The Weekly Exercise Routine:
The overall training program I have developed is quite different from what most people would do I think. But that is because I tailored it to my personal goals... as should you. It is foolish to blindly follow a program that someone else designed if your own goals don't coincide with the predicted outcome of the program. With that said, if you are following the program that I am using, feel free to adjust any aspect of it to suit your goals.
One of my main goals is to drop body fat so I am going to try to maximize calorie burning both during my bodybuilding workouts and outside of them. No, I will not be using light weight and high repetitions; this is an ineffective method for anyone looking for a speedy body re-comp.
Lifting heavy weight is one of the best ways, if not the very best way, to burn fat while building/toning muscle. However, the usual bodybuilding routine is full of gaps for resting that could otherwise be used for calorie burning. So, what we do is slightly lower lifting intensity and volume, reduce resting periods, and perform the workout three days per week. Here is my workout:
- 100 jumping jacks
- 20 Mt. climbers
- 12 Burpees
- 20 Squats
- 10 Pushups
- 2x8-10 Barbell squat
- 2x8-10 Bench press superset with
2x8-10 Pull-up (add weight is necessary)
- 1x5-6 Barbell deadlift
- 1x8-10 Dumbbell 1-arm row superset with
2x8-10 Dumbbell shoulder press
- 1x12 Traveling barbell lunge
- 1x8-10 Dumbbell pullover superset with
1x8-10 Dumbbell biceps curl
- 1x15 Knuckle pushups superset with
1x12 Ab-Wheel rollouts
- 1x25 Twisting crunch
- 1x45 sec. Plank hold superset with
1x15 Frog leaps
This is what I do on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Resting between sets should be kept at 45-60 seconds. Also, I made it a point to intersperse lower body lifts with upper body lifts in order to keep the blood flowing and create more of a cardiovascular workout.
Some of the exercises are a little weird but they are specific to my needs.
Knuckle Pushups & Twisting Crunches
Knuckle pushups and 25 rep twisting crunches are in there solely because that is what we do at the end of every Kung Fu session. The knuckle pushups can be substituted with regular pushups if you can't tolerate the discomfort and the twisting crunch with any abdominal exercise.
With the twisting crunch exercise, you are crunching your elbow up to your opposite knee while simultaneously bringing that knee up to meet the elbow. And be sure to count each repetition in pairs.
In other words, each elbow must meet the opposite knee before you have 1 full rep. So, 25 reps becomes a total of 50 contractions.
Ab-Wheel & Plank Hold
The ab-wheel and plank hold are musts in my opinion, as they work the abs in a more physiologically correct form than the exercises that put you on your back.
Both ab-wheel and plank hold focus on abdominal stabilization which is what the abs are all about.
Frog leaps are a very challenging move, mixing aerobic and anaerobic strength. When doing frog leaps, attempt not only to jump far but also to jump high.
And keep in mind that one should try to land as softly as possible not only to spare the joints of the impact, but also because landing softly requires more muscular coordination and recruitment.
Lastly, the deadlift should be done with a heavy weight. To me, deadlifts are the ultimate anabolic lift to spur hormone release (anabolic and lipolytic), we keep this lift hardcore.
Obviously, weight lifting alone is not enough to burn all of the weekly calories that I must burn. I have therefore calculated the number of calories burned through additional activities.
I chose the activities I did in order to maximize variety and satisfy personal endeavors. Below is a break down of how many calories I burn through activity in a single week:
|Calories Burned In A Single Week|
Obviously, this is a very specific and tailored regimen. Let's take a look at some of the activities:
Dance Dance Revolution (DDR)
This is actually a video game I think some of you may have already heard of. Basically, arrows scroll by on a screen and the player must place their feet on the corresponding arrows on a "dance pad".
Don't you laugh! This can actually be a very challenging and fun way to burn calories.
The game has a rather high learning curve and one must be fairly good in order to play at a level that gets you sweating and breathing.
I find that the game not only provides a great cardiovascular workout, but also enhances ones visual reaction time. I prefer playing for 30 minutes before my first meal of the day.
Let's face it, most of us would be more embarrassed to admit to doing Tae Bo than to playing DDR. But Tae Bo can be one hell of a workout, especially if you get the right series. I have found that the best out is the Tae Bo Advanced routine 1 and 2. It is a great way to build speed and flexibility.
Tai Chi, Yoga, Kung Fu
These are the most important factors for me. Martial arts have been a hobby of mine for most of my life and is probably the most challenging and rewarding form of exercise I do. We all know that Kung Fu can be highly demanding on the body, but most people think
Yoga and Tai Chi are just for relaxing. Yes and no.
Certain forms of yoga can push a person to the limits of not only their flexibility but muscular endurance as well. Tai chi can do the same. When one must do complex movements precisely in a slow and ultra controlled fashion, you feel your muscles working in ways you aren't used to.
Suddenly, doing what appears to be nothing more than floating around and waving your arms causes you to break into a full body sweat.
What's most beautiful though is that in the end, instead of feeling wiped out, you feel rejuvenated. You become focused and calm yet lively. Needless to say, I support the study of these arts for everyone's lifestyle.
Okay, so I'm burning 7081 calories per week in accounted-for activity. I've easily surpassed my goal of 6622 calories. Furthermore, this does not even include the calorie toll of basic daily movements like shopping, cooking, etc.
Also, I have been occasionally adding an extra mile to my runs and get involved in various sports like street hockey. With that in mind, I can easily assume that I'm burning more than I need to per week. I fully did not expect that. This revelation leads me to a new idea. I must amend my diet.
The Diet Amendment:
Soon after week one I was shown the powerful way in which the body can adapt. I could feel myself slowing down due to lack of calorie intake. My metabolism was compensating for what it thought was a starvation period. This is the kind of thing a dieter wants to avoid at all costs.
Going into starvation mode will make it hard to lose weight even when consuming insanely low amounts of food. And the longer you're on it, the harder it becomes to escape.
Weaving around this obstacle requires only a simple trick: zig-zig dieting.
I'm sure you've heard of it. But don't underestimate its power, especially in the face of an ultra low calorie diet. All we need to do is eat an extra 500 calories or so on every 3rd day. This will not only give us an energy boost for gym performance, but also tell the body that all is well and nobody is starving.
Since my diet already has enough protein, I make this extra 500 calories come from complex, low-GI carbs and healthy fats; about 300 calories from carbs and 200 from fats.
This little change will actually do a lot in terms of aiding performance (the carbs provide energy), and enhancing fat loss (eating fat helps burn fat and supports hormone production).
More On Supplements
This is definitely the 800 pound gorilla when it comes to fat burning and energy/well being enhancement. It has been shown to positively affect the metabolism as well as provide antioxidant support.
Green Tea supplements should be standardized for EGCG and you should aim for 250-1000mg of EGCG per day. Going over 1000mg will not increase fat burning. The fat burning effects of EGCG are greatly enhanced by caffeine.
This herb has adaptogenic qualities which can come in handy while dieting or training heavily. Adaptogens can help the body adapt to stressful situations therefore allowing one to continue training at full power without overtraining.
Rhodiola is specifically known for its ability to boost mood and sense of well-being which can be very helpful when trying to resist eating sugar and fat laden snacks.
Rhodiola directly helps fat loss by activating adipose lipase which will help stimulate the release of stored fatty acids into the bloodstream for burning.
Bacopa is another adaptogenic herb from Ayurvedic medicine which is most well known for its ability to improve cognition and promote a feeling of calm wellness which is useful when using strong stimulants like caffeine, ephedrine, or tyramine. Studies have also shown it to have strong antioxidant and stress reducing qualities.
Traditionally applications show that Bacopa can be used to enhance concentration (among other things) by improving nerve impulse transmission which will indirectly lead to improved strength and athletic performance.
It may also have applications in fat loss due to its ability to normalize low thyroid levels. Furthermore, very high dosages of Bacopa extract may significantly increase T4 output which can lead to increased weight loss.
A New Body, A New Mind
We don't discover what truly makes us human until relinquishing luxury. To meet a challenge in every moment is to find victory in every breath. With this outlook, I can confidently approach the difficulties of my current plan as well as those inherent in everyday life.
I allow the discipline necessary to perform well athletically, to transcend context, and be a part of everything I do.
In this way, my diet and workouts become much more important to every hour of my life. This allows me to give it my all, to push myself in ways I would've never done had I simply looked upon that heavy squat as just another lift among many.
No, it can be much more. Let the building of the muscles of your body translate into the strength of your soul.
When you get right down to it, we are not obligated to do anything. We can simply lie down and die. What we do is decide to be obligated, usually to things that deep down we understand must be done, but we don't really want to do them. Is that how you see nutrition and fitness? If so, then you will never succeed.
One must exercise to the fullest. Be obligated to nothing. See the value in everything you do, decide that it is something you want to do and therefore must do, and even mundane tasks will become meaningful and joyous. Strive... no... thirst for excellence in the challenge of every moment. Suddenly it will become unnecessary to obligate yourself.
I started this program on August 10 and planned to cut for 3 weeks which would have me end on August 31. But I believe in living life to its fullest and adjusting schedules; this is no big deal when done to accommodate for special events.
With that said, the last 4 days or so have been spent celebrating and saying farewell to my good friend Angela (who at 5'1" and a ripped 120 lbs., can deadlift over 300) who is going overseas to study.
Needless to say, I partied, missed a workout and ate a little junk food. And although the damage done on those days to my cutting really wasn't all that bad, I'm going to add an extra week of cutting just in case.
So on September 7th I will officially end my cutting and begin the transition into a lean bulk. My next update will be at that time and outline how I plan to meet what was considered by the Greeks to be the perfect human form. Just what was that? I will tell you in part 4 of Going Full Circle.
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