You’re about to meet the winner of the “Holy Grail award” in the last Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle body transformation challenge. The Holy WHAT, you ask? Allow me to explain…
Most people stay focused on one fitness goal at a time: burning fat (cutting) or building muscle (bulking or building). But occasionally, we see something exceptional: Someone gains muscle and loses fat during the same time period (body recomposition). That my friends, is the “Holy Grail” of all fitness goals and today’s post shows you how one man did it…
We’ve learned that by using some specific training and nutrition techniques (usually based on calorie or carb cycling and precision nutrient timing combined with heavy basic weight training and judicious amounts of cardio), it’s possible to greatly increase the odds of deliberately gaining muscle while losing fat.
In this special feature, you’ll hear how Brett – winner of the Burn the Fat Challenge holy grail award – increased his lean body mass from 143 lbs to 151.4 lbs while simultaneously decreasing his body fat from 23.4 lbs to 15.7 lbs. His body fat percentage dropped from over 14% down into the single digits –just over 9%.
It’s not uncommon to see someone gain a pound or two of lean mass over a few months along with a large fat loss. This however, is the quintessential body recomposition because Brett completely transformed his physique even though he weighed almost exactly the same in the after as he did in the before. When he finished, the fat weight he lost was replaced by enough muscle weight that he still weighed within a few tents of a pound of the same 166 lbs he started with.
There are some major lessons here about body composition versus body weight and how the scale alone never gives you the complete picture. Check out the pictures and read what Brett has to say below to learn more…
Hi everyone – Brett here. Thank you Tom for giving the opportunity to write about my experience in the Burn the Fat challenge transformation contest and thank you for choosing me as winner of the Holy Grail award for the best body recomposition. I really enjoyed the challenge and can’t wait for the next one! Here are the strategies I used and the lessons I learned about motivation, training, nutrition and body composition.
Mindset and Motivation
I decided to join the Inner Circle after I had read both of Tom’s ebooks, “Burn the Fat, Feed the muscle (BFFM)” and “The Holy Grail Body Transformation System.” The extensive knowledge I received from reading these books was truly amazing. The most important thing I learned was that you always need to do your own research when you are given information. There are so many bogus claims being made in the fitness industry today, but Tom explained how you can quickly confirm or refute any claim if you know how to do a little bit of your own research, instead of just accepting information blindly as fact. When you’re confident in the program you’re following, your mind is a lot clearer.
Another very important point that was made in BFFM was that just because something works for one person doesn’t mean it will also work for you. You have to customize and you have to experiment. I kept the mindset that if I tried one technique and it didn’t work, it wasn’t a failure, it was just part of the experimentation process. The best thing I did was to measure my results every week (get feedback) and then simply alter my diet or training program slightly the following week, then check results again.
My real motivation for the competition though, started when my wife expressed interest in joining as well. My wife had a baby last year and still had a lot of unwanted baby fat around her belly that she was not happy with. It was great for both of us to be able to compete in the challenge together, especially since we would have 2 chances of winning a trip to Maui!
We both started on day one eating the same foods and training together in our basement gym which we had never done before. The feeling of being able to train with a loving partner really made the difference for both of us in the challenge. Her results were exceptional too and she lost over 11% body fat in the 98 days along with building some very nice muscle as well.
I started off at what I thought was a low calorie intake with my high calorie days at 2600 and my low calorie days at 2100. But after the first 3 weeks, after reading all the blogs in the Burn the Fat Inner Circle, I realized this was too high given my body weight, so I decided to reduce it down to 2058 and 1646 respectively.
At the half way mark (week 7), I realized that I still wasn’t getting the results I wanted, so I reduced my calorie intake down again. It was a big decrease, but it really made the difference for me because in the first 3 weeks my body fat loss was only 0.2% per week compared to the final 7 weeks where I lost more than 0.5% consistently per week.
I began my calorie cycling with a 3 days low intake and then a 1 day high calorie reefed day. This felt pretty good on the higher calorie days, as I didn’t feel hungry at all, but when I dropped the daily calories down in the final 7 weeks of the competition I definitely felt the difference in hunger and energy levels.
After reading an article by Tom that suggested it could be possible to get better (body recomposition) results by having more high calorie days than just a 3:1 ratio, I changed to use one of these Zig Zag cycles. The Cycle I used was 3 high, 2 low, 2 high, 2 low. The article explained that depending on your current body composition, you may get better results by experimenting with different Zig Zag calorie cycles. So along with the reduced calorie intake I believe that the change to this type of Zig Zag dieting made all the difference in my results.
My training consisted of 4 days of weight training and 3 days of cardio with 1 day of complete rest per week, which was normally a Sunday. I structured my weight sessions around the TNB (The New Bodybuilding) program that Tom includes with the Holy Grail system. I was doing 2 upper body and 2 lower body weight sessions per week with 7-8 exercises for each session.
This program focuses primarily on compound large muscle group exercises and secondarily with isolation exercises. This worked well and I was able to vary the exercises to keep it interesting, while continuing to push my muscles each week with heavier weights.
Later during the competition, having read more about the benefits of large muscle group, compound exercises, I decided to change entirely to larger compound exercises like barbell rows, barbell bench presses and dead lifts. My sessions got a lot harder after this and I found that I was completely exhausted at the end of the session after doing these compound exercises which used multiple muscle groups. My heart rate was a lot higher during the sessions which I’m sure provided me with some extra fat burning in the process.
My 3 cardio sessions per week consisted of either a 45 minute run, 20 min HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) session on the cross trainer, 1 hour cycle or a 1 hour swim session. At the same time I was doing the 98 day challenge I was also training for the 14km Sydney City to Surf. I wanted to run at least once a week so that I could comfortably complete the race and not lose too much muscle in the process.
At the Burn the Fat Inner Circle, Tom has mentioned how he considers my results to be remarkable in the way I lost fat and gained muscle during the Burn the Fat challenge. Everyone here considers body recomposition to be the “Holy Grail” of fitness goals, so Tom asked me to touch on how I think I was able to achieve this.
My primary goal, which I outlined at the start of the competition, was to lose body fat and get below 9%. My secondary goal was to put on at least 1 kg of lean muscle mass – the holy grail of body recomposition. But by the end of the competition, I had reduced my body fat from 14.1% to 9.4% and had surprisingly put on 4kg (8.7 lbs) of lean muscle mass as well. The end result – which I understand is quite unusual – was that my total bodyweight hardly changed due to the drop in fat with concurrent increase in muscle.
I believe my recomposition results can be mostly credited to two factors: First was the change of exercises from isolation movements to almost all compound movements. That started making a big difference around week 9 of the 14 week challenge, so I actually added the majority of the lean mass I gained in a short period of time near the end of the challenge (which also goes to show that you should always keep experimenting). According to my stats, I put on 3 kg of lean mass in those last 5 weeks.
The second factor was adding more high calorie days. I still took the calories very low on the low days, but I switched over from the 3 days low 1 day high – which was better for fat loss I think – to a greater number of high calorie days in my zig-zag cycle. I give those extra high days a lot of credit for the muscle gains I experienced.