Photography: Glen Burrows; Grooming: Simone Beyleveld; Styling: Gary Kingsnorth
September’s Men’s Fitness cover model Louis Rennocks is a Barry’s Bootcamp PT, co-founder of The Boxx Method and an ambassador for the M&S Big & Tall range. Here he reveals the training and nutrition plan that helped him build his best ever body – so you can too
You’ve made the leap from successful personal trainer to successful model. When you found out you were going to combine the two careers and appear on the cover of MF, what sort of training plan did you follow?
I did four heavy strength sessions each week, based around big compound lifts or the Olympic lifts. In those sessions I’d hit a couple of big lifts for around six sets of three to five reps, then finish with some more hypertrophy-focused work where the rep range is closer to eight to ten.
Did you do any cardio?
Yeah, I did five cardio sessions each week – either a class at Barry’s Bootcamp, where I teach, or a Boxx Method session, which is my own high-intensity interval training programme. I hate long and slow cardio and much prefer HIIT.
I’ll also do a double abs session at Barry’s once a week – I never used to train abs directly but if you want a decent six-pack you have to train your abs just like you would any other major muscle group.
What was your nutrition approach leading up to the shoot?
I didn’t eat until 1pm, and then I ate all my day’s calories in an eight-hour window until 9pm, so I fasted each day for 16 hours. I’ve found this approach works for me and I don’t see the point in spreading out my calories into smaller meals throughout the day.
I feel like when I eat my body is in recovery mode, and it can make me feel tired and sluggish, and I’m more alert and focused when I am hungry.
This makes sense from an evolutionary point of view: if there was no food and we were hungry then we’d have to go hunting, which required a lot of focus and determination. And extended periods of daily fasting is a great way to re-teach your body how to burn fat for fuel.
Did you follow a specific diet?
My prep diet for the shoot was pretty simple. I’ve found that a ketogenic diet works best for me – that’s very high fat, moderate protein and very low carb.
Once the body has no carbs left for fuel it will start to convert fat into ketones, and it can be a very effective way to get lean. I aim for 2,500 calories a day with a daily protein intake of around 180g, so I just make up the rest of the calories from fat, with that split around 60/40 in favour of animal fats over other fat sources. The only carbs I’ll have is 500ml of orange juice straight after training.
How did you get on with a keto diet?
A keto diet means that, without carbs, your body has no choice but to burn body fat as fuel and it can be very effective, although it’s not easy at first. For the first four days as my body ran out of carbs I felt like hell. It was awful and I had no energy and no strength and couldn’t get a pump, but then I was in a yoga class and suddenly everything just clicked into place. From then on I felt fantastic.
You must spend a lot of your time in activewear. Do you ever dress up?
As a PT I spend most of my day in sports clothes. When I am training myself, a client or a class then I will be in performance wear; in between clients or classes then I like to look a little more professional and comfortable so I wear activewear, like jogging bottoms and a hooded top.
Is it important to you to look good when working out?
You want to wear clothes that are comfortable, make you feel good – and make you look like you train! A baggy T-shirt is great when chilling out, but it’s far from ideal when training.
I find a lot of my clients buy new workout kit to help motivate them to get to the gym in the first place, and then to push hard when they’re there. I like tech wear and performance wear because it can give you the confidence to really push yourself.
It’s similar to when you go running: if you’re in the right gear that makes you feel good you’re going to run a faster time, no question.
Do you find it difficult to shop for your shape when buying clothes?
When I need to get dressed up for a special occasion like a wedding it can be tough finding the right look that fits. I am 6ft 4in [1.93m] with a 46in [117cm] chest and 34in [86cm] waist and that’s a frame that’s hard to shop for, especially suits or shirts. At least one part would always be too tight or loose, so I had to spend a lot of money on getting bespoke and tailored clothing.
I was so happy when M&S brought out its Big and Tall range because it’s tapered for guys like me who have broad shoulders, big arms and a narrow waist. It’s perfect and great to be able to buy something fantastic right off the peg.
What is the one outfit you know you will always feel confident in?
My go-to casual summer look is a pair of chino shorts, a white tee and a decent pair of trainers. In winter my look will be based around a big jacket. I’ll have a nice standard outfit – not too shouty – and let a big jacket do all the talking!
With all my outfits that’s my approach, keep things casual but with one standout piece, whether that’s a jacket or trainers. It’s all about comfort and the right fit, because if you’re in good shape then your clothes will look better on you.
If you’re confident and feel good, then you stand up straighter and just radiate confidence. I want people to know I am feeling fantastic when I am.
Why is the right workout gear so important?
Training is like cooking – you need to right tools at your disposal to do the best job possible, so I advise people to spend a bit of money on the right workout clothes.
People spend so much money on things they don’t need, but it’s important to invest in yourself, and good training clothes and booking into group classes or getting a PT is a massive commitment to self-improvement, whatever your health and fitness goal. Invest in what is going to help you look, feel and perform better than ever.
What’s your fitness-fashion advice for someone new to training?
If you’re new to the gym, or coming back after a break from training, then first invest in pair of quality trainers.
For other kit I like leggings and shorts because joggers are too loose and just get in the way, and I can “feel” my legs muscles better in leggings, which makes it easier to work them harder.
Always go for a breathable T-shirt. It doesn’t have to be tight; it’s more important that you’re comfortable. Black or grey if you don’t want to stand out too much, but if you do there’s more choice than ever before when it comes to bright and neon colours!
Ultimately it doesn’t matter how you look so long as you feel comfortable – if you do then you’re going to train hard and everything will fall into place.
What motivates you to keep working at your fitness every day?
For me it’s not just about looking good. I know what it feels like to be really healthy and I love feeling like this. When you train hard and eat well you feel fantastic, and this positivity radiates into every single area of your life – work, friendships, business, relationships, everything.
I love pushing myself hard and when I feel like I can’t do a single extra rep, I always try to find the mental strength as well as the physical strength to keep going. When you push yourself to the limit and then manage to keep pushing it’s a powerful thing. And it helps me in other areas of life when I have to dig deep, because I know I can do it.
A lot of people start training because they want the physical benefits, but pretty soon the mental benefits become clear too. Training helps keep me calm and in control. After a really hard session, anything else that happens in your day is going to be easy to deal with.