Body for Life
is a 12-week nutrition
Dieting is the practice of eating food in a regulated fashion to achieve or maintain a controlled weight. In most cases dieting is used in combination with physical exercise to lose weight in those who are overweight or obese. Some athletes, however, follow a diet to gain weight...
and exercise program, and also an annual physique transformation competition. It was created by Bill Phillips
William Nathaniel "Bill" Phillips is an American entrepreneur and author. He is the author of the fitness book Body for Life: 12 Weeks to Mental and Physical Strength. He is the author Eating for Life, founder and former editor in chief of Muscle Media magazine and the former CEO of EAS, a...
, a former competitive bodybuilder
Bodybuilding is a form of body modification involving intensive muscle hypertrophy. An individual who engages in this activity is referred to as a bodybuilder. In competitive and professional bodybuilding, bodybuilders display their physiques to a panel of judges, who assign points based on their...
and owner of EAS
EAS is a large distributor of performance based nutritional supplements with approximately 300 staff, annual sales exceeding $300 million dollars and offices/distributors in 54 countries.-History:...
, a manufacturer of nutritional supplements. It has been popularized by a bestselling book of the same name.
The first annual Body for Life competition was held in 1996. (It was then called the "EAS Grand Spokesperson Challenge".) Entrants write about their experience of the program, and send this to EAS along with their 'before' and 'after' swimsuit
A swimsuit, bathing suit, or swimming costume is an item of clothing designed to be worn by men, women or children while they are engaging in a water-based activity or water sports, such as swimming, water polo, diving, surfing, water skiing, or during activities in the sun, such as sun bathing.A...
photos. Prizes vary each year, but in 2005 the first prize was US$1,000,000. Since, it has gone down significantly with the last payment being US$25,000 for the past few champions. Most recent champions include 2008 Grand Champions Emily Alvers and Colby Knight.
Body for Life makes use of principles that have been widely known in bodybuilding. Its differences are in the way it has been packaged and marketed
Marketing is the process used to determine what products or services may be of interest to customers, and the strategy to use in sales, communications and business development. It generates the strategy that underlies sales techniques, business communication, and business developments...
so as to appeal to consumers and be understood by the public. It supports an extensive ancillary industry of gym
The word γυμνάσιον was used in Ancient Greece, that mean a locality for both physical and intellectual education of young men...
A nutritionist is a person who advises on matters of food and nutrition impacts on health. Different professional terms are used in different countries, employment settings and contexts — some examples include: nutrition scientist, public health nutritionist, dietitian-nutritionist, clinical...
s and personal trainer
A personal trainer is a fitness professional involved in exercise prescription and instruction. They motivate clients by setting goals and providing feedback and accountability to clients. Trainers also measure their client's strengths and weaknesses with fitness assessments...
The human body
The human body is the entire structure of a human organism, and consists of a head, neck, torso, two arms and two legs.By the time the human reaches adulthood, the body consists of close to 100 trillion cells, the basic unit of life...
adapts itself to changes in nutritional intake. If the calorie intake is reduced, the body responds by slowing down its metabolism, and by burning
Catabolism is the set of metabolic pathways that break down molecules into smaller units and release energy. In catabolism, large molecules such as polysaccharides, lipids, nucleic acids and proteins are broken down into smaller units such as monosaccharides, fatty acids, nucleotides, and amino...
muscle in preference to fat . This reduces the metabolism long-term. When the diet comes to an end and normal calorie intake is restored, the individual starts to gain weight even faster than before. This is known as yo-yo dieting
Yo-yo dieting or Yo-yo effect, also known as weight cycling The term "yo-yo dieting" was coined by Kelly D. Brownell, Ph.D., at Yale University, in reference to the cyclical up-down motion of a yo-yo. In this process, the dieter is initially successful in the pursuit of weight loss but is...
. Diets that focus exclusively on calorie reduction often fail in this way .
With these concerns in mind, Body for Life addresses energy expenditure (i.e. exercise) in addition to energy input. For best results, Body for Life holds that this exercise should include weight training
Weight training is a common type of strength training for developing the strength and size of skeletal muscles. It uses the weight force of gravity to oppose the force generated by muscle through concentric or eccentric contraction...
to build skeletal muscle and increase the metabolism over the long term. This also helps to maximise the energy expenditure and fat
In histology, adipose tissue or body fat or fat depot or just fat is loose connective tissue composed of adipocytes. It is technically composed of roughly only 80% fat; fat in its solitary state exists in the liver and muscles. Adipose tissue is derived from lipoblasts...
loss from aerobic exercise.
Body for Life's exercise program is more complicated than its diet program. It suggests exercising six days a week, normally Monday to Saturday, and alternating between weight training and aerobic exercise
Aerobic exercise is physical exercise of relatively low intensity that depends primarily on the aerobic energy-generating process. Aerobic literally means "living in air", and refers to the use of oxygen to adequately meet energy demands during exercise via aerobic metabolism...
. The seventh day, usually Sunday, is a rest day (referred to as the "free day", during which no exercise is done and unhealthy, normally fatty foods may be eaten). Weight training sessions alternate between exercises for the upper body and exercises for the lower body. This allows the exercised muscles enough time to recover fully before the next training session.
Each fortnight follows the same pattern:
| Week 1
| Free Day
| Week 2
| Free Day
Body for Life uses Gunnar Borg's Rating of Perceived Exertion (known as the Borg scale
In sports and particularly exercise testing, the Borg RPE Scale measures perceived exertion. In medicine this is used to document the patient's exertion during a test, and sports coaches use the scale to assess the intensity of training and competition. The original scale introduced by Gunnar Borg...
) for assessing the intensity of exercise based on how hard you feel you are working. It uses the variant developed by the American College of Sports Medicine
The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 40,000 international, national and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and...
, which uses a scale of 0 to 10:
- 0 is no exertion at all.
- 2 corresponds to very light exercise. For a health
Health is the level of functional or metabolic efficiency of a living being. In humans, it is the general condition of a person's mind, body and spirit, usually meaning to be free from illness, injury or pain...
y person, this is like walking
Walking is one of the main gaits of locomotion among legged animals, and is typically slower than running and other gaits. Walking is defined by an 'inverted pendulum' gait in which the body vaults over the stiff limb or limbs with each step...
slowly at their own pace for several minutes.
- 5 on the scale is somewhat hard exercise, but it still feels OK to continue.
- 8 is very strenuous. A healthy person can still go on, but they really have to push themselves. It feels very heavy, and the person is very tired.
- 9 on the scale is an extremely strenuous exercise level. For most people this is the most strenuous exercise they have ever experienced.
- 10 is maximal exertion: an all-out, 100% effort.
These levels accommodate differences in fitness
Physical fitness comprises two related concepts: general fitness , and specific fitness...
. An unfit individual may require a level 10 effort to walk briskly uphill, whereas for a competitive athlete this may only be a level 3 effort. Over the course of the 12-week Body for Life program an individual would get noticeably fitter, so their intensity scale needs to be adjusted over time. This is considered normal.
Body for Life uses a "wave" pattern, periodically building up from level 5 to level 9 or 10 during an exercise session. This allows the muscles to warm up, and gives the body a chance to build up to a "high point" of maximal exertion. Brief but intense exercise provides maximum stimulus for the body to build strength
Physical strength is the ability of a person or animal to exert force on physical objects using muscles. Increasing physical strength is the goal of strength training.-Overview:...
Endurance is the ability for a human or animal to exert itself and remain active for a long period of time, as well as its ability to resist, withstand, recover from, and have immunity to trauma, wounds, or fatigue. In humans, it is usually used in aerobic or anaerobic exercise...
, but without the risk of overtraining
Overtraining is a physical, behavioral, and emotional condition that occurs when the volume and intensity of an individual's exercise exceeds their recovery capacity. They cease making progress, and can even begin to lose strength and fitness...
Exercises for upper-body muscle groups include:
The pectoralis major is a thick, fan-shaped muscle, situated at the chest of the body. It makes up the bulk of the chest muscles in the male and lies under the breast in the female...
(chest), e.g. bench press
The bench press is an exercise of the upper body. For bodybuilding purposes, it is used to stimulate the pectorals, deltoids, and triceps. While on his or her back, the person performing the bench press lowers a weight to the level of the chest, then pushes it back up until the arm is straight...
, pec-deck, incline flye.
The latissimus dorsi , meaning 'broadest muscle of the back' , is the larger, flat, dorso-lateral muscle on the trunk, posterior to the arm, and partly covered by the trapezius on its median dorsal region.The latissimus dorsi is responsible for extension,...
(upper back), e.g. pull-down, bent-over row, dumbbell pullover.
In human anatomy, the deltoid muscle is the muscle forming the rounded contour of the shoulder. Anatomically, it appears to be made up of three distinct sets of fibers though electromyography suggests that it consists of at least seven groups that can be independently coordinated by the central...
(shoulders), e.g. upright row, shoulder press, lateral raise.
The triceps brachii muscle is the large muscle on the back of the upper limb of many vertebrates. It is the muscle principally responsible for extension of the elbow joint .-Terminology:...
(rear arms), e.g. push-down, triceps kickback, bench dip.
In human anatomy, the biceps brachii, or simply biceps in common parlance, is, as the name implies, a two-headed muscle located on the upper arm. Both heads arise on the scapula and join to form a single muscle belly which is attached to the upper forearm...
(front arms), e.g. biceps curl
The biceps curl is any of a number of weight training exercises that target the biceps brachii muscle in order to develop one or more of the following attributes:*size*definition*strength*endurance*power...
, concentration curl, hammer curl.
Exercises for lower-body muscle groups include:
- Quadriceps (front legs), e.g. squat
In strength training, the squat is a compound, full body exercise that trains primarily the muscles of the thighs, hips and buttocks, quads , hamstrings, as well as strengthening the bones, ligaments and insertion of the tendons throughout the lower body...
, leg press
The leg press is a weight training exercise in which the individual pushes a weight or resistance away from them using their legs. The term leg press also refers to the apparatus used to perform this exercise...
, leg extension.
In human anatomy, the hamstring refers to any one of the three posterior thigh muscles, or to the tendons that make up the borders of the space behind the knee. In modern anatomical contexts, however, they usually refer to the posterior thigh muscles, or the tendons of the semitendinosus, the...
s (rear legs), e.g. leg curl, lunge, glute-ham raise.
- Calves e.g. standing calf raise, seated calf raise.
- "Abs" (torso), e.g. crunch
The crunch is one of the most common abdominal exercises. It primarily works the rectus abdominis muscle.-Form:A crunch begins with lying face up on the floor with knees bent. The movement begins by curling the shoulders towards the pelvis. The hands can be behind or beside the neck or crossed over...
, reverse crunch, leg raise.
Most of these exercise can be performed using either dumbbell
The dumbbell, a type of free weight, is a piece of equipment used in weight training. It can be used individually or in pairs .-History:...
s, a barbell
A barbell is a piece of exercise equipment used in weight training, weightlifting and powerlifting. Barbells range in length from to although bars above 7' in length are used primarily by powerlifters and aren't commonplace...
, a Smith machine
The Smith machine is a piece of equipment used in weight training. It consists of a barbell that is fixed within steel rails, allowing only vertical movement. New variations allow a small amount of forward and backward movement. A Smith machine often includes a weight rack in the base to help...
, a cable machine
A cable machine is an item of equipment used in weight training or functional training. It consists of a rectangular, vertically-oriented steel frame about 3 metres wide and 2 metres high, with a weight stack at each end. The cables that connect the handles to the weight stacks run through...
with adjustable pulleys or a specially-designed apparatus. Two exercises should be chosen for each muscle group. Five sets of the first exercise are performed, and then one set of the second. Weights for each set should be chosen so that the specified number of repetitions can be achieved at the specified level of intensity. For example:
| Set 1
|| Leg Press
|| 100 lbs
| Set 2
|| Leg Press
|| 120 lbs
| Set 3
|| Leg Press
|| 140 lbs
| Set 4
|| Leg Press
|| 160 lbs
| Set 5
|| Leg Press
|| 140 lbs
| Set 6
|| Leg Extension
|| 50 lbs
Weight training sessions proceed at a brisk pace, with one minute of rest between the first four sets for a muscle group, and no rest between the final two sets. The cadence
Cadence in sports involving running is the total number of 'revolutions per minute' , or number of full cycles taken within a minute, by the pair of feet, and is used as a measure of athletic performance. It is very similar in respect to cadence in cycling, however it is often overlooked in its...
for each repetition should be one second to lift the weight (while exhaling deeply), one second holding it at the top, two seconds to lower the weight (while inhaling deeply) and then one second pausing before the next repetition. Each session should be completed within about 45 minutes.
Most forms of aerobic exercise are suitable. Common choices include walking or running
Running is a means of terrestrial locomotion allowing humans and other animals to move rapidly on foot. It is simply defined in athletics terms as a gait in which at regular points during the running cycle both feet are off the ground...
(perhaps on a treadmill
A treadmill is an exercise machine for running or walking while staying in one place. The word treadmill traditionally refers to a type of mill which was operated by a person or animal treading steps of a wheel to grind grain...
Cycling, also called bicycling or biking, is the use of bicycles for transport, recreation, or for sport. Persons engaged in cycling are cyclists or bicyclists...
, swimming, or the use of a rowing machine or cross-trainer. However, exercise classes are generally not suitable, unless they are specifically designed to suit Body for Life.
Aerobic exercise sessions are limited to 20 minutes duration. They compensate for this by following the same "wave" pattern of steadily increasing intensity just like the weight training sessions. During the first 2 minutes, intensity should be at 5. Minutes 3, 4, 5, and 6 should be at intensity levels 6, 7, 8, and 9 respectively. Minute 7 goes back down to 6 intensity level and continues the wave pattern until the 19th minute where you push intensity level to 10. The last minute is a cool down to 5 intensity. You should be completely exhausted at this point so stretch afterwards.
Phillips maintains that aerobic exercise is more effective for fat loss when done first thing in the morning, because it raises the metabolism for the remainder of the day, and because the body draws more heavily on its fat stores after fasting
Fasting is primarily the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. An absolute fast is normally defined as abstinence from all food and liquid for a defined period, usually a single day , or several days. Other fasts may be only partially restrictive,...
Another key aspect of BFL is consuming a diet that is low enough in caloric intake to cause fat loss, while providing enough calories and protein to build muscle and cardiovascular endurance. In addition, BFL attempts to make choosing portion sizes and food as easy as possible to avoid overcomplication. The major aspects of the diet program include:
- Eating 6 smaller meals per day instead of the standard 3 large meals. BFL (along with some dietary experts) maintain that eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day will boost the body's metabolism, causing it to burn fat faster.
- Eating one "portion" of carbohydrates and one "portion" of protein at each meal. To keep determining portion sizes simple, BFL suggests that one "portion" of carbohydrates should equal a potato or ball of rice roughly equal to the size of the person's clenched fist. Additionally, one "portion" of protein would roughly equal a piece of meat the size of the person's palm and as thick as a deck of cards.
- Consuming vegetables with at least two meals per day.
- Taking a good multi-vitamin.
- Limiting consumption of butter, cheese, mayonnaise, alcoholic beverages, and high fat salad dressings.
- Allowance of one "free day" each week. A free day is one day a week in which the person is allowed to make dietary choices that do not correspond with the BFL eating program. Although this should not be a day to binge eat junk food, BFL encourages people to eat whatever foods or desserts they desire on this day. According to Bill Phillips, this allows the body to avoid the Starvation response
Starvation response in animals is a set of adaptive biochemical and physiological changes that reduce metabolism in response to a lack of food....
and gives the dieter a chance to avoid cheating since they know they simply have to wait until their free day to have what they crave.
Body for Life also encourages people to eat mostly lean meats like chicken, fish, and turkey, as well as tofu
is a food made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curds into soft white blocks. It is part of East Asian and Southeast Asian cuisine such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, Vietnamese, and others. There are many different varieties of tofu, including fresh tofu and tofu...
. Carbohydrates that are multi-grain and unrefined are also encouraged. Bill Phillips encourages people to adopt this eating program as a lifestyle, and not as a temporary diet. Although the amount of protein eaten should be enough for some people to build good muscle mass, some observe that high-protein shakes and meal bars should be consumed to increase protein intake. Not surprisingly, the program suggests consuming protein products from EAS.
Body for Life books and videos
- Phillips, Bill. Body for Life: 12 Weeks to Mental and Physical Strength. HarperCollins, 1999. (ISBN 0-06-019339-5)
- Phillips, Bill. Body for Life Success Journal. HarperCollins, 2002. (ISBN 0-06-051559-7)
- Phillips, Bill. Eating for Life: Your Guide to Great Health, Fat Loss and Increased Energy! High Point Media, 2003 (ISBN 0-9720184-1-7)
- Body of Work. Seventh Dream Pictures, 1998. (ASIN B0001H9T72)