I’ll admit, I’m not your typical girly girl. My knees are scarred up from old (really old) soccer or track falls, I’ve got bruises on my legs from an occasional multiple bangs in the power rack, my hands are calloused from not wearing gloves or wrist straps, I hate getting my hair done, Metallica is my favorite band, and I really, really hate shopping. I also love lifting heavy weights, the way my heart pumps HARD after a set of deadlifts, the little rush of fear that I get when I stand under a barbell with enough weight that would probably crush me. But my love of lifting doesn’t make me less of a woman, in fact it makes me more of one. So, how do you get off the couch, or out of the group fitness room, and into the weight room? How can I convince you to take that leap of faith?
I’m not going to be the first person to say that diets do work. I am among one of many, many people that have lost the weight and kept it off. When I got off the beaten path, I reeled myself back in, and post-baby (and post C-section), I knew exactly what I had to do. Exercise was part of my success, but without attention to what I was putting in my mouth, I would not have succeeded. Lots of people will tell you diets don’t work, and that’s because after we taste our first bit of success and hit maintenance mode, we go back to engaging in the same behavior that was making us fat in the first place. I’ve tried them too in the past, Atkins, Zone, South Beach, whatever, and none of them stuck for me. I had to find the appropriate plan that worked for my body, my life, my schedule, and my tastes. The key is to find the right plan for you, that you can adopt as a lifestyle change. So start thinking permanent and long-term if you want to take that weight off and keep it off. The right mental attitude is a key component of your success in the kitchen (and in the gym!)
Alright, let’s get right into the good stuff- changes in body stats and strength gains. At the start of the program I weighed slightly over 111 lbs. Flashforward to now, I’m almost 118. I’ve gained 6 1/2 lbs, 6 of which is lean body mass. I’ve gained 0.4 lbs of body fat, but my body fat as a percentage of my total weight has actually gone DOWN. I’ve tracked my strength gains consistently over the past few weeks on this blog, but to pick a couple I’m proud of, at the start of Hybrid, I was benching 85 lbs for my 5X5 day; at the end of the program I’m at 115 for 5 reps. For semistiff leg deadlifts, I was pulling 135 lbs, and now, I can do 155 lbs. There are lots and lots of examples of the strength gains (during 6X6 days and Hypertrophy days) I’ve made over the 12 weeks on this blog, and those gains along with the 6 lbs of LBM are a fantastic accomplishment. I’ve worked HARD!
Although this is the final week of the Hybrid program, I’m by no means done with my bodybuilding project. After this, I’m cutting cals temporarily for a photo shoot, and am back on track. It wouldn’t be fair to the structure of a great bodybuilding program like Hybrid to operate on anything but a caloric surplus. I’m using the awesome guidance in Will’s other E-book, Fat Loss Revealed—there’s a chapter dedicated to advanced fat loss techniques for the already lean. My goal for 2010 is to keep packing on LBM, and though I recognize that’s a tall order for us gals, it’s by no means impossible, and I’m always down for a challenge. Plus it’s been good fun to share my experiences with friends, BBR moderators, and members.
Time flies when you’re having fun. Hard to believe it’s week 11 already. I’m so happy with all the progress I’ve made on Hybrid (weight gain and strength gain) and can’t stress enough that the variety of routines here is the beauty of the program. Every week it’s a new chance to get stronger, try out a new twist, learn from other BBR members, and enjoy bodybuilding. After the program is over I want to do a fun little photo shoot- and I can share the before and after pics here.
It’s week 10 on the program and I’m making strides in the majority of my upper body lifts. Oddly enough, my weight is back to almost 118, so whatever weight I lost is back.
This week is hypertrophy week, one of my favorite kinds of weeks, because the workout is hard, fast, efficient, and fun. My last hypertrophy week was only 2 weeks ago (week eight), so rather than do the exact same routine, I switch it up a bit to keep my muscles guessing.
Here’s one proud moment: for the flat bench press, I’m doing 80 lbs for 3 sets for 10 reps. Going back to my very first week on Hybrid, I could only do 5 reps for 85 lbs for my 5X5 day so I’m doing double the amount of reps for a nearly identical weight for 10 reps and a far shorter rest period.
I’m also stroking the 50 lb DBs for one arm rows for 8 reps, again, a weight that I was only able to do for a 5X5 day. For the body weight exercises (unassisted dips and pullups)
I’m getting fewer than 8 reps (6,5,6 for 3 sets of dips and 6,5,4 for pullups) but I truly value the importance of the body weight exercises and am getting as many as I can with clean form. I see an improvement in lat pulldowns (100 lbs for 3 sets of eight) and bicep curls (12 reps by 45 lbs using the Olympic bar.
So a funny thing happened in Week 9. My weight gain has stalled (and even dropped a little) and I’m back in the 116-117 range. I’m not doing anything different with the meal plan, and my strength gains are consistent so it could be a factor of the heat (it’s hot, hot, hot here!) or water retention, or something (like being a woman). My 9 point caliper test also show that my body fat has gone up a bit in the past month (by 1 % point, from 15% to 16%) and I’ve gained less than 1 lb of lean muscle mass since my last pinch. Not the results I was hoping for, especially since at my last pinch, I had gained 4 lbs of lean muscle mass, which is not an easy thing to do for a women, and in such a short period of time.
This week is one of my favorite types of weeks- hypertrophy week! Hit a set of weight hard, rest a little bit, and hit ‘em hard again. In fact, I think the hypertrophy day is quickly becoming my favorite type of training day (I still love you 5X5!). On hypertrophy days, that minute of rest goes by all too fast for me, especially since I love writing notes in my training log in between sets. This day always requires a wrist watch! For the sake of objectivity, I’m going to compare this week’s (Week eight) results (just a sampling of the exercises) with a similar routine I performed on Week 3 of the program.
Week 7 brings with it the realization that I’ve already surpassed my weight gain goal (115) and am heading past 117 to 118 lbs. The 3000 calories a day meal plan is a heck of lot of food and I’m starting to wonder how much longer I can handle it! Eating to bulk isn’t what some people might think. It’s not like I’m hanging out an all you can eat Chinese buffet all day or eating multiple BigMacs. Bodybuilders all know that meal planning involves prep time and dedication to eating at least 5-6 times a day, and eating clean. Anyway- the only drawback to the weight gain is that my abs feel a little softer and my belly is a little rounder, and the pictures below and at the end of the post might detail that. I definitely “feel” heavier- and my body weight exercises (those darn chinups!) are getting a little harder. Still, it’s a small sacrifice considering the awesome strength gains I keep making on the program!
Ok- so for Hybrid Week 6- I was actually SUPPOSED to be on a beach, but my trip got canceled, and thanks to a variety of aggravating circumstances it never materialized. 2 days, 2 different airports, a malfunctioning airplane and the like…all with a tired, impatient, wiggly toddler…meant I had my first staycation. I *don’t* recommend this for anyone! *sigh* Anyway.
The one positive thing is that I get to head to the gym this week for Week 6 of Hybrid. My weight is amazingly and gradually inching up (yeay!) and I’m still making strength gains. I’m at 116 now and it’s inching upwards.
Hard to believe I’m almost mid-way to 6 weeks on the program. I am still having tons of fun on the program and I doubt I can end at the 12 week mark! Week 5 begins with a HIIT session for me and boy, this day never gets easier!! Now, maybe it’s possible that if I picked another machine I might see some difference (like the treadmill), but I really like the elliptical for this because even with a moderate-high resistance I can really go all out. The belt of the treadmill always takes a little longer to catch up and by then I’m mentally ahead by 10 seconds and every single second of “all out” counts! I’m also getting great feedback, especially from Body Building Revealed Forum members and moderators that I probably am doing HIIT right because it’s supposed to be taxing! For those of you that are under the impression that you can do 40-45 minutes of interval training, take a good hard look at what you can accomplish in 20 minutes. Body Building Revealed also teaches you that the fat-burning, higher intensity programs like HIIT get the job done in less time than low-moderate intensity cardio, and especially if you’re a busy working professional and/or busy mom, why waste your precious time!?