As my close friends and frequent readers will know, last May I signed up for an online training and coaching program with the aim of putting on as much lean body mass as possible in 12 months. The program, run by Precision Nutrition, is a year of dedication, hard work and serious volumes of food and I have gone through the exact in’s and out’s of how the program works in a previous post which can be accessed here.
The program ended last Friday and I’ve taken a few days to review and reflect the progress I’ve made since the last post before putting pen to paper. As I had mentioned in the previous summary, I was just one week into the final phase of the program which was concentrating on leaning out. This differed greatly from the previous parts of the program, which cared little about the levels of fat gain, and involved a serious change in direction of diet and training. For ten weeks my exercise and nutrition consisted of the following changes:
- Morning power walks for 30 minutes, six times a week
- Four high intensity strength training days in the gym
- 20 Minute long incline treadmill power walks after each strength training session
- Three 30 minute long interval sessions a week, consisting of 15 minute incline treadmill sprints followed by 15 minutes worth of prowler pushing
- Reimplementation of Intermittent fasting, whereby I removed my breakfast completely and replaced lunch with only a small snack of nuts or lean meat
- Complete removal of carbohydrates other than those from green vegetables such as broccoli and leeks
- Reduction of “Super Shakes” from 500-600 Calorie drinks to a simple 100 calorie protein shake
Overall, this part of the program was tough, but thankfully I am quite good at dietary restriction when there’s a reason behind it, and as such found it to be easier than others. However as the days and weeks continued on the lack of a life, the lack of recovery time catching up on me and the posing practice for the upcoming photo shoot did make the entire thing quite mentally draining. Keeping the head down and knuckling through it was only made easier by the results that were coming in.
In the “bulking” phase I had made a gain of 15 Kg overall and was quite happy with that progress. During the 10 week leaning out phase I managed to lose 10 Kg of that gain. Although this make me considerably leaner, I was still a little bit off where I wanted to be, but again, overall I was ecstatic with the level of progress I had made in those 10 short weeks. To say S2B gets the “bulking” job done is definitely true. The guys over in Canada really have thought the program through as a whole, know their market and apply the knowledge they have very effectively.
The pinnacle of these 10 weeks was a “Peak week” process which involved even more extreme diet modification to strip water from the body and make me “photo shoot ready”. It would be this photo shoot which would mark the start of the final phase of the program, Life after S2B. The main aim of this was to reflect on the hard work and dedication put in by everyone over the last year, whilst also learning how to go forward without the support structure offered by PN and apply the skills we learned throughout the program. It was during this reflection period that we talked about and discussed what we thought of the program on the forums and discussed what direction we were going to head next after this program finished. Along with this the finalists of the program were announced, and although they were heavily populated with people from my coaches group, including the overall $10,000 winner, I was not one of them.
When I initially signed up for S2B, although I didn’t do it with the aim of being a finalist, the fact that there were winners was a major selling point. My training, health and nutrition is something I take so seriously, something that only a select few of my close friends really understand, that actually achieving something that others could instantly appreciate and understand without me needing to explain the physical and mental reasons governing it is something that I really thought was cool. Along with this, I knew it would help me prove to myself that I’m no longer a small fat little kid and am an intelligent, healthy adult who know’s his shit when it comes to training and what to do.
I knew the program would push me to places I would not have been comfortable going before. Carrying excessive levels of fat since I lost it all a few years ago, shaving my chest and legs, getting a fake spray tan and even posing in front of a complete stranger. Before the program, the thought of doing all these drove me to a cold sweat and embarrassed the hell out of me. Despite going to the gym and training well, to me I looked like I never went to the gym at all. I felt small and anything but “Brawny”, and winning this would have just been the justification and external gratification I needed to change that.
Over the course of the year however, things were happening that were making this become a reality before the program was even coming to an end. The little wins I was making in the gym, the progress I was seeing with my lifts, the comments I was getting on my growth, they all helped to reshape that mental image I had of myself. So much so, that when the time came to shave my chest and legs, head down to the salon and get the spray tan and then go and strut my stuff in front of the camera, I not only wasn’t scared or nervous, but I was actually excited to go and see what the new experiences would be like. My own mental image of who I am and what my body looks like had grown so much, all those things that I was dreading before, I genuinely enjoyed every second off.
Throughout the course of the program, aside from missing two days worth of habits and workouts over christmas I was 100% compliant on all workouts, habits and lessons. I had been active on the forums and tried to help others as much as I could. I had followed all directions given to me and I had done my utmost to prepare for the photo shoot. I had left no stone unturned and left nothing in the tank. Before the winners had been announced, I was still hopeful that I would be a finalist, and to say I wasn’t disappointed when I realised I wasn’t one would be a lie. I was. I still am. I would have loved to be a finalist and there is no denying that.
However, because of the fact I worked my ass off, didn’t wimp out on anything and gave it absolutely everything I had, I am still extremely proud of what I have achieved. I can look back over my effort knowing full well that I could not have done any more, and for that, I am proud as punch. Now, a few days later, I really have realised just how much I have achieved. Yes I have become better at cooking, nutrition and eating, I’ve become smarter with my training and I’ve added to the experience I hold. These are not to be underrated and I know that these will be great tools to hold going forward with my life. However, the changes this program have made to my personality, confidence in my abilities and demeanor have made this program worth every penny I paid for it. I may not have won, but I am sure I’ve gone from Scrawny to Brawny!