Firefighter Michael Bolton, by nature of his job, is an active guy. But all it takes is a single slip-up to leave any man bedbound for months.
In July 2015, the UK man was running an assault course in Dublin when he slipped and fell on his side. This was all it took to damage his lower spine, causing one of the discs to put pressure on his sciatic nerve. “The pain was unbearable and forced me out of work,” Michael recalls. “I attended physiotherapy sessions with no success. It was clear I was going to need surgery.”
It wasn’t until February 2016 that Michael went under the knife. Although firefighters have a basic level of fitness beyond most office-drones, it takes just two weeks of inactivity for muscle strength to start fading, according to the University of Copenhagen.
Coupled with the gradual weight gain caused by eight months of inactivity, by the time Michael was off the table and into rehabilitation he was carrying more weight and much less muscle. Michael went back to work, but another year passed without exercise. At 103kg, he decided drastic action was needed. After looking around, he opted for a 12-week transformation programme, using a few easy principles to help him shed unwanted poundage.
Michael began to track his macronutrients and get back in the gym again. Keeping track is key: a study in the Journal of the American Diet Association found a significant association between self-monitoring and weight loss. Michael was able to measure and quantify his progress effectively.
HIIT or miss
Michael’s workouts consisted of intense resistance training, finished off with 2 sessions a week of six 500-metre rows and 10 squat thrusters. This mixture of HIIT and resistance training is guaranteed to elevate EPOC, or ‘exercise post-oxygen consumption’. This means Michael’s regime cranked up his metabolism for hours, burning fat long after he left the gym.
Switch it up
Each phase of Michael’s workout introduced different exercises. Stuck in the same old back-and-bis routine as ever? Make like Michael and change the format. The more you struggle to hold perfect form with new exercises, the more muscles are being recruited to help compensate for unfamiliar movements. In short, a change of pace means bigger gains.
After 12 weeks, Michael dropped from 22 per cent body fat to around 8 per cent – a huge achievement. Even more exciting was his weight, as he lost 12kg in 12 weeks to end up at his 91kg best. Understandably, he’s thrilled. “I thought my days of getting in shape were over after my accident,” Michael told us. “Now, I’m in the shape of my life! It clearly proves natural results are possible with the correct guidance and discipline.”
This story originally appeared on Menshealth.co.uk