Body For Life

Body For Life
I’m starting with this for two reasons, this was the first real structured fitness plan I ever tried and it is one that I really liked and have considered trying again.  When I was in college someone told me about a book called, Body For Life.  I had only been seriously incorporating weight lifting in my routine for about two years at the time, and I found this book and this plan taught me a lot about how to work different muscles, how to fatigue those muscles and how to get results with nutrition and fitness combined.  I actually still use some of the fitness ideas I learned from this book, especially the cardio work out.
“Body For Life,” written by Bill Philips was a New York Times Bestseller and promises twelve weeks to a new healthy lean body without turning your life upside down.  When you open the book the first thing you see is a cover filled with amazing before and after pictures of real people who tried Body For Life with success.  I’m pretty sure if I dig through some old pictures I might find my before picture but there might not be an after picture to along with it.  The book is an easy read and is chalked full of interesting information about nutrition, fitness, the way our bodies work, and much more.  Bill provides the science behind healthy food and even offers meal plans.  There are pictures of the workouts he recommends that help you to visualize the moves and perform them correctly.
The idea is for six days out of the week you eat six small balanced meals a day and he makes it easy for you to understand what he means by balance meals because he provides a chart with three columns, a protein column, a carbohydrate column and a vegetable column.  He also, as most do, provides his own great supplement shakes and bars for those crunch times when you don’t have enough time to make a meal. And on the seventh day you get a CHEAT day!!  I love the idea of this, it gave me something to work to, it broke up the diet each week so I didn’t get burnt out, and if I wanted to, it allowed me to eat Mexican food every Sunday.  Even though I haven’t followed this diet plan for in years, I still remember that cheat day and incorporate what I call a free day or weekend in to many of my diet plans.  I find it helps me stay on track and revs up my metabolism.

The fitness part of Body For Life is my favorite part of the entire plan. I love the idea behind his workouts and still often use the interval training he encourages for cardio training, especially when I am short on time. The weightlifting program encouraged in this book produces amazing results and gets that fatigue in your muscles that lets you know you worked them out. The idea is to start with a light weight and do twelve reps, then to increase the weight and do ten reps, increase the weight again and do eight reps, add more weight and do six reps (this should be heavy weight and hard to finish), then reduce back to the starting weight and do twelve reps, and then immediately without a break move to another exercise working the same muscle group and do another 12 reps.  I am telling you this works and even if you are not going to do the entire plan if you want to really feel the burn in your weightlifting routine, try this method for a couple of weeks and you will see results. In fact, I think I’ll try this today.

The cardio workout is fantastic for two reasons. I love the science behind it, which basically says you burn more calories when your heart is working at it’s hardest. So those 55 minute low intensity or consistent intensity level workouts you might be doing and saying to yourself, “wow I was on that elliptical for almost an hour,” can be shortened and more effective if you follow the High Point technique and the Intensity Index (all very well explained in this book). If I am on the elliptical, I am basically following this routine every time and have been for years. I often do way more then twenty minutes while still following the interval program. I start with a low to moderate intensity and every two minutes I go up two levels of intensity and after I reach my highest point I drop back down to a moderate intensity for two minutes and then begin the process all over again. This is not exactly how the book tells you to do this, but it’s close enough and gets my heart going.  If this gets boring or I stop feeling the results I just mix it up with higher intensity levels for longer and only doing the lower intensity levels for a minute at a time. One thing this book says that I know is true, but I often can’t make work in my crazy life, is that if you work out first thing in the morning on an empty stomach and then wait an hour afterwards to eat, you can burn fast three hundred times faster.  I love the idea of that!
There is a lot in this book, real life stories, science behind the reasoning, pictures of workouts, meal plan examples, and worksheets to get you started. I will say as much as I love the idea of eating healthy small meals six times a day, it doesn’t work very well in my lifestyle and I quickly found it was something I was not going to stick to for a lifetime. I might stick to the free day for a lifetime, but I don’t think that’s the point. However, the fitness part of this is something I have continued to incorporate all these years later.  And I do think the nutrition part is something I could do for the twelve weeks if I were  motivated to really lean out and work hard.    Twelve weeks isn’t THAT long.
Would I Recommend this Plan: Yes    Do it Again: I might just do that.

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