IRON MAN E-Zine: Issue #417:
Your #1 Step to Fast Fat Loss–and Big Muscle Gains
TRY THIS AT YOUR NEXT WORKOUT
Your #1 Step to Fast Fat Loss–and Big Muscle Gains
Q: I need to lose 20 pounds. I’ve got a gut, and I have a goal to lose it in two to three months. If I succeed, I should look pretty good when summer gets here. Is that possible? What’s the number-one thing I should do to get it going? I’m stoked to see abs, so I’ll starve if I have to.
A: Well, the first thing you should NOT do is starve by making a huge calorie cut. That’s the big mistake most people make due to excessive motivation and/or impatience. A giant calorie reduction all at once sends your body into starvation mode. That preserves fat and burns muscle tissue–which then slows down your metabolism to a crawl. Not what you want…
What you do want is to gradually reduce your calories. So the #1 first step you should take is to clean up your diet–no junk–and eat six smaller meals every day. Most of those meals should contain about 30 grams of protein with some clean slow-burning carbs–usually vegetables or fruit. A meal replacement, like Muscle Meals, between solid-food feedings, can help you get enough protein to keep your blood sugar stable–no starvation–and build muscle!…
Junk food is acceptable at one or two weekly meals, preferably on the weekends. Don’t deny yourself completely. Satisfying those cravings will prevent all-out binges that can derail fat loss, causing you to give up.
Can you do it? Absolutely! If you strive for a healthy two-to-three-pound fat loss each week, in two months you will have dropped 20 pounds easily. Let’s be conservative and say you lose only 2 pounds a week. That means you’d shed 2 pounds x 8 weeks, which is 16 pounds of ugly fat. Perfect–and you should drop even more than that if you lift weights regularly and build muscle–because muscle stokes your metabolism to burn more fat…
Also, as we’ve said, don’t rely on the scale. If you add muscle and lose fat, your actual bodyweight may not change much. Go by how you look, not by what you weigh–and you’ll be more ripped than ever in 60 days!
Note: For meal-by-meal diets, more fat-loss tips and tricks and ripping workouts, see the X-treme Lean e-book. Or you can get X-treme Lean along with 2 other best-selling fat-loss guides, The Ultimate Fat-to-Muscle Workout and X-traordinary Abs, for a limited-time money-saving price. See the Triple-Shredded Combo Offer.
Q: I just started the Size Surge program, and it feels great so far. I love the workouts. One problem I’m having is that on some exercises that I’m supposed to pyramid the weight up, I don’t get enough reps on the second heaviest set. For example, on dumbbell presses my reps go 9 and then 4 or 5 after I add weight. Should I just keep doing that, use the same weight on both sets or what?
A: In a recent e-zine we answered a similar question concerning barbell curls, and we suggested using the same weight on both sets; however, that’s a single-joint move. It sounds as if you’re having problems pyramiding on the big compound, or multi-joint, exercises, which is common for thin guys looking for muscle size…
Hardgainers–wiry, high-strung types–have a hard time putting on muscle. One of the big reasons is less-than-stellar nerve-to-muscle connections–you no doubt have a hard time feeling the target muscle working–and/or a dominant endurance muscle-fiber type. A recent study we’ve discussed before explains and provides a clue to a mass-building solution for you..
Researchers took about 100 randomly selected subjects and trained them using various set-and-rep protocols. Those with a so-called ACE-2 variant, or endurance gene (skinny folks), responded best to training using 12 to 15 reps (extended tension times). When those subjects used heavier weight that limited their reps to around eight, they showed close to zero gains.
On the other hand, the subjects who were more anaerobic, with something called an ACE-DD variant, showed similar gains from both types of loads. They also made greater strength gains than the endurance-oriented group. Still, this anaerobic DD group made the most gains from the heavier training, implying that they respond best to that kind of lower-rep weight work. [Colakoglu, M., et al. (2005). Eur J App Physiol. 95(1):20-26.]
We’ve noticed that exact response variance in our training. Steve’s muscles are more endurance oriented (ACE-2) and Jonathan’s are more anaerobic (ACE-DD). If our training has too much extended-tension work (longer sets), Jonathan stagnates; if we do too much heavy lower-rep work, Steve’s muscle gains stall or regress. You can see our body-type differences in this photo…
In fact, when Jonathan pyramids on the big exercises, his reps often stay the same. For example, on bench press he will do 8, rest, add weight, and then get 8 again–same reps, MORE weight. Steve on the other hand is like you: He will get 8, add weight, then get only 4 on his second heavier set. The solution for Steve on those exercises where a pyramid causes extreme rep regression is a reverse pyramid…
With a reverse pyramid you still do progressively heavier warmup sets, but on your first work set you take your heaviest weight, one with which you can get 7 reps. Now instead of adding weight, you subtract it–enough so you can crank out 10 to 12 reps…
So instead of a medium-rep set and a low-rep set, which, as the research shows, does almost nothing for hardgainer types, you do a medium-rep set followed by a higher-rep set. The heavier set first also gives you nervous system priming, which is important. Remember we said hardgainers tend to have below-average neuromuscular efficiency. The reverse pyramid can help you overcome that on your second KEY growth set. Here’s a quote from X-traordinary Muscle-Building Workouts, Chapter 6: The Heavy/Light Program, that explains…
“Heavy-weight low-rep sets cause the nervous system to crap out early; however, they also heighten nervous system response. That means after one heavy low-rep set, you’ll be able to activate more fibers on your second.”
So going from a heavy, lower-rep set to a lighter higher-rep set on the compound exercises in the Size Surge program is tailor made to give hardgainers like you a better hypertrophic response. In other words, a pyramid in reverse to give you a muscle-mass burst.
Note: The complete Heavy/Light Program, that includes the reverse pyramid tactic, is on pages 60-63 in the X-traordinary Muscle-Building Workouts e-book, which includes 10 complete unique mass workouts. Best deal is The X-traordinary 3D Offer that includes the XMB Workout e-book along with 3D Muscle Building (POF) AND X-traordinary Arms at a money-saving price.
Till next time, train hard–and smart–for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
NEW: The X-traordinary SIZE SURGE Workout, Jonathan Lawson’s legendary two-phase mass program that packed 20 pounds of muscle on his frame in only 10 weeks. See all the changes he made to the original workouts, transcribed from his training journal. In printable templates so you can duplicate his incredible gains. You also get his eat-to-grow diet and streamlined no-frills supplement schedule, anabolic acceleration methods and loads of tips and tricks. Plus, an interview with a top-level bodybuilder who trains Size Surge style for incredible growth.
Winter-Workout Special: You can get all 3 of our latest best-selling e-books–The X-traordinary X-Rep Workout, The Ultimate Power-Density Mass Workout and The Ultimate 10×10 Mass Workout–at a limited-time discount price. Those contain all the workouts in our 3-Way Mass Plan, which is 1) Basic X-traordinary X-Rep Workout for two weeks, 2) the Basic Power-Density Mass Workout for two weeks, 3) a downshift week (stopping all work sets before failure), 4) the Heavy/Light 10×10 Mass Workout for 4 weeks. Click the covers below for more info.
Triple-Shred Discount Fat-Loss Offer: Get our diet-and fat-loss e-book, X-treme Lean, together with The Fat-to-Muscle Workout and X-traordinary Abs e-books at a special limited-time low price. Click the Triple-Shredded Combo Offer and get on the rocketship to ripped today.
Newbies: If you’re a beginning bodybuilder, coming back from a layoff or a trainer who trains beginners, our new e-book, Quick-Start Muscle-Building Guide, is for you.
To follow the ITRC training program in “Train, Eat, Grow,” get a copy of the latest issue of IRON MAN.
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