The 12 Week Lean Muscle Project Challenge 2018


I’ve got a confession. I let it slip!

Towards the back end of 2017 I wasn’t focused on my training at all. I was busy with all my clients and various other bits which is great, but meant I was training on average of 2-3 times per week and when I did train I felt unmotivated and had no connection with the weights. Yep, it even happens to us fit pros from time to time.

So with the arrival of 2018 it’s time to up my game again. Get “back on it” as it were. Much alike many of you out there reading this.

Here’s how I’m going to do it – I’m going to follow my own best-selling ebook The 12 Week Lean Muscle Project. I followed it a few years back when I originally released it and saw some astounding results, so this time around I plan to top that.

The challenge is on.

For support I’ve invited my girlfriend, Lorna and brother, Jack to join me on this challenge and I want you to join us too. I’m even going to make things interesting and turn it into a bit of a competition.

If you complete the 12 week plan, I’ll enter you into a competition for a chance to win a further 12 weeks worth of online personal training worth £239 for free! All you have to do is complete it.

Just imagine how you could be looking and feeling in 6 months time after following the ebook for 12 weeks and then having another 12 weeks worth of free personalised coaching!?

So how do you fancy joining me and taking part in The 12 Week Lean Muscle Project Challenge 2018!? Here’s how it works.

1) Purchase a copy of The 12 Week Lean Muscle Project ebook from (if you’ve previously purchased the ebook, that’s ok you can still take part in the challenge, just move on to point 2.

2) Send me via email some form of starting stat. This can be your choice and could include a “before” photo, your current weight, circumference measurements of thighs/waist/chest/arms, or all of the above. Send them over to

3) Work your way through the ebook over the next 12 weeks. There’s 12 weeks worth of workouts which are periodised and planned to help build lean muscle and strip fat fast. Plus nutrition assistance and mobility work to keep you supple. It’s suitable for men and women.

4) After completing the 12 weeks send me your finishing stats via email. It doesn’t matter what the results are (but I know you won’t be disappointed if you do the work!). Just send them over as proof you’ve completed it.

5) After I’ve received your finishing stats you’ll automatically be entered into a competition to win a further 12 weeks worth of online personal training with me. Good luck!

You can enter the competition any time during January, February and March. Basically the three months whilst I’m following the plan. The winner of the competition will be announced after the final entrant has had 12 weeks to complete the plan.

Phase 1

For the rest of this blog post, I’m going to use it to provide updates of my own progress throughout the plan. Ill also include some extra nutrition and supplement tips, which aren’t mentioned in the ebook. So think of this as bonus content!

Initial Stats Update
Weight: 68.3kg
Lean body mass: 59.9kg
Fat mass: 5.3kg
Body fat: 7.7%

time to add some lean muscle

I’m going to be honest, I’ve really paid for my “little slip”. I’m starting this programme at the lightest I’ve been in years! And that weight loss wasn’t all fat. My lean body mass is very low compared to what it typically was siting at around last year. To give you an idea, I remember stepping on the scales early last year and being 72-73kg (and lean). I know I’m currently not in horrendous shape, but I do feel skinny and much weaker in myself. But the only way is up as they say.

To create some accountability, before embarking on the programme I’ve set some SMART goals. Remember, the ebook runs you through the most effective way to do this. Here’s my main goals:

  • To increase my bodyweight from 68.3kg to 69.8kg (+1.5kg) by the end of the plan.
  • To increase my lean body mass from 59.9kg to 61.4kg (+1.5kg) by the end of the plan.
  • To keep my fat mass under 6kg by the end of the plan. Gaining fat whilst trying to add mass is an inevitable trade off. However my aim with this ebook was to provide programming and nutritional principles to help offset the inevitable.

So as of writing this I’ve literally just finished the last workout of phase one. It felt so good to have some structure back into my weekly routine. My diet has been pretty solid, following the principles laid out in the ebook. The only thing I do that’s not mentioned in the ebook is I normally eat out one evening on the weekend with my girlfriend or family etc. This meal may not conform 100% to the principles and quite often contains a desert. Hopefully over the next 12 weeks you’ll start to see you can do this and still see results too, provided you’re smart about it and factor it in.

As far as supplements go I’m also following as recommended in the ebook with the addition of a couple of extras. Firstly, as my goals revolve around adding lean muscle I’m using the ultimate post-workout shake for maximum muscle growth as described here. Plus I’m using a topical magnesium before bed to aid sleep, recovery and testosterone production.

Coming off the back end of phase one I’m feeling so much stronger already. My lifts have all improved and I’d say strength wise I’m 90% away from where I peaked last year. Moving into phase two, the functional hypertrophy phase, I feel like I’m in a good place.

Phase 2

Phase 2 = incinerated!

Stats Update
Weight: 70.2kg
Lean body mass: 61.2kg
Fat mass: 5.7kg
Body fat: 8.2%


So as you can see I’ve almost smashed my main goals I set out five weeks ago. You could argue they weren’t challenging enough, however the way I see it is, I’ve got 7 weeks left now to over achieve and do the best I can do.

Now before Mr Science chimes in and says “just because your lean body mass has increased, it isn’t necessary all tissue”, my response is – I know. A large degree of that 1.3kg gained is going to be fluid and glycogen stored within the muscle cells. However I’m looking fuller, feeling stronger and compositionally the numbers are all better. So it’s a win in my eyes

guns 2

As previously established phase 2 has all been about functional hypertrophy. This is an increase in the contractile elements of the muscle cell. In other words as your muscles grow an improvement in performance will also be noted. After finishing this phase this couldn’t be more true, I’ve hit new PB’s during many workouts on this phase which is good.

I went into this phase with two aims in mind – train as hard as I can and eat as much as I can to ensure I’m in a slight calorie surplus. I made “smarter swaps” with my nutrition to achieve this. For example I swapped my usual whey protein shake for a weight gainer shake which added around 800kcal more into my diet.

This all might sound like I’m blowing my own trumpet, because it’s my programme and ofcourse I’m going to say it’s great, but I honestly urge you to try it for yourself and make up your own mind.

All this muscle gain talk, I’ll also remind you this phase is excellent at fat loss too. All you need to do is hit the workouts hard and make sure you’re in a slight calorie deficit. The heavy weights moved means tons of calories burned.

Next week I’m moving into phase three. Which if I’m honest, I’m not looking forward to. It’s a one-week deload. And as painful as it is for me to step back, I know it’s going to benefit my body and allow me to continue progressing through the rest of the plan.

Phase 3

Just a quick check in this time. I’ve just finished phase 3, and it did its job. Being a deload week I still lifted with the same intensity, however the volume was slashed in half. Coming off the back of it I do feel refreshed and ready to go with the next phase. I didn’t bother taking a stats reading after this phase. As its only been one week since my last.

front squaat

Phase 4

Phase 4 was another quick and punchy 2-week blast, focused heavily around functional hypertrophy (6-8 reps). Coming off the deload week I felt fresh, strong and ready to rock. This phase of training welcomes the return of a push/pull split and every time I do it I forget just how effective this split is for adding lean muscle. The nature of the workouts means each muscle group gets stimulated twice per week, so you take advantage of increased frequency (an often forgotten about principle). Also note I said stimulated not annihilated!

I hope those of you that are following the plan and reading this are progressing along nicely through the ebook. I’m looking forward to hearing all about your results.

Phase 5

Stats Update
Weight: 70.3kg
Lean body mass: 61.3kg
Fat mass: 5.8kg
Body fat: 8.2%

So I’ve just finished the entire plan! My stats above have stayed pretty consistent since 5 weeks ago with a few small improvements. I do however feel much better conditioned, physically stronger and my muscles feel harder after finished this final phase. Here’s some interesting facts about my last 12 weeks:

  • I completed 48 workouts.
  • I drank somewhere around 168L of water.
  • I consumed over 11,000g of protein
  • No workout lasted longer than an hour.
  • My favourite workout was Phase 2, workout E, which is shoulders and arms.
  • I didn’t do any additional cardio work (although I could have if my goals were more fat loss orientated).
  • I gained 1.4kg of lean body mass.
  • I didn’t do any formal form of preparation (dieting/carb loading/water manipulation etc.) for the final “after” progress photo. The only thing I did was shave my chest (which if you look carefully is why I have a red chest in the after pic!).

aaron wk 1-12 copy copy

front 2

side 2

back 2

Overall I’ve really enjoyed being back on the plan and seeing something I created do its job and get people results. Here’s some lessons you should take from my experience:

  • Create some accountability. Until you do this, you have no idea how powerful a motivator it can be. For this challenge I created accountability by setting up this blog post and basically putting my ass on the line in front of anyone who reads it. At the start of the plan I stated what I wanted to achieve and then it was on my head to go and do so. If I didn’t I’d be the only one who’d look a fool! You can create accountability in a many number of ways. It needn’t be as high scale as what I’ve set up here. Something like telling a few friends or family members your goals and asking them check back in with you in X weeks time will work wonders.
  • Changing your body doesn’t have to be an all or nothing process. Whilst the more dedicated you are, the better the results you’ll experience, you don’t have to be “all or nothing”. On a scale of 1-10 (10 being an all out effort) I recon I’ve given it about a 7/10. So I haven’t been super strict. Over the last 12 weeks, I’ve seen and felt changes that I’m happy with. I got all the workouts in and I ate a clean, high protein diet 80% of the time, but there was occasions where I consumed foods like pizzas and ice cream etc. on most weekends.
  • Know when you need to rein it back in. Towards the back end of 2017, I knew I’d let things slip and it was time to do something about it. Have you let things slip and is it time you did something about it?