So you want to get lean — Part 2

You’ve established your energy needs, adjusted for exercise, and calculated your macros. Time to get in the gym and hit the weights! But where do you start?

In part one of this topic, we covered the importance of energy balance, how to establish an energy deficit and calculate our macros to help guide our nutritional choices.

In this post, we’ll cover some of the exercise protocols you can use to increase fat loss, and walk through a sample program that draws on many of these techniques.

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Tenets of my upcoming cutting program

Helmut Strebl
There are few leaner than Helmut Strebl!

Just three weeks or so now until the next weigh-in, and unless something changes between now and then, the plan is to up the density of my workouts and start a cut. Hence, my attention is slowly shifting to what that workout and diet will look like and how I’ll approach the overall process.

Based on what I’ve learned over the last year or so of training, here’s what I’m envisioning as the key tenets of my cutting regimen:

  • Build an enjoyable program
  • Focus on density
  • Eat as much as possible while still making progress
  • Minimize cardio

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How to approach a heavy bag workout

Female boxerI often Tweet about my heavy bag workouts, but I thought it would be worth clarifying exactly what I do out there. Why? Because my heavy bag workouts are often my one of my hardest and most grueling workouts of the week. But they haven’t always been, and it took time, practice and lots of experimentation to turn these workouts into 45 minutes of core-crunching, fat-burning wonderment.

Early workouts were basic. Hit the bag hard. A lot. For a long time. All that got me was bruised and bloodied knuckles, deep cramping in my hands, and soreness in my joints, especially the wrists, elbows and shoulders. Frankly, when I look back now, it’s a miracle I haven’t broken a hand or something — it’s certainly easier than you think!

Later, once I realized that simply pounding the bag was not the path, I switched to a sparring style workout with snappier punches and a lot more movement. And it was better, much better; but still a long way short of a grueling workout.

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The cost of progress

skinned knucklesThe problem with a weekend heavy-bag workout is that it’s easy to get carried away and go at it a little too hard! Especially when you throw an energizing playlist into the mix!

Today’s twelve-round slug-fest was hard in all sorts of ways, and adding abs and footwork into the rest intervals keeps the heart-rate elevated for the entire thirty minute workout. Unfortunately, despite using hand-wraps and good punching form, over twelve two-minute rounds, you will miss with a few punches, and that’s when the (wrong) knuckles can take a battering.

Still, a little skin lost is a reasonable investment in shifting that visceral body fat. You also get to release all your pent-up frustrations from the week past!

Closing thoughts: It never ceases to amaze me just how much harder music can push you in a workout. I have an awesome playlist that I listen to for cardio workouts and it can literally drive me to the point of exhaustion… and skinned knuckles! 

Not every workout will go to plan

MMA Heavy BagI worked from home today and didn’t have access to the gym. So that meant mixing things up and improvising with what I have at home… which isn’t much!

The “plan” was to unhitch the heavy-bag and go through a series of lifting, pulling, pressing movements with it as many times as possible in 20 minutes. This particular routine is more about metabolic stimulation than it is strength and conditioning…

Anyway, after setting-up and trying a few of the movements, I knew I’d miscalculated. On the downside, the “plan” went out the window within seconds as I quickly realized there was no way on earth I could complete the sequence as written. On the plus side, it turned out to be a grueling workout!

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