GAMMA is my favorite part of the FOCUS T25 training system. Take a look with me, Beachbody’s resident fitness geek, as we peer under the hood at what makes the third phase of FOCUS T25 tick, and why you should make it a part of your fitness arsenal.
What Is GAMMA?
The concept is simple. It’s four additional 25-minute Shaun T workouts, designed to be done after the BETA phase of FOCUS T25. These workouts are more strength training–oriented than the first two rounds, called ALPHA and BETA. While weights are used, these are about as different from your standard notion of what weight training is as they could be, since they’re used to accentuate speed, explosiveness, and getting ripped rather than adding bulk.
If you’ve done ALPHA and BETA, you’ve seen this in action. Some of the BETA workouts require weights as a way to add intensity. GAMMA takes this a step further, using more weight and more speed with Rip’t Up, Extreme Circuit, and The Pyramid, which all use weights. Speed 3.0 adds, you guessed it, more speed.
If you don’t know FOCUS T25 at all, it’s a two-month, high-intensity training program that uses some very modern techniques to change your body quickly. In the ALPHA phase, you do various forms of interval training, featuring both strength and cardio-style movements, without any added gear or weights. The goal is to maximize the way your body responds to vigorous training in the first half hour of exercise, which numerous studies show can be a veritable magic window for results.
In the BETA phase, you progress to harder movements (like plyometrics) that feature more explosiveness and more resistance. This is accomplished by adding weights in some of the workouts.
Should You Do GAMMA?
Even if you haven’t done FOCUS T25 ALPHA or BETA, you might still be a GAMMA candidate. GAMMA is what Beachbody® refers to as a graduate program. Like P90X, P90X2, P90X3, INSANITY, and INSANITY: THE ASYLUM, it’s been designed for people with a fitness base.
You can get that base without doing the other FOCUS T25 workouts. For example, I’ve done all of the above programs, and GAMMA is my go-to workout in the FOCUS T25 line.
It’s also worth noting that GAMMA comes with two 30-day training phase calendars, so you can pick the one that best suits your fitness levels and/or goals. This additional schedule also offers a fourth level of difficulty to the program.
The schedule that features workouts from ALPHA and BETA, as well as GAMMA, is the most well-rounded routine. It’s the one suggested for most people to begin with.
The GAMMA-only schedule is a little more extreme because you’re training your body similarly every day. It’s like a boot camp for those who already possess a strong fitness base and want to hammer it into shape ASAP.
Why Do You Need GAMMA?
There is a training law, called progressive overload, that states you must continue to overload the system you are training as it gets fitter in order to continually achieve results. FOCUS T25 is all based around time. That means, if you want the length of time you spend exercising to remain consistent, you must continually add intensity during that time to keep your body adapting.
The specificity of adaptation is another textbook term. The CliffsNotes definition is that your body gets fitter as it adapts to outside stimulus. Once it gets used to something (or has adapted), fitness gains decrease and/or stop. This is why you often hear that you shouldn’t exercise the same way all the time.
You don’t necessarily need new workouts in order to adapt. Jumping higher, moving faster, and adding more weight provides overload and will cause your body to keep adapting. For this reason, as long as you are continuing to get better at a workout, your body is still benefiting from it. When you stop improving, you’ve hit a training plateau.
While most of you can improve at FOCUS T25’s ALPHA and BETA workouts longer than one round of the program, all of you will hit a point where you can’t get any better. At this point, you will need additional overload in order to make continued progress.
However, training until you’ve completely mastered a workout isn’t the most efficient way to improve (or make gains). For one, it will probably get boring for you. More importantly, there’s another element of benefit to doing new workouts: neuromuscular adaptation.
Learning new moves has benefits beyond improved coordination. Forcing your body to change its neuromuscular patterns causes your body to produce performance-enhancing hormones. This is how your metabolic processes change, and that leads to improvements in athletic body composition. In other words, this makes you look better.
Also, mastering changes leads to feeling accomplished, and fun can be an important part of fitness. Adaptations don’t just happen when you stress your body. There’s also a physiologic change that happens when you’re happy. Taking on—and overcoming—new obstacles has an added value of further hormone production. Even if you are the type who loves doing the same thing all the time, and change makes you grumpy, overcoming change always trumps it in the end.
FOCUS T25 GAMMA adds more weight, more speed, and more fun to your training program. All in all, a perfect storm for continued success.