ProjectPaul's 12-week challenge

At the halfway stage of #ProjectPaul, Paul's personal trainer Shaun Estrago from Ultimate Performance gives us an overview of his approach for the 12 week programme.

School Of Personal Training Posted Sep 16, 2015 Future Fit Training

In the beginning... Nutrition

When Paul came to me at Ultimate Performance with the decision he made to see what body composition changes he could achieve in 12 weeks, we got to work right away with a training programme and nutrition guideline. I say guideline as whenever I have a client come to me I always start them with a protein goal, usually met by eating 4-5 meals per day, simply to increase levels and to start the fat loss process. I had Paul write down everything he was eating and send me it daily. From here I could calculate how much he was eating and where he was over- or under-doing some things. As this is online training with no 1-1 sessions we have to keep in contact every few days.

Training Schedule

As Paul is a husband and father with another baby on the way, as well as not taking a break from his head of school duties at Future Fit, you can imagine how busy he is, and as such he can only train 3 times per week with a 4th day added in if and when he has time. So every session has to be tough so that he leaves nothing behind on the gym floor, but also has enough recovery before hitting it hard again. The first few weeks has been tough for Paul as working this hard along with the change-up in diet is going to drain is energy.

Training Programme

Setting up the initial programme came from Paul's feedback on what he was currently doing before he started with me. In his case he was already lifting lower repetitions with maximal load.

Sets of 5 are actually in the range that I commonly use for hypertrophy anyhow.  Generally speaking a maximum set of 5 will involve about 85% of your 1 rep max weight and the lifter will use a bit less if they are doing more than one set.  That’s a weight that provides sufficient tension to get maximal muscle fibre recruitment. 5 reps also allows sufficient work to be done with that weight. High tension plus metabolic work is a winning combination for both strength and size, especially combined with load progression over time so this was a great start. I simply set up a 5x5 / 4x8 program using a German Body Composition style. Starting with two exercises back to back of 5x5, after this moving to 4x8 of two exercises and finishing off with 3x10-12 of isolation work. I prescribed multi-joint exercises such as a form of deadlift, squat, rows, pressing and plenty of split squats - Paul’s favourite ;)

Paul's Diet

The hardest part of any transformation is following a rigid diet. Paul had a large list of foods he could eat from so this is not a restricted diet, but the biggest change in Paul’s eating came at breakfast time. Although he was regularly eating eggs, there was still too much carbohydrate so we made the complete switch to protein and fats. Either from red meat, or oily fish, nuts, avocado and eggs.

The main goal of the meat and nut breakfast is to raise levels of the neurotransmitters acetylcholine, dopamine, phenylalanine and tyrosine. All of these are produced naturally in the brain and aid in mental focus, learning and memory, plus much more, making you awake and ready for the day. The reason I don’t like carbohydrate-based breakfasts like oats and muesli, let alone high sugar breakfasts like cereals and all the rest of that garbage, is because carbohydrates stimulate the production of serotonin. Serotonin is the hormone responsible for calming you down and putting you to sleep, which you don't want at the start of your day!

Most people nowadays (and especially people wanting to lose body fat) need to control insulin for their fat loss to be successful, so the carbohydrate breakfast is not an option. Once you have reached your fat loss goals however, it can be substituted in regularly but ONLY once your fat loss goals have been reached.

With plenty of choice in the food plan the hardest part is preparation, if you only have 10 minutes for a lunch break then popping to your local corner shop is not an option. We have all heard it but the quote is very apt: “fail to prepare, prepare to fail”.

Will another 6 weeks to go, let's see how Paul gets on…

About Shaun Estrago

After completing his Level 4 Total Immersion diploma with the Future Fit School of PT, Shaun has gone on to become Senior Trainer at Ultimate Performance in Marbella. He has recently spent time working at UP's gym in Singapore to further his knowledge and experience. Follow him on Twitter at @shaunestragoPT