Modern Physique Program Review – Plateau’s Smashed

“If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and life.  There are no limits. There are only plateau’s, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” – Bruce Lee

The final week of the Modern Physique is in the books.  My feelings about it are bitter sweet.  I felt that part of me had died when the Shortcut to Shred program came to an end.  The conclusion of Modern Physique feels like a relationship ending that you enjoyed but never got too emotionally invested in.  It has played it’s part in allowing me to learn about what works for me, without the intensity I have become accustomed to.  I never felt out of my comfort zone, even though I was pushing myself to failure on every set.

On the other hand, I have smashed through plateau’s in terms of what I have lifted.  I have decreased my recovery time in between sets of HIIT cardio.  Despite my physical appearance not seeming to alter that much, my T-shirts are definitely fitting tighter, a great boost to the ego.  Yet, I was never taken to a place of darkness in the past 8 weeks, where I had to reach deep down and find a version of myself I never knew existed to power through the workout ahead of me.

Training – Weights

The weight training aspect of the program has been challenging, if a little boring.  I’m not too enamoured with the lack of variation in the program, both in exercises and rep ranges.  Despite this, I have been able to improve my strength levels considerably.  I have increased to 45lb dumbbells on the incline press, an improvement of 10lbs.  I am leg pressing 300lbs for 8 reps, plus the weight of the bars.  Even the barbell curl, which is mostly posing strength, has gone up to a 50lb barbell for 10 reps with a full range of motion.  These gains are all a far cry from just 8 weeks ago.

One aspect of the program that I have really appreciated is the power exercises.  Whereas strength is the maximum weight one can lift, athletic power (not to be confused with the kind of power Donald Trump has) is combining that strength with a high speed of movement (article).  I don’t feel many programs focus on this attribute.  For someone like me who works on the field in the sports industry, it’s useful to know what activities work this element of fitness.

Aesthetically, the program didn’t achieve it’s goals.  Steve Cook stated that one of the 8 pillars the program was based on was symmetry.  Despite this, there were no calf exercises.  There were also no movements for the traps.  For a skinny guy like me, without continued calf growth, chicken legs are a real possibility.  As is giraffe neck.  To truly achieve symmetry, exercises to target these muscle groups should be included.

Training – Cardio

This has been a big win.  By combining HIIT and steady state cardio, I feel as fresh as ever.  I was concerned following on from the near death experiences of cardio accelaration that my aerobic capacity would decrease, but this has been far from the case.  My rest time between 30 seconds of explosive sprinting is only 30 seconds.  Compare this to 15 seconds sprinting and 45 seconds resting at the beginning and that’s a pleasing improvement.

Notably, I have felt the impact of this when playing soccer.  As a sport that requires constant changes of speed and intensity of running, HIIT is an ideal form of cardio.  Now 35, I haven’t been able to keep the same energy levels up since I was in my early twenties.  Of course, playing against kids helps, but being able to stop the  game to offer a coaching point without breathing heavy makes my job a lot easier.

Diet & Supplements

Late nights, early starts, lack of sleep and willpower has meant I haven’t been as strict on this as I should have been.  This is also probably why my bodyfat percentage has gone slightly up as opposed to decreasing.  Driving back from coaching and passing fast food sign after fast food sign, I’ve let temptation get the better of me more than once.  I can’t let this happen again.  Damn you Zaxby’s!

I have also been slack on my supplementation too often.  I have been consistent with fat burners, such as L-Carnitine and Caffiene tablets.  Protein shakes, not so much.  Now I don’t believe that I need to be smashing down pre, intra and post workout shakes.  There is enough research out there that suggests for skinny fella’s like you and I, this is overkill.  However, a Whey protein shake post workout and Casein shake before bed provide some good assistance for achieving the desired results of muscle growth, if only to hit the required macronutrient goal of a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day.

Results

Shape wise, I don’t look that different.  I certainly haven’t received the dramatic transformation that I was hoping for.  My weight has gone up by 5lbs (170lbs total) and my t-shirts are fitting tighter, around my chest in particular.  However, as mentioned, this is most likely be due to my dietary habits.

I do feel as though my calves (not shown) and traps have reduced in size and the pics above show that.

Conclusion

Pro’s
  • Increased strength
  • Increased aerobic capacity
  • Great program for novices looking to progress from the basic advice given at their gym induction
Con’s
  • No calf exercises
  • No trap specific exercises
  • Lack of variety

What’s Next

I’m jumping straight back into things, aiming to add 10lbs of muscle in 12 weeks with Kris Gethin’s 12 week muscle builder.  I have done this before, with some errors.  This time, I’ll be going all out to show how much muscle can be gained with high volume training.

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