You wanna know how to get lean?
Or how to build ridiculous strength?
Here’s a little hint: you can do both at the same time.
But, if you’re like 95% of the population, you’re trying to achieve these goals using a completely flawed and ineffective approach.
No worries. I’m here to lay down some hard cold truth.
So recently I put up a post introducing the beginnings of Phase 3 for Visual Impact Muscle Building. As I mentioned, the objective of this phase is two fold: build strength and lose fat.
Today, I want to take you guys behind the scenes of the Phase 3 training strategy. I’m going to show you exactly how I’m training to simultaneously cut excess fat and build incredible strength.
Let’s get into the details.
What am I doing differently?
Fat loss can be a very confusing thing. When we think of traditional fat loss strategies, we often think of training in high volumes (high reps), low weights and tons of cardio.
Only part of that is true.
Thousands have tried this strategy with very little success. I know because I’ve talked to a lot of them.
I’m going to be doing something a little bit different. I am going to be focusing on a combination of low volume, heavy weight training with strategic cardio.
It all starts with…
I touched a bit on this in an old post, but it’s worth repeating again. There are two types of muscular hypertrophy (muscular growth): sarcoplasmic hypertrophy (SH) and myofibrillar hypertrophy (MH). Back when I was in Phase 1, I focused on sarcoplasmic hypertrophy to help me put on 19lbs of muscle in 8 short weeks.
For Phase 3, I’m going to be shifting focus to myofibrillar hypertrophy.
While SH increases the muscle cell fluid, or sarcoplasm, within the muscle cell (thus making it bigger), MH actually makes the muscle fiber itself grow (but very slightly). Since muscle fibers have the ability to contract, growth of muscle fibers results in dramatic improvements in strength. There is also a big neuromuscular factor here, but we’ll get into that later. Note that MH does not result in sizable muscle gains.
So how do we specifically focus on MH?
It comes down to rep ranges.
To initiate MH, we focus on very low volume (low reps). We’re talking about 1-4 repetitions max. The weights we use are also going to increase dramatically because we’re going to be working in such short rep ranges.
A combination of low volume and heavy weights will create a hard and dense muscle. Heavy weights also increases what we call “true” muscle tone. Rusty Moore, creator of the program, explains:
“In science, the term “muscle tone” actually refers to the electrophysiological phenomenon – of ionic flow across muscle cell membranes. The more toned a muscle is, the greater the electrophysiological activity it displays when it is in a rested state. So a muscle with great tone is hard and partially contracted in a rested state. A really toned muscle is hard to the touch. It takes hard and strong contractions to create this residual tone…and strength training for low reps is the way to do this.”
This is exactly what we want.
Extend your Rest Periods, Never Fail
During Phase 1, we shortened down our rest periods to 45 seconds to initiate the cumulative fatigue effect. Phase 3 is different. Here we are looking to build strength and this requires a whole new mentality of training.
And a lot of people have this concept completely backwards.
When you are training for strength gains, you are really training your neuromuscular system. As much as you are training for growth of individual muscle fibers, you are really training to teach your neuromuscular system to create stronger contractions. Stronger contractions lead to dramatic strength gains.
How do we do this?
Never fail. Never perform a repetition to failure. This is part of the reason we work with such low volumes. At the end of each and every set (no matter what exercise), you should always have one or two reps left in the tank. Never teach your muscles to fail if gaining strength is your desired outcome.
Extend your rest periods. Extending your rest periods to 75-90 seconds between sets allows your muscles and neuromuscular system to come back to equilibrium and be able to lift the same weight. This not only allows you to train harder, but longer as well.
Training in this fashion takes some getting used to and you’ll notice this yourself as you go through Phase 3 of the program. We are so used to working to failure that it seems unnatural to consistently lift without failing. It takes a bit of time to make that adjustment. It took me about two weeks.
Let’s move on…
Having dense, toned, hard-to-the-touch muscle is pointless if it’s all covered by excess fat. This is why we combine MH training with strategic cardio.
Strategic Cardio for Fat Loss
There isn’t much to be said here. Each weight training workout will be followed by a 20-45 minute cardio session.
The cardio session is composed of two parts: Intense HIIT and Prolonged LIT.
HIIT – High Intensity Interval Training – should last anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes. There are numerous pieces of equipment you can use here, but I’ll use the treadmill as an example. On the treadmill, you will alternate between 30 second sprints and 60 second jogs. You are to continue alternating between these two intensity levels for the total 10-15 minutes. If you want to adjust the intensity, simply adjust the time you spend in the high or low intensity intervals.
LIT – Low Intensity Training – also known as steady state cardio. This is just a slow jog or a fast walk at a consistent pace. You only need to do this for 15 minutes max.
Always do HIIT first, then move to LIT.
As you progress through Phase 3, the duration of HIIT and LIT will change. There comes a point where HIIT stops being effective (you’re either burnt out or at really low levels of bf) and you have to switch over to prolonged LIT to burn off that last little bit of fat. This all comes down to which energy systems you use but I’ll touch on this in more detail in another post.
Like I mentioned in the past, the Visual Impact Program is very customizable. You can make all kinds of tweaks and modifications to suit your needs and desires. This is what I love about it. So what I outline here may not be exactly what’s prescribed in the default program, but it’s close.
Note: We are eliminating leg days because we’re going to need them for all the cardio that we’ll be doing (trust me). Some of you might love this, others might not.
We are also moving to a 2 day split for Phase 3 and we’ll be doing 2 days on, 1 day off. Aim for 4-5 training sessions per week. Remember, since we are not fatiguing our muscles – we don’t train to failure – there won’t be any muscle tears so we can work out more throughout the week than we could in a muscle building phase.
Here’s the workout:
Day 1 – Chest, Back, Abs
- Bench Press
- Incline Dumbbell Press
- One Arm Dumbbell Row
- Chin ups/Pull ups
- Renegade Rows
Day 2 – Shoulders, Biceps, Triceps
- Military Press
- Seated Dumbbell Presses
- Alternate Dumbbell Curls
- Close Grip Bench Press
Note: I did one less Biceps exercise because of an injury induced to my forearm. I would typically do two bicep exercises (barbell curl is a good addition).
Remember that we’re working in low rep ranges. For each exercise, I aim for 2-4 repetitions and 5-6 sets. (My repetitions decrease as I increase weight – first set 4 reps, last set 2 reps).
If you’re unsure of any of the exercises above, either Google them or grab a copy of Rusty’s program because the program comes with a cool bonus: a full exercise guide that shows you exactly how each exercise is done. Definitely a useful resource to have.
So that’s the training in a (large) nutshell. I know I threw a lot of information at you here so if you’re interested in losing fat and building incredible strength, I suggest you read through the post a few more times until it sinks in. If you want a step by step guide, you can get it here.
I hope this guide on the training aspect of how to get lean has been somewhat useful. If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, please leave them in the comment section below. Also, if you enjoyed the post take a second to Like or Tweet the page (see the buttons to the left). It’ll help me out a lot. Thanks!