My 12-Week Shred Transformation Challenge

What I have been doing to lose weight so far and my long-term strategy going forward.

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 Hey Fitness Fanatics!

My name is Charlie and I work for Team Shape. I recently joined the team from the UK. Some of you may have already been in contact with me via social media. I want to be as transparent with you as possible and tell you everything that I am doing to lose body fat.

This is me: I am an avid sportsman, having played rugby to a high standard for a number of years in the UK and in Abu Dhabi. Also, I have a passion for travel and try to document all my adventures.

It is important for me to stress that I am by no means perfect and I am only human, therefore it is only natural for me to go through my own fitness struggles. I love food and so I often find it difficult to stick to my clean eating regime and frequently find that social plans can interrupt my fitness goals. I have recently let myself slip from my normal standards, predominantly due to not measuring progress and planning well enough. This is about to change.

I feel this situation may be all too familiar with a number of you, as it is natural to have to prioritize other aspects of life at certain times and your fitness may have to take a back seat. It is, however, equally important, to find some time to be active. We have written a blog that explains what happens to your body when you stop exercising. View it here 

The Upcoming Blog Series

Our upcoming blog series will be a little different from the content we normally post. This series will not directly be informative articles about nutrition, training regimes or the latest fit-tech. Instead and I hope it interests you, you will follow my shred transformation. I have set myself a target of getting from 14.5% body fat to 12% in a month. My long-term goal is to get the leanest I have ever been. And alongside this be the fittest I have been in a long time.

I am competing in the Spartan Race Beast at the end of September and certainly have lots of training to do. I am hoping that losing some excess weight will help me optimize my performance (I plan to write another blog about how I am preparing for the Spartan Race).

This series will be split into 3 main posts. The introduction to the transformation and myself. My results after 1 month and my efforts to reach my ultimate goal of 10% body fat. I will also be writing some intermittent posts that will give you updates on my progress and I hope to produce a vlog to tell you a little about what has been working for me and the challenges I have been facing.

This content is not designed to be directly educational about a specific health and fitness topic. However, I hope that you may pick up some tips on how to shred body fat and develop lean muscle. I am also very open to receiving advice from you and so I invite you to email me at

I believe you can learn something new in the health and fitness space every day and it can take quite some time to identify and refine what works for your body. Therefore, I am all ears. Perhaps, you could even join me and start your own transformation. I could even share your story with members of our Facebook Community page. You can find the page here.  We use this group as a platform for our followers to share their stories and to offer health and fitness related tips to each other. I would like the group to spark interesting and relevant conversations.

My current physique and transformation

Before I get into what I have been doing to lose weight and what my long-term strategy is, it is important to show you where I am with my physique.

The pictures seen below were taken at regular intervals between July 19th and August 6th. I believe you can see some results from when I first started my cut.

I by no means claim to have a great physique. However, this is not the reason I am writing this blog. I hope reading this may motivate some of you to start your own lifestyle change. Also, this series may give you some ideas about how to go from zero to hero.

How I will document the 12-week transformation challenge

I will not be placing much emphasis on what ordinary bathroom scales say my weight is. The reason being is that I would like to not only lose body fat but also to gain some lean muscle. It is common knowledge that muscle weighs more than fat. The common household scale can’t interpret between the two. This can be misleading when someone starts to become serious about their training. We have written a blog post about why we believe the traditional method of measuring progress, the basic scale, is redundant, you can see it here

Therefore, I have chosen to illustrate my transformation through “progress pictures” and body fat %. Although, I do see value in progress pictures, It is difficult to visualize all aspects of your body. The rate at which you lose body fat also decreases, it can then be increasingly difficult to see changes. This can be frustrating, as you are eating in a calorific deficit and training hard and not witnessing the results. Due to this, I will be tracking my body fat % and using this as the ultimate measurement of progress.

Muscle Dimensions

I also thought it would be interesting to see the changes that happen to my muscle dimensions. I have included the measurements below. They were all taken at the beginning of my transformation (unflexed).

I have never taken and tracked my muscle dimensions, so this will be very interesting for me.

Calorie Intake

It is very difficult to build muscle whilst you are in a calorific deficit, it is not, however, impossible. In order to lose body fat, you need to be in a calorific deficit. This means that you use more energy (calories) than you take in. A pound of body fat is equivalent to around 3500 calories. So in order to lose 4 pounds in one month, I need to be in at least a 500 calorie deficit each day of the week. I am hoping that by keeping my calories relatively high (around 2200cals/day) and by eating a high protein diet, that I will be able to burn belly fat whilst gaining some lean muscle mass.

I know I will be in a calorific deficit by eating 2200 calories a day, as I have had my BMR tested (Basic metabolic rate) and this sits at around 2200 calories. Meaning, if I was to do nothing but sit still all day, through natural body processes my body would burn around 2200 calories. Exercising and watching what I eat will enable me to burn the excess calories that I take in. Take a look at this article for more tips on how to build muscle whilst losing fat.

Alternatively, if you would like to read an interesting article on how to gain muscle through maintaining a calorific surplus (consuming more calories than you burn) I would recommend this article. 

Previous Diet/Nutrition

To lose the excess body fat, that can be seen in the pictures above, I have generally been eating healthily. I must confess that I do love my food and I have not been totally strict on weekends. I am a firm believer that it can be beneficial in the long run to enjoy the odd cheat meal. I stress meal as I often find a whole day of cheating overdoes it. Do not beat yourself up if you give in to temptation from time to time and indulge in something calorific, I know I have! To read about how cheat meals can keep you on track click here. This article applies the 90/10 principle. 90% of the food you eat should be healthy, the other 10%, enjoy yourself!

Previous Training

My training was centered around a typical “Bro Split” gym routine. By this I mean I was training muscle groups separately on different days, for example, Chest and Triceps on Monday. I was also throwing in the odd run and HIIT session. This was more than I had been doing before which is why I have been seeing some results. Understandably, the fat has started to burn off less quickly and this is natural.

Therefore, it was time to switch up my training regime!

What I Plan To Do

Cardio to cut body fat

I have just started a new training regime. 3/4 times a week I will be doing fasted cardio in the mornings. This will take the form of running, HIIT or intense workouts with lots of supersets and limited rest (we have also done an article on the benefits of HIIT, view it here). I will occasionally be doing some low-intensity incline walking to keep my heart rate in the fat burning zone. Find a rough estimate of your fat burning zone by subtracting your age from 220 and taking 60-70% of this figure. When you exercise your body burns energy using different sources. High-intensity training tends to burn short-term carbohydrate and sugar stores and low-intensity workouts target fat stores, therefore, I will be doing a combination.


Strength Training to maintain lean muscle mass

5/6 times a week, in the evenings, I will be hitting a gym session. I will now be doing more of an upper/lower body split so that I hit more body parts more regularly. This has been proven to be very effective and you can read more about the benefits here. 

As for my diet, I will be steadily reducing the number of calories I consume. I am not going to start counting my calories and macros yet, as quite honestly, I find it laborious and it takes the pleasure out of my food. I do plan on counting my calories when I have hit my first body fat goal, as I try to get even leaner. In order to still keep a healthy social life, I will be planning ahead and if I am going for a meal with my friends, I will intermittent fast until around 1:30 PM. This means I will not be eating anything from when I first wake up, until sometime in the afternoon.

So there you have it, an introduction to who I am, my goals for my transformation and how I plan on achieving those goals. If you have any questions or like I said, would like to offer me advice, do not hesitate to reach out.

What To Expect From The Next Post

Next week I plan to bring you a more detailed breakdown of my training plan for the Spartan Race Beast and walk you through what I want to achieve each day. In the weeks to come, I will update you on my progress and also explain in more detail how I am tracking my progress with tools that are available to all of you.

I am afraid that is all for this week but watch this space! I am determined to achieve my goals and am confident with all of your support, I will be able to do this!

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Spartan Race Training Plan
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Charlie Farmer

Charlie is content writer and community manager at Shape.
Download Our FREE
Spartan Race Training Plan
Our comprehensive training plan provides you with 30-days of exercises right up to race day!
Download e-Book