From six eggs for breakfast, to two hours of gym work on an evening. The life of a bodybuilder is a disciplined one.
Ian Porritt flew the flag for Hartlepool in the Mr Universe competition.
And he took time out of his busy schedule to tell Mail reporter Dominic Shaw, about the experience and what sacrifices have to be made to reach the top.
"It is hard work, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
"I would never stop training, I could never just go home after work and sit and do nothing," said Mr Universe competitor Ian Porritt.
For most, dragging yourself out of bed at 4.30am, getting through an 11-hour shift at work, and then hitting the gym for two hours of heavy lifting would seem a daunting and quite unthinkable task.
For Ian, it is his daily routine – and he wouldn't change a thing.
"There are sacrifices that you obviously have to make," the 42-year old told Mail2.
"But they are worth it, especially when you get the buzz of competing and standing up there with the other lads."
Hard in the middle of a Saturday morning routine in Ellwoods fitness world, where Ian can take of advice from five-time Mr Universe Eddy Ellwood, the full-time steel manufacturer is putting himself through the pain barrier yet again as he builds up the training load after a brief festive break.
Ian enjoyed the finest season of his career last year, finishing third at the Northern Championships, sixth at the British Championships and earning his right of passage to the Mr Universe competition.
"That was just an unbelievable experience," said Ian as he looked back on reaching the Mr Universe contest.
"To stand on stage, look across and think you are alongside some of the world's very best is incredible.
"And it makes you even more motivated to succeed."
After speaking to Ian for half an hour, it's obvious that scaling the heights as a bodybuilder isn't just about lifting heavy weights and drinking protein shakes.
Gruelling cardiovascular sessions mixed with a disciplined diet means the workload is like that of a full-time job.
"It becomes a way of life," said Ian, who lives in Elwick Road, in Hartlepool, with his wife, Julie, 40, and 11-year old son, Ethan.
"Some of the lads at work ask me why I do it, and whether I actually enjoy it, but I've never really known life without training.
"I started going to the gym when I was 16, so it's something I have always been used to.
"When I first started I was actually into kickboxing and kept that going for a while, so I think if I ever did have to stop the bodybuilding I would go back to that.
"Bodybuilding is very strong in Hartlepool. Steve Wright qualified for the Mr Universe event as well last year but unfortunately had to miss out with injury, and there were a few other lads who weren't far away at all and are in with a real chance of making it this year.
"And obviously it's inspiring when you look at what Eddy (Ellwood) has done in the past.
"It makes you realise what is possible with a lot of hard work.
"To come into the gym and see the photo of Eddy with Arnold Schwarzenegger, what's more motivating than that?"
Ian is unsure of his exact plans this year, but said matching his achievements of last time out would mark another successful season.
"I don't know for sure which events I am going to compete in.
"I have a couple of niggling injuries at the minute, so I need to try and shake them off.
"And then there's the expense to think about, it all adds up when you are having to travel to different events and pay for all of the protein you need to take in.
"But that's part and parcel of the game.
"I would like to compete in the Mr England competition later this year, and if I got through to the Universe contest again, I would be in a better position thanks to the experience I gained last year."
From rising before dawn, to getting back home after 7pm, it's a gruelling daily routine for Ian.
In the build up to competition, the bodybuilder will wake up at 4.30am and have six eggs and some baby rice for breakfast.
He will then have four meals of chicken throughout the day as well as a couple of protein shakes to make sure he is in tip-top condition.
And it isn't cheap.
"I usually go and buy my chicken in bulk to last me a couple of weeks." said Ian.
"It costs me around 50 every few weeks, so it can get quite expensive."
Ian hits the gym every night after working a full shift at Expamet, in Hartlepool.
"I obviously go in and lift weights but I have to maintain the cardio work as well." he added.
"The intense dieting really starts from around 16-18 weeks before competition."