Today’s blog post comes from my good friend and personal coach, Ryan Faehnle. Ryan earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science while serving in the U.S. Air Force. After college, he became an NCAA Division I strength and conditioning coach at Miami University, where he helped athletes from 20 different sports (from football to ice skating to powerlifting) achieve their physical goals. His abilities were acknowledged from the highest level when famed Olympic strength coach Charles Poliquin welcomed Ryan to his staff.
Coach Ryan has lectured internationally on training athletes, fat loss, hypertrophy, nutrition, energy systems, and supplementation. Ryan has been running a private consulting business for 5 years and has coached both athletes and coaches in the professional ranks and the Olympic Games. I believe in Ryan so much that he’s been single-handedly designing my training and nutrition programs for the last two years!
Without further ado, allow me to hand the reigns over to Ryan.
P.S. The content from this post is taken from a coaching call Ryan and I just recorded. The call is an hour long and goes into more depth on each of the topics below. You can listen to the call here.
P.P.S. Ryan and I are re-opening our 1-on-1, high level physique and performance coaching! We only do this twice per year, so apply here if you’re serious about taking your body to the next level.
Thanks for the great intro Vince! I’ve got some powerful info that I can’t wait to share, so let’s get to it.
1. Eat to lose on the scale.
Take your body weight DAILY and track your weekly average. If you’re not making changes to your average body weight each week, you need to adjust your activity or your diet. I’ve changed my mind on this one (the more clients I train, the more individual science experiments I get to do). I used to be in favor of “recomping” (adding muscle while losing fat)—this just ends up taking too long and it’s far more effective to do dedicated fat loss and muscle building phases.
The only people who will drop body fat while gaining enough muscle to keep the scale from moving are:
- people coming back from a long layoff (e.g., surgery)
- cardio kings and queens who are new to hard training with weights
- people who take anabolic drugs or people who dramatically adjust their dose of anabolic drugs or change compounds
Calories are king (I’ve changed my mind on this one too). This doesn’t mean that you necessarily need to measure them, it just means that calorie balance is the over-arching principle that guides change.
Principles such as macro distribution, nutrient timing, food quality, solid food vs. shakes all matter too, just not to the degree that calories do. The practical application of this is that when you’re somewhere and you’re not prepared with food, at least make sure you nail your calories and you’ll do minimal damage (don’t hit the “F-it” button!).
2. Choose an eating approach that you can stick to and is appropriate to your goals.
Arguments on the internet are stupid—both clean eating and flexible dieting involve 90% nutrient dense food and 10% “whatever” food. The difference between them is simply having “whatever” food every day (with flexible dieting) versus saving it up for a cheat meal or cheat day.
Fasting does work for fat loss, but if having muscles is your goal it’s not a great option. All of the benefits of fasting can be had with a 12-hour fast (basically the amount of time that elapses between most people’s dinner and the next day’s breakfast). There is no need to go any longer without eating!
Ultimately, the only thing that matters is that you achieve the desired result. As such, the “best diet” is simply the strategy that works for YOU.
Whichever strategy you use, you do need to have a muscle protein synthesis stimulus at least 4 times per day to maximize lean tissue gains and preservation. About 3 grams of leucine are required to stimulate protein synthesis, so each of these 4 stimuli need to reach that 3 gram “leucine threshold.” Having about 30 grams of whey isolate or 5 ounces of chicken (measured raw) are two examples of ways to reach that threshold.
3. Keep carbs as high as possible for as long as possible.
Carbs fuel the thyroid, which enhances metabolic rate. In fact, a mere 1% increase in thyroid output results in a 7% boost to your metabolic rate! When you drop carbs below 120 grams per day, you suppress thyroid output and decrease your metabolic rate.
Carbs also power weight training workouts and allow you to work harder. When you have the energy to crush your weight training session, you’ll significantly elevate your metabolic rate for the following 48-72 hours due to excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).
You should consume carbs before and during training (in addition to your post-workout carbs). After all, you’re not burning much fat DURING lifting workouts—it’s anaerobic (carb-fueled) activity. Then, at the very end of your fat loss, you can pull these carbs as another “trump card.”
4. Push protein up to 1.5 grams per pound body weight.
After the first few weeks of cutting and dropping body fat, you should increase your protein intake to 1.5 grams per pound body weight. Pumping up the protein intake works wonders for a successful cut:
- Increases the thermic effect of food and enables you to drop more body fat for your calories eaten
- Prevents muscle catabolism—you get to keep your hard-earned muscle which keeps your metabolism in high gear
- Helps with satiety—you’ll feel more full and have an easier time keeping cravings at bay
5. Move more—a lot more!
Pick one of the following and milk it until it’s no longer giving you results—then choose another and repeat the process. Don’t do it all at once!
- Increase lifting frequency
- Increase non-exercise physical activity (gardening, grocery shopping, going to the mall, standing desk)
- Add in HIIT or steady cardio sessions
6. HIIT vs. Steady State Cardio
HIIT is more effective for fat loss because it’s very metabolically demanding, but it comes at a cost—it is very demanding on the central nervous system (CNS) as well. If your CNS is overworked, your lifting workouts will suffer and your progress could stall.
If you’re only lifting 3 times per week and want to add some cardio, HIIT is definitely the way to go. On the other hand, if you’re a bodybuilder who’s already doing 6 hard anaerobic lifting sessions per week, steady state is the better option (if you want to do HIIT, just keep it to 2 short sessions per week max).
If you only have 1 or 2 times per week for cardio, try combo cardio. Start with a 10-20 minute HIIT session followed by 20-45 minutes of steady state work. Another option is to alternate HIIT and steady state—for example, 30 seconds of maximal effort heavy resistance cycle sprint with 5 minutes moderate cycling between reps for 45 minutes or so.
Combo cardio is an excellent option because HIIT releases fatty acids from the fat cells into the bloodstream and the steady work burns them for fuel.
7. Train for hypertrophy!
Many people make their lifting workouts look like an aerobic step class when it comes time to shred body fat (total body training works well but it must be HARD and unable to be sustained continuously).
Hypertrophy training will help you retain your hard-earned muscle while you diet. After all, you want to have shape when you get lean; you don’t want to be a skinny stick with no muscles!
Hypertrophy training also helps to mitigate some of the negative affects that dieting has on your anabolic hormones. Finally, hypertrophy training utilizes a lot of glycogen, so you’ll have more room for delicious carbs in your fat loss diet.
Try the 2-4-6-8 method: 4 exercises, going from moving weight to more contraction and intention-based exercises.
- Chest Workout—rest 15 seconds between exercises; rest 4 minutes between sets
- A1. Bench Press – 5×2
- A2. Barbell Decline Press – 5×4
- A3. Dumbbell Incline Press – 5×6
- A4. Cable Chest Flye – 5×8
Are YOU ready for a program that implements every single one of these strategies to give you the best possible results in the shortest amount of time? Apply for 1-on-1 coaching, the most cutting-edge, customized training and nutrition coaching available! I’d love to have the opportunity to show you what you’re capable of.
Which of these rules are you most excited to implement? Which rules are you confused about? Leave your comments below!
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