Week 1: Off and running…and crawling

WARM-UP: It never fails to get Rich’s heart rate soaring or hit Stacey’s arms and legs

WHAT’S the common thread with people wanting to do the Amazing 12?

The answer: they want results.

The Amazing 12 has a history of success stories going back for more than a decade and across the world. So on this round of the Amazing 12 Chichester I have one graduate coming back to pick up where she left off and another who’s tried everything but not achieved the results he is after.

Stacey finished the program last April. When she started last time, she hadn’t done any training for the best part of 18 months. She’d had a child (who is now over a year-old). She was carrying extra weight and didn’t feel good in herself.

NO PRESSURE: Stacey wants to achieve even better results this time

Yet she achieved tremendous results – as you can see from the photos and if you read the blog. Her weight dropped from 10st 2lbs to 8st 10lbs and she increased both her strength and fitness. But now her goal over the next 12 weeks is to see how far she can progress, not just with her body composition, but also in terms of maximising her strength.

Joining her on this wave at the Core Results Gym is Rich Evans, a personal trainer himself (he runs Playground Fitness) and someone I’ve trained previously. Rich is on a mission to get leaner. He’s tried everything, he says, but can’t find the secret sauce.

Seriously, he’s had blood tests, urine tests, hormone tests to discover why his body is holding on to body fat. There could be reasons he’s not considered, like stress, or even the possibility of how having the belief that your body won’t release fat can be the cause of it.

However, Rich has never done the Amazing 12 program, though first enquired about it several years ago. The timing wasn’t quite right back then in terms of finding a three-month window where he could devote himself fully to the training. But now is the time.

FORM: For someone who isn’t keen on weights, Rich has good technique

This is going to be an interesting journey. Rich, 48, is a vegan. He’s never been a big fan of weight-lifting either. He has knee issues from multiple operations that don’t stop him moving, but have to be managed carefully. His lower back is sensitive also. 

For the past three months he’s been training mostly by himself, doing mainly bodyweight, high-intensity-style training and lots of cycling. As someone who records everything, Rich supplied me with the data – his diet, training, weight charts etc. He measures his food meticulously and monitors his heart rate.

FINISHER: to the session and a solid week

Many of the practices he is used to will be different from the Amazing 12, which will be a challenge in itself for him. His last three months saw him lose about 10lbs in weight and some body fat, but the biggest marker for me was the loss of muscle mass. Most of his workouts were cardio, which would partly explain why.

Effectively, he was burning muscle, which is the body’s best weapon for burning fat!

On the Amazing 12 the goal will be to increase muscle mass and decrease body fat. His weight will be whatever it will be. It’s not a key measurement. But this week his weight has increased and body fat remained the same, suggesting the process of muscle building has already started. Early days. 

EASY START: Stacey back into her deadlifting groove

Stacey comes in at about 6lbs more than when she finished the last wave five months ago, which is impressive. We’ve trained almost weekly since then, but not with anywhere near the same intensity or frequency as on the Amazing 12. She even admitted that her diet hasn’t always been great. But Stacey’s retained much of her muscle and strength.

What she has achieved this week compared with the first five days of her initial round of the Amazing 12 is quite staggering. She’s a different beast – and I mean that in the nicest way possible. The soreness this time round – which is typical on the first week – isn’t as severe as it was last time either. 

Her greatest challenge, though, will be to achieve quality sleep to help to recover from one workout to another. As I’ve written about previously, sleep is where all the magic happens. It’s when your body transforms. Little sleep equals less transformation.

It’s not easy with a young one in the family, but as Stacey has never been a good sleeper anyhow it makes the situation twice as hard.

Somehow, Stacey functions and looks great on little shut-eye. But if she can improve her sleeping patterns, her potential for change is going to be greater.

We had one session this week where I had to cut back the load as Stacey was pretty much a walking zombie. Three days later we tried again and, despite her telling me she thought the outcome was going to be the same, she actually did 120 reps more!

At the end of this first week she’s already dropped weight and body fat.

The workouts have been a bit irregular in terms of times, though – some in the morning, evening and early afternoon – which takes getting used to. Stacey and Rich both prefer training first thing. Rich, normally an ace sleeper, said his sleep had been unusually disrupted this week and there could be many reasons for that.  

FIRED UP: Rich is giving his all every day

Rich had certainly put in a solid shift this week. As you can see from the photo, he’s a determined character. I couldn’t have asked for more and the thought did cross my mind on the last day of training whether he can sustain this level of commitment and intensity to the end.

He’s persevering with my nutritional guidelines even though it’s the opposite of what he’s been used to doing. He bombards me with dozens of questions daily, but that’s what I’m here for. 

Rich likes to know the ‘why?’ in everything. So when I change something or suggest something he’s not used to, that’s the question that comes back. It keeps me on my toes, as I need to know my stuff. Plus, my father always taught me that ‘why’ was the most important question.

STEADY: getting the technique right before adding weight is vital

I may be the coach, but my clients are always teaching me, too. I learn through them. That’s just one thing I like about this job.

But it’s also possible to over-think things. Rich understands how it’s also essential to trust in the process and allow it to do its thing. That requires an element of surrender.

The week ended well. Both Rich and Stacey were a bit sore going into the final session. Rich was absolutely buzzing by the end of it. And his tenacity is unquestionably motivating Stacey to step it up a notch. It’s an exciting thought to see where we go from here.