Lloyd, James, Tom and I created LDNMuscle as a platform to answer the questions we were regularly getting answered by work colleagues, friends, family and people in the gym. Our mission (and ethos) was to prevent people making the same mistakes we did, such as paying over the odds for protein or miracle pills in a shiny tub promoted by an enhanced 105kg monster at 5% body fat. Or reducing carbohydrates massively as one of these superhuman physiques attributed their clean eating and keto to their massive, vascular bodies and insane strength.
LDNMuscle is about cutting the crap, highlighting the lies and BS in the fitness industry and preventing people being taken in by dubious marketing and false advertisements. We promote sustainable, realistic and effective training and nutrition- and expose what is actually possible drug free. We do this to stop you wasting your money and becoming demoralised as people glide past you in a matter of months and compete in untested/very poorly tested shows after putting on 25lbs of lean muscle in a year- then claiming to be a natural competitor in order to protect their sponsorship.
To help emphasise the most common mistakes made by men looking to improve their physiques we have enlisted the help of some chaps who have changed their physique and lifestyle successfully, alongside their impressive and inspirational transformation photos. They will list their biggest initial mistakes in regards to training and nutrition, and then their best pieces of advice going forwards; interesting for any new, intermediate or experienced trainer to read and consider.
Name: Mark Gomez
Twitter Account: @_markgomez
Short Term Goals: To reduce bodyfat from 21% to 10%
Long Term Goals: To improve overall health, fitness and well-being.
Favourite LDNM Guides Used: LDNM Cutting Guide and the Ultimate Workout Bundle.
Supplements Used: Whey Protein, Creatine Monohydrate, Mega Green Tea Extract, Multivit, Omega 3, L Carnitine, BCAA, ZMA
Supplements Honestly Recommended: Whey Protein, Creatine Monohydrate, BCAA
Thinking a bulk was a good excuse to eat literally anything to gain weight, I weighed 80kg 21%bf before deciding to do the Cutting Guide. I didn’t really have a clue about macros and meal timings and learned it’s not all about chicken, broccoli and sweet potato. One bad meal isn’t going to make you fat, just like one healthy meal isn’t going to make you look lean. If you feel like having some chocolate or a burger, have it, just not everyday, and fit it into your macros.
Aspiring to look like the ‘athletes’ on popular bodybuilding magazines, no end of food/supplements/training will get you that look naturally. Fact. Especially working a 9-5 desk job!
I didn’t used to do any cardio because the thought of pounding the treadmill for 45 mins was brain numbing, enter HIIT for 15-20 mins, perfect if you’re short on time.
Loading the bar up but doing partial reps, no. Form and tempo over weight and ego.
Best Pieces of Advice:
Counting macros really puts into perspective how much you think your daily intake of food should be. On The Cutting Guide I started counting macros for a few months, I set my daily macros to 2000, but I found after breakfast I had already consumed 1000 so adjusted accordingly to 2500 and had about 5-6 meals a day. I’m not so strict now so I don’t weigh each scoop of mash or spoon of rice or bowl of pasta.
Don’t neglect Carbs and Healthy Fats (Coconut Oil, Cashew/Peanut Butters). They are not the enemy, you need the energy. Double Espresso with Coconut Oil is a cheaper alternative to the pre-workouts on the market.
When you’ve had that day/night from hell and don’t want to train, GO! It will make you feel better.
Mix up the LISS and HIIT. Treadmill pushes are the closest I’ve come to blowing chunks but held it all down.
Consistency is key. I train in the gym at work during my lunch break, 45 mins a time, 3-4 times a week, less if I have a busy work schedule/meetings and I don’t train at weekends as this is family time.
Once it becomes a habit, its no longer a chore – Mark Gomez.
Name: Harry Crooke
Twitter Account: @hazcrooke
Short Term Goals: To continue with trying to increase muscle mass over the next couple of months by using the Bulking Bible which I’ve been following (loosely admittedly) since October. To continue enjoying my training and making sure I don’t see training as a chore therefore meaning I’m not putting 100% effort in.
Long Term Goals: Once mid January comes round I will switch again to The Cutting Guide to see if I can improve on the end result of last years cut and make sure I put in a good 4-5 months of hard, fully committed training so that not only am I ready for the summer & Ibiza but also in the best possible shape for my football trials once again taking place in late August/early September. Looking further than that I’d like to just improve everything all round, especially my chest which I feel is my definite weakness (perhaps due to restrictions I’ve found with my disability doing chest work, however I’ve recently found certain chest exercises that work for me so hopefully will start to see improvements in that area!)
Favourite LDNM Guides Used:
- The LDNM Cutting Guide, the best £85 I’ve ever spent!
Real Nutrition Co. 100% Whey Protein (quite pricy but tastes good and comes in handy individual sachets)
Genetic Supplements BioWhey (One of the best I’ve had)
Genetic Supplements Sustain
Genetic Supplements White Chocolate Casein (great in LDNM Porridge!)
Muscle Mousse (Butterscotch easily the best, reminds me of being 8 and eating Angel Delight!
MyProtein Instant Oats
Supplements Honestly Recommended:
Genetic Supplements BioWhey
Genetic Supplements Sustain
I think my biggest mistake here was just as a kid/teenager I was naive and just ate anything I wanted, when I wanted and thinking I wouldn’t get fat especially if I did the odd bit of exercise here and there. Then after seeing pictures of me at 15stone aged 19, I tried losing weight (before finding LDNMuscle) I tried the old myth of a no carb diet, needless to say after a fortnight I crashed and ending up binging and realised that in no way is that a sustainable way to live!
Like most, when I started training I over trained a lot! I used to think if I had a day or two off the gym I’d ruin my progress when in fact the opposite can happen as I’d get tired and my sessions would lack purpose! Secondly, the lack of knowledge in the gym, I used to literally make exercises up I think!
Best Pieces of Advice:
For me the biggest thing that The Cutting Guide taught me was not only what to eat but when to eat it and after that I started seeing food as fuel as oppose to just eating for the sake of it. Also I was introduced into the world of macros, prepping meals and Tupperware! For me, having meals prepped and knowing I don’t need to cook when I get home from work or the gym when I’m tired and would before probably have reached for the quick easy junk food is a lifesaver really!
Definitely the fact that everyone’s different, it’s about finding what exercises work best for me as an individual. Also exercises that are enjoyable but also push me and help me make progressions are vitally important. At the end of the day if my training is enjoyable and look forward to every session then that can only improve my chances of progressing!
Name: Alfie John Lucas
Twitter Account: @thealfiejohn
Short Term Goals: the original short-term goal was to get in a better shape for my lads holiday back in June.
Long Term Goals: to get in the best shape ever and to maintain my healthy lifestyle to become healthier, stronger and fitter.
Favourite LDNM Guides Used: The LDNM Cutting Guide
Supplements Used: genetic supplements bio whey, zma, sustain and bcaas
Supplements Honestly Recommended: creatine and bio whey
When it came to nutrition I always tracked my calories but I did not know about macros so I ate a lot of carbohydrates and never enough protein. I was tracking the wrong numbers and my calorie intake was very high for someone trying to lose weight.
To lose weight I always thought you had to do hours of cardio I did not know about HIIT and the fact you needed to still do weights. When it came to weights I always done the same sets and rep range every work out was 5 sets of 5 reps I never changed my routine so week after week I was always doing the same which made it very boring for me.
Best Pieces of Advice:
To eat carbohydrates at the right time of the day. As I have a physical job I need my energy from breakfast and must not to eat all my calculated macros before I train. I feel that the most important thing about nutrition is how to correctly track my macros.
My training advice has come with my one on one training sessions with Max Bridger he has really helped with my form in weight training.
Name: Ben Malka
Twitter Account: @bmalka1
Short Term Goals: My plan was to just be as comfortable as possible in my own skin and get to a “happy” weight
Long Term Goals: To maintain what I have achieved and take into consideration better technique as well as seeing how far I can push myself.
Favourite LDNM Guides: The LDNM Cutting Guide
Supplements Used: MyProtein Impact Whey, Omega 3-6-9, Vitamin C and Daily Vitamins
Supplements Honestly Recommend: Whey Protein and Daily Vitamin
I decided to jump into a bulk not knowing about reverse dieting and I saw my weight balloon by 8kg in 8 weeks. I then done some research and realized I had ruined months of progress to then be back to the beginning. Lesson is if you have been in a cut, increase calories slowly over a period of weeks.
Best Pieces of Advice:
Macros. They are a wonderful thing which is the meaning of “moderation”. Learn about them, find you calorie limit for your build and you can eat what you want as long as “it fits your macros”.
My training advice to anyone would be to mix things up do not get stuck in the motion. Challenge yourself, use the internet to find new variations and build your core! It will be the missing piece of the puzzle in terms of lifting.
Name: Dave Marsh
Twitter Account: @davedready
Short Term Goals: To try and achieve and maintain a lean, muscular physique, honestly and with hard work , but also trying to stay as healthy as possible.
Long Term Goals: Having been overweight in my teens, and never really gaining my passion for training and nutrition until I was heading for 30, I wish for my future years to be as good as possible. I know the look I have always strived to achieve, and its not been until I discovered LDNM’s Training Guides that I have come anywhere near to it. I prefer the leaner look and love the dedication and detail that is needed to try and get there, with both nutrition and training, and hope to build on the knowledge I have gained so far. Working shift work requires that both food and gym need to be planned as much as possible, and I seem to work well with this routine. I’m aiming for longevity, and trying to do it by looking as awesome as possible along the way.
Favourite LDNM Guides Used:
Bio Whey, Creatine, Vit D,Multi Vit, Probiotic, Green Tea (All from Genetic Supplements. Advanced Oats, Omega 3, ZMA (The Protein Works), Dextrose (Myprotein) and when I feel I need it – Optimum Nutrition’s PRE Platinum.
Supplements Honestly Recommended:
Bio Whey, Creatine, Probiotic, Omega 3, ZMA
It wasn’t until I started my current job that I started to take my nutrition seriously. During my teens and my early to my late 20’s my diet was pretty appalling. I would think nothing of stopping at the late garage and buying a load of crap and then munching it all right before bed. Food was just meant to taste nice, I never concerned myself with nutritional value or bothered with any kind of macro nutrient consideration. But when I changed jobs i saw there was always lots of bad food around, all the things that you know aren’t good, and to see a lot of my colleagues eating this food and not exactly looking that great, I decided that wasn’t going to be me. I always swore i would never be one of those people who were religiously strict with their food, however, I now am.
Spending years ‘going through the motions’. Not really setting any goals or ever sticking to a workout and giving it the consistency required to gain any kind of results. Just doing the same old exercises, the same rep ranges and never concentrating on the things that matter like tempo and form. I would always keep a log of my training and always try to improve but it wasn’t until I got my nutrition on track that the real results came. I was always trying to gain as much knowledge as possible and trying as many new things as possible, both in the gym, and in the kitchen, but never really getting it right. A few times I have tried to ‘bulk up’ and just ended up gaining fat, but not always having the right guidance to know what to do from there. Not any more…
Best Pieces of Advice:
Even with much ridiculing and commenting at work, not to mention the weird stares at my meals, I have now, more than ever, got my nutrition down to a tea. I still have my treats and cravings as anyone does, and I do indulge when I feel its right to do so. So if I’m craving a pizza, I’ll set a day to have one. Or even better, make my own. I use MyFitnessPal every single day, and find that this is an essential tool for me to get my nutrition as spot on as I can. I love doing my food prep, and it really does pay off. Even though after a 12 hour shift, the last thing i want to be doing is cooking a load of chicken, however, needs must. I try not to rely on supplements for food too much but if I need to get some extra protein in then i will have a shake.
Prep your food a couple of days in advance, try using an app like the one I use to get an idea of what you are consuming. I think of food as fuel, always looking at it as either a protein, carbohydrate or fat, and that works for me. But it takes time to find what works, so dont expect any results to come immediately, just stick with it. Think about what you are doing for the day, when you are training, and try and base your food intake around that. If you feel sluggish, or tired, or notice you are gaining a bit of bodyfat, make some adjustments to your macros. I rarely weigh myself and just go by how I feel, how my clothes fit and what I see in the mirror. Nothing comes in a couple of weeks, and most normal people don’t have time to be able to train twice a day or get as much sleep as required, but do the best you can, be accountable, and the results will follow.
Get a goal and stick to it as consistently as possible. We all have our off days/weeks. Life gets in the way with work, family, children and many other reasons. But by using a plan that you know works, its effectively like having a personal trainer who sets out each session for you. Its just up to you to put the work in. Try to mix things up, different exercises, rep ranges, rest periods, weights etc, but the key thing is consistency. Dont worry about what others are doing in the gym, i certainly dont. i always use a book to log my workouts, And i always know what workout I will be doing before i even enter the gym. Try and adapt a workout or exercise if a piece of equipment is being used, but get it done and do it as best you possibly can that day. Some days go better than others, when that happens i always think what could have been a factor in that, what have I eaten? Did i sleep ok? If you miss a workout, its gone, just carry on and train harder the next session. And all the support you need is simply a tweet away.
Name: Jamie McLean
Twitter Account: @jprmclean
Short Term Goals: At the moment I am trying to add some muscle mass whilst gradually adding calories and reintroducing my body to a larger amount of carbohydrates.
Long Term Goals: Being lean is always my main priority, so I would eventually like to get to a low body fat percentage whilst holding as much muscle mass as possible.
Favourite LDNM Guides Used: Definitely The Cutting Guide which got me to a lower body fat percentage than I’d ever been before and taught me a lot about nutrition and exercise which focused on losing body fat and more importantly, maintaining those losses.
Supplements Used: I’m a big supplement guy and like to try as much as possible, not because I think they’re miracle cures, but because the gym is a big part of my life and I see supplements as additions to the hobby. Some of what I’ve tried, aside from the obvious proteins and creatines are ZMA, CLA, BCAAS, L-Glutamine etc.
Supplements Honestly Recommended: Personally I feel a protein powder of some sort is essential, again not because they work miracles, but for me they are an easy and essential way to hit my daily protein macros. As well as creatine, I would definitely recommend giving ZMA and L-Carnitine a go, especially when cutting.
Cutting too quickly. Last year I went from bulk to cut in literally a week and dropped around 1000 calories straight away from my diet. Whilst I saw immediate results, they were not sustainable as I had to continually drop calories until they became stupidly low. A gradual drop in calories and carbohydrates will see not only better, but more sustainable results.
Not training in accordance with my goals. There were times when cutting where I got frustrated with my lowering strength and spent weeks trying to improve it – at the end of the day if you are in a calorie deficit the likelihood is you are not going to get stronger, something I refused to accept!
Best Pieces of Advice:
Track macros to the best of your ability. For a while now I’ve gone by the mind-set that every day I will try and hit my macros as accurately as I can, but I refuse to avoid social situations etc that would potentially hinder them. Being a university student, hitting my macros to the gram every day would mean missing out on a large chunk of university life, therefore I take each day as it comes and that means sometimes I hit my macros perfectly and other days I might be slightly off, but tomorrow is a new day.
Enjoy the gym. Whilst the gym is meant to be challenging and to make the bodily improvements we want it involves hard work, I am of the opinion that at the end of the day the gym is meant to be fun. So whilst it is great to follow routines and try new things, if there are exercises you particularly enjoy just do them!
These five lovely chaps have been kind enough to divulge their biggest mistakes and best advice going forwards, from which I am going to summarise the key points and justify their points below:
Counting your macros is necessary to make optimal progress– and of even more importance if you want to compete in a fitness show, or even make sustainable progress. Simply guessing how much of what foods you need, or ‘eating clean’, means you will almost definitely not be getting the right amount of foods at the right time of day- ‘learning your body’ is achieved by tracking the foods, calories and macros you eat.
Sustainability and moderation; include carbohydrates and your favourite foods within your daily diet- don’t binge on massive cheat days or weekends. The idea of eating ‘bad foods’ every day and making progress is unfathomable to some, as is not having cheat meals, or breaking from your diet. If you count macros, and include the proper amount of carbohydrates required for your goal and your favourite foods (in moderation) within these limits, your diet will increasingly become a habit and a lifestyle- not a restrictive regime you can only stick to 75% of the time.
Don’t guess bulk. Again this comes back to tracking your calories and macros. Slowly increase these, monitoring your body composition correctly to allow a proper decision on whether to up them further, or maintain/lower them (or one of them). Simply eating more will not facilitate an effective bulk, it should be thought out and progressive- and not simply eating whatever you want, especially immediately after a cutting phase.
Try not to compare yourself to people you see in the magazines or movies and competitors in untested physique competitions. These images are almost always subjected to rigorous photoshop, and many of the models and ‘pros’ are enhanced. Again most of these people will not have a full time job, or as many commitments as you- effectively enjoying the luxury of training full-time- so don’t get disheartened by the ‘crazy 1 year transformation photos’ that would take a natural trainer perhaps 4 years to make. Imagine that your body was your livelihood, and you were subject to no drug tests, but your reputation, marketability and income were all dependant on your physique- it doesn’t take a rocket science to look at these superhuman transformations, physiques and strength- and realise it just isn’t achievable naturally.
Please push your friends, work colleagues and family towards this article to save them from making the same mistakes most beginners and intermediate trainers make, and being misled by the industry marketing and falsities. The more people we can stop being fooled by the smoke and mirrors of the fitness industry the better- especially early in their health and fitness adventure!
Which Guide is Right For You? Should you Cut or Bulk?
Find out which is right for YOU – here
If you would also like to share your story for others to learn from please email [email protected]