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How To Build A Mens Health Cover Body…

How To Build A Mens Health Cover Body | LEP Fitness

I remember Mens Health Magazine was one of the first, and best resources that I used to boost my health, and fitness knowledge. Back in the day (man I sound like an old man!), you couldn’t just hop on Google and search for free workouts, or watch Steve Cook videos on Youtube – it wasn’t available! Instead, you had to pick up magazines such as Mens Health, Muscle & Fitness, and Flex Magazine. 

Mens Health Magazine…

Mens Health Magazine | how to build a cover model body

Mens Health was always my preferred magazine choice, because I aspired to look more like a natural fitness model (lean and athletic), instead of being a jacked up muscle model (like in Muscle & Fitness) or a bodybuilder (like in Flex Magazine). 

Every month I bought a copy of Mens Health. I would read it from cover to cover (except the protein shake adverts, and fashion section at the back! lol). I was very interested in learning as much as I could…

I would copy workouts such as ‘6 minute abs’ and follow the latest diet plan that was advertised. It was great, and helped me to build the foundations of my physique, and also inadvertently lead my down my career path of owing my own personal training business, called LEP Fitness, which is based in Sheffield. I have a lot to be grateful for thanks to Mens Health!

How To Build A Mens Health Cover Body…

How To Build A Mens Health Cover Body | by LEP Fitness

In this post I thought it would be cool to write about How To Build A Mens Health Cover Body – I think this is the perfect physique, and something which lots of guys aspire to have. I think if you also asked most women, what they would prefer in a man? i.e. a lean and fit body, or a bulky, veiny, muscular physique… lots would opt for the more natural, cover model body. 

Most People Can Get A Mens Health Body 

Also, the good news is that the Mens Health look is very achievable for most guys. Although it depends on your starting point and genetics, I’d say that most guys could probably achieve a lean athletic beach body in 1-2 years. Let’s dive into how you can achieve this look…

Getting Fit & Lean

The first, and most important starting point is that you need to get fit and lean. The heavier you are, and the more fat that you are carrying, the more you should focus on fat loss, and the longer it’s going to take you. You only see your abs when you’re below 15% body fat, but to look extra lean you need to be closer to 8-10%. To look like a Mens Health cover model you need to be around 8-10% body fat.

Here’s a good example of what certain body fat percentages look like…

Where do you currently sit on the spectrum? 

The higher your body fat, the longer it’s going to take. For example if you’re currently 25-35% body fat, it could take you 2 years of hard work. However if you’re 15-20%, it may only take 3-6 months. It’s important that you work on getting lean and boosting fitness, heres how you can do this…

#1 Weight Training 

Weight Training to get a Mens Health Body | LEP Fitness

In order to have muscles, and build a lean athletic beach body, you’ve got to lift weights and get strong. Muscle will improve your body shape, and also help you to burn calories. I’d recommend doing weight training at least 3x per week, ideally 5x if you can. 

If you’re comfortable, and have some decent gym experience i.e. are familiar with exercises such as squats, bench press, pull ups, deadlifts, military presses, etc – then go for it alone. If however, you are new to weight training, then I’d recommend hiring a private personal trainer – so that they can teach you how to execute exercises correctly, and provide you with some accountability. 

In terms of the best exercises to do? I’d recommend choosing compound exercises. A compound exercise is one that hits multiple muscle groups all at once, for example…

  • Bench press – targets the chest, shoulders, triceps 
  • Squat – thighs, glutes, hamstrings, core, back
  • Deadlift – thighs, glutes, abs, upper back, lower back, traps
  • Pull ups – back, biceps, core 
  • Bulgarian Squats – thighs, glutes, hamstrings

Weekly Training Split

If you’re a beginner, or even an intermediate lifter I would recommend doing full body workouts, for example…

  • Monday – Full Body Workout 1
  • Tuesday – Cardio 1 + ABS
  • Wednesday – Full Body Workout 2
  • Thursday – rest 
  • Friday – Full Body Workout 3
  • Saturday – Cardio 2 + ABS
  • Sunday – rest 

So you’ll do 5 workouts per week (3 weights and 2 cardio sessions).

Mens Health Weight Training Program

Workout 1

  • Deadlift – 4 sets x 10-15 reps
  • Squat – 4 sets x 10-15 reps
  • Bench Press – 4 sets x 10-15 reps

Workout 2

  • Bulgarian squat – 4 sets x 15-20 reps (each leg)
  • Incline DB press – 4 sets x 8-12 reps
  • Incline DB row – 4 sets x 10-15 reps

Workout 3

  • Sumo deadlift – 4 sets x 10-15 reps
  • Close grip bench press – 4 sets x 6-10 reps
  • Sumo DB squat – 4 sets x 15-20 reps

Cardio Workouts

You can do either HIIT training or LISS cardio – read more about each one here. I like to do a mixture of both HIIT and LISS, all in one session. For example…

10 mins of HIIT on a rowing machine – 20s rowing as fast as I can (100% effort) followed by 40s slow rowing 50% effort. I’ll do this for 10 mins. 

40 mins LISS on a cross trainer – where I work at 50% of my maximum heart rate and stay at a steady pace throughout. To figure out your maximum heart rate, do this sum… 220 – your age = maximum heart rate. So say you are 30 years old… that means 220 – 30 (190 MHR) so 50% effort would mean trying to keep your heart rate at around 95 beats per minute. 

Ab workouts…

After your cardio session, I’d recommend choosing 2-3 different ab exercises and doing 20-30 reps of each exercise. Here are 8 great exercises for abs…

Do I have to train at the gym to get a Mens Health Body? 

In short, NO you don’t, however I would say it’s ideal training at a gym, and you have a much greater chance of success – due to all of the weights machines, and facilities which are optimal for improving your fitness, building muscle and losing body fat. 

The other option is to train at home, you can do things like resistance band training, go for runs (hill sprints are great), long walks (instead of LISS training). There are also lots of bodyweight exercises which you can do: push ups, sit ups, crunches, lunges, squats, planks, mountain climbers, high knees, burpees – and many more! 

If I’m being honest though you are better off at a gym! 

Mens Health Cover Body Diet

Mens Health Cover Body Diet

This part of the puzzle is HUGE and one that lots of people struggle with. In order to get lean, lose weight, and build muscle – you need to eat well. You need to create a calorie deficit, burning more calories than you consume – this is how fat loss occurs. 

Hig Protein Diet 

As well as reducing calories, you also need to up your protein intake, ideally eating a good serving of protein (40-50g) at 4 separate times of the day e.g. 

  • Breakfast – 40-50g protein 
  • Lunch – 40-50g protein 
  • Snack – 40-50g protein 
  • Dinner – 40-50g protein 

There are lots of ways to increase your protein intake, but the main way to eat enough protein – is to consume plenty of meat and fish. Foods such as:

  • Chicken 
  • Turkey 
  • Steak 
  • Mince
  • Cod
  • Tuna
  • Salmon 

Per 100g of the foods mentioned above equates to around 20g of protein. So you’re looking to consume around 200g of meat/fish at least 2-3x per day. You could also add in a protein shake, I like to have a Whey Protein Smoothie for breakfast, here’s what I do…

Blend together: 300ml unsweetened almond milk, 60g whey protein (chocolate flavour), 1 x banana, 10g of honey, and 50g of dairy free ice cream. It tastes absolutely amazing! 

Assessing Your Progress 

Along they way it’s important to assess whether you’re on track, you can do this by…

Fitness Testing – do a fitness test at the beginning of your journey, and then every 4 weeks – do it again – have you improved? 

Strength Testing – record your workouts each session, and aim to beat the previous workout. Whether it’s one extra rep, or a heavier weight… aim to constantly improve.

Weight – take your body weight each day, then at the end of the week, figure out your average weight for the week. Are you heading in the right direction? If your weight has stalled or gone up, it’s likely that you’re not creating enough of a calorie deficit. 

Pictures – take progress pictures every 4 weeks, see how your body is changing, and then make further improvements where possible. 

Body Fat – you could hire a personal trainer to take your body fat percentage, or buy your own body fat callipers online. 

Measurements – use a tape measure, and take the circumference of your arms, legs, waist, chest. Every 1-2 weeks retake them. Ideally your muscle size will be going up (chest, arms, legs), whilst your waist size goes down.

Thanks for reading,

how to get a Mens Health body | by LEP Fitness | Sheffield personal trainers

Nick 🙂