Phases Overview

Fat Loss Phase

What is a Fat Loss Phase?

With all the fad diets, ‘weight loss hacks’ and contradictory advice swirling around online, starting a fat loss phase can sometimes seem a bit overwhelming. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be!While everyone’s fat loss journey is slightly different, they will all follow the same fundamental principles. Essentially, the process of losing body fat boils down to a simple equation of Calories In vs. Calories Out. In other words, fat loss requires that you burn more calories than you consume (also known as being in a ‘calorie deficit’). This can be done by reducing your food intake, increasing the amount of activity you do in a day (by setting a higher step target, for example) or a combination of the two! These variables can be manipulated in different ways depending on personal preference and individual needs.Although the Intake vs Expenditure principle is crucial to shedding body fat, there are additional strategies that can help you to do it in a safe and sustainable manner. When it comes to setting up for a successful fat loss phase, consistency is key. Since slow, sustainable progress is infinitely better for your physical and mental wellbeing than rapid weight loss, there is absolutely no need to drastically reduce your caloric intake from the get-go. Plus, eating in a moderate deficit means you can continue training hard in the gym and maximise muscle retention (food is fuel, after all). During a fat loss phase, you will need to make sure that you’re consuming sufficient protein, which is an essential macronutrient for the growth, repair and retention of muscle. MyFitnessPal is a great tool to help you log your food and macronutrient intake (for more info, check out this MyFitnessPal Guide!). Depending on your lifestyle and preferences, following a structured meal plan can also be a useful way to stay on track and prevent overeating. Keep in mind that during a fat loss phase, experiencing a certain degree of hunger is inevitable. That said, you can increase satiety by opting for higher volume foods (think about what 100 calories of vegetables vs. 100 calories of peanut butter looks like, for example) and being smart about how you use your ‘calorie budget’.Pursuing a fat loss goal doesn’t mean opting out of all social occasions or having to become teetotal either! However, it will require you to plan ahead and ensure that any alcoholic beverages are factored into your daily intake. Click here to learn how to choose the most macro-friendly drinks: Alcohol Cheat Sheet.At the end of the day, there is no need to overcomplicate a fat loss phase. If you stick to your calories, train hard and hit those step goals, you’ll be well on your way to achieving the body of your dreams!

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Fat Loss Guide Alcohol Cheat Sheet Fat Loss around the Festivities Supplements Guide MyFitnessPal Guide All recipe books

Reverse Diet Phase

What is a Reverse Diet Phase?

If you’ve ever tried to go swimming in a cold pool, you’ll know that it is oftentimes far better (and less of a shock to the system!) to ease yourself in slowly rather than jumping in head-first. This is similar to the approach taken during a reverse diet phase; where calories are increased slowly and carefully over a period of time, thereby giving your body the chance to adjust to the increased energy intake.With this in mind, reverse dieting is a vital strategy for individuals who have been in a fat loss phase for a good while. Reverse dieting is the process which allows you to build up your calories nice and high without gaining unnecessary amounts of body fat.Reverse dieting may sound like magic-eat more without putting on fat?! But is actually backed by a tonne of scientific literature. After a prolonged period of eating in a calorie deficit, our bodies are biologically primed to put on body fat. This is completely normal and a result of something known as ‘metabolic adaptation’ – essentially your body’s way of protecting you from potential starvation by reducing your caloric needs to match the intake you’ve been giving it. You’ve not ‘damaged’ your metabolism by doing so, but it might just need a little extra TLC to get back up to speed again!When this phase is done properly, and under the guidance of an experienced coach, increasing your calories incrementally can be extremely beneficial. Besides allowing you to eat more food, reverse dieting can help to raise the amount of calories your body burns at rest (aka your Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR), improve digestion, regulate hormones and reduce your risk of falling victim to the post-diet binge cycle.A reverse diet phase will last between 6-10 weeks, or until you reach your desired, pre-diet calorie intake. Some people may find that they gain weight during the reverse dieting process, while others may maintain or even see the scale trend downwards. This is why it’s important to enter this phase under a coach’s watchful eye, so that adjustments can be made based on how your body responds to the increase in food. When following a reverse dieting approach, it’s therefore also important to ensure that you are accurately tracking your calories. For more information on how to track your nutrition properly, check out this MyFitnessPal Guide!


Relevant reading

Muscle Building Guide Supplements Guide MyFitnessPal Guide Understanding the Menstrual Cycle*

*useful if client seeking to regain period during reverse diet

Maintenance Phase

What is a Maintenance Phase?

A ‘maintenance’ phase is exactly what it says on the tin – a phase where you aren’t pursuing a strict fat loss or muscle building goal, but are mainly focused on maintaining your current physique. The important thing to remember is that maintaining one’s body weight is an art, not a science.There is no ‘magic number’ of calories that will keep your scale weight perfectly stable at all times. Our bodies are not calculators, and it’s inevitable that some days we burn more calories than others. Therefore, it is completely normal to see daily fluctuations on the scale- what matters most is the overall trend or average over time. A common misconception is that you can’t make significant progress in the gym during a maintenance phase. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth! While you might not experience quite the same level of strength gains as you would during an improvement season (where bodyweight is consistently trending upwards), it is entirely possible to get stronger whilst eating at maintenance. This is where prioritising proper exercise technique, time-under-tension and appropriate training intensity is key.Maintenance phases can vary considerably in length, depending on your goals. For some, eating at maintenance might offer a short mental break during a longer-term fat loss journey. For others, maintenance might serve as a comfortable resting point which allows them to prioritise other aspects of their life instead.There are also different ways to approach nutrition during a maintenance phase. Some people may find that they prefer to eat a relatively consistent amount throughout the whole week. Others might opt for a ‘calorie banking’ strategy – where you eat in a moderate deficit from Monday to Friday and allow room for some more ‘fun’ food & drinks at the weekend. As long as you’re eating at maintenance on average, the approach you take is largely a matter of personal preference.Whatever your reason for entering into a maintenance phase and however you choose to split your calories up during the week, Team CBM is here to ensure that you remain on the right track!


Relevant reading

Alcohol Cheat Sheet MyFitnessPal Guide

Body Recomposition

What is Body Recomposition?

When asked about their physique goals, it’s not uncommon to hear many people (women in particular) say that they want to ‘tone up’ or ‘slim down’. The technical term for this period of simultaneous muscle growth and fat loss is known as ‘body recomposition’. Although this phase is perhaps best suited to gym newbies and people with a higher body fat percentage, studies have shown that even trained individuals can successfully experience body recomposition. Body recomposition is NOT the same as spot-reducing fat – which is biologically impossible. However, a well-designed training program that focuses on the body parts you’re seeking to improve, can promote muscle growth in certain specific areas.   Rather than your typical muscle-building phase, body recomposition usually involves eating at maintenance or in a moderate calorie deficit. You may also find it useful to implement ‘calorie cycling’ – essentially eating in a slight surplus on training days and a small deficit on rest days. Prioritising non-training related variables, including sleep, protein intake and stress levels can also have a positive influence on the recomposition process.As with all good things however, it is important to remember that body recomposition takes time. Since the aim is to put on muscle without also gaining body fat, physique changes during this phase will be slow and steady; typically around six to eight months for most people. Consistency is key here- if you put in the work, results will come!


Relevant reading

Muscle Building Guide Fat Loss Guide MyFitnessPal Guide

Improvement Season

What is an Improvement Season?

Are you looking to gain muscle, build your physique and start smashing PBs in the gym? If so, it might be time to enter an improvement season.Sometimes referred to as an off-season, ‘bulking’ or ‘growth’ phase, an improvement season is essentially a period where the primary aim is to build muscle tissue. The muscle building process is explained in greater detail here: Muscle Building GuideSince food is our bodies’ primary source of fuel, an improvement season will involve eating in a caloric surplus. A certain amount of weight gain is therefore inevitable when trying to build muscle and get stronger during this phase. Now before you start panicking, an improvement season does NOT mean having to stuff yourself silly, nor does it (when done properly and under the guidance of an experienced coach) mean putting on tonnes of body fat. Just like the name suggests, improvement seasons are all about making improvements…to your physique, to your training sessions and perhaps even to your quality of life (especially if you’ve been in a deficit for quite a while leading up to it). During this phase, progressive overload will be your best friend. In order to put that extra food to good use and maximise your strength gains, training hard in the gym is paramount. Improvement seasons can also be an amazing opportunity to make mental gains as well. When you start fuelling your body a little bit more, you’ll notice that your energy levels skyrocket – why not take this opportunity to pursue a new hobby and level up in more ways than one?Another benefit to starting an improvement season is the ability to have greater flexibility around nutrition. Off-plan meals and mindful eating days can help you realign with your body’s natural hunger cues, and make social occasions easier to manage. However, you may still find it helpful to track your macros and calories – check out this MyFitnessPal Guide for more advice!


Relevant reading

Muscle Building Guide MyFitnessPal Guide

Photoshoot or Bodybuilding Prep

What is a Photoshoot Prep?

Whether it’s to celebrate hitting your fat loss goal, commemorate the end of a successful improvement season or simply to make yourself feel like the absolute BOSS that you are, photoshoots are an amazing way to mark an important milestone in your fitness journey. Although low levels of body fat are absolutely not a prerequisite for participating in a photoshoot (Body Confidence shoots are some of our faves here at Team CBM), many clients may use a photoshoot as a final goal to aim for during a significant fat loss phase. For advanced trainees, getting ‘photoshoot lean’ can serve as extra motivation to take their physique to the next level. In the week prior to a photoshoot (particularly when body composition is quite lean), many clients will undergo a ‘peak week’. This is the culmination of all your efforts where nutrition, cardio, training and sleep need to be on point to ensure that you are looking your absolute best ahead of your big day. We will help you along every step of this process, ensuring that you are ready for your close-up and feeling confident in your skin. For more information on what a CBM Photoshoot entails (did someone say hair, makeup and all around good vibes?), visit our Events page here: LINK.

What is a Bodybuilding/Contest Prep?

Stepping onstage as a physique competitor is an incredibly challenging but immensely rewarding experience. Before you’re ready to participate in a bodybuilding competition however, there is a lot of work to be done. A bodybuilding prep involves reaching low levels of body-fat in order to be in ‘stage condition’, as well as putting in a whole lot of effort behind the scenes. Beyond training and nutrition, this includes choosing a federation/class, practising your posing and ensuring you have appropriate stage attire (bikini, shoes, jewellery, etc.) ahead of show day.

Are you ready to commit to a Bodybuilding Prep?

The decision to enter into a contest prep phase is not one that should be taken lightly, as it will involve lots of hard work, dedication and commitment. Prior to starting a prep, it’s important that all your health markers are in a good place. This includes having a regular menstrual cycle (for females), normal bloodwork and – perhaps most importantly – a healthy relationship with food. It’s also important to be honest with yourself about whether your current lifestyle aligns with your goals. This includes evaluating factors such as any upcoming social events, work stress, your financial position and overall commitment levels. If you’re currently struggling with any of the above, perhaps consider holding off on a prep for the time being and exploring some of the other ways in which you can level up your physique: Link to other phases. Once you’ve committed to prepping, it’s not unusual for calories to drop substantially and for output (cardio and step goals) to increase. Your coach will do this slowly, monitoring your check-ins each week to ensure you are on the right track. Although you’re unlikely to put on any new muscle tissue during this time, being in a deficit does not mean that training performance necessarily has to decrease – keep pushing hard during your sessions to maximise muscle retention and showcase your physique in the best light!For more information on what a CBM Photoshoot entails (did someone say hair, makeup and all around good vibes?), visit our Events page here:

Photoshoot or Bodybuilding Prep

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Fat Loss Guide Understanding the Menstrual Cycle Supplements Guide