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Getting Svelt (Like a Boss): Part III – Lift It to Shift It

Lets go! The third and final piece of the Getting Svelt puzzle is ready to fall into place! Moving on swiftly before you notice the blatant absurdity of a three piece jigsaw (I was a slow child) this part of the series will deal with your future antics in the gym.
Okay I’ll get this out of the way right off the bat – running is shit. A little steady state cardio is fine (90 minutes MAX a week) but doing what most people prescribe usually amounts to 20 hours a week – that’s practically a part time job! Screw that. Despite the sheer amount of cardio most people do, they almost always end up looking exactly the same as they did before.
Constantly expending such a huge amount of energy can “teach” your metabolism to conserve as much energy as possible, and it does that by slowing the hell down. When your metabolism slows down your body ends up preserving as much energy as it can to survive the repeated and unrelenting stress you’re putting it through. The net effect being that your body gets really really good at using fat as fuel, so eventually uses next to none of it to fuel those marathon (literally) workout sessions. Thus no more fat loss.
Weights on the other hand, are fantastic. They’re basically the gift that keeps on giving you head. As well as the muscle building (i.e. the figure “shaping”) properties of weights, regular weight training has a whole range of benefits including the promotion of fat loss, positive effects on insulin resistance, helps to regulate blood pressure, and increased muscular strength and flexibility. Why wouldn’t you want all these things?
Going into the gym and knowing you can move an ass tonne of weight and look great doing it is awesome. A lot of the girls i know who lift weights are strong as hell, often more-so than a lot of guys I know who lift weights. Sometimes the male ego gets in the way of progress. Bless us.
By now we’ve established that too much cardio is bad, weights are very very good…and that’s all so far. Putting all this into practice is a whole other thing and most people get lost in a sea of fad equipment and “get abs in three minutes a day” swindles. Truthfully, there are no secret exercises or workouts or fitness regimes that get you results quicker than anything else. The things that work now are the things that have worked for men and women wanting to get in shape (and STAY there) for over a hundred years. That’s almost as long as Dave has been alive!

In short: Squats. Deadlifts. Pressing. Rowing. A little running. In shorts. (Check out this article on “The Big Four” for why these are the only exercises you need, and here for a demo of pendlay rows.)

That’s really the measure of it. No tricep kickbacks to burn off the bingo wings, nothing on a fucking bosu ball, and no powerplate in sight. Simples. As to the actual details of the program you plug those exercises into – just go with what you enjoy and stick with it for an extended period of time. Everything works. If you enjoy doing sets of ten, do sets of ten. If you enjoy doing sets of one, two, or three reps – do that. If you like a mix of things, mix it up!
Nobody is going to respond the same way to the same type of exercise so just getting out there and finding what you can make work for you is the whole point of taking up exercise in the first place. It’s a journey, and its a damned fun one!
There are some caveats to this “everything works” approach, however.
1) Good technique – you need to learn the proper way to do those exercises. Bad technique can lead to injuries or just hold back your progress. A qualified trainer is worth their weight in gold simply because fixing the damage done to our bodies by our sedentary, non-active modern lifestyles is no easy task. Most people will have weakness, inflexibility, or imbalances that might prevent them from doing an exercise properly even if they knew how! Spending time working with a trainer to get those things fixed and learn great movement patterns right off the bat sets you up for a whole lifetime of progress, and is a lot better than stalling a year down the line and being forced to start from scratch. Most people don’t want to hear this because it pushes their goal further and further away but trust me – it’s worth it in the long run.
2) Progression – Everything works, but nothing works forever. Your body is an incredible adaptive machine and will adapt to any given workload in the gym pretty quickly. A certain workout program might cause your body to adapt and lose some fat, but at a certain stage that same workout won’t provide the same stimulus to your body anymore – that adaptation has already happened. The way to get around this is progression – always striving to add more weight to the bar, do more reps with the same weight, or cut down your rest times. That’s just three, but you get the picture. So long as you’re progressing and upping the ante to keep the pressure on, the results should keep coming.
I’m sure I had a witty caption ready for this one.
The Program
SO! Finally we arrive here. The actual things you’ll be doing in the gym. This is a basic program but if you’re new to proper weight training or exercise in general you can probably expect to see steady results in terms of strength for up to a year or more, and the fat loss will be just as consistent as you are with the diet and training.
There are just two workouts in this program, and you can train between two and four times a week depending on your schedule. I’d recommend starting with twice a week for a few weeks and going from there – like i said before, everybody is different and can handle different amounts of exercise.
Workout A
1. Squats – 5×5
2. Pendlay Rows – 5×5
3. Hip Thrusts – 3×10
4. Cardio – 10:00 to 15:00
Workout B
1. Deadlifts – 5×5
2. Military Press – 5×5
3. Lunges – 3×10
4. Cardio – 10:00 to 15:00
For the first two exercises in each workout i want you to do the following:
  • Start with a light weight for the first set of five reps. This might be just the bar on its own. If the bar is too heavy use a training bar or even dumbells (a regular bar weights 20kg).
  • Each set add weight in the smallest increment possible – this is usually a 1.25kg plate per side.

  • When you get to the last set aim to get at least five reps, but as many as ten if you can. This might happen straight away or it might take a few workouts of adding a few reps each time – it doesn’t matter, this is progression!
  • Once you manage a full ten reps with your last (heaviest) set, start a little higher with your first set the next time that workout comes around (again, this will likely be 1.25kg more a side). 
  • Over time this will continually provide an increasing workload – and consistent results! It’ll probably be really really easy for the first month but that’s fine – it’ll give you plenty of time to get used to your diet and learn great technique on all your exercises before those final sets really become a challenge!
  • Your rest between sets should be long enough that you fully recover and don’t miss or fail any reps (you should always get at least five, even on the last set) but not so long that the session drags on. Usually between one and two minutes is fine.
For the third exercise in each workout do this:
  • Start with a weight that you can comfortably do for three sets of ten, and keep the same weight for all three sets.
  • Every workout increase the weight a little (progression, progression, progression!!!)
  • The rests can be a little shorter than your 5×5 stuff but again, maintaining good technique is paramount.
In terms of cardio, feel free to mix it up. If you’re feeling good do some sprinting or interval training, if you want to take it easy just do steady state light cardio, or even a little of both some days! Ten to fifteen minutes only though so make it count! This can be anything you like – treadmill, bike, swimming, crosstrainer. Whatever.
For example:
Workout A
1. Squats
5 x 40kg
5 x 42.5kg
5 x 45kg
5 x 47.5kg
8 x 50kg
2. Pendlay Rows
5 x 20kg
5 x 22.5kg
5 x 25kg
5 x 27.5kg
10 x 30kg
3. Hip Thrusts
3×10 x 40kg
4. Cardio (Treadmill)
5:00 Warmup
0:30 Sprint / 0:30 Walk x 5
3:00 Cooldown
So next time I’m in the gym I’ll do workout B, and when workout A comes around again I’ll keep my squat weights the same and go for nine or ten reps on that last set with 50kg. For the rows i got my full ten reps this time, so next time I’ll add 2.5kg to all the weights and see how many reps i can get with 32.5kg. For the hip thrusts I’ll try 3×10 with 42.5kg next time. I felt pretty good so after my weights i did five sprints. Simples!
Keep going like this for as long as it takes. Eventually you’ll stall, but when that happens you can either change programs completely, reduce the weight to about 80% of what you stalled on and start building again, or switch the exercise out for something different like Front Squats instead of Squats, for example. Don’t worry so much though because like i said, if you’re new to this and start really light you won’t stall for a long while! Maybe a whole year or more!
What to Expect
I know for a lot of people ready to embark on this plan it might be a new thing, and you won’t really know what to expect. Don’t worry, I didn’t either but it all worked out fine!
First off, you’re more than likely not trying to lose weight to get into a specific weight category for a sport so don’t use the scales as a measure of success or failure, instead use the scales as what they are – a measure. A cubic inch of muscle weighs more than a cubic inch of fat, and it’s wholly possible (and likely) that during this program you’ll lose some fat and put on a little muscle – the net effect being that you look slimmer, but weigh more. THIS IS NORMAL. If your ultimate goal is to look good measure your success by how you look, not how much you weigh!
That said, it’s important to weigh yourself a few times a week just to check what’s happening. Keep a log of it. Over a long period of time you should see an overall loss of weight despite putting on a little extra muscle (and looking awesomer). When fat loss kicks in you should be losing between one and three pounds a week maximum – any more than that is generally bad and you may have to eat slightly more.
At the start of any diet you may lose more than that for a short period of time, usually because of the loss of water associated with a lower carbohydrate intake. Don’t sweat this either, it’ll stabilize to 1-3lbs after the first few weeks and keep at that rate fairly steady.
At the start it’s also normal to feel a general fatigue, hunger, and uncontrollable urge to roll up a krispy kreme in a slice of pizza and stuff it in your mouth like a Tulisa sex-tape wannabe. These are perfectly normal sensations and should pass. Save that shit for your weekly cheat meal. This is just your body adapting to your new diet in terms of fuel sources and meal patterns and stuff.
 Okay it was a cheap shot. Shame on me.
This has been an absolutely gigantic series of articles, but if I’ve done my job right you should now be fully equipped to get exactly what you want out of the gym and your diet so the only thing left to do – is to fucking do it!

References/Further Reading (For all three parts of this series)

Caleb Stone “Leptin: The Next Big Thing (Part 2)”

Dave Carter “Get Ripped, Get Lean, Get Real”

Department of Health “Dietary Reference Values of Food Energy and Nutrients for the United Kingdom”
ISBN-10: 0113213972
ISBN-13: 978-0113213979

Gareth Tamplin “Strength for Newbies”

Jen Komas-Keck “Strong(her) University Part II: Nutrition 101″

Jim Wendler “The NOV Eating Plan – A Basic Outline”

John Kiefer “Logic Does Not Apply III: A Calorie is a Calorie”

John Kiefer, 2011 “Women: Running into Trouble”

Lyle McDonald “The Ultimate Diet 2.0″

MariAnne Anderson “MMMMM FAT!”

MariAnne Anderson “How to do Cardio if you Must!”

MariAnne Anderson “Keeping it Going: The Evolutionary Process of Fat Loss”

Massachusetts Institute of Technology “OPTIMIZING YOUR DIET: Best Foods for Specific Minerals”

Muscle Prodigy “Nutrition Tips for Female Athletes”

Robert H. Lustig “Sugar: The Bitter Truth”

Tom Venuto “How to Stop Muscle Loss While Dieting”

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