IT’S not every day you get to work with a former secret agent. Jokes aside, Mr. Brosnan-lookalike, Rich Evans, signed up for the Amazing 12 Chichester on a specific mission: to beat the fat loss conundrum.
Irrespective of anything else he achieved on the program over what was, in fact, nearly 13 weeks training at Core Results, his definition of success or failure would rest on one thing only, fat loss.
As a personal trainer and avid skier, he kept himself active and fit. As a vegan of many years, Rich took care as to what he put into his body. As someone who would frequently joke about himself being a “freak” in reference to what typically worked on others had no effect on him, Rich had tried everything.
Comprehensive DNA profiling revealed the extent of the challenge. His report indicated: “a severe potential for poor fat release”. This means “a tendency to put on weight via abdominal fat” and “a susceptibility to carry more weight and a struggle to lose weight easily with exercise.”
So it certainly sounded like the odds were stacked against Rich from the get-go. He’s not the type to do things half-heartedly, though. Rich is all-in. There are few people I’ve met as organised, thorough, diligent and structured as Rich. I knew he would be totally committed.
And so, several years after first hearing about the Amazing 12, he decided to go for it.
“I had tried all sorts and been told by nutritionists and others that what I
was eating was good [80 per cent whole foods, organic with some
processed foods at weekends],” said Rich.
“I had done different levels of exercise over the years – mainly bodyweight but some weights and other cardio work as well, but not shifted body fat.”
But if the task wasn’t already a testing one, Rich had more to contend with that was totally unexpected and beyond anyone’s control.
At the end of week two his mother passed away and then at the end of week nine he injured his left knee badly: a classic wear-and-tear injury. Subsequent scans revealed the cartilage had worn away.
Rich, who turned 49 during the program, limped out of the gym that day, disheartened having put so much into the training and thinking it was over. He was in pain, unable to bend his leg.
Effective and immediate treatment, a positive attitude and determination got Rich back in the game quickly. However, the consequences of the injury meant I’d lost my two strength-building big guns: the back squat and deadlift. Also, equipment like the prowler, a great conditioner, was out, too. Rich would continue, but training his upper body only.
Rich also had to stop a crawling program I had him on which, interestingly, elevated his heart rate more than anything else. Up until week nine, it was worth noting, too, how his average and peak heartrate during crawling started to decrease even though the challenge I set him each week was, on paper, harder.
Because of his mother’s funeral arrangements and taking the time to be with family as well as a few other previous commitments that meant he would be away for a short time, Rich opted to add on an extra week to the program. This decision was taken before the knee injury.
However, it meant four weeks of mostly upper body training and it was around this time, coincidentally or not, that I noticed the weight beginning to come off him.
Usually, when you see someone more or less every day, it’s hard to spot the changes. But with Rich it was apparent and Stacey Satta, his occasional training partner, noticed it, too. Still, Rich’s scales were telling a slightly different story and he wasn’t fully buying into the success.
The passing of his mother was obviously a difficult time and coincided with when Rich struggled most, around weeks five-seven.
“Mum died at the end of week two and we had the funeral during week four. My mind was, for obvious reasons, elsewhere,” admitted Rich.
Until then, though, Rich, being as meticulous as he is, had taken notes from when he started the program.
At the end of week one he wrote, “I’ve had the of the worst nights sleep I can remember for months – I feel battered and am today [Saturday] feeling tired after not sleeping well last night.
“But I am pleased to be doing the A12 and with two days off am, in a
strange way, looking forward to training again on Monday.”
Rich’s sleep patterns soon returned to normal, but he also had difficulty with the nutrition side of things. Being someone who weighed and measured his food with precision, changing to a different system that was less than surgically precise in terms of calculations was difficult for him. But he went along with it.
“I was so used to eating low carb and not much [in total] and was being told to eat much more, and more carbs,” he explained.
“But my body doesn’t like them [carbs] – I know that through trial and error. I feel sluggish and am wanting more food than I have done for ages. Is this the training or the carbs that my body isn’t used to?” he wrote in his diary.
After the first week, Rich had put on 2lbs. “It’s nothing,” he wrote. “It’s a snapshot. I need longer to see a trend and most of that is muscle, but that bloody fat % is the same! Grrrrr….
“Trust the system. Trust Claude. I do, but I have a small nagging doubt
in my mind will it work with me? I hope so – I’m investing lots of
money, time and effort in this after all.”
So you can see where Rich was coming from. In week six his weight reached a peak of 12st 8lbs. His muscle mass was highest in week five. It was in week five that Rich felt most tired and found it tough, at one point being unable to comprehend how, if things didn’t improve, he would make it to the finish.
In week six he had a particularly frustrating session trying to find his technique with the deadlift and by week seven he was back to being tired and exhausted.
But then I sensed he was turning a corner – until his knee ‘went’ in week nine and we had to consider how to best proceed.
A solution was found and, again, Rich turned up and gave it all he had. In week 10, he took off a few days to ‘celebrate’ his birthday and it probably came at a good time as he was nursing his leg and the rest most likely did some good because from week 11 until the finish Rich was sailing.
I think you can tell clearly from the photos, even if the numbers on the scales aren’t significantly different, that Rich leaned out, especially around the waist, and packed on size to his arms, shoulders and chest.
His overall weight went from 12st 4lbs 6oz at the beginning to 11st 12lbs 2oz (a drop of around half a stone). His body fat percentage began at 22.7 and fell to 20.9. His muscle mass started at 9.0.8, peaked in week five at 9.5.6, fell to its lowest in week 12 at 8.13.2 and finished at 9.0.2.
It’s fairly typical, though, if you are carrying extra body fat to have to get leaner first before you can build muscle. All the numbers, however, point towards Rich moving in the right direction except for the reduction in muscle mass. We had many conversations about this and, not being a big eater, Rich probably didn’t consume enough calories to retain and build further muscle, although the priority was always fat loss. Getting that balance right was the tricky part.
“I really hoped that this [the A12] would shift the body fat and I’d look leaner,” he said.
“I have never been what you’d call body-confident, so was hoping that at last I’d shed the fat, look and feel leaner and with that be less self-conscious of my lack of leanness. Maybe that should be my self-perceived lack of being in shape, as I’m probably not as bad as I think!”
Rich, though, went into the program with the understanding that – based on past experience, testing and DNA reports – his body would not respond to the training in the same way as thousands of others who’ve been through the Amazing 12.
But he was hoping it wouldn’t be the case and maybe what this proves, in Rich’s case and at least for now, is that any loss of body fat is not influenced by training and diet alone. There’s maybe a missing factor – something not working as it should – and to get the results he wants will take longer than it would for the average person.
If 12 weeks of training on the Amazing 12 and eating well failed to reduce his fat levels massively (other factors like sleep and stress didn’t seem poor), I firmly believe no amount of training with any other system over the same time period would have provided better results.
“Now I know I wasn’t deluding myself, living a lie and making excuses that I struggled to lose body fat,” he said.
“Whilst I desperately wanted it to work – to get to the end with all the
exercise and eating according to an incredible plan that has been
carefully worked out and gets incredible results – to find that it didn’t
work for me maybe proved that I don’t react like normal people.”
There wasn’t a shred of doubt he became much stronger. Here a some examples. In week 10, I had him try some pull-ups and he managed a few and then, quickly, hit a wall and couldn’t lift himself at all.
In the final week, Rich was able to do 45 bodweight chin-ups in 15 minutes. A week after the program, he completed a chin-up from a dead-hang position with 14kgs attached!
I started him with 15kgs doing the Military Press, the exercise he found the hardest. I recall how tough he found it when the weight got to 19kgs (week two), 22kgs (week three) and 27kgs (week six), yet at the finish he was pumping out reps using 41kgs!
Similarly, doing incline dumbbell bench presses, he went from completing a set of 15 reps with a 17.5kg in week five to 19 reps with 20kg in week 10.
Across the board, Rich increased his strength, as did the quality of his movement. Even Rich could see and feel the changes happening – but not significantly enough.
“I’m delighted with my strength and fitness levels,” he said, admitting he’s never been this strong in his life.
“I knew I would get stronger – having read blogs from Claude’s and other A12 trainers. All the results from the A12 show this that really was
a given and, yes, would be good,” said Rich.
“I’ve never been keen on weights, so haven’t really done them.
This was going to be a good challenge – I’d get stronger, which as I get
older is important. That was going to be a postive.
“And I believe that doing something you aren’t ‘good at’ is always a
good thing as it challenges you and can only improve you.”
I found that Rich’s technique on most movements was spotless and, consequently, he grew in strength. I kept adding weight and Rich continued meeting my targets.
And a week following the program, I had Rich back in the squat rack with a weight on his back doing reps not only without any discomfort to his knee, but with better technique than I’ve seen from him before!
He completed every session he turned up for (missing six of a possible 63 for the reasons I explained earlier), the only exception being one afternoon when, suddenly, he had to take off because he’d remembered he’d left something cooking on the stove. Rich was relieved to find his house hadn’t burned down, but the sweet potatoes were beyond saving – unless you like them looking and tasting like charcoal!
He can be excused for that. Fact is, he gave it everything. I can’t deny that. Rich carried himself with integrity, which I respect greatly.
“I struggle to understand why anyone can’t commit to this or why it would be difficult,” he said. “Yes, it takes time out of your day, but it is so structured and we always find time to do what we want to.”
Rich, though, would probably admit he’s hard on himself. “I hoped that with the strength improvements my self-confidence would return –
most people wouldn’t think that I lack this but we all have a mask –
a different mask for different people,” he said.
“Working part-time as a PT, I want to look the part as well as act it. Whilst most of my clients seem to think I am fit -and I probably am compared with them and almost certainly am compared with your average male in his late 40s – I don’t want to compare myself to this.
“I look at people at least 10 or 20 years younger than me and see no reason why I can’t be that fit, lean and in shape?
“Who am I kidding? Being completely honest, most of this is
personal! I clearly have ‘issues’, but then don’t we all? We do…..don’t
Ultimately, he was disappointed. I’m not used to hearing that. But I gave my best and Rich gave his best, albeit under at times trying circumstances. We knew from the beginning that, with Rich’s knee history, he wouldn’t be able to do the Amazing 12 exactly as prescribed. And from week 10 it was a more modified version because of the injury. But I constructed the program in the best way possible given the limitations.
You, the reader, may look at Rich’s results and see what he achieved and disagree with his evaluation. But I respect his honesty.
“Yes, I know I have changed shape and am stronger than I probably
ever have been [fitness is relative – sport specific so I am not
going to say fitter] and should really focus on the positives.
“Whilst I have changed shape and know that it is not all about the numbers, I do not feel lean.”
Asked what he’d say to someone contemplating the program, Rich replied: “Do it. It gets results. It’s an incredible program and, yes, it can be a challenge,but it really is easy to do – turn up, do what Claude tells you to and go home. Get results! What’s not to like?
“Stronger, healthier, fitter – where else can you get results like this? Why
He added: “The best thing about the program is the support Claude gives you. He is always there to answer questions [and I had a lot!] whether by email, text, WhatsApp or phone – you never feel alone through the whole program.”