“The first thing you need to do is to decide upon your goal - whether that’s getting a washboard six-pack or having a bit more zip around the football pitch - and to set a realistic time-frame within which to achieve it,” explains Warner.
“Turning up at the gym without a clear plan of what you want to achieve from that session is one of the most common reasons why New Year fitness goals are rarely met,” he warns. “Once your know your objective and how long it’s going to take, break it down into challenging but achievable milestones to keep you on track.”
The endless boom and bust of novel, celebrity-backed dietary systems should tell you all you need to know about their efficacy.
“The key to a successful body transformation - whether that’s adding muscle mass or stripping body fat - is eating well consistently, not some of the time,” cautions Warner.
“Three days of healthy eating - high-quality protein from meat and fish, healthy fats from eggs, nuts and avocados, and plenty of veg - followed by a day when you go off the rails - fast food, fizzy drinks and high-sugar snacks - does not equate to a net gain of two good days.
"The food you eat has wide-ranging hormonal implications for the creation, storage and use of fat and the construction and maintenance of muscle that will dictate the success or failure of your transformation.”
Adding muscle or losing fat involves a simple equation, according to Sean Lerill a model for Men’s Health and Men’s Fitness magazines and author of the Haynes Body Transformation Manual.
"My advice is to use one of the many formulas available, such as the IIFYM Macro Calculator , to work out the calories you need to maintain your physique, based on your weight, age and amount of exercise, and eat 20pc less than this for the stripped look.
"Try to hit certain amounts of macronutrients (carbs, fats and proteins). My general advice is that one third of your calories should come from healthy fats, 2.5g per kg of bodyweight from protein, and the rest from carbs. You can use smartphone apps like MyFitnesspal to log your foods and stay on track.
"Remember to drink lots of water too - around 1 litre per 20kg of bodyweight per day.”
Hours of running and cycling will keep you in shape but it won’t lead to a cover model physique.
“The research overwhelmingly shows that resistance or weight training is far more beneficial for adding muscle and burning fat than cardio - especially the slow, steady-state treadmill runs so many people gravitate towards when wanting to get back in shape,” advises Warner.
“Free weights using dumbbells and barbells are more effective than using machines because they also work the small but crucial stabilising muscles that the fixed movement patterns on machines ignore.
RULE 5: NEVER CHEAT WHEN YOU’RE LIFTING
Unlike professional weightlifters, the aim of a cover model isn’t to manoeuvre the biggest weight possible, but to improve the muscular structure of their body. Your goal is probably the same.
“It can be tempting to assume that the heavier the weight you lift, the quicker you’ll add muscle,” says Warner. “But more often than not the opposite is true because relying on using momentum to move a weight, rather than using your muscles, means you’ll never test your muscles enough to coax them into growing.
And be prepared to work hard. “You have to really, really want to change your body,” says Warner. “But when you push yourself harder, you will force your body to adapt.”
Focus on exercises that work as many different muscles in your body as possible. These more complex exercises not only help to trigger more muscle-growth, but they also torch more fat.
“Compound exercises like pull-ups, dips, chin-ups, squats and deadlifts are the way ahead,” says Lerwill. “Although the deadlift is supposed to have more fat-burning, muscle-building and calorie-burning changes associated with it per rep, the squat has also been coined ‘the king of exercises’ because a far larger percentage of the body’s muscles are in the legs. So by working the thighs and the backside, more energy is expended and more calories are burned.
What we consume in liquid form is often the hidden menace that forces us to pile on layers of unwanted blubber. That’s why cover models pay extra attention to their intake of liquid calories.
“If losing fat is your primary goal then reducing the number of calories you drink will go a long way towards your success,” reveals Warner, who dropped his body-fat percentage from around 17pc to 5.5pc.
"Switching these high-calorie beverages for H20 will prevent the inevitable energy highs and lows that will derail your fitness mission. If you get bored of plain water, cut up a lemon or lime and drop the segments into a pint of soda water.”
Simple daily changes are just as important for maintaining a cover model physique as all the pain, sweat and grunting in the gym.
“There are some ‘little things’ that I advise people to do,” says Lerwill. “For an untrained person it might be to get off the tube a stop early and walk to the office, or cut out the lattes. For a trained person who has stalled with their fat loss it may be to take Omega 3 fish oils to help accelerate fat loss.
"One that most of us can do is cut down the alcohol.”
No matter how hard you train, fat-drenched snacks will undermine your body-sculpting goals.
“There was a time when eating confectionery was kept to special occasions but these days it can be a daily occurrence,” notes Lerwill. “Instead, go back to having cakes or chocolate as treats once or twice a week or at the end of a 10-12 week programme. It’s amazing how much better you’ll feel.
If you want to transform your physique, you need to give it the time to rebuild.
“Sleep is an absolute cornerstone of any physical challenge where you are trying to make big changes to the way you look,” says Warner. And it’s not just about preventing bags under your eyes.
"Aim for eight to nine hours of sleep per night to optimise your ability to get in shape.”