Last month I had the honour of appearing on the front cover of Men’s Fitness magazine. That happened because I successfully followed the New Body Plan, completing an eight-week transformation that saw me lose 10kg of fat in just eight weeks.
The results were better than I could have expected but before the whole thing started the working title could have been Project Fear because, quite frankly, I was terrified by the prospect of doing it. I was scared that I wouldn’t make much of a difference, I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to stick to the plan and I was scared that I’d let myself down. For a long time, I had allowed those fears to put me off doing something that would have made a profoundly positive difference to my life.
So if you’re reading this and thinking about giving it a go but you find the whole thing a bit intimidating, believe me, I know how you feel. Now, thankfully, I also know how it feels when you put that fear to one side, follow the right plan and take it one day at a time. Anyone can do what I did. You just need to back yourself and make a start.
So to help you do just that, I’ve picked out my top tips for a successful body transformation. And if you do start your own transformation journey, please say hi at @JonLipseyMedia or @NewBodyPlan on social and let me know how you’re getting on.
1. Think Like An Athlete
Most people fail to achieve their goals because they struggle to stick to their plan. Simply lasting the distance will massively increase your chances of success. One of the best ways of doing this is to adopt the mindset of an elite athlete.
Make it work If you want to stay motivated, think of your training plan (which will last eight weeks if you follow the New Body Plan) as a training camp in the build-up to a big fight. If you imagine that you’re going to step into a ring in front of a huge crowd in a few weeks’ time, you’re less likely to skip a session. The best bit? In this instance, you won’t even get hit in the face at the end of it.
2. Approach It Progressively
If you dive in at the deep end, your hopes of a successful transformation may sink without trace. You’ll stack the odds in your favour if you gradually increase the intensity and the demands of your training and nutrition plan as you progress.
Make it work Undertaking a successful body transformation is a skill. And as with all new skills, you need to develop your ability gradually. That’s why the workouts in this plan have been set at a level that provides a challenge but isn’t so tough that it’s immediately demoralising. The closer you get to the finish line, the easier it is to push yourself.
3. Think In Blocks
Breaking your transformation down into manageable chunks will make it easier to stay motivated. Eight weeks can seem like a long time and it’s natural that you’ll have doubts about your ability to achieve the result you want.
Make it work Seeing the eight-week period as four two-week blocks gives you a series of achievable goals and allows you to tick off wins as you progress. Within those blocks, you can have mini goals for each week. You should even think of each session as a micro-target. Every one you tick off puts you a step closer to the overall goal. And if you make consistent progress, we guarantee that you’ll achieve your overall objective.
4. Anticipate Obstacles
The reality is that your progress is unlikely to be straightforward. You may catch a cold, tweak a muscle or have to deal with something tricky that life throws at you. If you’re prepared for that to happen, you can deal with the challenge as it arises.
Make it work Before you start, make a list of the most likely things that could occur and have an adverse effect on your progress. Then write down two or three bullet points about what you’ll do should they arise. If something comes up that isn’t on the list, simply take a few minutes to write down a list of the things that you are able to do and follow them through until you’re able to get back on track.
5. Visualise Success
The more you believe in your ability to complete a successful transformation, the more likely it is to happen. Several sports science studies have shown that visualisation techniques can have a positive impact on performance.
Make it work At the start of each session, take a moment to remind yourself why you started the plan. Then think about how you’ll look and feel when you achieve your desired result. You can use a similar process during a session when it becomes physically and mentally challenging. Struggling with that last rep? Mentally fast-forward and think about the satisfaction you’ll get from a successful outcome and how you gave it 100% to get there.
6. Apply Tension
Learning to properly contract (apply tension to) a target muscle will have a huge impact on your capacity to burn fat and build muscle. Poor execution will lead to a poor result.
Make it work Whenever you complete a rep, make sure you think about the muscle you’re trying to work and lift at a controlled pace, rather than swinging the weight around and using momentum to move the load. You may find this means you need to lift a lighter weight. That’s fine – your body doesn’t know what the number on the dumbbell is. All that counts is how you lift and how you stimulate the muscle fibres.
7. Calories Count
What you eat during the course of your plan has a massive impact on your overall result. To lose body fat you’ll need to go into a calorie deficit and when that happens, what you eat matters more than ever.
Make it work If your calorie intake is limited then we advise that you aim to take in as many nutrients as possible. Eating nutrient-dense foods such as vegetables will support your overall health and immune system, which can be tested when you’re training hard. Taking on good-quality protein will help you to repair and build muscle tissue. Those foods are also likely to help you feel satisfied even if you’re eating less than usual.
8. Timing Matters
Nutrient timing is a much-debated subject. In everyday life, it probably doesn’t matter that much. But when you’re doing a time-limited body transformation, it offers a potential incremental gain that’s worth considering.
Make it work We recommend that you make sure you eat at least 30g of good-quality protein within an hour of finishing your workouts. That will help to repair the damage done to muscle fibres during the session. You can also eat more carbs after a training session to replenish your energy stores and help shuttle protein to your muscle cells.
9. Train With A Friend
There are plenty of studies that demonstrate the positive effect exercising with someone else regularly can have. That’s because a pre-arranged obligation to meet someone at the gym decreases the likelihood of you bailing, partly because you won’t want to let them down and show yourself up. Just as importantly, training together improves your work ethic because you push yourself harder when there’s an atmosphere of camaraderie or friendly competitiveness.
Make it work Do you have a friend, colleague or partner who has voiced a desire to lose some body fat, and improve their health and fitness? Ask them to join you on a body-transformation challenge so you have a regular gym buddy who can motivate and encourage you to get to the gym in the first place, then push yourself harder when you’re there. Just make sure you do the same for them in return.
10. Think About The Muscle
In the pursuit of building bigger muscles, which will make your physique appear leaner and more athletic, you need to use your brain to achieve brawn. And that’s where your mind-to-muscle connection comes in.
Make it work Studies have concluded that simply thinking about the working muscle, focusing on how it feels to lift and lower the weight, improves the neural pathways between your brain and that muscle. The faster this communication network, the faster and harder your muscle can fire, meaning you’ll be able to lift more weight more easily and so add size faster. Try it and see – you’ll be surprised by its effectiveness.
11. Hang In There
One of the biggest elements of a transformation is simply lasting the distance. At the start, or when you’re tired or hungry, the finish line can seem an intimidatingly long way off. But take the plan day by day and you will get there.
Make it work The best news I can give you, having done the plan, is that it gets easier. The second half of your transformation challenge is easier than the first because you’re fitter and your body has adapted to a new way of eating and using fat for fuel. Better still, the final block is the easiest of the four because the end is in sight and your new-found fitness will power you through. So if you’re struggling, just remember that it gets easier. Trust me – the final week feels like a parade.
12. Follow A Plan
Without a plan you’ll find that your training is aimless. You’ll end up doing the same thing over and over again, you won’t make progress and you’ll lose motivation. It’s vital to follow a progressive plan that will help you make the most of your training time.
Make it work If you pick up a copy of New Body Plan then you’ll have taken the first and most important step towards transforming how you look and feel forever. I’ve worried about the details so you don’t have to. Simply follow the training plan to the letter and use the healthy eating advice, and you can look forward to being the proud owner of a brand new body.
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