My Current Training Program

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about the type of training I have been doing since Phoenix was born and how it compares to other training programs I’ve done in the past.  So for Post #24 in my 30 Days of Blogging Challenge I’m going to talk about the training I’ve been doing with Inov8 Elite Performance.
Blogging ChallengeI can’t really remember how I originally found out about Inov8.  I think it was because someone I follow on Instagram gave a shoutout to someone else who mentioned Inov8 in one of their posts.  Anyways…I ended up hearing about Matt Jansen (@MattJansen8 on Instagram) through social media.  He is an online strength and conditioning coach who just recently started his own company called Inov8 Elite Performance.

Matt Jansen and his wife Jordan, co-owners of Inov8 Elite Performance
Matt Jansen and his wife Jordan, co-owners of Inov8 Elite Performance

I quietly followed him for quite a while on Instagram, and then about a month after Phoenix was born, I had a lot of weight to lose still (around 45 lbs) I reached out to him.  In my initial email (sent in April 2013) I explained my situation, that I loved the physiques of a lot of the girls he trained, but that I just had a baby and had gained a lot of weight, my time in the gym would be limited and sometimes sporadic, I would want to limit supplements due to breastfeeding, that I wasn’t really interested in competing but wanted to train like a competitor, etc.  I was really impressed when I got an email back from Matt saying it would probably be best if we talked on the phone since I had so many specific and unique circumstances.  Matt gave me a call the next day and we talked on the phone for about 20 minutes, he explained that each program he writes is unique to each client, and that we could certainly work with the constraints I had.

I talked with my husband later that night, and we decided that right then probably wasn’t the best time to start a structured, paid program.  Phoenix was only 5 weeks old (I didn’t get the clearance to workout until six weeks postpartum) and her sleeping patterns were so inconsistent still, plus we had a busy summer with our trip to Hawaii with Scentsy, trip to Idaho to visit family, trip to Indianapolis for Scentsy Convention, and then moving to Texas (plus later my husband had his big lawnmower accident where he sliced off the back end of his foot, you can read about here).  I reached out to Matt and told him that I wanted to hold off until August to get started with him, that way the baby would be older (sleeping better, could leave her for longer stretches), we would be moved into our new house, and it would give me a few months to focus on losing some weight before starting with him.

So…fast forward to August 1, 2013.  I had lost a decent amount of the baby weight on my own just by focusing on my nutrition and working out on my own (I was doing a lot of at-home Insanity style workouts when I couldn’t get to the gym), but I still had about 15 lbs to lose to get to my pre-pregnancy weight. I knew that I was going to be at the Olympia Expo with MRM at the end of September and felt like I needed some help with writing my workouts and structuring my nutrition.  Keep in mind, this was also in the middle of my husband’s accident and we were living in a hotel in Virginia until the doctor gave us clearance to travel back home to Texas (you can read more about that story here).  But, I kind of felt like having someone to hold me accountable would help me stay on track while we were living in that hotel (and it did).

When I started with Matt I was 165lbs (5’8″), and four months post partum.  For me, a comfortable weight is somewhere between 145-150, so I knew I had some work to do.  I filled out the paperwork, signed a 32-week commitment with them doing nutrition and training, and was excited to get started.  When you get started you work with your coach on your goals, talk about realistic amounts of time you can be in the gym, your current calorie/macro count, etc.  Matt used all that information to write up my training programs and nutrition booklets.

How it works is he writes 4-week programs at a time and each program has a specific goal or focus we are trying to work on.  He sends you an excel file with the workouts, and then gives you nutrition recommendations.  Inov8 follows ‘flexible dieting’ or ‘IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros)’ (click here to read about a blog post I did on IIFYM), so Matt gave me a certain number of fat/carb/protein requirements and I basically can split that up throughout the day however it works best for me.  He gives recommendations on meal timing, percentages to eat at each meal, pre/post workout suggestions, etc. but also says that the most important thing is just hitting your numbers daily and to structure your meal timing to work best for that.

I was pretty shocked at the results that I saw so quickly.  I think, for me, it was a little bit of a perfect storm that helped achieve good results, but I was still very pleasantly surprised with my body composition changes.  I was in really good shape before I got pregnant, so even though I gained a lot of weight when I was pregnant, I think some of the changes came from ‘muscle memory’ and I also had a really good understanding of eating clean, tracking my food, etc. so I didn’t have too much of a learning curve where I had to learn that.

In my first week training with Inov8 I lost 5lbs!  This was also the week that we drove from Virginia to Texas (my husband was sitting in the back seat of the truck next to the kids with his foot propped up the whole way).  Matt didn’t want me to keep loosing at the pace (didn’t want it to effect my metabolic capacity), so we slowly increased my carbs and fats each week, and I still continued to lose weight while eating more.  I also have one off-plan meal a week and one refeed day each week (a lot higher carbs that day).  Here are the changes I saw in my first three weeks with Inov8 (the picture on the left was actually after completing Week 1, the picture on the right was after completing Week 3).
Inov8 ReviewOne thing I really like about this training program is that you check in with your coach every week.  I respond really well to accountability so this works great for me.  My check-in day is Wednesday, so each Wednesday I shoot Matt an email.  One week I do a full bi-weekly review (how I’m feeling, hunger levels, roadbumps I’ve hit, questions about form, etc) and send in progress pictures, and then the other week I send in a weight chart (and any random questions I have).  Matt responds by letting me know what he wants me to focus on for that week, and makes changes to my calories/macros according to how I’m feeling, how my results are coming, etc.  I think one of Matt’s biggest strengths is his communication.  He always gets back really quickly and when he can’t get back quickly, will give me a time frame to expect a response.

So far, I have lost 20 lbs in the two months I’ve been working with Inov8 and am back at my pre-pregnancy size.  Here is a picture showing the progress I made from Day 1 to Day 50.  The clothes/lighting is a little different, but the first picture was taken when we were living in that hotel in Virginia.  Left is 165, right is 145 lbs.

7-week Progress working with Matt @ Inov8 Elite Performance
7-week Progress working with Matt @ Inov8 Elite Performance.

The workouts are all focused on weight training.  Matt gives me a specific tempo for each exercise, and I think that has helped a lot because I’ve never really focused on this before.  So for example, a tempo he might give for squats might look like this:
Squat: (4:0:2:1)
This means that the first number is the time in seconds during the eccentric phase, the second number is the time in seconds during the isometric phase, the third number is the time in seconds during the concentric phase and lastly the fourth and final number will be the rest prior to transition back to the eccentric portion of the movement.
So, basically, you are keeping the muscle contracted for a longer period of time.  I’ve found that I can’t lift quite as heavy when I have slower tempos, but that I have seen results quicker doing this.

So, Matt gives me a specific tempo for every exercise (different tempos for each exercise), a specific rest, and a specific number of reps.  Right now my workouts are either 2 days on/1 day off, or 4 days on/1 day off (I go based on how I am feeling and if I need an extra rest day) and the workouts take me 60-90 minutes.

The cardio I am doing is pretty minimal.  I do HIIT training 3x a week either sprints or on a spin bike after I lift.  I just do a 5 minute warmup, 4-5 20 second all-out sprints (on a hill if possible, or increased resistence if on a spin bike), 2:30 slow jog in between the sprints, and a 5 minute cooldown.  It’s about 21 minutes total.  Most days I actually do the sprints outside with my kids in our neighborhood.  My 4-yr old rides his bike and I push my 6 month old in the jogging stroller and just park her in the shade during the 20 second sprint park.

Overall, I am really happy with my decision to start training with Inov8.  I should probably mention just so you know there is no bias, that I’m not paid to write posts like this, in fact Inov8 doesn’t even know I’m writing it, and I pay for my training just like everyone else.  There are a few things about the program I want to mention in case you are considering training with them.

The coaches are all bodybuilders and majority of their clientelle are competing in some type of figure, bikini, or bodybuilding competition.  Although I have physique goals, I don’t have a desire to compete and so sometimes I feel like I don’t necessarily fit in with everyone else on the team because my goals are different.  Also, a lot of the posts they make are geared towards competitors, which is fine, but just different from my own goals.

Inov8 follows the flexible dieting or IIFYM approach which means that you are responsible for weighing out and tracking your food (if you choose to do your nutrition with them also).  I kind of have a love/hate relationship with tracking my food.  I always see great results when I do it, but I also feel like I can become obsessive with the numbers and it can get a little overwhelming sometimes.

I was originally planning on comparing my training with Inov8 to other programs I’ve done in the past, but this post ended up getting way too long.  I will save that part for tomorrow’s post.  If you are interested in talking with the coaching staff at Inov8 you can email them at:  They have 6-7 different coaches on the Inov8 staff who all follow similar coaching methods.  They have each put up YouTube videos talking about their specialty/approach to training and if you are thinking of working with Inov8 I would recommend watching the videos and seeing which coach you think you would mesh with best:

Other teammates also use the hashtags #inov8eliteperformance and #teaminov8 a lot on Instagram if you want to see some of the other athletes they are working with.

INOV8 Logo main blk

I hope that review was helpful!  I get asked almost daily what my workouts look like, why I decided to start working with Inov8, etc. so I hope this helped answer some questions.  Tomorrow I’ll do my post comparing this style of training to other programs I’ve done in the past.

Your friend,

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  • Thanks for sharing this, Natalie! Your results are amazing. I think this concept of having an online fitness/nutrition coach is really interesting.

    I have a random question that you may not know the answer to: how would running affect a training plan like this? I want to start lifting, but I don’t want to sacrifice my running (I run 60-80 miles per month).

  • Thanks for the overview of your program. I will be anxious to read tomorrow’s post. I am considering working with INOV8 because I think I have similar goals — contest prep without the contest. 🙂

  • I’ve thought of a few questions for you.
    -Are you tracking your sugars at all with IIFYM?
    -Does INOV8 help you out with recipes?
    -Are you getting most of your carbs from veggies?

    Ok, that it’s for now. 😉 Thanks! ~Alison

  • Hey Alison!
    -I don’t worry too much about sugars. Crazy, I know because I’ve always really focused on it in the past. Instead I just focus on grams of fat/carbs/protein and fiber (25g min).
    -Inov8 coaching staff doesn’t give any recipes but other teammates post recipes a lot on Instagram (check out @ellen_whitney, @leanna_carr, and @bkupniewski on Instagram they all have a bunch of really good ones). When I make recipes I just ‘build’ the recipe in MyFitnessPal so I know the accurate macros.
    -No, not necessarily. I can get my carbs from whichever sources I want as long as I stay within my daily allotment. Sometimes if I am extra hungry I will do a lot of veggies, but besides that Matt recommends nutrient dense sources i.e. rice, sweet potatoes, whole wheat pasta, oats, bread, etc, but at the end of the day it is more important to just stay within your carb range regardless of where they came from. Does that make sense?

    Hope that helps!

  • Hey Samantha!
    I feel for you here because I have been a long distance runner most of my life and some days I really miss it. From what I have experience, however, when you are doing a lot of cardio it is hard for your body to hold onto/build lean muscle mass. And, so you end up spinning your wheels by trying to build muscle in the gym and then burning the calories necessary to grow muscle when you run so much. Does that make sense? I have found that for me to get the nice toned look I am aiming for I have to cut down my cardio pretty drastically.

  • That does make sense, but it isn’t the answer I wanted to hear! Even though I saw it coming… sigh. I’ll have to find some kind of balance because I really do want to focus on gaining a lot of muscle after I graduate from Air Force BMT (two months till I leave). Thanks again!

  • Natalie,

    Thanks for this information. After a busy year I have been considering going back to a more structured training and nutrition program. I’ve done on line trainers before and it’s key to find someone you like and understands your goals. I will check out the videos!

  • Hey Natalie!

    I am also considering working with this great company! I have not done much research YET, but I had a question on your calorie intake…I know you are focused on macros, however they have set your macros to a ridiculously low calorie level have they? This is always a concern of mine that some trainers do for the “quick fix”….


  • Hey Nicole! Your calories will vary with each person depending on height, weight, past dieting history, goals, metabolic capacity, etc. But, the short answer is no they don’t cut calories very low. Mine around right around 2,000 calories a day and we have been increasing calories every week. Hope that helps!

  • Do they by any chance tell you what the heck isotonic eos metric blah blah blah is? Lol!! All that sounded like a foreign language to me and although I am still pregnant I am trying to see which plans will be cost effective and still work once I am able to work out and lose the weight/get fit again…. But I am entirely new at this whole thing and talking about macros, 4:0:2:1 or whatever makes no sense to me!! So I guess my question is do they explain all that in detail for a beginner? Also, I read in your previous posts about how you follow a 40/40/20 nutrition plan… Do you still do that with them? Or is that simply I maintain your physique and weight once you have lost you baby weight?


    A confused and slightly daunted reader catherine :-))

  • Natalie what are your current macros? I think I have seen you post them somewhere but can’t remember where. When you first started you mention that you gradually increased your calories? Was this to prevent weight gain or for some other reason? You have made excellent progress!!! Very inspiring!

  • hi, thinking about doing this myself, what was the price like

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I’m Natalie

Ten years ago I started out in the online world in the fitness space. I started blogging, sharing at-home exercises, and offering easy recipes. This turned into writing eBooks — one of which blew up in a way I could never imagine!

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