How To Maximise The #BigWillieChallenge

How To Maximise The #BigWillieChallenge

Finding the 'why' behind the 'why' will keep you steady on your fitness journey.

Akash Vaghela Akash Vaghela · May 17th, 2021

Mindset Beginner
17 Mins


    On May 2nd, Will Smith broke the Internet when he posted a picture of himself looking a little less than his normal self. In a flamboyant “belly out” pose with a pair of boxers, slippers and unzipped windbreaker, he captioned it:

    “This is the body that carried me through an entire pandemic and countless days grazing thru the pantry. I love this body, but I wanna FEEL better. No more midnight muffins… this is it! Imma get in the BEST SHAPE OF MY LIFE!!!!!”
    Off the back of this, he started something new: The #BigWillieChallenge. The rules are simple:
    • Post a picture of your body now
    • Take 12 weeks to get into the shape of your life
    • Post a picture of your body after
    The challenge has sparked a craze amongst a number of rappers, musicians and male celebrities in Will Smith’s circles, and it’s a fantastic message, incentive and movement to be pushing out there on such a wide platform.

    There’s probably thousands, if not millions, of people who may be on this challenge, so we thought we’d put together a guide on how to maximise the #BigWillieChallenge so you not only get into the shape of your life, but you set yourself up to stay there for life.

    Setting The Foundations

    If you’re compelled to join the challenge, it’s likely something in Will Smith’s post triggered you to take action. We all need a trigger to start something like this, and whether it pulled on a heartstring, gave you your own reality check, or made you feel uncomfortable, it’s done something to propel you forward.

    The first thing to note down at this point is what the ‘why’ is behind the trigger. Will Smith has said it’s to make him feel better. He hasn’t elaborated further, but the desire to feel better can come from a whole host of reasons. Whatever it is, write it down, and try to get to the root of it. A quick video to describe the process of getting to your ‘why behind your why’ can be found here:
    The next step is to identify what you want the best shape of your life to look like, otherwise known as your first checkpoint. This will depend on a number of factors including:
    • How “all in” you’re going to go
    • If you’ve successfully dieted before into shape
    • Where your current body fat levels are
    • How heavy you’ll be when lean
    We’re going to assume that you’re “all in” and willing to do what it takes, and that you’ve never successfully dieted (properly) before, which leaves us with two remaining variables.
    Whilst the #BigWillieChallenge is 12 weeks, it doesn’t mean everyone will reach their best shape in that timeframe.

    A good expectation and very achievable rate of fat loss to work towards is 1% of body weight a week. There’s only so much body fat that can be lost per week, but aiming for a minimum of 1% body weight loss a week allows you to manage expectations, ride the highs and lows, and take any extra as bonuses.

    The other part to consider is the benchmark of how much you actually have to lose. Most men, in particular, overestimate how much muscle mass they have and underestimate how much body fat they carry.

    The reality is stark, and the benchmarks that approximate for your bodyweight when lean and photoshoot level condition are as follows:
    This applies to the average person with average genetics and average training age (if in doubt, it’ll include you). We can count on one hand how many have broken this mould!
    Once you identify yourself above, the goal is to then use a “future back” approach by using the 1% bodyweight per week rule coupled with your target weight, and extrapolate your timeframe. The #BigWillieChallenge is 12 weeks; you will of course be in much better shape in 12 weeks, but we don’t want you to short circuit where you could be if you do need a little longer, and there is nothing wrong with that!

    Before we get into the nitty gritty, there are two more questions to ask yourself:
    • Who do I want to identify as in the long-term?
    • What do I do after my first checkpoint?
    The questions’ answers will intertwine together because they plant the seed for the long-term journey, so you can turn this challenge into a way of life. There’s nothing worse than getting into the shape of your life, only to rebound and lose it all. So understanding why you value long-term health and fitness, and what the plans are for after your checkpoint, is paramount to address now before diving deep into the journey.

    Your #BigWillieChallenge Transformation Checklist 

    It’s time for the nitty gritty. You’ve laid the foundations, now let’s get to work. Getting into shape is simple, not easy. There’s only five things you need to worry about:
    1. Eating in a calorie deficit everyday
    2. Training with progressive overload 3 to 4 days a week
    3. Walking 8-10,000 steps a day
    4. Sleeping 7-8 hours a night
    5. Drinking 3-4 litres of water daily
    These five non-negotiables form your transformation checklist, and are the daily and weekly commitments required to give you a strong foundation.

    To create a calorie deficit, the simplest way to calculate a starting number is to multiple your bodyweight in pounds by 10-12. The next step is to set your protein target, for which a good rule of thumb is 0.8-1g/lb.

    After calories and protein are set, the rest is based on your preference. A good way to set it up is to set your fat target at 0.4g/lb, and fill the remaining calories with carbohydrates.
    To make the calculations, remember:
    • 1g protein = 4 calories
    • 1g carbs = 4 calories
    • 1g fat = 9 calories
    Here’s an example breakdown for a 130lb female and 175lb male.
    Here’s an example of how you may set it up (just to help you visualise how it could look):

    The above template is only an example. As long as the principles are in place, the key focus should be on creating adherence to your transformation checklist in line with your 3Ss: your structure of your day, your strategy to navigate life, and your systems to get it all done.

    That means you can adjust the timings, the meal frequency, food sources (for vegan and vegetarian options) however you may like. At this stage, you want to harness the power of two key accelerators:
    • Limiting decision fatigue; whereby after taking the time to set your initial strategy up with your transformation checklist, you automate the routine and execution of it. That means not chasing too much variety in your meals, having a routine in your day, and ultimately, getting rid of all the menial decisions in your day that zap bandwidth.
    • Mastering your precursors in the day; this is the art of stacking positive habits on top of other habits, or ‘turning points’ in your day that make doing something new and different easier. For example, setting your gym clothes by your bed so when you wake up, you change into them, and so reduce the resistance of getting up to go to the gym.
    All of this initial work is designed to make adherence, and building the early consistent momentum, easier. Getting going is often the hardest bit, so by using these tricks to your advantage can help you see results faster, make positive strides, and start seeing the benefits in all areas of your life.

    With steps, sleep and hydration being self-explanatory, that leaves training, for which the two key principles to adhere to will be progressive overload (so you’re making some improvement over time) and perfect form (so you stay safe and target the right muscles). The exact programme and split is irrelevant at this point, and you’re better off focusing on mastering form and putting in the hard work.

    If you’ve been out of training for a while, or you’re new to it, a full body approach where we rotate between two different workouts across three days a week works fantastic. It allows you to learn technique fast, build strength, and prime for more work in the future.

    Here’s how you could set it up:
    To make sure you’re executing the exercises on the plan correctly, and for reference on over 200 movements, go to our exercise library here (all available on our YouTube too):

    Making Changes During The #BigWillieChallenge 

    It’s worth repeating: fat loss is simple, not easy. Which means that once you lay down your foundations, you don’t need to constantly be changing the game plan. If anything, that’ll slow you down, cause paralysis by analysis, and have you spinning your wheels.

    Making changes boils down to one question: Have you been adherent?

    If the answer is no, your only goal is to be adherent.

    If the answer is yes, then the answer is “it depends”.

    If you’ve been losing at least 1% body fat, then don’t change anything and keep on going.

    If you’ve stalled for 7-14 days, then you can make a change in either your calorie intake (by reducing) or calorie expenditure (by increasing).

    Here’s a flow chart to help you make the decision on a weekly basis:
    And there you have it – the best way to maximise getting into the shape of your life. Once you know why you’re doing this, what the target is, what the non-negotiables are, and how to make changes, all you need to do is be patient and put the work in until you reach the top of the mountain.

    But then what? Let’s discuss the all important Consolidation Phase!

    Mastering The Tip Of The Mountain During The #BigWillieChallenge 

    At some point during the pursuit of getting into the shape of your life, it’s going to get hard. You’re going to be eating low calories and doing a lot of activity, and entering uncharted territory with your physique. We call this The Grind, and it’s the period of three to four weeks where you are pushing harder than you’ve ever done before, well beyond your comfort zone.

    It’s the time where you’ll face a lot of muck, which will be the deep-rooted distress or struggles that caused your poor lifestyle choices in the first place. It’s the stuff that goes beyond the act of overeating, or bingeing on Netflix, or drinking too much alcohol. It’s looking at what’s below that, and why you needed those crutches in the first place. For many people, The Grind is the first time you may have experienced the muck in full force, because during this period you can’t rely on your old crutches if you want to get into the shape of your life. Your only choice is to confront the muck, accept it, and make peace with it. This can be truly life-changing if you follow up your introspection and insights with action later on, but it can be painstakingly hard if you’ve got a lot of it coming up.

    However, this isn’t the hardest bit. Planting your flag at the top of the mountain when you have a checkpoint in mind is actually easy in the context of what comes after. When you are driving hard on the #BigWillieChallenge, everything is about a singular focus on being in the shape of your life. Every day and week your body is improving, and you receive a fast feedback loop on the work you are putting in, which can be addictive and rewarding.

    Where things get tough is when you finish this challenge, and you need to figure out how to come back down from the top of the mountain. The route most people take is the fastest route home, where you effectively tumble your way down, and end up in worse shape, both physically and mentally, than when you started. The dreaded rebound.
    This is exactly what we want to avoid, and why we put in the work at the start about mapping out the future, understanding the deeper meaning of this journey, and planning what comes next.

    The best way to approach this is to slowly come out of the calorie deficit over a period of four to eight weeks. The well-executed Consolidation Phase, which allows you to maintain all the results you’ve gained so far, and puts you in a prime position to invest in the next phase of your journey and crystallise a real transformation.

    During this phase, the goal is to slowly add calories, and slowly reduce activity so you reach a point of equilibrium where you feel good, look good and perform well. The definition of being in shape for life.

    This is where you find the sweet spot so you never have to diet again, and your sole focus is on turning all the insights you gained from The Grind into a reality.

    If during The Grind you found out you were using crutches to make up for an unfulfilled job, maybe now is the time you quit and found something new. If you found out your reason for binge eating at night was because you lost connection with your spouse, maybe now is the time you have a deep conversation with them. If you found out the reason you punish your body is because of an unresolved childhood trauma, maybe now you can finally make peace with it and let go.

    This is all only possible if you master the tip of the mountain. You have to push yourself hard in The Grind, mark yourself in the best shape of your life, then conquer consolidation. If you can master this period of 8-12 weeks, you can do anything, and you can truly use the physical as the vehicle to do remarkable things in your life.

    If there’s one thing you take from this article, it’s this: plan for a Consolidation Phase after the #BigWillieChallenge, so you don’t ever have to go on a fat loss challenge again.

    Enjoy The Journey

    One of the best parts of this is that Will Smith is empowering people to take back control and break the cycle. To not use trainers, but to learn and engage in the process. To post up pictures on social media and do this in a community with one another.

    There’s few things as powerful to facilitate transformation than being part of a collective on the same drive as you. When you have a strong sense of 'why' you’re on this journey for yourself, the next best thing is to have a group of like-minded people you can share it with. The combination is what allows you to get into the shape of your life, for life.

    This drawing from James Norbury sums it all up.
    For all of you taking part in this challenge, best of luck! For Will Smith inspiring people to go on their own fitness journey, thank you: the physical is the vehicle!
    Akash VaghelaAkash Vaghela

    Akash Vaghela has spent 10+ years transforming bodies and lives around the world, and in May 2017, founded RNT Fitness to serve this purpose. His vision is to see a world transformed, where ambitious high performers experience the power of the physical as the vehicle to unlock their real potential. He’s the author of the Amazon best-selling book Transform Your Body Transform Your Life, which explains his unique and proven five-phase methodology, is host of the RNT Fitness Radio podcast, has been featured in the likes of Men’s Health and BBC, whilst regularly speaking across the world on all things transformation.

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