I was sitting on my lunch break and came across an article in a health magazine about a 12 week program turning the average Joe into what resembled a Spartan warrior. If you don’t know what I mean, he looked a little like the late Andy Whitfield pictured below.
You see these success stories all the time in health and fitness magazines so I quickly dismissed it, but as I began to flick through the pages I noticed a picture of a well renowned personal trainer. Suddenly intrigued, I turned back the pages and gave it another look over. The program was effectively a resistance training regime aided by a ‘biosignature’ targeted diet and supplement program. I’ll get into what biosignature modulation is in a later post. It aimed to build lean muscle mass while melting away fat to reveal that hidden 6-pack.
I’m a smallish guy with a pudgy gut and arms and legs that resemble toothpicks. As I approach graduation day I find myself having to really decide where the next step of my career takes me. After years of studying sport and exercise science it’s about time I actually walked the walk.. ..right?
It wasn’t until weeks later when I came across this concept of biosignature modulation again that I really started to delve into it. Equipped with a fresh approach to training/diet, I began to plan my own ’12 week’ program.
Yes, I know it’s a 100 day challenge and 12 weeks makes 84 days!! You see, once upon a time I decided to go on a ‘booze ban’ for 100 days and it so happened that a good friend’s 21st birthday fell on day 99.. ..the image below speaks a thousand words.
Seeing as part of my diet would be abstinence from alcohol and I was already holding out for 84 days.. why not make it an even 100?? Feel free to ridicule me if I fall short again!
So rule no.1 is set.. NO ALCOHOL! “It’s not too bad having a beer here and there,” I hear you mummer.. Sure! However, my goals, like my predecessor, is to build lean muscle mass and decrease body fat %. Why build up? Why not just do cardio and diet? Firstly, I HATE running. My track days are well and truly behind me and the other methods bore me senselessly. Cardio is great for burning away calories, but also can have a negative impact on lean muscle mass if not planned correctly with a good diet.. Have you ever thought to compare the physiques of marathon runners and sprinters? In short, you don’t use it, you lose it! Plus, long term gains of lean muscle can lead to benefits such as:
- Increased metabolism
- Easier weight (body fat) management
- Improved health and greater resistance to chronic health conditions such as diabetes, CVD (cardiovascular disease) and arthritis.
- Increased bone density
- Increased self-esteem
- Enhanced physical performance
Increased Metabolism? Decreased Body Fat %?
Think of your muscles as engines. Which engine will suck more petrol, a large 6.0L V8 SUV or a 1.1L 3 cyl hatch? Your muscles are the same, the bigger they are in mass, the more energy they demand. So at rest you’ll already be burning more calories. I don’t know about you but that’s definitely more appealing than running 3-4 days a week.
Back to the Rules..
So, no alcohol and a resistance training based program. In order to shred body fat at a great rate I’ll need an energy deficit. That is, burn more calories than I’m taking in. This is relatively simple BUT I have to ensure that I’m not depriving myself of essential micro-nutrients and I have enough energy to complete my workouts! So what I eat has to be nutrient dense and crammed with protein to feed these inflating biceps.. ..and alcohol is neither nutrient dense, nor protein. So effectively I’ll be gorging on steaks, chicken, fish and vegetables! No this won’t be a carb-free diet.. VEGETABLES ARE CARBS! I know you were thinking it!! There will be oats and grains added, I’ll need my fibre and extra carbohydrates to keep me going. I will be monitoring my output using BodyMedia and intake using MyFitnessPal, both of which I’ll write about down the track.
By closely monitoring my diet I’ll be able to keep track of whether I’m getting enough micro- and macro-nutrients (Vitamins/minerals & protein/carb/fat). Fats, like protein and carbohydrates are essential for the diet. What do you think your cell walls are made of? Oh and while on the topic, there is such a thing as ‘good cholesterol’. So next time you’re thinking about picking out the egg yolk just remember that’s where almost all the vitamins and minerals are. Like with everything else though, only in moderation so if you plan to scoff down 10 eggs in a day well I can forgive you for picking out some yolks.
Now, don’t get me wrong it’ll be incredibly difficult trying to eat with so much discipline. It can become boring and repetitive. So I will maintain a strict diet for the first 6 weeks before relaxing it for a day here and there with cheat days just so I don’t go insane. The hardest part then will be to stick to the good stuff after getting the taste of a juicy burger and chips back! If you can manage without any comfort foods then I tip my hat off to you. For me.. I’ll reward myself if I’m getting results so long as I’m getting my quota of essential nutrients for the rest of the day/week. After my first 6 weeks I’ll check the progress and mix things up! Just to get a good idea of how diet affects weight loss and performance I’ll do a little experiment of 2 weeks of very average eating without getting too silly (Still avoid rubbish take-away) and see how the body responds. Of course I can tell you now that I’ll plateau but it’ll be good to see how I feel while trying to maintain my training loads. I have an idea about what I want to do with the diet from then on.. You’ll just have to check in to find out!
To get the most out of training a little boost won’t go astray to increase training performance and aid in recovery. Backing up training sessions will be tough so this is where the diet and supplement boosts will help.
A protein loaded diet will help but around the training sessions my muscle fibres will be experiencing serious trauma and will need protein synthesised STAT! The most effective and popular way, a protein shake. Whey protein isolate shakes are the ideal as they are rapidly absorbed and have the highest biological value (proportion of absorbed protein). BCAA’s (branched chain amino acids) have also shown to be popular and come as powders or capsules. However, they don’t come with the array of vitamins and minerals that protein powders do so are best suited as a companion supplement. Other supplements I’ve been eyeing off are creatine and beta-alanine. I’ll post about these in the supplement section along with other supps flooding the market.
I’ve set some guidelines, no alcohol, plenty of meat and veg (and any other nutrient dense foods), a cocktail of supplements, plenty of water, a training program broken into cycles and last but not least.. REST! Do not underplay the importance of recovery. As well as ensuring an adequate diet, sleep is vitally important. 8-9 hours a night, maintaining consistent sleep/wake times and minimising disturbances while asleep. ie no TV :’(
Finally before I start I’ll be logging body mass, fat % etc as well as photograph the progress.. What if I make no progress? Scary prospect seeing as I’m promoting this publicly… surely that’s motivation enough..
If not, I can always turn to this video..