Alex Cannon knows a thing or two about building a strong and lean body. Just look at him.
Photography: Glen Burrows
And you’re in luck because Men Fitness’ April cover star is going to share some of his top training secrets so you can start building your best ever body too.
“I was so skinny as a kid, but when I started working out I could see major body changes – and when you put that effort in it really does become addictive, in a good way,” says the 27-year-old Liverpudlian. Before appearing in Celebrity Big Brother last summer, Alex starred alongside Geordie Shore star Vicky Pattison in her spin-off series Judge Geordie, where she helped settle family feuds. But despite his growing fame and legion of fans – 400,000 on Instagram alone – Cannon remains focused on helping others find their fitness.
“When I get messages from people saying thank you for having motivated, inspired or helped them in any way, that’s the best feeling there is. I think that’s all people really remember when you’re gone – how you made them feel,” he says. Read on for Cannon’s muscle-building and fat-torching tips.
How To Sculpt An Impressive Six-Pack
Get abs of steel by working this important muscle group in new and challenging ways that will keep you progressing
Ditch The Sit-Ups
“To develop a really impressive set of abs you need to get a lot smarter than just banging out hundres of sit-ups and crunches,” says Cannon. “Best case scenario, that will build up the top part of your abs. Instead you need to target your abs in lots of different ways, and work on the middle and lower abs just as much as your upper abs – that’s the only way to build a midsection that’s strong and functional.”
Work The Angles
“You also need to hit your core from as many different angles as possible. In practice that means spending more training time doing planks and other exercises that require you to move your torso from side to side rather than just up and down. And once your abs muscles are comfortable managing your bodyweight, you need to bring in extra resistance to keep taxing them – barbells, dumbbells, med balls and other kit. Moves like the barbell landmine tick the right boxes.”
Train Them More
“It’s no good working your abs once a week and then expecting them to blossom into a fully-fledged six-pack. Try hitting them harder more often if you want to see real results faster. I will train my abs for 15 to 20 minutes at the end of all my weights workouts – it’s the most reilable way to ensure you keep seeing progress.”
Torch Body Fat Fast To Reveal Rock-Hard Abs
Use Alex Cannon’s tried-and-tested training and diet advice to get lean fast
Focus On Food
“You are what you eat. In other words, it doesn’t matter how hard you’re pushing it in the gym if you don’t put the same effort into what you do in the kitchen,” says Cannon. “Everyone says you can’t out-train a bad diet and it’s true. To strip fat you need a healthy, sustainable nutrition plan that works for you.”
Pick The Weights
“You need to burn body fat to reveal your six-pack, and your fat-loss training should be focused on lifting weights. This will help you add muscle mass while also forcing your body to burn its fat stores. There’s no way you’ll get ripped doing just cardio – but some short, intense cardio sessions can help.”
HIIT It Hard
“I like to do some high-intensity cardio ‘finishers’ at the end of my weights workout – it pushes my heart, lungs and muscles as hard as possible and burns even more calories. Try some sets of battle ropes, kettlebell swings or prowler pushes and you’ll melt that belly fat away.”
RECOMMENDED: HIIT Workouts
Stay In The Zone
“Weight training for fat loss is pretty hard on both your body and mind, but you are really going to have to work if you want to make major changes to your body composition. The going will get tough sometimes. When it does, remind yourself of all the positive reasons you’re doing this, then dig deep.”
Build Bigger Guns With Cannon’s Biceps Tips
Follow these three tips to train your biceps smarter and you’ll start adding size and strength to your arms the next time you hit the gym
Lighten The Load
“I see one thing all the time in gyms all over the country, and that’s guys trying to biceps curl a dumbbell that’s far too heavy,” says Cannon. “It might look impressive from a distance, but they’re never fully engaging the biceps because they are swinging the weight up and down so there’s never tension on the muscle. You need to pick a lighter but still challenging weight and make sure you lift it properly, keeping your form good on every rep.”
Squeeze And Hold
“At the top of each biceps curl movement, whether it’s with a dumbbell, a barbell, an EZ-bar or even a chin-up, try to hold the top position and focus on squeezing your biceps hard. If you do you’ll recruit more of the muscle fibres in the biceps, and that means your arms are working harder during every single rep. And when you lower the weight again, make sure you’re doing it slowly and under control, so you maximise the amount of tension your biceps is exposed to. It will make a huge difference to how big, and how quickly, your biceps grow.”
Connect Mind To Muscle
“When I train my biceps I always try to make a strong connection between my brain and the muscle. It might sound weird but it makes such a difference in the quality of the rep. Thinking about how a working muscle is moving and controlling a weight keeps your form nice and strict, and it also helps activate more muscle fibres so you get better results.”
RECOMMENDED: How To Get Bigger Biceps
Get Clever With Your Cardio
Make smart decisions about what, when and how and you’ll get fitter, healthier and leaner in less time
Switch It Up
“Doing the same thing time and again is the fastest route to stagnation – and complete boredom,” says Cannon. “To make cardio training effective for fat loss and better health, and to keep your mind motivated, you need to keep switching it up. Try different exercises at different paces.”
RECOMMENDED: Rowing Machine Workouts
Keep It Intense
“Slow and steady cardio can help you clear your mind, and obviously it’s great for endurance fitness, but if you want to burn more calories you need to get your heart pumping fast by keeping cardio short and intense. A 15-minute burst is plenty if you’re working hard.”
RECOMMENDED: Exercise Bike Workouts
Do Cardio Last
“For years people have argued about whether to do cardio before or after lifting weights, but for the best outcome I recommend always doing your cardio work after weights. You need to be fresh and focused to lift weights well, and you’ll burn more fat if you save the cardio for after.”
Learn To Enjoy It
“To make cardio training as effective as possible it’s really important to experiment and find the type of training you enjoy. If you look forward to a session then you’re far more likely to attack it with purpose. And the more you apply yourself to it, the more you’ll get out of it.”
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