Having It All!

In almost any case people who experience astounding success are not utilizing common herd methods, and neither should you. Learn the secrets on how to get ripped!
Conventional wisdom says that a significant loss in strength is inevitable while dieting and/or pursuing body composition training. However, my experience has shown that "conventional" approaches rarely lead to World-class results in any field of endeavor. In almost any case people who experience astounding success are not utilizing "common herd" methods, and neither should you.

Is Strength Loss Inevitable While Cutting?

Invariably, the number one reason that most people become weak as kittens during cutting phases is that they completely discontinue strength training while in final stages of contest preparation.

Allowing a physical quality to complete erode after spending many weeks developing it is perhaps the biggest mistake all athletes make. After all, if a quality (such as maximal strength) is important enough to spend many weeks to develop, isn't it important enough to maintain it? The answer is certainly "yes." And in this article I'll show you exactly how to do it.

What If I Don't Care How Strong I Am?

You should. Fat-loss protocols, when poorly conceived and/or improperly administered, carry the potential of lean tissue losses. One of the best ways to both prevent and monitor for this undesirable state is to regularly perform a handful of "big" exercises that recruit large muscular regions. If you strength on these exercises stays high during your cutting phase, you're reasonably well assured that you're keeping your muscle as you drop bodyfat. Using maximal strength loading parameters for these exercises also helps to maintain, and in many cases, increase, type IIB fiber hypertrophy during cutting phases

Here's The Goods:

In essence, what we'll do is to position high-efficiency maximal strength loading sessions immediately prior to higher volume training which creates an intense demand on the metabolic and endocrine systems, triggering fat oxidation and muscular hypertrophy. Later on, during a "mass" cycle, the strength you maintained will serve you well as you hit the weights hard and heavy.

OK, let's get to the meat and potatoes.

Training frequency is three times per microcycle. In the example I provide here, a microcycle is one week. This may not exactly wet the palate of those of you who rely on their gym time for dating purposes, but I'll assume that your training goals supersede your social needs for now.

Each workout will consists of a "core" exercise, and a then a circuit. You'll use three core exercises and two circuits.

Core Exercise Selection

You'll select three multi-joint exercises that represent a large percentage of the body's total muscle mass with minimal redundancy. One example might be the squat, pull-up and bench press. Another might be the deadlift, dips, and rows. In the example below, I use explosive high pulls, squats, and bench presses.

Designing The Circuits

Each circuit represents half of the body's muscles. I designated muscle groups into the following two circuits (kind of like making two "piles" of muscle groups):

Note: To learn more about the body part exercises, click on the name!

"A" Circuit:

"B" Circuit:

When choosing the exact circuit exercises to use, base your choices on eliminating weaknesses. For example, if your bench press seems to be limited by poor tricep strength, choose exercises that will be instrumental in addressing that weak link. If you're an athlete and/or physical performance is important, lean toward free weight exercises. If body comp is your only goal, machines are fine also.

Here's a skeleton outline of the first two microcycles for the example I've provided here:

Day Core Circuit
Week One
Monday High Pull A
Wednesday Bench B
Friday Squat A
Week Two
Monday High Pull B
Wednesday Bench A
Friday Squat B

As you can see, you'll train for a full two weeks without ever repeating the same workout. Yet at the same time, there is a significant amount of continuity, which is critical for strength maintenance. An additional interesting aspect of this program is another unique rhythm that takes place: muscles used in the three core lifts are trained three times on week one, and then only once on week two, etc. All other muscles are trained twice on week one, once on week two, etc.

Understanding The EDT Workouts

Loading Parameters For Core Exercises: First perform 4-6 sets with progressively heavier weights until you reach 80% to 90% of your current 1RM for the exercise. This process should take 10-12 minutes depending on the exercise and how strong you are. Next, set your stopwatch for 15 minutes and perform 10 singles with your chosen working weight in the 15-minute PR Zone. Each time you repeat the same workout, try to beat the total number of singles you can achieve in the 10 Minute PR Zone. If you manage 12 or more reps in 15 minutes, increase the load by 5 percent the next time you repeat that workout and start over. We'll be using speed, rather than load, to create maximal tension for the working muscles, so it's critical to perform the concentric aspect of each rep as fast as humanly possible (preferably faster).

Loading Parameters For The Circuits:

For those not yet familiar with EDT's unique loading parameters, here are the essentials:

  • Escalating Density Training is based on the concept of doing more and more work from workout to workout. Therefore, it's critical that your exercise biomechanics (i.e., technique) is consistent on every workout. If you perform strict curls on one workout and loose form the next, you aren't really doing more work (for the arms at least!)
  • I recommend 10-15 minutes of light to moderate cardio, followed by 10-15 minutes of light stretching on "off" days for the purpose of promoting active recovery and reducing soreness.
  • Each workout in this cycle consists of (3) PR Zones of 15-minutes duration separated by a short (5-minute) rest periods. In each PR Zone, you'll generally perform two exercises, for a total of 3-4 exercises per workout.
  • In each PR Zone, you'll typically perform two antagonistic exercises in alternating fashion, back and forth, using the same weight for all sets, until the PR Zone has elapsed.
  • After warming up the first exercise(s), select a load that approximates a 10RM for each exercise. Ideally, the weight used for each exercise should be equally difficult.
  • Sets/Reps/Rest Intervals: This is where EDT is truly unique. Most people will find it most productive to do higher repetition (but not maximal effort) sets and shorter rests at the beginning, and then gradually progress to fewer reps per set and longer rest intervals as fatigue accumulates. As an example, you might begin by performing sets of 5 with very short (10-15 second) rests. As you begin to fatigue, you'll increase your rest intervals as you drop down to sets of 4, then 2, and as the time limit approaches, you might crank out a few singles in an effort of accomplish as many repetitions as possible in the time allotted.
  • NOTE: Do not perform early sets to failure, or even near failure. My recommended starting point is to do 1/2 of what is possible (e.g., 5 reps with a 10RM weight) at the beginning of the time frame. As the time limit approaches however, you'll find yourself working at or near failure as you attempt to break your rep record.
  • Progression: Each time you repeat the workout; your objective is to simply perform more total repetitions in the same time frame. As soon as you can increase the total number of reps by 20 percent or more, start the next workout with 5 percent more weight and start over. Similarly, if you manage to improve upon your last performance (for the same workout) by 40 percent, then you'll increase your weights by 10 percent on the next workout.

Now, The Program:

I've provided you with a full month's worth of training here. In some cases, I've listed a few exercise alternatives. Make the program fit you rather than vice-versa. In other words, if any of the exercises presented here are contraindicated due to safety concerns, equipment limitations, or other reasons, go ahead and make a substitution. As long as you preserve the fundamental structure of the cycle, you'll be fine.

Enjoy the program, and remember, you CAN be as strong as you look.

Week One

Monday

    A) High Pull
    B) "A" Circuit

First PR Zone (15 Minutes)
1. (Hamstrings): Glute-Ham-Gastroc Raise, Back Extension, or Reverse Hyper
2. (Lats): Chin-up, Pull-up, Or T-Bar Row

Second PR Zone (15 Minutes)
3. (Triceps): Lying Dumbbell or EZ-Bar Triceps Extension
4. (Gastrocs): Jumps in Place (use dumbbells for added resistance)

Rest: 5 Minutes

Third PR Zone (15 Minutes)
5. (Rectus Abdominus): Hanging Pikes or Prone Ball Rolls
6. (Grip Strength): Straight Bar or EZ-Bar Reverse Curl

Wednesday

    A) Bench Press
    B) "B" Circuit

First PR Zone (15 Minutes)
1. (Quads): Decline Step-up (Right)
2. (Quads): Decline Step-up (Left)

Rest: 5 Minutes

Second PR Zone (15 Minutes)
3. (Pecs): Incline Dumbbell Press
4. (Biceps): Dumbbell Preacher Curl

Rest: 5 Minutes

Third PR Zone (15 Minutes)
5. (Soleus): Seated Calf Raise
6. (Obliques): Russian Twist

Friday

    A) Squat
    B) "A" Circuit

First PR Zone (15 Minutes)
1. (Hamstrings): Glute-Ham-Gastroc Raise, Back Extension, or Reverse Hyper
2. (Lats): Chin-up, Pull-up, Or T-Bar Row

Second PR Zone (15 Minutes)
3. (Triceps): Lying Dumbbell or EZ-Bar Triceps Extension
4. (Gastrocs): Jumps in Place (use dumbbells for added resistance)

Rest: 5 Minutes

Third PR Zone (15 Minutes)
5. (Rectus Abdominus): Hanging Pikes or Prone Ball Rolls
6. (Grip Strength): Straight Bar or EZ-Bar Reverse Curl

Click Here For A Printable Version Of Week One!

Week Two

Monday

    A) High Pull
    B) "B" Circuit

First PR Zone (15 Minutes)
1. (Quads): Decline Step-up (Right)
2. (Quads): Decline Step-up (Left)

Rest: 5 Minutes

Second PR Zone (15 Minutes)
3. (Pecs): Incline Dumbbell Press
4. (Biceps): Dumbbell Preacher Curl

Rest: 5 Minutes

Third PR Zone (15 Minutes)
5. (Soleus): Seated Calf Raise
6. (Obliques): Russian Twist

Wednesday

    A) Bench Press
    B) "A" Circuit

First PR Zone (15 Minutes)
1. (Hamstrings): Glute-Ham-Gastroc Raise, Back Extension, or Reverse Hyper
2. (Lats): Chin-up, Pull-up, Or T-Bar Row

Second PR Zone (15 Minutes)
3. (Triceps): Lying Dumbbell or EZ-Bar Triceps Extension
4. (Gastrocs): Jumps in Place (use dumbbells for added resistance)

Rest: 5 Minutes

Third PR Zone (15 Minutes)
5. (Rectus Abdominus): Hanging Pikes or Prone Ball Rolls
6. (Grip Strength): Straight Bar or EZ-Bar Reverse Curl

Friday

    A) Squat
    B) "B" Circuit

First PR Zone (15 Minutes)
1. (Quads): Decline Step-up (Right)
2. (Quads): Decline Step-up (Left)

Rest: 5 Minutes

Second PR Zone (15 Minutes)
3. (Pecs): Incline Dumbbell Press
4. (Biceps): Dumbbell Preacher Curl

Rest: 5 Minutes

Third PR Zone (15 Minutes)
5. (Soleus): Seated Calf Raise
6. (Obliques): Russian Twist

Click Here For A Printable Version Of Week Two!

Week Three

Monday

    A) High Pull
    B) "A" Circuit

First PR Zone (15 Minutes)
1. (Hamstrings): Glute-Ham-Gastroc Raise, Back Extension, or Reverse Hyper
2. (Lats): Chin-up, Pull-up, Or T-Bar Row

Second PR Zone (15 Minutes)
3. (Triceps): Lying Dumbbell or EZ-Bar Triceps Extension
4. (Gastrocs): Jumps in Place (use dumbbells for added resistance)

Rest: 5 Minutes

Third PR Zone (15 Minutes)
5. (Rectus Abdominus): Hanging Pikes or Prone Ball Rolls
6. (Grip Strength): Straight Bar or EZ-Bar Reverse Curl

Wednesday

    A) Bench Press
    B) "B" Circuit

First PR Zone (15 Minutes)
1. (Quads): Decline Step-up (Right)
2. (Quads): Decline Step-up (Left)

Rest: 5 Minutes

Second PR Zone (15 Minutes)
3. (Pecs): Incline Dumbbell Press
4. (Biceps): Dumbbell Preacher Curl

Rest: 5 Minutes

Third PR Zone (15 Minutes)
5. (Soleus): Seated Calf Raise
6. (Obliques): Russian Twist

Friday

    A) Squat
    B) "A" Circuit

First PR Zone (15 Minutes)
1. (Hamstrings): Glute-Ham-Gastroc Raise, Back Extension, or Reverse Hyper
2. (Lats): Chin-up, Pull-up, Or T-Bar Row

Second PR Zone (15 Minutes)
3. (Triceps): Lying Dumbbell or EZ-Bar Triceps Extension
4. (Gastrocs): Jumps in Place (use dumbbells for added resistance)

Rest: 5 Minutes

Third PR Zone (15 Minutes)
5. (Rectus Abdominus): Hanging Pikes or Prone Ball Rolls
6. (Grip Strength): Straight Bar or EZ-Bar Reverse Curl

Click Here For A Printable Version Of Week Three!

Week Four

Monday

    A) High Pull
    B) "B" Circuit

First PR Zone (15 Minutes)
1. (Quads): Decline Step-up (Right)
2. (Quads): Decline Step-up (Left)

Rest: 5 Minutes

Second PR Zone (15 Minutes)
3. (Pecs): Incline Dumbbell Press
4. (Biceps): Dumbbell Preacher Curl

Rest: 5 Minutes

Third PR Zone (15 Minutes)
5. (Soleus): Seated Calf Raise
6. (Obliques): Russian Twist

Wednesday

    A) Bench Press
    B) "A" Circuit

First PR Zone (15 Minutes)
1. (Hamstrings): Glute-Ham-Gastroc Raise, Back Extension, or Reverse Hyper
2. (Lats): Chin-up, Pull-up, Or T-Bar Row

Second PR Zone (15 Minutes)
3. (Triceps): Lying Dumbbell or EZ-Bar Triceps Extension
4. (Gastrocs): Jumps in Place (use dumbbells for added resistance)

Rest: 5 Minutes

Third PR Zone (15 Minutes)
5. (Rectus Abdominus): Hanging Pikes or Prone Ball Rolls
6. (Grip Strength): Straight Bar or EZ-Bar Reverse Curl

Friday

    A) Squat
    B) "B" Circuit

First PR Zone (15 Minutes)
1. (Quads): Decline Step-up (Right)
2. (Quads): Decline Step-up (Left)

Rest: 5 Minutes

Second PR Zone (15 Minutes)
3. (Pecs): Incline Dumbbell Press
4. (Biceps): Dumbbell Preacher Curl

Rest: 5 Minutes

Third PR Zone (15 Minutes)
5. (Soleus): Seated Calf Raise
6. (Obliques): Russian Twist

Click Here For A Printable Version Of Week Four!

NOTE: Many of these exercises are described in our exercises database.

Charles Staley is known as the "Secret Weapon" by his Olympic and Professional athletes for his ability to see what other coaches miss. When the elite of the sports world want innovative, "out-of-the-box" solutions in their quest to reach World-class levels of performance, they come to Charles.

Coach Staley also publishes a free online newsletter featuring the latest in advanced training techniques as well as a private coaching group of physicians, sport coaches, personal trainers, athletes, and everyday people seeking enhanced physical performance and physique transformation. For more information, please visit www.EDTSecrets.com or call 800.519.2492.

Don't forget! READ COACH STALEY'S NEW BOOK! Check out The Ultimate Guide To Massive Arms at: EDTSecrets.com!

Charles Staley is a sports conditioning specialist and director of Integrated Sport Solutions in Las Vegas, Nevada. A former martial arts competitor and trainer, Staley is also an Olympic weightlifting coach, as well as a master's level track and field competitor (discus event). He has coached elite athletes from many sports, including martial arts, luge, boxing, track & field, bobsled, football, Olympic weightlifting, and bodybuilding. Staley has written hundreds of published articles, and has lectured extensively on the topics of human performance and sport training.