Before we start, let’s get one thing out of the way. I’m aware that my introductory guru to fitness, the man whose book I’m going to endorse, was a steroid user. I am certain there are plenty of people out there who feel this is a justified means to an end, but it’s something I don’t participate in, or condone. I feel the same about smoking. Both activities are proven to be super-harmful to one’s body, but to each their own. So as long as I’m not getting shots of testosterone in my ready-to-drink Myoplex, then it’s all bueno. I’m a live-and-let-live sorta person, and Bill Phillips has only brought goodness to my life, not to mention the countless others he’s supported through his dedication to the Make A Wish Foundation and his universal law of reciprocity (and he’s from Colorado : ).
Back around 2000 or so, my husband and I took a trip to visit his brother in Seattle. During our stay I ran across a book that I’d heard about, but never actually seen or researched. Once I picked it up, I basically never set it down and read the entire thing, cover-to-cover, by the time we left. I was so obsessed with it, my generous brother-in-law encouraged me to take it home. And the rest is history.
Body For Life was published in 1999 to promote Bill’s 12 week transformation contest of the same name, which was introduced in 1996. Huge cash prizes were offered, and it’s still going strong to this day, though the rewards have been reduced substantially. Did I enter? Of course not. Partly because I only embraced half of the program and partly because I’m a chicken. However, this was a great way for a beginner to join the world of bodybuilding without actually realizing it.
It was during my workouts with Bill (well, workouts with my book by Bill) that I fell in love with iron. I had always admired women of the olden days like Gladys Portugues and Rachel McLish and wanted their look, but after a few bookstore perusals during my college years, I dismissed the sport as too complicated and serious. So many rules, so many don’ts. Bill made it seem easy, and it was. Plus, the way he writes is pretty inspirational with his down-to-earth style. He really makes you feel like you can do anything you set your mind to.
The book is marketed to the mainstream public, and as such lays out the program without really emphasizing the fact that the core of the workouts focus on weights. This is a brilliant approach because we all know there is STILL a stigma around resistance training. If you’ve ever read my homepage, you’ll notice the omission of words like lifting, weights or bodybuilding. I did that for a reason – to encourage the average person to appreciate the results BEFORE passing judgement on the process.
Now, back to the program. I mentioned before that I only participated in 50% of it. Can you guess which part? If you know me at all by now, you know it was the workouts! At that time I was still relatively young (30), kidless, and the program suited me. I was new to weight training, and loved my body’s response to the exercises. My metabolism was still high enough to gain some definition and kill a little fat, so that was it. I looked a little muscular, but still had a feminine shape and could pull off a one-piece swimsuit. No diet. No cardio. No scale. Just the weights three times per week. I used the workouts in this book exclusively for years. I can’t remember when it was that I decided I was ready for something else, but Body For Life was the cornerstone of my bodybuilding temple.
Looking back at it now, I can assure you this program has everything a beginner would need. Had I incorporated ALL the elements back when I started, I wouldn’t have had such a struggle in my 40s, but then there would be no transformation and consequently no blog. But I digress. The book includes:
- Motivational stories, including those who’ve suffered personal tragedy, middle-aged guys with guts, busy moms and those who had no other choice but to work out at home
- A personal call to action with a set of serious questions to help you design your path
- Illustrations of good, old-school exercises for each body part with specific instructions about reps, sets and form
- The 20 Minute Cardio Solution – Yep, that’s where I get my 20 minutes! I’ve held onto that number since day one, and I don’t ever intend to let it go
- The High Point Technique, which gives a good explanation of how to work out intensely for both weights and cardio
- An authorized foods list, example meals and details about how to eat, including cheat days
- Meal and exercise logs and access to other downloadable tools
- Staying on course
- 60 sets of before and after color photos of average, everyday people fill the inside covers
The only caveats about this program based on my current experience are: 1) I never work out on an empty stomach anymore. I find that I have much more power and strength with breakfast (and creatine) in my system, and that leads to more effective workouts 2) I am a well-known cheater, but incorporating a cheat DAY seems like a prelude to disaster. Since I’ve never followed the nutrition portion of the plan, I’ve never done it. However, eating any and everything for 6 meals in a row seems like too long of a stint, and a great opportunity for old habits to creep in.
Other than those fine points, I feel that Body For Life is truly outstanding. If you’re overwhelmed by the amount of information out there, and I know there’s a lot, then please consider this program. It’s the whole enchilada packaged up very neatly in a simple fashion with easily understood terms.
It may sound corny, but this book changed my life, and now that I’ve dusted it off, I can’t wait to try some of my old workouts again!
What’s changed your life?
Endorsement Disclosure: From time to time I’ll extol the virtues of a specific product or service. Rest assured that I receive zero compensation in doing so. If I really like something, I feel compelled to share. Word of mouth is a powerful force, and I love to see excellence rewarded.