For the summer of 2013 I decided to try something a little bit different. Since I had no half marathons planned until late summer/ fall, I changed my main focus from running to gaining some muscle. In late May or so I ran into a Facebook group of women who were doing Body Beast. I have to give the The Facebook women’s group a BIG shout out! They were a HUGE source of information and positive motivation for me. I was also able to find other runners on there. Lots and lots of different body types and everything from seasoned Beastettes to first timers like me.
Body Beast is like no program I have ever done before. It’s more or less 90% weights and 10% cardio. Your trainer for Body Beast is Sagi Kalev. I enjoyed his style and motivation. He knows his stuff and it shows.
The program is set up in three blocks and includes a nutrition plan and a set of formulas to figure out your caloric breakdown.
NOTE: I did NOT take any of the supplements but I continued to use my usual protein powder.
- Build Phase ( 3 weeks) this is where you build your foundation training and includes days where you work more than one area at a time. Example Back / Bis. And you get to eat…a lot. 🙂
- Bulk Block Phase 5 weeks (yes that sounds a tad scary, at least it did to me) this is phase where you mainly work one area at a time. Arms, shoulders etc. But this is also where you put on the most muscle gain. Is it hard…well it ain’t easy sister, but I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would actually. And you still get to eat…a lot 🙂
- Beast Phase 4 weeks, you drop your calories and re assess how your macros are split. This phase is used to shed body fat and see your gains, not just feel them. Even though your drop your calories you are still eating quite a bit. (at least I thought) However for the first week I admit I was a bit hungry because I got used to the amount of calories, especially carbs, needed to bulk.
- Throughout the program cardio is limited for good reason but this can be mentally hard to accept, especially if you’re a cardio junkie.
Well I have to admit I did not follow the program to a “T” as far as cardio…or lack there of. I understand the science behind it (you need extra calories to build muscle and cardio is going to cost you calories, etc) I made the decision to tone down the running BUT there was no way I was going to stop running all together. I didn’t feel like starting from square one when fall race season came back around. With that said there is a Body Beast Cardio DVD, and it kicked my butt every time. It’s in no way a pansy cardio workout.
Like I stated, as a runner I did not want to start from square zero come late summer and into the fall running season. I still ran an average of 3 times a week but only about 10 miles max per week. (with the exception of two 10k races over the summer which up’d my mileage for those weeks) I realize this had some effects on my gains, but I still had gains that I am very happy with. I think my Beast Phase (shred phase) got a little off track because I had to start adding back in running miles and extra carbs (remember Beast Phase you care suppose to cut carbs) for Rock n Roll relay training so I didn’t shred as much as I could have. It was a timing issue.
I also added in additional ab workouts. (FYI: there is a Beast Abs video) Besides my arms my middle was my biggest area of concern and since I had already been concentrating on them I continued to do those additional workouts.
What did I learn?
- I learned a lot about muscle-building nutrition, macros and different body types.
- I found out my body type (click here if you want to see what yours is) is between an Ectomorph (builds muscle slowly, and that is frustrating) and a Mesomorph (need to exercise to stay fit),
- I now know what Macros, IIFYM and Myfitnesspal are.
- I discovered some of my favorite forms of protein are turkey chili, plain greek yogurt, cottage cheese and Quest Bars!
- And finally that you have to eat to gain muscle…I really liked that part. Eat more, look better? OK I’m in!
I did not take measurements when I started I wish I did. If I could do it over from day 1 I would. I know I gained muscle and strength. I was able to up my weights through out the program, that’s a good thing. I bought a new set of weights for the next round (yes I am planning on a modified round 2) as I was limited to my max weights on hand this round. Who would have thought?
- Did I enjoy Body Beast YES, yes I did very much!
- Did I see visible muscle gains Yes, yes I did 🙂
- Was it hard? It’s as hard as you make it. Your not going to want to bother if you only going to push 5 lbs around. Just like any program if you’re not willing to put in the effort and the committment why bother? You need to be disciplined with workouts and your eating habits.
- Did you get manly? Umm, no. I got tight with some added visible muscle, my stomach and my arms are the most toned they’ve been since having 3 kiddos. The only way your going to bulk up (like hulk style) is if you are using illegal stuff. Women look good with muscle…..period.
- Would you do it again? Yes, I already started a modified round 2 ( I am training for a half marathon and a duathlon) I like how I look and how much stronger I have gotten and I plan to keep it 🙂
SHHH: There are rumors (pretty good ones) floating around that there may be a female version of Body Beast coming out. No details on when.