“Success is a staircase, not a doorway.” – Dottie Walters
Having completed a program like this previously, where it culminates after a set period of time, it was accompanied by a sense of loss. Similar to moving house, a relationship breaking up or leaving a job, that fear of the unknown as to what happens next, despite pouring your sweat, blood and tears into something is almost inevitable. I imagine those who train for a marathon feel the same.
The Shortcut to Shred program is in the books. It has pushed me to my limits at times. I have felt like throwing up on numerous occasions at the gym. There have been times when I have wanted to devour food like Jimmy Five Bellies on a kebab night. I have had DOMS so bad the day after a session that the thought of working out again was akin to fighting a Samurai warrior while blindfolded. Yet, now that it’s over, there is a sense of sadness attached.
Training – Muscle Building
Changing countries/gyms certainly presented it’s challenges this week. Firstly, starting this program from a small village in the UK, the gym I was using had very few gym-goers Using equipment was never an issue. Planet Fitness in Chapel Hill, NC is a different kettle of fish. Anytime I set up one piece of equipment and went to grab something I else I needed, by the time I got back, someone had taken it. For example, the lying tricep cable extensions. I would set up the cable machine, walk off to get the bench, bring it back and it was being used. For a program that requires you to be constantly moving, this was frustrating.
There was also the fact that Planett Fitness does not have a barbell. Part of their whole mantra is “no gymtimidation” and I guess that they made that decision in order to keep the meat-heads who congregate at benches and bars from scaring of those just looking to get in shape. Completely understandable, but it mean that for some exercises, I had to use the Smith machine instead.
I should note, I have nothing against the Smith machine. It gets a bad rep due to it’s fixed position, which means it does not activate your core muscles enough to strengthen the mid-section like a barbell does. For a man looking to achieve a 6 pack, this is not ideal. However, the stability certainly assists with adopting a mind-muscle connection to target a particular muscle group and can help fix form issues.
The final week of the program saw a return to week 3’s volume, with days 1-3 being sets of 2-5 reps and days 4-6 being sets of 21-30 reps. The weight conversion and change to the Smith machine meant I was unable to gain a true comparison of strength improvements from week 3. However, I picked weights that allowed me to reach failure in the required rep range in each activity. As far as I am concerned, this was adequate enough.
People think that low weight, high rep training is not for those looking to build muscle. Nonsense. Many programs out there utilise lighter weights due to the pump they provide. Plus, if you are using them to a repetition failure, your muscles will feel it. Mine certainly did this week, as the last 3 days I was constantly feeling like throwing up due to the oxygen my body was requiring. My muscles looked swollen after every set (sadly this does not stay). I can certainly see some improvements in areas thanks to this type of training.
Training – Fat Burning
There’s no doubt about it, this was a tale of 2 workouts. During phase 1 of the week, with lower reps, I felt as fresh as a daisy, pushing through every cardio acceleration move with aplomb. As you can see above, I even attempted the battle ropes for the first time (great activity for those with dodgy knees). However, during phase 2 of the week, I went through dizzy spells (nothing too severe) and struggled to get my breath at times. A combination of humidity and and intense training I fancy.
Following on from week 5, my knee discomfort was horrendous. I had to miss out squats in the weight training. I also had to miss out on varying my cardio as much as I would like. No goblet squats, kettlebell swings, jump rope, jumping jacks or lateral bounds. Anything where I had to overly bend my knee. Why I didn’t get this checked out on the NHS when I had chance I will never know.
What was interesting is how much the cardio acceleration impacted my overall performance in other activities. I played soccer for the first time in 3 months and felt great – lighter, sharper moving and with a higher endurance level. The same could not be said about my colleagues. 1-0 to Francis.
Diet & Supplements
After last weeks horror show I went a bit too far the other way this week. Yes, I kept my carb and fats intake to a minimum, but my protein intake was also lower than it needed to be. To be fair, I thnk this helped massively in terms of reaching my goals. There was definitely some minor muscle loss, but a big decrease in the bodyfat percentage. More importantly, I felt good.
The caffeine supplements started to show their true benefits. As well as ramping up my metabolism, they also helped keep me focused, with the addition of long working hours to my training. Despite the photo above, I am not a coffee drinker, but I can see why people get hooked. If you are a coffee drinker, additional caffeine supplementation is NOT recommended.
Finishing Weight – 165lbs (6lbs dropped total)
Finishing Bodyfat – 14% (7% dropped total)
Very happy days! A 7% drop in total, including 3.5% in the last week is very satisfying. If I’m being critical, I’m disappointed at the lack of a more defined stomach, but for someone like me with abs that need strengthening and growing, I can accept it. Besides, realistically I would need to get below 12% to have my abs showing.
Muscular wise, my chest, shoulders and traps look more defined. However, I have certainly lost some thickness on my back, arms and thighs (take my word for it). With the drop in weight, this is to be expected. My next program will be aimed at gaining size and I’m sure this will re-appear.
- It works!
- You’ll feel fresher and more awake.
- 6 weeks is a short period of time if you are looking to get trim for an upcoming vacation or wedding or some other special event
- 6 days a week is a lot of time in the gym
- A decrease in muscle mass
- Dropping carbs so drastically is very tough on energy levels
I’ll be taking a week off any kind of resistance training, limiting myself to yoga poses and 3 mile runs. This will give my body chance to fully recover, as well as give my heart a workout – the most important muscle of all.Email This Post