Congrats to everyone who has slogged their way through the Summer Slam Challenge. I have to say that it really has been ‘the best’ challenge we have run in terms of structure – the week to week food challenges, the focus on what you CONSUME rather than solely on what you DONT – I just think this challenge has hit the ‘sweet spot’ of setting people up for long-term success.
I’m not totally satisfied and think some features we have included previously (video demos of the exercise challenges in particular) could have been helpful – whilst these generally have low viewing numbers I just think they fall into the category of ‘when you need it, you need it’…anyway, it’s good to have some learnings. My thoughts right now are that we will continue with the ‘all out restriction’ based challenge in Feb (28-Days-Later) to undo the Christmas/New Year damage but will run a ‘RESET’ style challenge like this one (“Summer Slam 2020”) in October. Anyway, I would love your feedback on this point – firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will of course run the 12-Days-of-Christmas mini-challenge in December and I have started work on that already (after all, it IS November).
So far we have completed more than SEVENTY Body Scans and I haven’t spent any time at all analysing results at this time – anecdotally I can tell you there has been some pretty consistent weight loss (across the board) throughout the challenge and I know there were lots of big smiles on people’s faces yesterday…as always though, some people (usually including me but somehow I forgot to scan – tomorrow will be my day) who see pretty minimal fat loss and at the same time lose some muscle…this is primarily a “Fuel” problem (not enough incoming to support your activity level – and activity goes UP during a challenge). Is losing muscle a problem? Well – when you are in ‘out and out’ fat loss mode, I think losing SOME muscle can be seen as acceptable collateral damage. Outside of that though, muscle cells help drive your metabolic rate (which makes it easier to ‘maintain your weight’) AND given around 60% of calories burnt in a day are directly related to the process of just staying alive (and another 10-15% is related to food digestion), maintaining a solid Muscle Mass and relatively high metabolic rate is good for weight loss today AND for weight loss potential!
The question is, how can you BUILD MUSCLE.
Challenge #1 – You have to EAT!
If you want to gain muscle, you have to eat MORE calories than you are burning. If you are in DEFICIT (which, to be fair, many people end up in a deficit during the challenge) then you need more cals in than out as a first step. So look at the base metabolic rate number from your body scan and target that as a MINIMUM, then add a 10% allowance (per day) for exercise…and these numbers are minimums. You cannot build muscle if the body doesn’t have excess fuel with which to do so.
Challenge #2 – You have to STRESS!
Now you have your belly filled with food (see challenge #1), you have to STRESS to PROGRESS. You need to challenge your body with strength related stimulus in order to build new muscle fibres. This doesn’t happen unless you are pushing yourself towards failure…The balancing act we have reached at this point is now that we have increased our eating to enable our bodies to build, if we don’t use that fuel to create muscle then – well – it will become fat.
Challenge #3 – You need to get some SLEEP!
I am going to say that this is the secret step so many of us miss in today’s crazy society. Muscle’s don’t grow whilst you train – they grow when you SLEEP. You need to have the fuel and create the stimulus…but without sufficient sleep and recovery you simply will not be able to increase your muscle mass. There are a heap of blog posts about sleep and sleep strategies – chase them down if you need too – but basically if you want to add muscle mass, then sleep is the key.
That’s it – I’m sure we could all benefit by adding between 1-2kgs of muscle between now and the end of the year – and with sufficient food, training and rest that *SHOULD* be possible. Adding muscle is incredibly hard to do – incredibly hard – and the fears expressed about getting ‘too big’ or becoming muscle bound…well you should be so lucky. For most guys out there, adding 1kg of muscle per month would need 5-7 days of strength training per week…for girls, that same level of training would be lucky to result in a 300g-500g increase.
See you in the gym,
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