It should come as no surprise when I tell you that people waste time in the gym. It's kind of like me saying, "Britney Spears is the world's worst mother." Not only are both statements true, they're understatements. (Let's be honest, the inside of a shark's mouth would make a better mother than Britney Spears.)

One of the first things I try to instill into the minds of my new clients is the difference between "working out" and "training." The majority of the people in the gym work out; they don't train.

I can't help but think of Jeff Foxworthy and his "you might be a redneck" comedy routine when I think of what most people do in the gym.

You Might Be "Working Out" If:

  1. You send text messages in between your sets. Unless you're a brain surgeon or Reggie Jackson (who was actually in my gym not too long ago on his cell phone), put away your phone. For Pete's sake, you can live without it for an hour!
  2. You're working with a trainer and you can actually hold a conversation during your set. I see this a lot and it really irritates me.
  3. You drive 30 minutes to the gym to walk on a treadmill.
  4. You complain when you get a callous on your hand.
  5. You even touch the leg curl machine.

Someone who "works out" heads to the gym with no clear goal in mind and tends to waste valuable training time. These are the people who look the same now as they did three years ago.

Conversely, someone who "trains" is on a mission; they don't pussyfoot around when it comes to their gym time. They get in, get shit done, and leave. Whether it's attempting to break a deadlift personal record that day or just trying to get leaner, they always have a goal in mind and their training reflects that goal.

The program that follows definitely falls into the "training" category. Get ready.

What's the Goal of this Program?

In short, it's going to kick your ass. And as a side effect, you'll probably shed some fat and get a little stronger to boot, which is what most people are generally looking for anyways.

What You'll Need

  1. A stop watch
  2. One die (that singular for "dice" in case you didn't know)
  3. Easy access to a puke bucket

First, A Brief Rant

Most people don't train with enough intensity, and there's a big difference between intensity and intensiveness.

Intensity: Level of muscular activity that can be quantified in terms of power (work performed per unit of time). In other words, the closer one "works" to their 1RM (one repetition maximum), the higher the "intensity" of the exercise.

Intensiveness: High level or degree; the property of being intense.

By definition, training at a high intensity involves training with lower rep schemes (about 3-6 reps). Where does it say that three sets of ten is the "holy grail" of set/rep schemes? It's unfortunate because I still come across people who've been training for several years who are still using the same weights they used back when they first started!

These are the same people who'll continue to accumulate fatigue (adding more and more volume using sub-maximal weights) and overtrain faster than Lindsay Lohan can enter another rehab clinic. One hour in the gym four times per week becomes two hours in the gym six days per week. They end up spinning their wheels and not making any progress for months on end, sometimes years.

Fatigue will always mask one's true fitness level. In essence, mistaking intensiveness for intensity will reap suboptimal results/progress in the long run.

What's the Point?

The point is there's a lot to be said about including some good ol' fashioned strength training in a "fat loss" type program such as this one. Many trainees miss the boat in this regard.

What makes muscle, keeps muscle. This is why I like the idea of splitting training sessions into two parts: one half dedicated to strength training, the other half dedicated to metabolic conditioning.

The Program

Monday

Strength Component

  Week 1 Week 2  
Exercise Sets Reps Sets Reps Rest
A1. Deadlift Variation 4 6 4 6 60-90 sec.
A2. Pull - Ups 4 6 4 6 60-90 sec.
  Week 3 Week 4  
Exercise Sets Reps Sets Reps Rest
A1. Deadlift Variation 5 5 5 5 60-90 sec.
A2. Pull - Ups 5 5 5 5 60-90 sec.

Notes:

Perform A1, rest for suggested time, then perform A2. The rest interval is just a recommendation. While most will probably be ready after 60-90 seconds (maybe sooner), feel free to take more time if needed, but I wouldn't go more than 120 seconds.

If you can't perform the required number of reps with your own body weight with pull-ups, use bands for some accommodating resistance. Add some external resistance if you can perform more than the required number of reps with your own body weight.

Metabolic Component

  Week 1 Week 2  
Exercise Sets Reps Sets Reps Rest
A1. Alternate Incline DB Press 3 30 sec 3 32 sec None
A2. ** Bulgarian Split Squats 3 30 sec 3 32 sec Depends
B1. Seated Rows 4 30 sec 4 32 sec None
B2. Planks 4 30 sec 4 32 sec Depends
  Week 3 Week 4  
Exercise Sets Reps Sets Reps Rest
A1. Alternate Incline DB Press 3 34 sec 3 36 sec None
A2. ** Bulgarian Split Squats 3 34 sec 3 36 sec Depends
B1. Seated Rows 4 34 sec 4 36 sec None
B2. Planks 4 34 sec 4 36 sec Depends

Notes:

This is where you'll put that stopwatch to use. Set the timer for the required amount of time and perform that movement until the beeper goes off.

The important thing to remember is to use proper form and don't be too concerned with number of reps. Most will fall in the 12-15 (maybe 20) rep range. Don't be scared to use a "challenging" weight. This shouldn't be too easy where you're able to bust out 25+ reps.

Example: Perform A1, with no rest go right into A2, then rest for the same amount of time it took you to perform the set. Repeat. Week #1 = 30 seconds, week #2 = 32 seconds, etc.

** Whenever you see a unilateral (one limb) movement, you can rest between sides. For example, with Bulgarian split squats you'd perform the right leg for 30 seconds (in week #1), rest for a bit, then perform the movement on the other side for the same amount of time.

Tuesday

Light recovery day. Additional mobility work and 15-20 minutes of low intensity cardio.

Wednesday

Strength Component

  Week 1 Week 2  
Exercise Sets Reps Sets Reps Rest
A1. Bench Press Variation 4 6 4 6 60-90 sec.
A2. Barbell Reverse Lunge (Front Squat Grip) 4 6 per leg 4 6 per leg 60-90 sec.
  Week 3 Week 4  
Exercise Sets Reps Sets Reps Rest
A1. Bench Press Variation 5 5 5 5 60-90 sec.
A2. Barbell Reverse Lunge (Front Squat Grip) 5 5 per leg 5 5 per leg 60-90 sec.

Perform A1, rest for suggested time, then perform A2.

Metabolic Component

  Week 1 Week 2  
Exercise Sets Reps Sets Reps Rest
A1. Pull - Through 3 30 sec 3 32 sec None
A2. ** DB Row 3 30 sec 3 32 sec Depends
B1. Kneeling Scarecrow 3 30 sec 3 32 sec None
B2. Pallof Press 3 30 sec 3 32 sec Depends
  Week 3 Week 4  
Exercise Sets Reps Sets Reps Rest
A1. Pull - Through 3 34 sec 3 36 sec None
A2. ** DB Row 3 34 sec 3 36 sec Depends
B1. Kneeling Scarecrow 3 34 sec 3 36 sec None
B2. Pallof Press 3 34 sec 3 36 sec Depends

Example: Perform A1, with no rest go right into A2, then rest for the same amount of time it took you to perform the set. Repeat. Week #1 = 30 seconds, week #2 = 32 seconds, etc.

** Again, whenever you see a unilateral movement, you can rest between sides. For example, with dumbbell rows you'd perform one side for 30 seconds (in week #1), rest, then perform the movement on the other side for the same amount of time.

Thursday

Light recovery day. Additional mobility work and 15-20 minutes of low intensity cardio.

Friday

Strength Component

  Week 1 Week 2  
Exercise Sets Reps Sets Reps Rest
A1. Squat Variation 4 6 4 6 60-90 sec.
A2. Chest - Supported Row 4 6 4 6 60-90 sec.
  Week 3 Week 4  
Exercise Sets Reps Sets Reps Rest
A1. Squat Variation 5 5 5 5 60-90 sec.
A2. Chest - Supported Row 5 5 5 5 60-90 sec.

Metabolic Component

  Week 1 Week 2  
Exercise Sets Reps Sets Reps Rest
A1. Walking Lunges 3 30 sec 3 32 sec None
A2. 1 - Arm Push Press 3 30 sec 3 32 sec Depends
B1. Band Resisted Push - Ups 4 30 sec 4 32 sec None
B2. Reverse Crunches 4 30 sec 4 32 sec Depends
  Week 3 Week 4  
Exercise Sets Reps Sets Reps Rest
A1. Walking Lunges 3 34 sec 3 36 sec None
A2. 1 - Arm Push Press 3 34 sec 3 36 sec Depends
B1. Band Resisted Push - Ups 4 34 sec 4 36 sec None
B2. Reverse Crunches 4 34 sec 4 36 sec Depends

5-15 Minute Finishers

Using a die (from the school of Dan John), give it a roll and whatever number you end up rolling is what you perform to finish off your training session for that day.

Roll a One: Interval Build Up Running (IBUR)

Popularized by Christian Thibaudeau, this is one of my favorite methods of improving conditioning levels. Ideally you'd want to go to a track and actually sprint and jog/walk, but since most people don't have access to a track you can use any form of cardio equipment as a substitute (I like the old school Precor Trainers or Arc Trainer for this).

Here's an example:

Roll a Two: Medicine Ball Circuit

Grab yourself a medicine ball and perform:

10 overhead throws
10 side-to-side throws (left)
10 side-to-side throws (right)
10 underhand throws
10 chest passes

Three to five "rounds" should do the trick. Time your sets and rest for the same amount of time it took you to complete the circuit. If you're feeling extra masochistic, rest for half the time.

Roll a Three: Tabata Method

Tabata is the name of a Japanese researcher who discovered an interesting way to increase both anaerobic and aerobic pathways at the same time. It's an excellent program for anyone looking to lose fat quickly.

You can essentially use any exercise for this method (rower, jump squats, thrusters, etc.). An Airdyne bike would be perfect, but an upright stationary bike or spinning bike would be suitable as well.

This training method is so simple, yet so incredibly difficult:

  1. For twenty seconds, work at maximum intensity
  2. Rest for ten seconds
  3. Repeat seven more times

That's it! Although it sounds easy, it's guaranteed to be the hardest four minutes of your life.

Roll a Four: Barbell Complex

A complex is a series of movements completed without putting the bar down. Grab a barbell or dumbbells (anywhere from 35-65 total pounds will work great for most people). Walk over to a spot in your gym that gives you a good four feet around. From there you'll perform a series of six movements without stopping or putting the bar down.

The Movements:

Romanian Deadlift
Bent Over Row
Front Squat
Push Press
Back Squat
Dynamic Lunge

You'll perform six reps for each movement. Example: Romanian deadlift x 6, bent over row x 6, etc. Rest for half the amount of time it took you to complete the complex. Repeat for the allotted time (ten minutes). Most people will complete 4-6 rounds. Most people watching you will think you're a badass.

Roll a Five: Leg Screamer

24 bodyweight squats to below parallel (read: below parallel)
24 bodyweight alternating dynamic lunges (12 per leg)
24 jump squats
24 second isometric squat hold (because I said so)

Again, time your set. Rest for the same amount of time it took you to complete the circuit. Three to four rounds should suffice.

Roll a Six: Basic Intervals

Hop on a piece of cardio equipment of your choice and perform basic intervals at either a 2:1 (rest:work) or 3:1 ratio. For beginners I'd recommend a 3:1 ratio (90 seconds/30 seconds). For more intermediate or advanced trainees, I'd recommend a 2:1 ratio (40 seconds/20 seconds).

Final Notes

Try the program for eight weeks. After the first four weeks, take a week to deload, and then begin the program again with different movements.

I've used this protocol with many clients and they've gotten a lot stronger while shedding a ton of fat at the same time. Of course, your nutrition has to be dialed in to reap all the benefits, but it's safe to assume that if you dial it in while doing this program you'll get lean and girls will want to hang out with you.

The beauty of this program is that it's highly adaptable. For most trainees, I'd say switching your deadlift, bench, and squat variation every two weeks would suffice (to keep things fresh). For example, the first two weeks you may perform rack pulls from knee height. The following two weeks you can perform deadlifts from a deficit (standing on an aerobic step or box).

Additionally, you can switch the movements you perform for your "metabolic conditioning" to fit your needs. If you have a bum shoulder, include more horizontal rowing and scapular stability work. If you have a banged up lower back, include more glute activation, spine stability, and single leg work.

The possibilities, as well as the results you could reap, are endless.