In my last article, A Program to Increase Your Bench Press and Deadlift (No Nonsense volume 17, number 2), I laid out a strength training program and diet to help you set some new PR’s (Personal Records) in the gym. If you followed it you are definitely stronger than you’ve ever been, but you may have picked up a little extra in the midsection if you weren’t strict with the types and amounts of food included in the diet. (I know I did.) That’s OK, at a certain point you have to gain weight, preferably all muscular, (but that is not always the case) if you want to get stronger and bust through your previous PR’s.
I set my new PR’s, but got too fat along the way. Now what? I set new goals to get rid of excess fat, get in better shape than I have ever been, and spend less time in the gym (infant twin girls and a 2 year old boy are a real handful and I want to be home as much as possible to help out). How on earth did I plan to do all that?
Abbreviated training was the answer. What is abbreviated training? Using basic compound movements as the basis of your training and focusing on only 2 or 3 exercises, 2-3 days per week; the old "less is really more" ideology.
The basic compound movements include but are not limited to Squat, Bench Press, Deadlift, Shoulder Press, and Hang Clean. Now what happens when you combine two of these into one exercise? You get what I call a Super Movement. A perfect example is the Clean and Push Press. By combining them into one huge exercise you’re working the entire body from head to toe. Every joint in your body is in action in that one lift. You’re also cutting down on your time in the gym by combining 2 exercises into 1. Same goes for including a shrug at the top of each rep on your Deadlifts. Full body workouts like this are not new. It is what most trainees start with and then get away from as they become "more advanced". I went back to the basics here and really benefited by the time savings. You don’t have to spend hours in the gym every day to get stronger and build more muscle while leaning out. Here’s how I did it.
I trained with weights just 2 days per week using the following training cycle that I found in the book, FIT, adapted from the club coaching manual of USA Weightlifting.
Using the Bench Press as an example, it works like this. If you can Bench Press 225lb for 5 reps (but not 6) that is your 5-rep max. Now, you’d take just 75% of 225, or about 170lbs on week one for your working sets. Your workout might be 135 x5; 155x5; and then 170 for 3 more sets of 5. It is supposed to be easy. On Week 2, you go up to 190lb (85% or your 5 rep max) for your working weights and so on.
- Deadlift w/ shrug at the top of each rep (Super Movement)
- Bench Press
I perform all exercises in succession, as a circuit. If you are not set up to do that, just rest long enough to change your weights for the next set.Saturday
- Squats – my goal for the year was 315 for 15; I did 4 sets of 5 adding weight up to 315 on the 5th set. I started with 5 reps and tried to add one rep each week until I hit 15.
- Hang Clean and Push Press
- Grip Work – I did one arm deadlifts with the Rolling Thunder (which works practically the entire body, but specifically, your grip and forearms, another Super Movement). If you don’t have this piece of equipment, try timed holds with a barbell or fat bar. Use enough weight that you reach failure at 30-60 seconds tops. Do this for 2-3 reps with a couple minutes rest in between. You can also try Fat-Gripz (www.fatgripz.com) or wrap a towel around the bar to create your own thick bar. Another great grip exercise is Farmer’s Walks (also a Super Movement).
Training just 2x per week was plenty. My strength continued to go up as my weight went down. For example, my starting max with 315 in the squat was about 8-10 reps, and by the end I did 15. I lost a lot of fat without sacrificing hardly any lean muscle. If you absolutely feel like you must do more, add a 3rd session with some auxiliary work like arms, calves, abs etc. or just begin with the next day in the program.
I can’t say that I didn’t do any cardio, but I can say I never did more than 20-30 minutes on my Sunday runs and most other days I wrapped it up in less than 15. Yep, 15 minutes tops just a few times per week. I predominately used High Intensity Interval Training. Sure, all types of cardio have their place, but I was determined to cut my workout time and HIIT gave me the best results in the least amount of time.
I did a combo of different cardio workouts including running (as that is something I would like to be better at), Tabata training (because it is super intense and takes about 5 min start to finish) and Kettlebell swings (which would normally be a strength training exercise, but served dual purpose as cardio for me). You can estimate at one calorie burned per swing and I did them HIIT style, but more on that later.
Sprint intervals on the treadmill after weights
Wednesday AM – optional
Kettlebell swings – Use a clock with a second hand or even better download a timer app on your phone, iPad, iPod etc. Each round is 1 minute. Begin with 10 swings, rest until the minute is up and start again. Do this for 10 sets. You’re done, just 10 minutes of cardio to start the day right. Progress each session by slowly increasing the reps per set or number of sets. The final goal is to do 20 sets of 20 reps in 20 minutes for 400 calories burned.
Sprint Intervals or Tabata Row (If you don’t have access to a rower, check out some of the Crossfit websites for a calisthenics Tabata workout.)
Medium Distance run (Fartlek for about 3 miles)
I started a running program because I set a goal to run a 10K this year. I began initially with the Couch to 5k Program that you can find online. I know 5k is only half way there but I figured if I could run 3 miles, 6 would be easy. Wrong. But I did finish my 10k race well under the time I had set as my goal. Mission accomplished.
After the race, I started back up with a variable program of sprint intervals (100, 200, and 400 meters) and Fartlek. Fartlek (translated as "speed play") is longer intervals of fast and slow running, but a lot more fun to say. I used a book, Jogging authored by William J Bowerman. You can pick up a copy at www.Amazon.com. The book itself uses distances easily measured on a track, but my program was adjusted by speed vs. amount of time to be able to use the treadmill on the interval days. On the long runs I went outside. To summarize, you have 2 days of sprint/walk intervals and one day of medium distance Fartlek training.
The diet program is a Beverly Method type diet. I continued to eat the same foods that I was eating on the strength program, but just not as much. Calorie intake was a little lower, but I didn’t go hungry. I ate 5-6 meals with 500-600 calories in each, for a total of 3000 each day. This plan allowed me to add ingredients like nut butters or fruit to my shakes, but made my food meals a little smaller than average.
Here is a sample day, but I changed it up often for variety. Just remember you are trying to stay within a certain calorie range at each meal.
3 whole eggs, ½ cup whites + ½ cup oatmeal and ¼ cup blueberries Or
2 scoops UMP, 1-2 scoop Provosyn + 1 piece of fruit or oatmeal
2 scoops UMP + 1 scoop Mass Maker or Provosyn + 1 pack of Barney Butter (this stuff is awesome, its individual single servings of almond butter which is probably more expensive but well worth it for convenience)
8-10 oz Beef, Turkey, or Chicken + 1 bag frozen veg and occasionally some rice or sweet potato (Most of the time this was just leftovers from the previous night’s dinner)
Pre-Training (Tuesday & Saturday only)
1 scoop Muscle Provider and 1 scoop Glutamine Select
Usually pretty similar to meal 3, I tried to stay away from a lot of carbs here so I could eat some fruit at bedtime and sometimes added a salad with Newman’s Light Balsamic
1 ½ cups cottage cheese and ½ cup pineapple Or
2 scoops UMP cookies and creéme and a banana, apple or orange (dependent on calorie intake for the day, I used Provosyn in my UMP here a lot).
I progressively took in fewer calories as my weight dropped. You can cut the portion sizes, omit a scoop of protein or cut the fruits or fats to lower your calorie intake.
|Lean Beef, chicken, turkey or fish||Oatmeal|
Peanut or Almond butter
|Eggs or whites|
Potato (sweet, red or white) Rice
|UMP, MP, Provosyn or Mass Maker|
Fruit (apples, oranges, pears, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, etc.)
Newman’s Own (or other) Oil and Vinegar or Balsamic
|CarbMaster (or low carb) yogurt|
Ezekiel cereal or bread
Fats naturally present in protein
*All veggies can count as free foods, if you steam and don’t use a fat source on them – eat as much broccoli, asparagus, spinach and salad as you like.
You don’t have to completely cut out foods you love, or eat something completely different from your family. My 2 year old loves pasta (he calls it "noodles"), so we eat it fairly regularly and justify it by saying it is because he likes it. Just exercise portion control. Eat ½-1 cup as a side item to your lean protein. Don’t go overboard on sauces and go easy on the cheese. I also eat sweet potato fries, mac and cheese and tater tots!! Just be mindful of what amount one serving is, and how many calories are in that serving. Then eat just that amount. I won’t think you’re crazy if you count out exactly 13 sweet potato fries or measure ¼ cup of mac and cheese.
|3 Quadracarn 3x per day|
|1 scoop Creatine Select daily|
|1 Super Pak Daily|
|1 Ultra C with my last meal of the day|
|3 EFA Gold with meal 1 and 5|
|3 Joint Care|
|3 scoops Glutamine Select during training|
|UMP, Mass Maker, Provosyn and MP as noted in my diet plan.|
*Anytime I hit a plateau on the scale for more than a week, I added Lean Out and 7-Keto for 2 weeks:
2 Lean Out with each meal
3 7 Keto 2x per day
- Perfect your form. If you are new to the Hang Clean and Push Press, or any of the lifts you attempt, take some time to master it. A book like Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe is a good investment. Not only to help with form, but you can get some ideas for your next weight training program too.
- I did not have a specific time frame. I just knew that I was getting better each week and it kept me going forward.
- If you fall off the wagon, just get back on at the next meal or workout. One slip isn’t going to undo what you’ve accomplished, but a series of them sure will.
- If you are not down with Pandora radio, get down. This free app is awesome. Just type in what you like and Pandora streams music to you free of charge. I have different stations, Metal, Rap, Hits of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s for different moods. You can also give a thumbs up or down to a song and Pandora remembers you like (or don’t like) it. It’s your own personal radio station!
My average weight loss on this program was about 1.5lbs per week. To date,- I have lost over 35lbs of fat and kept my strength within about 5% of where I was at my heaviest.
In closing, you can do exactly what I did, or take an idea I’ve written about here to make your own program. Take the time to set your specific goals and the exact way you plan to achieve them. This is your sure fire recipe for success.