As some of you may or may not know, Yard Athletics recently performed a body transformation challenge. Sam Shaw and I challenged our clients to see how much weight they could lose or gain (depending on their goals). Sam and myself had 1 month to complete the challenge, our clients had 2. So here you have it, my one month crash course on attempting to lose as much weight as possible while maintaining my strength. I will cover my training program, diet, nutrition and supplementation and other lifestyle insight. I hope you enjoy!
I was successfully able to lose 20.6lbs (237.8lbs to 216.8lbs) while increasing my 3 Rep Max (RM) on the Bench Press from 315 to 325, Back Squat from 385 to 405, and Conventional Deadlift from 405 to 425. I set a goal, developed a plan, and committed to it. However, I still led my life, enjoyed some sinful treats and alcohol and did not exile myself socially. Keep in mind I am not a registered dietician, or nutritionist nor do I have any formal education in these areas. Read along below for a recap of my experience and some feedback:
My objective was to maintain my strength throughout this 4 week weight loss phase. I would not say that my strength necessarily improved as these are not my greatest numbers and the fact that a 3×3 strength training program is not enough of a neurological nor physiological stimulus to promote much adaptation. Nonetheless, my strength did not diminish, but rather was maintained. While maintaining my strength in the 3 primarily lifts, I wanted to incorporate a lot of accessory work to maintain muscle mass, while keeping my heart rate high (65-85% HR Max). 4×8-12 rep complexes through the different movement patterns (squat, hinge, press, row) through all planes of motion (sagittal, frontal, transverse) with additional high intensity anaerobic intervals (assault bike and skipping) seemed to do the trick. Monitoring rest intervals to 60-90 seconds kept workouts brief and metabolic stimulus high. Additional steady state aerobic exercise at the conclusion of training sessions was implemented on occasion.
Monday: Loaded Athletics Barbell Club with Jeremy Martin (Olympic Lifting) and UBC Men’s Hockey Alumni Skate in the evening
Tuesday: Bench Press Day (pressing, rowing, midline, conditioning)
Wednesday: Squat Day (squat patterning, accessory upper body and midline exercises, conditioning)
Thursday/Friday: Deadlift Day (hinge patterning, rowing and midline accessory work, conditioning)
Saturday: Extra conditioning work/Hockey
Sunday: Off Day
Strength training was the foundation of my program. There were no WODs, Body Weight Interval Sessions, 30 minute workouts or 1 workout/week training sessions. The final week of my training I boxed with Hugh Gleeson of Groundwork Athletics and Anna Farrant of All City Athletics in order to get some more aerobic metabolic work in and boy did they take me for a ride! A couple of the best at what they do, be sure to get at them for an old fashioned ass whoopin’!
This has always been and will always be a contentious issue. At the end of the day, every individual is unique and different diets will provoke varying results in individuals, specifically in terms of food types, timing and macronutrient breakdowns. You need to find out what works for you. With that being said, I do believe that there are some principles which are effective and are worth a shot if you are looking to shed some stubborn, excess weight. They worked for me.
Fundamentally, one restricts their caloric intake to a specific window of the day, generally 6-8hrs. I chose to hold off on eating until 12:00/1:00 and stopped around 8:00/9:00pm. Some benefits include:
– Decreased blood insulin levels resulting in metabolization of fat as a fuel source
– Increased levels of human growth hormone resulting in increased fat metabolization, muscle gain, and other benefits
– Increased metabolic rate and fewer calories consumed
– Reduced systemic inflammation
Breaking the fast is best done by ingesting a high fat, high protein meal in order to maintain stable insulin levels. While in a fasted state I would drink BulletProof Coffee (4 shots espresso, MCT Oil, Collagen) or use a scoop of Keto Bomb. This is not considered to be “breaking the fast”.
My diet consisted of high fat, high protein, high vegetable based meals, “Keto” if you will, although I doubt I was rarely in a true state of ketosis. High quality chicken, turkey, beef, fish, avocado, seeds and nuts, oils, nut butters, eggs, and loads of vegetables. Cut the carbohydrates, cut the fat. With that being said, I often felt low on energy while going into training sessions especially during the initial 2 weeks. This was most likely due to restricted calories, depleted glycogen levels, switching fuel sources from readily available glycogen stores to fat and limited sleep(5-7 hrs/night when I should have been getting 7-9 hrs). Check out the Yard Athletics blog for some recipe ideas courtesy of Natalie Cumberbirch, or get in touch with my good friend Yolanda for some meal prep solutions. Diet was crucial, however, not the be all end all.
Supplements are just that, supplementary to a good foundation, by no means do they hold equal importance to the rest of the picture (nutrient intake, food quality, nutrient timing, training intensity and volume, rest and recovery). Omega 3s, Curcumin, Vit E, ZMA, Greens, Whey Protein, Collagen, Glutamine, Gingko Biloba, Vit D, CLA, L-Carnitine, Maca, exogenous ketones and preworkout were daily staples. See my saved stories on my personal Instagram @ilancumberbirch for more details. Body Energy Club has a wide range of products and are extremely knowledgeable when it comes to supplements.
This one is the kicker for me. Monday to Thursday I lived strictly, 0 alcohol intake, clean eating and hard training. Come Friday night – Sunday night I barely held back.
Each weekend I indulged in good drink and eats with friends. Ice cream cakes, chips and salsa, margaritas, wine, steaks, beers, pizza and pasta, waffles, bacon and eggs, cheesecake, all of the good stuff. You CAN have your cake and eat it too! With that being said, portion control is important. Stay regimented and strict and treat yourself on occasion.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading. Moral of the story is that fad diets, quick fixes and trendy workouts are just that…fluff, they come and go with the changes of the wind. Science works! Set time oriented goals, develop realistic plans of action, and commit to them. Write them down so they don’t become faint memories like the last time you could see your abs. Hold yourself accountable and exert appropriate will power. Just remember, we’re all human, we all have lives, and health and happiness are strongly correlated, so lead your life and begin with small changes and adjustments to begin. If you want it, you can have it, now go and get it.
For more information feel free to get in touch via email [email protected]. Feel free to follow me on Instagram @ilancumberbirch for daily workout, nutrition and lifestyle insight. For training inquiries visit our website yardathletics.ca and check out our Instagram account @yardathletics_ and come down and get #YardHard with us at “The Yard”!