This is Part 2 in a series on “How To Build Your Dream Body”.
This post is going to analyze the second variable in the Dream Body Equation: Heavy Resistance Training – more specifically, what to do and what NOT to do.
The first part took a close look at what a Slight Caloric Deficit truly means and how to calculate one.
The last part is making sure you’re Consistent Over Time.
Do you have the first variable mastered?
I mean mastered. Not sort of. Not maybe. Mastered.
It’s a tough pill to swallow. It really is.
A slight caloric deficit is NOT EASY to maintain. Every lick, bite, and taste you indulge in that isn’t in your macros eats away at that deficit.
If you don’t eat SPOT ON what’s on your plan, your estimated weight loss won’t occur.
And it’s one of the toughest things I try to relate to my clients.
I have the feeling I have some clients who see the pictures of my meals and think this is some easy way out.
Like it’s some “EAT CRAPLOADS OF BACON AND STILL GET RIPPED!” diet plan.
Sorry. It’s not.
Every macro is accounted for. Every calorie calculated.
Sure, I might eat 12 strips of bacon and an 18-pack of eggs for lunch…………but what you don’t see is me eat some cottage cheese and broccoli for dinner – and then that’s all I eat for the entire day.
Maybe I should put a disclaimer out there.
But now you know that, and now you’ve calculated your slight caloric deficit. And it’s time to look a little bit more closely at that Dream Body Equation.
Slight Caloric Deficit
Heavy Resistance Training
Consistency Over Time
Your Dream Body
Alright, the slight caloric deficit was the hard part. The most difficult part.
The part where discipline must be shown and maintained. And easily the most important part.
Now, let’s take a look at the next part of our equation:
Variable #2: Heavy Resistance Training
First off, let’s state the obvious: Once you’ve mastered creating and maintaining a slight caloric deficit, you are eating less calories than your body needs to maintain homeostasis.
When that happens, one of two things occurs: Your body either gets its fuel from the fat stores on your body or the muscle stores on your body.
Fat will be tapped into first. For everyone.
But there’s a theoretical limit as to how much fat can be tapped into, daily, before muscle begins to be lost. The more fat on your body, the more fat you can lose until muscle is lost.
The leaner you are, the less fat you can lose. This is why contest bodybuilders only create a caloric deficit of only around a half pound of fat in the weeks leading up to a show. Any bigger than that and they will lose their hard earned muscle.
So, you’ve decided to create your caloric deficit.
And you’re losing weight.
And you want to be sure to preserve your muscle. Muscle loss = bad. I don’t care who you are – man or woman, young or old, muscle loss is terrible.
Gradually losing the muscle we have is one of the true pitfalls of getting older.
Personally, I’d much rather sacrifice in the gym today than break a hip in 40 years……..
But hey, that’s just me.
So, what should we do? What does “Heavy Resistance Training” mean? How do we go about creating a solid, workable plan?
Here’s some crucial, integral elements which should be in every person’s lifting plan……………
1. Lift 3 Days Per Week Only, For One Hour, Max.
It’s simply not necessary, especially when trying to lose weight, to work out more than 3 days per week.
In fact, in many cases, training with any higher frequency than this could actually HARM progress in the gym……You’re already in a caloric deficit, and your body needs to recover.
Optimally, this would look like a Train-Rest-Train-Rest-Train-Rest-Rest format for your week.
Think the standard M/W/F training schedule with off days on T/Th/Sa/Su.
And on the rest days, guess what? YOU REST! Don’t jump on the elliptical, don’t go for a run, don’t go do circuit training……..
I see people every day who are just killing themselves in the gym. Their workouts look TORTUROUS.
Gasping for air, running to the garbage cans, lying down on the floor, etc. Total drama. And guess what?
They never look any different. They might lose 10 pounds here or 15 pounds there.
But they never get any stronger, they never build their bodies up, and they aren’t resting like they should.
Your body composition, male or female, is not a product of how much you sweat, or how many times you vomit, or how sore you are the next day.
Primarily, it’s a result of how many pounds you push.
And you make the most progress, initially, by lifting hard every other day and getting good, solid rest.
2. Choose 2 or 3 Compound, Barbell (Or Bodyweight) Movements Per Session.
If you’re a true beginner, I highly recommend focusing only on the Big 3: Deadlift, Bench Press, and Squat.
Make each workout consist of those 3 only and spend all of your time trying to add more weight to the bar.
Once you progress a bit, and you can no longer make 5-pound jumps per session, feel free to move into a split if you wish.
What’s a split? Think “exercises that hit each body part”.
Acceptable barbell/bodyweight back exercises: deadlifts (normal or sumo), rack pulls, pull-ups, chin-ups, rows (all variations – seated, bent over, t-bar).
Acceptable barbell/bodyweight chest exercises: bench press, incline bench press, decline bench press, push-ups, overhead press.
Acceptable barbell/bodyweight leg exercises: squat (back or front), romanian deadlifts, stiff-legged deadlifts, hip thrusters, hack squats.
Most of my clients have a back day, a chest day, and a leg day. Pick 2 or 3 of the exercises per day.
These are the main exercises you will worry about. Do everything in your power to increase your strength at these exercises.
They will form the foundation of any successful, results-oriented strength program.
A compound exercise uses 2 joints and generally taxes the entire body. (Example: Bench press uses the shoulders and elbows – two joints. A bicep curl uses only one joint – the elbow, therefore it is NOT compound movement.)
For each of those compound movements, pick a number of reps to aim for.
Put some weight on the bar.
Do a set.
If you hit that many reps, go up 5 pounds the next week.
If you don’t get your reps, try to get more the week that follows.
It’s as simple as that. Just be sure to keep records of your sessions so you can track your progress both short-term and long-term.
3. If You Are Not A Beginner, You MAY Choose 2 or 3 “Accessory” or “Isolation” Exercises Per Session.
But in all honesty, it’s not totally necessary in a cut.
If you’re hitting those 2-3 compound movements as hard as you can, there’s no real need for any extra, isolation-type exercises.
Wanna get a bigger back? You deadlifted and rowed.
Wanna get a bigger chest? You bench pressed and did pushups.
Wanna get bigger biceps? You did pull-ups or chin-ups.
Wanna get bigger triceps? You did overhead shoulder presses.
See what I mean? Your muscles have been taxed. No need to tax them further.
But, of course, we all want to do more. Many clients voice their concern over “not doing enough” in the gym. Keep in mind this fact:
YOU ARE NOT IN THE GYM TO BURN CALORIES.
YOU ARE IN THE GYM TO GET STRONGER.
Your deficit has been created. Use your diet to lose weight.
Use the gym to get stronger. And “doing more” doesn’t mean you are stronger.
Acceptable isolation or accessory movements: bicep curls (dumbbell, barbell, or curl bar), tricep extensions (any variety), calf raises, shrugs, hamstring curls, leg extensions, butterfly presses (dumbbell or cable).
Pick 2 or 3, max, if you wish. But again, they’re not really necessary. And the general rule is this: If you begin to get weaker on your main, compound lifts, ELIMINATE your accessories, one by one.
If your caloric deficit is created intelligently, you should lose little to no strength while in a cut.
4. Have one “Max Set” Per Week Per Exercise – But Only ONE!
Training to failure is an excellent tool to build size and strength. But it’s so poorly utilized in most commercial gyms.
You ever see two “bros” with like five ten-pound weights on each side of a barbell?
One of them starts lifting and does as many reps as possible, then racks the weight, the spotter rips one of the tens off, and the lifter resumes?
This little pattern takes the lifter all the way to just the bar until the lifter is so taxed and tired they can barely bench the 45-pound barbell.
Come on, you’ve witnessed this, right?
Confession: I have done this before. Many times, in fact. Back when I was spinning my wheels for 7 straight years……….
And guess what? It never made me stronger.
It did make me tired.
And it gave me a great “pump”.
And guess what that means?
All those “drop sets” and multiple sets taken to failure and it never made me anywhere close to as strong as I have gotten by cutting back on my sets to failure and stopped doing dumbass things in the weight room.
Some examples of dumb things if in a caloric deficit
and trying to increase strength:
more than 3 sets per exercise,
very short rest periods,
and more than 1 set per exercise taken to failure.
Each exercise you have selected should get one “Max Effort” set. One only.
It should be taken all the way to failure. Ideally, it’s the first set you do after your warm-up, when you’re at your freshest.
This means get a spotter for chest exercises and be sure to set the safety racks for your squats. To failure. If you complete a rep, you MUST attempt another one.
That’s some scary shit right there. Especially on squats.
But it’s all good – your workout will be done in less than an hour and you can rest tomorrow anyways…..
5. Rest For A Minimum Of 4 Minutes Between Each Set.
And that’s a MINIMUM, too. Want to rest longer? Go for it. When in a cut, I generally rest a minimum of 6 minutes.
Take that time to breathe deeply, relax, rejuvenate, get a drink, go on a walk, listen to some music, reload the bar, hit on the receptionist, etc. But make sure you rest.
All of that “one-minute rest” stuff? It doesn’t make you stronger. It might make you in better cardiovascular shape…………..but we can accomplish that through losing the fat.
It always makes me smile to see people just dying and sweating and struggling and straining……………and not getting any stronger or leaner over time.
Relax a bit. Get yourself mentally ready for the next set.
Remember: You have one goal – To push more weight. And longer rest periods make that more easily attainable.
6. If Barbells Are Available, Stay Away From The Smith Machine, For The Love Of God.
Some of you might “workout” at Planet Fitness.
I’ve been told they don’t have actual barbells and squat racks out of fear that someone might build some muscle.
Notice I put “workout” in quotes. If you want to build Your Dream Body, you need to “train”. Not “workout”.
Training means hitting the gym with very specific goals in mind. Workout means to go “get a good sweat”. Most people at Planet Fitness simply “workout”. So they can post their adventure on social media.
So, if the Smith Machine is all you’ve got………well……………..find another gym.
Okay, just kidding, that might not be possible. Use the dumbbells until you max those out.
Then use the other machines.
Seriously, use that Smith Machine as a last resort. It can wreak havoc on your joints. It’s bad news. Seriously bad news. Steer clear.
As the fitness folks out there like to say,
“The only good use for a Smith Machine
is to melt it down and
make two proper squat racks.”
Truer words have never been spoken.
So, there you have it. Some thoughts and ideas on how to create a good, solid heavy resistance training program.
Follow those guidelines and you’re bound to get stronger – quickly.
Your workouts should be intense, heavy, and brief.
And when you’re done doing what you’ve created – Get out of the gym. Now!
Stay tuned for the Analysis of Variable #3 in the Dream Body Equation: Consistency Over Time.
If you found this article useful, feel free to “like” it and “share” it, “follow” me and “re-tweet” it, or simply tell your friends about it.
And as always, if you would like a personal, customized, optimal plan for you to reach your goals in a timely manner, follow this link………..it’s what I do!