Who doesn’t want to look like James Bond?
It wasn’t on the list of goals I mentioned in this post, but one of the things I want to do this year is finally get my physique in gear. I got pretty close in January of last year, but life quickly got in the way of keeping that momentum going.
But now I’m back in the saddle – and having made some progress with Project #1 (getting my Cadillac roadworthy) I’ve decided to move onto this objective.
So here’s my goal – to have a physique resembling that of Daniel Craig, in his role as James Bond. Believe it or not, I think it’s actually an entirely achievable goal, since he’s not ridiculously muscular and not absurdly lean – and I’ve spent the past two years learning such a lot about weightlifting and bodybuilding that I think I have a blueprint of how I can get there.
But the first, and most important, step is not to focus on the end result. One great piece of advice that was shared with me last year is that it’s not about the outcome, it’s about the process. Too many people concentrate on “losing 10lbs by April” or other goal-based measures; which can work against you when you miss those targets.
If you work on the process for achieving your goal instead of the outcome, you will at least keep getting closer to achieving it even if you do miss your arbitrary deadlines for weight loss, or whatever.
So what is the process for getting a physique like that?
Well, for me it’s a case of shedding my comforting layer of winter fat, while retaining all those muscles I’ve built up over the past two years of weightlifting. I need to eat less, and keep hitting it hard and regularly at the gym.
So here’s my plan:
Monday to Friday, eat 1,700 calories or less per day, with at least 30g of dietary fiber and, ideally, about 170g of protein (which is going to be tricky, on the Engine 2 Diet.) I used to use My Fitness Pal to help my track this, but this time around I’m instead going to take a leaf out of Peter Bregman’s book and keep it simple.
He writes about losing 15lbs in a month by identifying the one thing that made the biggest impact on his weight and changing it. In his case, it was giving up sugar. In my case, the culprit is beer.
I love beer, and I tend to have a couple of glasses of beer every night to unwind. But that, more than anything else, is contributing to my decidedly unBond-like tubby tummy. So to get lean and mean in record time, I’m going to give up the beer during the week.
Why break my fast for the weekend? Because if I don’t, I’m going to fail.
Four or five beer-free days at a stretch is achievable – any longer than that and I’ll crack. And while that might sound wimpy, it’s a tactic lifted straight from Bond’s playbook. When Daniel Craig was interviewed about his Bond-fitness regime under the tutelage of personal trainer Simon Waterson, he revealed:
At weekends, Simon said do what you like, drink what you like. My view is there’s no point getting fit if you can’t abuse yourself.
The ethos also fits in with the whole Bond persona. There’s no point having a body like Bond’s, if you can’t enjoy a vodka martini like him as well.
So what’s Bond’s fitness regime? It was explained in painstaking depth in Ian Fleming’s novel From Russia With Love:
Bond went down on his hands and did twenty slow press-ups, lingering over each one so that his muscles had no rest. When his arms could stand the pain no longer, he rolled over on his back and, with his hands at his sides, did the straight leg-lift until his stomach muscles screamed. He got to his feet and, after touching his toes twenty times, went over to arm and chest exercises combined with deep breathing until he was dizzy. Panting with the exertion, he went into the big white-tiled bathroom and stood in the glass shower cabinet under very hot and then cold hissing water for five minutes.
The problem with this routine is that it’s bullshit.
As cool as it sounds, it was written during an era in which men simply did not look like Daniel Craig, and even if they had done, Ian Fleming was definitely not qualified to write a fitness program to achieve that look. Ian Fleming died of a heart attack in his fifties, brought about by drinking a bottle of vodka a day, choked down with 70 cigarettes. His idea of exercise was a leisurely swim – not the punishing routine Daniel Craig adopted prior to filming Casino Royale.
And what was that routine? Only Daniel Craig knows for sure, but he revealed some parts of it:
We mainly did cardio weights. We’d only work out for 45 minutes, but we didn’t stop. Circuits, lifting, working weights, lots of pull ups, push ups, lots of old-fashioned stuff. If I wanted to lose weight then I’d get on the bike afterward. All I had to do was get my heart rate to about 160 and keep it there for ten minutes and that’s when your weight drops off.
This is an interesting regimen because it burns fat as well as testing muscles – very different to the traditional weightlifting routine of 3/4 “sets” of 10 to 12 “reps.”
I’m going to aim for Craig’s 45 minutes in the gym as well, although I might spend my time a little differently. My aim is to hit the gym five days a week, with two days for rest and recuperation (a must, as any bodybuilder knows.)
I’ll be following a more traditional cycle – focusing on one muscle group each day:
- Day One: Chest and Triceps
- Day Two: Legs
- Day Three: Back and Biceps
- Day Four: Abs and Core
- Day Five: Shoulders
Each routine takes about 25/30 minutes to complete, with about five different exercises in each one (working on the old mantra that: “If you can do more than five sets of exercises, you’re not lifting heavy enough.”) And weight is going to be the key. To get Daniel Craig’s muscles, you need to tear your muscles to shreds during that day’s routine, then give them five days to rebuild themselves before you do it all over again.
So the remaining 15/20 minutes is reserved for cardio – hitting a treadmill or going for a run. I hate cardio, and I hate running – but it’s a great way to shred fat after lifting weights, as you’ll have depleted your stores of energy and when your heart rate hits “the zone”, you’ll start feeding your muscles from your fat deposits instead.
The Rest (literally)
In addition to eating right, and exercising right, there’s one more part of my James Bond routine that I’ve got to work on – sleeping.
It was a running joke that James Bond was a night owl – responding to M’s query: “When do you sleep” with a smooth: “Never on the company’s time, Sir.” But in reality, sleep is an essential part of any weight loss or fitness routine.
Sleep is when your body has the bandwidth to repair and rebuild your torn muscle fibers, and replenish your muscles with energy ready for the next workout. If you don’t sleep properly, all the effort you’ve spent eating properly and hitting the weights will be wasted.
So now I’m going to be really disciplined, and pledge to get at least seven or eight hours of sleep a night. That might mean going to be at 9pm most nights; but in the long term, I know it will be more than my body that appreciates it.
Sticking to the plan
So my plan is broken down into three easy steps. Each day I need to:
- Eat right
- Work out right
- Sleep right
And looping back to my original point, about how achieving your goals requires focusing on the process, not the outcome, I can see that instead of setting monthly milestones (losing 10lbs by April) I should instead set daily ones: Did I eat right, work out right and sleep right today?
And will it work? Well, that’s the question.
But I feel by putting my strategy down on paper – and committing to it – I might have a better shot than I would do otherwise.
I will keep you updated on how Project #2 goes!