Read an Excerpt
If the idea of having a lean, strong, beautifully fit body; of feeling great with more energy and even looking years younger grabs your interest–great news: You’ve just taken the first step toward your absolute best life.
Strength for Life contains easy-to-follow proven principles and practices that can empower you to transform your life. Whether you just need to drop a few pounds, sculpt and shape, boost your confidence, lift your energy, or create a brand-new you, I invite you to take the decisive next step with me and dare to discover just how truly amazing looking and feeling great can be.
Perhaps you’re thinking, “Sure, I’d enjoy swapping some weight for shape and I’m in for more energy and self-confidence, but I’ve got to know: What’s it going to take? I’m very busy–there is so little free time. Will this be something I can do? It best be fast and easy or I’ll drop off.”
At one time or another we’ve all felt the draw of the quick fix. The hope is that the picture-perfect body might come in a pill, that you can diet your way thin without exercise, or even that cardio alone can shape your body strong. If you’re still being held back by any of these fitness fantasies, the book you hold in your hands will set you free.
What if forging your body stronger and leaner was something you truly enjoyed doing? There would be no reason to celebrate your remarkable discipline, for you’d look forward to it the way avid golfers do a tee time.
What if I were to show you how to get motivated and stay motivated for a lifetime of strength and fitness?
What if I were to show you how you could fall in love with not just the feeling of being fit but the art of training itself–so that you could have the body, the energy, and all that comes with it–without relying on boatloads of discipline?
Would you step up for that?
What if at the same time you train your body strong, you are also strengthening your capacity to focus and concentrate, becoming more centered, boosting your confidence and performance in work, relationships, and life? Imagine how amazing it could feel to know that your entire life, not just your belt line, is enhanced by your fitness practice.
What if you were to discover a depth and center to strength training that you’ve only associated with yoga and martial arts?
What if I were to show you a surefire way to end dieting, forever. And give you a simple practice that can change your entire relationship with food?
Would that inspire you to commit?
What if you could swap ten pounds of unwanted body fat for three pounds of lean, strong, energy-burning muscle in about 30 minutes per day? What if your new, stronger, leaner body burned more calories driving your car or just sitting each day than it did previously running three to five miles a day?
What if you were to discover that strength training is not just for men or athletes but is the real secret for women to sculpt a shape they previously only dreamed of?
And what if you enjoyed the time economy of stacking the benefits of strengthening your mind while training your body–for double the results? In this time-crunched world, there’s tremendous value to one activity producing multiple benefits.
The breakthrough program I’ve put forth in Strength for Life is going to help you sculpt your body lean and do much more. It’s a guide to life at full strength. I’ll show you how to start strong, get strong, and stay strong by igniting your inner fire of motivation, helping you to channel it, to transform it, and finally to live a transformed life.
THE TRANSFORMATION OF FITNESS
There was a time not long ago when transformation was how butterflies came to be–not how people came out of their shells–when getting fit most commonly involved some wearisome mix of dieting and jogging. The idea that you could radically reshape and revitalize your body without counting calories, without dieting, and with only a brief amount of cardio and strength training, was unheard of. The logic flew in the face of widely accepted reality, which a yet-tobe-well-known fitness expert and author was about to transform.
Armed with volumes of real-world proof in hundreds of visually stunning before and after photos of lives changed, the transformation began in the spring of 1999. By year’s end this fitness book dominated the bookstore aisles where diet books had previously reigned and had risen to #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.
A perennial bestseller since, having sold many millions of copies, Body-for-LIFE is the most successful and arguably the most significant fitness book ever. Millions have been inspired to transform their bodies and lives through this landmark 12-week exercise and nutrition program.
The creator: none other than my brother, Bill Phillips. I’m proud of Bill’s success and privileged to have been a part of a better than decade-long run of success leading a fitness revolution, redefining the way people approach training, nutrition, and life. Along with millions of readers, I owe my brother an enormous debt of gratitude for the pioneering book, the original transformation program, and the mission set forth that he continues today.
If you’ve experienced Body-for-LIFE, you can expect to discover a sense of the familiar in this program. But make no mistake: Strength for Life is a work of my passion, knowledge, and life experience. Unlike the many Body-for-LIFE imitators, this book is more than a lateral move, another sideways step. Rather than simply another take on the 12-week process of transforming your body, Body-for-LIFE’s strong suit, this program elevates and continues to guide those who’ve transformed while bringing an entirely new dimension to the process.
TRANSFORMATION VS. CHANGE
As we near the tenth anniversary of Body-for-LIFE, there’s no debating the fact that it has positively impacted millions of lives. Yet, for all that it’s done, not every person has enjoyed a successful transformation. And even among those who’ve enjoyed remarkable transformations, it’s a small percentage of individuals who have sustained the fitness levels captured in their “after photos.”
I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with hundreds of people and reading thousands of stories of men and women who’ve followed a 12-week Transformation program. Nearly every one of them fit into one of three distinct groups: the Frustrated, the Enthusiasts, and the Transformed.
A common story I hear from people who failed to complete a Transformation is they began week one with great enthusiasm but found themselves drifting away before completion. They speak of struggling with motivation, being too busy, and simply not having the necessary energy.
I call this group the Frustrated, because they carry the burden of believing that they’re part of a small minority who didn’t achieve the success seen in the “before and after” photos. What these readers don’t know is that they had great company and their failure to finish a Transformation is likely not an issue of desire or motivation.
Like the majority of Americans, the Frustrated are often sleep-deprived and eating poorly, which means they are undernourished and overstressed. When they add the physical demands of a Transformation program that would invigorate a “ready” body, their bodies break down rather than become stronger.
Stress and fatigue will silently sabotage even the strongest motivation. As a result, people start skipping workouts and then stop altogether. Sadly, many of these people are left believing they have failed when it’s not their fault at all. Depleted when they began, their bodies incapable of responding to the demands, their wisest path forward would have been a step back– to recover first.
Unfortunately, this deprived, fatigued state is more the rule than the exception. That’s why it’s crucial for everyone to invest a couple short weeks in preparation before embarking on a Transformation.
One of the greatest strengths of Body-for-LIFE is that it inspires rabid enthusiasm. However, elevated by their new body and level of fitness, many people come to the end of the 12-week Transformation and, absent any other course of action, promptly start all over again. And without the necessary down time for full recovery, the very thing that triggers your body to get leaner and stronger can quickly start working against you. As a result, your body begins to break down muscle, dissolving all of your hard-earned achievements.
What Enthusiasts are not aware of is that a Transformation is an intensive period of conditioning designed specifically to transform and is not intended as a sustainable lifestyle. Both physically and mentally demanding, the potential for burnout and overtraining increases with each week one pushes beyond the initial twelve. And doing another Transformation after completing one is like riding the Tour de France back-to-back, a feat even the world’s top cyclists would not attempt.
A simple course of action can help Enthusiasts maintain the progress they enjoyed in their Transformation and keep their momentum going strong. More on this in a moment.
The most fascinating group of the three are those who didn’t just change their body and snap a photo. In the process of Transformation something clicked inside–they truly Transformed.
It’s important to note here that there is a difference between change and Transformation. Where change is change, I define Transformation as “significant and lasting change.” It’s change that doesn’t snap back to the way it was before. Take, for example, learning to read–that’s transformative. You don’t go back to the way you were before, being unable to read.
A Transformed person has become a strong positive force, continually striving to improve. They are on a quest for growth, and it’s no longer an effort–for being their best has become the way they do life.
The unique experience of each of these groups has provided valuable lessons and inspired the total Transformation solution that is Strength for Life: Start Strong, Get Strong, and Stay Strong.
THE THREE PHASES TO FULL STRENGTH
To maximize your Transformation and support your continuing success, the Strength for Life program provides an elegant, sound, three-phase approach. First there’s the vital, yet overlooked, 12-day Start Strong preparation phase that I call Base Camp. This primes your body and mind for the most successful transformation possible. It’s also a time you can use to fully prepare and refine your vision and inspiration for your transformation.
With Base Camp complete, your body rejuvenated, your motivation on high, your goals clearly in view, you charge into Get Strong, the full-strength version of the classic 12-week Transformation program.
Concise, efficient, and effective, this 12-week Transformation Training Camp integrates the clarity and wisdom of the original with a modern-day approach that suits the increasing demands of life at any age–especially the challenges faced by the working adult, parent, and professional.
Now that you’ve discovered the freedom and energy of a renewed life in a rejuvenated body, the next step is to live it. What is it that happens for the Transformed group? How do the switches get flipped in such a way as to create their life anew? In Week 13 and Beyond you and I will cocreate a sustainable plan, a lifestyle that supports the new you and a lifetime of sustainable energy and strength. This is the 12-month Stay Strong phase.
A DECADE OF CHANGE
After a decade of Transformations, much has been learned about training, nutrition, and fitness. Yet the fundamentals of Body-for-LIFE have stood rock-solid, becoming more widely ac-cepted and endorsed by science. Strength for Life embraces the accumulated wisdom while elevating the experience to the next level. It’s a stand-alone system. You need not have mastered Body-for-LIFE or any fitness program to experience success with Strength for Life.
From my vantage point, looking back nearly a decade, I smile thinking about my early experimentation with the training program that became the Body-for-LIFE workout. My office door led to an elaborate, fully equipped gym where, after long days, I relished spending an hour or so training at peak intensity. It was my meditation and my rejuvenation all at once. At that time my training was such that I honestly feared Body-for-LIFE to be overly simplistic. Today, I find myself saluting its simplicity, while embracing even greater simplicity.
Now in my forties, I have a wife, Angie, and my two children, Nathaniel and Lilly, and a new company, Phillips Performance Nutrition. Gone are the days of training and working whenever I chose, for as long as I desired. My life, both more rewarding and more complex than ever, has given me an entirely new understanding of the challenges of staying fit amid the many demands of family and work life that I only thought I understood years ago.
I’ve continued to evolve my nutrition and training to best serve my fitness goals within the context of my life goals. To me, strength is not superficially determined by what I see in the mirror or how many hundreds of pounds I can lift. It’s about feeling great, staying young, and enjoying energy to burn.
That brings me to the central promises of Strength for Life, which are efficiency and effectiveness. From the perspective of an entrepreneur, a father, and a husband–with access to a decade of transformational wisdom and the culmination of my more than twenty years in strength and fitness–this program is designed to provide you with the absolute maximum results in the absolute minimum of time.
At the heart of the Strength for Life program is the revolutionary training system I created that integrates the wisdom and insight embodied in yoga, meditation, and the martial arts with the numerous physical benefits of strength training. Called Focus Intensity Training™ (FIT for short), it is the synthesis of ancient wisdom with modern science into a graceful, powerful, body—mind practice.
The result is an entirely new training experience that is at once more effective, refreshing, and engaging. And while for many people its selling point will be the superior effectiveness and results, the real surprise inside may well be its impact not just on the body, but on your inner state–emotionally uplifting, strengthening your awareness and presence, as well as bolstering your overall well-being. Add to that, as your mental focus develops, you will find yourself training in an enjoyable “flow” state.
Yes, that’s right. In the final analysis it’s all about enjoying the process–having whatever you do regularly bring pleasure. Even training. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in helping people live stronger lives, it’s that we simply don’t stick with anything, regardless of how “good for us” it is, if we do not enjoy it.
If in the past you’ve struggled with strength training, even knowing its importance, FIT can inspire and set you free. It provides a spark, a depth that is a true breakthrough in training. FIT is like electricity and you are the lightbulb–it will turn you on and have you radiating.
MY PROMISE TO YOU FOR YOUR BEST LIFE
The Strength for Life program along with the knowledge, wisdom, and guidance contained in the pages that follow can and will transform your life. But there is a catch. The catch is you. That’s right: You are the wild card, the variable I can’t control. Regardless of what I say, in the final assessment, your success is in your hands.
Bruce Lee said it well in these words: “Knowing is not enough, you must apply; willing is not enough, you must do.” You can count on me to reach in and help fire you up, to keep you moving and inspired for greatness, but ultimately it’s up to you.
This opportunity for change is your invitation to create a Turning Point. Only you can accept it and take the first step toward making the possibility a reality. Take a moment, look deep into your heart, and choose to step into your strength. I’m confident you’re ready for Strength for Life–and I’m ready to be your guide.
How strong are you? Let’s find out.
How Healthy Are You?
Just for a moment, let's forget about being lean, strong, and fit and just talk health.
Do you value your health?
If your answer is a resounding "Yes!" you're not alone. America is on a health kick, and I believe it's killing us.
That's right. I believe our obsession with health is a dangerous, debilitating, disastrous mind-set that may be undermining the very fabric of our nation-as well as your own health. I'm confident, in a few moments you'll agree.
In fact, we're losing a battle that is costing us our health, wealth, and ultimately our strength as a country. The obesity epidemic is spiraling out of control. We're working harder and longer, eating more, and moving less. Kids now stare at screens rather than engage in real-life activities, at least until their parents commandeer the television for their own use.
The numbers are startling. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, about 30 percent of U.S. adults 20 and older are obese and 65 percent are either overweight or obese. One out of five ages 12 to 19 is now considered obese.
Simply being overweight, let alone obese, increases the likelihood of developing numerous health conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, breathing problems such as asthma and sleep apnea, some cancers, and osteoarthritis, among others. Yet, the greatest impact is simply on quality of life.
Studies suggest that more than 400,000 people die each year from causes related to poor diet and physical inactivity. That's 17 percent of all deaths. Only tobacco use, according to research by the National Institutes of Health, accounts for more fatalities.
Though the death toll from most preventable causes decreased in the decade between 1990 and 2000, obesity and inactivity deaths went up by 33 percent. By 2010, poor diet and physical inactivity likely will overtake smoking as the leading cause of preventable death.
Recently we crossed a tipping point where, for the first time in recorded history, the youngest generation of children is now expected to live shorter lives than their parents, even though medical technology continues to advance and we know far more about the impact of poor diet and inactivity than ever before.
The ranks of the uninsured grow each year, as does the staggering costs of health coverage for employers. Health care costs have been rising faster than the rest of the U.S. economy for many years, as they continue to consume a larger share of family budgets.
Unless something changes, our already precarious health care system will collapse and millions will face financial ruin and premature death. No one is immune to the impact.
If you're in a group health care program at work, the rates are determined by factoring everyone in your office-including the obese and the smokers. It's not like auto or life insurance, where you catch a break for safe driving or clean living. You're penalized for the sins of your associates.
As of 2007, obesity was costing the United States $130 billion in direct medical costs each year. It's not a stretch to suggest that the figure soon could soar to $1 trillion annually. Businesses, already straining to provide employees health coverage, will be forced to drop coverage or go outside our borders, a choice more companies have already made. Many doctors are leaving the profession, since insurance companies increasingly are covering less of their services. What's most unsettling is that the greatest impact will most likely happen to us in ways we can't even begin to imagine.
Most of us know something is not quite right, and many can quote a stat or two about the crisis, but it's little more than cocktail conversation. It's not quite personal, even when we are part of the problem. Studies have shown that 64 percent of obese people don't think they are obese-"it's the other guy or gal. Not me."
Like the parable of the frog that stayed in the pot of water until it was boiling, it's getting hotter and hotter but we don't seem to mind. It hasn't yet occurred to us that it might be time to jump.
Why worry, so long as you've got your health, right?
The Paradox of Health
What is health, really? Think about how you might explain health to a three-year-old. Perhaps you would reach for some buzzwords like "fit," "well," or "sound." Eventually you'll come to the clarity that we all do and just say it like it is, health is the "opposite of sick."
For most all of us health is subconsciously, if not consciously, defined as the "absence of disease." Technically, this is an accurate definition. Heck, even the esteemed Webster's dictionary defines health as "freedom from disease."
For most people, health is less a goal than it is a nice idea, a concept. Saving 10 percent of your income, losing 10 pounds-those are goals. Instead we talk about health, eat a few veggies, slip in and out of a diet, and try to avoid the doctor. We may "get serious"-this lasts a few weeks, perhaps months. Alas, there's work, the kids, so much to do-we get drawn back into life. No harm, though, you're healthy and will get around to it later.
So few truly value this elusive thing called health.
Given the way most people view health, barring any sudden, tragic diagnosis, you're "healthy." You could be 80 pounds over your "desirable" weight, snacking on Ding-Dongs while lounging at home watching television, and self-assessment would be: Cancer? Not me. Tumors or broken bones? Negative. All systems check in as free from disease: "Healthy!"
As in this example, the remarkable goal-seeking radar we humans have is letting you down because you seem to be working perfectly. You see, it's masterfully designed to move you to your goal, not beyond it. Once your subconscious checks off a goal (in this case "free from disease") as attained, your drive slips into neutral and nothing more happens. The status quo settles in.
We've been so oversaturated by "healthy" media messages that we've stopped thinking critically about the actual meaning of health. It's become something we check off our "to do list" more than a state of being. This lack of clarity has us walking a tightrope between "healthy" and "not healthy." As long as people feel healthy, they take little action to be more than that. Their goal realized, they're in a comfort zone, oblivious to the dangers of their sedentary, reactive lifestyle.
The tragic reality is that most people never make real or lasting change until it's absolutely necessary-until they're ill or faced with a serious health scare, and even then they don't always change. Cigarette smokers are sometimes unwilling to kick the habit even after a lung cancer diagnosis. Remarkably, some smokers assume they're healthy until told otherwise. Why not? All systems were reporting back "healthy."
Here's the real message you should be receiving when it comes to your health: "Houston, we have a problem."
You see, for most people health is less the presence of something great than the absence of being ill. It's settling for "good enough."
This is why our fascination with health is dangerous. How can it be that millions of people in this country think about, worry about, and appraise their health-and yet we find ourselves in a spiral of decline facing an enormous crisis of health? Isn't our obsession with health supposed to reverse these trends?
Certainly there are good intentions to report on and some pockets of people who are getting stronger and healthier, but for the most part nothing is changing-at least not for the better.
I care about your health and the well-being of our country and world, but the harsh reality is that health is not enough. I want more for you, for your family, and I know you can have it. It's all here for your taking. That is precisely why I'm asking you to join me on this journey beyond health-beyond the "good enough" survival mentality-to a life of abundant energy, vitality, and strength.
Strength Is Presence
Where health is no more than the absence of disease, strength is the presence of abundant energy-a capacity to be a force in your world. It includes health and at the same time so much more; it's being healthy and flowing with energy, power, and confidence.
To live with strength is to choose abundance-it's more than avoiding illness or simply getting by, it's a higher state of energy and life for those who have set their sights beyond health. Call it "optimal health" or "strength," its hallmark is a desire to improve; there is no settling for the status quo.
Without strength, there's never enough energy to go around or enough hours in your day. You can't get it all done. People in this position consider the process of strengthening their bodies a luxury. There's just not enough time.
Strength is that something extra; the mental, physical, emotional reserve-the fuel that makes for an extraordinary life. Where "health" is like living paycheck to paycheck, strength is money in the bank-a reserve. Strength is true wealth.
Together, we stand at a turning point in our existence, a time when we must find the strength to change: to change the way we think, the way we eat, the way we relate to our bodies, the entire way we embrace our planet and world. As formidable as these changes are, all change begins with the strength and the courage to master your own life challenges.
You may choose to live your life at full strength for yourself in order to do more, be more, and have more of everything. You may do it for your family, who will benefit greatly from the care and maintenance of the vehicle you call you. Or you may choose to do it for your country, which ultimately bears the burden of the weak and frail.
Your body, the only one you will ever have, is the foundation for your life. And it's either an anchor limiting your freedom and potential, or a source of radiant energy, vitality, and joy, elevating your life and the lives of those around you. It's your choice. Will your body be a source of strength, from which you will impact the world, or an obstacle, preventing you from your dreams and desires?
As my friend, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway, is fond of saying, "If you're going to set a goal, aim high!"
My advice to you is to aim high; aim for strength.
The Shape of Your Life
Whether you're tall, short, thin, curvy, or stout-whatever shape you see in the mirror-the shape of your life will likely look much the same as every other life. It rises up, arcs over and through your peak, and descends.
If you were to graph the strength, energy and vitality of your life, it would look like the cross section of a speed bump. You're born weak and helpless, spend the first two decades of life growing stronger, enjoying vibrant energy. There's a leveling off as you reach a comfortable cruising altitude. Then the inevitable: In spite of your attempts to defy it, the descent begins. You spend the rest of your life walking the "tightrope of health," quietly hoping and praying that you don't slip back to weak and helpless.
Where are you along this normal curve of life? Here's a simple way to gauge it. Think back to your last birthday. Was it an exciting celebration, or has it become a dreaded annual event, similar to tax day?
If you've "celebrated" a fortieth birthday like I have, you know it can be a startling experience. It's not so much the stigma attached to 40, or the good-natured grief you receive on your birthday, but the realization that your physical prime is no longer in your future. In an instant you've gone from seeing your best on the horizon, to watching it shrink in the rearview mirror.
At this point your body has been quietly stockpiling fat and divesting lean muscle, strength, and energy for more than a decade. The redistribution of fat, especially in the common problem areas-the midsection and thighs-is increasingly apparent. If you've ignored your nutrition and exercise up until this point, the neglect is visible for all to see.
Yet somehow in the midst of these disturbing life changes, most manage to ignore them. This is easy to do if you've yet to reach your fourth decade milestone-for even thirty-nine and a half is "thirty- something." You're still young and healthy. No reason for you to worry yet, right?
The day this rationalization fails, and you are no longer able to ignore your declining physical condition, is a difficult day indeed. For the unprepared, midlife can bring trepidation and discomfort. Some seek temporary relief in the likes of a new Corvette, Botox, or cosmetic surgery. Yet, try as you may, you will eventually reach the point where you simply can't buff it out any longer.
Now, let me make something clear: This is not a book about being forty-something, but rather a book by a forty-something from the pinnacle of life, who's going strong and has another forty (at least) strong years ahead. With more than two decades' experience in strength and fitness, I see both the ascent and the descent on the curve of life with stunning clarity. From this perspective, I'm confident I can help you shape your best life, whether you're 25, 75 or anywhere in between.
The Descent Begins
Physical decline actually begins long before you see its many signs. Starting in your midtwenties you're losing about a pound of lean, life-enhancing muscle per year. This loss of muscle usually goes unnoticed for many years, as the weight is replaced with more than a pound of fat, which takes up five times more space on your body. Hence, the reason you can weigh the same and still find your clothes won't fit. As a result, your shape gradually morphs, softens, and widens as your energy, strength, and vitality fade.
By the time the average, modestly active person debates going to their twentieth high school reunion, they can expect to have packed on 20 or 30 pounds of fat, even though the scale is showing a not-so- bad 10 to 15 pounds (remember you're losing muscle). If you're not eating well, these startling numbers could be a best-case scenario.
You guessed it; things do get worse. In the absence of a significant change in lifestyle the decline continues to gain speed. By your midfifties you can expect the above numbers to double. This could mean a staggering 60 pounds of fat gained and over 30 pounds of muscle lost for a man and an equally disturbing 35 and 15 for a woman. As difficult as this should be for you to grasp, if you're not there yet, consider that in the case of a woman, it represents less than one pound of fat gained per year since high school graduation.
From the Hardcover edition.