SHOCK AND SORE
I shouldn’t be shocked. But I am. You see, it’s been a while since I’ve trained like this. Up until two years ago, I played competitive sports year-round. Surfboat rowing in summer, rugby in winter, and plenty of high-intensity weights in-between. But since starting full-time work, my training program has dwindled to one or two half-arsed sessions each week.
So, after one week of brutally intense HIIT sessions in which my heart rate nudges 192bpm, I shouldn’t be shocked at how feeble I feel. But I am.
After six sessions with my trainer, Mark McGuinness, I can barely walk, let alone stretch or foam roll. And I’m so weak! I can’t even bench more than 60 kilograms – my former warm-up weight.
I have a sore ego to go with my sore muscles. In fact, you could say I’ve been stung into action.
COLD, HARD STEEL
At the beginning of the challenge, I imagined myself channeling Forrest Gump and incessantly pounding the pavement to shed kilos. It comes as quite a surprise, in week three, when McGuinness advises me that we’ll now be turning to iron to move the jiggle from my middle. While we still throw in a HIIT circuit at the end of each session, it’s compound movements targeting my legs, back, chest and arms that now comprise the bulk of my training.
The reason, McGuiness explains, is that overdoing the cardio will result in too much muscle loss. The solution is to move weights with minimal rest.
Thanks to my Magellan heart-rate monitor, McGuinness is able to determine just how much rest I need. We spend a lot of time working on my legs and back, the two biggest muscle groups, and over the 6-8 sets I perform on each exercise, my heart-rate rarely drops below 100bpm. That figure translates to enough sweat for me to enter a wet T-shirt competition.
CLEAN AND LEAN
If there was one part of this challenge I was dreading, it was the diet. I pictured myself miserably chewing through mounds of lettuce and tuna, six times a day for 10 weeks. Once again, I was wrong.
The key is preparation. It’s surprisingly easy to eat clean during the week thanks to my Sunday afternoon “prep sesh”. I’m regularly making chicken salads, filled with leafy greens and other low-carb vegetables, but I’m also mixing things up. Between salmon, chicken and steak, there are plenty of fast and easy recipes out there. Nearly all of my meals are low-carb; however, sweet potato or a lean-meat wrap serve as a good source of energy before or after sessions. By eating small portions often, I rarely feel sluggish or inhibited, while my metabolism is firing on all cylinders.
PUSH FOR PBs
It’s week eight and the finish line is in sight. We’re on track with an average weight loss of 1.2kg each week, and I’m feeling far stronger and fitter than I was six weeks earlier.
I stack weights on a barbell for what seems like my thousandth leg day. I pump out 15 reps at 80kg on the deadlift, working up a solid sweat. I rack another 10 on each side, and punch out another three reps. As I prepare for the next set, McGuinness shakes his head. “We’re going heavier,” he says, before racking another 15kg on each side for a total of 130kg, a new PB. After psyching myself up, I muster every ounce of strength to lift the bar off the ground. To my surprise, it’s easier than I expected and I actually manage a second rep. McGuinness adds another 10kg on each side. My heart rate is high, my legs are shaking; nerves or fatigue, I don’t know. I set the bar. It’s a struggle. My whole body is shaking and my legs are burning, but, slowly, the bar rises and I manage one proper rep of 150kg.
Yet again I’ve been proven wrong: I never thought you could shed so much weight while gaining so much strength.
A total weight loss of 13kg! I actually lost 1.5kg of muscle around my trunk, but I’m told that I will most likely regain that immediately after consuming carbs. I’m thrilled, not just because of the weight loss, but because it was a surprisingly enjoyable 10 weeks where I don’t feel I had to sacrifice too much. Yes, we trained every day and I had to miss a few drinking sessions, but aside from the final few days where I totally eliminated carbs, I found the entire program sustainable.
It goes to show you don’t need a miracle diet or impossible workout regimen to drop weight fast. Rather, find a nutrition plan you can stick to and spend each lunch break working up a sweat, and the body you want is within your grasp.
LIFT AND LOSE
Use Grant’s conditioning circuit to lop lard from your waistline.
Barbell Back Squat (drop reps, increase weights)
1 set x 12 reps
1 set x 8 reps
2 set x 6 reps
2 set x failure
Deadlift (drop reps, increase weights)
1 set x 15 reps
2 set x 10 reps
2 set x 6 reps
1 set x 3 reps
Horizontal Single-Leg Press
4 sets x 6 reps each leg
Metabolic circuit (for time)
60 x battle rope (each arm)
20 x medicine-ball slams
25 x barbell punch-out (each arm)
500m on rower
DAY ON A PLATE
Breakfast: Two poached eggs
Mid-morning snack: Double-shot espresso, small portion of chicken and leafy greens salad and sweet potato/pumpkin
Pre-Workout: 400ml water with PROFESSIONAL WHEY BCAAs, L-carnitine
Workout: 600ml water with PROFESSIONAL WHEY BCAAs
Lunch: Chicken and salad wrap, lean blend protein shake
Mid-Afternoon snack: Banana, espresso
4pm: Small portion of chicken and leafy greens salad and sweet potato/pumpkin
Dinner: Steak, chicken or salmon with big salad