ado…
* All measurements below are correct as of Monday 24th September 2012.
Height: 6″ 0
Weight: 84kg (185 lbs)
Initial Girth Measurements (In Inches)
Chest – Across Sternum: 44.5
Waist – Narrowest circumference: 32.5
Hip – Around The Buttocks: 34.5
Upper Arm – Mid point, Untensed: 14
Thigh – Mid Point, Untensed: 22
Calf – Largest Point: 15
Body fat was measured at home using calipers and a 4 site skinfold technique that is commonly used:
1) Biceps - In a plane along the arm over the front of the bicep muscle, mid way between the elbow and shoulder joints.
2) Triceps - A vertical fold on the back of the upper arm over the tricep muscle.
3) Subscapular - A diagonal fold about 1-2cm below the scapular (shoulder blade), with the line drawn from the shoulder through the apex of the scapular.
4) Supra Iliac - A diagonal fold 2-3cm above and inwards from the iliac crest (hip bone).
1) Biceps: 6mm
2) Triceps: 4mm
3) Subscapular: 8mm
4) Supra Iliac 7mm
Body Fat: 10.7%
According to the calipers’ accompanying chart, this placed me at around 10.7% overall body fat. It is derived from the total mm measured and your gender/age.
Of course, this wasn’t professionally measured, so I wouldn’t read too much into it. I will however be keeping this EXACT same method consistent throughout the project, so it will still hold weight when it comes to determining progress.
Of course, it is natural to want to preface any photo of this nature with a disclaimer (especially on the Internet for the world to see), but below you will find front facing and side-on shots from my project starting point.
This is probably slightly higher than my usual weight and body shape, due to the fact that before this project I was trying to pack on some size in preparation for a ‘cut’. I had also known about this project for well over a month, so needless to say I had been eating whatever the hell I fancied in a mindset of “you better enjoy this now because you won’t be having it again for 12 weeks!”
I must also state that: I might be slightly tanned as I have come back of holiday a few weeks prior to this, I AM tensing my stomach because I assume for all future pictures I will be doing the same and this project is going to be as realistic as possible. I didn’t want it to be one of those ridiculous ‘before’ and ‘after’ comparisons where I pushed my belly out on the first and photo-shopped the second:
All future photos (to be taken end of week 4, 8 and 12) will try to be as consistent with the timing, position and lighting as possible for comparison. Unfortunately we didn’t have the greatest camera available at the time we needed it (hence the blue lighting/fade) but moving forward they will hopefully get better as we plan in advance.
So there we have it, a bit about myself and the project I embarked on just over a week ago. Tomorrow we will be looking at just how the hell I am going to achieve this through diet alone and the supplements I have kindly been provided by Maximuscle.
Please check back here tomorrow, and if you have ANY questions about me, the project or want to get involved yourself, just leave a note in the comments section and I will reply to all of you personally…