But after having been introduced to the concept of Intermittent Fasting (IF), it’s now become a way of life.
Like most people who are unaware of the benefits of fasting and ‘fasted’ training, I was extremely sceptical at first, but after a year of training this way, I genuinely cannot ever see myself going back.
Max invited me along for a training session at CrossFit Perpetua London in Battersea to give one of the workouts from the new plan a go.
The hour-long session – designed to be undertaken in a fasted state – had body-weight training at its core, including pull-ups, leg raises and press-ups, and ended with high intensity interval training.
“With the exercise plan, you’re building a foundation of strength,” he explains. “There are three phases. The first is the foundation of body-weight strength as you work your way up to doing one or two reps. Once you can do that with good control, you move to phase two, where you’re working to 10 reps of each exercise. There are three variations of each exercise. Phase three is the advanced part, where you really start to build a lot a strength, mobility and speed.”
Meatballs in a beetroot marinara on top of courgetti. One of the 40 recipes featured in my new online plan "The Fit Fast". Combining strength training with my unique method of Intermittent Fasting to sculpt and tone your body. Register your interest through the link in my bio 👉 naturafit.co.uk/thefitfast
My session in Battersea ended with four gruelling 30-second sprints on an Assault Bike as I was pushed to my absolute maximum.
“The HIIT at the end can help produce growth hormone and complement all of the strength training you’ve just done,” he says. “It helps to accelerate fat loss as well, especially if you’re training fasted.”
Throughout the session, Max stressed the importance of keeping your body and face completely relaxed, consciously focusing on the individual muscle being trained. More than once I was caught clenching my teeth and straining my neck. It’s pointless wasted energy, Max explains. The technique takes practice to begin with, but it pays off.
You need to have that mind-body connection when you’re training. You can’t just go through the motions
“As a sprinter, I’ve learnt that you can do things with absolute maximum effort but being relaxed at the same time – and that it’s a better way of doing it,” he explains. “If you’re wasting energy by tensing your shoulders, your neck, your face – that’s energy that could be used elsewhere.
“Why wouldn’t you want to be as relaxed as possible? You’ll do the exercise more efficiently and you’re less likely to get injured. Time and time again, I train clients and they get stiff necks afterwards. It’s because they’re squeezing their necks and not isolating the muscle that they need to use.
“You need to have that mind-body connection when you’re training. You can’t just go through the motions when you’re training without thinking about what you’re doing. You need to think about the muscle that’s being used and try to isolate it. If it’s an abdominal crunch, only use the abs – and nothing else. That’s another reason why people wonder why their body isn’t changing. It’s because they’re using all the wrong muscles and just going through the motions.”
He continues: “I’m very strict about it. When I really started focusing on specific muscles, that’s when my body really started to change and I understood that’s how it’s meant to be.
“You’re training your body, but at the same time it can be a great release for your mind. It’s almost like meditation if you can really get into your body, focus on the now and the muscles you’re working. That mind-body connection is crucial and it transfers into day-to-day life as well.”
The Fit Fast’s workout plans are complemented by 40 different healthy meal recipes designed for cooking at home. There are high-carb meals for refuelling after a workout and low-carb options for the rest of the time.
“You fill in a questionnaire and within three days you’ll receive completely tailored intermittent fasting meal plan,” he explains.
“There are three workouts a week, which you might think isn’t a lot, but in my opinion, if you’re pushing yourself and training efficiently in three workouts per week, you really don’t need to be doing more than that. Obviously, you do things on your rest days like walking, yoga and stretching, but it’s three workouts a week and they last roughly an hour.”
Macro-nutrient timing is a key part of the plan.
“Being on a low-carb diet is very beneficial for weight loss but if you’re training hard, you do need carbohydrates, especially if you’re doing HIIT training,” he says. “It helps with building muscle mass afterwards.
“I recommend that you time your carbohydrates for after your workouts so you that can replenish your glycogen levels in your muscles. After a workout, the carbs will be directed to muscle gains rather than fat storage, so it’s the prime time to eat them. People like eating carbs most of the time, so it’s about doing it efficiently and at the right time.”
Protein shakes are just completely unnecessary in my opinion. They’re a complete waste of money
Max is also a strong advocate of only eating ‘real food’, so forget about any protein shakes or supplements.
“I’ve never taken any supplements. I just don’t need to and I don’t gain anything from it,” he explains.
“Protein shakes are just completely unnecessary in my opinion. I just don’t see why you can’t get everything from your food. The perceived amount of protein that you really need to eat is so inflated by protein companies that it’s disgraceful.
“You’ve got to think: why are you taking it? If you’re doing the right kind of training and you’re eating a good diet, you’re going to have a great physique. It’s a complete waste of money.”
The Fit Fast plan, which is individually tailored to each client, costs £40 and should be considered as a lifetime investment, Max explains.
“What I’m hoping to put across is that it’s for life,” he says. “I’ve put a lot of information on the site about why you should be eating in this way and the process of doing it. I’m trying to show people a way of life, including information on things like sleep and alcohol, which have their own articles in the plan.
“You’re training to be fitter, faster and stronger – and in combination with the intermittent fasting, you’re going to end up looking good.”
The Fit Fast – Guys goes live on Sunday 10 July. Click here to find out more about the Fit Fast – Guys. You can also follow Max on Instagram.
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BIOGRAPHY: Daniel Sturridge
BIOGRAPHY: Kepa Arrizabalaga