Ep. 8 – Paul McIlroy – How Paul Created and Continues Innovating the World's #1 Body Transformation Program
Paul McIlroy is the founder and creator of the Amazing 12, The World’s #1 Body Transformation Program that has produced over 8,000 jaw-dropping body transformation results in 148 countries.
In this podcast episode, Paul talks about his start in fitness and body transformations, optimizing training for massive strength increases, and how he created the A12 program and evolved it over the last 15 through the lens of strength and conditioning.
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- The origin story of Amazing 12, from the death of Paul’s father to helping is friend transform his life after battling substance abuse and alcohol addiction.
- How after his friend and client won the EAS Body For Life competition, Paul received hundreds of requests for his 12 week program that has now reached over 8,000 people in 148 countries.
- “Optimal” should be the goal at all times and how to strengthen weaknesses in order to ascend to the next level.
- What the 12 week program actually is, how it works, and how it’s possible to achieve dramatic physical change with the Amazing 12 program
- What A12 does as far as marrying the best strength technique from all the best sports, like bodybuilding, powerlifting, gymnastics, and even martial arts.
- The role of nutrition and the idea behind 90% training, 10% diet, which is the opposite of what a lot of conventional belief is out there.
- How accessing superhuman potential is possible, and the way to do that is through how we communicate with our central nervous system.
- And much more…
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Sean Greeley: All right. Hey, everybody. Welcome to the show. I’m here with my good friend, Paul McIlroy, the founder and creator of the Amazing 12 program. Paul is from Belfast, Northern Ireland, so you’re going to hear his accent today, which is amazing. We’ve known each other for many, many years. We go way back, and excited to have you here Paul, today. Welcome to the show.
Paul McIlroy: Thanks for having me. It’s good to be here, Sean Greeley. It really is.
Sean Greeley: Awesome. So, tell everybody just a little bit about your background. You have an incredible background as an athlete, as a coach, as a gym owner, and more. Take us through a little bit around your journey growing up in Belfast and sport and fitness.
Paul McIlroy: Well, I grew up in West Belfast in the 1980s, which a quick Google search will tell you, was basically a war zone. It was socially deprived. The area that I grew up in was a place called Divis Flats or right across from that called Devonshire, McDonalds Street and all those surrounding areas in West Belfast. They were… I remember reading a text book in High School actually, many years later, that Divis Flats was the most under privileged housing estate in Europe in 1985, okay? That was right around the time I was a kid playing in the streets and all that stuff.
On the backdrop of all the problems that would normally be associated with what is essentially a ghetto, you also had sort of an urban guerrilla war happening at the same time. It was tons of fun 24/7. Obviously I jest. It was dangerous, but in all honesty it was a place that it was my normality, and everybody’s normality at the time. Whatever your norm is, is relative to you and where you are, so I knew no better.
I remember I was maybe 13 years old before I visited there from country, and I couldn’t believe the difference. You know, the normality. The news… I remember laughing for ours. You know, everyday laughing at the news in place that we were because it was so normal. I couldn’t believe that wasn’t reporting bombs, and killings and stuff like that. That’s where I grew up, so right away there wasn’t a whole lot of options. The two things that our community really praised more that anything were sport and education because those were your two weapons with which to try and ascend. The proverbial Phoenix from the ashes so to speak. A lot of people did do that and that’s something that my mother and father had the … . They’re no longer with us unfortunately and I credit them immensely for helping both myself and my brother, Sam, through sport and education. So, that’s what I did. From an early age I was involved in sport and education the whole way through. The whole way through. So those two things went hand in hand my whole life.
Sean Greeley: And you had some early success obviously in boxing, in MMA. You trained in the UFC. Tell people a little bit about your journey there.
Paul McIlroy: Okay, I started boxing when I was bout 13. I boxed on and off competitively for about 11 years, so kind of from the early 90’s to the early mid 90’s. I loved it. It was something that cam very natural to me and it was something… well, the fighting Irish. As the picture behind me. I got that in Hell’s Kitchen, New York. The Fighting Irish is something that’s praised in our culture and we are a warrior nation in that way. I was always raised by people who were good at boxing. Right back from the early days of the Prize Ring, boxing was big here, so it was important to me from an early age.
I followed in my brother’s footsteps because he was a successful martial artist, kick boxer and stuff like that. The ability to be able to fight as well as thing was something that was very, very praised where I came from. It’s unusual how much emphasis was placed on that but, it carried on the whole way through. I came to power lifting in my early 20’s because I discovered when I was training for boxing that I was very physically strong. When I started to life weights I ended up getting stronger that some of the heavy weights, even though I was a lightweight and things like that.
So, I found out about the sport of power lifting. I started competing in that. Within 18 months I had won national, international and a version of the World Junior Power Lifting Championships. Then I came back to boxing for a while. I ended up going to MMA. I wanted to try MMA. I kind of flirted with the MMA but, it was always something… I always remember thinking I only lost three fights in boxing. Didn’t have as many as I should of had, but I had affirmant. I lost three but I always remembered thinking that if those three fights hadn’t had gone… If I hadn’t been restricted by the rules I would have won them. You know what I mean? I never felt weaker than the person I always felt if I could get a grip of them. You know I was out foxed a couple of times by good kick boxers, and south paws and stuff pawing at me.
One guy who won a silver medal in the World Junior Championships, he was very good. So I want to try MMA. I came to it quite late. It was a transitionary phase in my life where I was starting to see some success as a strength and conditioning specialist as well. After I got my degree in Sports Science I moved on to do the CSCS under the NSCA. I had also done RKC Level one and two. We were actually at the same RKC level and didn’t know each other at all.
Sean Greeley: I know, there’s pictures of us side by side doing testing and stuff. We found years later, which was awesome.
Paul McIlroy: That’s crazy. You know, just top show you it’s a small world. I seen an advertisement, Ultimate Grappling Magazine that Mark Hughes was opening a gym called The Hit Squad in Granite City, Illinois, and I thought I’d go over and just kind of audition to be a part of their team. I did that for a month when I was over there training, exchanging blows. Full contact from the start. The first day was sparing. Actually almost got into a street fight with Bobby Lawler. That’s a story in itself. Was a misunderstanding between me and Robbie Lawler. Almost got into a scrap over something very silly. Was separated by the whole team.
Sean Greeley: Shocker, shocker that happened.
Paul McIlroy: Shocker, yeah! Well, I am a bit of a firecracker and Robbie’s a big bit of a firecracker but, we ended up getting on really well. Famously. Let’s say buy the end, there’s pictures of me and him together. I feel we got past … quickly. That’s the thing with fighters and guys in particular seem to put stuff behind them relatively quickly. It was a great experience training with these guys, sparring these guys. Maybe half a dozen Guys that were either in the UFC or ended up in the UFC or the Ultimate Fighter House or things like that. To call them friends and train with them was a great experience.
I was over there for over a month and at the end of that it was time to come back for a while, and when it was time to come back again, for America and try and stay for longer because I had a conversation with the management and they had said to me that they’d be happy enough to get me a contract to fight with them after the training I had done there.
I was over the moon by that. That was a dream come true type of thing. Some other stuff happened-
Sean Greeley: Some other stuff happened, Yeah, so we’ll get into that. Which is really an exciting part of your journey and your life, which is transformed now thousands and thousands of lives around the world. Talk to us around the origin story of A12, which I know a little bit of the background that I’ve heard you tell many times, but you had a friend who was going through some serious life crisis and change. You offered to train them, so take us through that story.
Paul McIlroy: Well, it’s quite a harrowing story, and it’s one that is very, very close, personal to my heart in many ways. Not just because of what happened with my friend and what subsequently ended up happening with my the program, but because it actually starts with the death of my father. That’s kind of where the story starts.
So, my friend who had been a friend of mine from boxing, a very, very talented boxer. Three times national champion. All the ability in the world, who had kind of fallen. The streets had kind of got him, so to speak and he over time had become… Developed substance abuse problems and alcohol addiction and things like that. His lifestyle, he was paying the price for it physically and mentally and emotionally in his life.
At the same time that this was kind of happening with him, my father was terminally ill. On the night that he died, as the police report would later reveal at almost precisely the moment that my father died, which is erry, my friend was attacked, savagely, in the street. A non provoked attack. He was drunk and he can’t really remember what happened, but apparently what happened was he subsequently ended up coming out… what was happening was he was put on the curb stump, Like “American History X”, and the guy jumped on his neck. Like the movie. I think that he was actually inspired by the movie, to hurt a human being in this way. His neck was broken. His neck was… He had fractured and compressed vertebrae in his neck so, broken in a way. Very, very close to paralysis the way the bones were sitting. He was exceptionally lucky that he wasn’t paralyzed.
Nobody obviously told me about this. My brother and my mother found out about it, but it was early after the morning my father had just died, so nobody wanted to tell me. When they did eventually tell me, it was shortly before my fathers funeral and I ran to his bedside because I had told him that I wanted… Before he got hurt, and before my father had died he was in the hospital, and he was being sent home essentially to pass away because there was nothing more they could do about him, is why he came home. My friend who not only was a boxer, was very talented at sort of interior decorator type of thing as well. A painter and decorator. I asked for his help to help fix up my fathers apartment as sort of a last gift to him. Without him I wouldn’t have been able to do it in the time frame that was accomplished then.
SO I felt I really owed him a debt and I also was suffering from the loss of my father and I felt I really need to save. So, I went up to him in the hospital bed and he was talking about, you know, am I going to walk again? The doctors don’t know. He was crying and stuff like that, as you would be. I was tearful myself to be honest. He says if God lets me walk again I promise I am going to turn it all around. I’ll never touch no other drink, I’ll never touch no other drug. I’ll turn this around somehow. I am going to get back as well, going to do all that. I said well, I am going to help you. My skillset at that point was only getting people stronger and knocking people out, so I couldn’t really see the correlation between what I could do to help him.
I remember in the late 90’s I entered a competition called Body for Life myself. At the time it wasn’t open to people from places outside of the United States, so they wouldn’t let me do it. But I remembered much of that 12 week program and the process of changing the body outwardly had an inexplicably powerful effect internally, in terms of changing the persons whole outlook on life and how that spilled over to their family and their greater community. I thought lets give this a shot. I said there’s a thing called Body for Life. I didn’t even know if it was available in the UK. It turned out that it was, and he says all right let’s do that.
12 weeks later we won it. We actually won. He won it. He started squatting much to my dismay, with a neck brace on, and I was like, you can’t. This guy was a warrior so you have to understand it’s not a typical human being as well. You know you can’t squat with a neck brace on. He goes, well I am not putting it on my neck! Like, yeah! But if you make one mistake it’s going to slide up there, you know?
I was spotting him like a ninja for the first couple of weeks on things like the back squat and stuff, but we got through this. We were training here, there and everywhere. A wee bit at home, a wee bit in the street and parks. A wee bit sometimes happened to climb over a barbed wire fence to get into the gym we had the key to get into to train at 11 or 12 o’clock at night because he had to work and I had to work. All this sacrifice just because my goal was to try and turn him around. I didn’t think we were going to win really, to be honest because it gets big, big entries as you know yourself. It gets thousands of entries. We won the UK Men’s Body for Life challenge, and we ended up meeting Porter Freeman, one of the original champions. We didn’t use the Body for Life program or that to be fair, but that was the first instance of me not training somebody for performance entry so to speak. Training them for aesthetic outcome. That was interesting to me that the fastest way to do that was to actually train them for a performance entry. So, we won it. I was unbelievable.
Sean Greeley: How amazing.
Paul McIlroy: That would be the first.
Sean Greeley: Another crazy… where our journey intersects in life. My personal training career started in the gym that Porter Freeman was training in to win the Body For Life, so there’s so many crossovers that we run into in our lives around the world for the past few decades. So cool. Your guy wins the body for life, has this unbelievable transformation, and then this is just to get the timeline … and then you basically leave town and go to train for the UFC.
Paul McIlroy: Yeah.
Sean Greeley: All of a sudden you come home and you got a ton of emails from around the world, so tell us what happened.
Paul McIlroy: Well tell you what happened was, I trained him and then I was contacted by a few other people because it became well known. He was in Mens Fitness Magazine and he was in newspapers and he was in all these different things that he had … . Radio talk shows and stuff he’d done, you know? So it became quite… He was notorious anyway, to be honest with you! This made him notorious for a good reason. So, famous instead of infamous for once. Other people from the area that we had both grown up with who had similar demons to overcome contacted me randomly. At the same time that I am training athletes and lifters, for higher performance and getting paid for that I was training a bunch of local people from my old neighborhood for free for body transformations. I ended up getting them a whole bunch of them after a while. Probably maybe 12 to 18 months worth or more of these.
I said, you know what? I am going to make a website. I am going to put all my stuff on it. The guy who was the website designer at the time says, “Well, what are you going to do with these body transformations?” And I was like, well I am just doing that just to help people. Well, put them up on the site and say that you offer it as a service. There’s going to be people that want that as well. Maybe there wasn’t.
This coincided with me going over to train with Matt Hughes and Robbie Lawler etc., and hit squad. I didn’t check my emails for over a month and I came back and there was a couple of hundred requests asking me to do that 12 week thing that didn’t have name at the time. I don’t care how much it costs. I don’t care where you are or what I have to do, just can you do this to me? That’s where it started, and here we are over 8,000 people in 148 countries later.
Sean Greeley: Yeah, incredible. So that’s really where A12 was born and it took off. Things exploded, now you’re back in Belfast, you own a gym, Centaur, you’re having thousands of people come through and do the 12 week program from all over the world. Contacting you, wanting to learn, wanting to grow and train. Eventually you decide to create a certification because you can’t possibly serve all these people coming at you guys.
Paul McIlroy: Well, that’s exactly what happened. As a result of me sharing the success and the best way that I knew possible at the time, which was high quality before and after. Honest before and after pictures taken in similar light and similar circumstances. Flexing the same way and getting everything optimal around how we present the results and telling people’s stories. Telling people’s genuine stories, I wasn’t doing it as good then as I do now, because we actually have a system developed, as you know, to be able to do that optimally. Back then I was just winging it. Just trying to tell these peoples stories. I caught a lot of attention. The internet is a phenomenal thing and social media caught on in a way that I hadn’t anticipated. Suddenly I was being contacted by fitness professionals as well as end user clients asking me to intern. I must have had over a dozen people wanting to uproot and live in Belfast for like, six months to a year. To intern with me to learn how to do that thing you do.
So this happened. I was getting a bunch of emails from all over the globe, particularly America. I thought I need to do something with this. So, I come from a certification background and I thought we’re going to make it … . The information on how to do this is so vast you’re never going to learn it. You can learn how to do a certain exercise in a few days, or how to wield and implement, a fitness implement optimally, but you’re not going to learn everything that there is to do with this in three days. So, the three day seminar wasn’t going to be enough. I went about authoring a 100,000 word manual with over 1000 instructional images. Got it professionally produced, no expense spared. Full color, all … published. Not for the public, only for people who became certified A12 coaches.
We ran the first event and we had a very, very tough screening process because we didn’t want just anybody holding this product because it really is… You’re holding the ability to change people’s lives, and not just our lives. The lives of their families and to spill it into the greater community. The results had to be a really high standard, so we only want to operate with people who got that and were able to do that. We wanted to give them every tool possible to be able to do that. There was a live event, there was the book then there was the first book support group after that. All of which was key to the initial success of the program.
Sean Greeley: Also known as how Dave Whitley got a van, got a Jeep, right?
Paul McIlroy: That’s right. Yeah, Dan hosted the first US one and the A12, it was a high ticket offer so anytime you’re associated with it you get a payoff.
Sean Greeley: It’s classic, it’s classic. So, to tell people a little bit more about how our journeys intersect, so we’ve known each other for a long time. We had spoken early on about the A12 and working together. It wasn’t the right time for either of us. You guys kind of kept going although we had some of our stages for MP conferences and such. Kind of kept going, and then you reached a point having done a few a circuits around the world, having had this massive manual. Having certified… I don’t know. 70 plus coaches, and not only that but a vast, thousands of transformations. Number of cover models that went through the program, professional athletes of all levels of sport. Getting them stronger, improving their performance, physique and everything. And then you reached this point where we had a big meeting, conversation, and we talked about based on where it’s at today we have to potentially take a step back and retool a lot of things to be able to really grow this thing to next level.
That was a big meeting. We went through a lot of that and I want to commend you for what is probably the toughest thing to do for an entrepreneurs or anyone, is to look at your business. Look at success you’ve had and fast growth you’ve had and be able to take a step back for maybe a year, or two and retool and drill more roots in the ground to be able to take multiple steps forward. Not everybody is willing to do that or can let go of their ego in doing that. You guys went through that with Duane right by your side, and obviously I don’t know how many calls over the years at meeting around the world to support this. Talk about just that journey because it takes a lot of courage and it takes letting go of your ego to do that as a leader and as an entrepreneur.
Paul McIlroy: Well thank you, first of all, for saying that. I can relate to anybody who’s been in that position. If there’s anybody out there that’s currently in that position I would encourage you to get out of that position, and to this position. It’s really… There comes a point of critical mass with every structure. There’s a finite capacity for everything. If you have one gym and you optimize that gym, lets say, as an example, to the absolute capacity of it’s earning potential the only way you can make more is to do something different in addition to that. To have other people come in and do things additional in your facility, or open another facility if you want to keep that model. For example, everything has its point of critical mass and as you say, here I was with the program that was producing performance gains that were comparable if not more impressive even than the aesthetic gains, the aesthetic gains were shocking. Hugely successful. We had some of our certified coaches actually earning over half a million dollars in the space of a few years with just the product.
It was working. It was working really well, but once you get the momentum, if your listeners ever hear me more than once, will hear me use the word optimal. It’s something that my coaches even poke fun at. The fact that everything has to be optimal. That’s the word. There’s a million ways to do things well. Well isn’t the point. Because something works, doesn’t mean to say it can’t work better. Optimal should be the goal of at all times, and as soon as your perspective starts to change, and you start to see the chinks in your own armor, we’ve got to plug those gaps. You’ve got to strengthen those weaknesses in order to ascend to the next level.
As strong as the program itself was, and as strong as the certification was and how good the results people were getting I was spotting inconsistencies that I needed to strengthen. For me, there was stuff that could be better, and there was a big weakness in our arsenal that we didn’t have a particular individual. We had our skill sets. Were all encompassing in their own field but there were other skillsets that we needed in order to actually grow the business side of it to it’s full potential, and we needed to also swallow the fact that in order to do that it would be immense work. We’d need to take a step back from actually growing the business to grow the business.
Okay, and we need the right people in this, and the right person was you, in fact. We knew that. I knew that for years. We were dancing around it for years. You had helped us anyway. There was a lot of, sort of anecdotal stuff that had happened over the years, and eventually we just had that meeting of the minds and I thought, yeah. This is the way to go. It absolutely has been the best decision that we’ve made. I would highly recommend anybody else in a similar position to take that step. You need to have 360 degree strength and confidence in everything that you do.
Even if it’s working great you need to find ways to make it work better. What we’ve been able to accomplish between my team and your team, my brain and your brain, and some of the guys that you have working for you is truly unique in the fitness industry today. So, I’d like to thank you.
Sean Greeley: Well the respect is mutual and I can say that I am really proud of what has been built, which I think is the most comprehensive certification in the industry-
Paul McIlroy: Thank you.
Sean Greeley: For strength and conditioning and unbelievable, dramatic physical change in 12 weeks. There is no other system or program in the world that produces results consistently. Now, even better for every type, every age, every human being in the A12. It is the most dominant force in fitness in terms of what it has to offer.
I’d love for us to take people through a little bit of what is the A12? How does it work? We’ll talk about maybe some of the key learnings, but just take people through what’s the structure of the program? There’s 12 weeks. There’s three phases, there’s 60 workouts. Kind of tell people what’s involved.
Paul McIlroy: That’s first of all what is involved. There’s 12 weeks. There’s 60 workouts, so that’ five workouts a week of approximately one R at a time. That workout consists of resistance training and metabolic conditioning so to speak. The ratio of which will depend on the person starting condition that will depend on the person’s ability, and the appropriateness of certain exercises and movements for the person or the individual.
It takes place in a gym with very limited, basic equipment. There’s only one to two exercises per muscle group, and every muscle group gets worked either once or twice a week. That’s the first thing that people are shocked by. It’s not a great deal of work relative to the outcome in the short space of time that it achieves it.
The reason why I can do that is the optimization of exercise technique as it applies to the biggest and best exercises. So, first you’re wanting to pick the biggest and best exercises and then you don’t need many of them. As Franco Columbo once said, “There’s a thousand different exercises for every muscle group, but in the end only a handful are any good, and only one’s truly the best.” We pick a couple of the very best exercises, sometimes only one for each muscle group and we configure the technique around that exercise so that it’s optimized within the context of that lift. Then we optimize… And that’s the big part, we optimize the program I.e the mathematic progression pattern, behind that exercise to get as good at it, in terms of total weight lifted for total volume as possible, within the shortest possible time period or in this case, the finite time period of 12 weeks.
How strong can you get for reps I.e within the loading parameters or volumes that are most conducive to create the most … . How good can you get within those ranges in 12 weeks with the best exercises and the best technique? That’s what the end produces. The dramatic results.
Sean Greeley: Absolutely amazing. I get to hear you talk all the time so, the three main components of the program are exercise technique, nutrition and optimum programming.
Paul McIlroy: Yeah.
Sean Greeley: Let’s break those down a little bit because I think for anybody who wants dramatic change from their program, or coaches working with clients who want better results for the clients or for their business those are the top three, right? So, starting with technique. Technique is the biggest one by far. You teach more like you said, a handful of exercises but you go so deep in the technique for teaching those exercises. Really taking world class power lifting technique even to the general end user, and learning how to stack that technique to get the most out of every movement they do. Take people a little bit around the philosophy behind that.
Paul McIlroy: Okay, well strength has some hard and fast rules. Then there’s a fluidity to it as well. As technique applies to that what we’re looking for is again, optimal. Now again, optimal is a moveable fist both in terms of program and exercise selection and exercises technique. There’s optimal-optimal for if everything is okay and you’re in a perfect case scenario, and there’s nothing wrong with you, this and that. There’s nothing sub-optimal in you at the moment. You’re not nursing any injuries. There’s no physical biases that would prevent you from doing certain things.
Then there’s optimal within the context of who you are as an individual. Those two things may be the same thing or they may be a different thing depending on your starting condition and physical state. What we do in the A12 is take… We marry the best strength technique from all the best sports. From things like body building, power lifting, strong man, gymnastics even, martial arts even. Believe it or not. All those apply to strength training. There’s a bunch of unique stuff in there that apply to all those things, but I can pretty much guarantee you’ll not have seen them done either at all, or in this way.
Sean Greeley: Yeah, so I can verify that. You will not YouTube this anywhere, some of the stuff you’re talking about. It’s very unique and interesting.
Paul McIlroy: Yeah.
Sean Greeley: And powerful.
Paul McIlroy: So that’s trying to get the technique right around every lift. As I said just to keep people in perspective on what I am talking about there. You’ve alluded to it already quite well. As I have said there’s only one or two maximum exercises per muscle group. It doesn’t take you too long to do the math of all the major muscle groups in the body, right? So, there’s not a lot of exercises in the actual program in total, yet there’s over 200 instructional videos, right? I segment the exercises as they are best learned and as they are best taught in my opinion and in my experience over the past 20 some years in the fitness industry.
I look young for my age I think. Maybe I don’t. So that’s what we’re trying to do. We’ve segment it down into digestible bite sized chunks because if I just come in and then one … like you know, several are long it’ll actually take a few days. Which is what the A12 … the very best version of the live event possible, because when you’re going live, as over the information that I am, when you’re going live and you’re fatigued and you’re jet lagged and you’re this and you’re that. You don’t get take two, and you don’t want take two because you’ve got to get through a certain amount of material and you’ve got a finite period of time in which to do so.
We spent a long time getting these videos right, and they are all high quality professionally shot studio, mixture of sort of studio-classroom type teaching. In the gym instructional, visual. So if you’re a visual learner, or a written learner because the whole manual, that 100, 000 word manual is now online with this, in this sort of coaches hub, educational area. All the images, all the text and now all the videos of both classroom style teaching and in the gym, hands on coaching and visual learning. So it’s all there. The technique side of it was a big undertaking, but it’s worth it. Our feedback already is that it’s been second to none from some very experienced coaches who’ve pretty much done everything else.
Sean Greeley: Yeah, it’s absolutely incredible and I am encouraged for those to become part of the A12 family, and go through the certification to see what’d involved. I want to jump to the next major component, which is nutrition. A lot of people have this philosophy around nutrition is everything and you actually preach something unique that I’ve never heard anyone say before. It’s 90% training, 10% diet, which is really the opposite of what a lot of conventional belief is out there. Can you explain what you mean by that?
Paul McIlroy: Yes, well if definitely grabs peoples attention. I’ll … and I’ll promise that by the time you hear me finish talking you’ll be 100% believer in what I just said. The exact percentages are kind of tongue in cheek in that I am poking fun at the fact that people say 90/10 the other way in the first place. It’s a very round number. Show me your working out, you know? It’s a very convenient 90/10. Oh it’s 90% that, all right? So it’s 10% training or maybe not even. There’s other things involved. There’s mental strength, there’s this there’s that.
Nobody knows. Here’s the truth. There’s been no diagnostic studies, my brain struggles with stuff like that as you can probably ascertain from hearing me talk. I require preciseness, I require accuracy in order to be able to fully understand and take something in. The truth is that’s a citation, which is based in opinion that it’s 90% that. Nobody knows the exact ratio. But the point that they’re trying to make holds true that what they’re saying to them is that is more important than training, or as I would perceive that, exercise programming or strength programming. Size programming or whatever resistance programming. It’s more important to that to the outcome, a physical outcome.
I would argue that’s not the case. The best way… I would argue that training’s vastly more important than that. Whether its 90% or whatever. It’s definitely in my opinion the biggest contributing factor to the outcome. The best way to actually ascertain that is to isolate those two variables. Test them independently of each other and either factually or fictitiously, right? Come to a logical conclusion of what the outcome would be, and when you do that it becomes obvious fairly quickly that when we’re talking about body transformation especially in particular, the training is more important to the outcome. The programming is more important to the outcome than that.
We’ll do that by… Humor me by picturing two complete genetic and lifestyle sociological clones. So, physiological and sociological clones, okay? The only thing that’s going to be different in their lives over the next 12 weeks is one’s going to eat a 100%, couldn’t be anymore optimized diet but continue with their lifestyle as it currently is. The other is going to continue with their normal diet, which for most people is probably half way between good and terrible. That’s generally where it falls… but there going to do an optimized concurrent program, which emphasizes resistance training as well as aerobic and anerobic conditioning, okay so, let’s follow that 12 week journey to its logical conclusion.
By the end who’s stronger, that guy or training guy? It’s the training guy. By the end who has experienced more … that guy or training guy? It’s the training guy. By the end who has more self confidence? That or training? We know the answer. By the end, who’s leaner? That guy or the training guy? It could go either way, but kind of say that guy right? But not by a huge amount, and at that point do you care, because this guy kind of looks probably like a crossfit athlete or a Men’s Health model, or something like that. This guy over here kind of looks emaciated, if you know what I mean. Like a castaway or something like that, like somebody.
The bottom line is, you can starve someone to a six pack if that’s your intention, but that’s not a body transformation. You can’t starve somebody to a 25% improvement in their bench press one rep max. That’s achieved through program. The best part about it is, … are irrelevant because we don’t live in that world, we live in the real one. You can do the two at once, and there’s absolutely no question that that is hugely important. The body transformation we vastly … is optimal or close to optimal. It’s just something I like to do for shock value, as much as it is factual. It gets people’s attention to steer their focus in the right direction. That the manipulation of mathematics to bring about changes in physical outcomes is vastly more important that the … of all the macros and precisely the right ratio and this and that.
Growing up as well, and the place where I grew up I’ve seen first hand tons of physical examples of guys who were ripped to the bone and didn’t eat well. That’s genetics as well, but they were also training and they got stronger, and they got bigger. These are things that can happen on an average stat, but they can’t happen in the absence of training. Where that pop culture reference came from was the outcome of a body building competition, and within the context of that sport it is true that that might be more important in a transient way by the pre contest prep, but what you’re not seeing is the 20 plus years of training that that guy put in lifting weights before that to get to that point.
Training has still been more important in his process as well, no matter what he does. Even if he’s chemically enhanced he has to train, you know? So, training is the most important.
Sean Greeley: Yeah, fantastic. Yeah, and programming, that’s the third part really of the system, right? So, we’ve got exercise technique, nutrition and programming. Now, programming I know, has been the hardest part for you to scale optimally, right, around the world because how to do take decades of experience and your genius and every minute decision that’s based off of real time feedback with a client, and how do you multiply that? Well, you simply can’t, right? There’s always going to be some breakdown and that was the big part of what we took a step back for a couple years to change about the certification and really make it to where programming is done by artificial intelligence and software that dynamically takes everything everybody does every day, and feed back and then modifies uniquely the next workout to have the most awesome workout every time, every workout, every rep, every exercise selection for a client based on feedback. That’s something that I’ve never seen anyone ever do in the fitness industry.
It’s a tremendous amount of investment, of time, money and resources to produce this product and it now not only coaches really a foolproof way to have the best programming, as a new coach, have the best program for your client, every client every time regardless, and when you’re a gym owner who’s trying to grow other coaches to scale your facility, and ensure they come in and do great programming and they’re not making mistakes in terms of selection and movement and so on for a client. Take people through this process because this is again, you spent I don’t know how many thousands of hours have gone into this but a lot of time.
Paul McIlroy: Yeah, I mean so much. So much time, so much investment of every possible kind but it was all necessary. In order to fully appreciate how necessary I think I have to briefly touch on what optimal programming is actually best represented as. For starters what most people in the fitness industry consider programming is willfully under equipped to be called that. Its vastly suboptimal. The central nervous system is the governor of all things, and when it comes to strength the first thing to understand is that the human being, very human being walking the face of the planet right now has superhuman strength potential right underneath their skin.
Even when trying our hardest all humans are on a continuum of between 30 % and 50%, that’s the maximum rent of movements that be utilized when trying your hardest to lift the heaviest weight possible at any one time. That’s all the juice that your central nervous system trusts you with at any one time, okay, and it’s for good reason because if 100% of your musculature was optimally integrated or maximally integrated I should say, you would literally tear yourself apart. Bones would break, tendons would rupture. We’ll often see this with people who are artificially maximally integrated by things like the electric chair unfortunately.
We hear stories of people breaking the chair and breaking free and stuff, this is because they’ve been super humanly innovated with the electrical current. That actually causes the muscles to then 100% ignite, so we cut ourselves apart if you’re allowed to use it all. We’re not even trusted with the full amount of strength that we’re capable of. Then there’s the fact that it’s the neurology behind it and the central nervous system and the brain are one and the same … flows throughout your body, and whatever the brain says goes. I only have access to about 30 to 35% of our total brain capacity at any one time as well, so one thing is certain that we don’t fully understand everything as it relates to the human body, and certainly as that relates to strength, the facilitation and the optimal acquisition of it.
But there are huge on top resources within the human body with huge potential. Throughout history and all over the world stories of spontaneous feats of super human strength are peppered throughout our pop culture. They’re not just urban legends they really happen and some people have experienced them. I even experienced something like that once in my life as well. It’s a real thing. There’s tons of on top potential but your central nervous system is kind of the governor/manager of, and the process of getting stronger, whether or not that is the … efficient, and being allowed to have more juice present for the predetermined 30 to 50% that we’re allotted. Or, if were allowed to use a higher percentage of what’s already there doesn’t really matter. What matters is that it’s a process.
There’s a governor, there’s an interaction with that …I know you and your central nervous system are the same thing, but in order to actually break this down into what’s optimal its best to segment it and start looking at it as a separate thing.
How we communicated with the central nervous system in the past, well people have been getting stronger for time and memorial so, those strength training programs are the conversations that we have had with the central nervous system in the past, so we don’t have to start from scratch. We can look and stand on the shoulders of giants that came before us, and we can look at what worked best before. We can look at the common denominators and successful conversations with the central nervous system and then we can start to eliminate the superfluous and really hone in on what the most productive common denominator was.
If we look at the progressively better ideas throughout the history of strength programming and we look at things like the failure model, the … failure, and then eastern periodization, western periodization … and all the eastern block stuff that came after that and even some of the newer books, like “Easy Strength” and stuff by Don John … and all those great works that are out there. We see, it’s as plain as day. It’s like when somebody turns on the light. Once you see it, you can’t unsee it. There’s a direct correlation existing between time starting off and comfort in training cycle and total time spent training on progression and level of comfort an the total strength and power potential or building potential, or acquisition or facilitation potential of the strength training program in itself.
So if the common denominator is progress and un comfort, then what’s best to do is to take the focus off the pig entirely and start putting it on expanding that comfort zone until eventually the comfort zone envelopes your previous limit. Now where is your limit? Well it’s out there in the stratosphere somewhere. People often as me what’s your max this, or max that and I’ll tell them I don’t know. Because I am not concerned with what my max is, I am only concerned with raising it, okay?
Every workout spent finding it is several workouts wasted that could have been used raising it, okay because the central nervous system doesn’t take maximal training very well for very long, especially if you’re drug free. Especially if you’re not a genetic superhuman. There’s a finite period of time that you’re ability to gain whilst training maximally or super maximally, with really intense methods. There’s a place for it that it’s a tiger that should be tethered, so that you’ve got full control of the beast and it should be tethered in a prison of comfort, and rolled along.
A lot of these things sound quite abstract right now, but it becomes more obvious once you go to the puppet show and see the strings. You can’t unsee them. You see that’s not 100% typical this process, so it’s both an art and a science to try and manipulate the numbers in such a way that there’s an increase in intensity without a proportionate increase to RP, or I.e the perception of difficulty of that intensity increase. That’s getting stronger. If you can increase the load without a proportionate increase… So say my one rep max is 100%, so today every percentage of my one rep max will be accurate. If I left at 80% that will be 80%. So the trick is to start the cycle in the right place and progress the numbers in such a way that by the time I get back to 80% its perceived as less than 80%, okay? But instead of moving towards the peak we just keep expanding the comfort zone and forget about the peak. It’ll take care of itself.
If you improve any rep max by a significant percentage you’ll improve every rep maximum, so that was hard to convey in three days. Actually, we had two days worth of technique training and one day dedicated to programming. And yes they went away with a manual, and yes there was the Facebook support group, and yes the results were very good. Very, very good because of those things, but some people were getting better results that others to be honest, and what it was down to was personal interpretation or in this case I would say personal misinterpretation of the fine, fine art forms and nuances of just how to progress that program and optimally.
So what we did was we sat down, I sat down with some of your computer programmers. Big shout out to Romaine. The Romaine machine as I call him, and everybody else that was involved. Painstakingly created from scratch an artificial intelligence version of my own decision making process as it applies directly to the A12 for every conceivable type of individual. That will give you dynamic advice on a set by set, day by day basis as if I was standing beside you in your pocket telling you what to do. All you have to do is type in the metrics and as you can probably ascertain I am numbers guy, and this thing will react just as I would if I was standing beside you.
We had a few hard moments for some of the older viewers. We had a few space odyssey ha ha moments but it was freaky watching this thing make decisions like me. Better than me actually because it’s …. I am a human being. If you’re asking me a question and you’re from Australia, and I am answering it at whatever time, I can make mistakes. I am only one person. If we’re going to scale this to the point where we want to fulfill the mission of the company, which is to change as many lives in the world as possible with this program, then I was the weak link ironically because I couldn’t serve all the people we required to serve or those people were required to change the world one body at a time, so to speak. One life at a time.
So, we needed to upscale, I needed to be upgraded. So the Skynet version of me now exists.
Sean Greeley: Yes, it’s scary … Yeah and I know … the kids should be concerned. There’s two of you out there now. Listen, fantastic stuff. We want to encourage everybody to really learn more about the mission of A12. If you’re interested in getting dramatic results for yourself, for your clients and really helping people produce physical change, which really is the heart of what fitness is. It’s about physical change. The A12 system and programming methodology and certification needs to be in your arsenal.
You’re going to learn more at a greater depth and have weapon that absolutely differentiates you from all the competition out there. Go to the website, check out some of the 8,000 transformations of every body type, shape, size, genetics, young, old. Male, female. Professional elite celebrity, mom-and-pop. You know, you name it. Under 40, over 40. This is just really, the next body for life, body transformation to the enth degree. I am excited to be a part of this journey, be a part of the movement to bring this to more people around the world because it’s absolutely going to be transformative to many lives and many businesses for coaches and gym owners around the world. We encourage people to go… Tell them where to go check it out. Amazing12.com, they can learn more and [crosstalk 00:55:06]
Paul McIlroy: Amazing12.com, amazing12.com is the main place. You can also follow me on Facebook. I am considering making my personal page, my personal profile a page with my friends maxed out. I get friend requests and I can’t really accept people. I have to wait for people to get bored of me, and go away before I can accept people. You can follow me on Instagram at Paul McIlroy Amazing 12, yeah Paul McIlroy Amazing 12 yeah. That’s what it is. I am not a big social media guy just yet. We’re venturing in. We’re dipping our toe into that strange and wonderful world.
Sean Greeley: Yes.
Paul McIlroy: And just briefly if I may, just touch on something there Sean Greeley? The thing that makes the A12 so appealing is that regardless of what our preconceived notions for getting into the fitness industry of staying in the fitness industry are, the fact of the matter is like it or not, and I’ve been in the position of both liking it and not liking it myself. Coming from a strength and conditioning specialist background, the vast majority of people… The reason why the fitness industry exists in the first place is because the vast majority of people who created the need for it are there because they want to look better. They want to look better in their clothes and out of their clothes. They want to feel better, they want to perform better, but they primarily want to look better.
The good news is, as I said earlier, a body transformation shouldn’t be about just looking better. It should be about performing better. You can have it all if the program is optimized. You can starve yourself to a six pack, but you can’t starve yourself to a massive strength increase. That’s about getting all the variables correct, and the best part about it is because I come from a strength and conditioning background, I created this program and evolved it over the last 15 or so years, through the lens of a strength and conditioning specialist. The best way conveniently to make huge aesthetic changes in a physique, that’s constituted by muscle gain and fat loss predominantly. It’s to create huge performance gains and strength for reps, and aerobic and anerobic performance, as well as an optimized ad.
So that’s why this has produced huge performance gains as well. That’s why it’s not extreme. Because I plan around training around expanding a comfort zone people are often surprised at how easy the overall training actually is. It’s not… Nobody’s getting pushed to their limit at any point, and it’s scaled perfectly to every individual. That’s what the A12 is, and thanks for listening.
Sean Greeley: Well, fantastic. I can’t wait for people to learn more. Go to amazing12.com. Amazing, the number 12, dot com. We’ll have some links for socials and stuff in the show notes and Paul, I know we’ll be talking again in the future my friend, so thanks for being here on the show and more to come.
Paul McIlroy: Thank you. Thank you for having me.