It’s 2017, HAPPY NEW YEAR!! My resolution was to start this blog and share what I’ve have learnt, and what I am currently learning. And for some of you, one of your resolutions might have been to start exercising…. So here is my quick take on the subject.
You’ve decided that you want to take action and get in shape. Great. You’re on your way!
But wait… What does it mean to get in shape?

Your own definition: 

Because a bodybuilder and a marathon runner both consider themselves as « in shape », those are very different shapes.
So first of all decide what « being in shape » means and make it measurable. Be it getting off the couch easily, to weighing 100 pounds less, to having a sixpack, to being able to run a marathon…
Define what being in shape means to you. If you have a target you can aim. You will otherwise have too many options of « getting into shape », and too much choice means you won’t be getting anywhere.
This is 40% of the effort.
I want to (fill in the gap and be precise) :
  • Lose _______ kilos of fat
  • Lift ________ kilos in bench press / squat / deadlift / bicep curl
  • Run _______ kms
  • Get into (a set pair of clothing I bought and love but never got to wear)
  • Etc
And secondly, define a date at which you will achieve this. If you don’t have a deadline, you will procrastinate endlessly. Then break it down into weekly steps to help you anchor it into reality and maybe revise your numbers.
I want to ___________ by (This precise date) , which means I will have to _____________ every week for X number of weeks.
And finally have yourself a sheet of paper on a fridge, a journal you will write into, an app on your phone to follow and measure your progress.

Find your reason :

Then define WHY. This is another 40% of the effort. If you define exactly WHY you are going to put in the effort, then when things get hard or temptation comes up, your mind will go straight to your reason and help you out.
  • Because I want more energy
  • Because I want to find a boyfriend/ girlfriend and I am sure this will boost my confidence
  • Because I need to change something in my life to make it better

This is critical. Stop reading and do this now!

If you know what and why you want it, the mechanics are easy to implement.
This is the carrot method… But some of you respond better to the stick. You can make a bet with someone, and make sure the cost of not executing will be morally painful.
  • Take pictures of yourself in underwear in the worst lighting possible, and bad angles and if you don’t achieve your goal at X date the pictures go on Facebook or Instagram
  • Give a large sum of money to one of your friends, and each time you achieve a weekly goal he give you part of it back. If not he gives it to a cause you absolutely do not believe in. This one hurts.
However you want to do this, do it so you stick to your plan.

Mechanics :

Quality and Intensity is better than sheer volume of training :

More is not always better. Here is how training works. You do something with your body that creates a stress reaction. Once you have stopped the activity, your body responds by become stronger so that next time this stress occurs your body can take it.

So you need to stress your body, rest long enough and feed it so it can become stronger, then stress it a little bit harder to start the process again.

As a general rule, here are the steps you want to go through :

  • Learn great Technique
  • Figure out your Maxes and work at a minimum of 80% intensity of that value on your exercises
  • If you hit a Plateau, change your Program
  • Go yoga, or Stretch
This is the TIPS method.
So that’s the basic plan. Now what does it mean in real life?

Two examples to illustrate :

Endurance example :Your plan is to run a 10k.
Strength example : Your plan is to lift your bodyweight in Bench Press which is 80kg.
1) First you learn proper technique.
Running : I recommend the POSE method. Don’t try and be perfect, just get a grasp of the principles. Yes there is a technique to running.
Bench press : I recommend following Alan Thrall, Mark Bell, Richard Hawthorne on youtube and following their recommendations. They strive to get better even though they have been at it for decades, and I find their advice extremely helpful, especially that they take into account personal differences, which isn’t true for all advice out there.
2) you have to figure out your max :
Running :  You do a leger-boucher test which is how far can you run in 12mins going as fast as you can. This will give you your lactic threshold speed. Your endurance running max basically.
(Distance/12)x60=max running speed
Bench press : have someone « spot » you, or make sure you don’t injure yourself if you are starting. Then you take 1/3 of your body weight and increase 2,5kg at a time doing 2 reps at a time. Take 3mins rest. Repeat. When you can only do one. Stop. That’s your max.
3) work at a minumum of 80% of that value
Running : Say this speed was 15km/h. You take 80% of that value, so 12km/h, and never run under that value. A simple plan I used for my marathon run was : monday – technique drills // thursday – intermittent sprints // saturday – long run going at 12km/h starting at 5km and adding 2km everyweek. Once I get to 30 k running at 12km/h. I stop. I’m ready for a marathon.
Bench press: lets say you got up to 1 rep at 70kg. 80% is 56 kg. So you take 56kg and do 5 sets of 5. You rest 5mins in between sets. If you manage it, add 2,5kg to your bar the following week. Keep the same weight until you can do 5 sets of 5 again. And repeat.
4) when you hit a plateau, change your program
So you’ll get massive progress to begin with and then you’ll hit a hurdle. This is perfectly normal. Your technique is better, your nervous system is getting used to the exercices, and you’ll put on some muscle and change your metabolisme. You are getting stronger and healthier. But you see no more progress….
This is when you change your program.
Running : you could try and include a 5k challenge and see how fast you can run it. Then add some heavy squats during your week.
Bench press : go for 3×3 and heavier for 3 weeks.
Or… Just find something else. You’ll have increased your knowledge, found forums, other programs. Try something else, and find new ideas, gains, sensations. And understand what works best FOR YOU.
This is your program. Go with something, learn, adapt, and progress.
You’ll go through several different programs during your life that will, or won’t help you. Great. You’ll learn in both cases. So just stick to something long enough to stop seeing progress. Then change.
And even more important :
Have fun 🙂

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