Let us answer all the questions you may have
WHAT CAN THIS PROGRAMME DO?
Before commencing any exercise programme, it’s highly recommended that you visit your doctor and get clearance to exercise, especially if you have any risk factors.
RISK FACTORS INCLUDE:
- Family History: Any heart related disease before the age of 55years of age in father or other male first-degree relative, or 65 years of age in mother or other female first-degree relative.
- Cigarette smoking
- High Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol
- High Blood Glucose levels
- Obesity i.e. Body Mass Index (BMI) > 30kg.m2
- Sedentary Lifestyle
Please note that the programme prescribed is designed for healthy and non-injured individuals. If you have any injuries, consult a fitness specialist to advise which exercises may aggravate your injury and to receive alternative exercises. It’s also advisable to take this programme to your gym and ask an instructor to check your technique and make sure you are conducting the exercises correctly.
Who is this plan made for?
This is a plan for anyone who wants to lose weight, and keep it off.
The 12-week programme is a realistic timeframe to see results if you stick to the weekly exercise regime and nutritional guidelines. Yes, it will take effort and discipline, but The Belly Off Plan was specifically developed for men looking to lose their gut, no matter your fitness level or age. Whether it’s been years since your stepped into a gym, have let it go for too long or are just aimlessly walking around the gym – this the plan has the structure and balance you need. It is aimed at men who want to make a change and just need the motivation and plan to make it happen.
What can I expect from the workout and meal plans?
What both the workout plan and meal plan have in common is balance. At Men’s Health, we don’t promote extreme diets or exercise. For long-term success, we believe in a balanced eating plan that ensures you feel satisfied and keeps pace with your increased appetite as the training intensifies. Both have been developed with experts at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa and tested to ensure they’re realistic, accessible and most importantly, effective!
The workout plan is gym-based with four sessions a week, including two “strength” days and two “cardio” days to ensure balance and to allow time for your body to recover. Each workout will take you between 45-60 minutes. If you’re concerned about lifting weight or doing something unfamiliar in gym, don’t worry – the plans don’t expect you to have any prior knowledge or experience. We have included videos of all the moves to show you the perfect form. In just one week you’ll become familiar with the moves and start to see your body responding in the first month – it’s that effective.
For the meal plan, you will not go hungry. The first thing readers ask is – what do I have to give up? Most expect small portions of flavourless steamed food. This couldn’t be further from the truth. What our expert team of dieticians have provided is a menu filled with daily FUEL – just enough of the right calories to keep you satisfied throughout the day but ensure your boost your metabolism to assist with the fat-burning. The superfoods in the shopping lists and the meal plans have been carefully worked out in conjunction with the exercise plan for maximum fat loss, but keeping in mind you’re a busy guy and used to a healthy helping of food! The dieticians have based the diet on a protein-rich, omnivorous, good-carb diet with tons of greens to provide the right amount of energy to fuel your workouts and your weight-loss. Expect three square meals a day and plenty of snacks in between to stave off mid-morning or afternoon hunger. Yes, there’ll be things you’ll need to cut out or cut back on (er, beer) but you’d expect to make some sacrifices for the changes you want, right?
Can the meal plan or shopping list be updated or changed if I have specific preferences?
Yes, of course. This is not a personalised plan, but a broad-based and balanced eating plan based on the majority of tastes and cooking styles. We’ve avoided following one particular style but added in hints of cooking styles and flavours which, according to the experts, should accommodate most readers’ tastes. However, we realise there could be foods you’d want to swop out. This meal plan is a guideline and with some common sense you can safely replace rice with cous cous, or salmon with white fish without too much overall effect as long as you stick to the portion sizes.
If you require more technical or detailed dietary advice, we’d recommend you consult with a specialist. It won’t compromise the Belly Off plan which you’ve bought, but could only add to the overall effectiveness of the results. You can also find dozens of recipe alternatives on the Men’s Health website: mh.co.za/recipes
Can the workout plan be adapted or exercises swopped out if I have an injury or exercise preference?
Yes, within limits.
The great thing about working out in this way is that it’s easy to find an alternative if you have a bad back or knee injury, for example. Just like the meal plan, the workout programme has been finely tuned to ensure you get the right balance of strength and cardio to get your engine working at its peak. The types of exercises and combination of movements have been carefully worked out over the 12-week period to keep you challenged and build total body strength so you can shed the weight and see results.
But there are always alternatives, especially body weight movements that can be swopped out but still deliver the intensity, but you’ll need to get some advice or check in with us for suggestions. If you’re just unsure about a certain move or never done it before, give it a go – check the video instruction next to each move in the daily workout and look carefully at the movement. If in doubt, speak to a trainer or personal instructor at gym to assist you. You can also get more advice on our website: https://www.mh.co.za/fitness/
Please note: before attempting anything strenuous or are unsure of any move, nothing replaces getting professional advice from an exercise professional. We’d recommend at least one or two sessions with a qualified trainer at a facility like The Sport Science Institute to kick start your weight-loss journey.
Can I pay if I don’t have a credit card?
If you do not have a credit card, please send an email to email@example.com to discuss an alternative method of payment.
HOW DO I DO THE STRENGTH SESSIONS IN THE PROGRAMME?
Perform strength training session on nonconsecutive days. We recommend doing a strength session, a cardio session on the following day and then having a rest day before doing the final strength and cardio sessions for the week.
Perform one set of all exercises in Superset 1, followed by a second set of each exercise and repeat again if doing 3 sets. Then move onto Superset 2 and repeat the sequence as described and so on for the Superset 3 and 4. This maximises workout time and burns more kilojoules as you’ll be resting less. There should be no recovery between exercises within a superset; you can rest for 2-4 minutes between supersets.
Adhere closely to the specific exercise techniques. Perform exercises in a slow and controlled manner.
Select weights that require moderate to hard effort. (i.e. be able to complete a set of repetitions with your chosen weight, but the last few repetitions should become challenging). You will know the weights are too heavy if you are unable to complete all the repetitions with good technique.
TRAIN WITH A PARTNER
If possible, exercise with a training partner, who can provide feedback, assistance and motivation.
Maintain a normal breathing pattern, exhaling on exertion.
Prior to any strength session, make sure you do some cardiovascular exercise at an easy intensity for about 10 minutes such as jogging, cycling, rowing etc.
Complete the programme with about 5 minutes of light cardiovascular exercise followed by stretching the muscles which were worked during the session. How Do I Do The Cardio Sessions In the Programme?
Warm-up exercises prepare the body for more vigorous activity. They are designed to increase blood supply to your working muscles. These exercises should last for approximately 5 minutes and should elicit a light sweat.
Cool-down exercises assist the body in returning to a resting state. You should cool down for about 5 minutes and do similar exercises to your warm-up, but at a lower intensity. The aim is to return the heart rate to about 100 beats per minute, or about 50% or your maximum heart rate.
RPE (rate of perceived exertion)
Use the table below as a guideline for intensity
HOW DO I STRETCH PROPERLY?
- Always warm-up before stretching; many people choose to stretch AFTER their cardiovascular workout.
- Stretching should be slow and controlled with no bouncing. Hold each stretch at a point of mild tension for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Repeat each stretch twice.
- Do not excessively extend, flex, twist or lock any joints.
- Do not stretch through pain – release the stretch if any pain is felt.
- Try to stretch four to five times per week.