Firstly, what a pleasure it's been to work with Rachel so far. One of the most upbeat and positive people to step foot in R5 and I've thoroughly enjoyed our sessions (even when she tells me to F off for adding more set/reps lol).
Rach had two very clear goals - bigger bum and more definition around the abs. All ready for her big day over in Mexico in four and a half months time.
In order for me to gauge whether or not I think a clients goals are achievable, I have to firstly assess body type. Rach is your classic ectomorph. Naturally slim, rarely gains body fat, usually has a great metabolism, but can also struggle to hold muscle mass.
With Rachel's goals being orientated around building muscle, this was going to be challenging, but not impossible.
We had to take what I call the 'all eggs in one basket' approach. Meaning every session has to be geared towards building as much muscle in our targeted area's. If the intensity of a session was too high or we started working muscles that weren't necessary our results could be diluted.
The plan over the first 6 weeks was low volume through heavy compound lifts. Primarily back squats, box squats, goblet squats and sumo deadlifts. Giving Rach a foundation of strength which would help all her lifts going forwards. The would also hit the fast twitch fibres in her muscles which tend to grow quicker early on.
Her numbers across all lifts went up significantly in the first 6 weeks, but it came with some push back form the body. Rach experienced feelings of being faint, light headed and dizzy during and after big lifts. A common side affect that comes with exerting so much force through the body. It took a while to get used to (and there may have been a few tears) but it wasn't going to hold her back.
After 6 weeks we began gently increasing the volume and exploring different hypertrophy techniques. There was a strong correlation between the amount of reps/sets we would do and the amount of swearing in each session. And despite walking round like John Wayne for a few days, it was great to see some real shape taking place at around the 2 month mark.
With around 3 weeks until the finish line, the volume in our two sessions per week hit it's maximum. So we decided to add in an extra one. Three sessions every week meant we could continue strengthening, shaping and now start slowly stripping away some minor excess fat that was intentionally gained.
The extra fat meant Rach could lift heavier and maximise her chance of building as much muscle as possible.
Our third session per week was conditioning. Goal specific resistance exercises, collated in a circuit aimed at pushing the heart rate whilst also breaking down muscle. There was definitely some queasy moments but again Rach adapted well and dare I say enjoyed the variation as she came towards the end of her program.
Away from sessions, Rach exercised roughly 2/3x per week. It was a combination of gentle leg workouts, with a stronger emphasis on core in the 2nd half of her program.
As I mentioned earlier, Rachel has a naturally strong metabolism. Combining this with heavy lifts (which will also drastically increase your metabolism), meant the amount of calories she had to consume would be at an uncomfortable level.
Gaining a small amount of body fat was essential so begin with. We needed to be in a calorie surplus everyday. We started on 1750 kcal's per day. This would eventually hit around 2800 kcal some days when at it's peak.
Consuming that amount of food proved really difficult to begin with. However, in the last few weeks when we decide to reign the calories in slightly. Rachel mentioned on a few occasions that she was missing the extra's calories. A good sign that the metabolism was still strong and her hormones were firing.
Food quality was generally very good with the occasional bad day/weekend. Rach stuck to her program fantastically and tracked on MyFitnesPal pretty much every day. Her commitment to be better each week was great to witness.
Something that's worth mentioning is Rachel's dodgy knee's. At the beginning of her program she made me very aware of an occasional flare up for sore knee joints. This was from years of gymnastics as a kid.
This was a factor in knowing when to push, and when to back off. Not every week would see us beat numbers on her big lifts. If the knee's were having a flare up, we would simply see what she was capable of on the day.
The amount of stress Rach's body went through in a short period of time, could have meant the program wouldn't be completed. But by being sensible and listening to the body, we were able to manage her ongoing knee issue. A key piece of advice for anyone new to lifting weights.
A huge well done for all the incredible hard work you've put in Rach! Super proud of what you have achieved so far. Have a fantastic wedding - I'll see you soon for the next phase.