I was going to write a gigantic post describing my first day of using the “Body for Life” program, and I was going to include all sorts of information about the theory behind it, but I’ve run out of time. So I’m going to take the “short and sweet” approach.
Today was my first day as a full-time writer. The first thing I did was get out of bed, drink two glasses of water, and drive to the gym. The weight room was empty again, much to my delight. I gathered all my dumbbells together at a single weight bench, and I began the workout.
I was glad to have gone to they gym last week to teach myself the various lifts I’ve elected to do. I didn’t have to waste time today trying to figure out what I was doing. I could concentrate on trying to keep proper form.
The problem was that proper form was difficult to maintain. I am weak. I cannot lift much weight. And my left side is even weaker than my right. There’s a bizarre disparity between what each arm can lift. They both can curl about the same weight, but shoulder and chest? Forget about it. I lost control of 25 pound dumbbell on my final rep with that weight, and my left arm collapsed. The weight landed on my chest, thank goodness. If it had landed on my face, I’d be writing a much different entry.
After this incident, I began to scale back the weights I was working with. It was difficult to find weights that my left arm could handle but which weren’t too easy for my right arm. I tried a set of mis-matched weights, but that was awkward, and I wasn’t sure that was an acceptable solution.
So, I muddled through.
I don’t mean to make it sound like it was a bad experience. It wasn’t. It was actually rather exhilarating. And I worked up a sweat! While lifting weights!
Here’s how the Body for Life program works:
You pick a particular muscle group (chest, for example) to work. You select one of the four exercises for that group (dumbbell presses, for example, which are like bench presses but with dumbbells). First you do 12 reps with a light weight, rest a minute, do 10 reps with a slightly heavier weight, rest a minute, do 8 reps of a heavier weight, rest a minute, and then do 6 reps with the heaviest weight before resting another minute. That’s the easy part. The hard part comes next: you perform the exercise one last time doing 12 reps of a weight that will force you to exert maximum effort. And then, without resting, you immediately move to a second exercise for the same muscle group, performing 12 reps with a similar attempt to reach maximum effort.
That’s the first muscle group. After you’re done with that, you do all of the muscle groups for the area of the body you’re working. (I was working upper body today.)
Ideally, all this takes about 45 minutes, though it takes me more like an hour.
That’s day one.
On day two, you don’t lift weights — you do twenty minutes of aerobic exercise. This exercise is meant to follow a very specific pattern, though, one similar to the weight-lifting. There are brief warm-up and cool-down periods, but in between are four cycles of “intensity intervals”, during which you gradually ramp up your effort before easing off. On the final cycle, you go all out for sixty seconds, working as hard as you possibly can.
And that’s it. That’s the aerobic exercise component for day two.
On day three, you lift weights, focusing on the area of the body you didn’t do on the first day. (So, for example, I’ll be working my lower body on Wednesday.)
Day four is more aerobic. Day five is back to upper body weights. Day six is more aerobic. And on the seventh day you rest. The next week, you do it all again (except that you do alternate which part of the body gets two days of weights).
That’s the exercise component of the Body for Life program.
The dietary component is easier to explain. Every day, consume six small meals. Each meal should consist of a portion of high-quality protein and a portion of high-quality carbohydrate. A portion is about the size of your hand. Also eat a couple of extra vegetables every day. And drink a ton of water. Do this six days out of every week. The seventh day — which can vary from week-to-week — you can eat whatever you want.
What I like about this program is that it’s simple. It’s not easy — it’s a lot of work, in fact — but it’s not complicated. I understand the concept, and I’m willing to devote twelve weeks to it. (Of course, the entire hook is that after twelve weeks, nobody’s going to want to go back to their old way of life.)
I also like the fact that while the author encourages discipline, he understands real life. “If you miss a workout, you miss a workout,” he says. “If you have a piece of pie, you have a piece of pie. Don’t let one mistake throw you off your game.” This is vital, I think. It’s something I learned while getting rid of my debt, and now it’s something I need to remind myself of as I get rid of my fat.
In any event, I’m quite pleased with my workout today, and I look forward to tomorrow morning’s appointment with the rowing machine…
(Ha! So my quick post about “Body for Life” turned into a gigantic post after all.)