Q: I always get fat over the winter. Outdoor cardio is hard to do, and I hate the treadmill. Plus, I tend to miss workouts. Three days a week is about all I can handle. Should I just do that and try to starve myself more often to stay closer to lean shape?
A: The good news is, you don’t have to do cardio to burn fat; you just have to use a few key fat-to-muscle tactics, the first of which is doing some muscle damage.
You may have read how interval cardio, such as sprinting the straightaways and walking the curves on a running track, burns more fat than low-intensity cardio. The reason is the muscle damage caused by the sprints—but you don’t have to sprint—or do any cardio…
You simply need to induce enough muscle trauma in the weight room. After you do that, your body uses a lot of fat as energy during the repair process. Your metabolism stays stoked, so you burn more fat for hours and sometimes days as the muscles grow bigger and stronger. How great is that?
So your intense weight-training workouts can get the fat-burning job done—if you damage your muscles enough. So what’s the key to getting or staying leaner? Muscle trauma at every workout (that’s fat-to-muscle secret #1)…
Here’s an example of how to do that: In the X-treme Lean High-Definition Workout, we suggest you do one set of each big midrange exercise (like squats) in a negative-accentuated style; that is, raise the weight in the normal two seconds, but lower in six. Use that slow-down stroke on every rep. It’s the eccentric, or negative, stroke that causes the most trauma, so this style will heighten muscle damage, giving you enhanced fat burning for days after. Here’s an example of the quad workout [page 77 of X-treme Lean]…
Midrange: Squats or leg presses, 1 x 8-10; 1* x 8-10
Contracted: Leg extensions, 1 x 15-20
Midrange: Squats or leg presses, 1 x 8-10
Stretch: Sissy squats, 1 x 8-10
You do one work set of squats or leg presses; reduce the weight and do the second in the slow-down (NA) style. After a brief rest, you do a set of higher-rep leg extensions. After another rest, go back for a third heavy set of squats. Going back to the big exercise after an isolation move is known as postactivation, which heightens blood flow and fiber activation (that’s fat-to-muscle secret #2, explained in the X-treme Lean).
You should use the negative-accentuated style on the second work set of all of your big midrange exercises (bench presses, rows, etc.). You can also do the stretch-position exercises, sissy squats in the above example, in that style.
Okay, look at the above quad routine again. Notice that you do the contracted-position exercise, leg extensions, for high reps (15-20). That not only enhances blood flow for postactivation, but it also causes muscle burn from lactic acid. That’s been shown in research studies to boost growh hormone, which is a potent fat burner (that’s fat-to-muscle secret #3). [Canadian J of Appl Physiol; 22:244-255; 1997]
As for missing workouts, you can use the High-Definition program with excellent results training only three days a week—if you trigger enough muscle damage. Train, say, Monday (chest, lats, triceps, abs), Wednesday (quads, hamstrings, calves), and Friday (delts, midback, biceps). That one-bodypart-hit-per-week should be perfect if you use negative-accentuated reps, postactivation and stretch-position exercises (grit your teeth and get intense).
Try those tips, don’t go overboard with your eating, and you’ll stay leaner as your muscles grow bigger. That way spring won’t sneak up on you—you won’t have a lot of fat to get rid of so X-treme leanness will be much easier to reach—without losing hard-earned muscle. Here’s a shot of Jonathan’s abs from X-treme Lean to get you rolling…
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
What Would You Do to Protect Your Family?
Mike Westerdal is a renowned personal trainer and national best-selling physical preparedness author, but he’s also a father and a husband… who would do anything to protect his family.
He used to get pushed around when younger and spent years building up his body and becoming stronger, getting mentally and physically tough the hard way. As he got bigger, he learned to handle himself, and working in security, he learned first-hand how violence really plays out.
Some of the other guys online who show off their self-defense videos and books need to get a grip. The level of skill needed to pull off their basic moves is CRAZY for most ordinary people.
- If a defense system requires more than a few hours to master, it’s not a program.
- The only techniques you will ever use are the simple ones.
- They need to work for an ordinary person without prior training, technique, or ability.
- So even if you think you don’t have time to learn how to defend yourself…
- You don’t need to spend years training to be a martial artist.