There were days when she would dance around celebrating PB’s (personal bests) and there were days where she would aggressively dump her weights and swear at me during the session.
Below is a case study of some of the nutritional methods and training phases we went through to achieve the best results we could in 8 weeks.
Gabs body fat on the 15th of May was 20.4% and weighed in at 62.3kg’s. After taking her BioSignature measurements her priority sites were her supra-illiac (love handles), an indicator of poor carb management, hamstrings, the ability to efficiently detox toxins out of her body and umbillical (stomach), which is a measure of cortisol, the stress hormone.
The initial plan was to lean up and improve her body composition by summer, December 1. The first thing that I had to be clear with was that I didn’t care about her weight and that it was more a case of dropping fat in stubborn areas and gaining lean muscle.
My first nutritional instruction to Gabby was:
“You need to eat more animal meat, start with 500g weighed raw everyday and have fibrous vegetables at every meal”.
This simple instruction and goal would help Gabby’s priorities by:
- Protein at every meal helps lower the GI-load of a meal, meaning she’ll have more stable energy levels and whatever she eats won’t get converted to fat as fast.
- Good quality sources of animal meat contain nutrients, and when broken down, amino acids that are essential for supporting phase 1 of detoxification and the fibrous vegetables would support phase 2 of detoxification.
- Ensure that she’s nourishing her body enough to support the weight training programs we were going through. This would minimise stress and help build lean muscle. Fibrous vegetables would also help her body eliminate toxins which are a stressor on the body.
When people first get into transforming their body they want to exercise more and eat less. This leaves their body under nourished and sooner or later their body will cave in and go:
“Hey you! You’re not feeding me enough food, I’m under stress and I can’t recover. I’m now going to go on a binge….”
Any form of exercises, where it be yoga, running or weight training is a stress on the body, breaking muscle tissue down. When the body is under stress your body produces more cortisol, to produce cortisol your body also depletes natural sex hormones like testosterone which is essential for fat loss, building lean muscle and even mental drive. In functional health they call this the “cortisol steal”.
Giving Gabby a simple enough goal was enough to ensure she would recover from her workouts, but also build new lean muscle to get stronger. Every week she got stronger she was more determined and motivated to keep training. There were plenty of times I had to play it cool and act like I wasn’t impressed when she was hitting PB’s.
I remember in Gabby’s first training session where she complained that she had weak arms. I think she was lifting 4–5kg DB’s on a Flat DB Press exercise.
“Oh my arms are so weak.. WHY? I have strong legs but my arms…”
She wasn’t joking and I nodded my head in agreement. Her lower body strength was far more superior than her upper body so the first month we focused on two whole body workouts, training them twice a week. It was a modified german body composition program. She alternated between a lower body and upper body exercise and focused a lot of mind to muscle connection with implementing time under tension (TUT) controlling the weight in the eccentric/lowering phase of the exercise and firing it up at a super fast pace.
Moving weights from A-B with no conscious time under tension implemented is simply not training. For example 1 set of 10 reps of any exercise performed at a fast pace with no control can be completed in say 10–15 seconds. 1 rep taking 1 second to complete x 10 reps = Muscles being under tension for 10 seconds. Compared to 1 set of 10 reps of any exercise performed with a 4 second eccentric phase. 1 rep taking 4 seconds to complete x 10reps = 40 seconds time under tension. This translates to a greater metabolic response, causing your body to work harder if you’re doing it with the right weight.
Gabby learning the movement patterns and implementing TUT in her sets allowed her to get stronger and improve her upper body strength. If it didn’t improve her progress no doubt would have stalled and moving onto more complex exercises like a Barbell Back Squat or Deadlift she wouldn’t of been able to lift as much as she could within the given rep ranges on leg exercises because her upper body wouldn’t of been able to support or handle the load.
In later training phases it was all about getting stronger. After every 4 week training block I’d taper down the rep ranges so she could lift heavier weight, switch up the exercises to further strengthen any weaknesses so she didn’t plateau. Her second months program was a 4-day split training 2 body parts a day in the 10–12 rep ranges and her third months program was a strength based 5X5 program lifting heavier weight but for more sets with the aim of activating and firing even more muscle fibres which would give her a leaner and firmer muscle.
Planning Her Program with the End Goal in Mind
Her next program will be back to a hypertrophy, fat loss and conditioning phase. Why? Because in the past 3 months Gabby has gotten stronger, fitter and leaner. Leading up to summer having an additional 2–3 months to work with we’ve got new tools to break plateau’s with. Going back to a 10–12 or 12–15 rep range she’d be able to lift heavier than the 4–5kg DB’s she started off with at the start.
A funny story… I train Gabby at 7am in the morning. Usually she comes in pretty chirpy and does her little wiggle wiggle dance when she hits a PB. One morning during her low carb phase and nutritional cleanse she came in looking totally monstrous! She’d been following the nutritional guidance and training program but that day she came in absolutely flat, I think we did like 2 sets of her first exercise and I stretched her out for the rest of the session. I knew what was going on and I said to her after our session.
“Gab when you get home, smash down a bowl of oats with berries. I want you to have it every night the day before you weight train and carbs with your meal after training”.
She was a “carb-type” and I knew that from the very start when I took her BioSignature. Her sub-scap (back) a genetic marker for carb tolerance was around 11–10mm. Basically the lower the skin fold you have on that site the more you can tolerate carbs and your body will actually use them for energy more efficiently then fats.
Gabby’s body obviously responded to gluten free carbs very well. It didn’t initially… but after a phase of going low carb her muscle cells became very efficient to taking in the nutrients from carbs. The next couple of days she was back to feeling amazing, looking leaner (carbs filled out her muscles giving her a tighter look around her skin) and smashing her workouts.
Knowing full well that Gabby was carb tolerant I still wanted her to be more insulin sensitive then what she started off at. It would allow her to eat more carbs to get leaner in the long run. We also planned cheat meals once or twice a week to fit in with her goals.
Whether it be fat loss or muscle building you want to be insulin sensitive rather than insulin resistant. If your muscle cells can’t take up the nutrients from carbs then they’ll simply be converted to fat. Insulin resistance happens when you over consume carbs and you muscle are like “Hey man, go somewhere else… I’m full.” Then they go to your fat cells.
The primary basis of Gabby’s nutrition is being a healthy person eating food that can be either hunted, gathered, fished or plucked. Paleo if you want to call it that with gluten free carbs. Her macro nutrient targets changed as her body composition and training phases changed. For example at the start it was high protein, high fat and low carb. As time went on her fats reduced as we increased her carbs on training days. On training days where there was more volume (more reps and sets) then she would eat more to accompany that training day.
I’m grateful to train a lot of focused clients like Gabby. One of my biggest achievements is not only helping her get into the best shape of her life but seeing how empowered she is of her lifestyle.
It’s not a surprise to see her training hard on her own but also motivating other girls around the gym and on her social media pages to stay focused on their health and fitness goals.
Ready to finally achieve your goals in a healthy and specIfic way that’s tailored for you? Book in a consultation today. What you learn and achieve with us you keep for life.