Maximuscle Protein Project Weeks 1-4: Diary of a ‘Gym Newbie’


About a month ago received an email from the powers that be at Maximuscle, asking us if we fancied undertaking their 12-week training programme, The Protein Project.

Never one to shirk a challenge, our Editor Sam Van Gelder leapt at the opportunity quicker than he could purchase tickets to the next available viewing of The Gun Show.

He’s pledged to transform himself from scrawny worm to buff byson, and here’s how he got on in weeks 1-4…

Diary of a ‘Gym Newbie’

Immediately after accepting the challenge, I immediately regretted it. Largely because this meant I had to commit to serious sessions in the gym – a place where I had previously thought I was allergic to.

It was a place in my mind where only meatheads went to ‘pump iron’ and ‘sculpt their guns’ infront of floor to ceiling mirrors, wearing nothing but tight vests and making over the top macho hissing noises as they go.

Apparently, as I have now discovered, this is not the case…

me on ball

Football > Gym

I see myself in a very similar situation to David from the Protein Project – football is where I (quite literally) get my kicks from in terms of exercise.

I play three times a week and so I wanted to tailor the Protein Project to my footballing needs.

The aim was to become a fitter and stronger footballer at the end of the 12 week stint, whilst improving my physique in the process (I have a holiday booked in the summer after all!)


Embarrassing Bodies

Having been sent a 4 week training plan and diet, along with a whole stash of Protein and training supplements, I was all set to begin the challenge.

The first session was one to forget. Having never lifted a single weight before in my life, it wasn’t exactly Beast Mode ON (BMO) as a certain Northampton Town forward would put it…


I could barely lift a thing, struggled to get through sets and was embarrassed by my pipsqueak physique when stood alongside these gladiators of the gym.


Props to protein

Still, at least I had my McDonald’s milkshake to consume afterwards. By that I mean my Cyclone Vanilla shake. Not quite as delicious, but each one gives me 250kcal with 30g of protein and nearly 5g of Creatine, a crucial ingredient for muscle growth.

These are fantastic in terms of helping work the muscles and aid recovery which in turn can help prevent injuries.

This meant the day after each session, I’m pretty much pain free. Protein is now my friend. For life.

As the weeks continue in the gym, I’m beginning to see improvements on the pitch. Despite no real dramatic changes to my physique, I feel physically stronger in my upper body but also mentally sharper.


I’m a huge fan of the Viper Active gels. I take one before every match and another at half time. It could be a bit of placebo effect, but I definitely feel a lot fitter after the 75 minute mark than before I started the project.

Hey Arnold! to hey, Arnie…

Since starting to bulk up, it’s been made apparent to me that to achieve my fitness goals my diet makes up 70% and gym workouts 30%.

With this in mind I’ve tried hard to adjust my diet, but to very little effect thus far. It’s something which I will try and improve throughout the next eight weeks, but it’s just too much of a dramatic change to go all out protein and healthy eating.


It’s not all chicken and steak for breakfast, lunch and dinner but the diet I’ve been given is just too militant for me at the moment.

Bars and BetaAlanine

That said, the Maximuscle protein bars have been an absolute winner. Particularly the Progain Flapjack. Crammed with 22g of protein, it sure packs a punch and it was certainly the first time ever that I’ve had an onset of the flapjack sweats!

Maximuscle Mentality

The aim of Maximuscle’s Protein Project is to show the British public that achieving the proverbial ‘healthy lifestyle’ around a busy work-life balance is achievable for everyone.

I must admit, I had my doubts, but once the gym becomes part of your weekly routine, it’s pretty difficult not to become addicted.

My mentality towards the gym has certainly changed – it’s now a place I look forward to going and pushing my body to new limits. I’ve certainly seen an improvement both physically and mentally, but mostly the latter.

If I was lifting peanuts in my first session, I feel as if I’ve moved onto walnuts now…

Here’s to the next eight weeks then. Time to sort out this diet. *orders a Nandos*

Check out for some great training and nutrition plans. You can follow the journey of  James, Oli and David, the three contestants in the The Protein Project competition, via the Maximuscle website. Check out

What do you think of Maximuscle’s Protein Project? Are you taking part? Let us know in the comments section below or on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

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