You Don't Have To Do Cardio To Be Lean [Workout Plan Included]

You Don't Have To Do Cardio To Be Lean [Workout Plan Included]

Now, here me out...

As any endurance athlete down to the weekend jogger can attest, steady-state cardio can be a rewarding and downright euphoric activity, so the purpose of this article isn't to disparage it or discourage you from partaking.

But if you're begrudgingly suffering through cardio before or after resistance training workouts (or on "off" days) in an effort to get "cut," I'm going to offer you relief and show you a better way.

Because the truth is, there are far more effective workout strategies to burn fat fast, and you might find that as an added bonus, you don't hate them.

The best fat loss workout strategy, particularly when combined with a sensible nutrition plan, actually combines these strategies into an integrated program.

I'll show you how to do that.

First, let me reveal the various approaches that work best:

1. Lactate-inducing Strength Workouts

During high-intensity exercise when your body's demand for energy is high, your body produces lactate, which enables you to continue exercising by sustaining energy production.

Understanding that isn't important...

What is important is understanding that there is a direct correlation between the amount of lactate produced, and your body's output of growth hormone.

Growth hormone is a powerful fat-burner because it stimulates the release of fatty acids from fat cells (after which they're burned for fuel).

It also, as a side benefit, preserves lean muscle during periods of calorie deprivation, such as when you're dieting to get lean.

Ever see 200- and 400-meter sprinters?

They're shredded to the bone.

Now you know why...

The same goes for other athletes involved in high-intensity activity, such as basketball, hockey, football, etc.

The great news, if you're opposed to taking up these sports in addition to your weekly workouts, is that you can manipulate your weight training to produce high levels of lactate.

This, in turn, will jack up your growth hormone output and lead to noticeable losses in stubborn fat.

Here's how:

  1. Perform sets of 12-18 repetitions
  2. Reduce rest intervals to just 30 seconds between sets
  3. Train multiple muscles per workout, preferably "far away" from each other to cause the greatest whole-body lactate production

2. Lift Heavy

As a powerlifter, this strategy is my favorite...

It's also extremely effective for preserving muscle during lower-calorie diets intended to drop fat.

You see, when you're reducing your total calorie intake, your body becomes very efficient at using fuel (which lowers the amount of calories needed to maintain your current weight), and it also seeks to drop weight that is expensive (in terms of energy) to maintain...

...like muscle.

(The less muscle you have, the fewer calories you need to survive.)

The best way to insure against this lean tissue loss is to convince your body that preserving your hard-earned muscle is absolutely essential, because, well, the 400-lb. squat bar will crush you without it.

So regular, heavy lifting is critical to signaling your body that every ounce of  current muscle is necessary to continue successfully faring those heavy loads.

3. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

OK, I'll admit that HIIT is technically cardio...

But it's far from the conventional, steady-state treadmill or elliptical stuff that we gym guys tend to loathe.

Instead, you can (and should, whenever possible) do this outside, on a beautiful day, like nature intended.

In case you're unaware, HIIT, as the name implies, is a type of cardio that incorporates alternating periods of low- and high-intensity work into a single session.

A great example is hill sprints.

In a hill sprint, you simply sprint up a hill with a reasonable incline and distance (these are tough, so no need to find the most extreme hill in your neighborhood), and then, when at the top, turn around and walk back down it.

Once at the bottom, turn around and sprint up again.

Then repeat.

Get the idea?

You can do this in an infinite number of ways.

My favorite HIIT training is pushing a prowler in my backyard...

I stack a bunch of 45-pound plates on it, and push it as fast as I can across the width of my backyard.

Then I turn around, walk back to the starting point and then back to the prowler, and push the prowler once again as fast as I can back to the other side of my yard.

Then I repeat.

This type of cardio burns massive amounts of fat while actually, in many instances, simultaneously building muscle!

This is a far cry from moderate-intensity, stead-state cardio that often wastes muscle, while resulting in far less fat loss by comparison.

Putting It Together For An Integrated Approach

Now that you know the 3 workout approaches for stripping maximum fat, let's put it together in a single program.

Believe it or not, there's a science to this as well, factoring in variables such as physical and neurological recovery times, etc.

This is what I recommend:

  • 2 heavy lifting workouts per week, using a few compound exercises each session that hit your entire body
  • 1 lactate-inducing workout per week
  • 2 HIIT sessions per week (on the weight training "off" days)

So, for example:

Monday (Heavy Lifting Workout 1):

A1: Upper Push Main Lift (e.g. barbell or dumbbell bench press) - 4-6 reps, using a weight heavy enough to only leave 1 or 2 reps in the tank

No rest, then:

A2: Upper Push Assistance Lift (e.g. incline or decline BB or DB bench press, floor press, pin press, etc.) - 6-8 reps, also using a weight that only leaves 1 or 2 in the tank

Rest 2 minutes, then:

B1: Upper Pull Main Lift (e.g. pull-ups, chins, bent-over row, one-arm row, etc.) - 4-6 reps (weight same as above)

No rest, then:

B2: Upper Pull Assistance Lift (e.g. lat pulldown, cable rows, pullovers, etc.) - 6-8 reps (weight same as above) Rest 2 minutes, and repeat. Perform the above 4 times.

Tuesday (HIIT Workout 1):

Hill sprints, prowler pushes, sled dragging, etc.

Shoot for cycles of 20-30 seconds of balls-out high-intensity work, followed by 30-60 seconds of low-intensity work.

For example, sprint for 20 seconds, then walk for 30 seconds, sprint for 20 seconds, then walk for 30 seconds, etc.

And start small...

Done right, HIIT training is rough.

Start at just 4 minutes (total), and then add 1 high- and low-intensity interval each workout to ramp up over time.

Wednesday (Lactate-Inducing Lifting Workout):

Circuit A (15 reps per set): A1: Upper Push (e.g. BB or DB flat or incline bench press, floor press or pin press)

No rest, then:

A2: Lower Push (e.g. barbell back squat, box squat, front squat, leg press, lunges, reverse lunges, etc.)

No rest, then:

A3: Upper Pull (e.g. pull-ups, chins, bent-over row, one-arm row, lat pulldown, cable rows, pullovers, etc.)

No rest, then:

A4: Lower Pull (e.g. conventional deadlift, sumo deadlift, Romanian deadlift, rack pulls, block pulls, leg curls, glute ham raises, reverse hyperextensions, etc.)

Rest 2 minutes, then repeat the entire circuit 3 times (for a total of 4). Then:

Circuit B (20 reps per set): B1: Biceps exercise (e.g. BB or DB curls, hammer curls, etc.)

No rest, then:

B2: Abs exercise (e.g. McGill crunches, side bridge, etc.)

No rest, then:

B3: Triceps exercise (e.g. skull crushers, triceps pushdown, pin press, etc.)

No rest, then:

B4: Shoulder isolation exercise (e.g. front raise, DB side laterals, bent-over laterals, etc.)

Rest 2 minutes, then repeat the entire circuit 3 times (for a total of 4).

Thursday (HIIT Workout 2):

Same as Tuesday, except add 1 high- and low-intensity interval.

Friday (Heaving Lifting Workout 2):

A1: Lower Push Main Lift (e.g. barbell back squat, box squat, front squat, etc.) - 4-6 reps, using a weight heavy enough to only leave 1 or 2 reps in the tank

No rest, then:

A2: Lower Push Assistance Lift (e.g. leg press, lunges, reverse lunges, etc.) - 6-8 reps, also using a weight that only leaves 1 or 2 in the tank

Rest 2 minutes, then:

B1: Lower Pull Main Lift (e.g. conventional deadlift, sumo deadlift, Romanian deadlift, rack pulls, block pulls, etc.) - 4-6 reps (weight same as above)

No rest, then:

B2: Lower Pull Assistance Lift (e.g. glute ham raises, reverse hyperextensions, leg curl, etc.) - 6-8 reps (weight same as above)

Rest 2 minutes, and repeat.

Perform the above 4 times.

More Fat Loss, More Muscle

This workout program, together with a smart nutrition plan, will allow you to strip away stubborn fat as fast as possible, while also preserving your attractive lean muscle (potentially even increasing it).

It will also make you a more well rounded, physically fit athlete!

[Note:] Want a hyperefficient workout plan designed to build muscle size and strength in just 90 minutes a week?  Click the image below to learn more...

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