As some of you may know I have recently completed Joe Wicks’ a.k.a. The Body Coach‘s 90 day Shift, Shape and Sustain plan. I have a lot of people asking me about the programme and how I found it, so I thought I would do a blog post all about my experience.
Although the plan is designed for fat loss, I did it mainly because I wanted to continue learning about fitness and nutrition. Last year I completed Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide, which you can read about here and I learned so much from doing it, both in terms of workouts and nutrition, that I was eager to tackle a new challenge this year.
Overall I was really impressed with the plan, mainly due to its highly personalised nature, as the plan is adjusted according to you and your energy requirements. It also contains a wealth of information, regarding all aspects of training, including the three main macronutrients, meal frequency, food preparation tips, supplementation as well as containing videos of all the exercises. It does cost a lot of money, £147 to be exact, but you really do get what you pay for.
To begin with you have to fill in a really detailed questionnaire all about your current eating habits, workout routine and lifestyle choices. This is also the point where you submit your ‘before’ photos, so that the team can assess your body composition. Afterwards you are assigned a ‘support hero’ who is there to answer any questions you may have whilst on the plan.
Cycle One: Shift
Everyone completes the same 3 cycles, the first of which is designed to burn fat. As such, the only exercises in this cycle are short 20 minute HIIT sessions, which you do 4-5 times a week. In effect you work at your maximum capacity for 30 seconds, rest for 45 seconds and repeat this to complete a 20 minute workout
In terms of nutrition, you only have a carbohydrate rich meal after training, otherwise fat is the main energy source in all meals. All meals come from set recipes, some of my favourites of which are pictured below:
Cycle Two: Shape
This cycle is all about building lean muscle mass. This is done by adding weight training, specifically German Volume Training (GVT), to the HIIT sessions, so the duration of the workouts increase to 40-45 minutes and you do them 4 times a week.
The nutrition changes as well, as you now have carbs with every meal on training days and there are no longer any recipes, instead it’s based on a ‘pick and mix’ principle, where you construct your meals around a protein, then add spice, vegetables, a carb source (on training days), a fat source (on rest days) and a side sauce.
Cycle Three: Sustain
In this last cycle the nutrition is a mixture of the first two cycles, as you can either make meals from set recipes or use the pick and mix principle, which allows for more flexibility depending on what you have in the kitchen. The macronutrient breakdown is most similar to cycle one though, as you only have carbohydrate rich meals after working out.
In terms of training, it is still a combination of HIIT and weight training, although the style of weight training is slightly different and is called pyramid resistance HIIT, which you still do four times a week.
Overall I really enjoyed the plan, however I do think that it is best placed for those looking to lose a lot of weight or looking to get in shape for a particular event, e.g. a competition/wedding etc. As mentioned before, the main reason I tried out the plan was to learn more about nutrition and training, which I definitely have.
One of the main benefits for me was learning to love more protein rich meals and snacks. For example, the below dish (spinach, smoked salmon, avocado and cottage cheese) has now become one of my favourite breakfasts, whilst prior to starting the plan I would always crave something sweet in the morning. I am also more mindful about the snacks I choose and I now try to incorporate some protein rich snacks into my day, such as beef jerky or a hard boiled egg, rather than just cereal bars or fruit and nut bars.