Alright, let’s get right into the good stuff- changes in body stats and strength gains. At the start of the program I weighed slightly over 111 lbs. Flashforward to now, I’m almost 118.
I’ve gained 6 1/2 lbs, 6 of which is lean body mass. I’ve gained 0.4 lbs of body fat, but my body fat as a percentage of my total weight has actually gone DOWN.
I’ve tracked my strength gains consistently over the past few weeks on this blog, but to pick a couple I’m proud of, at the start of Hybrid, I was benching 85 lbs for my 5X5 day; at the end of the program I’m at 115 for 5 reps. For semistiff leg deadlifts, I was pulling 135 lbs, and now, I can do 155 lbs. There are lots and lots of examples of the strength gains (during 6X6 days and Hypertrophy days) I’ve made over the 12 weeks on this blog, and those gains along with the 6 lbs of LBM are a fantastic accomplishment. I’ve worked HARD!
Although this is the final week of the Hybrid program, I’m by no means done with my bodybuilding project. After this, I’m cutting cals temporarily for a photo shoot, and am back on track. It wouldn’t be fair to the structure of a great bodybuilding program like Hybrid to operate on anything but a caloric surplus I felt as my goals were to add strength and muscle mass, while minimizing bodyfat. Mission accomplished…My goal now is to keep packing on LBM, and though I recognize that’s a tall order for us gals, it’s by no means impossible, and I’m always down for a challenge.
The “final” (12th) week on Hybrid is a hypertrophy week. Although I’ve started to cut cals slightly, I am not (yet) seeing any strength losses and surprisingly am still seeing some increases in certain lifts. For the most part, I’m maintaining status quo. I’m a big believer that all those extra calories can create the perfect little anabolic environment for your body. Prior to this week, the last upper body hypertrophy week for me was Week 10. I see a small increase in performance for the incline DB press (Week 10= 40 lbs by 6,8,8 reps; Week 12=40 lbs for 8 reps by 3 sets). I see an increase in poundage for the flat bench press but am getting fewer reps (Week 10= 10 reps by 3 sets for 85 lbs, Week 12=8 reps by 3 sets for 95 lbs).
No change in back strength (lat pulldowns = 100 lbs for 8 reps for 3 sets), and oddly enough my chinups and dips improve (6 reps this week for all 3 sets!!). Week 10 =6,5,6 for 3 sets of dips and 6,5,4 for chinups. I’m really, really happy with this part. Those chins and dips are brutal! Love to hate ‘em!
Lower body hypertrophy day is one of my favorite days. I *love* leg training and the pace of the hypertrophy workout. For front squats, I get 10,8,8, and 7 reps out of 85, 95, 100, and 100 lbs. The first time I tried this, I could barely get 6 reps out of 85 lbs and I struggled with bar placement. It’s not an easy exercise to be sure and I think I might be the only gal or guy who I see around regularly doing this squat. Not sure why that is!? To totally blast my legs, I pick reverse stepping barbell lunges, another exercise I rarely see.
I love the power cage- it’s my little steel home away from home! Anyway, I lunge backwards and deep with 85 lbs for 8 reps by 3 sets and finish with leg extensions (2 sets by 130 by 8 reps). For deadlifts, I’m pulling 125 lbs for 4 sets of 10,9,9,8 reps. During Week 3, I was using 115 lbs for 12 reps for 4 sets. For once, I actually see an improvement in my lying leg curl, more reps but same weight (60 lb). Despite the gradual calorie drop, I’ve not lost any strength.Hybrid HIIT day has one thing in common with a lower body 5X5 day: it always takes a lot of mental toughness to get through it. The difference is-it takes me a bit more physical toughness and a LOT more sweat.
I do 10 sprints on the elliptical. Comparing with week 1- the HIIT portion has not gotten easier, but if done right, it never gets easier! You can always pedal faster or up the intensity a little bit to keep the 20 minutes as challenging as possible. I’ve always needed the full minute recovery, though I’m sure if there was any doubt, one could modify this portion depending on fitness level. The key is going all out during the sprints. I complete a circuit of jump squats, inverted rows, and bench presses, and end with 20 minutes of steady state on the rowing machine. OUCH! It’s always good to be done with this day!
Blogging here about Hybrid has the opportunity to share my program in the “real world.” But as a spokeswoman of sorts, and it still perplexes me that some myths just never go away. 1) If a woman lifts weights she’s going to look bulky. Really? I’m the poster child for anything but bulky (actually I’d like more bulky!) and I lift heavy, and eat extra protein and calories. 2) You need to do an insane amount of cardio to get lean. In my case, I actually dropped bodyfat while doing a LOT less cardio. This from a former competitive runner who HAD to have her daily run. Man or woman, lifting weights will do great things for your body composition. 3) You have to spend hours in the gym to “look that way.” To me it sounds like a lame excuse to do nothing. People assume I spend countless hours in the gym. Fact is, more than 1 hour in a gym is more than I can stand. If you are spending more time than that in there, you either work there (like I do) or you’re wasting time socializing. 4 times a week, for a total of 4 measly hours a week seemed to be enough stimulus to see results. You might even need less than that.
We all have demands on our schedules (jobs and family!) and you don’t need to sacrifice it all to make it to the gym, you just need to be efficient and focused and following a well designed program for your goals.
Anyway- that’s only a little of what I learned on the past 12 weeks here. Brinkzone (and BBR) are products full of the latest myth-busting, scientifically-backed information on bodybuilding, nutrition, fat loss and fitness, and it’s been a valuable resource for people like me who can’t get enough of learning and practicing fitness.
Time to go eat! Please feel free to leave comments below. See you on brinkzone or as Will usually concludes his articles with “See you in the gym!”
Sumi Singh is an Austin-based personal trainer with nearly 2 decades of experience in fitness. She holds specializations in pre-and post natal fitness, group fitness, and sports nutrition. She’s the author of Stay at Home Strong, a complete workout program for new moms. She’s also an online diet coach, a busy single mom, has set various world, National and state records as a powerlifter, and holds an BSc from Tufts, and a Masters from Duke University.