Body-For-Life Graduation: 8 Diet & Training Upgrades To Reach The Next Level (Part 1)!

It's time to move on from the entry level courses and experience some higher education. I'm going to give you just that by sharing eight things you can start doing today to bring your action plan to a whole new level. Learn more.
Part 1  |   Part 2

Article Summary:
  • You've finished the Body-For-Life challenge. Time for the next step.
  • Training movements rather than training specific muscles.
  • Take a more strategic approach to your diet and cheat meals.

  • Body-for-Life Graduation - Part I
    8 "Upgrades" To Bring Your Diet And Training To The Next Level

    So you've just completed your 12-week challenge and you've lost some fat and maybe even put on a few pounds of muscle. Nice work. Body-for-Life is a great starting place and does a wonderful job of teaching everyday people some very fundamental concepts about getting in shape.

    You probably went from eating like crap on a daily basis to eating much healthier. You learned the value of smaller, frequent feedings throughout the day. And perhaps most importantly, you started exercising. All great things. But how would you like to be making even better progress?

    You've taken the first basic steps, but there comes a time when you have to break away from the training wheels and kick things up a notch. That time is now.

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    It's time to move on from the entry level courses and experience some higher education. And in this article, I'm going to give you just that by sharing with you eight things you can start doing today to bring your action plan to a whole new level. And by doing that, you will without a doubt drastically improve the results you obtain from your diet and exercise efforts. Welcome to your Body-for-Life Graduation. Welcome to Bodybuilding.com.


    Upgrade 1: Train Movements, Not Muscles

      When following the Body-for-Life program, you're used to going to the gym and selecting something like the dumbbell bench press as your "chest" exercise. But did you know that the dumbbell bench press also heavily works the triceps and shoulders? That's because muscles function to perform movements, and when you "move", multiple muscles work together to perform that specific action.

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      There are six major movements that the human body is made to perform, and when weight training, most all exercises fall into one of the below six movement categories:

      Upper Body Movements:

      Lower Body Movements:

      By covering all the movements, you cover all the muscle groups, and several times over (which means each muscle gets more stimulation with less actual work). So instead of trying to choose exercises to train specific muscle groups, choose exercises based on the action those muscles perform. An easy way to set up this type of training is:

      • Monday: Upper Body Push/Pull (Horizontal)
      • Tuesday: Lower Body Quad Dominant, Abs
      • Thursday: Upper Body Push/Pull (Vertical)
      • Friday: Lower Body Hip Dominant, Abs


    Upgrade 2: Improve Your Post-Workout Nutrition

      While slamming a Myoplex is better than nothing post workout, it doesn't provide the ideal ratio of protein to carbs to be optimally effective, not to mention its thick consistency is pretty hard to stomach after a grueling workout.

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      Ideally, a post-workout shake should combine carbs and protein in at least a 2:1 ratio (two times more carbohydrate than protein), while something akin to Myoplex has the ratio reversed (twice as much protein as carbs).

      Carbohydrate is fundamentally important to spike insulin levels post workout and ignite protein synthesis (muscle growth). And while high insulin levels are generally a bad thing at other times, proteins, amino acids and creatine need insulin to serve as a "carrier" post-workout. Without insulin, nutrient storage and protein synthesis will be blunted during this time, which means you ultimately experience less strength and hypertrophy from your hard work.

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      To ensure that you're reaping all the benefits from the work you put in, try Myogenix Aftershock, a post-workout beverage specifically designed to spark anabolism and halt catabolism post-workout.

    Try A Post-Workout Beverage Specifically Designed To Spark Anabolism And Halt Catabolism.
    + Click To Enlarge.
    Try A Post-Workout Beverage Specifically
    Designed To Spark Anabolism And Halt Catabolism.

      This product contains the 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein mentioned above and also goes down much easier as it mixes very thin. Further, it contains the fastest acting proteins to ensure that amino acids spend less time in the gut and instead fuel muscle tissue immediately. It also contains 5 grams of creatine and glutamine per serving to form the ideal post-workout beverage ingredient blend.

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      You can further improve the effectiveness of your workout nutrition by timing it appropriately. While BFL will tell you to wait an hour after your training session before consuming your post-workout shake (in order to burn more fat), doing so makes the beverage much less effective from a protein synthesis standpoint.

      Really, there is no reason to wait to consume your beverage as muscle tissue is extremely primed to quickly suck up nutrients post-workout, leaving any worry of detracting from fat burning moot.

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      Another method is consume a percentage of your workout beverage either immediately before or during your exercise session and then the other 1/2 immediately after. Research has shown that this can be even more effective than solely consuming a post-workout shake.


    Upgrade 3: Concentrate On One Goal At A Time

      Many folks doing the Body-for-Life program make the mistake of trying to lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously (and although it is possible, doing so requires an extremely advanced approach to diet and training, and progress still may not come as quick as a well-constructed bulk/cut cycle).

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    Are You Trying To Lose Fat, Build Muscle, Or Both At The Same Time?

    Lose Fat.
    Build Muscle.
    Both.

      Building muscle generally requires a caloric surplus and losing fat requires a calorie deficit - two things that are more or less mutually exclusive.

      The fact is, you'll always be able to make more headway in either direction by choosing one direction and heading that way. If trying to go in two different directions, it's much more likely you'll just end up spinning your wheels. And especially at the beginner level, cycling the goals of muscle gain and fat loss will have you moving toward your long-term physique goals faster.

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      So how do you know which goal to choose? If you're a "heavier" individual, it's probably best to start with fat loss as your main goal until you get your level of body fat down. Also, starting with a diet phase will help reset important things like insulin sensitivity which will make your bulking phase more effective and productive when you switch gears.

    How Do You Know Which Goal To Choose?
    + Click To Enlarge.
    How Do You Know
    Which Goal To Choose?

      Still, I wouldn't recommend cutting below 10 - 12% body fat if you still have the desire to put on additional muscle mass - going lower than that is unnecessary and ultimately counterproductive to your long terms goals.

      As you venture below 10%, it becomes extremely difficult to continue to drop body fat without also sacrificing substantial hard-earned muscle mass. So, keep the big picture in mind and once you hit the 10 - 12% range, switch gears and keep your lean body mass climbing.


    Upgrade 4: Cheat Smarter

      The concept of the free day is a good one; however, in order for it to work optimally on a physical level (and not simply serve as a psychological vent), you have to learn how to best set up the other six days of a diet to maximize its effects and your overall results.

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      Strategic cheating can indeed accelerate fat loss by keeping metabolism and fat burning hormones high week after week, but again, in order to reap all the possible benefits, what you do the other six days of the week is critically important.

      Instead of jumping back into your regular routine after a day of dietary indulgence, try limiting carb intake at the beginning of the week. This causes the body to run off of stored nutrients from the cheat while maintaining an ideal internal fat burning environment.

      Then, as the week goes on, begin to strategically add more carbohydrate into the diet to offset the metabolic adaptations of calorie restriction and keep the body out of "starvation mode".

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      Additionally, strategically timed exercise is of utmost importance, and you can probably guess that the few days after a cheat day when fat burning hormones are elevated is a critical time for increased physical activity. For more information about how to incorporate strategic cheating in a specific dietary regimen, check out my book, The Cheat to Lose Diet.


    Check Out Part II For More Great Tips!

    This concludes the first part of our two part article. Next time we'll be back with four more "upgrades" including information on fasted cardio, dietary fat, and carbohydrate timing. Until then, start putting the four strategies presented in this article to good use!

    About The Author

    Joel Marion is an internationally recognized body transformation coach and the 2001 Body-for-Life Grand Champion. Join thousands of other Body Transformation enthusiasts for FREE at Joel's brand new website www.BodyTransformationInsider.com

    Part 1  |   Part 2