Body For Life Challenge Review

A lot of customers have asked about the Body for Life Challenge program and what I thought about it. So I thought I would share my experience of this combined weight training and diet program.

A Real Life Changing Event

Without sounding too over the top, the Body for Life program really turned my life around. I was like a lot of Australian blokes at the age of 25 – I loved going to the footy, going to the pub, hanging out with mates.

However doing all those activities generally involved having a few beers. I went to the gym regularly.  But  the combination of long work hours and the extracurricular activities above I was half assed at best with my commitment to weight training.

I was living at home and my mum was a top cook so the end result was I got out to 105kg. I am 6ft tall so it wasn’t quite Biggest Loser material. However I really noticed it playing touch football. The bad knee was playing up and I was struggling to get around the park. At only 25 years old I thought I had to do something now or I would an old fart by the time I was 30.

Why the Body for Life Challenge?

The reason I chose the Body for Life program was because I had received some good reports. There is obviously a lot of hype surrounding the program. Upon further investigation it sounded like it had some substance. Also too I liked the challenge of turning your whole life around in 3 months. So I bought the book and that became my bible for the next 3 months.

Body for Life Challenge

Great For All Levels

For people who are new to weights and fitness training, the book is great because it goes through all the basics in plain English. You get a good grasp of the principles of weight training, cardio vascular training and nutrition without getting bogged down in too much detail.

Some people will find the program tough if they have never committed to a diet and training program. Unfortunately the majority of us genetically inferior human beings will have to stick to the diet and training regime. That is if you want to get the extreme results the Body for Life Challenge program is renowned for. I can thoroughly recommend sticking to the program. The discipline and knowledge you gain will assist you in leading a healthy life style for the rest of your life.

The most important lesson I learnt while undertaking the Body for Life program was the importance of nutrition in maximizing your results from weight training. You can have the most advanced weight training program. You can train on the most high tech gym equipment in the world. Ultimately if you are not eating right you are just pissing into the wind. Being on a strict diet for the first time in my life I was amazed at the changes that made to my body.

Cardio Is the Key

Combined with the strict diet, the high intensity interval cardio training the weight really stripped off. It got to the point where people thought I must have been sick. I must emphasise strongly that it will not work unless you follow the diet and train hard. By training hard I mean that you must aim to increase the intensity level at every workout. You even keep a journal so you can not only track the weights/reps lifted buy you also need to document how much effort you were putting in.

An issue with the Body for Life program is that you do need access to gym equipment and cardio equipment. With the weight training you need to work to a set pattern. For example chest, shoulders, legs , back etc so you need to be able to jump on the required machine at the appropriate time.

Plus you need to do a superset on each bodypart so actually need two exercises for each body part. This is a bit of a problem if you are training in a crowded gym. It also helps if you use the same piece of gym equipment or do the same exercise for a string of workouts. This allows you to increase your intensity levels on each exercise. This is the most important part of the program. If you are using different exercises or machines each workout you don’t really know if you are progressing or working as intensely.

I overcame this problem by going to the gym at 5 in the morning. Not everyone can do this so training at home in your own home gym definitely makes it easier. I would not even contemplate trying to do the Body for Life at a large corporate style gym during peak times. It would not be worth the frustration.

Cardio Weapon of Choice

For cardio I used the exercise bike. By the end of the 3 months I hated the exercise bike. Since I had stuck to the same piece of cardio equipment for nearly the entire program I had gradually increased my intensity to the point where I was nearly passing out. That is why I chose the exercise bike. On the bike I could go to the absolute limit without worrying about stacking it like on a treadmill. The timers and calorie counters where handy to measure my effort. A rower would also be good too but there was not one at the gym I went to.

Diet Tips

The diet seemed a bit daunting for someone who had never really stuck to an eating plan as disciplined as the Body for Life program. However once I got myself organized it was really easy. As a matter of fact I actually quite enjoyed the challenge of preparing the food and making the whole process as easy as possible. My culinary skills were previously limited to cheese on toast and heating up meat pies. So learning the ropes was a good experience and made moving out of home easier.

A valuable lesson learnt from the diet is the easiest way to stick your eating plan is to not buy bad food at the supermarket. If you don’t have junk food at home you won’t eat it. Also preparing your meals and having them with you meant that you didn’t buy rubbish when you were out. Initially I felt like a bit of a wanker eating tuna and rice at the footy. Especially since my mates were knocking down beers and pies but you got over that pretty quick.

As for results they were pretty amazing. I went from 99kgs at the start down to 87kgs. The photos – I will post them when I dig them out as they were before the digital age – don’t do it justice. I have a stage 8 moon tan so you can’t really see the definition as well.

Aerobic wise I was the fittest I had and have ever been. The combination of the intense cardio training plus loss of weight made me seem twice as fast and twice the endurance.

Strength Loss

I actually lost strength doing the Body for Life program. Don’t let that put you off the program because strength is not the be all and end all. As I did my training early in the morning and on an empty stomach I found straight out that I did not have as much grunt. Secondly I really focused on my form and performed the reps in a slow and controlled fashion to really isolate the target muscle group. When the body weight started flying off I realized the role mass (even if it is blubber) plays in lifting.

Even though I might not have been able to dumbbell press as much at the end of the program as I could at the start for one heavy set, I still regarded myself as stronger. My improved endurance meant that I could have kept lifting all day.

I guess the loss of strength leads me to the negatives of the Body for Life Challenge. Since it is a generic program it will have different effects on different people. I had a mate doing it with me and he actually gained muscle mass. Since I trained with weights before I did have some muscle but I actually lost overall muscle mass.

This was partly my fault. My mate was not as strict with diet as I was. The Body for Life Challenge allowed you to have one day when you could eat whatever you want. I thought that if I stayed on the diet for 7 days a week then I would get better results. The book even outlined the effect. If you are restricting your diet your body starts to slow your metabolism because it thinks that you are starving. So make sure you include the cheat day!