The dreaded idea of losing any ounce of muscle while training for fat loss can make me cringe.
All year you’ve put in the work.
Hit the gym hard consistently, never missed a meal and you are happy with the outcome.
You’ve put on pretty nice size and are ready to get your body fat down to single digits.
Now here comes the nightmare… After a few months of “cutting” you are noticeably getting weaker and losing muscle!
WHAT THE FUCK?!?!
How can this be happening?!?!
You wanted to get ripped, not emaciated and weak as piss!
The truth is, this happens way too often but it can certainly be avoided and I’m here to show you how!
My intent is to provide you the information needed to maintain that hard earned muscle and strength while getting your body fat down to the bone! Simply follow these guidelines and you will be on your way to a strong, lean, ripped physique that can help enable you to smash all the cheeks you hope for this summer!
So, pay attention!
Rule # 1: Do NOT completely cut out carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are essential for muscle recovery. If you cut them out completely, you will lose strength and muscle. If you keep them too low, you will lose strength and muscle. But of course you need to monitor and control your carbohydrate consumption if your goal is to lose fat, and you also have to understand that the quality of nutrients that you put into your body will have a direct impact on your physique and performance.
With that said, I prefer cycling my carbohydrates during a fat loss phase, where for 3 days I keep my carbohydrates low, and every fourth day I cycle in a higher carbohydrate day. The high carb day is critical for helping maintain strength and muscle.
But please consider where the carbs are coming from. Are they earth grown? Like potatoes, rice and fruit? Or are they processed, man-made crap?
You obviously don’t want to base your carb intake on the latter if getting lean is your goal. Keep the carbs in, but monitor them wisely.
Rule # 2: Always train to get bigger and stronger
They gym is a place to get big and strong. Your diet will dictate how much fat you lose.
With that said, whenever people begin a fat loss phase they tend to do way more volume, meaning a lot more sets, a lot more reps. In addition, supersets, drop sets and pump sets become the staples in their programming.
For the natural lifter, that can destroy the hard earned strength and muscle you recently gained.
That’s not to say that some of that stuff doesn’t have its place. It does. Sometimes.
But you should focus on trying to improve or at least maintain your strength during a fat loss phase. For advanced lifters it gets tough to get your numbers up every week while cutting your calories back. So don’t get discouraged. Simply keep your reps somewhere between 3-6 reps on your big lifts, with some back off sets from time to time.
For the accessory stuff you can work in the rep ranges of 8-12.
Following those guidelines will ensure that you stay strong and maintain the size you packed on over the winter months.
Rule # 3: Kick steady state cardio to the curb
Hours spent on a treadmill, recumbent bike or elliptical bore me to death. Not only are they boring, they can actually cause you to lose muscle by producing high amounts of the stress hormone, cortisol. Which is detrimental to muscle tissue.
Sure, you can get lean doing steady state cardio, but unless you are a physique competitor why sacrifice losing strength, speed and muscle?
They key is to condition using different sprint intervals and body weight circuits. Not only will training this way get you lean, but you will actually benefit from developing your conditioning.
Here are 2 quick examples…
Example # 1: After a thorough warm-up, sprint 100 yards on a track, then jog or walk the corners, then sprint the next 100 yards and jog the corner. Repeat.
Your current conditioning level will dictate the distance you go for the first time. It may be ½ mile, it may be 2 miles. It doesn’t matter, just try it. I guarantee you will see a huge difference between that and walking on a treadmill.
Example # 2: After a warm-up
150 turns on a jump rope
20 mountain climbers
Going through all of these exercises without stopping completes 1 round. Complete 3-5 rounds the first time through and time how long it took you to do so. Next time try to beat your time.
This will keep things interesting and most of all, fun!
The significance here is that you won’t just be getting lean. You will be learning to move well and developing endurance that will help you in life or sport.
And you won’t be sacrificing any muscle in the process.
Try these examples or be creative and create your own. Either way, try them!
Rule # 4: Drink AT LEAST ½ of your body weight in ounces of water daily
Water makes up about 70-75% of our muscle. Do I really need to say more?
I will anyway..
Water is essential for life. Everything we do down to a cellular level, water is present. The minimum amount I recommend is half of your bodyweight in ounces each day. But you can drink more than that. A good way to tell if you are getting enough water is by the color of your urine.
If your piss is any degree of yellow other than the first urination of the day, you are dehydrated to a certain percentage.
Urine should be clear, if it’s not, drink more water.
To add to this point, human beings can go up to 3 weeks without food, but can only go 3-5 days without water.
If you will die in 3 days without water, what do you think you are doing to the muscular tissue by not hydrating properly?
Drink more water.
I hope these 4 rules help you look at fat loss in a different light.
I don’t think it is the goal of anyone reading this blog to look like Justin Bieber at the end of your fat loss phase. So for the love of God, don’t train like him.
Eat carbs, get strong, condition and drink a lot of water.
Simple recipe. Just follow these guidelines consistently and you will finally achieve the strong, ripped physique you’ve been working for.
Train hard, friends.
I’ll catch you MoFo’s on the next one!