"Most people overestimate what they can achieve in 12 weeks, and underestimate what they can achieve in a year."
- Cj Swaby
What I'm about to say may be considered controversial, but let me be 100% straight with you. I don't care. Here's the truth, I'm not a big fan of 12 week body transformation programs. I think a lot of them are a disservice and full of crap.
But you and I both know that "body transformation programs" from 28 days to 12 weeks are now the back bone of most personal training or fitness business out there. I'm sure you've seen the adverts on facebook, in magazines or on youtube?
You know the type. Semi-nude before and after pictures chronicling the transformations of men and women. Often accompanied by a scantily clad personal trainer (or coach) claiming that "This could be you!" in 12 weeks, if you just follow their "secret" step by step process, the body (and life) of your dreams could be yours!.... Cue sales pitch.
But have you ever noticed that these programs never show pictures of these people 1 year, 2 years or even 5 years down the line? (I wonder if they managed to sustain that body long term. Hhhmmm...). And could it be that there is more to health than just looking good naked?
These programs often appeal to desperate people who have a suitable dose of self loathing about their bodies, frustrated with lack of progress, or confused by all the misinformation they've been bombarded with through the media (some of which is perpetuated by these very transformation programs). There's an old saying that goes, "A fool and his money are soon parted." Don't be that guy.
Body Transformations: Your Answer To A Perfect Life?
Stop it already.
When you're desperate, it's easy to get sucked in. I've come across too many people who have tried them, not got the results that they were promised, or looked good for about a month or two but then reverted back and got stuck with the old version of themselves that they hated. Some even ended up with more complex health issues. Not a good look if you ask me.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm sure there are a handful of body transformation programs that take into account long term health, which give you the body of your dreams for the long term. But these are often the exception to the rule.
So stay on guard. The picture above is pretty much like those before and after shots you see in 12 week body transformation programs - but with one major difference - it was done over a year, required no secret formula or magic potion.
It didn't even need endless amounts of expensive supplements. Oh, and by the way that picture you see? If you hadn't guessed by now, that's my body.
This second picture is now about 2 years old. Since then I have packed on even more muscle (about 13lbs) and a lot stronger. I used this pictures because I wanted to show you the initial changes that can be achieved realistically within a year.
So how did I do it? What training program did I follow? Was there a specific diet I followed? And what was my calorie intake?
Well I'm going to share that with you.
(Yeah, you're welcome).
It's pretty straight forward. You may even be disappointed at the lack of mysticism and magic formulas. There are no quick fix solutions for long term results.
Who knows, it may even work for you. So now I'm going to show you how I got those paleo muscle gains. Here was the process I went through.
I read The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf, The Ph Miracle by Dr Robert O Young, and Metabolic Typing by William Linz Wolcott. I checked out the research on these (there is a lot of debate around their efficacy but use your judgement). I decided to used the Paleo nutrition principles within a metabolic typing framework, while incorporating key points of The Ph Miracle too to ensure that my nutrition was healthy and sustainable.
In short I eliminated grains, gluten and legumes. I had the odd bit of diary through clotted cream or butter. My nutrition consisted of vegetables, lean grass fed and organic meat (where possible) and responsibly sourced fish. You can grab a copy of the Paleo quick start guide >>here<<.
My macronutrient ratio based on my body type (I'm a mixed type apparently) was 50% carbohydrates (through vegetable sources mainly) 30% protein (lean meats, fish and plant based sources) and 20% fat.
Was I an evangelical paleo convert and did I stick to the diet 100%? No I didn't. But did I use it as my foundation and get solid results? You bet I did!
I used Sunday as my "cooking day" to prepare the majority of my meals for the week. I would eat only 3 times a day. Breakfast like a King, lunch like a pauper, and dinner like my name was Pavarotti.
It was around this time The Fitter Food Cook Book came out, so their recipes featured BIG in my "transformation" process. Why? Because they were quite simply, damn delicious!
Training and nutrition.
Once I got the nutrition plan sorted, it was time to map out my training. It had to be something that I would enjoy, something that I could see consistent progress, and most importantly gave me results.
Dinosaur Training was my port of call. Compound barbell moves. I lifted heavy (80% plus). I lifted 3 times a week. I kept it to no more than 3 main exercises and 2-3 accessory lifts.
After 4 weeks of Dinosaur Training, I would have a de-load week in week 5 (reduced % and sets or have a complete week off training). Then I would then switch to a 3 reps x 10 sets protocol on the compound lifts.
Again I stuck to no more than 2 main lifts within a session. With 2-4 other accessory lifts. Then after 4 weeks I would have a de-load week, then switch back to Dinosaur Training for another 4-6 weeks. I repeated this process for approximately 1 year. Sticking to the same selection of exercises, just rotating the order, reps and sets. The technical term is called periodisation (or organisation of training to you and me).
Now you probably want a training template to stick to right? An example of a program that I did, so that you can copy it? Ok. I'll give you an example of my training program in part 2 of this blog post, but I want you to be clear, it may or may not work for you.
There are a few reasons why. Most of which I go through in part 2 of this blog.
But remember, the key thing is to stick to similar principles but program your training with exercises and reps/set range that meet YOUR training goals. If you are unsure you can always get in touch and get involved in one of my online coaching programs, or find a suitable coach near you.
Read Part 2 >>Here<<
Yours in Strength