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Getting into Great Shape the EASY Way


Posted June 13, 2014 by

There is a lot of bullshit out there when it comes to revealing the truth behind how people get into top condition . People featured on the covers of magazines who are airbrushed to hell, fitness stars who are taking a boat load of drugs and who try to make out they are clean and how they got into peak condition from taking certain special supplements (who they are sponsored by).  There are also people who believe that you have to eat boring and that you can not enjoy food and drink whilst still getting yourself into a very lean condition. The truth is how ever much different……. the past 8 weeks I have been getting myself into possibly the best shape I have been in for quite a few years and here I will tell the TRUTH as to how I achieved this without turning into a social recluse!!!

1. Every weekend I had 1-2 cheat meals and enjoyed alcohol on 1-2 days (this did not mean I got smashed, more like a few drinks with a meal type drinking). On these days I would eat less the rest of the day to compensate for this and would also try and make sure that I trained on these days to make use of the extra calories, they where however much higher carb days than they where supposed to be. On these days I also ate healthy for the rest of the day but I would eat some foods that were different to what I had during the week, this was for the sake of variety and a mental break from the regimented set foods I ate during the week.

2. I made sure that my training programme was constructed so that my heaviest/toughest days came after I had eaten more calories on the weekend . This meant that I was taking advantage of the extra calories to help maintain/gain strength during a period of reduced calorie intake.

3. Monday to Friday I ate religiously clean, every day I would eat the same foods.  Here is what I ate on these days : >

Breakfast : fresh lemon squeezed in water. 5whole eggs scrambled (don’t be an egg white only dick) with a strong black coffee and a scoop of coconut oil (this is what I had before training – 1hr before)

3/4 of the way through a training session I would have a post workout drink called afterglow.  This is around 200 calories and supplies 30 grams of carbs and 25grams of protein with an array of ingredients designed to speed up recovery, taking it towards the end of a session meant that my recovery started early and I did not flag in the last part of my workout.

30 mins after the above and after the workout had finished I would have 500 millilitres of pure pineapple juice with 1 scoop of whey protein.

1 hour after the pineapple I would have Mexican rice with green vegetables and salmon.

2-3 hrs later, almonds and a whey protein drink.

2-3 hrs later baked potato with peri peri spiced chicken breast and green vegetables with 1 tablespoon of olive oil

2-3 hrs later almonds and either 1 scoop of protein / or a chicken breast

4. Looking at the above you can see that during and post exercise I utilised large amounts of carbohydrates to aid recovery , this came in the form of afterglow and pineapple juice and was the only time I utilised faster digesting carbs, then I had Mexican rice an hour later. The rest of the day it would be protein and higher fats or moderate carbs, protein and fats together. Before bed was always protein and fat such as almonds and a protein drink.

5. Weight Training wise I continued to lift heavy weights and aimed to get stronger, I had 2 heavy days (1 for upper and 1 for lower body) and 2 days of more higher repetition work with lighter weights (1 upper and 1 lower). I maintained strength really well and despite going from 13st 10lb to 13st 2lb I was still able to deadlift 230kg for multiple reps and decline dumbbell pause press 48kg for multiple reps. As fat loss was a goal during this period I utilised higher rep sets of push ups / inverted rows, kettle-bell squats, kettle-bell swings and farmers walks to provide a big metabolic hit at the END of the weight training sessions. I also utilised training twice in one day on upper body work out days, for example I would do heavy presses and rows in the morning and then lighter higher rep work for smaller muscle groups such as arms and rear delts /upper back in the late afternoon – these were performed with short rest periods and in a circuit fashion such as:

A1 – banded face pulls x 15 reps
A2 – banded triceps push downs x 15
A3 – dumbbell preacher curls x 10 reps

This again provided me with a nice metabolic hit and the second session was over in 30 mins and was not too taxing . It also meant that I was fresh to hit the smaller muscle groups rather than just tag on a few token gesture sets at the end of the morning session. Training twice in one day is also a great way to train if you are trying to add muscle mass as the rest between morning and afternoon sessions is enough to recover and recuperate but not too long to allow muscle soreness to set in. I would not advise twice daily lower body work however as this can smash your nervous system unless you do something lighter / less CNS intensive in the afternoon such as weighted sled work .

6. I did cardio twice per week but this was done to aid with recovery from my intense weight training sessions rather than hammer my nervous system. I did my conditioning utilising Tempo style sprints on an exercise bike (this will please big Gaz Fairhurst) utilising 20 seconds of work – 40 seconds active rest for 15 minutes. I used the bike as it causes no muscle pain in the days after so is perfect for what I was after, if I had the option I would of used a prowler as this has all the benefits of the bike and more. I have used metabolic conditioning circuits before but have found that during periods of intense weight training and calorie reduction they can really fuck you up and just destroy your CNS thus effecting your weight training sessions. I prefer to weight train MORE and use finishers during my weight training sessions such as high rep kettle-bell swings.

7. This one is an important one – I kept myself in good condition ALL YEAR so when it came to getting into great shape I only had a relatively small amount of weight to lose . Those people who like to think their OFF SEASON GAINS are 2 stone of mostly muscle soon discover that underneath that bulk is a different story. Having to lose a lot of weight to get into decent nick is a longer more painful process I can assure you, and it usually results in far more muscle and strength loss!!! Keep yourself relatively lean and you will still add muscle, gain strength and look good all year round instead of looking like shit for 10 months every year!!

8. Before I started the 8 weeks I made a few changes to ensure that I had enough of a calorie deficit to lose weight slowly, as I eat healthy all year round this was only a small adjustment to make. I then monitored my weight through out the 8 weeks making small adjustments when needed. The foods mentioned above is the lowest amount I ate in all the 8 weeks and was what I had for the last 2-3 weeks. Remember the goal of a sensible eating plan during a fat loss phase is to eat the MOST amount of food possible whilst losing body fat. In the early stages I was consuming x 2 meal replacement drinks which I replaced with almonds, this meant that I was reducing carb intake and increasing fat intake with 300-500 calories less approx consumed per day. It is worth noting that I am NOT an advocate of LOW carb diets or a PALEO cult member I am more an advocate of healthy eating to maximise performance, health and physique goals and understand that eating plans just like training plans are very very individual. It is also worth noting that I have got into just as good condition using different eating plans that contain higher levels of carbs and lower levels of fats. This time round I wanted to experiment with higher fat intake , I found that one of the biggest benefits was feeling of fullness and also mental focus and clarity. Higher fats really seem to improve my brain function (I fucking need this) and so make my working day more productive with less energy ups and downs.

9. I use a few factors to assess whether my eating plan is working for me:

- My performance in the gym such as strength and recovery
– General feelings during the day such as mood and energy levels
– How hungry I feel ( you should never be starving and I certainly wasn’t )
– Assessment using mirror and scales
– Enjoyment of foods eaten – I actually enjoy the foods I eat so it is not hard to stick to a healthy eating plan, most people will crumble if they follow an eating plan with foods they do not like .

10. I used the same supplements that I use pretty much all year round:

- Vitamin D3
– Vitamin B complex
– Fish oil
– Creatine
– Zinc and Magnesium
– Afterglow (recovery drink loaded with glutamine, BCAA, protein, carbs etc)
– Oat gain meal replacement (this was taken in the early stages and was then phased out)

Most of the supplements I take are geared towards improved health and well being with a knock on effect to helping improve performance and recovery in the gym. I never take fat burners and in my own experience have found that most people who prioritise fat burners usually do so because they are trying to make up for poor eating and training habits . Fat burners can also have a profound negative effect on the nervous system especially during periods of reduced calorie intake and hard training, I much prefer a simple strong coffee before I train rather than any fat burner or pre workout drink.

I was pleased with the results of my 8 weeks of hard work and I would be lying if I said it was easy as there where days where tiredness would set in but dedication and following a plan will take you a long way if you are prepared to work hard and make a few sacrifices . I wanted to get myself into really good shape with out giving up the things I enjoy such as eating out and having a few relaxing drinks and I feel I achieved this . I also wanted to ensure that during the whole process my strength levels held up well and I was particularly pleased with how this worked out. Hopefully this will show people that following an approach like this can allow you to get into your best shape without having to make TOO MANY sacrifices to your lifestyle and indeed the things you enjoy doing .

Paul O'Brien

Paul O'Brien
My passion is health and fitness and I am lucky enough to have a job that is my passion. I train people to get fitter, stronger, improve body composition and also to bulletproof their body from any potential injuries by working on improving core strength, mobility/flexibility and soft tissue work . I am committed to continually improve my knowledge in the field of strength and conditioning and have learned from many of the best strength and conditioning coaches in the world. I aim to set examples to my own clients by practising what I preach and and after 18 years of serious training I am always still looking to improve.”


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