Here's an idea worth considering.
Don't be taken in by those body transformation programs. Why? I'm not going to cover old ground. Check out part 1 of Paleo Muscle Gains: How To Do It. It will pretty much set you right.
So what is part 2 about?
It's straight forward. We'll go deeper, and like I promised, I'll give you a real life example of one of my very own training cycles. But before I do that, remember how I said that cookie cutter templates are often laden with BS?
And that the nutrition strategy and training program I used, while obviously got results for me, may not in fact work for you? (if you didn't catch that bit, make sure you read part 1 again before going on any further).
I don't want you to be fooled by any questionable science some of these transformation programs and special diets preach. So I called in some heavy artillery in the form of Dr Ragnar to clear up any shody science for you.
Together we're a bit like The Expendables. Just a lot less of us. Equally as buff. And a bit more Britishness.
You can find out more about Dr Ragnar on his website >>here<< which is an invaluable resource. And yes. He's a real Doctor. Not like some of those fake ass health guru's you see on TV. He studied at Oxford University no less.
I asked him 5 critical questions that you really need to know.
The things that you would be smart in considering if you want to do things your own way, or even entertaining one of those 28 day or 12 week body transformation programs.
But lets take a closer look at those questions I asked, and Dr Ragnar's insightful response....
1)What are the pitfalls of diets such as Metabolic Typing, Paleo, and The Ph Miracle?
"What most people don't realise when they're being sold a particular diet or nutrition plan is that:
a) The evidence for many diets is nowhere near as good as their proponents would have you believe.
b) There is often very little evidence for one diet being better than another.
The paleo diet, for example, is based largely on evolutionary theory, as well as the following observations:
To truly show that paleo is the best way to eat, we would need huge clinical trials with millions of people with different diseases and different genetic backgrounds. This is never going to happen. However, we now have hundreds of thousands of individual success stories from those eating "paleo', and these shouldn't be ignored (though most doctors are trying to).
I am a huge fan of the paleo diet as a starting point, but not all of the theory necessarily applies to everyone. For instance, well cooked and prepared legumes (beans, peas, pulses) have only been shown to be beneficial for health. High fat, high quality dairy is also a nutritional powerhouse that many people will benefit from.
This is the main drawback of many of these styles of eating - the risk of eliminating many food groups that may be beneficial to your health. I've seen people on the paleo diet who eat nothing but bacon, steak, and the occasional vegetable. I don't think this is an optimally healthy or sustainable way to eat.
Metabolic typing diets are also based on very little overall evidence, with minimal data from controlled trials in humans. The pH approach (acid/alkaline foods and focusing on minimising acid in the body) doesn't even fit with basic human physiology. However, all of these diets can have huge benefit for people, because they have these things in common:
Can you see why a "cookie cutter" approach is flawed? I'm sure you'll agree that with no one definitive "diet program" providing all the answers to our health needs, all that conflicting information out there can be confusing.
Ok, but you know friends and family who have lost a bucket load of weight and look good on these body transformation programs?
Yep. I get that.
But that doesn't mean they are healthy, and what about the long term effects? Now here's something else to take into consideration..
2) Where "cookie cutter" Body Transformations can go wrong..
"Any coach, doctor, nutritionist or certified bro scientist that recommends the same nutritional approach for all their patients or clients does not understand human biochemistry.
Firstly, your starting disease state will determine how your body responds to a change in diet, particularly in relation to macronutrient (especially carbohydrate) intake, as well as any additional mineral or micronutrient that you may need to focus on.
Secondly, your genetics determine 20-30% of your response as well. [READ that line again people!]
There are specific common genetic changes that will alter your response to carbs or fat or protein. This doesn't mean that everybody needs a DNA test before they start a new programme, but I'd recommend that people start with a basic template, and then use the necessary time to adjust based on how their body responds. They may also choose to regularly have a basic blood lipid (cholesterol, triglycerides etc) or similar test at the same time, which will provide most of the necessary data to adjust things".
Interesting right? So what I'm leading up to is this.
3) There are other factors that come into play. I asked Dr Ragnar to expand on what some of those important factors might be...
"In order to ever make a true, long-term improvement, you need to focus on health first and performance or aesthetic goals second. Gains can always be made by ignoring health in the short-term, and many people choose to do that, but they should know the long-term risks.
This is particularly important in two broad scenarios:
If you're recovering from an injury, you need to eat more. Many people think they'll lose all their hard-earned benefits if they eat too much during a period when they can't train. The same can be said for those going through a deload period in their training cycle. Having a broken leg requires the same number of extra calories as going to the gym every day. You need to eat to recover.
If you have a chronic illness, the extra stress of training can often be huge shock to the system. The more ill you are to begin with, the stricter you will need to be in terms of how well you eat, and the kinder you have to be to yourself when looking for improvements. You may not see the weight drop off immediately, but if you sleep better, and have a bit more energy during the work day, these are things to be celebrated at the start of your journey."
Got it? To be perfectly honest I had another agenda as well when writing this.
Over the last few years I've seen a cluster fuck of body transformation programs based on supplements and nasty ass shakes.
I asked Dr Ragnar,
4) Why transformation programs based on supplements can be considered "BS"?
"People need to make a living, and many honest people make a living selling potentially beneficial supplements and nutrients. However, when the livelihood of somebody is based on how many boxes of meal replacement shakes they can sell you, you should at least be wary.
Programmes such as Herbalife have not been tested against diets based on real food and they won't be, because there is no benefit to the company in risking the credibility of their product. Just look at the ingredients of a chocolate Herbalife shake and see how many ingredients you actually recognise. I don't own a farm, but I want people to eat more vegetables, and some high quality meat and dairy. And my way lets you eat steak."
Now Herbal life is an easy target. And I am sure there are other similar companies out there, touting Body Transformation programs based on supplements and shakes.
5) I pushed Dr Ragnar for his opinion about those transformation programs based on calorie restriction?
"Every single study to date has that has used dramatic calorie restriction to induce weight loss has shown that, over the next few months, this weight will be regained, and usually with extra fat to go with it. With each cycle of weight loss and weight re-gain it becomes harder to lose the weight next time and weight (fat) is regained faster.
This is easily understandable if you think about the things that the body is trying to do based on a million years of evolutionary physiology.
When you restrict calories, you use up both muscle and fat to feed yourself. When you start eating again (which you will), you will gain proportionally more fat than muscle.
This is because the body becomes more efficient at storing fat in the face of starvation, and the body is purposefully laying down extra fat (rather than metabolically "expensive" muscle) in preparation for the next time you try to lose weight by starving yourself.
Men tend to fare better in the face of calorie restriction (or intermittent fasting), because they traditionally had to be able to function when their tanks were empty, in order to continue to hunt and forage for food. Though these gender boundaries have thankfully disappeared in many modern societies, the physiology stays the same. In women, the stress of calorie restriction (say a 1,200 calorie per day diet) and excessive exercise lead to:
Though intermittent fasting and calorie restriction have their place in various scenarios, an intense starvation/exercise regimen in men over more than a few days will cause:
What's the point in looking ripped if certain parts of your anatomy don't work properly?
[Cj's Translation: Lads are you less "Woody" and more "Stay Puft Mashmallow man?].
They say that training for an Ironman is the best possible contraception, and erectile dysfunction is a big part of that. Do yourself a favour - skip that extra training session, get a big meal in and get some sleep."
Fortunately for you and me, there is a better way to change the way your body looks, get those long term sustainable gains, and be healthy without having to break the bank with expensive supplements.
Now before I go into detail about the training, I wanted to share with you Dr Ragnar's "Top 5 Tips For Getting Your Shit Together"
(Those were my exact words - not his by the way) Why? Because everybody loves a list right?
Top 5 Tips For Getting Your Shit Together.
Simple right? Now I know some of you will be bitching about removing processed foods and the like. The way I look at it is this.
You don't have to do it. If you like the results that you are getting crack on. If you don't. Then stop.
I invite you to change your approach.
Commitment is doing the things you don't want to, because it gets you the results that you do want.
It is not just a one off act or declaration. It's written in your day to day deeds.
So I have a question for you?
How committed are you, to YOU?
Look, If you try it out for 6 months minimum and don't get good results. Your body's a mess and you're still miserable as fuck, I'll give you your money back guaranteed.
Oh but wait.
You didn't pay for this.
So stop with the complaining already!
As writer Michael Pollan suggests, "Eat real food." Yes. It's as simple as that.
Now on to the training, and as I said it was pretty straight forward.
Dinosaur Training Cycle
Deadlift 5 x 5 reps
Bench 5 x 5 reps
Barbell Curls 3 x 12 reps
Standing Press 3 x 10 reps
Power Cleans 5 x 5
Back Squat 5 x 5
Bent Over Rows 3 x 12 reps
Weighted Dips 3 x 10 reps
Incline Bench 5 x 5
Weighted Pull Ups 5 x 5
Leg Press 3 x 10 reps
Barbell Curls 3 x 12 reps
Dumbell Windmills 5 x 5
I told you. Stupidly simple right?
With the 5 x 5 I used the first three sets as my warm up sets. Then the final two sets as my working set. The following week I would then aim to do two warm up sets and three working sets. The week after I would add weight to the bar.
I would then drop back to three warm up sets and two working sets. Then repeat the process until it was time to test and switch to the 10 x 3 protocol. [For details on cycling these methods read part 1 of this blog]
For this I would simply use the same exercises, but do 10 sets x 3 reps with the main exercises. So in the above example Monday's session would look like this,
Deadlift 3 reps x 10 sets
Bench Press 3 reps x 10 sets
Barbell Curl 12 reps x 3 sets
Standing Press 10 reps x 3 sets
Remember as I stated in part 1 of this blog post. This may or may not work for you. For the less conditioned person or novice, this may be far too much volume (total amount of weight lifted in a session) for others it may provide the correct stimulus that you need.
The only way to know is to test it for yourself and record the results. If you have more specific questions on this, you can hit me up >>here<<.
I hope you found this useful, and remember, don't be fooled by quick fix solutions of these body transformation programs. What they don't tell you is that sometimes, you've just got to work hard for it.
Yours in strength