People often ask me what I do to stay lean all year around. If you don’t know, I’m not a physique competitor, i.e. I don’t get on stage once a year to compete in a show. Sometimes these competitors are referred to as “fitness models” due to their size and shape, but in reality this is just a category rather than referring to their job/work as a fitness model. The large majority of competitors aren’t working fitness/sports models. Most can’t be as they tend to have “off seasons” meaning they add some body fat with the aim of improving their physique in a calorie surplus over a series of months, which in turn means they aren’t able to work at the drop of a hat as is needed from working fitness/sports models.
As a working fitness model, I have to keep my agent happy (and keep the money coming in!) by being lean and ready to go at a moments notice. For example, on Tuesday I got a text at 10am asking if I could attend a casting between 4.30pm and 5pm the same day in which I would be required to take my top off and the casting director has stipulated (in capitals) in the casting brief “VERY RIPPED GUYS”.
I can’t afford to be out of shape. It would cost me jobs, worse than that, if I go and see a casting director and waste their time because I am out of shape, they won’t call me in again; which could in turn lead to my agent letting me go. In the fitness modelling world where you are auditioning and casting to represent people’s brands, magazines and products with your physique, you have to look like the pictures your agent will send in of you. There’s no point walking in 5kg heavier as you will be different from what the casting director/client is expecting. There is no off-season for working fitness models, unless of course you want to risk missing that one audition you’ve always wanted because it comes around when you’ve let yourself go a bit!
So what do I do to help me stay lean all year around? It’s relatively simple:
- I train hard 5 or 6 times a week. Occasionally twice a day if I do HIIT or abs separately.
- I eat sensibly (trying to stay within my calorie needs) for 30-32 of my 35 meals a week (based on eating 5 meals a day 7 days a week).
- I sleep 7-8hrs every night.
- I use HIIT intervals to help lower my bodyfat when I do feel I’ve let it creep up a little bit.
The HIIT sessions I do vary. I like to mix it up as I do with my resistance training; my theory being that for me, variation is key. My body quickly adapts so I need to change my training to keep it adapting. This “dirty dozen” is just one of my HIIT sessions. The basis being that some research suggests that longer intervals of around 1min are better for fat burning than shorter ones. However, again, I like to mix it up; I use intervals of 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 30 seconds and sometimes up to 5mins.
Give this session a go on the treadmill. If you complete it at a certain speed, say 18kph, the next time try it at 18.5kph, then 19kph. Always ensure you are progressing things whatever you are doing.