Time to get ultra ripped & lean. As I mentioned in my previous post, Winter Sleep Is Over – Time to Ramp Up Your Conditioning, warm weather is returning and summer time is about to strike. Over the winter I worked hard on building my physique and ate food ad libidum like an unstoppable tractor. This food destruction lifestyle culminated in my bodyweight shooting up to 88 kg (193 lbs) at the beginning of March. However, as the warm season forces me to wear less clothes and show off more skin, it’s my responsibility as a dedicated trainee to present myself in a well-conditioned state with little bodyfat.
For the next 6 weeks (14 April – 25 May), I will follow my own definition of getting my body in tip-top shape. Please note that my height is 185 cm (6’1″) and on 14 April my starting morning weight stood at 84.4 kg (186 lbs).
Goal #1 – Get my body fat into single percentage numbers (~7%)
I haven’t done a DEXA Body Scan to accurately determine my current bodyfat level but I am judging from the pictures I would guess it hovers around 11% at the moment.
Goal #2 – Clean up my diet
In the past few months I have been a bit loose with restricting certain food items. I don’t go overboard on sweets like chocolate or gellie gums. But I definitely went overdid with delicious homemade cakes/pies on too many occassions. Eating them was pure bliss and I don’t regret it one little bit. But for now it’s time to cut back on these and reconquer my food discipline.
Goal #3 – Get so lean that I can see the muscle striations on my quads
Obviously not as extreme as Dennis Wolf’s crazy legs – but close. It seems that my quads don’t like to be as lean as my other body parts. In week 6, I will draw as much water from my muscles as I will handle without getting myself too dehydrated.
Diet Principles I Will Use
Moving the body into single digit body fat numbers will probably depend 90% on getting the diet right. This is what every pro bodybuilder will tell you and this is why they start dieting down towards a contest roughly 3-4 months out. Check my favourite bodybuilder, Evan Centopani, describing this idea in The Process.
Even though I hate the word „diet“ (it carries so many negative connotations), what the next 6 weeks will be is essentially a diet. However, not your typical diet from a glossy magazine, i.e crazy caloric restriction, constant food cravings, yoyo effect afterwards etc. Instead, my thinking around a diet that will get my shredded revolves around the following principles:
1. Carlories actually matter.
I don’t care what certain Paleo diet gurus like to propagate about total caloric intake not being significant for fat loss. My experience, and the experience of million others who have dieted, is that if you create a caloric deficit you will lose body fat.
Now, how big that caloric deficit will be is subject to individual body type and metabolism. This means that there will be room for individual variation. This is very important to realise and most people miss that point. A 500 kcal deficit per day may be ideal for your fat loss but maybe my fat loss metabolism (=lipolysis) works most efficiently closer to a 1000 kcal deficit per day. My current baseline caloric intake is around 3500 kcal/day. This serves for maintenance only. During the diet, I will probably sway between 2500-3000 kcal/day to create the necessary caloric deficit needed to progressively shed body fat.
2. Eat enough protein to stay satiated.
I have no intention of starving myself to achieve the level of leanness I want. It’s no fun to walk around most of the day feeling hungry and constantly craving certain foods. This is why I will eat enough protein to feel satiated. No surprise here – protein does a wonderful job at accomplishing just that. This means that for the next 6 weeks I will consume a lot of eggs, beef, fish and cottage cheese.
3. Lower-carb on non-workout days.
I have previously written about how I auto-regulate my carb intake depending on how physically active I am. This means that on days that I don’t work out and sit more, my carb intake will be lower (<150 g/day). Please note that this WILL NOT be a no-carb diet. Having no carbs in your system makes you feel miserable, downregulates metabolism and messes with certain hormones (e.g. cortisol or thyroid). When I tried no-carb diets for a few weeks, it gave me cold hands and feet and I generally felt like shit.
4. Big carb refeed 2 days per week.
I will be in the gym for 2 heavy barbell workouts per week (upper & lower body). These will also be the 2 days that I will load up on the carbs (mostly white rice & sweet potatoes). I love backloading my carbs in the evening and this whole concept jives well with auto-regulating my carbs based on activity levels. Check out John Kiefer’s well-researched book „Carb-Backloading“ for more detailed info.
5. Intermittent Fasting (IF) every few days.
Creating a caloric deficit means actually eating less calories. No brainer, right? Well, some people just don’t get it. I used to do Intermittent fasting (IF) in the morning for 1.5 years but finally started integrating more breakfast into my diet. However, for this diet I will go back to IF. Because you fast for a substantial part of the day (~12-16 hours), it’s a great tool to create that necessary caloric deficit for the day.
I usually wake up pretty hungry. But the morning hunger usually fades away pretty quickly if I load up on a well-brewed cup of coffee. I will then usually go without food till 2 PM or so. After that, I will have 2 big meals during the remainder of the day. Not only do I get to look forward to these big delicious meals, the fasting period also enhances my cognitive function and I get to be more productive. In addition, if you fast, you will always chase a caloric deficit – which is necessary when dieting.
Photos Work Best to See Results
Robb Wolf takes raw pictures of his clients before and after a diet intervention or workout program. He claims that the mirror will always win against the scale or measuring tape when it comes to tracking your physical transformation. I couldn’t agree more that taking !
Who cares if you lost 10 pounds if you still look like shit. Who cares if your biceps grew by half an inch. All people will care about and pay attention to is your body as a whole package – your level of leaness and how much muscle you carry on your frame at the same time. If the proportions are pleasing to the professional eye, all that you could care about is to get this right. Also, the way you can create that spacy symmetrical 3-D depth look with muscle at the right places will be appreciated among people.
With that said, below are my pre –„Lean & Jacked Program“ pictures. In 3 weeks, I will report back on how my diet is going when I am halfway through it: