This has been a good summer for me, fitness-wise. In June and July, I gained about 5-6 pounds of muscle- extremely rapid gains for an intermediate level trainee. Yet despite eating a massive caloric surplus, I only gained 4-5 pounds of fat in the same time frame.
Then, in August, I lost all that fat plus a few more pounds, while gaining another pound or so of muscle- again, without starving myself. Almost exactly 3 months from my starting date, I’m up 7 pounds of muscle and down 4 pounds of fat, my waist has gone from 31” to 30”, and my body fat percentage has gone from 14% to 11%. And if I had been solely focused on fat loss, I could have dropped 5 pounds a month- a rapid pace for a guy with only 25 or so pounds of fat on his body. An obese person could have dropped 10-20 pounds a month on the same fat loss program.
Gaining muscle is a topic for another article, but today I want to show you the simple 15-minute workout that I used to minimize fat gain while I was bulking, and to shred fat while cutting. Fair warning: this workout is short but grueling, and not for the faint of heart. Here it is:
2 minute warmup on the elliptical machine
A1: 30 seconds sprinting on the elliptical machine, as fast as you can
A2: 20 pushups
Repeat 3 times, taking no rest between the pushups and sprints
Rest 1 minute
B1: 30 seconds sprinting on the elliptical machine, as fast as you can
B2: Dumbbell swings, 15 on each side
Again, repeat 3x, no rest between sets
Rest 1 minute
C1: 30 seconds sprinting on the elliptical machine, as fast as you can
C2: 30 second plank
Once again, repeat 3x without any rest
Cooldown 1-3 minutes, or as long as you feel you need.
So throughout this workout, you’ve done nine 30-second sprints on the elliptical machine, and 3 sets of each weight exercises (3 on each side for the DB swings). And the only rest you’ve taken is the two one-minute rests between supersets- for the rest of the time, you’ve been working, and working hard.
This workout isn’t fun. Done correctly, it will make you feel like you want to faint- or puke. But it will also get you results.
Now, this workout is hard enough as is- but if you wanted to modify it, you could do a few things. You could do four of each superset, rather than three. You could add a fourth superset with a different exercise, such as dumbbell overhead presses. Or you could shorten the rest periods.
When changing the exercises- whether to adjust the difficulty or to avoid stressing “problem” joints- remember to choose combinations of movements that, taken together, work your whole body.
Conversely, if you can’t make it all the way through this workout, just take longer rests- maybe even add a 10 second rest between each exercise. You DO NOT need a totally different workout just because this one is too hard- you just need to lower the intensity a bit, then slowly work your way back up.
Now, as for how often to use this- it depends. If you’re using it to minimize fat gain while bulking up, once a week is good, as you don’t want to cut too much into your recovery from your other workouts. If you’re actually trying to lose fat, I’d do it twice a week, but still mix it with some other, non-cardio workouts.
This will be one of the most difficult workouts you ever perform. It will also be one of the most effective. Keep at it for a few months, and you’ll love the way you look in the mirror.