Q: I was surfing at IronManMagazine.com and I came across one of your articles in which a guy asked you about losing bodyfat. I’m kind of in the same boat as he is. I’m 220, roughly 25 percent bodyfat and 6’ tall. Initially, I lost 15 pounds over the summer, but I’ve been stuck since August at 220. I’m eating roughly what you outlined: 200 grams of protein, 200 to 250 grams of carb and 50 to 60 grams of fat. I was doing full-body workouts, two sets each of benches, rows, presses, stiff-legged deads, squats, curls and extensions three days a week and alternating that with cardio. So I’d be working cardio four times a week. The thing is, I never felt my legs being worked—despite my numbers on the exercises going up. Well, they were going up; I’ve been stuck at the same weights for a month. Should I opt for a routine like the one you listed in the article—a four-day split with bodyparts being hit twice a week?
A: You need to do more weight training in order to lose more bodyfat. I know that goes against standard thinking because weight training is supposed to be for muscle building while cardio is designed for burning fat. Still, I believe that you’re slowing down your rate of fat burning by weight training only three days a week and doing cardio four days.
Every time you lift weights, which is anaerobic exercise, you are burning glycogen from the muscles. The depletion of stored sugar in your muscle cells followed by the restoration of it helps to increase your metabolism and your energy output in a way that traditional cardio cannot match.
Your weight-training routine is very limited. I think you will build more muscle tissue and burn more stored bodyfat by engaging in more intense, anaerobic training. In fact, I would suggest that you change things around by weight training four days a week and doing cardio only three days.
Try switching to a split routine that has you training each bodypart twice a week, or you can split the body over three days and do a three-days-on/one-off program. As you are currently training your whole body in one workout by doing a limited exercise program, I suggest starting off by splitting the bodyparts over two days.
I recommend doing chest, back and shoulders at the first workout followed by legs and arms at the second. Train the first group of muscles on Monday and Thursday and the second group on Tuesday and Friday. Here is a sample workout:
Monday and Thursday
Bench presses 3 x 6-10
Incline dumbbell presses 3 x 6-10
Wide-grip chins 3 x 6-10
Barbell rows 3 x 6-10
Deadlifts 3 x 6-8
Seated dumbbell presses 3 x 6-10
Upright rows 3 x 8-10
Standing calf raises 3 x 8-12
Tuesday and Friday
Hanging knee raises 2 x 30-40
Incline situps 2 x 30-40
Leg presses 3 x 8-12
Squats 3 x 6-8
Stiff-legged deadlifts 3 x 6-10
Close-grip bench presses 3 x 6-10
Lying extensions 3 x 8-10
Barbell curls 3 x 6-10
As I mentioned, in addition to upping your weight workouts, you should decrease your cardio sessions to three a week—to help you lose more fat while still adding muscle.
I’m not sure what type of cardio you’re doing, but if you include at least two sessions a week of high-intensity interval cardio, it will help you burn bodyfat even faster. There are several ways of doing HIIT cardio. My favorite is to use the StairMaster, alternating the intensity level every two minutes. I do only 15 to 20 minutes of high-intensity cardio and do it on my off days from weight training, as it’s much more demanding than regular steady-state cardio.
If you’ve been stuck at a plateau for some time, it’s probably also a good idea to modify your diet a little. You can start by slightly cutting back on your carbs. I suggest bringing them down to about 180 grams a day while increasing your protein intake to at least 225 grams. That slight change in macronutrients, along with the additional weight training and the adjusted cardio, will definitely help you increase your muscle mass and bring down your bodyfat.
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