In bodybuilding, there is a common belief that it is impossible to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. Many bodybuilders believe that you should only focus on one of these goals. Either lose fat by doing loads of cardio and dropping your calories by 500, or else eat 500 calories more than normal and start lifting weights to gain muscle.
However, neither of these goals is totally ideal. If you lose fat by cutting your caloric intake and doing loads of cardio, you will produce a body that is thinner than before but not visually appealing. You will simply be a smaller version of what you were in the beginning. Gaining muscle means eating more food but that often means putting on some fat, too. Lifting weights while eating like that will produce a a much more muscular frame but with puffy, bloated-looking muscles and a stocky frame that is also not what most people are looking for.
The vast majority of people who hit the gym to transform their bodies, other than the serious meatheads who want to be the next Schwarzenegger, are people who are looking to create the hot, sexy, “GQ model” look, with well-developed but reasonably-sized muscles, a six-pack and a hard, lean appearance, so that the muscles look angular and “cut”, as though you were a diagram of the human musculature. This appearance is not created by following either of the pieces of advice given above for building muscle or losing fat.
The secret to creating this look is to follow a program that emphasizes three stages –
1/ Heavy training that gets you strong
2/ Muscle building work to increase size
3/ Metabolic bursting, HIIT and steady-state cardio to burn fat
Do all three of these in THAT order and you will produce that “GQ” body. Let’s go into details now!
1/ Heavy training – spend at least the first month pushing and pulling some serious weight. Focus on intensity (how much weight) and volume (how many sets). I would recommend 5 sets of 5 reps at a minimum of 80% of your 1-rep max. You can do some exercises at a higher number of reps to increase size a little bit but make sure that you spend most of your time getting strong. Increase the weight by 20% each week if you can. Just do a little cardio if you must (for example, if you are seriously overweight). Focus on the traditional heavy compound exercises that train the whole body – pull-ups, push-ups, pull-downs, squats, deadlifts, bench presses, rows and lunges.
2/ Training for size – spend the second month focusing on increasing the size of your muscles. Ease off on the heavy training by reducing it to no more than 20% of your time at the gym. Increase reps to 8-12 and decrease sets to 3-4 max. Decrease weights to 60% of your 1-rep max. Super-set upper and lower body exercises to maximize efficient use of time and regard the time when you are exercising your lower body as a rest period for your upper body m(and vice versa). Minimize rest periods overall to increase the workload on the body. You can incorporate more isolation exercises into your routine, such as bicep curls, pec-dec machine and other, more “wussy” exercises. Sleep at least 8 hours a night to maximize muscle recovery and growth. Take at least 2 rest days a week. Drink plenty of water to flush out lactic acid.
3/ Cardio – in the third month, focus more on fat loss. Start circuit training by doing “heavy” exercises like pull-ups, push-ups, pull-downs, squats, deadlifts, bench presses, rows and lunges at high rep ranges with absolutely minimal rest periods with lighter weights. Do all 8 of these exercises in one circuit and focus on trying to complete at least 3 circuits in one gym session. Then hit the treadmill or stationary bike. Perform a 5-minute warm-up at 60% of your maximum intensity, then do metabolic bursting with a Tabata Protocol of 2o seconds at a minimum of 90% intensity, followed by 10 seconds at 60% intensity. Repeat this 30-second process at least 10 times (giving you 5 minutes of bursting). Follow this with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) by performing 2 minutes at 80% intensity and 1 minute at 60% intensity. Do this 3 times (9 minutes total). Then perform steady-state cardio for 10 minutes at 60% intensity, then a 1-minute cool-down at 50%. This gives you a 25-minute cardio routine to begin with. The metabolic bursting is anaerobic, meaning that it takes place “in the absence of oxygen”, which forces your body to go to its fat stores to give you the energy to complete the exercise. The HIIT, then moves the fat into the blood stream, where it is available to give constant supplies to the body during the longer high-intensity 2-min sessions. Finally, the steady-state moves the fat from the blood into the kidneys. Drink plenty of water. This will flush out the fat from the kidneys into the bladder. When you urinate, it will move out of the body and be gone! As the month continues, increase bursting to 20 times (10 minutes), HIIT to 5 times (15 minutes) but keep steady-state at 10 minutes. With a three-minute warm-up and two-minute cool-down, that gives you a 40-minutes workout to aim for by the end of the month.
Do all this and you will get the hot body of your dreams!