Beyond Ripped, Part 2: Enter The Shredded Zone This Summer - The Training!

Should you alter your training when trying to get lean or should you keep it the same? Is intense cardio better than low-impact? Here's an article that will answer your training questions on your quest to find The Shredded Zone.

Part 1 | Part 2

Should you alter your training when trying to get lean or should you keep it the same? Is intense cardio better than low-impact? Here's an article that will answer your training questions on your quest to find The Shredded Zone.


Ask any bodybuilder who competed in the late 70s or 80s about what you needed to do for pre-contest training. The answer was always to increase your reps, increase your sets, increase your intensity by decreasing the amount of rest between sets and train everything more frequently.

Reps needed to be in the 12- to 15-rep range or higher and they could no longer be in the 6-10 range. In short, you had to train a lot more, a lot longer and a lot faster.

The theory behind this thinking was that you needed to increase everything to burn more calories so you could really cut up. Higher reps were thought to burn in definition and low reps were only for power and strength. Sadly, many people still believe this.

Walk into almost any gym or club in America and trainers will have clients sitting on huge rubber balls while holding extremely light dumbbells and make them do 20-25 reps "because high reps are for definition." Make no mistake about it.

Diet and cardio exercise will burn off the fat; build muscle with weight lifting. The absence of body fat reveals definition. Do not waste your time doing high reps trying to gain definition.

I've let you in on a big secret. Lifting heavy weights builds muscle and cardio exercise helps you burn fat. Keep the two types of exercise separate. Whatever weight training helped you gain muscle in the off season, helps you build (or maintain) muscle during the pre-contest phase of dieting.

Most likely you have been doing heavy compound exercises with rep ranges between 4-and-8 to gain size and strength. Keep focusing on the compound exercises during pre-contest too so you can keep your size. Don't switch to cables with high reps or dumbbell curls with pansy weights for 1,200 reps just because you read some other pro does that.

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How Sweet Is A Six-Pack?!

Week #14 - 6/13/2006
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Always train to build muscle. (For safety's sake, however, keep the reps above six so the injury factor is not as great. You don't need to pull a hamstring two weeks out from your show because I or someone else said to train heavy. Use common sense, which could be interpreted by some, as the Instinctive Principle).

Sample Workout:


Do your weight workouts in the evening after your workday. Do cardio sessions first thing in the morning. It can be debated until we have a 10-time consecutive Mr. Olympia, but not everyone agrees that early-morning cardio burns fat quicker if it's done on an empty stomach.

Here's my suggestion: try it. If you don't like it and feel really nauseous have a protein drink and some BCAA's and then do your cardio. Personally I like getting up and hopping on the bike without bothering to mix up anything or getting something to eat. It's a matter of convenience and if does actually burn more fat that way, I get a bonus.

When Is The Best Time To Do Cardio? When Is The Best Time To Do Cardio?
Some people wake up at 4 a.m. just to do their cardio. Then later in the day they do their weightlifting routine. Others do their cardio before or after their workout routine. Some run at midnight to avoid heat.
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What if you can only get to the gym before work? Well, let me see, you could quit your job or hit the weights early in the morning. Yeah, that could work. Do cardio at night. It doesn't matter. Just fit it in. I recommend a few hours between weight lifting and cardio sessions so your glycogen levels are built back up immediately after a workout.

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Just Fit It In.

If you do cardio before weights, you're tired and can't train as heavy. The important thing to remember, above all else, is to just fit it in. Poorly placed cardio is a lot better than no cardio at all.

Here's another question: Should I do high-intensity cardio for shorter periods or low-intensity for shorter periods? Hmmm ... why not do high-intensity for a couple days and then low-intensity cardio for a couple days? Many bodybuilders think cardio is boring anyway, so why not mix it up a bit and make it interesting?

Add variety to keep motivated to stick with it. Have a little fun so you don't dread doing it as much. The Barbarian Brothers used to have a rule they trained by. They used to do everything when it came to sets and reps schemes and combinations. "Something's bound to work!" I think that really holds true for cardio. If you do enough of it, something's bound to work.

Cardio Super Feature! Cardio Super Feature!
We have put together this feature so that you may reach all of your health and fat loss goals and it comes straight from the professionals.
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Cardio Example:

  • Monday: 30 minutes of medium intensity cardio
  • Tuesday: 20 minutes of high-intensity cardio
  • Wednesday: 20 minutes of high-intensity cardio
  • Thursday: 45 minutes of low-intensity cardio
  • Friday: 30 minutes of medium intensity cardio
  • Saturday: 60 minutes of low-intensity cardio
  • Sunday: 60 minutes of low-intensity cardio
  • With one month to go, you might need to add a second cardio session per day to lean out even more. It all depends on how you're progressing. If you still need to lose a few pounds, add another session a few days per week.

    If you're looking really cut and you're afraid of losing muscle, do not do the extra cardio. You have to decide for yourself if you need it or not. Everyone's different. You might need it; you might not.

Back To The Diet

In Part One I explained cycling carbs. Continue cycling low- and high-carbohydrate days. After week 8, try a few days of going 4 days of low-to-zero carbs before carbing back up. Keep eating lots of veggies and keep your protein consumption high. Eliminate cheat days at about week 9.

High Carbs Or Low Carbs? Why Not Both? High Carbs Or Low Carbs? Why Not Both?
We'll analyze a few popular plans to see what's available and then take an unusual approach by combining the good points of each and developing a plan somewhere in the middle.
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At this point you may have one cheat meal about every 10 days. It's good for you mentally. The break is a welcome relief for many. On the other hand, a cheat meal at this time would freak some people out and feel like they're totally blowing the diet. If you feel you don't need a cheat meal, don't eat one. Eat a few more calories of clean foods then.

If you're on target as you get closer to the contest, (or beach season as the case might be) it's a good idea to increase your carb intake. It won't be necessary to go down to zero carbs on low-carb days. Keep them at around 100 grams for your low days.

Again, it all depends on how you're progressing. If you're at 4-5% body fat with one month to go, the extra carbs will prevent you from losing too much muscle. If all your body fat is gone, you have nothing to lose but muscle. Monitor it closely and add a few carbs to your diet when needed.


After completing a diet and exercise plan like this for 12-15 weeks, you'll be ready to take the stage or hit the beach. If your goal was looking good for the summer season, you'll be ready. If you want to take it one level more and kick it up a notch, you can read about the final week of contest prep in Part 3. Good luck and train hard!

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You'll Be Ready.

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