I’m a big consumer of informational books. From parenting to dog training to gardening, and of course fitness, my bookshelves are bursting with self-help flavor. I tend to get obsessive about certain topics, and heaps of references ensue.
One such reference not only helped me achieve 23lbs of fat loss, but gave me some new options when my previous workouts were getting stale a few years ago. Without getting too religious here, (and how could we with the naked chick on the cover?) The Body Sculpting Bible For Women, by James Villepigue and Hugo Rivera, is THE bible for my fitness now and for the past 6 years. That’s not to say I haven’t used other sources, such as blogs and websites to supplement my plan, but I was really inspired by the contents of this book, and continue to refer to it on a regular basis. In fact, it’s so well-loved, it had to be spiral bound to remedy the spinal degradation suffered by riding shotgun with me for multiple years. Many thanks to my dear friend, Jill, who saw to the reconstruction.
So let’s get started. I’ll be taking you through, section by section, highlighting the elements I found to be most helpful and effective. I always say that there is more than one way to get fit, so I don’t see the program in this book to be the be-all-end-all, but it sure fit the bill for what I was looking to achieve.
INTRO AND CHAPTER 1: THE FOUNDATIONS OF PHYSICAL PERFECTION
This section covers the basic conundrum faced by women today, given our country’s relentless obsession with weight-loss and the never-ending gimmicks and diets that abound. The authors clearly lay out the dangers of traditional weight loss programs which focus only on the scale, thrust you into an unsustainable eating pattern, and ultimately put you further behind.
“If you lose 5 pounds in one week, how can you be sure that those 5 pounds were from fat? Think about it. It could have been 2 pounds of muscle, 2 pounds of water and 1 pound of fat. If this is the case, you are now in a worse situation than you were before. Why? Because your metabolism will be slower and you will have lost body shape (muscle is what increases your metabolism and also gives shape to your body). This is why crash diets don’t work; you lose muscle and water, while simultaneously creating fat storage. These diets trick the body into thinking it is starving. When the body thinks that this is the case, it begins storing fat for future use and eating away at valuable muscle. So while you may achieve your ideal weight, you’ll look very different than what you envisioned.”
When you finally reach your breaking point on a traditional weight loss diet, you ultimately fall off the wagon, regain the weight, and accelerate the vicious cycle of muscle loss and fat gain. After multiple rounds of yo-yo dieting, you may still weigh the same, but your body fat will have increased with each dieting rebound.
The authors also go on to debunk several myths surrounding weight training, including the ever-popular fear of bulkiness, exercise compensating for poor nutrition, and muscle turning into fat.
CHAPTER 2: POWER OF THE MIND
This brief chapter covers visualization and mind-muscle connection. I won’t linger too long on this section because I think over-thinking things can get people into trouble. The key takeaways are 1) research shows that visualizing yourself reaching your goals on a regular basis improves your chances for success. 2) focusing on the muscle group you’re working, while you’re working it will help you keep all your attention on the movements and avoid the mindless sloppiness that can come with distraction.
CHAPTER 3: TRAINING
At the time of my purchase, this section was the most useful to me. The authors break down the hows, whys, wheres and whens of weight training and cardio (though I was avoiding cardio at the time), and why putting them together is so important. I obviously dismissed this at the time but finally came around, as you know, by calling it something else.
The workouts in this book are unique (or were at the time) because they introduce the concept of variation. You may also have heard the term ‘muscle confusion’ or something similar, which describes this same principle of switching things up to force your body out of adapting to a certain workout. It sounds like a lot of planning, but the beauty is in the simplicity – you don’t have to change up every exercise for every workout, but you will change the number of reps, sets, rest between sets, order or types of sets (compound, superset, etc.). Upon first glance of the workout charts, which they provide for EVERY SINGLE WORKOUT, you might say some look the same, but look closely and you’ll see that these small tweaks have been incorporated for you. And by changing up these little things, you’re guaranteeing progress.
The book contains 4 plans, based on your athletic experience and level of fitness:
1) The Break-In Routine: For women who have never lifted before. This program includes 4 weeks worth of weights workouts using 2 different plans, performed 3 times per week.
2) The 14-Day Body Sculpting Workout: The flagship program, which includes 18 weeks worth of workouts, using 3 separate lifting plans, performed 3 days per week.
3) The Advanced 14-Day Body Sculpting Workout: For those who want to compete or look like they do. This program consists of 12 weeks worth of weights plans, to be performed 6 days per week. I used this workout for my transformation.
4) The 14-Day Body Sculpting Definition Workout: For those not looking to lose weight, but strictly to add muscle. This program serves up 6 weeks of lifting plans for those with a Tasmanian Devil-type of metabolism, and who can generally eat anything they want without gaining weight – me at age 19.
At the time I initially began the program, around 2007, I was using #2, The 14-Day Body Sculpting Workout. Those are a lot of words for one program, so hereafter I’ll be referring to it as the BSW. Anyway. This was how I got started, and I loved it because I knew every workout would be different. Not only did each one incorporate variation, there were different moves associated with each of the three workout plans. The first plan is really impressive because it is geared to at-home workouts, and can be performed with a bench and set of barbells. I never actually did these at home, but I love that they thought about this detail, opening it up to so many out there who otherwise would have no option.
By May of 2011, I had switched to the Advanced 14-Day BSW because I was on a mission to look like a bodybuilder. However, let’s recall that I also completely changed up my eating habits, and I used this book to create lasting success that can only be produced with proper…
CHAPTER 4: NUTRITION
Ooh this was a snubbed section for over 4 years, folks. I skimmed, glanced and ultimately scoffed at it time and again without a thought. Too bad, because it really is the key to getting the strong, lean look I’d been after for a decade. I will say the authors could have made it a little less intimidating by leaving out a lot of the formulas and numbers because I am NOT a math kinda gal. At times I’d try to get into it, but the numbers always scared me off. I love words and letters, right? Anyway. Once you are ready to accept this prong on the fitness fork, then you will find the chapter enlightening. It covers all the macros in great detail, provides an approved foods list (including glycemic index designations) and a great baby-steps plan drawn out over 8 weeks, to help you work your way into clean eating. There is also detailed information about Carb Cycling, along with general eating tips and several recipes. The foods list here is the backbone of my grocery list, and I referred to it on a daily basis during my transformation.
CHAPTER 5: REST AND RECOVERY
If you’ve researched weight lifting at all, I’m hoping you’ve learned that rest and recovery are very important to your success. Your body needs time to rebuild after you’ve spent an entire workout breaking it down. The authors take time here discussing the particulars.
CHAPTERS 6 – 12 THE MOVES!
This is the whole reason I bought the book. I needed some variety in my life, and The Body Sculpting Bible For Women delivered on that in spades. Each and every exercise details alignment, form and variations, if applicable, along with photographs of actual women in each stage of the exercise and common FAQs. There are 6 chapters dedicated to individual exercises: Legs, Back, Chest, Shoulders, Triceps, Biceps and Abdominals. It’s a veritable workout wonderland, with 25 exercises dedicated to the Legs section alone (including calves)! The core of my workout moves come from these chapters, though based on sensitive joints or general dislikes I’ve adopted some others these days. I relish the variety, and particularly for the Advanced BSW, you’ll find exercises for every angle of the muscle.
CHAPTER 13: THE WORKOUTS
Here is where you’ll find all the charts I referred to earlier. I took the liberty of creating my own version of the journal pages for the first six weeks of the flagship BSW, which you’re more than welcome to download and make your own. Their charts lay everything out in great detail, with page numbers referencing back to the illustrated section for each of the exercises listed. You wouldn’t believe how many times I was stopped at the gym and asked about this book, since I toted it around as a reference for quite some time.
The final pages of the book contain multiple appendices, some of which I’ve never actually looked at, and am now even more in awe of this publication!
- Table of Food Values (grams of protein, carbs, etc for each food)
- Sample daily meals
- Blank workout and nutrition journal pages
- Progress tracking methods
- Grocery shopping list (who knew?)
- Body Sculpting under specials circumstances (pregnancy, traveling, illness)
- Anatomy chart
So there you have it. This was the proverbial wheel of fitness for me, no need to recreate it. An all-inclusive, no-nonsense guide to a lean and strong physique. The version I have reviewed and photographed is the Revised Edition, printed in 2007.
Hugo and James went on to produce a number of other guides in an attempt to capitalize on their huge success with The Body Sculpting Guides (there is one for men as well), but based on the reviews I’ve read, are basically compartmentalized versions of the originals. There’s even one for Brides, which seems a little silly – what’s in there? Altar squats? Bouquet curls? I guess they figured that like any bridal bait dropped into the wedding tank, they were bound to get a few bites.
The most current version of this book is the Third Edition:
“This new edition is bigger and better than ever! Now with updated and revised material, it contains all the original detailed exercises that made it a best-selling phenomenon, plus:
- New Rapid Body Sculpting Workouts and Body weight workouts
- Six new diet plans, including milk-free and ovo-lacto-vegetarian diets
- Even more tips and helpful information to keep you motivated and help you reach your fitness goals”
What’s your favorite workout/nutrition guide?
Endorsement Disclosure: From time to time I’ll extol the virtues of a specific product or service, like this one. 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.