How I Lost 15 LBS of Fat in 5 Weeks with VI Phase 3

Time flies…

I started Phase 3 of Visual Impact back on November 13, 2011 with two goals in mind:.

  1. Get lean
  2. Build some ridiculous strength

I prepared my meals, I structured my workouts, and I prepared myself for a few weeks of what I quickly discovered to consist of unusual training and endless mind games.

Let me fill you in…

It was November 13. I stepped on the scale and it read a solid 184lbs.

Using the Visual Impact program, I embarked on a mission to get as lean and as strong as I can in the shortest time possible. I set goals of dropping 10lbs of fat and improving my strength by at least 20% in 4-6 weeks.

A mere 5 weeks later, the results (once again) blew me away.

I was 15 lbs lighter.

And my strength was up by an average of 15%.

I was happy with my results, just like I was when I gained 19lbs in 8 weeks.

Before I get into the details, I want to make sure you’ve had a chance to check out the previous posts in this series. If you’re interested to see, in detail, how I’ve set up my training and how I’ve structured my diet for getting lean, you can check out the following posts:

My objective, as it was during my muscle building challenge, was to record as much information as possible so I can relay it all to you guys. I want to give you everything you need so you can replicate the results.

So let’s get into the details.

The Beginning – November 13, 2011

Here were some pictures of me taken on November 13, 2011, the beginning of my getting lean challenge.

I was fresh off of finishing up Phase 2 of Visual Impact – a 5 X 5 style of training and more of a transition phase from Phase 1 to Phase 3. I weighed in at 184lbs and my body fat percentage was around 12-14% (this wasn’t measured just estimated using reference pictures). I had decent muscle mass, mostly in my chest and my back.

Let’s fast forward 5 weeks…

The Transformation – December 17, 2011

Five weeks of heavy weight training, strategic cardio, and well-prepared dieting later, I had some good results to show for it:

As you can see, I’ve completely leaned down. I dropped to a solid 169lbs and my body fat percentage was hovering around 9%. My waist completely shrunk down, my chest expanded, and, most notably, my back got super defined.

What you can’t see in the picture is how dense my muscles got. They became hard to the touch even when they weren’t flexed. The feeling is amazing!

To see how my weight has fluctuated over the 5 week period, I’ve put together a little graph to show you exactly how my weight shifted from week to week.

Notice how my weight change was fairly consistent over the course of five weeks, with my largest spikes being in week 2 and week 3 where I lost 4lbs in each week. The reason behind these spikes was mainly because my body started to adjust to the caloric deficit it was experiencing and was quickly shedding the stored fat that I had accumulated over Phase 1 and Phase 2. It started to slow down to about 2lbs per week (still impressive) in my last two weeks as I had less and less fat on my body.

As a side note, if I was to continue through with this phase, I would make sure to switch to doing only LIT cardio after my workouts and forego the HIIT. This would ensure that I continue to burn fat (whatever is left on the body) instead of breaking down protein, turning me into one lean-ass mofo.

Here is another picture that shows the changes my body has gone through over the 5 weeks:

You can definitely see the changes in my overall body fat. My waist also shrunk dramatically but my muscle mass stayed fairly consistent. This goes to show that going on a calorie (and carb) deficit doesn’t mean your muscles will break down.

What about Strength?

Let’s take a look at how my strength has evolved over the 5 week challenge. What I’ve done is I’ve kept a training log with me and filled it out each training session. So after I was done I wanted to be able to look back and see exactly how my lifts improved over the course of five weeks.

Here’s a chart that shows my progress in strength development:

The Max Weight at Start column simply refers to the weight I was lifting in week 1 of the Phase during my last (and heaviest) set. The Max Weight at End column is the same thing, only for week 5 of the Phase.

You can see that there are areas where I’ve had some good gains and some areas where I’ve had quite minimal gains. Dumbbell exercises, such as the incline dumbbell press, the seated (shoulder) dumbbell press and the one arm dumbbell row saw the greatest boosts in strength. Major barbell lifts such as the bench press and the military press saw minimal gains.

The reason behind this is that a lot of the major gains I’ve had in these big exercises came in Phase 2 when I trained in the 5 X 5 style so there wasn’t too much improvement left to make here in Phase 3.

My biggest boost in strength was in the weighted dips where I was able to work up to doing dips with two 45lbs plates hanging off of me. Now that felt good!

What I Learned from this Challenge

Lesson: To build strength, NEVER go to failure.
What you can take away: Most people are under the impression that to develop strength, you need to lift super heavy weights until your arms fall off. The fact is, if gaining strength is your number one priority, you’ll want to end each set before you bring your muscles to failure. You’ll always want to have a few reps left in you at the end of each set. What this does is it teaches your neuromuscular system to create stronger contractions which leads to greater lifts. Temptation plays a huge factor here. Training in this manner takes time to get accustomed to because we’re so used training to failure. There are going to be times when you’re lifting heavy weights and you know you can crank out a few more reps. Don’t! Stop right there and prepare for your next set. That’s how you build strength.

Lesson: I lift more with a spotter.
What you can take away: I typically like training alone. I just find my workouts are more efficient and I’m more focused when I’m by myself. But when you’re training for strength you’re focusing on low volumes and very heavy weights. When you deal with heavy weights, there is a greater risk of injury if you’re doing things by yourself and it becomes very psychological. I found that by having a spotter, I felt safer (and more motivated) to lift heavier weights. When I was by myself I held back a bit, afraid that I might injure myself. If you can, find someone you can work out with but be 100% sure they know what they’re doing when they’re spotting you!

Lesson: I really hate long rest periods!
What you can take away: When you train for strength development, you want to extend your rest periods between sets to 2-3min. What this does is it allows for enough time for your muscles to fully recharge before starting the next set. When you don’t allow your muscles to fail and you extend your rest periods, you can train harder and longer.

Lesson: The mind to muscle link is HUGE here.
What you can take away: I’ve talked about the mind-to-muscle link before, but here it makes a big difference. You need to fully concentrate on each and every repetition you’re doing. Focus on contracting every muscle group in your body during every repetition. You’ll need all the help you can get when you’re facing heavy weights.

Lesson: Your cardio needs to be strategic.
What you can take away: Most people don’t put much thought into their cardio sessions. They jump on the treadmill or the bike, throw it on a certain speed and then go at it until they feel like they’ve accomplished something. If you want to get lean, you need to be strategic. I found that combining high intensity interval training (HIIT) with low intensity training (LIT) after a weight lifting session worked best. HIIT is great for getting your heart rate up, helping turn your body into a fat-burning furnace for hours after the workout. LIT uses your fat stores as energy and is great for burning off those last few pounds. The proportion of HIIT and LIT will change as you progress through the phase.

Lesson: The slow-carb diet works.
What you can take away:  This was my first time trying a diet like this and I’m happy to say that it works really well. It’s easy to follow and the results speak for themselves. You can learn more about the diet here.

Lesson: Your body adapts quickly to hunger.
What you can take away:  I went from consuming roughly 3,500 calories when I was in Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the program down to roughly 1,600 calories for Phase 3. The first week I felt like I was going to literally die of hunger, but I stuck to it. Within a week, my body already adapted to the drop in caloric consumption and my hunger cravings were nearly gone. But when you’re on a caloric deficit for a prolonged period of time, there will be days that you get cravings. I found that coffee, tea, and water are great hunger suppressants.

Lesson: During periods of constant, prolonged calorie deficits, your mood (and personality) can change.
What you can take away: I found this to be fascinating. Although my carbohydrate (and overall calorie) intake was low, I never felt like I was lacking energy. But people told me I wasn’t being myself. They told me I was talking less. It seems as if the body utilizes any means possible to conserve the energy that it does have. Remember, the body is built to primarily do one thing: survive. And that’s exactly what’s happening here. My body realized that it was being deprived of energy (from food) so it compensated by changing my mood (and my personality in a way) which resulted in me talking less. Crazy!

Lesson: Don’t do this shit during the winter holidays.
What you can take away: This is more of a psychological thing than anything. When you are striving to eat less, make sure you’re not setting yourself up for failure by surrounding yourself with endless temptations. That’s exactly what happened to me since I was constantly faced with having to resist food during the Christmas holidays. Thankfully, my will power is strong enough to resist the temptations, but it wasn’t easy. So if getting lean is your objective, get rid of all temptations in your environment (home, work, etc.). Make it easy for yourself to succeed.

Lesson: Visual Impact works!
What you can take away:  If you’re looking for a program that can help you get lean and strong, then Visual Impact is the way to go.

So what’s next?

Had I stayed longer in Phase 3, I probably would’ve hit the 6-8% body fat range at some point. However, I was not really interested in dropping my body weight any more.

So I’ve decided to move on…

There is actually one more Phase in the Visual Impact Muscle Building program that I’m really looking forward to testing out.

It’s called the Bonus Phase and it uses the same principles that actors and fitness models use to get that truly ripped and defined look.

I’ll fill you in on all the details soon!

Anyways, I hope this post has given you a good overview of what it takes to get lean. I’m clearly not completely there yet but it goes to show how much can be accomplished in as little as 5 weeks.

If you have any questions or comments about my results, my strategies or anything about getting lean, feel free to drop a comment in the comment section below.

35 thoughts on “How I Lost 15 LBS of Fat in 5 Weeks with VI Phase 3”

  1. Hey Srdjan,

    good job man, looking great! 🙂

    Small wonder though, since you’re using what is probably THE top lean-and-muscular-look program out there! 🙂

    Good goin’,


  2. Awesome job! I’m really impressed with how well Phase 3 worked out for you. I had one question though. What set and rep range did you use during this phase?

  3. Great great great! Congrats, fascinating entry and keep it up!
    Can’t imagine a guy going from 3500 calories to 1600 🙂

    1. Having that one ‘cheat’ day is important not only to keep your metabolism revved up, but to keep your cravings in check. Without the cheat day the temptations would be overwhelming I think.

  4. DUDE … Good job! The results look great.

    I’m currently working on a VERY similar project … a test run of … Visual Impact Cardio 😀

    Rusty hired me to do the graphics so I got some of the book (the good parts) a bit early.

    I’m following the same type of diet you did as well – 10 calories per goal weight, low carbs (50-ish grams), high protein (.7-ish grams per pound), high fat … also having a cheat day on Saturday.

    I’m curious, did you fast on Sunday or just return to 1,600 calories? I’ve been fasting on Sunday, directly after my cheat day, and it’s been working out pretty good.

    Anyway, AWESOME job and you’ve given me a little more motivation to keep pushing! I’m sure your bonus phase results are going to be awesome.


    1. Thanks Kevin!

      I just checked out your little site and the results you got after only 2 weeks are incredible! Keep it up. How long are you doing this for? And is there a weight lifting component to the program as well?

      I found that on Sundays I could go the whole day without eating and I was usually way under my 1600 calories. I’m curious to see what would happen if I had fasted every Sunday. Maybe you can touch on that in your program.

      And my bonus phase results are coming soon. They were, in fact, awesome 🙂

      1. I’m planning on 6-8 weeks, but I’ll have to see when I get there. I really want to get cut and down to 8% or so body fat.

        For the weight lifting I’m following phase III; giving this the VI/VI combo to see what kind o results I can get.

        I forgot you have already gone through the shrink wrap phase … looking forward to seeing the results.

  5. Srdjan, awesome results. Good cue on the rest times between sets. When lifting heavier weight loads giving the muscle a bit more time to rest will allow for significant gains. This is a totally different feel when trying aiming for quick workouts focused on fat loss.


  6. Hey Srdjan, great progress on VI! Long post but I’m so glad you outlined what you did and the lessons you learned. I also like the fact that you tracked your strength progress as well as your body fat. Those numbers definitely give you a bigger picture and they are very motivating.

    Anna D.

  7. Damn Serge!! That’s awesome progress you got going.
    I’m going through Vince Del Monte programs right now, but once I’m done with it, I will give Rusty’s routines a go.

    This really looks like a solid stuff, plus I need a bit of break from the all the big squats and deads. They’re making my ass look like JLo’s

    Thumbs up, man!

    1. Hahaha that’s hilarious Martin! But I know exactly what you mean…not that there is anything wrong with JLo’s ass 🙂

      When you move to VI, you’ll notice a HUGE difference in training style though. You’ll enjoy it for sure…

      Thanks for the support buddy.

  8. Congrats on awesome results from Phase 3! I’m especially impressed with the increased strength gain. I’m just starting Phase 3 so we’ll see how everything goes. I’m aiming to drop about 5lbs of fat while preserving muscle, setting myself up nicely for the bonus phase.

    1. I made it a focus to really put emphasis on the strength improvements because I was definitely lacking in strength on some of my lifts. So I’m happy with how it turned out.

      Good luck in Phase 3. I’m looking forward to seeing your progress!

  9. Hi Srdjan,

    Your hard work is really inspiration to me and definitely to others, i’m sure.
    I have a question, since before Phase 3 you were on 3500 calories and on Phase 3 you were on 1600 calories, you probably went up in calories after finishing phase 3. Do you feel you are getting fat again? What is your recomendation to retain that perfect look you achieved? Should we start all over again from Phase 1, or just trying to maintain our look with some basic exercises.
    What about diet? Should we stick to some light diet or we can eat as before Phase 1? I think missing part is what after achieving this perfect look. Please help with some suggestions…..
    Thanks, Ivan

    1. Hey Ivan, thanks for your comment man. You ask a very good question.

      After Phase 3 I went into the Bonus Phase (which I will reveal the results for in a few days). In this phase I maintained the same diet as I did for Phase 3.

      But once that’s all said and done and the program is finished, you’re right in the fact that my calorie intake goes back up, only nowhere near the 3500 calories I was consuming in Phase 1. I stick around the 2000 calorie mark and include at least 2 heavy lifting days in my week. I’ll make sure I do a post-VI article to highlight how to maintain this new look. I’ve managed to maintain everything so far 🙂

  10. Great work man! This is an awesome post. I have experienced the same things on a caloric deficit diet. I talk less, so bizarre!

    You results are inspiring, and fantastic job with the blog!

    p.s. I just started a program similar to leangains, with heavy emphasis on strength training and the big 4 lifts. Total mind shift like you said, and takes time to get used to!

  11. A 50% boost in weighted dips is absolutely astounding. I’m really curious if you continued using Phase 3 how much your gains would taper off or even if they would at all. I would think it is only natural for your gain rate to regress a bit, but still, 50% already is HUGE.

    1. Hey Robert, it’s definitely an interesting thought. I’m sure the strength gains would plateau after a certain time on the program at which point I would make some changes to my strategy. I was fortunate to have some impressive gains in the 5 weeks that I did this program. Next time I do it I’ll try to go for longer just to see what happens.

  12. Hey Srdjan,

    After (thoroughgly) reading all your posts on Visual Impact (I’m following it as well) I noticed you didn’t write anything about phase 2. Would you mind writing an article on it (or at least tell me what you thought of it and what youre results were)?
    Out of all the phases phase 2 seems to be the most “useless” so I don’t know whether if I should jump right into phase 3 or not.

    Thanks a lot.

    1. Hey Mike, sorry for the late response here. I didn’t write about phase 2 because I figured I would cover the same principles in another post about 5X5 training (I just haven’t gotten around to it yet). The principles of phase two (just like in 5X5 training) are very useful actually. This style of training is used by athletes a lot because it’s the perfect combination of strength building and hypertrophy (muscle building).

      Whether you use it or not really depends on your goals. If you’re just trying to get lean quickly, you can skip phase two (that is if you’ve achieved the size you want from phase 1) and go right into phase 3. I, personally, didn’t stick around phase 2 for that long and thus didn’t have much to report on.

      Hope that helps. Feel free to send any other specific questions.

      1. I´m still in a phase 1 style training in order to build muscle. Thing is, if phase 1 builds muscle and phase 3 builds strenght while dropping body fat at the same time, why would phase 2 be necessary, especially when not many people report muscle gains from it? How long did you do phase 2 for? And what did you think of it? Is it absolutely necessary?

        Thanks a lot.

  13. Hi Srdjan,
    I wanted to ask you a question about your water consumption. You mentioned it being a good hunger suppressant above. I also saw some other place on your blog where you did an experiment with water consumption – based on thirst versus, based on some form of a rule that you utilize (color of urine, etc.).

    I am wondering whether you found anything in your research about the effects of water consumption on organ function – kidney, etc? I tend to drink a lot of water, again following the rule about half your body weight in ounces per day, which probably has no basis in fact either. 🙂 I feel pretty good, apart from the inconvenience of having to pee every 20 minutes. I have co-workers who joke about how often I go, and exhibit almost camel-like behavior.
    Thanks, Michael

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