No cardio. Really?!
Jamie explains that she wants all of those precious calories that you would be "using up" doing cardio to go to building muscle instead. I'll admit, as a cardio junkie, this was tough for me to swallow. In fact, I will just confess that I cheated. On my "Rest days" I hiked, biked and went to my favorite classes because these are activities that I genuinely enjoy. And because I was terrified I'd gain weight without some cardio. I also walked to the gym on some of my training days because the thought of driving myself to the gym in order to burn a measly 100-150 calories was just too torturous for me to bear.
For beginners and cardio-despisers, the no-cardio rule in this phase is just a dream-come-true. For me, it was impossible.
Just tell me what to do, and I'll do it.
During this whole program, someone else (Jamie Eason) tells you exactly what to do, and you simply do it. Simple enough. One thing that I did notice: on several days that I felt totally uninspired to hit the gym, I did get my butt over there because I was 'following the program' and didn't want to get behind. Invariably, I was happy that I did.
As a long-time independent exerciser, the mere thought of following 'a plan' made me cringe. A day or so into the program, I realized that I loved having a written plan! I could check off those satisfying boxes and fill in the blank spots with numbers like the Rainman nerd that I am. I am pretty sure that in the future I will plan out my workouts just so that I can check off boxes.
New old moves.
I read a lot of fitness magazines and I am familiar with most exercises (except the Donkey Calf Raise). But that doesn't mean that I used them regularly. Example: you know that turnips, rutabagas and parsnips exist, right? You see them lurking over in the produce section. But do you eat them often? No! Same thing here.
|All the rage? Here is the infamous donkey calf raise in a recent Oxygen Magazine.|
An unexpected bonus of writing down the weight lifted is that I instinctively wanted to better myself each time I lifted. This was not necessarily the case before, as I couldn't remember every weight I lifted for every exercise I performed. When I had the data at my fingertips, it's clear- I either do the same or do better. Unless I have pain, I like to do better.
Chill out, man.
Incidentally Phase 1 has you resting a minute in between moves. That is 60 whole seconds! This is something I simply never did before. I would either do some sort of active rest (jump rope, mountain climbers etc) or superset another exercise immediately, so I never stood still in the gym, ever. During Phase 1, I felt very luxurious (and quite possibly a bit lazy) standing there for 60 whole seconds. But it gave me plenty of time to check in with Instagram.
For the beginner, Phase 1 is a dream. The first half gives you 3 days per week rest, and the second gives you two. That's pretty manageable. Especially when there is no cardio involved.
In the past 15 years I've trained anywhere from 5-6 days per week. So this was a definite step backward for me. As I mentioned, my rest days in Phase 1 were anything but restful. If I had to do it over, I'd probably opt for more rest because I was pretty wiped out by the time I got to Phase 2.
My results after Phase 1:
By the end of the month, I started to feel stockier. I had actually gained 4 solid pounds and my pants were tighter. This was partly due to an increase in appetite in the first two weeks, and eating out quite a bit the last two. As the old saying goes "Abs are made in the kitchen." I was not about to try a 'diet' that I couldn't stick with forever, so I just lived and ate as usual, which includes periods where I'm hungrier and periods when I'm not. The only thing that changed substantially were the workouts.
There is no question that the first phase builds muscle. Given the fact that the program is located on Bodybuilding.com, this shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. However, that doesn't stop husbands from worrying that their wives will become enormous she-men. Here is an actual conversation with my husband, Derek, after not seeing each other for about 10 days toward the end of Phase 1:
Derek: You're not going to take this too far, are you? (One eyebrow shoots up his forehead)
Deb: What do you mean?
Derek: Your arms look big.
Deb: What?!! Do they look fat?
Deb: How can they be big but not look fat?
Derek: (Backpeddling) Well, they aren't big, but they are bigger than before.
Deb: How can you tell that they look bigger but not fatter?
Derek: They just look bigger. Not fatter.
Deb: Not fatter?
Derek: (Sigh) No.
You can imagine that I was not a happy camper by the end of Phase 1. It made me wonder how much weight I would have gained had I not been "siphoning off" (burning) calories doing some cardio. It took all my might to not abandon ship, but I decided to stick with it to the next phase. I will have a review of Phase 2 soon.
Incidentally, I could post 'before' and 'after' photos for Phase 1, but honestly you wouldn't notice any difference. It's the sort of thing that I can feel but others can't visualize, even with the extra 4 pounds and the tighter pants. Instead, I'll post a photo of sweet Lindsay and me on the day that she and James had a layover in LA. It happens to be on the last day of Phase 1.