Last week I spoke about Intermittent Fasting (IF) and how it has worked for me, in conjunction with a healthy diet and lifestyle. Over the first part of this year I managed to maintain a low body fat percentage, around 9%, and at the same time increase lean muscle by over 2kg. IF certainly played a role in this, however, it was not the only factor at play.
What else would determine changes in my body composition? Training is most probably the first thing that comes to mind. So, yes, I trained on a regular basis, probably 5 times per week or thereabouts. This was nothing over the top, essentially Monday to Friday with the occasional second training like a short fast 10 minute run into work.
What kind of training you do can have a big say on the changes that take place within your body, not just appearance but internally, and often the hormonal response to the training done is the biggest feature at play.
So what training was I doing for that time? Did I solely stick with hypertrophy style training in order to promote the most new muscle formation possible? The short answer to this is No. I definitely did incorporate some hypertrophy work into my weeks, but if you recall from last week, one of my goals was to increase my strength.
I set to work on increasing these two lifts: back squats and dead lifts. This meant doing some concentrated maximal strength training for these movements (I generally followed the Westside Barbell Method for maximal strength) as well as all of the appropriate accessory and supplementary lifts that compliment these lifts.
So I spent a lot of time and effort lifting big weights!
Here is a clip of me lifting 170kg squat from a high box- hips above knees at the bottom range- with a slight pause. Heavy stuff!
These were incorporated into my training week within a thought out program that also included some hypertrophy work to increase muscular size in some of my week points in order to then make them stronger. I also included some high intensity resistance training such as the Advanced German Body Composition Training I spoke about a few weeks ago. The intention of this was to increase my resting metabolic rate, increase my lactate build up resulting in an increase of growth hormone production, as well as a number of other hormonal responses, all of which designed to burn body fat and increase lean muscle formation.
Some other factors came into play with my training, however, and one of these was injury. I mentioned this last week, but for the first 8 weeks or so this year I had a nagging injury to my right shoulder. I was seeing a couple of musculoskeletal therapists about this and working through fixing it with treatment and remedial exercise.
What this meant, though, was very limited training of my upper body. Consequently, instead of following the routine of many guys in the gym- bench press, lat pull down, bicep curl, lateral raise etc (we’re all familiar with ‘beach muscles’), my programming was mainly aimed at strength for the lower body lifts, remedial upper body work, with some high intensity resistance training and interval training here and there. Sadly with the relatively lame shoulder any specific ‘Human Flag’ training was out.
This brings me back to what I mentioned earlier- What kind of training influences body composition and more appropriately, What training impacted on mine specifically?I did mostly heavy lower body weights, some hypertrophy, limited light upper body work and some hardcore- sweat blood- high intensity training.
An example of some of the high intensity resistance sessions I did:
It appears that this highly strength based training allowed me to drop body fat AND increase muscle mass. Not only that: but the startling thing to most people is that the majority of this lean mass increase did not go where you may intuitively think it would- my lower body. It went on my upper body.
So, how did I put size on my upper body?
Good question right. Well, this is something that happens with concentrated training of the big muscles of the lower body. These guys make up over half of the muscle mass in the body, so training them as I did, with a lot of load, not only increased strength but promoted growth in the upper body via the mechanism of increased testosterone and growth hormone (GH) production. In short, the amount of training load I put on my legs stimulated testosterone and GH to levels that, in harmony with the little training I did do on my upper body, resulted in reasonable lean mass gains to my trunk.
So what are the take home points for you?
- Even if you are injured, there are ways around still training and remaining on track towards your goals,
- Understand the effects of big bang training- big muscles and big movements- and how this impacts on your body composition as a whole, i.e. leg training doesn’t just effect your legs,
- Correct and concentrated training in tandem with a top rate diet including focused pre, during and post training nutrition, plenty of quality sleep and little unnecessary stress, allows body fat to disappear and your lean and shaped body shine through. In other words: your six pack.
Outside of promoting muscle growth and a decrease in body fat, an increase in GH will help boost the immune system, builds bone and connective tissue. These will all be affected by sleep and nutrition as well. Sounds familiar…
This was of course in concurrence with the abovementioned Intermittent Fasting, in my case a weekly 24 hour fast, and consequent weekly increase of awesome quality calories but as a part of an overall healthy diet, week and existence that is Mike Campbell.
This stuff did work and continues to work for me.
What does this tell us?
Well, firstly I think it says if you want to change your body- you can! You don’t have to be severely over weight to lose fat, nor do you have to be new to resistance training to put on new muscle. If you have the right habits in place, push past your pain barrier and get outside your comfort zone from time to time, and commit yourself to set specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed goals coupled with the desire to reach them, you can.
I’m not saying this is the only way, far from it. However, this is my story, and this is what works for me, consistently. I am not, however, a one trick pony, and will try and use many other training methodologies where appropriate.
Do you have an interest in training, getting lean, increasing muscle, maintain optimal health? Girls, do you want a hot arse? I’ll attack that more specifically over the next couple of weeks. Would you like to know more? I’d also love to hear from anyone who has any success stories you’d like to share. Comment below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
This doesn’t have to be impossible- my health can be your health.