The Four Pillars of Transformative Fitness
To succeed, radical physical transformation need be simultaneously multidimensional.
Let us do something rarely done in fitness; let us speak philosophically. What are we doing and why are we doing it? Why are we exercising and dieting? Why are we lifting weights, performing cardio and eating with discipline? Why do we spend money at GNC? Why do we pay personal trainers to train us? Why are fad diet books huge sellers? Why has fitness grown into a three billion dollar per year industry? What is driving all this?
I would suggest that there is a single unifying motivation: to transform the human body. Transformation is a primal and intuitive urge. We seek to transform, from what we are into what we want to become. As Albert Camus once observed, “Man is the only animal that refuses to be what he is.” Man seeks to better himself, psychologically and physically. I would posit that all diet and fitness-related efforts are designed to spark a radical physical transformation.
How do we define a radical physical transformation? What are the characteristics of the final finished product? Are there irreducible goals that can define physical transformation? You have successfully transformed if somehow, someway you obtain…
- A dramatic increase in lean muscle mass
- A dramatic decrease in stored body fat
Anyone that somehow manages to significantly increase their quotient of lean muscle mass and significantly decrease their body fat percentile undergoes a complete physical makeover. Any athlete is made light years better, regardless the sport, if they manage to find a way in which to somehow become significantly more muscular and far leaner.
We use the modifier ‘significantly’ repeatedly because minor fluctuations and infinitesimal change is not what motivates us: in our mind’s eye we see our final finished product, a physically transformed body. If the internal vision is strong enough it causes us to convert mental visualizations in action. Mild, slight, barely noticeable transformations are no transformation at all: we seek mind-blowing improvements in physique and performance.
Once we have successfully defined what a physical transformation is, we can create protocols designed to attain the total makeover. Performance in all athletic activities is automatically improved if the athlete is made bigger, stronger and leaner. Any health issue is made better when we successfully engineer a makeover.
Now that the goal is identified and defined, the next logical question becomes, “how do we acquire lean muscle mass and how do we become leaner?
There are four interrelated, intertwined disciplines that need be practiced systematically and simultaneously. These are the transformational levers….
- Progressive resistance training: builds and strengthens external muscles
- Cardiovascular training: builds and strengthens internal organs and vascular system
- Nutrition: nutrient dense natural foods accelerate recovery and fat loss
- Psychological considerations: goals, willpower, adherence, momentum and psyche
Goals, short-term and long-term, are established within each of the four disparate disciplines. Goals are then set into time frames and weekly mini-goals are reverse-engineered within each category. Periodized templates are typically 8 to 16 weeks in length with 12 weeks being the average.
Here is a sample template: the goal of this 200-pound man is to lose 12-pounds (of body fat) in eight weeks while simultaneously adding 40-pounds to his deadlift.
Lifting (deadlift) | cardio | protein | weight | calories | mindfulness | Stress sessions
Week 1 235x5 3x18 min 100 g 200 3,400 3 x weekly 15 min
Week 2 245x5 3x20 110 g 198.5 3,200 3 x weekly 15 min
Week 3 255x5 3x22 120 g 197 3,000 3 x weekly 15 min
Week 4 265x3 4x24 130 g 195.5 2,800 4 x weekly 15 min
Week 5 275x3 4x26 140 g 194 2,600 4 x weekly 15 min
Week 6 285x3 4x28 150 g 192.5 2,400 4 x weekly 15 min
Week 7 295x2 5x30 160 g 191 2,200 5 x weekly 10 min
Week 8 315x1 6x32 170 g 189.5 2,000 5 x weekly 10 min
The first column denotes the week while the second column identifies the top set poundage (and reps) expected in the deadlift. The top set is done after preliminary deadlift warm-up sets have been completed. The trainee has a 275-pound max best in the deadlift in week 1. At the end of eight weeks his deadlift has been stair-stepped upward 10-pounds per week to 315-pounds, a whopping 15% increase. Space prevents us from showing the Periodized lifting schedules for the other major lifts.
Leanness is attained by, first and foremost, eating correctly: protein and fiber are the nutritional backbone, the constants, fat and starch carbs are manipulated downward. All junk food, sweets, sodas, fast food, beer, wine, etc., deleted.
Cardio need be intense and sweaty. Intense cardio can take many forms; it accelerates the metabolism, flushes blood through arteries and burns calories at an accelerated rate. Power nutrition is combined with intense cardio and hardcore weight training. Hold steady and perfect for 8-weeks and the depth and degree of results will stun you.
Protein intake is systematically increased, nearly doubled over eight weeks. This protein increase supports muscle gain in the face of decreasing calories. Column five shows how bodyweight is methodically reduced 1.5 pounds per week for eight straight weeks. Meeting bodyweight goals is incredibly easy the first few weeks and incredibly difficult the last two. Column six illustrates the methodic caloric reduction.
Please keep in mind that this chart is one Periodized potentiality out of a universe of Periodized possibilities. With a large spread sheet, you can periodize a dozen exercises simultaneously, you could break foods down into micronutrient content, cardio could be chronicled in excruciating detail. Mode, bodyweight, body fat percentile, on and on it can go. Periodized possibilities are limitless. Open your mind, access your situation, establish your goals.
To show how almost anything can be Periodized, in column #7 mindfulness and auto-visualization performance enhancing techniques are Periodized. The mindfulness sessions can take many forms and have varied goals: better sleep quality, stress relief, performance enhancement, focus enhancement, jet lag recovery or better energy. Log brain-train frequency, duration and rate it post-session, on a 1-10 scale.
Used in a synchronized fashion, the four disciplines morph the body, from what it is, into a far more streamlined and powerful version. Homage need be paid to all four disciplines to optimize results and hasten the transformation. Disregard one (or more) means results will be diluted and less than optimal. When all four disciplines are present and accounted for, when they are executed in a balanced, harmonious fashion, results exceed all realistic expectations.
If your fitness efforts are delivering less than optimal results, step back and view fitness philosophically – consider broadening your approach and consider periodization strategies. Transformation only occurs when current limits and capacities are continually challenged and breeched. Train the same and stay the same.
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Marty Gallagher's Full Bio HERE
After his leg injury in 1983, Gallagher turned his full time and attention towards coaching powerlifters. He guided Mark Chaillet to the USPF national title and a 2nd place finish at the IPF world championships. Mark would eventually win the APF world title and deadlift 880 weighing 270. Ed Coan approached Gallagher about becoming his competition coach. Marty coached Coan at his two greatest competitions: when Ed posted a historic 2,400 pound, three lift total, including a 959-pound squat, a 550 raw bench and an epic 901-pound deadlift. Ed weighed 219 pounds. Marty coached Ed when he squatted 1,000 and exceeded the three-lift total record, regardless of bodyweight, with a 2,464 effort.
Gallagher coached Black's Gym to five national team titles in three different federations. In 1991 Gallagher was named as one of three powerlifting coaches for Team USA at the IPF world championships in Orebro, Sweden. The United States won the world team title, capturing seven of eleven weight classes. Gallagher also coached a promising local lifter named Kirk Karwoski. Kirk went on to win seven national championships in three different weight divisions. Karwoski won six straight IPF world titles. He set 24 national records and 13 world records, including a 1,003-pound world record squat that has stood untouched for 20 years.
Since 2002 Marty Gallagher has worked in an official and ongoing basis with American Tier I spec ops fighters. He also works with members of the British Special Boat Service and the United States Secret Service. His minimalistic strength training approach has proven invaluable for time-pressed spec ops fighters and governmental field agents seeking to obtain maximal strength, muscle and power results for minimal time investment.