Ime Bassey is a mechanical engineering student at the University of Surrey. When he isn’t pulling all nighters and struggling with word counts like the rest of us, he has built himself into a fitness role-model, competing in competitions, offering meal and training plans as well as representing a sports apparel company. I decided to approach Ime and ask him not only about his own experiences but also to answer some of the fitness questions many students are asking.
/ Molly Miles
First of all, what drove you to weightlifting?
I started lifting the summer before I arrived at university just like a lot of guys I wanted look good and in shape for fresher’s week and just first year in general to be honest. I met my gym partner and one my best friends now Mario Ghafari during fresher’s week on a night out and we trained together the next day. During the summer, I mostly did cardio and light weight training I never performed compound movements like squats or deadlifts till Mario showed me how to and since then i learnt a lot of other things from him and started doing some research myself. Seeing how rapid my body was changing, my love for the sport grew and it almost became or let’s say has become an addiction. I’ve also in my journey looked up to my uncle Silvio Samuel who is an ex-Olympian and has various enormous achievements in the industry.
What are your greatest achievements/ what do you want to achieve in the future?
I recently stepped on stage for my first ever fitness competition which I didn’t place because I was too muscular for the men’s physique category according to the judges but, for me, this was a huge achievement to be able to do that at the age of 21 after just under 2 years of proper training. I have also started my own company 3Fitness (Target – Train – Transform) to help people all over the world achieve their fitness goals. My long term goal is to be a motivation, promote fitness, health and Wellbeing and help people all round the world achieve their fitness goals. Stepping on stage is only a little part of this journey but I would like to be competing in the near future among top athletes in the Mr. Olympia and Arnold Classic competitions.
What is your regime/ diet?
Well my regime or diet depends on what I am trying to achieve at the time. For instance, during my off-season my diet is pretty flexible and I can enjoy a couple cheat meals in a week without deviating from the goal of just putting on muscle mass but on-season, this is when the goal is to get shredded, my diet is usually very strict. In terms of meals, I tend to eat somewhere between 5 to 7 meals a day. I train every day of the week using a split training strategy to target effective training and recovery of every muscle group. During my on-season I also train 2 times a day (fasted cardio and abs first thing when I get up and weight training later on in the day.)
Has University helped or hindered your goals, why?
University has played a huge role in my fitness story so far. I was awarded the chancellor’s scholarship on arrival to the university which came with £3000 and a free gym membership till I graduate. I invested some of the money on gym equipment, supplements and food for my dieting. I have also been able to motivate and help a lot of people in the university achieve their fitness goals. I am currently in two minds about entering the next competition I planned to in July because during the examination period, I could not train effectively, get enough rest and even my diet fell apart so I’m still prepping and I will see where I’m at one week to the competition before I enter for it. So I guess the university has been of huge help but also there are times I know I would have been better off if I wasn’t in university but hey I’m here so I’m make the most of it.
What are your favourite/ most hated exercises?
Hmmm my favourite exercises has to between squats, bench press and deadlifts; Well squats I would say I mean who doesn’t love a good booty. Just kidding! Squatting is one my strongest lifts; deep squatting 210Kg for a rep at my strongest even though this doesn’t compare to my heaviest deadlift of 240Kg, I just love a good leg pump. I love looking good but the satisfaction I get from overcoming the obstacle of a heavy weight is out of this world. Hence why all exercises that allow me to go very heavy are my favourites. Wouldn’t say I hate any exercises but my least favourite thing to do in the gym is cardio maybe because I struggle with it but I have to do it during on-season to shred up. I don’t know, it’s just cardio is long and I guess doing it first thing when you wake up can also be annoying but I love the satisfaction of being soaked in sweat after cardio; tells me my body is working and fat is getting burnt.
What supplements do you use?
Various, again this depends on what I’m trying to achieve really at any given time. My staple supplements are MyProtein Impact Isolate Whey Protein, Evogen EVP Plus Pre-Workout, Evogen Aminoject, Evogen Cell-K.E.M and Daily Vitamins.
Your favourite cheat meal?
That’s a very hard one. Hmm I mean I mostly order from Domino’s Pizza but that’s just for convenience to be honest. It’s so hard because I’m such a foodie so I also try a lot of things for my cheat meals. I’m also of a Nigerian background so I take a cheat day whenever I go back home for a weekend to enjoy my mum’s delicious african cooking. I don’t know, I can keep going; nandos, creams, harvester, TGIF honestly I don’t think I have one.
Here are some of the questions that students have sent in…
“What is the quickest way to lose belly fat?”
You can’t target fat loss in a certain area otherwise known as spot reduction (losing fat in one spot); it is not possible and doing endless amounts of crunches will not make you lose fat from the belly. My advice would be clean up your diet, stay away from sugary foods, monitor and restrict your daily carbohydrate intake, on the other hand also Increase your protein consumption and perform aerobic exercises (like walking, running, swimming, etc.) or HIIT workouts in the gym or even at the convenience of your personal space.
“I am very busy with my degree and work, how do I find time to exercise?”
Time management and planning
“I can’t afford a gym membership, what can I do?”
Oh there is so much that can be done without a gym membership. Truth is, about 67% of gym memberships are never used anyway, and that truth is beginning to find mainstream awareness. There are so many ways out there to keep fit without spending a dime or breaking the bank. A few I can recommend would be bodyweight exercises which are really the core of working out, Running outside will forever be more refreshing than running on a treadmill, Integrated outdoor workout equipment to public parks are the latest innovation to encourage fitness, home, Garage or personal space workout instructional videos are also within a click on YouTube nowadays, Join a calisthenics club for free or watch videos online and learn and last but not least invest in basic equipment like a pair of dumbbells, pull-up bar etc which you can fit in to your house and use at your convenience.
“I have no willpower, how can I keep motivated?”
Set yourself goals and give yourself a time frame to achieve them. Reward yourself when you achieve each of them. Another trick that works with the reward method is deprive yourself of something you really like to eat or like to do and only make it a reward when you achieve maybe say a goal of losing 1Kg or something else.
“Eating clean is expensive, how can I afford a good diet?”
Personally, I’m a bargain hunter when it comes to my dieting and I buy my food in bulk which helps me save money in the long run. Also don’t be afraid of store brands such as Tesco value etc. as sometimes the difference between them and branded products are just the prices and names. Also explore other options and find what suits you best; food items tend to be cheaper in once a week markets or at the butchers compared to supermarkets. Try searching online for online food deals you may not easily come across in store. I recommend keeping an eye on www.musclefood.com although can be expensive sometimes and delivery charges, if you are buying in bulk they have some good deals sometimes and deliver for free over a certain amount has been spent.
“Fitness clothing and accessories are also expensive, what can I do?”
Again it’s all about bargain hunting or keeping an eye out for the discount periods. Subscribe to emails to get deals sent to you. Also make good use of sponsored athlete discount codes to get reasonable discount on fitness clothing and accessories sold by their sponsors. You will generally find this in our bios on social media or in our social media posts. Mine is IM3FIT10 which gives you a discount on all items sold by my sponsors Athletic Apparel on www.athleticapparel.co.uk
“I don’t like fruits and vegetables, how can I get them into my diet without hating food”
There are various recipes online that make these much more enjoyable to eat, find one you like.
“How often/long do I have to exercise each week to make a difference?”
Efficiency is the key. How good your workout is matters the most not too much how long it is. Know and plan what to do in the gym or for your workout/exercise and set a time frame to it. Working with a plan within a time frame keeps your workout efficient and most importantly if weight training engage and actually work the muscles don’t just throw numbers up, keep good form and this includes bodyweight exercises. Saying that, don’t spend your whole day in the gym or working out, your body needs to recover and try not to work the body too much to avoid injury. I could easily say go and workout for a certain amount of time but does a one-size-fits-all prescription really make sense? Answer is no, so keep it reasonable and goal-focused. I normally do weight training for an hour and thirty minutes as this normally adequate but then again this depends on what set and rep ranges I am doing and how many exercises so can sometime take an hour or two. So like I said it depends. Five days a week of keeping active be it weight training or whatever is a good amount I would suggest for an average person trying to get fit or stay fit but then again this still depends on what you want to achieve.
Finally, do you have any final words, or any advice you want to leave the students with?
A good diet and consistency is key, no shortcuts.
This article was first published in June 2016 on thestagsurrey.co.uk, the official website for the magazine of the students of the University of Surrey.