84 days and 68 workouts later I am finished Jamie Eason’s Live Fit Trainer! Whew!
This is a free, online introductory weight training program broken down into three phases that I got from bodybuilding.com. I was trying to get my man more motivated to go to the gym, and I figured a program like this one would be a great place to start. All of the workouts are laid out for you so there’s no guess work. You check to see which day you’re on, print off your tracking sheet, and be on your way!
The program also includes a nutrition plan, however I didn’t follow it. My goals for completing the program were based on getting into a routine with weight training and having something fun to do with the boyfriend as opposed to getting some aesthetic results. If any of you reading this followed the plan to a T, please share your experience and results with me! I’d love to hear them 🙂
When I started this program I wouldn’t have considered myself a weight training newbie. I knew my way around the weight room fairly well and felt confident in my ability to execute proper form. I found the first two weeks of Phase 1 to be rather difficult, but not in the way I had expected.
There were only 4 workouts and they didn’t seem that tough. “I’m in for the long haul” I thought. Little did I know that the intensity would quickly elevate and I would find myself learning an abundance of new things about lifting weights!
The program is considered a split, meaning you train different parts of your body each day as opposed to doing a total body workout. This was something I was new to and actually really enjoyed. You start off with the basics: X number of reps for X number of sets, rest between each set. There’s no cardio to start with, so each workout takes between 45 minutes and one hour to complete.
Some days I added my own cardio like a jog at the end or some active rest between sets, but it’s by no means necessary. Your main focus during this phase is mastering the basics and developing muscular endurance to prepare you for what’s to come. In week 3 you add a second Leg Day (yes!!!), to bring your workouts up to five times per week. Bring on the #bootygains
Week 5, the beginning of Phase 2, introduces thirty minutes of steady-state cardio to four of your workouts. Time to start burning fat and show off that muscle you developed in Phase 1! While I really enjoyed this (I’m totally an endorphin junkie at heart) the boyfriend wasn’t too keen on this aspect. I had no problem running for 30 minutes, but to keep himself from getting bored he opted to perform 10 minutes each on three different machines.
Phase 2 also gets slightly more complicated in that it incorporates supersets, performing two exercises consecutively to keep your heart rate up (and thus burn more calories!). After you do the appropriate number of reps for each exercise, THEN you get to rest. By resting after completing two exercises as opposed to after each exercise, you spend less time resting and more time under tension. Translation: more muscle growth, more calories burned, more sexiness 😉 Read more about supersets and the other types of sets here!
And then we get to Phase 3. Ahhh Phase 3. I loved it. But I hated it. I felt like Ms. Eason had bypassed Phase 3 and 4 and jumped directly to Phase 5. My first workout for Phase 3 was quads and calves. All of a sudden there were plyometrics, working sets and active rests, and 90 squats. NINETY SQUATS.
My heart rate was through the roof for most of the workout, and I burned just over 800 calories on weights alone. Pretty impressive. I had to use both hands on the rail when I walked up the stairs to get to the change room, and then again when I walked back down. *Note to self: If I ever own my own gym, if I want to be a real bitch all I have to do is make the change rooms accessible only by stairs.
The rest of weeks 9 and 10 went fairly similar; every day except Leg Day incorporated 30 minutes of treadmill sprints, a totally mean and unfair thing to do to my dying quadriceps. I had come to accept the fact that I would be in pain until the program was over. In week 11 the sprints disappeared (yay!) but they were replaced by 30-40 minutes of steady state cardio, plus ONE FULL HOUR OF CARDIO once per week. Boooooo. These final two weeks tested our muscular endurance and had us doing 20 reps of 5-8 exercises, 4 times. I’m exhausted just thinking about it again.
So now the real question: how do I feel about the program? Despite my initial hesitations, I feel like this is a great, well-rounded weight training program. I enjoyed how the different phases focused on different areas of fitness: Phase 1 focuses mainly on building muscular endurance and strength, whereas in Phase 2 the emphasis is placed on hypertrophy, or increasing your muscles’ size. Phase 3 dips back into strength for the first two weeks, and then finishes strong building up your muscular endurance.
Each muscle group is given special attention to avoid over-development of a particular muscle, and the splits are spaced out in a way that prevents over-training. Each week, the night before my second leg day of the week, still lying in agony from the first leg day, I would think “There is no way in HELL I can work these puppies again tomorrow”. Like magic, I would wake up pain-free the next day, ready for a new administering of leg day brutality.
I never felt bored as the workouts changed every two weeks, and I was consistently challenged at a level just past my comfort zone…just where you want to be! The foundation you build in Phase 1 really does give you the tools you need to succeed further down the road, although it may not feel like it when you’re in the middle of 90 squats. And while not earth-friendly, you can print out a sheet that tells you what you need to do for the day and gives you space to record the amount of weight and number of reps you did. Perfect for when you need to feed your ego and revel in your progress later down the road. There are also short videos that accompany every single exercise so you know exactly how to do each move.
Now I know what information you really want: “How much weight did you lose??” “How MASS were your gains, bro???”
Well, unfortunately folks, it’s not all about the number on the scale. I find the scale to be an inaccurate measurement of our current standings. My weight fluctuates within a 2 pound range each day, so I don’t weigh myself very often. That being said, my fluctuation range is now two pounds lower. I’ve noticed a considerable decrease in body fat, especially in my upper thighs, and the muscles of my upper body are much more defined. I am especially happy with my shoulders 😀
All vanity aside here, I’ve noticed a dramatic increase in my muscular strength. When I first started, I could pound out 10, MAYBE 12 squats with a 65lb barbell, and I’d have to get someone to help me place that thing over my shoulders. Now I can bang out 30 reps and lift that bad boy up and over my head no problem.
There is AT LEAST a 5lb increase from what I was lifting when I started to what I’m lifting now, and many 10lb increases. I can go from chaturanga to plank no problem and my balance was better when I went snowboarding. When the things you practice in the gym translate into improvements in other activities you enjoy participating in…well that just screams progress to me!
Now what didn’t I like about the program? Well, at times I didn’t like having to do the workouts prescribed by someone else for 84 days. But tough shit, right? That’s what a training program is about! Whether you’ve made it yourself or you’ve had someone else design it for you, there are going to be times where you’d rather do something else, or nothing at all.
But you push through and get it done before basking in the glory of your mental strength. My only real complaint about the program is that at times the printable workout log isn’t exactly the same as the workout that’s listed on the actual website. It may be off by one or two sets, or two different names may be used for the same exercise which can get confusing. Opt for the harder option and you’re good to go!
Aside from that, I don’t really have anything negative to say about the program. I would recommend it to both the beginning and experienced fitness participant, and even if you don’t want to commit to the program I’d still recommend checking it out for some new ideas. Have a look and let me know what you think!
So now what? My 1/2 marathon training will be my main focus for now. 10 weeks! I also now look forward to developing my own routines and sharing them with you all. Stay tuned!
(If you’re looking for something a little more customized, check out my website to see the Personal Training and Online Coaching services I currently have available. I also offer inexpensive weight training programs similar to this one that are suitable for both beginner and intermediate fitness junkies. You can view those here)