The team is in their eighth week of the 100 Days To Muscle challenge and we thought it’d be a good idea to check in with them and see how they’re feeling and what kind of results they’re seeing (hopefully the same kind of results our Art Director, pictured above, saw when he did the challenge in 2011.)

So, guys, over to you:

Thomas Okes

Halfway-2

What changes have you felt/seen?

It’s been satisfying to watch time in the gym turn into results on the road: just before the challenge started I ran a 10km race in an hour and ten minutes; yesterday I ran it in 48. If I keep this up I’m on track to smash my 5K-Sub20 goal. And that’s just the change I’ve seen on my wrist – in the mirror I’m growing in my chest and strengthening my back, and my thighs have their own movie franchise now, called Quadzilla. My body is becoming more and more efficient, and more accustomed to going quicker for longer, and I can feel that as I move, in my chest and core. This means also that I enjoy running a lot more these days, as I get stronger; I used to think of it as a chore, and now it’s a blast.

What has been the biggest challenge?

I’ve been in pain. I think when you’re doing 30 or 40km a week you are always going to hurt somewhere at some point, and for me it’s been in my left knee, up in my groin and right calf. My trainer Chris says it’s really just a part of being a serious runner, and interestingly, sometimes it’ll hurt badly and other times it disappears. The strength training we do really helps, especially step-ups and squatting and rowing, but mostly the only way to stop hurting is to just keep running. This past weekend I hurt myself going up Newlands Contour, then ran one of my quickest 10Ks the next day, and for two days I was hurting a lot – and just like that the pain cleared up and I went even quicker. So it comes and goes. You just have to embrace that you can’t control it, and that you can’t let it stop you.

 What are you most happy with in your training?

Early mornings, dark and rainy. So much fun. Jokes aside, I’m loving the fact that I get to explore my city. If you spend all your time running on the road, your path is pretty smooth and you’ve got a lot of time to look around – but there’s nothing to look at. Cape Town is mountain heaven; there’s a lot of them, steep and flat, long and short, single track and grass and gravel and just plain jungle. It’s the kind of terrain where one wrong step can break your face, but there’s so much to see that you just don’t care.

Have you stuck to the eating plan? What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt there?

I’ve stuck to it to the letter. If that piece of paper says to eat four egg whites and four slices of toast before running, and another three of each afterwards, and chicken at lunchtime, and more chicken at supper and all the way to when I’m actually eating yoghurt in bed, cool, consider it done. It’s a lot of admin, all that cooking, but it’s worth it: last year I was starving and tired almost all of the time, and I think it’s because I wasn’t eating enough to help my body recover from the high intensity exercise. Now I got to bed pretty exhausted, and wake up feeling good and strong.

 How do you feel going into the second half of the challenge?

Confident. I mean, realistically, I might not meet all the goals I set myself. The deadlift is a killer of a compound move; after a year and a half of boxing training my back is pretty hunched and it’s going to take a long, long time to ingrain the necessary neutral posture into the mechanics of my body. So I might not see all the gains I’d wanted to in that particular move, but I’ve also been surprised how other exercises are going better than expected: both the squat and benchpress are areas where I never thought I’d improve. My main goal is to run a sub-20 5K, and I’m interested to see how that goes this coming Saturday; I haven’t run a short distance like in seven weeks, so it feels like I’ll be sprinting the whole way. But the most exciting thing is the chance to take on the Spur Winter Trail Series at the end of July – four fairly extreme trail races in four weeks. Seven weeks ago I was just hoping to survive those mountains, and right now I feel strong and fit enough to do pretty damn well in all of them.

Frank Hermus

frank-halfway

What changes have you felt/seen?

The biggest change for me has to be the way I’m feeling – stronger! Stronger all over. If anyone asks me how I’m feeling lately, I often have to juggle between the adjectives “well” or “strong”, often opting for the latter. It’s difficult to point out any visual differences on myself as I have constant visual access to the process but my girlfriend has supplied some affirmation that there are some changes going on. Whilst relaxing on the couch the other day, she lovingly put her hand on my arm and asked in a playful manner, “Where did these arms come from???” So that’s always a good sign.

 What has been the biggest challenge?

The cold mornings, without a shadow of a doubt! Get up at 5am, have something to eat, pack my bag for the day and I’m out the door at 6am to make my RIPT class at 6:30. Luckily, it’s only about 2km to the Sport Science Institute (SSISA) from my flat in Claremont, but that can feel a whole lot further when you’re walking. I have a car, and could very well drive there but I think making that extra effort to mission through on foot gives me that extra mental edge. However seemingly small and insignificant – the mental edge is everything!

 What are you most happy with in your training?

Having injured my lower back, quite badly, about 15 months ago doing a deadlift incorrectly, I was genuinely nervous about the primary lifts which no doubt included the notorious deadlift. However, given the immense knowledge of the trainers at SSISA, all of whom are biokineticists, I have maintained the correct technique and form so far (touch wood). These guys know their stuff and ensure my form is spot on when tackling one of the big lifts, particularly when going for a new personal best. So I’m super chuffed that the training is only making my back stronger, and no the reverse.

 Have you stuck to the eating plan? What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt there?

I struggle with eating plans. Period. I’m a creature of habit and am not akin to having ‘two thirds of an apple’, or ‘50g of salmon on half a rye cracker’. Of course these are not referring to any eating plan in particular, I’m just making the point that I’m not the poster boy of any eating plan but my own. That isn’t to say that I have completely discarded the eating plan given to us by Adrian Penzhorn and the good people at Food For Sport. There are certainly things I’ve taken on board and internalised. Most important thing I’ve learned, coming from somebody who battles to put on weight – eat like I’m eating for two. I need to replace all burnt calories, and then some!

How do you feel going into the second half of the challenge?

I feel strong, and I’m excited to get stronger!

Richard D’Aguiar

#TeamRich-2

What changes have you felt/seen?

My original training schedule was extremely uniform in its methods and system. Monday I trained chest & tri’s, Tuesday back & bi’s, Wednesday was shoulders. Repeat each week, repeat each set, repeat each weight. I always skipped leg day and work was an excuse to hit the showers and skip core. With CrossFit, legs & core and the fundamental strong points in all of the exercises. I have seen tremendous improvement in my squats and core exercises, with huge growth around my quads!

 What has been the biggest challenge? 

Bulking. In essence it’s been the simplest task, as it involves eating, eating and more eating. Clean eating, but eating and exercising nonetheless, which is something I love to do. The reason I say bulking is that I have been on a goal driven weight loss period and to bulk up has gone against all the progress I previously achieved. (Got to get skinny for that summer season!) Counterproductive in principle. But it has definitely paid off. I’m stronger now than I ever have been.

 What are you most happy with in your training?

Honestly, the friendships created in classes are great. It’s a complete adaption to the normal gym atmosphere. My name is continuously shouted for encouragement. We all help each other with everything. We pack weights away. I actually know the names of the members. That’s rare. That might not be training specific, but it counts in my books.

Have you stuck to the eating plan? What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt there?

Yes, I have stuck to my adaption of the original eating plan. Eat big and clean, grow big and clean. Carbohydrates fuel your body with the needed energy to train. It’s fantastic. Keep to the schedule and eat, you’ll see amazing changes in no time!

How do you feel going into the second half of the challenge?

I have learnt loads from the first 6 weeks and look back on them now knowing that I would do things slightly differently next time with my diet. The training has intensified and I have now incorporated evening weight sessions. Looking forward to the final results!

Werner Viln

Werner-3

 What changes have you felt/seen?

My muscle endurance has increased incredibly. With a little bit of stretching and flexing in-between sets, my muscles seem to just keep going. This is something I am really excited about 50days into the challenge, I have managed to strengthen most of my week spots. I have also seen awesome overall size gains, having picked up a good 6.5kgs already.

 What has been the biggest challenge?

Managing my time and making sure that I prep meals, train properly, focus at work and still have time for a personal life has been a bit of a challenge. But I have realized the longer you are at it, the easier it becomes. It all feels almost second nature now. My biggest motivation has been to see and hear how my progress and dedication inspires others to do the same. It’s been an incredible journey so far.

 What are you most happy with in your training?

I have realized how much I enjoy focussed strength and weight training combined with HIIT. I have been involved all different types of training over the last year or so, this is definitely me returning to an old favorite. You will get the best results out of doing training that you personally enjoy.

Have you stuck to the eating plan? What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt there?

I forced myself into the routine of prepping the correct meals etc, so I have been able to stick to my diet. However, I had 2 Cheeseburgers, Nachos, Beer & Cinnabon in one sitting on Saturday! My diet has made all the difference though, I can clearly see the comparison between previous goal orientated training sessions. The right food at the right time is the reason why I have been able to get all my strength and size gains. No doubt about it.

 How do you feel going into the second half of the challenge?

I am very proud of how far I have come already and that I have been able to make my trainer, Wiehann Van Wyk, proud with the results. I am all about pushing it to the next level now. Hopefully end at a place where I have achieved goals that I can not turn back from and only go forward.

Rob Cilliers

Our intrepid Creative Director is out on the road and is being a bit cagey about his top secret training methods.  We do know he’s put on 5kg of muscle. Let’s just say he’s taking the challenge seriously:

rob