To anyone that has read some of my articles, you are probably aware that I do in fact lift and eat in the same manner that many of you aim to. I write many articles about training, nutrition and supplements, but how do you know that I practice what I preach? What use is my advice if I don’t even take it myself?
To prove that I could walk the walk I decided to do a 7 week extreme body transformation. I logged all of my training, diet and supplements on my journey to achieve the best possible physique in the shortest possible time frame.
In the next 3 articles here on fitmag I will discuss and reveal my methods to achieve this transformation in the categories of training, nutrition and supplementation.
This article is going to be discussing my training methods used to achieve my transformation.
First though let me show you what I achieved over the 7 weeks.
As you can see I gained some muscle whilst simultaneously dropping a substantial amount of body fat. I dropped a total of 8kg but my body fat dropped by over 10%, meaning that I gained muscle whilst dropping fat. My strength also increased and I got new PB lifts throughout the course of the 7 weeks.
So here are my top 3 tips for training for a transformation like mine.
- Do weights, NOT CARDIO!!
Cardio has its place in training, there is no denying that. It is great for improving the heart, lungs and aerobic energy systems. It is also useful for burning calories and dropping fat. It is, however, nowhere near as effective as high intensity weight training for quickly dropping fat whilst simultaneously building muscle. I used cardio during my 7 week plan but only very small amounts and incredibly low intensity.
My method of training is to progressively increase the volume of weight lifted over the course of the plan. As the volume and weight increases week on week you will increase the stress put on the muscle, thereby forcing muscular adaptation and growth, whilst simultaneously increasing the number of calories burnt in each session. If you combine this with an intelligent diet then you will burn fat and build muscle.
My training programme progressed from doing somewhere in the region of 200 reps per workout with zero cardio in the first week, right up to 500 reps per workout with only an additional 30 minutes slow walking per day in the final weeks.
The cardio that I performed was 20-30 minutes slow uphill walking first thing in a morning and sometimes 15 minutes post workout on the exercise bike. I never went higher than 120BPM heart rate.
- Use heavy weights
When people decide to go on a cut they instantly think they have to do higher reps. More reps burns more calories right? Not necessarily. Although I do agree that more volume will burn more calories and lead to fat loss, if you want to retain muscle you have to do the right kind of volume. This means combining heavy static strength movements, lighter explosive exercises and low weight high rep exercises. It’s the combination of these 3 that I believe to be the key to success in training for a transformation.
Throughout my transformation I still squatted heavy (some days I would do sets as low as 3 reps), I still did sets of 3 reps or even 1 rep on bench press and I went for new 1 rep maxes quite regularly. The clever thing is that I would combine these heavy, low rep exercises with higher rep exercises. So if I were to go for a 3 rep max bench press, I would immediately go into a set of 15 flat flyes, followed by 20 clap press ups. This will recruit more maximum load motor neurons, release more testosterone and growth hormone and burn far more calories than just simply doing high rep bench press.
I am not saying don’t do high reps on the big lifts as I still did many sets of 20 rep squats etc, but make sure that you are including heavy lifting in your total volume for the workout.
- Use these 3 advanced training techniques
- Giant sets
- Super sets
- Drop sets
I cannot stress enough how often I use these 3 methods of training. When you have only 60-90 minutes to train and you have over 500 reps to fit into that workout you simply cannot do the usual 3 sets of 10 reps per exercise. You would be doing 15-20 exercises per body part. It is physically impossible. You need to use training methods that allow you to use heavy weights as stated in point 2, but still complete the high volume required in the workout. This is the reason I use these 3 methods.
Giant sets – These are basically like super sets but you can use as many exercises as you want with any rep range, done back to back. They are all focused on the same muscle to take it so far beyond the point of muscular fatigue that it becomes impossible to even tense the muscle. I personally love doing Giant sets on legs. Let me give you an example of a giant leg set:
Squats – 6 reps
Walking lunges to leg extension machine
Leg extensions x 20
Weighted broad back to squat rack
Front squat x 20
At the end of this set you would be absolutely destroyed. As long as you used maximum weight. Depending on how far away the machines are in your gym, you should perform up to 70 reps in that set. Perform this 3 times and you are well on your way to hitting your daily volume target.
Super sets – These are a great way of combining a heavy exercise with a higher rep exercise. For example you could take part of the above giant set. On legs I personally like jumping straight from heavy stiff leg deadlift to leg extensions with high reps. If you perform this with no rest in between you can really get the blood going, calories burning and a great hormone response. An idea would be
SLDL x 6
Leg extensions x 30
SLDL x 6
Leg extensions x 20
SLDL x 6
Leg extensions x 10
SLDL x 6
All using the same weight to save time. Alternatively super setting is useful if you are training antagonistic pairs. For example if you have arms to train then you can do the entire workout in a fraction of the time by super setting every exercise. Rather than doing 3 sets of 10 bicep curls, then 3 sets of 10 cable pushdowns, why not super set the 2 and cut out all resting times. Whilst your biceps are working, your triceps get to rest, and vice versa. This method is extremely effective for chest and back training.
Drop sets – I use these on nearly every exercise I do to take the muscle past the point of failure. To recruit every motor neuron and hit every muscle fibre you need to use heavy weights and take the muscle past failure. In order to do this safely you can use drop sets. You can drop the weight as many times as you want in each set but usually I wont drop it more than 3 times. An example of how I use it would be on bench press. In the final week of my cut I used a triple drop on bench and these are the weights and reps I did:
130kg x 3
100kg x 6
60kg x 15
so I did a set where I used 130kg (which is heavy for me), yet I still performed over 20 reps in total for the set.
So these are my training techniques that I used to achieve my transformation.
If anyone would like a full breakdown of the training, nutrition and supplement plan for my transformation, or would like a customized plan writing for them to achieve the same results simply e-mail me on firstname.lastname@example.org for a consultation.