Lifestyle Editor Adrian Collins aims to get ripped in eight weeks, and documents his journey from couch potato to cover model shredded...hopefully

This is the first part of a new series on getting in shape in eight weeks, and this week I’ve been making some pretty big changes. I’ve just started a new job here at, which is change enough, but on top of that I’ve decided to undertake an 8-week transformation program with Raw Condition Gym in Dublin.

That’s been my gym for the past two years, and it’s a place that’s both friendly and welcoming, while at the same time being an environment that challenges you to push yourself. In fact, at one stage or another I’ve been in the best shape of my life while training there, because of the facility, the people and the fact that I’ve pushed myself to reach my goals.

Over that time, I took it upon myself to learn as much about nutrition as I could, and as a bit of a foodie, would go out of my way to find healthy but tasty recipes. Although I came close to losing those final few pounds several times, for one reason or another it never quite happened, and the aforementioned 'best shape of my life' was still not what I wanted.

On reflection, that reason is pretty clear: me. I was shooting myself in the foot by eating poorly at least once a week, going out and drinking the odd time, and lately, with the results stalling a little bit, losing my motivation to work as hard as possible in the gym. While I have always claimed to be a perfectionist, the last few pounds never shifted in reality because I was happy with ’good enough’, and learning that about yourself can help you to make changes in plenty of different parts of your life in the long run.

The idea of a transformation across around two months that requires commitment, dedication and promises results is tempting in that it’s a short space of time, and it allows you to get control over your fitness, weight and eating, which can get neglected all too easily. From my own point of view, where I was going wrong was food, and with the guidance of Anthony Lynch and the team at Raw, my mistakes have been pointed out, even at this early stage. Before we started, this is what I look like. Keep your insults and laughter to a minimum please:

The first stage in this plan is pretty gruelling, and just three days in, it’s already taking effect, at least mentally. Flavour is pretty much a thing of the past, and the realisation of what it takes when people say that the hard work is done in the kitchen is setting in.

The meal plan revolves around cycling your carbs and your exercise, so that the day where you take on the least carbs is the day where you do your cardio, and then circuit training and intense sessions in the gym are there for the days when you’ve been getting plenty of rice and porridge. There’s no sugar coating it though, the meals are grim, but having had a 36" waist previously, it’s time to pay the piper for having spent far too long eating burgers and drinking beer…but that doesn’t make it any easier.

For the first two weeks neither myself or my competition Peter Cooney are allowed to eat any dairy, or any sugar. That includes the little spoon of both that previously went into my coffee, and the taste of a quality Americano is now something to savour, because it’s essentially the only treat you get. The meals are composed of porridge, blueberries, turkey, white fish, spinach, broccoli and egg whites, and nothing else, and you have to eat five times a day, which is a real struggle. In honesty, I hit that target yesterday, but that meant forcing myself to eat even when I wasn’t hungry. Simply knowing that you’d need the energy was enough to motivate me, but as this stage wears on I’m not sure how long that will last.

The workouts are intense and have reminded me of the level that I should be pushing myself to achieve in the gym. The main weights program is a circuit that hits all parts of the body, as stripping away as much fat as possible is the goal here. Three times a week, the following is my set up:

Warm up Superset dumbbell bench press (4x10) with incline fly (4x20)
1 minute on the rowing machine
Superset lat pulldown (4x10) with seated row (4x20)
1 minute on the rowing machine
Superset shoulder press (4x10) with lateral raise (4x20)
1 minute on the rowing machine
Superset kettlebell squats (4x10) with kettlebell lunges (4x20)
1 minute on the rowing machine
Superset bicep curl (4x10) with tricep pushdown (4x10)

Where the number of reps is ten, you should aim for a heavy weight, and where it’s 20, something that’s lighter but still challenging. That fatigues each individual muscle group and if you weren’t already tired the rowing machine really takes it out of you.

There are no cheat meals, so the next thing to look forward to is two weeks down the line, when we get to add a bit more flavour and a few new ingredients to the meal plan. For now, it's about hard work and getting through the slog, and for me, about not looking like I do in those pictures any more.

I'll be logging my progress here on the Man-Cave as the new editor over the next eight weeks, with video content, vines, tweets on my Twitter and pictures, as well as recipes when they become a little less bland, so keep an eye out for updates every Wednesday.