What I’m about to advise you to do may sound like blasphemy. You’ll probably scoff at even the mere thought of what I’m about to suggest. And if you dare have the balls to try it, you can expect to be ridiculed and mocked by the gym bros. Your ego won’t be able to take it.
But….entertain me for a second and hear me out.
Seriously, what do you have to lose?
The scale isn’t budging, and you’ve already tried and failed with the traditional advice of HIIT, weights, IM, Paleo, etc.
Give me a shot.
A little outside-of-the-box thinking can’t hurt, right? ? Do you remember the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Even as ridiculous as what I’m about to say may seem, it has to be better than going insane. Right?
And if it makes you feel any better, this was created using a little logic, the scientific method, and about 15 years of experience in the industry as a gym owner and trainer with a handful of fitness certifications. I also have my Doctorate of Pharmacy so if I have to use the doctor’s card to get you to pay attention, I will.
But first…. Let’s agree on a few things.
- You’re trying to lose weight, and it’s not working.
- Currently, the scale is the scoreboard you’re using, and even though you know it’s not the best scoreboard, it’s the most objective scoreboard you have so you want to see it move in the direction you want. When it doesn’t, it’s psychologically devastating.
- You’re using exercise as your main tool for weight loss, and if it’s not the main tool, it’s right behind nutrition. No matter the order, you will not give up lifting weights. The pump is too addicting.
- You’re a guy, and you gain muscle/strength easier than you lose fat. Said in another way – you can increase your squat faster than you can lose 10lbs.
How am I doing? Pretty close?
Ok, so here are a few things we may or may not agree on, but I believe to be true.
- For guys who want the number on the scale to get smaller, weight training can and often does result in the exact opposite because it tends to work better for us as a muscle-builder than a fat loss tool. That’s even the case if you’re doing high rep lifts, circuits, etc.
- The easiest place to add muscle – the legs. The last place we care about adding muscle, especially if we’re concerned with weight loss – the legs. The body part the internet convinces (shames us) us we have to do – the legs.
So, continue to play this game with me and assume all 5 of those statements are true. What kind of outside-of-the-box weight loss plan can we come up with, while remembering we’ve tried all of the traditional approaches and failed?
Ok. Times up.
Here’s what I found that works great for guys who experience weight loss plateaus (or who can’t jumpstart their weight loss) using traditional approaches. It’s a really simple 3 step plan that seems too mundane to work (They said the same thing about Seinfeld) but will absolutely torch belly fat.
Step 1 – Drop the leg weights
That means no squats, deadlifts, or lunges. Don’t even perform a calf raise. And if you do a bootcamp class, tell your instructor you aren’t performing any leg exercises. Even bodyweight squats are off the table. If he/she insists, play the doctor card.
Why does this work?
- The hamstrings, quads, and glutes are big muscles.
- If you’re just starting lifting again, I’m sure they’ve shrunk quite a bit since your high school football lifting days. Thus, any leg exercises will blow them up, and that means the scale will increase. And, even if you’ve been lifting for a while, you’re still stressing your leg muscles just enough to cause them to grow and cause confusion on the scale.
I know. I know. You are going to get bullied for it (skipping leg day, eh bro?), but if you want to see the scale drop, it’s a sacrifice you have to make. Plus, you can jump right back into legs in a month once you hit your weight loss goal. I guarantee you’ll gain any size and strength you lost right back within a few weeks.
Don’t be surprised though if you begin to enjoy just having upper body workouts. If you’re like most guys, squats and deadlifts really beat you up so a short hiatus will do wonders for your recovery and energy levels.
Step 2 – Cut your lifting and cardio volume in half.
Whoa.. So you’re saying not only are we not training legs, but we’re also going to cut the time we go to the gym in half? And we’re supposed to lose weight?
Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying.
- Exercise is a great tool to build muscle and improve body composition, but it’s a poor tool for weight loss. I know you may think you’re burning a “ton” of calories during your workout, but you’re not. And I guarantee after a banger of a workout, you’re eating like a horse because you think you deserve it, which, of course, makes the workout null and void when it comes to weight loss.
- The more you train, the hungrier you get (or the more likely you are to cheat on your diet). The hungrier you get, the more you eat. The more you eat, the more the scale moves in the wrong direction. Plus, we tend to overestimate how many calories we actually burn during exercise and underestimate how many calories we eat. That’s a terrible combination.
So what should my program look like?
Keep it nice and simple.
Monday and Thursday perform back and chest using anywhere from 6-10 sets per body part for each workout. On Tuesday and Friday, perform shoulders and arms using anywhere from 6-10 sets per body part for each workout.
No drop sets. No 1000 rep workouts. Keep it under an hour. 2-4 sets of 8-10 reps per exercise, avoiding complete failure.
As far as cardio is concerned, hop on the treadmill and burn 500 calories a few times per week running at zone 2 pace (~130 beats per minute or less).
That’s it. Seriously. I’m a doctor.
Step 3 – Focus on the food.
I know what you’re thinking – What am I going to do with all of my free time, especially now that The Office isn’t on Netflix?
Focus on what really matters when it comes to weight loss – your food.
I want you to take all of that excitement and energy you put into leg day and put it into your new workout – meal planning.
Yes, I literally want you to schedule a workout either on Sunday or Monday and call it “meal planning workout”. During this grueling hour-long session, I want you to write out exactly what you’re going to eat each day for the next 7 days.
- Calculate your daily caloric goal (10-12 x current body weight in lbs)
- Write EVERY meal and snack out for the next 7 days and make sure they are +/- 10% of your daily caloric goal. I want you to even include what time you’ll be eating these meals and snacks. Don’t worry about your macro’s right now, and definitely do not worry about eating perfectly healthy.
You have only one goal – hit your daily calories. If you have to do that with a Milky Way, a Mt. Dew, and pizza, do it. We’ll find healthier alternatives later. For now, we just want to get used to eating at your daily caloric goal.
Let me say this again – This is your most important workout of the week. Take it seriously and attack it like you attack your bench workout. If you do, I guarantee you’ll smash your weight loss goal.
That’s it. That’s my secret to jumpstarting a weight loss journey and/or breaking a weight loss plateau for guys that have failed using traditional methods.
I know it sounds ridiculous. I know it breaks all of the rules. However, time and time again it’s worked for guys that just couldn’t get the scale to budge.