When I first grabbed my copy of The Holy Grail Body Transformation Program by Tom Venuto, I DID expect the best. I have known Tom since I started by online fitness business several years ago. With his original Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle, my nutrition knowledge was already top-notch. The real reason I wanted to test out this body transformation program was simple.
I’m tired of the typical bulk and cut cycles that are preached on the Internet. I’m tired of gaining fat in the off-season and having to work hard to burn it off and just hold pace during the rest of the year. I also am a glutton for new challenges as I get bored easily. The idea intrigued me on many levels.
Here’s your chance to read this review and figure out if Tom Venuto’s Holy Grail Body Transformation System is something for you.
What You Can Expect
Part one starts out with the theory and science. While many people may want to breeze over this section, I guarantee you it is not overly scientific or boring. You need to understand the physiological process of body transformation and how you gain muscle and burn fat. The whole nutritional program is based upon your ability to manipulate your nutrition to achieve the results you desire.
“Should you decide to pursue the Holy Grail, you are about to embark on a challenging journey. ~ Tom Venuto
Part two gives you the nutritional techniques to make this into reality. Nutrient timing and nutritional periodization are discussed. Your choices for the cyclical nutrition plan is the absolute core of the Holy Grail Body Transformation Program. If you don’t get this right, it’s the difference between making a little progress and significant. Sounds complicated but it is not.
Part three covers the weight training aspect. There’s a program called “The New Bodybuilding” or T.N.B. workout. In a nutshell, it’s an upper and lower body routine, twice a week, with different rep ranges, sets and rest periods. You will be focusing on strength training and muscle hypertrophy, twice a week. I found this to be very unique for my style of training. Being a typical bodybuilder, I focused on split routines and a single goal. While I’ve mixed and matched rest periods, sets and weights, this upper and lower body concept was a breath of fresh air. Granted, it’s not a new concept by any means and for many people, they have done this style but if you have never tried it before, it’s interesting.
- Upper and Lower body workouts; twice a week
- Focused strength and muscle growth priorities
While the workout is great, it’s limited. You will find that after 3 cycles of this program, roughly 12 weeks, you want to change it up. Maybe do something entirely different. The exercises listed are top-notch but for those who workout at home or the gym does not have the correct setup, you will be forced to mix and match your own program. That is not a problem for most but it is a limiting factor.
But before I forget, you can use the nutritional outline in this Holy Grail Body Transformation Program with any workout program. While it appears to be optimized for the T.N.B. workout, there is no barriers to using this concept with any other weight training program. Which is the ultimate in mix and match in my opinion.
The book would benefit from a plug and go type exercise chart showing sample exercises, reps, sets and rest periods. For example, list several exercises for each body part and the user can pick and choose what to do. This still allows the concept of the T.N.B. program to be completed but it would give much needed options for those who may not be able to do or have access to that piece of equipment. It’s the only flaw I see in the workout section.
Part four talks about lifestyle factors that will and can effect your progress.
Part five is a question and answer section. After the first version which was done and completed during a Burn the Fat Inner Circle challenge, Tom Venuto took the hundreds of e-mails and put them into a Q&A format. The latest version really drills down into things that are covered but maybe overlooked the first go around. This turns out to be an immensely helpful chapter of the book.
In the appendix sections, you will find things like:
- Sample meal plans
- Calorie calculators
- Burn the Fat 2.0 food database
- The T.N.B. workout program
Please understand that if you aren’t versed in nutrition or just a beginner, this program may be a little too complex. It does have sample meal plans but you don’t find an in depth coverage of nutrition for a lifestyle and the workouts assume you can handle yourself in the gym as far as knowing when and how to push yourself past limitations. A person without 6 months of solid weight lifting experience would be best to stick with a more generalized program and not worry about body composition changes that are left to a more advanced athlete.
In summary, this is one of the most fun and nutritionally challenging programs I’ve tried in a decade. I’ve seen my own body fat go from the lower end of average (14%) for a bodybuilder to a lean, 7.47% with a small amount of muscle gain, significant fat loss and gains in overall strength. The Holy Grail Body Transformation Program bills itself as a body composition changer and if followed to the letter, it will do just that without making you feel starving for food or in such a low carbohydrate deficit you are walking around like a zombie with a constant low sugar, low carb headache.
Over the course of 8 weeks, I personally have received many questions about this program myself. So I’ve developed my own question and answer section. A big thanks to Scott, one of my Facebook friends for drilling down the questions so that I would have something very specific to discuss.
Question and Answer Section:
What kind of diet do you go on, in terms of calories, protein, fat, and carb ratios?
Your calorie calculation requires you to figure out how many calories a day you will need for weight gain, maintenance and weight loss. You will use either the Harris-Benedict Formula or the Katch-Mcardle Formula. Nothing out of the ordinary here. The reason you will want to know all three is that depending on the cylindrical diet plan you choose, you will have different calorie targets.
This whole plan revolves around the concept of Zig-Zag nutrition. That’s where you have a few days below maintenance, then you follow it up with a maintenance or above maintenance calorie day. You might choose the plan called the 3:1 Cycle.
That’s 3 days of 15%-20% below maintenance and 1 day in a surplus or 15% above. Or you might choose a 3 day of surplus and 3 days of a calorie deficit. There’s a few options depending on what your primary goal is for your macrocycle. Meaning…
Are you trying to primary build muscle and burn some fat, or burn fat as a priority but keep muscle or maybe.. do the unthinkable and get leaner while gaining muscle? The nutrition portion of this plan will guide you through all 3 options very nicely.
Proteins, Fats and Carbs will be in the standard.. 45%, 35%, 20% . Focus is on higher protein for muscle retention and satiety. The lower carbs is very comfortable with emphasis on carb tappering and burning fat without sending you into low or zero carb mode where you feel like a zombie. The fats are there to keep your intake in-line with recommendations.
Where it gets REAL INTERESTING is the carbohydrate tappering plans (carbs specifically around workouts) and post-workout nutrition. Rather than just having a standard set meal plan, the focus is on lowered carbs overall (200g per day) with a focus on most of those carbs coming into play before and after the workout. This allows you to have plenty of energy for that specific time when you need it most. Most plans don’t take this into account. It makes it a bit more specific to your goals.
Being on a continued lower calorie plan is a good way to lose muscle. Being in a surplus too long and you gain fat. This 3:1 style along with the others is just easy enough to follow without making every single day a “new” meal plan and overly complicated.
Nutrition in the Holy Grail Body Transformation Program is a top priority. Get this right and you are almost guaranteed some significant results.
What does the T.N.B. workout consist of? Heavyweights 8-10 reps, light weight 12-15 reps?
T.N.B. workout is an upper body, lower body workout, done twice a week. The focus is on strength and muscle growth and that is accomplished by variable sets, rep ranges and rest periods. Loading periods are cycled so that each week, you aim to be personal bests. Your ranges for strength will be in the 5-6 rep range and muscle growth in the typical 8-12 range. Strength phases will use a 5×5 method which is quite good for raw strength gains. Lower volume will be used for higher rep ranges.
Week 1: Introductory loading
Week 2: Base loading
Week 3: Overloading
Week 4: Shock loading
Week 5: Begin new cycle
After 3 cycles of this, you’ll need to switch up the exercises. It’s a very detailed program that covers what most bodybuilders want. Strength with significant muscle growth. And while it may not be new to some (upper and lower body routines) it creates a nice foundation in which you can build upon to further create your own workouts. The only thing I’d wish for is some easier method to create these sticking to the principles outlined. It’s far too easy to start adding new exercises to the original program and you’ll end up in the gym for 2 hours.
In the current form, you can do this routine in about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
After the 3 use, Tom recommends either switch to a new program or continue to use the weekly workout schedule, set/rep parameters while changing some or all of the exercises.
I work out at 3:45am everyday m-f and it drives me insane when everyone’s diet never takes in affect for people like me that workout first thing when they get up because tons of bodybuilders and trainer do that. All the diets start out about eating breakfast, then a snack, etc then talk about working out at night. Some of us get up early and workout.
Even if you do your weight workouts when you get up.. it’s IMPERATIVE to eat. While cardio can be done on an empty stomach, weight training should not. You need fuel for those workouts. If you get up early, you should have some type of high protein, high carbohydrate breakfast and give yourself 30 minutes to digest the food. You may need more time, maybe less. Personally, I can eat a full meal and be ready to go in about 30 minutes. But you need to be fueled for those workouts.
Many bodybuilders do workout early. But if you want to build muscle, you’ve got to fuel yourself. Even the individuals I know who hit the gym at 5:00am still make time for a quick breakfast at 4:30am. This breakfast can be as simple as raw uncooked oats, protein powder and an orange. Plenty of carbs and protein for a weight training workout.
There is no benefit to weight training without adequate nutrition. After being asleep and potentially catabolic with lower nitrogen levels, the last thing you want to do is induce more stress via weight training without proper pre-workout nutritional support. Take the time for a short, quick breakfast to get some fuel into your system so you can attack the weights. After that, support yourself with proper post-workout nutrition.
Can you give like maybe a 2 day complete sample diet of what you eat on the meal to give some new ideas of what to eat. Right now I’m stuck on protein drinks, grilled chicken breast, green beans, and egg whites for pretty much my entire day.
Oddly enough, the meal plans that come with the program are nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, they actually matched my target calorie goals for both a deficit and surplus. While it’s hard to believe, I have stuck with the defaults for two reasons:
- It makes life simple
- It makes like really simple
All joking aside, the one thing that had me pulling my hair out was the constant switching of high and low calorie days too often or different meals for every day. While the variety was welcomed, it made it frustrating to grocery shop quickly and it made bulk cooking and planning an event not worth pursuing anymore after a couple of weeks. This plan is not much more than eggs, chicken, fish, occasional beef, and vegetables. It makes shopping a breeze. It makes eating dull.
Now there’s options as the program comes with the standard Burn the Fat 2.0 food database. Meaning, you have a list of foods in which you can substitute for any of the items. Tired of Salmon? Switch it for Tilapia. Tired of turkey? Switch it for Venison.
Bottom line, the plans comes with several sample meal plans for men and women, based upon some basic calorie goals. There is a nice one that shows you the carb tappering method of nutrition that is discussed in detail. Meaning, a fair amount of carbs before and after your training. But not too much before and after. Thus, you can keep a reasonably low carb plan but have plenty of energy specific for the workouts. This is something missing in most meal plans today. They hit macro-nutrient ratios and calories with a wide variety of foods but they don’t necessarily target those calories specific to a workout. Just seeing the concept is enough for you to adjust any of the sample plans to whatever you might need.
Got a question? Feel free to ask. Tried this program? Let others know your experience.
- marc david