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Chris Smyth and Darshane Theara

Chris and Darshane are two muscly peas in a fitness pod. They played rugby, enjoy working out, have suffered shoulder injuries and push themselves to the extremes.

That's why this May [2015], they are planning to take their bodies to the absolute edge all to raise money for the mental health charity, Mind, but more on that later…

Chris and Darshane have competed at various levels of sport throughout their lives. But a series of serious injuries for each of them left both guys questioning their sporting futures once their University years were up.

Chris and Darshane before and after

Without the thrill of training for competition, Chris found himself getting frustrated and slowly watched his body change from a toned full back to a bloated 20 something. Darshane, a self-professed chunky-kid, wished to become more athletic…

Then they discovered CrossFit and the Paleo way of life and their lives changed for good. Not only did they make some great friends but discovered a whole new community to boot.

Within 3-4 months, Chris shredded 15kg and now clocks in at a super lean 85kg; meanwhile Darshane's body fat is so low he'd have no problem stepping foot onto a fitness model competition stage!

Here they talk Paleo, CrossFit, transforming and their positively insane CrossFit challenge…

Training Plan

Day 1:

  • Back Squat
  • 4 sets of 8 @ 70% 1RM

  • Reverse Lunges
  • 80 reps total (40 per leg) - weight by feel Weight should be challenging but allow excellent quality of movement

  • WOD (Workout of the Day)
  • 10min AMRAP (As Many Rounds and Reps and Possible)

    1 round is:
    15 Kettlebell Swings - 24kg
    15 Power Clean - 70kg
    15 Box Jump (24")

Day 2:

  • Olympic Lifting Practice
  • Snatch from Blocks (just below knee)

    % - % of 1RM
    1 set of 5 @ 70%
    1 set of 5 @ 75%
    1 set of 5 @ 80%
    3 sets of 3 @ 85%

  • Snatch Deadlift
  • 5 sets of 3 @ 90% 1RM

  • 10min EMOM #1 (Every Minute on the Minute)
  • Odd Minutes
    Strict Pull Up - 10 reps

    Even Minutes
    Strict Toes to Bar - 10 reps

  • 10min EMOM #2 (Every Minute on the Minute)
  • Odd Minutes
    Strict Ring Dips - 10 reps

    Even Minutes
    Strict Hand Stand Push Up - 10 reps

Day 3

  • Hero WOD - Bull
  • 2 Rounds For Time:

    1 round is:
    200 Double Unders (skipping)
    50 Over-Head Squats - 60Kg
    50 Pull-ups
    1 Mile Run





Chris' Meal Plan

Darshane's Meal Plan

Interview with Chris and Darshane

Let's start off with an easy one, give us a rundown of your sporting history and how you got into CrossFit?

Chris playing rugby

Chris: I've been super competitive since I was a kid - I started playing mini-rugby when I was 4 and basically tried to play as many sports as I could from then on. Through school I mainly focused on Rugby (with some deviations into rowing and athletics), and by the time I was 20 I had represented Ireland at Under 18 level and Ulster at Under 21 level.

From there I went to University and continued to play at a good level, but after a series of shoulder dislocations and a subsequent operation to repair the associated damage, I decided the time was right to look after my body long term and pack it in.

For the next few years I really struggled to get back into sport, I had lost my competitive outlet, and although I tried to spend more time playing golf, tennis, squash etc., I felt myself becoming frustrated at the lack of serious competition these sports provided. What I was craving was high intensity competition, and that's when I was introduced to CrossFit…

Darshane: I was lead into playing Rugby from around the age of 12. I was quite a chunky kid so it suited me well and that was my main sport for many years. My father also started taking me to the hockey club he plays for from my teen years, so I was always around sports despite being far from athletic while growing up.

Darshane Hockey team picture

Those were my 2 main sports up until I finished University in 2011. Being a Physiotherapist, though, I soon learnt that I couldn't continue to play rugby and work. Suffering dislocated shoulders and fingers soon drove me to the conclusion that my Rugby days had to end. I was fortunately able to continue with hockey and general weight training to bring my weight down.

Although I trained in a gym, my focus was always on becoming more athletic so as to become a better hockey player. I was fortunate enough to be introduced to CrossFit by a friend in December 2014, so I started in the New Year and haven't looked back since.

We hear you two are gearing up for a pretty intense CrossFit challenge – care to share?

Darshane:  Intense is definitely a polite description of it…

Chris: [laughs] Basically, we are planning to perform every workout from the CrossFit "Open" from both the inaugural year in 2011, and the 2015 competition, back-to-back.

The high-point in the annual CrossFit calendar is the CrossFit Games, with "the Open" being the first step in the qualification process for the insane few who are good enough to get there.

These workouts are designed to push athletes to their limits of strength, fitness and gymnastic skill, and provide the opportunity to benchmark against people all around the world. What Darsh and I have decided to do (for obvious reasons…) is to challenge ourselves to complete 11 of these workouts back-to-back to help pass a Bank Holiday weekend!

It sounds… Insane… Why are you doing it?

Darshane worked out

Darshane:  What began as 2 idiots jokingly playing tennis with ideas soon became 2 idiots doing all of the workouts back to back... This escalated further to us doing the 2011 and 2015 workouts! We soon realised how unique a challenge this was, so Chris and I decided to use that and raise money for a charity that is close to both of our hearts and one which we feel doesn't always get the recognition it deserves or the work it carries out.

Chris:  Mind do an amazing job promoting mental health and supporting those in need in the UK, and we wanted to show our support for their work in whatever way we could.

What is your favourite thing about CrossFit Vs traditional training?

Darshane:  I've too many!! The main one has to be the impact that CrossFit has on athletic performance. Unlike traditional training methods, CrossFit allows you to work all areas with the constant variety in the exercises, workouts and programming of training plans.

The approach is so blended that you simply can't ignore any weaknesses, you are forced to acknowledge and develop them which I believe is brilliant.

Chris:  For me, CrossFit is a sport and a chance for competition rather than simply a training method, but for many others it provides a great means of staying in shape and improving their overall fitness and body composition.

Favourite / least favourite CrossFit exercises and why?

Chris:  Favourite exercise would probably be clean and jerk - I still have a long way to go technically, but when it appears anywhere in my training, I'm always pretty happy.

Least favourite would have to be a close tie between rowing and burpees – both leave you with absolutely nowhere to hide and no matter how much you train, you know you're in for a bad time and a lot of lactic burn whenever you see them pop up.

Darshane:  Double Unders. I've recently started to get into the flow of these and the feeling of learning, nailing and improving a skill is just addictive as hell!

Least Favourite: Thrusters. They're just evil.

Chris Lifting

Your bodies have obviously transformed since you began CrossFit - if someone was hmming and haaing about undergoing a body transformation - what advice would you give them?

Darshane:  I would always advise that the change HAS to start at home. The saying that "You can't out train a bad diet" has been used to the point of cliché, but it is 100% accurate.

Following that, I would say to just try it and see how you find it. Obviously everyone is different and everyone who is looking to transform themselves will have different goals. I would, however, say that if your goal is to reduce your body fat then CrossFit well worth the time, but patience and perseverance is needed.

Chris:  If I was to drive home 2 key things that have helped me they would be the following;

  1. 1. Take a "before" photo from the day you start your transformation. You look at yourself every-day, and often miss how far you have come in your transformation due to a lack of perspective. Your before photo acts as this perspective, and can really give you the boost you need when you're feeling low

  2. 2. Treat yourself! So you've had a good week training, your diet has been perfect, it's Saturday night and you could kill some junk food… Just do it! If you try to keep a rigid diet 24/7, you'll be more likely to fail.

Chris rowing

What part of your body are you most pleased with?

Chris:  My stomach – I've never really had proper stomach tone, but since I've cleaned up my eating and competing in CrossFit, the change has been ridiculous!

Darshane:  My back which is annoying because I almost never see it!

And the one you think needs a little more work?

Chris:  My stomach!  Although I'm much happier with the aesthetic of how I look, my core stability and strength needs a lot of work.

DarshaneMy Shoulders. I've found that my overhead strength is quite weak making skills such as Handstand push ups a killer!

Darshane, getting to nutrition now… Top three whole foods you simply can't live without?


  • Bacon because… Well, Bacon!
  • Nuts I find are just a great on the go food that keep me motoring especially if I've got a full diary of bookings.
  • Sweet Potato is just a god send! Following a Paleo diet means that Carb sources are quite limited but luckily to have one as versatile and tasty as this just makes life a bit more bearable.

Chris, favourite cheat meal?

Chris:  Pizza!  I always have so much remorse afterwards, but it draws me back every time.

Number 1 foodie weakness?

Darshane &Chris:  Eating out!  We love food, and we love good food better.  We're lucky, though; there are lots of places to go out and eat clean/Paleo so we never have to fall off the wagon when we're too tired to cook.

Darshane, in your opinion, how important is diet in maintaining a transformed physique?

I don't buy into the whole cutting and bulking ethos. I'm not saying that it doesn't work, I've a good friend who is a natural bodybuilder and for him, it has helped him dramatically. But in a sport such as CrossFit, the extra weight would make gymnastic skills impossible, whereas a harsh calorie deficit will impact your strength and fitness.

For me, eating consistently has really helped me no end.

Chris, how do you keep your cravings in check?

I always make sure I have healthy snacks with me, whether in work or in my gym bag.  At that stage, if I get the urge for something (usually out of boredom…) I have something I know I can have.

Do you take any supplements? If so what do you take and why? If not, why not?

MuscleFood supplements Darshane:  Being on the run most of the day I use a Whey protein for convenience and immediately post workout to begin the repair process. Other than that, I tend to try and eat as much good quality food as possible.

Chris:  I always get food into me as soon as I get back from the gym, so I don't tend to worry too much about taking any protein powders.  I generally only tend to take Amino Acids to help me through the workout and reduce muscle soreness afterwards.

Top 5 songs you HAVE to have on your workout playlist?

Chris:  I'm a big rock fan, so I like a bit of heavy - I tend to mix and match my playlists quite a bit, but a big 5 at the moment are:

  • System of a Down - Old School Hollywood
  • Hell is for Heroes - Night Vision
  • Limp Bizkit - Break Stuff
  • Papa Roach - Infest
  • Blink 182 - Easy Target

Darshane: My music taste is ridiculously eclectic, as you will see:

  • Alex Clare - Too Close
  • Jay Z - Public Service Announcement
  • Kanye - Stronger
  • AC/DC - Thunderstruck
  • Feeder - Buck Rogers

Biggest non-food related guilty pleasure?

Darshane: Disney Films… Specifically Aladdin! Loved it since I was young!

Chris:  Sleep.  I can't explain how much I love sleep and bed.  If left to my own devices I'd spend most of my time in there.

When you've completed this challenge, what do you aim to achieve next?

Chris: I've got a few smaller competitions booked so I'll be competing in those to keep up the competitive edge of things, so that's the short term plan.  The long-term goal is to push to qualify for CrossFit Games regionals – this is a goal spanning a couple of years but it's something I have the drive to push for.

At the end of the day, I want to see how far the body I've been given can take me, and in my eyes, that is going to be the best possible test.

Darshane:  I've signed up for a competition that I will immediately have my sights on following May 23rd. After that the long term goal is to improve my ranking in next year's CrossFit Open and fingers crossed to compete at regionals in the next 3 years.

They are definitely big goals and ones which some may say I am foolish to even think about, but I don't believe that anything is impossible. At the end of the day, I know that I've got the drive to keep pushing myself on and that I am fortunate to call Chris a friend. The good thing about having him as a gym buddy is that he will never let me let up and similarly I won't let him.

Both of us have our sights set high and who knows, if all goes to plan, hopefully people will be hearing about us a little bit more in the future.

Chris and Darshane rowing

Muscle Food Final Thoughts

Every transformation story featured on Muscle Food outlines that a good diet and a good workout plan are essential to achieving the results you desire. All transformation stories, exercise routines and diet plans are provided by the customer and have not been checked by a nutritionist or doctor. Results may vary for different individuals.