12 weeks may seem like a long time to dedicate yourself to a fitness and nutrition plan, but in reality it’s a very short space of time to transform your body. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible but it requires a lot of hard work and discipline.
Unlike any fad diets, what I have outlined below and what we at Ultimate Performance Personal Training advocate requires a lifestyle change. There’s no such thing as an excuse in my book, the majority of the people we train have demanding, stressful jobs or large families. We teach our customers how to get out of bad habits and how to start building a better more healthy routine.
Frequency of training: train at least 3 times a week, if you can 4 or 5 times, but make sure to have at least one day completely off from training.
Prioritise weight training: weight train with big compound movements, making sure you train your entire body, especially the legs. If you want a break from that then interval train instead. For the best results prioritise weight training over cardio.
Mix it up: work in a variety of rep ranges, so you give your body a reason to hold on to that strength and muscle whilst in a caloric deficit. People tend to lose strength when dieting but if you keep lifting heavy weights you will help maintain as much muscle tissue as possible.
Resting whilst training: try to keep your rest periods short between exercises, 1-3 minutes should be enough, if you’re lifting lighter weights with a high rep range then you should only need a minute rest. Time your rest periods as well, people generally estimate very poorly.
Keep your training volume high: try and get through lots of sets in your workout to maximise your performance and work density (this is related to the tip above).
Performance indicators: focus on improving exercises that involve using your body weight, such as dips and chin ups; these should provide a good indicator of body composition improvement.
Keep goals: performance (as well as aesthetic) goals are important in boosting your motivation and sustaining interest in your programme.
Monitor progress: keep a log of your training to make sure you’re constantly monitoring and making progress. Looking back over it can remind you how far you’ve come and help you maintain motivation to continue.
Interval train: interval training, if you can recover sufficiently, is an effective fat burning method. Sprints are a simple option – but make sure to warm up properly.
Walk: if time permits add a 30-60 minute walk at some point during the day, it may seem like a long time but an average commute in London amounts to a one hour walk.
Keep constantly active: walk around as much as possible, get off the tube a stop or two early, walk to see a colleague rather than emailing. Aim for 10,000 steps a day. This tip and the above should help with the overall lifestyle change needed to transform your physique.
Try some ‘modified strongman’ training: strongman training limits eccentric damage but still has the positive benefits of resistance training. It is also very time efficient and will give you a break from traditional weight training.
Train with someone else: training with a partner improves motivation and performance, whether that is with a friend or a personal trainer. A PT is obviously the better option because they are educated in fitness and exercise.
If you have 12 weeks to transform your physique, make sure you pick the right starting calories. This is very individual, but the key is not to start too low that you have nowhere to regress after. A good starting point may be 12 kcal per pound of bodyweight. There should be a calorie deficit.
Focus on hitting your protein targets daily. For men, 1-1.2g per pound is a good starting point, for women, 0.8-1g per pound. Splitting this up into 4 to 6 meals will keep you satiated throughout your diet and make hitting the target a lot easier.
Focus your diet on ‘clean’ food choices. If this sounds complicated, pick food which only has one ingredient on the list. If a sauce lists ingredients you can’t even pronounce, don’t buy it.
For most people, limiting carbohydrates works great for fat loss. It also makes adherence a lot easier as it tends to be easier to control calories when following a low carb diet. You need to deserve your carbs, so the leaner you get, the more you can typically handle!
An example of a daily eating plan (note this is a general example, the quantity that should be eaten is specific to the person):
Breakfast: Smoked Salmon, scrambled egg white
Snack: Whey Protein, Almond Butter
Lunch: Chicken and Avocado Salad
Snack: Greek Yogurt and Blueberries
Dinner: Lean Red Meat and Green Veggies
Nick Mitchell is the founder of Ultimate Performance, the only international personal training business in the world, and is widely recognised as one of the world’s leading personal trainers and body composition experts. He is the author of the Amazon UK bestselling (top 100 of all book sales in Amazon UK for 2013) “12 Week Body Plan” and the kindle hit “The Six Week Muscle Plan”. His latest book “Your Ultimate Body Transformation Plan” will be published by Harper Collins in January 2016.
He is now based in Marbella where he manages the global UP business that currently has gyms in London (City and Mayfair), Manchester, Marbella, Hong Kong, Singapore and Seoul. UP plans to open at least 6 more gyms within the next 18 months, with a second Hong Kong gym and one in Glasgow in late 2015. Others locations include LA, Dubai and Tokyo that are already earmarked / in negotiations.