Faris is happy with the results, as are the team that helped him get to this point, but he is under no illusions that the real hard work starts now.
“I’m relieved that the early starts and some aspects of the strength training are over, but in other ways I know the hardest work is yet to come,” Faris explains. “I’m in the rhythm of working out three to four times a week and I know the work I’ve done recently will mean nothing if I don’t keep it up.
“Now that I have seen the results, my goals have changed,” he continues. “I was hoping to bulk up a bit more, but I don’t think it would have been possible in the 12-week time frame. So, now that’s my aim. I know my body is in a better place and I’ve perfected my form, which is a great help. I feel I have a good foundation to now get the results I’m after. The key is that I understand more about what I put into my body, and the science behind the exercises I use to work it. I know how to sustain a healthy body, so it’s up to me to do that.
“I’m pleased with the changes Faris has experienced throughout the programme,” explains trainer Dane Mitch. Dane is an UKSCA accredited strength and conditioning coach and is Head of Strength and conditioning at Leeds Beckett University. “Not only has his body composition changed visually – he is now leaner, having dropped body fat – but he is also much stronger, fitter and healthier. Faris now moves better and is a far better athlete than when he first started.”
Faris’s stats are impressive.
“His lower body strength has increased by 20%, his upper body pulling strength by 17% and his upper body pushing strength by 27%,” explains Dane. “His abs are now visible after the challenge, although ideally he would have gained a bit more muscle mass. However, I’m happy with the results considering we were training concurrently for fat loss and muscle gain, which physiologically are competing mechanisms.
“Now, adherence is key. He needs to keep turning up to the gym as if he was still doing the challenge. Motivation will always fluctuate, but if he keeps up the good habits and sets more short-term goals to keep himself motivated, he’ll stay consistent.
“For an even more aesthetically pleasing physique, Faris now needs to focus on hypertrophy (muscle gain), particularly on his legs, shoulders and back. With more muscle, he will be able to maintain and further decrease his current level of body fat, as muscle is metabolically active tissue – it needs feeding!”
Eating: No Cheating
Arguably the biggest victory throughout the challenge was the change in Faris’s eating habits. Not that he ate badly before, but he now eats cleaner and understands the science of what he’s putting into his body.
“I’ve enjoyed the benefits of eating better,” he says. “I eat earlier than I used to and I feel better for that. Knowing what to put in your body at various points of the day is also really beneficial, including the right supplements when you can’t have the breakfast you need. Multipower’s Mass Gainer and 100% Pure Whey Protein were lifesavers. I recommend both of them, wholeheartedly.”
“Keep four focus lifts in your strength programme: a squat, a hinge, an upper body push and an upper body pull in addition to all the other supplementary exercises and conditioning,” explains Dane. “Staples for Faris were the back squat, the Romanian deadlift, the overhead press and the chin-up.
“The weights sled was the key move. The full-body nature of this exercise, along with the amount of muscle mass involved to move the sled, makes it a metabolically demanding exercise and thus a potent fat-loss exercise for the training toolbox. We used a pulling sled combination, dragging it from different positions to hit as many muscle fibres as possible.
“We also used the push sled (sometimes known as a prowler) in circuits combined with farmers walk carries, battle ropes and kettlebell swings, which was a fantastic full-body challenge.
“The weights sled is also great in that the muscular effort involved is predominantly from concentric muscle contractions, meaning that it doesn’t make you as sore, making the next few days of training a lot easier.”
“To lose weight and put on muscle at the same time, in such a short period, is hard and requires a lot of dedication,” explains Dane. “Ideally you would start such a challenge with a reasonable baseline level of fitness and work capacity so that you can handle regular training.
“You need a strong will to fight off unhealthy food cravings, especially when training harder as you’ll no doubt feel hungrier. You also need to be organised. For an intensive and reasonably short project like this you’ll more than likely have to plan your day around your training. Training in the morning is a good way to make sure you get it done, and can be the easiest way to fit it in your day. You’ll also have to be organised with your meals, making sure they are prepared, reducing the temptation to grab something less healthy.
“Goal setting is key! However, it’s also important to make sure you set physical fitness goals as well as visual physique ones. Don’t obsess with the scales, or worry too much about how you are looking from day to day. Focus on the process, bettering your physical fitness and smashing those personal bests, and the physique will come.
“In the project, we dropped the reps throughout the training phase so that he was lifting heavier weights each week. Then, by the time we got to the next phase, and the reps went back up again, he was stronger and more capable of lifting heavier weights at that repetition range. This meant he could hit a personal best pretty much every session, which feels great, and in turn keeps motivation and effort levels high.”
“Knowing what to put in your body at various points of the day is also really beneficial”