- Thursday, 12 March 2020

Review: pros and cons of Natacha Océane's 'Build.' training guide

sneak peak: a review of Natacha Océane's 12-week 'Build.' workout programme from someone who recently completed it

I've been a regular gym-goer since the days of lunchtime sessions at our very mini gym at school, and have tried various different approaches over the years. There was the Blogilates era (which I loved and worked really well for me), the cardio era (which I managed to make myself stick to for a surprisingly long time, for someone who does not naturally enjoy cardio), the writing my own workout plans era (probably the most long-running of all of them), the fitness classes era (expensive and unsustainable) and, most recently, the 'Build.' era.


Review: pros and cons of Natacha Océane's 'Build.' training guide, imogen molly blog, www.imogenmolly.co.uk

I've been following Natacha Océane on instagram and youtube for quite a while, but only recently made the jump to purchasing one of her workout programmes. WHY DID IT TAKE ME SO LONG? I'll remove any hint of suspense and tell you right now: I really loved this programme and am very much in favour of it. I will, however, be covering both the pros and the cons, this is a bias-free zone.

Natacha has several different workout programmes all with different aims, and Build.'s aim is to (surprise surprise) build muscle. It's a strength-building programme designed to help you progress in terms of performance rather than appearance, and that performance-focused element is what really appealed to me. My primary aim with exercise is to improve how I feel rather than how I look, which is very much second priority, although they do obviously go hand in hand.

Pros
1. Strength
I noticed a difference almost instantly with my strength on this programme. I've increased the weight I'm using across the board, on some exercises more than others, but looking back now at where I started, I'm not only surprised but proud of how far I've come. This certainly delivers on the promise of building muscle and increasing strength. There's a lot of variety in the types of strength training too, so while there is a bit of leg press and other weight machines, there's much more functional training. These are exercises that will be more relevant and useful in your everyday life, replicating movements you might actually encounter outside the gym. There are a lot of pull-up/chin-up progressions too and I have noticed SUCH A DIFFERENCE in those skills. All about that mind-muscle connection.

2. Ease of use
The workout plan is run through the Aflete app which lets you you time your workouts, track and record what weights you use (and how these progress over time), tick off sets of exercises as you go through each workout, and log your rest days. The user experience is great, and I really appreciate not having to think about what I'm doing in the gym - gone are the days of scraps of paper with workouts scribbled down (probably a lot less efficient in terms of actual activity as well), and now I follow a pre-determined plan and it couldn't be simpler. Each workout takes me between half an hour and 45 minutes, so it's not a lot out of my day and I do find I feel very awake and energised afterwards (even if I do feel completely knackered for a little bit first...).

3. Cost
While some workout plans are done on a subscription basis, this one is a 'pay once, keep it forever' affair. At the time of writing, this guide costs £41.99 but I bought it during a sale when it was 20% off, so paid £33.59. When spread out over the 12 weeks, the full-price cost comes to £3.49 per week or 70p per workout. If you complete it more than once, the cost per use is even lower. Personally, I would absolutely say it's worth the money but appreciate this isn't the case for everyone.

4. Structure
Each week comprises five workouts, all focusing on a different area, and two rest days. I run my weeks Tuesday to Tuesday, so my rest days fall on Mondays and Fridays and I do a vinyasa yoga class on one of those for a good stretch, and chill out completely on the other. The workouts are all entirely different (with some specific exercises included in multiple workouts) and come under: strength, upper body functional and muscle building, lower body functional and muscle building, full body 'athletic power' (quite plyometric-heavy), and full body functional and muscle building.

5. Appearance
I read once that it takes four weeks for you to see a difference in yourself, eight weeks for the people close to you, and 12 weeks for everyone else. Therefore, although it's not at the top of my priorities list, it almost goes without saying that after sticking to a regular workout plan for 12 weeks, I have seen a difference in my appearance. Not only do I feel stronger, I look stronger too. I also want to quickly myth-bust and say that YOU WILL NOT GET 'BULKY' from weight training unless that is your goal and you train unbelievably hard for a very long time and - crucially - seeeeeeriously up your calories long-term. I've been training pretty hard for some time and eat an astonishing amount, and I am definitely not bulky, so just bin that misconception right now. A quick search online will bust that myth with more science - this is a good place to start.

Cons
1. Equipment
You do need a gym membership for this one, and while most of the equipment required is quite standard, for a few exercises you might need to get creative. This has not been the case very often for me, as luckily my gym is absolutely enormous (I'm a member of The Gym Group whose gyms are cheap, cheerful, and HUMONGOUS so highly recommend). Recently though, a few bits and pieces of equipment have disappeared from my gym so I've had to be more imaginative with other ways to achieve the same (or similar) result. If you don't want to have to go to a gym, Natacha has a guide called Home. which is for exactly that - home workouts.

2. Cost
While the programme itself is relatively inexpensive, particularly when compared to other, similar options, the fact that you need a gym membership as well does mean it may not be affordable for everyone. If you have a gym membership anyway, the difference is very little but if not then it's more of a consideration.

3. Plyometrics
This probably isn't the best training guide for someone with knee issues as there is a lot of plyometric work (jumping, essentially). I believe Natacha has worked this into a couple of her other guides, including lower-impact exercises specifically to address this.

In a nutshell
This is for you if you are interested in buzzwords like 'toned' (guess what it doesn't mean anything), if you want to build muscle, or if you have specific performance goals in mind. It's also for you if you already have a gym membership. It might not be for you if you have any knee sensitivities or if you don't have or want a gym membership. Overall, yes, I recommend this, go for it. 10/10, will do again!

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