This is Dave. Dave has just undergone a 12-week transformation phase with us at LIFT. Before we get into the article lets just take a minute and appreciate how good he looks to date and how impressive his transformation is.
Many places use before and after photos to entice the readers into a false perception, which leads them to believe that 12-weeks is all it takes. Before and after’s inspire and motivate which is definitely a good thing but what many don’t document is the actual journey that person has taken and most importantly their training background and experience.
Now to say that Dave took 12-weeks to get in his “current” shape wouldn’t be a lie. However let’s also consider Dave didn’t start training only twelve weeks ago.
Over the past two years Dave has been one of our most consistent trainers. He came to us with a good solid foundation and experience in lifting. During the proceeding 24+ months his training has evolved with both his strength and muscle development significantly improving. Within this time he has also experimented with his nutrition and sourced out advice from us so possesses a good knowledge of nutrition.
Now that we have established Dave didn’t just rock in off the streets twelve weeks ago let’s look at his journey through the twelve weeks and offer an example of the foods he ate, the drinks he drank, the training he did and the stresses of his day.
There are three reasons for this article:
- To demonstrate a flexible approach i.e. not eliminating “any” foods/beverages from the menu cannot only yield great results but it also maintains a sane mind.
- To highlight this is an extreme case. Dave set himself a challenge to test his mettle and get in his best possible shape in twelve weeks.
- To emphasis that, although this case study was over a twelve week period, the true contrivance is time and dedication. Setting unrealistic timeframes could set you up for a fall.
Like every normal person Dave has the stresses that come with life. This is where most people will find excuses and blame everything and everyone instead of accepting the fact life simply gets in the way and we need to find a solution not an excuse.
If we look at a few things that could well of pushed Dave down the excuse route:
- His wife gave birth to their second child – Dave was writing out his food diary while is hospital
- He changed jobs – Dave had to undergo a series of tests and interviews as his job is highly skilled
- He had social gatherings and family get together – Takeaways and alcohol all round. This is when most will either succumb to temptation and binge or completely isolate themselves and avoid social situations.
Instead he decided not to use these as an excuse and instead found solutions for each one.
The foods he ate and the drinks he drank:
Anyone that follows our work will know that we work around flexibility and moderation.
*Note: Flexibility is not a free pass to gorge on junk foods! It is an understanding that there are no bad foods, just excess.
What we don’t do is give out meal plans. Not only is this unlawful, you need to be dietician to prescribe foods, but it simply doesn’t work. Adherence is low and results are poor. Insisting that someone remove certain foods from their diet basically results in them wanting these foods more. It’s the white polar bear effect. Ask someone NOT to think of a white polar bear and what is the first thing that person thinks of?
A white polar bear!
Unless someone has intolerances or issues with certain foods then everything should be on the list. It’s all about creating a balance. By creating a balance the chances of adherence improves dramatically.
Incase you didn’t guess already adherence is key for results.
Getting back to what Dave ate. As we stated earlier we don’t supply meal plans. What we do is educate on the basics, set specific guidelines based on goals, weight, body type and lifestyle and we assess on regular intervals. We gave Dave a, non-exhaustive, list of foods based around the three macronutrients:
He was also given a list of fibre dense foods.
The three main aspects we focus on was:
Calories – determines weight gain/weight loss
Protein – maximizes lean tissue retention/development
Fiber – Besides the many benefits it ensures we are eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains. All of which contain a good amount of essential vitamins and minerals.
*Note: Before we introduced a daily fibre target to Dave his intake of vegetables was very much zero.
Below is a typical day: – Dave was very regimented in his daily food choices but this was entirely his choice and not necessary:
Whey and Greek yoghurt
Oats and berries
Veggies with butter
Dinner – Family meals – Because family time is important.
Chilli, tortilla pizza, sausage and mash etc
Grenade protein bar
Water 3+ liters
Jack Daniels and diet coke or vodka (Friday nights)
Hold the phone! He ate sausages, mashed potatoes, dairy products and drank alcohol and still got in great shape? Yes he did but we set guidelines and coached him how to use flexibility and still enjoy the foods he likes. Dave enjoys a quiet JD & coke on a Friday night so it would make no sense to take this away from him.
For the main part, maintaining a negative energy balance (eating less calories than you expend) is the fundamental aspect to losing weight. Regardless of what angle you play it, maintaining a calorie deficit requires a level of commitment and in some cases sacrifice – remember this is an extreme case.
“The most difficult parts were weekends and social events where further planning was required to ensure my macros were being hit”
Although we implemented a flexible approach there was still no getting away from the fact Dave’s calories were between 500-1000 below his maintenance level. Due to this excessive restriction he needed to make smart choices and plan accordingly – Take home message is that it can be done, it simply takes a little pre-planning and commitment.
“In the first 10 weeks my energy levels weren’t drastically effected but the last 2 weeks were a lot harder. I felt low on energy and motivation however with support form yourselves I managed to continue at the same effort as previous”
A significant fact that is generally not documented in transformation photos is how that person actually felt. Reading between the lines of Dave’s statement it would be a safe bet to assume longevity with this much restriction would be highly unlikely. Energy and motivation are key factors. Once these are compromised, what begins, as a highly motivational goal soon becomes an unpleasant chore.
Longevity is a key player to long-term success. Had he not been concerned on a time frame he could also get in the same shape over a longer period with less sacrifice. In Dave’s case however it worked well as he wanted to test his commitment and see what shape he could get in to within twelve weeks. His measures were purely visual with no numerical influence and a simple focus on looking the best he could within a short timeframe.
Timeframes are essential as it provides an end point it which to work towards, however if these timeframes are unrealistic they can have negative outcomes. Imagine someone weighing in at 200lbs, an outcome goal of 140lbs and twelve weeks it which to do it. It’s just no going to happen. This person is quickly going to lose motivation and become disheartened. A better way would be to apply a long-term goal of a 60lb loss over a 12 month period. This could then be broken down further into 12 weeks blocks with a more realistic weight loss target of 12-15lbs.
Now I bet you are hoping for a detailed regime that is the Holy Grail to fat loss! The best work for fat loss is the one that you do. People spend so much time getting hung up on specifics that they forget what is truly important. The actual doing part.
Dave likes to lift. He likes to deadlift, squat and press and watch the numbers go up on the bar. He also likes high rep isolation (pump) work. So guess what he done? Yep, the stuff he likes. We designed and balanced his program with a combination of the things he likes and the things we needed him to do. However the bulk of his training was doing the things that got him motivated.
“A training regime is only as good as the effort applied to it. Applying 100% effort into an average training plan will yield far better results than applying 70% effort in to an excellent training plan”
There does of course need to be structure and logic. Had Dave said he liked running and doing bicep curls, and that was it, then we may needed to have a compromise. The nature of our training philosophy at LIFT is strength work. This sets the foundation of any goal from performance and aesthetics to rehabilitation and health.
So for the foremost structure it looked something like the following:
Accumulation – 5-15 reps (include drop sets, TUT)
Intensification – 3-8 reps – include HIIT
Accumulation/pump work – 15-20 reps (include drop sets, TUT)
We periodised Dave’s program over 12-weeks. This is not an essential procedure but what it does do is keep things fresh. It also allows us to work across the spectrum of elements that promotes muscle growth. After 4-weeks Dave knew his program would change so the elation of a new program and a new training stimulus inspired his workouts.
This is where many people fail. Their routines are too monotonous and the same. Nothing changes and they become bored. Unless you are a competitive athlete variety is essential, especially when it comes to body composition. Competitive athletes are driven by the goal of performing optimally at their given discipline and must be focused on nothing more than performance. For everyone else we can afford to have a little more flexibility and fun with our workouts. They key here is consistency above all else.
The difference between adequate and remarkable results!
From every rep to every macro Dave was 100% committed. If he missed a session he caught up. If his macros were slightly off one day he adjusted the next. He took the challenge with a focus on the outcome and didn’t make excuses for life’s pitfalls. The difference between adequate and remarkable is most people accept adequate and are unwilling to strive for remarkable.
Before and after photos are a great visual but more often than not don’t relay a true reflection of a persons journey. Many people will rebound with their hard work disappearing faster than the flash of a photograph. Most of our before and after’s are not visual and we prefer to use the term BEFORE and NOW as “after” insinuates the final product.
Point being; find out what is important to you. Whether this is becoming stage ready or shedding a few unwanted pounds of body fat and feeling confident. Be inspired by others but at the same time accept that their journey is not your journey.
The nature of this post was to highlight the point that even in extreme cases i.e. reaching a low body fat percentage; you don’t need to eliminate foods from your diet. A significant aspect of change is mindset with the underlying truth that we need to maintain sanity. Without a level of balance we will simply rebound and resent any limitations that have been set.
In Dave’s case he has tested himself and will probably do so again in time. For now he will look to continue his strength and muscle development journey along with implementing his new found knowledge of flexibility. Maybe we can check in again with Dave in a few months and follow up on his 12-week transformation phase.
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