What does it really take to complete a Body Transformation? Part 3: Training
Part 3 of 3
So to ensure we are all on the same page in Part 1 we covered the vital importance of attaining the right Mindset before embarking on a body and lifestyle transformation. Then in Part 2 we explained what it takes in the Nutrition department to create a healthier, leaner more muscular version of your self.
In this final chapter, we look at training and what it takes on the gym floor to completely transform your body. Again like the mindset and Nutrition element the training aspect of completing a body transformation is very often underestimated.
The first problem I would like to highlight is that many people think they can just get and follow a program and that this will lead them to the body of their dreams. They see someone else who has completed a body transformation or who is in great shape and they instantly think 'shit I wonder what they've been doing, give me their program'.
Here at CTS, we have countless individuals who ask for just a program. They believe a program will be the answer to their lifelong battle of staying in shape and simply following a sequence of exercises for a specific number of sets and reps will lead them to the body of their dreams.
What these people don’t understand that although yes the programming is very important, I believe it comes in second or third place the amount of effort that is willing to be put into the program and training.
Say for instance you give a new trainee a program and they decide to go through the motions, they use moderate weights that aren’t overly challenging, they don’t express full range of motion due to lack of mobility or insufficient warm up. They don’t stick to tempos and rest periods.
Furthermore the situation described above can sometimes be a best case scenario as many trainees wouldn’t even understand the program and therefore cannot activate the correct muscles when doing particular exercise because they don’t even understand what muscle they are tying to train, which could possibly lead to injury but will most definitely lead to the client being underwhelmed with the improvement.
Now, you have the same trainee that trains with a coach doing the exact same program. The coach helps ensure that the weight is correct for every set, so the rep range used is a challenge every time and they really feel every single rep.
The coach pushes the client to get into better positions and asks more of every muscle fiber, every rep.
The coach counts their tempos to ensure adequate time under tension so the trainee is training the correct strength quality for the given goal.
Finally the coach ensures their rest periods are stuck to precisely so the client isn’t over resting and not getting the metabolic response they are after or under resting and not recovering effectively between sets, again changing the stimulus.
Do you think this person would get the same results from these two situations?
I don’t think so…
Below I will list the fundamental steps you should take, so you can start training to transform your body and lifestyle.
Step One: Find yourself a coach or Mentor.
Whether you are experienced in the gym and have been training for 10 years, or you have never set foot into a gym or trained with weights before I would recommend hiring a coach to mentor you along the process, keep you accountable and allow you to learn.
Find yourself a coach with a proven track record that has visible results with other people just like you. Look for a coach that has proof, that other clients of theirs have transformed their bodies and are now where you want to be. This coach must have results with clients! Not just themselves, they can be ripped and jacked as hell, but if they cannot get results with their clients this doesn’t mean shit.
If you are a beginner I would highly recommend you commit to doing 1on1 personal training with a coach, as they will be able to guide you every step of the way and this may save you years of trial and error.
If your coach doesn’t concentrate on nutrition and just worries about flogging you in the gym, ditch them straight away.
If you are experienced and capable of training and pushing yourself in the gym, I would still recommend arranging 1on1 coaching maybe once times per week. This will allow you to learn new exercises, fix any bad habits you have developed over the years and be pushed to where you cannot push yourself. Who knows, maybe you aren’t as knowledgeable as you think you are and you learn a boatload of new training techniques and methods.
If budget is an issue, maybe opt for online programming which will be more affordable and generally includes email communication, Skype consults and the ability to send videos of your lifts in to have them critiqued.
Either way if you select the right coach you will be surprised with the amount of extra effort you will put into a program if you are paying for it every week.
Step 2: Put yourself in the right environment
If you’re a young guy who wants to get jacked and your gym is full of old ladies doing pelvic floor exercises and glute bridges and they don’t allow you to use chalk, drop weights or make noise, maybe its time to think about changing gyms.
Put yourself in an environment where people are better than you. Maybe they are stronger, smarter, leaner, more muscular, have greater flexibility, fitter, faster, train harder what ever it is, get amongst those people and soak it up.
If you are constantly in an environment where the people around you are training harder than you, they are lifting more weight then you, they are using better technique than you then this will help lift you up to their level.
Step 3: Learn, Learn and learn some more. (Never stop learning)
You become what you learn.
Now before I go any further, I just want to state that there is a huge difference from going from fat to relatively lean and going from fat to shredded.
If you’re male, fat to relatively lean might mean going from 25% body fat to 12% body fat.
If you are female this may mean going from 30% body fat to 20% body fat.
Getting shredded however means males, you will need to get down into single digit body fat, ideally around 6-8% and females you will want to be around the low to mid teens.
Yes, you can go from fat to kind of lean, training in a group setting, or just exercising 4-5 times per week and eating well.
But to get to ripped, is where you need to take a much more focused approach to training, where each phase or block of training builds upon the last and you must understand or hire someone that understands how to program and periodize your training towards your goals.
First of all you hopefully already understand that you cannot train for fat loss year round. This will lead to a plateau in results, and you will get to a point where you cannot get the fat to budge until you change something.
Here is where a periodized approach and training different strength qualities comes in. A 24-week plan leading up to a competition or photo shoot could look something like this:
Phase 1: Hypertrophy (10 – 12 reps)
This first phase could have a focus on building structural balance and providing the foundations for future phases to build upon. This will also result in improved body composition due to the higher repetitions and shorter rest periods.
Phase 2: Functional Hypertrophy (6-8 reps)
Here the focus is on developing strength while gaining functional muscle mass, and example program could be a 5 x 5 program.
Phase 3: Hypertrophy (8 to 10 reps)
Here the focus is on building muscle tissue, while maintaining the strength built in phase 2.
Phase 4: Relative Strength (3-5 reps)
Here the main focus will be on building neural strength, or building strength without changing body comp, allowing us to use more load and create a greater training effect in later phases. Strongman finishers or separate conditioning sessions can be used here to keep the fat loss coming.
Phase 5: Strength Endurance (12 to 15 reps)
Here the main focus is on improving body composition, extended set methods like drop sets, partial reps, forced reps, super sets etc. could be used here.
Phase 6: Strength Endurance (12 to 15++reps)
This final phase would focus on losing the final bits of body fat. A program utilizing Giant Sets would work well here.
Now that you understand that you cannot train for fat loss year round and that doing the same routine week in, week out won’t lead to the results you’re after its time to learn the different mechanisms of muscle growth.
These mechanisms are:
Damage caused to a muscle fiber as a result of targeted training. Each time you train with weights your are causing thousands of little micro tears in the muscle tissues, where afterwards when in the correct environment they will heal larger and stronger than before.
The build up of metabolites such as lactate, will lead to a hypertrophy response. This metabolic stress is also very important for fat-loss.
Overloading the muscle with load. Using a greater weight then the last time you trained, causing the muscle to generate a larger force.
This is what most male trainee’s love, and it is what is known as the pump. The muscle cells see this pump as a threat to the integrity of the cell, so they therefore respond by strengthening their structure.
Now when writing programs for a client focusing on body composition these mechanisms should always be taken into account.
You may have programs that hit all these factors in the same program, starting the day off with big compound lifts where the goal is to get more weight on the bar, this will create muscular tension. This may be followed by some exercises utilizing slow eccentrics where muscle damage will occur. Following this there could be drop-sets, iso-holds or partial reps added in to create metabolic stress which will in turn lead to cell swelling.
The above would describe how a typical hypertrophy session might look, but obviously this isn’t going to happen in every phase of training described above.
So in summary to transform your physique you need to:
- Find your self a coach or mentor with proven results
- Put your self in an environment what will push you to improve
- Learn and apply.
Now hopefully you have a clearer idea that training to completely transform your body is fucking hard! It requires a huge amount of effort, determination, persistence and consistency.
It can be done.
And I can guarantee that no matter how hard it gets, once you do get to your desired end point where your abs are showing, you're turning heads, you feel amazing, you're stronger and fitter than ever before it will all be worth it and you would gladly do it all again in a heartbeat.