Get Ripped or Die Trying: How to get fit for the summer (and look good in the process)

Written by Andy | 24/01/2014

In the second part of our New Year’s Resolutions fitness extravaganza, we’ve spoken to another two inspirational fitness experts about their work-out habits.
We’ve got tons of expert advice and tips from recent ‘femail’ Daily Mail feature and medical student Jack Darby as well as Australian fitness natural Ali Ahmadi to help you battle that Christmas bulge and get ripped in next to no time. As the US Marines famously said when recruiting and training, remember: Pain is just weakness leaving your body.

How to get ripped for the summer, and look good in the process (and actually stick at it)


Jack Darby

Jack Darby is a 5th year medical student and fitness model who has recently made the news for his amazing transformation.

Jack Darby Fitness Timeline

“I started training following a heart-breaking relationship. After rapidly putting on 6lbs in the space of a few weeks, being surrounded by empty crisp packets and not being able to close my jeans without acquiring a hernia, I realised things had to change. I started to train initially in my room with dumbbells. At this point I didn’t really have much clue what I was doing, but I persisted, and did lots of research. I even gained a Sport and Exercise Science degree at Loughborough University in between my 3rd and 4th years of medicine.”

“This gave me the platform I needed. Hard work coupled with scientific backing made my training became more and more effective. People were amazed by the results and my love for health and fitness grew.”
What is the most important thing to factor into the first few weeks of any New Year’s fitness/body building plan?

The most important factors to consider is to make sure you perform exercises properly. This sounds obvious, but so many people, particularly guys, lift weights far too heavy for them, just to look good. This leads to them doing the exercise incorrectly and often leads to injury. Form is essential. Focus on doing the exercise properly with an appropriate weight for you. Many people lift too heavy and use lots of anterior deltoid (shoulder.) Your muscles cannot tell how much weight it is lifting, it only interprets strain put onto the muscle fibres. This is a vital distinction. You can impart more stress onto your muscles using lower weight correctly, than really heavy weight incorrectly. Leave your ego at the door when you enter the gym, and results will come.

Another factor is to not expect miracles. Set achievable targets. Otherwise you will get disheartened when you haven’t lost 10 stone in a day and give up. Finding a sustainable routine is vital to forming new habits. Once you get over the 6 month mark, it will become a habit for life! When you find something that works for you, stick to it. A key concept in bodybuilding is that everyone is different. What works for someone else may not work for you.
Any other tips or tricks?

I do a lot of super sets and drop sets. You may know what these are, but in case you don’t….a super set is where you do 2 (or more) exercises back to back without a rest. For example, chest flys followed by chest press, without a break. Drop sets are where you do a set, then drop the weight and immediately do another set. These are a great way to increase the intensity of your workout. Another variable I like to tinker with is rest periods. Next time you workout, try doing the same workout, but reducing your rest sets to 20 seconds, you won’t believe how much more it knackers you out!

Slow negatives is another good tip. So for example, on a bench press, the ‘negative’ would be the point from fully outstretched arms to bringing the bar back down to your chest. Doing this phase really slowly increases tension on the muscle and will improve muscle gains.
How important is it to be drug free whilst training?

Drug free training is extremely important. Being a medic, I am all too aware of the range of serious side effects that come with anabolic steroids. I have seen these side effects in many of my patients first hand and it is terrifying. I’ve met men who now have gynaecomastia (increased breast tissue), infertility and severe erectile dysfunction. Surely the three things that are amongst a man’s biggest fears!

Even more serious (if that is possible!) is the increased risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular events. Training naturally and doing things the hard way also creates transferrable attributes in people. For example, work ethic, determination, confidence. All of these which can be utilized to full advantage in other areas of your life, whether that is revising for an exam, meeting deadlines or simply socialising.


“Training naturally and doing things the hard way
also creates transferrable attributes in people.
For example, work ethic, determination, confidence.
All of these which can be utilized
to full advantage in other areas of your life.”

What do you wear to the gym?

You see everything from an oiled up guy in a posing pouch to someone dressed in a full eskimo jacket. I would advise going for comfort. You are in the gym to train, not to show off. The less you care about what others think, the better your workout will be (this links back to lifting too heavy to look good.) A t-shirt and some tracksuit bottoms or shorts would be best.
EA7 Big Logo T Shirt Navy BlueFranklin Marshall Grey Jogging Bottoms
How do you stick to your routine?

Despite revising for my final medicine exams and all the commitments that come with that, I have a clear plan with clear goals. I am a big believer in goal setting. I write short, mid and long term goals which help me to keep track of my progress. When I meet a goal I feel great and it reinforces my motivation for health and fitness. I always have the urge to be better than I was yesterday, in everything I do. I also change my training regularly, so it doesn’t get boring, and so my body doesn’t get used to it and therefore stop growing. I like to train with different people too. This keeps it fun and everyone you train with can teach you something new. There is always something to learn.
What are the benefits of natural bodybuilding other than looks?

There are just so many! There is the acquisition of new attributes that I mentioned earlier, and so much more. You end up becoming a role model for others, helping them to change their life. By far the most gratifying thing for me has been the amount of people taking time out of their day to contact me and say how I have inspired them. Money just can’t buy!

You have a desire to eat better, which makes you feel great, and vastly reduces your chance of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, which is implicated in about 40-50% of worldwide disease burden! You get a strong sense of internal pride because of your achievements, and this makes you happier in your day and more resilient to daily stressors!
A nice plan to start off on your New Year’s Fitness Resolution would be something like this (each using an appropriate weight for YOU.)

Each exercise, 4 sets of 8-12 reps, unless stated:
Back and biceps:

Deadlifts (the best overall muscle builder)

Lat pull downs

Seated row

Bicep curls

Hammer curls
Chest and triceps:

Barbell bench press (shoulder width grip)

Dumbbell chest flys

Barbell bench press (narrow grip – to work triceps)

Shoulders and trapezius:

Upright rows


Seated lateral raises (sat on upright bench, to keep your back straight)

Dumbbell shoulder press

Squats (with a nice wide stance)

Leg press

Leg curl (for hamstrings)

Calf raises.
To follow Jack along the stage of his journey check out his Facebook; and follow him on Twitter @jackdarby_


Ali Ahmadi

The Samurai Diet: The Natural Way to Love Life

Ali Ahmadi“Three times Australian Champion Natural Bodybuilder Ali Ahmadi is a versatile athlete, a Martial Artist, a Qualified Master Trainer and a performer in roles across stage and screen.”

Ali offers his insight into what he calls the ‘Original Way’ and how this can assist you with your New Year fitness resolutions.
Humans today are unhealthier than ever before. The rises of both physical and psychological dysfunctions such as heart diseases, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer, obesity, depression are a direct result of living against the principles of Original Way. For example, cardiovascular disease is still one of the leading causes of death worldwide. We have more Health Practitioners today than any other time in human history, yet we are getting sicker day by day. Instead of moving towards health, we are driving towards diseases and illnesses. So it’s been my goal as an athlete and Personal Trainer for over 10 years to find out healthy ways to regain our vitality, health, energy and overall wellbeing.

That’s why I believe one of the main New Year’s resolutions should always begin with a plan of action to achieve better health and fitness. It’s important to have strong person reasons to begin an exercise plan in the first place otherwise it’s very easy to fall off the wagon. Daily goal setting is one of the rituals I practice to ensure I stay on the path. Health & Fitness is the foundation for everything else. If you are fit strong healthy then no matter what your goals whether career relationships or financial, you will have more energy to work on chirping your specific personal goals. No energy no fuel and no fuel no success in anything.
There are three main aspects of achieving your fitness goals:
1- First is Nutrition. The most nourishing and energizing foods are REAL WHOLE FOODS that are free of additives, preservatives, refined and processed foods. It is about eating the way our pre-agricultural ancestors did–meats, fish, vegetables, nuts, and fruits to repair, revitalise and improve us.
2- Second aspect emphasizes on strength & Fitness. I personally recommend using a wide variety of functional movements to get lean, fit and strong such as Bodyweight Training, Running, Swimming, Weightlifting and Dancing etc. It is designed to help you build or maintain lean muscle mass, reduce body fat, increase energy, improve strength, speed, power and prepare your body for real life obstacles.
Then lastly is about lifestyle which is about Balance and living in tune with our biology as our ancestors once did and a lifestyle free of addictions such as alcohol, nicotine, drugs and digital entertainment. It is balanced between work, play and Self Time. All the principles mentioned above is to promote health, vitality and well-being. And I call it Original Way. It is the way we are actually designed to live if we want to experience health energy and overall wellbeing.”
To achieve your goals you need to be prepared to eliminate things from your lifestyle:

• All breads and pasta
• Alcohol
• Junk food
• Fizzy drinks
• Avoid adding salt to food
• Sugar and honey coated breakfast cereals
• Whole milk
• Cigarettes

Swap these eliminations for:

• Rice noodles
• Sweet potato
• Brown rice
• Porridge
• Eggs
• Lean meat
• Vegetables
• Fish
• Herbal teas
• Organic foods
• Almond or skimmed milk
• Water
Making these changes will cleanse and detox your body whilst eliminating fat and helping lean muscle to develop.
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