If you have followed the first 2 weeks of the body transformation series than your probably ready to move on. Week one was all about establishing a baseline and foundation (for those new to weight training). Week two introduced the split routine and more overall training demands. The calories at this point were kept slightly below maintenance, with most of the caloric expenditure coming from the increased activity demands.
Now your ready for the remainder your 12 week body transformation prescription. Let’s break it down. . .
During these weeks, you’ll keep the same exercise schedule but steadily increase the exercise demands until you reach a performance peak at the end of week 4. These couple of weeks help prepare you for the more intense endurance activity during weeks 5-8.
During this time, decrease calorie consumption moderately, but not excessively, since severe reduction increases the severity of hunger pangs and introduces the possibility of loss of motivation or eating binges. In addition, and this applies to anyone wanting to lose fat, harsh dieting places the body in a state of alarm (i.e.,starvation). This added strain on the system hinders recovery as the body attempts to cope with low nutrient levels to sustain functioning and to recover from muscular trauma due to exercise.
Your weight training should have progressed to the point you you have reached your tolerable limit. This will make it paramount to make some changes to to our workout structure in the coming weeks.
So to recap Weeks 1-4 body transformation protocol:
- Moderate Aerobics (60-70% MaxHR) for 30-40 minutes on alternate days to the weight training.
- Moderate Calorie reduction (250-300 below maintenance should do the trick).
- Progressive weight training focusing initially on skill acquisition and progressing to reach a tolerance peak.
- Leave only 1 day/week for complete rest and recovery.
Cardiovascular Training and Nutrition
Ok, now it’s time to get serious. Both from an effort perspective and a program design viewpoint. For the next four weeks, divide attention equally between activity and calorie reduction. Decrease endurance activity to 1-3 sessions a week for 12-15 minutes of intense aerobics, which can consist of interval cycling (i.e. steady state, moderate intensity alternated with a high intensity bout).
For example, you can perform moderate intensity aerobics for 90-120 seconds at a heart rate of about 60-70% maximum followed by 30 seconds of an all-out effort sprint, although any repeating combination of similar proportion is appropriate. Some people prefer only 20-second sprints whereas others can tolerate sprints of up to 60 seconds. The possibilities are endless. Just be sure to use a pace that’s suitable for your age fitness level.
These cycles can continue for as long as is tolerable, but most people will find 10-15 minutes total more than sufficient. Because this method is more intense than low to moderate intensity, steady state aerobics, they must be briefer in duration. And although not as many calories are burned during interval cycling, since the duration is so brief, the increase in intensity greatly promotes a high metabolic rate throughout much of the day after exercise, and this encourages more calorie-burning overall.
During these weeks, continue to reduce calories to appropriate and tolerable levels: a reduction which is easier at this point now that the stomach has shrunken somewhat from the initial four weeks of modest calorie reduction.
I should also note that how much aerobic work you do depends on how lean you are to begin with. Very thin people who desire to increase weight should avoid endurance activity and focus on bodybuilding and increasing quality calories above normal levels to support any growth potential. Those wishing to lose weight would of course, follow the guidlines laid out in this post.
Weight training Application
At this point you may find it advantageous to cycle hard and easy weeks and workouts. It is very difficult to keep pushing forward indefinitely as fatigue starts to accumulate and you will start to lose motivation to workout, or worse, end up getting sick. This is an area where you either need competent supervision ( a good trainer) or be very vigilant to your fatigue symptoms.
Whether you employ these tactics depend on many factors like your level of motivation, focus, and confidence during the transformation. Something I have noticed over the years is that even though many people have the same goal ( weight loss or muscle building) , they don’t all possess the same levels of motivation. Those who are highly motivated always get more out of the program but are also the first to reach a plateau or reach a state of premature exhaustion.
To use this system, you could implement easy and hard training protocols on an “every-two-weeks” basis; exercising easy for two weeks, then hard for two weeks before repeating. Or, perhaps, two very hard weeks followed by only one easy week. Or if workouts for the body are divided into 2-3 sessions, pushing only some body parts to the maximum and taking it easy on the other body parts then reversing muscle priority the following week.
In this example, you could exercise chest, biceps and thighs very hard one week, then the following week exercise back, shoulders, and triceps very hard then repeat. Some more experienced individuals may also want to use some advanced techniques like drop sets, rest pause reps, pre/ post fatigue methods among other set and rep variables. There are several possible combinations that must take into consideration, such as your personality, preferences, job/school requirements, tolerance, etc. What will be most evident is that regardless of the initial design plan, events in one’s life will always result in deviation and change.
To summarize this point you may structure your workouts as follows . . .
Odd Numbered Weeks (5-11): Easy weeks consisting of fairly hard exercise, but not 100% mentally or physically demanding.
Even numbered Weeks (6-12): More effort placed on muscle building and optimal system disruption. Workouts consisting of all-out effort, including set variables.
So I hope this will keep some of you busy for a while. I know it’s a lot to take in and you’ll surely need some help along the way. Everyone is different so it’s difficult to give a one-size-fits- all solution. I hope I’ve at least opened your eyes to the amount of planning (and pre-planning) that’s involved when you try to completely transform your body in 12 weeks. Be persistent but listen to your body. If you do things as I laid out for you here, there should be little room for failure during your body transformation.
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