What a weird title for a post, huh? Well, there’s a reason behind. If you have never heard about the three gentlemen I mentioned, let me suggest you Google them and start reading. These guys are no rocket scientists (Berardi can get pretty geeky with food chemistry, though), they are fitness professionals that are helping thousands of people around the world to destroy useless concepts about training, nutrition and health, and shift to stuff that actually works. I think that what attracted me in the first place to their points of view was that everything they wrote made perfect sense, and yet it was politically incorrect. More of less the same thing that happened when I was introduced to Diamond Way Buddhism. But back to these guys, as soon as I began reading their stuff I was hooked and super motivated to put theory into practice. It was the perfect timing too, right after recovering from my toe fracture.
I started by testing Cosgrove‘s suggestions for interval training. I printed out his chart and gave it a go in the gym’s treadmill. Right from the start I understood what they all meant by intensity: while the workout looked easy (run for a few seconds and then rest), it totally tested my cardio fitness. I decided to try a weight training program but couldn’t decide between Cosgrove’s and Ballantyne‘s. At the end I chose the second one because it was downloadable, and bought it just in time for the “Cofla” contest.
“Cofla” is the word us Peruvians use instead of “flaco”, which means “skinny”. Some friends at the company I used to work in (a software development company, where at least 90% of the staff was male and a big percentage overweight) created that contest that lasted for two months and had for winner the person who lost the most body fat in proportion to their initial body fat (the first time they measured weight but then realised that body fat was a better guideline). The contest was great because it encouraged people to be active and eat well, at least for two months a year. Each person paid a participant fee, and the winner got the big fat amount plus a free lunch at a great seafood restaurant, where the final results were announced. People who gained body fat instead of losing it had to buy a round of pisco sours each for all the participants. I entered the competition in the summer of 2007. I bought Turbulence Training and got good results, but didn’t win the prize (I ended in a very respectable 5th place amongst 21 persons, 19 of them men).
I didn’t reach my real goal, which was going back to my lowest fat percentage ever, but I definetely noticed a big improvement in my physique and fitness level. I tried all Turbulence Training workouts, and then bought John Berardi’s Metabolism Advantage. His website precisionnutrition.com has become my #1 source of nutrition information and advice. The training program was good, maybe a bit on the “classical” side (lower body, upper body, full body splits), but effective after all. What’s more effective in the end is mixing programs so that your body doesn’t get used to a routine that becomes easy to perform.
I use weight training as my foundation for building up strength (as a means to live a long, healthy life) but I have always had a main activity. For almost three years it was taekwondo, until I finally left it because many things got in the way (I changed jobs and had to be earlier in an office that was further away from the gym, I moved further away from the gym, my instructors left the gym where I was a member). When my gym membership expired I felt like I had no reasons for renewing it and bought dumbbells instead (the ones with interchangeable plates). I trained at home every other day and kept on practising my kicks. At that time I started postrations too, a meditation that involves serious physical activity. Of course the aim of the meditation is to develop certain inner qualities but the by-product is stronger upper abs, shoulders, and arms, as well as increased cardio fitness (if done with intensity and in high volumes).
After a while I finally accepted my husband’s multiple offers to teach me kung-fu and we started training in our backyard. Fighting with my fists was a completely new experience for me, because we only used them in TKD for practising forms, and not when fighting (there were no points given for punching until a few years ago). Then we moved temporarily to my in-laws house, where we couldn’t train as frequently as possible because of the lack of room and time (the house was further away from my office, so I spent much more time in buses). A few months later we moved again. The new house was close to a big, nice park, so we included running in our workout routines. Alvaro started preparing himself for applying to the Australian Defence Force months before we came here. I did sprinting intervals after postrations.
A few months before coming to Sydney we began training kung-fu with Alvaro’s sifu, Walter. We trained on Saturdays in the park near home. Then, when I quit my job one month before coming, we started training a couple days a week in the gym were Walter works. As usual, I thought I wasn’t fit enough to handle the training, but I was.
Then we moved here and I spent two and a half months looking for work. Of course we kept training as much as we could, bodyweight exercises at home and some running at the park. Once again, Turbulence Training bodyweight program helped me maintain my fitness level. When I finally got a job, and got my first payment, I visited the three gyms that are near my house. I really liked one, the BBB (“bueno, bonito y barato”: good, nice and cheap), so I signed a 12-month membership. I got an appointment for a fitness assessment, mainly to measure my body fat after a long time of mirror-guessing. I decided to ask for a weight lifting routine, too, for a bit of variety. I performed the 8-week program they gave me, but didn’t like it very much. So I went back to Turbulence Training. I’m also doing boxing 2 to 3 times a week, which was a huge challenge at the beginning (remember I used to be a kick girl, not a punch girl), but I’m getting better at it.
I’ll finish Turbulence Training programs right before travelling to Peru on April. I know I’ll come back with a few extra kilos of pure body fat, so I’ll have to train hard as soon as the plane lands. I still have to decide between repeating The Metabolism Advantage or start The New Rules Of Lifting For Women, which I recently bought and haven’t read yet.
Going back to the guys in the title of this post, this is a summary of why I respect everything they write:
- Their work is based on a critical analysis of scientific research, meaning that they not only do what science says works, but they compare that with real-liferesults.
- They build programs that maximise energy expenditure.
- They choose free weights and classic, effective exercises over machines and useless movements.
- They always stress that nutrition is more important than exercise.